Most famous people, or even moderately well-known people, get it into their heads somewhere along the line that the world will stop turning if everyone doesn’t hear what they think about subjects completely unrelated to the thing they got famous for.
As a result of largely embellished notions of cultural importance and inflated perceptions of self-worth, each and every individual human who happens upon even a momentary queef of notoriety is immediately imbued with the belief that their opinions are absolutely crucial to the survival and proliferation of mankind as a whole.
This concept has existed since time immemorial; the more fame one achieves, the more they feel the incessant need to spread their beliefs to the unwashed masses, usually in a misguided attempt to ‘save’ those that they perceive to be ungodly, immoral, or simply wrong.
This makes sense to me, and although I do find it annoying and off-putting, I also understand the behavior and recognize that while in many cases the results can end up irritating and offensive, the fundamental motivation is one of good intention, however ignorant and misguided the implementation may be.
Right out of the gate I’d like to say that this is not a good look for anyone, no matter how noble or righteous the cause may be. Using your platform as an artist or entertainer to spread your personal beliefs is not only embarrassing and arrogant, it’s also just plain tacky, even to people that might agree with what you’re saying.
Clever readers may have already guessed that the direction this is heading in will inevitably arrive at the recent statements made by Mike Reynolds, Guitarist of Christian metal outfit For Today, and wholehearted proponent of the teachings of his homeboy Jesus Christ.
You’ve probably already read them by now if you keep up with such things, as the story has been making it’s viral rounds through social media, but if you haven’t you can see the offending twitter rant here, though if you don’t care to do so I will also explain the gist forthwith.
Reynolds basically used his soapbox to decry homosexuality as a sin and infer that one cannot be both Christian and gay, at which point the internet shit its collective pants and commenters poured in from all sides both from people who agreed with the sentiment, as well as those who thought it to be a pretty not good thing to say.
I’m so sorry ma’am, but you’ve contracted Christian Homophobia. You have 8 months of cognitive function left at most before becoming a self-righteous douche that nobody wants to hang out with.
The shitty thing about all this, aside from the obvious intolerance and general dick-face-ery of the matter, is how it only serves to further misrepresent the many people of faith that don’t give a cherubs’ rosy ass cheek about other people’s sexual orientation, and are simply content to take comfort in their chosen web of beliefs and ideals and let everyone else do the same with theirs.
It’s frankly shocking how many people speak out, quite heroically, in defense of gay rights, only to instantly render themselves a hypocrite by peppering the statement with their own blatant hate speech towards anyone that rocks a crucifix. It makes the side of good appear just as tarnished and hateful as those who they rally against, and turns an opportunity to potentially open minds and incite a change of ideas into yet another in humanity’s infinite instances of “I disagree with you so much that I actually want you to die.”
Given that the most recognizable figures of any faith are usually the craziest, it’s really easy to think that all religious people are bat-shit crazy bible thumping sacks of insanity. Like super easy. So much so that mockery and disrespect has become the default stance of anyone that doesn’t believe in some incarnation of higher power.
Well, quite frankly it’s difficult to say that this isn’t a logical reaction to a faction that largely represents itself with controversial opinions based on ancient fictional texts, public displays of hatred and intolerance, and a general air of superiority over those who disagree with them. It is however worth mentioning that it doesn’t take a psychotherapist to realize that there are better ways to go about explaining why those people are wrong than sinking to the same level and doling out your own brand of hate-mongering filth. Anyone who’s ever trained an animal can tell you that biting a dog will not teach it not to bite things, and I’d like to think that it’s commonly known that fighting fire with fire is the worst goddamned idea ever.
The fact is that a great many religious people are smart enough to know that not every word of their ancient book is meant to be taken literally, and as such have no interest in making you feel terrible for whom you choose to love or fuck or marry. So not only does the ignorance of people like Mike Reynolds offend the supporters of gay rights, but it also shovels another load of shit and criticism onto the plate of the many people that never said anyone else’s way of life was a sin, but simply don’t want to think we’re alone on this depressing and merciless rock, spinning without direction through an infinite void, surrounded by naught but the cruel, violent truth that this existence is empty, meaningless and random.
Personally, I can’t blame folks for preferring the idea that there’s a giant dude up in the sky that created everything. Or that he’s watching over us, with a plan, and the promise of something better someday.
Unfortunately, my basic knowledge of space and evolution coupled with my all-encompassing cynicism prevents me from subscribing to the same paradigm, but I certainly don’t think buying into it makes anyone inherently bad or stupid. It’s human nature to search for meaning, and faith offers that. It’s just a sad truth that another aspect of human nature is to take the shit you believe really, really seriously, and start mad beef with anyone who doesn’t feel the same.
The point I’m gradually inching towards is that I think a crucial step towards erasing feudal beliefs and endless wars of opinion like this one would be commonly accepting that no matter what, nobody is ever going to agree on everything, ever, and blanketing entire ways of life with attacks on belief and lifestyle isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, but rather further divide us.
What Mike Reynolds said was stupid at best. At worst, it was dehumanizing, oppressive, and wildly ignorant. I’m not attempting to defend that, and the tidal wave of internet warriors that have rallied to crush him in the wake of his words are a sign that there’s hope yet for our ailing race of naked apes. This is a good thing.
A bad thing is the confused but well intentioned among the aforementioned ranks that fired back with a viewpoint that was equally degrading and incendiary, because not only will that strategy fail to open a civil dialogue, but it will also render the counter-argument just as juvenile and ill tempered, and it’s difficult to appeal to someone’s sense of compassion and humanity while insulting their beliefs and slandering their chosen existential mascot.
The fact that our digital age has opened the floodgates for these subjects and others to be freely discussed is a huge boon to our evolution as a species, but nothing will change if we simply use the medium to continue throwing stones at each other and coming up with innovative new ways to insult those with whom we disagree.
Those who build a following as entertainers or celebrities should be allowed to use that audience to get their message across as they see fit, no matter how awful or barbaric. Because as shitty as people like Reynolds are, we here in the western world tend to pride ourselves on our notion of free speech, meaning that to deny a fool like him his right to speak his mind would be a crime against the very rights we strive valiantly to protect.
But one must also be careful not to alienate or outright condemn anyone else in the process of getting their meaning heard. Reynolds chose not to do so, and is currently dealing with the fallout of that mistake, as he has since left the band following the explosive controversy he created. But it’s still important to realize that we can’t say it’s all well and good to have free speech when the cause is pure and noble only to turn around and silence those who offer an opposing view, to do so would be having our cake and eating it too.
And we all know that the cake is a dirty fucking lie.
The issue of musicians making ridiculous statements about subjects they’re not qualified to comment on did not by any means start with Reynolds, either. Artists have long been known for being outspoken about their opinions, and when those opinions happen to be congruent with our own, we rarely bat an eyelash. When Rise Against make statements about deforestation and animal rights they’re universally accepted and promoted by just about everyone, because fuck yeah, bro. Trees and animals are the shit. When Bono spouts off about aids and starving children we all quietly wish Bono would just shut up already, but still generally tend to feel for whoever he’s trying to help.
But when significantly nuttier, less politically correct public figures make statements that slide further from proactive change and closer to feces-tossing lunacy, our patience for celebrities with opinions runs out pretty quick. But when Dave Mustaine makes baffling quotes about Obama’s birth certificate and curing a man’s cancer by grabbing his throat, among many other priceless examples of obvious delusion, he’s instantly burned in effigy by everyone with internet access that doesn’t suffer from similar mental defects. Speaking of mental defects, Ted Nugent’s certifiably insane tirades have made him the butt of many jokes as well, such as this one;
The reason for that is obvious, most of us prefer sane, rational ideas over jarringly fucked up radical bursts of complete horseshit. There’s nothing wrong with that, and the emerging trend of vigilant watchdogs calling people out on their ridiculous claims and accusations bodes well for the future of humanity. Please, do not stop doing this. Wherever possible, draw as much attention to anyone’s logical failures and ideological skullduggery as you can.
All I’m saying is that it’s a slippery slope between pointing out the irrational fallacies and moral ineptitudes of an individual without lowering yourself to the same sophomoric attacks and tasteless verbal shit-kickings that made them look so ridiculous to begin with.
My only request is that when defending what you think is right, take care to phrase your arguments carefully, because when you take it upon yourself to fight for a cause, you immediately become a representative of it, and if you use the same extremist mentality to combat those who’ve offended your beliefs, the line between right and wrong becomes invisible, and suddenly you’re just another random douchebag threatening harm or wishing physical violence on someone you don’t agree with on the internet.
And that’s not a good look for anyone.