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Warning: You May Be Insulted

(x-posted on Skepchick)

I really wanted to give one final comment on the whole PZ vs. the Cracker debacle, and then I decided I wouldn’t because the whole thing just annoys me to no end and has been beaten into the ground. Then at the last second I changed my mind again. Here we go.

The reason why it’s still on my mind is because we talked about it on the most recent episode of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, prompting a flurry of activity on the message board and in our in-boxes. In our discussion of the topic, we basically reported the facts (boy takes eucharist out of church, some Catholics freak out, PZ offers to desecrate the eucharist to prove it’s just a cracker, some Catholics freak out even more and physically threaten him) and added our commentary about how we all agree that some of the Catholics in question really did totally overreact.

The responses we’ve received fall into two basic categories:

wtf: Most people seem to think the whole thing is funny, and it’s just a cracker, and let’s all just calm down. I happen to agree.

omgrude: Some people have written to us (or on the message board) to tell the world they think PZ is rude. Most start with, “I’m not a Catholic but . . . ” and go on to say it’s just rude to go out of your way to piss off a bunch of hardcore theists. I agree, it is rude, and also sometimes necessary. But, I understand why some people find it not to their tastes.

A percentage of the omgrude crowd is upset because they do not think PZ’s words help further the skeptical movement because he won’t convince any of the hardcore group that they are crazy. I agree that he probably won’t convince many true believers, but I disagree that he doesn’t help rational people. Just about any time someone dares to point out the absurdity of irrational thinking, he does a great service to many other rational thinkers who were too scared or unsure to say so themselves.

Did Trey Parker and Matt Stone convince any true believers when they called John Edward the Biggest Douche in the Universe? Probably not many, but I bet they influenced a lot of young people who might have been on the fence. There’s no one right way to communicate skepticism, and for every Trey & Matt we need a Carl Sagan. For every PZ, we need a Julia Sweeney or a Hemant. If one isn’t to your taste, you’re free to ignore him, but it’s short-sighted to claim that person is hindering the “skeptical movement” just because he’s not your bag.

My point in all this is that there are several legitimate ways to disagree with the way I and my fellow skeptics feel about the whole deal. What really annoys me, though, are the (few) people who have written to us to tell us that we have no right at all to mock the beliefs of these Catholics. Here’s just a portion of one we got the other day:

I just endured ten minutes of you mocking a belief that, I assure you, is not solely held by “fanatical Catholics.” The (admittedly) irrational belief in Transubstantiation is ingrained and at the heart of our faith. . . . It was not pleasant to hear a group of normally irreverent-but-humorous skeptics whom I have come to enjoy engage in deliberate mocking of my faith for an extended period.

I had to read the full email several times, because I just could not comprehend it. I understand and happily accept that many readers of this site and listeners of the podcast are theists, but I suppose I always assumed that they were the most rational kind possible. People who pare away all the testable claims their particular brand of religion makes, ending up with a fuzzy, generic kind of belief in something bigger than us that cannot be tested. That’s okay with me — I have plenty of good friends and family who are into that. On Skepchick, we have people who disagree on the existence of gods, the efficacy of organic farming, the value of libertarianism, and I love that they all are are open to having their beliefs challenged.

I figured that if anyone who is a regular listener or reader holds on to an irrational belief, once it is pointed out to them they examine it critically and give it up if necessary. If they accept that their belief goes against all reason and want to keep it anyway, they could at least have the good sense to gloss over criticisms and not get involved in discussions about it.

But to admit that you hold a provably irrational belief and then to get upset when rational people joke about it on a podcast that regularly features rational people joking about irrational beliefs? That blows my mind. I can’t even understand how someone could seem so normal and yet blatantly ask that we give his weird belief special treatment. Hell, I could at least start to understand had his argument been that we should avoid tackling that weird belief because it’s so widely held (I’d still disagree, but I’d get it) . . . but no.

It’s the email quoted above that finally convinced me to write just one more time about this topic. That email convinced me that on the podcast, where we pretty much just gave an overview of what happened, we didn’t spend nearly enough time mocking the belief in transubstantiation. I’d like to correct that right now.

Transubstantiation is a ridiculous claim. Basically, the idea is that during communion, bread and wine literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus even though to all appearances it still seems awfully bready and winey. These days, “to all appearances” seems to mean that even if we put someone in an FMRI while he chows down on Jesus, we won’t be able to tell that he’s eating anything other than bread and wine. His system will digest these items at exactly the same pace as any other bread and wine, and in a few hours he will pee and poop substances that don’t look in the least bit Christ-like. But it’s still Christ! Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like every pseudoscientific claim in which the effect disappears when under a microscope because “science can’t detect it!!!” like Chi or homeopathy or The Secret or dowsing or psychic kangaroos (I made that one up but I bet someone, somewhere believes it).

You probably think that there’s no evidence for transubstantiation, but you’re wrong. See, at the Last Supper, Jesus handed his guests some bread and said, “This is my body,” and then handed them some wine and said, “This is my blood.” Had Jesus sang “I’m a Little Teapot,” then today we’d see Catholics worldwide carefully choosing communion vessels of appropriate height and stoutness, ensuring that each one has both handle and spout for the dispensing of His Holy Oolong. Metaphor: not the fundamentalist’s strong suit.

To anyone who wasn’t raised believing something like that, it’s obviously total BS. To people who are raised believing that junk, it might take them some time to mull it over before seeing that it’s total BS. Like the emailer I quoted above, it might not be pleasant to realize that your specific paranormal claim is not off limits just because it falls within the bounds of your religion. If you enjoy laughing along with us when we’re talking about other silly paranormal claims, I hope you learn to accept the fact that one day we might just spend ten minutes talking about your paranormal claim. If you can’t handle that, I suggest you find a more reverent group of people to entertain you.

74 comments to Warning: You May Be Insulted

  • Oh God! Give me a time machine so I can go back and rewrite the bible to include tea pots…

  • irishjazz

    Ok… guilty of trying compose a smart concluding sentence and failing… always a danger. How about:

    “People are skeptical of the irrationality they see in others but often blind to the irrationality in themselves.” Or just cut the damn sentence altogether.

    As for the “Appeal to Authority” – perhaps. But if you require atheism as part of the definition- which, in context- was what Dr. Novella’s definition excluded- then you exclude all of the agnostics and the skeptical theists- including people like Martin Gardner, whose “Science: Good, Bad and Bogus” was my introduction to the skeptical movement. That, more than some deepset belief of my own, is the reason I think there should be an inclusive definition.

    PD: Having admitted my flaws, I have to say I am fulltime skeptical about any statement as self-congratulatory as your “full-time/part-time” assertion. There are people who agree with you and people who do not, and others, including me, for whom it is a bit of both.

    And Guru… if you get the chance.. switch the Holy Land to China. No tea in the Promised Land.

  • SinFidel

    We can agree that:

    Steven Jay Gould referred to the religion and science as “separate magisteriums,” able to co-exist without conflict as long as they kept to their own side of the line. Neither militant atheists, famously Dawkins, nor Fundamentalists find this formulation satisfying. But whether you ultimately agree with it is a respectable and defensible position

    But I think the point here is that the specific beliefs in question here clearly and unequivocally do cross that line. Whether bread spontaneously transforms into the flesh of a human being when ingested under very specific circumstances is a scientific question.

    Incidentally, the answer is no, it does not.

  • Reverend, regarding not knowing how someone could be a catholic skeptic, look up George Santayana, good example from my understanding, tho he was an Athiest, so it just gets more complex from there and moves in your favor for the current context.

    Speaking of which, what does any of this have to do with if PZ is being an ass or proving he is a great chess player? Focus shifting off the action to the people discussing the action it seems.. isn’t there a fallacy for that?

  • I hope you weren’t seriously making fun of people who believe in Psychic Kangaroos. You’ll have them hopping mad. Crikey.

  • irishjazz says:

    Perhaps Catholic Skeptic is a chimera (a bit like “Irish jazz”) but I think it is possible (in the Febolian sense) to both self-identify with a religion and still believe in the scientific method and have a skeptical approach.

    Well, I guess we have to agree to disagree on that. In my opinion the combination of scientific method and a good skeptical approach fairly conclusively rules out God (at least a personal God that cares what happens to you) completely. My skepticism also prompts me to approach with caution the idea of an ineffable, inscrutable Creator of Everything as well, but at least I can understand why someone would believe in that kind of thing.

    As for skepticism = atheism, that false equivalence has been addressed at length on the boards and by Dr. Novella.

    I’m aware of that discussion and I won’t go into it here. I don’t believe it is a false equivalence LF, if argued on base terms. You can read about my stance as an atheist here if you choose, and I would be happy to chat about it on my blog if that interests you.

    I do think Jon has a point when he asks us to turn our skeptical view upon ourselves. Why we believe what we believe is at least as interesting as what we believe.

    Platowannabe says:

    regarding not knowing how someone could be a catholic skeptic, look up George Santayana,

    I know a little of Santayana, who in my appraisal was a person so soaked in Catholic faith that he could never quite convince himself to give it up. Hence his terribly confused self-description as a ‘Catholic Atheist’. I have friends who are exactly like this – my feeling is that their indoctrination is so thorough when they are young and impressionable that a deep-seated fear (of loss, or punishment – who can say?) prevents them from ever quite letting go.

  • Hey Rebecca

    Just stop it with the psychic kangaroos. You can make all the fun of pseudoscience and religions you like, but you are dissing all Aussies when you pick on our kangaroos.

    Have you not heard of Mewtwo? I guess not. Look it up then before you go making fun of him. He can change the weather all over the world you know. So there.

    And if you think there are just a few psychic kangaroo believers, I Googled psychic kangaroo and got 1.29 million hits. Catholic kangaroo only got 786 thousand.

  • Steve Page

    By Geo-Steve on Jul 22, 2008

    Its almost as if he knew the people in the audience would look at the original round one and say, “I don’t know, that doesn’t look much like the god I know”, but then thought that if he broke it into a little person (no head or legs, mind you) it might look a bit more Christ like.

    If only Jesus had handed out a gingerbread man, it would’ve saved your priest a lot of effort. 🙂

    I happen to disagree with the premise that antagonistic skeptics like PZ do damage to the skeptical movement, as the only people that seem to care are those with entrenched, untouchable religious beliefs, or those who believe that by merely being polite and reasonable, the believers will eventually come around to our way of thinking.

  • irishjazz

    On this many-headed debate, several people have raised the same point as Steve Page- suggesting that the more critical of PZ view (“OMGRude” in the lovely Rebbecca’s pejorative term)are hoping “by being merely polite and reasonable the believers will come around to our way of thinking.”

    First, this is a straw man argument. The more religion tolerant among us are not looking for converts. I’ve never seen Febo, or Magrat, or any of the others who have posted indicate that they want other people to come around to their point of view. In fact, it takes a certain love of argument to defend religion in these most secular arguments.

    The same cannot be said of the atheists among us, who insist that their conclusion is the only truly skeptical one. There is a good argument to be made for this conclusion, my opinion is that it is not the only argument. Purity of atheist belief, to me, seems like a mere replication of what I don’t like about religion. (This position was roundly mocked on South Park.)

    As for PZ damaging the movement, it depends on whether you define damage as hampering the goals of opposing woo or injuring group cohesion. If the latter, controversy can be a big help. I agree that taking a radical stand can rally people around you. There are any number of successful social movement with controversial leaders. (There does seem to be an inverse relationship between level of controversy and group size. That idiot with the “God Hates Gays” sign is the extreme example… maybe the Dali Lama on the other end.)

    But if the agenda of this movement is less ambitious than full-scale atheist conversion – stopping ID in schools, exposing frauds, raising awareness about fake medicines or getting them to question the psychics and phonies on TV – then, perhaps, insulting the 80+% of them who have religious beliefs, however fun, may not be tactically sound.

    I am not an idealist. I don’t think the believers will ever “come around to our way of thinking.” And, however effective cookie desecration is as a recruiting tool, I respectfully suggest we need allies more than converts.

  • EC flyer

    Ok this is my first post here so go easy on me.

    I have to say that I can at least understand the anger of Catholics in this case. PZ went out of his way to basically publically embarrass the Catholics in this instance. Now, do the Catholics in turn have a right to send death threats and other nasty emails? No. However, PZ and the boy could have picked a better way to make it known they think the transubstantiation is silly.

    Obviously we skeptics aren’t going to win over the hardcore faithful, but we have a legitimate shot at winning over people on the fence. I personally have seen this happen. But it requires some diplomacy. I’m not saying don’t state that transubstantiation is silly, but if you go out of your way to antagonize Catholics your really not helping matters.

    After all, skeptics and scientists already have the label of being cold and arrogant; do we really need to perpetuate that myth?

    In my experience when you approach the faithful like PZ did, all you get is a shouting match. What we want is a logical argument where you can at least get your point across; therefore showing the faithful why you think transubstantiation is silly.

  • irishjazz

    I happen to disagree with the premise that the believers will ever come around to our way of thinking. Being nice won’t make a difference, neither will in-your-face stunts.

    Idealism is nice, but for the foreseeable future we need allies, not converts.

    I note that only the people on the WTF side are talking about conversion. Atheist evangelists? WTF?

  • Jeremy Rosen

    I find the surprise at the flurry of activity and the type of activity around this to be disingenuous. When listening to the episode earlier in the week this exactly what I expected to be the result.

    In fact, I assumed it was calculated to bring about exactly this type or reaction.

  • Jon Blumenfeld


    You think Rebecca and the gang were calculated this reaction? No disrespect to their assume powers of media manipulation, but HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

    Oh, my.

  • I have to admit, I was a bit torn on this subject as well. I grew up Roman Catholic. Catholic schools and everything. And I thank them for teaching me enough about my own religion that I stopped caring for it. Now I’m a full blown atheist.

    But at the same time, I feel its rude to ridicule others based on their beliefs. Nobody likes that straight edge guy who smacks beers out of your hand, right? My take on this issue was that there was a bit of overreaction on both sides, plus some trolling on PZ’s part. I do applaud him though, because he succeeded immensely.

    All in all, I think we can be skeptics while still being respectful to others. Except for Mormons. Those guys are wacky!

  • otakursed

    What the criticizers of PZ fail to understand is that his “desecreation” was a show of solidarity. That the poor student, who now is threatened with (ironically enough) expulsion, had someone with some weight in the atheist community who could keep him from being trampled by the outraged theists while a silent media looked on. No, it’s not entirely constructive, but how many college students do you know that make sober judgements all the time? And “first amendment” rights in regard to the ‘net is laughable, initally(heh) because the first word in the abbreviation www is ‘world’. And secondly that every board online, that isn’t government sponsored, happens to be bought and paid for by someone in the private sector. Therefore they reserve the right, like any restaurant, bar, or store you can name, to eject you for objectionable behavior. And what one group finds objectionable another might not(like, derr, that’s not what this furor-rally is all about), thus the joke.

  • otakursed

    ummm, okies, I realize that referencing a “silent media” was kinda stupid, as they were all over the church, helping to incite the mob. Perhaps ‘twould be better said that PZ helped folks recognize exactly what Webster Cook had done. And that was ABSCOND with a FRACKIN’ CRACKER! Donohue is comin’ across more and more like Javert, I swear.

  • noyfb

    What PZ did is nothing less than sacrilege, and nothing more than a pathetic publicity stunt.

  • Do venezuelan catholics worry as much about frackin caracas?

    There’s got to be a better joke in there…

  • “My crazy catholic friend is from Venezuela.”


    “Yeah, he’s TOTALLY mental!”

  • otakursed

    So PZ performed the usual victimless crime Catholics do when not wearing a cap on their head when outside or bowing toward Mecca a half dozen times every day. How very fragile is this deity that he can be insulted by someone taking a wafer? Of course, it’s not he who’s insulted here, but the devotees . . . which shows that they value their opinion more than their omnipotent deity’s, else they’d let him handle it. Surprisingly enough, it may be that TAX DOLLARS paid for those god damned crackers, so any citizen ought to have the right to take one.

  • mmortal03

    If I remember correctly, PZ has said in at least one interview in the past that the bad wrap that proceeds him in religious circles often disappears when they actually meet him in person and find that he has a nice disposition, that he doesn’t mock them, and that he focuses on the arguments and facts. Unfortunately, his comments here go against that prior description of himself. Yes, the death threats against him were totally wrong, but his action of antagonizing these Catholics also wasn’t right.

    All of this discussion reminds me of a debate which has taken place at the Beyond Belief conferences, about whether or not one should be diplomatic when speaking publicly against religion and the like.

    Rebecca describes the “omgrude” messages she received as all starting off with “I’m not a Catholic but . . . ” and then going on to say it’s “just rude to go out of your way to piss off a bunch of hardcore theists.” She says that she agrees, that it is rude, and also sometimes necessary. But, she understands why some people find it not to their tastes. Now, I happen to disagree that it is sometimes necessary. There are other ways to get people’s attention other than rudeness.

    Dan Dennett, at Beyond Belief 2, thought up an eerily similar grouping of the responses he has gotten as Rebecca has here; they were what he called the “I too am an atheist, but…” crowd, which was how he grouped those who were atheists, but disagreed with the manner, language, and tactics that Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and himself had used in their books and talks. The issue here is whether or not being antagonizing, mocking, abrasive, ignorant, and insulting of these others’ beliefs is worthwhile, or whether, we should instead take a more diplomatic approach.

    Melvin Konner gave a talk at the first Beyond Belief conference that argued for being diplomatic and empathetic towards others, and Jonathan Haidt gave a talk at the second Beyond Belief conference along a slightly different topical line (liberal vs. conservative, instead of theist vs. atheist), but coming to a similar conclusion about needing to consider others’ perspectives when discussing issues like these.

    I fall into this latter group’s thinking, as well, and agree with the posts here from EC flyer, Febo, and Maki. The following is one argument that I might make as to why I agree with using a diplomatic, logical, and considerate approach.

    Psychologists and neurologists have relatively recently returned to the area of human emotions as a serious field of research and have produced worthwhile evidience and theories regarding how emotions exist, arise, and develop in people. Sadly, religious beliefs are something that are indoctrinated and instilled in many people early on, and the emotional connection that they develop then toward these irrational beliefs lead them to later in life “become offended by” certain things that others would not. Certain cognitive therapies can be applied to help these people later address and hopefully get rid of such conflicting emotions in their minds if they are ever convinced to needing to, but they take much more work to remove these scars from people than the time it took to initially instill them. Cognitive biases arise or are effective due to these kind of underlying emotions in people. Antagonizing them about these feelings is generally not very helpful. In psychology, the advice given when dealing with a disagreement like this is to not assume that someone’s emotions or feelings are “wrong” on the matter, but to, instead, thoughtfully describe things to them from your own perspective, and then let them work it out themselves.

    I just don’t find it to be very considerate of them, if we want to treat them as human beings, to just push their buttons so needlessly, and jokes can easily turn into mocking depending on the context, which, I think is what happened here. There are perfectly good arguments we can use against other views which completely avoid such antagonism. We need to be the bigger ones about this in how we approach them.

  • mmortal03

    I furthermore found some of the responses above to be off base:

    Rebecca: “it might not be pleasant to realize that your specific paranormal claim is not off limits just because it falls within the bounds of your religion. If you enjoy laughing along with us when we’re talking about other silly paranormal claims, I hope you learn to accept the fact that one day we might just spend ten minutes talking about your paranormal claim.”

    Actually, I don’t think laughing along at other paranormal claims is why one should come to SGU. “Laughing along” means you are also often laughing AT some other group. I’d rather just cover the facts about them and leave the ridiculing for somewhere else. Challenging their beliefs is fair game, but it can be done without mocking.

    jonny_eh said that “It’s all fun and games to criticize other people’s strange beliefs, but if your own strange beliefs are examined/ridiculed all of a sudden you’ve gone ‘too far’.”

    Here’s that same reasoning again. No, actually, there is a difference between “criticizing” other people’s beliefs and mocking or ridiculing them. It is never fun and games to do the latter. There are better ways to handle the issues than mocking or ridiculing.

    Jon Blumenfeld said “Seems to me, sitting here on my porch in my rocking chair, that if Catholics were really confident in their belief system, they ought to be able to take a little ridicule, and even welcome it. If I knew I had the truth, and others made fun of me, I’d smile knowingly and maybe, if I was feeling nice, take time out to disabuse them of their foolishness. Kind of how I feel about the scientific method, actually.”

    Yes, actually, many Catholics would act that way, but that shouldn’t give anyone the right to attack or ridicule them, just because they might be able to take it, nor should you expect them to all act nice and congenial after you do those things.

    Other people above gave anecdotes like “they used to be Catholic but weren’t offended”. Well, just because some individuals in this discussion aren’t offended by what went on here just means that they fortunately don’t have the emotional triggers in their brains that others do have on this. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean that everyone else will, or that you are right and others are wrong.

    Rebecca states in the OP that “In our discussion of the topic, we basically reported the facts (boy takes eucharist out of church, some Catholics freak out, PZ offers to desecrate the eucharist to prove it’s just a cracker, some Catholics freak out even more and physically threaten him) and added our commentary about how we all agree that some of the Catholics in question really did totally overreact.”

    In fact, in the podcast, Rebecca did more than “basically reporting the facts”. She did report some of the facts second hand by paraphrasing, but she also did it in an antagonistic gleefully liberal manner, throwing around the Catholic Church’s terminology haphazardly regarding the Eucharist, with delightful ignorance of how they should be properly referenced. Catholics never call it a cracker, for one thing, and it really only superficially looks or tastes like one, anyway. I know that seems really insignificant, but those kind of inaccuracies build up and start to tick people off, especially when SGU is wanting to come across as basing their commentary on “the facts” and being professional about it.

    Here’s some of the statements from the podcast, which were intermixed with giggling and chuckling at various points, and definitely pushed buttons and seemed very biased: “Supposedly, the Catholic priest turns this cracker into Jesus and you actually eat the flesh of Jesus…like they actually believe that the wafer turns into flesh, which is really gross, but set that aside for a second.” “The Catholics FREAK OUT over it.” “Bill Donahue, of, I believe it’s called the Catholic League, he, uh, kind of FREAKED OUT about the whole thing.” “So, uh, PZ says, you know, it’s just a cracker, let it go.” “Bill Donahue sent his MINIONS to not only pepper PZ with e-mails, but write to his employer to try to get him fired… and [they] sent actual death threats to PZ…over a cracker! It was pure INSANITY!” “All over a cracker!” “…this cracker kerfuffle!” “The thing is, they gave him the cracker, and he didn’t sign anything saying I will eat the cracker on your premises and not hold it hostage!”

  • mmortal03

    Finally, I have to comment about the logical fallacy that was brought up on the podcast about people thinking religious freedom requires others to treat their beliefs as sacred. I agree with it in principle, but I think there is a nuance that was missed. I don’t think anyone is demanding that the SGU or others should behave as if the Catholic Church’s beliefs about the Eucharist are sacred, but that they should at least use the proper terminology regarding it and research the documented reasons behind the rules the Church has first before they so flat out joke about it and mock it. I was raised Catholic myself, and while, sure, I now agree that transubstantiation is a scientifically implausible and unfalsifiable claim that I don’t buy, there is more significance to this belief to Catholics, and to many other Christians, than just some cracker turning into Jesus meat. There are even specific rules in the Catholic Church regarding the proper treatment of the Eucharist. For example, they make sure to get all the crumbs back into the proper storage container after the hosts have been dispersed, they have rules regarding if one of the wafers is dropped on the ground, they have rules on who is allowed to take part in communion or not, etc. Once you know the rules behind it, these Catholic’s initial reactions (but not the death threats, of course) don’t seem so “insane” or of someone “freaking out”. The comment about the boy not having signed anything saying he was to treat the wafer a certain way was completely oblivious to any of these rules that the Church has. The kid had surely been taught that he wasn’t supposed to do what he did. He didn’t have to “sign anything” (and yes, I know Rebecca was just joking, but it’s the facts that are off that just made that sound completely uninformed).

    Now I know these Catholic rules themselves all seem so silly to be so structured around something so seemingly inconsequential to outsiders, but that is all more the reason to get all the facts from both sides before joking around about stuff, because jokes become mocks if it turns out that the beliefs happen to be important to the other people in question and the context is so off.

    To put all this into perspective, SGU has discussed many nuanced reasonings behind their own skeptical viewpoints on certain topics in the past, and I think they respect the fact that certain nuanced views therefore also exist among other people’s worldviews. Joking about other people’s views while being gleefully ignorant of the details can be quite dangerous and offensive.

  • @mmortal03
    I have some sympathy for your view. I remember Neil D Tyson calling out Dawkins at Beyond Belief (leading to Dawkins’ infamous anecdote about the New Scientist editor…’science is interesting… and if you don’t agree, you can fuck off.’ comedy gold.)

    You say :”There are better ways to handle the issues than mocking or ridiculing.”

    Not always. If people hold ridiculous views, then they deserve to have them ridiculed. Personally I reserve the right to point out when someone is being an idiot. Even, as all too frequently is the case, when that someone is me.

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