That damn Tony Jones has done it again, saying controversial stuff and pissing off people all over the internet. This time, it was the atheists. Normally, I wouldn’t care because atheists are infidels who are bound for hell wearing gasoline underwear. But why let something as trivial as that interfere with the opportunity to vent a little outrage over stupid blog post?
Does it matter that Jones’ modus operandi is tossing a Molotov cocktail into a crowd sure to be offended by what he says? Hell no, not when it means I get to spend a couple of days all wrought up over a few words that, in the big picture, really don’t amount to squat. Do I care that plastering my outrage all over the internet only widens Jones’ reach and makes an already large platform even larger? Well, maybe a little…, but not enough to stop doing it. As a Christian (and decent human being), shouldn’t I be extending grace to Jones and cutting him a little slack? Please, grace is for me; everyone else gets justice. And, by justice, I mean a merciless, public flogging. While I wish it was an actual flogging, I’ll settle for a virtual one.
Is there some validity to Jones’ claim that “Atheism is almost exclusively the purview of educated, white elites”? We don’t know, because he didn’t include anything to back up that claim. As nice as that would’ve been, it doesn’t really matter, does it? Because, it’s so much easier (and more fun) to go off on someone without having to worry about such inconveniences as truth or proof. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy my outrage and want to vent it whenever and wherever I damn well please.
People like Jones must be smacked down on a regular basis. If they aren’t, they will continue to say things that bring about dialogue on subjects that shouldn’t be discussed at all; especially since that discussion could cause some of my beliefs to fall apart. There are things I don’t want to know, hear or talk about because they make me uncomfortable or make me think (which is pretty much the same thing). Because of that, public shaming and outrage are vital. Without them, how else can we prevent others from expressing ideas we don’t care for?
Let me step out of character and say that I realize this may have stepped on a few toes. In doing so, I hope it made people think, which really what satire is all about. For the record, however, let me state that I’m not defending anything Tony said or that I think he shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of his remarks. What I’m trying to say is that maybe our first response to offensive statements on the internet ought not be outrage, if only because that waters down what our outrage means when it’s actually called for. Nobody likes them, but offensive remarks always include the opportunity to open discussion about change. If your go-to response is a personal attack (for example, calling Tony an “idiot”), that discussion isn’t going to happen.