An embarrassment of malice and stupidity

It’s quite an extraordinary phenomenon: people exchanging nasty and stupid communications like the below not only with people they know are sufficiently nasty and stupid to take it at face value, and to spread it further – but they send them out far and wide, to friends, to family, to acquaintances, to the community at large, apparently confident that these views are actually likely to be held by a majority of their countrymen; apparently unaware of how embarrassing it really is.

For example, this utter idiocy sent to a friend of mine by a member of their extended family:

IMPORTANT

AUSTRALIA WILL BE HOLDING A CENSUS IN AUGUST

DO NOT LEAVE THE “RELIGION” SECTION BLANK. BE SURE TO AT LEAST TICK CHRISTIAN (OR YOUR UPBRINGING FAITH).

1,000,000 MUSLIMS WILL TICK THEIR BOX.

10,000,000 AUSTRALIANS WILL LEAVE IT BLANK THEN WONDER WHY A MOSQUE IS BUILT IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOOD!!!

PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS.

Um, no, I don’t think I will, because I don’t want them to think me a paranoid loon. Anyway, what’s wrong with a mosque in my neighbourhood? Do you think my kids (well, cats; I only have cats at the moment) will CATCH MUSLIM? Instead of the Christianity they’ll catch by walking past one of the many local churches?

And… what do you think the connection is between the survey and the building of mosques? Do you think the government is going to start building mosques? One in every street that houses a muslim, perhaps? Seriously?

And… “10,000,000 AUSTRALIANS WILL LEAVE IT BLANK”? Wow. Given that we non-religious types haven’t yet managed to remove marriage discrimination, and we’re still contributing taxpayer money for school chaplains instead of qualified counsellors, and apparently NSW is about to lose ethics classes because Fred Nile would rather the kids of non-religious people sat quietly in a room once a week contemplating their impending eternal torment… well, I’m impressed to learn that we’ve apparently managed to talk the millions of Australians who filled in actual religions on the last census into not doing that this time. How did we do it? Was it reminding people that if they say they’re Christian they’ll be assumed by politicians to be represented by that crank Jim Wallace of the Australian “Christian” lobby? Was it a general discomfort about what organised religion had been doing in their names? Or was it the evil secular humanist mind-control ray we’ve installed in every computer screen?

(It definitely wasn’t the last one. Forget I said anything. Fooorrgettt.)

It is sad to think that there are those out there who are so disconnected from reality that they could actually believe the above. Who are so determined to believe that their base discomfort with other cultures is something to be proud of, something to hope others share, something to justify any paranoid fantasy no matter how absurd.

These people need help. They need to be encouraged to question the sillier bits of their delusion until they start to see through the whole rotten edifice. And then they can start to unpack the hostility towards their fellow human beings that prompted them to accept something so nasty and hollow.

I don’t know that I really want to ask this – but what disturbing rubbish have those in your extended circle been sending you? Did you let them know, gently, just what you thought of it, and try to help them rejoin the rest of us?

UPDATE: Best retort to this I’ve seen:

@jonathonoake Remember to put ‘male’ on your Census forms, otherwise the government will build a Fernwood gym in your area.

SNAP.

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29 responses to “An embarrassment of malice and stupidity

  1. I’m putting Ceiling Cat. Jedi was so last census.

  2. I’m putting Creeping Sharia.

  3. Well, okay, but I think the cats and I are with Andy. Ceiling Cat all the way.

  4. As I’ve said before, I’d rather live next door to a mosque than a racist.

  5. Oh, and to answer your question, I have someone who forwards me every stupid piece of crap known to man. Stuff that was going around the internet 10 years ago. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve actually blocked this guy at the server level. Before that, I was replying to select emails with a link to the Snopes article disproving what was being said in the original.

  6. My cousin posted a message that’s almost identical. Except this version ended with “It’s not about religion, it’s about keeping our way of life”. It got 7 “likes”, so I couldn’t let it go unanswered. I left this comment:

    There’s another way: tick “No Religion”.
    If you never go to church or read the Bible, then that’s the honest answer (or you can write in “agnostic”, “atheist” or “humanist”).
    If you never go to church, you might not realise what they actually believe and the unfair things many Christian groups try to get the government to do. If you think the Australian way of life is about a fair go for everyone, most of the major Christian denominations are not for you! (Only choose one if you actually agree with their agenda.)
    Millions of Australians will tick whatever religion their parents ticked and then they’ll wonder why the government is wasting money on untrained school chaplains instead of qualified counsellors or more teachers for public schools!
    http://www.rationalist.com​.au/component/content/arti​cle/242

    I got one “like” and my cousin promised to write “Jedi” instead (proving that he wasn’t really Christian at all). I don’t think he ever really meant any harm, he just didn’t give it enough thought.

  7. Very good points made by nwb81. Don’t just put down the religion of your birth if you don’t believe in it. Counsellors are needed, not proselytisers.

  8. Basement Cat for me.

  9. Maybe I can sneak in an actual funding need under the guise of a religion and make mine ‘house the homeless’

  10. My response when I got this was to say that I preferred living next door to a mosque than a pokie palace run by Catholics or a church infested with kiddy fiddlers, so I would definitely be ticking ‘moslem’. Didn’t have the guts to copy in all of the original recipients but it did force the sender to send an apology to everyone for his lack of sensitivity. Mnd you, now that I’m out of the country for census night I am unable to strike a blow for logic.

  11. “OR YOUR UPBRINGING FAITH”

    Yes, because if you are baptised a Catholic/Anglican/whatever when you were born, you are doomed to be one forever. It’s the stain you can never wash off, so you better not lie about it on the census form or you’ll go to hell.

  12. “Do you think the government is going to start building mosques?”

    Actually, town plans usually zone certain areas as “for a house of worship”, just as other areas are zoned for schools and hospitals, even if they aren’t built until long into the future. So if the census shows a sizeable number of Muslims in an area, then it is quite possible that the town council may allow a mosque to be built on that lot instead of a church.

    It’s still stupid though that the believers want to prevent that by artificially inflating their numbers by adding non-believers to the count. Instead of their usual tricks of stacking the town council with fundies to vote against the proposal in council or staging loud protests that scare the council into doing things their way. It’s so silly that they think the census is the determining factor.

  13. “Actually, town plans usually zone certain areas as “for a house of worship”, just as other areas are zoned for schools and hospitals, even if they aren’t built until long into the future. So if the census shows a sizeable number of Muslims in an area, then it is quite possible that the town council may allow a mosque to be built on that lot instead of a church.”

    They usually have both. And I don’t see why “houses of worship” should be treated as a special amenity for which towns plan anyway – surely they can be built at the expense of that religion in whatever non-residential location the religion wants to buy land with its special tax exemption and privileged status over the rest of us.

  14. “IMPORTANT

    AUSTRALIA WILL BE HOLDING A CENSUS IN AUGUST

    DO NOT LEAVE THE “RELIGION” SECTION BLANK. BE SURE TO AT LEAST TICK CHRISTIAN (OR YOUR UPBRINGING FAITH).”

    My wife got this email from one of her bigoted, ignorant ex-colleagues. They want me to lie? How Christian of them.

  15. Terrible and simultaneously so stupid its quite amusing
    Totally unrelated, but you did ask for other examples of disturbing rubbish. My fury was sparked by a number of FB friends using this status the other week:
    “In Australia – The Homeless go without eating.
    In Australia – The Elderly go without needed medicines.
    In Australia – The Mentally ill go without treatment.
    In Australia – Our Troops go without proper equipment.
    In Australia – Our Veterans go without benefits they were promised.
    Yet we donate billions to other countries before helping our own first.
    Have the guts to re-post this. 1% will re-post, 99% won’t.”

  16. Jeremy, should that principle also apply to religious schools and private hospitals? We only plan for government-run institutions, and everyone else needs to find an out of the way industrial estate? As much as I am against special treatment for religion, town plans can’t be entirely secular. Easy walking distance to the facilities that citizens use regularly should be the criteria.

  17. aussiedingo1983

    While I’m sure some or all of you are joking about doing it, just in case any of you really are intending of putting a joke answer to that question on the census, please read the link that nwb81 posted above.

  18. narcoticmusing

    So if the census shows a sizeable number of Muslims in an area, then it is quite possible that the town council may allow a mosque to be built on that lot instead of a church.

    And I’m yet to see any Jedi temples despite the census results. This ongoing oppression must stop.

  19. Outdated mythical beliefs using racist fear to prop up the dwindling number of delusional followers………….
    Looking forward to seeing Australias true Atheist percentage.

  20. narcoticmusing

    notasheeple – I’m assuming you aren’t referring to Jedi, sure it has been a while since a film but it is still older and more relevant than scientology.

  21. A while back I got a chain email from my Aunt telling me I shouldn’t buy anything with the halal symbol on it. I replied and asked her to refrain from sending me that stuff (and to her credit, she has).

    For a while I thought, because I wasn’t getting the emails, they had stopped circulating. Silly me.

  22. I know someone who had the actual census-form-deliverer say that to her. She was a bit stunned to say the least. I helped enlist the forces of good (and the ABS) and the matter is being dealt with.

  23. I wonder how often that happens Rhiannon.

  24. We have a pretty large mosque about 5 or so minutes from home and so I suspect a large number of Musilm families in the area — including my next door neighbours.

    Somewhat surprisingly there have been no suicide bombings in the area nor any calls for Jihad at the local supermarket, and our local kinders and primary schools still celebrate Easter and Christmas…..

  25. @Jules – it certainly didn’t happen to me because the forms were just dumped in my letter box, at a time when my whole family were at home, so the local person did not even attempt to discuss the census with us, let alone warn us about the horrifying possibility of a mosque being built near us. (That’s not supposed to happen either.)
    It’s not a very nice thing to happen – if you leave people alone to live their lives in peace (something that Conservatives are supposed to value, i thought) they tend to just get on with things and their children or grandchildren end up ‘assimilating’ as much as anyone can. I can’t see the point of whipping up pointless hysteria, fear and anger against people who will have their same proportion of nice people and arseholes like any other group of people.

  26. @Glynn Aaron. A girl from my school put up the same status update. I replied that only 1% will repost that status because it is an ignorant, completely flawed statement. She deleted the whole status update after that.

  27. Surely the most noxious thing about this is the contrast between “Muslim” and “Australian”.

  28. I can’t put Ceiling Cat down as a “religion” – the proof of his existence is endless.
    Damn – rules out His Noodly Appendage too!

    Jeremy
    Do you think my kids (well, cats; I only have cats at the moment) will CATCH MUSLIM?

    They seem pretty sure that the Trade Centre dust clouds carried dangerous levels of Muslim.
    Hence their conniptions about the “Ground Zero Mosque” (which isn’t a mosque and isn’t near Ground Zero).
    And the urgent need to innoculate the site against Sharia (with a crucifix-shaped girder scrap).

    Can’t make this shit up!

    durdlin
    A while back I got a chain email from my Aunt telling me I shouldn’t buy anything with the halal symbol on it.

    A cuisine that also travels under the name “kosher”

    nwb81
    Except this version ended with “It’s not about religion, it’s about keeping our way of life”

    Does the author own an Ed Hardy T-shirt or a Power Balance bracelet?

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