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:
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.