Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A question

Imagine the situation if the man described in this article had written about racial or ethnic groups what he apparently wrote about religious believers. Would anyone be defending him? Would he deserve to be defended? Would his at least somewhat plausible explanations be heard sympathetically or skeptically?

You make the call.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Dr. K

You raise a good point regarding the double-standard of Christian vilification juxtopposed to racial/ethnic bigotry. Regardless of what this guy wrote about religion (Christianity), he did not do so under the auspices of his station.

Although the original posts in this forum are never of the venomnous nature as Prof. Shortwell, even if were did, I would not expect the rants on a website wholly unrelated to your place of employment to affect your standing with your employer (Dr. Schramm may be a possible exception, simply because of the Ashbrook Center’s ties to the University).

Now, if Prof. Shortwell utilized a University-related medium to publicize his anti-religious thoughts, I could see the outrage.

Of course, the real issue here -- if he wrote racial bigotry in a private journal, and said journal became public, he’d be ran out of town.


I certainly think that had he made the remark, concerning a PARTICULAR religious group or faith, say Muslims or Catholics, it would come close to crossing over into hate speech, depending on the context. But, directed at anyone with religious beliefs of any kind whatever, it seems too diffuse to lead to any form of objectionable stigmatization or discrimination, at least in the abstract. And the context, a blog post outlining his theory about religion as a flight from individual moral responsibility, hardly suggests an intent to incite hatred or discrimination.

It is about the same as atheists being villified as sinners or moral idiots or whatever by the religious.



Shortell also wrote: “T]hose who are religious are incapable of moral action... Morality is based on scientific rationality... ."

Is the intentional killing of a human being by another human being a moral issue? If so, what scientific rationale is involved? If not, why do societies circumscribe this behavior?

It is about the same as atheists being villified as sinners or moral idiots or whatever by the religious.

Rob, can you point to the head of any sociology department that does this?

Sorry to be ot, but where’s Peter these days? He seems to have largely disappeared. Hope all is well!

To Christobel,
On whether I can point to any head of a sociology department who vilifies atheist, not offhand, but I’m not sure why that matters, i.e. the sociology bit ...


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