I saw this by Jazz Shaw on Hot Air:
California atheists block out nativity scenes
posted at 10:30 am on December 24, 2011 by Jazz Shaw
I don’t like dredging up that whole “war on Christmas” thing, but (with apologies in advance to Allahpundit) this story kind of gets under my skin. In Santa Monica, California, there is apparently one particular stretch of road alongside a park which has traditionally been set aside for Christmas displays. The nativity scenes on display have been popular with residents and tourists. But in order to be fair to everyone, the city used a lottery to allocate space to groups wishing to put up Creche displays and related scenes. Now, a group of atheists are accused of swamping the lottery and taking over the lots.
You can follow the link to read the rest. Damon Vix, the organizer of the atheist group, a freelance prop maker who lives in Burbank, said:
I’m part of a growing movement in America of atheists standing up for their rights. It’s a very exciting time for us that we’re having more of an impact in our society. I’m a civil rights activist, and atheists have been discriminated against for as long as I’ve been an atheist — since high school.
Oddly enough, I have, despite my 58½ years on the planet, not been able to recognize an atheist just by looking at him. I can recognize blacks as being black, Asians as being Asian, but, kind of like I can’t tell a Methodist from a Presbyterian — unless I happen to see him walking into or out of their church — just by looking, I can’t just pick out the atheist from the crowd . . . unless he chooses to communicate his beliefs to me. Thus, I can’t discriminate against him unless he chooses to make his beliefs a matter of my knowledge.
And that, it seems to me, begins to call into question just what Mr Vix considers discrimination. To discriminate against (or for) Mr Vix actively, which would be defined as taking a decision which effected Mr Vix in some way, the other person would have to know what Mr Vix’s beliefs were and have some decision point concerning Mr Vix. But what Mr Vix and his allies seem to see as discrimination appears to be somewhat different: they seem to see themselves as being discriminated against if their visual field is encroached upon by symbols of religion.
As regular readers know, the Editor is a Roman Catholic. As it happens, just a couple of blocks down the street from my humble abode is a Methodist church. Now, as a Roman Catholic, I must, among other things, consider Methodism to be an errant belief, just as Mr Vix sees any religious belief as errant. Yet somehow, I do not find myself offended in any way, or somehow discriminated against, because I must pass a Methodist church almost every day.
Even worse, directly across the street from my parish church is a — [horrors!] — Lutheran church. I am compelled to actually see a Lutheran church, a fairly large one at that, every time I go to Mass. Are not these smug Lutherans telling me, with their large edifice with the bright red doors, that my faith is in error?
Of course, if I attempted to make such a claim seriously, all I would get would be derisive laughter . . . and I’d deserve it. Yet that, in effect, is exactly what Mr Vix and his товарищи are saying; the sight of symbols of religious faiths is actually offensive to them, and just having to see such sites constitutes active discrimination. And thus, they must take action to keep from being forced to see these highly offensive visual messages.
Mr Vix and his comrades wouldn’t be the only ones who think like that:
Christmas Attacks in Nigeria Kill 39
LAGOS, Nigeria (Associated Press) — Attacks across Nigeria by a radical Muslim sect killed at least 39 people Sunday, with the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church in a massive explosion after Christmas Mass.
Elsewhere, a bomb exploded amid gunfire in the central Nigeria city of Jos and a suicide car bomber attacked the military in the nation’s northeast as part of an apparently coordinated assault by the sect known as Boko Haram.
The Christmas Day violence, denounced by world leaders and the Vatican, showed the threat of the widening insurrection posed by Boko Haram against Nigeria’s weak central government. Despite a recent paramilitary crackdown against the sect in the oil-rich nation, it appears that Africa’s most populous nation remains unable to stop the threat.
More at the link. Boko Haram1 is an extremist militant Islamist group waging a civil war in Nigeria, which hold, among other things, that voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education are haram, or forbidden to Muslims, and it claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve bombings which killed at least 32 people and injured scores more. The church bombings were aimed at people who were not Muslims, but Christians; about 15% of Nigerians are Catholic. Like Mr Vix, they are offended by having to see other people who have different beliefs; Boko Haram is simply a lot more lethal in the actions they take against non-Islamists.
Mr Vix, of course, is the product of a Western society and Western education, and Western norms of religious freedom. The odds that Mr Vix or any of his comrades would actually plant a bomb are vanishingly small. But, in the end, their lack of tolerance for the beliefs of others is no different from the lack of tolerance by Boko Haram for the beliefs of others; it’s simply that their Western socialization has put acts like those of Boko Haram outside their paradigm.
- People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad (Arabic: جماعة اهل السنةجماعة اهل السنة للدعوة والجهاد, jama’atu ahlis sunna lidda’awati wal-jihad), or Boko Haram in the Nigerian language Hausa, which translates literally as “Western education as sacrilege. ↩