A sikh joke you say?

The Indian population of India and abroad really have to get over this ridiculous insecurity about their many religions.

Hot on the heels of India’s pathetic dispute with Facebook and Google over content that they myopically view as hostile to local religions, comes the Jay Leno affair. And only recently, celebrated author Salman Rushdie was forced to cancel a planned appearance at the Jaipur Literature Festival after threats and protests from Islamist groups, while the Indian authorities apparently turned a blind eye.

Back to the Jay Leno affair: Jay Leno, host of the Tonight Show is in hot water following a quip he made about the Golden Temple in Amritsar being the holiday home of Republican, Mitt Romney. While some sensible Indians (Sikhs included) appreciated the joke and accepted it as quite normal,  it has apparently angered the Sikh community in the USA and in India. They believe that the joke is a deliberate affront to their religion.

However if you watch the clip below, you’ll find that Leno made no reference to Sikhs or the temple itself. So you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

The obvious answer is that like the adherents of all other religions in the world, the Sikhs have this obtuse notion that their god or gods require constant defending against perceived attacks, both from adherents of competing religions, heathens and non-believers alike.

How utterly pathetic?

It’s time you life-sucking god-botherers grew up and started attending to the real problems in the world, not the imaginary ones that seem to make up all these pointless religions we have.

Reading is about to become a lot more pleasurable

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I finally joined the world of the chic and got the Amazon Kindle earlier this week.

And yes, it’s a little beauty. I’ve already spurned the paper versions of three books that I’m currently reading, by purchasing the e-Book versions for my new Kindle. They’re lying on the table right beside me as I write [type] this, looking rather rejected with their paper bookmarks sticking out like drooling cardboard tongues.

And naturally I got a little carried-away and bought a stack [can I still call it that?] of books – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Choice of Hercules by A C Grayling, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie and the Believing Brain by Michael Shermer (Audiobook version), among the one’s I haven’t read yet.

But one of the books I bought among that lot mentioned above, that’s intriguing me the most at the moment is The Good Book: A Secular Bible by A C Grayling. It’s styled along the lines of the  King James version of the Bible, but presents meanings, morals and values from a secular or non-religious viewpoint.

…All who read this book, therefore, if they read with care, may come to be more than they were before. This is not praise of the work itself, but of its attentive readers, for the worth to be found in it will come from their minds. If there is anyone who learns nothing from this book, that will not be attributable to faults in it, but to that reader’s excellence. If readers judge candidly, none among them can be harmed or offended by what it asks them to consider. Yet all who come hungry to these granaries of the harvest made by their fellows and forebears, will find nourishment here…

If that excerpt from the introduction is anything to go by, I think I’m going to be wrapped up in this book for a little while…

Maybe Censorship Should be Banned

I recently came across a link to a site where Philip Pullman, author of Northern Lights, better known as The Golden Compass (adapted into a film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig), discusses how his book was challenged by various, mainly religious bodies, who demanded it be banned from the public library. Apparently, this bunch of ignorant theists deemed the book to be anti-religious.

Phillip goes on to recount how a group called the Catholic League objected to the release of the film which did result in bad box office takings, but sales of his book went up quite significantly. Even a bishop from La Crosse County, Jerome Listecki, warned Catholics not to see the film, ludicrously claiming that the movie was just “the first part of a trilogy that expresses hatred of Christianity and that portrays God, the church and religion as evil and oppressive, and urges children to join fallen angels in a rebellion against God.”

The Golden Compass is not the first book to attract such a vicious and absurd backlash from the religious hate-mongers, nor will it be the last. The successful Harry Potter series of novels has attracted disdain from the lunatic religious fringe in recent times, and don’t forget the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the killing of Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children and the Satanic Verses. This kind of dark ages mentality is indicative of the lengths that the religious wing nuts are prepared to resort to, in defense of a severely discredited and hate-filled dogma known mundanely as religion.

Phillip Pullman quite correctly points out that the “inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone.” This simple fact however will not stop the lunatics from trying. Although all progressive (mostly democratic) countries propagate free speech, religions in these countries, enjoys unwarranted protection from being criticised. And it gets worse. These same self-appointed “keepers of morality” demand the right to decide what should be published, what should be censored, even what is taught in schools. In reality, even statistics show that those who proclaim to be the most religious are invariably the most corrupt and immoral.

Phillip sums it up quite nicely as follows:

“In fact, when it comes to banning books, religion is the worst reason of the lot. Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.”

“My basic objection to religion is not that it isn’t true; I like plenty of things that aren’t true. It’s that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.”