I read the Pat Condell interview a few days ago on 'The Freethinker'. There are a few interesting tidbits of information, but chief among them was the announcement that The Richard Dawkins Foundation is issuing a 'not for profit' DVD of the first 35 YouTube videos posted by Pat Condell.
Quite what a Heavyweight intellectual like Dawkins is doing supporting Flyweight Condell I don't know. And don't be fooled by the 'not for profit' tag either. I worked in a 'not for profit' organisation for many years, the trick is, you see, to call the 'profit' by another name. I have no doubt that Condell is being paid for what is his content, and rightly so.
I'm part way through Dawkins' 'The God Delusion', and have found it on another intellectual plane from the 'common sense' Condell trots out. The more I read Dawkins, with his scientific reasoning, the more I'm intellectually offended by Pat Condell, and that really does take some doing!
I find it a shame, then, that The Richard Dawkins Foundation is supporting Condell and his bigoted diatribes. It will do nothing but drag the name of Richard Dawkins into the gutter. Perhaps Dawkins is thinking that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. Maybe that is his reasoning, but to sully his reputation by supporting a clearly blinkered and bigoted view of religion, and Islam in particular, will not do him any favours amongst open-minded religious folk, or even those atheists who can see through the transparent arguments put forth by Condell.
Dawkins mentions 'consciousness-raising' a lot in his book. He wants to raise the consciousness of the public with regards to understanding the implications of science, especially where science impacts or disproves elements of religion. And that is fine. But how is supporting a non-scientific 'comedian' going to do this? Especially when, in this very blog, I have personally disproved, in a rational manner, the majority of what Pat Condell has to say about Islam (hey, I've only analysed 3 of his videos, lots still to do!).
Putting that subject to rest, and carrying on with my tradition of analysing what Pat Condell says, there are a few other interesting points that Condell raises.
When asked what he likes about the Internet as a medium, Condell replies:-
We no longer have to ask someone else’s permission to communicate with a wider audience.
I’ve been criticising religion for years, but only in comedy clubs. Whenever I tried to do it in the mainstream media I was censored, especially by the BBC where jokes about the subject are always heavily edited, and it’s virtually impossible to say anything at all about Islam.
The internet allows all of us to bypass these self-appointed gatekeepers and communicate our ideas without interference.
Is it just me, or do I detect a spot of bitterness in there? Perhaps one of the reasons that Condell was censored by the BBC was because, well, his material simply isn't funny enough. Maybe it be as simple as that? Condell mentions that
...somebody alerted me to LiveLeak, a site with a more newsy edge than YouTube...
Huh? I think Condell is trying to have it both ways. He is billing himself a 'comedy' act, but claiming it is 'newsy'. Whilst this is not unheard of, when it is done on mainstream TV, there is at least the pressure to get your facts right. Fortunately(?) for Condell, there is no editorial team (or should that be 'self-appointed gatekeepers'?) to stop him from passing something off as truth, when in fact there is no truth in it.
On his stand-up, Condell says this:-
I haven’t worked the circuit full time for years. I wrote my last show specifically to say something about religion.
Yes, well, when your act is mauled by the critics, I'm sure it gets harder to find work. I think Pat Condell is being less than honest with himself if he thinks that he was being censored by the BBC for the religious content of his material. You can throw out jokes about religion (and culture) and be funny on the BBC, as Omid Djalili proves time and time again. The critical word here - and please do take note Condell - is 'funny'.
When asked to describe his personal philosophy, Condell says that he is a vegetarian, and he 'strongly' supports animal rights. One wonders, how strongly? Strongly enough to send death threats and dig up the remains of an innocent women? Probably not. Pat Condell would no doubt be disgusted at this sort of radical animal rights activism, and yet, he probably cannot see the ideological similarities between it, and, say, 'radical' Islam? Should we ask Condell to apologise for the behavior of radical animal rights activists in the way that he calls for Muslims to apologise for all Muslim behaviour? Of course not. That would be a idiotic thing to do. Does Condell genuinely not see this blindingly obvious fact, or is he just conveniently ignoring it?
As for my opposition to religion, it’s not about theology – I couldn’t care less whether God exists or not – it’s a civil rights issue. I believe everyone should be free to determine their own experience in life and not have it imposed by someone else. We don’t need our reality filtered through religious dogma any more than we need spring water adulterated with chemicals.
How strange. Having based his entire range of YouTube videos on the premise that God does not exist and religion is only followed by people too stupid to think for themselves, Condell abruptly states that he 'couldn't care less' if God exists? Surely, if there ever was any overwhelming evidence as to the existence of God - either way - it would have an impact on Condells' life? If God was proved to exist, would Condell still make anti-religion rants? And if God was proven not to exist, surely Condell would have to find something else to talk about, as the debate will have been settled once and for all. Though even I would not begrudge him a smug 'I told you so' video. Just the one though.
It seems that 'everyone should be free to determine their own experience in life', as long as your 'experience' does not contradict that of Pat Condell and his army of 'freethinkers'. If it does, you are quite obviously a demented religious nut, and should not be allowed to express your opinion.
Finally, on the subject of 'resisting the growing influence of religion', Condell issues a battle cry:-
If you hear somebody claiming special treatment because of their faith you’re entitled to say: “No, I object to this. It offends me, it insults my beliefs, and it’s a violation of my human rights.”
Use their tactics if you feel strongly enough. Make a nuisance of yourself. Make an official complaint. Take it to a tribunal. As an atheist you’re part of a minority whose beliefs are constantly ignored and marginalised while religious prejudice is pandered to and encouraged, and you have every right to be offended by that.
What examples of people claiming special treatment could Condell be talking about? I've yet to hear one from him, no doubt I'll catch one at some point! Condell believes that Atheists are part of a minority. The 2001 Census clearly shows that Atheists make up at least 14.6% of the UK population. As an ethnic group(?) they are second only to Christians. Muslims, on the other hand, make up 3.1% of the population.
Surely, the argument that Muslims (and Sikhs, and Hindus, and Jews and Buddhists et al) are being ignored and marginalised holds as much water as Condells' assertion that Atheists are being ignored and marginalised? I doubt Condell would recognise this view, but it would be interesting to put it to him.
In a democratic country, the majority rules. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Over 70% of the UK is Catholic, and Condell has proven that this is incompatible with his way of life. If he doesn't like it, why doesn't he leave the UK and move to a country with no official religion. Like China.