Monday, 10 March 2008

Condell teams up with Richard Dawkins Foundation

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.

16 comments:

DrMaxtor said...

Another fantastic post. Only thing I'd like to add is that Dawkins is no heavy weight, but angry old charlatan trying to rake in some money in his twilight years...

whypatcondellisntfunny said...

Thanks drmaxtor. I do think Dawkins is an intelligent man, it does not necessarily follow that I agree with what he says. But compared to Pat Condell, Dakins reasoning is Premier League, whilst Condell is barely in the Conference.

Ramases said...

I am an atheist and somewhat of an admirer, although not a critical one, of Richard Dawkins.

But I can't stand Pat Condell, and I have heard enough of his ignorant ravings to be totally convinced that they are motivated more by xenophobia and hostility to people in the UK from backgrounds different to his own than my rationality or intelligent criticism of religion.

He makes it clear he does not respect the right of Muslims to practice their religion in the UK, and that Muslims who disagree with him do not (in his words) "belong" in the UK, and should go home.

Condell clearly demonstrates, if one actually listens to what he says, not only that he is NOT a secularist, but that he does not in fact understand what secularism is.
Secularism means two things - separation of religion and the state, and freedom of belief.
In his hate filled ravings against Muslims (which make no distinction between moderate Muslims and extremists) he makes it clear they he believes they do not have place in the UK.
As such he clearly aligns himself with the extreme anti-immigrant right.
Perhaps my position is similar to that of George Orwell, when he criticised much of the extremist rubbish of the left. It was because Orwell was of the left himself that ignorant ravings from the left made him so angry. He strongly believed there were intelligent arguments supporting his positions, and disliked it intensely when people claiming to be of the left undermined them by speaking rubbish.

I would like to see an intelligent, rational atheist movement, not one hijacked by the ignorant ravings of Condell.

whypatcondellisntfunny said...

Hi ramases, I get the impression that there are Atheists who, like you, can see through the veneer of Condells so-called comedy and I truly welcome your input here! There are a couple of other Atheists on YouTube in particular who are more intelligent and more rational, but hey, intelligent and rational discourse doesn't hit the headlines or sell merchandise these days, does it?

As A Muslim, I don't want to force my beliefs upon anybody, but by the same token, I think Muslim women, for instance, should be allowed to cover up if they feel that is what they want to do. It is things like this that Condell is apparently very much against.

I'd also love to see an intelligent, rational atheist movement, and the sooner one can dominate the space that Condell is currently controlling, the better, because then, unlike with Condell, I can have a rational discourse and exchange of ideas and thoughts and move forward with debates instead of raking over the same illogical stuff time and again.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This blog is a bitter wrap up job. Shame you have no edge or foundation to your post on Mr Condell. Full of trite and guesswork based on your own myopic viewpoint. Exactly what you seem to accuse him of but he manages to be a little funny with it.

Anonymous said...

"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?"

You missed the entire point. His argument is that he his against the clergy and the use of religion for profit and domination.

thoughtful said...

I've watched all of Condell's videos and I believe you are mistaken in interpreting his anti-islamist stance as an anti-muslim stance.
He explicitly states that as long as the Saudi Arabian regime holds the reins (and funds), a narrow clique of doctrinaire fundamentalists claim the right to speak for all Muslims.
He has also stated that the inequality of women in Islam is one of the most pressing issues. Hardly anti-muslim, given that women comprise 50% of the muslim world - unless you disagree that muslim women are unequal, or maybe you think there lower status is irrelevant?

Anonymous said...

I agree that Pat isn't that funny. Why? The subjects he is talking about are not funny. The indoctrination of the society to respect "faith" makes it tragic because of the abuse of people by religion.

There is no moderate vs extremist religious blieves. Both use the same books and both pick and choose what to believe, while claiming that it is all word of god. This makes all religion makes religion immoral & hypocritical. It tells people that they can pick and choose what is good and what is bad. Did you hear about any fathwa put on any would be terrorist? What morals do those moderates have?

So, stop playing with words and stop comming up with pseudo-arguments and think about basic human values. Can you name some?

Anonymous said...

Condell has recently shacked up with the right wing UKIP. It is a party that boasts anti global warming nutter Lord Monckton. Condell has shown his true colours as a supporter of irrational fascists.

Chasman said...

...You are so typical... if you do not like what the message is telling you then attack the messenger. Criticise what Condell says not how he says it or how he looks... for christ sake this sort of division is exactly what destroyed the fundamental truths behing socialism!!... When will supposed intelligent people on the same side (usually left!) realise that the barbarian sitting at the gate just needs to wait for them to self destruct before he can move in and take over the sheep who remain!!

whypatcondellisntfunny said...

Chasman, this entire blog has been dedicated to dissecting the nuances of everything that Condell says. If you cannot see the hypocrisy that I've pointed out in Condell, then there is no hope for you.

In this post alone I pointed out the Condell bills himself as a comedian, but wants to portray a more "newsy edge", that his comedy had been soundly rejected by the mainstream BBC, even though the likes of other comedians (like Omid Djalili) do make jokes about religion and get their own series, that his entire range of YouTube videos are dedicated to denying the existence of God, (indeed, his very first video is explicitly a wholesale rejection of God!) and yet he says it is a "civil rights" issue for him, and that although it is a "civil rights" issue he spends a disproportionate amount of time gabbering on about Islam when only about 4% of the people in this country are Muslim and he thinks they have undue influence, when over 14% of the population is atheist and demonstrably have massive support when you look at the honourary members of the National Secular Society, of which Condell is a member... Need I go on?

So no. I'm not typical, as you put it. And why are you bringing socialism into the discussion? Condell has outed himself as a UKIP supporter... what are UKIP but a bunch of... well, yes, National Socialists!

Condell has thrown his lot in with UKIP who have a manifesto pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act. Not change. Not ammend. Not tinker with. Actually repeal the Human Rights Act.

If you think Condell is a lefty. Think again. He wants women to be free to not wear burkhas, so much so that he will infringe their Human Rights to wear one by voting for a party that will outright ban burkhas.... but then, if we have no Human Rights, which is apparently what Condell wants if he is voting for UKIP, then it doesn't matter what the government does in the name of freedom, does it?

How very left of Condell.

Anonymous said...

To all you politically-correct types so anxious to kiss islam's ass to prove you're "tolerant" - hope you enjoy Sharia law, you'll probably be living under it soon enough. People like you make me sick - stop apologizing for western civilization to a bunch of barbarians with a 7th century fascist religion. If they want to live in the West, they have to conform to our standards, we don't have to appease and conform to theirs.

Anonymous said...

Infringe human rights to "wear burkha"? What, in the same way my rights are infringed to wear a balaclava into a post office? Or the same way my rights are infringed to wear a leotard while teaching primary school children maths? Or the same way my rights to travel naked on a train are infringed?

You see - morons - human "rights" don't come from outer space, they are defined by social norms. One could easily consider that a social norm in the Western hemisphere is to be able to maintain eye contact, at least in principle, with other members of society. This does not seem unreasonable.

The burqa has no qu'ranic justification, it is even banned in some middle-eastern environments let alone in the West.
I have heard moderate muslims express they view they would like it to be banned in order to prevent young girls from being pressurized into wearing it. You think every woman wears such an uncomfortable, claustrophic garment out of free choice? You think they would do this if no men insisted open it??

In effect, your tolerance is AS MUCH of freedom as it is of slavery. You are allowing women to be coerced into a state of almost complete exclusion from society, of utter segregation from nearly all possible social and employment spheres, which is precisely the opposite of what the "inclusive and tolerant" society is all about.

There is a limit to how open a society can be if it is able to survive as a coherent, unfragmented democratic institution. The burqa is a symbol of extreme religious fascim against women oversteps the line, and you are playing right into the hands of extremists by not asserting a woman's right to make eye contact with her fellow citizens!

In the UK, especially, this is quite important actually, because roughly 60% of our mosques, and 80% of our Imams, are from the Deobandi school in Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is actually one of the more HARDLINE sects in Islam, and consequently our muslim youth are becoming progressively more ideologically isolated from wider society. Some commentators in Pakistan have expressed astonishment at the naivety of the British government in allowing this particular form of Islam to flourish. I guess this is what happens when you put the trumpeting of simplistic and naive thinking ahead of an education.

Jack said...

Infringe human rights to "wear burkha"? What, in the same way my rights are infringed to wear a balaclava into a post office, or a leotard while teaching primary school children maths? Are my rights to travel naked on a train also being infringed?

"Human rights" don't come from outer space, they are defined by social norms. A social norm in the Western hemisphere is to be able to maintain eye contact, at least in principle, with other members of society. This does not seem unreasonable.

The burqa has no qu'ranic justification, it is even banned in some middle-eastern environments let alone in the West.
I have heard moderate muslims express they view they would like it to be banned in order to prevent young girls from being pressurized into wearing it. You think every woman wears such an uncomfortable, claustrophic garment out of free choice? You think they would do this if no men demanded it of them?

In effect, your tolerance is AS MUCH of freedom as it is of slavery. You are allowing women to be coerced into a state of almost complete exclusion from society, of utter segregation from nearly all possible social and employment spheres, which is precisely the opposite of what the "inclusive and tolerant" society is all about!

whypatcondellisntfunny said...

@Jack

You Say:

""Human rights" don't come from outer space, they are defined by social norms."

Human Rights are "inalienable" regardless of social norms.

Freedom of speech is a Human Right though it is clear that freedom of speech is not a “social norm” in all countries.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

It is the "manifestation of religion or belief" at issue here. What you are implying is that, because of a given social norm - eye-contact - burqas should be banned. To me, this is preposterous.

To take your examples. Wearing a balaclava to a Post Office is only offensive if you also draw a weapon and start threatening people.

Wearing a leotard to teach primary school children probably would not be appropriate - though I'm sure the kids wouldn't mind. This would be covered under your employment contract and therefore you would have had agreed to dress in a way that was acceptable to and reflective of the employer.

We do not have the right to travel naked on a train. The fact is that the sight of a completely naked human body is not appropriate on a train - this is down to social norms. How the sight of a completely covered body is offensive to the public I'm at a loss to explain.

Ideally, we would have eye contact, but if that is your only complaint, it is hardly something that will completely halt communication.

I agree that the burqa has no Qur'anic basis. But inalienable Human Rights mean that people are allowed to hold opinions which you and I disagree with.

You said:

"I have heard moderate muslims express they view they would like it to be banned in order to prevent young girls from being pressurized into wearing it."

This demonstrates the diverse range of Muslim opinion. So far, we agree on the following Muslim standpoints on the burqa:

1) The burqa is required for religious reasons 2) The burqa is not required for religious reasons, but if people want to wear it, they should be permitted to 3) The burqa should be banned.

People are bombarded every day with messages pressurising them into dressing a certain way, to act in a certain way, to smell a certain way, to think a certain way. How do you propose to legislate for people only being able to make decisions within an unpressurised framework?

Dressing like an Emo is not a social norm. Should we ban Emo kids?

You said:

"You think every woman wears such an uncomfortable, claustrophic garment out of free choice?"

No. I don't. But I do think that only a minority Muslim women wears the burqa at all, and the majority of those who do, in the UK at least, choose to.

You said:

"You think they would do this if no men demanded it of them?"

I think in oppressive countries - where what people wear and how they behave is subject to strict legal rulings which they have not democratically voted for - clearly women do not conform willingly.

You said:

"In effect, your tolerance is AS MUCH of freedom as it is of slavery. You are allowing women to be coerced into a state of almost complete exclusion from society, of utter segregation from nearly all possible social and employment spheres, which is precisely the opposite of what the "inclusive and tolerant" society is all about!"

I utterly refute this statement. I am tolerant of freedom of choice. If someone wants to wear a burqa or not, that is their decision.

The belief that women who wear burqas are necessarily oppressed is a fallacy - I've seen many represent themselves and their beliefs through a variety of media and know that women that wear burqas can be very informed about the choice they make.