ReligionSkepticism

Comment o’ the Week!

This one was a close call, folks. Much like last week, one post inspired most of your creative quips, digs, and rants. I nearly gave the prize away to one of the runners-up . . . that is, before I read this narrative from Jackson Skeptical Society, which is long but so very worth the read. I post it in full here, followed by a few runners-up:

+++

While I was one of those people who originally thought “Bullshit” when I saw the “Dawkins v. Pope” headline, I do wish it were true. The British arresting the pope is one of those things I just can’t even wrap my head around.

So forgive me for going on an extended bit of OT.

***

Hitchens stomped the pedal and drove like a man trying to avoid being waterboarded. The 2008 Vauxhall Corsa scraped through traffic, sparks left and right.

“He’s getting away!” He shouted, throwing hands on the horn and swerving to avoid a pedestrian.

Ahead, the stark white Popemobile loomed large. The bulletproof glass dome sparkled in the sun, and the lumbering Mercedes M-Class SUV took a slow turn to keep the high-hatted pontiff from toppling over in his armored lair.

A busy intersection was ahead, the traffic no longer halted by the terrified police who now had no idea what was occurring.

“We’ve got half of four horsemen here, a full one-fucking third of the unholy trinity!” Richard Dawkins shouted from the passenger seat. “I told you to get a car with a sunroof! My plan required a sunroof! I’ll never hit him at this range.” Dawkins drew his sidearm, a long-barreled Colt Anaconda with the phrase “Malthusian Solution” engraved across the grip, which was inlaid with the actual shell of a Galapagos tortoise.

“Make a new plan!” Hitchens snapped. He wheeled around an old woman with a baby carriage. Dawkins leaned out the window with his .44 and fired, but the bullets hit God’s Protection – 40 mm of armoured glass and plating.

“Damn!” Dawkins shouted. “It’s like he’s infallible!”

“Hardly!” Hitchens replied. “Are you buckled up?”

“I always buckle up. You’re far more likely to be injured in a car crash than… What are you doing?!” Dawkins lapsed into a simple shout as Hitchens swerved the car towards a traffic barrier. They hit, knocking over the barrier into the side of a mini-cooper. The tiny car and traffic barrier created a makeshift ramp, the Corsa went airborne, both men wailing with excitement in a true Dukes of Hazard moment.

Glass showered across the streets, sparks trailed into the air, and all eyes watched as the Vauxhall Corsa came crashing across the back of the Popemobile. Armour glass crumpled and shattered, airbags popped into existence and deflated, Swiss Guards tumbled about, and the world’s most expensive hat rolled onto the glass-and-fuel strewn streets of London.

Hitchens was out first, staggered onto the street, looked through the smoke and all around him, people were fleeing. He hadn’t had a reaction like this since he’d set down in Mississippi.

His gun was on the ground, a few feet away. In the car, Dawkins was still reeling, trying to undo his seat belt. A swiss guard was standing over the weapon, resplendent in his orange, blue, and yellow skirt. The hat was no longer funny, because the man was twirling a vicious halberd and approaching in a very professional manner that seemed to suggest that Oberstleutnant Hauptmann knew exactly how to kill a man with a 16th century polearm.
Then, in a flash, a lightening pair of nunchaku wrapped around the haft of the halberd and the wirey man behind them yanked the weapon to the ground. He then began a display of nunchaku prowess, slinging the weapon around his shoulders, his waist, each fluid and deadly movement accompanied by the clank of chain and snap of cured oak.

“Simon Singh!” Dawkins exclaimed as Oberstleutnant Hauptman took a wide variety of blows to the back. “Good to see you!”

“You two go after the Rat!” Singh said, fending off the Swiss Guard. “I’m going to give this man a bit of free amateur chiropractic.”

The two ran into the crowded street, caught sight of the fleeing pope though the glitter of his robes.

“There goes Emperor Palpatine!” A young man shouted, before being cracked in the skull with the Papal Cross of Pius IX.

Ratzinger turned another corner, waited, the gold-trimmed immaculate papal pallium against the dirty brick walls. He reached into the omophor, pulled out his spare mitre, and placed it on his head. He gripped the Papal Cross and listened, the footsteps coming closer as the two atheists chased him. At this range, he knew he would be infallible.

Ratzinger whipped around the corner, caught Hitchens right under his pharynx. The anti-theist went down, but Dawkins had fallen behind due to the totally illogical design of the human knee. He held the massive .44 towards the desperate pontiff.

“Down on the ground! You’re under arrest for rape and sexual slavery and other similarly inhumane acts causing harm to mental or physical health, committed against civilians on a widespread or systematic scale!” Dawkins shouted, a real mouthful.

Ratzinger froze. He had only one recourse – the magic hat. He raised his hands to his head, put them on each side of the mitre, and began to pray…

Hitchens grabbed his ankle and turned him over, face-first into the street.

“I have diplomatic immunity!” He shouted.

“It’s been revoked.” Hitchens said, slapping the cuffs on. “Bishop of Rome, a.ka. Vicar of Jesus Christ, a.ka. Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, a.ka. Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, a.k.a. Primate of Italy, a.ka. Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, a.k.a Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, a.k.a Servant of the Servants of God, a.k.a Benedict the XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, I hereby place you under arrest.”

“But I’m innocent!” Ratzinger cried.

“Tell it to the omniscient tyrant in the sky.” Hitchens said.

“I’m sure he’ll hear you out first thing. You’ve got a direct line, if I’m not mistaken.” Dawkins said. “Don’t you worry, Father. There’s still plenty of forced sodomy where you’re going to be going.”

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Bravo, Jackson Skeptical Society. Bravo. Runners-up (there were honestly too many great ones to choose from, so here are a few):

From delphi_ote, with a metaphor I’ll be adding to my arsenal immediately (EDIT: people were a bit upset that this was directed toward another commenter . . . I include it because I think it’s clever and applicable to many poor arguments. I’ve removed the @ to save any embarrassment and if you want to read the full back-and-forth, you can click through to the original post):

These two sentences don’t mean anything when put together. It seems like you’re trying to blast an intellectual fart into the air and run away into your very smelly smoke screen before anyone notices how utterly full of crap you are.

From Advocatus Diaboli in response to Skepotter:

“From a purely selfish perspective, I learn the most when other skeptics disagree with me. Disagreeing, and being able to support that disagreement with evidence and rational argument is what moves us forward. Agreement is for cults.”

@Skepotter:
I agree! Oh wait… I disagree! No wait… *head explodes*

From Andrés Diplotti:

I must protest. That atheist Barbie makes us atheists look bad. I mean, “no pants to be ready for surprise orgies”? Apparently those orgies don’t just pop up surprisingly, but are extremely short too. Do they really flash past so quickly you don’t even have time to take your pants off before it’s over? That doesn’t speak well of us.

I’m sorry, but that’s the way I am: I like my universe bleak, my babies medium rare and my orgies looooong and exhausting.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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21 Comments

  1. Very funny, retro 80’s touch, though you need to give Dawkins a tight curly perm to get the full ‘The Professions’ feel.

    But at the end? The ‘Meet Bubba in the shower’ trope as a euphemism for prison is a bit unpleasant. I see the irony, but that part of the imprisonment and punishment for his crimes is Rape? How does that make us better than them?

  2. A true literary masterpiece!! I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the battle would end.

    I think my favorite bit was the line:

    but Dawkins had fallen behind due to the totally illogical design of the human knee

    That made me laugh.

  3. I’m glad it’s a hit. I couldn’t participate in any of the philosophical squirreling about reality until I engaged that part of my mind that wanted “Sabotage with old guys.”

    @#6 – oh, there will be a sequel on the JSS blog. Just you wait. I’m thinking all four horsemen, with Vic Stenger as professor X.

    And I had imagined it as Hitchens as the excited new guy. I actually had Dawkins say “I’ve aged too much for this shit.” at one point, but I substituted the “illogical design of the knee” joke instead. I see it didn’t go to waste.

  4. @ZenMonkey: I agree wholeheartedly. I think this week’s COTW first runner up selection was a bad precedent. It’s fine for people to squabble in the comments. How else are people going to see opposing viewpoints and have the possibility for personal growth? But picking out that kind of comment for a COTW-level award seems wrong for this site.

  5. How does an antagonistic personal attack promote well thought out discussion? Without getting into the details of the argument that lead to delphi ote’s comment, it in and of itself was hardly worthy of such recognition.

    We all have disagreements, we are in a headstrong community at times and we can be prone to our emotions rather than reason just like anybody else. We have a duty to ourselves as a reason based group though to stay away from such rhetoric as a tool, especially with our friends.

    I like people on both sides here and it hurts to see such pain promoted. Can we all just step back for a moment and ask ourselves what purpose was served by this lambasting and how it helps us as a community?

  6. You tell another commenter they’re intellectually flatulent, and you get runner-up.

    Do something other than complain, and you get CotW.

    I hear two distinct timbres in the complaints: One, I’m glad we can all disagree. Two, I can’t believe someone didn’t use kid gloves and tenderly administer a moment that would never even qualify as “tough love” when doing so.

    How much hate mail do you get as a skeptic? I don’t consider it a decent week unless there’s a few steaming paragraphs of hatred in my mailbox.

    It does not count as a community of vigorous debate when everyone frets because someone got the shit end of the debate stick. Those sticks have two sides, you know.

    Tame stuff, at that. If you can’t take a bit of windbaggery from a fellow skeptic, how are you gonna handle the sort of invective you hear every day of your life? Members of my own family have told me I’m hellbound. Old friends have abandoned me, send me hate mail. People think I’m a fascist because I insist that some things are wrong.

    If you can’t take a few snide comments, for yourself or someone else – especially someone you disagree with (and that cuts both ways) then you need a more “happy” hobby. I suggest natropathy.

  7. Why shouldn’t people call it as they see it?

    I just wish that the many people who have told me that I was full of crap had done so in as eloquent and humorous manner. For starters, I would’ve spent a lot more of my life laughing.

    I’ve always thought that one thing that sets Skeptics apart from “true believers” is our ability to laugh at ourselves.

    Thanks for including it, Rebecca – I laughed the first time I read it, and again when I reread it in this post.

  8. Yeah, I say call things as they are. IMO if you are going to make yourself look like an ass you have to be prepared for someone to shine a spotlight on it too. Besides, that was a funny comeback and we can all use a good laugh now and then. I agree with @femmebieninformee: one of the things I have always loved about this site (even way before I was involved with it) was it’s wonderful ability to poke fun at serious issues. I have learned a lot more from laughing with the Skepchicks than I ever have from crying at the news.

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