Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why I support same-sex (gay) marriage

I have yet to hear or read a satisfactory reason as to why a same-sex couple does not have all the rights enjoyed by a straight couple. On the one hand the legal system demands that all Australians should be spared discrimination due to race, gender, sexual orientation, political views or religion but on the other hand, the law itself discriminates against gays in Australia.

Let me cover the arguments that I have heard against gay marriage:

(1) It’s not natural:

I have two major issues with such a statement. Firstly, what is considered natural? If one is viewing sex as a means of procreation, then same-sex intercourse would not produce a surplus of children. However, sex is far more than simple procreation and few people today view sex as solely for this purpose. Sex is also for physical pleasure. What gives physical pleasure to some may not arouse others. The act of oral sex is also unlikely to provide one with a large family but many heterosexual couples seem to enjoy it, with over half of all teens in America having tried it according to the Washington Post, ( ).

Also kissing with the involvement of tongues has yet to produce a single pregnancy despite millions having tried with their partners.

Secondly, the judgment is irrelevant to the issue of gay marriage and is more a reflection of the objector’s view on homosexuality.

Therefore the argument “it’s not natural” is not only irrelevant to the debate on gay marriage, it is a poor argument for the debate on homosexuality, (an argument that is already lost due to anti-discrimination laws that already exist in Australia).

(2) Marriage is a sacred institution of love between a man and a woman under god:

There are two versions of this one, with and without god. As I will deal with the religious arguments later on, I will not cover this in great detail here. Suffice it to say that my wife and I were married in a garden ceremony without the influence of religion or the church and we hold a valid Australian marriage certificate.

For the second version, (the one without the god bit), I will focus on the word sacred. The same argument often interchanges this word with “tradition”. But in the interest of avoiding repetition, I will stick to “sacred”. Ignoring all the religious connotations of the word, I will focus on the definitions that describe “sacred” as “dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person” and “worthy of respect; venerable”, ( ). While I agree with the second statement, history disagrees with the first.

Variations of the one man, one woman marriage litter history. Up until 1967, a black person could not marry a white person. This was an accepted and sacred marriage institution. The Supreme Court declared that this was a fundamental breach of human rights and unconstitutional and was correct in this judgement.

At one time in history, divorce was not allowed, at other points it has been. In some cultures polygamy is the norm, in others underage marriage is the everyday. The point is that marriage is not sacred as it is interchangeable to suit the needs of a culture. And in our tolerant, free and fair culture that respects the privacy of others, marriage between two consenting adults should be easy to accept. Marriage traditions are constantly changing, often for frivolous reasons, (the colour of the dress, the location, the order of speeches etc). There is no better reason to change a tradition than to grant a person a fundamental human right presently denied them.

(3) Gay parents will produce gay children:

While not an argument for or against gay marriage, this statement is often used as ammunition in such debates. Put simply, straight parents cannot produce gay or straight children, gays cannot produce gay or straight children. Sexual preference is not taught, it is felt internally. Show me hundreds of gay magazines over twenty years and I will still manage to be aroused at the first glimpse of Playboy. The people who bluster that “I’ll never be gay”, can’t seem to realise that the same applies to gays: “I’ll never be straight.” Both statements are true, (although what one says and what one feels can often be quite different).

(4) We have to draw a line somewhere…if gays marry what’s to stop polygamy or bestiality?

We already do. The laws involving sexual activity are clear: that they may only involve consenting adults. This also applies to marriage with the proviso that the consenting adults be a man and a woman. Drop the proviso and the laws remain the same without having a negative effect on anyone.

(5) Marriage would lose all its meaning and importance:

It has never been established that anyone would devalue their own marriage if gays were allowed the right or that gays do not value marriage. I personally cannot remember uttering the vow “till death do us part or till gays are giving the right to marry in which case the deal’s off”. How ridiculous. The fact that gays are willing to go through a cauldron of bigotry to achieve their goal should give a clear indication to the importance that most in the gay community place in marriage.

(6) Real marriages produce children:

I challenge anyone who espouses this rubbish to tell an infertile couple, an elderly couple or couples simply exercising their right not to have children, that their marriage certificates are invalid.

(7) All the child-related arguments:

Arguments such as “children need a male and female role model” are not only irrelevant because they do not directly refer to gay marriage for the above reason, but also because they ignore reality. Children of gay parents do not grow up in a single sex social vacuum. They have uncles, aunts, grandparents, teachers, friends, work mates and sports team mates among others. Each of these provides opportunities for role models of both genders, even in the unlikely event that the parents do not provide both themselves.

So maybe I should stop pussy footing around here and get to the root of the opposition to gay marriage.

(8) The bible says it’s wrong, it’s against the word of god etc:

Granted, there is one and only one circumstance where I would back the religious and that is if the gay couple intended to marry in a church against the rules of the particular religion. My advice to gays who are Christian and find barriers to their union…drop Christianity and use reason and logic as your guide.

Otherwise my answer would be…who cares? To this statement, government must reply: “we respect your opinion but frankly this issue has nothing to do with religion”.

If a couple, gay or straight, who have never been religious and have never cared for the opinion of the church, want to marry without religious involvement, why on earth does the church think that they suddenly care about the word of God?

This unwanted religious meddling is so obvious to most people that reasons 1-7 have been invented to disguise the religious agenda produced in reason 8.

Ultimately, what two consensual adults do with, to or for each other is nobody’s business but their own.

Why should non gays care?

As a straight man, some have questioned my interest in this issue. Well, put simply: I worry about my own freedoms when religion is allowed to influence government to deny basic freedoms to others. I wonder whether my right to be an atheist will be stripped away next or whether censorship laws will increase to include books by Darwin or Dawkins.

Whenever consenting, voting citizens are deprived of the rights that we take for granted, everyone should care.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Brother 2008 - Review

The lead up this year’s Australian Big Brother boasted that the show would be different from those gone before. The ‘I don’t think so” catch-cry declared that there would be a diverse selection of housemates, new hosts who were prepared to ask the hard questions and a new set of Big Brother rules.

This review will attempt to find out whether these claims have been fulfilled or whether we have bee fed a load of Channel 10’s bulls**t.

Let’s start with the first claim: diversity of housemates. This year’s housemates included a loser who believes in flying saucers and little green men from Mars, a grandmother, an Aboriginal Australian, a person of limited physical stature (a midget), a church going virgin with a voice like Mickey Mouse on helium, a spoilt blonde bombshell, a skimpy barmaid, a bricklayer who can’t decide whether he’s Rastafarian, a wannabe lawyer, an animal doctor, a token Asian with a name that perfectly describes his personality, a cult escapee (that still thinks religion’s a good idea), an (almost) thirty year old virgin, a country girl who speaks exactly like the man who always manages to fall off his bar stool at the local pub, an old man with crap jokes and undies up his crack, an “Italian princess” who probably wouldn’t have such big boobs if she’d drop twenty or thirty kilos, a caring young single mother who cared so much she abandoned her child to get it on with the first man she saw in the house, a blonde tool so in love with himself he can’t take no for an answer and to top it all off, a pimply-faced cretin who probably can’t spell Big Brother and, if he could, would be too busy pulling up his filthy pants to try.

So the diversity is there but diversity doesn’t mean entertaining. Having twenty different versions of ‘wanker’ doesn’t make for quality television programming. By the time the Australian public had weeded out the worst of them, we were left with only three types of people:

The spoilt brats: Bridgette, Ben, Bianca
The Ego-maniacs: Cherry, Rory
The Nobodies: Travis, Alice

Since only Terri was left, it is assumed she will win. So instead of watching a show with different age groups sharing different opinions and intelligent outlooks on subjects discussed within the house, we have a show that resembles Saved by the Bell. Will Zach, (Cherry), win the heart of Kelly, (Bridgette), by spraying her with the hose and running away? Will Screech, (Travis), get laid? By a woman? By a man? Or perhaps to some sort of primate who is turned on by excessively hairy things? Does Slater (Rory), still pine for Jessie (Rhianna)? With painful stories like these it’s no wonder Mr. Belding (Terri), gets upset from time to time.

Same old, same old.

New, exciting characters, (however diverse in appearance), “I don’t think so”.

Maybe we’re being a tad unfair. The midget provided a huge scope for entertainment in Friday Night Live but unfortunately, (and hilariously), injured herself first night out. Now we’ll never know.

Now onto the second claim: that the new hosts wouldn’t pull punches, that they would be hard hitting and ruthless. By the fifth week, the fans were missing Gretel Killeen and the valuable contribution she made to the show. Not only did Kyle and Jackie O avoid confrontation with housemates, they backed off when housemates issued the challenges. When Corey, (apparent party-boy despite all reports that most of his guests crashed his party after their first choice had been busted up by the police), belittled all of Kyle’s achievements in the house by stating that he gained his fame through a similar party, we watched the television waiting for Kyle’s response. However, despite being able to call a spade a spade, (or a midget a midget), Kyle was disappointingly quiet.

Jackie O was equally meek when Nobby was evicted, leaving the dirty work to Mike Goldman who, as always, poured his heart into the job by asking the harder questions.
Meanwhile, Jackie O was making it perfectly clear to anyone watching that eviction night was her show, often ignoring the chance for banter with Goldman after the hard questions had been asked.

The management of Big Brother evictions this year was appallingly bad. On one occasion, (the eviction of Rebecca), the housemate’s reaction was not shown to audiences. Also, the original concept of the revolving door, involving three housemates leaving through the doors and only one returning was a dismal failure, with Big Brother at one point re-introducing the wrong housemate to the house, ruining the final reaction. The system also failed because housemates were unable to farewell their friends who had been evicted.

Changing the eviction process from public nominates, housemates evict to the reverse halfway through the show without warning also proves false another lead up claim: “the rules have changed”. Perhaps, “temporarily” should have been added. Changing mid way nullified the anticipation felt by the viewing audience to this year’s show and made evictions a somewhat arbitrary proposition.

Although perhaps evictions should be of lesser importance this year since the prizes, when compared to previous years, are miserly at best. How is it fair that a contestant evicted in week 6 in 2007 was awarded a vehicle, a mobile phone and a holiday, when a contestant evicted week 12 2008 is awarded a mobile phone, a holiday and broadband access, (without a laptop)? Regardless of whether the housemates signed a release, it is unethical to allow people to miss work or school for a large period of time, to be held up as the subject for ridicule, to have their behaviours analysed by thousands of armchair psychologists, or, in the sake of Terrance, to be ambushed national television into having a spat with another adult, without issuing just compensation?

While we’re sure that Big Brother lost some sponsorship due the media beat ups over the last couple of years, one still has to wonder whether the huge amount of money paid to Pamela Anderson and Carson Kresley to appear on the show would have been better spent on prizes.

Why prizes?

The value of any reality show goes directly to the prestige of the prizes. Nobody would watch “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” if it was changed to “Who Wants to Win a Tenner?” especially if the prize value dropped during the sixth season.

Friday Night Live prizes were designed as a reward but also as a catalyst for entertaining in-house stories. The Rewards Room was an excellent way to bring the opinions of housemates who had previously been ‘flying under the radar’, out into the open. Since alcohol was also involved, inhibitions were lowered even further, creating bubbling conflicts or latent crushes to spill over.

While the power to change nominations has been retained, the Rewards Room has been replaced by what can only be described as product placement: a Big Brother cinema where housemates can watch the latest movies before they are released to the public. This is not only a transparent attempt to make money in Truman Show-esk fashion; it is also counter-productive to the show. In contrast to the Rewards Room, a cinema discourages conversation or deep discussion. Even if there was deep conversation occurring, the nature of the movie being shown disallows any public viewing, resulting in Channel 10 censoring most of the content.

Perhaps to compensate, a ‘head of house’ armband was created; a garish yellow band worn by the victor of FNL. However, while the housemates may know what the armband actually enables the wearer to do, the viewing public has largely been kept in the dark.

FNL prizes and BB prizes generally have gone backwards.

The next Big Brother 2008 experiment was a panel-style show called ‘Big Mouth’, serving as a diversion from the bad press received by predecessor “Big Brother: Uncut”. The panel, while entertaining at times fell foul to the same trap that all panel shows fall into: that of mob mentality and selective political correctness. While Terrance was ambushed and abused by the panel and by Bridgette’s father by phone, Nobby endured no such vitriolic attack, despite the panel criticising his every move while still in the house. The panel spent an entire episode bemoaning the evils of bullying then refused to take Nobby to task over it and then committed the same crime against Terrance. Such inconsistencies do not win over new fans or retain the diehards.

2008 should, hopefully be the last year of the Big Brother ‘strike’ discipline system. Not one housemate has yet to be removed from the house after receiving three strikes, despite Ben blatantly breaking the rules a total of five times, (televised), in a single week. The only time that housemates have been removed from the house, during the infamous ‘turkey slap’ incident, involved Big Brother skipping the strike system due to the nature of the offence. The strike system has no teeth and it has categorical failed to deter poor housemate behaviour. It’s time to let it go.

In a poor year for Big Brother there has been one shining light. FNL continues to go from strength to strength. With its simple and unchanged format with entertaining hosts it has been the saving grace of Big Brother this year.

Simplicity is the key element missing from Big Brother overall. By trying to shake up the show’s format, the producers have lost site of the original concept. Therefore they have lost the fan base. The confusing and over complicated format has also served as an effective deterrent to any new fans.

A return to the original format with emphasis on prizes rather than special guests may see Big Brother 2009 revive the brand in Australia.

Why do we care? Well…we love BB!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Your Hatred for Paris Hilton: Explained

Ahhh…earning truckloads of cash for doing little more than getting drunk, shopping and posing for photographs, (usually while pissed): the great Australian dream.

So why are we all so hostile towards Paris Hilton? Possibly the idea of a person being paid to do little, offends us in a class sense. Maybe Paris reminds us of the fat aristocrats of the Victorian Age who enjoyed their splendour at the expense of the ordinary working Joe. You know, the type of yuppies that suck the wealth from the populace while moralising about their work ethic and manners.

But Paris does no such thing. She has never shown the slightest indication that she cares about the manners or work ethic of others and she inherited and continues to make money without the slightest impact on anyone. In fact, she provides entertainment and a talking point for the predominately working class who purchase the magazines in which she regularly features.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William of England and Prince Frederick and Princess Mary of Denmark are quite well liked by the Australian public at present. However, all four frequently moralise to their respective publics on matters of religion, health and family life. These are matters that are, quite frankly, none of their business and worse, they moralise at public expense.

So Paris is living a life without moralising to anyone and she does not take a cent of public monies. Is she a moral person? Who cares! When did anyone give permission to society to mother a person that they know nothing about? Paris has thus far remained out of your business so maybe out of courtesy you should remain out of hers.

At the root of this hatred, I suspect, is jealousy. I don’t think people are jealous of Paris for her physical appearance, (there are far better looking girls in the world), or for her money, (plenty of people have money these days), but for the apparent lack of effort she expends to make her money. The attitude is: I slog all week for a (compared to Paris), tiny amount of money therefore you should too.

Why is it that every person who utters the words: “If I won the lottery I’d never work again…” can’t seem to understand that Paris inherited her lottery, earns money easily and is living her life accordingly. In that sense, while I don’t think anyone needs to applaud Paris, I agree with the shirt that she can often be seen wearing.

“Don’t be jealous”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Erroneous Assumptions of Mr. Andrew Roberts

"Of course, as has been recently pointed out by the American intellectual James Bowman, since 1900, 'The great atheistic faiths of Communism and Nazism killed far more people than religion had managed to do in a comparable period of time', so the equation that John Lennon made in his popular song Imagine between there being no heaven or hell and "No religion too" with "living with peace" is an illegitimate one, however seductive."
- Andrew Roberts, A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900: Phoenix: 2006, p. 197.

Such a statement cannot go unchallenged. There are a number of errors with such this absurd claim and, despite the apparent unwillingness of Andrew Roberts to engage in any form of critical examination, religious dogma disguised as historical inquiry should always be met with facts. The most obvious point is that atheism is by definition, not faith based at all.

The statement will be unpacked into the following categories:

(1) The false claim that Nazi Germany was an “atheist empire”
(2) The overestimation of religion as a motive for Communist murders and persecution
(3) The strength of a secular state in avoiding theistic warfare
(4) The absurdity of “a comparable time” when comparing 20th Century warfare with a thousands of years of religious persecution
(5) The morality of even comparing belief systems on a basis of ‘we killed less’

Nazi Germany was not an empire of atheists and had a distinctively Christian agenda. The fact that Hitler persecuted those Christian leaders who refused to follow Nazi party policy does not disallow his own Christian faith. The English Protestants who were engaged in burning Irish Catholic churches in the 16th Century were not known to question their innate Christianity, nor were the Catholic French who laid waste to the continent during the religious wars in the 16th Century.
Nor was Hitler’s destruction of churches universal or absolute. More than a few Protestant and Catholic churches accepted Nazi public policy regarding religious practise in Hitler’s Germany.

“A decline in churchgoing was seen in connection with the rise of godless atheism and the triumph of Marxist materialism. By the end of the Weimar Republic, the more radical elements in the Church were openly supportive of volkisch nationalism of the Nazi variety as the vehicle to producing a unity of Christian and political revivalism among the German people.” (Ian Kershaw, Hitler: Pearson Education, 2001, page 101).

“A few examples of newspaper accounts of unacceptable church meddling in politics include one of a Protestant pastor who dedicated his Sunday sermon to the Nazis and referred to them as the liberators of Germany, a Protestant pastor who publicly blessed the Nazi flag and then marched in a Nazi Party demonstration…and a Protestant pastor who allowed a steel helmet, a sword, and a pistol to be laid upon the altar, hung a swastika flag above the pulpit, and according to the newspaper, was a leader of a Hitler Youth troop.” (William Brustein, The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933: 1996: Yale College, pp. 44-45).

As for Hitler himself, the overwhelming evidence points to him maintaining his Christian beliefs and applying those beliefs to his policies.
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf): source: has an extensive list of Hitler quotes relating to religion. One would suggest that Roberts should take a tour of the site.

The most glaringly obvious of these applications was the Nazi answer to the ‘Jewish Question’. The European Jewish community were persecuted with a concentration and volume never before experienced in human history. However, this was never an atheist agenda. There has never been any evidence brought forward to suggest that atheists have ever harboured any ill will towards Jews before the rise of Hitler, nor any to suggest any grudges have developed since. There is however, a mountain of evidence of the widespread Christian hatred towards the Jews that existed well before Hitler’s arrival. Hitler’s policies were a product of, rather than the instigation for, those old hatreds.

Secondly, the rise to prominence on an avowed atheist in a deeply Christian Germany in unlikely, despite the pressing issues of widespread unemployment and starvation. While a reason to change governments or ideals, these have not proven historically to be pressing enough complaints to force a community to abandon their religious convictions. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845, did not result in mass atheism; neither did the spread of the Bubonic Plague in the 14th Century, nor the Great Depression cause a seismic shift in belief in any capitalist nation.

Many of the German people followed Hitler in his persecution of the Jews with, at times, enthusiasm, (see Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel J. Goldhagen), while others simply stood aside. Even fewer Germans stood up to his villainy, heroic considering the anti-Semitism apparent in Germany for generations. For these people at least, simple humanity and decency won over grudges passed on from father to son over the centuries. And while the doctrine of the Hitler cult was taught in the school setting and amongst the Hitler Youth, the Bible was still being read at congregations and German soldiers were still hearing the Psalms and saying their prayers before battle, particularly on the Russian front. Such a deeply Christian nation did not turn into committed non-believers, regardless of the deep feelings they may have had towards Hitler. Instead, they followed a professed Christian who was raised to carry the same religious prejudices towards the Jews as them and who fostered other, more political and social hatreds, towards gypsies, the mentally handicapped and foreigners generally.

The religious historian’s claim that Hitler was simply a clever atheist who used such deep seated hatreds towards his won political ends raises a conundrum that has yet to be adequately explained away as such claims are usually accompanied by claims that Christian Germans were merely following orders so as to save their own lives and that of their families.

Here is the conundrum: if Hitler was an atheist using Christian hatreds against them he has therefore been given the leadership of the German nation by the majority Christian community in exchange for Jewish blood. The fault of the Holocaust would therefore lie not with Hitler but with the willing Christian executioners who made such a trade. Also, if such a scenario indeed existed, as the religious historians would have us believe, the German people could not have been simply following orders but were, in a round-a-bout way, dictating Hitler’s brutal and homicidal policy.

However, it is unlikely that the above scenario was the case. Hitler’s ranting biography Mein Kampf was no illusion to deceive the religious masses. It was a statement of rabid anti-Semitism that was certainly overkill if his main aim was deceiving the Christian majority into supporting his cause. In fact, a clear indication of Hitler’s very Christian dedication to his anti-Semitism can be seen in his continuation of the policy long after Germany’s war in Europe was lost. His dedication to utterly destroying the entire Jewish race even after it was apparent, even to Hitler, that Germany was to be invaded and that Hitler himself would not survive, bears all the hallmarks of religious fanaticism. It is highly unlikely that an atheist Hitler, pursuing a policy of persecution against the Jews in exchange for German Christian support of his power, would continue to do so even after his power has been stripped away and his nation lay in ruins.

Rather, Germany was a Christian nation led by a ruthless, (not the first), Christian ruler who was obsessed with prosecuted a centuries old Christian grudge.

Labelling Stalin’s communist Russia as an ‘atheist state’ is misleading. While the communist regime undoubtedly promoted atheism by violently persecuting the church and all other religious, this was simply not their main agenda, nor was this the cause of the vast majority of deaths by communist hands. So stating that Communism was an ‘atheist state’ as if it were akin to Protestant England or Catholic France in the 16th century, government systems that placed religious persecution on the top of their respective agendas, is mischievous at best.

The millions of Russian land owners that lost their homes and their lives shortly after the revolution were not killed for a belief in any god. Neither was the revolution itself begun simply to remove religion from Russia. The end to class distinction, the institution of shared wealth under government control and the international spread of these ideas were the foundations of a revolution in Russia. These were the ideas that were so violently implemented by Stalin. Blaming atheism for Stalin’s actions implies that a religious leader would have acted with more humanity in the implementation and enforcement of radical change. Perhaps Taliban Afghanistan, Catholic France, the Spanish Inquisition, the Wars of Religion, Al Qaeda and the Crusades have slipped the minds of religious historians.

The actions of the newly formed communist Russia was about establishing and maintaining a radical new social order by force of arms and had little to do with religious belief. Religion was seen as an impediment to the new order, as were millions of land owners, several thousand members of the Russian military command and of course, the Tsar and his family.

“The attack on the peasant economy was accompanied by a fierce campaign against the Orthodox Church, the centre of the traditional peasant culture, which was seen by the Stalinist leadership as one of the main obstacles to collectivization”, (Allan Bullock Hitler and Stalin, Parallel Lives: 1991: Fontana Press, page 286). (Italics are mine).

Therefore drawing the conclusion that an atheist government would be a murderous disaster by using communism as an example is akin to calling all Catholics terrorists by citing IRA bombers.

The implication the statement that Andrew Roberts so readily endorses is making is that to avoid a situation where anarchy and murderous behaviours form the basis of public policy, a religious government is required. Roberts consistently cites the success of the English-Speaking Peoples as an example of this religious order, particularly in his glowing description of Protestantism. However, it is precisely when those governments replaced church dominated doctrines for secular laws and made a clear separation of the church and the state, then did the anarchy of government settled into the modern order we have today. Not until faith and emotionally based religious issues were replaced by logically debatable political and social agendas in parliaments and senates across the Western world were human rights actually regulated or tolerance of other beliefs, (a trait that Robert’s attributes to Protestants), enforced.

Therefore the lack of religious interference in politics has strengthened the chances for peace in the world rather than creating anarchy over the western world.

Religious based nations in contrast continue to fight wars of religion, particularly in the Middle-East, where Jews and Muslims fight for sacred religious sites and where Iran continues to harbour religious fundamentalists who believe they can enforce their beliefs upon secular states.

Secular states make perfect mediators for these conflicts because they are able to maintain at least a semblance of religious neutrality and are able to keep emotion and faith based political responses at a safe distance from the diplomatic negotiating tables.

The last part of the statement, in reference to a ‘comparable time frame’ also needs comment, especially when a clear definition in absent. Robert opted not to provide an explanation, instead using his ink to criticise John Lennon as if he were the atheist’s messiah. Even if one can ignore the inaccuracies apparent in the first part of the statement, one would be hard pressed to ignore the absurdities of the second. How can a comparable time be measured? One would assume that we are to compare these incorrectly named ‘atheist states’ with nations of religious character and count their respective death tolls over an equal and fair time frame. Using the Nazi state alone, equal would cover around twenty years, thirty if one were feeling generous. Then the ‘atheist state’ is compared to two religious states at war over the same time period, the Thirty Years War. When the death tolls are counted, Nazism wins the prize for numbers and, indeed, for cruelty. Now we have been equal but have we been fair? Let us assume that the Catholics and the Protestants involved in the Thirty Years War were given access to the weaponry of World War 2; the machine guns, the aircraft, the poison gas, the land mines, the rifles, the hand grenades, the flame throwers, the anti-aircraft guns, the artillery, the heavy battleships, the submarines, the barbed wire and the tanks, (to name just a few), available to the Germans. What then would happen to the death toll? The religious achieved brutality on a sickening scale without such weapons during the Wars of Religion, what might have occurring with deadly modern technology.

The fact that further religious wars using modern weaponry resulting in the scale of murders produced by Nazism have not occurred is a result of level headed mediation by secular states that have, by virtue of casting aside religion from politics, been able to stay neutral in religious disputes and therefore negotiate a level of moderation in world affairs.

As conjecture is the only means available to create a basis for comparing one evil against another, it is absurd to make such broad and baseless statement and individuals reading such drivel have a right to question the author’s motives for their promotion.

Lastly, the morality of a person who implies that killing less innocents makes one belief system better than other, (without clarifying that not killing any at all is preferable), must be seriously questioned. The writer does not imply that killing innocents is wrong, instead, he is bragging that his particular belief system has a lower death count over a period of time than another. What a grim herald for our future if such men are the writers of our histories.