Interlude: If People Don’t Like You, It May Simply Be Because You’re A Fucking Arsehole

Day 64. 114,550 words.

This pointless little news story irritated me mildly last night.

Director Kevin “Silent Bob” Smith had a big ol’ heart attack a little while ago, and was fortunately fixed up by his surgeons. Actor Chris “Star Lord” Pratt, meanwhile, tweeted a get-well-soon message and said he was praying for him.

And a bunch of pissy, pointless little cuntheists lost their tiny minds. Oh, and to be fair (and if you can bring yourself to read much of the resultant tweetstorm, I couldn’t), a lot of shitty dumbarse religtards did as well.

Okay, I’m too worked up and eager to rant, but there’s a bit to unpack here.

Okay, so first of all, yes. When someone says they’re praying for me or anyone else, I tend to view it through a tolerant lens of “this is how they wish me well and send good vibes. It is how they roll and it means they care about me. It’s fine.”

Do I think prayer helps? That’s a stupid fucking question. Do I think someone saying “shit man, that’s awful, I hope you’re doing okay” helps? Does it matter if it does or not? If I responded to that with “fat lot of good your hope does, go fuck yourself”, or “hope doesn’t eradicate cancer from the body, chemotherapy and surgery do”, I would very soon find myself without any friends. And rightly so.

But what about prayer? Meh, look, I honestly don’t think it can hurt. As I made particular note of when I had cancer, and talked about a bit more in Arsebook, I think the knowledge that people who love you are actively hoping the best for you has to be better for you than getting nothing at all from your nearest and dearest, and considerably better still than people sending you messages saying “just give up and die.”

Common sense. Call it what you like, the human mind is an amazing thing. And so when I have a life-threatening illness and someone says they’ll pray for me, I’ll say “thank you”.

doc

Of course, if that person is my cancer doctor, I’ll expect maybe a little more professional effort.

The main criticism[1] that seems to have been levelled here is that Pratt’s prayer is something in the same vein as spineless politicians offering “thoughts and prayers” in response to the latest round of innocent schoolkids being mown down by military-grade weaponry.

[1] Aside from “RAARRR, IT’S DOCTORS AND SCIENCE NOT GOD”. Which, seriously, why are you wasting my oxygen?

And now we get to it. Because I’m fairly sure all my regular readers and commenters are smart enough to see that particular false equivalence, and be annoyed by the fuckwittery it displays. But I’ll let director James Gunn point it out instead.

He did so, in fact, in the article in which I learned of this whole thing.

If Pratt was in any position to do anything but offer a heartfelt dose of sympathy and hope for a quick recovery, then his expression of prayer would be lazy and horrible. If Pratt was a heart surgeon and heart surgeons were refusing to operate on Smith because the National Organ Donors’ Association was demanding they not do so because of his religious disrespect … then that would be a comparison.

USian lawmakers are in a position to do something. Sending hopes and prayers therefore seems shitty. Chris Pratt, man who dresses up as things in front of green screens, doing the same thing? No. Not shitty.

It’s fucking empathy. And empathy only rings hollow when there’s something more concrete you could be doing.

To me, arguably the most dubious part is where he’s calling on his Twitter followers to also pray. I mean, that’s a bit “join me on the ooky spooky side”, isn’t it? How about he prays, and encourages people to join in with best wishes in their own particular idiom[2]? I don’t think, if there’s a God, my attempt at prayer would do Kevin Smith any good at all. Why would Pratt want me to join in with my raucous heathen attempt in rhyming haiku format[3], and maybe piss God off and ruin everything?

[2] Assuming you don’t use your brain for once in your life and decide to just interpret what he was saying as precisely fucking that, idiot.

[3] …

Dogma’s Kevin Smith
Forgive him, Lord, four burgers
Shouldn’t’ve had fifths

But whatever. Even that seems like a churlish and mean-spirited objection.

I mean, holy shit. Even my dad, when he learned I had cancer, told me he felt absolutely helpless and that what crossed his mind in his desperation was “what can I do? I could pray.”

He ultimately didn’t pray, of course, because he’s a solid atheist at the antitheist end of the spectrum, and he recognised it as an ingrained reaction from his upbringing and culture. And that’s fine. I know he wished me well, because he made it very clear to me that he wished me well. He crossed the globe to sit at my bedside.

And yes, he crosses the globe annually, to nag me about eating junk food and to make snide remarks about how messy my house is, too. That also means he cares.

You know what he didn’t do, though? He didn’t make a cunt of himself regarding the people who did pray for me. And that included our family priest who went to the trouble of coming to our house and blessing my crusty old agnostic self with sacred oils and stuff. My dad bit his tongue and took it for what it was: The actions of someone who was not an oncologist or surgeon, doing what was inside his skill-set to do. I don’t doubt that if Father Heikki had tried to tell me not to go through with the radiotherapy, chemo and surgery because I wouldn’t be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven if I put my faith in modern medicine, my dad would have gotten violent. But everyone involved was a goddamned adult[4], and so that shit didn’t happen.

[4] With the arguable exception of Father Heikki, who is a God blessed adult.

So this leaves me, after this extended essay, just shaking my head and wondering why some antitheists and SJWs apparently need to just be relentless fucking arseholes, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

And I get it. I really do. And on top of that, I get that I can’t possibly get it because I’m not there. I understand, intellectually, that these are USian atheists watching a beloved public figure selling out to an organised religion that has way too much power over their lives even though the whole point of their country’s existence is to not let that happen[5]. I get that prayer, and criticism of prayer, come from different places for different people.

[5] Well, the whole point of their separation of church and state. Let’s not go nuts and start pretending white people didn’t go over there in the first place because the Old World was getting a bit too permissive about haircuts and what day of the week you’re allowed to eat meat.

Whatever.

Just … don’t be a fucking arsehole.

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17 Responses to Interlude: If People Don’t Like You, It May Simply Be Because You’re A Fucking Arsehole

  1. stchucky says:

    I’m quite proud of my rhyming haiku prayer. I think if there is a God, and if that God has any semblance of good taste, it would meet with approval.

  2. brknwntr says:

    She has no sense of humor. She got that beaten out of her with hockey sticks.

  3. Laurence says:

    I’ve had a theory for a while that people who base their personality about a negative tend to be quite unpleasant… So, whilst I am an atheist, it’s not what defines me, it’s a side note. If someone said “Tell me something about you”, I’d lead with photography or tech or acting or whatever. I wouldn’t say “I’m an atheist” in the same way I wouldn’t say “I don’t like football” or “I’m not a pilot”.

    If the main thing you can say about your personality is that you’re against something, I think you need to go and find something you actually like!

    • stchucky says:

      Hey, that’s a darn good point right there.

      I think the same, if a little less fairly, can be applied to other people asked to describe one. If they lead with “well, he doesn’t…” that’s probably also a bad sign.

    • Very good point. I’m an atheist, but it doesn’t define me. Why? Because it’s about what I DON’T believe in. If you think about it, that’s rather a silly thing to let define you. As you say. And this of course leads to another problem we’re seeing, particularly in American society. The misunderstanding of atheism and the use of it to define people is a real thing, and it’s insidious. All the attacks upon an ideology that, if you really think about it, isn’t even an ideology. Is “I don’t like football” an ideology? Few, if any, would insist it is.

      Now, I know atheists have united, especially online, and that makes it seem like an ideology. But it still kind of isn’t. If I’m Christian, I (theoretically) have a set of rules that must guide my life. As an atheist, I don’t have one from that source, hence it’s not an ideology per se.

      Great blog entry, Hatboy, I really enjoyed it. This reaction to Pratt’s kind thoughts (and FFS can you just think of it as thoughts? That’s what praying is! Thinking, sometimes out loud. Jesus Fucking Christ, if I may say so.) is the definition of “triggered”.

      And you’re right, much of the triggering is reflexive from the gun debate in America. But folks should be careful not to forcefully slide down that slippery slope to thinking all prayer is (ironically) evil and a misdirection.

      • stchucky says:

        Quite so.

        Oh, and “I don’t like football” is a bit of an ideology for me … but I was raised in Australia.

      • Laurence says:

        Odd, I can’t reply to Chucky’s reply to this… I’m sure he’ll see it anyway!
        I was raised in England – also a pretty football obsessed country! I think I was more anti-football when I was younger, but I grew out of it (probably in the same way I hope many atheist edgelords grow out of it).
        I think for a lot of American atheists, the banding together and becoming “atheist extremists”, if you will, is a kind of defence against the overwhelming pervasion of religion over there. And perhaps a bit of a teenage rebellion, of course. Whereas over here in the real world, religion is much less of a big deal, and to an extent a much more personal thing.

        I’m not sure I really have a point here – I thought I did when I started typing, but then I got distracted by a noisy office, so I don’t really know where it’s going any more. I could stop talking, but that’s definitely something I don’t believe in.

      • stchucky says:

        It’s one of the things I would use to describe you, although in the spirit of the post I guess I would phrase it positively: Laurence believes in continuing to talk.

      • Well said, pervasion and perversion of religion over here. I’m not even going to touch the “football” topic, with all you non-Americans involved. I am not a fan of sports. Let’s leave it there.

      • Laurence says:

        I don’t believe in continuing to talk in the same way that Vimes doesn’t believe in gods… He just knows they’re there. No faith is required.

      • I hadn’t heard that one! That’s a new twist on faith! Dawkins taught me (as I read The Selfish Gene) that I can take back the word “belief” because to believe in evolution is not done based on blind faith, as they like to pretend. But now apparently their blind faith isn’t even blind faith! Crikey![1]

        [1] If I may appropriate that. I suggest you allow it, lest I revert to my excessive use of “guvnah”, which is my old saw.

  4. Ooh, if you want to see butt-hurtness have a look at the comments Pratt garners when he posts pictures of animals at his farm and then points out he will eat them later.

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