Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stay in the Damn Bubble

religion, censorship, christan, opine, intolerance,
My first experience with religion as a powerful force for bad was when I found out in middle school that a friend of mine couldn't even consider going to college because she was a Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses aren't allowed to read anything not approved by their leadership. It totally blew my mind that for her, a library was a big building filled with everything she couldn't read. All those books, and she couldn't open a one.

My mother let me read anything. I used to read the Wall Street Journal when I was 5. (No, I didn't get the context, but I could read the words.) I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at the age of 11. I suppose my mother would have drawn the line at pornography, but she had no interest in censoring anything else.*

So you can see why the concept of not being allowed to choose for yourself what to read or view or experience really blew my mind. It bothered me, the thought of having to ask permission on reading materials and being denied would sneak up on me at odd moments, and every time I felt sad.

My mother never censored my musical tastes, either, not even when I was spending 4 hours a day practicing clarinet (all classical) and then listening to Cannibal Corpse. She stopped censoring movies for me after the age of 13 (all she ever censored was extreme violence anyway). She never told me what to wear, or how to do my hair, and I really wish she would have scrubbed my face off during that horrible blue eyeshadow phase I went through. (Pictures remain, I suspect purely for her own enjoyment.)

My mother never tried to force me to her point of view by restricting my access to other points of view, something I have regarded religion with distate for since middle school.

Take, for example, The Opine Editorial's list of things one should not view:

1. Princess/goddess/diva characters in pop culture
2. Romance novels
(See this
recent entry on The Elusive Wapiti
- but it is NSFW)
3. Romantic comedies
4. "Reality" television shows
5. Sitcoms
6. Soap operas
7. Just about any television show or movie not included in the above
8. Wedding magazines
9. Celebrity "news" magazines, and Cosmo and similar
10. Advice columns
11. Gossip (Explicitly condemned in the Bible - including in the Torah)
12. Materialism/compulsive shopping/overspending/debt accumulation
13. Astrology/horoscopes

So, basically anything not seen or heard in church. How defensible is your point of view if simply seeing a romcom will destroy it? (The wedding magazine mention struck me as odd until I remembered that the Opiners are Mormon. You really wouldn't want anyone dreaming of a typical American wedding and then experiencing a Mormon Temple wedding. Go ahead, click the link.)

This list of the Opiners is hardly unique. I have seen many an argument amongst fundys as to whether or not one can be friends with a person outside of your religion. The answer is, btw, "no". There is too much risk, you see. We might infect** you with our liberalism and tolerance. You might wake up one morning feeling sorry for single moms on welfare or worried about all those orphaned Iraqi children. There where would you be?

In hell with me, I suppose.

*My mother was always aware of what I was reading, in case you think she just didn't know I was reading about the Holocaust at a very young age. When I was reading something troubling, she would take the time to talk to me about it, to help me put it in perspective, although I don't think anyone can really put killing 10 million people for fun in perspective.

**Actual word used.


  1. No no, that list isn't so bad. I agree with 2, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 13. Not because of censorship, but because I suspect too much of any of these is capable of causing brain damage.

    Plus non-fiction seems to get a pass, so I'll just give their kids each of the "Walking with" series anda copy of The God Delusion and everything'll be good.

    But seriously, number 7? Don't watch TV, period? Wassup with that? Sounds to me like a generic excuse for selective censorship...

  2. I was told and told and told, "Stand up for yourself, think for yourself, don't let anyone else make up your mind for you..."

    Unfortunatly for them, I have done exactly that in my life, and it appears that there were plenty of people I was supposed to knuckle under to even when it was wrong, I was most emphaticly NOT to make up my mind or even THINK of certain thing (they had bee pre-thought by my betters), and there were certain thoughts that were "unhealthy and wrong" according to the subculture and culture-at- large in which I lived. I didn't use "proportion" in my approach to this philosophy, I was told.

    They really didn't like my books or music, but let that pretty much alone.

    Well, there was one...

    We got back from Ethiopia and one of the requirements for getting "placed" properly in the school was to read Samuel Pepys Diary.

    I found it tedious, so my father found out that there was a complete and unexpurgated version in the local library, and nothing would do but that I must read THAT one.

    Poor Dad.

    He really didn't know what kind of a man Pepys was, or what he did, in fact, write in his diary...But I found out!

    One day he happened to open one of the tomes, and it fell open to one of my favorite places. He was, uh, surprised at what he read.

    So, when I went to check that out a volume of that nasty man's innermost thoughts and dirty deeds, the librarian informed me that my father said I was not permitted to check it out anymore.
    "Whay can't I check out the diary anymore, Dad"?
    "Because it's disgusting, filthy trash"!
    "But...but, Dad, YOU made me check it out! YOU wouldn't let me read TRASH, would you"?

    But just last year an aunt told me something, she, her husband, and several other relatives had discussed it over the years, and they were convinced that what had "messed me up" (ie: caused my anti-social attitude, lack of religion, just being "bad") to the fact that my parents did not check me at reading science fiction and Mad magazine.

    Bear in mind, in the 1960s the Burroughs stories and several others had Frazetta covers, and what red blooded adolescent male would pass up something like that? The "Moon Maid" STILL gives me goose bumps, and I'm sixty three. My gay cousin (same age) gave me his solemn word that the gay community felt the same way about the Frazetta covered books. He opined that for a lot of people, the pages could have been blank and no one would have noticed.

    Can't say he was far wrong...

  3. I was told and told and told, "Stand up for yourself, think for yourself, don't let anyone else make up your mind for you..."

    My mother doesn't know quite how far I've traveled from Christianity. She does know, however, that I no longer go to church and that I simply don't care for religion in any way.

    One day I was talking to her and I said that I appreciated the fact that she had taught my sister and I to think for ourselves and not let anyone else tell us what to be. Her response was, "I'm starting to think that I made a mistake in doing that."

    It was...shocking...

  4. The reasoning the Opiner gave was interesting, however, mostly for what it omitted. His reasoning was that these "media influences" portrayed men, marriage, and relationships negatively.

    No word on whether he cares about the negative portrayal of women in any of the items he lists. Aside from porn, I guess how women are portrayed in these items is totes perfect.

  5. No word on whether he cares about the negative portrayal of women in any of the items he lists.

    What? Why would that matter?

    See, a woman is like a car. You go to the dealership (church) with a list of desired features (not fat, cooks) and the price you're willing to pay (will allow myself to be nagged sometimes and occasionally agree to throw out that one old shirt with the mustard stains). Then, should you find an attractive model with the features you want for the price you're willing to pay, you make a deal and sign on the dotted line.

    Ergo, a negative portrayal of a woman in the media is exactly like reading a negative review of, say, a Ford Mustang in Motor Trend. It just doesn't matter.

    Also, if anyone needs me, I'll be in the shower scrubbing myself down with a brillo pad...


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