The Misdefinition of “Respect”

I keep seeing theists whine that atheists don’t give them “respect”.  Now I’ll be honest, I don’t respect theism, in fact, I absolutely detest it, but in general, I don’t care what people believe, nor have I any ability to control what goes on between their ears, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.  That’s about as much respect as I’m going to give theists on their theism, the same respect I’m going to give pedophiles and racists.  Think what you want, keep it to yourself, grant me the same treatment.  Easy enough.

But not for the theists.  In fact, what they’re looking for isn’t respect at all, it’s validation.  They don’t want people to simply respect their ability to believe what they want, they want people to make them feel good about believing it.  You can’t question what they believe, you can’t ask them to  back any of it up and you certainly can’t criticize their beliefs or tell them they’re irrational for believing it.  You have to stroke their ego.

I call bullshit.  I have no obligation whatsoever to make anyone feel good about anything they allow into their heads.  I keep using racism and pedophilia as analogies and, to be honest, I think they’re good ones.  I think religion, like those, is a mental poison, but religion, unlike those, gets away with it in society.  Walk down the street declaring you’re a racist or a pedophile and you’ll get insults, and rightfully so.  Walk down the street declaring you’re a theist and you’ll largely get lauded for it.  All three harm the individual and society though, even if they don’t do any more than pollute the mind of believers.

A similar subject came up recently when a guy started bragging about his tattoos and wanted everyone to compliment him.  I said I didn’t find tattoos attractive.  I was being honest, I think that the modern movement to draw all over people with permanent marker is ridiculous and childish.  I didn’t insult him directly, I didn’t tell him he was a fool, I just said I don’t like tattoos.  He got pissed off and declared I wasn’t respecting him, just because I wasn’t validating what he did to his body.  Hey, his body, his right to do whatever he wants to, it doesn’t mean I have to approve.

If you really want to hate people with a skin color different than your own inside your own head, fine by me.  I’m still going to think you’re an idiot, but hey, knock yourself out.  If you really want to hate the Jews, feel free, just don’t try to start Holocaust 2: Electric Boogaloo.  If you want to believe in a magic man in the sky, go for it, just stay off my doorstep.  When you open your mouth with your foolish ideas, expect to be criticized for them.  As the old saying goes, “if you don’t want to be ridiculed, don’t believe ridiculous things.”  The same can be said for “if you want your beliefs respected, believe respectable things.”  Why don’t they give that a shot?

But while we’re on the subject of respect and what theists seem to expect, can we please turn it around for a minute?  Theists preach that atheists are going to hell to be tortured for all eternity.  Hey, how about a little respect here?  What they’re really saying is “respect us, we don’t have to respect you”.

It’s all a bunch of hypocritical bullshit.

1 thought on “The Misdefinition of “Respect”

  1. I see this demand for respect or validation of ultimately laughable ideas/customs everywhere.. across cultures (that I know of). I have been scratching my head as well.

    I recently came across a terrific theory from psychology-land, which helped me understand human behaviour a bit better.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Maslow

    It appears that the 'need for self-esteem' hasnt been met for these individuals/groups. Maybe they have been leading loser lives for whatever reason, for e.g. loser jobs. Hence its expressed in this form.

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