Everyone agrees that judging people solely on their race, creed, or religion makes you a bigot. I mean, that's the definition of being prejudiced, right? Seeing something about a person and judging before you truly know them. Prejudging. But more than being politically incorrect, prejudices are often unreliable. After all, ultra conservative McCarthyite Roy Cohn and ultra liberal hippie activist Abbie Hoffman were both Jews. Ultra uptight politician Alan Keyes and ultra laid bizzle rapper Snoop Dogg (Lion?) are both black. (Also, I don't really understand what "creed" means in the context of the first sentence, so I'll just skip over it without an example.)
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"Well, creed means-" Shut up, Scott Stapp.
But just because most prejudices are bad doesn't mean you have to give up being a bigot! There are still a whole bunch of ways to make assumptions about people and dismiss them out of hand without disrespecting their race, creed, or religion. Personally, I like to base my prejudices on other people's heroes. After all, whom people choose to admire at least tells you something about their beliefs. Also, there are certain celebrities and thought-leaders out there who attract followers seemingly hell-bent on being simplified, mischaracterized, and clustered. These fanboys and girls cling to the simplest aspects of their heroes' identities and beliefs. And to them I say: No. Go away. I'm not listening. Even though I barely know you, even if I don't have a problem with your hero, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a problem with you.
These are four celebrities whose fans I'm sure to avoid at parties and online. Fans who speak in cliches I've already heard or new phrases I can anticipate. Fans whose knee-jerk worship, although passionate, sells their heroes short and makes themselves insufferable.
#4. Richard Dawkins
Sorry to disappoint the most rabid commenters of the Net, but the point of this entry is not to engage in a discourse on the existence of God or the sins of organized religion. I've said my piece about that on Cracked before. I'm not even here to take potshots at Richard Dawkins. For those not aware of his work, Richard Dawkins is a former Oxford professor and evolutionary biologist. He is perhaps best known as a spokesman for atheism and his book The God Delusion.
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And for looking unspeakably British.
But Whatever Nice Things You Have to Say About Richard Dawkins, It's OK to Dismiss Most of His Fans Because ...
They simplify his rhetoric to the point of uselessness.
It's true, I find most of Dawkins' thoughts to be more appropriate as a rebuke of man's corrupt practices in organized religion than anything insightful into the possibility of a higher power, but my thoughts on Dawkins personally are not the issue. Undeniably, Dawkins is a highly educated, eloquent, accomplished man with an extensive body of work. But for so many of his knee-jerk atheist fans, he's been reduced to bite-size catchphrases.
Just because he coined the phrase "meme" doesn't mean he should have become one. A scholar's thoughts on concepts like the existence of a higher power and/or man's attempts to pervert the need for such a power into corrupt institutions do not adapt well to Facebook postings. At this point, he is the go-to guy for when the least articulate atheists want to sound smart. He's been reduced to Prof. Spaghetti Monster, Ph.D.
Personally, I couldn't even begin to understand what the use of "religion" means here. Whether it's Bertrand Russell, Penn Jillette, Ricky Gervais, or Dawkins, these indictments of "religion" in general from super white renounced Christians sound very much like specific rebukes of certain forms of Christianity. Not all of the world's religions are adversaries to science, and the fact that Dawkins' website was hacked last week proves that some people who find him offensive actually embrace technology and know how to use computers. But the accuracy of Dawkins' beliefs aside, this kind of useless semantic debate is obviously going to ensue when you reduce complex work to sound bites.
To Dawkins' Worst Fans, I Say ...
Personally, I don't care whether you believe in God or not. I change my mind on the subject daily. I don't care if you can quote The God Delusion cover to cover as if it were some holy book (although odds are that if you like name-dropping Dawkins every two seconds, you probably haven't even read it). Just do me one favor. If you do quote Dawkins, don't drop the mic and leave the stage like nothing more needs to be said, as if the possibility of the divine -- of some form of something beyond our limited conception -- has been obliterated because a highly educated Englishman has constructed something eloquent, reducing all faith to ignorance and fear. Bertrand Russell did that quite well a century before Dawkins, and millions of believers remain. Some of them have actually read Russell and Dawkins and still think there is much to consider and debate because, after all, we're only talking about a simple thing like the meaning of creation and existence.
In the world of pop and rock, KISS may not be incredibly accomplished musicians like the guys in Led Zeppelin or Soundgarden. They may not have talented lyricists like Bob Dylan or Roger Waters. Their songwriting will never be hailed like Lennon/McCartney's or Elvis Costello's. And even with all that makeup, they were not the first to bring theatrics to rock like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and the New York Dolls. Hell, I could write a whole book about all the things KISS are not, but they are important and they are successful and they deserve all that success.
KISS's greatest accomplishments are their bravado and audacity. Ask any musician and they'll tell you: No one in KISS can play for shit except for Ace Frehley. Vocally, they're mediocre at best, and when it comes to clever wordplay, well, my good friend with the unpronounceable name Cyriaque Lamar already explained some of Paul Stanley's brilliant intro banter to that classic song of metaphorical boning, "Love Gun" (spoiler alert -- "Uzi of ooze").
But KISS does deserve praise for the sheer audacity of being KISS. They were unapologetic. They found value in four chords, distortion, and screaming. They decided that if they acted like the biggest, baddest band of all time, they would become one. How brazen were KISS? Consider this: In a band of four members incapable of generating an album's worth of decent material, each member recorded and released a solo album simultaneously.
If your parents have any of these in their collection, you were likely conceived in a van outside of Detroit.
And guess what? Those solo albums flopped. And who cares? Nothing stops KISS, their wild success, or their dedication to putting on big badass shows for their fans. And nothing should.
But Whatever Nice Things You Have to Say About KISS, It's OK to Dismiss Most of Their Fans Because ...
They're not appreciating KISS ironically. KISS is a band best admired for their audacity. They're a guilty pleasure, like putting Nutella on pizza, so indulgent and absurd that you have to drool, eat it, and then move on to food that won't kill you. But most KISS fans think they really are part of the KISS Army. That such an army exists, and that it exists because KISS is the greatest band in the world. Talking to a genuine KISS fan about rock is like talking to a genuine KISS fan about nuclear physics: They have no capacity for such a conversation.
To KISS's Worst Fans, I Say ...
Yeah, yeah, we get it. Rock n' Roll all day and party every night. Woot. They're fun, sure. Take it down a notch.