Friday, March 28, 2008

Note to self: Don't spraypaint churches!

I have to confess, I was a little concerned at the time of my last post. I mean, if the Sentinel was going to write editorials that I agreed with how could I possibly argue against them? It was a terrible quandary.

But never fear, thanks to some idiot with goofy hair and bad taste in music the Sentinel has written another dumb editorial! It's entitled Serious crimes deserve serious bails.

Please note that if you misread that title--as I did--as "Serious crimes deserve serious balls" it's much, much funnier.

Nevertheless, the concept that "serious crimes deserve serious bails" isn't that hard to agree with. I mean, you don't want a murderer getting out on $20 in coupons or anything like that. So what's the supposedly serious crime in question?

Well, it was some dopey teenager spraying graffiti on a bunch of churches, of course. Not just any graffiti, though! "Offensive" graffiti that made some religious folks lose their faith suffer financial hardship feel bad.

What sort of graffiti?
Griffin and an alleged accomplice scrawled messages like, "Jesus didn't rise again," "(Expletive) Jesus," and "You brainwashed zombies," on the churches.

He also confessed to spraypainting a vile message about Mary, who Christians believe is the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, but it is too obscene to print in this community newspaper.
Damn you Sentinel, I want to know what that vile message is! Because the other ones, while not exactly high-caliber works of prose, don't actually seem all that bad to me.

Hell, "Jesus didn't rise again" is one I fully agree with, though I wouldn't go writing it on a church. And "Fuck Jesus" and "You brainwashed zombies" are not really super-substantive. I mean, it's not like he wrote "I'm going to burn your church down" or painted a swastika on a synagogue (which sort of has the same implication).

To put it in perspective, if he wrote "Fuck the principal" on a school or "Hannaford has poor security practices" on a supermarket I really doubt it would be front page news. It would still be pretty dumb, because graffiti is always pretty dumb (with extremely rare exceptions for actual talented graffiti artists).

To wit, he actually did paint on a school, but what he wrote there doesn't seem to have been reported. Because nobody cares, because it's just stupid fucking graffiti made by a dumbass.

Anyway, instead of keeping his mischief-making to those sorts of simple targets that nobody cares about, he went and graffiti-ed up a church. Big mistake! People get freaked out over such things. They take out $1,600 bounties on your head and write editorials and talk about "hate crimes!"

You see, despite being a secular nation (albeit one where open atheists can't get elected) and despite the Founding Fathers' best efforts to keep religion and government totally separate, religions enjoy a privileged place in American society.

If you start criticizing religion, people get very upset. And the big religions have a lot of money and power. Fucking with them is bad news. You don't get a $1,600 bounty on your head by being a dick to just any old group, but you do if you start fucking with Christians (who I thought were supposed to be all about forgiveness, but I guess I was wrong).

The point I'm making here is it's not the crime (petty spraypaint-based vandalism) that has people upset and calling this a "serious crime," it's that he had the nerve and the terrible judgment to go after religion.

This bothers the fuck out of me.

I'm an unabashed liberal. Legislation about "hate crimes" is often put forth by liberal politicians. So that might lead you to think I back "hate crime" legislation.


You can't legislate hate away. You can no more prevent hate with laws that you can fight a war against an emotion (like "terror," for instance). If you try, it leads to a horrifying Orwellian state where we're judging people not on their actions, but on their thoughtcrime. I don't care if your target is religious beliefs or gays or certain racial groups or hippies or whatever. It's a bad idea to let the law consider a person's private beliefs when it should just be dealing with their actions.

Here's a quote from the Sentinel's editorial:
Remarkably, the suspect, Brian Griffin, 19, of 10 Power Mills Road, Phillipston, admitted that he and his alleged accomplice were trying to essentially get a rise out of churchgoers by spraypainting such hateful messages on churches shortly before Easter.

"We decided some sort of religious reference would offend a lot of people," Griffin wrote. "After we left the school, we decided it would be a good prank to do the same to local churches."

But now that he has been arrested, Griffin is claiming he did not intend the anti-Christian graffiti as a hate crime.
Okay, Griffin is a fucking idiot. That's established. But the editorialist seems to believe that just because this fuckwit was trying to get a "rise out of churchgoers" (which I suspect is the point of most graffiti, albeit with different groups targeted), that means he hates Christians.

I don't buy it.

Now, in addition to being a liberal, I'm quite openly an atheist. I don't believe Jesus rose from the dead. I've also almost certainly characterized certain religious zealots as "brainwashed" at times. Most of the world agrees with me about the Jesus thing, and I'm willing to bet a fair number agree about the brainwashing.

So I, and many other people, at least agree with some of the things Dumbfuck McBadhaircut wrote. But that doesn't mean I hate people who believe in God, so I see no reason to believe this guy does either.

Admittedly, I'm not idiot enough to spraypaint churches. Still, I've been known to get into hour-long conversations with those Mormon guys who go door-to-door trying to convert people. They try to sway me towards Jesus, I try to make them question their own belief system, and much fun is had!

Really, as long as they keep it out of my face (and my government) I couldn't care less what they believe. There's no more point in hating religious people than there is in hating people who actually believe what they read in their horoscope, or in hating kids for believing in Santa Claus. I see all these beliefs as pretty stupid, but if people enjoy it then who am I to complain?

Furthermore, Griffin has said "I have nothing against the Christian religion," and while that may seem hard for a lot of people to believe, it's not like you or I can actually know how he feels. Until we can read minds, we have to take him at his word.

Hate doesn't need to factor into things at all. He wanted to provoke a reaction. He knew attacking religion would provoke a reaction (I sort of doubt he actually realized how big a reaction, though). So yeah, he got what he wanted. Of course, then he felt bad and turned himself in. So you have to assume not a whole lot of brainpower went into this action in the first place. There's a lot of stupidity at work, but not a lot of hate.

It boils down to this:

This Griffin guy did something moronic, but it's hardly the huge deal people want to make it out to be. He didn't do something violent, and he didn't do any major property damage. He did some petty vandalism and hurt some people's feelings. The first part is illegal, the second is perfectly legal. It's not a serious crime, it's a fucking stupid one. Nobody's being oppressed, nobody's faith has been shattered, nobody's actually been hurt in any way. So get over it, people! Let the kid learn his lesson and move on, like everyone else who's ever done graffiti.

Still, there's another part to the Sentinel editorial that goes beyond just normal stupidity and enters smack dab into the realm of nearly mythological stupidity:
If Griffin ultimately just gets a slap on the wrist for his desecration of these churches, then other teens will get the clear message that it's okay to vandalize churches, schools or anyplace else they want to.
What are you smoking, Sentinel editorial guy?

Okay, first a minor point before addressing the most profound idiocy; "desecration?" Seriously? Here's the word's definition:
blasphemy, sacrilege (blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character)
Fine, I'll admit that blasphemy is technically illegal in Massachusetts, but that's an ancient and profoundly unconstitutional blue law that is never enforced (for good reason). You seriously can't prosecute somebody for that. And I fail to see how a little spraypaint deprives a church of its "sacred character." It's not the paint that makes a church sacred, after all. So this is hardly "desecration." It's a nice loaded word though, so nice try!

Far more significant and idiotic is the claim that people will think it's okay to vandalize places if there's not some sort of big bail set. You almost get the feeling that the editorialist truly believes that the reason people don't vandalize churches more often is because they're afraid of having a high bail set, and that if it were legal everyone would be spraying "Fuck Jesus" on churches. Which is deeply, deeply stupid.

Here's some news: Nobody thinks it's okay to vandalize churches, schools, or assorted other places. Griffin didn't. "Other teens" don't. Nobody does! Because it's not!

And that's why they do it! It's a pointless display of adolescent rebellion, not a lack of realization that what they're doing is wrong!

In the end, what point would there be in setting a high bail? It wouldn't prevent anybody from doing anything like this in the future. It wouldn't send any message except that churches get special treatment. It wouldn't clean off the graffiti or mend hurt feelings. So what would it do?

Well, that's obvious. Revenge.
Leviticus 19:18
" 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.

Proverbs 24:29
Do not say, "I'll do to him as he has done to me;
I'll pay that man back for what he did."

1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
Disclaimer: Revenge sucks for purely secular reasons. It's just fun to throw bible verses at people who believe them but have apparently never bothered to read and/or follow them.


fitchburg-shuffle said...

Thank "god" that we have shitheads that do stupid things, passionate morons that get all freaked out by shitheads actions, and total buffoons that actually write their opinions about the whole stupid story.

These people all need to be made fun of. Often.

I'm so glad that the media reports this crap so I can really see how stupid people are. It makes me feel better about myself.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

Please note that if you misread that title--as I did--as "Serious crimes deserve serious balls" it's much, much funnier.

I am so glad I'm not the only one who read it that way.

fitchburg-shuffle said...

It's amazing the balls that are grown with beer and pot. It used to work for me in college. I tried to use the liquid and herbal "courage" to pick up chicks, not write stupid things on churches.

Look at the dope. He can forget about bagging chicks with the stupid hair and a shirt he bought at Newbury Comics. I'll bet his female accomplice wears a hoop in her nose and doesn't shave. Or bathe.

Donna said...

This nation is more pluralistic than secular, but that is a discussion for another time. The Sentinel misses the whole concept behind bail. Deciding bail has to do with dangerousness and risk of flight. This guy is neither dangerous nor a flight risk.

The Unicow said...

Excellent point on the bail, Donna. I wish I'd made it.

As for the pluralistic/secular issue...

If you're talking about the nation as a whole (considering the populace, etc) then yeah, I'd agree it's largely pluralistic. But the government itself is supposed to be secular. The argument could be made that its secular nature has been eroded and even the government is now more pluralistic, but constitutionally this is a secular nation.

Of course, Turkey is often described as being a secular nation too...