Oh, Billo

I wasn’t surprised when I starting seeing around the Interwebs that Bill O’Reilly, in an interview with David Silverman of American Atheists and meme fame, claimed that Christianity was a philosophy rather than a religion. What did surprise me, however, was that he was so adamant in the claim. I had figured he just said yet another stupid thing in passing, but that wasn’t the case. He really meant it. Check out the video.

Billo goes on to call atheists fascists for having objections to government-endorsed religious icons, symbology, and content. That, of course, was quite silly. I think Silverman held his own quite well, not letting Billo push him around. I do, however, think he had two points of falter. First, he said atheism was a philosophy. It isn’t. It is highly compatible with certain philosophies, such as humanism, but it is not itself a philosophy. It can’t be. It’s descriptive. Second, he said he would be forced to take Christmas off because it’s a federally mandated holiday. I think what he meant was that federal employees and those who work in certain other areas of the economy would be forced to take the day off, being prevented from conducting business as usual at the post office, city hall, etc. This was a small trip due to a lack of specificity. Overall, I think he did very well.

All that said, I do happen to be okay with Christmas’ status as a federal holiday. Past court rulings have provided a legitimate basis for why this is not an endorsement of religion: The day has been sufficiently secularized. Between the commercialism and routine traditions such as vacation time (and maybe even watching A Christmas Story), the day is not about Christianity as far as the government is concerned. Perhaps 100 years ago a different ruling would have been in order (though, given the cultural context, unlikely), but such a reaction is no longer needed today.

But then, what do I know? I’m just a fascist.

Bill O’Reilly is a hack and a liar

I was going to title this post “Bill O’Reilly is an idiot and a liar”, but I like to be careful with who I call stupid. Sarah Palin is a moron. Jack Hudson is genuinely dumb. But Billo? I think he’s a hack and his zone is nothing if not spin, but I don’t think he’s stupid. In fact, he seems to be a fairly smart guy with pretty decent wit. It’s just too bad he’s also a liar sometimes.

I don’t make it a habit to watch The Factor, but I did catch a couple of minutes of it tonight. The guest was some sort of body language expert who was analyzing the President and Romney from the most recent debate. When she got to the part where Romney stepped into a trap that was half his own doing, claiming the President never called the embassy assault an “act of terror”, Billo had two big points to make. First, he said he thought Romney won that exchange. Seriously. He actually thinks Romney didn’t look like a complete fool. If that isn’t hackery, I don’t know what is. Second, he said he had already debunked on a previous show the notion that the President used the phrase “act of terror”. Let’s go to the tape:

The knockout punch begins at the 57 second mark.

Now, there is plenty of room for discussion here. As moderator Candy Crowley noted, and as Romney was attempting to say, this recent attack was not labeled terrorism is any meaningful sense until weeks after it occurred. Mixed messages were sent and I suspect there are two good reasons why. First, it’s politically inconvenient for a president to say terrorists successfully attacked us, especially right before an election. Second, intelligence information takes time to stream in and it gets updated frequently early on. This was probably exasperated by the fact that the FBI was unable to get into Libya for some time. (Hell, CNN reporters are the ones who waltzed in to find Ambassador Chris Stevens’ private journal.) So, sure, a real discussion can be had over all this, but that doesn’t change the fact that the President called this an “act of terror” the following day, Mitt Romney did not know that fact, and this exchange constituted one of the highlights of the debate because the former governor was flummoxed and fact-checked on the spot.

Next thing you know, these Republicans are going to start saying Jim Lehrer did a good job, Martha Raddatz was the worst moderator ever, Paul Ryan either tied or won his debate, and Candy Crowley pandered too much to women by asking topical questions…

Apparently basic logic is too difficult for Billo

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t believe that the Norway shooter Breivik is a Christian:

On Monday night’s show, O’Reilly was outraged that The New York Times described Breivik as a “Christian extremist” in a page-one headline, declaring that being an “anti-Muslim bigot” is what drove him, “not Jesus, not being baptized.” O’Reilly went on to assert that this was part of “a movement in the American media to diminish and marginalize the Christian philosophy.” Later in the show, O’Reilly said the Times’ headline was done to “give jihadists quarter or something like that, diminish the threat of them,” asserting that “the liberal media is so protective of extreme Islam, when it hates the left. … At The New York Times, they would all be hung.”

This one really shouldn’t be that hard. Just admit that Breivik is a self-identified Christian, but qualify that acknowledgement of the truth with the observation that he does not represent mainstream Christianity. I mean, in terms of in-group mentality he does, but in terms of action, no, he certainly does not. That should be good enough. No one is going to start thinking that, oh, I guess all Christians like to kill innocent people.

But no. O’Reilly can’t be that honest. He has to pretend that Breivik was somehow not motivated by his faith because labeling him both a Christian and an extremist would make him seem like all those icky brown towel wearing people. And I can understand O’Reilly’s motivations here. Many Americans, including Papa Bear himself, do look at Muslims with an unjustified eye of suspicion. They do this because of the publicity given to a few of their acts, not to mention the simple fact that they represent an out-group. Most Americans are Christians, and all religions encourage a negative view of anyone who is different. So yeah, it makes sense for O’Reilly to hold the view he does. It isn’t honest, but it makes sense.

O’Reilly continued his obsession on Tuesday’s show during a segment with The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn. As Quinn pointed out that Breivik called himself a Christian, invoked the name of Jesus and discussed the nature of his faith, O’Reilly insisted that “there’s no evidence that ties this guy to Christianity,” dismissing Breivik’s self-description by claiming that “Mussolini called himself a Christian.”

Uh-huh. There’s no evidence. Except for that evidence.

But O’Reilly wasn’t done. He went on to invoke the “No True Scotsman” fallacy (as others have), essentially claiming that Breivik couldn’t be a Christian because “they’re nonviolent.” When Quinn noted that most Muslims would not consider accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan a Muslim, O’Reilly objected: “I’m not saying he was a good Muslim. I’m saying that he was a Muslim terrorist because he carried a business card that said ‘Soldier of Allah,’ and he committed his crimes in the name of Allah.” He added, “The guy in Fort Hood, he was acting in the name of his religion. He killed because he believed that Allah told him to kill. The guy in Norway didn’t kill because he thinks Jesus wanted him to kill those people. Jesus had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t even cited. And using the word ‘Christian’ to label this guy is dishonest.”

Right, Billo, it’s everyone else who is being dishonest here. Everyone else is taking these two exact same situations – violent acts of highly-publicized murder motivated by a heap of crazy and a dash of religion – and twisting them around. Why can’t everyone see how dissimilar they are?!

This is as bad as all those dishonest Christians who claim Hitler believed in evolution. We know he was a Christian creationist who was raised Catholic and constantly professed a belief in Jesus and God. That doesn’t particularly indict Christianity. We have plenty of other things that do the trick. For example, blatant dishonesty.

You can’t explain that

Bill O’Reilly made a massive ass of himself last month when he said no one could explain the tides. He was trying to put forth the argument from design or maybe an argument for a fine-tuned Universe, but he was unable to articulate his position. He then went and made things worse (but more hilarious) with this:

As a result, there’s a new meme.

Gays are like terrorists

That’s what Bill O’Reilly thinks.

Gay groups tossed Fox’s Bill O’Reilly into the deep fryer Thursday for mocking a gay-friendly McDonald’s airing in France – and burning up the web.

The ad features a teen chatting his boyfriend on the phone while his dad is at the Mickey D’s food counter. He hurriedly hangs up and smiles wryly when his dad sits down and tells him he can have any girl he wants.

“Do they have an Al-Qaeda ad?” O’Reilly asked Wednesday night on his Fox show.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2010/06/03/2010-06-03_bill_oreilly_draws_calls_for_apology_after_he_mocks_gay_friendly_mcdonalds_ad_on.html#ixzz0pqi1Rl00

It’s hard to see how context adds anything that helps Billo here. After he and Jane Skinner are confused over why McDonald’s would make such an ad, he compares it to the validity of an ad for al-Qaeda. They apparently don’t get that McDonald’s is trying to reach out to all parts of society. That’s why they always have a black guy, Asian woman, and a few other minorities on their products and in their commercials. They want to come across as non-discriminatory. Billo has to be stupid to think that means they want to also reach out to terrorists.

I just hope they make another ad with the same actors where the kid comes out to his dad.

Bill does something right

Albert Snyder’s son, Matthew A. Snyder, was a marine who died in Iraq in a non-combat situation. When the family held Matthew’s funeral, they were ‘protested’ by the Westboro Baptist Church, complete with the most distasteful signs possible. This led to a lawsuit against the moronic church. Albert Snyder initially won $10 million (which was then reduced to $5 million). However, that decision was reversed on appeal, with the court citing free speech protections. As a result, Snyder was ordered to pay $16,500 in legal fees to the hatemongers he had sued. He’s going to appeal to the Supreme Court (which will hear the case in the fall), but until then Bill O’Reilly has actually done something decent.

O’Reilly had previously interviewed Snyder about the case, and in Tuesday’s edition of his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” the cable host announced that he would gladly pay Snyder’s debt. “I am not going to let this injustice stand,” O’Reilly declared. “It’s obvious [the Westboro protesters] were disturbing the peace by disrupting the funeral. They should have been arrested, but our system is so screwed up … that the loons are allowed to run wild.”

I’m glad to see O’Reilly using his money like this. There’s no need to strip Snyder of any more of his humanity.

“Basically the atheists are just stupid…” … “Lol.”

An atheist group has a sign up in the Illinois state capitol which reads as follows:

At this season
may reason prevail.

There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but
a myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

This is the same message that was posted in the Washington state capitol last year. If you click that link, you’ll see Bill O’Reilly’s take on the issue. Now he has the genuinely dumb Ann Coulter chiming in this year.

First Billo says atheists are stupid for making people angry. Really? Bill O’Reilly is making this a central part of his argument? It’s a strategy that has clearly brought him success.

The next point he makes is that this is a “Christian-generated holiday”. First of all, Christmas has its roots outside Christianity. Second of all, it’s a federal holiday that the Supreme Court has ruled has been secularized to the point where it sufficiently lacks enough religious connection to be allowable as a holiday in the first place. As I said last year, if it was deemed to simply be a Christian celebration, it would not be a federal holiday today. Third, the Illinois state capitol does not endorse Christianity.

For some bizarre reason, Billo then says that atheists are demanding to be allowed to call people “idiots” for believing in Christianity or Christmas. First, no. Second, I ‘believe’ in Christmas. I plan on celebrating it like I have every year. I don’t intend on telling everyone at the Christmas party to stop being idiots, myself included. Third, the atheist group is stating its position that belief in gods and devils and angels and other such things are false beliefs. If a Jewish group put up a sign saying there is no hell, that would inherently be telling hell-believing religions they are wrong. Would Billo and Little Anny Coulter be jumping down their throats? Christ. It’s a group promoting its view. Deal with it.

Billo next says it’s just insulting to be called an idiot. Again, no one did that here, but if it makes him feel better, I can get rid of this strawman for him: Billo. You’re an idiot.

Little Anny then goes off into kook land and claims that the U.S. was established on the belief in God and makes distinctions between religions. She’s an idiot, too.

Finally Little Anny tries her hand at analogies. Being someone who is genuinely dumb, she fails – as one should expect. She says this is all like everyone bringing in a picture of his or her pet but then one person brings in a sign that says “I hate Fluffy and Fluffy sucks”. She concludes that this doesn’t fit within “the public forum definition” and thus shouldn’t even be tolerated. (Conveniently, she just defined herself as a bigot for me. Thanks, Anny.) In other words, the Illinois state capitol is open to religious displays and religious displays only. I find this fascinating since Little Anny has time and again argued that atheism is a religion. I guess if atheist signs should be banned for not being religious, then atheism isn’t a religion. Crazy! Who would have thought a genuinely dumb person would hold entirely contradictory positions at once?