Let’s Go Burn Some Books, by Mike Gold
I haven’t seen the movie The Golden Compass, but I will, and soon. I don’t care if it’s a complete piece of crap – I want to see it because the Religious Right told me not to.
They say that sort of thing a lot. Here’s what pissed me off. They said the author of the books upon which the movie is based, Philip Pullman, is an atheist. They’re afraid that if your children like the movie, they might actually pick up the book and read it. Somehow, the book will destroy their belief in the unigod.
Now that seems a little paranoid to me, but even if it happens, well, damn, we sure don’t want kids to make up their own minds – overruling the evidently flimsy influences of their parents, their relatives, their pastors, and their friends just by reading a damned book, right?
This sort of thing frightens me. According to these folks, we live in a Christian nation, founded by good Christian god-fearing men who were really, really stupid when they built religious freedom into our Constitution.
I’ll tell you what scares me even more. Last week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, and I quote, “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” Say what? Historically, organized religion and its militant outreach has been an astonishingly awesome suppressor of freedom. That’s history, folks, and we’ve had a hell of a lot of wars, crusades, pogroms, inquisitions, cross-burnings, and Jihads to prove it.
“In recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning,” Romney went on to say. “They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.”
Well, I do think religion is a private affair. You should be able to believe in anything you want, and so should I. My right to do so stops at your right to do so, and vice versa. In his language, Romney was excluding atheists, Hindus, Confucians, Santerians, Scientologists, Buddhists and many other Americans. He backed it up with a threat: “Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our Constitution rests.” He, and sadly many other Americans, want our nations’ laws to work in the favor of certain religions to the exclusion of others, as well as those who, like Philip Pullman, chose not to indulge in such beliefs. One would think that should be their right.
Back in the 1980s, The 700 Club flipped out at the comic books of the day. Pat Robertson condemned such efforts as Thor, Son of Satan, the X-Men and The New Teen Titans – Robin and Starfire sharing a bed blew his little mind. Pass laws that enforce any religious philosophies and we’ve got the Ku Klux Klan (who burned my grandfather’s shack in Indianapolis down in the mid-1920s) out of the Kloset.
Let’s honor our nation’s founders by believing them to be intelligent enough to know what they were doing when they wrote and passed the Bill of Rights.
And pass the popcorn.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.