I was just reading an article by an atheist. He said, among other things, that he believes all religions are equally ridiculous. Then he further went on to say that he didn’t care what (if any) religion we practice “as long as you are kind.”
The atheist in question: Ricky Gervais.
The article in question: A lengthy two-page defense of his Golden Globes jokes from last year wherein he parsed the funny out of each and every one. After turning each “Oh no he di-int!” into a snore he then went on to recast himself as a martyr for the cause of truth in humour. And then he made a couple really prejudiced remarks about obesity.
…As long as you are kind.
Huh. I guess what I think “kindness” is and what Gervais believes it to be are not necessarily the same thing. I don’t think it’s kind to mock fat people. (“It’s not big bones. It’s big bones covered in meat and gravy.”) I don’t think it’s kind to taunt someone about their past stumbles with drugs and alcohol or about their sexuality.
My policy over the years has been to ignore Ricky Gervais. He was funny for five minutes in The Office but then went on to play that jerk repeatedly. There are only so many times I can squirm while watching someone act inappropriately, and since that’s the foundation of what Gervais calls humour I figured that I’d do better to not give him the attention he so desperately craves.
So why now? Why am I picking on Ricky at this juncture? Well, because there’s been a whole lot of attention paid to the harm caused by bullying lately. Most of my friends have shared their tales of being bullied–sad things that range from being mocked for appearance to actually being set on fire. Celebrities are doing public service announcements to buoy the spirits of kids on the brink of self-harm because of what bullies have done to him.
Ricky Gervais is a bully. You can call it what you want and dress it up in free speech and honesty in humour. Nevertheless it’s bullying pure and simple. I have bullies in my life and if there’s one thing they excel at, it’s being able to sense a person’s weakness. If the bully is stupid they just mock. If they’re clever they are funny about their mocking. And then people write it off saying “Oh, that’s just Bobby’s sense of humour! You have to take it with a grain of salt.”
I’m done with pretending that it’s okay to be cruel as long as you bring cleverness to your cruelty.
So why did I bring up Gervais’ atheism? I should clear that up, even though the entry isn’t about that. Atheism is a valid choice (whether or not I say it is, really.) But in this case you have a person who is staunchly atheist because they believe the religions of the world to be the primary source of hate–something Gervais has said often in interviews. Then you have this same person making a nice fat living off hating albeit hating funny-style. So I’d like to point out once again that this bolsters my belief that the fault lies not within religion itself but within mankind. I also needed for my own sanity to point out the sheer irony of this man demanding kindness from everyone else.