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Religion and “Safe Spaces”

The general myth about “safe spaces” is that ultra leftie liberal types need them to be protected from things that they don’t like. Typically this is a pejorative levelled at them by conservative-right wing types who still want to call homosexuals “fag” or “dike” and not have to worry about being confronted by a person who is bothered by it. It’s often used in the same breath as “trigger warning” which is allegedly for students who don’t want to see certain kinds of images or have to read certain ideas. I teach at a liberal arts college, with a heavy science department, and have never once been instructed to offer either of these things. I only use the phrase “trigger warning” ironically, and usually after the thing that would have needed the warning. None of my students have reported any kind of instruction about either of these things, and one of them, said that she had also only heard the term “trigger warning” as a joke.

Legitimately these are issues that require these types of things. Trigger warnings came about in response to people who are suffering from PTSD. Someone that has gone through war, for example, may react badly to scenes of violence. Safe spaces usually have to do with harassment, and the space involves a refuge from that. In both cases I don’t see the problem with either concept.

So what makes this interesting to me and relevant to this blog, is the type of person that actually takes action to demand a safe space is also the type of person that so casually dismisses them while deriding the stereotype of who they think uses them. Typically it’s ultra conservative religious individuals who can’t stomach any kind of criticism or even the existence of belief systems that aren’t there own. They especially don’t like the competing idea of “nothing” and sue, take to social media, to air their outrage that someone thinks different than they do.

Let’s take Pakistan who has approached both Facebook and Twitter with a request to allow them to track down those individuals who use the platforms to utter blasphemous things about god. To my knowledge,  a of this writing, neither platform has agreed. This request has been made to help Pakistan enforce its blasphemy laws which are enforceable with the death penalty in some cases, though extra-judicial enforcement usually takes care of things as well. According to the BBC, some critics claim that these laws are problematic because they are used to oppress minorities….yeah, that’s really not nailing the issue at hand.

The issue is that the religious conservatives in Pakistan (and other Islamic countries where these kinds of laws are on the books) can’t stand to have their delicate sensibilities frightened by the specter of someone thinking differently. However this is an extreme example in a country where the theocrats can get away with it. In New Zealand there’s some moderate outcry over a Satanist group that is holding a charity drive–Soles for Satan–which is taking donations of clothing for the poor in New Zealand. One religious group has likened it to a good deed from a gang. To which the reply ought to be, “so?”

In the US, we see the same thing. Some Christian doesn’t like the fact that the girl at Starbucks doesn’t wish them a “Merry Christmas” and they get so upset they start a ban Starbucks movement, or some other store where the aforementioned “insult” occurred. They protest the teaching of science in science classes, of sex in sex ed classes, and really don’t like when they are just aware of the existence of homosexuals.

Whereas atheists like myself drive to work and pass 15 churches (I have a long commute) on the way to and then 15 on the way back yet require nothing to help myself deal with it. Every time I go grocery shopping around this time of year I pass a rather large Easter display and those disgusting cadberry eggs in celebration of an event that I don’t believe in and am pretty sure never happened. I suppose in this, I share an equal outrage amongst the Christian extremists who also hate Cadberry because they didn’t put “Happy Easter” on the box…even though it’s totally on there.

Which one of us requires the safe space? My only offense at the Easter display is that my three year old wants candy, and she can’t have it because she’s got an allergy to an ingredient so I have to deal with that. However I’m not personally offended. Just a little annoyed at the pleadings of a sad three year old with giant doe eyes.

If it offends you, fine, I get part of it I used to be really religious, but remember when you accuse others of needing a safe space that you’re asking for literally the same thing. It’s just blatant hypocrisy, though that’s kind of their thing though.

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