I don't do religion. I don't believe in gods or goddesses or supernatural spirits. Frankly, the whole notion of an invisible character in the sky, all knowing and all powerful strikes me as silly. For me, the greatest and most worthy of human endeavours is in the arts. True creation, fueled only by courage, curiosity and determination, art is that which truly illuminates. That being said, I do not begrudge anyone their beliefs, their idols or their gods. I recognize that the act of belief has a power unto itself and that such belief can give great comfort to those who choose to seek it.
Just the same, I recognize that religion like any powerful force can be used to do wrong. Crusades, jihad, inquisitions, all are the sins of organized religion and they have a long and terrible cost. Creatures like Fred Phelps and his lunatic enclave of inbred fanatics seek to do harm to others in the name of their particular brand of faith. With the freedoms guaranteed by secular rule, I am within my rights to disagree and speak against such individuals and organizations. Still, it would never occur to me to disrupt a service, even at Phelps Westboro Baptist. And I would certainly never stoop to desecrating his altar or destroying his Bible.
Sadly, that consideration is not repaid in kind. Jen at the News Blog reports that a group of more than 80 Christianists staged a protest against writer and monologuist Mike Daisey. As a performer, I can assure you that there is no more daunting place to be than alone onstage. When it goes well, it's all adrenaline and chocolate. When things don't click, it is a small eternity of discomfort and self-doubt. These ignorant, self righteous zealots, determined to be offended, rose en masse during Mr. Daisey's performance in Boston and began to walk out. But not being satisfied with simply disrupting the event for the artist and the true audience, they got on stage and poured water over his hand written notes, destroying them.
With their damage done, they continued to file out of the theatre and not one of them had the courage or the good grace to explain their actions or engage in dialogue with either the artist or the people in attendance. I'm sure that in their little empty hearts and heads they felt that they had struck a blow for decency because the artist used naughty words and discussed issues of the body and the bawdy. No doubt their actions were premeditated, no doubt they felt quite proud of their ignorant behaviour. No doubt these are the same sort of folks that whine and moan about the quashing of free speech when they aren't allowed to insert their faith into the lives of others and into the schools, governmental institutions and the laws of the free people among whom they live. Evidently their idea of freedom includes the desecration of art. I don't feel sorry for them but they are deserving of pity.
They chose the path of confrontation. They made a determined effort to cause harm. And they performed their callous act in the most cowardly possible fashion. If this is what they have gathered from the teachings of their Bible, then their Bible is nothing but a sham. Their faith is a lie. They are no better and little different from those that would seek to rule by their own very human interpretation of a god's word. They are no different from the clerics of sharia, I hope their god forgives them, I don't.
You can read Mike Daisey's response to and see the video of this vulgar scene at his site mikedaisey.com.