Friday, December 18, 2009

be fair

It really bothers me that people accuse Pullman (or at least imply that Pullman might be) out of line for the views on religion that he expresses in His Dark Materials. He wrote about what he believes and he has the right to do that. I find it really irritating that people act as if Pullman has done something audacious. I am making an assumption, but I am sure Pullman wrote about these things because he believes that they are true and not just for attention or to incite controversy or to anger people. It is embarrassing that anybody would be so uncomfortable about one author disagreeing with them. Lewis and Tolkien were very religious and they wrote blatantly pro-religious work. Why is it any different for Pullman to write blatantly anti-religious work? It would be very different if the group that has expressed outrage at His Dark Materials offered any reason for thinking that Pullman’s are misguided beliefs, but the majority of them seem to take offense solely at the fact that they challenge their ideals. To say that Pullman’s views are “evil” or “blasphemous” is not an argument. Here is an example of a published criticism of His Dark Materials that contains plenty of empty insults but no argument:

“There is no movie any more evil than THE GOLDEN COMPASS. The Golden Compass is book one of a fantasy trilogy written by English author Philip Pullman in the late 1990s called His Dark Materials. Philip Pullman is a sinfully proud, God-hating, militant atheist. In a 2001 interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Pullman said:
“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”
The movie has been dumbed down to fool kids and their parents in the hope that they'll buy his garbage, where in the end the children kill God and everyone can do as they please. Nicole Kidman (Mrs. Coulter) stars in the $180,000,000 movie so it will probably be advertised a lot. The movie is indescribably evil. The word "demon" is repeated several dozen times throughout the movie, as each child has its own lovable demon. Witches by the hundreds are featured in the movie, and are portrayed as being good, helpful and rescuers.
The star character, a little girl named Lyra Belacqua, loves her demon (who takes various animal forms), and she has named him "Pan" (short for Pantalaimon) Pan is the pagan god of sexual rape, lust and fertility. Statues of Pan are often displayed showing him with an erection. Please view Narnia and Pan's Labyrinth."

If you disagree with something to the point that you deem it appropriate to criticize it you should at least produce an actual reason for disagreeing with it. Nowhere here is there a coherent argument for why Pullman’s beliefs are wrong or a real explanation for why they are evil. As a side note, who the fuck cares if there is a character named Pan and that the pagan god Pan is often displayed with an erection? There are several other disturbing factors implicit in such a reaction. To want an opinion censored for fear of its refuting your own is a clear violation of the notions carried by the first amendment, It will almost certainly stunt intellectual growth (if you are wrong and refuse to accept opposing views, you will always be wrong), and attempts to keep certain ways of looking at things from developing individuals limits their freedom as human beings, a thing that most people probably like to think that they value. This leads me to perhaps the most frustrating part of all: a great deal of the attackers of these books seem to be committing the same act that they are attacking the book for committing. Said people presumably do not want these books in print because they consider it an attack on their point of view but the fact that they do not want them printed and publicly chastise an opposing view is obviously a direct attack on that view! They may not want the books in print because they don’t want their kids exposed to the views but in the meantime they adamantly shove their views down their throats and want to erase opposition! The hypocrisy is tangible.

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