As a special New Year's gift to Meirelle, there was really only one candidate for this column this week: That moment when Annalee wished you all a Happy New Year, and the internet? She exploded.
To be fair to the touchier readers in our parish, it wasn't the good wishes that upset people; it was the last word of the introduction:
It is time to celebrate the complete revolution of our planet around the sun by assigning to it an arbitrary number based on a Western myth.
Shall we remember the outrage?
HalenTiberius: "Annalee, are you trying to anger anyone who has any shred of religion in them? I'm not Christian, but that statement pissed me off."
Matt House: "No kidding! Hey here's an idea...insult Islam once in a while and see where that gets ya."
Kiamat: "Ok, so we're starting off the New Year by marginalizing Christian readers...or am I being too broad? Is io9 putting out the Unwelcome mat for all people of faith. Is there a list somewhere or do we have to guess? I suppose we could make a game out of it throughout the year like bingo! The easiest way would be to list the groups who are welcome in the byline. Like IO9: The Blog for Progressive, Atheist, Sci-Fi Fans! (well, actually there was that article about the progressive dystopia so I guess it should be The Blog For Non-religious, Politically Involved, Sci-Fi Fans!) Anyway, happy new year everyone."
The arguments even flowed into the subject of whether Christians were more or less tolerant than Muslims:
Latham99: "Matt, the reason he doesn't insult Islam is because they'll kill him. The worst he could expect out of a Christian is a stern talking to and praying for him."
Discodave: "Well, the Inquisition might have had something to say about that, really. And Islam is not quite as intolerant as all that, to put it mildly. My brother in law's a Turkish Muslim and, last time I checked, he wasn't particularly intolerant or aggressive in his faith. Just saying, you know? No offense."
tetracycloide: "the well reasoned and metered response to a political cartoon featuring an image of Mohammad from the mainstream, international Muslim community begs to differ. Christianity has a long document history of reforming itself from within into a more effective and tolerate religious force over centuries of time, Islam as a religion does not."
Discodave: "I could start talking about the conflict in Ireland here, but I'm thinking that might be pushing this discussion in a whole new and even more depressing direction. Let's agree to disagree, eh?"
tetracycloide: "It's not a matter of opinion to agree to disagree on but if you want to agree to continue to delude yourself into thinking whatever you want then be my guest. Suggesting that the various inquisitions of Christianity are by any objective metric more intolerant than Islamic regimes that exist or have existed in the last decade is totally ludicrous."
MikeSmith: "Since "myth" has been changed to the less-effective "belief system," I believe the Christians who read this page are no longer being properly marginalized.
I would like to offer that service to them now.
I believe they need it.
Christians: your story is a myth, and I mean that not just in the anthropological sense of "a story, or a belief system," but in the more common sense of that word, meaning, "something that is not true...something totally made up."
History, science, archeology, even REALITY, all fail completely to support your fun little story of magic and guilt and violence. Virgin births don't happen, though there's no shortage of historical messiah figures from both before and after Jesus of Nazareth who were allegedly born that way; the miracles of Jesus were primarily written about decades and even generations after they allegedly took place; and the original book of Matthew completely failed to mention that Jesus ever came back from the dead—kind of an important detail, you might think.
Anyway, every religion on the planet has their beliefs—their myths, if you will—so wanting special preference for Christianity's unprovable story really just sounds petulant and irrational. You should no more be offended over Christianity's beliefs being referred to as myths than you should over hearing the beliefs of African tribesmen and Navajo medicine men referred to in that way.
Really, grow up, and get the hell over yourselves. If you want to continue believing stories that have no more facts to back them up than anyone else's unprovable stories, then you might want to grow some thicker skin while you're at it. Or at least shut up about it all."
Can't anyone put this in some perspective?
Elizabeth Weinbloom: "Dammit, Annalee. I feel totally marginalized. Is there no safe space for believers in the Sun's rotation around the Earth? Next thing you'll be telling me that people with different political beliefs like the same tv shows as me. Or posting about franchises that are only marginally science fiction."
Moff: "As a small-universer, I object to her description of our corner as 'tiny,' as well."
Grey_Area: "And why is Annalee restricting her New Year's greetings only to humans? What a bigot!!"
Moff: "I don't think there's anything 'big' about it at all (except how much offendedness I feel!)! More like a smallgot."
meirelle wants an F-15: "I'm sure all the Furries and Otherkin feel left out. :("
Grey_Area: "And all the robots. Those poor, lonely robots."
Elizabeth Weinbloom: "Sorry, I don't believe in robots."
Grey_Area: "Puny meatbag, your belief is not required, only your utter submission to your emotionally unbalanced cybernetic masters. Happy New Year!"
The final word on the subject - and on New Year in general, however, belongs to gods-n-clods:
Everybody can jibber-jabber all they want— what I know is that Western Civ's New Year sucks. Everything's closed today. Chinese New Year— now that is a party. Bring the dragons n' firecrackers n' buffets n' karaoke, and you can keep this "Quiet Thursday '09" BS.
Get rid of New Year, and then no-one will get offended. Sounds right to me.