Etiquette Rule #5: Everybody Lighten the (Bleep) Up

atheist-golden-ruleMost of the world’s problems are caused by idiots or assholes. That guy who cut you off in traffic because he didn’t see your car? He’s an idiot. The guy who saw you there and cut you off anyway? Asshole. That guy you accidentally cut off who started tailgating you and honking his horn? He’s responding to idiocy with assholery.

The real problem is this: There’s another term for idiots, and another term for assholes. That term is, “us.” We’re all idiots sometimes, and we’re all assholes sometimes. And just as idiots or assholes are the cause of most problems in the world, people who respond to idiocy with assholery are the cause of most of the really big problems in the world.

The Middle East? Here’s why it’s messed up. Thousands of years ago, one of two things happened: Either a Jew was an idiot and an Arab responded by being an asshole, or an Arab was the idiot and a Jew was the asshole. They’ve been fighting ever since over which was which.

So look, here’s the deal. That time you sneezed and someone said “God bless you”? They were being a tiny bit of an idiot. But if you responded by snapping, “There is no God,” or, “sorry, I’m an atheist,” or otherwise denigrating their genuine (if superficial) gesture of sympathy? You were being an asshole. Lighten the (bleep) up. It’s just a figure of speech. So is “God only knows” (you can still like the Beach Boys, really, it’s OK). So is “thank you Jesus” when you get good news, or “there is no God” when you get bad news (not really bad news, just bad enough to be a bummer that merits a wry, self-pitying wisecrack).

(cartoon via My Blasphemous Mouth)

2 responses to this post.

  1. […] You could argue, of course, that every time anyone uses “God” in a figure of speech, they’re helping to perpetuate the hegemony of religious people, organizations and ideas in public (or even private) life. And yeah, that’s a point. But if someone really wants to make an issue out of that, I would refer them to my Rule #5: Everybody Lighten the (Bleep) Up. […]


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