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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Pullman is a Militant Atheist, The Golden Compass is Evil, Catholic League Boycotts (Page 5)

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Author Topic: Pullman is a Militant Atheist, The Golden Compass is Evil, Catholic League Boycotts
Nathan2006
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I need to read these books... I can't believe any of it's true though... Well, I can, but I didn't initially. On an off note, that's why the title of the thread was so over the top; I didn't think any of it was true.

I'm not making any decisions until I read the book, but it seems like Pullman created a wonderful, magical world, with thought-provoking religious allusions, and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't surpress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.

Of course, this is a snap judgement -- I've never met the man, and can't comment on his stature.

Again, I haven't read the books, but wow! There seems to be quite a case against them.

Of course, if it turns out that the books are really terrible and anti-christian, whenever I discuss them I'll have to include digs about Harry Potter. "Gee, if only we had boycotted the books when they came out in the USA in 1997... But... Weren't we a little occupied with some other books? Some innocent, harmless, quite moral works of fantasy?"

I'm guessing that the CL is boycotting because there's evidence of 'watering-down' the anti-christian elements in the movie. It probably irks them that the movie-makers watered the messege down instead of avoiding the movie altogether. Just a theory. It does seem like a slimy, hollywoodesque thing to do... Assuming that it's true.

[/rambling]

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Dagonee
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quote:
Of course, if it turns out that the books are really terrible and anti-christian, whenever I discuss them I'll have to include digs about Harry Potter. "Gee, if only we had boycotted the books when they came out in the USA in 1997... But... Weren't we a little occupied with some other books? Some innocent, harmless, quite moral works of fantasy?"
You do know that many, many people who have a problem with HDM have no problem with Harry Potter, including the Catholic League, right?
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Threads:
While we may disagree on whether science and history lead to atheism, I think we can agree that they do [generally] lead to less literal interpretations of religious holy books.

Which does not put them in conflict with a whole lot of religions (including Catholicism) that don't interpret the Scriptures literally.

Mucus, you do get, don't you, that there is a vast gap between "doesn't interpret the Creation story literally" and "doesn't believe in a Creator"?

This is a problem that I continue to have with organized atheism. Atheists tend to define religion narrowly as scriptural literalism, decide that that isn't true, and then decide that the only alternative is atheism. This approach disregards a huge segment of religious people who also don't interpret the creation story literally. It sets up a dishonest choice - either blind fundamentalism or atheism. That just isn't the case and it strengthens blind fundamentalism by giving it more credence than it should have.

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Tresopax
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quote:
My only point in bringing up the issue is that many atheists would prefer history and science as methods rather than fiction since they do in fact see them as precursors to atheism.
I suppose it should also be noted that many if not more Christians would prefer study of history and science as methods over fiction since they see them as precursors to forming more accurate Christian beliefs. In particular, study of the Bible as a historical source...

On the other hand, I'd be willing to bet that your average atheist and your average Christian enjoys reading the fiction more than reading history or science nonfiction works.

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MattP
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quote:
This is a problem that I continue to have with organized atheism. Atheists tend to define religion narrowly as scriptural literalism, decide that that isn't true, and then decide that the only alternative is atheism. This approach disregards a huge segment of religious people who also don't interpret the creation story literally. It sets up a dishonest choice - either blind fundamentalism or atheism. That just isn't the case and it strengthens blind fundamentalism by giving it more credence than it should have.
First, there really is no organized atheism, unless you call fans of the "new atheists" organized by nature of their fandom.

Second, I don't think that is a fair characterization of the path to atheism. For me, atheist is the only place to be based on the data that is available to me and it has little to do with how narrow my definition of religion is. I think you are viewing atheists through the other side of same narrow lens that you accuse atheists of using.

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rollainm
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"Atheists tend to define religion narrowly as scriptural literalism, decide that that isn't true, and then decide that the only alternative is atheism."

I don't know any atheists who do this.

edit: or what Matt said.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Nathan2006:

I'm not making any decisions until I read the book, but it seems like Pullman created a wonderful, magical world, with thought-provoking religious allusions, and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't surpress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.
[/rambling]

Just read the book.
Understand that organized religion, like most things hasn't always been sunshine and flowers. Addressing that does not mean being hateful towards religious folks.
Not that I am saying you are, but it's his point of view and he has the right to express it. It's important to deal with the history of things directly even if it's through fiction.
Witch hunts come to mind.

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erosomniac
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quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
"Atheists tend to define religion narrowly as scriptural literalism, decide that that isn't true, and then decide that the only alternative is atheism."

I don't know any atheists who do this.

edit: or what Matt said.

Really? I know quite a few. They aren't representative of atheists or anything--any more than a scriptural literalist is representative of the faithful--but they're there. The ones I know tend to be very vague about what they do and don't believe and why, because it's not very important to them either way.
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kmbboots
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First link on a quick google search: http://www.wotmwatchdog.org/2007/10/what-is-organized-atheism.html

What data is available to you that disproves the possibility of a Creator?

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rollainm
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eros,
I'm sure they exist. You can certainly be stupid, ignorant, or narrow-minded and also be an atheist. But like Matt said, it's an unfair assessment of atheists in general.

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rollainm
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boots,
I'm not sure what your point is, but I've got a few issues with organizations like Watchdog and the Rational Response Squad - and I'm sure most atheists on this forum do as well.

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MattP
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That page includes an important statement:
quote:
It is, however, important to note that these are the statements of one particular atheistic organization.
Most atheists are not organized. In fact, I've never known an atheist who was a member of an organization.

quote:
What data is available to you that disproves the possibility of a Creator?
No data disproves it. Also, no data disproves invisible pink unicorns. So there I am - no evidence for a creator so I don't believe in a creator. Not saying there can't be one, just that there is no positive evidence for one.
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kmbboots
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From Mucus re Dawkins:

quote:
His thoughts about the Scopes trial are in the context of his definition of religion in the God Delusion. Briefly, that is defining a religion as a scientific hypothesis including a creator God. You can read the book for further understanding, it is a bit lengthy to reproduce here. However, you're right, he treats religions such as Buddhism and Taoism which lack a Creator more as philosophies for life rather than religions.
There is no conflict between scientific evidence of evolution and belief in a Creator for many, if not most, Christians.

edit to add: that link was just a quick response to this:

quote:
First, there really is no organized atheism, unless you call fans of the "new atheists" organized by nature of their fandom.

I haven't looked specifically into that particular group.
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MattP
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quote:
There is no conflict between scientific evidence of evolution and belief in a Creator for many, if not most, Christians.
That may be. People disagree on what constitutes a conflict. Dawkins has his opinion and feels it is informed by science. You disagree. C'est la vie.

quote:
I haven't looked specifically into that particular group.
The "new atheists" is what Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens are sometimes referred to as in the popular press.

[ October 23, 2007, 04:31 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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rollainm
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Briefly, the conflict exists in the lack of positive evidence for the existence of a creator and legitimate adherence to the scientific method. But I'm sure others here can explain that much better than I can.
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kmbboots
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When I say there is no conflict, I mean there is no reason that both can't be true.

How does science inform Dawkins that there is a conflict?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:

Folks have absolutely no right to tell people what they can and can't read...

quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Just read the book.

It seems to me that you're telling people what they should and shouldn't read every bit as much as the CL which you condemn for doing so.

Not that I personally think that what you did recommending the book is wrong, just like I don't think that anti-recommending it is wrong.

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MattP
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quote:
How does science inform Dawkins that there is a conflict?
I think the short answer is that everything in the physical world works the way we would expect it to work absent a creator. Or, put another way, a creator unnecessarily complicates explanations which work just as well with that element removed.

That's is a gross simplification and you're best bet for understanding Dawkins opinion is to read his work.

I am not a Dawkins' acolyte and while I share some of his conclusions, I've arrived at them from different paths, so I'd rather not try to be a proxy for him.

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Synesthesia
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*Sigh*
I thought someone would point that out.
But it's a really, really good book. Filled with the things that make books good!
If they don't want to read it, they are missing out. To me it's a warm chocolate chip cookie kind of a book but some might have nuts in them and some people are allergic to nuts, diabetic or they want to lose weight.
It's just soooooooo good that folks can't just listen to someone condemn it without understanding how good the story is, they might get a false idea.


any more nitpicking and I will just explode.... ><

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But it's a really, really good book. Filled with the things that make books good!
While other people think that it's a really, really bad book, filled with things that make books bad to read. Especially for children.

You disagree. That's fine and good. But it's no more wrong for them to encourage people not to read it than it is for you to encourage people to read it.

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Teshi
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quote:
...and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't suppress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.
Read an interview with him. He may dislike religion and find it a detrimental force in the world, but he's by no means "a hateful little man."

quote:
...quite moral works of fantasy...
For all intents and purposes, HDM is a moral work of fantasy. The protagonist acts in a moral way.
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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by Nathan2006:

I'm not making any decisions until I read the book, but it seems like Pullman created a wonderful, magical world, with thought-provoking religious allusions, and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't surpress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.

The Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't share that harsh view of Pullman and the HDM trilogy. They have a very congenial chat
It's an interesting discussion.
quote:
from Nathan:
Again, I haven't read the books, but wow! There seems to be quite a case against them.

quote:
from the chat:
PP: Which leads us to Mel Gibson. Have you seen that film?
RW: I haven't seen it.
PP: Nor have I, so we can talk about it! That's all right.
RW: We're allowed opinions without the constraints of reality!

[Razz]
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Teshi
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Nice link, Morbo.

EDIT: Yeah, I really like Philip Pullman [Smile] .

[ October 23, 2007, 06:36 PM: Message edited by: Teshi ]

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Morbo
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Why thanks Teshi. I read it the other day when the thread started and forgot to post it.
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ClaudiaTherese
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Oh, that's a great read, Morbo.

On a question from the audience near the end:

quote:
RB [Chairman, relaying question]: Question from a fellow atheist who is appalled by the materialism of this society - how would PP recommend children develop spiritual life?

PP [Pullman]: I don't use the word spiritual myself, because I don't have a clear sense of what it means. But I think it depends on your view of education: whether you think that the true end and purpose of education is to help children grow up, compete and face the economic challenges of a global environment that we're going to face in the 21st century, or whether you think it's to do with helping them see that they are the true heirs and inheritors of the riches - the philosophical, the artistic, the scientific, the literary riches - of the whole world. If you believe in setting children's minds alive and ablaze with excitement and passion or whether it's a matter of filling them with facts and testing on them. It depends on your vision of education - and I know which one I'd go for.

RW [Archbishop]: I think we're entirely at one on that, I must say.


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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Mucus, you do get, don't you, that there is a vast gap between "doesn't interpret the Creation story literally" and "doesn't believe in a Creator"?

This is a problem that I continue to have with organized atheism...

That problem doesn't really exist.
In the case of Dawkins's book, there are multiple chapters in the book and some focus on fundamentalism, some focus on moderates and NOMA, and some even focus on agnosticism. What we were previously discussing would fit in the fundamentalism chapter.
Also, I would note that there is a chapter on a category system with the extremes being complete theism (category 1) and complete atheism (category 7). Dawkins himself describes himself at a category 6 atheist, leaning towards category 7.

Rest assured, despite what you might have heard, Dawkins does not set up a dishonest "two choices" choice.

I think MattP adequately handles the rest.

quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I suppose it should also be noted that many if not more Christians would prefer study of history and science as methods over fiction since they see them as precursors to forming more accurate Christian beliefs. In particular, study of the Bible as a historical source...

I half agree with this. If you lumped atheists and agnostics together, I think it would be closer to the truth. However, as it stands I don't think you're quite right if only due to the substantial Christian NOMA group, "bible as allegory group", and "religious for social reasons" groups.
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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
But it's a really, really good book. Filled with the things that make books good!
While other people think that it's a really, really bad book, filled with things that make books bad to read. Especially for children.

You disagree. That's fine and good. But it's no more wrong for them to encourage people not to read it than it is for you to encourage people to read it.

I'm not sure if it's the same thing.
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mr_porteiro_head
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It's always different when it's you doing it.
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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
It's always different when it's you doing it.

That's not it...
I read the book. I want other people to read it and get what they get from it. I'm not telling them it's an evil book or something, i'm suggesting that they read it and make up their minds for themselves. It isn't the same thing. I don't have an agenda, like the CL does, I just want folks to read it and decide for itself.

I'd think they'd object more to some of the violence in it than anything else. But I give up, my stomach is acting up.

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Olivet
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
quote:
Originally posted by Nathan2006:

I'm not making any decisions until I read the book, but it seems like Pullman created a wonderful, magical world, with thought-provoking religious allusions, and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't surpress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.
[/rambling]

Just read the book.
Understand that organized religion, like most things hasn't always been sunshine and flowers. Addressing that does not mean being hateful towards religious folks.
Not that I am saying you are, but it's his point of view and he has the right to express it. It's important to deal with the history of things directly even if it's through fiction.
Witch hunts come to mind.

Personally, I think organized religion, like any massive group of people, is capapble of great evil. The larger the group(not religious necessarily) the more likely the actions of the group are to be stupid. Mob mentality, informational cascades in any culture, or "I burnt that book cuz my pastor said it'd give me demons."

People scare me. In groups of greater than 50, anyway.

That doesn't mean that an individual can't have a transformative and deeply held faith that improves their life and the world around them. I have known such people, and they always bore traits in common, even when their faiths diverged, even when other people that worshipped in exactly the same way were jerks. I've always thought of such people as having "true religion" whatever their belief system. I think it's something fine to aspire to, even though I dislike entering churches myself.

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Synesthesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Olivet:
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
quote:
Originally posted by Nathan2006:

I'm not making any decisions until I read the book, but it seems like Pullman created a wonderful, magical world, with thought-provoking religious allusions, and then ruined it because he's a hateful little man who can't surpress his anti-religious beliefs, and wanted to battle his work with Lewis's Narnia books.
[/rambling]

Just read the book.
Understand that organized religion, like most things hasn't always been sunshine and flowers. Addressing that does not mean being hateful towards religious folks.
Not that I am saying you are, but it's his point of view and he has the right to express it. It's important to deal with the history of things directly even if it's through fiction.
Witch hunts come to mind.

Personally, I think organized religion, like any massive group of people, is capapble of great evil. The larger the group(not religious necessarily) the more likely the actions of the group are to be stupid. Mob mentality, informational cascades in any culture, or "I burnt that book cuz my pastor said it'd give me demons."

People scare me. In groups of greater than 50, anyway.

That doesn't mean that an individual can't have a transformative and deeply held faith that improves their life and the world around them. I have known such people, and they always bore traits in common, even when their faiths diverged, even when other people that worshipped in exactly the same way were jerks. I've always thought of such people as having "true religion" whatever their belief system. I think it's something fine to aspire to, even though I dislike entering churches myself.

That's how I feel. I don't think religion is something that should be thrown away when dispite the evil some groups of people can do to corrupt the religion, there's so many grains of beauty in it that get overlooked by the wrong things.
Such as Mozart's Mass in C Minor. Mmmm.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Syn -- you very much have an agenda.
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Synesthesia
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You're starting to annoy me...

Perhaps my agenda is that people freely read awesome cool books without limits...

Now again, it's OVER!

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Dagonee
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quote:
Perhaps my agenda is that people freely read awesome cool books without limits...
Good. Then you don't have any conflict with the CL, since they aren't placing limits on people.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
People scare me. In groups of greater than 50, anyway.
Hell, groups greater than 5 get me worried.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I don't have an agenda, like the CL does, I just want folks to read it and decide for itself.
No one's disputing that you want people to read this book and decide for themselves. What we're calling you on is your double-standard, which you've made plainly evident in this thread.

It's OK for people to take action to try and prevent other people from wanting to read certain books, so long as you consider that book sufficiently harmful. And yet you have tried to insist repeatedly that you don't do that.

The truth is, you do do that, but to you it's different because your cause is 'Important', and to you this is just silly.

Also, you don't get to decide when something is OVER. Particularly when you keep on talking about it.

--------------------

Tom,

Really? I'm trying to wrap my head around this. You're telling me you'd be content doing nothing to try and stop, for example, a graphic pro-pedophile film from being shown in your local CinemaWorld or whatever your moviehouse is called? Just because that behavior is already criminalized?

Why don't we start rolling out snuff films at the matinee?

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Mucus
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Maybe you could come up with an example that exists.

quote:

All the fretting about it aside, not so much as one snuff film has been found. Time and again, what is originally decried in the press as a film of a murder turns out, upon further investigation, to be a fake. Police on three continents routinely investigate films brought to them, and so far this has always been their verdict. No snuff films. Some clever fakes, yes. But no real product.

(Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine, has a standing offer of $1 million for anyone who can come up with a commercially sold snuff film. That offer has been in place for years. No one has yet laid claim to it.)

link from Snopes
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Tom,

Really? I'm trying to wrap my head around this. You're telling me you'd be content doing nothing to try and stop, for example, a graphic pro-pedophile film from being shown in your local CinemaWorld or whatever your moviehouse is called? Just because that behavior is already criminalized?

Why don't we start rolling out snuff films at the matinee?

I can't speak for Tom, but I agree with him.

Why? Well, firstly, cinemas are private organizations and if they wish to release a film, regardless of content, they can.

Secondly, I believe that by allowing these ideas to get out in the open, people will see them for the sick, perverse things they really are.

If something is truly wrong (and I think pedophilia is one of those things), I say give it enough rope and it will hang itself.

[ October 24, 2007, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: Javert ]

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Eowyn-sama
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I'm slightly confused here: are we talking about government censorship or societal censorship? We're saying movie theaters/bookstores should be allowed, by law to show or sell objectionable material, yes? Is there a further problem with society exercising their purchasing power to say what is shown and what isnt?

For example, a movie theater has the legal right to show a movie showing X objectionable subject. People are disgusted by this, and then refuse to watch not only that said movie, but any movie shown in that theater. The theater loses money and learns not to show X objectionable subject. Is this a problem? or is it just governmental control that you're worried about?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
You're telling me you'd be content doing nothing to try and stop, for example, a graphic pro-pedophile film from being shown in your local CinemaWorld or whatever your moviehouse is called? Just because that behavior is already criminalized?

Why don't we start rolling out snuff films at the matinee?

I'm pretty sure the act of making a snuff film is illegal. [Smile]

That said, I don't see any reason why a cinema shouldn't feel free to air one. I wouldn't go to it, and I suspect most people wouldn't, and I'm sure they'd lose a great deal of money compared to whatever other film they might have chosen to show, but I wouldn't legislate against their right to do it.

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0Megabyte
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I'm not Tom either but...

"Really? I'm trying to wrap my head around this. You're telling me you'd be content doing nothing to try and stop, for example, a graphic pro-pedophile film from being shown in your local CinemaWorld or whatever your moviehouse is called? Just because that behavior is already criminalized?"

Sure, why not? People don't have to watch it, of course, and I'd certainly not be interested in seeing such movie. But there's no reason to ban it. However, it almost certainly will get the... low attendance it deserves.

Just because its there doesn't mean I have to watch it, but it's not a crime to present an idea, nor should it be. Javert's last sentence, "If something is truly wrong (and I think pedophilia is one of those things), I say give it enough rope and it will hang itself." applies here.

"Why don't we start rolling out snuff films at the matinee?"

... um, we already do. Or have you not noticed all those torture/murder films like Hostel or Saw out there these days? I don't like em, and I don't watch em, and I dislike their viewpoint, but we shouldn't ban such things, you kn-

OH! You mean literal snuff films, in which literal people are killed and shown!

Well, considering that actually murdering people is a serious crime I'd say no. And further, I'd say you're taking a slippery slope arguement.

Even making a pro-pedophilia film is not actually committing a crime. Killing someone and putting it on tape, I mean actually killing someone, is. And not a little crime like smoking marijuana, either, but something that actually matters. Equating them is about the same as equating portraying a nazi in a movie with actually BEING a nazi.

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mr_porteiro_head
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How would you feel about a group using societal or economic pressure to keep a cinema from airing one?
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TomDavidson
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I don't see anything against a boycott. I think boycotting a given piece of entertainment always fails in the long run, but they're welcome to do it.
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
How would you feel about a group using societal or economic pressure to keep a cinema from airing one?

How I would feel would depends on the group and their methods. Regardless of how I feel though, people have the right assemble and the right to speak. If they wish to do both at once, good for them.
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King of Men
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Movie theaters are one thing, but I understand there is quite a bit of porn on the Interwebs with moderately unpleasant subject material. So it seems there is an audience. I'm not convinced a movie theater that showed snuff films (not necessarily real ones) would go out of business for lack of people buying tickets. Although being seen to buy such a ticket is of course a bit different from downloading something nobody will know about.
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I don't see anything against a boycott. I think boycotting a given piece of entertainment always fails in the long run, but they're welcome to do it.

Case in point - I'd never heard of Pullman before. Now I'm somewhat curious to see what the fuss is about so I've added him to my "to read" list.

On the other hand, I never did watch DaVinci Code...

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
How would you feel about a group using societal or economic pressure to keep a cinema from airing one?

I have no issues with groups that are undergoing a moral panic about non-existent films pressuring cinemas not to air those non-existent films [Wink]
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Olivet
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
quote:
People scare me. In groups of greater than 50, anyway.
Hell, groups greater than 5 get me worried.
Well, agreed. From a personal safety POV, groups of more than 5 make me nervous if I'm not familiar with them or the context. But bigger groups are capable of larger social impact, which is even scarier.

Really, though, I love people. LOVE them. *cough* Especially with a light bernaise sauce and perky citrus garnish. Mmmm-- good eatin'!

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Ron Lambert
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Censorship has many levels, some appropriate, some inappropriate. It is appropriate for a church school to censor or ban something from their church school library, like Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, as an expression of the fact that the church does not approve of it. The church certainly has a right to indicate its disapproval, and probably even feels an obligation to let society in general know that they do not approve of this literary work.

It is also appropriate for government on any level to legislate restrictions on literature or movies where there is a question of society in general approving of the subject matter. Were there no ban on certain types of material (like snuff movies), that then would be taken as tacit approval, since anything not prohibited is allowed.

Beyond that, seeking to impose private views on the public is almost always wrong, and the attempt usually backfires, anyway.

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Zalmoxis
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(spoilers I guess)
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The real crime is that Pullman doesn't come up with anything real interesting once he pulls of the shocker. I was hoping for a little more sizzle. I mean, if you're going to take on creedalism, give us more than a gauzy did-they or didn't-they scene set in a boring world.

From my point of view The Golden Compass is the Matrix of young adult fiction.

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