In my essay “Laughing at Fundamentalists?” I critiqued John Loftus and Keith Parsons for advocating ridicule or mockery of those they call “fundamentalists”. In response a few commenters advocated mocking beliefs rather than the people that hold them.
And how’s that supposed to work?
Skeptic Sam (trying unsuccessfully to stifle a snicker): “Do you seriously believe the earth was created in six days?”
Billy Baptist, growing red, replies icily through tight lips: “Yes.”
Skeptic Sam bursts out into laughter as tears run down his cheeks. “What an idiotic belief!” he roars with glee. After a few minutes Sam’s laughter dies down. “Of course, you do realize I wasn’t laughing at you Billy. I was only mocking the belief you hold.”
“Gee,” says Billy, “thanks for clearing that up.”
I must say, this idea that you can mock or ridicule beliefs but not the folks that hold them sounds quite idiotic. In fact, I’m snickering condescendingly at the very idea even as I write this. But please keep in mind that my mockery is reserved for the belief and not the folks who actually hold it.