Acting out the Hate

There is not much information about the militant atheist who stabbed the Christian woman to death because of her views on marriage.  One thing did catch my eye:

  Defence lawyers argued that Daniel suffered from a personality disorder and shunned contact with others, while spending time in his room playing video games.

I don’t think he only played video games.   He probably was connected to something called the……internet.  People who “shun contact with others” are still able to interact with others via the internet. In fact, that’s how they get by.   And this raises the question of whether Daniel E. was someone who regularly consumed the anti-religious propaganda of the activist atheist internet community.   After all, he did write an anti-religious manifesto on his computer.

I did find this article with a few more details, but it is in German.  Google translate helps uncover a couple of interesting excerpts (even though it is obviously rough):

His mother, who enters the witness stand this morning, describes a gradual change of her son. He had been a quiet, sensitive child, there were never any difficulties in school and with friends. After completing his secondary education, he earned his high school diploma and went to Freiburg to study. Daniel E. is particularly interested in ethics at school and wants to become an ethics teacher. The mother advises on computer science, he follows the recommendation, but fails, changes to English and philosophy. Her son is always involved in ethical discussions, about abortion, gays, and other questions.

Okay, an atheist who likes to argue about abortion and gays is extremely likely to be carrying out these arguments on the internet.  In fact, we also read:

But apart from solitude, there is obviously an excessive computer consumption.

Finally, we have this:

Daniel E. has intensively dealt with atheism before the action, letting himself be inspired by the writings of US author Richard Dawkins to a manifesto. Title: “My apology, the talk of a madman”. The accused said, “I am an antitheist,” and “whoever believes in God is heard.”

So the young man, who murdered a young Christian woman by stabbing her in the neck, then multiple times in the back as she tried to get away, was “inspired by the writings of Richard Dawkins.”

While this murder is, of course, not typical atheist behavior, it does remind me of Craig Hicks, another Dawkins fan who murdered three Muslim students.  Back at that time, I wrote:

In other words, what began as a parking dispute ended as murder, with hate acting as the catalyst along the way. The parking dispute generates the anger. The fact that the three people triggering the anger were Muslims brings the hate into play. The hate mixes with the anger, resulting in a murderous rage. The hateful rage then causes Hicks to make the final step, resulting in murder.

It’s clear that Hicks was someone who regularly consumed New Atheist rhetoric and talking points. And as I have observed over the years, the New Atheist movement is a modern day hate movement that mocks, denigrates, and demonizes religious people. Consider some of the things the New Atheists leaders teach their followers.

They view religious people as “evil faith-heads,” delusional, dishonest, and/or stupid. Dawkins describes religion as “one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus” and has argued it is better to sexually molest a child than to raise the child in a religion. Sam Harris declared, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion” and argues that moderate religious believers need to be held accountable to the actions of violent, religious extremists. Jerry Coyne himself has insisted, “Our writings and actions are sincere attempts to rid the world of one of its greatest evils: religion.” Coyne would also like to see it illegal for a parent to give a child a religious upbringing. Peter Boghossian likens religion to a dangerous, contagious brain virus that needs to be contained by the State.

What you have from these men is a toxic brew of hate and anti-religious bigotry. Some people don’t see this because these men are educated, relatively soft-spoken, and don’t come across as wild-eyed hate-mongers. But consider the message they are sending to their followers: religious people are evil and dangerous. They are worse than child molesters and rapists. They are viral-infected faith-heads.

I then ended that blog entry as follows:

Along comes someone like Craig Hicks who laps up these talking points. At some level in his brain, he probably internalized the New Atheist message that those Muslim students, as representatives of religion, were indeed evil and dangerous. All he needed from there was the right spark to start the fire.

I wrote that two years ago.  Now consider what the Judge for Daniel E. said:

Judge Eva Kleine-Cosack told the court Daniel had not been negatively affected by his flatmate’s faith and did not know her well, adding:  “He killed her as a representative of her religion because he could not kill all believers.”

Well, well.

Look, the problem here is that Daniel E. was clearly mentally unstable.  And that’s the problem with the New Atheist hate rhetoric.   When you take a mentally unstable atheist, and expose him to a constant diet of toxic antireligious propaganda from people like Dawkins, Coyne, Harris, Mehta, Myers, et al, you run the significant risk of someone acting out all that hate.

Sadly, I don’t think this will be the last example.

 

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2 Responses to Acting out the Hate

  1. I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I think you have legitimate criticisms of so-called ‘new atheists.’ I don’t think this is one of them.

    If someone is mentally unstable, they are mentally unstable. Period.

    I am sure that, if I tried, I could probably find examples of theists, including Christians, with mental illness who committed an act of violence and said they were doing so because of their religious beliefs, something they read in the Bible, etc. But that would tell us precisely nothing about theistic or Christian ethics or morality. So too with this self-described “antitheist.”

    It is far from obvious what percentage of mentally ill atheists have committed violent crimes, just as it is far from obvious what percentage of mentally ill theists have committed violent crimes. So it’s far from obvious how one might even be able to defend the claim that mentally ill atheists are more likely than mentally ill theists to commit violent crimes. (In order to avoid any misunderstandings, I’m not saying you are making such a claim yourself.)

    Also, if you’ll indulge what might seem like nitpicking, I notice that, while you repeatedly say your target on this blog is new atheism and not atheism in the broad sense, your categories aren’t consistent with that. Instead of placing this article in the categories “atheism” and “atheist rage” it should be “new atheism” and “new atheist rage.”

  2. Michael says:

    I am sure that, if I tried, I could probably find examples of theists, including Christians, with mental illness who committed an act of violence and said they were doing so because of their religious beliefs, something they read in the Bible, etc. But that would tell us precisely nothing about theistic or Christian ethics or morality. So too with this self-described “antitheist.”

    I was not trying to make a point about atheism. I was focusing on “the New Atheist movement is a modern day hate movement that mocks, denigrates, and demonizes religious people.”

    Also, if you’ll indulge what might seem like nitpicking, I notice that, while you repeatedly say your target on this blog is new atheism and not atheism in the broad sense, your categories aren’t consistent with that. Instead of placing this article in the categories “atheism” and “atheist rage” it should be “new atheism” and “new atheist rage.”

    You’re right about that. I’ve changed tags.

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