Friday, January 05, 2007

More bullshit!

We watched another two episodes of Penn & Teller's second season of Bullshit! last night.  We watched them in reverse order because the second was more relevant than the first...the first we watched was College.  While they did not attack the concept of college itself, they did attack the "speech codes" that many colleges have that stifle discussion in order to avoid offending groups of people.  Bullshit, indeed!  I entirely agree that college is the last place you want discussions fenced into "safe bounds".  They managed to pick a diversity specialist that was very amusing with his own biases, as well as somebody that found the way to milk that sacred cow to the tunes of thousands.

The second episode we watched target people who were "holier than thou".  Yes, they went out of their way to attack Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama!  I am sure this episode would have been banned by some college speech codes!  They also attacked the personality cult of yet a fourth "saint", but it would spoil the surprise if I revealed who that was.  This was supposedly in response to a viewer letter that asked sarcastically "Who are you going to attack next, Mother Teresa?"

The only one of the three they really went after whole-heartedly was Mother Teresa.  Being atheists themselves, using the wretched to raise money to build a series of religious institutions (mostly to raise more money) while keeping the wretched still pretty much as wretched as ever seemed particularily heinous to them.  Of course, they didn't really have to make their case...Christoper Hitchens and Aroup Chatterjee pretty much did it
for them (see "Controversy and Critics" in the Wikipedia article on her).

With Mahatma Gandhi, they did not attack his primary work, with which they agreed.  They did emphasize that he was human, and had a down side.  His racism regarding blacks was pretty much standard for the time, but his sleeping with naked young girls and giving enemas to nuns were probably a bit tittilating even then.

As the Dalai Lama goes, their only real personal criticism was regarding his hypocrisy in speaking out against violence while taking money from the CIA to train guerrillas.  Their major point was that the Tibetan society that the Dalai Lama is presumably trying to restore is arguably even worse than the communist oppression of the Chinese.  While they certainly showed that old Tibet, with a large serf-(or arguabley even slave) class supporting the few ruling priests, and the punishments of eye gouging, the pulling out of tongues, hamstringing, and amputation that were used to keep the serfs in line were pretty repellent under the Dalai Lama's rule, they did not really make the case that he would be able to restore that sort of treatment. They did not mention, as even his detractors have, that at the time he was "in charge" of these atrocities, he was only 15 years old.

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