On September 4, 2012, when the results came in after the last provincial election in Québec, a man went to the Parti Québecois victory party, shot two people, killed one person, and set a fire before leaving the scene. He was charged with murder, three attempted murders, arson and a few other things. There might have also been a jaywalking charge, but I’m probably wrong about that.
After his arrest, the accused said that he did it because Jesus Christ told him to solve the Québec separation problem. According to him, his actions were part of what Jesus wanted him to do. He has been sent for a court-imposed psychiatric evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial. There is some thought that he might be insane. Gee, I don’t know. D’ya think?
I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent here. Stay with me. It won’t take long. For the benefit of those of my American friends who nodded off during the nanosecond when Canada was mentioned in geography class at their high schools, I should pause to fill them in on a few facts.
Canada is the big country that appears above the United States on maps displayed in the usual orientation. Canada is often thought of as a land of ice and snow, but you would be a tad overdressed if you wore a parka here in, say, August. If you choose to do so anyway, you might first want to verify that your health insurance covers the treatment of heat stroke while in another country.
Québec is a province in Canada. Provinces are sort of like your states, but the jurisdictional responsibilities are a little different. Québec is normally spelled Quebec in English, but out of respect for the predominance of French in Québec I, despite not speaking French, usually use the French spelling, avec accent.
A minority of Québécois, normally called Quebecers in English, persistently would prefer that Québec not be a province in Canada, but rather its own country. From time to time, the number of people in Québec who feel that way comes close to being a majority. Some other people get quite upset about that.
The Parti Québécois is a provincial political party that was founded with the achievement of Québec sovereignty as its raison d’être, infrequently referred to in English as reason to exist. The Parti Québécois has formed the government in Québec a few times, including after the last election. However, it seems likely that some of the people who voted for the Parti Québécois did so not because they longed for Québec sovereignty, but because they thought the other guys were bums.
The Parti Québécois has not, yet, achieved its raison d’être. My best guess is that it never will, but don’t tell them that. All provinces in Canada have tax-funded, universal health insurance. I suspect Québec’s healthcare costs would soar if the province had to deal with the depression that would occur if Parti Québécois members ever fully accepted that prospect.
OK. Are we all up to speed on that? Good, because it plays absolutely no part whatsoever in what I want to say from here on in, so I’d like to move on quickly.
To my mind, anyone who hears the voice(s) of God(s) inside his or her head telling him or her to commit evil acts—possibly up to and including mass murder—possesses, pretty much by definition, a brain that is significantly more than few kopeks short of a ruble. I would say the same of anyone who, rather than hearing voices, saw murderous messages hidden in their particular brand of holy books, messages that no one else could see even when the supposed messages were pointed out to them.
However, what I find curious is that whether or not Christians and Jews—along, surprisingly, with probably most secular folk in what, for some strange reason on a nearly spherical planet, where reference points are arbitrary, is normally referred to as the western world—agree with that assessment frequently depends on which religion the alleged perpetrator claims to adhere to.
Before I continue, I feel the need to go off on another brief tangent. In the previous paragraph, I allowed for the plural form by the use of the words voice(s) and God(s) not merely to accommodate polytheistic religions. I did it also because I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around the concept of the Holy Trinity. (It’s three! Three! Three Gods in One!!!) I’m sure that I’d be able to understand it if I spent more time researching and thinking about it, but I’m afraid that my head would explode if I did. (Cue the well-intentioned Catholics who, despite the greatest of efforts, won’t be able to resist trying to explain it to me in the comments on this post.)
My point is, if someone claims to have been instructed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (I’ve never been able to figure out who that last guy is, but I’m sure someone will be enraptured to fill me in) is he or she claiming to hear one deity or three? Discuss this among yourselves if you have nothing better to do because you live in a part of the world where the season is preventing you from watching the grass grow.
Forgive me. I digressed again. I promise that will definitely be the last digression here unless another one pops into my easily-distracted mind before I finish writing this post.
Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. If someone purports to be a Christian and claims that Jesus, Jesus’ Dad, and/or that other Etherial Dude told him or her (it’s usually a him) to perpetrate murder and mayhem to serve an allegedly higher purpose, the majority of people in “The West” (in the global sense, not solely the Canadian or American West)—possibly, but not necessarily, including the adjudicators of justice—typically assume that the perpetrator’s closest contacts with reality are terribly rare, barely fleeting glimpses of it off on the exceptionally distant horizon. If, on the other hand, he or she (again, usually a he) is a Muslim who said God told him or her, directly or through the Koran, to commit such acts then he or she is usually called a terrorist.
Why is that? To my mind, they are both raving lunatics, although the raving lunatics of the world might disagree with me on this point.
True, Muslim extremists today are frequently more organized—think Al Qaeda—than people who go on murderous rampages in the name of Christianity. The latter often act as lone wolves or, at most, just a small pack of weakly organized wolves, so to speak. (I say “so to speak” because I suspect that DNA testing would show that they are, indeed, still humans, not wolves. Sorry. That was another digression. Never mind.) But the current organizational balance in favor of Muslim extremists over Christian extremists wasn’t always the case—think Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch hunts.
Besides, isn’t that irrelevant? Would you really be any less or more insane if you joined a club of people who, like you, believed that God told them to kill people than if you fulfilled what you believed to be God’s murderous instructions to you on your own?
So here’s my proposal. If it’s accepted, it should save a lot of time and debate in the future, although it probably won’t save many, if any, lives. Let’s be consistent in how we label anyone who claims to have heard the voice of a god, gods or, for example, a supernatural ferret inside his or her head telling him or her to kill people for the glory of something or other. Let’s refer to them all as being severely, violently, pathologically Looney Tunes. Psychiatrists and psychologists can likely come up with a far better term, but that will do for now.
Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? Affirmations? Additions? Jihads against me? Crusades against me?
Categorised as: religion