Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poison for your Brain: Pareidolia, the Islamophobic way!

Dammit, America! I thought we had come so far...

So there's this doll that Fisher Price makes, and it "talks" - in the sense that "gibberish" can be considered "words." Actually, in this case, that's exactly the problem: a bunch of people are mistaking gibberish for words. The same has happened with a videogame on the DS.

As the gentlemen at Penny Arcade were kind enough to point out yesterday in comic strip form, this is just crazy. First off, it's gibberish. You have to want to hear something to make words out of it. Second, so what? So what if it says, "Islam is the light?" Do people honestly think that the mere pronouncement of a viewpoint by a doll or video game will cause some manner of harm to their children?

Apparently so. This reminds me of that asinine prop 8 ad where the mother was shocked to find out her daughter had learned of the existence of homosexuals - not anything about them, just the fact that they're in the world. It also reminds me of this other comic, which is also about the mythical power contained in children's toys (actually, that whole series is pretty good, and only 16 strips long). As much as the term "Islamophobia" is bandied about as a buzzword by hypersensitive hypocrites, I think it really applies here: what else could explain the reaction to the mere (and merely alleged) statement of a viewpoint, except a phobia of that viewpoint itself? Pat Condell has a pretty good bit on Islamophobia, but I have one rhetorical quibble with him: it's clear from his preamble that he doesn't fear Muslims themselves, but only the most fanatical of their number, and only because of their fanaticism. Religious extremism of any flavor is harmful, to be sure, but this ridiculous "controversy" over so much nonsense is a pareidolian (pareidolic? Pareidoliac? How about apophenic?) knee-jerk reaction to the simple suggestion of the legitimacy of some religion. Does it get any crazier?

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