The Great Courses

Hate Can Make You Do Nice Things?

Jan 1, 2014 at 11:54 AM
4 years ago

I'm in conflict over this one.

Doug Stanhope did something amazing by spearheading a campaign which raised over $126,000 to benefit Rebecca Vitsmun in the wake of her "I'm actually an atheist" interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. His proactive effort is one of the main reasons Rebecca and her family have a new home and a bright new chapter.

For this, Stanhope has my admiration.

doug stanhope

What grates on me is the acidic attitude (which may be part of his shtick, but still). In a recent video on his channel, Doug Stanhope essentially declared that he wasn't motivated by compassion but simply wanted to goad the religious victims of the Moore twister.  The headline on Gawker even read, "Comedian Raised $126K for Atheist Tornado Victim to Piss Off Christians."


Factually, he's correct about the insanity of the religious response to the tornado which killed 24 on May 20, 2013. The battered bride of Christ continued to offer pleadings and praises to the sky after their deity allowed the horrific deaths of their most cherished loved ones, and as they cried (and tweeted) "Pray For Oklahoma," the answers came not from the sky, but from the hard-working hands and compassionate hearts of fellow human beings.

Yeah, I get it. But for Stanhope to gleefully say, "It's funny how hate can make you do real nice things every now and then"...who is he hating? Religious people?

If so, the statement is ugly, wrong-headed and hugely counterproductive in our fight against superstition.  

Wait.  He's off the hook because he's a comedian and is supposed to come off like a douche in the wake of a life-taking tragedy?  And the more cruel he is to those who lost loved ones, homes and possessions, the more slack we give him?

Uh, no.  Being an entertainer, even one who pushes buttons, isn't a Get Out Of Responsibility Free card.  And (as much as many hate to acknowledge this), public figures aren't islands unto themselves.  What they do and say matters.

As an activist, I often hate the ill effects of superstition in this crazy world, but I don't hate the superstitious simply because they hold to religion. Many are wonderful people, often living an inherited belief system and doing their best to live good lives, even in those times when their motives and actions are misguided.

Moore tornado victims

The victims were/are human beings. The tragic deaths of their spouses, children and friends are no less horrific because they go to church on Sunday. And in my opinion, the damage Doug's barbed, mocking declaration of hate does to the overall fight for reason is lamentable.

In the 3rd week of December, this community raised tens of thousands of dollars for worthy charities, and we did it with goodwill, joy and a desire to help people. In fact, one of our recipients was a young Christian lady in need of a double lung transplant.

Yeah, she was like one of the religious victims referenced in Doug's video. Yet her religious belief didn't bring our hate or venom, our sarcasm or scorn. It brought $17,000+ in contributions generously and joyfully given by people who believe that human solutions must be presented to solve human problems.

That's humanism.  That's real compassion. That's a message worth sending. And I lament that Stanhope is apparently more interested in giving the middle finger than a heartfelt helping hand.  

When we lead with hate...everybody loses.

Seth Andrews

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