There’s this article in Arab News (“The Middle East’s Leading English Language Daily”) which just absolutely reeks of doublethink and the kind of problems one gets into when accepting one form of woo over another, which I wrote about earlier this month. Here’s the lede:
Hardly a day passes without a local newspaper reporting the arrest of a sorcerer in the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], something that is indicative of the widespread meddling in sorcery.
Maybe that is what it is what it is indicative of. But the author here overlooks the possibility that it’s also indicative of the insanity that results from witch hunts. Those arrested for this “crime” aren’t always even guilty of breaking this insane law. It’s just an accusation which is not amenable to any kind of testing, so it becomes a rationalization for imprisoning or even killing whoever the accuser doesn’t happen to like.
And of course they overlook the possibility that the arrests are indicative of the government arresting people for having different religious beliefs from that of the majority. Even if those arrested were “guilty” of the “crime” of which they were accused, so what? The article goes on to portray the “sorcerers” almost in a realistic way – that they’re hucksters shamming the gullible, but if that were really the problem, then there would be no need to limit the law to certain religious practices. So they have to condemn these people on entirely different grounds:
People underestimate how serious a sin magic actually is.
They don’t go into detail on how exactly the editorial board of Arab News objectively identifies the varying degrees of “sin” or anything like that. It’s just a “sin.” A very serious one. SRSLY?
Here’s some context, from just before and after the above quote:
“That was four years ago. I now only seek Allah’s help,” she said… Abeer Saleh said some members of her family are so infatuated with magic that they act strange and perform nonsensensical rituals.”
If they have some kind of reason for preferring Allah-based magic over tribal mysticism-based magic, it’s not made apparent. Just that one is a “serious sin” and the other is not. And how could these people deride acting strangely and performing nonsensical rituals without collapsing from the cognitive dissonance? Here is a good example of a nonsensical ritual.
What happens is that pilgrims on their Hajj thing go to this holy city and throw stones at three pillars which somehow represent Satan. They stampeded toward the pillars, and in 2004 and then in 2006 this led to a structural collapse which killed hundreds of people. Is that acting strange? Is that a nonsensical ritual? How could it possibly not be any stranger than writing names down on a piece of paper and then putting the paper in a bottle – or eating a cracker which is supposed to be the flesh of a man-god who died 2000 years ago, for that matter?
It’s not. The only way advocates of faith-based positions can criticize other faith-based positions is by creating some completely vacuous and meaningless concept like “sin” and arbitrarily attributing it to anything they don’t happen to like.