As my Gentle Readers might have expected, I got a number of emails about yesterday’s piece. There were a few mild disapprovals (“too long”), a few strident disagreements to be expected a priori (“religion is for fools and the weak-minded”), and two missives I’d rather not discuss in detail. But one rather interesting case styled me a “religious fanatic,” a term I’ve always found curious.
There’s some wiggle room in the definition of fanatic, a word that’s more often used for its connotations than its denotation. Here’s what Dictionary.com has to say:
fanatic noun: a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.
“Extreme” is a matter of opinion, barring the advocacy of violence, at least. “Uncritical” has somewhat clearer lineaments. The uncritical man is one whose beliefs, by his decision, are not to be criticized. He often reacts badly — extremely — to others’ differences of opinion about them.
While I maintain that when fanatic is applied to religion, there’s considerable room for opinion – one man’s “religious fanatic” is another’s ordinary Sunday churchgoer – allow me to present a man I consider a fanatic, and at the height of his fanaticism, at that:
Sam Harris: “Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement – I would not have cared” pic.twitter.com/FG3JI68MvO
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 18, 2022
Mind you, Sam Harris:
- Has dismissed all religion as destructive nonsense;
- Has denigrated Sarah Palin as unfit to be president;
- And has called individualism a “religious fetish” of conservatives.
There are good reasons for not discussing religion or politics with fanatics. (No, alcohol doesn’t improve matters.)