Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Batshit Crazy.

That's a term my father used to use for when things go really, really wrong. (That's two reallys)

I had my own encounter (the first and only, thank Gog) with radical fundamentalist Islamists when I was in college.

Not long after the hostages were taken at the US Embassy in Tehran, a group on my college campus sponsored a public meeting to discuss the situation from the perspective of followers of Ayatollah Khomeini.

What I witnessed that night was the craziest thing I've ever seen. It still stands today as my benchmark under the heading "Totally Batshit Crazy, Out of Fucking Control."

I noticed that several of the leaders of the group that sponsored the event were obvious imports. It was obvious because they made no secret of the fact that they were new to the campus, they wore jackets of other universities.

Before the meeting even started, there was bickering going on between factions of Iranian students. The opening speaker started off by issuing a tirade against the Shah. Certainly not a problem among the dozens of U.S. students attending. But the reaction to everything by the speaker met with constant heckling and shouting from a group of Iranian students who opposed the Ayatollah's return to Iran.

Before long, the long dufflebags I observed in the AV room adjacent to the stage in the auditorium where the meeting took place, were unzipped and pipes and baseball bats were being used on anyone and everyone in the room. I ran out like a chicken. No kidding. I wasn't going to get my brains beat out for being curious.

My "fight or flight" instincts prevailed. What I gained from that encounter is still a salient message today.

These guys probably didn't take dufflebags full of pipes and baseball bats to their meeting because they feared for their safety. They came loaded for bear. They felt they had been oppressed under the Shah, and in fact, they were.

But that didn't give them the right to beat the living hell out of anyone. I'm not sure, but I don't think there's anything in the Koran about justifying violent public outrage for, well, anything.

Nor does it give the people the right to make fun of or denigrate someone else's beliefs.

Here's a simple rule that's prevented me from going totally Batshit Crazy from time-to-time.
Don't get all wrapped up in your religion as if it's more important than anything else in the world. Someone else might have the same idea, but about a set of beliefs that's a little different from yours.

We have plenty of examples of this in our own culture. Let's not be stupid.

Oh, yeah. There was justice that night. The Office of Public Safety and the local police came and beat the living hell out of everyone remaining at the scene and put them all in jail for being Batshit Crazy In Public. I think that was the statute, anyway.

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