Those of you new to the blog may be unaware that I also contribute to Canadian Atheist, a group blog made up of a diverse group of atheists from across the country. It’s a good group, and I often get a chance to go full anti-theist and vent there in a way that I don’t like doing here. Today, I wrote this:
Okay, this is just getting ridiculous now. Those of you that know me best from my work decrying racist attitudes and unraveling the code of “politely” racist statements know that I have a fairly well-developed radar for bigotry. I am not one to shrink from making the call, even in those circumstances where the room is against me and I am forced to explain myself in excruciating detail. Racism is a serious problem, and I think we should be devoting more time and attention to it, not less.
If you’ve been involved in discussions of race-based (or really, any other kind of) bigotry, it’s a good chance that you’ve been accused at some point of being “the real racist”. The argument goes something like this: if everyone just acted like race wasn’t important, it would all of a sudden cease to be a factor. I will not bother detailing the number of reasons why this position is stupid – it’s the Wile E. Coyote school of debate…
Go read the rest of the article, and be sure to check out the high quality contributions of my co-authors. Since I don’t have to be impartial, I will take this opportunity to give a particular shoutout to Ian Bushfield, a fellow Vancouver skeptic whose writing I always find insightful and persuasive.
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Not only is the joke not racist, it isn’t even offensive towards religion. All it implies about the Golden Palace is that is a *really fancy building*.
I didn’t know significance of the Golden Temple until people started complaining about Leno’s joke. I daresay the vast majority of non-Indians and non-Sikhs wouldn’t know its significance either.
Leno’s joke did not demean or ridicule Sikhs or Sikhism. He used a picture to make a comment about a rich man who tries to hide exactly how rich he is. He could have used pictures of Buckingham Palace or Versailles just as easily, but the Golden Temple has one feature neither of those other two buildings do, it’s gold plated.
Here is a building with gold-plated windows:
The Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto: its “windows . . . were coloured using 2,500 ounces of gold valued at CA$70 per pane when installed.”
Yeah, I remember that on Blue Colar Atheist. My feelings where that since Mittens isn’t Sikh it wasn’t fair to use their holy building in a joke. Also the joke hinges on people not knowing what Sikh was (and thus unable to recognize the building) it’s an insult to the audience too (playing off their ignorance). I didn’t think it was racist and the reaction was way too extreme. But the joke was in poor taste and could have been better by substituting the Vatican of Buckingham Palace.
It’s. A. Gold. Building.
Has nothing to do with Sikhism or anything ‘holy’. It’s a palace covered in gold. The joke doesn’t “hinge” on anybody’s ignorance of Sikhism. It “hinges” on the fact that it’s a gold building.