The Case of Aphrodite and Dionysus
Online Civility, Liberty, and Matters of Religion
Protect your Aphrodite through decent behavior. Turning into a cyberbully is probably not going to help her. Leave the Dionites alone, if you don't mind.
As a Libertarian who believes in civility online, this is a tricky subject to tackle, and I hope everyone will excuse me if I step on a landmine. I'll do my best to avoid them.
I would lay down my life for the rights of any human to free speech, practice of religion, and association. Governments should stay out of this altogether, except to protect these freedoms. And as always, individuals must utilize these freedoms with responsibility.
But what does this mean, exactly, when it comes to the world of social media? For instance, which cyber tactics are acceptable, and which ones are not, when it comes to religious faith?
In order to prevent insulting anyone of any particular modern belief, I write the following using Ancient Greek terminology.
If you are a practicing believer in Dionysus, and you want to proselytize me, I have no problem with a polite effort and I support your ability to do so. Provided that you do not attempt to persuade me under threat of the cyber sword, I am your friend, not your foe. This does not mean I will marry Dionysus, but I will be her ally, and I will fight for her believers' rights to stand on the cyber street corner and try to spread her good news.
I understand perfectly that you think I desperately need Dionysus, and that I will become rich, famous, and happy worshipping her. Other Dionites are doing great in life. Yes, I agree, I am a fool and an idiot for not marrying Dionysus. I commend your fervor, and I thank you very much for your concern, and I am very happy for you that you are so happy. But please respect my right of free association to say I think I shall not marry today. I know you love me and only wish me the best, but I am rather happy being a religious bachelor.
So: may you do good by attracting others to Dionysus, and I hope that Dionysus prospers.
If you respect my right of free association, then I will fight anyone, any day, any time, for your right to spread Dionysus all over the globe. I am your ally.
Now let's say you believe in Aphrodite, as opposed to Dionysus. Maybe you even want to warn me of the dangers of the evil Dionites. You think they are an evil cult, those awful Dionites. Then feel free to tell me this, but do not break into my cyber house at two o'clock in the morning to scream it at me.
At least set up an appointment.
Do not think that by cyber harassing the Dionites, by shouting over them, being rude, being cruel, and behaving like a bully, that you are in any way persuasive. You are not at all funny, Aphroditan, when you put a search up on Twitter and attack Dionites whenever they speak. You do not look benevolent when you make anonymous account after anonymous account in order to attack Dionites ruthlessly.
That's just creepy. You come across like Nero or Caligula.
I know, I am mixing time periods in my analogy, pardonez-moi.
Listen Aphroditan, if you believe that the Dionysus religion is an evil cult, then write a blog and make it a reasoned one. Lay out your argument without invective or the very tactics that you say the Dionites use. Don't haunt the Dionites in a chat room and call them names as if you were a bully on a playground. Do not use psychological warfare tactics to further your cause. Your tactics might even help the Dionites get new followers. I won't be one of them, mind you, but you may be harming your beloved Aphrodite with such tactics. Attacking famous or sympathetic Dionites like that is just counter-productive, and sickening.
So think before you tweet like that if you want to achieve your goals, for your own Aphrodite's sake.
Allow me to repeat myself: I believe in Liberty, therefore, I believe that wielding the power of the virtual pen to cause harm should be reserved for only the rarest of cases, and even then only with the greatest hesitation. Use with caution and responsibility.
May the practicers of all religions and levels of thought and worship have a good day.
May you help many people, and harm none.
Do this, and I am your ally.
contact ladd @ filmladd dot com