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Austin Cline

David Popescu: Homosexuals Should Be Executed

By October 13, 2008

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It is difficult to overestimate the capacity for traditional religions to construct or merely justify intense hatred of "others" outsiders who fail to meet specific religious standards. Secular ideologies are not immune to such problems, of course, but religions can provide something not possible in any purely secular ideology: the transcendental endorsement or even commands of a god. Case in point is David Popescu, a conservative Christian politician in Canada who espouses levels of hatred and violence that are otherwise almost unheard of.
Popescu introduced himself with a public prayer, blaming environmental damage and economic unrest on the wickedness of society. His comments were met with silence as some students grimaced and shifted in their seats.

Near the end of the more than two-hour event, students were invited to ask the candidates questions. As a long line of pupils waited to speak, Popescu told a young female student who asked about stem cell research that, "God would hurt" those who had an abortion.

The crowd jeered and many rose to their feet in protest after Popescu answered another teenager's question on gay marriage.

During a telephone interview later in the day, Popescu reasserted his view. "A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed," he said. "My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn't be more clear on that point."

Source: The Sudbury Star

Other Christians have naturally been quick to distance themselves from David Popescu and condemn his ideas, but his case here raises an interesting question which conservative Christians should be pressed on: if biblical condemnations of some behavior should be adopted, why shouldn't the corresponding biblical punishments for that behavior be adopted as well?

Conservative Christians find ways to wiggle out of accepting all biblical rules on an equal basis, dividing them up into "moral" and "non-moral" categories that seem to have no basis outside their own personal, non-biblical values. The same rationalizations can't work when it comes to the punishments, though, and the only option that seems open to them is to state plainly that the biblical punishments would be immoral today that they may have been appropriate in primitive societies several thousand years ago, but that we've grown up and grown beyond that.

Once such a move is made, though, I don't think it would be possible to maintain that the prohibitions in question are somehow still appropriate in modern society. If executing gays is immoral, why is the prohibition on homosexuality still acceptable? If it's appropriate for modern society to prohibit homosexuality, why isn't it appropriate to simply execute gays as is prescribed in the same source that is telling us to prohibit homosexuality in the first place?

Paul Camillo, principal of Sudbury Secondary, emphasized the school's inclusiveness in his closing remarks but did not condemn the statement.

"We're here today to hear what the candidates have to say," he said in an interview. "As an inclusive school, we respect all other opinion although we may not agree with them -- and I know there were definitely some things said today that we don't agree with."

People like Paul Camillo are almost as bad as people like David Popescu. No, Mr. Camillo, you do not have to respect all other opinions and in fact no moral, rational, sensible person should respect all opinions. You should not respect the opinion that gays should be killed. You should not respect the opinion that Jews should be killed. You should not respect the opinion that blacks are inferior and should be enslaved. You should not respect the opinion that white Christians should rule society. Respecting such opinions is itself immoral and nearly as bad as holding those opinions.

You should respect a person's right to hold such opinions, no matter how noxious, evil, and immoral they are. You should respect a person's right to express such opinions, though you are not necessarily obligated to give them a platform from which they can do so alongside every other opinion as if all opinions were perfectly equal. You should respect the possibility that a person probably holds such opinions for what they are convinced are good reasons and not simply because they want to be evil. You should also try to respect the person themselves, however little they respect others.

None of this, however, is even remotely close to respecting the opinions of anyone. Opinions do not deserve any automatic respect in the way that fellow human beings do. Opinions have to earn respect based on their intellectual and moral qualities. Not all opinions are equal: some are more moral and some are more immoral; some are intellectually sound while others are completely nonsense. Opinions that are immoral and/or nonsensical should not be respected or treated as the equals of opinions that are moral and reasonable; anyone who does so ultimately denies the value of both morality and reason.

Comments
October 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm
(1) Dewhurst says:

Popescu has said some very frightening things and, obviously, continues to do so.

I still find the fundamentalist goal of pushing their beliefs on sin, morality, and right/justice on everyone else as a legal matter to be amazingly empty of any sense whatsoever. It is very scary.

October 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm
(2) Alex says:

I agree with your point that some opinions just don’t deserve any respect. There is no point in being tolerant of the intolerant. However, I think it’s unfortunate that Popescu is getting so much press because, fundamentalist Christian or not, he’s just a whack-job.

According to the Wikkipedia entry, Popescu is a perennial candidate at the local, provincial and federal levels. He gets no votes. He hasn’t worked since around 1972. He lived with his mother, supported by her pension, from ’72 until 2003 when he was charged (and ultimately convicted) of assaulting her. He now lives at the Salvation Army.

What he said was ugly, no doubt, but he is clearly suffering from mental illness of one sort or another. The fact that the mentally ill say ridiculous things should come as no surprise.

What I find amazing is that he was allowed to participate in the debate in the first place. His views, and his nuttiness, should not have come as a surprise. I understand, however, that the other candidates in the riding have now decided not to participate in any debates in which Popescu is present. One cannot argue with the demented.

The more interesting point, I think, is that the opinion in question is totally biblical, based on explicit statements found in the Bible. So being a biblical literalist, as so many people claim to be today, give them a prima facie justification for holding such opinions.

I think it’s time that the Bible was redacted to remove some of the sillier and more hateful passages. Failing that, I think that the Canadian government should simply withdraw the tax exemption for all Christian churches so long as they continue to maintain that the Bible, in all its hate-filled ignorance, remains the word of the Christian God.

October 13, 2008 at 3:28 pm
(3) Kenneth says:

Why isn’t Popescu’s speech hate speech, at least considered a threat or inciting violence? The boyfriend of a female friend threatened to kill me. I notified the police, they verified it and he is currently in jail. He was charged with making terrorist threats. Why isn’t Popescu in jail? Is threatening to kill one person more serious than threatening to kill all of them?.

Why aren’t all tax exemptions for all religions removed? What is the justification for allowing a portion (corporation) of the population to not pay their fair share? Isn’t any exemption for any religion a promotion of religion? Isn’t that an extra and unfair tax on the rest of the population?

October 14, 2008 at 11:51 am
(4) Dave Q says:

I noticed some similarities to the rhetoric in this article and the rhetoric in the current Presidential campaign coming from the McCain camp. After a week of basically calling Obama a terrorist. The McCain campaign has started to see how dangerous this kind of speech can be. I remember the Presidential Campaign of 1968 when George Wallace and Richard Nixon used rhetoric to propound their racist ideology. Nixon’s “Law and Order” platform was basically racially charged rhetoric to try to quell the riots and violence in the streets. I remember those days. I would not like to see them come back in any shape or form. Either the violence or the rhetoric.

October 19, 2008 at 2:26 pm
(5) John Halloran says:

Paul Camillo’s attitude here reminded me of Sam Harris’s assertion that the moderates often serve, mostly inadvertently, as a screen and an enabler for the more extreme/literal members of any given party, sect, or religion.

However, as has also been pointed out, and as Harris argues very persuasively, the extremists are more often than the liberals consistent in their Biblical or Quranic worldviews than the moderates because they reject Enlightenment or Enlightenment-like value mitigations of the the clear meanings of the scriptures they read (their ambiguity only seems to rise in direct proportion to how much one doesn’t want to believe or act on them).

The plain fact of the matter is that the Old Testament is absolute hell on homosexuality (and a lot of other things of course). If one genuinely believes that collection of writings to be information and instruction from a/the supreme being,and still in force, one has slim justification for modifying it according to personal tastes.

This is all the more reason that no effort can or should be spared to educate those who hold such a viewpoint—that the Bible, Quran, whatever are god/s-inspired writings and must be obeyed without question or deviation—to the extremely high probability that their conviction is unwarranted. And, failing that, to keep them, as much as possible, out of positions of power, where they almost certainly will be sorely tempted to enact their beliefs upon society-at-large, including those of us who don’t share them, who indeed abhor them.

October 22, 2008 at 9:38 am
(6) brandon says:

i hope he goes to hell

March 6, 2009 at 11:26 pm
(7) Dave A. says:

Well, not that Popescu is getting to all this media attention, I suspect that he’s soon get an appointment as media spokesperson for the PMO.

March 6, 2009 at 11:47 pm
(8) Dave A. says:

What’s the difference between Popescu and Alphonse de Valk who publishes hate about the “sodomite onslaught”, and that “the homosexual community is waging an all out war on society”, “the “homosexual juggernaut”, “the culture of death”, “the Canadian Catholic comminity should come alive and realize that we are fighting a culture of death which … will destroy the spiritual heritage and therefore, the prosperity of Canada unless we fight it. No Catholic is exempt from this battle..Let’s fight back, … it’s high time for catholics to fight back”, and “the Lord who hath sent us to destroy them.”

The difference??? Well the hate from Alphonse de Valk and his “Catholic Insight” is brought to you courtesy of huge government grants from the MINISTER OF CANADIAN HERITAGE.

Your hard earned tax dollars promoting hatred.

March 6, 2009 at 11:59 pm
(9) Dave A. says:

What’s the difference between Popescu and DeValk?

Alphonse de Valk publishes hate messages in his Catholic Insight magazine and website. He refers to the “sodomites”, “culture of death”, “begetter of disease” that is “waging an all-out war on society”. He writes “the Canadian Catholic comminity should come alive and realize that we are fighting a “culture of death”. No Catholic is exempt fro this battle. Let’s fight back” “the Lord who has sent us to destroy them. Homosexuality can and must be controled and conquered.”

The only difference that I can see is that deValk’s hate propaganda is brought to you with the help of huge government grants from THE MINISTER OF CANADIAN HERITAGE.

June 2, 2009 at 11:17 pm
(10) brian says:

You must be homosexual and you must know your own emotional proplems drive you just as radical christians or muslims. You really need to chill out dude, try reading the whole bible for once jesus said “for who is without sin they may cast the first stone”. Here is the deal dude, jesus christ was without sin and he did not start the casting of stones, So in reality you owe jesus some respect for being a justified man among sinners like you and I. Homosexuals owe christians for still existing in society today so go out and preach the good news brother.

June 3, 2009 at 6:05 am
(11) Austin Cline says:

You must be homosexual

Why?

and you must know your own emotional proplems drive you just as radical christians or muslims.

Why “emotional problems” drive these people?

You really need to chill out dude, try reading the whole bible for once

Why do you assume I haven’t read it?

jesus said “for who is without sin they may cast the first stone”.

Have you followed that advice here?

Here is the deal dude, jesus christ was without sin and he did not start the casting of stones,

But apparently, if I don’t believe what people tell me this Jesus said, I’ll suffer in hell for all eternity. That’s quite a bit “stone”.

So in reality you owe jesus some respect

Why?

Homosexuals owe christians for still existing in society today so go out and preach the good news brother.

What does that mean – “for still existing in society”?

June 11, 2009 at 3:24 am
(12) C Woods says:

I worked, briefly, for a woman who was a born-again Christian and thought all homosexuals should be killed. Her teenaged son often stopped into the office (right next door to the owners’ home) and I am 99% positive he was gay. I never told her that, because, of course, she would have denied it. Like the president of Iran who believes there are no gays in his country, she was convinced there could never be a gay in her family. Ten years later, I wonder if she would advocate killing her own son.

She made her little anti-gay speech one day. The next day her husband referred to a client as “a dirty, little, atheist.” The next day I submitted my resignation. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t afford to leave that position and have to continue to work with such intolerant people. I imagine hundreds of thousands of employees are in that situation all the time.

June 11, 2009 at 8:26 pm
(13) JHSibal says:

I rather think a good test of this article is to substitute “Jew” for “homosexual” as it might have been written not so very long ago.

Obviously, no one could respect and support this view and obviously, any Biblical or justification from other priestly cults of this pathology would be discredited.

Its important to recognize that the bottom line here is what Malcolm X presciently recognized as “Nigger”. “Nigger is not a person, but a concept, he wrote. SOMEONE has got to be dumped on, someone was got to receive the irrationality and sickness that society as a whole & some as individuals individually need to project. So be it Jews, Homosexuals, Blacks, Gypsies or the lot, there will always be divine justification for this illness.

So it is perhaps wise to note that this process may very well be common psychosis. As as such, it must be sought out, understood and discredited before it can metastasize into the body politic.

June 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm
(14) Zayla says:

In numerous studies (yes, I can produce them) done in 1985-1990 it was estimated that anywhere from 20-40% of all Catholic Priests were homosexuals, many openly so.

Though there was dispute on the numbers, there was no dispute, even within the church, that the number was much higher in the church than in the population in general.

What bothered many of the clergy was how open the gay priests were in their relation hips as opposed to the the heterosexual priests who were having sex. The church was more tolerant of the open sexual relationships of the homosexual priests than the heterosexual priests.

August 9, 2009 at 8:56 am
(15) Bruce Robinson says:

I agree with everything that Austin says, except for one minor point. He refers to Popescu as a conservative candidate. That is potentially confusing. Popescu is a political and religious conservative who ran for Parliament as an independent. He was not a member of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Popescu was convicted of promoting hatred on 2009-AUG-07 and was given an 18 month suspended sentence — and a lot of publicity for his hatred and bigotry.

February 14, 2012 at 4:24 am
(16) Paolo says:

Popescu, You are useful like s**t into shoes….

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