|"The Atheist" opens in Boston -- offensive?|
A play entitled "The Atheist" is set to open for a short run in Boston. I don't know much about it, just what I found in this article at playbill.com. But, what I read makes me suspect I will not be happy with it.
The main character is described as "a crooked journalist who makes an art of clawing his way up the professional ladder."
This seems like a reasonable plot for a play. It could be called "Crooked Journalist" or "Clawing His Way Up"...but it is called "The Atheist".
Imagine if the play had been called "The Jew". I'm sure this would not have seemed unreasonable at certain places and times in history, though it would not be an acceptable title today in America. The implication is clear: it is because of the person's religion (or lack of religion, in the case of this play) that he is such a bad egg.
This is "hate-mongering" at its worst. I think that if we actually looked at real people, we'd find that the vast majority of atheists in this country are good citizens and morally upstanding individuals. It has already been noted, for example, that the percentage of atheists in prison is smaller than the percentage in general society, suggesting that FEWER atheists are criminals. But, a work of fiction can create any impression it wants. It can create a dispicable character and call him "the atheist", implying a connection between the two, and I fear that most people will not be skeptical enough to recognize that this is not evidence of anything.
Well, maybe the play is not exactly as the description suggested. Perhaps the reporter is not the atheist of the title, or maybe he is not quite so bad of a guy, or perhaps it somehow makes it clear that lots of atheists are good people. But, if not, then this is REALLY upsetting.