Richard Dawkins condemns Chapel Hill shooting suspected to have been carried out by ‘anti-theist’ that left three Muslims dead

Feb 12, 2015

By Helen Nianias

Richard Dawkins has decried the shooting in North Carolina that left three young Muslims dead in their family home.

The vocal opponent of organised religion called for condemnation of the massacre on Twitter.

The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

A 46-year-old man, named by police as Craig Stephen Hicks, has been arrested on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder.

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103 comments on “Richard Dawkins condemns Chapel Hill shooting suspected to have been carried out by ‘anti-theist’ that left three Muslims dead

  • The evil of this murder beggars the imagination. We grieve with the family, friends and every compassionate person at home and abroad for the loss of three precious young lives.

    We secular humanists should never lose sight of humanism first and secularism as the desired outcome. The tragedy should give us pause to consider when, in the heat of debate, our words cross over the line from rational ridicule of beliefs to dehumanization of human beings.

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  • 2
    agnostic mystic says:

    Well said Melvin. Also, one should not lump all anti-theists into one monolithic group mindset and one should not lump all theists into one monolithic group mindset. If these murders were hate crimes then the perpetrator allowed his disagreement with theism to devolve into anger and hate which resulted in an horrendous, violent act. Humanism requires love and compassion for all humans regardless of their delusions. I hope the families and friends of the victims can eventually find peace.

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  • I was initially apprehensive about people like Dawkins disavowing Hicks like this but I was wrong about that.
    It should be pointed out that as things stand at the moment, there is only a few social media posts and a grief stricken father connecting this crime to atheism. No affirmative link between Hicks’ atheism and his crime has been established and I worried that Dawkins statement will be read as an admission by a high profile representative of this community that Hicks was some kind of “atheist terrorist,” a term already being used to describe him by the RW media. The most opportunistic and intellectually dishonest critics of atheism will, undoubtedly, try to use this as an excuse to nullify atheist criticism of religion, completely ignoring their own hypocrisy in the process. Atheism was not the only thing Hicks posted about and it is neither the only possible nor the most plausible motivation for his crimes, yet atheism is what the press has fixated upon.
    All of this is true, but we should condemn Hicks in the loudest and clearest terms imaginable anyway. There are people within this cohort, particularly in the ethically murky waters of the social media comment thread, that sometimes rush right past intellectually honest criticism of religion and go straight to hateful irrationality. Just because you don’t need god to have a moral compass does’t mean you automatically get one if you reject god. I feel that our reaction to this story and how it unfolds will be a defining moment for atheism.
    We should condemn Hicks and any other atheist whom commits violent acts or professes a violent ideology, but we should also be prepared to mount a full throated withering defense against the inevitable straw men that will come in response.

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  • How could any decent person become so interested and involved in another person’s belief system as to continually stir up hate and division? Perhaps it is time to reassess your message and it’s delivery.

    Yes, it is easy to condemn the murder of three innocent people once the deed is done. Now you can wash your hands of it. God forbid (yes, I said it) you should back off and allow others to simply live their lives. Truly intellectual minds and rational thinkers do not have time for such foolishness as that which fills the pages of this website (and others like it). I will not pretend, my comment here and opinion is that of a dedicated Christian. But now three innocent young people are dead, simply because they had a different world view. How is your position any more valuable or useful than that of those you continually disparage?

    Again, it is time for you to reassess your message and it’s delivery.

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  • What are you, kidding? No one with an ounce of sense blames all atheists for this lunatic’s actions. However, just because something can be said, and is allowed by freedom of speech, does not mean it is necessary to say it. BTW, it is quite clear what Hicks believed. Do not be an apologist for those who choose the wrong course; it makes you look foolish.

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  • Paul,

    I have tried to find a balance on this forum and always tried to explain that there is no one reason for the act of violence. I feel you have swung the pendulum far to much the other way to what usually gets said about muslims. I am an atheist from a Muslim background and will not accept that these people were killed because of the simple reason of atheism. The racist in most people is the bigger threat (as I have stated in another thread on this subject) and mental problems. The media and others who dehumanise races are the ones that arm the public. All that’s left is to pull the trigger.

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  • “No one with an ounce of sense” Paul, that covers about 45 percent of the American public.
    If any crime is not “atheist”, we don’t blame the religion that they were associated with.

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  • I am only interested in a person’s belief system when it inexorably leads all of us into the nothingness of death. Unfortunately Religious people CANNOT allow other’s simply to live their lives…that’s the problem….

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  • Oh and Paul – as a “Dedicated Christian” – shouldn’t you be out on the streets finding some fornicators to stone or something like that….or are you going to ignore the 98% of the canon that your imaginary friend expects you to live your life by? Just a thought…..

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  • Please show me where we as a group of non-believers have ever for reasons of our non-belief ever have advocated murder.

    As an aside I can point to any number of passages in your holy book that does just that. Don’t talk to us about our message without being very specific please – especially not when you are attempting to smear ever non-believer out there with murder.

    Take your time I’m late for work I check back this afternoon to see if you can address this question. I suspect not.

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  • Paul:

    Truly intellectual minds and rational thinkers do not have time for such foolishness as that which fills the pages of this website (and others like it).

    A bit too lowly for you, are we Paul ? Well away off to your highbrow “intellectual” sites that no doubt discuss the number of angels who can dance on pins. Your snide reaction to Dawkins’ condemning these murders, as do I, says little about your humanity.

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  • This NO fucking joke child. Three people were murderd. I live in the US where the Right already is blaming Atheists for this one.
    I’ll give you a break.
    You need to give RESPECT for others opinions without berating.

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  • @Paul.

    Sounds like teen spirit conspiracy theory being born here. The guy was a bogun (Australian ism). He had a gun because he lived in crazy America. This couldn’t have happened in most of the rest of the western world. He flipped for whatever reason. Grabbed the gun. (because he lived in crazy America) Blew them away.

    Or he didn’t believe in god so he new that he could just kill people because there is no heaven or hell. Mmm. Yep. He’s going to prison for life.

    I can’t go past a bogun with a gun.

    Ockham’s Razor. Which explanation makes the least assumptions. You choose.

    Nothing to see here folks. Move along now.

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  • Reza Aslan tweeted this yesterday –

    “Sorry @RichardDawkins no matter how many times you condemn #ChapelHillShooting we are just going to keep assuming you haven’t and don’t”

    A nice emollient sentiment it isn’t. What it is, is a flagrant attempt at shit stirring from a cemented mind that keeps on assuming. Meanwhile, much nearer the bottom of the food chain the usual suspects are embracing the Chapel Hill tragedy with distasteful relish – #Chapel Hill equals #Charlie Hebdo goes the twisted algebra. Armchair jihadists tweet as if western society has just scored a late own goal and we’re all heading into a period of extra time, where team Islam has all the momentum and the moral thrust of having a real grievance to avenge. Muslim gunmen are described as terrorists, whilst Atheist gunmen are portrayed as lone fruitcakes, or so runs the mantra of the outraged.

    At a push, Chapel Hill might be a consequence of Charlie Hebdo. Similarly, deranged lone murderers might take their cue from a proliferation of Islamic terrorism, but there is no equilibrium in these equations – tragedies on each side don’t cancel each other out, they just add to the sum total of human misery.

    In short, it should be patently obvious that all right minded people condemn these heinous acts instinctively. And if it’s not obvious to you Mr Aslan, then perhaps you might care to read up on the difference between tragedy and opportunity.

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  • To proclaim this guy was driven by atheism is ridiculous and absurd. The apologists for religion need atheism to be a religion to apply their false equivalencies.

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  • I’d like to know what he has to say for himself. At least he didn’t suicide by cop.

    An awful tragedy, completely senseless and avoidable. And to be perfectly honest, I am not completely surprised. I’ve heard some seemingly rational people holding really terrifying views, and they were not half joking (the nuclear option, perhaps?).

    The reaction surprises me even less.

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  • Out of all the murders in the World, all of a sudden the atheists are the problem because some deranged idiot shot three very nice people to death.

    Wow………THAT is why I don’t believe in their gawd or their honesty. (stereotype, blanket statement, and generalization)………(if they can do it, so can I?)

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  • Why is anyone surprised. Why is this even an issue. Someone being shot with a gun in America. Whoa. That’s a surprise. It’s a national pastime. Gun toting drug crazed mental defectives with no national health system loose on the street. To borrow from the bible. America. As you sew, so shall you reap. America. 14,827 murders per year. 40 murders a day. So what is so special about this one.

    This murdering American bastion of intellectual brilliance posts in Facebook, that font of all social knowledge, that he doesn’t believe in god, and the spiritual of this world are drooling and salivating and linking this guy to Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler, re-indorsing their confirmation bias that you can’t be good unless you believe in god. Is this the best you’ve got. Do you really want to hang your argument on this one guy in the whole world as your argument that atheists are evil.

    When the investigations done and the court case proceeds, lets see what comes out. Lets see what the coroner finds. Lets see what the Judge sums up. I’ll bet my mortal soul that this gun toting American will have no motivation that includes the word “God”.

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  • It saddens me. When I heard about this, my heart broke. What’s worse is the influx of “Christians” n this site blaming the atheist community. Are all crimes done by “Christians” attributed to Christianity?

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  • Your post is a generalization. More than 75 percent of Americans want more gun control. It is NOT a National pastime.
    Your anti-American bias is not very enlightening or intelligent. I expect more out of people on this site.

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  • What’s worse is the influx of “Christians” n this site blaming the atheist community.

    My target was these people, not the rational people of America. Paul up above just about climaxing over this news. You need to get it in some perspective. Hence, my post.

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  • alf1200…..

    If, as you say, 75% of Americans want more gun control…. could you please explain to me why in hell gun control isn’t already enforced everywhere is this bloody Union ? ? How come don’t these so-called ‘75%’ propel a man (or a woman) that will put that gun control into reality… to the White House, then ?

    I wait for an answer. Thanx.

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  • Ya know, I noticed something long ago. The more religious, the more arrogant.
    But there is no way to logically debate this nonsense so they have to be illogical when they discuss it.

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  • I am a militant anti-theist. Whenever I hear or read muslims reacting to some terrorist atrocity with “That’s not us, that’s not islam, islam is a religion of peace”, I snort with derision. ‘Sure’, I say to myself. ‘So do something about it then.’ Now we seem to be saying ‘That’s not us, atheism is not about killing’. Some of the comments assert that the killer did not act on the basis of atheism. Can we be sure? I am deeply troubled that we are sounding a lot like the muslim community after a terror attack.

    Atheism is about to suffer from its own success. As more people pronounce their unbelief, more mentally troubled individuals will join us – and some of those will commit murder in the name of atheism. All the religious will hammer us whenever that happens and many whose faith may be wavering will be turned off atheism by such acts. I believe that the muslim community has set the bar very low in terms of reaching troubled members in order to prevent this sort of behavior, but I would like to see the humanist community strive to exceed this example by a very wide margin.

    I know there are many efforts by humanist groups to make the world a better place, but can we do more? Can we show the religious communities that humanists can all work together, despite our philosophical diversity, to reshape the world we live in? John Lennon asked us to ‘Imagine’ a world free of politics, nationalism, commercialism and hunger as well as religion. Right now, we have the technology to begin building a world of abundance in which no-one needs to squabble over a parking space, or food, or billion-dollar profits, or election victory, or any other thing. How forward thinking was Lennon to imagine this in 1971! There is a lot of literature out there addressing how we could do this, and if we decide to go down that route we could free up the resources we need to find real treatments for all disease, including mental illness; to end all poverty and provide such abundance for all that trivial squabbles over material things need never occur.

    Most people I talk to are scared by the thought of such radical changes, but I take heart from the fact that ‘Imagine’ was Lennon’s most popular song. I believe building Lennon’s imagined world is a goal worthy of the humanist movement, and instead of disclaiming ownership of this horrible, murderous act we should take this on board as yet another indicator that we need to strive harder.

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  • It’ll be raining pigs before you’ll his hear his gun possession put before his anti-theism. Hell, he said it himself. People kill people, not guns. I wonder what he thinks now.

    Equating his actions with some sort of ‘islamophobic jihad’ is laughable though. But you’ll hear it, again and again. I just want to hear what he has to say. If he feels like a winner or a loser. If it was premeditated, to make an example, send a message, or just a case of the red mist, even prejudiced, gone horribly wrong.

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  • We don’t know jack about his motivations, the circumstances, his state of mind, then and now. Wait and see, before you either start whipping yourself, or breathe a sigh of relief.

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  • Sure, the NRA. The right politicans don’t want any change. They are afraid of the NRA’s influence.

    We have lost our country to loonys. Or as you call them…….wankers.

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  • When you can be called “Islamophobic” for mentioning the fact that you consumed and enjoyed bacon & mango chutney sarnies (try them – they’re fabulous!) for breakfast (In a meeting where two of the persons were in fact practicing Muslims) then it’s not surprising that any crime against the person who happens to be Muslim must ergo. be “Islamaphobic” in nature!

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  • It has nothing much to do with atheism. It has more to do with insanity and the belief in the USA in the Constitutional Right to Arm Bears 🙂

    If you allow people unrestricted access to guns some crazy people will shoot people.

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  • Three young persons. Not three young American Muslims. It doesn’t matter that they were American or Muslim. We are all Africans.

    When furious madmen screaming Allah Ackbar kill cartoonists , it is not about Islam, but if lone atheist kills three of his neighbours, it is atheism against religious freedom. Suddenly, the US have a problem with atheism, not with gun control.

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  • of course. any deflection will do when it comes to citizens demonstrating what happens when they use the arms they rightfully bare in the manner they’re intended to be used.

    does anyone know what colour his hair is? might bew worth looking into….

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  • 44
    nomorewoo says:

    ” Some of the comments assert that the killer did not act on the basis of atheism. Can we be sure?”

    Yes, Ed, we can be sure. At least until you can find a verse in the atheist bible/koran which urges the killing of believers.

    Which would first require finding an atheist bible/koran. I can’t name any, can you?

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  • This is the kind of inflammatory and ignorantly prejudiced response that atheists should back away from. Which Christians exactly are stoning fornicators, or even suggesting it? If you are going to critique a religion, you should get your facts straight.. ie. that Jesus actually stopped people from stoning an adulteress. It doesn’t matter to me whether it is fact or fiction. Either way you have misunderstood the story, and are using hatemongering language, which incites some to hate religious people themselves. This is what needs to stop on all sides.. and yes, your own high horse is also just one side.

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  • Sorry nomorewoo but those books where written a long time after the ‘word’ was used. We now have irresponsible people doing exactly the same. Not all by any means. It is not hard to confuse people who are too lazy to find things out for themselves or are just looking for soundbites to justify their, dare I call them, thoughts.

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  • It saddens me too, and wish there was more hush on this page than anger. What is interesting is how you see a few comments here as an influx of ‘Christians’

    blaming the atheist community.

    That is hardly true, compared with the daily venting here against religious people and how their beliefs create violence. I think this atheist community can put up with such a small amount of its own medicine.

    Are all crimes done by “Christians” attributed to Christianity?

    ..on this website? Yes they are. Maybe this should make us empathise better with individual Muslims who are expected to apologise for all that Islamic terrorism is responsible for.

    What is actually ‘worse’ than people ‘blaming the atheist community’.. is the tragedy that 3 decent young human beings have been murdered as a result of hatred for faith being nurtured into full blown hatred of believers.

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  • I am dismayed at two things here. One, of course, is the speculation that his motive sprang from a hatred of religion and Islam. The other is the speculation that it is the result of an inherent racism-like attribute (a fear of others that look and behave differently). We have no evidence for either case and it is wholy self serving to make either claim at this stage. Certainly from what Hicks has written earlier he appears to eschew the essentialist stance. It would be nice that we do the same.

    I await his comments with interest. Of course, I hope to find him simply devastated by at the fact of his petty rage and his own folly, but who knows…

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  • On Ajazeera today, it was claimed that he hated them for speaking Arabic too loudly. As I have said in other posts, I have seen this in action. The smell of curry from next door etc….It IS petty rage Phil but it still has roots.

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  • I am deeply troubled that we are sounding a lot like the muslim community after a terror attack.

    I agree… that’s exactly how the many comments on this page read to me, and will do to others visiting the site. If reason and science are to be fit for the purpose of telling others to ditch their beliefs, then I think they ought to be employed intelligently and without double standards. After reading comments on muslims elsewhere, this page reeks of hypocrisy. I’m sure we can try to do better, like you say Ed.

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  • “He kind of made everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe,” resident Samantha Maness told the Raleigh News and Observer. “He was very angry anytime I saw him.”

    Maness describes Hicks as particularly fixated on parking and noise. He was known for having unfamiliar cars towed and had confronted Maness for being too loud. Last year, she said, residents convened a meeting to discuss Hicks’s behavior, but nothing came of it.

    But Maness said that Hicks had “equal opportunity anger” toward Finley Forest residents.

    “I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly toward a lot of people in this community,” she said.

    Hicks was known for his temper and confrontational behavior. His ex-wife, Cynthia Hurley, who divorced Hicks about 17 years ago, said his favorite film was “Falling Down,” in which a disgruntled and unemployed defense industry worker played by Michael Douglas goes on a shooting rampage.

    “That always freaked me out,” Hurley told the Associated Press. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all.”

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  • Still fits my profile of him Phil. Racism is just part of a bullies makeup. If you could fit a sensor on him, I bet it would peak at the Arab voice.

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  • No it explicitly doesn’t fit your profile. Your conjectures are simply that. Bet away.

    If you could fit a sensor on any of us you would find our amygdala pinging away with early culturally wired out-group warning signals. The sweetest liberal, who would die for the cause of being anti-racist, yet has the out-group alarm bells ring. This is the state we’re all in. It is the actions we choose for ourselves, being deeper thinkers, that allow us to choose to ignore the alarm bells. This will take more than one generation to change. Our children will hear less clanging than us over our parents’ out-groups that we were wired for, though you might make them jump when you shout, “Look out! Banker!”

    It would appear (though I could be thoroughly wrong) that Hicks is pretty close to a classic psychopath. If this is true, that makes him a terrible specific example to serve your generalist point.

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  • I am quite wrong to say classic psychopath. Apologies. This is far closer.

    Specifically this-

    IED [Intermitent Explosive Disorder] may also be associated with lesions in the prefrontal cortex, with damage to these areas, including the amygdala, increasing the incidence of impulsive and aggressive behavior and the inability to predict the outcomes of an individual’s own actions. Lesions in these areas are also associated with improper blood sugar control, leading to decreased brain function in these areas, which are associated with planning and decision making.[23] A national sample in the United States estimated that 16 million Americans may fit the criteria for IED.[13]

    16 million Americans also with the right to bear arms….

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  • I make the point through experience of this type of person Phil. I stand by what I said with that in mind. I had ‘friends’ who would have gone off the rails if they had not had my calming influence. I changed the character of a young man that had nearly beaten his brother to death with a spanner. He was well known locally for his temper and his racism. I was the wog he trusted. Not a person who I would hang around with normally but he was a friend of a friend. I had the fortune to also visit the last of the Turkish baths with my brother in law, who was a regular visitor. The other regulars were the east end rich villains. They told stories that made my toes curl. I suspect you have not mixed with many people in this category (that is not an insult) but I have. Put that with the peoples homes I have worked in with all the low level racism and I believe I can make the assumption.

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  • Unless there is some evidence that this crime was committed because the perpetrator was anti-theist (or somehow wanted to advance the cause of atheism) then it is just another horrible murder. Probably 90% of murders in the US are committed by proclaimed christians yet have nothing whatsover to do with their religion unless it was in some way evoked during the crime. (Side note – you never see a headline “Three people murdered by christian”, no matter how common that may be.)

    If there is evidence that he did it because he was anti-theist then it changes little. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an atheist claim that there aren’t bad people among the ranks (and they’d be stupid to do so of course). The christian right will, unfortunately, try to make hay out of this regardless.

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  • A few points:

    There are plenty of intermediate positions between “if a person with a given view does something, it was because of that view” and “we can never know how a person’s views played into what they did”, and one can think some “that’s why they did it” conclusions are more plausible than others. Such intermediate positions may provide a consistent basis for holding one’s own views in a better stead (regarding their sociological effects) than others. For example, one thing many terrorists have done that Hicks has not is speak in great detail about how they rationalise their past or planned actions in terms of their beliefs. So one doesn’t need to commit a double standard to think HIcks’s action had less to do with his views regarding which-gods-if-any-exist than did those of (insert countless examples here).

    While I’m busy suggesting we can suspect people really did things for the reasons they suggested, I’ll point out Reza Aslan seems keen to do that for neither countless Islamic terrorists nor Richard Dawkins. (I double-checked Aslan did indeed tweet that.)

    There’s a debate on this thread regarding to what extent atheists and Christians have been blaming each other for the violence of their respective coreligionists, and I don’t think we’ll get far on that front unless specific examples are presented as data. But how much each side is blaming the other won’t be all that matters if we go that far. For example, what have the perpetrators’ comments revealed about their motivations? I guess what I’m trying to say is it’d be a lot of effort to go through as an empirical analysis, all to settle a query that isn’t even on-topic for this thread.

    I think that the above points render a lot of the (as a moderator said) heat-not-light moot.

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  • This reply to my own comment is being made as the next best thing to an edit of it, since it’s apparently too late for me to make such an edit. I’ve just read an article that suggests that Aslan’s comment was a sarcastic mockery of the way Muslims are often accused of not condemning things they in fact often do condemn. That interpretation of why Aslan said what he did is worth bearing in mind should we discuss it further. For instance, it would be less worthwhile discussing why Aslan is so incredulous regarding Professor Dawkins’s comment, while also being more worthwhile than ever to discuss whether Muslim condemnations of Islamic extremism get the acknowledgment they deserve.

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  • Robert Feb 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I was initially apprehensive about people like Dawkins disavowing Hicks like this but I was wrong about that.
    It should be pointed out that as things stand at the moment, there is only a few social media posts and a grief stricken father connecting this crime to atheism.

    As I said on the earlier discussion this has to do with aggression and a macho gun culture!

    When the matter is further investigated there will probably be some sort of historic dispute, or mental illness involved, but that will probably not affect the biases of the story tellers.

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  • Hi pualmcuk,

    I was thinking the same. I think the arguments atheism on the basis of Stalin being an atheist fall into exactly the same category. The difference if people want to try to push that analogy (at the moment based upon nothing but speculation) is that non-belief in god does not dictate you behaving in anyway at all. The three monotheisms on the other hand do dictate literally that genocide is okay, slavery is okay, child murder is okay etc. How do atheists react when Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are bought up as examples? Why are these not valid arguments? Nothing changes with this guy. Likewise I note no-one is blaming his non-belief in unicorns as the motivation for killing these people.

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  • Hi Jos,

    I didn’t take Aslans comments any other way. I am now wondering who else thought anything else was meant? I just hoped people in theirosirion would find a better way of expressing themselves.

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  • 64
    nomorewoo says:

    Olgun, I didn’t understand your post. Perhaps because I failed to make my initial point clearly.
    That point being: Atheism means nothing more than the unbelief in deities. There exists no atheist manifesto, no atheist commandments, no atheist Holy book with verses ordering to visit violence on those who dare stray from unbelief. The word, appropriately, unlike religions, appears not even to merit capitalization.

    So, no, their is no “basis of atheism” upon which a killer can act.

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  • I make the point through experience of this type of person…

    A bit circular there… You already know he is this type of person???

    I believe I can make the assumption.

    I believe not only that you cannot make that assumption (you have not demonstrated a sturdy personality trait that says IED types or the like, are mostly racist), but also, given the sensitivity of the issue, that you shouldn’t so assume for some tangential agenda. Once you know more, sure, go for it.

    Surely we have to work with more evidence than this?

    You also make wrong assumptions about me.

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  • My garbled mess was the problem nomorewoo. Sorry. I just meant to say that some people don’t need the written word. Like those who simply listen to what I ams say rather than read various translations and make up their own mind. We have plenty of opinionated people confusing people too.

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  • I don’t know you as well as I know this type of person Phil. I am not trying to be rude but you throw in a Wiki explanation and I agree, it can be part of his makeup but so is racism. You said yourself we all have it. I have spent 40 years experiencing it and checking my own thoughts and reactions. 40 years of field work if you like. I people watch. It’s something I do. Hicks statement will be his lawyers words. We will find nothing out from it. We will never know the truth. There will never be enough evidence for a proper conclusion. I have made up my mind through my experience and I have come to trust myself. Of course you can disagree with me and you will. Neither of us will ever be right.

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  • Based on the parking lot dispute, I venture to guess that this man may have been suffering with a degree of OCD. Would a sufferer not be just as likely to obsess with atheism as he would with religious belief, as with the need to make sure his socks were pulled to the same height or to see that the parking lot rules were not violated, to the point that he would be driven to act upon the over-whelming anxiety it produces in order to relieve his own mental distress. He does appear to be eerily calm following his arrest. I claim no expertise, just an observation on my part.

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  • The posts on his FB page certainly do not support your opinion that the murders were down to his racism or others opinion that it was down to his atheism. We will only really know if/when he makes a statement.

    He was pro guns, and from interviews with neighbours, was prone to angry outbursts particularly regarding local parking and noisy neighbours. You have decided that he is a racist, somehow based on your past bad experiences. You don’t seem to have any evidence to support that, you just say:

    I have made up my mind through my experience and I have come to trust myself.

    Does any of this cause you to question your gut feeling?

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  • Sorry to sound flippant Phil but I will use the phrase ‘we are all Africans’.

    I read some of what he wrote. Did I take it seriously after what happened. No!

    ‘ I support the right of muslims to build a mosque at ground zero but….fuck off out of my parking space and turn down your music’. Doesn’t give me much confidence in him profiling himself. I don’t even recognise some of my family on Facebook. One of the reason I don’t do it.

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  • The Facebook thing I answered above for Phil Mark. Please read that.

    The people he chose to shoot were muslims. He showed anger to others. I have stated that I have seen people angry with their own but become super angry when a bloody foreigner does not do as he is told. Super angry becomes murder. There is a trigger there. Perhaps he thought that because he was so lenient towards Muslims and so understanding, they owed him more. It is about being a human being. Search your own gut. What made anger become murder. If he is prone to anger then what made that trigger that made him want to kill? What broke the camels back?


    It is not a gut feeling as such. It is a thought out expieience filled solution to a puzzle.

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  • If he is prone to anger then what made that trigger that made him want to kill?

    That would depend on his state of mind. Perhaps something as petty as someone parking in his space would do it.

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  • If you have such tolerance and understanding, as he seems to show on Facebook, then that skill is used for everything in your life. Unless you are a schizophrenic. Then he would be only half racist.

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  • I hope that we never meet in court, you amongst the twelve good folk
    and true and I in the dock. I’d be a goner with your authorititive

    First of all..Don’t kill anyone

    Secondly…Are you defending him for murder or me calling him a racist?

    I have given my reasons on how I came to the conclusion that he is a racist. I would do the same with the twelve just men. Then they would convict him for murder and not racism.

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  • It is a thought out expieience filled solution to a puzzle.

    Still sounds like a gut feeling. As Phil says, how can you be so sure about this person in South Carolina, based on your past experiences in the UK. You see a redneck american racist, even though many posts on his FB page would suggest otherwise.

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  • He just killed three muslims at a time when tensions are through the roof.

    I have given all the evidence for my decision in various posts. You will make up your own mind I am sure Mark.

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  • Are you defending him for murder or me calling him a racist?

    We are publicly judging him here. As the 12 thousand good folk and true our decision is first guilty or not guilty, then mad or bad? I think given the pattern of his writing, that terrorists aren’t made to be so because of Islam (his general point, evil resides in individuals, like lone shooters!) and that minorities need defending like the LGBT community, that we cannot expect the standard Redneck profile. This is underlined by his educational aspirations-

    At Durham Technical Community College, where Hicks was studying to be a paralegal, he was seen as an “exemplary student,” school spokesman Carver Weaver told the Charlotte Observer. Hicks was described as opinionated but high-achieving and was said to help other students with their work.

    I think there is a rather large mismatch with the Redneck profile that should give us pause.

    The most common cognitive error is seeing what we expect to see. All cognitions start with a hunch to speed things along. Mostly our hunches are right so evolution keeps this useful attribute. But sometimes our hunches are wrong. Its not that our stereotypes don’t carry statistical weight, its that that weight may not be fairly applied to individuals, least of all at first acquaintance.

    There seems a good enough chance, from the reports of others about anti-social behaviours and the foregoing, that Hicks has serious mental issues (guilty and “mad”) and to use him as an example of societal problems is to serve those problems badly.

    Things have gotten a little hot. My apologies Phil.

    No worries, Olgun.

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  • Hmm. I’ve been going to churches of one sort or another for much of my life. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard it suggested that genocide, salvery or child murder are okay (far less dictated.)

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  • No worries, Olgun.

    Thanks Phil.

    Maybe Redneck was a bit too harsh and due to my frustration at the fact people are being killed. In order to kill when not being threatened, surely he must have mental issues. There still is the point of target and trigger. I realised that my anger is partly due to the fact that I have been trapped in the little world of this forum which concentrates the mind at a single point. People here trying to defend a fellow atheist, as they see it, and the fact, as I mentioned before, that an hour of Aljazeera did not mention atheism at all. They were mostly disgusted at the lack of media cover and that people were bringing down to a level of just a parking issue or that he might have mental issues. The attributes to low level racism I still stand by and still think it to be the trigger regardless of the persona shown elsewhere. It will not be the first time people have shown charity but still think the charitable are of a lower being. The church does it all the time. The parts of the brain that misfire with anger issues and the parts that deal with racist issues must be separate? It is complicated and, as I have said in other posts, we will never know the truth.

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  • Olgun,

    I been following your discussion with Phil with interest. I don’t want to get involved in the direct discussion between you and Phil, however you said something here that I found surprising and it may well be my biases showing so I’d respectfully like to ask you to expand on the following statement.

    People here trying to defend a fellow atheist, as they see it, and the fact, as I mentioned before, that an hour of Aljazeera did not mention atheism at all.

    The reason I ask is I haven’t gotten that impression at all. I’ve gotten the impression that most people here are not trying to defend the guy that shot three people here but are defending the position that atheism has some sort of creed which leads to racism and murder. To me it is a similar accusation of blaming atheism for Stalin’s atrocities. This may of course be driven by my biases, I’m wondering if you could expand on what makes you think this. Again this could be a case of my biases showing here I’m genuinely interested in seeing if we just disagree or I’ve got the blinkers on.


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  • @ Ewan

    And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall
    deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them. Deuteronomy 7:16

    Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:15

    But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

    And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21

    So smote all the country … he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. Joshua 10:40

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts … go and smite Amalek, and utterly
    destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and
    woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel


    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    On the beating of your slaves

    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    And from the New Testament

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve
    them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so
    that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your
    master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You
    should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by
    your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to
    obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT


    The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

    Cruelty to Children

    He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. — Exodus 21:17

    The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it. — Proverbs 30:17

    And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and … offer him there for a burnt offering…. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. — Genesis 22:2,10

    The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon…. And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. — Exodus 12:29-30

    And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. — 2 Kings 2:23-24

    And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. — Leviticus 26:29

    And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons
    and of thy daughters. — Deuteronomy 28:53

    And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of
    their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.
    — Jeremiah 19:9

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. — Psalm 137:9


    If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. — Deuteronomy 22:23-24

    If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. — Deuteronomy 22:28-29

    Murder and rape

    And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. — Numbers 31:15-18

    Sacrifice of Child under direct instruction from God

    11:30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
    11:31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of
    my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of
    Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt
    offering. 11:32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to
    fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 11:33
    And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even
    twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great
    slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children
    of Israel. 11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and,
    behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with
    dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor
    daughter. 11:35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his
    clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low,
    and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth
    unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. 11:36 And she said unto him, My
    father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me
    according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as
    the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the
    children of Ammon. 11:37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing
    be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down
    upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 11:38
    And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went
    with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
    11:39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned
    unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had
    vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

    And I could go on further (didn’t even mention Noah’s flood for example, or the baby ), in short what your statements show is a complete ignorance of your own holy book, I suggest you read it, the whole thing not just the selected passages your ministers choose to read to you. The reason they don’t by the way is the quickest way to becoming an atheist is to actually read the holy books on offer.

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  • Sorry Reckless, only just seen this.

    I think my phrasing is the problem. By ‘a fellow atheist’ I meant just atheism not Hicks himself. People have argued that we cannot seperate Islam from muslims and quote parts of the Koran. I just find it hypocritical to then try to do the same for atheism. You can argue that there is no bible for atheism to quote from but, there are plenty of books and prominent people to quote from. I just want a little consistency. Otherwise, like Phil mentioned above, we are doing a diner is to the condition as well as the people who expieience low level racism on a daily basis. As I have mentioned, I am ‘lucky’ in that I don’t look foreign so I don’t always suffer the indignity every day but once people know my name it all changes. I have visited the former office a few times and the one thing that gets my blood boiling is the speech that has the words ‘we are supportive of your community in our country’. Last time I got it, it was from an Indian rep.

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  • Forgive me but this kind of response is a bit worrying to me. It is dangerously close to just telling people to shut up.

    Religion is a ridiculous and unfounded proposition. More importantly, I have and should have the right to say so.

    And by the way it is in Deuteronomy that adultery is an offense punishable by stoning (along with other silly conditions). Just another example of Jesus contradicting his dad and by that we mean himself… somehow.

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  • I have watched a long debate on Al Jazeera (“Chapel Hill Shooting: Was it a hate crime?”).
    It hasn’t helped me to have a better vision of the facts. They seem to know nothing.
    So I remain with my own considerations.
    What an absurd situation!
    Good Moslems are weeping and bad Islamists are laughing.
    All this occurred for the lack of self-control of a man.

    Was the religious hatred the cause of the raptus?
    I don’t know. It may be and it may not be or it can be one of many factors.
    Is there any responsibility of the organized atheism?
    No, organized atheism never promoted acts of violence.
    Could the demand of the Islamists to shut our mouths and reduce our freedom of expression generate a wave of violent reactions?
    Yes, it can. Limitation of freedom of expression is an action and not an idea so it can generate a reaction.

    We have fought for centuries for the freedom of thought and expression and after the WWII we had thought to have reached a firm point with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now Islamists (along with reactionary Christians and Jews, under the table) are trying to reverse the situation with the excuse of the “offence” (a matter completely subjective). The truth is that solid facts don’t fear offence of any type, instead, fairytales confronted by criticism go destroyed in bits. So the excuse of the “offence” is turned to maintain alive some fairytales in danger of death. I have nothing against fairytales. At the same time I don’t admit the possibility to be silenced because of fairytales. So I am ready to fight. And this has nothing in common with lack of self-control or raptus. Obviously, until our legal system grants us the rights of real freedom of thought and freedom of expression, I will fight with the weapons of democracy and law.

    On 17 of February we commemorate Giordano Bruno that was burnt alive in Rome by order of the Catholic inquisition. He was carried to the stake with a muzzle in his mouth so that he couldn’t speak. He was not the only one. He was the most important among thousands that have done the same end. Islamists (along with reactionary Christians and Jews, under the table) have to know that WE ARE GIORDANO BRUNO, no more available to do the same end, no more available to wear a muzzle on our mouths!

    Why all this?
    To one side, for the refusal to hear the words of the prophet:
    “Who wants believe, who wants deny.”
    (But there are other sides and motivations that follow below.)

    And what are the links between all this and the killing of three innocent good Moslems?
    None: so it was not for hatred against faith.
    Some: a new climate was created. By whom?

    For me the answer is complex.
    I have worked in North Africa and in Saudi Arabia between 1975 and 1983.
    At that time the Moslems were gentle and hospitable.
    Every time that they have asked me of my religion I have answered to be atheistic.
    Nobody bothered me for that.

    What did it happen then so that the climate changed so much between the Islamic people and the Occidentals?

    There have been internal and external facts that compromised the good climate.

    We have sold them modern weapons to compensate the expenses for oil and they became proud.
    They have accumulated loads of dollars because of the oil and some of them have become a little bit presumptuous.
    Some religious people began to think that it was the time for the triumph of the Islam. Christian leaders and Jewish leaders reacted in analogous manner.
    The Occident was unjust in judging some actions of Israel and they became angry with us.
    The Occidentals have armed some fanatical groups in Afghanistan to fight Russians and some young Moslems have seen it as a model to follow and apply elsewhere.
    Somebody in the US thought that they had to catch every pretext to intervene in the lands of the oil.
    It began the strong use of religions as tools for the political struggle: Islam Christianity Judaism… It was only a return after the parenthesis of strong political ideologies.

    Nowadays many Moslems hold the pride for Islam as an act of patriotism, even when they are abroad.
    If you add that some of them have the attitude to irritating confrontational speech, you have to be prepared to other cases of lethal raptus, especially in countries where the place of the pride for patriotism is already occupied.

    Organized atheism can try to teach to their associates and sympathizers the self-control in high stress situations.

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  • Reckless Monkey Ta Olgun,

    I get what you are saying thanks for taking the time to reply.


    I think I have hit the limits of my iPad. Scrolling and highlighting are a problem which makes checking my post impossible. Sorry about the typos. Just for the sake of clarity;

    diner is = disservice

    former office = Foreign Office

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  • Paul, why do my parents constantly tell me that they’re praying for me? Why can’t I have a cup of coffee with my brother without getting a bible story? How come I was given a CD recording of sermon on The Prodigal Son?

    If you’re an atheist you know all about hate and division and frankly it gets way past annoying.

    Further you seem to swallow the notion that there’s no other cause that the religion of the victim for this crime so let me toss out anothernotion.

    Perhaps like so many of the religious the victims were sanctimonious jerks who took some pleasure in baiting those who are different and didn’t care at all if they violated the parking rules of the community that they lived in. That wouldn’t justify murder but it makes a bit of “self help justice” by Hicks sound more plausible

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  • Are you arguing that the three monotheisms use these passages to “dictate literally that genocide is okay, slavery is okay, child murder is okay etc”?

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  • Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Are you arguing that the three monotheisms use these passages to “dictate literally that genocide is okay, slavery is okay, child murder is okay etc”?

    There is a history of various Xtian sects and denominations doing so!

    See also:

    The Deutsche Christen (German Christians) were a German Protestantism movement aligned towards antisemetic principles of Nazism. The DC were sympathetic to Hitler’s goal of uniting the individual Protestant churches into a single Reich church.

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