As many of you know I am taking a break from the Fundamentally Flawed podcast until at least March, 2014. This also involves my taking a break from the day-to-day ins and outs of the religion verses rationalism “debate” on-line. But the one topic I have kept quietly tuned-in to is that of Jason Burns, because it was myself and a few others who contacted the authorities when he threatened to harm himself a few weeks ago, and I wanted to make sure our concerns were followed-up by the NHS team in his area.
Jason was off-topic during the period of time which immediately followed our reporting his threat to slash his own wrists, because I was asked by the doctor I spoke to at the Royal Oldham Hospital to leave it up to the professionals, as well as being advised that it would be against various confidentiality laws to discuss the case openly while it was ongoing.
But in his latest and apparently last video, Jason himself has disclosed some of the details of what has been happening for the past few weeks, and so since it is now a matter of public record I think its only right to fill in a few of the gaps which are conveniently left out in Jason’s account:
In the video, Jason essentially makes the accusation that we only contacted the police because we couldn’t “beat him” in rational (love his flagrant misuse of that word) and scholarly debate. Further he asserts that we are censoring him through the use of “Stalinist Russia” style tactics. This was after he was called into his doctor’s office under the auspices of receiving a general health check-up, only to find when he arrived that it was for a mental health assessment. He also claims to have been told that if he doesn’t stop using YouTube he would be sectioned under the mental health act.
Reading between the lines here, I think what’s probably closer to the truth is that he was warned not to post any more videos threatening to hurt himself. I’m particularly glad to see that the NHS didn’t scupper the chances of him actually attending this check-up by flagging it up to him in advance. But the best news of all is that Jason, despite our worst fears, has been given the all-clear in terms of his mental state.
Sadly, however, this brings us to the rather disconcerting fact — that far from acting the way he does because of any underlying mental health issues, Jason’s behaviour actually falls within acceptable levels, despite that there are obvious signs of a persecution complex, and a level of narcissism which borders on being a dark satirical parody of the crazy Christian stereotype.
First, to address the question of him being persecuted, let me make it abundantly clear once and for all, Jason was not “targeted” for special treatment. The only reason he came to our attention in the first place was because of the very ideas he claims we do not want to listen to. It is, simply put, the fact that we did listen to his ideas which placed him on our radar to begin with — not only because he is flat-out wrong about a great many things, but because he appears to take great joy from repeating many of his mistakes even after he has had them pointed out. But in the world of Jason Burns, the ease with which some of his arguments can be shown false is merely proof that they are in-fact valid.
Secondly, on the question of him losing “thousands” of “scholarly” videos. Jason removed these videos himself. They were on the topic of Christianity and in particular the resurrection. No-one has ever said that these videos should be removed. No-one tried to have these videos removed from YouTube. The only videos which we took issue with were the ones in which he named specific individuals, accused them of saying and doing things which they hadn’t done or said, and which he then refuse to discuss openly while making further accusations of being bullied, simply by being held to account for spreading what he knew to be lies.
When Jason blocked users who wanted to comment on some of his videos, or disabled comments on them altogether, a mirror channel which also hosted them and did not censor or block comments from anyone, did briefly mark some of these videos as private, while the health authorities who were looking into his mental state conducted their investigation — but they were not deleted, and they were not used as a way to bait or cajole Jason into an argument for argument’s sake. His frustration at these videos being hosted on a channel he doesn’t control has nothing at all to do him being made to look silly, as he claims in the latest video, and everything to do with the fact he can’t pick and choose who comments on them, and selectively remove those comments which disagree with what he says in them.
Another fact which Jason glosses over by simply not mentioning it, is that in the lead up to his video wherein he threatened to harm himself, he posted a video which accused my friend Kat of faking a serious illness, which saw her hospitalised on and off for several long weeks, so as to get a sympathy vote and boost sales of her husband Alex’s music. The number of people with whom we fundamentally disagree and have had shouting matches with on the podcast several times, who put aside their differences with Alex and Kat when they needed a helping hand through a rough patch was genuinely moving. But the only thing Jason Burns could offer was a sickeningly cruel accusation of fraud, and in a tone of voice which couldn’t have been more offensive if he’d actually ordered Kat to get back in the kitchen and shut up. The fact that he now chooses to pretend this entire incident didn’t happen, and that he was scolded for it even by people who he sees as being on his “side” tells you everything you need to know about Jason’s actual interest in discussing the facts, and why he now feels the need to adopt a little boy lost persona where he is the victim of something he actually created all by himself.
Moreover, now we’re being told in that “look at me being persecuted” passive aggressive way which a certain brand of religious activists have turned into an art form, that it’s actually him who has been on the receiving end of hatred and threats of violence; that his own doctor telling him to stop posting to YouTube has nothing to do with him being caught redhanded in the middle of several very harmful lies, but that it is we who are the devils with whom Christian apologists must be careful not to dance; that it is we who have caused him great injury.
This, my friends, is as close an insight as you are likely to get into the mindset of a fundamentalist; for even when every single friend, foe, professional healthcare worker and law enforcement authority with whom they have contact is telling them to be careful, they will always find a way to justify taking the one path which leads right back to where they started — having learned not a thing.
This is quite simply a case study into the very dangers of anti-rationalism which we are trying to raise awareness of. I couldn’t care less what religion you do or do not believe in; nor do I give a flying spaghetti monster if your religion tells you I am evil because I call a spade a spade — sans the jargon of “religious philosophy”. What I care about is when your religion tells you it’s OK to lie about me, what I think, what I have said, and what I believe. By all means repeat verbatim every single mistaken statement I have made here, or change of mind I have had about a given argument there. But pretty please, with a cherry on top, don’t lie about me and expect that by playing the hurt feelings card when I call you out on it I will mysteriously loose track of what actually happened, what was said, who said it, and who did what to whom as a result.
It is none of my business what you do in the privacy of your own imagination. But when the voices in your head tell you it’s OK to blame other people for threatening to self-harm, it absolutely becomes my business. I don’t care who someone thinks they are, when they threaten to hurt themselves, they are demonstrating that they are capable of violence, or that they believe a violent act is an appropriate route to solving a dispute — and preventing that from ever happening to me, or the people I care about will always be my one and only interest in keeping an eye on the likes of Jason Burns — regardless of what they want to tell themselves about my supposed agenda.
In closing, please do not give Jason what he wants. If he is serious about leaving YouTube (again) please let him do so. He is not interested in listening to what you have to say, he is interested in Jason Burns. His 15 Megabytes of fame are over. So let’s put his audience numbers back to where they belong once and for all.