Of Mountain Nudity, Earthquakes and Gun Free Zones

I saw this headline Malaysia could jail tourists for summit strip stunt and thought, “WTF?!” In case you missed the story, though it was hard to miss, several western tourists decided to celebrate ascending Mount Kinabalu, located in Malaysia by stripping naked, taking photos, and posting them on social media. Six days later a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck the island where Mount Kinabalu resides wreaking havoc. Local indigenous groups who consider the mountain sacred blamed the earthquake on the naked western trekkers who disrespected the mountain with their antics. So the tourists were arrested and jailed. (Here’s a link to the full story if you want to read it for yourself Malaysian Earthquake.)

While I was taken aback by the headline at first, after reading the story I thought, “Well, I still think it’s silly that they were arrested, but based on where it happened I guess I can understand why they were.” Then I moved on to the next story, forgot about this one until this showed up on my doorstep:

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“Huh, I thought it was going to be some sort of religious literature; apparently it’s about earthquakes.”

Then I opened it.

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“What? We can’t understand natural disasters without reading Revelations?”

I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t home to educate the solicitor who dropped this pamphlet off about plate tectonics, meteorology and climatology. Then I began to wonder, “How, in 2015, in a developed country can someone not know what causes earthquakes?” (I do give this organization credit; the design of the pamphlet is clever.) Not to denigrate someone’s religious beliefs but there are any number of scientists who are able to reconcile their strong faiths with science.

So again I wondered how this belief could persist in America in 2015? Indigenous Malaysian people claiming western tourists angered their sacred mountain by posing nude on top is one thing, a person living in America claiming we can only understand natural disasters by reading an ancient text is quite another.

What’s next? Claims that criminals only target places where they know people will be unarmed?

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