Sherry Marquez Bait: a Man from Catholic Brazil Decapitates His Mother

This today from a Latin American news service:

Police in the northeastern state of Bahia are looking for a 22-year-old man accused of decapitating his mother and fleeing with her head, the news Web site G1 said Tuesday.

I await Sherry Marquez’s breathless alarm about the true nature of Catholics living in Brazil. If you’ll recall, here’s how her local newspaper—the January 27, 2010 edition of the Antelope Valley Press—reported on her response to the news of a Muslim man who had decapitated his wife:

LANCASTER—Councilwoman Sherry Marquez is under fire from a Los Angeles Islamic organization and from the Antelope Valley Muslims for comments she posted on her personal Internet page concerning a Muslim man charged with beheading his wife in New York.

“This is what the Muslim religion is all about—the beheading, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the U.S.A,” Marquez wrote on her Facebook page.

“We are told this is a small majority (sic) of Muslims in America but it is truly what they are all about,” she said.

I wonder if Sherry Marquez will extend the same prejudicial generalization to Brazilian Catholics based on this particular incident: “. . . it is truly what they are all about!” I also await her opining on the true nature of Buddhists based on this Reuters story:

A 17-year-old Japanese boy suspected of killing and beheading his mother went to an Internet cafe with her head in a bag and watched a music DVD before turning himself in, media reports said on Wednesday.

Isn’t it fairer to say that grotesque incidents of male violence towards women say nothing essential  about religion qua religion—be it Catholicism, Islam, or Buddhism—but, rather, something about the deranged behavior to which some males, regardless of religious affiliation, are so frighteningly prone?

This isn’t to suggest that religion is not a source for violence. Obviously, it has been, and is. Nor am I suggesting that Islam doesn’t have serious issues surrounding misogyny. I think it does—and far more so than, say, most versions of contemporary Christianity. It is, rather, to claim that when an individual commits a heinous crime it is hard to untangle the degree to which large social forces (like, say, religion or violence in pop culture) contributed to the incident. Contra Sherry Marquez, we should be wary of the hasty generalization and the confusion of correlation with causation (post hoc ergo propter hoc ).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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