First of all I know that the title is a false dilemma, so if your here just to point that out, congratulations for being so clever. This is my first post in a while, but I've been busy moving, getting ready for my masters program and hibernating (It's cold in Canada).
Anyway, I was getting ready to break out of the new years slump when I heard about Cee Lo Green's New Years Eve performance where he changed the words to John Lennon's song Imagine. Now I'm not a huge Beatles fan, but I don't mind them by any means and I respect what a song is trying to say when it does have a clear message, which is more than I can say for Cee Lo.
I'm also an atheist, so the words that were changed drew a lot of interest. Instead of saying, "Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too." Cee Lo chose to sing, "Nothing to kill or die for and all religion's true."
I understand the personal reasons that could have lead Cee Lo Green to change the words of the song to represent himself better, and he should have the freedom to do so, but I also have the freedom to criticize the changes he made.
The problem isn't that Cee Lo made changes to the song, it's that the changes he made ruined the message/meaning of the song. John Lennon wasn't bashing religion when he sang of there being an absence of religion. He was creating a situation where all the things that define and keep people separate from each other were magically taken away, so that people could be free to get along. That being the case I don't see why even a religious person would have a problem with the hypothetical situation, just as no religious person should have a problem with John Rawl's Vail of Ignorance.
It's a hypothetical situation created to show something, and if you don't like what you see because, you see that the world would be better off without religion than you don't have a problem with the hypothetical, you have a problem with religion. However, if you see the world as worse off without religion in the scenario 'Imagine' creates then there is no need to be offended by it, or to change the words.
That said, lets look at what Cee Lo Green created when he changed the words. Instead of there being no religion in the hypothetical situation, all religions are true. Well, that's nice to say, but how would it really work?
1. There could be one world where the rules change all the time, and then what ever your religion says comes true. It would be an arbitrary world where everyone's religion's were true, but where it would be impossible to really communicate with others because of basic incompatibilities. For instance, 2+2 would be 4 for some people and maybe other people would have a religion where 2+2 = 5 and in Cee Lo's world both of them would be correct. Yet, this complete incompatibility would leave people unable to communicate basic truths to each other and even if they could communicate them, they would be meaningless to the other person who has their own truth.
2. Another way for it to work would be for every person to have their own little world where what their personal religion says is true. This is a world where you can be happy about having the capital 't' truth that just doesn't exist now, but it is also a world disconnected from everyone else.
Either way, these are situations that seem less desirable than the world in which we currently reside, but that's alright because Cee Lo tweeted a clarification for us, "Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world were u could believe what u wanted thatâ€™s all.â€ť
I have a news flash for Cee Lo, we live in a world where you can believe whatever you want! You don't have to create a hypothetical situation so see what that world looks like. There is no thought police, and the only limitations are in John Lennon's terms, what you can 'Imagine'.
So while he meant no disrespect, he did manage to take a classic song, ruin the message it had and create a new message that doesn't make any sense. If this were a game of clue we would find Mr. Green in the study humming while he urinated on John Lennon's rug that just so happened to tie the room together.
I've clearly put more thought into this than Cee Lo did, because I think anyone who knows the message of the song and then went through the implications of Cee Lo's words would come to the same conclusions I have.
Thanks for reading,
-the moral skeptic
P.S. To those who were waiting to find out what a false dilemma was, it's when you're given a choice between a limited number of things and the answer isn't necessarily contained within the list of choices. Cee Lo Green is both stupid and religious, a choice excluded in the title.
read more: Cee Lo Green - Stupid or Just Religious?