Pharyngula

John Kasich is a big fat idiot

Watch the Fox News announcer get all pissy about Brian Flemming’s Blasphemy Challenge.

The funny thing is watching Kasich declare himself just “sick” about it and accusing Flemming of “preying on children” and getting upset because the people on youtube are not attacking Mohammed enough…and then ask a calm and smiling Flemming why he’s so angry. If people choose to deny gods, what right does a sanctimonious slug like Kasich have to tell them they can’t?

Comments

  1. #1 Coathangrrr
    January 29, 2007

    I like how he calls it a “dare,” as if it’s all middle school kids on the school yard.

    And the guy in the video doesn’t seem to be a teen, more like 20 something.

  2. #2 poke
    January 29, 2007

    That is hilarious. Flemming was great. I hope he gets more exposure.

  3. #3 kurage
    January 29, 2007

    “What you’re doing makes me sick.” That’s quite the interview technique. Thanks for the great TV journalism, Mr. Kasich!

  4. #4 Mena
    January 29, 2007

    (sniff, sniff)Oh those poor Christians getting persecuted(/violin music). Will those damn atheists stop at nothing?
    Actually he sounds like he is trying too hard to act. No Oscar for him but the people who want to be offended sure will eat it up. Maybe there’s something like a Golden Cross award that they can give him for “Best Actor in a Newscast” or something.

  5. #5 Kat
    January 29, 2007

    I particularly like the part when he works his way towards a frenzy and shrieks “why are you so angry?” at a perfectly calm and cleary not angry Flemming.

  6. #6 FishyFred
    January 29, 2007

    and then ask a calm and smiling Flemming why he’s so angry.

    I hate to say this, but Flemming comes off as detached in that Shirley Phelps-Roper kind of way. I know he’s being honest here, but his personality in this interview is no less than lethal to his cause. If I weren’t familiar with him already, I would think I was listening to a deranged cult leader.

    Okay, he actually gets better after the first couple of minutes. Suck it, Fox News.

  7. #7 Caledonian
    January 29, 2007

    Brainwashing children? Children? Brainwashing? By putting out an open invitation to do a thing?

    Sentences that go up at the end?

  8. #8 FishyFred
    January 29, 2007

    If I were Flemming, I wouldn’t bother coming on Fox News. Just let them run the story without him. They’ll not only give him free publicity, but they’ll make themselves look stupid without his help.

  9. #9 Herb West
    January 29, 2007

    The challenge is a stunt and it’s tasteless. Kasich would have been wiser to ignore it rather than put it on national television.

  10. #10 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    Why is it tasteless?

    Here we go with the religion deserves respect B.S.

    Flemming outlined exactly why he did it… it lets young people push back publicly at what’s being rammed down their throats everyday. These “kids” came to the conclusion all on their own… Kasich just doesn’t want to hear about it.

  11. #11 Andrew
    January 29, 2007

    I can imagine lots of teens watching Kasich with their folks and getting inspired to look into what the challenge is all about. So in that sense the angrier Kasich is the better.

    But why is it that more and more Fox News correspondents just seem like caricatures of themselves?

  12. #12 JujuQuisp
    January 29, 2007

    That’s some of the best fair and balanced journalism I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Kasich for getting to the truth of the matter in a professional and respectable manner. No one is going to push atheism on his kids and get away with it.

  13. #13 Teapot
    January 29, 2007

    I like the requisite “I notice you’re only attacking CHRISTIANITY” remark at about -2:00.

  14. #14 valhar2000
    January 29, 2007

    Well said, Juju! After all, everybody knows that atheists eat christian babies, although they secretly believe in god… or something… I don’t really undertand it myself.

  15. #15 MartinC
    January 29, 2007

    Come on valhar2000, you know as well as I that our High Priest, Richard Dawkins, says we shouldn’t eat christian babies.
    We should eat the babies of christian parents.

  16. #16 Gobear
    January 29, 2007

    Kasich is a moron indeed. He clearly wants to play the “omg, xians are being persecuted!” card, ignoring that atheism denies all deities, not just the J-man.

  17. #17 Bryson Brown
    January 29, 2007

    I’d like to see more emphasis from Fleming on the need to reassure kids who find that they don’t believe– to show them that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t crazy, that many intelligent, good people don’t believe, etc. Kids from aggressively indoctrinating families who see the parallels between religion and other childhood myths like Santa Claus and give up belief need support and understanding, not threats of hell and emotional blackmail…

  18. #18 MonasticFisticuffs
    January 29, 2007

    What makes me uncomfortable about the Blasphemy Challenge isn’t that I think religion deserves extra respect (although I prefer to avoid needlessly antagonizing the religious), but that it’s so much more about what you *don’t* believe. I would much rather hear people talk about the things they *do* believe (that don’t include a god) than listen to them rail against something.

  19. #19 "Q" the Enchanter
    January 29, 2007

    Yeah, the “you’re going to HELL!” also made for an interesting juxtaposition against the “why are you so angry?”

    Anyway, as an aside, I hope the youtube clip selected wasn’t representative. I find it really annoying and embarrassing when an atheist announces his atheism as if the position required a heroic act of ratiocination; it’s like being self-satisfied about not having a cold (strange to take pride in not having aquired a virus, no?). Please, if you’re going to “testify” in this sort of fora, do us all a favor and try not to sound smug.

  20. #20 Nick
    January 29, 2007

    MartinC, that comment seriously just made my day. Thank you.

  21. #21 Ginger Yellow
    January 29, 2007

    “Sentences that go up at the end?”

    [linguo]Sentence fragments that go up at the end?[/linguo]

  22. #22 Herb West
    January 29, 2007

    It’s tasteless to solicit teenagers to videotape themselves in blasphemy. I’d like to know if anyone here would applaud PZ if he were to post a videotape of himself ripping a page out of the bible and denying the holy spirit. Derision and laughter would be the only appropriate responses.

    The website say to videotape yourself saying the words “I deny the holy spirit.” Doing so because an internet website tells one to is contemptible. Exploiting the stupidity of teenage sheep to score a little book publicity is obscene.

  23. #23 llewelly
    January 29, 2007

    What makes me uncomfortable about the Blasphemy Challenge isn’t that I think religion deserves extra respect (although I prefer to avoid needlessly antagonizing the religious), but that it’s so much more about what you *don’t* believe.

    Doubt is the foundation of wisdom.

  24. #24 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    I think people come off as smug because they find it amusing that anyone would find it a big deal that they’re denying god. Notice how they lump in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny too. No one would freak out if people just got on and denied the existence of Unicorns. (actually I’m probably wrong there, I’m sure there’s some Unicorn fan club out there)

    Ohhh no I’m going to hell! Praaaay for meee pretty please.

  25. #25 BlueIndependent
    January 29, 2007

    Ah yes, I need a Faux News “analyst” to expose all the bad stuff coming to get me, and to protect my fragile mental state. Conservative complaints about big, ever-expaning governments indeed…

    Chalk Kasich up to the “I’m an idiot with no credentials on anything who thinks he’s a hard-hitting journalist saving people” board. Ah, heck, I’ll just write Faux News and save the trouble of spelling all those names.

  26. #26 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    Actually I remember PZ offering to pee on a certain book… but I could be wrong.

    Please. It’s just a fricking book. Oh no he tore a page out!

    And the last time I checked youtube is not a teenage site. If you actually looked at the Challengers you would find that most of them are above 30. It is new media so it does appeal to a younger audience. However, even the young the posters are FAR from sheep. If you listened to them you would see that.

  27. #27 Blake Stacey
    January 29, 2007

    So saith Herb West:

    I’d like to know if anyone here would applaud PZ if he were to post a videotape of himself ripping a page out of the bible and denying the holy spirit.

    I would, actually. It might depend on the specific page in question; none are of divine origin, but some are funnier to destroy than others. Also, I’m pretty sure PZ is smart enough to come up with much more inventive things to deny than just the Holy Ghost. He has a whole list to choose from, naturally — Amon-Ra to Zeus, plus all those orbiting teapots and Invisible Pink Unicorn.

    Derision and laughter would be the only appropriate responses.

    Laughter, yes; derision, not so much.

    The website say to videotape yourself saying the words “I deny the holy spirit.” Doing so because an internet website tells one to is contemptible. Exploiting the stupidity of teenage sheep to score a little book publicity is obscene.

    Indulging in a victimless crime — one much less hurtful than many other acts of teenage rebellion I could name — because a website advises one to do it may be foolish, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “contemptible”. Is listening to a song because it’s on the Top 40 “contemptible”? Unimaginative, perhaps.

    Participating in the Blasphemy Challenge is, or can be, an act of creativity. It is by any reasonable standard far less contemptible or obscene than calling teenagers stupid sheep.

    MartinC wrote:

    Come on valhar2000, you know as well as I that our High Priest, Richard Dawkins, says we shouldn’t eat christian babies.

    We should eat the babies of christian parents.

    Superb!

  28. #28 MJ Memphis
    January 29, 2007

    “It’s tasteless to solicit teenagers to videotape themselves in blasphemy.”

    So when did you get appointed the arbiter of good taste? Would you also get offended if it was a church soliciting teenagers to videotape themselves making devotional statements?

    “The website say to videotape yourself saying the words “I deny the holy spirit.” Doing so because an internet website tells one to is contemptible.”

    So is it “contemptible” in your eyes because of the content of what they are saying, or because they are posting it on the internet? And again, do you also find videotaped devotional statements “contemptible” and “obscene”?

  29. #29 Dan
    January 29, 2007

    But, don’t you know? Apparently, tearing a page from the Bible is like snapping one of God’s fingers as he’s duct taped to a creaky wooden chair in Quentin Tarantino’s basement.

  30. #30 Carolyn
    January 29, 2007

    Herb West: How can blasphemy mean anything if you don’t believe it is blasphemy? If you are not christian, does it mean anything to say you don’t believe in a divine Jesus? It seems like it’s an obvious conclusion. If you’re not muslim, does it surprise anyone if you don’t believe that there was a true prophet named Mohamed?

  31. #31 Nathan Parker
    January 29, 2007

    Please. It’s just a fricking book. Oh no he tore a page out!

    That’s pretty much the point. It is just a fricking book. Why *bother* to pee on it, rip a page out? Ignore it.

    I agree that the Blasphemy Challenge is tasteless, but it’s not due to any respect that religion deserves, because it deserves none. But engaging in any activity with the sole objective of offending people is a vulgar, low-class activity. I suspect it will drive more people away from atheism than towards it.

  32. #32 Bronze Dog
    January 29, 2007

    Exploiting the stupidity of teenage sheep to score a little book publicity is obscene.

    1. Everyone doing it is doing it of their own free will. I have a feeling that you wouldn’t make the sheep remark if there was some Christian movement doing the equivalent. Why libel an entire generation of one demographic, anyway?

    2. It’s sending the message that we aren’t alone, because a lot of young atheists think they are: Bigots have been telling the world that being rational is fundamentally wrong, and that children should be ashamed of atheism. This lets them stand against that lie.

    3. Where’s the exploitation? The kids get a DVD, and add to a movement to push atheism out of the shadows where the fundies would rather it remain, so that they can keep telling horror stories of baby-eating atheists.

  33. #33 Brian
    January 29, 2007

    “If people choose to deny gods, what right does a sanctimonious slug like Kasich have to tell them they can’t?”

    This right: “Congress shall make no law repsecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise theroff; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”

    That said, Kasich is a pisspoor journalist, but this is all well within his constitutional rights. I also agree with the commentary that Kasich is a lot angrier than Flemming.

    I also think that Flemming shouldn’t have just repeated the mental torture angle, and he could’ve argued his case better. He should’ve presented the argument that we want to give these kids, and the greater world, more information and questions about religion, not just we want to free them from indoctrination and mental torture. The mental torture claim is pretty nefarious and amphorous (sp?). The more questions claim is not.

    He could’ve asked his interviewer, why he’s [Kasich] is so against a counter arguement.

    Lastly, he should’ve explicity stated the reality that he [Flemming] doesn’t go to the kids; they come to him.

    Brian

  34. #34 PZ Myers
    January 29, 2007

    I have affronted taste and dignity in the past.

    Those people who say the blasphemy challenge is wrong, or taking advantage of teenagers, are incorrect. I think it is an excellent plan, because what it does is tell the whole world that a lot of people do not believe. That’s important. What it does is give people who are worried that they will be ostracized and abused if they admit to disbelief some real hope that they aren’t alone. It’s a courage builder.

    And if you think atheists aren’t ostracized and abused, especially among young people, you’re blind.

  35. #35 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    Once again people miss the point.

    Why is the purpose to offend people? I don’t think it is. They’re stating their disbelief, in a way the theists understand. They would be offended if people got on and said I don’t believe in god period.

    It’s so low class to actually admit you’re an atheist in a public forum.

  36. #36 carl
    January 29, 2007

    Two things. First, for Fox news to say that anyone is “brainwashing” is like the pot calling the kettle…

    Second, I like it even more that Flemming is having a hard time not laughing when that shmuck is getting irate.

    Classic!

  37. #37 Nathan Parker
    January 29, 2007

    They’re stating their disbelief, in a way the theists understand.

    Theists understand “I do not believe in any gods.” To say that the “blasphemy” is necessary to communicate is disingenuous, in my view.

    It’s so low class to actually admit you’re an atheist in a public forum.

    No, it isn’t. Saying “I’m an atheist” or “I’m a non-believer” is a far cry from “fuck your god.”

    In my view, this Blasphemy Challenge demonstrates the non-rational behavior we deplore in theists. It’s an action intended to make us feel good, rather than a rational attempt to further our goals. I’m embarrassed.

  38. #38 Carlie
    January 29, 2007

    It’s in some ways a silly thing, but in other ways very important. I can’t even describe the insulation a kid can get when surrounded by fundamentalist theists on all sides. I can honestly say that when I was in high school, I “didn’t know any” atheists. Sure, there were probably some of my friends who were atheists, but the point is that in small town midwest life, they didn’t feel free to ever talk about it, at least not around their holy roller friends, and I had no idea. If I had been flirting with atheism at the time, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to do, no role models, no example of how atheism could in any way be normal. People wonder how theists can believe that atheists are all baby-eating prostitute drug addicts, and for a lot of them it’s because that’s what they’ve been told and they don’t have any examples to contradict it. The whole blasphemy challenge can show any teenager with a computer that 1)atheists can be normal people and 2)there are a lot of them. I say that’s a good thing.

  39. #39 Dan
    January 29, 2007

    The interesting thing, I think, is how this challenge is not simply encouraging atheism, but it’s also putting the onus upon religion to prove itself and answer the questions teens have concerning faith rather than simply indoctrinating them through fear and superstition. After all, a person can be scared into believing anything.

    My personal favorite was Kasich whining about having to go look for attacks on Mohamed. It’s like he’s saying: “Oh gee… Now I have to go do that fact-checking, journalist thing. I wonder if it will violate my Fox News fealty oath.”

  40. #40 chuko
    January 29, 2007

    This statement is a gauntlet thrown down by Christianity: “Believe or go to eternal torture!” It’s blackmail. It’s very hard to not take religion seriously when most people around you are believers. So this *is* a positive statement – these people are saying that they’re not going to be intimidated by this farce of Christianity or the people that back it up.

  41. #41 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    The concept of Blasphemy is silly. There’s no harm in making that point too. The concept deserves ridicule and jokes.

    And what’s wrong with doing something to make young atheists feel good?

    Your concern and Kasich’s is tiresome.

  42. #42 MarkP
    January 29, 2007

    It was priceless seeing an angry Kasich playing the anger card against an obviously amused Flemming. Kasich is just another example of a believer that doesn’t get it – atheists aren’t angry at the gods, they just don’t believe in them.

  43. #43 Uber
    January 29, 2007

    Number 1 how can it possibly be brainwashing? Thats beyond stupid. Sitting in a church from the age of 1 until whenever hearing a particular mantra fits the bill not answering some dumb internet video thing.

    Number 2:

    It’s an action intended to make us feel good, rather than a rational attempt to further our goals

    Why can a group not seek to feel good? Why must everything need to further a groups goals?

    I’m not an atheist and I don’t understand some of this discussion.

  44. #44 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    Neither do I Uber. It’s like atheists are supposed to be completely rational 100% of the time like a planet of Vulcans.

    I’m not Spock damn it.

  45. #45 JujuQuisp
    January 29, 2007

    For the love of Jesus, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MUSLIMS????

  46. #46 Nick
    January 29, 2007

    As a teenager and declared atheist for only a few years now, I want to say that my first reaction to hearing about the Challenge was “good.” It wasn’t because the Challenge would piss off the theists — it was because the Challenge brought rationalists out into the light. When I was in high school, I was surrounded by religion; to be an atheist would mean ostracization and ridicule. Exposure to something like that, knowing I wasn’t alone, would have been wonderful.

  47. #47 mss
    January 29, 2007

    So let me get this straight: during one of its frequent “two-minute hate” segments, a 24-news channel devoted to reinforcing a particular ideology accuses the proprietor of a small website of “brainwashing” people.

  48. #48 Lago
    January 29, 2007

    “I’m perfectly calm dude.”

    “Yeah, wavin’ the f*ckin’ gun around!?”

    “…calmer than you are.”

  49. #49 davis
    January 29, 2007

    This whole dust up is a good sign. Athiests are bolder now, and dolts like Kasich are afraid. Very afraid.

    It’s also good just to get athiests on TV to show people they don’t have horns.

    What’s the matter with prosletizing for your belief, even if that belief is that the existence of god is highly unlikely? When the God Delusion comes out in paperback, I plan to keep several on hand to give the Mormon boys when they come around.

  50. #50 Colugo
    January 29, 2007

    It’s a free country, and if people want to blaspheme the Holy Spirit or any other aspect of the Trinity, or some other deity or prophet, they should go right ahead.

    However, do atheists want to define themselves mainly in terms of blaspheming Christianity? This is not just a public relations issue, but about how atheists see themselves.

    One of the central points made by the ‘New Atheists’ is that everyone is an atheist – about all gods except their own. Atheists, on the other hand, deny all gods. Not just the god of the dominant sect. Atheists have long struggled to explain that they are not ‘antichrists’ motivated by a vendetta against Christ, Christianity, and Christendom but have rejected theism in general on solid intellectual grounds.

    Are some of those who applaud the blasphemy challenge the very same people who denounced the Danish cartoons of Mohammad? (If your justification for that double standard is that Christians are everywhere oppressors and Muslims are everywhere oppressed, tell that to Southern Sudanese, southern Thai Buddhists, or Indonesian Catholics.)

    If you think it is wrong to offend “oppressed” Muslims by blaspheming their faith, keep in mind that Muslims are also offended by anti-Christian and anti-Jewish blasphemy. Playwright Terrence McNally received a death fatwah from a UK Islamic court for his play about a gay Jesus. Ramsey Clark apologized after he polemically referred to Jesus as a “terrorist,” offending both Christian and Muslim organizations. (Remember, in Muslim teachings, Jesus will appear with the Mahdi, kill the pigs, break the cross, slay the anti-Christ, and impose Islam everywhere.)

    One motivation for the blasphemy challenge is that many Western atheists, especially in the United States, feel oppressed and threatened by Christianity. However, even Westerners who offend other religions may face serious risks, as Salman Rushdie can attest to. Theo van Gogh was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam and a declaration of war affixed to his body. Before she died of cancer last year, journalist Orianna Fallaci was subject to Italian legal proceedings for defaming Islam. Ex-Muslim atheists like Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali risk their lives just by professing their atheism.

    (And if you elect to dismiss what I am saying by branding me “Islamophobic,” I also applaud Muslim liberals and reformers like Asra Nomani, friend of Daniel Pearl. And I think Clinton did the right thing by using the US military against Milosevic, who was the main oppressor of Muslims in the Balkans.)

    Might the ‘blasphemy challenge’ inspire atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers of the Muslim world and other theocratic lands to challenge their own dominant faiths? It would be praiseworthy if it did. More likely, the Challenge will have little implications other than as a display of Western atheist self-congratulation.

    It is hardly the case that there is a shortage of anti-Christian blasphemy in both high and low culture. To name just a few examples: the portrait of photographer Joel-Peter Witkin by his wife; Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ;’ rock groups like Deicide, Impaled Nazarene, Christian Death, and Rotting Christ; Gilbert and George’s ‘Sonofagod.’ Such displays may be ‘transgressive,’ to some, but they are hardly courageous in a Western context.

    Of course, in no way should blasphemy against any religion – Christianity, Islam, and Scientology alike – be negatively sanctioned, especially by the law. The question for Western atheists and rationalists is, is this how we want to define ourselves?

    The Onion had an astute take on the reactive nature of blasphemy.
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28377

  51. #51 Brian X
    January 29, 2007

    You guys are all missing one of the more interesting questions Kasich asked — the one about “Why are you not mentioning Mohammed?” The implicit assumption is that the people who posed the challenge have any editorial control over the content of the videos, a peculiar assumption at best.

    And as for tastelessness and inappropriateness, well, here’s the thing. A lot of these kids don’t believe, likely never have, but have never been able to express it. All the Rational Response Squad did was give them a safe venue to do so, and many happily responded. One can only hope there will be more such venues in the future.

  52. #52 junk science
    January 29, 2007

    It’s like atheists are supposed to be completely rational 100% of the time like a planet of Vulcans.

    “Rational” doesn’t even mean “not having any feelings.” It’s not irrational to enjoy eating or watching movies or irritating the stupid and angry. It has nothing to do with rationality.

  53. #53 craig
    January 29, 2007

    I love how Kasich uses the “sense of community” cop-out. Religion is not about superstition, its about getting together for picnics.

    I got the same thing from a so-called “progressive” blogger not too long ago. He posted something about how people who believe in astrology are idiots, and in a one sentence comment I dared to compare astrology to religion.

    He went off on me… railing about how “this is why I hate atheist-types.” He went on to explain that the difference between astrology and religion is that people are religious for the feeling of community.

    These people are admitting that they can’t defend their own beliefs, and they don’t even realize it.

  54. #54 Ithika
    January 29, 2007

    I think it only counts as a dare if there can possibly be any even remotely dangerous repercussions to the action… So, not a dare then.

  55. #55 Cat of Many Faces
    January 29, 2007

    My god, the people who can’t stand being a bit offensive are pathetic. Watched any comedy? The very foundation is based in laughing at the offensive.

    Also I think it’s perfectly fine to be a bit agressive and offensive at the overly religious. They fricken come over and get in my face telling me how I’m a horrable person for hours. And now you are going to tell me that it’s not right for me to tell them to shove it?

    Heh, go to hell.

  56. #56 Ira Fews
    January 29, 2007

    “The website say to videotape yourself saying the words ‘I deny the holy spirit.’ Doing so because an internet website tells one to is contemptible.”

    Right, but believing that a talking snake told a naked chick to eat a fruit so rotten it fucked up the whole earth, all because some loud guy drinking gin out of a toilet plunger between sermons says that this was reported in a 2,000-year-old book known to be divine and true, is not at all problematic.

    GETTA CLUE, HERB!

    It’s precisely because of ludicrously canted standards maintained by small, parochial minds like yours that hokey things like “The Blasphemy Challenge” are necessary. Kasich probably doesn’t believe a shred of the shit spilling from his face, but he knows that the fundies comprising 99.44% of the FOX audience will, and that the added touch about unfairly exempting Mohamed will whip their bumpkin asses into a massive frenzy.

  57. #57 Curtis Cameron
    January 29, 2007

    I thought it was amusing when after Flemming commented on how kids are told that if they don’t believe this 2000 year old fantastical story, they will go to hell, that Kasich made the comment that “that’s not what religion is about.”

    Excuse me? Not what it’s about? That’s the only thing it’s about!

  58. #58 Ira Fews
    January 29, 2007

    One more thing. Asking why atheists in the U.S. focus so heavily on Christianity is like pondering why Yankees fans hate Red Sox fans more than either group deplores Yohohama Giants fans. Think, you crazy sins o’ bitches!

  59. #59 craig
    January 29, 2007

    Excuse me? Not what it’s about? That’s the only thing it’s about!

    Nope. It’s about basketball. Atheists can’t play basketball. Even when that heathen suggested that they can, Kasich wisely came back with the response that all the people he knows that play basketball are religious. What a smart man.

  60. #60 Ric
    January 29, 2007

    Ithika, there are definitely possible repercussions. They just aren’t from any invisible beings. The possible repercussions come from being killed by good Christians.

  61. #61 lytefoot
    January 29, 2007

    “If people choose to deny gods, what right does a sanctimonious slug like Kasich have to tell them they can’t?”

    This right: “Congress shall make no law repsecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise theroff; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”

    When I first read this, it sounded like you were defending Kasich’s sense of outrage based on the fact that Christianity is protected under the first amendment. But now that I consider it, it seems you’re defending freedom of the press… he has a right to tell them they can’t, they’re simply under no obligation to obey him.

    Of course, he has the legal right to rant on about this issue… but I suspect it is his moral right that’s being called into question.

  62. #62 lytefoot
    January 29, 2007

    Think, you crazy sins o’ bitches!

    Freudian slip? I think I like it.

  63. #63 Steve LaBonne
    January 29, 2007

    Nothing to do with rights here at all, methinks, so PZ’s choice of word was a IMHO bit unfortunate. Kasich has a perfect right, legal moral or what have you, to make an ass of himself on national TV, and the rest of us have a perfect right to make fun of him, as well as of the sorry spectacle of religion in general.

  64. #64 Blake Stacey
    January 29, 2007

    Any atheist who thinks it would be more constructive to deliver a positive message — say, advocating secular humanism — instead of merely listing the invisible beings in which one does not believe is perfectly able to record a video doing so. Post it to YouTube as a video response to the Blasphemy Challenge. In the first five seconds, say “I deny the Holy Spirit” in order to get your free DVD, and then say, “Humans are responsible for our problems, and humans will have to fix them. We should learn all we can, teach others to the best of our ability, care for human beings young and old, speak honestly at every opportunity, stay aware of our own fallibility, and never take ourselves too seriously.”

    Just a suggestion.

  65. #65 Tom McCann
    January 29, 2007

    Boy, am I glad I live in a secular country (England). Over here, no-one would bother taking the Blasphemy Challenge or get upset about someone else taking it. Nobody cares about religion, except for a very few people (who the rest of us usually think of as being a bit odd).

    In the US though, it’s great that atheists are getting bolder. It’s so important that kids get to know that belief or non-belief is a CHOICE.

  66. #66 Bearguin
    January 29, 2007

    “Come on valhar2000, you know as well as I that our High Priest, Richard Dawkins, says we shouldn’t eat christian babies.
    We should eat the babies of christian parents.

    Posted by: MartinC”

    MartinC. This is just friggin priceless.

    I’m thieving it.

  67. #67 Tiax
    January 29, 2007

    Best line is where the host says that there are a lot of religious people who “give up their lives” to do great things. Now if only we weren’t in a “global war” against people who seek to give up their lives for what they believe are great things…

  68. #68 Colugo
    January 29, 2007

    Tom McCann: “Boy, am I glad I live in a secular country (England). Over here, no-one would bother taking the Blasphemy Challenge or get upset about someone else taking it. Nobody cares about religion, except for a very few people…”

    Is this the same “secular” England that has an official church?

    In which Sikhs violently intimidate the production of a play that they said was defamatory towards their religion?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4116335.stm

    In which Muslims stage threat-filled street protests in response to cartoons and the Pope citing centuries-old clerical opinions on Islam?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/09/19/wpope19.xml

    In which additional anti-blasphemy legislation (protested by celebrities like Rowan Atkinson), masquerading as anti-hate speech, has been proposed?
    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,1698385,00.html

    In which Christians launch a legal campaign against a Jerry Springer musical?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4161109.stm

    Let me amend my earlier comment; it is indeed more courageous to blaspheme Christianity – or any other religion – in England than it is in America. And perhaps soon, all of the European Union as well:

    EU foreign policy chief endorses anti-blasphemy legislation
    http://www.oic-oci.org/press/english/2006/February%202006/solana-visit.htm

  69. #69 JD Kolassa
    January 29, 2007

    :sighs: If only Faux News didn’t exist…

    In any case, I think we can all agree that this is complete garbage. Nobody on the Challenge was angry or saying “Go to Hell”. Kutwind is as about as intellectual as that guy who thought flauteunce was the proper response when the judge asked him to defend intelligent design.

  70. #70 Krystalline Apostate
    January 29, 2007

    Juju:
    No one is going to push atheism on his kids and get away with it.
    I do so enjoy the blither-blather blatting about ‘free will’, but when push comes to shove, y’all seek to pre-empt any such thing.

  71. #71 MYOB
    January 29, 2007

    No disrespect towards Flemming but we need someone who isn’t going to sit there like some pussy talking about this sort of thing. Where was the confrontation? When kasich asks Flemming why he is so angry, why didn’t Flemming turn that around and say that it was Kasich, not he, that was obviously angry and annoyed. Instead he sat there and came across as some wimp.
    Why didn’t he talk about the illogic of the bible?
    Why didn’t he talk about the christian reconstructionists plotting to turn this country into a theocracy and how they all have close ties to people like Kasich and the republicans?
    Why didn’t he talk about the absolute stupidity of the old testement, particularly genesis?
    Why didn’t discuss how close people like Kasich are to the taliban?
    Why doesn’t he talk about the absence of any openly atheist members of congress and explain that if any ever did admit it they would be mocked and accused of being worse than Osama Bin Laden, worse than pedophiles, worse than murderers and thieves?
    Why didn’t he simply challenge Kasich to prove his faith or else admit that the burden of proof is on him why he has chosen to worship some figurehead created by a bunch of illiterate desert roaming nomads thousands of years ago?

    As far as I am concerned Flemming should not have done this cause all he did was come across like a complete ignorant pussy.

    Sorry Brian but you don’t have a clue how to argue your point home.

    MYOB’
    .

  72. #72 Steve_C
    January 29, 2007

    Give him a break. It was a segment that was a total of 4.5 minutes.

    The host was going to rail and talk over him as much as he wanted.

    Kasich was the one that came off as an angry blowhard.

    Making the point that religion is indoctrination was all he really was going to get in. Kasich was intent on making him out to be a bad guy. They were never going to have a debate.

    He did fine.

  73. #73 Dan
    January 29, 2007

    I can’t fault Flemming for the somewhat uninspired tack he took against Kasich. The whole “interview” was essentially a typical Fox ambush piece for their talking heads to squawk their insignificant outrage. It really wouldn’t have mattered if it was Flemming or a bundt cake sitting there. Kasich would have still found a way to build his army of strawmen and wail.

  74. #74 ukcommunitypharmacist
    January 29, 2007

    Colugo
    yes we in the UK have an established religion in the Church of England with the Queen as supreme defender of the faith, or something like that.

    The key point though is that no one really pays them any attention. Even with Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly on their side Catholic adoption agencies are not going to be exempt from a new anti-discrimination law. All that means in practice though is that they will have to refer gay couples elsewhere.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6311097.stm

    Agree with others that Flemming was far too soft. He could have blown Kaisch out of the water.

  75. #75 Caledonian
    January 29, 2007

    I’m not Spock damn it.

    I am.

    (Yes, I know they’re fragments, but it ruins the reference to say so.)

  76. #76 craig
    January 29, 2007

    “yes we in the UK have an established religion in the Church of England with the Queen as supreme defender of the faith, or something like that.”

    I just watched a documentary on the making of the movie “The Life of Brian,” and a lot of the doc centered on the efforts of Mary Whitehouse and her ilk to prevent Britons from seeing the film. Apparently in the UK you had (have?) local censorship boards for each district that decide what can be shown in local theaters, and the Whitehouse folks instructed these censors not to allow the film in. Some of the board members admit that they complied without ever having screened the film.
    As a result, many fans had to organize road trips to go see the film in other areas.
    I don’t know how much things have chenged since then, but I certainly was disgusted in learning of this.

  77. #77 wistah
    January 29, 2007

    And people wonder why books by Harris, Dawkins, and Dennett are selling so well. The kind of barely controlled hysteria Kasich exhibited here is all the proof anyone needs to confirm that we’re in a baaaaaad place in this nation.

  78. #78 John Marley
    January 29, 2007

    No, it isn’t. Saying “I’m an atheist” or “I’m a non-believer” is a far cry from “fuck your god.”

    Very true. But after “I’m an atheist” meets with being “witnessed” at, repeat ad nauseum, “Fuck your god” is the only reasonable response.

  79. #79 cserpent
    January 29, 2007

    I don’t watch Fox and I try not to listen to it unless I’m forced to when I go to a business that has it on the television. Is this John Kasich the same asshat neocon that was a congresscritter from OH a few years back? If so, then I’m glad he’s on Fox and not still in congress.

  80. #80 Chakolate
    January 29, 2007

    The funny thing is watching Kasich declare himself just “sick” about it

    I think the funny thing is that the ‘bribe’ offered, a DVD, was only to the first 1000 people who sent in videos. And I think that most of the people who got a DVD would have been happy to do it without any reward except the freedom to tell the truth.

  81. #81 melior
    January 29, 2007

    I’ve been wanting to see Brian’s film, and I confess I was a little tempted by the offer of a chance to win a DVD of it, but it seemed a bit gimmicky. (I’m also a huge procrastinator, and never got around to it.)

    After seeing Brian in person here, I’m really impressed. The juxtaposition of calm, clear rationality with the batshit insane TV interviewer guy was just amazing.

    I’m really looking forward to paying full price now for The God Who Wasn’t There, to support more of his work.

  82. #82 C. Schuyler
    January 29, 2007

    I’ve seen THE GOD WHO WASN’T THERE, and it’s definitely worth a look. Flemming suggests that Jesus might not have existed. I wasn’t convinced, but it’s salutary to review the (minimal) evidence for him outside the New Testament.

    As for the interview, Kasich came off (for an unbeliever like me) as a sanctimonious, hysterical buffoon. Alas, that’s probably not how he struck the average Fox News viewer.

  83. #83 Shoveldawg
    January 29, 2007

    I love it that the best example of good work done by religious folk was organizing a basketball tournament.

    On the bright side, I had previously thought that my inability to dominate the hardwood was due to the fact that I’m a short, uncoordinated, white guy with astigmatism. I’m glad to find its a side afect of my nearly lifelong atheism. Maybe if i got ‘teh jesus’ it could help my game and I could work up to chaperone or ref?

  84. #84 Russell Blackford
    January 30, 2007

    Just watched this.

    I feel for Flemming being placed in a position where the host had all the control. You’re really on a hiding to nothing when you go on television to be take on a hostile interviewer. They can edit, they have all the studio’s resources to mske them look good, as well as all the knowledge of how to appear on TV; they can choose the ground of discussion and control the flow. Unless you are someone very experienced, assertive, and preferably powerful or popular, there’s no way you can win such a contest.

    But I did like the wry smile and roll of the eyes from Flemming as the wing-nut interviewer harangued him in outraged tones about “Why are you so angry?” etc. That probably did more good than anything else.

  85. #85 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    The challenge is a stunt and it’s tasteless.

    I find your stupidity “tasteless”.

  86. #86 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    [a lot of whiny kibitzing clipped]

    Sorry Brian but you don’t have a clue how to argue your point home.

    Who put on the challenge in the first place, dipshit?

  87. #87 ttias
    January 30, 2007

    The challange just seems so cultural. I don’t see what good it can do for atheism. Atheismen shouldn’t be about denying things? It’s about not having a reason for beliving positive statements about supernatural or supranatural enteties, or? Not aserting negaitve ones?

    Maybe I don’t get the cultural aspects since I live in a country that tops a lot of lists as the most secular nations.

  88. #88 valhar2000
    January 30, 2007

    I would like to know, from some of the pontificators here, how do you know what atheism should be about, or what “our” goals should be, and whether or not the Blasphemy Challenge brings them closer or farther away?

  89. #89 valhar2000
    January 30, 2007

    Before I forget, thankyou, MartinC.

    There is not telling what the High Priest Richard Dawkins would have done to me, what with him being a militant extremist atheist, in charge of a whole legion of angry atheist who, somehow, control the world…

    Damn, this atheism thing doesn’t make much sense… Gotta ask Pat to explain it to me again…

  90. #90 daenku32
    January 30, 2007

    LOL. Kasich is such a loon. I wonder how common his thinking is?

  91. #91 Jake
    January 30, 2007

    Hey, Kasich is right! Christianity is definitely not about believing in Jesus or going to hell.

    And I don’t understand why this atheist is setting up a website that “kids” have to find for themselves and then forcing them to voluntarily record and upload their videos. Why is he forcing them to do this?

    And that guy is wrong. Atheists CANNOT play basketball. Period.

  92. #92 Jake
    January 30, 2007

    By far my favorite part of the whole thing is the black boxes over their eyes.

    This is subliminal.

    They didn’t use blurred faces, they used black boxes over the eyes only. This means they no longer have a soul and are forever damned. Or that they are not victims but criminals.

  93. #93 Steven
    January 30, 2007

    Yep Kasich is for sure a douchebag.

  94. #94 Kesh
    January 30, 2007

    Theists understand “I do not believe in any gods.” To say that the “blasphemy” is necessary to communicate is disingenuous, in my view.

    I have to disagree, here. Part of the Christian movement is in converting. Simply saying, “I do not believe” still leaves one as a possible conversion in the future. The blasphemy is a bit of a shock tactic, but it shows that one has already decided conversion is not an option and (to some sects) no longer possible. And that is what seems to offend.

  95. #95 CHC
    January 31, 2007

    Kasich said
    “There are people of faith who do amazing things around… I am am really amazed about this.. . I am really worried about you…this thing make me sick… etc… but religious people do great things around the world.. they give up their lives… and yet you are attacking them and telling kids that somehow they are evil…

    I believe that Flemming missed a fabulous chance to retort that Mohammad Atta and the rest of their irk are also religious and they gave up their lives to teach the Great Satan a lesson and perform a great service for their Islam Faith.

    Idiots like Kasich COMPLETELY MISSES the POINT that Brian is driving at.

    “God” save us! Are we doomed?

  96. #96 Hugh
    February 1, 2007

    “He has a whole list to choose from, naturally — Amon-Ra to Zeus,”
    Here’s a list of 100 gods (and godesses) you needn’t worship.

  97. #97 Candice
    February 2, 2007

    Simply saying, “I do not believe” still leaves one as a possible conversion in the future. The blasphemy is a bit of a shock tactic, but it shows that one has already decided conversion is not an option and (to some sects) no longer possible.

    I read through this entire thread waiting for someone to say this. The point of the challenge is to say “I am so sure that Christianity is nonsense and that there isn’t a hell for me to go to that to commit the ‘unforgivable’ sin of blasphemy doesn’t frighten me in the least”, not just to say “nyah nyah, God’s an ass”. Although the act of blasphemy could be offensive to some Christians, the purpose behind the challenge is to show confidence (by taking the “dare”), not to cause that offense. I guess not everyone (both sides included) is understanding that.

  98. #98 Tina B.
    February 3, 2007

    This Kasich is way off base. He asks Flemming why he is so angry….Okay, did I miss something here? Sure christians and others do good in the world but so do freethinkers. He makes it sound like only religious people can care about anything…Oh,I forgot what G.H.W. Bush said, atheists are not patriotic and not considered citizens. Apparently these people that are denouncing the holy spirit don’t care if their parents see them or not. I would say they are very brave to be able to say that to the whole world. No one should be allowed to go to church till they are 18 years old if you ask me.

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