Pharyngula

A pox on them all

I really regret ever recommending Kay Hagan. That race has taken a turn from a vivid example of anti-atheist bigotry on Dole’s side, to one where all sides are taking turns bashing the godless to wash off the taint of association with us subhumans with no faith. Greg Laden has a couple of examples of the way the media is sliming us.

Kay Hagan herself has a counter-ad that closes with an admonition against “making false witness against fellow Christians”. Well, gosh, that’s mighty white of her. Wouldn’t it have been enough to leave off those last three words? Or was that the really important clause?

And then there’s this awful chatter between Wolf Blitzer, Donna Brazile, and Bill Bennett…I guess there were no atheists in the neighborhood to sit on the panel.

Blitzers starts by asking if Hagan made “a mistake going to that fundraiser at the home of a woman who professes that there is no god?”

Donna Brazile answers that it’s OK to do that because “that’s how you convert ‘em”, while claiming that there is strong evidence for god. Wrong, Donna. The way you could convert us is by actually presenting that evidence.

Then he asks Sinful Bill (why is he still appearing on these shows, anyway?), “Is it a problem to associate with atheists?”

Bennett has to wonder, “god knows why people have fundraisers with people like this”…and then says that yes, it is a problem, because it’s just like the association game (with terrorists!) that has tagged Barack Obama. Right. Accusing people of associating with atheists is just like accusing them of hanging out with terrorists, because, after all, Ellen Johnson is quite capable of ripping a man’s throat out with her teeth.

Come on, Blitzer — is this how you analyze the news now, by putting a couple of god-walloping morons on the stage and asking them to echo their prejudices?

Comments

  1. #1 qedpro
    October 31, 2008

    how about a write in campaign to get these fucktards fired.

  2. #2 Paper Hand
    October 31, 2008

    Ugh. “Hey! I hate those atheists just as much as you do!”

    This is as bad as McCain’s “Obama’s not an Arab. He’s a good man”

    Next thing you know, people will be throwing around “atheist-lover” as a favorite insult.

  3. #3 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    //Come on, Blitzer — is this how you analyze the news now, by putting a couple of god-walloping morons on the stage and asking them to echo their prejudices?//

    Yes,that what he does,so does Larry King,who loves the Bachmann thing on his panels.

    And yes PZ,your country has a serious problem with this atheist phobia,it seems ridiculous to anyone outside the US,but in your country,this shit actually is for real,and I have no real solution for it,this is decades of religious bigotry and sexual repression we’re talking about here,its going to take a culture revolution of historic proportions to get rid of all the sludge in peoples minds over there.

  4. #4 MB
    October 31, 2008

    So the next step to prevent atheists from marrying. A constitutional amendment to prohibit atheists from espousing the “atheist lifestyle?” They can’t have kids of their own, so they have to recruit – no wait, that doesn’t work here…

    No, maybe you’re right, the terrorist analogy works better. The atheists are a threat to civilization and crackers.

  5. #5 debaser71
    October 31, 2008

    I hope people were watching the news today. Ick. On Hardball Matthews had one woman on who was trying to say that Kay Hagan has to represent everyone. Matthews kept sort of dismissing her point or not really acknoledging it. Anyway I’ve heard no one actually say that godless americans are still americans not some sort of commie baby eater. Jeez.

  6. #6 Toni16AK
    October 31, 2008

    Why is it so hard for people to take out the word atheist and insert any other minority in its place to see how ridiculous this is? I’m so sick of people telling me I’m not a patriot, a citizen, or moral. It all disappoints me.

  7. #7 Autumn
    October 31, 2008

    Things like this make me wish that there was some way my ballot could contain an “I am an atheist” mark.
    Not a required one, mind you, but a little nudge to those who are elected that a portion of the electorate happens to be without religious feelings.
    I bet the marketing douche-bags would fall all over themselves trying to find ways to win the atheist vote.

    I guess that the above would only apply if our ballots were secret, and I swear that a few days ago The Gainesville Sun published a letter to the editor by a citizen wondering why we couldn’t see who cast what vote, like in the old days (?) so the anti-Americans could be exposed.

    I also had a customer of mine ask about the start of the last game of the World Series by saying “It can’t start before Obama is finished explaining why he is not a [S]ocialist, which he is…”

    I asked him to define “socialist”, and his first criteria was “a socialist believes that the government should be involved in public education”!!!!

    I then shat myself.

  8. #8 Paper Hand
    October 31, 2008

    wondering why we couldn’t see who cast what vote, like in the old days (?)

    Votes did, indeed, used to be publically available until the 19th century. One of the major reasons for the adoption of the secret ballot was to reduce the influence of the wealthy; you can’t exactly buy votes if you can’t be sure that the person you’re giving the money to is actually voting how you want! Nor can you threaten someone not to vote a certain way if you can’t see how they voted.

  9. #9 ChrisGose
    October 31, 2008

    I guess CNN didn’t learn their lesson the last time they let an ignorant black lady spew her hate for atheists WITHOUT having an atheist present to defend themselves.

  10. #10 DjtHeutii
    October 31, 2008

    It just sickens me that in this nation not believing in fairy stories about an invisible man in the sky makes you a social pariah, unelectable to public office.

  11. #11 Voltaire
    October 31, 2008

    A sad, sorry reminder that we have a long, long way to go.

  12. #12 JHS
    October 31, 2008

    Ugh. This whole debacle just isn’t doing much for my already thin shred of hope for humanity.

    All I can say is, Elizabeth Dole is the aggressor here. Kay Hagan *did* in fact willingly embrace some non-believing supporters. The fact of the matter is that, for better for worse, Hagan is a Christian, a former Sunday school teacher, etc., and Dole exploited what might be a sliver of acceptance towards atheists by Hagan. Dole’s ad was demonstrably false, and Hagan’s ad corrected it in terms that a great deal of the admittedly hoopleheaded electorate in NC would get. Even as an atheist, I can’t hold that against her.

    Do I wish she’d run an ad that said, “So what if I did meet with atheists? So what if I AM an atheist? It shouldn’t matter because here in American, yada yad blah blah.” Of course. But I’m also gay, so should I turn up my nose up at Obama because he doesn’t commit political suicide and make national gay marriage a part of his platform? No. Because frankly I’m sure that Obama is plenty gay-friendly, would gladly sign whatever gay-friendly bills that came across his desk, and I’d also wager that he is perfectly amenable to atheists and agnostics, being as educated as he is. But I’m not such a single-issue voter that I’ll wait for someone who agrees with me on every last issue before I’ll vote for them. Otherwise I’d vote for Nader or McKinney, and thereby lay out the welcome wagon for McCain and, likely enough, the 45th president, witch-doctorin’, End Times-waitin’ Bible Spice, Sarah Palin.

    Hagan would be better for NC (and the US) than Dole. Obama would be FAR better for the US than McCain.

  13. #13 Nick Fury
    October 31, 2008

    I know this is exactly the wrong sort of way to respond, but this sort of thing makes me want to find somebody really devout and kick him square in the crotch. You want to see how nasty us evil, amoral atheist types can be? You got it!

    Not to blow things out of proportion, but the past few years have really improved my ability to understand (at least a little) what it must have been like to be in a hated minority. Granted atheism isn’t quite as obvious as skin color, but it doesn’t seem to damper the venom they spew at us when they see us.

  14. #14 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    Oh, just let ME in there to write the commercials for the christian politicians. Gawd help them.
    Adultery, fornication, gambling, homosexuality, whoredom, usury, lying, stealing, coveting, killing, jealousy… need I go on? Their sins are before them.
    I’ll cast some stones. Damn straight I will, because I can take the hits for my own sins, they can’t.

  15. #15 David Wiener
    October 31, 2008

    Lesser of two evils. Face it – we’re a reviled minority. At present we must choose the lesser of two evils. After that, again the lesser, etc. etc. Hopefully we will see the line for the lesser of the evils move closer to a place that we can truly live with.

    The biggest problem is that free thinkers are not herd animals, and that makes it much, much harder when competing with the herd animals. However, I think that the Internet is changing that – it lets all us anti-social thinker types communicate… and its a hell of a lot more fun than church.

  16. #16 spgreenlaw
    October 31, 2008

    We are anathema. Not a pleasant feeling, to be sure. Well, it’s time my drunken ass passes out I suppose. Adios.

  17. #17 CSBSH
    October 31, 2008

    Good comment, JHS!

    BTW, why didn’t they invite Christopher Hitchens? I think he’s exactly the right person to represent atheism in TV panel discussions.

  18. #18 Susan
    October 31, 2008

    If the election is so close, you’d think Hagen would at least consider subtly pandering a bit to the closet atheists. We’re, what, about 15% now? Not a block to shake a stick at, if you need every vote (and dollar).

  19. #19 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    Patricia @ 14,

    Adultery, fornication, gambling, homosexuality, whoredom

    Yay,sounds like a party !!! Oh hang on,not the homosexuality bit,but I guess I could try….And what in dogs name is usury???

  20. #20 David Harper
    October 31, 2008

    Clinteas @ 19:

    Usury is lending money at interest.

  21. #21 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    //Usury is lending money at interest.//

    Thats a sin in the bible??

    But,but…….*headdesk*

  22. #22 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Pathetic, isn’t it? If it wasn’t so vital that the Dems win this time around it’d be worth fielding candidates who are ‘out and proud’ atheists and letting the chumps see just how many voters choose to live life sans fairytales.

    Eventually it’s going to mean the difference between winning and losing, and then things’ll change.

  23. #23 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    Well,there is some good news after all !

    Australia are 161 for 1 in India,and…wait for it…
    There is a torrent of people watching Bill Maher’s “Religulous” in Australia as we speak…..Including me…:-)

  24. #24 jONSEY
    October 31, 2008

    Watching the news coverage of this has made me long for the day that atheists get their own “Not that there is anything wrong with that” follow up line.

    For a while people had to add “Not that there is anything wrong with that” to a sentence that referenced homosexuality in order to reassure that they weren’t saying it derogatorily. We seem to have moved past that.

    Atheists haven’t even gotten close to the “Not that there is anything wrong with that” stage. Reporters who seemingly think they are defending Hagan and the common good are deriding atheists without even realizing it.

    I long for a major news outlet to host a real atheist to point this out for them. Of course I am an NC resident and a realist so I do hope that they will wait at least until Nov. 5 to do so.

  25. #25 Sachin
    October 31, 2008

    these should be fired ASAP

  26. #26 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Sorry I was not around much today. I was working overtime doing my part to corrupt the god given goodness of this nation.

  27. #27 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Usury is lending money at interest.

    Weirdly enough the main reason I know this is thanks to Dr Who – there’s a Fourth Doctor episode called The Sun Makers where squidlike aliens (the irony!) from a planet called Usurius control humans living on Pluto by controlling the market, lending them money and charging them outrageous amounts of interest.

    There’s also a Simpsons episode (Lisa’s Pony) where Homer wants to borrow money from Mr Burns, who warns him about the state’s ‘stringent anti-usury laws’; Homer doesn’t know what the word means and Mr Burns says he must have just made up a word that doesn’t exist and so lends him the money – and, no doubt, a crippling rate of interest.

    See? Tv can be a good thing!

  28. #28 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    Good on you Janine,have one on me…:-)

  29. #29 Ian
    October 31, 2008

    Kay Hagan is in the same place that Obama is with the “Muslim” issue – with 23% of Texans still believing he is Muslim, he can only say “I’m not Muslim”, he can’t say “not that there’s anything wrong with it”. The press are not similarly constrained. Email Blitzer’s show, email Hardball, tell them how offensive that sort of tone is. Call it out for the civil rights issue that it is.

    CNN and MSNBC aren’t ideologically driven – they are driven by profit. If they get a few hundred messages saying that they are deeply offending their viewers, at the very least they will listen. And drop Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow a note as well – they both appear to be solidly secular.

  30. #30 Wolfhound
    October 31, 2008

    Feedback form to let Wolf Blitzer know how you feel about the morons he had on his panel: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html?65

  31. #31 Wolfhound
    October 31, 2008

    FWIW, and it ain’t much, I sent the following negative feedback response. I held back much contempt in the hope that they might read it on the air. Don’t want to give them any more ammo. >:(

    “I, and the rest of the 15% of the American population that is comprised of those who identify themselves as non-religious, would like to request that the next time you have theistic bigots on your show such as Donna Brazile and Bill Bennett you at least attempt to balance out the panel. Ms. Brazile presumes much to state so boldly ‘that’s how you convert ‘em’, meaning non-believers, and that there’s strong evidence for God. Do tell, Ms.,Brazile! Mr. Bennett chiming in with ‘God knows why people have fundraisers with people like this’ is offensive to the extreme. Last time I checked, ‘people like [me]‘ were still tax-paying, law-abiding, patriotic American Citizens. We just do not or no longer believe in the supernatural. I refuse to believe that you couldn’t find even one free-thinker to offer a counterpoint to Ms. Brazile and Mr. Bennett. Like, perhaps, one of the officers of the Godless PAC that Kay Hagan spoke with. If I want to watch this kind of Right-Wing, discriminatory nonsense, I will tune in to Fox News. I expected far better of CNN, in general, and The Situation Room, in particular.”

  32. #32 Tim H
    October 31, 2008

    I was going to give Hagan some money when this came up last week, but I couldn’t find a comment section on the online form to let her know why. I also couldn’t find an address to mail a check to. (I was going to print and fill out the online page to comply with campaign finance disclosure laws.) Since I couldn’t send the message, I didn’t send the money.
    Hagan was at that party not because the host was godless, but because the host was liberal and would give her money. That’s politics. She has to emphasize she is a christian, and not add the “There is nothing wrong with being an atheist” line because that’s North Carolina politics.
    Hagan might have an excuse, but the media doesn’t. Ian and jONSEY are right. No one in poitics is going to respect atheists until we make them. We’re where African-Americans were 60 years ago and where gays were 20 years ago. Brazile should be the main target for this episode- given her purported political philosophy, she’s a hypocrite for not defending atheists already. Anybody know where to e-mail her?

  33. #33 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Well, it’s time my drunken ass passes out I suppose.

    Disgraceful! Getting domestic animals drunk is most reprehensible. If you were in Britain I’d call the RSPCA to rescue that unfortunate donkey from your clutches! Such a waste of alcohol too!

  34. #34 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    BTW, why didn’t they invite Christopher Hitchens? I think he’s exactly the right person to represent atheism in TV panel discussions. CSBSH

    What, an alcoholic warmonger?

  35. #35 Blackrend
    October 31, 2008

    Someone really ought to try and get an appearance on CNN to set these people straight. =( *coughPZcough*

    Our image is bad enough without it being tarnished on a main news network. If they had been talking ill about any other minority group, things would have been different. You’d be seeing apologies all around the table.

    Sigh. I love America.

  36. #36 MH
    October 31, 2008

    If you played this clip to a UK audience, I suspect that most would regard the participants as insane cultists.

    Also, in a way, I hope that Hagan now looses the election, and subsequent voter surveys reveal that it was because the atheist voters kept away. We need politicians to know that we are a sector of society which needs to be appealed to, and treated sensitively. Politicians wouldn’t dream of not appealing to the Jewish sector, even though it’s probably no bigger than the atheist one (and of course, there is a lot of over-lap).

    Of course, I neither live in NC or the US, so I don’t have anything to loose by advocating such a scenario. I hope for the sake of the citizens of NC that the least insane candidate wins.

  37. #37 David Harper
    October 31, 2008

    Clinteas @ 21:

    The Bible forbids lending money at interest to people of your own tribe (Deuteronomy, 23:19) but allows you to charge interest to strangers (Deuteronomy, 23:20).

    In fact, these two verses of Deuteronomy were the cause of much anti-semitism in medieval Europe, because the Church taught that Christians weren’t allowed to lend money to other Christians at interest, but it was okay for Christians to take loans from Jewish financiers. Numerous European kings found themselves deeply in debt to Jewish money-lenders, having borrowed huge sums for wars and crusades, and they incited anti-Jewish pogroms as a means of avoiding paying back the money.

    So much for religion as a source of moral authority.

  38. #38 Matt Heath
    October 31, 2008

    OK, I was kind of defending Hagan yesterday, but bollocks to this lot.

    Incidentally, letting people think that Hitchins speaks for godlessness: maybe not that clever. It doesn’t matter if he’s talking foreign policy or gods or his personal dislike of the Clintons; he just bellows at people.

    It’s a shame Dan Dennett doesn’t do more TV appearances. He’s brilliantly intelligent and he doesn’t back down but he’s also enormously unscary and non-smug seeming.

  39. #39 clinteas
    October 31, 2008

    So much for religion as a source of moral authority.

    Thats like the Lord of the Rings being a source of moral authority,or the Odyssey…

  40. #40 Sigmund
    October 31, 2008

    Sam Harris would be the one I’d like to see take on this nonsense.
    From a european perspective I’d like to ask you Americans a question about this anti-atheist bigotry that is seemingly the norm in the US. IF it really is the case that most Americans think atheism is immoral and dangerous then why on earth aren’t there moves to rescue children from atheist families? It’s entirely logical, given the arguments made about its supposedly pernicious effects and the doomsday scenarios drawn whenever the notion of widespread atheism is discussed, that the only ethical thing to do is to remove chidren from atheist couples and bring them up as God fearing.

  41. #41 Tomecat
    October 31, 2008

    Slightly OT, but one of the few fun things to come out of Buffalo–the Beast is usually spot on in terms of politics & religion:
    http://www.buffalobeast.com/132/shulte_stupidpeople.htm

  42. #42 T_U_T
    October 31, 2008

    Actually, lord of the rings would probably be far better source of moral authority than the bible

  43. #43 Tomecat
    October 31, 2008

    Disclaimer to above–meant to be funny, not to offend…

  44. #44 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    Oh nooooooooo, PZ, atheists like you don’t believe in censorship!

    Who ya kiddin, sport?

    Legion, you are an idiot. What the hell does this have to do with censorship?

  45. #45 John Morales
    October 31, 2008

    Relax, Tomecat. On the scale of offensiveness seen here, your comment is in the first decile…

  46. #46 Tomecat
    October 31, 2008

    Just covering my bases John, last time I posted I had Eric A all over my ass…:)

  47. #47 CSN
    October 31, 2008

    Sent the following message to Hagan and her Facebook group as well (where everyone was jumping on the “omg they called you an atheist, the horror!!1!!” bandwagon):

    “I’m sorry to hear that we atheists are so distasteful to you (when we’re not holding fundraisers) so I hope you won’t miss my vote either. Dole’s ad was certainly despicable but perhaps you are confused as to why it is so? If you had been accused of interacting with, say, the NAACP would you have called this “slanderous”? For your continued support in the black community I would hope not! It is the insinuation that the group’s name is inherently a dirty word that is offensive and wrong, not simply being associated with them. In response to my alternate case I hope your campaigners would have responded with something along the lines of: “Kay Hagan is proud to represent North Carolinians of all racial backgrounds and resents the divisive implications of Senator Dole’s attack ad.” A similar response would have been appropriate in this case. Perhaps the non-believing voters, and those sympathetic to religious freedom, were considered to be expendable. We’ll see.”

    As a NC voter she has officially lost my vote (not that it will be going to Dole!), hopefully my un-vote for Dole will be enough to unseat her. Fortunately I can still vote for Obama in good conscience. He may pander to the religious sensibilities of the American majority but he’s made it clear that no choice for or against a faith makes you more of less of an American.

    I’m in graduate school in the UK and wow, what a great little island of sanity they have over here. I have every intent to stay after graduation!

  48. #48 Claudia
    October 31, 2008

    Kay Hagan’s position hasn’t offended me, I must say. I would deem it equally slanderous if someone tried to purport my religiousness, when I have none. So, I don’t have a problem with her feeling slighted by being labeled an atheist.

    Now, for Wolf Blitzer and co….

  49. #49 debaser71
    October 31, 2008

    Can someone past the email addresses to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. I guess I’m a doofus because I can’t find it…my laptop overheats too and that MSNBC page is heavy.

    Also ROn Reagan Jr. might be someone to email too. He’s an atheist and not afraid to say so. I think he’s been hosting Rachel Maddow’s radio show for a few days…I am unsure though.

    Email’s work. Just look at CNN when Paula Zahn did that segment on atheism with that woman Karen Hunter. We emailed CNN and they listened. They got Richard Dawkins to appear the following in a follow up segment.

    I’ve already sent a messsage to one of the contacts on kayhagan’s page…not email to het but more of a PR person, so I dunno if that even is the right person.

    So let’s have some emails linked!!

  50. #50 Zeno
    October 31, 2008

    We’re actually on the sidelines watching a family feud. Kay Hagan is a Sunday school teacher and elder in her church. As for Dole, I don’t know, but she’s doing the Republican holier-than-thou schtick because God is white, male, Protestant, and a registered member of the GOP. Hagan’s response about bearing false witness is on the mark. Her use of the clause “against fellow Christians” heightens Dole’s sin by making it a treacherous attack on a family member as well as being a lie. Sure, it would have been a more inclusive statement had Hagan left it off, but she’s going for Dole’s jugular in an attempt to blow back a potentially devastating attack in god-ridden North Carolina. Painting Dole as a bad family member is an effective response.

    Yes, I’m making excuses for Hagan. But she has more potential for treating nonbelievers as human beings than does Dole, who eagerly seized on the beliefs (or nonbeliefs) of a few of Hagan’s contributors as a hammer with which to bludgeon her opponent. Dole is the bad guy, as well as a liar and smear operator; Hagan is the good guy.

  51. #51 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Now, for Wolf Blitzer and co…

    Hold the phone. I’m new to following the US media, but are you serious? There’s actually someone in the world who’s name is Wolf Blitzer? That sounds like what you’d name a Nazi superhero from a Hitler Youth recruiting comic. Good grief.

    Time to visit Wikipedia and check this guy out.

  52. #52 Coturnix
    October 31, 2008

    At least there is a letter in Raleigh News&Observer today that says it. But I agree with Zeno – just like it took Colin Powell to say what needed to be said about Obama and Muslims, so Hagan needs someone else (and as authoritative) to say the same about atheists.

  53. #53 pmont
    October 31, 2008

    Here’s what I sent to Wolf Blitzer:

    In regard to the Kay Hagen spot you aired the other day, you should have offered a point of view that differed from Donna Brazile’s and Bill Bennett’s dull-witted, anti-atheist opinions. I expected better from The Situation Room. An atheist is simply someone who does not accept supernatural explanations of reality. Brazile’s and Bennett’s takes on the matter reinforced incorrect, uninformed, and frankly bigoted stereotypes about people who don’t believe in a god or gods.

    Please, in the future, try to offer more balanced presentations on such important topics. Thanks.

  54. #54 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Hmm, guess I couldn’t have been more wrong about Wolf Blitzer – well, the origins of his name anyway. Still, that’s a scary handle. I can’t imagine how he coped as a kid; I’d have had the shit kicked out of me every day if my name had been ‘Wolf’.

  55. #55 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    Thanks for pointing to that Bora.

  56. #56 David Harper
    October 31, 2008

    CSN @ 48:

    You’re in the UK and you haven’t voted yet? I fear you may have left it too late to register your protest against Hagan. My American wife (also a grad student in England) mailed her overseas voter ballot paper back to the U.S. three weeks ago.

    But I’m flattered that you regard my country as an island of sanity, and you’re very welcome to stay :-)

  57. #57 Celtic_Evolution
    October 31, 2008

    Two high-ranking political representatives, an entire major news network, and most of the media reporting on the story… every single putrid one of them entirely missing the freaking point…

    If this isn’t the clearest example of how religious thinking dissolves intelligence and reason on contact, I don’t know what is.

    I’m so angry I may not be able to eat a single baby today. Feh.

  58. #58 Emmet Caulfield
    October 31, 2008

    I’m so angry I may not be able to eat a single baby today.

    Drink kitten smoothies and do a little light puppy-kicking until your strength returns.

  59. #59 Coturnix
    October 31, 2008

    Also, Kay Hagan has a blog if anyone wants to post comments.

  60. #60 gil mann
    October 31, 2008

    “that’s how you convert ‘em”

    Uh, Donna? We are kicking you guys’ asses in terms of conversion rates.

    Poor dear. She’s just lashing out because she failed to doom the Dems’ chances this year with her smug inanity. Buck up, kiddo! 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!

  61. #61 SEF
    October 31, 2008

    in this nation not believing in fairy stories about an invisible man in the sky makes you a social pariah, unelectable to public office.

    The Pete Stark test of that assertion has yet to take place. He had been planning to run again for another term in office, ie since being outed as an atheist, and I haven’t seen any retraction of that plan (or, indeed, his atheist stance!). As being a representative in the US congress isn’t a post for life, there’s going to have to be an election at some point which will test his uncloseted electability.

  62. #62 Cuttlefish, OM
    October 31, 2008

    I proudly am an atheist;
    I do not share your views.
    Imagine how insulting,
    When I watch the evening news
    And I see you point at folks like me
    Indignantly, with rage,
    As if we were the lepers
    Of a less enlightened age!
    No need to watch your language
    Or to treat us with respect–
    Because demonizing us is still
    Politically correct.
    You’d never talk like this regarding
    Blacks, or Gays, or Jews,
    But with atheists, just look at all
    The language that you use!
    “Obama is a terrorist”–of course
    The claim’s obscene;
    But “Hagan is an atheist”?
    The worst you’ve ever seen?!?
    Comparing her to me is now
    The lowest of the low?
    It’s good I don’t believe in Hell–
    I’d tell you where to go.

    I proudly am an atheist
    I proudly am a Jew
    I proudly am a Christian,
    And I’m proudly Muslim, too.
    I’m proud to be both Gay and Straight
    I’m proudly Black and White
    I’m proudly Man and Woman
    And I’ll proudly join the fight.
    I proudly am Humanity,
    Whatever that is worth;
    There is no group below me,
    Or above me, on this Earth.

    full rant at:
    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/10/i-proudly-am-atheist.html

  63. #63 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Nice one Cuttlefish!

  64. #64 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    Tomecat

    Just covering my bases John, last time I posted I had Eric A all over my ass…:)

    That just means you were doing something right.

  65. #65 gil mann
    October 31, 2008

    And of course donna Brazille’s a guest on the Brian Lehrer Show mere moments after I read this. Pardon me while I go get my ball-peen radio tuner.

  66. #66 llewelly
    October 31, 2008

    … I have no real solution for it,this is decades of religious bigotry and sexual repression we’re talking about here …

    I do. A campaign to gift hundreds of millions of religious Americans with sex toys. Start with a rabbit for Mr. Wolf Blitzer …

  67. #67 AJ
    October 31, 2008

    To settle this, I propose a beard-off between Wolf and PZ.

  68. #68 Icelander
    October 31, 2008

    #51 Yes, I’m making excuses for Hagan. But she has more potential for treating nonbelievers as human beings than does Dole, who eagerly seized on the beliefs (or nonbeliefs) of a few of Hagan’s contributors as a hammer with which to bludgeon her opponent.

    Two kids are on the schoolyard fighting. One kid goes “You’re friends with that doodyhead over there!” Then the other one says “Yeah, that person’s a doodyhead but I’m not friends with them. You’re a stupid-face for calling me a doodyhead for being friends with a doodyhead I’m not even friends with!”

    If you’re the one being called a doodyhead, you’ve got a right to be mad at both of them.

  69. #69 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    Just covering my bases John, last time I posted I had Eric A all over my ass…:)

    Two words: toilet paper.

  70. #70 Ann
    October 31, 2008

    You know, I think Hagan owes a whole lot to atheists being one of the main contributors mobilizing to support her. Its a damn shame what she’s doing really.

  71. #71 llewelly
    October 31, 2008

    SEF, #62:

    The Pete Stark test of that assertion has yet to take place. He had been planning to run again for another term in office, ie since being outed as an atheist, and I haven’t seen any retraction of that plan (or, indeed, his atheist stance!). As being a representative in the US congress isn’t a post for life, there’s going to have to be an election at some point which will test his uncloseted electability.

    http://www.petestark.com/

    Like all representatives in the US congress, he must either quit or run for re-election every even year. So he’s running for re-election right now.

  72. #72 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    To settle this, I propose a beard-off between Wolf and PZ.

    Ah yes. Truly the way to solve this.!

    Wolfie could use a good stern bearding for that.

  73. #73 Bernard Bumner
    October 31, 2008

    I continue to be confused and amused by the idea that conservative America views both atheist and liberal as negative labels…

  74. #74 The Petey
    October 31, 2008

    Why is it so hard for people to take out the word atheist and insert any other minority in its place to see how ridiculous this is? I’m so sick of people telling me I’m not a patriot, a citizen, or moral. It all disappoints me.

    The same mental exercise has been tried with homosexuality for years. It’s easier for people to discriminate against people perceived to CHOOSE to be what they are.

    “Oh, he can’t help it because he’s [insert ethnic group/race here], so we can’t hold it against him. But GODDAMMIT them queers and god haters done CHOOSE to be their immoral selves – fuck ‘em”

    Yes, gays CHOOSE to be gay.
    And while there may be an argument that atheists do choose not to believe in god, I think the choice (like admitting you are gay) is a choice not to LIE to one’s self anymore.

  75. #75 Pablo
    October 31, 2008

    Can someone past the email addresses to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. I guess I’m a doofus because I can’t find it…my laptop overheats too and that MSNBC page is heavy.

    Also ROn Reagan Jr. might be someone to email too. He’s an atheist and not afraid to say so. I think he’s been hosting Rachel Maddow’s radio show for a few days…I am unsure though.

    Maddow’s email at msnbc is rachel@msnbc.com

    I don’t know the rest

    Ron Reagan was just on last night for Maddow. That’s the first time I’ve heard him sub for her (I am a pretty regular listener, but miss some here and there). He is really, really good.

    Last night he was talking about prop 8 in California, and had a prop 8 supporter. He really let her say her piece, but I will admit, it almost made me mad. I was like, how can you let her get away with this crap? Her argument was “Kids do best with a mother and a father.” Then she turned around and said they weren’t against gay adoption. Reagan never asked her if then she thought that kids were better off with single parents, or, better yet, unmarried gay parents? Because that was what she was saying, gays can adopt but not get married, because if they got married it would be bad for the kids. Therefore, kids must be better off with unmarried gay parents?

    He followed up that guest with an episcopalian paster, and she said her piece, but they never really addressed the loopiness of the previous guest.

  76. #76 Ignorant Atheist
    October 31, 2008

    There is no god.

    The end.

  77. #77 Susan
    October 31, 2008

    If you played this clip to a UK audience, I suspect that most would regard the participants as insane cultists.

    This gives me hope.

  78. #78 Darren
    October 31, 2008

    Dole and Hagan are both despicable atheist-bashers. The choice for those of us in NC is obvious: vote for the Libertarian, Chris Cole. Like most Libertarians, he argues for the withering away of the state, which would mean the withering away of the ability of the majority to use the force of government to oppress the minority and promote religion. Besides, you want a political party chocked full of atheists, Libertarian is the way to go!

  79. #79 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Darren@79,
    What’s the point of avoiding voting for the irrational devotees of one imaginary path to salvation, if you’re just going to go and vote for an irrational devotee of another?

  80. #80 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    “Oh, he can’t help it because he’s [insert ethnic group/race here], so we can’t hold it against him. But GODDAMMIT them queers and god haters done CHOOSE to be their immoral selves – fuck ‘em”

    Yes, gays CHOOSE to be gay.
    And while there may be an argument that atheists do choose not to believe in god, I think the choice (like admitting you are gay) is a choice not to LIE to one’s self anymore.

    This bugs the shit out of me.

    Just for the sake of argument, assume that gays do choose to be gay. So what? Why does that fact that it’s a choice license bigotry?

    Racism is wrong because it is unjustified hatred of an entire group of people based on nothing but their skin color. Homophopbia is wrong because it is unjustified hatred of an entire group of people based on nothing but their sexual preferences. Bigotry against atheists is wrong because it is unjustified hatred of an entire group of people based on nothing but their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

    In every case, the hatred is unjustified because the bigots are attributing characteristics to the group that aren’t true. That’s what makes it wrong. Whether or not it’s a choice makes no difference at all.

    I chose to be a programmer. Does that make it right to assume I’m a fat, disheveled, twinkie-eating, Jolt-guzzling, spastic, unathletic slob with no social skills?

    All arguing that it’s not a choice does is say “they can’t help that they’re inferior”. Fuck that.

  81. #81 Dave Wisker
    October 31, 2008

    Drink kitten smoothies

    WAR KITTENS??!!

  82. #82 The Petey
    October 31, 2008

    @tsg #81

    Just to make sure my point is understood – the Yes, gays CHOOSE to be gay. was meant as sarcasm, not as a statement of truth. I’m gay and I didn’t “choose” it. I DID choose not to lie to myself anymore and accept it.

    Trust me, it bugs the shit out of me, too. I have had people point blank tell me things like “well you chose to be gay, what do you expect?” It’s infuriating.

    I also didn’t choose for there to be no god, I chose to accept that there is no god.

  83. #83 Tim H
    October 31, 2008

    Cuttlefish-

    That one not only got saved, but also printed and posted on the refrigerator. Thanks.

  84. #84 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    Just to make sure my point is understood – the Yes, gays CHOOSE to be gay. was meant as sarcasm, not as a statement of truth.

    Yes, I understood that.

    Trust me, it bugs the shit out of me, too. I have had people point blank tell me things like “well you chose to be gay, what do you expect?” It’s infuriating.

    My comment wasn’t aimed at you. I was expanding on your point and using your post as a launching point for my rant.

    I apologize for the confusion.

  85. #85 Icelander
    October 31, 2008

    And while there may be an argument that atheists do choose not to believe in god, I think the choice (like admitting you are gay) is a choice not to LIE to one’s self anymore.

    I have never believed in god. One of the most shocking moments of my life was when I realized the adults in church really believed that crap and weren’t indulging the kids. This may be rare among atheists, but I’m not alone. James Randi has had similar experiences.

    I think that I never had a choice to believe or not. I don’t think I can believe. It just seems so… strange to me.

  86. #86 The Petey
    October 31, 2008

    tsg: gotcha. just making sure.

    What it boils down to is people will continue to find reasons to justify their bigotry until the people AROUND them stop accepting the justifications. Of course, then their bigotry just goes into the closet. Of course having a healthy dose of shame over one’s bigotry is a good start.

  87. #87 Ric
    October 31, 2008

    Cuttlefish, you are going to have to put out a book of verse. That last one was stellar.

    As for the Dole/Hagan thing, I can’t say how angry this makes me. Just once I’d like someone to demean atheists in that way to my face. I’d give them a reason to hate atheists.

    Damn, I’m angry.

  88. #88 Emmet Caulfield
    October 31, 2008

    WAR KITTENS??!!

    The cuter the better tastier.

  89. #89 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    I have never believed in god. One of the most shocking moments of my life was when I realized the adults in church really believed that crap and weren’t indulging the kids. This may be rare among atheists, but I’m not alone. James Randi has had similar experiences.

    The same for me. It was in Boy Scouts1 when I had the WTF moment: “you mean people really believe this?”

    I think that I never had a choice to believe or not. I don’t think I can believe. It just seems so… strange to me.

    James Randi explains this best: if there were evidence for god I would believe. I would have no choice but to believe.

    [1] But not for long after.

  90. #90 Ignorant Atheist
    October 31, 2008

    I e-mailed CNN asking them when atheist became the new nigger. Are we that low on the social scale? Do we need to fear lynching parties? (BTW, I use that term intentionally, it is rude, crude and socially unacceptable, just like atheist seems to be)

  91. #91 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    Once again, jumping into an argument without having time to read the whole thread. Ah, “fools rush in…,” eh?

    Why is it so hard for people to take out the word atheist and insert any other minority in its place to see how ridiculous this is?

    Well, let’s start with the fact that atheism is not equivalent to most of the things we traditionally use to define “minorities.” Atheism is (as are all flavors of theism, and other sorts of worldviews) a system of ideas/beliefs… a matter of intellectual choice, rather than a fundamental in-born aspect of one’s person such as skin color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It may be stupid to despise someone for the ideas they’ve adopted (and may seem especially so to those who think those ideas are objectively true), but that’s a qualitatively different thing from hating another human being because of an accident of his/her birth. Freedom of religion is legally protected under the 1st Amendment, and many antidiscrimination laws include “creed” (and therefore presumably lack of same) under their protection… but that doesn’t mean hating someone because of the ideas they’ve chosen to associate themselves with is morally (or even logically) equivalent to hating someone for some fundamental, unchosen aspect of their human self.

    All of us know people whose ideas or beliefs are hateful to us, and we sometimes criticize those folks in fairly harsh terms; that doesn’t make us bigots.

    Next, even if we stipulated that anti-atheism bias were equivalent to bias based on (for example) race or gender, we have to recognize that society matures and develops at different rates with regard to these issues. We did not, for instance get enlightened about prejudice against women and prejudice against gays at the same moment. Indeed, we didn’t get enlightened about either one at any particular moment at all: It’s all part of a historical process, and it moves at different rates for different issues. I believe the day will come when atheists are protected by law and custom the way other minorities are now… and some later day will come when no such protection is needed. But neither of those days is upon us yet (and North Carolina and the rest of the Bible Belt is arguably behind much of the rest of the country on this score).

    Finally, let’s stipulate that it’s fair to call Hagan a bigot on the issue of atheism. If she nevertheless supports positions, and represents a party, that is broadly more favorable to the concerns of atheists, should we not hold our noses and support her? “None of the above” is not an option, and no one Senate seat is worth overthrowing the whole system, so when two candidates are equally reprehensible on one issue, is not choosing the one who’s best on everything else a rational act?

    My state doesn’t have a Senate race this cycle, and I’ve been focusing my attention on the Franken/Coleman race in MN, so at some level I don’t have a dog in this fight… but the (admittedly seductive) temptation among liberals to withdraw support from Democrats (and thereby effectively support conservative Republicans) because they’re not liberal enough on every single issue is a larger pattern that I find intensely frustrating. I’m not advocating appeasement; I’m advocating taking the small steps in the right direction that are practically available rather than passing them up in favor of utopian dreams.

    Now, where did I leave that flameproof suit… [g]

  92. #92 The Petey
    October 31, 2008

    @icelander #86

    I’m not sure if i ever actually believed. I thought I was supposed to. I wanted to. The idea that there was a magician in the sky more powerful than Gandalf that would make my dream come true was kinda cool. But I also used to pretend I was a space explorer and my cat was my co-pilot; kids have very good imaginations.

    So, I’m not sure if I ever truly believed or if it was one of my fantasies being reinforced by external sources.

  93. #93 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    I think it’s an interesting question whether most Christians do really believe the crap they say they do. Someone’s assertion, even their sincere assertion, that they believe X is not irrefutable evidence that they do: you also have to take into account the rest of their behaviour. Christianity claims that after this life there will be an infinite afterlife filled with either bliss or agony, depending on whether you have unrepented “sins” at death. Since no-one can be sure they will not die in the next few seconds, “True Christians” would surely be terrified to “sin”, just in case. Clearly, most of them are not.

  94. #94 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Hmm, I guess Calvinists are an exception: since who gets the bliss and who gets the agony was decided before the creation of the world, sin away! If you’re among the saved, Big G will make sure you repent in time. Weird.

  95. #95 Ignorant Atheist
    October 31, 2008

    cuttlefish,

    I am humbled before your brilliance. You say what I think, but I am not that eloquent.

  96. #96 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    What it boils down to is people will continue to find reasons to justify their bigotry until the people AROUND them stop accepting the justifications.

    That’s what sets me off about it. Arguing whether or not it’s a choice is just playing into their irrationality that, somehow, they can justify the hatred because they chose to be “that way” without ever supporting the assertion that being “that way” is bad to begin with. Because what that really means is, for groups it’s not acceptable to be bigoted towards, “I really do hate those people but it’s not their fault they are ‘that way’”. It’s still bigotry, they just aren’t being honest about it.

    Of course, then their bigotry just goes into the closet. Of course having a healthy dose of shame over one’s bigotry is a good start.

    Unfortunately, they get the idea that you just shouldn’t say such things and completely miss the idea that you shouldn’t be thinking them. But, yeah, if they’re going to be ignorant anyway, I’d rather they not spread it around.

  97. #97 CSN
    October 31, 2008

    @David Harper #57:

    I requested my absentee ballot soon after I got here but have yet to receive it. I was holding out for that but fortunately I can fax in my write-in ballot, which I am doing this afternoon. They just have to receive it by the 3rd. This is only my second time voting and I hope to have some good results this time!

  98. #98 Susan
    October 31, 2008

    I think it’s an interesting question whether most Christians do really believe the crap they say they do.

    Randy Newman said once,”If I could believe in an afterlife I’d probably be a happier person. And I’d drive faster.”

  99. #99 Celtic_Evolution
    October 31, 2008

    I think it’s an interesting question whether most Christians do really believe the crap they say they do.

    I generally leave people in my circle of friends and acquaintances alone with their beliefs, unless I am asked specifically about them or it is part of a discussion we are all engaged in… I don’t like to push my lack of belief on other people. It’s always been my belief that the people I choose to associate with are fairly intelligent, and that in time, they will figure out the same thing I did… and if they don’t, they’re not likely to be convinced otherwise anyhow.

    But most of my friends know that I am an atheist, and they will often ask questions about it… usually looking at me like I’m some poor, confused, lost soul with whom something has gone terribly wrong. But since they engage in the dialog, I happily ask them three questions:

    Why do you believe in god?

    Why did you START believing in god?

    Was your belief in god ever really your choice?

    I rarely take the discussion beyond that point. I simply ask them to think about it, honestly, on their own and discuss it with me after a few days of introspection on the questions.

    So far, two of those friends are “former believers” as a result of that initial dialog.

    It’s a start.

  100. #100 The Petey
    October 31, 2008

    If people really believe in an afterlife
    shouldn’t funerals be happier events than weddings?

  101. #101 Russell Stewart
    October 31, 2008

    I haven’t seen the Hagan ad described here, so forgive me if I’ve missed something, but if all she did was accuse Dole of “making false witness against fellow Christians”, then I see no reason to be offended by that. It’s an absolutely true statement (Dole blatantly lied, and Hagan is a Christian), and, as an atheist, I’m not at all insulted by it. I see no insinuation on Hagan’s part that being an atheist is bad — she’s just pissed off (rightly so) that Dole is lying.

    As for the other stuff, well, I completely agree. But it’s not like I’ve learned to expect anything better from the media.

  102. #102 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    Darren (@79):

    Dole and Hagan are both despicable atheist-bashers. The choice for those of us in NC is obvious: vote for the Libertarian, Chris Cole. Like most Libertarians…

    …he has no chance of winning, and no chance of effecting change if he does (since he’d have no fellow Libertarians in the Senate to caucus with). Even if we stipulate that your first sentence is correct, casting a vote whose best result is a wasted vote (the worst, albeit vanishingly unlikely, result would be a wasted Senate seat) makes no sense.

    tsg (@81):

    Why does that fact that it’s a choice license bigotry?

    Nothing licenses bigotry, of course… but people are responsible for their choices in a way they couldn’t possibly be responsible for their skin color or the configuration of their genitalia. Your ideas and beliefs are subject to criticism in a way that your essential person is not. Such criticism may be, in particular cases, stupid or wrongheaded or even hateful, but I’m not convinced it’s morally or logically equivalent to “bigotry.”

    Let’s flip this thing around: Imagine that a sitting senator produced a harsh ad accusing her challenger of consorting with creationists, and perhaps even being a creationist herself. Now imagine that the challenger replies “no, no! I hate creationism as much as you do! If you don’t stop saying that, I’ll sue!” At this point, popular creationist bloggers start calling the challenger a “bigot” for not standing up for creationism and insisting on its legitimacy. How would we react? Would we agree that this was a despicable case of anti-creationist bigotry?

    By now, you might be screaming at the monitor that the (obvious) difference is that atheism is true while creationism is false… but my point is that both are ideas that people have chosen to hold, and that’s categorically different from aspects personhood that people are born with.

    The freedom to hold false ideas implies the freedom to criticize true ones. Criticizing a true idea may be tragically stupid, but it’s not of a kind with bigotry.

  103. #103 ndt
    October 31, 2008

    Wowbagger: Wolf Blitzer’s real first name is Kelly.

  104. #104 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    If people really believe in an afterlife
    shouldn’t funerals be happier events than weddings?

    Sorta’ depends on what they believe about sex in the afterlife, no? ;^)

  105. #105 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    Nothing licenses bigotry, of course… but people are responsible for their choices in a way they couldn’t possibly be responsible for their skin color or the configuration of their genitalia. Your ideas and beliefs are subject to criticism in a way that your essential person is not. Such criticism may be, in particular cases, stupid or wrongheaded or even hateful, but I’m not convinced it’s morally or logically equivalent to “bigotry.”

    Of course the choices people make are open for criticism, but that isn’t the point. When your reasons for hating the choices people make are wrong, it’s bigotry. Hating atheists for being immoral is no different from hating blacks for being criminals because being an atheist does not make one immoral any more than being black makes one a criminal. If hating atheists for being atheist isn’t bigotry, then neither is hating Jews for being Jewish.

    I really don’t want to get into a semantic argument about what “bigotry” really means. The point is, if the hatred is based on simply being different, it’s wrong.

    Let’s flip this thing around: Imagine that a sitting senator produced a harsh ad accusing her challenger of consorting with creationists, and perhaps even being a creationist herself. Now imagine that the challenger replies “no, no! I hate creationism as much as you do! If you don’t stop saying that, I’ll sue!” At this point, popular creationist bloggers start calling the challenger a “bigot” for not standing up for creationism and insisting on its legitimacy. How would we react? Would we agree that this was a despicable case of anti-creationist bigotry?

    You can make the same argument about calling someone a Nazi or a pedophile. Whether or not the intolerance is justified is what determines whether or not it’s bigotry.

    The freedom to hold false ideas implies the freedom to criticize true ones. Criticizing a true idea may be tragically stupid, but it’s not of a kind with bigotry.

    That’s fair. But it’s also not what I’m talking about. Simply having a choice doesn’t make intolerance to the one made okay. “He chose to be that way” is not an excuse for intolerance if you can’t show why being “that way” is bad.

  106. #106 Denis Loubet
    October 31, 2008

    Damn, tsg, your post about the scouts rings a bell. There I was at a jamboree, on Sunday, the only kid standing up straight in a sea of bent heads, going WTF?!

    It was really uncomfortable.

    And knowing what I know about what’s in the bible, even if evidence forced me to believe in the Christian god I still wouldn’t worship it. Instead I would have to devote myself to finding a way to destroy it. The Christian god, as presented in the bible, would be the single greatest threat to mankind ever if it existed.

  107. #107 Michael B
    October 31, 2008

    The bottom line for me is that Hagen basically accepts the premise that athiest=bad and/or immoral. The same holds true for much of the media and the public as a whole, which explains the complete lack of even a Colin Powell like refutation in the media.

    Apparently the predominant secular/agnostic/athiestic views of the vast majority of scientists as a whole are utterly irrelevant. It reminds me of something James Watson wrote in a recent book, something to the effect of the government doesn’t care what you think as a scientist, only what you know.

    The sad truth is once again this points out the colossal failure of our educational system – especially science, the unlikely but potential of a VP who is both an outspoken creationist and global warming denier.

    The public doesn’t seem to recognise, that our economy in part depends on strong support of science, and I’m sorry to say – most scientists are skeptics. To the degree we demagogue “athiesm” correlates in part to how we value free and independent thinking.

    The one good thing that could come out of this is the notion that we are not an invisible minority to be taken for granted any more. The only thing – herding skeptics, humanists, brights, etc. etc. is like hearding cats.

    The choice in this race is between fundamentalist demagogery and moderate PC demagogery – an unfortunate choice which reminds me of some of the comments in Sam Harris End of Faith. This thing has left a bad taste in my mouth to the extent that part of me doesn’t care who wins in NC, though another part of me still prefers Hagen, not for her particular views but because she is only a moderate anti-athiest.

  108. #108 Strange Doctrines
    October 31, 2008

    Hold your fire there, PZ! CNN’s analysis is an atrocity, no question. But how exactly has Hagan harmed us? Dole put out an ad accusing her of being a non-Christian. Hagan returned fire by (1) correcting the record about her own Christianity and (2) pointing out that Dole is lying. (That she could use a Christian formula to tweak Dole is all the sweeter, in my book. I would have done it too.)

    While “I’m not Godless — not that there’s anything wrong with that” might have been a nicer message for us to hear, it doesn’t quite have the feel of an effective political rebuttal. At worst, then, Hagan failed to spend precious political capital in this case to assuage our egos. Since she’s done no extra harm at the margin, I think we can forgive her that. Let’s conserve our ammo for those who actually trespass against us.

  109. #109 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    If people really believe in an afterlife
    shouldn’t funerals be happier events than weddings?

    I don’t think it’s any real secret that funerals are very selfish affairs. It’s about the mourners, not the deceased. Even the idea of heaven is a way of alleviating the anguish of losing a loved one: they are in a better place and we will see them again.

  110. #110 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    While “I’m not Godless — not that there’s anything wrong with that” might have been a nicer message for us to hear, it doesn’t quite have the feel of an effective political rebuttal. At worst, then, Hagan failed to spend precious political capital in this case to assuage our egos

    I understand that argument, I don;t 100% agree, but I understand it, however

    Since she’s done no extra harm at the margin, I think we can forgive her that. Let’s conserve our ammo for those who actually trespass against us.

    She has done harm and I intend to be as critical or more so of people whom I would normally support when they make mistakes. Not doing so breeds complacency and lackluster leadership.

  111. #111 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    Damn, tsg, your post about the scouts rings a bell. There I was at a jamboree, on Sunday, the only kid standing up straight in a sea of bent heads, going WTF?!

    It was really uncomfortable.

    I’ll bet we aren’t the only ones.

    I use to go to Phish concerts. The band would have these signals that the audience would respond to, usually designed to single out those who weren’t “in the know”. One of them told the audience to fall down, leaving the uninitiated standing up. Another told the audience to turn around and scream, making it look to the uninitiated that the entire auditorium was turning around to yell at them. Rocky Horror is another good example, filled with tricks to expose the “virgins”.

    These reminded me quite a bit of the very few times I was in a church. It’s like it’s a giant game of Simon Says using code words designed to expose the uninitiated. Be the last one standing up, sitting down or kneeling and it identifies you as a non-follower.

  112. #112 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    oh god damn it. Blockquote fail.

    While “I’m not Godless — not that there’s anything wrong with that” might have been a nicer message for us to hear, it doesn’t quite have the feel of an effective political rebuttal. At worst, then, Hagan failed to spend precious political capital in this case to assuage our egos

    I understand that argument, I don;t 100% agree, but I understand it, however

    Since she’s done no extra harm at the margin, I think we can forgive her that. Let’s conserve our ammo for those who actually trespass against us.

    She has done harm and I intend to be as critical or more so of people whom I would normally support when they make mistakes. Not doing so breeds complacency and lackluster leadership.

  113. #113 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    I use to go to Phish concerts. The band would have these signals that the audience would respond to, usually designed to single out those who weren’t “in the know”. One of them told the audience to fall down, leaving the uninitiated standing up. Another told the audience to turn around and scream, making it look to the uninitiated that the entire auditorium was turning around to yell at them.

    AH AH!!1 YOU DIRTY STINKIN’ HIPPIE!!!111

    Oh wait. I used to go to those too. I actually enjoyed all those signals but never saw it as singling out the neophytes. The simpsons one especially.

    I got bored though.

  114. #114 tsg
    October 31, 2008

    Oh wait. I used to go to those too. I actually enjoyed all those signals but never saw it as singling out the neophytes. The simpsons one especially.

    There were only a couple that were. The term “being left standing” became common as a euphemism for being a Phish virgin. Most of them were just goofs.

    I got bored though.

    I got old.

  115. #115 jayh
    October 31, 2008

    #15 At present we must choose the lesser of two evils. After that, again the lesser, etc. etc

    No this is a recipe for perpetual marginalization. As long as one party (often the Dems) can ‘count’ on us to hold our nose and support them, they won’t give a damn about our position or concerns. It’s only when they realize that in treating us like dirt they are risking the election, will they start to pay attention.

    Don’t sell your vote so cheaply.

  116. #116 abeja
    October 31, 2008

    That was Cuttlefish’s best EVER.

  117. #117 Brandon
    October 31, 2008

    “IF it really is the case that most Americans think atheism is immoral and dangerous then why on earth aren’t there moves to rescue children from atheist families? It’s entirely logical, given the arguments made about its supposedly pernicious effects and the doomsday scenarios drawn whenever the notion of widespread atheism is discussed, that the only ethical thing to do is to remove chidren from atheist couples and bring them up as God fearing.”

    I just had a brilliant idea: I’m going to start a group with the stated goal of disqualifying atheist parents and having their kids put into foster homes. Should be interesting to see how much of this insane bigotry exists.

  118. #118 Monk-in-Training
    October 31, 2008

    fear not, it is not ALL gloomy. Athiests in Tulsa meet at a coffee shop in conjunction with an Evangelical Christian Church, and are treated with all respect due to equals.

    And proof for all good skeptics, google

    Agora Coffee House and Tulsa Atheists.

    While I am most definately a Theist, and a Christian in paticular, this demonizing of Atheists must stop.

  119. #119 Kagehi
    October 31, 2008

    Besides, you want a political party chocked full of atheists, Libertarian is the way to go!

    Now, there is a depressing thought. In my experience libertarians are as out of touch with how the real world works as right wingers, just in a even more incomprehensible way. Its depressing to think that large numbers of people who don’t believe in gods **do** believe that markets can function without oversight and controls, instead of doing “precisely” what the loan and housing industry did recently, and imploding after being deregulated enough that they could do nearly anything they pleased.

  120. #120 Brandon
    October 31, 2008

    But I think you have to realize something about the motives theists impart to atheism. Most theists’ morality is simplified to the point of “don’t steal or kill, and don’t have evil kinky sex with lots of partners”. When that’s the limit of your religion, you’re going to assume the ONLY reason why someone would choose to be an athiest must be that way because they want to steal or kill, and/or have lots of kinky sex.

  121. #121 Monk-in-Training
    October 31, 2008

    fear not, it is not ALL gloomy. Athiests in Tulsa meet at a coffee shop in conjunction with an Evangelical Christian Church, and are treated with all respect due to equals.

    And proof for all good skeptics, google

    Agora Coffee House and Tulsa Atheists.

    While I am most definately a Theist, and a Christian in paticular, this demonizing of Atheists must stop.

  122. #122 Ferrous Patella
    October 31, 2008

    I just posted this over at DftCW and though it was appropriate here too:

    As and atheist, I have a good deal of understand for Hagan’s adamant declaration of her Christianity in the face Dole’s ads. From what I read, Hagan’s faith is a big part of her self image and to be painted as something completely different must be particularly galling. If someone were to publicly portray me as a fundamentalist Christian, I would do all that I could to correct that misconception. Not because I think Christians are bad but because I want people to have an accurate view of what my values are.

  123. #123 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 31, 2008

    I got old.

    That too. Although I still find myself at panic shows more than my liver would like.

  124. #124 Emmet Caulfield
    October 31, 2008

    Even the idea of heaven is a way of alleviating the anguish of losing a loved one: they are in a better place and we will see them again.

    But surely, if the religious really believed that, they would have no need of tears. Their wailing, at minimum, belies their doubt in the Happy Ever After story, and perhaps even a deeper knowledge that death is, after all, the end of life.

  125. #125 SC
    October 31, 2008

    Besides, you want a political party chocked full of atheists, Libertarian is the way to go!

    Or Bolshevik! Ay, it can be so hard to choose among political religions…

  126. #126 Darren
    October 31, 2008

    “In my experience libertarians are as out of touch with how the real world works as right wingers, just in a even more incomprehensible way. Its depressing to think that large numbers of people who don’t believe in gods **do** believe that markets can function without oversight and controls,…”

    Markets work just fine to the extent they’ve ever been allowed to work. Having faith in government is what is disturbing and also odd for those who reject faith in other omnipotent authorities.

    “…instead of doing “precisely” what the loan and housing industry did recently, and imploding after being deregulated enough that they could do nearly anything they pleased.”

    Strange that people keep saying that. In fact, the financial industry is so heavily intertwined with the government that calling it “deregulated” or “a free market” is patently absurd. Think about it: the government has a monopoly on the printing of money; the Fed artificially manipulates credit and money supply; government entities (Fannie/Freddie) backed risky mortgages; the government encouraged lending to sub-prime borrowers who would never have gotten those loans in a free market; the government has subsidized home buying since WWII, leading to a dangerously distorted market. There is virtually nothing free about the housing and financial sectors. Libertarians have been pointing this out for a long time and warning about an economic crash. We have also been pointing out that it’s incompatible with basic human ethics and morality to initiate force against someone, which is what government does every time it acts. Now, how exactly are we out of touch?

  127. #127 Zaphod
    October 31, 2008

    This sucks, and it’s perfectly fine to be outraged at the way atheists are being reviled by both sides. Realistically, though, this is the right tactical move for Hagan. The godophiles will not vote for anyone with even a hint of atheism.

  128. #128 BruceJ
    October 31, 2008

    Dole and Hagan are both despicable atheist-bashers. The choice for those of us in NC is obvious: vote for the Libertarian, Chris Cole. Like most Libertarians, he argues for the withering away of the state… Besides, you want a political party chocked full of atheists, Libertarian is the way to go!

    So, my choices are god-botherers and someone who wants to destroy democracy… when you ‘wither away the state’ I lose my vote.

    SOMETHING fills the vaccuum; most likely a corporate police state given your party’s free market stance.

    In your Libertarian world, only wealth equates to power, since the vote is gone. You leave a stark choice of submission or rebellion….and the haves can always afford more guns than the have-nots.

    I’ll take the god-botherers.

    The glaring flaw in Libertarian thought can be seen in the crumbling economy all around us. The ‘free market’ REWARDS those who cheat, lie and steal.

    Alan Greenspan’s ‘Captain Renault’ moment in Congress last week: “I’m shocked, SHOCKED that bank directors would choose to enrich themselves at the cost of their shareholders and their companies” is as pure an exposure of the glaring flaws and hypocrisy at the heart of the Chicago School/Libertarian free market philosophy as Stalin was to Marxism.

    The fundamental philosophical tenet of the Libertarian party is and has always been “Fuck off Jack! I got mine!”-style Randian sociopathy combined with as twisted a Social Darwinism as ever any god-botherer has ever accused us of.

    I’m an athiest, I’m a liberal and I’m proud!

  129. #129 BruceJ
    October 31, 2008

    I’m an athiest, I’m a liberal and I’m proud!

    headdesk…headdesk…headdesk

    All that and I mis-spell ATHEIST!!

  130. #130 Kagehi
    October 31, 2008

    Darren, I never said I “trusted” governments. No sane person trusts those any farther than they can control them either. And I have yet to see one of you “markets solve everything” people *once* show that regulation isn’t needed. At best, you seem to operate on the assumption that it will “fix itself eventually”, and in that respect, you may be right, but so did things like monarchies, violently, rapidly, and with the repression, death and hardship of many, leading up to the revolt, at which point “more” people died to “fix” it. Markets are the same way. I have no doubt that the markets will attempt to “fix” the current mess, though more out of fear of the government doing worse, than any interest in the people they screwed. I am also sure it will a) it won’t be good enough to prevent it happening again, b) it will be as self serving as they can make it, while “looking” like they tried to do something and c) people will continue to get screwed because of it. In other words, the “market” will replace one king with his cousin, until, and unless, things get so bad that a revolt happens, at which point, people will starve, lose entire life savings, and the collapse will make the “prior” 1920s collapse look “calm” by comparison. If the only thing that “regulates” the market are self interested assholes, who only see their own pockets when making choices, its no different than medieval Europe under monarchies.

  131. #131 WayBeyondSoccerMom
    October 31, 2008

    I’m sorry, PZ, that you are through with Kay Hagan.

    I was just reading a tribute to Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, and one section stood out as relevant to what needs to be done about atheist acceptance in the US.

    millwx writes:

    Markos has a keen eye for combining pragmatism with idealism. That is, he has made his opinions clear on various subject matters. He is unquestionably and unabashedly progressive. Yet, when the demographic situation demands, he will take the “best” option. For example, though most of us here at Daily Kos have a great fondness for the likes of Senators Webb and Tester, we’d be fooling ourselves if we tried to classify them as ultra-progressive. But, look, the likes of Cynthia McKinney and Dennis Kucinich aren’t going to get elected in Virginia or Montana. Markos got under some Kucinich fans’ skin when he made this point on the front page a couple of days ago. But this is, as I read it, precisely his point… We are in it to win it and we will back the “best” candidate. That is not always the most liberal. This is an extraordinarily pragmatic, intelligent approach that has and will continue to win us more and more seats. And if getting seats means putting up ultraconservative Dems in ultraconservative districts/states, well, then, that may be the best we can do. And it will at least give us an extra vote in the caucus to control Congress. Brilliant strategy!!

    Hagan is better than Dole. Maybe in six years, there will be a more progressive person to replace Hagan.

    I recommend reading Moulitsas’s two books: “Taking On The System” and “Crashing The Gate”. Both can be found on amazon.com.

    Or, on a simpler note, re-read “Horton Hears A Who”. We have to keep repeating to the media and the politicians, “we are here, we are here, we are here” until they finally hear us!

  132. #132 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    tsg:

    When your reasons for hating the choices people make are wrong, it’s bigotry.

    No! If your reasons for hating the choices people make are wrong, that’s error. Error != bigotry.

    Hating atheists for being immoral is no different from hating blacks for being criminals…

    Both of those assertions are error because they are factually insupportable. The latter error has its roots in bigotry (i.e., it’s fundamentally based on hating blacks for being black); the former error is not about the inherent identity of atheists, but about a misapprehension of what atheism implies. The two statements seem similar on the surface, but are not so in their deeper implications.

    …because being an atheist does not make one immoral any more than being black makes one a criminal.

    Ahh, but there’s the rub: From the point of view of someone who sincerely believes in a god who is the source of all morality, being an atheist absolutely does make one immoral, because (in their scheme of thought) it’s impossible to be anything but immoral without a god belief. So what we have here is a conflict of worldviews, not an a priori hatred of people.

    You and I know the theists’ position on this issue is wrong (although keep in mind that they “know” with just as much certainty that we are wrong), but that doesn’t make them bigots.

    If hating atheists for being atheist isn’t bigotry, then neither is hating Jews for being Jewish.

    Hate is an ugly emotion and a loaded word, but criticizing Jews (even harshly enough that it might be taken for “hating” them) for believing in Judaism wouldn’t be bigotry; it would be a theological dispute. As an atheist, you may not “hate” Jews, but surely you reject their god belief. Does that make you a bigot?

    Sadly, most people who truly hate Jews do so on the basis of race (whatever that means) rather than theology: It’s no accident we call it “anti-Semitism,” rather than “anti-Judaism.”

    I really don’t want to get into a semantic argument about what “bigotry” really means.

    I hate it (well, actually it just peeves me) when people use “semantic” to dismiss an argument as unimportant. IMHO, if you’re going to argue about something, knowing what it means is of nontrivial importance.

    The point is, if the hatred is based on simply being different, it’s wrong.

    And I say there’s a fundamental distinction to be made between being existentially different and being different because of choices you’ve made. The latter is, IMHO, a legitimate subject for dispute, even though sometimes the disputes that ensue are stupid and smallminded and unfair.

    Once again, are you prepared to be called a bigot because you hate (or are at least peeved by) creationism? Sauce/goose/gander, you know.

    PS: In thinking about this, keep in mind that, even though they’re often (and carelessly) used interchangeably, there are subtle but important semantic differences between the words “bias,” “prejudice,” and “bigotry.” Most of us have biases and prejudices; few of us (I hope) are bigots.

  133. #133 Walton
    October 31, 2008

    Darren at #127: I completely agree. It’s nice to see another articulate defender of libertarian thought on this blog. (Sadly, we’re outnumbered here by leftists.)

  134. #134 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    libertarian thought – Walton

    Oxymoron alert!
    No, on second thought, just make that:
    Moron alert!

    Darren regurgitates the same garbage that every other “libertarian” who shows up here does. It’s so fucking TEDIOUS. If only one of them had something new to say, it wouldn’t be so bad. Tell me, Darren, why has this crash, like the great crash of 1929, follow a long-period in which market-worshippers have been pushing through their agenda of privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for the rich?

  135. #135 jayh`
    October 31, 2008

    In your Libertarian world, only wealth equates to power, since the vote is gone. You leave a stark choice of submission or rebellion….and the haves can always afford more guns than the have-nots.

    I get sick of this incredible and innaccurate strawman baiting.

    Libertarianism is NOT anarchy, it is NOT chaos. The government does have a critical function of protecting people from having their rights infringed through violence, coercion, theft or fraud. Get your story straight before you make absurd blanket statements.

  136. #136 Desert Son
    October 31, 2008

    Kagehi at #131:

    In other words, the “market” will replace one king with his cousin, until, and unless, things get so bad that a revolt happens, at which point, people will starve, lose entire life savings, and the collapse will make the “prior” 1920s collapse look “calm” by comparison. If the only thing that “regulates” the market are self interested assholes, who only see their own pockets when making choices, its no different than medieval Europe under monarchies.

    Thanks for this post. As I read it, and reflecting on some of the other posts I’ve seen about libertarian free-markets, I thought of two things:

    “Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss!”
    -The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again

    and the other thing is a paraphrase of something I saw someone post on another forum a couple of years ago. I probably won’t do justice to the way that person posted it (and I sadly can’t attribute it correctly, as I don’t recall the poster’s handle), but it went something like this:

    “For an example of the truly free market economy, without any kind of government restrictions, take a look at Mogadishu during the time of the warlords.”

    No kings,

    Robert

  137. #137 Dolphin
    October 31, 2008

    Wolfhound wrote: Feedback form to let Wolf Blitzer know how you feel about the morons he had on his panel: http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5.html?65

    I think sending letter can be effective. After Paula Zahn had the show in which atheism and atheists were not treated well, we sent a lot of letter to CNN. It resulted in CNN’s having Richard Dawkins on to discuss atheism.

    Here is the letter I sent to CNN:

    “I watched the segment of your show when you discussed the commercial by Elizabeth Dole in which she criticized Kay Hagan for attending a fundraiser at the home of Wendy Kaminer and Woody Kaplan. I’m an atheist. And I’m upset that there was no one on the panel to defend atheism and atheists. Being an atheist doesn’t make it harder to be an ethical person. I’ve every atheist I know well is an ethical person. Moreover, the position that there are no Gods is highly reasonable. It is important not to criticize people for holding a reasonable belief. Doing so is likely to make it harder for many people to realize that the belief is reasonable. So, in the future if you are going to suggest that atheism is problematic or that atheists are problematic, please have an atheist on the program. I recommend that you have Lori Lipman Brown on. She is the director of the Secular Coalition for America. Another person you could have on is Annie Laurie Gaylor. She is co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Another person you could have on is Richard Dawkins. Another person you could have on is Susan Jacoby.

    Sincerely,”

  138. #138 Michael B
    October 31, 2008

    Since the topic of the afterlife keeps coming up, I thought I’d share a few points. I’ve always found the obsession on the god question between skeptics and believers to be interesting – when the real question of questions is – is there an afterlife?

    The afterlife question is much easier to address than the god question, since it has less metaphysical baggage attached to it. The simple truth is if life begins at conception it ends at death. If I do an experiment and kill a mouse or some bacteria, the matter & energy, the stuff still exists in another form, but life is gone. Simple – period.

    As E.O. Wilson said on Charlie Rose, the two keys of modern biology are – life obeys chemical and physical laws, and has evolved via natural selection. The first implies that life however you want to define it, is patterns of activity in cells, which cease to exist when cells die.

    The burden of proof is on those who claim that life can go on without matter – just as how can software can exist with hardware. I suppose someday it is possible to download a persons brain on a computer chip and in that sense life could go on, but not for now.

    Another interesting thing is that in fact, many biblical scholars belief that much of the Old Testament reflects the view that God exists but there is no afterlife. See Tom Thomson’s The Mythic Past as one example.

    So again, what is it about human psychology that makes the god question the obsession rather than the afterlife question?

  139. #139 Gerry Dantone
    October 31, 2008

    I’m afraid that Ms. Hagan did what she had to do; distance herself from atheists.

    As an atheist, I do not like this of course, but consider the alternatives; if Hagan defends the atheists she loses the election and the disgusting Dole wins. If Hagan does what she does, she might win and at least she was willing to meet with atheists before this erupted.

    The time for a politician to take a stand would be right after she is elected and can make a principled stand with less fear.

    Here is the real villain in all this; the average voter who is so bigoted that non-bigoted politicians have no chance.

  140. #140 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    The government does have a critical function of protecting people from having their rights infringed through violence, coercion, theft or fraud. – Yet another “libertarian” halfwit

    Actually, some “libertarians” want the police and army privatised as well. However, they all seem to agree that if there’s a food shortage, and some rich bastard has cornered the market, the government should protect his right to starve to death all those who can’t pay whatever price he demands for food. No thanks.

  141. #141 Nix
    October 31, 2008

    Accusing people of associating with atheists is just like accusing them of hanging out with terrorists, because, after all, Ellen Johnson is quite capable of ripping a man’s throat out with her teeth.

    How do you know she isn’t? Just because she’s never done it doesn’t mean she couldn’t if she wanted to.

    (I’m not sure what to call this. It’s not devil’s advocacy because everyone on all sides of this conversation is an atheist…)

  142. #142 Tulse
    October 31, 2008

    many biblical scholars belief that much of the Old Testament reflects the view that God exists but there is no afterlife

    Many Jewish scholars, too (remember, it’s their book as well, and for a lot longer than Christianity). The notion of an afterlife is either severely downplayed or even absent in most strains of Jewish theology (at least as I understand it).

  143. #143 Coriolis
    October 31, 2008

    Bill Dauphin, you say:

    “Ahh, but there’s the rub: From the point of view of someone who sincerely believes in a god who is the source of all morality, being an atheist absolutely does make one immoral, because (in their scheme of thought) it’s impossible to be anything but immoral without a god belief. So what we have here is a conflict of worldviews, not an a priori hatred of people.”

    I could just as easily say:

    From the world-view of a white supremacist, having black skin means you are immoral. In their scheme of thought, since being moral comes from being white, it is impossible that a black man is moral.

    And yes. That’s technically a conflict of worldviews, not a hatred of people. I’m not convinced that this technicality has real meaning.

    Later on you make the rather better distinction in that things like race are unchangeable (for now at least), whereas things like religious belief are changeable. And then you claim that discriminating based on race is bigotry, but discriminating between religious beliefs isn’t. Apparently, because one is changeable, but the other isn’t. Alot of people agree with that sentiment, and hence we have the whole argument over whether being gay is innate or not.

    Is that really the important distinction? If one could change his race, would hating people based on the color of their skin be justified?

    I’m pretty sure you’d give the same answer that most sane people do: no fucking way. So whether a characteristic is changeable or not is also irrelevant in terms of whether it makes you a “bigot” or not.

    What decides who’s a bigot then? I don’t have a clue, which is why I don’t like that word. There are views I disagree with, and varying degrees of how much I disagree with them, and I’d rather get into why and how I think about it, rather then labeling what’s bigotry and what isn’t.

  144. #144 Michael B
    October 31, 2008

    Though I don’t know much about libertarianism, I define myself as a liberal or progressive I’m inclined to keep an open mind about it. Years ago I read Robert Nozick’s Anarchy State and Utopia, and found it well reasoned though in the end I couldn’t find myself agreeing with it. I’ve read that Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer have been described as libertarians at least in part, so some very intelligent skeptics are libertarians.

    Isaac Asimov once described libertarianism as the philosophy that“I want the liberty to grow rich and you can have the liberty to starve.” If libertarianism is defined by the views expressed by Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine – Milton Friedman economics – then I want no part of it. Of course if socialism means Hugo Chavez then I want no part of it. But if it means Sweden and Finland then maybe it’s worth at least looking in to.

    Libertarianism seems to me to be the black sheep of the republican party. They seem to be anti-authoritarians in a party of authoritarians e.g. neocons and the religious right. I found that Ron Paul was one of the most articulate spokespersons against the war.

    The point is libertarianism seems to be rational in a way that neoconservativism and theocracy are not. We should keep an open mind about it, and its good ideas even if as liberals and progressives we happen to not fully agree with it, and it seems to me that what it is, is somewhat in the eye of the beholder like the dreaded socialism.

  145. #145 BruceJ
    October 31, 2008

    Libertarianism is NOT anarchy, it is NOT chaos. The government does have a critical function of protecting people from having their rights infringed through violence, coercion, theft or fraud. Get your story straight before you make absurd blanket statements.

    Gee, I was under the impression that this was exactly the function of governmental regulation of the banking and securities industries, something that avowed libertarians like Alan “Shocked, Shocked that gambling is going on here at Rick’s” Greenspan have steadily campaigned to remove.

  146. #146 Walton
    October 31, 2008

    Actually, some “libertarians” want the police and army privatised as well.

    They are anarcho-capitalists, not libertarians. There’s a crucial difference.

  147. #147 bullfighter
    October 31, 2008

    First they came for… – 2008 election edition

  148. #148 skeeter
    October 31, 2008

    Libertarianism is to Economics what Creationism is to Evolutionary Biology. It’s flatly anti-intellectual. Why bother doing any analysis and why bother even having Economics as a field of study when you already know the answer – “god did it” – opps, I mean – “lower tax and deregulate” is the correct answer. Absolutely and always the correct answer.

    Libertarianism is a goofy utopianist ideology that should never leap from the pages of SciFi novels… where the inhabitants of the moon station DeltaPrime live a profitable existence under the gentle meanderings of a totally free-market system unencumbered by nasty regulations and rules and such. Where men are real men…

  149. #149 True Bob
    October 31, 2008

    Oh, FFS. It gets worse, thank you Liddy, you damned shitball:

    Nice tag line:

    “If Godless Americans threw a party in your honor, would you go?”

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/dole-attacks-democrat-with-second-godless-ad-2008-10-31.html

  150. #150 Katkinkate
    October 31, 2008

    And in the New Testiment it says, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.” and also, “Do not fear men who can only destroy the body, but fear God who can destroy the body and soul in hell.” Which brings up the question, if the soul is destroyed in hell, where is the eternal torture? I wish those who profess they follow the bible would bloody well read it! (The second quote might not be exact, this is from my vague memory)

  151. #151 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    Coriolis:

    I could just as easily say:

    From the world-view of a white supremacist, having black skin means you are immoral. In their scheme of thought, since being moral comes from being white, it is impossible that a black man is moral.

    ….

    Later on you make the rather better distinction in that things like race are unchangeable (for now at least), whereas things like religious belief are changeable.

    They’re really the same distinction: The theist in my formulation is condemning (even if ignorantly) the atheist for something the atheist is morally responsible for (i.e., his or her own deliberately held ideas); the white supremacist in your example is condemning the black man for something he’s not morally responsible for (i.e., his race), specifically because he can’t change it.

    This is the same distinction we make when we allow juries to find defendents “not guilty by reason of mental defect.” That is, we recognize the essential unfairness of judging people for things not under their control. What you think or believe is under your control, but who you are at birth is not; judging you based on the latter is essentially unjust in a way that judging you based on the former is not… and that’s regardless of the objective quality of any particular judgment.

    The point of making this distinction is not to exonerate people with bad ideas because they’re “not bigots”; rather, the point is that, as a practical matter, you deal differently with people who are “merely” wrong than with actual bigots. If the dispute is about ideas, it’s arguably more amenable to solution or mediation; if the dispute is about one person’s baseless hatred for the other’s essential being, there’s considerably less hope for reconciliation, and what hope there is lies in different types of persuasion (e.g., you might be able to change a bigot by shaming him or her into an epiphany, but you probably won’t simply persuade him or her through logic).

    Shorter me: When going to battle with “wrongness”; it’s well to understand the precise nature of that wrongness.

    This is less well thought out, but it also seems to me that bigotry involves a different sense of the causality of hatred: A theist might say “atheism violates my worldview, therefore I will hate atheists,” while a racist is more likely to say “I hate people who don’t look like me, therefore I will assume they’re [pick your dehumanizing racist accusation].” Either way, the hatred itself is reprehensible, but its cause (and thus its cure, if any) is different in each case.

  152. #152 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Icelander, #86, wrote:

    I have never believed in god. One of the most shocking moments of my life was when I realized the adults in church really believed that crap and weren’t indulging the kids. This may be rare among atheists, but I’m not alone.

    I’m with you there. If someone says to me they truly believe in god I’m taken aback; I just don’t know how to process it. But I’m also of the opinion that a lot more people say it than mean it, for any number of reasons. And many of those who make a point of arguing about it are far more interested in convincing themselves of its truth than they are of converting atheists.

  153. #153 soso
    October 31, 2008

    As an atheist who’s long lived in the Bible Belt, I can’t bring myself to be outraged nor even surprised by this, really.

    C’est la vie.

  154. #154 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Of course if socialism means Hugo Chavez then I want no part of it. Michael B.

    Funny thing though, the majority of Venezuelans don’t seem to agree with you. Maybe it’s because they’re poor and, for all his egotism and grandstanding, Chavez has actually done something for them, particularly in the way of health care – and maintained free elections and a (largely hostile) free press.

  155. #155 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    They are anarcho-capitalists, not libertarians. There’s a crucial difference.

    Reminds of the differences between the radical groups during my undergraduate days. They saw all sorts of “big” differences between the groups. Everyone one else saw little difference and thought they were all idiots.

  156. #156 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Walton,
    Both Wikipedia and Lew Rothwell identify anarcho-capitalism as a subspecies of libertarianism. I suggest you learn a little more about your own political philosophy.

  157. #157 windy
    October 31, 2008

    Ahh, but there’s the rub: From the point of view of someone who sincerely believes in a god who is the source of all morality, being an atheist absolutely does make one immoral, because (in their scheme of thought) it’s impossible to be anything but immoral without a god belief. So what we have here is a conflict of worldviews, not an a priori hatred of people. You and I know the theists’ position on this issue is wrong (although keep in mind that they “know” with just as much certainty that we are wrong), but that doesn’t make them bigots.

    In many theist’s scheme of thought being gay is a choice and absolutely does make one immoral. Therefore if they hate gays they are not being bigots? Sorry, but that’s stupid.

  158. #158 Michael B
    October 31, 2008

    Nick,

    Yes Hugo may have done some good things, but so has Putin – he’s tremendously popular too. Remember the referendum in 2007 to sieze additional power end presidential terms ,etc. that was voted down. To me it’s a no brainer that he’s a demagogue – ala some of our own leaders, despite some good things but you’re free to disagree. We don’t need leaders like that – persuasion is better than force.

  159. #159 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Remember the referendum in 2007 to sieze additional power end presidential terms ,etc. that was voted down. – Michael B.

    Your choice of words is revealing. I was pleased Chavez lost that referendum, but he was asking for additional powers and the right to stand for additional terms, not seizing them. When he lost, he accepted with reasonably good grace. The comparison with Putin is also dubious, if only because Putin is without doubt a mass murderer (Chechnya), and Chavez is not.

  160. #160 Walton
    October 31, 2008
  161. #161 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    Slightly off topic,

    Then why mention it at all? Keep on topic.

  162. #162 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Posted by: Walton | October 31, 2008

    Slightly off topic

    Never stopped you before.

  163. #163 Walton
    October 31, 2008

    If someone says to me they truly believe in god I’m taken aback; I just don’t know how to process it. But I’m also of the opinion that a lot more people say it than mean it, for any number of reasons. And many of those who make a point of arguing about it are far more interested in convincing themselves of its truth than they are of converting atheists.

    I, on the other hand, genuinely did believe in God, passionately, through most of my teenage years. And I’d still like to, but it just isn’t rationally supportable.

    I know that those of you who have never believed, and have no desire to believe, can hardly be expected to easily sympathise or empathise with those of us who instinctively want to believe. And I do understand why some people here are so contemptuous of the religious. But at the same time, I grew up in a loving family of well-educated and otherwise liberal-minded people (indeed, I’m the most right-wing member of my family) – who, nevertheless, believe in God and attend church regularly. I personally can’t really reconcile a belief in a literal, personal God with observed reality; but I have always wished I could do so.

    I think this is largely a personality thing. Some people’s minds are inclined more towards the rational than the poetic; they see no reason to believe something that isn’t grounded in empirical evidence and logic. Such people are unlikely ever to be really religious, even if raised in a religious household. But others – the majority of us – are inclined more to the poetic than the rational. For me, listening to a rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” has ten times the deep personal impact of a thousand rational arguments about the existence of God.

    Letting go of God is something that’s very difficult. And it doesn’t help when atheists express opinions like “religious people are stupid”. (I know you weren’t saying that; but some people on this site, notably Holbach and BobC, have expressed that kind of opinion.) It’s not only empirically untrue – was Martin Luther King stupid? – but is also unconstructive and emotionally difficult. Some of us are naturally ruled more by emotion than by reason; and you must make allowances for that. Even if spirituality is purely a psychological delusion, the fact remains that many of us have a spiritual void which must be filled by something.

  164. #164 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    Walton, #164, wrote:

    Letting go of God is something that’s very difficult. And it doesn’t help when atheists express opinions like “religious people are stupid”. (I know you weren’t saying that; but some people on this site, notably Holbach and BobC, have expressed that kind of opinion.)

    I’ve posted several times, on other threads, defending formerly-religious ‘deconverts’. I can’t fully empathise, having never been religious, but I’m perceptive enough, and familiar enough with psychology to know that it’s almost never as simple as simply admitting to oneself that there is no god.

    If you’re raised religious then you have very little choice as to how you start out. Even if you wake up and realise you can’t believe in god anymore there’s so much pressure to never admit that because of the repercussions. Family, society, culture are all intertwined, and to eschew god can mean dissociating yourself from almost your entire former life.

    I’ve never been pressured to believe, since I was brought up in an irreligious (rather than atheist, per se; my mother taught Sunday School but I never felt she ‘believed’ in the supernatural aspects) in Australia where there a) isn’t that much religious belief, and b) proselytising is frowned upon because it’s seen as ‘trying too hard’, something we just don’t do.

    So for me it wasn’t a choice. I didn’t have to make any tough decisions or face the anger or disappointment or revulsion of people I loved or cared about.

    I have far more respect for someone who’s reverted to atheism (because that’s what it really is; we’re all born atheists and taught religion) after a struggle than I do for myself for being lucky enough to dodge the bullet of indoctrination.

    My atheism isn’t much of an achievement – theirs is.

    I don’t know if it’s as easy as simplifying to the point of saying that some people need religion (filling the spiritual void) and some don’t. I think it’s far more complex than that.

  165. #165 J Myers
    October 31, 2008

    The simple truth is if life begins at conception it ends at death.

    Begins at conception? And why is that? Ends at death? Well, “death” being defined as “the end of life,” I don’t find this particularly insightful.

    So again, what is it about human psychology that makes the god question the obsession rather than the afterlife question?

    How many people claim to be acting in accord with “the will of the afterlife?”

  166. #166 Mena
    October 31, 2008

    Imagine what the ads would have been like if openly gay Jim Neal won the Democratic primary!

  167. #167 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    #150: Thanks – I have a mental picture of aluminum chaff blowing out Dole’s ass. It must hurt, but I guess she really wants to be a Senator… Of course, if I were her, and the consequences of my mode of governance had come back on me before I was gone, I’d being spewing as much chaff as I could from any and every orifice – anything to keep NCians from remembering what I’ve done and to whom I’ve done it.

    On the other hand, perhaps you should be glad that atheists aren’t of one race, or else she’d be rolling out the “black hand-whte hand” ads.

  168. #168 Joe
    October 31, 2008

    God does not exist, it does not really matter if people believe that god does. If they want to, who cares. As an atheist, to me, what they believe is meaningless. There is no manifested result either way.

  169. #169 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    Walton, #164: “Letting go of God is something that’s very difficult.” etc.

    Just by happenstance, on PZ’s ‘Random Quote’ spot appears this one:

    “Over the years I realized the god I prayed to was the god I invented. When I was talking to him, I was talking to myself. He had no understanding or qualities that I did not have. When I realized god was an extension of my imagination, I stopped praying to him.”

    [Howard Kreisner, host of "The American Atheist Hour"]

    Okay, so it’s hard. What isn’t? Isn’t it at least partially justified to denounce pathological self-obsession – the BEHAVIOR? It only sounds rude because the self-obsessed take it personally, as they do with all things.

    It CAN help to ridicule an undesirable or defective behavioral trait. Pressure CAN do work. Just don’t take it personally, and you’ll be fine.

  170. #170 Bill Dauphin
    October 31, 2008

    Windy:

    In many theist’s scheme of thought being gay is a choice and absolutely does make one immoral. Therefore if they hate gays they are not being bigots? Sorry, but that’s stupid.

    “Not bigotry” != A-OK

    As I said before, I’m not trying to deny the wrongness of our thickheaded adversaries; I’m just trying to come up with a sort of taxonomy of wrongness. Calling potentially persuadable people “bigots” doesn’t advance the cause.

    I do think there’s a distinction between criticizing/attacking/hating a person’s ideas or behavior and criticizing/attacking/hating a person’s identity… even if I can’t perfectly (or to your satisfaction) delineate it. And, of course, the case in which it’s precisely the distinction between volition and identity that the adversary is wrong about is a tricky one.

    Show me someone who sincerely believes that being gay is a choice and who would not hate gays if s/he believed being gay were inherent, and I’ll say that person isn’t a bigot. Still wrong, of course, and potentially tragically so, but something other than a bigot nonetheless.

    In fact, though, I suspect that the “it’s a choice” claim is more often an ex post facto rationalization for an underlying hatred of gayness per se.

    This has been a long and winding thread, but at the end of it, I still find it hard to believe folks don’t see a distinction between the two following hypothetical Bad People’s Comments™:

    A: “I don’t like atheists because what they believe contradicts and threatens beliefs I hold very dear.”

    B: “I don’t like n*ggers. Ain’t no ‘because’; I jus’ don’ like ‘em!”

    No diff? Really?

  171. #171 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    This is what comes of years of exposure to toxic boogeyman-buzzwords: they utter them, and all reason goes flying right out of their ears.

    They have no idea what the f*ck they’re talking about, but they have something to be against, and that’s sufficient to make them think they’re thinking.

    Never ever underestimate how deep stupid can go.

    Especially when it is fashionable.

  172. #172 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    Walton, #164: “And it doesn’t help when atheists express opinions like “religious people are stupid”. etc.

    Look, maybe this will help – it’s kind of like this: Imagine a bit of fiction, in an Old Hollywood Western-like setting. It’s around 1880. It’s a hot and dry day in town. The wind kicks up dust and blows some tumbleweeds down the street.

    Thomas Alva Edison rides into town, dismounts, and saunters into the saloon for a drink. He sidles up to the bar and tells the bartender, “Barkeep! Give me a cold beer!”

    A patron by the name of (say) Ben Stein, dressed fashionably in white, stands next to Edison at the bar and sizes him up narrowly with suspicious, squinty eyes. He loudly declares, for the consumption of all present, “I heard tell that the stranger that just rode into town is a godless librul eyetheeist.”

    Edison slowly turns to him and says, “You speakin’ to me?”

    Stein says, “I don’t see nobody else standin’ thar.”

    Edison says, “I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.” [sic]

    Stein says, “You callin’ me a LIAR, mister?”

    Edison says, “Nope. But I can now call you stupid.”

    Get the picture?

  173. #173 windy
    October 31, 2008
    In many theist’s scheme of thought being gay is a choice and absolutely does make one immoral. Therefore if they hate gays they are not being bigots? Sorry, but that’s stupid.

    “Not bigotry” != A-OK

    Good for you but nothing I said implies the opposite.

    As I said before, I’m not trying to deny the wrongness of our thickheaded adversaries; I’m just trying to come up with a sort of taxonomy of wrongness. Calling potentially persuadable people “bigots” doesn’t advance the cause.

    I don’t think “bigot” is commonly defined as either being only about inherent differences or as only the absolute worst kinds of discrimination (for instance, here’s Sci Am calling you a bigot). You are in effect proposing a redefinition of the word for strategic purposes. So the best way to do this might not be to call potentially persuadable people wrong.

    And whatever your taxonomy of wrongness, I think condemning someone for going to a meeting at the home of a godless person should be pretty high on it. This is not just intolerance of wrong ideas.

    Show me someone who sincerely believes that being gay is a choice and who would not hate gays if s/he believed being gay were inherent, and I’ll say that person isn’t a bigot. Still wrong, of course, and potentially tragically so, but something other than a bigot nonetheless.

    I disagree, and now you’re being inconsistent since previously you advocated taking the theist’s view of atheists as a given, now you’re arguing that they are not being sincere in the case of gays. I have no interest in splitting hairs over whether the homophobes are sincere about this. It apparently matters to them because they keep blathering about ‘choice’.

  174. #174 bullfighter
    October 31, 2008

    @ Bill Dauphin:
    Atheism is not a choice any more than sexual orientation or race is, and I don’t consider it any less a part of my identity than my sexual orientation or race. (If anything, it is more significant for my identity because it puts me in the minority.) So your distinction makes no sense. Anti-atheist and anti-gay sentiments are exactly equivalent in terms of bigotry. (Race is somewhat different, not for the reasons you imagine, but simply because it is more difficult to hide.)

  175. #175 Kagehi
    October 31, 2008
    “Libertarianism is NOT anarchy, it is NOT chaos. The government does have a critical function of protecting people from having their rights infringed through violence, coercion, theft or fraud. Get your story straight before you make absurd blanket statements.”

    Gee, I was under the impression that this was exactly the function of governmental regulation of the banking and securities industries, something that avowed libertarians like Alan “Shocked, Shocked that gambling is going on here at Rick’s” Greenspan have steadily campaigned to remove.

    Actually, I think its worse than that. Lets put it in terms of credit cards, as just one example. No one tells me I **must** prevent someone getting a card if they already have X number, no one says I *have to* use any kind of *specific* formula to figure out who should get it, and there is nothing in place to prevent me, in theory, issuing so many that they have, for all intents and purposes, a negative asset value, compared to what they owe. I do have “some” rules of my own, but the government didn’t bother to ask what that really was, and just took my shill’s word on it. So, I issue a card to dude 1, whose wife gets issued another, then I have some special deal to upgrade #1′s, while issuing a second to wifey. Some other company, who knows they have 3 cards now, decides that they are making the “minimum” payments, so its OK to issue them 3 more, and then someone else issue them three more, etc.

    OK, so, to MR. Libertarian, please explain to me which of the “magic things” governments where supposed to deal with, according to you? Its not violence, nor coercion, since they opted to take the cards, and chose, for themselves, to go into more debt. Theft? Not unless usury is “itself” theft, since they are borrowing, under contract, to pay it back, not being “stolen from”. Fraud? Nope, the only “fraud” happening is usually done by the people trying to avoid paying back all the money they borrowed. So, there must be some other category right? Ethical business practices maybe? But, who defines that? Self sabotage? After all, doing this is what led to them needing to be bailed out. Maybe some sort of fraud against their employees and board, on the grounds that their business methods would “inevitably” cause them to collapse? Well, there are a lot of damn businesses that would have to be sued over that, if that was a valid criteria.

    No, more often than not, government ends up stepping in to handle intangibles, where the precise definition of what is being screwed up, and how, is too vague, but where the impact is tangible and disastrous. The alternative would be, lets see.. The Blackwater private army, in the case of some extreme Libertarian positions, or just the current financial mess, by following the **entirely** libertarian direction that both the Republicans, and I would argue, to a slightly less extent, Democrats, pushed to line some of their pockets, while failing to see, steer to avoid, or imagine, the consequences (despite historical precedent).

  176. #176 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    You forgot to mention me Walton, you monumental ass.
    Religious people are stupid.
    Your remark about the Battle Hymn of the Republic insults every hillbilly in America. Well done. Ass.
    Now play the innocent, and swear you don’t understand what I am talking about.

  177. #177 John Morales
    October 31, 2008

    OOT – Walton, “Letting go of God is something that’s very difficult.”. This is the focus of de-conversion.com, you might wish to go there if you want focused interaction regarding that topic.

    Patricia, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

  178. #178 SkepticalPoet
    November 1, 2008

    Despicable, but not surprising. Check out Hagen’s defamation and libel complaint. For me, her legal action does more than the Dole ad to “malign her character and reputation,” “subject her to contempt, and “injure her good name and reputation in the community.” Archie Bunker would be proud of them both!

  179. #179 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    Cuttlefish,

    that one was fantastic,it will go on my facebook i think..:-)

    The Petey @ 101,

    If people really believe in an afterlife
    shouldn’t funerals be happier events than weddings?

    Good one !!!

  180. #180 Zadius
    November 1, 2008

    SkepticalPoet @ #179

    I just read the pdf and I don’t see what’s wrong with it. Perhaps you could elaborate?

  181. #181 Kagehi
    November 1, 2008

    Hmm. So, her “legal action” states that she didn’t receive contributions, which we didn’t know, but is to the point of the issue, that she doesn’t share the groups views (knowing nothing about them, I can’t say if *we* would either, other than in the most general sense, so this one is not an issue for me really, since it doesn’t imply anything we don’t know already), and the only “problem” in the thing is mentioning Alex Castellano’s BS statement. That “is” a bit of a problem, since it strongly implies that she “believes” their should be some sort of “religious test” for office, presuming its meant to mean that, and not just as a rather stupid quote, from a stupid man, who happens to be right that Hagen’s chances to get elected would be screwed if she “was” running in most places as an atheist. But, that says more about the idiots that think its reasonable, than it does her.

    Frankly, if some ass said the same about me in a campaign, I would probably, unless I could find some other person to quote, end up having to quote the same moron myself. And, court briefs are “not” the place for putting in things like, “Never mind this being unconstitutional”, or, “Even though its wrong”, or other things that are not pertinent to the case at hand. You do that shit “in” court, if you need to, preferably in a court case directed at someone denying you the right to enter office, having “been” elected, due to such a test, not when you are still running, and some moron is just trying to use to to undermine you.

    So.. What is the issue exactly SkepticalPoet? Mind, I do think there is one, but this isn’t making it at all worse. We need to wait to see what kind of BS dust up, actual court trial, or pay off happens, and what gets stipulated by both, before “that” becomes at all clear.

  182. #182 Sophiasaurus
    November 1, 2008

    Oh man. I watched the situation room when they had that conversation as well and it really really fucking disappointed me. i thought i really liked Donna, I always thought she was smart woman. I couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth. It definitely feels like it’s not the politician that’s getting attacked, it’s us Atheists. And nobody is man enough to defend what’s right. I feel embarrassed FOR them.

  183. #183 tigerhawkvok
    November 1, 2008

    I also sent a negative comment, FWIW:

    ————————————–
    I found it incredible that in commentary about the Hagan/Dole race, the commentators would not speak out against the utter bigotry against atheists. The incredible thing about Dole’s advertisements were not the false accusations — it was the fact that this is negative at all. If “atheist” were replaced with white, black, Jew, Christian, Hispanic, or virtually any other race or philosophy it would (properly) be soundly slapped down. Consider, for example, the substitute statements: “Gay Americans and Kay Hagan — she hid from cameras, took homosexual money” or “A leader of the Jewish Americans PAC held a fundraiser in Kay Hagan’s honor”. The implication that this is negative at all is so incredibly bigoted and intolerant it strains credulity.

    It is incredible that not only is this an insult at all (and speaks volumes of those who put out the message), but the media doesn’t appear to bat an eyelash at this usage or represent atheist opinion on the matter. This treatment comes across as an implicit endorsement of the position that being atheist is a negative state — again, simply incredible.

  184. #184 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    You forgot to mention me Walton, you monumental ass.
    Religious people are stupid.
    Your remark about the Battle Hymn of the Republic insults every hillbilly in America. Well done. Ass.
    Now play the innocent, and swear you don’t understand what I am talking about.

    I honestly don’t. Am I just being obtuse, or are other people also confused?

    I happen to like the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am aware that it’s considered offensive in parts of the Deep South because of its Civil War origins; is that what you mean? I really don’t see what I said wrong.

    Maybe I’m an idiot when it comes to social interaction. But I really didn’t mean to cause offence.

  185. #185 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    //I happen to like the Battle Hymn of the Republic//

    Thats the Star Wars hymn,right?

  186. #186 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Thats the Star Wars hymn,right?

    No.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VslzcciRmZg

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword,
    His truth is marching on.

    (Interestingly enough, it was written not by an orthodox Christian but by a Unitarian, Julia Ward Howe. The melody comes from a Union Army marching song of the American Civil War, “John Brown’s Body”. You may have heard the WWII parody version, “Blood on the Risers”.)

  187. #187 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,
    i was joking….

  188. #188 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,
    i was joking….

    Fair enough. Sense of humour is not my strong point.

  189. #189 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    Walton, re the Battle Hymn of the Republic, as per #178 I too don’t know to what Patricia refers, but your suggestion makes sense. Me, I quite like the tune, but no more (though other anthemic tunes do emotionally affect me).

    What I find queer is the concept of a “battle hymn”, maybe because my doublethink faculty never developed sufficiently (a major reason I drifted into atheism despite spending my formative years in Franco’s Spain, including a couple of years at Jesuit boarding schools where discipline was very strict and indoctrination constant).

    All the talk of a religion of peace, of turning the other cheek, of “You shall not kill” etc is patently hypocritical; Christian Soldier is oxymoronic enough, but Army Chaplains? Bah.

    It’s like that song by The Firm: [Kirk] We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill; we come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men!

  190. #190 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    All the talk of a religion of peace, of turning the other cheek, of “You shall not kill” etc is patently hypocritical; Christian Soldier is oxymoronic enough, but Army Chaplains?

    As I understand it, “You shall not kill” is really better translated as “You shall not murder”. Any coherent and rational theory of ethics has to allow for killing in self-defence or in defence of the weak and vulnerable; if all decent, ethical people were entirely pacifist, the good would simply be defeated by those who were willing to use violence for personal gain. Defeating Hitler, for instance, was, to my mind, a positive moral duty; if the West had stood aside and done nothing, where would we be today? (Indeed, many Americans up until Pearl Harbour did wish to stand aside and do nothing while Nazi Germany destroyed Britain and secured control of Europe; history now reviles their short-sightedness.) Most decent people, whether Christian, atheist or of another religion, must surely concur that wars of conquest are unconscionable and that killing another except in legitimate defence of persons or property is never acceptable; but total abstention from violence, as a society, is intellectually unsustainable.

    As to Army Chaplains, I know a few (since I’m a cadet in the OTC). They are not allowed to carry weapons and take no physical part in conflict. Their job is simply to minister to members of the armed forces. Even those Christians who are near-total pacifists – and I have known some – would not wish to deny spiritual assistance and comfort to members of the armed forces. Christianity is not about judging others for their choice of occupation; Christian doctrine teaches that everyone is a sinner, regardless of outward virtue. Hence why there are even churches which minister to prostitutes. But I don’t think any Christian would call for the abolition of the Army chaplaincy; some secularists might legitimately do so on the grounds that government funding of chaplains violates the separation of church and state, but there is no other basis on which I could imagine someone condemning Army chaplains.

  191. #191 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,

    As I understand it, “You shall not kill” is really better translated as “You shall not murder”.

    Well, that’s not what my Bible says, but that may be a Catholic thing (from Wikipedia: “(Roman Catholic) You shall not kill / (Lutheran) You shall not murder”.

    Most decent people, [...] must surely concur that wars of conquest are unconscionable and that killing another except in legitimate defence of persons or property is never acceptable

    When both sides in a conflict (I’m sure you don’t need historical examples, especially if you know some European history) are Christian, does this mean both are merely legitimately defending? I don’t think that’s possible.

    [Army Chaplains] are not allowed to carry weapons and take no physical part in conflict. Their job is simply to minister to members of the armed forces. Even those Christians who are near-total pacifists – and I have known some – would not wish to deny spiritual assistance and comfort to members of the armed forces.

    That sounds awfully like aiding and abetting to me, but IANAL :)

    I note you didn’t address turning the other cheek, but I suppose this may be due to your already lengthy response.*

  192. #192 SEF
    November 1, 2008

    I don’t think “bigot” is commonly defined as either being only about inherent differences or as only the absolute worst kinds of discrimination

    I think a bigot would be someone who is discriminating inaccurately, ie unfairly, against people on the basis of attributes (regardless of whether those are inherent or acquired) which aren’t relevantly wrong or even wrong at all. Those attributes being typically ones which include large groups of people, eg skin colour or nationality. Some instances would be more egregious and obvious than others.

    So, given that paedophilia is wrong, it isn’t bigotry to refuse to employ a paedophile at a school – just sensible. However, it should be bigotry to refuse them at an adults-only bar, where their wrongness isn’t relevant.

    Since atheism isn’t wrong, it is bigotry to discriminate against atheists; except perhaps in the case of applying for the job of religious leader – but, historically, atheism hasn’t actually been a barrier to that!

    When selecting someone to be a science teacher or science education/review board member, it shouldn’t be bigotry to discriminate against anti-science religious nutters and any other people with no science qualifications or demonstrable scientific ability. It’s merely good sense.

    There are lots of jobs where people really ought to make more effort to discriminate fairly against pathological liars and similarly habitually dishonest candidates. Again, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an inherent mental problem or a deliberate choice on their part. They still can’t be trusted. Unfortunately, most(?) people seem to be rubbish at discriminating and are probably more likely to be bigots than right. It’s one of those fundamental flaws in the concept of democracy.

  193. #193 Peter
    November 1, 2008

    Here’s another Australian point of view: Americans are great people but as a nation they suffer badly from exceptionalism – the belief that America is superior to other developed countries in most every way (google it – this goes back at least to 1831).

    A lot of Americans believe that the USA is God’s chosen nation in this age. Which means that all that wealth they enjoy is OK because it’s God’s Chosen Nation. People who believe in ‘god’ but who aren’t Christian don’t threaten the concept. If someone believes in some other god then they at least support the idea of god… and they’re just some poor primitive person who’s accidentally inherited the wrong view of god. Islam and Judaism pose no threat at all to the idea, but actually validate the American Christian’s belief that the old god of the desert takes an active interest in the success of nations.

    But atheism threatens this idea absolutely. A reasoned argument that there is no god at all is far more threatening than a mere question of brand loyalty. It questions the fundamental belief of why America is successful and why it’s OK to enjoy that success. But it’s even scarier than that. If the sense of being God’s Chosen Nation is an intoxicating part of what it means to Be An American, then atheism threatens many Americans’ sense of what it is to Be An American.

  194. #194 SkepticalPoet
    November 1, 2008

    Zadius (181): “I don’t see what’s wrong with it”
    Kagehi (182): “What is the issue exactly SkepticalPoet?”

    1. The fact that Hagan believes that being called an atheist (or having associations with them) harms her reputation or standing in the community.
    2. The extend to which it actually does.

    Replace “Godless Americans PAC” with “Jewish Americans PAC” or “African Americans PAC” and read her complaint again if you still don’t understand what’s wrong with a libel suit. Or just re-read PZ’s post.

  195. #195 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    Even if spirituality is purely a psychological delusion, the fact remains that many of us have a spiritual void which must be filled by something. – Walton

    Try heroin – it’s less dangerous than religion.

  196. #196 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    Peter@193,
    Interesting point, but I’m not sure it’s correct. Quite a few American atheists (notably but not exclusively “libertarians” and Randbots) have retained the exceptionalism while dropping the god-belief. It attaches itself instead to “freedom” or the “Founding Fathers” – seen as a group of deists and rationalists. Even among the American atheists here I notice very few who will not proclaim their patriotism and quote Jefferson when the opportunity arises (SC, spgreenlaw and truth machine come to mind as exceptions). See also the SEED editors’ endorsement of Obama, discussed on the “The election is all but over now” thread.

  197. #197 Timmeh
    November 1, 2008

    Here’s what I wrote to Wolf in an e-mail:

    Wolf, why did you ask “was it a mistake to go to a fundraiser with an atheist present?”

    Would you ask “was it a mistake to go to a fundraiser with a Jew present?”

    Would you ask “was it a mistake to go to a fundraiser with a Hindu present?”

    Would you ask “was it a mistake to go to a fundraiser with a Catholic present?”

    Come on. There’s nothing wrong being an atheist.

  198. #198 Sastra
    November 1, 2008

    SEF #192 wrote:

    I think a bigot would be someone who is discriminating inaccurately, ie unfairly, against people on the basis of attributes (regardless of whether those are inherent or acquired) which aren’t relevantly wrong or even wrong at all.

    I agree: that’s one reason why I don’t consider eucharist desecration/ridicule to be anti-Catholic bigotry. Belief that a cracker becomes God is a rational viewpoint. By that, I clearly don’t mean to say that I think it stands up under rational analysis. I mean that it’s a conclusion that’s derived from evidence, and therefore open to attack on those rational points — and ridicule on the irrational ones.

    That’s what pisses me off about anti-atheist bigotry. I don’t like to compare atheism to race, sexual orientation, or national origin, because, just like being Catholic (or like believing in God), not believing in God is a rational viewpoint. It’s not an inviolable part of a person’s identity. So the ‘bigotry’ part is not attacking atheism as a belief. It comes from the unfairness, the inaccuracy, and the blanket condemnation of attributes which are not connected to nonbelief.

    And it rests on the refusal to allow us the common ground where we can reply.

    What is one thing that even liberal believers just can’t stand about us atheists? They hate our ‘militant’ attitude. You know, that’s where we tell people they’re wrong. Faith and religion are supposed to be special, protected havens where everyone ‘respects’ your right to believe what you want. We’re “all” looking for God, but they want the issue on whether or not God exists to be left alone, to be considered settled. And our very nontheistic presence reminds them that it isn’t.

    So people of faith have to marginalize us, and treat us with the contemptuous amusement reserved for flat earthers and people who believe their dog is a reincarnation of Cleopatra. Even though their arguments run suspiciously along the same lines as the ‘kooks and weirdos.’

    “We’d like atheists better and respect them more if they respected us more — and not tried to change our minds about God. Keep your arguments to yourself, or tucked away safely in academic areas. And reassure us that this is because faith is a beautiful, virtuous thing, and you would never want us to lose our faith. That will show us you care about people.”

    Bullshit. And it’s bullshit I used to buy into, too. “Keep the rational arguments away from us, because they hurt us — and then we’ll accept you.”

    Meaning they will accept us as marginalized kooks who don’t really count as citizens, but will be tolerated as long as we stay quiet and invisible. Those freaking atheist-bashing ads only had to quote the words “there is no God” and people are expected to react in revulsion like Pavlov’s dogs. The panelists casually mention that OF COURSE there are no good reasons to ‘reject’ belief in God. Everyone knows that.

    Oh yeah? We’re bringing them on, to a neighborhood near you.

    /rant

  199. #199 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 1, 2008

    Fair enough. Sense of humour is not my strong point.

    shocker

  200. #200 Stronger Now
    November 1, 2008

    Queasily, I vote for thee…

    I’m an atheist living in NC.

    Atheists cannot hold public office in North Carolina, according to state law anyway.

    Beautiful state. Lots of atheist hatin’ biblethumpers to vote for.

  201. #201 Anon
    November 1, 2008

    Just heard Obama say “we are one nation, all of us…”; I was so expecting to hear “one nation, under god…” that it took me a moment to process the “all of us”. I think this may be the first time in years that I have heard a politician say the words “one nation” without immediately following with “under god”.

    I must say, I hope it’s not the last.

  202. #202 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    I think this may be the first time in years that I have heard a politician say the words “one nation” without immediately following with “under god”.

    On the topic of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “in God we trust” on currency, etc. – I’m aware that this kind of ceremonial deism pisses off some atheists, understandably. Similarly, in Britain we sing “God save our gracious Queen”. Yet I know many atheists who are perfectly comfortable with the UK national anthem despite not believing in a literal God. I think that, as regards faith-based terminology in the public sphere – and, more broadly, the hostility between theists and atheists – there is a solution.

    Could this issue not be resolved by a slightly less rigid definition of terms? Phrases like “in God we trust” do not, and in America constitutionally cannot, refer specifically to the Judeo-Christian God or to any sectarian view of God. Rather, it’s “ceremonial deism”; it’s a very generic, symbolic invocation of God, which does not imply allegiance to a particular theology. So could you (atheists, secular humanists, etc.) not, for yourselves and from a personal standpoint, redefine “God” in this context to signify either (a) a deistic or (b) a purely symbolic concept, rather than the conventional literal/theistic concept of God?

    There are many strong arguments for not believing in the Judeo-Christian God, or in any other religious creed which claims the intervention of a God or gods in the material universe – because there simply isn’t enough empirical evidence to establish, with any substantial degree of probability, that any purported miracle or divine intervention in history ever actually took place.

    But, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, surely if you redefine “God” in a deistic, non-personal sense as the abstract “First Cause” which does not intervene in the material universe, then this belief is (a) by its nature empirically untestable, and therefore not worth disputing; and (b) so vague as to be harmless. A non-personal or symbolic God can’t have any impact on your life, nor is there any substantial difference, in practical terms, between believing in a completely unknowable, non-interventionist God and believing in no God at all. Alternatively, one can come from the standpoint of total unbelief in any God or gods – full philosophical materialism – and yet view “God” as a symbolic concept, albeit one with purely cultural and contextual meaning. In other words, it amounts to pragmatic atheism.

    So when saying “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, or spending money that says “in God we trust”, why not interpret it, for you personally as an atheist, as meaning “God” in the above vague sense? Just as it wasn’t intended to connotate allegiance to any particular theology, it also shouldn’t exclude those who don’t believe in a literal, personal God.

    I realise that, for the more rational and literal-minded among you, this probably sounds like a load of unnecessary, patronising woo that just obscures one’s real stance on the issue. And it is. I am submitting that it would be very beneficial to social harmony and unity if we stop polarising the question and emphasising the dichotomy between theism and atheism. It’s better to just redefine “God” in the public sphere so that the term can mean, for each individual citizen, whatever he or she wants it to mean – including, for atheists, a purely symbolic and non-real concept.

  203. #203 Arnosium Upinarum
    November 1, 2008

    Walton #202: “It’s better to just redefine “God” in the public sphere so that the term can mean, for each individual citizen, whatever he or she wants it to mean – including, for atheists, a purely symbolic and non-real concept.”

    Whatever he or she wants it to mean? Hmmm. Is that right? Do you really mean that? WHATEVER? Really? Promise? Pretty please? Can we can we can we? Oh JOY!!! How accommodating and generous you are in your cosmopolitan gratuity.

    Thank you ever so much!

    Too bad the glaring contradiction hasn’t occurred to you. Never mind that you’ve just suggested the undefinability of the – um – “thing”. That such – um – “things” that may have ANY DEFINITION, by your generous decree, REALLY HAVE NO DEFINITION AT ALL.

    But, hey, as long as that 3-letter word is out there for everybody to mezmer at, it’s gotta mean it’s there, right? Sorta, kinda? At least? Maybe? You know, “In the beginning was the Word” and similar such proclamations?

    No thoughtful atheist thinks that the CONCEPT is “non-real”. In case you haven’t noticed, people harbor LOTS of CONCEPTS that are mistaken, defective, inaccurate, loony, wrong-headed, and worthless, and NONE of those CONCEPTS are “non-real”. It is plainly evident that they all exist, AS CONCEPTS.

    That’s part of the big problem. The other part of the problem is that people like you just don’t want to listen.

    But here you are stupidly suggesting that we should find it palatable to adopt a “symbolic definition” for a concept that we regard as worthless, by some exceedingly strange and pathetic exhibition of concession.

    Now, don’t take it personally, just listen carefully, very very carefully and do try to keep your composure:

    That kind of nonsense thinking is stupid. Mind you, I’m not calling you stupid. I know the difference between a person (love ‘em all, I really do) and what a person thinks or believes.

    I’m saying what you just said is stupid.

    No offense.

    After all, unwarranted personal over-identification with one of those pesky “non-real concepts” is just another “non-real concept”, isn’t it?

  204. #204 Sastra
    November 1, 2008

    Walton #202 wrote:

    I am submitting that it would be very beneficial to social harmony and unity if we stop polarising the question and emphasising the dichotomy between theism and atheism. It’s better to just redefine “God” in the public sphere so that the term can mean, for each individual citizen, whatever he or she wants it to mean – including, for atheists, a purely symbolic and non-real concept.

    You’re right, in that the word “God” has been defined in so many ways that, like the word “spiritual,” an atheist /skeptic /secular humanist/ naturalist can easily find some secularized definition of “God” they’re comfortable with.

    But I think it’s mistaken to think that, by blending in, the atheist is somehow going to smooth things over in the long run, increasing the social harmony and thereby helping atheism become accepted into the mainstream. I suspect it’s more likely to have the opposite effect — marginalize us even more.

    The problem isn’t that atheists are going to be “sticklers” and insist that there’s only one ‘right’ way to define God, and that’s not it. The problem is that, for the vast majority of the population, God really does mean one thing: a personal supernatural force imbuing the universe with moral significance. And we do not believe in that.

    Nor do we believe in belief. By that I mean, we do not think that it is very important, and a sign of good character, to have faith in supernatural forces or a universe somehow fundamentally grounded in magic. If we did think that, then it seems to entail that the careful application of rational skepticism to the question of God’s existence is a sign of bad character, a slack falling off of discipline, a lack of love and sensitivity.

    This is the argument they make to each other, and it’s the one they don’t want us to defend against by giving our reasons, because trying to take away people’s faith is “divisive” and “mean.”

    Your suggestion has been tried by a lot of atheists, and I really don’t think it has worked well. By doing what amounts to playing games with the words, we’re simply adding to the chorus that believes in belief, and undermining our own position as viable and respectable. If the average theist in the US really did see the words “In God We Trust” or “Under God” as similar to “oyez, oyez the court is in session” then I could see going along with it as a bit of ‘ceremonial Deism.’ But virtually every argument against considering atheists as respectable citizens spits those phrases in our face.

    They say: “Atheists are not patriots: WE are one nation UNDER GOD. In God WE trust. If you don’t believe in God, then you’re not part of the “we” of the nation. You don’t belong. This place is not for you. You’re like someone who advocates the divine right of kings yet takes advantage of the Constitution. The divine right of King God is what makes the Constitution make sense! It’s where it gets its authority! “We, the people” believe in God.

    We don’t start that fight. They do. Again and again and again.

    I understand your argument, but I think that ‘blending in’ will only drive atheism further underground, into the realm of the unspeakable and unthinkable. It will marginalize us even further, as an unamerican position. They’re not going to be fooled by word games.

    It’s a bit like telling a gay person to tell people they’re “straight” and “heterosexual” — because those words are flexible enough that they can mean one thing — and so what if other people think you mean something else more traditional. People won’t be bothered, and you’ll pass as normal. Act straight in public.

    So no. While we can find a definition which allows us to “get along,” the problem isn’t semantic purity: it’s clarity in relationships with others. We atheists don’t want to “pass” as Theists for the sake of social harmony. We want atheism to be considered a normal part of the social harmony, on its own terms.

  205. #205 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Walton – My objection to the Battle Hymn of the Republic is that it is a bloody, god soaked old rag that in it’s hey-day was seen by many people as a terrorist anthem.
    The music may be soaring, but the words are godly gloating.

  206. #206 Zadius
    November 1, 2008

    #194,

    It DOES hurt her reputation though, because many people in NC are probably anti-atheist bigots. Atheism doesn’t have to be objectively bad for her reputation to be harmed. Think about it, if atheism didn’t harm a person’s reputation then there would be no atheists in the closet.

  207. #207 Bill Dauphin
    November 1, 2008

    I’ve truly been enjoying the back-and-forth on the question of whether hating atheists is the same kind of bad as hating blacks or gays or a different kind of bad, but now that we’re in the electoral homestretch, I’ll be busy with campaign stuff right through ’til the polls close (8:00 pm EST here in CT) on Tuesday.

    And then I’m going to spend Wednesday either sleeping off a great party or trying to research Canada and New Zealand’s immigration rules through my tears. Either way, by the time I get back here, I’m sure this thread will be “dead, Jim.”

    I just didn’t want anyone to think I’d wimped out on a line of discussion I started. I’ll catch y’all next time….

  208. #208 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Oh sure Bill, you just don’t want to endure the final agonizing days with Scott and Walton. See how you are! ;o)

  209. #209 SkepticalPoet
    November 1, 2008

    Zadius (206): It DOES hurt her reputation though…

    Among anti-atheist bigots yes, but it’s not clear that this is the community standard in NC these days. Dole is already down in the polls following these ads, particularly in the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) and Charlotte. So I’m still hopeful that there are enough reasonable people in NC to see this for what it is. But even if a majority of Tar Heels are moral midgets, suing for libel on that basis is just moral cowardice.

  210. #210 arachnophilia
    November 2, 2008

    The way you could convert us is by actually presenting that evidence.

    as i see it, there are two options. would you rather christians be nice to you and actually treat you with the love and respect their messiah commanded them to? or would you rather they treated you like slime?

    while the first probably wouldn’t convince you that you should believe in their god, it also probably isn’t doing nearly as much damage to their message as the second option.

  211. #211 Peter
    November 2, 2008

    Nick Gotts wrote:

    > Interesting point, but I’m not sure it’s correct. Quite a few American atheists (notably but not exclusively “libertarians” and Randbots) have retained the exceptionalism while dropping the god-belief.

    Yep, but I doubt that they’re touchy about atheism. I’m not a fan of exceptionalists, but the ones who are reasonably secure in themselves are probably not so bad. It’s the ones who need to keep on reassuring themselves of it that are annoying, and that’s almost all of the ones who get heard.

    I can’t see any other reason why people who profess a creed of love would carry so much fear and loathing around with them unless its based on fear, and fear of something cutting in at a pretty deep level. How does someone else being an atheist, and only saying so when asked, inspire such fear? I really think its because that belief threatens the Christian’s foundation. But note that this is a particularly American trait: I’ve never known Christians from anywhere else be so fascist about the need for others to comply.

    Walton wrote:

    > So could you (atheists, secular humanists, etc.) not, for yourselves and from a personal standpoint, redefine “God” in this context to signify either (a) a deistic or (b) a purely symbolic concept, rather than the conventional literal/theistic concept of God?

    No, absolutely not. The atheist point of view is simply this: start with an empty page of no beliefs; add to that page only beliefs for which there is supporting evidence; believe in them to the extent that the evidence supports them; remain open to new evidence. Do not add other random beliefs. (God is the first victim of Ockham’s Razor, which is ironic given that Ockham was a priest.)

    You suggest that we affirm that we believe in something which we don’t. That compels us to lie. You want us to lie about our beliefs so that you can not have your feathers ruffled? You seem to mean well, but do you really think that’s reasonable? I find it offensive. It’s also contrary to the the constitution of the United States of America.

    Mind you, the world would be a lot more peaceful if we could just get the Christians, Jews and Muslims to change their own affirmations, to something like “some vaguely defined deity which might not be a real God, maybe just a conceptual first cause, might have created the world and us in it, although it might not have…”

  212. #212 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    Similarly, in Britain we sing “God save our gracious Queen”. – Walton

    No, Walton, “we” don’t. Only lickspittles like you.

    You want atheists to lie in the interests of “social harmony and unity”, yet you support extreme differences in wealth, private education and health care so the toffs don’t have to mix with the proles, etc. I really don’t think you’ve thought this “libertarian conservatism” thing through, Walton.

  213. #213 clinteas
    November 2, 2008

    At some point I would really like someone to explain to me the term “libertarian”,is that something like “evolutionist” ?

  214. #214 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    clinteas! Are you mad, man? Don”t you recognise that’s an open invitation to every “libertarian” loon in existence to bore us all senseless with endless screeds of ludicrous drivel? PZ, please remove clinteas’ post, stat!

  215. #215 clinteas
    November 2, 2008

    Nick,

    well,

    Don”t you recognise that’s an open invitation to every “libertarian” loon in existence to bore us all senseless with endless screeds of ludicrous drivel?/blockquote>

    I was kinda thinking that that was already happening,therefore my curiosity as to what the term actually means…..

  216. #216 Iain Walker
    November 2, 2008

    Walton (#202):

    Yet I know many atheists who are perfectly comfortable with the UK national anthem despite not believing in a literal God.

    Some of us, however, dislike it for more compelling reasons, such as the fact that it’s one of the most stultifyingly banal national anthems ever devised. It’s like a nursery rhyme, only without the wit and charm. I’ve always refused to stand for it, let alone sing the fucking thing, on aesthetic grounds alone.

    “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” would be a far better example of an anthem which is (a) God-referencing, and (b) uplifting enough to actually merit being called an anthem.

    And “Jerusalem”‘s OK, I suppose.

  217. #217 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    As for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, it’s a stirring tune, but (despite some quibbles) I much prefer the Wobblies’ lyrics to it:

    When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
    There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
    Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
    But the union makes us strong.

    CHORUS:
    Solidarity forever,
    Solidarity forever,
    Solidarity forever,
    For the union makes us strong.

    Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
    Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
    Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
    For the union makes us strong.

    It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
    Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
    Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
    But the union makes us strong.

    All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
    We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
    It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
    While the union makes us strong.

    They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
    But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
    We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
    That the union makes us strong.

    In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
    Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
    We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
    For the union makes us strong.

  218. #218 Emmet Caulfield
    November 2, 2008

    I’ve truly been enjoying the back-and-forth on the question of whether hating atheists is the same kind of bad as hating blacks or gays or a different kind of bad,

    My 2 worth is that “hating [group1]” is much the same kind of bad as “hating [group2]“, summed up in the axiom “Don’t hate in the plural”. Plural hatred is at the core of all atrocities, the grouping of people into a hated “them” and the consequent denial of the individual and his/her fundamental rights.

    Saying “I hate atheists/gays/blacks/Jews” are as bad as each other, but ideas/beliefs can be sharply criticised, even ridiculed, in a manner that the belief-holder finds offensive without espousing an evil plural hatred. The same cannot be said for being black or gay. There is no belief/idea to be criticised. This is the point that flew over the heads of the angry Catholics here, and on YouTube, during CrackerGate.

    Personally, I can easily see how criticism of ideology can become group hatred, I can see how the two can be confused by sloppy thinking and sloppier rhetoric, but I don’t see how a moderately reasonable person can conflate the two such that s/he fails to see the distinction.

  219. #219 black wolf
    November 2, 2008

    I shamelessly quotemined a comment at Hagan’s blog. This unintentional omission of one word by the commenter was just too funny to not reproduce here:

    “I am also a Sunday School teacher and from what I have learned in the Bible, Christ ate and visited non-believers. So, does that make Him a horrible person.”

  220. #220 Peter
    November 2, 2008

    I’m hesitant to post this, but sometimes your voting bloc just isn’t important. I mean, how many here are pissed off and would vote for Hagan anyway just to make Dole lose? The most effective way for small, politically unimportant, stepped-upon minority groups to get the Man to sit up and take notice is to riot. That’s right, riot. They take you seriously once they realize how pissed off you are. Just look at how well the Stonewall riots worked.

    Of course that’s probably not going to happen, so flinging an Internet shitstorm at the TV bigots is the more realistic way to change things. Let’s do that.

  221. #221 Sondra
    November 2, 2008

    I too was disappointed that Hagan didn’t say “so what, they are my constituents too” but I’m guessing she responded the way she did because the christianist base would best understand it that way; after all, the attack was directed at a certain group of religious people.

    Obama, Biden and even the Governator Arnold all came out very strongly in opposition to the horrible prop. 8 in California and called it what it is – discrimination.

    One day soon we will swing back to a more normal political atmosphere and we will once again stop mixing religion and politics I hope. For those of you who are too young to remember, we used to think the religious wingnuts were fringe crazies and didn’t want anything to do with them.

    That was way back in the old days – very old – like before Bush I. and all the way back to the Founding Fathers.

  222. #222 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 2, 2008

    The most effective way for small, politically unimportant, stepped-upon minority groups to get the Man to sit up and take notice is to riot. That’s right, riot.

    Rioting-the unbeatable high
    Adrenalin shoots your nerves to the sky
    Everyone knows this town is gonna blow
    And it’s all gonna blow right now:.

    Now you can smash all the windows that you want
    All you really need are some friends and a rock
    Throwing a brick never felt so damn good
    Smash more glass
    Scream with a laugh
    And wallow with the crowds
    Watch them kicking peoples’ ass

    But you get to the place
    Where the real slavedrivers live
    It’s walled off by the riot squad
    Aiming guns right at your head
    So you turn right around
    And play right into their hands
    And set your own neighbourhood
    Burning to the ground instead

    [Chorus]
    Riot-the unbeatable high
    Riot-shoots your nerves to the sky
    Riot-playing into their hands
    Tomorrow you’re homeless
    Tonight it’s a blast

    Get your kicks in quick
    They’re callin’ the national guard
    Now could be your only chance
    To torch a police car

    Climb the roof, kick the siren in
    And jump and yelp for joy
    Quickly-dive back in the crowd
    Slip away, now don’t get caught

    Let’s loot the spiffy hi-fi store
    Grab as much as you can hold
    Pray your full arms don’t fall off
    Here comes the owner with a gun

    The barricades spring up from nowhere
    Cops in helmets line the lines
    Shotguns prod into your bellies
    The trigger fingers want an excuse
    Now

    The raging mob has lost its nerve
    There’s more of us but who goes first
    No one dares to cross the line
    The cops know that they’ve won

    It’s all over but not quite
    The pigs have just begun to fight
    They club your heads, kick your teeth
    Police can riot all that they please

    Tomorrow you’re homeless
    Tonight it’s a blast

  223. #223 Patricia
    November 2, 2008

    Kay Hagan got ripped a new one on Free Thought Radio today. August, Schilling, et al flat out let her have it. And I agree with them. She totally let us down.
    She caved to the christian voters, when she could have stood up and said, I am happy to receive the support of ALL of my constituents, I represent all of the voters of my state.
    But nooooooooo, she had to bravely turn and run away. Sow.

  224. #224 SEF
    November 3, 2008

    @ #193 (and #211)

    exceptionalism – the belief that America is superior … God’s chosen nation … why America is successful and why it’s OK to enjoy that success. … an intoxicating part of what it means to Be An American

    I really think its because that belief threatens the Christian’s foundation. But note that this is a particularly American trait

    It isn’t really peculiar to Christians nor to Americans though. I think the common factor is meritlessness seeking some easy group-referred fake merit – and then being scared of losing that comfort-blanket and getting very angry in trying to defend their indefensible claim.

    While America provides plenty of examples of RWAs (as noted by Bob Altemeyer), the BBC is a classic example of the same thing in LWAs (as half-noticed by Antony Jay, especially p11-12). There’s a parallel between bad people in America, pretending that criticism of Bush/GOP/Christianity is anti-American (unpatriotic etc), and at the BBC, pretending (eg right now during Brand/Ross-gate!) that criticism only comes from people who are anti-BBC (and who are conveniently mischaracterised and demonised as enemies and destroyers) rather than (ie as is actually the case) from those who’d like the BBC to be a force for good instead of evil (and who can recognise the bad’uns inside it for what they are).

    Those who lack individual merit think of their membership in America, Christianity, the BBC etc as providing magical group-referred merit. They can imagine themselves to be good just by being American, Christian, BBC staff etc. They don’t have to do anything themselves to earn respect. Any criticism of some aspect of the group is a threat to their undeserved, ego-stroking comfort. And those in power in the group push the complementary message that any attack on them is an attack on the group (and hence on the hanger-on’s security-blanket).

    Whereas those with genuine personal merit can take more of a “think not of what your country can do for you but of what you can do for your country” view and regard themselves as adding value to whatever group they might join and hence want each chosen group to aspire to those same higher standards; the meritless rely solely on the group to make them look good and hence react very aggressively against anyone noticing that they and it are not good. Accurate observation is a threat to the maintenance of their pretence and self-image. They can’t afford anyone expressing the truth lest others, and even they themselves, might be forced to notice (and act on) it.

    The “all criticism is bad” is a standard message which the meritless have to sell to themselves and others in order to avoid (both themselves and others) noticing their meritlessness and hence remain comforted and in positions of power. The authoritarian followers need the “attack my group = attack me” component and the authoritarian leaders need the “attack me = attack my group” one. It is largely irrelevant whether the grouping is a nation, a religion or any other big organisation. It’s all about where the meritless have invested their whole sense of self-worth and false self-image.

    Loyalty is a vice. Without loyalty, good people would still support good whether it occurred within or without some given group but they’d also oppose evil from either direction. Whereas with loyalty, weakly good people can be persuaded to support evil from within and oppose good from without.

  225. #225 SEF
    November 3, 2008

    PS The need to stress MENSA membership, as is occurring in the “She’s baaaack…” thread, is just another example of the same thing. People who are secure in their own intelligence (one type of merit) don’t need to be members of MENSA, they just get on with using (and hence demonstrating) that ability in their own right.

    MENSA actually has quite low standards of entry because it needs to get its membership (and hence money) from the less intelligent and less secure people – the relatively meritless who are seeking that fake group-referred merit. It is important to MENSA leaders to have lowish standards, so as to acquire enough low-quality followers to exist as a group at all, but to pretend to have high standards, in order to get those followers to invest their sense of self-worth in the group and act as attack dogs – promoting and preserving that (partly) false self-image.

  226. #226 llewelly
    November 3, 2008
  227. #227 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 3, 2008

    That’s a fairly weak response from the Hagan people. It would hold a lot more weight if it was made more public than only on an Atheist website.

    That and I still don’t think she has come out to say that she was wrong in her response.

  228. #228 truth machine, OM
    November 3, 2008

    That’s a fairly weak response from the Hagan people

    Well, it’s the same sort of response that a number of people here have offered. And even if it’s a fairly weak response, that’s a very weak reason to view Hagan as just as bad as Dole and say “a pox of them all”. That is incredibly stupid and I have said so in every other political context, quoting Voltaire’s statement that the best is the enemy of the good. On this issue, PZ is as stupid as people voting for Nader rather than Obama; he’s as stupid as Scott of Oregon, who uses the same sorts of “pox” arguments while ignoring all the differences that do exist between the candidates. And aside from all the other issues where Hagan is preferable to Dole, she’s also preferable on the atheist issue. Here’s a clue: Elizabeth Dole would never ever ever have written the sort of response that Hagan wrote. That means that, regardless of how weak Hagan is, Dole is much weaker. Elections are choices and one must make comparisons rather than absolute judgments; to do the latter is utterly irrational.

    There is so much bad reasoning here. For instance,

    “#15 At present we must choose the lesser of two evils. After that, again the lesser, etc. etc”

    No this is a recipe for perpetual marginalization. As long as one party (often the Dems) can ‘count’ on us to hold our nose and support them, they won’t give a damn about our position or concerns. It’s only when they realize that in treating us like dirt they are risking the election, will they start to pay attention.

    Don’t sell your vote so cheaply.

    This is ludicrous. If Hagan loses, no one other than perhaps a few idiots here will claim that she lost because atheists withheld their votes. The explanation that will most often be put forth will be that Christians didn’t vote for her, because of Dole’s ad. Duh. So, no politician anywhere will ever think “Hey, I’d better care about atheists’ concerns, because ignoring them caused Kay Hagan to lose”. That’s a very irrational fantasy.

    If you want to get politicians to pay attention to atheists’ concerns, you have to do it through the usual techniques such as writing letters and editorials and lobbying (send money to the Secular Values Coalition, which maintains lobbyists in Washington). This idea of selling your vote cheaply is utter nonsense that has nothing to do with reality. Vote for the (viable) candidate who is closest to your positions in toto — that’s what’s rational.

  229. #229 John Morales
    November 4, 2008

    truth machine,

    [a fairly weak response from the Hagan people] is a very weak reason to view Hagan as just as bad as Dole and say “a pox of them all”.

    I think you misrepresent PZ’s post.

    Looking at the first paragraph, I see

    I really regret ever recommending Kay Hagan. That race has taken a turn from a vivid example of anti-atheist bigotry on Dole’s side, to one where all sides are taking turns bashing the godless to wash off the taint of association with us subhumans with no faith.

    That first sentence is his point, the rest of the paragraph, and indeed the post, is explanation.

    The subject of the pox, “them all”, is clearly “all sides” in the race, and the reason they are poxworthy is that they are “taking turns bashing the godless to wash off the taint of association with us subhumans with no faith.”.

    I really don’t see how you infer that PZ is claiming that “Hagan [seems] just as bad as Dole”.

  230. #230 Peter
    November 4, 2008

    I wrote at #193 and #211 that the loathing of atheists stems from Exceptionalism, the belief that that Exceptionalism has been granted by God, and a fear that if the atheists are right then that foundation is invalid. I wrote that this was “a particularly American trait”.

    SEF@224 picked up on this comment and quite correctly showed that the basic mechanism (insecurity leading to persecution) is universal, not American.

    Just to be clear, I was saying that the passionate distrust and loathing of atheists by the dominant culture is an American trait. I have travelled through 23 countries, and lived in 4; those 4 have 3 different languages. I have never come across anything like the mentality of Public America on this subject. The comments made in the mainstream American media are unimaginable in other Western countries.

    Yes, there are insecure tribes all over, and the more they have invested in their puffed-up image the more they’ll persecute anyone who threatens to burst their bubble.

    But why is it that so many American Christians have such a big and fragile bubble, and why do atheists seem so prickly to them? I say it’s that they’ve tied Exceptionalism and Christianity together.

  231. #231 SEF
    November 4, 2008

    insecurity leading to persecution

    Make that: “persecution complex”. It’s not the real deal at all but instead a false and deliberately contrived illusion/delusion of being persecuted (in order to avoid having to face and address the reality of the situation – viz that they are trying to defend an indefensibly wrong and even evil position).

  232. #232 SEF
    November 4, 2008

    the more they’ll persecute anyone who threatens to burst their bubble.

    At least that one’s reading the right way round! However, their pretence of taking offence does not always then lead to a direct offensive persecution-style attack by them on the inconvenient truth-teller. Sometimes their response is purely defensive – ie just giving themselves an excuse to ignore the validity of the truth-teller’s criticism of their beliefs and behaviour.

  233. #233 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 4, 2008

    And even if it’s a fairly weak response, that’s a very weak reason to view Hagan as just as bad as Dole and say “a pox of them all”

    I don’t disagree at all and I don’t consider her nearly as bad as Dole. Dole is an ineffectual jackass whose intent in this particular incident is blatantly obvious. Where Hagan, IMHO, dropped the ball and in doing so fed into the exact prejudices Dole was pushing. But as I’ve said before, I’m even more critical of people who I would normally support. I am from NC and would have voted for Hagan this morning with little reluctance taking the election as a whole. My mother who is the most politically active person I’ve ever met and knows Hagan personally was disgusted by her reaction, but also understands the context. She voted for Hagan this morning as well.

  234. #234 SEF
    November 4, 2008

    why is it that so many American Christians have such a big and fragile bubble

    I’d say it’s because they’re a relatively young “culture” that has managed to remain relatively isolated (from the rest of the world and reality in general) – just the same as the muslims (much as fundamentalist Christians tend to hate the accuracy of that comparison!). They haven’t had the corners forcibly knocked off them by extended enforced contact with neighbours (especially where they were unable to kill all opposition or had greater cause to learn to co-operate and co-exist). They’re the cultural equivalent of privileged and unsocialised toddlers to teenagers – emotional, irrational brats.

    Older cultures are necessarily more civilised (through equalised power and enlightened self-interest). The Jews, when outnumbered nomads, learned to be pragmatic. The English have a long-standing sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humour (which some American immigrants have learned to like). Unfortunately, the UK has been copying the worst of US tendencies (and TV!) in raising recent generations. Giving the Jews an Israel they had never genuinely owned nor merited has made lots of them behave badly too.

  235. #235 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 4, 2008

    I am from NC and would have voted for Hagan this morning with little reluctance taking the election as a whole.

    that didn’t come out right. Should read

    I am originally from NC and would have ….

    I live in SC now.

  236. #236 Anon
    November 4, 2008

    Called. Hagan wins.

  237. #237 Peter
    November 5, 2008

    > Make that: “persecution complex”.

    Make that both. Persecution in that atheists are the least trusted demographic in America. Persecution complex in that when an atheist quite legitimately sought to free his daughter from being compelled to utter the words one nation “under God”, the Christian machine interpreted it all as someone trying to take their freedom away from them.

  238. #238 A non-ymouse
    December 19, 2008


    Make that: “persecution complex”. It’s not the real deal at all but instead a false and deliberately contrived illusion/delusion of being persecuted (in order to avoid having to face and address the reality of the situation – viz that they are trying to defend an indefensibly wrong and even evil position).

    ## All too true :(

    A few ideas on this, from an RC (just in case anyone asks)

    What’s described is characteristic of the Fundamentalist outlook – which is immune to any reasoning but its own :( Fundy truth is what is true for its own purposes: which is why it is impossible to demonstrate error in the Bible (to Prot Fundies) or doctrinal contradictions (to RC Fundies). Fundamentalism is not religious, but political – the outlook of the Soviet Presidium, of the Vatican, of Prot Fundamentalism, of Russian Orthodoxy, is basically the same: they all contructed their own universe of meaning, & it has no room for dissenting voices. Alternatives are not heard & then rejected – they are rejected out of hand, *because* they are all alternatives; because they do not come from Fundamentalism, don’t serve it, are not controllable by it.

    So *anyone* who differs, & is not part of the Fundy group, but is an outsider, is a “persecutor” – even when Fundamentalism stomps on the “persecutor” like King Kong on the loose in Manhattan stomping on Charles Grodin in the 1976 remake. Fundamentalism still has its persecution complex despite stomping on the “enemy”: because “outsiders”
    - unless they join the Cause *on the Cause’s terms* – can count only as its enemies. Friendly ecumenical overtures are not good enough – they don’t go all the way to uncritical acceptance of the Party Line: therefore, they count as unfriendly – all the more so, for not being obviously hostile. This is an ideological outlook through & through.

    Why are those groups the same in outlook ? IMHO, because RCism, Russ Orthodoxy, Sov Communism, Hitlerism, are or were total societies: wwhat’s total, includes all there is: so if anything claims to exist outside it, that thing is a standing denial of the Total Society, so it must be eliminated, to make the TS safe. *Untermenschen* have no part in the Nazi Volk – so they must be exterminated. Heretics in the Church, RCs in Holy Russia, “Liberal” Biblical critics in the Fundamemtalist Churches, none have a place in the perfect, pure, final society that is the goal of history. They infuriate, because they exist even so: because they are a blasphemy against the Cause’s Truth.

    Why are all of these Total Societies ? Because they are all forms of the Kingdom of God, are all Chosen Peoples, are all led by a Great Teacher/Dispenser of Salvation/Saviour from the world of everyday experience, all depend on a Chosen Leader, who is chosen by god/destiny/historical process. Hitler’s 1000-year Reich is the Hitlerite edition of the 1000-year kingdom of Revelation 20. Hitler is the Word made Aryan, a Teutonic Jesus for the 20th century, complete with Apostles, martyrs, doctrine, Spirit, persecution, martyrdom, & miracles. (If that’s not deeply offensive, it ought to be.)

    On Prot Fundy grounds, the Bible can be seen as prophesying the coming of Adolf Hitler – why not ? It is faith only that insists that Jesus of Nazareth is meant – historically, Jesus is nobody very much: it is faith that sees Him as the King of the Universe & Conqueror of sin & the devil; history can’t make these claims. But it *can* supply evidence for the Coming of Hitler to redeem, save, & rule the Chosen German People.

    IOW, they are Messianic, Hitler as much as Christ or the Pope or whoever. All are infallible, even when they ditch previous infallible utterances – Mother Church & The Party are always right, even when they are (to the eyes of unbelievers & blasphemers) wrong. For truth is what serves them: whats unbelievers call invasion, is really, to the Fundy eye of faith, liberation. What unbelievers call bigotry & intolerance & hate, is really love; so Fundamentalism degrades basic moral insights too.

    Sorry about length :o

  239. #239 hery
    January 26, 2010

    What you think or believe is under your control, but who you are at birth is not

  240. #240 hery
    January 26, 2010

    also used to pretend I was a space explorer and my cat was my co-pilot

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