So North Carolina Democratic hopeful Kay Hagan is suing Elizabeth Dole over a TV ad in the race for US Senate. I really have mixed feelings about this story. The implication is that Hagan is an atheist (or at the very least is strongly associated with atheists) and that's patently untrue as she is an elder in her Presbyterian church. But, Hagan's suit declares that "the advertisement ... injures (Hagan's) good name and reputation in the community". The Dole camp counters that this information is something that Hagan is trying to keep quiet.
See? You don't even have to be an atheist to be evil because simply being associated with atheists will injure your good name and reputation. And the discussions that I have seen on the TV news shows only add insult to injury. They argue about whether or not the ad is accurate or "smart" or whether Hagan should denounce the endorsement. It seems to have escaped every talking head that the Constitution declares that there will be no religious tests for office.
Atheism is the last frontier of open, community accepted prejudice in this county. You can turn people against someone by simply declaring "That person is an atheist!" Yet, if you tried that with virtually any other descriptor, such as "That person is a Jew!" or "That person is a woman!" or "That person is Hispanic!", any half-educated, half-enlightened citizen would wrinkle their nose, turn their head away in disgust, and rightly label you a racist or worse. But atheism? Nope. That's fair game in America, even in 2008. You can have your hate and wear it too.
So, I was thinking about what to put on the lawn to really scare the neighbors for Halloween tonight. I think I'm going to put up a big sign that says "An atheist lives here."
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Try the financial section of your paper.
Yes, being called an atheist in a political campaign does damage your reputation in North Carolina. It sucks, but it is the case and her lawsuit is correct in every detail.
Aren't at least one SBer resident in NC? I was gonna suggest coturnix as a write-in but think he isn't BITUSA. Suggestions welcome.
Whatever happened to Brad Miller?
I live in western North Carolina and would love to receive some write-in votes. Alas, I am not eligible for citizenship until March 2009.
It for for this reason that I think that what Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens are doing is a great service and not a disservice as some might suggest. Obviously we still have a long way to go, but the road to atheism being accepted as mainstream (and by mainstream I mean accepted by most people--bear in mind that there are still plenty of openly racist and/or homophobic, antisemitic, misogynistic people in this country) is paved with in your face atheism.
I gave money to Kay Hagan back when Liddy Dole started these bigoted attacks--and I still want to see her win for political reasons--but this weekend I'll be sending her a hand written, snail-mailed letter voicing my disappointment in her response to this attack.
I understand that the way she's handled this is the course that any political adviser would recommend, so it may or may not reflect her actual feelings on the subject (though I suspect it does). But that is exactly the problem! One of the goals of the new atheists is to help create a climate where politicians will find it unacceptable to debase us.
This is all very similar to the attacks against Obama where he was called a Muslim. Nobody of stature (not even Obama himself) stood up and said "Is there anything wrong with being a Muslim?" until Colin Powel did that--and quite eloquently. But Colin Powel isn't running for office, so he has nothing to lose, and so the mission of the new atheists is still far from complete.
Anyway, I'll certainly be quoting Powel in my letter to Hagan. I urge every atheist (or even theist who believes in civil rights) to do the same.
North Carolina is a shithole whose citizens elected Jesse Helms to six straight terms. Its people deserve what they get, and it now seems that they'll get either this silly, stinking bitch or one just like her. The best anyone can hope for is the next category 5 hurricane to take out the coastof that state. I'm not sure how to manage the interior, though.