Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The bus-banner campaign we really need

Dave the Happy Singer, one of the stalwart Australian AXP fan contingent, has just launched a site that, so far, has nothing on it but this.

Which I happen to think is a fine, fine sentiment and not the least bit militant. I mean, we already know that the Christians get all hot under the collar when they see a really threatening atheist message. So I think something a little more even-tempered ought to be just the thing. I don't know what else Dave plans for this charming little graphic, although coughcoughtshirtscough I could probably think of an idea or two.

Oh, here's another helpful message from Dave. He's just full of them!


  1. Dave the "Happy Singer" regularly appears on the Skeptics in the Pub portion of the Podcast - The SkepticZone (http://skepticzone.tv/). It is a product of the Richard Saunders and friends of the Australian Skeptics. Always a good listen and can be used to fill your iPod until the non-prophets return.

  2. the image doesn't show in the blog but the link works fine.

  3. I am a big fan of the original atheist bus campaign in the UK, I am glad it made an impact and a necessary controversy. I think the problem in the US is that could create riots, since much milder messages have already been controversial.

  4. Speaking of t-shirts Martin. It has been over a year me thinks.

  5. God, I am so glad atheists are open to intelligent conversation, nothing like making your argument, through telling people to shut up. I hope you atheist aren't offended when people say the same to you...but of course you are because the "double standard" is the godfather of Atheism.

  6. leo-rcc: Buh! Yes, because I fail at mailing things! Okay, send me your name via the TV show email, and I'll check the list, and shoot it off this afternoon.

    Philosopher's Mess: Awww, because you know, it's not at all offensive to atheists to be told we deserve to be tortured for eternity, we shouldn't be allowed to hold public office, etc. etc. because we aren't into believing in invisible magic sky daddy! How mean it is to tell Christians to shut up about crap like that. Cue the violins!

  7. So Martin your very passive aggressive response, is oh so what they do it too? Glad to see the atheist community taking the higher moral ground, gezz its not like this retaliatory, "eye for and eye" is ever criticized by the atheist as an example of bad religion...oh wait?

  8. And further because it makes me so mad, your basically in agreement with the Fundamentalist Christian caller, who says "well all them Muslims should be killed, because they say we should be killed." Bad ethics are bad ethics, what someones does to us, doesn't justify our bad responses.

  9. Grow up, you pathetic little infant. If you're too stupid to tell the difference between "shut up" and "you should be killed!", then no wonder you're getting mad and having such a hard time here. That's what you get for trying to fight above your weight class, dude.

    You're officially in troll territory now. Which means you need a little time-out to collect yourself. Try praying to your invisible friend. I'm told believers find that peaceful.

  10. Philosopher's Mess is hilariously unintentionally self descriptive.

  11. @ Bad Philosopher.

    I'm pretty sure the T-shirt is a joke on how X-ians accuse the "Don't believe in god you're not a lone" campaign to be offensive.

    Is that really hard to see?

  12. Hi again, I have been reprimanded and I will play nice. Yes-Martin I agree there is a difference between saying "shut up" and advising murder. My point was that telling someone to "shut up" because they have a differing view or you think their "daft", is a similar "us vs. them" logic that I observe in other harmful groups...

  13. PM: Yes, it can be that way. But then, you can think of it as an example of "you get what you give," or giving folks back a taste of their own medicine. The theistic majority has historically been abusive to the non-religious. For instance, the most recent example of "shutting up" atheists is taking place in Asheville, NC, where the city council there is trying to oust Cecil Bothwell for being an atheist. The US Constitution clearly prohibits religious tests for public office, and though several states have old laws on their books like this (like Texas), it has been pointed out that they rarely enforce them because they'd be successfully challenged on Constitutional grounds. It's clear that the council members trying to oust Bothwell are only doing so because of his atheism, and not his job performance (he was only elected last month), so they've found a "shut up the atheists" law and are trying to make it work for them. It's fairly naked prejudice.

    So, could you say that responding to abuse by dishing some out yourself is not the way to take the moral high ground? Sure you could. But people are people, and atheists shouldn't be expected to be emotionless little Spocks all their lives. If you push against a group of people long enough, don't be surprised if and when the pushback comes.

    And a goofy graphic on a web page is really a mild response, comparatively. I think if atheists in this country started trying to bar people from jobs and public office for being theists, then you'd certainly have grounds to protest we're "no better than they are." Mockery on websites? Meh. That's small beer.

  14. I agree with what Martin writes about there being a larger history of oppression against the non-religious, and I agree that one graphic doesn't amount to too much, but I just wonder where we draw the line and I wonder if we don't draw a line early and say "we will not mimic the behavior of the oppressor", will we ever be able to stop the behavior when it does become more commonplace?

    It seems atheism has only spent a brief time in the public arena of ideas, and I just wonder are its supporters doing it any favors when they present such a face? It seems, right or wrong, a lot of people have a bad opinion about what an "atheist" is, so wouldn't "bad behavior" exaggerate these misconceptions?

    Or is it more the fact that people's attitude towards atheism are going to be whatever they are, and so it doesn't really matter what atheist do either way?

    One last thing, it seems speaking of atheist as an "oppressed group" through history is kind of tricky, because different places have treated non-belief differently.

    I guess the question I have is there any difference in severity between other types of oppression like, oppression based on sex or race, and oppression based on an idea, like atheism? Oppression just seems a more systematized concept, while "oppression" against Atheists seems more selective, and less systematic? I mean surely the oppression of the Jim Crow South is vastly different than the forms of "oppression" atheist currently suffer? Or am I way off?

  15. Well, I'd never try to claim that the atheist experience, as it were, can be compared (at least in recent times) to the plight of African slaves before the Civil War or anything. And it's also the case that, religion dealing as it does with matters like mortal sin and punishment in eternal hell, religious people have been trained -- so to speak -- to think of those outside the fold as hellbound sinners, which bypasses the whole process of getting to know them as people (a situation that almost always makes people temper their prejudices, unless they're so far gone they're just past the point of no return).

    Because of this, atheists in the present day find it very frustrating to see that even the most innocuous communication from an atheist (such as that billboard I linked to back when we were snarking at each other) as "militant" and threatening. The billboard was a simple outreach to other believers with a completely inoffensive "you are not alone" message. And yet wherever it appears, Christians have flipped out over it. As another example, consider how Dawkins is almost always described as "militant" and "Darwin's rottweiler," when in fact he's a very soft-spoken gentleman whose only crime as I see it is to state openly "I am an atheist" and then explain himself. That alone is viewed as an act of great temerity.

    So yes, this is what does often result in some folks flying their "angry atheist" flag. Being human, I myself have gotten angry many times. But when I do, I try to channel that through humor (as I see Dave's little banner), while my more serious activism (through the show, blog, etc.) is something I take a little more seriously in the interests of communicating positive atheism, i.e. you can be good and live well without gods and rituals. Doesn't mean tempers don't get frayed or arguments don't happen, but everything about the process is an education to me.

  16. "To me these are totally unfounded claims, that don't really mean anything at all, but get there power through mocking, much like the rest of you atheist babble."

    Ok, I'm still missing the point where you say the above...and now think that without comment you can pretend like you've been a rational debater the whole time?

    "agree with what Martin writes about there being a larger history of oppression against the non-religious, and I agree that one graphic doesn't amount to too much, but I just wonder where we draw the line and I wonder if we don't draw a line early and say "we will not mimic the behavior of the oppressor", will we ever be able to stop the behavior when it does become more commonplace?"

    We? We draw the line? Don't you mean where do "YOU" draw the line? I hate to be pedantic but ...that's a major language trick if you're trying to be friendlier by sounding inclusive that's a bit dishonest given your previous statements. At this point I really don't see what else can be said about you save "Concern Troll is concerned".

  17. Philosopher's mess:
    There is apparently no way to express our opinions about Religions and Gods without offending religious people. Some of them are even using this 'you're offensive" to try to pass laws to silence any dissenting opinion. This scares the crap out of us non believers and it should scare you too. This is one of the many reasons we feel the need to be so vocal.

    It should be pointed out (maybe it has, sorry Martin I didn't read your entire reply) that the real purpose of these messages is to illustrate that the public messages, and more specifically the bus campaign, are not as strident or offensive as religion spokespersons claim they are.
    The point is easily made by contrasting the "Happy singer" statement to the actual statement that was made on the buses, doesn't the bus ad seem a bit less offensive?

    The media has tried to make a big fuss about how this 'was meant to provoke Christians and attack their beliefs' when in fact, had this been the purpose of the bus campaign, it would have said something much closer to the 'Happy singers' statement.

  18. @Ing,when I said "we" I meant we as those reflecting upon the ethical question I was discussing. Also, I was told to alter my behavior and so I am trying to have a healthier dialogue with anyone interested...

    I have been labeled atheist repeatedly by members of this program so what would be so wrong in me assuming the we?

  19. @ Aramis I completely see your larger point, I just wonder if the justification that atheists aren't "as bad" as their believer counterparts, isn't kind of a bad ethical justification?

    This was my original point in my response, it seem to perpetuate the us vs. them mindset, and seeks more to punish than to educate and that was what I am bothered by...

  20. Philosopher's Mess:
    I don't believe I made the claim that "Atheists aren't as bad as their believer counterparts", nor would I consider it an ethical justification.
    But why would we require an 'ethical justification' to express our view or indeed to request the right to express our view?

    If you really must hear one, we express our opinion because we believe it to be correct. Furthermore we criticize believers because we believe it is unethical to either lie or to pretend to know things that can't be known. While it is probably not all believers who do this, it is certainly the vast majority of them.

  21. @armis, sorry wise friend, I went back and re-read your post, realized I had misread your eloquently rendered prose; as always all apologies.

  22. I honestly don't think the t-shirt is anywhere near the level of worrying about being worse or 'just like them'. That said, even if that were the case, so what? The point is that atheists are just like them minus god/religion. Most people even those marginably christian live atheistic lives anyway.

  23. Philosopher's Mess said...

    "God, I am so glad atheists are open to intelligent conversation, nothing like making your argument, through telling people to shut up."

    Oh, STFU.

  24. @weezgoog

    Thank you for making my point once again..."STFU", a great example of Orwell's Newspeak. I hope in the future Atheist-based perspective we can dumb down intellectual conversation so much, that we can just club each over the head with big sticks and then at least I will have an outlet for the frustation your idiodicy breeds in me...thanx for the thoughtful response BFF TTYL OMG LOL

  25. I see the real Philosopher's Mess has returned to us now.


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