Tag Archives: bigotry

Echoing An Echo: Ignorant Tight-Ass Club

B.T. Murtagh, author of QuarkScrew posted this video a while ago. He found it via girldujour. I thought it was just brilliant, and since my husband is a huge fan of The West Wing I simply had to post it here too.

Watch President Bartlet eloquently, and with keen authority, put a smug, religious talk show host in her place. As B.T. also points out, if you don’t understand the crab puff reference in the end, please see Leviticus 11:10 and Deuteronomy 14:10.


Melissa Etheridge: “Forget About My Taxes”

Melissa Etheridge is taking a powerful stand against California’s Proposition 8. She says that since she and her wife (roommate? partner?) are considered second class citizens, California can forget about their half million in state taxes.

Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

Okay, cool I don’t mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We’re gay!

The Daily Beast

I have to say that I admire Melissa’s stand, and I would love to see other celebrities and California residents get behind her on this.

[Edit to add: Thanks to John Bisceglia for providing this update in comments under this post.]

Melissa closes with this heart-warming statement:

Today the gay citizenry of this state will pick themselves up and dust themselves off and do what we have been doing for years. We will get back into it. We love this state, we love this country and we are not going to leave it. Even though we could be married in Mass. or Conn, Canada, Holland, Spain and a handful of other countries, this is our home. This is where we work and play and raise our families. We will not rest until we have the full rights of any other citizen. It is that simple, no fearful vote will ever stop us, that is not the American way.

I can’t think of a better way to follow that than to watch Melissa Etheridge perform California:

California
Melissa Etheridge

Raised up on mid-western dreams
Only a few shall get
What everyone shall need
I took my family’s burden
Strapped it to my chest
A few hundred bucks,
And a kiss for luck
And I pointed my dreams west

To California
Come rescue me
California
I am almost free

I kept on driving to the setting sun
Galaxies of angels
Welcome everyone
I took my heart out of its box
Attached it to my sleeve
Well, I will be here every night
Because that’s what I believe

In California
Come rescue me
California
I am almost free

I will find my love
I will know my peace
I will seek my truth
I am almost free
I am almost free…

I am almost free
I am almost free
I am almost free

In California
I am almost free
In California
I am almost free
(Rescue me)
California
I am almost free


Atheism: A Conscious Choice?

According to the Peninsula Clarion, hating on atheists might not be so bad. At least, not as bad as hating on Blacks or Jews because, according to the author of this piece, to be an atheist, you make a conscious choice.

Before I refute this frail little argument, I believe some history and a few acknowledgments are in order:

It came to me while reading Gawd’s Word, as I routinely do. Gawd said that some grrl had been talking smak about Him so, naturally, I had to see what that was all about. Well, GrrlScientist had posted to her blog about a letter sent to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle. The letter, sent by one Alice Shannon, called for atheists to leave the United States!

Needless to say, GrrlScientist was not at all pleased, and her response is an absolute must-read.

Apparently, there is a fair bit of controversy over the origin of the letter, but that’s not relevant to the point of this post. Somewhere along the way, the letter in question was sent to the aforementioned Peninsula Clarion.

As Snopes acknowledges, attempting to assign any kind of “true” or “false” status to letters to the editor is often tricky, because such letters are generally expressions of opinion rather than fact, and the senders of such letters are not even necessarily the original authors. Sadly, Snopes also had this to say:

Given the plenitude of e-mails we’ve received over the years expressing the very same sentiments as this letter, it (regardless of the intentions of its creator and/or sender) apparently does reflect the genuine opinions of a not insubstantial readership base.

But regardless of the letter’s origin or the intention of its author/sender(s), the following response by the Peninsula Clarion jumped out at me (emphasis mine):

In two days, we receive more than 30 letters. Some were angry with her. Some were angry with us. They said we should be ashamed of ourselves for printing it, and that we would never have done that if it were about blacks or Jews. They’re right, we wouldn’t have. However, to be an atheist, you make a conscious choice.

Oh, where to begin? I can’t possibly address all the holes in this argument but, as always, I welcome comments and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Assuming, to begin with, that atheism really is a conscious choice, which I am not prepared to concede, the author of this statement is basically saying that bigotry toward a group of people who choose their minority status is not as bad as bigotry toward people who don’t. Let’s examine this, shall we?

If atheism is a conscious choice, then theism must be as well. If people can choose their way out of theism, then by definition they can choose their way in.

So why is one kind of religious bigotry unacceptable in America while another is just fine and dandy?

Furthermore, Christianity is a conscious choice to deny all other gods and faiths. Would the Peninsula Clarion have published this letter if it had been directed at Christians, demanding that they leave the country? Not likely.

Protestants consciously choose to reject Catholicism. Catholics consciously choose to reject Mormonism. Mormons consciously choose to reject Hinduism. And so it goes.

There are many choices that people make which, if it were demanded that they leave the U.S. because of it, would no doubt be considered bigotry by mainstream society. What about interracial relationships and marriages, for example? People consciously choose to enter into those relationships. Oh sure, you can’t help who you’re attracted to, but you can certainly choose who to date and marry.

We’ve also made a lot of progress where gay couples are concerned. I’m not saying that homosexuality is a choice (although it doesn’t need that disclaimer as validation) but engaging in a same-sex relationship definitely is. And yet, it seems most people think it’s not OK to hate on gays.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

All that said, however, I’m not convinced that atheism necessarily is a conscious choice. While I made the conscious choice to begin examining my Christian faith and follow the evidence to where it lead, I don’t believe that atheism was a conscious choice for me so much as a logical conclusion. I know some would argue that I could have chosen to ignored the evidence, deny the facts and remain faithful. Of course, that only brings us right back to Christianity being a choice and the question of why it’s not OK to bash Christians, while bigotry toward atheists is alive and well in the United States.

We must also consider those atheists who never believed in any god(s). Theism is learned — we do not emerge from the womb believing in one deity or another. People are taught their religious beliefs. This is evidenced by the fact that religious practices vary greatly according to geographical locations. Many American Christians would, in fact, be Hindu had they been born in India to Indian parents, for example. Also, how many people born to Catholic parents end up Baptist, or vice versa? People generally adhere to the religion they are born into and raised to practice.

But what about those who were never taught any religion? Did they choose atheism? I submit that atheism is no more a choice to many of them than Hinduism was to me, being raised by staunch Baptists in the United States. Have they heard of Christianity or other religions? Probably. Could they choose to pursue a religious lifestyle as adults? Certainly. But, again, that brings us right back to religion being a choice and the question of why bashing religion is called bigotry while bashing atheists is not.

The argument that atheists choose their minority status and, therefore, discrimination and bigotry against them isn’t quite as bad as hatred toward other groups is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to legitimize said bigotry. It begins with a false premise, is logically inconsistent, reinforces misconceptions about atheism and attempts to excuse prejudice and hatred.

It’s ignorant, it’s shameful, and yet Americans continually and enthusiastically accept it and make excuses for it, and I am on a mission to bring awareness to this ongoing issue. I realize the article is old but the problem is definitely ongoing. I am sending a link to this post to Peninsula Clarion. You can voice your opinion here, if you’d like.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


No More Hating On Atheists?

In response to Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan’s bigotry toward atheists which went largely unnoticed, B.T. Murtagh of QuarkScrew wrote a very encouraging piece entitled Dole, Hagan And Hating On Atheists. The following excerpt is the part that I found particularly inspiring:

Remember, though, we’re only the last in the line; at one time it would have been just as easy to hate on the Jew, the Muslim, or even the Catholic here in America. In some few places that’s still somewhat the case (Muslims in particular are tempting targets today, in certain venues) but it’s become unacceptable in American society at large.

Keep your eyes on the prize. We’ll get there, if we simply keep insisting on our equality and humanity, as forcefully and insistently as did the other minorities. Given the groundwork already laid, it should be doable in decades rather than centuries.

I hope.

It wasn’t so long ago that the President George H. W. Bush refused to acknowledge the equal citizenship and patriotism of American atheists, stating:

No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

In Barack Obama’s 2006 Call To Renewal address, Obama affirms his own Christianity as well his belief in separation of church and state:

[B]ecause I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality , I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they’re some one they’re not . . . Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”


Washingtonpost.com

I share B.T. Murtagh’s hope and finally believe that hope to be well founded.


Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Troubled Thoughts Of A Godless American

I’m still very troubled over the Godless Americans ad put out by Elizabeth Dole. I’m experiencing a mixture of emotions that I’m having trouble explaining. If I don’t at least try, though, it will continue to eat at me.

I’ve always known that atheists aren’t exactly embraced in the United States. I’ve experienced the prejudice and felt the contempt before. But this time it wasn’t just some jerk down the street who won’t let her kid play at our house because my kid used the A word to describe himself. It wasn’t some stranger on the internet who thinks I don’t have the capacity to love, and doesn’t understand what stops me from stealing or killing. While all that can be very irritating, this felt much more personal, for some reason.

A politician running for elected office used an aspect of who I am as a smear against her opponent. Despite the fact that it’s been all over the news, and all sources have been very quick to point out that Kay Hagan is a good Christian, no one in the media has addressed the bigotry of the ad. This seems only to reinforce the notion that there’s something inherently wrong with being an atheist and that associating with atheists is an act of poor judgment, at best.

As if the ad and the media responses weren’t bad enough, Kay Hagan’s response was to file suit, calling the ad an “egregious and shameful mistake”. But why? What makes it worse than the onslaught of negative political ads we’ve been seeing throughout this campaign? The A word? That’s what tipped it? Palling around with atheists is somehow worse than palling around with terrorists?

That’s how this is all reads to me.

Dole’s ad has been described in the following ways: the nastiest, most egregious ad of he entire campaign, despicable, deplorable, utter filth, vile, slimy and shameful. And that’s just off the top of my head. The only challenges to this that I have seen have been on the personal blogs of atheists. This tells me that most of my fellow citizens believe that atheists really are all those things; that we are the scum of the earth, the worst of the worst.

I am finding this quite painful and difficult to take in. I am raising a child in a country full of people who will hate him because he doesn’t share their religious beliefs. It’s painful to consider the very real possibility that he might never be able to reach his full potential because of prejudice, ignorance and bigotry; because we live in a country where hating him is so commonplace that most people don’t even think to question it.

I have cried many tears over this, and I’m sure there are more to come. I’ve written to Kay Hagan and to Elizabeth Dole. I’ve written to several news networks and will continue doing so. Every time I hear this story retold with no mention of the bigotry toward atheists, I search for contact information to the show on which it was aired, and send an email. I comment on every blog I see discussing it and failing to acknowledge the bigotry. I don’t know what else to do except to keep writing about it and continue promoting others who write about it.

In Kay Hagan: The Slanderous Accusation of Atheism, Alonzo Fyfe explains why Hagan’s response to Dole’s ad is just as bigoted as the ad itself:

Hagan isn’t making the claim that atheists are Americans too and have a right to present their views to perspective political candidates. She is not saying that the fault of Dole’s advertisement is that Dole is lying and promoting bigotry and hatred. She, in effect, endorsed the hate and answered, “How dare you accuse me of not being just as bigoted against atheists as you are! You take that back!”

I encourage you to read the entire piece as well as Senator Dole’s New Anti-Atheist Advertisement in which Fyfe makes the following argument:

The fight against anti-atheist bigotry has to be our fight. The idea that we can hide behind politicians and judges forever while they do the dirty work (and pay the political price) for protecting us – while we do nothing in our own defense is as absurd as the belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old. It is a willful denial of political reality.

This doesn’t mean that we all need to march on Capitol Hill. We can all contribute in our own ways through blogging, sending emails, writing satire… Whatever it is you do, keep doing it because it really is our fight, and no one is going to fight it for us.

Edit to add: I’ve been rethinking the second post I’ve linked to here. Not that Fyfe doesn’t make some good points, but I don’t think I agree that it’s “hiding behind politicians” when we expect them to speak out against this kind of thing. I’ll post more on this later.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Godless Americans and Bigotry In the U.S.

Christians throughout the United States claim that their faith is under attack and that their religious freedom is in jeopardy. They believe they are being persecuted and discriminated against from all sides, a claim which we see on TV, hear on the radio and read on forums across the internet. Explaining that atheists in America are marginalized and one of the last remaining groups that it is socially acceptable to discriminate against has, in my experience so far, proven to be an exercise in futility.

Many of you may already be aware of the controversy surrounding Elizabeth Dole‘s “attack ad” against Kay Hagan.

In the ad, Hagan is accused of associating with Godless Americans, taking “Godless money” and even being Godless, herself.

Campbell Brown of CNN
reports:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican of North Carolina is trying to hold onto her seat in an extremely close race, and to that end, she is attacking the religious faith of her opponent, Kay Hagan.[…]

Yeah, you heard that right: “There is no God.” The only problem is Kay Hagan never said it. Never. Just a picture of her face over someone else’s audio. Kay Hagan is a member of the Presbyterian Church. She is a former Sunday school teacher.

The fundraiser the ad mentions was not hosted by the Godless American Political Action Committee. A member was one of 40 different co-hosts. Sen. John Kerry was at this fundraiser. […]

Elizabeth Dole is hardly alone here. Her ad is just one of the most egregious.

Good for you, Campbell Brown, for calling Dole out on this lie. Except… not only do you fail to recognize the implicit bigotry of the ad but you also express it yourself, calling the ad “one of the most egregious” of the campaign.

Would it be just as evil to accuse Hagan of associating with Blacks, Hispanics or Jews, for instance? Would it even be a point of discussion, much less worthy of attack, if Hagan had taken money from an organization representing the civil rights of one of these minorities?

But you’re hardly alone, Campbell Brown; your article is just one of the more bigoted.

From the Fayetteville Observer:

During a town hall meeting, a McCain supporter said she was afraid of Obama because he was an Arab. Taking the microphone from the frightened woman, McCain said her fears were unfounded, Obama is not an Arab. He’s a decent American, a family man, with whom McCain just happens to have differences.

Honesty like that has earned McCain respect from both sides of the aisles. Sen. Elizabeth Dole should take a lesson from McCain. A broadcast ad targeting her opponent, Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan, shows Dole ratcheting up her rhetoric, and probably winning the honor, so far, of fielding the nastiest, most misleading, negative ad of the campaign. Here’s part of the ad that portrays Hagan as a godless liberal:

Leaving aside for the moment that McCain’s defense of Obama was bigoted, implying that “decent” and “family man” are the opposite of “Arab”, this article goes on to call Dole’s ad “the nastiest […] negative ad of the campaign”.

I think it’s time we stop and ask ourselves why godlessness or atheism can even be used as slurs. Why is it among the nastiest, most egregious things that can be said about a person?

Something Colin Powell recently said comes to mind. In response to accusations that Barack Obama is a Muslim, Powell said this:

Well the correct answer is, ‘He’s not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian’. But the really right answer is, “What if he is?’ Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is ‘No’, that’s not America.

The same principle applies here. The factually correct answer is that Kay Hagan is not “godless”; the ethically correct answer is, “So what if she is?”.

Alex Castellano says to Wolf Blitzer of CNN:

There’s a way to make this attack. There’s a way to say, “Look, this lady goes to church, believes in god but look who she’s taking money from.” This is a question of judgment. There’s a fair way to bring up who you’re associated with. This seems to cross a line.

So it’s an act of poor judgment to associate with atheists and take money from them? You’d think we were all terrorists or something.

It’s come to a sad state of affairs in the United States of America when a particular religion or lack of religion can be used as ammunition to make an attack on someone’s character.

To any Christian in America who thinks his faith is under attack or that he is being persecuted or discriminated against, ask yourself how egregious, nasty, malicious or negative the ad would have been had it read like this:

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I’m Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message.

NARRATOR: A leader of Focus on the Family recently held a secret fund-raiser in Kay Hagan’s honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can only rely on God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesus saves!

BILL O’REILLY, HOST, “THE O’REILLY FACTOR”: The Pledge of Allegiance says “one nation under God”, you’re down with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re down with that.

O’REILLY: Our money says “In God we trust”, you’re OK with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are!

Focus on the Family and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras, took Christian money. What did Hagan promise in return?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless America!

It wouldn’t hurt at all, would it? In fact, it might even give the impression that Dole was campaigning for Hagan. Why? Because being a Christian in America is seen as virtuous and respectable. Dole’s ad has the desired effect only because atheism is perceived in the United States as something to be hated and feared; something evil, immoral and repugnant.

The prejudice and bigotry toward atheists in America is so commonplace and accepted that a politician running for elected office uses and exploits it without apology as a smear against an opponent.

Most of those decrying the ad are doing so because “Kay Hagan is so a Christian!”, while remaining oblivious to just how wrong the ad really is, and why. Not only does this go unnoticed by the media, they actually play into the idea and reinforce it; as of last night, even Keith Olbermann didn’t seem to catch on.

So, Christians, please don’t ever complain to me about how your rights and freedoms are being trodden on, or whine that you are being discriminated against, because you will get no sympathy from me.

You are extremely well represented in the United States, and I hope that Elizabeth Dole’s “egregious, nasty, negative attack ad” and all the media responses to it will help put that into perspective for you.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


National Day Of Silence: April 17, 2009

This past weekend, I wrote about a blogger who had misrepresented the purpose of the National Day of Silence.

Despite bogus claims and outright lies being promoted by various people, the Day of Silence is not about “promoting homosexuality”. It began 12 years ago when University of Virginia students wanted to find a way to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment on campus. This year, it was held in memory of Lawrence King, an 8th grade student who was murdered because of his sexual orientation.

Contrary to claims by groups like the American Family Association and the various individuals riding its coat-tails, this kind of bullying and harassment is a serious problem in schools. The purpose of the Day of Silence is to bring awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment, and to promote effective responses to it. It is not about allowing gay students to disrupt class for the day to promote a “homosexual agenda”, as the AFA would have people believe. Students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.

There is nothing on the DoS website that says everyone, or indeed anyone, is required to participate. It’s not necessarily observed throughout the entire day, and some schools only participate during lunch to avoid “disrupting” class. There is no single way to participate and no one is ever forced into participation. And yet, many people, often in the name of a superior moral agency, promote lies and misinformation about the purpose of this event, claiming that it is some kind of conspiracy to promote a “homosexual lifestyle” in public schools.

Saying that it’s not OK to bully, harass or murder someone because of his or her sexual orientation is not the same thing as promoting or honoring that sexual orientation. There is no reason that I can see to oppose the Day of Silence, other than ignorance, bigotry, and the desire to cause harm to a vulnerable group. And yet, opponents of this non-violent demonstration deluge schools with floods of angry letters and phone calls, threatening to keep their children home from school if the Day of Silence goes ahead.

This is just another form of bullying, a disgusting attempt to silence those whose opinions they dislike.

Public schools lose funding for each child that doesn’t attend school on any given day. The more students who are absent, the more funding the schools lose. This strong-arm tactic serves one purpose: to bully schools into calling off the event by threatening their funding.

The author of Mom Loves Being At Home said this in comments at her blog:

I wouldn’t expect everyone in the public school system to have a day where they honored my God if that wasn’t what they believed.

First of all, atheist students across the United States are required to participate, every single day, in a school-sponsored moment of silence, which is nothing more than a substitute for prayer. Do you oppose this ritual as well, Mom?

Most importantly, though, if bullying and harassing students because of their religious beliefs, Christian or otherwise, were a problem in our public schools, I would certainly not oppose efforts to bring awareness to the issue. In fact, I would join the effort myself and encourage my son to participate as well.

I do not approve of the Christian lifestyle. 1 I believe that it largely promotes intolerance, ignorance and bigotry; it certainly violates many of my personally-held values and principles. But it is not OK to mistreat people whose lifestyles I disapprove of, and I would fight alongside them to put a stop to it.

If your school or your child’s school is organizing a Day of Silence on April 17, 2009, I urge you to participate. Call the school or send a letter thanking them and assuring them that your child(ren) will be in attendance that day. If there is no event scheduled at your school, please read the Day of Silence FAQ to find out how you can help.


1Although I believe that Christianity largely promotes intolerance, ignorance and bigotry, I realize that not all Christians are ignorant, intolerant bigots, and I appreciate those who are educated, caring and tolerant.


Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On