Egypt from the Eyes of an Egyptian Atheist

Recently, an Egyptian atheist, wanted to share information with me regarding a link to a site for Egyptian atheists. This surprised me in light of the recent imprisonment of Alber Saber, in part, for expressing atheist views.

During that conversation, I asked, “Are you OK to be openly atheist there?”

He replied, “No, not really. I am very careful with what I say most of the time…I do get death threats sometimes, but kind of used to it… and obviously my parents don’t know about it.”

Because he is an atheist living in a country where it is unsafe to express his ideas, I volunteered to lend him my voice at this blog and on TAE. I told him to say what he wants to say, and I will make it public, because I live in a country where expression is, obviously, more tolerated. I encourage other atheists in free nations to give voices to our counterparts in gagged situations around the globe. If we can use our freedom of expression to provide a platform to those who are denied it, then it’s well used.

What follows is the message I was given to share publicly. I have corrected a few minor typos, but otherwise, this is unedited:

Egypt from the eyes of an Egyptian Atheist

This is me, writing about Egypt from the first day of January 25th 2011 Revolution till the presidential elections. Me, is an Egyptian ex-Muslim currently an atheist and had been so since I was 17. I am now 31 years old. [Read more...]

Burning Korans, drawing Mohammed, avoiding hypocrisy, creative vs. destructive protests — religion just makes the whole frickin’ world crazy!

There’s a truth about the upcoming Koran cookout planned by Dove World Church and its grandstanding (and light-fingered) pastor Terry Jones: they have every right under the Constitution to do this thing. Are they a bunch of dicks who don’t care about the potential devastating backlash of their actions as long as they get the publicity they crave? Yeah, I suppose they are.

Recently, atheists proudly participated in an online event called Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, which was as deliberate a middle finger to Islam as we could have thought up. Before that, PZ Myers famously threw a cracker in the trash, making him the bête noire of Catholics worldwide. (Though they conveniently forget that he also trashed a copy of The God Delusion at the same time.) As people who are not above acts of deliberate provocation ourselves — indeed, as people who are currently arguing amongst ourselves about the merits of “being a dick” in our encounters with religionists — it would hardly be honest of us to join the chorus of chest-beating outrage against Jones’ church for the horrible offense of burning somebody’s holy book. While most of us, I’m sure, take Fahrenheit 451 to heart and deplore book-burning on general principles as a disgraceful act of intellectual cowardice and the suppression of ideas, we should also acknowledge the legitimacy of the act as a form of protest speech. After all, I can’t very well defend the rights of flag-burners while condemning a Koran-burner. Don’t work dat way!

I suppose where the conversation ought to go from here for atheists is in whether or not Jones is motivated by a desire to conduct a legitimate form of protest, or if he’s simply a crass political opportunist, playing into a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry in order to increase his profile from “obscure pastor of an outcast hick church” to “internationally famous martyr and warrior for Christ”. Well, what is legitimate protest in this context? Yes, radical Islamists brought down the World Trade Center. But all Muslims are not radical Islamists, and all Muslims did not partake in, let alone condone, the 9/11 attacks. So if Jones’s idea is that he’s protesting Islam for 9/11, he’s clearly throwing his net way too wide. The thing is, I suppose he knows it, but doesn’t care. He’s getting the publicity he wants.

The potential for hypocrisy in criticizing the upcoming burning has been much on my mind, and I’ve been forced to think about the similarities and differences between what Jones is about to do, and, say, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. And then I’ve been forced to question whether or not any of my ideas are simply bullshit justifications I’ve been making up to feel better. I don’t think they are. But I do think it’s a positive thing, overall, that I’m willing to be self-critical. This is an advantage the godless life offers, I think, over the brazen certainties of God-botherers like Jones, who confidently assert that God (i.e., their projection of themselves upon the universe) truly wants them to do what they’re planning.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, for one thing, was on the whole a creative rather than destructive act of protest. It was a response, not only to the real Islamist violence and threats of violence that erupted in the wake of the publication of a few innocuous (and not especially good, when you think about it) cartoons, but to the arrogant assumption on the part of Islamists that non-Muslims were somehow obligated to follow Islam’s rules. Also, at the end of the day, what you had were a bunch of silly cartoons. While there was a little huffing and puffing about EDMD, in the end, the message I think got across (to the general public, if not to radicals) that taking someone’s life over a lame doodle was both insane and pitiful in equal measure. Lame doodles themselves can’t possibly hurt a fly. EDMD might have offended some Muslims. But in the end, no one killed anyone.

Now, piling up a couple hundred copies of the Koran and torching them — that would be a destructive form of protest. Furthermore, it’s hypocritical of Jones to justify it by condemning Islam as a hateful, intolerant religion, when he has a history of hate speech (against gays, the usual suspects) and intolerance. While I think Jones has the right to go through with his speech, I don’t think his motives are honest. He’s exactly what he condemns, except that his religious radicalism wears a cross rather than a crescent moon and star. (The atheists who took part in EDMD might condemn Islam and Islamist violence, but we’d never want to deprive Muslims of their right to worship, as many right-wingers do right now.)

Could this event trigger more terrorist attacks and counter-strikes against our troops overseas? Yeah, I suppose it could, though it isn’t as if they needed more reasons to do that. But if Jones ends up giving them one, the first such attack will be all the vindication he needs. “See, we were right about how violent Islam is!” Not caring that, in this instance, he threw the first punch. Yeah, it’s entirely valid to condemn radical Islamists for doing what they actually do, which is kill people who aren’t sufficiently “respectful” to their beliefs. But you limit your condemnation to those individuals and groups who do the violence. As has been pointed out to an indifferent Jones, it’s absurd and dishonest as hell for him to suggest that he’s only protesting the violent Islamists, and that “moderate Muslims” ought to support him, when it’s their holy book he’s burning too.

In the end, I think what we as atheists should take away from all this insanity is a sobering realization that this is the kind of world you get when religion runs the show. Belief pits us against our fellow man for the most absurd of reasons: failure to worship the correct invisible magic man in the correct way. And for all that defenders bleat about the alleged benefits of religion — that sense of charity, well-being, love and community we are told believers enjoy better than any of the rest of us — they always leave out the part about religion’s innate tribalism. Whatever benefits religious beliefs confer are only enjoyed by those within that particular belief community. If you’re an outsider…run.

We rationalists can only hope humanity outgrows its penchant for religious tribalism one day, and that all these vile superstitions are eradicated from our cultural landscape completely. (Not through violence, of course, but through intellectual and moral awakening.) There really ought to only be one tribe — humanity.

But until then…yeah, go ahead, burn that Koran. Whatever. I’ll be at home that day. Let me know when the smoke clears and it’s safe to breathe free again.

An Inspiration!

We received a letter this week from a woman who had an upbeat story worth sharing. I don’t think I would ever have thought to try this, but what a great idea:


I have written in before about general stuff but I had a story about something that happened yesterday that I would love some opinions on. Near where I work, on nice days there are usually a lot of people out proselytizing. Now, I have dealt with street and door-to-door proselytizing before, usually women; and they have usually not been too bad. However, I find the idea of going up to people on the street to push religion kind of appalling, and though I personally don’t mind, because it offers the opportunity for discussion, I still find it to be incredibly rude. I understand the reason they go around in pairs, or sometimes even groups of 3 or 4, so they are able to corner people. And it just bothers me.

So I was walking home from work, and I spotted two young men with Bibles talking to some young lady sitting on a park bench. I decided to go up to them, and instead of addressing the two young men I turned to the girl and said something along the lines of “You are a good person, you have your own morals and can make your own decisions and don’t need them or their book to tell you that you are weak, because you are not.”

Then I told them all to have a nice day and started on my way again. But then the two boys started shouting after me. I say “boys,” they were probably in their early twenties. So, as they started to shout things like “yeah get out of here! No one cares what you have to say!” I decided that I couldn’t just leave it at that.

Maybe I should have left it, but I decided to go back. Maybe I shouldn’t have said this, but addressing the first boy I said “Well why don’t you tell her about the part where Lot gets drunk and has sex with his daughters, or the part in Judges where Jephtha sets his daughter on fire.”

After looks of confusion from the two young men, and a quirky smile from the girl, the first boy just kept repeating “Who are you? Get out of here! You’re Satan!” in a robotic tone, as the other one holding the Bible said I was “crazy.” I asked if I could borrow their Bible to show her either passage, to which the first asked “Well where’s your Bible?”

I pulled out my digital reader on which I had a copy of the King James Bible, and I informed him that I read it often. He replied that I didn’t know what was in the Bible, and that I must be Satan. They asked me if I knew the girl or something, to which I said that they didn’t know her, either, and were probably bothering her while she was trying to relax in the park. It was at this point that the one young man said that I “must be retarded”.

I wish I had had time to, instead, draw these two away from this poor girl, but I didn’t, so I addressed her with another vote of confidence and went on my way.

She seemed to be responsive to what I had said, but one can’t be entirely sure. As I walked away they continued to shout after me, continuing to call me “Satan” and such.

Now I never mentioned to any of them that I was an atheist or even what my particular beliefs might be. I even acknowledged in my last words to the girl that I didn’t know if she was a Christian herself, or what her beliefs might be, but only that she didn’t need these two young men to figure those things out—basically, to believe in herself and not them. I have a Youtube channel, and as soon as I got home I did a big long video telling the story exactly as I have told it here.

I recall an open-air preacher who used to shout at passers-by at my university. He would handle questions and hecklers alike; but this is something different. She proselytized to proseltyzers, showed them up in front of their mark, and absolutely gave them as good as they were giving to other people that day. I bet she totally knocked them off their script!

She asked what we thought about what she did—if it was rude. I told her it was inspirational!

Here is her YouTube account of her adventure…

Draw Muhammad Day…

I support the efforts of Draw Muhammad Day. I took a few minutes and made a quick drawing and posted it to Facebook…and that was going to be the extent of my participation.

Fortunately, our local religion reporter made a blog post and she couldn’t have managed to misrepresent the subject more, if she’d tried.

I took the opportunity to correct her…and I was sufficiently irritated that I thought I’d copy that correction here. As next Sunday’s show is cancelled, consider it a replacement rant.

“Again, I thought this would fizzle out, but apparently it’s become all the rage to make a spectacle out of demeaning Muslims.”

How does this demean Muslims? Be careful you don’t break your back while trying to twist this issue to portray the Muslims as the victims…

The fact is that some Muslims have repeatedly demonstrated remarkable and violent hypocrisy when it comes to free speech. They demand that their views be respected by everyone else in society – and anyone who offends them may well suffer a violent response.

“If it’s true that the Prophet Muhammad is not drawn or depicted by Muslim artists based on Islamic beliefs, why revel in ignorance? In other words, if it were considered heathen-like behavior to draw Jesus, would that be tolerated with the same level of revelry – or is there something else at work?”

Of course it would be tolerated. What sort of journalist doesn’t grasp the basics of free speech and expression?

There is no right to not be offended. There is no right to impose your ignorance, fears and superstitions on the rest of society.

Why do you think this is happening? If there had never been a gross over-reaction to cartoons, do you think anyone would have organized people to draw Muhammad?

Do you really suspect that the individuals drawing and encouraging others to draw Muhammad are simply cruel-minded bigots poking a stick at the poor Muslims?

This is not only about free speech, it’s valid social commentary and a serious issue. There are people who travel with bodyguards and live under constant threat of violence or death for exercising basic freedoms that we should all support. People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Salman Rushdie and Lars Vilks.

What a staggeringly myopic perspective one must have to shrug this off as someone else demeaning Muslims.

Muslims, on this subject, have demeaned themselves.

Philip Pullman’s newest isn’t likely to end up a fundie favorite

If Christians had a rough time with Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ, I don’t quite see them lining up to buy the latest from Golden Compass author and staunch heathen Philip Pullman. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, releasing May 20 in the US, is described thus:

…the remarkable new piece of fiction from best-selling and famously atheistic author Philip Pullman. By challenging the events of the gospels, Pullman puts forward his own compelling and plausible version of the life of Jesus, and in so doing, does what all great books do: makes the reader ask questions.

In Pullman’s own words, “The story I tell comes out of the tension within the dual nature of Jesus Christ, but what I do with it is my responsibility alone. Parts of it read like a novel, parts like history, and parts like a fairy tale; I wanted it to be like that because it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories.”

Written with unstinting authority, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a pithy, erudite, subtle, and powerful book by a controversial and beloved author. It is a text to be read and reread, studied and unpacked, much like the Good Book itself.

Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, depicting a war against God, is a modern fantasy classic, and if your only exposure to it is the well-intentioned but murkily executed Golden Compass film from a couple of years back, you owe it to yourself to check out the books themselves. They’re very much the anti-Narnia. In this video clip, Pullman responds with simple honesty to a question about Christians finding his new book offensive.

I’ll be putting my pre-order in.

Why we need blasphemy

Pat Condell, in one of his wonderfully cranky YouTube rants, opined that the Danes (I think it was the Danes) were probably wondering what the hell had happened to their free country since Islam showed up. The idea that freedom should surrender without a fight to religious fundamentalism of any kind, but especially that which has only fear and violence to support itself, is disgusting. And craven laws like that passed in Ireland, which naively strip away basic rights out of the fear of even a little bit of violence, merely give the fundamentalists what they want: a culture of oppression which is the only kind of culture where fundamentalism can thrive.

Now from Denmark comes word that a Somali terrorist has been shot (to which I say “Good,” and the PC crowd can flame away all they like) and wounded attempting to break into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who was responsible for some of the controversial Mohammed cartoons that caused such a stink some years ago. The man’s goal was, of course, not to sit down over coffee with Westergaard to offer constructive critiques and rebuttals to his work, but to murder him, which is of course a perfectly rational response to a cartoon.

Once more with feeling: if your religion cannot stand up to a fucking cartoon, it ain’t the cartoon that has the problem.

I have spoken to a number of atheists who, with the very best of intentions, have naively asserted that the best thing to do when faced with the violence of radical religious extremists is to sit down, shut up, and not get them riled, because really, we don’t want anyone to get hurt, do we? That they cannot see how this cowardice and capitulation gives religious lunatics the power over us they wanted all along never ceases to amaze me. And does anyone actually think that, by appeasing them once in this way, they’ll be satisfied and decide they can stop shooting and bombing and whatever else it is sky-daddy has told them to do this week, “peace” be upon him? Let’s do that as a multiple choice question: A) No; B) No; C) Hell no!; D) What, are you stupid? Once they know that a tiny bit of fear is all it takes to control you, then they’ll just keep demanding and threatening more and more, until you’re afraid to wipe your tender bottom without their divine mandate.

People, what we need is more blasphemy, more anger and more outrage in the face of this lunacy. Religious extremists are the cockroaches in the kitchen, and only the light of reason will send them scurrying to hide. Belief systems propped up by violence are ones that have already failed. No respect should be given them. So pick up your pens, cartoonists, and blaspheme your butts off! And if they turn up at your door, well…shoot first. If they really think they’re the only ones out there to be feared, they obviously haven’t heard Matt Groening’s dictum: “It is unwise to annoy a cartoonist!”

Happy 2010, everyone! Unless you’re Irish, in which case, happy 1410!

You know, today is a really great day. Seriously. Here in Austin the weather could not be more perfect, unless it were raining money. And I’m in a terrific mood, bursting with optimism. No, really, I’m not being sarcastic. I just feel good, and it feels good to feel good, so I think I’ll just go on feeling good for as long as it feels good.

You know what cannot even dampen my mood? The fact that Ireland’s preposterous blasphemy law goes into effect today. That’s the one that fines you €25,000 — which comes to $35,971.25 according to XE.com’s currency converter — if you say or publish anything that’s “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion.” So I guess “There’s nae God ya fookin gormless gobshites!” probably qualifies.

This doesn’t dampen my mood because I find it hilarious. It makes me think that if I could do one thing other than what I’m doing today, which is enjoying the lovely weather in my hometown with my dogs, it would be to walk boldly down the streets of downtown Dublin wearing my “Jesus Did It For The Chicks!” T-shirt. How Ireland thinks it will avoid becoming the subject of international ridicule with this stupidity is beyond me. Hell, they’ll have to block a good chunk of BBC comedy programming right off the bat, unless the government plans to arrest and fine itself. And oh yes, I’m quite sure that the awesome crowd at Atheist Ireland is going to take this ball and run with it!

The spectacle of a Western nation suddenly behaving like some Christian version of Yemen and taking a bold step back towards medieval theocracy like this as we move into the second decade of Century 21, for Christ’s sake (oops!), is, to me, nothing short of riotously funny. Especially when, in the last week, the international news has been full of reports of the Irish Catholic Church’s own shielding-the-pedo-priests scandal.

All in all, a day to make an atheist very, very happy indeed. Happy Blasphemous New Year, everyone! And oh yes, Irish Catholics? Hint: if your religion cannot stand up to free speech, the problem is not with free speech.


Addendum: Well, it’s hit the news big time, so we’ll see how things go.

Don’t fear to let bad guys talk

There are many lines that you can expect to hear on just about every episode of The Atheist Experience. One is “Tell me what you believe and why you believe it.” Another is “Promoting positive atheism and the separation of church and state.” However, I think one of the most important repeated lines is: “If you disagree with us, then we will try to get to your call more quickly.”

To me, that’s a vital component of intellectual honesty. Anyone can barricade themselves in a mental fortress of belief, deciding on what is true “in their hearts” early in life, and refusing to listen to any evidence to the contrary. However, if you want to have as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible, you simply have to step out of your fortress and really listen openly to what people are saying who don’t agree with you. There is no other way to expose the false beliefs you hold and the true beliefs that you lack.

That’s why I generally want to make it a point in life to read the Bible, listen to Christian radio, argue with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and take all the callers I can.

That’s also why I’m kind of disappointed, though not really surprised, by the apparent terror that, ah, certain people seem to have these days over putting 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in a civilian court.

As I understand it, there are two major concerns at play here, both of them (not to put too fine a point on it) cretinous. One of them is that Mohammed will escape from jail and go on the most horrifying killing spree the world has ever known. The other is that if Mohammed is allowed to defend himself in court, then the dulcet tones of his voice spouting terrorist propaganda will surely incite more violence against the United States.

Ezra Klein masterfully dismantles both arguments in just a few short sentences. Regarding their escape:

These guys took down a plane with box cutters. They used crude weapons to attack a far more sophisticated and effective fighting force. The most fearsome of them was captured at home, in his pajamas. It’s not like we’re putting Magneto on trial and need to keep him away from metal filings.

And regarding letting him talk:

Trying these guys publicly, as well as holding them in normal prisons like common criminals, is good public relations. Being a terrorist is a more appealing prospect if the world’s sole superpower appears to cower before your might than it is if you end up trapped in the American legal system, forced to submit to endless cross-examination and consultation with attorneys and other bureaucratic humiliations. Lots of people want to be super villains. But who wants to be a henchman? Being held on a fortified military island and tortured by a country that can’t seem to get you to talk is a much more glorious finish than a long and dull trial that ends with you serving time in central New Jersey.

When you come right down to it, Mohammed is really just another extreme religious crackpot, and talking and listening to religious crackpots is what we on the Atheist Experience want to happen. We want it to happen because crackpottery thrives on remaining mysterious. If you can frame your crackpottery in a few pithy sentences appealing to some seemingly high minded ideals, then it sounds superficially convincing. But when you start probing their beliefs in depth, that’s when you get to have conversations like this

“Tommy Davis previously denied the Xenu story, asking CNN reporter John Roberts if it ‘sounded ridiculous’ and saying the story was ‘unrecognisable’ to him. The Xenu story has also been denied by actor Tom Cruise and other famous Scientologists.”

And this

“Wait. Mormons actually know this story and they still believe Joseph Smith was a prophet? …No, it’s a matter of logic! If you’re gonna say things that have been proven wrong, like that the first man and woman lived in Missouri, and that Native Americans came from Jerusalem, then you’d better have something to back it up. All you’ve got are a bunch of stories about some asswipe who read plates nobody ever saw out of a hat, and then couldn’t do it again when the translations were hidden!”*

And this

“Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man… living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you! He loves you. He loves you and he needs money!”

That’s what we want to have happen with the beliefs of fuckwits like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. We want an American lawyer to stand up in front of this guy on the witness stand, and let him spout off his beliefs. And then we want our lawyer to shake his head in disbelief, and say “Mr. Mohammed, are you freaking kidding me????

What we don’t want is for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to get away with no trial at all, or a tribunal under cover of darkness. We don’t want him to be executed without a chance to air out his horrific, vile sounding views. We don’t want to give people an excuse to make a martyr out of him without laying his idiocy bare for the entire world to see.

I’m sure some people will object that someone will hear his words and say “Hey, ya know? This jihad business sounds pretty reasonable to me.” And I’m sure that that’s true; I can imagine that there are probably a (very, very, very small) number of people who were not already looking to sign up for the terrorist lifestyle, but will be persuaded by Mohammed’s silver tongue to join the cause.

But you know what else? I’m willing to take that chance, because I’m seriously betting that the number of people who will be moved to sympathy for America and disgust for Mohammed and his ilk would tremendously dwarf the number of people who would fall for his recruitment speech.

I am firmly of the belief that you can’t prevent bad ideas from being heard, but you can shed light on them and make them look foolish. I think it’s the ideal of free speech that we should all strive for. If I didn’t think that, then I would have to conclude once and for all that our little public access show is a bust, simply on the grounds that we have allowed so many more bad ideas to get air time than would have gotten it otherwise.

Call me a naive idealist for having some faith in humanity that they can be dragged to a reasonable position. The ones to really watch out for are the small-minded, pathetic people polluting the airwaves, who are afraid to hear Khalid talk. Somehow they must feel that his beliefs are so reasonable and so seductive that millions of people will become America’s enemies just by listening to a defeated criminal speak on a docket. And frankly, I feel sorry for them, for the fear of the world around them that they must feel every day
.

* Note: It was pointed out in the comments that the quote about Mormonism from South Park, while funny, is not an accurate representation of the Mormon story.

The usual whiny hypocrisy

Welcome to Amerika. Where this, I am told, is offensive…

…but this isn’t.

Let’s see. The top billboard is simply a message from a group of unbelievers reaching out to other unbelievers who may feel they’re alone, isolated in a hostile religious culture. The bottom billboard, on the other hand, is making very curt and rather bullying demands on me. It asserts the existence of this being, God, then it quotes him as claiming to have some entitlement over me, because he supposedly gave his son, and so, like, aren’t I just some ungrateful so-and-so if I don’t acknowledge this fantastic deal (which I never asked for in the first place) and decide it’s in my best interests to “have” this God guy as part of my life.

And yet…well, apparently it’s the top billboard that’s aggressive and militant. It really has the panties of Denver area pastor Willard Johnson in a twist. He says, “We denounce what they are doing. But we do it with love, with gentleness, with decency and with compassion.” Well, that’s mighty white of you, Will, the whole love and compassion thing and all. I bet only a Christian would think that denunciations are a form of love and compassion. But be that as it may, why denounce this? What’s offensive about it? “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” Is that such a threatening sentiment to your fragile widdle beliefs that you have to denounce it right away? What a sad thing for you.

And here’s what else is odd to me. (Well, not odd. Perfectly normal, really, for a “Christian” nation.) Christians put up billboards all the time. Everywhere. Seriously. Some of them are wonderfully silly, some are harmless, some are plain insulting. And yet, it never makes the news when they put up billboards. Only when atheists do it. Why? Why should it be newsworthy, other than as an excuse to give some bozo pastor a little bit of ink to spout his loving, compassionate intolerance.

So, Christians, when you ask why we don’t respect you enough, think of this. That there is nothing atheists can say, no message so innocent and innocuous in expression of our disbelief in your invisible magic friend in the sky, that you won’t take it as some sort of horrible attack. Just like the time earlier this year, when the FFRF put up their “Imagine No Religion” billboards (which basically just ask you to, you know, imagine no religion), and Christians everywhere went berserk over this “militant” atheist assault on mom and apple pie. Why, one bold and courageous Christian group vowed to fight the FFRF’s “hateful” billboards with their own, asking “Why Do Atheists Hate America?” Because, you know, that’s not a hateful statement at all.

So you know what? Go ahead, be offended, Christians. That’s one of the things you have to deal with when living in a free, pluralistic society. There will be people who think differently than you do, who believe in different things, and who will express those differing views. I know most of you want the place all to yourselves, but you have to share it, just like you have to share it with people of different races and sexual preferences and tastes in music. And if the simplest and mildest expression of a view different from your own makes you go into red alert mode, and wail about the evil militant whomevers who obviously hate the whole country because they aren’t just like you, then perhaps you need to step back a bit, take a big fat chill pill, and think quite seriously about who’s really got the problem here.

Now…ACA…how about getting a billboard up in Austin? It’s time we had one, don’t you think? Something like the AHA’s bus ad campaign.

Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die

Much as I find right-wing jargon to be mindlessly jingoistic and childishly reactionary, they were onto something when they coined the term “Islamofascism.” Here are two reports of the oppressive, totalitarian practices of this depraved religion in action.

  1. Dog walking banned in Riyadh on the grounds it leads to flirting and, possibly, cooties. Here’s something boggling to contemplate about Islamist states. Most totalitarian regimes are run by angry, lonely little pricks who spend their working days in offices thinking up ways to keep people from being happy, ever. But bring Islam into the picture, and your list of “harmless fun activities magically morphed into arrestable offenses” suddenly includes having a pet and meeting girls. And I suppose I would find the concept of an actual division of law enforcement named The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice more laughable — let alone the idea that walking your dog could possibly be something anyone would be demented enough to consider a vice of any kind — if it weren’t for the very eerie likelihood that there are Dominionist Christians in this country who are smacking their foreheads and saying, “D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that?”
  2. White Europeans continue to prove themselves complete pussies when confronted with the spectre of pissed-off guys with beards. (And allow me to forestall enraged replies from white Europeans who aren’t afraid to stand up to Islamist incursions upon your rights, and are embarrassed by those in your cultures, official or unofficial, who let fear conquer them: by all means, feel welcome to sound off in the comments.)

    The thing that radical, Great-Satan-hating Islamofascists have learned all too effectively is that nothing scares citizens of (what said citizens like to think are) free Western democracies than the idea that a Muslim is primed to go batshit bombthrowing crazy at the drop of a hat. Confession time: when I was a younger and callow chap, I was in a psychologically abusive relationship with a woman whose tool of control was her temper. I never knew what I might say to cause her to go off like a fragmentation grenade, and so I said very little, even on days which seemed perfectly normal and on which no argument had yet ensued. Everything could be perfectly pleasant, then I could make some innocuous statement about nothing in particular, and within seconds I’d find myself being screamed at, at window rattling volumes. It was, shall we say, an unpleasant period of my life.

    Islamists like to use a similar tool of control to stifle freedom — free speech, criticism of their beliefs or their politics, artistic expression — in countries that, remarkably, aren’t Islamist theocracies and in which they’re even minorities in the population. Ever since 9/11, the new normal has been that anything could drive a Muslim into a homicidal rage at any moment, and you don’t have any clue what it is, so it’s better not to take chances. Okay, so that may be a stereotype that the vast majority of non-batshit-bombthrowing-crazy Muslims resent, but it’s certainly proven useful to the real agitators among them.

    The latest victim is a novel, The Jewel of the Medina, by debut writer Sherry Jones, which was slated for publication in the UK weeks from now, only to be pulled at the eleventh hour due to fears that the subject matter — the protagonist is one of Mohammed’s child brides — would lead to a Satanic Verses fatwa redux. Isn’t it convenient for Islamists that they no longer even have to fight the “War on Terror” any more? The West just hands it to them.

    Remarkably, the person who sounded the klaxon of fear regarding Jones’s book was not only a Westerner, but a college professor from UT-Austin, Denise Spellberg. Professor, you’re a disgrace to our town. Just like that, all that was needed was the teeniest, tiniest fear that the book might “incite acts of violence by a small radical segment,” and presto, bye bye freedom of expression and speech!

    Okay, so Jones’s novel does sound like lurid crap, in the few excerpts that have appeared online. But if it’s going to be denied publication, at least do so for the right reasons.

I’m with Pat Condell on this one. I see no reason to be respectful or tolerant towards a religion that condones “honor killings” and thinks walking your fuckmothering dog is some kind of threat to civilization itself. This kind of barbarism earns no respect, none, not even a smidgen. And I also stand with old Ben Franklin, whose famous line about how folks who are willing to surrender a little freedom in exchange for a little security don’t deserve either resonates today more than it ever has in history. So, in the spirit of fair play, and as a sop to all those whiny Christians who like to throw the “you only attack us because you’re too scared to go after Muslims” line at us, allow me proudly to strike this blow for freedom!

Now if you’ll pardon me, my dogs want their walkies.