We get email: “atheists can be irrational too” edition

Remember Patrick Greene? He’s the dimwit who took umbrage at Ray Comfort’s website selling bumper stickers unflattering to atheists. He declared it hate speech and threatened to sue, called in to the TV show to defend his litigiousness, was roundly mocked for such silly and petty behavior, and yet insisted that his contact information be made available on the show despite warnings from both Matt and Kazim that this was probably not the best idea.

Well, here it is a year later, and Patrick is highly frustrated that you folks are still emailing him telling him what an assrocket he is. Evidently it didn’t occur to him that, what with fans posting clips all over YouTube and the availability of the show on such services as Google Video and Blip.tv, his little announcement would be available pretty much in perpetuity. Never mind, though, because, in his narcissistic view of things, you’re all the ones with the problem. So he writes us back in full-blown petulant-5-year-old-who’s-been-told-he-can’t-play-Wii-until-he-eats-his-broccoli mode.

I received another e-mail about the bumper sticker, after a YEAR of this shit going on, so I have decided to file the lawsuit, and send you a copy of it. I am so sick to death of people keeping this crap alive……!!!!
Because of this e-mail, and the hundreds of other e-mails I have received that say the exact same thing yours does, I have decided that I will file the lawsuit, because if ALL of you think it’s a bad idea………it must be a good idea……………because all of you around the world are acting like Christians. This idea I had is a YEAR old. A YEAR OLD!!!
[Like you, Pat? —MW]
And if you all are STILL talking about it, and taking time to send e-mails about it, then It MUST be a good idea……THANKS!!!!!

Well, you can’t argue with logic like that, can you?

So, here’s the email that our courageous defender of atheism’s honor has fired off to Living Waters Ministry.

To Mr. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron,

This is to inform you that over a year has passed since the incident of the threatened lawsuit against your bumper sticker. Since that time I have received e-mails by the hundreds, from atheists all over the world. These atheists have unanimously agreed that the lawsuit idea was not a good one, to put it mildly.

However, after spending the last year going through your blog and your store, and seeing the sheer volume of materials against atheists, I have come to the conclusion that your “free speech” constitutes hate speech.

So, since Christians by their own admission adhere to a “loving” faith, your biblical mandate of spreading the “word” must come in the form of loving rhetoric, not insulting people who do not share your belief, and not instilling hate to your followers.

Therefore, if ALL of your material against atheists is not removed from your website by October 20, 2009, I will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Antonio, and ask the court to issue a restraining order to curtail your hate speech.

Sincerely yours,
Patrick Greene

Oh yeah. That’ll have them quaking in their boots and their lawyers scrambling to circle the wagons, for damn sure. Uh-huh. Like this thing won’t be dismissed so fast it’ll set off a sonic boom.

Patrick, if Ray Comfort is the World’s Stupidest Christian™, then you are most certainly the World’s Stupidest Atheist™. You guys are made for each other. If only you knew how good you’re making him look. Moron.

Oh hell, another one

Is the Greene Litigiousness Virus making the rounds lately? Here’s another dimwit only too eager to don Patrick’s crazy hat and leap into the fray.

A Canton man is suing Zondervan Publishing and a Tennessee-based publisher, claiming their versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin violate his constitutional rights and have caused him emotional pain and mental instability.

Well, I’ll certainly buy the mental instability bit, but I hardly think the courts are likely to agree that Zondervan’s Bibles have caused it. Bradley LaShawn Fowler has apparently failed to notice that every translation of the Bible in existence vilifies gays, even the many millions of editions not published by Zondervan. There are sound condemnations to be made of the Bible regarding the suffering its teachings have caused many groups of people down the centuries — gays, Jews, atheists, women. But frivolous litigation addresses these issues not at all, and only invites more derision. I suspect Mr. Fowler (who’s representing himself, which I’m sure will come as a knockout surprise) is destined to endure yet more “demoralization, chaos and bewilderment,” especially when he finds out just how quickly this one gets thrown out.

A fool’s last hurrah

This is the last we’ll speak of Patrick. He tries to go down swinging with this infantile non-apology that he emailed us and, presumably, all of the people who sent him the emails he asked for on the program and yet somehow failed to give him the validation he so desperately craved.

I wish to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to all atheists for my actions in the past few days.
They were unwise and I have rectified everything with Ray Comfort. The bumper sticker is back for sale. We atheists will for all time, be taken as the evil people that the Christian ministers teach their congregations. That way they can be assured that when their congregations vote, not one of us will ever be elected so much as a dog catcher. And, everyone of you that wrote me, encouraging me to tuck my tail between my legs, and tell them that they are right, and their bumper sticker is the full and complete TRUTH.
I have kept my promise to not file the lawsuit. And all of you have opened your hearts to me, and behaved like total cowards. It’s no wonder that the Christians think we all are so evil. All of you should be ashamed that you even think of yourselves as intelligent.

And I’m taking my ball and going home! Waah. Christ, what a weasel. Seriously, Pat, you ought to take lessons from some right-wing politicians, or, hell, even Nancy Pelosi, on how to do hypocritical blame-shifting and passive-aggressive lashing out skillfully. This kind of foot-stomping petulance wouldn’t even qualify you to run for dog-catcher.

I sent him off with a spanking.

Sorry Patrick. But we stopped taking you seriously long ago, and this “apology” pretty much confirms all we need to know about you: that you’re a childish and dishonest narcissist whose ego is way too invested in being the hero of your own movie. If you honestly think that what people were trying to tell you when they criticized you for threatening to sue Ray was that we all think the bumper sticker was true, then you’re even more of an immature assclown than any of us thought, and your constant recourse to self-flattering bluster is some pitifully obvious overcompensation for the unwillingness to admit that maybe, just maybe, YOU could ever be wrong about something. And your failure to comprehend your own recent role in the damage the reputation of atheists has taken among believers also speaks to the depth of your obtuseness and lack of self-awareness. I’d tell you to grow up, but as you’re already in your 60’s it’s far too late for that. You failed to launch a long time ago.

Heard back from the FCC yet?

And that’s a wrap on Patrick. Next post: back to grown-ups and grown-up matters.

I make nice with Ray Comfort

No surprise, Ray Comfort offered a jeering post about Patrick’s threat of a lawsuit on his blog. That’s the biggest problem with taking this kind of ill-conceived action, and it’s completely predictable. It gives the opponent completely justified moral high ground from which to criticize you, when before he was just slinging a fairly juvenile insult.

So I wrote my own comment there, pointing out that Patrick does not represent all atheists, and that in fact we dedicated a fair bit of show time to criticizing him over the weekend. Ray didn’t let the comment go unedited: I tried to supply a link to the video and audio broadcasts, and he says he doesn’t allow any links from commenters. Meh? I think that’s a silly policy, but I read the rules now and it wasn’t just me. In any case, Ray was kind enough to personally post the comment himself, sans the links. So if nothing else, I know he’s read it.

If you want a score count, I estimated that the total number of emails sent concurrently to Patrick and us, as of this morning, is pretty close to 50. I’ve stopped reading them all carefully, so it’s possible that I’ve missed something. However, my back-of-the-envelope calculations show that somewhere around, um, oh, call it 100% of the emailers agree with us. Patrick’s response seems to be that they are all now self-admitted fools, and that since all the atheists in the world have not emailed him, everyone who didn’t explicitly say he’s wrong must secretly be on his side.

Face, meet desk. Ow!


Hmmm… it looks like Ray just made a special post to highlight my comment, and also claims that Patrick wishes to withdraw his suit based on these emails. I notice that Ray is aggressively avoiding a link back, even cutting out the name of the show. Typical. Now I feel better, because I can’t handle having sympathetic feelings toward Ray for too long. ;)

Patrick wants your opinion

Patrick Greene called in to the show on Sunday. The episode is now posted on Google and you’re free to listen to Patrick make his case (with interruptions and clarifications from your rather perturbed host).

While we’re all aware that public opinion is irrelevant to truth, he’d like to hear from you. If you think he’s done the right thing, let him know. If you think he’s made a huge mistake that makes the rest of us look bad, let him know. If you aren’t sure, let him know.

Evidently, he’s just not getting enough email. So, here’s his e-mail address:

peewee_91762 [at] yahoo.com

Patrick Greene checks in

Patrick Greene, the San Antonio atheist who got all up in Ray Comfort’s shit about a stupid bumper sticker, has sent an email to us once again. (He also left a comment here, which I rejected, because it contained his phone number. After the Yomin incident, in which both his and Matt D.’s phone numbers appeared in comments, I have a new policy of no phone numbers on the site at all, even if people wish to post their own. It’s too easy a thing people can abuse, whether through the placing of inappropriate calls, or the wild accusations and blame-assignment of same.)

Patrick’s letter is as follows:

I read your web site and wish equal time on your show.
I want to tell people the truth about the Walmart experience.
And I want to tell everyone about the bumper sticker thing.
By the way, so far Kirk Cameron hasn’t gotten back with me yet.
If I was really screwing up, they would never have taken the sticker off the site.
I have taken all I am going to take from Christians. My wife and I have taken their crap for 30 years.
Call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX any day from noon to 5:00p.m.
Patrick Greene
And you have my written permission to use my full name and e-mail address on everythingyou write about me.
I am not in the closet about anything.

Well, that’s great you’re willing to stand up for yourself, Patrick, though I suspect that Matt will not be terribly sympathetic to your “equal time” request, you having called him “such an asshole” and all. Seems to me you’re just an attention-seeker, quick to fly off the handle not only at any perceived slight to your atheism, but also to anyone who fails to validate your sense of victimhood and join the drill team cheering your fight for justice. And if you really believe that, as you said, “if I was really screwing up, they would never have taken the sticker off the site,” you’re as naive as you are reactionary. Ray Comfort is already making fun of you, and most absurdly of all, he did so simply by repeating the same insipid creationist non-arguments that he’s been using all these years to impress the uneducated. All he had to do was quote you sounding pissed off, which you did, then he simply replied with the stupidest arguments in his arsenal in a calm tone. And he comes out of it looking like a million bucks. Good job, Pat old boy. When you lose the high ground to a clown like Coke Can Man, you’re in bad shape.

As for the “crap” you’ve been put through for so very long by Christians, good grief, what are you talking about? Sounds to me like you’re nursing a persecution complex the size of the Alamodome, though I confess I wasn’t around all those decades Christians were making your life miserable, denying you jobs and killing your dog and peeing on your shrubs and flicking boogers at your car or whatever it was they were doing.

You’d think you would have, at some point, figured out that the majority of the populace in this country were religious, that that fact was unlikely to change in the near future, that some of those religious people will be normal and easygoing to get along with and that some will be offensive and stupid, and simply chosen to live your life accordingly. What horrible history of injustices have you suffered at their hands for so long, that the camel’s back was finally broken by the straw of Comfort and Cameron’s dopey bumper sticker? “That’s enough, goddamn it! I’m suing!”

Dude, we all find it infuriating, the things Christians get up to in this country. Undermining science education, denying fundamental rights to gays and lesbians, covering it up whenever their priests rape children, filling school boards with unqualified ideologues to promote their superstitions as facts to impressionable students, distributing propaganda movies calling scientists Nazis, what have you. What we do about it is try to come up with some positive pushback, through the efforts of such groups as Texas Citizens for Science and the NCSE, through outreach to other atheists via our media efforts, through getting people active at the polls (the stupidity of Ellen “Don’t Vote” Johnson notwithstanding.)

There’s a thing about picking your battles wisely. Making a spectacle of yourself over the imagined injustice of a bumper sticker doesn’t qualify under the “wise” category. “Petty,” “childish,” “shallow” and “over-sensitive”? Yeah, those, sure, all day long. Let me repeat this: you gave Ray Comfort, of all people, an opportunity to make himself look good. If that doesn’t spell E-P-I-C F-A-I-L, nothing does.

Seriously, man, you’re pulling a Yomin big time.

But if you really want to come on the show and undergo the dubious pleasure of being dressed down to your face by Matt Dillahunty…well, as I said, scheduling the guests is no longer my duty on the show. Though I suspect, if you did come on, it would be an experience you’d not forget in a hurry, and would probably become one of the show’s most popular downloads ever.


PS: Right before I posted this, Patrick replied to my reply to his original email, with examples of all the horrible injustice he’s endured at the hands of Christians. Seriously, I don’t know how the man has survived.

Try being denied an apartment because we are atheists.

So find a better apartment complex. There has to be more than one in your town. And why would your atheism need to come up while apartment hunting at all?

Try being given death threats because we are atheists.

I used to host the TV show, fer cripessake. I probably got 20 death threats for your every one.

Try being denied payment for a taxi trip, because I am an atheist.

Hardly compares to the rack or the stake, but I probably would find that annoying. So were you the cab driver in question here? Again, why would your atheism have come up? How many cabbies get ripped off every year by ride jumpers for reasons having nothing to do with religion?

Those are only the beginning.

Remember that scene in Reservoir Dogs with Steve Buscemi and the World’s Smallest Violin?


Addendum, Sunday: Patrick says he’ll call the show today, and sent us a lengthy letter explaining why he was turned down for an apartment (which, to hear his description, is one incident 20 years ago), and assuring us that he is shocked — SHOCKED! — that other atheists would dare criticize him! Which, obviously, means that we are ashamed to be atheists and afraid to defend ourselves. Which should be plain as day to anyone who’s watched the TV show and read this blog, right?

He also added:

My lawsuit was going to be based on the fact that they [Comfort and Cameron] were taking an opinion [on the bumper stickers], and making it a fact to all believers.
Dumbshits believe that.

Yes, Patrick, you’re absolutely right.

An irrational atheist

Today a gentleman whose privacy I’ll respect by not revealing his name sent an email to the TV show address with the subject line “Victory for atheists.” I’m afraid it’s anything but. Indeed, it’s a textbook example of how to fumble the ball.

The fellow in question had sent an irate letter to the Laurel and Hardy apologetics team of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, complaining about an insulting anti-atheist bumper sticker they were selling online. Boasting to us that his letter had persuaded them to remove the offending sticker from their site, he went on to quote himself in full, and he doesn’t start off badly.

Your Item #500 Atheist Day bumper sticker is a very un-Christian insult to all atheists. Just because your Bible states something, does not mandate that you use this information to insult atheists like me.

I am not a fool, and I want you to change the wording of your sticker. The average driver can easily read the words:

NATIONAL ATHEIST’S DAY
APRIL 1ST

But the words of Psalm 14:1, which are below these words, cannot be easily seen by any motorist.

Then, as the letter progresses, you can see his emotions starting to run away with him.

My life as an American Atheist has been unalterably changed by your bumper sticker. I would never be elected to any political position in our country, because your bumper sticker has poisoned most believers minds.

I demand that you use your own savior’s command to Love your neighbor as yourself, and change your bumper sticker to read something like this:

PSALM 14:1 SHOULD BE READ

Well, the inability of atheists to make much headway in American politics, despite the Constitution’s ban on a religious test (a ban that is openly violated by the constitutions of a number of individual states, like Texas), is rooted in a religious bigotry against unbelievers that was in play long before Frick and Frack decided to sell a stupid bumper sticker online. But then our writer starts to run right off the rails…

I understand that the U.S. Constitution guarantees you freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. However, that does not give you unlimited license to publicly insult those who do not share your beliefs.

Uh…well, yeah, dude. It does.

Free speech is exactly that. Insults are not illegal. There are actionably libelous and slanderous remarks that one can make that are not Constitutionally protected. But merely lobbing an insult at somebody doesn’t qualify. And there is no Constitutional protection against having your feelings hurt. Here, our writer is simply making as big a fool of himself as the Catholics who have been throwing a colossal group shitfit these past several days over PZ Myers’ mocking of the Eucharist cracker.

Regrettably, our writer, figuring “in for a penny, in for a pound,” wraps everything up with an Oscar-worthy exercise in shark-jumping.

If, by August 23, 2008 your bumper sticker has not been changed on your web site, I will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, in San Antonio, and have a restraining order issued to order you to change your sticker.

Insert sound of screeching tires, a loud crash, followed by a sustained explosion.

Hmm, what does this kind of pissy, bully-boy rhetoric remind me of? Certainly it’s nothing I’d attach the word “rational” to, and indeed, no offense to our writer here (though I can’t imagine I’ll avoid it), while Psalm 14:1 does not apply to atheists or atheism as a philosophy, it applies like hell to his behavior here.

It’s one thing to sue or threaten to sue if you have actually been harmed, or if an actionable offense has been made. But threatening legal action simply as a means of stifling the speech of someone who simply holds a view different to your own, and who has only made remarks that have bruised your feelings, is reprehensible behavior, full stop. And if you were dumb enough actually to file such a suit, expect not only an immediate dismissal but quite possibly a Rule 11(b) ass-reaming on top of it.

As Matt has pointed out to this fellow, not only has he moronically validated the bigotry Cameron and Comfort hold against atheists by being such a reactionary hothead over something as banal as a bumper sticker, but, if they did indeed remove the sticker from their site in response to his email, then this is simply something that we can fully expect them to use, in their next blog posts and podcasts and whatever else they do, to paint themselves as the calm, reasonable ones, the charitable, kind Christians who out of the goodness of their hearts will honor this poor unsaved person’s feelings, despite his hostile and bullying tone, which is, of course, just the way you are when you’re godless and lost. In other words, this dumbass has just handed the two most dishonest and inept apologists in all of pop-Christianity a three-pointer.

So let this be a lesson to atheists everywhere. We’re human, and certainly can’t expect to be entirely rational and unemotional when things affect us as humans, and cause us to feel a level of hurt. But unlike PZ’s Catholic mob, we ought to have a perspective they lack. Nothing here that was “holy” or inviolable to atheists was damaged by this bumper sticker. And I cannot for the life of me think how this writer can prove he’s suffered any kind of harm because of its mere existence. As rational beings, we must know that we live in a world of many differing and often hostile views, none moreso than those between religious believers and skeptics. Some people we’ll have civil disagreements with, others will be more heated and emotional. But we all have a right to expression, and to use bullying threats to silence someone’s opposing views while claiming bogus “harm” is something no rationalist can or should countenance.

If our writer thought he’d find a sympathetic ear and support when he emailed us to boast of his “victory,” I’m afraid he got a rude surprise, one which I’ll happily make ruder by exposing his foolishness here as an epic fail for which he should feel duly embarrassed. I expect this kind of thing from extremist religious ideologues. I expect better from atheists, as we should always be guided by reason, even when we’re a little bit cranky that day. Atheists who go four-alarm-irrational will find themselves thoroughly hosed if we hear about it.


Addendum: The original writer has finally been reduced simply to calling Matt “such an asshole” in response to Matt’s explanations as to why he did the wrong thing. That says all that needs to be said about the guy’s character, I do believe. I wonder if he’ll threaten to sue next?