Very happy to be of assistance, sir!

The douche parade continues. We get email…

Thanks, so much for much, for blocking me from The Atheist Experience Facebook page. I really enjoyed your You Tube channel and the Facebook page. If this is how you treat your own people. WOW! I am glad I never donated any money to your fucked up causes. Once again thank you, Martin. I will still be an Atheist…believe it or not, that is much, much bigger than you!

The letter is from this guy, who saw fit to give us a load of shit, and tell us we were being “religious,” for sponsoring a family for the holiday season. Because helping those in need is a “fucked up cause,” clearly.

I don't...HAVE FUN! With your Christian Holiday! I don't celebrate Easter or Halloween either! But, asking us to SPONSOR someone is over the top. Like I said, pick another Holiday. As for your TEXAS tdradition, who gives a shit!

To paraphrase Matt, I am not sure what makes fellows like Mr. Jones think he is one of “our own people” simply because he came to the same, obvious conclusion about the easiest question in the world.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to do something really fucked up and help a struggling family, click here for details.

Bob Jones…hey, aren’t you the guy who founded that Christian university?

Presenting the stupidest anti-gay-marriage article in world history, part 1

(TL;DR advisory: This one’s a biggie. The word “asshole” is frequently used.)

A few days back, one of my Facebook friends (well, she’s an IRL friend too, but Facebook is where she contacted me, so anyway…) asked me to help her fisk this article. Took me a while, what with a busy week going on, but I’ve finally managed to get around to it. I decided it would be best done here.

A conundrum that anti-gay bigots have been facing in their steadfast opposition to marriage equality is their inability to name any sort of non-imaginary, material harm that heterosexual marriage would suffer by the legalization of LGBT marriage. That several countries have had marriage equality for a few years now without seeing any negative impact to their citizenry’s breeders only exacerbates the awkwardness. So this fellow John Barber comes along, and he’s all…

challenge-accepted-1
[Read more…]

A+ haters, what have you got besides reactionary emotionalism?

Despite what people think the policy here is over at GroupThinkBorgBlogs, we’re all fine with trading ideas about how to pursue social justice, as long as they’re productive and positive ideas. After all, as Russell said, here at AXP, we’ve been doing “positive atheism” for years.

But we didn’t realize it was so utterly evil until now. According to this helpful comment

A+ is about sowing an “us vs them” mentality, of building a cult of personality, and demonizing anyone that dares question what the holy leaders may say. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I suggest you check out Richard Carrier’s blog post on the subject. A+ is about claiming that only you have virtue on your side and that if anyone ever disagrees with you about ANYTHING (or even just questions it) or even just doesn’t want to join your party, than they are a racist, homophobic, MRA (even if they happen to be a lesbian of color).

So you have fun with your little “split.” It helps the rest of us know who the irrational, non-thinkers are.

Wow. I must have missed the memo about fascistic I was supposed to be about all of this. Apparently, I must not tolerate anyone who disagrees with me, not only on subjects like social justice, but any subject whatsoever. Looks like I’m going to be a busy bee then.

WHAT!?!? You like peanut butter better than chocolate!?! FUCK YOOOOUUUUUU…..

So how much ostracizing and othering do I have to do to level up to being a holy leader of the personality cult? And when do I start scoring those hot hippie flower chicks?

In which the question “Is there a stupider and more embarrassing atheist than Patrick Greene?” is definitively answered

Via Hemant, I am made aware of this brilliant little nugget of joy. See if you can parse the logic in all this. Perhaps I can’t because I spent my valuable college years drawing talking animals for the school paper rather than boning up on things like the Löwenheim–Skolem theorem. But the sense of it all eludes the humble powers of my primitive brain meat.

The director of the state chapter of American Atheists plans to desecrate the Koran when the state House of Representatives reconvenes in September if the House doesn’t drop its “Year of Religious Diversity” resolution under consideration in its State Government Committee.

Ernest Perce V, who recently was under fire for a controversial Harrisburg billboard he designed and paid for protesting the “Year of the Bible” resolution the House adopted this year, said he plans to whip, or flog, the Koran in the Capitiol rotunda at noon on Sept. 24 should the House not agree to nullify the resolution before it reconvenes from summer recess that day.

…Perce said he plans to thrash the Koran witha nine-tail whip 85 times and a single whip six times to protest the resolution’s number.

“I am a nonbeliever and for (the House) to assume we respect these books is [asinine],” Perce, a Harrisburg resident, said. “I will let other atheists come with me (to protest). I want Christians to lash the Koran, too.”

Allow me to express the depth of my bewilderment through the always-useful internet proxy of an adorable animal photo.

How, exactly, this will accomplish anything is beyond me. Well, I don’t mean “anything” anything. Because it has accomplished at least one thing, which is to put Perce’s name smack at the top of the shit list of every dude on Earth with a kufi and an AK. I mean anything positive and favorable toward what I presume is the hoped-for outcome: to wit, getting across the message that church/state separation is really for the best, and by the way, all those stereotypes you have about atheists being raging assholes are just unfair and wrong.

Yep. Yep. Well played, Mr. Perce.

Hemant reports that he has been talking to Dave Silverman, and Silverman is most assuredly not down with this, and is not lending Perce his or AA’s support. No, we don’t respect “holy” books or the often abominable belief systems they inspire. But there’s such a thing as productive ways to express your disapproval of public policy. And choosing one that does nothing but alienate not only Muslims but pretty much anybody not named Geert Wilders or Ann Coulter, which also stands to drown the whole atheist community in the backwash into the bargain, probably isn’t what a rational person would call “productive.”

Let’s leave the public displays of histrionic hate to the Terry Joneses and Shirley Phelpses of the world, shall we? And Dave? Looks like AA needs to do a little house-cleaning.

The funniest plea for attention we’ve ever gotten

Sometimes theists will try to goad and taunt atheists into an argument, because that’s what you have to do when you haven’t actually got a good argument. But this one, which came in a personal email to Beth Presswood, is just all kinds of hilarious.

I feel like getting into a debate with you guys, but the problem is that I have access to scholarly philosophical arguments from William Lane Craig and you guys have popular arguments from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, so you guys aren’t going to understand proper logic. You’ll make a fallacious statement without knowing it. I’m not really sure what to talk about, but could you give me a topic and we can discuss something? I’m not trying to insult you or anything, it’s just on your show, you use popular internet atheist arguments that are simply unsophisticated and unscholarly. But let’s talk about something.

Your friend in reason,
Anthony
ReasonableFaith.org

Anyway, it’s Russell and Jeff on today’s show. See you then.


Anthony has written back, and I’ve responded in detail after the jump.
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I can haz cognitive dissonance?

Good old religion.

It’s what allows people to abuse a child by teaching him to do this…

And then turn right around in the face of public outrage and make this statement on their webpage.

Yeah, but...the song...

If the spectacle of adults cheering homophobic hate they trained a child to sing doesn’t quite reconcile with their claims they don’t hate anybody, welcome to the bizarro world of Christianity. You know, as vile as this is, it’s also kind of awesome. Really. My hope is that by more and more incidents like this coming to public attention, Christianity will become further and further marginalized as this appalling, fringe community no decent, moral, emotionally mature and well-adjusted adult would be seen dead being a part of. The Millennial generation are already leaving the faith in droves, much to the chagrin of the fundie old guard, and it must be said that Christianity’s constant message of hate, ignorance, fear and bigotry has been a major factor in turning people off.

I would love for nothing more than to see this toddler, years from now as an adult, reformed in Nathan Phelps or Marjoe Gortner style, speaking before atheist and secular organizations about the evils of the faith. And the crazy thing is, it could just happen!

Stay classy!

This is an actual postcard snail-mailed to residents of Conway, SC, by The Rock Church, inviting people to their Easter services.

The blood smear is an especially nice touch, don't you think?

Nice, huh? Now imagine you’re a parent with a kid, and this turns up in the mail, and either your kid sees it, or you immediately think “Holy shit! My kid could see this…” Well, you don’t have to imagine it, because that’s what happened.

Now as you all know, I’m not bashful about sick, politically incorrect, potty-mouthed humor. But I like to think I have enough basic common sense to gauge my audience. I try to understand the fine line between what’s really funny, that people will get, and what’s just trolling. But what happened here is that The Rock Church basically trolled its own congregation and its entire community. Smooth.

Kevin Childs, the pastor, has offered an apology. And he assures us he’s really sorry, and that he’s not making one of those “‘if you’re offended, I’m sorry you’re offended’ non-apologies that don’t impress me either.” But while I’m sure he thinks he’s being sincere, his apology actually turns out to be more offensive than if he’d offered one of those Limbaugh-style not-pologies after all. And here’s why.

The problem isn’t so much the card, it’s the grotesque prejudice behind it.

Apparently, Childs is surprised and disappointed at the criticisms he’s getting, not from his congregation (whom he dismisses, strangely, as “fussy over-churched little Pharisees” — seriously, this guy’s on douche overload), but from atheists.

…if MUCH of the criticism is coming from the very people my own heart longs to reach, THAT stops me in my tracks. I could pretend otherwise. I could stick my jaw out, think up some zinger come-backs, and pretend I’m “earnestly contending for the faith.”

Listen, if fussy over-churched little Pharisees slam us, I honestly could not care less. If their unbelieving neighbors say that we’ve pushed them FURTHER from faith, that will keep me up at night. If our attempt at edgy irreverent outreach cast our church and Christianity in a bad light, blame me. Just me. And I apologize.

Wait, what?

So, Kevin, what you’re saying is that you really intended your card as an outreach to atheists? Because somewhere in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan, you got the idea that we’re such disgraceful, immature, heartless and morally bankrupt people that we would look at an image making a joke of animal cruelty and totally go “LOL! Dude, I used to think religion was bullshit. But this church looks like the fucking bomb! Look at that little bunny’s guts! LMAO! I gotta go to this church now. Maybe if I get lucky the pastor will sodomize a couple of kids and put a kitten in a microwave!”

I mean, really?

Look, dude. You want to reach out to us? Fine. Here’s a protip. We like things like arguments, and evidence, and discussion, and rational discourse. We’re not a bunch of overgrown frat boys lighting farts and doing our best to extend our arrested adolescence into our fifties. (Can you actually light a fart, by the way?) That would be you, if this is any indication. To get us into your church, you first need to convince us your God exists at all. And the way to do that is by engaging that dusty little thing you’ve had on the shelf for years called a mind. Really, man, you could not have faceplanted into a steaming pile of fail more gracelessly if you were Pauly Shore starring in a Uwe Boll movie.

And no, I’m not judging your whole church by your own idiocy, because those fussy little Pharisees have called you on all this, too. If anyone reading this is from Conway, and you know this guy, or anyone from his church, please, tell them to tell him to give his head a shake.

Don’t Be a Dick redux — now with Real Life Adventure!

Had an absolutely insane personal encounter today that I’m still having difficulty processing, because it was the sort of display of flagrantly irrational, histrionic and emotional behavior that we as atheists and rationalists criticize, but which you in fact rarely get to experience right in your face. It reminded me of a great many basic axioms though. For one thing, being an atheist is no guarantee you’ll come with rationality pre-installed. For another, it never fails that people who have fanatical views that they refuse to see challenged will be the first to praise themselves as beacons of reason. It’s a human flaw I suppose we must all watch out for.

So I’m at a nearby mall today, when I pass by a fellow — who Shall Remain Unnamed — who, many years ago, used to be an ACA member. He left a while back, to the disappointment of few, it must be said, and I recall not liking him much personally for some prima donna behavior he exhibited in regards to the TV show at the time. But anyway, I caught his eye and decided it never hurts to be friendly, so I waved and said hi. I soon had cause to regret my sociability.

We spoke for a moment, and everything was gas and gators. Then he demonstrated that, since leaving the ACA, he’s travelled to a much weirder place, by turning the conversation towards — are you ready? — 9/11 conspiracy theories. Basically, he buys them.

Now, before I continue, I’m sure this is futile but the point of this post is not to start a sprawling endless comment thread debating such theories. (Just go here if you want to have that discussion.) It’s to talk about, well, behavior. And I think it dovetails with a lot of current kerfuffle that’s playing itself out among the online godless community right now — like Rebecca Watson and the Elevator Incident. In other words, part of living the rational life is having a sense of self-awareness. How you interact with others has much to do with how your message will be received. This is basic common sense and socialization, not an advocacy of tone trolling. Indeed, there are times in-your-face rudeness is the way to respond. But in most cases — and certainly in public — how you behave reveals more about you than you might wish people knew. Not only does it reveal what your beliefs are, but it reveals how those beliefs inform whether you’re a normal, cool person that others want to interact with. In short, if you cannot control yourself, expect to be an embittered loner, whose sense of victimhood is shored up by righteousness. Which brings me back to the person at hand.

So the guy shows me the new issue of Skeptical Inquirer, and indignantly denounces its cover story debunking 9/11 conspiracy mongering as “propaganda.” He then goes on to speculate that the Center for Inquiry has been infiltrated by the CIA, who planted the story in the magazine. (He did not, in his genius, consider that if the CIA was doing this sort of thing, they certainly have the wherewithal to plant such a story in bigger and better-selling publications than Skeptical Inquirer, whose global circulation is around 50,000, compared to, say, Time‘s 3.3 million.) Anyway, it was a farrago of absurdity, and I could tell he was passionate about it.

Now, you know me from the show. I’m snarky. So when he mentioned that the airplanes that crashed into the towers had “nothing whatsoever to do” with their collapsing, despite destroying support columns and causing fires in excess of 1000 degrees, I replied, “So what, was it just special effects on TV, when we witnessed the planes actually hit the buildings?”

Rule #1 when dealing with the fundamentalist mindset (which is something one sees displayed often in non-religious environments, you know): Mock them, or even make them think you’re mocking them, and they will completely lose their shit. Which this guy did. Right there, in public, in the middle of a shopping mall.

So he leans in, and starts shouting at me. No really…shouting. And it has now become a “violating personal space” issue, in addition to the plain inappropriate public display of temper. So, not being one to take this kind of crap, let alone from someone whom I approached for a friendly social chat despite not especially liking him in the first place, I put up both hands and said, “No! Wrong! I’m not doing this in public. Goodbye.” And I walked off.

Naturally, he followed me, keeping up his harangue. How could anyone believe that “gravity could make buildings fall”? Etc etc. Now I am seriously pissed, and begin making my way towards a nearby jewelry store, where they usually employ a cop. Really. I am not making any of this up.

Finally, I stop, in the hopes of just convincing him to fuck off before I have to go and make things really ugly, like pressing public nuisance charges. After another few seconds of heated exchange, he wailed that he has “lost all respect for every atheist blah blah blah.” I say, “Good, so goodbye! Stop following me!” And he leaves.

Gang, this happened. I mean, this happened.

What is it that turns a person into something like this? I understand ideologies, I understand being someone who gets too emotionally involved in what you believe, and I understand a lack of self-awareness and poor social skills. But outside of street riots — where the environment seems to be conducive — you don’t tend to encounter someone whose complete lack of anything resembling basic respect for others and common sense is so proudly on display.

At the core of it all, I think, is irrationality married to poor social skills. Irrationality is not necessarily about what you believe (though yeah, it often is), but how you believe it, why you believe it, and how your beliefs inform your personal interactions and behaviors. After all, why would a rational person choose to take a friendly greeting in a shopping mall as an invitation to start a shouting match about whatever political thing you have up your ass today? And if you expect the person you’re trying to pick this fight with to disagree with you anyway (he began by saying that he expected I, like “most atheists,” to have “swallowed the official 9/11 story”), then what other than arrogant stupidity would provoke you to go ballistic at them when they give you the expected disagreement? If he really hoped to persuade me I’m wrong for not believing in a conspiracy, did he really think totally jumping my shit in the middle of a fucking shopping mall was the way I’d have my mind changed?

I reiterate that this fellow is an atheist, and that his reason for leaving ACA was that we weren’t the group of political agitators he wanted us to be, plus the part he doesn’t mention, which was that he also didn’t like the way we reacted negatively to his being a douche to everyone. But his behavior today was entirely in keeping with his behavior of the past. When in the group, he angered the entire TV crew — of which he was not a part — by turning up at the studio one Sunday holding a bunch of signs he’d had printed, pronouncing himself “art director,” and proceeding to redecorate the backdrop (which took 45 minutes longer than it usually did) with these signs, which had type so small they couldn’t be read onscreen. When repeatedly told this, he flounced off in a huff, making a misogynist insult against one of our women crew and deriding our “amateurishness.” I followed him into the parking lot and chewed him about six new assholes, and never saw him again, until today. Guess I shouldn’t have been shocked.

So, why am I belaboring you all with this? Well, in part, it’s cathartic. In other part, it was a healthy reminder of the dangers of irrationality — the unwillingness to have your views challenged or to entertain that you may be wrong, the blindness to how your behavior affects others, the inability to what what behavior is appropriate and when, the failure of letting temper control you rather than vice versa. We all talk about crazy fundies and how they impose themselves where they aren’
t wanted. But if we wish to consider ourselves on the side of the “angels” of reason, if you’ll pardon my phrasing, then we should be vigilant and self-aware, strictly applying our own standards to ourselves before we demand them from others. I guess what I’m saying is — “Don’t Be a Dick!” I don’t, like Phil, think we all do it, and I certainly don’t agree that challenging anyone in any way is dickish. But with a little too much ego and self-absorption, and too little sense and rational thought, anyone can be a dick if they don’t watch out. An encounter like today’s is upsetting, sure. But you can take it as a cautionary tale, and get the positive from it.

And that’s your drama for today. And I bet you thought Matt got all the wackos. Now, I’m going to go hang with my dogs.

In which Martin and Tracie give Gavin the respect he’s earned. (Long one, sorry.)

It may seem pointless dealing with the contemptible behavior of trolls, an activity annoying enough for any hundred people. Especially when the troll in question takes this pitifully dishonest tack of assailing us with the most repugnant insults he can come up with (and if you ask me, Matt could hardly be blamed if he knocked Gavin Chandler’s teeth down his throat over the things he wrote about Beth, though of course Matt won’t, because he’s a bigger man than that, and both Matt and Beth have already dismissed Gavin as beneath their notice, let alone their contempt) only to shift gears, apologize profusely, and try to claim that all he was doing was trying to teach us a lesson about how horrible it feels to be abused so awfully, which he seems to think we do to all our callers, and to which he also seems to think his disgracefully juvenile behavior is somehow analogous.

In short, Gavin’s a despicable creep whose failure to make his point effectively — if in fact that’s what he was all about — is so epic it’s hard to wrap your mind around it fully. I didn’t think it was possible, but he’s actually been worse than the lamentable Yomin, whom I did almost sue for libel (and whose life has since spectacularly fallen apart, as he’s currently facing misdemeanor domestic violence charges). Gavin’s like someone who notices that his neighbors have allowed their trash cans to spill over onto his yard, and responds by burning their house down, then saying, “There! You see what it’s like having your property line violated? Be more respectful next time!”

Gavin wrote what he calls his “final” email to us — though there have been several after that, which I won’t read, even though the subject line on one of them is “I am deeply ashamed of myself.” (He should be, but a burnt bridge is a burnt bridge.) Still, with this one, he promised that if we posted it, he’d go away for good. I doubt this, and he’s still commenting like mad on our Facebook page. But here’s the letter, with responses from both Tracie (reprinted from Facebook with permission) and myself, in the hopes (eyeroll) that he’ll live up to his promise.

Yes, I know, feeding trolls only makes them come back for more. But I weigh the instructive value of doing this kind of thing to be worth something, if only so that people know what’s out there awaiting you when you do what we do, and how desperately people will distort the facts to make a point that really wasn’t all that earth-shaking to begin with. Still, I’ll understand anyone who thinks any more attention given this kid is unwarranted, and chooses to skip this post.


Gavin’s subject line on this one was “AETV – A Respectful Presentation of My Actual Concerns.”

I decided to gather my thoughts, take a hot bath, and write a message free of insults and hate, to clearly explain my concerns. This email is the result.

Tracie: I can hardly wait.

There’s more to life than the first amendment. What about being calm and collected when you take viewer calls? You should try that. You’d reach more hearts and minds that way.

Tracie: Very insightful from the guy who submitted nothing but letter after letter full of laughable lists of ridiculous slanders as his input to reaching hearts and minds.

Martin: The Atheist Experience has run continually since 1997, when I suspect Gavin was still playing with Transformers. For most of that time it has been a live call-in show. The entire time, it has been a learning experience. One of the things about live television is that you never know what you’re going to get. A call can start well then go south in a hurry. A theist you thought might be a jerk may turn out to provide interesting conversation, while a self-described atheist (lookin’ at you, Charlie) may turn out to be a total douchey troll.

When I was host, I lost my temper a couple of times, which I’m not proud of. But you know, that’s all part of learning. I also recall many heated debates with Christian callers — and before the days of YouTube and streaming, most of our callers were Christian — that nonetheless never collapsed into name-calling and rage.

Still, discussions between Christians and atheists can get heated simply by their very nature. For believers, their emotional attachment to the faith is so powerful that it’s hard for them not to blow a gasket when confronted by a confident atheist argument. And no two callers are the same, even when, as today, most of them are fellow atheists.

Gavin is trying to claim that being rude and insulting to callers is our modus operandi across the board, which any honest viewer who’s watched more than a tiny handful of fan-posted YouTube clips knows full well is just plain false. So if Gavin’s starting out his “respectful” presentation with a total misrepresentation of the show, how does he expect to reach our hearts and minds now?

Only a child would…

Tracie: EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION ATTEMPT FLAG: If you do what I’m about to say, then you’re a “child.” What he doesn’t get is that this only means it’s his personal assessment that only a child would do what he’s about to say. And he doesn’t get that it requires buy-in from the other party in the conversation to have any real impact. In other words, if I disagree that only a child would do it, it takes the wind out of the proverbial sails.

…defend screaming and swearing and belittling someone by wrapping it in the Constitution. Sure, it is OK to do it, under law…

Tracie: That would mean that it is, in fact, defended by the Constitution — and so does not require “wrapping” in anything — it is legal. It is Constitutional. We agree.

Martin: Gavin has this odd idea that, by acknowledging the Constitutional rights of groups like the Phelpses to hold protests at veterans’ funerals — something every one of us finds a loathsome exercise in attention-seeking — somehow equates to endorsing that activity. Frankly, anyone so stupid as to not grasp that basic distinction is beyond communicating with, IMO.

We ran into this same stupid attitude last year from some people, when we acknowledged the rights of the Cordoba Initiative to construct Park 51 in Manhattan on property they owned. A handful of folks accused us of being “soft” on Islam. Honestly, how willfully ignorant and dishonest do you have to be to equate the one thing with the other? Acknowledging a right is not the same thing as supporting or endorsing the person(s) exercising that right. I mean, freaking duh! (And anyway, all those people protesting what they falsely call the “Ground Zero Mosque”? We acknowledge their rights too. Fancy that!)

but you seem to think that something legal is also MORALLY acceptable.

Tracie: Not quite — because I’d have to first see the clip in which we reacted so horribly to a caller that it could be unambiguously labeled as “immoral.” Unfortunately, Gavin supplied no examples. But next, I want to note that when a behavior by others is labeled “immoral” — the onus is upon the one labeling to demonstrate it. Many actions have no moral quality at all — such as eating a berry. Is it moral or immoral? It’s simply eating a berry — there is nothing moral to judge there. And could someone on the other end of a phone say an “immoral” thing to me? They can say things that are rude. Things I may not like. Things that may prompt me to hang up. But “immoral”? I’m not quite sold that raising your voice and using an expletive is “immoral.”

You’re confusing laws and morals.

Tracie: I think you’re confusing “uncivil” with “immoral.” Rude is not immoral. The bar for immoral is rather higher than rude.

They aren’t
the same thing.

Tracie: And nobody at AETV has ever said law is morality. In fact, we’ve often pointed out to callers these are two separate things — law and morality. So, no argument there.

Many things that are legal could be considered immoral.

Tracie: I wouldn’t say “many” — but certainly some.

It’s legal for a person to lie, so long as they aren’t entering a contract or aren’t under oath… but most people find it morally wrong to lie… how many relationships have been destroyed by dishonesty?

Tracie: Duplicity is something I would agree is, in some circumstances, immoral. Fortunately where it causes real damage, we do generally also have laws against it — such as fraud (which was mentioned). Is a lie that does no harm immoral? Can lying break relationships? Yes. I agree it can. But is dishonesty that harms a good comparison to rude honesty? If his only point is to say law and morality aren’t the same, then no dialog needed, since we agree.

Martin: There are immoral lies, then there are totally moral lies. (If I know where Anne Frank is hiding, I’m going to lie my ass off to the Nazis.) Beyond that, I need no lecture on the morality of lying from a contemptible little fuck who repeatedly accused Matt of stealing money from the ACA to pay for his wedding.

Aw, was I being insulting again? You’re welcome.

It is legal to cheat on your spouse, but most people find it immoral. It hurts the other party greatly, usually, and often destroys the relationship (where children are sometimes involved). But should freedom to cheat trump these other things? Since cheating is legal, is it also morally acceptable?

Tracie: See above.

It is legal to swear, call people names, and publicly humiliate them. But is it morally right?

Martin: Physician, heal thyself.

Tracie: And here I fail to see the comparison. For example, there was a lot of ink spilled when a woman called AETV to defend her beliefs and ended with an assertion she didn’t need to defend anything to AETV. Matt asked “why the fuck did you call, then?” — and I found it to be a legitimate question and a fair expression of exasperation. Some people were upset that the woman excused herself from the call at that point, and felt Matt chased her off. But really, at the point she is asserting she isn’t going to defend anything, wasn’t she pretty well done? So, was the swearing “immoral,” simply because this one caller said she was offended by it and hung up? I’d have to say “no.”

Can I humiliate someone else on AETV? If so, how? I don’t see this. If you think it’s possible to verbally publicly humiliate a person by expressing your honest opinions about them (and bear in mind callers call us and can hang up any time), how are they humiliated when they’re totally cloaked from public view and nobody even knows who they are but for the name they choose to give the phone screener? Additionally if you and I were in public and you tried to humiliate me, how would you go about it? Let’s say you begin hurling insults. I think you’d come off looking like a loon as I walked away. But I’d hardly be personally “humiliated” by some wingnut hurling names at me publicly.

Such treatment can cause a person to have a nervous breakdown, become depressed, or even have thoughts of suicide. It can destroy a person’s self esteem, cause them to withdraw into themselves, and make them lose all hope.

Tracie: Ah, OK, here is the core of our difference. I don’t have a magic wand that gives me power to make people give a shit what I, as a total stranger, think of them. Anyone on this planet can say and think “I don’t care what this woman thinks,” and I have zero power to force them to care. So, no, I can’t “cause” any of those things listed above by either having or expressing my negative assessment of a person or their beliefs. No matter how rude I am (and in fact, the more rude I am, the more they should realize I’m not a person whose opinion they should bother with), why should anyone care what Tracie thinks or says? Who am I? How does my opinion impact their lives if I do nothing to impact their lives, only express my assessment of it? Isn’t their decision to internalize it and make it powerful theirs?

Martin: Essentially Gavin is chiding us because we are not sufficiently psychic to know in advance whether or not the caller on the other end may have such profound psychological distress in his life that he might just haul off and blow his brains out because Matt calls him an idiot. Well, gee, guilty as charged.

But what is Gavin’s alternative there? A world where everyone is walking on eggshells, not speaking an opinion for fear that the person whose feelings they hurt might just jump off a bridge? How can we control another person’s emotional state? And how is any choice they make our responsibility? We are a bunch of folks on TV taking about a subject — atheism — most people find socially unacceptable anyway. How exactly does Gavin propose we present it in a way inoffensive to everyone, even those predisposed to be offended as much as possible?

I do not deny the power of suasion. It is possible to be an irresponsible public figure whose words do harm. There are at least two incidents where men have been arrested while on their way to commit mass murders (one at the offices of the Tides Foundation, one at Planned Parenthood), who confessed to police that they were inspired to do their crimes after listening to Glenn Beck. While I don’t hold Beck to blame for their choice to commit murder (he’s very careful that way), I do think Beck is deliberately irresponsible in the way he creates a tone of fear, hatred and paranoia that a mentally imbalanced fan can run with.

Still, there’s no remote comparison to that, and anything we’ve ever done on AETV. And as far as telling a stupid and arrogant caller that he’s being stupid and arrogant, well, I say that’s fair game. The vast majority of our calls are civil and pleasant. The crazy ones just make for the most entertaining and popular YouTube clips.

But since it is legal, that makes it ok?

Tracie: No, what makes it (not “OK,” as it would be generally rude to swear and scream at people, but…) not immoral is that the “damage” caused is self-inflicted. You’re basically willing to do self-inflicted damage in order to try to frame me for it. I think that is closer to immoral than calling someone an idiot. Trying, unabashed, to be an emotional manipulator is about as low as one can get.

It is ok to destroy someone’s self esteem, peaceful mind, and hope for the future? It’s legal, but is it morally right?

Tracie: The problem is that words can’t do this in the context we’re discussing. A subjective assessment of me by a stranger who has talked with me for a few minutes over the phone, while I remain anonymous to everyone, can hardly really harm me. Any “harm” I suffer as a result is at my own hands/brain.

I believe that with my few short examples, I have demonstrated that even something allowed under the law can be harmful to real human beings. This is the essence, the core reason that I object to the way you handle some of your callers.

Tracie: Gavin did give a couple decent examples of things that are legal that can mess up lives. But name-calling or swearing, in the AETV context, wasn’t one of them. That’s the problem.

Martin: The adult world is harsh. AETV isn’t Romper Room. We don’t seek to hurt anyone. But we have a duty to all our viewers to be as honest in our opinion and our communication as
we can. Take yourself as a prime example, Gavin: We didn’t make you feel the way you feel about us. We didn’t make you troll the hell out of us with crazy emails full of threats and personal attacks. You chose to do those things, and the derision you’re now enduring on Facebook and at this blog is the result of that choice — your choice. And the moment you have the epiphany that lets you understand that, you’ll probably understand why your sanctimonious preaching about “moral” behavior is meeting with such universal derision, and why I set your words in Comic Sans, and why no one has gotten your “point,” which you buried under a wave of petulant assholishness.

When you guys fiercely defend the first amendment, you are missing the larger picture.

Tracie: I guarantee you, we’re not. And we don’t use the first amendment as a defense for our responses to callers, anyway, because generally we don’t even agree there’s a basic moral problem with our caller responses. So we don’t even need to get into legal defenses of it. The “harm” you’re claiming isn’t real. You can’t call it “immoral” when the only “harm” it causes is genuinely self-inflicted discomfort. That’s the caller’s choice, not our doing or intent.

Words sometimes can, and do cause harm.

Martin: Says the piece of shit fucktool who wrote this: “Matt, by the way, Beth is an ugly fucking goon. Jesus Christ, you couldn’t do any better than to find some ginger-haired pug-faced neanderthal for a potential wife? You can tell by the slanted aloof look on her face that her daddy definitely boned her in her ginger asshole a few more times than was necessary.” Speaking from experience, Gavin?

Tracie: Not when they’re honest assessments handed out to anonymous callers by people who have no authority over them or desire to interfere in their lives.

Martin: And it’s my honest assessment that Gavin is a piece of shit fucktool. It would be tragic if he were to jump off a bridge. Not to me, but to someone.

What you are promoting by your unwavering support of the first amendment over all else is that respect, human decency, common courtesy, and polite restraint are worth nothing, and count for nothing.

Martin: (Breathe… count to 10…)

Tracie: Wow. So, unless we gut free speech (for the speech that most needs defending — offensive speech), we’re against human decency: false dilemma fallacy. Fred Phelps may be indecent, but I can guarantee you that someone somewhere thinks what you have to say is indecent…

Martin: I’d say those someones number in the thousands by now.

Tracie: Should we only talk, then, about the weather? The fact is, you don’t pass laws protecting speech that are intended to protect small talk and compliments. What sort of speech needs legal protection? That would be speech that is in danger of being silenced. Like him or not, that would be Fred Phelps.

That, to me, is shameful. Whether the Constitution says it or not, with freedom comes responsibility.

Martin: I think your very existence is shameful and irresponsible, Gavin. That’s the thing about life. You gotta take the bad with the good.

Tracie: And maturity. Learn that you’re hurting yourself. Stop blaming others for your childish offenses and attitude. Learn to not be so sensitive to what other people think. You really can choose to not care or worry about it. Try it. You’ll be amazed how simple it is.

There is an element of verbal abuse that you have totally ignored, and that is the emotional element.

Martin: I think I’m just going to stop buying irony/hypocrisy meters. When they explode so frequently they get expensive to replace.

Tracie: When a person is, again, anonymous, and has a capacity to hang up at any time, you can’t verbally abuse them beyond what they agree to accept. Again, if they don’t like what they get, click, and we’re shut down — it’s that easy. How can I abuse anyone, beyond what they agree to accept, who has the capacity to shut me down that easily at any time?

Words can be strung together in such a fashion that they are considered abuse, legally. Ask psychologists about the effects of emotional abuse. Sometimes the effects can be as profound as the effects of physical abuse.

Martin: Did you consult a psychologist before composing that impressive string of remarks about Beth, you cockwart?

Tracie: Yes, and these studies were done on the short-term exposure (couple minutes or less) of AETV callers who where otherwise stable and had a host they don’t even know say to them, as they were totally anonymous, “that’s ridiculous.” This is what destroys lives and damages psyches for a lifetime: not abusive parenting over many years, but an arguably rude two-minute phone conversation with a complete stranger, over which the caller has complete control, and can hang up at any time.

I’ve avoided insults in this email…

Martin: If there are any insults, the more offensive and hurtful the better, that I have failed to inflict upon you in answering this email, the oversight was unintentional. I invite our readers to make up the deficit.

Tracie: I’m guessing because you used them all up in your prior lunatic rants. But what you held back in insult, you made up for in inanity.

…to lay out in specific language exactly why I have a problem with hosts on your show verbally abusing callers.

Tracie: I think your complaint is unmerited, for reasons expressed above.

Martin: Good job replacing “self-righteous dishonest bullshit” with “unmerited” there, Tracie. Sounds much more polite and civil. Goodness knows we wouldn’t want Gav to go running off in tears or anything.

It is immoral.

Tracie: No, you’re saying that, but you haven’t demonstrated it. People need to take some personal, adult responsibility at some point in their lives and stop blaming others for how they feel and react.

Martin: And by “people,” we mean “Gavin.”

Tracie: If you go fetal and require 20 years of group therapy because an Internet show host called you “ridiculous,” I think your problems existed before you called our show.

Martin: You think?

It hurts people more than you likely realize.

Tracie: Only immature, codependent “adults” who like to saddle others with their emotional responses and needs. If it were small children, who aren’t fully emotionally developed, calling us, you might have a point.

Martin: I think Gavin has pulled off the remarkable feat of belonging to both those categories.

Sure, it gets a few laughs from the less-mature people amidst your viewers… but some of us take offense to it

Martin: Because Gavin is, of course, one of our more mature viewers…LOLOCAUST!

Tracie: And I should care, why? Some viewers aren’t immature, and don’t see a problem with it, and aren’t just giggling over it.

…and rightly so.

Tracie: Says you.

Martin: And you are more worthy of being taken seriously than any other tone troll how, again?

All else aside, you’re supposed to be mature adults conducting a discussion program.

Martin: No! You can’t make me!

Tracie: Says the guy who can’t even take responsib
ility for himself and his emotional reactions, the guy who wrote a list of immature idiotic libelous garbage to a group of strangers on the Internet. Yes, you’re the poster boy for judging “maturity.” If I, or anyone, go fetal because I am called “idiot,” that’s not the problem of the person who assessed and described me as an idiot. I need to work out my own some self-esteem issues. But I can’t expect others to live their lives walking on egg shells, worried that every person they meet is a fragile, emotional basket case. People deserve more credit than that.

You ask people to call in.

Tracie: And if they want to, they do.

You invite them to contact you,

Tracie: Yes,and they know what the score is when they call.

Martin: Is this pitiful stupid boy somehow equating “invite” with “force”?

…only to abuse them in many cases.

Tracie: I call Shenanigans. If you call in and are unreasonable, and you’re called “unreasonable” (or some facsimile thereof), that’s no more “abuse” than calling a red-head a red-head. I’ve said it 1,000 times, and here is 1,001: If you don’t want to be called “stupid,” the best way to avoid it is to not make stupid comments to us on the phone. Being stupid, and then getting angry when you are described as “stupid,” is…well…stupid.

Martin: Really, we only pile on the abuse when it is earned. Take you, for instance…

That isn’t illegal, but is it morally acceptable?

Martin: I can honestly say that there is coliform bacteria slaloming around my toilet bowl that gives more of a shit (see what I did there?) about what you think is “morally acceptable” than I do. And you lost your right to take any kind of moral high ground on any subject about 10 emails ago. Tone trolling from such a contemptible and dishonest hypocrite is only good for a laugh, or a sneer of disgust.

Tracie: It’s not morally anything. Comparing an AETV host who says to an anonymous caller after a couple minutes “you’re being an idiot” to people damaging their kids using verbal abuse on a forming, immature mind…is just…well…stupid, again.

Even further, do you think such behavior paints you as a respectable organization?

Martin: We have 14 years of establishing ourselves as a respectable organization, and have achieved global acclaim thereby. Matt has engaged in public debates with clergymen. Some of the rest of us have represented ACA in both formal and informal capacities, and met with uniformly friendly responses. We get several emails a week from viewers who thank us for helping with their personal crises of belief and conviction, for helping them deal with religious family members in ways that don’t alienate them from their families altogether, or just to say thanks for all we do. So, we’re not worried about being perceived as a respectable organization, because we know we are. And it’s because — pay attention to this point closely — the overwhelming majority of our viewers are not emotionally stunted adolescent hysterics who hear the occasional rude word on our TV show, and get their panties so bunched that they feel sufficiently justified to bombard us with repeated baseless legal threats, risible bragging about “exposing” us in a “documentary,” and vile insults about people’s fianceés that are so far beyond the pale of decency that any possible chance of recovering any level of respect for yourself is beyond hope. In other words, total pieces of shit like you, Gavin, are a thankfully rare breed, and I hope you live up to your promise now that this email has been posted and fuck. off. forever.

Couldn’t that behavior actually discourage some people from joining your organization or watching future episodes of the show?

Tracie:Possibly…but on the other hand lots of people like the show for the same reasons you’re complaining about it. Changing the game to gain viewers at the potential cost of losing those who enjoy the current format would be robbing Peter to pay Paul, to borrow a Bible metaphor. This is your view, your opinion. Others disagree and write in to praise the very behavior that apparently upsets you.

Martin: It is my sincerest hope that you have been dissuaded from all of those things, and from contacting us again in any form, and perhaps even from living anywhere on Earth other than a small rocky desert island where no one has to remember you exist. But I’ll take the first two in a pinch.

Many times, the harsh treatment of a caller might be somewhat justified, if they begin yelling, swearing, or being disrespectful.

Tracie: I don’t see how that works. If I think yelling and swearing are wrong, I don’t see how it is suddenly justified with “two wrongs make a right”? That’s unreasonable. It isn’t like throwing punches, where I might actually have to be violent in response to violence for self-defense. Screaming at someone screaming at me has no benefit, is not required for self-preservation, and therefore has no “justification.” But it does demonstrate the immature framework you’re operating within.

Martin: Hold on, you mean, suddenly, now, Gavin is twigging to the very basic point that sometimes, it’s the caller who’s rude, and that it may happen that we treat them rudely in return? Which is what we’ve been explaining all along? Christ, I knew he was slow, but seriously. Still, Tracie’s right. If a call is descending to the level of a screaming match, it’s easier to just hang up.

But often enough, you begin yelling or insulting even when the caller has been totally calm, collected, and respectful the whole time.

Tracie: Really? You used Jeff’s responses to callers regarding Hell as an example in prior notes. Is threatening someone calmly with “hell” moral? Is it kind? Is it “respectful”? Calling you human garbage that deserves to be tortured forever, is fine, if you don’t yell it? I disagree.

You paint me as a fool,

Martin: Oh no, I paint you as much worse. And I just call ‘em as I see ‘em.

Tracie: No, you paint yourself as a fool. We just publicized it, because you said you were going to publicize it anyway, yourself.

and I partially deserve it,

Tracie: You own all your own words, fully, not partially. Other people control none of them.

Martin: Yes, like all moral hypocrites, you’ll use a scorched-earth policy of utter condemnation against others, while cutting yourself plenty of slack. Have you considered a career at Fox News?

but I do have a mature message underneath all the BS.

Tracie: And when you get done defending childish codependency, I look forward to hearing to this more “mature message.”

Martin: Because from our vantage point, we see BS underneath, and on top of, all the other BS.

My message is: With your show, you have a tremendous opportunity to open hearts and minds to the fallacies of religion.

Martin: Man, and here I thought we were a cooking show.

Tracie: Oh, that I know. I know because we get mail daily from people telling us we’ve helped them with exactly that.

Martin: Just from the last couple of days:

Don’t know if this show is still on in the US, but I think it’s great! It’s
so rare to see people who have really thought about the whole god think. I’m
in Australia so I can only watch on Yo
utube..Thanks a lot for your time..Cheers, Peter C.

I don’t make much right now in terms of income, but no doubt when I get my proverbial shit together I will be donating. You guys have changed my life in a way that seriously brings tears to my eyes. I hope you can continue to spread the real good news haha. I haven’t gotten to call in but I will next week. Thank you so much…you’ll never TOTALLY understand just how much you’ve helped me. (Jonathan Haggerty)

Please know that you are some of the most moral and virtuous people I’ve ever known, and also know that I’m not one to make bold statements like that disingenuously. Not only do you, unlike most, make moral behavior a top priority, you use reason to answer the tough moral questions that many others would prefer just to dismiss and ignore. You pursue truth, you deeply value intellectual honesty, you’re willing to admit when you don’t know something and also willing to admit when you were wrong, and you give me hope for the future and inspire me to pursue morality and virtue as you do. As disheartened as you surely must become from time to time when you see all that goes on around you, please never forget that your efforts are not in vain. You are heroes to many of us, and I thank you enormously for your service to humanity–you are champions of all the things that are most valuable in this world. (Logan Vanover)

In many ways, you squander that opportunity by resorting to insults, name calling, ridiculing callers or swearing at them, etc.

Tracie: And yet, we get mail from people saying we’ve helped them. Is it possible that some people respond to seeing stupidity called out openly and honestly, and other people prefer a less direct approach? This is why we have different personalities presenting on AETV, by the way. Different strokes and all. Let me assure you we do reach people. And if you think you’d rather see people reached in a different format, which is the same every time, may I suggest that rather than threaten to spend your time making documentaries to slander Internet strangers, you put your unique talents to work making your own show using your real name and location — like we do at AETV. Then you can do it how YOU prefer.

Atheists are supposed to be intelligent and mature, aren’t we?

Martin: It would be nice to think so, which makes your situation all the more tragic.

Tracie: I looked up “atheist” in the dictionary, and it says nothing of the kind. So, I don’t know where you got that these are atheist attributes.

When you exhibit certain behaviors on the show, you appear immature, sometimes petty even.

Martin: And you have frankly lost any chance that I would have any respect for or interest in your opinion of my behavior or anyone else’s, since your own has been unforgivable.

Tracie: Your opinion. You’re entitled to it. Others disagree and write to tell us the opposite of what you’re saying.

You have a responsibility to your viewers that I believe you take too lightly, or not at all.

Martin: And what you believe is both provably wrong, as it’s taken from a gross misrepresentation of how we actually conduct the show, and immaterial, as you’ve demonstrated yourself and your opinions to be unworthy of respect. Really, you could have handled all this so much better.

Tracie: And other viewers, again, disagree with you. So why should we disregard their input and go only with yours?

People aren’t just calling in, unprompted. You are inviting them to call.

Tracie: Yes, we get that. And they make a decision to call or not. Are they going to say something stupid or not? It’s up to them.

You state that you want productive discussion.

Tracie: Right: don’t call up to talk about your beliefs and then say you’ve no intention of defending them. You’ll be asked “why the fuck did you call, then?” Be prepared. Don’t call up and say you think all humans are such scum they deserve to be tortured forever; you’ll be told you’re a dehumanizing, evil person. Be prepared. But even if you’re not bright, if you try to be kind and honest, you’ll get a good reception almost 100 percent of the time on AETV, I can promise you.

The way you frame everything when asking viewers to call in implies that some level of respect and decency will be observed during the conversation.

Martin: A concept you don’t seem to grasp works both ways.

Tracie: And “some level” is. If your claim is that we are a free-for-all and exercise no judgment regarding who gets what sort of response, I beg to differ. We’re not perfect, and mistakes are made, but for the most part, we talk to people who are interested in talking openly and honestly, and who can reason, and we drop those who can’t. And those who are dishonest or disrespectful (and bringing up hell IS disrespectful) get a boot out the door on occasion, it’s true.

When you begin angrily swearing and insulting people, you have contradicted the implications you made when you asked people to call in.

Martin: Oh, you mean like when I call you a miserable piece of shit fucktool and cordially invite you to go blow a charging buffalo? Yeah, I guess, but sometimes it just feels so right.

Tracie: Unless you can show me where someone was honest and reasonable and respectful and a host just went ballistic on him/her, I beg to differ. Again, “calmly” telling Jeff he’s utterly vile is hardly “respectful.”

You don’t only do this with theists, though. Occasionally you also belittle and denigrate a non believer.

Tracie: That’s because we’re equal-opportunity when a caller is an idiot. We’re examining their beliefs and ideas and reasons. If they suck, they suck. We’re not trying to be biased against theists with regard to being stupid. Any idiot who calls, and insists on being an idiot, can expect to be branded an idiot. If they’re not called out for it, they’ve had a lucky call.

Martin: Indeed, it would be the nadir of hypocrisy for us to let atheists (like Charlie the Homophobe) get a pass saying stupid and contemptible things while excoriating theists for it. We don’t do that.

Surely you can see how that kind of behavior can be counterproductive, and how it can potentially cast your organization in a bad light.

Martin: Except we don’t engage in that behavior to the degree you’re whining about, and we know already that our group is in anything but a bad light. So your concerns can be dismissed.

Tracie: What I see is that you think this. And you’re not the only one who thinks this. But we get a lot more letters from viewers who enjoy the format than ones like yours, which are only very occasional (and almost always, as this one, defending their position by defending sick, codependent attitudes as something we should all bend over to accommodate.) I disagree with that attitude.

I also believe it discourages people (particularly believers) from calling in at all.

Tracie: And yet they call. And they write. And they post at our blog.

Martin: Yup, no decrease in any of that traffic. Even a little bit.

There are many people who might think about calling in, but decide not to once they observe you screaming and swearing at someone on the air.

Tracie: Only if they don’t grasp what inspired the rant. And if they can’t decipher that, then th
ey’re probably not reasonable. We’re not psychotics at AETV. We use discernment. Even the most volatile hosts on their most angry days, still explain why they’re ranting as they rant. If I can’t pay attention to the substance, because I’m style-obsessed, then I shouldn’t call AETV, because AETV wants substance. Style doesn’t matter. As I said, calmly calling me “reprobate” as one threatens me with Hell is not “respectful,” just because it’s stylistically calm. The substance is still disgusting and vulgar. I’m not really impressed with the calm delivery.

Ask yourself, do you really think such behavior is going to get you more calls from believers, or fewer?

Tracie: I don’t know…do you? If so, how? Again, I suggest you use your real name and location and start your own show doing it your way, and show us how it should be done. Prove your point. Test your assertion. If you think you can build a better mouse trap, nobody at AETV is stopping you.

Martin: Again, we didn’t start this show last fucking week, assclown. (Oops, naughty Martin is swearing again! Doesn’t he know how much that drives people away?) We’ve been doing it since 1997. And it has only gotten bigger, and bigger, and bigger. So unless you can show us we’ve been suffering some drastic drop-off of our viewership simply because Jeff calls some guy an idiot for threatening us with the imaginary wrath of an imaginary magic pixie in the sky, I see no reason to concern myself with this “crisis” that exists only in the swirling vortex of confusion between your ears.

This particular email lays out my concerns adequately. If you are truly interested in representing me honestly in your posts to facebook and the blog, I ask that you post this email as well, in a new and separate post.

Tracie: Done.

Martin: …and dusted.

If you can do that much for me, you will never hear from me again.

Martin: Hope springs eternal.

Tracie: As the full text of your message was included above, I hope you are a man of your word. I expect no one at AETV to every hear from you again. And at this point, if you contact TAE, we have no obligation to reply, as you will have demonstrated that your commitment meant nothing and was simply a hollow, false promise.

I guess if you don’t, I can only conclude that you want to spin things once again by leaving out the real message I’ve been trying to get across. This message is exactly what I’ve been trying to say all along.

Martin: (sarcastic look) Oh really? Then what, pray tell, were all the threats of lawsuits and exposés, libelous remarks about financial malfeasance, and unconscionable personal insults — all of which we reproduced in full without any alterations of any kind — in aid of? I fancy you think you were “teaching us a lesson” of some kind, when in fact you were literally demolishing your reputation online as thoroughly as any one human being could hope. Really, what would a prospective employer have to say about someone who comes so thoroughly unhinged over views that differ from his own? The degree to which you’ve damaged yourself in this whole series of exchanges is possibly considerable. But again, we didn’t make you do it. Your own choices in life are what come back to haunt you.

Tracie: Good. Then you’ve made your statement publicly via AETV. I hope that satisfies you, as you said it would. Again, as I included your full text in this response, I now declare the right to ignore all your future letters, which you have promised not to write (but I doubt you’ll hold to your word on that; call me a pessimist). And another EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION ATTEMPT FLAG: Your final attempt at such, again a sign of your codependent nature, is to play what is generally known as “chicken.” Basically like a kid in a school yard saying “if you don’t do X, you’re chicken.” Just to confirm, I didn’t post your letter in order to avoid your assessment of me as someone who only wants to “spin” things. Frankly, you’re an idiot, and I don’t know who you are, wouldn’t recognize you on a street in broad daylight. So you’re literally nothing in my world. But, your stupidity merits a good calling out and a breakdown, a demonstration of how stupid is as stupid does. Also, I’m sick of your flood of ugly, pointless, vile garbage in the AETV in-box, and if posting this latest bit of trash will end your disturbed stream of consciousness insanity to AETV, as you promised it would (but we’ll see if you abide by your own promises, right?), it’s totally, totally worth it. I hope you will keep your word and never contact anyone at AETV again.

Martin: And though we heathen types don’t often say this…Amen!