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Jan 13 2012

Christian love

What Jessica Ahlquist has to put up with.

A small sample (all spellings theirs):

  • May that little, evil teenage girl and that judge BURN IN HELL.
  • U little brainless idiot, hope u will be punished, u have not win sh..t! Stupid little brainless skunk!
  • How does it feel to be the most hated person in RI right now? Your a puke and a disgrace to the human race.
  • shes not human shes garbage
  • Fuck Jessica alquist I’ll drop anchor on her face
  • Jessica Ahlquist may have won her case, but she’s going straight to hell.
  • literally that bitch is insane. and the best part is she already transferred schools because she knows someone will jump her
  • I hope there’s lots of banners in hell when your rotting in there you atheist fuck #TeamJesus
  • your home address posted online i cant wait to hear about you getting curb stomped you fucking worthless cunt
  • gods going to fuck your ass with that banner you scumbag

And that’s all I can stand. It’s only a sample from only about 10% down the page.

48 comments

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  1. 1
    stonyground

    By far the stupidest comment that I have seen (I can’t find it now) was one that informed Jessica that freedom of religion came from God’s Grace. This person was apparently unaware that freedom of religion in fact comes from the US constitution which Jessica was actually sticking up for and that God is actually opposed to religious freedom, he says so quite clearly in that big book that Christians like to worship.

    These people are an excellent argument for seperation of Church and State. Witness how easily they advocate violence when they know that they are in the wrong and have no argument. They appear to be exactly the kind of people who would not hesitate to use state sponsored violence to impose their religious views on others.

  2. 2
    otrame

    That whirring noise you hear is Roger Smith turning in his grave. See, Roger, you tried, but as someone said, religion poisons everything.

  3. 3
    Nomen Nescio

    that sort of thing happens every. single. damn. time. somebody takes a school district to court for establishment clause violations.

    every.
    single.
    time.

    that’s that christian love for you, the fruit by which you may know them. and Ms. Ahlquist will be doing better than average if the hate stays confined to the internet alone in her case — hopefully it will.

  4. 4
    MLR

    Strange how God is supposed to be the only thing that gives people any sort of moral compass, yet the one those believers are using seems entirely broken. I guess literally wishing barbaric violence on a teenage girl is OK if she is attacking the very same belief system people claim prevents humans from becoming wild barbarians. Makes perfect sense…

  5. 5
    turtleseverywhere

    Christian tolerance: Everyone else has the right to tolerate your beliefs, and you have the right to demand that they never express theirs.

    Jessica Ahlquist did the right thing. She shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of shit.

  6. 6
    peterh

    The newspaper poll accompanying the article concerning the decision and asking whether the judge got it right is over 85% in his favor.

  7. 7
    truthspeaker

    Well I’m glad the moderate and liberal Christians have joined you in condemning this hateful language directed at Jessica.

    Right? All the moderate believers who mean no harm have stepped up and said that threats of violence are not the Christian way to handle disagreements, haven’t they? They’ve made it clear that the people sending hate messages in the name of Christianity aren’t speaking for them, right?

    Right?

    ~crickets~

  8. 8
    eric

    As JT Eberhard pointed out, conspicously absent are messages by moderate believers supporting her and arguing against these people (whom, we keep being told, are not at all representative of believers).

    If you’re not willing to stand up and be counted now, don’t come whining when we discount you later.

  9. 9
    ewanmacdonald

    God is love!

  10. 10
    slignot

    How Ms. Ahlquist is being treated is absolutely reprehensible, and I’m glad that she’s being defended without the “yes, buts” that we’ve seen elsewhere.

    I don’t know that I would have linked to the blog you have, since JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks consistently characterizes those at FTB who speak out about sexism within our communities as “misandrist” “Fem-Corp.” I have a hard time promoting those who only want us to talk about when those outside our communities are sexist or discriminatory, and a particularly hard time taking anyone seriously who uses the term feminazis. We can do without the “yes, but” approach to sexism where you can’t ever blame anyone but a few bad apples or you’re no longer “decent”.

  11. 11
    baal

    @ #6 – peter, you do know that the poll was “pharyngulated”? The comments are a much better picture of what the Xtians thought than the intentionally skewed poll result.

    In MN, Anoka highschool has had 6 students commit suicide. It looks like most of that was due to anti-BLGT bigotry and hazing. Despite that, R. Bachmann (yes that one) and a group of ‘good’ Xtian parents are still pushing the school system to protect the bullies and have threatened a law suit if the school changes its current pro-bully policies (in a town hall meeting this week).

    As Nascio said, this isn’t a one off random unusual event.

    By focusing on the virtue of supporting their version of God, they are really ticking off those of us who value not having harm done to our fellow humans.

  12. 12
    highdudgeonaz

    There are some things no child, no teenager, should ever have to endure. The fallout of Christian “agape” is one of them. As in, I’m agape at the inhuman and cruel barbarism of these supposedly morally superior beings, and the utter silence of the faitheist community in denouncing the threats of violence.

  13. 13
    screechymonkey

    Remember, everyone, that “prayer” was just “ceremonial deism,” totally secular and not religious at all and any atheist complaining about it is just nitpicking and wasting time on unimportant issues!

  14. 14
    Steersman

    Christ!

    Reminds me of the hateful screeds and death-threats that have been received by a spectrum of various bloggers, from Richard Dawkins to P.Z. Myers to Massimo Pigliucci, all courtesy of, supposedly, god-fearing and compassionate Christians and Muslims. Reminds me also that the figurehead for the “ugly” letters on Dawkins site is none other than Anne Coulter who said in her book Godless that:

    I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell.

    For far too many people of a religious persuasion the thought becomes party to the deed.

    Reminds me also of something from Blaise Pascal:

    Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

  15. 15
    Eric MacDonald

    Wow! This shows me a side of Christianity that I didn’t know existed! How naive can I get? The strange thing is that the last time I encountered something like this — from someone who opposed the new guidelines regarding how religion would be addressed in the local elementary school — I was concerned that it was all fundamentalist Christianity being touted by a few teachers, so the school advisory board (of which I was a member) drew up a policy that religion would not be taught in the school, and that religion would be dealt with as a cultural phenomenon — the person who was most agitated was an apparently fundamentalist Christian who did not attend any church, and believed that the school system was responsible for her children’s religious education. Big blow up in the papers and on TV, but it all blew over, but it never reached this level of hostility and rage. What an odd phenomenon. God is love, as they say!

  16. 16
    Ethyachk

    It’s shit like this that’s getting me to be more active. No one, not one person, should have to go through this. Every time they threaten atheists, we get louder, and now we are a very loud minority.

  17. 17
    Sheila Crosby

    Jessica, you rock!

    I never had anything like your courage at your age. In fact, I doubt I’ve got that much courage now. You’re an inspiration.

  18. 18
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Maybe this is the “sophisticated theology” we’re been waiting for?

    Certainly, this is the sort of thing that the accommodationists wave off as no big deal, and not at all a fair representation of “real” theism. They’ll tell us that religion is not to blame for this sort of thing, and that we’re worse than they are for trying to smear all theists with the unsolicited vicious threatening comments towards a teenager.

    But why can’t religion take the blame for this? Here in America, the vast majority of threatening words AND actions come from religious people, and the more religious they are the more prone they are to violence. So why would we pretend that the religion isn’t the problem? After all, if I drink six beers and get a nice buzz, 12 beers gets me hammered, and 18 beers has me waking up in a puddle of vomit… we don’t say that the problem is that I’m just prone to puking and the beer really didn’t have anything to do with it. (wacky analogy #2!)

  19. 19
    Steersman

    Eric MacDonald (#14),

    Do take a look at the letters on Dawkins’ site for chapter and verse in that rather sad and depressing story.

    Although your previous comments about the prevalence or preponderance of domestic violence in fundamentalist homes would probably add an appendix or two. Out of curiosity, do you have any sources for those statistics? Maybe you could do a post on the topic?

    But curiously also, I ran across this article on the “lust for domination” [St. Augustine’s term] that tends to motivate us all to some extent, although religion seems to give people quite a bit extra headroom or leeway.

  20. 20
    Grumps

    Hemant Mehta has all the latest updates and provides an opportunity to contribute to Jessica’s scholarship drive. Show her some atheist love… she’s had more than her fair share of christian “love” afterall.

  21. 21
    kreepykritter

    I think this one was my favorite of those cited above:

    gods going to fuck your ass with that banner you scumbag

    There it is… the real face of Fundamentalist religious whack jobs. God is going to fuck you in your ass… I didn’t realize he was into that kind of stuff, but … hey, who am I to tell them their god ISN’T into back-door play?

    Looks like, if that’s true, we all better stretch out a bit.

  22. 22
    Ophelia Benson

    [In case anyone wonders - krispy emailed me and I said he could go on commenting.]

  23. 23
    'Tis Himself

    A bunch of Christians are angry because their privileged religion was disrespected by someone who had mere legality on their side.

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    slignot @10 – oh! That’s why the name of the blog was familiar…

    Thanks for the tip.

  25. 25
    Art

    Clearly Christianity is a religion of hate. I guess Islam got to the ‘religion of love’ label before they did and they had to take what was left over.

    Islam 1 – Christianity 0

  26. 26
    slignot

    @Ophelia, I was torn on whether to bring it up, since she’s certainly free to say what she will on her own blog and she’s pointing out the massive and disturbing discrimination now, to her credit. I didn’t want to distract from the unfathomable abuse of Ahlquist by picking a fight.

  27. 27
    Ophelia Benson

    Sure; no problem. I might change the link to go to Hemant’s post.

    It’s impossible not to notice how similar the language thrown at Ahlquist is to the language of the Jstcr-hggl crowd.

  28. 28
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Ophelia@#27:

    It is weird how easily some people “get it” when the nastiness comes from theists, and then how hard it is for them to understand that the same sort of nastiness isn’t acceptable coming from atheists. Sexism doesn’t stop being sexism when it comes from atheists instead of from theists…

    … I’ve been dealing with this problem a lot lately, in the realm of politics. People on Team D object when Team R does something, and make excuses when a member of Team D does the same and worse, and vice-versa. It seems like some people care less about issues and the principles behind them, and more about just beating the other team. By the same token, it makes me wonder how many atheists decry religious-based misogyny and sexism because they actually give a damn about equality and human rights, and how many of them just like having a convenient club with which to hammer believers with, and don’t care at all about the underlying problem.

  29. 29
    Egbert

    I think this kind of bullying is evil, however I’ve seen it before, and it usually happens within a group mentality. That’s all it takes, a few people ganging up against someone different, and a kind of lynch mob mentality of the vilest kind can manifest. Humanity can be ugly.

  30. 30
    Ophelia Benson

    The blogger at JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks sent me a nice note, so I’ll keep the link. Maybe we can persuade her that we’re not batshit crazy!

  31. 31
    Ophelia Benson

    Joe, I know. I do ingroupy different standards stuff myself, and should work on it, but I don’t lapse into disgusting racist or sexist or ethnic epithets. The Lying Dogs of ERV keep claiming I do, but they’re lying. That’s how I got into an extended brawl at RDF a few years ago: because some jerk was calling a woman who wrote an awful craven article a “stupid bitch.” I hated the article but I can do that without calling her a bitch; so can they.

  32. 32
    Ophelia Benson

    Egbert – well that’s not all it takes. People can gang up and be various degrees of horrible, but it’s not inevitable that they will go for the hell and torture and rape and worthless fucking cunt. It’s not.

  33. 33
    Steersman

    Egbert (#29),

    … and a kind of lynch mob mentality of the vilest kind can manifest. Humanity can be ugly.

    Agreed. Although as Ophelia argued, it does not necessarily have to manifest itself in all groups; seems that it needs an innate or intrinsic sense of superiority (or maybe inferiority) to trigger it, a sense that “you’re either with us or against us” – bad karma.

    But I think it is a phenomenon, at least in its worst aspects, that is similar to that which takes place when locusts swarm:

    There is no taxonomic difference between locust and grasshopper species, and in English the term “locust” is used for grasshopper species that change morphologically and behaviourally on crowding, to form swarms or hopper bands (of immature stages). These changes, or phase polymorphism, were first identified by Sir Boris Petrovich Uvarov, who studied the desert locust, whose solitary and gregarious phases had previously been thought of as separate species.

    Research at Oxford University has identified that swarming behaviour is a response to overcrowding. Increased tactile stimulation of the hind legs causes an increase in levels of serotonin. This causes the locust to change colour, eat much more, and breed much more easily. The transformation of the locust to the swarming variety is induced by several contacts per minute over a four-hour period.

    Same sort of thing that one of the early Star Trek shows on “The Body” described rather well.

  34. 34
    Egbert

    Of course, but then things did go crazy in Nazi Germany when there was a scapegoat in the village or even in the university (who would have thought Heidegger would be such a Nazi sympathizer?). Again, this is how evil, or at least it’s most obvious form seems to manifest, and its not necessarily the commoners and ignorant, it can be the genius intellectual. Another simple case is the Stanford Prison experiment, but we could find numerous examples of the same basic problem.

    It’s not inevitable of course, I think there are good reasons to think that such things can be prevented, and I think that is the point of our general pro-equality, pro-natural rights, pro-liberty campaigning, precisely to prevent the horrors of authoritarianism.

  35. 35
    Steersman

    Ophelia Benson (#31),

    The Lying Dogs of ERV keep claiming I do, but they’re lying.

    Same sort of breed as the Running Dogs of Accommodationism? ;-)

    … some jerk was calling a woman who wrote an awful craven article a “stupid bitch.”

    Politics – of all sorts – can definitely make for strange bedfellows. As someone said, on another thread of yours I think, one might wind up sharing an umbrella with some people because of the common espousal of various principles that one wouldn’t want to share a restaurant meal with.

    But I’m glad to see that you have a proper scale or ordering of values, that you put some common courtesies above the principles of the “movement”, although that ordering is frequently problematic. Sadly it seems that far too many in it – many of whom seem to hang out at Pharyngula; maybe it’s where the people who suffer from Tourette’s syndrome congregate – are ready to engage in entirely inappropriate “piling-on”; unfortunately that sort of thing, as with the “Eve-teasing” you’ve discussed, can easily get out of hand – everybody suffers.

    However, there is also the other issue, a variation on a theme, which you discussed on the categories of identity and the level of insults – “woo” versus the c-word, for examples – that is appropriate in various circumstances. But it seems to me that the dividing line, the watershed, is most appropriately defined by considering the finer details of the supposed ad hominem “logical fallacy”:

    Doug Walton has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, and that in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue, as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject’s words.

    By which token one might argue that the “jerk” who called that woman a “stupid bitch” was committing an invalid or inappropriate ad hominem because her femaleness was, presumably, entirely irrelevant to her argument, but that your ad hominem – “jerk” – was, in fact, entirely appropriate because he, well, was for committing that fallacy. Which then leads to the conclusion that maybe in some circumstances “stupid bitch”, and the like, is in fact entirely appropriate – at least if you think “jerk” is, for example if she had been the one committing the fallacy.

    Which brings me around to a point that Eric MacDonald addressed, based on your “Calling a man a (c-word) is insulting to women”.

    But taking the obverse of that, I certainly wouldn’t be offended or insulted, nor would I expect Eric to be or any other man, if you were to say that another woman was a prick, at least in the dictionary sense of a “highly unpleasant” person, particularly one on an apparently testosterone-fuelled power-trip. Say, for example, Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada or Leona Helmsley, the Simone Legree of the hospitality industry.

    And, similarly, I think that it is entirely conceivable that there may be some behaviours of some women that might reasonably justify the insult of “stupid (c-word)” – this excerpt from Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers, for examples, with which more than a few women have indicated some agreement. But that should not lead to the conclusion – on the part of anyone – that it is a categorical statement or judgement – of any sort, part or parcel.

    One, as per the ad hominem definition, really needs to consider whether personal motivations and behaviours – for whatever reason – are relevant or not, rather than making those types of judgements which tends to preclude the necessary rational assessments.

  36. 36
    Josh Slocum

    Eric

    As JT Eberhard pointed out, conspicously absent are messages by moderate believers supporting her and arguing against these people (whom, we keep being told, are not at all representative of believers).

    If you’re not willing to stand up and be counted now, don’t come whining when we discount you later.

    .

    This. This. This. This. I can’t say it enough. This.

  37. 37
    Josh Slocum

    Maybe Julian Baggini can pray on it.

  38. 38
    Mark Mitchell

    There’s a college fund for this remarkable young woman — via Friendly Atheist: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/01/13/a-fundraiser-for-jessica-ahlquist/

  39. 39
    Egbert

    I hope the fund gets plenty of publicity.

    Some of these threats are now being investigated by the police according to this article: http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-13/news/30624868_1_threats-prayer-legal-battle

  40. 40
    vjack

    Here’s what’s sad: had I not already been familiar with Ahlquist’s heroic stand, I might have wondered whether she was receiving comments like this because she dared to call out sexism in the atheist community. I see I’m not the only one to draw this parallel. This could be a teachable moment to those who insist on attacking anyone who tries to talk about sexism in our community.

  41. 41
    TV200

    Eric,

    As JT Eberhard pointed out, conspicously absent are messages by moderate believers supporting her and arguing against these people (whom, we keep being told, are not at all representative of believers).

    There are a number of supportive Christian comments over at BlagHag. Which I think is kind of a shame. Instead of confronting their fellow Christians on their behavior, the supportive comments are coming here. But then, perhaps more believers reading FTB is good.

  42. 42
    peterh

    @ #11:

    Do you imply only Pharyngulites are capable of pharyngulizing? The fundies are delusional, but not totally stupid. The Yes side remains 95%.

  43. 43
    Ophelia Benson

    Steersman @35 – sorry your comment got held up! Links.

    To answer your question – no. No I don’t think so at all. To see why, substitute for your “c-word” a racial or ethnic or sexual orientation epithet. It’s not useful or helpful or decent or ok to call Obama a stupid nigger, no matter how strongly you disagree with him. It’s not useful or helpful or decent or ok to call Joe Lieberman a stupid kike no matter how strongly you disagree with him (and I loathe Joe Lieberman). Stupid bitch and stupid cunt work the same way.

  44. 44
    Steersman

    Ophelia Benson (#43),

    Thanks for letting me know about the links. I initially figured it was because of the “c-word”, but after a couple of trials with those modifications which didn’t even show up as “awaiting moderation” I figured it was because those first posts were over 4000 characters – seems most blogs or message-boards – or websites, depending on one’s idiosyncrasies – have that limit.

    But, relative to the use of various epithets – particularly those related to your arguments about the different categories in play (which I agreed with here by suggesting that they were, broadly, nature and nurture), it still seems to me that your argument is conflating somewhat the other categories of reasons and feelings. For example, “decent” seems to fall into the latter category to which an appropriate response might be “Sticks and stones will break my bones …”, although Nicholas Humphrey – in his persuasive argument in favour of limiting parental rights, particularly relative to religious indoctrination, er, education – argued that, in fact, words are still capable – mightier than the sword in many cases – of doing, or at least initiating, hurt that extends to the breaking of bones.

    But “useful” and “helpful” seem to entail solid reasons based on tangible facts related to the use of either valid or invalid ad hominems: if the attribute targeted with the epithet is entirely irrelevant to the topic or the argument presented then those using such have to be considered as illogical at best and as ignorant boors or jerks at worst – being charitable. By which token, in the case of the examples you mentioned, if Lieberman had presented an egregiously fallacious and odious argument based substantially on his Jewishness – say a claim to Palestine based on a supposed promise by Jehovah, or Obama on his race (raciness?), or a woman on her femaleness (as in a number of examples described by Wylie), or, for that matter, a man on his maleness (the “surly bastard from hell” springs to mind), then it seems such epithets – being interesting examples of synecdoche – may be justified – just to get those individuals’ attention, of course.

    Really seems to me to be a case where some people’s almost apotheosis of the group whose mantle they wish to cloak their arguments in entirely justifies the puncturing of such pretensions with a well-chosen epithet. Although I will give further thought to the arguments and counter-arguments …. :-)

  45. 45
    Ophelia Benson

    Steersman -

    I think “sticks and stones” is one of the worst aphorisms ever invented.

    Decent, useful and helpful were all shortcuts, which rely on months and even years’ worth of arguments here and at the ur-B&W. I think all the epithets cited are (and are intended to be) dehumanizing.

    I think Al Sharpton for instance talks a lot of race-based bullshit. That doesn’t for a second motivate me to call him a nigger. (Would you call him a nigger?)

  46. 46
    Steersman

    Ophelia Benson,

    I think “sticks and stones” is one of the worst aphorisms ever invented.

    Yes, but you apparently consider it cricket to be hurting – with words – the feelings of the religious – although I agree with you and think they’re fair game. But that reminds me of a scene in Religulous where the journalist, Bill Maher, had, I think, just criticized or mocked some individual for his beliefs; the poor fellow looked like someone had just told him that his dog had died – and that there was no Santa Claus. But the point is that if the religious are going to be “in-the-face” of everyone else then it is they who have defined the field of battle, which has to be kept level, and opened hostilities: sauce for the goose and all that. As I’ve argued, feelings are a rather slippery critter, being entirely subjective, and not something guaranteed in law and which should be entirely separated from the issue of civil rights – call me (or anyone) anything you want (but, as they say, don’t call me late for supper), but try to deny me or anyone else their civil rights then that is the time to call out the riot squads – and the civil libertarians.

    I think all the epithets cited are (and are intended to be) dehumanizing.

    Just don’t see that at all. If you were to call, for example, the leaders of Saudi Arabia who are responsible for denying women the right to drive cars, among a very long list of other odious grievances, a bunch of stupid pricks – their maleness being entirely relevant to the issue and the salient point to be attacked – then I would agree with you entirely. But whether I did or did not I would not at all think, just because I share at least one physical attribute in common with them in that case, that you think all men are pricks and that I should do likewise, or that I should think that that physical attribute of mine – or of any other male for that matter – is essentially, intrinsically, or inherently “evil, wicked, mean or nasty”. Not at all dehumanizing in any way, shape or form – IMHO.

    That doesn’t for a second motivate me to call him a nigger. (Would you call him a nigger?)

    Not at all since, based on a cursory review of the Wikipedia article on him, I would tend to agree with at least some of his arguments. And I would argue that those who called him and those marchers with him a “bunch of niggers” were, being polite and to say the least, engaged in some invalid ad hominems because those attacks, those epithets, were totally irrelevant, and very wide of the mark, to Sharpton’s entirely justified efforts to demand respect for civil rights – things that are, supposedly, guaranteed by law. As opposed to respect for a person’s feelings.

    In addition, since you used that example, it seems to me that your question is related to another one as to what a “nigger” might be, what attribute or feature or argument it might be most relevant to – the essence of a valid ad hominem argument. And it seems to me that the salient feature is the slavery, and the very large amount of subtext that went along with it, that blacks were subjected to on this continent, and its attendant forced and inculcated subservience. And as slavery is something to which all races have been subjected one might reasonably argue that that epithet could apply in all cases where the target is acting like, or advancing the arguments of, the proverbial Uncle Tom or Stepin Fetchit. In which case Sharpton himself might reasonably use it in referring to anyone else, white or black.

  47. 47
    Greisha

    First, why are everybody so surprised? This stuff should be expected.

    Second, go here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/01/13/a-fundraiser-for-jessica-ahlquist/ and chip in to her scholarship fund.

    @Eric #8: Do not flatter yourself – *we* are still minority among minorities and will be there for some time at least.

  48. 48
    dirigible

    “First, why are everybody so surprised?”

    One doesn’t have to be surprised by something to be displeased by it.

  1. 49
    Christian “Love” and Christian Dissociation » En Tequila Es Verdad

    [...] the response to a brave young girl who asked for a prayer banner in a high school to be taken down: there’s the rape threats, and the death threats, and the threats of violence, and the sincere …. Ordinary Christians who, up until the time Jessica Ahlquist asked the school to abide by the [...]

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