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Apr 11 2012

Christian love

What Jessica Ahlquist got in the mail.

70 comments

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  1. 1
    unbound

    Is this an example of xtian love, or of xtians turning the other cheek?

    I’m always confused by the examples so many xtians provide when things don’t go their way…

  2. 2
    Desert Son, OM

    Sshaking now, so I’m going to walk away from this for tonight, but all I have right now is:

    Federal Bureau of Investigation

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    I know, it’s hard not to implode with rage.

    That’s why I followed up with a more cheerful picture.

  4. 4
    Otrame

    Yep, time to get the Feds involved, if they aren’t already.

  5. 5
    Otrame

    P. S. did that person think that printing it would maintain annonomity?

  6. 6
    godlesspanther

    This is so enraging. What really gets me is the fact that the hate speech spewed out by the xtian right leaders causes this behavior. Not one of them will take any kind of responsibility for it. Not one, not ever. Those leaders speak to an audience of hateful, violent, and irrational people. The leaders know this and they are fully aware that their pstcho-sheep will carry out their thinly veiled orders. Then they use the “not a real Christian” defense.

  7. 7
    Alverant

    Let me guess, the amount of supporters of the letter writer vastly outweigh the number of Ahlquist supporters. And none of the letter writer supporters read the judge’s decision. It’s disgusting how she is still harassed by this despite having all the evidence and laws in her favor.

  8. 8
    Inaji

    Shaking here, too.

    I do not understand how people can continue to say that religion is good, it’s a force for good, it’s fine to work with religion, yada, yada, yada. No. Just no.

  9. 9
    Louis

    What lovely, lovely people. But us atheists are the “militant” ones for, erm, what was it now, oh yes: disagreeing.

    Those words we use, they sure look like rape threats….oh wait, they don’t.

    Get the Feds involved. Use the system. Prosecute the scum that sent this to the fullest and most painful extent of the law.

    Louis

  10. 10
    redwood

    When a male threatener says “we,”
    In the letters he sends,
    What he means is “me
    And my imaginary friends.”

  11. 11
    smrnda

    What I find disgusting is that this has been a pretty high profile case. You know how there are always the ‘decent Christians’ who try to shout down or take issue with the nastier folks on the religious right out there? No Christian media figure can’t be unaware of this, and if they really believe in a Jesus who said to turn the other cheek and all that other stuff, you’d think someone would have denounced this.

    If there are Christians out there who feel that these folks aren’t real Christians, get off you asses and do something about this.

  12. 12
    TheGripester

    Give it to the Feds. The letter-writer is obviously not smart enough to avoid leaving his sticky fingerprints all over the paper.

  13. 13
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    I’m shaking too. This is monstrous.

  14. 14
    noastronomer

    The ironic part being that the letter, and all the vitriol that came before, demonstates exactly why the banner had to go.

    Mike.

  15. 15
    furtivezoog

    I still haven’t bought an “evil little thing” t-shirt. Definitely time to go order one, if I still can.

  16. 16
    Herk

    As is often the case, I think this isn’t really about religion, but about how there are some bullies who long for any excuse to hurt others because it makes them feel more powerful. Scratch a bully, find a coward.

  17. 17
    chigau (違う)

    Are the police involved?

  18. 18
    dean r

    Send it to the local papers to publish in letters to the editor

  19. 19
    Ulgaa

    Might want to put trigger warning somewhere before the picture. Just a little heads up for people that might have a bad reaction to something like this.

  20. 20
    Usernames are smart

    Anyone want to lay odds on when they catch these little punks, they excuse themselves by saying it was

    a) a harmless joke,
    b) just saying what everyone else is thinking, or
    c) That “Our choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, we created a national stir. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Ahlquist for the insulting word choices.”

  21. 21
    grumpyoldfart

    There are many of us “Crusaders”

    Translation: I’m all alone and weak as piss.

  22. 22
    tkreacher

    There really isn’t much to say.

    I fucking hate bigots, misogynists, patriarchal authoritarians, and superstitious tribalism.

    In short: I fucking hate religious people.

  23. 23
    godlesspanther

    I would place my bet on one little punk saying “we” just to make it sound more threatening. The likelihood of him getting caught, I would say is fairly high. The reason that I am speculating that is because whoever wrote this was not likely a model citizen. He has probably been in trouble before. He has likely exhibited strange and disturbing behavior before. They may not catch him soon but he will not stop there — he will do other things to attract negative attention or break the law. That is when he is likely to be discovered as that letter writer.

    Yes, this is all just speculation that is based on my personal experience and the things it says in the letter.

    The handwriting looks like James Dobson’s.

  24. 24
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    ‘Many Crusaders’, huh? So the writer is admitting that there are still many piss-ignorant morons wallowing in their contemptible superstition like it was the tenth century. The kind of morons that think their imaginary friend is as doltish and thuggish as they are that he would condone 1. threats of any sort 2. threats of rape 3. threats against a minor 4. threats against a woman of any age, all because she is keenly aware of constitutional law and they aren’t.

    I absolutely hope the FBI is on this one, and an example is made.

    I also second or third or fourth the suggestion that this is one that requires a ‘trigger warning’. It’s frightening to think of the number of people affected by stories such as this one because of their personal past. Not a good argument for the ‘kindness’ of a world with a religious majority. I can do without the religious kindness, thank you, especially in light of the letter Ms. Ahlquist received.

  25. 25
    beerijuana

    Sean Faircloth had this on his Facebook page, until he received this comment:

    “I just mentioned on another thread where somebody posted this letter, that after learning a lot about the process about threats i’ve gotten, reposting them is probably the worst thing to do. I was told by the cops and lawyers that it could undermine any case as it could be seen as engaging. Besides that, the person that wrote this letter is probably getting off on the fact that it’s being reposted.”

    This may be something to consider.

    Thanks

  26. 26
    Jeff D

    “Engaging” with the perpetrator of harassment (or of threats) can be a legal defense to the criminal charge, but only if the victim posts or re-posts the threatening communication, which could support an inference that some legitimate communication was going on, and that the victim wanted to engage in it. I do not practice criminal law, but I see no reason to conclude that the posting of a death-threat letter by someone other than the victim would make it more difficult to prove a criminal charge of harassment or intimidation against the writer.

  27. 27
    Egbert

    Okay. Now that letter looks like it’s written by a child, or a man with a child mind. Give it to the cops and move on. Does it represent the entire community? I doubt it.

    But to then use this to justify hating religious people?? Seriously? That’s the same damn mentality. Grow up. We’re supposed to hate religion not people.

  28. 28
    hyperdeath

    Vile and inexcusable as it is, the sender is probably more deserving of pity than Jessica is. Much like David Mabus, the sender desperately overreaches in trying to assert his superiority over Jessica, and in portraying himself as part of a group. He’s practically admitting that he’s impotent and alone.

    Try to imagine the mind that put that letter together, and then try to imagine being the mind that put that letter together. It’s not a pleasant thought.

  29. 29
    hyperdeath

    Otrame says:

    P. S. did that person think that printing it would maintain annonomity?

    There’s a simpler explanation: He’s semi-literate.

  30. 30
    Hank Fox

    Sending that through the U.S. mail, I’d guess that makes it a federal-level hate crime.

    Yes, Jessica and her family, and the authorities, absolutely have to take this seriously, but it’s likely to be a cowardly little wimp who doesn’t have the guts to even raise his voice in public.

    Best part about posting it online: There’s a chance that someone close to the dimwitted bully will recognize the handwriting.

  31. 31
    Bernard Bumner

    Try to imagine the mind that put that letter together, and then try to imagine being the mind that put that letter together. It’s not a pleasant thought.

    Although the contents of that letter seem beyond the pale, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the motivation was anything other than calculated malice. This letter may have been carefully and deliberately constructed.

  32. 32
    Nick Gotts

    A frightening and disgusting letter. There’s a lot of completely pointless speculation in the comments here: we don’t have the information to know, or even think it probable, that the writer’s “we” means there is or is not more than one person involved, that the writer is or is not a coward, that they are or are not religiously motivated, or that they are or are not semi-literate.

  33. 33
    bengilder

    Stay strong Jessica. We Atheists outnumber the badguys.

  34. 34
    Pete

    “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
    They will know we are Christians by our love…”

  35. 35
    jayarrrr

    Go surf the MRA message boards. Find out who’s bragging about sending the letter.

  36. 36
    hyperdeath

    KG says:

    There’s a lot of completely pointless speculation in the comments here: we don’t have the information to know …[whether] they are or are not semi-literate.

    I agree that the speculations are indeed speculative. However, the diagnosis of semi-literacy is fairly safe. Constructions such as

    WE will goT You gooD

    exhibit a somewhat unconventional approach to capitalization. Also, the handwriting looks as if he’s one level above tracing a pencil over dotted outlines.

  37. 37
    peterh

    It’s people like the letter writer who give stupid a bad name.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    iamangelo

    Rape, I wonder what book they get that from!? hmmm

  40. 40
    Ray Moscow

    I’ve got nothing but anger for things like this.

  41. 41
    AJ Milne

    I still haven’t bought an “evil little thing” t-shirt. Definitely time to go order one, if I still can…

    You still can. As I just did. And precisely because of this.

    (/Don’t get mad. Get even.)

  42. 42
    crocodoc

    You shall not suffer a witch to live.

  43. 43
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ophelia, I agree with Ulgaa and McCthulhu: A trigger warning should go before the “Read More” cut and the letter afterward.

    Also, to all the people here dismissing the letter as just “one little punk” or whatever: I find your handwaving of the potential danger here almost as disturbing as and even more angering than the letter itself. Stalking happens. There is absolutely no way for the target of such a letter to be sure that the writer is just blustering — and, if she did, and something did happen, she’d be blamed for not taking the threat seriously enough.

    Egbert, go fuck yourself with your tone trolling. The point you’re blatantly missing is that the entire community hasn’t bestirred itself to condemn this sort of shit, and this letter isn’t the first example of it. And you don’t seem too damned concerned about it, either.

    Hyperdeath: I have no pity for the writer. When threatening women who anger one with rape and murder is no longer common on the internet or off, maybe I’ll be able to muster some.

  44. 44
    bruceheerssen

    This “hate religion, not people” sounds disturbingly like the “hate the sin, not the sinner” nonsense we hear from the religious. Can we please drop the hate?

    Disapprove of religion, disapprove of religious people because they perpetuate superstition and tribalism, but don’t hate. Hate is far too strong an emotion, and is counter-productive. Hate implies that you are willing to eradicate the object of your hatred using whatever means available. This is what religious fundamentalists do. We are better than that.

    If you must hate, hate a person because of specific actions that person has taken–be it for murder, authoritarian machinations, or any of a thousand despicable actions–but don’t hate an entire class of people simply because they espouse views you oppose, however emphatically.

    I’m not suggesting we should accommodate religious and superstitious foolishness in any way. Continue to strongly condemn such foolishness with strong and forthright criticism.

  45. 45
    bruceheerssen

    Oh, and I’m not in any way defending the person who wrote the threatening letter. I hope he is found and prosecuted for his (or her, but almost certainly his) actions. I would also condemn his community if they are not also condemning his actions. (I have no personal knowledge of this one way or the other.)

    I only mean to point out the danger in “hating religion, not the religious.” The line between the two is so narrow as to disappear all too easily.

  46. 46
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Hate is far too strong an emotion, and is counter-productive. Hate implies that you are willing to eradicate the object of your hatred using whatever means available. This is what religious fundamentalists do. We are better than that.

    Nothing I like better than someone trying to police my emotions, let me tell you. Or warning me that I have to be “better than” a total piece of shit.

    I am better than the letter writer, Bruce. Know why? Because I don’t threaten people with rape and murder. Shove your pious horseshit up your ass.

  47. 47
    'Tis Himself

    bruceheersen,

    Your concern is noted.

  48. 48
    bruceheerssen

    Heh. It does sound a bit like concern trolling. I hope I hewed closely enough to the correct side of the line.

  49. 49
    NakkiNyan

    I am better than the letter writer, Bruce. Know why? Because I don’t threaten people with rape and murder. Shove your pious horseshit up your ass.

    ^this

    I think we are past the point of having to pander to idiots who post death threats, too many people have followed through with threats to ignore it. As for condemning the rest; we should because they allow these things to slide and let them say “they are not real [place religion here]” without comment. Moderates give validity to the freaks among them.

  50. 50
    Ophelia Benson

    That Grothe-Dacey piece – it’s volume 24 while the current volume is 32, so I think that means it was written 8 years ago. It’s possible that they wouldn’t write the same piece now, if only because of the virulence of the backlash during those years.

  51. 51
    Ophelia Benson

    On hate the sin etc, too much anger etc, not hating a whole group etc…It is quite interesting to ponder yet again the frequency and regularity with which argumentative atheists get called extreme and militant (hello Sayeeda Warsi!) and aggressive despite our conspicuous failure to threaten teenage girls and their younger sisters by way of a fun hobby.

  52. 52
    bruceheerssen

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, duly noted. Consider my pious horseshit firmly lodged in my ass. I know you are better than the letter writer. I don’t think that was ever in question. But as I said, when I see “hate religion not people” I think “hate the sin, not the sinner.”

    That is precisely the attitude that allows sanctimonious haters to bully, harass, assault, or kill people they don’t like. How many times have you heard that phrase directed at gay people? You may not engage in any of those things, and that makes you a better person. The next person that comes along may not be as fine as you.

    When people talk about hate, however well intentioned they may be, it gives license to the more unstable among us to lash out with violence. Ask Tillman’s killer where he got the idea that he was justified in entering a church and gunning down a doctor in cold blood. Ask the letter writer why he thought it was acceptable behavior to threaten Ahlquist like that. I guarantee you he didn’t arrive at that position all by himself.

    We haven’t had anyone on our side do anything similar yet, and I don’t want to see that happen. So, feel free suggest other things I might lodge in my rectum if you like, but I will continue to advocate against hatred wherever it rears its ugly head. And that includes this forum.

    Oh, and I note that you didn’t say anything about you hating anyone, so how you got the idea that I was policing your emotions is beyond me. So take your misplaced outrage and shove it up your ass.

  53. 53
    A. Noyd

    I hope they find and sentence this asshole and that the threats to Jessica’s sister and father get counted individually. Though I have no faith in our justice system being able to actually correct what’s wrong with the letter writer, this is clearly not someone who should be running around free.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    @bruceheerssen
    Fuck off with your trite and simplistic analysis of other people’s emotions, your assumptions that we all wish to be productive towards a common goal, your strawmanning, and your pretentious, bossy preaching about how the way everyone reacts and behaves towards religious people should meet your prissy approval. It doesn’t merely “sound a bit like concern trolling”; it’s unambiguously just that thing, especially given how your criticism of the letter writer was thrown in a few posts later like an afterthought. Your primary concern is clearly with the behavior of atheists.

  54. 54
    grahameturner

    The part that disturbs me the most is the blatant threat to the sister. She’s entirely unrelated to this issue, whether she agrees with Miss Ahlquist or not. This letter writer is clearly nine kinds of unbalanced, not to mention terrible at grammar. However, reading that, I was shaken and slightly sickened.

    Breaking the cardinal rule to never read the comments: there is a debate in this thread that worries me. I think we’re all agreed that the letter is awful. Many of us also believe that the religious sentiment likely tied to it is, at the very least, not for us. Then why are we fighting amongst ourselves?

    I think that @bruceheerssen is raising a valid point: We should take care not to generalize (in general). He said it differently than I would have, he’s also not me. We are all very reasonable folks, so how is that statement unreasonable?

    I do find it slightly unreasonable to say “I hate religious people.” Have you met all the religious people? I mostly ask, because my mother–one of the sweetest and funniest people I know–is firmly of that ilk. I am very skeptical that every religious person you know is unreasonable and hate-worthy, although I will grant that the majority may be.

    I will casually observe that there is no reference to religion in the letter. Given Miss Ahlquist’s scenario, it is very likely that the author is some form of Christian. “Crusader” could be a reference, but it’s also a term that’s somewhat unpopular among many of the Christian folks I know. While I happily accuse the Westboro Baptist Church of being “one of the large reasons I am no longer a Christian,” I have to take great care not to tar all religious with the same brush–many Christians disagree with said church, and said church has actively protested other churches (my mother’s included).

    But hey, if being reasonable enough to accept that the letter-writer is a complete dick, but not all Christians are, then I guess I’m okay with not being right. Although I’m a little saddened to think we can’t all be better people like me .

  55. 55
    Dianne

    @38: FWIW, the FBI’s hate crimes statistics web site lists 5 instances of hate crimes against atheists, with 7 victims. That, of course, is only the reported hate crimes which came to the attention of the FBI and were categorized by it as a hate crime.

    Small numbers, but definitely non-null and probable under reporting.

  56. 56
    Dianne

    In fact, going back to 2005, there seems to be a fairly consistent pattern of small but non-null numbers of anti-atheist hate crimes, including violent crimes. As I found after about 2 minutes of internet searching. One wonders what the authors did for background research, if anything.

  57. 57
    Ze Madmax

    grahameturner @ #55:

    Breaking the cardinal rule to never read the comments: there is a debate in this thread that worries me. I think we’re all agreed that the letter is awful. Many of us also believe that the religious sentiment likely tied to it is, at the very least, not for us. Then why are we fighting amongst ourselves?

    I agree with this. Clearly, when a woman is threatened with rape and violence, the real issue should be tactful language towards non-violent religious people. I mean, Jessica Ahlquist can deal with this kind of shit, but surely you can’t expect religious people to handle broad criticisms about systemic injustice!

    That would be rude! Thank goodness people like grahameturner and bruceheerssen are looking out for the poor oppressed Nice Christians who have to face prejudice from Evil Athiests. (Which are far worst than Evil Athiers or Evil Athies)

  58. 58
    A. Noyd

    grahameturner (#55)

    Although I’m a little saddened to think we can’t all be better people like me .

    Really?

  59. 59
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I agree with this. Clearly, when a woman is threatened with rape and violence, the real issue should be tactful language towards non-violent religious people. I mean, Jessica Ahlquist can deal with this kind of shit, but surely you can’t expect religious people to handle broad criticisms about systemic injustice!

    Totally agree. The threats made to Jessica Ahlquist pale in comparison to the injustice done by atheists when they are rude when they condemn religious and misogynistic bigotry.

  60. 60
    Ophelia Benson

    @59 – no, not really! That was self-mocking humor, surely.

  61. 61
    A. Noyd

    @Ophelia
    Oh, I suspect so, too. It’s probably meant to excuse all the finger-waggling above, but it just doesn’t work.

  62. 62
    godlesspanther

    When the fundie preachers get out there and say. “atheists have no morals, atheists have no respect for human life, atheists are trying to take away our rights to practice our religion, atheists are just like Hitler, atheists are out to destroy our society…”

    And these same assholes stress that everything they say must be believed without question or examination, and that their doctrine is of the utmost importance, and than some violent, mentally ill, idiot does something like this…

    They do have to take responsibility for that. I believe that people should be accountable for the things that they say — I don’t think that we have to make exceptions for those who wrap themselves in an ancient comic book. The leaders of the fundie cults know that they are inciting this kind of behavior. They know it and that’s exactly what they want. Mindless idiots to carry out the dirty work and those fuckers don’t have to be held responsible.

    Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, etc. wrote that letter indirectly. They know it.

  63. 63
    fpelayo

    image removed :/

  64. 64
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    An amazing coincidence, isn’t is “grahameturner” and “bruceheerssen: how its ALWAYS stories about horrific misogyny and threats directed towards women to which some dude always responds to with “hey, let’s not get so emotional”.

    Daisy, you were being far too kind.

  65. 65
    satan augustine

    What happened to the image, Ophelia? There’s nothing there now.

  66. 66
    Ophelia Benson

    Huh. Weird. I don’t know. I got a new one.

  67. 67
    Raging Bee

    The penmanship (or pencilmanship as the case may be) leads me to think this letter was written by a junior-high-school kid, mindlessly echoing what he’s heard his elders say.

    We tend to think that junior-high is the age when kids start to question their elders; but something else tends to happen at that age too: they hit puberty, they become confused and frustrated as both their lives and their feelings suddenly become MUCH more complicated than they were before, and many kids take out their frustrations on just about any group of “others” they think can’t or won’t fight back. Many kids fall back on vindictive adherence to whatever rules their elders imposed, and use that as both a crutch, a feeling of power and control, and an identity-badge; and that means supporting the group and lashing out at the group’s enemies from behind the shield-wall/badge.

    Of course, this could also be a “grownup” who never really grew out of that phase, and/or never got over the hurt feelings he got from same. There are, sadly, LOTS of so-called adults like that, as we can see from the religious doctrines they go to such trouble to cobble up to justify their immaturity.

  68. 68
    michaelpowers

    It amazes me how someone writing a letter like that cannot see the conflict between the “good” they supposedly believe in, and the obscenities they are writing down.

    I’d hesitate to describe them of even being sentient.

  69. 69
    Skepgineer

    I’m not surprised that the hater has the writing ability of an 8 year old.

  70. 70
    imthegenieicandoanything

    I’m sure a majority of self-professed Christians would be horrified – well, disapproving, anyway – by this letter.

    I’d guess about 77% of them.

    And maybe half of those would speak up if they knew the perp.

    And maybe half of those would not believe the feelings that motivated the letter were “somewhat” justified.

    Yep, they are good people just brimmin’ with love, those Christians.

  1. 71
    JABbering Stooge :: Ah, those loving conservative Christians… :: April :: 2012

    [...] Such perfect angels. So morally superior to you and I. [...]

  2. 72
    Open letter to PZ Myers | The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy

    [...] Jessica Ahlquist recently received a letter charmingly threatening to rape her and her little sister for the sin of being atheist, because apparently rape is more in keeping with Christian values than [...]

  3. 73
    Dave Ex Machina – A Thousand Points of Articulation » This Delicious Week

    [...] Christian love | Butterflies and Wheels This is the sort of message you get from loving Christians when you fight the Christofascists. Jessica is 16 years old. Tagged as: [evil religion] [...]

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