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Jul 30 2012

Virginia Columnist Slanders Atheists

Dan Casey, a columnist for the Roanoke Times, invents an entirely fake conversation in order to slander atheists, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation in particular, as only caring about church/state separation in order to make money. Here’s a taste of the irrational diatribe.

Let’s imagine some of the discussions they’ve been having in the past few years about religion and public life in Southwest Virginia.

“Next we’ll hear from the atheist in charge of the Blue Ridge Mountains area. Lucifer — er, I meant Luke — can you give us a status report?”

“Happy to, madam chairwoman,” says Luke.

“As you know, we’ve been in a fierce court battle with the Giles County School Board over the hanging of the Ten Commandments in their high school. That’s been going on for about 18 months now…

A board member raises his hand. “Can the treasurer tell us how much money we raked in from this effort?”

“Sure,” the treasurer replies. “Let see. Here it is: $1,486,369. Most of it came from California.”

Yes, let’s just imagine a conversation that never took place so you can impugn the motives of your opponents without presenting any actual facts to back up the accusation. He doesn’t bother to explain why he thinks the FFRF has made money on the Giles County and there is no evidence of this at all. He likely only intends the old slander against the ACLU that they just file suits to make money when they get their legal fees reimbursed if they win.

The case was recently settled, in fact, and as part of that settlement the ACLU is receiving a whopping $6,511.16. The FFRF isn’t getting a dime. In fact, the case has cost them a significant amount of money in work by their attorneys that will not be reimbursed. And even when they do get some reimbursement after they win a case, it’s only a portion of the costs they incurred. In one recent case, their legal fees were more than $35,000 and they agreed to settle for only about $20,000, leaving them having to cover the rest themselves.

Such reimbursements are allowed by federal law and it applies to anyone. If you file a lawsuit against a government agency for violating the constitution and win, you can make a motion to have the government pay your legal fees, for the obvious reason that a citizen should not have to pay to keep the government from violating the law. Religious right legal groups that file lawsuits get exactly the same thing. Do you suppose we’ll be hearing Casey fantasize about such conversations in the offices of Liberty Counsel, the Thomas More Law Center or the American Center for Law and Justice anytime soon? Yeah, not likely.

Update: I sent Casey an email asking him if he had any evidence that the FFRF was filing such suits to make money and he actually claims that the whole thing was just a satire on the Giles County School Board and that he’s on the FFRF’s side:

I don’t understand why you are taking umbrage with the column. The column was a satire on ridiculous elected officials, taking unconstitutional stands purely for political reasons, AND, in doing so, furthering the agenda of the people they are promising to wage losing battles against.

It was not against the FFRF, or atheists in general. It was pointing out that the governments are making FFRF more powerful and better known by waging fruitless fights against the FFRF’s reasonable requests. In other words, the governments are shooting themselves in their own feet.

Go read that column and see if you can detect even the slightest bit of satire aimed at the school board. I certainly don’t see it.

54 comments

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  1. 1
    DaveL

    Do you suppose we’ll be hearing Casey fantasize about such conversations in the offices of Liberty Counsel, the Thomas More Law Center or the American Center for Law and Justice anytime soon?

    Far be it from me to suggest that any of the above rely on winning cases as a fundraising strategy.

  2. 2
    raven

    Atheist haters are dime a hundred.

  3. 3
    revjimbob

    The Whining.

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    “As you know, we’ve been in a fierce court battle with the Giles County School Board over the hanging of the Ten Commandments in their high school.”

    If they’re so worried about costs and all, wouldn’t it save money if they avoided the issue by, er, say, NOT violating Church // State separation by NOT having the ten commandments displayed in the first place?

  5. 5
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Y’know abiding by that Constitution thang they all claim they adore and keep – plus that whole “..render unto Caesar”* bit in their own most Holy Book?

    They have their churches, their freedom to speak and publish what they like where they choose within the law. To evangelsie onTV and radio and billboards etc ..

    Is all that really not enough for them that they feel absolutely *have* to shove their faith into places where its constititionally not supposed to go like science classrooms at schools and in official state buildings?

    * Caesar / POTus, yeah, a bit behind the times but the gist of it.

  6. 6
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Go read that column and see if you can detect even the slightest bit of satire aimed at the school board. I certainly don’t see it.

    Alas, there’s more to satire than just ‘saying something obviously stupid and false.’

  7. 7
    Randomfactor

    If that was his intention, picturing the scene at the school board would’ve made so much more sense{

    “Those damned FFRF ambulance chasers! They’re only in it for the money! How much are we paying them to keep them off our backs?”

    “Um, actually we’re paying the ACLU $6,511.16.”

    “Those dirty bastards! Probably blowing the whole check on champagne.”

    “Um, actually, they and the FFRF spent more than that on the case. They generally lose money even when they win.”

    “That’s OK, I’m sure they make it up in volume! There’s hundreds of school boards breakin’ the law for the Lord.”

  8. 8
    ashleybell

    And Roanoke is my home town too….Goddammit!

  9. 9
    Pinky

    Dan Casey must have an Atheist sized hole in his heart. Perhaps he was treated unfairly by an Atheist as a child.

    Read his column. It may be he had to keep his writings brief so he was unable to do the column on the financial bad acting on the part of Christian groups.

    I’m sure Mr. Casey would have loved to expose Pat Robertson’s use of the private jet, paid for by his congregation for relief work, to smuggle blood diamonds out of Africa. And so on. And so on. And so on.

    Instead, Casey writes a short, made up rant about Atheists. Casey is only participating in the most revered sacrament in the religulous arena; lying for Jesus.

  10. 10
    Zeno

    If people you disdain won’t say silly enough things to justify your contempt for them, make it up! I mean, if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly can do it, why not a piss-ant columnist in Roanoke? He learned from the masters, even if his skills aren’t equal to the task.

  11. 11
    Dr X

    It wasn’t evident that it was satire, except perhaps when he referred to “Lucifer,” but looking at past columns for clues, not just on this subject, but others, I inclined to accept his explanation. Here’s an earlier reference to the issue. Note that he tags the post: “more right-wing nonsense, religion.”

    One more. Hope this gets through the filters.

  12. 12
    Michael Heath

    I read Dan Casey’s column. He appears to be ridiculing Christianists, in an almost covert manner, while cynically asserting secularist groups who challenge their political leaders are merely in it for the money. Therefore the public is the one getting screwed due to two bad actors; not merely one.

    At best it’s a column a good editor would have rejected altogether.

  13. 13
    grignon

    The satire would have been more effective if the author had brought to light the FFRF advocacy of non-religion outside of fighting blatantly unconstitutional practices.

  14. 14
    dancasey

    A few points:

    1. The column was a satire on the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, which is merely the latest in a long string of elected officials around here to ridiculously stick to their guns on the issue of public sectarian prayer.

    2. The point I was attempting to make was that the more these people fight the FFRF’s reasonable and constitutional requests, the more they are furthering the agenda of the FRFF, and helping the group raise money. I know of one guy from Roanoke County who joined the FFRF the day the first story about this came out. He’s a friend of mine. In the subsequent column, I came at the issue from sideways, and tried to do it via humor. It was probably an imperfect satire. Wouldn’t be the first time. I assure you I’m not losing any sleep over that.

    3. The punch line was the fact that it’s a supervisor named Church (this is true, by the way) who was urging the Roanoke County BOS to hang tough, which would encourage a losing lawsuit that would cost taxpayers money.

    4. Almost the exact same thing happened (lots of angry atheists sent unhappy emails) when I wrote another satire about the Liberty Counsels’ Mafia-like tactic’s in trying to “out” the anonymous student plaintiff in the Giles County school board case. http://www.roanoke.com/columnists/casey/wb/299836

    5. All of this has led me to believe that atheists in general have really rotten senses of humor. To me, this is a character deficiency than believing in a deity.

    6. I was greatly amused by Pinky’s charge that I haven’t exposed Pat Robertson’s blood diamond scheme. Obviously, he or she hasn’t read this blog post (which is part 1 of a 4-part series) “The Day Pat Robertson’s Bodyguard Pulled A Gun on Me.” http://blogs.roanoke.com/dancasey/2009/11/the-day-pat-robertsons-bodyguard-pulled-a-gun-on-me-part-1/

    By the way, a New York PR firm that Pat Robertson hired was on the phone to the newspaper a few weeks ago, demanding part of that be redacted. The paper refused.

    7. So, I believe you all need to lighten up. And if you want to trash me, please do it on my own blog (plenty of others do it there.) blogs.roanoke.com/dancasey

    Finally, thank you for reading my stuff, even if you don’t agree.

  15. 15
    Larry

    I’m confused. I thought satire was supposed to be funny and/or satirical. If that is an example of his work, I wouldn’t be looking for a nationally syndicated column from Casey for a long, long time.

  16. 16
    hereticnextdoor

    Y’all have this wrong.

    I’m not saying it’s the most lucid or clever column, but I can assure you that Dan Casey isn’t impugning atheists. I live in his newspaper’s readership area. I read his columns fairly regularly. I don’t know his religious affiliation, but he has a healthy disdain for religionists.

    You won’t find any satire directed against the school board because, among his readers, the idiocy of the Giles, Pittsylvania and Roanoke County school boards on these issues is a given.

    His comments (available here: http://blogs.roanoke.com/dancasey/2012/07/thursdays-column-the-atheists-are-laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank/) show him to be amused by the reaction he is getting from FFRF members who misunderstood the gist of his column, perhaps as a result of this blog.

  17. 17
    lofgren

    I’m not sure why Ed attempts to refute this article by talking about court cost reimbursement when it is pretty obvious that the column is referring to the FFRF gaining more donations and publicity as a result of the case. Why would California be reimbursing the FFRF for court costs incurred in Virginia? Ed missed the ball on this one and frankly I hope he’s a little bit embarrassed.

    Still,

    All of this has led me to believe that atheists in general have really rotten senses of humor. To me, this is a character deficiency than believing in a deity.

    I’ll readily agree that Ed has a rotten sense of humor. I love this blog, but I sure as hell don’t come here for the jokes. I haven’t seen his stand up but based on the calibre of his written humor I kind of doubt the problems he had as a comedian stemmed from his audience being a bunch of “dazed illiterates” rather than the fact that he really just isn’t as funny as he thinks he is.

    Maybe I would even agree that the other atheists who sent you angry emails have a rotten sense of humor, although you may also be falling afoul of Poe’s Law (there is no satirical position so ridiculous that somebody somewhere hasn’t already stated it earnestly).

    But on behalf of the millions of atheists who didn’t sned you angry emails, let me just say that the primary problem with this post is that it just isn’t funny, in addition to being a muddled and confusing mess.

    I agree with Michael Heath. Your editor should have rejected this piece altogether, or at least demanded rewrites until it didn’t sound like it was transcribed the next day after recording yourself drunk and rambling at a party.

  18. 18
    'Tis Himself

    Larry #15

    I’m confused. I thought satire was supposed to be funny and/or satirical.

    My thought as well. Mr. Casey needs to work on making his satire actually appear satirical.

  19. 19
    scott

    I think the problem is that the piece tries to portray atheists and the FFRF/ACLU the way the ‘bad guys’ see them- the cackling boardroom discussions, guy named Lucifer, big out-of-state money, etc., but doesn’t communicate well that it’s supposed to be from that POV.

    It’s running afoul, effectly, of Poe’s Law- you can’t tell a joke about atheists from something that’s actually been said in earnest by the religious right.

  20. 20
    twincats

    5. All of this has led me to believe that atheists in general have really rotten senses of humor. To me, this is a character deficiency than believing in a deity.

    Really? Because All of this has led me to believe that Mr. Casey is a bad satirist. (And I’m assuming some sort of comparative adjective such as “worse” belongs in there between ‘a’ and ‘character’ or perhaps between ‘deficiency’ and ‘than’)

    It was probably an imperfect satire. Wouldn’t be the first time. I assure you I’m not losing any sleep over that.

    Ah. Well, that makes it all okay, then. And I won’t be losing any sleep over the fact that I’m making this comment here rather than at Mr. Casey’s blog.

  21. 21
    Robert M.

    It’s clearly meant as a slam against the ffrf. The fact that he backed down shows he believes his own rhetoric about atheists being overly litigious.

    I don’t understand why you are taking umbrage with the column. The column was a satire on ridiculous elected officials…

    It was not against the FFRF, or atheists in general.

    Translation: “Please don’t sue me Mr. Atheist, I was really making fun of the religious people, honest. Come on, I give so much to the church… I mean I have kids to feed.”

  22. 22
    kenbo

    A few counter-points…

    1. Satire…you’re doing it wrong.
    2. You posted on a national blog that you don’t “lose sleep” over doing a shitty job. Not the smartest career move, especially coupled with your inability to write satire.
    3. If that was the punchline, then: Comedy…you’re doing it wrong, too.
    4. “Almost the exact same thing happened…” and yet you still continue to write the same way. See number one above.
    5. Perhaps you just aren’t funny? See number three above.
    6. Really nothing in this one…who gives a shit that Pat Robertson’s lawyers tried to stop you from publishing your column? See numbers one and three above.
    7. I believe you need to grow thicker skin if you consider a criticism of your writing as “trashing” you. Let me show you the difference:

    A. Dan couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the bottom.
    B. Dan doesn’t know how to write satire in his columns.

    While both seem to be true, one is a criticism and the other is trashing you. See if you can figure it out on your own. (Hint: the second one is criticism.)

    Kenbo

  23. 23
    shallit

    Having met Ed, I can tell you that he has a great sense of humor.

    Mr. Casey, not so clear.

  24. 24
    slc1

    Re Dan Casey @ #14

    Mr. Casey should look up some of the columns that Mike Argento wrote for the York, Pa. Daily Record on the 2005 Dover trial. Mr. Argento is a first class satirist who made the clowns on the Dover school board look pretty bad.

  25. 25
    gshelley

    He says it’s satire and that is apparently in line with his previous columns/posts, I see no reason to doubt him
    I think as someone alluded to above, the problem is he isn’t really familiar with how deranged and ignorant some of the religionists are. To any reasonable person, the idea that the FFRF are in it for the money is ridiculous so he probably thought that his post would obviously be taken as mocking the crazies who think that, by being so over the top that it was clear he wasn’t serious. But he failed, as it really is hard to parody those people in this manner.

  26. 26
    hereticnextdoor

    Well, your misreading stirred up a fictional hornet’s nest. I’m a little embarrassed for atheists today.
    http://blogs.roanoke.com/dancasey/2012/07/oh-my-god-virginia-columnist-slanders-atheists/

  27. 27
    Gretchen

    To me, lacking a sense of humor is a worse character flaw than believing in a deity.

    I don’t think either one is a character flaw. Suggesting there’s something wrong with people for not recognizing your attempt at satire is such, however…

  28. 28
    dancasey

    Back in October, when I wrote a similarly sarcastic piece about the Giles County Schools and the Ten Commandments, I was pilloried by atheists for criticizing them.

    And THEN, the FFRF sent out an email, which I have excerpted below:

    > Metro columnist Dan Casey: A wiseguy solution for Giles County schools
    > ( http://www.roanoke.com/columnists/casey/wb/299836 )
    > http://www.roanoke.com/columnists/casey/wb/299836
    > The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.)
    > By Dan Casey
    > Oct. 19, 2011
    > Note: FFRF inadvertently categorized this article under “What the
    > religious right is saying about FFRF” yesterday (10/19). Please send a
    > grateful email for his satirical story and support of FFRF.Back to top
    > ( #top )
    >
    >

    And then atheists started sending me complimentary emails.

    It led to the conclusion that these atheist correspondents were either too busy or too lacking in analytical skills to read and interpret for themselves, and they were leaving that to someone whose skills weren’t up to par either.

    Obviously, the same thing has happened this time around.

    Last time, the atheist who sent me the email from which the excerpt above was draw added his own comment:

    “Hello Dan,
    Yes, I am embarrassed that twits in my group have a weak grasp of the concept of sarcasm. Whoosh, right over their heads. And supposedly, one is a doctor? What to do? Does it have to be spelled out to them? Wish I had a solution for this. Publish a disclaimer? I wish you luck on this one. Perhaps FFRF could come to your aid. Since they published your article and caused heat for you, maybe they could print an explanation/disclaimer for those of slow intellect.
    Best regards ( and luck ) Frank”

  29. 29
    cjcolucci

    You say, and people fmiliar with you past work back you up, that this was a satire on the other guys. I think we have to accept that, and I certainly do.
    But I did a humor and satire column long ago, before reality outran my ability to lampoon it, and sometimes the jokes just didn’t work. If a large number of seemingly intelligent folks don’t get the joke, you might want to look a little more carefully at the question of whose fault that is.

  30. 30
    dancasey

    cjcolucci,

    You’re right. Sometimes the jokes don’t work. I write three columns a week, and some are way better than others. But keep in mind that I have an audience who I know. And none of the atheists in the Roanoke region (even if they thought this joke missed the mark) are taking it as personal criticism.

    In other words, I don’t have to explain my jokes to my audience the way Ed Brayton got tired of doing to his, until he pulled the plug on his stand-up comedy career (assuming what he wrote in his own bio is true, of course).

    Regarding your comment about “seemingly intelligent,” I would accept that had the other incident not happened back in October, causing the FFRF to mistakenly put out a (figurative) fatwah on me, which resulted in a slew of nasty emails from people who later admitted to me they had not even read the column.

    And THEN, when FFRF recalled the fatwah, and asked their minions to send emails praising me, they did that, too.

    That was bizarre, and the message it sent had nothing to do with free-thinking. Rather, it said this: a lot of atheists are allowing someone else to do their thinking for them.

  31. 31
    yoav

    Basically a “Protocols of the elders of Zion” fanfic.

  32. 32
    Ed Brayton

    I’ve had a couple of his regular readers tell me that Casey is generally on the right side of these issues, and he has told me that he thinks the FFRF is right about this. I see no reason not to believe that to be true at this point. But that just makes the column all the more baffling. Does he really think this reads like a satire on the local officials? It doesn’t. Not even close. Not even under the most charitable reading imaginable. There is absolutely nothing in it that even hints at the intent he claims he had. It reads like a standard attack on secular civil liberties groups and repeats the same stupid talking points that their enemies use against them. If that was the intent of the satire, it’s a monumental failure.

    As I said, it isn’t hard to imagine an actual satire of the local officials. One of the commenters above offers one possible suggestion, but there are many others. So it turns out that Casey isn’t on the wrong side of the issue, he’s just A) not funny and B) a very bad writer.

  33. 33
    dancasey

    Thanks, Ed!

    I’m not at all surprised that a failed comedian who had to explain his jokes to his audience doesn’t find me funny.

    Instead, it’s comforting.

  34. 34
    TCC

    Dan Casey, are you satirizing a satirist now? Because that’s the only way your comments about Ed can be taken as anything other than ad hominems and assholery.

  35. 35
    Michael Heath

    dancasey writes:

    I’m not at all surprised that a failed comedian who had to explain his jokes to his audience doesn’t find me funny.

    The person having to explain his supposed attempt at humor to his audience is you; so nice projection there.

  36. 36
    Ed Brayton

    What else could you possibly say at this point? Nice cheap shot. It still doesn’t make your column any better.

  37. 37
    democommie

    dear dancasey@whatevah:

    I know ‘zackly how you feel. I write incredibly funny shit about assholes allatime and they allus misunderestimate my intentivenessisousity; nodwudimean?

    They think I’m just bein’ a mean spirited prickdolt–that kinda thinkin? now, THAT is a character defect.

    I kin see where them fooferawpoobahs at the filthy rich FFRF are gonna be cryin’ in their Cristal when they read your expozay.

    There was a time when teh burnin’ stoopit was somewhat self-limiting, that seems to no longer be the case. I tell ya, havin’ fucked up a couple (hundred thousand) times in this life–a short, sincere apology doesn’t require getting a bigger shovel to dig your way out of the canyon of indignorance of which you seem determined to find the bottom.

  38. 38
    dancasey

    Michael Heath,

    Projection? Ha! Have you never read Ed’s bio up near the top of this page?

    “After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head.”

  39. 39
    slc1

    Re dancasey @ #38

    Mr. Dan Casey ain’t no Mike Argento.

  40. 40
    georgewiman

    I read it as satire. Didn’t occur to me that it wasn’t until several people started taking offense to it.

  41. 41
    Budbear

    sat·ire   [sat-ahyuhr] noun
    1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
    2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
    3. a literary genre comprising such compositions

    After reading the entire column, the only subject that could possibly be held up to scorn, etc. seems to be the FFRF. Is it possible that the ironic part is the lack of irony? I don’t think this is so much a piss-poor attempt at humor as it is a case of ole’ Dan lying through his teeth to cover his embarrassment at being called out.

  42. 42
    Ed Brayton

    I’m sure the Roanoke Times has a way to take online polls of their readers. I’d be willing to bet that if they asked those who read the column whether they think it is aimed at local officials or at the FFRF, the overwhelming majority of them would say the latter. There just isn’t anything in the column that even suggests that is aimed at anyone else.

  43. 43
    fifthdentist

    When contrasting her hatred of Family Guy’s episode that made a joke about Sarah Palin’s family and mental retardation — I don’t remember exactly and I don’t watch the show — and Rush Limbaugh’s use of the word “retard,” Palin defended the corpulent one by saying he is a “satirist.”* Conservatives** don’t understand humor in general, and certainly not anything as nuanced as satire.

    * In scare quotes because I doubt Palin had ever heard of the word before some assistant gave her that quote.

    ** P.J. O’Rourke understands humor, but from my observations he is the only conservative to ever make that breakthrough.

  44. 44
    oranje

    Sweet! It’s like we have our own book club now!

    I would have gone for the “In their secret lair, under the Large Hadron Collider…” But that’s just me.

    What I really want to hear is that people like Barton are actually satirists.

  45. 45
    Worldtraveller

    I’m going to assume the dancasey @ 14 is the witless douche who wrote that column.

    5. All of this has led me to believe that atheists in general have really rotten senses of humor. To me, this is a character deficiency than believing in a deity.

    This is meta humorous, and most atheists I know have a great sense of humor. It’s just that in this case, we’re laughing at you, and not with you.

    If someone tells a joke, and the target of the joke, indeed, most targets of the joke, don’t see it as funny, one might just consider the possibility that it’s not the collective targets with a poor sense of humor.

    Your subsequent posts are indicative of a 3rd grade mindset, at best. First rule of holes, dan. Learn it, live it.

  46. 46
    johnlanders

    Meh.

    I think there’s a communication issue here. For our (read: Atheists writing and reading this blog) part, I think we may be forgetting that it’s often hard to convey sarcasm through the use of text. More importantly, reading the original article by itself is probably useless without context. These types of articles are often heavily influenced by local context that none of us really have. And even when local context doesn’t matter – as it may not in this case – let’s not overlook how ridiculous the article would be as a work of non-fiction. That by itself is enough for me to think that this piece was written as farce, even if it wasn’t written as well as we might like.

    The key line for me was this:
    “Sure,” the treasurer replies. “Let see. Here it is: $1,486,369. Most of it came from California.”

    This is exactly how I like to imagine conservatives imagining the scenario!

    Now, for Mr. Casey’s part: I do feel you are attempting to write something satirical here because it is absurd to believe that organizations like the FFRF are actually making money off of local governments that (in our current economy) are having a hard enough time trying to pay the bills anyways. It’s that simple absurdity that lets me believe this is a satirical piece. However, I think many people – if not most people – would overlook this in favor of the picture that the FFRF is only in the game in some way to make money.

    Without anything to show that they actually aren’t making money – it’s easy to draw that conclusion. And in today’s society, most people would draw that conclusion without going any further especially since it would serve a good atheist-bashing agenda.

  47. 47
    dancasey

    Here’s something that’s kind of funny. In the original post, Ed Brayton wrote:

    “Do you suppose we’ll be hearing Casey fantasize about such conversations in the offices of Liberty Counsel, the Thomas More Law Center or the American Center for Law and Justice anytime soon? Yeah, not likely.”

    Actually, I did almost exactly that in this column, last October, about the Ten Commandments in Giles County schools. http://www.roanoke.com/columnists/casey/wb/299836

    (Which generated hate mail, spurred by the FFRF daily email, until they finally realized I was on their side, then sent out another email instructing their followers to send me “love” emails, which they did.)

    So I reckon you could say I’m nine months ahead of Ed. . .Perhaps he’ll change his tune by April.

  48. 48
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @dancasey

    The differences and similarities between the two articles are striking.

    Major differences: While no one believes that Giles Country schoolboard was actually being advised by the mob, the idea that the FFRF (and other similar organizations) somehow make millions of dollars off of these lawsuits is a commonly touted theme amongst the conservafundies. The former is clearly satire, the latter is not, because satire requires you do more than simply repeat their accusations verbatim.
    I realize this has been a problem for humor writers for some time now. The reich-wing of American politics have taken many positions over the last few years that seemingly defy satire with their absurdity, and this issue (at first blush) seems to be one of those. But this is a problem to be recognized and overcome, not hid behind.

    …Oh, and the similarities? Yeah. Neither of them were the least bit funny – and to call me humorless because I don’t find your jokes amusing is
    pretty absurd. I love a good comedy, I love good standup, I watch Colbert almost every day (now THAT man kows how to satire!), but even knowing that your columns were supposed to be satire, I couldn’t find a thing to chuckle about in either of them. So I guess now you know why the Onion hasn’t called you back, eh?

  49. 49
    dancasey

    What was REALLY odd about last October’s dustup was how fast the FFRF faithful changed from “hate” emails to “love” emails.

    They turned on a dime. It was like somebody had flipped a switch in the membership.

    It left the impression that if the FFRF sent its members an email saying “JUMP!” the members would ask “How high?” on the way up.

    Not exactly free-thinking, you know?

  50. 50
    yoav

    @Dancasey
    Another problem with your comparison is that the Giles county school board did try to have the plaintiff’s name made public in spite, or maybe because, the harassment and death treats other students who sued over church/state issues had to endure.

  51. 51
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    What was REALLY odd about last October’s dustup was how fast the FFRF faithful changed from “hate” emails to “love” emails.

    Yeah it’s so weird how they changed their minds when presented with conflicting evidence, instead of doubling down in the face of it! Why would rational freethinkers DO that??

    Of course, we’re to trust that your recollection of the events is accurate and unbiased?

  52. 52
    Ed Brayton

    Dan Casey keeps repeating this story about the FFRF sending out its mindless followers to attack him at some point in the past as though it was relevant. As I told him in our email exchange, not only did they not tell me to do so, I was the one who called Dan Barker and told him about this column. He repeats this because he thinks it is evidence that atheists are just humorless lapdogs who attack when prompted, apparently because he thinks data is the plural of anecdote. But it does not, in fact, establish either that this column is funny (it’s not) or that it would be interpreted as anything but an attack on the FFRF. I’d really be very curious to see the Roanoke Times do an online survey on that question. I’d be willing to bet a pretty sizable amount of money that the overwhelming majority of readers saw it exactly the same way I saw it, as an attempt to discredit the FFRF. If Casey really thinks that his readers are so hip to his humor that they would have easily caught on to the satire that he claims was aimed at the local officials rather than the FFRF, why not take such a poll? I suspect it’s because he knows how it would turn out. Regardless of intent, that column reads exactly like it was an attack on the FFRF; the entire fantasy scenario of the FFRF board meeting exactly matches what the supporters of the school board almost certainly believe to be the reality.

  53. 53
    dancasey

    Yo Ed, the FFRF staff attorney, Andrew Seidel, wrote about the column July 26 — the day it appeared.

    http://ffrf.org/news/blog/let-your-imagination-run-wild/

    Yet you’re asking us to believe you called them and then waited 4 days to write about it yourself?

  54. 54
    Ed Brayton

    I write well ahead of time and often write things that get posted several days later. I don’t know Seidel from Adam (I’m not even a member of FFRF), but I called Dan Barker when I saw it and emailed him at 1:03 pm on July 26th about it. I suspect that’s how Seidel found out about it and he wrote something about it then, but I don’t know for sure because I don’t know the guy and have never talked to him. I’m not asking you to believe anything, I can show you the email with the headers attached. But who fucking cares? Are you really reduced to this kind of idiotic response? Okay, that was a rhetorical question.

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