Another Atheist Banner Stolen

After local atheists paid $50 to put up a banner from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in the public square in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, another local man, citing the Newtown shootings, climbed up and ripped them down. And a local TV station caught it all on film.

Several people who were working or shopping in downtown Wilkes-Barre and saw the banner told Newswatch 16 that they were offended by the group’s message.

“It’s a shame that someone has to protrude such hatred on such a beautiful holiday season, just because they don’t have the same thoughts or ideas as the majority of people who live in the area,” said Alyson Bartoloma.

Shortly before 4 p.m. on Thursday, a man who identified himself as Joe McDonald climbed about 30 feet up the sculpture, cut two wires holding one end of the banner, and left it dangling in the wind alongside an American flag that he had placed on the scaffolding.

“I just think in the light of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, that we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God,” said McDonald. “If they wanted to put the sign down here with us, that’s fine because we’re united. But to put it above everybody? No, it’s symbolic.”

This particular sign is the one that says religion hardens hearts and enslaves minds, which I think is a dumb sign to put up. But that doesn’t make this any less a crime. What Joe McDonald did was malicious destruction of property and he should be arrested and charged for it. I doubt he will be.

Update: In fact, four similar signs have now been vandalized or stolen, including two of them here in Michigan.

Oh, and here’s an entirely innocuous sign from a secular group in Virginia. It was spray painted and then burned.

26 comments on this post.
  1. raven:

    Atheist banner = $50

    Xians acting like rabid weasels = priceless

    It is cheap publicity.

  2. raven:

    This particular sign is the one that says religion hardens hearts and enslaves minds,..

    Which Joe McDonald then proceeds to demonstrate. The irony is overwhelming here.

  3. thisisaturingtest:

    …we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God…

    I agree completely. The division, though, isn’t caused by people who don’t see god and religion as the central fact of life, but by those like Pat Robertson, Bryan Fischer, and others, who make their beliefs the line of demarcation.

  4. DaveL:

    v\“I just think in the light of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, that we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God,”

    Yeah, that’s an excellent reason to vandalize displays that disagree with your religion. It was all for the sake of religious tolerance – those minority beliefs are so much easier to tolerate when they’re bullied and harassed into silence.

    “If they wanted to put the sign down here with us, that’s fine because we’re united. But to put it above everybody? No, it’s symbolic.”

    Or perhaps it was done to make it harder for assholes like you to vandalize?

  5. Modusoperandi:

    Look, as long as Athiests are so Militant this kind of thing will happen. This country was founded as a Melting Pot of the same belief and the Freedom of majority rule, NOTthe right to raise a fuss or rebel. Once you people go back to not having signs youll see that they won’t get vanadlized.

  6. Gregory in Seattle:

    Never mind the fact that religion is the primary cause (or at least excuse) for mass murder in the world.

  7. Gregory in Seattle:

    @Modusoperandi – The “melting pot” idea is very recent: into the 1950s, it was quite common for states and municipalities to have laws restricting areas to “whites only” or banning Chinese or Latinos from owning property. And we still have a major problem where non-Christians face tremendous discrimination. Several states still have laws and even language in their constitutions requiring a belief in God: even though such laws cannot be officially enforced, there are many ways of implementing them anyway.

  8. anubisprime:

    Well cannot be bothered with watching inanity but if they got this doofus on visual record then surely he is up for criminal damage, if the Judge has any integrity then he should also order doofus pays for the manufacture and installation of a replacement!

  9. ph041985:

    Here’s a rough idea for a banner:

    Left Panel: Depiction of Christians in ancient Roman Empire being persecuted.
    Caption: 1st-3rd Century: Christians are persecuted by the Roman Empire.

    Right Panel: Image of a someone in the act of defacing an Atheist/Non-Christian display
    Caption: 21st Century: Non-Christians persecuted by Christian America.

    Bottom Caption: Notice a pattern?

  10. flyv65:

    Please tell me Modusoperandi is displaying sarcasm with the twaddle about “freedom of majority rule”…well, actually everything posted.

    B

  11. Steve Morrison:

    @5: Give up! Mad the Swine is impossible to imitate.

  12. Marcus Ranum:

    @#10 – modus operandi’s method of operation is fundamentalist snark with a twist of irony thrown in. He’s generally pretty fun!

  13. Modusoperandi:

    Gregory in Seattle “@Modusoperandi – …into the 1950s, it was quite common for states and municipalities to have laws restricting areas to ‘whites only’ or banning Chinese or Latinos from owning property.”
    That IS the melting pot. Look at how white stew is (think about it!). If those Chinesians and Latinics want THEIR “rights” to stand above the right of Americans, then they should’ve come here from eNGLAND like Real Americans did.
    -
    “And we still have a major problem where non-Christians face tremendous discrimination. Several states still have laws and even language in their constitutions requiring a belief in God: even though such laws cannot be officially enforced, there are many ways of implementing them anyway.”
    This is AMERICA. A wave of immigrants comes here, gets treated like crap, its kids get treated like crap, and their kids get treated like crap. Then a new wave of even foreignerer immigrants comes and the great grandchildren of that earlier wave get their chance to vent their suppressed greeinses on the new bottom rung, treating them as the poor, lazy, UnAmerican, America-destroyers that they are. The American Dream IS climbing up high enough to spit on those below. Irish “Americans” were told not to apply and German-Jewish immigrants were pushed to the side, now Bill O’reilly and Debbie Schlussel do the SAME to Muslin “Americans”.
    Non-Christian “Americans”, by definition, includes Athiests. There’s a reason the fOUNDING fATHERS put “Under God We Trust” on AMERICAN money.
    -
    Steve Morrison “@5: Give up! Mad the Swine is impossible to imitate.”
    Your not the boss of me! *Pout*

  14. jws1:

    And another person just can’t figure out Modus. I guess smart people really can be bad readers with defective senses of humor. Every week someone reveals their shitty reading skills with respect to Modus’ quips.

  15. Modusoperandi:

    flyv65 “Please tell me Modusoperandi is displaying sarcasm with the twaddle about “freedom of majority rule”…well, actually everything posted.”
    Pah! The Popular Majority is protected from the poor huddled masses
    yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of other teeming shores by the SEPARATION OF POWERS. It’s right ther in THE CONSTITUTION. “Separation of Powers: Those with Power shall, henceforth and forthwith, forsooth, be separated from those without”. George Jefferson himself read that to General Washington FROM THE CONSTITIUTION, after Washington defeated Napoleon at the Battle for the Bulge, freeing America from European-style SOCIALISM in 1776.

  16. Sastra:

    “I just think in the light of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, that we shouldn’t be divided as a country over petty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God,” said McDonald.

    Yes, after the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, elected politicians such as the president shouldn’t have made official statements which sounded like church sermons, thereby dividing the country over whether there is or isn’t a God. Wanker.

    I agree with DaveL at #4. The offered “excuse” — that the sign was only removed because it was higher than the others — is nonsense. If it was on the same level as the others this particular gentleman would have done the same thing … and probably blamed it on the sign being right next to other signs.

  17. Dr X:

    The notion of a melting pot actually gained traction between 1910 and 1920 in reaction to panic over a huge immigration wave. Prior to that time, immigrants came in a variety of dipping sauces.

  18. left0ver1under:

    Gregory in Seattle (#6)

    Never mind the fact that religion is the primary cause (or at least excuse) for mass murder in the world.

    In the absence of a provable “god”, all religions are ideologies.

    All mass murder in the world throughout history have been caused by extremist ideologies. Nobody ever killed anyone in the name of nothing. Nobody killed people because their society was peaceful and accepted others.

    The religious cannot grasp (or they lie about it) that atheism is not an ideology. It’s an absence of ideology.

  19. davefitz:

    Modusoperandi – “go back to not having signs youll see that they won’t get vanadlized”

    I seriously can’t deny that logic. Hey (insert minority group/view), stop being who you are and we’ll stop hating you for it.”

  20. davefitz:

    Wait, Modusoperandi MUST be a Poe. Because he is f-ing hilarious. Seriously. I am now a fan. :)

  21. bad Jim:

    No offense to M.O., but I do miss Mad the Swine, whose comments were so pitch-perfect that they could be scary, even when you were in on the joke.

  22. Nemo:

    “[P]etty stuff like is there a God or isn’t there a God”… I gotta say, that’s a new one. (And very disingenuous, because if he really thought religion were a petty matter, there’s no way he’d be tearing down that sign.)

  23. democommie:

    Now that we know, precisely–and out of his own piehole–why that fella ripped down the atheist banner? Now, can we say that he and EVERY FUCKING PERSON WHO THINKS LIKE HE DOES is an asshole and a moron? Sorry, that’s not really a question, at least not for me.

    Dear Mr. Modusoperandi:

    I have been having a problem lately with my snarkliciousness. I wonder if you might deign to tell me whether there is such a fauxPoe parody.

  24. democommie:

    Re; Atheism:

    I don’t believe in any GOD that might be recognizable. There may be some entity, of which I am unaware, one that takes some sort of interest in what happens on a dampish speck of dust that rotates around a Type G2-V Star in a middling to biggish galaxy with several hundred billions other stars in it. Evidence for same is nonexistent at the moment. That is subject to change as new information arrives–I am not holding my breath.

    I also believe that most people are decent enough, that belief is tested, many times, every day. When I meet people like Mr. Joe McDonald (I am hoping–and also fairly certain–that he is NOT this Joe McDonald–http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuUBCF3KKxc).

  25. khms:

    As for the “melting pot” idea, Wikipedia explains it in depth, but from the quotes there, the source seems to be this:

    Man is the most composite of all creatures…. Well, as in the old burning of the Temple at Corinth, by the melting and intermixture of silver and gold and other metals a new compound more precious than any, called Corinthian brass, was formed; so in this continent,–asylum of all nations,–the energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and Cossacks, and all the European tribes,–of the Africans, and of the Polynesians,–will construct a new race, a new religion, a new state, a new literature, which will be as vigorous as the new Europe which came out of the smelting-pot of the Dark Ages, or that which earlier emerged from the Pelasgic and Etruscan barbarism.

    ——Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal entry, 1845, first published 1912 in Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson with Annotations, Vol. IIV, 116

    Interestingly enough, RWE seems to point to Europe as a precedent here, whereas most people I’ve heard talking about the melting pot concept (well, read really) seemed to believe in American Exceptionalism.

  26. Dr X:

    My comment at 17 was not about origin of “melting pot,” but about when it gained “traction.” I don’t believe in American exceptionalism, but the period between 1910-1920 in the US was a time of massive immigration and immigrant panic. Talk of the melting pot became very popular during that time.

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=melting+pot&year_start=1700&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

    It was this panic that also led to a virtual halt in immigration. Half my family made it in with the immigration door hitting them in the ass.

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