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Mar 07 2013

American Atheists New Billboard Campaign Stirs Controversy

American Atheists has a new billboard campaign that highlights statements made by prominent Republican politicians, including Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, along with Pastor Robert Jeffress. CNN’s Belief blog notices the new billboards and, unfortunately, catches a misquote:

In one billboard, a picture of Palin is featured on the left, with a quote attributed to her. “We should create law based on the God of the Bible,” the quote reads. Underneath the graphic is a tag line “GO GODLESS INSTEAD.”

The billboard, however, misquotes Palin. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Palin addressed the growth in American secularism by saying America’s founding fathers “would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments,” not “should.”

Here’s what Palin actually said:

Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant– they’re quite clear– that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandents, it’s quite simple.”

Obviously she meant that we should do what she thinks the founding fathers did, but that billboard still needs to be changed. If you put it in quotation marks, it has to be a verbatim quote, not a paraphrase. Accuracy matters. And kudos to my friends at American Atheists for owning up to the mistake and changing the text of that billboard.

I haven’t been a big fan of some of the billboards AA has put up, but I like this campaign. I like that it highlights the theocratic tendencies of prominent Republicans, something I do every day on this blog. That is exactly what we are fighting against.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    Alverant

    How is it that quoting someone is “ratetching up the rhetoric”?

    In any case, Palin is still wrong.

  2. 2
    composer99

    Obviously, they aren’t Real Americans™! Real Americans™! would never admit to making a mistake. Real Americans™! would double down and stick to their guns! Don’t retreat, reload!

  3. 3
    d.c.wilson

    The AA should realized that what they wrote was too grammatically correct to be an accurate quote from Palin.

  4. 4
    TGAP Dad

    Actually, this error was acknowledged by AA, and would have been corrected. Hemant Mehta and JT Eberhard covered this very topic a few days ago, as well as (AA communications director) Dave Muscato’s handling of it, which turned out to be exactly what we’d hope for. These billboards were not actually erected at the time this error was pointed out, and the Palin design, as it turns out, was the proposed design that would have been run if the original designs, quoting Rick Perry and Dubya Bush, had been declined by the billboard owners. After inquiries from CNN as to why they refused the Texas politician designs, the billboard company backed down and allowed them. So Sarah gets benched.

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    the only thing about that error that pisses me off, is people from OUR side claiming that it makes it an equivalent error to those of the creationists that actually quotemine someone.

    for those even thinking that to be the case (not saying any here are), let me be frank:

    you’re idiots.

    this is NOT a quotemine, since the meaning and intent of what Palin said is entirely consistent with the quote, even with the error in it, especially taken IN context.

    so please, if you are even remotely thinking of equating the two…

    don’t.

  6. 6
    Sastra

    What’s particularly amusing is that atheists are being charged with “ratchet(ing) up the rhetoric” by accurately quoting things which could in theory have been used on a Republican billboard. Seriouslly — mentally eliminate the “Go Godless” and insert “Go Teaparty” and consider what kind of concern this billboard would create in many conservative communities. Virtually none. These aren’t obscure, embarrassing little flubs. This is common Republican rhetoric. If CNN feels uncomfortable, they shouldn’t blame atheists.

  7. 7
    dingojack

    Ichthyic – ‘That’s what (s)he was thinking/ that’s what (s)he really meant, therefore it’s perfectly OK to claim it’s a direct quote“. Are you channeling David Barton or Ellis Washington (or both)?
    Dingo
    ——–
    would have used something like:
    ‘ … we … [should] create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments… ‘ – Sarah Palin.

  8. 8
    aaronbaker

    dingojack:

    As a general rule, I’d rather jump into a bucket of someone else’s vomit than agree with Ichthyic about anything; but here, I’m afraid, he’s right: the misquotation doesn’t misrepresent Sarah Palin’s intent, nor do we have any good reason to think it was intended to misrepresent her intent–rather than being just a piece of careless quoting. I don’t see how it enters David Barton territory to make these points about it.

  9. 9
    aaronbaker

    I’ll add: I don’t believe Ichthyic was saying it’s OK to misquote Palin, or anyone else.

  10. 10
    dingojack

    You guys should really get outta the ‘bad side’ of town, clearly it’s giving you a bad case of the ESPs.

    Unless you’re privy to Sarah Palin’s thought processes, you don’t know what she was thinking, but you do know what she said.

    If you want to claim it’s a QUOTE from Sarah Palin, then quote what SHE ACTUALLY SAID.
    If you want to editorially adjust the quote then CLEARLY SHOW you editorial changes thus:
    EITHER
    ‘…. we… [should]… create law based on the God of the Bible…” – Sarah Palin
    ‘…. we… [s]hould… create law based on the God of the Bible…” – Sarah Palin
    OR
    ” …. we would [sic] create law based on the God of the Bible… “. – Sarah Palin

    If you can’t find a creditable source for the saying, clearly indicate it’s only attributed to her.
    EITHER
    “….we should create law….” – Sarah Palin (attrib.)
    OR
    “… we should create law….” – Attributed to Sarah Palin.

    Otherwise clearly indicate IT IS A PARAPHRASE (rather than a quote).

    To do less is as dishonest as Barton or Washington writing down something that they imagine someone said, or something they imagine that someone might have said, or something they imagine someone should have said and calling it a direct quote. That’s not quoting, that’s fictional dialogue.
    Such behaviour (when indulged, as it wasn’t in this case) deserves the contempt and derision heaped upon it.

    Dingo
    ——–
    BTW quotemining? Who said anything about quotemining?

  11. 11
    Ichthyic

    ‘That’s what (s)he was thinking/ that’s what (s)he really meant, therefore it’s perfectly OK to claim it’s a direct quote“. Are you channeling David Barton or Ellis Washington (or both)?

    I knew you were an idiot.

  12. 12
    Ichthyic

    You guys should really get outta the ‘bad side’ of town, clearly it’s giving you a bad case of the ESPs.

    How would you be able to recognize something like EXTRA sensory perception, when you’re basic perception is so limited?

    tell me, idiot… did you even bother to read the whole piece the quote with the error is from?

    no, instead you think the important thing is the issue of whether one can CALL it a quote.

    sorry, but that’s an idiotic argument, frankly, Ed himself is bordering on making the same one. But, the thing that saves Ed is that he recognizes that the sign would be better corrected, not that it is a significant error in and of itself.

    you simply… fail.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    you’re->your

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    BTW quotemining? Who said anything about quotemining?

    it’s a general address, not a specific one, I made that quite clear. I know, you have problems with reading comprehension you cover with humor.

    sorry bud, can’t help you there.

  15. 15
    dingojack

    No when I quote I make sure it’s what someone actually said, not what I think a person might have said, could have, should of said and etc.
    Clearly you prefer making shit up and calling it ‘a ‘quote’. That simply reflects on your credibility (and honesty).
    Dingo

  16. 16
    Ichthyic

    Clearly you prefer making shit up and calling it ‘a ‘quote’.

    clearly you prefer to fight strawmen instead of real men.

    careful, better zip that fly… you’re exposing yourself.

  17. 17
    Ichthyic

    …again.

  18. 18
    lofgren

    The irony of this:

    when I quote I make sure it’s what someone actually said, not what I think a person might have said, could have, should of said and etc.

    immediately following this:

    Ichthyic – ‘That’s what (s)he was thinking/ that’s what (s)he really meant, therefore it’s perfectly OK to claim it’s a direct quote“.

    is just too rich. Maybe I’m stepping on the joke here, but I think what DingoJack meant to say was:

    Ichthyic (attrib.) – ‘That’s what (s)he was thinking/ that’s what (s)he really meant, therefore it’s perfectly OK to claim it’s a direct quote“.

  19. 19
    lofgren

    Also: “That’s what SHE said!” hurr hurr hurr

  20. 20
    Ichthyic

    Maybe I’m stepping on the joke here

    who knows?

  21. 21
    Ichthyic

    I don’t believe Ichthyic was saying it’s OK to misquote Palin

    thank you, you have passed reading comprehension 101.

    :)

  22. 22
    Raging Bee

    The correct quote may be too unwieldy for a billboard — but it sure doesn’t make Palin any less wrong. IF the Founders really wanted to create a body of laws baed on the Ten Commandments, they could easily have copied all Ten of them straight into the Constitution. THAT would have been a clear record of the intent Palin alleges. So why didn’t they? Wait, lemme guess…they tried, but the godless commie Freemasons spiked it!

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