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Feb 29 2012

Because we’ve been given so much to laugh at

Steve Kryger is complaining about the lineup at the GAC.

It listed the usual suspects – Dawkins, Harris, Myers (and sadly not Hitchens). But then I was confused. Was the Atheist Convention trying to save money by co-advertising with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

Out of the 34 speakers, 10 are comedians: Ben Elton, Mikey Robbins, Lawrence Leung, Jim Jeffries, Catherine Deveny, Simon Taylor, Tom Ballard, Stella Young, Craig Foster and Mr Deity. Sounds like good news for Melburnians – buy one ticket, get two conferences.

How flattering! Now I’m one of the usual suspects in a group of atheists! I do feel he missed an opportunity by not also counting me among the comedians, though.

But seriously, why are comedians such a common sight at atheist rallies? For this conference in particular, billed as a “Celebration of Reason”, why are nearly one-third of the speakers brought in to have a poke and a giggle?

For atheists, religion seems to provide no end of potential comedic material.

EXACTLY! How nice of him to have answered his own question.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be clever enough to grasp his own point. It’s a sad situation: in the Chinese Room of Mr Kryger’s mind, some correct answers emerge, but he’s too dim to be aware of them.

Granted, there’s much about religion that can appear confusing and even difficult to believe. It’s also easy to do a quick scan of the fringes and discover a barn full of straw men to encapsulate everything you don’t like about religion. But this doesn’t explain why atheists so frequently resort to satire, mockery, ridicule and scorn.

We don’t find religion confusing at all: many of us were brought up in a faith, and many of us godless folk are interested enough to study the subject. We’re also not critiquing fringe beliefs: we’re addressing mainstream Christianity, Islam, whatever, and also various versions of the religions within those domains.

And they are all absurd.

No, really. Once you get outside of, say, Lutheranism, it looks just as nonsensical and ridiculous to you as Mormonism or Scientology or Islam look to a Lutheran. What? I have to believe a rabble-rousing rabbi from the first century was a magical being with omnipotence and omniscience in order to get into Disneyland after death? What? It’s faith not works that gives you the key? What? The talking snake and the flying horse were literally true? What? This special underwear, these ashes on my forehead, visiting this rock, dancing just this way, not dancing at all, chanting these special words, eating this food prepared just so, not eating that food ever, chopping off this part of my penis, wearing a beard, not wearing a beard, cutting my hair just so, not cutting my hair ever…all of these things I must do at the behest of the universe-spanning master of the cosmos, or to fit in with my people, and you don’t find it all hilarious?

Even the ones who claim to be distancing themselves from miracles and magic and anthropomorphic beings in the sky and babble about believing in the “ground state of all being” or whatever other vacuous foolishness they’ve been spoonfed by some dithering theologian are laughable. You can’t take someone seriously who has so piously dedicated their life to defending piffle with deepities.

My question for atheists today is this: do you think the incessant mockery and smug ridicule benefits your cause?

Yes.

Does being a stuffy po-faced dimbulb benefit yours?

I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule. I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

This is true. They just say the proponents of those other beliefs will get theirs in a satisfactorily grim afterlife of torment and despair. Christians are very serious about that — they actually talk cheerfully about getting good seats in heaven to look down upon the writhing agonies of their enemies. I guess that’s “respectful” in a way. They certainly do take the whole business very seriously.

But otherwise, ridicule isn’t a good look for people who believe in the ridiculous themselves. The guy with the big red nose had better not risk poking fun at the other guy in the giant clown shoes, because next thing you know pies will fly and everyone ends up looking silly.

82 comments

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  1. 1
    Aquaria

    That’s pretty damned obtuse.

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule.

    Well, here’s the problem: Atheists LACK beliefs. So what are they supposed to talk about? Why not how stupid other religions are–when they are.

    I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    So fucking delusional they have a room at the funny farm with this guy’s name on it in neon letters.

  2. 2
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Where do people get the idea that laughing at things (or, for that matter, being angry about things) is contrary to “reason?”

  3. 3
    Aquaria

    Oh–and the neon sign probably does that kitschy:

    Stupid… Ass… Hole…

    Stupid… Ass… Hole…

    Stupid AssHole
    Stupid AssHole
    Stupid AssHole

    Repeat.

  4. 4
    jamessweet

    When I encountered this paragraph, I thought I knew exactly what I was going to read, and so just skimmed it very rapidly (and carelessly):

    This special underwear, these ashes on my forehead, visiting this rock, dancing just this way, not dancing at all, chanting these special words, eating this food prepared just so, not eating that food ever, chopping off this part of my penis, wearing a beard, not wearing a beard, cutting my hair just so, not cutting my hair ever…

    And I swear I thought I read “eating my penis” as one of the required rituals. That would have been a new one on me! (Though I’m sure some religion somewhere….)

  5. 5
    marcus

    “My question for atheists today is this: do you think the incessant mockery and smug ridicule benefits your cause?
    Yes.”
    Wait…what? There’s a cause? I thought “…incessant mockery and smug ridicule…” was the cause! So it has a purpose as well? Bonus!11!!one!!

  6. 6
    noastronomer

    “I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule.”

    Glass houses and rocks etc.

  7. 7
    Glen Davidson

    I actually don’t recall any religion that didn’t have many members (circumcised?) that mocked other religions. And it seems that all of them mock atheists.

    Given the latter, well, there’s no obvious point that you have to be ridiculous to be mocked. My point is just that it’s pretty hypocritical to complain that atheists mock religion when the religious do as well.

    That’s how rhetorical battles are fought, idiot.

    Glen Davidson

  8. 8
    DaveL

    No, Christians don’t mock others’ beliefs. They simply slander them in unfunny ways. Much more noble.

  9. 9
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    For atheists, religion seems to provide no end of potential comedic material.

    If it was a grand piano, it would have fallen out of a building window and landed on him.

  10. 10
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    God I’m sick of comedians laughing at religion

    Awwww…. diddums.

  11. 11
    richardelguru

    The only confusing thing about Religion is why anyone would believe all that emu shit*
     
     
    *Have you ever smelled an emu (let alone its shit)?

  12. 12
    Matt G

    I am getting soooo tired of that “fringe straw man” straw man. We are NOT attacking fringe beliefs. As many as 50% of American adults are six-day creationists, plus all those ID creationists. Get right with the math gods: 50+% is not fringe!!

  13. 13
    Pteryxx

    Hang on, but laughter, pleasure, different viewpoints, and having fun are all sins in fundie-dom. It’s not that atheists have some sort of special lock on comedy; it’s that the obtusely religious lack it.

  14. 14
    Stephanie Zvan

    *sigh* Not just a complete failure on the subject of atheism, but also a complete failure on the subject of comedy. If you want to make people laugh, you deconstruct the things we take for granted, whether they be “polite” manners or pervasive cultural constructs. How could religion not be a major target for comedy?

  15. 15
    robro

    What? A person who happens to be a “comic” can’t be a well spoken, rational person capable of pointing out the ridiculousness of the various belief systems swarming around the world? This isn’t allowed?

    And, hahaha on him. There’s much about religion that’s “difficult to believe”? Jeez…he just doesn’t get it! This crap is impossible to “believe”. What’s more, belief is a core social problem and a dangerous human habit.

    As for Christian’s being “respectful of those opposing belief”…I call bullshit. He hasn’t been listening to the two Ricky’s, Michele? He’s never heard Pat Robertson or the host of Christian and Muslim fundamentalists talk about the other cults, much less atheists? That’s not respect coming out of their mouths. Sure, they’re serious, but the “mockery and smug ridicule” are very much there, though perhaps it’s too subtle for this guy to pick up.

    If believers had any respect for non-believers, they might at least listen but they don’t. Instead they’re ready to force people into their particular flavor of belief system…and if that fails, then perhaps they’ll just beat them up or worse.

  16. 16
    Glen Davidson

    I wonder how we’d get the idea that religion is ridiculous across without, say, a bit of ridicule.

    Maybe we should write tomes and make long sonorous speeches about how religion is ridiculous, without cracking a single joke about it.

    How novel of us, to ridicule the ridiculous.

    Glen Davidson

  17. 17
    Worldtraveller

    …in the Chinese Room of Mr Kryger’s mind…

    That is such a perfect turn of phrase for this assclowns.

  18. 18
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    For the record, we do a hell of a lot of crying about religion too. The laughter takes the edge off is all.

  19. 19
    holytape

    There are two reasons why religion must be mocked. First, it’s supporters argue that it is beyond reproach, and that if the religion is not respected bad things happen. It is almost a challenge. And it must be done to show that no statement should go unchallenged.
    Secondly, religion is a powerful institution. And good satire and well done mocking has a sharpness and a power that even the most well-crafted argument lacks. The jester can get away with speaking the truth.

    Fear and loathing in Damascus
    The second rider of the apocalypse.

  20. 20
    Synfandel

    If religion is all about reverence, why shouldn’t the lack of religion be all about irreverence? And isn’t that the heart of most comedy?

  21. 21
    Matt G

    Elevating one’s own beliefs necessarily lowers those of others.

    A creation myth is a creation story from a tradition other than your own.

  22. 22
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    But this doesn’t explain why atheists so frequently resort to satire, mockery, ridicule and scorn.

    Well it’s so much politer than resorting to bombs and bullets. I know, I’m letting the side down here, atheists are supped to be *so* rude.

    I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    Oh, really? Possibly at modern conferences where there is a bit of a lack of guns, faggots ( the burning in piles kind), dunking stools etc. But you don’t have to look far to see – ooh, look, bombs and bullets used by religionists against anyone they dislike.

    I’m sure it’s all done with the greatest respect though /snark

  23. 23
    Bronze Dog

    Where do people get the idea that laughing at things (or, for that matter, being angry about things) is contrary to “reason?”

    Back when my brother was a philosophy major (with good logic courses), he came up with a hypothesis that most humor involves recognition of logical fallacies. To that end, religion is funny because a lot of us recognize the circular logic, appeals to motive, force, wishful thinking, consequences of belief, and non-sequiturs, to name a few. Religion is often outright proud about using logical fallacies.

    In this case, we’re laughing (or getting angry) because we’re using reason to recognize the unreasonable absurdity of religion. We ridicule religion by highlighting those fallacies, so we’re delivering logical objections to religion packaged as jokes. And, for some people targeted by a joke, it makes them painfully aware of their fallacies. That type of humiliation sometimes teaches people the humility of doubt.

    The rest often can’t deal with the substance of the joke, so they lash out at the packaging… which, by the way, is a style over substance informal fallacy.

  24. 24
    Tanoro

    Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    This is true if you count death threats, after-death threats, public expressions of hate and intolerance, and general accusations of evil as respectful.

    Take Jessica Ahlquist, for example. She has received all of the above in no short supply not only by her peers, but by adults and even elected officials. Damon Fowler is another one.

  25. 25
    Margaret

    Bronze Dog:

    Back when my brother was a philosophy major (with good logic courses), he came up with a hypothesis that most humor involves recognition of logical fallacies.

    He’s not the only one to come up with that hypothesis. That’s pretty much the premise of the book Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes.

  26. 26
    BrianX

    Azkyroth:

    I think the following TVTropes page should explain it:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawVulcan

  27. 27
    kosk11348

    Two points. First:

    We believe…love is never expressed through ridicule. Is this what atheists believe?

    No, it is not. Atheists believe we should not have to remain silent when we see our friends, family, and members of our community entertaining harmful fantasies. We also believe that poking fun of these harmful beliefs, often employing ridicule, is a valid tactic for demystifying and desanctifying religious assertions that many theists would prefer to leave unchallenged and unquestioned. In fact, we feel that religion currently enjoys far too much respect and deference, and we’d like to see that change.

    Secondly, maybe the reason there are so many comedians attending the atheist rally because most comedians are atheists. Many comedians are in the business of speaking truth to power. They deconstruct the unconscious biases that most people engage in without thinking. It is this ability to take a step back and see clearly the inherent silliness of many human behaviors that informs most comics’ material. And religion does provide such a rich vein of silliness to mine.

  28. 28
    Doubting Thomas

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” — Thomas Jefferson

  29. 29
    cag

    Will there be Gelato?

  30. 30
    charvakan

    “Christians believe that all people are created in the image of God and deserving of the greatest of respect, regardless of what they believe.

    Is this what atheists believe? The behaviour of many public atheists would suggest otherwise.”"

    I dont’ think he understands what atheism is about. No, we DON”T believe people are created in the image of god, and NO, foolish beliefs don’t deserve the greatest of respect.

  31. 31
    grumpy1942
  32. 32
    grumpy1942

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule. I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    You might want to talk with Jessica Alquist about this.

    Or watch a John Hagee sermon about atheists and secular humanists.

  33. 33
    Aratina Cage

    @jamessweet

    I swear I thought I read “eating my penis” as one of the required rituals. That would have been a new one on me! (Though I’m sure some religion somewhere….)

    This practice seems close enough:

    …metzitzah b’peh, (alt. mezizah), or oral suction, [is] where the mohel sucks blood from the circumcision wound.

  34. 34
    grumpy1942

    But seriously, why are comedians such a common sight at atheist rallies? For this conference in particular, billed as a “Celebration of Reason”, why are nearly one-third of the speakers brought in to have a poke and a giggle?

    For atheists, religion seems to provide no end of potential comedic material.

    Christians don’t really seem to have much of a sense of humor. At least, they can’t laugh at themselves, so we do it for them.

    Christian comics Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are truly laughable, though. Banana man and crockoduck are very funny routines.

  35. 35
    truthspeaker

    He says “resort to” as if satire, mockery, and ridicule were bad things.

    They’re not.

  36. 36
    Anthony K

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule.

    Aww, how sweet. That totally takes the sting from the anti-abortion laws and the homophobic attacks on same-sex marriage.

    Why, you’re all just a bunch of teddy bears—jack-booted totalitarian theocratic teddy bears, but teddys nonetheless.

    I’ll be sure to send the Pope some money so he can mislead more Africans into killing themselves, the wicked little scamp!

  37. 37
    Gregory Greenwood

    For atheists, religion seems to provide no end of potential comedic material.

    and:

    Granted, there’s much about religion that can appear confusing and even difficult to believe.

    Kryger is so close here, why can’t he take the obvious next step?

    All religion is ridiculous, and at times that ridculousness is funny by its sheer, reality denying craziness. And atheists laugh at its foolishness, if only because we spend so much of the time wrestling with the depressing, sickening, and horrifying consequences brough about by supposedly responsible adults taking their favourite fairy tales absolutely seriously.

    A belief that is almost comedic in abstract – such as the idea that an allegedly omnipotent, omniscient creator deity of the universe should also be an utter prude who is perversely obsessed with the sexual mores of a particular breed of semi-sentient ape, for example – can become terrifying when it is interpreted as a literal truth and declared the basis of morality, and the result is the Ugandan government passing laws that declare homosexuality punishable by death, or the rise of a rape culture mentality that mandates that blame should be apportioned to the victims of rape, or the development of a culture that embraces the toxic idea that ‘honour killings’ are a legitimate way of preserving the reputation of the family unit.

    Surrounded by such horrors, so much of the time, it seems to me that if we didn’t laugh from time to time at the sheer, clown-shoe tomfoolery of the god-botherers, then we would all go mad.

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule. I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    Oh, I am sure that the christians are scrupulously polite when they publicly fantasise about their opponents being (supposedly deservedly, no less) tormented forever by their god’s personal torturer-in-chief.

    I don’t doubt for a second that they avoid all crass crudity when they pontificate that, since all morality and personal rights are supposedly derived from their god, then atheists (and others that don’t live as they think they should) are undeserving of the fundamental human and civil rights that should be afforded to all.

    I would wager that not a single syllable of profanity crosses their lips when the declare a deep, sincere and intimate love that happens to be between people of the same gender to be an evil abomination such that any public recognition of it should be outlawed ‘for the good of society’.

    Oh yes, Kryger, I am sure that your co-religionists spew their self-righteous, bigoted hatred in the most respectful way possible…

  38. 38
    cag

    Gregory Greenwood #37

    Oh, I am sure that the christians are scrupulously polite when they publicly fantasise about their opponents being (supposedly deservedly, no less) tormented forever by their god’s personal torturer-in-chief.

    Have the godders ever considered that one imaginary being (satan) is sticking it to another imaginary being (god) by running a luxury spa?

  39. 39
    raven

    “Christians believe that all people are created in the image of God and deserving of the greatest of respect, regardless of what they believe.

    This is just a lie.

    Xians are famous for killing those they don’t like or disagree with. Especially if they are other xians.

    Two of the crusades were launched against other xians. And the last of the 450 years of Reformation wars was in Northern Ireland, ending a whole 12 years ago.

    Hitchens: Xianity lost its best defense when it stopped burning people at the stake.

  40. 40
    seditiosus

    The real question isn’t why we laugh at theism, it’s how anyone with half a functional brain could manage not to laugh at theism.

  41. 41
    timgueguen

    Don’t forget folks that Kryger is presumably an Australian. His experiences with religion will be a bit different than those of Americans, since I get the impression US style firea nd brimstone types are less common down there. And I bet the Christian conferences he’s attended are dominated by sophisticated theology types who believe in the wishywashy “He’s my best friend” sort of God who will only send you to hell if you’re really, really, really bad like Hitler.

  42. 42
    =8)-DX

    Maybe we should write tomes and make long sonorous speeches about how religion is ridiculous, without cracking a single joke about it.

    Now that would be just absurd..

  43. 43
    raven

    Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    No they aren’t.

    1. On a good day PZ Myers has gotten over one hundred death threats. In one day.

    2. Like a lot of scientists, I’ve been getting death threats from xians for over a decade. For most of that time, I was a xian myself.

    3. There have been 800 violent incidents directed against Moslems or Mosques since 9/11, including at least three murders. Even the nearest mosque to my house was an arson target.

    4. Xian terrorism has been a serious problem in the USA for decades. Since 9/11 2/3′s of all terrorist plots and incidents in the USA have involved right wing and xian terrorists.

    5. I constantly read in the papers how a Jewish cemetery, synogogue, temple, or community center has been vandalized usually by painting swastikas on them but sometimes a lot worse.

  44. 44
    David Marjanović

    charvakan, I like your name

    Where do people get the idea that laughing at things (or, for that matter, being angry about things) is contrary to “reason?”

    They’ve used reason so seldom that they happen never to have laughed while (let alone because of) using reason.

    Where do people get the idea that love is contrary to reason? Same thing.

  45. 45
    Gregory Greenwood

    cag @ 38;

    Have the godders ever considered that one imaginary being (satan) is sticking it to another imaginary being (god) by running a luxury spa?

    Oh, I like that. I can see it now. The newly deceased atheist is deposited in hell; all is fire and brimstone – rivers of lava, screams echoing through the cavernous space and images of torment all around. The Prince of Lies leans down toward his terrified victim, only to whisper; “just play along until the up-tight old git wanders off back to his retiremnet home in the sky”. The shimmering portal that the atheist came through closes, and everything changes.

    The fire reduces down into a cheery log blaze, a pleasant vista opens up – alpine, beachside, forest, whatever the individual tenant desires – the screams stop instantly, to be replaced with the quiet hubbub of intellectual conversation in some quarters, and the gasps and moans of carnal congress in others. The atheist finds themselves suddenly flanked by two naked, well muscled, handsome young incubi/naked, curvaceous, beautiful succubi/one of each (delete as appropriate to taste). The terrifying visage of evil that first greeted them is replaced by the congenial (if slighty ruddy and goatee-bearded) face of their host who says; “Welcome to the Villa Pandemonium, where you will have a … hell… of a good time – sorry, can’t resist that pun. I am Lucifer, your guide, host and new best friend…”

    “But… but… why?” The atheist finally manages to say.

    “I worked for that impossible old monster for eons,” the Devil replies, “he treated all us angels terribly, with his mercurial temper and ridiculous, conflicting rules. I finally had enough. I told him that his edicts made no sense, and I was tired of his bullying. I said that I was off to pastures new with others of like mind, and so he imprisoned us all down here – and now he expects us to torture other free thinkers for him? As if…”

  46. 46
    Anthony K

    The atheist finds themselves suddenly flanked by two naked, well muscled, handsome young incubi/naked, curvaceous, beautiful succubi/one of each

    That would be hell:

    “The atheist looks at the incubi/succubi and begins to cry.

    ‘Don’t cry,’ consols a succubus, ‘don’t you find us as attractive as we do you?’

    ‘Of course I do,’ sobs the atheist.

    ‘Then there is nothing to worry about,’ says the other succubus, one hand resting on the atheist’s chest, the other on muscled arm of one of the incubi. ‘Here, we can indulge our consensual desires as often as we like. Come, let’s get started.’

    The atheist begins to wail.

    ‘But, you don’t understand,’ he screams. ‘Some call me Brownian. And that means you gotta go to the back of the line…’”

  47. 47
    Sastra

    I’m not suggesting this never happens, but on the whole, Christians are respectful of those with opposing beliefs.

    Because that’s part of the Mutually Assured Destruction Pact of faith-based beliefs. Once you start going down the “doesn’t that bit of doctrine sound silly” you’ve no rule to hide behind when the other side starts doing it to you. Which of course they can, once they’re standing on ground that isn’t covered with a haze that keeps anyone from examining anything too closely. You’re pretty much all the same, when you strip away the details.

    Religion and spirituality are dependent on the idea that whatever you believe ‘on faith’ is sacred and untouchable. It’s a vital immunizing strategy. To insult, criticize, or mock a person’s faith is to attack who they are as a person.

    Atheists don’t buy into the system. Religious beliefs are hypotheses, not badges of honor or identity. And they are bad hypotheses. That’s why we are atheists. We don’t accept the conclusion.

    And we can’t afford that people confuse a conclusion with a value. Mockery, humor, and ridicule is the shortest way to get this point across. It is not less, but MORE respectful of people in general to make fun of bad ideas, and not act as if they couldn’t be capable of changing their mind.

    You want to ridicule atheists? Go ahead and try.

    “Imagine going through life completely duped into thinking that there’s no invisible, omniscient higher power guiding every action on Earth. It’s just so arbitrary!” –(Stephen Colbert)

    We don’t need the immunizing strategy of demanding that our poorly-reasoned, badly-evidenced, unlikely magical faith beliefs be declared special, impressive, and off-limits. We don’t want the Pact kept.

  48. 48
    Sastra

    Ok, Gregory Greenwood AND Brownian added to the atheist comedian roster. Heh.

  49. 49
    Ichthyic

    yeah, I have just one response:

    This is true.

    no, it isn’t.

    Evangelical Christians like the fuckwit you’re writing about are simply incapable of grasping irony and satire.

    You bet your ass they would employ it to the fullest extent possible if they could.

    Hell, they employ all other tricks in the playbook to foster disrespect towards others beliefs. From direct attacks to indirect attacks on neighbors, to continually pushing changes to the law, and even the constitutions of their states and countries, it’s quite clear that the religiously minded really DON’T have ANY respect at all for even their neighbors.

    respect is a foreign word to them; they choke on it when they say it.

    Please, retract those 3 words from your OP, PZ. They aren’t even worthy as satire.

    religion fosters respect like the plague fosters healthy living.

  50. 50
    Ichthyic

    …the only thing that makes christians THINK they respect others is simply generations of entitlement and majority status.

    that’s it.

  51. 51
    eigenperson

    Kryger: “It’s not nice to laugh at the emperor for being naked. Sure, he may LOOK naked, and people who go around nude in public are admittedly kind of laughable, but that doesn’t explain why you aclothesists keep ridiculing the emperor. Besides, I hang around the emperor all the time and I’ve never seen the emperor laugh at other people’s clothes, so think about that, aclothesists!”

  52. 52
    singletrack

    Holytape at 19 is right-on.
    “Secondly, religion is a powerful institution. And good satire and well done mocking has a sharpness and a power that even the most well-crafted argument lacks. The jester can get away with speaking the truth.”

    Comedy is a way of dealing with social issues. It is a member in good standing with the other arts as a tool for legitimate social commentary. Steve obviously has a low opinion of comedy. Read Sam Clemens or listen to George Carlin (both ridiculed religion) and you can appreciate that it’s the sharpest tool of the lot. “A poke and a giggle”; really? How about a slap and a belly-laugh. Steve either has no sense of humor or he’s a tone troll.

    Like Christians, who curse the sin rather than the sinner, we don’t ridicule the Christian, rather we ridicule the belief; it only becomes personal to the extent that the person identifies with the belief. It is this personal identity with a ‘higher power’ that turns humor into ridicule. If I make a humorous remark when you put on a ‘Cat in the Hat’ hat, it only becomes ridicule if you really believe that you become the ‘Cat’ when you put it on. Religion is like that; in your belief you become a special person, a person with special privileges with a special position in the social hierarchy. Humor is one way of disabusing you of that delusion.

  53. 53
    Ichthyic

    Like Christians, who curse the sin rather than the sinner, we don’t ridicule the Christian, rather we ridicule the belief

    well, typically we ridicule the belief FIRST, point out exactly why it isn’t supported logically or evidentially, and THEN ridicule the believer, as they inevitably flail about trying to defend the indefensible.

    which is why we often mock people such as Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, William Dembski….

    It’s appropriate in these cases to mock both the belief AND the believer, whether it is meant tactically, or just for consistency’s sake.

  54. 54
    Stacy

    Religion has been powerful and privileged and taken seriously for far too long.

    Humor can be subversive. It’s a useful weapon against powerful people and institutions–one of the best in our arsenal.

    Besides, it’s fun to laugh.

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule.

    Boo hoo. You’d think the substance of the humor was totally irrelevent, wouldn’t you? As though a Jon Stewart-style satirical analysis is the same thing as a kid on the playground getting a big laugh by calling the religious kid a doody-head.

  55. 55
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    ‘But, you don’t understand,’ he screams. ‘Some call me Brownian. And that means you gotta go to the back of the line…’”

    Tears of laughter.

  56. 56
    truthspeaker

    I’ve been struggling to put into words how I feel about this article. What bothers me most is Mr. Kryger’s attitude toward comedy. As so many of you have pointed out, comedy is an effective communication tool with a long, long history – at least as old as speech itself, I would think.

    He seems to be implying that serious communication is always superior.

    That makes me want to watch the Muppet Show. Come to think of it, I’m picturing Steve Kryger as Sam the Eagle.

  57. 57
    Aquaria

    But, you don’t understand,’ he screams. ‘Some call me Brownian. And that means you gotta go to the back of the line

    Working all according to my plan.

    The more people in your line, the more those of us who hate lines can have fun with each other. :P

    Or, as I once said to a foursome getting…romantic…at a Gravity Kills concert, “Is this a private orgy, or can anyone join in?”

  58. 58
    Gregory Greenwood

    Brownian @ 46;

    ‘But, you don’t understand,’ he screams. ‘Some call me Brownian. And that means you gotta go to the back of the line…’”

    Note to self:- don’t imbibe any beverage whilst reading Brownian’s posts in future…

    I take my hat off to you, Brownian. I was nearly sick because I laughed so hard at that.

    I like to think that, in this far more fun version of the hell-trope, where the fire and brimstone and whips and chains are simply part of the consensual BDSM play area, there would be a way around this problem. Not being limited by the usual restrictions of matter and energy, perhaps you could subdivide into any number of versions of yourself, thereby allowing simultaneous ghey secks with Brownian for all – including any particularly attractive demons/demonettes that may wonder by…

    —————————————————————-

    Sastra @ 48;

    Ok, Gregory Greenwood AND Brownian added to the atheist comedian roster. Heh.

    I was once told several years ago, by a very stern individual, not to joke about hell because it is “a very serious issue” and that it is therefore wrong to joke about the “fate of people’s immortal souls”. I gave the fundie in question one of those single-raised-eyebrow, slowly-edge-away-from-the-crazy-person-without-making-any-sudden-moves looks and exited stage left at the earliest opportunity.

    This was before I became as ‘shrill’ as I am these days, you understand.

  59. 59
    Gregory Greenwood

    Aquaria @ 57;

    The more people in your line, the more those of us who hate lines can have fun with each other.

    As one of Brownian’s fake wives(TM) don’t you get a preferential position in the line in any case?

    Or, as I once said to a foursome getting…romantic…at a Gravity Kills concert, “Is this a private orgy, or can anyone join in?”

    Ah, the music concert – ’tis the modern bacchanalian, and Bacchus/Dionysus is so much more fun than this stuffy Yahweh fellow.

  60. 60
    w00dview

    This is true if you count death threats, after-death threats, public expressions of hate and intolerance, and general accusations of evil as respectful.

    Take Jessica Ahlquist, for example. She has received all of the above in no short supply not only by her peers, but by adults and even elected officials. Damon Fowler is another one.

    But, but, but….MEANIE GNU ATHEISTS MAKE FUN OF JESUS SOMETIMES AND THAT REALLY HURTS THEIR FEEWINGS!

  61. 61
    feralboy12

    I’ve been to more than my fair share of Christian conferences. I’ve never attended a single conference where those of other beliefs (atheists or otherwise) were the subject of ridicule.

    I’m pretty sure the crocoduck idea is intended to ridicule beliefs.
    Christians attempt humor, they just don’t succeed at it.

  62. 62
    Koshka

    I presume he thinks comedians simply stand up on stage and make “my wife is so fat…” jokes.

    I would think the people he listed make the majority of their living, not from being comics, but from their writing and presenting.

    And 10 out of 34? Hardly a majority. Most people I know like to tell jokes and consider themselves funny. Seems like comics are actually underrepresented.

  63. 63
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    That makes me want to watch the Muppet Show. Come to think of it, I’m picturing Steve Kryger as Sam the Eagle.

    Well, it’s pretty sure that Steve Kryger is a Muppet

    ‘But, you don’t understand,’ he screams. ‘Some call me Brownian. And that means you gotta go to the back of the line…’

    Brownian wins the Thread, Methinks!

    And as an after thought;

    I’m sure that Steve is just cranky because Atheist conferences are a lot more entertaining than Christian conferences

  64. 64
    nanahuatzin

    ( a shameless plug…)

    Here at Mexico City, we are preparing our atheist congress.

    http://ateomx.org.mx/

    And I just noticed that almost one fourth of the time would be dedicates to cartoonists.

    People like: Eduardo del Rio “Rius”, Antonio Helguera, José Hernández are responsible for “converting” a lot of people to Atheism.

    http://rius.com.mx/contenido.php?rid=1

    So humor is very powerful, and yes, there is a lot to mock about religion.

  65. 65
    Azuma Hazuki

    It’s been said before, but nothing, nothing compares to the complete existential disrespect engendered in the thought or expression “well you’re going to suffer for all eternity because you believe wrong.”

    If we were to act on similar beliefs, we’d be setting these people on fire with lighters, BBQ matches, blowtorches etc. That is equivalent disrespect. And perhaps somewhat less, because when they’re done screaming and crying and blistering and burning and shriveling and praying for the help that will never come, they’re dead. No more pain. Not so with what they wish on us.

    Rude? Kiss my ass.

  66. 66
    avh1

    Greg @37

    These people fetishise ‘respect’ and non-swearing and glorify violence. It leads to the sort of messed up ethics where it’s worse that a comedian called the current pope a fucker, than that Ratzinger enabled child abuse (effectively they are saying that violence, against children no less, is worse than swearing).

    Sastra @47
    How do you explain that it breaks down sometimes? I’ve heard plenty of American fundamentalists denigrating other religions and fairly publicly too.

  67. 67
    Gregory Greenwood

    avh1 @ 66;

    These people fetishise ‘respect’ and non-swearing and glorify violence. It leads to the sort of messed up ethics where it’s worse that a comedian called the current pope a fucker, than that Ratzinger enabled child abuse (effectively they are saying that violence, against children no less, is worse than swearing).

    Hmmm. I think Typos has struck again. I assume you mean that they are saying that swearing is worse than the rape of children. It is a common cognitive malfunction of theists that they think that the form of ‘politeness’ and ‘respect’ is more important than the substance of behaving like a halfway decent human being.

    I think Minchin said it better than I can;

    But if you find me more offensive than the fucking possibility
    The pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly
    Then listen to me motherfucker, this here is a fact
    You are just as morally misguided as that motherfucking
    Power-hungry, self-aggrandised bigot in the stupid fucking hat

    And now for a link to The Pope Song* and others by Tim Minchin, just in case anyone here has not been exposed to his awesomeness yet.

    —————————————————————-

    * Naturally, YouTube has flagged the song because the fundies got their knickers in a twst over it, so the link goes to Minchin’s own site.

  68. 68
    nemothederv

    I think Steve Kryger’s problem is that he still looks back fondly to the 1980′s. The days when you practically had to own a TV station or newspaper to be heard. Responses and opposing opinions to you’re world viewpoint could be silenced by putting the phone off the hook or sorting your mail next to the fireplace.

    Steve along with other apologeticists now finds themselves in an intellectual battle without ammunition….
    and it’s hilarious.

    Does he really wonder why we laugh? I think he’s just trying to play victim. Martyrdom is a common tool of his trade.

    It’s the new(20 years or so, new is relative) social media Steve. Just try and fucking stop us.

  69. 69
    Gordon

    I went to a christian conference late this January where the speaker took three swipes at atheists, cheered for the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages while hoping the same would happen to our society and finished by saying that there was something wrong with every person who does not love Jesus.

  70. 70
    mikemike

    “…in the Chinese Room of Mr Kryger’s mind…”

    That may seem like a clever turn of phrase at first…unless you’re Chinese.
    It’s bigoted. An apology and retraction would be appropriate.

  71. 71
    John Morales

    mikemike, psst: it refers to Searle’s Chinese room.

  72. 72
    Gregory Greenwood

    Gordon @ 69;

    I went to a christian conference late this January where the speaker took three swipes at atheists, cheered for the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages while hoping the same would happen to our society and finished by saying that there was something wrong with every person who does not love Jesus.

    The fact that they call their woo ‘the religion of love’ gives one a disturbing insight into the fundie mindset.

    Demonising anyone who doesn’t fixate on a most likley mythical, 2000 year old Middle Eastern carpenter as the supposed son-by-rape of an unevidenced magic man in the sky, and fantasising about the cataclysmic collpase of modern civilisation into blood soaked, theocratic barbarism?

    Yup, not really feeling the love there…

  73. 73
    JohnnieCanuck

    Thanks for that, John.

    I could only guess that it referred to the use of a ‘Chinese Wall’ technique for reverse engineering a competitor’s product.

    Wiki tells me that it is used in other areas, such as investment banking and that a California Superior Court Justice has taken offence to it as linguistic discrimination.

    Assuming it is a reference to the Great Wall of China, I’m at a loss to see it as insulting. It is, after all one of the new seven wonders of the world.

  74. 74
    nonsense

    Why bash us at their own conferences, where we aren’t watching, when they can come to ours and read bible verses to us, mangle science at us, and tell us we’ll burn in hell?

  75. 75
    Harry Organs

    I don’t blame him for failing to see the ridicule targeted at atheists. It’s easy to miss among all the threats and outright violence.

  76. 76
    truthspeaker

    Gordon says:
    1 March 2012 at 4:33 am

    I went to a christian conference late this January where the speaker took three swipes at atheists, cheered for the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages while hoping the same would happen to our society and finished by saying that there was something wrong with every person who does not love Jesus.

    Well at least he didn’t make any jokes.

  77. 77
    thomascox

    I invite this guy to come sit in the pews for a typical Southern Baptist sermon. You’ll hear ridicule of atheists, evolutionists, mormons, muslims, catholics, and any denomination that’s not Southern Baptist – occasionally all in the same sermon, but at least 1 in almost every one I’ve listened to.

  78. 78
    Worldtraveller

    raven@43:

    There have been 800 violent incidents directed against Moslems or Mosques since 9/11, including at least three murders. Even the nearest mosque to my house was an arson target.

    Do those three include the ‘misses’? (I.e. I know of a sihk who was killed in Phoenix just a couple of days after 9/11, that I’m fairly sure was a retaliatory killing.)

    Also, cite? I was looking for some statistics like this in another discussion I was having recently.

    Cheers.

  79. 79
    wvpip

    I’ve never seen spoon fed written as one word before. I read spoonfed as the past tense of spoonf and wondered “what the heck does spoonf mean?” Hehe.

    Sorry – that has nothing to do with the discussion, but I thought it might make some folks smile.

  80. 80
    jackjesberger

    The heart of this complaint is the idea that mockery is inherently bad. This is a mistake.

    Sam Harris made the best point about this in his debate with Wolpe, when he identified mockery has the actual civil rational way to apply social pressure on bad ideas.

    “OK, you can add any metaphysics you want by that means… Just take, for example, the people who think Elvis is still alive. What’s wrong with this claim? Why is this claim not viciating our academic departments and corporations? I’ll tell you why, and it’s very simple, and we have not passed laws against believing Elvis is still alive: the problem is that whenever somebody seriously represents his belief that Elvis is still alive in a conversation, on a first date, at a lecture, at a job interview, he immediately pays a price. He pays a price in ill-concealed laughter. That is a good thing! Then he can rattle on, “This is not a scientific claim. This is a matter of faith. And when I look at you, I think you might be Elvis.”

    We would do well to notice that the one thing all comedians have in common is a facile and piercing intellect, which should explain why so many of them (Dara O’Briain, Julia Sweeney, Ricky Gervais, George Carlin, etc, etc, etc) are outspoken atheists.

  81. 81
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    I could write a lot about why “Chinese Wall” could be objected to by Chinese-Americans, but the easiest reason would be: you’re not Chinese-American, shouldn’t it be reason enough that a Chinese-American judge finds it offensive?

    The concept of Chinese Wall used in various disciplines has nothing to do with China per se, it represents a Western-style exoticism of what China is, and thus contributes to the mystification of the Far East, would be my more academic answer.

    My sinologist in-joke would be: also, the Chinese Wall was never that effective against the Northern intruders, it was quite permeable.

    My linguistic objection would be: in Chinese, the Great Wall of China does not have any word for “China” in it, it’s usually referred to as “Long City Wall”, sometimes with “Tenthousand Miles” thrown in. This would not so much concern Chinese-Americans, most of whom of course are native speakers of English. But some Chinese people might wonder what’s so Chinese about those walls that keep popping up (in “Chinese Wall” (technical term) the characters used would mean something more than “screen, house wall”, whereas in the Great Wall of China it’s actually the character for “city”, which hear by metonymy means “city wall”)

  82. 82
    DanDare

    I think the “new atheist movement” is not about religion directly its about politics.

    Religious groups have great sway over government policy. They are also viewed as being important and moral.

    Poking fun at them is an old political tradition. You burst their self importance and draw away the power of the emperor’s new clothes. Its much more than just ridiculing the ridiculous.

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