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Mar 08 2012

Kylie doesn’t get it

American Atheists has sponsored another billboard, and this one is both ugly and controversial (Surprise!). Kylie doesn’t get it at all.

And with all that (because of that?), perhaps there’s something I’m missing. Because I honestly don’t freaking get this:

 

I don’t get how the hell this was every approved as a billboard by an atheist group. I just don’t. I personally find it rather shockingly confronting, distracting me from seeing it as being about atheism (was that its intent? This lesson?) and… maybe it’s meant to compliment (somehow?) the recent African Americans for Humanism campaign?

I get it. I even approve of the sentiment, but not the implementation.

The Pennsylvania legislature recently passed a meaningless declaration that this was the year of the bible. This is a confrontational, provocative billboard aimed in opposition to the bible: I consider it reasonable and appropriate for an atheist group to mock such a stupid law, and to point out that the bible is not a consistent or useful source of morality. I am all for confrontation.

However, there is good, informative confrontation and there is pointless lashing out. This billboard doesn’t do the job.

Once again, the lack of serious, qualified design experts really hurts. Graphic design is a discipline with skills and conventions and widely accepted principles: it actually takes a lot of training and talent to do it well. This ad…doesn’t. Not only is it ugly, but sarcasm is really, really hard to communicate well on a billboard. You’re best off avoiding it. Especially when it’s on a sign that is as esthetically unprofessional as that — that’s in Pennsylvania, a place rich in racism. There are rural farmers who’d post that sign approvingly.

And it’s not just Pennsylvania, this is America, where racism is endemic. If you’re going to put up something that addresses the racism of the bible and Christianity, especially when many of the targets of our institutional racism approve of the church, you’d damn well better tread carefully, and demand some taste and clarity. That sign has neither. I also have to wonder how many black American atheists were consulted in its design.

I’m going to disagree in part with Kylie: I think shockingly confrontational is a good thing, and I want more of it, and that’s the wrong thing to be upset over. But jeez, it has to be done well, and I don’t understand why American Atheists continues to use cheap-ass design work in what is clearly a major promotional effort for them.

186 comments

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  1. 1
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Yeah when I first saw that I thought very poor execution.

  2. 2
    reasonbeing

    I tend to agree with you. I like the message of the billboard when factoring in the sarcasm. But as atheists, we and the American Atheists, need to use some common sense. That billboard is going to read as nothing more than inflammatory to most people driving by. It will also serve to make American Atheists, look like insensitive a-holes, in the eyes of most motorists. Most people already do not like or respect us, that billboard will not “help the cause”.

    That said, I think that edgy and even “shock value” ad campaigns do have a spot, but as you point out, still need to be tasteful. I think that this billboard fails to achieve what it set out to do, and paints atheists in a negative light.

    I think that now is a great time in the public discourse to get a secular message into the conversation. With the Right being so over-the-top Christian, we have a nice opportunity to point out just how foolish their ideas are. Billboards like this one may serve to close people’s ears and minds to hearing what we have to say. I do not see that as a positive thing.

  3. 3
    ewanmacdonald

    What an awful, awful billboard. The people at American Atheists who are in charge of these are brilliant embodiments of Dunning-Kruger. Absolutely zero design or advertising sense between them.

  4. 4
    hexidecima

    Unfortunately, AA is about as clued in as PETA. They have no idea on how to be thoughtful about their message and they don’t seem to realize their potential audience isn’t that well-educated. I’m from Harrisburg, and the billboard has evidently been vandalized. And P.Z. you are so right about racism in PA. We still have the KKK around.

  5. 5
    nick260682

    I like the sentiment. I like the execution. I even like the design!

    Maybe, my being British, with our innate sarcasm and lack of understanding of US culture/society I just don’t get what all the fuss is about, but how on earth is this inflammatory? If people don’t like what’s in their own bible, then here’s a tip, STOP BELIEVING IN IT. And if they didn’t know that was in there, then they’ve learned something. Hopefully something that will aid them during their ascent out of the bronze age.

  6. 6
    Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare

    RE: hexidecima…I’m from Harrisburg, and the billboard has evidently been vandalized.

    Yes, I gather it has–however, the billboard company will replace it, although they’re discussing moving the location and perhaps changing the design (which, I agree, has problems). “No charges will be pressed against the vandals” according to NPR WITF last night on the issue.

  7. 7
    Ryan

    I think it’s quite clever, but I don’t think the marketing side of things was thought out at all. They’ve completely forgotten about their likely target audience here. If this was perhaps in another more forward thinking state it could work. As it is, it’s likely to go over many people heads. Which is a shame.

  8. 8
    humanape

    American Atheists should have predicted this billboard would be misunderstood.

    The next time a science denier says Darwin was a racist, I’m going to remind the idiot the god of the Bible loved slavery.

    Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

    Also, there’s this from the movie Mississippi Burning:

    Mrs. Pell: It’s ugly. This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it’s like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn’t something you’re born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what’s said in the Bible… Genesis 9, Verse 27. At 7 years of age, you get told it enough times, you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it… you breathe it. You marry it.

    Genesis 9.27: May God expand the territory of Japheth. May he live in the tents of Shem. Canaan will be his slave.

  9. 9
    littlejohn

    “Complement,” not “compliment.” Year of the Dictionary.

  10. 10
    d cwilson

    I’m going to repeat here what I wrote on Kylie’s blog:

    I also live in the Harrisburg area and work downtown. Ironically, I’ve been looking to get involved in the local skeptical/nonbelievers. I was even thinking of going to the PANonbelievers meeting tonight. Then I saw this billboard. I agree with you. If their goal was to just be provocative, then they succeeded. But if their goal was to get people thinking about the message and maybe questioning the Bible, then they failed miserably. The image is ugly, and not just because it depicts a man in bondage. No one who sees this billboard will walk away thinking, “Gee, maybe the Bible isn’t a good source of morality”. Instead, the message that people will take away here is that atheists are assholes.

    I won’t be going to that meeting tonight.

  11. 11
    Rutee Katreya

    I’m all for confrontational, but I’m really fucking uncomfortable just dragging out the support for slavery in a void. If someone specifically says “The bible is all about freedom”, sure, that’s a passage to bring up in opposition to that. But just bringing it up on its own? Feels appropriative as shit. Especially with Atheism’s shitty record on race; feels just… wrong.

  12. 12
    Dick the Damned

    It says “…Bronze Age ethics…”. Strictly speaking, this is Iron Age ethics, but i guess not a great deal of progress had been made on that front.

  13. 13
    Kylie Sturgess

    Hi PZ,

    I was about to go to sleep (a long day: not only was I waiting on the vet to call me about my injured cat, but I spent half the day waiting downtown for a court case where I was called upon as a witness to an assault from about six months ago. What a surprise, an atheist and her friend making an effort to speak out about a crime they saw, support the justice system and be good citizens of this country!) – but then I got an alert about this blog-post. Thanks C, I owe you one.

    Firstly, you may have noticed that I’m Australian. Yes, there’s one on the Freethought Blogs website, along with Canadians and folk from the UK (and, of course, a cuttlefish of no known origin apart from the sea). So, there’s bound to be some cultural elements that are going to be overlooked by humble little me in the Southern Hemisphere. Someone has already pointed out that the banner alludes to something I didn’t know; the Year of the Bible and House of Representatives in that region. That adds an additional element to the billboard, somehow?

    People have also commented on my blogpost how they consider that a failure too, several from the region and they explain why. I’ll leave it up to them to articulate further, rather than cut and past here.

    Your comment: “I think shockingly confrontational is a good thing, and I want more of it, and that’s the wrong thing to be upset over.”

    No, I think that I have every right to be upset about shockingly confrontational ( and here’s me having interviewed the shockingly confrontational Tim Minchin back when he was starting out in my town in 2008 and helping him get known by skeptics and atheists!! ) – if it completely and utterly misses making a point with that approach and is more harmful than helpful. The same way I think that using sexist, racist and classist terms to belittle homeopaths is not a good idea. I personally don’t think it’s a good approach with this banner, and I’m willing to be mistaken if it can be shown some feedback from people who saw the banner and are now supporting the American Atheists because of it. Any out there from that region? A non-Pharyngulated poll, perhaps?

    Your comment: “But jeez, it has to be done well, and I don’t understand why American Atheists continues to use cheap-ass design work in what is clearly a major promotional effort for them.”

    I do agree there – and they could, in my opinion, use some help from people in the field of marketing who have left their previous faith to be atheists and ask them what really hit them hard… and whether they could incorporate those elements into these banners? There’s lots of great people involved in advertising who could help, I’m sure. Some of them might even be (shockingly) Christians…

    But that’s just me. I’m not American. I’m certainly not an American Atheist. See you at the Global Atheist Convention, once again.

  14. 14
    esmith4102

    I like it! I’m sick and tired of people using the bible as their moral authority while conveniently leaving out the “naughty parts”. The apparent crudeness of the sign may by abhorrent to the accommodationist, but truth is often the bloody aftermath of an ideology gone wrong.

  15. 15
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Well Kylie,

    I understand you’re Australian and all, but when I blogged about the billboard on my blog (talking about atheism in Northern America for a German audience), I went to the website of the organisation putting the thing up.

    And guess what, they explain why they did it, with the Year of the Bible and all.

    This is what I call due diligence for bloggers, and if you even didn’t bother checking out the organisation’s website, then sorry, I don’t think you met that standard..

  16. 16
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    (That said I agree that the graphics design was in poor taste and they should have consulted a black atheist group first. Also, if that’s the same Mr Peirce as the guy from the Zombie Muhammad case behind the whole thing, it would explain a lot to me, which is why I left a question to that effect on Kylie’s blog)

  17. 17
    Akira MacKenzie

    @ reason ding and Kiylie Sturgess:

    Your concern (troll) is noted…

  18. 18
    PZ Myers

    d cwilson: GO TO THE MEETING! Atheist groups need diverse opinions, and if you surrender, those alternatives won’t be voiced.

  19. 19
    Akira MacKenzie

    Whoops sorry, foiled by iOS auto correct. My previous post was directed toward the simpering, gutless, coward called “reasonbeing.”

  20. 20
    scottplumer

    I rather like it. I could do without the picture or the commentary, but posting whacky Bible quotes is a great idea. Not to mention the fact that there are so many from which to choose.

  21. 21
    PZ Myers

    Kylie: we agree more than you think. As you say, confrontation that “completely and utterly misses making a point” is counterproductive, and I agree 100%. I think the billboard has good intentions (to confront) but then fails to make its point, and is therefore counterproductive, too.

    That’s why I say Silverman must go to graphics and communications professionals, tell them that his mission is to confront people over the hypocrisy of the bible, and listen to them. I think he can stand his ground and avoid diluting his provocative message, but he has got to do better about getting good presentation of that message.

  22. 22
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    To clarify:

    I fully support using shocking quotes from the bible to counteract such an idiotic thing such as the Year of the Bible.

    But the graphics design could have been better, and I really think if you are going to put those up in predominantly black neighbourhoods, you need to talk to black atheists first.

    I think there is some resentment if white atheists come into a black neighbourhood and tell black people that they’re stupid if they keep following religion. All the more if you use imagery like that.
    (I could be wrong with my assessment, but I think this is why this needs a black atheist perspective)

  23. 23
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Kylie, I think you’re reading PZ’s post as hostile to yours when it isn’t. The title is just drawn from your statements like “I honestly don’t freaking get this.” He’s calling attention to your post in voicing his own dissatisfaction with the billboard.

    The only point of disagreement he has with you seems to be your implication that being shockingly confronting per se is a problem, and not shocking confrontation that, as you say here, “completely and utterly misses making a point with that approach and is more harmful than helpful.”

  24. 24
    jesuslovesbags

    I also like the sentiment of pointing out the repugnant “morality” of the bible. But I think it goes wrong by including the picture of the slave. It takes away from the bible quote and the citation of it being FROM the bible. That should be the emphasis IMO.

  25. 25
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @Nancy New
    @d cwilson

    The most interesting thing I’m learning from this article is how many fellow Harrisburg residents are atheists but don’t particularly care for PAN.

    But yeah, the billboard is already destroyed. In fact, it only lasted about two days, if I understand correctly.

  26. 26
    Cuttlefish

    I thought it utterly predictable that the billboard would be misunderstood, and to the extent that it was predictable it is AA’s problem. I like a variety of approaches–confrontational, subtle, even versical, but to consistently have ham-handed confrontation come under a national banner rather irks me. PZ, for instance, never claims to represent us all, so his confrontations are his own. AA–well, it’s right there in the name. They don’t speak for me, but even one of the old Sb bloggers (Isis, I believe) stubbornly insisted that their symbol was supposed to represent any atheist in America (and she found this offensive, even though the misunderstanding was all hers).

    I (we all) get tarred with their brush, so I’d really rather they put a bit more effort into their thinking.

  27. 27
    CapeTownJunk

    The design has a 19th-century feel to it. The background colour’s not too far from sepia, giving it an archaic feel, and the main typeface wouldn’t be out of place on a 19th-century manuscript. Something sleek and modern would be counter-productive. The first thing that catches my eye when I look at the design is “old-fashioned”, and that immediately gets me thinking of an era when (Biblically-sanctioned) slavery was widespread.

    So it’s provocative, thought-provoking and effective – can’t go too far wrong with that!

  28. 28
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    After rereading Kylie’s post on her blog I’m confused about her comment #13 here. Did she or did she not know about the Year of the Bible?

    She seems to claim in #13 she didn’t, but now it’s in her blog post? Or did she edit it in the mean time.

    Sorry, just confused now.

  29. 29
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Also (since there’s no real way to make this connection unless you already know) the PA State Director for American Atheists is one Ernest Perce, a man well acquainted to controversy, as he was just in the news a couple of weeks ago over a ‘Zombie Mohammed’ costume he was assaulted while wearing.

  30. 30
    PZ Myers

    The problem here is that we’re all atheists, and sarcasm is practically the lingua franca of atheism, so some of us see the billboard as just fine because it speaks well to us. But the purpose of the sign is to speak well to others, and there it flops miserably.

  31. 31
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Stevarious,

    I mentioned him in #16, though with his name spelt wrong.

  32. 32
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Sikivu Hutchinson had a list the other day:

    What Not to Say to Radical Atheists/Humanists of Color

  33. 33
    Sastra

    I agree with those who are concerned that this billboard will be misunderstood. Remember, atheism is such a despised position that virtually everything atheists do will be interpreted as negatively as possible. We have to be careful to make sure that what is reasonably “possible” is narrow, in order to get our point across.

    What is obvious to us is not going to be immediately obvious to those who have not been participating in the debate. I suspect the average person will not look at this and think “oh my — the atheists are attacking the lovely, lovely Bible for supporting slavery.”

    Instead, the average person will look at this and think “oh my — atheists approve of slavery.”

    The whole context and intent is going to be lost. The general public is so used to the Bible being cited as authority they’re just going to slip right into their comfort zone and assume that the atheists are trying to get Christians to join them in the White Power Movement. The Bible quotation is just the tool being used. The graphic only reinforces this interpretation, since it reads “racist” on first glance. Message from a pro-slavery, racist organization.

    The opposite of what the billboard is supposed to make people think.

    That’s my main problem here. Not that this is too harsh an attack on the Year of the Bible, but that only a superficial, cursory, uninformed interpretation will be taken away by most people: atheists are racists. They’re like the Nazis. Or the KKK.

    American Atheist can do better. I don’t think they could have done much worse, frankly.

  34. 34
    Sastra

    PZ Myers #30 wrote:

    The problem here is that we’re all atheists, and sarcasm is practically the lingua franca of atheism, so some of us see the billboard as just fine because it speaks well to us. But the purpose of the sign is to speak well to others, and there it flops miserably.

    Exactly. Many people are tone-deaf to irony, and they’re starting out with the assumption that atheists are evil. They’re going to think this is the only part of the Bible the atheists want everyone to ‘celebrate.’

  35. 35
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Ernest Perce, a man well acquainted to controversy, as he was just in the news a couple of weeks ago over a ‘Zombie Mohammed’ costume he was assaulted while wearing.

    The charge was harassment, not assault. In some jurisdictions it might have been charged as assault, but Pennsylvania’s law involves injury, which Perce did not allege.

    (Has Perce finally admitted yet that Judge Martin is a lifelong Lutheran?)

  36. 36
    d cwilson

    @Stevarious:

    Maybe we should hold our own get-together.

    @PZ Myers:

    I’ll think about it. If I go, would anyone here like me to give a report of what I saw and heard?

  37. 37
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Sastra,

    Thank you. I was of course also looking at it from the perspective of an atheist, and the reaction to it that it could be some kind of white power thing didn’t even occur to me.

    That makes it even worse..

  38. 38
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @d cwilson

    Maybe we should. But yes, if you go I’d like to hear about it. I work in the evenings so it’s not really an option for me.

  39. 39
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    d cwilson,

    of course. Some of us have been bewildered by the behaviour of Mr. Perce around the blogosphere, so I’m sure many would like to hear about your impressions.

  40. 40
    reasonbeing

    @ 19 Akira MacKenzie—have you read my blog or my other comments? Troll? Really–I write an atheist blog, hardly a troll. Get your facts straight before shooting your mouth off. I am all for attention grabbing stuff. I am also not opposed to be being offensive when needed. I completely support using outrageous bible quotes when dealing with the religious. I even like the quote on the billboard, just not the way it is being used.

    You call me a coward because I think that the billboard in question is not the best marketing tool? I suppose then that you are also calling PZ and most of the other commenters here cowards as well then? To put that image and that quote together when racism is a real problem is not a great idea and the intended message (which I approve of) will not reach most people driving by. If you think that the billboard in question is going to make most motorists driving by stop and think, “hmm I think the atheists are onto something here” you are mistaken. They are only going to see a racist billboard.

  41. 41
    datasolution

    Because I honestly don’t freaking get this:

    Ah, what a ghastly dishonest statement.
    My skin crawls when I see people behave like that.

  42. 42
    robro

    Sarcasm and irony are used extensively in advertising, even in billboards, and even in America. So I don’t think it’s impossible to do and I really don’t think Americans are tone deaf to it, despite what the Bush administration tried to peddle about irony being dead.

    That said, any sort of humor, sarcasm, irony, and so forth are difficult to do in any medium (ask the comedians). This may be particularly true with something like a billboard, posters, etc because your audience is just passing by and not paying close attention typically. In this example the object of ridicule (The Year of the Bible) is buried in twenty words of relatively small text next to a striking image. If you’re just driving or walking by you see the image and the Bible quote…and your gone and perhaps wondering what that was all about.

    And then of course, there’s that field of santorum yellow to mush it all together. As a designer I find that color an amusing choice, but what were they thinking?

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

    Facepalme d’Or.

    Hexidecima beat me to the PeTA comparison. Indeed, this is as culturally sensitive as “Holocaust on Your Plate” or the campaign comparing eating meat to lynching.

    Nick260682:

    Maybe, my being British, with …lack of understanding of US culture/society

    Uh, yeah, I think that’s about right.

    Humanape, the billboard wasn’t “misunderstood.” It was misdirected. I don’t expect you to understand the difference, however. Or Akira, who loves to whine about how society misunderstands him but can’t seem to be arsed to muster any empathy for anyone unlike himself.

    I wish I found it hard to believe that so many atheists don’t understand what the problem is with this billboard, but, like Rutee says, atheism has a problem understanding the issues of anyone who isn’t a straight white cis guy.

  44. 44
    Rey Fox

    Instead, the average person will look at this and think “oh my — atheists approve of slavery.”

    It took 33 comments for someone to point this out?!

  45. 45
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    The overall message, that the bible does not repudiate slavery, I agree with totally, and is a worthy message to communicate. But this is a BUTT UGLY mother of a billboard. The sepia tone, then the white strip along the bottom that has nothing to do visually with the rest of the image…. and the picture of the slave looks too much like a 18-19 th century caricature of an African.

    They really have no fucking idea about this, and after all the negative feedback they have gotten from their previous attempts. How difficult is it for them to hire a fucking graphic designer that knows what they’re doing? Hell, we have one in our atheist Meetup group, I can forward them her email address.

  46. 46
    slatham

    Two relatively unimportant comments: (i) even expensive, professionally-done billboards/posters/adverts can be crappy and counterproductive; (ii) endemic ain’t the right word.

  47. 47
    Rutee Katreya

    I’m kind of annoyed at the fact that it’s not even questioned that a bunch of white people can just go ahead and snatch up the struggles of black people to smack around their ideological opponents. Are we really so hard up for shitty biblical verses that we need to appropriate the struggles of others? Really? Because you know, it’s an ocean of shit. Can’t we use, for instance, the exhortations to stone unruly children?

  48. 48
    darwinslunchbox

    Hey, new here. I understand that the design is ugly and amateurish, but I’m having a hard time seeing how the execution is so poor and the provocation is “needless lashing out”. Maybe it’s just because I “get it” since I’m part of the choir, but could someone explain to the dum-dum why this billboard is hurting more than it helps?

  49. 49
    carlie

    Easier, cleaner way to make the same point:

    Line 1, big font: Is the Bible moral?

    Line 2, med. font: whatever verse that is clearly immoral

    Line 3: athest group info

    No pictures, just black and white like those God billboards.

  50. 50
    carlie

    darwinslunchbox – see rutee’s comment right above yours that posted at the same time. Given that the atheist movement is still mostly white people, it’s pretty tone-deaf to start off with this one.

  51. 51
    ashleybone

    ruteekatreya,

    I found that troubling as well.

  52. 52
    darwinslunchbox

    I understand the sentiment, but it seems like the whole point was to be racially provocative. The starkness of the quote along with the antiquated racially insensitive image is supposed to stir up disgust. It was meant to draw attention to the fact that the bible condones suffering and bondage. According to the AA website, the billboard was unanimously supported by the African American members on the committee.

  53. 53
    datasolution

    Hey, new here. I understand that the design is ugly and amateurish, but I’m having a hard time seeing how the execution is so poor and the provocation is “needless lashing out”. Maybe it’s just because I “get it” since I’m part of the choir, but could someone explain to the dum-dum why this billboard is hurting more than it helps?

    It doesn’t, this is a standard case of contrarian mindlessness. And the design talk is ridiculous too.

  54. 54
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Datasolution

    The English language desperately wants you to stop butchering it.

  55. 55
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Hexadecima, Ruteekatreya and Ms. Daisy Cutter already said it, but why not add my disgust: It is absolutely revolting how readily some clueless asses appropriate racism at any fucking chance they get. Congrats, American Atheists, you’re as tone-deaf as PETA, and you clearly saved a bundle by not getting a graphic designer. Again.

  56. 56
    jeffwrench

    Good design should usually be transparent to the casual viewer. This may be one reason why most people don’t think about it or realize that it’s not trivial.

    Bad design attracts attention to itself instead of to its message.

    Very bad design makes the viewer actively work to even decode the message.

    For example, I had to stare at the second URL for a few moments to understand what it was. The first URL used the common design convention of different colors for different words (even though it should have also capitalized “Atheists” to match all the other words in the URLs). So following this convention, the second URL was for Pan Onbelievers?! The “N” should have been blue.
    So this means the second URL is for Pan Onbelievers? I had to stare at it for a few seconds to realize it should have been PA Nonbelievers.

    @33 – To your point, I think a better image would have been a nice big fat bible. And make “The Year of the Bible” text much larger. Currently this connection (the whole point of the sign) is easy to miss.

  57. 57
    Rutee Katreya

    According to the AA website, the billboard was unanimously supported by the African American members on the committee.

    I’m reminded of Lauren Faust saying she had a native american consultant for her rather infamous My Little Pony episode with the buffalo, and am even more distrustful.

    I understand the sentiment, but it seems like the whole point was to be racially provocative.

    I thank you for disproving the first clause with the second. I am saying that you don’t really have a right to be ‘racially provocative’ with other people’s racial issues, least of all when you perpetuate them. Let the black atheists do it, if it needs to be done.

    Seriously, is there a problem with using the “Stone your unruly children” line? If you want new testament, I’m sure we could work with Jesus’ general asshattery, or Paul’s, or Peter’s.

  58. 58
    Rutee Katreya

    Ah, my bad, I missed other folks having a problem with this too.

  59. 59
    Russell

    Since smokers are denied seats even at the back of the bus, this splendid affront to PC could be recycled by hell bent for prohibition anti-tobacco activists

    Is it too early in Mitt’s electoral cycle for Zero Caffeine Tolerance billboards ?

  60. 60
    Kaylakaze

    I find it telling that someone tore the billboard down, with the exception of the top part.

  61. 61
    greame

    I also don’t think they took into account that many Christians haven’t actually read their bible. They’ll see “Colossions” and think, “That must be from that evil Charles Darwin book tellin’ us we are monkeys!”

    Would have been better to take a verse from Leviticus or some other, at least relatively known, book.

  62. 62
    Moggie

    Yeah, not really comfortable with this appropriation issue. But as long as they’re going with this angle, would the following be better? Lose the horrible image and the quote, and just go with:

    We don’t support slavery.
    You don’t support slavery.
    The bible does.
    Colossians 3:22

    Reuse this template for a series of ads covering other biblical “ethics”, such as God’s demand for genocide.

  63. 63
    Pteryxx

    Might be relevant to the discussion of sarcasm and bluntness as cultural. Via BB, a restaurant review that looks glowing, to outsiders:

    But the best part about this review comes from some background information dug up by intrepid Duluth News reporter Brandon Stahl. In the course of verifying that this was, in fact, a real review, he uncovered something wonderfully upper-Midwestern. First, read the full review. Done that? Great. Now, get this—that was not a positive review of The Olive Garden.

    Stahl talked to a former Grand Forks Herald editor who says, “By the way, [Marilyn Hagerty's] regular readers will recognize that as a fairly negative review since she spent a lot more time on the ambience than the food.”

    Cultural context: It’s the difference between a glowing review, and a passive-aggressively negative one.

    http://boingboing.net/2012/03/08/the-grand-forks-herald-reviews.html

  64. 64
    datasolution

    Lose the horrible image and the quote

    Are you stupid? The image is suppose to be horrible.

  65. 65
    Therrin

    I had to stare at it for a few seconds to realize it should have been PA Nonbelievers.

    Holy shit, I didn’t see that until you said it. I thought it was supposed to be a site that was panning on believers.

  66. 66
    Aquaria

    I guess I got the point they were trying to make.

    But then I live in Texas, where christers and assorted racists put up even uglier signs with cruder, ruder, more vulgar, shocking and appalling messages, and nobody says anything about those. In fact, the vast majority of our moronic population just nod their heads, and say “Praise Jaysus! and pass the ammunition!”

    After that, and other racist bullshit I’ve witnessed in my life, this sign is unfortunate, but not shocking at all to me. The part they forgot to do was to lead off with a snide remark about the year of the bible being chosen for its morality, an “oh really?” and then the quote.

    Despite the bad design, I got what they were trying to say, right off. Maybe it doesn’t say that much about me, but I got it, and even what kind of shock they were going after.

  67. 67
    beemee

    I think American Atheists is assuming most people are more intelligent than they actually are and that people know that slavery is wrong. It never even occurred to me that anyone would actually take it literally. (I am Canadian though.) As for the artwork it looks old fashioned to go with the old fashioned belief that slavery was acceptable. Let’s not forget that black people were not the only slaves throughout history.

  68. 68
    Dabu

    An effective billboard has to work at the speed of thought. See it, grok it, kapow.

    Motorists who glimpse that on the freeway are typically going to do a double-take. “Do atheists support slavery? What the fuck?“. The billboard might be confrontational, but it begs on its knees for misunderstanding. Kinda ironic, really.

  69. 69
    darwinslunchbox

    I thank you for disproving the first clause with the second. I am saying that you don’t really have a right to be ‘racially provocative’ with other people’s racial issues, least of all when you perpetuate them. Let the black atheists do it, if it needs to be done.

    I also understand why you think I don’t understand. What I mean what I say when I understand your sentiment is that I understand your argument as you’ve stated it, e.g. you think it is wrong to appropriate slavery to propagandize an issue. What I don’t understand is precisely why you think it is wrong, other than a sort of knee-jerk racialism. The point of the billboard is to highlight the fact that the bible supports the terrible institution of slavery — the fact that slavery is terrible and wrong is the context by which the message is conveyed. Is your point that the poor execution bungles the context and actually ends up supporting slavery? Are you instead saying that the bungled delivery ends up reinforcing stereotypes? How so? What do you mean by “perpetuates it” here?

    I am hesitant to ask, since you seem to be gearing up your indignation, that is it really “other people’s racial issues” that the billboard is playing on? If it was by white people and largely for white people, as you seem to be implying, it seems the thrust of the message is white guilt, a uniquely white racial issue associated with the history of slavery: “You feel bad about the involvement of your ancestors in this deplorable practice. You feel bad because you know its wrong. Well, the bible says its right. Dissonance?”

  70. 70
    carlie

    An effective billboard has to work at the speed of thought. See it, grok it, kapow.

    Exactly. It’s a lot different than a print ad.

  71. 71
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Since smokers are denied seats even at the back of the bus, this splendid affront to PC could be recycled by hell bent for prohibition anti-tobacco activists

    You mean, a splendid affront to basic fucking human decency and empathy for people unlike oneself?

  72. 72
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    American Atheists should have predicted this billboard would be misunderstood.

    But they went ahead with it anyway. This is known as poor decision making and bad marketing. Fail.

    If you suspect that most people are not going to get the intended message, you just waste money and hurt your message when you proceed anyway.

  73. 73
    Rutee Katreya

    What I don’t understand is precisely why you think it is wrong, other than a sort of knee-jerk racialism.

    Are you illiterate?

    least of all when you perpetuate them.

    Slightly less collapsed, atheism as a movement has been fucking stupid at race, and is dominated by white people who continue a lot of racist ideas and institutions, both intentionally and unintentionally. Yet suddenly, atheists care about race when they can hammer Christians for their collective racefail? Yeah, no. Yes, Christianity perpetuates racist bullshit, and when they’re doing it, you should speak. But your random, off the cuff attack on religion had better not fucking be “OH LOOK GUYS RELIGION IS RACIST”; it means you’re just using race as a cudgel when it suits you, and ignoring or exacerbating racial issues the 99% of the time you’re not using them as a weapon.

    Is your point that the poor execution bungles the context and actually ends up supporting slavery?

    I am saying that in the USA slavery was inextricably tied with race, and quoting it is specifically done to bring up what was ultimately Christianity’s problems with race here. And atheism really is not in a position to lob stones on matters of race. See above.

    If it was by white people and largely for white people, as you seem to be implying, it seems the thrust of the message is white guilt, a uniquely white racial issue associated with the history of slavery:

    Do you think before you type, or do you just do some sort of free association? I ask because this is fucking stupid thing to say; The billboard is saying “The bible is racist.” and is relying on the uncontroversial concept that one should not be racist (which the ad manages to /be/, but.)

  74. 74
    georgealabaster

    I like the billboard and the design. It evokes a time when the Bible was used to justify slavery, and that’s an important point. I have a degree in Graphic Design, I can tell you that there are precious few “principles” involved except don’t put stuff in the exact center. If it works emotionally, then it works. Especially for black people who think the Bible liberated them from slavery, which they should know is only part of the story.

  75. 75
    treefrog

    I disagree that sarcasm may be lost on some readers. I’m not saying it’s the best way to achieve the goal, but nobody is going to see that billboard and presume it’s an endorsement of slavery.

    And I think it’s important to recognize the goal. There are messages meant to improve public opinion of atheists, and there are messages intended to get people to reconsider their blind faith. Unfortunately, I’m guessing the latter goal tends to sabotage the former…but I approve of them both.

    I agree with ruteekatreya #57 that perhaps a less racially-charged quote could have been chosen. I have to wonder if AA does any opinion-polling ahead of time. And yes, soliciting consultation from relevant minority communities is, if nothing else, a smart marketing move. Sheesh. (Then again, so is hiring a graphic designer…)

  76. 76
    darwinslunchbox

    Are you illiterate?

    I should ask the same of you. Racialism is a word that means “emphasizing or pertaining to racial considerations”. Racialism is not the same thing as racism. When you throw out things like “White people shouldn’t make use of black people’s problems” you are making a comment about racial considerations, albeit a particularly facile one. Are you only such a dick over the internet, or are you just an angry person in general?

    Do you think before you type, or do you just do some sort of free association? I ask because this is fucking stupid thing to say; The billboard is saying “The bible is racist.” and is relying on the uncontroversial concept that one should not be racist (which the ad manages to /be/, but.)

    The irony here makes my head hurt. I’m not arguing that the message wasn’t poorly conveyed, or that it isn’t simple-minded. But the message is what it is, and the rhetorical force doesn’t come from slavery itself as much as it does from white people’s feelings about slavery.

    I don’t disagree on the problem of race in the atheist community, or the problem of race in nearly any community. And your point about using race as a cudgel is exactly the kind of explanation I was looking for, and helps me better understand one way the billboard is misguided. The billboard is reflective of the fact that AA is using race flippantly to suit their needs. Are you arguing that AA should not highlight that slavery/racism is condoned by the bible without first addressing the problem of race in their own ranks? Is getting “racially cool” a necessary condition for talking honestly and substantively about religion and racism?

    I’m trying to engage you, but you’re making it difficult when you just shit on things without giving them any thought. Keep in mind that just because I ask a question doesn’t mean I’m implying you are wrong or that I disagree with you. I’m just trying to understand your point of view.

  77. 77
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Are you only such a dick over the internet, or are you just an angry person in general?

    Are you only such a tone troll over the internet, or are you just a clueless person in general?

    I’m trying to engage you, but you’re making it difficult when you just shit on things without giving them any thought.

    I don’t think Rutee is the one who hasn’t given this subject any thought. Why don’t you go read this, specifically #3 and #4, and get back to us.

  78. 78
    Rutee Katreya

    I should ask the same of you. Racialism is a word that means “emphasizing or pertaining to racial considerations”

    So you mean to answer that with a yes, then? I objected to the ‘knee-jerk’ part. I explained the problem. Twice, once in more detail than should be needed. You are only paying attention to black people’s problems to use them against Christians. It’s unethical to only give a shit about people when they are useful for you, especially when you are actively or passively making their lives a little bit worse on these issues. Fucking stop it.

    Are you only such a dick over the internet, or are you just an angry person in general?

    I am angry whenever people manage to be racist. People get pretty damn racist though. Also:
    http://derailingfordummies.com/#notlistening

    Because you know, anger is awesome and I enjoy it.

    Are you arguing that AA should not highlight that slavery/racism is condoned by the bible without first addressing the problem of race in their own ranks?

    Because you are not doing so from a perspective of reforming Christianity? Yeah, don’t bring it up; if Christians are being racist, mention it then, and if they deny there is racist shit in the bible, sure, correct them. But honestly, I’d say cool it otherwise; you’re not supposed to use the fact that Christians are racist to score points for atheists, which is all this is when you’re the one bringing it up in the first place.

    Slightly more words here, I have no reason to believe you are acting in good faith in fixing racism when your own house is as messed up as it is, but you act like theists have the monopoly on racism.

    I’m trying to engage you, but you’re making it difficult when you just shit on things without giving them any thought.

    Right, I didn’t give it any thought. This is my first dealing with racism and atheism. You caught me.

    Because you know, being angry and cursing means I haven’t paid any thought to the subje- YOU ARE ON PHARYNGULA YOU HALFWIT. You already conceded that I had arguments you hadn’t considered and I’m the one who hadn’t thought of shit before speaking?

  79. 79
    darwinslunchbox

    Neither clueless nor a ‘tone troll’. I just don’t understand why people have to be so derogatory when it doesn’t accomplish anything. Being derogatory and incivil has its place, when it serves a greater good than lashing out needlessly against the individual you are conversing with. And I’m not saying Rutee hasn’t given the issue a lot of thought. I’m saying why immediately assume the other person has no idea what they are talking about or nothing to learn or that their questions aren’t honest ones.

    I see a lot of people on this site taking the point over tone to mean that its perfectly acceptable to be an asshole to anyone at anytime over anything and think calling them things like illiterate and clueless is actually a legitimate defense.

    How about just talking and being reasonable?

  80. 80
    Ingdigo Jump

    I just don’t understand why people have to be so derogatory when it doesn’t accomplish anything.

    Do you know what “begging the question” means?

  81. 81
    Ingdigo Jump

    I see a lot of people on this site taking the point over tone to mean that its perfectly acceptable to be an asshole to anyone at anytime over anything and think calling them things like illiterate and clueless is actually a legitimate defense.

    Names please.

  82. 82
    rai

    I agree with you. I wrote a blog about it and had a discussion with one of the admins from the American Atheists Inc page on facebook and I was disappointed that it seems they don’t care how haphazardly they approached this campaign. Its ok to be provocative sometimes but one should do so with purpose. Anyway if anyone is interested you can check out my blog here: http://rhoadestoreality.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/billboard-brouhaha/

  83. 83
    hexidecima

    @Nancy New
    ” “No charges will be pressed against the vandals” according to NPR WITF last night on the issue.”

    I was looking around and wasn’t sure who decided not to press charges. The billboard company? The AA? I’m sure if it was a church billboard, they’d have pressed charges in a heartbeat, and blamed atheists or some such nonsense. If that’s the board I think it is, it’s not easy to get to and I’m sure if any of the idiots who climbed it got hurt I’m sure they’d try to sue the billboard’s owner. I’d nail them at least with criminial tresspass. But unfortunately, it’s too easy to assume that some one was giving the poor “persecuted” Christians a pass.

  84. 84
    cbailey

    “I think shockingly confrontational is a good thing, ”

    I strongly disagree. That approach inspires instant defensiveness. Shocking or deriding or being confrontational with believers is exactly the wrong approach. Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris, this billboard….have convinced a number of believers, and I can tell you that number exactly; Zero.

    You dont win friends by poking them in the eye.

  85. 85
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    I strongly disagree. That approach inspires instant defensiveness. Shocking or deriding or being confrontational with believers is exactly the wrong approach. Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris, this billboard….have convinced a number of believers, and I can tell you that number exactly; Zero.

    You dont win friends by poking them in the eye.

    Where’d you get that number? Straight from your ass, I’d wager. Well’ it’s bullshit. Getting poked in the eye got me to get off the fence. And I’m not alone.

    Now, pulling arguments out of your ass may be a convincing approach where you normally hang out, but it’s generally frowned (and shat) upon here.

  86. 86
    echidna

    My sense of visual aesthetics is more or less worthless, so I won’t comment on the design. What I am well-schooled in, though, was this idea: if someone as much as glances at your work, they should be unable to come away with a false impression. Billboards come under this rule, as they are meant to be glanced at, not studied.

    This billboard fails at being totally unambiguous. That said, I like the idea behind it. The problem is, as is often the case, in the implementation.

  87. 87
    Sastra

    cbailey #84 wrote:

    I strongly disagree. That approach inspires instant defensiveness. Shocking or deriding or being confrontational with believers is exactly the wrong approach. Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris, this billboard….have convinced a number of believers, and I can tell you that number exactly; Zero.

    You’re making too sweeping a claim, and are far too sure of your conclusion. Come now — there is no possible way you can know, or tell us, such a figure. In fact, there are more than a few testimonials from people who say they were persuaded to abandon religion through the tactics and arguments of Maher, Hitches, Harris, etc — so on the face of it this makes your position very dicey.

    Never say never. There is far too much variation in the population, especially when it comes to how and where and why and what people think about ‘religion’ — to make broad conclusions on what will get people to start thinking outside their comfort zone. You would be far wiser then to suggest that confrontational approach is not the best tactic out of many, as useful as it may be in some cases.

    There’s also a lot of variation (and disagreement) on what makes an approach confrontational, or even “shockingly confrontational” — so again you’re on weak ground. I think we can all agree with you on one thing: do not literally poke people in the eye. But there will be less agreement on whether or not our main purpose is to “make friends.” And disagreement on what that means.

    One of the strongest arguments for the confrontational approach is that it helps remove the sense of privilege which protects religion from all public criticism, allowing less confrontational critiques to be heard.

  88. 88
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    I like the billboard precisely because it is so offensive. It is a lot more assaulting to the senses and sensibilities than a “nice” Pottery Barn-style message. A nice message would not have been noticed or torn down, or cared about. Hey Christians, THIS is what you tacitly accept, and now I’m going to watch you tear it down like dirty skibbies found wafting over your front porch steps. Yes, racism is an open wound, and putting a bandaid over that Bible verse and pretending it isn’t infectious is not helping anyone. Next up, “Happy shall he be who taketh and dasheth they little ones against the stones” (Not very pro-life, that one).

    I don’t know what the history of racism is among atheists, referred to above (hopefully not a Godwin), but there is no logical connection between a disbelief in magnificent meddling magicians and any assessment of superiority or inferiority of particular remnant pseudo-populations of a single species of animal. If people make those conclusions or act that way, it isn’t because they are atheists.

  89. 89
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    You dont win friends by poking them in the eye.

    You do not change the status quo by not confronting the problems.

  90. 90
    Sastra

    I just had an idea for a similar public relations disaster for American Atheists: a billboard containing a large photograph of members of the Klu Klu Klan, with a headline stating “Good” Christians — Paid for by American Atheists. Once again, you’d have some atheists thinking that yeah, that’s showing them their nasty history, and you’d have the rest of us thinking that this WILL be misread as support for the KKK.

    And the first group will look puzzled and ask “no, how could anyone see it that way? You must just think it’s wrong to bring up the KKK-Christianity connection, is all.”

  91. 91
    'Tis Himself

    My objection to the billboard is that it’s poorly designed. AA should hire a professional graphic designer to design their billboards.

  92. 92
    Ichthyic

    But if their goal was to get people thinking about the message and maybe questioning the Bible, then they failed miserably.

    @cwilson:

    Now THIS is the attitude I do not get.

    the message on the billboard was very clear, right off the bat:

    “if you take the bible as an authority on morality, then slavery is okeedokee”

    and the imagery, ugly as it is, is exactly appropriate for that message.

    NOBODY I have seen on the side whinging about this billboard has actually given any rational support for their objection to it.

    Instead, what I see is a large group of people screaming “ICKY! BAD!” and looking for the nearest fainting couch.

    I’m very disappointed.

  93. 93
    Ichthyic

    You do not change the status quo by not confronting the problems.

    *ding*

    WAYYY too many people here and at Kylie’s thread who apparently fail to realize they really are in the accomodationist camp.

  94. 94
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    NOBODY I have seen on the side whinging about this billboard has actually given any rational support for their objection to it.

    Instead, what I see is a large group of people screaming “ICKY! BAD!” and looking for the nearest fainting couch.

    I’m very disappointed.

    WAYYY too many people here and at Kylie’s thread who apparently fail to realize they really are in the accomodationist camp.

    I disagree. People have cogently listed the reasons that this billboard is objectionable. Look at the OP,

    Not only is it ugly, but sarcasm is really, really hard to communicate well on a billboard. You’re best off avoiding it. Especially when it’s on a sign that is as esthetically unprofessional as that — that’s in Pennsylvania, a place rich in racism. There are rural farmers who’d post that sign approvingly.

    If you’re going to put up something that addresses the racism of the bible and Christianity, especially when many of the targets of our institutional racism approve of the church, you’d damn well better tread carefully, and demand some taste and clarity.

    Or try reading the comment thread,
    PZ,

    As you say, confrontation that “completely and utterly misses making a point” is counterproductive, and I agree 100%. I think the billboard has good intentions (to confront) but then fails to make its point, and is therefore counterproductive, too.

    Sastra,

    What is obvious to us is not going to be immediately obvious to those who have not been participating in the debate. I suspect the average person will not look at this and think “oh my — the atheists are attacking the lovely, lovely Bible for supporting slavery.”

    Instead, the average person will look at this and think “oh my — atheists approve of slavery.”

    The whole context and intent is going to be lost…

    ruteekatreya,

    I’m kind of annoyed at the fact that it’s not even questioned that a bunch of white people can just go ahead and snatch up the struggles of black people to smack around their ideological opponents.

    Plenty of “rational support”. The billboard was crappy at communicating the point it was making. This is because of poor design and its trying to communicate sarcasm via said unclear, shitty design. Also, a big fucking also, the appropriation of black peoples’ struggles problem.

    I don’t know why I took the time to go re-skim the thread to pull out instances where the rational support behind the opposition to this billboard was nice and concisely stated. Next time, read the thread (and OP) more carefully before asserting that no rational support is provided for the position being argued for.

    One is not “in the accomodationist camp” for opposing this unclear, ugly billboard that will not likely communicate the message it is attempting to.

  95. 95
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Yeah, right, PZ is “really” an accomodationist.

    This is not hard to understand. Atheist organizations reaching out to black communities should unambiguously communicate that “we are on your side.”

    This billboard does not do that. Instead, we get an African American atheist explaining, “I had to think for a while before I concluded that this predominantly White atheist organization at least meant well.”

    And that’s from an atheist, someone who’s already accustomed to atheist critiques of the Bible.

  96. 96
    koliedrus

    I don’t get it either.

    The Bible promotes slavery.
    It’s the Year of the Bible.

    People deface a billboard that reflects biblical teaching.

    AH! I get it now! It’s being done with mirrors!

    The self-reflection kind.

  97. 97
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    The thing that jumped out to me was that this horrible image and message was going to be linked in peoples’ minds with an ATHEIST.ORG

    All that babbly stuff about bronze age ethics is just too subtle for a billboard and the picture was just awful.

    I would not be surprised to find out it was vandalized because someone was protesting what they saw as racism. And I fear that the message of racism may be indelibly connected to Atheists in the minds of people who look at that billboard without giving it a lot of thought. And let’s face it, who gives billboards a lot of thought? The message has to be quick and clear.

    Those billboards really need not to go back up – they need a new and much better design.

  98. 98
    cbailey

    #85 – “Getting poked in the eye got me to get off the fence.” Yep, on the fence. I am not talking about people on the fence. Vigorous debate can be had with people on the fence, a fence I have never been on. I live in the heart of the bible belt and have been having these conversations with hard-core believers for forty years. The number I have met who have been swayed by confrontation is Zero.

    #87 – “One of the strongest arguments for the confrontational approach is that it helps remove the sense of privilege which protects religion from all public criticism, allowing less confrontational critiques to be heard.” No, it doesnt. It pisses people off and alienates them from your cause.

    I propose that the primary reason for being confrontational and shocking is for your own emotional satisfaction. Self indulgence. Every time you show your ass you make it harder for atheism to make headway.

  99. 99
    Rutee Katreya

    I don’t know what the history of racism is among atheists, referred to above (hopefully not a Godwin),

    Lackwit. I don’t even have to go back a decade. I only have to go to Pat Condell, Christopher Hitchens, or Samuel Harris, the formermost being ridiculously motherfucking racist (The latter two being pretty fucking darn). There’s almost no non-white people in Atheism, and atheists demonstrate the same general fucking cluelessness as the rest of the motherfucking racist population on matters of race. You’re living in a racist culture, same as the rest of us, so I don’t exactly expect greatness, but I do expect (and can trivially find) that it is, as usual, a majority white movement that is most concerned with white people, and primarily concerned with white people. As usual, non-white people are disproportionately in the margins.

    , but there is no logical connection between a disbelief in magnificent meddling magicians and any assessment of superiority or inferiority of particular remnant pseudo-populations of a single species of animal.

    No, but you’re fucking human and in your fucking racist culture. Unless you’d like to contend that atheism frees you from your cultural blinders (Which is fucking laughable), the atheist movement has problems with race, gender, sexuality, etc, same as everyone else.

    I mean, I could just as easily say “There is no logical connection between belief in the one true god and any assessment of superiority or inferiority of particular remnant pseudo-populations of a single species of animal”, but here in the real world, religion has been cover for tons of racist jackassery, such as the biblical support for slavery in the US. And here in the real world, prominent atheists get to do some racist-ass shit and get clapped on the back for it by the atheist community at varying degrees at large (See: Pretty much every TEH MUSLIN scare), just as they do for sexist bullshit (See: Hitchens’ article on how ‘women aren’t funny’, or Dawkins’ ‘Dear Muslima’ letter), cis-sexist bullshit (Every asshat I’ve seen around here who thinks ‘Tranny Annie” is a fun way to refer to Ann Coulter), and more.

    Yeah, there’s no good evidence for God. Yeah, Christianity sucks at a lot of things, including what I just mentioned. No, atheism isn’t some sort of perfect movement that lacks every flaw Christianity could ever have.

    FYI, cbailey, I identify as atheist in no small part because of the bold way that folks like Myers and Dawkins stated their case and shook me out of my apologism for religion (I was in a sort of wishy-washy place prior). So there is at least one person who was brought to atheism by being a firebrand.

  100. 100
    Rutee Katreya

    *that is primarily run by white people.

  101. 101
    consciousness razor

    If I wanted to say that “The Year of the Bible” is unconstitutional and morally repugnant, idiotic, hateful bullshit; I almost certainly wouldn’t do it with any kind of billboard. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m not thinking fourth-dimensionally or whatever … but come to think of it, that suggests that a TV commercial or some other medium would be a more effective (though more expensive) option. Maybe it takes a little time, or more than a dozen words or a picture or two, to get the message across to the right people. Maybe people are just too cheap, or it isn’t worth the cost, to pay for whatever medium would be most effective. I don’t know.

    Anyway, I may be wrong, but I suspect that any reasonably competent marketing professional would say something similar. Keep it simple, because complex shit just doesn’t fit on a billboard. They’re generally not the most effective means of communicating complex ideas, sometimes not just ineffective but counterproductive.

    If you want to say “Atheists, contact us like this: [insert contact information]” that’s certainly not hard to do. But there comes a point at which you’d need an actual fucking wizard, not just a decent designer, to make some things happen on a billboard. So in this case, perhaps it just isn’t useful to want a better billboard, because it makes more sense to want an entirely different form of mass communication.

    Even a TV commercial has its limitations, and I didn’t mean to suggest above that those are the only alternative or even the best one. Maybe an ad in a newspaper (or several) would be a better route. Maybe someone should try to get an interview on the local news, or on Letterman, or produce a movie, a cartoon, a musical, a novel, a fourteen-volume work of epic poetry, sets of commemorative plates, or whatever insane idea someone might come up with that people think is worth a try. The point is that someone at some point should’ve considered the possibility that a billboard probably wouldn’t work for this, at which time they may consider entertaining other possibilities.

  102. 102
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    The number I have met who have been swayed by confrontation is Zero.

    Well, I don’t know about everybody else here, but I always base my decisions on what somebody on the Internet I’ve never heard of before says about the people he’s met. You’ve convinced me. Oh, and if you think you’re the only person here living in the Bible Belt, well you’d be wrong.

    It pisses people off and alienates them from your cause.

    You know what else pisses people off and alienates them? Coming into a science-themed blog and using anecdotes to try to convince everybody there that they’re wrong and you’re right and they should behave like you because what they’re doing never works, even though it does.

  103. 103
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    cbaily,

    I propose that the primary reason for being confrontational and shocking is for your own emotional satisfaction. Self indulgence. Every time you show your ass you make it harder for atheism to make headway.

    It was awfully confrontational of you to accuse sincere atheists of essentially just being trolls, in it for the kicks we get out of shocking people. And you either accused us of being asses (if that was a typo) or showing our asses (if it wasn’t. I’m guessing it was).

    I thought that you said being confrontational was counterproductive?

    Your rudeness is making it terribly hard for your point to make any headway. (/snark)

    I propose that you don’t know what you are talking about. You can be nice and quiet if you want to. I’ll continue speak my mind and confront (the horror!) shitty ideas if they come up in conversation.

  104. 104
    'Tis Himself

    cbailey,

    If you don’t want to be confrontational then don’t confront other people. Nobody here will lift a finger to stop you from sucking up to goddists as much as you want. We just ask one thing, don’t whine because other atheists aren’t accommodationists.

  105. 105
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Unless of course you can supply some good evidence that I am actually hurting atheism by being honest and bringing up the ridiculousness and evilness of the various popular religious myths. Something better than one anecdote. It better be pretty damn good evidence actually because history seem to be replete with rights movements coinciding with icky, counterproductive confrontation. Hmm, I’m trying to think of an equality movement that succeeded but not rocking any boats…

    still thinking…

  106. 106
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Hmm, I’m trying to think of an equality movement that succeeded but by not rocking any boats…

  107. 107
    PZ Myers

    The number I have met who have been swayed by confrontation is Zero.

    You must not be very good at it. I’ve personally heard from hundreds.

    I have no illusions that it works for everyone. But to claim it is zero is simply an argument from ignorance.

  108. 108
    cbailey

    So, I come here and behave more or less the way you guys advocate, yet get the response I claim those tactics produce. I am wrong in your eyes the way you are wrong in the faithful’s eyes.
    Interesting.

  109. 109
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Edwin Kagin (yes, this guy) suggests he doesn’t understand why any black people would be turned off by this, says the billboard is “wonderful,” and says that criticizing it is like claiming that slavery didn’t happen.

    Also, if you criticize him for this, he’s planning to accuse you of not understanding satire.

  110. 110
    cbailey

    #107 – PZ, you have heard from hundreds of people who were fence sitters and people in wishy-washy places.

  111. 111
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    cbailey:

    #107 – PZ, you have heard from hundreds of people who were fence sitters and people in wishy-washy places.

    It’s so nice you are a universal mind reader, Dear.

    Also, that is a far cry from, “It doesn’t work, period.”

    Do you really have a point, or are you just derping?

  112. 112
    Rutee Katreya

    So, I come here and behave more or less the way you guys advocate, yet get the response I claim those tactics produce.

    What? No you didn’t. You concern trolled.

    @Love Moderately, I found that just before you posted it, I think. Some people’s children.

  113. 113
    PZ Myers

    PZ, you have heard from hundreds of people who were fence sitters and people in wishy-washy places.

    Really? You know them all? I’m impressed.

    Some of them argued quite ferociously and foolishly for creationism before they finally figured things out. I guess they were just pretending.

    But let’s pretend you’re right. It still means that a certain subset of believers are responsive to my approach.

  114. 114
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    cbailey has given me no reason to listen to it. In fact, given the testament of folks who come here, and say until we were rude to them they thought they weren’t wrong, I would say it is truly mistaken. Or wearing rose colored delusional glasses. I’ll stick with what is known to work, and it isn’t being nice.

  115. 115
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    So, I come here and behave more or less the way you guys advocate, yet get the response I claim those tactics produce.

    Funny, I don’t remember anybody advocating pulling fake numbers out your ass and citing anecdotes instead of evidence.

  116. 116
    Ichthyic

    Look at the OP

    right, so last week, PZ talks about how even putting up the most BASIC message will end up causing conflict and people screaming to take it down…

    followed by this??

    Frankly, he missed. This wasn’t intended to be sarcasm, even.

    Still say the criticism misses the mark entirely.

  117. 117
    strange gods before me ॐ

    “That image, that was my ancestors. That represents their struggle and all the pain they went through,” [Aaron Selvey of Harrisburg] said. “I don’t think a lot of people understood how offensive that is. Schoolchildren will just see that black face and the words. They don’t understand the context.”

    He hopes the billboard’s coming down is the first step toward understanding and progress on a host of problems.

    The NAACP didn’t advocate taking the sign down, “but, boy, was I pleased it was done,” said Greater Harrisburg Branch President Stanley Lawson. “It caused a lot of hurt and a lot of pain in the community. I’ve gotten more phone calls about this than I have about any issues in the past three or four years. It wasn’t just elderly people, it was young people, across the board.”

  118. 118
    Ichthyic

    Instead, the average person will look at this and think “oh my — atheists approve of slavery.”

    then the problem really is that the “average” person in America is really, really stupid?

    because I haven’t found anyone that I have shown it to around here, IN NEW ZEALAND, that didn’t understand what it was referring to immediately.

    nope, still not buying that this was tasteless and ineffective.

    a bit on the dull side graphically, but the message seems perfectly clear, and anyone here claiming it isn’t is lying, since they damn well DID understand what the message was getting at, they all just claim it could have “been done better”… somehow…

  119. 119
    Ichthyic

    Schoolchildren will just see that black face and the words. They don’t understand the context.

    then maybe instead of reaching for the fucking fainting couch, they might, you know, think to EXPLAIN IT TO THE CHILDREN?

    seriously? you guys are going with the “what about the children!” complaint?

    wow.

  120. 120
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Edwin Kagin (yes, this guy) suggests he doesn’t understand why any black people would be turned off by this, says the billboard is “wonderful,” and says that criticizing it is like claiming that slavery didn’t happen.

    Also, if you criticize him for this, he’s planning to accuse you of not understanding satire.

    Edwin Kagan is a jackass. I am sorry to say that about a FTB contributor, but I really think he is. After the post where he made a grossly homophobic joke and then, when called on it, doubled down and then made fun of the people calling him on it – meh, this total lack of empathy isn’t too surprising, unfortunately.

  121. 121
    strange gods before me ॐ

    right, so last week, PZ talks about how even putting up the most BASIC message will end up causing conflict and people screaming to take it down…

    followed by this??

    Logic fail.

    From the fact that people do get upset about a basic message like “atheists”, it does not follow that they’re wrong to get upset about a racially divisive message.

    +++++
    We’ve advocated atheism confrontationally for years and the NAACP has never gotten involved. Because atheism is not their concern.

    The fact that the NAACP have spoken up now, on the issue of race, ought to make us pay close attention and realize that this is a mistake, this is racially insensitive.

  122. 122
    Rutee Katreya

    seriously? you guys are going with the “what about the children!” complaint?

    I believe I’m going with “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE! Black people don’t just exist when you need to get one over on theists”

  123. 123
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Schoolchildren will just see that black face and the words. They don’t understand the context.

    then maybe instead of reaching for the fucking fainting couch, they might, you know, think to EXPLAIN IT TO THE CHILDREN?

    seriously? you guys are going with the “what about the children!” complaint?

    wow.

    Ichthyic, do you have a dog in this fight? Why so angry? Jeez!

    It is a billboard. It should not require lessons to explain what it fucking means! And yes, even intelligent people could, at first glance, get the wrong idea. The biggest and boldest words are the excretory Bible quote and the ATHEIST.ORG FFS – who would not make that connection at first glance. Most billboards are designed to work like that and people expect that the biggest things are meant to go together. It is a bloody stupid design, quite apart from the offensive angle.

    You might be looking at this from the perspective of someone who already knows the point of this billboard, who is motivated to read the smaller print, has the leisure to read the smaller print AND to consider the unnecessarily precious wording (FFS, “Bronze age ethics? FFS Just say BIBLE MORALS—driving by at 65mph, most people are not going to take all of that in)

    Last, the snark about NZ vs USA is stupidly unhelpful. You want to bask in a moment of USA is stupid? Knock yourself out. When you are finished, here’s a newsflash for you: People are the same all over the world. NZers have the same ratio of stupid. The issue herre is effectiveness of a billboard, not an opportunity to take cheap shots at other countries – but hey, like I said go right ahead. Americans have thick skin. :) (And I say that as a very proud new American :)).

  124. 124
    strange gods before me ॐ

    then maybe instead of reaching for the fucking fainting couch, they might, you know, think to EXPLAIN IT TO THE CHILDREN?

    Here you are proposing that you know better than do African American parents when to talk to their children about slavery and how.

    Really, I think they are likely to have some experience on the matter.

  125. 125
    consciousness razor

    then the problem really is that the “average” person in America is really, really stupid?

    That’s one of the problems, but not the only one.

    then maybe instead of reaching for the fucking fainting couch, they might, you know, think to EXPLAIN IT TO THE CHILDREN?

    Does the billboard explain it to the fucking children? No, it doesn’t. We expect the aforementioned idiots to do the explaining for us, because all they’re getting from us is a fucking billboard.

    seriously? you guys are going with the “what about the children!” complaint?

    I’m not. I’m going to start with the “attempting to say this with a billboard was boneheaded” complaint, because that seems like a good place to begin. Maybe that’s just the artist in me talking, I don’t know. I may eventually get around to the fucking children, but for now, I’d like AA to stop communicating everything via billboards (an exaggeration, I know), because it’s stupid.

  126. 126
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    a bit on the dull side graphically, but the message seems perfectly clear, and anyone here claiming it isn’t is lying, since they damn well DID understand what the message was getting at, they all just claim it could have “been done better”… somehow…

    The fuck? Yes, I understand what the message is conveying, but it is far from “clear”. There is a giant fucking picture of a shackled black person. Huge fucking print that says “Slaves, obey your master”. This is attributed to Colossians in a thin, not that easy to read font. Look, they managed to find the bold font where it says “paid for by Americanatheists” down at the bottom. That bold font would have come in handy for the script in the middle. It is a little tough to read on my computer but I’m sure it would be much easier to read zooming by it at 75mph. I grok what it’s getting at but this is not a “perfectly clear” message, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a lying secret-accomodationist if I say so.

    Plus you ignore the entire issue of the message being one giant co-opting of a historically oppressed groups’ struggles. Crommunist wrote a good piece that I kind of remember as being relevant to this issue* that I am having trouble locating…

    Just glance at it, all you get is the picture and the largest font. Not a nice message to go flashing by

    *It was in response to people throwing around hypotheticals in the elevatorgate threads. I’ll keep looking for it.

  127. 127
    strange gods before me ॐ

    a bit on the dull side graphically, but the message seems perfectly clear, and anyone here claiming it isn’t is lying

    So you’re saying that almost everyone in this thread is lying.

    And that includes both PZ and humanape(!) who between them span quite a breadth of opinion. They must both be deliberately lying to come to this conclusion.

    And when an African American atheist, Norm Allen, said “I had to think for a while before I concluded that this predominantly White atheist organization at least meant well”, he must have been lying too.

    Everybody is lying if they disagree with Ichthyic.

    +++++
    Your premise, that if a person understands the intented meaning of something then they cannot also understand how anyone else could take it differently, is absurd on its face.

    they all just claim it could have “been done better”… somehow…

    You insinuate that no one has given an example, but that is not true.

    AA’s whole line of reasoning is somewhat racist, since it presumes that the best way of talking to black Americans about atheism is to talk about slavery, while the best way of talking to white Americans is to just say generically, “don’t believe in God? neither do we”, but there’s no question that the example in #62 is far less bad than this.

  128. 128
    shawnthesheep

    I’m an atheist, one that was converted from agnosticism/wishy-washy new age spirituality to atheism by angry confrontationalists, and my initial, visceral reaction to that billboard was a feeling of nausea and disgust. Once the initial disgust wore off, I attempted to decipher the convoluted point. The ad is confusing. And that doesn’t mean I was confused by it. I understood the point it was trying to make immediately. But just because I can clearly see the intended meaning of an ad doesn’t mean that I can’t also see why the ad does not clearly convey its point.

    I’m all for pointing out the hypocrisy/immorality of biblical scripture. I’m all for doing it in big, bold font on big bright billboards that will offend the fuck out of religious fundamentalists. But I fucking hate this billboard. It’s poorly designed, confusing and makes light of slavery/racism in a snarky way to score a not very important rhetorical point against Christians.

    Using racist caricatures of African slaves in advertisements is generally not an effective way of making your point. Perhaps people would not have as visceral a reaction to it in a place like New Zealand, where there aren’t any fucking black people, but here in the ignorant, diverse, undereducated, racist, conservative US of A with our history of slavery, bigotry and genocide people tend to be a bit more sensitive about flippant uses of racist imagery.

  129. 129
    strange gods before me ॐ

    a place like New Zealand, where there aren’t any fucking black people

    Not so many, but there have been African immigrants as long as there have been British immigrants.

    Anyway, Ichthyic is a US expatriate. He should know better.

  130. 130
    cccbccc

    Woo @126 – Do you mean “Shuffling Feet”? I used that very thing on another thread about this billboard because he specifically expresses his dislike for appropriation like this. http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/01/16/shuffling-feet-a-black-mans-view-on-schroedingers-rapist/

    (Sorry I’m so unsavvy, can’t hyperlink).

  131. 131
    Anthony K

    I propose that the primary reason for being confrontational and shocking is for your own emotional satisfaction. Self indulgence. Every time you show your ass you make it harder for atheism to make headway.

    If you’re going to make evidence free claims like this, you might as well stop holding youself back and just go ahead and thank the Virgin Mary for curing your psoriasis.

  132. 132
    nms

    Evidently some resident of Harrisburg saw this billboard and determined they could do a better job of conveying AA’s message than AA could.

  133. 133
    John Morales

    My first impression* is that this sign indicates that the Babble accepts (and implicitly endorses) slavery, and illustrates it with an image of slavery.

    (I don’t see the problem)

    * I’m commenting without having read other comments, so as not to contaminate my first impression.

  134. 134
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Ah, having perused the comment thread, I see that people are concerned about either its execution or its confrontational nature.

    Even PZ!

    (sigh)

  135. 135
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Harrr.

    More accurately, I’m complaining that the billboard demonstrably does not communicate that atheists are positively disposed toward black communities and thus has become racially divisive; is mildly racist in its treatment of black Americans as unsuited for AA’s more respectful messages like “you know it’s a myth”; and demonstrates ignorance, even apparent mockery, of black Americans’ bread-and-butter issues.

    The damnedest thing is that there are unambiguously respectful ways to reach out to black communities.

    Now imagine a black atheist planning to tell his family about his disbelief. Today one of the African Americans for Humanism billboards goes up in his neighborhood, and his task becomes slightly easier; he can point out that group as a source of information. Or, today this American Atheists billboard goes up in his neighborhood, and his task becomes that much harder; now not only does he have to explain why he’s an atheist, he also has to explain that he doesn’t in any way identify with this racially inflammatory group.

    This billboard simply does not support the people we ought to support.

  136. 136
    SQB

    I’m kind of annoyed at the fact that it’s not even questioned that a bunch of white people can just go ahead and snatch up the struggles of black people to smack around their ideological opponents.

    Thanks ruteekatreya, exactly this. I was trying to formulate this, when I read your words.

    Confrontational is fine by me. It works on some, it doesn’t work on others. And of course design is a matter of taste.

    But you don’t get to misappropriate others’ history and struggles for your own purposes.

  137. 137
    strange gods before me ॐ

    “As apologies go, this one was horrible. [Brian Fields] apologized for the fact that others supposedly misunderstood what the billboard said, and in the process completely ignored the fact that many African-Americans found the billboard itself offensive. Obviously, the concerns of African-Americans are absolutely secondary to this groups desire to fight the year of the bible. The fact that driving by the billboard may have been triggering, or that the billboard amounted to gross appropriation — pales in comparison to the seriousness of the atheist agenda. No matter how worthy you believe your cause is, invoking an experience outside of your own personal background amounts to appropriation. It cheapens events like slavery and turns it into a cheap talking point.”

  138. 138
    Ichthyic

    Anyway, Ichthyic is a US expatriate. He should know better.

    seriously pathetic.

  139. 139
    Ichthyic

    ..you really don’t get how your complaints about this billboard actually just expose ignorance, just like the Christians complaining about the many other billboards.

    it’s fucking sad, is what it is.

    I have no more to say on the subject.

    you’re a hypocrite, and you can’t even see it.

  140. 140
    Ichthyic

    So you’re saying that almost everyone in this thread is lying.

    why not? you just did.

  141. 141
    Ichthyic

    Here you are proposing that you know better than do African American parents when to talk to their children about slavery and how.

    actually it’s worse than that, fuckwit.

    I’m seriously saying that if you claim children are offended by this because they don’t understand it…

    IT’S THE DAMN PARENTS FAULT.

    yes, that’s right.

  142. 142
    Ichthyic

    lovey lying:

    So you’re saying that almost everyone in this thread is lying.

    And that includes both PZ and humanape(!) who between them span quite a breadth of opinion. They must both be deliberately lying to come to this conclusion.

    hello, what did PZ start off with?

    did he say he didn’t get it?

    NO HE DIDN’T.

    in fact, he said the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    I find you dishonest and not worth talking to, and have decided to shitcan your posts from now on.

  143. 143
    TimKO,,.,,

    *Penn staters are not all idiots (as inexplicably inferred by some), therefore:
    *This billboard is fine for its target audience

    *Billboards are temporary by nature with room for improvement
    *Overall grade: A-

  144. 144
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Another problem, as someone might have pointed out already, is that while the target audience is presumably liberal religious people, many who’ll see it aren’t very solidly liberal or at the least have illiberal leanings. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to remind people of biblical support* for oppressive social relations, discrimination, genocide, beating children, and so forth in this way in a context in which Biblical approval is still very much actively used as a basis for bad practices. You can’t be sure that the message people – especially the sort of people who are OK with a Year of the Bible – will read will be “The Bible approves of this terrible thing and so the Bible is immoral” rather than “The Bible approves of this thing, so maybe some forms of it aren’t so terrible or immoral.”

  145. 145
    Rutee Katreya

    Ah, having perused the comment thread, I see that people are concerned about either its execution or its confrontational nature.

    You’re a fucking idiot, as always. It’s a fucking racist advertisement, because atheists only seem to care about black people to score points on Christians. I couldn’t care less about the fact that it’s confrontational. Yes, the bible is fucking racist, but given that atheism sucks at race that should not be your fucking opening argument.

    hello, what did PZ start off with?

    did he say he didn’t get it?

    NO HE DIDN’T.

    in fact, he said the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    I find you dishonest and not worth talking to, and have decided to shitcan your posts from now on.

    You’re illiterate and self centered. That was at the guy who says confrontation isn’t effective.

  146. 146
    esmith4102

    I find the conversation here little more than confusing over what I consider a non-issue of taste, design, and offensiveness.  I understand the raison d’être of freethinkers is to avoid the herd mentality, which, in turn, often lead to personal disagreements, but, hopefully, always friendly ones.  Atheism is not a “movement” and if it is, I don’t want to be identified with it.  For me, being an atheist is a state of mind, an independent decision, a search for the freedom to make choices unrestrained by the tyranny of religion, ideology, personal bias, or constraints upon knowledge.  I don’t care who is offended by the truth.  Truths are not predicated on whether one is an atheist or not, but on facts.  The fact is scripture was used to justify God’s approval of slavery.  It wasn’t until 1995 the Southern Baptist Church formally renounced the support of slavery and segregation.  The Jim Crow South was officially supported by religion and the religious.  I already offend the religious by being a de facto atheist, so my goal is not to proselytize nor to pander to them, but to confront them with the bloody reality of truth in all it’s brutality, if necessary.  They can take it or leave it.

  147. 147
    Rutee Katreya

    Oh, huh, my bad. That said, PZ said he got it, not that it was clear.

  148. 148
    Rutee Katreya

    but to confront them with the bloody reality of truth in all it’s brutality, if necessary. They can take it or leave it.

    What about the annoying factoid that the exact same religion that was used to justify their oppression helped black people deal with their slavery and the aftermath when they established their own churches, with their own preachers? Or the fact that there were white and black abolitionists who used the bible to justify their abolition-ing? Almost as if both parties were reaching for the same untrue thing to justify attitudes already present, because it’s untrue bullshit that can be twisted to whatever the religious want.

    This is why you stick to your fucking culture and struggles. Hopefully you know them better, but either way you’re not taking someone else’s problems and using them as a way to score fucking points on religions.

  149. 149
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Yes, the bible is fucking racist,

    The verse quoted isn’t about race. It’s about ancient slavery.

    ***

    Atheism is not a “movement”

    Wrong.

    and if it is, I don’t want to be identified with it.

    OK.

  150. 150
    sometimeszero

    When I first saw this billboard I was offended, and I consider myself a confrontational atheist.

    Still, my question with billboards is always, Does it convey its message?

    So I asked a few people what they thought (including my mother, who’s a social worker and offended by nearly everything that’s confrontational). No surprise, she was offended. She immediately fixated on the shackled black person and thought it was racist, as did I.

    Because she’s not an atheist, I explained to her that the billboard was trying to make a connection between slavery and the fact that slavery is condoned in the Bible. She immediately understood and was offended by the Bible. She grabbed the book off my shelf, looked up the passage and began reading—becoming more offended by each verse.

    My discussion with my mom went the way I suspected it would, but that she actually looked at the Bible (she is Presbyterian but hasn’t picked one up in decades) was a pleasant surprise.

    My problem with the billboard is that it’s too complicated to convey any meaning other than a racial one. As people passed by, that’s the message they got. I also don’t understand why it only had to be an image of a black person. Members from every race and culture are and were enthralled by the Bible’s flippant acceptance of slavery. Include an image of a white person! Or a child!

    Targeting that one race makes the billboard unquestionably racist, and just as bad, links atheism with racism, flipping the AA’s message on its head.

    As a side note, I don’t see anything wrong with atheists pointing out that religion—the supposed arbiter of moral truth—has holy books explicitly condemning slavery and using that as a weapon against the “morally superior” religious right. But for an atheist to think for a second that atheist movements have no systemic racial problems and don’t covertly contribute to racism is just plain ignorant.

  151. 151
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    cccbccc,

    Woo @126 – Do you mean “Shuffling Feet”? I used that very thing on another thread about this billboard because he specifically expresses his dislike for appropriation like this. http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/01/16/shuffling-feet-a-black-mans-view-on-schroedingers-rapist/

    (Sorry I’m so unsavvy, can’t hyperlink).

    Yes, that was it. Thanks much!

    Ah, having perused the comment thread, I see that people are concerned about either its execution or its confrontational nature.

    Even PZ!

    (sigh)

    You fucking dolt. No one gives a fuck about the fact that it is confrontational. It is racist. One giant appropriation. A triggering, disgusting, poorly-executed appropriation. If you are going to use anti-black racism to score points for atheism*, make the message fucking crystal clear.

    Guess what, people get offended when some troll calls someone a “cunt”. It is not because of the fact that the troll is being confrontational. It is not concern-trolling to speak out against bigoted shit. Pretty simple really.

    And even if the only complaint was that the billboard was poorly executed, so what? If it fails at delivering its message clearly, it deserves criticism.

    *hint, you shouldn’t be doing this at all.

  152. 152
    Ingdigo Jump

    Question? Why didn’t they use a picture of Frederik Douglas and one of his pointed quotes?

    It’s impossible to misread as negative, cuts to the heart of the issue, and brings attention to an agnostic/atheist figure most people have heard of but are not aware of their religious stance.

    Such as the quote about how he got his freedom when he stopped praying and started running? Or any of his observations about how literacy and knowledge is what helped him get his freedom and that the slaveowners were right to fear their slaves learning?

  153. 153
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I have seen some support for the idea that the billboard was not unclear, and is actually a nice, in-your-face message about the Babble.

    I have seen zero support for the contention that this billboard is not racially insensitive (to put it mildly). Stop pretending the only issue with this billboard is quibbles over its message being less than clear.

    Can I haz some explanation for why it is not a racially insensitive add?

  154. 154
    Ingdigo Jump

    a bit on the dull side graphically, but the message seems perfectly clear, and anyone here claiming it isn’t is lying

    Funny story. While driving with partner I pointed to a billboard that I thought was for a new “gentlemen’s club” (there are quite a few billboards advertising that around our exit). Partner corrected me that it was a billboard for a Prom dress boutique.

    The problems with the billboard that tricked me

    a) in the fraction of second I had to see it I missed the word Prom and just read Boutique thinking it was the name
    b) It was done in the same letter coloring and font as the strip club ads
    c) It used the same style of photography of women with low back cut dresses on a dark background.

    In other words it looked exactly like a strip club ad, and I misread it as one because I was busy driving. My partner who was a passenger got the idea because they were able to look at it twice as long.

    real graphic issues that face billboards.

    If I can be mislead by the presentation of colors and photography to read “Prom Dresses” as “Strip Club” someone, especially most people out there with strong subconscious bias against athesits, can read ‘shame on your bible’ as ‘WHITE POWER’. ESPECIALLy because people have the misconception that neo-nazi groups are atheistic.

  155. 155
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    *I am reposting this comment. I tried 5 min. ago, but I’m not seeing it go through. Sorry for the double-post if it does.

    If I can be mislead by the presentation of colors and photography to read “Prom Dresses” as “Strip Club” someone, especially most people out there with strong subconscious bias against athesits, can read ‘shame on your bible’ as ‘WHITE POWER’. ESPECIALLy because people have the misconception that neo-nazi groups are atheistic.

    Who cares if some people will take away a racist message from the billboard? Who cares if some people will feel like their history and struggles are being appropriated? Stop being such accomodationists! Derp.

  156. 156
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    ruteekatreya (99)

    I reject these arguments:

    Some famous atheists are racist, therefore atheism=racism.

    Most atheists are white men, and atheist movements operate in ways that systematically marginalize non-whites, and therefore atheism=racism.

    Subject matter relating to historical acts of oppression belongs exclusively to the descendents of the oppressed group, and therefore cannot be uttered or co-opted by anyone else for any reason.

    My reasons:

    Atheism is a belief in a particular conclusion about the universe. It isn’t a group of people or their behavior.

    There IS a logical connection between belief in “the one true god” and racism, genocide, slavery, etc, in this case – it’s called The Bible (see Billboard).

    People recoil at the sight of human suffering, and don’t want to be associated with its causes. This is why Sally Struthers uses images to get 10 c a day and why we don’t get to look at flag-draped coffins coming home from overseas. I say, don’t let them hide. Put it out in the open and let’s deal with it.

    We are products of our natural history, not separate from it. History is embedded into every face, leaf, and stone. The more we know about history, the more we know ourselves.

  157. 157
    Rutee Katreya

    Some famous atheists are racist, therefore atheism=racism.

    And here in the real world, prominent atheists get to do some racist-ass shit and get clapped on the back for it by the atheist community at [large to varying degrees]

    Try understanding an argument before you reject it. It’s not just that those assholes are racist, but that their racism is embraced by the community. And it is, frequently.

    Most atheists are white men, and atheist movements operate in ways that systematically marginalize non-whites, and therefore atheism=racism.

    …Dude, you better be rejecting the premise, because “systematically marginalizing non-whites” is the fucking definition of racism.

    Subject matter relating to historical acts of oppression belongs exclusively to the descendents of the oppressed group, and therefore cannot be uttered or co-opted by anyone else for any reason.

    And you reject this argument why?

    Atheism is a belief in a particular conclusion about the universe. It isn’t a group of people or their behavior.

    I am talking about the movement and the people in it, you motherfucking nitwit, not the philosophical concept of disbelief applied to gods. This billboard was m ade by members of that movement.

    There IS a logical connection between belief in “the one true god” and racism, genocide, slavery, etc, in this case – it’s called The Bible (see Billboard).

    Except the bible is also connected, in the real world, to the inverse of those things, as it motivates liberal christians to act against it.

    We are products of our natural history, not separate from it. History is embedded into every face, leaf, and stone. The more we know about history, the more we know ourselves.

    You’re not a history teacher. You’re an asshole trying to use anti-black history to score cheap points against your ideological opponent. It’s inethical to only care about racism when it helps you. Fucking quit it.

  158. 158
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    Huh?

    Please tell me the rules that apply to “interracial” children so I can tell my son what’s acceptable. Is it okay for HIM not to believe in god?

    The image does bring up problems that aren’t related to the question of whether there’s a god. A better image should definitely have been chosen. Slavery in the broadest historical sense is a fair example of religion being on the wrong side of morality. However, if an atheist wants to point out to theists the gulf between MORALITY(TM) and morality, slavery in the United States is not an appropriate example.

  159. 159
    Rutee Katreya

    Is it okay for HIM not to believe in god?

    Are you this obtuse on fucking purpose, or are you just naturally stupid? Because I am continuing to refer to the racism in the movement, not of the philosophical position of atheism.

    Slavery in the broadest historical sense is a fair example of religion being on the wrong side of morality.

    And i’ts also an example of religion on the right side! Because religion is just bullshit, and was also used by the abolitionists! But even if it were only on the wrong side, it would STILL be massively wrong to only care about racism when its existence helps your cause and ignore it the rest of the time, and even if you were a committed anti-racist, that kind of appropriation would still be shitty of you, because it’s not your damn struggle.

    However, if an atheist wants to point out to theists the gulf between MORALITY(TM) and morality, slavery in the United States is not an appropriate example.

    Where slavery is racially charged, it is not an appropriate example for white people to bring up as an example of why anything but why racism and slavery is horrible*; That leaves nowhere, to my knowledge, unless you are posting this from the Roman Empire proper (You should email a scientist on your time travel if this is the case).

    *Not just white people, but they seem to be the folks most eager to do so.

  160. 160
    John Morales

    ruteekatreya:

    Ah, having perused the comment thread, I see that people are concerned about either its execution or its confrontational nature.

    You’re a fucking idiot, as always.

    I see you don’t dispute my observation, O concerned one.

    It’s a fucking racist advertisement, because atheists only seem to care about black people to score points on Christians.

    You think black people and slavery in America are unrelated?

    I couldn’t care less about the fact that it’s confrontational.

    Yeah, but since you’ve asserted that you’re “really fucking uncomfortable just dragging out the support for slavery in a void”, clearly you’re concerned about its execution.

    (The void is only in your imagination; the context is obvious to others)

  161. 161
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    Honestly, I am just naturally stupid, but I’m trying.

    I interpreted the billboard to be about the philosophy, and not “the movement”. The only movements I associate with are the ones that splash in the toilet.

    I’d like to think that I consistently oppose slavery, rape, child abuse, murder, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. For most of these, I can oppose them without personally being a victim. For example, when Catholic priests rape little boys, I get outraged. I’m not Catholic, so “it’s not my damn struggle”, but I can’t stop myself from getting pissed off about it. When Prop 8 was passed, that wasn’t my struggle either, but I was very angry. Both of these issues can be co-opted as arguments for atheism. When I left Mormonism as a kid, it was primarily because I read about the cursing of the “Lamanites” (still remember the verses – 2Nephi 5:21-25) and knew I couldn’t accept it. So I know these can be powerful arguments. It just takes a little more care in the presentation. But, if the purpose of the billboard was to get a maximum effect (e.g. sum(|publicity|)), they accomplished their goal.

  162. 162
    charlessoto

    I like everything about that billboard EXCEPT the wordiness at the bottom left. Shorten that and it’s perfect.

  163. 163
    consciousness razor

    For example, when Catholic priests rape little boys, I get outraged. I’m not Catholic, so “it’s not my damn struggle”, but I can’t stop myself from getting pissed off about it. When Prop 8 was passed, that wasn’t my struggle either, but I was very angry. Both of these issues can be co-opted as arguments for atheism.

    Arguments for atheism consist of those which show believing in a god is irrational. Anger about rape and bigotry doesn’t cut the mustard.

    But, if the purpose of the billboard was to get a maximum effect (e.g. sum(|publicity|)), they accomplished their goal.

    If it’s a publicity stunt for atheism, then the “The Year of the Bible” and racism in the U.S. would be irrelevant.

    Is anyone going to seriously suggest this is the ideal way to send whatever message they think it’s supposed to be sending? Or does anyone even think it’s good enough that we shouldn’t complain?

  164. 164
    John Morales

    [meta]

    CR,

    Is anyone going to seriously suggest this is the ideal way to send whatever message they think it’s supposed to be sending?

    Either you think know what message it is they think it’s supposed to be sending, or you don’t.

    If the latter, how do you know they’re doing it wrong?
    If the former, whence your phrasing?

  165. 165
    jacklewis

    For atheists to pretend they know how this will be perceived by believers is a bit strange. The sign’s message is pretty clear, the bible is a horrible reference when it comes to morality. The notion that not a single religious or undecided person will be moved to look up the bible’s take on slavery based on this add is hard to swallow.
    As for the billboard being ugly, well yes and so is the bible. If you are going to make a nice billboard about the bible you will have to do dome major sugar coating and there are pretty obvious organizations that have done for centuries already.
    The other somewhat entertained notion that the billboard is about trying to sell the organization (and not just getting a simple message out there) misses the point in a manner that is hard to do without effort.

  166. 166
    consciousness razor

    Either you think know what message it is they think it’s supposed to be sending, or you don’t.

    I think if you peruse the thread again, you will find more than one interpretation has been given. Anyway, I do have some idea what those are.

    If the latter, how do you know they’re doing it wrong?
    If the former, whence your phrasing?

    The phrasing is meant to be neutral with regard to which one (if any) I think is the “correct” interpretation. I agree with some that it’s counterproductive just in terms of the specific content and context of the billboard, but the decision to use that medium rather another to deliver a message this complicated and contentious is also amenable to criticism.

  167. 167
    dornierpfeil

    Seriously, is there a problem with using the “Stone your unruly children” line?

    Are there any abused children or grown, former abused children who would not appreciate having their issue appropriated? It also wouldn’t do to have such a billboard and then have someone dig up a headline or two over a pedophile atheist or a child-beating atheist, as undoubtedly such a thing is probably floating around out there.

  168. 168
    Rutee Katreya

    Are there any abused children or grown, former abused children who would not appreciate having their issue appropriated?

    Point, I’d be fine with it, but there’s… rather quite a few besides. I avoided the more obvious anti-gay leviticus ones on the same grounds (Though Atheism, happily, does not seem to suck too badly on heterosexism, at least IME; OTOH, that’s just my experience).

    Jesus taking up the sword works, off the cuff, there’s plenty in Leviticus besides that (The list of people who need to be stoned according to it is pretty fucking long). Someone with a better memory not writing at 2 AM can probably remember some of the other jackassery.

    d. I’m not Catholic, so “it’s not my damn struggle”, but I can’t stop myself from getting pissed off about it.

    Catholics are part of the dominant culture of the religious in the USA; There’d be a problem if they were your go-to for religious problems 70 or 80 years ago, but they’re one of the groups with major power now. (And most of the anti-catholic jackassery has historically been racist in nature anyway, in the USA. There’s a reason it spiked with immigrant influxes). That said, the sexually abused are not. Perhaps that isn’t where you want to go.

    I don’t expect you not to get mad at things like the bible being used for racism. It makes me pretty fucking angry, as the recipient of a lot of it (On a to~tally different vector). I expect that not to be a thing you reach for right off the damn bat, or really one that you don’t raise if race and religion are not already on the table.

    There’s too much other shit for you to attack in religion for you to need to grab up black people’s problems. IF someone says “Christianity/religion restrains our racism”, then it might be appropriate to intervene. If someone says “Christianity/Religion restrains our baser urges”, perhaps you can find your own culture’s criticisms of that instead. I promise you, they exist.

    I interpreted the billboard to be about the philosophy, and not “the movement”.

    Ugh. The philosophy did not put that fucking billboard up. The movement did.

    The only movements I associate with are the ones that splash in the toilet.

    Is this being typed by your helper monkey who ghostwrites for you? You’re here now; your statement is trivially easy to disprove.

    So I know these can be powerful arguments.

    I am well aware of this. Leave them for the disadvantaged they smack down.

    But, if the purpose of the billboard was to get a maximum effect (e.g. sum(|publicity|)), they accomplished their goal.

    Dude, publicity is not always good. That is a lie people try to say after they have fucked up massively, trying to restrict it. Yeah, they’re getting publicity… they are becoming publicly known as fucking racists. Rightfully fucking so, I might add.

    I see you don’t dispute my observation, O concerned one.

    Oh, you were going to defend that. Let me have a good laugh at your expense.

    http://www.endlessvideo.com/watch?v=gFmGNqji4u0&start=0m10s&end=0m12s

    Okay, John, if you insist on actually defending your stupid statement, and the implication that people were merely concern trolling, let me motherfucking remind you that I am part of the reason heddle ran off from Pharyngula; the final flounce was announced while you were in the middle of being dressed down for some stupid shit or other you said. Further, lest you try the other ‘easy’ choice, my posts in this thread show that I have not-a-single-goddamn problem with incivility; this is not a matter of tone. This is a problem of fucking racism.

    There’d be no reason to say “Oh, looks like people are concerned except to sarcastically bring up concern trolls. Yes, I am concerned with this; on its face, this is a true statement. But don’t fucking pretend you weren’t trying to label people trolls with your ‘observation’; elsewise there’d be no reason to say it. Concern trolling is for non-atheists trying to defang you, not for non-white atheists telling you that you are fucking up a matter of race and you need to fucking quit it.

    You think black people and slavery in America are unrelated?

    Are you a fucking nitwit? That’s the fucking point. You care about slavery and racism now, to score ideological points on theists, but when this thread is over you will go back to perpetuating it happily and not giving two shits about the problems black people face.

  169. 169
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ruteekatreya:

    Okay, John, if you insist on actually defending your stupid statement, and the implication that people were merely concern trolling

    I don’t need to defend my statement, since you didn’t dispute it, indeed you’ve acknowledged its truthfulness (“Yes, I am concerned with this; on its face, this is a true statement”).

    let me motherfucking remind you that I am part of the reason heddle ran off from Pharyngula

    <snicker>

    the final flounce was announced while you were in the middle of being dressed down for some stupid shit or other you said.

    Well, I guess everyone needs their Walter Mitty moments.

    (There, there)

    Further, lest you try the other ‘easy’ choice, my posts in this thread show that I have not-a-single-goddamn problem with incivility; this is not a matter of tone.

    I never claimed it was a matter of tone.

    This is a problem of fucking racism.

    The billboard quotes the Babble on slavery, and illustrates it with a period image of applied American slavery.

    (Such racism as you see is due to that)

    There’d be no reason to say “Oh, looks like people are concerned except to sarcastically bring up concern trolls.

    You think so? Your lack of imagination is not my problem.

    But don’t fucking pretend you weren’t trying to label people trolls with your ‘observation’; elsewise there’d be no reason to say it.

    I don’t need to pretend; I wasn’t.

    (And you repeat yourself, in your agitation. Heh)

    You care about slavery and racism now, to score ideological points on theists, but when this thread is over you will go back to perpetuating it happily and not giving two shits about the problems black people face.

    You’re guessing.

  170. 170
    Rutee Katreya

    I don’t need to defend my statement, since you didn’t dispute it, indeed you’ve acknowledged its truthfulness (“Yes, I am concerned with this; on its face, this is a true statement”).

    Dude, the statement is pointless except to raise the possibility of a concern troll; you have a concern of some sort, or you would not bother to post at all (No matter how much you may play the disaffected guy above it all).

    (Such racism as you see is due to that)

    I didn’t realize that the bible put a gun to American Atheists’ collective heads and forced them to appropriate the struggles of black people, a thousand pardons.

    You think so? Your lack of imagination is not my problem.

    I’m so sure it’s this.

    You’re guessing.

    No, I’m not. Even if I could not say this about you, personally (And I can, accurately), it would still be true of the movement at large, which specifically alienates people of color – even the disbelieving ones, the people who want to hear your message – and makes people of color generally speaking not want to join the ranks, such as they are.

    Racism is only another way to score points on theists. That is why Condell, Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, and others can go on yet another rant where Islam as a religion codes for attacks on immigrants from arabic countries, with nobody giving a shit about it (And yes, it is a shitty religion, same as Christianity, but in the west it is a powerless one that as a rule does not need to have its jackassery hammered home as frequently). That’s why there’s so little done to include non-whites in the atheist movement at -all-, why they are so rarely in leadership positions (Even when the target audience is not actually white), etc.

  171. 171
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ruteekatreya:

    Dude, the statement is pointless except to raise the possibility of a concern troll; you have a concern of some sort, or you would not bother to post at all

    It bemused me that so many people (PZ included) were claiming U R doin it Rong about this billboard, nothing more, especially in the light of recent “let a thousand flowers bloom” rhetoric.

    (You think that’s being concerned, or calling them concern trolls?)

    You’re guessing.

    No, I’m not.

    Yeah, you are.

  172. 172
    Rutee Katreya

    It bemused me

    I could believe that, I suppose, as you suck at race.

    (You think that’s being concerned, or calling them concern trolls?)

    Voicing your confusion? That is stating a concern, is it not?

    Yeah, you are.

    You have continually failed to understand the objection, even in clear language that even the most unacquainted simpleton could understand, and you are still going to claim that I am reaching for straws when I say that yeah, you have problems on racial issues? In the face of similar failures on the part of other racists, in this very thread? Believable, but only because you were always an unbelievably arrogant jackass.

  173. 173
    flib

    John Morales. Continuing to repeat yourself over how someone is “guessing” despite the historical record of the atheist community is roughly the same as you sticking your fingers into your ears and going “Lalalalala, not listening”. It doesn’t win you any points. You’ve yet to offer anything in an effective statement. In essence, you are a nitwit who seems to have an ego problem. I say this as an experienced lurker.

  174. 174
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ruteekatreya, flib:

    [1] You care about slavery and racism now, [2] to score ideological points on theists, [3] but when this thread is over you will go back to perpetuating it happily [4] and not giving two shits about the problems black people face.

    Either of you care to attempt to justify claims [1..4], since you both imagine they’re not guesses?

    (Surely you can quote me)

    Continuing to repeat yourself over how someone is “guessing” despite the historical record of the atheist community is roughly the same as you sticking your fingers into your ears and going “Lalalalala, not listening”.

    The only repetition is as a response to a claim, and I’m not the atheist community.

    It doesn’t win you any points. You’ve yet to offer anything in an effective statement.

    You’ve yet to say anything about this billboard.

    (As an aside, you imagine I comment to win points?)

    In essence, you are a nitwit who seems to have an ego problem. I say this as an experienced lurker.

    Your bona fides are almost impressive as your acumen. :)

  175. 175
    Rutee Katreya

    1. http://freethoughtblogs.com/tokenskeptic/files/2012/03/American-Atheists-Slave-Billboards-in-Harrisburg-PA.jpeg
    PS: Even if it were only about you, you would not want to contest “You care about racism now”, it would only make you look like an even bigger cretin.

    2.

    The next time a science denier says Darwin was a racist, I’m going to remind the idiot the god of the Bible loved slavery.

    I like the billboard and the design. It evokes a time when the Bible was used to justify slavery, and that’s an important point.

    3.

    You think black people and slavery in America are unrelated?

    Especially for black people who think the Bible liberated them from slavery, which they should know is only part of the story.

    PS: Holy shit, the both of you

    4. I could cheat and say PZ hasn’t posted about PoC today, but I don’t even need to be that cheap. Most of the race talk on Pharyngula is either about this billboard or by people who had a problem with it, if not all of it.

  176. 176
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ruteekatreya, you made those guesses about me, not about others. :)

    (And linking to the image is otiose: it’s featured in the OP)

    it would only make you look like an even bigger cretin.

    My thyroid is fine.

    (You’re still guessing)

  177. 177
    Rutee Katreya

    ruteekatreya, you made those guesses about me, not about others. :)

    it would still be true of the movement at large,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

    I don’t care about you enough to dig through your nadir of privileged, whiney horse shit on Scienceborg, and even if I did, searching back through your anagram names would be tedious as shit. And since you’re just making it about you again, you have dropped below “Ascending my Tengu Gladiator in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup” in my priority list at any rate.

  178. 178
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    It is irrational to me to believe in an almighty, all-loving being who, in his own words, condones or commands atrocious acts of oppression or retribution with childish caprice. It is irrational that any moral code can be drawn from these preachments or commandments that is worth an ounce of consideration or reverence.

  179. 179
    magic pants, celestial slacker

    blockquote fail. Last post was in response to:

    Arguments for atheism consist of those which show believing in a god is irrational. Anger about rape and bigotry doesn’t cut the mustard.

  180. 180
    ChasCPeterson

    rutee, rutee, rutee. [/bad Cary Grant]

    You’ve evidently been confusing Morales with some misremembered version of me. Naturally I am not interested in defending anything Morales might have muttered.
    Nor do I care about whatever misconstrual or vaguely harbored grudge makes you think I deserve to be addressed in the way you’ve mistakenly been addressing Morales.
    Have a nice day.

  181. 181
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Anyway, Ichthyic is a US expatriate. He should know better.

    seriously pathetic.

    I can’t even imagine what objection is implied here. You are an expat, and therefore you should know better. We’d cut more slack for someone born in NZ.

    you really don’t get how your complaints about this billboard actually just expose ignorance

    Several of my complaints are that some black folks regard this as racially insensitive and triggering. This cannot be regarded as ignorance, since I have presented statements from these folks in their own words.

    So you’re saying that almost everyone in this thread is lying.

    why not? you just did.

    ? Where? I don’t think you’re reading for comprehension at this point.

    I’m seriously saying that if you claim children are offended by this because they don’t understand it…

    IT’S THE DAMN PARENTS FAULT.

    Nah. I don’t think you can reasonably say that any parents should have all this context explained to a first grader who’s just learning to read.

    You obviously haven’t thought this through in any detail. Given your ignorance, it’s strange that you are proposing that you know better than do African American parents when to talk to their children about slavery and how.

    hello, what did PZ start off with?

    did he say he didn’t get it?

    NO HE DIDN’T.

    in fact, he said the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    And yet what was I responding to from you? Here:

    a bit on the dull side graphically, but the message seems perfectly clear, and anyone here claiming it isn’t is lying

    You’re the one who’s suggesting that “getting it” and “believing it is clear” are equivalent. That is obviously, trivially false. I got it when President Obama mentioned tikkun olam in his speech to AIPAC the other day. A few years ago I wouldn’t have gotten it. But the clarity of his statement would be the same either way.

    And what exactly did PZ say?

    I get it. [...] you’d damn well better tread carefully, and demand some taste and clarity. That sign has neither.

    You said that anyone who says it isn’t perfectly clear is lying. So I pointed out that PZ said it wasn’t clear, and thus you’re implying that he was lying. Now you claim that somehow, by pointing out exactly what PZ said, I must also be lying.

    Doesn’t make sense, except by the metric I proposed earlier: Everybody is lying if they disagree with Ichthyic.

  182. 182
    strange gods before me ॐ

    This bit

    I get it. [...] you’d damn well better tread carefully, and demand some taste and clarity. That sign has neither.

    should have been in blockquotes.

  183. 183
    Rutee Katreya

    You’ve evidently been confusing Morales with some misremembered version of me. Naturally I am not interested in defending anything Morales might have muttered.

    Who the fuck are you, and why do you think I care about you? Egotists these days, they should have the good taste to talk about me instead.

    It is irrational that any moral code can be drawn from these preachments or commandments that is worth an ounce of consideration or reverence.

    Leave. IT. For. The. Marginalized.

  184. 184
    chigau (違う)

    rutee
    ChasCPeterson is Sven DiMilo of the morphing names.
    John Morales is neither of those but he is playing games with you.

  185. 185
  186. 186
    ChasCPeterson

    good ol’ rutee: belligerently wrong, rudely stupid.

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