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Please don’t do this

Ken Ham is all smug and indignant over something an atheist wrote about him. And this really hurts to say, but I think Ken Ham has a case. Here’s the bit of “satire” written about a certain despicable creationist.

I’ve decided that for my Christmas dinner I will capture and cook alive, slowly, Ken Ham himself. I’ve a lovely place in a secluded wood all picked out with a human size iron pot of oil just waiting for me to plop Mr. Ham into and bring slowly to a boil. There’s no need for me to gag him either because we’ll be SO secluded, no one will be able to hear even his loudest yelps of pain. Man, this is gonna be a great Christmas. I’m glad Mr. Ham took the time to remind me of how evil and nasty I am just because I don’t believe in his god. He took away any last twinge of morality in me that might’ve said, “It’s wrong to boil people alive in oil and eat them, so don’t.” Oh well, he has no one to blame but himself for becoming my Christmas dinner! Hee Haw! How’s that for imposing my a-theism on you, eh, Mr. Ham?

That’s…unpleasant. It’s threatening. It is allowing a fundamentalist creationist claim the moral high ground.

You know what it isn’t, though?

Funny.

Comments

  1. Jackie wishes she could hibernate says

    What sort of idiotic cretin sends someone something like this? Ham may be a huckster and fool, but there is no reason at all to send him something so horrible.

  2. aziraphale says

    I think it works as a reductio ad absurdum. If atheists are as evil as Ham claims to believe, why has none of us laid a finger on him?

  3. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If atheists are as evil as Ham claims to believe, why has none of us laid a finger on him?

    Nobody wants to catch is his bad case of presuppositional stupid.

  4. Tauriq Moosa says

    Someone told me something similar with this. (For context, please see this.)

    The person said that Tweet was tongue in cheek. I said just because you call it a joke doesn’t mean I have to take it as such, nor would I do if that was my or a loved one’s name, instead of Ms B’s.

    Intention isn’t bloody magic.

  5. kagekiri says

    @4 aziraphale:

    Er, knowing fundies, the simple answer is “Because GOD is protecting me! Therefore he’s real! Suck it, atheists!”

    Really, for any good thing that happens or bad thing that hasn’t happened to a fundie? The automatic response is “therefore God’s real, so suck it atheists!”

  6. says

    Yeah, that’s not helping. I understand the intent, but it was stupid to write it. Theists have so little to hang their god hat on, they’ll take any little thing to point out the perfidy of the godless. We really don’t need to go out of our way to provide a hat rack.

  7. says

    @4 Sure, but it’s easy to make that argument w/o making it a Hannibal Lecter-esque, creepily detailed, direct threat. Here:

    If atheism leads to lack of morality, why aren’t most atheists using any means possible that they can get away with, no final judgement from god to worry about after all, to silence Ken Ham and other particularly troublesome theists?

    Atheists are as innately moral as any theist, and the means to an end matter to moral beings. This note is a prime example of the wrong means to argue reductio ad absurdum, assuming that was the author’s intent (i.e. assuming he wasn’t just trying to scare Ken Ham, or describe how he would actually eat him).

  8. says

    Nope. NOPE. Cannot even.

    There are ways to make light of Ken Ham, and even to mock him, without making unsubtle threats of torture against him. You could easily craft a story where you treat him well, get him to even owe you favors, and then spring on him that you’re an atheist. Or even better, create a fantasy where you do all those things and then never tell him… so that he never even gets to enjoy pretending to be outraged.

    On top of being potentially illegal and very obviously unethical, making these sorts of threats against him are just intellectually lazy.

  9. mobius says

    I agree, this is unacceptable behavior. And it will likely give all those obnoxious fundamentalists that send similar e-mails (just read some of the examples PZ posts on this blog) more “justification” to keep on doing it.

    Unfortunately, this “reviling the other” seems to be a very human thing that even atheists can have a hard time overcoming. Just one more example of tribalism and the behavior it leads to.

  10. ChasCPeterson says

    You know what it isn’t, though?
    Funny.

    Agreed.
    I’ll go further and admit I’ve always felt the same about the baby-eating trope that gets hauled out around here every so often. Has anybody ever actually accused atheists of eating babies? No? (The blood libel vs. Jews is another story.)
    Then what’s funny about it? Never got it.
    Maybe because I love my baby. (she’s 17)

  11. says

    Eh. On the one hand, this was heavy-handed and kind of stupid, but I don’t think it’s enough of a big deal to be worth PZ writing a post about it. Even if you don’t think it’s funny (personally, I don’t, before anyone asks, but humor is definitely a matter of taste), it’s obviously meant to be humor, and I don’t think you can claim there’s any intent to actually harm Ham in it. It’s just a heavy-handed attempt to show that Ham’s ideas are wrong by carrying them to an extreme conclusion. It was also made publicly by a pseudonymous, not anonymous, author, which means it’s clearly not someone trying to claim that they represent everyone when they say what they’re saying. I don’t see how you can claim this as a threat; it’s just free speech, up at the uncomfortable sharp-and-pointy end.

    On the other hand, members of the American Legion have been reacting to Hemant Mehta’s attempts to collect money to replace the money they refused to donate to the local park district because that district was too LGBTQ-friendly. They have, apparently in all seriousness, said atheists should be shot or run out of the country in their forum. Although I haven’t gone looking, particularly, I haven’t seen any bloggers talking about that.

    I know, I know — bloggers like PZ don’t write about it because this sort of thing is par for the course, particularly from right-wing groups like the American Legion, and of course Ham is never going to admit that his fellow-travelers are much worse than the people he criticizes, but honestly I don’t see why we have to help Ham out on this one, since he’s not in serious trouble and he’s not going to reciprocate. As long as he’s not actually being harmed, let the nasty little man fight his own battles. If we’re going to smack down atheists who are behaving poorly towards Christians, let’s work on the ones who really are being nasty and even creepily willing to trespass on private property.

  12. ravenred says

    It could have been phrased so much better…

    “In light of Mr Ham’s views on atheism, I cordially invite him to my cookout in the woods with free massage and heat treatment. My special cast-iron massage receptacle is filled with lovely warm oil (subject to temperature change). Given my lack of any form of Christian morality, it’s safe to assume that anything may happen.”

    Any funnier? Perhaps not. But the problem with the original piece is the incredible lack of subtlety. Tickling taboos and following through the logical extremes of the argument is really Polemics 101, but to feign pleasure in the threat of physical violence towards your opponent is just… yuck.

  13. ChasCPeterson says

    I don’t think it’s enough of a big deal to be worth PZ writing a post about it.

    I’m sure teh ECO will take your thoughts under advisement.
    Shall I tell you what to post on your blob?

  14. says

    @ChasCPeterson:

    I’m sure teh ECO will take your thoughts under advisement.
    Shall I tell you what to post on your blob?

    Go crazy. You can post the comments to my latest entry. (But if they’re off-topic for that post, try to preface them with “You said over at PZ Myers’ blog that I should tell you what to post” so that — on the millions-to-one chance that I get other readers, they won’t think you’re claiming to be responding to the content and therefore literally crazy.)

  15. anteprepro says

    Ick. Very bad joke, and definitely does read as threatening, but also I feel like it couldn’t be read as a sincere threat. It’s a strange muddle in that way. It is just absurd enough to make us feel legitimately sure that the author is not legitimately threatening to do this, but the attempt was botched in that you can still feel some creepiness, some malice.

  16. Lofty says

    Ken Ham doesn’t deserve to be killed and eaten. He deserves to live a long and productive life forced to undo all the damage his daft beliefs have caused. That would rot his socks much more than a quick trip to his imagined heaven after an atheist BBQ.

  17. says

    ankh:

    Poe, isn’t it?

    Oh FFS. Do you possibly have any actual comment to make? No? Then don’t fucking bother. I’m leaning towards all “Oh hey, Poe, ennit?” people getting smacked, hard.

  18. ChasCPeterson says

    Poe? No, it’s not. There’s no way to take it seriously; nobody thinks the guy’s actually a cannibal. It’s attempted satire, but it’s ham-fisted and basically tasteless.

  19. grandolddeity says

    meh.

    Does do a disservice to the notion of a traditional Christmas ham dinner, though.

  20. anteprepro says

    Poe’s Meta Law:
    1. The probability of Poe’s Law being mentioned correlates negatively with the quality of satire and positively with the fulfillment of Voltaire’s prayer.
    2. The probability that Poe’s Law needs to be mentioned is 0.

  21. JohnnieCanuck says

    @25 Chas

    but it’s ham-fisted and basically tasteless

    You did that on purpose, or not? I can’t tell.

  22. Louis says

    I’d normally get off my hindquarters to defend satire, even unpopular/unpleasant satire, but this isn’t good enough for me to bother. I’m not even convinced it is satire even if it is (as it obviously is) humour.

    Carlie in #2 is right, you really have to be very, very good at satire (and most of us aren’t good enough often enough) for it to work well. Even then satire involving violent/controversial matters needs a whole extra level of brilliance and careful use of context to pull off at all, let alone effectively.

    Part of the purpose of satire is to parody the form and rhetoric of the thing/person you are satirising. This fails that test at least. Hammy and chums might rag on we atheists, but he’s not making posts containing violent images of our disposal/treatment that I am aware of. Satire is not merely saying something extreme as a bit of a joke. In this case the joke is, at best, clumsy hyperbole. Hyperbole can be satirical, this isn’t. Satire has a point a meaning, a greater message, it’s not the mere extension of a point to a ridiculous end to refute an existing point, that is hyperbole. (Reductio ad absurdum is a logical fallacy/form of argument, not a mode of humour)

    That said, I’m not going to condemn this overly either. Ham and assorted similar chaps and chappesses are simply dishonest. They will seize ANYTHING they can to claim persecution/whatever their axe du jour is, regardless of its basis in fact. Is this crass and does it play easily into the hands of Ham and sundry dishonest religious nitwits? Of course it does. But then what doesn’t? We’ve endless examples of these people ripping things from all context and meaning for their own ends, one more really isn’t much. It’s called “taking offence” for a reason. Criticising this guy for ham (haha) handedness and poor taste is fair enough, but as own goals go, this is not a big example. For me, given the disingenousness of Ham and chums, criticising this borders, though not completely, on tone/taste criticism.

    Why do I say “not a big own goal” etc? Because there isn’t, so far as I am aware, a problem with atheists issuing death threats to Ken Ham. There is no reasonable suspicion that the author in this instance is anything other than foolishly joking. The context for taking such a joke, crappy as it is, seriously is lacking. And, however bad, in bad taste, poorly done etc it is, it is obviously and without any reasonable doubt a joke, a piece of humour. Of course “ha ha only joking” is no defence (excuse) for anything, but it is an explanation of something, part of the context that informs us about a thing. Ham has no legitimate reason to be or feel threatened by this, unless, as I said, he is under a reasonable barrage of threats to his life or has some reasonable expectation that this is a genuine (veiled?) threat. In which case that does change the context markedly and renders this more than merely foolish.

    Contrast this with a different context; women receiving rape/death threats from men. In that context there is a huge problem with such jokes (and “jokes”). Why? Because there is a problem with many, many men making genuine rape/death threats to women for a variety of nefarious reasons. Those jokes in that context have a far higher bar of “innocence” to demonstrate than this possibly could do. Yes they both have the same/similar “form” (use of violent imagery to make a humorous point) but they lack the same context and context is king.

    Context is what moves things along the ever-shifting spectrum of grey. I think there is room for rational, reasonable disagreement about the specific shade of grey jokes of this form occupy because I think there are different contexts in which they are made. I think rational, reasonable people can educate themselves about the relevant contexts and move their view of an individual joke along the spectrum accordingly. Hence why such a joke would affect me differently than it would PZ. We both have reasonably similar levels of societal privilege I imagine, but due to his prominence and my obscurity, he actually gets death threats, I don’t. Such a joke to PZ is further from a joke than it is for me. It’s a “joke”, possibly a credible veiled thread, definitely a contribution to an sustained experience of harassment.

    Unless, of course, the claim is being made that jokes of such a form, involving such topics can never be made effectively or without problem, and thus should never be made. But then I disagree so powerfully I’m not sure there’s room for dialogue. I think such a claim underestimates the abilities of human beings to modulate their decisions based on context entirely and is a form of fundamentalist, rule based, non-thought. I think such a claim is logically and ethically unsupportable based on any ethical system I’m close to.

    Oops I’ve digressed! Apologies for broadening the discussion a bit. Sure this joke is in the negative column. Sure it’s a fuck up, an own goal. I think PZ’s response is about right: “Guys Please don’t do this.”* A reasonable response to a minor bit of fuckwittery. Does the internet explode now?

    Louis

    *Although the stricken response was to a far more serious instance of fuckwittery in my view.

  23. Artor says

    This is a really shitty idea from the get-go. I mean, can you imagine how foul Ken Ham must taste? DO NOT WANT!

  24. says

    I don’t think it’s enough of a big deal to be worth PZ writing a post about it

    Good thing it’s PZ’s blog, then.

    I’m just as upset that someone would engage in disturbing fantasies like this regarding Ham as I would be if they were about Rebecca Watson or Thunderfool or PZ or anyone. I think this is one of those places where the “how would you feel if the target was you, or your sister or child or best friend?” rule applies.

    It’s not funny and one of the ways to reduce this kind of thing is to speak out against it.

  25. Louis says

    Marcus,

    I’m just as upset that someone would engage in disturbing fantasies like this regarding Ham as I would be if they were about Rebecca Watson or Thunderfool or PZ or anyone. I think this is one of those places where the “how would you feel if the target was you, or your sister or child or best friend?” rule applies.

    Out of ten:

    Me: 0

    My Sister: Well for one my brother would be very surprised to learn he was my sister, but my fictional sister: 5+ (given background “threats to women” context)

    My Child: 0 (Context of genuine threats is absent)

    My Best Friend: -1 (If someone is willing to eat him, they’ll have to catch him first, slippery bastard)

    YMMV. (Which I think is a very important point here, this is partially a matter of taste. De gustibus non est disputandum)

    Louis

  26. says

    I’m just as upset that someone would engage in disturbing fantasies like this regarding Ham as I would be if they were about Rebecca Watson or Thunderfool or PZ or anyone. I think this is one of those places where the “how would you feel if the target was you, or your sister or child or best friend?” rule applies.

    It’s not funny and one of the ways to reduce this kind of thing is to speak out against it.

    There’s an old joke which Abbott and Costello used; Costello says something insulting about Sid Fields’ character, which is followed by the exchange:

    Sid Fields: If you were my son, I'd give you a licking!
    Costello: Melonhead, if you was my father, I'd take it!

    Were this to happen in reverse, I’d certainly shrug it off if the “target” were me or my sister or best friend or PZ Myers or Rebecca Watson, because this isn’t a fantasy, you goop. It’s a bad attempt at humor, and obviously so. Only someone who is strenuously looking for a reason to be offended could pretend this was anything like a serious threat; rather than a serious threat, it’s a random insulting comment from the Internet from someone who isn’t a very good writer, and anyone who can’t handle that had best stay off the Internet entirely, because the text portion of the Internet is about 95% that sort of thing by volume.

    I’d be very slightly concerned if it was my child, depending on how old my child was supposed to be; if they were adolescent or younger I might worry that they might be inexperienced enough to take it seriously. If they were high school age or above, I’d only be concerned if they took it seriously, because it would mean that either my poor fictional child was feeble-minded or my parenting had completely failed, because they were unable to recognize a sarcastic exaggeration.

    As for it “not being funny”, well, lots of things on the Internet aren’t funny. So what? This wasn’t funny, but it was a valid piece of satire, attempting to point out Ken Ham’s bad and hypocritical positions, which means it had more reason to exist than an awful lot of other things which aren’t funny. If we’re going to start insisting that things go away because they’re in questionable taste and not funny to some portion of the population, then let’s start by eliminating every single thing on TV.

  27. Azuma Hazuki says

    Sorry PZ, but I like it. I like it a lot. And I like it a lot because a) it is a rather capable reductio ad absurdum and b) Ken Ham believes huge numbers of people deserve this for all of eternity.

    I have no tolerance for the hellfire and brimstone crowd. Nothing, nothing any of us can say along the lines of the OP here can equal the smallest part of what they believe anyone not in their in-group deserves. Fuck them.

    Hopefully someday someone manages to break a hellfire-pimp’s mind with repeated images of the horror they believe and cause a deconversion, but I’m not counting on it. Still don’t mind finding all sorts of interesting and creative ways to try though. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  28. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Nope, that wasn’t funny. A sloppy attempt at satire.

  29. says

    Disgusting, plain and simple

    Chas

    I’ll go further and admit I’ve always felt the same about the baby-eating trope that gets hauled out around here every so often.

    There’s a difference between people ironically making fun of themselves (and given that us pro-choice people are regularly accused of being baby-murderers, the meme has its basis in reality) and this.

    The Vicar
    The standard you walk past….

  30. says

    @#36, Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-:

    The standard you walk past….

    O RLY?

    If we’re going to start talking about passive support for bad attitudes, why don’t we talk about trying to get people to self-censor their speech to please groups which are already privileged? Because that’s what you’re advocating, here.

    If someone came in and started saying that, for example, Caine — who has had some very bad experiences — had to stop writing denunciations of rape culture because she was being too heavy-handed and sarcastic, and her jokes were coming across as bitter instead of funny, you would — I hope, and indeed presume — jump to her defense. I fail to see why, when it’s an atheist writing about religion instead, you suddenly decide that the topic has to be treated seriously and with great respect.

    I was a member of the ACLU long before I was an atheist, and when I see people demanding censorship — which is implicitly what you’re doing; the person who wrote that paragraph broke no laws, and in light of the fact that cannibalism is extraordinarily rare I don’t think you can plausibly claim it constituted a threat — it always raises an eyebrow, even when I ultimately agree. If you’re going to start demanding that atheists should only have Free Speech when it’s “tasteful” (which is as much as to say: “pleasing to the religious”), then just come out and say so, because that deserves withering contempt no matter what the subject matter is. There’s a political cartoon by Theodore Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) — which unfortunately seems to be one of the few not available online — showing a field of men walking across field, thumbing their noses at an enormous, affronted Hitler; one of them carries a banner which says “As Long As Men Can Do This, They Are Free!” With this sentiment, I very much agree. What does it say about you that you seem to want everyone to give up that right?

  31. says

    The Vicar

    If we’re going to start talking about passive support for bad attitudes, why don’t we talk about trying to get people to self-censor their speech to please groups which are already privileged? Because that’s what you’re advocating, here.

    If someone came in and started saying that, for example, Caine — who has had some very bad experiences — had to stop writing denunciations of rape culture because she was being too heavy-handed and sarcastic, and her jokes were coming across as bitter instead of funny, you would — I hope, and indeed presume — jump to her defense. I fail to see why, when it’s an atheist writing about religion instead, you suddenly decide that the topic has to be treated seriously and with great respect.

    WTF?
    How dare you compare Caine’s harsh but pointed fight against rape culture with this bullshit where somebody publicly indulges in murder-fantasies?
    If you haven’t noticed, that kind of behaviour is deeply frowned upon right here, no matter who the target is. Because nobody deserves that shit.
    How dare you to drag Caine into this?
    How. Dare. You?

  32. says

    The Vicar:

    I see people demanding censorship — which is implicitly what you’re doing; the person who wrote that paragraph broke no laws

    Giliell’s saying “Disgusting, plain and simple” is not “demanding censorship”. Nor is PZ’s saying “That’s…unpleasant. It’s threatening. [And] it isn’t funny”. And nor is saying “please don’t do this” or “find better jokes, that one is not funny”.

    “The Arm Chair Pontificator” has the right to write what he has written, and everyone else has the right to say “you are not helping” and “don’t write stuff like that”.

    This does not have to do with religion being given privilege. This does not have to do with being “tasteful”.

    This is simply that it is not cool to describe a real person’s being tortured and murdered as if you consider it a positive thing – even if it is intended as satire, and especially if you’re doing it strictly for the lolz and to lure people into reacting (which is the stated intention of the piece). This holds regardless of the person concerned.

  33. Nick Gotts says

    I don’t like The Vicar very much. – SallyStrange@40

    Nor me, but he is rather useful, in much the same way as Ken Ham: whenever he expresses an opinion, you can adopt its negation without a moment’s thought, and have a well over 90% chance of being right!

  34. Al Dente says

    Censorship is not saying “please don’t do this” when someone describes killing another person.

  35. knowknot says

    # 15 (& bla bla etc)

    Eh. On the one hand, this was heavy-handed and kind of stupid, but I don’t think it’s enough of a big deal to be worth PZ writing a post about it.

    - PZ! PZ! You shouldn’t have wrote these post you sometimes post! They all in my eyes now! Even through not caring lids!
    - What are you defending, anyway, and aren’t you being at least a little DUCK DYNASTY about this? The writer is perfectly free to go on endlessly; no one is suggesting censorship, and the suggestion to say something better does not necessarily equivalent to the terrible specter of self censorship.

    Even if you don’t think it’s funny (personally, I don’t, before anyone asks, but humor is definitely a matter of taste)

    - I don’t think anyone was going to ask. Ever. But yes, humor is a matter of taste, much like suggested violence and pointlessly bombastic crap. Because they’re becoming more and more indistinguishable. Which is some shard of the point.

    it’s obviously meant to be humor, and I don’t think you can claim there’s any intent to actually harm Ham in it.

    - One beautiful response to this, which, for any imagination-having person, requires little addition:
    # 7, Tauriq Moosa

    Intention isn’t bloody magic.

    - The posssibly related phrase “just kidding” is, in my experience, most often spoken by those who either aren’t quite completely, and/or people who should, by that point in their lives, know that shutting up in certain situations is useful, at a minimum. Because they keep screwing it up.

    I don’t see why we have to help Ham out on this one, since he’s not in serious trouble and he’s not going to reciprocate. As long as he’s not actually being harmed, let the nasty little man fight his own battles.

    - I grew up with that precise attitude. What it equates to there was “issues of decency, rudeness, or ‘humorous’ threat don’t concern me, because America, and sticks and stones and stuff, and anyway, people who think words mean anything are all queer anyway.”
    - And who is suggesting that anyone “help Ham out?” The suggestion seems more like “don’t be a creep,” “don’t be a counter productive creep,” “don’t be a pedestrian / immature tit-for-tat creep,” or perhaps “don’t be a can’t-think-of-a-meaningful-way-to-vent-my-all-too-common-spleen creep.
    - I’ll leave off any comments regarding “better angels (or dragonflies, or whatever) of our nature” because America, and words and stuff.

    - But really, the curious thing is your need to defend (or whatever you’re doing), given that there is no semblance of a free speech issue here. As in the whole Duck Dynasty thing, again.

  36. knowknot says

    And ooh!!! I just discovered the VERY obvious “preview” button, which will allow me to check blockquote fails before intervention is needed. Thankfully, I’m used to being the slowest kid in the room.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The Vicar@ far too many posts to care:
    Censure is not censorship. The post PZ refers to is clumsy, ill-thought-out and lame in addition to playing on the fears of our opponents. It accomplishes nothing AND it reflects badly on atheists–a group with whom I identify. I do not identify with the American Legion, so their idle, cowardly threats against me do not cast aspersions on any group I care about.

    As to your example invoking Caine:
    1)If Caine were to say something that was as over the top and hare-brained as this “satire”, I would suggest that she reconsider. That does not amount to censorship.
    2)Her opposition to patriarchy, rape culture and intolerance do quite the opposite. I applaud them and aspire to approach the same level of commitment and eloquence she achieves routinely
    3)Please feel free to go fuck yourself.

  38. says

    What the guy wrote was tongue in cheek. He followed Ken’s logic to it’s absurdist conclusions. You don’t find it funny? Fine. But then again, PZ, you are a scientist, not a comedian. Comedy isn’t science and you were wrong to flatly state this is not funny. Especially since this is something very similar to what Stephen Colbert would do on his show.

    Now to criticize your motivations for posting this. Guess what, you pompous prick. You don’t represent atheists, nor do atheists represent you. Stick to science and go fuck yourself with your fruitless crusade to improve humanity. This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

  39. nich says

    At first I was also in the “What’s the big deal” camp but then I thought about it further. This smacks of “Well you said all men were rapists so how about I…” bullshit followed by a “Well GOSH I was trying to SATIRIZE the other side, cantcha take a joke” bullshit response. Just because you and your little buddies see it as non-threatening does not mean the intended target is going to be in on your shitty joke. Sort of like how no woman wants to read graphic descriptions of disgusting crap posted by some Slymepit denizen under the bullshit guise of a joke, I really doubt Ken Ham wants to read “satire” by some cut-rate Swift about being boiled in hot oil and cannibalized by an atheist. Making your opponents angry is one thing, but making them squirm uncomfortably is quite another.

  40. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Stick to science and go fuck yourself with your fruitless crusade to improve humanity. This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

    Gee, more attitude without evidence. Where have we seen this before in the atheist community? Amongst those who hate half the population. And they aren’t funny, just pitiful.

  41. nich says

    @46:

    Especially since this is something very similar to what Stephen Colbert would do on his show.

    VERY similar, you fucking douche? What fucking show have you been watching? HAR HAR. Ted Cruise sed that teh gayz are bad parents so I say we adopt some kidz from Texas and abuze them cuz thats what they said teh gayz do! GIMMME A PEABODY!!!

    Fuckhead.

  42. tsig says

    PZ is looking hypocritical on this one since desecrating the Eucharist is a far worse crime than boiling Ham in oil.

  43. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PZ is looking hypocritical on this one since desecrating the Eucharist is a far worse crime than boiling Ham in oil.

    How exactly, does this comparison of a inanimate object compare to a real person work? I fail to see your logic.

  44. says

    Bryan Leger:

    Stick to science and go fuck yourself with your fruitless crusade to improve humanity.

    You are opposed to efforts to improve human society, in addition to excusing people who say harmful things explicitly for no reason other than “for the lolz”? That is distressing.

    And do you view all efforts to improve human society as “fruitless”? Because there is fortunately quite a lot of evidence that that is false.

    This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

    You are a liar. Publicly available metrics (Alexa, Quantcast)* will inform you that both the number of unique visitors (~400,000/month – note that that’s not the same as the number of people viewing the content) and the number of page views (~4,000,000/month) for this site have remained roughly constant for the last two years, following a few months of audience ramp-up. There have been a large number of spikes and temporary drops in traffic, but that is expected given the different responses to different pieces of content.

    *Those metrics may not be accurate, but to say so would require the actual FTB host server logs.

  45. says

    I have no tolerance for the hellfire and brimstone crowd. Nothing, nothing any of us can say along the lines of the OP here can equal the smallest part of what they believe anyone not in their in-group deserves. Fuck them.

    Hmm I never thought about it that way before.

  46. Louis says

    I am amused by mild critiques of moderately foolish action provoking overwrought outbursts from the Pitizens/Pitizen-esques. (I confess I am also amused by mild differences in taste producing overwrought responses from anyone. I’m sure you can live with my amusement.)

    Guys don’t do that —> ZOMG MAN HATING FEMINAZI CENSORSHIP!

    Please don’t do this —> ZOMG FREEZEPEACH FUNNY HATING CENSORSHIP!

    Why, it’s like mild disagreements about minor (largely subjective) matters are somehow good reason to chuck teddy from pram.

    Louis

    P.S. This:

    This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

    from Bryan Leger is hilarious. FtB is simultaneously dying, irrelevant and sufficiently influential to prevent FWEEDUM LUVVIN Slymistas from having TWOO SCEPTISCHIZUM. Coherency, how does that work? When will this pathetic tribalist, team sport attitude end? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

  47. jnorris says

    Mr Ham and his like have gladly told any and all atheists that we will burn for an eternity in Hell to the joyful amusement of True Christians(tm), all thanks to their Loving God. Daydreaming of Mr Ham being braised for a few hours seems trivial.

  48. says

    The Vicar:

    If someone came in and started saying that, for example, Caine — who has had some very bad experiences — had to stop writing denunciations of rape culture because she was being too heavy-handed and sarcastic, and her jokes were coming across as bitter instead of funny, you would — I hope, and indeed presume — jump to her defense.

    I don’t require anyone to jump to my defense. Why? Because if I do something stupid or wrong, I expect people to call me out on it, and I do the intelligent thing: I consider what people say, and if I did indeed do something stupid or wrong, I apologize and don’t do it again. As I wrote in another thread, speech has consequences. If my speech (or writing) is stupid, wrong, or harmful, it’s my responsibility to deal with the consequences. Also, I don’t joke about rape. Ever. I certainly do not appreciate the implication that I do joke about it.

    That said, I have no idea whatsoever as to why I got dragged into your screed. I do not like you, The Vicar. After having read your opinions and ideas on a number of topics, you come across as a close-minded asshole who holds onto a foolish notion as if it were the most precious thing in the world. So don’t use me as an example again. If you must have an example to illustrate your point, use yourself.

  49. says

    jnorris

    Mr Ham and his like have gladly told any and all atheists that we will burn for an eternity in Hell to the joyful amusement of True Christians(tm), all thanks to their Loving God. Daydreaming of Mr Ham being braised for a few hours seems trivial.

    1. Hell isn’t real
    2. Ken Ham is real. People getting tortured and burned to death is real.
    3. Decent people are not against horrible things because they like the target of the attack. Decent people are against horrible things because they are horrible regardless who’s the target.
    4. Go play with Ham if that’s the level of moral discourse you’re at.

  50. knowknot says

    # 46

    What the guy wrote was tongue in cheek.

    - If you had the comedic sense you accuse others of lacking, you’d have seen how funny this is in light of the piece in question.
    - Please come back and say you did. Please.

    He followed Ken’s logic to it’s absurdist conclusions.

    - There was logic to follow? What are you talking about?
    - Please come back and accuse everyone of not being logicians. Please.
    - And absurdist? Interesting, in that it makes nasty, violent people into “absurdists.” Wonder if they’ll get a pay raise.

    You don’t find it funny? Fine. But then again, PZ, you are a scientist, not a comedian. Comedy isn’t science and you were wrong to flatly state this is not funny.

    - It’s always wrong to say something isn’t funny. In certain circles. Circles in which slave, rape, and child abuse and profound physical injury are funny.

    Especially since this is something very similar to what Stephen Colbert would do on his show.

    - Who isn’t the comedian now? Safe to say “Comedy isn’t (your profession here) and you were wrong” re anything that’s ever occurred on Stephen Colbert’s show. I’ve never seen him to be vile, retributive, or suggestively violent.
    - Tone deaf. Actually, make that just plain deaf.

    Now to criticize your motivations for posting this.

    - Announce yourself. Otherwise no one will see it coming. (Though my completely uninformed guess is that this is only true for people who have been in your presence for under 5 minutes.)

    Guess what, you pompous prick.

    - Pompous? Sounds like this is a pimples that’s been trying to burst for some time.

    You don’t represent atheists,

    - Please represent for us. Step on up.

    nor do atheists represent you.

    - Um… what? Oh wait. This is actually a instructive thing; a lesson for me to step up to. Makes me feel a bit contrite about the whole “I’m not PZ Myers, but I think he’d say…” I did at Thanksgiving dinner. Never again.

    Stick to science and go fuck yourself with your fruitless crusade to improve humanity.

    - Fruitless crusades to improve humanity are so sad. Especially in their tendency to attract the anger of vegetables, the position being open and all.

    This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

    - Hearse chaser.

  51. knowknot says

    # 59

    1. Hell isn’t real
    2. Ken Ham is real. People getting tortured and burned to death is real.
    3. Decent people are not against horrible things because they like the target of the attack. Decent people are against horrible things because they are horrible regardless who’s the target.
    4. Go play with Ham if that’s the level of moral discourse you’re at.

    Huge respect for this. Huge.

  52. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Bryan Leger,
    I realize it is pointless to suggest that you try to transform yourself into a semblance of a decent human being. Could we at least get you to try and learn how to use punctuation and write a coherent English sentence? Pretty please?

  53. tsig says

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

    Sorry, still don’t see it. A cracker is a cracker is a cracker. What delusional fools think the cracker represents is utterly and totally irrelevant to a real live person. Why do you keep thinking otherwise? Other than you must find something to criticize PZ for.

  55. Gregory Greenwood says

    I am amazed that anyone is even trying to defend this creepy murder fantasy. Whenever fundies engage in equivalent behaviour, they are excoriated for it, and justly so. It is hardly reasonable to create one standard for them and another for ourselves.

    Anyone with a functional sense of ethics should be able to grasp that this kind of thing is repugnant no matter who is doing it, and no matter who the target is.

  56. chigau (違う) says

    tsig #64

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

    You do not appear to be a Catholic.

  57. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

    Catholics don’t believe that god can be hurt. The ones I know believe that people can. None of the ones I know would sacrifice their lives to protect a wafer, however glorified and transubstantiated it might be. Many would sacrifice their lives for another person. So you are just wrong on this.

  58. HappyNat says

    tsig,

    You seem to have trouble telling the difference between reality and fantasy. Ken Ham is a real person. A cracker, no matter how delicious, is not really Jesus.

  59. Gregory Greenwood says

    tsig @ 64;

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

    Many Catholics also believe that all non-Catholics are condemned to eternal hellfire after their death, that homosexuality is an ‘objective’ moral wrong and corrosive to society, and that it is the will of their god that women have no right to bodily autonomy with regard to their fertility and thus to self determination, and are in effect no more than disposeable brood-mares.

    All common Catholic beliefs. All deeply and sincerely held. It doesn’t actually mean any of them are in any kind of accordance with reality though, does it?

    And what about other deeply held religious beliefs? Should we avoid calling Scientology bad science fiction with regard to all its weirdness about ‘Thetans’ since such opinions would doubtlessly hurt the feelings of some true believers (TM)? How about the Mormons? Should we refrain from mocking their curious habits with regard to underwear? Should we quietly agree never again to mention the less than ethically spotless aspects of Joseph Smith’s life? And all to spare their precious feelings? Or is it only the big, successful cults that count for some reason?

    We are not responsible for the beliefs and delusions of others, and cannot be expected to live our lives in order to avoid offending sensibilities based upon the notional will of an undetectable magic man in the sky.

    This is all a far cry from someone fantasing about the torture and murder of another human being; things that are sadly all to real – and indeed common place – all over the world.

  60. Gregory Greenwood says

    Bryan Leger @ 46;

    Stick to science and go fuck yourself with your fruitless crusade to improve humanity.

    You really consider the effort to better humanity to be pointless? How sad for you.

    I am curious though – if free thought is not applied to the betterment of our species – if it is all some idle, abstract exercise undertaken just because – then what value is there in it? If it is all fruitless, then why bother with the rigors of free thought over the easy answers of religious belief systems?

    For progressive atheists, the arrogant, self-absorbed thrill of merely being ‘right’ in a vacuum is not enough. Some of us actually care about the future and well being of our fellow human beings, and want to use the knowledge offered by science and the intellectual freedom afforded by casting off the shackles of religion to do our part, however small, in making this world a better place for everyone. That you consider this such heinous character flaw speaks volumes about you, and little of it is good.

  61. says

    @66

    I am amazed that anyone is even trying to defend this creepy murder fantasy. Whenever fundies engage in equivalent behaviour, they are excoriated for it, and justly so. It is hardly reasonable to create one standard for them and another for ourselves.

    Anyone with a functional sense of ethics should be able to grasp that this kind of thing is repugnant no matter who is doing it, and no matter who the target is.

    So basically if something fails to creep me out but it creeps you out then I am immoral. Good to know.

    Maybe I’ve been exposed to a lot of things you haven’t, and this barely registers as creepy or disturbing.

    Maybe I know that context is what determines if something is a threat, not content, and have decided that the context indicates a benign communication. A love letter is a threat if its from a pedophile to a child, right? “It would be too bad if you fell down a flight of stairs” might be an inside joke between friends. I am incapable of seeing the message as actually threatening, and I don’t see a problem with exploring gory fantasies in a safe manner (like writing it down).

  62. says

    As per usual, Ham and bad eggs spout the usual hypocrisy:

    (1) If a christian makes threats, “He’s not a christian”, or “It was a joke”.

    (2) If a single atheist makes a threat, “They’re all threatening me!”, “They’re all murderers!”

  63. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Skeptifem,
    Change the target. What if this were directed at a black man in the South? What if it were directed against a woman? What if it were directed against a Jew by Neonazis?

    You may claim that because Ham is of a privileged class that he should just “get over it”. Nonetheless, Xtians do have a lot of fear of persecution (imaginary, yes, but real in their minds), and this plays into it. Dehumanization seems to always begin with people “just joking”. It’s just as wrong when the target is despicable.

  64. ChasCPeterson says

    it is a rather capable reductio ad absurdum

    I’m not seeing it. What is being reductioed?

    There’s a difference between people ironically making fun of themselves (and given that us pro-choice people are regularly accused of being baby-murderers, the meme has its basis in reality) and this.

    I do no dispute your principal point–I agree there is a difference. But the meme in question has never been about us pro-choice people being called murderers. It’s always been about atheits eating babies. At any rate, I clearly labeled my comment as a personal opinion, and I don’t require or expect others to share it. Just not funny, to me.

    This is why freethoughtblogs is near death.

    Now that’s satire!
    right? it is, isn;t it?

    Actually, make that just plain deaf.

    Please don’t do this.

  65. Sastra says

    By the way, there is a follow up to the original post over at the Arm Chair Pontificator. He is delighted to have gotten Ham’s attention, ignores the ruckus on Pharyngula, and further elucidates what he did and why he did it and why he’ll do it again.

    I’d gone to his blog with a link to this post, along with a friendly suggestion that his attempt at satire could have been improved. He didn’t post my comment but explains why he never posts such comments (he doesn’t care and we don’t get it) so I’ve no complaint I guess. As he says, it’s his personal blog and his personal agenda.

    tsig #64 wrote:

    For Catholics the Eucharist is Christ so what PZ did was desecrating god which is much worse than deep fat frying a human.

    This analogy doesn’t work because the point of Crackergate was to emphasize the disconnect between the deed and the outrage. Catholics were confusing a symbol with a person — and demanding that others respect this and basically do the same. Inspiredbythedivine1, however, was demonstrating the hypothetical consequences of Ham’s moral arguments in order to show the disconnect with reality (yes, he claims he was only trying to ‘piss people off’ in a ‘childish revenge game’ but that’s probably more ‘bait’ so I’ll grant him more credit, whether he likes it or not.)

    If the Armchair Pontificator actually DID take a bite out of Ken Ham and then insist that the physical act is no big deal then the analogy would hold. But he’s doing the opposite: the premise that ‘cannibalism is bad’ is implicitly assumed in order for the satire to work.

    I still think it could have been done better, in a way which didn’t lead to each side gloating that the other one stepped right into a trap. But at least they’re both happy.

  66. Tom C says

    “That’s…unpleasant. It’s threatening. It is allowing a fundamentalist creationist claim the moral high ground.

    You know what it isn’t, though?

    Funny.”

    I’ll tell you what isn’t funny: Not having my pot of cooking oil ready sooner so I could swing my sick morally deficient self over here and pick a fight. I’ve decided I’ll eat Ham on Easter instead of Christmas ( Ham is more of an Easter dish) and eat Pat Robertson this Christmas instead. I’ll toss in a few Christian infants for flavoring and, BAM! A delicious Christmas meal is ready to eat. OOPS! Was that uncalled for and childish of me to say? OH NO, please don’t tell me that wasn’t funny either? I’ll cry. You just seem to be so wise and smart and all. And little old me? Why I didn’t find anything fun at all when Christians would point out how morally sick I am, and how I have no control over my basest impulses because I fail to see evidence for a god existing, correction for JESUS existing as my god. Well one day little ‘ole nonbeliever me realized, “Fuck Ma! Day is right! Yer little old boy has no sense anymore that killin’ and rapin’ and cannibalizin’ are nasty no-nos. So, I started living the as the person they told me I am. I’m tellin’ this too: I loves to irritate folks! Why you wise and smart folk dat think I ain’t funny and I ain’t no Johnathan Swift well you be right there! I ain’t tryin’ to be funny. I’m trying to be scary, like Hannibal Lecture. Only unlike him, I’ll cook you alive slowly in oil before I eat you. (sorry for the poor grammar and lack of morality. I’m so not funny and so crude that I sometimes revert to my caveman self because I’m thinking about eating you tomorrow- OOPS! sorry. I was crude again). Oh shit. I just realized something. I hope the atheist cause isn’t be hurt be my lack of tact and cannibalism. Shit. I’m sorry. Oh wait I really don’t give a shit. That’s why I came on here. I hate having wit battles with Christians. Boring as shit and i always win. I like to make people look silly and turn their comments right back at ‘em if they want to do the “he ain’t no fucking Johnathan Swift” kind of bullshit. You may even be right and me wrong about something but I will still make you feel small., mainly because your genitals ARE small and that makes it easy, but also because I have become the monster they said I am and I get a big woody every time I get to bug someone. I’m bugging you ain’t I? Say yes, my friend, our I’ll eat you. I’m serious fella! I mean it! I WOULD NEVER JOKE ABOUT THAT. Wheww! Hew! Man that felt nice. See you later homie. Hope wasn’t crude on purpose or anything. BTW, I’m kidding. No. Not really. If you cheese me off, I’ll boil you alive and eat you.

  67. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Tom C,

    I only skimmed your wall of text, since it seemed repetitive and boring… but you seem like a particularly stupid asshole.
    You should really fix that.

  68. Gregory Greenwood says

    skeptifem @ 72;

    So basically if something fails to creep me out but it creeps you out then I am immoral. Good to know.

    I have difficulty with seeing dehumanising murder fantasies as being OK, no matter how repugnant the target may be. The fact that Ham is a privileged, narcissistic jerk is not enough to make me consider him fair game for this. Your mileage may vary, but I have yet to see a single argument on this thread that would convince me that dehumanisation is suddenly acceptable so long as we can declare the target to be a ‘bad guy’ or otherwise somehow notionally deserving of it.

    Maybe I’ve been exposed to a lot of things you haven’t, and this barely registers as creepy or disturbing.

    Like I say, your mileage may vary, but I cannot speak to that. And no matter what your experience may be, does it ever make it acceptable to create a clear double standard where it is OK to ‘joke’ about torturing, murdering and cannabalising some people but not others? I cannot see how that works, but perhaps that is simply a product of my differing experiences.

    Maybe I know that context is what determines if something is a threat, not content, and have decided that the context indicates a benign communication. A love letter is a threat if its from a pedophile to a child, right? “It would be too bad if you fell down a flight of stairs” might be an inside joke between friends. I am incapable of seeing the message as actually threatening, and I don’t see a problem with exploring gory fantasies in a safe manner (like writing it down).

    And in what context is ‘I would like to abduct, torture, murder and then cannabalise you’ somehow transmuted into ‘just a joke’? Don’t you see how that has uncomfortable resonances with certain other online atheists who like to make threatening comments online and then just laugh them off by saying ‘it’s just a joke, get a sense of humour’? Obviously Ham belongs to a privileged social group, and so the effect is less toxic then it is when aimed at marginalised groups, but that is not the same thing as it being somehow harmless.

    A_ray_in_dilbert_space says it very well @ 74;

    Dehumanization seems to always begin with people “just joking”. It’s just as wrong when the target is despicable.

  69. says

    In my opinion, it’s not good satire. I’m no Jonathan Swift, but I do try to involve a level of social commentary in what I write. The approach the writer takes is really unintentional satire of himself; “Look at how little thought I put into what I write!” Satire should say more about the subject than the writer, this fails that test miserably.

  70. jnorris says

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- at #59
    For Mr Ham:
    1. Hell is real.
    2. Religious and sexual minorities are gleefully condemned there for eternity.
    3. Doing so is considered righteous, moral, godly, and just with bible verses to boot.

    The Arm Chair Pontificator’s little wet dream is worlds different from the actual atrocities carried out by persons like Mr Ham. Atrocities committed within the living memories of survivors or family members.

    I do not know ACP, I only hope he is not a murderer. I also know there are people like Mr Ham who have no problem with helping those condemned by a loving God to Hell, real or imagined.

  71. says

    jnorris

    I do not know ACP, I only hope he is not a murderer. I also know there are people like Mr Ham who have no problem with helping those condemned by a loving God to Hell, real or imagined.

    So what?
    I don’t give a shit about what Ken Ham believes about any afterlife that doesn’t exist anyway.
    I don’t believe in gods, heavens, hells, nirvanas or invisible teapots.
    What I do care about is this world and in this world a vivid torture and murder phantasy always has a net negative effect. Ken Ham may be a despicable human being, a piece of shit and all around asshole.
    I am not.
    Therefore I do not wish anybody to be harmed.
    And it doesn’t only have an effect on Ken Ham.
    Some people liek you are OK with that shit. You normalize it, you become self-righteous, not unlike Ken Ham. And history has known too many of those things that started “as a joke”. And it has a silencing effect on those who are actualla affected by torture and murder phantasies. No matter what they want to say, they will think twice about saying it.
    You still fail.

  72. Holms says

    #77
    Why I didn’t find anything fun at all when Christians would point out how morally sick I am, and how I have no control over my basest impulses because I fail to see evidence for a god existing, correction for JESUS existing as my god.

    So, I started living the as the person they told me I am.

    If you reject their ridiculous moralising and condemnation of you, don’t write shit that seems to prove them right. If you reject their atrocious behaviour, don’t fucking emulate it.

  73. Chaos Engineer says

    Fine. But then again, PZ, you are a scientist, not a comedian. Comedy isn’t science and you were wrong to flatly state this is not funny. Especially since this is something very similar to what Stephen Colbert would do on his show.

    Dr. Myers isn’t a comedian, but he’s certainly a member of the audience. Don’t you think that members of the audience have the right to give feedback to a performer? How will a novice performer ever get better without feedback from an audience?

    You’re right that other comedians do this sort of transgressive humor, but transgressive humor is hard to do right. Here are some of the mistakes I think he made:

    1) Ken Ham is both the villain and the victim of the story, which makes it incoherent. It would have been better to put him entirely in the villain role: “Ken Ham says that atheists have no reason to behave morally. He’s seems pretty confident, so he must know what he’s talking about. I guess I should go burn down an orphanage and see if I like it.”

    2) The hyperbole needed to be more over-the-top. If it had been an impossible comic-book-style fantasy involving elaborate clockwork mechanisms and a shark tank it could have been less unfunny, but as it stands it’s similar to murders that have actually taken place in the real world, which makes it kind of creepy, especially since the victim is a specific named person.

    3) The torture fantasy was too vividly detailed for a general audience. It’s OK to use that style of transgressive humor if the audience is expecting it (“The Aristocrats!”). But it’s rude and vulgar to use it in an public forum with no warning.

  74. Marc Abian says

    #66

    I am amazed that anyone is even trying to defend this creepy murder fantasy.

    I’m amazed that anyone thinks it’s a murder fantasy. It’s clearly not a threat at all.

    #83

    And in what context is ‘I would like to abduct, torture, murder and then cannabalise you’ somehow transmuted into ‘just a joke’?

    It’s not quite a joke. It’s a point. To answer your question: the context where Mr. Ham took the time to remind the writer of how evil and nasty he is just because he doesn’t believe in god. Taking that to its conclusion, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect an atheist to eat Ken Ham. But when we see someone claim to plan on doing just that, we don’t believe it because it’s stupid. And now we see that Mr. Ham’s premise is stupid, Christmas is saved, enemies become friends and everyone gets a second helping of pie.

  75. Marc Abian says

    1) Ken Ham is both the villain and the victim of the story, which makes it incoherent.

    I think that makes it better. It’s irony.

    The torture fantasy was too vividly detailed for a general audience.

    I agree with this. Over on cracked.com they have a rule that no one pitches an article about X craziest torture devices, because every time it was attempted it just ended up being depressing and unpleasant instead of funny.

  76. knowknot says

    #90

    It’s not quite a joke. It’s a point. To answer your question: the context where Mr. Ham took the time to remind the writer of how evil and nasty he is just because he doesn’t believe in god. Taking that to its conclusion, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect an atheist to eat Ken Ham.

    -  So we might as well at least pretend that we will.  Which, really, is “ok, you think I’m horrible, I’ll be horrible.”
    -  What I can’t figure is this:  In what infantile world has this approach ever had a positive effect, other than the dog being better fed because little Timmy’s dinner is always on the floor?
    -  Except it’s “just joking,” right?
    -  What I can’t figure is this:  In what world Is “just joking” actually a valid excuse?  Glenn Beck claims he’s “just a rodeo clown.”.   Megyn Kelly claims Santa’s whiteness was a joke (even though she included Jesus as well, and managed to apologize for that).  Racist, sexist, vile jokes and pranks that are so often defended as just kidding.  And all too often, something happens.
    -  Do I expect anything physical to happen here?  No.  Do I expect the underlying sense to result in anything positive?  No.  But negative is pretty much a surefire bet.

     But when we see someone claim to plan on doing just that, we don’t believe it because it’s stupid.

    -  Again, I’m not sure what safe little pocket y’all come from.  But elsewhere, people who revel in violent, racist, or sexist humor are all too often a superset of those who act out.  Maybe not in terms of the literal joke, but at least enough to harm, or support harm, tacitly or otherwise.

    And now we see that Mr. Ham’s premise is stupid, Christmas is saved, enemies become friends and everyone gets a second helping of pie.

    -  And this exercise was necessary to prove this… to whom?  I think the philosophical and intellectual merits of the exercise MAY be somewhat overstated here.
    -  Anyone who gets it from this was already there, and anyone who wasn’t, and who had any hope of getting it, sees that it’s just more of the same crap, and just maybe sees that Mr. Ham was right.  Seems like the choir alone hears the sermon, and gets the benefit of the vented spleen (which really wasn’t, but rather either “just a joke” or an amazing piece of philosophical truthiness).

  77. knowknot says

    #87

    If you reject their ridiculous moralising and condemnation of you, don’t write shit that seems to prove them right. If you reject their atrocious behaviour, don’t fucking emulate it.

    Of THAT pie I will have a second piece, thank you.

  78. knowknot says

    #90, reprise

    I’m amazed that anyone thinks it’s a murder fantasy. It’s clearly not a threat at all.

    - It was not a murder fantasy in approximately the same way that The Missus’ gentle humor about the “good negroes” wasn’t racism. Which is a real comfort.

  79. Marc Abian says

    #93

    I’m not sure that I’ve really understood you, but I’ve tried to respond

    So we might as well at least pretend that we will. Which, really, is “ok, you think I’m horrible, I’ll be horrible.”

    But the writer isn’t being horrible, he’s just saying he plans on being horrible in a context where it’s clear it isn’t really planning it.

    Racist, sexist, vile jokes and pranks that are so often defended as just kidding.

    And a lot of murders plead innocent. That doesn’t invalidate innocent pleas. In the case we’re discussing it is clearly not an serious threat. Glenn Beck is a red herring.

    Again, I’m not sure what safe little pocket y’all come from. But elsewhere, people who revel in violent, racist, or sexist humor are all too often a superset of those who act out.

    Fine, but you’re trying to argue about generalities instead of looking at the specific post. It’s not written as torture porn, it doesn’t ring true. There’s nothing convincing about how it’s done. It’s like a character in a Michael Bay film.

    And this exercise was necessary to prove this… to whom? I think the philosophical and intellectual merits of the exercise MAY be somewhat overstated here.

    To Ken Ham or his blog readers I guess.

    I think the philosophical and intellectual merits of the exercise MAY be somewhat overstated here.

    Are you talking about the stuff I wrote about enemies becoming friends and more pie? That wasn’t meant as serious (but abstract) attempt at appraisal.

    Seems like the choir alone hears the sermon

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/12/18/capitalism-not-just-an-idea-a-religion/

    which really wasn’t, but rather either “just a joke” or an amazing piece of philosophical truthiness

    If you’re referring to my interpretation, please note that I do not consider it an amazing piece of philosophical truthiness. Just a simple argument.

  80. everbleed says

    The Arm Chair Pontificator has yet to acknowledge on his blog the divine attention of PZ Myers and his fans. (Me-self included.) Ken Hammykins is a great catch on the hook, and PZ jumping in to snag the HamFish tail shows natural fishing skill, and deserves an added bonus. So I say, give ACP the Anglers Nobel Prize. I, for one, look forward to his next adventure. It can only spark things up a bit around here.

    Just too fucking funny. And on the Solstice even. A beautiful day.

  81. knowknot says

    # 96, Marc Abian

    - OK. I’ve tried to be clear, and have obviously failed. It stirkes me that you’re actually trying to be clear, and have no clue what I’m trying to get across, or at least not of what the most remote possible meritthere may be in it.
    - So, taptaptaptap, no point. Thank you for attempting to answer reasonably. I wish you well.

  82. Marc Abian says

    OK. I’ve tried to be clear, and have obviously failed

    Happens to the best of us, friend. The maxim “genius is never understood in its own time” has been a great source of comfort to me over the years.

  83. knowknot says

    # 97, Everbleed
    - Back in the questionable days, I knew a pastor with an attitude like yours. Just loved to find the pettiness and “humor” in things that mattered to other people, because he was above them. I was young at the time, and it was one of my first truly disorienting experiences regarding how “playground neener” adults could be, and how much better (or at least persistent) they seemed to be at it. Even milk and cookies couldn’t slow it down, for them. Found out later that Scotch and brisket didn’t either.
    - Over the years it became pretty clear that he was pretty much above everything, without exception. Probably merciful that his sense of direction disappeared at death.
    - Thanks for the memory.

  84. Holms says

    Racist, sexist, vile jokes and pranks that are so often defended as just kidding.

    And a lot of murders plead innocent. That doesn’t invalidate innocent pleas. In the case we’re discussing it is clearly not an serious threat. Glenn Beck is a red herring.

    There is an extremely easy way to tell the difference between ‘just joking around’ and say, bullying or threats.

    Ask the person tergetted by the purported joke. Ignore everything the ‘joker’ claims. A joke is only a joke so long as the butt is laughing along with it; if they feel they are being picked on then they are being picked on. No one else gets to tell them to ‘lighten up’, ‘get a sense of humour’, ‘stop being a pansy’ etc. etc.

    I knew this in my teens, what’s your excuse for still not knowing?

  85. knowknot says

    # 102, Holms

    . A joke is only a joke so long as the butt is laughing along with it; if they feel they are being picked on then they are being picked on.

    I’ve already sucked up more bandwidth than benefit on this thread, but…
    - Thanks for the embarrassingly necessary reminder. I did know this in high school. Or more honestly, I’d heard it. I wasn’t one of the bullies, but still the real felt sense of this understanding eluded me, in spite of having taken some fairly hard shots by standards of the day. Which is to say, I’ve always had a dense side. Plus, I think I was affected by the generalized “get a sense of humor” stance in this regard.
    - More embarrassing is the fact that I now remember saying this to my daughters. Not that long ago. Somewhat passionately. And still the thought of building anything from there eludes me until reminded. Pretty sure that’s all me, but I do think most of that variety and level of consideration has abdicated US culture. (The last sentence almost certainly earning me a “stop being a pansy” or two.)

  86. Gregory Greenwood says

    Marc Abian @ 90;

    I’m amazed that anyone thinks it’s a murder fantasy. It’s clearly not a threat at all.

    A murder fantasy doesn’t stop being a murder fantasy purely because there is no intent to actually carry it out. Even where the objective risk of actual harm may be low for a given individual, the act of publicly describing, in detail, the murder and degradation of another specifically named human being is still toxic. As pointed out by Holms @ 102, we cannot simply arbitrarily decide that Ham should ‘grow a thicker skin’ in this case – whether or not the target of this ‘satire’ felt threatened by it is a judgement that only that person can make, and it is not as though we can read their minds. That doesn’t stop purely because we happen not to like this particular target of satire.

    As for the intent of the author – intent is not magic, and again neither of us can read hir mind either. I am simply taking what they have actually written at face value, and am concerned about the effect it may have given its content. What are you doing?

    It’s not quite a joke. It’s a point. To answer your question: the context where Mr. Ham took the time to remind the writer of how evil and nasty he is just because he doesn’t believe in god. Taking that to its conclusion, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect an atheist to eat Ken Ham. But when we see someone claim to plan on doing just that, we don’t believe it because it’s stupid. And now we see that Mr. Ham’s premise is stupid, Christmas is saved, enemies become friends and everyone gets a second helping of pie.

    Whether it is a poor attempt at humour or a worse effort to convey a ‘point’ doesn’t matter – the language describes in detail a form of violence that is not unheard of, and is directed at a specific named individual. If this was meant to be an obviously exaggerated, whimsical mockery of Ham’s vision of the moral character of atheists, there are any number of better ways to go about it. For example, you could adopt an overwrought, gloating supervillain tone, and tell Ham that he has discovered too much of the evil plans of the Atheist Legion of Doom(TM), and that as soon as you get him to your hidden volcanoe lair, you will personally introduce him to your bespoke supervillain pool of death full of obligatory sharks… with frickkin’ lasers on their heads!

    A detailed description of the torture, murder and cannabalisation of your opponents is entirely unnecessary, which leads me to wonder why such a form of words was chosen. It seems at least conceiveable that the language could have been gauged to intimidate, though as I have noted before there is no way of knowing what was going through the author’s mind at the time.

    As for the stupid character of violence based on religious belief or the absence thereof – stupid is a fair description of it, and yet that hasn’t done much to stop it happening the world over.

  87. Holms says

    #96
    But the writer isn’t being horrible, he’s just saying he plans on being horrible in a context where it’s clear it isn’t really planning it.

    What a ridiculous claim. The same could be said of every threat of violence / other nastiness in history: ‘I’m not being horrible [e.g. breaking your bones] now, but I will be horrible [breaking your bones] later on if you don’t pay what you owe’.

    Claiming that being threatening is a promise of bad behaviour later on but is not bad behaviour in and of itself is a silly abstraction.

  88. ChasCPeterson says

    re #105: I see I was correct.

    It wasn’t funny, PZ? No. No it wasn’t, Master Jedi. It wasn’t really meant to be. It was a lure, and not only did it catch Ken Ham, PZ. It caught you, and several others at freethoughtblogs.com

    Self-confessed troll and Internet Narcissist.
    and, imo, asshole.

  89. ChasCPeterson says

    …and having now reached the comments at the asshole’s site, I see that everbleed (@#105) is also a troll. I should have known.

  90. Rey Fox says

    So the old “shit on the floor and declare victory when people complain about it” routine. What empty lives these people must live.

  91. Marc Abian says

    102

    There is an extremely easy way to tell the difference between ‘just joking around’ and say, bullying or threats.

    Ask the person tergetted by the purported joke. Ignore everything the ‘joker’ claims. A joke is only a joke so long as the butt is laughing along with it; if they feel they are being picked on then they are being picked on.

    I don’t agree. Whether something is a threat or a joke is solely down to the intent of the person making the joke or threat. If I threaten to kill you over this argument right now and mean it, does it become just a joke when you think I’m only messing?

    If you’re talking about a general rule of thumb to determine whether someone is lying when they use the just joking excuse you may well have a point, but that’s not the way I read you.

    104

    A murder fantasy doesn’t stop being a murder fantasy purely because there is no intent to actually carry it out.

    OK I concede it’s technically a fantasy by virtue of the fact that it’s not real. However, fantasy usually implies some desire on the part of the person fantasising for the situation in the fantasy, and that isn’t the case here.

    As pointed out by Holms @ 102, we cannot simply arbitrarily decide that Ham should ‘grow a thicker skin’ in this case

    There’s no need to grow a thicker skin, because there’s no threat. The only reason Ham would need to grow a thicker skin is if he was hurt that someone would argue with him in the first place. Though if he was hurt by that I would think that he should grow a thicker skin.

    As for the intent of the author – intent is not magic, and again neither of us can read hir mind either. I am simply taking what they have actually written at face value, and am concerned about the effect it may have given its content. What are you doing?

    Not everything is meant to be taken at face value. And though I can’t read minds, I can be pretty certain that this shouldn’t be taken at face value. I gave reasons for this already.
    And I’m concerned about the effect it may have given its content is being taken seriously, so I’m trying to help. But really a combination of SIWOTI and procrastination.

    For example, you could adopt an overwrought, gloating supervillain tone, and tell Ham that he has discovered too much of the evil plans of the Atheist Legion of Doom(TM), and that as soon as you get him to your hidden volcanoe lair, you will personally introduce him to your bespoke supervillain pool of death full of obligatory sharks… with frickkin’ lasers on their heads!

    While what was written in the OP didn’t amuse me, I would have found it powerfully unfunny had it been like that. All these tropes about volcano lairs and TM in brackets, they’re so overdone. They can only work now if they are brought up to mock those who use them genuinely.

    It seems at least conceiveable that the language could have been gauged to intimidate, though as I have noted before there is no way of knowing what was going through the author’s mind at the time.

    Lots of things are conceivable, but I don’t think it’s likely in this case. You just have to experience sarcasm and jokes more and you’ll get the hang of detecting when things are serious.

    Me #96

    But the writer isn’t being horrible, he’s just saying he plans on being horrible in a context where it’s clear it (it should be he -Marc) isn’t really planning it.

    Holms 106

    What a ridiculous claim. The same could be said of every threat of violence / other nastiness in history: ‘I’m not being horrible [e.g. breaking your bones] now, but I will be horrible [breaking your bones] later on if you don’t pay what you owe’.

    Claiming that being threatening is a promise of bad behaviour later on but is not bad behaviour in and of itself is a silly abstraction.

    No, the same could not be said of every threat of violence / other nastiness in history because some of them were meant genuinely and I made it clear I was talking about threats which were not meant to be taken seriously.

  92. Holms says

    I don’t agree. Whether something is a threat or a joke is solely down to the intent of the person making the joke or threat. If I threaten to kill you over this argument right now and mean it, does it become just a joke when you think I’m only messing?

    Perhaps I should have phrased it as ‘whether something is a threat or a joke to the target is solely down to the perception of that person.’ That means, as you point out, it is still entirely possible for the target to laugh off a threat without realising that it was made in earnest; a false negative. However, if the target feels threatened / villified / teased / bullied / etc. then they are being so treated.

    Now with this episode aimed at Ken Ham, it is hard for us to tell whether he is simply playing it up in order to play the poor victim of atheist bullying, or if he actually feels that way. It is also not really for us to say one way or another. What we can say however is that the possibility exists, and the clumsy ‘satire’ written by some idiot has now ceded to him some grounds for him to make a legitimate claim to being the victim of atheist bullying.

    The author, in his inept attempt at reductio ad absurdum, has given Ham an example to point to when arguing that atheists are all nasty, bullying arseholes. The author has provided evidence against secularists by making Ham correct in this instance.

  93. Lars says

    So the old “shit on the floor and declare victory when people complain about it” routine. What empty lives these people must live.

    QFFT. Sigh.

  94. everbleed says

    Having had breakfast with the man and watching him give a lecture, I wouldn’t call him an asshole. I think he is a smart, and good man, who lives and breathes in an academic world where “rational discourse” is paramount. And necessary.

    Unfortunately, I believe he may be behind the curve. The Earth is in trouble. We are likely a significant factor in its trauma, and the time for rational discourse is shortening.

    There is no rational discourse with mystic people of EVERY stripe. The only real question on Earth is which causes the other? Stupid or Religion. Both need to go.

    Making fun of the fools is the one of the few pleasures we Earth weepers have. It is the sick humor of the wretched shoveling flesh into Nazi ovens.

    When you see, when you know, the end… censorship goes out the fucking window.

    I, for one, am delighted to call myself. #57

  95. Marc Abian says

    112

    That means, as you point out, it is still entirely possible for the target to laugh off a threat without realising that it was made in earnest; a false negative. However, if the target feels threatened / villified / teased / bullied / etc. then they are being so treated.

    You feel false negatives can happen but false positives are impossible?

    The author, in his inept attempt at reductio ad absurdum, has given Ham an example to point to when arguing that atheists are all nasty, bullying arseholes. The author has provided evidence against secularists by making Ham correct in this instance.

    A bad example, and very unconvincing evidence, meaing Ham ain’t correct. I feel the desecration of that cracker was a better example of atheists being nasty and bullying, and even threatening. However, I don’t feel crackergate was a good example of that either.

    The one who calls himself

    the time for rational discourse is shortening.

    Indeed, with some people it seems like it has yet to begin.

  96. Nick Gotts says

    I hate having wit battles with Christians. Boring as shit and i always win. – Tom C.@77

    I’m sure you think you do. I’m sure they think the same. I’ve certainly come across a lot of Christians who are clearly a whole lot brighter and wittier than you.

  97. vaiyt says

    Look, classic trolls! They’re so adorable! Can I take one home?

    Sure, geniuses, you managed to “bait” people into saying “Christ on a stick, what an idiot” by acting like idiots! Congradulations! Winners are you!

  98. jnorris says

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- at #86
    “So what?
    I don’t give a shit about what Ken Ham believes about any afterlife that doesn’t exist anyway.
    I don’t believe in gods, heavens, hells, nirvanas or invisible teapots.”

    JN: There are people who believe these things are so real, they make laws to punish the abominations. Witness events in Iran, Russia and Uganda.

    “What I do care about is this world and in this world a vivid torture and murder phantasy always has a net negative effect. Ken Ham may be a despicable human being, a piece of shit and all around asshole.”

    JN: What you call phantasy is reality in Iran where stoning gays is cheered by crowds. Uganda will start putting gays in prison for life. Let’s no forget Eric Rudolph and Scott Roeder in America.

    “I am not.
    Therefore I do not wish anybody to be harmed.
    And it doesn’t only have an effect on Ken Ham.”

    JN: Mr Ham is not harmed because the vast majority of atheists, sexual minorities, and religious minorities who would be harmed in a Ken Ham theocracy are not angry enough yet. We respect the rule of law. I hope we never get to that stage where we don’t. I don’t believe we will.

    “Some people liek you are OK with that shit. You normalize it, you become self-righteous, not unlike Ken Ham.”

    JN: Killing the stranger, persecuting the outsider, hurting the different was not invented by me. Like many an atheist, I read all about it in Mr Ham’s Bible. It is their normal as demanded and blessed by their god. Living in a secular republic that protects minorities is an abomination unto their god.

    “And history has known too many of those things that started “as a joke”. And it has a silencing effect on those who are actualla affected by torture and murder phantasies. No matter what they want to say, they will think twice about saying it.”

    JN: The atrocities against minorities from history, modern and ancient, where never started as a joke. They were deliberate constructs, designed to dehumanize and marginalize those who were unacceptable or handy scapegoats. There was/is no joking in Leviticus, in Munich beer halls, in Klan meetings, or in Tea Party rallies.

    I do take Mr Ham and his ilk very seriously. I would have more relatives today without his kind.

    “You still fail.”

    JN: I didn’t know this was a test. Why do you get to do the grading? Are you grading on a curve? I demand extra credit for penmanship. Can I have a do over?

    I do respect your not wanting to hurt anyone. I do hope you are as vigilant in keeping the Ken Hams in the world at bay as you are in chastising me for not giving a flying f*ck for him.

  99. says

    Jebus. The asshole has responded: he thinks my plea “please don’t do this” refers to asking him to not kill and eat Ken Ham, rather than “don’t be this kind of jerk who writes posts detailing your desire to commit cannibalism, even as a joke.”

    I thought he was stupid before. I had no idea how stupid he could be.

  100. ChasCPeterson says

    trolling troll continues to troll and congratulate himself for trolling like a trolling troll.

  101. Holms says

    You feel false negatives can happen but false positives are impossible?

    Setting aside the possibility of the person lying to claim persecution, which Ham may well be doing here, yes. A person that feels that they are being bullied (or whatever) is being bullied.

    #118
    Congratulations on having the least coherent post ever!

  102. arendvannerel says

    Anyone care to read up on a bit of history to learn how much cruelty was inflicted upon people in the name of religion? While the supposed cooking of Mr. Ham is clearly satirical and in good taste (depending on your choice of seasoning), it’s funny because for hundreds of years religious fruitcakes the likes of Ken Ham have tortured people in ways that makes the baking of Ken Ham look pale in comparison.

    Or maybe it’s not funny because it’s 2013 and people the likes of Ken Ham still get validated for imposing their own beliefs onto others?

  103. says

    arendvannerel:

    Or maybe it’s not funny because it’s 2013

    How about it’s not funny because it’s not funny? It’s a very badly written piece of utterly failed satire. It misses the point by a mile, and provides theists with an example of an atheist behaving badly and stupidly. So, not helping.