“atheist chicks are easy”

Despite all the battling over sexism within the atheist community (which has the goal of making us better), it’s worse outside that group. Case in point: the Midwest Freethought Conference is getting some pushback in Omaha, where a right-wing talk radio host, Scott Voorhees, is frolicking in the slime. But then, he’s working in the milieu that made the term “feminazi” popular, one of the best indicators that you’re dealing with a cretinous thug.

In response to being informed by show guest Luke Hoffman of the UNO Secular Student Alliance that the UNO CRU Christian group had cooperated with the secular student group to put on a debate last semester, Voorhees declared: “You know why the Christian kids helped you out in your debate? Because atheist chicks are easy. And a lot of them are Goth and hot.”

The remark was recorded; you can hear it yourself at about the 14 minute mark. This is genuinely repulsive, but about what I expect of an obnoxious evangelical Christian. They do such a good job of smearing their own name.

Luke Hoffman has sent out a few letters of complaint. The first is to the program director at the radio station.

Gary Sadlemyer
Program Director
KFAB Radio 1110
[email protected]

July 18, 2012

Dear Mr. Sadlemyer,

My name is Luke Hoffman. I am the immediate past president of the
University of Nebraska at Omaha Secular Student Alliance. During a
radio interview July 10 with your talk show host Scott Voorhees,
Voorhees made a comment that I challenged on the spot and wish to
follow up on now. In reaction to the fact that a Christian club on
campus had networked with the UNO Secular Student Alliance to put on a
civil debate, Voorhees went so far as to say, “You know why the
Christian kids helped you out in your debate? Because atheist chicks
are easy. And a lot of them are Goth and hot.” (You can listen to this
remark at http://bit.ly/NmcGaG starting at the 14:16 mark.)

In addition to this being another example of what has been termed the
“war on women,” it also impugns the motives of the Christian group,
suggesting that their cooperation was insincere. I called this sexist
remark disgusting at the time (after which I was immediately
disconnected) and, in response to numerous calls for further response,
wish to readdress the matter now.

The reason that Voorhees was discussing this matter in the first place
was because of the forthcoming Midwest Freethought Conference and the
Omaha Coalition of Reason billboard on 72nd and Pacific here in the
city. This is the fourth Midwest Freethought Conference and, as such,
it contributes to Omaha’s economic development.

But instead of discussing this unique community event, Voorhees chose
to be dismissive while dehumanizing atheist women. Moreover, when
listeners called in to express their legitimate outrage at his
comments, he ridiculed them for lacking a sense of humor. But isn’t
that the usual cover for bigoted remarks against minority groups? How
many times have people tried to excuse racism, anti-Semitism, and
sexism under the cover of humor? Radio announcer Don Imus tried this
in 2007 with his “joke” about the Rutgers University women’s
basketball team and was fired as a result.

In the popular atheist blog “The Friendly Atheist,” Hemant Mehta
describes the interaction as “frustrating all around, and that was
even before he made his most inflammatory comment.” Voorhees’
misplaced hostility toward people with differing views was, I think,
demonstrated by his offensive remarks as well as his apparent
unwillingness to really listen to his guests on that occasion.

The membership of the UNO SSA and I, therefore, request that KFAB
repudiate Voorhees’ remarks against atheist women and that he
personally apologize.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Hoffman
Immediate Past President
UNO Secular Student Alliance

The second is to the president of the university.

President James B. Milliken
University of Nebraska
(402) 472-8636
[email protected]

July 18, 2012

Dear President Milliken,

As has already been brought to your attention by others, during a
radio interview of me on July 10 on KFAB Radio 1110 by talk-show host
Scott Voorhees, Voorhees made a comment that I challenged on the spot.
It was in reaction to the fact that the University of Nebraska at
Omaha CRU Christian group had networked with my group, the UNO Secular
Student Alliance, last semester to put on a highly-regarded debate.
Voorhees declared, “You know why the Christian kids helped you out in
your debate? Because atheist chicks are easy. And a lot of them are
Goth and hot.” (You can listen to this remark at http://bit.ly/NmcGaG
starting at the 14:16 mark.)

In addition to this being another example of the right-wing war on
women, it also impugns the motives of the campus Christian group,
suggesting that their cooperation was insincere. I called this sexist
remark disgusting at the time (after which I was immediately
disconnected). Now, in response to numerous requests for further
action, I wish to readdress the matter.

Reasonable people might have expected the UNO administration to act
swiftly and decisively in criticizing this remark against legitimate
UNO campus groups—especially after I brought it to the
administration’s attention last week. And not merely because the
remark attacked UNO students, both Atheist and Christian, but because
that broadcast also challenged UNO’s institutional reputation. After
all, Director of University Relations Tim Kaldahl appeared on the same
show and had to put up with attacks against UNO for hosting the fourth
annual Midwest Freethought Conference. Voorhees openly questioned
whether the university was still worthy of public support. And KFAB
pays UNO for rights to use the “N” logo and to broadcast Nebraska
football. The station calls itself “the Home of the Huskers,” which is
the UNO team. (For reference, KFAB is listed on the University website
as the Omaha affiliate for Nebraska football at:
http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=52 and,
on the KFAB website, the “N” logo is displayed on the homepage and at:
http://www.kfab.com/pages/Huskers.html .)

In an effort to resolve this internally, I talked with Tim Kaldahl,
spoke with Charlene Russel in the campus Equal Access and Diversity
office, communicated with Nancy in the Chancellors office, and sent an
email directly to the chancellor. I have also discussed the matter
with other student leaders on campus.

Adam Maley, immediate past president of the UNO Veterans Student
Organization, said: “This radio personality challenges a socially
unpopular category of people and, rather than discuss the issues, uses
prejudicial and disgusting stereotypes to distract.”

UNO Council for Humanist Thought President John Powers said: “Scott
Voorhees…clearly does not understand the issues of the growing local
secular community and the struggles of living an atheist or agnostic
life.”

Haili Copas-Starke, immediate past director for the Women’s Resource
Center, another student-run organization at UNO, showed her support
for the UNO SSA by saying, “Religion is a good background to formulate
your morals but it’s not the only method, and society allows for you
to do that without the guidance of religion.”

The UNO SSA provides valuable support for nontheistic UNO students, as
Nicole Miller, the current UNO SSA president, noted when she said:
“The Secular Student Alliance has helped me grow on a personal level,
where I’ve made lifelong friends, have become more open to talk about
the issues. Especially family problems with coming out as atheist. I
feel like I’m making a difference in my community.”

In the wake of this reaction, I must ask why the UNO administration
has so far declined comment on an affiliated radio station’s slur that
is prejudicial to UNO students and the university itself—and this in
the face of a reaction across the Internet. (Just Google the phrase
“atheist chicks are easy” and see the online response, which is now in
the thousands of hits when, at the time of the broadcast last week, it
only garnered two.)

As an atheist, my moral compass compels me to stand up to Voorhees’
dehumanizing remark. Is it too much to ask UNO’s administration to
reconsider this opportunity to do the same? Radio KFAB and Scott
Voorhees need to hear, in no uncertain terms, that UNO finds the
remark in question unacceptable. And UNO needs to demand a retraction
and an apology.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Hoffman
Immediate Past President
UNO Secular Student Alliance

Oh, this is going to be such a fun meeting!