Edgy Yet Friendly (video)

My talk from the Secular Student Alliance conference is now online! I talk about walking the fine line between controversial, interesting events and needlessly offending people. Enjoy!


  1. LS says

    Augh, new stuff from the SSA keeps getting posted, and it’s all so epic, and I have so little time to watch any of it. I wonder if I could rip the audio and listen to it in the car…

  2. Pablo says

    Who decides what offense is needless?Jen, you offended a lot of people when you put the display in the window in the Stewart Center. Yet, I don’t hear you apologizing.Oh sure, you will contend that it was nothing to be offended about, and proclaim your innocence. But that is only a matter of degree, not of kind. You offended people. You considered it necessary, but then again, other people who are accused of offending will consider themselves equally justified.

  3. says

    Pablo…. you entirely missed the point.The idea is that any time you do something to get attention and you’re a part of a group that people don’t like, YOU WILL OFFEND. Her talk was about trying to balance offensiveness with your actual goal… don’t offend so much that more people miss your message and get pissed off than people who get it.Oh, and Jen? Fantastic talk. *applause*.

  4. says

    So? You are talking to a bunch of atheists, who don’t give a damn about God, Jesus, Bible and other things that are consider sacred. You think we will/should try to be nice and avoid offending people? lol. Get real, will you?

  5. says

    The guy in the red shirt needs to cut down on his antidepressants.

    don’t offend so much that more people miss your message and get pissed off than people who get it.

    This is missing the point that the christians will be offended the moment you dare to question their delusions at all.Pick your fights, by all means, but christians have taken being offended and feeling persecuted to an art form over the millenia, and what has worked in the last 10 years, as opposed to the last 2000, is to not be worried about causing offense anymore.

  6. says

    To be fair, when you look wider than certain (disproportionately vocal and powerful) communities, particularly in the US, an awful lot of Christians are perfectly happy about dialogue between faith (and faith-less) groups, including non-theists and even specifically atheists.The ones who take offence at nearly everything will take offence at almost anything said by a group whose stated identity is atheist, yes. However, that doesn’t mean you should say things deliberately to offend. Don’t avoid saying things because they will offend, but couch things in a way that is as unlikely to offend as practical while still saying what needs to be said.Things like religious text exchanges are offensive (to people I fondly consider whack-jobs), but they are very effective at getting people to think.Also, “if people are shooting at you, that means you’re doing something right” – just preferably not too literally.

  7. chicagodyke says

    i “offend” certain groups, and esp religious groups, just be being alive. so you can count me out of the project to care about not offending people. i never asked these people for anything other than the right to exist equally in our (supposedly free) society. and they won’t let me do that. so i’m offended, and rightfully so. i’m a fighter, i fight back and i’m not sorry. as i’m fond of saying to believers: if your faith is so weak that me marrying my girlfriend shakes it, *you* are the one with the problem, not me.

  8. QuarkyGideon says

    I think you’re spot on here.On the youtube community a lot of people have struggled to grasp how to spread a message.

  9. CGH says

    I enjoyed the talk. But why was the camera positioned like that? There’s so much empty space behind you, and we can’t actually see the screen to your left (except for when they cut to it).

  10. Cyborgwizard says

    That was a great lecture there……So, what was the word that the girl wrote on Blasphemy day? Just curious.

  11. says

    Thank you for this. I definitely am stealing the ‘Send an Atheist To Church’ idea. Perfect. I am really glad that people like yourself, Hemant, and Richard Wade attempt to soften the blow of well-meaning but misguided fuck-youism. This talk directly affected me. Thank you.

  12. says

    Great presentation Jen. You’re well spoken, funny, and seemed to really connect with the audience. You accomplished what you set out to do; be edgy yet friendly.

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