Someone with reason in Bloomington, IN

Bloomington won’t be defending the bus system in the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign’s ACLU lawsuit.

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan said he disagrees with the BT policy and he’s asked city government’s legal department not to represent BT in court.

“I felt strongly that the city shouldn’t be defending on this issue,” he said Thursday.

Bloomington Public Transportation Corp. operates as a separate municipal corporation, which contracts with the city of Bloomington legal department to provide legal services.

Kruzan said having city legal defend BT in court would amount to “promoting government sanctioned censorship” because the bus service gets city legal’s services at an hourly rate less than that of a private law firm, which is in essence a partial taxpayer subsidy.

Good job, Mayor Kruzan!

Also, a local Bloomington radio station, WFHB, runs a segment called “Voices in the Street” where they ask random people about a certain topic. You can hear the segment on the atheist bus ads here. It was actually pretty refreshing to listen to – the majority of people supported the ads, even if they were religious. Of course, you still got some gems like this:

“Ya’ll atheist people, ya’ll are gonna die in a burning pit of hell, eternal pit of hellfire. Good luck.”

Aaannnddd this is why I don’t want to go to grad school in the Midwest.

An uncontroversial atheist ad?

You know, maybe we’re being too hard on all the bus companies in Indiana who keep rejecting the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign‘s ad, “You Can Be Good Without God.” I mean, who are we kidding? That’s pretty controversial! Plenty of people think that concept is ludicrous, and an outright lie. We all know the only reason Christians don’t go around killing, raping, and stealing is because of the reward of heaven and the threat of hell. Ask any Christian what they would do if they were suddenly certain that their was no God, and I’m sure they’ll confidently state that they’ll go on a murderous rampage and take part in drunken orgies (two of the favorite past times of atheists).

That in mind, I figured I’d try to help the bus campaign out by coming up with some uncontroversial advertisement.

“This is What Atheists Look Like (insert photo of smiling family)” Woah, way too scare-tacticy there. Atheists can be anywhere and look like normal people while secretly sacrificing goats in their basement? But who will we know to discriminate against?!

“Atheists Are Human Too” Oh wait, apparently Cardinal Cormack Murphy O’Connor thinks atheists are “not fully human” because religion is a human universal. Scratch that idea.

“Atheists Don’t Eat Babies” Well, we know that’s an outright lie, so that’ll never fly.

“Atheists Exist” Hmmm, well, not exactly. I mean, atheists really believe in God, they just hate him, right? And all atheists will repent on their death bed, so they eventually won’t be atheists anymore. And how does that little saying go? Atheists don’t believe in God, so God doesn’t believe in atheists? Oh ho ho, so clever!

“Look, We Don’t Want to Convert Religious People, We Just Want Other Atheists to Know That They’re Not Alone so Stop Freaking Out” But atheists are alone because they have God shaped hole in their heart! They’re lacking Jesus! Actually, this ad is still offensive – I bet those atheists are trying to trick you into converting by getting your guard down!

Hmmm, well I’m running out of ideas now, but I’m sure we’ll eventually come up with an ad that’s not controversial. How about “Atheists are Ignorant Deluded Curmudgeons Bent on Sending Your Children to Hell”? That’s not a controversial message in the US, so it’s obviously okay to stick on a bus. Because what matters more – saying the truth, or trying not to offend people?

More Indiana Atheist Bus drama

First, I apologize if you’re getting sick of hearing about the Indiana Atheist bus campaign…but as an atheist in Indiana, it is important to me, so I’m going to keep blogging about it!

While the campaign was having trouble in Bloomington, the following ad had been approved in South Bend, home to Notre Dame:
The ads had been approved by Burkhart, the advertising agency in charge of bus ads and were supposed to go up on the TRANSPO bus system on Monday the 11th. This was a strategic move to have the ads circulating when President Obama would be in town to give his commencement speech at Notre Dame.

Key words: supposed to

At first the campaign didn’t worry, because their contract includes a five day leeway for putting up the ads. But now they’ve heard back from Burkhart and there’s a bigger problem. Burkhart has an agreement that they can approve ads for TRANSPO, but if the ad is controversial, they must show it for TRANSPO for their approval. Burkhart, apparently being a company full of reasonable human beings, did not find the add controversial, so they never sent it on to be checked. The general manager of TRANSPO read about the Indiana Atheist Bus drama in Bloomington in the newspaper and put the ads on hold. Why?

“The ad was deemed controversial not because of its content, board Chairman Chip Lewis said, but because of the media attention it got in Bloomington. The bus authority in that city declined to post the ads, which prompted a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming the atheists’ First Amendment rights to free speech were being denied. Lewis, in South Bend, said because of the hoopla downstate, Transpo officials want to be sure about posting the ads.”

Ok, let me get this straight. You were originally fine with the content of the ads. You heard the media was freaking out downstate because a bus agency rejected the ads. Scared, you reject the ads yourself. …Wait, what? How the hell is it logical to avoid controversy then to do the same exact thing that caused the initial controversy? Don’t they realize that their rejection is going to cause the same response?

They’re holding a meeting on Monday to approve or reject the ad. While it will be great for it to be approved, it’s still crappy this is happening. It will miss President Obama and all of his media coverage, which was the #1 reason why the campaign decided to run the ads now instead of when class is in session. Even if they eventually run, it will be significantly less effective. Also, it’s being put up outside of their contractual five day leeway period. Why are they even waiting until Monday, if the drama here is potentially missing Obama? Why can’t they meet Thursday through Saturday (Obama’s speech being on Sunday)? Is the board of directors of a bus company in South Bend, Indiana so freaking important and busy that they can’t organize a meeting until Monday? Really?

Sigh. Will we ever see atheist ads in Indiana? Maybe West Lafayette will end up being the first after all.

IN Atheist Bus News Coverage

WRTV 6News of Indianapolis had a story last night about Bloomington, IN’s rejection of the slogan “You Can Be Good Without Good” for being too controversial.

The lady shaking her head in disgust and saying “You can’t be good without God”? Yeah, that’s why we need this campaign, people. A statement we see as benign and obvious is terrifying to other people.

There’s also a an article online with…dun dun dun…an internet poll! I’ve already emailed it to PZ, but I figured I’d post it as well. Probably the best thing (or worst, if you’re anti-atheist) you can do to advertise something atheist related is have a dumb poll about it. A poll crashing at Pharyngula is way more advertisement than people ignoring it at Digg and Reddit.

What is your opinion of an advertisement rejected by Bloomington officials because its message of “You Can Be Good Without God” was deemed too controversial?

Choice Votes Percentage of 699 Votes
I agree with the advertisement and I think it should be allowed. 292 42%
I don’t agree with the advertisement, but I think it should be allowed. 87 12%
I don’t agree with the advertisement and I don’t think it should be allowed. 287 41%
I agree with the advertisement, but I don’t think it should be allowed. 23 3%
I don’t know. 10 1%

Alright, off to bomb my Physics exam! Woo!

Indiana atheist bus rejected in Bloomington

From the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign:

“Bloomington was first on the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign’s list of places it hoped to run bus ads. However, the city has rejected our campaign’s slogan, ‘You Can Be Good Without God.’ This is deeply disappointing to our campaign’s members; we all love Bloomington and were very much hoping to run ads in our hometown along with many other cities.

Following their rejection of our ad’s slogan, Bloomington Transit referenced their ad policy, which currently states that they may reject any ad they feel is ‘too controversial.’

However, we are not giving up. Yesterday the ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of the campaign, filed a lawsuit against the city of Bloomington on First Amendment grounds. No campaign donations will be spent on the suit.”

This is pretty disappointing. Bloomington, home to Indiana University, is one of the most liberal cities in Indiana (other than Indianapolis or the Chicago suburbs). I don’t know how atheists could possibly be less controversial than “You Can Be Good Without God” – that seems like a pretty benign and obvious statement to me. The fact that it is controversial to some people is exactly why we need people reading it!

Oh well. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the one in West Lafayette goes through. Not only would it be awesome seeing that on campus, but we’d beat IU too!

Road rage

I came up with some interesting ideas for posts today, but they’re going to have to wait. I have something far more important than the religious indoctrination of young children and the lack of separation between church and state in a small town I drove though. What could possibly more important than that, you ask? Only the most terrifying, dangerous threat to our country’s safety.

Indiana drivers.

I swear that Indiana drivers are some of the worst fucking drivers in the country. Granted, I haven’t visited every state, but out of the ones I’ve driven through, I haven’t had to reconsider my belief in God just so I could start praying after I’ve been cut off or tailgated for the 50th time in an hour drive. The only other time I find myself yelling “motherfucker!!!” quite as much is when I’m playing Mario kart, but you know what? In Mario kart soccer moms in SUVs don’t cut you off and then slow down to 65 miles per hour just to piss you off. Or if they did, you could at least fucking red shell their ass.

My drive home normally takes an hour and a half, and this time it lasted nearly three hours. I knew there was a small patch of construction, but I had driven through it two weeks ago at the same time of night, and there wasn’t a soul on the road. I-65 is usually fairly empty anyway. But nooooo, today was Easter, so every Christian in the state of Indiana decides this would be a great time to drive back. I’m on the road for a measly 15 miles before I come to a complete stop. At first I’m just like, ok, that’s cool, I’ll jam out to my music a bit, this is probably just because of the construction, ha that trucker has “National Flash a Trucker Week” written on their bumper, oh look a cute little doggie… Which soon turns into hmm, I haven’t moved an inch in the past five minutes, oooh awesome I just got to coast for ten feet, I guess I’ll text message my friends because I’m not moving, joy!

Friend: do you have to go to the bathroom?
Me: …not yet

I moved a total of four miles in a 50 minute period. Eventually I called my parents to see if there were any alternate routes. The next exit was 6 miles away, which did have an alternate route, but still didn’t bode well for the mental calculations in my head. I finally make it to the actual construction, where the road had been narrowed to one lane. The speed finally picked up at that point. Oh look, I thought, a rest stop before the exit! Well that’s at least nice for all the people who may need to use the bathroom after that horrible mess. Oh, whoops, it’s closed. That’s just too convenient. I hope all your egg casseroles are settling well with the chocolate bunnies, because there’s no fucking escape.

And you know, I was actually ok up until this point. I figure there’s nothing the actual drivers can do about it being narrowed to one lane, no point getting upset. But that’s when people started showing their true Hoosier colors. You know what, the speed limit is 70. You shouldn’t even be in the left lane unless you’re passing someone, but if you are, you should at LEAST be going 75, and that’s an incredibly conservative estimate. The only thing worse than someone driving the speed limit in the left lane is a fucking bipolar person who can’t decide between 67 and 87. Cruise control was invented for a reason, and even if you’re driving some jalopy that doesn’t have it, I would think your margin of error on keeping your car going at a constant speed is a little better than +/- 10 miles per hour.

Then you get the opposite problem with people who are too lazy to lift their pinky toe to accelerate more than their cruise control for a little bit. Oh, but I am passing someone, you say! I’m just going 0.00001 miles per hour faster then them, so it’s going to take me 500 hours to actually pass them, and I’ll hold up traffic in the mean time! Hm, I wonder why I have a trail of 50 cars closely stacked behind me, even though there’s not a car on the road in front of me? Hmmm, I guess I’ll ignore that! Thank you, passive-aggressive passing bastard! How I wish I had a battling ram on my car!

Oh, and hello there Mr. Semi Truck who can’t stay in your lane! I know my mother always told me to share, but I’m not quite sure I’m comfortable with sharing my lane with you. I kind of like a little more personal space when you can potentially squish me into tiny bits. I hope you don’t take it personally. Oh, and the possibility that you probably haven’t slept for 48 hours, and the only thing keeping you awake is Mountain Dew and uppers you stole from your kid? Totally comforting.

And to top it all off, my alignment decided this would be the best time to act up. I looked like a 3 year old who had just snorted pixie stix and grabbed a plastic steering wheel, jiggling it back and forth in order to keep the car going in a straight line. Of course, this is the best time for passive-aggressive passing bastard to decide he needs to hover next to you. Maybe I can break and he’ll pass-nope, now for some ungodly reason he’s slowing down. Awesome. Wonderful. Thank you so much.

Maybe I’m being too harsh blaming Indiana drivers for my woes. Yeah, you know, it’s not their fault the roads were busy today. It’s Jesus’s fault. Fuck you, Jesus. All your being born and dying and undying and thus creating over celebrated holidays leads to fucking terrible traffic. Why don’t you try to spread out your miracles into more frequent but less important occasions next time so you don’t mess up transportation as much, okay?


Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign

Many of you are probably getting tired of hearing about all the different atheist bus campaigns, but since I’m helping with this one, you get to hear one more. Indiana is trying to get its own bus campaign started, mainly focusing on big cities and college campuses. If you’ve never been to Indiana, most of the stereotypes you’ve heard about it are probably true. Outside of Indianapolis and the Chicago suburbs (yes, we have those) it’s a extremely conservative and religious state. To name just a few annoying examples, we have blue laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday and this is one of our default license plates:
Various groups including the ACLU have been trying to fight the license plate to no avail, so what better way to counter it than to put our own ads on motor vehicles? Not to mention there are already religious ads running on the buses that service Purdue and the surrounding area. Campus Crusade for Christ has had an ad for years, and just recently the Creation Museum has one too. Don’t ask me what the heck they’re doing advertising up here.

The fun part? The cost to get a full bus painted for a year ($1250) is the same as getting a dinky side ad for 8 months. I have no idea why, but wouldn’t it be awesome to have something like this driving around your town?

Well, but snazzier looking. I have limited Photoshop skills.

So, if you want to help inject a bit of secularism into Indiana, please spread the word, or even better, donate to the cause. Big hat tip to the Secular Alliance of IU, who are the masterminds behind this project. I’m but a mere Purdue liaison.