The mantle has passed

Our new representative for modern atheism that will scare the fundagelicals pantsless is a gay black man, Lil Nas X.

I’ve never been as heretical as that. I approve.

Although the stupid shoe is ugly and overpriced, I appreciate that he’s just thumbing his nose at corporate exploitation, and his apology was excellent.

Between Lil Nas X and Cardi B, the Christian Right is suffering from apoplexy. Good work!


  1. says

    I was hoping the text at 1:12 was phonetic for those who know the alphabet, but apparently it’s Classical Greek. Anybody got a translation?

  2. Bruce Fuentes says

    I find the whole situation hilarious. The christian fundies are blowing up over this and showing the world what asshats they are. Keep it going. The more christian “leaders” speak the better atheists look. While they scorn and have apoplexy over this, maybe they should look at some of the reformation depictions of nuns and priests. Some of those depictions are no more graphic than Lil Nas X. Here is one I found with just a quick search.

  3. mnb0 says

    “Our new representative for modern atheism …..”
    Typical. I never needed anyone to represent my atheism but myself, modern or not. You apparently do, PZ.

  4. euclide says

    Another sad sign for Heavy Metal.
    Satanic panic used to be our thing. Even the fundies have forgotten heavy metal (and role playing games, the other big 80s-90s satanic scare)

  5. brucegee1962 says

    I kind of think Nike has a point here in its lawsuit. If you were selling “PZ Myers brand” atheist swag here in your website, and Ken Ham bought up some of it, slapped a cross onto it, and resold it at a big markup, you’d probably just laugh it off. But if you were a big brand making millions off your trademarked goods? And then atheists stopped buying it because Ham had convinced them that you were all godly now? You might be a bit peeved. I mean, trademark law is there for a reason.

  6. mond says

    I gotta disagree.
    There are whole industries based on customisation of goods.
    The customisation of stock automobiles is a prime example.
    There is a actually free speech element here also. Should an automobile (or sneakers) manufacturer have the right to approve any customisation based on their likes or dislikes rather than the people doing the customisation.
    If you sell products you have to accept that people may do things with them that don’t meet with your approval.

  7. brightmoon says

    I’m Christian I thought it was hilarious. Good on Lil Nas for calling out the stupidity of homophobia .

  8. cartomancer says

    Intransitive, #1

    It says “given that their substance was split apart, each half desires the other”.

    It’s a reference to the mythic story told by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium explaining the origin of sexual desire in humans. The tale goes that in the beginning humans existed in a conjoined, two-bodied state – some male-male, some female-female, some male-female. The gods, terrified by the full potential of humankind, split these complete proto-humans in half with an axe, and for ever after the split pieces desired to be reunited with their lost other halves. Which explains why love and desire for physical coupling takes different forms.

    Essentially it’s a classical allusion to the idea that lgbt people were “born this way”, as the lady gaga put it.

  9. christoph says

    @ mnb0, # 3: So, why all the cheap shots at PZ? Do you have a personal grudge, or what?

  10. numerobis says

    brucegee1962@5: individuals who make intellectual property have moral rights to that work; nobody can change it without the creator’s approval. That’s related to free speech: you can’t force someone to say something they didn’t say by e.g. moving a sculpture to somewhere that it doesn’t have the same message anymore, or cutting out a part of a painting.

    When it comes to a corporation asserting similar rights I’m not sure how that works. The creator isn’t the corporation, it’s the designer of the work, and they’ve agreed (through their employment contract) to transfer rights — but you can’t transfer moral rights, you can only waive them.

  11. numerobis says

    I’m not seeing the heresy here though.

    He’s gay and he goes to hell after making out with the snake in the garden of eden. Isn’t that the outcome that fundamentalists want?

  12. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    “trademark law is there for a reason.”

    Yes, to mark that Nike made the original product. Which they then sold to a customer. Now it’s someone else’s property. Nike doesn’t get a continuing controlling interest in the product once they sold it: trademark is not copyright.

  13. felixmagister says

    Intellectual Property Law accepts the existence of “transformative works”- Andy Warhol didn’t have to get Campell’s permission to sell paintings of their soup cans.

  14. John Morales says

    I don’t see anything particularly atheistic about this guy (had to look him up on Wikipedia) or the product; merely an artist using religious iconography and profiting from it.

    Also, thousand-dollar shoes? Talk about conspicuous consumption.

    felixmagister, a painting of a can is not a can.

  15. felixmagister says

    Of course a painting of a can isn’t a can, but intellectual property considers the ideas expressed rather than the material object on which it is expressed. If you wish to consider merely the object itself rather than the original creator’s claim to a unique expression, Nike is even worse off- they can’t keep someone from buying shoes, messing with them, and selling them again, even if the “messing with” takes the form of adding blood rather than the more wear and tear. If Lil Nas X is prominently advertising his slightly bloody shoes as “Nikes”, they might be able to stop him from doing that, since they own the name, but they can’t stop people from reselling their products.

  16. John Morales says

    WMDKitty, heh. I hadn’t seen that before. Good info.

    A pair of “Jesus Shoes” are on sale for $4,000 — and for that price, the lucky owner can literally walk on water. The shoes were designed by Brooklyn-based creative arts company MSCHF and they come with holy water in the soles.

    MSCHF bought a normal pair of Nike Air Max 97 sneakers at market value, the company’s head of commerce, Daniel Greenberg, confirmed to CBS News. A plain pair of men’s Air Max 97s go for about $160, but MSCHF completely revamped the shoe and added a golden Jesus on a crucifix as a shoelace charm.

    MSCHF also sourced holy water from the River Jordan, which was blessed by a priest in Brooklyn and added it to the soles of the sneaker.


  17. Ridana says

    Doesn’t that pretty much kill their lawsuit then? Part of maintaining a trademark is protecting it, meaning if you let people freely use your trademark without complaint or compensation/licensing, you don’t get to start complaining down the line, because you already passed on pursuing earlier instances of infringement. MSCHF had every reason to believe Nike wouldn’t care about this use, since they didn’t bother them over doing almost the exact same thing two years ago.

  18. says

    Just to clarify my position for mnb0, earlier this morning I posted a link to this post on Twitter, saying:

    Say “AYE” if you think @LilNasX has supplanted Richard Dawkins as the icon of godlessness.

    (Say “meh” if you are tired of icons of godlessness.)

    I think LilNasX is an improvement over Dawkins, but personally, I’d vote “meh”. You haven’t been reading very closely if you aren’t aware that I am totally disenchanted with movement atheism myself.

    I still appreciate amusing bits of heresy, though.

  19. hemidactylus says

    Well it ain’t f’in mumble rap which is a huge improvement. Video has really cool aesthetics and the song sounds OK. But does he seduce and fuck Satan to kill Satan then supplant Satan? Still processing that.

    Subverting Nike and pissing off the fundies at the same time? Not quite détournement but it will do I guess (snarkily).

    I wonder what Ben Shapiro would say in his squeaky voice. No allusions here to umm…well…flooding as in WAP. That was classic.

  20. hemidactylus says

    This is actually what it is mostly about:


    The metaphor of going to hell is pretty much what he struggled with juxtaposing being gay with church doctrine he grew up with. Pretty intense stuff.

    From Lil Nas X tweet referenced in the article: “ i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”

    From the article:
    “But while Lil Nas X’s “Montero” video highlights the challenges of coming to terms with your sexuality in the face of overwhelming judgment, he ultimately triumphs over his condemners. As he told Zach Campbell in a recent YouTube video: “If [hell] is where we belong then let me be the king of that.””

    The video is much deeper in meaning than it appears on the surface.

  21. Connie Collins says

    I have to admit, I saw the video by Crowder on “how my godless redass daddy would have handled all this Lil Nas X stuff” before seeing the actual video.
    “Kills the devil and takes his horns; that’s pretty rock&roll!”

  22. says

    hemidactylus wrote:

    The metaphor of going to hell is pretty much what he struggled with juxtaposing being gay with church doctrine he grew up with. Pretty intense stuff.


    The video is much deeper in meaning than it appears on the surface.

    Here’s Twain’s Huck Finn:

    At last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he’s got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.

    It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

    “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”- and tore it up.

    It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again.