10 July 2010

Chrissy Uttering Nonsense Typically: My Open Letter to Chrissy Satterfield

Dear Chrissy,
P.Z. Myers recently hipped me to your column (through his blog, I don't know the man) which you quaintly call, "A Dose of Honesty." While your latest column may indeed represent you and your feelings honestly it fails on so many levels to appreciate the US constitution, and the basic rule of law. I'm not sure what you learned in your career at CSU but consistency, logic, the ability to craft a cogent argument certainly seems to have slipped through the cracks. Like so very many theocrats though, you dislike other's rights if they use them to argue against positions you hold dear. And like so many other fascists you endorse the childish thing, which is one form of bullying or another.

The North Carolina Atheist and Agnostics took the legally protected course. They excersized their right of free speech, purchased time on a billboard (no cheap endeavor, costing often thousands of dollars) and advanced an argument for the US they ant to see. You may disagree with the ommission of "Under God" but instead of seeing the broader message, which was also an argument for great unity among the citizenry, you approve of lawless infringement of free speech. Do you think as a Christian you are above the law? Do you think sneaking around, and hiding after such an act demonstrates bravery? This wasn't civil disobediance, this was simply criminal cowardice, but since these cowards agree with you I guess you think that makes it alright. You must because you say (without a hint of apology):

Just when I start believing there is no hope for our country I get a little reminder from my God that all is not lost. It was reported June 29 that a billboard sign sponsored by a North Carolina atheist organization had been vandalized. The ad reads, "One Nation Indivisible." It seems someone didn't think the sign was an accurate depiction of our Pledge of Allegiance, so the vandals inserted "Under God" with spray paint – and I couldn't be more relieved. It's nice to know that I am not alone in my beliefs and that some people are still willing to stand on the right side of truth.

The Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s also failed to say "Under God." But that is really neither here nor there. I'm shocked at your sense of relief though. I mean it appears that you think your only recourse to the arguments of atheists is vandalism, or some other infringement of free speech. That you can possibly think, as a believer, that you are alone is almost irrefutable proof of the break you have taken from reality. You are hardly alone as any demographic study will show. Christianity is hardly an oppressed minority in this country. It isn't even an oppressed majority. I understand your dissappointment that we don't live under a Christian Theocracy, but almost all US politicians profess membership in one Christian sect or another. At the very least they claim some faith position. I think there is only one open atheist representative at the federal level. The Obama administration is in fact defending the National Day of Prayer. It is sad that vandals and cowards seem to be the only ones able to bring you relief when so many other things should make you almost giddy with relief at the religiousity of the US. Nor are your vandal heroes standing on the right side of truth. That would require them to be honest from the start. Does standing up for the truth begin with infringing on someone else's rights? I think that is an important question you should ask yourself before you go lionizing criminals.

You have no idea how this country works it appears, though you might fit right in as enforcer for radical imams and mullahs. We can see your fundamental disdain for the US Constitution, and specifically your radical hatred of the 1st Ammendment in the following.

Never would I encourage vandalism, but in this case I think I'll let it slide. Atheists have been vandalizing my beliefs for years, so it's about time the shoe was on the other foot. When asked about the vandalism, William Warren, the spokesman for Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics, said, "It was done by one or two people off on their own who decided their only recourse was vandalism rather than having a conversation." Hmm. That's interesting, because the Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics felt its only recourse was to deliberately insult those who understand the importance of "Under God." They probably figured that because the Bible teaches Christians to turn the other cheek, we'll just take their abuse forever. We will only take so much before we stand up against our oppressors. Besides, I can't count how many times an atheist and I have had a "conversation." They're not as calm and passive as Warren suggests.

It is hard to know where to begin. Criticism, and even ridicule of ideas isn't vandalism. It does no harm to you or your property however much it may affect the state of your rather excitable mind. If I say, through a billboard, or in passing conversation, that it might be better if we returned to a more secular and inclusive version of the Pledge, if we are to have one at all, whatever I have done, I haven't limited your ability to counter that statement with a billboard or other argument. The vandals you so love have directly impeded on the free speech of others, and cost them no small amount of money to boot. So the shoe as you put isn't even close to on the other foot. My disagreement with you about the ontogeny of the universe hasn't cost you any money, or property, nor limited your ability to express a contrary opinion. If your heroes really wanted to take a stand, they could have written arguments in the editorial pages of the papers, they could have gathered funds to put up their own billboard. This type of engagement, the "conversation" to which William Warren was referring, was it just too much trouble? And the call to respect the rights of others, was that just too onerous a burden? It must have been for your vandal heroes.

It should also be noted that the phrase, One Nation, Indivisible is in no way an insult to anyone. It was infact the original phrasing prior to the crazyness of the McCarthy era, and hearkened back to the seniment of the original, and vastly better national motto, E Pluribus Unum (go look it up). In the hands of the Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics it also took the form of a short argument for unity inspite of our many sectarian and political differences. If you think that Under God is so important to the pledge, the fora available to your opponents is also available to you, a fact to which myriad Christian signage from coast to coast attests. You might also note that Christian signs vastly outnumber atheist/agnostic signs, which should give you pause when you talk about your oppression.

And that brings me to my next point. It is probably safe to say that Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek never, never, ever factored into any atheist or agnostic's decision to put up a sign, write an editorial, offer a critique, or ridicule a religious idea. The only assumption that most of us make is that you will simply utilize the same tools of rhetoric, logic, evidence, and media that we will. What we don't expect are criminal tactics. I guess if you have your way, it may be necessary to alter said expectations.

The horrifying conclusion to your endorsement of violence (of which vandalism is a form) succeeds in actually making me sick to my stomach. You say what I would never, and could never say. I find most Christian billboard hilarious, silly, logically flawed, scientifically flawed, philosophically flawed, and sometimes gramatically flawed, but I would never support any such criminal act to limit the free expression of either the sponsoring group's speech or religion. Certainly I may oppose the ideas contained therein, but in the arena of ideas. But such discourse must make you uneasy because you clearly are having none of it.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the man or woman responsible for this vandalism. I appreciate the action you took. Thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone. It took a lot of guts to do what you did – and the fact that you haven't stepped forward to take credit makes you a hero. It shows everyone that you are more devoted to the message than you are to the spotlight. I encourage you to keep your cover. Don't give the secular world a reason to call your name; instead, let them call for our God.

I also need to extend a thank-you to some people in Sacramento and Detroit. In February, 10 atheist billboards were defaced in the Golden State and a slew of atheist bus ads were vandalized in Detroit. My dose of honesty this week: I am not happy that vandalism seems to be the only way to get an atheist's attention. I'm happy that I can count on other Christians to stand up for themselves and for Christians everywhere. It gives me hope.

The fact that they haven't stepped forward means they lack integrity and courage. It is sad that you fail to see that rights have been infriged upon. There is no principled opposition on display here. This is simply hoping to not get caught. There is only one message here and it is simply this. Only I, Christian Vandal, have First Ammendment rights. Do you really think this kind of cowardly act will cause people who support secularism (as the majority of our founding fathers did) to call for your god?

That you think vandalism, read violence, is the only way to deal with what is clearly a minorty view point says a great deal about the very merits you think your argument has. You fail to realize, or maybe you do realize it, that your entire "Dose of Honesty" seems to say that it is okay to utilize criminal means to silence an unwelcome argument.

I suppose it is an old story though. The behavior of those who imagine themselves backed by god is often atrocious, barbaric and deeply inhumane.

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At 8:06 PM , Anonymous Laurie said...

A cracker, Max. You've nailed it.

At 8:00 AM , Blogger Caudimordax said...

Awesome, Max! Do you think she'll get it though? Some of the words aren't very small :D

At 7:44 PM , Blogger DUG853 said...

A great examination and refutation of chrissy satterfields' meanderings.

Thank You for being as thoughtful and succinct as You were with this Open Letter.

At 9:10 PM , Blogger sambricky said...

These people have no idea what it means to keep your cool. We have to see a church every other block. Everywhere you go somebody wants to pray about something. Religion has it hands in the governments back pocket Most of us where indoctrinated into christianity in our youth without our consent. And we still maintain our composure when we should be ripping these people out a new ***hole.

At 9:00 AM , Blogger Bob Wood said...

The vandal probably got the billboard more viewers than the billboard would have gotten without the debasement. If the vandal hadn't defaced the sign, the sponsors should have.
As an atheist, I could care less whether "under god" is in the pledge or not. It could read "under the turtle" and mean as much.
Based upon available evidence, there probably isn't a god. If there is evidence, we'd all like to see it. Basing belief in a book written when not only did most folks NOT know anything...but didn't even suspect anything, doesn't seem reasonable.
Read history, see how many people have been killed, mutilated, maimed, disfigured and displaced...all for the "Love" of god. Faith, said Mark Twain, is making up your mind to believe what you know ain't so.


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