News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.11

July 30, 2011

1. Pay attention, American Atheists. THIS is how you win friends and influence people
While American Atheists and NYC Atheists are looking to sue everyone in sight and battle it out against 9/11 first responders and their families, Chris McCoy did something very different. He launched a campaign to raise $50,000 for charity using GiveBack and recruited fellow atheists to help him. This is how you change people’s opinions about atheists, not by behaving like Scientology.

2. Lesbian couple saves 40 in Norwegian shooting – If “God” had his way, Hege Dalen and her partner, Toril Hansen would have been stoned to death long ago. But fortunately for 40 presumably mostly straight Norwegians, most Christians lack the courage of their convictions and never got around to obeying that particular command from their god.

3. The Richard Dawkins Award goes to Hitch! – Last year, a controversy began over the award going to Bill Maher because of Maher’s outspoken superstitious views about medical science. But I doubt many will object to this year’s winner, Christopher Hitchens, who last year was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. And yet, in spite of the Big C, Hitch has remained as active as ever in battling religious superstitions while showing enormous grace in the face of almost certain death. I can think of no one who better deserves the award.

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This Day In Futury 7.30.14

July 30, 2011

On this day in 2014, the American Atheists will file a lawsuit against the federal government due to President Obama’s responding to a sneeze from one of the last living Holocaust survivors by saying, “God bless you.”

During a heated debate with the aforementioned Holocaust survivor on Fox News the following day, a spokesperson for the American Atheists will argue that because Obama’s salary is paid by public tax dollars, his statement was a violation of the First Amendment. Then after arguing with the Holocaust survivor, tripping a blind man, and punching a nun in the face, the atheist will proceed to attribute public disapproval of atheists solely to centuries of religious propaganda and not even in part to the backfiring of their own poorly thought out publicity stunts.

And on the same day the American Atheists’ lawsuit will be filed, the NYC Atheists will threaten a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), arguing that because The Met receives some public funding, it is unconstitutional for it to display the 19th Century European painting “Joan of Arc” by Jules Bastien-Lepage, which prominently depicts an historically religious figure. According to a representative for the group, the museum must allow atheists and other belief groups to include their own artwork of equal quantity in the museum, stressing the need for less religious-themed artwork from The Renaissance period.

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American Atheists in desperate need of a competent PR person

July 29, 2011

It seems as though every movement has at least one organization that loses sight of its goals and simply becomes obsessed with coming up with whatever crazy stunt will grab them headlines regardless of how it reflects on the very cause their fighting.

For instance, the animal rights movement has PETA, who have long ago abandoned taking any actions to actually prevent unnecessary animal cruelty, opting instead to be media whores who happily grab attention by declaring owning pets is equal to the African slave trade and consuming beef makes you a Nazi. The gay rights movement has GLAAD, who for as long as I can remember has been devoted to doing nothing but accusing non-homophobic celebrities of being homophobic bigots. And of course even most Christian fundamentalists who agree with 99% of what the Westboro Baptist Church says find their methods of media whoring vile.

Well, atheism is no different. We have several organizations that seem far more interested in grabbing any attention they can–usually by filing frivolous lawsuits–than actually doing something that demonstrably benefits anyone. Now I recently chastised the NYC Atheists for their asinine attempts to stop the naming of a New York city street “Seven In Heaven Way” to honor NY firefighters who died on 9/11 on the grounds that it somehow caused them great harm. As I pointed out, the argument they were making was weak and was stretching the interpretation of the First Amendment rather thin. I also pointed out why going up against a 9/11 memorial was politically a terrible play and would only feed into Fox News’ derogatory narrative  of atheists.

But now it’s the American Atheists turn to jump on an ill-conceived media stunt painting atheists as enemies of those honoring 9/11  victims. In this case, the American Atheists are filing a suit against New York over the infamous 9/11 Cross being included as part of a 9/11 exhibit. I could have told them this was a bad PR move beforehand, but now that Fox News literally pitted atheist Blair Scott against a 9/11 First Responder on the issue, my concerns have been proven correct (see clip in link above).

I like Blair Scott, but like the NYC Atheists, he’s talking out of his ass when it comes to this extremist interpretation of the First Amendment. The First Responder who debated Scott on Fox News is correct that there’s simply no real legal merit in the complaint. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art receive public funding too; so should they be prohibited from displaying religious-themed art?  There’s no injury being done and thus no actionable offense. This is little more than a shameless ploy to exploit 9/11 to grab some publicity.

Of course the girders are nothing miraculous. And sure, it’s unfortunate that religious nuts managed to capitalize on the vaguely cross-like image they create. And sure, I can understand its inclusion in a collection of artifacts from that day can be offensive. As someone living in NYC when the Towers fell and who breathed 9/11 every single day for many months in its aftermath, I certainly find it distasteful. But like I often tell the religious who protest the endless number of things that offend their delicate sensibilities, you don’t have a right to not be offended. Nothing in the Constitution says that atheists mustn’t be offended.

Can’t the American Atheists  focus on issues that, you know, actually matter instead of chasing any headlines they can get, even those that will inevitably be seen as atheists vs. 9/11 First Responders? The goal should be to expose that Fox News is WRONG about atheists, not to work with Fox News to further marginalize atheists from the rest of society. Unless that now is American Atheists’ goal. In which case, bravo. You’re succeeding in feeding public hatred of atheists. [applause]

But might I suggest an alternative approach. Actually seek out ways where atheists will be seen as the heroes of a news story–or at the very least, as the victims–instead of as the enemy of all that is good in the world. For instance, here’s a great pro-atheist news story about atheists helping others in the aftermath of another tragedy. See, that gets publicity for the RIGHT REASONS. Seriously guys, being more like Scientology should not be a goal to which you aspire. Can’t American Atheists afford a competent PR person? If not, hire me. I’ll give you a discount.


Ireland breaks up with the Catholic Church

July 27, 2011

Ireland seems to have had it with the Catholic Church’s child rape scandals and now are giving the Vatican the it’s not me, it’s youdefinitely you routine:

The airwaves are full of bitter remarks supporting Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s attack on the “disgraceful” Vatican, and recommending every anti-church measure from the dissolution of the monasteries to the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio and the severing of all links with the Holy See. (The recall of the Papal Nuncio this week marks the lowest point of relations between Ireland and Rome.)

One correspondent wrote that it was his ardent hope that the Catholic Church would follow the example of the News of the World, and hold a “last Mass” before shutting down.

The Taoiseach, meanwhile, has been met with standing ovations for his salvo against the Vatican for failing to respond with sufficient concern to the clerical sex abuse scandals as described in the Cloyne report.

This is a far cry from two decades ago when Sinead O’Connor was almost universally hated for declaring the previous Pope “the real enemy” while ripping up his picture on Saturday Night Live.

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50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God

July 26, 2011

Cartoon Sherri Tenpenny almost as frightening as the real thing

July 25, 2011

Someone has used Xtranormal animation software to create great video about the anti-vaccine movement:

Though the anti-vaxxer in the video is never named,  it’s pretty unmistakably Sherri Tenpenny:

Having been in the same room with her I don’t know if animation can quite capture all the evil that is Sherri Tenpenny yet, but bravo. We need more videos to expose the lies of these deadly charlatans. Vaccines save lives. For instance, it’s now being reported that chickenpox deaths have plummeted thanks to the vaccine, while 1,100 children in the Congo are dead from measles, a rare disease in nations with strong vaccination against measles.

And if the rare serious risks can’t be tolerated by the anti-vaxxers, then maybe they should look at how many people die from cars each year & launch a campaign to ban all cars.

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Casey Anthony case reaffirms why our court system works

July 21, 2011

I’ve been meaning to write something about my feelings over the mass hysteria that has consumed the nation in regards to the Casey Anthony case for awhile now but fortunately, one of my favorite YouTubers managed to say most of what I wanted to say far better than I probably could have.

And so take it away, ZJ:

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