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Atheist sign joins nativity scene, tree at Capitol
Posted: 08 December 2008 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Now, now, children, don’t let your testosterone levels get out of control.  While I’m a proponent of the reduction ad absurdum technique of argument myself, try to at least maintain a facade of gentility.  smile

Brennen does not share that method of argument and I’ve found he is sensitive, possibly hypersensiitive to sarcasm, at times reacting strongly to it.  While Brennen started it by calling your post “childish sarcasm” (inaccurate - insults can be childish, but sarcasm is much more sophisticated), you did get carried away by going to the extreme, Sate. 

Rather than continuing this downward spiral, I suggest we all cool it and stop any further responses along this line.

Occam

(Note that although both Brennen and I are moderators, we have been using the standard black rather than the moderator-blue because we are posting as members, not moderators.)

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Posted: 08 December 2008 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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The atheist sign is now back on display. Next to it is a new sign which mocks the atheist sign. It was placed there by a local church who is mad at the atheists.

The church’s pastor said to the news reporters: “The No. 1 thing is, we want the state of Washington and the governor to represent everyone in the state,” said the Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson, the pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. “But just because you must represent everyone in the state doesn’t mean that you put up with intolerance from the people that you represent.”

(So he’s showing intolerance, to protest intolerance?)

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/12/irony_alert_1.php

“Let’s leave the final word in tolerance and fair representation of all view to State Rep. Jim Dunn, who also spoke out at the rally. “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.”

So now a GOVERNMENT BUILDING is THE HOUSE OF GOD? OK party is OVER. No one else is allowed to put up religious displays. You ruined it for everyone! Now everyone has to go home. No one can participate. Are you all happy now, churches?

rolleyes

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Posted: 08 December 2008 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Occam,

I have to disagree with your comments on my use of the word “childish,” which I think quite apt in this context. The following Merriam Webster defintion, while no more canonical than any, serves to illustrate why I chose it:

: marked by or suggestive of immaturity and lack of poise; lacking complexity

I find sarcasm when carried to absurd extremes to be a rhetorical sledgehammer, unsuited to making a clear or sophisticated point. Use of it generally reflects an immature desire to show off one’s rhetorical abilities or cleverness, and it rarely contributes substantively to the point being argued. Furthermore, it is derisive in intent, and as such unecessarily inflammatory. It is really a form of emotional outburst more than an argument. I find sate did an admirable job of illustrating my point with his ludicrous followup response, which was an merely eloquent verbal temper tantrum.

Sarcasm used judiciously can be effective in highlighting the absurdity or a truly absurd argument, though I still eschew it as much as I can since it always raises hackles unecessarily. But it is primarily a way of deriding an argument without answering it, as this thread show.

As for testosterone, I promise my distaste for the “venting spleen” version of sarcasm is strictly gender neutral. And, of course, hypersensitivity is in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll just have to continue agreeing to disagree about it. I appreciate your intent to impartially reduce the hostility level of the rhetoric in this thread, so I promise to let any subsequent rants go unanswered.

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Posted: 08 December 2008 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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PLaClair - 08 December 2008 04:32 PM

The first three lines of FFRF’s statement are fine, but the last one is like a heavy dose of bitter in a savory dish. The entire dish is ruined.

Agree - the end ruined it. I suspect they wanted to be provocative and a bit inflammatory. But I don’t like that approach. “Any publicity” is not good publicity. Atheists and Humanists are not Hollywood stars. Getting in the news at any cost is not necessarily a good thing.

I think they’d be much better off building their PR slowly and with good works. It’s so much harder to get in the news that way, but worth it.

The man behind the atheist sign is - interestingly enough - a former evangelical minister. I suspect he still has a bit of that “fire and brimstone in the pulpit” personality, which is carrying over to his new atheist mission. He may be used to ruffling feathers or startling people to get his point across. Just a thought.

Doesn’t matter that it’s true. In public relations, presentation is sine qua non. As the saying goes, do you want to be right or do you want to get laid?

LOL That laugh made my day. It’s so funny, but so true.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 09 December 2008 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Personally, I like the sign.  I really don’t think there is anything wrong with it and it should give people something to think about, not act like children, but they prefer to act like children.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 09 December 2008 09:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Mriana - 09 December 2008 01:10 AM

Personally, I like the sign.  I really don’t think there is anything wrong with it and it should give people something to think about, not act like children, but they prefer to act like children.

Personally I like it, too. That’s not the point. It’s out there to send a message to others. We don’t need it for ourselves. You can’t sell a negative message in a holiday display. Period. Not gonna happen. If we keep presenting ourselves like this, and secularists are around 1,000 years from now, they’ll still be wondering why their numbers are so small and no one likes them. If we want to advance ourselves, we are going to have to do things differently.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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PLaClair - 08 December 2008 04:32 PM

FFRF’s presentation is a public relations disaster. Every time one of our organizations does something like this, it sets us all back. We can afford some negativity if we have a positive image, but Humanist and secularist groups don’t have that; FFRF most certainly doesn’t.

The first three lines of FFRF’s statement are fine, but the last one is like a heavy dose of bitter in a savory dish. The entire dish is ruined.

Doesn’t matter that it’s true. In public relations, presentation is sine qua non. As the saying goes, do you want to be right or do you want to get laid?

A better display would show the community what we are for in a positive way. The absence of theistic or other myth-based narratives would be evident enough.

If we keep presenting ourselves in a negative way, the community will continue to dislike and distrust us. Like it or don’t, that’s how it works. If we want to make a difference, we have to start acting like it.

I listen to the podcast of the FFRF show every week, and I think you identified the reason why I didn’t like the message when I first heard it, even though I agree with the points made in the message: the natural world is the only one that exists, and should be the focus of our concerns, and religion causes more harm than good.

Nevertheless, it is a negative, confrontational message that doesn’t fit the general theme of celebrating the holiday. If we’re going to take part in whatever winter solstice festival we happen to want to celebrate, secular humanist messages should be about promoting positive values.

It seems to be a misplaced concern to be focusing on Christmas as an expression of Christians imposing their religious beliefs on society, since it mostly a celebration of secular themes such as Santa Claus, Christmas dinners, giving gifts, and putting up Christmas trees, lights and assorted decorations.

If we left it alone and just enjoyed the holiday, Bill O’Reilly and the religious right would have to focus their attention on backsliding Christians who have commercialized and secularized the holiday already—why else would they feel the need to repeat that stupid phrase: “Jesus is the reason for the season” each year.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Occam - 08 December 2008 04:35 PM

Now, now, children, don’t let your testosterone levels get out of control.  While I’m a proponent of the reduction ad absurdum technique of argument myself, try to at least maintain a facade of gentility.  smile

Brennen does not share that method of argument and I’ve found he is sensitive, possibly hypersensiitive to sarcasm, at times reacting strongly to it.  While Brennen started it by calling your post “childish sarcasm” (inaccurate - insults can be childish, but sarcasm is much more sophisticated), you did get carried away by going to the extreme, Sate. 

Rather than continuing this downward spiral, I suggest we all cool it and stop any further responses along this line.

Sarcasm is the basis and the tone of, all satire. That you (either of you, or anyone) do not like the message or the severity doesn’t actually amount to a coherent subjective appraisal of the rhetorical device. Such comments are at best irrelevant.
Occam your insights are well taken but your objections are not. I seek here to understand better the way in which you apply the rules. A moderator cast desparaging remarks then justified them by indicating they were targeting at content and not a person. If this is the standard, then I am just as free to make whatever comments I want about his or anyone’s content (but not the person). Therefore, I have no requirement to “cool it”.. whatever that could mean. You and the MD seem to be under the impression there is high emotion involved using words like testosterone, cool it, temper tantrum, etc.., in fact nothing in this thread apart from the stealing of the sign has been upsetting in the least. I commented on holidays, then I sought to clarify policy in fun, colourful terms. I’m a busy guy. I’ve no time for any threads that require intense emotional involvement. I find it ...significant that you imagine otherwise.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Sate,

I’m not sure whether you truly do not appreciate the affective conotations or impact of sarcasm or if you are being disingenuous. You seem to feel that your remarks carry no emotional content and that to view them such is an error or idiosyncracy on the part of the reader. I submit that this is itself and idiosyncratic understanding of the very nature of sarcasm. As an example (not, I emphasize, as a canonical definition), part of the wikipedia entry of sarcasm reads as follows:

Sarcasm is a form of speech or writing which is bitter or cutting, being intended to taunt its target.[1]...It comes from the ancient Greek σαρκάζω (sarkazo) meaning ‘to tear flesh’...Hostile, critical comments may be expressed in an ironical way such as saying “don’t work too hard” to a lazy worker. The use of irony introduces an element of humour which may make the criticism seem more polite and less aggressive but understanding the subtlety of this usage requires second-order interpretation of the speaker’s intentions

It is generally perceived to be use with the deliberate intent to insult or convey disdain. When someone identifies this hostility of tone to the speaker, it is often justified as a form of humor, as you have done. This may be genuine or not, but it doesn’t automatically relieve the speaker of responsibility for the perception of hostility the speech generated. You are clearly a fluent and articulate English speaker, so I am skeptical that you do not recognize the convention that sarcasm is generally perceived as hostile or insulting.

My initial post was not a reponse to the “message” but to the hostile and provocative tone of your preceding post, which is inconsistent with the tone we generally try to foster here, since such hostility and provocation is generally a distraction from the substance of debate. Occam has a higher threshold and greater personal taste for sarcasm than I, but even he appears to have felt you exceeded the bounds of civility we try to encourage members here to respect. I will grant that my response was unecessarily snide and itself provoked even more exaggeratedly hostile sarcasm from you, and so was not helpful. But I do consider the underlying criticism of your tone to be coherent, substantive, and justified. I will endeavor to be more careful in my responses in the future, so as to be consistent with my own guidelines, but I will continue to discourage what I see as your excessively exuberant and frequently insulting use of sarcasm on this forum.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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George - 04 December 2008 09:04 AM

It is also possible to include the reference to Jesus in Christmas and still treat it as a secular holiday. Santa claus, presents, the reindeer, the elves and all that stuff are a part of a North American tradition. In Czech R., where I grew up, it was baby Jesus who brought us presents, and all the Christmas carols sing about Bethlehem and angels. All of this had no effect on how religious the country was, since the Czech R. is one of the most atheistic countries in the world. No, Jesus is not the problem. It is those who believe he was the son of god and the rest of the nonsense. Look what happened to Easter. The eggs, little bunnies and chicks were used to celebrate the return of the goddess Eostre. Nobody cares for Eostre anymore, but the eggs and bunnies have remained. I’ll keep Jesus in my Christmas because it is a part of my tradition.

I also think secularing a winter end-of-the-year holiday when we get together with family & friends,  mixing Xmas and New Years,  works pretty well.  Xmas decorations are increasingly secular in the U.S.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 09:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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We have such a mix of holidays in both our families and our community, they all blend together. Although we celebrate a “secular Christmas” at our house, Christmas is hardly the only holiday around here. We have relatives, friends and neighbors of many backgrounds. When my son’s little friends come over it’s like the 2nd Grade United Nations at our house. I love it, he’s learning about so many different cultures, and is often invited to participate with friends during various celebrations.

In fact, he’s learned so much about Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, he’s glazed right over much of Christianity, and we had a laugh about it recently. Another mother picking up children at the elementary school asked a couple of the boys if they knew “the true meaning of Christmas” and my son beamed “The legend of Santa!” The mother a bit smugly corrected him, “It’s about the birth of the baby Jesus.” my son said “Who’s Jesus?” Surprised, she said “The son of god, of course.” My son says, “Your god had KIDS?” I had to stifle my laughter.

Of course, I’d told him the story of Jesus in the past, but he wasn’t very interested in hearing the story that I was telling. He was much more interested in learning what his friends (with what he considered more “interesting” religions) believed. Otherwise, the extent of his “religious education” was Jewish summer camp - where they kind of skip over the whole Jesus bit… so he sort of forgot about Jesus. It was kind of funny, I mean, he’s only seven. So I did go over that again with him later, so that if Jesus was brought up again he would understand who and what people were talking about from a cultural point of view.

As far as “the true meaning of Christmas” when we got back into the car to leave, I spoke with him on the way home about how, for us, the true meaning of Christmas was not Santa, but being together and celebrating our family’s love. He thought that was wonderful, but still wondered out loud if he’d get a Nintendo Wii if he was really well behaved.

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Posted: 11 December 2008 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Mckenzie we are simply not going to see eye to eye on the merit of edgy satire or the appropriate acceptable limit of “edge”. I do not believe my initial post was unduly hostile or provocative (though I hope it was provocative). I think it was funny and that it raised several legitimate critical points.
1) the inevitable loss of ground of religion vs materialism in high holidays
2) why do nontheists frequently champion an older religious holiday (solstice) vs a newer religious holiday (xmas). seems a silly means of protest
3) multiculturalism is fine but the crass me-too xmas multiculturalism seems hollow and pathetic
4) traditionalism vs progressivistic perspective to holidays. Turns out I like neither.

We share many values but weight them differently. You put more value in harmony, decorum, and “rated-G” inoffensiveness. I put more in competition, being engaging, and clarity/maturity. Wikipedia will not change this. If in the future an admin wishes to remove me then he should do as he must.. as will I. I will endeavour to be mindful of sensitivities. I harbor no ill-will, and consider the matter resolved.

Jules-
Very amusing indeed. Ironically, the best way to immunize children from harmful religious belief might be to expose them to religion.. to all of them. The greatest story ever told loses some magic after you’ve heard the 20th version of it.

As for the sign itself.. eh I’m ambivalent. I feel like both parts are wrong. The sign is a reaction to the clearly religious symbolism of the nativity. The sign doesn’t belong there because the nativity scene doesn’t belong there. Do we want to pursue equal right to be obnoxious in the public square?

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Posted: 11 December 2008 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Jackson - 10 December 2008 08:40 PM

I also think secularing a winter end-of-the-year holiday when we get together with family & friends,  mixing Xmas and New Years,  works pretty well.  Xmas decorations are increasingly secular in the U.S.

Does it really work, Jackson? I just went to my son’s “Christmas” concert and the only “Christmas” song they actually sang (it was the last one) was the Jingle Bells. I know they didn’t want to get anybody upset so they sang about happiness, smile, and Zeus knows what else. The moment they started to sing Jingle Bells everybody in the audience started singing along. It was a very sad and a happy moment indeed. But I understand it and I accept it. The world is getting smaller and some things will simply have to go.

Muss es sein? Es muss sein! Es muss sein!  downer

[ Edited: 11 December 2008 07:16 AM by George ]
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Posted: 11 December 2008 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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A secular Christmas decoration in the form of a two-feet tall wooden nutcracker fell on my new Baldwin piano today and put a dent in it. You see? I should have stuck to baby Jesus, who usually lies on his back and doesn’t fall over. Oh, my beloved piano…  downer

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Posted: 11 December 2008 08:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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George - 11 December 2008 07:12 AM
Jackson - 10 December 2008 08:40 PM

I also think secularing a winter end-of-the-year holiday when we get together with family & friends,  mixing Xmas and New Years,  works pretty well.  Xmas decorations are increasingly secular in the U.S.

Does it really work, Jackson? I just went to my son’s “Christmas” concert and the only “Christmas” song they actually sang (it was the last one) was the Jingle Bells. I know they didn’t want to get anybody upset so they sang about happiness, smile, and Zeus knows what else. The moment they started to sing Jingle Bells everybody in the audience started singing along. It was a very sad and a happy moment indeed. But I understand it and I accept it. The world is getting smaller and some things will simply have to go.

Muss es sein? Es muss sein! Es muss sein!  downer

I didn’t get your point completely before and maybe I do better now. There is another route that secularization can take, where Jesus becomes metaphorical the way Santa stays real in some metaphorical way, and we can take inspiration in some of the spirit without really believing it—just like elementary school kids go through Santa motions long after they realllly believe in it.  Some of the Christians just sort of defocus and don’t emphasize the details that don’t make sense.

I just got the Jennifer Michael Hecht Doubt a History book and it is interesting to read how people believed in the Greek Gods and then gradually didn’t.  When we study Greek mythology in school no one really teaches that people really really believed that stuff at one time.

I’ll have to reread your post to get a better handle on the source of your wistfulness—

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