December 5, 2008

In Heartwarming Display Of Tolerance, Atheist Sign Stolen And Thrown In Ditch

Reason's Greetings, everyone. Remember that sign at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington that had Bill O'Reilly all in a huff?*

Well, someone -- I'm not going to immediately offer a conjecture about of what faith they might have been -- stole the sign and threw it in a ditch. A good citizen rescued the sign and returned it to a radio station, which saw to it that the sign made its way back to the Capitol.

So to cheese off the person who does not want this message to be out there, and because I happen to agree with the message and find it worthy of republication, I'm going to reprint the contents of the sign in full, here.

At this season of
may reason prevail.
There are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell.
There is only
our natural world.
Religion is but
myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.

On the back, the sign reads:

State/Church: Keep Them Separate.

Hey, sign vandal! Guess what. If you insist on using public property to promote your world view, you obligate yourself to tolerate others doing the same thing. Instead, whoever it was who was so offended by the fifty-pound sign that they commited an act of theft and public vandalism to silence the message has only made the microphone of that message louder, and proven its truth to boot -- only a heart hardened by myth and superstition would fail to understand that freedom of speech means tolerating others' speech, too.

Now, wouldn't you have been better off if you'd have put your nativity scene in front of a church -- where that sort of thing really belongs? (Okay, that's the conjecture I didn't make above. But I don't notice pretty much any Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists getting upset about nativity scenes on public property having to share space with other points of view.)

I also note that in the linked CNN article, a group called the Christian Coalition of America demonstrates a similar sort of tolerance for advertisements in buses and metro cars in the Washington, D.C. area:

"Although a number of humanists and atheists continue to attempt to rid God and Christmas from the public square, the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts," Roberta Combs, the group's president said in a press release.

"We will ask our millions of supporters to call the city of Washington, D.C., and Congress to stop this un-Godly campaign."
I'll hasten to add that not all Christians are this way -- probably not even the substantial majority of Christians are. I'll wager that the substantial majority of Christians understand that they have to tolerate messages of people whose religious viewpoints are different from their own, and do so with equanimity.

But not the Christian Coalition of America! Explain to me, CCA, why it is fair that atheists shouldn't be allowed to advertise when Christians get to evangelize all they like. You can't because it's quite obviously not. You're fighting the wrong battle. This is not "get out of the public square." Rather, it's "we get to use the public square, too, so make some room!"

No safe harbor here -- these are people who quite simply do not believe in freedom of speech. They are therefore opposed to even tolerating the exercise of basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. Which, in turn, makes them enemies of the Constitution and liberty. If it sounds like I'm sneering at them, well, that's why.

* True story -- The Wife told me she read that blog entry and watched the O'Reilly video that I linked to. Here's what she said: "I've never really watched Bill O'Reilly before. Holy shit, what a blathering idiot!" I love her!


zzi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zzi said...

Would you feel the same if the KKK would put up a sign on Rev Martin Luther King Day. (in the capitol)

Burt Likko said...

The members of the KKK have the same rights as anyone else, even if the rest of us find their exercise of rights profoundly offensive.

So if a private entity is allowed to put up a display on public property on Martin Luther King Day, or if the government pays for such a display, then yes, the KKK has the right to put up a dissenting public display, too. It can't be otherwise, even for a speaker as unpopular as the KKK.