Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vandals, Obey Your Impulses

Less than 24 hours after being erected, the atheist billboard in Harrisburg was vandalized, leaving only the bible passage.  To be fair as quoted in the comments of the Friendly Atheist, the vandal probably couldn’t reach the top of the billboard.

Steve already weighed in…My two cents on the issue: is simply that a billboard of this kind was too far ahead of its time.  Americans/Pennsylvanians were not ready for something that challenges their religious beliefs, their sense of community, and their ethnic sensitivity. 

In twenty years or so, when the masses are understandably immune to the shock value of atheist rhetoric… (by this I mean when people’s faces don’t melt when they see the word “atheist” in print) we may be able to handle something like this.  If you want to see theist intolerance, I urge you to search “atheist billboard,” go to any website talking about it and read the comments. 

Do I think this was the correct message in the correct place?  No, on both counts.  It is inflammatory; which is no crime in and of itself: But --when you know that your message is going to instill high levels of anxiety and anger in your intended audience, you should take into account where that negative energy is going to go. 

I am by no means an expert in the cultural movement of atheism.  I am a participant.  I am also African American, although that really has no bearing on this.  The only objection that resonated with me for even a moment was the statement about the choice of slaves depicted.  They chose the image of an African slave, which can be seen as a provocation to African Americans.  This was chosen to point out how the bible was used to justify slavery in America.  It is another way to call attention to the Bible as Cultural Heritage angle that gave us Resolution 535 in the first place.  I don’t want to sound condescending here but it is just too sophisticated of a message to be sending with a billboard that invokes a visceral reaction from almost anyone who looks at it.

That said: Resolution 535: designating 2012 as the Year of the Bible is fucking stupid. It does not represent Pennsylvania as a collection of diverse individuals, but instead attempts to cram us all into a tiny little God Box

They should have put that on a billboard. 


Unknown said...

I dunno...the time is now. The feminist and civil rights peeps were probably seen as more extreme than lil' old us. Still, musta set the record for quickest stupid headedness, err, vandalism.