Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The "God" Deletions

That’s a purposely ambiguous title up there. Is this post about deletions of the word “God”? Or is it about deletions by “God” or — given the quotation marks — people who claim to represent some supernatural character whom they call “God”?

Well, it’s about both.

Deletions OF “God”

If I had my way, which is not really my way but, rather, the way of the framers of the Constitution, the word “God” would be removed from all enterprises sponsored, directly or indirectly, by the American government. Article VI and The First Amendment are quite clear on that point: “God” has no official business here. Let’s take that silly, but loaded, word off our money and out of our pledge. Let’s banish it from our courts, from our legislative chambers, and from the mouths of our elected representatives. And, since, according to the third clause of Article VI, religion can’t be used as a test for official office or “public trust,” let’s keep those fucking spiritual advisers away from the president. The views of religious leaders who counsel our elected officials are selected, weighed, vetted for conformity to America’s alleged Christianity. That’s a religious test, folks.

There’s nothing more unAmerican, more anti-patriotic, than elected and appointed governmental office-holders intoning the word “God.” Why? Because the wise men who drew up our Constitution and its Bill of Rights consciously and purposefully chose to leave that word out of their formula, and to take steps to make sure it would never be included in any future activities done specifically under the auspices of the government they created.

Perhaps the writers of the Constitution didn’t foresee the loopholes. They mistakenly thought that all our laws would be passed by the legislature, instead of many “laws” being enacted by the executive branch and by governmental agencies. With that erroneous thought in mind, they voted to include the First Amendment, which specifically banned our legislature from pandering to the superstitious: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Notice that they didn’t write “an establishment of a religion,” which would argue against elevating a specific belief system over others. No, what they said was “an establishment of religion,” with no article, no qualifier. Religion, itself, cannot be established by the legislature. The spirit, if not the letter, of their ideas should be extended to the Oval Office and the Supreme Court, and, therefore, to every executive office and courtroom under the titular jurisdiction of either.

Stop forcing “God” on me, you tyrants.

Deletions BY “God”

OK, let’s start by admitting the obvious: There are many reasons for blogging. Not everyone is interested in sharing ideas, discussing their own and opposing views, or debating with passion and at least some degree of coherence.

In this neck of the Atheosphere, though, we all seem to enjoy doing those things. If you check out my list of frequent commenters, you’ll see the names of lots of people with whom I’ve engaged in intellectual smack-downs, people who have eagerly and effectively jabbed me back. Almost everyone on that list has argued with others in that “honor” roll, although many of us consider one another to be friends. We may get nasty, satirical, or just plain silly. Sometimes, we even piss each other off. A lot. Yet, when we cool down, we can acknowledge that the attacks aren’t personal, they’re back-and-forth thrusts about ideas. To me, taking part in a vehement verbal dispute is a way of showing that I respect another person, although not necessarily his or her opinions about a particular subject. You’ll never see me (and most of us, I think) whining — as one commenter did here: “Obviously you don’t like me.” How stupid and irrelevant is that?

One thing most of us don’t do is delete comments. We may refuse to engage in debate with some people who do write ridiculous remarks, even urge our readers to avoid feeding the “trolls.” But we don’t ban anybody’s ideas from our premises. Most faithfreeists champion Freedom of Speech. In our opinion, it may well be the most valuable right we possess.

But go take a look at some religious blogs. I’m not giving you any links; just pick a few sites at random. What you’ll find, for the most part, are “moderated” threads. If the blog-owner doesn’t care for what someone says, if it offends “God,” then, bam!, it’s gone. Back to the ether. Deleted. The attitude seems to be:

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s have a debate. Only I’ll remove most of the things you say because they’re offensive and they’re aimed at me personally.

I win!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

Whether you agree or disagree with anything I've written here, feel free to leave a comment. I promise: I will not delete it.


Anonymous said...

If this comment disappeared, would it be safe to assume goddidit? Just think of all the potential believers you could win to Jesus by deleting this, Ex! Go ahead, I dare you!

The Exterminator said...

Obviously you don't like me.

PhillyChief said...

It annoys me to no end when these "good, honest, fair minded" christians moderate their blogs and won't allow certain comments to appear either at all or maybe after a few days once they've asked all their friends and combed over every apologetic site to have an answer so they then can follow your comment with their response. This gives the impression that they could so easily dismiss your argument that it only took a minute (which is the time discrepancy between when you comment appears and theirs) for them to do so.

If you have to rely on tricks, deception or outright censorship, then your position must be pretty weak.

You know what else pisses me off? When they won't let something appear due to the offensive language. I find it much more offensive when someone thinks they can argue a point when they clearly haven't yet mastered the use of the English language then someone who makes a point seasoned with some colorful expletives. Maybe we should have a policy on our blogs where any comment that fails to exhibit a mastery of the English language will be considered offensive, and summarily deleted.

The Exterminator said...

Yeah, that's it. Everyone who comments has to figure out a way to work "fuck" or a variant into each comment. Otherwise, the rest of us will call that person a "wuss."

By the way, I noticed that you were uncharacteristically non-salty in your comment. Would you care to correct that?

Or were you just demonstrating that, obviously, you don't like me?

PhillyChief said...

Fuck you, of course I don't like you. I don't waste time visiting blogs of friends. Where's the fun in that?

John Evo said...

I think this is a subject that has been on many of our minds lately. I know it applies more to things that have happened to Philly and SI than you or me, but it's annoying as hell even to hear that someone is being censored at a blog. And I can honestly say that it's not just because they are friends who I happen to agree with for the most part. If one of them were deleting comments because the visitor was particularly insulting, I'd be annoyed by that as well.

Even though several of us have given this some thought lately, I still think you stole this post idea from me. I never did like you much. If you are going to call me and get great ideas, at least warn me that you are going to steal it from me.

The Exterminator said...

If you're going to continue not to use foul language, I'm going to have to turn moderation on.

John Evo said...

Stop stealing my fucking ideas you rat-bastard.

yunshui said...

I especially like Ray Comfort's comments policy on "Atheist Central" (WTF, Ray?):

Cuss words (mild or abbrev.), blasphemy, URL’s, incivility, or failure to give
the name "God" or "Jesus" capitals, will be deleted.

That's right, folks - Ray will censor you if you don't use enough capital letters. That's how you can tell it's a Christian website. They do love their CAPS LOCK RAGE!

DB said...

Fuck> I personally like the blogs who "delete" the comment but since they are utter morons, they have yet to figure out how to remove it completely...leaving their blog post riddled with "deleted comment" comments. I don't delete comments as many are just amazingly awesome, for instance from yesterday:

"Sorry intellecual evidence atheist peeps. I am a non scientific dope. deal."

How could I delete that?? /FUCK <--cap rage ftw!

Anonymous said...

I've disallowed comments in the past because they were irrelevant to the topic or just examples childish toy-flinging. I was tempted to leave them as bad examples, but I thought I might end up just making more work for myself.

I don't think it's unreasonable to delete things which don't meet your comment policy.

In general though, I agree that censorship doesn't solve the problem and the response to bad arguments should be good arguments.

tina FCD said...

You guys are just too smart for those fuckers, it pisses them off royally.

Anonymous said...

Denying who created you...for a few years anyway.

Unknown said...

With regard to the "establishment of religion" phrasing in the 1st Amendment, I don't believe the word 'establishment' is to be read as a verb, but instead as a noun.

Read that way, it's not about establishing a religion, but about making no laws concerning any existing religious establishment.

This makes things a little trickier, I think...

Anonymous said...

I started out figuring that my blog was a free speech zone. After a couple of truly bizarre (and (to me) offensive) comments, I put in rules (no moderation, just rules). Ex here (along with some others), politely pointed out that I was being a hypocrite and an ass. My view has matured since then and I have almost come to look forward to these bizarre comments from an alternate universe. There have even been a couple which could be used as an examplar of Poe's Law. Fun shit.

As far as removing the three word obscenity from public life, sounds great. All these 'strict constructionists' should get right behind that, jump on the bandwagon, and start deleting away.



Still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Crap. Left out a sentence (they say when you get older you start to. . . start to . . . huh?). Should say in the immediately preceding comment: ". . . eing a hypocrite and an ass. I realized that they were right, and I took down the rules. My view has matur . . . "

PhillyChief said...

"Ex here (along with some others), politely pointed out that I was being a hypocrite and an ass."

Hey, we "others" have names pal, and I don't remember being polite (or Ex either).

Anonymous said...

Philly: Yes, you helped point this out. I plead guilty to (a) not remembering the others who pointed out my assness and (b) to being too lazy to go back, find the post, and see who did point out my assness. Considering the idiocy I had posted, ya'll were polite. You handed my ass to me in an appropriate manner, and being appropriate to the situation is a pretty good working definition of polite. It worked, though.

The Exterminator said...

(For some reason, I keep typing "yunshit." No offense meant; I guess it's just force of habit.)
I think someone should publish a bible in which any angry character speaks in all caps, with lots of exclamation points (and bad spelling, of course.) Jeremiah, for example, would be a hoot.

Do they make atheist Peeps now? I thought they only came in the shape of chicks and bunnies.

I don't think it's unreasonable to delete things which don't meet your comment policy.
Well, I think it's unreasonable to have any comment policy at all. What's the point of inviting discussion if you're going to control it by eviscerating what some people say?

You guys are just too smart for those fuckers.
Actually, it's us atheists who are the fuckers. Christians don't approve of sex.

Denying who created you...for a few years anyway.
I've never denied either my mother or my father -- or the milkman, for that matter. (You never know, right?)
Anyway, what the fuck was your comment about? And what was your point in leaving it? Surely, you didn't expect all of us atheists to suddenly say: "Hey, did you read Anonymous's insightful words? He makes a great point! Praise Jesus!" I've got news: Even the mythical Jesus, himself, would have thought your comment was dumb.

"Establishment" is always a noun. Unfortunately, it has two meanings: "the actual institution that has been established" (as in: "I'd never have lunch in this sickeningly Christian dining establishment"), and "the act of establishing" (as in "We oppose the establishment of religion, or the sucking up to it in any way"). You're reading the word very narrowly if you think the First Amendment refers to the first meaning. I'm confident that the framers were using it to convey the second meaning.

I've never "politely" pointed out anything in my life. You must have me mixed up with somebody else. But I'm pretty sure it's not Philly.

I don't remember being polite (or Ex either).
I also don't remember you being me.

Anonymous said...

Attempted sarcasm. Epic fail. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Won't happen again. At least, not intentionally.

John Evo said...

Fuckin' Ex... can you ever be serious? Is everything a joke to you? You think this life is funny? Do we amuse you?

The Exterminator said...

Evo asked:
Do we amuse you?
Well, you do, anyway.

John Morales said...

Shit, you're doing this all wrong.

Don'tcha know you're supposed to go to evangelical sites and stick some sort of idiotic comment with a spam link back here? The more stupid, the better, apparently.

Sheesh. We gotta learn from these Christians.

Rhology said...

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s have a debate. Only I’ll remove most of the things you say because they’re offensive and they’re aimed at me personally.

I win!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!

Um, atheists do the same thing sometimes.
Is the high horse really called for?

Christians don't approve of sex.

Not everyone knows that this is hyperbole; could you at least be so kind as to correctly represent the other side?

PhillyChief said...

Let's see, oral? That's frowned upon. Anal? Frowned upon. Gay? VERY frowned upon. Premarital? Frowned upon. And by frowned upon, I mean will do anything to make it not happen, including try to make it illegal.

Is that correctly representing the other side?

Rhology said...

Oral - only frowned upon by some.
Anal - you want to destroy your rectum? Be my guest.
Gay - correct.
Premarital - correct.
marital - you didn't mention

So what you're saying is that he didn't correctly represent the Christian position. Thank you for proving my point. I was expecting him to backpedal with a "it was just satirical hyperbole!!!" That would have at least been halfway respectable.

PhillyChief said...

So in other words, I could claim victory over anyone who said humans have two legs since not every human does? Good to know. That will clearly pad my win column. Thanks. :)

The Exterminator said...

Well, if it isn't our old pal, Rhology. And, as usual, you've found an excuse to link to your own blog.

I will answer your questions, though, because at least one of the points you raise is a good one.

I think atheists who delete comments are just as unjustified as Christians, or any other religionists, in doing so. You'll notice, however, that in my post I specified "In this neck of the Atheosphere" and "One thing most of us don't do is delete comments." You probably have a good idea what I meant by "this neck of the Atheosphere" and "most of us," because you're familiar enough with this blog to know who the regulars are around here. I challenge you to find a comment deletion -- outside of pure spam -- by any of the people who visit No More Hornets regularly. But I can't speak for other atheists, nor would I have the arrogance to do so. And you know how fucking arrogant I am!

But, yeah, I think that an allegedly open debate should in fact be open. And I mean completely. I'm not saying that anyone is required to respond to what you say. But commenters should be free to write anything whatsoever, using whatever words or terms they choose. And, at least here, they don't have to be respectful of one another, or polite. They can go off-topic. They can include links (although I'd ask people to limit their links per comment to no more than three, and, if possible, fewer). They can cut-and-paste quotes, as long as there's no copyright infringement when they do so. They can spell badly, punctuate poorly, and mangle grammar and syntax to their hearts' content. Free speech is free speech, and this is a free speech zone.

In fact, if you find that your comments are consistently being excised at a particular atheist's blog, you might want to send me a private email. Although most of what you say is utter nonsense, I would vociferously defend your right to say it. There are others here who, I'm fairly certain, would agree with me. It wouldn't make me happy to have to defend a smug Jesus-jumping troll like you against an atheist, but in a free speech matter, I would. So, seriously, do let me know -- although not by linking me to your blog. Just email me a short note.

Not everyone knows that this is hyperbole.
My feeling is that if you recognized it as hyperbole, most of my other readers will also see it as such. I do think that Philly's point was well taken, though. There are at least some areas of sexuality that you, in your capacity as a spokesperson for Christians, don't approve of. When you write Jesus's Guide to Acceptable Sex, please send me a review copy.

Rhology said...

I linked there b/c it is relevant.

Anyway, you're not the atheist blog police and I don't think you consider yourself as such. I just wanted to let you know it's not just a theistic thing, this suppression of dissenting voices. I've encountered it at more than a few atheist blogs and liberal Christian blogs alike.
Though I admit, to have you and your friends have a few laughs at the expense of a guy with a blog persona that is pretty mean and nasty... it's tempting, I have to admit.

There are at least some areas of sexuality that you, in your capacity as a spokesperson for Christians, don't approve of.

Which I freely admit. But of course, your original comment was:
Christians don't approve of sex.

For one thing, I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of deutschmarks that no one here has the grasp of Christian theology that I do, so whether anyone else caught the hyperbole is definitely questionable.

Anyway, anyone can see that you've now moved the goalposts.
Just admit it was hyperbole, that you overstated this (for no conceivable reason other than to fire off an unjustified and misrepresentational cheap shot) and let's move on.

PhillyChief said...

It's not an issue of being the atheist blog police, for that would imply there's different justice for different folks. It's about championing free speech.

I will say though that there are some who delete trolls, like spam posts, and most of what Rho posts are troll posts. It doesn't make it right, but I understand the reasoning for it. Personally, I'd much rather allow people all the rope in the world to hang themselves.

Rhology said...

Troll posts?
Apparently "anything that disagrees with me" is PC's definition of "troll post".

Sure, PC, sure.

The Exterminator said...

I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of deutschmarks that no one here has the grasp of Christian theology that I do ...

It so happens that if by "here" you mean anyone listed as a Frequent Commenter, you'd lose those deutschmarks. So if I were you I'd rescind that bet.

In any case, what does Christian theology have to do with individual bigots' attitude toward sex. Do you think the ignorant couple next door who hate fags have any knowledge of Christian theology? What about the one-toothed clerk at WalMart who can't stand the idea of premarital sex? Or the priss who wouldn't even dream of giving or getting oral gratification because he or she thinks Jesus doesn't dig it?

I'll repeat, hyperbolically, Christians don't approve of sex. They do approve of being fruitful and multiplying -- like roaches, say, or lizards -- but, for the most part, they don't feel comfortable admitting that sex is an acceptable activity just for fun.

PhillyChief said...

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Rhology said...

Yup - 'irrelevant or off-topic', which my comments aren't.

Thanks for playing.

PhillyChief said...

Of course if you simply have faith that you're not a troll, there's nothing I could say or do to dissuade you. ;)

Rhology said...

you'd lose those deutschmarks.

Given the quality of the commenters I've seen around here so far, I kinda doubt it.

what does Christian theology have to do with individual bigots' attitude toward sex.

I'm answering you on your own terms, and you're moving the goalposts *again*.
You said:
Christians don't approve of sex.

And now you want to take a few "ignorants next door who hate fags" and make them equal "Christians", qua "most/all Christians".
You could've said "a very few Christians don't approve of sex" and that would be defensible.
Just withdraw the comment and you're good.
The only catch is that you'd have to admit you were wrong. You're not the type, and so you'll apparently fall on your own sword over sthg so minor. It's a little sad.

I'll repeat, hyperbolically, Christians don't approve of sex.

But they all approve of INTRAMARITAL sex. So once again, you miss the mark.
It's not that hard, man. You're just being stubborn.

they don't feel comfortable admitting that sex is an acceptable activity just for fun.

1) Prove it.
2) Once again you move the goalposts. This is like the 3rd or 4th time.
3) I admit that 100%. Kinda leaves you in the lurch, doesn't it?


The Exterminator said...

You know, Rhology, you really are an idiot, aren't you? I don't believe you're trying to score some kind of a point -- for use in what contest? -- by having me admit that an obvious bit of snark was a bit of snark.

Christians are so stupid.

PhillyChief said...

Ha! Prove all christians are stupid! Prove stupid! Prove christians are christians! Prove my butt itches! Ha! You can't! You can't! Admit it! I rule! More points for my point box! Ha!

DB said...

Rhology: "I've encountered it at more than a few atheist blogs and liberal Christian blogs alike."

That was a pretty sly attack on liberal Christian blogs. Imo, the liberal Christian blogs are the least controversial with less reason to delete and have noticed that it is the right-wing fundy blogs who delete more than the liberal ones (aside from the evil atheists who are delete mongerers!). Ex, you may think you are arrogant, but this clown takes the cake.

Rhology said...

you really are an idiot, aren't you?

You know what? You're absolutely right. I'm an idiot for thinking you might take a serious question seriously and back up your assertions. I don't know why I thought that you'd break from your usual routine now.

PC said:
Prove all christians are stupid! Prove stupid!'re the guys who are all about evidence, and Christians are just moron fundies who make faith statements and never back them up.
Yet we see clearly in this and other comboxes the exact opposite - when I ask a question, all I get is naked assertions and mocking. If the shoe were on the other foot, what would The Ext and PC say?

More points for my point box!

Maybe I just care about the truth being spoken, PC. If you weren't so busy demonising me, it might be more obvious to you, though it's quite clear to most anyone else.

I can only speak from what I've experienced, since I've not gone to all liberal Xtian blogs. But liberal Xtians have a code called "tolerance", and if you don't conform to it then many have no problem suppressing your speech. Try talking like a conservative Christian in some liberal Xtian blogs some time and maybe you'll see what I mean. If you want, email me and I'll point out a couple to you.

The Exterminator said...

Ex, you may think you are arrogant, but this clown takes the cake.
You're asking for trouble, DB. Before you know it, someone will be asking you to define "clown" and "cake." If that happens, please make a distinction between clowns (good) and mimes (yuck), and between cake (good) and coconut custard pie (even better, particularly if you're a clown getting hit with one in the face).

I'm an idiot.
Wow. That admission ought to be worth -- what? -- five or six points, anyway. I'm hoping Philly has the rulebook handy, and can give us the definitive answer.

DB said...

Thanks for the offer Rhology, but I have no desire to visit "liberal" Christian blogs posing as a "conservative" Christian. It just seems odd that you are drawing a distinction between the if believing in Jesus wasn't enough to consider yourselves the same. I suppose this is where the phrase "true" Christian comes from. Then again, why should I care if all you Christians tear into each other anyways? It is rather comical.