Recently Hemant Mehta did an excellent job of mobilizing criticism of Albuquerque city councilman Don Harris for creating campaign literature that attacked his opponent for, among other things, being an atheist and contributing to a “Charles Darwin” scholarship. Harris, to his credit apologized for trying to exploit his opponents views on religion in the campaign, promised not to do so again, and to advise others not to do so either. But he also complained that Hemant only focused on the atheism issue and did not address any of his opponent’s own flaws as a candidate and campaigner.
But the issue here is simple: Friendly Atheist is an atheist issues blog, not an Albuquerque city counsel issues blog. He has no obligation to worry about anything related to Albuquerque or its politics that is unrelated to atheism. It makes perfect sense that he zeroed in on the issue relevant to his site’s activist concerns. Sites about gay rights will cover those dimensions of campaigns, abortion rights sites (for and against) will be happy to discuss abortion issues in various races. Economics blogs will cover economics issues. And hopefully local citizens run worthwhile blogs about local issues. That’s the nature of issues-oriened activism. And it’s a <strong>good</strong> thing that it’s this way because it allows greater niche strengths that when combined together make for a more informed debate.
We need different watchdogs and different debaters on every topic. To suggest that Hemant’s commenting upon the issue that fits his blog’s focus commits him unnecessarily to having to analyze non-atheism related campaign issues is to misunderstand the role and purpose of his blog. He has no obligation to turn his site into an Albuquerque city council blog just because he criticized a campaign tactic that has clear larger civil rights and 1st Amendment implications for its own sake.
But at least this whole episode has served two great purposes: it is has shown the potential of the atheist blogosphere to effectively stand up to discrimination against atheists and push back against negative stereotypes associated with us. And it has given us an awesome excuse to present you with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s masterpiece “Albuquerque,” presented in two parts in the form of wonderful fan-made videos that humorously bring the song’s hilarious story to life:
Ten years ago I listened to the Running With Scissors album from which this song came constantly during some stressful times. It was the perfect mood lifter. I think it is actually my favorite “Weird Al” album when all is said and done.
This song from the same album is one of my all time favorites and was the ultimate for cheering me up and worth highlighting on a blog with many readers who are skeptics, it’s Al’s send up of horoscopes and it also comes with a completely hilarious unofficial video. One bonus of having a legion of geeks for fans, as Al does, is that the fan-art is guaranteed to be top notch.
Yeah, that’s right, haters, I’m still unabashedly repping the “Weird Al.” Deal with it.