Jesse Galef and the Obnoxious CNN Interview Questions

So Jesse Galef of the Secular Student Alliance (on whose behalf I am awake in the wee hours of the morning blogging as part of a 24 hour blogathon) appeared on CNN today and the questions he got (nor the tone of voice he got them in) could not have been any more smarmy, indignantly reactionary, or obnoxious without losing the last pretense to objectivity. Notice in the video that the issue of truth is not even broached, we are just supposed to accept that religion does good for kids, period, end of story, no further complications, and therefore atheist kids should not be able to organize among themselves. And we are supposed to buy that suddenly indoctrination of kids is a horrible thing—when atheists are (only) allegedly doing it. Meanwhile systematic indoctrination, from the cradle to the grave, is the modus operandi of the major religions and yet your standard run of the mill representative of those groups would never be told to shut up and go away in so many words, as Galef was here.

And Galef received death threats over that nervous, earnest, firm and yet modest defense of the rights of atheist students to publicly fucking exist.

Jen McCreight has the moral of the story:

This is why what the SSA is doing is so important. We’re assisting students who are organizing on their own, and we’re seen as indoctrinating the youth. We appear on the news to amicably talk about that support, and we receive a death threat. Our existence is threatening to the religious because our existence says “You’re wrong.”

Remember, SSAweek is still going strong. Donate here.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Anne C. Hanna

    Ugh. That horrible woman (and Jesse’s calm and straightforward responses to her) have finally convinced me to crack open my wallet even though I’m trying to be frugal lately. We really do need more of what the SSA has on offer.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Thanks Anna!

    • JT Eberhard

      Thanks for the support, Anna!

  • baal

    I had been meaning to donate to SSA all week but the piece on CNN was the motivation that pushed me over the edge to do so.

  • skepticalmath

    That whole “some people say” pisses me the fuck off. If you believe something, don’t fucking hide behind “some people.”

    God damn.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Well in her case, she’s a journalist, she’s not supposed to be giving her own viewpoints.

  • James Croft

    I think Jesse did a great job with a tough interviewer here. At the same time I wonder about the framing of Jesse’s response as primarily a matter of people having doubts. I recognize for many people it is doubting the existence of god which leads people to organizations like the SSA. But it is also students embracing a positive set of values – equality, dignity, reason etc. – and I think that promoting those values will come across better (and be more difficult for people to respond to in a negative way).