NY State Senator Compares Atheists to Nazis

I‘m not a big fan of the billboards that American Atheists have up in Times Square. I think they’re needlessly aggressive and serve no good purpose. But NY State Sen. Andrew Lanza thinks they’re exactly the kind of thing that led to the Holocaust. I wish I were making this up.

Senator Lanza said, “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this intolerant and hateful group deliberately ridicules the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.”

“Not only do the people behind this group not believe in God but they obviously don’t believe in decency, civility and kindness to fellow human kind either. This is part of a continued “War on Christmas” and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God. Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust began with small evil baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.”

“While it is not surprising to me that people who do not believe in God are hateful and malicious, I would have hoped that the people who own this billboard, those who live in Manhattan and around Times Square and the community’s political leaders would have decried this hate speech as something not to be tolerated or allowed.”

“I am calling upon all decent people to send a message loud and clear that there is no room in our society for religious hatred or persecution. To send this message, people should boycott and stay away from Times Square and all those affiliated with hatred of this kind. If you agree, sign onto my petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of this advertisement which will be forwarded to the NYC Mayors Office, the NYC Council, the Attorney General’s office and the Times Square merchant community.”

Feeling a bit melodramatic, are we? There’s this pesky thing called the First Amendment. And you think a sign that you disagree with is “persecution”? Get a fucking grip. Oh, he’s also “calling for the revocation of the American Atheists’ 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status because he doesn’t believe that tax dollars should be used to spew religious hatred.” Yeah, good luck with that. You’d have to revoke the tax-exempt status of half the churches and nearly all the Christian right organizations at the same time.

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  • Wylann

    “I am calling upon all decent people to send a message loud and clear that there is no room in our society for religious hatred or persecution. To send this message, people should boycott and stay away from Times Square and all those affiliated with hatred of this kind. If you agree, sign onto my petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of this advertisement which will be forwarded to the NYC Mayors Office, the NYC Council, the Attorney General’s office and the Times Square merchant community.”

    Oh, I thought he was going to provide the mailing address and email of his own office.

    Self awareness, Lanza is doing it wrong.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    You’d have to revoke the tax-exempt status of half the churches and nearly all the Christian right organizations at the same time.

    Lies! That would be suppression of their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights, and we all know that small evil baby* steps of ridicule and hatred like those lead to the Holocaust.

     

    * Side note: has anybody ever seen a small evil baby? Adorable!

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    ““While it is not surprising to me that people who believe in God are hateful and malicious…”

    It goes both ways, Andy; be an asshole you’ll be called an asshole. Asshole.

  • elpayaso

    DR Asimov wrote a nice story about a small evil baby, called The Small Assassin. another great argument for the seventh trimester cutoff for abortions. and then there’s the Long Veal you get…….best enjoyed while wearing your “Darwin Mitt Uns” belt buckle……..

  • culuriel

    I would LOVE it if people stayed out of the Times Square neighborhood, or at least didn’t just stand around on the sidewalk not going anywhere and obstructing people actually trying to move. It is ridiculously crowded this time of year.

    Also, does this boycott extend to the subway stations underneath? Because that could screw up a lot of people’s commutes.

    Last, is Senator Lanza related to the shooter in Newtown at all? Someone ask him why he didn’t do anything to prevent the shooting.

  • raven

    In the xian hate sweepstakes:

    Gay hate is down.

    Atheist hate is rising rapidly. Woman hate is up also. Moslem and science hates are holding steady.

    I prophecy that atheist hate will be a long term winner. A new poll referenced on “Cuttlefish” just came out. US xianity continues its slide downward and all they can think of to do is turn the hate knob up.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    I see that the AA billboard is between a billboard for the family values tv series, “Homeland” and “Cougar Town”. They will be Senaturd Lanza’s next targets, I have no doubt.

  • Friendly

    @Modus: “Has anybody ever seen a small evil baby?”? Check out the “Images” section at http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/128565/evil-baby-orphanage.

  • Randomfactor

    But if they stay away from Times Square, they won’t see the AiG anti-atheist signs.

  • Michael Heath

    Here’s the sign I presume is Andrew Lanza finds offensive: http://goo.gl/9DOzVg

    This is a really idiotic stunt by American Atheists; is this demonstration of idiocy representative of their organization?

    I was just reading a Pew or Harris (forgot which) research poll that just came out revealing that non-believers continue to trend upward. And here we have American Atheists seeking to snatch defeat out of the jaws of looming victory (in a small tactical battle of course).

    And as imprudent as this is sign is, it’s not hate-speech or indicative of a hate-group. So Sen. Lanza is lying, which is par for the course.

  • http://www.pixelated-reality.com Alareth

    Remember everyone, religious freedom is defined as having the freedom to be a Christian and nothing else.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches Ed Brayton

    Yeah Michael, that’s the sign. Like I said, I don’t like it at all, but then I often don’t like the messages that AA sends out on things like that.

  • daved

    DR Asimov wrote a nice story about a small evil baby, called The Small Assassin

    That was Ray Bradbury, not Asimov.

  • Chiroptera

    …but they [atheists] obviously don’t believe in decency, civility and kindness to fellow human kind either.

    Huh. Did you try to tell that to Jessica Alquist?

  • Sastra

    I think you’re being unfair by not including the entire billboard. It’s a digital screen which continues the message.:

    “Who needs Christ during Christmas?

    Nobody.

    Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas!

    (CHARITY; lights; fun; FAMILY; Chinese food; Rockettes; snow; FRIENDS; parties; FOOD; music; movies; ice skating; human life)

    Happy Holidays!

    American Atheists

    Taken as a whole this is a much more positive message. Interesting that the media almost uniformly leaves off the rest of it. Or, rather, predictable.

    So I disagree with Ed on this. I don’t think it all that aggressive and love the pro-humanism pro-Christmas approach.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Sastra, it’s still wrong. The true meaning of Christmas “Here’s why you don’t hang around with your family”, via watching aunt Elsie hit uncle Burt across the face with a turkey drumstick while, deep in to the wine, both are arguing about whether the Polish or the Ukranians are the greater threat to the country. And I can’t forget the Christmas tradition of everyone gasping when Grampa talks about, earlier that day, “crossing the street to avoid some Shines”.

  • davefitz

    Andrew Lanza? That’s way too similar to the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza to be just a coincidence. Andrew Lanza supports baby-murder!!!!

    See, I can be just as fucking ridiculous.

  • davefitz

    I too hate this sign, and the others like it. Ed calls it aggressive. I agree. I’d call it a dick move. You’re not going to win any converts by pissing people off. Just put up a sign that says “Happy Holidays from America Atheists”. Hell, have it say Merry Christmas. We atheists love Christmas too (I do, anyway).

    And I have yet to meet anyone, atheist or otherwise, who is genuinely offended by someone saying, “Merry Christmas”. Great strawman, though. Fucking asshats.

  • coffeehound

    While it is not surprising to me that people who do not believe in God are hateful and malicious,

    Yeah, you’re right Andy, those evil bastards and their hate speech….your shorts bunching up in horror is just like the Holocaust.

  • dugglebogey

    This reminds of of my favorite joke I heard from Artie Lange.

    “All I know is the Jews must have done something pretty awful to get Hitler so mad at them.”

  • dugglebogey

    Or the Blues Brothers:

    “What kind of music do you have here? Both kinds, Country AND Western.”

    By “Freedom of Religion” we mean you are free to believe in the christian denomination of your own choosing….

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @davefitz and @Ed

    What does the sign say? “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody. […]”.

    I really fail to see how this sign is aggressive or a dick move. If “aggressive”, you mean “likely challenging to their beliefs”? Of course it is. That’s what we need. We need to make it socially acceptable to question religious beliefs, which frankly the AA sign didn’t even do. Repeated exposure is IMHO a good way to make it socially acceptable. You say the AA sign went too far? It didn’t go far enough. I would have went for:

    “Your god does not exist. You do not need Jesus to enjoy Christmas. Let’s all enjoy Christmas together without division or strife. – American Atheists”.

  • Sastra

    davefitz #18 wrote:

    I too hate this sign, and the others like it.

    Question. Notice the full quote of the sign in #15. If the first two lines were omitted, would you still call it a ‘dick move?’

    What if the first two lines were put in at the end, perhaps in smaller type?

  • thebookofdave

    Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust began with small evil baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others

    And Sen. Lanza knows a thing or two about evil baby steps, having been an evil baby as recently as five days ago.

  • Taz

    Clever response by American Atheists. Lanza called for a boycott of Times Square, so they’re putting up the same billboard in his district and daring him to call for a boycott there.

  • caseloweraz

    @Dave (#24):

    Your Internet is on the way, but we cannot promise it will arrive before Christmas.

  • caseloweraz

    Andrew Lanza: This is part of a continued “War on Christmas” and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God. Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust began with small evil baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.” (Emphasis added.)

    Won’t somebody please think of the Zoroastrians!

  • caseloweraz

    Modus: Side note: has anybody ever seen a small evil baby? Adorable!

    Sure! There was one in It’s Alive! Of course, it didn’t need to take “small evil baby steps” — it would just spring up off the ground and attack people’s throats. Cute!

  • caseloweraz

    Andrew Lanza: “I am calling upon all decent people to send a message loud and clear that there is no room in our society for religious hatred or persecution.”

    Not to worry, Senator Lanza. We are doing our best.

  • caseloweraz

    For the record, I also think the first two lines of that billboard are ill-chosen.

  • davefitz

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #22

    “I really fail to see how this sign is aggressive or a dick move. If “aggressive”, you mean “likely challenging to their beliefs”? Of course it is. That’s what we need. ”

    I just know how I react when someone tells me my beliefs or opinions are wrong when I have not solicited their opinion at all. I see them as arrogant and it gets me rather annoyed. I imagine many other atheists feel the same. It’s not an effective tactic, IMO. Debate is fine, discussion is fine. But this is neither. This is just an atheist saying, “You’re wrong”. So I don’t see why we think it would work on them, especially considering how incredibly sacred they hold their beliefs to be.

  • Sastra

    davefitz #31 wrote:

    I just know how I react when someone tells me my beliefs or opinions are wrong when I have not solicited their opinion at all.

    Do you feel the same about political billboards? Keep in mind that in order for debate to take place there first has to be a recognition that it’s okay to debate an issue. One of the problems with ‘religious privilege’ is that beliefs about the supernatural are tightly wound up with issues of identity, morality, and a sacred duty to never argue — and yet at the same time they are supposed to be supremely important and objectively true.

    My question to you in #23 is still relevant, because it now looks like American Atheist is taking the latter half of the billboard and posting it near city hall nativity scenes. I’m curious as to what you think about it.

  • davefitz

    @Sastra

    No, I don’t think I would feel the same about a political billboard. I guess it would ultimately depend on the content, but to me politics is not as personal an issue as this. I think the AA can debate the issues, let people know we’re out there and inform the public without taking an aggressive, uninviting stance like they did in the billboard. It’s too off-putting to do much good. It just entrenches the people we want to reach.

    I like those displays. It essentially says what I proposed in #18. The spirit is the same. Good tidings to you and yours, basically. I think a main goal of atheists should be to tear down some of the horrible stereotypes we have. One of those stereotypes is the “angry atheist”. Telling people, during the holiday season, that their beliefs are wrong just enforces that.

  • davefitz

    *to clarify #33…”I like those displays” refers to your link in #32

  • Sastra

    davefitz #33 wrote:

    I think the AA can debate the issues, let people know we’re out there and inform the public without taking an aggressive, uninviting stance like they did in the billboard. It’s too off-putting to do much good. It just entrenches the people we want to reach.

    Heh. Keep in mind that the “aggressive, uninviting” AmAth billboard you hate and the positive “good tidings” AmAth display you like are the same one: the first has two extra lines, but the jist is the same. I also think that many religious people will take “Celebrate the True Meaning of Xmas” as a direct attack on their contention that Christmas requires Christ — which, of course, it is. Though we, of course, see it as retaliation.

    As well as warm, loving, and humanist.

    There’s not one single message that atheists want to get across. I think there’s a good possibility that too positive and reassuring a message — or only positive, reassuring messages from atheists — also entrenches religion. It seems to me that some of the people who scorn atheism the most also embrace the Neutral live-and-let-live atheism with special enthusiasm. Passion and a strong opinion doesn’t necessarily put off everyone we want to reach. Especially when we have better things to say.

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  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @davefitz

    You might be able to expect respect for you, your person, and your reasoning skills, but you better expect absolutely zero respect for any of your beliefs. We reasonable people respect reasons, not beliefs. Thus this sign is targeted expressly at you. There is no good reason why I should put on the kid gloves when it comes to religion as opposed to politics, especially when religion affects public policy more often than conventional politics discussions. Your comments have only reinforced my belief that the sign was the right thing to do, and I hope AA does more of it. I hope they put up more signs like that which include: “you are wrong” combined with “let’s try to enjoy this life together” and “you don’t need god to enjoy this life together”.

  • davefitz

    @Enlightenment Liberal

    “We reasonable people respect reasons, not beliefs. Thus this sign is targeted expressly at you.”

    Being an atheist, I don’t see how this sign is targeted at me. I’m already convinced.

    “There is no good reason why I should put on the kid gloves when it comes to religion as opposed to politics, especially when religion affects public policy more often than conventional politics discussions.”

    When religion affects public policy, I agree. Gloves come off in those instances. But telling someone, in a totally unsolicited manner, that their religious beliefs are wrong is counter-productive, IMHO. I’m not saying we can never say, “you are wrong” but there is a time and a place for that. And I think AA should focus more on policy than the substance of religious belief. Debates about the existence of god are boring and often ultimately futile.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @davefitz

    I’ll say it again. This sign also has a target of you. There is no “time and place” to challenge beliefs. Arguably, this “belief in belief” you have is even more damaging and dangerous than the Christians’s actual beliefs. It is belief in belief which stands in our way to rid the world of other dangerous and noxious beliefs.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Belief_in_belief