Another Atheist Sign Vandalized

Yet another atheist sign has been vandalized, but this time it isn’t even a billboard or a sign advocating atheism at all, it’s a road sign that only says that a particular section of the highway is being cleaned up by the Omaha Atheists. Here’s a picture of what was done:

vandalism

And a report on what happened:

On Thursday, May 1st, I drove out to the Nebraska Department of Roads office to get the warning signs we’ll place to let traffic know that people are working on the highway. Since I was in the area anyway, I drove a bit further to visit “our” highway and scout places for parking, etc. I could tell from quite a distance that something was on the sign, but at first thought it could be a plastic bag, blown there by the wind, or just mud because of all the recent rain. I was very wrong. I pulled onto the shoulder and took photos of the sign to share with the board so that we could decide what action to take. I’m sure most of you have seen that photo by now, but I’m attaching it because everyone deserves to know what happened. There was no light in that act of vandalism, only darkness. Holding any one person accountable for the damage isn’t possible, since it’s not likely there were witnesses beyond the guilty party and there are barely lights out there, much less cameras. The Nebraska office has been notified and will replace the sign, at taxpayer expense, of course. Still, it should not be allowed to pass with a shrug of the shoulders and “Can’t do anything, so why try?”

I’m averse to any form of unpleasant confrontation and will go to great lengths to avoid it, in case anyone had never noticed. Really though – hey, have we met? That aversion disappears, however, when the target of the confrontation is someone, anyone, I care about and I care very much about this group. I made the board aware of the issue so that we could discuss how best to deal with the situation and draw something positive from it. We want to take an ugly act of ignorance and reverse it into a tool for education. You will be reading much more from the rest of the board regarding our plans for making this happen, and we will be asking for your support.

Now, this part is important: I would like our secular community, as well as the public, made aware of what happened because, while this is a small incident, it is also endemic of the disrespect we experience daily and small incidents tend to escalate. There are some in our community, having seen the photo, have mentioned retaliation and other excessive reactions. I completely understand those feelings, but that sort of revenge does us no favors and will only contribute to the stereotypes about us. I want to stay on the high road because the view is always better up there. Please travel there with me.

I want to ask questions. What was the motivation behind this? Who might have been so insecure in his or her faith that the mere existence of the word “Atheists” in public is a threat? Was someone so low on actual thought processes that they decided that a spray-painted cross would chase us away, like some talisman hung in a medieval forest to frighten the peasants? In my opinion, it was in all likelihood just another thoughtless expression of privilege and quite possibly a bored teenager. You know the type – Nebraska is a Christian state and you aren’t welcome here!

I think that’s quite likely. This is Christian privilege rearing its ugly head yet again and an attempt to tell atheists that they aren’t welcome even if they’re doing something good and useful. It’s bigotry.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Synfandel

    Some people just really like litter.

  • raven

    Atheist sign = A few dollars

    Xians demonstrating their moral and intellectual bankruptcy = Priceless

  • Kevin Kehres

    I can see the headlines now:

    “Nebraska Atheists Use Taxpayer Money To Promote Themselves”

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Most such signs that I’ve seen come in pairs, on either end of the “adopted” stretch of highway.

    Did both signs get sprayed, or do the Omaha Atheists face a slacker-vandal-for-Jesus?

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    I hope they make it very public when the county/city has to spend money to fix/replace the sign, and it’s their tax money being wasted. Maybe, just maybe, some of the local churches would get wind of the story, and all the pastors/preachers with a tiny bit of social conscious (you know…both of them!) would say something to their flock about actually being good all week…..

  • Chiroptera

    Huh. That wasn’t even an “atheist sign.” It was the typical state highway system letting people know who was picking up the trash in the area. Other than letting people know that the organization exists and that some of their members take seriously some of their civic responsibilities, that sign did nothing to encourage anything that anyone should be offended over.

    Assuming that it was done by an angry Christianist, this shows just how many of them are petty and unwilling to share.

  • Alverant

    What do you want to bet this won’t even make the local news (and that more than a few christians cheered when they saw this)?

  • raven

    Was someone so low on actual thought processes that they decided that a spray-painted cross would chase us away, like some talisman hung in a medieval forest to frighten the peasants?

    Symbolic magic.

    And rather dumb. Magic doesn’t work!!! Spray painting a cross on a sign doesn’t make atheists go away. Read the books!!! You need a silver crucifix or a consecrated wafer.

    PS We/they could always ask the xians what is going through their minds. Assuming anything is going through what passes through their minds. But usually when it has been tried, it doesn’t work. You just get incoherent words strung together with some hate thrown in.

    Oh well, I’ll try it. Yo!!!! Xians!!! What is the point here? Curious minds don’t care that much but it might be amusing.

  • John Pieret

    And to think, once upon a time in our evolutionary history, all anyone would have done is pee on it.

    Our territorial markers have evolved.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Coincidentally,. we just received the trail camera we ordered a bit back. Nice little job that does motion detection and records it using either IR or visible light as appropriate. Since the next sign is likely to be similarly defaced, something similar might be useful. Ours cost (IIRC) less than $70, which is probably cheaper than even one sign cleanup/repair/replacement.

    Ed, if you want details ping me.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ John Pieret : Have they? I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d peed on it as well. Maybe got ’emselves in the face whilst doing so.

  • Kevin Kehres

    @7: Seriously, if I were the local news editor, this would not make my paper.

    Someone vandalized a sign? Not news.

    In my area, we’ve had a pretty big graffiti problem recently, and there have been news stories about police response (and surprisingly, arrests). But not about individual acts of vandalism.

    A story about a single road sign defaced with a couple of spurts of spray paint? Not news. Because what’s next–a story about road sign that’s been shot at? Every one of them? Not going to happen — not even on the slowest of slow news days. Not even in the “atheist versus Christian” context.

    A letter to the editor would be appropriate. Do that – make your own news. Blog, Tw**t, Facespace, Pinterest, whatever.

  • petemoulton

    I’ll bet some of those good “moderate” Nebraska xians will stand up and condemn this childish act of vandalism, any minute now…yup, any minute now……

  • Mobius

    A truly shocking headline would be “Atheist Sign Not Vandalized”.

  • raven

    Coincidentally,. we just received the trail camera we ordered a bit back.

    Even better would be a trail video camera. It would look good on Youtube.

  • John Pieret

    StevoR @ 11:

    Maybe got ‘emselves in the face whilst doing so.

    Well, most Xians seem not to know which way the wind is blowing …

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

    I DID IT BUT NOT WHY YOU THINK! I MADE THE BOTTOM PART OF THAT SIGN BUT THE PRINTER DIDNT EVEN SPELL “ATHIEST” RIGHTLY!

  • Callinectes

    Affix a warning sign to the new one. “High voltage” for example.*

    *Actual voltage optional.

  • LightningRose

    I wonder if Sean Hannity would support us if we booby-trapped the sign?

  • zmidponk

    Chiroptera:

    Other than letting people know that the organization exists and that some of their members take seriously some of their civic responsibilities, that sign did nothing to encourage anything that anyone should be offended over.

    You forget – for some, atheists simply existing is something to be offended over.

  • http://cheapsignals.blogspot.com Gretchen

    It’s funny how much difference a 45 degree turn makes. An X over something means “HELL NO.” An X turned slightly clockwise or counterclockwise over something means “HELL NO, I’M A CHRISTIAN.”

    It’s almost like the symbol was chosen to simultaneously communicate those two messages most effectively.

  • busterggi

    Christians – can’t live with them, can’t crucify them & make them happy.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Even better would be a trail video camera. It would look good on Youtube.

    Up to 60 seconds at a time.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    I googled the Omaha World-Herald (almost as partisan, back in the day, as the Manchester Union Leader) and there’s not anything that I could see.

    When I was growing up in Omaha there were lots of Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans and whatnot. Every time I go back now, to visit family, there seem to be more bigass evangelical churches and more bigots. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

  • caseloweraz

    Synfandel: Some people just really like litter.

    As long as it’s good xian litter (meaning litter dropped by xians.) I’d bet that if one of the people who cheered the defacing of this sign happened to see a known atheist throwing trash out of their car, they’d castigate atheists on that basis.

    It’s all part of that game called “Demonize the Other.”

  • caseloweraz

    Seems to me a good talking point would be that whoever defaced this sign is wasting taxpayer dollars, since — like a stop sign that gets knocked down by a drunk driver — it will be replaced at taxpayer expense.

  • jaker

    FYI several paint companies offer anti-grafitti clear-coat paints. Check out Google University.

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