Statue of Liberty, Jesus, and Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Cumberland County Courthouse in Tennessee has several expressions of free speech on its front lawn.

The displays include an Iraq and Afghanistan Soldier’s Memorial, Statue of Liberty, chainsaw-carved monkeys and bears, Jesus carrying a cross, and the most recent display added — a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Yep. An FSM sculpture has been added to the mix:

fsmcourthouse.jpg

The FSM sculpture was created by David Safdie and (sister) Ariel Safdie.

We are lucky enough to live in a country that allows us, its citizens, the freedom of speech. I have chosen to put up a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to represent the discourse between people of all different beliefs. The many faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds of Cumberland County’s residents make our community a stronger richer place. I respect and am proud that on the people’s lawn, the county courthouse, all of these diverse beliefs can come together in a positive dialogue. Here, we are all able to share the issues close to our hearts whether it is through a memorial to the soldiers killed fighting for our country, the Statue of Liberty honoring our nations welcoming promise to all, a group’s fight to stop homelessness, or powerful symbols of faith. I greatly treasure this open forum between everyone in the community.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a pile of noodles and meatballs, but it is meant to open up discussion and provoke thought. Being able to put up a statue is a celebration of our freedom as Americans; a freedom to be different, to express those differences, and to do it amongst neighbors -— even if it is in a noodley way.

It’s making news, too:

What has County Mayor Brock Hill said about this?

We are basically operating it as a freedom of speech venue. We don’t deny the constitutional rights of anyone, but we certainly don’t endorse all the displays. I feel the Flying Spaghetti Monster is an effort on the part of non-Christians to try and minimize Christianity and the images that have been placed there. I’ll go as far as to say that I think it’s an attempt to minimize and ridicule the good intentions of Christians in Cumberland County, but I don’t deny their right.

The Safdies responded:

With all due respect Mayor Hill- the Flying Spaghetti Monster sculpture is not an attempt to ridicule any religion. It should not be used as an opportunity to play the values of one religion off another. And I think if you read the comments on this blog, it is clear that many many people in our county understand that symbol and agree. Rather, the Spaghetti Monster is intended to create discourse on the role of religion on public property.

Spaghetti and meatballs is meant to bring a touch of levity to a serious discourse. The statue has no intention to ridicule. It calls attention to a situation that has deeply concerned many residents over the past two years. Whether made of wood or spaghetti all religious statues are inappropriate for our courthouse lawn.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It’s a terrific way to make a point.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    The FSM is great, his noodly blessings seem to ooze forth from his meatballs, we are truly blessed.

    That Jesus figure is disturbing though. Who wants to see a man tortured by being forced to drag the instrument of his death to his execution place? That’s just freaky.

  • Valhar2000

    I think that courthouse lawn is unbelievably tacky; but then, religion in the United States is nothing if not tacky.

  • QrazyQat

    These Christians: it’s all about them, all the time, isn’t it? They’re the Almighty Church of Me, Me, Me. 24/7.

  • http://thehappyhuman.wordpress.com jtradke

    I think it’s pretty disingenuous to claim that the FSM has no intention to ridicule. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have a problem with the FSM meme, or with the statue on the courthouse lawn among the other religious icons (although I would rather NO icons were allowed).

    But, I think the creature was originally intended as satire, which necessarily mixes equal parts ridicule and poignancy. So I think it’s a bit weaselly to claim it’s just there to make people think, and not to poke fun. You could make people think lots of other ways, but personified pasta is definitely absurdist and mocking in nature. I just wish the sculptors embraced that fact, rather than ducking controversy.

  • Susan

    For one brief shining moment, I like living in Tennessee.

  • Pingback: Atheist.nu » Cuba is a democracy and the US is not

  • Sam

    the creature was originally intended as satire, which necessarily mixes equal parts ridicule and poignancy. So I think it’s a bit weaselly to claim it’s just there to make people think, and not to poke fun. You could make people think lots of other ways, but personified pasta is definitely absurdist and mocking in nature

    Nicely said.

    Millions of people love God. The large majority of these people have not harmed you in any way. Equating their beloved God with spaghetti and meatballs isn’t a terribly friendly or respectful thing to do. Why incite people who have done you no harm? Does being mean to people bring you joy?

  • Claire

    jtradke said:

    But, I think the creature was originally intended as satire, which necessarily mixes equal parts ridicule and poignancy. So I think it’s a bit weaselly to claim it’s just there to make people think, and not to poke fun.

    Do you know the history of it? It was not designed as satire, but as a tool to make a point – if they are going to teach creationism in a science class, then they need to teach all creation myths, including silly ones that people just make up. It was not designed to ridicule, but to BE ridiculous, and therefore to make that point. It has always been about making people think.

    You could make people think lots of other ways

    I’m interested – what sculpture would you suggest instead to express the same idea?

  • Sam

    It was not designed to ridicule, but to BE ridiculous

    It was designed to ridicule. Wikipedia talks about its “satiric nature.” It says:

    Henderson [the "founder"] uses parallel concepts from religious texts when describing the FSM, poking fun at those who literally interpret the Bible.

    Christians say “Amen”, “Pastafarians” say “Ramen”. Also:

    The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the Pastafarian equivalent of the Bible. It parodies biblical figures with characters such as Captain Mosey, a pirate and the FSM equivalent of Moses.

    Additionally, “the FSM logo is a parody of the Ichthys or ‘Jesus Fish’ and an adaptation of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam was created, superimposing the Flying Spaghetti Monster over God”.

    There’s no question that it is intended to ridicule Christianity, but it is an analogy that is not analogous. It may cause college freshmen to giggle about how much smarter they are than those silly Christians, but FSM hasn’t existed for thousands of years. FSM doesn’t have billions of followers. No inmate ever turned his life around because of it. Nobody ever opened an orphanage or donated millions of dollars to help the poor in the name of a meatball.

    It’s immature, disrespectful and stupid.

  • Claire

    Sam said:

    FSM doesn’t have billions of followers.

    So what? Muslims outnumber christians – does that make then right instead?

    FSM hasn’t existed for thousands of years.

    Slavery has existed for longer than christianity, does that make it a good idea and worthy of respect?

    Your ‘points’ are pointless and not even close to a good argument.

    It’s immature, disrespectful and stupid.

    Now there’s the pot calling the kettle slightly tarnished, you immature and stupid, and above all sexist, piece of shit (see his post here for his charming “take a Midol” comment, if you wonder why I say that).

    Free speech isn’t free if it has to follow your rules. If you don’t like it, feel free to work on making this country a theocracy, as so many other christians are. It’s the only sure way to prevent such an appalling abuse of freedom as a cute little FSM statue.

  • Sam

    Muslims outnumber christians

    Not even close. You’re off by about 800,000,000. But it’s nice to know that “my ‘points’ are pointless and not even close to a good argument” and that I’m a “piece of shit”.

    if you wonder why I say that

    No, I don’t wonder. The reason has already been established.

  • stogoe

    *slow clap*

    Well done, concern troll. Well done. Quite the performance. Now scurry along. Maybe if you hurry you can get Obama to stop being so uppity.

    Free speech isn’t free if it has to follow your rules.

    Exactly.

  • Jen

    Equating their beloved God with spaghetti and meatballs isn’t a terribly friendly or respectful thing to do.

    Burning heritics at the stake isn’t very nice either.

  • cautious

    stogoe, who are you addressing as the concern troll? Is it the poster that has been here for a while and feels personally insulted by a more recently-matriculated poster, or is it the poster who thinks that the Church of FSM is immature, disrespectful, and stupid, and who has earlier used sexist language to express disapproval of other posters’ opinions?

    For what’s it worth…sam, I’m not going to go through all the comments over the past few days to see if you’ve apologized for the words you spoke which others felt were belittling. And when I say “others” I mean “most everyone who read them”.

    So if you have apologized, that’s great, all of us here can move on and forgive you for your momentary lapse. If you haven’t (and Claire’s words suggest, strongly, that you have not), then here’s an opportunity to do so.

    For what it’s worth…claire, if the offending party continues to offend you and refuses to make amends for that offense, then referring to them as a piece of shit is justified. It’s not…helpful to the conversation, but it is justified. The sad math of the matter is that most men are misogynist to some degree, more men are present online than women, and the Internet makes everyone at least twice as rude and insulting as they are in person. Thus it’s impossible to throw a rock online without hitting some sexist POS, and so unfortunately you might have hit one.

    But I believe in innocent until proven guilty, so here I am waiting for proof…

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Why incite people who have done you no harm?

    Pretty hypocritical for someone with such a large bone to pick with 1% of the U.S. population who likely never did a damn thing to him.

  • TXatheist

    Millions of people love God. The large majority of these people have not harmed you in any way.

    Excuse me? You have not harmed me and you won’t so your thinly veiled threat is nothing I’m concerned with. I’m not grateful for you not harming me, it’s in your own best interest.

    Equating their beloved God with spaghetti and meatballs isn’t a terribly friendly or respectful thing to do.

    And taking the bible/god as literal isn’t very friendly or respectful to those of us who understand it’s allegory/mythology.

    Why incite people who have done you no harm? Does being mean to people bring you joy?

    Incite? Getting equal treatment brings on incitement? Maybe you have become so accustomed to xianity being favored in our society you think it justifies inciteful actions. I’ve always thought of having a portion of the Treaty of Tripoli appear anywhere xian monuments appear would be respectful and fair. You know, the part where it says the USA is not founded on the xian religion. Does a book that says have no other gods before YHWH seem mean? I’m sure the Zeus worshippers don’t appreciate it.

  • John

    @Claire – I do know the history of it. Would you disagree that it’s meant to be satirical in nature? I agree that its purpose is to make people think. But, I also think it pokes fun, which is fine by me!

  • Kyle Byron

    Sam confuses satire and parody with ridicule. They are completely different things.

    Also a side note about the mayor:

    We are basically operating it as a freedom of speech venue.

    Local governments do not operate any such venues. The whole freakin country is a “freedom of speech venue” (or is supposed to be, anyway).

  • Claire

    cautious said:

    It’s not…helpful to the conversation, but it is justified.

    Well, damn…. I just checked, and I did indeed say that, and I want to apologize to all for lowering the tone of the conversation: what I meant to call him was a “purveyor of shit” and I stand by that one, bad language and all, but the other one was more of a Freudian slip. I might have meant it but I shouldn’t have used that phrase. I even edited it a couple of times and still missed that….

    And no, cautious, he never apologized, unless one considers following up with “If these are your smart women, warn me before the dumb ones get here” to be an apology. I don’t. It’s all the women here that are owed an apology, not just me.

    My bad on the comparative numbers, though. He was right about those, it was catholics that now outnumber muslims, not all christians, as I found when I went back to check on the article I had seen. As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It still doesn’t mean, huge numbers or not, that christians are right and others are wrong.

  • Claire

    John said

    Would you disagree that it’s meant to be satirical in nature?

    Yes, but different people seem to have different ideas of what satire is. Some people here seem to think that the primary purpose of satire is to ridicule, and I don’t – to me, satire points out flaws and does it with humor, and I don’t see that as equivalent to ridicule. Those who consider any criticism as unacceptable may see it differently.

  • Karen

    Free thinkers in Tennessee!! I’m loving it. :-)

  • cautious

    It’s all the women here that are owed an apology, not just me.

    Claire, I totally agree, and I think you set a good example by apologizing for some not-well-thought-out phrase.

  • cautious

    More on-topic to the thread, satire sometimes uses ridicule to make its point.

    The FSM was created to protest the inclusion of faith-based ideas in a scientific context. The FSM has since been photoshopped into faith-based artwork. Is that going too far? …no, it’s art, and art doesn’t hurt anyone. (Unless you’re Danish?)

    Also,

    The free speech zone began in 2006 after the American Civil Liberties Union in Nashville sent the county a letter asking if the display of a Moses statue meant the county was creating a free speech zone.

    So in this particular instance, a Christian ‘started the fight’ by putting a religiously-motivated statue onto public land. When that happened, did the mayor say that the statue was an attempt to minimize and ridicule the good intentions of non-Christians in Cumberland County?

  • Sam

    My bad on the comparative numbers, though. He was right about those, it was catholics that now outnumber muslims, not all christians, as I found when I went back to check on the article I had seen. As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Apparently not. You still have it wrong. The Muslims now outnumber the Catholics.

    Burning heritics at the stake isn’t very nice either.

    Because people were burned at the stake centuries ago, you need to do wrong today? Does that really makes sense?

    Some people here seem to think that the primary purpose of satire is to ridicule, and I don’t – to me, satire points out flaws and does it with humor, and I don’t see that as equivalent to ridicule. Those who consider any criticism as unacceptable may see it differently.

    Wordplay can’t change the fact that replacing God with spaghetti and meatballs on a famous painting is sheer ridicule and gratuitously disrespectful.

    I want to apologize to all for lowering the tone of the conversation

    Apology accepted.

  • http://thehappyhuman.wordpress.com jtradke

    Claire – I think we’re basically in agreement, and I’m probably just quibbling over the nuanced connotations of satire, ridicule, poking fun, humor, blah blah blah. Maybe I read too much defensiveness into the tone of the FSM sculptors’ response. I mean, when you are equating someone’s imagined creator of the heavens with meatballs, you can’t really be shocked when somebody finds it offensive, like certain individuals in this thread.

    On a completely unrelated topic, Sam said:

    Wordplay can’t change the fact that replacing God with spaghetti and meatballs on a famous painting is sheer ridicule and gratuitously disrespectful.

    Sam – it’s pretty hard to take you seriously when you’re being disrespectful yourself. That’s called hypocrisy, and it’s not very endearing.

  • Claire

    Sam said

    replacing God with spaghetti and meatballs on a famous painting is sheer ridicule and gratuitously disrespectful.

    That’s not gratuitous disrespect, that’s necessary, useful, and above all valid disrespect, and that’s mild compared to what it really deserves. 2000+ years of crap, and funny thing, people get tired of having it shoved down their throats. Your religion gets far more than the zero respect it warrants, and the occasional FSM statue barely begins to redress the balance.

    Tell you what – when your religion stops trying to take over our government, pretending it has a monopoly on morality, and generally encouraging people to be halfwitted zealots like you, then we can revisit whether it deserves any respect, and not until.

    Oh, and I left out a caveat on the apology – it was for everyone BUT you, jackass – you deserve nothing.

  • Kyle

    Hey Sam,

    They didn’t “replace God”. Since we don’t believe in any such thing as god, we interpret what they did as simply replacing a fictitious symbol with another symbol. A delicious, high carbohydrate symbol.

    One of the reasons the FSM is funny to us is because it’s not funny to you. So I guess in that sense; please rail on my good man!

  • Sam

    Very mature.

    halfwitted zealots like you

    In this thread alone you claimed that Muslims outnumber Christians, that Catholics outnumber Muslims, and then apologized “to all”, apparently not knowing what all means. Identifying the “halfwit” is left as an exercise to the reader.

  • cautious

    Sometimes words fail to register how surprised I am at human chutzpah, so, I’ll just say it like this: 0_0

  • Melinda

    It might be a satire but it is truly disturbing how popular this mockery has become. The fact that Christianity is the single religion being ridiculed in this manner is interesting.I doubt we will see a popular book like this on Buddhism or Islamic religions. I do not have anything against atheists. They can believe whatever they want, but I can assure you that no Christian will write a book like this about their “Faith” or lack thereof.

  • Forman

    “Burning heritics at the stake isn’t very nice either”

    Okay, to make this clear…People who burn others at the stake because they’ve accused them of being a witch or a heretic are NOT Christians! Sure, they can say they are, but they are not. Also, back when the catholic church ruled with an iron fist, it was very corrupt (i.e. burning people at the stake). Anyone who does such at thing is definitely NOT a Christian. Being a Christian means following Christ. And in case you haven’t read any of the bible, Christ actually saved people from being stoned to death. He preached forgiveness and love. And people who do not preach the same ideals, are NOT Christians.


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