In Defense of Smut for Smut

As I wrote yesterday, I’m not a fan of “Smut for Smut,” the stunt run by the Atheist Agenda group at the University of Texas at San Antonio in which people trade holy books in for pornography.

Obviously, people disagree with me on this, including members of the Atheist Agenda group.

I asked them to submit a guest post in defense of their event and one of the group’s officers, Joe E., did.

Here’s that post:

My name is Joe and I am an officer of the Atheist agenda (I’m pretty much the lacky haha, I do all the techstuff [shout out to my CS majors out there] and get meetings and events organized). When I read Hemant’s article, I wasn’t too surprised to see an atheist disagreeing with our campaign. We have found through doing this event that not everyone agrees with us, obviously. But to see atheists not agree with us does get our minds thinking. Many claim that they are ashamed to be affiliated as an atheist because of our campaign, and to that I must say that those people are damn cowards.

It may sound harsh, but if you are not ready to stand up for what YOU believe in, and defend yourself, then you are a coward and may as well go sit in a prayer circle with all the protesters.

How is Smut for Smut standing up for what we believe in? It’s simple. Attention. On the surface that may not sound like a good intention, but let me explain. Without the attention of the campaign, there is no way we could have had the opportunity for people to see that we do exist. We would not have the opportunity to have discussions about not only our beliefs but other people’s beliefs also.

We are not here to disestablish any religion, and we are not here to tell someone that we are right and you are wrong and that’s the way it’s going to be. We are here to simply say, “Here’s what we have to say. I respect your opinion. I don’t believe it, but I hope you respect mine.”

The turnout of people from our Smut for Smut campaign only proves it’s working. Never have we had a response from the student body like this before. While it may seem like a lot of negative flack, sitting at the table I have talked to TONS of open minded people who are willing to listen if I’m ready to listen. And I’ve had EXTREMELY intelligent conversations with some. Now of course you get those people that first start off like they’re gonna be intelligent about it and then end up bible thumping you in the face. But it’s through Smut for Smut that we have had the opportunity to have our voices HEARD.

Too often are we as the minority overshadowed and undermined by the religious majority. Too often are we subjected to just listen to what the religious try to tell us is right without having a word to say back. Too often are we judged as immoral people because we don’t have faith in some God.

I say to those against the campaign, you try finding a way to get HUNDREDS, possibly THOUSANDS of students to be willing to actually DISCUSS with you, in a way that isn’t going to offend someone.

We’ve tried. We’ve tried showing “The God Who Wasn’t There” with an open panel discussion. Again religious organizations tried to get us shut down because they were “offended.” But they can turn around and have bible study and show their religious stuff with no flack? No one showed up to the panel because we flaked out and hid our tails between our legs.

This time we stand strong in our mission statement. We stand as free thinking individuals with a mindset to listen and to express. We stand not to offend or change people’s minds (although we hope in the process they are able to question possibilities).

We are here to tell the world that we are tired of being treated like misfits, and worthless humans with no sense of right or wrong.

Thanks you Hemant for the response and open arms. It’s greatly appreciated. And to those who would like to ask me ANYTHING, please don’t hesitate to email, tweet, or follow our blog.

www.twitter.com/AtheistAgenda
www.atheistagendautsa.blogspot.com
atheist.agenda.utsa@gmail.com

Thanks,
Joe, Atheist Agenda UTSA

  • mkb

    My initial thought was that I think “fiction for fiction” would be just as eye-opening without being as confrontational but then I decided that is not true. No Christian can dispute that portions of the Bible are adult content only, but many would dispute that parts of it are fiction. Thus, smut for smut says “this is my smut, that is yours do you want to exchange it or discuss it?” Fiction for fiction says “you’re wrong, give up your ideas.” Maybe smut for smut is more friendly?

  • Carlie

    Joe –
    Do keep in mind, though, that there are an awful lot of atheists who object to porn on other grounds; there’s the overall objectification of women in society, there’s the fact that a lot of porn is produced in exploitative conditions, that it can create unrealistic expectations on women, etc. There are a lot of reasons that reasonable atheists might not be thrilled with a “smut for smut” campaign besides being a “damn coward”.

    I don’t want to get into an argument about whether or not the negative aspects of porn outweigh the positives; you can go do a google search on feminism and porn and see all the arguments laid out and debated ad nausaeum. Just keep in mind that not all of the unenthusiastic response you’ve seen is a case of getting the vapors over linking sex and religion and “Oh no what will the religious say?” If you were swapping out for feminist-positive porn that might be something (link is an article about it, sfw), but there is still a lot of debate on the topic.
    Some of us would simply prefer anti-religion campaigns that don’t also, in our opinion, throw women under the bus as collateral damage just for the sake of attention.

  • Jordan

    This was *EXTREMELY* painful to read. Maybe some editing next time? EXTREME EDITING!!

  • Ann

    Basically his arguments boil down to two things:

    1. If people don’t want to talk to me, the only real response is to scream louder, and
    2. Anyone who does not agree with #1 is a coward.

    Nope, you’re just an ass.

  • Tori Aletheia

    Religious people get offended so easily, i.e. there was an uproar against the “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” bus ads in Iowa – might as well do something that might truly be offensive and compare the reaction!

  • ungullible

    We’ve tried. We’ve tried showing “The God Who Wasn’t There” with an open panel discussion. Again religious organizations tried to get us shut down because they were “offended.” But they can turn around and have bible study and show their religious stuff with no flack? No one showed up to the panel because we flaked out and hid our tails between our legs.
    As far as I can tell, the only difference between the panel not working and the porn swap working is that they held their ground on the latter. Atheists already have a hard enough time fighting the view that we are amoral without being actively associated with porn. And as I think others have said, the porn swap might not be the best way to attract female atheists. It may do wonders locally for your campus group membership, but I think it does more harm than good for the larger atheist community.

  • Kyle

    Yes but what about the objectification of men? How many times do we tell our girls that it’s okay to cry then turn right around and slap our boys when they do the same thing? Real men don’t cry! (Bullshit!)

    And don’t tell me men don’t get objectified either (read: Twilight moms. Same objectification, different reasons.)

    Besides, smut is FAR more interesting and relative to today, whereas the Bible and other holy books should have been left with the dark ages from whence they came.

  • Hemant

    Jordan — Joe requested his piece run without editing. Usually, I edit heavily, but I honored his request as much as I could.

  • Carlie

    Kyle, I really don’t think there’s much overlap between people who slap their boys for crying and people who want to make the world a better place for women. If you would talk to actual feminists, you would find that they are concerned about the effects of sexism on men as well (google “patriarchy hurts men too”). And none are suggesting that increasing the objectification of men is a good solution; rather, the goal is de-objectifying both.

    And as ungullable says, there’s already a big enough battle in the atheist “movement” regarding participation of women (and the lack thereof) – the amount this might hurt could be debatable, but it certainly doesn’t help. Like I said, I’m not going to argue whether porn is in itself “good” or “bad”; there are a lot of nuances. I’m just making the point that this type of stunt can turn off a lot of atheists for legitimate reasons, not the “you’re just too chicken to make a stand” strawman that Joe is knocking over.

  • Risi

    Joe, I appreciate the principles you stand for, but really can’t come to agreement with you on what means are acceptable or not for promoting them.
    You claim the Smut for Smut campaign is justified by the big turn-out. I’m sorry, I can’t see how a big turn-out renders any event morally respectable by itself. Fiction for fiction conveys the same message without providing grounds for the far-to-common media onslaught against “immoral atheists”.
    Giving out porn is a terrible PR move for a humanism-based organization.

  • Jordan

    Hemant, I assumed as much because your writing is never as messy or infantile as this submission. Kudos to people for standing up for what they believe is a worthwhile message but to label others in the same movement as cowards because they can’t get behind dishing out pornography to make a statement seems counter-productive.

    Yes, you are making a name for yourself and generating conversation but when that forces you to reinforce those stereotypes already being promoted by those you rally against.. I’m not sure that’s the direction in which we should be travelling.

    Personally, I feel some people are drawn to atheism by way of intellectual ideals and arguments and there are others who will be drawn to it simply due to its placement outside the cultural norm and as a platform to make a lot of noise. Yesterday this venture seemed somewhat low brow and this message from the organization appears to confirm my initial reaction.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Joe,
    As I read your response to the criticisms of your group’s pornography peddling adventure, I had to smile. Much of what I read reminded me of myself back in the mid to late 1980’s when I was active in raising funds for anti-communist organizations and groups. Fresh out of the military, I was young, idealistic, brash, in-your-face and I was on a mission. I set up tables and displays in downtown Ann Arbor, drawing attention to the plight of the Afghan Freedom Fighters and the Nicaraguan contras, collecting donations and fending off hostile, spitting, shrieking liberals single-handedly.
    Revel in these days and in these times. Make your mistakes now and learn from them as I have (belatedly) learned from mine. You have my undying support and admiration. You fight the good fight for those of us who for various reasons cannot or will not.
    That being said, I will offer some counter-points and constructive criticism of two of your statements.
    You wrote, “It may sound harsh, but if you are not ready to stand up for what YOU believe in, and defend yourself, then you are a coward and may as well go sit in a prayer circle with all the protesters.”
    Taken by itself, the statement rings true. Taken in the full context of your response, however, I take exception to your generalization of those who disagree with your stance as being cowards. As a child, I stood fast against the constant taunts and beatings of neighborhood bullies who hated me for nothing more than the fact that I was a half-breed (I am half Arab) and my father was a Muslim.
    I am a combat veteran and a former private soldier and security specialist. I’ve survived a kidnapping attempt in the Middle East and experienced things which cannot be discussed during polite dinner conversation. I may disagree with you, comrade, but I am not a coward. Neither are the majority of fine men and women in this community of ours. A little humility and respect go a long way, my friend.
    You also wrote, “We are here to simply say, “Here’s what we have to say. I respect your opinion. I don’t believe it, but I hope you respect mine.” I think if you take a few minutes to yourself and dig deep enough you’ll find that your motivations may be a little different. I know, I’ve been there and I’ve defended similar actions with the same rationalizations and reasons. You know deep inside that this porno stunt was a big “fuck you” to the religious right. You don’t need to admit it to me or anyone else here, but when you get a chance to be by yourself and meditate a little on the whole thing, I know you’ll come to an honest appraisal of yourself and your feelings. No apologies needed, Joe, just don’t feed me bullshit and tell me it’s apple pie.
    TGM

  • Thegoodman

    I have to say I disagree with Joe. While it is true his organization got some attention, I think it is negative attention. The child molestation scandals of the Catholic church got them a lot of attention too, attention isn’t always a good thing.

    I enjoy smut as much as the next person who lies about not enjoying it, but the fact is that American society hides from smut. The point that Joe considers the Bible smut is lost on everyone involved and instantly associates atheists with “non-christian” things. This is exactly the stereotype I’d prefer we not have.

    I feel like atheists are held to a higher moral standard than theists. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We have no one to ask forgiveness from but our peers. We have no rock to lean on but those that we love. We should seek the approval of those around us while maintaining our beliefs (or lack thereof) without driving off those that disagree with us.

    This type of campaign only solidifies negative stereotypes and drives away moderates. Friendly, welcoming, accepting campaigns are more likely to show people the softer side of atheists. “Smut for smut” shows them the side they already assume. It shows them the ugly side that they have been warned about.

    I feel like people associated with groups like Atheist Agenda do it mostly because they have been rejected by society. I saw the picture of the table they had set up, they looked like misfits to me. It seems like atheism defines them because they don’t get along particularly well with people and religion is something most people have in common, and they wish to be different.

    Atheism isn’t a social statement. It is the lack of belief in a god. It shouldn’t define you and “in-your-face” campaigns only piss people off. While I know you intend it to piss people off, it does little to nothing to support the overall issues with religion.

  • yhj

    It is worth mentioning that one girl received homosexual anime porn – so perhaps they had quite a collection and variety? Or does anyone know more about what kind of porn they had and how they gave which kind to which demographic, or what not. In my opinion as long as they bought porn which had actors known to be happy and confident about their jobs then I guess it would be less of a problem – concerning feminist issues – and also from big house names which are “legal” and “non-exploitative” (I don’t know how they would know this but perhaps an extensive background check could suffice) and about hentai/anime/toon porn, I doubt anyone is truly “exploited” in the sense we know it (sure long hours drawing and animating stuff but the likelihood of anyone being forced into drawing or voicing for naked people getting freaky is nil)- jus’ sayin’ what do you guys think? would more facts clear this up?

    Personally I think campaigns like these need to happen every once in a while – they are attention grabbing , it is after all a “college” campus (people would be more prone to take the porn as a crude joke at worst if not a completely misguided attempt to promote atheism), and it’s good to slap the religious in the face and shake them up.

  • http://chatlog.posterous.com jtradke

    How is Smut for Smut standing up for what we believe in? It’s simple. Attention.

    Non sequitur. Taking a stand on something is not the same as attention-whoring. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with attention-whoring, but let’s not pretend this has to do with taking the moral high ground.

    And Kyle?

    Yes but what about the objectification of men?

    Your Sense-Of-Proportion-O-Meter is broken.

  • Ron in Houston

    Hey Joe

    Next time tattoo Atheist Agenda on your butt and run around naked.

    That should get you some real attention.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ ImagingGeek

    I have to agree with Thegoodman.

    Not all attention is good attention, and we’re supposed to be the good guys – as in we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard than the bigots we oppose.

    I also take great offence at you considering everyone who disagrees with you as being a “coward”. This is the same kind of sloppy thinking that I find most repulsive of religion – the “you support what we do or your wrong” kind of attitude. If there is any one thing that I hate about religion, it is that, and yet it is that very negative thought process you’ve injected as your primary argument.

    If your goal was to to be a divisive element, to drive away moderates and religious individuals who support our general goals (secular gov, freedom from discrimination, etc), than congratulations – you’ve achieved that goal.

    But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ve done much which is positive – I’d be willing to bet that in the minds of many you’ve made an interminable link between atheism and porn. You’ve likely driven away those who hold less extreme positions, and you’ve certainly managed to irritate most of us who frequent Hemant blog.

  • Karen

    I actually have more of a problem with his verbiage “what we believe in,” than I do with the campaign.

    Zealotry in any form gives me the heebie-jeebies.

  • http://thesouthernatheistgentleman.blogspot.com Will

    This letter tarted out wrong. At what point did anyone say his made them ashamed to be an atheist? As I recall, the shame was in being associated with the child-like campaign of this child-like group. Try building your straw men somewhere else, Joe.

  • Revyloution

    I stand by what I said yesterday. The fringe firebrands are just as important as the dignified public speakers.

    I also have to agree with Jordan. The over use of CAPITALIZING a few RANDOM WORDS was irritating. I have to deal with that often enough when reading responses from creationists.

    Joe, the ‘wiser, cooler heads’ are handing down sage advice based on years of experience. And most of those people probably did radical and alarming things in their youth. This is your time to do that, and I’m proud that you are. I hope you soon grow to feel slightly ashamed of what you did, and a bit proud. The impetuousness of youth is a powerful tool for any revolutionary. Revolutions are conceived by the old, but fought by the young.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    We are here to tell the world that we are tired of being treated like misfits, and worthless humans with no sense of right or wrong.

    I’m with you there. But forgive me if I have my doubts that handing out free pornography is going to accomplish this.

    But atheists are a varied bunch, and what doesn’t work for me might work for someone else. So rock on, I say.

  • Andrew

    Joe managed to make me think he’s a moron twice in his opening paragraph. It only went downhill in the second, so I didn’t bother with the rest.

  • Aj

    There were a lot fewer posts about porn in the other post… I was hoping that this wasn’t about the porn, although I suspected that this was the case. Objectification of women, exploitative work conditions, creating unrealistic expectations all exist for other forms of media throughout history, because porn is a reflection of culture that exists independent of porn. Porn is attacked because of religion as it’s an expression of sexuality, and female chauvinists as it’s mainly an expression of male sexuality. Any other form of media, even though it has the same problems, would not have had such criticism. How many atheist female chauvinists are there, and should Atheist Agenda even care about them?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    It would be interesting if Campus crusade for Christ ran their own “Smut for Smut” campaign where they took in pornography and handed out bibles.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Andrew
    Joe may be misled and he may be on the wrong path, but he’s one of our own, fighting the good fight in a way that he thought would contribute. His attempt was juvenile, but it was sincere. However misguided, he DID give of his time and energy. Those who are better educated, better informed, more experienced or with greater resources should be helping to guide and instruct those on our side who may be mistaken, not calling them names in a public forum for all to see. Save the name calling and the venom for the enemy.

  • Molly

    I think the “Smut for Smut” campaign is highly immature. It is not respectful and it does not serve to give the mainstream a better image of atheists. It only furthers the stereotype that we have no morals.

    Atheist Agenda, grow up.

  • DGKnipfer

    Sorry Joe,

    But since you are intentionally acting like a misfit I don’t see how you can piss and moan about it when you’re treated like one. Or do you believe that trading porn for religious books is a good way to fit it to society? And calling your detractors in the atheist community cowards for pointing out that you’re being divisive and doing things to stand out as a misfit is absurd. You’ve chosen to be a misfit. Be proud of it or shut the f&*@ up about it. But don’t whine when you’re called on it, you sound like a baby.

    DGKnipfer
    A Proud Misfit

  • http://www.twitter.com/AtheistAgenda AtheistAgendaUTSA

    We do have gay porn, just sayin. <3

    And I'm a CS major, who needs grammar anyways. <3 :P
    I only put words in caps cause I didn't know if my bold tags would transfer if it was copied over from the email.

    So yeah. If that's what you're here to judge me on, that's a little silly. <3

  • Molly

    “…fighting the good fight in a way that he thought would contribute. His attempt [...] was sincere. However misguided, he DID give of his time and energy.”

    Same can be said about door-to-door evangelists. It doesn’t mean that their method is good, effective, or warmly welcomed. I’m just sayin’..

  • Andrew

    TheGodlessMonster: All theists are not my enemy, and all atheists are not my friend. To distinguish someone’s value by what group they identify with is simple minded in the extreme.

  • Molly

    “We do have gay porn, just sayin.”

    Did you have any pron that was not degrading to either gender, that didn’t have any fetishes, that was just two heterosexual people healthily making love that wasn’t amateur and had good lighting and multiple camera angles? If so, could you tell me the name of it because I’ve been looking for that.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Molly,
    Perhaps I didn’t effectively communicate my point. I was not saying that Joe’s methods were effective, good or warmly welcomed. I didn’t even insinuate that. In fact, I stated just the opposite in my original comments to yesterday’s posting.
    What I AM saying is that we need to stick together. It’s in our interest provide a united front to the best of our ability to do so. Surely, it is possible to show the world that we can be self-correcting, but can we do it without being jerks to our own? Is this concept somehow offensive?

  • Molly

    “What I AM saying is that we need to stick together. It’s in our interest provide a united front to the best of our ability to do so. Surely, it is possible to show the world that we can be self-correcting, but can we do it without being jerks to our own?”

    I somewhat agree that we typically should stick together but I’m not going to support a campaign that I disagree with just because it’s an atheist campaign.

    I would like us to be self-correcting and I apologize if I came across as a jerk. I promise that was not my intent in any way.

  • Andrew

    The Godless Monster: The way to self-correct is to point out to morons that they’re morons. It’ll make them think twice about doing it next time.

  • GribbletheMunchkin

    Gonna go against the flow here and say well done Joe.

    His campaign was childish, provocative and attention grabbing. So what?

    I have two friends who claim that Dawkins is as bad as the fundamentalists he disapproves off. And they are both atheists. Gods knows what they’d think of the Atheist Agenda or the Rational Response Squad.

    A movement should not aim to be homogenous. Movements can draw strength from all kinds and all levels of input.

    The way i see it, If Atheist Agenda or the RRS get in peoples faces as “extreme” then someone like Dawkins seems sensible and reasonable by contrast.

    Getting talked about is the first stage. Once atheism is in the public eye and mind, then the sensible voices, like Hemant, make us look reasonable and decent people. And the bigger more mainstream atheist groups can actually get stuff done. But don’t ignore the impact of headline grabbers.

    As long as its only ideas that get attacked, i say its all fair game. Are Joes lot being dicks? Probably. But that doesn’t mean they are wrong or that they will have a long term negative impact.

    Strength through variety folks. Thats where its at.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Andrew,
    Again with the name calling. Perhaps you draw on your extensive knowledge and experience in conflict, psy-ops, propaganda or combat to enlighten me on who is my enemy and who is not.
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. An old Arab proverb and one that has served me well in the real world.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Andrew,
    “The Godless Monster: The way to self-correct is to point out to morons that they’re morons. It’ll make them think twice about doing it next time.”
    I disagree. I was a moron in the extreme and I had many from my camp tell me what an asshat I was. All it served to do was cause me to dig my heels in deeper. I think I am not alone in the propensity to become defensive and illogical when criticized unkindly in a public forum. In fact, take a look at your own posts and the name calling…

  • Andrew

    The Godless Monster: I have a good reason to call him a moron. It’s pretty similar to the reason I call a lot of theists morons – because what they’re saying is wrong/stupid/offensive/dangerous, delete as applicable.

    I’m surprised that you think it’s OK to argue against one kind of stupidity while being quiet – infact actively asking people to be quiet – about another.

  • Molly

    “Movements can draw strength from all kinds and all levels of input.”

    I agree, but that doesn’t mean that I have to approve or or support something that I disagree with.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Andrew,
    No, I argued against what Joe did. In fact, I called the act “juvenile”. My words bear me out on this. What I did NOT do was to call him a moron.
    Criticise those in our camp who do wrong? GOOD
    Call them names in a public forum? BAD

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Molly, you are absolutely 100% correct. In fact, I disagree with much of what I read on other people’s blogs, but I will support their right to express themselves, unless, of course they are hurting the cause beyond repair or are doing something immoral.

  • Andrew

    The Godless Monster: You’re touchingly sensitive to one stranger calling another stranger names, particularly given the extremely mild nature of that name and the fact that you pretty much agree with me.

  • Carrie

    The smut for smut campaign is just like one of PETA’s campaigns. And I don’t care for attention getting stunts. Sure, it raises awareness, but when you are a member of tiny group it makes it hard for the people in it who are judged by these actions. If people only know of atheism through childish stunts, it makes people less likely to take atheists seriously.

    I mentioned PETA in the first sentence because I’m a long-time vegan and agree with them on many things, but I hate how they act. I also hate how anything related to vegetarianism or animal welfare is immediately dismissed as PETA propaganda, as if they were the group in charge of Everything. I don’t want atheism to become like that.

    And I certainly know how it is to be surrounded by Christians. I went to a rural college in Bible Belt Kentucky. (The town had a population of 14,950). So I can understand the group’s frustration. I just think they’re alienating other atheists and potential allies.

  • Richard H

    The campaign seems fine to me.

    Theists will claim to be offended no matter what we do. But, I don’t believe that anyone is going to take a deep personal hurt from this, any more than they’d take from the bus ads.

    And, whenever I hear people claiming to be turned off, it almost always seems to have the subtext of, “why don’t you just stop talking about the issue and go away?”

    Take Dawkins, for instance. The man is polite, well-spoken, and exceptionally reasonable. But, people still paint him as being an equivalent to the sorts of theists who blame gays for earthquakes.

    I don’t think this comes from any sincere objection to his content or tone. It’s simply that he’s an atheist who is openly an atheist and argues in favor of theism.

    The smut-for-smut might not be the most effective campaign in my area. But, it sounds like it’s working well for the people who run it. And, it’s getting their message (the bible is far from perfect) out there in a way that other things wouldn’t.

  • Molly

    “I will support their right to express themselves, unless, of course they are hurting the cause beyond repair or are doing something immoral.”

    It’s not that I don’t support their right to have their campaign, it’s that I disagree with it. Of course they have the right to have it and I’m in no way against their right to have it.

    I do think that it hurt our cause. Yeah, we got some media attention out of it, but it made us look like a bunch of crass, immoral jerks. It’s not an effective way to convince the mainstream that we’re decent people capable of having morals or of being respectful. If anything it furthered the negative misconceptions that many people have about us.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    “Touchingly sensitive”.. yes that’s me…Mr. Sensitive :-)
    I’ll take it as a left-handed complement.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Molly, again, I agree with you 100%. It did hurt our cause, but not irreparably.

  • Dinos

    Hello everyone.

    I tried to see from both point of views while reading what Joe wrote and the comments and I came to think that both have a valid point.

    I believe what was left out during the evaluation of the “smut for smut” campaign was the target audience. I am no expert on marketing. All I have to work with is common sense, so if I make mistakes please be understanding.

    Teenagers and young college student’s are used to provocative, in-your-face campaigns to promote anything. Even the religious go about sharing their views in a more zealous way. To approach older audiences you usually go about cautiously, with lots of calms and wits. To get your views heard by teenagers, you just make sure you have a bigger crowd and shout the loudest.

    Please note that I said “getting heard” not “convincing” in the above paragraph. To do this, you’ll also need discussion and good arguments, but getting the discussion started is often the real challenge.

    So I’m not so much concerned about the type of campaign, as for the type of arguments. If a feminist approaches to reproach these kids for the objectification of women in porn, that is attention. If those kids have the wits to point out that the objectification of women in porn does not approach one millionth of what the bible does, that’s attention being used correctly.

    In short, I think Joe is a prime example of what people his age do when they feel offended. They get up and shout about it. They’re not in the habit of “just ignoring the idiots.” So, in my opinion, “smut for smut” is wrong for a crowded street. Unless that street is located in a campus.

  • Richard H

    @Molly:

    “I do think that it hurt our cause. Yeah, we got some media attention out of it, but it made us look like a bunch of crass, immoral jerks.”

    What about this was immoral? It it being atheists? Owning porn? Thinking that the bible is flawed?

  • Molly

    Oh hey, what did the gay community do to get mainstream approval? Should we have a parade or something? We need a catchy slogan, something like “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get used to it!”, except for atheists.

  • British Cat

    The whole “if you disagree with me you’re (insert namecalling here)” thing is what we’re trying to fight–well, that’s what it looks like anyway. I think Joe is missing the point a bit here ;)

  • Rieux

    Have to agree with Godless Monster and others who are in (at least lukewarm) support of what the Atheist Agenda group did. That group is making a perfectly valid–and sorely neglected–point about certain “holy” scriptures; I don’t see what’s so “moron”ic about their efforts; and I’m not convinced that the attention they’ve garnered has been terribly negative, unless one credits the complaints of the same folks who (and mindset that) whine and cry about “Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone”-style bus campaigns. One shouldn’t.

    In the end, I think Godless Monster (echoing Greta Christina and a certain cephalopod fan) is correct: we atheists fighting for societal respect are going to have to get used to being a diverse lot who see fit to express ourselves in notably different ways. Hemant is “Friendly”; P.Z. nails communion wafers; the Atheist Agenda folks use porn to make cheeky points; and so on. This is what a broad and diverse movement looks like. You can call any of the above a “moron,” I guess–it is indeed a free country–but I don’t see what it accomplishes.

    There’s another lesson that I think atheists can learn from the LGBT movement; one that the LGBT movement took a little while to learn. And that’s to let firebrands be firebrands, and to let diplomats be diplomats. We need to recognize that not all activists pursue activism in the same say; we need to recognize that using both more confrontational and more diplomatic approaches makes us a stronger movement, and that both these approaches used together, synergistically, are more powerful than either approach alone.

    To some extent the LGBT movement is still learning this lesson, but we’ve become much better about it, and our movement has become stronger as a result. Here’s an example: In the queer activist movement of the ’80s and ’90s, loud, angry street activist groups like ACT UP and Queer Nation often accused more mild-mannered lobbying groups of assimilationism, excessive compromise, generally selling out. And the mild-mannered groups often accused the street activists of being overly idealistic, alienating potential allies, and making their own job harder.

    But when we look at those years in retrospect, it becomes clear that both methods together were far more effective than either method would have been alone. And the LGBT movement has learned — to some extent — to recognize this fact, and to deliberately strategize around it. Part of this is simply that different methods of activism speak to different people. Some folks are better able to hear a quiet, sympathetic voice. Others are better able to hear a passionate cry for justice. And the “good cop/ bad cop” dynamic can be very effective. Again, in the queer movement of the ’80s and ’90s, the street activists got attention, got on the news, raised general visibility and awareness. The polite negotiators could then raise a more polite, nuanced form of hell, knowing that the people they were working with had at least a baseline awareness of our issues. And when the street activists presented more hard-line demands, that made the polite negotiators seem more reasonable in comparison. The line between an extremist position and a moderate one kept getting moved in our direction. We see this working today: the same-sex marriage debate has made supporting civil unions seem like the moderate position, even the conservative one — which wasn’t true ten years ago.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t debate our tactical differences. On any given issue, it’s sometimes worth debating whether diplomacy or confrontation (or a combination) will be a more effective tactic in that particular case. But I’d like to us stop treating these debates as if they were larger questions of morality or character that have to be resolved in one direction or the other once and for all. We do what we’re inspired to do, and what we’re good at. Some of us are good at passionate, confrontational idealism; some of us are good at sympathy with our opponents. (And some of us are good at a mix of these approaches.) The diplomatic atheists need to stop trying to shut up the firebrands, stop accusing them of alienating people. And the firebrand atheists need to stop accusing the diplomats of being wusses. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

    – Greta Christina, “What Can the Atheist Movement Learn from the Gay Movement?

  • Derek

    We are here to simply say, “Here’s what we have to say. I respect your opinion. I don’t believe it, but I hope you respect mine.”

    I’m not really seeing this. It’s seems like an actions speaking louder than words moment.

    Cheers.

  • Molly

    “What about this was immoral? It it being atheists? Owning porn? Thinking that the bible is flawed?”

    The people who dislike us based on our atheism are the same people who are anti-porn. It would be like having a veal for vegans campaign. It’s viewed as immoral to the people it’s aimed at (assuming it’s aimed at the religious). It’s also very disrespectful to the people it’s aimed at (again, assuming it’s aimed at religious folks). It is equating porn to their holy text. They might as well have had a sign that said “Hey, religious people! Come here to get insulted and be deeply offended!”

    I think that idea of the campaign would have been fun to talk about privately, but it was a bad idea to actually act on it.

    “@ Molly, again, I agree with you 100%.”

    I love hearing that :)

  • http://shutthatmanup.blogspot.com MercuryChaos

    Everyone else has already mentioned my other concerns about this, so I’m going to tackle one that no one’s gotten yet. As a student of information science, I take issue with their plan to donate the books to a library.

    Libraries are too often used as a way for people to get rid of books without feeling bad about throwing them away. This is all well and good, but the library’s still got to sort through that box of donated books, and then catalog and store the ones they want to use, (if there are any.) This is a burden on the library’s staff and resources. Most libraries already have copies of the Bible, and so it’s unlikely that any of these donated Bibles will ever make it to the shelves.

    If they got copies of holy books other than the Bible then those might be useful as donations, but otherwise they’d be better off selling them to a used bookstore (and making a little money for the group treasury, or to donate to a charity) or just throwing them in the recycling dumpster themselves and cutting out the middleman.

  • Delphine

    The campaign may be immature, but it’s nevertheless funny. I laughed.

    Theists who will be offended will be offended with just the word “atheism”. You’re not going to offend them any more or less with “Smut for Smut”.

    Theists who are sensible and realize their holy text aren’t holy to anyone else but them know it’s entirely another person’s right to trade in their holy text for porn if the person chooses to do so.

    Just because something is “immature” doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Besides, who decides what’s mature and what’s immature? If it gets a point across it’s mature enough for me.

    I think, rather than donating the books to the library, they should sell the books back to the Christians and donate the funds to a secular non-profit organization. Even Red Cross or United Way (yuck) would do.

  • Molly

    “Theists who will be offended will be offended with just the word “atheism”. You’re not going to offend them any more or less with “Smut for Smut”.”

    I disagree. To use an anecdote, I know my parents aren’t offended by my atheism, sad for their daughter’s Hell-bound soul, yeah, but not offended. They would absolutely be offended by this campaign. I’d type more but a sick baby just threw up on me.

  • Trey Morton

    It may sound harsh, but if you are not ready to stand up for what YOU believe in, and defend yourself, then you are a coward….

    No one showed up to the panel because we flaked out and hid our tails between our legs.

    Not sure if I am following this – you guys are cowards too for not showing up to the panel? Am I reading it incorrectly?

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    “We are here to tell the world that we are tired of being treated like misfits, and worthless humans with no sense of right or wrong.”

    So your idea to do this is to act like a complete and total asshole.

    That certainly is one way to prove that you’re just like everybody else, I suppose.

    BTW, you can’t “respect somebody else’s opinion” by actively disrespecting it.

  • Richard H

    @Molly

    The people who dislike us based on our atheism are the same people who are anti-porn. It would be like having a veal for vegans campaign. It’s viewed as immoral to the people it’s aimed at (assuming it’s aimed at the religious).

    I like your pride-parade analogy here.

    Being gay is seen as immoral by the anti-gay folks. So, it is literally impossible to run a pro-gay event that wouldn’t be seen as immoral by the folks who are frightened by gays.

    The pride parades weren’t, “if we hide our views will you kindly allow us to live in peace?” They were the gay community stating that they existed and that the rest of the world was going to have to live with that.

    To me, atheism isn’t really about not-believing in God. It’s about not-believing in the arbitrary assumptions and moral claims that are imposed on people by religious indoctrination.

    So I’d take, “consensual sex is ok, and there’s no reason to feel shame about it” as a more important part of New Atheism than, “there’s no actual evidence supporting a deist-god, so in as far as someone wants to be consistent with Occam’s Razor and empirical methods, they shouldn’t be a deist.”

    It’s also very disrespectful to the people it’s aimed at (again, assuming it’s aimed at religious folks). It is equating porn to their holy text. They might as well have had a sign that said “Hey, religious people! Come here to get insulted and be deeply offended!”

    I think that idea of the campaign would have been fun to talk about privately, but it was a bad idea to actually act on it.

    Here we disagree again. To me, truth is not insulting. The bible contains erotic verses.

    If people are hurt to learn this, then the problem really isn’t with the atheists.

  • Molly

    The bible contains erotic verses.

    If people are hurt to learn this, then the problem really isn’t with the atheists.

    Do you think that is what religious people think when they hear of the “Smut for Smut” campaign? Really?

  • Aj

    Someone else’s beliefs or opinions don’t have to be respected, and people can be offended about absolutely anything, and if you start thinking you can’t offend anyone, then people will get offended by absolutely everything. As Stephen Fry once said: “So what if you’re offended? It’s just a whine”.

    Also, who the fuck cares if Christians think what we do is immoral? We should think about what Christians would think of our actions before doing them now? The 10 Commandments, a list held as some kind of perfect abbreviation of morality by many Christians, says you should believe in Yahweh. The first four commandments are about believing in Yahweh.

  • Guy G

    It would be interesting if Campus crusade for Christ ran their own “Smut for Smut” campaign where they took in pornography and handed out bibles.

    An excellent idea. If they both had a stall on the same day, you could use some back-and-forth swapping to upgrade your porn/Bible (i.e. swap crap porn for a Bible, then the Bible for some better porn, or vice versa).

    From my perspective this stunt seems to smack of attention seeking and trying too hard to rebel. The things to consider are:
    * What’s the point of an atheist group?
    * How does this help achieve it?
    Presumably the point of an atheist group is to get other people to change their point-of-view to a non-theistic one, or failing that to at least get them to think of atheists in a more positive light.
    I don’t think that this stunt helps with either of those aims. If you already dislike atheists, then seeing a group of them being openly rude towards religious people isn’t going to help. If you’re having doubts about theism, it would probably help to talk them over with someone who doesn’t openly mock the ideas you’re wrestling with.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Molly,
    Correct me if I am wrong, but what I am understanding from your comments are this:
    When dealing with the other side, we should be aware of what their reactions are to our message, not because we need to be afraid of what they might say or do, but because our message may be diluted by the way in which we choose to deliver it, thus making it less effective as propaganda. We should gauge our target audience before attempting to propagandize them in order to get the maximum desirable effect. Right?
    BTW, do not look at the word propaganda as dirty…propaganda is a tool and nothing more. I use the term in a neutral and non-judgmental way.

  • Jerzy Mike

    Honestly, I don’t care about trading Scripture for porn. Not my thing but I’m not here to really argue this particular aspect of morality.

    My one real issue here is that the commercial porn industry, along with most/all other forms of adult entertainment, prey on already victimized women. Over 80% of all women involved in these industries were abused growing up, be it sexually or otherwise. I’m not saying that this fact alone is the reason women get into these industries but it is a STAGGERING common denominator. Most of these women are women that when little girls had their innocence not just vitiated but devoured by another human being. We’re talking a real cannibalistic act here.

    So whether you are an atheist, Muslim, Jew, whatever… you shouldn’t be supporting these industries in such a way. Not because of the morality of sex and choice but the morality of abuse. It’s heartbreaking.

    Don’t get me wrong – I like naked boobies as much as the next guy, just not at the expense of a woman who suffered at the hands of another which may be greatly influencing her choice to give herself in such a way.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    First, the Atheist Agenda made it clear that they were not supporting pornography but were simply using it as a comparison. Second, I don’t see a problem with pornography. Christianity has so invaded our culture that naked people having sex has been deemed immoral. It isn’t. I have written a short defense of the Atheist Agenda and encourage more discussion on Dangerous Talk.
    -Staks

  • Molly

    “When dealing with the other side, we should be aware of what their reactions are to our message, not because we need to be afraid of what they might say or do, but because our message may be diluted by the way in which we choose to deliver it, thus making it less effective as propaganda. We should gauge our target audience before attempting to propagandize them in order to get the maximum desirable effect. Right?”

    Exactly!! Campaigns are a form of marketing and should be developed with the target audience in mind.

    “I use the term in a neutral and non-judgmental way.”

    Which is exactly how I read it :)

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Guy G,
    Bravo, you hit the proverbial nail right on the head.

  • Guy G

    @ The Godless Monster

    Thank-you, kind sir.

  • ChrisZ

    I really think this whole idea that we should be concerned about how individual events and people who are atheists reflect on atheists as a whole is stupid.

  • Richard H

    @Guy G

    Normalising criticism of religion is also a goal. This will help with that. Eventually, people will get fake-outrage fatigue.

  • http://imaginggeek.blogspot.com/ ImagingGeek

    This is somewhat off-topic, but apparently watching porn reduces misogynistic tendencies in men, and may even act to reduce sex crimes:

    http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/3/1/29/1/

    Maybe we should be a little less critical of this event…

    …or maybe not

  • http://www.belovedspear.org Beloved Spear

    Again, this sort of thing draws attention to atheism in the same way that Westboro Baptist draws attention to Christianity. Gettin’ all up in folk’s grill might be satisfying on a higher primate level, but it changes no minds.

  • Jeff Dale

    Several commenters have said some version of “the religious will be stirred up no matter what we do.” I think this is a mistake.

    There is a subset of the religious audience that will be stirred up no matter what we do. And it’s even possible they won’t be much more stirred up by “Smut For Smut” by anything else. We’re probably not going to reach those folks anyway, and of course, debating with them is generally futile.

    But I think most of the religious audience, the ones that we do have a chance of reaching, will be repelled by “Smut For Smut” when other campaigns might’ve reached them. This might not be the case specifically at UTSA, where they apparently got a good response (attention, discussions, etc.), though perhaps another campaign would’ve done just as well without the negatives. But I think it’s true generally.

    Consider the difference between, for example, “Smut For Smut” and UCoR’s “Good Without God” billboards. A few of the billboards get defaced, and many theists (at least, the ones we have a chance of reaching) are embarrassed and/or sympathetic; we start looking like an oppressed minority to them; if they felt a little defensive on their own account at first, now they want to defend our rights. Many of these same theists will be offended by “Smut For Smut” in a way that they weren’t by the billboards, and won’t want to give anyone the impression that they’re sympathetic to the atheists; the campaign will make the fundamentalists seem to have the moral high ground (always a bad sign for an atheist campaign) since even moderate theists who can tolerate others’ doubts won’t tolerate contempt.

    In other words, even if this campaign was the best way to reach the religious audience at UTSA (which I’m not convinced of, but can see how it might be the case), let’s not tell ourselves it is therefore a “win” in the broader atheist community. (It could be a local “win” but a global “lose.”)

    I agree that a movement needs a wide range of voices. I can even accept the possibility that this campaign might be a global “win” in the long run. But I think our movement tends to benefit more by helping the moderately religious to understand and respect us.

    So many of the moderate to liberal religious already have so much in common with us (indeed, many of them are essentially atheist without knowing it) that we have the advantage of being able to simply accentuate those affinities, or indeed just to wait for them to gradually recognize those affinities. I don’t think we (in the global picture, at least) need desperate grabs for attention that cause the moderate religious to see more affinities with (or sympathy for) the fundamentalists and less with us.

  • Jeff Dale

    Btw, in the original thread on this topic, someone suggested handing out non-pornographic erotic literature, videos, etc.

    I think that would make exactly the same point as “Smut For Smut” while maintaining the high ground in the debate, not being offensive, attracting rather than repelling the moderately religious, giving the fundamentalists nothing to attack, not reinforcing negative stereotypes about atheists, sending a positive message about sexuality in place of a negative one, etc.

    Does anyone see a negative to this alternative? I don’t.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Jeff Dale, no I see nothing negative in something such as you describe. Of course, nobody will truly know until someone tries it. Perhaps a good future project for Joe and his naughty crew…

  • haley

    A lot of the comments on here are concerned about the mainstream’s reaction to atheist groups and how conservative minded people will react to them handing out porn.

    I find that annoying and I’m not sure if I will be able to properly articulate why. I think it has to do with my notion that we are not all PR agents. Conversing and vocalizing our views without fear of saying “I don’t believe in God”, is whats important, so lets stop viewing all atheist oriented programs as exercises in good salesmanship.

    Also, it seems that the majority of people who are atheists are so, in part, because they denounce the unethical and hypocritical acts of different religions throughout the ages. So if we truly care about humanism and dismantling religious oppression, superstition and prejudices, then we should be willing to address the social norms that religion has created.

    Which brings back the issue of pornography.I concede that much of pornography is disrespectful and degrading and I think atheists should care about disparaging that type. After all, religion has played a key role in subjugating women and fostering the misogyny reflecting is such material. But as mentioned by another post, not all porn is anti-woman, and many women enjoy watching, looking, and/or engaging in it. And on a broader scale, I would argue that our society’s prudishness and conservatism for *gasp* pornography (of any kind) are due to our Puritan roots and religious contempt of sexuality.

    So lets not be afraid to rebel against their mainstream morality. I am female feminist atheist, I recognize that people “get off” on different things and sexuality extends across a broad spectrum. Being liberated from religion means that I am not a slave to their ideas of sexual purity or properness. Being a humanist means that I support people’s autonomous right to themselves….including how they choose to express their sexuality.

    I understand that atheism is not a homogeneous movement, but we should celebrate that fact not denounce it. After all, effective movements require a diversity of tactics.

  • qwertyuiop

    1. If people don’t want to talk to me, the only real response is to scream louder, and
    2. Anyone who does not agree with #1 is a coward.

    No. People who “be careful what they say” and who are afraid to speak their minds through fear of offending the (idiotic) majority are the cowards.

    And screaming louder is how you get heard. Simple as that. It is what religion has been doing for thousands of years. Now it’s our turn.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ haley,

    I respectfully disagree. Of course most of us are not PR agents, but we all assume that role when we make a public spectacle with the intent of influencing others. Some of us make a distinction between everyday interactions with others and “programs” as you call them.
    Indeed, when people undertake to influence others, it is a form of salesmanship. Because it annoys you does not mean that it is not so. What I’m reading between the lines is a message that says this, “I want to say and do anything I want to whomever I want if the mood strikes me.” Well, if that trips your trigger, go for it, as long as you are within the law. To make the assertion, however, that conducting public campaigns is not an exercise in PR or salesmanship is simply not true.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ haley…
    Effective movements require a diversity of EFFECTIVE tactics.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ qwertyuiop,
    I am 100% for taking direct action against the enemy, but only if there is a near 100% certainty I am going to win.
    The reality is this: we are outgunned, out-financed and out numbered. Running at the enemy screaming with our arms flailing about like enraged toddlers only make us look foolish and hurts our cause.
    So much better to conduct a low intensity guerrilla operation.

  • http://knowledgeisnotveryfar.blogspot.com/ Jake

    I posted a full length response on my blog but my basic response to this event is it seems the Atheist Agenda, of the University of Texas at San Antonio, is just a group of people who lack the creativity to get their ideas out there in a legitimate and respectful manner. Thus, their only recourse is to revert to a childish attempt to piss off as many people as possible all at once in the hopes that they can somehow exploit the attention they receive from it.

  • ATL-Apostate

    A religious conservative friend of mine informed me that “some atheist from Texas who is giving porn in exchange for Bibles is going be on the Laura Ingraham show today at 1130am.”

    Curious, I tuned in. Apparently, Ingraham is a very conservative talking head that appears on Fox from time to time.

    Anywho, Ingraham came back from commercial break at 1130 after trashing this atheist the entire 30 minutes (“the atheist” was not yet on the phone to defend herself) prior and said they would not be speaking with the student from TX b/c she “didn’t follow the rules.”

    What rule was that, you might ask?

    The student called into the show with a cell phone instead of a land-line. Apparently this is not allowed. Although several callers who were clearly using cell phones had called in already, “the atheist” was now breaking the rules.

    Ingraham then took the opportunity to bash this girl from TX, and atheists in general. The criticisms were that atheists are ignorant and don’t like to follow rules – that’s why they are atheists, of course. You could hear the sneer in Ingraham’s voice.

    *shrug*
    meh, what do you expect?

  • http://smackshack.livejournal.com Marvin

    In defense of Smut for Smut I’d like to say a few things.

    One, these are kids in college. In college you can do some outrageous-seeming stuff that no national organization would try to do. The context allows for it, so they should go for it.

    Two, it’s funny. It just is. That counts for a lot. You have one life to live, so be witty and be fun and go for it.

    Three, so what if part of the motive is to say “Fuck off” to the religious right? Honestly: so what? If everyone who felt that way actually said it, America would be a much better place.

    Four, in our worry about respectability we underestimate the power of frank, seemingly offensive speech to liberate people. I’m pretty sure that straight people have enjoyed more benefit from the gay rights project than they will ever know; likewise men, from feminism; and white people, from racial egalitarianism. Often being shocked or offended is the first step to being liberated. Religious people are no different.

    (Imagine trying to tell gay people today not to dress outrageously now and then and go on parade, because it’s not respectful. They would laugh at you. I see no difference here.)

    Five, porn is a fact of life. It is a fact that stems from being sexual beings that know how to communicate. Good porn is just that: good. Unethical porn exists, just as unethically produced clothing exists, but that doesn’t make porn or clothes intrinsically bad.

    The simple fact is that Smut for Smut exchanges something that is mostly bad for something that is mostly good.

    Six, if other atheists can’t laugh along with an event like Smut for Smut, then I suspect our evident lack of humor hurts us a lot worse, collectively, then Atheist Agenda’s lack of respect for religion.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Marvin,
    “Three, so what if part of the motive is to say “Fuck off” to the religious right?”
    Nothing! Just don’t tell me afterward that your motive was something entirely different! Man up! Take responsibility! That’s all I ask! I’m all for telling those self-righteous prigs to go fuck themselves, but if I do so, I’ll be intellectually honest enough to admit I did it because it felt good to do so and I felt that they had it coming.
    Was there something in my comments before that didn’t get that point across loud and clear?

  • haley

    @ Godless Monster.

    I suppose I fundamentally disagree with the notion that expressing our opinions and engaging in atheist oriented activities are tantamount to salesmanship.Atheism is the lack of faith in God…that is not something you can “sell”. I operate under the notion that you can reach out to someone, share ideas, express knowledge, debunk myths, and challenge perspectives, but ultimately people have to reach those conclusions themselves.

    Even assuming your premise, that public communication is in and of itself, salesmanship, the important question is “do we tailor our “sales pitch” to fit the conservative notions we seek to disrupt?” That was the driving point for my discussion on porn; a lot of people feel morally opposed to something because of religious indoctrination and the norm/taboo issues created by a conservative values society.

    So I support campaigns and individuals who challenge the status quo, taboos, and norms and who offer different tactics to achieving common goals.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ haley,
    You are operating under the assumption that most people are as intelligent as you are.
    People that come to their own conclusions after weighing evidence are far and few between. You are in the minority, haley and you are special.
    The masses are content to be sold and led by the nose. I need no more proof than the fact that televangelism has been successfully selling religion to folks since the invention of television itself. Convincing the first guy to cut the skin off the end of his dick because some sky guy told some prophet to do it was a sales job. Religion and similar beliefs are all con jobs perpetrated by salesmen, and these vampires do it because it works… because that is what most people respond to. It’s all about sales when dealing with the masses, haley. When dealing with folks like those on this blog, it’s a different ballgame altogether. Intellectual snobbery on my part? Oh, you bet it is, and I make no apologies for it.

  • http://smackshack.livejournal.com Marvin

    @ Godless Monster
    Fair enough. Mea culpa. I read & posted hastily and mixed part of your comment with parts of other people’s comments in my poor scrambled brain.

  • Alexi

    I’m still surprised to see so many knee-jerk comments here. How does this mock a persons’ faith?

    Joe ought to expand beyond the Bible & accept ALL religious texts while offering porn open to ALL fetishes ..including homosexual.

    I approve. This gets people talking. Very few do that on their own.

  • Jeff Dale

    … we are not all PR agents … so lets stop viewing all atheist oriented programs as exercises in good salesmanship.

    All we’re saying is, they’re entitled to pull their stunt, and we’re entitled to say we think it was a bad idea on PR grounds. And now I’ll add, you’re entitled to ignore the PR dimension of things people do that reflect on us, and we’re entitled to say that’s a mistake if you care about promoting understanding and acceptance of atheism and the societal standing of atheists.

  • Aj

    Jeff Dale,

    Btw, in the original thread on this topic, someone suggested handing out non-pornographic erotic literature, videos, etc.

    Erotic literature is mostly aimed at females, and promotes the objectification of men and gives unrealistic expectations. Of course, since I don’t want to censor and stamp on female sexuality, I would greatly be in favour of adding other media to be as inclusive as possible, but still including porn.

  • Jeff Dale

    Erotic literature is mostly aimed at females, and promotes the objectification of men and gives unrealistic expectations. Of course, since I don’t want to censor and stamp on female sexuality, I would greatly be in favour of adding other media to be as inclusive as possible, but still including porn.

    I only referred to the other thread but should’ve quoted from it:

    Arctic Ape:
    I think they should stick more clearly with the “violence bad, sexuality harmless and fun” theme. They could name the event something like “Read love, not war” and deliver copies of some wide-spectrum erotica anthology.

    I then noted that they’d still get the chance to point out the smutty stuff in the bible (as well as the violent stuff), but to do so by offering a positive view of sexuality as the alternative. Arctic Ape later suggested “a wide variety of well-selected specific-themed erotic books, videos, etc.” with an attempt to be “inclusive and ethical.” I further suggested romance/erotic novels, non-erotic nude art, and “good sex” manuals for couples.

    With these, I suppose you could also include porn, now that you mention it. My objection was not to porn per se (which I have nothing against) but to the way porn was used specifically to shock and offend. If they offered a variety of sex-related material with a positive message about sexuality (to contrast with the biblical messages), there’s no reason why that material shouldn’t include porn.

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  • Jamie

    Everybody needs to remember here that porn has been in existence WAY before ANY religous text was even thought of and is nothing new. Everybody I know can relate to sex no matter what you believe. Can the same thing be said about a talking burning bush? Maybe next time they will give out DVDs in exchange for bibles.