Atheist Billboard in Fresno Vandalized After Only Three Days

Remember the billboard that was put up by the Central Valley Coalition of Reason (in Fresno, California)?

It said: “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.”

That billboard went up on Tuesday afternoon.

It didn’t even last a week before the vandals got to it.

Here’s what the billboard looks like now:

The word “Don’t” has been crossed out… leaving “believe in God? Join the club.” And I guess MADC wants to take credit for the destruction…

Calladus, a part of the Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics (one of the Central Valley CoR members), writes this:

Fresno does have a tagging problem, and I’m sure that the slime that does this sort of thing do so out of their own tagging aggrandizement, and not because they are in any way pious or faithful. I hold little hope that this person or people will be caught and given the justice they deserve.

I do have hopes that the Fresno Community will stand together in their condemnation of this vile act.

I’m much more cynical. I think it’s clear that a religious person did this and I don’t think the community will be all that upset.

The right thing to do would be for CBS to replace the ad at no cost — If there is a cost, I’d love to see religious people donate a portion of the billboard’s cost to the CoR in an act of goodwill, even if they had nothing to do with the incident).

  • Secular Stu

    Fresno does have a tagging problem, and I’m sure that the slime that does this sort of thing do so out of their own tagging aggrandizement, and not because they are in any way pious or faithful.

    What is he, nuts? They blotted out “Don’t”.

  • Miko

    You have the wrong before picture. It should be this one: http://unitedcor.org/chapter/valley/full-view/251/0

    (Hemant says: Fixed! Thanks.)

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    A search for “MADC Fresno CA” yielded this:

    http://youtu.be/VkOcoKoiYVw

    I’m glad there are outstanding moral citizens like these standing up to us nasty atheists.

  • el perro

    Gangbangers for Christ. Nice.

  • Karen

    This is a hate crime and the perpetrators should be sought just as if a Nazi emblem had been placed on a synagogue.

  • http://call-me-rick.blogspot.com/ Rick

    Looks like a near-typical graffiti tagging incident to me. A gang more interested in pissing on something than making a statement.

  • http://www.cvaas.org Calladus

    Rick,

    That’s my assessment too. This sign made a big splash in the local news yesterday. I’m thinking the spraying over of the word “Don’t” means very little other than a grab for attention.

    The tagging seems seems like an opportunistic grab for publicity, knowing that this would become “controversial” when it hits the local media.

  • http://uncompromising-rhetoric.com Vernard Mercader

    I’m not surprised gangstuhs have delusional belief in god. Statistics prove the fact, 99.1% of Prison inmates believe in a god.

  • Dave B

    Living in California, I often see signs and billboards tagged like this. People like to write their names and cross out or add words to change the meaning of the message on what they’re tagging. This vandalism doesn’t look any different than the random graffiti I see all the time on otherwise innocuous signage. Perhaps the atheistic message made this particular sign a juicier target, but I see no reason to think that some religious person who wasn’t already planning to tag something went out of their way to do this.

  • TheLoneIguana

    I live in the central valley, and the religiosity factor is incredibly high.

    I don’t doubt for a minute that it was intentionally defaced by someone threatened by the mere idea of nonbelievers. The gang tag might be secondary, given the sheer amount of graffiti Fresno has.

  • Edmond

    They should make billboards with some kind of net or trap of some sort, to snare anyone that climbs up. There could even be a printed warning visible on the way up, so no one could complain of “unlawful imprisonment”. Bait cars lock the perp inside, preventing fleeing, so it should be perfectly legal. It’d be a lot of fun to be the guy who gets up for work in the morning to see what the traps caught overnight!

  • http://www.lifeasareader.blogspot.com Macha

    Well at least they’re dumb vandals. They didn’t cover up the web URL, and barely covered the “Don’t.” What did they hope this would accomplish?

  • Jon Peterson

    NEW RECORD!!
    Enter your name:

    MADC

    Where’s the Blink tag when you need it (to denote the text marquee)? xP

    On a more serious note: Having grown up in Fresno, I’m not surprised at all, by any aspect of this. Tagging happens EVERYWHERE out there, and it’s all this super-shitty quality. The guy who did it probably kisses his obscenely gaudy cross pendant every time he stuffs his 9mm back into his waistband after waving it around to show people a level of toughness that he wouldn’t be capable of exuding unarmed.

    Fresno: home of the posebangers.

  • Josh

    Mothers Against Drunk Christians?

  • Lazarus T. Blowfly

    Meet America’s Dumb Christians

  • Richard Wade

    I do have hopes that the Fresno Community will stand together in their condemnation of this vile act.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    It doesn’t matter whether these cowards are mindless taggers or the Midnight Defenders of the True Faith. Fairly or unfairly, this reflects poorly on the religious people in the area. If the local religious leaders don’t publicly and unambiguously denounce this, then it will suggest to many that they at least tacitly approve, and once again the unspoken permission to continue the bigotry will be reinforced.

    If this was done to a synagogue, we’d probably hear vociferous condemnations from most of the local Christian leaders. If it was done to a mosque, we’d probably hear a mealy-mouthed “that’s unfortunate” from a few. But it’s still open season on atheists, still perfectly acceptable to crush our right to free speech.

    I would be delighted to be wrong about the Fresno community. Prove me wrong.

  • Matteo Watkins

    Fresno… the Jesus, Meth, and Teen Pregnancy capitol of the Central Valley… think I’m lying? Sadly not. Just about sums it up though.

  • Nordog

    I hate vandalism.

  • Hugh Kramer

    Is “MADC” the name of a tagger or is it an abbreviation “MAD C,” meaning perhaps, Mad Christian?

  • Raven

    Macha, I think your point may give weight to LoneIguana’s comment that this may be two separate incidents. The gang tag is very well done and does not allow the background to show through. The paint over the word “don’t” is sloppy and semi-transparent.

  • John

    This act of vandalism is clearly something only an intolerant, bigoted, pathetic waste of oxygen consumption of a THEIST could do!

  • Scote

    “Vernard Mercader Says:
    May 6th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I’m not surprised gangstuhs have delusional belief in god. Statistics prove the fact, 99.1% of Prison inmates believe in a god.”

    No, the stats show that inmates report being a member of a religion. That doesn’t necessarily equate to belief. I would guess that their are many reasons to claim association with a religion in prison, and actual belief may be the least of them.

    However, out-group aggression towards atheists is something even criminals probably can agree on, to make themselves feel better about themselves. Nice to know that atheism can possibly help unite the underclass :-0

  • Richard P.

    Just out of curiosity, why should CBS replace this at no cost? Why should they be responsible for someones vandalism?

    Don’t get me wrong, I do Think it would be nice if they did. Unless they have some clause that guarantees against vandalism I fail to see why the company should lose it’s profits because of some vandal.

    So maybe someone could explain this to me.

  • Dave B

    @Richard P. -

    One reason to argue that CBS should bear the cost of replacement is that they are in the best position to prevent the vandalism in the first place. Advertisers can’t put protective measures on the structure holding the billboard. They could hire guards to surround it, but this wouldn’t be very cost-effective. As CBS is in the best position to prevent vandalism, they should have to pay the price of not doing so in order to ensure the best outcome (in terms of cost), whether that’s protecting billboards or replacing ones that are vandalized.

    You could also argue that CBS has a responsibility to replace the billboard, as advertisers are paying to have their message displayed, and CBS isn’t living up to its end of the agreement if the billboard is left vandalized.

    Perhaps other people have different reasons, but those are the two arguments I see.

  • Richard P.

    I see your point. I think that there is an assumption that CBS didn’t take reasonable measures to prevent the vandalism. We all know locks only keep the semi-honest, honest. If a vandal want to vandalize, they will find away. So, where do you draw the line? Who determines what’s reasonable and whats not?

    I disagree that CBS is not fulfilling the contract, they provided the billboard and the space, unless the contract specifies replacement in case of vandalism, I see no further obligation. Is there insurance for that? Was it paid? If your ad gets destroyed in a phone book do you feel obligated to get a refund for that?

    I guess my point is, if your one of the most hated groups in America and you put yourself out there, you have to expect a backlash. I think you would have to be an idiot, if you didn’t expect something to happen. So if you expect to hold the company responsible for vandalism, then one of two things will happen. the price will skyrocket to insure a profit, or the company will quit accepting the business, because it is not worth it. Neither of these things are a good outcome for the group or other groups that would want to do the same thing.

    Supposedly being rational people, we should assume responsibility for our actions. If we are going to irritate the crazies, you have to accept responsibility for the provocation and the results. Not because were wrong, not because they’re right, but because it is reasonable to expect them to react in this way.

    To not accept responsibility for this is not much less despicable than Palin putting up posters with targets on them and denying any responsibility in provoking senators being shot in the head.

    To be rational and reasonable we also need to be responsible for our actions. Irritate the crazies you have to expect them, to do what they do. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending we didn’t is at the very least disingenuous.

  • paul

    If MADC claimed responsibility, sue MADC.

  • Dave B

    Richard P. -

    The question isn’t whether the measures taken to protect the billboard were reasonable. The question is how do you make sure they are reasonable? If you want to minimize the total cost of vandalism and protection from vandalism, the same person should be paying both costs. The relative costs of vandalism and countermeasures determine what’s reasonable. Otherwise, CBS will just do the cheapest thing that can be considered reasonable, rather than trying to find the most cost-effective solution.

    Perhaps the CoR should be responsible for the costs if we assume that the content of the billboard is what caused the vandalism. But isn’t CBS in a better position to know this than the CoR? Surely a company that sells billboard space should know more about vandalism than a group that sometimes uses them for advertising. This would again suggest that the more efficient solution places more responsibility on the group selling billboard space. Of course, this is an arguable point.

    I don’t know whether putting the costs of vandalism on CBS would necessarily lead to a more efficient outcome. These are just the two obvious arguments I can see in favor of CBS paying.

    As for the failure of CBS to fulfill its end of the contract, this is not my position. But it seems reasonable to argue that CBS should have a responsibility to ensure that the messages of advertisers it takes money from are actually displayed. This may be the reason that some people feel that CBS should pay.

  • http://friendlyathiest,cin simplysallie

    Prisoners who claim to have some religious belief get privileges such as leaving their cells for religious services and sometimes special diets which some believe are better than standard prison fare.

  • vexorian

    Is this like the worst censorship vandal ever? They left the website’s address. That means that people that believe in god will enter the atheist site and will get exposed to it.

  • Dave B

    The fact that they left the website is a good indication that whoever spray-painted over the “Don’t” may have done so because they thought it was funny, rather than to censor the message.

    To those who think the poor coverage of the “Don’t” is an indication that the person who wrote “MADC” was different from the person who sprayed over “Don’t”, note that there is a nice platform to stand on while spraying near the bottom, so it would have been harder to spray over the “Don’t”.

  • Nordog

    This act of vandalism is clearly something only an intolerant, bigoted, pathetic waste of oxygen consumption of a THEIST could do!

    Dude, your bigotry is showing.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    It isn’t actually obvious to me that the tagging and the blotting out of the “don’t” were done by the same person. One does sometimes see locations get multiple acts of vandalism, and once a location has some vandalism, the likelyhood that further vandalism will follow is high. Essentially people see graffiti and then decide to add more. Do we know if both additions occurred on the same evening? If so, that would be strong evidence that it really was only one person who did it.

  • Snuff

    I’m tired about all this billboard vandalizing, in Canada, the US and elsewhere. How about starting a campaign? Let’s mark our bills! All Americans and foreigners as well (If your bills read God and it’s not illegal to mark them) that are non-believers and would like to participate in this campaign simply stand together and read!

    Americans, our currency has “In God We Trust” on them and I have simply started marking out “God” with a black permanent marker and depending on the bill, I have written in either Atheism or Reason; somewhere above, below or even directly in the middle where GOD was blotted out. I saw this somewhere on Facebook and thought since they keep vandalizing the Atheist billboards then lets take it to them where they can’t do anything about it but turn it over. Even those who are closet atheists can do this, they can just blame it on anything else when using the bill to buy something.

    No one in their right mind would throw away money simply because of that so if we do this in mass numbers it’s bound to show up on the news or someone will speak of it in your local news. Take it to them guys! We don’t damage their Christian/Religious billboards, so why damage Atheist billboards?

  • Nordog

    We don’t damage their Christian/Religious billboards, so why damage Atheist billboards?

    I doubt that to be factually accurate. In any event, I hate all vandalism and would like to see legal sanctions against offenders to be enforced more vigorously.

    In any event, if marking up money is what does if for you, knock yourself out. I’m not sure that it will accomplish much, but if it makes you feel better, then the better for it, I guess.

  • AshR

    I think it’s hilarious! I mean come on did you not see that coming. The day I saw the add about the sign in the paper I thought wow that’s not going to last long. Every one has their own beliefs in life but few are excepted and for the ones that aren’t excepted you have to expect trials to deal with. If you put yourself on display like that your gonna be persecuted.

  • Cortex

    Richard P said:

    Supposedly being rational people, we should assume responsibility for our actions. If we are going to irritate the crazies, you have to accept responsibility for the provocation and the results.

    The billboard was not a provocation. It was a statement of existence and a communication to atheists that they are not alone and that they should take action of some kind.

    Palin was implying that those senators should be killed. CoR was explicitly telling atheists to join a club. There’s no comparison.

    The mentality that you seem to have – that we said something, not that we said something wrong, but that we said something as atheists, makes us responsible for a violent response against us – that is the same mentality as that of a battered spouse making excuses for the abuser’s outbursts.

  • Haley

    Does MADC stand for Madison Area Disc Club or Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens?

  • Doug Kirk

    Wasn’t there a christian billboard vandalized a few months back that American Atheists helped pay to restore? Not because they did it, but because they wanted to show that they were willing to make a stand for free speech?

    I’m listening for the outpour of charity from all the locals churches in Fresno to fix this graffiti… I’m hearing crickets.

  • http://www.conticreative.com Marco Conti

    Maybe we should come up with slogans that are not so easily changed in meaning as this one.

    Also, thinking out loud here, I was wondering if it would not be smarter to leave god and religion out of the slogans and use words like “reason” instead. It would make the message less controversial, sure, give it maybe less exposure , but if the scope is to catch the attention of those in the “closet” maybe using code words would make the message more effective in reaching them.

  • Vas

    “Vandalism is bad, period”… I’m not so sure this statement holds water. Okay fine so this was a low end tagger, but the subject of graffiti is a deep and complex subject, not some simple property rights issue, it has important social ramifications. I say this as someone who had to remove graffiti from my building on a daily basis for four years, yes every day for four years straight. I also say this as an artist. Check out the art in the streets exhibit at MOCA Los Angeles, and the surrounding hullabaloo. Without a doubt L.A. is looking very good because of all the new murals. Sure this is a different thing, but it is an interesting subject, that raises issues beyond some atheist billboard. Oh yeah and by the way screw billboards, mostly corporate graffiti anyway. Also if you live in Fresno you have bigger problems than people believing in jesus!

  • Herp N. Derpington

    So I don’t know if anyone pointed this out… but the idiot blanked out the “Don’t,” and not the URL. So there is now a billboard in Fresno that essentially says “Believe in God? Radical! Here’s an atheist website.”

    MADC is a troll trolling trolls trolling trolls trolling trolls who are trolling to troll trolls.

  • http://horvendile.diaryland.com Gordon

    So religious people are wrong when they claim to know the truth but you are right when you make a judgement on the motives of another person.

    Have you ever actually seen a tag? They do the same sorts of things to movies, and PSAs. It could well be simple vandalism, not religious war. But I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t accuse people I’m hostile to of hostility. You’re make people less receptive to atheism not more.

  • Madelaine Leidy

    I don’t really see a problem. They left the website, perhaps this will attract more believers and when they log on to the site, they may have to use their brains. Wether or not the vandal was a believer it’s totally irrelevant. I think he/she did us a favor. Free publicity and a website to check out. I agree that something must be done to prevent future vandalism on all billboards, the trap idea is funny, however, I think they should electrify the billboards.

  • aveteran

    The world according to Richard P.:

    I guess my point is, if your one of the most hated groups in America and you put yourself out there, you have to expect a backlash.

    So, we asked for it simply by saying we exist.

    So, Richard, did the Jews in Germany ask for it too?

    If we are going to irritate the crazies, you have to accept responsibility for the provocation and the results. Not because were wrong, not because they’re right, but because it is reasonable to expect them to react in this way.

    No, it’s NOT reasonable to expect people to attack and destroy over a billboard. We don’t accept race-, gender-, or religion-based attacks; why must we expect and accept irreligion-based attacks? I throw down the bullshit flag on you.

  • Chaos

    Another angle for the “different taggers” idea is that the MADC tag is in a free area of the sign, not covering anything except the background. If the Don’t wasn’t covered up this would look more like an endorsement than a defacing. Personally i don’t see why you don’t take the cue, grab a can of spray paint and go up there and fix the don’t portion.

  • IkeDizzle

    This act of vandalism is clearly something only an intolerant, bigoted, pathetic waste of oxygen consumption of a THEIST could do!

    Dude, your bigotry is showing.

    Bazinga!! Seriously, that first statement forgets the “One Love” philosophy that we all need to have.

  • Cal

    I’m guessing it wasn’t the Madame Alexander Doll Club.

  • Tia

    This person needs a HI-FIVE…for any to reject Christ is the most dumbest and most regretable decision you will ever make in your lifetime…

  • Nik

    @Tia,

    I rejected “Christ” at 15, was agnostic by 22, and atheist at 29 (after reading the bible all the way through – lost ALL faith at that point).

    Now, turning 40 in October. Haven’t regretted it yet!

  • Kenneth Westervelt

    You know, for a blog calling itself “Friendly Atheist”, you sure do attract a lot of unfriendly people. What is up with that?

    On grafitti: I’ve seen worse work before. Never dug the Wildstyle artform. And there’s not much reason to believe that MadC is specifically pro- or anti-Christian. Here’s her website: http://www.madc.tv

  • Noname

    This MADC shown here has nothing to do with the artist MadC (http://www.madc.tv). Anyone who has a slight sense for art can see that the person who did this one here is someone totally different.

  • Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

    BELiEVE iN GOD ! :)

  • PlayerToplayer

    Shouldn’t Put That Up In The First Place Then. Don’t Bring That To Fresno We Lovin Christ Out Here

    • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

      I’m Calladus.  I live in Fresno.  Let’s go have a beer together, and you can tell me what you think about atheists.  I’ll buy.  

      Just click on my name and you’ll get my email address, telephone number, and Instant Message links.
      Not that I think you will even bother – every single “Christian” who told us off from the safety of his or her own keyboard didn’t have the stones to talk to us face to face.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-Norris/100000737129242 William Norris

    MADC has a large chance of representing “mad christian” as an acronym.


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