Another Inoffensive Atheist Billboard… This Time, With Kittens

There’s another completely-inoffensive-but-sure-to-infuriate-certain-Christians billboard going up!

This one will be promoting Skepticon, the huge, free skeptic/atheist conference held in Springfield, Missouri (hi, Bible Belt!) each November.

It’ll go up on Monday. You’ve been warned.

How soon will it be before someone complains…?

(via WWJTD)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Holy crap! They’re letting that go up?!? In public where children might see it??!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IGL3DLVVWOY3BS2K4CZPPXN2PQ Whut

      This, right here.  This is going to be the stance. Kittens? OMG Atheists are trying to advertise to our kids by making signs with kittens!

      (Because… you know…liking cute things are not a universal human thing and only kids are allowed to like cute things. Just like cartoons… if its animated, its for kids. What’s that? Anime? Sounds like a Disney cartoon, must be for kids.)

      • rustywheeler

        Unless it’s an ad for the SPCA or cat food, it’s a non-sequitur, and objections to it will be for that reason.

        Again: just imagine that it reads “Kittens are cute. Jesus Convention.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430072715 Vincent Assington

          Why would anyone protest a billboard that said “Kittens are cute. Jesus convention.”?

      • Somegamerkid

        guys… he’s being sarcastic.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/IGL3DLVVWOY3BS2K4CZPPXN2PQ Whut

          Yep, but its a good point. :)

  • Kahomono

    How soon?

    3… 2… 1…

    • valerick

      Oh and you know they’ll say something about how the kittens are a Trojan horse designed to lure children into atheism.

      Which is why I think this is the smartest atheist billboard I’ve ever seen. There’s no way you can object to it without seeming completely nuts to any reasonable person.

      • Kahomono

        Just remember Poe’s Law.  The objections will come.  Or it’ll be just plain vandalized.

      • ganner918

        THEY’RE TARGETING YOUR CHILDRENZ!!!!!

        • LutherW

           And their god is just so jealous, unappealing,  and weak that three cute kittens cannot be stopped from luring children away. Even just images of kittens.

      • PhillyPhoto
      • rustywheeler

        If it read “kittens are cute” and followed with the non-sequitur “Jesus Convention,” wouldn’t we reasonably object?

        A non-sequitur is a non-sequitur is a non-sequitur.

        And the creators of the ad will not be justified in crying “See! Why do they hate kittens?” Because the kittens ARE being used—quite cleverly, in my view—as a foil for a message that is already understood to be controversial. Objections to the ad will not register as objections to kittens, they will register as objections to kittens being used in affiliation with something that has nothing to do with kittens. Kind of like scantily-clad women on the beach had nothing to do with smoking KOOL cigarettes.

        • valerick

          I wouldn’t object and I stand by my statement that no reasonable person would.

        • brianmacker

          Yeah, like all the atheists who object to cute bunnies and chicks on Easter, right?

  • Rhys

    Clean imagery, appropriate alignment, and a respectable typeface… this can’t be an atheist billboard

    • Fhj

      Not sure if trolling…

      • Coyotenose

        It’s tongue-in-cheek, but addresses a real issue. “Our” recent billboards have a deserved reputation for being graphics abominations.

        • Taco Magci

          I found this cool new Atheist friendly graphics program.  It’s called Microsoft Word!  They have a great word-art toolbox and it even comes with Comic Sans!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

            Comic Sans – the funniest text in the world, guaranteed. 

            • Mark W.

              Not True,  Fortune 500 companies kind of hate it when you write reports to them in all Comic Sans

    • brianmacker

      Sure it can be. They used very uncute cats instead of cute kittens.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    You can tell which one of the kittehs is an atheist cat…

    • http://www.facebook.com/aeisiminger Aimee Eisiminger

      My thoughts exactly, the one not looking up has spotted the man behind the curtain.

    • advancedatheist

      Otherwise known as a “secular felinist.”

    • Coyotenose

       The one that is both not looking up and is actively trying to crawl out and break free, as opposed to just reaching out and swatting at things.   ^_-

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

       They’re all atheists. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61401254 Kevin Coyle

    :D 

  • http://mysecretatheistblog.blogspot.com/ Godless Poutine

    No doubt FOXNews will say this is another advert targeting families and children.  Like they did with the movie theatre one.  Because kids like kittens and families have kids.

    Oh Noes!  What are the evil atheists DOING to the kitties? Godless Kittehs!

    • LutherW

       Three kittens, what are they up to?

  • Annie

    “Mommy!  What does the kitten sign say?”  It’s adorable.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    It is not possible to offend somebody. Offense can only be taken, not given. The decision to take offense lies solely with the offended party. And in this case, we’re dealing with a bunch of people ready to take offense at the very mention of the word “atheist”. So I’m guessing that complaints will start coming in at the billboard company before the last panel is glued in place.

  • rhodent

    I love the way two of the kittens are looking up…are they looking at Ceiling Cat?

    • PhillyPhoto

      I was actually thinking this was supposed to represent ceiling cat, so maybe people would say we worship teh kittehs or something stupid like that.

      If people have a problem with “Atheists” on a billboard, they’ll have a problem with this one too.

      • Aleforge

         I’m and Athiest living in Missouri, I so am gonna lose it that ceiling cat catches me masturbating near that sign. – ya I know =/

    • advancedatheist

      If Ceiling Cat doesn’t exist, who created the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to make humans want to serve cats?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

         Oh, come on — you know it was cats who civilized humans in the first place!

  • Carla

    All of those kittens are the same color! Atheists don’t understand the diversity of America! 

  • houndies

    Its clear that the atheist hate human babies otherwise they would not have used kittens AND cats were worshipped by the egyptians another tie to the demon world! Absurd u say? I know some xtians who would absolutely think that!

  • Benjamin

    PZ Myers will complain, he frowns on Cat’s.

    • http://www.facebook.com/King.Dominic Dominic Hinkins

      He frowns on cat’s what?

      • Coyotenose

         *chokes on banana pudding* Dammit, why do I read these threads while eating!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

          He frowns on cats’ what?

  • Ellie

    Huh. We’re having a national meeting of atheists in June and I completly forgot we’ll have to put some of those up. Wonder what will happen…

  • I_Claudia

    Now THIS is some fine trolling.

  • Lauralanders

    Awwww cute kitties.  What??? Atheists???  Gasp.

    • kitties ARE atheists.

      lol

  • Stephanie

    I think I get it… ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and atheists ask questions!

    Or kittens are just adorable,

    • Also Stephanie <3

       saw your name, thought I’d commented and forgot about it XD

    • mike

      you know that curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect

    • wockette

      Curiosity killed the cat, but satifaction brought it back.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I have a problem with this. I think it should read
    “Kittens are cute!”

    I think the punctuation makes more of an impact.
     

  • 69ingchipmunks

    “How soon will it be before someone complains…?”

    I’m a cute golden retriever puppy and I find this gross preferential treatment of our feline nemesis offensive.
    P.S. Woof.

    • Thomas Farrell

       Ssh! On the Internet, no one is supposed to know you’re a dog!

    • http://feministchristian.blogspot.com/ Luna

      Pfft. Bitch. :)

    • brianmacker

      I’m complaining right now. The billboard implies atheists can’t tell a kitten from a cat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

    Is that ceiling cat or stuck in wall cat?

  • Frightened_peasant

    This billboard is a bit misleading.  While kittens are indeed cute, the pictures on the billboard are fully grown cats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/antony.burt Antony Burt

    Love the fact they used Kittens instead of Lions… Just might slip past some Christians.

    • brianmacker

      They didn’t actually use any kittens in this ad, perhaps so that they can claim not kittens were harmed in the making of ti. Those are cats not kittens.

  • rustywheeler

    Well, I know how I’d feel if it read “Kittens are cute. Jesus Convention.”

    This is a decidedly non-neutral and would-be coercive ‘non-message.’ I’m surprised more folks can’t see that.

    • Coyotenose

      Coercive how? The only coercive thing is that people tend to give a second look to pictures of cats. Should the zoos stop using cats to advertise? Should cute things be banned from television commercials?

      I feel that you’re missing that we’re dealing with (alleged) adults that will be almost the entire reading audience of this billboard. There’s nothing here appealing to any base emotion to get peoples’ agreement.

      “Coercive” is putting up a picture of a child with a gun along with the caption, “If God doesn’t matter to him, why would you?” It’s meant to put fear into people. People enjoy pictures of cats. They don’t take them SERIOUSLY.

      If I saw “Kittens are cute. Jesus Convention”, I’d be impressed that they were self-aware enough to be harmlessly comedic with their advertising.

      • rustywheeler

        I contend that the goal is to positively link something universally adored with something admittedly controversial, in hope that the universal love distracts from and dilutes the controversy. Coercive.

        In my view, it’s not as banal as you think. You say you’d be impressed with the ‘self-awareness’ if this message were turned on it’s ear. You wouldn’t find it conspicuously too-cute-by-half and manipulative?

        • Coyotenose

           If it was less blatant, yes. This sort of thing, attached to any serious issue, is in my opinion an obvious bit of foolery. Now admittedly I’m not clairvoyant, and so don’t know with 100% certainty that the “Kittens/Jesus” billboard wouldn’t bother me, but I’ve smiled at religious messages before when the designers clearly weren’t taking themselves too seriously.

          Actually, the goal has been stated for months. It’s to test the boundaries of religionist bigotry.  We’ve been talking about this specific billboard message, even. At this point, it’s an in-joke that is very close to becoming an Internet meme, and the billboard might send it over the top. That many religionists are humor-blind* isn’t something that we can reasonably tiptoe around.

          Technically, the “least offensive sign” experiments are trolling. But not all trolling is negative. Sometimes it’s instructional.

          * I know, I know, some of us are humor-blind also. But anecdotally, I’ve seen quite the trend towards it among vocal Christians. That’s partly why a Kittens/Jesus billboard would impress me.

  • Thomas Farrell

    Will there be a large Kitten Habitat exhibit at the convention?

    There should be a large Kitten Habitat exhibit at the convention.

  • Thomas Farrell

    I think Center Kitteh and Right Kitteh are actually the same kitten.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

    Whoa! We only just started debating if humanists should support porn, and there’s already a billboard up showing some pussy….

    • Drew M.

       Well played!

  • Lana

    I love this new trend in atheist billboards! Love it so, so much! I have all these religious family members, and they’re always all, “Atheists aren’t discriminated against, I don’t know what you’re complaining about, you’re just a rabble rouser.” 

    So that last inoffensive Atheist billboard, with just the word “atheist” that was removed? A few days after I read that story, I was talking with my sister and she brought up my in-your-face atheism again (this time, apparently, it was a blog entry on my blog that bothered her). She started going on about how I was fighting a pointless fight because atheists are not discriminated against, and I just like arguing for the sake of arguing. I said, “Okay, so, if a billboard was out there and just said LDS.org or just the word Mormon, would you get upset if it was removed due to complaints?”

    “Well, yeah. Of course.”

    “And if the billboard just said, ‘Atheist,’ what then?”

    “Well, they have the right to have a billboard that says atheist, I guess. But none of the atheist billboards say that, they all make fun of religion really rudely — they would never be able to just let it be with that one word. You guys always have to get that last word in, with this whole we’re smart you’re dumb attitude.”

    So I told her about the inoffensive atheist billboard, complained about and removed. I sent her the news article link. She has not complained about how in-your-face offensive atheists are since. 

    I don’t know if it’s a long-term or temporary reprieve, but I’m glad for it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    There’ll be lots of complaints when cat lovers show up to Skepticon, expecting kittens.

    • guest

      If they have cats/kittens at Skepticon, I will be there.

  • http://twitter.com/liberalanon Formerly Not Guilty

    I love that the competition is to design the absolutely least offensive billboard imaginable then put in the word “atheist” to watch people scream.

  • rustywheeler

    I’ve already registered my mild dissatisfaction with the ad further down the thread, but I’ll state my case once more because I think it’s important.

    I do production art for advertising and—full disclosure—I designed that ad for NEPA Freethought from a while back with just the word “Atheist” set in Franklin Gothic against a dark background.

    The goal there was to strip, as much as possible, any affiliation or declaration from the identity of ‘atheist’ and to isolate the concept of atheism as much as possible, so that the predicted backlash would be unmistakably linked to the very idea of atheism. (If you want to get really wonky, it could be argued that even choice of typeface and color has a subtle emotional influence and nothing is fully neutral: this was as close as I could get.) Think of it as a control group in an experiment.

    The backlash, if and when it comes, against this ‘kitten’ ad (which I quite like, for what it’s worth) will not mean what most here are thinking it means. Consider:

    “Kittens are cute. Jesus Convention.”

    See? Irritating. Kittens have nothing to do with Jesus, and you’re just using them to lend an unrelated warmth and fuzziness to your real message, which is a little shady. But hey; that’s advertising!

    Now, I realize full well that this move is deliberate, knowing, tongue-in-cheek, and all the rest, which is why I like the ad. I just want to caution against the inevitable outrage when folks object to the ostensibly harmless ad. This ad is in no way ‘neutral’ and objections to it will reflect this. People know and understand that they’re being prodded, even—maybe especially—if you’re prodding with kittens.

    Don’t be surprised when Believers respond in kind.

    • http://www.facebook.com/liberalism Katie Hartman

      “This ad is in no way ‘neutral’…”

      True of quite literally any ad anywhere, virtually – and I’m cringing as I type this – by definition. An absolutely neutral “ad” is, I dunno, public art?

      “…objections to it will reflect this.”

      Unlikely. Most people aren’t wholly opposed to advertising in any form – they tend to distinguish ‘good/fair’ advertising from ‘bad/unfair’ advertising, with the sense that some degree of persuasion is acceptable. An ad like Skepticon’s (which, in the spirit of disclosure, I designed) is likely to garner objections, but not for this reason – most folks just don’t really believe that they’re malleable enough to be significantly impacted simply by thinking about kittens and atheists at the same time. It’s a challenge to conceive of a less ‘coercive’ ad.

      The punchline: This is an advertisement that would be difficult to oppose on any grounds other than that it IS an advertisement. Which is the point, no? To show that what is actually offensive about this billboard (and others like it) is the fact that atheists are advertising at all.

      • rustywheeler

        “True of quite literally any ad anywhere, virtually – and I’m cringing as I type this – by definition.”

        Which is pretty much what I said, no?

        “…what is actually offensive about this billboard (and others like it) is the fact that atheists are advertising at all.”

        Well, I still disagree. I think that’s what we were trying to do/show with the text-only ad. All we’re showing here is that distaste for atheists can’t be overcome by cuteness of kittens. But if I haven’t adequately explained the difference by now, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to.

        All I’m sayin’ is that people know when their chain is being deliberately yanked, that this ad is deliberately yanking chain, and it won’t be ‘unfair’ when that’s pointed out.

  • PA Year of the Bible

    I certainly hope that this ad was okay’d by a panel of cats before Skepticon approved it.  Otherwise they might get a call from the office of feline activist Claw Sharpton, claiming the billboard perpetuates stereotypes of cats being destructive of property.  And that humans have no rights to post images of felines, except in the most flattering poses.  My suggestion: Post a couple of guards there, lest a group of strays rip the sign down overnight, with the blessing of the Mayor, feline-loving Missouri legislators, and the Animal Control Department.  But don’t despair.  At least in Missouri, it isn’t the YEAR OF THE BIBLE.

  • Freebird285

    Here’s what they’ll say: “Silly Atheists using one of God’s creatures to promote Atheism, Checkmate silly Atheists’ durp”. or something like that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jonjermey Jon Jermey

    Ah, I get it — they’re for the ritual sacrifice!

  • Jett Perrobone

    I think the only people who would take objection to this sign are the skeptics themselves, who would point out the lack of evidence supporting the “cute kitten” theory.

    I still have faith that they are cute, though. ;3

  • http://www.facebook.com/mailmejose Jose Alvarado

    I am so offended!!!….atheist kittens destroying a perfectly usable piece of paper!!…do you know how many children would like to have something that nice to write on?!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430072715 Vincent Assington

    Brace for self-righteous shitstorm.

  • brianmacker

    Those aren’t kittens. Those are cats and not so cute.

  • George Busch

    Kittens are cute, and they are all athiests. I have yet to meet one who believes in god.

  • http://www.opinionatedpussycat.com/ Mr. Nikita

    Interesting…

    My nme is Nikita, I’m a cat and I blog.

    My question is…Do Cats who live with athiests believe in Ceiling Cat, or not?


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