Lindsay Lohan Is No ‘Skepticism Hero’ for Punching a Psychic

Recently, Lindsay Lohan was arrested for punching Florida psychic Tiffany Ava Mitchell after she offered Lohan a free reading. I don’t really care about the story itself, but I was surprised to see one particular reaction to it.

Like many Internet-dwellers, I’m usually a fan of Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin. But this is what she wrote about the Lohan incident in a post titled “Arrested for punching psychic, Lindsay Lohan becomes instant Skepticism movement hero“:

Admit it, you Michael-Shermer, Richard-Dawkins reader, you are secretly cheering her on.

Umm… no. No, we’re not. No one is saying, “Yay, Lindsay! Way to win the debate!” (And skeptic groups sure as hell aren’t calling Lohan a “hero.”)

We beat the psychics by giving away their game plan and calling them out on their lies. We beat them by exposing their tricks to the world. We beat them through our words. We don’t beat them by literally beating them.

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.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    I am surprised the psychic’s crystal ball had not given her advance warning of how Lyndsay Lohan was going to hit her.

    Must’ve just been an off day for the psychic powers.   :-)

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

      I saw this joke coming a mile away.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Does that mean you qualify for the JREF $1,000,000?

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

          Heh, no. It was entirely tongue-in-cheek.

    • Coyotenose

       This actually happened in Russia centuries ago. A pagan soothsayer (which were apparently quite common), working the streets and getting people riled up, pissed off some noblemen who had converted to Christianity. Their leader hid an axe under his coat and approached the soothsayer. He asked the man if it was true that he could see the future. When the soothsayer replied that he saw all things that would happen, out came the axe…

      It’s just a funny coincidence that the axe-murderer was acting on behalf of his Christian religion.

  • GOFORIT

    You don’t literally beat them because you are not in control.

    If the atheists had the power, you know GAWD DAMN WELL it would be different!@GodVlogger:disqus

    Hooray for Lindsay! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1594697551 Patrick Tinkham

      Hemant was writing in the subjunctive voice…

      • Guesty Guest

        He is? Where?

    • GwydionFrost

      Um. GOFORIT…? Yeah, your ideas about reactions to this if “atheists had the power”….not hardly. Since my entire philosophy is based upon logic and reason, and demonstrated through scientific method, the concept of beating someone down physically because I don’t agree with them…? That’s not compatible by any sense of the philosophy. “Smiting” something you don’t agree with is someone else’s answer to settling differences, for the record.

    • Guesty Guest

      It is true that nobody really knows how they themselves will behave upon first grasping power over others. Lincoln perspicaciously once quipped that suffering is no good for discerning character; suffering is easy. If you really want to know the value of someone’s character, give them power.

      That said, it’s really as illegitimate for you to claim that atheists would all be abusive monsters, as much as for atheist to claim that they’d all, in power, be the very picture of restraint. Then again, I don’t even see any atheists making such a claim, so it’s not entirely clear what your point even is.

    • George Wiman

      There’s no satisfaction in shutting someone up by making them afraid of you. But it’s a common tactic among religious people who can’t win an argument against reality.

      • JustWondering

        History gives many examples of atheists  shutting people up, and…yes…becuase they were atheists and wanted to eliminate religion.

        And from another angle,the frequent use of the tactic of threatening a lawsuit makes people afraid. 

        No sense hiding from that fact. 

        Unless, of course, the were not “true” atheists.

        • sijd

          “History gives many examples of atheists  shutting people up, and…yes…becuase they were atheists and wanted to eliminate religion”

          Care to name just one ?

        • Artor

          Do you have a citation for that, or are you conflating power-hungry despots like Stalin, who was atheist, but killed people to maintain his power, not because they weren’t atheists?

        • Coyotenose

           Stalin didn’t kill people in the name of atheism, no matter how many times you desperately lie about it. In fact, he allied with churches, because the Soviets understood that Christianity is good for getting people to kill and die in war.

          Oh, and comparing lawsuits to assault? You’re a disgusting person.

        • chanceofrainne

          Allow me to add my voice to the chorus of those asking for a citation on those historical examples.  But have a care when you do so.  I am also a historian, so if you lie, you’ll be caught.

          • Artor

            As a historian, you already know he’s lying like a rug. I expect he gets everything he knows from Fox News, Limbaugh & Beck, if not NOM, AIG, et al.

            • chanceofrainne

              Oh, of course I do.  I just want to see if he ever actually replies with any attempt at anything.  Ten to one he tries for Hitler.

              • Artor

                Well, now that you said it, he won’t, but that’s what I was thinking myself.

                • chanceofrainne

                  ….damn.

              • Duke OfOmnium

                Well, he could try Enver Hoxha, and be right, but most Xians don’t know who Hoxha was.

                • chanceofrainne

                  *I* don’t even know who that is.  BRB checking wikipedia….. :)

                • Coyotenose

                   *reads* Well, Hoxha was a miserable totalitarian monster, but it looks like, as in all such cases, he did awful things to religious groups in order to maintain power and further his “non-revisionist Marxist-Leninist” ideology, not because of atheism.

                  That being the point that JW doesn’t get: Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, American Capitalism: these are ideologies which are functionally identical to religions.

                • Duke OfOmnium

                   I agree with you as to totalitarian ideologies approximating religions.  I would point out, however, that Hoxha’s proximate reason (or at least, stated reason) was to make Albania officially atheist, as an element of its Marxist-Leninism

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

                  Who?

              • Coyotenose

                Closer odds on Stalin. His ilk can’t grasp that Marxism called for toppling Christianity because it was competition, not because atheism was an implicit component of communism*. Or that Stalin didn’t practice Marxism, but pragmatic totalitarianism, such that he even allied with Orthodox churches to feed bodies to the war effort against Hitler.

                *Communism is far, far closer to NT Christianity than to atheism, of course.

                • chanceofrainne

                  I firmly maintain that the biblical Jesus, had he existed, would’ve been the poster boy for communism.  Hello, he ran the money changers out of the temple and encouraged everybody to share and live together.  He even gave out free health care and food.

                • Isilzha

                   He also said you had to hate your family in order to follow him.  Now it actually makes sense to me since how can you report your family to the State if you insist on cling to notions of loving them?

                • chanceofrainne

                  excellent point.

                • Coyotenose

                   Ouch.

        • RobMcCune

          You are aware the most suppression of religious belief, or though in general, throughout history was done by other religious people of a different faith/sect/denomination don’t you?

          Ignore the pious tyrant behind the curtain.

        • chanceofrainne

          Me again. Just wondering why people would be afraid of a lawsuit unless they were doing something against the law.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

            Lawsuits are civil actions. They have nothing to do with lawbreaking.

            • chanceofrainne

              Sure they do: breaking civil laws.

            • amycas

              Sure they do, they’re just not criminal law, and people have a choice* over whether or not to pursue redress.

              *choice is hardly the correct word here, because a lot of the time money and resources are the main stumbling blocks for people who want to sue but don’t

          • rhodent

            That sounds suspiciously like the old “Why wouldn’t you let the police come into your house without a warrant unless you had something to hide.”  In any case, there is a perfectly valid reason to fear a lawsuit even if you haven’t done anything against the law, which is that you still have to hire a lawyer to defend yourself.

            • chanceofrainne

              This is true.  However, if this happens, you can also countersue for your attorney fees and so forth.  If the suit really is frivolous, then the other party has to pay.  Funny how that works out.

              Also, there is a huge difference between being sued for violating someone else’s constitutional rights and having a government agent such as the police violate your own.

    • chanceofrainne

      No. No, it wouldn’t.

    • Quintin

      *looks at Australia* Nope, not seeing it.

    • Rainymailrainyday

      GOFORIT is correct only in the sense that it’s easier to throw your weight around when you are in the majority, and in every majority you will find jerks. Yeah, even atheists are not made out of sugar dumplings and pie. Otherwise I’m not overly impressed with GOFORIT’s psychic abilities concerning “what ifs”. It’s all very speculative.

    • RobMcCune

       

      If the atheists had the power, you know GAWD DAMN WELL it would be different!

      Right, if I had my way everyone would have pointed and laughed at the psychic before any punching began. The psychic wouldn’t have been able to follow Lindsay because she would have been swarmed with people wanting to debate her about esp research, confirmation bias and the like.

      Lindsay would still have punched somebody, because, well, she just can’t let a potentially bad situation go to waste. Anyway the point is the psychic would have  been fine. Is that what you meant?

    • The_L1985

      What? Why? What does anybody gain from beating up an unarmed civilian? NOTHING, that’s what!

      All it does is hurt the victim and make atheists look bad. Most people have a vested interest in not looking bad. Atheists are like everyone else in this regard.

  • Octoberfurst

     I would hardly call someone a “hero” for striking someone over something so minor.  (The psychic offered Lohan a free reading and her response is to punch her? Wouldn’t a simple, “No thank you” have sufficed?)   Atheists overcome people with religious beliefs and superstitions by challenging them with reason and logic, not by violence.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      To overcome the religious, we also occasionally answer the door in our Batman and Robin underwear when it’s Sunday morning and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are out and about.

      • Deven Kale

        You actually wear that much when answering JW’s? I’m impressed by your constraint*!

        *or is it restraint? I forget.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

        Of course the real fun would be if the JWs still wanted to join you and began stripping down…

  • chanceofrainne

    Lindsay Lohan isn’t a hero to anyone except aspiring drunks and drug addicts.  Seriously, wth.

  • tychobrahesbladder

    Tiffany went up to Linds and said she has a ‘premonition’ about her, and was willing to give her a free reading, and Linds kept telling her no, and to fuck off. She left and Linds was all “Gypsy bitch…” and Tiffany’s friend heard her, so she started yelling obscenities to Linds like skank, drug addict, whore, etc, until Linds punched her. It was in a club, and everyone was drinking, like normal people do. Moreover, Tiffany has a huge list of past criminal charges against her like fraud, and has been sued a lot.

    • Coyotenose

       All mitigating circumstances (if corroborated), none excuses. Lohan, with her legal history, is screwed.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/QX5RHMTHB3WPWZYMSEO3NYPDFA Michael

        If what tycho said is accurate, than Lohan was well within her rights, so far as I’m concerned.

        • Coyotenose

           Nobody has the right to attack people over language.

        • Gus Snarp

          Not legally, she wasn’t. There’s nothing anyone can say that gives you the right under law to punch someone.

          But it should if you’re Buzz Aldrin and the someone is a moon hoaxer.

          • amycas

            Actually some courts have found that there are certain words that count as “fightin’ words.” still googling for the cases because I think it was a state court and I’m not sure if it was upheld. Still not an excuse to hit anyone though.

            Edit: Here is the case. Although it’s old, I couldn’t find any that have overturned it though. Also, we don’t know what was say to Lohan, so it may not count anyways–plus, this case involved being arrested for certain speech, not being assaulted.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaplinsky_v._New_Hampshire

            • Gus Snarp

              Yes, as you’ve found, fighting words is usually applied to the kind of speech that can be prohibited, not as an excuse for a violent response.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is the comment I left over at Boing Boing:

    “I’m a skeptic, and no, Ms. Jardin, I’m not “secretly cheering her on.”
    I’m publicly telling you to stop using other people to do the “cheering
    her on” for YOU, and skirting your responsibility for approving of
    violence. If that’s what you like, have the integrity to say so straight
    out, instead of attributing your character flaw to someone else.

    Psychics are frauds, and Lindsay Lohan is simply Hollywood’s latest
    celebrity slow motion train wreck. Gaining glee from her ongoing
    deterioration is schadenfreude, a source of entertainment for only the
    most base of people.”

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Not seeing your comment there, though a Tony Bannister says something vaguely similar.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Interesting and disappointing. My comment was a few comments below Tony’s, and it was visible in the line up for several minutes. The site now says “Comments for this page are closed.” Looks like they decided to chop off a few when they realized they were getting mostly negative reactions. 

        Fucking chicken shits.

  • Godlesspanther

    Read Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins? Yes, I do. 

    Secretly cheer on a pointless act of violence? No, I don’t. 

  • Gus Snarp

    Violence is unacceptable. And I have yet to have any cause to cheer on Lindsay Lohan for anything, least of all violence.

    But I will admit to cheering on Buzz Aldrin when he punched the moon hoaxer. I still don’t think violence is the answer, but when you call a geriatric American hero a liar and a coward, you’re asking for it.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ northierthanthou

    That was a pretty lame post on BB.

  • LF

    Tiffany is a fraud and scam artist who took me for over 12k and tried to use fear to get me to give her more …I believe in the gift…. But she abuses it!


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