Remember When Penn Jillette Was the One Dishing Out Backhanded Compliments to Christians?

Hemant pointed out earlier today why it’s a backhanded compliment to profess delight at finding that an atheist is ethical. It happened to Penn Jillette, on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice, and I certainly agree that it’s annoying — whether the insult was intended or not.

But it goes both ways. Did you ever see this video of Penn, in which he recounts his meeting with a Christian fan who gave him a Bible?

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Penn seems to confirm his own original biases by repeated statements such as these, made in apparent awe and wonder:

2:41: ”He looked me right in the eyes and he was truly complimentary.”
2:51: ”He was really kind and nice and sane.”
3:59: ”This guy was a really good guy. He was polite and honest and sane.”
4:32: ”He was a very, very, very good man.”

Penn also recalls, with some emphasis, how the fan struck him as “sincere” and “not defensive.”

All this mystifies him, it seems. He appears inordinately touched by the fan’s perceived goodness. But why? Had he really never realized that many Christians are sane and polite and kind and sincere?

The video seems like a backhanded compliment to people of faith (or at least, to Christians), even though I fully accept that Penn didn’t mean it that way.

This bias is worth calling out no matter which way it goes, isn’t it?

While I’m dishing out tough love, I should also take issue with Penn’s high praise for believers who proselytize. This is what he says:

I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life. … How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? … If I believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that a truck was going to hit you, and you didn’t believe it and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point at which I tackle you.

Really? The proper proselytizing/oncoming-truck analogy would be, I think:

“If you believe you see a barreling truck that’s about to hit me, but it literally cannot be seen by me or by anyone else who lives within the universally, scientifically accepted definition of reality, exactly why and how often do I have to tolerate your pushing me out of the way?”

Also, at what point may I stop feeling grateful for your beneficence, and start getting really fucking annoyed about being serially tackled in order to get saved from your phantom truck?

Many Christians no doubt believe my soul is in danger because I have not accepted Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior. Are they honor-bound, as Penn implies, to beat a path to my door to try and convert me?

How many of these freelance evangelists should I be prepared to receive on any given day? I suppose I’d politely talk to the first one for a minute or two, and hear the next one out for 30 seconds; but no matter how “sincere” and “sane” and “honest” each of them might be, I believe I’d have my darling German shepherds ready to race out by the time visitor number five was about to lean on my doorbell.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • C Peterson

    Given that most atheists have experience with proselytizing Christians who are not polite, and not sane, I’d say that Jillette’s “biases” in this case are founded upon solid ground. Many, if not most Christians who proselytize are rude and obnoxious. How many Christians have the slightest first hand experience with atheists, however, that they are able to assess their morality?

    I don’t think Jillette’s response to this bit of low key proselytization is equivalent to the comment by Adkins reported on earlier. Certainly, both were meant well, but Jillette’s came from experience with Christians, while Adkins’s came from complete ignorance of atheists.

    • glenn dork

      The most annoying thing about being an atheist is being lumped with yankees.

      There is practically nothing I share with atheists of the USA besides the mere facts that my heart is beating and that I don’t believe in spooks.

      So, please, when you write about atheists, especially “most atheists” just remember, we are not you, we never want to be anything similar to you and we don’t like you very much.

      I’m really sick of the deficiencies of US culture being used to tar and feather others that have never set foot in your country nor ever wish to. Specifically this whole new atheism plus scenario that assumes that atheists are terrible people unless they hop into bed with PZ Myers and his ilk.

      The fact that the US is dysfunctional and broken does not reflect badly on the rest of us. It is your society that needs fixing and, hence, your atheists that are also broken and need fixing. So please leave the rest of us out of your blinkered fantasies.

      Go back and rewrite your piece because it is not a “given” that “most atheists” have the experiences that you pulled out of your ass.

      • C Peterson

        Most (American) atheists have had experience with proselytizing Christians, for the simple reason that most Americans have had that experience. The statement is a fair one.

        You whine a lot, but say very little relevant to the discussion. Your experience outside the U.S. may be interesting, but Jillette is an American. And even more than most, I’m certain he has been harassed by Christians because of his views, meaning that his biases have a foundation.

        • glenn dork

          The statement is inaccurate so how can it be fair? Even after your correction your assertion is absolute nonsense…

          Remember that Brazilians and Jamaicans are Americans too.

          But feel free to slip in an ad hom just to make your case shakier.

          • C Peterson

            Actually, in the absence of specific context or qualification, virtually everybody understands that “American” means “of the United States of America”. Brazilians are not American, Jamaicans are not American. (I don’t know any Jamaicans, but I do know several Brazilians, and not a one would dream of identifying themselves as “American”.)

            You’re just being argumentative for no reason.

            • glenn dork

              o’rly?

              What about sensitivity training for US citizens regarding Latin American immigrants?

              It was on this very same blog that an Hispanic wrote up a load of points to let you idiots know how to make immigrants feel more welcome and one of the points was how annoying immigrants find it (and how excluded it makes them feel) when you refer to your country as “America”.

              Must google to find link so you can eat your words.

              In fact, you’d be best just to correct yourself and move on instead of digging a deeper hole.

              • Carmelita Spats

                Yes and no. I am Hispanic, Mexican, born in Mexico, raised in Mexico, an immigrant living in the U.S., female and atheist. I left my country because of SENSITIVITY issues with regard to women, our bodies and our reproductive autonomy. I wanted a better life for my daughter. I did not want her growing up in the midst of much, manly, macho grunting. The U.S. is not perfect but I’ll be damned thrice, y que se joda la Francia, before I go back to a country where, when I left, women were given 30 year prison sentences for accessing illegal abortions in the state of Jalisco. Malinchista? Bullshit and joder. Misogyny is misogyny. I don’t feel “annoyed” that “estadounidenses” refer to themselves as “Americans”…That is risible…I am more annoyed at the insufferable misogyny in Brazil that would condemn a nine-year-old rape victim to birth the spawn of her attacker:

                http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1911495,00.html

                I’m really sick of the deficiencies of Latin American culture, with regard to women’s bodies, being used to tar and feather ex-pats who only set foot in their country of birth to assist abortion rights.

              • Laurance

                I agree, and I referred to people in the Benighted States as “USAnians”.

                Well! Did I ever get flamed! Never mind that “America” is everything from the north of Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I got torn to bits for saying that those of us in this particular part of the continent are USAnians and that “American” refers to not only us but everyone else in North America, Central America and South America.

                Now I’m going to put on my asbestos underwear and get ready for the flame throwers.

          • Andy

            Would it have made you feel better if he had said “Most United States of America atheists”?

            Americans are from the USA.

            Brazilians are from Brazil.

            Americans and Brazilians are from the Americas (plural).

            At least that’s how I’ve always understood it and how it seems most others do as well…

            • Miss_Beara

              I do not know why this is so difficult to understand. I do not call myself an Illinoian. I don’t call myself a United Statesian. A lot of us here are from America, The United States of, 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Calling Brazilians and Jamaicans American is just ridiculous. People of Brazil are Brazilian, Jamaica are Jamaican. Argentinia are Argentinian, Germany are German, China are Chinese.

              I had no idea people still used the outdated term of “yank” still. It is ridiculous as well.

      • compl3x

        You’re giving him a hard time about generalising, but you make this comment:

        “we are not you, we never want to be anything similar to you and we don’t like you very much.”

        Maybe you don’t like atheists in America, but make sure you only speak for yourself, please.

        • Miss_Beara

          Do as I say, not as I do.

        • MarkTemporis

          “we are not you, we never want to be anything similar to you and we don’t like you very much.”

          That’s like something a character in a bad sci-fi novel might say. Kind of like a riff off of Benedict Cumberbatch’s “I…am…better” speech in the new Star Trek trailer. Is OP a supervillain or something?

      • The Other Weirdo

        Unless Americans writing on an American blog specifically mention other countries, you can simply go ahead and assume that they are writing about American concerns. No need to get yourself out of joint when you are reading an American blog. If you dislike Americans so, why are you even reading an American blog written by an American?

        • glenn dork

          The problem, of course, is that yankees have the famously annoying habit of thinking that the USA = The World and wherever it doesn’t, The World aspires to be like them.

          We don’t.

          This is not an “American Blog” mostly because it’s not Canadian, Mexican, Argentinian or any of the other countries in the Americas.

          So, it’s NOT an American blog. And Hemant probably wouldn’t consider it a US blog either.

          I don’t dislike Americans either… Some of my best friends are Brazilians and Jamaicans… It’s people from the USA who are annoying and out of touch with reality and those that I just can’t stand.

          • The Other Weirdo

            Also, nobody cares about the opinion of pedants who bitch and whine about an entire culture yet don’t identify their own. That’s like people who criticized George Bush from countries where it was against the law to criticize their own king.

            • glenn dork

              because no point can stand or fall without knowing the identity, nationality, shoe-size or sexual orientation of the person making it?

              You are no smarter than my dog… but she’s pretty damn smart so don’t feel too bad for yourself.

              • The Other Weirdo

                Now who’s generalizing? Most points can stand without knowing those things, none of which I asked for and you just outright fucking lied about. But in the case of cultural criticism, yes, I do want to know its source.

              • baal

                Glenn, you might want to stop tacking on the gratuitous insults. Trying to insult people into submission rarely works.

          • TheG

            Out of curiosity, what do you propose someone from the United States call themselves? United Statesian?
            “American” is the commonly accepted nomenclature. Germans come from Germany, Canadians come from Canada, etc. People from The Netherlands are usually called “Dutch”, so we kind of have to accept their desired self-identification.

            • The Other Weirdo

              Well, apparently he thinks they’re all called yankees.

            • glenn dork

              Actually, people from the Netherlands are called Nederlanders… The “dutch” misnomer is thought to have come from the german word “Deutsch” which means “German”.

              • The Other Weirdo

                Actually, “Dutch” is what we call them in English. “Nederlander” is what they are called in their own language. This is an English-language site.

                As far as I understand it.

                • glenn dork

                  Point is, the English got the translation wrong… do I really need to spell it out to you the yanks are wrong to call themselves “American” and it is found offense by other Americans too boot.

                  You really aren’t the brightest bulb…

                • TheG

                  Says the one who misses both the forest and the trees without answering the question when you say “The point is…” and forgetting to address the point.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Nobody gives a shit about continents for self-naming. If all those people wanted to be called Americans, they should have thought of that when they named their fucking countries. Oh, and go and tell a Canadian that he might be an American, and see how far you get.

                  Oh, and nobody cares about what liars say. You lied about what I asked for; who knows what else you’re lying about.

                  Edit: I see where the confusion lies. Chine, India, parts of Western Europe and most English-speaking countries teach the 7-continent geography(NA and SA as different continents) while Spanish-speaking countries teach the 6-continent geography(one continent called America). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continent#Number_of_continents The SAs can call themselves American to refer to residents of the American continent, but when residents of the USA use the word American, they refer to their own country only.

                  However, how wide-spread is the term “American” among SAs? When asked who they are, are they more likely to say they’re from Brazilian(or Chilean or Argentinian or Paragu??? or etc) or are they more likely to say American?

                • C Peterson

                  A huge number of words have etymological errors. It doesn’t make the words themselves incorrect. People from the Netherlands are called “Dutch” in English. That is the correct usage, and even people from the Netherlands, native speakers of the Dutch language, identify themselves as Dutch when addressing English speakers.

                • Leigha7

                  Of course, “the English” in this scenario would be from England, not the US.

                  But arguably, the translations of any country into any other language are wrong. Why do we say Spain instead of España, or Japan instead of Nippon? Why translate them at all?

                  And again, there is NO OTHER WORD for someone from the US, unless we go around saying “people from the US” while everyone else gets to say Canadian, German, French, Swedish, Chinese, etc. American is all we’ve got, regardless of your feelings about the word. You clearly know English well enough to know how completely stupid “United States-ian” would sound.

              • Rogier van Bakel

                I’m Dutch, and there’s roughly 16 million of us (just about every Dutch person) who don’t think the word is a “misnomer.” I don’t think I’d get much understanding if I went around the world protesting huffily that I’m a “Nederlander” instead of a Dutchman. People would see it as pretentious and odd. As are you.

          • Alua Oresson

            Personally I dislike when someone uses the term Yankee to describe people from the United States. It is basically the same as calling a British citizen a limey. However, I don’t get up in arms and start a flame war over it. Just as most people understand that an American usually means a citizen of the United States. Throwing insults and attacks just means you are looking for some sort of reaction, which you have apparently gotten. If you really are that up in arms about the terminology, I feel sad for you.

            • Heidi McClure

              You should see how well that goes over up here in Red Sox nation.

              • allein

                I was wondering what baseball had to do with anything…
                /Yankee fan

            • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

              personally, as a “flatlander” i’ve never understood “USAian = ‘yankee.’” dood, some of us are, you know, african, and/or native american, and/or spanish or “hispanic” and other stuff.

              race is such a stupid category. imho the government should totally drop its interest in it. when it comes to science, “race” doesn’t actually exist. it’s on the order of studying head shape to determine IQ, or saying “women aren’t good at math.” iow, bunk.

              there are black people in Iceland. there are white people in swaziland. there are asians in peru. there are people like me, who get to check, and i mean it, “all the boxes.” can we just get past this crap that your “race” has any meaning, regarding anything important?

              can you work? can you pay your own bills? can you get an education? can you speak the language of the people/majority where you live? the minority? are you law abiding? do you pay your taxes in full? are you a rabblerouser, or do you help keep your community balanced, sane and just?

              you get the picture.

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

                Race is like… like cat breeds. Whether you have a Siamese, a Persian, an American Shorthair, it’s still a cat, and no better or worse than a cat of another breed.

                Likewise with human breeds… or races. Black, white, Asian, whatever, at the end of the day, you still got a human.

                It’s irrelevant, really. And I think it’s stupid to discriminate based on a superficial difference.

          • jdm8

            Half point. Name another country that uses the word “America” in it, and maybe you’d understand that “America” might be short for USA. You’re complaining how we’re all a bunch of unreasonable jerks, but I think you too could stand to see things from more than one viewpoint on occasion.

            • dats3

              This is the most absurd argument I’ve seen here in a long time. We’ve been calling ourselves American since before the American Revolution. So what? We call ourselves American because we live in the United States of America. I have to say, if that bothers folks in other countries, so what? We can call ourselves what ever the heck we want as can Mexicans, Chileans, Canadians. We don’t have exclusive rights to the name America and neither does anyone else. Call yourself what ever you want and we’ll call ourselves American.

              Now, in reference to American culture being broken. No one would disagree that we “Americans” do have some pretty tough challenges and we have some pretty wacky politics going on and have for sometime. However, we are a democracy (republic) and that’s pretty messy sometimes. It’s easy to criticize from afar, but if you’re not interested in offering well thought out proposals then it’s difficult to hear or understand or even care what you have to say.

              Since you do not live in the USA then you do, I’ll admit, have a perspective that I certainly do not have with regards to American culture. However, to simply insult everyone’s intelligence is uncalled for and unproductive. Criticizing another’s culture without having lived in the culture and understanding how the people live, what they believe, and how that impacts the world in which they live is pointless. And yes, some of our politicians and citizenry do this very same thing frequently. It’s erroneous when we do it and erroneous when other’s do it.

          • David S.

            If your biggest complaint about Americans is what they call themselves, I think you need to find real problems.

            If you don’t like your culture enough to think that everyone should want to join it, you need to change it. The EU generally expects that everyone should love their cultural ideas.

            People care about their backyard. Europeans make stories with European characters and maybe a token stereotyped American or Arab or Asian. The Japanese write stories where Japan saves the world. When Americans do look outside their backyard, their views of the outside world are complex.

            It would be overstating the case to say the rest of the world aspires to be like the US, but there’s certainly large parts of the world that have large subcultures that do. Japan loves its Engrish, and going to Iran and telling people you’re from the US can get a lot of positive attention. (And blow up in your face, but there’s a reason why Iranian authorities and the Taliban get so upset about American cultural incursions, because they do have inroads.) How many Mexicans want to come to the US? We’re selling, and a lot of the world is buying, and a lot of the world is outraged about cultural purity, a concept that pizza and taco-eating Americans arguing about Japanese ninjas versus Caribbean pirates don’t really understand.

            • glenn dork

              It would be overstating the case to say the rest of the world aspires to be like the US,

              are you joking or just deluded?

              as it happens, a fair amount of poor, uneducated people look up to the USA because it is better than the lot that has been dealt to them… but it’s not a great compliment to say that sub-saharan africa wants to emigrate stateside.

              europeans and moneyed asians, africans and south americans are not all that interested in living in the most backward and corrupt (not to mention the most revolting ooze of religious slime) of developed nations.

              what is clear though is that, as soon as you scrape the surface, the usa is a pretty low mark to set as a life-aspiration… people can do much better for themselves – and they do…

              the funniest part is when you see yanks getting all hot and bothered when people point out that their country is a piece of shit… inwardly, they know it – and say it… bt as soon as it’s made clear from an outside source you all get your backs up…

              oh, how i love to see that so.

              • David S.

                So you’re an asshole, who gets off on pissing off other people. What a great representative of your nation you are.

              • dats3

                Well, let us come to some sort of agreement then. You obviously do not care for us “Yanks”. So then, might I suggest you go your way and we shall go our way. Speaking for me alone, I have no quarrel with you but regardless of your opinion of our country, culture and its people I do love America, warts in all. I love our diversity. I love that we fight over the dumbest shit. I love that we can say whatever the hell we want. I love how my right wing nut job neighbor still offers me a beer after I’ve mowed my lawn. We don’t agree politically but we’re still friends. I love that about my country. I am sorry you do not but that is your choice and your preference.
                So, since you have such a low opinion of us would it be safe to assume that you will no longer communicate with that which you loath? Or, are you that ashamed of your own country, culture and people that you will continue to troll we “Americans? People who live in glass houses my friend shouldn’t throw stones.
                That aside, if you wish to have cogent and on topic discussions then by all means contribute. If not than please go away. I’m sure there is something in your country, province or neighborhood that needs your urgent attention.
                All the best to you.

          • Leigha7

            Some people outside the US do wish things were more like it is here. Some people inside the US wish things were more like they are elsewhere. It’s stupid to imply that every single person in the world (outside the US) hates the US and would never, ever want to be anything like them. Knowing the fascination many Americans* have for England, France, Australia, and/or Japan (most commonly, but certainly not excluding other countries), I’d find it extremely surprising if no one in other parts of the world felt similarly about the US.

            It’s also pretty stupid to imply that every single one of the nearly 315 million people in the US are the same, and that they’re all terrible.

            *You can argue that it’s incorrect to equate “America” and the “US,” and that’s fine, but there is literally no other term for “people who live in the US” besides “Americans.” It’s not our fault our country doesn’t have a proper name.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        If you aren’t capable of grasping that the vast majority of contributors and commenters here are in, from, or have had considerable experience living in North America, or the stupidity of demanding that all posts have qualifiers about exceptions, that’s not anyone else’s mental deficiency.

        just remember, we are not you, we never want to be anything similar to you and we don’t like you very much.

        Raging, egotistical hypocrisy is so attractive.

        It’s weird how the only people who ever bring up A+ outside its adherents’ pages are those who are ignorant of it yet talking anyway, isn’t it?

        • glenn dork

          vast majority? citation needed!

          are you privy to the IP logs of this site?

          what is most telling is how that, if anyone dares to ever say anything slightly anti-usa the entire cesspool of yanks stands up and screams incoherent shit.

          • Leigha7

            “the entire cesspool of yanks stands up and screams incoherent shit”

            That’s strange. There are almost 315 million people in the US. Where did all their comments go? There are clearly far, far fewer than 315 million comments on here.

      • onamission5

        What on earth did C Peterson write that could possibly be construed as US-centric?

        There’s assholes everywhere. No place on earth is immune from people who treat other people like shit, so I imagine there are assholes in whatever country you’re from, too. ;)

        • Observer

          No, you don’t imagine. You know it through simple observation.

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

          “I knew it! I’m surrounded by Assholes!”

          /Spaceballs

      • SeekerLancer

        So you’re going to generalize all atheists from the United States and then at the same time generalize all atheists from other countries as hating people from the United States to make a counter argument against a perceived generalization.

        Your post is seething with hypocrisy and your anti-USA nationalism is every bit as bad and wrong as arrogant American nationalism. Perhaps you have more in common with these “broken” people from the US than you think?

      • Gus Snarp

        Where are you from so I can use the appropriate slur against you in response to you calling us “yankees”?

        You’re sick of atheists being generalized as like Americans, but quite willing to generalize American atheists yourself?

      • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

        So you don’t like being lumped in with a group, then proceed to lump an entire country into a single category. Super.

        • dats3

          The guy is a troll with some sort of axe to grind. Just kill him with kindness and reason and he’ll go away. He obviously likes being here or else he would do something more productive with his time.

      • Leigha7

        I’m completely baffled as to how the phrase “most atheists have experience with proselytizing Christians who are not polite” constitutes “US culture being used to tar and feather others that have never set foot in your country nor ever wish to.”

        I don’t know about anyone else, but if I was going to metaphorically “tar and feather” people, I would probably do it by saying something that was actually insulting (and honestly, the only people that could ever be construed as insulting would be Christians). I certainly wouldn’t do it by making a simple observation based on my own experience.

  • asfdasdf

    Non-religious people are treated like crap by Christians all the time. Surprise when we are treated well is warranted.

  • Rob Honeycutt

    This is a really annoyingly shallow analysis by Jillette. The truck analogy is almost a non-sequitur. Think of it this way: You have people of three different religions. All three people are proselytizing their beliefs. The Christian truly believes you’re going to hell after you die if you don’t believe like he does. The Buddhist truly believes you’re going to be reincarnated as a cockroach unless you accept the teachings of the Buddha, etc. They each have their “beliefs” about the afterlife.

    This is TOTALLY different than being hit by a truck. Regardless of anyone’s beliefs about speed limits or pedestrian right-of-way… They will ALL agree if one of them is about to be hit by a truck. That’s just stark here-and-now reality.

    • Joe_Buddha

      As a Buddhist, I don’t believe you’re going to be reincarnated as a cockroach if you don’t accept Buddhism. If you’re too much of a dick, maybe, but accepting Buddhism isn’t required. If, indeed, there is such a thing as reincarnation. Which I doubt.

  • compl3x

    The fan gave Penn a Bible, correct? Perhaps Penn has had similar experiences where those proselytising to him weren’t so polite, kind, sincere, nice etc. and he was contrasting those instances with this one.

    Just a thought.

    • JKPS

      Just a thought – Trace adkins may have had experiences where atheists weren’t so polite, kind, sincere, ethical, etc.

      It still goes both ways. And I didn’t hear anything in Penn’s video suggesting that he was doing any contrasting.

      • compl3x

        I didn’t rule that out.

        However, It seems far more likely Adkins has been taught that atheists generally aren’t very decent. It would be in line with the conservative Christian rhetoric that I am familiar with.

  • Gideon

    Oh, wow. I clicked on the video just to see the date, which was 2009. Back when I first saw that, I was doubtful but still fearfully clinging to many of my childhood beliefs. Some others on Facebook shared it as an example of the greater effectiveness of evangelism when Christians don’t act like jerks.

    …but one of my (private) reactions at the time was to wonder how I personally could try to prove beyond doubt that my faith qualified as sane. I realized that saying “I’m sane!” was a useless proof of sanity, and it wasn’t that much better to say “If you gave my faith a chance then you’d feel how sane it is!” That wasn’t a turning point for me, but it was one more pebble of doubt in my shoe.

  • Daniel Miles

    I want you to take a hard look at the last sentence of your post because it’s a terrible thing to say and it really undermines a great idea. “Sicking” your dogs on someone is a fairly extreme act of violence and I find it disgusting.

    I’d love to see you take it out of the post and issue a quick apology for this.

    • TheG

      You’ve met his dogs? You know that they are vicious and would hurt someone rather than just scare them because of incorrect preconceived biases?

      • The Other Weirdo

        It doesn’t matter. German shepherds are weapons, as many dogs are if they are so trained. To save time, I usually make it a policy to assume that any dog I don’t personally know larger than “¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!” is capable of doing me injury, and I would treat any threat to use them seriously.

        • Leigha7

          “German shepherds are weapons, as many dogs are if they are so trained”

          This seems to imply that German shepherds are weapons regardless of training, but other dogs are only weapons if they are trained. That’s strange.

          I know lots of dogs whose response to strangers coming is to run over to them and bark and jump, who would never in a million years attack them (unless, perhaps, that person tried to attack their owner). I assumed that’s what was meant by that part.

          • The Other Weirdo

            Holy thread resurrection, Batman! Who said Jesus was the only one who could do it?

            In answer to your point, I don’t care. German shepherds are large, powerful dogs, capable of causing serious injury and even death. I know, I used to have several, not that any of mine ever killed or injured anyone. Unless I know the dog and the owner, if I see one running toward me unfettered and with no owner in sight, I assume an attack and the consequences will be on the owner’s head. Sorry. It’s not my job to think about which dogs are safe and which ones aren’t.

      • Daniel Miles

        The threat of violence isn’t a whole lot better.

    • glenn dork

      wherever in this thread did someone mention letting their dogs attack someone else?

      • The Other Weirdo

        I believe I’d have my darling German shepherds ready to race out by the
        time visitor number five was about to lean on my doorbell.

        Here you go. He even told you where to look.

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

          Ah, but not one word about ATTACKING.

          • The Other Weirdo

            Have you ever been on the receiving end of a number of German shepherds being made ready to race out in your direction?

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

              Wow, you like taking things way out of context, don’t you?

          • Charles Honeycutt

            You have to be aware that it is implied. There is no other reason for the comment about them.

  • The Other Weirdo

    The elephant in the room is that while a certain portion of Christians is certainly sane(much like a certain portion of the entirety of the human race), those Christians who evangelize, especially door to door, are mentally disturbed in odd and disturbing ways, made all the more disturbing by the fact that you can’t tell just by looking when they are disturbed, or merely disturbing others.

  • A3Kr0n

    I grew up and live in a city overstuffed with Christians, yet in my 48 years of living here nobody has ever proselytized to me. In this city where I know of no other “atheists” if I had to choose between someone who claims to be Christian, and someone who says they simply don’t go to church, I’ll jump in the Christian’s car in a heartbeat. I’m also polite to my fellow citizens. That’s why I come here, so I can rant and rave. I’m still feeling a little bit bad for calling our wonderful new cross a “Jesus penis” in our local paper this morning. When I saw a new article about an editor’s priest being re-assigned for some reason I didn’t bother to comment at all. He’s a nice guy, and I wish he was an atheist.

  • DavidMHart

    I can see where Jillette is coming from, on the ‘Christians who don’t proselytise’ thing – but it has an important corrollary.

    Yes, I agree that if you genuinely believe that someone is going to be tortured for all eternity if they don’t come to believe what you believe, then it is unethical to say “Meh. Let them burn” without trying to convert them.

    But if after giving it a good go, presenting the strongest case you can, you find that most people find your arguments unconvincing, at some point it becomes unethical to fail to stop and examine your beliefs and see if they maybe aren’t as strongly supported as you thought, and, if the evidence turns out to be sufficiently lacking, to stop believing them.

  • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

    Atheists could be more effective if they learned to listen and empathize. You can’t expect people to take you seriously otherwise. Once in a while, take a break from being so hypercritical and do what Penn did: try to understand where the other person is coming from.

    • A3Kr0n

      Read my first post, “asshat” :-) ◄ smilie face

    • Miss_Beara

      So can Christians. I was proselytized to by a friend I considered dear and I thought she didn’t care that I was an atheist. Apparently she did and she talked to me about god for an hour, my former christianity wasn’t real christianity and that my life is useless without god. While we departed, the more I thought about it, the more it hurt me. I emailed her saying how I felt, she said that wasn’t her intention and she could no longer be my friend. I didn’t care that she was a christian but she couldn’t have a friend who was an atheist. We can listen and empathize all we can but that only goes so far. Many people lose family and friends because they are atheists. Christians should try and understand where atheists are coming from.

  • rg57

    I’m with Penn (or at least the portion of him that you quoted) on this.

    Ironically, the consequence of morally consistent Christianity is also more annoying and insane Christianity. So I’m glad most Christians are tremendously hypocritical and lazy.

  • JKPS

    Yeah, I totally agree. Like GodVlogger says, it’s like “saying ‘Wow, that guy is black but he is really smart.’ Or ‘Even though she’s a woman, she’s very good at science and math.’ Or ‘Even though that person is a Catholic, he is actually not in favor of molesting little boys.’”

    I think the people insisting that this is somehow fundamentally different and therefore okay are just fooling themselves because they have the same biases.

    • Puzzled

      Being a woman is not correlated with being bad at math and science, except in sexist cultures (due to education.) Being black is not correlated with being stupid. Being an atheist is not correlated with being unethical. Being a Christian is correlated with being an asshole. Parallelism matters, but content matters also.

  • DougI

    Penn has a soft spot for bigots and bullies, perhaps that’s why he happily helps Trump make a profit.

  • Gus Snarp

    OK, I can’t sit through more than a minute of Penn’s rambling in that video. Unusual, he’s at least usually interesting to listen to. What I want to get to, but for the life of me it’s too boring to wait, is whether he’s surprised that a Christian is a nice sane person, or surprised that a guy who waited around to give a Bible to a known atheist celebrity and proselytize to him is a nice sane person. Those are not the same thing.

    I’m convinced that the vast majority of Christians are nice, sane people who are just not really thinking clearly about one thing because they’re blinded by society and tradition, mainly.

    But I think that proselytizing in the first place is not nice. Approaching a known and committed atheist because you feel you need to give them a Bible is not nice, and even downright insulting.

    So it’s quite different to be surprised that a proselytizing fan is nice and sane than to be surprised that a Christian in general is nice and sane.

    On the other hand, Penn is an asshole and a provocateur, which also explains his point on proselytizing, so maybe he’s just being an ass. I don’t know.

    • Leigha7

      I didn’t watch the video, but I’ve seen him live, and he said something about the story there. It seemed like it was more about him being an outspoken atheist, and that the guy seemed to genuinely care about his eternal fate, rather than just a reactionary “you’re an atheist?! oh my goodness, have a bible!” kind of tone. In the context he said he then, he was using it as an example of being continually surprised when people seem care about HIM, as opposed to just caring that he’s a famous entertainer.

      Whether he was legitimately touched by the occurrence, as he states, I have no idea. He knows perfectly well how to manipulate an audience’s opinion. It’s kind of his thing.


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