After Making Offensive Statements About Atheists, New York State Senator Issues the Worst Apology You’ll Ever See

For weeks now, New York State Senator Andrew Lanza has been complaining about the American Atheists ad in Times Square.

He said the digital billboard, images of which are below, was “religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust.”

Recently, he altered his original press release to remove some of the most offensive statement along with his call for the IRS to revoke American Atheists’ non-profit status.

Meanwhile, the bit about the Holocaust remained in place.

If you go to Lanza’s site now, there’s a completely new press release where the old one used to be.

So let’s go through some of these new revisions, shall we…?

State Senator Andrew Lanza

Here’s what the original press release said:

Senator Lanza said, “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this intolerant and hateful group deliberately ridicules the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.”

The new press release no longer accuses AA of being intolerant or hateful:

Senator Lanza said, “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, the American Atheists organization has ridiculed the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.”

He’s still wrong. The billboard doesn’t ridicule any people or their beliefs. It only suggests an acceptable alternative to tradition.

What about the bit about the Holocaust? That’s still in there for some reason. But there are other changes. Here’s the old version:

Not only do the people behind this group not believe in God but they obviously don’t believe in decency, civility and kindness to fellow human kind either. This is part of a continued “War on Christmas” and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God. Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.

The new version removes the part implying that “not believing in God” is some sort of bad thing, but still maintains that AA lacks “decency, civility and kindness.” Lanza, however, adds that he would not stand for this sort of “intolerance” against atheists, either:

“It is our solemn responsibility as Americans to defend each other’s right to believe in God or not, however, I denounce this organization’s lack of decency, civility and kindness to people of faith as expressed on these billboard messages. It seems to me that this is part of a continued “War on Christmas” and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God. Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others. The same would be true of expressions of hatred levied upon others because they do not believe.

The last line still makes no sense since the original billboard expressed no hate against people of faith whatsoever.

The original press release, as I mentioned earlier, attacked atheists as being “hateful and malicious”:

While it is not surprising to me that people who do not believe in God are hateful and malicious, I would have hoped that the people who own this billboard, those who live in Manhattan and around Times Square and the community’s political leaders would have decried this hate speech as something not to be tolerated or allowed.”

The new version removes that part completely. The revised version had said “it’s not surprising to me that people who are hateful and malicious of god would endorse such an advertisement,” but that’s been removed as well.

Finally, we get to the *really* crazy bit.

Lanza, after hearing from atheists across the country, offers a pseudo-apology. You can describe it as whatever the opposite of “heartfelt” is:

I have, for the second time, amended the content of this statement. I’ve done so based upon conversations which I have had with callers describing themselves as atheists. They have expressed concern, based upon misinterpretation, that my original statement can be taken as offensive to atheists based upon their beliefs. This is not only the furthest thing from the truth, it is completely contrary to what I have intended to accomplish with my stand. My opposition to the sign has nothing to do with the beliefs of atheists, it has to do with the belief of many that it is hurtful and hateful toward people of faith at precisely the time they are celebrating what they believe. While our constitution protects such unkind statements, so does it protect my right to denounce them. I extend my apologies to those atheists who might have been offended, even if that is by virtue of misunderstanding. I simply believe that it is wrong to do nothing in the face of hatred. I defend the right not to believe as strongly as the right to have faith. I firmly believe, however, that neither should be used to demean the other. What we need is good will toward each other, and I hope this debate and my position has helped people focus upon that.”

Oh boy.

Let’s quickly recall what Lanza has said about atheists in the past month:

  • He said that the staff and supported of American Atheists “don’t believe in decency, civility and kindness” to fellow human beings. That’s a lie.
  • He compared the sign’s “persecution” of religion to the sort of thing that led to the Holocaust, a comment he still stands by. I’ll say it again: the atheist message is not critical of Christians who celebrate Christmas; it just acknowledges that you don’t need Jesus to celebrate the holiday season. How that’s the sort of thing that could lead anyone to kill millions of Jews, I have no clue.
  • He said that “people who do not believe in God are hateful and malicious.” Not true. In fact, that’s the type of slander that I suspect Lanza would denounce if it were made about Christians. There’s no misunderstanding. That’s precisely what he wrote down.
  • He went on to say that only those who are “hateful and malicious of god would endorse such an advertisement.” Well, I’m not hateful or malicious of God — I just don’t believe God exists — and I really like the ad. So there.
  • He said the billboard in Times Square qualified as “hate speech.” It’s not, which just goes to show that Lanza has no idea what hate speech is.

Yet, despite all those things he published on his website — despite the changes he already had to make to his original press release — he says we misunderstood him!

Senator Lanza, we abso-fucking-lutely didn’t misunderstand you. We heard you loud and clear. Your antipathy toward atheists is still palpable and the fact that you’re now trying to cover up what you wrote earlier just proves that you know you did something wrong. You can’t apologize to us while still blaming us for taking you at your word. For Chrissakes, we have the $&*#ing screenshots to prove it.

I refuse to accept any apology from Lanza until he can properly explain what he did wrong. Right now, it’s apparent that he doesn’t have a clue.

This would be bad enough if a pastor did it. But this is an elected official, speaking in his capacity as a government representative, who represents atheists in his district.

You can still let him know you won’t stand for this. Let him know you won’t be voting for him next year. His email address is lanza@senate.state.ny.us. (As always, keep all emails civil and respectful, even if Lanza can’t be trusted to do the same.)

Oh. And just for the record, here’s the original press release and here’s the current version.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Christianity is based on the idea that they are so wonderful that everyone else feels a need to persecute the Christians.

    Reasonable Doubts did a three part podcast series exposing this myth.

    Episode 113: The Myth of Martyrdom (Part 1) with guest Candida Moss

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2013/04/19/episode-113-the-myth-of-martyrdom-part-1-with-guest-candida-moss/

    .

  • jean

    X-ing out the word “Christ” is bound to make people react strongly.

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    Except “Xmas” doesn’t do that. It’s Greek. The “X” stands for the Greek letter “Chi” which is the first letter of “Χριστός”, which translates to “Christ”.

  • AdzyBoy

    I think Jean was referring to the American Atheists billboard mentioned in this post.

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    Ah, my mistake.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Well, at least I learned where “Xmas”came from. I always wondered what that was about. Thanks!

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    You’re very welcome. Now every time you hear some culture warrior shrieking about removing Christ from Christmas like an especially throaty CareBear going into a blender, you know they’re more full of crap than normal.

  • truth_machine

    “bound to make people react strongly”

    Nice rationalization of extraordinarily vile behavior by Mr. Lanza.

  • UWIR

    Right, because as long as the other side’s behavior is worse than yours, there’s no need to justify your behavior. Rudeness is a completely relative issue, and as long as you’re less of an asshole than the other side, you aren’t doing anything wrong. And if anyone dares point out how rude you’re being, just accuse them of “rationalizing” the reaction.

  • Cuttlefish

    Wait… he amends his statement twice, and still misses an egregious offense–he writes “lead” instead of “led”, to the Holocaust.

    Unforgivable.

  • jen

    I guess he read my letter. 😉

  • http://www.DanielleMuscato.com Danielle Muscato

    My favorite part is from his Wikipedia entry:

    “He also served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor of street crimes, felony cases, New York State Welfare Fraud and procedural and constitutional issues.”

    Yep. This guy is a lawyer (licensed in NY and NJ) and a former ADA who prosecuted cases involving, among other things, constitutional issues.

    Hemant, EXCELLENT update. You nailed it.

  • Anathema

    If signs that say “Happy Holidays,” “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody,” and “Celebrate the the true meaning of Xmas” are expressions of hatred, ridicule, and persecution then signs that say things like “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Keep the Christ in Christmas” must be expressions of hatred, persecution, and ridicule towards non-Christians. So why don’t we hear Lanza complaining about the Christians who put up billboards saying “Jesus in the reason for season” for ridiculing non-Christians? Why doesn’t Lanza condemn Christians who put “Keep the Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers on their car for being hateful?

    If Lanza thinks that someone expressing their opinion on the reasons to celebrate a particular holiday counts as hate speech against people with different beliefs, then he should criticize Christians for doing the exact same thing. The fact that he doesn’t suggest that he understands that signs like these don’t really count as examples of hatred and persecution or that he’s fine with the hatred and persecution of nonbelievers by Christians.

  • UWIR

    “”Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody,” is quite different from “Keep the Christ in Christmas”.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    No, it isn’t.

  • Bad_homonym

    In exactly what way? 2 assertions that have approximately equal merit in the minds if those who make them, that happen to stand at opposite sides of an issue? I don’t understand.

  • UWIR

    One promotes a point of view, the other ridicules it.

  • Bad_homonym

    Not at all. Why is pointing out that millions celebrate without christ, and therefore it’s not necessary, any more ridiculous than telling me I ought to believe that which has no real bearing on the celebrations? Point out exactly where the ridicule is! Both are positive assertions. It sounds like the usual persecution complex xtians suffer from when others simply want equality while said xtians want privilege!

  • UWIR

    So, if there were a billboard that said “Who needs atheists? No one!” you wouldn’t be insulted? I mean, it is literally true. It is possible to live without atheists. The denotation of this is quite clearly not merely “pointing out that millions celebrate without christ, and therefore it’s not necessary”. That’s disingenuous.

    How is the billboard asking for equality? If it said “We don’t need Christ”, that would be perfectly fine. That would be rejecting Christian privilege. But to attack Christian beliefs crosses the line into malice.

  • Bad_homonym

    I don’t see this malice you imagine. Your first statement is true, and I wouldn’t be the least offended to see it advertised. The board in question doesn’t say we don’t need Christians. It says we don’t need christ in order to celebrate Christmas. It’s a significant difference. As for equality it’s simple. When ads run promoting Christian bs, there isn’t much outcry from the atheist community, we run our ads and the religious get all bent out of shape.

  • UWIR

    So, since some Christians are assholes, when atheists are assholes, they are promoting equality?

    “It says we don’t need christ in order to celebrate Christmas.”

    No, it says no one needs Christ during Christmas, which is a bit difference.

  • Bad_homonym

    Let’s define asshole first then! I don’t see anyone but you getting that from the board. No one needs christ during Christmas is an innocuous fact. Any thin skinned individual is welcome to take offence, and they will, but it doesnt change the fact that it’s true and mild compared to many Xtian messages. Still not sure why this is so hard to understand.

  • UWIR

    You implied that since some Christians are putting up billboards promoting “Christian bs”, and that equality leads to atheists putting up their own billboards, and you did so in response to the claim that the billboard is rude. I don’t think that it takes much inferential leap to paraphrase you as I did.

  • Bad_homonym

    It’s a big leap. They put up boards that make terrible statements and implications. A reasoned response is equality. By your logic, any response to an assholian statement must also be assholian? What is stated on that board is mild and demonstrably true. It really is that simple. Many xtians are offended because I simply exist and I can’t help that. But I can support the victim who publicly points out how ridiculous the actions of the bully are. Even when that bully feels wronged because his true colors are now in the public domain. It doesn’t make the victim wrong or an asshole in my books. Maybe that’s why we don’t agree here!

  • UWIR

    It’s your position that it’s “mild”. It’s my position is that it’s not. Responding to the assertion that it’s rude with the claim that Christian billboards are rude is what led me to the my reading that rudeness is justified by previous rudeness, although I can see how you meant otherwise.

  • Bad_homonym

    I thought we might end here. Agree to disagree. It was good though. I need to work on clarity for sure, but I enjoy some spirited sparring like this. Till next time then? 😉

    Or maybe next time we find ourselves on some common ground even. Sky’s the limit I guess

    Cheers!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    UWIR,

    So, if there were a billboard that said “Who needs atheists Christians? No one!” you wouldn’t be insulted?

    That is not really the same as Who needs Christ during Christmas.

    If you were to change it to Who needs atheism, you would have a better case – still not the same, but closer.

    It wouldn’t matter to me, since I don’t care about being an atheist.

    I do not see any reason to limit my lack of superstition to just religion.

    Who needs alternative in medicine?

    Who needs denialism in science?

    Who needs super in natural?

    I attacked a lot of beliefs/superstitions.

    So what?

    😉

  • UWIR

    “So, if there were a billboard that said “Who needs atheistsChristians? No one!” you wouldn’t be insulted?”

    I don’t understand what the point of that question is.

    “That is not really the same as Who needs Christ during Christmas.”

    I’m not saying it is. I’m saying that in both cases, it’s disingenuous to argue based merely on the denotation of the question.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    UWIR,

    I don’t understand what the point of that question is.

    You wrote earlier –

    So, if there were a billboard that said “Who needs atheists? No one!” you wouldn’t be insulted?

    You suggest that this is comparable to –

    Who needs Christ during Christmas.

    Now you appear to be claiming that you were just trying to be offensive.

    I’m not saying it is. I’m saying that in both cases, it’s disingenuous to argue based merely on the denotation of the question.

    We are supposed to apply our biases to the statements?

    Something like – Ignore the words and respond viscerally as true savages should!

    Please try to make sense out of your statement, so that we can get a good laugh.

    .

  • UWIR

    I’m still not seeing what your point was.

    I also don’t see where you’re getting “you were just trying to be offensive.”

    Sentences have meaning other than their literal meaning, which is the whole point of my “Who needs atheists” hypothetical. If you find anything offensive about that, then you’re admitting that you find offense in something other than literal meaning.

  • truth_machine

    Stop lying and trolling, UWIR. “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” and “No one needs to keep the Christ in Christmas” are simply opposite views.

  • UWIR

    So, anyone who disagrees with you is a liar and a troll.

    You’re an asshole.

  • Cake

    Stop projecting.

  • UWIR

    I’m not the one who is refusing to listen to any criticism. This groupthink is incredibly disturbing. If people disagree with my opinion, that’s one thing, but to throw insults at people simply because they have concerns about your behavior shows that you’ve gone off the deep end. What, are atheist organizations allowed to do anything they want without criticism?

  • Cake

    Gee a pedant is going to tell me what proper behavior is, pass.

  • UWIR

    Ad hominem fallacy.

  • Cake

    Does ad hom apply when the other person is truly uninterested in what you have to say?

  • UWIR

    That’s an ambiguous question, and I doubt that trying to achieve clarification would be productive. Given your previous behavior, I doubt the question was asked in good faith.

    In another thread, Feminerd said that not having polygamy be illegal would result in immense problems, and confirmed that by “illegal”, she meant “criminal” (apparently, my request that she clarify whether she meant “criminal” and not “not recognized by the government” is what you were referring to when you accused me of being a “pedant”). You said that it was completely in my head that Feminerd said that not criminalizing polygamy would cause massive problems, and completely refused to explain that claim. If you’re going to deny basic reality, and refuse to explain your thinking, there is no point in conversing with you. Conversation requires a shared reality, which we clearly do not have. If we can’t agree on what has been said, if you insist on claiming that something that has not been said, when it quite clearly has been, then discussion is pointless.

  • Cake

    TL;DR

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Why does anyone need Christ during Christmas?

    What if the sign said Who needs alcohol during New Year’s?

    Some people would take offense, but so what?

    Would you be defending signs that state – Keeping the alcohol in New Year’s?

    Both are about crutches that people depend on.

    .

  • UWIR

    People don’t “need” Christ, in a hyperliteral sense, but the clear meaning is that there is no value in Christian beliefs.

  • Leigha7

    How? There are plenty of things that no one truly needs but which inarguably have value.

  • UWIR

    Okay, name ONE THING that:

    no one truly needs
    inarguably has value
    you’ve paid THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS for a billboard just to announce to the world that it is not needed

    People don’t pay thousands of dollars to announce to the world that something inarguably has value, but is not, strictly speaking, needed. That’s just plain silly. Do you seriously need this explained to you? It’s impossible to pay for a billboard that merely announces that Christ isn’t needed. The very fact that someone pays for a billboard announcing that Christ isn’t needed means that that what they are really saying is ” It’s worth paying thousands of dollars to announce ‘Christ isn’t needed’ “. And on top of that, “Who needs Christ? No one.” conveys much more disrespect that merely saying “No one needs Christ”. Just because two sentences have the same literal meaning, that doesn’t mean that they convey the same tone.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    Not sure I follow. What are Christian beliefs? If you count things like being nice to outcasts, those certainly have value – independent of whether there is a god nor not. Are you aware of any beliefs that are only good because they are Christians but would be bad without a Christian god? I might be inclined to find no value in those.

    And even if one was to make a claim that there is no value in any Christian beliefs, that still wouldn’t amount to ridicule as you state above.

  • GL

    I think UWIR is getting more at the ideas of, e.g., the Divinity of the Christ, or the idea that There Is a God and He Is Knowable — less “beliefs” in the sense you’re using the word, and more… “doctrinal tenets”.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    People don’t “need” Christ, in a hyperliteral sense,

    No.

    People don’t need Christ in any sense.

    but the clear meaning is that there is no value in Christian beliefs.

    No.

    Your choice of interpretation is that there is no value in Christian beliefs.

    Many Christian beliefs have value, even if they are borrowed from other religions and from secular sources.

    Some of those beliefs have value, but that does not mean that anyone needs Christ in any sense.

    This is the problem with literalists.

    Literalists assume that there is one, and only one, interpretation of any particular sentence.

    That is not literate.

    .

  • truth_machine

    “but the clear meaning is that there is no value in Christian beliefs.”

    STOP LYING. The clear meaning is that it isn’t NECESSARY to hold Christian beliefs. The negation of that is that it IS necessary to hold Christian beliefs.

  • UWIR

    You don’t need to be posting here.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    I am offended.

    A politician should defend that kind of need.

    😛

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    the clear meaning is that there is no value in Christian beliefs.

    Exactly. That is our opinion. That is the opinion of those placing the signs. How is that any more of an insult to Christians than a sign by Christians asserting the opposite? Do you not comprehend the difference between saying “there is no value in Christian beliefs” and “there is no value in Christians”?

    What the heck is wrong with somebody who takes the opinions of others about philosophical matters as a personal insult?

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    I see ads for vanilla or strawberry foods and I am obviously offended.

    How dare they suggest that chocolate is not divine?

    While someone could tell me that I do not need chocolate, I should be protected from being offended by that kind of heresy.

    We must protect the most easily offended from any suggestion that they are less than perfect.

    It says so right in the Declaration of Independence.

    . . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    We must have a law to protect my Happiness.

    Any suggestion that I do not need chocolate is a violation of my Declaration of Independence rights.

    .

  • rustygh

    Your post is a perfect example of how Christians only see it the Christian way.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    That would make sense if UWIR were Christian.

  • https://nowebsite.nolink.com Destroyer of Lies

    “Keep the Christ in Christmas” is, in practice, “Keep everything other than Christ (unless Christians like it), and all non-followers of Christ OUT”! This is sheer pettiness. You may be offended by “Who needs Christ during Christmas?”, but we understand it as fact, we argue better than you on that point, and… much as you hate that, we’ve got no less the right to say it!

  • FOXHOUNDER1014

    Well, these are the same kind of people who call atheists hateful just for putting up billboards that state our existence.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    The last sentence from his latest lame nonpology:

    What we need is good will toward each other, and I hope this debate and my position has helped people focus upon that.

    Yes Mr. Lanza, your pitiful-to-watch repeated choking on your own foot has certainly focused people on the fact that we need good will toward each other. By “need,” I think that you correctly mean that there isn’t any good will at all, and after your repeated ignorant, hate-mongering diatribes against atheists, and your deeply insincere and futile efforts to spin-doctor yourself out of trouble, it’s unmistakably clear that we won’t ever be receiving any good will from you.

    The atheist part of your constituency is growing larger every day, and next election, they will not be looking to you for any good will, so don’t be looking to them for any votes.

  • Smorg Smorg

    You know, I’m an atheist and yet I can understand why some Christians would find the second board offensive… You spend a lot of time calling out religious people who say not so nice things. You should spend more time looking at what you say also. Just saying…

  • Bad_homonym

    I dunno. They constantly advertise that I’m gonna burn in hell for not being convinced of a fairy tale. How is my pointing out that we atheists have awesome Christmases without Christ an affront? Anyone can do the same as us and many do!

  • Smorg Smorg

    Since when do Atheists constitute everyone? If the Christians need Christ in their Christmas, what is it to you or any of us? The other boards I don’t have any problem with. That second one ain’t so live and let live. And to the others blaming the offended for being offended by something… Ha! As if you don’t ever get offended by what religious fanatics say or do… Hypocrisy obviously isn’t only for the religious.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    I don’t get “offended” by what religious fanatics do. They hurt people with their beliefs and their policies, and that is unacceptable behavior.

    The one about not needing Christ in Christmas isn’t even aimed at Christians. It’s aimed at other atheists, who might need to know they’re not alone.

  • Smorg Smorg

    What? And are all Christians fanatics who hurt people?

    Good try about the board being aimed at other atheists… Makes that pretty clear doesn’t it? Is the board designed so that it is only visible to atheists even when it’s in a public place? I see the other boards wishes happy ‘holidays’ or ‘Xmas’, but this second one decides to use Christmas. A Christian term for the holiday… which then goes on to say that “NOBODY” needs Christ in ‘Christmas’. I have Christian friends, and they aren’t nobody. They are people just like my atheist friends are.

    To hell with this tribal us v them thinking, this ‘our team can do no wrong and is always beyond any criticism while their team does everything wrong and every thing they do must be double checked for ulterior motive’ mentality. Some atheists sure suck just as bad as some religious people are. Get over it and don’t think too highly of yourself.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Dude, the name of the holiday is “Christmas”. Everyone uses that term when they refer to the holiday, because that’s its name. And yes, it is possible for everyone to celebrate Christmas without any Jesus, though a lot of people will of course combine the two.

    As for your first statement- in what way does saying that religious fanatics hurt people imply that all religious people are fanatics? Is English your first language? If not, then you should know that I was explicitly only referencing fanatics, which implicitly says that there are religious people out there who are not fanatics. This entire discussion was spawned by your argument that atheists are hypocrites because we’re offending Christians and yet get offended by Christian fanatics. My response was that we don’t get offended, but we do point out that the fanatical behavior is unacceptable because it hurts people and we do try to stop them. Thus, no hypocrisy is observed.

    As for your final point, of course atheists can suck. We’re still people. Some people suck. The issues movement atheism has with misogyny and homophobia and able-ism are certainly proof of that! However, this particular sign is not an example of possible suckitude.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Smorg Smorg,

    What? And are all Christians fanatics who hurt people?

    Why are you claiming that this suddenly became about all Christians being fanatics, rather than the examples of Christian fanatics that are presented here?

    .

  • truth_machine

    Because he’s stupid and intellectually dishonest.

  • Smorg Smorg

    Rogue Medic,

    Because that particular board doesn’t make the distinction between some and all, does it? And neither have most that are jumping in to comment either. Had the second board said ‘not all’ or ‘not everyone’, then I wouldn’t have any problem with it. But that’s not what it says. It says ‘Nobody’. Nobody is an all inclusive term. Just because some religious fanatics like to spew black and white point of view doesn’t make it reasonable for anyone who want a civil discussion to do the same.

    My complaint has to do with what the second board says, and how I can see that it could offend some religious people, particularly Christian. It has been instructive reading the rabidity and ad hominem being spewed by those keen to play the tribal game ever since, tho.

    I like being an atheist, but it’s atheists like these that give the religious fanatics and other atheist-haters ammo. I really hated always getting lumped in with them. They are just as tribal as the religious fanatics are. They can’t see from any other perspectives but their own and don’t even know it.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Smorg Smorg,

    Bad_homonym wrote –

    How is my pointing out that we atheists have awesome Christmases without Christ an affront? Anyone can do the same as us and many do!

    A reasonable question.

    You responded with –

    Since when do Atheists constitute everyone?

    A logical fallacy.

    Feminerd commented –

    I don’t get “offended” by what religious fanatics do. They hurt people with their beliefs and their policies, and that is unacceptable behavior.

    A reasonable statement.

    You responded with –

    What? And are all Christians fanatics who hurt people?

    A logical fallacy.

    I asked –

    Why are you claiming that this suddenly became about all Christians being fanatics, rather than the examples of Christian fanatics that are presented here?

    And this was your response –

    Because that particular board doesn’t make the distinction between some and all, does it?

    Another logical fallacy. At least you are consistent.

    You appear to suggest that all Christians are religious fanatics.

    That is wrong.

    You appear to suggest that any comment about religion must celebrate religion (which you seem to think means Christian fanaticism) or be limited to places where only those who agree with the sign may see it.

    Do you think that all non-fanatic Christians are atheists?

    .

  • Smorg Smorg

    Hey. And here I was starting to think that you were trying to be fair… That’s a pretty hatchet job of selective quoting and conveniently leaving out the bits that I actually replied to.

    Bad hominem actually wrote: “I dunno. They constantly advertise that I’m gonna burn in hell for not
    being convinced of a fairy tale. How is my pointing out that we atheists
    have awesome Christmases without Christ an affront? Anyone can do the
    same as us and many do!”

    To which I asked him why he would lump all Christians as fanatics who go about trying to shove their belief on others, ’cause obviously NOT ALL Christians do that.

    And I wasn’t even talking to him in the first place. My first comment here was for the poster of the article. Bad hominem just jumped in to take offense as if I was saying something to him personally and talking about Christians in general, which I OBVIOUSLY wasn’t.

    The 2nd billboard obviously doesn’t just address atheists. It’s out there for all to see. Yet people here behave as if it is a magic board that is enchanted so that Christians wouldn’t be able to see it (but they obviously do, and some of them did take offense, and that is NOT unreasonable, considering that that board says that NOBODY needs Christ in Christmas) so that it could somehow be only talking to other atheists. Well, if you want to say something just to atheists, then put a header on the board to that effect to warn non-atheists off.

    And here you even say that it is I who are lumping all Christians in with their fanatical faction when I have taken care in all of my comments to avoid generalization and use ‘some Christians’ or ‘religious fanatics’ rather than the generic like the others do.

    From start to finish, I stick with my complaint about what the 2nd board says, yet I keep getting generics back. We’re so so so obviously not addressing the same point.

    So go on… This is almost entertaining in a very twisted way.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    To which I asked him why he would lump all Christians as fanatics who go about trying to shove their belief on others, ’cause obviously NOT ALL Christians do that.

    Bad_homonym did not write that All Christians do that, only the colloquialism that they do that. At worst it is sloppy in not being specific enough to avoid your attempts to find persecution.

    And I wasn’t even talking to him in the first place. My first comment here was for the poster of the article. Bad hominem just jumped in to take offense as if I was saying something to him personally and talking about Christians in general, which I OBVIOUSLY wasn’t.

    You posted a comment to be ignored?

    You assumed that you should be able to make a ridiculous statement without being ridiculed.

    Nobody should be ridiculed for making ridiculous statements, but when I do it, it is OK. :-)

    Well, if you want to say something just to atheists, then put a header on the board to that effect to warn non-atheists off.

    Do Christians need Christ in Christmas?

    Will Christians have strokes, or heart attacks, or aneurysms if they see this reasonable billboard?

    Only if they are very needy and insecure and easily offended.

    I know, I know –

    Nobody needs sarcasm.

    I am needy and I am insecure and I am offended.

    Cater to me.

    😉

  • Nox

    What do you think causes some christians to shove their beliefs on others?

  • Bad_homonym

    Just a quick point here. My initial comment was meant to indicate that I can’t see the reason for being offended by the second board. If anyone can celebrate without christ, it follows that everyone can. That’s a fact. Now if people choose to be put off by something this benign I guess it can’t be helped.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    But when I am claiming to be offended, I am just asserting that I am more of a victim than everyone else and demanding to be catered to by everyone else or I will scream.

    Poor, poor Veruca.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRTkCHE1sS4

    .

  • truth_machine

    “And are all Christians fanatics who hurt people?”

    Do you have anything to say that ISN’T a stupid strawman or other logic failure?

    “Some atheists sure suck just as bad as some religious people are.”

    You prove that!

    “Get over it and don’t think too highly of yourself.”

    If you’re going to talk to yourself, at least stop and listen.

  • UWIR

    “The one about not needing Christ in Christmas isn’t even aimed at Christians. It’s aimed at other atheists, who might need to know they’re not alone.”

    Bullshit. It says “Who needs Christ? No one”, not “Who needs Christ? I don’t”.

  • GL

    So you’re suggesting that if you don’t get Christ every [insert period here], you or someone you know will literally drop dead from lack of Christ? Or maybe we’ll move up a few on the hierarchy of needs, and instead of dropping dead, you’ll just go insane?

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Yes, it does say that. You have mastered the art of basic reading. What is your point?

  • truth_machine

    “Since when do Atheists constitute everyone?”

    Have any more strawmen?

    ” to the others blaming the offended for being offended by something… ”

    Why yes, you do!

    This thread is about Lanza’s disgusting, hateful, dishonest rhetoric.

    “Hypocrisy obviously isn’t only for the religious.”

    Yes, we knew that, you smug turd … and you have just presented another example with your trolling.

  • Bad_homonym

    We don’t constitute everyone. As I stated, anyone can celebrate without the religious baggage. Choosing not to is fine, but simply pointing out the unnessesary religious aspect is hardly offensive. It’s not like these boards remind the public of the atrocities of xtianity, or the god of the bible. They are quite gentle in pointing out that many of us celebrate the season for our own perfectly valid reasons.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    You can’t give offense, you can only take it. And anybody who would take offense at such an innocuous opinion is pretty clearly lacking confidence in their own beliefs.

  • Smorg Smorg

    Let’s see you use that logic when it is the religious fanatics who say or do something offensive…

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I’ve never been offended by anything a religious fanatic has said.

  • UWIR

    This idea that there is no such thing as an objectively offensive statement, and that anyone who takes offense is solely responsible for their feelings, is a load of bullshit.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    I am offended by your promotion of the idea that the most vocal victim is the winner.

    😛

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I didn’t say there aren’t objectively offensive statements. What I said is that we need not personally take offense at everything that is offensive.

    A sign that says “You need Jesus” is exactly as objectively offensive as one that says “Nobody need Jesus”. Yet I would not be offended by either.

  • midnight rambler

    Possibly, but 1) it’s only the tiniest rejoinder to the flood of ads saying “Keep the ‘Christ’ in Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season”, and 2) the other two are purely positive messages. Which means Lanza is still completely full of it.

  • Artor

    Xtians will find anything but constant Hosannas offensive, and will probably bitch about those being off-key and blasphemous too. Hemant calls out religious people who say ignorant, offensive things, and clearly examines WHY they are offensive. What, exactly, do you find offensive with the second board?

  • truth_machine

    “I’m an atheist and yet I can understand why some Christians would find the second board offensive…”

    We all understand why people like Lanza find it offensive, but that has nothing to do with his vile behavior.

    “You should spend more time looking at what you say also”

    You should spend more time not being a smug hypocritical jerk.

  • dad21jedi

    “You know, I’m an atheist and yet I can understand why some Christians would find the second board offensive…”

    I’m an atheist and I agree. Love the other two boards, but I think the second one is unnecessarily (and perhaps intentionally) antagonistic. If we just want to pick fights with Christians or “fight fire with fire,” then the second board accomplishes that mission. But if we want to win hearts and minds, I think we should stick with the many more positive messages we have.

    Having said that, I am very appreciative of American Atheists, and I agree with the overwhelming consensus here that Lanza is a douchebag.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    There are many ways to win hearts and minds.

    The second billboard appears to be directed toward minds, rather than hearts.

    That should not be offensive, but taking offense is practically a religion.

    Nobody needs to take offense because others do not share their superstition, but some will.

    I am offended by your interpretation.

    :-)

  • Proteus

    Hell by us just being atheists is already offensive enough. Some of us simply don’t give a flying hoot over their mythological Jesus.

  • UWIR

    The billboard doesn’t ridicule any people or their beliefs.

    Nonsense.

    It only suggests an acceptable alternative to tradition.

    “No one should read your blog. The Incredible Hallq is much more reasonable.”

    The latter sentence suggests an alternative. The former just insults you. You really can’t tell the difference?

    Let’s quickly recall what Lanza has said about atheists in the past month:

    He said that the staff and supported of American Atheists “don’t believe in decency, civility and kindness” to fellow human beings.

    So, then, that would be a statement about AA, not about atheists.

    That’s a lie.

    No, it’s his opinion.

  • Anathema

    “No one should read your blog. The Incredible Hallq is much more reasonable.”

    The latter sentence suggests an alternative. The former just insults you. You really can’t tell the difference?

    There’s also a different between saying “Nobody needs to read your blog” and “Nobody should read your blog.” The former points out that people can get along fine without reading a particular blog while the latter insults the blog’s author.

    Likewise, saying that nobody needs Christ during Christmas is different from saying that nobody should celebrate Christ during Christmas.

  • Lark62

    Do these two statements mean exactly the same thing?

    “Nobody needs chocolate”
    “Nobody should eat chocolate”

    Of course not.

    Likewise, “You can celebrate Christmas without Christ” is not at all the same as “You should celebrate Christmas without Christ.”

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Lark62,

    “Nobody needs chocolate” “Nobody should eat chocolate”

    Don’t even joke about such things.

    You should be burned at the stake for such statements.

    One is evil.

    The other is evil raised to an evil exponent.

    Ollie Holmes would recognize these as fighting words, put you in a theater, and set it on fire.

    You are a clear and present danger to the one true God – Chocolate.

    It is one thing to mock religion, but to mock chocolate!

    tHIs hAs GOnE tOO fAR!!!!11!!!!!

    /s

  • truth_machine

    “No one should read your blog. The Incredible Hallq is much more reasonable.”

    The difference between this statement and the billboard is sheer intellectual dishonesty on your part.

    “So, then, that would be a statement about AA, not about atheists.”

    He made other statements, about atheists in general.

    “No, it’s his opinion.”

    It’s a falsehood, and that’s not just my opinion.

  • UWIR

    “The difference between this statement and the billboard is sheer intellectual dishonesty on your part.”

    You should call yourself the insult_machine, since you’re clearly more interested in insulting people than giving reasoned argument.

    “He made other statements, about atheists in general.”

    But that statement wasn’t about atheists in general. You have some sort of cognitive difficulty?

    “It’s a falsehood, and that’s not just my opinion.”

    So, argument by assertion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/prototypeatheist Prototype Atheist

    It is mind-numbing how people like this guy can claim that Phil Robertson’s comments were not offensive or attacking anyone, yet will claim that an innocuous billboard presenting an secular celebration of the winter season is hatreful and offensive.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    “…the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.” *citation needed

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Yes, it is interesting how those ignorant of history think they know it. He seems to think that the millenium of antisemitism that culminated in the Shoah can be characterized as “baby steps.” Also, Nazi persecution of Jews had more to do with the perception of Jews as ethnically different from “Germans,” not with their religious practices.

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    What I don’t get is how people can get away with this kind of thing. They casually use the death of millions to support their preconceived notions. That’s pretty horrible and seems to go beyond the abstract version on Godwin’s law. Some major reflection on his fitness for public office would be in order regardless of the rest of the drivel.

    I wouldn’t expect him to understand the subtleties of secular Germans with remote Jewish ancestry being picked up, but the idea that the Holocaust is some discrete event that happened to one subset of ‘evil’ people (and therefore holds no cautionary lessons for anybody else) makes me worried, particularly if not followed by a public outcry.

  • cathouseumbrella

    I’m offended by how unbelievably ugly those signs are.

  • ImRike

    Dear Mr. Lanza –
    I’m sorry you are not my senator, so at the next election I could vote against you!
    Sincerely,

  • TVG

    Mr. Lanza, the followers of Zeus, Woden and Shiva think you are a malicious and hateful atheist too. Have a nice day.

  • TVG

    Has anyone checked to see if this guy uses the same PR advisers as Rob Ford?

  • TVG

    The Religious Establishment – Confusing the status quote ante with equality since Constantine.

  • Jinx

    Wait… Run that past me again.
    What does ANY of this have to do with
    “…the belief and value system of millions of … Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God.”?
    Mr Lanza just kinda threw that in there, huh?

  • 777Concerned777

    From where i stand, Mr.Lanza is denying people freedom of speech and violating their constitutional right to voice their beliefs.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    One positive to take from all this, he did actually issue a sort of apology. Think back just a few years, would any politician have even acknowledged that speaking out in the way he did was wrong and offensive to atheists?

    There’s still a long way to go but this does show that politicians are now beginning to understand that there’s a large block of people out there with the same rights as everyone else and one of those rights is the right to vote, so it doesn’t pay to piss them off too much.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Maybe some day there will be people saying I have friends who are atheists.

    In a few decades, we may even be regarded as people to be seen with in public.

    😉

  • JeromeMac

    He is really smitten with the Holocaust line for some reason, he must have written it himself.

  • kevinbaja

    i have never “understood” why these types of “people” seem to always bring “the holocaust” into the a-theist/theist arguments…hitler was a baptized roman catholic, spent time in a monastery school as a young man, ad nauseum……all of which showed his hold for catholic christian fundamentalism through his adult life and his disdain for……most other religions…ESPECIALLY Judaism……so in reality, fundamental Christianity was the cause of the holocaust…..not a-theism…..

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    People and the Holocaust both get scare-quotes?

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    The Holocaust is scary.

    People are scary.

    But what about “understood”?

    I do not understand.

    Understanding should not be scary.

    Maybe nobody needs to understand.

    I am totally offended!

    😉

  • kevinbaja

    scare-quotes…….what the hell is that ???

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    It’s the term for the use of quotation marks that you, at least apparently, used in your comment above. By placing a descriptive word or noun in quotes (when it is not a quote), usually the intent is to sarcastically indicate the unreality of or unreliability of the word as a true description of the thing to which it refers.

    So, in your above comment, by putting understood, people, and the holocaust in quotes, you are signalling your skepticism that those words actually apply. “Understood” makes some sense in context (your intent is to deprecate the understanding so-called as being akin to actual comprehension of a legitimate thought process), but purportedly you are talking about actual human beings and the actual Holocaust, and so there the quotes are extremely confusing.

  • The Starship Maxima

    A politician admit that he was out of line? Either Jesus will return or the universe will suffer it’s heat death first. Either way, it’ll be a long wait.

  • https://nowebsite.nolink.com Destroyer of Lies

    My letter, emailed to Senator Andrew J. Lanza, as a constituent New York State resident:

    Your recent response to atheist billboards which express our values regarding a winter holiday, which is in fact much older than Christianity (try consulting a library on this):

    “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this intolerant and hateful group deliberately ridicules the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.”

    The words “hateful” and “intolerant” were later revised out, but we are not about to let you forget them! The fact of atheists is that we have absolutely zero tolerance for hate speech, and the only people who we don’t tolerate are those who speak from a position of authority and state only their ignorance and hatred. You have demonstrated both, with flying colors!

    I recommend that you visit this website,
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/12/31/after-making-offensive-statements-about-atheists-new-york-state-senator-issues-the-worst-apology-youll-ever-see/
    and please explore the rest of that site’s content further up the root. You really should educate yourself on who we are, before you go and disparage us any further. You will find no disrespect for your right to celebrate your own winter holiday your own way as a Christian (if that is really what you consider yourself to be). We respect that because we defend the Constitution of the United States, which reminds us all that we don’t live in a country where public officials may weigh in the way you just did on public expression, for or against religious views! Therefore, the rights of atheists to celebrate those traditions of Christmas (or Xmas) which in truth existed for thousands of years prior to papal usurpation and re-branding, and to express these values for that day (family,altruism,love,festivity,and social progress), as well as reason, in contemplation of the true wonder of our existence is off limits to all government officials, including you.

    There is far more grave hate speech from you which I could quote back to you, but it really doesn’t deserve such dignification. I will suffice it to say that nobody need fear or take offense to what we actually say unless they fear the embarrassment of their own hate-speech being revealed for what it is – other than that, go visit Patheos and learn the truth for yourself. A man in your position should understand that we are a growing voter block in New York, and you can count on the promise that we will not stop expanding before the next New York Senatorial election!

  • Tor

    I interpret the statements of the state senator to say that people’s religious faith is so weak, that seeing these signs will cause them to lose their faith. Similar to the argument that if children become aware of gay people, same sex marriage, or witness a kiss between two people of the same gender, they will immediately become homosexual.

  • labman57

    Ah, yet another spin-laden, non-apologetic apology emanating from the warped mind of a conservative politician.
    Translation: “I’m sorry if my righteous comments offended the sensibilities of those vile creatures who were the target of my vitriol.”

    The problem with many Christian conservatives is that they are long onself-righteousness and short on selflessness, long on callousness and short on compassion, long on intimidation and short on tolerance.

    If you happen to be a believer in some form of “God”, wonderful. If you are an atheist or agnostic, that is equally wonderful. Both points of view should be respected, and neither should be so insecure that they feel the need to convert, condemn, or denigrate the other.

    Most importantly though, people who belong to any of the myriad of religions that exist in this country should observe their tenets and practice their rituals in the comfort of their homes, their sanctuaries, and their private schools and not try to impose their particular religious values and mores onto the rest of society via political lobbying or by proselytizing religious dogma in public schools.

    Although self-righteous social conservatives appears to believe otherwise,the United States is not a Christian theocracy.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    Christians always play the persecution card whenever they are prevented from persecuting others.

    In my life experience, I have found most christians to be judgmental and unforgiving, the opposite of what they claim to be. Hypocrisy has never been an obstacle to them persecuting others.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    It’s not hypocrisy when I do it!

    .

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    How so?

  • LivingtheGoodLife

    You attempt to persecute Christians with every post. I am sick it and you and your vile cartoons.

    There are laws about posting religious hatred like you do all day! You make me so angry!

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    With the continuing rise of atheism. Christians should hope that atheists do not treat them the way they have treated atheists.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    We should all hope for that.

    Abuse in the name of no God is as bad as abuse in the name of God.

    Just because the people abusing are less superstitious, does not mean that they are good or right to abuse others.

    .

  • Steve H

    Guess he missed the rally in King, NC where 5000 people marched and religious speakers asked them to encourage me to leave town, people tried to ruin my business and get my wife fired from her job, now that is malice and hated served up by your local Christians.

  • SGBencze

    Disgusting! Is your story written somewhere?
    I often comment at WND (I know, I know…) and pull up Jessica Ahlquist as an example when I am told that “Christians don’t engage in hateful retaliation” and other similar activities.
    I’m sorry for what I can only imagine you went through.

  • Steve H