Fort Bragg: atheist festival *will* be critical of organized religion

Thanks to the efforts of my high ranking cyber-stalker, Fox News picked up a bogus story taking lyrics way out of context. The backlash could have threatened the entirety of the festival lineup at RBB. The short-term desired affect was achieved.

Fort Bragg was pressured get me and all of the performers to sign a promise not to be critical of religion. This document was being called ‘a rider’. It contained a whole host of other problematic concessions. Here are a few quick examples.

  • “Don’t make statements that a member of the general public would find offensive.” I get email from members of the general public that are offended that I’m burning churches down for the Obama re-election campaign video. Seriously. And there were dozens of examples just like this.
  • “Performers will adhere to the Army Values…” What?!? Not sure how they can keep that agreement without even knowing what the hell that even means. It was bad.

As usual, I stood my ground, and sent heavily modified versions back to them. My corrections were in red text. There were more words written in red letters than black, to give you some idea. One of my demands was that their office stop helping the openly hostile evangelicals. We went back and forth for a few rounds. But then there was no word back about their rider after I told them that I refused to sign anything like it, as I was not obligated to do so.

The instigator’s plan actually backfired in the end. Today, we proudly release this.

 

Colonel Sicinski promises to protect statements critical of organized religion at Rock Beyond Belief

“I recognize and understand that the Main Post Parade Field will be a limited public forum for the duration of the festival and appreciate that the language of the original draft may have concerned you, especially with regards to information that may be offensive to others’ religion. I want to assure you that Fort Bragg will not discriminate against speech on the basis of its viewpoint. Stated another way, I understand and respect that there will be ample discussion about atheism and/or humanism during the festival and that the speakers may criticize organized religion or its practitioners…

-Colonel Stephen J. Sicinski

Fort Bragg Garrison Commander

That’s exactly what we needed to see in order to sign this document. The radio-friendly requirement for music and discussion had been understood for well over a year. But it was hard for them to translate this in a sensible way in a climate of fear. I profusely thanked the command. I was proud to show that to my legal team, standing them down once again.

How hard they tried to force Fort Bragg to cancel us, and how you can help us.

-continue reading below the fold-

Needless to say, it has been extremely tense behind the scenes. Every day for the last year and a half seems to have been full of these battles.

My cyber-stalker clearly was communicating with people involved in crafting this document. He was leaking paraphrased quotes from it, well before I even saw it. A chaplain even used Fort Bragg’s facebook page to write an open-letter to the base commanders demanding the cancellation of our ‘church burning event’.

The administrator of the Bragg Facebook page said this in reply:

Fort Bragg, N.C.: Thank you for your posting. We will ensure it is sent to the command.”

This was all over an intentionally misinterpreted lyric from Aiden’s song ‘Hysteria’, and some swear words in songs they knew they already knew they couldn’t sing (Walmart sells their albums in exclusive clean versions, for the record.)

Then, video leaked of the Christian event’s performer saying that he “was going to set the place on fire, for Jesus!” Who’s the hateful chapel burner now? You decide. He was walking right by a Military Police detachment, too. Clearly, he’s about to incite a riot and lob molotov cocktails at cops for JESUS.

The low rider is a little higher

They decided to name this sneaky document “a Rider”, as they were playing semantic games with our previous contract (not amendable unless both parties agree.) We had already delivered our band’s tech-riders weeks earlier, satisfying a built-in requirement. It was there simply to ensure that Fort Bragg was aware of the type of equipment the bands were bringing in, for power requirements and other concerns. But some genius at Fort Bragg thought that if he simply called this crazy new document “the rider for performers” that I would be fooled into thinking I was already obligated to make my performers sign it, regardless of whether or not I agreed to change the contract.

That’s not how tech riders work at all, and anyone familiar would balk at the suggestion. This was a reverse-rider if anything. This is exactly the type of chess-game mentality I’ve been up against. Hardball ‘officer-speak’, and strategies just nuanced enough to detect only with a trained eye, and hard to explain to anyone either way.

I never let on that I was on to them and their creative word game. Why? Because I’ll let them have their token “we promise not to say naughty words” document so they can tell reporters that they ‘handled the Aiden Situation’. If that’s all they want, they can have it. They more than earned that by actually listening to me and coming full circle like this.

I would have helped them craft a statement regarding swear words. It didn’t have to be like this. But neither of us trusts each other unless it is on paper, so it’s cut-throat 24/7. It’s not personal, and I get it. These guys have poker-faces you wouldn’t believe. But I’m so proud of them for taking this little trip with me. They clearly demonstrated that they get it. I’ll sign.

In addition to you guys taking a little trip to Fort Bragg on March 31st, we need some grass roots support right now.

You can help us get back at the instigators for attempting to forge a controversy to bring us down.

Please, send copies of our press release to any news organization in your area. Spread the word! Local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, any place really. Even Fox News and right wing talk radio stations are capable of honest and fruitful discussion. I’ve had good experiences at both already.

Send THIS to reporters for great justice.

Fort Bragg did the right thing in a tough situation, so keep it respectful at all times. It’s rare we get a positive development like this to rally around. Click on some of those buttons down there too. Your clicking fingers can support the troops today. Thanks!

Lorax with a megaphone

 

*UPDATE – Chris Rodda has more to say about it.*

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About Justin Griffith
  • http://twitter.com/#!/VeritasKnight VeritasKnight

    Way to fucking go, Justin.

    If I ever get to a meetup where you’re around, you can increase the amount of beers you will be bought to three.

  • beerslayer

    Justin’s already got a standing offer from me – if I ever meet him in person, he drinks for free all night.

    With all the support you have out here, Justin, if you play your cards right you might never have to buy yourself a drink again! :)

  • http://twitter.com/#!/VeritasKnight VeritasKnight

    Hahaha so true! Well usually after two or three beer I get generous with my wallet anyway. And if I was really lucky, I’d be at home drinking high-quality (and alcoholic content) homebrew…

  • Alec

    Similarly, religious organizations are strongly encouraged to be critical of atheism and to make strong, factual, reality-based arguments in defense of their respective religions.

    BTW, I’m good for a few beers too.

  • annie

    Way to go, Justin!! I’m sure this past year has been a major headache for you, but it’s been enjoyable and encouraging to watch you get past each and every obstacle thrown your way.

  • Sue Kocher

    I admire people who make things happen. Justin has made the near-impossible happen, and in a very big way. Everyone who cares about equality, and wants to have a great day, needs to come to Rock Beyond Belief. By hook or crook. Catch one of the buses if you can. Caravan if you can. Drive with your stereo blasting, alone or with a friend. But be there!

  • Rike

    Did I get this right: somebody is trying to make you keep swear words off the military post?

    lol, lol…

  • Aquaria

    You are the man. Keep holding their feet to the fire!

  • HowieKor

    This is a wonderful country will live in, established by our founders with the highest asperations for personal freedoms for all. But keeping to these ideals often requires that certain brave individuals must, at risk to their own future, stand up to certain forces that either in their stupidly or with deliberate and selfish intent seek to pervert the ideals of our free society. Justice, you are one of those brave individuals. Thank you so much for all the effort, sacrifice and bravery you have shown.

  • Dave The Sandman

    Keep on fighting the good fight Justin. YOU are a true American hero!

    As Militades, the Athenian War Archon, instructed his small force of Athenian defenders facing down the massed Persian horde encamped on the sands of Marathon bay:

    AT THEM!!!!!!

    and some day mate we may be the ones who get to cry NIKE!!!!

  • James

    If there’ll be no ridicule, what’s the point?

    But seriously, anyone know what gate(s) is (are) open between midnight and PT time (as if anyone’s doin’ PT on saturday)? I’ll be comin’ in screamin’ from Ft. Knox late or early, depending on your viewpoint. AKO: james.w.johnson1

    ‘Preciate it.

  • Sick of wackos

    JUSTIN GRITTITH…GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND AMERICA. YOUR KIND IS TAKING AMERICA DOWN……THE MILITARY NEEDS GOD’S PROTECTION NOT SOME WACKO LIKE YOU.

    IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE DON’T BELIEVE. IF YOU REALLY WAS STRONG IN YOUR NONBELIEF YOU WOULDN’T BE DOING THIS. IT IS SAD AND PATHETIC

  • Sick of wackos

    ALSO, IS SAY ANYONE OF FAITH…GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND LET THE FEW PATHETIC HEROS OF NON BELIEF FIGHT……WONDER HOW LONG THAT WOULD LAST

  • Sick of wackos

    And, since when did cowards and whiners get called “An american hero?” How pathetic…….these kind just ruin the military and try to undermine it….if this wasn’t so sad it would be laughable

  • Sick of wackos

    one more thing…..how many true foxholes have you really been in or any of your non believers….that would be an interesting survey….

  • Sick of wackos

    He is not brave hero…the men who have faced the enemy and died or lived, are the heros. Holding signs and taking the main focus of the military off of it’s real mission…that is wrong. If you don’t like it, get out….No one is making you and you are putting the lives of our young men in danger. They need encouragement. True Heros are not like you.

    • James

      Hey! Look everybody! A troll! And he’s taking the “foxholes” thing literally! Must not be in the military or he’d know that foxholes are virtually nonexistent anymore. Excuse me Sir, today’s battlefield doesn’t really require foxholes. Besides, it’s more of a metaphore for the suck of combat. Many, many of us have indeed been in those “foxholes”. Take care!

  • Anna

    James,

    Ever heard of free speech and expression, as well as freedom of and from belief? Well that is what your boys and girls are supposedly fighting for. YOU do them more disservice by your attitude and your actions here than any festival for non-believers, because you are trying to destroy what they are trying to protect.

  • Anna

    Sorry meant to say James, don’t waste your breath. The rest was meant for ‘sick of wackos’. Typing on a small phone screen is really impractical.

  • James

    We’re good, Anna; no offense taken. Only thing is Wacko didn’t include girls in his “heros” [sic] list. In his world, only men have “faced the enemy and died or lived”.

    (It’s fun quoting deranged illiterate people!)

  • Anna

    James,

    Wish I could be there myself. I’m thanking my lucky stars that I live in the UK as the US seems to be turning into some nightmarish Orwellian/handmaid’s tale hybrid hell-hole.

  • James

    Too bad you’ll miss it. I’ll eat a baby for you. When is the baby eating? I didn’t see it on the schedule. I hope it’s not been cancelled.

  • Anna

    Lol. I’m sure there will be vids everywhere. And idea if you could set up a live YouTube stream?

  • James

    Nope; not that smart. My skills lie elsewhere. I’ll skype you from whatever events you want though. Do you skype? Go to my facebook (http://facebook.com/TheOriginalAtheismo) and message me. We’ll work something out.

  • Anna

    Sent

  • Seamus Ruah

    Dear Sick of wackos,

    Please take your meds, and seek help from a mental health expert soon. If not for yourself, at least do it for your family.

    Sláinte

  • Aquaria

    USTIN GRITTITH…GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND AMERICA. YOUR KIND IS TAKING AMERICA DOWN……THE MILITARY NEEDS GOD’S PROTECTION NOT SOME WACKO LIKE YOU.

    IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE DON’T BELIEVE. IF YOU REALLY WAS STRONG IN YOUR NONBELIEF YOU WOULDN’T BE DOING THIS. IT IS SAD AND PATHETIC

    Sick of wackos says:

    March 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    ALSO, IS SAY ANYONE OF FAITH…GET OUT OF THE MILITARY AND LET THE FEW PATHETIC HEROS OF NON BELIEF FIGHT……WONDER HOW LONG THAT WOULD LAST

    Where’s your DD214, you worthless piece of shit?

    Who the fuck are you to determine who can be in the military and who can’t? You’re too stupid and hateful to make that fucking call, scumbag.

    Fuck off to your cave of stupid, and don’t come out until you find a working brain, scumbag.

    Fucking piece of shit christscum.

  • Justin Miller

    Combat tested atheist right here. My joes love me, and they know I’m an atheist. I don’t need a whimsied fable to lean on when the time comes to put my ass on the line for my brothers and sisters in arms. Next baseless argument, please…

  • Colleen

    Right on Aquaria!

    Where’s your DD214 indeed!

    Also, to “sick of wackos,” please take off your caps-lock as it only makes you appear that much more deranged.

  • roberttorres

    Mr. Griffith thanks for organizing this. I spent 10 years in the military and another 20 years as a policeman. I’ve had people tell me I’m not an American, because didn’t believe in their god, and others who suggested I should be killed. I can’t express enough the appreciation and admiration I have for you. Thanks from and old Air Force veteran.


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