December 23, 2015

#GnuAtheist outfit FFRF may sue Greg Abbott; could both lose, please?

Let's hope so, and let's hope that Abbott loses yet another lawsuit, this time as the defendant, not the plaintiff.

This is juvenile only if you don't understand the U.S. Constitution AND
only if your personal religious beliefs are afraid of challenge.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation erected a, well, a freedom from religion secular "nativity" display at the Texas Capitol.

Gov. Strangeabbott, calling it "juvenile," ordered it pulled down.
The display was a cardboard cutout of the nation's founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty looking down at the Bill of Rights in a manger. It had been set up in the Capitol's basement, hardly a high-traffic area, and didn't generate much of a public response.  
But after finding out about it, Abbott called it a "juvenile parody" in a letter asking the State Preservation Board to remove the exhibit. 

More on the background:
The Preservation Board approved the exhibit days earlier. But after receiving the letter from Abbott, the agency reconsidered. Executive Director John Sneed snapped a picture of it and texted it to Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, who chairs the House Administration Committee. Geren said to take it down.  
"The governor wanted it down and I told John that, if I were him, I'd take it down," Geren said. "It was an inappropriate exhibit."
FFRF is "considering its legal options."

The Trib has selections from Abbott's letter, and his previous defense of an unconstitutional nativity scene.
The removal comes a week after Abbott publicly expressed his support for a Nativity scene outside the city of Orange municipal building. He argued that the city had a Constitutional right to display the religious imagery.  
In his letter Tuesday, he cited the Constitution again.  
"The Constitution does not require Texas to allow displays in its Capitol that violate general standards of decency and intentionally disrespect the beliefs and values of many of our fellow Texans," Abbott wrote.  
The display is offensive, doesn't serve a public purpose and doesn't educate anyone, he wrote.  
"Far from promoting morals and the general welfare, the exhibit deliberately mocks Christians and Christianity," said Abbott's letter, which also called it a "juvenile parody." 

That said, I'm not a blanket supporter of FFRF.

First, whether because my name is on the infamous Gnu Atheist Block Bot or whatever, I'm blocked from following them right now. I've Tweeted the account of co-president Dan Barker. We'll see if he replies, let alone takes action to have its corporate account unblock me.

Second, I did call the group Gnu Atheists, along with calling bullshit on it when it claimed that Abraham Lincoln was an atheist.

Third, while FFRF may not be as bad as American Atheists and its leader, David Silverman, I've questioned elsewhere the deliberately confrontational stance it has sometimes taken over the nativities in the public square issue.

That said, in this particular case, FFRF pulled its punches, and arguably undercut its constitutional case. It should have sought placement on the Capitol lawn next to the nativity there. That would be a stronger constitutional case rather than appearing in a space by itself. It would also be a stronger PR case, if that's what FFRF was after. Frankly, were I a federal judge, due to the misplacement, and previous interpretations of this issue all the way to SCOTUS level, I'd rule against it, should it sue.

(Update, Feb. 27, 2016: FFRF has filed suit.)

Besides, it seems kind of chickenshit to not throw sharp elbows next to the Capitol grounds nativity. It also seems chickenshit to build something that small, too. 

That's like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Seriously, that thing's smaller than Donald Trump's hair or the lifespan of his schlong comment. (It's bigger than his actual schlong, though, I'm sure.)

In other words, if you want to fight Greg Abbott on this, man up!

In light of the suit actually being filed, I stand by everything I just wrote, whether specifically in the last three paragraphs, or further up.

Fourth, once again showing its actual legal cluelessness, FFRF backed Michael Newdow in his suit over "So help me God" as part of the presidential inaugural oath. (A Gnu Atheist Internet troll popped up his head over that one, too.) Indeed, I found this stupid enough I did a second blog post about it two weeks later.

All of these are examples of intellectual dishonesty, which isn't the humanist way of doing things. But the back of hand to forehead martyrdom is the Gnu way of doing things, oftentimes.

FFRF and AA are probably swimming in the same general, smallish pool of donors. Both may have plenty of activist followers, but donors is a separate issue.

That said, the old "flies, honey and vinegar" cliché (ignoring that bullshit catches even more) comes to mind. But, FFRF and AA both seem to want to practice SJW-type back-of-hand-to-forehead "martyrdom" as much as anything. (Remember, there's just one letter's difference between SJW and JW.)

So, if Dan Barker doesn't want to unblock me, I'm OK with that, too. I'll keep calling them like I see them.

Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta tries to make the argument for FFRF. My thoughts in response?

  • First, did FFRF explicitly ask for the Capitol basement while all other displays were on the lawn? If so, further shame on FFRF. And, the State Preservation Board should have rejected the application in that case. That said, if it's not already the case, the SPB should change its application form to stipulate where on Capitol grounds such displays are or are not allowed.
  • Second, the nativity scene doesn't belong on the Capitol lawn without the proper secular fig leaf. Abbott's wrong, just like about the Orange display. But, two wrongs don't make a right.
  • Third, shock me that Abbott is parading a fake George Washington quote. Three wrongs don't make a right, either.
That's my hot take on his take. Well, adding that an apparent worshiper of his on Facebook called this "just a blog," to which I replied, "Well, isn't that what Hemant does?"

Also to that commenter, as I said there? Three other letters are GFY.

As for your idea that Mehta was reporting or something, rather than blogging? Wrong! And, just to not "tip jar" him, with followers like you, I put the "no follow" attribute on the link to take away pageviews. (And stopped reading your comments on Facebook.)

Speaking of this, a staff wrter at Austin Chronicle, who also wrote about the kerfuffle, is such an in-the-tank Gnu that according to him, people like me aren't really atheists; we're "fence-sitting agnostics."

Richard Whitaker? And, claiming I use "Gnu Atheist" like a smear when you do exactly that with "agnostic"? And, thinking that I think atheism is something more than a philosophical stance, when it's Gnu Atheists, not me, that think that way. Our Twitter exchange gets more bizarre the longer it gets.

Gnu Atheists: Once again proving that fundamentalism comes in many flavors. This also gives me a good reason to practice my Neo-Cynicism, and, per Harvard, my sarcasm is helping my creativity.

1 comment:

Ed Darrell said...

There is a series of headlines which are accurate and much more provocative than any I've seen.

Who is running the propaganda machine for the left and free-thinkers?

How about: "Gov. Abbott demands Bill of Rights be taken out of Texas Capitol?"

"Statue of Liberty has no place under Texas Capitol Dome, Abbott says"

"Abbott refuses to enforce 1st Amendment in Capitol, dares supporters to sue."

We'll never see any of those.