Between Michael Shermer and Penn and Teller, libertarians are well-represented in the world of atheism. It must have to do with the bottom-up processes of both biological evolution and the free market that makes the atheist/libertarian thing so visible.
A month ago, I posted on FB a funny Colbert clip about how the government may pull incandescent light bulbs from the market.
I noted on my post that it was funny that conservatives clung to gas guzzlers and anything else they might feel it is their right as Americans to buy, regardless of any costs to society. Steve Mirsky wrote in Scientific American magazine, “Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn seemed near tears as he softly asked, ‘What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?’” Cry me a river.
I am not sure if fluorescent bulbs will improve society by cutting down on energy costs and hence helping the environment. I haven’t researched if the mercury in the bulbs makes them not so environmentally-friendly after all, but assuming that they do make a huge positive difference, the government would be right in pulling energy-wasting incandescent bulbs off the shelves.
The free market and capitalism are great, but it’s important to remember that we don’t live in a 100% capitalistic system. If we did, we’d be living in an Orwellian dystopia in which we auctioned off the organs of third world kids. Even the most staunch “let the free market decide” folks must acknowledge that going all the way would be terrible for society.
It was the free market that allowed slavery to happen in the U.S. Just as with sweatshop labor today (which I regard as a step or two above slavery), proponents claimed the economy would collapse without slavery. I’d like to think that, ethics of slavery aside, we proved them wrong.
Life under pure capitalism would be one big auction. Everything would be sold to the highest bidder. The bottom line– the almighty dollar– would decide everything, regardless of who got hurt. The reason we have civilization in the first place, at least in theory, is to protect those who are smaller and weaker. Under a pure Free Market system, stronger people would crush the weak.
Let’s get back to the light bulbs, though.
There are times when the gov’t should and does interfere with the free market. My free market friends: do you object to Big Brother butting into the free market to do the following?
—-Making it illegal to sell liquor or cigarettes to minors.
—-Protecting the public from dangerous items, such as lead paint and swill milk, pulling them off the market. (I can only assume that swill milk aficionados stockpiled swill milk before the law was enacted.)
—-Establishing standards for health inspection in food service, fire codes, architectural safety, etc. I’m sure you’d rather go to Denny’s knowing that Big Brother made sure they didn’t have mice crawling all over the Grand Slams. Check out this video about health inspection.
—-Establishing the Food and Drug Administration to create and enforce rules on which drugs are allowed on the market, and food safety standards. The government limits how many insect parts are allowed in our cereal. To leave this up to the free market would allow the foxes to guard the chicken coop. Life before FDA was pretty disgusting, food-wise.
—-While not completely necessary, I like that smoking isn’t allowed in bars and restaurants, and other public places such as libraries. Even if second-hand smoking weren’t dangerous (Penn and Teller denied that it posed a health risk, but science supports that it is), smoke smells bad and makes me cough.
—-Making seat-belts and other safety features standard on cars. I read that Ronald Reagan once said that making seat-belts standard on cars would “cost consumers their freedom.” Ralph Nader replied that it would indeed cost consumers their freedom– from going through the windshield. If Ralph Nader had not invented the issue of auto safety, in all likelihood, millions of FB users wouldn’t be alive due to auto-related deaths. (Note: there are some people who say that seat-belts kill more lives than they save. I think those people are ignoramuses. They need only ask an expert in the field to be set straight.)
I could go on, but you get the idea.
To reiterate: you wanna let the foxes guard the chicken coop?
Surely you think that these measures are worth sacrificing your freedom.
Only in the past few years have I met libertarians. I wonder where they came from? Out of the woodwork? At any rate, I can’t help but notice that they are all financially well-off men. As near as I can tell, they claim to support liberal values, such as keeping abortion legal, but then turn around and vote for conservatives. Voting with your wallet, guys, won’t maintain social progress. I call these folks “Republican lite.”
Hi Diddly Ho Infidelerinos,
Thanks to all who participated in the Christian Kitsch Contest. It was so fun for me to take a break from the “gloom and doom” that makes up a lot of atheists’ personal stories (but you know I find them interesting!).
God Is Pretend and I will announce the winner next week. Remember– the winner gets a Scarlet A t-shirt!
Obviously, I can’t enter my own contest, but I couldn’t resist looking for some kitsch on my own. Take a look and let me know if you, too, are wondering, “WTF were the designers thinking?!” and “People actually buy that stuff?”
First, an old Daily Show clip featuring a little kitsch Christian shopping.
Nothing says “sacred moment” like this light-up inflatable nativity scene for your lawn.
Can anyone explain to me why Christians would want to hit golf balls with pictures of their saints? Is that a subconscious form of aggression?
Rarely do I see a non-tacky nativity scene, but there’s something about this kids’ picnic basket… (there’s something about the Virgin Mary?) Cherubic images of Mary and Joseph as kids strike me as creepy. Do adults think that makes kids relate to the characters better? I doubt it does more than confuse them.
To me, glow-in-the-dark is a can’t-fail kitsch factor. Try sleeping on this! Here’s another glow-in-the-dark item, so that you won’t forget Jesus as you try to go to sleep at night. (See masturbation reference below.)
Uh…I don’t know how to respond to this one.
OK, I’ve seen people with these plastic fetuses at rallies, but now I know where they bought them! Surprisingly cheap, and available in bulk. This falls under less kitsch, more tasteless.
It’s nice to find a product that’s maddeningly sexist as well. Be sure to read the description on God’s Little Princess Scepter.
I suggested this to Andy, who enjoys a more mainstream version of Guitar Hero. Andy, play this game or you are a coward! Christian rock hard!
These t-shirts are another one of Christianity’s lame attempts at hipness to appeal to teens and pre-teens. Can I just say that I love nerds, so calling Satan nerdy is not a turn-off, and in any case, I’ve never heard a nerdy description of Satan? Here’s another one, which strikes me as pretty rude for a Christian (saying “duh” always strikes me as rude). I’m a little surprised that Christian parents would buy t-shirts for their kids that are this subversive!
I’ve seen some sexy versions of the Virgin Mary, but this is by far the hottest Virgin Mary I’ve ever seen. I’ve heard a conservative pundit (not Colbert) bemoan that artists were all liberals. Clearly, he hadn’t looked around.
Not exactly kitsch, but…
I couldn’t find any sample cards for this board game for teens, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with abstinence. Girls, don’t let him do anything that will make him disrespect you. And guys, masturbation makes Jesus cry. I’d actually like to play these games with my atheist pals, just out of curiosity, so if anyone is in on that, let’s pool our resources and buy one. It’s good for the economy, so don’t feel too guilty about supplying the demand.
This game isn’t a product…yet. Can anyone explain to me Grand Theft Auto without the auto theft?
I can’t find it, but I remember seeing a glow-in-the-dark tombstone with a cross. D’oh!
Just one more thing about the Christian product market. Apparantly, people are willing to pay good money for dirt from the Holy Land (that’s Israel to you) to be buried in, or water from the Holy Land just for, well, just for the sake of holiness. I’ve lived in Israel, walked on the dirt and drank the water. I’ve also gone skinny dipping in the Kineret (that’s the Sea of Galilee to Christians). I couldn’t make that stuff up. If only I had the savvy to get a piece of this business…Mom, if you’re reading this, bring back about 1,000 vials of Jordan River water. Yes, I know it’s a schlep.
Hi Diddly Ho Atheisterinos,
“I have one, but I don’t have a picture so a description will have to do. I saw it at a funeral one time (hence why there’s no picture, there’s a time and place for everything and that was neither the time nor the place).
It was, you know how they have those flower arrangements beside the casket, usually on a tripod like thing, and there’s flowers usually in a circular pattern. Well, there was one of them, it was light blue, with blue flowers around it, and in the center was what looked like one of those Playskool rotary telephones, it was plastic, three dimensional, and the words written next to it were ‘Jesus Called.’ I’m not even joking.”
I think I could write a bunch of long blogs just on all the sex-related products I am seeing in this contest, but then when would I get to talk about the personal aspects of atheism?
One more tangent, though: I had the good fortune of seeing Dr. Richard Milner perform his one-man show depicting Charles Darwin, among other greats in the history of evolution. Dr. Milner is such a talent– who else would rhyme “mandrill” with “spandrell”?
Since you all know what a Christian enthusiast Mike Seaver is, you may have seen his performance (which I hear was pro-bono– you get what you pay for) as the lead in the film Left Behind. Well, I tried to read the first book of this very popular apocalyptic series, though I admit I wasn’t all that interested and didn’t finish it. Similarly, once I tried to read Revelations to find all the references for this stuff that I heard of, and couldn’t get through that, either. I still had fun heckling the movie, since I love to heckle anyway, and it was a pretty good target.
In the spirit of good (heh heh) faith, Andy showed me the book of Revelations on his iPhone bible. I skimmed and skimmed, and maybe a close reading would have turned up more, but I couldn’t find any references to stuff I’d heard about from Left Behind or otherwise. Lots of references to fire and brimstone (is that lava?), Satan, scorpions, horsemen and fornication…but I didn’t see anything about people ascending and leaving behind a pile of clothing, about the nation of Israel as we know it, about a holy war in which the Jews would ultimately be destroyed, Jews embracing Jesus, lakes of fire, etc. In any case, if the rapture were to happen, what would be the point of those left behind to embrace Jesus? Wouldn’t it be too little, too late? Do their ascended loved ones miss them…or are they up in heaven full of schadenfreude? “I told you not to whistle on the Sabbath.”
It’s hard not to make jokes when you think of literate, educated 21st century people believing that plagues of fire and scorpions will happen if we don’t worship the right way. Many Christians believe that the apocalypse will occur within the next fifty years. I’m guessing it’s *always* been going to happen in the next fifty years.
Where does all this leave atheists? I’m with the sticker that says, “Come the rapture, I’ll be down here stealing your car.” Perhaps more relevantly, where does this leave Jews? A Christian “friend” of mine told me, mincing no words, that he would go to Israel when the time came to join the eternal army and kill my people. “Your people will die.”
Maybe the Christian army has to kill the atheists to get to the Jews, or vice versa?
When does the apocalypse/rapture get personal to atheists or Jews? For that matter, why does the Christian apocalpyse have to be so catastrophic and hate-filled, as opposed to the nice happy messianic coming of the Jewish “end of the world”? Learn to have fun, guys.
Happy Darwin Day, everyone! Bicentennials are always special. Let’s celebrate the person who, perhaps more than any other, made atheism possible. I think we’ll all agree that Chas was one of the greatest and most influential scientists of modern times. Certainly one of the most provocative and controversial. I always figured that if Darwin was alive today, the first thing he’d say is, “Still?!?”
Tell me how you all celebrated. Me, I’m going to a party down at Harvard. Happy Valentine’s Day, too– yes, it has religious origins, both Pagan and Christian, but what doesn’t.
Since I already wrote about Greydon Square’s rap lyrics and how cool it is to have an atheist, physicist rapper, I reminisced about the lyrics from songs in my day that, while perhaps not directly about atheism, had a cynical view of god. This was the early nineties and depression in music was all the rage. (I was so ahead of my time.)
I got a lot of catharsis out of these songs and was glad that I had “someone” to relate to, since I don’t think I knew any atheists personally at the time. (Remember that this was before the internet was popular and who I knew personally was what I had.) It was nice that singers could articulate what I was thinking, particularly about a taboo subject.
Nine Inch Nails had a lot of material:
“There is no God up in the sky tonight/ No sign of heaven anywhere in sight.”
Oddly, that is the same sentiment one of my interviewees for this project had…
“Hey god, I think you owe me a great big apology
Don’t take it away from me, I need someone to hold on to
Hey god, I believed the promises, your promises and lies
I want so much to believe”
“He dreamed a god up and called it Christianity
Your god is dead and no one cares
drowning in his own hypocrisy”
XTC’s “Dear God” was probably more about hating god than not believing in god…Kind of becoming an ex-religionist, I guess…
“I won’t believe in heaven and hell
That the father, son and holy ghost,
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in…
Tori Amos had the great line in Icicle:
“I think the good book is missing some pages.”
What songs did you guys relate to about atheism, etc.?
Huzzah, everyone! One of my interviews was published in Secular Nation magazine. Right now, the article itself is only available in print, but the magazine site itself is http://www.atheistalliance.org/secular/index.php#new_issue
Also, please check out my Not My God video. Thanks again to all who participated. Let’s make another one if, Darwin willing, my book is picked up. I admit, though, I’m a little embarrassed by how I looked and sounded. Gosh, do I really sound like that?!? Ugh. How come no one tells me I sound so hideous?
Please check out my new submissions of people’s stories. Not every one will make it to the book I am writing, but nevertheless, everyone’s stories are worth reading.
It’s not directly about atheism, but…
Lots of people have been asking me, and I’ve been discussing online, the current situation with Israel. My mom lives there, so I have an affiliation to the country that biases me, although I think I would feel the same way no matter where she lived. To those of you who asked, she and her husband and friends are fine, thanks for asking, but naturally concerned. If you’ve read a couple of my older posts, you’ll know that I lived in Israel, as well, and yes, my feelings about being forcibly moved there were less than charitable, but today I acknowledge the importance of Israel.
I have a homemade poster in my room depicting the Israeli flag and the caption, “These colors don’t run, either. Stand with freedom and democracy.” Over my desk, I keep a copy of the Israeli National anthem, HaTivka (“The Hope”) which here I translate loosely:
As long as every (spiritually) living Jewish heart goes on,
We advance towards the East,
Our eye to Zionism.
We have not lost our hope,
The 2,000-year-old hope
To be a free people in Our Land
The land of Zionism and Jerusalem
Yes, I’m not religiously Jewish, but nothing can change the fact that I’m ethnically Jewish. Israel was created in part because, given the events of history, Jews need a sanctuary…although I’ve expressed some skepticism in the past that grouping us together in a small part of the world would make it that much easier for our enemies to “finish the job.” Think how easy it would be to club chickens in a chicken coop. That aside, here in Brookline, a very liberal city with a large percentage of Jews, we’ve had demonstrations for both Israel and Palestine. I told the pro-Israel demo that I was on their side, as they proudly held the flag, singing, “Am Yisrael Chai,” which loosely translates into “Long Live the Nation of Israel.” I sang along as I walked towards home.
Again, yes, I’m not religiously Jewish— but Israel is the only truly democratic and free country in the Middle East. It is a small free nation, surrounded by enemies on all sides, peoples who well and truly wish to destroy us. Obviously, I am sympathetic to innocent Palestinians who are dying, but I’m with Israel here.
My feelings are strong, as my feelings with regards to Islam have been strong in the last several years. I know that not everyone, not all Jews, nor all atheists, are with me on all this. For one of my discussions on the matter, look here. I would like to quote it here in full, but it would take up too much space.
I: You got that right.
In the case of Israel, Israel needs to exist. The US and the rest of the free world needs to think: who are our friends and who are our enemies? Your friend is the nation of people who live in a free country with a true democracy and not governed by religious dogma. Your enemy is the one whose people were cheering in the streets when September 11th happened.
V (Other poster): Sarah, it’s clearly a bigoted statement you’ve made there. If only reality were so prejudiced and myopic. I too saw video clips of Palestinian peasants cheering on Sept. 11th. This doesn’t persuade me that ALL Palestinians are enemies any more than a black riot or a white supremacist group’s lynching persuade me that ALL whites are racists and ALL blacks are angry bigots. Equally weak is the idea that any and all democracies are allies on every American concern or issue.
A war that is waged by a government, where millions of innocent civilians are killed, and excused by that government as “acceptable casualties,” is hardly more moral than a terrorist organization that targets thousands of innocent civilians and calls that “acceptable” turn-around.
In the “Isreal and her enemies” conflict, when it is not clear “who started it,” we can’t just take sides arbitrarily just because it’s politically expedient. Peace only happens with mutual consent and real compromise. In my understanding of Isreal’s history, it is not clear that Isreal has abided by treaties set down 40 years ago. Those that side with Isreal excuse her for breaking the treaties and making land grabs against the UN decisions. If that doesn’t really matter, then what does?
I: I know that I’m bigoted and I think it’s a justifiable and essential bigotry. I am no longer going to be “tolerant” of ideas that threaten me and freedom.
I am not at all saying that all Palestinians are our enemies. I am speaking of the entity itself. I look at the sheer numbers of supporters of Islamofacism, and there are a lot– not just a small niche like Caucasians in the KKK.
Again, Israel does not target civilians. Palestine does. Israel does not indoctrinate children to become suicide bombers. Palestine does. Do all Palestinians do this? Of course not. However, lots of them do. Look at the facts of the situation rather than accept things in the name of “tolerance.”
Again, who are your friends? Who are your enemies?
If you live in Boston, I invite you to join me for coffee and see that I’m not as bad as you think:)
(me again, not on the Amazon discussion)
Even now, Americans don’t know what it’s like to have your enemies next door, blasting rockets at you, so before any pro-Palestine people who are reading this think Israel isn’t really defending itself, think again.
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
I've expanded the blog to include material not related to atheism, including rants, raves, consumer issues, curmudgeonly matters and other miscellany.
Read more about Not My God on the About page
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