Peter Palumbo is a tool

Shortly after succeeding in getting her school to take down its unconstitutional endorsement of religion, student Jessica Ahlquist was inundated with insults and harassment. Some of it she got from fellow students, but most of it came by way of the Internet. I’ve seen coverage of this all of the place and here are my issues with it:

First, it’s terrible that she is being persecuted for standing up for the separation of church and state. People who don’t recognize the greatness of what she did are blinded purely by their belief that Christianity is somehow supposed to be given uber-respect at every turn.

Second, most of the coverage I have seen criticizes the abusive Christians by saying something like, “Oh, how Christian of you.” Yeah. Yeah, it is Christian of them. The whole point of virtually every religion is to not accept the beliefs of others. The fact that Christianity, like Islam, Judaism, and most other religions, does not distinguish between non-acceptance and intolerance compounds the problem. This is exactly what we should expect of the religious, so let’s do away with the sarcasm, as if we actually think they should be held to a higher standard. We should be prepared for this sort of reaction. Always.

Third, some of the comments directed towards Jessica have been to say she will burn in hell. These are held up as if they are just the worst thing in the world. I’ve got to say to them, so what? Yes, people believe in magical places where our consciousness – ya know, that thing that is a product of the physical forces within our brains – will magically reassemble in some other, magical land, only to be tortured eternally by way of an evil-creating yet somehow loving, magical god. It would be dismissed as kook talk if it wasn’t so mainstream.

All that said, I’m not surprised at the reaction. Aside from Christians tending to do this sort of thing, I expect assholery on the Internet. People aren’t particularly accountable, and even when they forgo anonymity, they probably won’t have to face up to their bullshit unless they happen to have celebrity status. Or if they happen to be a state representative, such as Peter Palumbo:

In what many find to be an open display of bigotry, Rhode Island State Representative Peter Palumbo recently referred to teen atheist Jessica Ahlquist as “an evil little thing.”

In addition to calling Ahlquist an “evil little thing,” Palumbo also made the claim that “she (Ahlquist) is being coerced by evil people;” the implication being that atheists and other secular Americans are “evil.”

Palumbo made his offensive and insulting remarks late last week on the John DePetro Radio Show, a Rhode Island talk radio program.

I don’t know all the details of the interview, but from what I’ve read, this is not bigotry. It’s a stupid and wildly inappropriate thing to say about a high school student, but it isn’t bigotry.

Palumbo, presumably a wishful pal of Lieutenant Columbo, is doing little more than displaying his ignorance. He is so accustomed to being in the dominate group that when someone challenges his assumed superiority he can’t help but pull out every stereotype he has ever been taught. The guy needs a good education. My guess is he failed to receive one, in part, because until now it has been allowed to distract and indoctrinate students with religious drivel in Rhode Island.

At any rate, I hope Peter Palumbo burns in hell.

Paula Deen has diabetes

It looks like overweight TV personality Paula Deen has diabetes. She hasn’t officially confirmed it, but rumors have been swirling for over a year (I guess), and she is reported to be doing some interview tomorrow. She is also throwing her support behind some diabetes drug.

Take note, PZ. This is your fate if you don’t get your act together.

Shit Christians Say to Atheists

I think I have heard some version of every single one of these. The most offensive was when someone told me my life must be pathetic because I don’t believe in God. It was the first time I had ever met that person.

Arlington National Cemetery

I don’t have a good reason for making this post other than that I saw something I found interesting. Basically, I was watching a show on one of the History Channel affiliates that talked about Arlington National Cemetery and why it exists where it does. I’ve never been there or bothered to read anything about it, so this was all news to me. It turns out, the building which adorns the area was that of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure many people know that, and it’s actually the first thing Wikipedia mentions, but again, I’ve never even been there. So, as the Civil War progressed, Union troops eventually took it over.

After some time, it was noticed that war kills people. This, in turn, produces a lot of dead bodies which need burying. Unfortunately, space was running out around the capitol. Then, in a stroke of genius, it was decided that since Lee was basically treasonous swine, his property would be used to bury soldiers. The first graves were actually very close to the home itself. The logic was that it would forever discourage Lee and his family from returning to their home after the war. To this day it stands as one of the more creative ways of saying “fuck you”.

A little less than a decade after the war, one of Lee’s children – ironically named George Washington Custis Lee – called bullshit and sued to get the property back. He won the case to the dismay of many. Faced with the prospect of disinterring several thousand bodies, Congress decided to buy the estate from Lee for $150,000, which is apparently about $3 million today. Robert Todd Lincoln oversaw the signing ceremony.

After this the History Channel went into some free mason bullshit. Once I changed the channel I presume they talked about aliens and people doing their everyday jobs.

Martin Luther King Jr