Although they think they are smart, the atheists who read my columns constantly write with remarks showing their lack of comprehension of my arguments. Although they think they are tolerant, these atheists constantly offer me unsolicited moral advice. Although they think they are relevant, they constantly write to me with remarks not addressing the issues raised in the columns they hate but can’t stop reading.
I guess I’m trying to say that I’m sick of hearing from the Dumb Atheist Moralist Not Engaging Debate. These people are otherwise known as my DAMNED readers. Bryan (last name deleted to spare him from embarrassment) is one of those DAMNED readers I’m talking about. He’s got me so frustrated I’m ending my sentences with prepositions.
Recently, Bryan read my column “An Immodest Proposal” and got angry. Then, he wrote the following email to my Department Chairman and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences where I teach. Here’s what Bryan had to say:
“I understand having a political viewpoint, but (“An Immodest Proposal”) is not just advocating, but stating the intention to marginalize and harass your own students based on religious preference out of some misplaced sense of spite. How is that even remotely acceptable behavior for a Professor?”
Like the typical DAMNED reader, Bryan did not sign his email. But, thankfully, he registered his private email address using his actual name. So the words “Bryan (last name deleted to spare him from embarrassment)” appeared in my inbox right next to the subject line, which simply said “inappropriate.”
Bryan thought my column was inappropriate. But, in my opinion, it was his response that was inappropriate. I say that for at least three distinct reasons:
1. It was dumb. The first column I wrote for TownHall.com was a satire about bringing NAMBLA to campus as a part of our university’s diversity mission. The column was a satire making fun of the notion of multi-culturalism, diversity, and moral relativism. One Christian reader did not understand the column and wrote to me saying it was “inappropriate.” In well over 600 columns, this remains the lone instance of a Christian not understanding the satirical nature of one of my columns.
By contrast, I received dozens of emails last week from atheists who did not understand that “An Immodest Proposal” was satire. It really wasn’t hard to figure out. Justice Ginsberg wrote a Supreme Court opinion supporting a university policy that forbade a Christian group from including a belief statement in their constitution – one which would have limited membership to people who are, well, actually Christians.
I responded with a satire saying that Christians should protest by joining atheist groups that did not want them to join. I even referenced the Supreme Court case so that atheists not attuned to current events would not get confused. As an added precaution, I used the title “An Immodest Proposal” so that potentially offended atheists would understand – even if they are not quite as Swift as my other readers.
But the atheists were still confused. So I am becoming a skeptic on the issue of whether they really are much smarter than Christians - as they so often claim to be. I guess you could say that I can’t take their claims on mere faith alone. I’m going to have to see some more evidence – preferably scientific evidence - before my beliefs evolve. Evolution is a long process, you know.
2. It was judgmental. I’m not very receptive when atheists give me unsolicited moral advice. The reason I’m not receptive is that these atheists can never explain the basis of their morals. Generally, they try to rely upon some sort of consensus among “rational thinkers.” But, in this case, such reasoning has no real applicability. Most of the people reading the column understood it except for a few dozen atheists. Besides, it is silly to chastise a person for an “intention to marginalize and harass” when they have no intention to marginalize and harass. Where satire is present, real intention is generally absent. Personally, I think we should eliminate intellectual poverty by eating the babies of those who miss that very crucial point.
3. It did not engage the right debate with the right person. Just in case Bryan is still in the dark I would like to add that he’s really not having a quarrel with me. He’s having a quarrel with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is the author of that silly opinion. If Bryan found my satirical opinion to be “inappropriate” then guess what? Bryan found the real Ginsburg opinion to be “inappropriate.”
I hope Bryan will take the time to write a complaint to Justice Ginsburg’s boss. Then, I hope he’ll pick up a copy of “A Modest Proposal.” Maybe that’ll teach him to appreciate satire. And maybe some day the atheist will learn to respect other beliefs and mind his own DAMNED business.