A Couple of Mentions

Picked up a couple of mentions in the blogosphere this week. One good, one not.

First the good. Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries in a series of video interviews with the Midwest Centre for Theological Studies speaks about where he'll be in October this year.

Interview 7 | White and Barcellos from MCTS on Vimeo.

I particularly like that description of Sydney Anglicans as,

…the old J.C.Ryle, inerrantist, evangelical, brothers in the Lord; great guys!

But then he ruins it by mis-pronouncing my name. Oh well wink

But then the bad. Well, maybe not bad – it 's at least provoking. I get a bit of personal attention from the latest Sydney Atheists podcast. What kicked all of this off? Well, a prominent member of Sydney Atheists, Jason Brown (@drunkenmadman) made the following “joke“,

Why do antivaxers go to chiropractors? Because there's nothing about an antivaxer that a sharp twist of the neck couldn't fix 

Now, call me hopeless naïve but that sure looks like a joke about breaking the neck of those who oppose vaccination of children. When I pointed out that perhaps that wasn't the funniest thing to joke about I got hit with a tirade of stuff, including this subtle little number by the same person,

SO @ thinks the antivaxer/chiro joke is a step too far? He's going to hate it when I do the one about Jesus raping Mother Teresa

And, again, I suggested that maybe jokes about rape weren't entirely appropriate either. Well they didn't like that. I got a tirade of what has now become pretty standard fare. What I find interesting about when this particular group of atheists get going is that, for all the claims to their own moral framework, it seems that the only response they can muster to those they disagree with is to heap invective upon them.

Which is curious. If you go to the Sydney Atheist website, you'll see that the Sydney Atheists list, amongst their core values on the homepage, the following.

respect, compassion and goodwill.

Now when this is pointed out, you get a curious response

@ This has nothing to do with SA values. Unlike your wacky little cult, SA does not have an “oath of loyalty”.


@ again, you're sadly confused. The podcast has always been the opinion of the hosts and not the views of SA Inc.

Well, possibly. But then what is the point of that statement of values? What purpose does it serve if all it is is just a pipedream that members actually don't see any need to uphold? Well, judge for yourself, here's the podcast:

What's intriguing about this is the constant shift away from any attempt to understand me on my own terms. I'm presented as utterly opposed to all humour  – despite the fact that one of the presenters knows me fairly well and is well aware from personal experience that's not true (FWIW, the above exchange resulted in a really good little series of jokes with broken punchlines, all marked with the #comedyisdead tag). Another presenter claims the “obvious” fact that since we're “all in it together” that the Anglicans will naturally defend the Roman Catholic cover-up on child sex-abuse. Again, a claim like this is both mean-spirited and just contrary to the facts on the ground (for example, did you know that Sydney Diocese now has one of the lowest indemnity insurance premiums of any Anglican Diocese in Australia because of it's excellent Professional Standards Unit – but it seems easier to trade in cheap stereotypes and misrepresentations).

What's most striking about the podcast is that I'm presented as “some jumped-up little tw*t telling me what I can or cannot joke about” and that this is “offensive”. It is, simply put, “offensive” to tell other people that their language is “offensive”. For clarity – it's not as offensive to use perjorative terms in discussion as it is offensive to point out that it doesn't aid discussion. In fact I find it deliciously ironic that they spend over 10 minutes discussing the merits of whether I am allowed at all to discuss the merits of someone else's actions.

But possibly the killer line is this one,

Doesn't he understand that it's offensive and just winds people up to tell them what not to do?

And thus the case is closed;

I should not tell people what they should not do.

Take your time…

There are, of course, other ways to have a bit of fun. As an example of how humour can be very pointed and yet gently witty, rather than gratuitously offensive, I leave you with the following from Calvinistic Cartoons

DNA Coffee for Atheists

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