Sunday, February 11, 2007

Majority of CNN panel concludes that atheists need to "shut up"

     Some of you may have heard of the recent uproar about the Paula Zahn CNN segment about discrimination against atheists. If not, the videos are below along with some comments.


    What I thought was interesting about this segment was the choice of atheists interviewed. You may have noticed that all the atheists chosen for interview were overweight and rather unattractive in general whereas the Christian man who was interviewed was fairly handsome. This is a popular media technique to influence opinion. If those who are undecided on the issue see it they will often identify the "bad" idea with the "bad" looking person. Fox News employs this tactic on Hannity and Colmes. Hannity is a fairly decent looking guy whereas Colmes looks like the child of a zombie and an old turtle. People naturally want to associate themselves with the better looking person, and this can have a huge affect on the subconscious.

Here's the second part of the video:


    The first thing I'd like to comment on here is the initial backdrop of "Why do atheists inspire such hatred?". I thought the initial question of the segment was "are atheists discriminated?" not "what do they do to deserve it?". The language used clearly suggests that not only are atheists hated, but that there are reasons that justify such hatred.

    Then to get to the comments. It's incredibly disappointing to see a black woman criticize a discriminated minority and say that they simply need to "shut up" only 40 years after the Civil Rights movement. Now the blonde really reminds me of a character played on Saturday Night Live, although I can't decide exactly who. Her claim of America being a "christian nation" has been refuted so many times it's beginning to cause my ears pain to hear it. America's "founding fathers" were overwhelmingly deist, certainly a far cry from being Christian. Maybe the blond woman should let the black woman (I refuse to honor them with their names) know that America (by the same twisted logic) is also a "white nation". And then finally the blond woman's comment that Europe is "fast falling" and is becoming "Islamic" is certainly ridiculous. Europe is becoming more secular, that's for sure, but not "Islamic". And the countries that are more secular, e.g. the Nordic countries, are also the countries with the highest standard of living for their citizens. They also have more responsive government and hence much higher voter turnout, all signs that their democracies are "fast falling" in comparison to ours.

    In summary, what a ridiculous panel. Our great mainstream media can get a panel of people in a room to discuss atheism (none of which are atheists by the way) and agree that we need to shut up. Damn, Christians sure are persecuted in this country.

Finally, here's a nice remix that someone made.



vjack said...

This whole thing just makes me so mad. Other than sending nasty e-mails to CNN, I'm not sure what to do. I am glad there are a bunch of us blogging so we can rally support for some hellraising.

egalia said...

Now we know why we have so many Christian politicians. The only way to survive in America is to pretend to be Christian.

Mookie said...

"freedom of religion, not freedom from religion"

A common cry, and so incredibly annoying it boils the blood. It seems like a lot of people don't actually understand what atheism is all about. Their silly preconceptions define their worldview as being superior, and atheism as being 'dark, cold, and empty'. They imagine all the warm gushy emotions they get from religion removed and think we must be horrible people for not feeling or even rejecting the magic.

Anonymous said...

I managed to watch about a minute of the second clip before feeling violently ill.
Usually I am quite understanding towards the superstitious, bigoted multitude, they are merely a product of environment ('give me a child until he is six' etc.).
Still, in this case? *shudder*
It amazes me that people automatically assume that athiesm is an empty, soulless morass of 'anti-deity activism'. Athiesm DOES NOT mean to be devoid of BELIEF, it simply means to be devoid of faith in the divine (any divine). A - theist: Without Theism.
Athiesm is difficult for many to accept because of several factors innate to human consciousness - first the need to explain gaps in practical understanding - second to fulfill humanity's need for purpose in an unimaginably vast universe - and third to assuage fears with the promise of life to come.
I have no true objection to religion as such - people are entitled to delude themselves - but the second it becomes present in intstitutions (governmental or otherwise) it immediately becomes an apparatus - an vehicle for hierarchical societal relations and an excuse for acceptance of day-to-day woes, secure in the knowledge that 'the life to come' will ultimately cure all ills associated with this life.
Ng. Nobody ever came back to confirm this - so in the meanwhile, wouldn't it be better to attempt altering your day-to-day reality into something as close to approaching 'heaven' as possible?
Of course not - because that might undermine the foundation of religion. It's like spiritual masturbation - purely selfish appeasement of the needs of the soul - religious airheads.
The very fact that they see a conflict (between theists and otherwise) where there is none demonstrates the extent of this paranoid delusion. Nietzche for the lot of them, I says :)
This makes me quite glad I live in Britain, as you are quite right - Europe is fast becoming secular - and our government has always been structured around secular foundations (at least since the civil war).

"We removed prayer from schools, what more do they want?"

Honestly - as if religious belief was the DEFAULT.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, just read this post again - and got annoyed again. Feel like ranting to the converted a little more.
*grunt* reminds me of the time I saw a little bit of the 2004 election campaign broadcast. George Bush was asked (by one of his many sycophantic toadies) the barefaced question 'so, Mr. President, do you see the Iraq war and the rise of terrorism as precursors to the apocalypse?'
And he actually STOPPED for some time to CONSIDER his response. An outright 'NO, YOU BLOOD-BRAINED PSYCOPATH' would have done, but instead you could actually see the wheels turning:
"So... this is clearly fanaticist lunacy - but will I lose more votes through a) disagreeing and losing my far right religious support, or b) agreeing and scaring away more moderate conservatives.
He eventually chose a) (fortunately) - clueless simian - Egalia, you are quite correct to point out that religion in politics is all just a vote garnering game in the States.
I worry for you folks sometimes. It seems America may be sleepwalking into fascism without even realising it - hope I haven't offended anyone, but you can keep your 'cookies and christian values' Republicans.
If Europe is 'losing to secularism' then I am proud to be European.

breakerslion said...

I have a totally different take on this. Meme attack! We must be frightening someone! Perhaps they feel the wind blowing in the branches of that rotten tree. Perhaps they feel uncertain that they can sell this fairy tale for another thousand years.

I confess that I did not watch those clips. Maybe another time, but your comments confirmed my suspicions.

Greg said...

If this sordid episode results in motivating Atheists to stand up and make our voices heard, then maybe this smear job will result in real dialogue and maybe even a better world for us. I sure hope so.

concerned citizen said...

That was a crappy piece by CNN. It just illustrates why the media is a such bad place to get any valid information at anything. TV news is a sham.

& you are right that panel(?)sucked. Listening to them I kept thinking of those self-rightous Christian bloggers that like to come over make nasty little remarks & run away.

But, I believe we are acually making quite a few inroads, thanks to intelligent & articulate people like yourself.

Delta said...


Yeah, I don't know of much more one can do. I think the video may be useful though in turning more atheists against the mainstream media. After all, it was atheist bashing on Fox News that started me on the path from voting for Bush to where I am now.


Hi! Long time no see. And yes, while it may not be official law that you must be christian to get elected, it's certainly to that effect.


Exactly. Your exact statements would be equally valid if we placed socialism/communism/anarchism in the place of 'atheism' as well, but we've talked about this before.

mad as a fish,

Welcome, thanks for the posts. You should be proud to be European. Not only is your quality of life much better than ours on average, your governments more controlled, but in many countries you also work far fewer hours than we do in America, opening up free time to both enjoy oneself and also participate in the democratic process.

Honestly - as if religious belief was the DEFAULT

Yes, people do usually assume that religious belief, especially christianity, is the default position. To admit that that is not the case would be to admit to oneself that one was once an atheist, which really undermines their ability to hate them as being evil.


I think perhaps in some sense you may be right that those in society who have typically relied on religion's ability to control the people are starting to see that control start to slip away, and that scares them. Once people realize that they don't have a paradise awaiting them after death, they'll start wanting to have as close of a paradise as they can on this earth.


Hopefully so. Some atheists likely subscribe to the idea, either consciously or unconsciously, that religion is something that shouldn't be talked about. Watching this clip may convince, or give them the courage, to think otherwise.


TV news is a sham

This is a very crucial point to understand, and I hope that this incident leads more people to this conclusion. Once people start seeking out information on their own, rather than be lead by the corporate media, well, that's the first step to positive change. And thanks for the compliment =)

concerned citizen said...

Once people start seeking out information on their own, rather than be lead by the corporate media, well, that's the first step to positive change

Exactly! Critical thinking is almost a lost art among some classes, though. The trouble is it's very dangerous to religion & the state.

Chris Oldfield said...

I'm an english evangelical christian. I can't believe how different the culture is in the US. I previously couldnt understand why some american atheist friends were so pissed off, and now I guess I can. What a silly mess, and what a ridiculous CNN "debate"!

all I can encourage you is please dont be put off christianity because of bizarre american habits to politicise it. Rationality and secularism are compatible with authentic, biblical, orthodox christianity - indeed, even thorough going persecution is entirely compatible! Indeed, the bible writers are generally writing in the midst of political oppression...Jesus himself a prime example - did he fail in his supposed mission to create a christian state?!

The bible does of course anticipate and then announce the kingdom/rule of God himself but how it relates to opposing authorities is a huge surprise (compare Psalm 2 with Mark 1v15; 15v39). Read Mark's gospel to ask questions about the kingdom of which Jesus is king, or at least John 18-19 for a fascinating and intensely charged encounter between Jesus and Pilate.

NT Wright (Oxford, Bishop of Durham) is a brilliant chap to listen to on these questions. You might be pleasantly surprised by what he (world leading jesus scholar & evangelical theologian) has to say on the US situation.

all the best, and keep going in this frustrating situation! chris

Mookie said...

"Rationality and secularism are compatible with authentic, biblical, orthodox christianity"

Not really. Faith in the supernatural necessarily requires a suspension of rational thought.

Chris said...

Your point about the irony of one minority telling another to "shut-up" is excellent. I wonder how the black woman would react to someone arguing America is a white-nation and so black people complaining of descrimination should just shut-up.

Anonymous said...

Your comment on Atheist Revolution today cracked me up so much that I had to come check out your blog site. (I've made my dust covered bible under my bed just listen to me having sex with a man who isn't my husband.)

This CNN clip you shared didn't anger me as much as it validated my feeling that religion has mass produced a shit load of ignorant minds. As I watched the panel CNN put together, I pittied the poor fools. What exactly are they getting from their belief in the supposed God of goodness? I didn't hear anything good coming from their mouths. Intolerance, self-righteousness, discrimination, judgement and stupidity is all I heard.

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Anonymous said...

athiests have no faith so
they are too stupid to have a view

molly said...

@anonymous, says the guy who can't even spell "atheist" your intolerance is astounding.