A freethought group in the Cincinnati area raised $10,000 to pay for a billboard to counter the taxpayer funded Ark Encounter amusement park, sprung from the mind of serial creationist Ken Ham and features a life size version of Noah’s Ark. Of course not all atheists are happy with the protest. I was shocked that blogger Amy Roth would try to protect Ken Ham’s feelings and use an argument she has rejected when directed against her.
Here is a screencap of the billboard rendering the Tri-State Freethinkers tried to have put up:
It refers to the Ark Encounter Park as the “Genocide & Incest” Park Celebrating 2000 Years of Myths.
It definitely takes a particular view of the flood myth and the Holy Bible in general. It didn’t call believers any names. It only speaks about the Ark Park.
Amy Roth at Skepchick joined the Atheist Tone Police, who show up when atheists speak out in public, and complained about the billboard:
It’s not even the lack of design skills. One out of one-hundred of them usually comes out ok. It’s not even that I think censorship is a good idea. It’s not. It’s just that the majority (that 90 out of 100 ratio) of atheist billboards are so darn terrible that they make us all look like seething, holier-than-thou assholes to the rest of the world. Yep. Holier than thou, arrogant jerks that will never change someone’s mind.
All one does with a message such as this is reconvince back-slapping high-fiving atheists that they are oh-so-much smarter and that the joke is on those others, the uninformed, less-than, religious people. Is that the goal? Atheist navel gazing and alienation of religious people so the movement has a very slow conversion rate and gathers only more angry already atheist folks? If so – job well done! Maybe you can slap that message up on some walls with some good glue. You guys obviously have the extra cash for it.
She merely suggests that censorship might be a good thing and that atheist billboards are never designed well and the message says we are arrogant assholes.
For criticizing religion in a factual and blunt matter.
Yes, Amy thinks we need to protect Ken Ham’s feelings.
This edition of the Tone Police didn’t really bother me. What shocked me was Amy’s view that the Tri-State Freethinkers could be doing something “better” with the $10,000.
“Think of how much good that organization could have done with ten thousand dollars. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and really focus on that thought.
They could shelter animals, help homeless, donate to a women’s shelter- help veterans or the elderly, start a soup kitchen or start a neighborhood beautification project removing graffiti. There are so many more options! But instead they would rather put all that money into pretending they are smarter than religious people while simultaneously being incredibly offensive in their message. Does anyone here really think that a family on their way to an ark amusement park hoping to see pairs of fake fuzzy animals is gonna slam on the brakes and turn around after seeing this”
This seems exactly like the kind of argument that people opposed to feminism in the atheist movement have made to criticize people like Amy Roth.
The argument usually goes that women complaining about the treatment of women in the atheist movement are ignoring the plight of women in Muslim countries who are subject to oppression and violence. The implication is “why don’t you worry more about those women instead of bothering me….”. That is an argument that Roth consistently rejects. I reject it as well.
Yet in her own blog post, complaining about an atheist billboard, she makes the same kind of argument. “Why don’t you worry about these other issues and leave poor Ken Ham alone!”
I don’t feel that I’m a typical atheist “asshole” (I’m not “angry” with religion) and I didn’t see anything out of line with the text of the billboard and the design looked good to me. If Tri-State wants to spend $10,000 on the billboard then more power to them. They are getting their message out and if it hurts Ken Ham’s feelings then it’s doing the job and causing a conversation to happen.
I just want to know what better things Amy could be doing with all the money she helps raise for all those secular conferences she attends each year. I don’t see the point of being a serial conference attendee. How much affirmation and high-fiving does an atheist really need?
But that is just my view and if she thinks differently then more power to her.
Also published on Medium.