Doomed To Wallow
In The
Cesspool Of Despair
Julie Hagerty

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Julie [surname removed]"
Date: May 24, 2002 9:32 PM


I strongly recommend using extreme caution when writing to a complete stranger with the intent of accusing that person of propagating a message inconsistent with truth (deceit), or propagating a self-inconsistent message (hypocrisy), or of propagating an otherwise destructive message. Having failed to make so much as a single point with this attempted attack upon that implacable authority known as Truth, you are well on the way to earning our Mute Annie Award for the month of May, 2002. This is a dubious distinction, indeed, as the month still far from over. Compounding all this, you have, in but a single short paragraph, prevailed against some abjectly stiff competition! Besides, the award itself remains but a figment of this author's quick and fruitful imagination, itself never ceasing to find a way with words.

To complete the ring of irony, you go so far as to refuse to even sign your letter!

Julie, Julie, Julie!

Not being one to make empty assertions, I will now grant you the dignity of justifying what I have said above.

You start by insisting that "there does not appear to be any positive outcome in reality of not having a belief in a benevolent force in the universe."

This might give your reader the impression that you have some stern criticism of the message about which you have chosen to comment -- if, in fact, you were saying anything at all! "Positive"? Just what do you mean by that? "Positive outcome"? What does that mean? "Positive outcome in reality"? Which "reality"? Whose "reality"? "Reality" as opposed to what?

In truth, this could mean literally anything! You could launch this criticism against anybody for having propagated any message whatsoever, and you would be able to make this criticism "fit"; that is, you could argue some interpretation of what you said to justify it and make it appear as valid. I reiterate: you could use the above sentence to criticize literally any message!

Ah, but you use the above device to argue against "not having a belief in a benevolent force in the universe" -- as if very many who lack such a belief do so deliberately rather than by default! Truth is, most who lack such a belief do so by default: this is not a condition that most of us choose, but one that we come to for lack of a reasonable alternative! The claims that such a "force" exists simply don't hold water for most of us. You might as well rail against the inability to wiggle one's ears or curl one's tongue or whistle or snap one's fingers!

I, for one, have as yet been unable to assemble for myself a comprehensible understanding of what "a benevolent force in the universe" even means but you want me to skip that part and go ahead and believe that claims for the existence of such a thing are true!

Worst of all, though, you argue that we should believe that claims for the existence of "a benevolent force in the universe" are true not because they are likely to be true but because there would not be "any positive outcome in reality" unless we did believe that those claims were true!

I'm sorry, but I'm just not that dishonest!

Then you turn around and appear to extol "the acceptance of failure through our own human devices" through Buddhism. But the question of whether or not you are, in fact, praising "the acceptance of failure through our own human devices" is left to the imagination of the poor clown who cowers at the "business end" of your reprimand.

First, I'm not sure I understand where Buddhism fits into the picture: our web site advocates the end of bigotry against atheists, we have not taken up the cause of Buddhists, except as some Buddhists are atheists. And having established their atheism, their Buddhism thus becomes incidental to us: it's their atheism that concerns us the most.

Ah, but alas! Precisely what it is that you're actually saying here turns out, upon even a cursory overview, to be most unclear. (What is your daytime job? do you write New Age pamphlets? do you contrive marketing stratagems for household products? are you a member of Congress?) Which is it that's supposedly done "through our own devices," the acceptance of failure, or the failure itself?

Then comes your whammy: Your premise is contingent on our alleged inability to acknowledge something. "If we cannot acknowledge" -- what -- might I ask? "If we cannot acknowledge" something that you presuppose to be fact. However, conspicuously absent is a demonstration as to the truthfulness of your claim. Unable to show its truthfulness (unwilling to even give it a crack), you forfeit your right to call this claim a "fact" or to even use the term acknowledge in connection with it (as one can only "acknowledge" what is demonstrably true!).

So what is it that you here assume to be factual? Here goes: "there are measures in our own power to reconcile with our own mistakes."

Say, wha --?

"Measures"? This could mean a number of things.

Does the qualifier, or what it qualifies, help us to narrow it down to a few possibilities? or even one?

"Measures in our own power"? Now I'm even more confused!

Just what is it that you are accusing me of having done that you'd go to the lengths of writing me a stern letter? In putting me through such radical changes, I would hope you'd give me at least an inkling, if not a clue as to what it is that I've done!

But the rest of this sentence, your main point, your rhetorical coup d'état, your "given-A-and-B-thus-C -- all of it -- cannot be rendered into something upon which three different readers would agree as to what it means!

Well, it says something about the fact that we make mistakes. So? What if we do make mistakes? So what? We make mistakes -- er, I guess.

In the most basic form, you might say that So-and-So was foraging through the Savannah a hundred thousand years ago and made a mistake, thereby allowing herself to become lunch for a tiger and her cubs. Yes, we might agree to call whatever she did "a mistake."

But this is a mistake in only one specific context: given that So-and-So wanted to remain alive, she made a mistake in doing something that cost her her life. On any larger or smaller scheme of things, there is no mistake, here. A mistake, in this context as with any context, is a human value, that is, the opinion of one or more human beings. Separate the aspect of human opinion and there remains no such thing as "a mistake."

Ah, but let us jump ahead to your "therefore":

Therefore, you tell us, "humanity can not function as a constructive society." I disagree: any society, being the construct of the humans involved, is de facto constructive, is by definition constructive! Any other terms that you might wish to apply to "constructive" would necessarily be contingent upon the desires of those involved, and is not necessarily limited to (whatever it is you said about) acknowledging some so-called fact about reconcile mistakes. I don't even need to know what it is you're saying back there, because any assessment of the "constructive-ness" of a society -- any society -- is de facto dependent upon the collective desires and goals and values of that society.

Then you say, "humanity can not function as a constructive society, and is doomed to wallow in the cesspool of despair and unresolved conflict"? To this I respond that humanity cannot (not "can not" but cannot) function as "a society" period! Anthropologists report that humans ("humanity"), once having grown in number beyond a single family or clan of about 150 members (see note) will divide into two families or clans and will diverge, becoming more than one (or "a") society.

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In modern, civilized society, such unlikely "personages" as the President and First Family, the weather announcer, and even fictional television characters, when counted as "members of a person's clan," fulfil this prediction with the same precision that would be the case if the clans in question were literal tribes, struggling to survive in the jungles of the Amazon. The one notable exception is that two "virtual clans" in modern society are not competing for the same resources; thus conflict does not have the same real urgency (although it may seem that way to those involved, thus explaining PAM correspondent Chuck Shepherd's not infrequent reports of people killing one another over which television program to watch!).

This observation of fact is documented in Stephen Pinker's book, How the Mind Works, my copy of which is still packed away, but you can verify this fact in Pinker's widely available work.

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Finally (whew!), you insist that "humanity ... is doomed to wallow in the cesspool of despair and unresolved conflict"! Every word of this phrase, with the possible exception of the term "unresolved conflict," is fit for nothing other than poetic expression. "Doomed" and "wallow" and "cesspool" and "despair" are each emotionally charged buzz words fit only for the Letters to the Editor section of a daily newspaper, and is not language that actually says anything.

Meanwhile, "unresolved conflict" is a redundancy, given that all conflict is, by nature and by definition, unresolved. And will "humanity" as a whole, being genetically predisposed to divide into smaller groups once any particular clan exceeds about 150 members, is destined to be engaged in conflict (destined, not "doomed" -- unless you're an abject pessimist, in which case we in the Northern Hemisphere are "doomed" to have numerous sunny days this summer!). There is no way around this conflict, nor would very many of us like living in conditions that might prevent such conflict -- if any at all! Human conflict is here to stay, and if we approach it as though we were "doomed" to endure it, then we open ourselves to the risk of overreacting to any conflict which might come our way. Such overreaction, in many cases, would serve only to aggravate the conflict, introducing elements of disagreement that would not ordinarily exist.

In short, what little I can make of your criticism of me is unjustified in that you don't even try to prove your premises, much less your point. Furthermore, what little I can make of your conclusions are the exact opposite of what I can easily demonstrate to be the case!

This, therefore, is a classic example of what can happen if one does not exercise extreme caution when writing to a complete stranger with the intent of criticizing that individual's message.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Julie"
Subject: Re: to whom it may concern ...
Date: June 06, 2002 5:25 PM

Dear Julie,

You said:

Unlike some individuals, my identity (and address and phone number and real name and even birth name, not to mention my life's history and that of my family for several generations back) are plainly available within the confines of my work. We have nothing to hide and are not afraid to attach our names to our opinions, though we be slandered and vilified wrongly simply for going against the dominant paradigm -- which paradigm you here imply is somehow suppressed!?

Yes, I am not afraid to append my name to any of my opinions, because it will not be any time soon that people on a wide scale will read what I have to say and get a chuckle or even a good belly laugh at "just how firmly this writer's head happens to be lodged up a dark, dank cavity"! People do not often think this of my views, even my ideological opponents, simply because I am so entirely respectful of the ethic of truthfulness that I will spend hours, if need be, just to verify a single fact.

Unlike some others who, if my work resembled theirs, I'd perhaps be tempted to sign it "anonymous" as well!

Does I sense bitterness, here!?

Naw! I's jus' hallucinataitin'!

I do strongly suspect that someone does not trust my sense of candor. Is this because I am an atheist?

Ah! A new one on me, indeed! And to think that until now, I've suffered from the delusion that "points to ponder" were necessarily truths.

Silly, dilly me!

1. How come one of the most common complaints I get from both parents and students is that they never learned about Thomas Paine in the public schools? Why is this? Why is Paine the one figure we did not learn about in United States History when we studied the Revolution and the foundations of Liberty? And why would they leave Thomas Paine (of all people) out of a course on that subject?

2. When I realized I was not going to college, I got my leg-up in high school by arranging it so that I'd be taking only (1) required courses; (2) English electives; (3) two periods of shop each semester. Ah, but with all that English, more English, they told me, than anybody else in the school was taking, I never once encountered the name of Ayn Rand in school! I learned about her from my atheistic mother, who poured through all her works as summertime and bedtime reading. Also, unlike much of what Mom read, the Rand books remained in the house, on the family bookshelf, when she was done with them rather than being either given away or traded in for credit on new books.

3. Your unbalanced parenthesis also calls these two "perfect examples of overrated figures of freedom and liberty." While I cannot for the life of me determine precisely what you mean by this (your ability to form sentences being in an entirely different league than your vocabulary appears to be), I think I get the gist of what you are trying to say.

If you are saying that these two are "overrated" in some discussion regarding "freedom and liberty," my first question would be, "Where does Rand fit into any discussion of "freedom and liberty?" I can see how stumping for individualism might be seen as a somewhat warped sense of "freedom," similar to the "freedom" I hear about from those who would post an abridged presentation of the Protestant listing of the first stone tablets version of ten of the religious edicts of the ancient (and abjectly superstitious) tribe of the Hebrews, these wanting the "freedom" to practice their religion in a way that prevents others from being able to practice their religion.

But to fit what little I know about Rand's outlook into any understanding of Liberty that I've encountered would be quite an accomplishment, indeed! Liberty, as Locke, Wollstonecraft, Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, and many others have defined it, is inseparably tied into human cooperation, being something that is difficult, at best, for an individualist, and has an "apples and oranges" relationship to the context of an individual acting as an individual. What distinguishes Liberty (as these and others have defined it) from anything I've heard called "freedom" is the very sense of human cooperation tied into the concept of Liberty.

So while some concepts of "freedom" might be incidental to what Rand has said, she did not contribute much to our definition and understanding of the concept of Liberty!

I'm sure there are a few left who "believe in" a concept known as or described as "survival of the fittest," and I wish you luck in finding such individuals. The phrase "survival of the fittest" has, from the start, been shown to be a misnomer, an oversimplification that was used, unfortunately, by natural selection's advocates in teaching that concept to the scientifically naïve public.

The phrase "survival of the fittest," in my opinion, ignores two of the most important elements to make up an accurate, albeit simplified, understanding of natural selection. First, natural selection may select individuals in the short run, but no individuals ever survive in the long run. Only gene pools survive, and most of them, alas, go the way of individuals.

However, it is not necessarily the "fittest" gene pool that survives (how can they be seen as being "fit"?), but the gene pool that has shown itself best able to adapt to the specific conditions dished out by it's particular environment. A lot of times this can be attributed to sheer luck, such as the wind blowing in a specific direction when a certain infected large animal sneezed, thus carrying the mist from that sneeze away from a small family of something-or-other which, because it avoided infection, managed to survive a plague and carry its gene pool into the that environment which ends up surviving the plague (for whatever reasons).

Secondly, natural selection involves a complex series of events whose cycles always culminate not in one generation simply having brought its young into existence but in having brought its young to the point of being able to bear its own young.

By deliberately ignoring these and other crucial facts about natural selection, the opponents of evolutionary theory (almost always fundamentalist Christians) can attract a lot of attention in prompting large numbers of people whose vocabularies overshadow any semblance of conceptual understanding into thinking that Fundamentalist Christian dogma has ("once again!") successfully refuted the very science they pretend to understand!

The "evolutionary standpoint" of any organism's existence has only to do with it's appearance in the ecosystem through a long chain of often unrelated instances involving natural selection. Thus, if "human existence" even needs to be discussed as having an "evolutionary standpoint," there is the context in which it must be discussed: as pertains to natural selection. I can buy talk of this or that aspect of human existence, such as culture or education or morals, having "evolved," as a metaphor or even literally, but I don't think I quite understand what "from the evolutionary standpoint of human existence" could mean apart from talk of biological natural selection in the strict Darwinian sense.

Many living political figures try to dictate the actions and behavior of others, and influential persons in history, while they yet lived, attempted to dictate the actions of others. People in history can do nothing though, they being dead. One person can dictate to others only to the extent that the others let them. No political figure is more powerful than any constituency except when said political figure has bluffed the constituency.

Since for anybody a "more enlightened viewpoint" means simply having learned more than that individual knew before, then any truthful statement, by definition, will "necessarily lead to a more enlightened viewpoint."

I don't know what a "recycled statement" is.

I do know that the statement itself is what does the enlightening, when the individual seeking enlightenment encounters the statement and assimilates it into her or his viewpoint (or "takes it to heart," as they say). This being the case, it matters not who originally said the statement, be it Thomas Paine or John Locke or Mary Wollstonecraft, or perhaps some otherwise inane-sounding banter amongst Popeye the Sailor, Olive Oyl, Bluto, Wimpy, Swee' Pea (originally of uncertain parentage, but later assigned to Olive Oyl because of pressure from prudes of the Christian variety), Eugene the mischievous gremlin Jeep, the ever-loving Sea Hag, Pappy, and the Goons from Goon Islangd?

Besides, almost all of what eventually turns out to be enlightening falls into the category of "statements of others"; my only question is, what does "recycled" have to do with anything? or, does "recycled" add anything to "statements of others" that will significantly change the meaning of what you said, or did you simply slip the word recycled in here as a derogatory gesture?

It probably follows, then, that even if a statement is a "recycled statement" (again, whatever a "recycled statement" is), it can lead directly to a more enlightened viewpoint if and only if it is true. This is contingent on the term "recycled statement" not having some obscure "surprise" meaning that nobody could have counted on, since this is your term, not mine; since this term is found in no reference books that I have available to me.

Now, there is a sense that false statements (such as the several you have dished out to us in this letter and the one previous) can lead to a more enlightened viewpoint, but this is indirect, not direct: the discovery of a falsehood always leads to a more enlightened viewpoint. In fact, this is almost the entire point of scientific method: to offer our ideas to the scrutiny of our peers specifically for the purpose of inviting them to find something wrong with them (indeed, hoping they will find something wrong!). Thus knowing one more piece of alleged knowledge to be false, we know not to travel that way again.

This is the rudest, crudest, most despicable misrepresentation of Evolutionary Theory that I have ever encountered as an act of bigotry on a personal level.

Since I cannot but sense that you really and truly mean this, that is, that these are your heart-felt sentiments, I have what I consider the only appropriate response: I have slated this quip to be entered in our book-length and eventually-to-be-published reference work, "Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations." Look for it eventually, if not soon, in the "Scary Quotes" section, under the surname you have given.

I have also ended the "Forum" portion of our discussion with the following letter (which I completed before I completed this one). Further correspondence from you is set to go into a special folder that I briefly check approximately monthly.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <>
To: "Julie Hagerty"
Subject: Re: more info (than you want to hear)
Date: June 06, 2002 5:47 PM

Let me get this right, before I go around quoting you and have it wrong: Are you saying that the disease that my little brother was born with (a birth defect, actually), which was so painful that the state had to take him away from us because we would not be able to handle that part, which caused him (and any child who has this disease) to die a very painful by the time they're six or so -- and we can assume that since evolution is not true (in your world) that God made my little brother -- are you now suggesting that this was not a mistake?

Is this what you're saying? that God did not make a mistake, here?

At least the one or two humans to appear on Earth every decade who would do this to a child are roundly jailed for life once they are detected by any of the rest of humanity! In other words, all humans (except the one or two per decade who got a bad break from Natural Selection and would actually do this) would opt for jailing or even executing anybody who would cause a child to go through even a fraction of the pain I'm talking about!

I'm sure glad that the claim that your god exists is easily shown to be ancient myth direct from the stone-age, because I sure wouldn't want to live in a universe ruled by such an ogre!

In other words, I cannot conceive of a god, even a wicked god, who would let a child go through that! Even most wicked people draw the line somewhere, and have at least some heart.

Ah, but if this bio-system were the result of natural selection, we could expect to see a case such as my little brother now and then.

Indeed it can, but can you connect it to the existence of a deity? No you cannot.

That humans, by they time they are capable of acting, almost all show the ability to make what most of us would call choices between what most of us would call good and evil is self-evident. It is so clear, in fact, that I can see how primitives could notice this tendency and even want to explain it by saying that a god created this tendency in us!

Ah, but fortunately the existence of the tendency does NOT point to the existence of the god! I call this fortunate because I rejoice every time I see evidence that the claims for the existence of your ogre-god are ancient myths, created by the priesthood class of one of the big city-states and learned by the medicine-man class of a band of wandering desert nomads. I rejoice every time I see evidence that this myth, through a long and unlikely series of hits and misses became the official religion of the final phases of the largest and longest-lasting and most recent empire the world has seen. Enforced upon our ancestors on pain of death for at least 1,500 years, it is easy to see how so many moderns would defend the reputation of this myth on pain of death: that "habit" is literally ingrained into our culture! I rejoice when I see evidence of this because I certainly wouldn't want to live in a universe that had been created by this mythical creature, the Volcano God of Abrahamic monotheism!

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "viewing the non-tangible." If tangible means "able to be detected through the senses" and has an auxiliary meaning implying that tangible also includes "able to be detected by our instruments or surmised through our equations."

Thus, if something is "non-tangible" (or, as we say in English, "intangible"), then by definition we cannot view it, can we?

Far from there being such thing as "the most rational way" of doing anything which defies rationality, I would say that you describe the irrational!

It is for this reason that I continue to call "what we don't know" precisely that: what we don't know. I would rather do this than posit a realm of "intangible" an alleged realm about which so many hundreds of thousands of books have been written to explain this realm that I have almost completely lost respect for the species who keep buying these books, who keeps the authors and vendors rolling in wealth and, worst of all, political power! Political power is the bottom line, why they exploit you guys (and why they've exploited you and yours from the beginning of recorded history).

I agree, and this aspect of humanity I seek to be a part of, to "support," if you will, to try to bring to its fullest potential: that humanity which is purely human, with nothing false added to it under any pretense, and nothing natural taken from it as a falsely inflicted taboo of any sort.

I assume you are calling "spite" a wrong deed. I would not call it that, but let's substitute "commit wrong deeds" for "spite" and see where this leads.

This is one of the false additions that I described above. This is another example of calling evil good: what you are doing here is pronouncing wrong as "right" -- that is, worthy of forgiveness! This is where our trouble begins! Wrong is wrong, and we don't forgive it! We let it run its course and allow its fruits to grow. This is how we can continue to assess that a wrong is, indeed a wrong (we do not want to take it for granted that we simply know these things, as if they'd been handed to us etched onto a set of golden plates!), and (b) convey to our young that a wrong is, indeed, a wrong, that by doing certain things, certain results follow!

Ah, but for the sake of defending a dogma, a pet doctrine which, allegedly having to do with something "intangible" can therefore neither be proved nor disproved, some individuals would allow our children to watch certain wrongs get committed and then observe the authorities scrambling to prevent the ordinarily inevitable consequences from running their course!

And you are welcome to this giving up of the sense of "self." Perhaps that is your problem: rather than look at this "intangible" ( -- uh -- whatever) and seeing that you cannot say anything about it, you choose rather to believe the hocus-pocus of a group which claims to have special powers and special providence to be able to explain the unexplainable (read: "make shit up as they go along"). Perhaps with your craven lack of creativity, it's actually best that you go ahead and let them call the shots in your life.

This is unnatural, inhuman (and abjectly inhumane on their part), and I will not support it, however. I am a human and will continue to celebrate my humanity by living my human-ness (and by living in my human-ness) to the fullest.

Have a nice life, as it's the only one that we know that we get to live. All else is pure conjecture, most of which was done by primitive medicine men whose track record for being right on their various pronouncements is next to zero.

Since I have no reason to believe we get more than one life (the other life's existence having been suggested only by the above-mentioned primitives and merely parroted since), I will try to spend my only-ever life treating folks as if theirs is likewise their only-ever opportunity to exist.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <>
To: "Julie Hagerty"
Subject: Re: to whom it may concern ...
Date: June 06, 2002 10:34 PM

Ah, so what gets you off is picking on people whose ideology you find disagreeable.

And when you can't find any regular people you can get a rise out of ('cause under any other context you're utterly not worth the time or effort), you'll stoop to writing to someone whose job it is to speak or write on behalf of the people you hate!? Then you proceed to ridicule the people he defends -- just to gauge his reaction? knowing you'll get a reaction because it's the guy's job?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

I come across a lot of pathetic bigots in this line of work, but seldom do I meet one this puny!!


What can the victim of bigotry do to reduce its instance?

Two things:

First, she or he (or they, as a group) can work very hard to become upstanding and moral citizens, in an effort to render as lies any criticism against them that might relate to behavior.

Secondly, she or he (better, they, as a group) can try to understand what motivates those who hurl their spears of bigotry against them. If they cannot understand them, at least getting a good look at as many as you can fix your eyes on can familiarize yourself with the real issues.

Once again, we seem to be dealing with not somebody who has a beef against atheism (legitimate or otherwise) but rather someone who simply hasn't graduated from the fifth grade yet! Somebody who just likes to tease the kid nobody likes and watch him cry!

Even though this appears to be the case, rather than the atheism, it is an atheist issue in that we, the atheists, are "the kid nobody likes" and are thus open to this occasional fluke of behavior practices by a handful of people. Thus, we find ourselves back at the first element in trying our hardest to become outstanding citizens so that the only thing they can possibly have against us is the fact that we don't accept the claims of the religious leaders.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Julie Hagerty" <>
Subject: Re: ignore as much of this as necessary!!!!!!
Date: June 07, 2002 2:37 PM

Well, for that not being your intent (or so you would have us believe), you sure earned the unanimous nod from this side for being the person to be showcased as the most blatant example of an individual making fun of atheists just because it's fun to give people a tough time. You even admitted as such when you said,

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I just get a kick out of people who take themselves this seriously  (emphasis added)

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I've heard of people who do this, and when pressed for a need to justify their behavior, I've heard of them giving this as their reason: the people they're making fun of "take themselves too seriously." I don't have to understand it, that's not my burden; I need merely learn how to recognize it for what it is.

We can just picture you chuckling away at the thought of us actually falling for that line you just dished out in the above paragraph!

Our response, directly from Zappa's "Redneck Eats" movement:


Ha! Ha!

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.