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from: Sally Davis  -  4-30-2007

Okay, I've been gone.  All I have to do is go away for a few days without internet access and what happens?  All hell breaks loose.  :-)

We just got back to Raleigh from Wilkesboro, NC and Merlefest.  I see that the Escapade has not been without drama.  I cannot allow that sort of drama to pass without offering my two cents on the subject.  I am so very sorry this happened to you, Paul, and I understand completely your feelings on the matter.  I got to thinking about this, and compared it with what we experienced at Merlefest.  For the unenlightened, Merlefest is a bluegrass festival (a large one), which I attended because I love my husband dearly and he loves bluegrass.  I, on the other hand, will probably destroy the next banjo I hear.  (It's just not my thing, folks.)

Anyway, there was some religious music there.  It was inoffensive.  On Sunday, they had one stage entirely devoted to religious stuff - we simply didn't go there.  At other venues there was religious music played to some extent all weekend long.  Heck, one of the guys we heard play was one of the composers of "Mary Did You Know."  However, it was religious ROOTS music and as such, very different than religious music intended to convert folks.  I listened to it and enjoyed it in the same way I could enjoy Jewish folk music, for example.

What happened at the Escapade was not that.  It was a case of the xtian majority flexing their newly discovered muscles.  They've been winding up for this for years.  When I was deep into fundyism, I remember being told over and over again that we were the oppressed minority and that "they" wanted to silence us, make us ineffective, and even kill us.

I understand and feel the same sort of anger/rage that PJ feels about this issue and that no doubt Paul felt when it happened.  The problem is (I love you PJ, don't get po'd at me) this.   When bullies begin bullying, the worst thing you can do is respond with anger.  That's my knee jerk response.  It's the one I always tend to reach for.  However, it VALIDATES the bully.  He can then say, "Aha!  See what happened.  The devil is fighting our message. The atheists hate us. They want to kill us."  That is exactly what they would think.

So, ripping off somebody's face is not going to do any good.  All it does is force you to take more blood pressure medication and it validates them.

 We have to trivialize them.  Somehow.  Any way we can.  As often as we can.

We have to systematically point out the ludicrous nature of their beliefs. Over and over and over.  We have to make these statements publicly, until they are hammered into their heads.  I intend to buy every reasonably worded t-shirt I can find with a freethought message (the Freedom From Religion Foundation has some dandies, and there are others on the web.)  The only one I have right now says "Faith is believing what you know ain't so.  - Mark Twain"  but I am going to rectify that situation in a few minutes and do some serious ordering.  Being a fulltimer, that means some of my other clothes must go (something in, something out), but I am going to be at the Fall Escapade and you will all know me. I will be the little gray haired lady wearing the freethought tee, with the truck that has a fish on it that says "dinner."

You know, Dave bought a shirt that said on the front "Nobody died when Clinton lied."  He has gotten so much response from wearing that shirt. People literally have stopped him and thanked him for wearing it.

I am no longer going to let people send me religious spam without responding in kind.  I'm going to look seriously at a way to point out to them how stupid what they believe in is - a way to laugh at them.

I was accosted this weekend by some teenagers passing out tracts at Merlefest (off the grounds, while walking to our truck).  I thought about this after it happened (we refused the tracts), and I am really thinking about how I am going to approach this in the future.  I think I'm going to do something like look at the tract and say, "You don't seriously believe this silly nonsense, do you?  In 2007?  You believe in an old guy in the sky who watches what you do? Didn't you quit believing in Santa when you were in the first grade? You poor baby.  Did your mommy make you come out here and do this?"  And then smile and walk on.

And as far as the Escapade goes, I really wish somebody (Paul, are you game?) would get up there and do John Lennon's "Imagine."  I realize there are all sorts of issues - it's not an open mic situation, but I wonder what would happen if somebody just repeatedly auditioned with the same song, "Imagine" again and again. What would happen if some of us repeatedly REQUESTED it?

One other thing about this.  If this happens in the fall, would anyone be game to go with me (or separately - which might well be way more effective) to whoever is in charge of the whole Escapade and tell them we're offended. Just say something like Paul did in his letter.  "I'm a SKP - number so-and-so - and this offends me.  I feel excluded.  I don't like it and if it continues, I will begin doing something else during the Escapade week." Not angry, not yelling, not ripping their face off.  Just quietly telling them that this is offensive and we don't like it.  Whoever said it's a business is not wrong.  It is, and even though I believe the Peterson's lean more to freethought than to seriously devout xtianity - they are running a business.  They do not want to make the xtian crowd mad.  We have to convince them that the alternative is making us mad, and that we will vote with our feet.

This bothers me more than I like for it to, as you can tell from the length of this message.  (Sorry 'bout that.)  I'm getting to the point that I'm not sure about anything regarding America except keeping my passport current.  I do know that ignoring or placating or trying to play nice with these people is fatal.  They will eat us alive if we let them.   And it's entirely possible that they will eat us alive anyway, whether we let them or not. I'm not certain that the situation is not beyond rectifying, frankly.

Dave and I were appalled and dismayed by the bumperstickers we saw on cars this weekend.  (Bluegrass is a lily-white, mostly redneck sort of activity and attracts a very Republican crowd.)  We've been Alaska way too long.  :-)

Book recommendation:  Michelle Goldberg's _Kingdom Coming_.  Oh my, she is spot on.  Read it and weep.  The only good news is her slightly more optimistic update at the end.

Sally, ballless  but a bringer of war, nonetheless  :-)


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