Well, the atheist and skeptic sites are all abuzz with this bit of news about a university atheist group’s sign being vandalized (btw, I don’t care if the message was “friendly”, it’s still vandalism however passive aggressive the tone).I have two cents about it.
Some people are crying “hate crime” and other people are crying “calm down, it’s not a hate crime”. Whatever. I think atheists are justified in being pissed regardless of the definition of the crime and the response to it. And if something similar was done to a sign belonging to a Christian group or a gay rights group etc, the action would certainly have caused outrage among the masses and the crime would still be vandalism.
This is what bothers me though: the contact information for the atheist group was cut off the bottom of the sign. And a sign with contact information does not force secularism, atheism, or anything else on anyone.
We probably can’t know who defaced the sign. There’s every possibility that some shit-disturber defaced the sign to get the atheists and the Christians pissed off at each other. Or maybe some Christian did do it. Maybe someone thought it would be funny. Or something else. Whoever defaced the sign apparentlty wanted to make sure that people couldn’t contact the group for more information — i.e., censorship. I think that’s a pretty telling detail…
My ire isn’t really about the sign (although word on the street is that it was sort of expensive — canvas), it’s about what the defacement represents: “I don’t acknowledge your rights to believe something different from me and I will prevent you from trying”. A violation of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
I don’t give a crap if Christians write a blog, make fun of us, go to church and complain about our existence (heck, we do it — except the church thing). But I wish they wouldn’t try to circumvent the freedom of our own assembly. Judging by the vast number of churches and religious groups and signs advertising same, I’d say we’re not interfering terribly with their right to do so. I’ll certainly take anyone to task for promoting misinformation about science, atheism, skepticism, or other, but I would not deny anyone their constitutional right to choose religion. I’d appreciate it if they didn’t try to take away a person’s constitutional right to not choose religion.