What constitutes offense?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by N4mddissent, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    Recently, ads purchased by an atheist group in Iowa were placed on buses there. However, the bus company received so many complaints of people taking offense at the ads, they have now removed them. Even the governnor, Chet Culver, stated he was "disturbed" by the ads and could understand why others would be as well. Some people went so far as to refuse to ride the buses with the ads.

    What message did the atheists put on the bus that was so offensive and caused so much resentment?

    "Don't believe in God? You are not alone. " And then had a link to the website of Iowa atheists and freethinkers.

    So, the existence of atheism inherent offends people? I'm curious how people, theists and atheists on this site feel about this situation. Do any theists here also find the ad offensive? Do you think the people were justified in their outrage and their successful effort to silence speech in this case?

    At what point does offense begin? Obviously name-calling is offensive. Calling someone stupid or evil because of their beliefs, I believe most would see as over-the-line. But what about reasonable criticism of ideas? Is debate possible, or does taking the opposing stance in argument make you inherently offensive? And in the case presented here, is it unavoidable- since a reminder of the very existence of atheists seems offensive to enough people to force a company to refund money and "disturb" a governor?

    I would also like to note the admirable statements and position by local conservative church leaders about the issue mentioned at the end of the article.
     
  2. KittenKoder
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    KittenKoder Senior Member

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    The disturbing part of this is that it was the blind followers who pushed them to remove the ads, according to the article even some of the religious leaders said they should have been left alone and not removed.
     
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  3. N4mddissent
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    N4mddissent Active Member

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    Yeah, I tried to give them a nod at the end of my post. I hope people will voice their opinion on this. I tend to see a lack outspokeness, in the context of this forum where many are outspoken about many things, as indicating acceptance if not approval. I hope that few here approve of this incident.
     
  4. wvulax
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    wvulax Member

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    but yelling at people god hates fags, and harassing people on the sidewalk of every city big and small isn't offensive.

    theists make me sick with their flexible moral codes
     
  5. mattskramer
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    mattskramer Senior Member

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    I’m agnostic and I think that the in the name of free speech and free enterprise, the bus has the right to have that sign – just as if a Christian group rented advertising space for its sign. I read the article but I’m not clear on exactly why the sign was removed. Was the bus physically threatened? Was it ordered to do so by some government agency? Did the bus remove the sign out of thinking that a boycott might result?
     
  6. KittenKoder
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    KittenKoder Senior Member

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    It sounds like a few zealots did the whining really, across the country more people are walking or biking to save money so ridership going down is no surprise, the timing was just coincidental but boosted fears of the bus company.
     
  7. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I would suppose that the offensive nature of the advertisement is the suggestion that anyone who is not athiest does not think for themselves. Personally, I dont get offended by such statements. Anyone who thinks they think freely because they hold to a position and others dont because they hold to another are usually the least free thinking people around.

    So yes, when a group advertises to tell people they are stupid and unable to think freely, I think its quite likely to cause people to be offended.
     
  8. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Theists are one of the first ones who say those things are offensive. The Westboro group doesnt have any support among 99.99% of religious people. And its quite dishonest to claim otherwise.
     
  9. PLYMCO_PILGRIM
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    PLYMCO_PILGRIM Gold Member

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    I dont really like the behavior you highlighted in that incident at all.

    I also like your signature quote ;).
     
  10. wvulax
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    wvulax Member

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    I'll give you the Westboro group point, but I still say that this "offense" is ridiculus when compared to any evangelical who goes out and hands me propaganda or yells at me that I'm not complete without Jesus or that I will burn in hell without him. I've heard religious leaders claim that I have a void in my life because I don't go to church.

    If it's ok to hand out a pamphlet that says I will burn in firy agony for the rest of eternity unless I act like them, why is it so offensive to advertise a group offering solace in numbers?
     

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