Airing out

Let me begin by saying that I have always known that by publicly stating I am an atheist, a secular humanist, (I've described myself as a Bright in the past as well) I may lock myself out of some art & illustration jobs. There's an excellent xkcd cartoon about this, my very favourite. I know some people may not feel comfortable hiring an atheist who loves evolution to paint for them. Like many artists, I have my areas of interest and my specific abilities, and it's not going to suit everyone.

However, in some recent posts about a popular contest here on The Flying Trilobite, a young person spouted a series of lies about me. I responded, they backed down and deleted their long comment. I re-posted it for a couple of days, not appreciating the hit-and-run.

I then rationalized, perhaps I will remove the comments, and try to engage this person in dialogue via email. (Which I may no longer do. I will think about it.)

I've changed my mind again. You see, I don't like to think of myself as an aggressive and insulting atheist, though I believe for things to change, some ridicule of some beliefs is likely to help some of the time, just as conciliatory and across-the-table discussions will help some of the time.

I am going to re-post the exchange, to air things out on this blog. My contest was very very popular, I am happy to note, and now I am concerned that the higher-than-normal readership may have the wrong impression due to a single commenter's lying remarks. I've had a couple of responses from professional correspondents now who think I have called religious people "idiots" or "insane". I believe it is likely that in reading this person's comments, people have the wrong impression of me.

I always knew I may miss some art jobs and experiences based on my beliefs but I don't want to miss some based on lies about my beliefs and statements.

Comments are in chronological order below. I am only re-posting things that were originally publicly available on this blog, and not private exchanges. I am removing the commenter's name since to me they appear conflicted about science religion, and though they go off on these rants on a number of blogs, I believe they truly do love paleontology. I'll refer to the commenter as "MC" for "misguided commenter". Edited only for the amount of spaces between paragraphs, and the person's name.
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-The original post showing a painting and it's explanation is here.

-Keep in mind I don't specifically mention "religious people" and instead present the painting as an homage to atheist bloggers I admire, and mention how painting themes of an atheistic nature is difficult for me since I don't want to be overly mocking.

-MC comment #1:

I agree with you that religion is dangerous and Most "Christians" take it TOO far, though I have to speak from an Darwinist Christian much like Paleontologist Robert T. Bakker. I do NOT agree that it should be taken out completely, though, let me set this straight. I may be a Christian, but I am NOT religious!! I do NOT do the whole Zippity-doo-da and become an @$$ to others!! I live the Zen and by Reason and Science! We ARE having that problem in U.S. and we may have to do that, though technically we can't because of our First Amendment in our Bill of Rights. Basically, any, and all attempts to do so are Unconstitutional. We COULD Amend it, though I think that it NOT everybody, even, Democrats would agree that it would be the best option. Doing so may start another Civil War, sadly.

Anywho, I'm afraid that cutting out religion just isn't fair, as it's NOT everybody who does this. I feel the same way you do, but calling their belief in a God and Jesus insane, not only insults them, but me as well.

I think I am hurt by your suggestion that you sterotype people like me and Dr. Robert T. Bakker like that.

Don't get me wrong, I KNOW and AGREE of the dangers of religion, but simply persecuting and insulting their beliefs is the same thing they do.

There, simply, must be another way.

I'm sorry to say, Glendon, I respect and agree with Richard Dawkins from a scientific standpoint, but his insults about MOST Christian people that ARE good and Open-Minded, just hurts me that someone like him stereotypes religious groups because he is Aetheist. I may NOT always agree with him, but I still respect his opinions and yours.

Please, forgive my rant. :P

-My response:
Hi (MC),

I must admit I think if anyone should feel insulted it might be me after the accusations you have thrown my way. However, I'll give you some benefit of doubt, and make myself clear.

(Please feel free to correct me if I am misrepresenting my views from an earlier post.)

Bakker's book The Dinosaur Heresies is one of my all-time faves. Exploding dogmatic ideas and amazing art. That doesn't mean I need to agree with him on everything though, or with you on everything.

What exactly do you think I am saying your country's constitution should be changed to? I don't recall making any such assertions. I'm Canadian by the way.

I also haven't advocated persecuting anyone for their beliefs.

I don't specifically recall tweeting, blogging, IM-ing the moment where I said "belief in God or Jesus is insane" as you are saying I did.

I do think I have the right to call a belief of any kind an insulting name, or give it a compliment as I wish. One of my favourite things about Canada and the 'States is freedom of speech. I like to think I am measured in my responses, though I can't please everyone.

As for your opinion of Dawkins, my best response to read some of his work.

*sigh* If putting up a painting with chess pieces to describe my feelings about science and religion is going to lead to this many misunderstandings in a single comment of yours, please feel free not to come back to my blog (MC). You and I have now cluttered up enough contest entry space with this. Done.

-MC's response:
You're right, Glendon. ;( I'm sorry! It's just a sensitive topic for me and I will delete my response promptly. :( Dude, please forgive me.
(response deleted by commenter)

-My next response:
I don't appreciate the hit-and-run. I received your two apologies, but I am copy-&-pasting your original comment that you deleted.

Accusing me of saying things I never said doesn't get you off the hook just because of a simple "sorry" and deletion. Disagreeing with me is fine, though I will debate and argue back. If you really want to apologize, do it with your actions and stop throwing wrongful accusations around in the future.

Your words from the deleted comment above, minus some of the large spaces between paragraphs:
(I then re-posted MC's original comment from above.)

-After a couple of days, I deleted all the comments from this exchange.

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I'm not sure where to go with this next. I'm upset that my professional reputation could possibly be injured by a drive-by set of ridiculous comments about things I never said. What is likely, is that I will erase the comments from MC in the future as soon as they come. I'm not about to institute moderation for everyone for one person.

I hope the words above will clear the air somewhat, and that the painting can be seen as hardly provocative of the comments this person threw at it.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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