What Hurts The Most

Even though I am a rational teen, I occasionally have my “teen moments.” For example, I just went to see a Taylor Swift/Rascal Flatts concert where I screamed the entire time. However, yours truly was not paying attention when she was getting ready for the concert and ended up wearing a Darwin 08 T-shirt to a concert full of drunken, country lovin’ fundamentalist folk! Not a smart idea considering the fact that I am 5’2 and unaccustomed to physical violence. Well… except for soccer. Girl’s high school soccer is definitely a contact sport.  Anyway, I ended up only getting some dirty looks. I was still paranoid so I bought a Taylor Swift t-shirt and changed.

This really got me thinking about the fact that I have to be careful about what I say and do as an atheist and skeptic. I mean all it would take is an ignorant drunk person remembering who Darwin was and I could have been in trouble. And trust me the concert was filled with drunken folks. This is not the first time I did something stupid like this. I have been threatened with physical violence a couple times because I wouldn’t shut my big mouth (my dad says I have a alligator mouth and a humming bird behind). I couldn’t help it! I am physically unable to shut up when someone is being irrational! One time I even offended a dude with my evolve fish necklace, we were at my Academy’s open house and he took his daughter and left (that poor little girl…). I never saw her again. That sucked because the last thing that I want to do is turn religious people away from science.

Has anyone else had to deal with situations like this? Anybody find themselves watching what you say about skepticism and who you say it to?

I will have to remember to dress appropriately when I go with my cousin Jon to see Metallica at the Wachovia center January 17th! (Happy Birthday Jonny!)  Of course, something tells me a Darwin t-shirt might be okay on that evening…


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  1. jamesd
    September 15, 2008 at 6:48 am —

    It happens far too often. For one reason or another I seem to have collected a small number of quite religious friends. Just the other day I was puzzling over whether to turn off Sagan’s Cosmos when one person called around…

  2. September 16, 2008 at 2:56 pm —

    I think this censorship us rational folks sometimes feel like we have to do is linked to the whole cultural idea that we just can’t criticize religion. I love one of my friend’s articles here on why we shouldn’t shelter religion from criticism. I think tolerance is a great thing, but tolerance doesn’t equal immunity from criticism. I think our culture is really confused about what is ok to say and what is not, with regard to people’s beliefs (and anything to do with woo is in that category!).

    Just the other day I was having a conversation with someone who believes in chi. He was telling me how he “cured” someone of their cold by placing his hands on him (reiki-style I guess). In keeping with my latest desire to not censor myself because my lack-of-beliefs might offend someone, I commented (as benignly as I could) on how I didn’t believe in that stuff. He proceeded to get flustered and angry, and stated that because I don’t believe in it, I surely must be limiting myself, and my true potential. I asked him why he thought that. He was unable to answer. The truth is, he was still assuming he was correct in his beliefs – only if his world view was correct would I be limiting myself. He is someone who speaks vehemently against religious folks, and yet he sounded exactly like them.

    My point is that I think it’s usually worth it to openly disagree with people on these topics. You stay true to yourself that way, and plus you might get someone thinking about something they otherwise wouldn’t. I see it as a day-to-day thing, picking my battles as I go along. And wearing a Darwin shirt is pretty cool (and brave), I have to say.

  3. September 16, 2008 at 3:36 pm —

    I’m still afraid to wear my “Scarlet A” T-Shirt to school. If I do wear it, I cover it up with a jacket which is completely besides the point of wearing it.

    *hangs head in shame*

  4. September 16, 2008 at 3:39 pm —

    I have to admit, I have a shirt with “Intelligunt Desine” on it… and I don’t wear that to certain places either! I feel shame every time I veto it, too.

  5. September 17, 2008 at 3:12 pm —

    I wear my “Scarlet A” badge on my bag quite prominently. I am known for my badges 😀

    I have, when asked by curious friends (or teachers!), nearly always answered that it stands for “Amnesty International” or something similar, though. If I just came out as an atheist, as I’m sort of meant to by wearing the badge, I’m sure people wouldn’t mind. Maybe.

    And I live in the UK. Things are getting worse over here, quickly 🙁

  6. unkempt&overcaffeinated
    September 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm —

    I can’t wear my Darwin ‘O8 T-shirt, or any other T-shirts, to school because I have a uniform. But one kid in my class got a waiver signed to excuse him from the uniform policy.

    My math teacher asked him how, as the only way you can get a waiver is if it is against your religion to wear the uniform.

    The student replied that it was against his religion… which prompted the question: What’s your religion?

    “You ever heard of pastafarianism*?” the student asked.


    Well he told us a story about the flying spaghetti monster…and how people of this religion believe that the world was made by a leperchaun and a tree and how pirates give out candy. *

    Well. That didn’t go so well with the teacher. He said that kids were just making up religions and you can’t just make one up.

    The kid replied by saying that it was a real religion, and that it had a website.

    And that math teacher just blew up on him. Saying that having a website doesn’t make it a real religion and that the kid was wasting his time ans so on…

    So websites don’t count, but big old books with pretty stories in it count? That doesn’t seem fair to me, especially since books kill trees.

    So the lesson of the story is that even if I could get a waiver and wear my Darwin Tshirt, I probably wouldn’t because I don’t like to argue with people who determine the grade on my report card. And recycle. That’s also an important lesson.

    * sorry if I spelled he name wrong or got the story wrong, I am simply repeating what I heard in that math class. (what an interesting lesson indeed)

  7. Joy Wang
    September 18, 2008 at 8:33 pm —

    I saw an Americans United sticker on the side of my English teacher’s desk. I sit right next to it, and it reads, “Teach, don’t preach.” Makes my day. It is really out of the way, so only I can see it, plus a few other people near me.

    I usually come out as an atheist w/i the first few weeks of school, so most people are cool about it, and thankfully, I have yet to get really bashed about my atheism. I did have a teenager tell me when I was five that I would burn in hell. Permanently turned me off from religion. Aside from that, though, I have some religious friends (Christian, Jewish, one Muslim, one Buddhist, and a couple more that I’ve likely forgot to mention) that accept that I’m an atheist like I accept that they’re religious.

    I will have to agree w/ darwinfan’s first comment: no one should have to censor their ideas simply because other people’s belief systems don’t conform to it.

    Chris Hyland: Sorry to hear that the UK is going downhill. I always thought our British friends were considerably saner than most people over here. 🙁

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