The Sword of Tragedy
So here you go. Exactly the kind of hate mail page that gets me in trouble. And this sort of thing has been happening a lot lately. What I’m talking about is the worry-free, back-n-forth between me and the believer, then suddenly, tragedy! All fun is erased and I’m left rummaging through the pile of twisted bones and dead loved ones in an attempt to salvage what’s left of my soul.
Take a look and see if I’ve called this out just as it is, or if I deserve to have the heat turned up even higher in hell. Your comments on this are especially appreciated.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!


28 thoughts on “The Sword of Tragedy”

  1. Bob, I think your description of the behaviour («I have braces on my legs, how dare you question God») is spot on, as well as the observation about the «Passion of the Christ» argument for believing. I am not sure, though, whether the latter is the reason for the former. Maybe emotional appeals intended to shut down reasoning are just a human impulse. And they work, and in turn, make Christianity successful.

  2. She seems to have the same dialouge as any other Christian on Earth

    Christian – “Stop mocing God its not funny”

    Atheist – ” Yes it is, and I don’t believe in God”

    Christian – “No its not and i’m iffended, but i love you”

    Atheist – ” thats why it’s funny, please present your argument or evidence for the existence of God”

    Christian – “Heres my evidance and so your going to hell!!!….jesus still loves you”

    Atheist – “Bible verses aren’t evicence, please do better ”


  3. Bah! I had more up there inside brackets….apparantly that deletes them, oh well….you still get my point

  4. I have an alternative thought to bobs thesis that the cause of their “don’t puck on me, I’m bereaved/crippled/mental” argument is the example set in their bible. I’ve noticed that the churches seem to like targeting people who are down on their luck or under stress. They know that desperate people are more likely to grasp at the straw they’re offering.

    Chances are, they’ve latched onto Christianity “because” of their bad luck so many god-botherers will have similar sob stories.

  5. I think you nailed it precisely, Bob! One thing that reinforces religious beliefs are the feeling sorry for one’s self because our mothers petted us with her love and false praise to the point that now as adults, we must believe the very same things that momma believes and who else in the world knows best above our mamma’s? (The one who taught us to talk and to walk and wiped our noses and our butts and stood by us in every situation.) Momma believes in jesus and he loves us as much as momma does, so who else is there to believe in?
    The very same person that momma believes in. It’s so very hard for most people(especially grown adults), to realize that they have been indoctrinated by their parents, grandparents and religious authorities, because they all too fell for the same gig.

  6. Especially loved this one… It’s so easy to get wrapped up in someones tragedy and ‘nicely’ yield to their views on account of them. You did a fabulous job calling her out. Pity she had her fingers in her ears and was loudly going “LA LA LA LA” while you were pointing out her obvious crazies

  7. I love how she thinks you actually think she sits at a computer tied up in bondage (both the straitjacket she mentions and with her wrists tied behind her, which you didnt – maybe she really does play around at getting tied up, which would make her not all bad) typing with her nose.

    Ever actually try to type with your nose while tied up? I have, it ain’t easy.

  8. I could have sworn Linda said she types with her left hand and has braces on her legs … in her next to last e-mail. Let me check again.

    Yep, still there. It must be that old debbil satan playing a trick on Bob, and on me, and all of us and our computers.

    Oh well. I just wanted you to know that I do sometimes wear leg braces though, more often than not, I use a wheelchair when I go out. I’ve been crippled by multiple sclerosis. But that doesn’t make me a mush-head like Linda, who may or may not use leg braces. I am, of course, an atheist, as are most of the intelligent people I admire.

    I had an aunt who also had MS. It’s been more than 30 years since she died, but people who remember her recall how she was a sad, miserable woman who was always on the verge of tears wondering what “secret sin” she committed to be so punished by god. Her one comfort was that she “knew” she’d get angel wings in heaven to make up for being unable to walk on Earth. Poor thing, she lived in Appalachia, surrounded by equally stupid and deluded people, and couldn’t help believing such nonsense.

    One thing I can be thankful for is that I don’t have to live with such irrational feelings of guilt and instead can just live my life doing the best I can and enjoying it as much as possible as long as possible.

  9. @Dare: Even if someone has a true sob story, it is often trotted out irrelevantly, especially when the theist is losing the argument. Why is it necessary to know she has braces on her legs? Even if she thinks Bob thinks she’s in a straight jacket typing with her nose? I often get the sob story trotted out despite its complete irrelevance to the discussion.

    And yes, I know that so many of them will try to make it relevant with “I was sick, but my faith in Jesus made me better/helped me through it”. Well, that’s great, but we were discussing the evidence that supports the existence that any gods exist, much less yours. When I’m unhappy and depressed, I have a wonderful Mary Sue Fantasyland I go to where everything happens just the way I like it and it makes me feel better. But I’m not deluded enough to believe it’s objectively real or to inflict it upon the outside world in detail and demand that people cater to it and pretend it’s real so I won’t feel challenged. The fact that belief made you feel better is not evidence that that belief is true, and the only reason you’d bring that up is to try and shut down my side of the argument using emotion, since you obviously don’t have solid facts or arguments to fight with and refuse to admit defeat.

    No, Bob, I think you’re right on the mark with this. Too often you get the sob story irrelevantly brought out that way. True or not, it doesn’t matter either way, because it is usually an attempt to stop criticism–if not by guilting you, then by making you worried about the reaction of other people to your criticism of a poor little sob story person.

    My mom pulled the same thing on me at my brother’s GF’s brother’s graduation party. My bro’s GF had been in a wreck and survived by her own quick wits, but everyone was naturally spewing all sorts of god-bother and miracle-talk as if she’d been directly hit by a meteor and come out without a scratch. I mentioned IN PRIVATE to my mom why I thought that was absurd, as well as the fact that drunk drivers (it was one of those accidents) often survive where their victims die, so where is god in all of that? She TOLD THE GF’S MOM what I said, and then both of them stood there taking godly pot-shots at me and grinning with complete smugness, knowing that under the circumstances (family tragedy, family party, public discussion) that I couldn’t defend myself without immediately being attacked as the “bad guy” by everyone there and possibly alienating both families forever. My mom took advantage of someone else’s sob story to attack me while preventing me from fighting back (because she knows damn well that in private, even with both of them there, I wouldn’t hold back and she didn’t have a leg to stand on). It’s an incredibly dishonest way to try and win when you don’t deserve to because you don’t have evidence or solid arguments. The moment someone turns to appeals to emotion, it’s a strong indication that they’ve already lost the argument.

    But this almost does sound like a diversion with these letters. Is it my imagination or did she say in her final letter that she actually doesn’t have braces and really types with both hands? So you’re crippled, but you’re not actually?

  10. You know what gets me? I work hard, I win the damn case and then my client (or his family) says, “Praise Jezuz” or “Thank God.” I always want to say, “there was no co-counsel, you know.” But what’s the point? They’d rather thank their invisible friend. I’m so tired of being the only atheist in the room. Love, love this website.

  11. The Right Reverend Normal Bob Smith,

    You nailed her, and she got mad, and ad-hom’d you. That’s typical of people who don’t have any clue about arguing, and have no intention processing your words. She was mad from the start, and wanted to play the “sensible” one. She sounded like a young woman at first, and by the end she sounded like a 20-something going on 70. A crotchety old lady. A “do-you-kiss-your-mother-with-that-mouth” old lady.

    She ended up on the defensive by the second letter. Her I’m-not-religious-but He’s-My-Savior bait was not bit and it stung.

  12. Shannon? Is that you pretending to be Linda Connolly?
    Mel Gibson is almost as bad as the Pope, letting child molesters continue on with their “godly works”.

    Good observation on how all people end up using suffering and tragedies to cop out in the end. I have observed people do this too. Why is that?

  13. Aaaaaah-hahahahahahaha … Oh man, this is the best. I just followed a link from FSTDT, and I am so glad I did.

    Now let’s take a look at our friend Linda … She starts off by implying that you fail at comedy. And notice “it’s not funny”, not “I don’t find this funny”. Who appointed her spokesperson for your entire audience? I certainly don’t remember voting for her.

    Then of course, if you disagree, you’re a liar, and anyone else who disagrees is also a liar. Gee thanks, lady. How about this: It offends me to be called a liar by someone who has never met me. So shut up, Linda. You’re offensive.

    She’s just such a hypocrite (and apparently a liar herself – leg braces? Yes or no?) – when you won’t back down even when she plays the martyr card, she does an about face from “jebus lubs you!!” to “yer gonna buuuuuuurrrrrrn”.

    Feh. A pox upon her and all her kind.

  14. Demonhype, at the risk of alienating the two families, you should have continued to present your argument (but I’m not implying you were wrong for what you did at all). Yes, there would have been that argument you couldn’t win because you can’t change crazy. Yes, you would have left feeling like you’d lost a lot. But those people would come around again and you wouldn’t be out on your ass forever, especially if they’re really forgiving Christians like they wish they were. The upside would have been that despite the ugly occurrence, maybe one or more of them would have thought about and investigated your arguments. I liken this to the ongoing need for Bob’s site — even while the Hatemail keeps flowing, the seeds are there to help foster a less crazy, more reasonable world. People don’t like it, may even hate him for it. I think the next opportunity you have to be in that situation, you should be prepared, and go up against your worst fears of alienation in the name of reason and for the sake of their lives, so they won’t be wasted in fear and madness if it can at all be helped.

    Bob, good job and thanks for the read!

  15. Fantastic! You were at no point out of line. You taught me how to deal with certain tactics nutters may use, like the ‘Tragedy card’, and for this gift of knowledge, I thank you! =) May God be less…

  16. Well, to tell the truth, I was kind of gobsmacked that my mother–who accuses me of “attacking” her and being a “bully” whenever I disagree with her however politely–would be hypocritical enough set me up in a situation wherein I could be bullied, or that she would have repeated what I said to these people (since I suspect she’s a little embarrassed about my atheism, and I know she doesn’t like people who betray what others tell them in confidence–she hates Linda Tripp for that reason). The moment those two hens approached me and started loudly and obnoxiously repeating what I told my mom in confidence and spewing poorly-conceived apologetics at me, part of my brain went numb with shock at the situation. I was stunned that my mother actually stooped to such a cheap shot just for one chance to feel like she had one-upped me. I had more respect for her and thought she was better than that. Guess I was wrong.

    Most frustrating thing is that to this day she denies it ever happened. She denies repeating my words to Girlfriend’s Mommie and she denies smugly browbeating me along with Girlfriend’s Mommie. As far as she’s concerned, she’s always been a fair and balanced debater and has never resorted to any cheap shots, whereas I am the epitome of bullying and close-mindedness. Of course, revisionist history is nothing new with her. She’s also convinced herself I have always been an atheist and therefore never read all her woo-ist books, and therefore she must chase me around with her Edgar Cayces and Sylvia Browne’s and such until I agree with her. She refuses to believe I ever believed the same things she does, and she refuses to believe that I’ve already read her precious books and have rejected them. It’s worse than those Christians who pretend like you can’t ever have even HEARD of Jesus before they dropped the name to you!

    I don’t know that my mom would have booted me out though. I wouldn’t have alienated our family, just theirs, and my mom would have been pissed and accused me of ruining GF’s brother’s special day (which I didn’t really want to do, since GF’s bro’s a nice kid and it’s not his fault our moms decided to be bitches). If it ever happens again–which is unfortunately unlikely due to the fact that our families have been alienated anyway because GF is a romantic twat who is really in love with being in love and has written an ideal romantic script for the two of them in which our family plays no part whatsoever and it’s been that way since the beginning of their relationship and only getting worse–I will definitely launch myself straight into the fight.

    Of course, by that time I hope to have my own place where I can retreat later and not have to deal with any crap later–and if they choose to disown me because of it, then good riddance to them all.

  17. Demonhype, you make a great point. It commend you for not ruining their special day. Having your own place to retreat to would definitely have helped. Luck; know if you lived anywhere near me, I’d back you up in a heartbeat! Good (reliable, trustworthy, etc) comrades are tough to come by.

  18. Evidently Linda picks a lot of fights on the Interwubs – “my last round of ridiculous was with a witch and they think they are holy” – sounds like that scrap didn’t turn out too well for her either.

  19. Alice–that’s true about good comrades! That’s what amazes me about the whole “why do atheists have any need to get together” crap from the religious side, and even from my mom. When you’re the only atheist in the room (or the society), the religious majority tends to gang up on you and try to stifle you with sheer numbers when they fail to defeat you with sound logic or argument–yet they fail to see why it might be, at the very least, nice and grounding or even comforting for us to be around other unbelievers, for whom we don’t need to put on a facade of faith and can be ourselves, and for whom we settle our differences with sound argument and debate rather than bullying and irrelevant emotional manipulation (like our friend with the “leg-braces-but-not-really” attempt to shame Bob into backing off–and look how well it almost worked on him! “Am I a bastard?” No, Bob, you are not. Your opponent is a dishonest coward who is trying to take advantage of your basic goodness to force a retreat.)

    That’s what sucks about living in the boondocks–atheists within range are usually silent and stifled (therefore, invisible and hard to find), while most open atheists are well out of range of any kind of physical meeting. That’s why I live on the internets these days. 🙂

  20. Well, it’s been a while since I visited ol Bobby Smith! Figured I’d chime in for a second.

    I actually god quite a kick out of Linda Conelly’s comments. At first you’d think you’re dealing with a grown up (foolishly). But the amount of times that Linda mentions that her family didn’t approved of her contacting you is quite comedic. It’s either “my family agrees with what I’m saying to you” or “My family was opposed to me contacting you”.

    It’s like this chick runs everything by her “family” before she does anything. lol. Grown up??? I think nay.

  21. To Linda Connoly,
    I thought (and think, still) that it is funny, very very funny! As a matter of fact, so does my wife, she thinks its FUNNY! Really! Oh, and my son and at least one of my two daughters.
    If you are keeping score, this is Bob 4 and Linda 0. Ouch! Bottom of the 9th Linda!

  22. All Christians eventually resort to, “Oh, yeah?? Well YOU’RE going to hell, so THERE!” when they run out of other arguments. They can start out all sweet and nice and full of compassion, acting like they’re really interested in your opinions, but as soon as they realize that they aren’t going to win you over to Jesus, out come the cat claws. Christians always end up revealing their true, hateful, jealous, revenge-fueled nature in these conversations, whether in emails or in real life. If heaven is going to be filled with these people, then I am glad to have no part of it!

  23. Just wanted to point out, too, that you may see yourself as a small voice, but there is a humor in your messages that people like Hitchens, Dawkins, Acharya, et al, don’t have. They’re the ones to go to for serious, scholarly information, but I come here for the sheer absurd fun of it. Hate Mail, Sheeple, Amazing Strangers, Super Chicks…you aren’t gonna find any of that on their sites! And it’s YOUR web page, not any of theirs, that is #3 in a Google search of the word “Jesus.” I think your Internet “voice” is a lot louder than you think!

  24. Why do Xtians always threaten you with Muslim radicals? It’s not as if Xtian radicals haven’t ever killed anybody…

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