The Useful Tool of Mockery

street preacher
Street Preacher we call Nano-tech (because he also preaches about Nanotechnology)

Yesterday was the first good weather day to really hang at Union Square, and everyone knew it. They were all out. The crazies & college students waving “FREE HUGS” signs, skateboarders, musicians, junkies, drunks, and I even saw Richard Edson there. And of course the first beautiful day of the year wouldn’t be complete without a street preacher yelling about the damnation & insignificance of us all.

I’d seen him before, about 2 years ago appearing from the crowd, then absorbed by another group of loud mouth fundies. But this time it seems he worked up the courage to take on the crowd all by himself on this lovely afternoon.

As I’m sitting there watching him carry on, the crowd is slowly but surely turning against him. One group sitting on the steps starts heckling, then another group are dancing around him with “FREE HUGS” signs, teasing him with unlimited hug offers, while even another group who were sitting listening to hippies on guitars turn it into a “Praise Satan” circle. And the preacher just kept on preaching.

Bible in hand he preached about how because you have to teach children NOT to sin, that’s evidence we’re born evil, and how God wishes everyone could go to heaven but “would you invite someone to your home who didn’t love you?” and on and on and on and on while I videotaped.

Richard Edson photographing Street Preacher – Mar 8, 2009
Nano-tech the street preacher being photographed by Richard Edson

Then this girl who’d been sitting next to me the whole time says to me, “I  think it’s funny how all these people who are talking about ‘free hugs’ and ‘loving everyone’ are being so hateful to this guy.”

“Well, first of all,” I replied, “No one’s being hateful here. No one’s trying to take swings at him, or screaming ‘Get outta here you fucking fuck!!’ They’re all just making fun and bustin his balls.”

“No one’s being hateful here. No one’s trying to take swings at him, or screaming ‘Get outta here you fucking fuck!!’ They’re all just making fun and bustin his balls.”

“Yeah true, but you know what I mean. All these kids are all back there hugging everyone and saying how much we all need to love each other, and this is how they’re treating him. It’s just funny to see them say one thing and do another.”

Street Preacher mocked by NYU Students – Mar 8, 2009
Street Preacher being mocked by NYU Students

“I don’t think I heard anyone back there saying ‘love everyone.’ They’re just giving away free hugs.” I couldn’t believe I was defending the “free hugs’ kids. “And what they’re doing isn’t hate. They’re just bustin’ his balls New York style. This is Union Square. It has a history for exactly what’s going on here.”

“I know. I’ve lived here all my life.” She retorted. “But aren’t all these people supposed to be about free speech? They’re not even letting him talk.”

“They’re doing exactly what people should be doing to someone who’s standing on the street corner yelling crazily. It’s no different than if he were standing there yelling how martians beamed him up into their ship and he’s warning us of their iminant attack. I’d even say that he’s the one who’s ideas are… I wouldn’t say ‘hateful’… but inhumane.”

I could tell she wasn’t into any of what I was saying. She didn’t respond to me, then a few minutes later she got up and left.

I understand where she was coming from, but I couldn’t help but imagine that after several more minutes of watching all that was going on she saw the “craziness” of his beliefs reflected in her own. Hell, that was one of the first dominos in my conversion to reason.

The Useful Tool of Mockery.


6 thoughts on “The Useful Tool of Mockery”

  1. “Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them”
    (Thomas Jefferson)

    That is beautiful, Bob! This is absolutely why I love free speech. No one was removing him from the area, they were just mocking him. Anybody who thinks that “we did not come from monkeys, from apes” is an argument against evolution/for the Bible deserves to be ridiculed relentlessly.

  2. Free hugs is cool.

    The idea of Free Speech is confusing to so many people, because they think that Law=Morality. They think that because the constitution says that the government cannot come in and stop you from expressing yourself (yeah, we’ve heard that before), that individuals have to let people talk, too.

    Nope. Not how it works. The first amendment is to protect us from government thugs. Communities and individuals can actually–wait for it–refuse to listen to crap. Otherwise, the freedom to speak would just be a huge contradiction–much like the idea that you can’t criticize religion. That’s a contradiction because converting to a new religion or deconverting is exactly that–the ultimate criticism of religion.

    Free Hugs is completely and absolutely counter to what the street preacher is saying, believe it or not. You give free hugs completely voluntarily, not because a big monster in the sky is holding a gun to your head.

    Again, people think the the government gives us rights. It doesn’t. We have to put walls up to keep it’s grubby hands away.

  3. If I had heard the video without seeing it, I would have sworn it was a woman’s voice. To hear a woman’s voice coming out of that body is just a little bit creepy. O_o

    Anyway, that girl is wrong. The one being hateful was not the kids making fun of him, but the preacher, himself. He’s the one who believes and teaches that humans are so evil that they all deserve to suffer and burn and scream and scorch for all eternity. Is this not a hateful and inhumane thing to teach one’s children? If God created humans, then he is the one to blame if we are evil, for he created us all with the capacity to sin. Do we blame the car if gets recalled for a manufacturer’s defect?

  4. Excellent point, Lois. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    It truly is a shame that I don’t live in New York, because I would have so much fun with these people. You’ll see me in Union Square one of these days, Bob!

  5. Um…well I was there, it was pretty fucking funny.
    It’s pretty obvious the preachers surpressing his true idenity.
    A homo.

  6. Ha ha ha ha. Oh seriously. Love this. Great song. Oh, now with the signs. Is that the wave? Gotta stop, crying from laughing so hard. Will watch again (and again and again) later.

    Thank you Bob for sharing this, and all of you who participated.

    Man I need to visit New York again. That would have been an awsome family event.

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