As we have for the past five or six years, CFI-Pittsburgh marched and tabled at Pridefest. The hope is that we will make contact with rational people who, like us, have an evidence-based worldview but are not aware that there is a whole community of people here in the Greater Pittsburgh area that are like-minded and eager to connect with them. And occasionally, we do find such people.
But mixed in with those few are a myriad mix of people that don’t fall into that profile. Some of them are the same people that I have seen every year it seems, who engage in conversation and seem interested in our message and seem to be like-minded people. But you never hear from them or see them again until the next Pridefest. Of course, maybe it’s just me – maybe I’m just jaded and burnt out having done this every year for nearly a decade.
Then there are the ones who come to the table all friendly (like the woman with the big baby bump who talked with Jess briefly) and seem genuinely interested in our message – that is until someone utters the word(s) “nonbeliever” or “secular” or even worse *gasp* “atheist”. And then it’s like you turned off a switch – their demeanor goes all cold, they put down any literature that they may have picked up, and quickly walk away, perhaps in case a giant bolt of lightning should come down and strike the table and us heathens.
But that’s something that you get used to after you see it time and time again in varying degrees and levels of rudeness. Pretty soon you are used to it and let it just wash off your back.
But this year, I experienced something different. Around 5:00 this asshole came to our table and stood there for a little while looking over the myriad pieces of literature. Finally he pointed to a picture on the front of one of the more in-depth brochures (the picture showing the meme “You don’t need god to live, to love, and to be happy”) and boldly stated “That’s a lie!” Then he started rambling with some nonsense about being a paramedic (I didn’t realize that being a paramedic granted one special expertise in theology and philosophy) and he’s seen some things that prove that there’s a magic sky fairy etc.
After a couple of back and forths, I just decided to ignore him, but Alex and Kara tried to engage him in a rational conversation. They haven’t yet learned the difficult lesson that rational conversation with delusionals is not possible. As long as they hold to an epistemology that accepts nonsense and personal revelation as valid evidence, you are going nowhere with them. And while it may indeed be prudent when you are in a public forum to be civil and pretend to respect their point of view, I can’t do that. Fifty years of being marginalized in a culture that reveres ignorance and delusion (not to mention violence and greed) has made me rather thin-skinned when dealing with delusional morons. I have no problem with them being as stupid as they want (well, actually I do, but that’s another debate) but when they have the temerity to shove it in my face, I get real annoyed.
And that’s my real issue with this asshole – believe what you want, but don’t come into my space and call me a liar – unless, of course, you have credible, verifiable, quantifiable evidence. And that’s what he was doing. Since I am claiming to be happy without his sadistic sky monster, he is saying that I am a bald-faced liar with absolutely no valid evidence to make such a claim.
Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.