The Raving Theist

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2007 February

Sexism?

February 16, 2007 | 18 Comments

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon explains in Salon why she had to quit the John Edwards campaign. One of her theories is that “the right-wing noise machine,” ostensibly acting through Bill Donohue of the Catholic League and Bill O’Reilly, “was working on pure misogynist emotion”:

One question that’s hard to avoid is how much of the venom had to do with the fact that McEwan and I were young women entering into a field (Internet communications) that’s viewed as almost monolithically masculine. From my vantage point, it appeared that sexism was one of the primary motivating energies behind the campaign.

One problem with this thesis is no mainstream spokesperson, male or female, liberal or conservative, actually tried to defend Marcotte’s religion-hostile posts. Not even, as I noted yesterday, Jane Fleming of Young Democrats of America. While I don’t have access to what I would imagine to be intriguing e-mail correspondence and/or phone conversations between Marcotte and the Edwards’ campaign staff, I expect they expressed offense too — which was, of course, the official position of the candidate himself.

Also problematic is that Donohue has issued at least three press releases, one within the past three months, angrily attacking O’Reilly (himself pro-choice) for comments about the Catholic Church. I haven’t gone through the League’s extensive archives of press releases, but a quick check doesn’t seem to indicate a bias in favor of female targets. Mostly, he just attacks organizations and politicians who have criticized Catholicism or the Church. So the sexism angle seems contrived. The Edwards campaign would likely have seized upon it and stuck to its guns if the evidence were sufficient.

In cutting Marcotte loose (or letting her cut the rope), I suspect the candidate was more concerned about what might come to light about the circumstances of her hiring if the “distraction” continued. Although Edwards’ woes have been attributed to insufficient or negligent vetting, the case is probably the opposite. No one who has run an atheistic blog for as many years as Marcotte could possibly have been unaware of the effective of her rhetoric upon the religious, so it strains credulity to suppose she didn’t provide the campaign with a highlighted print-out of every post she thought might be fodder for criticism. The candidate’s advisors scoured her words, including the ones that eventually brought her down, and decided to take a calculated gamble that no one would be overly concerned about the views of a lowly blog-level staffer.

Defense

February 14, 2007 | 23 Comments

For the past two days, Bill O’Reilly of The O’Reilly Factor has devoted his Talking Points Memo and lead-off feature to John Edwards’ hiring of atheist blogger Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister. Monday’s Memo is here, and O’Reilly’s interview on the subject with columnist/blogger Michelle Malkin and Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers is here. Below is a transcript of Tuesday night’s memo, followed by his interview with Jane Fleming of Young Democrats of America. Would you have taken Fleming’s approach in defending Edwards?

Talking Points Memo

John Edwards and his anti-Christian employees, that’s the subject of this evening’s Talking Point Memo.

Literally within minute of our report on The Factor last night, Amanda Marcotte, a viciously anti-Christian blogger, left the John Edwards campaign, and today her partner in crime, Melissa McEwan, was shown the door as well. Both women consistently delivered hate-filled diatribes on their internet sites, and Senator Edwards was foolish to hire them in the first place.

But the reason Edwards has pretty much taken himself out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is his arrogance. Even after the Catholic League point out to Edwards that his employees were attacking Christianity in the most offensive ways, using sexual images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for example – even after that — Edwards refused to take action. It was only after critical mass was reached and millions of people around the world actually saw what these women were putting on the Net that Edwards came to his senses.

But it’s too late. It’s ironic that a joke gone wrong about U.S. troops in Iraq sunk Edwards’ running mate John Kerry, but that was not nearly as the Edwards Christian situation, and Kerry, to his credit, recognized his mistake. Edwards remains defiant. America needs leadership that is fair to all its people. Everyone knows that Edwards, or any other politician, would never employ an anti-Semite, a Klan member, or an anti-Muslim bigot, or a homophobe. But Edwards had no problem standing by two anti-Christian women even after he saw the vile things they had written.

John Edwards will test the waters in Iowa, and he may do OK in that small vote, but he will not go much further. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are strong candidates and are smarter than Edwards. Talking Points doesn’t feel good about the demise of John Edwards, but we did everything possible to hear his side of the story, to extend to him the benefit of any doubt. For our trouble, he gave us the middle digit. So know we all know about Senator Edwards. And as always, the folks will decide. And that’s The Memo.

Interview

And now for the top story tonight — reaction to the situation. Joining us from Washington, Jane Fleming, the Executive Director of the Young Democrats of America.

Bill O’Reilly: Okaaaaay . . . So what do you think here, Jane?

Jane Fleming: Well I think Edwards really showed his leadership when he handled the situation. He did not have a knee-jerk reaction when the extremist Bill Donohue really went after him – and let’s be honest, Donohue is standing alone on this. There are no other Catholic groups that are standing with him. Edwards waited until he got back to his campaign, spoke to the two women, and then he made his decision . . .

O’Reilly: No he didn’t. That’s not true.

Fleming: He was very clear. That is true.

O’Reilly: He didn’t make his decision until after we announced we were going to do this story, and he knew . . .

Fleming: That’s not true, Bill.

O’Reilly: Yes it is.

Fleming: As soon as he got back to campaign headquarters. . .

O’Reilly: We promoted this story all weekend long and told him Friday it was going to be on Monday, and minutes before airtime he made the decision. That’s the truth, Miss Fleming . . .

Fleming: That’s not the truth.

O’Reilly: . . . that is what happened.

Fleming: And the two women have resigned, that is correct, they’ve both decided after getting lots of hateful e-mails and threats that it was safer for . . .

O’Reilly: Oh, I see, so they’re victims now, they’re victims, aren’t they?

Fleming: No, that’s not what I’m saying. They need to take responsibility for their writings, as all bloggers and as all journalists do.

O’Reilly: That’s correct.

Fleming: But let’s talk about Donohue. He makes about two to three million dollars a year on getting on air and talking about these extreme things — again, standing alone, no other religious group or activist is standing with him. He makes about . . .

O’Reilly: Well, maybe that’s to his credit. Listen, I don’t want to get into a debate about the head of the Catholic League.

Fleming: He’s the one who . . .

O’Reilly: He brought the attention of John Edwards, John Edwards said quote – well, I can’t quote him — but John Edwards said I don’t agree with these women but I’m not going to fire them . . .

O’Reilly: He only got involved when . . .

Fleming: He stood by his staff.

O’Reilly: When we got involved. Now, let me ask you this question. Do you approve of these women? Do you, Jane Fleming, approve of these women working for John Edwards? Yes or no.

Fleming: When I heard what they had written about the Virgin Mary, as a Catholic, it definitely took me aback a little bit, but . . .

O’Reilly: Alright. So you . . . I’m saying that’s a “no,” you do not approve of them working for John Edwards.

Fleming: I didn’t approve of what they wrote. Now. I approve that John Edwards . . .

O’Reilly: Do you . . . Jane, this is a simple question. Do you approve of them working for John Edwards. If you were in charge of the Edwards campaign, would you have fired them.

Fleming: I would have probably talked with them, and had serious talks with them, about what’s best for the campaign.

O’Reilly: You’re dodging, alright, you’re dodging . . .

Fleming: I’m not dodging.

O’Reilly: Yes. It’s a “yes” or “no.” Would you have fired them or not based on what they wrote in the past. Yes or no.

Fleming: No. I would have stood by them.

O’Reilly: OK. Wouldn’t have fired them Would you have fired someone who said anti-black things in the past?

Fleming: Yes.

O’Reilly: Would you have fired someone who said anti-gay things in the past?

Fleming: You know, this is the thing with bloggers . . .

O’Reilly: Yes or no?

Fleming: No, Bill, let me just . . .

O’Reilly: Yes or no?

Fleming: Let’s just have a dialogue about this . .

O’Reilly: No, no, no .

Fleming: . . . because it’s OK for Bill Donohue to say anti-Semitic things . . .

O’Reilly: Here’s the deal. You just said you would fire someone who said anti-black things in the past.

Fleming: I understand what you’re doing, Bill. I clearly understand what you’re doing. That it’s OK to be anti-Semitic or anti-gay, but it’s not OK to be anti-Catholic.

O’Reilly:: That’s right. And that’s the double standard that you guys on the left have to deal with.

Fleming: That’s not what we’re saying. What’s I’m saying . . . and Donohue, first of all, is anti-Semitic, so it’s OK for him . . .

O’Reilly: No he is not, and that’s a slur, and knock it off . . .

Fleming: What are you talking about? He specifically said that.

O’Reilly: . . .and he’s not here to defend himself. Knock it off. Keep it on this.

Fleming: No, I won’t.

O’Reilly: Well, you will . . .

Fleming: I won’t, because he . . .

O’Reilly: . . . or you’re not going to be on the program anymore.

J; . . . because he is hypocritical. And you’re being hypocritical on this issue also.

O’Reilly: Oh, baloney I’m being hypocritical . . .

Fleming: . . . if you’re going to attack these staffers . . .

O’Reilly: These women attacked Christianity and Catholicism, and you know it. You come on this broadcast, Jane, and you say you would not have fired them, but you would fire somebody who did an anti-black diatribe. That’s hypocritical, not me. I’m holding John Edwards accountable for who he hires, that’s what I’m doing. And you know what? He’s done.

Fleming: Then I want you to hold John McCain accountable. He has also hired a blogger . . .

O’Reilly: No, no, look. You don’t justify bad behavior by point to other bad behavior. That’s a cheap rhetorical trick.

Fleming: How come you can attack a Democrat but you can’t attack a Republican? If you’re “fair and balanced,” and if you’re going to have a “No Spin Zone” . . .

O’Reilly: If John McCain or any other Republican hires somebody who does stuff like this, I’m on it.

Fleming: You know who he’s hired? He’s hired a senior staff person who’s involved in three Republican scandals: the Delay fundraising scandal, phone jamming in New Hampshire, and he’s also with the racist . . .

O’Reilly: We’ll take a look at it . . .

Fleming: OK.

O’Reilly: . . . but it doesn’t rise to this. Jane, you know, I’m telling you what. You need to take a deep breath and think about this. John Edwards has now eliminated himself as a serious candidate . . .

J; Absolutely not.

O’Reilly: . . . he won’t be able to raise money, and he’ll be out of the race early.

Fleming: Absolutely not.

O’Reilly: You know it and I know it. And the reason is, because this kind of hatred, whether it’s directed against blacks, or Jews, or Muslims, or gays, or Christians, is not tolerable to the American people. And that’s the truth.

Fleming: Edwards showed his leadership on this. Bill Donohue’s the one that’s racist.

O’Reilly: Alright, Bill Donohue. Jane, thanks very much, we appreciate it.

Atheist Blogger Rejects Candidate’s Pleas to Stay With Campaign

February 13, 2007 | 9 Comments

Raleigh, North Carolina, February 13, 2007
Special to The Raving Atheist

Rejecting the entreaties of a kneeling, begging presidential candidate, atheist blogger Amanda Marcotte yesterday resigned from her position as blogmaster of the John Edwards presidential campaign.

The announcement on Marcotte’s personal site, Pandagon, quelled rumors that the Democrat’s campaign “fired” her because of the controversy surrounding the obscene, blasphemous screeds which permeate Pandagon’s archives.

Sources say that Edwards was “devastated” by Marcotte’s completely voluntarily departure, having wooed her to his candidacy precisely because of her outspoken and uncontrollable hostility to religion.

The resignation comes at a sensitive time for the Edwards’ camp, which was about to unleash a new campaign entitled “Re-Educating a Nation of Ignorant, Mouth-Breathing Godbags.”

“John really thought that with Amanda, he could communicate to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Stupid the urgent need to shut up and rearrange their thought processes in conformity with his atheistic principles,” said one campaign insider. “Now we’re just going to have to go back our original plan of scrawling his message on flaming bags of radioactive feces and hurling them onto doorsteps across America.”

Marcotte’s totally unforced exit was prompted by the campaign’s decision to temporarily kidnap her and issue a fake apology on her behalf. “I just wanted to fool the Jeebus-lovers for a week or so, by which time their tiny little brains would have forgotten what they were so angry about,” said Edwards. “But I now realize that I seriously compromised Amanda’s godless integrity, making her appear to be a whimpering, spineless, unprincipled panderer.”

Marcotte said she had not forgiven Edwards and was still upset by his widespread circulation of the forged apology — particularly the statement that she intended “never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs.” “I don’t give a #$&%&$ about anyone’s @#%$^ feelings,” she said, highlighting the point with today’s post about the “basic reading comprehension problems” of most Christians regarding their “Ancient Mythologies.” She also accused the Edwards campaign of hacking into Pandagon to insert faith-friendly language into one of her posts yesterday. “No, I do not intend to ‘reach out and help the religious left'” she said. “I remain the steadfast and unwavering enemy of God in whatever form he takes.”

Hit

February 13, 2007 | Comments Off

I 100% agree that this was a targeted hit on atheists in politics.

Amanda of Pandagon, referring to her resignation as blogmaster of the John Edwards campaign.

But They Said They Were Sorry

February 12, 2007 | 2 Comments

Bill O’Reilly just devoted his “Talking Points Memo” and lead story to John Edwards’ hiring of Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister, calling it the worst mistake he’d ever seen a campaign make.

How do you think Edwards will respond to the criticism?

UPDATE: Apparently O’Reilly was unaware that Amanda resigned today.

Edwards Campaign Issues Fake Apology on Behalf of Kidnapped Atheist Blogmaster

February 8, 2007 | 6 Comments

Raleigh, North Carolina, February 7, 2007
Special to The Raving Atheist

The John Edwards presidential campaign has kidnapped its own blogmaster and issued a fake apology on her behalf in an attempt to quell criticism of faith-unfriendly posts appearing on her former blog, Pandagon.

Mr. Edwards stated that he was “personally offended” by Marcotte’s “intolerant language” and distributed a written apology bearing her forged signature. The document asserted that it was her intention “never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs,” and Edwards also claimed to have received a verbal assurance from Ms. Marcotte that she never meant to “malign anyone’s faith.” Close acquaintances of Marcotte, however, stated that it was “quite impossible” that she has changed her opinion of religion, believes that her language was intolerant, or cares in the least whether Mr. Edwards or anyone else who read her profanity-laden, anti-religious attacks was offended by them.

“There’s no need to initiate an ‘Amanda Marcotte conversion watch,'” said one source. “Her loathing of religion continues unabated, and has in fact only increased as a result of the publicity surrounding her hiring.” The source also revealed that Ms. Marcotte is being kept bound and gagged in maid’s quarters in the basement of Mr. Edwards unfinished multimillion dollar mansion in Chapel Hill.

Although expressing concern regarding her involuntary captivity, Marcotte’s allies throughout the blogosphere expressed relief that rumors of an actual apology were false. “For Amanda to abandon her most cherished principles for the sake of expediency would demonstrate the utmost lack of integrity,” said one commenter at Pandagon. “I am so glad that she did not turn out to be another of those phony, cowardly, hypocritical, political prostitutes who would sell her soul for a few dollars and a shot a job in the White House communications office.”

Edwards Re-Hires Atheist Blogger in Response to Online E-Mail Campaign

February 8, 2007 | 4 Comments

Raleigh, North Carolina, February 8, 2007
Special to the Raving Atheist

An e-mail campaign launched by a blog which frequently criticizes religion under the post category “a**holes” has convinced Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards to reinstate atheist Amanda Marcotte as his website’s blogmaster.

Responding to a plea to “voice [their] support” for Ms. Marcotte, readers of the Feministe blog nearly crashed Edward’s server with e-mails demanding the former Pandagon blogger’s reinstatement. Marcotte was reportedly fired yesterday for comments interpreted as critical of religion.

“We now realize that our campaign would lose all credibility if we caved into the a**holes and dismissed Ms. Marcotte,” said campaign spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri. “We cannot remain true to our secular principles if we were to silence one of America’s leading atheistic voices.”

Although Ms. Marcotte has remained silent throughout the controversy — both at her Pandagon blog and the Edwards’ site — she is expected to make a statement shortly repeating and reaffirming her contempt for faith in all of its forms. “I cannot pretend to be a woman of integrity unless I clear the air on this matter,” she said. Speculation has it that Ms. Marcotte will use the Edwards’ blog to showcase a month-long series of posts on theology, inviting atheist luminaries including Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Sam Harris (The End of Faith) to debunk a**hole beliefs.

Ms. Marcotte has also expressed a desire use the Edwards campaign to eliminate not just religion, but any form of spirituality. “Human beings are merely empty receptacles for blind, chattering matter,” she declared. “I hereby reiterate what I noted three weeks ago: consciousness can be written off as a biological function . . . I see something, brain registers it through nerve impulses, etc. . . . [n]o soul necessary.”

Edwards Campaign to Fire Blogmaster in Favor of Less Sincere Atheist

February 7, 2007 | 4 Comments

Raleigh, North Carolina
February 7, 2007

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards intends to fire his newly-hired blogmaster, Amanda Marcotte, in favor of an atheist more adept at concealing his campaign’s unbridled hatred of religion.

“Although my political and spiritual views coincide 100% with those of Ms. Marcotte, her repeated use of the word ‘godbags’ and other epithets puts us at a distinct disadvantage to our faux-Christian opponents Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, ” said Edwards. “Accordingly, we have commenced a search for an atheist blogger capable of pretending to respect religion as much as Ms. Marcotte despises it.”

Edwards also suggested that the populace might best be fooled if the successor does not have a French-atheist surname like “Marcotte.” “Perhaps there’s some god-hating blogger out there named ‘Christiansen’ who can help us put a smiling, prayerful face on our crusade to rid this nation of the last vestiges of faith,” he said. “Ideally, the person will have actually seem the inside of a church, if only in childhood, the better to feign a reverent familiarity with the practices and doctrines my administration will eventually outlaw.”

Mattering

February 6, 2007 | 2 Comments

Nothing matters. So the fact that nothing matters doesn’t matter. Might as well seize the day, then.

“Q” The Enchanter, Meta and Meta

Congratulations Amanda

February 5, 2007 | Comments Off

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon was selected last week to serve as the new blogmaster for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. While I dissent from many of her views, I do not doubt that she has the talent, energy and sense of humor to thrive in the high-pressure, high-stakes world of national politics.

Those familiar with Pandagon may sense that it has not always been the most religion-friendly blog. This will likely not be a significant an issue for the Edwards’ campaign. All campaigns, regardless of party, employ large staffs which necessarily include those from every part of the religious and non-religious spectrum.

Whether there is any conflict will depend on what extent Ms. Marcotte is called upon to be the “voice” of the campaign in the blogosphere. Although it appears that she will have significant responsibilities relating to the technical administration of the blog and its various “diaries,” she’s already contributed a few posts under her own name and I assume she will continue to do so. This practice may create discomfort for her in later stages of the campaign. National candidates are generally required to assume, at the very least, a moderate and ecumenical approach towards religion. If Edwards is compelled to complete with candidates like Obama who are reputedly “comfortable” wearing their faith she might even be called upon to display outright respect for religion.

Presumably she’ll just remain mute on the topic and leave that advocacy for some more willing co-blogger. She may also elect to proceed in that manner with respect to her other differences with Edwards, regarding his support of the death penalty and opposition to same-sex marriage — although his views may well migrate closer to hers. Whatever the case, I’m confident that she’ll act with all the candor, honesty and integrity she has displayed in the past.

Cass Brown, R.I.P.

February 4, 2007 | Comments Off

Cass Brown died on January 6, 2007, outliving, apparently, the blog he died for. Your prehumous tributes to him may be found here.

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