Friday, August 15, 2014

Why I hate the South: with apologies to my freethinking Southern friends and readers ...again.

Well, it's happened again.  My unabashed disdain for the South, its religiosity, and backward social culture has gotten people's panties in a wad. I was taken to task by an Austin, TX freethinker for "delighting" in denigrating the region in general and TexASS in particular.  My reply follows.  If I have touched on this subject before, my apologies...but it's elephants that never forget, not camels.

"Every state in the nation has, or has had, its embarrassments- but Southern states seem to make stupidity and obscenity a point of cultural pride. And I recognize that every Southern state  has its strongholds of reason. Austin is one of a handful in TexASS. Hell, I'm sure there are some civilized niches in Somalia and Nigeria as well.

I do not 'delight' in badmouthing the South. It pains me that it is what it is. I've had this discussion with many southern atheists, and I'm on record (about 100 times) as declaring my respect and admiration for freethinkers who survive, keep their sanity, and prosper in the Bible Belt, in spite of their being surrounded by religious nuts, right wing fanatics, and the grossly undereducated with 19th century mindsets.

But I don't make up the FBI, or Pew Survey, or US dept of HE&W, or any of the stats from esteemed organizations which I oft quote that prove the South to be the veritable 3rd world segment of our nation...never mind the fact that a disproportionate number of people in the south are on gov't assistance, and yet those states invariably vote GOP.

Look I'm not inflexible, I'm prepared to revise my position when reason starts to prevail in the South. When Governors do not openly promote Christianity / or do photo ops manning machine guns at the border (Perry), or conduct exorcisms (Jindal), or declare God's wrath is upon the nation for its sins (Huckabee) just to mention three of the most outrageous examples; when its school boards stop trying to promote Creationism as science and influence other states school books accordingly; when citizens stop parading in the streets, restaurants and stores with loaded AKs and AR-15s.

When public school athletic teams stop praising Jesus on the field; when having the highest execution rate in the nation isn't a point of pride; when the investment in education meets the other regions and the calculated average IQ of the South rises to meet them as well; when laws aren't passed forbidding a doctor (on pain of losing their license) from asking their patients about guns in the home (FL). 

When their judges stop insisting Ten Commandment monuments are their right on government property (Alabama) ; when it stops spawning the nation's most grotesque televangelist charlatans and born again haters (i.e. Hagee,  Robertson, Osteen, Falwell,  et al); when it stops passing laws to prohibit reasonable access to abortions and  prohibiting gay marriage; when poverty is considered a challenge to be fixed and not an imposition; when the crime rates, and unemployment rate, and standard of living indices improve, THEN I'll be the first one to welcome the South into modernity.Until then, screw the South. Fuck TexASS. To Hell with the Alamo. Long live Santa Anna ."


longhorn believer said...

Bart, as you point out in your blog post, you have explained more than once that your opinions about the south are backed by statistics. As atheists in the south, we are aware more than anyone of the stats, and are working everyday to educate those around us on the reality. See for example, research at and educational articles on Texas Theocracy Watch and the organization of the first secular political convention in Texas, We understand the stats and, more importantly, their real world implications since we freaking live here.

We don’t need it explained to us paternalistically by atheists who were fortunate enough to have been born above the Mason Dixon Line. But here is something you could explain. Why, when you visit our Facebook pages, you can’t have a more nuanced conversation with people who agree with you, who support your blog, who support your outspokenness, and who are working every fucking day to change things, and who you claim to be able to distinguish from the statistics? We are trying to start intelligent conversations down here about the reality of the dangers and harm caused by the lack of separation of church and state. The only thing you seem to be able to contribute is negative descriptions and explaining over and over again that you know the difference between intelligent people in the south and everyone else. If you really do understand the difference and have respect for people working for change, why don’t you act like it when you have a conversation with us?

My point is I have written guest posts for your blog, and thanks for the support; but you don’t seem to know your audience. You’ve said your blog is for atheists/agnostics that need a community.

So maybe, (and this is just a suggestion from an atheist that lost the geographical birth lottery so maybe it doesn’t mean that much to you), you might consider reading articles we post before you throw comment bombs. Maybe you might consider having discussions that are supportive of our work, and produce something more than juvenile retorts and vague yet horrible descriptions of a place that we see everyday we walk out our front door or read the newspaper. You might think you understand the reality, but stats on paper don’t paint the whole picture.

And while I’m at, Steve Bratteng, my best friend, was visiting his state rep this afternoon while you were busy writing another repeat of how stupid, and pitiful the South is. And from that meeting, we will probably see legislation that would add scientific standards to sex education in “TexaSS" public schools. Before you assume you know what he’s posted on his Facebook page, next time, try reading it. Because I can assure you he knows more about the history of our local and state politics than you could ever hope to. After all, he’s lived here for almost 69 years; and while he shares your views about religion, politics, AND the south, he’s been HERE...working to change it.

To sum up, try getting to know your audience in the South. Because repeating the same crap about how statistics don’t lie to people who already know and live them isn’t helpful, and doesn’t convey understanding or respect.

Dromedary Hump said...

Besides having rec'd my kudos for your activism, and my having more than once acknowledged the fact that pockets of southern atheists have been waging a battle against what the south is and does, (something I'm not sure I'd have the patience to do), and having given you my blog as a platform, as well as posting a link there to Texas Theocracy Watch ...I'm not sure what more you can ask of me from a support perspective. You already have my respect...the South does not. You should be able to make that distinction. From the tone of your missive you don't sound like you can/do.

The fact is what it is about the you know. So, I call 'em like I see 'em..always have, always will. If it offends, well... truth is often offensive. But the reality is it isn't directed at YOU or Steve or any free thinker. If ones devotion to a state or region or culture is so strong that calling out the reality is more offensive than the reality itself..then fine.. I'm guilty and you have a right to be offended. Frankly, if someone digs deep enough and can find in NH or New England a malignant growth that time and time again adversely affects the evolution of society ,science, equality and reason, I don't think I'd be offended. Embarrassed..yes,

Until more like you and Steve can directly change it's reality I'll have virtually nothing positive to say about the region. The daily bombardment of Southern GOP idiocy, and religious missives, available to anyone who reads their facebook home page or the news doesn't warrant it.

Carl said...

Until the south joins other states in equality for everyone such as gay marriage and Women's reproductive rights and stops pandering religion in school and government buildings I see no reason to give the south any respect.

Dromedary Hump said...

As usual, you said in one sentence what took me a whole blog article to say. ;)

Den!s said...

I don't think New England has burned any witches at the stake for quite some time... their malignant growth was removed and has not returned. Can we please schedule the South for a series of operations starting with a 'racism-ectomy'? That alone would be a good start, and one that they should have had some time ago.

Dromedary Hump said...

Ah..yes, the Salem Witch trials et al. Yeah..once we ran outta witches we started traveling the straight and narrow.

Now that you mention it, I wonder if that debacle didn't have something to do with New England's more secular / less religious nature today.

You know, sort of like "Once burned, twice shy."

Joe said...

The religious nuttery throughout the south is visible even to the casual visitor. As a long-haul truck driver, I have many occasions to go through all the southern states. The billboards alone will tip you off. That being said, the individual southerners that I must interact with are friendly, decent people who won't push their beliefs on the average passer-by. Of course, they just might be unable to conceive of someone who does not believe in their imaginary friend.

Bill Davis said...

I currently live in Idaho and I assure you that we have more than our fair share of moronic, red-necked, inbred, ill-educated, gun totin', bible(or book of mormon) thumpin, jackasses. Also, you need to give due credit to Arizona as a repository of all things stupid, and don't even get me started on Kansas. My point being, that although the south stands out, the whole fucking country is overrun with ignorant religious douchebags.

Tyler said...

Found this blog outta nowhere! I wanted to comment that the witch trials in Salem actually brought down an entire way of life. For the most part, that was the end of puritanism. It was clear that having the church as law...wasn't going to work. The difference between that (and New England as whole) and the South is that New England learned it's lesson and now that time is considered a shameful, embarrassing moment in history never to be repeated in action or in thought. The South has never learned it's lesson. Slavery may have ended, but their prejudice towards nearly everyone that is not a heterosexual, Christian, white male, has not. The South continues it's nearly 250 year tradition of pride in aggressive ignorance.