Welcome Messages: #FtBCon liveblog by @MelMall

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Welcome from FtB organizers Ed Brayton, PZ Myers, Jason Thibeault, and Miri Mogilevsky, 5 pm CDT, Friday, July 19

The G+ page was making me stand by, so I hopped over to the YouTube of Dave’s video, started watching, and then the G+ version started, showing Ed, Jason, Miri, and PZ.

Proof that Freethought Bloggers are only out to SILENCE everyone, starting with Dave.

Ed talked about why the con was created, because IRL cons are so expensive that many people can’t afford to go. He even noted that as a speaker, when his expenses are paid for, he ends up a few hundred out of pocket.

Live conferences are still valuable, of course. The online con doesn’t replace them. It simply extends many of the benefits of a con to more people.

Went into the history of Freethought Blogs, started by Ed and PZ after National Geographic took over Science Blogs, where they were both writing, and made it clear that they would not allow all content. Example they gave was the Danish Mohammed cartoons . . . which Ed had actually published on his blog.

So in 2011, Ed and PZ started FtB, which crashed almost immediately after it launched. They bounced back and will be celebrating the site’s two-year anniversary in two weeks.

Ed talked a bit about the drama (blargh–tired of that word) and conflict in the atheist community but believes that the positive rises above that. He loves that more and more young people are getting involved (like Miri, Kate Donovan, Jessica Ahlquist). The more diverse our movement, the more we can focus on whatever part of the struggle we value, which is largely what this con is about: People talking about “issues that get them fired up” and that affect them personally as well as affecting the community.

Back to PZ, who appears to be wearing either a lab coat or a robe. Probably a custom-made combo. That’s how I’d roll if I were him. But anyway, he introduces Miri, who gave us all the info we need to find the panels, communicate with the organizers, communicate with each other, and the takeaway for me was that Miri clearly did a ton of the work to make this all happen logistically.

She’s only been involved in the freethought movement for a year, which surprised me. She seems so seasoned and self-assured in her writing and has done so much in that short time.

She then warned of thunderstorms in parts of the U.S. that could interrupt the con. Ed or Jason joked about PZ not controlling the weather. If he did, he wouldn’t live in Morris, Minnesota. (But isn’t that exactly what he wants you to think?)

Next up, the official Welcome from Dave Silverman.

Welcome from David Silverman, president, American Atheists

PZ introduces Dave as one of his favorite atheists because he’s willing to speak up and challenge people. He gives so bio info I didn’t get down because my three-year-old was outside playing with a gas can. But I digress.

Dave couldn’t make it live, so he sent video, but he’s agreed to come live on Sunday, so keep an eye on the schedule to see when they fit him in.

Dave begins with a fairly standard welcome, but repeatedly stressing the word “welcome.” <snort>

Then he does his first ever public reading from the prologue of his forthcoming book I, Atheist: America’s Loudest Heathen Fires Back

Periodically as he’s talking, the lag time makes his voice slip into Satan mode, which was of course PERFECT for the president of American Atheists.

His reading talks about who he is as an atheist, outspoken, wore the t-shirts, put up the billboards.

Was going to call book I, Dick but he’s not really a dick. Too nice, maybe. Thought maybe he should call it “That pretty good guy who gets called a dick so often he gets angry and writes a book about it.”

Says that atheists are finally winning against religion beecause we are finally capable of trying. We have no money or power compared to religion, but we have more equality.

In the end, it’s not about money and power but about truth. “Atheists have a monopoly on truth.” [Erm, that’s fine as a soundbyte, but not so much in the accuracy department. Unless we’re talking custom board games. Atheist Monopoly would rock. Go straight to Hell. Do not pass Go.]

Conclusionary atheists like him conclude that all gods don’t exist. Proof would convince him to convert, quit job, donate proceeds of book to religion

If there were a god, there would be no atheists like him. [Huh?]

Religion not just wrong but malevolent. Bigotry, corruption incarnate, makes good people do bad, immoral things while they think they are doing good, turning good people into assholes.

Religion deserves to die.

Called a dick because he challenges default respect for religion.

Duty as American, atheist, humanist, to do what he can to take religion down, not by force or law, but by truth.

All religions are lies, and all believers are victims.

About the Author:

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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