December 9, 2008

Denying Atheists Free Expression: How Many Complaints Are Enough?

I am thrilled to see atheist billboards going up around America, asking my fellow citizens to consider the possibility of life without superstition. Some Christians are less than thrilled, however, and have already managed to get one billboard removed in Southern California. All it took was 90 complaints to the billboard company. I wonder how many complaints would be required to get rid of these eyesores in Mississippi? The thing is, as someone who values free speech, I don't really want to get rid of the Christian extremist billboards - I just want an opportunity to respond.

I want Christians to maintain their right to promote their religion (outside of government, of course) because I value the right to free expression. Naturally, I want atheists to enjoy this same right. Many Christians want to have it both ways, exercising their freedom while preventing others from doing the same. This must be called out and opposed. Freedom of speech is designed to protect all ideas and not simply the position of the majority.

Some Christians do understand this, and I think this is important to recognize. For example, some Christians have decided to respond to the atheist bus ads not with complaints but with response ads. Good for them! I think we all benefit from more communication rather than less.

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