When I joined Freethought Blogs, I was contacted by one of the other bloggers, Hank Fox. He sent me a very nice email welcoming me to FtBs, and he sent me a copy of his book, Red Neck Blue Collar Atheist. He even signed it! Isn’t that awesome?
The wise man with his Good Book at the manger.
Last weekend I was pretty stoked because Hank and I were both going to be at the Reason Rally, so we made plans to meet in person.
I don’t want what I’m going to say next to sound jerkish, but I need to give you a little background.
We met up by the white tents, and Hank was in a pissy mood from the get go. We had barely made our introductions when he started ranting about PZ Myers. I was really confused – apparently Hank thought that PZ was making fun of him by wearing his white hat from Calgary.
Hank is an rancher and rodeo guy, and he kept saying “PZ wouldn’t wear a cop hat up there. Why not? ‘Cuz he’s not a cop. I don’t know why he thinks it’s okay to wear a cowboy hat when he’s not a cowboy.” I tried to lighten the mood by saying that we’re all atheist cowboys and cowgirls – exploring the wild frontier of reason (lame, I know. I don’t always do so well on the spot), but Hank just shot me a disgusted look.
Ooookay. Not exactly what I was expecting, but hey, maybe the guy was just having a bad morning.
We hung out during the day and had some decent conversation between speakers. After the rally, several of the Friendly Atheist and FtBs bloggers and readers met for dinner – just us and about 150 of our closest friends! Ed Brayton was there and he was making introductions. He was pointing to us and telling other people around the table our names and our blogs. He pointed to Daniel Fincke – “This is Dan. He writes Camels With Hammers. That’s Brianne, Biodork”. Then he points to Hank and says “This is Hank, the Hillbilly Atheist.”
Hank. Lost. His. Shit.
I kid you not, Hank rips off his shirt, jumps up on the table and starts screaming (I haven’t been able to find pics via google yet, but people were whipping out cell phones left and right). Asshole knocked over my drink on the way up, too.
“It’s RED NECK BLUE COLLAR ATHEIST you DICK! Who are you calling a HILLBILLY you over-educated, presumptuous ass?! I’m tired of you all treating me like I’m a backwater hick just because I don’t have a fancy degree from a fancy university! I’m done with all of you damned snobs. I am the fuck out of here!”
Then he raised his head up to the sky, threw out his bare chest, his chest fully of manly silver hair shining in the florescent restaurant tract lighting, and he howled at the ceiling like a freaking werewolf. He vaulted over the second-story half-wall to the ground below. He stabbed a waiter with a trident then ran through the plate glass front window. People were screaming and running around. It was a hot mess.
We hadn’t heard from him since, but on Friday I received an email from Hank. I’m copying it here in its entirety:
I realize that my behavior last weekend must have seemed erratic. I’m sorry that our first meeting had to be so weird. I’ve been thinking about things and I’ve decided that it’s best for everyone if I just I sever my connections with the blogosphere.
I will be going back to my roots. I miss the wide open spaces. I have come to value the atheist community but I can’t stand the way some of these uppity “intellectuals” denigrate all of us hardworking, salt-of-the earth types. With this in mind I will be opening the Common Sense Pony Ranch in upper New York. It will be a safe haven for all of the blue collar heroes who seek the answers to life’s greatest questions without all of the elitist bullshit thrown into the mix. I do hope you’ll come and visit someday, after all of this has blown over.
Yours without God,
He sent along a phone number, so I gave him a call to see if he was alright. He seems happy and confident in his decision. And get this: He had to step out of the room while we were talking, so he handed the phone over to his house guest…Clint Eastwood! Apparently Clint is helping him adapt his book Red Neck Blue Collar Atheist into a movie script. When Hank came back on the phone he whispered to me that Clint is considering playing the title role, but that’s totally under wraps right now, so don’t tell anyone.
So, it’s been a whacky week, but at the end of it all, I think we just need to wish him luck and hope he can find some peace and happiness. Please consider heading over to Hank’s final post at Blue Collar Atheist to wish him well.