5 Reasons to Stop Talking Sh*t About People From the South and Midwest

Midwest field with airplane trails in sky

“If I ever hear another elitist jerk use the term flyover people, I’ll punch him in the mouth.” —John Waters, Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

I don’t approve of threats of physical violence. Not even hyperbolic ones. But I absolutely know where John Waters is coming from. And while I don’t intend to punch anyone in the mouth, I completely understand – and share – his anger at this bullshit notion of “flyover country.”

I recently did a speaking tour of the Midwest, promoting my new book. This isn’t new for me: I’ve been doing public speaking for years, and I do it a lot in the Midwest and South.

And every time I come home from one of these trips, I bring back a huge suitcase full of respect for people in the Midwest and South – and a hearty desire to say “Fuck You” to anyone who makes snotty remarks about “flyover country” or “flyover people.”

Not all progressives do this, of course – but I hear it often enough that I need to say something.

Here are five reasons coastal progressives need to permanently purge these phrases from their vocabulary.

*****

Thus begins my piece for Everyday Feminism, 5 Reasons to Stop Talking Sh*t About People From the South and Midwest. Reprinted from AlterNet. Enjoy!

5 Reasons to Stop Talking Sh*t About People From the South and Midwest

“A counterweight to the assumption that I’m right”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"If I want a counterweight to the assumption that I'm right, one of the weightiest ones I can think of is to assume I'm wrong -- and see where it leads me."

“If I want a counterweight to the assumption that I’m right, one of the weightiest ones I can think of is to assume I’m wrong — and see where it leads me.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 11: “Starting With the Assumption That I’m Wrong”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of an unbalanced scale.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“A counterweight to the assumption that I’m right”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Please Help NJ Grigson of Grief Beyond Belief Battle Breast Cancer

NJ Grigson

Please help NJ Grigson of Grief Beyond Belief battle breast cancer.

You may not know the name NJ Grigson, but if you know Grief Beyond Belief, you know the work she has done for the secular community. In July 2012, NJ, herself grieving the death of her teenage son, volunteered to moderate GBB and maintain a space for grief support without religion or woo when the founder (Rebecca Hensler) took her first vacation. Since then, she has never wavered in her commitment to the community. She co-founded GBB’s closed group and shared the burden of vetting members for months, until a team of moderators volunteered.

grief beyond belief logo
In 2013, when GBB came under attack from an evangelist who spammed the page multiple times a day, NJ shared the 24-hour-a-day task of protecting the page, and withstood ongoing abuse and harassment without ever losing her cool. She just kept moderating with kindness and compassion. She never fails to comfort a new community member, firmly enforce limits, refer a grieving nonbeliever to the resources they need, or defend the community like a tiger.

Last November, NJ was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent surgery in December, chemo in February and March, and radiation treatment since May. It has taken a lot out of her in pain and fatigue and depression. And yet she faces her days with humor, courage and her trademark bluntness, and never wavers in her work with GBB.

In typical NJ fashion, she has been trying to go it on her own, supporting herself with just practical help from friends all through her cancer treatment. But a rise in her rent and increased heating bills this (Australian) winter have put her in dire straits. So she has finally acquiesced to Rebecca’s request to start a fundraiser for her.

If you believe in the work done at Grief Beyond Belief, if NJ’s efforts have benefited you or someone you love, please consider donating whatever you can to this fundraiser, whether it is $20 or $200. Thank you.

Please Help NJ Grigson of Grief Beyond Belief Battle Breast Cancer

“I want to decide my own purpose”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"I don't want my entire reason for existing decided by a manufacturer, like I'm a memory chip in some cosmic video game. I want to decide my own purpose."

“I don’t want my entire reason for existing decided by a manufacturer, like I’m a memory chip in some cosmic video game. I want to decide my own purpose.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 6: “Why Are We Here?)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of inside parts of a computer.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“I want to decide my own purpose”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“Wherever there are conversations about racism”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Wherever there are conversations about racism, white people need to listen."

“Wherever there are conversations about racism, white people need to listen.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 17: “The Part About Black Lives Mattering Where White People Shut Up and Listen”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of a person’s ear and side of head, seen from behind.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Wherever there are conversations about racism”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Subjective Tastes and Character Judgments — Two Great Tastes that Taste Lousy Together

In light of Pokemon Go, and the phenomenon of people harshing on it, I thought it would be a good time to reprint this. This piece was originally published in The Humanist.

basketball high heeled shoe race car big for fb

“All I hear about these days is the NBA finals. Who are these brainless yahoos who get so obsessed about a ball going into a net?”

“I hate those ditzes who care so much about fashion. They’re so superficial.”

“What is it with selfies, anyway? Who are these self-involved twerps who keep taking pictures of themselves?”

“You know the kind of guy. He likes NASCAR, country music — total fool.”

Why do people do this? Why do we make character judgments about other people, based solely on their personal, subjective tastes in entirely consensual activities?

To be very clear: I’m not talking about subjective tastes that genuinely do have a moral component. I understand that there are moral issues with, for instance, food (eating meat or not?); consumer items (were they made by exploited labor?); choices in transportation (does it pollute?); lots of other examples. I’m also not talking about subjective choices that actually do immediately infringe on other people, like playing loud music at three in the morning and keeping the neighbors awake. And I’m not talking about making our own aesthetic judgments, and mouthing off about them. Of course we’re free to like or dislike any food, art, or entertainment that does or doesn’t strike our fancy — and we’re free to say so.

I’m not talking about any of that. I’m talking about making character judgments about other people, making assumptions about people’s lives and values and relationships, even making moral judgments about them — based on their tastes in music, food, art, entertainment, or other activities that are entirely subjective and consensual. I don’t get it. Why do people do this? Continue reading “Subjective Tastes and Character Judgments — Two Great Tastes that Taste Lousy Together”

Subjective Tastes and Character Judgments — Two Great Tastes that Taste Lousy Together

“As valuable to the brand new atheist as it is the longtime atheist”: Dan Arel on The Way of the Heathen

Way of the Heathen cover

“The Way of the Heathen opens the doors to a new way of thinking post-faith but stands as a book that is as valuable to the brand new atheist as it is the longtime atheist.

“This is the type of book that leaves me feeling proud to be an atheist and proud to be a part of a community that produces such works that work to improve the betterment of not just oneself, but society as a whole.”
-Dan Arel, author, Parenting Without God: How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children, Free from Religious Dogma

Some people I like and respect greatly have said some really nice things about my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Dan Arel has written a review of the book on his blog at the Patheos Atheist channel, Danthropology. You can read the full review here. Thanks, Dan!

The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“As valuable to the brand new atheist as it is the longtime atheist”: Dan Arel on The Way of the Heathen

“We matter because we matter to each other”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"There’s no immense, eternal, perfect being watching our every move, elated at our triumphs and devastated by our failures. We matter because we matter to each other, in our own short time span, on our own small scale. We make each other important."

“There’s no immense, eternal, perfect being watching our every move, elated at our triumphs and devastated by our failures. We matter because we matter to each other, in our own short time span, on our own small scale. We make each other important.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 5: “Atheist Meaning in a Small, Brief Life”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above image of six people, seen from behind, silhouetted against ocean sunset)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“We matter because we matter to each other”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

I Do Not Consent: The Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Content note: racist violence. Graphic violent images at some of the links.

Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police on July 5. The police pinned him to the ground and then shot him. I have not watched the video: it has been described as gruesomely brutal, even by police killing standards.

Philando Castile was shot and killed by Minnesota police on July 6 during a traffic stop.

Two black people, killed by police, in two days. And these are not isolated incidents.

There’s some good, important writing about Alton Sterling’s death. (Philando Castile’s death had just happened at the time I wrote this.) Here’s writing by Shaun King; by Lilly Workneh; by Breanna Edwards; by Kirsten West Savali. I don’t have much to add to this. I’ll just say some of what I said when the grand jury failed to Darren Wilson for Michael Brown’s murder:

No.

This is not acceptable. It is not acceptable that millions of people live in a police state, afraid for their safety and their lives on a daily basis, because their skin is black or brown.

I know there’s a limited amount I can do about this. But I can say this, as clearly as I can: I do not consent to this. No, no, no, no, no.

the word no

The comment policy on this post is the same as it was on my posts about Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin: I am not willing to host a debate about this on my blog. I am willing to host many debates on my blog, about many issues. I am often willing to make my blog into a place for people to express many ideas and opinions with which I passionately disagree. This is not one of those issues, and this is not one of those times. If you have anything at all to say about this that even remotely hints at implying that these murders were justified or that the police response has been reasonable and proportionate — do not comment in my blog. Now, or ever. Do not read my blog. Do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Do not attend my talks. Do not buy my books. Get the fuck out of my life, now. Thank you.

I Do Not Consent: The Murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

“We need to be willing to see evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"We need to be willing to see evil, not as something people are, but as something people do. We need to be willing to see evil as something we might do."

“We need to be willing to see evil, not as something people are, but as something people do. We need to be willing to see evil as something we might do.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 9: “Two Different Ways to Be a Good Person”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of military helicopter)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“We need to be willing to see evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen