As some of you might have read on The Friendly Atheist, the Tallahassee Atheists recently put up a billboard. Just last week we moved the sign to a new location in town (because the contract was up for the other location) and, well, we get email.
Here’s the exchange between this angry christian and Mark Palmer (founder of the group, the one who usually deals with PR, and also a lawyer).
So this christian guy from a nearby town saw the billboard while in town and didn’t like our logo, so he emailed the city about it and forwarded that email to the Tallahassee Atheists:
Hi Ms. [Tallahassee city government official],
Thank you for speaking with me.
As mentioned, I personally feel that the logo that is positioned in the upper right hand corner of at least the atheist billboard on Tennessee Street, is so similar to the official (trademarked?) logo of the City of Tallahassee that is could create confusion for people traversing that part of the City who 1) may not be terribly familiar with the official Tallahassee logo; 2) don’t have time as they motor along to give a good long look at the billboard – totally checking out the logo.
Would it be, perhaps, cynical of me to think that the designers of the billboard might have purposefully copied certain elements of the City of Tallahassee logo in order to give the mistaken impression to the uninformed that the City of Tallahassee might actually endorse the billboard, or the organization that has paid for the billboard?
Let me be a bit more straightforward, the logo in the right upper corner of the billboard is a thinly-veiled rip-off of the City of Tallahassee trademark. Although, I am not a resident of Tallahassee, I work and shop here. I have always thought that the actual City of Tallahassee logo was a good one.
I advocate that the City distance itself from this group, and order them to take their billboards with the surreptitious misuse of the City of Tallahassee logo, down.
Here’s the city logo he mentioned:
And here’s our logo:
Mark responded to him:
My name is Mark Palmer. I’m one of the founders of the Tallahassee Atheists (TAs). I’m sorry that you have concerns about the TA logo. Nobody supports the separation of church and state more than we do. We tend to focus our efforts on fixing actual state/religion constitutional violations such as explicitly Christian rituals performed at government meetings, which are supposed to represent all members of the community.
Although the cross of the T in the TA logo and the angled part of the star in the City of Tallahassee logo are similar, the logos as a whole are very different. Those difference are as follows.
- Color schemes are different.
- Fonts are totally different, note especially the font for the significant word “Tallahassee”
- Capitalization is completely different.
- The City “T” logo is made with a star. The TA logo is not.
- the TA logo is made with landmark. The City logo is not.
- Even the cross of the T is angled on the city logo and horizontal on the TA logo
- The TA logo has a giant, red “A” emphasized, while the city logo does not.
- The city logo has “CITY OF” at the top. The TA logo does not.
- The City logo has 3 additional elements to make a star that the TA logo lacks.
The TAs are in no way affiliated with the City of Tallahassee. Nor do we assert that we are. Nor do we have any desire to be. We would find such as distasteful as if there were a Christian, Hindu, or Muslim group officially sanctioned by the city.
This concern you bring up, Jeff, has never been asserted by any other over the last 3 years. For this reason and more importantly for the reasons listed above, it is safe to assume that a reasonable person would not conclude that there is any tie whatsoever between the city and the TAs. There is none. There never will be.
The TAs are a support group for a disparaged minority that makes up 6-10% of the population. Your assertions are a thinly veiled attempt to further disparage that minority.
This response was apparently not pleasing to this guy, so he replied with this (and oh, how he hits all the right crazy christian notes):
Dear Mr. Palmer,
How very disingenuous for the same group of people who have rightfully celebrated success after success in their War on Christianity; daily and hourly manipulating every single instrument of government that has ever been crafted by God-fearing men, to call for Victim Status!
You have your seat at the American Table of Ideas because God-fearing people from the inception of this country created that wherewithal. Men like my own father went to war for your freedoms and they gave their lives for your freedoms. Further, you have your freedom to turn your back on creation’s Creator because His master design included you and your compatriots. You are only free to hate God because of God’s love for you.
Regarding the City of Tallahassee logo, according to their reps, it can’t be defended because they are a public entity and the logo is technically in the public domain. I hold, however, to my assertion that your intent with the design of your own logo was to sufficiently confuse the uniformed.
Tonight, at Cowboy Country Church, in Crawfordville, I will specifically mention yours, Mr. Progal’s, and Mr. Hunter’s names in prayer before the congregation. We meet at 3Y Ranch on Rehwinkle Road at 7:00 PM. Please accept this note as my personal invitation to attend. Under Sheriff for Wakulla County, Maurice Langston, is the pastor. I also attend Sunday services at Sopchoppy Southern Baptist on Curtis Mill Rd, and would cordially invite you, Mr. Progal and Mr. Hunter to attend there, as well, if you are unavailable on such short notice, tonight. More information on SSB here: http://www.sopchoppysouthernbaptist.com/
You may have minority status in the arena of ideas, but you certainly do not have victim status.
Mark’s final reply was this:
I was perfectly candid and perfectly clear. I do not know about or care about any supposed “War on Christianity.” I am not a Christian. Neither are Jews. Neither are Hindus. Neither are Zoroastrians. Yes, some people believe in stuff that you don’t and vice versa. But calling such disagreements a “War” cheapens both your family and mine that have died defending our freedoms, regardless of their beliefs or ours. Do not so cheapen the courage of your family or mine.
America is great because we strive to treat our citizens equally under the law. We are not tribal. We’ve risen above that. We are a pluralistic civilization. We should not give Hindus, Christians, Atheists, Muslims, or Zoroastrians any special treatment under the law. Rather all are free to preach and practice in their homes, private businesses, churches, and street corners as they see fit. The government should represent all.
Are you arguing that Christians should get favored status under the law? That the powers of government should establish different classes of citizens?
All I seek is equality. That is an American value I support. I have my freedom because Americans of many faiths and of none have fought for that freedom. You should be ashamed if you seek to take that freedom away.
I have no desire to go to your particular house of worship dedicated to one of many incarnations of supernatural belief that human cultures have perpetuated over thousand of years. Certainly not when you’ve slithered in the implict threat of a Cowboy Sheriff for Jesus. I sincerely hope your sheriff/pastor remembers that his job is to represent all his citizens, and not just the Christian ones.
And another person who helps run the TAs decided to respond as well:
I do need to clarify one point. The cross on the T was indeed borrowed from the City of Tallahassee’s logo. the basic “long design” of the TAs logo was my idea. When I was collaborating with the graphics artist , my intent was to use the City’s “T” and the “Atheist A” in the logo. The artist incorporated the outline of the capitol building, Tallahassee’s most prominent landmark, on their own accord. The point of both Tallahassee-centric design elements was to emphasize our ties to the Tallahassee community (I myself have lived here almost 17 years), and not only the fact that we are atheists. Rest assured that I researched the public domain issue prior to the creation of the logo.
I do have to agree with Mark about the supposed War on Christianity. I have not been engaging in any such war, nor has anyone I know. I simply want the Government to stay out of the religion business and take no stand either way: don’t officially invoke any god, don’t teach religion as science, don’t fund religion, etc. That we would disagree on that issue is puzzling, since I find it quite surprising that any religious person wants the government to tell them who and how to worship.
Thank you for your invitation, but I must decline. Please give my regards to your congregation.
But our angry christian friend was not satisfied to just let it die. He later posted this lovely example of christian privilege on his facebook page.
This picture honestly made my day. It’s just too stupid and funny. He spelled atheist wrong even though it’s right there in the picture! He also felt the need to add “godless” to “atheist”… yep, atheists are indeed godless. And dat font. But my favorite part was “Crawfordville [...] welcomes everyone else”, which apparently means that everyone who isn’t a “godless athiest” loves Jeebus. Derp.
Note: Obviously I don’t need to remind anyone here not to harass this man or anyone associated with him.