Brian Flemming Explains the Rationale of the Blasphemy Challenge

Chris Hallquist and Brian Flemming both weigh in on the recent debate about the Blasphemy Challenge. I've already commented on it here, and here.

As the creator of the Blasphemy Challenge, I really liked what Flemming wrote. He said: "...negative press is part of the goal of the project. Seeking positive press is a fool's errand for any atheist. I have no desire to rub up to the mainstream media and beg them to present atheists as slightly less evil, and to call that a public-relations victory." He went on to say, "But the Blasphemy Challenge was a publicity stunt conceived in the real, rough-and-tumble, knife-fight media world that we actually live in, and, critically, it was designed to actually make a difference in our culture -- to shake people up and force them to encounter a new idea. The goal was not to have the press proclaim what nice, decent, upstanding, middle-of-the-road people the founders of the Blasphemy Challenge are. The goal was to manipulate the press into discussing religion as harmful superstition. And it worked."

Flemming concludes by saying, "One goal of radicalism is to move the middle -- and the more press the Rational Response Squad and Blasphemy Challenge get, the more the "nice guy" atheists become the middle of the discussion instead of the scary extreme. In terms of overall media manipulation, that's a good thing. But I sure hope the nice guys don't spend too much oxygen condemning us radicals who have the audacity to call superstition by its name. Because that would be a waste of the new platform the nice guys are being given."

I agree. I suspect people like Lazarus and Brayton simply don't understand the media and the value of radicalism, that's all. I just think they should become better informed about these sorts of things before they go off denouncing something they don't understand.