A couple of weeks ago, Sam reminded me that we were closing in on one hundred episodes of “Ask an Atheist.” It still hasn’t quite set in and become real for me yet.
I still haven’t quite grasped that in two years’ time, we’ve interviewed everyone from Sean Faircloth to Greta Christina to James Randi; we’ve done a live presentation of our show for the Northwest Freethought Conference in April, and we put on a event to make fun of an apocalyptic lunatic that got us international media attention.
But there’s something about triple digits that feels different. Not even the original Star Trek series made it to 100 episodes. Neither did Arrested Development. Or Cop Rock.
While my brain knows that we get regular listenership on six continents, I still find it a bit shocking when I meet someone who listens to us. I’m humbled and flattered that you like our weird little radio show enough to help keep us on the air for nearly two years.
When SCAN public access television went bust, and Sam and I — in the words of the great Peter Venkman — decided to go into business for ourselves, we weren’t sure the show would survive. The obstacles of fundraising looked insurmountable, but all of you proved us wrong multiple times.
Over the last couple of weeks, Sam and I have been asking you what our show has meant to you. We’d like to know if we’ve ever changed your mind, helped set you in your ways, made you laugh, pissed you off, made you see something in a new light, or maybe just made you hurl your radio across the room.
It’s only fair that since we’re asking you, that I should share with you what this show has meant to me.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never felt represented well in the media. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen a channel like CNN put together a roundtable discussion about religion or UFOs or alternative medicine and then populated that discussion only with people with differing degrees of the same position. I became tired of seeing multiple theists, conspiracy nuts or woo merchants fighting over the meres inches of difference between one person’s opinion and another’s.
One of the final straws for me was when CNN held a group discussion on the subject of the New Atheist resurgence of the last decade, without the inclusion of even a single atheist.
I was infuriated to hear two theists having the gall to pretend like it’s religious people who are the real victims of the culture war they started. As we’ve said more than once on our show and on this blog, it’s truly amazing to see people misrepresent themselves as victims of persecution because they’re not allowed to put their stamp of religious ownership on everything in our society.
And even more frustrating when I get to see these people vomit their bumper sticker phrases and outright lies without response or rebuttal. It’s the classic religious privilege answer. “We own this society and we let you live here without killing you or jailing you. So you should thank us for your second-class citizenship , shut up, and stop whining about it.”
And the saddest part is that the closest thing I can find in this discussion to a proxy for my viewpoint is a moderate theist, who agrees with them about atheists being mean aggressors attacking this Christian nation and shared the same dismissive attitude about anti-atheist discrimination.
That panel discussion cemented one thought in my mind. If I couldn’t rely on the media to represent my views in these sorts of discussions, then I would have to become the media myself.
Aside from “Ask an Atheist” giving me a platform to inject my own take on religion, skepticism and church/state separation, it’s also given us the opportunity to shine a light on plenty of other people like Sean Faircloth, Rob Boston, Mandisa Thomas, Greta Christina, Jerry DeWitt, and Teresa MacBain, who would have completely changed the tone of that CNN panel and whose constant media exclusion should anger us all.
For me, “Ask an Atheist” is just one part of a many-pronged response to the exclusion of our opinions and our voices from the mainstream media. I see our show as just another of a growing and vibrant Atheist Visibility Movement that has included billboards, bus ads, bestselling books and a 20,000 person Reason Rally.
We’re making ourselves heard, and I like to believe that “Ask an Atheist” is helping that movement built momentum.
We’d like to hear from you. What impact has our show had on you? Do we give you some relief from a week dominated by religious opinion? Do we make you throw your radio against the wall? We want your thoughts, your experiences and your stories — both positive and negative.
Please click the big, red shiny “Ask a Question” button on the front page of our website and have your say!