Monday, May 26, 2008

I Understand Where I Am, Part III

This post isn't about racism. Rather, it's about another form of bigotry that I mentioned in the first of these articles:

My own experiences with prejudice have been nowhere near as dreadful, but they at least help me imagine what it's like for ethnic minorities here. Part of that experience is being an atheist in America. We're probably the most openly despised group in America.

Here's an example of what I mean. In Mojave, California, there's a Ford dealer who seems to think that his religious beliefs entitle him to tell the rest of us to screw ourselves:

Here is a transcript of the ad, with the missing part in blocks. Karen has more recently heard the ad, so I'm putting in what she remembers.

["Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, "Under God" out of the Pledge, and "In God We Trust" to be taken off our money?"]

"But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Kieffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don't tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that's tough, this is America folks, it's called free speech. None of us at Kieffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Kieffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don't see you today, by the grace of God, we'll be here tomorrow."

Well, Mr Kieffe, you won't be seeing me either today or tomorrow. And you certainly won't be seeing my money. What an asshole. It seems that he is for free speech for himself and his majority, but the rest of us 14% are second class citizens who need to "sit down and shut up." Also, his percentages are wrong. According to the Pew Poll, 10.6% say they don't believe in God, and 73% identify as Christian.

Some Exciting News About the Kieffe & Sons Ford Ad

In case you're not sure, yes, these guys are advertising, over public airways no less, that their religion is the only one that counts in public discourse. And yes, they're bragging about their courage for slagging what are certainly a very small minority of people in their region who have demonstrated no special tendencies toward violence or political activism. In short, they're cowards as well as bigots. That's one of the reasons I'm pretty sure they don't care about either Anna Lemma's money or mine. PZ Myers observes:

One sad thing about that is that it is probably effective, and I would be unsurprised if the ad is doing well for them. The dealership is in a conservative part of California (Mojave), and I suspect the area has fewer than 14% in the group they've just kicked to the curb. In addition, the ad probably simply reinforces in-group loyalty for the dominant Christian audience.

What if they wouldn't sell cars to uppity blacks, Jews, and women?

That's fancy scientist talk for "appeals to people's prejudices". The sad truth is there are plenty of congenital losers who will find such an appeal appealing.

I've encountered plenty of Christians who would be just as appalled as I am at this sort of thing. I suspect they're in the minority, though. This sort of prejudice sells. As PZ Myers implied with the title of his article, if they couldn't get away with it, they wouldn't do it any more.

UPDATE (May 28): The car dealer, Rick Kieffe, has apologized for the ad:

“It’s just something that went by us,” said Kieffe, who does not attend church but considers himself “a Christian spirit.” “We’re obviously sorry that it offends a given segment who identifies themselves as atheist.”

Car dealer regrets ads urging non-Christians to 'sit down and shut up'

He went on to say it was some sort of mixup with the ad agency. I don't know if that's a valid explanation or not, but the article makes Kieffe sound pretty sincere (for a car salesman. ;) )

Those who haven't seen them yet should stop by the Anna Lemma article and read the comments. I mentioned that this prejudice is deep in many Christians, and you can see it from some of the comments. They really seem to believe that since they're in the majority, it isn't anyone's country but their's.


Barry said...

I don't understand why Kieffe & Sons would trumpet the ignorant bigotry of its owner in the context of a commercial advertisement.

The United States Constitution is clear about religious tolerance; this dealership comes down on the other side. I would never patronize such an anti-American business.

Cujo359 said...

From a strictly business standpoint, it makes no sense to me, Barry. Why honk off potential customers when you don't have to? Even if you assume it's only 14 percent of your potential market, it doesn't seem worth it. Nevertheless, they did it. That's one of the reasons I suspect that this is a prejudice that runs deep in many Christians.