Look, I’m not insulting the American Atheists. These aren’t insults, they’re truths.
Allow me to describe the ad in question, for our visually impaired readers: the headline is “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS”. The image is a bunch of silhouetted carnival tents with religious symbols balanced precariously and impossibly on top of them. The slogan is “American Atheists â€¢ Telling the Truth since 1963”.
Let me say one thing before I go on: this ad can most likely be branded a success because it accomplished what I can only assume was the ultimate goal â€” it caused enough commotion to get this guy on Bill O’Reilly:
I know I know I know, Bill O’Reilly says he doesn’t know how the tides work and he thinks that’s proof of a god. LOL. FYI: Bill O’Reilly knows how the tides work and he knows that pretending his homespun simpleton brain is awed by this mystical experience will appeal to his fan base. So yeah let’s forget about that and focus on this:
SILVERMAN: We’re luring the atheists out of the pews.
O’REILLY: You’re luring them out . . . ?
S: We are . . . we’re telling them that this is not a 1% . . .
O: So they’re going to see a sign and say, “You know what, that’s right . . . ”
S: If that’s not the case then I’m not here on the O’Reilly Factor now am I?
I guess he’s saying the goal is to reach out to closeted atheists, and getting shouted down on the O’Reilly Factor means mission accomplished? Okay David Silverman! Good job dressing up like Satan on Fox News. Big success, bro! High five! (I assume all people with facial hair like that use the word “bro” liberally while high-fiving. Beelzebub loves a good high five.)
But the thing is, all religious people are closet atheists, apparently:
S: EverybodyÂ knows religion is a scam!
O: Everybody knows? I don’t know . . .
S: Yes, you do.
OH okay thanks David Silverman. So then this billboard is meant to be directed to everyone. Everyone who KNOWS religions are SCAMS. Which he says is everyone. Okay, got it. Thanks for telling me that truth, Truthy McTrutherson.
Maybe this billboard really will help lure some of the atheists out of the pews. Maybe there are a lot of atheists going to church in that area who see this sign or watch that O’Reilly Factor and think, “Hey, I’m a giant douchesuck and I enjoy spending time with other douchesucks. I will attend this meeting.” Because really, even douchesuckÂ atheists need their own space to gather and talk about how much smarter they are than everybody else.
But I know there are some organizations out there who want to reach out to other kinds of closeted atheists, like the closeted atheists who don’t necessarily think the religious people around them are all secretly atheists who are too spineless to say anything. Maybe your organization, like apparently AA, doesn’t have a seasoned copywriter or designer on staff. Maybe you only have a guy who has a pirated version of Photoshop 7 and knows how to use the gradient tool. That’s okay! You can still make a better ad than AA’s. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t CAPITALIZE the WORDS you think are IMPORTANT. People will think that you are SHOUTING AT THEM or using INTERNET IRONY (see image at right). If you must indicate emphasis, try italics.
- Don’t claim to have the Truth. Many atheists consider themselves freethinkers who test their beliefs using logic and reason. They generally don’t enjoy being told what the Truth is by some third party. That is what religions tend to do and it is fucking annoying.
- Is that thing seriously a billboard? (Really: I do not know.) Don’t make your billboard look like a banner ad you pulled off your Geocities site in 1995. When in doubt, go for simplicity. If you can’t draw a mosque silhouette, don’t bother trying.
- Double check the spelling, punctuation, and grammar on your explanatory web page. Try to avoid possibly derogatory words like “gypped.”
I hope that helps! If anyone from AA is reading, I sincerely hope you are not insulted by my truths. I look forward to receiving an invitation to your next conference, where I will give my helpful talk Consecutive Hyphens, All-Cap Words, Double Spaces After Periods, and Other Things You Don’t Need to Do Now that Typewriters are Gone.