JamesRandiFoundation YouTUBE Account Suspended

Editor’s note: The JREF YouTUBE account has been restored, news and information here, James Randi Speaks: YouTUBE Suspension.

I don’t know how to respond to this – primarily because I have no clue why it happened – but all I can say right now is that this is stupid on the face of it. James Randi is an amazing illusionist (it’s right there in his stage name) and he’s also an excellent resource for looking into the false claims of psychics, scam artists, con artists, and televangelists who claim faith healing and other unproven and grossly bogus activities.

And now his channel has been suspended by YouTUBE. It is not uncommon for people like the above to run false flagging campaigns, to misuse the DMCA, and to otherwise abuse the law and other resources to attack venues like YouTUBE in order to suspend their detractors. And YouTUBE, following the DMCA law and their own policy in a fashion bereft of actual wisdom—suspend on whim.

TO HELP COMPLAIN TO YOUTUBE ABOUT THIS

http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/static.py?page=troubleshooter.cs&problem=account&selected=asked_to_login&ctx=account_asked_to_login_55755

Scroll to the very bottom and click on “new issue” Select “suspended account” from the options and express your opinion.

The mediafire link is:

http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=4d77967b07dff9ac8c9e7c56ba37815f99433de67f37e9e4

Thank you

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, March 28th 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog for Saturday, March 28th 2009.

Once again, Mill Ave is shut down due to the visitation of the Tempe Art Fair. White tents take up the center of the road, leaving the street open to all comers and passersby. The Resistance was sparse today but thick enough to entertain themselves on the preachers who came out to do some speaking. As usual, they found them set up in the middle of the intersection at 5th and Mill Ave—the diagonal between Urban Outfitters, Coffee Plantation, Hippie Gypsy, and American Apparel.

The Resistance consisted of Rocco and Gadfly, with a visitation by Kazz and Spyral.

Amazingly, the old-school core components of the Way of the Master evangelical group made it out! The preacher crew turned out to be Al, Jeremiah, Richard, and one other new individual of unknown disposition. This created an unexpected reunion of evangelical preachers who haven’t been out in a very long time. It’s been several months since either Richard or Jeremiah have been seen by the Resistance. Much to the amusement of all, Jeremiah took the stand later in the night and delivered his usual speeches—the rest didn’t really spend much time on their amps for the time people were out there to listen.

The notable event of the night didn’t involve the street preachers at all; although the night did end with Rocco and Gadfly with Jeremiah in front of the Brickyard.

It is reported that, earlier in the night, an itinerant busker took exception to one of Gadfly’s signs, set down his guitar, took it from her, tore it in half, and smacked her across the face with it. The sign in question was a rendering of the “BUTTSEX 4 JESUS” whiteboard-and-black-marker that originated at the protest against Brother Jed. He says that hitting her with the sign wasn’t intentional. This particular busker—an itinerant man, with a guitar, sporting a heavy, rounded dark beard of about an inch, usually sits between Hippy Cove and the Mill Avenue Jewelry store—has been on the Ave for possibly a little over a month. I haven’t gotten his name yet but I’ve spoken to him a few times about his guitar playing.

The evening wound down with Rocco preaching the gospel of the “Cookie-dough Dragon” at Jeremiah—and he even threw in some of his own criticism of contemporary Christian mythology and doctrine based on interpretations of their holy text, the Bible. I will try to paraphrase Rocco’s claim as I understood it:

The argument seemed to revolve around a prophecy from the Old Testament of the Bible which included a mortal patrilineal lineage for their messiah deity, Jesus. An event that wouldn’t make sense if the virgin birth also occurred, because therefore mortal Jesus would have no mortal father and therefore no possible patrilineal line to speak of.

FURTHER RESOURCES

  1. Gadfly herself has a narrative about what happened the night of Saturday, March 28th on her blog that I invite everyone to check out.

Book Review: “Who Will Rise Up” Part III (Conclusion)

He quotes Dave Gross from a February, 1991 article in the Mustang Daily:

And nobody can argue that it doesn’t work. The crowds he gathers are as angry, rude and ill-behaved as any mob that ever vilified any prophet. And so later in his speech, when he talks about how today’s students are obnoxious and have no morals…well, you can’t really argue. (p. 142.)

Yes you can. Anyone who’s taken a first year sociology class or any social statistics knows that they’re looking at a stacked deck when they regard the group that remains. We’re not seeing a truly random cross-section of student culture; we’re observing a carefully sieved and weighed slice promoted by the very behaviors previously described in the article—in fact Mr. Gross points it out for everyone by stating, “And nobody can argue that it doesn’t work.” That’s correct: It worked to gather an angry crowd of people, insulted by Jed; not a statistically significant population that properly reflects the entire student body to support that last assertion.

A multiple of chapters is dedicated to family life, one entirely to Cindy, his wife, and how women should submit themselves to men. “I often say on campus that no matter how much she denies or fights it, every woman has a God-given desire to marry and bear children for a man who will lovingly rule over her.” (p. 167.) That chapter continues into narratives describing the conception and birth of two of his daughters and their place in his campus-to-campus ministry at early ages.

When he reaches childhood education, Jed would like everyone to know that the establishment of public schools by the state is taken directly from communism—“It is not the proper function of the state to provide education. ‘Free education for all children in public schools,’ is the tenth point of The Communist Manifesto. When the state controls education, it controls our children and our future.” (p. 178.) He then fails to source his claim or demonstrate evidence; the connection to The Communist Manifesto is not evidence because it’s a perfect invocation of a fallacy by appeal to spite. He appeals to the emotions of the audience via connecting public education to communism but fails to draw any actual connection with the manifesto to our incarnation of public education; and he even fails to source exactly why anyone should care other than because people of his era don’t like communism. Furthermore, Just because there are public schools does not prevent people from putting children in private schools; and it certainly does not prevent them from supplementing education at home.

Pastor Glen concludes, “The human eye is so complicated that it can function on as an integrated unit. Which means it’s scientifically impossible for the human eye to evolve piecemeal, as natural selection requires, because the eye is totally useless unless fully developed. (Remember, natural selection is supposed to cancel out useless organs and appendages!) Indeed, such sophisticated design is itself powerful evidence that there must be a designer. So the Bible looks better than evolution when It says man was made by God! (p. 266.)

Yes. He went there. I understand that this book was apparently written in 1995, but for someone with a college education, Jed certainly doesn’t do his research before parroting what other people say. Fortunately for us we do have a number of resources at our disposal to readily show us that most claims of irreducibly complex systems are simply thinly veiled arguments from ignorance.[1] That, in fact, there are extremely plausible pathways that the eye could have evolved visible in extant versions of eyes in a multitude of differing animals.[2] Brother Jed does like to toe the party line of “evolution is incorrect and a lie,” but when it comes down to actually presenting any case for it he doesn’t go the extra mile, let alone the first inch.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’d say that most people won’t be interested in reading this book unless they’re looking for a biography of George Smock. It does that quite tidily, but skipping through the terribly formatted Bible quotes, and trying to navigate the irrelevant preachy segments is a little bit tedious. The table of contents certainly gives a reasonable road map for avoiding sections of the book that aren’t anything narrative and are only finger pointing.

The past narratives were probably the best part of the entire work; followed by the unintentional eye roll inducing humor of the parables like The Five Dormies. (p. 110-113.) Perhaps there’s some useful information about Brother Jed’s psychology in the other sections, but for anyone looking for substance will find themselves grasping at smoke.

Come to this book for the history, the narrative, and the pictures—and there’s many pictures. In the midst of the book, split between two sections, are select photographs from Jed’s preaching campaign trail. They create an interesting aperture into the past.

The life and times of Brother Jed.

Now close the book.

Part I | Part II | Part III


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity#Reducibility_of_.22irreducible.22_systems
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

 

 

Book Review: “Who Will Rise Up” Part II

Don’t look now, but Jed’s antiquated sexism is showing. Sure, he spends some time trying to rebut this before the fact in a previous chapter in a section called “Politically Correct” but even that reeked of sniggering gesticulation (p. 106-107). Readers might as well re-title that entire section “We Saw What You Did There.” Jed basically goes on about how the Political Correctness movement (which actually has nothing to do with these labels) could get people wrongfully labeled as homophobic or sexist for showing disagreement with mainstream mores. Well, okay, we can see that. Disagree with affirmative action and possibly get wrongfully labeled a racist. Display old fashioned traditional sensibilities with women and potentially get called sexist.

Many girls walk around campus braless and, on numerous occasions, to the delight of the boys, they have flashed their bare breasts toward me. No wonder there are so many rapes on college campuses. Those girls walking and jogging around campus with their shorts so short that their buttocks hang out are just asking for it. They might as well have a sign on their back saying, “Rape me, rape me, rape me.” (p. 114.)

Then, of course, there’s blatant showboating sexism. This, right after making craven veiled claims that his god “may be” condemning women to mastectomies and hysterectomies because of what he observes as today’s feminine immorality (p. 113).

“Masturbation is one of the first expressions of lust. Your masturbator of today is very likely to be your homosexual of tomorrow. Your homosexual of tomorrow could be your psychology professor of the next day. In fact, universities are graduating more queers than Ph.D’s.” (p 117.) Okay. So what? Jed certainly goes out of his way not to cite any sources, but it strikes me that this drippy “very likely” and “could be” language is just to cover up the baseless assertions that he’s trying to make. Although, I think that per capita a university must be graduating more homosexuals than Ph.Ds simply because of the sheer rarity of Ph.Ds and that—if a Ph.D is not statistically connected to homosexuality—there are therefore Ph.D graduates who are also homosexual. This entire paragraph was a childish appeal to ridicule.

Once again, Jed’s cherry picking reappears—this time in the reverse direction—he retells the story of Lot, instead of holding Lot on a pedestal, he’s attacking the people of Sodom. So now he brings up the rest of the story. “Lot had the same attitude, and he was vexed to the point of offering his own virgin daughters to a gang of sodomites.” (p. 118). This is part of the same story which Jed earlier used as an example of the Sodomites telling Lot not judge them; he portrayed the story as part of his illustration on using morals to judge behavior. This is Lot, after all, the only “good man” in all of Sodom and Gomorrah.

After further bad rhetoric and some poorly narrated stories about why he believes homosexuality is bad, Jed moves onto condoms. Here he has managed to cross the threshold from gibbering kook to outright jackass liar. “The AIDS virus is fifty times smaller than the tiniest pores of a latex condom. Using a condom to prevent AIDS is like using a tennis racquet to return B-B pellets.” (p. 122). This particular line of gibberish is brought to you not by a real misunderstanding of science done by the Center for Disease Control on the matter, but instead it’s a deliberately deceitful bit of propaganda forwarded by evangelists in 3rd world countries like Africa to preach against condoms—worsening the already horrible HIV epidemic in such places. George Smock is a reprehensible asshole for reprinting this lie.

“Most students may not realize that, when they use drugs, they are practicing sorcery. Sorcery comes from the Greek word ‘pharmakeia,’ which in English would be ‘pharmacy’ or ‘drugs.’ Anyone using drugs illicitly is practicing sorcery. ” (p. 124.) Firstly, this is a fallacy by etymology—secondly, he’s wrong: E. Sorcery comes from L. sors/sortis: fate, oracle. Perhaps he was confused by the meaning of AG. pharmakis or witch. Maybe he should have claimed instead, following etymology, that drug users were practicing witchcraft.

Part I | Part II | Part III

Book Review: “Who Will Rise Up?” Part I

Like most autobiographies, Who Will Rise Up? by George “Jed” Smock is a self-important narrative that smacks of purple prose sporting overwrought acclaims to his own prowess and condemnation of exaggerated villainy in the world. The strange bias of his writing is steeped in most paragraphs, any number of which take swipes at his old life. He also intersperses his text with Bible verses, which, instead of using italics for emphasis, he bolds so that they break up the narrative and legibility of the text.

The title of his work comes from the Bible Psalm 94:16, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”

If Jed’s theatrics on campus are any indication he certainly thinks romantically about his past experiences, so it is difficult to separate fact from silvery fiction in his book. Fun sections come out hither and yon when he snidely chuckles about how he can exorcize demons from people. One event happened on a college campus when he shouted in “Latin” at a man assaulting a woman—to which the man allegedly reacted by becoming docile, said “Okay,” and then left. (p. 70-71). Another account didn’t actually manage anything like expelling a demon. Instead he lay hands on a drunken man while in jail and shouted at him, startling the man awake. Jed calls the drunk man a “wino” in his prose. The assault, combined with him beginning to preach loudly at others in the jail cell with him, led the jailers to put him into his own cell (p. 87).

He has been the subject of multiple civil rights violations in regards to free speech on public property; however Jed doesn’t care about civil rights as much as he does spreading his own word. He capriciously condemns those who would defend his own right to speak freely and fails repeatedly to hold up his own civic responsibility when he feels like he’s “saved enough souls.” A great deal of his vituperative speech is directed against the culture that would stand with him in opposition to the sort of bad behavior of being arrested for speaking publicly. He will toe the line to get wrongfully arrested; but rarely follows through after the fact.

Like a lot of others like him, he also totally ignores or derides civil rights when they don’t agree with his agenda. He takes advantage of them when they’re in his favor, martyrs himself for them when it affects his freedom of speech; but when it comes to opening freedom of religion and speech to others he quickly shuts up or claims incredulity. In one example he is upset that chapel services and instruction had become optional—as if Christianity is the only proper and right religion to speak on campuses—and then decried this as a deathblow (p. 102). As if college students shouldn’t have a choice as to whether they’re going to listen to him or not; he espouses this while only a few chapters earlier he likes to laud himself for how many people “Didn’t have to stop and listen to him, but did anyway.”

“They disdain the one Book [sic] that unites races, ages, ethnic groups and economic classes into a common purpose.” (p. 106-107). We have to assume he means the Bible when he says “Book,” but really this book is also the origin of their god commanding the murder and genocide of multiple groups who were not the chosen people. So much for uniting ethnic groups; this book has been the basis of a multitude of atrocities based on these commands. The above quote is a common denominator of Jed’s style of cherry picking Christian mythology. In an earlier chapter he retells the story of Lot and the angels, only to leave out how Lot offered his daughters to the mob that came calling lustfully for the angels (presumably so that the mob would rape his daughters instead of the angels.)

Part I | Part II | Part III

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, March 14th 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

The Resistance didn’t see much in the way of anything to resist when they put foot on the Ave. They congregated for a while at different restaurants and mingled. It took them a while of wandering around the Ave before they eventually found a single, lone preacher way out by the now closed Borders. That would be Al.

Rocco held a sedate discussion with Al most of the night about civil justice. The crux of the argument hinged on how positive law and social justice work and how harm is involved. The usual assertion involves something to the end of “any transgression against an infinite god is therefore an infinite crime deserving of an infinite punishment.” Except that social justice is a system based on harm. Thus the suggestion of transgression suggests two things (1) that the Christian god can and must be harmed for a transgression to happen and (2) that harm is comparable to “infinity.” It seemed interesting that someone decided to take an argument about justice to this particular quote rather than the obvious argument by definition: “a finite harm to an infinite object is infinitesimal, a harm that approaches nothing.” Although, this did have a stake in Rocco’s argument as well as sidebar.

Most of the replies smacked of special pleading—claiming that one justice was different from another but failing to demonstrate why to any sufficient extent or dismissing the need to show sufficient cause. After a long period of responses that Rocco found inadequate, Al fell back on, “You don’t understand it because you don’t believe.” Quoting a passage from the Bible making a reference to “making fools of wise men.”

The rest of Mill remained totally empty of anything the Resistance would have noticed.

So they spent most of their time clustered around one of the inner flanges of the Borders’s building, letting Rocco intermittently talk to Al. Until he finally left around 11:30pm. Rocco did also have a lengthy discussion with Maurice—a writer who makes some money selling poetry on Mill Ave (and he also possesses a particularly Mark Twain aesthetic.)

Tonight proved pretty much to be a social excursion for the Resistance and lacked much activism.

Probably giving them a calm day before the storm of Brother Jed who is coming to bring his carnival act to ASU all next upcoming week.

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Friday, March 13th 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

Tonight the Resistance found Jonathan’s crew, including Phil Washer, milling around the corner of 6th and Mill Avenue at Hippie Gypsy. Later into the night Jim Coleman came out as well as Vocab Malone and his group—who were a lot more amiable and easy to speak with than Jonathan’s group.

The group with Jonathan brought with them one of the loudest amps that anyone has yet brought, almost as loud as Shawn Holes and Jeff Rose (if not in the same ballpark.) The cone-of-sound manages to compete with the louder buskers on Mill Ave. Accusations of its misuse have been mentioned as well including last Friday someone holding it against Rocco’s ear, and this weekend—directly witnessed—having it pointed directly into Omar’s face. The outcome of pointing it at Omar created a nearly 90 second feedback fencing match.

This activity is becoming more unacceptable as Jonathan, and his group, has moved from simply ignoring respondents to being part of assaults. They are failing fundamental civil responsibility by acting as bad neighbors to the Ave, causing injury, breaking the commons, and not engaging in actual discourse with the community. They should really clean up their act.

Jonathan appears to have modified his behavior to mollify would-be anger by other street practitioners who are out there to do their thing and make money by offering pale conciliatory gestures in his deafening speeches: “Buy some hotdogs, they’re $3, and they’re excellent,” and “Check out these paintings over here, some of them are $6 and they’re wonderful paintings.” This probably emanated from an earlier experience when James, owner of Bun Devils, became angry with Jonathan and his crew for stopping up the corner he sat at and thus caused fear that customers were being chased away.

A cameraman appears to have come along this time—well a camera at least—since multiple people carried the camera during the night. It was a large, heavy, shoulder-carried television camera with a huge fuzzy microphone.

Around 10:30pm the night really calmed down as the amplification went away and the groups broke up into smaller discussions.

I spoke for a while with Michael who came out to support his “Brothers in Christ,” as they did their thing on Mill Ave. He couldn’t stay long—as he had to take the light rail—but seemed to be around with Jonathan and Phil’s group. Our conversation was short, but he had a fairly decent affect; although, it was difficult for me to hold a conversation because my ears were still ringing from the earlier extreme noise.

Rocco, Omar, Isaac, Jim, and Vocab managed a long winded, winding conversation about almost everything from the historicity of Jesus, linguistics, anthropological evidence for the origins of Christianity (from neat stuff like ancient manuscripts) and … even a weird little passage from the Book of Matthew about an indeterminate number of Jewish scholars coming back from the grave and returning to their lifetime posts and jobs.

Kazz met with a pair of young women who stopped to look at some of the signs. One tall and overweight, the other small and quiet; the more vocal of the two professed her Christianity while discussing some of the tracts with him. Although, the conversation got a little bit strange when she admitted that she didn’t believe in dinosaurs because the Bible doesn’t mention them—problematically, I don’t think the Bible mentions microbes either, but we demonstrably have those. The conversation did eventually digress and dissolve and they went on their way.

Also, another one of Kazz’s signs from the speaker has also been stolen. One of the “MURDERER / MISSING” posters that hangs on the sides of the Resistance speaker has been taken.

Roosevelt Resistance Reports: Friday, March 6th 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

The Resistance left meetings at ASU taking cars and light rail up to the First Friday Art Walk, arriving in parts around 7:30pm and found an noticeable crowd attending the various parts of our favorite artists’ faire. They set up in their usual spot in the triangular easement between the split of 3rd at Roosevelt. Joining the Resistance again with Kazz also was Spyral who spent most of her time next to the Resistance speaker on Roosevelt.

The Way of the Master preachers set up on the same corner and also across the street closer to 4th and Roosevelt. In attendance we had Valerie, Al, Lee, John, Edwin, among other notable faces. Passing out tracts and using their amplification. Both the position on the triangle and across the street used amplification; and later into the night two positions were set up on the triangle on opposite when Edwin came from across the street to the triangle.

Omar spent most of the night talking to John2 from Streetfishing. He is the large male with a heavy face and loud voice who generally sets up on the opposite side of 4th and Roosevelt. He also brings two young girls with him ages ranging possibly between 8 and 10 years old, who he uses as an excuse to tell people to “Watch their language,” and also uses to pass out tracts. The girls are polite and quiet, clean up after themselves and attempt to avoid people littering tracts by simply dropping them on the ground—it’s not uncommon to see them darting out from where they’ve huddled near John2 to hand one out.

During Omar’s stay John2 switched out once or twice with another preacher. They compose themselves of a behavior where they totally ignore Omar and other passersby who he offers his amplification to. No actual conversations happen. They spend a lot of time claiming the attention of members of the general public and then make broad claims about respecting them when others who are in the cone of the amplification want to also ask and answer questions.

At one point Omar began playing EBM music in between his questions and John2 approached him.

“I appreciate the discourse,” John2 said to Omar, “but the music is beneath you.”

“We don’t really have a discourse, though, you just ignore me the entire time,” Omar replied.

And there certainly was none the entire time that I observed.

Amid those who took up Omar’s offer of amplification—he would switch to his megaphone—were a few young ladies, a passing man, and Nicky, a bespectacled, outspoken young woman who had joined him last First Friday when speaking to John3. As always, the Streetfishing preachers spent most of their time totally ignoring them, using mirror-speech, and expectedly ordinary rhetoric on anyone who stopped to talk to them. Ignoring Omar and Nicky also managed to produce something of a cacophony on that corner very similar to what happened to the WoTM preachers on Mill when they wouldn’t reply to the Resistance early on.

The crew from Rocky Horror Picture Show passing out pamphlets also came to visit the WoTM preachers on the triangle at 3rd and became embroiled in some sort of strange siege, with black fishnets, lace, and eyeliner—oh and golden underwear (as per an overweight Rocky with a friendly face and red fliers for all.) After a small discussion they dispersed, took over the corner there, and handed out their fliers by pronouncing ecumenical acceptance of everyone using talking points counter to common Christian fundamentalist rhetoric. “At RHPS we accept you even if you’re gay! We don’t care. Bi? Come with us! Boy. Girl. Whatever. RHPS is the place for you.” Their position and the verbiage certainly increased the number of people who took pamphlets from them.

The WoTM and Streetfishing preachers finally left the area around 10pm—slowly filtering out as that witching our rolled around.

The night wound down with a few groups of Christians stopping to talk to Issac, Rocco, and Kazz. At last one of them had an alpha who promised to pray for Kazz, and another promised to pray for Omar. To which he stated that it wouldn’t have any effect, she said she was going to pray anyway.

During one encounter, Spyral stood by handing out various tracts as Kazz was speaking as the conversation necessarily wended between common points from the Nephilim. When Spy attempted to give one of the atheist tracts to one of that group she was roundly refused.

“Why won’t you take it?” Spyral asked.

“Would you take a tract from me?”

“Yes.”

“Why would you take one if you don’t believe in God?”

This went around a few times where Spyral pointed out—like I would—that we do actually read all of the material we take. That, in fact, taking a tract is precisely like giving someone else time to speak to us, time to listen to their words. It is extremely common that tract bearers will refuse literature from us after we accept it from them; it is also common for them to not want to listen to us while at the same time proselytizing. This group managed to both listen and speak, but that fell down when it came to exchanging tracts.

One of the members of the group mentioned that this was her first time at First Friday but she had not been able to take any time to enjoy the booths and artists because she had come out to hand out tracts. Notably, a similar thing happened to Spyral because she kept to the Resistance speaker and didn’t manage to spend time around the various artists and music.

Hopefully next time both can have a much better experience by being able to be part of the celebratory atmosphere, the art, and the glimmering amazement that is the Art Walk.

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, February 28th 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

The Resistance appeared on Mill Ave at about 8pm. Almost every corner had been taken up with various entertainers, people doing Mill Ave work, and other functions. The first encounter that members of the Resistance had with anything related to their mission was an offhand conversation about Christian convictions between some common folk mingling.

Eventually, Al, Jim Coleman, and Valerie set up in front of the Post Office and were immediately met by Kazz and other members of the Resistance. Although, they were quickly siphoned away to a set up that Omar had taken at Urban Outfitters which became more of the Resistance corner than anything else—no preachers countered them at all.

Edwin wandered past during the night commenting that he and others had gone to check out the light rail.

“Do you ladies believe in goodness?”

It was one of the WoTM preachers speaking out to a group of down-dressed young women who sauntered past, chuckling in alcoholic glow. The reply, however, came from a small cluster of young men. “No!” they shouted past, and burst into a fit of laughter.

“These guys don’t believe in goodness,” the preacher said. “Very dangerous guys.”

Dangerous to themselves at least, as they immediately crossed the street against the light without looking.

The only other noteworthy event was when Strawberry Joe had a conversation with Valerie about religious convictions. Earlier that night he professed to me that he had changed his mind about diesm, and talked about his stroke experience. He had a cerebral event and knew that he was dead. This probably was what he talked to Valerie about, but it’s difficult to get him to form coherent sentences sometimes so I doubt that conversation went anywhere with a rapidity.

Beyond that, the night was singularly boring, it had little going on, few people stopped to talk to the WoTM preachers—but lots did stop to talk to the Resistance group and Omar in front of Urban Outfitters with his “GODLESS 4 GOODNESS” sign. Rocco spent a bit of the night using his newly bought megaphone to heckle Al at the Post Office, but eventually he must have grown bored of that as well as nobody paid much attention to them.

Mill Avenue Resistance Reports: Saturday, February 21st 2009

The Mill Avenue Resistance reports are written by Kyt Dotson as an extension of anthropological research on the population of Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. Since the Resistance does their protests Friday and Saturday there are two reports a week. The supporting material not related to the Resistance reports can be found on the Under the Hills blog.

Today saw an increase in the total activity of drama and exposure of evangelical preachers on Mill Ave that hasn’t been seen before. Some old people have returned, and some new people have made themselves noticeable. And there were some major disruptions caused by their presence because of friction with local businesses.

The night opened up with Brant and his blonde companion camped out at the Post Office without amplification, holding a sign talking to passersby; Jeremiah, Al, and other Way of the Master evangelical preachers set up in front of Borders; and Jonathan—around whom the most major drama erupted—decided to set up in an unorthodox place: at 6th and Mill Ave in front of the Hippie Gypsy. This is probably because there is little room kitty-corner from the Hippie Gypsy, Bruce the spray-paint artist had taken the Urban Outfitters corner, and Coffee Plantation security is well known for harassing people who set up there.

The Resistance split themselves between the Hippie Gypsy corner and the Borders corner for the first part of the evening after members heard that Jeremiah had returned to the Ave. He is well known and spoken of among them because of his particular unchanging preaching style, defiance against changing his show to match current fact, and his interestingly abrasive speaking style which include known insulting falsehoods, and now quickly irrelevant non-facts presented as truth. “I don’t believe in atheists,” said Jerimiah. “If you say that you’re an atheist or an agnostic, I don’t believe in you.” In spite of his infamy drawing Resistance members that direction the real action seemed to keep itself at 6th and eventually everyone focused on those corners.

Along with Jonathan came a couple other speakers including a man named Phil who wore a tweed snapped-peak cap. When they set up with their loudspeaker it drew the attention of a Bun Devils hotdog stand worker—a tall black man, with very short, thick black hair, and a red “Bun Devils” t-shirt—and the owner James. Together they repeatedly complained at Jonathan and Phil about their speaker, at the crowd themselves to go away, claiming that the people with amplification had no right to be there several times; repeating that they were driving away business, that they were losing money.

James set off the car alarm of his large SUV parked right next to the corner (and his store) at about 9:34p.m. and was finally deactivated thirteen minutes later when three police officers on bikes showed up and waved James over. His discussion with them apparently did not favor his desire to remove the preachers, the Resistance, and the crowd from the corner, however, because they didn’t stay to talk about it.

Some exchanges with Jonathan became rather funny because the worker from the hotdog stand would come over and engage him in attempted conversation. Often, to which Jonathan would interject into his preaching that people should go buy hotdogs, but he also spoke some about the car alarm going off—“We are here today. We’re Christians. I don’t want to yell, but there’s a lot of noise.”

“I want you to buy something,” the black worker said.

“I have no money,” replied Jonathan, rubbing at his pockets with a shrug.

“Then go somewhere else!”

At another point, James went out and waved twenty-dollar bills at Averroes and Phil while they argued on the corner complaining that he’d give them money if they would only go away. At this point it was because both of them were using amplification and he just wanted them to change corners.

“I don’t want to hear them fussing,” James said. “That’s why I left my home and came out here tonight—because I don’t want to hear my wife and kids fuss, now you guys are making me sick to my stomach.”

At one point one man, looking for a fight or drunk, knocked Kazz’s “THINK FOR YOURSELF” sign out of his hands.

Hippie Gypsy increased the volume of the music that they play from their overhang, possibly in their own passive-aggressive gesture to show the crowd/preachers that they didn’t want them there.

Finally near 10 p.m. the preachers decide to take their show across the street in front of Coffee Plantation. Security there manage to not harass the set up there. Kazz even went to his vehicle and got his amplification (which had not made a debut yet.) About then another group of evangelical preachers appeared and began using the amplification that appeared to be similar to, if not actually, Jonathan’s amp—although he wasn’t seen again, but Phil was still around.

One of the new group said something about “Campus Ministry” who were visiting. Amid them a few names that were picked up by members of the Resistance were Shannon, a visiting scholar who was introduced as someone who “liked to argue with skeptics,” and happened to spend time talking to Joe; and Scotty B. who started out the night by talking to Kazz, trying to hold conversations with superfluous equivocation discussions about the “laws of logic” even though that’s not what he meant (he listed off a number of logical fallacies and rhetorical rules, but it was difficult to understand what he was getting at.)

Rocco and Joe managed the floor with the new group of preachers for most of the night. Rocco spending most of his time attempting to explain how claiming that something is “outside of logic” is akin to being able to make no claim about it at all because the very foundations of logic (truth values, for example) could not be applied to it rendering any substantive discussion of it utterly moot. Joe talked to Shannon for a while, rolling around logical arguments including the “omnipotence and omniscience” together form a contradiction in terms. Including certain other direct problems with special pleading for the supernatural.

Jonathan vanished sometime near 11p.m.

The new preacher groups left Mill Ave at about midnight.

Overall a few interviews were had with various elements, but it was difficult to formally report on individual events. Since tonight was particularly scattered, members of the Resistance and others in the public are encouraged (moreso than usual, if we may) to reply to this post and add to the knowledge of the experience.