Daily Archives: August 10, 2011
William Michael Harnett, 1848 – 1892
The Trompe L’Oeil (“fool the eye”) Movement of the late 19th Century produced some of the most amazing paintings in a style so realistic that the images looked like three dimensional objects waiting to be plucked off walls. Of all the painters in this movement, William Michael Harnett, whose 163d birthday is today, was undoubtedly the most accomplished.
Harnett was born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland during the time of the potato famine. Shortly after his birth his family emigrated to America, settling in Philadelphia. Becoming a United States citizen in 1868, he made a living as a young man by engraving designs on table silver, while also taking night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and later, in New York, at Cooper Union and at the National Academy of Design. His first known oil painting, a still life, dates from 1874.
Another museum with a great Trompe LO’eil collection, including Harnett, was near my Connecticut home… the New Britain Museum. This is in its collection:
So a Happy Birthday remembrance for William Michael Harnett, one of my earliest “favorite artists.”
Let me start with a statement on my own religious beliefs: I am an atheist in the Stephen Hawking vein…there has been nothing in centuries of scientific discovery to prove the existence of God, nor are the mythological concepts of Heaven, Hell or any “afterlife” at all a reality. OK?
The proposal to make a cross shaped piece of twisted beams from the World Trade Center into a monument in a public space supporting Christianity triggered a response by some atheists that they should have an equivalent monument caused a controversy that Fox News covered. Let me also state my view here: neither of these concepts are supported by me. People’s beliefs should be private things in a free society and not be inflicted on others.
So, when I read this post on the American Atheist‘s blog (and, btw, this is an organization I’m not a member of… organized atheism is just another religion) about their Communications Director appearing on Fox News and the responses that were posted by listeners, I felt unsafe:
FOX News readers on Facebook started going off after Blair Scott, Communications Director for American Atheists, appeared on America Live with Megyn Kelly. Blair reports that when he returned home from his local FOX station for the interview that his voice mail was full of messages and his inbox had almost 200 hateful messages. “I can always tell when someone from American Atheists is on FOX news, because my Inbox explodes with hate email,” said Blair.
We can talk about the issues about this, but our friend William Hamby has put it well over at the Examiner. In addition, Practical Doubt was able to capture some more as well. Unfortunately, they blacked out the names of the guilty.
Moderators on FOX News’ Facebook page had been trying diligently to delete the violent threats, but not before they were screen-captured by a diligent American Atheists member named Robert Posey.
So how direct are these statements posted as comments on the Fox News Facebook Page? These were some of Posey’s captures before Fox had them deleted (and these do NOT have the poster’s names blacked out… as AA says, people should have responsibility for what they say):
What’s scary as well is the amount of support agreements they get from other readers. It is a good move that Fox is eliminating these as they catch them (why they don’t just set the keywords on their spam list, or set all comments to be reviewed before posting as I do on this blog, is confusing.) However, thousands, and perhaps millions of people see them’ and as William Hamby says in the Atlanta Atheist Examiner:
In a week or two, that Facebook page will be clean swept of any threats or incitements to violence. If anyone goes back to read it, they’ll see Christians and atheists arguing — not always politely, but without threats. The words on the page will be gone. But for me and my fellow atheists, they will live on as long as we live.
When I think of lunatics who have been able to kill groups of people based on the lunacy of extreme beliefs, I realize how the promotion of such concepts can trigger dangerous responses. I also realize that by printing some of these here, I may be doing the same thing… however this will happen here once and it will give you an idea of what is happening. If you think back to the Holocaust and what Jews (and the rest of the world) learned from it, this is a serious situation.
If those who believe in Christianity (or any other religion) need this kind of response to justify their unfortunate view of life, then more people than atheists should take notice and be ready to defend themselves.
- And They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love (tuibguy.com)
- Fox News Facebook Page Full of Death Threats Against Atheists (atheistrev.com)
- Jon Stewart crucifies American Atheists; re: 9/11 cross Continue reading on Examiner.com Jon Stewart crucifies American Atheists; re: 9/11 cross – National Humanist | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/humanist-in-national/jon-stewart-crucifies-america (smokesomething.wordpress.com)
- You Gotta Admire That ‘Christian Love!’ (arizonaatheist.blogspot.com)
- Fox News Facebook Page Gets 8,000 Death Threats (allfacebook.com)
- 9/11 Cross Controversy (dangeroustalk.net)
- Stephen Hawking on Discovery: No Need For A Creator To Explain The Universe (techie-buzz.com)
- Stephen Hawking explains the universe (scienceblogs.com)
- Hawking is an atheist (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)