More on Alice Shannon

I have mentioned this in the past, but reading the excellent Planet Atheism feed today highlighted a new take on it.

A post titled “Not all news is bad” Sacred Slut revists some of the issues and points out the Clarion was “tricked” by who ever posted the hate screed letter – obviously “Alice” doesn’t live in the Clarion’s catchment area…

I am still a bit intriqued though. While the paper did print a LOT of letters pointing out Alice’s nonsense, there were also more than the fair share of creationist crackpots and people who agreed with her diatribe. Were these people fakes as well? Do any real people write in?

Also, one thing which interests me is a comment made by the clarion (where they justify printing the hate when they would have ignored it if it was directed to black etc). It read:

In two days, we receive more than 30 letters. Some were angry with her. Some were angry with us. They said we should be ashamed of ourselves for printing it, and that we would never have done that if it were about blacks or Jews. They’re right, we wouldn’t have. However, to be an atheist, you make a conscious choice.

I find that interesting for a few reasons. First off, people are born atheist. The learn to believe in [insert imaginary being of choice] then some make the choice to grow out of this belief. Some are not taught the belief in the first place – and may indeed choose to convert to a cult of some description.

Now, while it is very true that people can not choose to change their skin colour (with one notable exception), does Judaism count as the same? Is being a Jew a religion or a “race?” I have heard arguments in both directions so I remain “agnostic” over the issue here.

Would the paper have printed a hate filled letter about Catholics, I wonder? (Or any branch of Christianity) Surely that is a choice in exactly the same way…