Anti-atheist Article Published Again in Campus Newspaper January 7, 2010

Anti-atheist Article Published Again in Campus Newspaper

***Update***: Lucy Gubbins, the president of the Alliance of Happy Atheists, had a response to Richards’ article published in the same newspaper today:

Wading through such journalistic gems as “idiots” and “dipshits” (in reference to atheists), I was unimpressed and bored by this “flamebait” of an article, which served no purpose but to present the author’s obvious and unabashed hate for the non-religious community. It gave the reader no argument, no information, no nothing; it was simply an uninteresting, uneducated diatribe that read more like a mildly offensive YouTube comment than the legitimate article that should have been in its place.

While I wasn’t bothered by the article itself, I am bothered — and bewildered — by the fact that the ODE decided to run this article (three months after its original publication) in this issue, with no opposing view or added commentary included. Here’s to hoping that the ODE staff re-evaluates the process by which they choose off-campus commentaries. And here’s to hoping, too, that Mr. Richards finds some happiness in his life. Maybe he should come to one of our meetings.

A couple months ago, an article by Dick Richards appeared in the Daily Vanguard at Portland State University, trashing atheists in a way not commonly seen, even in student newspapers.

Get this straight all you condescending, egotistical atheists: You dipshits most certainly do have a religion. It’s ironically called atheism! You witness its creed whenever you try to convert everyone around you to your way of thinking.

That’s from a clearly well-reasoned op-ed piece…

The entire article is ridiculous, and not worth the time rebutting, but it’s important to point out that this never would have been published in any newspaper if Richards were talking about Jews or Muslims instead of atheists.

That was a couple months ago, though. So the editors and columnist apologized about it allA, right?

Of course not.

Not only that, the Daily Emerald, the student newspaper at the University of Oregon, reprinted the piece in today’s edition!

Has no one learned a lesson…?

It’s even more ironic when you consider that the campus atheist group at the University of Oregon is called the Alliance of Happy Atheists.

Greg Gant is an officer of the organization and he writes this in an email:

… The Alliance of Happy Atheists is strictly non-aggressive and we champion ourselves for our religious tolerance and hence we’ve become one of the largest student organizations on our campus.

We’re not terribly interested in the actual article, as the author, Dick Richards, seems to specialize in poorly written rants meant as flame-bait as he spends his time ridiculing popular local coffee franchises without much reason as to why. Its best to not even respond to attention-seekers.

We can take criticism but being called “dipshits” isn’t exactly constructive. Many of us are offended and also feel antagonized into a response.

How would you suggest the organization’s members respond to this article and the editors who published it?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Laura Lou

    What… the… hell?

    As a student in Oregon, I’m blown away that such a piece of crap could get published at one of the state’s public universities. Portland and Eugene are the most liberal cities in Oregon and are both atheist-friendly.

    I’d bet that writing a strongly-worded email is about all one can do, unless the article violates some university policy that I don’t know about.

  • I wouldn’t reply to the man at all, but rather contact the newspaper and explain why that type of letter is completely inappropriate.

  • ChrisO.

    Cut it out and put it on bulletin boards, in case any other students haven’t seen it. Wear it as a badge of honor.

  • LOL, Mr. Richards certainly lives up to his name — DICK.

    Honestly, all I can do is laugh at this. What else does one do when confronted with such idiocy?

  • Tony

    They could always write and submit an op-ed piece. “Mr. Richards, thank you for sharing your point of view with us. Certainly you have advanced your cause and created an opportunity for dialog.

  • Ann

    I smell a Bill O’Reilly wannabe.

  • TommyBoy

    Submit 3 editorials/letters to that newspaper, using the atheist one as the template. The 3 should have atheists replaced by “christians”, “muslims”, and “jews” respectively. See if they get published.

  • Humanists Harbor

    Wait, is this guy’s name Richard Richards? If so I totally forgive him for being a douche. How can he help it?

  • MathMike

    Day One: Resubmit the article with Atheist changed to Muslim, and the author’s name changed to Chris Christianson.
    Day Two: Resubmit the Article with Atheist changed to Gay, author put back to Dick Richards.
    Day Three: Resubmit the Article with Atheist changed to Christian, author changed to Allan Abraham.
    Continue the edits until the paper pulls it’s head out from it’s backside.

  • Dick Richards?

    Richard Richards?

    Dick Dicks?

    Mr. Brown: Lemme tell you what ‘Like a Virgin’ is about. It’s all about this cooze who’s a regular fuck machine, I’m talking morning, day, night, afternoon, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.

  • Todd Stiefel

    I would recommend they use this as an opportunity to educate. That means using it to get positive attention (which will not be hard when compared to the negative tone of the article that was published). This type of discrimination is exactly what we need to be educating people about.

    I would approach the newspaper and ask for an apology. While the newspaper is independent of the university, I would get also university administrators involved. I would ask them to help organize a campus forum on diversity to address discrimination against nontheists. This kind of event could get a lot of attention on campus and raise awareness.

    I would approach the university by reading an expert of the article with the word “atheists” replaced with the word “Jews.” I would start this with the first paragraph and end with the third paragraph. I would ask them how they would feel if this anti-Semitic ranting was published in the Daily Emerald. I would then let them know that it was published, but atheists were the target of the prejudice.

    We are in the middle of a major social equality movement. Just like our fore-bearers in the feminist, African-American and LGBT equality movements, we must take a stand when attacked.

  • Trace


    Oh my!

    I like Tony’s idea. If that fails, woodoo dolls.

  • codemenkey

    if there is any sense left in the world, then if one were to write this kind of garbage in the real world, dick^2 would be sued for libel, then immediately fired.

  • I am in favor of letting the author simmer in his own deluded illusion, and contacting the paper. It is important that we are completely calm and logical in responses of this nature, and that we let them know in no uncertain terms that this is not professional, ethical, or acceptable to allow your writers to go insane on an entire GROUP of people like this.

  • Min

    if there is any sense left in the world, then if one were to write this kind of garbage in the real world, dick^2 would be sued for libel, then immediately fired.

    On the other hand, I think one of the best signs that there is still sense in the world is that you can’t be sued for libel just because you’re an insulting asshole. Supporting the freedom of speech means precisely that you’re supporting the right for people to say things you don’t agree with.

  • stogoe

    I’d tell them not to listen to my advice, because my first instinct is to push Dick Squared into the fookin’ sack.

    EDIT: Min, I don’t think it’s agaisnt the concept of free speech to try and get people to stop calling you a baby-rapist or a genital-mutilator (unless you is one). There’s a reason that libel laws still exist.

  • joe agnost

    I second MathMike’s idea… it’s brilliant really as it points to just how easy it is the bash atheists where ~any~ other group substituted for ‘atheist’ would not get published.

  • Spread it as far and wide as possible.

    Also, am I the only one juvenile enough to get a kick out of the fact that his name is Dick Dicks ? (His parents were cruel which explains a lot of his anger) 😛

    Edit: Apparently I am not. lol

  • Revyloution

    Im outraged! Firse we should bomb the newspaper, then we should bomb the school! If that doesnt work, we should bomb the Oregon state capitol! If that doesnt work, we should get knives and go to Dick Richards home and try to cut off his head while he hides cowardly in a safe room!

    Since this is the internet, I need this disclaimer:
    This was a work of parody intended to draw the contrast between atheist indignation and the religious reaction to a similar event that happened to Muslims recently.

  • codemenkey

    …is not professional, ethical, nor legally or socially acceptable to allow your writers to go insane on an entire GROUP of people like this.

    fixed. 🙂

    On the other hand, I think one of the best signs that there is still sense in the world is that you can’t be sued for libel just because you’re an insulting asshole. Supporting the freedom of speech means precisely that you’re supporting the right for people to say things you don’t agree with.

    did you read the article at all? do you know what libel is? we’re not talking about a ‘blog here, nor a personal publication, so the “freedom of speech” argument just doesn’t fly (esp. since it refers to one’s right to freely criticize the government through speech and press, NOT to be a jackass).

  • Dick Richards? Really? So his legal name, I am guessing, is Richard Richards. I am also guessing that he was an accident and that his mother is passive aggressive.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    … all you condescending, egotistical atheists: You dipshits…

    All together now:

    You will know they are Christians by their love,
    by their love;
    You will know they are Christians by their love.

  • Joshua W.

    I read the entire article and in my opinion it is hardly worth the time to debate point by point. It is one thing to have an idealogical yet totally ignorant college student write a rant piece. My problem is with the editorial department of the paper.

    From The Vanguard’s website describing their organization:

    The tabloid format newspaper has a circulation of 5,000, and is distributed for free in the Portland State campus area. It publishes Tuesday through Friday during the academic year, and once a week during the summer. The newspaper’s approximately $300,000 annual operating budget is funded in part through student fees and in part through advertising revenue.

    The Portland State Student Publications Board, which consists of four students, four faculty members, and one community member, acts as the Vanguard’s publishing body. The board hires the newspaper’s editor each year, and the remainder of the staff is hired by the editor. Editors serve a one year term from June to June.


    The Vanguard is entirely student run, employing about 60 paid student writers, photographers, graphic designers and editors. The newspaper and its staff have won several collegiate journalism awards, including the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association General Excellence Award and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award.

    The current editor-in-chief is Sarah J. Christensen. The Vanguard’s advisor is Judson Randall, a former editor at The Oregonian.

    I don’t think that tabloid means scandalous or sensational like we are used to in the U.S., just that it is a smaller format paper. Either way it is a paper on a state sponsored university paid for in part by student fees. That is the big problem that I have.

    Feel free to contact Sarah J. Christensen at or by phone at (502)725-5691. I know I will.

  • This I thought was a good rebuttal from one of the links at the end of the page

  • Polly

    Same advice as on the internetz:

    Don’t feed the trolls.

    Their goal is to get a reaction. ANYTHING you say will only encourage them.

  • Daniel

    There is no need for rebuttal or outrage. This is his schtick. Check the other Rant & Rage articles by “Dick Richards”. It’s not exactly parody and I don’t think the writer is clever enough to actually be making a point. So yeah … who cares?

  • HarlotBug3

    As a former editor at a college paper I have one suggestion:

    Don’t write anything. Show up at the paper’s office and speak with the editor face to face, then speak with the faculty advisor face to face.

    Bring a tape recorder when you speak with dicky face to face.

  • sven

    Dickheads like these are best ignored. Attention is what they want.
    Ignore him, completely.

  • Siamang

    Nobody has suggested yet what I think the best course of action is.

    As a former writer for my college open forum paid by student fees newspaper… the answer is clear to me.

    Go write for the paper.

    If you’ve got one of the largest student groups on campus, it shouldn’t be hard for five or six or ten of you to give a semester or two to the paper.

    While you’re there, work on fixing the editorial standards. While you’re there, write articles that change the tone. While you’re there, change the culture of that newsroom.

    While you’re there, write, write, write. Publish, publish publish your point of view.

    That paper is YOUR paper. Whining from a distance doesn’t fix it. And is totally passive and unnecessary. A college paper’s lifeblood is students willing to spend free time writing and editing.

    Stop acting like whiney Fox News listeners and thinking a fucking protest changes anything. Get off your butts and go change that paper. It’s ALREADY your paper, and you’re letting it be run by whoever shows up.

  • ethanol

    Daniel says:

    There is no need for rebuttal or outrage. This is his schtick. Check the other Rant & Rage articles by “Dick Richards”. It’s not exactly parody and I don’t think the writer is clever enough to actually be making a point. So yeah … who ca

    With respect to the Vangaurd article, I agree. After all, where can poor writers with no coherent point to make get published, if not in their own student newspaper? However, it is the republishing in the Emerald that has me confused. This implies that someone on the Emerald staff thought this stuff was gold, or at least that it had something useful to contribute to the discussion. As A UO student, this has bothers me. I’m not offended (it takes better writing than this to offend me) but I would really like to hear the Emerald staff defend either the article or the choice to reprint it.

  • Jennifer

    Cal it what it is: Refuse spewed from a childish mind. It’s an attempt to incite some kind of battle and we should never fall for it. I recommend writing an editorial letter explaining the atheist position but never mentioning Dick or his sputum.

  • Siamang


    Some school newspapers operate as a public forum.

    This may be a paper that lets anyone write anything.

    In that case, it functions much like the internet.

    However they probably have some policies, like the writer must be student, faculty or staff, and that the article can’t be racist.

  • Norvegov

    Same tired arguments with a sprinkling of expletives. Nothing to see here, people. Move along.

    Though, I still cannot for the life of me understand the “the burden of proof is as much on you as it is on us” argument. For the hundredth time; extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, otherwise we have no reason to believe anything you say. There. Done. I swear the next time I hear someone say that I’m going to beat them with a sack of oranges.

  • I don’t think that Mr Richards knows what “atheist” means.

    It’s one thing, in general, to not believe in higher powers, and that’s fine

    What to do about it? Hmm. I must say that I think that Siamang has the best idea. Change the paper by being the paper. Reject this kind of nonsense as editors and policy setters rather than outsiders having a whinge.

    Not that I don’t mind a good whinge. I’m English, muttering under our breath without actually doing anything is practically a national pastime, but if you want things to change you actually have to be prepared to change things.

  • Travis

    Here was the Alliance of Happy Atheists response as published in the student paper today, Thursday.

  • Shireen

    As a member and committee chair of UO’s Alliance of Happy Atheists, I would like to ask the FriendlyAtheist readers to please contact The Daily Emerald to let them know that re-printing this rant was a blatant attempt to intimidate and harass the non-religious students on campus, especially those who are members in AHA! Our group is not so much upset at the author of the article, but are offended and confused as to why our newspaper would pick this 3 month old hateful rant and print it now. AHA! supports the free speech, even of those who disagree with atheism or our group. But this was not an attempt at an intelligent, respectful debate between the religious and secular; rather it was a deliberate attempt to insult a group of students at this school. If any of you have the time and motivation, we would really appreciate if you could go to the Daily Emerald’s website and send them an email letting them know that this was extremely discriminatory and unprofessional. Please don’t waste anytime trying to counter the illogical statements made by Dick Richards (that would be beneath us). We don’t care about some obnoxious douche who can’t write or argue; we do care about whether our campus newspaper respects their students enough to print good-quality and tasteful articles.

    AHA! Education Committee Chair,
    Shireen Noroozi

  • Katie

    I wrote the staff of the Emerald (as an alumnus of the U of O) and told them what I thought. I also linked and quoted for them the following:

    “Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An Atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An Atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.

    An Atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction, and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and enjoy it.

    An Atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.

    He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.

    He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.

    He believes that we are our brother’s keepers; and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.”

    Hopefully they will write some kind of balanced counterpoint explaining who we really are. /crosses fingers

  • Danny

    Cut it out and put it on bulletin boards, in case any other students haven’t seen it. Wear it as a badge of honor.

    ChrisO has got it right. Taking it seriously makes it serious.

    The comment at the top of the page for the original article also says it quite nicely:

    Is this a parody? I can’t tell.

  • Ed-words

    Go out and join FFRF (.ORG)

    That’ll show ’em!

  • AHA! supports the free speech, even of those who disagree with atheism or our group. But this was not an attempt at an intelligent, respectful debate between the religious and secular; rather it was a deliberate attempt to insult a group of students at this school.

    I hate to say it, but you’re not supporting free speech through your actions. We really don’t have a right to be free from being offended. We can’t demand that theists allow us to be heard to say things they find offensive, then turn around and cry foul when they do the same. You’re giving him what he wants by paying any attention to him at all. He’s an idiot; let his own words speak for him.

    We don’t care about some obnoxious douche who can’t write or argue;…

    Your response has said otherwise, and loudly. If you don’t care, don’t respond.

    Essentially, the response I’ve seen is “we don’t think he should be canned, but we do think he shouldn’t be allowed to speak his mind if it offends anyone.” Being politically correct isn’t going to help. Saying that his language is discriminatory and unprofessional really isn’t saying anything about whether or not he’s wrong. Much better to respond by countering what he says with a level-headed tone than by calling the PC police, I’d say. If it’s beneath you to respond, let it be beneath you, because going around telling everyone just how beneath you it is is a sign that it actually does matter to you. I think it should matter, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of saying so. But it should matter that he’s wrong, not that he’s a fool. Even a fool can occasionally be right, if he’s lucky. Dismissing him as a bigot won’t do anything to convince the people who might even slightly agree with him that his positions are unwarranted.

  • I think I should expand on that.

    I understand that it’s not even a free speech issue. It’s not unconstitutional for a student-run paper to censor a rabid viewpoint. But it’s still censorship, and I’m deeply committed to preventing that whenever possible. Yes, do contact the Daily Emerald’s staff. Let your complaints be heard. But also:

    1. Don’t act like it doesn’t matter. It mattered enough for you to respond and send out a call to action.

    2. Don’t refuse to refute simply because he made an ass of himself. His diatribe might be convincing to someone. After all, we do have people like Glenn Beck with millions of followers…

  • ethanol

    Sent this to the newsroom:


    This is of course concerning the recent guest commentary “knocking Atheism off its pedestal.” First off, as an atheist, I was not offended by this piece. It is far too childish and poorly written to actually be offensive. Confused might be the better word. Not so much about the writing of the piece, but rather the choice to reprint. It did occur to me that this article may not represent the views of the Emerald newsroom, and may have been published to encourage discussion. If so, it was a terrible choice. Completely lacking in substance, consisting entirely of sweeping generalizations and straw-man arguments, this article has no prospects for the beginning of an intelligent discussion. Perhaps you felt that, considering other, generally positive coverage of the AHA group, that balance was called for. If this was the case, I would encourage you to aim for a higher standard of balance than that found on Fox News. Balance could take many forms. I’m sure that there are religious groups on campus doing good things that haven’t gotten coverage recently. Not everything needs to be conflict. If criticism of atheism is really what’s required, I’m sure there have been more coherent and less bigoted arguments written.

    But even if this article was reprinted for balance, or for stimulating discussion, many people have instead interpreted it as the editorial position of the Emerald. After all It’s difficult to explain why you would reprint an article with so few redeeming factors, with no related counter-point, if you didn’t agree with it. If this piece does represent the views of any Emerald staff, they ought to have expressed these sentiments under their own name. If not, perhaps you should consider a word or two of clarification.

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for the generally good coverage
    AHA member

  • Aaron

    How would you suggest the organization’s members respond to this article and the editors who published it?

    Well, we could fly a hijacked airliner into the publisher’s office….Oh wait, that’s the other guys.
    I got nuthin’…

  • Greg

    Well, word is after tonight’s meeting that Oregon Daily Emerald may have an article in the pipe on Alliance of Happy Atheists (written by a graduate student who interviewed several of us, including myself, president Lucy, V.P. Greg K, and educational chair Shireen) which ads speculation that this article may have been ran just keep the Emerald from promoting Atheism too much.

    In any case, Lucy’s printed response I consider “good enough” for action taken as do the bulk of our members. I hope the next story that appears about us in the blogosphere is more positive. I’d like to know what merit they saw in said article but at the same time, its hard to look a gift horse in the mouth as its such a poor literary work. The anti-atheists look like frothing loons and we stand calmly and collected.

    For the most part, our group has been really well received and we’ve had very few conflicts (if any) as University of Oregon and the Eugene area tends to be pretty tolerate of alternative religions and embracing secularism.

    Thanks for all the positive support everyone. We took the time to read all the replies in this article, including some rather humorous observations, and the dubbing of “Dick Squared” for Mr. Richards.

  • muggle

    What Greg Gant put in his e-mail would be perfect. Well said, classy and he ain’t the one that comes off smelling like a rotten egg.

    I think I mostly concur with the beneath you thing. It’s so frothing at the mouth iditotic, it isn’t worth getting worked up about.

  • Insider Info

    @Siamang: Unfortunately, no one can just show up at the Vanguard and write for them. The editor-in-chief, Sarah Christensen, has fired more than one of her staff editors for stupid things like not writing enough promotional pieces about the student rec center (which the paper has devoted more front pages to than I can remember).

    Showing up at the staff office and expecting to be given a byline is not reasonable. However, I DO completely agree that the best way of dealing with these kids is to show up in person during prime office hours (afternoons on Mondays) and ask to speak with the staff editor and the staff advisor.

    Sending emails usually will result in being ignored and oftentimes their web editor deletes comments he finds to be too offensive to their delicate sensibilities. This year, the Vanguard is all about cheap attacks and is not at all about free speech or integrity.

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