Over the weekend, American Atheists, the Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, and Truth Wins Out held a protest in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in defense of the teenager facing up to two years in prison on a desecration charge for taking a picture of a local Jesus statue giving him a mock-blowjob:
So what did the protest look like? A few pictures are below, but the video is more revealing. (An argument breaks out at the 8:00 mark and the arguments get more confrontation over the next several minutes.)
These are just glimpses of the protest, but just from what I’m seeing, there are two quick ways I think it could’ve been more effective:
All speakers should have unequivocally denounced the actions of the teenager while defending his (and everyone’s) right to “blaspheme.” They did this in a roundabout way, but it wasn’t a clear message. There wasn’t one slogan they were all behind. I suspect it was hard for the media to find a single unified idea from the protest.
Organizers should have found local religious leaders willing to speak at the protest. Maybe they tried and they all said no, but having two atheist groups and one LGBT-rights group lead the protest just fed into the (false and irrational) idea that this was more about slamming Christianity and less about protecting free speech.
The teenager faces up to two years in prison for his “crime,” though the District Attorney may not seek that amount. We’ll find out more details at the end of the week when the kid appears in court.