For the past few days, in Orlando (Florida), the RetailNOW conference has been taking place for those interested in the latest developments regarding retail technology (credit card machines and the like). Michael Gerber, a “small business guru,” was the speaker Monday morning.
So far, everything I’ve said should be putting you to sleep. Really, there’s no reason I should be writing about this at all. But in the middle of an otherwise uneventful talk, Gerber decided to trash atheists just for the hell of it (9:27 mark):
… A great entrepreneur is in service of another, not himself. No great entrepreneur is impassioned by money, is impassioned by fame, and [if] it is? It’s a bullshit business.
We’re in service. Whether you’re a Jew, whether you’re a Christian, whatever… you’re in service. What are we in service to? If we’re born in the image of God, we’re born to create… a world fit for God. That’s the philosophy. Whether you’re an atheist or not — if you’re an atheist, you’re stupid… I mean, who wants to finally settle and say “I’m an atheist” and believe that everything is about man?
I mean, I’ve had enough of man to know, I don’t want it to be, that’s the truth. If that’s the truth, I’m screwed.
I’m no business guru, but I’m pretty sure insulting your audience is typically a bad idea.
In fact, just after he said those words, Redditor “punkbyte” and his colleagues walked out of the room in protest, apparently causing Gerber to finally get off his tangent and get back on track. (He didn’t even do that well. At 17:24, he remarked on how “three atheists left” the room.)
This isn’t the fault of the Retail Solutions Providers Association, which ran the conference. They didn’t know Gerber would say this. But it’s just another example of how easy it is to insult atheists and get away with it. If he had called some religious group “stupid” during an address like that, there would be some serious repercussions.
Instead, the only thing punkbyte could do was leave a bad review in the conference survey.