God Bless America. . .

February 23, 2014 • 2:56 pm

. . and our God-given right to blow away anybody we dislike. This picture was taken in Kentucky, near Paducah and the Confederate flag I photographed on my recent visit.  These signs are in the window of—get this—a flower shop on the town square of Benton, Kentucky, which is, I’m informed, is “infamous around here for the KKK [Ku Klux Klan] openly soliciting donations on the town square not all that long ago.”


I suppose that after you shoot someone, this place provides flowers for the funeral.

The photographer is reader Manolo, who lives in the area and has his own atheist website in Spanish.

71 thoughts on “God Bless America. . .

    1. It does make you wonder what types of flowers they have and how one would enter such an establishment. It seems the owner has an itchy trigger finger. Have there been a lot of flower robberies in those parts? Besides, there are plants in there – why not have plants stand up for the owner & other plants? You just need thorny things! 🙂 Maybe watching Little Shop of Horrors could give some ideas.

    2. A Bouquet of Barbed Wire, perhaps.
      (Caveat – never watched more than a few minutes of the programme – I think I’d go and read an astronomy text book or something while Mum was watching it. Id have to Wiki it to try to figure out what sort of soap opera it was.)

    1. What evidence do you have that Coyne hates the First and Second amendments?

      Gun nuts are more likely to be racists, though, and the Confederate flag is a racist dog whistle.

    2. Ahh,I see from your link that you’re one of those “compassionate Christian conservatives” who loves guns. Well, first of all, you don’t get to call me “Coyne”, as I’ve emphasized here before. That’s just rude.

      As for the “right to bear arms”, that amendment in my view is for the antiquated purpose of a maintaining a militia, not to allow people to keep guns in their house. (See this article by historian Garry Wills making that argument.) I hate the way people like you construe that amendment to allow nearly everyone to have guns.

      At any rate, I suggest you frequent another website, as I don’t want your rudeness and snark here. You might try writing a defense of guns on your own site–you know, the one where nobody comments.

      1. Thank you, greatly appreciated. As my husband always says with regard to the Second Amendment: “Since when does a comma mean ‘disregard the first part of this sentence?'”

      2. “You might try writing a defense of guns on your own site–you know, the one where nobody comments.”
        Boom! Stay down! Sorry, I just really liked that 🙂

      3. He has only written 18 articles since October 2011, that’s in 28 months. I won’t expect his response of about six weeks.

      4. I hate the way people like you construe that amendment to allow nearly everyone to have guns.

        To be fair – that is the way the Supreme Court construes that Amendment as well. Twice recently.

    3. I personally love the First Amendment, because it allows me to say that the Second Amendment was an antiquated law at least 100 years and is now intentionally perverted into a marketing tool to sell more gun&ammo products to the most paranoid people living the country.

  1. The guy who lives next door to me has a sign in his window with the same slogan as that last sign on the bottom (survivors will be shot again). Drives me crazy.

    1. That why gun licenses are useful. For when people show themselves not able to responsibly handle a gun, say by themselves suggesting they aren’t.

      1. I don’t know the American classifications (does it vary by state?), but that would change the event from an un-planned response to an emergency situation, to a premeditated shooting, and therefore to charges of murder rather than manslaughter / culpable homicide / second degree / other terminology.?

        1. Not if “stand your ground” can be construed to apply. Hey, you never know, some of those survivors could be pretty threatening!

          1. I don’t recall having heard of “stand your ground” as some sort of legal precedent. Which, considering that my knowledge of US law is largely taken from press commentary, may not be surprising.
            Is it a common (e.g. many States) concept, and is it one that I’m likely to encounter (if someone pays me to go to America, it’s most likely to be Texas / Houston area)?

            1. Recently moved from Houston, TX, and “Stand Your Ground” is very much a thing there. Indeed, you can shoot and kill someone you suspect is breaking into your neighbor’s house, much less your own.

              1. So … what does “stand your ground” mean? Is it applying to the man with the gun, or the person being accused of doing something nefarious (such as having the wrong colour of skin, or the wrong income level)?

              2. “So … what does “stand your ground” mean? ”

                It’s a recent change in self-defense law that’s catching on in many states, enthusiastically pushed through by the gun lobby. Till recently most states’ laws required one to retreat from perceived threat whenever possible. Then the ‘castle doctrine’ appeared, which said you didn’t have to retreat if you were threatened in your own residence. Then that got stretched to ‘stand your ground,’ essentially saying it’s OK to use deadly force whenever you feel threatened.

                Obviously this is good way to get rid of the only person who might testify that there was, in fact, no threat-to-life at all.




  2. A rural county Idaho sheriff had a poster on his office wall of a drawing of a black male adult running with a watermelon tucked under his arm. The figure was framed in a gunsight. A visitor snapped a photo of the poster, and it found its way onto the internet. The sheriff was surprised the poster was considered offensive, and complained loudly about violation of 1st and 2nd Amendment rights. He agreed to take the poster down, reports said. I’m kinda surprised it isn’t on that flower shop wall next to those three signs.

    1. Oh dear. I’ve met people like this when I used to work in a camp ground in my youth while putting myself through school. They would tell really racist jokes and not understand why they were offensive. It made me wonder what it must be like living where they live.

      1. As someone who lives in a place like that, it’s really great if you believe that the color of your skin is a direct means of determining how much you’re worth as a person.

        If you don’t happen to believe that, it really sucks.

        1. I happened to catch David Cross on Real Time one night (I think David Cross is hilarious – his comic timing is genius and he was at his best on Real Time)and he mentioned something like that. He said people there are nice but mostly they are nice to you if you are like them.

          1. Let me tell you, it is really awkward being in a room where you’re the only one who isn’t laughing after someone tells a really foul “joke”* about the current First Lady.

            *Scare quotes because calling it a joke suggests there was actual humor involved when there wasn’t.

        2. Good observation, The state of Georgia supports a monument to the “hero’s” of the confederacy, Stone Mountian, and now a neo- confederate support group for the vanquished southern war to preserve slavery wants to allow people to openly display the confederate battle flag on state issued licenses plates, the culture and sentiment behind this effort is crystal clear just as the meaning being communicated on those signs posted in Kentucky is.

  3. It’s a bit older, but this story by Dana Hunter over at FreethoughtBlogs, about the stand-your-ground laws, is still worth it:


    Reminds me of a quote from a fantasy novel: “This is barbaric! Where we come from, a town with laws like these would get burned down, all adults slain, their children sold into slavery, the ground then plowed, and strewn with salt.”

    1. Yeah, this is really barbaric. A very good friend of mine was murdered, gunshot to the head, while he was standing at the front entry of the murderers house, unarmed and not attempting to break in.

      The murderer is a drug dealer. My friend was there to pick up the woman he was dating at the time. She was an addict attempting to get clean and had fallen off the wagon. I am sure my friend was upset. While standing there waiting for the murderer to open the door, the asshole shot him in the head from a window to one side of the door. The murderer got off scot free specifically because of relatively new “castle doctrine” law that was subsequently strengthened even further with the “stand your ground” bullshit.

      A person who’s actions regularly exemplified what is best in humanity, for example trying to save this woman from a life of addiction while his friends and family consistently advised him that she was serious trouble and that he had long since done more than could be expected of anyone, dies while the dirtbag drug dealer who has a serious criminal history and is known personally to all the local law enforcement officers as a really bad guy, is still out there raising the bar for our society. These laws encourage this kind of outcome.

      1. So sorry to hear that, Darrelle!

        Yeah, I can never decide which is the biggest abomination, stand your ground or Citizens United.

  4. Note also that the “bitter gun owner clinging to my religion” sign is a reference to a remark Obama made back in 2008. So this sentiment (also readily available on coffee mugs, etc.) is a not-so-thinly veiled anti-Obama comment.

  5. Prof. I find it endearing that you are shocked at seeing such a photograph. I wish it were a rare thing for me but I’m a long way away from Chicago and I’ve grown up with this sort of thing. Hell, I’m related to people who’d proudly put these signs up. I’m used to, but not numbed to, seeing rebel flag and NRA bumper stickers, posters tacked up onto telephone poles showing President Obama with a hitler mustache, hearing jokes about minorities, homosexuality, liberals, etc., just as a reminder that Missouri is very much a Southern state, even if they were too inept to successfully secede from the Union.

    1. People have told stories about elementary kids in my community telling their classmates that if Obama was elected he would be or should be shot.

      Very sad and disheartening. Such manufactured hatred and instilled in children.

      I have been a lot of places in America and I hate to think the generalization is true, guns and bigotry and very close bedfellows.

  6. I’m pretty sure the Outlaw Josie Wales started out in Missouri. I ran around Missouri with my classes, terrorizing fish, for many years, and don’t recall having any problems or meeting anyone uncivil. But then I am from Texas and we are known for being likeable.;-)

  7. I’m in Tennessee now but have lived in every part of the country and have seen this ignorance in every one of those parts. But there is something distasteful about the old South that just won’t go away. Recently there were a couple of workmen at my neighbor’s house, and I overheard them talking college football, a pretty bland conversation until one of them said loudly, “We don’t need no n*gger quarterback to do that!” That is the sickness of this region that just won’t die.

  8. I must say that seeing Sam Harris defend the “rationality” in allowing such idiots to possess lethal weapons makes me question his ability to form rational opinions on ANY moral issues

    1. That’s just silly. Also, what issues of Sam’s defense do you take issue with? And who are the ‘idiots’ in question?

      1. Gosh, where should I start?
        Well, let me give some links so you can read Harris’ own words:
        Now if I were to choose the “rational” argument that Sam makes that most DISGUSTS me it would be the one where he argues than only a small percentage of children at school were killed by a gunman on Dec 14 at Sandy Hook. So its only very bad luck if your child is gunned down at school. Harris goes on to say that there are only two logical alternatives to the situation- armed guards at each and every school ( too costly) or our swallowing the losses in childred. Taking away gun owners automatic and semi automatic weapons away is not considered a logical alternative. They are needed for “sport”. Why someone would want to pepper a deer with a spray of bullets from a Kalashnikov I cant imagine. I could go on, but the obscenity of Harris talking-down to “misguided” liberals on the point of school shootings is a little more than I can stomach.
        Harris also ignores the carnage caused by handguns ( many victims being women partners of gun owners) with the rather amazing assumption that banning handguns too is impractical. He chooses to ignore the statistics of the low incidence of such gun carnage in European countries which do ban guns.
        Harris is enamoured with the sports of personal defence and is an active participant in such sports. Fine. But he is blind-sighted to the flaws that can arise from them. I’m sorry, this is NOT what is expected of a supposedly committed rationalist.
        As for the “idiots” you ask me to identify… it is exactly the sort of people that own guns and hang up such signs on their shop.

        1. “Harris also ignores the carnage caused by handguns…”

          Actually, he doesn’t completely ignore the carnage caused by handguns – what he does is worse. He uses the handgun murder rate to help minimize the carnage done at Newtown by comparing the latter to the total homicide rate, in which handgun murders are are the largest single contributor. That the United states has a far higher murder rate than any country in Europe, Australia, and many “less developed” countries also escapes his “analysis”.

  9. From a European perspective, I have difficulties with taking these signs for anything else than a joke. They’re not meant seriously, are they? “I’m a bitter gun owner clinging to my religion” – no one can say that and mean it literally, can they? I mean, come on, even the old Homo Erectus would have had more brains than that.

    1. It’s somewhat like thinking of Nazis as a joke, circa 1930. And then you wake up one day and find that they are deadly serious.

    1. Tongue-in-cheek? No, not at all. These slogans are proud declarations of the displayer’s strongly held convictions.

      Unless their intent is to make fun of people who hold such convictions, which is certainly not the case, any other humor or satire that might be intended would still raise serious ethical concerns about these people. But, no, they are in earnest, not joking.

  10. Even if the bitter and clinging are right, I think we have to allow a little credit for the self depreciating humour on the first one…

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