Apparently it’s difficult being a baseball fan and an atheist.

I had another horrible encounter with someone that couldn’t just let me sit through God Bless America at the ballgame tonight. I remarked earlier in the year about my increasing disdain for GBA, and as a person that goes to 45+ live baseball games a year, I knew I was going to have my hands full this summer. Since the encounter I vented about in 2012, I’ve begrudgingly stood (without removing my cap) in an attempt to alleviate those types of interactions.

In short-season A ball, there’s 38 games a season (barring playoffs), so we get our fair share of poor renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner. The performer tonight was especially lousy — he was off-key, and dragged out every syllable of every word — and he came out during the seventh inning stretch to do GBA. For some reason, the ValleyCats have been playing the song multiple times during each homestand this year.

I’ve been taking bathroom breaks during the song this summer, but I didn’t need to go tonight. I figured he was going to be horrendous as a singer, and it’s a song I already dislike, so I’d be extra miserable through it. Thankfully, Punk was with me, and when I noticed she wasn’t getting up for it, I latched on to her inactivity (which I’d now label as courage) and stayed firmly lodged in my seat. The dude lived up to my expectations, singing the long version of GBA and taking his sweet fucking time with it. I sat the entire duration, catching up on my Wordfeud matches.

If I was someone that believed in karma, I’d say that I earned a free pass for standing so many times over the last two years, but since there isn’t karma I didn’t catch a break. During the final refrain, the comments started up from behind me, and for the next two innings we were berated:

“Wow, how rude! Sitting through that!”

“Some people are just so disrespectful, I can’t believe it!”

“What ignorance!”

“I worry about the world as this generation of self-centered assholes takes over.”

“People like that hate the country!”

“You just can’t fix stupid!”

That’s when I made the mocking mouth movement gesticulation, and yelled out, “Yap, yap, yap! Shut up and let us enjoy the game!”

“I bet they sit through the anthem too!”

That was the final straw. The exact problem I pointed out back in April was spit out to me in person. These fucking morons equate GBA to the anthem and it drives me mad. I spun around to make eye-contact and retorted, “no, because that song actually stands for something!”

“Whelp, ya just can’t fix stupid!”

At this point, my sister was getting pissed, and as the dumb broad went back to the “so rude and disrespectful” comment, she spun around and asked how it’s rude that we don’t believe in god and don’t want to stand up for the song.

“It has nothing to do with that! It’s for the troops!”

Excuse me? The song says it’s a prayer, so presumably the person being goaded into standing beside and guiding America is god, right? Maybe I’m missing something? Regardless, we again attempted to focus on the game and move on.

“They deserve each other. What a pair.”

“They should drop dead!”

“You’re a real piece of shit!”

“What a bullshit attitude!”

“Get out of the fucking country if you hate it so much!”

With increasing fervor, I requested that she leave us alone. She didn’t, so we went to the ushers for help. They didn’t do a fucking thing. I’ve had season tickets for four years, and before that my father and I had partial season-tickets. It amounted to absolutely no support, even though they espouse a “no tolerance policy” for profane, sexist, racist, or otherwise abusive remarks.

Guess that doesn’t cover scumbag atheists, huh? Good to know where we stand. This happened around 9:00 pm, I sent an email to the fan relations person at the ValleyCats around 12:30 am, and I’m typing this at 4:00 am. I’m still perturbed by the experience, so I’m going to try and close with a few funny observations.

  1. She kept calling us rude and disrespectful. I guess harassing the living shit out of two other people isn’t rude?
  2. She repeated the, “You can’t fix stupid” line at least fifteen times. Apparently we’re incredibly stupid and beyond repair, but she can’t formulate more than one phrase to keep repeating.
  3. Sitting through GBA is offensive. (How offensive is it?) So offensive that the only suitable punishments are dropping dead or leaving the country.
    1. Whether she likes it or not, the troops are fighting for me and my sister too. It’s the first fucking amendment to the Constitution. Amazing how dudes in the 1700s knew this was going to be a problem and wanted to protect us from it, isn’t it?
  4. My sister and I have matured greatly over the last two years. The remarkable level of restraint we exhibited would have been unprecedented to our younger selves.
  5. I’m leery of another altercation tomorrow. We both have season tickets, so I’m fully expecting a remark shortly before, during, or after the anthem about me rising for that.
  6. The season’s almost over. This asshole has been riding the umpires about every single call she didn’t agree with all season long. We’ve drowned her out with cheering, and never confronted her about how obnoxious she is. With two regular season games left, it finally boiled over. Awesome.

The real tragedy in all of this is that I want to avoid her now. In her mind, that’s saying she’s right and I’m hiding like a dog that just ate cat shit and spilled litter all over the floor.  I was already experiencing consternation regarding the renewal my season tickets before this, and the way I was treated tonight is really pushing me over the edge on skipping out on them next year.

I’ve tried to have a “live and let be” mindset, where you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. People like this make it really fucking hard to not engage with that militant atheist urge.

Fucking hell, man. Seriously. Fucking hell.

Introducing the seventh inning mute.

I’m increasingly annoyed by the playing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch at every single Yankees home game. The song is terrible in both message and execution, and I’m just so worn out on hearing it. I’m starting to tag it as the #SeventhInningMute on Twitter, and fully encourage fellow baseball-minded atheists to follow suit.

It’s doubtful we’ll make an impact and get teams to stop playing the folk song. It’s a double-edged sword of being imbued religiously and militarily. We know anything dealing with that subset of the American population is insusceptible and too sacrosanct for a vocal minority of atheists to influence.

I guess we missed our chance as it was suffusing the nation’s ballparks. It’s been a year and a half since I wrote about an annoying experience at the “Joe.” My position back then was to just ignore it and do my best to live with it. My stance has evolved, and the ubiquity of the song this spring (during training and live games) has stoked the change.

When you search out opinions on the song, it appears that every post is complaining about it, rather than touting its effervescent charm. Want to honor the military? How about dropping the Marines’ Hymn on us?

From the halls of Mon-te-zuma, to the shores of Trip-o-li!

Man, now that screams patriotism! You want to get fired up? Play some of the marches from across the branches. Maybe it’s just my experience of playing in marching bands, and really getting into the genre in high school, but these songs are incredible. Regal. Powerful. Elegant. Not hokey and overplayed like GBA.

I want to expose this guise of using GBA as a tribute to our armed forces. Fuck the stupid song and the bullshit reasoning they give behind it. Besides, when we expand out into other marches, we can easily wind up with 81 different songs to play to honor our troops and veterans.

Let’s go for it!

I’m a Disgrace to Vets

It was Veteran’s Night at the ValleyCats game tonight, so they had some dude come out and sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. Since the attacks on 9/11, this song has become some de facto religious-infused anthem for our nation, and it drives me crazy. My interpretation is that those of us that want to have some cool secret message of how great of a Christian nation we are, have elevated this song to be on par with our actual National Anthem. I want no part of it. Apparently, me not taking off my cap during this ridiculous fucking song at a baseball game makes me a terrorist traitor that people just have to hassle.

I’m not marching around trying to get you to keep your hat on your head, or omit this song from the half-inning ceremony. I’m simply exhibiting my free speech to silently object to the use of this song as a symbol of my country. I stand to alleviate the majority of the morons that want to pick at me for wanting to ignore the song’s existence, but I will not concede  as far as supporting this song on the same level as our anthem by removing my hat and covering my heart. It’s a rather small distinction I’ve made for myself, isn’t it? What harm does this cause you?

During the Cold War we added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to show that we weren’t dirty heathen communists, and strangely enough, no one in school seemed to care that I always skipped over that part. It’s amazing that children can tolerate different opinions, but full grown adults won’t have any of it.

I don’t even want to rant about the Pledge so back to this evening. This ridiculous song is being sung by some guy on the field, and I’m standing there looking over numbers from the game on my Kindle, since I couldn’t remember how many strikeouts this guy had. I feel a slap on my right shoulder; one that was obviously not a mistake and meant to grab my attention. I spun around to see what the hell was going on, and why some asshole behind me had the gall to smack me. He was red in the face and made a motion that I should remove my hat. It became clear that he was actually angry about my decision to leave my hat on, and wanted to hit me to show me that I was pissing him off. What a fucking maroon. I shot him a dirty look which said not to fucking touch me again, and I turned back around and went back to the stats from the game.

A few seconds later he mutters to his wife, “What a jerk, why isn’t he taking his hat off?” I threw my hands up in disbelief that this douche bag was so concerned with my hat. He leans over and says –and I quote, “There’s men and women fighting for our freedom. You leaving your hat on makes you a disgrace.”

Really? Really?  Last time I checked, part of the freedom that our armed forces are “fighting to protect” is my right to not recognize religion at all if I so choose, and regardless of you agreeing with my outward expressions, I’m free to make them as long as I’m not portending harm that I intend to inflict.

I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to not overreact to stupid bullshit like this, so I did my best to ignore this mook and not escalate it further. Needless to say, in spite of my best efforts to let this slide, it’s been eating away in the back of my head since I got home from the game. I’ve lived my life with an expectation of mutual respect. I don’t go around cramming my belief that there’s no such thing as a god (no matter which one –or many– you decide to align faith), but there’s absolutely no respect given to me for my stance.

The last time I was vocal about my atheistic views was with a person I considered a friend. I was told that I needed to grow up, open my eyes, and become educated. Right, because I don’t believe what you do, I’m the one that needs to change. Makes perfect sense. The same fucking feeling hit me tonight when that asshole was telling me I was a disgrace.

My decision to not believe in a supreme being isn’t an attack on what you believe, though it’s sure as hell taken that way in almost every circumstance. When atheists want to return the Pledge of Allegiance back to its pre-Cold War lyrics because we’re uncomfortable with Christians trying to impose their religion upon us, we’re trying to upend their entire way of life and we need to be stopped.

When Muslims wish to build a community center that happens to have a Mosque in it, miles away from where radical Muslim terrorists attacked our nation, we can’t allow it because everyone that follows that religion is obviously a terrorist, and it’s only a matter of time before they raise suicide bombers in our very own city! Keep in mind, though, we don’t ban churches after radical extremists fly planes into tax buildings or blow up our parking garages. They’re just one-off nut jobs that don’t warrant any concern.

When I don’t give credence to a shitty folk song that basically says our nation only exists because of god, I’m a disgrace to our army and way of life. Fuck off. Seriously. I stomach your religious overtones on a ton of things in our country, so please, for the love of your god, let me retain my modicum of dignity when I silently reject those ideals to appease my stance.

Your free speech is not better because in your head it’s backed by your god. I’ll continue to leave you alone, how about you start leaving me alone? Deal?