Bizarro is brought to you today by Invisible Superheroes.
Let's talk for a moment about how scary the word "atheist" has become in current-day America. Many people equate the designation "atheist" with epithets like "nazi," "pedophile," "criminal," and "insurance company CEO." As the funky DJ might say, "Let's break it down, now."
Theist: one who believes in god(s).
Polytheist: one who believes in more than one god.
Monotheist: one who believes in only one god.
Atheist: one who does not believe god(s) exist.
Polyunsaturatedtheist: one who believes that god speaks to us through nutrition labels.
Those who fear atheists and atheism are most often living under the assumption that belief in god is what keeps us from running wild in the streets, looting, murdering, raping, and spitting on the sidewalk. This is a common misconception that is easily debunked by leaving one's own bubble and having a peek at history, anthropology, and cultures other than one's own. Shockingly few American fundamentalist Christians realize that if they had been born and raised in India, they'd be just as convinced of the existence of blue elephants and multi-armed banjo players, as they are of a water-walking Jew.
A large percentage of your really heinous crimes have been committed by people who were under the assumption they could hear their god's voice and were following his orders: Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVey, Osama Bin Laden and all Al Qaeda members including those who took down the World Trade Center, everyone behind the Christian Crusades of the Middle Ages, all KKK members, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, that guy outside my building with his car stereo cranked up to 140 decibels, the list goes on and on.
Alternately, many law-abiding people who have contributed positively to society have been self-proclaimed atheists: Ron Reagan, David Suzuki, Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Dave Barry, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Wolfe, Woody Allen, George Carlin, Ricky Gervais, Katharine Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, Eddie Izzard, Patton Oswalt, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Bruce Lee, Bob Geldof, Albert Camus, Noam Chomsky, Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Richard Feynman, Sigmund Freud, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein and countless others.
Whether you like or dislike the people on this second list, the point is that they are (were) not running rampant in the streets for lack of an invisible superhero in the sky telling them the difference between right and wrong or threatening to smite them if they misbehaved.
Of course, not all of your friends, family and neighbors who do believe in a god are using their faith as a weapon, either. The common sense truth is that people don't need supernatural reasons to be good or bad, just as Sarah Palin does not need to hold a political office to publicly display the thickness of her skull. We all have plenty of reasons of our own for what we do.
Because the "A-word" has become synonymous with evil, as erroneous as that is, many atheists prefer to be called "nontheist." I'm not one to give in to language games to try to change people's attitudes, however. Polite terms for Americans of African descent have gone from "colored" to "black" to "African American" in my lifetime alone, and it hasn't stopped racists from declaring President Obama was born in Kenya.
So call me what you will, but don't expect to see me bombing, stealing, raping, discriminating, or denying people basic rights for lack of, or in the name of, invisible superheroes. And don't bother trying to talk "sense" into me with threats of a pyromaniacal dude in tights carrying a pitchfork. Halloween isn't for several more weeks yet.