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Just when you think the world can’t become any more stupid, you check your favorite news sites and discover, yes, it can.

Now I’m not talking about the health care debate, as stupid as that’s become. 

The Republicans may be suffering apoplexy over the Democrats’ tactics, but they’ve done the same thing in the past, even if they won’t admit it.

As dumb as all the wrangling in Washington is these days, I found this item a couple of weeks ago that seems dumber.

Down at the University of Texas-San Antonio, a student organization calling itself Members of the Atheist Agenda held a book swap.

Wait for it.

The student atheists offered to trade pornography for Bibles and other religious texts. They call it “Smut for Smut.”

I do feel bad about reporting this because they’ve been doing this since they organized in 2005. Don’t know how I missed it, especially given that, according to the San Antonio Express-News, the first event drew national attention. 

I may have to turn in my journalist card, though in fairness I was working in PR at the time and my attention was diverted to bugs and their relationship to “the touch, the feel, of cotton.”

As stupid as the concept may seem, what I found to be the truly stupid part of the event was a comment by one of the students who attended: “This is ultimately why this is going on,” he was quoted as saying in the Express-News. “It’s an icebreaker to get people talking about these things.”

An icebreaker? 

I think of icebreakers as friendly parlor games that people play at parties and conferences. 

Something along the lines of the questions we ask in Man on the Street. 

“Who’s your favorite Dallas Cowboy?” “What’s the most exotic vacation you’ve ever taken?” That sort of thing. 

Someone says, “I went to Mexico a couple of years ago and saw the Mayan ruins.” Then someone else says, “I did that too! Did you go to that chicken pizza place? I’ve never been so hot and miserable in my life.” 

Pretty soon people are talking and laughing and becoming better acquainted. 

Somehow I doubt that happens well when someone offers to trade you a Playboy or Hustler for your Bible. Especially when the someone says your Bible is as pornographic as those venerable publications.

The San Antonio paper reported that a large group of Christians showed up to protest and that one protestor ripped a sign from someone’s hands. 

Police stood by to make sure the “heated debates,” a nice way of saying people were yelling at each other, didn’t devolve into violence.

If this is the student’s idea of an icebreaker, I’m hoping he’s not studying international relations. 

I can see him at the bargaining table. 

“So, Mr. Netanyahu — may I called you Bebe? — let’s try an icebreaker. Tell Mahmoud here why his false Islamic God cannot stand next to the true God.”

Or maybe he could help with the previously mentioned Republican-Democrat impasse.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going to try a couple of icebreakers to start the conversation. Mr. Boehner, how many oppressive adjectives can you use besides Nazi, communist or fascist to describe Ms. Pelosi?” 

That oughta do more than break the ice; it should pulverize it. 

And when the conversation is over, they’ll laugh and laugh. 

Somehow I have to believe there’s a better way to start a conversation between atheists and believers, one that’s not so confrontational. 

But I’m on the high side of mmfty-something, and these are 18- to 20-something-year-olds we’re talking about here. 

Stupid was our specialty at that age. Maybe it still is.


Michael O’Connor can be reached at editor@trcle.com.

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