Questions from the Outrage Brigade

If this post sounds familiar to you, that’s because, like all the talk of “dividing” the atheist and skeptic movements, none of this is new. None of what we’re seeing these days is even responsive to prior critique. But if other people can repeat themselves on this, so can I. Maybe this time, I’ll even get some answers.

For context, a friend posted recently about finding out someone they’d looked up to had been accused of unethical behavior. The post was more a cri de coeur than anything else, along the lines of “Will everyone in this movement disappoint me?” Given that my first guess regarding which person they were talking about was wrong, I can’t really argue with the sentiment.

Someone else did, though. An atheist media personality responded to suggest the question was unfair and unhelpful. Continue reading “Questions from the Outrage Brigade”

Questions from the Outrage Brigade
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Everyone (Not You) Should Be Welcome in the Atheist Movement

It’s funny how things change.

Back in the dim recesses of history, otherwise known as about five years ago, I was ruining the atheist and skeptic movements, otherwise known as advocating for codes of conduct at conferences. It was a lonely process.

The other people working on the issue were great. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. There just weren’t a lot of us. Institutional support was…uneven. A few organizations were happy for our help. Others claimed we were persecuting them for the money.

Atheist media? Well. Let’s just say that we were generally spoken about, not with. We were called dogmatic and divisive, as though divisions have only one side. The interviews I did on harassment were mostly outside these movements. And the group of media hosts who stood up for our place in the movement were—I’m kidding. That didn’t happen.

Today, however. Oh, today is a glorious new day in atheism and skepticism, in which critical voices are welcomed as our movements’ immune systems. We are hailed for our work to improve our collective thinking and positions on important topics. We are, as every atheist and skeptic is, seen as a crucial part of these movement.

Yeah, I’m kidding about that too.

I’d avoided getting deeply into the recent golden mean piece blaming the left yet once again for destroying the atheist movement. It’s been done. It’s stale and trite, and anyone who’s been in these movements for a few years but doesn’t bother to address the old objections to both-sides-but-really-you-rabble-rousing-SJWs isn’t going to respond to me repeating myself.

I could have done a links post of old work, I suppose, but then Thomas Smith came out with a response. There are pieces of it I disagree with, mostly in places where he was willing to concede equivalencies I’d argue against and his acceptance of labels as demonizing, but it covered most of the bases. I could let it go and let someone else pick up the work this time. It felt like freedom.

Then came the weekend of the Gateway to Reason conference. Continue reading “Everyone (Not You) Should Be Welcome in the Atheist Movement”

Everyone (Not You) Should Be Welcome in the Atheist Movement

Policing Self-Defense

[CN: on top of all the Nazi stuff, talk about the threat of sexual assault]

Black-and-white photo of a large monument consisting of a stone fist atop a stone pedestal. An unreadable sign is taped to the fist.
“Fist of Freedom” (a monument to Nelson Mandela) by sacks08, CC BY 2.0

Yesterday I asked whether the people still telling me not to punch Nazis after Charlottesville were telling me to be martyred or to stand aside while someone else is.

Mostly I didn’t get any answers. I expected that. That’s what happens when “Just say ‘no’ to violence!” runs into situations where violence is inherent and inevitable. Ironically, the act of making an option unspeakable makes the pro-rational discussion with Nazis crowd unable to discuss current events rationally. Weird. (Not at all weird.)

I also ran into a couple of people yesterday who would prefer martyrdom to enacting any violence. That’s fine. I can’t relate to it in any way, but I don’t have to. It’s a personal choice. But it being a personal choice means you don’t get to impose it on me or anyone else. You don’t get to choose that someone else dies in the name of nonviolence.

I did get one response that boiled down to “Well, it’s okay in self-defense. No, I mean immediate self-defense.” Continue reading “Policing Self-Defense”

Policing Self-Defense

Mock the Movie: Pink Edition

Pink Ladies, that is. And T-Birds.

No, we’re not mocking Grease. We’re mocking Grease 2, with the kind of relief one can only experience after a spring and summer of truly tedious badness. I mean, we’re going to watch something this month that isn’t good, but it doesn’t all have to hurt. We can have fresh-faced kiddies and pop songs sometimes.

This one’s available on Netflix. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Pink Edition”

Mock the Movie: Pink Edition

Mock the Movie: Patriot Edition

There’s some irony in delaying this month’s movie due to the holiday. After all, what would be a better choice for U.S. Independence Day than Captain America?

What? No, not that Captain America. This Captain America. Yeah, we’re going to do it.

This one is available on YouTube. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Patriot Edition”

Mock the Movie: Patriot Edition

Mock the Movie: Bad Kung Fu Edition

No, we’re not doing Iron Fist again. In fact, we’re still not entirely recovered from spending April on Iron Fist. So we’re going to clear the palates with some absolute trash. I can’t say I know what Alien Warrior (aka King of the Streets) is trying to do, but I know it’s not trying very hard. I’m completely okay with that. It’s a much easier fail to deal with.

This one is available on YouTube. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Bad Kung Fu Edition”

Mock the Movie: Bad Kung Fu Edition

Mock the Movie: White Savior Special Edition

It’s been a rough couple of months around these parts: oral surgery, unusual drug side effects, Trump administration. We’ve missed a couple of scheduled mockings. We’re more than due for pain of the artistic sort.

So we’re doing a special event for April. Starting tomorrow and going Wednesday and Sunday evenings until we’re either done or crying for mercy, we’re watching Iron Fist.

No, I don’t know how you put together a superhero trailer with zero dramatic tension despite an entire season of material either, but we’re going to find out. Feel free to join us. Definitely pity us. Here’s the viewing schedule:

  • Wednesday, April 5, 9 p.m. EDT: “Snow Gives Way” and “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight”
  • Sunday, April 9, 9 p.m. EDT: “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch” and “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm”
  • Wednesday, April 12, 9 p.m. EDT: “Under Leaf Pluck Lotus” and “Immortal Emerges from Cave”
  • Sunday, April 16, 9 p.m. EDT: “Felling Tree with Roots” and “The Blessing of Many Fractures”
  • Wednesday, April 19, 9 p.m. EDT: “The Mistress of All Agonies” and “Black Tiger Steals Heart”
  • Sunday, April 23, 8 p.m. EDT (note different starting time): “Lead Horse Back to Stable”, “Bar the Big Boss”, and “Dragon Plays with Fire”

Mock one. Mock all. Mock the episodes that made you wish Marvel would do the Fantastic Four as a television series instead. We’ll be here for all of them.

Continue reading “Mock the Movie: White Savior Special Edition”

Mock the Movie: White Savior Special Edition

About Your April Fools Joke

So you want to make an April Fools joke. Yeah, me too. I love lying. I love surrealism and building other realities and changing people’s minds.

Photo of a line of plastic clowns with identical wide-open mouths.
“The Laughing Clowns” by Bernard Spragg, CC0 1.0

There are reasons I don’t do that every day, though. Once, a long time ago, I made a friend sincerely doubt that it was raining as we were out walking in it. She punched me. I deserved it. I was treating her like an experiment—Can I do this?—rather than the friend she was.

This is why a lot of people hate April Fools Day. As it turns out, most of us hate being treated as experiments, as means to someone else’s end. (If you’re not one of these people, let me know. There are a few things I’d like to know that I haven’t been able to get past an IRB. No, there’s no consent form. No, I’m not going to tell you what the experiment is. Why should that be a problem?)

It isn’t hard to lie to people: Continue reading “About Your April Fools Joke”

About Your April Fools Joke

The Myth of the Pay Gap Myth

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In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama had this to say about the U.S. gender pay gap.

You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.

Women deserve equal pay for equal work.

You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and this year marked a slight shift in the celebrations. While humanity hasn’t completely abandoned “When is International Men’s Day?” Day, this year included significant celebrations of Pay Gap Sea-Lioning Day.

Photo of one pan of a balancing scale covered with coins against a backdrop of more coins.
“Money” by Dun.can, CC BY 2.0

A day dedicated to women’s equality wouldn’t be complete without discussing the pay gap, and, as usual, this brings the apologists out of the woodwork. We don’t need to do anything about the pay gap, they imply, because it isn’t discrimination. There is no shortage of men on social media ready to tell you that “leading feminists” say Obama’s 77-cent figure specifically is a lie.

Which feminists? In particular, self-proclaimed “equity feminist” Christina Hoff Sommers has dubbed the gap a “myth”, a claim that, being short, is perfect for the Twitter debate club and drive-by commenters to haul out whenever people address pay disparity.

Even the head of a skeptics organization has claimed in the past that the pay gap isn’t real.

Even private-sector sex discrimination is more relic than reality. The so-called pay gap, the “73 cents for every dollar a man makes,” one hears recited like a mantra by feminists and politicians, doesn’t exist. When true cohorts are compared — men and women with equal education, seniority, duties and hours — the pay gap shrinks to a couple of pennies.

But does this “pay gap myth”, which Sommers continues to recycle in widely read publications, hold up under scrutiny? Is it true that the reason women are paid less is because they choose to go into different fields and work different hours than men do? And if choice does play a significant role, should we stop talking about the pay gap? Continue reading “The Myth of the Pay Gap Myth”

The Myth of the Pay Gap Myth

The Power—and Danger—of Story in Activism

It didn’t take long after Trump’s initial attempt at putting his promised Muslim ban in place by executive order for the stories to come rolling in.

There were people who disembarked from their planes, only to find they were no longer welcome in what was to be their new country. There were families, some with children, trapped and neglected in the limbo that is an airport on the wrong side of Customs and Immigration. There were heroic young attorneys sitting on hard floors, clustered around the outlets usually monopolized by business travelers.

There were Iraqi military translators who had risked their lives for our soldiers, sent back to a less-than-united country where their service was viewed by some as treason. There were students whose studies and research came to an abrupt halt when they couldn’t re-enter the country. There were doctors stretched thin across rural populations who faced the choice of never seeing their families again or abandoning their already underserved patients.

There were workers coerced into signing away the documents that make them “legal” immigrants instead of the faceless horrors of our national imagination. There were children awaiting live-saving medical coverage. There were athletes turned away trying to compete. There was a photogenic prime minister next door, always ready for slivers of positive coverage.

There were tears and patience and hunger and dashed hopes and confusion and righteous protests against blatantly unnecessary cruelties. There were stories. There were so many stories. Continue reading “The Power—and Danger—of Story in Activism”

The Power—and Danger—of Story in Activism