Support the Black Skeptics “First in the Family” Humanist Scholarship Fund

Please support the Black Skeptics of Los Angeles First in the Family Humanist Scholarship initiative! Please donate if you can — even small donations help, they really do add up — and please spread the word on social media.

In 2013, Black Skeptics Los Angeles (BSLA), a 501c3 organization, spearheaded its First in the Family Humanist Scholarship initiative, which focuses on providing resources to undocumented, foster care, homeless and LGBTQ youth who will be the first in their families to go to college. Responding directly to the school-to-prison pipeline crisis in communities of color, BSLA is the first atheist organization to specifically address college pipelining for youth of color with an explicitly anti-racist multicultural emphasis. If current prison pipelining trends persist the Education Trust estimates that only “one of every 20 African American kindergartners will graduate from a four-year California university” in the next decade. In addition:

The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately locks up African American and Latino youth, leaving many with criminal records and no possibility of “re-entry” to employment, housing or higher education

African American youth are severely over-represented in foster care, homeless populations, and juvenile jails

Foster care and homeless youth of color have some of the lowest rates of college transfer and graduation amongst college youth populations

LGBTQ youth of color have disproportionately high suspension/expulsion and push-out rates in U.S. public schools

Black females are consistently suspended at greater rates than ALL OTHER groups besides black males

So-called inner city schools have fewer Advanced Placement, college prep and honors courses and highly qualified STEM teachers than their white suburban counterparts

With your support, Black Skeptics hopes to award at least four youth $1000 scholarships to assist with their books, tuition, housing and other living expenses. Their 2013-2015 scholars are now at USC, UCLA, UC Riverside, Cal State University Long Beach, Babson College, University of North Texas, UC Merced and El Camino College.

So please support the First in the Family Humanist Scholarship initiative! Please donate if you can — even small donations help, they really do add up — and please spread the word. Thanks!

BSLA and their alum also thank their previous supporters: Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, Atheists United, Black Non-Believers, Minority Atheists of Michigan and more!

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

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Support the Black Skeptics “First in the Family” Humanist Scholarship Fund

Clinton or Sanders? READ THE COMMENT POLICY BEFORE COMMENTING

clinton and sanders 600

I want to have a conversation, and I’m putting very strict limits on it. If you can’t abide by these limits, please don’t participate. If you violate these boundaries, I will block you or put you into comment moderation, possibly without being given a second chance (at my discretion).

I want to hear your case for Clinton over Sanders, or for Sanders over Clinton. If you’re on the fence, I want to hear why. More about election specifics in a moment: here are the discussion parameters. READ THEM CAREFULLY.

I only want to hear from people who accept that this is not an obvious choice, or at the very least understand and respect why some people would make a different choice. I want the conversation to remain civil, with absolutely no name-calling or personal attacks aimed at the candidates or the other people in the conversation. I’m even going to ask people to dial back on invective and heated rhetoric aimed at ideas and behavior: usually I’m okay with that, but here I’m not. I want a civil, calm conversation, based on the assumption of good faith. And this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I do not want to hear even a whiff of sexism or misogyny aimed at Clinton. If you so much as use her first name while using Sanders’ last, you’re out of the conversation.

And I specifically want to hear your thoughts about which candidate would be a better President and why. I don’t want to hear arguments based on electability. I’ve seen convincing arguments that both candidates are more electable, based on current polling, who’s traditionally likely to vote, which demographics each candidate is likely to bring to the polls, etc. I have my own thoughts on that subject, but it’s not what I want to discuss here. And I don’t want to hear arguments based on either candidate’s followers being jerks. That’s happening on both sides, and unless you can make a REALLY convincing case that this is relevant to which candidate would make a better President, leave it. I want to know which candidate you think would make a better President.

Here’s my current state of mind. I did that “I Side With” quiz to see which candidate agreed with me on more of the issues. I got 98% agreement with Sanders — and 95% agreement with Clinton. That difference is insignificant. Even if there had been a significant difference, stated positions on issues aren’t the only thing that matters (although of course they’re hugely important). A candidate’s history also matters: are they likely to go back on their word, are they effective at building coalitions, do they listen to criticism and respond well to it, are they in bed with corporate interests, and so on. And of course, not all issues show up on this quiz or others like it; this quiz skews more towards platform positions than voting records; and while it allows you to weight which issues are more important to you, it doesn’t allow you to say “Dealbreaker.”

The most persuasive big-picture argument I’ve seen for Sanders: he’s the only candidate who could potentially change the system. Clinton is on the liberal side of moderate, a business as usual candidate — and the business is broken. The political and economic system in the United States is rotten to the core, it needs radical change, and Clinton will not make that happen.

The most persuasive big-picture argument I’ve seen for Clinton: Sanders is not good at management, compromise, organization, or getting along with people generally. If Sanders is elected, he’ll be a bad President and will be unable to effect the changes he’s promising.

So — make your case. Again, SEE THE COMMENT POLICY ABOVE, and if you can’t abide by it, please stay out of the conversation. Thanks!

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

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Clinton or Sanders? READ THE COMMENT POLICY BEFORE COMMENTING

Why I Didn’t Write About (X)

laptop-user 200
“If you’re such a feminist, why didn’t you say anything about this particular incident? If you care about social justice, why weren’t you willing to debate that guy? A major news event happened this week — why were you just writing about pop culture?”

It occurs to me that this is just another way to trivialize and silence. The expectation that every writer address every topic that’s even vaguely in their wheelhouse — it’s ridiculously burdensome. If that’s the bar for participating in public discourse, it’s so high a kangaroo couldn’t jump it. And it’s another way to control the conversation. Privilege includes getting to decide which topics are important and which ones aren’t — whether that’s telling people to calm down about things they’re upset about, or telling them what to aim their anger at instead.

So because I’m tired of answering this question, and other people are tired of answering this question, I’m writing this all-purpose reply we can link to any time it’s asked.

Why didn’t I write about (X)? The reason could be any of the following:

I was busy writing about something else.
I was on deadline writing about something else.
I was recovering from the really hard work I put into writing something else.
I’ve been writing about that topic a lot lately, and decided I needed to change it up a bit.
Lots of other people were writing about it, and I didn’t feel a need to add my voice this time.
I didn’t hear about it soon enough for my contribution to be timely.
My ideas about it are complicated and still developing, and I didn’t want to think out loud on this one.
I knew it would spark a firestorm of controversy, and I didn’t have time or energy to handle it that week.
I was sick that week.
I was taking care of personal business.
I was on vacation.
I was taking a mental-health break from heavy topics.
I was writing about some other heavy topic.

Finally, and most importantly:

I was writing about cats or chocolate pie or Steven Universe, and it’s none of your damn business what I write about. I am not a public utility: I am not a fire hydrant of insightful commentary for you to point at any issue you’re interested in. The people who get to do that are the editors who pay me money. And I am not the New York Times: I don’t even pretend to write all the news that’s fit to print. I write all the news that catches my attention at a moment when I have time and energy to write about it.

If there’s an issue you think I might be interested in, by all means send it my way: just don’t do it with a sense of entitlement. If I have a pattern of missing a particular issue that would normally be in my wheelhouse — like there’s a form of marginalization I consistently overlook when I write about social justice stuff — please do let me know about it. And if a writer or publication does aspire to be the Progressive Times, the Feminist Times, the Atheist Times, it’s worth looking at holes in their coverage. But even the Feminist Times couldn’t address every single incident of sexism and misogyny. It’s transparently laughable to insist that this makes everything they say irrelevant.

If you like my writing and are interested in what I write about, read it. If not, don’t. But do not try to shame me out of writing by setting an impossibly high bar and berating me for not clearing it. I write about plenty of weighty topics, and you don’t get to tell me which ones. My voice, my right to decide.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

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Why I Didn’t Write About (X)

Godless Perverts Social Club in Oakland Feb. 18: Sex, Gender, and Cultural Appropriation

godless perverts social club sex gender and cultural appropriation
The Godless Perverts Social Club is excited to host a discussion led by Cinnamon Maxxine and Donna about cultural appropriation, especially as it happens in alternative sexuality communities. Come ready for a dynamic, serious discussion about how to have a respectful relationship with other cultures.

We have a new location for the Oakland Godless Perverts Social Clubs! We’re now meeting at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, 1805 Telegraph Avenue, next to the Fox Theater (and right near the 19th St. Oakland BART station). Rudy’s Can’t Fail is a fun, friendly space that serves meals, small bites, beer, cocktails, soft drinks, and desserts. We’re meeting in the back room/ dining car: the dining car has somewhat limited space, probably enough for all of us, but it’s a good idea to arrive on time if you want to be sure to get a seat. Thursday, February, 7-9 pm. The Oakland Social Clubs are on the third Thursday of the month (First Tuesdays are still in San Francisco at Wicked Grounds.)

Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers.

So please join us! Hang out with other nonbelievers and chat about sex, sexuality, gender, atheism, religion, science, social justice, pop culture, and more. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. We meet on the third Thursday of every month at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (we also meet on the first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART). 7-9 pm. Admission is free, although we do ask that you buy food and/or drink at the venue.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion.

Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this. Please let the moderators or other people in charge of any event know if you encounter harassment, racism, misogyny, transphobia, or other problems at our events.

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts, or follow us on Facebook. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including many Godless Perverts events. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!

Godless Perverts Social Club in Oakland Feb. 18: Sex, Gender, and Cultural Appropriation

Secular Social Justice Conference, Houston, January 30-31

secular social justice flyer
I don’t often go to conferences if I’m not speaking at them. I’d like to, I just can’t afford it. I did, however, pay my own way to go to Skepticon this year. And I’m going to the Secular Social Justice Conference.

I heard AMAZING things about last year’s predecessor, Moving Social Justice. I wasn’t able to go — I had a previous commitment — but everyone I talked to who did go said it was extraordinary and life-changing. So I am absolutely not going to miss it this year.

Here’s a little more about it, from the conference website:

In a global climate in which the criminalization and economic disenfranchisement of people of color of all genders and sexualities has become more acute, what role can secular humanism play in communities of color in the U.S.?

Last year’s Moving Social Justice conference featured an incredible array of activists, organizers and educators from the secular and social justice communities. Building on that momentum, the 2016 Secular Social Justice conference will be held January 30 and 31st at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The conference will address the lived experiences, cultural context, shared struggle and social history of secular humanist people of color and their allies. It will focus on topics such as economic justice, women of color beyond faith, LGBTQ atheists of color, African American Humanist traditions in hip hop, racial politics and the New Atheism and more.

Speakers include Sikivu Hutchinson, Anthony Pinn, Soraya Chemaly, Heina Dadabhoy, Debbie Goddard, Sincere T. Kirabo, Alix Jules, Donald Wright, Monica Miller, Frank Anderson, Maggie Ardiente, Georgina Capetillo, Daniel Myatt, Juhem Navarro-Rivera, and Secular Sistahs, with more speakers (I believe) still to be announced. And it’s cheap: $40, and $25 for students. January 30 and 31 in Houston (here’s info on courtesy hotel rates). Hope to see you there!

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Secular Social Justice Conference, Houston, January 30-31

Letters to the Future on Climate Change: I Hope We Fixed This

letters to the future logo

In December 2015, world leaders are convening in Paris soon for the critical U.N. climate talks. The Letters to the Future project is collecting letters written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks and what came after. (The letters will be sent to targeted delegates and citizens convening at the Paris talks.)

I was invited to participate in the project (here’s a collection of all the letters). Here’s what I wrote.

*****

To the grandkids of the kids in my life:

I wish I knew how this turned out for you.

Are you living in a reasonably healthy world? I don’t imagine you’re in a Utopia: I know human nature too well. But are you okay? Is there enough water, food, power, medicine? Is your daily life manageable, even joyful?

Or is it too hot, too dry, to sustain human life in any tolerable way? Is the world overrun with famines, mass migrations, epidemics, wars? Does my beautiful city of San Francisco even exist, or have the waters risen and drowned it? Are you not even reading this letter, because the world has disintegrated so badly that “reading letters from the past on the Internet” is not a priority, or even an option?

Did we fix this in time?

I think about social change activists of my day, and I often wonder if we’re all fools. If we don’t fix global warming, every other fight we’re fighting — for fair housing and voting rights, against misogyny and racism and plutocracy — will be a moot point. If we don’t fix global warming, now, today — game over.

I know that’s not fair. I know we all need to do the work that inspires us. And I know all these struggles are connected. Part of the reason I work so hard for a more rational, evidence-based world is that I want more people to acknowledge that global warming is real, and to take it seriously. But I often wonder if all of us — not just all activists, but all humans — are foolish beyond description to work on anything but global warming, with every scrap of power we have.

I’m an atheist and a humanist, and I have no notion that there’s another life, another world, where everything will be okay. I accept that this life is our only one, this planet the only home we have. If we don’t fix global warming, it’s game over. And I love this game. I love life. As terrible as it can be, as much as it’s filled with suffering and brutality, I love life, and humanity, and the world. So I’m working to get this right. I’m persuading as many people as I can to get this right.

I hope it’s enough.

I hope we fixed this.

I love you. I hope you’re okay.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Letters to the Future on Climate Change: I Hope We Fixed This

Dream Diary, 11/20/15: Bobby Jindal in Discworld

bobby jindal
I dreamed that Terry Pratchett had written a Discworld novel in which Bobby Jindal was a character, and was gay. In the book-within-a-dream, Jindal’s mother was a super-progressive, pro-LGBT PFLAG mom, and Jindal was embarrassed by this, because he was still a conservative Republican politician, and although he was out about being gay, he was embarrassed about it and didn’t like to talk about it.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Dream Diary, 11/20/15: Bobby Jindal in Discworld

Refugees, and One of the Great Shames of U.S. History

Passengers board the SS St. Louis. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Anne Marx
Passengers board the SS St. Louis. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Anne Marx

In July 1938, when polled on their attitudes toward allowing German, Austrian & other political refugees to come into the US, two-thirds of Americans said we should try to keep them out. Another 18% said it would be okay to accept them, but only if it didn’t mean raising our immigration quotas. Less than five percent said we should encourage them to come.

In January 1939, when asked if the US government should permit 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children to come in from Germany, over 60% of Americans polled said, “No.”

In February 1939, a Congressional bill that would have admitted 20,000 German Jewish children above the existing immigration quota died in committee.

In May 1939, the St. Louis, a transatlantic liner with 937 passengers — almost all Jews fleeing from the Third Reich — was turned away by the United States.

Fears were raised that the Jewish refugees were politically dangerous — Communists, anarchists, potential German agents. There were economic fears about an influx of refugees in the wake of the Depression. And, of course, the very anti-Semitism the refugees were fleeing was fueling the American hostility against them.

This is one of the greatest shames in U.S. history.

Let’s not repeat it.

There are already people rushing to explain why these situations are not the same. There are already people rushing to insist that the Syrian refugees are part of ISIS or Al-Qaeda (“the Jewish refugees are dangerous anarchists and communists!”); that the Syrian refugees won’t be able to assimilate because they have low IQs (seriously?); that the two situations can’t be compared because reasons, or no reason given at all. Of course the situations aren’t identical: no two situations are. But they are damn well similar enough that we should be paying attention.

The Syrian refugees are not ISIS. The Syrian refugees are fleeing from ISIS, and from conditions created by ISIS. Let’s not repeat one of the most shameful mistakes in our history. Let’s not have to explain to our grandchildren why, in one of the greatest humanitarian crises faced by our generation, we let fear and willful ignorance overcome compassion.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Refugees, and One of the Great Shames of U.S. History

Living in Interesting Times, and Letting Go of Sixties Envy

Yesterday, journalist Shaun King posted this on Facebook:

Listen, I need you to understand what I’m about to say. This is what I taught the students at Morehouse last week.

2015 is not what we thought it was. The deadliest hate crime against Black folk in the past 75 years happened THIS YEAR in Charleston.

More unarmed Black folk have been killed by police THIS YEAR than were lynched in any year since 1923.

Never, in the history of modern America, have we seen Black students in elementary, middle, and high school handcuffed and assaulted by police IN SCHOOL like we have seen this year.

Black students, who pay tuition are leaving the University of Missouri campus right now because of active death threats against their lives.

If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.

There’s a particular piece of this that jumped out at me: “If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.”

This is something I’ve been thinking about, A LOT.

electric kool-aid acid test cover
When I was younger, I used to have a lot of Sixties envy. I was born in 1961, so I was a little kid in the Sixties, a pre-teen and teenager in the Seventies. And I used to have a lot of Sixties envy. When I was younger, I saw the Sixties as colorful and adventurous and exciting; when I was somewhat older, I saw them as a time of great political change, a time when you could really make a difference. And I envied people who’d gotten to be part of it. For years, I passionately wished that I’d been an adult, or even a teenager, in the Sixties.

In recent years, I have been letting go of that.

I’ve been looking at the deep polarization in this country; the rabid, bigoted, willfully-ignorant hatred of the Tea Party; the “We don’t care, we don’t have to” government serving its rich cronies and treating its citizens like children or criminals; the filthy rich turning the planet into a wasteland and treating anyone who tries to stop them like children or criminals; the pointless and apparently endless wars overseas; the grotesque hostility to black people, poor people, LGBT people, immigrants, women, for saying they want to be treated with basic human decency; the rapidly-changing attitudes about gender, race, family, drugs, sex, religion; the people who are terrified of that change and are responding to that fear with hatred.

And I’ve been realizing: Oh. This must have been what the Sixties were like.

1968 Democratic National Convention
I grew up in Chicago, and in the summer of 1968, my family went on a long camping trip. All I knew at the time was, “Camping trip! Rocky Mountains! Grizzly bears! Dinosaur National Park!” It wasn’t until years later that my parents told me the reason for that camping trip: my folks were beatnik hippie lefties, and Chicago in the summer of 1968 was a really fucking scary place to be, and they wanted to take the kids and get the hell out of Dodge.

I get that now.

I do not, in fact, want to get the hell out of Dodge. (Except temporarily, for an occasional breather.) I get that the saying “May you live in interesting times” is, in fact, both a curse and a blessing.* I do feel weirdly privileged to be living in interesting times. I feel weirdly privileged to be part of all this, to be part of social change movements that will be shaping the world for decades to come.

But yes. Shaun King is right. I have sometimes wondered who I would be or what I would do if I lived during the Civil Rights Movement; the Women’s Liberation movement; the early gay rights movement; the early ecology movement; the peace movement. And we are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.

I hope I’m doing okay. It’s really fucking hard.

*(It’s not an ancient Chinese saying, by the way.)

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPG
Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Living in Interesting Times, and Letting Go of Sixties Envy

What You’re Saying When You Use the Phrase “Politically Correct”

“Warning — I’m going to say some things here that aren’t politically correct.”

Or, “Oh, I’d better be careful, I might upset the PC police.”

Or, in response to a complaint about bigotry and discrimination and dehumanization, “They’re just being politically correct, I’m so sick of all that PC nonsense.”

I hear this a lot. I hear it from writers, speakers, politicians, commentators, comedians. And I don’t just hear it from overtly douchey asshats. I also hear it from people who are generally smart, thoughtful, decent, and clearly wanting to do good.

hexagonal-warning-sign
I hear this a lot. And whenever I hear it, it’s like a red flag. It’s like a red flag attached to sirens and klaxons and flashing red lights. It’s like a guy on the side of the road jumping around with a giant sign — a sign that says, “This person is about to say something incredibly screwed-up.”

When you use the phrase “politically correct,” here’s what you’re saying.

You’re saying, “I want to be able to say things that are damaging — and I don’t want to be held accountable for it.”

You’re saying, “I don’t want to have to think very carefully about the things that I’m saying. I want to say whatever pops into my head — and I don’t want to think about whether it’s unfair, inaccurate, bigoted, or otherwise harmful.”

You’re saying, “I want to say whatever pops into my head — and I don’t want to think about whether it perpetuates harmful tropes or stereotypes.”

You’re saying, “In particular, I want to say whatever pops into my head about people who’ve gotten the short end of the stick for centuries — and I don’t want to think about whether the things I say are bashing them with that stick one more goddamn time.”

You’re saying, “When people speak up about bigotry and discrimination and dehumanization, I don’t want to have to think about the actual content of what they’re saying.”

You’re saying, “When people speak up about bigotry and discrimination and dehumanization, I’m not going to engage with the content of what they’re saying — I’m just going to dismiss it wholesale.”

You’re saying, “When people speak up about bigotry and discrimination and dehumanization, I’m not only going to dismiss what they’re saying — I’m going to trivialize the very idea of them speaking about it and asking people to change.”

get out of jail free card
You’re saying, “Rather than actually thinking carefully about the things I’m saying, I’m just going to say whatever I feel like, and tack on this ‘PC’ line as a Get Out of Jail Free card.”

You’re saying, “I want to be able to say things that are damaging — and I don’t just want to avoid accountability. I actually want to be seen as brave and heroic.”

You’re saying, “I want to be able to say things that are damaging — and I want to be seen as a champion for free speech.”

You’re saying, “I want to be able to say things that are damaging — and I want to act like a martyr when I get called on it.”

If you don’t want to be saying any of that — don’t use the phrase “politically correct.”

The phrase is supposed to act as a shield, a Get Out of Jail Free card. But for me — and for many other people — it does the opposite. It’s not a shield. It’s an alert. It’s a giant red arrow, saying, “Heads up! This person is probably going to say some seriously douchey bigoted bullshit — so prick up your ears and listen carefully for it.”

Look. I get that this stuff can be hard. I completely understand the feeling of walking on eggshells in a minefield. I get that if you’re going to talk about important, difficult, heavily-loaded topics, you’re eventually going to say something wrong-headed or piss people off. And I get that people want to talk about important, difficult, heavily-loaded topics anyway. I not only get that — I support it. I don’t want every writer, speaker, politician, commentator, comedian, to spend all their time talking about the weather.

Yes, you show courage when you walk into the minefield. But that courage is eradicated when you use “I guess I’m not being very PC here” as a shield. When you walk into the minefield and you step on a mine, the shrapnel can hurt people other than you. It’s not very brave to use the “I guess I’m not being PC” shield to protect yourself from that shrapnel. And it’s seriously not brave to deflect that shrapnel onto the people who live their entire lives in that minefield, and whose bodies and minds are carrying scars from every other mine that exploded onto them, and who live in constant expectation of the next explosion.

So take responsibility for your words, and for their effect. If you screw up and hurt people you didn’t intend to hurt — cop to it. Apologize. And do better next time. Don’t turn the people you hurt into the bad guys, the so-called PC police who don’t want anyone to make jokes or think original thoughts or have any fun at all — simply because they told you that you screwed up.

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Coming Out Atheist
Bending
why are you atheists so angry
Greta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

What You’re Saying When You Use the Phrase “Politically Correct”