Atheism Plus is just like a religion

Over and over and over again, we’ve heard that the Atheism Plus is driving divisiveness, is tribalistic, and is just like a religion. I’m not really sure how to answer that last one, except to point out that if we didn’t have a point when we say “hey, we have an adoption problem, people are being turned off of atheism by all the douchebags that have entrenched themselves in it”, we wouldn’t be fomenting so much hate from those same self-identified douchebags, would we?

Movement atheism largely organizes and self-arranges via the internet. The internet is a subset of reality — for the most part, the large majority of the content you see, even from trolls, originates directly from a human’s mind. Very little of that content is program-generated, though in many cases the attacks on X idea could be as easily generated by script for its repetitiveness and the patterns by which pushback is developed. For simplicity, we’ll assume that all these trolls are real human beings, and that each instance of a troll actually represents a unique human being rather than multiple sockpuppets employed to “pad out” their side of the argument. If these people are genuine, then they represent some odious philosophies that do need to be expunged from the discourse at hand.

The people are welcome to stay, but the ideas must be repudiated. Ideas like that giving offense to people is its own intrinsic good, and that you should freely talk about everyone and everything you don’t like using as vilifying terms as you can at every turn. Now, I’m not talking about calling individuals asshats or douchebags — some folks think that ANY dip into the language of vilification is awful, and I won’t argue those points of view except to note that I don’t share them. No, I’m talking about those folks who demand the right to come into your space and say terrible things about whole groups of people, either directly or by extension from the slurs they choose to use. Calling women “cunts” and “bitches” and gaslighting them and doubting their every word just because they’re women, calling trans folks “traps” or “trannies”, calling calling gays “homo” or “fag”, using “that’s gay” as an epithet. The war on racist language is largely won, where you rarely hear someone call blacks “niggers”, though ask Crommunist what kinds of coded racist language you see since direct racism is so thoroughly stigmatized! So, at the same time as I’m talking about slurs, I’m also talking about those people who can raze the earth and damage whole classes of folks without using a single uncivil syllable. The important thing to challenge is the ideas that lead to these behaviours. These ideas contribute more to a culture of hatred than individual insults ever could.

And that culture of hatred derives from a culture of privilege. The loudmouth and the bigoted subsets of movement atheism are largely populated by young, white, libertarian males. There are older folks, there are non-whites, there are non-males, but the largest and most vocal defenders of privilege are and will likely always be libertarians. Not economic libertarians or civil libertarians, no — the folks who have internalized Atlas Shrugged and Rand’s atheism and demand that classism and wealth privileges be held sacrosanct. They also hold that privilege on every other axis be upheld, largely because the adherents to this philosophy benefit from those privileges heavily. They are the folks who believe that any attempt to curtail their privileges by leveling the playing field is “fascism” or “socialism” or “naziism” or some other ahistorical use of a political twitch-word. You’d think privilege as a concept wouldn’t be so difficult to grasp, given that they are underprivileged as concerns their religious views, the hatred they get for it, and the theistic stranglehold on government that many countries endure. But apparently recognizing privilege other than religion is “fascist”.

Yes, this sort of Randian libertarianism is a minority, but just being a minority isn’t enough to warrant special protection — the 1% who own 90% of the power and wealth on our continent are a numeric minority but are not an underclass like the 99% who share 10% of the wealth and power. And yes, we’re telling you that parroting the “bitches lie amirite?” attitude is just the sort of institutionalized oppression that has resulted in so many women leaving the movement. And yes, telling you this is actually suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t do that if the end goal is to bring atheism to everyone — especially if you’re telling women that we’re better for them than religion.

The people who balk at the notion that these memes might drive people out are largely the sort of libertarian that thinks THEIR privilege is good, and simultaneously ALL privilege is mythical. They believe that might makes right. That identifying behaviours that do real damage to the movement is equivalent to “drumming them out” — SPECIFICALLY them, even. They decry the divisiveness, the “deep rifts” that we’ve created. Never mind that these rifts have existed since atheism self-arranged around the idea that there are no gods, where this hardly a coherent community makes, and that people differ on all manner of other axes and we can’t all be right about all of them. These same people would prefer to drum US out, but since that’s the sort of thing we’re fighting against, the exclusionism and tribalism that creates factions and rifts and real pain to underprivileged classes, they perform their very best judo on us. They do whatever they can to make the rifts our fault. Because we pointed them out. They’ve fully internalized the Kindergarten meme of “who smelt it, dealt it”.

Since we’re all atheists, and the worst thing in the world is religion, they attack the thing that directly confronts their views of the primacy of their privileged position as “religious”, even though the people who identify as “atheist plus” are generally the following:

1) a subset of movement atheism who therefore also explicitly reject dogmatic religion;
2) a subset specifically made up of people who also hold humanist ideals and want to discuss social justice issues (primarily, at the moment, feminism);
3) consider those humanist and social justice ideals as being informed by their atheism;
4) question behaviours by so-called “leaders” of movement atheism that conflict with their philosophies about humanism and social justice;
5) have no leaders or accepted dogma, given the range of opinions WITHIN the label that conflict with one another;
6) have already had folks cleaning house within the label by demanding changes to behaviours identified as harmful from its own members;
7) have shown themselves open to social justice issues that aren’t necessarily their “pet” issue.

Atheism Plus is a nascent movement, and it’s not a movement at all. It is the result of Jen McCreight managing to light the tinderbox whose flint a number of us, myself included, have been trying to strike for years, by calling for a third wave of atheism where “New Atheism” hasn’t been entirely successful on many fronts as concerns internal coherence. A+ is the inevitable end result of the realization that movement atheism is very largely populated by people who insist that the fact that we have no religion means we must never curtail behaviours no matter how antisocial or harmful. This is, of course, both incorrect as a rule for building cohesive social structures, and as a characterization of the actual purpose and effects of A+.

I’ve said this before — I consider the “atheism plus” label a mere shorthand. It is an optional label that one can employ of you want to indicate to people that not only are you an atheist, but you also care about other things which are informed by your atheism. It means you have had it with those movement atheists who would prefer to keep acting exactly how they’re acting, even if it means trans folk and women generally — the two largest groups presently put off by their bigotries — get marginalized or ostracised, either by design or by accident. Misogyny, cissexism and other forms of overlapping gender-based discrimination are our best-represented, most visible bigotries in our movement. That’s not to discount other problems like ableism, or those hideous “race realists” who mangle science to prove racism, mind you — those must be challenged as well. Adopting the A+ shorthand is a signal that you won’t stand for any of that. It means you are willing to build a safe space where those anti-egalitarian and misanthropic ideas are dismissed for the bigoted and often religiously-derived prejudice that they are.

But while there’s a few people willing to turn this into a “with us (against prejudice) or against us (and for prejudice)”, I’m not.

With every person who by their behaviour embraces bigotry and prejudice whether they’re conscious of it or not, I’d rather tell them the effects of their behaviour, and convince them that to be a better person they need to change their behaviour, because some of these people are simply unaware. If they refuse, then I distance myself from them. If they’re stubborn and intractable and have been uncivil for any length of time, if they show no signs of abating, if they go on the attack, then I distance myself from them. Not “we”. Not unless you choose to judge these people by their behaviours the way I do. And they’re still free to keep acting like the douchenozzles they are — just as I’m free to associate with them or disengage as I see fit. It impinges not one whit on their ability to keep saying ridiculous nasty things about people, that I’ve said “not here”.

Meanwhile, even when they refuse to be corrected on those shitty behaviours, I still have a lot of respect for some of them. Say, for instance, Richard Dawkins’ work on popularizing atheism. And his works on scientific matters are unparalleled. I do think some of his ideas about feminism and social justice are muddled and fuzzy and in some very specific cases completely incorrect and damaging, and he’s said some absolutely terrible things to some people that are damaging to the brand of atheism altogether, so he does not represent me on any label other than “atheist” and “science-booster”.

I have strongly chastised DJ Grothe for some terrible anti-woman and anti-feminist messaging that has tangibly harmed the TAM brand and harmed movement skepticism, and his handling of the idea of implementing harassment policies that are less of a policy and more like a secret police force that nobody knew about until it swung into action and treated harassment into “protect the victim from physical assault” when no assault was in the making. He does not represent my views on feminism, on harassment, or on tribalism, given his “this is our tribe” speech at this last TAM. But he is an unparalleled skeptic in traditional skeptical matters like homeopathy, ghosts, UFOs and other matters. While I wish he would examine the sociological concept of privilege and how his repeated poor messaging has actually hurt his causes, I have immense respect for the man’s scholarship in those other matters.

But that’s not to say that those behaviours are acceptable by virtue of the good they’ve done — you don’t get a free pass for murder by doing charity work for thirty years. Nor is it to say that atheists need a set of laws or moral precepts to follow for adoption of the label “atheist”. You’re an atheist by merely denying the existence of a god or gods… but that’s not enough to build a coherent society around. If you want to build a movement that is accepting of more than cis-gendered men — accepting of any underprivileged person on any axis, in fact — then you need to acknowledge that these people deserve respect. And respecting them means not condoning trollish behaviour that explicitly denigrates the personhood or value of those several underprivileged classes.

So, we’ve taken the advice of those folks who demand that atheists stop talking about feminism by saying “well, we’re not JUST atheists, we give a shit about this other stuff too”. We’re tired of being told we’re splitting up the movement by those tribalists who really would like us to leave the movement altogether, so we’re modifying the label to fit us better. It is only divisive if you find being explicitly told a person’s views on other topics somehow damning of your own views.

It also indicates that when we are told we’ve done something that plays into a privilege that harms a subset of society, we are open to correcting that privilege in ourselves. I often forget to include alt tags or descriptions on my images for the blind or vision-impaired, because I’m fully sighted (though I require corrective lenses). I almost never think to include descriptions of videos or provide transcripts even though they’re available, because I’m not hard of hearing. Well, I suspect I have some hearing loss from my time working through school at a lead refinery, but it’s not enough that turning up the volume a little or asking someone to repeat from time to time doesn’t solve. It very often never occurs to me to do these things until someone corrects me on my privilege. Not once have I said “oh come on, I really doubt anyone who’s in X group really cares enough to know what I’m talking about here”, because at least one person just did so. And if there’s one, there’s more than one.

So, I do my damnedest to include alt tags on images, though I often only remember after publication. And wherever there’s a transcript available for a video, like the recent Google Hangout that Ophelia, Stephanie, Alex, Debbie and I had on A+ that was kindly transcribed by A+ Scribe, I will gladly include it in the post not only because it benefits the hard-of-hearing community, but also the folks who might want to reference a specific section of the video in a post of their own. Not only are we aiding an underprivileged group in enjoying the same content we do, but our community is stronger and better for it.

I am hard pressed to think of a single vector for which correcting our privilege as a community wouldn’t strengthen it, and that includes putting down the kinds of targeted vitriol that women and feminists endure on a daily basis. Privilege as a sociological concept is a powerful one, for its explanatory power and the mountain of evidence that it exists and that we all benefit from fixing the structures that lead to and support it. And whether you want to use the label as a shorthand, or you’re on board with all of the ideals the label is intended to represent and would rather eschew the label, either way’s fine with me. The words used to represent the idea matter less than the actions taken to realize the idea.

Those people who are pushing back against being told that their behaviours are harmful to our movement keep claiming that this is like a religion. What they’re really telling you is that they’d rather never be told to stop doing shitty things to good people. What they’re saying is that only religions tell you what is helpful or harmful, even if the people claiming it are able to provide evidence of harm where religion never does.

That’s a truth claim about the world that I think we can all agree — well, all of us but those privileged jackholes, anyway — is bullshit.

Atheism Plus is just like a religion

136 thoughts on “Atheism Plus is just like a religion

  1. DW
    101

    The whole A+ thing seems oddly ahistorical to me.

    As if atheists hadn’t – in the past – wrangled with these issues. Notwithstanding its religious roots, European existentialism is the attempt to see where atheism (most notably as the proposal of metaphysical emptiness)leads us: particularly in the field of ethics.. A+ seems to act as if that never happened..

    Also, there seems to me something really vague about ‘Social Justice’. What is that? Is anyone actually against it?

    There is also a disconnect in feeling that feminism, equality, etc needs to be ADDED to atheism. Some of us would argue that these notions are implicit in atheism itself- whether or not individuals recognise them as being so. Feminism, for example is an outworking of the idea of atheism – not an addition to it..

    more (of this) at http://dispirited.org/2012/08/30/atheism-plus-or-not-or-something-else/

  2. 102

    @jenny6833a, thank you, that’s interesting. I didn’t make it up as I’ve said, I only borrowed it. I wish I spoke French, and I wish I spoke it well enough to understand regional differences.

    @Jason Thibeault, enjoy your labor day, but I specifically wrote a long response to answer your questions, ….

  3. 103

    “Those people who are pushing back against being told that their behaviours are harmful to our movement keep claiming that this is like a religion. What they’re really telling you is that they’d rather never be told to stop doing shitty things to good people.”

    This kind of reminds me of theists who say “you don’t believe in God because you just wanna run around and sin!”

  4. 104

    Paul,

    This kind of reminds me of theists who say “you don’t believe in God because you just wanna run around and sin!”

    And it turns out that for a certain type of atheist, that isn’t actually far from the truth. It runs more along the libertarian line of “…because you just wanna run around without anyone imposing rules on you!” for some people. They don’t see religion as being wrong just because there’s no reason to believe it, but also because there’s rules involved and rules are bad! That’s where we get the “AtheismPlus is just like a religion, because those people want to tell me what to do based on their values. Values are BAD, rules are BAD, freedom to enjoy my privilege is GOOD!”

  5. 106

    Jacques: I’m still swamped with coding, so I don’t have time to rebut every point that’s gone unanswered as-yet. But you may want to reread the original post, especially where I said:

    With every person who by their behaviour embraces bigotry and prejudice whether they’re conscious of it or not, I’d rather tell them the effects of their behaviour, and convince them that to be a better person they need to change their behaviour, because some of these people are simply unaware. If they refuse, then I distance myself from them. If they’re stubborn and intractable and have been uncivil for any length of time, if they show no signs of abating, if they go on the attack, then I distance myself from them. Not “we”. Not unless you choose to judge these people by their behaviours the way I do. And they’re still free to keep acting like the douchenozzles they are — just as I’m free to associate with them or disengage as I see fit. It impinges not one whit on their ability to keep saying ridiculous nasty things about people, that I’ve said “not here”.

    It sounds to me like Greta’s saying “not here”.

    You have a problem with people curating their spaces and ousting people who’ve been shown to be abusive or derailing? Because in every forum you go to — even horrible forums like 4chan or Stormfront — you have exactly one rule for escaping the banhammer. Don’t piss off the admin. In this case, as I’ve said above, it is not contra Atheism Plus to remove from the conversation voices that are on the attack. It’s actually the POINT of the label — that we will protect the space for social justice ideals (including but not limited to feminism). People who attack those ideals without evidence or reason or logic, with nothing but a fomented hatred and an intractable inability to simply listen to the others’ viewpoints openly, get removed from the space because they aren’t helping.

    This isn’t “silencing dissent”. It’s silencing trolls. There’s a huge difference.

    You’ve dissented quite a bit here. You’ve completely boggled several of us, myself included, with your inability to simply get the fucking point. Atheism Plus is a way of stating “let’s take all these evidenced positions as given, and let’s stop getting derailed by 101-level or JAQ-off questions by intentional trolls and skip all that from now on.” I might be more lenient than most others, in trying to convince you first, but you’re rapidly approaching my own breaking point. It is only by the grace of the fact that I haven’t answered what you’ve provided me today that I am not already at that point.

  6. 107

    Been a while since I could get back.

    Corey, you said you’d love cleaning up human shit for 40k, how about for $0, as the traditional rate has been for millennia. That said, I agree that the media is shitty and reinforces shitty tropes about gender (and if anyone cares, race, and a host of other topics). Duh.

    LSP touched on this:

    but it means that hoisting people up onto petards isn’t the right way to talk about it.

    I feel like I kinda have to comment on this since I slammed some slimepit commenter for the same mistake! A petard is sort of a bomb, and you aren’t usually hoisted onto it, the hoisting happens when it goes off when you are near it and it hoists you and your guts into the air. “Hoist by one’s own petard” is a long way of saying the more colloquial “backfire”.

  7. 108

    Oh Puh-leaze.

    It’s clearly not just me who doesn’t get your point. If it was just me, there wouldn’t be all these blog posts about why is it that there is so many questions about atheism+ being divisive.

    You wouldn’t have the Guardian writing this:

    Those of us who do not wish to extend our atheism into someone else’s definition of progressive politics may take rather unkindly to being described as immoral scum, useful but unsavoury body parts, and outdated contraceptive devices. In the week when American atheism made its appearance in the Economist’s editorial pages, it seems to have been sowing the seeds of that most religious of events – a schism.

    St Paul would be laughing his head off, had a Roman soldier not already deprived him of it. “See,” he might now write after reading those modern epistles, the blogs, comments and tweets around the birth of Atheism+, “how these atheists love one another.”

    Instead Jason you ask me questions, I take the time to respond, you blow me off, and then threaten bannination.

    As I said, Puh-leaze.

    Richard Feynman once remarked that unless one is able to make one’s ideas understandable to college freshmen, one doesn’t really understand them. On the other hand, when asked by a reporter to explain why he was awarded the Nobel Prize, Feynman remarked, “Listen buddy, if I could explain it in fifty words or less, it wouldn’t be worth a Nobel Prize.”

    There are two truths here: (1) Important ideas can be made accessible without dumbing them down; (2) The details of a scientific theory are important and typically inaccessible except to individuals with the requisite training. The hallmark of good science writing–the Feynman Test, let’s call it–is the ability to heed both of these truths at the same time.

    You have a two week old nascent movement that the Guardian describes as a schism. Instead of victim blaming people that understandably are confused and seeking clarification, why not own your shit and realize the need on your part to be clear and why not listen to people raising questions and consider those questions valid and not reasons for you to delegitimatize them and dismiss them.

  8. 110

    Oh puh-leaze, whatever dude. It’s pretty clear that I have been on topic and relevant.

    Do what you want, but own it, don’t blame it on mysterious outside forces.

  9. 114

    Jacques, you are being woefully disingenious. The flaws in your thought process have been exposed. You have been offered many opportunities to inspect these processes and declined each time.

    I posit that you have no interest in challenging your misconceptions and you hide behind skepticism in order to avoid your obligations as a human being.

    You are dishonest. You do not seek Truth. You are the seed of the rot.

  10. 115

    102. Jacques Cuze says:

    @jenny6833a, thank you, that’s interesting. I didn’t make it up as I’ve said, I only borrowed it. I wish I spoke French, and I wish I spoke it well enough to understand regional differences.

    Like the United States and the UK, France has regional differences, but unlike in the USA/UK and between the USA and UK, they don’t impede communication.

    In the south of France, the whole word is pronounced; they don’t ‘swallow’ (or totally drop) the final syllable. Put another way, the trailing ‘e’ is pronounced, and pronounced ‘uh.’ Thus ‘Jacques’ is Jacq-uh (not Jacq) and ‘accuse’ is accus-uh (not accus).

    Way way back, long before the euro, on my first trip to Paris, a French engineer helpfully told me that something (I forget what) would cost me ‘quatre francs’ but actually said ‘qua fra’ (as in ‘kah frah’). I didn’t get it. My language consultant, from Beziers, explained and dismissively said, “They don’t speak real French here.” Parisians, predictably, regard full-word pronounciation as a provincial oddity. But they do understand each other.

    [This comment has been brught to y’all in an attempt to divert y’all from the acrimonious topic at hand.]

  11. 116

    “You are dishonest. You do not seek Truth. You are the seed of the rot.”

    And Verily I Cast Thee Into the Outer Darkness!

    Are you sure you’re not a slymepit troll trying to blacken the image of Atheism+ B-Lar? Because it certainly sounds like you are. Try more to make A+ sound like a religion, it’s not going to work.

  12. 117

    “Slymepit”, SayNoMore? That’s a bit of a tell, don’t you think? No? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Good. Keep your twitches so I can tell who’s coming from where.

    Jacques: the only things I can tell haven’t been adequately answered are the following.

    Jason,

    I apologize, I am terribly busy today, very quickly, and inadequately,

    Oh nice, blow me off!

    Oh wait, sorry, that’s what you accused ME of, for being terribly busy yesterday.

    Well, I’m glad you got the name, it’s from an old science fiction story. Of all the names of all the blogs, this name is the one that bugs you?

    Because it’s not that at all. There’s more history to the word than that. via Wiki:

    “J’accuse” (French pronunciation: [ʒaˈkyz], “I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”) was an open letter published on January 13, 1898, in the newspaper L’Aurore by the influential writer Émile Zola.

    In the letter, Zola addressed President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence. The letter was printed on the front page of the newspaper, and caused a stir in France and abroad. Zola was prosecuted and found guilty of libel on 23 February 1898. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to England, returning home in June 1899.

    Do you think you’re fighting a corrupt government and worry that you’re being unfairly prosecuted? I don’t know if the context of the sci-fi story has those same undertones, but I wouldn’t be surprised. And as Jenny points out, it’s only a clever name depending on where you live. Other places, it takes some squinting to catch it. As with me, living in the rural Maritimes in a mostly-English area.

    It’s total bullshit, and you should examine your assumptions, to think that humanity never discovered or fought for social justice until feminism came along. Or to imagine that people cannot find for women’s rights unless they identify as feminists.

    What it probably means is that you are historically ignorant, AND YOUR PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE only came about after an introduction to feminism.

    Others have answered this well enough, but I need to speak for myself: I came to social justice through atheism. Movement atheism is a social justice cause — overturning religious privilege in areas where religious majorities screw with laws and rights such that they benefit the religious and disadvantage the irreligious or those of the wrong religion. I found parallels with the gay rights movements first. Then with feminism later. This is all detailed in my essay Mission Creep. It still suggests to me you have little idea what “social justice” means.

    Actually, I think we should flip this, and if Stephanie Svan and others can just say “We’re somewhere beyond 3rd Wave” and other people can say “If you dislike A+ you’re an asshole and a douchebag” and PZ can say, “I’ve got a logo for people that reject A+, it’s A*”, then what we really need is what people have been asking for for weeks:

    WHAT IS A+’s position: Is it humanism? Is it a demand for a certain set of feminism? If so, WHICH SET? What does A+ stand for? Are there principles that can be laid out? Position papers? Which is primary for A+, Skepticism, Atheism or Feminism?

    It is an adjective describing the nexus of self-identified social justice advocates and humanists who identify primarily as atheists. It’s not a movement with set standards, or goals, though by our common grounds we’ve already come to a few ideals and positive actions, which I’ve largely identified in the original post. Go read it again.

    Feminism is ONE social justice cause, but it’s a very large and contentious one, where some people (like yourself) are skeptical of scientific sociological terms like “privilege” (for which we have a large body of evidence). There are also people like yourself who think that the disadvantages of being a man are terrible, but that the disadvantages of being a woman apparently either don’t exist or aren’t problematic enough to build into trends as opposed to individual micro-aggressions. Your fight for equality elides vast swathes of both scientific data and personal experiences.

    And your dismissive reductionism of several waves of feminist thought into one monolith so that you can complain that feminists often say “not all feminists are like that!” when you complain about something that one school of radical feminist (of which there are still multiple of those, don’t forget!) might do. You’re complaining that feminism is too nebulous to pin down to being only the most odious parts of itself as though the 0.0001% of feminism that believes that men are evil and must be subjugated, and that transsexuals are evil and not “real women”, et cetera, et cetera, is supposed to be representative of the whole. The “not all feminists are like that” argument is valid when the overwhelming majority of feminists aren’t like that. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of people aren’t 7 feet tall, so complaining “NAPASFT” (Not All People Are Seven Feet Tall) is a stupid thing to build an acronym around.

    Beyond all that, yes, people have explained a number of things a number of times and you repeat those tired tropes regardless. LSP has done a bang-up job of fisking your posts — I agree with everything (EVERYTHING!) she’s had to say on the matter both here and at Stephanie Zvan’s.

    Especially all the F-bombs.

    So when I throw you into moderation for being a disingenuous arguer, for being stubborn and intractable, for getting whole schools of thought completely wrong (seriously — go read about the three waves of feminism and understand that there are people, myself included, building a fourth wave of feminism that includes the kind of intersectionality that Atheism Plus embodies!), and for thinking my time is free for the taking while your own is sacrosanct, it’s not “magical outside forces”. It’s me putting a troll to bed.

  13. 118

    Or maybe the solution is to just to skip all the meaningless third grade playground shouts. You could say, for example, I disagree with that person, because ….

    The good old comma followed by that ‘because’ word is too little used around here.

    But when it’s used in a construction like “I disagree with that douchebag, because…” people just shut down at the first insult? No, the existence of an insult does not remove all the arguments contra that person’s views. It is a judgment call. And it can be done in exactly the same way without a swear word and pass some people’s “profanity filter”:

    “I disagree with the bigotry and dishonesty evinced by this person, because…”

    Both of them are judgment calls about a person’s character that moves into “defamation” territory if used incorrectly. “Douchebag” does not amount to defamation. It is exactly as emotive, and as long as it is not used in isolation (e.g. as long as there IS a because), it does not change the argument to ad hominem. And it is most assuredly not a playground insult to make emotive judgments alongside logical and rational arguments.

    Ethos, logos, pathos.

  14. 119

    Oh, and Jacques, speaking of avoiding questions:

    Actually, I think we should flip this

    You don’t get to ignore my question to ask me the same thing, when my answer is not only present in other writings of mine but also in this very post. I still want an answer. What evidence brings you to the conclusions that your particular definition of feminism and social justice should be considered canon? To answer that, you’ll also have to provide a definition of “contemporary feminism” that consists of more than “a mish-mosh of feminisms since 1970’s porn war” (???). Something a little more grounded in reality, please.

    You’re in moderation until you provide exactly that answer.

  15. 120

    Are you sure you’re not a slymepit troll trying to blacken the image of Atheism+ B-Lar? Because it certainly sounds like you are. Try more to make A+ sound like a religion, it’s not going to work.

    No matter how hard I try, I couldn’t make A+ sound like a religion. Accusations of dogmaticism cannot stick to those who pursue Truth wherever it goes. My choices of phrase are only my own and mine alone. Today I chose to choose poetry, and whatever it sounds like to you is fine by me.

    “The seed and the rot” in apocryphal parlance refers to “the beginning and the end”. I tweaked it for my own amusement and took some poetic license with it so that it could become “the beginning of the end” and also “that with which the rot propogates itself”.

    If Jacques wants to claim that he is a skeptic without applying its principles to himself, and by being otherwise willfully disingenious and dishonest, then he is contributing to our collective misery and bringing the good name of skepticism into disrepute. Thusly, he is the seed of the rot.

    Skepticism requires humility as well as tenacity. We must all study this principle deeply.

  16. 121

    Jason,

    We’re pretty much done here. A dialogue is two part, not one person responding to the demands of another. Skepticism allows for, and demands, the questioning of premises.

    Atheism+, through the behavior of its founders, and you, shows time and again fealty to contemporary feminism while rejecting questions about that.

    Atheism+ is a feminist movement and has little to do with Atheism itself.

    I would like to add one more thing to LSP.

    LSP, you are abusive of people. This is not a tone argument. A tone argument is, “I will not listen to feminists because they are too shrill”.

    Not a tone argument is, “LSP, all you can do is curse at people and never assume good will”. LSP, I owe you no reading, and no response until you can stop your ugly, abusive, derailing, threatening behavior.

    It is not deflecting to ignore you. It’s common sense.

    I have been polite and on topic throughout, your need to ban me Jason is imaginary.

  17. 122

    @Sheesh #107:

    Corey, you said you’d love cleaning up human shit for 40k, how about for $0, as the traditional rate has been for millennia.

    Eh… Demand can be higher when there aren’t sewers.
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Gong Farmer

    a term that entered use in Tudor England to describe someone who dug out and removed human excrement from privies and cesspits; the word “gong” was used for both a privy and its contents. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night, hence they were sometimes known as nightmen. The waste they collected, known as night soil, had to be taken outside the city or town boundary or to official dumps for disposal, from where it might be taken to be spread as fertiliser on fields or market gardens.

    Those employed at Hampton Court during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, for instance, were paid sixpence a day, a good living for the period, but the working life of a gong farmer was “spent up to his knees, waist, even neck in human ordure”.

    Article: Wikipedia – Night Soil Examples
    On the other hand, there are the Indian Untouchables who have been indoctrinated to believe it their birthright to be poor and exploited, thanks to Hinduism’s caste system and its ostracism of ritualy impure occupations.

  18. 123

    ““Slymepit”, SayNoMore? That’s a bit of a tell, don’t you think? No? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Good. Keep your twitches so I can tell who’s coming from where.”

    Nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I can hazard a guess, only people from the Slimepit spell it Slymepit? My bad.

    “Accusations of dogmaticism cannot stick to those who pursue Truth wherever it goes”

    Well that’s simply not true. Melodramatic and romantic in a naive starry-eyed way. But definitely not true. Nor what a person who really pursued truth rather than romantic notions would believe.

    ““The seed and the rot” in apocryphal parlance…

    Yes. In apocryphal parlance… I thought you said that you couldn’t make this sound religious?

    It’s highly suspicious to me that you deliberately use religious terminology and vague religious sounding pronouncements to deny that this smacks of religion. You may be honestly ‘poetic’ but it sounds a lot like someone trying to make us sound religious.

    “Skepticism requires humility as well as tenacity. We must all study this principle deeply.”

    More than that skepticism requires precision, accuracy, and only accepting truthful evidenced statements that are actually correct – not starry-eyed and clearly false slogans about “those in pursuit of Truth” and definitely no ‘apocryphal parlance’ and ‘vaguely sounding like a religion just when people are accusing us of being a crypto-religion’

  19. 124

    More than that skepticism requires precision, accuracy, and only accepting truthful evidenced statements that are actually correct – not starry-eyed and clearly false slogans about “those in pursuit of Truth” and definitely no ‘apocryphal parlance’ and ‘vaguely sounding like a religion just when people are accusing us of being a crypto-religion’

    My turns of phrase are my own, and if the enemy choose to use them as ammunition, then it will be low calibre ammunition indeed. They are simply wrong. The whole point of A+ is that we recognise that there are those who actively work against principles of social justice, and dismiss their defamations and egotistical rationalisations because we can see them for what they are by virtue of our adherence to the truth.

    What is a skeptic if not one who is pursuing truth? I am happy to continue asserting that if you base your decisions on Truth and integrity, then defeat is only possible if you give up. Even if there are ten thousand deluded people against you, the truth will be borne out in reality. If I am ever shown to be wrong (and I have been) then invariably it is a result of a deviation from truth and integrity demands that I re-fix my position back to reality. I dont have a choice in the matter. Being wrong is a position from which no strategy will lead to success, and above all else, I consider myself a strategist. This might sound starry-eyed to you, but I have never been let down by this principle, and I will only abandon it if it can be shown to be false. Can you show it to be false, or is this an objection to tone and presentation?

    Here is a evidentially baseless quote from a chap who did some stuff in India awhile back: “There is no god greater than truth”. It is direct, inspiring, elegant, relevant, and sweet in its simplicity. It implies that Truth is a kind of god, and I am sure that there are some people who would paint it that way. To me it says: “Truth surpasses god” and playfully paints god as a cheap deception by comparison. Precision is important, but when your words will be taken out of context regardless how precise they are, why not express yourself as you wish to?

    A concession: I will endeavour to stop capitalising truth in future. Truth might be the most important thing there is, but it doesnt demand to be honoured and doesnt care about my fawning over it. I will not object if others do not agree however.

  20. 125

    @B-Lar #123:

    I will endeavour to stop capitalising truth in future. Truth might be the most important thing there is, but it doesnt demand to be honoured

    I don’t know how much of your posts were performance, but capitalizing Truth can be interpreted by readers in ways other than fawning (like “Him”).
     
    Another common distinction between the two is that “truth” is correlated observations tied together with models, and “Truth” is how things really objectively are.

    “truth” may only superficially resemble “Truth” due to assumptions, faulty information, misunderstanding, etc. For practical purposes, a useful “truth” is attainable and indistinguishable until it fails.

    There are many metaphysical theories that attempt to relate the two, but often when someone brings up “Truth” in conversation, it’s to presume their own understanding of reality superceeds everyone else’s “truth”, regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

  21. 127

    Jacques Cuze: I just released your “parting shot” @121 from moderation to show everyone exactly why you need to be tossed into moderation — because you resist any attempt to keep you from derailing. Which is actually abusive of discourse, unlike LSP who is “abusive” only insofar as she swears.

    Either answer the questions you’ve been dodging, or take back your accusations that others are dodging. Or stay silent here forevermore. I care not.

  22. 129

    There are many metaphysical theories that attempt to relate the two, but often when someone brings up “Truth” in conversation, it’s to presume their own understanding of reality superceeds everyone else’s “truth”, regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

    Absolutely. That is an impression that I dont want to give, and furthermore I realised that I had not been judicious in my use of the capitalised version recently. I understand the distinction and used to be careful with it, but somewhere along the line I started waving the capital t around like I owned it and the line was becoming blurred.

    Its a minor quibble, but with a concept like Truth, fucking around is not allowed.

    I don’t know how much of your posts was performance

    Maybe a little. I tend to use flamboyant speech in meatspace too, and I am used to being looked at askance because of it which has resulted me embracing a “think what you like” attitude. It is not a dishonest performance though, and I hope that makes sense.

  23. 130

    Well, so much for that attempted post; anyway. How can a person get a full dump of what has
    happened, say, since tf00t’s self-disgrace starting in June? Would reddit, this place, and twitter
    capture it all?

  24. 131

    Not by a long shot, see_the_galaxy. You’d need to sample pretty well every blog at every community to see the whole scope, and to see the ribbons of hatred running through it.

    I don’t pretend the hate comes from a disproportionately large quarter of our community. It comes from a disproportionately VOCAL quarter, which damages us internally and externally.

  25. RG
    134

    “She didn’t ban others who were also, equally, if not more so, off topic.

    It’s this sort of behavior that leads me to believe it is safe to question atheism, safe to question skepticism, and not safe to question contemporary feminism, and hence, not an atheistic nor skeptical movement at all.”

    I continue to hear this type of response.

    I have an inherent suspicion in both directions.

    I would not be surprised if a number of atheist men (since not all atheists arrive at that position from reasonable thought or logical deconstruction of presumption) do have some aggressive views that infer some kind of negativity towards women.

    However, I’m also continually disturbed by the modern feminist machine (particularly, with this new fetish of “privilege”, which really only means “specific random ways I can correlate as being relevant to why my life isn’t as comfortable as yours”), and know from experience that many people (men and women) talking about woman-related hot topics have little-to-no capacity to discuss said topics rationally, devolve to the a priori resentment we’re all “supposed to feel” (if we’re not barbarians, we’re told) about them, and then get booted or publicly hushed if offering any view that may even remotely seem not 100% positive odd whatever position they are defending.

    My final best guess would be that there are honest, skeptical, reasonable people in both groups who, if they alone were the champions of engaging in the discussions, could arrive at a sensible meeting of minds…but that both factions are, largely, populated by the flag-wavers.

    It really is a disheartening realization to see people being able to treat anything as a new personal dogma, rather than consistently analyzing everything we think must be so just because we “feel” it is.

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