Why It Matters

I shall now shamelessly filch a bit of Ophelia’s pointed post, and Quote it For Truth. I ask that all the people who, now or in the future, wish to whine about how we’re so mean and if we don’t like it just ignore it, please pay attention. We can’t ignore big-name atheists when they indulge in this shit.

Ok wait a second, a partisan of the Dawkins-Coyne faction might say here. Hold on. Why have people been documenting the things Dawkins types? It’s just because you’re looking for fodder for click-bait, right? Right?

No. It’s because Dawkins matters. It’s because he’s not just some random atheist; he’s the most un-random atheist we’ve got. He is by far the most famous recognizable celebrity-like person in the Anglophone atheist movement. (Anglophone, please note. Michael Nugent keeps complaining that global atheism isn’t American atheism, as if we obnoxious Yanks had been pretending otherwise. No, of course it’s not. I’m talking about Anglophone atheism here.) Now an atheist celebrity isn’t a real celebrity by the usual standards; Dawkins isn’t a movie star or rock star or basketball star; but he is a celeb in this particular niche. He’s the celeb.

As such, he does a lot to set the tone of said atheist movement.

That tone sucks.

We – we naughty critics, we bad people who keep documenting what Dawkins says on Twitter – we would like to have a better atheist movement with a less sucky tone. We would like to have an atheist movement that’s not sometimes absent-mindedly and sometimes determinedly contemptuous of women. We think it would help if Dawkins set a better tone.

Or at least I do. I think the others do too; I think that’s basically why any of us do this; but I haven’t polled them and I don’t know that they would word it this way.
But I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of it. The atheist movement is way too riddled with casual sexism, and Dawkins has done a lot to make it that way, and we would like him to stop doing that and do the opposite instead.

I’m one of those others. That’s my motivation in a nutshell. So that’s at least two of us. I’ll eventually have a longer post up explaining why I take off after atheist leaders doing sexist (and other awful) things, but that’s the basics. We expect better, and we need them to do better, and they’re never going to if lots of people don’t demand better.

Image shows a puma with its paws crossed and its ears flattened, gazing at the camera as if disappointed and annoyed. Caption says, "We expect better of you than this."
Puma photo by Beatrice Murch via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)
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Why It Matters
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11 thoughts on “Why It Matters

  1. 3

    By referring to that kitty as a “puma”, you’re betraying your Southwestern roots. In your current part of the world, it’s a “cougar”. And in my native Montana, it’s a “Mountain Lion”.

    You’ve had some great posts up lately, to which I’ve paid too little attention. After this weekend’s pumpkin activities are over, I’ll have more time and give them the thought they deserve.

  2. 4

    By referring to that kitty as a “puma”, you’re betraying your Southwestern roots. In your current part of the world, it’s a “cougar”. And in my native Montana, it’s a “Mountain Lion”.

    This is why we have scientific names for things. So people don’t get into arguments about what to call it. It’s a Felis concolor.

    [/being silly]

  3. rq
    5

    It’s a Felis concolor</i?.

    That’s not even English! I’m pretty sure someone out there disputes that, too, what with species identification being what it is these days. :P [/continued silliness]

  4. 6

    Wikipedia actually says it’s puma concolor these days. Since 1996 or something, although this was the first time I’d seen it that way.

    Also: I left out “catamount”. And “Florida panther”.

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