Why I Am an Atheist Writer

The question here is not, “Why am I an atheist?” I think I’ve answered that question ad nauseum. (Not that that’s going to stop me from continuing to answer it…)

The question is, “Why am I an atheist writer?” Or maybe, since I consider my writing to be a form of activism: Why am I an atheist activist? Why am I involving myself so deeply in the so-called “new” atheist movement?

This question sometimes gets asked of me by trolls. People who don’t want anyone to be involved in the atheist movement. People who think the whole movement is a waste of time (or who want to convince people in the movement that it’s a waste of time… probably because it’s anything but).

But it also gets asked of me by… well, by me.

I have become involved in this movement to a degree that surprises even myself. It’s taken over my writing career, my personal life, my time wasted on the Internet, my time just in general, my conversations with Ingrid, the inside of my head… to a degree I never would have expected when I first picked up a copy of The God Delusion.

I’ve been thinking about why. And I think my reasons boil down to three basic categories: the noble and inspired, the pragmatic and Machiavellian, and the broad sweep of history/ just plain fun.

1) The noble, inspired reasons.

I’m an atheist writer and activist because I think atheism is important. Really, really important.

Religion, obviously, is a hugely influential force in human society. And I have come to the conclusion that it’s (a) a mistaken idea about the world, and (b) an idea that, on the whole, does significantly more harm than good. I think the world would be far better off without religion, and while of course I passionately defend people’s religious freedom and their right to believe whatever the hell they want, I also think that trying to persuade people out of religious belief — and trying to make the world a safer place to be a non-believer — are goals worth reaching for.

(To be more specific — and to give credit where credit is due — I’m an atheist writer and activist because of Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion. I argued my way through the entire length of that book; I called Dr. Dawkins an astonishing assortment of rude names during the course of reading it… and by the end, I had not only given up calling myself agnostic and was proudly calling myself an atheist, but had been persuaded that atheism was an important issue, and one that deserved a significant portion of my time and writing career. I was inspired by his writing, and I want to pass on this inspiration to others.)

2) The pragmatic, Machiavellian reasons.

Atheism is a growth industry.

Whenever I’m commiserating with a fellow writer about the trials of a writing career, I always take pains to point this out. I’ve gotten more traction out of my atheist writing than I have out of any other topic I’ve written about. And yes, that includes the sex writing. My atheist writing gets me more traffic, more recognition, more credibility, than anything I’ve ever written. By several orders of magnitude. (And it earns me more money, too.) Any hope I have of being a seriously successful full-time writer hinges on the atheism. I’d be an idiot not to ride this pony all the way to the finish line.

Gay liberation day 1970
3) The broad sweep of history/ just plain fun reasons.

It’s easiest to explain this one to queers. Whenever I’m explaining my atheist activism to queer activists, I always ask them, “If you could go back in time and be part of the queer movement right after Stonewall… wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you want to be part of this movement right as it was getting off the ground — when it was all new and exciting, and you could make a real mark and shape the direction it went in?”

That’s how I feel about the atheist movement.

When it comes to social change movements, I’ve always been late to the party. I was late to the feminist party; I was late to the LGBT party; I was late to the lesbian sex wars (although not as late as I was to these other parties).

But I’m not late to the atheism party. Or at least, not very late. The atheist movement, in my opinion, is very much where the LGBT movement was about 35 years ago, right after the Stonewall riots. Like the post-Stonewall LGBT movement, there’s been an atheist movement for decades (if not longer) — but in the last few years, it’s become more visible, more vocal, more outspoken, less apologetic, more activist, better organized. Dramatically. By several orders of magnitude. We’ve gone from being on almost nobody’s radar, to being a major topic of conversation on TV news shows and in op-ed pages, at water coolers and on Facebook… in a stunningly short amount of time.

And I get to be part of it. Now. Not twenty or thirty years from now — now. I get to be in on the ground floor. (Or the floor just above the ground floor, anyway.)

Which means two things about my involvement.

It means I have a chance to make a real mark. As I’ve gassed on pompously in the past: If the atheist movement succeeds — if those of us trying to persuade people out of religion eventually succeed, if current trends continue and the number of people who don’t believe in God continues to grow, if eventually everybody (or almost everybody) abandons the religion hypothesis entirely — it will be one of the most important developments in human history. It will be like the Enlightenment, or the Industrial Revolution. It will be the sort of thing historians write about. People will see human history as divided into two eras: When We Believed In Gods, and When We Stopped Believing In Gods. Having a chance to be part of that — having a chance to be even a small footnote when the history of this movement gets written — is one of the most richly rewarding things I’ve ever done.

And it means that it’s a hoot and a holler.

The atheist movement, right now, is more fun than a barrel of narwhals. (Causing a commotion, ’cause we are so awesome!) As I’ve also gassed on about before: Activists in the early days of a movement tend to be totally freaking amazing. They tend to have strong personalities, independent spirits, a huge amount of self-confidence, a passion for social change, a vision for the future, a wicked sense of humor, a metric shitload of courage, and an unbelievably thick skin. (They can also be stubborn, aggravating, arrogant pains in the ass… but that comes with the abovementioned territory, and IMO it’s a price totally worth paying.)

And that makes this movement exciting, and inspiring, and hilarious, and intellectually stimulating, and wildly entertaining.

I get to work for something I believe in. I get to advance my writing career. I get to be part of history. And I get to have a ball doing it.

Who on Earth wouldn’t want to do that?

Why I Am an Atheist Writer
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45 thoughts on “Why I Am an Atheist Writer

  1. 6

    This was a question I thought about as I headed to the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia recently. “Why do I care about this so much that I feel I need to speak up and risk alienating my Christian friends in doing so?” Australia is even a relatively safe place to be an out atheist, because we don’t seem to take religion as seriously as some other places.
    I went to the GAC primarily because of the awesome speakers, but I was also looking for good reasons to justify my atheist activism – I wanted to check that I wasn’t being unreasonable in speaking out for atheism.
    What I found at the GAC was the most awesome community of freethinkers I have ever had the pleasure of associating with. It was, as you say Greta, “exciting, and inspiring, and hilarious, and intellectually stimulating, and wildly entertaining.”
    I think the world needs more rationality, and said so. Someone replied that if you want rationality, then don’t look to human beings for it. I thought that we could at least try, and (at the risk of making this TL;DR comment even more TL) I recently saw A.C. Grayling express that sentiment with an eloquence I find breathtaking. He said:
    “Humanity is an alloy, and we live with problems always, too many of them bequeathed by a past whose worst horrors (ideological oppressions not least among them) we strive with incomplete success to escape.
    “If nevertheless it is high-minded silliness to champion the cause of trying to conduct our affairs sensibly, and to free our minds and lives to the greatest extent conformable with our being social animals who owe one another moral regard, I embrace it with enthusiasm.”
    That is why I am an Affirmative Atheist.
    I do hope, Greta, that when the history of the early 21st century is written you get at least a footnote, if not a chapter.

  2. 7

    I still haven’t gotten around to reading “The God Delusion” (been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now!)… but actually, it was YOUR writing, Greta, that got ME to stop referring to myself as agnostic and went full-on atheist.

  3. 8

    First and foremost, I believe atheism should be classed as “a religion”, in the sense that atheists exhibit so many attributes similar to people who follow organised religion. I mean, atheists usually say that people who believe in religion do so because they want to. That psychologically, human beings feel comfort in a fact that there is a higher being looking after them, and so they believe in a higher being. But at the same time, it can also be said that atheists do not believe in a higher being because they do not want to. That psychologically, human beings do not like to be held accountable for their actions and like to follow their desires. So, not much difference between them there.
    So now going to your blog, you were believing in an afterlife because it gave you comfort, and so you were believing what you wanted to believe. But when you decided to be honest with yourself, you could no longer continue to believe what you wanted to believe, and you had to start following what you felt was the truth, and that is one of the reasons why you believe atheism is correct – because your brain feels it is correct. But your brain feeling something is correct does not mean it is. Because we can have an atheist who does actually believe there is a God, but he or she does not want to believe in God because he or she wants to live a good life and do whatever they please and steal money to get rich etc, and then one day, this atheist realises that all this time they’ve been believing in something because they wanted to believe it, and they then decide to be honest with themselves, and believe in what they really believe in, namely a God – now, just because this persons brain feels believing in a God is correct, does that mean God exists?
    Then there is the question of “I am right, others are wrong”. Both atheists and followers of organized religion are vehement that the other is wrong, and aren’t willing to consider other possibilities.
    Then we come to the good old hypocrisy and “lies”. We know “religious” people do this, but so do atheists. It is often said by atheists that religion has been the cause of so many deaths and suffering, but have you ever heard an atheist admit that religion could also have stopped people from being killed? If Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot believed in a God and believed that they will be answerable for their actions, “maybe” they would not have killed the tens of millions that they collectively killed. Is this not a possibility? I mean, there certainly are people who do not do “bad” deeds because they believe in a God. Yet I don’t see any atheists ever mentioning this, just like I don’t see religious people not mention how religion can cause people to do bad things and how atheism can stop people from doing bad things. So you see, once again, there is very little difference in the behavior and integrity of people of religion and atheists.
    Moving on, let’s discuss science, rationality and philosophy.
    If person A sees suffering in the world, and he or she feels that if there was such a great being as a God, He would never allow suffering, and therefore person A comes to the conclusion that there cannot be a God.
    If person B sees suffering in the world, and he or she feels that “all is well that ends well”, and that suffering followed by great pleasure is actually good because you can then appreciate the great pleasure more, and therefore person B comes to the conclusion that such a great being as God can allow suffering without being immoral, seeing people suffer does not mean that God cannot exist.
    So we have two people, both of whom have used what in their brains are rational explanations to come to two very different conclusions – so which of the two arguments is rational?
    Atheists often say that religious people cannot prove anything, but the “fact” is, neither can atheists. Every human being has to have some “faith”. Dawkins has come out with a book stating that “this book is my personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact – as incontrovertible a fact as any in science”. But is it a “fact”? Can anything be “fact”? Have you come across the theory of Boltzmann brain? What if out of the chaos of the universe, matter was to come together to form a human brain. The memories that brain that has just been created will be false. They will not be fact. That brain might think that yesterday it went to see a football game because of the way all the neurons are connected, and so to this brain that is a fact – but actually, it is not a fact. So when the great militant atheist Dawkins makes a statement about something being a fact, what he is in fact really saying is that I have “faith” that I am not a Boltzmann brain and that everything I have experienced did actually happen and in light of this, evolution is a fact.
    (And you did say that you always wanted to know the truth – so did I, when I was a child, I wanted to be a Cosmologist, so that I could hopefully work on the Grand Unified Theory and one day find the answers to everything in life – it was when I grew older and realised that there never will be a theory that will explain everything that I decided to become a Computer Scientist).
    So you see, the point I am making is, there actually isn’t much difference between atheists are religious people. One cannot prove the existence of God, and the other cannot prove the non-existence of God. One has to have faith that their teachings is right, the other has to have faith that their “scientific facts” are right. Of course, the Russell teapot argument would always come up. But, if Bertrand Russell was known to be an honest man who did not lie to his friends, and then he told his friends that he has somehow managed to launch a spaceship with his teapot in it into outer space, that the spaceship has since broken up, and that his teapot is now orbiting the sun, it would not be irrational of his friends to actually believe his teapot is orbiting the sun. His friends would have faith in Russell’s integrity, and if he was adamant that he is serious in what he is saying, the logic of his friends would be that he is a honest guy, that he is sane, that he would not lie to them, therefore it might well be true that his teapot is now in space orbiting the sun. I guess when you look at religious people, their beliefs aren’t as irrational anymore. If they believe that Jesus was a really honest person, if they believe that Jesus was sane, if they believe that the Bible we have today is what Jesus actually spoke, then their belief is actually not as irrational as we make it out to be. (of course, we do not know what Jesus was as a person, the Bible we have is almost certainly not what Jesus “spoke”, but that is not the point here – the point I am trying to make is, that atheists often try to use the Russell argument to try and make religious people seem totally irrational when in fact you can actually be rational and believe in a higher being).
    It is for this reason that I always believe that the way forward for mankind is, instead of trying to prove one another wrong, to actually talk to one another and exchange views and try and make us become tolerable and full of love.

  4. 9

    As someone who always wanted to know the truth as a kid, I have come to realise that I will “most probably” never be able to know the truth, and so for me the only truth that human beings should know is the truth that they can “never” be certain of the truth, and so I don’t care what religion one follows as long as they follow an interpretation that puts tolerance and love above all else.

  5. 10

    Oh yes, just one more thing that I remembered. Many notable scientists (you know, those blokes (and blokesesses) who are rational), now consider that there is a possibility that we’re living in a simulated reality – in other words, “something” created us. Atheists believe that we were not created by “something”. Agnostics say we might have been created by “something”. So, I’d like ask atheists like Lyndi (poster above), when rational and scientific arguments shows that it is possible we live in a simulated reality, why then are you atheists and not agnostics?

  6. 12

    Excellent! Your response is so much better and more thoughtful than what I usually say which ends up being something along the lines of “Who else is going to do it?”

  7. 13

    “Methinks Ahmed ought to consider starting his own blog instead of hijacking someone else’s.”
    A blog with a public forum is grist for the public mill, is it not? Or should this just be a self-licking ice cream cone where everyone just agrees with Greta’s views?

  8. 15

    If Ahmed cannot leave a sensible and logically coherent comment, it can at least troll for attention with *shorter* comments.
    Oh and Greta: between PZed & you the Atheist Horde has gained another adherent -without me even sticking around in agnostism for more than a week 🙂

  9. 16

    If Hitler, or Stalin, or Pol Pot believed in a God and believed that they will be answerable for their actions, “maybe” they would not have killed the tens of millions that they collectively killed. Is this not a possibility?
    That you need to pad your list with a Catholic pretty much answers your question – no, it actually isn’t.
    In my opinion if any of those others had been religious in one way or another chances are they would have been worse.
    Stalin’s Russia for example at least made the motions of having religious freedom, it was in the Russian constitution after all.
    Without that secular ideology chances are every non-Russian Orthodox person in that country would have been killed.
    Evil people are evil without religion, make no mistake, but with religion a genocidal nutjob becomes a genocidal nutjob with a pre-prepared enemies list.
    Further with religion and religious thinking a person doesn’t really even need a reason to want you dead – thanks to the nature of supernaturalism.
    In South Africa we have a major problem with people getting killed for being witches. Tends to happen around the same time as Matric (Grade 12) results come out.
    This is because people believe in the spirits, believe that the misfortune they suffer is because someone cast a spell on them, and thus figure that if one girl in the village managed to pass it means her grandma is a witch.
    The nature of the God-botherer is that God always agrees with them on what they ought to do.
    You never get a God-botherer saying “Yeah, well, I think God is wrong about that” because the point to having gods in the first place is to validate your own opinions without having to provide evidence for them.
    With bad people this means that their idea of God perfectly agrees with the bad things they do.
    This is why in my experience the most crooked and downright evil people I have met were also the most religious. While I have met some truly rotten atheists, they have nothing, nothing on the rotten theists I have met.

  10. 17

    Ahmed: If we’re living in a virtual reality that is in fact exactly the same as an objective reality, then both of those assumptions are the same scientific theory. Trying to distinguish between them is pointless (because there is no observable difference), and both are equally effective at making predictions.
    If you want to discuss the matter meaningfully, you have to postulate a way that the two theories can be distinguished.
    I’m an atheist because I consider the non-existence of God proved beyond reasonable doubt. I don’t know for sure that a car crash would hurt, either, but it’s not something I assign a 50-50 probability to. It’s been demonstrated to me well enough that I’m willing to invest significant personal energy in the assumption.

  11. vel

    bravo for yet another great post.
    As for what people can do, write letters to the editor, start groups, do whatever you see other sucessful groups doing. I just got a LOE printed about National Prayer Day.
    Always amuses me when theists finally take refuge on solipsism.

  12. 19

    Wow, a pretty full on comments section!
    But I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you, Greta, for your brilliant, witty, razor-sharp & intelligently provocative writing. I also have Dawkins to thank for shifting my ass off the agnostic fence. However, living in Northern Ireland it is incredibly difficult to be openly atheist. But I take inspiration from you & I try in my own little way to spread a bit of rational thinking. I mean, if ever there was an example of the harm of religious belief it’s the futile conflict on this beautiful little island.

  13. 21

    The people I admire in history are not “activists”.

    Really, Jimmy? You don’t admire, say, Martin Luther King Jr.? The people who fought for women’s right to vote? The people who fought for child labor laws? The abolitionists? The Founding Fathers of the United States? You don’t admire people who saw wrong in the world, and took action to change it?

  14. 22

    Martin Luther King was a great man. One of the greatest in our history – his human flaws not withstanding. The other causes you cited were worthy causes oppossed by often brave people. Yes, I respect those people for sure. HOWEVER, here’s where the rub is:
    “You don’t admire people who saw wrong in the world, and took action to change it?”
    Define wrong? Adolf Hitler saw wrong in his world and took action to change it.
    Lenin saw wrong in his world and took action to change it.
    The founders of the Somali National Movement saw injustice and took action to change it.
    Pol Pot saw injustice and took action to change it.
    Mau Zedong saw injustice and took action to change it.
    If you cherry pick the movement and the outcome and then sure, it’s easy to say “activism is good”. The best example above is the Somali National Movement. Here is a movement which oppossed a patently evil leader in Mohammed Siad Barre and moved to achieve his ouster. Eventually, as other Somali movements joined the caused, they were able to achieve this quite just outcome. But the cure ended up being worse than the disease. When Siad Barre was gone, the situation devolved into brutal anarchy of the worst sort, from which the state has yet to recover.
    If you look in the US, the KKK are activists. They see a wrong they are trying to correct. The militia groups are activists. They see wrongs they are trying to correct. Anti-abortion murderers are activists. They see wrongs they are trying to correct. The “Animal Liberation Front” are activists. They see wrongs they are trying to correct. Sometimes defining “wrong” isn’t so easy. And other times the price for removing that wrong may be disprortionately high. There is an arrogance in most modern activists (I am not impunging you in this case – I do not know you) in which they have made up their mind what is right and wrong, and by doing so immediately disparage those with opinions at variance with theirs. If this remains simply within the borders of rude arguement I don’t have much quarrel with it. When activisim turns into Seattle and the WTO meetings, I take great umbrage with it.

  15. 23

    Jimmy, obviously I’m not advocating all forms of activism everywhere. That’s one of the most ridiculous straw men I’ve seen. We can make moral distinctions between different goals of different activist groups, and different methods of activism. Obviously.
    But what does any of that have to do with atheist activism in general? Or with my atheist writing in particular?
    If you’re going to critique atheist activism in general — or my atheist writing in particular — you can’t just reflexively say, “It’s bad to try to change people’s minds.” You have to make a case, either for why this particular goal is a bad one, or why this particular method is a bad one.
    And so far, you have utterly failed to do that. All you have done is repeat, over and over again, in multiple comments on multiple threads, that you think it’s bad to try to persuade people out of religion because people find religion comforting and get upset when confronted with atheist arguments against it. Several people have responded to this concept — and all you do is repeat your position again.
    You are becoming a comment hog — and comment hogs get banned from my blog. If you can’t come up with some new arguments, if all you can do is repeat the same ones again and again without moving the conversation forward — and if you keep making the same argument in multiple threads — I am going to ask you to leave. Thank you.

  16. 24

    “But what does any of that have to do with atheist activism in general? Or with my atheist writing in particular?”
    With the writing nothing.
    With Atheist activism I would only caution that since we all know our moral and legal foundations in the US are based upon the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rapid (as oppossed to gradual) destruction of that tradition might have unintended consequences.

  17. 25

    the rapid (as oppossed to gradual) destruction of that tradition might have unintended consequences.
    It worked well for my country, and the neighboring ones. (Scandinavia.)

  18. 26

    since our moral and legal foundations in the US are based upon the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rapid (as oppossed to gradual) destruction of that tradition might have unintended consequences.

    No, they’re not. That is a complete untruth. The legal foundations of the United States are based on principles developed in the Enlightenment. They have very little to do with Biblical or religious laws. And the places where there’s overlap — laws against killing and stealing, for instance — can hardly be chalked up to Judeo-Christian tradition: those are just common values held by all cultures.
    And as Maria points out — and as I have pointed out — countries with high rates of religious non-belief are actually higher functioning, by almost all metrics, than countries with high rates of religious belief. They have lower crime rates, better education, better health care, less government corruption, greater prosperity, less poverty, etc. This idea that persuading people out of religion will lead to instability and social chaos is flatly absurd, and not borne out by any evidence.
    Besides — people could have made that argument about any social change in history. “Society isn’t ready for integration! Society isn’t ready for women to vote! Society isn’t ready to end slavery!” How are we to make society ready for change, if not by advocating for it? And are atheists ourselves not part of society? Are we not entitled to be part of the conversation about religion? If you want to talk about the moral and legal foundations of this country, one of the greatest and most crucial is the idea that people should speak our minds and that important ideas should be aired and debated. Are you really objecting to that principle, because it might cause social unrest? Are you really arguing that, because atheists are a minority, we ought not to express views that the majority finds discomforting?

  19. 27

    You have not eliminated religious orientation in Scandanavia any more than in the US. It’s dynamic is different, but it remains.
    (and you can’t say I am hogging the blog when responding to your questions)
    “Are you really arguing that, because atheists are a minority, we ought not to express views that the majority finds discomforting?”
    No, what I am saying is that our social and legal structure is based around our judeo-christian tradition (and to say that is not true is just being foolish – the people who wrote the documents all eminated from that tradition). And if that were to rapidly disappear, it could have unintended negative consequences, as often happens with any radical restructuring of a society. You mentioned salvery. Good case in point. It was one of two primary issues that led directly to the deaths of one million Americans and political divisions that exist even to this day. I am not saying that abolitionists were wrong, or that there should not have been such a movement, but as that issue came to a head the blood letting to decide it was substantial.
    Societies are held together by various instritutions and values. And when you tinker with them rapidly, the results can often be extremely negative. I guess because I have lived in so many different places and seen first hand how these conflicts evolved in unpredictable ways, I am more sensitive to it than most.

  20. 28

    You have not eliminated religious orientation in Scandanavia any more than in the US. It’s dynamic is different, but it remains.
    Explain that closer, I don’t know what you are talking about!

  21. 29

    […]the people who wrote the [founding documents of the US] all eminated from [a Judeo-Christian] tradition

    Even assuming this is the case… So what? They all wore silly pants when they were writing those documents, too; does that mean silly pants are a fundamental part of our country’s basic principles?
    In order to show that Christianity is a part of the founding documents of the US, you have to actually look at those documents.
    And when I do that, I see a striking lack of religious elements in the actual law of the land, and several major passages (the first amendment, and the prohibition against religious tests) that specifically dissociate government from religion.
    The laws of the US are based on English common law, not on religion. The structure of the US government is based on Enlightenment principles, not on religion. The founding fathers of the US had various religious views, including deism and various forms of Christianity, but they specifically and explicitly avoided making religion a part of government, or vice versa.
    The US government is not in any way Judeo-Christian.

    And when you tinker with them rapidly…

    And how exactly can we tell how rapid is too rapid? At the moment, the only thing atheist activists are doing is talking. There are no violent atheist mobs, there is no major atheist political party, and there are very few federal level politicians who are (out) atheists.
    How could be be going any slower except by stopping?

  22. 30

    Okay, I think I see the problem. Jimmy, no one has claimed the complete elimination of religion in Scandinavia. Come on! I was born here, I am 40 years old, do you seriously think I would claim there’s no religion here at all?
    But there has been a complete change here from a society where religion was completely dominant to a society where it is very marginalized, in a – historically speaking – very short time. And it did not result in any of the negative things you claim such a fast turnabout will result in.
    But get real! Who would ever claim there’s been a complete elimination of religion in the Scandinavian countries. O_o

  23. 31

    Oh, and by the way. A very big change in a society does not require every single individual going through the exact same change. That would be like saying that the USA has not gone through a very big and drastic technological change the last hundred years because you still have the Amish!

  24. 32

    I have a few shorters to share.
    Shorter Jimmy #1: You know who else was an activist? Hitler. [You know who else breathed oxygen? Hitler. Better hold your breath Jimmy!]
    Shorter Jimmy #2: If I plug my ears and yell loudly I can ignore the Treaty of Tripoli.
    Shorter Jimmy #3: I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action… wait for a more convenient season
    Re: that last one, here’s the full quote: “The great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the outright bigot, but the moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises us to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  25. 33

    and you can’t say I am hogging the blog when responding to your questions

    Watch me.
    People, I’m calling it. Jimmy Crummins is a comment hog. He has successfully dominated multiple comment threads, for days. I am within a hair’s breadth of banning him from the blog. We’ve all been feeding him way too much — and that includes me. Let’s stop doing that, and move on.

  26. 34

    We’ve all been feeding him way too much — and that includes me. Let’s stop doing that, and move on.
    I agree and gladly moves on!

  27. 35

    Okay, in response to Gretas demand that I shut the fuck up, I am only going to respond to one thing here (though I really want to repsond to Themann so please note my email here):
    [email protected]
    “And it did not result in any of the negative things you claim such a fast turnabout will result in.”
    Maria, I said “can” result. I mentioned a possibility, not a surety (which doesn’t exist in predictive analysis). I have lived in some pretty tough places that weren’t always so tough. I have witnessed first hand what happens when the social and political fabric of a society come undone. So yes, I am sensitive to this dynamic and I am aware it can happen anywhere, if the conditions are set. Neither the US nor Europe are immune from brutal social breakdown of the kinds we see today in other parts of the world. A lot of people think they are, but they are not.
    When the US confronted our racial problems we made great strides very quickly. Here we sit today with a black president (whom I voted for). A remarkable achievement. BUT, let’s face it, like in our own revolution (most revolutions lead to massive blood letting – we just had a lot of blood letting) we got lucky. The ethnic and social tensions of the era could well have led to something far more serious than the inner city riots we experienced. When violence spirals out of control, it’s very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. That’s all I am saying here.

  28. 36

    Wow, Jimmy actually said the exact type of thing the quote I posted was criticizing. That is fucking hilarious.
    If I had a vote, I’d let Jimmy keep spewing his bullshit. It’s entertaining and hilarious!
    Don’t email me though, I don’t do email conversations.

  29. 39

    Posted by: Jimmy Crummins | May 08, 2010 at 04:42 AM
    Somalia is a shithole to a large part because it is highly religious. The militias that run around banning school bells do it out of their religious fervor.
    Now I recognise your attempt there was born of your lack of a spine or an argument, after all, threatening people is what cowardly little shits do, but try not to bring up examples that can be used against your basic argument.

  30. 40

    Just because you’re a coward doesn’t mean I am.
    “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly… For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” … This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.””
    “In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the [religious] moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a [religious] brother in Texas. He writes: “All [liberal] Christians know that the [atheists] will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry…” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” [A few words changed to make my point]

  31. 41

    People, just a gentle reminder: Please stop feeding this troll. I know it’s tempting, I succumbed to the temptation myself for far too long… but Jimmy Crummins has dominated the conversation in this blog for far too long, and it is clearly going nowhere. Please stop feeding him. Thanks.

  32. 42

    People, just a gentle reminder: Please stop feeding this troll. I know it’s tempting
    Myself, I’m using this as a good opportunity to work on my silly compulsion to get the last word in exchanges like this. As well as practicing ignoring obvious baitings into carry on meaningless “discussions”.
    It’s been going rather well actually. 🙂

  33. 43

    Heh sorry, I’ll stop now. I was having a little too much fun 🙂
    Maria, I have a similar problem. Mine though is to stop replying when people are still replying to me. This’ll be good practice I suppose!

  34. 44

    “Somalia is a shithole to a large part because it is highly religious. The militias that run around banning school bells do it out of their religious fervor.”
    Certainly Al-Shibab, and Al Itihad Al Islamiya who came before it, aren’t doing anything to make the place happier. But Somalia is a shithole because there was no consensus on how the country was going to be governed (and more importantly who was going to govern it) when Siad Barre and the MOD were removed.
    I AM NOT making an arguement here that religion creates stability. Just that when the status quo is stable and you want to move it, you should do so gently, because the consequences of massive social and political movement can not always be forseen and can be catastrophic.
    OK, Greta, that was just one, short post.

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