Atheism Minus

It has become all the vogue in the atheist coffee klatsch. Atheism+ is where you should be if you’re a decent, upstanding non-believer, and let’s all leave those despicable, raping, slandering, bothersome atheists out in the cold with their weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

I’ve tried to understand what this new and saintly atheist movement might be about and I’m afraid I’ve come out of it underwhelmed. As I scan through Greta Christina’s post on the subject, I easily dismiss her points with simple responses in my mind. Linking from there to Jen McCreight’s blog, I find that the basis for the new “movement” apparently stems from fear of women that the evil atheist world is too violent for them to visit. So they want to create a safe haven where female atheists and their male supporters can rise above all the perfidy of the zombies at street level. The bad examples of atheism become dead to them.

Looking at the list of violators, we start with the 15-year-old girl on Reddit Atheism who posted a picture of herself proudly holding a Carl Sagan book who was then threatened with rape and death by the hordes of prepubescent troglodytes who sneaked onto their mom’s computer and reveled in the anonymity of the internet to spew their infantile jests and threats. Excuse me, ladies, but I find this to be a less than credible threat. Perhaps when their balls drop, these be-pimpled video game rejects will eventually learn to play with others but this is hardly an example of what happens to women in the atheist community. As long as these mini-perverts stay on Reddit, the world is safe.

The next example is a small bit regarding Rebecca Watson telling guys to not approach her in an elevator when they’re drunk, which then became the scandal of the atheist world. Well, sometimes it’s difficult to be a part of this sordid species that sometimes has to have their mind altered before they get up enough courage to proposition a woman, but there it is – certainly not a tempest in a teapot, but more like a drip of water on a hot stove.

I understand that there is a form of female response to unwanted male control called feminism. What I do not understand is why that should be the basis of founding a new movement within (or without) atheism. It is perfectly acceptable to not believe in gods and at the same time belong to the feminist movement.

I also understand that to give this movement more solidity there are other causes brought in to be embraced, such as the LGBT acceptance and defense. You know what? I don’t give a holy whoop in hell for the LGBT movement, any more than I’m interested in the Black experience because they are and were oppressed. I stand for any underdog and any woman and any tyranny against the mind of man (colloquial and inclusive!) and always have and always will, but I certainly do not need a safe place away from the atheist general community to hold those positions. 

Like Noel Plum, I care little whether some atheists want a safe haven or a metaphorical gated community to be free from their oppressors. But it should not become a line drawn in the sand in a playground where you rush to join your friends’ team. We are too few in numbers in this part of the world to be breaking off into sects. The very idea that we need to be divisive to be united into a purist version of an already amorphous movement is yet another silly venture into the world of the Brights. “Gentlemen,” said Ben Franklin, ” we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” 

As our numbers grow we are bound to see many bright ideas about how we should be aligning with one cause or another, or how we should adopt one or another stance. With luck, most of these brain farts will end on the dustbin of history before they have a chance to nip at our ankles. Once again I must bring out this quote:

“If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed.
It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross,
but it’s not for the timid.”       – Q (Star Trek, the Next Generation)

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About herkblog

I'm an atheist. Although that's just a part of my life, I consider it to be important enough to me to be the main theme of this personal screed. I am self-employed in a service business and I live in Idaho, a place not known for its liberal qualities.
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6 Responses to Atheism Minus

  1. With luck, most of these brain farts will end on the dustbin of history […]

    Well, good thing A+ atheist membership isn’t mandatory. If you don’t see a problem, and most dudes don’t, that’s fine. People who care about progressive views on human rights, egalitarianism and feminism as well as atheism will be under the A+ moniker. This does not affect you.

    What I do not understand is why that should be the basis of founding a new movement within (or without) atheism.

    So, don’t worry about it then things are fine.

    • herkblog says:

      It seems that you missed the point of the blog entry. It is my considered opinion that progressive views among atheists do not depend upon forming a new version of atheism. The old version is doing fine, in a more inclusive way than the new version intends.

      • It is my considered opinion that progressive views among atheists do not depend upon forming a new version of atheism.

        Yet a segment of atheists have deemed that a new version of atheism is necessary for them because the old one doesn’t work for them.

        The old version is doing fine,

        Others would, and do disagree that assessment. Making a new category of Atheism does not affect you in any way and,in your considered opinion, if things are fine, then simply ignore the deluded A+’s, keep calm and carry on. Problem solved. 🙂

  2. “most of these brain farts will end on the dustbin of history before they have a chance to nip at our ankles”
    First I just gotta say, excellent triple metaphor there.

    I followed elevatorgate with much interest and I think the community gained from the discussion. Then yesterday, I saw post in one of the computer blogs I read about young men licking tattoos and grabbing crotches and vendors handing out photos of strippers at hacker conventions. Granted, hackers are a rougher bunch, and are still pimply gamers, but this was over the top. I felt a lot better about the atheist community.

    However, I don’t want to adopt the “at least we aren’t that bad” attitude. I think the correct approach is that these are NOT behaviors specific to the atheist community, and they don’t need to be dealt with in some “atheist” manner. The behaviors are wrong. Treat them as such. Confront them. Don’t hide from them. Simply saying something in a loud enough voice so people around you hear it is a deterent. People get kicked out of bars for doing these things, kick them out of our conventions and meetings. Any group that has dues or a budget should have a harrassment policy. Lots of groups do this stuff, it’s not that hard.

    • herkblog says:

      I agree, Lausten. Bad behavior is something I would not expect to be tolerated. If I were behaving badly I’d expect to be tossed out and if it were habitual I’d expect to be banned completely. My impression of elevatorgate was that somebody was drunk and hit on a woman. Unless he was forceful or threatening it’s not exactly unusual. It was in bad form, but being drunk is not conducive to good behavior. I think that all of us experience such things and we don’t start a tempest in a teapot over it. We get on with our lives. But once the tale hit the feminista bloggers it became immediately necessary to install rules of conduct that would prevent any other woman from being so sullied.

      • I know this has all been done before, but I am compelled to leave at least one comment each time elevatorgate comes up. Rebecca only said, “guys don’t do that”, and offered some advice to geeky guys who want to get laid. IMHO, it was Dawkins’ who over reacted and raised it to tempest level. Rebecca could have stopped the escalation at that point but I give her a pass on that one. Dawkins has a higher status and he is an older white male. He could have used the teachable moment.

        What’s sad is, both of them gave great speeches about how to organize the movement when they were together on a panel the day before the elevator event. Discussion of those talks has been lost in the hoopla. Dawkins gave a great talk on being conciliatory with the theist community and the proper use of sarcasm. He could have used his own advice when dealing with Rebecca.

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