Aug 19 2012

Heroes that actually deserve the name

There are relatively few people in this world today who impress me enough for me to call them heroes. But they exist. Belatedly, imperfectly, incompletely, I would like to thank them for inspiring me and encouraging me to expect more and better things.

Here, in no particular order, are some of them. Please help me fill in the names I will inevitably overlook.

That list is far too short, I know. I think I could include most or all of the FreeThought Bloggers (which is truly awesome in the most literal sense of the word), and probably a lot more outside my immediate circle. I do tend to get wrapped up in work and family and other mundane issues, and I frankly miss a lot of what’s going on in the online community. The above names are just some of the people who have struck me most recently and/or most enduringly for their courage and tenacity under incredible hostility.

My apologies to all those whose names belong on the list and aren’t there. I hope to see some of them in the comments (though I’ll probably slap myself when I see them and think, “Oh, duh, how could I miss THAT one!?”).



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  1. 1

    ‘Genie Scott is more than worthy of a nod.

    1. 1.1

      She was the first one who came to my mind too. Eugenie Scott rocks!

  2. 2

    Jessica Ahlquist comes to mind

  3. 3
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Too short? All such lists end up being too short in some way. The cool thing is that you can extend lists. Definitely heroes, though this isn’t a word I use a lot. The are good at what they do, they do good, and they bust their asses to do it. Hurrah!

  4. 4
    Sheila Crosby

    I nominate Opheilia too.

    I agree, they’re all awesome, and I’m very grateful to them.

  5. 5

    The Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei: to épater le bourgeois- especially, the contemporary bourgeoisie- doesn’t risk much; to take on the Chinese Communist Party is heroism.
    Also Pussy Riot- attacking a post-communist dictator and a totalitarian religion- what’s not to admire about them?

  6. 6

    Jessica Ahlquist

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    Third the motion for Jessica Ahlquist.

    Also, Krystal Myers, Damon Fowler, Zack Kopplin, and Sandra Fluke.

    1. 7.1

      Yes! The folks “in the trenches”. I tend to favour those who don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk by directly taking on the cracks in the secular system, like:

      Justin Griffith
      Steven Hewett
      EllenBeth Wachs
      John Kieffer
      Mikey Weinstein
      Jeff Sharlet

      And even a few theists who fight for separation of church and state, like:
      James Dunn
      Rev. Barry W. Lynn

  8. 8

    I nominate Peter Tatchell. Over the years every time I think he’s gone just a little too far (mostly his language or tactics, but shamefully sometimes his ideas), I later realised he was 100% right.

    Not only that, in any number of ways, he’s been willing to suffer the personal cost to make the world a better place for others.

  9. 9

    Eerrmm, from one of the sidebars, a few more heroes, thanks for noticing:

  10. 10
    Peter N

    It’s probably no coincidence that a number of my heroes wound up writing on Freethought Blogs — PZ, JT Eberhard, Matt Dillahunty, Greta Christina. And Jessica Ahlquist, absolutely!

    But Jen McCreight is at the top of my hero list, at least for this week!

  11. 11

    Heroes who actually deserve the name and impress me?
    For me, here in the UK, it has to be disability campaigner
    Sue Marsh
    and the
    Spartacus Report
    The able-bodied have the privilege to be able to choose what they campaign about; which, for me, somewhat mitigates their heroism.

  12. 12
    Christoph Burschka

    It’s probably no coincidence that a number of my heroes wound up writing on Freethought Blogs — PZ, JT Eberhard, Matt Dillahunty, Greta Christina. And Jessica Ahlquist, absolutely!

    I read that wrong for a second and was thinking Jessica Ahlquist might have started writing on FTB. Oh well, one can still hope.

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