When I use a dictionary, it means exactly what I choose it to mean

Apparently dictionary atheism means that, if you’re an atheist, you should just shut up about abuses committed against atheists, because atheism is exclusively about “not believing in gods.” The words “decency” and “respect” don’t appear anywhere in the dictionary definition, and therefore atheism is not about atheists treating each other decently and respectfully. As an atheist, you’re allowed to say that you don’t believe in gods, and that’s it.

Unless, of course, you want to complain about the people who are speaking up about abuses against atheists. Then it’s a different story. Complaining about other atheists is perfectly acceptable, regardless of what the dictionary definition of atheism is, as long as the atheists you’re complaining about are reporting genuine problems. Somehow, magically, the dictionary definition of atheism only rules out legitimate complaints of abuse. It can do that, somehow.

And we think that believers are the ones who get their authority from magical books.

God’s justice: Giving the ACLU exactly what they want

There’s an amusing story on BizPac Review entitled “God’s justice: Jesus painting gets sweet neon revenge on ACLU.” The “revenge” in this case, consists of removing an overtly religious painting from a public school, and putting it on private property—just where the ACLU says it belongs.

An Ohio couple who got angry when their neighboring high school was forced last year to remove a religious painting that had hung for more four decades decided to take matters into their own hands.

The couple acquired the painting, which depicts Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” in a field with lambs and the first words of the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my Shepherd”) and placed it in a highly visible position in a yard that can be seen from the school.

Ah, sweet revenge. God should take equal revenge on all the Ten Commandments monuments and nativity scenes believers are trying to force onto the government. That’ll show the old ACLU!

Truth-seekers and god-slayers

PZ Myers is annoyed by the fact that, when it comes core, fundamental, human values, many atheists are as bad as believers, if not outright worse. In the eyes of some, “atheism” means only “lack of god-belief,” which means atheism cannot imply anything more than that, which means that atheism implies some kind of amoral anarchy, above and beyond mere unbelief. So which is it? Does atheism imply nothing more than absence of belief, or does it imply that “they’re right and you’re wrong?” You can’t have it both ways.

In truth, atheism absolutely does have implications beyond mere absence of belief in supernatural father figures. A world without gods to take responsibility for everything is a world where we ourselves are responsible. Atheism implies that we have work to do, morally, socially, and scientifically. And maybe that’s the reason why some unbelievers would rather not acknowledge anything more than just the absence of gods. But I suspect it goes deeper than that. I think what we’re seeing today is the emergence of two broadly-defined tribes within atheism, two different types of atheists, whom I designate as truth-seekers and god-slayers.

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This is more than just harassment (trigger warning: rape)

Rarely have I read any article that so enrages me as this:

From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity. From their emotion-fueled view you don’t have readers you have cult followers. That just can’t be allowed.

You must be stopped. And if they cannot stop you, they can at least ruin your quality of life. A standard goal, in troll culture, I soon learned, is to cause “personal ruin”. They aren’t all trolls, though. Some of those who seek to stop and/or ruin you are misguided/misinformed but well-intended. They actually believe in a cause, and they believe you (or rather the Koolaid you’re serving) threatens that cause.

I am angry at the injustice being suffered by this woman and by others like her. Read it all. It’s words we need to hear. We are failing, and failing badly.

But I think the writer got one thing wrong. She believes that this behavior is motivated by some kind of jealousy over how much attention women get online, and believes that the goal is to silence women. I don’t think that’s it at all. Oh this might be true for some of the trolls, but those guys are a mere nuisance, and their behavior cannot account for the kind of abuse inflicted on Kathy Sierra and others like her. The real problem here is a much smaller group of “trolls” whose goal is to get away with the virtual, online equivalent of rape. These are not geeks defending some kind of boys-only turf. These are perverts acting out rape fantasies with real victims and real harm. Women who make significant contributions are targets, not because the trolls resent the attention they get, but because the online rapist gets a bigger kick out of attacking an influential and well-known woman than attacking a more anonymous female. The goal is not to defend anything. It’s to attack and destroy the woman. For “kicks.”

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That’s a hell of an argument

The Christian News Network has caught Bill Nye the Science Guy deliberately and even flagrantly indulging in reasonable thought and rejecting pious fallacies.

In the latest issue of a widely-circulated science magazine, Bill Nye ‘the Science Guy’ defiantly defends his evolutionary beliefs and says that even if he ends up ‘going to Hell,’ it still won’t prove that the earth is young.

Imagine that. You know what else would not be proved if Bill Nye was condemned to Hell by a vengeful God? Lots of things: that the earth was flat, that the sun orbits around the moon, that Jesus was a marmot with an addiction to penny loafers, lots of things. You can threaten people with horrible suffering and/or death unless they believe what you tell them, but that has nothing at all to do with whether or not the things you say are true.

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Too awesome not to share: the Proud Whopper

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/burger-king-sells-gay-pride-whopper-san-francisco-article-1.1852048

Burger King is celebrating gay pride with a message on its Whopper wrappers.

The fast-food chain has posted a video online Wednesday that shows scenes from a San Francisco location where it sold a “Proud Whopper.” Customers were not told what is in the burger, which comes wrapped in rainbow paper. Once opened up, a message inside the wrapper states, “We are all the same inside.”

The idea is that the Proud Whopper is no different from the regular Whopper, despite its colorful packaging.

I’m going to paste that into my dictionary as the new definition of “brilliant.”

Jesus disrupts Operation American Spring

BREAKING NEWS WASHINGTON, DC Tens of millions of American patriots advanced on the nation’s capital today with the goal of overthrowing the current regime and installing an overtly Christian conservative government, by force if necessary. The intended overthrow was disrupted, however, when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared in the skies over Washington and Raptured away all but a few of the protesters, in accordance with the prophecies of I Thessalonians 4:15-17, before any TV news crews could capture the awesome spectacle. The remaining protesters, apparently insufficiently pleasing to God, have vowed to dedicate themselves to becoming even more irrational and intolerant, in hopes of weaning their way back into God’s good graces.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

(I mean, that HAS to be it, right?)

Where the facts really stand

My two posts on Brendan Eich have attracted a commenter who wants us all to know he thinks homosexuality is a form of mental illness, and that therefore it is “tough love” to discriminate against them and deny their right to get married. He and I have been having a long back-and-forth discussion, in the most recent of which he said supporters of gay rights are guilty of “mental gymnastics” and “misrepresenting facts.” I have summarized my understanding of the relevant facts in my reply to him, but after thinking it over I’ve decided to promote it to a blog post as well. I’ll be interested in hearing your comments.

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Subverting the democratic process

Via Ed Brayton, we get this argument from Jim Burroway at the Box Turtle Bulletin.

[A]t a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act so that companies can’t just up and fire LGBT employees because they don’t agree with them — as they can now in about two-thirds of our states — we need to think very long and hard about whether we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election.

Ed thinks it’s a very persuasive argument, so let me make the counter-argument and see if I can be equally persuasive.

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The rise and fall of the nerd Eich

Perhaps you’ve used the Firefox web browser. If you’re an old nerd like me, you might remember the Netscape web browser, whose source code formed the basis of the Mozilla code that lies behind Firefox. If you’re really hard-core, you might know the name of the man who wrote the original JavaScript language, without which things like ad revenues and blog networks like FtB might not exist.

Brendan Eich was that man, and for a very brief number of days he was the CEO of Mozilla—until word leaked out about his tangible support for Proposition 8 and for discrimination against gays. The uproar was immediate and impossible to ignore. Other board members resigned rather than work with/for him. OkCupid put up a notice, visible specifically to FireFox users, naming and shaming Eich for his anti-gay efforts and urging users to switch to a different browser. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere erupted with calls for his resignation and for boycotts. Eich resigned after only 10 days in office.

The aftermath has even some liberals frowning. True, it’s a sign of the times that bigots can no longer act with impunity when trying to promote discrimination against gays. That’s a positive step and a sign of the long overdue decline in society’s willingness to condone bullying and harassment. But has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction? Have gay rights activists stepped over a line, and become guilty of “witch hunts” themselves? Is it anyone else’s business what Eich’s personal beliefs are and how they relate to his job, if he himself is careful to maintain a professional separation between the two?

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