Ray vs Ra »« Light the Night

What I think about Atheism +

Over the last week or so, several people have asked me to comment on Atheism(+).  I don’t always know if they’re trying to find out what it is, or if they just want to know how I feel about it.  Today someone sent me a message which made that very clear.  He(?) described himself as a rational skeptic and a liberal progressive who supports policies to minimize abusive behavior in conventions and so on, just like me.  He also expressed some concerns which I had [until recently] myself:

“My core goal, the pure reason I identify as an atheist, is promotion of critical thinking skills. The atheist movement has been a home for that and so I have moved in with delight. Relentless demand for the most accurate position possible on important topics drives me. The fact that critical thinking skills are so rare in our society makes me vocal.
Given my primary motivation I am quite concerned with the goals of atheism+. I understand that in any larger group there will be subsets created. I do not see their intent as being something similar to humanism, which is just that, a subset. I see them as being a hostile take over. Progressiveness (I am a progressive) re-branding the umbrella goals of our movement and removing those that disagree.”

Now I’m not the guy to ask about this.  I don’t give it much thought.  Several advocates of A+ have assured me that I don’t have to.  I don’t have to adopt the label or change my stationary.  I don’t have to do anything different than I have done since as long as I’ve been involved in this movement.  So I haven’t really looked into Atheism+ very deeply, and I’m not even sure I get it myself.  But based on the few brief queries I’ve had with some of the A+ proponents here at FtB, here is what I think it is:

Atheism(+) is NOT any ‘take-over’ of the atheist umbrella, nor is it an attempt to redefine what atheism means. Nor could it succeed in that even if that ever was the intent.  It really is just a subset of atheists.  In fact, it is subset of a subset, representing only a portion of the atheists who are also activists. It is the difference between atheism, (being unconvinced that any genuine deity actually exists) and a social movement within that group, who wish to associate that perspective with positive moral values -as identified, defined, and by atheists.  I think we do a better job of that than religious proponents ever have.

Most atheists are apathetic, not activists at all.  In fact most atheists don’t even know they are atheist, or won’t accept or admit that they are.  Most atheists call themselves agnostics, because they think that ‘atheist’ means someone who doesn’t believe in anything, or who is determined to reject any possible aspect of metaphysics, someone who ‘knows’ there is no god.  Of those atheists who figured out what the label really means, and how it applies to them, and who have stopped making excuses to get out of a shoe that fits, not all of them are skeptical critical thinkers.  There are vast numbers of non-theists who still believe in supernatural spiritual healing, chiropractic homeopathic herbal acupuncture, transcendental psionic projection, alien reptilian government conspiracies, and the Loch Ness sasquatch from Area 54 of the Bermuda Triangle. Yes there are atheists who are afraid of vaccinations, genetically-modified foods, bad karma, and fluoride toothpaste.

Of those who are analytical empirical rationalists, not all of them are activists.  Very few are.  Being embroiled in controversy is a hard job, and it is particularly tough on people who don’t want to risk losing their families or careers.  Of those who are unabashedly motivated political protesters, many are focused only on secularism, maintaining church-state separation to the exclusion of every other atheist interest.  Others only actively advocate education, sometimes only in science, or in social studies, or public health issues exclusively. It’s rare to see anyone standing up for all of these things at once.  However nearly all of those who do also oppose prejudice on the grounds of income, ethnicity, nationalism, and sexual orientation, and most of them promote egalitarian attitudes toward women as well.

Here is where I think a potential problem is perceived: The initial unveiling of this idea was badly phrased and poorly interpreted, but that’s not the only factor.  Apart from that, until now all the big names in the “atheism movement” have been those promoting the philosophy of science, skepticism, and secular humanism, along with those who have swallowed so much scripture as to induce regurgitation.  We haven’t had a branch of atheists specifically committed to the issues social justice, and that’s essentially what I think Atheism+ is.  It’s like a new civil rights movement, but one completely stripped of religion.  Then add atheist family values, which are more genuine than those of religion, in that ours exclude child abuse, misogyny, and sexual repression, and include non-conformists and non-traditional families.  As such Atheism+ need be no more divisive than having a national atheist [political] party.  I’m fairly certain everyone in the NAP is an atheist, but not all atheists belong to that party, nor will they ever have to.  Atheism+ is essentially no different than progressive atheism, but we’re not going to revoke Penn & Teller’s A-pins just because they’re libertarians who like sexually explicit women.  We’re not gonna boot Bill Maher out until he gets a flu shot, and we won’t disown Ayn Rand for being elitist either.  As for Stalin, he doesn’t fit in any of the subsets previously discussed, and belongs in a whole ‘nuther category, far away from everyone I’ve so far mentioned here.

If you really doubt whether any telepathic djinn is magically manipulating every aspect of reality, then you’re an atheist.  If on top of that, you find yourself openly opposing oppression by the religious right, then you’re an activist as well.  And regardless whether you endorse science or secularism, if you find that you also embrace equality for humanity regardless of ancestry, attraction, or gender, then you’re atheist plus.  At least that’s what I think anyway.

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t think that’s a good analogy as quite a few atheists do have a problem with the existence of an atheist political party because it’s contrary to the goal of a secular government. Such criticisms don’t apply to social movements.

  2. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Atheism+ is essentially no different than progressive atheism, but we’re not gonna kick Penn & Teller out of our club because they’re libertarians who like sexually explicit women. We’re not gonna boot Bill Maher until he gets a flu shot, and we won’t disown Ayn Rand for being elitist either. As for Stalin, he doesn’t fit in any of the subsets previously discussed, and belongs in a whole ‘nuther category, far away from everyone I’ve so far mentioned here.

    I would amend that to say nobody in A+ has the power to kick anyone out.
    One of the things missed by a lot of people opposed to A+ is not understanding that joining is 100% the choice of each individual. You can’t be forced. It’s opt-in and there’s no membership fees or dues or rules (yes, no rules, despite so many people thinking that wanting to pursue social justice issues is some sort of dogma). If someone joins and changes their mind, they can simply not participate.
    The other issue so many others have is this strange idea that if you *don’t* join, people are going to label you a misogynist scumbag*. That just makes no sense. It’s like saying if you don’t want to join the American Humanists Association, you stand against their values. Just because someone doesn’t want to join a particular organization does not make them a bad person. The actions that an individual takes determine whether they are a bad person.

    *Yes, some people that don’t join _are_ misogynist scum.
    Some people who don’t join are are wonderful people.
    It’s so simple.

    • says

      You can be kicked out of the atheismpus subreddit. It’s not a place where debate is welcome at all, and to me that is a huge issue. I believe that it’s a decent idea but so completely couched in feminist ideology that it has stopped being a skeptical movement and has become very much an insular community.

      • sthek says

        You’re right. There are some things that we don’t want to debate anymore. The same way that as atheists, we don’t really want to debate which god is the right god anymore. Those who identify with atheism+ also happen to agree on those “feminist ideals” along with a bunch of other social justice issues, and we are tired of debating that. It’s not up for debate for us anymore just like gravity is not up for debate anymore for most of us. That is the whole freaking point. I’m not sure why you would want to be there if you don’t agree with the very premise of the group in the first place. I really don’t understand why that’s a problem. You be an atheist your way and let us be atheists our way, and we’ll have some things in common and not other things. We don’t have to agree on everything, and not everything has to be up for debate all the time, everywhere.

        • says

          What Aron says here really does not correspond what narrow-mindedness I have observed (note: observed, i have not posted there) over of the atheism+ forums.

          Anyone arguing from an alternative standpoint is immediately relegated to the sinistar sounding ‘education forum’, presumably to stay there until such time as they have ‘learnt’ why they are wrong at which time they can then take part in the debate (though by that time there is nothing left to debate, just pissing contests on who is the biggest victim http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=740 and endless rounds of back-slapping).
          The point is, if being ‘on message’ just required a commitment to equality of opportunity for all regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity etc then I could understand it.
          But no: even if you accept that discrimination occurs; accept that society is patriarchal; accept that largely women get the shitty end of the deal – unless you wholesale subscribe to patriarchy theory by which all inequalities are deemed to be resultant from living in a patriarchy then you aren’t ‘on message’ enough and it is back to the ‘education forum’ for you to be ‘re-educated’ and remove any traces of conflicting opinion.

          The atheism+ people Like Aron Ra and Matt Dillahunty are talking about and what is going on over in the forums are like two seperate universes. I would like to see these two present their own views under anonymous accounts over there and see the **wonderfully positive** response that they will surely get (I have already seen matt Dillihunty getting chastised because he dares to use the term ‘sexism’ to apply to prejudice from either sex rather than adopting the mantra that women simply cannot be sexist whatever they do or say). It is really sad to say this but you would get more openness in a creationism forum, at least they bother trying to bring people on board, A+ has to be the world’s first ever movement that ‘rolls their eyes’ whenever anyone approaches who doesn’t agree with them to the nth degree!

          • says

            How about this one:

            Because when I articulate my personal experiences with inequality, I am accused of playing victim.

            Yeah – that’s what you appear to be doing there.

            Let me explain.

            There are two main schools and they both have benefits:

            One is to essentially ignore or even deny inequity and victim-hood. You downplay your underprivileged group status, you try not to worry about it so much, you accept that life isn’t always fair and avoid complaining, etc.

            The other is to work to reveal instead of essentially ignore. You acknowledge your underprivileged group status and you confront the norms that perpetuate inequity.

            Of course, the extremes are unreasonable and everyone who is part of an underprivileged group finds their balance and chooses their battles – sometimes that’s “not making any waves” or even actively supporting toxic norms to gain social acceptance and sometimes that’s being “turned up to 11″ or even seeking out the problems you work against to the point where you run the risk of perpetuating them.

            The privileged classes however, who don’t live day-to-day with trying to find that balance – will inevitably, at least in the knee-jerk reaction stage, highly favor that others find a balance that tends more toward ignoring it, not confronting it, etc. They are generally more comfortable around someone who doesn’t make a big deal out of it – because it is more comfortable for them.

            It’s actually a huge relief for many people to be able to express themselves in a space where the hordes of people telling them to “shut up about it” and accuse them of imagining it or “playing” the victim aren’t there to provide the constant din of dismissiveness that they have to deal with ALL THE TIME.

            ***

            Also, using the term “sexism” and “sex discrimination” interchangeably instead of using “sexism” only to refer to cultural or institutional sexism is just a jargon thing. It would be similar to me explaining that “work” means something completely different than “effort” when you are discussing physics. Social sciences (within fields and within schools within fields) actually have jargon y’know.

            I have no idea who “chastised” Matt about his use of the term “sexism”, but the connotations of the word “chastise” are sort of interesting. What constitutes “correction” and what constitutes “chastise” – how are you deciding that Matt was “chastised” instead of just “provided an explanation” for how the term “sexism” is used by the person speaking?

          • says

            Anyone arguing from an alternative standpoint is immediately relegated to the sinistar sounding ‘education forum’, presumably to stay there until such time as they have ‘learnt’ why they are wrong at which time they can then take part in the debate (though by that time there is nothing left to debate, just pissing contests on who is the biggest victim http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=740 and endless rounds of back-slapping).

            It’s “sinister-sounding” to have a special forum for entry level questions on a subject most people know next to nothing about (which isn’t their fault; our society doesn’t exactly do a great job educating them), to avoid constant derailing of threads? Also, the thread you linked appears to be a venting thread, not a “pissing contest”.

            unless you wholesale subscribe to patriarchy theory by which all inequalities are deemed to be resultant from living in a patriarchy then you aren’t ‘on message’ enough and it is back to the ‘education forum’ for you to be ‘re-educated’ and remove any traces of conflicting opinion.

            Strawman is in bold. Not all inequalities can be attributed to patriarchy, that much is obvious, and no feminist I’ve ever met says that. Patriarchy as we experience it explains inequalities specifically related to gender roles and sexuality. Granted I’m a relative newbie but I’ve yet to hear that patriarchy can explain every inequality.

            (I have already seen matt Dillihunty getting chastised because he dares to use the term ‘sexism’ to apply to prejudice from either sex rather than adopting the mantra that women simply cannot be sexist whatever they do or say).

            [citation needed]

            No, seriously, I’ve -never- seen any feminist claim that sexism is intrinsically and exclusively misogyny. A negative reaction is likely due to the probability of a false equivalence being presented as a derailing attempt (this usually takes the form, “women are just as bad, so STFU about men”). Misplaced in this context to be sure, but one can understand where they’re coming from.

          • TByte says

            M. A. Melby:
            No group works harder to perpetuate the idea that women are helpless victims incapable of taking responsibility for their own lives than Feminists.
            As long as Feminists continue to promote lies such as the “One In Four” campaign and the “77 Cents On The Dollar” campaign well, no, we aren’t going to take their claims of victimhood seriously.

          • says

            Tbyte.

            Why are you fishing for fights on the internet by saying over-generalized insulting things that don’t actually address in any meaningful way what the person you are addressing just said while using “we” to refer to yourself?

            What motivates that?

          • TByte says

            I was motivated by this quote of yours:
            “Because when I articulate my personal experiences with inequality, I am accused of playing victim.”
            Now how about addressing the issue rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks?

        • TByte says

          sthek, can you understand why many people who take offense at being publicly labeled misogynistic C.H.U.M. douchebags for not accepting a gender-biased discriminatory and hypocritical philosophy such as Feminism?
          Those of us who truly do want to promote equality between the sexes want nothing to do with Atheism+. Its about as socially progressive as the Clear Skies Initiative or the No Child Left Behind act.

          • says

            sthek, can you understand why many people who take offense at being publicly labeled misogynistic C.H.U.M. douchebags for not accepting a gender-biased discriminatory and hypocritical philosophy such as Feminism?

            Can you elaborate on why you believe feminism is “hypocritical”?

            Also, is the claim of gender-bias based on feminism’s observation of the fact that women tend to get the short end of the stick in our decidedly patriarchal society (which, by the way, does also hurt men, thought not to nearly the same extent)?

            Those of us who truly do want to promote equality between the sexes want nothing to do with Atheism+. Its about as socially progressive as the Clear Skies Initiative or the No Child Left Behind act.

            What exactly is comparable between feminism, which seeks proper equality between sexes and elimination of all forms of gender-based privilege, and NCLB, which is analogous to testing a person on writing, and then cutting off their writing hand for failure?

            If feminism is a poor vehicle for gender equality, what is your preferred progressive alternative? I’ll be nice and assume it’s not the Men’s Rights Movement, despite your claims being wholly consistent with that regressive lot.

          • sthek says

            I’m totally ok with the fact that you want nothing to do with Atheism+. I would be ok with it if you agreed with the goals of Atheism+ and I’m particularly ok with it when you obviously don’t. In fact, I feel pretty safe in saying that the entire Atheism+ group is ok with it. You are the reason we need Atheism+ in the first place. Feel free to ignore the entire subject. Or not. Won’t make any difference to us.

          • TByte says

            Shockna:
            Because it claims to be a movement for gender-equality, when it it not. It is simply a women’s advocacy movement, and that is all it has ever been. As such, I would support its early goals when a true disparity in gender opportunities did exist, but now Feminism exists mainly to preverve women’s privilege in western societies and to deny the fact that men too have always endured gender-based discrimination, and it is stronger and more institutionalized now then ever before.
            Feminism does NOT seek equality between the sexes. That’s just a lie. If it were true, then feminist groups would be seeking to level the playing field in our family courts, rather than fighting efforts to establish a presumption of equal shared parenting.
            So no, women do not get the short end of the stick in modern western society. They make up the majority of the electorate, have virtually unquestioned authority in our family courts, receive favorable treatment in our criminal courts, make every bit as much money as men for the work they do, get additional educational incentives not available to men, enjoy having our grade-school curriculum and methodologies engineered for their benefit, receive a disproportionate share of health care spending, get free health care services under the new laws that aren’t available for men….the list could go on.
            Oh wait…I’m “derailing” the conversation by pointing these things out, aren’t I?
            I support the current goals of the MRA movement, which are every bit as valid as those of the early Feminist movement. But I prefer to label my philosophy as “Equalist”, and based on rational evidence based policy that promotes equal opportunities for all.

          • TByte says

            sthek:
            So, the reason you need Atheism+ in the first place is to oppose people like me who favor gender equality?

          • sthek says

            “…Feminism exists mainly to preverve women’s privilege in western societies and to deny the fact that men too have always endured gender-based discrimination, and it is stronger and more institutionalized now then ever before.”

            You can’t possibly be serious. I simply don’t believe that you aren’t making this up. In any case, it’s clear that there is no use in continuing the discussion.

          • sthek says

            TByte:

            No. We need Atheism+ to have a place where we can talk about how to help overcome actual social injustice without first having to argue with people like you over whether or not a social injustice has occurred and if so, whether or not we have a right to want to fix it. We need Atheism+ because at a certain point, you stop debating whether or not gravity exists and move forward on the assumption that it does, because pretending it doesn’t won’t get you anywhere except awfully bruised up.

            And on that note, I’m moving forward. Have a nice night.

          • TByte says

            “No. We need Atheism+ to have a place where we can talk about how to help overcome actual social injustice without first having to argue with people like you over whether or not a social injustice has occurred and if so, whether or not we have a right to want to fix it.”
            Right. Because you certainly would not want to be in a community where people were free to provide evidence opposing your arguments. Did you address ANY of the examples I raised? No. Which qualifies you as a “privilege denier”, does it not?

            “You can’t possibly be serious. I simply don’t believe that you aren’t making this up. In any case, it’s clear that there is no use in continuing the discussion.”
            …which is about what passes for discussion in the Atheism+ group.

          • smhll says

            The “CHUM” thing came specifically from Richard Carrier and not anyone else. It is fallacious to tar the whole Atheism+ movement with that brush.

          • TByte says

            It is not just Carrier. Other FTB A+ persons have engaged in the same behavior, and it is rampant on the associated forum posts. Greta Christina had been particularly egregious about slandering those who challenge her statements and silencing those who disagree with her.
            So no, you can’t hide behind the “It was only Richard” defense.

      • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

        traversedavies:

        You can be kicked out of the atheismpus subreddit.

        I did not know this. I don’t know anything about reddit so I can’t speak to that.
        That doesn’t mean you’re somehow kicked out of the A+ community. If you felt the need, you can easily go to the A+ forum.

        It’s not a place where debate is welcome at all, and to me that is a huge issue.

        What type of debate were you trying to have?
        I know that the basic issues of social justice are probably not seen as up for debate (do gay people deserve equal rights? do women deserve FULL equality?).

        I believe that it’s a decent idea but so completely couched in feminist ideology that it has stopped being a skeptical movement and has become very much an insular community.

        What do you mean by feminist ideology?
        Are you someone who is at odds with progressive social justice? Or is it certain details?
        I know some people dismiss the concept of patriarchy or privilege. People that do will quickly find many in the A+ community don’t respond well to that (I certainly don’t). Those are fundamental concepts to feminism.

        Can you elaborate?

        ****
        this isn’t directed at you, so much as a general response.

        In the midst of composing this response, I ventured over to Reddit for the first time. I clicked on one of the A+ threads ((?)) and found a few people arguing about patriarchy and male privilege. One person in particular acted just like members of the Men’s Rights Movement do. As I said, these concepts are part of the basis of feminism. Arguing against them is pointless. They are *not* up for debate, nor should they be. There is ample evidence to support their existence, if one searches without a bias. If you don’t agree with them, A+ is not the community for you.

        • Benjamin says

          This is the kind of debate that will get you banned from atheism plus on reedit http://imgur.com/tE5IB

          I’ve also come across an atheist plus forum where they are congratulating each other for tearing down fliers in support of a group they disagree with.

          • Tim says

            Reads to me like he’s suggesting women should shut up and accept sexual abuse rather than run the risk of costing a hospital too much money. Can’t for the life of me figure out how that got him banned from a feminist-leaning reddit. Try substituting women for children and a hospital for a cathedral, then explain to me how reasonable he was being.

            You want to know why they’re itchy with the ban finger?
            http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/
            The whole point is to avoid that.

          • sjb says

            @ Tim

            Thats how it reads to me at all. And infact on reading it I think one would have to try very hard to get the meaning you propose. The commenter has quite clearly identified the abuse of patients by doctors as a problem. He has simply identified that a proposed solution (that all female patients have a female escort) raises it’s own problems given that the country being discussed is India and the likelyhood that attempts to provide escorts to all female patients will lead to delays in providing care and increased female deaths, not the desired result I assume!

            As seen in the athiesmplus subredit a person raising what certainly seems to be a reasonable point is accused of male privilage denialism and banned (when a fair reading of his point would see that it had nothing to do with male privilage but rather concerns what is the optimal outcome for female patients in less than optimal circumstances).

            I have observed the developments over the last year (I was at the convention in Dublin and have been following the developments since Ms Watsons inital (reasonable) comments) and it certainly seems to me that there is an immedate assumption that anyone who may slightly disagree or question elements of what has developed into the A+ ortodoxy is some sort of evil mysoginist. I’m a long term athiest, a hard lefty on social issues and green party member however the vitreol and nastyness that seems to be heaped on anybody who dares to say hang on a second I’d like to raise a point that may require thought rather than blind acceptance of the A+ agenda (an agenda that I largely agree with) is really offputting and frankly upsetting.

          • says

            Actually Tim, I’m gonna disagree with you. I think sjb has a more accurate reading of logic’s comments on the subreddit thread.

            So A+ is starting to accumulate fanatics. That’s not surprising.

            I’m a Cultural Anthropology student. I’m completing my Bachelor’s now, but my Masters and/or maybe PhD thesis will be on the origins of fanaticism. I’ve rejected the idea that fanaticism is a religious phenomenon. Fanaticism appears to have the unique ability of infecting any grouping of humans around any idea… even sports and music (after all, “fan” is short for “fanatic”).

            Example: I would definitely class myself as a Led Zeppelin fanatic; I’m certainly an apologist for their shameless stealing of other people’s music; not too mention my collection of unofficial live recordings of Led Zeppelin shows, unreleased studio outtakes/sessions, and unreleased radio sessions (I have the complete Led Zeppelin BBC collection, which actually spans four discs as opposed to the officially released two discs). Oh… and I got all that for free, through trades and torrenting. I’ve purchased through legal means all of their official releases, of course, but you can’t purchase unofficial stuff. Not legally, anyways…

            I was also once a fanatic Harry Potter/Hermione Granger shipper (something that embarrasses me immensely, now, but there you go).

            I believe fanaticism is very simply the modern human expression of tribalism and, what’s more, I think that maybe the aggression seen in chimps, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos (and, of course, all social animals) could very well be expressions of the root that leads to Fanaticism. I think it is a symptom/side-effect of being a social species.

            As a proud supporter of A+ myself, I would not at all be surprised to find a certain subset of supporters becoming fanatics over it. It is, quite frankly, to be expected. Fanaticism may actually be unavoidable at some level. If you think about, every human alive is a fanatic about many things. What are you a “fan” of?

            (Of course, if you want to argue that A+ is rooted in a kind of fanaticism, we’ll have an argument because I disagree vehemently. I do not think Jen McCreight, Ophelia Benson, and Greta Christina qualify as fanatic Feminists, mainly because after reading them for over a year, I’ve never seen any evidence that they have any problem with the male gender; pointing out institutionally-engrained social sexism does not equal misandry. Also, I have seen all three of them admit, and discuss how the patriarchy [and the overall kyriarchy, of which the patriarchy is just a part] hurts men, too.)

            That these fanatics are populating Reddit surprises me even less. Part of the reason I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of Reddit (though yes, I am a member) is because it seems to be a place that fanatics love.

            sjb, you note that you’ve been to the forums? Next time you go there, search for a thread called “With Us or Against Us”. It was started by me (NateHevens). Read the replies I got. Honestly, despite the fact that it only made three pages, that thread (in combination with Greta and Jen and Ophelia talking about it and now Aron Ra’s comments here) assured me that the idea of “With Us or Against Us” is actually not a welcome sentiment within the A+ community. Richard Carrier, who did, in fact, express this sentiment initially, actually apologized for it after many A+ supporters called him out (both publically and privately) for it.

            Trust me… I’m just as worried about the “With Us or Against Us” narrative as many of A+’s critics are. Such a narrative is a bad thing, and it could ruin A+… if that was actually an official narrative.

            But it isn’t.

            So…

            Yeah…

          • smhll says

            Benjamin -

            I’ve usually seen female gynecologists. Every time I have a pelvic exam, a second person steps into the room for the 3-5 minutes that the exam takes. This is both harassment protection and lawsuit protection.

        • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

          Which is clearly okay with the A+ haters, because, as we all know, bitchez ain’t shit.

  3. says

    Irony is that it began (at least in part) because so many people were whining about how feminism was somehow a completely different topic than atheism so the people talking about it should just shut up. (Forget that religion is the predominant factor in the mistreatment and dehumanization of women world-wide.)

    So, those getting sick and tired of being told to shut up and dealing with ardent patriarchy-deniers, say, “Fine, we’ll carve out our own place with our own label, because we don’t want to deal with you anymore.”

    …and people are STILL complaining that somehow “that group” is going to take over the world and (TM) the label “atheist” or something.

    Whatever.

    • says

      This has been an issue since even before A+. I did a blog post saying I don’t want to spend time with people who have the same perspective of other people as Howard Wolowitz. Some people seemed put out by this and expressed how mean that was of me–to not sympathize with social boors, who may not even realize how they appear to others.

      I didn’t realize it was my obligation to socialize with people I don’t like spending time with. I didn’t realize that choosing to spend my time with people I actually enjoy spending time with was something I had to defend or justify to others. But apparently exercising freedom of association is very bad of me.

      I don’t, frankly, care. I still am unwilling to spend time with people I don’t like. And anyone who thinks poorly of me for that, is, well, welcome to knock themselves out thinking poorly of me. What they’re not welcome to do is associate with me if I don’t wish to associate with them. And that’s what property lines, lounge bouncers, and stalker laws are for.

      • says

        Yeah – some of the more annoying stuff results in a tantrum resembling “How DARE you disengage with me!!” – as if free speech entitles someone not only to the actual freedom of speech, but the right to a forum, someone else’ time and energy, and to have their views taken seriously.

        For the people who think that the A+ folks are so unreasonable, why remain so intensely invested? It’s creepy frankly.

        Ignoring people who “troll” – on your internet space, send you private e-mails, or spend a ton of time attacking you specifically – isn’t reasonable. Sometimes you absolutely have to deal with that, and not just ignore it. We’ve heard that over-and-over again from people who deal with it on a regular basis.

        However, why not ignore those who you don’t agree with who AREN’T proactively attacking you in your space? That’s what I don’t get. Why seek out interaction? The extreme anti-A+ crew and anti-FtB crew – why continue to engage if you aren’t getting along?

        I mean comments like this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/08/29/clarification/#comment-53565

        Why?

        Jen then writes a blog post which is essentially an expression of wishing to disengage – and THAT is the idea from which A+ has sprung. It is a simple wish to disengage from interactions that are becoming repetitious, unproductive, and frankly hurtful. (At least that is what it looked like from her post and the subsequent comments.)

        Yet – that apparently isn’t enough.

        Loftus has created a blog network as a sort of “drama-free” zone – and more power to him for simply doing his own thing and I hope it is successful – however, for some inexplicable reason he has made four blog posts within the last month or so attacking FtB and A+. I asked him about his first one

        http://www.skepticblogs.com/debunkingchristianity/2012/08/26/if-you-are-tired-of-the-freethought-blogs-drama-we-are-the-refreshing-alternative/#comments

        and he seems to think that it is his moral imperative.

        That would make a lot more sense to me, if he (and some of the others that have expressed concerns) were upset about things that FtB or A+ have actually done (not what they might do) and things that directly affect them (instead of things are that strongly internal to FtB or A+)…not to mention treated people who are associated somehow with either FtB or A+ as individuals.

        Well – we’ll all get through to the other side of all this *stuff* at some point – whatever that “other side” might look like.

        • SPACKlick says

          Because while they may not be attacking me directly, they may be very much tarring me incidentally with a brush. Theis intent doesn’t make it magically ok.

          and while they sit and make it look like I’m a bad person by their incosiderate PR?

          To quote the Atheism Plus FAQ

          “It just so happens that there is a sizable contingent of atheists who agree that a desire for social justice connects to their atheism in a meaningful way.”
          and various other examples imply (althoguh it is usually counteracted 3 or 4 lines later) that non A+ Atheists are not interested in advocating for social justice or don’t find social justice connects to atheism in a meaningful way.

          You could make the same argument that people who sexualise women in advertising are not attacking you directly, so why oppose them? Because indiretly it harms you, that’s why.

          • says

            I mean, if this:

            “It just so happens that there is a sizable contingent of atheists who agree that a desire for social justice connects to their atheism in a meaningful way.”
            and various other examples imply (althoguh it is usually counteracted 3 or 4 lines later) that non A+ Atheists are not interested in advocating for social justice or don’t find social justice connects to atheism in a meaningful way.

            ..is your prime example of how A+ is effecting or attacking you – I’m sorry but you have too much time on your hands.

            Some non A+ Atheists aren’t interested in advocating for social justice and MANY more atheists do not thing that their atheism connects to social justice is any meaningful way. When Greta Christina advocated for such an idea, it was incredibly controversial. For many people, social justice and atheism are simply separate in their minds.

            Saying that A+ members advocate for social justice and see atheism as connected to social justice; is not an implication that non-members don’t or even though who don’t identify as A+ don’t.

            I mean, that’s a classic “Elephants are pink, Ellie is not an elephant, therefore Ellie is not pink” logic fail.

  4. says

    “Yes, some people that don’t join _are_ misogynist scum.”

    I think that might be part of the underlying problem. When people (especially academic feminists) point out that something is a remnant of the patriarchy or misogynists, they aren’t necessarily talking about the in-your-face get-me-a-sandwich sort of horror show.

    Perhaps much of the issue is a “failure to communicate”.

    • karmakin says

      Pretty much. And I don’t see this making things any better. Exactly the opposite actually.

      I still think, and I will always think that this whole thing started with EG (I don’t think that’s very controversial) but what MAY be controversial is that the whole thing is basically about a lack of communication over the word “That”. And yes, the blame is on both sides here.

      I also still think..and I probably will always think that EG actually had more to do with social privilege and observance of cultural norms than it did with gender privilege.

  5. r3formed says

    I think some of the aversion stems from the desire to support their rationale, as pertaining to their worldview.

    What I have encountered is people saying its bad because it makes atheism something instead of a non-thing. (paraphrase)

    It allows for the continued idea that atheism is not a belief Atheism+ challenges that idea by demonstrating that atheism can and does inform decision making.

    How could a non-thing do that?

    It would better the discourse as a whole if reason was actually employed by those who claim to possess it. The same people who are so vehemently against it would be in the never-abandon-materialism category probably.

  6. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    but we’re not gonna kick Penn & Teller out of our club because they’re libertarians who like sexually explicit women.

    If you don’t understand how wrong this is then you don’t understand the concerns of most people who identify with A+. Penn Jillette is a libertarian misogynist asshole. A+ people don’t tend to like that. No one has to kick a jerk like him out; he’s already divided (see, it’s divisive!) himself out.

    • r3formed says

      My most assuredly undesired advice to you is pretty simple and I hope you don’t construe this the wrong way.

      Make sure that in your current quest you don’t begin behaving in a same manner but with different things on paper. Make sense?

      Your cause is certainly justifiable and in no way am I promoting the things you are against but it’s important to be reasonable, rational, and understanding.

      Not just this comment but other comments you made informed this.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay says

        May I have a side of ranch for that word salad?

        I have no idea what you mean to say.

        • r3formed says

          K I’ll say it like I was in a bar.

          Don’t be a dick because someone else is a dick. Instead be better.

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay says

            Oh fuck off. Come back at me after you’ve spent time lecturing the assholes, not just those of us who object to them.

          • says

            In other words, it’s like telling a bullying victim, “Watch how you stand up for yourself to the bullies. Don’t want to look like one of them, now would ya?”

            Please. Any “asshole” behavior you might witness on our side looks like smiles and dances compared to what comes from the real assholes in our midst.

      • says

        @r3formed, I think I know what you are saying as I’ve fallen into the same word salad trap trying to articulate it.

        Unfortunately you are saying not to be nasty to assholes who make rape threats just for the lulz — being that general makes Josh think you are saying the acerbic nature of his comments is not allowed (I assume!). I would add that in a way you are right that using specific techniques such as unpleasant trolling, dox’ing or campaigns of bullying against the assholes would make this side lose credibility.

        I agree the atheism+ side cannot sink to the same level and come out smelling of roses. However so far I’ve seen very little evidence that they are…

    • says

      If the way I wrote that was confusing, I paraphrased it. I never meant to imply that any of the people I named were necessarily rational progressives who would identify with atheism+.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay says

        OK, but I think it’s important to understand that, yes, A+ people would “kick out” (your term) people like Penn Jillette. He’s not on board with values most of us hold. He’s very much prone to shitty, misogynistic bullshit that he laughs off with his “bad boy” libertarian persona. Do not think we “wouldn’t” kick him out. That kind of shit isn’t welcome.

        • mynameischeese says

          I think aronra meant that A+ meant that Penn and Rand won’t be kicked out of atheism. They can still ID as atheists, they just won’t ID as A+. Atheism + is a way of acknowledging that rift already exists between people like myself and people like Rand. It’s a name for a difference that’s already there, not a difference that is newly created by the term Atheism +.

  7. Steve Caldwell says

    Atheism+ is essentially no different than progressive atheism, but we’re not gonna kick Penn & Teller out of our club because they’re libertarians who like sexually explicit women.

    I’m very supportive of the the goals of atheism+ and I’m also OK with sexually explicit women (as long as the sexually explicit stuff is done in safe and healthy ways and is consensual for all involved persons).

  8. r3formed says

    Josh,

    I am/have/will lecture those you describe. Thanks for the advice.

    Still you shouldn’t be a dick.

    Weird thing is I have yet to say a negative thing regarding atheism+. You assume too much. Don’t be a fool. It makes you look foolish.

    • hjhornbeck says

      Why shouldn’t Josh be a dick*? What truly matters is the strength of your ideas, not the strength of your language. If Josh’s arguments falter, I will not hesitate to call them out on it; until then, I see no reason to care about the colour of the language.

      * I have some experience with dicks, and have never found them to be rude or insulting. Please watch your language.

      • r3formed says

        Certainly the color of language only enhances the statement but that’s not what I’m referring to nor did I say it.

        Rather it’s accusations and assumptions like the one you made.

        Also I’m pretty sure we aren’t talking about the same kind of dicks.

        • Josh, Official SpokesGay says

          “Sniffy sniff, sniff,” he said, “And passive voice to boot.”

          “Harmumph.”

          “Sniff.”

        • hjhornbeck says

          Rather it’s accusations and assumptions like the one you made.

          Do tell me, then, how Josh was being a so-called “dick” if not through foul language.

          [prepares the popcorn...]

          • hjhornbeck says

            A quick review of his comments on Ed kagins post would inform you.

            I asked for specifics, and you instead direct me to take a “quick” wade through four hundred comments and guess which specific one qualifies as “dick” behaviour to you? Fuck off, troll.

          • r3formed says

            Well you didn’t ask for specifics, re-read your posts.

            Post 3, his comments

            Post 4, his comments

            I won’t go further. What you all don’t seem to understand is that it is the tone… The aggressiveness to it… The smugness. It isn’t beneficial and it doesn’t help and that’s my whole point. All I’m saying is two wrongs don’t make a right. You just both end up being wrong.

            Why not be better and show that the cause you are defending isn’t full of children? Why defend someone who’s so much like the people your complaining about? There are different values but the behavior is the same. It’s just ignorant.

            Oh and I feel that civility is a necessity to any intelligent or coherent argument. Thanks for your opinion though. It demonstrates your character.

            I would hate to see something that is a good thing destroyed by ideologues like josh, and one can not argue with an ideologue.

          • hjhornbeck says

            Well you didn’t ask for specifics, re-read your posts.

            Splitting hairs makes you look more like a troll. The vague “post three and four” pointer is little help, as they’re by Tom and Josh respectively without any replies. I’m guessing you really meant Josh’s third and fourth post within the thread, ignoring nesting.

            What you all don’t seem to understand is that it is the tone… The aggressiveness to it… The smugness. It isn’t beneficial and it doesn’t help and that’s my whole point.

            Ah, this is much like the ol’ accommodationist vs. firebrand debate. In that case, we know quite clearly who’s been more successful at deconverting the public, and that’s the firebrands. By being “aggressive” and “smug,” PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have had far more cultural impact than the Chris Mooneys and Julian Bagginis of the world. That would argue that for the greatest benefit to Atheism+ we need more of Josh’s approach, not less.

            Oh and I feel that civility is a necessity to any intelligent or coherent argument. Thanks for your opinion though. It demonstrates your character.

            Funnily enough, if you actually sit down and read through Myers/Dawkins/Hitchens, you’ll realize they are not aggressive or smug. Sure they can use heated language at times, but they are always careful to justify that within the text. The Pope is not a jackass because he’s rich, he’s a jackass for shielding potential pedophiles from prosecution.

            No, the real problem lies with the people who claim Myers et al. are aggressive or smug. They are deliberately confusing justified heated language with unjustified, and using that as a convenient excuse to ignore the entire lot. We only get upset when things go wrong, in proportion to the magnitude of that wrong, so by trying to remove the passion they hope to minimize the impact of the criticism. Having reviewed Josh’s remarks at the above two links, I find an appropriate justification for use of strong language.

            Incidentally, there’s a term for someone who complains about the tone instead of the message: “tone troll.” In case I wasn’t clear the first time, fuck off, troll, or in my next reply I will try to out-Josh Josh.

          • r3formed says

            Calling me a troll implies intentions you can’t be aware of. I do enjoy argument but my opinions and statements are mine… does disagreement make me a troll?

            Success doesn’t necessarily mean correctness just effectiveness. What sways the public can be manipulated most best by making appeals to emotion. That’s why televangelists are so successful. Your logic would justify their behavior. I’m not comparing atheism plus to them but rather how they approach accomplishing their goals.

            You seem angry, no offense was intended.

      • baal says

        The problem with Josh’s (and it appears the p.horde who only slightly moderated after PZ’s comments policy change) 100% negativism is that it’s like having the stereo dial turned to 11 all the time. At that point the message is lost to the noise. Worse, walls of rage, anger, bitterness and snark are massively off-putting. It tarnishes your views. Think of Pavlovian conditioning. Topic X + angery bitter noise all the time transfers the feelings of the later to the former so that even a mention of anything Topic X creates the emotional response of the angry bitter noise.

        • karmakin says

          Yeah, the problem isn’t tone in and of itself. But tone does convey something, that is, the severity of things. Using a very harsh tone makes perfect sense when it’s something that you want to convey as being very severe. But when you think something is less severe, but use the same harsh tone, people might overstate their impression of what you’re actually saying.

          The best example of this I can think of, is that early on in the harassment policy debate (before it became an actual harassment policy debate), the tone actually did give the impression that harassment was a constant thing at atheist/skeptic conventions. That there was catcalls everywhere, one couldn’t walk down the hall without being hit on, etc. Now this wasn’t the case, of course. But it was entirely reasonable for people to assume that this was the argument which was being made (the reactions of course varied from you’re way exaggerating so your argument is invalid to nuke it from orbit, to be sure).

          Remember. I’m someone who thinks that harassment policies need to be tighter and more objective than most.

          Some people want to blame the listener entirely for this, but I don’t think this is fair at all. I think that as communicators we really do have a responsibility to transmit a reasonably accurate message.

          And the message being transmitted by certain elements of the nascent A+ movement unfortunately…well..let’s just say that it backs up Carrier’s trainwreck. And it gives the bad guys far too much ammunition…very useful ammunition at that. Ammunition that WORKS, like it or not.

          First rule of holes. When you’re in a hole. Stop digging. First ‘tho, one has to realize that yes, we might be in a hole, regardless of our good intentions.

          • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

            The best example of this I can think of, is that early on in the harassment policy debate (before it became an actual harassment policy debate), the tone actually did give the impression that harassment was a constant thing at atheist/skeptic conventions.

            Really?
            I don’t recall anyone saying anything (nor anything about tone giving such an impression) about harassment being a constant thing at atheist/skeptic conventions.
            I recall people saying it was a problem.
            Perhaps you’re confusing ‘a problem’ with ‘a constant thing’.
            Do you have a link to some comments that would support your assertion?

    • smhll says

      When Josh is a clever dick waving a fiery sword or fierce language, he brings joy to the hearts of many otherwise disheartened people. In fact, I think I am going to start knitting him a cape!

  9. Patricia, OM says

    You are one of the few people that I believe cuts through bullshit with a Wusthof. Please don’t stumble here.

    • huntstoddard says

      I wish someone had said this to Richard Carrier before he almost single-handedly torpedoed the movement.

      • hjhornbeck says

        I’m shocked at the number of people who think this is legit reasoning:

        1. Richard Carrier said some divisive things.
        2. Therefore, Atheism+ is divisive.

        I guess it’s proof that you don’t need critical thinking to be an atheist.

        • TByte says

          A+ is a divisive movement because it was started by Feminists and is primarily concerned with Feminist issues, and Feminism is a divisive and hypocritical movement.
          What is offensive is that the A+ crowd claims to be for social justice when it is not, in the same way that Feminism claims to be for gender equality when it is not. And the A+ crowd demonizes those who oppose it by labeling them douchebags or CHUDS in the same way Feminists apply the Misogynist label to those that oppose their discriminatory and hateful dogma.
          Richard Carrier’s comments (and Greta Christinas, and Jen McCreight, and those of many commenters on their blogs…..) merely confirm this.

          • mynameischeese says

            More accurate: What is offensive is that the anti-A+ crowd claims to be for social justice when it is not.

            Fixed it for you.

          • TByte says

            mynameischeese, either show me where I have made any statements opposing equality for all individuals, or admit that your statement was baseless.

        • TByte says

          “I guess it’s proof that you don’t need critical thinking to be an atheist.”
          The CONSTANT efforts by the A+ crowd to shut down any discourse regarding their dogma is proof that they are completely uninterested in critical thinking.

          • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

            I am a feminist, a secular humanist and support gay rights but I don’t identify with this A+ group at all. Their idea of feminism isn’t mine. And in the broader view their idea of critical thinking and skepticism is clearly not mine. I find them closed and hateful and extremely devisive.

            The first sentence is excellent. Too bad you followed it up with blatant lies.

  10. Patricia, OM says

    AronRa – My comment was not clear.
    A+ is an idea whose time has come. I was a member of the Brethren Old Believers (snake kissing fundies) for half a lifetime. Ripping the guts out of fundies with bible quoting is a sport with me*. But now it’s time for some to get passed that.

    I’ve watched your videos. You inspire me greatly with your courage! PZ, Richard Carrier and Greta have all made comments much better than mine pro A+. I don’t see A+ as anti-atheist, it’s simply those of us ready to stand up for the next phase, and take all we have learned with us.

    I hope that includes you.

    *Remark ment to be offensive.

  11. SPACKlick says

    AronRa, I just want to say thanks for the first clear, unbiased A+ Post I’ve read. (Mr Dillahunty came close with his vlog)

    The whole issue with A+ has been a communication issue. I never got what it was, but the hype all makes it sound like the worst excesses of rabid feminism coupled with a desire to label everyone different as the enemy, and knowing some of the individuals involved, I knew the hype had to be wrong.

    for A+ itself, I won’t choose to use the label. I disagree with the tactics of the A+ movement with regards to social justice and their communication is so bad I can’t tell whether or not I agree with their position on it. And because of that, I worry that having “Atheist” in the name will lead to unwarranted negative attention on atheists as a whole.

    In fact, from a PR perspective, I think A+ should have used a different name, but that’s just me I guess.

    • Khantron, the alien that only loves says

      “Rabid feminism?” In the West rabies is nearly extinct and it’s fairly rare even in the developing world.

      • SPACKlick says

        You must know the sort of extremists I mean, even if you disagree with my choice of word. The sort of feminist who believes any man who tells a joke where a female is the butt of the joke is a sexist and a bad person.
        The sort of feminist who graffiti’s the “History Department” sign with “Theirstory”, and froths with rage at the club having a “Chairman” even if the chairman’s a woman.
        The sort of feminist who thinks that a woman being politely asked out in a private environment is an affront to them as a person and reduces them to nothing but a sex object.
        The sort of feminist who grows their leg and armpit hair (and often takes every opportunity to show this off), not because they’re more comfortable that way but because “The Men” want them to shave it.
        The ones who will blame every man for the fact that some men sexually assault people.
        You know, the extremists. The one’s who give feminism a bad name. The reason most feminists I know started using the label “Egalitarianist”

          • SPACKlick says

            The description given there comes directly from examples of someone I know who describes themself as a rabid feminist.

        • captainahags says

          Ah, yes, those rabid feminists who don’t like everything to be all about men all the time. They’re practically hysterical.

          • SPACKlick says

            Excuse me? What in that list do you think was “all about men all the time”

            That in some jokes, the butt is female?
            That the etymology of History, entirely unrelated to gender words, shares 3 letters with a gendered pronoun?
            That in some cases I man will actually find a woman attractive and want to express that?

            Go on, do tell?

          • Khantron, the alien that only loves says

            It’s so convenient that the examples you point to are unverifiable. It reminds me of the time a man in a funny hat told me about a fellow he knew named Jesus.

          • SPACKlick says

            As I’ve said, each and every one fo thsoe examples comes from one specific feminist with whom I was acquainted.

            Besides which, as I said in the original post, that was what the hyperbolic ranting about Atheism+ sounded like, an image I didn’t believe of the people involved in the movement.

        • says

          >The sort of feminist who thinks that a woman being politely asked out in a private environment is an affront to them as a person and reduces them to nothing but a sex object.

          I really hope that wasn’t supposed to be a description of what happened with EG? In an elevator, appropriate level of social interaction consists of asking, “could you hit 3 for me, please?” In all the years I’ve ridden elevators, not once has any stranger riding with me *ever* asked me to accompany them to a private hotel room, or otherwise attempted to use a recognized public, (and here comes the key word…) *nonsocial* setting, as a catalyst to an extreme level of social integration with me (“come up to my hotel room” is pretty forward, I think it’s fair to say).

          Seriously, pretty much the only people who could claim such an extreme level of social/cultural ignorance of what is expected level of interaction in an elevator would be The Beverly Hillbillies. Approaching a person in a way they surely do not expect, nor did they do anything to invite, that completely violates recognized social protocol within that situation, is the very definition of “rude” in a cultural context. Anyone who has ever traveled abroad knows this. Learn the cultural conventions, and *employ* them. If you don’t, you risk offending people and being considered rude and disrespectful toward others. If you don’t care about how you’re perceived, that’s certainly your prerogative and within your rights; I certainly would not expect a person to be arrested for mere rudeness. But it certainly is disingenuous to behave in ways that are recognized to be socially unexpected, and, more importantly, *completely uninvited*, with strangers in a culture/society, and then claim you’re surprised you’ve been interpreted as being an ass.

          • SPACKlick says

            >>I really hope that wasn’t supposed to be a description of what happened with EG?
            It wasn’t, it was (as I’ve said 3 times now I think) a reference to a person I knew. She was sitting in a bar with a group of friends, male and female, and her and a guy had been chatting one on one for about half an hour and he said something like “This is gonna sound silly but I like you and I was wondering if you’d go for a meal with me sometime?” And she exploded at him for about 30 minutes because it “trivialised her into a sex object” and “appealed to mysogynistic standards of patriarchal” something or other. She was a nut. Truly best described as a rabid feminist.

            However on EG… [watch me commit hari-kiri]

            “In an elevator, appropriate level of social interaction consists of asking, “could you hit 3 for me, please?” ”
            True, in most cases. That said, it’s no great slight to say, “would you like to come to my hotel room?” Particularly if you times it right so you can leave very soon after the no so there isn’t that awkwardness.

            Even if it is poor social custom, it causes no harm, so while you may think the person who did it is a social maladjust and rude, he’s not a bad person.

            “If you don’t, you risk offending people and being considered rude and disrespectful toward others.”
            Fine, and up to here I agree with you. But to call this a sexist issue? To call it sexually agressive? Tantamount to sexual assault?

            EG was blown way out of proportion. It was probably inappropriate (although we don’t know full details). It probably offended. But it didn’t harm, it wasn’t wrong, it was just inappropriate at most.

          • sthek says

            “EG was blown way out of proportion. It was probably inappropriate (although we don’t know full details). It probably offended. But it didn’t harm, it wasn’t wrong, it was just inappropriate at most.”

            And WHO blew it way out of proportion? The outrage, if you recall, didn’t start with RW. She made a casual statement of “guys, don’t do that.” That was totally proportionate to the situation. The outrage occurred when she (and anyone who thereafter stood up for her) were viciously attacked for having said that one innocuous thing about it. Recognizing that the backlash against her is totally inappropriate and nothing some of us want anything to do with is completely justified and also totally proportionate to the situation.

          • says

            SPACK:

            >It wasn’t, it was (as I’ve said 3 times now I think) a reference to a person I knew.

            Fair enough. Thank you for clarifying that.

            >That said, it’s no great slight to say, “would you like to come to my hotel room?”

            It’s socially rude. Having worked conventions for more than 10 years with an association management company in Austin, when you approach a woman stranger in a hotel to your room, the question of price should also be discussed. In fact, some of our women coordinators were taken for hotel prostitutes, but were, even then, approached mainly in *lounges*—where social interaction is expected. They were *not* approached in public, nonsocial areas where it’s considered rude to initiate deep, social-level interaction.

            In public, nonsocial settings, when you approach a person for reasons not directly related to the situation (“press 3 for me, please”), you open your dialog with an apology or ask forgiveness, do you not? Is it not customary to start with “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” Or “Excuse me, but could I ask…” We ask forgiveness or apologize, because it is considered disrespectful to intrude and impose upon a person who is out in public, busy doing whatever they are occupied with their life, and who is clearly not putting themselves into a social setting where such annoyances are otherwise invited.

            Do you understand, or is it mystifying to you, why “excuse me” and “pardon me” are employed as customary protocol in public, nonsocial, settings where you engage a person in a way that is not required by the situation? Again, “Floor 3 please,” not “want to come back to my hotel room with me?” If you want to have a social interaction—at least do so in an appropriate social setting where people gather to signal that’s what they’re interested in—or AGAIN, risk being considered the ass you are acting like.

            With your friend’s story, for example, the reason people would be sympathetic to the male is that he spent time getting familiar with her and also that he was doing so in a recognized social setting. Additionally, the invitation to dinner, while signaling sexual interest, was not an overt sexual invitation. Had he breached any of these protocols, AGAIN, he would have been RISKING, being considered socially rude. As he adhered to social protocols throughout–the fair question is why he was so unjustly lambasted. But you don’t get to break social protocols AND wonder why you’re being called a rude ass. That should be obvious.

            >Even if it is poor social custom, it causes no harm,

            Where did I say it caused harm? I said you risk being considered a rude ass. And that’s simple fact—no matter which country you visit. Know the customs, and observe them, or risk being considered a rude ass.

            >>“If you don’t, you risk offending people and being considered rude and disrespectful toward others.”

            >Fine, and up to here I agree with you. But to call this a sexist issue?

            Can you show me where I did that?

            >To call it sexually agressive? Tantamount to sexual assault?

            Well, it is sexual, and it is aggressive; but, if you just want to call it aggressive and rude, fine. I never said arrest someone—in fact, I said quite the opposite. But I no more want to spend time around rude assholes who lack consideration of respect toward others, than sexist assholes—so to me it’s six of one and half dozen of the other. I can’t bear either of them.

          • SPACKlick says

            “It’s socially rude.”
            I’m notsure I’d go as far as rude but I’m in a minority so OK.

            “when you approach a woman stranger in a hotel to your room, the question of price should also be discussed.”
            So because I want to know if she’s interested in casual sex, we have to assume one of us is a prostitute? Give me a break.

            “In public…when you approach a person…you open your dialog with an apology…do you not?”
            Yeah, usually “Excuse me but…”. Do we know this guy didn’t?

            “Again, “Floor 3 please,” not “want to come back to my hotel room with me?” ”
            So if he’d said “Excuse me, but would you be interested in coming back to my hotel room?” you’d be fine with it? He just wasn’t polite enough?

            “If you want to have a social interaction—at least do so in an appropriate social setting where people gather to signal that’s what they’re interested in—or AGAIN, risk being considered the ass you are acting like.”
            He took that risk…it’s not being an ass. Being socially impolite and being an ass are far removed. If he’d broken into a rant about her saying no, that’s being an ass. If he responds to rejection with “that’s fine, sorry I brought it up, have a nice night” and leaves, that’s just impolite.

            “Where did I say it caused harm?”
            You didn’t, but others have and the vitriol spewed against this poor man is normally reserved for people who did something immoral as opposed to impolite.

            “>…But to call this a sexist issue?
            Can you show me where I did that?”
            Again not you, referring to the discussion as a whole.

            “Well, it is sexual, and it is aggressive;”
            Yes and No. It’s not in any way aggressive. Where’s the aggression?

            “But I no more want to spend time around rude assholes who lack consideration of respect toward others”
            Woah, who did he disrespect? He disrespected some social rules, but he didn’t disrespect or fail to consider any people.

        • says

          You imply that the feminists that make up the A+ group are based on one particular rabid feminist you’ve had experiences with. I’m just wondering, why would you do that? Wouldn’t that create a sampling bias?

          I can’t speak for all A+ blogs, but I lurk on Pharyngula, and I’ve never encountered your caricature of a feminist. There are complaints of rape jokes (because it triggers the trauma in some people who were rape victims), but never of jokes in which women are the butt (I don’t think that actually comes up ever). And I don’t think I’ve ever seen any feminist seriously complaining about the word “History” or any other words that have incidental connections to male pronouns (that sounds like the ecofeminists of Futurama). I will say that the commentariat are quick to anger and can be hostile to people who do/say things approaching misogyny, but they’ve had to deal with that slime for a while and it can get tiring.

          Anyway, even though there may be rabid feminists out there, how do you support the idea that those in the A+ crowd are rabid feminists or that they are couched in rabid feminism? As I’ve yet to see this behavior in the A+ crowd, it really does seem as if you’ve constructed a straw feminist.

          • SPACKlick says

            I think you may need to read my post again

            “[T]he hype all [made] it sound like the worst excesses of rabid feminism coupled with a desire to label everyone different as the enemy, and knowing some of the individuals involved, I knew the hype had to be wrong.”

          • SPACKlick says

            If you’d bothered to read the replies to the post, you’ll see that ALL those examples come from one feminist I used to know.

            Do I think she’s typical? No, I know she isn’t, she’s an extremist outlier who missed the point.

            Also, my point was that the hype surrounding A+ was just that ridiculously unrealistic.

            How is it people have missed that point so hard?

          • says

            I raised this question in a different reply (but have gotten no response from SPACKlick) and there isn’t a reply button to his comment below this, but why is SPACKlick basing the feminist ideals of A+ on this one self-identified extremist feminist he knows (so this is totes not a strawfeminist) when that feminist, as far as I can tell from the comments currently, is not part of the A+ movement? (And when the A+ movement doesn’t exhibit any of that “extreme feminism.”)

          • SPACKlick says

            As I said above

            I think you may need to read my original post again

            “[T]he hype all [made] it sound like the worst excesses of rabid feminism coupled with a desire to label everyone different as the enemy, and knowing some of the individuals involved, I knew the hype had to be wrong.”

      • TByte says

        ““Rabid feminism?” In the West rabies is nearly extinct and it’s fairly rare even in the developing world.”
        Then there’s hope we can do the same thing to Feminism.

  12. moralnihilist says

    What I want to know is how are people in this movement going to identify themselves? “Hi! I’m an atheist plus!” I imagine a lot of people are going to be confused.

    • says

      On many of the blogs here, the authors have a number of “badges” on the right bar… supporting things from conventions to groups to whatever. I don’t see this as anything more than another “badge”.

      .. like if the author supports an environmentalist atheist group, or an atheist charity… something you’d slap on your truck as a bumper sticker.

    • sthek says

      Um… as atheists.

      The way I identify myself as a woman. I also happen to be a feminist, but I’m still a woman.

      Or the way I identify myself as employed. I also happen to be employed in a particular job, but I am still employed.

      What I don’t understand is why people can’t just look at this and say to themselves, “OK, so they have something in common with one another. Do I have that thing in common with them? No? Well, I’ll leave them to it, then.”

      It’s so simple, really.

  13. oursally says

    >As for Stalin, he doesn’t fit in any of the subsets previously discussed, and belongs in a whole ‘nuther category, far away from everyone I’ve so far mentioned here.

    Slightly OT: I don’t think I would put Stalin into any set of atheists. Communism is a religion like any other. It has holy books, saints and martyrs, crusades, worship of dead bodies, armies of priests to defend dogma, and persecutes unbelievers and apostates.

    • mynameischeese says

      There is a special term to distinguish things like stalinism from other religions – political religion. That’s an ideology which seeks to mimic religion (ceremony, sacredness, etc) without the actual god.

      I don’t think you can say that communism is a political religion, though, or use stalinism as a stand-in for communism because communism doesn’t always present as a political religion. Communism slots into a variety of other ideologies just as capitalism does.

      But personally, I wouldn’t count Stalin as any type of atheist either, not necessarily because of his politics, but more because he claimed to have personal, one-on-one chitchats with a god.

  14. Onodera1980 says

    I firmly agree with AronRa, which is why I believe A+ should be named Social Atheism or Progressive Atheists. A+ sounds like a take over. It sounds like the next level.

    • sthek says

      Only if you feel threatened. Which would be in your head, because nobody is trying to threaten anyone. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

  15. says

    “It’s like a new civil rights movement, but one completely stripped of religion.”
    There is already something called that. It’s called secular humanism. A civil rights movement that has no religion, by definition.

    • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

      By definition, sure. But there seems to be some disagreement about how sans religion is actually is.

      That said, even if you are 100% correct, so what? Why does there have to be only one -highlander style?

    • says

      I agree that based on that quote–it would be just like Secular Humanism. But I am not motivated to work under the Secular Humanist umbrella, even though I *sincerely* wish them well in, and respect, the good they do.

      My reasoning is that, although they are not religious, they are also not particularly anti-theistic. I understand they can’t be, because their mode of operation is to bring people together to do secular work for social good. They include and partner with members who are theists, because that fits perfectly within their work.

      But I am anti-theistic. And I view theistic religion as one of the problems facing humanity (along with others, such as racism, poverty, spousal abuse, and so on), and the *main one* that concerns me, personally, as an atheist from a Christian background. It could be compared to someone focused on dismantling racism due to a background in a racist environment.

      Having been indoctrinated, one of my biggest issues for me is that indoctrination of children, specifically into basic, standard Christian doctrines, is dehumanizing and, I believe, harmful. The main, and most widespread tenet of Christianity is the doctrine of “salvation.” This can be *quite fairly* described as the teaching that humans are failed, divine experiments that deserve to die as a result of their disobedience to their creator; and, Annihilism (that we all deserve to die) is the “kind” version of the concept. The nasty, conservative version promotes that all humans deserve *eternal torture* after they die, in some sort of hell. All mainstream Christianity holds to this “good news,” which is simply what their word “Gospel” translates to: God loved you so much he was willing to kill his own child for you(what could demonstrate love more than killing your own child, right?) as a human sacrifice in a bloody and brutal execution, for which you are now to blame, since it was required by god to reconcile you to him, because of *your* willful sins. Your own execution, as a reprobate sinner, not being unsullied like Christ, would not have sufficed.

      I view this as not the most pro-human ideology, and one that I think needs to be publicly called out for what it is, and countered as much as possible through education efforts.

      As this is my primary “social justice” focus, working within a Humanist group, where members are actually there with the goal of working together *with* religious people (who support secular projects) on social justice issues, is–let’s say “complicated.” When my primary social project is to dismantle the dehumanizing ideology of some of the people they want to make feel welcome in their efforts, I’m not actually helpful to their cause if I sign up. So, it’s best for me to have a different group wherein I can work on the cause that matters most to me–freeing people’s minds from dehumanizing indoctrination, and openly fighting against the idea that faith (beliefs held without sufficient justification) is a good thing to promote to human beings.

      I don’t know that A+ actually would support this. My point is only that I already know that Humanism can’t–since it would be obviously counter to their methods and purpose. I respect and understand that. But due to my own goals, and how I want to contribute to a better world, I require a socially positive movement where the unavoidable result is going to be that it is unlikely to make any theist feel very welcome–certainly none of the Abrahamic religious variety. And that means it will, simply from a practical standpoint, be made up of atheists exclusively (since there just won’t be many anti-theist theists, I imagine).

      So, my hope is that it won’t be just like Humanism, because I need something very different.

      • says

        Even if secular humanism wasn’t antitheistic, so what?
        Don’t get me wrong, I am a strident antitheist (mostly because I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness), but what would an “antitheist movement” look like? What would they stand for and their goals be? I just don’t see how that can be conceived without it turning into some kind of a hate group or something, as many atheists are not antitheists like us.
        And I also don’t think that Atheism+ would embrace antitheism, at least entirely, much like secular humanism has also not done.

  16. JJLatFtB says

    aronra, I might agree if:

    1) the proponents, including PZ, didn’t equate atheists who prefer NOT to join their “+” activism with being a bad person. To PZ, the “+” is about being a “decent human being”, and to him being a decent human being includes feminism, secular humanism, progressivism, liberalism, and socialism. Clearly, “Atheism+”-ers reject “capitalists”, but why can’t a “capitalist” be a “decent human being”? If the “+” is ambiguously anything that also makes you a decent human being, then anyone who is not a + is a bad human being. I’m willing to bet a large sum of money that there are A+ proponents who do non-decent human being stuff like smoke, drink alcohol, buy pets from pet stores instead of rescuing them from shelters, drink sugary carbonated beverages from plastic bottles, eat fast food, don’t unplug their cellphone charger when done charging, drive cars, work further from home than they can walk or ride a bike, spend money on internet access instead of feeding a hungry child, etc, etc.

    And, 2) if they chose a more descriptive name that also didn’t cause confusion with atheism. Keeping the ambiguous “+”, it would be more accurate to call their movement, “Atheist+ism”. They could still use use the “A+” logo, but it would differentiate it more clearly from the simple lack of theistic belief. I like Atheist Progressivism, Social Justice Atheism, and Atheist Humanism. Obviously an outsider doesn’t get to choose what they call themselves, but they don’t get to choose what outsiders call them or think of their name or their movement. It seems that they’re opposed to things like misogyny in general, not just religious misogyny, but to me, “Atheism+” makes their “decent human being” stuff subordinate and exclusive to atheism.

    • sthek says

      “…but to me, “Atheism+” makes their “decent human being” stuff subordinate and exclusive to atheism.”

      These are the types of arguments that I just find bizarre. It’s almost like people are LOOKING for reasons to be against A+. They’re inventing meaning and intention where none exists, when they’re not trivializing the ACTUAL meaning. “Plus” does not indicate exclusivity or subordination. It indicates “this thing plus that thing”. If you have an apple plus a pear, the pear doesn’t exist only because the apple exists. What if you were an apple farmer who belonged to a larger group of apple farmers? And what if you found out that some of your fellow farmers also grew pears, and maybe some almonds, and blueberries? You might all get together and call yourselves apples+, because while you have a foundational relationship of being apple farmers, you have other shared interests too. It wouldn’t say anything about the value of the apples by themselves, or those who only grew apples. But it would say an awful lot about any apples-only farmers who got upset that there is more to life than apples for some of their members.

      It’s not nearly as complicated as so many seem to be trying so hard to twist it up to be. The mental wrangling that is going on reminds me more and more of apologetics. “I have an assumption or a world view I am comfortable with, and I am willing to abandon logic in order to justify my discomfort and support my assumptions.”

      • SPACKlick says

        I don’t think your example is analogous. Growing fruit is all connected. Lacking a belief in god is not like holding a stance on social justice.

        The things aren’t connected and aren’t the primary focus. Atheism+ is hardly about atheism at all and confuses people outside of our subgroup about the meaning of the original label.

        I have no problem with Plussers wanting to band together on social issues, but I do object to them making a label I use for myself even less clear to the outsider.

        • sthek says

          Oh, so it’s not the social justice you have an issue with, it’s how inconvenient the label might be to your personal agenda that you object to? Silly me. Like atheism and humanism and secularism and new atheism and libertarian atheism and all the other subsections of atheism haven’t already muddied the waters for any purists out there? Like one more is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back? The “atheist movement” can handle 26 different subgroups, but not 27?

          Give me a fucking break. Please.

          • SPACKlick says

            “it’s how inconvenient the label might be to your personal agenda that you object to?”
            Damn straight, my entire objection is PR based. I think the label is bad for atheism as a whole because of the increased confusion and I think the tactics used in some of the major forums where Atheism+ is growing make it seem incredibly militant to other atheists who happen not to share some social values.

            “Like atheism and humanism and secularism and new atheism and libertarian atheism and all the other subsections of atheism haven’t already muddied the waters for any purists out there?”
            They haven’t Humanism and Secularism are different words with clearly defined boundaries. New atheism I think was a PR gaffe again, and I wasn’t a big fan of the label even though I supported the activism behind it. Libertarian atheism is a great version of labelling because it clearly indicates the overlap of two well understood groups.

        • Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

          I guess you have no problem then, unless you consider yourself part of A+.
          The label YOU apparently have is ‘atheist’.
          The label I have is ‘A+’.
          There’s a difference.
          Why you can’t understand that is beyond me.
          One says “I don’t believe in god.”
          The other says “I don’t believe in god PLUS I’m interested in progressive social justice”.

          Where’s the confusion?

          • SPACKlick says

            The confusion comes from the following

            1) “I’m an atheist, your an atheist who cares about social justice, therefore I don’t care about social justice” is implied by your definition.
            2) Atheism+ sounds, looks and parses to most people who aren’t overly fussed about the ideologies like Atheism’n’stuff, but since the stuff isn’t important enough to name, they will associate the advocacy of A+ with advocacy of Atheism.

            Seriously, have you never had to have the “Atheism is not an ideology, it’s not a set of beliefs, it’s not a belief it’s a lack of belief” discussion? Don’t you think this is going to make that harder?

          • me says

            He (or maybe she?) doesn’t like our name. And somehow feels like that’s more important than our right to call ourselves whatever we want.

            Or at least, that’s the approach he’s taking with this particular post. Reading his other posts, it’s clear that it’s about more than the name. He feels that his goals are threatened and encroached upon. Surprise.

          • SPACKlick says

            “He (or maybe she?) doesn’t like our name. And somehow feels like that’s more important than our right to call ourselves whatever we want.”
            For future reference, “He”. You have a right to refer to yourself as whatever you like, I have a right to object and refer to you as anything else. If I could think of a better name I thought both sides would like I’d use it constantly.

            “Reading his other posts, it’s clear that it’s about more than the name.”
            Even in this chain of posts I’ve said it’s about more than the name, it’s about the name and it’s about the tactics/attitude.

            “He feels that his goals are threatened and encroached upon. Surprise.”
            This is kind of where I start to object tactically.
            Where have I implied that ANY of my goals are encroached upon by the A+ movement? What goals have I suggested are encroached upon?

            My goals are an increase in scepticism across the board, a reduction in child abuse, greater social provision for the least well off. None of these are affected by the A+ Agenda (most of which I agree or nearly agree with by the way)

          • TByte says

            Cool.
            Then if Atheism+ is “Atheism plus social justice” then we non-A+ folks should start a movement that is “Atheism plus social justice plus rational fact-based discourse”.
            And we can call it A++.
            No confusion there.

      • JJLatFtB says

        There may be a problem among the apple farmers if there was an informal association of apple farmers and now a new group forms calling themselves “Apple Farming+” because in addition to farming apples THEY are “decent human beings” because they also farm good fruit. Mind you, the apple farmers who are NOT in the “AF+” association may also farm the other kinds of fruit, but they simply wish to call themselves or maybe be activists for “apple farmers” without being mistaken for “AF+” by non-apple farmers or being called old white men, racist, misogynist, rape-culture advocates by “AF+” members. So yah, maybe some apple farmers would like the Apple Farming+ people to call themselves a more descriptive name that would also avoid confusion with apple farmers who choose not align explicitly with the farming of the other fruit.

      • JJLatFtB says

        “Plus” does not indicate exclusivity or subordination. It indicates “this thing plus that thing”. If you have an apple plus a pear, the pear doesn’t exist only because the apple exists.

        I disagree with this part of the analogy. I think the suffixed “+” makes the “+” the less important part. I’m reminded of “Bed, Bath, and Beyond”, “Tires Plus”, and “Beverages and More”. What is the most important part of these businesses and what parts are secondary, or subordinate? If the name was something like, “Tires + Beverages”, then maybe both would appear to be coequal. What if a business actually HAD a dual equal focus on tires and beverages but called itself just “Tires Plus”?

    • says

      I was unaware that atheism+ was completely anti capitalism.

      One does not need to be completely anti-free market to suggest that we have a certain amount of regulation of corporations to promote social well being.

      Indeed some would argue that that a certain amount of regulation is needed to keep the market free, otherwise corporations end up with too much power.

      Even Keynes believed in a certain amount of regulation and I don’t think it would make since to say he wasn’t a capitalist. The terms Capitalist, socialist and communist all have somewhat vague meanings depending on how widely one defines the ideas.

      • JJLatFtB says

        Keynesian economics is a milder form of control of markets, but it is not capitalism and it’s not simple regulation of corporations. Free markets naturally wax and wane and some people refuse to accept that fact, so they seek means to defy it. Socialism may be an extreme means of market control on the same side with Keynes.

        My point is that PZ includes socialism as a component of “being a decent human being” and Atheism+. Whether his socialism is the mild variety of Keynes or a more extreme form doesn’t matter. It precludes the possibility that a laissez faire capitalist could also be a “decent human being”.

        So that leads to the question, where does their “skepticism” lead them when applied to economic systems? Does it lead to Keynes or to State socialism or beyond? Take 2 Atheism+ advocates; one who thinks Keynes is the maximum appropriate control of markets and one who thinks State socialism is necessary. Which one is the more “decent human being”? Are there degrees of “decentness” or are they both equally decent because they at least object to a “market economy”?

        • codemonkey says

          It precludes the possibility that a laissez faire capitalist could also be a “decent human being”.

          That sounds about right. You may have good intentions, but yours are paving a road to hell (on Earth).

          How do we tell when one person is more of a “decent human being” than another? For a start, we can look at the evidence, and see that laissez-faire leads to wage slavery, classism, and oligarchic control of society.

          Let me know when you acknowledge the existence of positive externalities and freerider problems, and when you acknowledge that maybe the government should do something about some problems in that category – because nothing else will.

          • JJLatFtB says

            codemonkey,

            ["Atheism+ precludes the possibility that a laissez faire capitalist could also be a 'decent human being'"] sounds about right. You may have good intentions, but yours are paving a road to hell (on Earth).

            So, if this capitalist has “good intentions”, but those intentions naturally lead to wage slavery, classism, and oligarchy, that capitalist must be supremely naive or he must think those natural consequences are actually good things? Either way, he is not a “decent human being” because it is not a matter of opinion, it is scientific fact that that economic system is worse than other economic systems where individual rights are restricted?

            How do we tell when one person is more of a “decent human being” than another? For a start, we can look at the evidence, and see that laissez-faire leads to [bad things].

            So, on the spectrum of “decent human being”, is a laissez faire capitalist the “least decent human being”? And does that mean that the farther from laissez faire you get, the more “decent human being” you become?

            Let me know when you acknowledge the existence of positive externalities and freerider problems, and when you acknowledge that maybe the government should do something about some problems in that category – because nothing else will.

            First, can you give me some examples of the “positive externalities” and “freerider problems” about which only a government can and will do something? Second, does that sentence imply that business owners tend to seek those problems and that individuals and groups of individuals are mostly incapable of solving those problems without the use of force?

          • codemonkey says

            First, can you give me some examples of the “positive externalities” and “freerider problems” about which only a government can and will do something? Second, does that sentence imply that business owners tend to seek those problems and that individuals and groups of individuals are mostly incapable of solving those problems without the use of force?

            I have many refutations of the idiocy of laissez-faire. Still, let’s stick with an iconic example. In your own words, what is a problem where “individuals and groups of individuals are mostly incapable of solving those problems without the use of force?” Vaccines. There is no shared public property to make private (unless you’re going to descend into some weird slavery thing). There are no possible civil suits either. Can you imagine “Your honor, the defendant didn’t get immunized, and that’s why I got polio”? The very idea is anathema to the separation of positive and negative liberties of laissez-faire and libertarianism.

            There is an individual incentive to not get a vaccine – it takes time, money, carries some (very small) risks, and as long as everyone else gets vaccinated, you gain all of the benefits without any of the costs. (See herd immunity.)

            In this case, the only solution is the use of force. Now, I’m not talking forcing vaccines at gunpoint, but I am talking about the use of force known as taxes to create minor incentives to take vaccines.

            Once we finish with this – that is once you admit that we need government invention, government force, to ensure proper public vaccinations, and that we ought to do this – then we can move on to the other objections against laissez-faire.

          • JJLatFtB says

            Before I continue, I should tell you that I am NOT a laissez faire capitalist. I however believe that a laissez faire capitalist can also be a decent human being, just as much as an extreme socialist can be. But…

            “Vaccines” is an “iconic example” of a positive externality that only a government could achieve? I suppose only a government could “legally” force (yes at gunpoint) it on an individual. But clearly there are non-violent means to achieve high vaccination levels… Many companies on their own require and enforce a certain level of educational achievement or require employees to abstain from certain drugs. If vaccines simply decreased absenteeism, many employers would consider making it a prerequisite. Educational institutions may mandate vaccinations from attendees to protect their other attendees and employees. “You have the liberty to not get vaccinated, but if you make that choice I will exercise my liberty to not employ you.”

          • codemonkey says

            Before I continue, I should tell you that I am NOT a laissez faire capitalist. I however believe that a laissez faire capitalist can also be a decent human being, just as much as an extreme socialist can be. But…

            Genuinely being ignorant is an acceptable excuse. After being educated and disagreeing with the evidence means that you are a horrible person.

            But clearly there are non-violent means to achieve high vaccination levels… Many companies on their own require and enforce a certain level of educational achievement or require employees to abstain from certain drugs. If vaccines simply decreased absenteeism, many employers would consider making it a prerequisite.

            Except it wouldn’t. You have bought into the kool aid of “free markets solve all”. You are displaying a complete and utter lack of understanding of any part of this conversation. I again suggest you educate yourself about a thing called “herd immunity”. Short version: A company gains no benefit by being first to require vaccination, and a company loses nothing in the hypothetical world of everyone requires vaccinations if they stop requiring vaccinations. The situation is unstable and will quickly devolve to no vaccinations. A sober look at the wikipedia page on “externalities” and “free rider problems” would probably be a good idea too.

            You are acting no different than a creationist who dismisses evolution without understanding evolution at all. As a related example, see “The Forst of Friendship” in Dawkin’s book “The Greatest Show On Earth” as an example of an unstable equilibrium which is quite analogous to this fantasy of yours how vaccinations work.

            Please come back to me after bothering to educate yourself at all.

          • JJLatFtB says

            Genuinely being ignorant is an acceptable excuse. After being educated and disagreeing with the evidence means that you are a horrible person.

            I didn’t say I was “ignorant” of ANY economic theory or philosophy. I said I personally am not a laissez faire capitalist. I don’t think it’s the best system for our society or its continued rapid advancement. The only “education” I sought was for a better understanding of your opinion. You had already called laissez faire capitalism “idiocy” so I had a general awareness. If I may proffer one correction: you did not provide “evidence” to support your assertions regarding that economic system, rather you proposed “vaccines” as a “hypothetical example”. You speculated why a totally free market economy might not place high enough value on vaccinations to obtain an adequate market penetration to achieve a herd immunity threshold. You also speculated that it might be difficult to take legal action against a non-vaccinated person for spreading a preventable disease. Since we have no real world example (available vaccines with demonstrable effective protection and insignificant adverse side-effects and absolute liberty to abstain) from which to turn your hypothesis into a theory, this is all just conjecture. Oops, except that there is no law requiring adults to be vaccinated and the laws requiring children to be vaccinated are merely prerequisites for attending public (maybe private?) schools. So in a sense, laws requiring vaccination are voluntary.

            Oh, now the mere suggestion that individuals and companies might do something that benefits themselves and has a benefit to the rest of society makes me a “horrible person”.

            I am familiar with and understand the concepts of “herd immunity”, “externalities”, and “free rider problem”. In general, I’m not looking for further education on these subjects. When I ask you to cite examples, I’m trying to gain an understanding of what they mean to you and how they apply to your understanding of the various economic systems. Your opinions and views may shape mine even if I disagree entirely and I’ll probably even learn something, but that’s beside the point. Many economic theorists would say that the “free rider problem” is more of a problem in systems that create larger common properties from which free riders can draw without contributing.

            A company gains no benefit by being first to require vaccination

            It’s not a benefit to be the only business still fully operational in the midst of a flu outbreak, or suffer less absenteeism due to mumps?

            The situation is unstable and will quickly devolve to no vaccinations.

            So in your hypothetical laissez faire world, the vast majority of people and especially business owners have no desire to do what is best for the community, even if it is also beneficial to them. If that’s the kind of scary fantasy that some people create when they conceptualize about individual liberty I can certainly understand why they prefer to restrict freedom and leave important decisions to the smart people who know what’s best for us.

            You are acting no different than a creationist who dismisses evolution without understanding evolution at all.

            I disagree. First, I haven’t dismissed anything. All I’ve said is that disagreeing with someone over an economic system preference doesn’t make them a less “decent human being”.

            [Dawkins' book reference] as an example of an unstable equilibrium which is quite analogous to this fantasy of yours how vaccinations work.

            I never described how I thought vaccines do work or how I thought they should or would work. I presented a hypothesis where in individuals might encourage other individuals to get vaccinated without government force.

          • codemonkey says

            You speculated why a totally free market economy might not place high enough value on vaccinations to obtain an adequate market penetration to achieve a herd immunity threshold. You also speculated that it might be difficult to take legal action against a non-vaccinated person for spreading a preventable disease. Since we have no real world example

            Annoying contrarianism without merit.

            So in a sense, laws requiring vaccination are voluntary.

            Straw man fallacy that I would want “mandatory vaccinations”. Also, factual mistake: you imply all vaccinations in the US are voluntary. Some US states have truancy laws, require without exception vaccines for public school attendance. Thus there is an effective hard requirement for poor people to give vaccines to their kids – unless you think it’s their fault that they don’t work hard enough and it’s their fault they’re poor?

            There’s another fallacy / factual error here too, some magic bright line between “incentive” and “mandatory”. There is no such thing. Because there are poor people, they have to decide between essentials like food, a home, schooling for their kids, doctors visits, and complying with a fine. I am under no illusion that most government “incentives” are effectively mandates for the poor, and I do not “blame” the poor for being poor.

            Oh, now the mere suggestion that individuals and companies might do something that benefits themselves and has a benefit to the rest of society makes me a “horrible person”.

            Strawman, and purposeful at that.

            A company gains no benefit by being first to require vaccination

            It’s not a benefit to be the only business still fully operational in the midst of a flu outbreak, or suffer less absenteeism due to mumps?

            So in your hypothetical laissez faire world, the vast majority of people and especially business owners have no desire to do what is best for the community, even if it is also beneficial to them.

            I dispute your mistaken factual claims. I’m not talking flu vaccines. I’m talking stuff like the polio vaccine. Polio, a childhood disease. There is no value for a company to require its employees take the vaccine.

            Even still, you haven’t even responded to the second part of the argument. Even granting that there is substantial benefit to individual vaccination, you haven’t made a rationalization how we will ever reach herd immunity, and thereby eradicate the disease.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity
            Apparently you need 80% to 86% of the population immunized to eradicate polio. So, let’s say we’re 1% shy of that. Why should a business do it? From the business’s calculus, if they just wait long enough for another business to do it, then they reap all the benefits without paying any of the costs. Thus, by doing it now, they pay a cost their competitors do not, putting them at an economic disadvantage. Then follow this argument back to 2% away from herd immunity, and 3%, and so on. If there is some benefit of vaccination without herd immunity, we will expect that we will reach a quasi-stable equilibrium which is greater than 0%, and less than the herd immunity threshold. This is the freerider problem, and I hope that you will get it through your thick skull this time.

          • JJLatFtB says

            Annoying contrarianism without merit.

            Sorry. I assumed you were speculating. If you were asserting that information as fact I’m afraid I’ll have to ask for actual evidence.

            Straw man fallacy that I would want “mandatory vaccinations”.

            It may be if I had said so. Did I say so? I think I implied that we can’t test what I surmised was your theory that without some sort of government involvement, the incentive to get vaccinated isn’t adequate to achieve adequate vaccination rates. I’ll certainly concede that without government force of some kind, vaccination rates could not reach the level we currently see. Did I mischaracterize your theory?

            you imply all vaccinations in the US are voluntary.

            In fact, they may be. I don’t know all state laws on the subject, so I’m speaking in general terms… 1) Would you agree that, to your knowledge, adults have no basic vaccination requirements? 2) Would you agree that, to your knowledge, childhood vaccination requirements involve only attending schools, and probably only public schools?

            Thus there is an effective hard requirement for poor people to give vaccines to their kids

            I’ll stipulate that the number of poor families who send their children to private schools is so low that it’s not worth bickering over, so yes, especially for the poor, vaccinations are a legal requirement. But, there are still legal loopholes.

            Strawman, and purposeful at that.

            You’re right. That was a strawman. You said, “After being educated and disagreeing with the evidence” made me a “horrible person”. I should have just explained that you hadn’t educated me because you hadn’t shown me any evidence. Just opinion and conjecture.

            I dispute your mistaken factual claims. I’m not talking flu vaccines. I’m talking stuff like the polio vaccine. Polio, a childhood disease. There is no value for a company to require its employees take the vaccine.

            Ohhh… You just cited “vaccines” as an “iconic example”. Later on, you made a passing reference to polio with, “Can you imagine ‘Your honor, the defendant didn’t get immunized, and that’s why I got polio‘?” Wasn’t there a strong personal incentive for parents to vaccinate their children against polio? Wouldn’t there also be a strong business incentive for private institutions like private schools, child care facilities, hospitals, and businesses that cater to children to require polio vaccinations?

            From the business’s calculus, if they just wait long enough for another business to do it, then they reap all the benefits without paying any of the costs.

            No. “Requiring” certain vaccinations costs the business practically zero. “Providing” vaccinations may have some costs that a business is unwilling or even unable to absorb. Many businesses around the country today, provide free flu shots to their employees. Many companies install hand sanitizer stations in the building for employees to use to slow transmission rates. There is certainly no law (at least to my knowledge) requiring the installation of such facilities and yet companies do it. What is benefit to the business? They don’t put it on their company brochure or job ads, “We offer medical, dental, and vision coverage, 401K retirement plans with 30% matching, flexible work hours, and on-site hand sanitizers.” On the business’s calculus, it is an absolute money loser. And yet…

            This is the freerider problem, and I hope that you will get it through your thick skull this time.

            If it is, it’s a horrible example. And, once again, I never said that I disagree with the government pressuring, the way it currently does, parents to vaccinate their children. Even though I think vaccines is bad example to argue, I’m just saying that a person who thinks vaccines should be absolutely voluntary isn’t, by that measure alone, a “horrible person” and could even be a “decent human being”.

          • codemonkey says

            No. “Requiring” certain vaccinations costs the business practically zero. “Providing” vaccinations may have some costs that a business is unwilling or even unable to absorb.

            False. Requiring vaccines limits the possible workforce. It will have a demonstrable negative impact. A business that requires vaccines of its future employees can be seen in the prospective employee’s eyes as having a fine to get a job.

            Many businesses around the country today, provide free flu shots to their employees.

            Bad example. Flu vaccines are not a case of “true” vaccines. We’re not going towards eradication of horrible diseases like smallpox and polio. The vaccine changes year to year, and herd immunity arguments (AFAIK?) are not a part of the justification of flue vaccines. I’m not counting that as part of my argument. Sorry for the confusion.

            Many companies install hand sanitizer stations in the building for employees to use to slow transmission rates.

            Entirely unrelated example. There is no herd immunity concerns.

            If it is, it’s a horrible example.

            You haven’t actually responded to the argument yet. Please explain how we will reach herd immunity with only individual companies looking out for their own self interests, given the interest to freeride, as described in my earlier post. We can’t continue in the debunking of laissez-faire until you admit the mere existence of freerider problems, and you haven’t done that yet. I am waiting for the explicit admission that if there is no government interference (AKA the use of force, such as taxes, slight as the use of force may be), then we will likely never reach herd immunity vaccination rates. In other words, I’m waiting for the explicit admission that there are problems which can only be solved by (government) force, and that there are such problems which we want to use (government) force to solve.

            Which, coincidentally, is itself an admission of the failure of laissez-faire policies. Of course, I have more examples and arguments than merely vaccines. However, let’s stick to this one first.

          • JJLatFtB says

            Requiring vaccines limits the possible workforce. It will have a demonstrable negative impact.

            True, it would limit the potential workforce to those less likely to miss work due to preventable disease and less likely to introduce contagious disease to your existing workforce. I’m not sure the negative impact would be all that severe. As a businessman, I would consider such a mandate.

            A business that requires vaccines of its future employees can be seen in the prospective employee’s eyes as having a fine to get a job.

            So, in the nightmare world you conjure, is it a “fine” when an employer requires a high school diploma or equivalent?

            Flu vaccines are not a case of “true” vaccines. [because] The vaccine changes year to year, and herd immunity arguments (AFAIK?) are not a part of the justification of flue vaccines.

            Fine. We’ll restrict your example further to only diseases that can be eradicated by vaccines. But, to clarify, influenza spread absolutely is inhibited by the herd immunity effect.

            [Employer provided hand santizers are an] Entirely unrelated example. There is no herd immunity concerns.

            Oh come on! You raised vaccines as an example of an individual and societal beneficial investment that individuals and businesses would tend to avoid without government intervention. I disagree that it is a useful example because we can’t test it (or at least you and I haven’t presented evidence that it’s been tested). I presented hand sanitizers as a counter example because it isn’t mandated by law so practically 100% of the installed base is voluntary with no direct benefit to the bottom line of the business. In practical terms, hand sanitizers DO disrupt the chains of infection for certain contagious diseases and so might be good examples in the herd immunity effect discussion. Because the use of hand sanitizers and proper hand washing isn’t widespread enough, the threshold for herd immunity to those contagious diseases has not been met. But, I’m not an expert in the field, so I don’t want to get off track.

            Please explain how we will reach herd immunity with only individual companies looking out for their own self interests, given the interest to freeride, as described in my earlier post.

            First, I don’t think you’ve made your case that the rate of freeriders would prevent herd immunity against polio outbreaks. Second, companies aren’t the only ones looking out for their own self interest. Individuals themselves have a separate self interest that will add to the employer self interest. Third, Herd immunity does not assure individual protection, so it’s not great protection for individuals or individual employers. Immunization is good for the individual. Herd immunity is good for the herd. Freeriders have no individual protection. Fourth, I didn’t make a claim that herd immunity would be achieved with only individual companies looking out for their own self interest.

            We can’t continue in the debunking of laissez-faire until you admit the mere existence of freerider problems, and you haven’t done that yet.

            Done. I hereby admit, as they would in ALL other economic systems, freeriders would likewise exist in a laissez faire economy, AND that freeriders are predominantly a problem.

            BUT, we aren’t “debunking” laissez faire. We’re arguing why advocating such a system makes someone not a “decent human being”.

            I am waiting for the explicit admission that if there is no government interference (AKA the use of force, such as taxes, slight as the use of force may be), then we will likely never reach herd immunity vaccination rates.

            You can’t get that admission from me without some pretty good evidence. I’ll admit it’s possible that we might not reach herd immunity thresholds without government interference, but I haven’t seen evidence that it’s improbable. Again, to qualify as a “decent human being”, must I accept “the likelihood of never reaching herd immunity without government interference” claim without significant evidence?

            I’m waiting for the explicit admission that there are problems which can only be solved by (government) force, and that there are such problems which we want to use (government) force to solve.

            Well, I guess that’s almost axiomatic for anyone who rejects all-out anarchy, which I do. I’m not an anarchist. Laissez faire is not anarchy. Libertarians (generally) are not anarchists. However, I would say that even an anarchist could be a “decent human being”.

            Which, coincidentally, is itself an admission of the failure of laissez-faire policies.

            No. Rejecting laissez faire policies is an admission that laissez faire policies aren’t the best means to achieve one’s desired goals. BUT, even if it was an admission as you described, an advocate of such a system could STILL be a “decent human being”.

          • codemonkey says

            Done. I hereby admit, as they would in ALL other economic systems, freeriders would likewise exist in a laissez faire economy, AND that freeriders are predominantly a problem.

            BUT, we aren’t “debunking” laissez faire. We’re arguing why advocating such a system makes someone not a “decent human being”.

            Good! We’re getting somewhere.

            If you accept that fact of economics, and you advocate a system of economics that disallows government interference, full knowing that this will result in a less happy, less materially wealthy, less free, population, then you are not a decent human being.

          • JJLatFtB says

            If you accept that fact of economics, and you advocate a system of economics that disallows government interference, full knowing that this will result in a less happy, less materially wealthy, less free, population, then you are not a decent human being.

            Advocates of laissez faire would not concede. You’re implying that laissez faire does not have its own means of dealing with free riders. Laissez faire is not anarchy, so it does not “disallow government interference”. In addition, you would have to show that government is the better way to deal with those free riders. You have to show that the negative impact of these free riders is so great that it offsets the negative impact of the use of government force to restrict individual liberty. Libertarians would argue that laissez faire results in fewer and less harm from free riders. I would argue that economic systems with higher levels of government interference result in greater opportunity for free riders, so if you advocate for a system that encourages free riders and you think free riders are such a negative, then by your definition, you must not be a decent human being.

          • codemonkey says

            so if you advocate for a system that encourages free riders and you think free riders are such a negative, then by your definition, you must not be a decent human being.

            If you add the word “knowingly” in there, then correct.

            Yes, this is a debate over facts. My initial post was short, too short, and missed important clarifications. The full version is “If you advocate laissez faire, and you understand that this policy will result in a less free, less materially wealthy, less happy population, then you are a horrible human being”. Actually, I can make it even more general: “If you advocate any policy, and you understand that the policy will result in a less free, less materially wealthy, less happy population, then you are a horrible human being”.

            You still seem convinced that there remains the possibility of intelligently saying laissez-faire might work for everything. Thus, you didn’t actually concede that point earlier, which I asked you to concede. So, we’re back to vaccines. Do you dispute the material fact that we’ll never reach herd immunity do the freerider problem short of government intervention? Once you accept that, would you be for, neutral, or against government intervention for vaccines? There’s only one acceptable answer to that second question if you want to be a decent human being – your libertarian wanking about “the loss of liberty might be buffer than eradicating polio” be damned.

          • codemonkey says

            your libertarian wanking about “the loss of liberty might be more important than than eradicating polio” be damned.

            Ack, fixed.

          • JJLatFtB says

            “If you advocate any policy, and you understand that the policy will result in a less free, less materially wealthy, less happy population, then you are a horrible human being”

            Those goal posts just keep shifting to and fro. Does THIS change imply that you equate “free riders” with “less free, less materially wealthy, less happy population”? If so, there’s really only one system that can eliminate free riders, despotic totalitarianism. Clearly such a system does not maximize freedom, so it doesn’t seem to be desirable. All other systems are bound to have free riders. So, for which system would a “decent human being” advocate? (Don’t be vague and say something like, “One that does x”)

            You still seem convinced that there remains the possibility of intelligently saying laissez-faire might work for everything.

            You just make stuff up as you go along, don’t you. I think you need to learn what “laissez faire” actually means. Beyond that, “work for everything” is way more extreme than anything I’ve remotely suggested.

            Do you dispute the material fact that we’ll never reach herd immunity do the freerider problem short of government intervention?

            One would be a fool not to dispute it. You have not presented any evidence supporting such an extreme assertion. But again, you’ve shifted another goal post. Now it is a “material fact” and before it was “we will LIKELY [emphasis added] never reach herd immunity”. Just because you never presented any evidence to support the “likelihood”, that doesn’t automatically turn it into a “material fact”.

            Let’s speculate for a moment that you CAN present evidence that herd immunity requires government intervention, it wouldn’t change anything. As I said before, laissez faire is not anarchy and it does allow for government intervention.

            In addition to the evidence for your “material fact” claim, you need to provide evidence that the negative effects of the government intervention don’t outweigh the gains.

            So, let’s say you prove the “material fact” claim and show that the gains outweigh the negative effects of government intervention, once polio is eradicated does the government get to keep its new power and authority permanently or do they somehow restore it to the people?

          • codemonkey says

            This is insane. I have done no goal post moving. It has been, and always has been about, how laissez faire / libertarianism is demonstrably a worse system of economic management because of many example, such as free riders. Sure, whatever, continue to promulgate demonstrably false economic facts which do more harm than good when you should know better. You should know better than to leave god damned everything to the markets, and you should know that some problems can only be solved by the government. I will call you not a decent human being, and that about ends this conversation.

          • JJLatFtB says

            I have done no goal post moving.

            - “Vaccines” became “only vaccines for eradicable diseases like polio”.

            - “Free riders” became “less free, less materially wealthy, less happy population”.

            - “Likelihood” became “material fact”

            It has been, and always has been about, how laissez faire / libertarianism is demonstrably a worse system of economic management because of many example, such as free riders.

            You have a strange understanding of “demonstrably”. You haven’t even present evidence that suggests laissez faire is a “worse” system for ANY reason. Since all other systems also have free riders, you have to present evidence that laissez faire would have more free riders than some other system. You have to present evidence that the free riders in a laissez faire system offset all the advantages of such a system. You’ve made claims and demanded that I accept them without reason (hey, that sounds eerily similar to god claims)

            …continue to promulgate demonstrably false economic facts…

            I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’ve made a single factual economic claim in this thread. I could be wrong.

            You should know better than to leave god damned everything to the markets, and you should know that some problems can only be solved by the government.

            Since I’ve repeatedly declared that I am NOT an anarchist, it’s self-evident that I don’t propose what you claim I do.

            I will call you not a decent human being, and that about ends this conversation.

            So a final insult, a unilateral declaration of victory, and you’re done? By willpower alone, you’ve transmuted your hypotheses and assertions into demonstrable material facts? Not even an attempt to present evidence to support your claims?

  17. A Hermit (that's "A" with a "plus") says

    A very reasonable post Aron. I’m frankly astonished (and a bit disheartened) by the angry, negative response to Jen McCreight’s original idea …that some of us are happy to atheists PLUS feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT rights, etc.

    It’ seems the negative reaction has a lot more to do with where the idea originated, here on FtB, than with the idea itself…

  18. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    It would be the poster which implied that no decent human being hates and/or fears black people, jews, gays/lesbians or women. The apparent transgression against A+ ideology was that they added “men” at the bottom of the list.

    Check out the “hate speech” poster for yourself:

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/portal/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/mens-rights-human-rights.pdf

    What a stupid poster.
    They’re trying to get people to ask whether or not they hate men. Yeah, because men are suffering soooooooooo much (in the way that MRA’s believe).

    Yeah, I’d be happy to tear down that ridiculous poster too.

    • TByte says

      “They’re trying to get people to ask whether or not they hate men. Yeah, because men are suffering soooooooooo much (in the way that MRA’s believe).”
      If women committed suicide at four times the rate of men, would that be a valid evidence of suffering?
      If women received one third the health care spending that men receive, would that be evidence of suffering?
      If women only got custody of their children 10% of the time, would that be evidence of suffering?
      If women were required to register for selective service and men were not, would that be evidence of discrimination?
      If women received harsher sentencing than men in criminal courts, would that be evidence of discrimination?
      If women represented a disproportionately small percentage of college students, would that be evidence of discrimination?
      If our media constantly portrayed women as stupid and thuggish, would that be evidence of discrimination?
      How about some arguments and discussion rather than just be dismissive of people that raise genuine issues and concerns? That’s the hypocrisy of the Atheism+ group.

      • smhll says

        If women represented a disproportionately small percentage of college students, would that be evidence of discrimination?

        Did you care about this terrible miscarriage of “justice” 15-20 years ago when the genders were reversed? And if you weren’t old enough to be socially concerned back then, then ask one of your older friends who is a critic of feminism. I’d like to know the answer for this odd hypocrisy.

        • TByte says

          smhll:
          Yes, I did care about that 15-20 years ago. No hypocrisy here. Now, do you have any serious questions?

          Melby:
          Glad to hear that you agree there is systemic discrimination against men in western society, and that the issued pursued by MRA groups are valid concerns.
          Now, try convincing Tony •King of the Hellmouth•, because my question was addressed to him.

          Melby (again):
          The reason I continue to interact with you is because you continue to claim that feminism is egalitarian and pursues an agenda of gender equality, when in fact that is demonstrably false. Feminism, as a movement, actively seeks to preserve privileges and advantages that women have in society. As if that weren’t bad enough, part of its strategy for accomplishing this and denying men equal rights is to demonize men.
          So, I will continue to state that “Feminism Sucks: (your words, not mine), until such time as somebody can actually counter my arguments rather than just dismissing me as an “MRA” As if seeking rights for any group in society is some sort of slur.
          Honestly, anybody who uses the MRA term as a pejoritive has lost any grounds to claim they seek gender equality.

          • says

            Honestly, anybody who uses the [feminism] term as a pejoritive has lost any grounds to claim they seek gender equality.

            Right back at you TByte.

            I agree with you that “MRA” should not be used the way that many in this “parts” use it, because to many it’s a blanket term that encompasses a WIDE range (and many times mutually exclusive range) of ideas and values concerning gender-relations and masculinity.

            I would rather (as I have said many times before) use more descriptive terms such as “anti-feminism” or “male supremacy” to discuss the groups that many people are discussing when they say “MRA”.

            Conversely, I suspect that you would gain more traction with your ideas if you used the phrase “female-specific advocacy” instead of redefining “feminism” to mean that.

      • says

        If women committed suicide at four times the rate of men, would that be a valid evidence of suffering?

        Yes.

        If women received one third the health care spending that men receive, would that be evidence of suffering?

        Yes – because that wouldn’t make sense considering that most men don’t have babies.

        If women only got custody of their children 10% of the time, would that be evidence of suffering?

        Yes – especially considering how many men do not seek custody.

        If women were required to register for selective service and men were not, would that be evidence of discrimination?

        Yes.

        If women received harsher sentencing than men in criminal courts, would that be evidence of discrimination?

        Yes.

        If women represented a disproportionately small percentage of college students, would that be evidence of discrimination?

        Yes – especially since more women are applying and women (on average) do better academically.

        If our media constantly portrayed women as stupid and thuggish, would that be evidence of discrimination?

        Yes. (Not discrimination precisely, but evidence of toxic social norms.)

        How about some arguments and discussion rather than just be dismissive of people that raise genuine issues and concerns? That’s the hypocrisy of the Atheism+ group.

        Look – the reason I, personally, don’t want to interact with you on a regular basis is because your OPENER is “feminism sucks” – and when I take the time and energy to have a conversation about something specific with you with actually *evidence* – your CLOSER is “feminism sucks”.

        I suspect that the reasons other people dismiss you as well may be similar. Your not going to win any arguments when your constantly trying to argue that “feminism sucks”.

        You might win an argument about whether or not custody laws should be gender-neutral in all states, or that certain male media tropes are psychologically caustic to boys, or that a specific stance of a feminist organization is butts.

        However, if you want to spend your time fighting monolithic vague enemies that you have projected a definition onto, your sort of arguing with yourself. Also, why would anyone that identifies in a way that you have marked as an enemy subject to categorical insults be inclined to give you a great deal of their time and energy?

      • TByte says

        Tony •King of the Hellmouth•: You haven’t gotten around to answering my question yet? Or does this mean that you have been convinced that men are indeed subject to a great deal of discrimination in western society?

    • says

      I don’t believe in taking down posters (unless they are hung up in an area that they shouldn’t be).

      That sort of tactic goes against the whole free-market place of ideas concept.

      I can understand why someone might find it offensive though, due to the false equivalence aspect.

  19. says

    @SPACKlick, I stand corrected about you thinking that A+ was made up of rabid feminists rather than that’s what the hype made you think it consists of.

    Also unfamiliar with nested threads. So I guess after a certain point you don’t get to “reply” to comments anymore.

  20. says

    @Shockna (no reply button)

    It’s “sinister-sounding” to have a special forum for entry level questions on a subject most people know next to nothing about

    I don’t actually think many of these things are entry level, it seems to have just been unilaterally decided that we can presume certain things to be true or irrelevant when the debate is still very much alive

    Strawman is in bold. Not all inequalities can be attributed to patriarchy, that much is obvious, and no feminist I’ve ever met says that. Patriarchy as we experience it explains inequalities specifically related to gender roles and sexuality.

    Sorry, that was my fault. I had meant every inequality related to gender (and i am using ‘gender’ to include innate + cultural factors, not cultural/learned factors alone, just to make that explicitly clear).
    But my point still stands. Are you suggesting that in a matriarchy motherhood would not still be valued over fatherhood or that women would have traditionally done most front line fighting? These inequalities, amongst others, may very well be ripe for addressing but I see them (and all the discrimination that results) as social conditions that would arise whatever sex held the status positions in society.
    Obviously, on the back of this, I’d need to be chucked back into the ‘education forum’ for having a viewpoint that could just conceivably lead to a debate over something more significant than which hair to split.

    [citation needed]

    look at the top posting by ‘ericj’ on this page:
    http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=643&start=50

    the comment also provides an example of the mantra that ‘sexism’ can only apply one way, in response to your

    No, seriously, I’ve -never- seen any feminist claim that sexism is intrinsically and exclusively misogyny.

    On another thread here someone ‘schooled’ me in the term thus:

    Short definition: Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination. Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class (see male privilege), an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power. Thus feminists reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power that men have.
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

    Quite why they thought i would find a link to a specifically feminist site i have no idea. i would no more take their word for it (bereft as it is of references and citations) than I would an MRA site! But again, if you don’t like this kind of question-begging pre-skewed definition there is always the good old ‘education forum’ to hang out until you do.

    thanks for your response btw, nice to have an actual exchange here,
    Jim (noelplum99)

  21. UnderINK says

    While I do stand up for all of those ideas actively, I don’t think I’ll find myself running around calling myself an Atheist+ at any point.

  22. eliott1 says

    I think if’s great for folks to start their own subset of whatever they want to start their own subset of. If they want to call it A+ great. Have at it. However, the bloggers, participants, creators of this movement while they get to define and categorize themselves, really don’t get to define me.
    I am a feminist, a secular humanist and support gay rights but I don’t identify with this A+ group at all. Their idea of feminism isn’t mine. And in the broader view their idea of critical thinking and skepticism is clearly not mine. I find them closed and hateful and extremely devisive. I support their right to be that way too, I just don’t want to be associated with them and they don’t want to be associated with me. I can disagree and not be mean spirited unfortunately it doesn’t seem like they can.
    When Richard Carrier wrote his and I’m paraphrasing here, “get in A+ the right way or gtfo”, I asked him to help us out and send a note to David Silverman, Todd Stiefel, August Brunson, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor asking them if they were in as he thought atheists should participate in this A+ movement or gtfo. In essence I was asking Richard to either to put up or shut up. If he believed so strongly in his view, ask the folks that are our moral leaders to in fact make a statement leading us. He tap danced his way out of it saying,
    “Thus, you are asking me to ask our well-established moral leaders if they “repudiate sexism, racism, and homophobia, and endorse the values of reasonableness, compassion, and integrity,” which would imply I think they don’t and thus need them to declare themselves. I already assume they do. So should you.”
    Well shit Richard, isn’t that the whole fucking point in asking everyone to “declare themselves.”

    Still waiting.

          • eliott1 says

            Sure, the Richard Carrier position of intolerance. The feminist bloggers position of using invective and name calling instead of well thought out responses. The femiinist bloggers that mischacterize stories that I am personally aware for self aggrandizement.
            That’s just my perspective and don’t want any part of it, neither does my partner or any of the fairly diverse group we meet with. We will avoid the cons we and our families went to and not spend the $250,000 we spent last year on the national organizations. We’ll use the money in our own group for daycare and our own meetings. The old addage of all politics are local seems more true now than ever.
            And here is what I find is the most significant difference, I absolutely support the A+ group to go down that path and hope they find whatever happiness they deserve or want. I wish them no ill will. None. Why should I? Can they say the same of me for not sharing their perspective? Not from what I read.
            But in the larger scheme of things I believe it hurts us because there is power in numbers and we are now more polarized than ever.

  23. Jack Rawlinson says

    It certainly doesn’t have to be divisive. But until they stop describing virtually everyone who offers the slightest questioning or criticism as a misogynist, MRA, CHUD, gender traitor, sister-punisher, scumbag, fuckwad, rape apologist etc., and until they stop regularly doing things like suggesting such people go die in a fire, they certainly are divisive. Horribly so. And that’s why they’re attracting so much resistance and opposition. Because they are acting like zealots who deal with opposition by dehumanising it in order to feel better about subjecting it to the sort of abuse they decry when one of their own receives it. This is rank hypocrisy, and it stinks, and some of us have had enough of holding our noses.

    They seem not to get this. They seem to be more comfortable reassuring themselves that they are surrounded by sexist barbarians, so the gloves can come off. They are not behaving well, or rationally, at all. They need to have a bloody good step back and look at themselves.

      • JJLatFtB says

        An apology is cute and all, but that doesn’t absolve a criminal act. What are the repercussions for such acts within the FtB/A+ community? Has this Wowbagger character been banned from FtB and the A+ forums? A+ condemns misogyny, but does A+ condemn actual threats? Or does A+ see that as just a valid emotional response with reasonable heated “tone”?

        • mdevile says

          All of your questions answered with one google search!

          Atheism Plus forum rules
          [disclaimer: I am not a mod of the Atheism Plus forum, just a member. This is my opinion and I speak with no authority from the A+ forum mods]

          Atheism + is not an all-seeing, all-knowing police force of righteousness. It’s not even a formal organization. It’s an identifier for atheists who are also activists. There’s a forum we can go to in order to educate ourselves and others, or if we just want to hang out with other atheists who are also activists. If forum users are abusive or in violation of the posted rules, then they can be banned by the mods from the forum. Individual bloggers can choose to ban or ignore individual commentors, just like they do now. I have seen no call for an internet wide witchhunt for all offensive comments made by members of the atheism plus forum, even those that occur off the forum. That sounds like a heroic waste of time to me.

          So, yeah. If somebody acts like an abusive jerk on the Atheism Plus forum, then they can be banned. If they’re banned from the forum and still choose to identify as part of the Atheism Plus movement, there’s no one stopping them.

          As pertains to Wowbagger, specifically…

          We are human. We all fuck up. We say things we haven’t necessarily considered fully, in anger, in pain, in ignorance.

          However, if we’re rational, mature and open to the possibility that we are not infallible, then we can examine our behaviour, realize our mistakes, admit them and move on.

          Wowbagger’s apology looks like growth to me. They admitted their mistake, made no excuses and apologized. This is what you’re supposed to do when you fuck up.

          But that’s just my opinion. Some people may see this and choose never to trust Wowbagger again, and that is totally their call.

          • JJLatFtB says

            “Wowbagger’s apology looks like growth to me. They admitted their mistake, made no excuses and apologized. This is what you’re supposed to do when you fuck up.”

            Their violent outburst was aimed in the right direction, so of course they’re forgiven. Would they get such understanding if they expressed violent tendencies in opposition to A+? They don’t deserve it.

  24. me says

    All I can say after reading these comments is no wonder Atheism+ has come to exist and thank goodness they are discriminating about who attempts to hijack the conversation. This is insanity. If I ever thought that atheism had a higher percentage of reasonable, rational people, this whole debate would have thoroughly disabused me of that notion. It really just goes to show that it’s not religion that makes people ugly and hateful and unreasonable, it’s people- religion is just the excuse the religious use. I don’t know what your excuses are (TByte and SPACKlick and your like) but it hardly matters. Atheism that entrenches male privilege and failed privilege-based politics and policies does me (or anyone else including you) no good and is of no interest to me other than to demonstrate that Atheism+ is an idea whose time has come. I can’t imagine how Jen and Greta and the rest of our female leaders in the movement have put up with this as long as they have. Kudos to them.

    • JJLatFtB says

      When did anyone say they support atheism that “entrenches male privilege and failed privilege-based politics and policies…”?

      • says

        I think it was about the time when TByte decided to be categorically anti-feminist and accuse women of playing victim while victimizing men – using examples such as the “77 cents on the dollar” figure, an issue I’ve discussed at length with him in the past, as proof that feminists (categorically) are just making shit up and infantilizing women and demonizing men.

        I mean, I can’t wait until we have the discussion about how Title IX hurts boys and girls are genetically predisposed not to like sports – can you? I’m sure that the fact that the U.S. sent more female Olympians to London and more female’s won metals there will be presented as evidence that men are subject to grave injustices in sports.

        Then, when those ideas are criticized as painfully ignorant and male-centric – we’ll hear long diatribes of whining about free speech and “attacking” people who disagree.

        I’ve only been on the boards here for a relatively short time, and it’s become so intensely predictable.

        I can certainly understand why the A+ folks simply want a place on the internet (which is ALL it is at this point) to actually discuss stuff without categorically anti-feminist or staunchly body-essentialist debate-for-the-sake-of-debate types talking stupid smack constantly.

        • JJLatFtB says

          “an issue I’ve discussed at length with him in the past” – that may be, but it in this thread, the “77%” accusation was clearly aimed at “feminists” and not women in general as you claimed. TByte may have made such an accusation elsewhere of which I’m not aware, so thanks for clarifying.

          • says

            I think that is part of the problem.

            When someone makes BLANKET criticisms of “feminism” or “feminists”, it may not be an attack on all women; however, BY DEFINITION it is an attack on “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men” and those who advocate for that.

            So, it is not an attack on women, it’s just an attack on women’s rights.

            Specific criticisms of particular feminists, stances that particular feminists or feminists groups have made, aspects of feminist philosophy, and the use of statistics in feminist advocacy, etc – that makes sense.

            I can have those conversation – and I HAVE had those conversations. Feminists have those conversations amongst themselves. I am happy to have those conversations. I have had them with TByte. http://freethoughtblogs.com/cristinarad/2012/07/29/why-i-removed-my-video-on-feminism/#comment-1852

            Heck – I’ve had conversations with GirlWritesWhat, FinalJusticeMovement (who is a hyper-masculinist who believes that the homosexualists/feminists are “pussifying” men) , and Gorbachev (who was defending the idea that women who don’t dress modestly were assaulting men).

            Those can be interesting conversations, and those individuals have an interesting perspective. However, if I was confronted with those conversations CONSTANTLY, it would get very tiring.

            I actually agree with TByte on a few specific things. (I needed no convincing.)

            However, TByte frames his conversations as *feminism sucks*. It is absolutely similar to book-ending conversations about the tactics or specific philosophies within the civil rights movement with *the civil rights movement sucks*.

          • says

            I don’t want to give the impression that it is just about one person, I’m just using him as an example.

            I’m also on Matt Dillahunty’s facebook and you can see many gems there whenever he shows his associations with Skepchick, FtB or A+; or discusses “feminism” by name.

            A few “regulars” are all “disappointed” and then go on to essentially generalize, make up stuff, and get bent out of shape that he is off message.

            I wonder if they were also horribly upset when he was doing a series on The Atheist Experience about circumcision, instead of refuting Pascal’s Wager for 90 minutes.

            A+ is not divisive. It had the potential to be, but that initial frustration seems to have calmed down now that energies are being aimed inward toward building the organization of A+.

            Those who are still screaming about it’s “divisiveness” should take responsibility for their own divisive behavior. Blanket accusations, categorical insults, proactive attacks, shaming individuals for their associations – THAT is divisive behavior.

          • spacklick says

            How can you say it’s nto divisive when it has clearly divided the community so much?

            It may not intend to be, but as the plussers will tell you (over and over again) intent is not magic. The foundation of A+ has caused a lot of division. A+ is divisive.

            The words used by the A+ crowd have caused hurt and offence and division and they should apologise for that and look to make reparations before rephrasing their cause.

            Or is it too much to hope that they will live to their own standards?

          • says

            Apologize to who?

            Carrier redacted part of his initial response, MANY bloggers officially distanced themselves from them, and he wrote another post clarifying his position.

            So – we know about that. Done and done – and he wasn’t even a part of forming the organization in the first place.

            So, what specifically do you want anyone who associates with A+ to do?

            This is the same-old same-old that we have been dealing with since EG. Those who see A+ as divisive are BLAMING A+ for the reaction of OTHERS to it.

    • SPACKlick says

      “I don’t know what your excuses are (TByte and SPACKlick and your like) but it hardly matters.”
      Of course our reasons matter, note how I’ve never denied there are unpleasant elements among the atheist community, particularly online. But there are unpleasant elements on both sides of the A+ divide. I’d love to know what I’ve done or said that you find so objectionable? Was it that the extremist feminist I knew wasn’t a particularly nice person or good for the cause of feminism? Or that the methods used by the A+ movement have made them seem, particularly to a causal observer, a little nutty? Was it perhaps that I thought the label was confusing? Or the attitudes of some of the individuals involved divisive?

      “Atheism that entrenches male privilege and failed privilege-based politics and policies does me (or anyone else including you) no good”
      I’d never deny that, I’ve neevr disagreed with any of the AIMS of A+ just some of the methodology and proposed solutions.

      “and is of no interest to me other than to demonstrate that Atheism+ is an idea whose time has come.”
      Certainly a community of atheists working towards secular betterment of the lives of people is an idea whose time has come, whether A+ is the best manifestation of that idea is still up for debate.

    • TByte says

      me:
      I’m not sure what comments your read, “me”, but I’m quite sure I never stated or even insinuated that I believe in our encourage “male privilege”.
      Try reading the comments again, but maybe more slowly and carefully this time?

      Melby:
      Being anti-feminist is no more being anti-female than being against the Israeli occupation is being anti-semitic. As I’ve already pointed out, Feminists work hard to portray women as helpless and irresponsible victims than any other group. I happen to have a higher opinion of women’s capabilities than them.

      And if you want to have the discussion about Title IX, I’m game for it. It’s horrible legislation because it is outcome-based rather than opportunity-based. Women do not voluntarily participate in sports to the same degree as men. That’s a fact. Now, if you want to encourage more women to pursue athletics, I’d fully support that. But don’t cut men’s opportunities if you can’t fine enough women to join. To me, this make perfect sense. But a feminist sees discrimination in every gender disparity.

      And one more thing, Melby: stop claiming it is only carrier engaging in dismissive name-calling and silencing those who disagree with him. Greta Christina does the same thing, as does PZ Myers, and many many more.

      • says

        No.

        I haven’t said that “feminism” is this or that or the next thing – AS A MOVEMENT. I actually think that is sort of silly because of the diversity within the movement.

        I’ve told you what the definition is, and you have proceeded to redefine “feminism” as something else and include your blanket conclusions (of the entire movement) into your definition of it.

        It is impossible to have a fruitful discussion with someone who refuses even to agree to definitions that don’t incorporate judgments.

        It’s like trying to have a discussion with someone about pornography who refuses to define “pornography” as anything other than toxic erotica.

        In our previous discussions, you also accused me (if I’m not confusing you with Othersider, who I was having the conversation with at about the same time) of contradicting myself because your perspective on feminism is so unshakable that you couldn’t understand my points. (Namely, that part of the gender wage gap was due to men being devalued as parents.)

        The gender wage gap is caused by sexism, but not JUST by discrimination against women. Pointing out the gender wage gap, as a problem, is not a problem.

        The fact that you can “adjust” for various things and end up with 91 cents on the dollar instead of about 77 or so (including ignoring that professional work that is traditionally done by women tends to be less compensated even though it requires similar education and professional training) – does not magically make gender based pay discrimination disappear and it does not mean that everyone pointing at the 77/100 number are a bunch of whiners making shit up and infantilizing women.

        That’s just silly.

        I mean, have you even considered that one of the reason some people dismiss you is that your arguments are bad, NOT because they aren’t up for a discussion?

        How many people have had LONG conversations with you, only to, at some point realize they are talking to a brick wall?

        I know that others simply don’t want to have certain conversations because they have had conversations that appear to have the same form over and over and over again – and they just aren’t up to having that same conversation in a constant loop.

        I mean, if you really want to be divisive, I would think that the BEST way to do that is to act as you have. You refuse to allow anyone to define “feminism” without your own judgments attached to the word, you just relabeled someone who identifies as “feminist” because it didn’t fit your narrow definition, and you’ve complained about insults while hurling them at large heterogeneous groups of people.

        I like debates. I think they are interesting. I enjoy debating people who have vastly different views than myself. However, if I actually wanted to do something other than argue, I wouldn’t really want to deal with that.

        • TByte says

          Show me a movement that doesn’t have diversity. That’s a specious argument.
          When I refer to the feminist movement, I’m referencing major feminist organizations, web resources, and speakers.
          As an example, the National Organization of Women would, I’m sure, agree with you your claim that feminism is about the pusuit of gender equality. But I franky don’t give a rat’s ass what definition you, or N.O.W. give to feminism. Because the cold hard fact is that N.O.W. does NOT support gender equality, does NOT seek to level the playing field when it would involve women giving up some of their privilege, and in fact actively campaigns against egalitarian issues that would benefit men at the expense of women.
          For these reasons I’m perfectly justified in my claiming that feminism is a gender-biased movement focused on women’s advocacy. And though you repeatedly disagreed with me, you’ve done NOTHING to refute the facts I’ve presented, and done NOTHING to demonstrate that feminism is, in your opinion, gender-neutral.
          So no, I have not considered the possibility that people are dismissing be due to my bad arguments, for the simple reason that nobody here has even attempted to refute them. They resort to ad hominem attacks and straw men, which I consider further evidence that my arguments are sound.
          If you want a debate, as you claim, then present some arguments rather than just being dismissive.

  25. mdevile says

    Thank you for weighing in on this.

    Thank you further for doing so in a way that didn’t disappoint me or make me cringe.

  26. Cat hunter says

    I belong to the National Atheist Party (in fact I am the California State Secretary) and I can confirm that, while most of us are Humanist and/or atheist, we do indeed have members of different religious faiths. Since our goal is a Secular united States, we manage to include some people of Christian, Jewish and other faiths/beliefs. Everyone is welcome provided they have the same goals in mind- a secular country.

  27. codemonkey says

    Well said Jack Rawlinson. Most of the people in the atheist+ movement are good, but certain sub-populations are intolerable.

    Example: Back when I posted under a different name in the Pharyngula blog (never again), someone made the following IMHO obscene argument. It was stated with as much hyperbole as I present here. At 9 months pregnant, even if the baby was aware, even if it was safer to force early birth than abort, even if it was cheaper to force early birth than abort, even if adoption was completely 100% hassle free and money free, even then, the pregnant woman is well within her moral rights to abort. That is, there is nothing wrong with this scenario. Worse, the hypothetical reason of the woman to abort was that she would find it inconvenient and weird if the fetus 18 years later found her and said hi. So, I called this morally obscene. I even clarified that there are good legal arguments to be made that abortion in this situation should still be legal. However, for the specific hypothetical scenario presented, the actions and justifying reasons of this hypothetical person are entirely reprehensible. The whole crew, including PZ himself, called me misogynistic, and requested I leave. So I did. I will never post to Pharyngula again, and that’s where I am now.

    The atmosphere of the comments section of Pharyngula is that of religious orthodoxy, which sometimes makes it quite painful to read.

    I’d like to think that fully supportive of every aim of feminism and atheist+, but maybe I’m not. Pharyngula just had another post affirming this moral absolute.

    I can support the right to get rid of it on a whim, for any reason whatsoever, at any time, even kill it if that’s the easiest or safest or cheapest or most straightforward approach, but I will not support the moral right for you to kill it – if it’s aware – on a whim when there is a method to save it and you which is better in every way. I am not trying to present this as a real scenario. I am not trying to present this as a interesting case study for making law.

    Here, let me preempt the imminent replies: “This is distracting us from the actual issues, and this hypothetical isn’t real”. Then maybe that person shouldn’t have brought it up. They started it, I didn’t. If that person or group didn’t want to discuss completely impossible hypotheticals, then maybe that person shouldn’t have brought it up. But no, I’m at fault for responding to this (hypothetical, completely impossible) moral outrage, and the other person is blameless. Equivalently, I am support Jack to an extant because this behavior and attitude pisses me off. I didn’t bring it up, but I’ll contribute to the obvious topic of this entry. “Body integrity is paramount”. Sure, I’m not questioning that. I question that body integrity necessarily implies complete discretion over the method of separation in the (hypothetical?) case where the fetus is aware.

      • codemonkey says

        Why? Because there is a discussion in this thread which has turned into a discussion as to whether there is a problem with certain subpopulations of atheism+. I claim there is. On Pharyngula there is. That incident and others have turned me off from the label. While I will continue to fight for those values, I do not want to be associated with those particular people and tactics.

  28. mdevile says

    #25 JJlatFtB

    Their violent outburst was aimed in the right direction, so of course they’re forgiven. Would they get such understanding if they expressed violent tendencies in opposition to A+? They don’t deserve it.

    Hypothetically speaking, because I haven’t seen this happen yet (and yes, I would like examples if you have them) If the apology is sincere and the behaviour has been corrected, then it would still count as growth to me. If they’re arguing against A+ based on biogoted viewpoints, we’re still going to have issues no matter how respectfully phrased. If they just don’t want to be a part of it, then I probably wouldn’t hold it against them unless I saw repeated examples of the same bad behaviour after the apology,

  29. Johnnis says

    “Now I’m not the guy to ask about this. I don’t give it much thought. Several advocates of A+ have assured me that I don’t have to. I don’t have to adopt the label or change my stationary. I don’t have to do anything different than I have done since as long as I’ve been involved in this movement. So I haven’t really looked into Atheism+ very deeply, and I’m not even sure I get it myself. But based on the few brief queries I’ve had with some of the A+ proponents here at FtB, here is what I think it is:”

    I do not doubt the sincerity of these advocates, but I do recommend actually looking into this matter yourself.

    Your source of information seems to be mainly from hearsay.

    Please apply critical thinking.

  30. Redmage says

    Atheist with dogma and a political agenda? Thanks for furthering the ‘atheism is a religion’ myth. Why can’t you just join a secular humanist group and keep your atheism out of it?

  31. Johnnis says

    “We’re not talking about re-defining atheism, we’re talking about adding something to it”

    Greta Christina

  32. robertb says

    “And regardless whether you endorse science or secularism, if you find that you also embrace equality for humanity regardless of ancestry, attraction, or gender, then you’re atheist plus.”

    I am an atheist and I believe in equality regardless of ancestry, attraction, or gender, which I think is actually what believing in equality means in the first place.

    But, first and foremost, I am a free thinker, so no thanks on the group think thing.

  33. TByte says

    “And regardless whether you endorse science or secularism, if you find that you also embrace equality for humanity regardless of ancestry, attraction, or gender, then you’re atheist plus. At least that’s what I think anyway.”
    Yeah…except that despite claiming to embrace equality, the atheist plus crowd have demonstrated quite the opposite.
    They should have been honest and just labeled their movement “Atheism+Feminism”. I think the firestorm of outrage would have been less if they had just been honest, rather the attempting to don a mantle of social authority that they do not own.

    • codemonkey says

      TByte, why do you think that feminism is entirely incompatible with equality? I’m a feminist, and I think feminism is just trying to achieve equality between men and women. I’m not against a little affirmative action here either. I’m definitely not against consciousness raising either. Sure, there may be a bad feminist or two, but there’s a bad person or two in every group. Don’t let the extremists put you off from what is otherwise a very good idea and movement.

      Is this an argument over definition of the word “feminism”?

      Or is it that you think a significant number / a majority of self identified feminists think feminism means something more than seeking equality of the sexes? I think that’s quite an unrealistic depiction of reality.

      Sorry – I’m genuinely curious here.

      (Almost makes me sound hypocritical w.r.t. atheism+. Maybe I am. I wonder how the actual atmosphere is over at the atheism+ forums… Maybe I should call myself an atheist+ regardless…)

      • TByte says

        Happy to respond to someone who actually wants to engage in a discussion!
        Despite its claims, Feminism is not about gender equality. It has always been about women’s advocacy.
        If it was about equality, then we’d see Feminist groups pursuing father’s rights in family courts rather than opposing them. We’d see Feminist groups enraged that breast cancer research gets three times the funding that testicular cancer receives, despite the fact that their mortality rates are nearly identical. There are many many other examples.
        But maybe you aren’t really a feminist? Maybe you just believe that everyone should be treated equally?
        Maybe you are like those people who don’t go to church, and don’t really believe in god or jesus, but self-identify as Christians because they believe in being nice to people?
        Well, Christianity is not about being nice to people, and Feminism is not about treating people equally.
        If you think fathers should be entitled to the same rights as mothers, or that men’s health issues should receive the same funding as women’s, then maybe you are an Equalist like me. On the other hand, if you think its fine for men to get the short end of the stick, and you want to protect women’s privileges in society, then continue self-identifying as a feminist.

        • the dancing queen says

          Tbyt- by not going to church or believing in jesus or god does not make me or other women a feminist, you are jumping to conclusions here, it is like comparing milk with apples. I am an equalist but do not believe in your male god or jesus and do not like to associate myself with your typo christian misogynists whom turn everything around and distort things and enjoy demeaning and denigrating women whom do not believe in christ. To me, being a christian means you should be nice to all and that just smacks of hypocrisy because we all know, christians ain’t the nicest of people and seem to despise women who do not believe in god, maybe it goes to a deep rooted insecurity of women being perceived as witches in the medieval ages, but please get over your insecurity and inferiority complex of women leading the lives they want to without being deceived by biblical innuendo. Also big deal about women being selfish nowadays and stop trying to belittle women whom are perceived as selfish in today’s standards as we cannot afford to or do not want a family and aim for careers instead, us womenfolk do not judge you men for not having families and your so called selfishness.

          • TByte says

            dancing queen, please feel free to join the discussion again after you acquire the capability of following an argument.

        • codemonkey says

          I think you’ve bad badly burned by a couple asshats who called themselves feminists, and by denying feminism despite it’s well understood aims of gender equality, you make yourself look like an asshat.

          I believe there is a deeper problem here. You skirted the issue. I believe the main issue is that you don’t like it when a movement focuses on one party over another, even if that party is disadvantaged. You think to do so is a kind of discrimination, reverse discrimination. In effect, you don’t like affirmative action. While I also sometimes question whether affirmative action is the best policy, I also think that sometimes it is the best policy.

          It is fact that women are treated far worse in many aspects of our society. At the very least, a consciousness raising campaign is called for – which you don’t seem to like.

          I am ignorant of the couple of issues you’ve cited, parental rights, etc. I haven’t taken the time to try and find reliable surveys that attempt to account for confounding variables. So, maybe there are some situations where women are treated better than men. I don’t know. I’m willing to hear you out, which alone read out of context probably will make some of the atheist+ and/or feminist movement – some! – jump down my throat. However, it is true that women are treated much worse off in our society in most aspects. Thus the justification for focusing specifically on women’s problems.

          Ideally, feminism as a movement will die, just as atheism will die, when we have everyone on board. Until the time that theism is a small minority openly ridiculed in public, I’ll call myself an atheist. Until the time that the various gender gaps are closed, I’ll call myself a feminist.

          In the future, if you’re not against equality of women and men, you really shouldn’t attack the word feminism. You really need to explain that you don’t like affirmative action, and don’t like reverse discrimination.

          To be fair, I doubt this approach will fare any better when talking to a lot of the feminist population, but at least you won’t immediately look like an asshat to me. I’d like to think no topic is taboo, especially policy efficacy topics such as whether affirmative action is a good idea. However, I also understand and partially agree with the “rabid” feminist side which has already concluded several times over that the only solution is to focus on women’s problems, and engage in at least consciousness raising, if not outright affirmative action. I also understand that this is frequently just used as an excuse by MRA asshats. Ugg – I just wish people weren’t so evil (e.g. the MRA asshats) so we could have grown up conversations without fear of being a deep-cover-MRA-asshat.

          • TByte says

            The National Organization of Women is “a couple of asshats”?
            It is well understood that feminism claims to be gender neutral, but their claims alone do not make it so. I’ve presented arguments against their claims, so please deal with those arguments rather than just being dismissive.
            Please do not make the mistake of making assumptions about what I think. I’m not opposed to a movement focusing on one party or another. I’m not opposed to affirmative action. So again, deal with the arguments I am presenting rather just being dismissive.
            It is NOT a fact that women are treated far worse in many aspects of society. Men are subject to much more institutionalized discrimination than women, largely because the feminist movement has, to its credit, been very succesful in leveling the playing field in the areas where women have historically been disadvantaged. If you feel that women are subject to outrageous discrimination in western society, then you’ll need to list some examples and support your claims. I am more than happy to provide examples of discrimination against men that are ingrained in our culture as well as in our law. A consciousness raising campaign is called for on behalf of men, and it is the feminists who do not like it.
            Lastly, if you admit to ignorance of the issues I’ve presented, then you owe it to yourself to actually learn about the subject rather than just believing whatever lies mainstream feminism feeds you.

  34. Rob says

    I was slightly put off the whole A+ thing by reading Richard Carrier’s post on it. He essentially defined it as “us vs. them”, and anyone who said they didn’t want to be part of the movement was called a “douche” or was labeled as someone he wouldn’t like to associate with.

    My particular problem is that I’m a vegetarian. Carrier defined A+ as being committed to rationality, but in an earlier post he has argued that vegetarians are “irrational”. In fact he claimed he had PROVED that they are. So, are vegetarians out? I think I’m being rational, but apparently not. These are the kinds of questions I’m concerned about. Who defines rationality in terms of these tricky questions? It’s very easy to say homeopathy or acupuncture or whatever is irrational, but when we get down to tricky questions of ethics or philosophy who defines what counts as a rational position?

    • codemonkey says

      @Rob

      There’s a very fine and nuanced line here. I think it’s quite reasonable to be an atheist but not necessarily worry about the issues of atheism+. I’m not going to start repudiating people for not taking up proverbial arms for every good cause. I think it’s mostly unreasonable to repudiate someone for not wanting to use the label, and I think it’s very unreasonable to repudiate someone who personally wants to focus on the atheism part over the “+” parts. Of course, it’s entirely justified to repudiate someone who actually states that he’s against social equality and the other parts of “+”.

      As another example of the subtleties involved, you also cross this very fine line into unacceptable territory if you do what Ron Lindsay did in his recent essay.
      http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/divisiveness_within_the_secular_movement/
      Here, what ticked me off was when he said:

      So to return to Atheism Plus, here’s a concern: because the A+ advocates want to work on social justice issues, but have not yet specified how they plan to go about this, including which issues they will emphasize, there’s a worry that they will divert resources from the secular movement and weaken it.

      Sorry – you don’t get to decide personally that the secular movement is more important than other movements and impose that choice on others. They get to decide how to spend their own time and money, not you.

      • Rob says

        @codemonkey

        I agree with all the social justice parts of atheism plus, and I also liked the first part of your comment very much. My problem really comes with the commitment to rationality, and with who does the defining of “rationality”. There are certain ethical positions (such as vegetarianism) which are divisive, and which some people hold to be irrational (as Carrier does).

        So again, if a commitment to rationality is a necessary condition of A+ membership, what do we do when people come to different conclusions on an issue, both feeling that they are being rational and that the other person is being irrational?

  35. MindWerks says

    “In fact, it is subset of a subset, representing only a portion of the atheists who are also activists. It is the difference between atheism, (being unconvinced that any genuine deity actually exists) and a social movement within that group, who wish to associate that perspective with positive moral values -as identified, defined, and described by atheists. I think we do a better job of that than religious proponents ever have.”

    So I wonder how long it will be before they replace the religious activists in trying to dictate how I live. I love free thinkers however creating the “700″ club of the atheist community? No thanks.

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