No better than the bigots they claim to fight

Addendum: Ask an Atheist now has been added to the partners page. A shame it took a little public shaming to accomplish it, but for now, hold off on the email and Facebook abuse. Thanks.


Okay, try this on for size. And pay close fucking attention, because this shit is why we need Atheism+, in my not-so-humble opinion.

So the crew of Ask an Atheist up in Seattle host a 24-hour fundraiser for Washington United for Marriage, a marriage equality group. Because marriage equality is a thing atheists, in general, want to get behind.

After they have the money, what does Washington United say to Ask an Atheist? “Thanks for your wonderful support!”, perhaps? Or how about, “FUUUUCKK YOOOUUUUU!”

Come on. Guess.

Aw, how did you guess?

According to Mike Gillis at AAA, the response they got from the people they helped and supported was that Washington United “could not risk any negative publicity that may come from association with an atheist organization.” Because, of course, it is far more in the best interests of the LGBT community to pander to the theists who don’t fundraise for them, don’t support them, and would happily see them all die in a ditch for the greater glory of Jesus.

Seriously, people. Think long and hard on this one. Let it sink in.

Briefly to why this underscores and validates the Atheism+ concept: You might want to sit down for this, but there is a shit-ton of anti-atheist bigotry out there. People simply have this prejudice that, because we reject belief in an invisible magic man in the sky, we are thus irredeemable, immoral, corrupt and despicable monsters. Period. And this prejudice, as we can clearly see, extends even to the people you’d think were on the same side (and who apparently are, until the fucking check clears).

What Atheism+ seeks to do is counter this cultural bigotry through associating atheism with positive social causes. No, it won’t be an immediate mind-changing magic bullet. But, as Dawkins stated in The God Delusion, hopefully it will start to raise consciousnesses. Maybe you still think that’s a needless effort. I disagree, and present this situation as exhibit A. No, I’m not trying to guilt anyone who doesn’t want to adopt the A+ moniker into doing so if they still think it’s not for them. I just want you to understand why those of us who do want to adopt it find it useful to do so. That’s all.

As for Washington United, well, fuck them right back. Feel free to disagree, but I think the public shaming should be heavy on this one. They have a Facebook page. How about that? They also can be contacted here. Just a polite note to the effect of “Thanks for being total douchebags towards Ask an Atheist, that was really nice” ought to do. And if you’re a Washingtonian and still want to support equality in that state, apparently Equal Rights Washington are the good guys.

A+ haters, what have you got besides reactionary emotionalism?

Despite what people think the policy here is over at GroupThinkBorgBlogs, we’re all fine with trading ideas about how to pursue social justice, as long as they’re productive and positive ideas. After all, as Russell said, here at AXP, we’ve been doing “positive atheism” for years.

But we didn’t realize it was so utterly evil until now. According to this helpful comment

A+ is about sowing an “us vs them” mentality, of building a cult of personality, and demonizing anyone that dares question what the holy leaders may say. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, I suggest you check out Richard Carrier’s blog post on the subject. A+ is about claiming that only you have virtue on your side and that if anyone ever disagrees with you about ANYTHING (or even just questions it) or even just doesn’t want to join your party, than they are a racist, homophobic, MRA (even if they happen to be a lesbian of color).

So you have fun with your little “split.” It helps the rest of us know who the irrational, non-thinkers are.

Wow. I must have missed the memo about fascistic I was supposed to be about all of this. Apparently, I must not tolerate anyone who disagrees with me, not only on subjects like social justice, but any subject whatsoever. Looks like I’m going to be a busy bee then.

WHAT!?!? You like peanut butter better than chocolate!?! FUCK YOOOOUUUUUU…..

So how much ostracizing and othering do I have to do to level up to being a holy leader of the personality cult? And when do I start scoring those hot hippie flower chicks?

How not to build inclusive communities

I’m a software developer, as many of you know.  A few months ago, a friend of mine took me to lunch a few times to talk about a web-based game he was interested in producing.  It didn’t pan out, but it was interesting to have a design discussion with someone who has a lot of business experience but is something of a rookie where web games are concerned.

Ultimately the game idea has been tabled, but without getting into any detail, part of the design was intended to allow people to upload multiple pictures to be used as character avatars.  The assumption was that it would be clip art or cartoon doodles, stuff like that.

Being a practical type when it comes to gathering requirements, I asked him: “Have you thought about what safeguards you will put in place to keep people from uploading objectionable content?”

I can’t see any possible way that THIS could go wrong.

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I’m pretty sure the ACA has been an Atheism+ organization for years

I was in a very slow line for Master Pancake (an Austin comedy group) the night Jen McCreight posted her brainstorm about a movement called Atheism+.  And it was spot on — despite the fact that I was standing in a crowded space, I had to keep reading and pointing out excerpts to my wife.

I noticed I haven’t been blogging much, and I feel extra guilty that I haven’t contributed anything to the current inter-blog discussion about what a good idea Atheism+ is.  Ultimately I don’t really have a lot to say.  For as long as I can remember being involved with the Atheist Community of Austin there have been discussions about how to keep events from being overwhelmingly populated by white guys like me.  We’ve spoken many times about how atheism doesn’t necessarily extend philosophically to anything other than “not believing in any Gods”; how technically Raelians are atheists; and you can be an atheist and still believe in all sorts of supernatural woo as long as it’s not God.  That’s all still true.

Technicalities aside though, we’ve also been bold about taking on issues that are outside the minimal scope of atheism, and worked to present a strong front of core values from our community.  The ACA has had a booth at the Austin Gay Pride festival for several years running, and put out press releases denouncing politicians banning equal marriage rights.  We’ve had many on-air discussions with concerned atheists from minority groups.  We’ve spoken for women’s rights to choose, and defended that position despite the fact that anti-abortion atheists exist.  Our TV show has a fairly diverse cast, and we’ve been producing Godless Bitches for a year and a half now — a show hosted by prominent female voices and promoting outreach on behalf of atheist feminists.  More recently, the ACA board began drafting a formal anti-harassment policy for members as soon as the issue started gaining discussion where conventions were concerned.

Our group strives for a diverse, welcoming environment.  There’s an argument that comes up a lot where tolerance is concerned, but should not be taken seriously by anyone: that you can’t be truly tolerant unless you tolerate intolerance.  Or alternatively, if you identify and condemn bigotry, you are being bigoted against the bigots.

Hopefully people get the point through my rambling, but this is a roundabout way of saying that I think “Atheism+” is a welcome new label for an old concept, it’s something that many groups have already been striving for before Jen bothered to give it a new name, and I’m all for spreading this particular meme.

For more excellent posts on the subject, please see:

Open thread on AETV #774 / NPR 11.11

This week:

Correction: 773 was aired last week.  Martin’s open thread on it mislabeled it as 772, which didn’t broadcast.

Open thread on episode #773 (corrected no.)

Have at it. Sorry this didn’t get posted until today. I for one was totally having nerdgasms all last night about a little party going on on Mars.

One new development in AXP-land has arisen that didn’t get talked about on yesterday’s show. You know that YouTube fan channel that I have, on previous occasions, reminded people that we don’t run in the hopes they’ll stop writing whiny letters to us because they’ve been banned there? Well, we run it now. Jen took it over and some changes will be underway, chief among which is that for each new episode uploaded, comments on YouTube will be disabled and people will be redirected to the relevant episode threads here if they wish to comment. Don’t like that? Oh well. It’s Jen’s call, and I can certainly understand that she has neither the patience nor inclination to moderate the asylum that a YouTube comments thread can become. Such moderating is most easily accomplished here.

So, have at it.