Responding to common misconceptions about Atheism+


This will be briefer than I like since I’m swamped between my real job and trying to move Atheism+ forward, but I want to address some of the common misconceptions about Atheism+ that have been thrown at me.

1. Atheism+ is just secular humanism! Just call it what it is!

I think there are some nuanced differences. Greta Christina gives a detailed explanation.

But really, I don’t give a diddly what label you want. Atheist, atheist+, humanist, pastafarian, Supreme Crusher of God-Belief. Whatever. I care more about getting stuff done, and I see the humanists as our natural allies. I just don’t understand why some of them are so cranky that we…what, are saying we agree with their ideals and values? Let’s not let progress get derailed by discussions about labels. Greg Epstein, head of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, called me to give me his support for Atheism+ and to agree that the debate about labels is silly.

2. Why does everyone have to agree with your particular dogma?

No one has to agree with me, and I don’t want dogma. I want to be able to discuss social justice issues from the context of atheism and skepticism. Discuss, not dictate. Right now we can’t even do that without being threatened, trolled, and derailed. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the views of people who support A+. Speaking of which:

3. Person X supports A+ and said this really shitty thing, therefore A+ is evil!

I can’t control what everyone writes about A+, nor can I read it all. That’s why I’m trying to focus my time toward moving forward with a website that will provide educational resources and a community. There I can establish a mission for what A+ is truly about. If people warp that mission in blog posts or tweets or what have you, all I can do is keep promoting what A+ is truly about.

4. You specifically want to exclude people, so you’re a hatemonger!

You can’t be inclusive to everyone. If you include misogynists, you exclude women – etc, etc. I choose to exclude the assholes. Read Greta’s post on the subject.

5. But you want to exclude old, white, men! That’s ageist, racist, and sexist!

I have never said I want to exclude old, white, men because I don’t. I have pointed out that some groups have a diversity problem and only consist of old, white, men. I don’t want to get rid of them – I just want other people to also be included. Diversity is important. If you want to keep spinning that as me hating old, white, men, I don’t know what else I can say to you.

6. Why do you get to decide who gets to be a part of the atheist movement?

I’m not kicking anyone out of the atheist movement. I’m not going to revoke your American Atheist membership or come in the middle of the night to steal your scarlet A lapel pin. I’m not going to petition the government to take away your freedom of speech. Yes, I think it’s time for a new wave, but that doesn’t make the previous wave disappear. There are still second wave feminists (and I know this will shock some of you, but no, I’m not one of them).

I just want a space where atheists with a shared interest in social justice can actually discuss it and get stuff done. You are free to form your own groups or continue taking part in whatever atheist community will have you. You can even come and civilly take part in our discussions! But we don’t need to tolerate the intolerant within our own space.

7. But you’re hurting the atheist movement by causing a schism!

Is the Secular Student Alliance causing a schism because it focuses on students? Are any of the many atheist organizations causing schisms because they all have slightly different missions? Why can’t we have our own group too? Would there be such vitriol in response to someone starting an Atheist Knitting Club? “BUT ATHEISM DOES NOT DE FACTO LEAD TO KNITTING!” So what? Let us have our space to talk about issues that interest us. You don’t have to participate.

8. Why do you hate atheists who just want to talk about atheism?

I don’t. I think discussing reasons why God doesn’t exist, flaws in theological arguments, stigma against atheists, religious privilege, violations of the separation of church and state, and all those related things matter. A lot. They were incredibly important for me when I was just starting to call myself an atheist, especially in a conservative, religious state like Indiana. I think groups should keep on doing that! I am just personally ready to expand my list of topics.

9. You’ve started a cult!

If I start wearing a silly hat, distributing pink jackboots for uniforms, and getting Kool-Aid to provide refreshments at all events, then you can start worrying.

If there are any common misconceptions I’ve missed, I’ll add them here.

EDIT: 10. Isn’t Atheism+ going to alienate atheists who are in the process of becoming allies/feminists/etc but aren’t quite there yet?

Hopefully not, since our intent is the opposite. Atheism+ is going to provide a lot of educational material about “101” and introductory topics relating to diversity and social justice. I also want to have part of the forum be devoted to “101” discussion, where people can legitimately ask questions without an angry horde that assumes ill intentions descending on them. But another part will be for “advanced” discussion, so those of us who want to have in depth discussion aren’t constantly dealing with people who don’t know the basics or are purposefully thread-derailing with the same old questions.

Comments

  1. remyporter says

    10) But, like, I really want a reason to be upset by this. And I’ll keep inventing reasons until you go away and stop being a girl trying to do stuff.

    I mean, that’s kinda my reading.

  2. Emu Sam says

    You make me want to cheer. I love that you and others are able to dissect arguments and point out the flaws – it seems so effortless. Thank you for putting your time and effort into A+.

  3. Pteryxx says

    Hey, just because they’re feminists/girlz/pinkified etc, they’re still skeptics/atheists too! ;>

  4. Brian says

    I’m not joining until you start passing out Kool-Aid! Seriously, I’m really thirsty. Can’t you send some Kool-Aid over the internet?

  5. Len says

    I’m all for silly hats, but I’ll have to skip the jackboots. I have a hard enough time finding proper footwear with out it being silly.

    Wait! I know! I’ll start my own Atheist movement! With Blackjack! And Hookers! Ahh forget the whole thing.

  6. Emu Sam says

    Rereading your comment makes me think I need to mention that I was assigned female at birth.

  7. Infophile says

    There’s one that I’ve heard a bunch: “This is just a relabeling of atheism!” I think you’ve covered why it isn’t in other posts, but it certainly seems to come up a lot.

  8. Pteryxx says

    np, I was attempting to co-cheer. Maybe too much backhand per word on my part? anyway, YAY REASON

  9. says

    People are making a fuss
    about the new “atheists plus”.
    There’s loads to untangle.
    Whatever your angle,
    there still is a lot to discuss.

  10. Bill R Painter says

    I do not believe in gods and I share that common belief with others. Gender, sexual, political, and economic issues are different controversies that have nothing to do with atheism. Atheism+ is divisive to atheism. It enables the vast Christian media and religious pulpit to discredit and disparage atheism as hedonistic and anti-life. Atheism+ slurs and divides atheists and should not be promoted.
    Religion in Iran just banned women from 77 university majors, including engineering, physics. Atheism did not do this to women. Religion attacks women and always has.
    See: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iran-bans-women-from-77-university-majors-including-engineering-physics-.aspx?pageID=238&nid=28325
    If Atheism+ receives positive press then it has the signature of a false flag creation designed to misdirect feminist anger from their mortal enemy (religion) and against atheism (opponent of religion). Does anyone recall how feminist CIA agent Gloria Steinem used feminism to destabilize society?
    See: http://henrymakow.com/180302.html
    Collapse this post

  11. says

    Coffee nearly came out my nose when I read “BUT ATHEISM DOES NOT DE FACTO LEAD TO KNITTING!”. I’m confused as to why people seem so upset that a group of people with a set of common interests want to organize around those interests. Is it a problem that the atheist movement as a whole is unwelcoming to Zoroastrians?

    The deal with the labels also puzzles me. Do people realize that the thesaurus is an entire book of words and phrases that mean nearly the same thing? There are also plenty of accepted non-standard uses of English words. “USING ‘ULTIMATE’ TO MEAN BEST INSTEAD OF THE LAST IN A SERIES IS RUINING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!”

  12. says

    “Atheism+ is divisive to atheism. It enables the vast Christian media and religious pulpit to discredit and disparage atheism as hedonistic and anti-life. Atheism+ slurs and divides atheists and should not be promoted.”

    Ok, you realize that
    1. Many Christian media outlets *already* do that, regardless of Atheism+
    2. Why do we care about alienating bigots anyway?

    “Does anyone recall how feminist CIA agent Gloria Steinem used feminism to destabilize society?
    See: http://henrymakow.com/180302.html
    Collapse this post”

    Too late, this post already collapsed.

  13. Georgia Sam says

    As a member of the old white men contingent, I feel quite comfortable with Atheism+, & I don’t feel excluded at all. Some of those objections look to me like ancient superstitions about names. By naming something or knowing its name, one gains some kind of control over it; each thing has only one true name & only the enlightened know that name; some names are sacred & must not be spoken, etc.

  14. says

    I think many people need to realize that they exclude themselves when they are homophobic, misogynistic, classist, racist, etc.

    For the life of me I cannot understand why atheists would enforce these things that were put upon society by religion in the first place.

  15. 'Tis Himself says

    Henry Makow is a conservative conspiracy nut and anti-feminist. Here’s a typical Makow rant:

    Freemasonry is a satanic cult, an arm of the Cabalist Jewish central banker conspiracy to enslave mankind. They undermine society by promoting feminism and homosexuality to destroy the family. Evidently they pursue these goals within their own ranks as well.

    No, I’m not believing Gloria Steinem was a “feminist CIA agent” trying to “destabilize society” just because Makow says so.

  16. says

    They exclude themselves, but are also somehow made furious by not being welcome by their own actions and attitudes. Sort of like if I bought a Mustang GT and immediately became furious at the existence of the local Camaro club.

  17. Ella says

    Sorry, this is totally offtopic but:

    Recently, a little girl I worked with drowned on holiday. Other than feeling utterly gut-wrenchingly heartbroken, I feel… significantly more athiest than agnostic. (Previously, I was definitely an agnostic.)

    I was wondering if other people experience this. I know it’s a response to grief in part, but is it worth listening to?

    I’m asking you, because on the whole I trust the commenters here more than the majority of the internet. I feel at home on Jen’s blog, while I avoid most other blogs like the plague. So thanks Jen, for creating such a safe, sensible, sane place to hang out?

  18. says

    That’s it! The atheist assholes must be car people. That explains everything. Car people are mostly white dudes…I’m seeing so many parallels…

  19. shawn says

    What the hell are people so upset about! I’m baffled. As if you don’t have the right to start whatever group you want. I think I’ll start knocking on the doors of clubs I don’t want to be a part of just to let them know because I’m sure they’ll fucking care.

    Naysayers don’t forget that there are people out there (like me) that follow but haven’t got behind any of these secular movements because they feel excluded based on their values and just maybe they’ll feel more comfortable in a movement like Atheism+ (like me I hope).

    Even if Atheism+ is just some form of humanism who cares (as if these things can be so discretely categorized). It isn’t like there is only one humanist group out there. There are many flavors of humanism for instance and I like the taste of this better.

  20. Bill R Painter says

    Excerpt from wikipedia on Gloria Steinem: After returning to the U.S., she served as director of the secretly CIA-funded Independent Research Service, and worked to send non-communist American students to the 1959 World Youth Festival.[10] In 1960, she was hired by Warren Publishing as the first employee of Help! magazine.[11]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Steinem

  21. says

    “Even if Atheism+ is just some form of humanism who cares (as if these things can be so discretely categorized). It isn’t like there is only one humanist group out there. There are many flavors of humanism for instance and I like the taste of this better.”

    Exactly. I don’t feel averse to calling myself a secular humanist, but I don’t feel that strong about it either. It’s just what “fits” my moral compass, as it were. Atheism+ on the other hand, implies that I’m taking a stance.

  22. Bryony Vaughn says

    You know Greta Christina will be the first to cover pink jackboot style on a Fashion Friday post.

  23. says

    Every A+er has to agree with … well, with the “dogma,” if someone wants to use that word, of A+. Because that’s kind of the point? If you want to be part of an atheist social justice movement, you have to support social justice. If you don’t support social justice, A+ isn’t excluding you, you’re simply choosing another path.

    I don’t see Christians complaining. I know a Lutheran feminist who hasn’t whinged that A+ doesn’t address her interests.

  24. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Bill:

    Gender, sexual, political, and economic issues are different controversies that have nothing to do with atheism.

    Some would argue yes they do (as an outgrowth of not believing in higher powers based on a rational view of the world around us). Others wouldn’t. I’m not sure what your point is, since it doesn’t relate to A+ (the basic idea being “hey we’re atheists, PLUS we support social justice”).

    Atheism+ is divisive to atheism.

    Yes, because the Atheist Movement was soooo united before. One of the biggest issues brought out by Elevatorgate was the sexism in the atheist/skeptic community. It’s been over a year and that shit is still going on. Men’s Rights Activits and anti-feminists are still crawling out of the woodwork to bitch and moan whenever people who happen to be atheists blog about harassment policies. It’s clear that the divisiveness has already been occurring. Hence, the creation of a spinoff of Atheism, A+. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to be a part. If you have no interest in social justice, then there’s nothing for you to be worried about. This divisiveness was not the doing of those of us interested in social justice. We’re tired of all the bullshit that’s been going on in the past year and are trying to move forward, and work towards something positive.
    Why you can’t see that or want to be part of that is beyond me.

  25. jeffnussbaum says

    I’d be somewhat okay with this whole thing if it were taking a less absolutist approach. As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority, and you misogynist pig/gender traitor if you don’t agree. It is not without irony that I note that if one attempts to evaluate critically any stance taken by this type of feminist, one is immediately branded.

    I’m pro-equal rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual preference, you name it. The moment you start tarring a group of individuals with the same brush, you’ve lost me. I’m not one of the trolls, and I don’t appreciate being lumped in with them, simply because I have the unmitigated gall to wonder if one of these feminists might be misinformed/mistaken/anything less than 100% honest at all times.

    I don’t frequent reddit, newsgroups, etc. FB and twitter are it. All I see is the aftermath and/or fallout from such events, and had I been witness to the intimidation/threats/etc. that I’ve read about, I would be one of those very loudly calling them on the carpet for their actions. I neither accept nor excuse such individuals or their actions. I have no patience for it.

    This whole “Atheism+” banner is immediately off-putting, as it carries the implication that one subset of atheists is somehow better than the rest, and we get enough of that from theists.

    There is one simple and inescapable fact. The internet atheism community is not representative of all atheists, neither by attitudes or sheer numbers.

    So, then. Am I a misogynist for thinking women should have the freedom to make their own choices, as well as have their choices respected, no matter what they might be? If so, then so be it. Time will tell if this turns out to be more than a grouping of so-called “cool kids,” but my initial impressions, based on what I’ve seen and read thus far, are not… pardon the term… positive.

  26. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority, and you misogynist pig/gender traitor if you don’t agree.

    Oh, shut up.

  27. adamgordon says

    As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority

    Evidence please.

  28. says

    As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority, and you misogynist pig/gender traitor if you don’t agree.

    The moment you start tarring a group of individuals with the same brush, you’ve lost me.

    The irony.

  29. death2santa says

    You can’t ignore something that wrong whether it’s against women or anything else just because you are part of the group, if anything you should be more vocal when these things pop up. If someone in the atheist comunity does something divisive to women we SHOULD point it out. If the religious comunity uses the fact that atheist don’t let their own get away with improper behavior as a reason to put us down. fuck em

  30. says

    But another part will be for “advanced” discussion, so those of us who want to have in depth discussion aren’t constantly dealing with people who don’t know the basics or are purposefully thread-derailing with the same old questions.

    Praise JesusJen! My prayersrequests have been answered!

  31. says

    As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority

    HAHAHAHAHA

  32. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Indeed; it’s no more ‘dogmatic’ than atheism is ‘dogmatic’ about there being no evidence for gods. It’s a poor argument made as a knee-jerk reaction from people who believe they’re being criticised for somehow being wrong.

    Really, this whole business has highlighted the fact that some people think promoting the nonexistence of gods is the end of the line as far as social change goes. I’m still baffled by how much resentment there seems to be when a group of people stands up and says, ‘actually, we want to do some other stuff as well as that’.

  33. James Donnelly says

    Sorry but this does not answer many of the questions that I, and my friends, have asked.

    I still want to know what atheist plus economics consist of or what atheist+ social justice looks like. Flat tax? 50% tax? 100% tax? Can you support atheistplus and favour private healthcare? What about part public part private ownership? Does atheist+ require its members to argue in favour of a nationalised post office? Is it possible for atheist+ advocates to strongly oppose misogyny while also opposing quotas?

    You say that you do not agree with every atheist+ position, are there positions that you have to agree with to consider yourself a part of the movement? Are some atheistplus beliefs more important than others?

  34. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Oh, as I read through that I was so hoping he’d use ‘vagenda’. Maybe next time.

  35. joel says

    This kind of reference to a god always puzzles me:

    “8. Why do you hate atheists who just want to talk about atheism?

    I don’t. I think discussing reasons why God doesn’t exist,,,,”

    You refer to a capitalized ‘God’ as if there were only one that people believe in and as if it actually existed and deserved a proper name?

    It seems to me that you accept the believers’ framing.

    Would not “I think discussing reasons why there are no gods….” state the general case?

  36. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    James Donnelly wrote:

    Are some atheistplus beliefs more important than others?

    As an atheist, do you think it’s more important to deal with Christians or Zoroastrians?

  37. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    It seems to me that you accept the believers’ framing.

    OH MY DAWKINS! Jen, you’re secretly a Christian; joel has broken the biggest story evah!

  38. James Donnelly says

    Hi Jen, 2. confuses me because it contradicts the previous posts about atheism+ which talk about taking action on ‘social justice’ rather than just discussing it. Just wanting to discuss it, since it is such a general term, is more coherent but if all you want to do is discuss it then I don’t know why you are bothering to include it at all.

  39. says

    I’m really starting to like A+ If you need articles, or graphics help, let me know, Jen.

    I remember a panel discussion at TAM 9 where DJ kept going on and on about “mission drift.” My thought at the time was that the JREF could stick with traditional skepticism, and another group could have an expanded focus. I’m glad to see we’re almost there.

  40. says

    I applaud the effort to discuss actual values beyond mere disbelief in god claims (this is a necessary and logical step and it has been on-going for decades, there is really nothing new here). And I completely understand the wish to exclude the Woo side of Humanism as well as the underbelly of non-belief.

    But the irony is the sheer amount of emotional and irrational argument this has produced. Oh Universe, you do have a sense of humor.

  41. mdevile says

    Thank you for giving me “vagenda”. That’s just perfect, I didn’t realize how empty my life was without it~!

  42. adamgordon says

    Isn’t it reasonable to discuss what actions to take before we actually take them? That’s what I get out of #2. The problem is right now we can’t even discuss what actions to take about, say, anti-harassment policies without being shouted down by people claiming that harassment is not an issue.

  43. mdevile says

    Every post I see just gets me more excited for A+. Are you soliciting volunteers to help out with the 101 website?

  44. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    As if any of them will read it, though. There’s a distinct gap between those who actually read blog posts and those who rant on twitter.

  45. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    I definitely favour a strong ‘no sailors’ policy. It’s all the barnacles.

  46. Ron Strong says

    As for #5, it might not be your intent to exclude “old, white men” but people are people, I guarantee it will happen. At the very least it will become “That guy is just a straight, white, old, cisgendered male, therefore nothing he says can be of any consequence”

  47. Robert M. says

    Yeah dictionary atheists are annoying. The other day I pointed out that if you want to get technical the atheist movement could oppose a bill that allowed the teaching of creationism (since it proposes the existence of a deity), but not oppose a bill banning the teaching of evolution.

    Somehow the issue of what ‘real atheism’ is only comes up when someones privilege is challenged.

  48. adamgordon says

    still waiting for evidence that Atheism+ is “entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority, and you misogynist pig/gender traitor if you don’t agree”

  49. mdevile says

    I’m thinking as long as this theoretical “straight, white, old, cisgendered male” is reasonable and not a homophobic, racist, patronizing, transphobic misogynist, he’ll be just fine.

  50. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    So, you’d say it’s up to the individual? If so, you have your answer.

    As far as I can tell, this is about uniting people whose goals overlap, not demanding people adhere to a set list of goals.

  51. jamesemery says

    Greta, those are absolutely lovely, but about as far from jackboots as one can get.

    How would you get a good, loud marching rhythm without breaking a heel? ;)

  52. says

    Except, oddly enough, lots of those people who you think would be excluded are actually right at the leading edge of this thing. Strange how that happened, all ill-informed speculation to the contrary.

  53. Ian says

    I’m just another of those cis/white/middle class males, but I would love to come to a discussion if they ever get off the ground!

  54. Niwikki says

    Wait, it *doesn’t* lead to knitting?!? Darn it, would someone then remind me why I picked up these needles and yarn?

    I would’ve choked on whatever I was drinking when I read that phrase, just cuz we’ve got a pretty vibrant community of atheistic & agnostic knitters/crocheters over on Ravelry, and we’ve been discussing the A+ stuff over there, too.

    But no, Atheism doesn’t lead to knitting; and neither does knitting lead to atheism. Kinda sucks, but it is what it is.

  55. Robert M. says

    Because they’re more subtle and personal than the idea that a magical man lives in the sky. Many people don’t question the concepts and attitudes they receive from society, and when they deconverted they kept a lot of the garbage.

  56. says

    There seem to be a lot of people determined to read things in the worst way possible. Like taking the idea that adding “plus” means “We’re better than the rest of you!” It’s really hard to tell what’s just obtuse and who is intentionally misinforming others or intentionally twisting the messages the worst way.

    Anyway, it’s nice to have a good FAQ to point to. And the Web site sounds like it will be good to have too.

  57. says

    This whole “Atheism+” banner is immediately off-putting, as it carries the implication that one subset of atheists is somehow better than the rest, and we get enough of that from theists.

    You could start Atheism*, Atheism^, or Atheism! and be totally superior to us in terms of mathematical operators. Or Atheism() and have us beat in terms of order of operations. In that light, Atheism+ is really quite modest.

  58. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Funnily enough, I don’t feel bad that – as a straight, white, cisgendered not-that-old male – a lot of what I have to say is of no consequence in this movement.

    Why? Because I’ve got pretty much everything else. Demanding that I also have a say in how those more in need of social justice and increased diversity than I seems a little, I don’t know, greedy.

  59. jeffnussbaum says

    I said that was my impression. I’m perfectly willing to be proven wrong. Again, funny that I expressed skepticism and got lambasted for it. If you find me ignorant, enlighten me.

  60. mdevile says

    I’ve had a couple of friends try to convince me to watch Fringe, and all this time, all they had to say was “vagenda”

    My BFF is going to be pissed!

  61. Ron Strong says

    But if nothing you can say is of any consequence, then it doesn’t matter how much you care. You can do nothing. You can affect nothing. Seems pretty pointless to expend effort that will never accomplish a thing, regardless of whether one cares about the outcome or not.

  62. Niwikki says

    Darn it! Should’ve kept reading before I responded!

    Ah well. At least you actually linked it. I merely referred to it. :)

  63. mdevile says

    @ Ron Strong 34.4.1.1.1

    But if nothing you can say is of any consequence, then it doesn’t matter how much you care. You can do nothing. You can affect nothing. Seems pretty pointless to expend effort that will never accomplish a thing, regardless of whether one cares about the outcome or not

    How about the things you do to effect change every day? Rather than focusing on getting cookies and recognition from the A+ community, why not get out there and use your (theoretical) “straight, white, old, cisgendered male” actions in a positive way, aligned with the values of the community? Start a blog, organize a fundraiser, make a podcast, attend conferences, write letters, etc, etc, etc

  64. InvincibleIronyMan says

    I still prefer “atheist humanist”, but I am prepared to go along with this. It doesn’t involve a change in position for me anyway. I will say, though, I don’t really like the name. For one thing, where I used to say “I am an atheist humanist” what am I to say now? “I am an atheistplusist”? I think it’s as linguistically ugly as the “brights” only for different reasons.

  65. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Firstly, empathy.

    Secondly, inclusivity. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of folks are indicating that A+ has got them interested in being more involved in atheism when before they were put off by how tolerant many people seemed to be of both casual and overt misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, racism and so forth.

    Thirdly, creating a diversity of spokespeople. Do you think someone who checks more than a few boxes of minority status is going to want to listen to a able-bodied straight white cisgendered guy talk about atheism, or someone like them?

    The first is, I guess, personal; the latter two, however, are about growing the numbers. And I thought all atheists were for that – though, given the things I’ve gotten wrong about atheists over the last year (that only a tiny, tiny minority would be complete assholes), I guess I could be wrong about this, too.

  66. Ron Strong says

    So not expending effort on things you care about but can’t effect, saving that effort for things you care about but CAN effect makes one a sociopathic narcissist? But simply caring about something you can do nothing about, where the only thing you can do is congratulate yourself because, darn it, YOU CARE, does not?

    Hmmmmmmmm……

  67. adamgordon says

    I’m curious what specifically gives you the impression that this is about “female superiority.”

    I legitimately have no idea where you are getting this impression. Can you show me what led you to believe this? I’m genuinely interested in where this idea comes from.

  68. Pteryxx says

    Ron Strong: liar. He said “a lot of what I have to say” not “NOTHING” which you switched the goalposts to. Besides, old white dudes do have something useful to say: “I’m an old white dude and I still care about social justice. Other old white dudes, take note. How can I help?”

  69. kaboobie says

    I saw that panel, and I actually considered DJ a friend at the time, but I still thought he got his ass handed to him by Greta Christina and Jamila Bey.

  70. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Ron Strong – since I can’t reply to you in-thread – what I mean is I accept that my opinions on what the goals should be are less valid than the opinions of those who are directly affected by that which we’re seeking to change – not that I can’t do anything.

  71. mdevile says

    Or what Pteryxx said. That works too.

    Besides, old white dudes do have something useful to say: “I’m an old white dude and I still care about social justice. Other old white dudes, take note. How can I help?”

  72. Ron Strong says

    Not about cookies and recognotion. Not even saying A+ is a bad thing. Jen made a point of saying that this isn’t intended to exclude “old white straight guys” and I pointed out that it’s going to happen regardless of intent. No more, no less.

    As for the things you suggested I do with my privilege, I’d suck horribly at most of them.

  73. mdevile says

    Pteryxx made a really good point about the power of just adding your voice and asking what you can do to help.

    Just publicly supporting the message of atheism plus social justice with enthusiasm, would help. I’m not sure what specific kinds of change you’re trying to effect that you feel you’d be excluded from?

  74. says

    I think that part of the point is that you can just say “atheist” when you feel like it. But when you are on board with a social justice issue, you get to add it to your atheism. Otherwise, I think the thrust of this semi-movement is that you just don’t act as an impediment when the social justice issue of the day isn’t something you’re passionate about.

  75. Ron Strong says

    That makes more sense. I still think it will devolve into a hatefest for the people Jen was saying it isn’t supposed to be about excluding. I think it was you mentioned in one of your posts being surprised how many atheists turned out to be assholes; well you shouldn’t have been surprised because atheists are people and that’s the way people are.

    But I do see your meaning now.

  76. Pookabun says

    Hmmm…. I’m an atheist knitter (and I’m amused that so much of this has suddenly begun to involve knitting). I have been on Ravelry quit a bit but I’m not all that familiar with it still. Can one join that atheist knitting group? If so, how does one go about finding it? Thanks :)

  77. Lindsay says

    Feminism has never, and I repeat never, been about “equality.” It has always been about advancing the conditions for women because women have always been second-fiddle to men. Really, feminism is predicated on the fact that men and women are different somehow: in their expression of gender, their expressed values, in how culture shapes and treats them, etc.

    To understand feminism (AND social justice as a whole) is to understand the world as a complex and overlapping system, NOT a bunch of individuals living in finite, individual bubbles. It’s pretty clear that you and a lot of the other nay-sayers don’t get this.

  78. Robert M. says

    As a white, straight, cis, male, I realize don’t have the experience of people who are not one, or any, of the above. Because of that I differ to them on their issues, and their experiences.

    I am pretty sure I won’t be the victim of any purge in A+, because it’s about equality. Because it’s about advocating for disempowered groups. Because it’s about challenging all forms of privilege. And because inclusiveness is not a zero sum game.

  79. McNutcase says

    It’s still there, still joinable, still active, and we’d love to have you. Look under groups for “Atheist & Agnostic Crafters”. I’m over there as DiceyKnitter, but this is the name I use everywhere else on the Internet.

  80. crden says

    As another member of the Ravelry group, you absolutely can join – the more the merrier! when you’re in the groups tab, type atheist in the search feature and pick the largest group you see. Many of us abbreviate it as A&AC if that helps.

  81. says

    re: 10:

    I’m a straight white male and just a month ago, I would have told you I understood the need for “social justice atheism,” but that I was more interested in “scientific atheism.” Then I started reading Moral Combat by Sikivu Hutchinson and then the A+ movement sprung up at the same time, and now I am far more interested in “social justice atheism” – and regard it as ultimately more important – than “scientific atheism.” The latter seems pretty much solved to me; now I think the movement needs to shift its focus by increasing diversity and increasing its (out)reach to spread the message.

    So to whoever claims #10 is true: it doesn’t always apply – at least not to me.

  82. Mattir says

    Definitely there are lots of interesting atheist people doing cool things with string and pointy sticks. Some of us even make our own string and color it by boiling it with various plants. Some of us even make friends with sheep farmers to get the sheep fur when it’s just off the sheep.

    We will make ALL THE ATHEISTS into knitters. Or something.

  83. Scarlet Letter says

    Alright, I’m all for this and I’m one of those would probably not be invited to A+. A+, if I may simplify it by my understanding, seems to just be a left leaning brand of Atheism that focuses on the liberal soup du jour of social justice with probably some other left-leaning ideas thrown in. If I made, let say an economic liberty atheists group called A+E, the same arguments would possibly/probably come up and I’d hope I’d have the wit to answer in like fashion as you. Kudos to you and your group and I hope it does well.

  84. Mattir says

    I like Atheism+ because it gives me a spot with which to identify in the official atheist world. I’ve made many meatspace friends through FtB (especially that most horrid of meanypants commenter groups, Pharyngula), and it’s good to have a name for our sort of atheism, that makes it clear that we’re atheists AND that we work on social justice issues and do not want to associate with the reactionary, vocally anti-feminist faction in atheism. In much of my non-FtB life, I call myself a humanist – that helps when working with progressive religious groups on specific issues (food collection, voter registration, blood drives, litter pickup, youth groups, whatever), but it’s important to have a group of openly non-theist peers who want to work on inclusion and diversity.

    Atheism+ gives me a home in the atheist/skeptic world in a way that the humanist label does not.

  85. Mattir says

    It really really helps to have the white/cis/straight/whatever guys LISTEN to what other people have to say. To have them ask how they can help and offer whatever personal or logistic support is requested when those other people encounter the inevitable ignorant and regressive thugs in life. That stuff really really makes a difference. So yes, Wowbagger, your presence in the movement matters.

  86. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Hoy… atheist groups on ravelry? Why did I not see those before? *joins*

  87. says

    Wow – this is so… uncanny! Some of the responses you’ve got are EXACTLY like the criticism that we get at Harvard! “You’re excluding people! Why do you get to decide what atheism is about? You’re starting a cult! This Humanist said that thing so I hate Humanists!”

    It’s exactly the same unfounded criticisms! How totally weird!

  88. JJ says

    OK, despite my instincts I’m going to comment on the topic of A+,

    First a prior position statement; I believe Jen is an incredible human being and writer. I have referred my (there may be a little prejudice here) absolutely brilliant daughter to this blog to show that a woman can be very scientific and at the same time great at prose. Having said that, I think Jen’s cannon is currently pointed in the wrong direction. Are there dark-aged minded men in the skeptical community? Yes, yes there are. Should they be forced to face the overwhelming evidence of why their wrong? Yes, yes they should. But, should that be the focus of A+? I think if it is, we’re making a grave mistake.

    According to numbers released by Gallup on Thursday, Obama leads Romney among women 50 percent to 42 percent. Romney, by contrast leads among men 50 to 42 percent.

    Look at that again; 42 percent of women are supporting the candidate that endorses a party platform that entails women don’t have a right to chose what happens to their body, that women shouldn’t have access to contraceptives if their employer plays the religion card, and if unequal pay for equal work is the status-quo, well that’s OK as long as it doesn’t upset the free market system. Did everyone catch that, 42 flippin’ percent.

    I think we’d get much further ahead if we pointed the big A+ cannon at those who need the help but haven’t been exposed to the critical thinking skills necessary to recognize it.

    And then encourage small intellectually armed people like myself to go deal with the few Neanderthals in our own camp.

  89. says

    >>> It seems to me that you accept the believers’ framing.

    That would be a non sequitur fallacy.

    Especially in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    So I find this is not simply a poorly considered conclusion but a maliciously maligning one.

    Shame on you.

  90. says

    I’d be somewhat okay with this whole thing if it were taking a less absolutist approach. As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority, and you misogynist pig/gender traitor if you don’t agree. It is not without irony that I note that if one attempts to evaluate critically any stance taken by this type of feminist, one is immediately branded.

    This is something that has been sticking in my craw ever since Elevatorgate.

    What woman on either of these two sites wants women to be superior to men? Can you provide links, maybe even quotes?

    I just don’t get it. I have read Rebecca Watson. I have read Greta Christina. I have read Jen McCreight. I Have read Ophelia Benson. I have read Amy Davis Roth. I have read all of them, over and over again.

    I have NEVER, not ONCE, seen them express, mention, or even hint at the idea that they are fighting for anything other than equality. I have never seen an expression that men are inferior. I have never seen them paint all men with the misogyny brush. I have always seen them acknowledge that it’s not all men.

    And I’ll take it further… I have seen all of them mention and discuss how the Patriarchy hurts men, too.

    I do, actually, recognize the existence of misandry. But I’ve never seen any from anyone on Skepchicks, and from no one that I read and follow on Freethought Blogs (I do not read or follow all the blogs, here… in fact, I only follow 10 of blogs at the moment). And, what’s more, I’ve seen them all recognize the existence of misandry, too.

    So please… I’m begging you… show me what I’m missing.

    Because I’m apparently missing a lot. Where has any of the Skepchicks, or Jen McCreight, or Greta Christina, or Ophelia Benson expressed, mentioned, or hinted at the opinion that women are superior to men?

    Because I would very much like to read it… assuming, of course, that such a thing exists.

  91. WayOutWesley says

    Atheism doesn’t have to worry about becoming divided because it is not an organized movement. It is naturally divided because the definition is so simple and the people who can belong to that group have such a wide ranging difference of belief and opinion. Herding cats and all that stuff don’t ya know….

    Wanting to take and refine the focus and draw forth from that huge pool of atheists to give those with the same intent of pushing the discussions forward is a great idea.

  92. says

    You could just as easily make the argument that instead of focusing on misogyny and poor logic in the Atheist community OR within that 42%, we should be focusing on such issues in, say, third world countries and such. There are plenty of groups with issues with misogyny, and you could make any sort of rationalization for why facing the ‘cannon’ towards that group would be better. In reality though, the only reason we need for picking one thing to go after is because that’s the one we choose to care about, regardless of whether it’s where our efforts would be most effective (an opinion that changes with who you talk to).

    Atheism+ is a response(as far as I can tell) to a very large number (not a few) of neanderthals in Atheism. Saying that our efforts should be directed elsewhere would be like me saying that Atheist knitting groups should be Atheist crochet groups instead. And for that matter, bickering over which one is more legitimate instead of actually getting work done means no godless yarn crafts get made period.

    All of that said, I think you’re misinterpreting A+. It’s not about fixing Atheism; On the contrary, a lot of people seem more willing to leave Neanderthal-Atheism to wallow in it’s misogyny and bigotry. What Atheism+ wants to do is create a group of sorts within Atheism of those that already care about social justice that excludes the asshats, so that said Atheists can work on things like the 42% of women you mention, without being held back by the assholes who insist on having basic humanity explained to them before they stop getting in the way (they never stop, by the way).

  93. F says

    Stop making sense!

    Or I swear, I’ll still find a way to troll you. I know. I’ll just disregard everything you actually say, and continue to compare you with mass-murdering dictators.

  94. Lindsay says

    Don’t patronize me: I have a major in Women’s Studies so I know a lot more about the history and development of feminism than your average layperson.

    I’ve read theory from Mills to Harraway, and even the early first wavers weren’t really in it for “equality”–because they wanted to be raised to the place of a man–they were in it to make things better for WOMEN. It may seem like splitting hairs but it’s a huge difference, and one that a lot of people fallaciously exploit.

    It sounds like you’re mistaking the school of liberal humanist feminism, which favors legal over cultural methods of change, as some attempt at “equalism.” It’s not. Likewise, gynocentrism isn’t about ~the superiority~ of women: it’s about re-evaluating cultural priorities to include values that are traditionally feminine because, thus far, cultural expression skews heavily toward men’s experiences.

  95. Lindsay says

    Also: are you somehow extrapolating that I’m defending the OP? Because I’m not. I’m 100% a gynocentric feminist, so the fact that feminism is for the betterment of women is not a bad thing to me.

  96. says

    I’ve been a reader for awhile, but not a commenter yet. Thanks for voicing so many of my concerns so clearly.

    In reading all the hubbub about Atheism+, I’m curious if you might consider having a blogroll, like the outcampaign (http://outcampaign.org/blogroll)? I’d much prefer to feature the A+ logo on my blog, and be linked to a blogroll of self-identified A+ers, than the outCampaign (even if I am on the wee outskirts of the net).

  97. triamacleod says

    Is there room for a quilter in your group? I can crochet too but knitting just gets me in a tizzy.

  98. triamacleod says

    This is simply my opinion, as I don’t know the fellow personally, but it reminds me of something John Stewart hit on.

    Not getting your way all the time is not the same as being persecuted.

    Maybe it comes from privilege, maybe it comes from being able to ignore a lot of things. But I just had a horrible experience over at another blog and it seems that all but two of the commentors there just ‘don’t get’ why women have to put up so much of a fuss. How dare we make them feel uncomfortable by calling them out on their behavior. When I tried to explain my experiences, as a woman, at some atheist events I was dismissed. I don’t think they meant to be such idiots about things, I just don’t think they have the empathy to understand how it feels to not be ‘them’. And when someone points this out to them they go from ‘you’re being too sensitive’ to ‘you’re persecuting me’ with no time to stop and think about where the other person might be coming from.

  99. myriadwords says

    Woohoo! Crocheter here, and delighted to see two of my favourite things mixed together. Just joined (I’m lashingtail).

    Good grief. I stop lurking, and am within days outing myself as a yarn geek. :p

  100. triamacleod says

    The only ‘old, white, straight guys’ who will be excluded will be the ones who chose to exclude themselves. I have yet to see anyone claiming that certain physical, sexual or age criteria must be met to be part of Atheism+.

    All it requires is a mindset and many of us are very, very excited and happy for this. It feels more inclusive to a good portion of us who had simply retreated to the fringes. It brings more people to the table and isn’t that what we want in the end? I’m confident that the first Atheism+ branded conference will be far more diverse than anything we’ve seen so far. Depending on how it’s organized I can even see many more families attending.

  101. triamacleod says

    Not to mention when you say, “I am an Atheist plus”. The first thing most people will ask is “plus what?” What an opportunity to talk and teach. Atheist is a ‘known’ title and one that unfortunately has a bad connotation in many areas. Add that ‘plus’ and it confuses them, they have to ask and listen to what you say in order to know what you are. I think it’s a great marketing/PR tool to get the point across.

  102. myriadwords says

    I did a happy dance when Jen proposed a third wave, call it what you will, because I’m interested in the intersectional, inclusive social issues. Despite what I’d occasionally like to think, I still have a lot to learn, and a lot of my own entrenched preconceptions to challenge. This is exactly what I’d hoped for from the atheist/skeptic community, first as a student and hopefully now as a participant.l My thanks to everyone who has expressed such enthusiasm.

  103. Bringerofmorning says

    Hi again Richard

    You spoke about ‘admitting’ atheism as if I may be struggling with it. Never been an issue- I’m from a several-generation gods-free family and anyway, I’m English so the times people have cared whether or not I’m atheist irl add up to less than two. Still not a fan of the pernicious influence and special pleading for religion, just no personal issues here. Also, bang alongside all your causes and have even left the house to protest about some of ‘em, even in inclement weather.

    What I don’t like is the ‘come in peace, shoot to kill’ approach you’ve selected. If you find it’s working for you, triff, as you were. I don’t have to, nor are you my enemy. Vilifying people is fun because you get to leap thrillingly about on the moral highground but you are not leaving people room to change and in any case sometimes you may be wrong.Even you. Yep, if you have ever changed your mind about anything you know this to be true.I can’t think of a single time in my life that hostility has caused me to re-think rather than dig my heels in. Just as well, cos most of the hostility came from people with horrible ideas about women working for the same rate as men and lone parents being the fount of all evil. Still not attracted to the approach from people espousing causes written into my bones. Being a lone parent meant my status being vilified every day (day after day after day) in the Tory (right wing) press for years, and plenty of real-life snide comments. It made me stronger and more determined.

  104. says

    Another white older guy here standing up to say he’s cool with A+.

    If I had a message I’d keep thumping on when communicating the movement to others it would be ‘this is a discussion, not a doctrine’.

    A+ is not a homogenous mass marching in lockstep but a higgledy piggledy group pulling roughly in the direction of justice/equality issues but in ways that may well conflict. For example, Atheism+ may well find itself embroiled in feminist discussions that are pro- or anti-porn. A+ers can hold opposing opinions on these things in good faith because their goals are progressive, not reactionary. The purpose of the movement is not to thrash out a doctrine on this (though who knows, a consensus might be reached on rational grounds), but to keep the derailing, reactionary voices out of the conversation.

    At least that’s my take. Yours might vary.

  105. says

    Kindly demonstrate which feminists in the A+ movement have made claims about female superiority or shown that this is their goal.

    Until you can establish such an intent–a single quote would do–I shall treat your view with extreme skepticism. Because so far I see zero evidence for the truth of your assertion.

    You may wish to re-examine your premise.

  106. says

    I would also note that age and ageism is a social justice issue–something which us white males will have plenty to talk about. Along with related age issues such as healthcare.

  107. says

    It’s worth saying that A+ is not just about feminism.

    I’m certain that A+ will have plenty to say that’s close to white, old male hearts such as ageism, welfare, the hollowing out of pensions and, of course, healthcare and senior care.

    If there’s another message I’d tubthump about, it’s that A+ is not just about teh wimminz or race but about issues that affect every single damn person on this planet.

    We all get old, and unless you are the kind that will die fast and young, old age is definitely something a concern of all of us.

  108. Greta Christina says

    How dare you question me?!?!? I am the Atheist Pope of Fashion, and if I say they’re jackboots, they are jackboots!

  109. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    …am I to understand there will be no distribution of pink jack boots, then? :(

  110. Stan Brooks says

    Just to be clear, I’m a 60+ year old hetro, white, grey haired human of the male persuasion. Somehow I don’t think of myself as “old”, but that might be a problem of perception, one can’t be sure. Regardless, I strongly support A+ atheism, as I believe it important to identify as an atheist and yet I am also strongly in support of humanist values, namely social justice in all its varied guises, but most importantly, to me, as relating to issues of sexuality, gender equality and general social equality. I find nothing in what I’ve read so far, albeit limited, to suggest that I would not be welcomed.

  111. hoary puccoon says

    Are you sure you aren’t just projecting? Because there’s been nothing Jen or Ophelia or Greta have written that indicates a hate-fest.

    What they have said, repeatedly, is that they’re no longer going to let the conversation be dominated by people who oppose social justice. But unless you think that opposing any benefits or even any fair play for less priviledged people is the true political position of all straight, white, cis-gendered men, there’s no problem here.

    So, is that what you think? That everyone’s true position is, “I’ll get mine, and screw everybody below me.”? Because I can assure you that’s not the case. There are plenty of old, straight, white men who would really feel happier in a fairer atheist movement and a fairer world. And I predict they will be a welcome asset to Atheism+.

  112. B-Lar says

    For years I have wished that moderate/progressive christians would call out the hateful nonsense that is propogated by the extremists who walk among them. I assumed that they wouldnt dare because if reason was shone upon their own beliefs then they too would be found lacking.

    Now that the hateful atheists are going to be called out on their nonsense, we should be pleased. We are capable of doing something that the theists never could. DISSASOCIATE FROM THE HATIESTS.

    You dont have to make a choice. Your ideas and words will do that for you.

    You can be for us, against us, or neither. However, if you are neither, then get the hell out of the way.

  113. leebrimmicombe-wood says

    Jeff, you made an unsupported and mean-spirited assertion that smears some good people. How is that in any way productive?

    Either support your claim with facts or kindly go elsewhere.

  114. Suido says

    The pretty huge overlap with secular humanism was my initial reason for doubting the need for Atheism+, but after thinking it over for a while, I reckon there is a space for it in spectrum of atheist/humanist positioning.

    You have my aks. I aks really good questions sometimes.

  115. Aunrd says

    I think A+ is a great idea. I’m behind it 100%. Where can I get a tee shirt with a great big A+ on the front?

  116. says

    I’ve seen multiple people make the Jehovhah’s Witnesses comparison. I’m not sure if they’re accusing A+ of proselytizing or extreme shunning and ostracizing of even close friends and family for not obeying the rules of The Organization. Either way, these people clearly have no idea what it’s like in “The Truth”. (Ex JW, btw)

  117. says

    I’d be somewhat okay with this whole thing if it were taking a less absolutist approach. As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority…

    As a man, I don’t get the slightest impression that the Atheist+ feminists regard me as inferior. It seems strange to me that someone would even think this. Yes, the feminists are extremely assertive of their own rights, but I fail to see how this diminishes me at all.

    Are you sure that some other aspect of your psyche isn’t leaking through?

  118. sc_b71eb3f202449d227aec94c046aaa961 says

    I am Larry Carter Center, American Atheist for over half of my life of 60 years. Since 1981 I’ve fought side by side with Atheists for our civil rights. Frankly dealing with “mis’conceptions” is simply symptomatic of a “siege mentality.” DR Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s book FREEDOM UNDER SIEGE and our fight for FREEDOM OF THE MIND is all about Atheism and the personal attacks upon Atheists by anyone be he a cowardly believer or a cowardly Atheist/Humanist/Agnostic/Objectivist/Secularists/Realist/Rationalist/Unitarian/Ethical Culturist or she be timid philosophical eupraxophist fearing attacks upon her Atheism…. let’s get real, let’s keep our eyes upon the prize, our nation restored to it’s founding secular vision, our Constitution has zero mention of the meaningless god word…. stop capitalizing the fake idea of god and we will be along way towards demanding religious bigots quit claiming the title god for their god be it’s name YahWeh, YHWH, Krishna, Tarvu, FSM, Allah, Jeebush Jehobah or Ghost Holes …. 843-926-1750 Dial An Atheist since 1981

  119. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    The cowardly backpeddaling when your hypocrisy is pointed out.

  120. sc_b71eb3f202449d227aec94c046aaa961 says

    Larry_Carter_Center@yahoo.com @VoteLarryDis114 http://www.hireLarryFireBobby.com oust corrupt Speaker Bobby Harrell worst of all 49 USA house Speakers …. who names their dog Dog? How arrogant and bigoted for believers to pretend their god is the only god and claim the title god for a name? The King James Bible god of the Gideons & USA In god We Trust & One Nation Under god is Jehobah, Jeeeeebush Ghost Holes, 3=1 god … not Allah of Saudi Arabia or Adonai of the Knesset 843-926-1750

  121. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Since you haven’t said a single true thing about feminism, why in the world would you then lie about having a degree in it? Don’t you understand that we actually know what feminism is and can spot a blatant liar from 50 paces?

  122. sc_b71eb3f202449d227aec94c046aaa961 says

    I fight theocrats, I fight tampon terrrorists, and my Feminism is firmly rooted in the fact my two daughters are fully equal humans to any male patriarch who pretends any woman is a sex object or less than his worthless ignorant male entitled misogyny…. I’ve been a Feminist all my life admitting women may choose me, women decide if they want me, the choice is theirs, “seduction” is a complete delusion on the part of boys at best and rape at it’s worst

  123. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Translation: bitches ain’t shit if you can’t domninate them.

  124. sc_b71eb3f202449d227aec94c046aaa961 says

    and for the homophobes out there, reconsider feeling flattered a same sex romantic gesture is communicated to you instead of your ignorant feelings of revulsion or intent to do violence to a gay man or a lesbian woman as the case may be …. I just say thank you but all my gay lovers know I’m not gay and I’m promised to my life partner Sue who Johnny Cash does not sing about…. can we please laugh more about all this stupid sexist theocratic crap we are trying to flush down the toilet of history?

  125. sc_b71eb3f202449d227aec94c046aaa961 says

    Larry_Carter_Center@yahoo.com here 843-926-1750 there is no guarantee that Atheists can not suffer brain chemistry imbalances or mental diseases or defects…. our Atheism is our ability to do science regarding alleged deities & religions that we observe…. a careful scrutiny of a few faiths & one god or another and the track record is clear…. gods are impossible ideas that have no physical or real referents … no where do gods exist known & proven and only inside the brains of believers do gods have any impact on humanity or our planetary habitat with other KNOWN SPECIES http://www.hireLarryFireBobby.com @VoteLarryDis114 @AtheistVet

  126. jamessweet says

    That question 10 is actually a thoughtful one. I will say that at times, some of the bloggers who would pretty much be considered the poster children for A+ have taken an approach that I think is more likely to alienate than educate (only some of you some of the time, mind you). It’s hard to avoid this — I get that people have completely lost patience, and walking someone through the basics is exhausting.

    Anyway, it’s good you’re thinking about this. That’s all. (The other 9 misconceptions are just yuck)

  127. says

    the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority

    I have never met, encountered, or even heard tell of this supposed kind of feminist.

  128. The Time Is Now says

    This movement has great potential, but I think it would be a serious mistake to let Richard Carrier provide the “intellectual artillaery” that he offers.

    The guy botched his run in with Bart Ehrman, and has a serious anger control problem.

  129. The Time Is Now says

    Whats wrong with Brights.

    Atheist are better than other people, intellecually and morally.

    You know it. Admit it.

  130. The Most Ardent Supporter of Real Equality says

    Mark my words, this is NOT good for atheism. She is creating factions… why? WHY?! The fact that A+ has so much support just makes me want to leave the movement altogether. I’m 100% for equality of all types, but I cannot agree with what A+ stands for. I totally disagree that is a positive or progressive movement.

    But those aren’t even the biggest problems. It vastly undermines the atheistic argument. No matter how much she denies it, she is creating a cult-like sect for her own benefit. Seeing Greta’s support for it disappointed me so much. Hitchens wouldn’t want this. And gosh, I hope so much that Dawkins doesn’t support it.

  131. LTFT says

    On #2: Why does everyone have to agree with my (your) particular dogma…

    My problem is that, to be useful, sooner or later A+ is going to have to stop discussing, stop talking, and start acting or lobbying. And at that point you will have to accept A+ dogma (at least in a sense).

    Organizations and the individuals within those groups have a reciprocal relationship with one another. An organization like A+ gets its voice and its influence from the (number of) individuals it represents. In exchange, the voices of the individuals within the group are amplified to a level that even politicians can hear.

    I hate to compare anything atheism-related to anything church-related, but bear with me. Some churches are wonderfully progressive and productive- running food pantries, organizing people to volunteer at soup kitchens, providing post-violence (even non-theistic) counseling, and the like. These are all good things. But I still wouldn’t want to belong to that church because (among other obvious reasons) there will undoubtedly be issues where I would disagree with the church but my membership in the church would still be used to bolster the argument made by the church*. I’d rather just volunteer at the soup kitchen, just give canned goods to the food pantry, just provide a safe meeting space for counseling.

    Similarly, I’d rather just support, with my little voice and my little dollars, causes I believe in directly rather than empowering an organization to potentially speak, lobby, and act for me. I think I agree with everything A+ stands for and I probably support everything it wants to do. But I don’t want to lend my voice to an organization without knowing exactly where it stands and, right now, we don’t know exactly where A+ stands, what it will be lobbying for, how it will be acting, and so on.

    *-Here again I don’t mean in the, ‘Bob is in the church so it must be right’ sense but rather the, ‘We’re speaking for 2000 people so pay attention to us on this issue’ sense.

  132. says

    Mark my words, this is NOT good for atheism. She is creating factions… why?

    Well the factions already exist whether you acknowledge them or not. Just look at Elevatorgate or the vicious response toward the effort to institute anti-harassment policies. A+ just highlights the differences, bringing them into sharp relief.

    WHY?!

    Because discussions of progressive politics and their intersection with atheism keep getting derailed by mean-spirited reactionaries.

    The fact that A+ has so much support just makes me want to leave the movement altogether.

    This leaves me scratching my head. A+ is not ‘the movement’. Rather, it’s the politically progressive part of the movement that overlaps with the broader atheist movement. You don’t have to join in and A+ doesn’t require you to leave ‘the atheist movement’. Your statement seems a little overwrought.

    What makes you so afraid of A+? Is it because many women are there and you feel left out?

    I’m 100% for equality of all types, but I cannot agree with what A+ stands for.

    Why? What does it stand for that is so awful for you?

    I totally disagree that is a positive or progressive movement.

    Can you explain why you disagree? Why is it not progressive?

    As for positivity, the only thing I’ve seen negative about A+ so far is the desire to remove itself from the chorus of reactionaries, naysayers, sexists and mean-spirited souls who have made many lives a misery. Which I view as a delightful feature, not a bug.

  133. says

    But those aren’t even the biggest problems. It vastly undermines the atheistic argument.

    How? I don’t see how this undermines it in the slightest. Can you please demonstrate how?

    No matter how much she denies it, she is creating a cult-like sect for her own benefit.

    May I gently suggest you are being just a tad fearful and irrational. What evidence do you have to suggest Jen is a sectary? How is A+ remotely cult-like?

    Seeing Greta’s support for it disappointed me so much. Hitchens wouldn’t want this. And gosh, I hope so much that Dawkins doesn’t support it.

    Hitchens is dead, and I certainly don’t venerate the reactionary old toad, nasty piece of work that he was. As for Dawkins, if he doesn’t support Atheism+ I shall shrug and move on. His involvement would be appreciated, but is hardly necessary to the cause. Plusers will collaborate with Dawkins on matters of mutual agreement and argue on those matters where they conflict.

  134. says

    Out of sheer curiosity, what objective standard will be employed to determine if someone is one of the “assholes” that you wish to leave behind, or is it purely subjective? Will there be a litmus test or will it be personal?
    Consider a case like 19th century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Some may call him a misogynist, but he was actually a misanthrope; he thought that as a rule people were just no damned good. He was a sharp and often times nasty critic of his contemporaries and his words were often quite harsh. But, he was a thinker of some note and worthy of meaningful consideration. Would a 21st century version of Schopenhauer be welcome as an A+, or will they be left behind as some kind of “asshole”, and who makes this determination?

  135. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    I like those better. Hmm, I already have hot-pink chrome-finish 8-hole Doc Martens, I think those would do nicely.

  136. says

    I was going to reply to the OP with,

    “But you want to exclude old, white, men!” = “But you want old, white men not to be in charge of everything anymore, and BAAAAWWWW!!!”

    I strongly suspect this is the underlying fear in Ron’s comments.

  137. says

    Mike, I’m not sure there will be a litmus test, nor does does the movement need one. Unless the reactionaries start infiltrating fifth columnists amongst A+ blogs and conferences, I suspect atheists will simply shuffle and organise themselves into the correct pigeonholes regardless of any test, just as they do in almost every other political movement. Like will attract like and repel unlike.

    Really, all A+ is is a movement that says ‘here we are, over here and these are values we would like to strive towards. If you don’t share these, leave us alone’. I don’t think you will find a doctrine, a dogma, a creed that must be recited.

    The misanthrope issue is interesting. However, misanthropes, as a rule, tend to exist outside frameworks of movements. They are an uncollegial bunch by definition and probably don’t want to belong to something like A+.

    Certainly, I severely doubt there will be a Star Chamber to make these sorts of judgements and pronouncements on someone’s arseholeitude.

  138. jim says

    Hopefully not, since our intent is the opposite.

    My suggestion then is to keep Carrier away from the planning committee. Because when you ramp from 0 to GTFO, where do you think those budding atheists will go? They’ll jump right into the waiting arms of Tfoot, the Randi forums, and other atheist communities that aren’t associated with A+ . . . if they’re looking for online community then you need to keep open, safe spaces that allow for civil disagreement and discussion or else you will drive people to the “enemy”.

    And before anyone says that “0 to GTFO” is a straw man, the fact that Jen felt the need at all to address it by edit shows that people are thinking about it.

  139. Evil Jenny says

    Slight programming note: Pastafarians are not technically atheists. We have a prophet, and a god, and pirate gear.

  140. smhll says

    So, then. Am I a misogynist for thinking women should have the freedom to make their own choices, as well as have their choices respected, no matter what they might be?

    Nah, that doesn’t make you a misogynist. But it DOES make you a thorn in my side, as you didn’t provide any support for your assertion (or opinion) that the pro-feminist women lining up to participate in Atheist Plus have an agenda of establishing “female superiority”. I have heard this elusive claim before, but it isn’t congruent with what I have read in my fairly extensive amounts of feminist reading. Got examples? Thanks.

  141. smhll says

    There seem to be a lot of people determined to read things in the worst way possible. Like taking the idea that adding “plus” means “We’re better than the rest of you!”

    Right! I’m pretty sure if superiority was the goal, the “A” would be surrounded by “>>” (greater than signs).

  142. AylaSophia says

    Pretty sure no one is saying “You can’t be in our club!” The exclusion is done by the individuals; by saying “I don’t agree with A+, and I want nothing to do with it,” they are excluding themselves. To continue the knitting metaphor: if one dislikes or simply has no interest in fibre crafts, they are excluding themselves from the Atheist Knitting Club. None of the Atheist Knitters is going around pointing at people and telling them they can’t join.

  143. bakarichavanu says

    Awesome responses here. I just did a long back and forth on Twitter with someone who raise nearly all the criticisms you respond to, and I pretty responded to him with the same points you make here. So we’er on the same page. For me, in sum, Atheists Plus says, for example, I want a world without god, and I want us to strive for peach and justice in our world. It says, for another example, that I think religion is wrong is about abortion, and I support a woman’s right to choose. Yes, Atheists Plus extends the definition of atheism. If you can’t agree with it, no one is demanding that you go by that definition. Thanks for all that you’re writing about this topic.

  144. says

    The Most Ardent Supporter of Real Equality

    That would be the “real equality” that pretends men and women, whites and PoC, straight/cis people and GLBT people, etc. are on level playing fields and calls any objection to this assertion “the real -ism”?

  145. tracieh says

    Amen to that. Your comment reminds me…

    A schism has already existed for a long while. I’ve had to correct many atheists who insist atheism is skepticism, secularism, anti-theism, and a billion other things it’s not. The plus label only helps to clarify what is and what is *not* atheism. Additionally, those who want to be atheist, skeptic, anti-theists, and whatever else, can be. Those who like atheist-only, can not add the pluses. Everybody wins. On my Facebook page, I friend other atheists, but not if I see anything that indicates they’re not also skeptics, if they seem accommmodationist, sexist, homophobic, racist, and so on. I don’t enjoy socializing with people who bring these things to the table. I don’t want to pass laws to restrict their freedoms, but I certainly think it’s fine for me to exercise my freedom of association and not socialize with people I don’t like. And just being an atheist doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to like you. So, “+” seems to incorporate a lot of what I *do* look for (or look for a lack of–such as racism, sexism, gay hate, gullibility, etc.) in others. It will be a handy filter. It’s not “exclusive,” because I have *already* excluded these people for years now from my social circle just as a matter of personal principle and preference. Putting a label on what I already do doesn’t really change anything about it. It’s like saying that if we label people who hate other races as “racist,” that somehow changes anything about it.

  146. tracieh says

    >I think I’ll start knocking on the doors of clubs I don’t want to be a part of just to let them know because I’m sure they’ll fucking care.

    This was brilliant.

  147. tracieh says

    >Men’s Rights Activits and anti-feminists are still crawling out of the woodwork to bitch and moan whenever people who happen to be atheists blog about harassment policies.

    Yeah, and I wouldn’t stop them from picking a label and wearing a piece of jewelry so I could recognize and avoid them at every opportunity. They’re more than welcome to start their own club. I encourage them.

  148. tracieh says

    >I said that was my impression.

    I agree with the poster above. Did the impression come right out of your ass or do you have something tangible that actually justified it? You don’t just say “I get the impression my husband is cheating on me…but I have no reason or evidence to support it…but I’ll believe it till I’m proven wrong.” That’s the Argument from Ignorance in a nutshell, isn’t it?

  149. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Somehow I don’t think of myself as “old”, but that might be a problem of perception, one can’t be sure.

    Are you reflexively suspicious of teenagers?

  150. tracieh says

    Since there is no *like* button, I’m just posting to say I like what you just said about pedantic derailing. I read the comment and thought, “OMFG (with a cap “G”), you read this post and this is what you came away from it with, seriously?”

  151. tracieh says

    Absolutely agree with the above sentiment. As a heterosexual person, I know how important it is to throw my support behind gay rights. They’re estimated (as much as you can try to estimate it?) at about 10% of the population. Without support from others, that’s going to be a tough road for them to go it alone. People I care about are gay, and I care about people–who are sometimes gay. And if I don’t want to live in a world where they’re shat upon by bigots, then I need to step up. But I don’t step up and start telling them what I think and what they should do. I spend most of my time with my gay friends *listening* to them tell me about what their experiences are like. They are people *just like me*–but their social experience is *not* just like mine. What they deal with and their communities are not *the same*–since they’ve had to adapt to their marginalized status within society. So, if I want to be useful/helpful, I need to let them tell me what it is they need from me. And my role is strictly one of support. And I’m completely OK with that role.

  152. tracieh says

    >Jen made a point of saying that this isn’t intended to exclude “old white straight guys” and I pointed out that it’s going to happen regardless of intent.

    I can’t see why it would be an inevitability. As the poster directly above indicates–unless they opt out themselves. Nobody so far promoting the movement has indicated gender, race, age, or orientation criteria. I’m straight, and I’m sure gay issues will be a focus–do I feel left out and excluded by that? Uh, no. Why would I? I would be an idiot to think that just because gay rights will certainly be a big part of this that there’s no room for a straight person in the A+ movement.

  153. tracieh says

    >But, should that be the focus of A+?

    I don’t think it is…? I think it’s about making social improvements, not getting together to gripe about atheists who insist sexism and homophobia don’t exist. In the same way science is about progressing knowledge, not hammering Flat-Earthers.

  154. tracieh says

    Wait–are you saying there isn’t going to be a door-to-door sales pitch committee? I was hoping to volunteer…?

  155. Orlando says

    Oh, I’m quite certain that this is something Hitchens wouldn’t have wanted. To which I reply ‘yipeee!’. He was a classic example of a person whose atheism failed to translate into any other area of rational thought, and whose priority was to hang on tight to whatever forms of privilege the status quo afforded him. He would have excluded himself from this project, and we would have experienced that as a benediction.

  156. says

    Can someone be an anarchist and an Atheist+er?

    yes (but you can’t be a manarchist; if you’re going to deny the existence of axes of oppression other than classism, you’re not suited for this movement). Beware of white men saying who can or cannot be part of a movement that isn’t about white men ;-)

  157. ltft says

    Hi Daisycutter,

    I don’t disagree with your reply at all. I wanted to reply to Jen’s post for two reasons.

    First, I’m just always hesitant to sign up or contribute to umbrella organizations covering lots of topics (like A+) for the reasons above and I wanted to voice that opinion. Second, I’m not sure you can say that there won’t be something of a dogma you’ll be more-or-less forced to support (as Jen argues in point 2). Your count in the roll, your dollars to the cause, will be distributed where A+ sees fit, not you*.

    I think A+ is a good idea and I wish the cause well. It’s just not for me.

    *- Obviously I don’t really know this yet; A+ could just be a self-identifier that never does much beyond inflame the web (in a good way). I’m assuming, perhaps wrongly, that A+ will ultimately organize a little more fully and direct donations to causes, solicit funds, organize lobbying trips, etc.

  158. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    I think it’ll be pretty easy to start off with, since the A+ will be entirely self-applied – the people who oppose what it stands for already call themselves atheists, but they sure as hell won’t append an A+ to anything on their avatars or blogs or whatever.

    Not at the beginning anyway. Should it take off like many hope it will, there’ll be plenty of people who are slagging it off now who’ll be insisting they were all for it further down the line. A bit like those Christians who insist Christianity has always opposed slavery…

  159. smhll says

    @jamessweet

    That question 10 is actually a thoughtful one. I will say that at times, some of the bloggers who would pretty much be considered the poster children for A+ have taken an approach that I think is more likely to alienate than educate (only some of you some of the time, mind you). It’s hard to avoid this — I get that people have completely lost patience, and walking someone through the basics is exhausting.

    I appreciate the “some of the people, some of the time” qualifier.

    Anytime we have a couple of dozen individuals commenting on the thread it is quite difficult and in fact improbable for the collective group to be a good listener. Which may explain why people feel not listened to, or misunderstood, or interrogated, or berated. (Even if only one or two people are doing the latter.)

  160. Arkady says

    Heh, minor derail but I first read ‘axes of oppression’ not as the plural of axis, but of axe. Wondering if the ‘Axe of Oppression’ is related to the ‘Axe of Loving Kindness’ in the game Munchkin…

    I can offer no axes to the cause, but I have my great-grandmother’s knitting needles. Solid steel ;-) Atheist Knitting/Social Justice ftw!

    (just don’t ask me for even tensioning. Scarves are about my limit…)

  161. Nathair says

    Carrier’s pronouncement about what is the official atheism+ political and economic theory and who we would therefore denounce made me wonder when he was elected Pope of the new movement. Did I miss a vote or something?

  162. otrame says

    Greg Epstein, head of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, called me to give me his support for Atheism+ and to agree that the debate about labels is silly.

    Does the fact that I think the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard is silly make me a bad person?

  163. says

    I think there’s another aspect of opposition that I haven’t seen discussed (which is at least as likely to reflect what I’ve seen as it is what’s been discussed):

    Meet Roger. Roger is an atheist. In fact, Roger believes that if someone who doesn’t believe in gods doesn’t reject all unquestioned dogmata and received wisdom, that person’s atheism isn’t fully realized.

    I don’t wholly disagree.

    Roger also thinks of feminism is an unquestioned dogma and anti-homophobia received wisdom.

    My experience tells me the same thing; I grew up in a Champagne socialist household in Brooklyn, and (overt) misogyny and homophobia were not part of my childhood. I happen to know better, but “happen to” is the important part of this.

    Roger doesn’t know better. Thus, he thinks it is misogyny and homophobia that are the truly skeptical positions, and Atheism+ the mere substitution of one faith for another.

  164. says

    With apologies to nice people named Roger.

    It’s late on my personal clock, and I admit I don’t know that this adds a great deal to the conversation; my only consolation is that it’s far enough down that I can tell myself no one’s going to care.

  165. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    In fact, Roger believes that if someone who doesn’t believe in gods doesn’t reject all unquestioned dogmata and received wisdom, that person’s atheism isn’t fully realized.

    I haven’t met an atheist like that before, but I’ll bite. First I’d like to know if Roger is familiar with what *dogma* actually is.

    Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma

    [emphasis mine]
    One of the key things to remember about dogma is found in bold. Does Roger have the correct understanding of dogma? Or does he think it’s simply an established belief or doctrine?

    Roger also thinks of feminism is an unquestioned dogma and anti-homophobia received wisdom.

    My question to this hypothetical “Roger” would be:
    *Why* do you feel feminism is an unquestioned dogma? After all, perhaps somewhere in the definition of feminism one will find unquestionable, authoritative beliefs/doctrine about the pursuit of social, economic, and political equality between women and men–BUT I’VE NEVER SEEN SUCH A DEFINITION.
    Follow up questions:
    How did Roger come to that conclusion? Did he educate himself so that he’s knowledgeable about the subject, and thus able to make an informed opinion? Or is he simply parroting what he’s heard elsewhere (gossip, church, etc), without truly thinking and analyzing the information?
    Is Roger informed about the goals and history of feminism? Is he opposing feminism, or a strawman he’s created?
    As for Roger’s anti-homophobic stance, I’d ask many of the same questions, but I would need to know his specific opinion of gay people (e.g. are they ok, but icky? do they all need to be rounded up and imprisoned? do they need to be killed? do they deserve to be treated second class?)

    Roger doesn’t know better. Thus, he thinks it is misogyny and homophobia that are the truly skeptical positions, and Atheism+ the mere substitution of one faith for another.

    I would question how much of a skeptic Roger is if he believes that misogyny and homophobia are true skeptical position.
    Additionally, I would add that Roger has no *clue* what faith is, if he thinks A+ has anything to do with “knowledge without evidence”. Nor does he have an understanding of the goals of A+. Roger would do well to stop talking and educate himself.

  166. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    And at that point you will have to accept A+ dogma (at least in a sense).

    If you’re a member of A+ it stands to reason that you’re an individual who seeks equality for all. I’m not sure how that’s dogma.
    Too many people arguing against A+ keep forgetting what it’s all about.
    Social.
    Justice.

  167. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    I’m 100% for equality of all types, but I cannot agree with what A+ stands for.

    This doesn’t even make sense on Bizarro World.
    Atheism Plus is “atheism + social justice”. Do you know what social justice *is*?

    From Wikipedia

    Social justice is justice exercised within a society, particularly as it is exercised by and among the various social classes of that society. A socially just society is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, understands and values human rights, and recognizes the dignity of every human being

    You said you’re for equality of all types, but against what A+ stands for??!!
    A+ stands for Atheism PLUS equality for all types.
    I’d love to hear how you’re for and against the same thing.

  168. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    tracieh:

    Absolutely agree with the above sentiment. As a heterosexual person, I know how important it is to throw my support behind gay rights.

    as a member of the queer community: Thank You.
    It’s nice to hear from the allies (we hear waaaaaaay too much from the other side).

  169. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Not in the least bit.
    ‘Humanist’ and ‘Chaplaincy’ in the same sentence–I’m just going to smile.

  170. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    That’s it.
    I’ve had it.
    I can stand no more.

    Why do women get the clothes and accessories with such creative designs while men all too often get “bland and boring”?

    [that’s my way of asking if those pink jackboots come in a men’s version]

  171. says

    Roger’s kinda stupid, remember. Or at least he doesn’t think about things very hard.

    And, everyone he knows of his parents’ generation, every authority figure he’s personally encountered — all feminists, all soi-disant LGBT allies. Roger is from a bubble in which (giving lip service to) social justice is “mainstream” and unquestioned.

    (Also, “faith” and “dogma” are my words, not Roger’s, and I reiterate that it’s late on my personal clock and I’m not necessarily expressing myself clearly.)

  172. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    For the life of me I cannot understand why atheists would enforce these things that were put upon society by religion in the first place.

    Don’t forget that many atheists grew up in religion soaked cultures. Even if one escapes from believing in deities, there are all manner of concepts attached to religion or even loosely affiliated that can be difficult to rid oneself from. There are atheists who believe abortion is wrong based on nothing more than the leftovers of their religious beliefs. There are atheists who don’t believe in equal rights for women (the sexism and misogyny are tied in with religion, but I don’t know that they sprung from it).
    I also don’t think it’s a conscious decision to ‘enforce’ these regressive beliefs, so much as it’s ingrained.

  173. says

    They definitely exist (I read a “feminist” blog once a long while back [when I was still a Nice Guy(TM)] written by a woman who apparently thinks that all male/female sex is rape [the woman is the victim], even if the woman consented, because, apparently, only women brainwashed by the male patriarchy would want to have sex with men, and since they’ve been brainwashed, they obviously can’t legally consent… she also doesn’t… I don’t have the link any more, because it was years ago, though it’s possible the blog is gone… I don’t know), but I’d argue that they are such a minority that their existence barely registers.

    Actually, recently, I read a blog post by someone claiming that Firefly/Serenity actually was extremely misogynistic because, you know, Mal’s love interest was a high-class prostitute and was “raped” by all her clients, and that Mal, the captain of Firefly, was male instead of female.

    The link was in the comments of an FTb blog post (can’t remember which), but I’ll bet some people know what I’m talking about.

    But like you said, they are as representative of feminism as Stalin is representative of atheism… which is, not at all.

    They’re a tiny minority, most likely.

  174. says

    Honestly, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    While those with privilege can be persecuted, it would have to start with the removal of their privilege. Simply pointing out that they are wallowing in privilege does not equal persecution in any way, shape, or form.

    I mean… if it did, then why haven’t murderers claimed they were being “persecuted” by the government for locking them up… or even killing them… when they are found guilty of murder? Because, by the definition of persecution that those Christians, and those privileged men, use, we persecute murderers, rapists, and so on all the fucking time.

    (That said, we do have one “criminal” element that’s legitimately persecuted, and that’s drug users, since getting high is not a crime [crime requires a victim, as far as I’m concerned], but that’s not for this discussion.)

  175. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Wowbagger:
    But we need a sailor or two. Who’s going to utter profanities without them?

  176. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Why?
    A+ addresses homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism, feminism, xenophobia, classism and more. If it’s a concept that discriminates or displays bigotry towards a group of people, esp. a minority group, it’s game for A+.
    I have to wonder if you’ve read Jen’s original post about A+. It’s not just feminism she talks about.

  177. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Ok, so now I have this picture of Jen in pink jackboots, drinking Kool Aid while knitting.

    Again, what about the menz? What do we get to wear? Pink lace up Vests? Pink Willy Wonka style hats?
    I don’t knit, so I’ll fix the Kool Aid (just wait until you try my kicked up Adult Kool Aid…where are those Bacardi Flavored Rums? AHA! A little Dragon Berry, Torched Cherry, Wolf Berry, Limon, Orange and Big Apple + Kool Aid= Drunken Knitting while fighting zombies in pink jackboots)

  178. says

    The misanthrope issue is interesting. However, misanthropes, as a rule, tend to exist outside frameworks of movements. They are an uncollegial bunch by definition and probably don’t want to belong to something like A+.

    Not true in all cases. I’m an exception.

    I am a misanthrope. Though I’m no longer as bad as I used to be (I once though like Bill Hicks: “we a virus in shoes”; now I think more like Tim Minchin: “we’re just fucking monkeys in shoes”). For the most part, I think humanity’s pretty fucked and, as a rule, generally stupid. I also don’t have a very high opinion of what I call “terminal optimists”, mainly because they tend to wax poetic about the forest and the healthy trees while ignoring all the ugly, dying trees.

    Some things that make me misanthropic:

    1. 46% of US-Americans are Young-Earth Creationists
    2. A larger percentage think the US is “the greatest country in the world”
    3. Stupid questions do exist
    4. The US wouldn’t know what true left-wing liberalism was if it bit us in the ass (on account of the fact that our politics are skewed so far to the right that practically right-of-center politicians like Obama and Pelosi are labeled “Socialists”), and I fear that it never will
    5. A huge swath of our laws are based on stupidity, superstition [read: religion], and hysteria (the War on Drugs, homosexual marriage unrecognized, etc)
    6. Our gun fetish
    7. The fact that the US may as well not be a country at all, but a giant corporation
    8. Citizens United
    9. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck
    10. Rape culture, and how many people are not only completely unaware of it, but when made aware, become skeptical and deny it, even when faced with the evidence

    However, I’m all for activism, mainly because, while I don’t have a lot of hope for humanity, I’d like to prove myself wrong.

    See, I don’t want to be a misanthrope. Truth is, I actually envy optimists. So I fight because I want to be an optimist, and I refuse to let my misanthropy get in the way of that…

    Not that my misanthropy isn’t winning, but I intend to fight as long as I can…

  179. Rick J says

    You need to do more research about Elevatorgate if you think that the Rebecca Watson incident is a good base for battling misogyny. You can start by reviewing the blogs at the time such as the “Friendly Atheist” who stated that most people could agree with the “Guys, don’t do that” part of her objections, but her follow up statements were far more problematic. Even PZ Myers smelled the shitstorm coming a mile away and felt compelled to make a blog entry along the lines of “Guys, we want you to get laid”. I’ll try to explain what she did/said in a minute, but I think it is a mistake for atheism+ supporters to brand most of the anti-Rebecca Watson faction as misogynists. It is likely, in my opinion, that most males who read her blog entries and viewed her videos at the time developed a rather intense dislike for her. Now I’ll try to explain why:

    As was mentioned above, most men do not object to a woman’s opinion that a certain situation makes her feel threatened or uncomfortable. If she wants to make general statements that most women would feel the same way, she can say that too. Now, lets get to where the problem comes in. This requires some reading between the lines, but, most men knew exactly what she was saying(or implying). She was attempting to tell men how they should think about women and/or attempting to tell men what they should want from women. And she did it in a tone like one would use in lecturing a 2 year old.

    Women who are battling misogyny(harassment) should clearly state what male behavior they find acceptable or not acceptable. If they’ll just do that, they’ll be far ahead of the game.

  180. says

    We are now the Humanist Community at Harvard – there is no longer “Chaplaincy” in our name. We listened to our community and altered the offending word. New materials and branding reflecting the change are coming shortly.

  181. says

    *raises both hands annoyingly high in the air*

    Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! I can cuss with the best of them!

    Fuck was my first actual word!

    No lie!

    (Okay… I was trying to say “truck”, but it sill counts, goddammit!

    Fuck!)

  182. says

    Yes, to find myself in opposition to Hitch on this would have been a delight. I suspect it would have drawn a lot of bile from him and further revealed his own unchallenged sexism.

  183. says

    Yeah…

    You missed Rebecca’s point spectacularly. For the record, I watched the original video about ten minutes after she first posted it. I was a lurker at the time (I hadn’t yet considered myself a feminist ally), so I didn’t start posting about it for a couple months, but I followed the shit storm, literally, from the very beginning.

    Oh, and I’m not saying Rebecca didn’t make some mistakes in her responses to the shit storm. But I also don’t think the criticisms that usually go her way for it are valid.

    You need to do more research about Elevatorgate if you think that the Rebecca Watson incident is a good base for battling misogyny. You can start by reviewing the blogs at the time such as the “Friendly Atheist” who stated that most people could agree with the “Guys, don’t do that” part of her objections, but her follow up statements were far more problematic.

    Read that one the day after it was posted. Thought it was wrong.

    Even PZ Myers smelled the shitstorm coming a mile away and felt compelled to make a blog entry along the lines of “Guys, we want you to get laid”.

    The whole “guys, we want to get you laid” thing came after the beginning of the shit storm, because the very first “responses” were along the lines of “YOU DON’T WANT US TO GET LAID!!!!1!eleventy1!!!!!1!!!111!”

    I’ll try to explain what she did/said in a minute, but I think it is a mistake for atheism+ supporters to brand most of the anti-Rebecca Watson faction as misogynists.

    I saw many admit that they read Rebecca wrong eventually. I would say that branding as misogynists the majority who criticized her is wrong, since many criticisms came from people who did, in fact, initially agree with her (and defended her), but felt that the way she handled certain things once the shit storm was in full swing was a mistake.

    However, it is also when the misogynists came out of the woodwork in full force. And that’s what you seem to be missing.

    The only people being branded “misogynists” here are… you know… the fucking misogynists.

    It is likely, in my opinion, that most males who read her blog entries and viewed her videos at the time developed a rather intense dislike for her. Now I’ll try to explain why:

    As was mentioned above, most men do not object to a woman’s opinion that a certain situation makes her feel threatened or uncomfortable.

    The recent shit storm over anti-harassment policies is good evidence to the contrary, actually…

    If she wants to make general statements that most women would feel the same way, she can say that too.

    Yeah… and that’s all she did.

    Now, lets get to where the problem comes in. This requires some reading between the lines, but, most men knew exactly what she was saying(or implying). She was attempting to tell men how they should think about women and/or attempting to tell men what they should want from women. And she did it in a tone like one would use in lecturing a 2 year old.

    And this is where you demonstrate that her point sailed over your head by a few hundred miles.

    You say “most men knew exactly what she was saying (or implying)”. We both know that this is a crock of shit.

    If you want to know what Rebecca was saying, watch the fucking video. There are no lines to read between. What Rebecca was saying was pretty damn obvious:

    “Look. Many women, myself included, do not like being cornered in a hotel elevator at 4 in the morning in a foreign country by guys. It’s scary. Could you do us a favor and think about that the next time you decide you want to hit on someone?”

    This is what I took from Rebecca’s aside in the video. And it’s a perfectly reasonable request that I see no problem with.

    As far as her speech that she doesn’t like to be objectified…

    DUH!

    Women have more to offer the atheist movement than their vaginas. They have ideas. They have opinions. They have innovations. And all of those things are worth hearing, considering, and maybe even acting on if they’re good. And the criteria we use to judge those ideas, opinions, and innovations as good or bad should be the same criteria we use to judge the same from men.

    But… see… this isn’t exactly the case, because women are objectified. If the women are deemed as “hot”, no one listens to them because they’re too busy oggling. If the women are deemed as “ugly”, no one listens to them because ugly women aren’t worth anything.

    Do all atheist men do this?

    No.

    Is it the majority?

    No.

    Does the fact that it’s a minority of men mean it’s not a problem?

    Not a fucking chance.

    It is a problem. Rebecca, and Jen, and Ophelia, and Greta, and everyone else who blogs about it have a right to blog about it, to call it out, to bitch about it, and to move to change it. And if the minority of men who don’t want it changed don’t like it, fuck them.

    Women who are battling misogyny(harassment) should clearly state what male behavior they find acceptable or not acceptable. If they’ll just do that, they’ll be far ahead of the game.

    But they have been. And clearly. That you’ve been missing it while so many of us aren’t missing is not the women’s problem…

  184. says

    And at that point you will have to accept A+ dogma (at least in a sense).

    Who says there’s going to be a dogma or doctrine? I predict the opposite.

    I believe that there’s going to be the exact same traumas as in the the social justice movements for race equality and women’s equality and LGBT rights and so on. The arguments are going to be replicated here and will split communities. Maybe A+ will differ slightly, simply by removing religion from the equation, but I certainly reckon we will find, for example, feminists on both sides of the pro-/anti- porn fence.

    What will that mean? Well, it means that different parts of the community will do different activism. I feel this is a feature, not a bug. The good thing is that you will be able to align with that part of the community that most closely represents your views.

    As yet, A+ is simply an umbrella term for politically-interested atheists of a broadly lefty persuasion, a label that allows for discussion of the intersection of atheism and politics. It’s hardly an ossified organisation with a charter.

    The way this appears to be going is to morph into a loosely aligned collective of blogs and organisations, not a single church or sect as some detractors would have it. There will be a bunch of 101 posts for newcomers to ease them into the jargon-filled milieu, which will probably part-succeed at their mission of educating. (Many uneducated will blow straight past, however, and get skewered until someone directs them to the 101s.)

    Whatever, I see organising A+ will be something of a cat-herding exercise. Which is not to say it shouldn’t be tried, but what you will end up with will be a very broad tent, with some folks pulling in different directions. Which is not necessarily a problem provided they are in some kind of motion and are not stationary.

  185. says

    As it stands, I get the impression that it’s entirely headed up by the brand of feminist that isn’t interested in equality, but rather in female superiority,

    Emphasis mine.
    Seems to me more likely that you started with that impression and held on to it despite ample evidence of its falsehood.

  186. trazan says

    Keep an eye on that Carrier person. I am all for A+ I’m just not for Carrier. I don’t think his recent post is very compatible with points 3 and 6. He wants labling and a real in-group/out-group divide. He surely isn’t the compassionate or even reasonable person he wants everyone else to be. Does he want to be the political commisar for ideological purity?

  187. Nadai says

    Then Roger can head over to Thunderf00t’s blog and commiserate with his like-minded compatriots. If A+ doesn’t meet his needs, he’s perfectly free to go somewhere else that does. Preferably without coming back here to whine about how we’re ruining atheism with our feminist cooties.

  188. says

    What’s the possible benefit of keeping this person around then? What does he have to contribute? I’m looking to create a superstructure for organized activism. I’m looking to create extensive 101 resources. I’m looking to create a new ethics of skepticism and positive atheism. Can he help with any of that?

  189. leebrimmicombe-wood says

    Nope. Carrier appears to have gotten overenthusiastic and is trying to lay down the law. I expect he’ll encounter some resistance, because I do not recognise or submit to his tests of ideological purity.

    There’s a whiff of authoritarianism about that post. If he continues at this rate I may have to start ignoring him.

  190. Angela says

    Atheism plus is off to quite a rocky start. I predict it will die an ignominious death, and quite soon, while humanists, progressives, feminists, and civil rights activists (many of them also atheists) continue heroically fighting for these causes without being distracted by internet blog wars and ego-driven disputes.

  191. says

    If Roger sincerely holds his positions as points of skepticism, then, for someone with the patience to do it, talking to Roger and really exploring these topics might bear fruit.

    His lack of awareness of the validity of these values isn’t an argument against the Atheism+ movement though; it’s merely the cause of his reluctance to join it. Presumably the conversation will come up, and his sincerely held (but poorly executed) skepticism combined with the clear arguments of others will eventually lead him towards conclusions that are better founded in reality.

    The existence of 101 resources like the ones described above will probably increase the speed and likelihood of Roger’s transformation of thought. I also think the existence of those resources will minimize the disruption he creates in non-101 conversations.

    Dan Fincke just turned me onto one today that I rather like so far:
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

  192. bcmystery says

    I made a tweet on Thursday encouraging folks to read the Surly Amy interview at SciAm, and for reasons I don’t understand it was retweeted by some MRA crank. Out of curiosity, I checked out the person’s Twitter feed and it was a shitflow of invective against not only Amy, but against A+, Jen, Ophelia, Greta, Rebecca, and others. The volume and degree of vitriol was staggering.

    Catch-up indeed.

  193. says

    i have no idea what that means. and further, I’m sick of people thinking “ism” is a word for ideology. it’s a suffix, and it’s a suffix describing a state of being; it’s not a suffix indicating an ideology

  194. maureen.brian says

    Thing is, NateHeavens, the social justice model offers at least part of the solution to the things which rightly piss you off and turn you towards misanthropy. Ignorance, hyper-nationalism, superstition for a start but all the others too.

    Just think what 20 years of an Atheism+ education system could do for your – is it yours? – country!

    Anyway, from a week’s evidence, this is not going to be a set of carefully lined up goody-two-shoes people. I fully expect it to be sceptical, sarcastic and sometimes self-contradictory – just like humans!

  195. KG says

    Well yes, if by “quite a rocky start”, you mean predictable fury on the part of “sceptical” misogynists, whines from full-time whiners, and a huge surge of enthusiasm from people who have hitherto not been involved in atheist activism.

  196. KG says

    I’ve been doing that since one of his first posts here, which was an absurd rant against vegetarians. In any case, he most certainly does not get to say who can be involved in Atheism+. (If anyone could do that, it would presumably be Jen, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t claim or want that authority.)

  197. KG says

    If they would indeed be willing to jump straight into the arms of Thunderfart, etc., then they would be no loss.

  198. KG says

    Correction: I only meant that to apply to Thunderfart; I’m not familiar with the Randi forums, and you haven’t specified who the others are.

  199. KG says

    Interesting that all your problems seem to be with the USA. Maybe you’re more of a misusanianist?

  200. KG says

    No, it isn’t. Indeed, it hasn’t. I’m one of the many old (well, 58) straight white guys responding enthusiastically to this initiative.

  201. Henry says

    My first reaction to A+ was to hope that it would encourage the non-plussed doyens of atheism to reconsider their failure to stand up for non-male and/or non-white atheists who feel alienated — then maybe we could all get along.

    Now I see that A+ has the potential to be much, much more by providing an organized space for people who are enthusiastic about Atheism PLUS Social Justice. There may seem to be a lot of overlap with other groups — notably secular humanism — but if we can learn anything useful from our believing neighbors with their 30,000 flavors of just one of religion it’s that nuances make all the difference and that variation leads to strength.

    As someone who has done marketing work for humanist groups and Unitarian Universalist churches, I can assure you that the problems of growing a group like A+, as well as the 10 complaints you addressed in this post, are well known and largely unsolved by these other dogma-free groups that nonetheless want to attract like-minded members who uphold certain principles. However, those older groups have a major problem that A+ does not — the need to raise money to cover operating expenses. It’s one thing to get people to agree with you, and quite another to get them to part with their money.

  202. says

    I mean… yeah, I know. One thing I don’t have in common with other misanthropes is a *complete* loss of of hope. I still have a little…

  203. says

    You have a have a point. My list was pretty US-centric. That’s because I live here and have to deal with a lot of this shit personally.

    But as for outside the US…

    -WWIII brewing in the Middle East (or so it seems)
    -Canada allowing shit like homeopathy]
    -The religious conflicts in Ireland
    -The Vatican

    And that’s just a tiny sampling…

  204. says

    Richard seems to be drawing up lists of enemies, which means he’s off my Christmas card list.

    Oh well, I believe A+ will be a big tent. I’ll have my spot in the shade over here, and he can strut about making decrees to his moonstruck followers over there. Hopefully there’ll be no need for us to talk.

  205. martyharrington says

    I am a Unitarian – and A+ also sounds appealing to me. There might be others like me out there.

  206. Onamission5 says

    For a long, long time I have felt left out of the atheist movement. I’ve not had belief in deities for going on 27 years now, and as such, have pretty much fleshed out all of my personal reasons for not believing. Social justice is something very important to me. When, however, I tried pointing out sexist or classist (et al) shit within atheism, the backlash was disconcerting to say the least. I took myself back to lurking because the message was clear: I, as a walking vagina with my funny ideas about equality and respect, was not welcome.

    That is why I was so thankful to have found my way to FtB. The breakdown went something like this, over a couple years, Bad Astronomy —> Friendly Atheist —> Greta Christina —> FtB — Skepchick —> my people! I have found you!

    Most of my time here is spent quietly reading, absorbing, learning, then I take what I’ve learned out into the rest of my little world. It is refreshing to be introduced to new ideas, ideas which make so much sense to me, rather than continuously hash out old ideas I’ve already explored to infinity. I have so many *ding* moments here. So thankful for the challenges and intellectual stimulation that provides.

    This is all to say, I am still excited about A+. It’s prompting me to do less lurking and more interacting, pretty much everywhere, just because I know now that me and my funny ideas aren’t so lonely after all.

  207. hotshoe says

    Hi, welcome, martyharrington.

    Yep, there are lots of others like you out there. Unitarians in particular tend to be social-justice type folks, and there are lots of other religious folks who are at least as much concerned with equality in this world as they are with promises of the next world. You are the kind of ally we want.

  208. mdevile says

    This has pretty much been my exact trajectory as well. A lot of lurking and absorbing, but A+ and the discussions around it are what have made me want to get more involved :)

  209. says

    Hello,

    I have been trying to make sense of this whole “schism” since I first read about it. I have to say, today (Well yesterday now but shush) I almost reached the point where I was ready to hang the whole movement and abandon the atheist community to tear itself apart. I was seeing straw-men on both sides, I was seeing people I had enjoyed hearing speak with such intelligence against the ignorant make the same mistakes as those ignorati (Made up word is made up) they had so successfully campaigned against. The metaphors thrown around about battle lines and us and them and hive thinking made me so angry about the whole thing.

    Then I decided to do some digging, I found the sexism in the community. I still have a lot to read up on but I understand now that there are people who need to learn the proper way to interact with different facets of our community. Context matters 23/Jun/2011: It was about elevator-gate and how you’d also been treated before at conferences and understanding quite clearly why that was wrong (I was facepalming alot, lack of space in alot intentional).

    I can empathise with someone who would shun getting involved because of such treatment. The idea was inconceivable (literally, I never thought about it) that a woman would feel unwelcome due to the way they might be treated. I thought a humanist/atheist whatever they’d call themselves would act with a bit more thought. Clearly a mistake of mine to be so hopeful, I think a high amount of scepticism of scepticism is needed on my part.

    I have seen why it’s important (beyond diversity for diversity’s sake) to have speakers that aren’t the stereotypical old white dude. So it’s important to address issues. Seeing what you’ve posted in other blog posts including the one above and in other parts of FTB, you have some interesting points which tells me that it’s not that “Women aren’t represented as much in the communities which produce atheists” rather that it’s due to the levels of sexism going on.

    So we need to do more to make women feel welcomed and safe in our community (Both online and at conferences). Now if we could only get rid of those damnable trolls…

    In conclusion, I’ve decided not to give up on the atheist community because you’ve shown there are people here who can maintain reason and present a clear and concise argument and to not resort to petty name-calling and straw-manning. People who actively de-construct straw-men. People like you give me hope.

    And for those that find anything to criticise in this post, feel free to criticise, but remember, I’m new to this, I’m still finding my feet, sorry it took so long.

  210. says

    As a secular free market supporter, I’m excited about this too. While this thing lasts, I won’t have to put up with far-left atheists trying to tell me what value judgments I should have.

    Good luck with your Atheism plus, we only wish you had left sooner.

  211. artnut says

    What is good is to have a clear label with a clear centered site. A lot of this has been scattered, some bloggers here…you know…
    an article there….there hasn’t been a core central place where people can go. Skepchick has certainly been the center, but with the diversity of bloggers and topics, it’s not been the real place to go. PZ and Christina and many of the leaders just simply do not blog there nor are they especially associated with this. Indeed, Rebecca has chosen, as is her wish I am sure, to not be the lead in this post elevator gate atheist activism movement. She’s a strong voice, but skepchick hasn’t changed gears and focus to take this on. (A few people have said “Why do we need A+, we have skepchick”. Freethought has certainly been a leadership role but the recent infighting and loss of two bloggers has lead to a bit of confusion and shows the need for ONE main site to channel out to all the others. No more skipping from blog to blog and site to site and going “wait, today’s skepchick seems to be about bugs” and “Wait today we’re talking about some parade, nice costume…” No ONE blogger or site covers the issues ALL THE TIME. It’s almost a catch up game on FB and if you don’t twitter you are lost. So, get the site UP. Then people can judge if they want to join (nicely) or not join. Moderate the heck out of it to keep the focus clear. Don’t get bogged down in explaining, and go out and DO. I say, have a meeting, not a “token” meeting given by another organization already in place (“Oh we are having a woman meeting! yeah!”) It was nice to attend, but I still felt like, “Yes the rich white men are throwing a party for you ALL to speak, aren’t we nice” at times. Start small or you may have to start big, but your own events, will prove your worth. A lot of people are worried as it seems that all the women and men leading this new group are people that have been the focus of fighting and back and forth agitation. Site goes UP and then you can say “Hey we’re doing this, join us!”… and no complaining or explaining or wasting of time fighting, simply clarity and your “one stop shopping”…and even a name! You are NOT skepchick, you are NOT freethoughtbloggers, you are NOT PZ wrote another article, you are A+…new and about to show us what you are really about. I reserve judgement until I see the site and eagerly await the unity and action I hope to see. You won’t win people over until you do something…or somethings. Even then there will be those that will find something to complain about. But for the rest of us, a few good events and ACTION…real life not online life…will win over the skeptic world.

  212. says

    Somebody posted this link above, while talking about the schisms within Feminism and how this drove away a lot of otherwise unsympathetic women.

    It’s worth relinking because it has some trenchant criticism aimed at Richard Carrier, who in the first flush of an enthusiasm that would please the heart of any zealot is already defining lists of enemies and the ways by which we are to know them, without considering whether we need such rigidly-defined exclusivity at all.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/08/what-the-history-of-feminism-has-to-teach-atheism.html

    I said somewhere above that I didn’t anticipate ideological purity tests and Star Chambers for A+. I truly hope that Richard doesn’t try to prove me wrong.

    Fortunately, I suspect the Atheism+ label may be beyond his ability to control utterly. Cats are difficult creatures to herd.

  213. says

    //1. Atheism+ is just secular humanism! Just call it what it is!

    I think there are some nuanced differences. Greta Christina gives a detailed explanation.

    But really, I don’t give a diddly what label you want. Atheist, atheist+, humanist, pastafarian, Supreme Crusher of God-Belief. Whatever. I care more about getting stuff done, and I see the humanists as our natural allies. I just don’t understand why some of them are so cranky that we…what, are saying we agree with their ideals and values? Let’s not let progress get derailed by discussions about labels. Greg Epstein, head of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, called me to give me his support for Atheism+ and to agree that the debate about labels is silly.//

    So it’s essentially the same thing, but you’re labeling it differently, and anyone that disagrees is a dick.

    2. Why does everyone have to agree with your particular dogma?

    //No one has to agree with me, and I don’t want dogma. I want to be able to discuss social justice issues from the context of atheism and skepticism. Discuss, not dictate. Right now we can’t even do that without being threatened, trolled, and derailed. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the views of people who support A+. Speaking of which://

    You just said that you want a discussion, then you label everyone that disagree as trolls.

    //3. Person X supports A+ and said this really shitty thing, therefore A+ is evil!

    I can’t control what everyone writes about A+, nor can I read it all. That’s why I’m trying to focus my time toward moving forward with a website that will provide educational resources and a community. There I can establish a mission for what A+ is truly about. If people warp that mission in blog posts or tweets or what have you, all I can do is keep promoting what A+ is truly about.//

    This is a horrible question, these aren’t even questions, these are strawmen.

    //4. You specifically want to exclude people, so you’re a hatemonger!

    You can’t be inclusive to everyone. If you include misogynists, you exclude women – etc, etc. I choose to exclude the assholes. Read Greta’s post on the subject.//

    I love this, I love how you set up your strawmen then refute yourself. “You’re a hatemonger!” “No I’m not i just exclude assholes, who I happen to hate!”

  214. says

    “moving forward with a website that will provide educational resources and a community. There I can establish a mission for what A+ is truly about”

    Jen, your new website could list troll-free blogs, harassment-policied conferences, etc.

    Good luck with your clean-up efforts.

    Don’t allow anonymous drive-by comments. Politics is war.

  215. norumaru says

    You see how divisive all that talk of atheist knitting is?

    You are tearing us apart, Lisa!

  216. thecynicalromantic says

    If superiority was the goal, we’d have just stuck with the atheist movement in its current form.

    I’m really intrigued at the prospect of all these hypothetical people who will be totally turned off at the smugness implied in the “+” of A+, but who are somehow unaware of the current atheist movement’s well-earned and pervasive reputation as being the smuggest, most self-satisfied bunch of smug self-satisfied bastards on the planet.

  217. daenyx says

    But I want to wear a funny hat! We should have personalized fedoras, like my undergrad school’s band. *nods vigorously*

  218. clydey2times says

    Yep, you’re an asshole if you don’t agree with us.

    Nothing dogmatic about that perspective.

  219. leebrimmicombe-wood says

    So it’s essentially the same thing, but you’re labeling it differently, and anyone that disagrees is a dick.

    Uh, no. She said there were nuanced differences and pointed at a post that explains. And she quite rightly noted that there’s no point getting bogged down in debates on labels while there’s more important work to do. Oh, and she didn’t call anyone a dick. That was your invention.

    You just said that you want a discussion, then you label everyone that disagree as trolls.

    No. She said she wanted a discussion that she didn’t want derailed by trolls. That seems fairly plain to me, particularly given the history that has brought us to this point in time.

    This is a horrible question, these aren’t even questions, these are strawmen.

    What question? What strawmen? Kindly make sense.

    Jen’s statement seems fairly straightforward. To paraphrase Jen: Let’s not define the whole of A+ by what some fringe idiot might say. I don’t control the movement or everyone in it and my goals are focussed on promoting what I consider A+ to be about.

    I love this, I love how you set up your strawmen then refute yourself. “You’re a hatemonger!” “No I’m not i just exclude assholes, who I happen to hate!”

    Nope. It’s a pretty direct statement and doesn’t profess to hate. To paraphrase Jen: ‘Yes, A+ is exclusionary for the logical reason that some people will be in opposition to its goals. No, we don’t want assholes.’

  220. The Captian says

    Gotta love #4, anyone who may feel excluded by this is an “asshole”. So it has finally come that the cool kids blogger clique is calling everyone who doesn’t agree with them assholes.

    Jen, I’ve read your blog since BEFORE the boob quake, but seriously, I’ll come back when you and this little clique grow up and stop acting high school. Hope ya’ll have fun patting yourselves on the back for being superior to everyone not in your little club. 0/

  221. Pluto Animus says

    Believers often display an determination to misunderstand and distort the views of atheists.

    It’s bizarre and disheartening to seem the same willingness to misunderstand and distort coming from people supposedly dedicated to reason.

    Atheism+ rocks!

  222. markrichardson says

    #12 (or whatever we are up to!).
    The name : atheism+ is too close to atheism – it is going to cause confusion about whether or not atheism itself (plain ordinary “dictionary” atheism) is a worldview or a political movement.

    I don’t see an answer to this one.
    If your aim is to cause confusion – then this is the best possible choice of name!
    Love ftb, love your ideas and thoughts – hate the name “atheism+”
    I am Not a hater – I am a fan.
    I even think Rebecca Watson is cool! – although she did curdle the milk in my fridge…
    8-)

  223. says

    I have to laugh @ #255 Rick J RE: Elevatorgate

    >>> Now, lets get to where the problem comes in. This requires some reading between the lines, but, most men knew exactly what she was saying(or implying). She was attempting to tell men how they should think about women and/or attempting to tell men what they should want from women. And she did it in a tone like one would use in lecturing a 2 year old.

    But… You clearly ARE a 2 year old and need to be spoken to like one so I fail to see what your objection is. Of course, I’m just “reading between the lines” here.

    I’m a MAN and I do know exactly what she was talking about.

    She’s talking about not wanting to get propositioned in an elevator at 2am after just talking about not wanting to be treated that way ALL DAY. A talk to which the perpetrator of the proposition had attended and ignored.

    And her blatantly violent, unacceptable, feminazi response? “Um, guys, Don’t do that”. Oh My God!!! The audacity of stating how one wishes to be treated. Clearly she needed to be threatened with violence and rape to “put her in her place”. Or at least, that’s what I get from your post Rick J, you know, when I “read between the lines”.

    And here you are, months later, STILL getting it wrong, STILL lying about the events, and STILL making excuses. Bravo, Bravo Sir. THANK you for sticking up for us poor males.

    What would do without these bastions of male irrationality?

    >>> Women who are battling misogyny(harassment) should clearly state what male behavior they find acceptable or not acceptable. If they’ll just do that, they’ll be far ahead of the game.

    She did clearly state it and she was threatened with physical violence and rape in return for her efforts; so please, just go sit yourself down and have some ice cream and forget all about the bad women and mean evil things she said to poor little you.

    I’ve yet to read a screed against Watson and “Elevatorgate” that wasn’t packed with flat out lies and straw. When I see one I’ll start caring what an emotionally 2 year old thinks about such things.

    Thank you for that phrase by the way… I had struggled for a long time to come up with the right categorization of this brand of miscreant but I think you nailed it. They are emotionally 2 years old and throwing little tantrums when they don’t get their way. #E2YO

    So THANK YOU Rick J for the laughs.

  224. cuervodecuero says

    Nate @#285

    When you write…

    “-Canada allowing shit like homeopathy”

    I like to read it as…

    -Canada allowing shit like Harperopathy

    A reactionary neo-liberal fundamentalist-theist coddling, evidence destroyer whose government has managed to drive the nation’s scientists and doctors into street protests wearing the extremist anti-Canadian uniform of …lab coats.

  225. cuervodecuero says

    I thought the most basic concept of A+ was simply a banner under which people agreed to decently commit to:

    “I value evidence. I value altruism. I don’t value doing unvital harm. I acknowledge the evidence of unvital harm in the world, affecting all life forms in it. I want to improve the survival of my species and the complex biosphere that birthed us. Knowing my reactionary animal hindbrain can haz a territorial hissy fit, I will mindfully not alpha-monkey-my-bananas-MINE crap on evidence that societal adjustments for my species would reduce harm for the not-me.”

  226. Laura-Ray says

    Some notes
    1- Whut. Where is the nesting. Perhaps something is broken on my end? In any case, much confusion. Since I read just about every one of the 300+ comments that wasn’t an essay of stuff I generally agree with. I find it odd that all the agreements are long, well thought out, and have talking points, whereas all the dissent is just “OMFG SHE LABELED ME ASSHOLE DA BITCH!” Atheism taught me how to argue in an intelligent way, as well as to always assume that I might secretly be on the side of evil (to that end, Richard Carrier being kooky? I am distressed!! Will save for later perusal). It makes me feel a little more confident when the people I disagree with consistently lack logical arguments.
    2- BRAH BRAH BRAH NO ONE WANTS LISTENS TO OLD WHITE MALES TALKING ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE! <=Uhm… Pharyngula. PZ Myers hasn't found the fountain of youth, gotten a sex change, or somehow changed his race recently, and he still seems pretty popular amongst us feminazis XD (not gonna speak for everyone, but I certainly enjoy his stuff) And he's not the neutered mangina that everyone seems to be portraying cis/white/old/male people who agree with A+ to be… He is, to my knowledge, what a cis/white/old/male ally should be. Passionate, well spoken, and paying attention to the people he's arguing with/about.
    3- I like how a significant amount of the comments are either about crafting or clothes.

  227. says

    @304 clydey2times says:

    >> Yep, you’re an asshole if you don’t agree with us.
    >>
    >> Nothing dogmatic about that perspective.

    This is an Invisible Strawman (note the absence of a single detail about the actual nature of the disagreement) fallacy, topped with a bit of ad hominem (a common theme in the anti-A+ rhetoric playbook).

    For example, an exemplary proposition asserted by A+ is that “sending people rape threats is not okay”.

    If someone disagrees with that then they ARE being an asshole and this has NOTHING to do with dogmatism. An ‘asshole’ is simply a contemptible person and people who think it’s ok to send other rape threats ARE contemptible. Nor is it bigotry, bigotry requires a fallacious prejudice. Being against murder, theft, rape, and threats of violence is not bigotry — it is a well considered and justified position. Being against A+ because you don’t like FtB or women or whatever your malfunction is IS bigotry because you cannot articulate a factual and rational basis for your objection. If you can, then DO IT — state which SPECIFIC principle of A+ you object to and why? [given that there isn’t a specific definition at this point but rather a Call-For-Discussion I think you’ll have a difficult time of that but some general principles have been stated as the basis so those are fair game].

    Please note that I’m not saying that THIS is the principle you disagreed with but I’m saying these are the KINDS of principles involved.

    Your oh-so-clever exclusion of the strawman against which you are tilting is a contemptible rhetorical device however. So you have demonstrated that you are irrational and making emotional outbursts.

    Now, we are ALL capable of such things so you need to take a deep breath and try to understand why I have made these specific points against you — acknowledge that you made an error here — and then try again to articulate a rational position.

  228. jascollins says

    Dammit, Jen, before A+ I was up to my eyeballs with bloggers I HAD to read – far too many of them – and now you’ve convinced me that my head will explode if I ever miss your writing, going forward.

    *sigh* I also signed up on Reddit specifically for the /r/atheismplus site.

    I’ll have lots of nasty things to say about you when I’m living in a cardboard box because I was too busy to get any work done. (Of course it will be a box in a saner, more egalitarian world, so there’s that.)

  229. says

    Thanks for the FAQs, and to Greta Christina for her “Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness”. I hadn’t even read the basics on A+, but was curious as to how it added to the atheist community. I was even wondering if A+ was going to detract from the community.

    I’m kicking back and watching the world go around for a while rather than jumping in with both feet, although I can picture getting involved at some later date.

  230. arbor says

    I’m all for A+.

    Although the movie a christmas story suggests “A+++++” would have been a better name.

    As for Richard Carrier – I’ve never liked his stuff. He seems quite full of himself (without cause). I haven’t read any of his profound thoughts on A+ because I haven’t read him at all for a while.

    He reminds me of the marching-band dude with issues who runs out ahead of a parade and imagines he’s leading it.

    He can do what he likes, but I regard him as eminently ignorable.

    People who are worthy of respect (in my opinion) may be in A+; assholes are not, regardless of whether they think they are or not.

    One of the greatest pleasures of seeing A+ emerge is being able to dissociate myself from assholes.

  231. dhoelscher says

    @ The Time Is Now:
    “Richard Carrier…has a serious anger control problem.”

    @ Nathair:
    “Carrier’s pronouncement about what is the official atheism+ political and economic theory and who we would therefore denounce made me wonder when he was elected Pope of the new movement. Did I miss a vote or something?”

    @ trazan:
    “Keep an eye on that Carrier person. I am all for A+ I’m just not for Carrier. I don’t think his recent post is very compatible with points 3 and 6. He wants labling and a real in-group/out-group divide. He surely isn’t the compassionate or even reasonable person he wants everyone else to be. Does he want to be the political commisar for ideological purity?”

    @ leebrimmicombe-wood:
    “Carrier appears to have gotten overenthusiastic and is trying to lay down the law. I expect he’ll encounter some resistance, because I do not recognise or submit to his tests of ideological purity. There’s a whiff of authoritarianism about that post. If he continues at this rate I may have to start ignoring him.”

    @ jim:
    “My suggestion then is to keep Carrier away from the planning committee. Because when you ramp from 0 to GTFO, where do you think those budding atheists will go? They’ll jump right into the waiting arms of Tfoot, the Randi forums, and other atheist communities that aren’t associated with A+. . .if they’re looking for online community then you need to keep open, safe spaces that allow for civil disagreement and discussion or else you will drive people to the ‘enemy’.”

    @ leebrimmicombe-wood:
    “Carrier…in the first flush of an enthusiasm that would please the heart of any zealot is already defining lists of enemies and the ways by which we are to know them, without considering whether we need such rigidly-defined exclusivity at all.”

    @ arbor:
    “As for Richard Carrier – I’ve never liked his stuff. He seems quite full of himself (without cause)…He reminds me of the marching-band dude with issues who runs out ahead of a parade and imagines he’s leading it.”

    Thank you all for posting. What you say about Carrier is perceptive and important. I agree with you.

  232. says

    Rick @ 255:

    This requires some reading between the lines,

    I’m gonna want a little more evidence that’s what she was saying than “well, if you read between the lines [wink]”

    “Sure she said X, but I happen to know she meant Y” is as clear a strwman argument as I’ve seen in quite a while.

    Ibid:

    Women who are battling misogyny(harassment) should clearly state what male behavior they find acceptable or not acceptable.

    Why do I have a feeling that you call any suggestion that behavior you might want to engage in is unacceptable “unclear”? “I’m not sure what this means, it seems to condemn this thing, but I do this thing, so that’s obviously wrong. It’s so unclear!”

  233. Johnnis says

    “If I start wearing a silly hat, distributing pink jackboots for uniforms, and getting Kool-Aid to provide refreshments at all events, then you can start worrying.”

    I understand the need for a text to have elements of humor. I’m all for that. But I would appreciate some kind of serious answer to the allege misconception.

  234. Johnnis says

    “Greg Epstein, head of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, called me to give me his support for Atheism+ and to agree that the debate about labels is silly.”

    Is this an argument or just a trivia or what? Why did you mention this? As the skeptic I am, I suspect this to be an argument from authority.

  235. john ingerast says

    @Hershele

    Good question. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s possible, just do some research on what defines a cult and compare the one with the other I guess. I don’t know exactly what a cult is.

    However the article is not required to prove it’s position, a serious response would be nice though.

    I feel that the response given is mocking the misconception. And on one level that may be appropriate, because it seems to me far fetched to call this a cult.

    However the appropriate response in this case would be an argument or some sort of comment.

    I don’t know much about argumentation theory, but I assume that to make a mockery out of the opponents clam is a fallacy, even when mockery is deserved.

  236. john ingerast says

    If you are right about this, then how and why would that matter?

    I don’t agree with you however. I believe it’s possible to suggest a spesific definition of cult, say the wiki one perhaps.

    And if you are right, why wouldn’t Jen just say so? If you are able to formulate this, why can’t she? Why not just say so?

    And in what way is mockery the right response in this format?

  237. says

    john ingerast:

    Thomas Jefferson wrote “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions” [speaking to the idea of the Christian Trinity].

    His point is that once a proposition becomes ludicrously disconnected from reality then it’s beyond the realm of reasoned, logical argument with the perpetrator.

    People calling A+ a ‘cult’ or a ‘religion’ are just as absurd as the theists who call Atheism a ‘cult’ or a ‘religion’. Atheism is also divisive. Atheism is also vague and the meaning has changed substantially over time (from a pejorative to more of a flat out denial of gods, to the more modern mere disbelief).

    Ridicule is an appropriate response (to a point). Jefferson goes on to call them the ‘mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus’. And that’s exactly what they are, liars, frauds and charlatans.

    Example, 262 comments later and this guy still says atheism is a religion — despite numerous logical arguments. Indeed, NO argument will ever change his mind: http://debunkingatheists.blogspot.com/2010/07/atheism-is-religion.html

    Liars and Frauds are not dissuaded by logical arguments but their noise definitely pollutes the intellectual space.

    Note: Ridicule doesn’t include abuse, harassment, or threats.

  238. john ingerast says

    @Darkstar

    I don’t agree with your name calling. I also believe in treating everybody with respect no matter their position. If arguments do not reach in to these people, what makes you think that ridicule does? What function does ridicule have?

    If claiming that Atheism+ is a cult is an unintelligible propositions, then arguing against it should be easy. I don’t protest against the element of humor, nor ridicule, because there is room for both arguments and ridicule. The one does not exclude the other.

    Atheism is not diverse, nor has it changed. Many things associated with atheism has changed. Persons and groups that are atheist are also much more, hence diversity. Atheism it self have never changed and never will.

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