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Apr 05 2012

How dare you rebel against the tyrant

Brendan. At it again. Possibly more indifferent to the facts than ever.

I know Easter is traditionally a time when Christians give praise for the rising again of Jesus after his flagellation and crucifixion by the Romans. But this year, in the midst of your Easter egg-eating and possible Mass-attending, try to spare a thought for the modern-day equivalent of whipped, weeping Jesuses – that is, the New Atheists, the non-believers, who would have us believe that it is they who face persecution in the twenty-first century. Playing what we might call the Crucifixion Card, the atheist lobby now argues that its members suffer the slings and arrows and jibes of the heartless hordes in a similar way that Christians did 2,000 years ago.

Does it? Does “the atheist lobby” (is there such a thing?) claim “its members” (do lobbies have members?) suffer the way early Christians did? I don’t recall ever seeing such a claim. Do you know of any? Do fill us in if so. Meanwhile – I think O’Neill is just saying it, the way he just says so many things. Commentarial license, no doubt – but he abuses it. He abuses it in aid of making perverse claims that the more privileged are being bullies by the less privileged. What an ugly hobby.

Perhaps keen to shake off the tag of ‘Darwin’s pitbulls’, atheist campaigners now play the role of put-upon pups. They’re all about the victimology. Over the past two weeks, there have been public gatherings of atheists in which they have, self-consciously and shamelessly, plundered from the language of old oppressed groups to try to describe their alleged plight.

Bullshit. (And O’Neill should remind himself of the way bishops and cardinals have been shamelessly plundering the language of oppressed groups lately to complain about public reaction to the child-rape and failure-to-report problem among others.) Bullshit. We’re not “plundering” any language; there is abundant evidence that atheists are subject to the same kind of bigotry and marginalization for no sensible reason that “old oppressed groups” have been. Many of us also belong to those “old oppressed groups” so the language is already ours, and we know perfectly well that it fits.

There are no legislative restrictions on atheists’ rights or apartheid systems that separate them from the God-fearing, which means their claims to be following in the footsteps of protesting blacks are not only unfounded, but also pretty depraved.

That’s just flat-out false. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he can’t be bothered to find out. There are legislative restrictions on atheists’ rights in the US, in individual states and localities. As for apartheid systems – he should watch a few videos from the recent Cranston school board meetings sometime. It’s not official apartheid, but it sure as hell is loud aggressive bullying of one slender teenager. It’s de facto apartheid.

The central problem with the New Atheist movement is that it is based entirely on a lack of belief rather than on a belief. It is built on an absence, on a negative, on the fact that these people share a non-belief in God, rather than on any shared vision of the future.

Wrong: we share a vision of the future without the secretive unaccountable bully who tells us what to do but won’t let us appeal the rulings. Would O’Neill make the same accusation against movements to get rid of Mugabe, or Kim, or any other tyrant? He might say getting rid of the tyrant is just the beginning, of course, but would he actively sneer at the anti-tyrant movement itself? I don’t know; maybe he would if he had some weird “contrarian” reason to think the tyrant is actually a swell fella who is misunderstood.

 

21 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    There are legislative restrictions on atheists’ rights in the US, in individual states and localities.

    True, they are still on the books, but they have been declared unconstitutional as a class, and are unenforceable. Other than that, I agree with you.

  2. 2
    stevebowen

    It seems this guy doesn’t allow comments. Anyone think of a reason why, or am I naively missing something here?

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    Whole hordes of strawpeople were indiscriminately massacred when O’Neill was writing his screed. Won’t someone think of the strawmen?

  4. 4
    rikitiki

    Someone ought to challenge him: announce yourself publicly as an atheist…maintain that stance for a time…see the reactions for yourself…then see if you still think that. Then again, some folks are both blind and idiots.

  5. 5
    Qwerty

    “The central problem with the New Atheist movement is that it is based entirely on a lack of belief rather than on a belief.”

    This is his second theme: The fact we have no belief in the supernatural means we lack beliefs.

    Typical Christian thinking to which I say BULLSHIT.

  6. 6
    NathanDST

    Does “the atheist lobby” (is there such a thing?) claim “its members” (do lobbies have members?) suffer the way early Christians did? I don’t recall ever seeing such a claim. Do you know of any?

    Poor history understanding here, coming right up. Feel free to correct me. Early Christians were sometimes jailed or killed for their beliefs, yes? That doesn’t happen to atheists in America, or (so far as I know) western European countries, but there are countries where atheism does carry a death sentence. In that sense, I suppose some atheists might be said to suffer like the early Christians.

  7. 7
    hyperdeath

    Would O’Neill make the same accusation against movements to get rid of Mugabe, or Kim, or any other tyrant?

    Yes. He’s written several articles sneering at criticism of Mugabe:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/4942/
    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5374/

    If you search Spiked Online, you’ll find many more by his Living Marxism (the magazine he wrote for before it was sued to death for accusing ITN of making up Serbian war crimes) cronies.

  8. 8
    Rosie

    http://atheistica.com/2012/04/01/tunisian-atheists-sentenced-to-seven-and-a-half-years-of-prison/

    “Problems started since university times, when a student from my dorm decided to throw me out the window, if not for my friend Atef Khawaja, , who held him back in the last moment , and that is because of a debate we had about Islam.”

    With these words, the Tunisian young man Ghazi El Beji started telling me his story with the religious oppression that transformed his life to a terrifying nightmare. It made him live his days followed by Tunisian police and a group of citizens that assigned themselves the duty of protecting religion.

    Ghazi spoke to me after he and his friend (about whom I will talk later) were sentenced in absentee to seven and a half years of prison and a fiscal penalty of 1200 Tunisian Dinars, by a court in Mahdia.”

    Oppression of atheists a total fantasy, of course.

  9. 9
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    the atheist lobby

    My paycheck is late this week. To whom do I complain?

  10. 10
    Roi des Faux

    There are legislative restrictions on atheists’ rights in the US, in individual states and localities.

    Since these laws have been struck down as unconstitutional, I’d argue instead that even though atheists can *run*, we can’t *win* elections in large swaths of the country. Over half of Americans said they’d never vote for an atheist president, and we only have one non-believer in Congress. Maybe Brendan wants to argue that unless it’s enshrined in law, it’s not discrimination?

    The central problem with the abolitionist movement is that it is based entirely on a lack of belief rather than on a belief. It is built on an absence, on a negative, on the fact that these people share a non-belief in slavery, rather than on any shared vision of the future.

    Fixed it for him.

  11. 11
    ash

    “What an ugly hobby.”

    I really like the way those words hang together. Lots of utility in that. I’m usin’ it! Sorry…

  12. 12
    Shatterface

    Would O’Neill make the same accusation against movements to get rid of Mugabe, or Kim, or any other tyrant?

    He’s certainly written a hell of a lot of articles smearing critics of the Chinese government as pandering to ‘slitty-eyed’ Fu Manchu stereotypes.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/5602/

  13. 13
    Ophelia Benson

    Roi – no the laws haven’t been struck down; that’s why I used the present tense. Tennessee’s constitution bans atheists from holding public office; Arkansas’s constitution does that and bans them from testifying in court.

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Boy – I overestimated O’Neill. Thanks for the research and the links.

  15. 15
    hyperdeath

    Boy – I overestimated O’Neill.

    It’s difficult not to. He’s one of those people who gets nastier the more you look into him.

  16. 16
    Shatterface

    It’s difficult not to. He’s one of those people who gets nastier the more you look into him.

    He’s like the Mandelbrot set of bullshit.

  17. 17
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    More from Brendan, I Pull Shit Out of My Ass, O’Neill,

    Others took this ostentatious oppression-mongering even further, comparing themselves to one-time repressed blacks and downtrodden women. The journalist Jamila Bey said of modern atheists’ fight for respect that ‘these are battles that homosexuals have won, people of colour have won, women have won’. ‘We can’t stay silent anymore’, she cried. Yes, atheists might not be denied the right to vote or attacked with water cannons whenever they gather in public, they might not be forced to sit at the back of the bus or to eat in Atheists Only restaurants, but they feel oppressed, okay? ‘We’re here, we’re godless, get used to it!’ cried the crowd, echoing the old rallying cry of gay liberationists.

    Italics added. This guy thinks we live in a post-racist, post-sexist world. He also implies that oppression of a group cannot occur in the absence of water-cannons and forced segregation. Pure magical thinking.

  18. 18
    Dave

    He opens his arse, and words pour out. Unfortunately, money pours in. Why oh why can’t I be a shameless, self-contradicting, opportunistic contrarian?

  19. 19
    FootFace

    As an atheist, I have the (positive) belief that the natural is all there is. I (positively) believe that human beings are related to all other living things. I (affirmatively) believe that supernatural explanations are unnecessary. I (yesly) believe that we are all better off when governed by rational people who value argument and evidence.

  20. 20
    Roi des Faux

    no the laws haven’t been struck down; that’s why I used the present tense. Tennessee’s constitution bans atheists from holding public office; Arkansas’s constitution does that and bans them from testifying in court.

    The Supreme Court declared these laws unconstitutional in Torcaso v. Watkins. They’re still on the books, technically, but they’re unenforceable.

  21. 21
    danny

    haters gonna hate

  1. 22
    YOU REBEL!!! - Facebook Statistics

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