Part deux

More on O’Neill. (Don’t ask ‘why.’ I’m interested in this kind of thing – the blithe indifference to facts, the perversity, the malice, the lack of responsibility, the should-know-better quality; the smugness, the preening, the bullying on behalf of the already powerful.)

on 31 March, atheists in the US military had their first-ever get-together on a military base, under the banner ‘Rock Beyond Belief’. ‘All of us want to come out of the closet and demand equality’, said one sergeant, no doubt pissing off gay military servicemen who, not unreasonably, probably think that such phrases are best used by them rather than by their godless colleagues.

Note that “no doubt.” Note the “probably.” He doesn’t in the least know that gay military women and men think that such phrases are best used by them rather than by their godless colleagues. (Not to mention the fact that he doesn’t know they can’t be both. He doesn’t know that all gay military women and men are theists. Gay people in general have good reasons to be wary of theism.) He doesn’t know that, and he gives no reason to think so. That could be because it’s so hard to think of one.

O’Neill’s point seems to be that atheists are not in fact closeted – which if you know anything at all about how atheists are viewed in the US is completely ludicrous. Of course there are closeted atheists! Lots of them, all over the country.

Let’s pretend for a second that you’re O’Neill, and you need this explained to you. It’s like this, O’Neill: atheism is hated in many parts of the US, and so are atheists. In many places atheists don’t know if there are any other atheists in their school or workplace or town, and they feel isolated and weird and afraid.

Think about that simple little statement of facts. What do you suppose the upshot is? It’s that many atheists don’t tell anyone they are atheists. Others tell a trusted few but no one else. That is what it is to be closeted.

So why would gay soldiers be pissed off because atheists talk about being closeted? Why would they think the word is for them and not for anyone else?

We can stop pretending that you’re O’Neill now. I don’t know how he would answer my questions. I don’t think there is any reasonable answer.

Then there’s this:

although there is certainly cultural hostility towards atheists in parts of America, elsewhere, particularly in academia, publishing and throughout the political and media worlds of Western Europe, they enjoy untouchable ‘darling’ status these days, being fawned over like never before.

One, untouchable ‘darling’ status? Are you kidding?

Did he miss the outburst of vituperation at Richard Dawkins in the wake of the Ipsos Mori poll, complete with the Telegraph’s shock-horror story about a distant ancestor of his owning slaves…two centuries ago? Has O’Neill missed the whole backlash? (That would be odd, given how much he’s contributed to it himself.)

Two, even if that were true, what difference would it make to people in Creeping Jesus, Alabama? One might as well say that because there are some rich people named Jones, all people named Jones are rich.

It is their creation of a movement based on negatives rather than positives which explains why the New Atheists are so screechy. Because bereft of anything substantial or ideological to cohere themselves around, they instead spend the whole time attacking their opposite number – those who do believe in what New Atheists do not: religious people, the thick, the unenlightened. Like electrons in an atom, the ‘negatives’ of the New Atheist clique are forever whizzing around the ‘positives’ of the God lobby. The hole at the heart of modern atheism was best summed up in what Time magazine last month described as ‘The Rise of the Nones’ – that is, the speedily growing group of Americans who now list their religious affiliation as ‘none’. That is fine, of course, but then to cultivate an entire identity, a whole life’s outlook, on the basis of that ‘none’? That is sad. Who wants to be a ‘none’? I’d rather be a nun. At least they still believe in something.

Yes, they believe in something – they believe in a male god who founded a church run exclusively by men; they believe in their own subordination; they believe women should die rather than have an emergency abortion; they believe the Catholic church deserves their loyalty and subordination despite its lurid history of cruelty and brutality. What a strange thing for O’Neill to boast of.

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.


Have you ever seen Brendan O’Neill and Bill O’Reilly in the same place?

Brendan O’Neill is tearing his hair out in frustration at the mystifying way gay marriage has suddenly puffed up huge and taken over all the things!!11 He just doesn’t understand. He’s baffled. He can’t figure it out. He’s amazed.

As I say, nothing in this debate makes sense. This is such a relatively overnight concern, and is so unrooted in political campaigning or historical substance, that it would make as much sense if, tomorrow, every politician and commentator in the land suddenly started talking about how important it is to give women the right to live in treehouses. After all, there are probably some women who want to live in treehouses, and the public might well support their right to do so while also arguing that making it happen should not be a parliamentary priority, so why don’t Cameron and the commentariat make a big deal of that?

Good point! Super super super good point! Or why don’t they make a big deal of giving dogs the right to wear orange Crocs? Because obviously the right to marry is every bit as wack and trivial and random as the right to live in treehouses or wear orange Crocs. So funny of Brendan O’Neill to spot that and say it. [Read more…]

Definitely disgusting Bren

More showoffy pseudo-knowing “contrarianism” from Brendan O’Neill. This time it’s the daring dangerous idea that libbruls don’t give a shit about gay marriage itself, they just like having a shibboleth to filter out the unhip masses.

The speed and ease with which gay marriage has gone from being a tiny minority concern to become the No 1 battle in the modern culture wars has been truly remarkable – and revealing.

What it suggests is that gay marriage is more a tool of the elite than it is a demand of the demos. The thing motoring the gay-marriage campaign, its political engine, is not any longstanding desire among homosexuals to get married or an active, passionate demand from below for the right of men to marry men and women to marry women. No, its driving force, the reason it has been so speedily and heartily embraced by the political and media classes, is because it is so very useful as a litmus test of liberal, cosmopolitan values. Supporting gay marriage has become a kind of shorthand way of indicating one’s superiority over the hordes, particularly those of a religious or redneck persuasion. [Read more…]

Brave contrarian Brendan O’Neill

Brendan O’Neill is happy to characterize feminists as stupidly and feebly delicate and hyper-sensitive, and to use (or to allow the Telegraph to use) a 19th century illustration of a vapid woman tipping over to underline his sneer.

Would he be equally happy to see other people characterize Irish people as stupid and otherwise contemptible and use a 19th century cartoon to illustrate the sneer? Like this one maybe?


 There are more where that came from. Does Brendan O’Neill of Spiked really want major media returning to the good old days of publishing insulting caricatures of Other racial and ethnic groups? Or is it just women, or just feminists, who are fair game for that kind of thing.


Brendan O’Neill wins the sneering prize

Brendan O’Neill sneers again – this time at women resisting misogynist silencing campaigns.

One of the great curiosities of modern feminism is that the more radical the feminist is, the more likely she is to suffer fits of Victorian-style vapours upon hearing men use coarse language. Andrea Dworkin dedicated her life to stamping out what she called “hate speech” aimed at women. The Slutwalks women campaigned against everything from “verbal degradation” to “come ons”. And now, in another hilarious echo of the 19th-century notion that women need protecting from vulgar and foul speech, a collective of feminist bloggers has decided to “Stamp Out Misogyny Online”. Their deceptively edgy demeanour, their use of the word “stamp”, cannot disguise the fact that they are the 21st-century equivalent of Victorian chaperones, determined to shield women’s eyes and cover their ears lest they see or hear something upsetting.

Like this, he or the Telegraph helpfully illustrates:

 Oh yes, that’s it exactly – we’re all falling over, because we’re so fragile and stupid. [Read more…]

Not to defend the Catholic Church but to smear the New atheists

As long as we’re on the subject of Brendan O’Neill…let’s stay on it a little longer. I neglected him last year when he was making contorted attacks on critics of the pope and the Vatican. Allow me to make amends now.

He made a heavy-breathing correction to claims of how many priestly rapes there had been, then he explained why he did that.

Why point out these basic facts? Not to defend the Catholic Church, which  clearly has a sexual abuse problem, or to minimise the suffering of those  individuals who ”only” suffered being verbally abused, shown dirty photos or  fondled over their clothing by priests – all of those acts are abhorrent and  potentially punishable by law. [Read more…]