Atheism+ : The Name for What’s Happening


Adam Lee has launched a petition I hope all my godless readers will sign. In fact I hope you will encourage as many godless friends and colleagues as you can to sign, to show how many of us support women in our movement and oppose the abuse and harassment of them that is going on from a very vocal minority of appalling atheists. See Petition: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community for the full explanation and link, or go directly to the petition at Change.org: The Leaders of Atheist, Skeptical and Secular Groups: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community.

Why is this needed? As Lee well puts it:

We, the undersigned, are atheists, skeptics and nonbelievers who value free speech and rational thought and who seek to build a strong, thriving movement that can advocate effectively for these values. We’ve chosen to put our names to this petition because we want to respond to a video created by a blogger calling himself Thunderfoot. In this video, Thunderfoot attacks named individuals who’ve been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement. He describes these people as “whiners” and “ultra-PC professional victims” who are “dripp[ing] poison” into the secular community, and urges conference organizers to shun and ignore them.

We hold this and similar complaints from other individuals to be seriously misguided, false in their particulars and harmful to the atheist community as a whole, and we want to set the record straight. We wish to clarify that Thunderfoot and those like him don’t speak for us or represent us, and to state our unequivocal support for the following goals: We support making the atheist movement more diverse and inclusive. … We support strong, sensible anti-harassment policies at our gatherings. … We support the people in our community who’ve been the target of bullying, harassment and threats. … [And we want] to put a stop to this bad behavior once and for all [by] chang[ing] the culture of the atheist movement…

As of this posting, his petition is approaching 1700 signatories, and I want to see it go as high as possible, so we know how many atheists in our movement have our back, and how many of us these horrible bad apples of atheism are offending. I want to know how alone I am in this, or how supported I am. I want to see where our movement is going: their way, or ours.

Please go sign that petition now. Then come back to read on. Unless you are still not convinced you should bother. In that case read on first, and then see how you feel.

What You Need to Know

I’ve written about this issue before, of course. I brought up the rising sexism and abuse women are facing within the atheism movement in The New Atheism+ and why that behavior is in conflict with what should be our core values of reasonableness, integrity, and compassion. And then in Being with or against Atheism+ I explained further what the movement is that this term is a name for, and why no one needs to adopt the label “Atheism+” but rather “we are only at odds with those who condemn Atheism+ and its values,” the values I spelled out in those two posts, and which have been embraced and furthered by its most avid activists at the resource hub AtheismPlus.com.

In short, you don’t have to call yourself a “member” of the A+ movement to be welcome by it, or to support it. We only hope you will occasionally speak out in defense of its values and goals and against those who slander it and lie about it and attack and abuse anyone who actively promotes it. Because if you don’t speak out, they treat that as endorsement and an encouragement to continue.

Attack of the Antifeminists

The Atheism+ movement itself existed long before it was named. It had been growing for a couple of years until Jen McCreight gave it a name (Atheism+, meaning Atheism plus a core set of basic humanist values and goals and a skepticism applied to everyone, even ourselves). Once it was named, of course, then it could be attacked. It could be mocked and denounced. Lies could be told about it. Its advocates could be digitally harassed (or worse). I see all of that as an attempt to take away power from the movement the same way Christians do by lying about what “atheism” means or what “secular humanism” is: they slander these terms and build absurd straw men out of them in an attempt to make them unpopular, so no one will go and see what they are really all about. Now, atheists themselves are doing this to their own. Atheists are acting like Christians.

The same has long been done to “feminism,” and now those tactics are being picked up and used by organized atheists to attack feminism the same way the Tea Party does. Indeed they do this the same way Christians do with the term “atheism.” They pick absurd caricatures and extremists (e.g., Stalin) and then claim all atheism is that or that’s what atheism inevitably leads to. The antifeminists in the atheist movement are doing the same thing, picking absurd caricatures and extremists (e.g., Dworkin) and then claim all feminism is that or that’s what feminism inevitably leads to. (See “straw feminist” in the TV Tropes Wiki and the excellent video on same.)

They are so successful at this they even convince women to declare they are not feminists, thus declaring themselves against their own rights and interests, because they think it leads to absurd ends like that, when in fact, all feminism is “is simply the belief that women should be treated as fairly as men” and the reason it exists is that women often aren’t, even in ways they might not be aware of: see my explanation in Why I Am a Feminist for Taslima Nasrin and my further discussion in Why I Am a Feminist on my own blog.

Hostility to Atheism+ is often born of the same seed. By trying to make it impossible to give a respectable name to what we are doing, haters are trying to interfere with our ability to promote and organize in defense of our values and aims. This is fundamentally irrational, rather immoral (in its dishonesty as well as its ruthless disinterest in the welfare and feelings of others), and embarrassing to atheism as a whole.

Ironically, these antifeminists use the same tactics to try and straw-man and belittle our movement by calling us a “cult” and saying we are the ones behaving like Christians. How are we behaving like Christians? By taking a stand on moral issues and expecting our fellow human beings to adopt basic humanist moral values and denounce those who won’t. Which means they think atheism should be thoroughly amoral and devoid of values. They ironically are thus denouncing humanism. Which, most ironically of all, makes them into the very people Christians attack all atheism for creating: immoral people who denounce the very idea of moral values or standards (denouncing it even as “religion,” the irony of ironies, considering that atheists used to denounce religion for its moral failings, not for its agreeable moral standards).

Atheism+ is not like a religion, not least because it embraces nothing supernatural, but also because its epistemology is not at all faith-based but entirely responsive to reason (as in, arguments devoid of logical fallacies) and evidence (as in, actual documentable facts), and it does not embrace “authorities” (we have no Popes) but only “arguments” (we side with those who argue well, meaning those who make logically valid arguments from well-evidenced premises). In other words, it is far more like science and philosophy than cults or churches. When it comes to what we should believe, including what we should believe about how we should behave, we expect people to be reasonable and persuaded by sound arguments. Nothing more.

In other words, Atheism+ is just atheism + skepticism + humanism. Why anyone would have a problem with that quite astonishes me.

A Lot of Sexism …

…until I realized what might really be driving this atheist-movement antifeminism. Apparently, there are a lot of closet sexists (and a few closet racists), and generally all around mean people, who of course swear up and down they are no such thing. But their actions expose them. That their beliefs, even about themselves, are not in alignment with reality is pretty much the same kind of delusionality we see from Christians, who purport to believe in loving their neighbor, then go balls out trying to hurt their neighbors (with covertly sexist and racist political policies, and overtly homophobic ones, for example). We now have enough atheists in our movement behaving in exactly the same way to become a visible problem.

For a really good exposure of the delusional state of these people, see Michael Nugent’s analysis of Thunderf00t’s Inflammatory Video of Misleading Personal Attacks on Atheist Feminists (which video also inspired Lee to finally say enough is enough and start a petition against this disturbing trend). Nugent shows how Thunderf00t’s argument, which has a large following and which typifies views I know to have been voiced or approved by hundreds of atheists on the internet (and thus not a crank handful), is based on wanton distortions of the facts and gross fallacies–in fact, a lot like the way creationists attack evolution.

Indeed, these atheist antifeminists seem quite committed to irrationality, while ironically insisting they are the only rational ones (a lot like Christian apologists). See Lilandra’s excellent exposure of this fact (while in the process demonstrating the nature and extent of sexism in our movement and how insidiously it thinks it’s not sexist) in The Foundational Oft-Repeated Fallacies of Sexism Deniers (in that case analyzing the comments following Thunderf00t’s video, although I can vouch for the fact that the same nonsense appears in dozens of other atheist venues as well). If this kind of irrationality is not destructive to atheism, I don’t know what is. Relying on obviously fallacious arguments to attack and hurt their own people, in defiance of a commitment to truth, honesty or logic, is what destroyed religion. Let’s not allow the same thing to happen to organized atheism, the only alternative there is to religion.

This faction isn’t just persistently irrational, it’s also characterized by a certain disregard for basic moral values. They have even come to the point of mocking cancer survivors and rape victims. And those are instances from women, so it’s not just men who are enabling this antifeminist cabal; the same tactics women have long used to attack feminism and put down their fellow women is evident now even in our movement, like attacking the fact that women need to shop for clothes, by twisting facts to suit their own outrageous narrative (see The Absurd Manufactured Shoe Controversy). That’s the kind of people they are. Are these the kind of people you want populating and leading the atheism movement? Are these the kind of people you want to hang out with?

A movement without moral standards, without any sense of kindness or perspective or courtesy, is doomed. You can’t claim atheists are good people, and then denounce any and every effort to make them good. Thus, when these antifeminists claim that the advocates for human decency are the ones being divisive and destroying atheism, know what they are really saying: they do not want atheists to be good people, or atheism to be known as a movement for the good of society. They want atheism to be amoral and valueless, without standards of any kind. They will deny that. But that is the consequence of what they are arguing.

Greta Christina already exposed the joke of them calling us divisive last year. No, they are the divisive ones, making women and minorities feel unwelcome, and attacking anyone who makes an effort to welcome them. See, again, Some Thoughts on Divisiveness. If you hadn’t read that already.

… and A Little Bit of Racism?

I also think that some of these antifeminists have attitudes that might be a little bit racist. Not that they’re white supremacists, mind you. They aren’t actively believing in the inferiority of other races, or actively trying to harm them or curtail their rights. But rather, they are holding onto their own privileged white status, by tooth and claw, and belittling or dismissing the interests of other races, even denying that any inadvertent, latent, or institutional racism exists (or if admitting it, showing no concern about it). I don’t think most of those who do this realize this is what they are doing. I think if they did, many of them would rethink it.

Those few who do it more consciously closet this even more, of course, because no one can become popular being openly racist the way they can by being openly antifeminist (alas, thereby proving that women as a whole still in some ways have it worse than racial minorities, even in America). The one is “acceptable,” the other is not. I want to see both become equally unacceptable. This does not mean antifeminism constitutes any criticism of feminism. Not only can such criticism be worthwhile and productive, but feminists themselves have been actively doing if for over a century. Rather, antifeminism is about distorting facts and logic in an attempt to denounce feminism itself. The next step will be, of course, the same as racism: to insist one is not a racist, but then say and do racist things and defend them as “not really racist.” Possibly honestly believing it’s not. I’ve seen the same two-step danced for antifeminism; I no longer assume it’s always deliberate. Sometimes people just don’t realize what they are doing when they avoid confronting something they might be doing wrong.

Hence the racism I see is often unintentional, latent in the oft-voiced rejection of the expansion of interest in our movement (meaning in our conferences and organizations and media) to issues of social justice and other broader concerns that are often the actual needs and interest of minority groups, especially racial minorities. Our movement has been largely white, predominately because it was only interested in “white people’s problems,” and thus uninterested in anyone else’s (and thus not attracting their interest in turn). Things like UFOs, Big Foot, homeopathy, and pseudoscience as a whole on the one end, and theology and other esoteric matters of history and philosophy on the other end, are not unimportant, but they are the luxuries of people who don’t have to worry so much about crime or poverty or such things as subtle institutional racism or economic injustice.

To now adamantly insist that organized atheism and skepticism should not concern itself with those matters, is itself covertly or unintentionally racist in its attitude. It is exclusionary of the interests of other races, placing the interests of white people first; and it is dismissive of the often far more serious problems caused by the racial divide, the battles other races are fighting in this country. We care a lot about discrimination against atheists, but not so much about discrimination against black atheists or Hispanic atheists. We care a lot about creationism in schools (and often only in schools with lots of white kids in them), but don’t show as much interest in the quality of schools generally (such as in predominately black or Hispanic neighborhoods). That can change. It obviously should change. We should be talking to those and other groups and finding out what we can do to bring them into our fold and show them we have their back, every bit as much as we want them to have ours.

We face the same reality as the Republican party, whose deaf ear to the concerns of minorities is hurting its ability to influence the public, when in fact if they gave more of a damn, they could grow their movement instead of dooming it to shrink. Even in America, whites will soon be a minority; and America isn’t the only gigantic nation on a pathway to global success. Moreover, if atheism is good for people, it ought to be good for racial minorities as well. We should want to spread the movement into their neighborhoods. But doing that requires caring about the things that they regard as important targets of skepticism and religious criticism. And that requires, in turn, finding out what that is. Which requires, in turn, actually talking to them.

Two really excellent articles on this issue you will want to read are Kate Donovan’s No True Scotsman, Atheists, & Apathy and Heina Dadabhoy’s Deep Rifts: A Fairy Tale, especially the comments section there, where Heina develops further a lot of the ideas intended by her brief “lesson-by-fairy-tale” that comprises the post itself. Dadabhoy concludes:

A separation between social justice issues and rest of the concerns of skepticism is the luxury of those who do not belong to a group that has been — and indeed, some that still very much are — marginalized by skepticism. The struggles have been obvious and painful to many of us long before they became readily apparent to everyone else. While I (and everyone else, likely) wish the changes could have happened with less vitriol, they’ve still made skepticism a better place for more and more people by, among other things, thoroughly dispelling any false notion that skepticism (and atheism) are the exclusive province of white men. Since when was more of what we all claim to hold dear a bad thing?

Her “fairy tales” (in effect, parables) also capture how things look from from the perspective of many women, too (and not just other races), and understanding how things look from that perspective is essential to understanding why Atheism+ is important, and why being dismissive of it (much less mocking of it) is out of touch with reality–and, ultimately, a little racist (even if unintentionally), insofar as it insists on only seeing the world from the perspective of white men and refusing to even admit that things might look quite differently to atheists who are neither.

Why Has This Problem Grown?

Where did this more wanton sexism and more subtle racism come from? I don’t think it’s because atheism has grown these people, or that atheism especially attracts them. I think it’s just the inevitable mathematics of growth. The movement of organized atheism has grown so amazingly over the last ten years that amoral minorities once invisible are now visible.

Imagine 1 in 1000 atheists has always been a sexist douchebag who is happy to abuse and harass women in the movement that they perceive to be too uppity (or who digitally high-fives those who do). When the movement was only 10,000 strong, there would have been only 10 of them. Too few to feel safe being vocal or to organize themselves against the majority. But grow the whole movement to a 1,000,000 strong and now there are 1,000 sexist douchebags, enough to organize, defend and commiserate with each other, pat each other on the back, run their own web venues, and barrage comments sections with dozens or even hundreds of attack posts (often with disgusting sexual mockery).

Thus, even if nothing has changed with respect to the rate of sexism among atheists, our growth has made sexists among us more visible and more powerful. They can now chase women out of the movement whom they perceive as too “feminist” or “vocal,” just by their shear numbers and the incredible volume of harassment it can produce. Obviously their cognitive dissonance prevents them from admitting that what they are doing is sexist. But it is.

Fortunately Atheism+ May Be Winning

In terms of what’s actually happening, though, I see the goals and values of Atheism+ slowly becoming the norm in organized atheism. More and more conferences are featuring talks and speakers on issues related to feminism, economics, and social justice, and on being as critical of our own people and institutions as we expect anyone to be of religious people and institutions. They are adopting harassment policies, showing greater concern for making everyone who attends feel welcome (and not just white men), and inviting more and more women and minority speakers. And now major national organizations are becoming interested in how to build membership by appealing to more women and minorities, precisely the point of Atheism+. See, for example, How Organizations Can Improve Movement Diversity.

The debate between Sam Harris and Sean Faircloth over gun control policy is an example of expanding our interest beyond just talking about god and homeopathy all the time. I personally think both Harris and Faircloth are wrong (and both somewhat ignore the perspectives of non-whites; see, for example, the comments of our own Frederick Sparks), but it is precisely by applying our belief in purging logical fallacies and getting the facts straight that we could come closer to informing the public about what the options are and which option might perhaps generate the best results. Because that’s important. And atheists have the better tools to do it: it is precisely only our movement that is committed to making decisions not on faith-based principles or dogmas or traditions or folk logic but on science, evidence, and logical reason, with a commitment to avoiding fallacies and cognitive biases, and a deep-seated love for the truth and the welfare of humanity.

Atheists should be having these debates. And they should be doing even better at it than this. Bad science or philosophy about matters of social justice is surely more harmful than bad science or philosophy about drugs or dowsing rods or the coherence of the trinity. And contrary to the argument that “atheism is not a thing,” and thus can’t have values or goals, in point of fact atheism is a thing, a very huge and growing one: atheism is an identity movement with hundreds of local, national, and international organizations and dozens of annual conferences worldwide, potentially counting over three million self-identifying members in the U.S. alone (if we count everyone who spontaneously identifies as an “atheist” in polls). We have the skills, the venues, and the active members to care about things and apply our reasoning and our skepticism and our distinctly nonreligious worldviews to the problems and questions of the world.

Conclusion

Surely that would be a good use of some of the atheist movement’s time and resources. But we shouldn’t have to waste time combating sexism and latent racism in our own ranks. We shouldn’t have to put up with these harassment campaigns against our best and brightest women. Don’t let them get away with it. Please join in the social condemnation of their attitudes and behavior. Make it clear that they are the bad guys, and that their behavior will not win over the movement or even be welcome in it. Please sign the Lee petition.

–:–

Note to the inevitable you-know-whos: to save loads and loads of my time, because of the way comments sections on Atheism+ posts get bombarded by inept or deliberately derailing remarks, I may not respond to comments that violate any of three basic commonsense rules, except to issue stock responses as follows (though I will still allow through moderation all posts that do not violate my comments policy). If I answer with YDNRTP, that means You Did Not Read the Post (your claim is either answered or refuted in or by this post already, and therefore requires no further comment; if you want to know why, read the damn post). If I answer with YFW, that means Your Facts are Wrong (you have made a claim about something that happened that isn’t true, and if you bothered to check into what actually happened, you would discover this; it’s not my job to lead you by the hand, it’s your responsibility to find out what the facts are: go do that). If I answer with YRF, that means Your Reasoning is Fallacious (your conclusion does not follow even from your own premises, and I don’t have the time to explain this to you; so go back and rethink what you said; if you still can’t figure out how your argument is fallacious, I can’t imagine how I can help you out of your delusional thinking by anything I bother to say, so please just leave me alone and find somewhere else to stew). If I answer with NWIS, that means Not What I Said (you should go back and re-read what I said and try to figure out what it meant that was not what you thought I said; then respond, if at all, to what I actually said). Finally, if I answer with BN, that means Bored Now (you are just wasting everyone’s time with your irrational or factless ranting and your attempts to troll my blog are just boring me).

Comments

  1. says

    I appreciated where Dadabhoy points out that it’s unrealistic to expect people to come at atheism in isolation from the rest of our lives. My religious perspective is necessarily informed by my gender, my race, my age, etc. Telling me to leave those things out is to try to keep me out.

    FYI, when I went to leave a comment, it said “possible impostor” which isn’t so bad, except the part where it irretrievably erased my text. Ben says that’s happened to him as well. Edit (I copied my text this time!) it won’t let me comment under any of the profiles. Trying twitter now, which is a shame, because twitter is the one that doesn’t have a “notify of follow-up comments” option.

    • says

      Tech Issue: That is annoying. I’ll pass it on to our web guy. Just FYI in general, there is a browser plugin called Lazarus that back-caches all text entered into a form, so you can always recovered lost form text like that. I realize that’s a user solution. But it’s so useful in general it’s worth installing. I’ll see what we can do on our end.

  2. Swk006 says

    I never comment. I just prefer to read all of the blogs, learn, and enjoy. I’ve spent a lot of time closely following the animosity and the verbal abuse. Not that I’ve always been above it. I’ve doled out my share on Facebook in my day. However, I’ve seen both sides of the “debate.” I’ve ventured over to the slymepit and I’ve seen what they’ve had to say. I’ve read all the comments on the blogs here. There is only one right side in this. Thank you for so carefully and so eloquently spelling it out. I realize you’re going to get a heap of abuse for this (though not nearly as much as Greta, Jen, Stephanie, etc). As a 40 year old (and until recently a lifelong bachelor) white guy, it makes me sick to my stomach to see what these tough guys (and women) behind their keyboards can write. Again, thanks for writing this and I’m sure there are a ton more like me that rarely post but are certainly following and supporting.

    • says

      Or they will realize it will take away all their fun and they won’t bother. So, it will either work as deterrent or punishment. One way or another I’m hypothesizing it might help. :-)

  3. says

    I think Richard is absolutely correct. We should sign the petition and urge others to sign too. I had seen thunderf00t’s YouTube video and it seemed quite convincing. But I didn’t give it much thought because I live in China, and what do I care about squabbles inside the American atheist community.

    Adam Lee’s is quite generous to thunderf00t in his analysis. When I see thunderf00t’s selective quotes in context, I conclude they are an attempt to misinform.

    Some of you might enjoy living in China. I have never seen a local politician reference religion on any point of policy. Never.

    We do have some other issues though.

    Go sign the petition now, please.

  4. says

    If its such a good thing why is there so much contention and divisiveness around it? I just recently owned my atheism only to be greeted as a Misogynist and that all the men of atheism seem to be pigs of some sort. Very discouraging I must say.

    • says

      It sounds to me like you are living in a weird parallel universe. I personally know dozens of men in the atheism movement whom no woman in the atheist movement deems a pig of some sort. In fact, I am not aware of more than a tiny little fraction of atheist men (indeed, I can think of barely a handful, out of hundreds of note) whom any woman in the movement deems a pig of some sort. So if someone has called you a pig of some sort, attend to the correlation factor: what is different between you and the hundreds of other atheist met who aren’t called a pig of some sort.

      True, correlation isn’t necessarily causation. But you have to start somewhere.

      As Socrates said, the self-examined life is not worth living.

    • says

      You notice what Richard did there eh?

      He basically said, ‘It can’t be them so it must be you.’

      Same ol’ Richard. Has to sneak an insult into as many replies as he can.

      Haven’t you learned your lesson yet, Richard??? You keep setting these little tiny fires and then get amazed that there’s this out of control inferno behind you….

    • Nell Webbish says

      Greeted by whom? Where? Though I certainly understand the first response to having something unpleasant said to you is to feel as if “everybody” is attacking you, but the second response to that should be realize that the first response is just an emotional reaction and is not actually true.

    • says

      You still haven’t answered the question.

      (And BTW, bringing matches to an inferno is like bringing a Pez dispenser to a gunfight, so I have no idea what broken metaphor you were going for here. Or are you now threatening me?)

    • says

      Am I “threatening you”!?!?! Are you serious?

      Ok, we’ll I can now see that you’ve been using those matches to light up something else that burns and is still illegal in 48 states……..

      My “broken metaphor” shouldn’t have been that hard to decipher. The “Inferno” is already in full blaze and you’re holding the matches, yet I have to explain the metaphor to you? Really?

      YOU caused a shitstorm in the very beginning of the creation of Atheism + with your first blog on the subject (remember calling people “douche”??) and you are still using those same matches to insure that those either still on the fence or still way on the other side will have absolutely no interest in joining your new organization\cult\religion\feminism plus movement…..

      You have the ability to put out those little fires that you create but you’d rather “win” the point (or of course say “BN” when you don’t want to even try) I gotta admit, It’s getting rather childish for a 30-ish year old man to need to webspeak like the 12 year olds…..)

      So, do I have proof that you’d caused a bunch of this animosity towards A+?? Not off hand but they’re there for you to find. Don’t ask me to quote them, they are all over the internet and your name has come up numerous times as one who has created fires of descent.

      Simply do a Google search for someone called “Richard Carrier” and see what they’ve been saying about him since that first A+ related blog he did.

      THAT is all on you and you need to own it rather than pretend it doesn’t exist. That’s all I’m saying yet you are being intentionally oblivious to your part in the “inferno”. Your choice but I’ll tell you, it’s not helping your objective in the slightest.

      And imagine, you ACTUALLY read a “threat” into my last comment. Maybe a little less of the bong before reading your blogs might help?

    • says

      Actually, most of the people I called a douche were acting like douches. As history has since confirmed. Where I went wrong was calling some arguments “retarded,” which I apologized for and corrected.

      If the fire you are talking about is outraging sexists in the atheist community, I didn’t start that fire. But I am glad to watch it burn. That’s how forests stay healthy. Natural fires burn out the detritus.

      But you seem to think something else is happening, which isn’t. Or that I said something that I didn’t. Your failure to actually produce a single link speaks volumes…perhaps if you did, you’re beliefs or conclusions would be exposed as false.

    • says

      • “If the fire you are talking about is outraging sexists in the atheist community”

      No, that wasn’t the fire I was referring to, but I guess it’s hard to see the red colour of the flames you started with those fashionable rose coloured glasses you seem to be wearing.

      • “I didn’t start that fire”

      Are you sure? What makes you say that? Others would disagree.

      • “But I am glad to watch it burn”

      Yeah, and you don’t see a problem with that attitude. Don’t be surprised if the feeling is mutual when people refer to A+ (hint hint, that attitude is one of your lit matches….)

      • “But you seem to think something else is happening, which isn’t. Or that I said something that I didn’t.”

      Oh, I know what you said, It’s posted on that internet-y thing for everyone to read. You could always re-read it if you like.

      • Your failure to actually produce a single link speaks volumes…perhaps if you did, you’re beliefs or conclusions would be exposed as false.”

      Actually, it wasn’t a failure at all, I didn’t go back and look. Once I read a page and read various negative comments about a group\person, I don’t have a need to go back to numberous sites to find it again. It’s there. I’ve read it. I was done with it. I didn’t go back.

      You don’t want to believe it’s out there fine with me, but maybe if you spent that time yourself looking you’d see that my beliefs and conclusions were indeed accurate after all or at least understandable.

  5. says

    Richard,

    Just a quick question.

    I adamantly insist that organized atheism and skepticism should concern itself with feminism.

    Are you calling me a racist?

    Just yes or no, please.

    Sincerely,
    Claus Larsen

    • says

      Huh?

      Did you miswrite your question?

      Did you mean to ask “I adamantly insist that organized atheism and skepticism should NOT concern itself with feminism, so are you calling me a racist?”

      Because if not, then your question makes no sense. Whereas if so, then your question is answered in my post. Search for the word “some.”

    • says

      Richard,

      Yes, I miswrote my question, of course. It should be:

      I adamantly insist that organized atheism and skepticism should not concern itself with feminism.

      You did not qualify it to only mean *some*, but if so, it only strengthens my wish to know if I am in that group you consider racists.

      Because I do not think your proposal for Atheism+ should be supported.

      So, am I a racist?

    • says

      Not according to the point I made in the post. Unless you can’t tell the difference between women and black and Hispanic men. Otherwise, feminism is not the issue I was talking about when it came to potential minor racism among the antifeminist crowd.

      So, apparently, YDNRTP.

    • says

      Richard,

      I am sorry for misunderstanding this paragraph of yours, then:

      “I also think that some of these antifeminists have attitudes that might be a little bit racist. Not that they’re white supremacists, mind you. They aren’t actively believing in the inferiority of other races, or actively trying to harm them or curtail their rights. But rather, they are holding onto their own privileged white status, by tooth and claw, and belittling or dismissing the interests of other races, even denying that any inadvertent, latent, or institutional racism exists (or if admitting it, showing no concern about it). I don’t think most of those who do this realize this is what they are doing. I think if they did, many of them would rethink it.”

      That led me to believe that you were, indeed, talking about feminism when it came to potential minor racism among the antifeminist crowd. You were just talking about racists among the antifeminists, which, of course, makes my question of whether or not I was among this crown completely obsolete.

      I take it you will not be naming any of these antifeminists with a little bit racist attitudes, since you never accused antifeminists of having such attitudes.

      Thanks for your time.

    • says

      Since I said “might” and explained why it’s difficult to be sure, I can’t know if or who might be cognitively operating this way. I made the point in the dim hope that some might review their thinking to see if perhaps that is indeed what they are doing. And in the hope that others, who suspect the same, will have a nuanced or more practical view of the problem, to help coming up with solutions or ways around it in the field of persuasion.

    • says

      “Granted, he could be a Christian troll, pretending to be an atheist. But that seems unlikely”

      Surely you’re not saying that Christians aren’t welcome to your site, are you?

      If his opinion is valid, does it matter?

    • says

      Christians who pretend to be atheists in order to defend sexism and attempt to stir shit up, yes. They are not welcome here. I do not approve of liars or dissemblers or people who are not engaging seriously or honestly with me.

      Otherwise, Christians are not only welcome, but frequent and cordial contributors on my blog.

    • says

      Richard,

      Your conclusion is not founded on evidence, then, but on assumption.

      Oddly enough, it is the same assumption that has led Rebecca Watson to conclude that the hundreds of emails she gets from people, either threatening to rape her, saying she should be raped, or that she is too ugly to rape, all are from atheists.

      If you want to rid the atheist movement of atheists with otherwise unwanted views, the first step is to make sure that they are in fact atheists. That is, base your conclusions on evidence. As a skeptic would.

      Sincerely,
      Claus Larsen

    • says

      Well, if you like, you can believe that all of these abusers, when they claim to be atheists, are lying. But then you should be exposing this fact, and be appalled by the Christian assault on atheist women, and up in arms against it. Shouldn’t you?

    • says

      Richard,

      That is yet another logical fallacy, known as the slippery slope: If this one person is not an atheist, the rest must necessarily also not be atheists? If one is lying, all must be lying? Your thinking may be atheistic, but it is demonstrably not skeptical. You are a very good example of why atheism is a position not necessarily reached by evidence, rationality, and critical thinking.

      Atheists are people, with one shared point of view, namely the lack of belief in any deity. Atheists as a group consists of people of all views, ethnicity, political observance, taste in music, art, food, and so on. The *only* thing that binds them together, is their lack of religious beliefs. Atheists can be liars, jerks, and idiots, too, but that does not make them any less atheist. Nor is an atheist more of an atheist, if he likes Beethoven more than Beyonce.

      Adding your own political views to atheism does nothing to improve atheism, quite the contrary: All you achieve is the creation of your own personal cult, where people cannot be *real* atheists, unless they also share your views on things that are inherently a matter of opinion.

      This new proposal of yours is just a rehash of your earlier attempt of throwing people out of the atheist movement. That one was widely criticized for being extremist in nature, and rightfully so. This, your new attempt, will also be seen for what it really is: You want people to be atheist, but you primarily want them to be clones of you.

      It would help your quest to promote atheism, if you realize that just because you happen to be right about the non-existence of any deity, it does not make you right about everything else, too. You make the same mistake as Ayn Rand did, but while she managed to build a cult of personality, you will fail in your endeavour to convert atheism into Carrierism, just as Rebecca Watson failed to turn skepticism into her own private playground.

      The last thing atheism needs, is to be transformed into a cult worse than the cults created by religion.

    • says

      You can’t have it both ways. Either there are atheists doing this (even if it’s not all atheists), and therefore it’s a problem, sign the petition. Or it’s all Christians doing it, and we should be up in arms against that, sign the petition. Either way, sign the petition.

      What is a fallacy is attempting to use this speculation as a reason not to care about the problem or do anything about it.

    • says

      Richard,

      True to form, you completely ignore my points, and instead insist that I sign this petition, because, as you see it, I have no choice.

      Well, I do have a choice. I will not be shamed, bullied or tricked into signing this petition, because I recognize it for what it is: A very transparent attempt of attacking and bullying certain organizations.

      The petition mentions a series of articles, launched by Skepchick.org, where they contacted some leaders in the communities, twelve in all, to make them speak out against “Hate Directed At Women”.

      The list is fairly impressive, but two organizations are missing: JREF and RDF.

      Why? These two organizations have been at the receiving end of some pretty harsh criticisms from Skepchick.org. The series of articles were a direct result of the brouhaha between Skepchick.org, and JREF and RDF. Shouldn’t they be the very first contacted? They weren’t. And that has to be a deliberate decision. It certainly is not due to forgetfulness.

      Then comes this petition, aimed at both JREF and RDF. Look, these leaders support us, and these petitioners as well!

      Come on, Richard. I am not stupid.

      This has nothing to do with fighting misogynism, racism or anti-feminism. This is a back-handed attack on both JREF and RDF, simply because two could not be bullied into changing from their stated mission to becoming a tool for people who want to turn the communities into their own private fiefdoms.

      I find this approach dishonest, deceptive and an insult to people’s intelligence. Like I said, I will not shamed, bullied or tricked into signing this petition, or support such destructive goals.

    • says

      in response to Claus Larsen:

      “””Richard, True to form, you completely ignore my points, and instead insist that I sign this petition, because, as you see it, I have no choice. Well, I do have a choice. I will not be shamed, bullied or tricked into signing this petition, because I recognize it for what it is: A very transparent […]”””

      “The simple fact is, you either think the way women have been treated in this movement is wrong, or you do not.

      You’ve made clear which it is.”

      NO, he did NOT. Stop putting words in his mouth.

    • says

      Richard,

      Again, you resort to the false dichotomy fallacy. Thus proving, once again, that you are no critical thinker. That is why I am not at all surprised that you choose to quote from the Bible, when you try to counter my points. You certainly have been most attentive, when learning from the fanatics you claim to fight so earnestly. You are a quick study, that much I give you.

      When it comes to my stance on abuse, you are very much mistaken: I do think the way women have been treated in this movement is wrong. And I certainly do my bit to fight any injustice, not just this one. I may be somewhat less boasting about it, but I hope that doesn’t make my efforts of any less value. After all, it is what we do, and not how much admiration from people, that determines the good we do. Isn’t it?

      Be that as it may: Just because I don’t dance to your rather draconic tune, it does not mean I don’t do my bit, the way I see fit. But, contrary to what you clearly believe, there really are other solutions, other than your singular one.

      Because, Richard, you really need to reconsider your strategy. You are alienating probably most of your potential supporters, by having this abrasive, all-or-nothing attitude of yours.

      However, since I am the opposite of you, not seeking to dig trenches, but to build bridges, I would like to ask you one simple question:

      What is your metric for determining whether or not you have been successful in your quest?

      Yes, I am asking for evidence that your approach is the most effective one. If you want to persuade me, you have to do it with evidence. Not scorn, logical fallacies, or quotes from the Bible.

    • says

      Nothing you are saying makes sense.

      Why not join a chorus denouncing the behavior?

      To say you agree with them but won’t add to their number is self-contradictory.

      So far all you have offered are petty and illogical reasons. Hence either you’re behavior is unintelligible. Or your words are not honest.

    • says

      Which quest?

      Based on the comment you are replying to, only one was mentioned: all I want in that quest is for people to stand up and be counted as being against the way women in our movement are being treated.

      Success at that comes by degrees: more numbers, more success.

      Thus, sign the petition.

    • says

      Richard,

      So your quest will be a success, regardless of how many sign up. The only goal is to see who wanted to “stand up and be counted”.

      What will you do in the future, when you talk to people about Atheism+? Check the list to see if they are on it?

    • says

      Black and white fallacy. There is not just success or its lack. There are degrees of success. More numbers, more success.

      Why I have to explain how logic works to a self-professed (?) rational thinker escapes me.

    • says

      Richard,

      Once again, you didn’t answer the question put to you:

      What will you do in the future, when you talk to people about Atheism+? Check the list to see if they are on it?

  6. Thetar says

    Atheism Plus looks dead as far as I can see. The mods at the A+ forums just banned a guy because they were extremely hurt over the innocuous and non sexist use of the word “wanker” in a limerick. This is almost as funny and pathetic as the hugs kerfuffle there. I guess you could say that the forum doesn’t speak for A+, in that case who does?

    • says

      Anyone who is writing wanker limericks in a serious activist forum is acting like a child. It’s perfectly acceptable for the adults in the room to send them packing.

      And that sounds like a healthy movement, not a dying one. Their forums are being actively moderated for adult conversation and planning. Like any healthy movement forum.

      The test of Atheism+’s success is in whether its goals and values are becoming the norm in the atheism movement or not. By that test, Atheism+ is not dead, but winning. So far.

      As I explained in my post.

    • Thetar says

      “Adult conversation”? You need to spend 10 minutes perusing that forum to see how many commenters are treated poorly by the “adults” in charge there. Also there is no planning there, any threads that actually discuss any tangible projects or calls for some sort of action just peter out, with nothing being done.

      Regarding commenters that need to be sent packing, please tell me if you agree that this forum member known as Glob the Funct deserved to be banned.

      http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3586

  7. snowman says

    Funny, you recently adamantly answered a post of mine here and claimed there was NO required moral code for A+, but now here you are already saying (yet again) that everyone needs to put away their skepticism and pledge deference to certain moral principles that arose in one part of the world in the last few years of our 2m year old species – as though they are somehow “true” and anyone questioning them is evil

    Conclusions:

    1) You’re not a cult, but you guys do some things like a cult in order to inculcate beliefs, fear of the “other” evil people, etc.

    2) You in particular will argue practically anything to try to win a debating point (as opposed to seeking the truth).

    **********
    There is no denying that in the long run every one of these great teachers of a purpose was vanquished by laughter, reason, and nature: the short tragedy always gave way again and returned into the eternal comedy of existence; and “the waves of uncountable laughter”—to cite Aeschylus—must in the end overwhelm even the greatest of these tragedians. In spite of all this laughter which makes the required corrections, human nature has nevertheless been changed by the ever new appearance of these teachers of the purpose of existence: It now has one additional need—the need for the ever new appearance of such teachers and teachings of a “purpose.”

    Gradually, man has become a fantastic animal that has to fulfill one more condition of existence than any other animal: man has to believe, to know, from time to time why he exists; his race cannot flourish without a periodic trust in life—without faith in reason in life. And again and again the human race will decree from time to time: “There is something at which it is absolutely forbidden henceforth to laugh.”
    ***********

    • says

      you recently adamantly answered a post of mine here and claimed there was NO required moral code for A+,

      NWIS

      now here you are already saying (yet again) that everyone needs to put away their skepticism

      NWIS

      You’re not a cult, but you guys do some things like a cult in order to inculcate beliefs, fear of the “other” evil people, etc. You in particular will argue practically anything to try to win a debating point (as opposed to seeking the truth).

      YFW

      You then quote Nietzsche. Are you thereby verifying my post’s claim that you want atheism to be nihilistically devoid of moral standards and values?

    • snowman says

      >>Richard said:…
      BS.

      >>you want atheism to be nihilistically devoid of moral standards and values?

      I want atheism to be atheistic, not a handy shopkeeper’s religion, and skepticism to be skeptical. You want otherwise in your political desire to lure bodies into a social club by calling on people to pledge deference to a socially respectable – at least in one recent corner of the world in our species 2m year history – code. That’s no different from a church that emphasizes bingo and picnics rather than duty and hell.

      You still haven’t learned respect for the question mark.

    • snowman says

      [Richard, you can add to the post just submitted above, forgot to say:]

      This just shows how bad of a philosopher you are when you demand that atheism/skepticism – which are philosophical in nature – be constrained within the limits of a particular political agenda. It is as absurd as demanding that philosophy pledge allegiance to the Democratic party just because many philosophers today agree with their ideas, and that it will attract more people to “philosophy”.

    • snowman says

      Why even ask a question or reply if you’re just going to make yourself look like an ASS with no concern at all for the integrity of philosophy or atheism or skepticism?

      Well, actually these responses are probably more intelligent than your usual blowhard ones, I’ll give you that.

  8. davidct says

    There are many human rights issues that need to be addressed. Feminist concerns are certainly one of them. I do, however, resent having my priorities picked for me. Atheism+ assumes that atheism is the priority and other issues should be tied to it. I don’t see it that way. Atheism as just another human rights issue like feminism or gender issues. Since disagreement is not tolerated by the professional atheist community, I have now found other social causes with which to devote my time. I will certainly not be signing you damn petition.

    • says

      Feminism has only become a priority at present because of the antifeminist front in atheism now. If that front were attacking black people or human rights activists or even pseudoscience critics, then that would be the current priority (and feminism would just be one part of a whole range of interests, as my post on Atheism+ lists several).

      In other words, the Lee petition exists because women in this movement are being digitally harassed beyond the pale (and not, say, blacks or homeopathy opponents); and feminism is being openly mocked and straw manned by hundreds of atheists (in precisely the way that, say, anti-racism is not). That’s the only reason it should be enough of your priority to at least sign the petition.

      In an alternate universe where black atheists, instead of women atheists, were receiving this treatment, the Lee petition would be about the treatment of black people by atheists in our movement. Would you still not sign it, because “race is not your priority”?

      Think about that.

    • snowman says

      >>the antifeminist front in atheism now

      There’s no antifeminism front in Atheism except to the degree that feminism wants to abuse atheism and skepticism to its own ends and force adherence to its political agenda as true and given and label any skepticism of it as evil.

      In actuality feminism derives its foundational logic from Christian mythology of equal souls, later transfigured into liberal notions of equal “persons” – as does liberal democracy, human rights, etc. Certainly some goals can be jointly achieved but ultimately, given that atheism/skepticism must be free to question such mythology in all forms, atheism and skepticism are antithetical to feminism (and most any other -ism) and cannot be bound by it.

    • A Hermit says

      I don’t see how anyone is picking your priorities for you; no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to concentrate on feminism or anti-racism or atheism for that matter. You can ignore those things if you want.

      And others should be free to make those things a priority without being accused of being “divisive” or dismissed as radicals, feminazis or worse…

    • says

      Yeah. Because when I say I’m bored with you, that means I’m bored with philosophy.

      (I also like how you call your comments here philosophy. Your delusionaliy is off the charts.)

    • inerrant says

      Richard:

      Dumb question here. Why do you keep calling snowman this http://www.internetslang.com/BN-meaning-definition.asp ? (note: offensive language warning for that link) I mean, he seems a bit clueless, but really? BN? I wouldn’t have expected such a juvenile response from you. I guess you probably didn’t meant that. Maybe Big Noob or Be Nice. I don’t know. sigh. The internets get so frustrating for us casual users. We just don’t know what people are saying sometimes.

    • snowman says

      >>Yeah. Because when I say I’m bored with you, that means I’m bored with philosophy.

      Except no one ever said that.

      Are you unable to restrain yourself when you have nothing intelligent to say? You’re preferring politics to philosophy has nothing to do with your silly non-replies, it’s explained right above:

      ********
      This just shows how bad of a philosopher you are when you demand that atheism/skepticism – which are philosophical in nature – be constrained within the limits of a particular political agenda. It is as absurd as demanding that philosophy pledge allegiance to the Democratic party just because many philosophers today agree with their ideas, and that it will attract more people to “philosophy”.
      ********

      >>(I also like how you call your comments here philosophy. Your delusionaliy is off the charts.)

      Except – yet again – no one ever said that. (Seems rather delusional you would think debunking you here is somehow “philosophy”!)

      Again, why do you make things up and post nonsense just to try feebly to win every single debate point? You completely undermine any actual good history research you do because no one can ever trust what you write.

  9. Chance says

    It’s rather insulting to assume that I would support the behavior described above in the first place. A common thread in modern culture (for most) is the rejection of sexism, racism, and harassment. No matter how many times people say it, I haven’t seen a shred of evidence to support there’s a significant anti-feminist or racist population among atheists. This whole thing appears absurd to me. Signing this document would give credence to the lack of evidence that supports it. So until I see some actual evidence outside of quote mining/straw manning Thunderf00t (who clearly isn’t sexist), no thanks. Feel free to throw whatever accusatory comments my way you wish, it’s not going to fix the problem, neither is signing a petition to attack invisible monsters.

    By the way I’m a feminist.

    • says

      I haven’t seen a shred of evidence to support there’s a significant anti-feminist or racist population among atheists.

      On antifeminism, read the Nugent piece I linked to. Then the Lilandra post.

      If you still deny it exists, then you are head-in-sanding. And I don’t believe you when you say you are a feminist. No actual feminist could tolerate the way women in this movement are being treated. You would be outraged by this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this. If those things don’t motivate you to sign Lee’s petition, then you are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

      As for what evidence there is for latent racism, reread my post on the nuances of that question. Yes, actual nuances. For realz.

    • Chance says

      Okay I’ll check those out and I’ll be looking for strong evidence that there’s “a significant anti-feminist or racist population” as I mentioned before. I’ll define significant in terms of anything higher than 10% of the Atheist population that _actually_ holds anti-feminist views. I highly doubt I’ll find it, as it’d be a difficult claim to test, probably requiring a rigorous, time consuming research project.

      Other things to mention:

      1.) What we have in some of those links (as I’ve already grazed over them) are cases of cyber-bullying. Any Social or Educational psychology textbook will tell say that bullying is the product of wanting recognition. Giving bullies recognition for their behavior is positively reinforcing their behavior. In other words: don’t feed the trolls.

      If you are a writer of a blog and someone is just harassing the crap out of you, you kind of have to depend on your fans to come to your defense, because coming to your own defense will give them the highest possible attention available on your page (thus reinforcing their behavior).

      2.) When we create a “denomonation” within atheism we do essentially what religions do, further divide our group into us-them subcategories. I was an atheist before I was a humanist or a feminist. I knew literally nothing about feminism or humanism when I first began analyzing the god hypotheses. Even being a huge fan of Carl Sagan and finding out he was a humanist didn’t turn me to have any interest in calling myself a “humanist”. I came to call myself a humanist later when I was just needing something to define my stance on things succinctly. I know I would have been turned off by a statement like “you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution” and stuff like that.

      That all said, I’m probably asking too much to expect our group to be as large as it is and not have a variety of different subgroups springing up within the main group (even if they they aren’t specifically related to the original “brand”), so I’m not too sure it’s realistic not to expect a humanist/feminist group within Atheism starting anyway. It’s just a shame it had to get started as it has, with self-proclaimed atheists being chauvinistic dirtbags on people’s blogs.

    • spartan says

      “If those things don’t motivate you to sign Lee’s petition, then you are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.”

      Just a nitpick, but I’ve never really liked that argument, it’s far too close to George W Bush’s ‘you’re either with us or against us’, as well as only having so much validity. There are millions of dogs and cats being euthanized each year; if you don’t (remind readers to spay their pets/sign x petition/insert thing that I want you to do that I think will be effective) then you are obviously part of the problem by the same reasoning.

      But petition signed; it’s sad that anyone can really disagree with the three main bullet points in it, but that just goes to show that it’s needed.

    • says

      it’s far too close to George W Bush’s ‘you’re either with us or against us’

      He was talking about being “with us” as in not interfering with the capture of terrorists, as opposed to harboring them. In that sense, there is a weak similarity: you should not be harboring and defending men who ruthlessly harass the women in our movement. As I think you agree.

      The point of contrast is that we have always made clear that you don’t have to be “with us” in any other sense (you don’t have to adopt our label or do any of the things we do), you just have to not try to throw a monkey wrench in our faces or defend men who harass women. Read my remarks on exactly what it means to be “with or against” atheism plus…it was actually called Being with or against Atheism+ and I actually linked it, by that title, in the post you are responding to.

      Thus, the problem people had with Bush’s remark (it’s lack of nuance) is precisely what we cannot be accused of. Thus you have deployed a false analogy. Indeed, it is not only a fallacy of false analogy, it’s an affective fallacy, since you are trying to map an emotional reaction to a bad thing onto us. That might not be what you thought you were doing, but if it wasn’t for the emotion you were trying to manipulate, your argument would have no strength and you wouldn’t even bothered to have made it.

      This is the kind of thing we want our fellow atheists to be more aware of. We shouldn’t be thinking the way Christians think. We should be more conscious of our own fallacious reasoning, and stop or correct it when we can.

    • says

      “you should not be harboring and defending men who ruthlessly harass the women in our movement.”

      Could you cite examples of those who “ruthlessly harass the women in our movement?

      What do you define “ruthless” to mean in this case?

      And then there comes the “harboring and defending” part. How so?

      “The point of contrast is that we have always made clear that you don’t have to be “with us” in any other sense (you don’t have to adopt our label or do any of the things we do), you just have to not try to throw a monkey wrench in our faces or defend men who harass women.”

      You’ve also made it quite clear that you will be “against us” and were quite clear in the beginning what that would mean.

      But if we disagree with your assessment of the situation we should have the right to say you are bonkers. We are not “throwing a monkey wrench” into anything. We are seeing an opinion or an assessment of a situation and we are disagreeing with the conclusions. Surely, you wouldn’t disagree with others taking in all the available information and coming to a different conclusion, right?

    • spartan says

      “He was talking about being “with us” as in not interfering with the capture of terrorists, as opposed to harboring them. In that sense, there is a weak similarity: you should not be harboring and defending men who ruthlessly harass the women in our movement. As I think you agree.”

      I do agree with the last part, but disagree with your analysis of Bush’s statement. Here’s the fuller context: “”Over time it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity,” he said. “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”” So ‘with us’ isn’t just ‘not interfering’ and ‘against us’ is not just ‘harboring’ terrorists, it is not being ‘inactive’, which in Bushian I’ve always taken in reality to translate to ‘do what we want you to or you’re against us’. Now your statement didn’t specifically say, ‘sign the petition’ or you are part of the problem, technically it just requires ‘motivation’ to sign it, which is why I said ‘too close to’.

      Thus I have neither employed a false analogy nor does my argument rest at all on any type of emotional manipulation or appeal. It’s simply objecting to the logic of, “If you are inactive, or don’t do specific action ‘Y’ that I want you to do, concerning issue X, then you are part of the problem”. If one finds that to be true, then there is no reason to restrict that reasoning to just issue ‘X’, and everyone is guilty of being ‘part of the problem’ on a very long list of ills. Which is why I provided the analogy of the issue of excessive domestic animal euthanization which obviously failed to clarify.

      Your link clarifying what you mean by ‘being with us or against us’ I agree does take an entirely reasonable position on that statement though, and does not necessarily support mere ‘inactivity’ as being sufficient to be ‘against us’, which is cool. Given though how much conversation and criticism is generated on this general topic in this community that is focused specifically on how exactly things are said as opposed to what was meant, I didn’t think pointing out the specific formulation you used in this post to be out of bounds. But it is, again, a tiny nitpick.

    • says

      Really? You do realize that’s old news, right? That I took the criticism to heart and improved my handling of the matter (in several comments and follow-up blog posts) and made sure Jen and I were on the same page with my second Atheism+ post? And this was all resolved almost half a year ago?

      Because, if you don’t know all that, then YFW.

      So, no, I’m not going to stop advocating for Atheism+ just because someone who can’t keep up with current events doesn’t like that I do.

    • says

      ‘Can’t keep up with current events?’ LMAO

      Richard, Jen’s tweet is dated 26th Aug 2012

      Your clarifications, as regards the use of ablist slurs etc. – ‘The Art of the Insult & The Sin of the Slur’ – was written on the 24th Aug 2012

      So – either Jen missed your follow-up post, and was therefore someone who also can’t keep up with current events, or she read it but remained unimpressed. Course, she could have made a follow-up tweet to clarify that she nows feels that a middle-aged white male intellectual such as yourself is indeed a valuable and much-needed voice in this effort to attract more minorities and marginalised people into the Atheist fold. But if I missed it, then put it down to me not being diligent enough to see it – I mean, I wouldn’t want to bear the sin of following this too diligently, because some FTBers such as Stephanie Zvan consider that cyber-stalking.

    • says

      Since her tweet doesn’t mention my second post but says she had only by then read my first one, it’s kind of obvious what the actual order of events is. Trying to rewrite history isn’t going to work here.

    • says

      ‘Rewrite history’?? LMAO – Dicky, you do make me laugh.

      In your previous post, you said you made sure you’re ‘on the same page’ as Jen with regards to your follow up Atheism Plus post. Now, the last time I checked, when one asserts that one ‘is on the same page’ as someone else, it requires the agreement of that other person that you and they are indeed upon ‘the same page’. If you don’t, then you’re just speaking on behalf of the other person without their input or assent. You know, like what those sexist dudebro types do when they ‘mansplain’ things without taking the womens’ perspective into account.

      In my efforts to ‘rewrite history’, I did indeed do a terrible thing by assessing the facts before me: you claimed to be ‘on the same page’ as Jen, but the only evidence I could find of Jen’s take on the matter was her tweet outlining why your words weren’t representative of A+ – and this was after you had written your clarifications in the subsequent post.

      All I suggested was that either Jen had not seen your follow-up post, or that she had seen it and not been impressed. Either way, it’s not evidence that you and she are indeed ‘on the same page’ as regards atheism plus.

    • says

      You pretended timestamps were more important than the actual content of her tweet, from which alone you could have deduced you had no case.

      I pointed that out.

      Now you try to act indignant at the fact that I was right.

      I see nothing productive in this conversation.

      Either you believe in standing up against the harassment of women in our movement, or you don’t. Everything else is handwaving.

    • someoneoranother says

      He’s just too lazy to properly flesh out his opposition. It has been a theme of the dissenting voices in this thread at the time of my writing this comment.

      Either no one who has read this can flesh out or has fleshed out a proper such response or they have but aren’t inclined to post it (because of a dislike of the comment policy or because they read the OP elsewhere and don’t want to provide traffic to this blog or…). Either way, disappointing performance.

  10. jay says

    Thanks for the reply Richard,

    Um, you may wish to check in with the A+ forums (and check in with other A+ “movement leaders”). Re what you’ve written, I don’t think you’d find the behavior of the A+ forums palatable or coherent with what you might expect. And I am honestly not sure there is an A+ any more. Jen McCreight seems to have disassociated herself from it. Where are the other movement leaders?

    • says

      Jen just recently blogged on A+ goals, so I have no idea why you think she’s “distanced herself” from the movement. In fact, she went on a hiatus because of all the ruthless harassment against her.

      I have no idea who uses the A+ forums now, as I don’t use them myself. Those forums are obviously not necessary to continuing the cause of A+. For I am doing that, for example, as is Adam Lee, yet neither of us are on the A+ forums. You have to judge A+ success by its achievements in the field, as I discuss in my article. And by that measure, we’re making slow progress.

      So as to where are the other movement leaders, I’m right here. Another, Adam Lee, is asking for help signing his petition. Which got the attention of over a thousand supporters. Greta Christina is blogging away. And so on.

    • snowman says

      >>where are the other movement leaders, I’m right here

      How are you a leader when they already repudiated your obnoxious behavior, even in their faq page???

      And before you were raving about their success and now you say it is slow? Which is it?

    • Thetar says

      Adam Lee is a member and has posted occasionally at the forums, he was spruiking his petition there.

      I’ve noticed that the so called big players in A+ don’t post there much at all. PZ Myers, Jen McCreight and Greta Christina all saw what happened to Matt Dillahunty, so I can understand them not wanting to get too involved.

  11. hexidecima says

    Good post. I assure that anyone who doesn’t want to be considered “Atheism +” that they should should have no problem being mistaken for that, for good or for ill.

  12. says

    Let me get this straight. You made sure you and Jen were on the same page with your second post (not divisive, not ableist, not unnecessarily harsh), and then you make this post which is (perhaps with the exception of ableism) unnecessarily harsh and divisive?

    So, you’re basically back to square one?

    Don’t you think it’s a bad idea to use the same rhetoric that people want to distance themselves from you in the first place, even those supportive of Atheism Plus? Or am I missing something?

  13. submariner says

    “In other words, the Lee petition exists because women in this movement are being digitally harassed beyond the pale (and not, say, blacks or homeopathy opponents); and feminism is being openly mocked…”

    PZ Meyers forbid Feminism be MOCKED, oh noes!, and OPENLY as well!!.(better if they mock in secret).

    You have feminists like Feminist Frequency claiming that words to Christmas songs are sexist, that depictions of video game NPC’s are sexist.( talk about 1st world problems) Feminists have elevated internet trolling to the level of harassment ( although not legally declared such) , swooned about people wearing a t-shirt that made it clear the wearer did not want to be identified with one of their groups, and another who gave a creationist style science denialism “lecture” with no citations, quote mines, and strawman arguments.

    Richard, the feminists and A+ ers are doing fine mocking themselves. Most rational people can see this for what it is: a political movement. One that refuses to look skeptically at itself.

    In case you were wondering, I won’t be signing the petition.

    • says

      Ladies and gentlemen, Exhibit A: an antifeminist has unabashedly shown up here. Take note! Study this specimen.

      Those songs are sexist–or rather “creepy and/or sexist,” as submariner left out the disjunctive; because antifeminists tend to be logic challenged, and often do things like this: distort what was actually said to make it sound worse. Submariner is attempting an argument form called reductio ad absurdum, yet could only do it by missing or misrepresenting what was actually said (thus, he had to lie to make the facts absurd, in order to argue from their thus-fabricated absurdity—clever, eh?—or does he delusionally think he has accurately represented the facts in this matter? Neither is encouraging). That’s SOP for antifeminists in the atheist movement.

      The issue of video games is another antifeminist distortion: the study of NPC’s (“nonplayer characters”) in video games that submariner refers to hasn’t even been completed yet (nor is it solely about NPC’s), and yet the mere suggestion that there might be some disturbing issues of sexism worth studying in video games produced a vast and ruthless campaign of sexist and misogynistic harassment of the researcher (documented here and here and here; and here). This is precisely the kind of thing I’m talking about (although in this case it’s the gaming community, not the atheism movement specifically; but our women are receiving nearly the same treatment from atheists).

      Here, our antifeminist specimen exhibits the delusional belief that there aren’t any issues of sexism worth studying in video games. Because delusionally not believing there is any sexism is practically a defining attribute of modern sexists (which makes this a nearly ideal red flag: anyone who denies there is any sexism in America to study is probably a sexist; or else someone who just bought a computer and has only just recently discovered the internet).

      Our specimen also conveniently “leaves out” the fact that the way this researcher was treated merely for wanting to research the question exhaustively and conclusively proves there is a disgusting and shocking degree of sexism in the gaming community. Thus, he cites this as an example of something outrageous feminists do, while leaving out the fact that the story he is referring to entails conclusive evidence that what this feminist wanted to investigate was not outrageous but evidently fully justified. Deleting facts that refute them, in the very examples they try to cite in their favor, is another example of antifeminist SOP.

      The other two examples this specimen of antifeminism then cites are similarly erroneous: in both cases he has deleted all the key facts that eliminate their use as reductio arguments, he misrepresents what actually happened, and then fallaciously infers from these thus-fabricated non-examples that feminism deserves to be opposed, and therefore (we’re to infer) feminist women deserve to be ruthlessly digitally harassed. [if you don’t already know the true story behind them, see here and here]

      Of course, do note that this antifeminist doesn’t explicitly say that–that’s what he wants you to conclude. But he knows he would look like a complete and total asshat if he actually said that out loud. But that that is indeed what he is arguing is unmistakable from the context and his conclusion: he is commenting on a post asking people to sign a petition protesting the digital harassment of women in the atheist movement; he states some arguments, then concludes that he won’t sign the petition. The fabrications that precede that declaration are even explicitly represented as his reasons. Thus, he does not think there is anything wrong with digitally harassing women, and he wants you to agree with him.

      I know, I know. You are thinking no one could possibly be that fucking bonkers, or that heartless, or that much of an ass. Or even if someone could be, surely they wouldn’t come out and publicly prove it by actually saying these things here (here of all places–as if he thought I didn’t know the truth of these facts and wouldn’t point you to the links–links he was careful not to include, because he knows if you actually looked into these things he would be exposed). But alas, here he is. Proof positive of sexism and antifeminism in the atheist movement–and of how heartless and irrational they are (and either how delusional or dishonest they are–depending on how you explain all his factual omissions and distortions; either way, they are wholly untrustworthy sources if you want to have any account of reality).

      Submariner is a perfect example of why you need to sign Adam Lee’s petition. Women don’t need apologists for harassment like submariner. They need a show of support that you won’t defend harassment, that you find it as disgusting and unacceptable as I do and would rather it stop.

  14. AVT says

    Signed the petition, because despite some reservations I want to stand against the harassing assholes. Once they’ve been shut down, maybe more nuanced discussion can be had.

    One valid critique that the detractors make is that FtB and A+ etc. place a heavily disproportionate focus on feminism at the expense of other social issues. Is this because (white, middle-class) women are the most privileged minority in the atheist movement? I think so, and maybe this is something to work on.

    • says

      I’m all for nuanced discussion.

      Constructive criticism is a good thing. And all movements have to start somewhere.

      But the reason for the current focus on feminism is precisely the current issue that women in our movement are facing horrible treatment of crisis proportions (see my previous comment).

      We actually would like to talk about a lot of other issues (I mention some in my post). But the antifeminists in our movement are making that difficult, sucking up time and bandwidth on this one issue. If we can get them shouted down, then we can start having other conversations on diverse important topics.

    • AVT says

      Yeah, I just read through the comments, and I guess that’s true. It’s kind of ironic… by hating feminism so vociferously, the slymers have made it a major topic of discussion in the movement.

  15. says

    Richard,
    Great post. When I was a theist, I knew people with this mindset. They struck me as odious and obnoxious then. Subtract the theistic component, and they could have been the author of many of these pathetic and empty-headed comments(referring to the larger conversation, not just this post). If they choose to embrace noxious, irrational positions, then I won’t shed a tear at the loss of their “contributions.”

  16. summerseale says

    I cannot disagree more with your stance on racism and atheism. It is utterly preposterous. it has absolutely nothing to do with racism and everything to do with differing cultural norms. And even so, there are atheists in every single community of the world which I can think of, even when the majority of their culture shuns them.

    Moreover, to say that it is racist for organized atheism and skeptics not to concern their official agenda with violence and crime in minority neighborhoods is beyond the pale and utterly devoid of any thought whatsoever. Is it also racist for the Royal Society to not have a platform on minority problems in the United States and simply concern themselves with science? Is it racist for the Human Genome project not to have rules governing the discussion of minority problems? Is it racist for the NASDAQ not to put out a statement about minority concerns in classrooms?

    This attitude of yours is utter hogwash, and that is exactly why some people reject the whole notion of “Atheism +”. Atheism is about one thing only, and many people are united by that one thing. You mention the Republican tone deafness, and I couldn’t agree more – but you are guilty of exactly the same thing. You are actually going around and pointing fingers at those who do not share all of your wishes and screaming the equivalent of “RINO” – Republican In Name Only. That’s exactly what you are doing with this attitude of yours towards atheists.

    There are legions of atheists who agree with human rights, feminist goals, and many other things, but they don’t want to associate it all under the same banner. It’s bloody hard enough already as it is to unite for a single cause, minority that we are in certain parts of the world. And it’s even harder to get people to only associate us with the simple lack of belief and accept that as it is.

    And your solution is to throw all of those people out of the movement and exclude them in some sort of Stalinist purge, and to associate atheism with even yet more political baggage. Frankly, it makes me sick to see all of this fighting going on because of uninformed notions of righteousness which has been destroying our movement from within. You’re no better than the Jacobins, setting yourself up as some sort of Robespierre; you would decapitate anyone who disagrees with putting everything under one flag and one goal.

    Well, I’m sorry, but you can count me out. I’ve been writing in support for women’s rights, gay rights, full medical coverage, and even gun control since a decade before FTB was ever born, and I’m not going to join your ultra-pathological movement with its flag waving and denunciations a la Fouquier. You’re proving Vergniaud’s words absolutely correct: “La revolution est comme Saturne, elle devore ses propres enfants.”

    • says

      …it has absolutely nothing to do with racism and everything to do with differing cultural norms.

      Which have to do with race.

      …there are atheists in every single community of the world which I can think of

      Which fact is not only something I myself stated, but is also not relevant to my saying some atheists among us might be behaving (even inadvertently) in a manner that’s a little-bit racist.

      Moreover, to say that it is racist for organized atheism and skeptics not to concern their official agenda with violence and crime in minority neighborhoods is beyond the pale and utterly devoid of any thought whatsoever.

      That sentence (for all its hyperbole) looks more like an example of something beyond the pale and utterly devoid of any thought whatsoever.

      It’s indeed a straw man, since it’s not what I argued. To not concern yourself with x and to insist we not concern ourselves with x are not the same thing. Nor is “our movement as a whole should address x” the same thing as “every single specific organization within our movement should address x.”

      I am not amused by your conflating what I actually said with those things, which I did not say.

      your solution is to throw all of those people out of the movement and exclude them in some sort of Stalinist purge

      Yes, because my post argues that we need to raise money for gulags and take over the government so we can use the United States military to round up antifeminists who happen to be atheists and shoot them or enslave them in coal mines in Virginia.

      Oh wait, no. My post was about standing up against atheists who digitally harass women in the movement by signing a petition. Fucking Stalinism.

      You mention the Republican tone deafness, and I couldn’t agree more – but you are guilty of exactly the same thing

      That’s like saying because we lock up kidnappers we are guilty of the same thing. Not.

      The percentage of atheists who are ruthlessly harassing the women in our movement, even the percentage of atheists who want the movement to ignore the interests of feminism and humanism and social justice, is small; and we certainly do not want to recruit more of them. Whereas the percentage of people (especially those who are already “nones”) who would join our movement (and attend our conferences and donate to our orgs and buy our books and periodicals), but don’t because we show no interest in the things that matter to them (or worse, because they see how we treat our own women), is vast.

      Think in Venn Diagrams: huge circle of potential atheist participants and supporters who are black, Hispanic, Asian, women–and even white men who are committed atheists but find endless talking about homeopathy and theology boring and want us to apply our skepticism and humanism to things even more important; next to a tiny circle of actual and potential atheist sexist asshats who harass our women or high-five those who do. Now, think of the circle representing “actual participating and supporting members of the atheist community” and ask yourself where it would be better to draw it: around the big circle (and not around the small one), or around the small circle? Given that if we keep drawing it around the small circle, most of the big circle will not join us, the answer is simple and obvious.

      Which is precisely the point made in the post I linked to on your inept argument by Greta Christina: Some Thoughts on Divisiveness.

      As rational people, we ought to know how Venn diagrams work. As informed people, we ought to know the reality of American demographics (much less world demographics). As compassionate people, we ought to passionately know that harassing women in our movement is not something our movement should be tolerating.

      I’ve been writing in support for women’s rights, gay rights, full medical coverage, and even gun control since a decade before FTB was ever born

      I would be delighted to read those things. Please provide URLs.

    • snowman says

      You’ll notice Richard of course refused to address your damningly accurate analogies amidst his obfuscating:

      >>Is it also racist for the Royal Society to not have a platform on minority problems in the United States and simply concern themselves with science? Is it racist for the Human Genome project not to have rules governing the discussion of minority problems? Is it racist for the NASDAQ not to put out a statement about minority concerns in classrooms?

    • Rieux says

      Think in Venn Diagrams: huge circle of potential atheist participants and supporters who are black, Hispanic, Asian, women–and even white men who are committed atheists but find endless talking about homeopathy and theology boring and want us to apply our skepticism and humanism to things even more important….

      FWIW (not terribly much), I’m a white guy who would really rather not have much discussion of sexism or racism in atheist organizations—because, in my hoped-for hypothetical, we all get this stuff because we’re knowledgeable and thoughtful and rational and adult people—and instead I’d rather that we focus on religion, the damage it does to humanity, and how we can best deal with/ameliorate that.

      But the unfortunate fact, which Richard has mentioned repeatedly on this thread (and countless others have mentioned elsewhere), is that all too many atheists very obviously do not understand these issues on the most basic levels imaginable, and indeed insist on unloading huge quantities of mindlessly misogynistic garbage into our community, not infrequently in a manner that severely mistreats valuable members of that community. Basic damned humanity then forces a community focus on the subset of common-sense humanism called feminism, in a necessary effort to explain to everyone present what these choads are vomiting all over.

      I would really rather be discussing other things in the atheist community. Anti-feminist assholes have ensured that that’s not possible. Thanks a lot, assholes.

    • GrzeTor says

      “Atheism is about one thing only, and many people are united by that one thing. ” You are right. This is valid, and is going to be valid for many years to come, as current majority leaves religion etc.

      As I understand the point of A+ was what should the future direction be, after you’ve achieved everyting in atheism. And they chose WRONG path. I hoped that these type of movements – atheism, skepticism, rationalism etc. – would ultimately lead to the general application of rules of critical thinking, rational decision making etc. in everything. Including health, finances etc. The same forces of reason that lead people outside the magic of religions could be apply everywhere. This includes not having a fixed beliefs or goals, but making views and decisions based on real-world data, goals based on reason etc. So that this would be about using good methods of thinking and deciding, and after using these methods on inputs using results to make decisions and form views, rather than having fixed views and using some propaganda/advocacy methods to popularize them or support them.

      It looks like it didn’t work that way, these movements are still going toward fixed beliefs and goals, just non-theistic, non-UFO, non-magic ones. A+ wants to move atheism towards having a fixed left-wing goals, skepticism is morphing into a movement of support for Official Version, eg. those coming from a certain inergovernmental panel. That’s wrong. It’s time to go to the basics, to the application of reason, the process that lead ones that lead most of atheists to their atheistic conclusions. Just apply it everywhere.

      Right now it doesn’t seem to be popular. Eg. bragging about logic and reason in the aspect of religion didn’t lead Matt Dillahunty to make logical and reasonable decisions in the aspect of health. A+ people are a special case of compartamentalization of reason, as they are seem invunerable to low-iq-targetted religions like theistic ones, but are very vunerable to higher-iq-targetted left-wing religions like diversity, social justice, feminism etc. It’s time to go one level up, A+ people and debunk these too!

    • says

      As I understand the point of A+ was what should the future direction be, after you’ve achieved everyting in atheism.

      No, that has never been said by any of us. It’s foolish, since you may as well say “when hell freezes over.” Nor do we want to move “away” from the other things we do and talk about. We simply want to do and talk about more than just that. Because we have to. And we ought to.

      Atheism Plus is about:

      (1) The fact that atheism is a large organized movement now, and most of us actually care about the world, and we as atheists have a perspective on the problems of the world that can contribute and help, and part of that is making ourselves and our own movement better, more honest and self-critical, more aware of what’s going on around us, and what we can and should be doing about it as humanists.

      and

      (2) We are ignoring over half our target constituency: potential women and minority atheists, and actual women and minority atheists who could be active in and contributing to our movement. If we want to grow, we have to start thinking about how to include them and how to benefit from including them.

      Both points I explicitly made in my post here, the one you are responding to.

      So YDNRTP.

    • GrzeTor says

      @Richard: About ignoring potential constituency: you are doing a destructive job of scarrying out potential members with your hevy insistence on bordering on requirement of feminist and other left wing activism. This is especially true for 3 groups.

      Group 1: “Just can’t be bothered” people. A big chunk of population, more passive about issues that you’d like. Much larger than the tiny group of left-wing activist that your approach might appeal to. Not only interested in spending their time listening to your neverending stream of nagging about womens or minorities issues, but also actively saying to get off to people who bother them with ideologies (including likes of Jehova Witness and their secular equivalents – A+ cult members). Yet having these people among atheist, skeptics and rationalist is essential to the movement success. They would form a massive, passive walls guarding against the attacks of dangerous proposal of religous leaders, or crazy stuff from the irrational by rejecting them outright, voting against them etc. Leaving better equipped, more manevreable but smaller activist units a more appropraite strike force role.

      Group 2: Atheists, skeptic, rationalist with more conservative lifestyles. Wheter you like it or not words like “Diversity”, “social justice”, “Feminism” have become a firm trademarks of left wing politics. Basically if you use them you are communicating to the public what they have to classify you as a left-wing activist. If you use them too frequently you send a signal to classify you as an extreme left-wing activist. This won’t play well with conservatives.

      Group 3: People who recognize dangers of feminism, diversity push, and social justice. Like men who have been hurt by the divorce courts applying feminist ideology to give preferences to women, or those who are just aware of how bad things are going on in this area and are against it. Or people who didn’t get the job or place at the unversity despite passing exams with appropriate points because of some diversity quotas – or those who are just appaled by the immorality of such arrangements. Or just those who recognize that “social justice” is something that in practice just ends up with higher taxation.

      Now, there are things that would appeal to everobody, including those groups, like general rational decision making about stuff like health, finances, planning stuff, choosing job, evaluating politicians to vote for etc. Things that are essential, practical, universal, and proven. Concentrated mainly on methods, practices rather than on preassumed outcomes in the form of “core values”. I had supposded that this would be a natural extension trend for movements like skepticism, rationalism, atheism – simply applying the same reason and logic we apply to religion and UFO, to the practical aspects of life. Notice this is scalable – you can ultimately get close to 85%-90% of people practicing this.

      Unfortunately A+ came and is trying to destroy this vision. It wants to go back to the past practices, similar to what communists did – artificially chain atheism & co. to some form of left-wing ideology. Thus eliminating the chances to appeal to majority of population. And suffocating even when it comes to potential outcomes, as no thinking incompatible with your “A+ core values” is allowed in A+ movement.

    • says

      If conservatives don’t care about how women are treated nor want to join the conversation about how we can make the world better, then why would we want them?

      And if people “can’t be bothered” then they aren’t motivated to be in the movement anyway.

      As for the butthurt MRAs, they are a fringe and angry minority that I don’t want around me. To translate their bad experiences into hatred of feminists and just causes is the rankest of irrationality, unbecoming a decent skeptic.

      As for the rest, far more people would be in this movement, if we cared about shit, and didn’t just talk about God all the time, or other trivia. Including women and minorities.

      The math clearly is on my side.

    • GrzeTor says

      Richard – I’m totally with you on the necessity to go beyond just talking about gods, and caring about topic from the real world. It’s just that you have chosen the wrong topics! I’m also with you against compartamentalization of critical thinking only to god/UFO stuff, that is too frequent.
      My proposals are:
      1) Health. It’s the topic universal to all, with all members benefitting. Immediate introduction of such programs is critical for older members, not so for the younger people. As far as the prevention the current state of werstern world is quite wrong (masked by intervetions from developing medicine). After adopting this atheist organizations would propagate healthy lifestyles, that would result in reduced chances of getting degenerative dieseases for their members. Promoting health is a moral act, as it prevents deaths and dieseases. Not promoting health is (sometimes unitnentional, a result of negligence) evil, as it leads to deaths and dieseases. There’s also a lot of compartamantelization of thinking in this subject among atheist. The most famous examples of atheists who used logic and reason against religion but totally failed/fail applying it to health habits are Christopher Hithens, and curently Matt Dillahunty. Notice that traditionally religions had some health-related habits, and right now many religious organizations introduce more modern, science based programs, most famous being those by Daniel Amen. Such behawior makes churches more reasonable than atheist organizations that ignore the topic, or especially Atheism+ ones wasting their time on useless crap like „Diversity”, or gender wars of feminists.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6plUtCMWLj8

      2) General organization stuff important for real life – how to manage finances, how to manage time, how to plan ahead, how to effectively make decisions etc. How to utilize tools like computers, web services to achieve these. Again – a superuniversal topic, that is beneficial to all members. And quite easy one – there are so many excellent methods, procedures etc., but mostly used in corporate settings.
      3) Organizations and people applying critical thinking to themslevles. Here you seem compartamentalized here.
      4) Interesting topics of modern age. Are climate changes natural or made by civilization? Are we facing resource depletion crisis, overpopulation crisis? How about morality for institutions? Is there a discrimination of humans as compared to the treatment of corporations? If/when/where/in what areas humans are going to be replaced by AI and of what kind, in what form (AI as a corporation, AI as a government)? As an ancient historian you probably don’t spend enough time on these, so you’d benefit the most.
      Concerning your uneven treatment of men rights advocates (disdain) and feminists (fascination). I’m not much into special interest groups, but if these two are compared – MRA clearly win. Feminists are mentally so 18th centaury – still fighting „Patriarchy” in the West, despite it’s dissapearance, and lacking the ability to think in the categories of institutions, still having only humans and families as actors in their mental models. They are also too emotion based. And sometimes anti-science. They have more tendencies to repeat their matrans over and over again (like retarded people or believers in church repeating together the same thing after priest), rather than think. Besides there’s nothing interesting to me in what feminists publish or link to on their sites, eg. I don’t find reading about $200 shoes and other fashion stuff interesting.
      MRA on the other hand are recognizing problems of 21 centaury, have the custom to think in categories of institutions, industries and systems. The MRAs I’ve read typically blamed the persecution of men on institutions like Divorce Industry, Abuse Industry or hungry-for-power governments. Eg. The Divorce Industry is a set of law firms and lawyers financially dependent on income from divorce proceedings. With the income they get from divorces they support lobbists that push legislation for easy, frequent, high-money transfer divorces, so that they can have more profits, and that profits support another iteration of lobbying (positive feedback look). If divorce rates fall or divorce rulings change character from individual for every case, to some standard ruling for everyone then Men rights advocates (the ones I’ve read) are also more into making observations, thinking than repeating mantras in their publications. There are also many interesting articles and links about technology on many MRA sites. Example atheist who is also men’s rights advocate is Angry Harry.
      http://www.angryharry.com/

      Going back to Just Can’t Be Bothered” people as a target group for atheism. Atheism is a perfect match for their lifestyle! With atheism they don’t have to attend ceremonies, rituals, obligatory procedures like confessions etc. Getting rid of the concept of a God that constantly monitors them, including their minds, should be a great relief for them. But they definitely won’t go to an activist organization like A+, also they aren’t likely to spend time listening to feminists whining and nagging on how evil they are. So from your egocentric, egoistic activist-only standpoint you can say “they aren’t motivated to be in the movement anyway”
      For the rest us the value of having a significant number of JCBB atheist is in the things they WON’T do is where the value is. They won’t send their children to professional indoctrinators (priests) for indoctrination, they won’t be financially supporting churches, they won’t be voting for religious craziness and it’s candidates, they won’t disallow their children to attend skeptic, atheist organizations. So having them on our side, even passively is critical for future success. Your approach of “you are with us or against us”, or “you support values or you are not with us” is rendered retarded by the mere existence and importance of this group.

      About conservative atheists – from what I’ve understand about conservatives in general they are not interested in supporting causes like the undefined “social justice”, or various types of equalities, or even the distributed character of your movement – rather they prefer functioning well defined structures, with explicity shown leaders and clearly defined functions at each position or rank (including having well-defined roles in the family, which btw. don’t have to be patriarchal, the female can be a decider), and also clearly and explicitly defined sets of rules. Just like a classic corporation (conservatives) vs. super-flat structure corporation (like Valve) for liberals.

      They are also not interested in the range of topics you chose for A+ movement – they would rather talk about kids than feminism. From what we see in the West right now there’s no problem for conservative women to choose a career, neither in politics (eg. Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher) or business (eg. Meg Whitman). So your conditional rantings about conservatives are unjustified.

    • says

      Actually we do treat those issues.

      Several of us blog on issues of mental health and healthcare, for example. I have blogged on health care before. And I would love to see more talks by experts in the area on what atheists and skeptics should know about problems in the health care systems and what they can do to ameliorate them, for example; or more debates over the ins and outs of privatized or socialized medical systems; etc. That is very squarely in the godless politics/social justice umbrella.

      We’ve gotten talks on financial planning at atheist conventions already. And atheist parenting. And drug legalization. And so on. All the way down the line. We’re already doing these things, and these are precisely the kind of things we wanted to do from the start.

      You should be aware that it’s the haters who keep forcing us onto the issue of sexism. If they weren’t shitting everywhere, we could talk about other things. That’s essentially the point made by Jen McCreight’s latest blog.

    • says

      @GrzeTor

      I think the problem here is that we are talking to the wrong person. Richard is not a leader in this movement and obviously takes personal offence by many of the ideas and suggestions we are making to him.

      If he’s not going to listen, and really, he doesn’t need to because he’s not steering this A+ boat, maybe it’s time we stop trying to convince the stubborn Mr. Carrier and start talking to those who really do matter in this movement.

      Richard doesn’t want to accept advice. He doesn’t see that those “fires” I’m talking about are right in front of him if he only cared to look.

      The fact that GrzeTor can clearly point out that the various GROUPS Richard wishes to exclude (ostracise/banish/shun/disassociate etc…) for various reasons (or at the very least doesn’t understand why he’d actually want them on his side) are the ones he SHOULD be courting. Instead he willfully pisses them off. He doesn’t see that they are the self-same fires I am speaking of and that we are actually trying to help him. Oh well, some people are incapable of seeing the need to listen.

      “With us or against us” is never a good phrase to use with regards to people you wish would join your cause. It creates resentment.

      Time to move this to a better positioned set of people who DO actually steer the a+ boat and may actually be willing to hear other views and possibly adapt their outlook to include rather than exclude?

      Just a thought….

      @Richard
      “If conservatives don’t care about how women are treated nor want to join the conversation about how we can make the world better, then why would we want them?”
      “And if people “can’t be bothered” then they aren’t motivated to be in the movement anyway”

      Oh Richard, there you go again trying to push a massive amount of atheists out of your little group even though you were told how bad it is to do such things. You sure are stubborn, aren’t you?

      MRA’s are just a bunch a guy’s fighting back against something they see as a pendulum swinging too far the other way. Some are crazy nuts but I can say the same about some feminists on this very site. I know some very legitimate stories that would make the MRA views very understandable. It seems from what I know about MRA groups is that they want EQUALITY. Can you REALLY say that of most feminists??

      “As for the rest, far more people would be in this movement, if we cared about shit, and didn’t just talk about God all the time…..”
      Yeah because an “atheist” talking about religion is unheard of?!?! You amaze me Richard, you really do.

      Just to give you a hint. I can talk about a 1000 topics and NONE of them have to do with my atheism. Therefore, they have NOTHING to do with my atheism and have no need to be connected. Those topics simply have to do with my many other world views and there is no reason to find a correlation or have them brought into any topic as part of “atheism”

      I don’t want to do anything that is going to damage atheism but as it stands now, A+ is seriously getting close to doing that. How do I join THAT?!?

  17. JediVerse says

    “Atheism+ is just atheism + skepticism + humanism”

    If this were it I would be onboard. When I married my wife, I took her name as a middle name and encouraged her to keep her surname. I wanted our son to have my surname and our daughter to have hers, an equitable solution upholding the value of both sexes and both parties. Matriarchal line I thought should be equally as important as the patriarchal. I left my job and stayed home to look after our children when they were born while my wife continued her career. I lived and breathed what you call “feminism” and the scorn I recieved from people for being “pussy-whipped” or being a “girly-man” or a bludger for not providing for my family I ignored as merely the last vestiges of sexism in its death-throws after the brave fight begun by the suffragettes all those years ago. I was thankful to them, for without their fight I would not have had the opportunity to be home with my children which I loved.

    After 8 years of being a house-husband my marriage ended, and my wife out of spite tried to stop me seeing my children and wanted me to only see them one night a week. I walked out of the relationship with nothing, and she used lawyers to ensure I recieved none of her superannuation or any assets from the marriage. I had nothing – no job, no career, could not get public housing and had to stay at a friend’s place until I found my feet. I still believe passionately in equality, and being the recipient of discrimination I feel deeply for others who experience the same, no matter what their race, gender or religion.

    On your A+ forums I was slandered and belittled as a misogynist, I was ridiculed when I suggested that men are discriminated against also, and was informed I was part of the patriarchy and part of the problem. I was told to go and study because I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. I was never banned, though many others were in the discussions I was on simply for disagreeing. I left of my own volition. I was outraged by my treatment, but consoled myself with the knowledge that this is only a very small part of the skeptical community, and I could make my way elsewhere.

    The A+ forum is like a massive troll-making machine. The way people are treated, banned mid-arguement, belittled and vilified for having differing opinions, is the source of the problem. Please Richard, if you are going to trumpet their cause you cannot as you put it “head in sand” about the forums. Go there anonymously (as Matt Dilahunty did) and see for yourself. If you are not shocked and horrified by how you are treated I will be amazed. Try disagreeing with one of their wilder claims and see what happens.

    Finally, after being discriminated against for being male, how can you insist that I call myself a feminist? Of course I support equality for the sexes, but humanism covers that surely? The term “feminism” is divisive and discriminatory and needs to be dropped. Just because I refuse to call myself a feminist does not automatically make me a misogynist. I have a daughter FFS, and I want her to grow up in a world without discrimination, but I also have a son and don’t want him to ever experience what I have gone through either. I am a humanist, and that should be enough. I will not be signing the petition however because much of the trolling (as horrible as some of it has been) is nothing more than people who are lashing out because of the way they have been treated.

    Finally, I am a huge fan of your scholarship. I have a degree in theology and I’m eagerly awaiting your next book. I’m hoping it is everything that Bart Ehrman’s wasn’t. Please stop wasting your time with this A+ stuff and FINISH YOUR FUCKING BOOK! I want one!

  18. great1american1satan says

    At number 8-

    Actually, I expect a dude in SF, by which I assume you mean San Francisco, might meet anti-atheist prejudice from liberal quarters. There’s a meme going around tumblr at the moment (popular with LGBTQs and therefore SF) that atheists are all fedora-wearing middle-class white MRAs.

    What you must understand is that there is a good reason people are feeling that way. As a person in a privileged position, it’s on you to let them have their perspective, show ‘em you’re nice with actions. Don’t be a dick, recognize that a whole heaping fuckload of dicks came before you to instill that attitude in them.

  19. nohellbelowus says

    Anyone who is writing wanker limericks in a serious activist forum is acting like a child. It’s perfectly acceptable for the adults in the room to send them packing.

    And that sounds like a healthy movement, not a dying one. Their forums are being actively moderated for adult conversation and planning. Like any healthy movement forum.

    Yeah, adults never indulge in bawdy limericks. It is precisely this kind of righteous, humourless, petty, holier-than-thou intolerance which has already doomed Atheism+ to irrelevance.

    Stick a fork in it.

  20. mofa says

    Keep spruiking (Austrlaian slang) for Atheism + Richard, you are doing your adversaries a favour (Australian spelling). Maybe stick to the disproving the historical Jesus thing…you are good at that.

  21. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    bird wrote:

    all we want is non-crazy rules… like… just forget about it…

    “Crazy rules”?

    Okay, think about it this way: if you’re arguing with someone you know is African-American, would you call him or her a nigger, or make jokes about lynching them? If it’s a Jewish person would you call them a kike and make jokes about sending them to a concentration camp? Is that a “crazy rule” or is it, I don’t know, being a decent human being?

    Seems remarkably uncomplicated to me. And very far from “crazy”.

  22. says

    Richard, I enjoyed this post and have decided to add my name to that petition. As we all know every movement or group will have its bad apples. This is always true and I feel that some of these atheist feminist or racist may have just brought that baggage with them before they became atheist or have always been that way. You can’t help it when others make stupid generalizations on a group based on the actions of a couple of morons but it happens. That’s just life. Aside from making our protests known against the actions of these bad examples of what atheism stands for or is about we could also act accordingly and present a shining example about what we truly stand for since actions speak volumes louder than words.

  23. Unsorted says

    I’ve stated views that have got me banged over the head by being called an apologist for the other side by both sides.

    Behold! Self righteousness abideth in all parts of our community and no part is untouched.

  24. says

    There is a real vein of racism in the A+. 79% of African-Americans identify religion as an important factor in their lives. 83% of Latinos in America are affiliated with a church. Religion is clearly an important factor for many people, especially racial minorities in the United States. Where the A+ movement has gone off the tracks is it’s complete hatred of these people. They aren’t just people with whom we disagree, they are “idiots,” “wankers,” “fuckwads,” etc. Insults permeate the internet, and they seem to dominate the conversation within the online A+ movement. Considering much of the movement is online, this is a real problem.

    My daughters and my fiance are African-American. Why would they join a movement that so clearly hates them? Giving lip service to social justice and claiming to be liberal are not enough. The A+ movement is too quick to dismiss people based on their religion/race/gender/time of the day. For a movement that claims to be based in reason and a broader level of thought beyond just whether there is a God, A+ hasn’t been cutting it. So I’d like to see less tolerance of insults and general rudeness and more tolerance of people with whom we disagree.

    • snowman says

      Well of course atheism rejects religion, there’s no way around that! But it can have no concern whatsoever with the race of the religious. Sure, target racial groups as you can bc they are religious, but no more than that.

      But I agree that people like Richard and so many of the A+ people and atheist blog-warrior types in general do a real disservice to atheism with their obnoxious righteous insulting approach, as well their refusal to debate in a collegial manner. Richard is the worst example and will say anything to try to squeak out a win on every single point, rather than see debate as an opportunity for mutual discovery.

  25. says

    He’s referring to Surly Amy’s requirements for anti-harassment policies — no “fake” jewelry, no pro-equality t-shirts, no laughter, no parodies, no women with actual credentials — you know, basic stuff like that.

    As for the A+ forums (where you admittedly haven’t been), they’re tearing each other to shreds in there. They’re fighting over virtual hugs and several mods have quit because of it. It’s a virtual snake pit.

    Just an FYI.

    • says

      YFW. Amy’s current position is nothing at all what is being claimed here. This is typical antifeminist distortion of reality. Accordingly, I don’t trust you have a bead on reality at all, much less in the A+ forums. Nor am I concerned about such a trivial issue.

      You either are against the harassment of women in the atheist movement or not. What bearing any of the nonsense you are talking about has on that beats me.

    • Thetar says

      Maria is right. You seem very reluctant to see for yourself what is going on at the A+ forums. Maybe you have actually seen that horrorshow and are trivializing it so that you don’t have to offer any explanations.

      Whether you like or not, that forum represents (or appears to represent) the public face of Atheism +. Unless that forum is disassociated from the A+ “movement”, I can’t see any way forward for A+.

    • says

      This attempt to derail the thread with irrelevancies is all too obvious.

      This simply has nothing to do with the merits of signing Adam Lee’s petition, nor anything to do with my actually-stated measures of success for the A+ movement.

      Your tricks don’t work here. Try them on someone else.

  26. abear says

    Richard: Have you read much of the A+ forum? It would seem to be wise to do so before endorsing it.

    “Their forums are being actively moderated for adult conversation and planning. Like any healthy movement forum.”

    Try posting over there, especially with any friendly well meant advice you may have.Like any healthy movement forum that purports to base their ideas on rationality and critical thinking skills, it should be well received.

  27. Kendall says

    “They are so successful at this they even convince women to declare they are not feminists”

    Before jumping to conclusions like this, you might want to actually talk to some of the women who’ve decided to reject the feminist label. I think the first thing you’ll find out is that it definitely isn’t about rejecting equality and women’s rights.

    I know several women who’ve stopped using that label over the last few years and none of them needed to be convinced to do it by anti-feminists. In my experience feminists are quite capable of driving women out of their movement without any help from anyone else. When they police women’s choices, and accuse women of “gender treachery” or “faux-feminism” if they step out of line, that can be more than enough to do the job.

    While not all feminists are like that, mainstream feminism often isn’t the liberal and tolerant movement you portray it as.

  28. GrzeTor says

    So what are the biggest flaws, errors, falacies, disadvantages of the part of Atheism Plus that is the difference between it and conventional atheism? Can you enlighten us on this?

    • GrzeTor says

      That’s simple. You want your readers to support something by signing a petition. Every something has both advantages and disadvantages. A good decision process requires knowing both, before making a decision. As of now you haven’t shown the negative sides of things you promote, so I guess you don’t want your readers to make an informed decision based on full information?
      Rather you want to behave as a kind of propagandist, who like all propagandists praises advantages of your his stuff, avoiding provinding a clear information of negative sides of your stuff?
      If you don’t want to provide your readers with valuable information about downsides of A+ then why should anyone read post about A+ coming from such information-hider? This is dangerous, as it may lead such reader to make wrong decision because of not knowing about the disadvantages of A+.

  29. Kendall says

    “The antifeminists in the atheist movement are doing the same thing, picking absurd caricatures and extremists (e.g., Dworkin) and then claim all feminism is that or that’s what feminism inevitably leads to.”

    Even if that was true, you’re going to the other extreme by dismissing the feminists who don’t fit your liberal definition of feminism. In my experience the sex positive feminism followed by people like Greta Christina constitutes a much smaller fringe of the activist movement than Dworkin style radical feminism.

    If atheists were regularly quoting Stalin, celebrating his life and work, and citing him as a major ideological influence, then your comparison would make more sense. But Stalin was never a leading light in the atheist community, and most atheists would assume it to be trolling if he was positively quoted today. In contrast, Dworkin was one of the most significant and influential figures in 20th century feminism, and her work is still taken very seriously by modern feminists.

    For example, I’ve been following the current campaign to criminalise prostitution in the UK and her ideology is at the core of the feminist argument. I see feminists throw out references to her work as if that immediately settles the argument. If she was still alive then she’d fit right in with mainstream feminist activism. Her views are no more extreme than those of many feminists who are currently leading major organisations.

    If Stalin’s ideology was as influential in modern atheism as Dworkin’s is in modern feminism then I think it’d be reasonable for people to reject the atheist movement on that basis.

  30. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    When they police women’s choices, and accuse women of “gender treachery” or “faux-feminism” if they step out of line, that can be more than enough to do the job.

    Would you elaborate? While I certainly agree that Feminism can certainly drive away some women, specifically Transwomen, and WOC because the tendancy to focus almost exclusively on white women, that doesn’t seem to be what you’re talking about here.

    • Kendall says

      I’m happy to elaborate, if Richard will indulge me…

      This article is one example of the kind of attitude I’m talking about:

      http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/08/fun-feminism-women-feminist

      Or this one from “Britain’s leading young feminist” and founder of the UK’s largest feminist organisation:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/oct/14/kat-banyard-feminist-pornography-equality

      Choices that they disapprove of are labelled “neo-liberal” or “faux-feminist”, and to say they merely look down on the women who make them is an understatement.

      Mainstream feminism’s authoritarian and collectivist dismissal of individual choice is why I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. I don’t think it’s too surprising that it’d put off some nonconforming women too.

      I’m friends with a former sex worker and I’ve been following the ongoing feminist campaign against the sex industry in Europe, so most of my specific examples would be related to treatment of sex workers. As you might imagine, mainstream feminists lose my support as soon as they make it a goal of their activism to criminalise sex work and increase the stigma attached to it.

      One particularly nasty argument I’ve seen feminists use is the claim that sex workers encourage men to rape. That was one of the main arguments for shutting down sex shops and strip clubs, with sex workers who spoke out attacked for “putting their selfish choices ahead of women’s safety”.

      The main justification for this was a report from the feminist charity Eaves for Women, which claimed that rape and sexual assault increase significantly around strip clubs. Even if the figures were accurate this would be a case of using correlation as proof of causation, but when their data was examined it simply didn’t hold up to scrutiny at all.

      Here’s a paper on the subject from former sex worker Dr Brooke Magnanti:

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/47185652/Green-Paper-Camden-Lilith-rape-stats

      In fact, Dr Magnanti is a good example of what I’m talking about. The abuse she received from feminists after defending her choice to work as an escort is the reason why she stopped using the label. Something she mentions in this column:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9629014/Feminism.-What-does-it-mean-anyway.html

      “At its core feminism is – or is supposed to be – about equality under the law regardless of sex. Sounds simple, no? Maybe even appealing? Absolutely! But the devil is in the details: women are diverse as a group, therefore their needs vary widely. Loads of women don’t see mainstream feminism including them, so they go on and live the lives they were living anyway – without feeling the need to label themselves as feminists.”

      Dr Magnanti, and the women she’s describing in that quote, definitely don’t fit the narrative that women who reject feminism are doing so because of anti-feminist lies.

    • says

      By analogy, women who are harassed in the atheism movement should decide to stop calling themselves atheists?

      Think that through and you’ll see the problem here.

      You take back the label when asshats who share it abuse you. You don’t disown it.

    • Kendall says

      There’s a difference between a minority of individuals within a movement behaving horribly, and an official policy adopted by many of the movement’s key leaders and organisations.

      If the largest and most influential atheist groups made harassing women part of their platform, in some cases even excluding people who opposed harassment, then I’d expect most women to run a mile. In my opinion that’d be perfectly understandable, even if there was also a good argument for reclaiming the tainted atheist label.

      I’d say the same is true for women who disown feminism because they disagree with, or are rejected by, most mainstream feminist organisations.

      I have a great deal of respect for liberal and sex positive feminists who do try to challenge Europe’s mainstream movement; arguing for tolerance even though they get blocked and banned and attacked by many other feminists. But I don’t think they’re being unreasonable if they eventually have enough and wash their hands of the movement.

  31. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Care to point out where someone demanded “no “fake” jewelry, no pro-equality t-shirts, no laughter, no parodies, no women with actual credentials”? I’d certainly like to see something in the way of proof from well-known liars and bigots.

    Or, you could admit that you’re deliberately misrepresenting what did happen because sucking up to bigots is easier than being an adult.

    • says

      Let me get this straight. Atheism plus advocates occasionally swear when you annoy them. Therefore Atheism plus is evil?

      It’s amusing to see people troll a forum created for Atheism Plus members to plan how to further their goals, by peppering it with complaints and rude limericks and other things that have nothing to do with the purpose of the forum but only to annoy and harass and derail the forum’s conversations, and then when people react as one would expect to such immature and unproductive behavior, the trollers and harassers quote mine the reactions (that their despicable behavior elicited) as evidence that Atheism Plus is, like, totally bad and stuff.

      Everyone take note of that. Because it’s more antifeminist SOP.

    • says

      Richard:

      A+’ “advocates” need to stop replying to descent and doubt with rude and snarky comment aimed at demeaning their opponent. I’ve pointed his out before. Those “advocates” are doing NOTHING to help when people find your comment to those you’re trying to convince to be so intentionally derogatory and snide.

      Why would anyone want to follow an organization where even the “leaders” act like assholes.

      See? I can use the word “asshole” because I am not asking anyone to follow me into the new horizon of the “new” atheism. YOU are.

      Maybe it’s time for you guys to stop reply with your emotions? And maybe in the process, learn how to stop being assholes?? Is that too much to ask for a group of ‘leader’ who are seeking ‘followers’?
      Was the forum REALLY create only for A+er’s?? Or was it formed to get the word out? If it was only formed FOR those who already agree and you desire no descent, fine then. As all members to swear allegiance to you word of Atheism PLUS” and make it a private forum for only those who’ve ‘seen the light’ and don’t bother discussing anything or convincing anyone else. After all, you’d already be preaching to the converted and wouldn’t have to bother with dissent from us commoners.

      What you SHOULD be doing is if someone acts out in an “immature” manner, it’s the A+er’s job to redirect the conversation back to the topic. Redirect, ask questions of the purported “troll”. See if you can get to the bottom of their reason for disagreeing and then present your views on why you believe the person isn’t viewing the topic clearly and see if you can change minds. Once you insult (something you do all the time) you’ve lost your audience and they will double down their efforts to disagree with what an “asshole” has to say about any particular subject. Is that what you guys really want? ‘cause right now that is what you’re getting…..
      If A+er’s want better conversation, try to discuss with those “trolls” in a better way. Ask questions in a sincere way. Only then will you be taken seriously.

      And why is everyone who disagrees with you an “anti-feminist”? Personally, I’m all about equal rights for all, be that man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, trans or any combination. Is that really such a bad thing? That being said there are some men, women, blacks, whites, gays, straights and trans or combinations thereof that don’t always deserve my support. Why should I join the plus’ers?

      *I* am an Atheist! I’m proud of who I am and I am against religion and do not believe in deities THAT is all. I am also against the incessant presence of people who insist there are “gods” in this world making me also a Secularist. I am also a Humanist and support many people for many reasons. Why do I need to support A+ again? And what does “feminism” have to do with those things again? How could I possibly become a “feminist” when one day I hear a feminist opinion that I totally agree with and the next day a different “feminist” says something totally ridiculous and downright asshole-ish and oppressive of their own people? Why would I want to give myself a label of a group that not even all so called “feminists” can agree on with most topics?

    • says

      Generally when people start right out of the gate lying to me, calling me childish names, distorting the facts, and disregarding basic logic, I’m not under any obligation to treat than as anything other than someone who lies to me, calls me childish names, distorts the facts, and disregards basic logic.

      There are degrees of magnitude, and I tune my responses accordingly. But the most egregious asshats get called on their shit. That’s not Atheism+. That’s common sense and universal internet practice. It’s precisely how all atheists respond to religious nuts who pull the same shit, rather than engaging in constructive or productive criticism or argument based on a sincere interest in getting the facts right and not reasoning fallaciously.

      People here have two choices, as they have in every other sensible venue within any other movement: act like an adult, and engage in constructive or productive criticism or argument based on a sincere interest in getting the facts right and not reasoning fallaciously, or get treated like someone who doesn’t.

    • says

      You may not be under any obligation to treat anyone better than you currenlty do but taking the high road may go a long way in accomplishing your goals since it is US you would like to convince, isn’t it?

      “People here have two choices, as they have in every other sensible venue within any other movement: act like an adult, and engage in constructive or productive criticism or argument based on a sincere interest in getting the facts right and not reasoning fallaciously, or get treated like someone who doesn’t.”

      Or there’s another option you haven’t considered. How about *YOU*

      • act like an adult

      • engage in constructive or productive conversation with those with differing opinions presenting why they have it wrong and countering with your reasons (without being all “douchey” while doing it)

      • Correcting any errors you see

      And maybe explain why ones view is “fallacious” without being an asshat yourself?

      Have you considered those options?

  32. submariner says

    Richard,

    Sorry it took me a while to respond to your post. Let’s get to it, shall we?

    “Our specimen also conveniently “leaves out” the fact that the way this researcher was treated merely for wanting to research the question exhaustively and conclusively proves there is a disgusting and shocking degree of sexism in the gaming community.”

    What Richard conveniently leaves out is that the video in question was a plea for both money for a kickstarter and a plea (though unspoken) for the very trollish comments she then displays to play the victim. Previous FF videos were comments disabled. All of them since then are also comments disabled. Why do you think she allowed comments on the one video she was using to e-beg? To add fuel to the fire, she then posts a comment in that video asking people not to feed the trolls. She’s very clever there don’t you think?

    Here are some comments that your link linked to :

    “But this study has been done over and over and over and over again….stop beating a dead horse.” and

    “Why don’t you make a series that highlights the strengths of the medium in regards to women? If you want positive change then delve into whats being done right, rather than focusing on this negatively. Look at eternal darkness (which is awesome), that game has a female lead who is not hypersexualised or stereotyped – and there are loads more. Thats what i’d prefer to see.” and


    It’s called an archetype. Such are present in male characters as well. Archetypes have recurred in human forms of expression since the invention of art.”

    Such misogynistic comments. These were gamer people who had developed their own culture, rules of engagement and slang. Into this arena a self-proclaimed feminist who vlogs about decidedly 1st world “issues”, wants to review games from her decidedly prudish (to the gamers) POV. In an effort to change the games being produced. Well you can see why they might get upset.

    SURLY AMY-

    “he misrepresents what actually happened, and then fallaciously infers from these thus-fabricated non-examples that feminism deserves to be opposed, and therefore (we’re to infer) feminist women deserve to be ruthlessly digitally harassed.”

    The backstory on Amy :http://elevatorgate.wordpress.com/tam-2012-drama/

    Nice straw man Dick. I in fact do not believe feminist women deserve to be ruthlessly digitally harassed. Can I see the evidence of this “ruthless digital harassment”, please? If it’s so ruthless and actually meets the definition of harassment, I’m sure you’ll have police reports, or injunctions that means some official entity recognizes the digital harassment as such, right, Dick?

    Science denialism : Here’s a link to the Clint piece.
    http://skepticink.com/incredulous/2012/12/01/science-denialism-at-a-skeptic-conference/

    In your only defense of this article you cited Stephanie Zvan’s FTB article. Interesting choice in that it was self-contradictory. Didn’t see that part? Let me point it out to you by putting her comments near each other rather than separated by several paragraphs.

    “Have you seen Rebecca Watson’s Skepticon talk yet? You should. It’s a brief, entertaining look into some of the ways evolutionary psychologists abuse science when it comes to gender essentialism. ”

    and

    “Once again, this points to the fact that this is a speech about popular psychology. I happen to disagree about the “boring” part, but she’s dead right about the fact that evolutionary psychology in the popular media is appalling. ”

    Who’s doing the lying here Dick?
    “as if he thought I didn’t know the truth of these facts and wouldn’t point you to the links–links he was careful not to include, because he knows if you actually looked into these things he would be exposed”

    Links are there Dick, your move.

  33. GrzeTor says

    In all civilized organizations I’ve been there is a rule that you are not allowed to publicy criticize the organization or it’s products. This was a major sin that got you fired. You could though do such things internally.

    What A+ people are doing is actively, publicly denigrate atheist movement, atheist conventions, atheist men – propagating their negative propaganda to the entire world via the Internet. Thus destroying the public image of atheism, thus decreasing it popularity and destroying public opinion about it. This is unacceptable. Such people should be fired from the community immediately.

    • GrzeTor says

      My facts are right (MFAR). The rules that disallow members of institutions from publicly criticizing them are there for a reason. Such behavior may lead to grat troubles to the institutions, disproportionately higher compared to real or false problems that what’s in the public accusations. Any PR mistake can cost much more than what actually is in the contents.

      Consider current example that will soon be a solid part of the world business history – how bad was the “Elop Effect” stemming from a PR error.

      http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2011/12/calculating-the-elop-effect-hes-already-destroyed-a-company-the-size-of-oracle-and-profits-the-size-.html

      What you are doing is somehting similar to the Elop Effect. As a prominent member of the atheism movement you are claiming that it is full of evil (as you consider antifeminism, and low racial variability as evil or undesirable) and claim that such evil is prevalent among atheism. This is similar to what Elop was doing in his infamous “Burning platform memo”.

      Also notice, that Thunderfoot is not doing this. His words about atheism are positive. What he criticizes is a foreign element – a mind virus called “feminism” – that infiltrates previously healthy organism of atheism and “poisons” it with the toxins it produces. What he does is a healing process.

    • says

      Your black-and-white thinking about what I said and meant is characteristically delusional reasoning. And your agreement with Thunderf00t that feminism is a poison (and therefore banning us from conferences would be a positive healing process) pretty much says it all.

    • GrzeTor says

      My thinking is black and white? No, decisively not – if there are some shades of grey I’m always including them in my thinking. It’s just that Atheism+ is so beyond any threshold of acceptance, so I can decisively reject it, and classify it as destructive etc.
      When it comes to your way of thinking I suppose you suffer from some form of SLOGAN THINKING. You emit some catchy, good-sounding slogan and feel so happy and excited about it, feel morally superior because of this. It doesn’t matter if the slogan has well-defined meaning, is compatible with reality or compatible with your other slogans. How it souds and what your feeling are is important.
      Consider your slogan “We care about social justice!”. First of all – what does it even mean? According to an encyclopedia artice about what “social justice” means – “The phrase has taken on a very controverted and variable meaning, depending on who is using it.” So you have confused the public with your message, and you feel great about it. At least PZ Myers tried to explain what he means by “social justice”. He include the term “equality of opportunity” as a part of it. So let’s debunk that one.
      The hypothesis would be that equality of opportunity cannot exist as a permanent state, it’s unstable, and that although it’s possible as an temporary, ephemeral occurence it’s unlikely to happen now. As I’m lazy I won’t give you a full proof, just a justification via a mind experiment.
      If the hypothesis it’s true, then Atheism+ followers are just like theism followers:
      For theism folloowers their core value is god, which doesn’t exist and is not possible by the laws of physics. For A+ followers their core value is “equality of opportunity” which doesn’t exist, and is not possible by the laws of system dynamics.
      Justification:
      Consider that at a certain moment that there is an equality of opportunity. Represented by a simulation with 3 participants, each having the same opportunities at start. At first iteration participant #1 uses his opportunities fully, participant #2 uses his opportunities partially, while participant #3 gets interested in drugs and stuff and thus moves in the wrong direction. As far as the second iteration and further in the futre an equality of opportunity ceases to exist. Right there #1 simply has more opportunity than #2 and #2 has more oppurtunity than #3. It’s because at the first iteration they gained some capital, and capital is something that by it’s nature INCREASES OPPORTUNITY. Notice that a capital doesn’t have to be only financial stuff, this may be as well knowledge, know-how (eg. learning how to optimize the use of opportunities), network of partners, gaining access to some closed club that includes opportunities for it’s members etc. Things that even the communist government keen on equalizing stuff cannot take.
      At the certain point in the simulation the participants produce offspring. Whose offspring wold have better opportunities – of #1, who has everyting, #2 who has something, or #3 who is negative?
      (Notice many parents want their children to have better oppurtunities for their children that children of others have. And they actively work to achieve that. Would your “equality of oppurtunity” include preventing that somehow? Punishing them for actively violating your delusions of social justice?)
      Now let’s consider how likely is that such situation of equality of opportunity even occures from the state the world is now? I’d say considering how unequal is our wold, and how powerful entities use their power in a large part to stay powerful and prevent smaller, competitive entities from being powerful it is very unlikely. Again it doesn’t matter much as it would be temporary anyway.
      And what does equality or justiceof any kind mean in the context of humans vs. institutions comparison. If humans are equalized to certain limits concentration about average human and institutions stay infinitely scalable, and thus potentially influential, powerful, ruch – then we can only conclude that such system is unjust and unequal as humans are clearly in a worse position compared to insitutions. Right now we at least have a bunch of billionaires that as as well off or better off than large corporations. So humans at least have potential, opportunity to get there. After equalization of humans towards human average every human is going to be worse off than a large corporation. And you can’t scale down many types of institutions as minimal size of billions of dollars is required for fullfilling certain classes of missions – including anyhting high-tech. Unless you want to destroy cilvilization (not only atheism) with your social justice ideals…
      ——————–

      Going back to your Slogan Thinking. You frequently create blobs of text that associate atheist community with the deamons of “sexism, rascism, harrasment”, and advertise „feminism, diversity, social justice” as a form of excorcisms that cast out those deamons. These monsters of your making can be huge in size, screaming in emotions, full of pompous phrases, but not necessairly conveying much information, as they are opposite to S.M.A.R.T:

      SPECIFICITY – that’s simple, you are definitely too overgeneralizing and abstracting information away in your texts about A+.
      MEASURABILITY – this is severly lacking. What numbers do you words mean? Stating goals without numbers makes your statement jus tan empty, contentless text. Eg. how many molestations/harrasments/rapes per year per 10k members of the group mean “there’s a problem with …” according to you? What is the number at or below which “there’s no problem”? What does an average person think that these numbers should be? What are the present frequencies of occurences of these in atheist population? In general population? In strong believers? How do these numbers compare to each other (eg. are atheist frequencies below treshold provided by an average person as a limit at which “a problem” statrs, are they lower than for theists?).
      I’d also advice you to apply measurment to side effects, especially negative side effects of achieving each of your goals. Do a numerical measure, using reasonable units, in both absolute and relative to averages terms of side effects of the state that happens when you achieve your goals, side effect related to resources you spent chasing your goals, lost opportunities that could be made if you invested the your resources into something else. Potential lost opportunities might be eg. feminism scarrying away conservative people from becoming conservative rationalists.

      ATTAINABILITY – it looks like you are chasing impossible goals, eg. „equality of opportunity”. With too much emphasis on ideological purity even the otherwise possible goals become unlikely to be rached. Hint – the number of molestations etc. is never going to be zero, even in A+ community. With constant increase in nubers of atheists in absolute terms it’s going to grow – thus whining about single-person problems as constituting a problem in the entire community looks ridiculous.
      But this is not all – what you want to achieve is a set of goals that you want to have fulfilled together. So you have to verify that these are possible as a set. Both on a thoretical level, and on practical level.
      On a practical level – for example is A+ some kind of „nail tips plus bodybuilding” club – with the groups interested in two parts being mostly disjoint, and each part rejecting other premise of the package such club proposes? Check factors as acceptance and rejection rates for various parts of A+ among various types of people, as well as interest and disinterest rates. Is there a meaningfull group interested in the whole package, is it large enough? From fast observation it looks like A+ is wrong combination – eg. men are more into atheism, but quite against feminism, women are more into feminism but less into atheism. Same with details – when you create a conferences sterilized from sexuality via some harsh codes, don’t expect people who like more sexualized climate, like black people, to show up.
      On a theoretical level – there was a lot of it in this thread. Eg. that it is impossible to combine skepticism with either apriori or fixed rejection of a claim, including the claims of racism-as-a-hypothesis, or sexism-as-a-hypothesis. A skeptic has to investigate before rejecting, and even if first investigation debunked something be open to accept different results with new data or new research.

      REVELANCE – Eg. You chase diversity. You achieve Y amount of it using X resources. So what? Does diversity solve any important problem in the world – ecologial devastation, resource depletion, political corruption, destructive tendencies of people and corporations? Or will it just make you feel good? By the way – notice how stupid the concept of diversity is if rascism are not true. If there is nothing different but looks (skin, hair color etc.) between people of different races, then the diversity you promote is just a high variability of looks!
      Consider again the lost opportunities in the context of revelance – if you invest limited resources you have into really revelant subject like rational way of thinking, then you could actually get improvement in any of the important issues in the world!

      TIME-BOUNDING – that’s simple again. A+ people haven’t published many schedules with dates.
      ——————–

      Going back to your Slogan Thnking, again. First let me tell you that I’m not against you, an enemy of you or similar. In fact it’s the opposite – you are just making a mistake with this whole Atheism+ affair, and I’m here to help you by correcting them and thus allowing you to go back to normal. I’m worried that there is a deeper problem with your mental condition that makes you go into such incoherent mess like A+ is, and despite having a large intellectual capacity not seeing it’s obvious incoherence, incompatibility with reality etc. The specific condition I’m afraid you might suffer from is a severe dominance of left hemisphere on your brain. As a historian you have spend most of your thinking time reading lots of text in various languages, then write about it. In such conditions it’s easy for your left hemisphere to take over. Perhaps you should get some time off Atheism+ and use it to do some corrective excercises to strengthen your right hemisphere – do some painting, music composing, map-reading and orientation games, orgiami. Then after such therapy go back and look at A+ with a much better perspective.

      Revealant information:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Master_and_His_Emissary
      ,

    • says

      [The above is mostly fact challenged or incorrect. And the rest misses the entire point. So it’s just more desperate ranting from someone who doesn’t get it. I’m amazed he wastes his time with this stuff.]

  34. says

    If humanism requires liberal values, then as Nietzsche showed, the combination of atheism and skepticism doesn’t entail humanism. So if the question is why someone would have a problem with atheism + skepticism + humanism, it’s possible that the critic of Atheism+ is a rational atheist with conservative values or at least values that differ from those of a postmodern liberal. I criticize Atheism+ from a Nietzschean perspective on my blog. The article’s called “Atheism Plus and the Liberal Conceit of Hyper-rationality” and can be read here:

    http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2012/09/atheism-plus-and-liberal-conceit-of.html

    • says

      Liberalism as such is not entailed by humanism. I am, for example, a humanist and a moderate (as I explain in detail in Sense and Goodness without God, Part VII). Though by American standards that places me left of center (and thus would identify as a liberal in some contexts), I do not think liberals are right about everything or conservatives wrong about everything. Values must track what actually tends to the good of the individual via the social system those values foster, and as such values must be based on evidence and reason, not ideological platforms.

      But personal politics is not what Atheism+ is about. Libertarians can care about feminism and social justice, too; as can traditional conservatives. As I explained already in my second post on Atheism+ (which I specifically linked to in the post you are commenting on). Consider that compassion, reasonableness, and integrity (the core values I define Atheism+ by) are not distinctly “liberal” values; they used to be stalwart conservative values, and for many conservatives, still are. They should not be controversial.

      For my alternative to the entire metaethical dogma of Nietzschean analysis (which is antiquated and illogical) see Sense and Goodness without God, Part V, and The End of Christianity, chapter 14, which collectively refute the arguments you make in your post.

    • snowman says

      When Richard says he “refuted” Nietzsche, he means he put forth a flaky hodge-podge argument pasting together the silly notion that obtaining whatever desires make us happy is actually what is “moral”, filtered and abetted by discredited utilitarianism and Kantian assertions of value so we can’t desire to exclude anyone or kill others for their gold, then refuses to accept that he is not a genius.

      So, no, Richard, you didn’t “refute” Nietzsche, and I am not aware of anyone in philosophy who even thinks you put forth a decent argument.

      Benjamin, great article:

      >>liberalism is as Nietzsche and John Gray say, a vestige of theistic morality, an Enlightenment inheritance of Christian attitudes minus the theistic metaphysics that gives those attitudes the appearance of being rationally justified.

      Richard and the so-called A+ers, even most atheists, still don’t understand that our modern liberalism is Christian mythology transmogrified, that the holy notion of “dignity of the person” is still at base the old Christian “divinity of the soul”. -Or that feminism, in advocating “equality”, owes its foundational logic to the Christian mythology of equal souls (later equal personhood, equal rights…) and thus can only use skepticism to further its political ends while adamantly decrying any attempt at self-examination.

      Anyone who is first and foremost an advocate of modern liberal mythology has no rightful place within atheism.

    • says

      More bullshit.

      [Snowman’s ass really is full of a lot of shit. I mean it’s dumped all over this place. And never stops. Is there are word for “bullshit” that is closer in meaning to “diarrhea?”]

  35. says

    Thanks for your response. As I think you appreciate, the disagreement here is metaethical. We can give different accounts of why we should have certain values. So my point is not that atheists should be racist, sexist, and so on. As it happens, I think many liberal values can and should be reconstructed. My problem is with the attempt to yoke atheism to a particular sociopolitical platform, which will muddy the waters in the debate about whether God exists. Maybe if that debate were won once and for all, atheists could go on to a new challenge. But theism is still alive and kicking.

    When you say that the Nietzschean viewpoint is “illogical,” you beg the question, of course. Nietzsche was what we might call an atheistic existentialist or irrationalist. So when you say that “Values must track what actually tends to the good of the individual via the social system those values foster, and as such values must be based on evidence and reason, not ideological platforms,” you’re ruling out a Nietzschean form of atheism and presupposing rationalist epistemology and happiness as our ultimate goal. The arguments in your books may well be solid (I haven’t read them), but my point is that there’s a philosophical disagreement here between camps of atheists. Each is entitled to interpret the philosophical implications of atheism as they see fit. When one side tries to rule out the other by fiat, dismissing them as “antiquated” or as going against what “shouldn’t be controversial,” I see that as a sociopolitical move rather than a philosophical one.

    You can say, for example, that reasonableness should be a universal value, but then a Nietzschean or a conservative can come along and ask whether we should be reasonable about absolutely everything. Maybe reason is irrelevant to some areas of life, because we’re mammals after all. For example, if you’re reasonable about sex, there’s a good chance you’re having bad sex. And if you’re reasonable about ultimate questions, such as the metaphysical question of whether everything is natural, there’s a chance you’re kidding yourself. Maybe ultimate questions are best answered by good stories (myths) rather than by logical arguments or scientific experiments.

    The question of Nietzschean irrationalism isn’t antiquated, by the way. Philosophers still debate the issues of mysterianism and scientism, for example, and anyway most people are actually irrationalists via their theism (their elevation of faith above reason).

    • says

      My problem is with the attempt to yoke atheism to a particular sociopolitical platform, which will muddy the waters in the debate about whether God exists.

      It won’t, though. Those debates stay the same.

      What’s changed is that we are now a social movement, which can actually do things, things other than constantly talking about God.

      Atheists have generally never been amoral. We’ve always advocated strongly for certain moral virtues and social causes. Even causes shared across party lines–many Libertarians care as much about solving inner city crime as Democrats do, for example; they only disagree, perhaps, on how to do that, but such a disagreement is largely empirical, and we are well equipped to have rational arguments about the evidence, in precisely the way non-atheist communities tend not to be.

      I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who have said they’d be more involved in the atheist movement if we talked more about things that matter to them. And if we actually did some things, rather than only talk about them. Most atheists are bored with God debates. And even fence-sitters often see us as only caring about theology and not about important things. Which is not a boon to the image of atheism.

      I and others have made the case beyond just that in the various posts I’ve already linked to. You should read them.

      I would also take issue with the notion of a “particular sociopolitical platform.” If that is just a euphemism for “caring about social issues and wanting to have rational debates about how we would solve them (if we got to choose),” then you understand what we’re on about. But if that phrase is a stand-in for “Democratic party platform,” it’s a complete miss. That’s not what we’re on about. As, again, I’ve explained in my prior posts on this subject.

      When you say that the Nietzschean viewpoint is “illogical,” you beg the question, of course.

      Referencing the work that refutes it, in a statement that says I’ve refuted it, is not begging the question. Just FYI.

      I do not “presuppose.” I demonstrate. I’ve written quite a lot in aid of that demonstration over the years.

      Each is entitled to interpret the philosophical implications of atheism as they see fit. When one side tries to rule out the other by fiat, dismissing them as “antiquated” or as going against what “shouldn’t be controversial,” I see that as a sociopolitical move rather than a philosophical one.

      This is talking like a woo-woo religious person. “Everyone’s beliefs are equally valid so don’t criticize or ever say anyone is wrong, just live together in peace, man!” Sorry, no. Atheists of all people should know that that doesn’t hold true. Or else they wouldn’t be atheists (much less actively organized atheists).

      Unless, of course, all you meant was that “ruling [x] out by fiat” is bad, but making well-evidenced, logically valid arguments against [x] is okay, then I agree with you, but it isn’t at all what I am doing here. I believe in making well-evidenced, logically valid arguments against [x], even when [x] is a belief held by atheists, and I do so often and at length.

      For example, if you’re reasonable about sex, there’s a good chance you’re having bad sex. And if you’re reasonable about ultimate questions, such as the metaphysical question of whether everything is natural, there’s a chance you’re kidding yourself.

      You must not understand what the word “reasonable” means. You are committing a fallacy called “the straw vulcan.” See Julia Galef’s speech on that subject (The Straw Vulcan). There is also a good article on it at TV Tropes. I define “reasonable” in the blog post where I argue it should be a fundamental value. So it would seem you have not read even that.

      Hence the notion that “if you’re reasonable about sex, there’s a good chance you’re having bad sex” can only come from someone who doesn’t know what “reasonable” means. Unless you think having ill-considered, inconsiderate, or unsafe sex is the only way to avoid bad sex. As for example. Likewise, the only way to answer “ultimate questions” is reasonably. Unreasonable answers are by definition irrational, i.e. fallacious. And by definition it cannot be known whether a fallaciously-reached answer is true, which is the same as not having answered the question at all. Thus, you cannot, even in principle, “answer” any questions (ultimate or otherwise) except reasonably.

      And as for the example you adduce (of asking whether everything is natural), I have answered that question, in precisely the way it has to be: first by defining what we mean by “natural,” then by defining what we mean by knowing something (e.g. once we accept all knowledge is a provisional and probabilistic knowledge and thus never absolutely certain or unrevisable, then we can stop distracting ourselves with talk of all the improbable possibilities of being wrong), then by exploring what the evidence presently available to us leads us to conclude is most probably the case at this point in time.

      This is what atheists should be doing. We should all agree that fallaciously reached conclusions are to be rejected, and that the available evidence decides what’s most likely true (so we’d better find out what the pertinent evidence really is). When we do that, and take it seriously (i.e. actually walk the walk, and not just talk the talk), we will come to an agreement on many more things than you seem to think; and even where disagreements remain, they will not be as stalwart or inflexible or confusing of idiosyncratic preferences or ideas with certainty or universal truth (which is just another way to be in agreement).

      That’s a good thing. And it ought to be desired, and pursued, by us all.

    • says

      Thanks again for your response. You’re very generous with your time.

      I agree with you on several points. Atheists should get together to change their societies in a way that benefits atheists and furthers our values. In the US, for example, that means making it politically correct for atheists to hold public office, and making Creationism and other crazy religious ideas socially embarrassing. It means changing the culture, and atheists should come out of the closet and engage with their society, as dictated in part by their atheism. Moreover, I too am bored with the debate about whether God exists. On my blog I talk about politics, sex, and other cultural issues besides religion. So I have no problem with Atheism Plus as a social expression of atheism.

      My problem is with the expectation that atheists will tend to be (effectively or explicitly) liberals because atheists are rationalists and rationalism implies liberalism. Not only is liberalism not the most rational set of values, but atheists need not be rationalists. Nietzsche is an example of a nonrational atheist. Sartre is another. I’m another, much less significant example. You can say that existentialism has been refuted and of course that would depend on the arguments. Likewise, I can say that science-centered atheism (positivism, scientism) has been refuted decades ago and again that would depend on the arguments that could be brought to bear. That is, we’d have to look past the historical issue of whether a fad has been merely socially exhausted (but not refuted).

      You say there’s no such expectation and that I’ve “missed” the mark here. But this issue may be merely semantic. You say Atheism Plus is committed to feminism, social justice, and the value of compassion. Those look to me more like liberal than currently conservative ideas and values. Conservatives will want to hold onto traditions which tend to be sexist. Moreover, libertarians will value selfishness more than compassion. I’d say just that if Atheism Plus is committed to a liberal social agenda, those atheists should be upfront about their liberalism and they shouldn’t claim to speak for all atheists. If Atheism Plus is committed just to rationalism, like you also say, then that casts a wider net but there will still be atheists who fall outside of it. Again, though, I have no problem with Atheism Plus as a liberal or rationalist social expression of atheism, although I’ll disagree with some of its assumptions.

      For the record, I’m not a social conservative. On my blog I harshly criticize both liberalism and conservatism. Also, I’ve had a look at the chapters in your books that support your naturalistic ethics. Your view is very similar to Sam Harris’s, although I see that your book came out years before his Moral Landscape. Anyway, I believe I refute his scientific morality here:

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2012/03/sam-harris-science-of-morality-case.html

      And here I take issue with the idea that happiness should be our ultimate goal:

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2011/08/happiness-is-unbecoming.html

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2011/12/curse-of-reason.html

      I agree that the hypothetical imperatives of instrumental morality would amount to scientific questions of fact, and to that extent the normative would be reduced to the factual. But I deny that you’ve settled the normative question of what our goals should be. Whether happiness is the ultimate goal of morality depends on how “happiness” is defined. Aristotle kept his definition vague and socially relative so that happiness could be all things to all people. I think your definition of “happiness” is telling since you slip in references to the worth and meaning of life. You say that an unhappy life becomes “shallow, unsatisfying, and ultimately meaningless.” Thus, your definition implies that existentially absurd pleasure, no matter how reliable or persistent, isn’t sufficient for happiness.

      But the ordinary definition has no such existential clause, which is why it makes sense to say that theists tend to be happier than atheists even though theistic contentment is as absurd as the contentment you’d experience in Nozick’s Happiness Machine (or in the Matrix). Theistic beliefs are fantasies, but they make theists happy in the ordinary sense of that word, because their fantasy world isn’t as much a source of angst as is the real, impersonal world of nature. I agree with the existentialists that the ethical course is to suffer from the knowledge that the real world is the inhuman one that reason discovers and proves. This is why it’s absurd for rationalists to proclaim that reason (logic and evidence) can satisfy our moral interests by making us happy. On the contrary, reason makes people anxious by mocking our fantasies, undermining our delusions and showing us the real world, the one that’s quite loathsome to most people. That’s why most people prefer fantasy worlds in the first place.

      As to sex and reasonableness, I’ve heard of the Straw Vulcan line of argument before. But I put the question to you: Can you show that the value of reasonableness precludes the irrational aspect of theistic religion even as that value permits the irrational aspect of sex? (Note that both religion and sex involve practices as well as beliefs and propositions.) I understand that sex isn’t entirely irrational. For example, if you want to have sexual pleasure, you should focus on certain parts of the body and if you want to have a baby, you’ve got to ensure that conception takes place. But this leaves aside the psychological component of reasonableness. When you’re having sex, you shouldn’t be in a reasonable frame of mind; you shouldn’t be thinking of arguments or evidence. Instead, you should be living in the moment or entertaining fantasies or naughty ideas you’d be ashamed to discuss in public. Likewise, it may be wrongheaded to think that ultimate philosophical questions call for the virtue just of reasonableness. I think we have an aesthetic obligation to be creative in our response to those questions and I condemn theism for now being clichéd. I also think theism is highly irrational and I argue this on my blog (see the link below). But I’m not so interested in that irrationality, because I agree with Kierkegaard and James that the arguments we hurl back and forth in the debate between theists and atheists are more like rationalizations of heartfelt convictions.

      I think philosophical beliefs are akin to myths we tell to make our worldviews coherent so that we can pursue our goals according to our knowledge of the facts but also to our values, character (virtues and vices), and aesthetic taste. Contrary to postmodernists, though, I think some myths are better than others. People have turned to theism and have kept on being theists even after reason clearly compels us to be atheists, because theism makes for a more or less coherent worldview that’s conducive to the (existentially inauthentic) goal of being happy. I criticize New Atheism for featuring a dubious political strategy of pretending that people can be just as happy with atheism and naturalism as with a theistic religion. I think that strategy’s doomed to fail. To the extent that atheists are happy, it’s because we have a substitute religion or nonrational philosophy, such as scientism, positivism, or liberal secular humanism (see the link below). Those philosophies are self-refuting and the best, most coherent atheistic philosophy begins with existentialism and with something like Lovecraft’s cosmicism. That’s where logic and empirical evidence take us after they refute theism and the scientistic elimination of philosophy alike. A coherent atheistic philosophy will have an honoured place not for the delusions that make happiness (in the ordinary sense) possible, but for the heroic response to the horrors of nature which reason curses us to know.

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2011/08/theism-does-its-irrationality-matter.html

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.ca/2011/09/scientism-modern-pagan-religion.html

    • says

      “I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who have said they’d be more involved in the atheist movement if we talked more about things that matter to them”

      That’s funny because, similar to you, I can’t count the number of people I’VE met who’ve said they’d be more involved in the atheist movement if we only talked more about things that matter to them ALSO. The only difference is because NOBODY has ever said to me that the reason for their lack of involvement in the atheist community was because we atheists are not taking on other issue unrelated to atheism. WE talk about atheism, if I feel like talking about something else (or doing something for the community) I go to a Humanist meeting. Who do you hang around with?!?

      When I meet up with my atheist groups, we sometimes don’t even talk about atheism. We talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When we do talk about other things, sure we talk about the things we can do to not only help the atheist community we do talk about what we can do for the general public also. And heck, sometimes we even do something. Imagine that.

      “And if we actually did some things, rather than only talk about them” and “Most atheists are bored with God debates”

      So says you. I’ve not experienced what you are saying????????

      And even fence-sitters often see us as only caring about theology and not about important things. Which is not a boon to the image of atheism”

      Yeah, because a group whose connection being their atheism is also the boon of atheism…..
      Did I get that right?

  36. GrzeTor says

    I find it those who support special interest groups immoral. For example Richard writes about Atheism+ that it is about “We care about women’s rights” as a core value, but at no place men’s rights are mentioned as a “core value”. On other A+ related blogs it can be observed that those who actually care for men’s rights as a core value are treated with disrespect. Thus A+ is a special-interest movement, and as such it’s immoral and has to be rejected.

    If you want to have moral values they have to be universal. And beyond humanistic, that is include caring for nature and civilization.

  37. Steven C Watson says

    Signed. I read the front page for the petition, I can subscribe to that. Following the links to the various bits of the argument, different people’s takes and the dialogues and shouting matches generated however, I see battle lines being drawn, the opposing coalitions racing for the sea, entrenching themselves and putting up barbed wire. ‘Them and Us’ might be human behaviour, but it is not rational behaviour.

    I looked at the thread Atheism+ : The Name for What’s Happening, In 14.1 there are half a dozen links where only two are needed. I was reminded of Crossan and his multiple attestations. Ironic.

    Rebecca Watson was daft about the elevator incident and her ten minutes on evolutionary psyschology is as mistaken as those who actually work in the field have pointed out, but she does not deserve harrasment or crude name calling. The NPC thing I couldn’t work out. Is this going to be peer reveiwed research or is it just a vanity project by someone with a bee in their bonnet?

    We do not need more cliques. ‘Christians’ did and do spend a good deal of of their time spatting amongst themselves, often lethally. Why? Not becuase of their differences, but because of their similarities. Please, can we just recognize we are all fallible humans, that all of us will misspeak sometime or other and that in contributing to a thread we must use a shorthand and telescope our arguments because of restraints of time and space? I nfighting amonst ourselves we do the oppositions work for them.

  38. says

    How concerned is A++ about the kind of sectarianism that topples movements? I mean, when the non-feminists have left, then what? We split again over vegetarianism? Then we split again on political lines. And so on and so on… until we’re down to one f’n person who is so A++++++ that they demand we talk about veganism in biology class.

    South Park could not have been more right in the episode “Go God Go.” I used think that was a slippery slope, but it’s not; it’s happening now.

    The irony is that the impetus for all this seems to be the desire to find like-minded people, and yet as soon as we do, we try to find where we disagree, then ship ourselves off in different directions to our new group of like-minded people, ad infinitem. There’s something antithetical about that model. It makes me feel… lonely. It certainly works *in an academic framework*, because we are more emotionally detatched (well, some of us are), but in social groups, it has a different effect. It injects a pedantic academic intolerence into social situations where we would be much more inclusive.

    Atheists have never been denied the right to defend naturalistic ethics, but they have never imposed it upon the whole either. The absolute WORST thing A++ could do right now is supress, belittle, or hand-wave away these kinds of objections.

    • says

      Slippery slope fallacy. Already addressed in my articles on Atheism+ and the related links in them…like this, which was even linked in the article you are commenting on, in response to the argument you just made, suggesting that you didn’t actually read this article but have just come here to troll it.

      It’s a question of judgment, not semantic exclusion. Even Stalin, were he among us, would be acknowledged an atheist…at the very same time he was condemned and disowned by those atheists who say they are no mere atheist, to be included with the likes Stalin, but members of a subset of atheists, such as Atheism+, which repudiates and excludes scoundrels like him.

      We do not assume Atheism+ is the only such subset (as I have explained in detail). But it is one such. And that is it’s function: to communicate that we are not just atheists, but we are atheists plus a very basic set of morals (which, notably, those against Atheiusm+ never actually argue against…evidently unwilling to actually confront what Atheism+ means, but instead harping on the name and whatever fictions they have created in their heads about it).

  39. says

    I was happy to sign the petition and have urged my friends to sign it too.

    However, the divisions in this thread sadden me.

    Wouldn’t it be better if Athiesm+ declared “gender equity” as a core value rather than feminism?

    Also I am concerned that although I am strongly in favour of protecting the environment, having strong and enforced anti-pollution laws, and preserving and expanding national parks and wilderness areas; I do not believe in the theory of CAGW.

    Would this exclude me from acceptance into the Athiesm+ community?

    • says

      AGW:

      Denying AGW would exclude you from most of the organized skeptical community, which considers AGW-denial a form of pseudoscientific conspiracy mongering akin to creation science.

      Otherwise, what you mean by CAGW (i.e. what “catastrophic” means) is unclear. If I take it as apocalypticism, then your doubt of it is not only acceptable, but mainstream. Beyond that, I can’t say, because I don’t know what you mean.

      But let’s assume you are denying AGW altogether.

      Atheism+ is (or should be) committed to logically valid evidence-based reasoning (reasonableness being one of the fundamental values I proffered it should stand by), so insofar as you are dropping that ball, you aren’t holding up to the value of reasonableness. But if at least you continue to express a sincere belief that you should hold yourself to that value, and behave reasonably and compassionately when debating your position on the fact-question of AGW (regardless of your conclusion on it), then you are in accord with the values and goals of Atheism+ and thus quite welcome.

      Likewise any other issue. What is required in Atheism+ is simply a sincere and open commitment to the three virtues of reasonableness, integrity (i.e. honesty), and compassion (i.e. caring about people other than just yourself), and a corresponding belief that social injustice matters and that atheists should be offering and discussing their perspective on how to solve it (in all its forms, including gender-based injustice against men). Plenty of debates are possible within that broad umbrella. As I have explained in all my articles about Atheism+, especially here and here.

      Feminism:

      There is simply no reason to “replace” feminism with “gender equity,” since they are not mutually exclusive, and it’s women who presently are getting it worse (I am not being digitally harassed even a fraction as ruthlessly as the women in our movement are, for example; and scientific studies show biases against women nationwide, and worldwide, are more pervasive), so it’s important to openly declare ourselves feminists, and to be a voice of moderation in that pursuit (thus countering the voice of radicals), so that our support of women is more visible.

      I think the same should happen in the men’s rights movement: the radicals in that movement need to be denounced and disowned by its moderates, just as moderate feminists do to their radicals, and moderates in MRA should become more outspoken in reclaiming their rubric for their legitimate goals against not feminists, but against the anti-feminists, since moderate MRA is entirely compatible with moderate feminism, as much as both are compatible with gays rights advocacy, and racial equality advocacy, whereas attempts to deny or disparage the label “feminism” is too often used as “cover” for sexism and misogyny under the MRA rubric, which is as much a problem for MRA as radfem is for feminism.

      Understand the real social dynamics here, and how trying to take words away from a social movement is an attempt to disarm that movement, and you’ll understand what I am talking about here. Attempts to say “we shouldn’t call ourselves feminists” are akin to attempts to say “we shouldn’t call ourselves atheists” (because reasons), they are attempts to make it harder for social activists to recognize each other and promote solidarity and coordinate action.

      The New Atheist movement has been an effort to crush that tactic (the defaming of the name “atheism” as somehow indicating all the extreme radical straw men Christian haters imagined and claimed atheists were). Third wave feminism is the same for feminism. Only they aren’t faring so well. The liars and the defamers still hold more influence in making people think feminism indicates all the extreme radical straw women that the haters imagined and claimed feminists are, using all the same tactics the Christians used. It’s an attempt to shut feminists up, making it harder for them to identify each other, and hindering them from networking and building community and morale and coordinate action, by trying to take their name away from them.

      If the MRA movement wants the same respectability, it has to do the same thing: fight against the straw-man versions of MRA (the radicals in the movement, who write sexist and misogynistic shit, or engage in straw man attacks against feminism–instead of joining, as feminists, the balanced and reasonable intra-feminist debate and critique that already occurs) and reclaim its name for moderate policies to fight documentable injustice, so it can fight hand-in-hand with feminists, just like gay rights activists do.

      Instead, imagine if all gay rights activists did nothing but disparage and attack feminists and feminism (using the specious rationalization that calling oneself a “feminist” entails concern for women and not gays–a claim neither logical nor true), and said nothing against the sexists and misogynists in their ranks, not even criticizing their errors or fallacies or behaviors. There would then be no possibility for feminist groups and gay rights groups to work together. That would simply be foolish.

      No, the sensible thing to do would be to build alliances of mutual respect, which means denouncing and criticizing MRAs who disparage and attack feminists and feminism, and actively speaking out against the sexists and misogynists in their ranks, continually criticizing their errors or fallacies or behaviors. Then the MRA movement and the feminist movement could be allies, just as the feminist movement and the gay rights movement now are.

    • says

      Just for clarification.

      My understanding is that CAGW is the idea that Anthropogenic Global Warming will lead to catastrophic global consequences, e.g. 10+m sea level rises in the next few decades, a massive increase in the number, intensity and destructiveness of storms and other unusual weather events, the mass extinction of species, the geographic range of contagious diseases expanding rapidly, massive world wide crop failures, more crabgrass in every lawn, etc. etc.

      AGW implies that the man-made increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is the principal driver of recent observable global warming trends.

      GW is not contentious as far as I know, and just means global warming. Though an increasing number of people now contend that the warming trend ended in 1998, it is still too soon to say that the multi-decade warming trend has ended.

    • says

      10+m sea level rises in the next few decades

      Holy shitballs. Are you lost in a fog of crazy? Please tell me where, anywhere, any actual legitimate climate scientist has said any such thing as that. (You do realize 10m = 33 feet…in 30 years!!??).

      Actual projections are that sea level will rise not even a single meter in the next 90 years (with a maximum upper bound of a whole two meters at best, and that’s the extreme upper end of margin of error). Yet that small rise will be devastating (or extremely expensive) to a lot of people. Perhaps you are confusing the two? (The effect of modest sea level rises, with ridiculous Michael Bay scale sea level rises.) Ditto everything else you list.

      You are again also confusing the reality of GW (that it exists and how bad it will be) with AGW (that human industry is the primary cause of it). Crazy talk about the former (like “we’ll see sea level rise over 30ft. in 30 years!”) cannot even in principle argue against the latter.

  40. andrewviceroy says

    There’s no question that the impetus for A+ is feminism simpliciter by these posts. So called “strawfeminism” would not account for the ubiquitous feminists I’ve met who cherish ‘a woman’s unique nurturing nature’ as a reason to support feminism superior. This is not necessarily true in nature though, as evidenced by the black widow or the praying mantis.

    Most of A+ already exists; as you wrote, it’s called humanism. A+ intentionally or unintentionally overwrites the equality in humanist manifestos by rebranding them with a more sexually polemical model- the kind of semantic tinkering that only belongs in temporary contexts, not as umbrella ideology. THAT is the problem. It’s short-sighted and therefore, ethically remiss as an umbrella philosophy. Not the kind of thing that would work in Paul Kurtz’s “planetary ethics” model when polemicized *in an umbrella charter philosophy*.

    I submit that the phrase “Atheists plus we support women’s rights” is improved either by it’s absence or by the phrase, “Atheists plus we support gender equality.” That’s it. This change shouldn’t be controversial. The arguments Richard makes actaully ARE about the need for a gender-compensating philosophy. It therefore *cannot* simultaneously be for ‘gender equality’ unless it is *necessarily* a temporary fix or it sees no hope of ever changing or even potentially going the other way to misandry. For this reason, it should not then be an umbrella philosophy for the long term standards of a movement that hopes to endure for decades through who-knows-what kind of social changes.

    I guarantee you that future generations would see this as remiss in the acknowledgment of male victimization as equally worthy of consideration. I can see no other tenable rationalization for the absence of framing male victimization as equally heinous than the presumption that because males perpetrate more violence, a male victim *therefore deserves it more* than a female victim OR that a male victim should (or COULD BETTER) buck up and take the punch for the movement (like a priest might expect of an alterboy). I don’t think most reasonable A+ advocates really contend this, at least consciously, and I have no interest of propping up strawmen, only preventing a bad idea from being institutionalized. But I can’t think of any better explanation for it. It really does seem like a form of punishment to the male demographic, and this inevitably hits victims of abuse and misandry there, who are then compelled to seek shelter in a group like NCfM. Let’s make a goal not to frame rights in terms of these or any cultural or biological demographics, at least in an umbrella charter philosophy.

    I’ve written what I think is a fair and reasonable formal draft of a petition on a neutral freethoughtblogs site that I respect to keep this in check for any present or future A+ charter activity. It addresses your main concerns in your posts about feminism and A+, as well as my concerns and arguments against institutionalizing sexual polemics *as an umbrella philosophy* for the atheist movement: http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2012/11/04/rd-extra-remembering-paul-kurtz-1925-2012/ I’ve asked the Doubtcasters to comment on it (as they have been neutral about all this so far) and hope that they will.

    Cheers

    • says

      There’s no question that the impetus for A+ is feminism simpliciter by these posts.

      Sigh.

      So this is what happens.

      I write a post advocating Atheism+’s generic goals of social justice in many forms and the values of reasonableness, integrity, and compassion.

      My post is then swarmed with comments by sexists and misogynists attacking feminism.

      I then respond to them (what else am I supposed to do?).

      At the same time, the digital harassment of women in our movement is ramped up.

      A petition is called for denouncing that.

      I write an article about that petition, as an example of one of the things Atheism+ is doing.

      You then come along and conclude that Atheism+ is really just all about feminism.

      Now, I ask you. At what point in that timeline did you miss what actually happened?

      The haters are the ones making it all about feminism and not fucking letting up on it. Thus they are the ones sandbagging us and making it harder to talk about the many other issues we want to talk about. They are the ones making it all about feminism. We are not. We would rather make it about all kinds of things.

      Once we correct your skewed perception of history, we get to the substance of your query here…

      There is simply nothing controversial about asking Atheism+ to endorse all gender equity. We already do. But that doesn’t take away the utility of all the other things we do.

      Thus, for example, this petition is about the way women are being treated, not men. It is therefore a feminist issue.

      To come in here and say we should not say that, but instead call it generic “gender equity” advocacy, is to miss completely the entire point of the post, the petition, and the word “feminism.”

      In no way does writing about feminism exclude advocacy of other forms of gender equity, any more than writing about feminism excludes advocacy for gay rights or the rights of the poor or of minorities. This is simply not a post about those things.

  41. andrewviceroy says

    “Sigh. Yes, I have mentioned men’s rights. Several times in my posts and comments. That you think I haven’t is just more delusionality.”

    It’s not about you mentioning men’s rights in posts and comments. It’s about semantically integrating them into the labels and phrases addressing gender issues in any present or future A+ charter.

    • says

      In my second (expanded) “charter” I declare:

      Mainstream feminism repudiates female supremacism or misandry…Feminism sine qua non is simply the belief that “women should be treated as fairly as men” and that people should be treated as the individuals that they are…and that unwarranted assumptions should not be made about them based on gender stereotypes… Which is entirely compatible with also fighting against stereotypes, discrimination, and bigotry against men, wherever we find that, too.

  42. andrewviceroy says

    Thank you for your thoughtful replies Richard. I hope I can shed some more light on the problems that still exist.

    “if someone attacked atheism with extensive impassioned arguments against Marxism, you would agree they were missing the mark and not really criticism atheism”

    I think you misunderstand my concern. I am not advocating undermining feminism in the context of battling misogyny. I am advocating replacing it as an imbalanced gender label in an ethical charter for a movement meant to be inclusive of ALL victims of social injustice. It is inconsistent to let “we believe in social justice” cover the context of men’s rights and then isolate women’s rights as being special, even if you have your revised charter. Consider that the need you felt to do that alone shows that you already know that there is a perception issue that will affect the ability of a person who is very specific about their ideals to have to align with an overall ethical principal that can be improved semantically. In the age of extremists, charters that are not designed to thwart that are a real practical consideration for people shopping in the marketplace of ideas (as Taner Edis once called it).

    Why pick one ethical battle and ignore another at the macro-level, when it is unnecessary to do so? It appears to ride on a bias against male victims, justified by a natural implicit association with group culpability. The existence of this kind of bias makes perfect sense, considering the social science, but male perpetrator does not justify male victim. You have written in the revised charter that you agree with this, but you need to take one more step and NEUTRALIZE the charter. I mean, answer me this: why don’t you have “we believe in the rights of Native Americans” or “we believe in the rights of African Americans”? Because they are included under “social justice”? Surely you can’t say that women have suffered worse than these groups enough not to be isolated out in a charter? This is why it smells funny.

    If you truly believe that you are using the term ‘feminism’ not in order to highlight the ‘nurturing nature of women,’ but rather, their unfortunate plight at the hand of violent men, then you are championing the woman as victim. That’s fine when it’s true, but if we’re championing victims because they are victims, then gender should be irrelevant anyway. Basic ethical philosophy. You have nothing to lose.

    “[GWW] For example this and this and this and this…”

    First of all, rants against both men and women are common ways that both male and female victims purge the violation. We could go down to rape meetings and film women and put them on YouTube and that would be very unfair too. The Internet provides all the ugliest in us now in a way that we wouldn’t have seen as much before it existed, and it’s there forever. This is a major concern in the ethics of communication.

    Second, the unifying argument from these seem to have nothing to do with what you imply. It does not *advocate violence* or male machismo or any other kind of harmful or distasteful attribute associated with males (of course, positive stereotypical “male” attributes are commonly and RIGHTLY recognized in women, but negative “male” ones are not! This is where Caroline Heldman’s TED talk got good mileage with me: she did identify women perpetuating stereotypes).

    It seems to me that GWW looks at male tendencies and considers (admittedly controversial) ways to curb those negative tendencies analogous to a controlled burn forest-fire preventing a bigger fire. It’s the same catharsis argument that BS&M people have been using forever. A science of reducing malevolence or machismo or whatever is distasteful, coupled w/ an adult’s option to do so, is NOT an advocation of the violence itself or firemen would be called arsonists. I admit that the science on catharsis is wishy washy (anger yes, revenge no), but these arguments should not be misrepresented. It’s a complex issue, because habitualization should not be ignored either. No one should think, most importantly, that any person who commits any violence should not receive punishment (as a deterrent). This is where the fire analogy breaks down, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t partially relevant. But I don’t have to agree with GWW to make my case here (and I wouldn’t anyway, because I haven’t seen the science or thought long and hard about that), because it irrelevant to my argument for ‘gender equality’ in the A+ charter in every way except that she bases her thinking on finding a novel way to redirect our predisposition. I want to do the same: avoid perception issues when we have the chance to do so with no perceivable loss, rather than perpetuating tactless conservative etymological standards and religious style blaming and shaming.

    “There is simply nothing controversial about asking Atheism+ to endorse all gender equity. We already do. But that doesn’t take away the utility of all the other things we do. Thus, for example, this petition is about the way women are being treated, not men. It is therefore a feminist issue.”

    Thank you. I don’t mean to criticize that petition! That’s great, but I’m not talking about the *particulars* of social justice work or their utility *inside* the movement. I’m talking about the semantic framing of an *umbrella identity* that doesn’t have a jarring and salient inconsistency. An ethical charter is not merely a to do list. As a former Taoist, you know that a “cart is more than the sum of its parts”:

    “We are for universal transportation! We are for wheels! We are for axles! We are for pink carts!”

    “YES! YES! YES!… WHAT?… I have all brown carts… too bad… because I LOVE UNPAINTED CARTS! What about people with brown carts?”

    “Being for pink carts is the same thing as being pro- cart in general…”

    “Well why does it have to say ‘pink’ then?”

    “Pink carts have always meant ‘carts in general’ and there are people who hate pink carts and vandalize them…”

    “Oh yeah, I know what you mean. They destroyed my brown carts too- and my neighbors, although one of my carts was vandalized by a pink-cart owner! I don’t why- maybe she was mad at some other brown cart owner. But did you know that while brown cart owners vandalize pink carts much more than pink cart owners vandalize carts of any color, more brown carts actually get vandalized than pink carts?”

    “Well… since the people who own brown carts are the ones usually doing the crime, that’s why we can’t be “pro-brown cart.” It sends the wrong message.”

    “You mean, you can’t just have ‘pro-cart’ or ‘anti-cart vandalism’ as the group’s motto, which still highlights the issue of ‘cart damage,’ and then work internally against those specific criminals over both pink and brown carts?”

    “Sorry, we feel for your loss, and said as much when we said, “we are for universal transportation,” but this way is the more effective way to defend pink cart owners. Being “pro-brown cart” sends a confusing message.”

    “Okay, well, it’s kind of strange that you won’t explicitly say that you’re for all carts from the getgo, rather than just pink carts, but I do hope that you reduce pink-cart vandalism, at least. Guess I’ll look for some other group who cares as much about our brown carts as pink carts to explicitly say so…”

    • says

      Your concerns are all unfounded. Declaring and defending feminism no more asserts women are helpless victims than advocating explicitly for men’s rights asserts men are helpless victims. Or ditto the rights of atheists, gays, blacks, etc. And, finally, I have asserted my support for all.

    • says

      “Your concerns are all unfounded. Declaring and defending feminism no more asserts women are helpless victims than advocating explicitly for men’s rights asserts men are helpless victims. Or ditto the rights of atheists, gays, blacks, etc. And, finally, I have asserted my support for all.” -Richard

      This is what I’m talking about. You went into defense mode when I am suggesting unification to get more work done with more people on board under a bigger umbrella. I don’t know how else to say it any more clearly. I KNOW you want to include men’s rights and have written as much. I’m talking about improving the language. You CAN improve the language and I’m baffled as to why you won’t. You don’t seem to care how the movement is perceived superficially (which never really is superficial and that’s the point), but I do, because even if I don’t take part in it, I’M going to have to defend it for the rest of my life if it is successful. I can’t defend the failings of the secular humanists in the French Revolution, but I’m here for this.

      If men are getting more violence upon them than women, why in the world is “women’s rights” the hood ornament, while “men’s rights” are in a box in the trunk? It’s illogical. I’m not saying put MRA first, I’m saying there’s no need to exacerbate a gender war when everyone is suffering violence. It’s so clear to me that for years to come people are going to complain about this. That’s really cynical to think it’s about going back to ‘the good ol’ days’ of suppression and sexism or other ad hom. I could say that you and other feminists won’t *explicitly* go neutral because somewhere deep down you blame men to the point where male victims are part of your punishment (a la the negative effects of oxytocin to make women more retributive [maybe because they empathize too much with the victim]). But I’m telling point blank that I want to see a gender egalitarianism hood ornament. You actually think that this will allow more misogyny. So you DO think that the charter needs to favor women?

      “There is nothing polemical about the word “feminism” any more than in the word “secularism.””- Richard

      There certainly is. You don’t think that using the word “neutrality” instead of “secularity” gets more mileage with theists? I disagree. Also, sexual issues and more abstract philosophical terms are a whole different physiological experience invoking different parts of the brain. Not analogous.

      “I would welcome a passionate blog discussing men’s rights that didn’t denigrate feminism and women but uplifted them and worked with them as much as they’d be keen to reciprocate if they and their issues were being treated with equal respect. And if it had well-documented, un-hyped facts to talk about, and took such factual accuracy seriously (just as irrational fact-challenged feminism is annoying, so is irrational fact-challenged atheism, or anything else, including men’s rights advocacy). Such a thing, pursued with honesty, empathy, and reasonableness, and an open acceptance and endorsement of other social justice movements (including feminism), would exactly fit within the umbrella of Atheism+ and be more than welcome there.”- Richard

      I LIKE the sound of that!!!! THAT’S what I’m talking about! I don’t think though, that “gender egalitarian” or “GEM” “gender equality/egalitarian movement” would be weakening the medicine. What it takes is men and women with the guts to stick up for each other’s issues without collateral blaming. You and I know that there are a ton of axes to grind on all sides and many people just can’t neutralize. It’s the curse of the moderate that they are the most hated. I wouldn’t change a thing with the women’s rights work in A+ except to treat male victimhood on the same level in the context of gender issues. Sounds great.

      “If you know of any such blogs or websites, let me know. But so far that isn’t what I am seeing.” -Richard

      I agree that such blogs are not to be found. I was hopeful about a girl on youtube who goes by “Gender Equality Grenade” and I watch some videos and they were okay, but they got too hyperbolic and polemical and I told her as much; that she wasn’t representing well and that she should both provide empirical evidence and avoid ad hominem, frequently referring to the genuine issues of misogyny too. That’s why this is an opportunity. I see value in A+, in this sense, that it could provide a structure- halfway house to pull these kinds of people into a more reasonable position, while allowing them to ‘save face’ (which is one way psychology shows we can curb reactance). I just want people to keep the goals they claim to have in mind, not because they don’t seem to me to be genuine (I can’t know that though), but because they get too easily worked up and reactionary. It’s true that there are strawfeminist arguments and it’s also true that at times, the strawfem is a genuine No True Scots (sometimes true, sometime fallacious, like the slippery slope). This is why I don’t want to cloud the issue with the logical fallacy game. There’s a place for that- don’t get me wrong, but this is about *strategy* for the best way to get the most people together to do the most work. I already regret some of the irrelevant comments I made to some other end.

      “To say “Oh, you shouldn’t be renouncing and denouncing Nazi atheists, because then it won’t end, you’ll just split again and again, etc., so you had better cozy up to and accommodate Nazi atheists!””- Richard

      That’s a good point, but I’m not talking about cozying up to Nazi’s, I’m talking about people, just like you, who say that what they really want is gender equality, but the OTHER side won’t recognize their grievance as significant. No one is saying to take in the misogynists, because they don’t fall under the banner of ‘gender equality’ anyway.

      I actually agree about internal debate and mutual criticism, but again, that is not the fine point I’m talking about. I mean to say that there will be a more HEALTHY debate within, with a more explicitly neutral charter, because we can focus on resolving the issues, rather than blaming and talking past each other. That’s it. R Watson was very uncomfortable in an elevator, because a guy was drunk and insensitive and lacking in a particular kind of self-awareness. She has a tenable grievance. The guy in the elevator- I don’t know him, but I suspect that, like me and many men who dread being socially expected to initiate affections, probably is butt hurt beyond what many have had to endure, being eviscerated for years now. That action (courting a woman) is what many men look back upon as their most cherished memories (when it works and they fall in love anyway). When it fails. It really hurts. Let’s acknowledge hurt emotions- knee jerk reactions, some unethical… and move on to bigger fish, such as promoting gender equality in A+ as well as in the countries that are even worse than us at it.

    • says

      The man in the elevator has never been eviscerated. Much less for years now. He has received no ill treatment at all, apart from becoming an example of not thinking something through that mildly worried one woman one time. Compare that with the vast torrent of outrageous sexual and personal harassment Watson received for saying merely that, and you really have no case for anything here.

      Our “charter” is already broad and encompassing and explicit. Hiding the word “feminism” serves no more purpose than hiding the word “secularism” would or the phrase “gay rights” would or anything else. Burying these words does not create a neutral charter. It buries the issues.

      We will not bury anything. We will name specific forms of discrimination whenever we verify them, and denounce them and do what we reasonably can to oppose them. We will identify with specific words specific causes when we are talking about those causes. In no way does that limit us to just the cause we happen to be talking about in any particular instance.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “You are all laboring against a phantom here. Obsessed with semantics, you can’t accept reality. I can’t help you.”

      The reality is that good people with good intentions react to semantics in ways that can belie many values that you share. I’m not just talking about having compassion; I’m talking about the way many atheists reason, they are a smart bunch. Sure, some will play devil’s advocate to anything, but what they also show is that respect and responce to accuracy and reason is a large part of their personal narrative. Semantics matters and I think you agree, but won’t admit it. I don’t know why.

    • says

      Reacting over-emotionally to semantics is a problem to fix, not a feature to promote. There is no problem with anyone’s actual reasoning here. Everyone is on board with equality and fairness for men, women, and minorities. Many of us are saying so.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “Reacting over-emotionally to semantics is a problem to fix, not a feature to promote. There is no problem with anyone’s actual reasoning here. Everyone is on board with equality and fairness for men, women, and minorities. Many of us are saying so.” – Richard.

      The only salient promotion will be more accuracy regarding sexual neutrality. It’s a pragmatic solution, not a concession. It would only be unworthy of promotion if it was actually something that you didn’t want or was more difficult than typing a few words. It’s neither.

      Look, all those MRA polemics mean nothing to me more than one fact: men suffer at least as much victimization from violence as women; they also suffer rape- especially in war and in prisons and the resources and empathy for these men are scanty: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men . I see no reason to demote these victims to second class status in explicit terms of gender rights.

      This is my CC. Dog nose that there are plenty of problematic arguments in sexual polemics, but the above fact is enough to equalize the framing of human rights against victimization in the context of gender Without. Anything. Else. Needed. Concerns should correlate with need in the proper proportions for the social work, in the least, but when it comes to essential rights to be free from violence, that should be framed equally in the charter. People who perceive this do not have a problem that needs to be fixed; it’s the other way around.

      I can’t say any more to convince you. I sincerely hope that you come around eventually and are able to separate what I’ve said here from your past and future negative experiences with MRAs or anti-feminists.

    • says

      (A) The use and discussion of the term “feminism” is in no way demoting men to second class status and (B) those disparities men do suffer under are almost always caused by men (thus in no way justifying the blaming of woman for it, yet every MRA website I’ve seen does that, which is the actual problem here).

    • andrewviceroy says

      “(A) The use and discussion of the term “feminism” is in no way demoting men to second class status and…” – Richard

      It isn’t that the term feminism has demoted men to second class status; it’s the explicit absence of its ‘brother’ in the charter. One is a hood ornament, the other is in the trunk. Think of a wedding cake with only the bride on it.

      “(B) those disparities men do suffer under are almost always caused by men (thus in no way justifying the blaming of woman for it, yet every MRA website I’ve seen does that, which is the actual problem here)” – Richard

      I addressed that several times already: men committing more violence than women does not make male victims vicariously blameworthy because they are male. That would be an untenable form of guilt by association. I’d be willing to concede that this would be different if the victim was himself a perpetrator of unethical abuse on people. In general though, this is ethically fallacious, and frankly, obvious.

      Again, I am not an MRA guy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from them. I would say the exact same thing about feminism to the same extent (and was enjoying some posts @ “man boobz” last night, before it got too hyperbolic for me). The facts about violence upon men stand alone, whatever belligerent people appropriate them for their own ends. The facts stand On. Their. Own. Forget about trolls and think about the rights of male victims of violence to stand next to female victims in A+ recognition. Forget about the MRA/MGTOW/PUA/anti-feminists/sexists/whatever, because I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of male victims of violence probably don’t even know who those groups are.

    • says

      (A) What is the word for men’s rights that is missing? We don’t have a word for gay rights or atheist rights either. So I don’t see what you are concerned about.

      (B) My only stated concern is that MRA sites so far in my experience consistently blame and denigrate women and feminism. Thus, they are making themselves unwelcome. I’m not the one doing it. Neither are feminists.

      As I’ve said several times here, they need to stop doing that, if they want a seat at the table of cooperating social justice movements. It isn’t feminists who need to do this. They are already full well ready. It’s the people using the MRA label who need to do it. In the meantime, we have to keep qualifying ourselves when we advocate for men’s rights issues by saying things like “I’m not with the people who call themselves Men’s Rights Advocates, so I don’t mean ‘men’s rights’ in their sense, but in a woman-friendly and feminism-welcoming sense.” Unlike the way feminism is straw manned (forcing feminists to pointlessly disavow their own fringe radicals every time they speak up), there seems to be only radicals in the self-declared MRA movement (which is ironic, considering that the claim that “they are all the radicals” is what MRA’s keep claiming of feminists, yet is what is only true of themselves, which I’d call a Freudian projection defense if I believed in that sort of thing).

      That needs to change. In the meantime, I can keep talking about and advocating men’s rights issues, as long as I keep qualifying myself, or avoid the misleading term (a term made misleading by those mishandling it) and just talk about rights. But that is a contingency of the bizarre way the MRA movement has developed. I don’t need to do this for feminism. It has only “developed” in a similar way in the fantasies of MRAs. Not in the real world. This disparity in fact and behavior is a problem that, IMO, does indeed undermine men’s rights. But it’s the MRA movement itself that needs to fix this. We’re already doing the things they want labeled under their rubric. And doing is vastly more important than naming.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “Think of a wedding cake with only the bride on it.” By which I mean to say that I don’t blame the bride; I blame the wedding planner… unless of course, that IS the bride.

    • andrewviceroy says

      If you really feel that all those male rights groups misinform men and exacerbate their sexism, then that is yet another argument to offer them sanctuary in A+, by explicitly acknowledging their victimization like you’ve admirably done for women. The explicit statement matters. Atheist organizations were falling all over themselves just because Obama mentioned non-believers along with theists at his Inauguration- not even as an actual endorsement. That’s how much explicit semantic gestures of recognition matter to us. Of course, we want that to mean something beyond pandering, but I think A+ would be better about that than the government has been.

    • says

      They have to stop victimizing first. When they stop engaging in sexist and misogynistic behavior and ranting and stop attacking women and feminism, then they can join us. Until then, they are precisely the people we want nothing to do with.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “They have to stop victimizing first. When they stop engaging in sexist and misogynistic behavior and ranting and stop attacking women and feminism, then they can join us. Until then, they are precisely the people we want nothing to do with.”
      “My only stated concern is that MRA sites so far in my experience consistently blame and denigrate women and feminism. Thus, they are making themselves unwelcome. I’m not the one doing it. Neither are feminists.” – Richard

      Okay, I see the problem: you’re conflating male victims of violence with people who identify as MRA, etc. That is unfair. Now I know I’ve asked you to check out GWW, and that was a mistake, not because I don’t sometimes agree with her, but because maybe I gave the impression that I am calling for actual MRA representation. I am not. As I said, I seriously doubt the majority of victims even know who those people are. I can’t or wouldn’t defend anyone’s hyperbolic language, but I wouldn’t confuse the concerns of a group with the behavior of its members in any case (of course).

      For example, I wouldn’t say that because Sanger advocated sterilization, we should frame feminism as eugenics. I might, however, see the tendency within the feminism movement to overcompensate concerning essential value, and this is something I’m NOT seeing in the MRM; I have NEVER seen someone explicitly say “men are superior to women.” In her diary, EC Stanton wrote, “We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men, and if we were free and developed, healthy in body and mind, as we should be under natural conditions, our motherhood would be our glory. That function gives women such wisdom and power as no male can possess.” And I seriously doubt you’d consider Stanton fringe or the quote out of context.

      EVEN STILL, if the majority of feminists felt like Stanton on this ‘superiority’ issue, I would NOT rob the feminism movement of significant utility or denigrate their calls for gender equality (when it is genuine- I believe it often is). There is only one thing I wish to take from the MRM: just as it is for women in many contexts, there are situations where male victimization exceeds that of women and should be addressed and ameliorated (e.g. men experience more violence upon them than women, men have a much higher suicide rate than women, there are overwhelmingly more homeless men, domestic courts most often bias in favor of women, etc.).

      My point is that a movement should not be framed as not having utility, even if its founders have overcompensated, spoken belligerently, or represented views that are no longer in the majority of the movement. The more important argument though is that there are modest truths about our responsibility to male victims that go beyond anything the MRM or any individual within it declares or advocates anyway. By the numbers, it’s clear that male victims of violence are overwhelmingly not MRM members either.

      We could turn the “strawfeminism” rejoinder on its head and say that citing the behavior of the MRM is “straw-male-victimization,” because they are overwhelmingly NOT MRAs. Give THEM an equal opportunity to voice their needs. I never asked you to frame it as “male rights,” but “gender equality.” If the MRM shows up with untenable propaganda and they pull bullshit, repudiate it with evidence. Nothing changes in this respect, except that you do the right thing for male victims by default by not marginalizing/devaluing their suffering in contrast to WR. To do this, IMO, you cover your bases. To not do this, you don’t. It would untenably undervalue a demographic in an apparently retributive way by association alone.

    • says

      you’re conflating male victims of violence with people who identify as MRA, etc. That is unfair.

      No, I’m not. I’m already advocating for the rights and justice of male victims. The problem with MRAs is their hijacking of a word. Which taints that word. Not the cause. They have harmed that cause. But not with me. I can still disentangle the cause from the words they use to label it. It is they who then conflate the label for that cause with the label for themselves.

      Remember, you are the one obsessing over semantics. Let’s not move the goal posts now. Do not confuse semantics with reality.

      In reality I’m endorsing men’s rights along with women’s and gays’ and atheists’ and everyone else’s. Which leaves you nothing to complain about but semantics. And that’s what throws you into the brambles of what the MRA movement has done to the phrase “men’s rights.” Which is notably not what feminists have done to the word feminism. Equating feminism with its radicals is only done by MRAs and anti-feminists. The feminists themselves vastly outnumber their own radicals. Not so, as far as I can tell, in the MRA movement. And I cannot change this. Those in the MRA movement itself are the only ones who can change it.

      Hence my point: as soon as we see a website, blog, or organization taking the MRA banner and not denigrating women and feminism but seeing and treating them as colleagues in the same grand fight, then we can start moving toward the semantic goals you have in mind. You are welcome to be that trailblazer. In the meantime, I have to keep qualifying myself when I publicly advocate for men’s rights. All thanks to the harm done to men by the entire MRA movement, or at least all the most public arms of it that I have seen (again, maybe there is a non-radical arm of it I’ve missed; I’m happy to be directed to it).

    • andrewviceroy says

      “In reality I’m endorsing men’s rights along with women’s and gays’ and atheists’ and everyone else’s. Which leaves you nothing to complain about but semantics. And that’s what throws you into the brambles of what the MRA movement has done to the phrase “men’s rights.” Which is notably not what feminists have done to the word feminism. Equating feminism with its radicals is only done by MRAs and anti-feminists. The feminists themselves vastly outnumber their own radicals. Not so, as far as I can tell, in the MRA movement. And I cannot change this. Those in the MRA movement itself are the only ones who can change it.”- Richard

      There is some truth in all this: yes, I’m focusing on semantics, but I DON’T think my case for the term “gender equality” should be associated (okay, “associated” is better than “conflated”) with the MRM, as I said, both because the male victims are overwhelmingly NOT associated with it, and because “gender equality” is sexually neutral. A disclaimer to this effect is not unreasonable (“we do not support extreme factions in the MRM”).

      Even if it were true that MRM people are more extreme, remember that it’s still young, and people like Emma Goldman and EC Stanton probably got their start by the salience of their more extreme convictions too (a parallel to Christianity and countless other movements?). Goldman, Sanger, and Stanton are very popular still- founding mothers, so I would argue that the “extreme” element (in their case, that they have a gender “superior in every way”) is just different in kind. Men are fueled by testosterone and so more aggressive. I’m not asking you to endorse this quality/sentiment though, merely the victimization. Also, you’re hanging your hat on some dangerous ideas: that there will NEVER be extremism in the feminist movement that you find extreme, and that they won’t ever be a majority. I choose “gender equality” for that reason too. It’s a safeguard against this. Last, I DO think that thinking one gender is superior is a dangerous way to think, even if male aggression is considerably worse.

      “Hence my point: as soon as we see a website, blog, or organization taking the MRA banner and not denigrating women and feminism but seeing and treating them as colleagues in the same grand fight, then we can start moving toward the semantic goals you have in mind. You are welcome to be that trailblazer. In the meantime, I have to keep qualifying myself when I publicly advocate for men’s rights. All thanks to the harm done to men by the entire MRA movement, or at least all the most public arms of it that I have seen (again, maybe there is a non-radical arm of it I’ve missed; I’m happy to be directed to it)”-Richard

      I understand your position and I hope you can keep what I said in mind, should the situation change in your view (that you are witnessing more “gender egalitarians,” or MRAs that are explicitly supporting women’s rights with equal time). I hope you will still adopt the language I proposed with the knowledge that you don’t have to officially support an MRA group- on the contrary, you could make a disclaimer. I really think “gender equality” is the superior term for a banner umbrella charter ethic that will include all victims, regardless of any movement of any gender or what any website says. Please deeply consider that one thing. Your voice is important. Thanks for your time Richard.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “…only the facts of the matter actually matter”- Richard

      Agreed. That’s why perception and inclusive language matters: it has factual consequences of curbing reactance and bringing more people on board. ‘Gender equality,’ as a concept, is ethically better than both ‘feminism’ and ‘men’s rights’ simpliciter, which will always have polemical marketing baggage worth acknowledging, regardless of etymological nuance. Let’s be pragmatic here and use an effective available term. We aren’t as lucky to have such a useful unloaded neutral term in so many other categories.
      Reactance can be reduced by avoiding polemical core values, and by highlighting similarities between agents, as well as low controlling/autonomy positive language:

      Silvia, P. J. (2005). Deflecting reactance: The role of similarity in increasing compliance and reducing resistance. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27, 277–284.

      Mercier, H., Sperber, D. (2010). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 34, 57–111 doi:10.1017/S0140525X10000968.

      Miller, C. H., Lane, L. T., Deatrick, L. M., Young, A. M., Potts, K. A. (2007). Psychological reactance and promotional health messages: The effects of controlling language, lexical concreteness, and the restoration of freedom. Human Communication Research, 33, 219-240.

      Berns, G. S., Bell, E., Capra, C. M., Prietula, M. J., Moore, S., Anderson, B., Ginges, J., Atran, S. (3/2012). The price of your soul: neural evidence for the non-utilitarian representation of sacred values. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2012; 367 (1589): 754 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0262

      Keim, B. (1/24/2012). Profit vs. Principle: The Neurobiology of Integrity. Wired Science.

      What doesn’t change is any of the work by feminists in A+. Changing “women’s rights” to “gender equality” is ultimately BETTER for women and I think most women would actually agree. It acknowledges a world where men are not more impervious to pain than women. A world where they’re socially ‘allowed’ to suffer the consequences of abuse beyond their ability to ‘suck it up’ and/or ‘be strong for their ‘more vulnerable’ partner.’ Personally, I have STRONG women in my family that kick my ass in terms of emotional strength. It’s inspiring.

      “I’m blaming the victims? Really? The men ceaselessly harassing the women in our movement are the victims?”-Richard

      Blame away! But the perception of Atheism+ is bigger than reactions to atheist movement micro-concerns (not to belittle them!). Umbrella charter language should reflect this and include the hundreds of thousands of male victims who have nothing to do with those terrible reactions or trolls in the MRM (not that all MRA are trolls- THAT would be an unnecessarily polarizing specious contention). It could even offer some of those ultra-minority men who did act badly a chance to save face and have a change of heart (provided it wasn’t criminal behavior).

      Consider if a person who made some mocking/disparaging comment to a feminist was actually reacting to some associated memory of another woman’s rejection or abuse. Then consider if he should be persuaded to modify his view and embrace “gender equality” via Atheism+’s proposed non-reactance invoking language. He is now ethically compelled by his in-group (which has been evidenced to DEATH to be an ethical motivator) to be consistent or banished to out-group. Should this actually be considered a BAD thing NOT worth pursuing, then I don’t know what a good thing is.

      One problem is that you’re already pushing this ‘acknowledge ‘women’s rights’ as semantically more important or be banished’ action, but you haven’t framed it fairly. You have to do that first. Also there seems to be a presumption that improving the accuracy of the language (even for perception reasons) will weaken the medicine for the abuse of women… or tap sex-abuse resources? Dog forbid that the 1 in 10 men who are raped in prison (denied rape status BY DEFINITION by the FBI!) or the 1 in 6 boys who are molested before they are 16 get equal airtime.

      These sexual issues for men need to be in the same relative awareness category/level as women’s abuse, not buried under ‘social justice.’ Founders must have foresight and humility regarding issues that they do not know or experience in their immediate circle. Make a bigger tent with macro-language more appropriate for covering *essential* rights (e.g. the right to be free from violence, which both genders deserve equally), then work on the micro-agendas of each gender from the inside out. And don’t rely on clearly failed etymological nuance to do it. Be equally inclusive based on essential rights without out-group presumptions, then educate if necessary (“you’re not in line with “gender equality”!”).

      The fundamental problem is a failure to consider the statement “Atheism+ we are for women’s rights” as being perceived as representing more *essential* rights that have *nothing to do with the number of victims* (or just not caring that it doesn’t). Just like the principle of the Bill of Rights. This is the kind of umbrella standard atheists appreciate. While the Bill of Rights failed semantically to represent women and minorities, etc., it would have been equally wrong to frame it as “all Asian women are created equal”… forever. Language matters (i.e. it should have been “all people are created equal”), and I guarantee that you’re going to see a whole lot more empirical evidence to this effect in the decades to come.

    • says

      How can you be confused about what Atheism+ stands for on these matters when Atheism+ has already been explicit? I have already been explicit. Repeatedly and in multiple places.

      We already use generic covering terms like “social justice” and “compassion.” And when we get more specific and mention this includes things like “gay rights” you don’t write thousand word comments with bibliographies on why we should stop using the word “gay” and only talk about “people rights.” Likewise when we mention the rights of minorities, you don’t complain that this gives the impression that we don’t support the rights of majorities and that therefore we should never use the word “minority” or even “black” or “hispanic” (lest, gasp, we give the impression we are against social justice for “white” people…think how weird your entire discourse would be if that were the thing you were going on about). Instead, you are obsessed with the word “woman.”

      Why?

      Can you not see how illogical and inconsistent you are? Since nothing you say would have any credibility in the matter of our talking about “equality for black people” or “gay people,” it has no credibility in the matter of our talking about “women.” You are for some reason scared, disturbed or offended by the word “woman.” I do not understand that. If you had read someone reacting the way you are to the words “gay” or “black” you might have shudders up and down your spine.

      Do you see what I mean?

    • andrewviceroy says

      “How can you be confused about what Atheism+ stands for on these matters when Atheism+ has already been explicit? I have already been explicit. Repeatedly and in multiple places […] Instead, you are obsessed with the word “woman.” Why? Can you not see how illogical and inconsistent you are?”- Richard

      I’m not confused, after having in depth nuanced conversations with you, but that should not be necessary. I am complaining about unbalanced language in your umbrella charter for both semantic accuracy and marketing. Your argument cuts both ways: If the status quo is not an equivocation of convenience, if “feminism” and “women’s rights” truly embody ‘gender equality’ without favoring the female gender in some essential way, then there should be no resistance to the change; yet, resistance exists. Why? Answer me this: If “social justice” covers “men’s rights” adequately in the charter, then why doesn’t it cover “women’s rights” adequately? You have separated “women’s rights” out and put them front and center as a banner header. THIS is what is inconsistent. This is my CC. And believe you me, IT GOES FOR ALL DEMOGRAPHICS. It’s just that this post is in the context of feminism.

      “Women’s rights” strive to achieve gender equality by supplementing female power to counterbalance male attempts at dominance. The difference between “gender equality” and “women’s rights,” though, is that the latter ONLY COUNTERBALANCES IN ONE DIRECTION. So-called “men’s rights” have the same problem when institutionalized (and we’re all aware of the negative effects of systematic male favoritism).

      Even if “gender equality” truly is implicit in the labels of “feminism” and “women’s rights,” they are still one step away from semantic accuracy in terms of the more primary institutional goal. In terms of the most fundamental institutional goal, ***“gender equality” means “gender equality” more than “feminism” and “women’s rights” mean “gender equality”***. Do you dispute this?

      Imagine if, as some have noted, because we all start with an X chromosome, the institutionalized sexism were proposed to be reversed to have “women” mean ‘both women and men,’ as the word “men” has been used for ages. While I would think this IS more accurate, I would STILL argue against it. This is because “all people are created equal” is better than both “all women are created equal” and “all men are created equal.” “All women are created equal” would still be perpetuating the potential for a problem in the other direction… forever. Do I think all legislation should be semantically degendered? YES! Unless it needs to identify specifics in some case.

      Now, you’ve pointed out racial concerns. I absolutely DON’T EVER think you should single out races or minorities *in a ethical banner charter* (or legislation) for the same exact reason. I am COMPLETELY consistent in this regard. Minorities change (consider California’s fairly recent change [reversion] to a Hispanic majority [no I am not a racist- I speak fluent Spanish, love the culture, and reject pervasive bigotry there too]) and so does the context FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL. To frame rights in terms of demographics is hivish and ignores individuals in essential ways. I shouldn’t have to argue this.

      Even if the problem of balance is still not resolved (and in many cases it isn’t), it should never be resolved via institutionalized polemics. Speaking of racial inequality, we see better versions of semantic equality in legislation like the “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” because it equalizes everyone to an essential right/value: the right to vote. Explicitly identifying particular victims in the title of this legislation (as an activist’s tool) would have made it weaker, calling into question the people NOT included. Generally, the broader the representation of the legislation, the more enduring it will be, and it’s difficult to get broader than the representation of essential equality for all gender types (and BTW, the ONLY reason I didn’t bring up “transgender rights” [who, in my mind, probably experience the WORST discrimination] is because they are also represented in the banner charter as a header under “transphobia” or you can BET I would have mentioned them in the context of this post/gender).

      Analogously, A+ would have framed that legislation as The African American Voter Rights Act, or something like it. I think that would be weaker, while at the same time, creating reactance and division. And dog forbid you be the white guy in a black majority country with all the rights framed as “black rights.” Yeah, your hair may stand up at the thought of poetic justice there, but it’s not right either. It isn’t. Equality is the goal.

      Yeah, when I see things like “Black History Week” on the History Channel, I DON’T see them as ‘more inclusive.’ I still see them as marginalized/separated out, ineffective (because white people will just turn the channel), and thus impractical. This does not make me insensitive. On the contrary, it perpetuates the insensitivity of people who ignore the ultimate effects of poorly conceived activism. I want more balanced integration. That’s the point here (and don’t think I missed your underlying insinuation that unrecognized sexism is my real motivation). Social tinkering has to be done scientifically with an eye on the results. Counterbalancing activism works better in some places than in others. It DOESN’T work as well in umbrella charters meant for (or commonly perceived as representing) balanced ESSENTIAL values. I just *don’t want to have to defend something that is ESSENTIALLY untrue* in order to counterbalance. I can still be a feminist under the banner of “gender equality.” So can you.

      Now, perception problems DO become ethical problems. Consider this AP piece that came out a few days ago:
      http://bigstory.ap.org/article/bosnian-woman-helped-make-rape-war-crime

      Of course, the goal is noble and it is progress in one sense. But this article really bothers me, because rape is a weapon of war against men too. *80%* of the male war prisoners in Sarajevo were raped (of the 5,000 interviewed by the U.N.). 80%. No mention of that in this article about rape as a weapon of war- even the Bosnian War. Not even in passing. I was stunned. Why why why don’t they don’t mention those stats next to the women’s stats? It even would have made the piece more interesting for journalistic/sensationalist reasons. I’ll tell you why: people are deliberately ignoring male victimization because they are worried about ‘weakening the medicine’ against machismo. I think we all agree that male violence could never justify male victimization. We do it intuitively though and that’s why I feel it’s important to push this: don’t punish victims by ignoring them based upon the gender of the perpetrator. So what is meant to be activistic “ethical journalism” is actually UNETHICAL at the end of the day IMO.

      Even though women do overwhelmingly report a higher amount of domestic victimization (1.3 million ), the same 2000 report by the CDC estimated that 835,000 men still reported physical assault by an intimate partner annually. If these were stats of those killed in a war by gender, should we only mention the 1.3 million and not the 835,000… in order to highlight gender issues? Even well intentioned activism fails in the context of areas that require the recognition of equal victimization. Institutionalizing rape as a women’s only concern (like the FBI has done) is perpetuated by singling out women’s rights in both this article and in places like ethical charters of social justice groups. But singling out demographics without balance *in either content or semantics* CAN ITSELF BE ANTITHETICAL TO THE PHRASE “SOCIAL JUSTICE”! And it is here in that respect.

      I understand your mission perfectly well Richard. I’m not arguing about male superiority in ANY WAY or a return to “the good ol’ days where a woman knew her place.” But I also see this charter for what it is: an attempt to counterbalance semantically in key areas that belies language that is more accurate, more effective, and more inclusive. The framework of any banner ethical charter is in- or in the very least, is commonly perceived to be in, the context of *essential rights*. Raise your awareness even further beyond where you think is sufficient and really hone in on the *ultimate* goals like a founder would; there you will find a more accurate way to explicate those goals.

    • says

      Okay, You have stopped addressing anything I am saying. That makes this conversation pointless.

      Again:

      The difference between “gender equality” and “women’s rights,” though, is that the latter ONLY COUNTERBALANCES IN ONE DIRECTION.

      …is no different from saying:

      The difference between “sexual equality” and “gay rights,” though, is that the latter ONLY COUNTERBALANCES IN ONE DIRECTION.

      The latter is simply not a credible argument for us to stop talking about “gay rights.” The same argument therefore cannot be any more valid in respect to women’s rights. Ditto every other variant on this same argument you keep trying.

      quid est demonstrandum

    • andrewviceroy says

      “The difference between “gender equality” and “women’s rights,” though, is that the latter ONLY COUNTERBALANCES IN ONE DIRECTION.

      …is no different from saying:

      The difference between “sexual equality” and “gay rights,” though, is that the latter ONLY COUNTERBALANCES IN ONE DIRECTION.”- Richard

      That’s right. Do you deny that it only counterbalances one way? “Sexual equality” IS better. Again, your reply, “the latter is simply not a credible argument for us to stop talking about “gay rights”” is a strawman. The argument is for better language that endures and equalizes. This is myopic activism with no foresight. Its choice of language is cynical enough to negate itself by using polemics that implicitly deny it will ever succeed in achieving equality or ever be irrelevant, let alone assert itself when the opposite is true in individual contexts.

      You’ve obviously never experienced reverse bigotry from the gay community. I have seen it in SF, where I lived for 10 years. Not from my gay friends (that I’m aware of), but I’ve seen gay men viciously talk down to women “breeders” *often*. Worse, one of my roommates was jumped by a gang of angry lesbians and they beat him up BAD at a show with a lesbian punk band, presumably because he was the only male there (he liked the band!). He said it was traumatic and thinks it was because one of them “didn’t like the way he looked at her.” I suppose this is okay to you. You need to get out more. Why don’t you ask your gay friends if they see this in their community? They will confirm it is there to some extent. Your lack of awareness is not befitting of a founder of essential rights- it makes me sad.

    • says

      You’ve obviously never experienced reverse bigotry from the gay community.

      I have no idea why you assume that.

      Now that you are taking up clairvoyance, divination, and telepathy, this is starting to get strange.

  43. andrewviceroy says

    “The labels of “black/gay/women’s rights advocate” do not ever need to be abolished. Even when all equity is achieved, one does not then cease to be an advocate of the rights achieved. We still support them and seek to maintain them. Likewise the word feminism.”

    Of course, but this still misses the point. The point is creating a non-polemical *umbrella* charter, in the least, for marketing reasons. And I don’t mean marketing in any shallow sense; I mean it in a pragmatic sense that actually DOES some ADDITIONAL social work, by *taking in more members to influence*. It takes into account the same psychology we appeal to constantly: linguistic cues for out-groups and in-groups have a social function that matters- even just a change in grammar makes a difference http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/10/politicians-watch-your-grammar.html.

    Founders must have foresight and humility regarding what they do not know or experience in their immediate circle. You will alienate a lot of male victims if you don’t frame your charter in an a more inclusive way. This is a fact. Why would you do this? It’s crazy for you to write over and over and over again to so many people that feminism ACTUALLY means THIS… and even knowing that people like me agree with you that most feminists are for gender equality… but then when it comes time to cash out with an umbrella charter… YOU GO POLEMICAL! You’d think you’d do it just by the evidence for accomodationism. You prefer to reify your personal grocery list for generations to come, rather than the more inclusive, “we promote groceries that makes humans thrive.”

    My argument is that feminism, as a universal ethical charter label, *has the effect* of under-representing a large population of victims *beyond the ability of the nuance you’ve provided to recover it*, regardless of etymology, or whether it’s because you’re focusing on micro-agendas, or whether you or others actually do intuitively associate blame via gender (and so males deserve it. And I think you’d agree that when someone intuitively promotes feminism in a way that proposes a superior gender, i.e. ‘women are more nurturing,’ then you’re NOT for gender quality. It’s one or the other.)

    I’m not going to repeat the evidence for accomodationism- and no, it does not require ANY ethical compromise on your part, just a practical one. Ethical leaders should use this knowledge to be more inclusive, while simultaneously still getting all the same benefits of what feminism really wants. This is achieved by making a bigger tent- a bigger umbrella, then working on less macro-terms from the inside out. Nothing is different, except that you get more people in the group exposed to your ideas and work, because the equality in the charter is more explicitly accurate, and therefore more salient and easier to accommodate them. It’s a practical improvement if nothing else.

    “The only thing that hinders extreme factions are moderate factions. Like me. If you think a generic “gender equity” movement wouldn’t generate extreme factions, you either are very naive, or haven’t been reading very widely.”

    Your first sentence agrees with my proposal, as gender equality IS a moderate faction. But the second sentence misses the mark, as I’m not claiming the change wouldn’t generate more extremism *outside* the movement (it probably would), but *inside*. I’m aware of Scott Atran’s work on unassailable ‘sacred values’ and the mountains of social psychology regarding polarization, radicalization, echo chambers, etc. It doesn’t matter though, *even if you need to be more polemical in order to counter contextual patriarchy/misogyny where it exists*, because I’m not against that as *internal work*, I’m against it *reified polemically as an umbrella charter concept* because it is remiss in too many contexts of male victimization.

    I agree with you that supporting MRA is equally polemical and have said the same thing I’ve said here about the NCfM at girlwriteswhat: I will not join any sexually polemical group. Sorry. It goes without saying that I don’t support the extremists (well, I just said it anyway), even if I often do agree with both GWW AND Greta Christina at times.

    “Sigh.
    So this is what happens.
    I write a post advocating Atheism+’s generic goals of social justice in many forms and the values of reasonableness, integrity, and compassion.
    My post is then swarmed with comments by sexists and misogynists attacking feminism.”

    That is so unfair and just not true of me. You are replying to my post, so I take this as a personal accusation. I’m not arguing against your principles; I am arguing for a MORE REASONABLE position, because my language actually HAS A LARGER TENT FOR CAMPASSION THAN DOES YOURS. I’ve been reading your writing and your posts for a over decade- I ordered your first book before it was even out, and I know you get worked up pretty easily these days, but please be detached enough to recognize what I’m really for and against.

    “Now, I ask you. At what point in that timeline did you miss what actually happened?
    Thus, for example, this petition is about the way women are being treated, not men. It is therefore a feminist issue.
    To come in here and say we should not say that, but instead call it generic “gender equity” advocacy, is to miss completely the entire point of the post, the petition, and the word “feminism.”
    In no way does writing about feminism exclude advocacy of other forms of gender equity, any more than writing about feminism excludes advocacy for gay rights or the rights of the poor or of minorities. This is simply not a post about those things.”

    Well this pretty much sums it up. The purpose was for rebranding secular humanism (I’ve been preferring ‘naturalist’ BTW, and yes, I do prefer more general terms, such as ‘sexual preference/equality’ over ‘gay rights,’ etc. especially for an *umbrella charter*. AGAIN, you will draw more people and still be able to do the SAME work). This is as a reaction to ‘elevator gate’ and the fallout from that, plus women’s abuse in general, etc. Fine. We don’t need to say anymore. That’s a noble cause- really. I just had the apparently mistaken impression that A+ was going to be more than that, considering all the other wonderful social justice principles in the charter. Something bigger, like on the scale of Paul Kurtz’s ‘planetary ethics.’ I guess I don’t need to go beyond Kurtz anyway.

    I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s suffering, just be more inclusive. Clearly, that is perceived to be watering down the medicine. Maybe it is for your purposes, but maybe you’re missing out on more than you know. I don’t think you care, if by asking for a charter that *equally* recognizes male victims, I’m framed as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynist.’ Triste.

    BTW, I heard Watson’s CC in real time and I thought “that guy’s going to really regret that!” I also thought, “damn, if was ever shy about asking out a girl BEFORE…” Of course, I also thought about my own experience, which I won’t relay here. After I heard about threats, I did have concern for her safety. I also hoped that they were not real threats and that they were men who were knee-jerking about memories they had of such vehement rejection when asking out a girl they really liked.

    Then I saw so many angry WOMEN on BOTH sides of it. Now, I don’t know for sure, but my suspicion is that it’s likely that the internet abuses do not actually stem from the hatred of women, but a lack of recognition at their emotional vulnerability to them when expressing romantic feelings. It’s a knee-jerk from their pain. Of course, I don’t condone threats, just because I recognize the origin, as a predispositionalist, I want to see them as sick and not evil. And I want to see MORE BALANCE in addressing the emotional sensitivity in males regarding their victimization. I can do this without being a card carrying MRA member, but it’s much more difficult in an organization with a feminist slant in its charter from the getgo.

    It should go without saying that ANY violence, abuse, threats, etc. should be taken seriously and addressed by the law. Talk about it all day in atheist blogs and media- that’s great. How could I have a problem with this? This is part of the work inherent in social justice. But *there’s another part*: male victimization, and if you’re creating an umbrella charter, then there should be explicit recognition of it *in the context of gender equality* and not merely a vague allusion of it under ‘social justice’ or in the outmoded nuance of its polemically salient counter.

    But none of this matters if A+ was specifically formed to address the microcosm and not the macrocosm. I have no problem with this if that’s what it is: ‘atheist feminism’; a smaller, highly (IMO impractically) nuanced sect of larger humanistic principles.

    Guess I’m still on the search for a bigger tent regarding sexual issues. Neither feminists nor MRAs would get their specific brand on my charter, but both would still be encouraged to do their work within the greater context of ‘gender equality.’

    • says

      There is nothing polemical about the word “feminism” any more than in the word “secularism.” We need words to describe the things we are talking about. If anything, we need better words for men’s rights and gay rights and atheist rights. Not fewer words. Least of all even more ambiguous words.

      I would welcome a passionate blog discussing men’s rights that didn’t denigrate feminism and women but uplifted them and worked with them as much as they’d be keen to reciprocate if they and their issues were being treated with equal respect. And if it had well-documented, un-hyped facts to talk about, and took such factual accuracy seriously (just as irrational fact-challenged feminism is annoying, so is irrational fact-challenged atheism, or anything else, including men’s rights advocacy). Such a thing, pursued with honesty, empathy, and reasonableness, and an open acceptance and endorsement of other social justice movements (including feminism), would exactly fit within the umbrella of Atheism+ and be more than welcome there.

      If you know of any such blogs or websites, let me know. But so far that isn’t what I am seeing. Attacking feminism and women, and misrepresenting facts, seem all too common in the pages I’ve been directed to in the past. I don’t assume that’s true of every site. But you will have to find some for me that don’t. And in my own case, it isn’t what I personally have had occasion to talk about–just as I haven’t often spoken much on gay rights or even church-state separation, even though I’m a keen supporter of both…they just aren’t as much in my wheelhouse as other things I know much better, or have been compelled to defend by constant direct attacks upon me.

  44. andrewviceroy says

    One more thing I should add. I’m not necessarily against blaming and shaming when the crime is bad enough that it it’s appropriate and temporary, just not when it’s reified as a more permanent fixture in a setting that can be so easily misperceived.

  45. andrewviceroy says

    Missed this one:

    “How concerned is A++ about the kind of sectarianism that topples movements? I mean, when the non-feminists have left, then what? We split again over vegetarianism? Then we split again on political lines. And so on and so on… until we’re down to one f’n person who is so A++++++ that they demand we talk about veganism in biology class.”

    “Slippery slope fallacy”- Richard

    Yeah, I’m well aware of this perception (and said as much on another site before you posted), but I believe that this is the weakest of the fallacies and is too readily dismissive by too many people. The fallacy itself is based upon two things: an assertion of a deterministic process; an assertion of the continuation of that determined process (the absence of stasis). What goes dismissed too easily is that slippery slope statements (and believe me, I’ve called them many times) are often true! They are true when the conditions are actually met, and *to dismiss them as impossible because they are not certain is itself fallacious*.

    When someone says, “Hey look at that cell dividing into two, and then four… the way it’s behaving it’s going to divide into eight and then sixteen!!” you’re not going to get much mileage out of calling this a slippery slope, because it’s a manifestation based upon an ontological structure with limited possibility and high probability. And that’s just it; when you have a structurally defined process, you limit possibility and so-called slippery slope arguments merely have an unknown potential- not an absurdity always to be ignored.

    As a predispositionalist (not a fatalist), I see a lot of high probability in all the structural elements in this particular process and context: ethical, psychological, and social. Sure, because of epistemic limitations, I can’t be SURE that individuals will continue to desire to refine their in-groups, and I can’t be SURE when or if each group will settle into ethicostasis (patent pending ;-)), but the trends for all of these motivations are worth considering in a probabilistic sense without always inferring literal fatalism or dismissing them out of hand. My 2 cents.

    • says

      And, of course, there has to be some splitting. So the slippery slope argument is self-defeating.

      For example, we obviously ought to be renouncing white supremacism–and there are explicitly atheist white supremacist movements (just as there were explicitly atheist Nazis, e.g. Martin Bormann). To say “Oh, you shouldn’t be renouncing and denouncing Nazi atheists, because then it won’t end, you’ll just split again and again, etc., so you had better cozy up to and accommodate Nazi atheists!” is simply not to grasp the whole concept of social morality. Indeed, it starts to look more like psychopathy than social consciousness.

      Thus, the proper debate is not whether we should renounce and denounce. The proper debate is over where it becomes socially disadvantageous or even unjust to continue doing it. And that’s a debate worth having. It’s just that people who make these arguments don’t really want to have that debate. They aren’t being sincere. They really want to turn back the clock and make open sexism respectable or acceptable again. Or they want to go back to the days when we didn’t talk about such things, but buried our heads in the sand and only echo-roomed the same old dull topics of god and pseudoscience, pretending other things didn’t matter.

      But if someone really (actually, sincerely) wanted to talk about why we should or shouldn’t be dicks to vegetarians (or vice versa), I’m game. Because I have good arguments against doing that (neither being nor not being vegetarian in and of itself violates the core values of reasonableness, integrity, and compassion–whereas unrepentant sexism does). Even as at the same time I fully advocate the freedom and value and importance of atheists in the movement criticizing vegetarians (or vice versa) with ever-better arguments (less fallacious, less fact-challenged, less hyperbolic, etc.), rather than assiduously avoiding the subject–for fear of “creating schisms.”

      If we can’t handle mutual criticism and internal debate, we’re fucked as a movement. And that’s lesson number one.

      Telling the difference between (A) mutual criticism and internal debate (which can and should be conducted respectably) and (B) renouncing and denouncing blights on our community (which ought indeed show no quarter) is one of the fundamental criteria distinguishing children from adults. And adults sometimes need to keep reminding themselves of that. (A) is not (B). And making (A) into (B) is folly.

  46. Steven C Watson says

    I agree with andrewviceroy, his is the better and more inclusive argument. If I had read the thread thus far before reading the OP, I would have been dissuaded from signing the petition. Whether it is your intention or not Dr Carrier, what I am reading here I am understanding as divisive and exclusive. I also understand you as deliberately misunderstanding many of the people attempting to engage with you.You are blaming the victims, and for what the vast majority will have nothing to do with, or an awareness of the groups you are bashing them with. You are privileging one group of victims over another, regardless of the numbers of either.

    ” No, I’m not. I’m already advocating for the rights and justice of male victims.”: in the light of everything else you have posted here, I can only understand that statement as being in the same category as ” But I have (Black) (Jewish) (Gay) (Insert group I actually dislike) friends.”

    I admire you as a historian and indeed your work as a historian has greatly impacted on, and changed, the near and medium term course of my life, and in a very positive manner. As a person though, you display traits that I can in no way admire. I would urge you to take a long hard look at yourself, instead of always seeing the defect as being in others.

    I will continue reading both your blog and published work: you are, for the most part, an admirably clear and original thinker and well worth my time, I can forgive your feet of clay.

    TTFN, Steven C Watson

    • Steven C Watson says

      Are you being deliberately obtuse? It is the downside of internet discussion that a not inconsiderable minority of users lose all sense of inhibition and propriety, posting insults and personal attacks. Some then descend into stalking and death threats. A few of days ago a teenager tweeted that they liked Justin Beiber’s acoustic work, though they were not usually a fan. Result – their inbox filled with abuse, making out she was a prostitute. She later had to tweet a denial that she was having his child, who they also said would become a whore. All this bile was coming from other teenage girls.

      Neither I or andrewviceroy are denying that women with blogs, or other internet presence, identifying themselves as atheists, feminists or atheist feminists, come in for abuse from certain stunted men (the majority of such posts come from The Usual Suspects, you can count them on two hands, google them and you find them dishing bilge outside the atheist/feminist oeuvre) but you will also find a small number of women indulging the same. You are confusing/conflating men who have legitimate complaints, who have suffered legitimate abuse with men who have clearly suffered no such thing. I wouldn’t set out to exclude or denigrate all women skeptics/feminists/atheists on the grounds that a few women you can count on one hand have made silly or hostile statements about men. I wouldn’t even exclude a particular individual, Rebecca Watson for example, on the strength of such. Context, context and context again. If they make a habit of it, or all they have to contribute turns out to be nonsense and bile, drum ‘em out by all means, but don’t go generalising from the particular or putting up strawman arguments.

      Please note I wrote you were PRIVILEGING one group of victims over another not BLAMING the victims. I am differentiating, not conflating. You are misreading what is being written and as a result misunderstanding what is meant. Take a little more time, count to ten and get back to me.
      TTFN, Steven C Watson

    • Steve Watson says

      From your post that heads this thread : “They have even come to the point of mocking cancer survivors and rape victims. And those are instances from women, so it’s not just men who are enabling this anti-feminist cabal; the same tactics women have long used to attack feminism and put down their fellow women…” . I then followed your links and then the links in the posts you had linked to and read those posts as well. I am following your own argument and evidence here.

      When the participants lose the thread of their own arguments, I realise that the diminishing returns of the discussion have reached the point where it is futile to continue. Your passion has stepped over into irrationality, something that can happen to all and the best of us.

      The Blindspot has no vision cells, so our brains fill that area of vision with information form the surrounding cells. Maybe that is what you are metaphorically doing here, you can’t actually “see” what we are writing about and you are substituting what you expect to read. I am not singling you out here, I have done it myself and will doubtless do it again in the future, I regularly have folk finish my sentences based on what they expect to hear, interpret what I have said on the basis of something they have substituted from their expectations and prejudices; not my actual content, and the same kind of thing in writing.

      Consciousness, whatever that means, is a very late evolutionary development and rational thinking even more so. We all have an uphill struggle against seeing boulders, real or metaphorical, as bears.

  47. andrewviceroy says

    “The latter is simply not a credible argument for us to stop talking about “gay rights.””- Richard

    Now who’s ignoring who? I never said, “stop talking about “gay rights”” or women’s rights or any rights. Strawman. On the contrary, anyone can see that all my posts are about consistant equality, more productive conversation, and inclusivity gains via accurate banner language and reduced reactance.

    Again: If “social justice” covers “men’s rights” adequately in the charter, then why doesn’t it cover “women’s rights” adequately? You have separated “women’s rights” out and put them front and center as a banner header for activist reasons that are only contextually appropriate. THIS is inconsistent and not inconsequential. You disingenuously assert that categorization has no essential effect in its ethical fairness, yet give yourself away that it does by your resistance to correcting it with even more essentially equalizing language.

    You really don’t understand the difference between ethical umbrella banner representation and contextual activism? Really? When you unequally represent the essential rights of groups and therefore devalue specific individuals, you are NOT an advocate of social justice in effect, just another in-group. The Voting Rights Act would have been inappropriate and weaker if it put specific demographics in its banner title. The argument is analogous here.

    You have NOT addressed these relevant criticisms; you ignored them. That is your right. People can read my case for themselves.

    But this has never been a personal attack about what you believe; it’s about how the charter is presented. Don’t let it be just another polemical rubber band that, by its very nature, will overshoot its target. Make it a rock that every individual can anchor on with literally inclusive language, rather than literally divisive categorization.

    • says

      You want me to abandon a word for advocating women’s rights. Your arguments for that do not make logical sense, for the very reasons I have stated. You are simply not advancing any rebuttal to what I have said on this, which already answers every point you just made. That’s what “ignoring” means: making an argument that just repeats what I just refuted, only worded differently, as if that makes a difference to the substance of anything you are saying. I am just perplexed at this.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “You want me to abandon a word for advocating women’s rights”- Richard

      “Gender equality” does not abandon women’s rights AT ALL; it merely includes men’s/transgender rights more equally and efficiently.

      “For example, classism and ableism and poverty aren’t on that short list either, yet are elsewhere clearly articulated as the resulting interests from our core values.”- Richard

      Not all of those “isms” are equal in kind. My point, in response to your examples, is that SOME are more benign, accessible, less reaction provoking, and plainly, more accurate terms that can be used in an umbrella charter. For example, “oldism” (discrimination against old people) would be less appropriate than “ageism,” because the latter includes discrimination against the young too. “Women’s rights” is less accurate/appropriate than “gender equality” and “gay rights” is less appropriate than “sexual equality.” It couldn’t be more obvious as to why that is when it comes to applying them to the *overall identity* of a group or even an individual. I think that this is the core point you continue to fail to grasp: an umbrella charter represents a core identity- an ideal, not one contextual battle. The time has come for activists to clean up their sloppy language. There is nothing to lose except their enslavement to the boomerang effect.

      Why she/you chose to highlight particular groups in the charter, to my mind, and via your explanation as best as I can tell, was for activist reasons. As Greta Christina and others have argued, aggressive reactionary activism has been a part of every successful activist’s endeavor in history. I don’t discount that. I only think that it is remiss as an *overall identity*. An *overall* ‘feminist identity’ for A+ represents an old school mentality that I see eventually going into the dustbin of rights movements: non-egalitarian macro frames that can never be applied as successfully/consistently as egalitarian frames can be, especially in the long term (because they only compensate one way). They are too vulnerable to social swinging as the stats for victimization change with the context. This can be easily eliminated.

      Be a feminist (when appropriate), fight for male victimization (when appropriate), support the rights of the gay community (when appropriate), talk about it all day, but help to prevent the perception of (and the tendency for) the overall identity of A+ as housing the kinds of activists that are willing to overlook victims in any category for their “greater agenda” (via the same kind of unbalanced activism as the AP article example that I posted), by choosing a non-polemic phrase for your actual *essential identity* (which is typically what an umbrella charter should do).

      If you think that key principles- especially those laid out in an ethical charter, can’t and/or wouldn’t tip people off to where a group’s dominant interests are when push comes to shove, then you underestimate the power of linguistic perception. You downplay the valid present and ever growing concerns of many thoughtful people to avoid unbalanced agendas when joining a social group. Increasingly, people will not sacrifice equal essential representation for the greater good of a smaller context, even semantically/categorically. Many, many people identify in essential terms and they know that identifying in non-essential terms is not defensible at some point- the essential point. This is even aside from your refusal to accept UNreasoned psychological/sociological effects as important (at NO cost to you- don’t fight evolution; use what we know about reactance to your favor).

      “…all of that is indeed true. As anyone who reads what we have actually written will already know”- Richard

      The whole point is that in my version, they don’t have to read nuanced details to know. With the status quo version, they do need to allay their fears, because they still have the unnecessary baggage of polemical semantics that is less accurate for essential identity. It also, regardless of etymology, makes it more likely to facilitate unbalanced internal agendas (i.e. per my previous purplism/rainbowism example). Status quo: inferior.

      Gender egalitarianism/equality is the most appropriate gender identity for individuals and groups, not feminism or MRA. I’m certain of it as I’m certain of essential equality itself. The cream has a tendency to rise to the top over time, even if not guaranteed. And, yeah, this is not merely a gender issue or even an A+ issue. Many victims of varying discrimination feel the same way. They recognize that expressing the heart of equality should be more essential than the indulgence of any activist group. It’s bigger than individuals and sub-groups.

      You may think I’m obsessing, but I’m approaching this like a lawyer and a founder over the long term and A+ is approaching it like a short-term activist. You still have not provided a reason to keep the status quo that is superior to the consequences of establishing the *group identity* in terms of non-contextual essential equality. Make your choice and atheists will enjoy or suffer the consequences, trivial or not. My case has been made here.

      Obviously, at the end of the day, we agree on most essential values, but disagree on the language appropriate for individual and group identity, as well as how that language affects activism and the community. I still prefer to see you as an ally, even if you do not. We’ll just have to see how these kinds of conversations affect the community over time and what methods prevail, if any.

    • says

      “You want me to abandon a word for advocating women’s rights”- Richard

      “Gender equality” does not abandon women’s rights AT ALL; it merely includes men’s/transgender rights more equally and efficiently.

      Notice how you dropped the word “word” in what I said and thus responded to something I totally did not say, and thus avoided responding to what I did say.

      This is what I’m talking about.

  48. andrewviceroy says

    We are…
    Atheists plus we care about social justice,
    Atheists plus we support gender equality,
    Atheists plus we protest racism,
    Atheists plus we fight sexual discrimination,
    Atheists plus we work against xenophobia,
    Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

    Sadly, my final addition does not appear to be true, but, I can dream.

    • says

      We already use generic terms like these in the general description of our values and goals. The list you are reconstructing is just a sample of the things those general principles entail, the very purpose of which is to be clear what sorts of things we are talking about, rather than more vague. For example, classism and ableism and poverty aren’t on that short list either, yet are elsewhere clearly articulated as the resulting interests from our core values.

      You are thus obsessing over trivia. Because you want to idolize one short list of examples as the entirety of our goals and values, a direct contradiction of what we everywhere argue as being the case. And you somehow think that one short list of examples denigrates everything not on that list and confuses people as to what else we support, which is illogical, since we elaborate in both directions everywhere else, both into the more generic phrases you like, and into the more specific ones you are actually obsessing over.

      This is a big complaint about nothing.

      Nevertheless, there is certainly nothing at all wrong with your saying that Atheism+ is:

      Atheists plus we care about social justice,
      Atheists plus we support gender equality,
      Atheists plus we protest racism,
      Atheists plus we fight sexual discrimination,
      Atheists plus we work against xenophobia,
      Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

      Because all of that is indeed true. As anyone who reads what we have actually written will already know.

  49. andrewviceroy says

    That’s “…let alone *cease to* assert itself when the opposite is true in individual contexts.”

  50. andrewviceroy says

    “Notice how you dropped the word “word” in what I said and thus responded to something I totally did not say, and thus avoided responding to what I did say. This is what I’m talking about”- Richard

    I honestly don’t understand your complaint here and was not trying to misrepresent your point to gain ground. I just copied and pasted the sentence (with the word “word” in it- I don’t see where it’s missing) and replied to what I thought was the crux of your argument. You said “abandon,” not me. I said “replace” “women’s rights” with “gender equality.” I think that’s clear. I honestly don’t understand how I misrepresented you. The issue is replacing the phrase. What am I missing?

    I HAVE addressed your rebuttals- ALL of them. Your argument from etymology: addressed (the ability of feminism to only counterbalance one way makes it an equivocation fallacy; also, “gender equality” means “gender equality” more than “women’s rights”/”feminism” mean “gender equality”). The argument that women’s rights is needed to address unbalanced local concerns within the atheism movement: addressed (“gender equality” is in NO WAY an abatement of women’s rights. Also, macro-awareness matters, male victims are not MRA, etc.). The suggestion that because “gay rights” is easier to promote perception wise, any polemical argument is therefore better than charter representations of more inclusive essential rights: addressed (every group has the potential for reverse bigotry and contextual ethical labels don’t cover the other side. My oldism/ ageism example shows why all the ‘isms’ are not equal *in kind*). I knocked down the strawman that I am trying to “stop the conversation.” Please clearly spell out EXACTLY what I have I NOT addressed.

    You, on the other hand, have not addressed these concerns:

    If “social justice” covers “men’s rights” adequately in the charter, then why doesn’t it cover “women’s rights” adequately? Considering men have more violence upon their gender, why put “women’s rights” in the header?

    Do or do not “women’s rights” and “gay rights” cover less areas of discrimination than “gender egalitarianism” and “sexual equality”?

    Why do you ignore the semantic consequences of reactance and in-group inclusiveness when gender neutral language would bring more people under the tent and allow A+ to teach more people via in-group motivation?

    Why, EXACTLY, is my charter inferior to the original? (If it is.)

    Last, I’d like to introduce a new concern: your tendency to represent group morality over the individual. The way you seem to banish and exonerate whole groups and ignore individuals in terms of unbalanced representation and ethics violations (one discrimination bad; the other not worth identifying- sorry kid)… is increasingly evidenced. This is sloppy activism.

    • says

      “Notice how you dropped the word “word” in what I said and thus responded to something I totally did not say, and thus avoided responding to what I did say. This is what I’m talking about”- Richard

      I honestly don’t understand your complaint here and was not trying to misrepresent your point to gain ground. I just copied and pasted the sentence (with the word “word” in it- I don’t see where it’s missing) and replied to what I thought was the crux of your argument.

      This is getting surreal.

      This is what I said:

      “You want me to abandon a word for advocating women’s rights”

      This is what you said:

      “Gender equality” does not abandon women’s rights AT ALL; it merely includes men’s/transgender rights more equally and efficiently.

      If you cannot see how the above statement in no way replies to anything I have ever said, much less the statement you are responding to, I can’t help you.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “This is getting surreal […] If you cannot see how the above statement in no way replies to anything I have ever said, much less the statement you are responding to, I can’t help you”-Richard

      Rather than answering clear questions and ending this dialogue, you play this evasive game of negative response. Do you agree that the phrase “gender equality” in place of “women’s rights” improves the charter, because it both represents the valid rights of way more victims than “women’s rights” does in just as many letters and still focuses on gender? Yes or no. I don’t care what you’ve said other than whether or not you agree with this.

      Semantics matters, because it defines the in-group moral commitment. It has a real effect. For example, being so committed to it that one can’t even bring themselves to explicitly admit (with a positive proposition) the fact that “gender equality” in the headers of a charter represents the valid rights of way more victims than “women’s rights” does in just as many letters.

      Welcome to the future of humanism: where the unbalanced representation in sub-group polemics is actually considered to be the language of essential equality and the actual language of essential equality is “surreal” and considered just as suspiciously as bigotry.

    • says

      Do you agree that the phrase “gender equality” in place of “women’s rights” improves the charter, because it both represents the valid rights of way more victims than “women’s rights” does in just as many letters and still focuses on gender?

      Your mistake is in assuming any of this has anything to do with “the charter.” The charter is the blanket statements we have made in blogs and elsewhere, which are already as general as you want. The list you are talking about is not “the charter” but examples of what we mean. And in that context, it would be worse to be even more vague. A list of examples should be less vague than the general statement of values, not more vague.

      The bottom line is that there is no way in which talking about feminism entails denigration of the rights of non-females, any more than talking about gay rights entails denigration of the rights of straight people. So what’s the problem with talking about those things? There is none. You are manufacturing controversy where none exists.

    • andrewviceroy says

      “Your mistake is in assuming any of this has anything to do with “the charter.” The charter is the blanket statements we have made in blogs and elsewhere, which are already as general as you want. The list you are talking about is not “the charter” but examples of what we mean. And in that context, it would be worse to be even more vague. A list of examples should be less vague than the general statement of values, not more vague”- Richard

      Well if it’s true that this is not an official charter, then that changes things. In Jen’s original post on this, she presented it as such though. Of course, these things should go through a refining process. That’s where I intended to come in. If this is honestly not a banner charter, then that weakens my argument considerably, relegating it to marketing concerns as they relate to the content of the blogs of the founders. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these statements, just that they are occasionally remiss. The language is still relevant though, as I still contest that “gender equality” is the superior gender identity badge, right down to the individual, in general.

      “The bottom line is that there is no way in which talking about feminism entails denigration of the rights of non-females, any more than talking about gay rights entails denigration of the rights of straight people. So what’s the problem with talking about those things? There is none. You are manufacturing controversy where none exists.”- Richard

      Again, I agree and re-emphasize that there is NO problem talking about these things in general. That is NOT controversial. What is controversial is polemics institutionalized as a banner individual or group identity that have the effect of belying victims in the same context (i.e. gender and sexuality). I’m not manufacturing controversy; I’m applying a laser-like focus on equality in language that is evidenced to have empirical value. Again, if this were not to be applied to an official charter, my concern would be diminished.

      Actually, I would go so far as to say that if you were to make a well designed charter with equality emphasized in the way I have presented it, I think it would be to your benefit to have such a finely tuned charter, rather than to not have one at all. What I would suggest for a charter would be neutral language at the top that EQUALLY trickles down to sub-documents referring to issues of differing genders/sexual preferences/etc. I don’t mean FALSE balance either (i.e. the ‘equal time’ fallacy); I mean an equal CATEGORICAL focus on genuine concerns as they pertain to essential values (immunized against unforeseen cultural shifts). I know that, for example, many women are surprised to hear how frequently males are molested before they are even 16 years old. I can’t imagine any thoughtful person of any gender not wanting those stats right next to women’s rape stats. Who is to say how much of a ‘popular’ concern this will be? They shift with events in the news.

      *Explicit* statements showing genuine empathy about ‘reverse’ bigotry in general would also go a long way in dispelling the salient experiences of so many people in every ‘minority’ discrimination camp. I’m going to make an assumption (and maybe someone like L. Galen or P. Zuckerman has documented it): atheists seem to have a higher tendency for contrarianism. Deliberate language to dispel that can only be a good thing. I think we can put this issue to rest now, even if you think there was none to begin with.

  51. Chance says

    “The bottom line is that there is no way in which talking about feminism entails denigration of the rights of non-females, any more than talking about gay rights entails denigration of the rights of straight people.”

    If we were labeling it “gayism” I’d probably take issue with it too. “ism”‘s are burdensome creatures that often leave their constituents shackled to whatever current they flow through. That said I see no problem calling myself a feminist because it says, “defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women,” right there in the definition (at least on wikipedia), and shows no sign of “denigrating the rights of non-females” as Carrier has said.

    But yeah, calling it feminism gives it a colloquial disadvantage in the same way calling LGBT equality “gayism” would: “isms” just don’t sit well with our culture. Even still I believe in atheism, humanism, feminism, and probably a few other ism’s not worth mentioning here, so I guess “ism”s aren’t scary enough for all of us.

    End of conversation. Nothing more needs to be said between you two (Andrew and Richard). Thanks.

    • andrewviceroy says

      Thanks Chance, good summary and points. I would re-emphasize though that the problem with the term “feminism” as an overall identity is not in what it defines (which is fine), but in what it doesn’t define. Also, as you pointed out, perception-wise, “ism”s do seem to have strong boundaries, while adding “rights” to something/someone does less so. This effect almost has nothing to do with the definition, but cultural in-group emotional demands.

      I think male victimization is terrible, but I would not identify with “masculinism,” even if this definition was the exact benign mirror version of “feminism” you mentioned in Wiki (i.e. not threatening to women by definition, but merely highlighting male victimization). That’s because, it’s still both remiss of women’s victimization in definition and still also has the psychological/reactance/polarization baggage too.

      For my part, the controversy lay in whether or not “feminist” is EVER a better identity choice than using something like “gender egalitarian.” I don’t mean to suggest banning words, especially not in academic contexts, but as a social device, it’s hard for me to see a situation where I WOULDN’T want to avoid reactance in my cultural competitor or under-represent unnecessarily. It would merely be me engaging my cruel and unproductive dark side to do so deliberately. But hey, maybe there are some people who only respond to that. IDK.

  52. Badgrammar says

    The real ‘plus’ side of atheism has to do with the advent of an atheistic religion- not the supporting of minority rights. Those at atheism plus don’t get this. Let me try another tack. Atheism proper is incapable of being a religion. Atheists, however can create an atheistic religion having an explanation for continuation beyond death that has nothing to do with the supernatural. This add-on ability is the real ‘plus’ factor. I recently joined the website and promptly quit when I realized how unschooled these people are. They have no idea what natural continuation could possibly mean- as in a direct opposite to supernatural continuation. They’ve never heard of Nietzsche and eternal return (recurrence) either. The moderators there are just as ignorant and actually swear at you, using the ‘f’ word to berate people. And to top it off, when you tell them that you’re leaving the site they try to convince those remaining that you were permanently banned. What a bunch of childish losers! Something really bad is coming their way.

    • says

      I will ignore all your whining and pathetic, narcissistic apocalypticism. I’ll pretend you wanted to actually make a sincere point.

      So with that in mind…

      Define “religion.” And do so in such a fashion that your definition is not a synonym of “philosophy.”

      Then we can start a conversation about what you mean by “religion” and whether there is anything good or bad about that.

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