Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness


Note: If you haven’t already read this FAQ about Atheism Plus, please read it before you comment on this post. It answers many of the most common concerns and most frequently asked questions about Atheism Plus. What with it being a FAQ and all.

Atheism plus logoIs Atheism Plus divisive?

Is it divisive to create a subset movement of atheism that focuses on atheism plus social justice — an “atheism plus” wave that explicitly focuses, not just on atheism, but on the intersections between atheism and racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other social justice issues? Externally in what issues we take on, and internally in how we deal with our own stuff? (Background here, for those who haven’t been following this.)

I’m going to say this right from the start: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

But if you don’t want to get involved with Atheism Plus — and you don’t want anyone else to, either? If you’re vociferously objecting to Atheism Plus and are actively trying to talk people out of it, because it’s “divisive,” because it will “weaken” the community and “splinter” us?

Listen up.

For the sake of clarity, the examples here will be focused on women, gender, and sexism — but the basic concept can be adapted to include people of color, trans people, poor people, working class people, the mentally ill, and other marginalized people. (Trigger warning for rape threats and other forms of threats and harassment, and for the dismissal of same.)

*

Face it. This community is already divided. And it is divided in a way that is making many, many women feel cut out. For a solid year, far too many women in this community — and especially feminist women — have been relentlessly subjected to a torrent of hatred, harassment, and abuse… and to a torrent of people ignoring this behavior, rationalizing it, trivializing it, or getting angry at us for even talking about it.

So why is it that forming a subset of atheism that prioritizes the inclusion of women, over the inclusion of hateful, misogynist assholes, is what’s being seen as “divisive”?

And why is it that actions and words that demean women, objectify us, inappropriately sexualize us, violate our privacy, and literally threaten us and make us unsafe, are not being called “divisive”?

Why is it “divisive” for some atheists to create one space in the world where we don’t have to deal with this shit? Why is that, when some atheists form a subset of the movement that’s dedicated, in part, to speaking and acting against these kinds of abuses, and to carving out a place in the movement where the people who perpetuate them are not welcome, it sends so many people into a frenzy of hand-wringing about “divisiveness”?

Why is Atheism Plus being seen a terrible threat to the cohesion of the movement… and yet a solid year of feminist women being subjected to actions and words that demean us, objectify us, inappropriately sexualize us, and literally threaten us and make us unsafe is not getting called “divisive”?

reddit screenshotA 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism, and got a flood of rape jokes in return. Why was that not “divisive”?

A leader of a major skeptical organization speculated on the causes of low female attendance at his conference… and blamed it on women who were speaking out about sexual harassment. Why was that not “divisive”?

A widely respected and beloved atheist celebrity publicly called a woman he disagreed with a cunt. And when this was brought up and criticized in an atheist blog, the comments were flooded with people defending him, and defending his use of the word. Why was that not “divisive”?

As part of a dispute about feminism, an atheist blogger and local atheist organization leader publicly posted Surly Amy’s address, with photos of the building. Why was that not “divisive”?

A popular atheist videoblogger deliberately tried to trigger a rape victim, by posting graphic threats of rape. Why was that not “divisive”?

A thread was posted on an atheist forum posing the question, “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick? Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.” Why was that not “divisive”?

The suggestion was made that atheist and skeptical conferences, like virtually every other conference in the world, should have sexual harassment policies and codes of conduct, because some women had had bad experiences at cons of sexual harassment and other assaults and invasive behavior. And it sparked a firestorm of controversy, in which the very idea of harassment policies at conferences was derided as unnecessary and repressive, and in which women advocating these policies were targeted with hatred, abuse, vilification, slander, invasion of privacy, and graphic threats of violence, rape, and death. Why was that not “divisive”?

When atheist women speak out about online threats and harassment, we routinely get told that we should shut up about it because it’s “feeding the trolls.” Why is that not “divisive”?

A female public figure in the atheist movement spoke about an incident where she was approached in an inappropriate time and place; said, “Guys, don’t do that”… and as a direct result, has been targeted with an unstoppable torrent of hatred, abuse, vilification, slander, and graphic threats of violence, rape, and death. A torrent that has lasted for over a year, and that continues to this day. And mentioning her name in any context starts the fight all over again. Why is that not “divisive”?

Southern Poverty Law Center logoA significant stream in the atheist movement — a minority, but not a trivial minority, and a very visible one — is actively devoted to driving feminists out of atheism. A significant stream in the atheist movement is allied with the Men’s Rights Activist movement: a movement that is being scrutinized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization that exposes and fights hate groups. And these atheists consistently use hateful MRA language and ideas in their ongoing harassment of women. Why is that not “divisive”?

The reality for prominent feminist women in the atheist movement is that harassment, hate, and threats have become routine. The reality is that, when an atheist targets me with a brutal, graphic threat of rape and sexualized death, directed personally at me by name — as happened just last week — my basic reaction is, “Oh, yeah. This again.” And this has an effect on women who aren’t public figures. I get emails and comments all the time from women who tell me, “I’m an atheist, I really want to be part of the atheist community and the atheist movement… but WTF? How can I possibly be part of this?” Every feminist atheist blogger I know gets these emails and comments. Why is that not “divisive”?

And the reality for me — a reality that makes me sick and sad, a reality that I can hardly bear to talk about — is that, as a public figure, the people I fear the most, the people I am most genuinely concerned about doing me physical harm, are not religious extremists. The people I fear most are other atheists. Why is that not “divisive”?

How is it that none of this is called “divisive”?

How is it that none of this is “divisive”… and yet Atheism Plus is somehow going to rip atheism apart and destroy it?

Like I said when I first wrote about this: There is no way for an atheist movement to be inclusive of everyone. An atheist movement cannot be inclusive of atheist women… and also be inclusive of people who publicly call women ugly, fat, sluts, whores, cunts, and worse; who persistently harass us; who deliberately invade our privacy and make our personal information public; and/or who routinely threaten us with grisly violence, rape, and death.

So why is it that forming a subset of the community that prioritizes the inclusion of women, over the inclusion of hateful, misogynist assholes, is what’s getting targeted as “divisive”?

And if you do see the last year’s misogynist horror show as divisive… and you still object to Atheism Plus, because it’s also divisive? If you’re asking, as many people have been, “Why do you have to form a new thing, a new subset? Why don’t you just kick the assholes who are now in atheism out of it?” Here is my question for you: How, precisely, do you propose doing that? We’ve been pushing back on the misogyny for a solid year. It’s not getting better. Or rather: it is getting better, we’ve done a lot of education and have made a lot of allies… but the misogynists have not stopped their campaign of hatred and harassment. How do you propose getting rid of them? And even if this could or should be accomplished: How is it that this would not be “divisive”… but forming our own subset of the movement with people who share our values and goals would be?

The people who are hand-wringing about how Atheism Plus is “divisive” are basically saying that they are entitled to me. They may not intend to say that — but that’s the upshot. They are saying that they are entitled to my work, my ideas, my fundraising efforts, my late nights, my grueling travel schedule, my passion, my exhaustion, my efforts to make atheism stronger and more visible. They are saying this about me… and about every other feminist woman in the movement, and every feminist man, and every feminist person who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They are saying, “If you want to be in this movement, it has to be on our terms. And if those terms means putting up with hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats and more… well, I guess those are the breaks.” And they are acting as if a group of people in the movement deciding that they get to choose who they work with, and deciding to form a subset of the movement with people who share their core values, is some sort of horrible betrayal.

Fuck that.

Atheism plus logoI said at the beginning, and I’ll say again: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

But I am sick to death of people calling me “divisive” for not wanting to work with people who despise me, who abuse me as a matter of routine, and who have been working for a solid year to drive me out of the movement. I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats, and more that women in this community are subjected to as a matter of course, or to the stubborn, hyper-skeptical, willfully ignorant defenses of those behaviors. I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the shit that motivated people to form Atheism Plus in the first place.

Comments

  1. mcbender says

    This is a brilliant post, Greta; I hadn’t thought about it quite this way, but that really is what they seem to be saying. Somehow your posts always seem to make partially-formed ideas crystallise in my head; thank you for continuing to do it.

  2. Chloe says

    Greta, thank you for bringing my attention to this project. I’d love to be a part of this, and I’m pretty sure my husband and some of our friends would be into it, too. The ideas you share with the world and your outspoken activism for atheist women are so encouraging. Thank you.

  3. says

    Being divisive isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    The way I see it, everything boils down to the fact that people matter.

    The universe doesn’t give a damn whether we’re alive let alone whether we’re happy. It’s hard enough to carve out a little sphere of happiness for yourself without having people deliberately trying to make it harder.

    There’s not enough joy in the world as it is, why on Earth would you try to make less joy?

    And frankly, if you’re the kind of person who wants to make people miserable then we’re better off without you.

  4. julian says

    But I am sick to death of people calling me “divisive” for not wanting to work with people who despise me, who abuse me as a matter of routine, and who have been working for a solid year to drive me out of the movement.

    QFT

  5. Leo says

    What bothers me with Atheism Plus is the false dilemma between “let sexism and racism run rampant” and “fight sexism and racism in the exact way the generalized social justice community promotes”.

  6. Fastthumbs says

    I concur. Another brilliant essay concisely and clearly summarizing ideas that were only half-formed in my own mind.

    And to those who belong to A* (Thankyou PZ Myers – for assigning the symbol to what is shaping up to be the antithesis of A+), you are getting what you want – driving away the feminists, progressives and humanists from your circles. Then again, perhaps the A* members are afraid of being marginalized into a tiny group of hate mongers no longer invited to the main party of Atheism? I do have an answer – go find another party such as the lovely people who attend the Westboro Baptist Church – A* has a lot in common with WBC.

  7. machintelligence says

    For some reason the MRA/misogynist diatribes always remind me of this:

    G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) is an exclusive club created by Calvin and Hobbes, with the primary purpose of excluding girls. Susie Derkins is frequently the target of the club’s activities.

    But they don’t seem to realize that the joke (if it was a joke) has gone stale.

    What seems more likely is that they are people with a juvenile sense of humor who think pissing people off is funny. They then wonder why they are despised and excluded.

    The above is giving them the benefit of a doubt. They may simply be vile human beings (using the term loosely.)

  8. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Bravo, Greta – way to hit the nail right on the head. Those bleating and screeching about how ‘divisive’ A+ is have no qualms about driving people away; that those who are sick of it are prepared to stand up and break what is apparently the unwritten rule of the atheist community – as a blogger you’re only allowed to point out when the religious do bad things – that they’ve really got a problem with.

    As I’ve said before, let’s leave the principle of infallibility to the religious.

  9. John Morales says

    This is an excellent and informative post, and I particularly like that it doesn’t mince words.

    (Bravo, Greta!)

  10. 'Tis Himself says

    Leo #8

    What bothers me with Atheism Plus is the false dilemma between “let sexism and racism run rampant” and “fight sexism and racism in the exact way the generalized social justice community promotes”.

    You need to define your terms. What is the “exact way the generalized social justice community” fighting sexism and racism? How is there a false dilemma between letting “sexism and racism run rampant” and fighting sexism and racism? How does all this bother you about Atheism+?

    Sorry, Leo, but your comment appears to be a non sequitur. If you have a problem with Atheism+, you need to be more specific.

  11. piegasm says

    #8 Leo

    What bothers me with Atheism Plus is the false dilemma between “let sexism and racism run rampant” and “fight sexism and racism in the exact way the generalized social justice community promotes”.

    Nobody has advocated that we must fight sexism in any exact way. In fact, it has been explicitly stated all over the place that the purpose of A+ is to have a space where we can discuss how to fight sexism and racism and that all anyone need agree upon at the start is that sexism and racism need to be fought.

  12. Peter says

    It saddens me to know how many deaf ears this is going to fall upon, as excellent as it is. Unfortunately too many atheists, it seems to me, are only atheists to help them “win” conversations. Atheism is their “team”. Atheism+ isn’t going to help them win more.

  13. says

    An interesting blog but I have a few points.

    for starters I really wish you folks would stop saying ‘the atheist movement’ once and for all. By all means say ‘an atheist movement’ or ‘our atheist movement’ but ‘THE atheist movement’ either implies atheism itself is a movement or that there is only one movement based on atheism.

    What concerns me about your blog is that you seem entirely in the dark about some of the issues people have with atheism+. Maybe it is the nature of blogging here, which frankly comes across as suffocatingly self-affirming from an outside perspective, so I would like to list three issues people have with atheism+ over and above the one you address here (and I hope you don’t object to me doing so as I do it in a bid to drive the debate forward, nothing else)

    1) Atheism+ looks and smells for all the world like something which, despite its name, is more a vehicle for a group of political ideologs to hang their causes on to (worthy though these causes generally seem to be) than actually about atheism. It is one thing to assert a positive position on gay rights or women’s rights at conferences and other meetings but if these are the things you are really interested in, and wish to promote, then attempting to drive them forward in the wider sphere under ‘atheism+’ smacks of using atheism as a badge of convenience.

    2) The whole enterprise appears fearfully flawed. The people whose minds you would wish to change on gay rights largely view atheism in a negative light; the people whose minds you wish to change in promoting atheism largely view gay rights in a negative light. Conflate atheism with these issues in their minds, make the association that pro-gay rights is the ‘atheist position’ and it is like using two antibiotics at the same time: the hope of anything getting through diminishes exponentially.

    3) For those of us for which our main concern focuses on religiosity itself, rather than these political concerns you are tacking on, what you are doing is almost unforgiveable. Had you chosen a name like ‘social atheism’ or ‘ethical atheism’ then this would not be such an issue. To quote another commenter on another blog post here:

    “Now you have chosen to take a word that I have used to describe myself for 40 years or so (and stick a + on the end)and make it mean member of some political movement.
    The average “woman in the street” is not going to understand the subtleties of “I am an atheist but not a Movement atheist”.”

    That sums up my sentiments most succinctly (something I have a long history of struggling to do!). This is probably no concern of yours, but some of us have already spent far more time than we would have liked putting people straight on the myriad things which atheism is not. How much harder is this going to become if your new concern gets off the ground?

    Those are the three concerns over and above divisiveness I see. there is a lot of strength of feeling on these issues outside of FtB and I ask, if you have the time, to watch the following video by CardinalVirtues (a man who has vocally backed up your calls for harassment policies at conferences etc) on pt2 above http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpQ5dThvWOI and my video dealing with points 1 and 3 above http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF3LHRgYwFU

    If you want my considered opinion, for what it is worth:
    1) Change the bloody name to something which more obviously differentiates this as a movement from simply ‘atheism’
    2) Debate amongst yourselves long and hard how much you push this in circles external to the atheist movements you function in. Internally this may offer you some utility but in the world outside you will ending up tarring your issues with the brush of atheism and vice versa.

    If you got this far i thank you for reading,
    take care,
    Jim (noelplum99)

  14. bjartefoshaug says

    Standing ovation!

    …if you don’t want to get involved with Atheism Plus — and you don’t want anyone else to, either? If you’re vociferously objecting to Atheism Plus and are actively trying to talk people out of it, because it’s “divisive,” because it will “weaken” the community and “splinter” us?

    Or, perhaps more to the point, if you actively oppose protecting women from predatory behaviour because it might interfere with your selfish desire to seek pleasure at women’s expense, then alienating scum like you is exactly what we want to do. I can’t think of a single benefit of “sticking together” that could possibly outweigh the cost sharing “The Movement” with the assholes who have turned it into such a loathsome, stinking sewage since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”.

    That having been said, there’s a difference between saying “You have to go” and saying “You can stay, but I’m leaving”. As Greta points out, it’s not as if I have a duty to be part of their movement no matter how disgusting their behavior. And this is where “Atheism plus” is more than just a relabeling of humanism (as understood and practiced by the established, traditionally male-dominated, humanist organizations) or any other pre-existing movement: We cannot force anyone to stop calling themselves “atheists” or “humanists” or “skeptics”, but nothing prevents us from deliberately adopting a new label that they wouldn’t want to adopt and organizing around that.

    Finally, to repeat a point I have made earlier, when our opponents whine about keeping politics and ideology out of skepticism/atheism, we should not let them get away with framing the most reactionary views imaginable as the “unpolitical”, “non-ideological” position.

  15. hoary puccoon says

    noelplum99 @17–

    Are you also telling the people who post rape threats, who delight in the most vicious misogynism, and who proudly call themselves atheists, that you don’t want *them* using your label? If not, why not?

    Because it seems pretty obvious that the rampant sexism that’s invaded the atheist community in the last year is handing people like Ken Ham a ready-made club to beat atheists with, on the order of, “See, if you give up faith in the literal truth of the holy book, there’s nothing to stop you becoming a rapist.”

    So, if you don’t want atheism polluted with extraneous issues, you need to take a good, hard look at who’s doing the polluting.

  16. maureen.brian says

    (W)hen our opponents whine about keeping politics and ideology out of skepticism/atheism, we should not let them get away with framing the most reactionary views imaginable as the “unpolitical”, “non-ideological” position.

    QFT

  17. says

    Atheism+ looks and smells for all the world like something which, despite its name, is more a vehicle for a group of political ideologs to hang their causes on to (worthy though these causes generally seem to be) than actually about atheism

    Why is it that I only see this sort of critique when the “political ideologies” concern feminism and social justice, and not when it concerns, say, opposing the teaching of creationism in public schools? Why isn’t it leveled against secularism itself, which is also a political position? I find in seriously mind boggling to see people who self-identify as secular humanists say that you shouldn’t mix atheism with political positions.

  18. Blitzgal says

    Jim, feminists have a phrase that we use when people like you try to claim that a group is required to choose one topic or another — that phrase is “both/and” (as opposed to your “either/or”). Progressives are capable of having more than one thought in their head at the same time. Nuance is not foreign to us. As Greta made explicitly clear in this post, if you are not interested in dealing with the political side of atheism and want to focus solely on the religious side, then you are free to continue going your own way. But what you will NOT do is dictate to the rest of us how we are going to participate in our movement.

    Greta, I want to take a moment to thank you profusely for having the courage to stand up against this onslaught of violent and hateful rhetoric. It takes real guts. You and Jen and everyone else who is working to make A+ a reality are awesome.

  19. says

    hoary puccoon @ post19

    It seems you have misunderstood my comment on a most fundamental level. If that is because I was not clear or thorough enough in what I wrote I apologise.

    Allow me to clarify myself for you but before I do let me make one thing clear:
    I have no time for the people who have posted such comments. I have seen them and they are vile in their content and, irrespective of whether it genuinely represents what they think or whether they are simply trolling with whatever they think will cut the deepest, causing hurt is unforgiveable and they are simply doing more harm to the perspectives they claim to champion than anything else.

    Ok, so now to clear up our misunderstanding. This is what you wrote (as if you would have forgotten already!):
    “Are you also telling the people who post rape threats, who delight in the most vicious misogynism, and who proudly call themselves atheists, that you don’t want *them* using your label? If not, why not?”

    The people who post rape threats are atheists: I have no problem with that. The most viscious right-wing racist bully boys can be atheists: I have no problem with that. The most extreme left-wing utra-communist suppressors of rights can be atheists: I have no problem with that.
    Anyone can be an atheist. there is no link between lack of belief in a deity and any of these political and cultural positions.

    I will take issue with these ‘rape threat mysogynists’ – and I mean BIGTIME i will take issue with them – if and when they start a movement that conflates their political positions with atheism. Maybe you are informing me I have missed something but as it stands you are asking me why i am not responding in kind to a group of people who have not started a badly named movement with a group who have, when my bones of contention is the movement and its name.
    Have i got that right?
    Make no mistake. Greta, Jen – hell, even the ever-so-lovely Richard Carrier are free to call themselves atheists and I would defend that right to the hilt.

    i hope that has clarified things,

    Jim (noelplum99)

  20. Blitzgal says

    “The most extreme left-wing utra-communist suppressors of rights can be atheists”

    Ah, silly me, I thought you were trying to have a sincere conversation here. Clearly you are not. But that’s totally cool. You’re fine with rapists saying they are atheists, but not feminists. When the feminists use the name, they sully it. You’re a peach, duder.

  21. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Everyone anticipating complete silence on any of these questions from the A+ haters, raise your hand.

  22. Peter says

    noelplum99@24:

    “I will take issue with these ‘rape threat mysogynists’ – and I mean BIGTIME i will take issue with them – if and when they start a movement that conflates their political positions with atheism.”

    Perhaps we want to BIGTIME take issue with them right now.

  23. says

    The people who are hand-wringing about how Atheism Plus is “divisive” are basically saying that they are entitled to me.

    This, so much.
    It’s the “Lie back and think of the movement, baby” attitude. Basically, my concerns are just not worth of noticing and how dare I use my time for the things I find important instead for the things you find important.

  24. says

    magicthinghs @22
    Maybe I have missed something here. This is the first time I can ever recall anything quite like this happening. I suppose the ‘new atheism’ label is the nearest thing i can think to bald-facedly co-opting ‘atheism’ but the situation there was almost entirely the reverse – repackaging something old as somehow ‘new’ (maybe Richard Dawkins was a new thing in the USA but I recall as a child, some 30 years ago my father pointing to RD on the telly and telling me what an outspoken opponent of religion he was). but guess what? i have spoken out repeatedly against the ‘new atheism’ label.

    “Why is it that I only see this sort of critique when the “political ideologies” concern feminism and social justice, and not when it concerns, say, opposing the teaching of creationism in public schools?”
    Please please, show me where this is happening, because if it is I am not happy. I happily subscribe to the modern evolutionary synthesis, as not only the best explanation but seemingly the only remotely feasible one for the diversity of life on earth, but if someone is starting a movement conflating atheism with evolutionary theory then it needs addressing (as it is i have spent way too much time pointing out that these two things are not synonymous.

    Blitzgal @23
    “Jim, feminists have a phrase that we use when people like you try to claim that a group is required to choose one topic or another”
    Blitzgal, boring nerdy pedantic bastards like me have a phrase for people like you who unwittingly (I hope) misportray them: you are wrong.
    Nowhere have I suggested that you cannot have more than one thought in your head (something which is not an ability limited to progressives btw). neither would I even suggest you restrict your cognitive faculties in such a way.
    BY ALL MEANS champion as many causes as you wish, all i did was raise to greta the further concerns that people, including myself have:
    1) Don’t choose a name that conflates those causes with a well-established label just to serve your political agenda (please)
    2) Consider that, in some circumstances, bringing these causes together too explicitly may, in fact, jeopardise your ability to make progress on any of them.

    Quite how this amounts to ‘dictating’ what you can and cannot do I do not know.
    Really, believe me when I say that if you want to sell gay rights under the banner of atheism crack on with it. Just let me know how you get on.

    PS: You might not like my input here but you should value it. As someone who vlogs on YT I can tell you that 200 comments telling me what a great video I have made and how awesome my opinions are from 200 individuals, whom I know share my perspective, is not nearly as useful as half a dozen comments critical of what i am saying.

  25. says

    Atheism+ is the push to fix the one of the atheist movement’s missing stairs. The pushback seems to fall entirely into “there is no missing stair”, “why should we fix the stair”, and “insisting that we bring our house up to code is divisive” camps.

  26. simonsays says

    We’ve been pushing back on the misogyny for a solid year. It’s not getting better. Or rather: it is getting better, we’ve done a lot of education and have made a lot of allies… but the misogynists have not stopped their campaign of hatred and harassment. How do you propose getting rid of them?

    Obviously this not much of a consolation, but the misogynists will be around for the foreseeable future, just like they were around before they became noticeable. They did not form their opinions overnight. Given that strong and outspoken feminists are anathema to them, the more prominent women we get, the more interest from misogynists we’ll attract.

    IMO What can be done is to minimize their efforts within the movement and to understand that we are dealing with haters and all that this entails. So groups like the SPLC are a great resource.

    Unfortunately (again not much consolation), the MRA’s in their present form are a fairly new species that is a product of the internet and apparently mostly secular. Which means there is no “playbook” on dealing with them that I have been able to find-unlike say, skinheads. This means many different approaches will have to be taken against them by us-some more successful than others.

  27. Peter says

    “PS: You might not like my input here but you should value it.”

    It’s not about you.

    If your contribution is valuable it will stand without you having to sell it. If your contribution isn’t valuable trying to sell it like that will just come off as whiny and demanding. Telling other people what they should value isn’t going to fly. And again, it’s not about you. This isn’t the “Jim proves he’s right” thread. That’s what your youtube channel is for.

  28. says

    Blitzgal @25
    You wrote:”“The most extreme left-wing utra-communist suppressors of rights can be atheists”
    ……. You’re fine with rapists saying they are atheists, but not feminists. When the feminists use the name, they sully it. You’re a peach, duder.”

    You have got to be pulling my leg here. I make a post saying that I have no problem with ANYONE all the way from the far right to the far left calling themselves atheists and you read into that that I an NOT fine with feminists labelling themselves as atheists.
    How do I respond to that? How more explicit could I have been?
    Feminists, however moderate or extreme can use the term ‘atheist’ and apply it to themselves as liberally as they wish. The issue of ‘sullying the term’ is an irrelevance, if you are an atheist you are an atheist. What I object to is a deliberate attempt to conflate ANY political position with atheism such as when jen McCreight talks of A+ as ‘third wave atheism’ or endorses the statement that ‘social justive issues are a logical consequence of atheism’.

    By all means pull me to pieces and kick my ass off FtB with my tail between my legs but at least make the effort attack me on what i said and not on the diametric opposite ffs!

  29. hoary puccoon says

    noelplum99 @24–

    Yes, I did misunderstand your post. What I am understanding now is that you don’t care how vile atheists are as long as they don’t start a group labeled atheist plus something else.

    I must say, I’m skeptical of your motives, though. Interest subgroups split off from movements all the time. Have you been protesting the atheist knitting group? The atheist groups for helping alcoholics? Or is your protest largely because you don’t agree with the goals of atheism+, and you’ve come up with a legalistic excuse to object?

  30. says

    @noelplum99:

    Do you realize what “+” is a symbol for, right? “3 + 4″ doesn’t imply that the number four is contained within the number 3. It implies that you are ADDING 4 TO IT. 3 + 4 is what you get when you have 3 of a thing and you add 4 of a thing to it.

    Atheism+ is atheism *plus* these other things. It is atheism AND ALSO these other things. Nowhere is anyone sullying your vaunted atheist conceptual purity. They’re saying they want a movement that includes but is not limited to atheism. How is this hard to get?

  31. says

    peter @32

    “This isn’t the “Jim proves he’s right” thread. That’s what your youtube channel is for.”
    That was good. Never say I don’t have a sense of humour because the sarcasm there made me laugh out loud.
    You probably have a point. i just got the sense in a couple of the comments more along the lines of ‘go away, disagreeing person’ rather than ‘this is where you are wrong’. I expect a good hiding here, no problem with that :)

  32. tiny says

    It’s not being called “divisive” because the people who define what “devisive” means in this instant, are people who share the anti-minority, anti-women ideas, but want to condone them without getting dirt on their hands. They’re the silent cheerleaders who reject taking responsibility for their views but still want to see them pushed.
    They are privileged and use that to definine the terms, make the rules and enforce them.

    The fact that we are creating a sub-group now that doesn’t accept the asshole’s privileges, rules and sanctions, is a threat to them. It undermines their privilege and power, it puts them in the outsider position, it makes them the ones who are evaluated, judged, sanctioned. They can’t have that.

    So, “That’s divisive!” actually means: “That’s creating a rift between me and my privilege!”

    I love the idea of Atheism+ and I’m happy that ‘we’ are slowly taking an ‘official’ shape, negotiating our common identity, our direction, our goals. And that’s coming from a person who despises and fears everything ‘group’.
    Somehow it makes me feel safe that cool, rational, open, heartfelt people like you, Jen McCreight, Michael Nugent and PZ are the the ones who are going to ‘dominate’ this movement, and not those who write the hateful comments.
    I trust you, to be more interested in achieving our common goals than in always being right. I trust you to be skeptical towards yourselves. I trust you to want something that goes beyond your own ego.

    To me, A+ has a bit of a taste of liberation. Like stepping out of putrid mud and taking a very long shower :)))

  33. says

    I better make these the last replies for a while, both so it doesn’t look like I am spamming and also becuase the housework needs doing!

    hoary puccoon @34
    “Have you been protesting the atheist knitting group?”
    i didn’t know there was one but if that is their name I find it inconcievable that the average person on the street would assume from such a moniker that knitting is an integral part of atheism.

    I understand you mistrust me but i don’t really know there is too much I can do about that. I am a firm advocate that all peoples should be judged according on their own merits and demerits, on their strengths and weaknesses and not by the average characteristics of any group to which they belong (and that includes skin colour, gender, sex, orientation etc etc).

    researchtobedone @35
    “Atheism+ is atheism *plus* these other things.”
    I do understand that. However, it doesn’t tally with many of the statements that have been made and, more importantly, is simply insufficient as a differentiator.
    I bring you back to the quote I referenced on my original post:
    ““Now you have chosen to take a word that I have used to describe myself for 40 years or so (and stick a + on the end)and make it mean member of some political movement.
    The average “woman in the street” is not going to understand the subtleties of “I am an atheist but not a Movement atheist”.””
    I would also point out the exchange I had with Martin Wagner, the FtBlogger (with the atheist experience blog)which i mentioned in my video on atheism+. I pointed out to martin my concern that these political issues will become conflated with plain atheism (or ‘atheism’ as i like to call it) and, unlike you, he didn’t claim that the average guy in the street will immediately realise the plus sign will indicate a whole slew of additional political baggage. Instead he accepted my point with the comment ‘……it’s a good thing to create an association is people’s minds between being atheist and being in favor of social justice’.

    Ok, retiring from the thread for now :)
    take care,
    jim (noelplum99)

  34. says

    “unlike you, he didn’t claim that the average guy in the street will immediately realise the plus sign will indicate a whole slew of additional political baggage.”

    Sigh, nothing like starting your day with being told you said something you never said.

  35. Sara K. says

    “So why is it that forming a subset of atheism that prioritizes the inclusion of women, over the inclusion of hateful, misogynist assholes, is what’s being seen as ‘divisive’?”

    Greta, you already know the answer, but I’ll spell it out anyway: privilege.

  36. says

    Is people’s problem with atheism+ really as simple as, “Why didn’t you get your best movement-naming scientists on this and come up with a perfectly concise, wholly unambiguous name!”

    I tend to think a person encountering atheism+ on the street would assume they didn’t know what it meant, which is fine by me. Because ideally then people will ask.

    In a similar vein I’ve considered calling myself a zetetic instead of a skeptic, because I’m tired of people assuming that skeptic means you doubt the truth of very proposition ever regardless of context (e.g. getting questions like, “If you’re a skeptic, shouldn’t you be skeptical of your skepticism?”). Zetetic really seems a more precise and accurate word. Also, in practice, at least people know they don’t know what zetetic means, and then you get to explain so they get it right and you don’t waste time addressing misconceptions. Skeptic is more generally accepted and understood, but zetetic carries fewer misconceptions. This is a long way of saying all names have issues, and if the biggest issue with atheism+ is ambiguity, I’m not sure we’re really doing any worse than when we decided to use the term “skeptic” for the skeptic movement.

  37. Onamission5 says

    Thank you Greta. Mind if I link back to this by way of refuting the divisiveness horn tooters in the future? You said it much better than I am able to myself in the heat of the moment.

  38. vel says

    I’m quite happy not to be associated with atheists who are twits. IMO, atheism is indeed just the lack of belief in theistic nonsense. However, to live in this world and to survive as a species, we need to have the basic values that Atheism + advocates. I’d agree that atheism is not a “movement” since it has no movement at all, nothing about it says “go forward”, nothing says “change”. However, atheists that state values based on their view that there needs to be community and equality in this world is a movement. That’s “atheism +” e.g. plus, the connotations are there: positive, beneficial etc. I’m proud of both aspects and one feeds the other. Atheism may also feed into the beliefs of those who hate women, gays, etc. They can call themsselves what they want too. But I think that’s going to be a harder sell and wouldn’t be “plus” at all.

    Jim seems to want to abandon anything that isn’t “perfect”. That is a problem. Nothing is perfect. So what that people might view things in a negative light? If they aren’t shown that they are wrong, nothing will ever change their mind if we don’t do something. Religiosity *is* a political concern, just as much as equal rights are. It’s religiosity that gives most of the power to idiots who want no one to have equal rights and all of those other political concerns you would try to seperate from that.

    I’ve been on two antibiotics at the same time. So I don’t see any validity in your analogy. You have yet to show that your predictions of doom will come true or have come true. I’ve seen the same arguments from other “gradualists” who want, for whatever reason, to take a stand that will cause change. Don’t dare ask for equal rights, just wait til they at least don’t mind black people being around. I see this attempt to play on fear to be a rather poor attempt, but an attempt none the less, to try to dictate the actions of others.

    I’m also comfortable in thinking that Jim would have just as much problem with calling “atheist +” the things that s/he said would be no problem, like “ethtical atheism” or “social atheism” since that also demonstrates that atheism of itself still doesn’t do anything. Being against religion is fine but *why* are you against religion, Jim?

    “I will take issue with these ‘rape threat mysogynists’ – and I mean BIGTIME i will take issue with them – if and when they start a movement that conflates their political positions with atheism.”

    It seems that as long as they don’t claim to be “atheists who base their beliefs about women on their atheism”, you’ll be okay with it. Well, Jim, they already have claimed to be atheists and have conflated their political positions e.g. hatreds of various groups, with atheism by trying to stake out the position that it’s perfectly fine to be misgynistic and an atheist just like Christians have by saying it’s perfectly okay to a Christian and misogynistic. You seem to be excusing yourself from doing anything as long as you can say “but but they don’t have a “movement”.” You might have no problem with being equated with such people, indeed you may agree with them. And that’s your choice. I don’t, and I think that “plus” is quite distinctive enough. Call yourself an “atheist”, that’s fine. If people are unwilling to see the distinction, the logo, the extra letters, etc, then calling it another name will still elict the same excuses.

    I also don’t automatically value your opinion just because you put it out there and demand that I “value it”. Just because someone is “critical” sure doesn’t mean that they are right in any way. That’s a rather bad argument to make.

  39. Anonymous says

    I don’t want to defend Penn Jilette’s views, however on one episode of his Sunday School podcast, he mentioned that he is a friend of the woman who wrote the article upon which he made that comment. The comment was intended to be a private joke between the two of them, but it did not stay private. When taken out of context the comment seems terribly misogynistic, but that was not its original context.

  40. davidmc says

    Quick cancel Atheism+ everyone

    “…but some of us have already spent far more time than we would have liked putting people straight on the myriad things which atheism is not. How much harder is this going to become if your new concern gets off the ground?”

    It’s going to make poor old noelplum99’s life sooooooooooo much harder.

  41. says

    Please please, show me where this is happening, because if it is I am not happy

    You do not think the atheist movement as a whole is opposed to creationism being taught in public schools?

    but if someone is starting a movement conflating atheism with evolutionary theory then it needs addressing

    Again, nobody is conflating anything with atheism, the fact that this is a response to other atheists not sharing for instance a social justice agenda or being misogynists or just horrible trolls pretty much proves that. It is the exact opposite of conflating atheism with issues like social justice, opposing discrimination, sexism, racism, etc.

  42. says

    I suppose the ‘new atheism’ label is the nearest thing i can think to bald-facedly co-opting ‘atheism’ but the situation there was almost entirely the reverse – repackaging something old as somehow ‘new’ (maybe Richard Dawkins was a new thing in the USA but I recall as a child, some 30 years ago my father pointing to RD on the telly and telling me what an outspoken opponent of religion he was). but guess what? i have spoken out repeatedly against the ‘new atheism’ label.

    Well, there’s your problem. No one is “co-opting” anything. We’re atheists, all of us. We’re atheist activists, all of us. You don’t get to hoard the label. Time to learn to share.

  43. Sassafras says

    Awesome post, Greta!

    Another thing about the “don’t conflate atheism with political idealogy” thing: Sexist atheists already do this frequently, when they declare “feminism has become another religion, with irrational dogma!” They just don’t have the decency to start a group, they want to fold sexism right into the definition of atheism.

  44. opposablethumbs says

    Blinding post, Greta – thank you for always saying so clearly what needs to be said.
    .
    Insofar as the atheist movement is a movement, it is one by virtue of trying to achieve concrete things in the real world: to stop religious influences from poisoning education, for example, or to stop them from putting unbelievers in prison or lobbying for laws restricting women’s rights. If the atheist movement doesn’t do these things – if it isn’t political with a lower-case p, in other words – then what’s the point of it?

    If religion were a purely private, personal matter that affected no-one else, it wouldn’t be a problem – it would exist, but it would be an irrelevance. If atheism is no more than a dictionary definition, the state of not believing in any deities, then it exists (and has the value of being correct) but it’s an irrelevance in the public sphere.

    And insofar as anybody is giving their time and effort to activities in the public sphere, why should they do so alongside misogynistic, racist or homophobic arseholes when they can do so alongside decent human beings instead?

  45. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Thank you so very, very, very much. These people who are insisting that I’m not allowed to take part in A+, that I am required to stay in a group where I am relentlessly abused are acting like they own me and can dictate my time and energy, as in reality it is time and energy they own. They insist that I have no right to be overwhelmed by misogyny, no right to put my mental health and well-being first because I am some kind of possession for them to use as they will.

    As you said, fuck that.

  46. says

    I have a question for all of the people yelling “atheism doesn’t address [x]!”: What do you talk about at your local atheist groups?

    When somebody wants to chat about the weather, do you shut them down with “atheism doesn’t address meteorology!”

    If somebody asks how your day is going, do you shut them down with “atheism doesn’t address interpersonal relationships!”

    Really, do you understand that the word ‘atheist’ is an adjective? If I call myself an atheist knitter, I am not conflating atheism with knitting. Hell, if I ran an organization called Atheist Knitters®, I still wouldn’t be conflating the terms.

    The same is true if I call myself an atheist feminist or if I call myself an Atheist Plus.

    Even if I call myself an Atheist Plus specifically to address social issues that exist within my atheist communities, I am not conflating the atheism with the plus. I can address the social issues and I can address the atheist issues, and I can do both at the exact same time, and it still isn’t a threat to your enshrined Dictionary Atheism.

    But really, this is all an aside, because if you hear about the misogyny and sexism going on in the atheist movement, and your reaction is to fight for the purity of atheism, then I would prefer that you did your own thing, anyway.

  47. Ray Moscow says

    I find it hard to understand most of this criticism of ‘A+’. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to participate.

    As to it being ‘divisive’, I agree with Greta that the dividing lines have already been drawn the last year or so.

    Oh, wait, I’m a white straight male, so I’m supposed to say, ‘I don’t see any need for A+, because feminazis/RW/FtBullies/I didn’t think of it/I’ve never been harrassed and neither have my friends/I’m a feminist, too/atheism is not a political position/it’s just like a religion/Richard Carrier said mean things/you’re just making mountains out of molehills/PZ fired Thunderfoot for disagreeing with him/it’s just like the goddamn Stasi/inquisition/witch hunts/men are also oppressed.’ [/snark]

  48. says

    1) Don’t choose a name that conflates those causes with a well-established label just to serve your political agenda (please)

    Noted and rejected.

    First, Atheism+ and atheism are two different labels as can be plainly seen by, I don’t know, looking at them. :/

    Secondly, why should I give a damn what you want? Seriously. Who are you to tell me, and others, what to do or not do?

    2) Consider that, in some circumstances, bringing these causes together too explicitly may, in fact, jeopardise your ability to make progress on any of them.

    Citation fucking needed!

    In some circumstances, my being male may, in fact, jeopardise my ability to make progress on many issues. Does that mean I should give up? Not try?

    At the moment, As I understand it thus far, A+ is an attempt to create a safe space to discuss social issues and what we, as a community, can do about it. You are telling us “You can’t do that because…”. Well, I reject that opinion. What of it? :P

    Quite how this amounts to ‘dictating’ what you can and cannot do I do not know.
    Really, believe me when I say that if you want to sell gay rights under the banner of atheism crack on with it. Just let me know how you get on.

    Your first point, labeled 1) above IN YOUR OWN comment, would seem to be evidence to the contrary.

    PS: You might not like my input here but you should value it. As someone who vlogs on YT I can tell you that 200 comments telling me what a great video I have made and how awesome my opinions are from 200 individuals, whom I know share my perspective, is not nearly as useful as half a dozen comments critical of what i am saying.

    Argumentum ad verecundiam? Really? And your authority is 200 comments on some vlog on the internet? Whoop de do.

  49. Mattir says

    Actually, noelplum99, knitting IS an integral part of atheism. You obviously aren’t a Real Atheist™.

  50. julian says

    Can’t we please not taunt one another? This is hard enough wihtout provoking one another with derision. You may not care if these people come to see you as right but if we want strawmen to stop driving everyone’s understanding of our position(s) we’re going to have to give them their say. When someone is at leaswt politely and ernestly voicing their objections to a “movement” or political group lay off the hostility. Giving their points the most favorable reading makes it easier to argue your position.

  51. astro says

    Noelplum99 said

    “-there is no link between lack of belief in a deity and any of these political and cultural positions.-”

    Then you haven’t been paying attention dude.

  52. Dantalion says

    I personally prefer to (and will) keep my activism focused on more traditional atheist issues (biblical criticism and counter-apologetics). Mostly because I don’t think those battles are over, but not least because I think the most effective single thing a person can do to chip away at patriarchy is to chip away at the god of Abraham.

    But I understand what y’all are trying to do here, and just wanted to say, I completely support the goals and methods of A+.

  53. Sili says

    Martin Luther King was “divisive“.

    Atheism in itself is divisive. What could be more divisive than to tell the majority that their favourite invisible friend doesn’t exist?

  54. hoary puccoon says

    julian @59–

    I have seen the most toxic trolls treated with patient, good manners here at FtB– over and over again. And, over and over again, they’ve been shown up to be just JAQing off.

    I have seen blog hosts and commenters put up with variations on the comment, “You don’t have a right to feel that way”– which is just a variation of “Shut up. When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you”– long, LONG, after it was obvious to me that the “you don’t have a right to feel that way” commenter was a malicious bully.

    I have seen the “just a polite request for coffee” meme over and over. And I’ve seen, over and over, people patiently explaining that asking a woman to go alone with you to your hotel room at 4:00 am is not the best way to make her think you’re interested in coffee.

    So, if you are really interested in people not taunting one another, please make sure you are addressing *all* of the people who are doing the taunting, and not just one side alone.

  55. Ganner says

    I’d like to reply to Jim:

    I do understand what you’re saying but I have two responses to it. First, atheism is big enough to have different groups pushing different political ideas without those ideas defining all atheism. Ayn Rand was an atheist, and a minority of atheists today identify with objectivist libertarianism. I don’t get angry at them for attaching atheism into a larger philosophy – I just disagree with them and argue as such when it’s relevant. Second, if some of our ideas do start to get attached to atheism because we’re so successful at drawing the majority of atheists to our ideas then… well, I don’t have a problem with that. It would just mean that we’ve taken to applying reason and skepticism to ideas and convinced people to adopt them. As others have said, ideas like supporting science education, promoting gay rights, and protecting freedom of speech are all already attached to atheism at large. If something else convinces the movement at large that it’s worth supporting, then so be it.

  56. Ganner says

    Greta – this was awesome, you’re awesome. I think you are the best written communicator that I have read among the atheist bloggers. You have a way of conveying ideas so powerfully, so precisely, in a way that just connects with people. Basically… rock on you!

  57. sware says

    ***BravoCheers&StandingOvation!!!***

    “I get emails and comments all the time from women who tell me, “I’m an atheist, I really want to be part of the atheist community and the atheist movement… but WTF? How can I possibly be part of this?””

    I haven’t emailed you, but that minor detail aside; this is precisely the camp I’ve been in for a while as I’ve seen all this BS going on. I can scarcely put into words how much I appreciate the basic premise of A+. This post couldn’t possibly make it any clearer. If anyone still doesn’t get it at this point then I’d say, let ‘em go & let’s move on.

  58. PeeGee says

    Maybe they’re calling it “divisive” because you’re attempting to build something similar to that of a cult, with likeminded people and damn those that don’t? And if that characterisation is wrong to you, then just read what Jen McCreight herself defined it as. Atheism PLUS for social justice, atheism PLUS for women’s rights, atheism PLUS against racism – meaning that regular atheists who do not ascribe to this new “third wave of atheism” or clique are against or for these things you support or object to.

    Maybe they’re calling it “divisive” because you’re attempting to turn atheism into an ideology?

  59. opposablethumbs says

    PeeGee, did you actually read the OP? Your “damn those that don’t” is almost diametrically opposed to what Greta actually said.

  60. Randomfactor says

    Had you chosen a name like ‘social atheism’ or ‘ethical atheism’ then this would not be such an issue.

    Am I wrong that this objection could be simply answered by calling it “+Atheism” rather “Atheism+”? Maybe it’s all about alphabetical order and who comes first in the directory?

  61. moarscienceplz says

    “You can’t explain to toddlers why they can’t sit at the big people’s table.

    astro FTW!!!!1111!!!!1111!

  62. segfaultvicta says

    PeeGee: More like recognising elements of ethical thought which, for anyone with a working conscience, naturally follows from the premises, and self-identifying to provide a safe space to discuss and work towards implementation of such ethical thought. If you’re not actually in favour of social justice, women’s rights, and the eradication of racism and abuse of privilege, like has been said over and over: feel free to not call yourself an A+, but at the same time, recognise the precise isomorphism between “I am actively against social justice” and “I am an asshole”.

    If you have questions about social justice, or if you’re not convinced, or if you’re not sure you agree with methodology, that’s a different story; Atheism+ can still probably provide you with resources and maybe change your mind. I hope! But you can still identify as a garden-variety atheist, and not out yourself as an asshole. Actively aligning yourself -against- Atheism+, though – there’s really only one way that can be taken, right?

  63. mnb0 says

    I don’t care about names and labeling. Atheism+, secular humanism, it’s all fine with me. Semantic debates about subtle differences leave me cold.
    I embrace social justice and that includes equal rights for all minorities and women. That’s enough for me.

  64. says

    Ye Olde Blacksmith – Spocktopus cuddler @55

    First, Atheism+ and atheism are two different labels as can be plainly seen by, I don’t know, looking at them. :/

    Clearly many amongst your number disagree with you and admit the potential for confusion – it is just that they aren’t bothered about it in the way I am.
    If you feel that adding a plus sign on the end makes it clear that this refers to additional perspectives on political issues, as opposed to a stonger form of atheism, or another name for anti-theism; if you feel that there is no chance that anyone will simply not notice that the spokesperson they are listening to on the tv is there under the banner of atheism+ and that animal rights is not actually a tenet of atheism – if that is your perspective there is probably nothing I can say.
    However, what i will say is what i came here to say, which was to detail the other objections people are expressing so that you know and don’t think it is *just* divisiveness.

    ” 2) Consider that, in some circumstances, bringing these causes together too explicitly may, in fact, jeopardise your ability to make progress on any of them.

    Citation fucking needed!

    In some circumstances, my being male may, in fact, jeopardise my ability to make progress on many issues. Does that mean I should give up?”

    And your citation is where?

    Let me ask you a question. It is often asserted that one of the barriers to acceptance of evolution amongst those that don’t is its association as ‘atheistic’, something which people like Ken Miller, of course, go to great lengths to challenge.
    So are you happy with that or is a citation needed there as well?
    If not, what aspect of my assertion that perhaps associating gay rights more openly and specifically with atheism may also lead people to regard it as ‘atheistic’ and less inclined to accept it are you not prepared to accept short of a substantial peer-reviewed study?

    Please bear in mind, just as Dawkins couldn’t give a crap if he makes it harder for some theists to accept evolution, I fully accept if you folks don’t give a crap either.

    yours,
    jim (noelplum99)

  65. Matt says

    I am a gay man and a life long atheist raised by atheist and I want nothing to do with Atheism Plus.

  66. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Maybe they’re calling it “divisive” because you’re attempting to build something similar to that of a cult, with likeminded people and damn those that don’t?

    So, in your world, ‘cult’ means ‘people who are sick of being attacked by whiny ass bigots’? That about right?

    Maybe they’re calling it “divisive” because you’re attempting to turn atheism into an ideology?

    Maybe “they” should stop whining and read what’s actually being posted. This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV. This doesn’t mean anyone who doesn’t claim the label disagrees with those goals. It could mean that, but it could also mean that such people don’t wish to address social justice in that way. As was already said – that’s fine.

    The only people claiming that those involved in A+ are saying absolutely everyone who isn’t involved are bad people and horrible bigots are on the outside, desperately searching for a reason to complain.

    The very clear and obvious fact that no small amount of the whining about A+ comes from known bigots is not A+’s fault, but should give others pause to consider with whom they’re throwing their hat in the ring. If you agree on social justice issues, but don’t want to join, no probs. If you don’t agree on social issues, then why bother us? Go away and do whatever you want.

  67. 'Tis Himself says

    noelplum99

    Please use <blockquote> or italics or some other method to show that you’re quoting someone. It’ll make your posts much easier to read and comprehend. My 12th Grade English teacher used to say “if you make something difficult to read then people won’t read it.”

  68. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    What’s really happening here, I think, is that people are being asked to take a hard look at themselves. Sexism, racism etc., are hard things to change. Most of us have some elements of them in our behavior that pop out from time to time. I know that for me trying to learn not use the word cunt is something that is hard. For many years it was a great invective but the more I have thought about it, I see why it is wrong, I agree that it is wrong, and I’m actively trying to wean myself from using it. That’s what you do if you care about feminism. It’s not easy but it’s the of commitment that A+ asks, and I don’t think that that is a ridiculous requirement for inclusion. The Ah*les, however, would rather use rationalization to argue that it’s a matter of free expression, and tolerance (and that A+ is the REAL BIGOTRY) rather than confront their own misogynist tendencies. It’s an understandable reaction to an uncomfortable truth, but it doesn’t make their argument any more right, or their cries of STALINISM!!1! any less ridiculous. I think a cleansing of the atheist movement to remove these reprehensible and intolerant attitudes has been long overdue, and I think that extending the focus of the movement to include more political stances on equality is an undeniably welcome change.

  69. Blitzgal says

    Uncle Ebeneezer, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Some people get immediately defensive and angry when they are asked to acknowledge their privilege. But being able to admit your privilege is not an accusation that you are a bad person, which seems to be how these folks interpret it. For instance, as a heterosexual white American woman, I know I have privilege, on more than one level. I can acknowledge that and let it inform how I go through life. It’s not an accusation that I’m evil or bad.

  70. Cynickal says

    I was really excited about this!
    Yay! Atheism + moar cat pics!

    I am disappoint.

    Seriously though, we need this. When the existing atheist community marginalizes a significant portion of the population we need to create an inclusive community where justice and egalitarian ideas can grow.

  71. says

    Stephanie Zvan @48
    “You don’t get to hoard the label. Time to learn to share.”

    I don’t hoard the label. I have conducted my ‘activism’ (such as it is, I really just like arguing with religious people, I couldn’t give two hoots if they lose their faith or not)for about four years alongside atheist vloggers who have operated on platforms also championing a huge variety of social causes.

    I can tell you there is no aspect of who or what you are, or what you believe that I would wish to hoard the label ‘atheist’ away from or deny you full and open usage of. None at all….. unless you are a theist, obviously!
    What I cannot fathom is that there is a fundamental difference between openly being an atheist and having political views on something and trying to conflate the two in a way which misleads and confuses. I know people keep saying ‘ahh, but there is no confusion…. look at the plus sign!’ but then I read comments like this is ‘the third wave of atheism’, ‘redefining atheism’ and social justice is ‘a logical consequence of atheism’ and if this kind of talk isn’t conflating the two then I don’t really know what is.

    yours,
    Jim (noelplum99)

  72. Jefrir says

    noelplum99

    This is probably no concern of yours, but some of us have already spent far more time than we would have liked putting people straight on the myriad things which atheism is not. How much harder is this going to become if your new concern gets off the ground?

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all? Is it so very terrible if someone assumes that you are a decent human being?

  73. Beth Hedrick says

    Sounds grand to some maybe in theory (once it is exactly figured out as for what the + stands for) but it raises some questions for me. Who decides who is allowed to carry the A+? Who is to stop anyone from saying they are? Really, how is this going to stop bad behavior? Something that has been a issue since the dawn of time. I find it unfair to say all Atheist are “slimy predators.” That’s like saying All lawyers are alcoholics, cops eat donuts, and firemen are hot. I believe it’s called labeling. I guess I would be considered an attractive woman, and have had my moments of male and female attention. I’ve walked into a room, and have had men ask my name. Seems like a fair question if we are all there for a common reason. It also seems fair, if given the chance to follow up with… Well, Hello Mary, I was just wondering if I could by chance borrow your program for today’s speakers. Not every man is out to man handle your defenseless body into oblivion. Oh wait! That’s right we are not defenseless. No matter who you are, male or female. We all have our level of power over a situation. If a male asks you for coffee, and you are not interested. Then “No thank you”, should be enough. If it is pushed further, everyone has a right to say in whatever lingo you want. From Look, I’m in a rush, and must go. To fuck off. You choose your strength. I have a pet peeve, about being called baby. Do I feel like I’m being violated? No, just means I can now respond to him as rudely as he is to me. I have never had a incident that even when I asked someone to step into the “conversation” that is wasn’t easily squashed.Does it mean I am now going to go after every man with the same attitude? I could continue, and continue but there’s enough written on this page to write a book. My final question is the Surly Amy Jewelry. Is it a closed market to only her jewelry? Where will the proceeds go? If I can only buy her jewelry, but really want to support homophobia, and there’s a line from another maker that donates all to fight homophobia. Well, I should have that option. I’m just frustrated by woman fighting for equality, and yet acting as if their defenseless victims.

  74. PeeGee says

    PeeGee, did you actually read the OP? Your “damn those that don’t” is almost diametrically opposed to what Greta actually said.

    Yes. Did you read mine? Here’s what I said exactly afterwards:

    And if that characterisation is wrong to you, then just read what Jen McCreight herself defined it as. Atheism PLUS for social justice, atheism PLUS for women’s rights, atheism PLUS against racism – meaning that regular atheists who do not ascribe to this new “third wave of atheism” or clique are against or for these things you support or object to.

    @73:

    PeeGee: More like recognising elements of ethical thought which, for anyone with a working conscience, naturally follows from the premises, and self-identifying to provide a safe space to discuss and work towards implementation of such ethical thought. If you’re not actually in favour of social justice, women’s rights, and the eradication of racism and abuse of privilege, like has been said over and over: feel free to not call yourself an A+, but at the same time, recognise the precise isomorphism between “I am actively against social justice” and “I am an asshole”.

    Anyone that makes this distinction is seriously lacking in a process called reason and logic. First of all, “atheism” simply means “lack of belief in a god or gods.” There is no “plus.” You’re conflating atheism with all these other different meanings to build a movement of people who think and feel exactly like you. Turning atheism into an ideology. You said it yourself just now: anyone that doesn’t want to call themselves A+ is fine, but would have to accept being called an asshole. Which is an argument I recognise that happens all too often, but on the opposite end of the spectrum.

    If you have questions about social justice, or if you’re not convinced, or if you’re not sure you agree with methodology, that’s a different story; Atheism+ can still probably provide you with resources and maybe change your mind. I hope! But you can still identify as a garden-variety atheist, and not out yourself as an asshole. Actively aligning yourself -against- Atheism+, though – there’s really only one way that can be taken, right?

    What does being for social justice, equal rights and against racism have to do with atheism? They’re good things to be for and against, but here’s the thing: You’re redefining the word to fit your narrative. Don’t.

  75. says

    Holy crap, yes. When I see someone claim that Freethought Bloggers or Atheism+’ers started attacking people (and I have seen people claim that) it tells me that all the abuse and divisiveness you describe here doesn’t count as a problem for them. That wasn’t starting the problem — fighting back was starting the problem.

  76. kagekiri says

    My atheism DOES inform my politics and desire for social justice, Jim. So yeah, it’s not so hard to think of atheists who believe they go hand in hand….would and should MAKE them go hand in hand in their own movement. If you want the partition in your mind or beliefs, keep it, but stop whining about other people’s beliefs that hardly affect you.

    As for your worries about people misunderstanding who atheists are because of A+? Why is that such a horrible thing?

    What they think about atheists now is that they’re untrustworthy and lacking morals or purpose in life. We have a false reputation for nihilism that isn’t worth keeping.

    Are you scared A+ers will make your life harder or something, because people will wonder if you as an atheist subscribe to other’s beliefs? “Oh, I’m not an A+er, they’re a different subset of atheist with political beliefs they derive from their atheism.” Explanation done, easy peasy.

    Otherwise, it seems like you’re complaining about really trivial crap. “Don’t do good things (or maybe you think they’re bad things?) in the name of being atheist, or they’ll expect it of us other atheist people!” is kinda what you sound like.

    That’s not a good reason to stop doing good things, and atheism IS why we want social justice. It might not be for you, but it is for us. Deal with it already.

  77. joed says

    Excellent and necessary post. thank you.

    In a Tennessee Williams play one of the characters said something to the effect that:
    I don’t judge people unless they are unkind or violent.
    The judgement here is moral judgement. Is what this person said or did good/bad, good/evil etc.
    I find exclusion is better when a person continues with violent, unkind behavior.

  78. says

    Jefrir @84

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all?

    I don’t ensure that. I embrace the concept entirely. I also like curry and prefer cats to dogs.

    This is not an issue of not wanting to be associated with certain things (though many people’s understanding of equality on FtB does not equate to my own) but not wanting people to erroneously believe that certain positions are intrinsically part of atheism.

  79. says

    kagekiri @88

    My atheism DOES inform my politics and desire for social justice, Jim.

    …..and then you leave me hanging ;)

    So let me ask you. If i could demonstrate for you right now that our world was spawned by a sentient agent what aspects of your politics and desire for social justice would change?

    jim (noelplum99)

  80. joed says

    human rights, equality, social justice can be fought for by everyone. a person doesn’t have to “be” an atheist, godist or have any other ideas.
    perhaps empathist would be a good place to start.

  81. Rod says

    Since Rebecca said “guys, don’t do that”, it’s been surreal, at best. Though really, it’s been going on since well before that. It’s just been ratcheted up to an almost inconceivable degree.

    And frankly, you’ve consolidated so much of the hate being expressed, in the links in this one post – all of which I’d seen before, but here it is, again – it left me in tears. I’m angry, frustrated… despairing.

    I’m angry that Natalie Reed essentially had to walk away, because her personally safety was threatened. I’m angry that Jen McCreight is even remotely hesitant to continue because of the blowback. I’m angry that Rebecca Watson is still enduring the onslaught of misogyny, and thus a bit withdrawn. I’m angry that Greta receives such horrible #mencallmethings attacks. I’m angry there’s even a reason for that hash tag. I’m angry that this is the society my daughter has to face. I’m angry that this is the society my sons have to face.

    I don’t care if Atheism+ is considered divisive. I think that’s a good thing. Social justice issues matter to me, addressing them from the perspective of atheism matters to me. I want it to go forward and grow.

  82. segfaultvicta says

    @PeeGee: I think I see your point, and it’s one I shared in my gut reaction to the original posts about Atheism+. But if you agree with the goals of Atheism+, if you think that social justice is a good thing to fight for, then: yay! Even if you identify as an atheist, you’re still fighting the same fight an atheist+ might be fighting. You don’t have to identify as an atheist+ – it helps, inasmuch as the conditional probability of someone being a jerkwad given that they’re A+ is less than if they weren’t.

    But here’s my question – and Greta’s question. Why the animosity, why the claims of divisiveness? If it’s because you feel like we’re stealing the term ‘atheism’, that’s precisely why the plus got added. If you feel that you now can’t operate without calling yourself A+ – a memeplex which, on your accounts, you already hold, so why can’t you? – please look at effectively any post about A+ other than Richard Carrier’s original post (and even that one is comprehensible given the context; it’s very clear who he’s talking to and what his goals were.)

    Atheism+ is a subset, self-chosen, of atheism. If it weren’t self-chosen, if it -were- a label being cruelly forced upon unsuspecting atheists who happened to believe in social justice but didn’t feel as strongly about it or whatever, but were fundamentally different people, I’m sure there’d be a lot of people – yourself included, perhaps – who would suddenly and mysteriously find themselves A+. But it’s not; it’s opt-in, and it’s not a walled garden; there’s no secret passphrase you’ll need to know in order to continue reading Greta’s blog.

    The movement isn’t a zero-sum game, and there is a desperate requirement for a safe space subset community within the New Atheism. If anything, A+ will help -heal- the rifts and divisiveness within the community by keeping the misogynists away from people who don’t want to deal with them and providing educational spaces and forums for discussion. I don’t see how any of this is a bad thing, and nowhere are we changing the meaning of the word ‘atheism’. Whence the rancor?

  83. PeeGee says

    @77:

    So, in your world, ‘cult’ means ‘people who are sick of being attacked by whiny ass bigots’? That about right?

    No, in my world, ‘cult’ means a group of ‘likeminded people and damn those that don’t.’ It’s right there.

    Maybe “they” should stop whining and read what’s actually being posted. This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV. This doesn’t mean anyone who doesn’t claim the label disagrees with those goals. It could mean that, but it could also mean that such people don’t wish to address social justice in that way. As was already said – that’s fine.

    Right, but I couldn’t help but notice that Jen McCreight posited that today’s atheists in the atheist movement are nothing but a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” – and generally contrary to the causes of civil rights, women’s right and racism, et al. She makes this case from a few incidents here and there by some atheists, and suggests a “third wave of atheism” and the name “Atheism+” or “A+” to replace the outdated views of today’s atheists. Like “Brights”, only with atheism this time.

    This suggests that anyone who doesn’t claim the label *does* disagree with those goals. Because atheists in the atheist movement do not get labelled just a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” for nothing. (We will assume with the inclusion of “cisgendered” that is all a negative connotation.) However, atheism doesn’t have anything to do with social justice issues or addressing social justice issues from an “explicitly atheist POV (what does that even mean?)”, it’s a description for a lack of belief in a god or gods. Nothing more.

    The only people claiming that those involved in A+ are saying absolutely everyone who isn’t involved are bad people and horrible bigots are on the outside, desperately searching for a reason to complain.

    Is that so? On the inside, here, the presumption was made that if you do not claim kinship with A+, you would have to face the fact that you’re an asshole.

    The very clear and obvious fact that no small amount of the whining about A+ comes from known bigots is not A+’s fault, but should give others pause to consider with whom they’re throwing their hat in the ring. If you agree on social justice issues, but don’t want to join, no probs. If you don’t agree on social issues, then why bother us? Go away and do whatever you want.

    Because the idea is that atheists right now in the atheist community, and at large, are horrible people, hence the suggestion of creating a “third wave of feminism.” Unfortunately the creation of a “third wave of feminism” is to redefine the meaning of atheism, conflate it with other terms and create a movement that on the outside looks more like a cult than anything else; a movement of likeminded people who considers most — if not all — criticisms against them to be bigots. Hopefully you can see my concern.

  84. JanaTheVeganPiranha says

    people’s egg-shell egos are hard to take- especially when they’re shrieking at the top of their lungs at YOU, and expect you to remain calm and serene while they scream.

    No. I don’t want to and I don’t have to. I do not acknowledge anyone as having a right to demean me, and I will not accept rape threats as a reasonable expectation of addressing misogyny. Way to prove you’re not a neaderthal thug, guys.

    Classism and privilege are going to be addressed, whether it makes white men cringe or not. I don’t feel obligated to polish their asses while they change either, I’m the one who’s been thrown under the bus by their actions!

    Many, many men have chosen to accept that their position of privilege brings with it great humility, and the requirement to share, and ultimately to change. Many, many white men nearly vomit at the thought that their ancestors once owned live human beings. On the other hand, some few still bemoan that these “good old days” are over! These are the same types who wail and screech that they’re not free to demand sex from any woman they see, or that rape is “really that bad”. These are not reasonable positions, hold no credible arguments, and are merely the signs of a more reptilian sense of morality. I have no intention of “debating” persons of this level of character- I want to spend as little time in their presence as possible. They can look to themselves to blame, when no one will sit at the dinner table with them, for fear of counting all their body parts when they leave.

  85. pinkboi says

    I don’t like how people use the MRA’s term for themselves. There’s already a more accurate term for what they are – misogynist.

  86. says

    Jim, I just want to see if I have this right.

    A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of misogynists who will spew vileness at someone just for saying women deserve to be treated like people and you have no problem calling them atheists.

    A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of people who are saying they no longer want to tolerate that behavior and they’re going to get together and do stuff under the name Atheism+.

    And you have a problem with that and from what you say, it sounds like your problem is that they gave it a name.

    I’ve got news for you. Creationism would still be bad if it didn’t have a name. The name is not the thing. The BEHAVIOR is the thing.

  87. TychaBrahe says

    Atheism+ looks and smells for all the world like something which, despite its name, is more a vehicle for a group of political ideologs to hang their causes on to (worthy though these causes generally seem to be) than actually about atheism.

    Here’s the thing, Jim. I don’t understand why gay marriage is part of political ideology. Silly me, but I thought that being a Democrat vs. a Republican was about economic issues, international policies, and so forth. Over my lifetime, however, the Republican party has been co-opted by the religious right. Whether or not one class of people should have the same right to marry as another class of people shouldn’t be a political issue, but it has been made one by these people. Paying one person less to do the same job as another person because the first person is a woman or because the first person is Black or Hispanic isn’t liberal vs. conservative; it’s just plain common sense.

    The people who oppose the issues I think are important are doing so BECAUSE the Bible says being gay is an abomination, because the Bible says women should be subservient to men, because the Bible says that the world was created in six days. Well pardon my language, but that’s shit. If people want to read their Bibles and run their own homes that way, I don’t really care, but the main problem in my country right now in terms of atheism is people believing that their personal religious beliefs should be the basis for national policy. I mean two of the Republican candidates for president were Dominionists, people who believe that a belief in Jesus Christ is a requirement for proper government, and that they should rise up and assume positions of power for the express purpose of changing the moral direction of this country. The Republican platform for the upcoming election includes reinstating DADT, a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage, and removing women from the military!

    So, sorry if my quest for women’s, gay, and minority rights looks too political to you. I wasn’t the one who decided they should be.

  88. PeeGee says

    @97:

    Sorry, on that last paragraph, it should be “third wave of atheism”, not “third wave of feminism.” Apologies.

  89. Martha says

    Brilliant post, Greta.

    I just don’t see the point of atheism without social justice, unless it’s to promote a selfish Ayn Randian worldview. I want no part of that, but I’m delighted to work toward social justice wearing the label of “atheist.”

  90. Greta Christina says

    No, in my world, ‘cult’ means a group of ‘likeminded people and damn those that don’t.’ It’s right there.

    PeeGee @ #97: No. First of all, as has been said many times — including in this piece — “damn those that don’t” is not a tenet of Atheism Plus. If you keep insisting that it is, I’m going to assume that you’re arguing in bad faith.

    Second: “a group of ‘likeminded people and damn those that don’t’” is not — repeat, NOT — the definition of a cult. Heck, that describes the Democratic Party. Even if Atheism Plus did have an “damn those that don’t” attitude — which it doesn’t — that would not make it a cult.

    Right, but I couldn’t help but notice that Jen McCreight posited that today’s atheists in the atheist movement are nothing but a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men”

    She did not say that. Stop misrepresenting her.

    However, atheism doesn’t have anything to do with social justice issues or addressing social justice issues from an “explicitly atheist POV (what does that even mean?)”, it’s a description for a lack of belief in a god or gods. Nothing more.

    I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think atheism, like many other conclusions, has implications. But even if it were true — so what? Some of us are creating a subset of atheism, for people who lack belief in gods and care about social justice issues. It is not redefining atheism for everyone. It’s carving out a subset of it. Why do you object to that? Would you object to an atheist knitting group?

    This suggests that anyone who doesn’t claim the label *does* disagree with those goals.

    No, it doesn’t. That has been explicitly stated, many times, including in this very piece. If you keep re-asserting that, then again, I’m going to have to assume you’re not arguing in good faith.

    Unfortunately the creation of a “third wave of feminism” is to redefine the meaning of atheism

    I assume you mean a “third wave of atheism.” And for the zillionth time: Atheism Plus is not redefining atheism. It is forming a subset of it. One more time: If you keep making this same point again and again, despite it having been countered, I’m going to assume you are not arguing in good faith.

  91. says

    PeeGee, can you cite the post you’re talking about on Blag Hag, with maybe some exact quotes taken from it? It sounds a lot like you’re building up straw-man arguments, but I’d like to see for myself. Maybe it’s something I missed.

  92. Rey Fox says

    I wonder if groups within religions who campaign for social justice have to face this kind of criticism.

    First of all, “atheism” simply means “lack of belief in a god or gods.” There is no “plus.”

    There is now.

    Hopefully you can see my concern.

    It is noted.

  93. says

    Atheism+ looks and smells for all the world like something which, despite its name, is more a vehicle for a group of political ideologs to hang their causes on to (worthy though these causes generally seem to be) than actually about atheism.

    So what?

    It’s what groups of certain people with certain ideas do. They identify themselves, and then say what they are working for. Like “Jews for Jesus” and “Concerned Women for America” and “Atheists for Humanity” and “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” and “Americans for the Arts.”

    And for the record, to address other points made about the term being confusing, no one walks around worried that the Americans for the Arts are somehow interfering with the Americans for Tax Reform or the Americans for Safe Access. The People for Puget Sound are not worried about mixed messages because other people are for the ethical treatment of animals. Average people on the street are perfectly able to comprehend the differences between groups that share words in their names.

    Objections like these to the formation of this group make no sense. Evidence aplenty disproves them.

  94. Greta Christina says

    I am a gay man and a life long atheist raised by atheist and I want nothing to do with Atheism Plus.

    Matt @ #76: Okay.

    From your tone, it seems that you have some active antipathy to Atheism Plus. If so, I’d be curious to know what that is and why. But if I’m wrong, and you just don’t want to participate… that’s fine with me.

  95. CT says

    segfaultvicta says: You don’t have to identify as an atheist+ – it helps, inasmuch as the conditional probability of someone being a jerkwad given that they’re A+ is less than if they weren’t.

    segfaultvicta says: But it’s not; it’s opt-in, and it’s not a walled garden; there’s no secret passphrase you’ll need to know in order to continue reading Greta’s blog.

    Gregory Lynn says: A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of misogynists who will spew vileness at someone just for saying women deserve to be treated like people and you have no problem calling them atheists.

    A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of people who are saying they no longer want to tolerate that behavior and they’re going to get together and do stuff under the name Atheism+.

    These kind of comments, I have a problem with. To me, this shows a clear difference in what the leaders of Atheism+ say and what the followers *do*. Both of these comments clearly indicate that if you are not part of A+, you are wrong/asshat/misogynist. In complete contrast to the OP stating that there is no binary component to A+.

    This is creating a huge amount of confusion in some of us who like to know exactly who we are aligning with. I can align with the leaders but seeing how some followers are implementing the ideal– I don’t agree with that. So what do I do? Do I call out every person in this thread that has stated in one sentence that it’s completely optional, then stated in another sentence that if you don’t you’re an asshat or likely an asshat? I don’t know! The leaders are having to deal with the batshit crazy misogynists so I can’t really expect them to deal with this kind of confusion.

    It just seems that so many people are coming into A+ with so many foregone conclusions that the real ideal of the group is getting lost in noise.

    If the ideal is the actual way the group is implemented, then I don’t see any problem with the people who want to have a place to discuss social issues having just that.

  96. PeeGee says

    Classism and privilege are going to be addressed, whether it makes white men cringe or not. I don’t feel obligated to polish their asses while they change either, I’m the one who’s been thrown under the bus by their actions!

    Many, many men have chosen to accept that their position of privilege brings with it great humility, and the requirement to share, and ultimately to change. Many, many white men nearly vomit at the thought that their ancestors once owned live human beings. On the other hand, some few still bemoan that these “good old days” are over! These are the same types who wail and screech that they’re not free to demand sex from any woman they see, or that rape is “really that bad”. These are not reasonable positions, hold no credible arguments, and are merely the signs of a more reptilian sense of morality. I have no intention of “debating” persons of this level of character- I want to spend as little time in their presence as possible. They can look to themselves to blame, when no one will sit at the dinner table with them, for fear of counting all their body parts when they leave.

    Here’s something I want to address in this post. First of all, it doesn’t have anything to do with atheism or atheism plus, so why you even posted it here is … beyond me. But apart from that, is the distinction of white men. Many feminists have told me in discussions that they definitely do not distinguish between men — regardless of race or nationality — so it boggles the mind every time I see the same distinction over and over. White men.

    Heterosexual white men to be precise. Sometimes it’s “old” heterosexual white men, or “rich” heterosexual white men, or “cisgendered” heterosexual white men, or all of the above with the addition of “able-bodied” (which we can assume is something sexual). But almost always “heterosexual” and almost always “white.” So, and this is just speculation on my part, but is it possible that when (many) feminists say “men”, they simply refer to “heterosexual white” men? Because that would help in narrowing down who’s responsible for all this misogyny and sexism on the internet (and in general).

  97. says

    Clearly many amongst your number disagree with you and admit the potential for confusion – it is just that they aren’t bothered about it in the way I am.
    If you feel that adding a plus sign on the end makes it clear that this refers to additional perspectives on political issues, as opposed to a stonger form of atheism, or another name for anti-theism; if you feel that there is no chance that anyone will simply not notice that the spokesperson they are listening to on the tv is there under the banner of atheism+ and that animal rights is not actually a tenet of atheism – if that is your perspective there is probably nothing I can say.

    My point is that if there is confusion, so what? You seem to be telling me that “Oh noes, I’m an atheist and someone might mistake me for an atheist that also cares about discussing social justice issues in a safe context”. Because right now, that is what this looks like?

     

    Citation fucking needed!…

    And your citation is where?

    That was in the colloquial sense. Specifically I was requesting something, anything, an actual example of this occurring, etc.

     

    Let me ask you a question. It is often asserted that one of the barriers to acceptance of evolution amongst those that don’t is its association as ‘atheistic’, something which people like Ken Miller, of course, go to great lengths to challenge.
    So are you happy with that or is a citation needed there as well?
    If not, what aspect of my assertion that perhaps associating gay rights more openly and specifically with atheism may also lead people to regard it as ‘atheistic’ and less inclined to accept it are you not prepared to accept short of a substantial peer-reviewed study?

    The citation needed point is addressed above. Regarding your other point in the quote above: Am I to understand that your saying it is ok to work on, for example, gay rights but keep our mouths shut about our atheism? We are only allowed to be out atheists when we are discussing religion?

  98. jim says

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all? Is it so very terrible if someone assumes that you are a decent human being?

    This is where I struggle, because Greta’s and PZ’s definitions, narratives, and protestations aside, it still seems like I see a lot of what passes for, paraphrased, “if you’re not *with* us, then you’re not a decent human being”.

  99. says

    @CT:

    Both of these comments clearly indicate that if you are not part of A+, you are wrong/asshat/misogynist.

    That’s not what they’re saying at all. SOME atheists are asshats, and SOME of us want to separate ourselves from them, carve out a space where we aren’t associated with them. Nobody has ever said, “If you’re not with us, you’re evil people!” For the love of all that is good in this world, stop conflating “we don’t want to associate with asshats” with “all these non-A+ers are bad, bad people!”

  100. Greta Christina says

    I find it unfair to say all Atheist are “slimy predators.”

    Beth Hedrick @ #85: Nobody, anywhere in these conversations, has said that all atheists are slimy predators. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. We’re saying, “Not all atheists are slimy predators, most atheists aren’t slimy predators, and many atheists care about the fact that there are some slimy predators in the community and want to do something about it.” If you have to make up straw-man things that Atheism Plus advocates aren’t saying, I have to assume that you don’t have any good objections to what we are saying.

    If a male asks you for coffee, and you are not interested. Then “No thank you”, should be enough.

    I really, really, really hope you’re not talking about Elevatorgate. If you are, then I urge you to read Stephanie Zvan’s post, Elisions, on how what gets left out of conversations is often as important as what gets put into them.

  101. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    No, in my world, ‘cult’ means a group of ‘likeminded people and damn those that don’t.’ It’s right there.

    Okay. That it wasn’t true then and still isn’t.

    but I couldn’t help but notice that Jen McCreight posited that today’s atheists in the atheist movement are nothing but a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” – and generally contrary to the causes of civil rights, women’s right and racism, et al

    Okay, I’ve read the piece multiple times and I’m not seeing this. Link? Where does she say “nothing but a bunch of X,Y,Z”?

    This suggests that anyone who doesn’t claim the label *does* disagree with those goals. Because atheists in the atheist movement do not get labelled just a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” for nothing. (We will assume with the inclusion of “cisgendered” that is all a negative connotation.)

    No, it doesn’t mean that. I’ll repeat myself: it might mean that, as is the case with the whiny ass bigot trolls. It might also mean, and I’ll repeat myself again: that this person doesn’t want to approach social justice and/or atheism in that way. That’s fine.

    What you’re missing here is that Group A are ones deliberately spreading misinformation, lies, and just general douchery about A+. Group B has absolutely no reason to do so, unless all they listen to is Group A. In which case, shame on them. Group B should be coming here then to learn what’s actually going on here.

    “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” is not a negative connotation, it’s descriptive of the sort of person who has the least likely chance of grokking what’s wrong within the atheism/skeptic movement and the most likely sort of person to be throwing temper tantrums that people are moving beyond them. In other words, privileged. Which, as we’ve seen across the A+ threads, holds very true.

    However, atheism doesn’t have anything to do with social justice issues or addressing social justice issues from an “explicitly atheist POV (what does that even mean?)”, it’s a description for a lack of belief in a god or gods. Nothing more.

    Are you American? I ask because not understanding what approaching social justice from an atheist POV means or why its important could be the result of not living in the US and therefore not being familiar with how completely drenched in religiosity American politics are.

    You’re right – atheism doesn’t have anything to do with social justice – THAT’S WHY THIS IS CALLED ATHEISM PLUS. Atheists who want their atheism to be inclusive and productive in that sense. Who want to fight for social justice from the position of a non-believer. Who want to combat, head on, the notion that justice comes from deities. If you don’t want that, fine. If you want a different focus, fine. Do whatever you want.

    Is that so? On the inside, here, the presumption was made that if you do not claim kinship with A+, you would have to face the fact that you’re an asshole.

    Of course that’s so. The extremely idiotic accusations of A+ being just like teabaggery didn’t come from inside. Profoundly stupid whining about bitches being divisive because they won’t shut up and eat the shit sandwich didn’t come from inside. Deliberate misrepresentations of what A+ is didn’t come from inside. They came from people outside who are desperately searching for a reason to complain.

    Your second sentence here is just not true. It’s been explained multiple times how absolutely no one from A+ ever said what you keep trying to pretend they’ve said. Why continue to cling to this?

    I can’t say I do see your concern (though I am trying), because it seems based on nothing resembling what’s actually happening in A+. I’ll repeat myself: If you (that is, the collective “you”) agree on social justice issues, but don’t want to join, no probs. If you don’t agree on social issues, then why bother us? Go away and do whatever you want.

  102. christine says

    This may be way out to lunch and not very critical thinking of me, but I’ve been thinking about Dawkins’ and Harris’ view that the moderately religious and even secular proponents of political correctness give an unspoken “permission” for the wacko religious fundamentalists (of any stripe) to exist. I have always agreed with them on this.

    If you *don’t* take issue with the sexists who are attacking outspoken females, be they religious or atheists, and even go so far as to dismiss or insult those who point out the problem in the first place, are you giving this fringe element an unspoken approval as well? Those brought up in a religious household have been taught from birth to believe in a deity. Gender socialization also begins at birth, whether it is tied into a family’s religious views or not.

    I feel sure in saying that all atheists are people who possess or identify with a gender. I would also say that all atheists have been brought up with a view on gender, be it on the misogyny/misandry spectrum or equality of both sexes, whether they are aware of it or not. You can’t have atheism without an atheist; you can’t have an atheist without a person; you can’t have a person without a gender or an identification with a gender; you can’t have a gender or identification with a gender without having a fundamental viewpoint of some kind about it. Therefore, the issues A+ is raising are valid. Or am I wrong here? (honest question)

  103. CT says

    jim says: This is where I struggle, because Greta’s and PZ’s definitions, narratives, and protestations aside, it still seems like I see a lot of what passes for, paraphrased, “if you’re not *with* us, then you’re not a decent human being”.

    You’re not the only one struggling with that. I honestly don’t think all the people who are using these phrases are really thinking how they might read by someone else. I don’t think there’s maliciousness — just some confusion?

  104. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Apologies if this is too off-topic.

    The ‘he just asked her for coffee’ distortion is usually followed up with the claim that coffee doesn’t equal a sex invite, and there’s no reason to think it does.

    To add to the proof that this is just not true:

    There is an episode of Futurama wherein Amy is dancing with a guy she met at a club. She approaches Leela and says: “Me and {whatshisname} are going out to his car . . .. for coffee . . . ”

    if brainless mainstream popular culture knows what ‘coffee’ means in the late-night context, so to do those who are claiming not to.

  105. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    From the OP:

    I’m going to say this right from the start: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

    Exactly how much does one have to stretch to contort such clear statements into something they are completely not, i.e. “you’re either with us or you’er an asshole”?

    How could it be more clear?

  106. Greta Christina says

    noelplum99: It seems as if your primary concern about Atheism+ is the name, which you think will be confusing and create an incorrect impression of atheism. Is that correct? I want to make sure I understand you before I address your concerns.

  107. CT says

    TerranRich says:
    August 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm
    @CT:

    Both of these comments clearly indicate that if you are not part of A+, you are wrong/asshat/misogynist.

    That’s not what they’re saying at all. SOME atheists are asshats, and SOME of us want to separate ourselves from them, carve out a space where we aren’t associated with them. Nobody has ever said, “If you’re not with us, you’re evil people!” For the love of all that is good in this world, stop conflating “we don’t want to associate with asshats” with “all these non-A+ers are bad, bad people!”

    Please stop typing it and I’ll stop reading it. You said the exact same thing over again. Then typed the same sentence that seems to try to justify the first again. I think you’re just not getting the point of my statement. Obviously, that’s *my* fault for not explaining well.

    Your statement says that there are in the majority two types of people in atheism, misogynist asshats and people who aren’t. If I infer from the ‘some’, you’ve said that there might be a minority who are neither, but they aren’t significant enough to mention in your statement. But neither are they included in your “people who want away from the asshats”. You’ve created a very binary position that is confusing. But don’t worry about it, I’ve seen it a lot today. Mostly, today, I’m having a “meh” kind of moment.

  108. says

    Greta, this post finally got me to make this image. (Nota bene: The mitosis image comes from this poster; I played with Photoshop to lighten it and change the colors. IANAL so I have no idea what sorts of copyright issues this might present. If someone else wants to play with the idea using original art, they can feel free to.)

    noelplum99:

    I am a firm advocate that all peoples should be judged according on their own merits and demerits, on their strengths and weaknesses and not by the average characteristics of any group to which they belong (and that includes skin colour, gender, sex, orientation etc etc).

    In other words, let’s pretend the playing fields are all level.

    Nah.

    Hoary Puccoon, #64: Agreed.

    Astro, #70: YES.

    Beth Hedrick:

    I find it unfair to say all Atheist are “slimy predators.” … If a male asks you for coffee, and you are not interested. Then “No thank you”, should be enough.

    Nice strawmen. Build them yourself, or was the slimepit having a half-off sale?

  109. Drew Hardies says

    It seems divisive because it looks like an attempt by a few bloggers to position themselves as the arbiters of who is a good person.

    The definitions provided are too vague to be directly useful. What person sees themselves as an opponent of their interpretation of rights and social justice?

    Assuming the term is meant to be useful, it’ll have to be, “Atheism+ is a label for people who defend human rights as they are interpreted by certain popular bloggers.”

    And, if I thought that the ‘out-group’ was just going to be overt trolls and assholes, I’d have no problem. But I expect the label to get very quickly dragged into the next round of blogger-v-blogger disputes as a way of saying, “You disagree with me, so we’re kicking you out of the ‘reasonable human’ club.”

  110. jim says

    Exactly how much does one have to stretch to contort such clear statements into something they are completely not, i.e. “you’re either with us or you’er an asshole”?

    How could it be more clear?

    Are you addressing this to me and CT, or to those in this thread and others who self-identify as A+ but are in a rather un-subtle way conveying those implications?

  111. CT says

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says: How could it be more clear?

    It’s really very super clear to me how the leaders envision it. Never think it isn’t. It is really really really clear.

  112. says

    This is where I struggle, because Greta’s and PZ’s definitions, narratives, and protestations aside, it still seems like I see a lot of what passes for, paraphrased, “if you’re not *with* us, then you’re not a decent human being”.

    Where? Linkys please.

    And if you try to use PeeGee’s examples above, I just am not seeing it there.
    All of them read to me as “If your not a decent human being, then your not with us.” Are those the same?

    Also, would my push back (as incoherent as it may seem, I’m not as smart as some of the other commenters, but I try) be construed as “with us or agin us”? Cause, for the record, it ain’t.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    I, too, have housework to do so any replies to me may be a while.

  113. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It seems divisive because it looks like an attempt by a few bloggers to position themselves as the arbiters of who is a good person.

    ONCE AGAIN FROM THE OP:

    I’m going to say this right from the start: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

    How could it more clear?

    Got any responses to the long list of questions in the OP? Care to explain how A+ is ‘divisive’ but somehow magically NOT the deluge of hate leveled against women?

  114. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It’s really very super clear to me how the leaders envision it. Never think it isn’t. It is really really really clear.

    Then I’m at a loss what the problem is. If you’re being serious, here, that is. (text only doesn’t tell)

  115. Minneapostate says

    Damn, Greta….just when I think you’ve written your best post ever you top yourself. Been following you and FtB ever since they started, but have never commented before now. I’ve been disgusted by all the shit coming in your direction, especially since a lot of it has been from voices I’d previously thought highly of. You all have my utmost respect and sincere appreciation for fighting the good fight, and calling bullshit when it’s deserved….and it’s never been more deserved than lately. Keep kickin’ ass!!

  116. CT says

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:
    August 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm
    It’s really very super clear to me how the leaders envision it. Never think it isn’t. It is really really really clear.

    Then I’m at a loss what the problem is. If you’re being serious, here, that is. (text only doesn’t tell)

    I can see you’re at a loss. I feel bad about that. I explained above in my comment earlier, I’ll quote, it was a long one so you probably missed it. It’s number 109.

    These kind of comments, I have a problem with. To me, this shows a clear difference in what the leaders of Atheism+ say and what the followers *do*. Both of these comments clearly indicate that if you are not part of A+, you are wrong/asshat/misogynist. In complete contrast to the OP stating that there is no binary component to A+.

    This is creating a huge amount of confusion in some of us who like to know exactly who we are aligning with. I can align with the leaders but seeing how some followers are implementing the ideal– I don’t agree with that. So what do I do? Do I call out every person in this thread that has stated in one sentence that it’s completely optional, then stated in another sentence that if you don’t you’re an asshat or likely an asshat? I don’t know! The leaders are having to deal with the batshit crazy misogynists so I can’t really expect them to deal with this kind of confusion.

    It just seems that so many people are coming into A+ with so many foregone conclusions that the real ideal of the group is getting lost in noise.

    If the ideal is the actual way the group is implemented, then I don’t see any problem with the people who want to have a place to discuss social issues having just that.

    The important part here is that I’m perfectly fine with how the leaders are defining A+. I am not perfectly fine with how some of the followers are implementing it.

    Does that help?

  117. jim says

    This is where I struggle, because Greta’s and PZ’s definitions, narratives, and protestations aside, it still seems like I see a lot of what passes for, paraphrased, “if you’re not *with* us, then you’re not a decent human being”.

    Where? Linkys please.

    Did you read my first comment, #112 in this thread? I blockquoted a commenter from earlier in the thread, #84, although it is not the only example. Here is that blockquote again:

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all? Is it so very terrible if someone assumes that you are a decent human being?

    Again, it’s not explicit, but it’s not exactly un-subtle either. And if you want to accuse me to reading too far into it, or reading it incorrectly, ok, but I would submit that there are a lot of people outside of the FtB circle who are also seeing that message. And I think that type of miscommunication causes a particular reaction among atheists because it resonates similarly to religious exclusivity.

  118. PeeGee says

    @104:

    I quote:

    Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men”

    You’re right, it wasn’t Jen McCreight, it was Natalie Reed. Sorry about that. But she agrees with the assessment and it is the foundation for the new “third wave of atheism.”

    I didn’t say you *were* creating a cult, but something *similar* to a cult. And it’s showing its ugly face already, what with the assumption that whoever doesn’t align to it is an asshole.

    I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think atheism, like many other conclusions, has implications. But even if it were true — so what? Some of us are creating a subset of atheism, for people who lack belief in gods and care about social justice issues. It is not redefining atheism for everyone. It’s carving out a subset of it. Why do you object to that? Would you object to an atheist knitting group?

    A knitting group that happens to be atheist, or an atheist group that focuses on knitting? As long as they don’t conflate the meaning of atheism to also include knitting, I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. Maybe we should create an everything plus, just to be safe? Knitting+, knit plus social justice, plus women’s rights, plus equal rights, plus support this and against that and whatnot?

    No, it doesn’t. That has been explicitly stated, many times, including in this very piece. If you keep re-asserting that, then again, I’m going to have to assume you’re not arguing in good faith.

    It suggests that. Jen McCreight said that the “new wave” of atheists would support social justice, women’s rights, speak up against racism and misogyny, and sexism, which suggests that the “old wave” of atheists did not. I may support and be against all those things, but still not consider myself an A+, however according to some people here that’s an implication of guilt.

    Atheism Plus is not redefining atheism. It is forming a subset of it. One more time: If you keep making this same point again and again, despite it having been countered, I’m going to assume you are not arguing in good faith.

    Yeah, I’m not sure that works: a subset of atheism. What does that mean? A subset of an ideology is graspable, but a subset of a description? Atheism does not have tenets. Atheism plus, according to you, have. Tenets. That’s what you yourself said.

    @105:

    Certainly.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/how-i-unwittingly-infiltrated-the-boys-club-why-its-time-for-a-new-wave-of-atheism/

  119. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Speaking only for myself (and not on behalf of Teh Ghey), I’ve reached the point where I do question the motivations of people who keep objecting to A+. Greta could not be clearer or more reasonable. Ditto Jen. Yet commenters pop up and claim that the authors are saying the precise opposite of the author’s actual words. Words that are right there on the page. Not hidden, not subject to debate.

    This is right-wing-level madness. It’s calling apples sirloin steaks and failing to understand why people are telling you that sounds like lunacy.

    And I suspect Greta would disagree with me, but I think there is an built-in implication of judgment with any movement or self-chosen grouping. It cannot be otherwise. Yes, joining the Democratic party does signal that you think your political ideas are a better answer than non-Democrats. How could it be otherwise?

    That’s normal. That’s how human interaction works. So, yes, though the A+ folks are going to great pains (they really are being far more patient than detractors deserve) to clarify that they’re not exercising a top-down philosophical judgment on non-joiners, the fact remains that continuing to mischaracterize it and shriek woundedness does tell us something about your priorities. It does throw into question your professed commitment to these issues or your commitment to non-assholery.

    I can think of several possible motivations:

    1. A critic has some personal, emotional objection based on an experience somewhere else. This causes a reflexive “don’t you judge me” reaction even when it’s unnecessary.

    2. A critic (very likely not with malice, mind you) really isn’t comfortable with anything that could even obliquely suggest they might have some more examination to do about privilege.

    3. A critic realizes (again, maybe not consciously) that the culture and conversation they were comfortable with is shifting. They don’t like that, but more, they really, really don’t like that it puts them on the spot in places and with people they didn’t think they’d be on the spot with.

    There are many other possible motivations. But I don’t really care what they are. The consequence is the same. Reacting this way tells me that it’s more important to you to confabulate, double-down on your errors, perceive bad faith in people trying to do good work, and hog the center stage with your self-centered objections than you actually care about the issue itself.

    That tells me things about you. “Ally who prioritizes social justice issues and cares about wounded people being given a damned break” is not among them.

    Were I running a forum or starting a space for A+, at this point my answer to critics would be: no, you may not. You may not take up the oxygen anymore. You may not waste our time. No, you are not entitled to any more forbearance or explanation.

    And then I’d ruthlessly ban you.

  120. Drew Hardies says

    Got any responses to the long list of questions in the OP? Care to explain how A+ is ‘divisive’ but somehow magically NOT the deluge of hate leveled against women?

    The trouble isn’t divisiveness per-se. Greta has a good argument about that. The fear is divisiveness among people who are arguing within the bounds of good faith and good etiquette.

    The rhetoric (even this article) is starting to treat non-supporters as a homogeneous troll-approving group.

    I guess someone could say that that isn’t the intent. But, that runs head-on into the “How magical is intent” question.

  121. jim says

    Yet commenters pop up and claim that the authors are saying the precise opposite of the author’s actual words.

    If you are referring to CT and I, that would actually be a really dishonest characterization of what we’re saying. So, hopefully you’re talking about someone else.

  122. Lorenzo says

    @17

    I’ve always been for atheism AND for women’s and gay’s rights – because those are human rights. I’ve always assumed that other atheists were for them, too, since I though promoting rationality was tantamount to spreading progressive values.

    If, as I have painfully come to realize, there are atheists in the atheism community who don’t give a rat’s ass about (at least some) human rights, then those of us who do will need a new “brand” to identify ourselves as the “progressive” atheists, who care about atheism PLUS several other issues we used to take for granted.

    And we don’t want to take the same side with people who think that fighting misogyny and sexism, racism and xenophobia, and many other social issues is not a *crucial* part, along with atheism, for building a better world.

    And we name ourselves as we damn well please. Hey, Dan Dennett came with the “Brights” idea some years ago – pity it didn’t catch up.

  123. PeeGee says

    @115:

    If you (that is, the collective “you”) agree on social justice issues, but don’t want to join, no probs.

    Then why the need for this statement right here?

    From Jen McCreight:

    It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

    It forms a schism – “old” atheists and “new” atheists – where one is a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” and the other “cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.” No probs? Sure.

  124. CT says

    Josh: It does throw into question your professed commitment to these issues or your commitment to non-assholery.

    Is this addressed to me?

  125. Chloe says

    Blitzgirl:

    Both/and:

    never heard that before, but was struck by the power and the ideas behind it. Thank you for that…

  126. says

    CT, the leaders can’t control everything the followers do. In an authoritarian movement like the GOP, you could have such top-down control, but needless to say that’s not the case here. I think the best they can do is to keep repeating the message and distance themselves from comments like those of Richard Carrier the other day.

  127. says

    @Leo #8
    What bothers me with Atheism Plus is the false dilemma between “let sexism and racism run rampant” and “fight sexism and racism in the exact way the generalized social justice community promotes”.
    I don’t think there’s really a dilemma, because what people are saying repeatedly is that it is okay if you don’t want to be part of A+. It doesn’t mean you’re “letting sexism and racism run rampant”, it just means that, well, you have your own reasons. I don’t participate because I don’t like forums as a medium for discussion. Whatever, right?

    Actually, I would rather like it if A+ addressed sexism and racism in a way that resembles the way the social justice community does it. I am not at this time convinced that this is what will happen, since people are only saying they support social justice without saying much about how. Note that this does not lead me to conclude that A+ is letting sexism run rampant, it just means that, in my view, it could be doing better.

  128. CT says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, Vile Human Being says:
    August 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm
    CT, the leaders can’t control everything the followers do. In an authoritarian movement like the GOP, you could have such top-down control, but needless to say that’s not the case here. I think the best they can do is to keep repeating the message and distance themselves from comments like those of Richard Carrier the other day.

    That’s kinda why I don’t want to just let it go but don’t want to pile on with a screaming fit, ya know? I guess if a leader were to admit that maybe some of that is happening, I’d feel better and maybe more like I could call out some of the inferences. I’m pretty sure from the content I’m seeing that the leaders don’t want that binary kind of confusion. I dunno. I need to think about it more and wait to see what shakes.

  129. says

    I love this development too, I am sure there are several organisations have been pro-A+ for a long time.
    Just that now we have a catchy name and a cute logo.

    I can’t understand the backlash at all,
    I mean it is fine for apatheists or people who would just like to meet up, make jokes on how stupid religions are,and get back home to not like it.
    But why by people and organisations whose mission statements already include several A+ features?

    The only organisations that could actually be threatened by it would be the ones who would rather concentrate on popularity , numbers, money? rather than social issues, who would rather suppress harassment reports to prevent upsetting some crowd-gatherers than actually preventing harassments, who would rather deny that misogyny and homophobia exists than fight it in their own organisations.

    You embrace A+ features, you bring about a better generation but at the same time lose many members and also majority of members will have to be more careful on not to be an asshole.
    You reject it and you can keep on supporting celebrity atheist assholes in your organisations , even give them support and stage time as speakers under the pretext of unity, under the excuse that you do not want infights and divisions.

    You could say A+ separates organisations who actually care about social issues from those who say they do just for the cuddle factor.
    Yes in this context, it divides, but it is for the better, in any case atheism movement is already divided into thousands of little fragments , we can never agree on anything, not even the definition of atheism (the silly strong atheist vs weak atheist debate and agnostic vs atheist debates) as RD said,we are cats.

    So at the same time atheism+ also unites, it unites little parts of these so many fragments who do care about these issues.

    I have seen many nice people taken in by rumours about A+ (like how it is only about bloggers who want controversies )
    who change stance after reading about it and about those bloggers and what they have done , what I cannot understand was why people are spreading rumors about it at all.

    Maybe this is the problem, maybe people secretly feel that the issues that they said they stood for, for the cuddle factors, they might have to actually start taking them seriously if this thing gets that popular.

    All this buzz it is getting has started important discussions all around, call it atheism+humanism or whatever you feel like , this particular name seems catchy, it has taken off, it has caused discussions, so well , whatever name it takes for organizations to start taking these issues seriously.
    which is why I am supporting it everywhere, if it reaches the critical mass and becomes what it is promising to be, it will be a win-win for all of us local organisations who actually support the plus features and save us a lot of dead brain cells and wasted time.

  130. kagekiri says

    @91 noelplum99 (aka jim?):

    You don’t know how atheism implies that social justice matters more than Christianity or “aliens did it”? Have you not been paying attention to anything on these blogs about A+?

    Atheism means we don’t get guaranteed justice in the afterlife; it’s now or likely never. Disadvantages and disabilities are not the will of gods, nor the fault of those who acquire them. Evolution was the sole dictator of the state of our species, and we have no reason to doubt science or discriminate against people of any gender, race, or sexuality because of ancient superstitions.

    That means WE have to take care of justice if we care about it, and I do. Injustice sickens me, and always has, both when I was a believer and now that I’m an atheist. Equality in the present matters, because there will be no heavenly balancing in the afterlife. Not restricting others’ happiness in relationships matters, because happiness is obviously good and this is our only known shot at it. The future matters, because this existence is our only chance to make a difference and we do care about other members of our society and species.

    So yeah, I added atheism to basic human empathy and desire for justice and I became much less complacent about justice, much more concerned with purpose in life, less nihilistic (“God’ll work it out in the end no matter what I do” was no longer a fallback option), and much more open to understanding sexuality and gender outside of the Bible, which totally shifted my views on LGBT rights.

    Atheism was the core of that, because it meant rejecting my previous moral foundation of Scripture and rebuilding from plain humanity.

    Does that make sense? Is this really the first time you’re hearing it? A+er’s mentioned this foundation, too. PZ definitely wrote about it.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/28/thats-another-good-name/

  131. Greta Christina says

    PeeGee @ #137: I strongly urge you to read Stephanie Zvan’s excellent piece, Elisions, where she talks about how what’s left out of a conversation often says as much as what’s kept in.

    Note how, in the phrase, “just a bunch of ‘middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men’ patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists,” you elided out the very important “just,” and you elided out the “patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists.”

    This is not about “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” versus people who care about social justice. This is about (among many other things) people who don’t see a problem with the fact that the atheist community has been, for some time, largely made up of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men”… and people who do see that as a problem.

  132. says

    CT @ 109:

    These kind of comments, I have a problem with. To me, this shows a clear difference in what the leaders of Atheism+ say and what the followers *do*. Both of these comments clearly indicate that if you are not part of A+, you are wrong/asshat/misogynist.

    This is just nonsensical, as in you-can’t-get-there-from-here.

    The notion that everyone who is not actively trying to fix a problem is actively causing the problem is simply inaccurate and wasn’t implied by me or, so far as I can tell, anyone else.

    Of course, there are a shit ton of comments and I may have missed some.

  133. Drew Hardies says

    If this is not intended as a way of continuing the various blogger-v-blogger schisms it seems like there’s an obvious question.

    Are there people who have Free Thought Blogs has staunchly disagreed with and Atheism+ intends to support?

    And, by ‘support’ I mean things even as basic as, “We still think they’re wrong (which is why we disagreed with them) but the level/type of opposition that person faced was clearly over the line.”

  134. CT says

    lalit says: You embrace A+ features, you bring about a better generation but at the same time lose many members and also majority of members will have to be more careful on not to be an asshole.
    You reject it and you can keep on supporting celebrity atheist assholes in your organisations , even give them support and stage time as speakers under the pretext of unity, under the excuse that you do not want infights and divisions.

    You could say A+ separates organisations who actually care about social issues from those who say they do just for the cuddle factor.

    This is really binary thinking. Are you saying that if an atheist doesn’t embrace A+ as a group that they don’t ‘really’ care about social issues? I think there are lots of ways to care about social issues. Belonging to A+ is one of them, but not the only one.

  135. 'Tis Himself says

    I see several people saying “I’m all in favor of equality for women, races, etc. but I don’t want that equality conflated with MY atheism.” If Jim (both of you), PeeGee and anyone else objecting to Atheism+ don’t think this is a fair description of their objections to Atheism+, then please tell me how it’s wrong.

  136. Z says

    I’ve been reading all these A+ conversations and I, too, am really confused at why people object to the idea. So, this little scenario occurred to me today, and I thought I would share it for what it is worth (which is likely not much):

    Perhaps a more grounded analogy would help.

    Say there is a garden club and all the members are very into gardening.

    Some of the members really like azaleas and they like to discuss azaleas amongst themselves. However, other members don’t believe anyone should talk about azaleas. They hate azaleas and only want to talk about roses and daisies. Every time the azalea group tries to talk about azaleas, the azalea haters hassle them. A third group likes azaleas and roses and daisies, but don’t really think it is important to focus on any one in particular.

    So, the azalea folks decide to start up a little azalea group. They’re still gardeners. They still belong to the garden club. They still also love roses and daisies, but they don’t like being harassed by the people who hate azaleas. Wouldn’t it be really, really silly for the azalea haters and the ambivilous people to be mad at the azalea group for taking their azalea discussions to a new forum?

    The azalea folks aren’t disputing the worth of gardening or roses or daisies. They just want to be able to talk about azaleas without all the aggravation. The ambivilous people are certainly welcome to either group and no one is saying they are azalea haters if they choose not to join the azalea gardening group.

  137. Jefrir says

    Jim

    This is where I struggle, because Greta’s and PZ’s definitions, narratives, and protestations aside, it still seems like I see a lot of what passes for, paraphrased, “if you’re not *with* us, then you’re not a decent human being”.

    Yes, for me, agreeing with the basic proposition that “women/gay people/trans* people etc are human beings and should be treated as such”, and supporting efforts to make that reality, is a fairly fundamental part of the definition of being a decent human being. I’m actually quite curious about what your definition is, if it does not include such an idea.
    Please note that I did not say that anyone who does not identify as A+ is therefore an arsehole. As Greta says, there are perfectly good reasons why someone may not choose that label, just as there are reasons why people choose to identify as agnostic or humanist rather than atheist. None of that is a problem.
    What gives you an increased likelihood of being an arsehole is that 1. You object to the rest of us so identifying and 2. You do so apparently on the basis that people might mistake you for someone who cares about social justice – thereby suggesting that doing so is a bad thing.

  138. says

    Greta Christina @120
    Sorry for not responding sooner Greta,

    To answer your question, yes, my primary issue is the somewhat ambiguous name and the issues associated with that.

    What I will briefly add is that, from the exchanges I have had on youtube, this is clearly a concern for many others as well, though clearly not the only concern or the overriding concern for many folks.

    Yours,
    jim (noelplum99)

  139. CT says

    Gregory Lynn says: Of course, there are a shit ton of comments and I may have missed some.

    You did. I quoted them above. It was a long comment so maybe you missed them. I’ll requote.

    August 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    segfaultvicta says: You don’t have to identify as an atheist+ – it helps, inasmuch as the conditional probability of someone being a jerkwad given that they’re A+ is less than if they weren’t.
    segfaultvicta says: But it’s not; it’s opt-in, and it’s not a walled garden; there’s no secret passphrase you’ll need to know in order to continue reading Greta’s blog.

    Gregory Lynn says: A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of misogynists who will spew vileness at someone just for saying women deserve to be treated like people and you have no problem calling them atheists.
    A fairly large portion of the atheist population consists of people who are saying they no longer want to tolerate that behavior and they’re going to get together and do stuff under the name Atheism+.

    That last bit? That was very binary. There’s no room in that comment for people who are not misogynist and not in the A+ group. I don’t want to repeat so you might want to look for my other explanatory comments. Sorry.

  140. says

    @CT

    Your statement says that there are in the majority two types of people in atheism, misogynist asshats and people who aren’t. If I infer from the ‘some’, you’ve said that there might be a minority who are neither, but they aren’t significant enough to mention in your statement. But neither are they included in your “people who want away from the asshats”. You’ve created a very binary position that is confusing. But don’t worry about it, I’ve seen it a lot today. Mostly, today, I’m having a “meh” kind of moment.

    No, TerranRich didn’t create the binary position. I didn’t.

    You did. It’s in your head. I don’t know why, but it isn’t helpful.

    When I said in a previous comment that there are some folks who are assholes and there are some of us who aren’t going to tolerate it any more, that doesn’t in any way state, imply, or come within a hundred miles of stating or implying that everyone who is tolerating it is an asshole.

  141. 'Tis Himself says

    my primary issue is the somewhat ambiguous name and the issues associated with that.

    I really have to wonder about someone who whines about what a group he has stated he has not desire to join calls itself. It really seems to me that you don’t want your atheism sullied with minor distractions like treating women as human beings.

  142. maureen.brian says

    … I guess if a leader were to admit that maybe some of that is happening, I’d feel better …

    Tell us, do, CT @ 142, which leader do you need to make an ex cathedra pronouncement in order for you to feel better?

    I have a feeling that Atheism+ isn’t going to work like that. Besides, you are on the blog of a leader and surrounded by others.

    (I give up. I’m off to knit for DarkFetus. Yes, another atheist knitter!)

  143. Pteryxx says

    When I said in a previous comment that there are some folks who are assholes and there are some of us who aren’t going to tolerate it any more, that doesn’t in any way state, imply, or come within a hundred miles of stating or implying that everyone who is tolerating it is an asshole.

    More specifically, it does not imply that those two groups comprise all of atheism or that every individual must be in either one group or the other. Saying lots of apples are Red Delicious or Golden Delicious doesn’t imply that no other variety of apple exists. Lots of atheists, IMHO probably the majority, simply don’t realize this much harassment and dismissal is going on, or how serious it is.

  144. Greta Christina says

    To answer your question, yes, my primary issue is the somewhat ambiguous name and the issues associated with that.

    noelplum99 @ #152: I see.

    So on the one hand: We have a situation where feminist women in the atheist movement have been subjected for a solid year to a relentless campaign of harassment, bullying, inappropriate sexualization, threats of death, threats of rape, violation of privacy, and more, to the point where many leaders have become exhausted and demoralized, and many women don’t even want to try taking part in it.

    On the other hand: The group that has formed in large part to combat this situation and to create a safe haven from it has a name that you think will be confusing and create an incorrect impression of atheism.

    And the latter problem is the one you are spending your time and energy on.

    Do you see why some people might have a problem with this?

  145. CT says

    Jefrir says: Yes, for me, agreeing with the basic proposition that “women/gay people/trans* people etc are human beings and should be treated as such”, and supporting efforts to make that reality, is a fairly fundamental part of the definition of being a decent human being.

    Jefrir says: Please note that I did not say that anyone who does not identify as A+ is therefore an arsehole.

    No, but you did just say, right there, that anyone who doesn’t want to associate with the A+ group is not a decent human being. Sure, that may not equate with “asshole” but I’d actually say “not a decent human being” is far worse than “asshole”.

    Jefrir says: What gives you an increased likelihood of being an arsehole is that 1. You object to the rest of us so identifying and 2. You do so apparently on the basis that people might mistake you for someone who cares about social justice – thereby suggesting that doing so is a bad thing.

    If you read the comment, you’ll see that jim is not objecting to you having a group, they are objecting to the binary thinking that is coming out of the creation of the group. The binary thinking that you are exhibiting in this comment.

  146. says

    CT: All I said was that SOME atheists are asshats, and SOME of us want to avoid them. You’re the one that went off on some rant about majorities and minorities and FSM-knows-what. I’ll say it again:

    Some atheists (not most, not less than half, not X%, just some) are asshats. That much is clear, no? Good. Another “some” of us (not most, not less than half, not X%, just some) want to avoid those other atheists, and create a safe haven where we can talk about social issues.

    There is nothing above that implies an “either with us, or an evil person” mentality. Nobody is advocating for that. We are simply saying, we care about X, Y, and Z, and want to be able to discuss those issues without asshats ruining it for us.

    I said nothing about asshats being in the majority, or whatever.

  147. mythbri says

    Atheism + is barely two weeks old. Can we just give it a chance to develop and/or coalesce before shouting “DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! DOOM!”?

    Cripes. I feel like I’m in the Mines of Moria.

  148. Jefrir says

    No, but you did just say, right there, that anyone who doesn’t want to associate with the A+ group is not a decent human being.

    Someone who opposes the values of the A+ group is, by my definition, an arsehole. That is not the same as not identifying with the A+ group.
    Someone can not identify with A+ and still be decent.
    They cannot consider women to be inferior to men and still be decent.

    I really don’t see why this is so hard to understand.

  149. rrede says

    Too rushed (first week of classes ack) to read whole thread, so cannot engage substantively, but want to say that this piece is one of the most amazing things I’ve read, with the clear simplicity and logic of a ten ton boulder falling off a mountain, leaving in its wake the sense that wow, yeah, now it makes so much sense.

    More later, I hope!

  150. says

    Jefrir says: Yes, for me, agreeing with the basic proposition that “women/gay people/trans* people etc are human beings and should be treated as such”, and supporting efforts to make that reality, is a fairly fundamental part of the definition of being a decent human being.</blockquote

    Jefrir says: Please note that I did not say that anyone who does not identify as A+ is therefore an arsehole.

    No, but you did just say, right there, that anyone who doesn’t want to associate with the A+ group is not a decent human being. Sure, that may not equate with “asshole” but I’d actually say “not a decent human being” is far worse than “asshole”.

    Wow. How dishonest can one person BE? Jefrir said that part of being a decent human being is supporting equality. Do you agree or disagree? Great. Atheism+ is all about that. If you disagreed that part of being a decent human being is supporting equality, then Atheism+ is not for you. If that is the case, then why all the complaining about Atheism+ if it’s obviously not for you.

    Nowhere did Jefrir say specifically that not applying the Atheism+ label to yourself meant that you were a terrible human being, an asshole, or whatever. He neither said it outright, nor did he imply it.

    Your reading comprehension skills seem to be lacking.

  151. Pteryxx says

    No, but you did just say, right there, that anyone who doesn’t want to associate with the A+ group is not a decent human being.

    No Jefrir did NOT. Someone can support social justice in one way or another, thus being a decent human being, *without having anything to do with A+*. Lots of decent human beings have never heard of A+ or atheism and have no idea this conversation is even happening. Plenty are hearing about A+ and saying ‘No thanks, I’d rather stay a humanist’ and ending it there, and that’s fine too.

  152. 'Tis Himself says

    It appears CT’s objection is xe doesn’t want to be called an asshole just because xe doesn’t want to join a group promoting equality and social justice. So, under the authority granted to me for being an arrogant, take-charge know-it-all, I hereby declare CT is not an asshole!

    Are you happy now, CT?

  153. CT says

    Pteryxx says:
    August 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm
    When I said in a previous comment that there are some folks who are assholes and there are some of us who aren’t going to tolerate it any more, that doesn’t in any way state, imply, or come within a hundred miles of stating or implying that everyone who is tolerating it is an asshole.

    More specifically, it does not imply that those two groups comprise all of atheism or that every individual must be in either one group or the other. Saying lots of apples are Red Delicious or Golden Delicious doesn’t imply that no other variety of apple exists. Lots of atheists, IMHO probably the majority, simply don’t realize this much harassment and dismissal is going on, or how serious it is.

    You know, I give up. I guess it’s all in my head and none of the comments I’ve quoted actually say what they were somehow. All I can say is that intent is not magic, even when you’re on the side that says that all the time.

  154. says

    @Jefrir:

    Someone can not identify with A+ and still be decent.

    To avoid confusion, I would reword that as “Someone can refuse to identify with A+ and still be decent.”

  155. says

    @CT:

    You know, I give up. I guess it’s all in my head and none of the comments I’ve quoted actually say what they were somehow.

    Congraulations!! You’ve finally figured it out!!

  156. CT says

    ‘Tis Himself says:
    August 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm
    It appears CT’s objection is xe doesn’t want to be called an asshole just because xe doesn’t want to join a group promoting equality and social justice. So, under the authority granted to me for being an arrogant, take-charge know-it-all, I hereby declare CT is not an asshole!

    Are you happy now, CT?

    thank you so much. I’ll just put this right here, okay?

  157. CT says

    btw, I *have* joined the group. Hope to see you there soon so I can be called a non-asshole just everywhere!

  158. sqlrob says

    We have a false reputation for nihilism that isn’t worth keeping.

    False? Any rational atheist, is, practically by definition, a nihilist. We’re denying the pronouncements of objectivity on high, and that’s nihilism. Nihilism doesn’t say that you can’t make a purpose, it just says it’s not imposed.

  159. Rieux says

    Count me in with Josh @133, except that I might be slower (maybe by a second or two) to pick up the banhammer.

    Lack of personal interest, investment, etc., in A+ is perfectly fine and unobjectionable. But incessant whiny carping, strawmanning, and concern trolling, such as this thread and numerous others contain, actually does say things about the people who see fit to impose it on the community discourse. Shockingly enough, (1) death and rape threats, disgusting sexist epithets and the like actually matter more in the world than (2) absurd nonsense about “cult”s or “conflat[ing] political positions” with atheism (oh, the humanity!). A person’s choice to prioritize (2) over (1)–say, by posting comment after comment after comment fixating on those issues on blog posts explaining Atheism+ –says something about that person, something that certainly can’t be generalized to the group All Atheists Who Don’t Identify With A+ but is a markedly better fit for its notable subset, Atheists Who Whine Incessantly And Repeatedly About A+ Online.

    Irrelevant, dishonest, and/or derailing commentary in fact sends a message about the outlook of the commentator–to wit, that he or she is perfectly happy to minimalize, sideline, belittle, or demean the actual problems that A+ is being created to address.

    If you don’t like being treated as a presumed misogynist, it may behoove you to consider whether the quibble you demand attention to actually deserves to draw focus away from the problems at issue. If you decide to ignore that issue–as so many online carpers have–then you may have to come to terms with the reality that that decision, which is very much separate from your decision not to throw in with A+, is a legitimate basis for the rest of us to draw conclusions about you.

  160. Jefrir says

    Thanks, TerranRich and Pteryxx, for reassuring me that I haven’t suddenly turned incomprehensible. And yeah, “refuse to identify as” probably would be clearer. Hell, my criteria for “decent human being” include quite a lot of religious people, who I’m pretty sure aren’t going to be identifying as A+!
    (Just one point – I’m actually female)

  161. CT says

    @Pteryxx & @terranRich

    That whole thing was a conversation, and I think you guys missed the part where jim was stating they objected to the binary thought. So, yeah, it’s pretty easy to get that Jefir was saying that if a person is not for A+, they aren’t a decent human being.

    Did Jefir mean that? how the fucking hell should I know? I’ll take y’alls word for it tho just because I suspect I’ll lose my non-asshole status otherwise. Can’t be having with that.

  162. julian says

    @hoary puccoon #64

    Yes but this is an argument not over goals, or the right to feel as you do. It’s an argument about how effective or appropriate a certain movement’s goals and naming are. The opposition (at least here) isn’t invalidating your experience with the greater community.

    So it isn’t fair to them to treat them with complete contempt. They aren’t being contemptible at all. They may be being foolish or pedantic but neither really warrants the level of bile we throw at people who are post-oppression.

  163. Rieux says

    CT @175: No, actually, you flatly misread Jefrir’s comment and have been misrepresenting it ever since. You pretend it set up a binary opposition, but–as anyone can see from what’s actually written in the comment–it didn’t. As others have noted, it’s not a matter of Jefrir’s “intent” (as you then declared), but your own imagination.

  164. Mai says

    I’m one of those women who have written and complained to you in private.

    Brilliant blog Greta.

    I back it 100%.

    Thank you for speaking out on my behalf.

  165. Pteryxx says

    CT:

    So, yeah, it’s pretty easy to get that Jefir was saying that if a person is not for A+, they aren’t a decent human being.

    I point out that’s your interpretation, which may or may not be either commonly held or justified. Several other people here, including me, have pointed out why we’re interpreting that statement differently. (Not least of which was Jafrir flat out saying it didn’t mean what you thought it meant.)

    Can you justify your interpretation?

  166. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    The important part here is that I’m perfectly fine with how the leaders are defining A+. I am not perfectly fine with how some of the followers are implementing it.
    Does that help?

    It does, yes. And you were right – I believe I did miss this comment of yours.

    Since A+ is such a fledgling of a movement, and (some) people are excited, its entirely possible some are getting carried away by the delicious thought of not having to deal with bigots for a change that they are giving off an “us v them” vibe, or perhaps even explicitly stating such – though I’ve been all over threads about it and haven’t see that. But I think it’s a grave mistake to cast the whole of the movement in that light, especially since its so early. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying YOU, CT, are doing that, but that is what I’ve seen are the bulk of the complaints against A+.

    Now, having said that, another main complaint I’ve been seeing is that atheism the movement shouldn’t be tarred by bigot brush because there are some bigots in the box. That being the case, shouldn’t the same line of thinking be applied to A+? Even if there are some people, who are not spokespeople for A+, are in fact saying “if you’re not with us, you’re an asshole”, should the entirety of A+ be tarred with that brush?

    I do share the concerns that, like Occupy, that which could have been a marvelously progressive movement quickly descends into the status quo by another label. But it seems incredibly too early to assume that’s the case with A+. For starters, the creators of the movement have a personal interest in preventing that. (which Occupy lacked, imo).

    That’s also my issue with all these trolly comments about ‘cults’ or likening A+ to teabaggery or theocrats. Its very telling how some people immediately started trying to tarnish A+ with things that are not happening, things people involved are not saying, instead of listening, reading, digesting and coming to an actually informed conclusion.

    Refusing to listen, refusing to take in information, refusing to read the posts, etc. Doesn’t THAT sound a hell of a lot more like cultish or theocratic behavior?

  167. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And yes, CT you are one of the commenters I was referring to. I don’t think you’re malicious; it actually baffles me that you’re taking this position because you leave really insightful comments elsewhere. But yes, you are signalling something about your priorities and it isn’t very nice. Sucking the oxygen out of the room and making all about you you you you you you. Yes. I question your motivations. You should too.

  168. CT says

    Can you justify your interpretation?

    Of course, I tried earlier, but Jefir has stated that’s not what they meant so it’s irrelevant now. I misunderstood, pointed it out, was corrected.

  169. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Lack of personal interest, investment, etc., in A+ is perfectly fine and unobjectionable. But incessant whiny carping, strawmanning, and concern trolling, such as this thread and numerous others contain, actually does say things about the people who see fit to impose it on the community discourse.,

    Completely agreed. That’s why I keep trying to stress that, if someone simply isn’t interested in A+, cool. But if their actually desire is to shut it down and shut us up, then yes, that does say something loud and clear about that person.

    So, let me stress again: if you agree on social justice issues, but are simply not interesting in A+, no probs. Keep on trucking however you like. If you don’t agree on social justice issues, then why are you bothering us? We are not on the same side. We are not allies. So, stop being dishonest about your motives and just go away. We won’t miss you.

  170. kagekiri says

    @172 sqlrob:

    Ah, guess I’ve been misusing the term then. When I used it as a Christian and now, I assumed it meant no worthwhile values, but yeah, the ultimate value thing is probably a more useful and actually correct definition.

  171. CT says

    Josh: I question your motivations. You should too.

    oh, I have. repeatedly. Unfortunately my only motivation is to satisfy a need for companionship from like-minded people. Which is unfortunately, again, just all about me. And as you point out, none of this has to do with me. I’m not sure how something I believe in and follow has nothing to do with me but since you’re someone I trust wouldn’t lie to me, I’ll take it on faith that this has nothing to do with me.

    My priority is to not get sucked in like I was with Atheism. My priority is to find like-minded people who believe like I do — something that Atheism has so far failed miserably at.

    I’m sorry I take discussions about something I believe in as discussions that relate to me. I could use more encompassing examples but, frankly, it’s easier to just use myself. I’m lazy like that.

  172. says

    Jefrir: I’m sorry about the assumed “he”. I’m usually very careful to use gender-neutral pronouns when the gender of the person I’m referring to isn’t clear.

    I’m actually disappointed in myself that I did that.

  173. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    CT, it’s very simple. It’s more important to you to complain about being misrepresented (when you’re not) than any other task when this issue comes up. What is it you want people to conclude from this? What the fuck is your issue? Seriously.

  174. Chloe says

    I stopped attending an atheist discussion group in SLC because of what I perceived to be sexism. There was one man a few years ago (it might have gotten better since I left), who was getting a divorce, who managed to vocally sway the whole discussion towards if abortion and contraception were okay and if such things trampled on a man’s right to procreate. After a few weeks of attending the discussion group I felt I had better things to do than explain why women should have the right to choose not to be involved in procreation.

    I would love it if if I could participate in a movement that is both pro-women (and pro-everybody but bigots) and anti-dogma. I think a lot of people (especially non-confrontational, “type B” humans) just need a safe, steady, quiet platform from which to reject bigotry. It can be hard to reject some people if you’re supposed to be open to everyone, but I think it’s necessary for quiet atheists to stand firm in their convictions about what’s right. Unfortunately religion isn’t the only irrational platform upon which discrimination stands. I love that Atheism+ is trying to set some limits. I think the debate over Atheism+ is the most important schism atheism has ever seen. This is a real chance for people to embrace values that have a verifiability positive impact upon the world. This is so exciting.

  175. paleomancer says

    @noelplum99 —

    Consider that, in some circumstances, bringing these causes together too explicitly may, in fact, jeopardise your ability to make progress on any of them.

    Consider that, in some circumstances, actively and explicitly reaching out to members of underrepresented groups will attract new members who otherwise would not have joined. Does that seem unlikely to you?

    My personal impression, based on running my local meetup group (talking with new members, attendance, etc.) is that the gains will FAR outweigh the losses. I could be wrong, but I’m more than willing to find out. I’m having trouble imagining the “atheist who would have joined but doesn’t because we talk about gay rights” — or rather, I’m having trouble imagining caring. But I can imagine someone from an underrepresented group coming to a first meetup, hearing people who don’t take their concerns seriously, and never showing up again. For my money, that’s the greater loss.

    Beyond that, I’d suggest reading Z’s comment @ 150. Spot on.

  176. CT says

    Josh: It’s more important to you to complain about being misrepresented (when you’re not) than any other task when this issue comes up.

    Is that the way it looks? Sorry about that. I really thought I made my issue clear earlier in this thread. It is really all about me so it’s really probably not important at all. I mean, people are repeatedly pointing out that even tho some of the A+ group are treating it as a binary position, most are not so I’m having an ‘issue’ that really isn’t an issue at all. So, you know, it’s my problem. No worries.

  177. jim says

    Illuminata @ 181

    THANK YOU. I don’t know that we agree on all the minutae but you are just about the first person to seem to really comprehend and accept an undistorted view of the message the likes of CT and I are communicating.

    Pteryxx @ 180

    I point out that’s your interpretation, which may or may not be either commonly held or justified. Several other people here, including me, have pointed out why we’re interpreting that statement differently. (Not least of which was Jafrir flat out saying it didn’t mean what you thought it meant.)

    One of the quotes I think CT and I both struggled with was Jefrir’s:

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all? Is it so very terrible if someone assumes that you are a decent human being?

    It does not explicitly say that someone not associated with A+ is not a decent human being, but for people *not familiar with the intent, not familiar with Jefrir, PZ, Greta, or FtB* it reads as laden with that implication. You saying it doesn’t does not make that assertion true, because *clearly* there are people who *are* interpreting it that way. If all the regulars in the FtB community think it’s clear as crystal but the message is being received differently by a significant percentage of people outside of FtB, then you have a positioning issue that is going to hamper your movement.

    If the approach *from those participating in the A+ community* is going to be more often than not to say to all those people some variant of “Your reading comprehension sucks and you’re probably a misogynist to boot”, then the movement is done before it ever started no matter how aspirational its goals are. And before you say my quote is a strawman of what A+’ers are actually saying, take a look @ Josh @ 133. Josh said if you’re perceived of as objecting to A+ then your motivations are going to be called into question and all that implies.

    Personally I would have preferred the title Progressive Atheism or some close variant thereof, I think it’s a better differentiator and thereby avoids a material percentage of the criticism being leveled by the atheism community generally, and is more self-descriptive to boot which I think would make marketing the message easier. Unfortunately that ship has sailed.

  178. jim says

    Wow, I am sorry about screwing up that blockquote. Sorry to be repetitive but for the sake of clarity let me re-produce that part again:

    Pteryxx @ 180

    I point out that’s your interpretation, which may or may not be either commonly held or justified. Several other people here, including me, have pointed out why we’re interpreting that statement differently. (Not least of which was Jafrir flat out saying it didn’t mean what you thought it meant.)

    One of the quotes I think CT and I both struggled (as an example) with was Jefrir’s:

    Why is it so important to you to ensure that you are not associated with movements working to provide human rights for all? Is it so very terrible if someone assumes that you are a decent human being?

    It does not explicitly say that someone not associated with A+ is not a decent human being, but for people *not familiar with the intent, not familiar with Jefrir, PZ, Greta, or FtB* it reads as laden with that implication. You saying it doesn’t does not make that assertion true, because *clearly* there are people who *are* interpreting it that way. If all the regulars in the FtB community think it’s clear as crystal but the message is being received differently by a significant percentage of people outside of FtB, then you have a positioning issue that is going to hamper your movement.

    If the approach *from those participating in the A+ community* is going to be more often than not to say to all those people some variant of “Your reading comprehension sucks and you’re probably a misogynist to boot”, then the movement is done before it ever started no matter how aspirational its goals are. And before you say my quote is a strawman of what A+’ers are actually saying, take a look @ Josh @ 133. Josh said if you’re perceived of as objecting to A+ then your motivations are going to be called into question and all that implies.

    Personally I would have preferred the title Progressive Atheism or some close variant thereof, I think it’s a better differentiator and thereby avoids a material percentage of the criticism being leveled by the atheism community generally, and is more self-descriptive to boot which I think would make marketing the message easier. Unfortunately that ship has sailed.

  179. CT says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay says:
    August 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm
    I’m going to try taking my own advice. No, you may not.

    Is this for me? if it is, you lost me…. sorry

  180. jim says

    I didn’t explicitly state this in my message so let me do so now . . . I hope A+ succeeds. In substance I am behind the idea of progressive/liberal/feminist atheists having both a community and a movement. Positioning and strategy is where I’m getting tangled up, I have been glad to see the leadership’s reaction to Carrier’s initial salvo.

  181. Jacques Cuze says

    Greta, the reason I am skeptical of the incorporation of contemporary feminism in the foundation of Atheism+ is as follows:

    Agree with contemporary feminist goals or not, but contemporary feminism is very closely linked to politics these days.

    We know that Republicans are warring on women.
    We *know* that Republicans cannot be *true* feminists
    We *know* that equity/Libertarian feminists cannot be *true* feminists.
    I am not sure about Greens.

    I see statements of the above everyday, every week in the feminist blogosphere and made by mainstream feminists.

    If Atheism+ is intended to be a Democratically aligned political wing of atheism, that’s fine, but Atheism+ should be upfront about that.

    Otherwise, I remain skeptical that inclusion of politics or a politically aligned movement is coherent with the goals of Skepticism and Atheism.

    Last night at Stephanie Zwan’s blog in her “Legitimate Differences of Opinion” post, I brought up this contemporary feminist definition of sexism:

    According to the Finally Feminism 101 FAQ,
    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

    sexism = prejudice + power

    And so, dis-empowered groups cannot be sexist.

    As a member of Atheism+ can I be skeptical of that definition? Skeptical of the people who would write such a definition? Skeptical of the movement that embraces this definition?

    And this definition appears at a very well respected contemporary feminist blog, one that is cited by, and written by, many popular, highly respected feminists.

    And the Finally A Feminism 101 blog is linked to in the Pharyngula wiki.

    Can I be skeptical of that definition? Can I be skeptical about contemporary feminism?

    And if I can’t be, what can I be skeptical of as a part of Atheism+?

    I think these things should be made clear.

    Is Atheism+ intended to be a politically aligned Atheism movement?
    What are the basic axioms of Atheism+?
    Is it acceptable to be skeptical of contemporary feminism?
    Is it acceptable to align with other feminist movements instead?

  182. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I don’t know that we agree on all the minutae but you are just about the first person to seem to really comprehend and accept an undistorted view of the message the likes of CT and I are communicating.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything different from what everyone else is saying. Having been through a particularly disappointing experience that soured me on the Occupy movement, I get the legitimate concern that (like I said) what could be a marvelously progressive movement will quickly descend into the status quo by another label.

    BUT, I think that’s a wildly unfair position to take vis a vis A+. The people who started A+ have a distinctly and incredibly personal motive for NOT allowing that. And, even if there is some rando outlier who says “with us or you’re an asshole”, its wildly unfair to tarnish the whole of A+ with that. That notion is in direct contradiction to the very clearly stated goals of A+.

    We don’t have to all agree on all the details. To my mind, (and I beg the clarification from the A+ creators if this is incorrect) all A+ really requires is a commitment to creating a safe space for the non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-neurotypical, non-cisgendered, etc etc etc to do social justice in the name of atheism. To separate ourselves from those who may be atheists, but who either partcipate in, or simply do not care about, the harm that bigotry causes – to individuals AND groups.

    Basically, give A+ a chance before casting it aside with suspicions, but without cause.

  183. Pteryxx says

    jim:

    It does not explicitly say that someone not associated with A+ is not a decent human being, but for people *not familiar with the intent, not familiar with Jefrir, PZ, Greta, or FtB* it reads as laden with that implication. You saying it doesn’t does not make that assertion true, because *clearly* there are people who *are* interpreting it that way.

    I disagree that it’s a matter of familiarity. I think it’s more likely a symptom that the person objecting feels strongly that they, personally, are being attacked, so they MUST find an interpretation that justifies the feeling of being attacked – and this is a manifestation of privilege, specifically of never having had to consider their viewpoint as unconsciously biased before. Recognizing one’s privilege *overlaps with* familiarity with the arguments but is not the same thing – Greta, Rebecca, Jen et al have obsessive harassers who follow every word they say more closely than any of us who agree with them do.

    There are numerous examples of this phenomenon in these conversations, with research in unconscious bias to back them up. A great many objectors to the original Elevatorgate discussion used the straw argument “you’re saying ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS” just as one blatant example. That wasn’t what was said, by anyone, but a lot of people either heard that or found it convenient to behave as if that’s what was said. Whether honest or not, it’s still a misrepresentation.

    You’re Schroedinger’s objector. In the context of over a year of bad-faith arguments and harassment, and considering that A+ is an attempt to solve a serious problem where all other means so far have failed, when you DO object you had better have very good reason to back up your objection.

  184. Beth Hedrick says

    @Greta

    There is allot of mud being thrown about right now, and I read your blog. It says one thing, as a whole. You make it sound as if it is warm and welcoming. Yet, in the comments, I feel a brisk chill. Warm and welcoming as long as we don’t have questions, or concerns? As for “Elevatorgate,” take a deep breath. I was not in any way referring to that incident. I picked a normal every day activity that one may receive a invitation to. I am reading the blogs, and I am confused by what exactly is the plan. Everyone is spouting off this and that, but I am still wondering how any of these ideas is going to stop any of the above issues. So they get their A+ taken away, and then what? Do they lose it merely on the word of a individual, or do they have a opportunity to defend themselves? Will it be an alliance for those it claims to support in the real world? Or just policing the internet via blog sites?

  185. Barbara says

    While I certainly do NOT agree with his conclusion about the Atheism+ movement, I think that “Jim (noelplum99)” in Reply #19 has a valid point. It is something that we need to think about as we decide which ideals to work for in our lives and which to leave for others. At least, I had to think about it as I slowly came out as lesbian when I was also a middle-aged biology teacher.

    Jim wrote, using gay rights as an example, “The people whose minds you would wish to change on gay rights largely view atheism in a negative light; the people whose minds you wish to change in promoting atheism largely view gay rights in a negative light. Conflate atheism with these issues in their minds, make the association that pro-gay rights is the ‘atheist position’ and . . . the hope of anything getting through diminishes exponentially.”

    Getting students to take evolution seriously in my school at the edge of the Bible belt was difficult. Explaining the science was necessary but not sufficient. Fortunately, I had studied the Bible in college classes getting at serious questions of who write it when and why. I could talk knowledgably about it. My choice of language made it easy for students to assume that I was still the Christian I had been raised. Therefore, they couldn’t easily dismiss my ideas about evolution. I probably didn’t change a lot of minds, but classroom discussion made it clear that some students were truly thinking about this and questioning both my ideas and the ones they got from their churches. I like to think that I was starting changes in them, loosening up their minds.

    If students had been able to dismiss me as lesbian and atheist and Democrat*, I don’t think they would have had to consider evolution as a serious possibility. They had enough trouble with my being a damn fool environmentalist.

    [* I was actually registered as Republican, because that way I could vote in the Republican primaries, the only ones that mattered on a local level there.]

    We can’t solve all the important problems and we do need avoid unnecessarily alienating potential supporters. That said, I LIKE the idea of Atheism+. If it alienates some religious folks, surely it will also appeal to some potential atheists who can’t see joining people who don’t care about, or at least don’t talk plausibly about, ethical issues.

    PS. I though the blog post is great!

  186. Baronesa says

    See… this whole A+ is creating a division. I agree with the criticism brought by Jim (noelplum99), and others on youtube such as CardinalVirtues, StanMarsh1. I can also say that by watching and talking to them for YEARS, they agree with most of the goals presented by A+.

    Hell, I agree with ALL the goals, because (sarcasm) I’m a privileged feminist, lesbian, transsexual, latin american, socialist.

    My problem comes with the way some people like mr Carrier are talking with an “us vs them” language. “Either with us or against us” That is what he wrote.

    And furthermore, this further division will only alienate theist that share the same goals. Most of the people that fight for marriage equality and LGBT rights in general here in my country are catholics, for fucks sake! and A+ just put another barrier there!

  187. PeeGee says

    @158:

    So on the one hand: We have a situation where feminist women in the atheist movement have been subjected for a solid year to a relentless campaign of harassment, bullying, inappropriate sexualization, threats of death, threats of rape, violation of privacy, and more, to the point where many leaders have become exhausted and demoralized, and many women don’t even want to try taking part in it.

    On the other hand: The group that has formed in large part to combat this situation and to create a safe haven from it has a name that you think will be confusing and create an incorrect impression of atheism.

    And the latter problem is the one you are spending your time and energy on.

    Do you see why some people might have a problem with this?

    Wait. Wait a minute. Wait just a damn minute. Isn’t this the exact argument people have had with you and many feminists on Skepchick about the non-issues that’s been trumped up? Isn’t this exactly the ‘starving children in Africa’ comment you so severely dislike from the opposition when it comes to feminist ideas, or when discussing “Elevator Gate?”

    I’m not entirely sure what to do with this. Should we turn it around on you? Should we ignore it? I mean, the important thing is still the conflation — or subset — of atheism that’s being built here, but this is some heavy contradiction. I need a minute to absorb this new information.

  188. says

    kagekiri @144

    Does that make sense? Is this really the first time you’re hearing it? A+er’s mentioned this foundation, too. PZ definitely wrote about it.

    Not at all, it was pretty much what I imagined you were going to say..

    It is funny really when I consider the number of times I have picked up a Christian for portraying it as a dichotomy between Abrahamic monotheism or atheism, as if no other theistic positions exist or have ever existed.
    I suppose if you view the issue in that light then there is some traction to your statements and if your goals are largely politically motivated ones then you probably CAN justifiably pretend that Christianity (and Islam/Judaism)is the only alternative to atheism.
    That position seems very alien to me. Not only would entertaining it involve gross hypocrisy on my part but it would also involve placing a theistic position I hold to be incredibly unlikely over (in fact whilst totally ignoring) theistic positions (using ‘theistic in the wider sense) I hold to be orders of magnitude more probable (such as deism, intelligently ‘seeded’ universes or simulated universes ala Bostrom).

    Jim (noelplum99)
    PS: sorry for derailing this thread with a brief discussion of atheism there ;)

  189. says

    PeeGee, ‘way back in 97:

    She (Jen McCreight) makes this case from a few incidents here and there by some atheists,…

    You forgot, “making a mountain out of a molehill.” And didn’t you mean to include “whiny” and “hysterical”? Or are you saving those for later?

    I don’t think I’ll read the rest of your comments to see. They’re too predictable to waste my time on.

  190. Ralph Pickering says

    I applaud your stand on gay and transgender rights, feminist issues and pretty much all the social issues you take a stand on.

    BUT.

    Who gets to say what gets put under the banner of atheist+? It sounds like atheism has suddenly acquired a few extra prophets and clergy members who are lining up to tell people what they should think. I left religion for this exact reason (although it obviously helped that what I was being told to think didn’t line up with my observations of reality). Atheism does mesh well with a lot of social justice issues because those ills are often a byproduct of religious doctrines, but I take issue with a few unelected leaders saying atheism now means lack of belief in god, feminism, progressive socialism, etc and if you don’t like it GTFO. Even if they were elected, it doesn’t matter. What happens when something gets added that I don’t agree with… I don’t know… Libertarianism say? Who decides what is part of the label and what isn’t?

    Also, when it comes to fighting these evils in society, if it means standing alongside like minded theists, then I don’t want an “atheist” tag becoming an issue. And no, Martin Luther King was not divisive. He was controversial, sure, but he was not divisive. He pulled in allies from all walks of life and that movement he started led to amazing social changes that forever changed the world we’re part of. Social change may mean rubbing shoulders with people who I religiously disagree with, but socially am on the same page. This new label will not help.

  191. says

    ‘Tis Himself ‘149

    “I’m all in favor of equality for women, races, etc. but I don’t want that equality conflated with MY atheism.” If Jim (both of you), PeeGee and anyone else objecting to Atheism+ don’t think this is a fair description of their objections to Atheism+, then please tell me how it’s wrong.

    I think it is a kind of bastardised (is that regarded as birth statusist round these parts or ok?) version but along the right lines.
    I don’t really know what you mean by ‘MY atheism’ as I can assure you my links to the likes of the OED and Merriam Webster are tenuous to say the least.
    i just cannot comprehend why a name like atheism+ would be chosen unless the express purpose was to be ambiguous for political motivations. there are so many more descriptive terms that could have been used (as i said earlier ‘social atheism’ or ‘ethical atheism’ that would have actually sounded like a movement rather than some new name for strong atheism or anti-theism.

  192. PeeGee says

    @206 Susannah:

    You forgot, “making a mountain out of a molehill.” And didn’t you mean to include “whiny” and “hysterical”? Or are you saving those for later?

    I don’t think I’ll read the rest of your comments to see. They’re too predictable to waste my time on.

    What are you babbling about?

  193. mildlymagnificent says

    it’s not a walled garden; there’s no secret passphrase you’ll need to know in order to continue reading Greta’s blog.

    I prefer to think of A+ as extending the already large house in which all those who don’t believe in gods are welcome.

    But. These are brand new rooms to accommodate lots of new and existing household members and we want to keep them in good condition. So there’s a nice big mat outside the door. If you want to be welcome inside, you need to wipe your feet and get off all the dust, mud, grass, gum and doggie-doo that might have attached themselves to your shoes before you come in.

    You don’t want to come in? No problem. You’ve taken meticulous care of your shoes all your life – and you don’t want to come in? No problem. That part’s easy.

    You’ve never taken any care of your shoes nor any notice of anyone’s household rules and you’re not going to start now? Dozens of people will shoo you outside and promptly clean up the marks you made on the floor. Not so easy but entirely predictable.

  194. nualle says

    PeeGee @ 137:

    It forms a schism – “old” atheists and “new” atheists – where one is a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” and the other “cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.”

    No, it doesn’t form the schism. Go reread Greta’s post. This was one of its major themes. The schism was dug (and goes on being dug) by those atheists who use vicious insults and threats.

    Those insulted and threatened delineate some ground for themselves on one side. Only then do you and others cry, ‘Schismatic! Splitter! You’re killing the movement!’

    Do you see now why you’re not well received here? Do you see why we question your motives? If you’re not a digger yourself, you seem happy enough to function as their federate, flanking us with arguments that boil down to syntactic quibbles to drive us off the ground, silence us as the diggers overtly want to do.

    But that won’t work because A+ is not new, it’s only a new name for the movement’s throughline. Plenty of historical atheists are known primarily for their activism in the social arena (e.g., Frederick Douglass, Emma Goldman).* The ground is ours. As we hold it, outside observers will come to see that the diggers dug themselves out of it.
    _________
    * Tip o’ the hat to Rebecca Watson for observing this, even as she voiced her own misgivings of the new naming.

    http://skepchick.org/2012/08/a-vs-a-vs-abolishing-the-grading-imperative/

  195. Alan says

    Great post Greta. I’d rather associate with 100 religious people who abhor misogyny (and they most certainly exist) than one atheist misogynist (and we all know they exist).

    I’m not interested at all in a club of apologists for women-hatred, sexual privilege, and abuse, no matter how interested I am in rationalism.

  196. says

    PeeGee # 209

    You see nothing wrong with calling the past year’s continual barrage of abuse, “a few incidents here and there by some atheists”?

  197. LauraA says

    Drew: care to rephrase your question in English? Like with enough grammar to make it clear to folks what you’re asking so that someone can actually have a chance at answering it?

    Are there people who have Free Thought Blogs has staunchly disagreed with and Atheism+ intends to support?

  198. I-beat-the-pussy-up-up says

    Please call yourself Atheist+. This will tell other Atheists who the retarded bigots are.

  199. RR says

    @Greta Christina #158

    Oh no, it’s “Dear Muslima” type of argument all over again. For shame.

  200. says

    Greta Christina @158

    So on the one hand: We have a situation where feminist women in the atheist movement … threats of death, threats of rape, violation of privacy, and more, to the point where many leaders have become exhausted and demoralized, and many women don’t even want to try taking part in it.

    On the other hand: The group that has formed in large part to combat this situation and to create a safe haven from it has a name that you think will be confusing and create an incorrect impression of atheism.

    And the latter problem is the one you are spending your time and energy on.

    I can see how it looks from that perspective. I would ask you to take a few things into consideration:
    1) I have nothing to do with your atheist movement and up to a month or two ago was in total ignorance that these blogs existed or all these conferences existed.
    2) I became aware of what happened through the Thunderf00t debacle at which point, whilst i had a mixture of views on what was going on, I twice unequivocally stated on video (still up and online) that the best course of action was clearly to enact an harassment code for peace of mind whether or not a problem existed.

    So I arrive at these blogs the last couple of days because i learn from others that there is talk of a new movement describing itself with terms such as ‘the third wave of atheism’ (as if the idea of the second wave wasn’t ludicrous enough) and then I see an issue which could extend way beyond the shores of these blogs and this ‘conference scene’ i had learned about. So why wouldn’t my ears suddenly prick up at this point when I hear of the totally (deliberately?) ambiguously titled ‘atheism+’ and what appears to be the political repackaging of something I spend a great deal of my time representing (it has to be said, a great deal more of my time than a lot of atheists around here who seem more interested in anything but).
    But then a further spanner is thrown into the works.
    Would I really want to deny you a safe haven?
    No. i have seen some of the abuse levelled at you and it is totally unacceptable – you have my sympathies on that. I can also see, just from the comments on this blog alone, that some of your readers are, shall we say, rather more fragile than the people I usually deal with online. I wouldn’t deny them the nice little snug place free from detractors that they seek, really I would not.
    But here is the bit that does not add up: is atheism+ the ‘third wave of atheism’, some kind of meme-driven irreligious juggernaut you all hope will take over the consciousness of nations, or are you really just talking about a title for a forum and a community where like-minded individuals can bounce ideas approvingly off each other without some total *nasty person* spewing bile and vitriol in your general directions?
    Can you see how I am a little confused? If all this is about is a ‘safe haven’ then, by all means, crack on and have at it! My conscience could not deny you that much. However, if as I have read in comments on another blog, it is about ‘redefining atheism’ and showing the world that atheism means more than it actually does then my objections will not cease and I am sure many many others will do likewise.

    just one more thing. A little quote from Jen McCreight:

    But its fabulous marketing-wise and as a way of identifying yourself as a progressive atheist

    I can think of another term that is great for identifying onesself as a ‘progressive atheist’ but where would be the ambiguity in that eh?

    thanks for the honest and open discussion on here btw,
    jim (noelplum99)

  201. says

    paleomancer @190

    Consider that, in some circumstances, actively and explicitly reaching out to members of underrepresented groups will attract new members who otherwise would not have joined. Does that seem unlikely to you?

    No it does not, you have made a very good point.

    I think it probably safe to say there are times and places where stressing the links that, admittedly, frequently do exist between irreligiosity and certain political and ethical stances is beneficial and times when it is best left unsaid and the arguments allowed to stand simply on the facts.

    Your argument is probably a very useful rejoinder for facing down those who see the point I made as their primary concern. Of course it is aside from my primary concern that this whole venture, named as it is, amounts to a hijacking of a term for political purposes. There are a whole slew of more suitable and descriptive terms this splinter movement could have chosen that would not affect your ability to sell atheism alongside social inclusivity issues one jot.

    Jim (noelplum99)

  202. PeeGee says

    No, it doesn’t form the schism. Go reread Greta’s post. This was one of its major themes. The schism was dug (and goes on being dug) by those atheists who use vicious insults and threats.

    Well, what do you think it would do? The wording is clear, and the need for a “new wave” is clear, so of course it would create a schism if you (general you) refer to atheists now as a bunch of [insert stereotype here] and the “new wave” is better, stronger, and for [insert list of good things here]. It creates a schism. Just because Greta says it doesn’t does not make it any less true.

    Those insulted and threatened delineate some ground for themselves on one side. Only then do you and others cry, ‘Schismatic! Splitter! You’re killing the movement!’

    I’m not sure I’ve ever said Greta is, as you say, ‘killing the movement’ because I’m not that dogmatic. Then again, I’m not the one considering atheism as something dogmatic with tenets, which with the addition of atheism+, would include these things. Dogma. Tenets. Straight from the horse’s mouth.

    Do you see now why you’re not well received here? Do you see why we question your motives? If you’re not a digger yourself, you seem happy enough to function as their federate, flanking us with arguments that boil down to syntactic quibbles to drive us off the ground, silence us as the diggers overtly want to do.

    Really? This is what the new atheist movement is going to be like? Okay.

    But that won’t work because A+ is not new, it’s only a new name for the movement’s throughline. Plenty of historical atheists are known primarily for their activism in the social arena (e.g., Frederick Douglass, Emma Goldman).* The ground is ours. As we hold it, outside observers will come to see that the diggers dug themselves out of it.

    Please tell me you do not subscribe to this kind of thinking, Greta.

  203. jedimasteryoda says

    Greta, you rock! I support all “divisiveness” that excludes these willfully ignorant bullies. This behavior just can NOT be accepted in any decent tent of like minded folks. My 3 year old has more sense than all of these MRA slugs and their apologists.

  204. Machina says

    It’s very discouraging to read through the replies to Noelplum99.

    Someone who has taken the time to put forth his valid concerns to the ‘A+ community’ was met with disrespect and was misrepresented.

    It’s very ironic given the A+ mission statement.

    Privilege and hierarchy is rife on this website. Also ironic.

  205. Jacques Cuze says

    FWIW, With all the discussion of noelplum99’s commentary, I went back and read it, and see that he and I are largely in agreement. (I hope not to put words in his mouth.)

    That’s not worth very much, but it is data that the movement seems very political, the name seems very marketing.

  206. colourmegone says

    I notice that you invite rape threats but, frankly, you’re not my type. Sorry about that.

    I think Atheism Plus is a great idea. It gives a focus for those who wish to address certain political issues which seem to have been sorely neglected. The only thing I regret is that there are those who wish to call themselves atheists whose behaviour has made this necessary. These things shouldn’t be issues in the 21st century, particularly amongst those who trumpet their enlightened status as free from all religious prejudice and superstition.

  207. Ryan S says

    Interesting read. Greta, you are always great at explaining things!

    One of the things I like about atheism in general is the acceptance of a broad segment of beliefs. This ranges from Sam Harris’ meditation fixation to Pen Gillette’s Libertarianism to Hitchens’ hawkish tendencies. (unfortunately all male examples)

    My primary concern is a kind of dogmatic slippery slope where otherwise inspiring people would be left out because they fail to meet 100% of the checklist. The contents of this checklist don’t seem to be set in stone yet so I have no idea if I will meet the criteria or not. However I see a preliminary checklist at the top:
    ——————-
    Atheists plus we care about social justice.
    Atheists plus we support women’s rights.
    Atheists plus we protest racism.
    Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia.
    Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.
    ——————-
    If that is the list and it never gets amended it looks like I qualify! However each of those points can probably be broken out into deeper and deeper sub-items. Some of these sub items are probably more and more debatable as they get more specific.

    Think about a politician. He says “I want this country to prosper.” Everyone will agree with that. Now he gets more specific. “I will change the tax code in these ways to achieve this.” All of the sudden there is a divide! The devil is in the details. As long as there is allowed disagreement WITHIN the main points everything should be fine. However if there turns out to only be one dogmatic way to treat each of these issues, I fear it is doomed to fail.

    So that is all. I’m not anti A+ at all, and I hope it achieves its goals. I’m particularly interested in making atheism a more diverse community and I think A+ can help! However if A+ doesn’t allow for much diversity of opinion within its ranks I fear it won’t pan out.

  208. PeeGee says

    @209 Susannah:

    You see nothing wrong with calling the past year’s continual barrage of abuse, “a few incidents here and there by some atheists”?

    Is that what she did? I see a few specific incidents, where the majority of them are actually tied to the FTB/Skepchick community, and one of them has to do with words on a t-shirt. Not exactly the “barrage of abuse” you speak of. Then again, you’ve made your mind up about me already, apparently, seeing as how you declared both my present and future motive. Not sure if I should continue.

  209. TheGillotine says

    It seems like I don’t travel the same irreligious circles as many people here, since I hadn’t heard about any of the misogynistic acts and comments referred to until very recently. That’s not to forgive them or dismiss them in any way, but I think the promoters of A+ underestimate the diversity of atheists.

    When you refer to the “Atheist Community” or the “Atheist Movement”, I don’t feel any relation towards what you’re referring to, despite being a vocal atheist myself. I came to atheism independently, in the tradition of Hume, Russell, Sartre and other existential philosophers, and others, and as such find myself separated from the Movement Atheists I see on this thread. I’ll attempt to briefly outline my issues with this… (group?):

    1) The Name: Too much focus on atheism, not enough on what appears to be the main point of the group, which is political special interests. Someone mentioned an Atheist Knitting Club earlier. The implication of that title is that it’s a Knitting Club for Atheists. If you want an analogous name for your group, you should call yourself “Atheists for Modern Progressivism” or something similar. Then it’ll be a Modern Progressive Club for Atheists. I doubt anyone complaining about this group would complain if it flew my suggested banner or something similarly descriptive. The current name either co-opts atheists who don’t want anything to do with your group, or implies that they aren’t “real” atheists, or are lesser atheists.

    2) Linking atheism with your political ideology. I’ve seen a few people in this movement saying that their political ideology is the natural result of atheism and skepticism. Well, guess what? It isn’t. There are also plenty of Objectivists who have been saying exactly that for half a century. How would you feel if Objectivists called themselves “Atheism-Plus”, or “Rational Atheism.” Personally, I think that atheism leads more naturally to classical liberalism or individualism, but that’s just my opinion. Recognize that your opinion is only your own as well, and we’ll be getting somewhere.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t give a Flying Wallenda about “schisms” or how the existence of this group aids or impedes the “political goals of atheists”. And although I condemn the hateful, bigoted, or otherwise jerkish remarks of atheists within your community as I would if they came from anyone regardless of religious belief or community allegiance, recognize that they don’t speak for me any more than you do.

  210. Rhodes says

    The problem that I have is that many of the people who are strongly for this atheism+ movement are the same people that will virulently label other people as sexist, misogynist assholes, as if calling somebody such things makes it so even if the person has very liberal views, but disagrees with many details. Who then decides who truly is an Atheist+? Is there going to be an official group where people can be kicked out like how the catholic church exiles people? Because if that isn’t the case the same people that are sexually abusing people could just call themselves atheist+ and then you haven’t gotten anywhere.
    The beauty of just ‘Atheism’ to me is there is no confusion on what’s a truly liberal position to hold, there are no rulers of a movement. I would hate it if I joined and I was subject to the rule of PZ Myers, Richard Carrier and other feminists.
    What I’m basically saying is if atheism+ isn’t a cult with rules and systems then it’s a pointless endeavor, so which is it?

  211. says

    PeeGee # 225

    “She”? Who’s “she”. It’s you that wrote that. I’ll quote the entire paragraph for you from comment 97:

    Right, but I couldn’t help but notice that Jen McCreight posited that today’s atheists in the atheist movement are nothing but a bunch of “white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men” – and generally contrary to the causes of civil rights, women’s right and racism, et al. She makes this case from a few incidents here and there by some atheists, and suggests a “third wave of atheism” and the name “Atheism+” or “A+” to replace the outdated views of today’s atheists. Like “Brights”, only with atheism this time.

    You wrote that.
    If you think that all that happened were “a few incidents”, you haven’t been paying attention.

  212. PeeGee says

    @Greta Christina #158

    Oh no, it’s “Dear Muslima” type of argument all over again. For shame.

    Right, but I’m not sure that’s what she meant to write. I’m on the fence.

  213. Greta Christina says

    I’m heading out of town for a conference, so I won’t be able to participate in this discussion much, or indeed at all.

    So the main thing I want to say, to the people who are saying that Atheism Plus is — or might be, or might possibly become at some point in the future — dogmatic, authoritarian, a cult, exclusionary, hostile or censoring of dissent, etc.

    Please go look at the forum.

    Right now, to the degree that Atheism Plus is anything tangible, it is the Atheism Plus forum. Which, as of this writing, has 700 members, with over 2500 posts on over 300 topics. Please, instead of speculating on what Atheism Plus might be based on the discussion of it in this blog, or based on its name… go look at the actual thing itself. Thanks.

  214. PeeGee says

    @228 Susannah:

    “She”? Who’s “she”.

    “She” is Jen McCreight, obviously. Am I wrong in referring to her as a “she”?

    You wrote that.
    If you think that all that happened were “a few incidents”, you haven’t been paying attention.

    “All that happened” was what she linked; few, specific incidents, which is among the things she makes her case in creating a “third wave of atheism.” Most of the things she linked to had a connection to FTB or Skepchick. She also linked to an incident (incident is being generous) of an infighting of feminists over a t-shirt. Some “barrage of abuse.” The thing is, I don’t really deny that there’s occurences of sexism or misogyny in the atheist community, on fora, or on conventions. I don’t deny it at all and I’ve had my fair share of arguments decrying said misogyny and sexism.

    But if someone’s going to make the claim of widespread misogyny and sexism within the atheist community — that isn’t frowned upon by the majority within the atheist community — then maybe most of them shouldn’t include the FTB/Skepchick clique to which she belongs, and again, a t-shirt. And then go on and declare the atheist community shot, due to these few specific incidents she mentioned.

    I mean, nevermind the name for a second, which you can’t doubt is political to the extreme, but that is what she’s espousing. It’s difficult to agree to both that broad of a statement, and then also agree to the name which is just a subset — or so she says — but we both know is something more.

  215. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Rhodes said:

    What I’m basically saying is if atheism+ isn’t a cult with rules and systems then it’s a pointless endeavor, so which is it?

    I’ll take false dichotomies for a hundred, Alex.

  216. 'Tis Himself says

    noelplum99

    I get it now. You’ve just discovered the Atheist+ movement. You’re all in favor it it but except for one minor point. You’ve decided we should discard the Atheism+ name because…well…just because but that’s a good enough reason for you and who are the rest of us to disagree with such a reasonable reason for tossing out the name everyone else has no objection to?

  217. says

    PeeGee,
    Jen didn’t say there were “a few incidents here and there by some atheists”. That’s your description.

    Jen wrote a few paragraphs in her original A+ post, outlining some of the issues. Outlining only, not including everything, not nearly including everything.

    Re the “barrage of abuse”; what do you call this?

    Like clockwork, every post on feminism devolved into hundreds of comments accusing me being a man-hating, castrating, humorless, ugly, overreacting harpy.

    This is from Jen’s post. (With my emphasis.)

    As to your newest comment,

    if someone’s going to make the claim of widespread misogyny and sexism within the atheist community — that isn’t frowned upon by the majority within the atheist community —

    No-one that I know of makes that claim. Eliminate your disclaimer, “that isn’t frowned upon by the majority”, and yes, that’s what we are seeing. But then we’re also counting on that majority; the potential A+ community.

    And how is A+ “political to the extreme”? I don’t see that at all.

  218. Eric says

    What I don’t like about Atheism+ is the inference (albeit unintentional) that if you’re NOT part of this movement/group, you are not supportive of social justice, equality, etc. I know, I know.. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. You can be supportive and not be a part of this.” But the effect is unintentional, but there.

    As much as you do not want to acknowledge it, this DOES divide the atheist community.

    I might not agree at all with a libertarian or racist or sexist or conservative Republican atheist, but I do want them on on my side when arguing religion and keeping it out of government, schools, and my life. This movement serves to separate atheists more.

    By my refusal to label with a “+”, the assumption may not be that I’m a sexist or right winger, but there is the possibility that I COULD be. Let’s suppose I start an “Anti-Racism” club. What if many people didn’t join or refused to label themselves as such? Hmm.. maybe they’re racists. It’s unnecessarily divisive, and reminds me of the sectarianism that has divided Christianity.

    Lets focus on making more atheists in the US and abroad. Keep fighting for progressive values and social justice and equality – I certainly do – but this is not a move that will make the atheist community stronger.

    I think just the comments on Greta’s blog and around the web are a testament to that. Cheers

  219. mandrellian says

    TL;DR alert!

    People objecting to A+ (be it the name or the intent – accurately described or otherwise) remind me of old-school vampire fans complaining about the recent trend known as “vampire-but”.

    What’s a “vampire-but”? Still an immortal undead blood-drinker, but with a twist on the traditional gloomy old count. Angel from the Buffyverse was a vampire BUT he had a soul. The True Blood vampires are vampires BUT they’re mainstream and no longer have to rely on drinking humans because of the nominal “True Blood”, a synthetic blood substitute (they’re also a reviled minority). The Twilight (gah!) vampires are vampires BUT they sparkle in sunlight instead of being instantly carbonised. Wesley Snipes’ Blade is a vampire BUT he can go out in the sun because he’s not actually 100% vampire (and because he has badass shades). You get the idea, the list goes on – in fact you could substitute “vampires” with “Jedi” or “X-Men” or any re-imagining or expansion or new chapter of any fictional universe that people are fond of and loyal to.

    Fans of traditional vampire lore denigrate and even despise the “vampire – buts” because they’re (a) new and (b) different. That small but potent combination forces the old fans to re-examine the objects of their affection in a new way and perhaps admit to the possibility that their favourite old narratives and characters – indeed, their universe itself – weren’t or aren’t complete. Many people take that as a harsh criticism and an implication of inferiority and become instantly defensive. Quite often, the very fact that something is new is in and of itself enough to engender resistance – add “difference” to “newness” and you have an uphill battle. This resistance to new ideas, frontiers or boundaries for existing paradigms is completely understandable and I’m quite sure it’s been experienced within just about every group of humans ever formed, regardless of the reason for the formation, be it a couple of friends, a book club or an entire continent. New, different things make people suspicious, uneasy, skeptical. Such people look for weakness – usually either to exploit it or to highlight it so it can be remedied.

    But even as the new ideas come thick and fast, noone’s taking away the old vampires and replacing them with the new wussy, sensitive ones. Nobody’s forcing the new breed of vampires to be the new normal. There’s not even a requirement that fans of the old vampires even have to acknowledge, much less accept, the new narratives into existing lore. All the new vampires are saying is “We’re here, we’re vampires too, here are our stories, here are the things we want to talk about”.

    My point should be solidly made and crystal clear by now: people are always going to be instantly suspicious of anything new and different. Tiny, ancient parts of our brain are wired thus through millions of years of hypersensitivity to threats (helpful when you’re a walking snack with no claws or wings or big teeth, not so helpful when it’s just ideas you’re discussing).

    However, I believe that most people who currently criticise A+ are overreacting – even experiencing an unconscious reflex action. Some will be malevolent and willfully destructive in their approach, but most appear to be running on an instinct that this might not be such a great idea and are rationalising their first instinct, because that’s also a human impulse instilled by countless generations of suspicion. But I also believe that through prolonged exposure to and discussion of this new and different thing, the honest and good-faith critics of A+ will eventually see that it is no threat, that it is perhaps not what they originally thought, that it won’t deny them their existing identity, that it won’t force a new identity on them, that it won’t conflate them with things they’d rather not be associated with, that it won’t redefine atheism or dictate what an atheist can think or believe outside the question of whether gods exist and will accept and understand that it’s just a new chapter written by new authors.

    But you know what? It’s not even been a month since Pteryxx coined “Atheism Plus” in Jen McCreight’s thread. I’d advise the current critics to hold off on the brickbats and actually see how the A+ idea crystallises. In fact, this idea is so new that the A+ critics (those that are genuine and that do argue in good faith and do have honest questions and concerns, instead of resembling yet more of the chorus of FTB-haters) have a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor and try to effect change where they see it’s needed, before the problems they currently see get beyond fixing. Who knows? The critics might be able to shape A+ into something they do want to be a part of. If they don’t want to even enter that discussion, then here’s the good news: noone’s making them join and noone’s taking atheism away from them.

  220. PeeGee says

    @234 Susannah:

    Re the “barrage of abuse”; what do you call this?

    Right, but we both know we can jot that down to hyperbole. I bet that more than a few may have risen from their cesspit and said more than a few unsavory words to Jen that were unwarranted, but that insult is very specific. And hundreds? Doubt it. Unfortunately she’s inherited this kind of rhetoric from Ophelia Benson (and so has Rebecca Watson). Greta Christina is not so keen on exaggerating. But don’t get me wrong: I get what she’s saying.

    No-one that I know of makes that claim. Eliminate your disclaimer, “that isn’t frowned upon by the majority”, and yes, that’s what we are seeing. But then we’re also counting on that majority; the potential A+ community.

    Well, it’s a good thing I just informed you of one who did: Jen McCreight.

    Also, the atheist community is pretty damn big. To say that the majority in the community does not frown on misogyny and sexism is just plain bullshit. Which is another reason for why atheism+ doesn’t sit right with me: painting the community with such a broad stroke.

    And how is A+ “political to the extreme”? I don’t see that at all.

    Because it’s using the word “atheism” for its own ends. While it may not be redefining the word — even though on the surface that’s what it looks like — and instead just creating a subset (the first of its kind?), why atheism? You may as well have used another word, like knitting, and conflating it with other narratives and it would have meant the same thing. Except it doesn’t have anything to do with knitting.

    When I say I’m an atheist, do I really have to say I’m an atheist plus I support all these other things? Do I really have to say I knit plus I support all these other things? Do I really have to say I like turtles plus I support all these other things? Do I really have to say I like chicken nuggets PLUS I support all these other things? It’s such a ridiculous premise. Which is not to say I *don’t* support all those other things, just that it doesn’t have to be conflated with a single word, or term, or a phrase, that now has an air of dogma about it. I’m an atheist. Full stop. I like turtles. Full stop. I like chicken nuggets. Full stop. (I don’t knit, but if you knit, you knit. Full stop.)

  221. Ryan S says

    @230 Greta Christina

    I checked out the forum and I might even join in, there are some interesting conversations over there. So far it seems pretty tame but I have been intentionally avoiding the more controversial threads (most of which are locked already). I’ve decided to try to taste the best A+ has to offer first! Everyone else take a look. Its not really what I expected to be honest.

  222. PeeGee says

    @237 mandrellian:

    It’s completely the same thing to reimagine mythological creatures, like vampires, to redefining atheism. Unless you’re suggesting that we should create various subsets of atheism+, like various reimaginings of vampires? Like atheism plus we endorse nazism, or atheism plus we like Ayn Rand, or atheism plus ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. That is, if we’re to make any sense of that analogy.

  223. JoeW says

    Thank you.

    I am profoundly put off by all the things you complain about. I was never very active in Less Wrong but I’ve disengaged largely because of their odd love-affair with PUA memes and their general social justice fails.

    I’m very interested to see what comes of A+ and will look into it more closely now.

    It might even inspire me to more visibly object to these fails in Less Wrong and elsewhere. :)

  224. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    PeeGee wrote:

    Right, but we both know we can jot that down to hyperbole.

    It’s always very interesting to see how some people view ill treatment when they have the luxury of never having to fear being on the receiving end.

    Very interesting indeed.

    Unfortunately she’s inherited this kind of rhetoric from Ophelia Benson (and so has Rebecca Watson).

    What do you mean by this? That they exaggerate? Or that they deserve it for being outspoken?

    When I say I’m an atheist, do I really have to say I’m an atheist plus I support all these other things?

    Can you point to the part where anyone’s telling you have to to do anything at all?

  225. Greta Christina says

    Right, but we both know we can jot that down to hyperbole. I bet that more than a few may have risen from their cesspit and said more than a few unsavory words to Jen that were unwarranted, but that insult is very specific. And hundreds? Doubt it.

    PeeGee @ #238: I am going to say this as calmly as I can. If you are going to characterize Jen’s description of what’s been happening in her blog as “hyperbole,” I want you to leave my blog. Now.

    You have apparently not actually bothered to visit Jen’s blog when one of these explosions has been happening. Yes, she gets hundreds of abusive comments. That is not hyperbole. That is reality.

    I have been tolerating some very objectionable ideas in these conversations, because I want these ideas to be thrashed out. I do think there may be reasonable objections to Atheism Plus — certainly in the practice, maybe even in the basic idea (although I honestly haven’t seen many of the latter). And I want people who have concerns about it to have a place to express them and have them addressed. But one of the things that this “new wave” is making me realize is that I do not have to provide a home in my blog for people who diminish and trivialize the abuse that I, and that other women, have been enduring.

    This is one of the points that people keep making, and that other people keep missing: The sexism and misogyny problem in atheism is not simply a matter of some atheists saying and doing truly horrible things. It is a matter of some atheists saying and doing truly horrible things… and many, many other atheists trivializing these things, rationalizing them, derailing the discussions about them, excusing them, blaming the victims of them, even defending them… and expecting women to just put up with them.

    I am willing to host a debate about the relative merits and flaws of Atheism Plus. But I am not willing to host it for people who do not even recognize the seriousness of the problems that have motivated it. Apologize, or leave. Now.

  226. Eric P says

    Apologize, or leave. Now.

    I know this was directed to one specific individual because of comments that Greta finds objectionable on her blog, which is her right, but it is representative of why FTB is no longer my home page. It is the same reason I couldn’t join Atheism + even if I wanted to. I simply can not be the subservient emasculated toadying lick-spittle that I would need to be to be considered acceptable to our new feminist overlords* (or at least the ones who run all of the blogs comment sections). I do sincerely wish you well in your endeavors though since I believe in your (stated) goals.

    _________________________________________

    * Overladies? Overwymn? Overpersons?

  227. says

    Can I ask a question?

    I don’t ever go to the slimepit or MRA sites because, well… because they are what they are.

    So can someone who DOES do such tell me if the people here complaining that they’re somehow being mischaracterized as sexist because they don’t like the A+ idea are expending as much effort in those other places complaining about the sexism and misogyny?

  228. Subtract Hominem says

    Eric @235

    What I don’t like about Atheism+ is the inference (albeit unintentional) that if you’re NOT part of this movement/group, you are not supportive of social justice, equality, etc. I know, I know.. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. You can be supportive and not be a part of this.” But the effect is unintentional, but there.

    This is true to the exact same extent that not being a member of the FFRF implies that one doesn’t want to be free from religion, or that all Americans who don’t belong to American Atheists are believers by inference.

  229. Sash says

    One thing I became well aware of quickly in the pseudo solidarity that comes with focusing on any empty or unfulfilled cause (atheism included) is that humans will in general tend to fill the void of ideology with a set of principles & in the case of atheism, adhering to it’s religiously bow tied principles with all the dogma that comes along with the formation of any ideology. The hunters soon become the hunted. Atheism is not an ideal, it is merely a byproduct of personal freedom via introspection. Yet as humans we are often seeking answers, we turn to those that offer them be it true or discretely disguised as truth just as the humans of old turned to priests & oracles for guidance, so walks in the figureheads of atheism completing it’s journey through the vacuous realms of doubt to an ideology within it’s own right proving just why the ‘Ism’ was attached to atheos in the 1st place.

    The bizarre thing is, according to what Atheism actually translates to (Atheos + Ism = a belief system & or set of principles based on the non existence of god(s)) You have succeeded in establishing an ideology within Atheism that has nothing to do with godlessness.

    I personally know many theists (& an Archbishop) that advocate gay, trans, female & human rights, anti racism, pro evolution, that fight to keep religious & all morality out of legislation, That actively pwn creatards better than I have ever seen an atheist do & much much more than you people will ever stand for under the banner ‘Atheism+’ as if you need a crutch to justify your views. As if you can’t establish the nerve to simply face these issues on their own, you have to rely on an established label in order to feel strong enough.

    They don’t do it under the banner of religion as in their mind religion has nothing to do with these standpoints, they do it because it is the right thing to do. Ironic that some religious people get it more than you lot.

    I personally stand for gay, trans, female, human rights (equality), am anti racist, am pro evolution, am an advocate for social justice of all kinds, etc etc. I don’t need any membership to be able to do this & buggered if I will a part of your group to enable myself to continue doing what I have for decades.

    If you ever have an inkling to suggest that because I not only do not wish to be a part of Atheism+ but that I fully condemn your actions, I am therefore against all the things your ‘+’ represents, you are idiotic in the extreme.

    I stand for much much more than your ‘+’ can ever be & I do it because it is the right thing to do, not because I am considered atheist.

  230. starguts says

    noelplum99

    You have stated your case clearly and intelligibly. I think that you have been poorly responded to and grossly misunderstood on several points. However, I must say that you are simply, and deeply, WRONG.

    I don’t consider arguments about the physical label of ‘atheism+’ to be valid, or terribly important. I’ll let you and all the other pedants argue that. Here is what I gather that your real objections all boil down to. This is what I find important and surprising and blindingly wrong anyways:

    “What I object to is a deliberate attempt to conflate ANY political position with atheism”

    How can you possibly be serious? No woman lives in a vacuum, and one’s ideas, especially those on foundational issues, are ALWAYS political whether you particularly like it or not.

    Actually, you are even more wrong than just this.

    Not only are your PUBLICALY voiced opinions on the most purest discussions of atheism always political in themselves, not only do you not exist in a vacuum, but also IDEAS do not come in nice and neat prepackaged little separate bundles for you to put on your shelf next to you whilst you are vloging.

    Ideas are feed by tributaries of logical coincidences and spring forth streams of reasoned conclusions that twist off in varied unpredicted flows which are yet bound logically to a germ of thoughts. Once one accepts that there be no gods, a whole host of truths come pouring down upon ones head with the full and terrifying weight of the empty indifferent universe.

    If we really are alone, if there really is no ‘one’ up there, then what are we to do? Without an agent of myth to fulfill the most lovely of religious fantasies, who but your neighbor will aide in securing you from want and pain? Is not social justice the study of these questions? Is not Atheism+ a tentative grasp at an answer?

    Atheism is the acknowledgment of our universal situation, the logical acceptance of physical science if you will, atheism+ is the acknowledgment of our social situation, the logical acceptance of social science/history. The one flows from the other, and both really are different vantages upon the single reality by which we conscious beings find ourselves beset upon all sides.

    Key words in caps, not screamed words. Screed complete.

  231. shadowfox1881 says

    Atheism is rejection from belief in god. Atheism deals specifically with not believing in god, and shouldnt mean anything but not believing in god. I dont see the point in adding the addition symbol, and claiming that means that atheism has a stand on social issues now… im an atheist, and im also for gay rights, but that doesnt mean that because im an atheist i have to be for gay rights. There are atheists all over the chart on these issues, and to say that it is THE atheism movement will certainly cause confusion.

    My father thought atheism was satanism, until i carefully explained to him why hewas wrong. Noelplum99 points this problem out clearly. People who are against gay rights most likely have negative opinions atheism, so bringing the two together under one definition will just fuel their positions on both issues.

    Also, i havent even heard where atheism come into play on feminism or any other social sue! Theists have alot to say, considering their gods usually glorify the status of men and hate homosexuality, but atheism itself has no stand on anything but the lack of belief in god. Im afraid you are giving theists comfirmation in their idea that atheism is a religion. You are damaging the term by adding more baggage to it. Pretty soon it wont be atheism, it will be atheifeminisomosexualrightssm…
    Change the name please, dont give theists the ammunition they so desperatley need…

  232. says

    Thank you, Greta. I was hoping not to have to argue this all night, but I wasn’t going to let him (?) get away with it, either.

    I doubt PeeGee will be back, but I want to clarify a couple of things that came up in that last comment.

    I wrote, “No-one that I know of makes that claim. Eliminate your disclaimer, “that isn’t frowned upon by the majority”, and yes, that’s what we are seeing. But then we’re also counting on that majority; the potential A+ community.”

    (PeeGee)…To say that the majority in the community does not frown on misogyny and sexism is just plain bullshit. Which is another reason for why atheism+ doesn’t sit right with me: painting the community with such a broad stroke.

    I think PeeGee got what I wrote completely backwards. The claim he says we’re making was that there is

    … widespread misogyny and sexism within the atheist community — that isn’t frowned upon by the majority within the atheist community —

    I affirmed the first half; we see “widespread misogyny and sexism within the atheist community”, and denied the second half. I was saying that I think the majority does frown on m&s. (I may be too optimistic; I hope not.)

    And how is A+ “political to the extreme”? I don’t see that at all.

    Because it’s using the word “atheism” for its own ends. While it may not be redefining the word — even though on the surface that’s what it looks like — and instead just creating a subset (the first of its kind?), why atheism?

    Because we’re atheists. There are groups like “Christians for Peace”, “British Columbians against Enbridge”, “Knitting Mothers”. I’m inventing the names, but you get the idea. I’m not going to be part of a community labelled “Christians against sexism”. Because I’m not a Christian. I’m atheist.

    The first term just names the larger category we fit into; the + specifies what we are trying to accomplish. It says nothing at all about those who have other aims.

    It seems quite clear to me. I don’t know where the difficulty lies, unless you’re just looking for excuses.

  233. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Eric P wrote:

    I simply can not be the subservient emasculated toadying lick-spittle that I would need to be to be considered acceptable to our new feminist overlords* (or at least the ones who run all of the blogs comment sections).

    It’s fascinating how many people seem to be leaping up and crying ‘hivemind!’ or ‘lockstep!’ when they were quite happy to buzz and march along when it was something they didn’t like – e.g. religion – being criticised at places where there are firm commenting policies enforced.

  234. says

    If you ever have an inkling to suggest that because I not only do not wish to be a part of Atheism+ but that I fully condemn your actions, I am therefore against all the things your ‘+’ represents, you are idiotic in the extreme.

    I stand for much much more than your ‘+’ can ever be & I do it because it is the right thing to do, not because I am considered atheist.

    Can I ask you one simple question?

    Why are you here? I mean that seriously. I’m not telling you to leave. I’m just asking. Not only because you stand for much much much more than we can ever hope to which would seem to imply that you’re a very busy person… but also and mainly because I wonder what you’re getting out of it.

    I personally have so much free time on my hands I get bored out of my tree, but I still don’t have so much free time that I go to whatever site hosts the so-called “slimepit” to tell people there I disagree with them.

    I don’t go to Young Republicans meetings or hang out on Stormfront or whatever “pro-life” blogs are around telling those people I disagree strenuously with them.

    Maybe you just have the need to. OK, I get that. Fine, you’ve let it be known.

    Now what?

    It would seem to me that most of us here disagree with you to varying degrees. You haven’t made a convincing argument to sway people to your way of thinking. What is your objective?

    Is WordPress running a “every comment gives you another chance to win!” contest or something? Now that you’ve fully condemned us, can we get on with what we were doing? Kthnxbye

  235. says

    Oh and to those concerned about A+ being confusing to theists, I’ll grant you that that isn’t a hard thing to accomplish, but it would seem to me that your worries are just a little bit overstated.

    First, even the most optimistic person would I think concede that it will take YEARS before “A+” means anything to the average theist other than a school book report grade or maybe the name of a carpet cleaning service.

    Some of those concerned about that potential problem have conceded that theists they know don’t even understand what “atheist” means.

    The word atheist has been around for at least 450 years.
    If we can’t create a new term because it might confuse people who still don’t understand a word half a millennium old, what exactly are we supposed to do – nothing?

    OH. Crap, I think I just accidentally guessed right.

  236. Sash says

    Oh I forgot, the aim is to exclude all criticism & dissent in order to be exclusive.

    My bad

  237. ccdimage says

    A†theism is setting itself up as some sort of internal police force. A set of political/idealogical rules to be used to cut people out. Already I can see a problem with the rules. I would like to be able to hear what the Dalai Lama has to say about gods but I do not support the “free Tibet” rubbish. Where would A†theism stand on having him talk to an atheist conference? Of course if they had any idea of history and social justice A†theism would not support “free Tibet” as the Dalai Lama is the head of an oppressive (ex)theocracy far more sexist than the Slyme Pit. So the Dalai Lama is one of the people who should be on the A†theism speaker black list. However I am still interested in what he has to say on issues relating to religion and atheism and I suspect so are many other non-believers.
    I for one do not respect the A†theism thought police nor would I follow the rules of anybody who thinks Atheism should be in any way exclusive. How anybody could support a club founded by fools who happily nod along as Dan Dennett is labelled a “white supremacist” is beyond me.
    I would like to see Atheism spread into all corners of society, yes even the prisons. Prisons are a hive of self righteous theology and in my opinion having the message of non-belief enter such communities would be a good thing. So in a way I actually want real thieves and rapists to be able to call themselves Atheists. I think if a few more of these people actually took responsibility for their actions then the world would be a better place. I would like to hear criminals say “I don’t believe” rather than “God has forgiven me”. Sure they are scary, and having a big hairy tattooed junky villain at an atheist on-line/irl meetup might make you scared but with due vigilance I hope Atheists can accept such people as non-believers and hear their storeys. I don’t want to live in fear, but excluding the people you are scared of, which seems to include males in general is silly. Schrodinger’s rapist exists only in your head and you need to learn to control your imaginations and fear.
    It may look like I post and run as I suspect a dogpile will follow. I don’t have much time for the ideologues that will pull my post apart to strawman and attack it bit by bit rather than the overall thoughts I am trying to convey. If you have a problem with what you imagine my morals to be, that is your problem and ignorant attacking of them will not help your argument. I will check back in a bit to see if my question has been answered.
    Final thought – People are complicated.

  238. Sash says

    @Jafafa Hots

    You say you don’t have time to disagree in a post that is basically disagreeing with what I wrote. I don’t know if I can take this seriously at all.

    You also suggest, along with some others, that theists don’t know what Atheism even is after 450 odd years. I would argue this.
    Atheism is exactly what the prescriptive term suggests it is Atheos + Ism .. or in short A belief of a god(s) nonexistence/a disbelief in the existence of god(s).

    To assume that theists don’t know what Atheism is when they in fact hold all the theological cards is laughable. They created the term Theos (god) & then the negation of that term, Atheos (godless). Both positions are bullshit as they involve an undefinable, unfalsifiable & meaningless term & treat it as if it was worth arguing over.

    You personally may not identify with this definition yet that does not mean the definition is incorrect. There is a colloquial (umbrella) term of Atheism that covers many specific theological positions implying a Set A & Set Non A variant. Now there is a political term Atheism+.

    While I have seen arguments in this thread about discussions in matters concerning Atheism is in & of itself, political in nature, that does not mean the internal politics have started to include external & unrelated politics into the internal politics of Atheism until now.

    Yes, I have been subject to much transphobia, sexism, misogyny & in general, vile behaviour at the hands of atheists but in the end, is this an atheism problem or a human ignorance problem? Having such attitudes within atheism should spell it out rather clearly that their behaviours are a human problem as opposed to an atheism or theism one.

    Again, there are established groups of people from all walks of life that band together to attack some of the social injustices that the greater society has to deal with. If there is strength in numbers, then what would be the problem with rubbing shoulders with a theist in tackling these issues? And how is making this membership reliant on the factor of being atheist supposed to add to the numbers?

    Not only is Atheism+ divisive within the group of people considered Atheist, it is also divisive in the collaboration one could achieve by pooling ALL people that are against such social injustices to tackle those problems, regardless of their theological position.

    & Jaffa, I will disagree with whom ever, whenever & wherever I wish.

    kthxbai

  239. Rieux says

    Eric P @244:

    I simply can not be the subservient emasculated toadying lick-spittle that I would need to be to be considered acceptable to our new feminist overlords*

    Swell. Door, rear end, etc.

    I do sincerely wish you well in your endeavors though since I believe in your (stated) goals.

    It is to laugh.

  240. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Sash wrote:

    Not only is Atheism+ divisive within the group of people considered Atheist, it is also divisive in the collaboration one could achieve by pooling ALL people that are against such social injustices to tackle those problems, regardless of their theological position.

    Can you point to any atheists or theists who are refusing to ‘pool’ with those identifying as A+ on issues unrelating to the specific inclusivity/social justice area that it was set up to focus on?

    Because, as far as I’m aware from all the posts and comments that I’ve read, every single person involved in A+ has said in clear and unequivocal terms that they fully intend to work with anyone on common issues such as, for example, church/state separation.

    I’ll say that again, just in case you missed it: every single person involved in A+ has said in clear and unequivocal terms that they fully intend to work with anyone on common issues.

    And if people who dislike A+ are claiming they won’t do that, then you need to cite them doing so, since they are the truly divisive ones.

  241. says

    I’m lucky as a heterosexual male in a fairly secular country (Australia) that being an agnostic atheist doesn’t have to mean anything to me. This whole ‘movement atheist’ thing makes me cringe now and I’m glad I was never a part of it. Of course it was always going to make me cringe. When a group of people unite based on things that they don’t do and don’t believe how was it ever going to not implode in petty arguments and bitter disagreements? Not believing in God never meant you couldn’t be a paranoid Islamaphobic head case. Of course it never meant you couldn’t be a cowardly hate filled misogynist. Of course it never meant you couldn’t laud science on the one hand concerning those stoopid creationists but then claim that IQ scores reflect a biological race hierarchy. Seems to me like the whole thing should be dismantled and issues regarding the encroachment on people’s liberties by religion should be handled as they occur by smaller, more specific interest groups (LGBT, feminism, child protection groups, religion out of schools/politics etc.
    Movement atheism is like trying to herd cats and some of them are pretty fucking nasty.

  242. TheTruePooka says

    @hoary puccoon

    “I must say, I’m skeptical of your motives, though.” (said to noelplumm99)

    Two days ago I had a white supremacist say almost exactly this to me because he was unhappy that I wouldn’t give him an opinion on Israel.

    One day ago I had a MRA comment also using effectively the same words because I didn’t offer full support of his position.

    so you tell me;

    Why should I view you as different from them?

    Anyone can say pretty words about fighting for justice but it’s how they interact with others that puts the lie or truth to their words and their intentions.

  243. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    I hope all the psychics here – and they can only be psychics, given that they’re making claims about people involved in Atheism+ are or aren’t going to do without them having to say so – are going to have a go at Randi’s million dollars.

  244. says

    Well I certainly don’t agree with how severely some of the grievances listed in this blog are described, but the over-all argument of people focusing too much on Atheism+ (for petty reasons) in saying that its divisive, or hurting atheism, is an argument that I can support.

  245. 'Tis Himself says

    xxdimage #255

    It may look like I post and run as I suspect a dogpile will follow. I don’t have much time for the ideologues that will pull my post apart to strawman and attack it bit by bit rather than the overall thoughts I am trying to convey.

    In other words, you’re not going to defend your comments because you’re afraid people will find legitimate criticisms of them. You just want to whine and run away.

  246. Sash says

    @Wowbagger

    With this movement being barely a fortnight old & the core beliefs not even spelled out yet in any official manner, you know as well as I that nothing has happened that would prompt you to ask such a question of ‘who is refusing …’

    Yet with proponents claiming that “This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV.” it is not hard to take from that there is going to be a certain exclusivity when it comes to siding with say a theist when it comes to common issues.

    To think that including a term such as ‘Atheism’ in anything to do with social justice issues is not going to immediately alienate certain people that would be likely to volunteer their alignment to pool together all available resources is quite naive.

    I shall spell this out for you in a simplistic manner.

    Feminism has nothing to do with atheism regardless of your atheistic position. Incorporating your atheistic position into your feminism is redundant.

    LGBTIQ rights has nothing to do with atheism regardless of your atheistic position. Incorporating your atheistic position into your advocating LGBTIQ rights is redundant

    So on & so forth.

    It is not the fact that you & others wish to leave yourselves open for collaboration, it is the fact that you are associating atheism as a core requirement of this movement that is in & of itself alienating.

    If a Christian wants to align themselves with you, can they join? Oh that’s right, they need to be an atheist to have that privilege to be able to align themselves with a social justice issue that has nothing to do with atheism. Not divisive? Hell no!

    Maybe a Muslim? No?
    What about a Scientologist? They are atheists 8) Can they join?

    Not only are you conflating atheism with social justice issues, you are also conflating social justice issues with atheism. None of the two have anything to do with each other.

  247. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    PeeGee @ 110

    heterosexual white men, or “cisgendered” heterosexual white men, or all of the above with the addition of “able-bodied” (which we can assume is something sexual). But almost always “heterosexual”

    Two questions.

    1) What on earth do you mean by the bolded part?

    2) Why do you keep putting scare-quotes around “cisgendered” and “heterosexual”?

    #1 has me baffled.

  248. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    @James Pope – if death threats and rape threats aren’t “grievous” in your world, what is?

    I blogged for a while. I wrote a post, just one, about how disability was portrayed in a popular tv programme. One post, one viewpoint.

    First came the comments threatening me with rape and death. Then the emails with the same threats + pictures of mutilated bodies, and of disabled holocaust victims, with “Wish you were here” overlaid on them.

    Calls to my employer, calls to the local police and social services accusing me of various offences, calls to my landline, letters to people in my street etc.

    Most people were horrified, but a subset of people mocked my fear, my sense of violation, with “God, you’re awfully worked up over internet stuff. What the hell would you be like if something really bad happened?”

    That’s the same crap levelled at Greta, Jen, Ophelia, Stephanie, Rebecca et al over and over again for more than a year. Why isn’t that enough? What is “grievous?” then?

  249. Jupadur says

    An attractive 15 year old girl goes to 4Chan. Who in their right mind would expect a civilized audience at 4Chan? That’s like walking through Spanish Harlem in New York city and then getting surprised when someone offers you drugs. Was she lost?

  250. Sheri says

    With your atheism plus now brought to light, you need not worry about me attending any of your conferences.

  251. says

    An attractive 15 year old girl goes to 4Chan. Who in their right mind would expect a civilized audience at 4Chan? That’s like walking through Spanish Harlem in New York city and then getting surprised when someone offers you drugs. Was she lost?

    First, it wasn’t 4chan, it was Reddit’s Atheism channel. Second, I absolutely expect civilized discourse from anyone who engages in a discussion with a 15 year old, no matter where they are. YMMV.

  252. hoary puccoon says

    The True Pooka @261 quoted one line out of context from my post @34.

    For the record, I was commenting on a very minor point noelplum99 made. I indicated that I was suspicious of his motives for reiterating such a minor point. There was *nothing* in what I said that could be honestly construed as some global attack on any political position. It was not even a global attack on noelplum99. Certainly his polite response @39 did not indicate to me that he felt massively attacked.(NB: I have indicated the post #s so people interested can easily check for themselves who actually said what.)

    I am curious why people who appear to be atheists have started using the creationist tactic of quotemining. This business of making elisions to change the meaning of what someone said seems to be a growing trend, and it hampers reaching any kind of agreement on any subject.

  253. AnneS says

    Feminism has nothing to do with atheism regardless of your atheistic position. Incorporating your atheistic position into your feminism is redundant.

    Has it occurred to you that you don’t get to define other people’s feminism for them? My feminism has everything to do with atheism. And my atheism has everything to do with social justice.

    Obviously ‘dictionary atheism’ doesn’t involve a commitment to social justice – which is why atheism plus has a plus in it.

  254. trinioler says

    @One Way Monkey

    Holy shit! That much hatred for one post?

    *sigh* I *really* hope A+scribe can dodge that kind of hate.

  255. Paul S says

    Greta, thanks for the clarification. Being an atheist by default, I watched the first A+ webcast to find out what it was about and although it seemed to lack a specific format I found it interesting and helpful. I wish the A+ movement and all involved the best. Although I’m not an outspoken supporter, I always take to heart what I can do to not be an asshole.

  256. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Sash wrote:

    If a Christian wants to align themselves with you, can they join? Oh that’s right, they need to be an atheist to have that privilege to be able to align themselves with a social justice issue that has nothing to do with atheism. Not divisive? Hell no!

    What on earth are you babbling about? Are you under the impression that people need to officially belong to the same organisation before they’re allowed to work together on something they’re both interested in?

    Good grief but you people are getting desperate.

  257. Ryan W. says

    @noelplum99

    “What I object to is a deliberate attempt to conflate ANY political position with atheism such as when jen McCreight talks of A+ as ‘third wave atheism’ or endorses the statement that ‘social justice issues are a logical consequence of atheism’.”

    I essentially agree. My only problem with the movement is the name and the rhetoric/logo that seems to suggest Atheism+ is THE new atheism. It seems like a deliberate attempt to re-define atheism. Supporters may be clear on the differences, but among the religious, particularly the religious right, we already have to fight an uphill battle in making it clear that atheism is only a single statement of non-belief and doesn’t necessarily denote left wing policies. The only political position that naturally follows from atheism is secularism in government.

    On a side note, I do care about several of the political aspects promoted by Atheism+ including support of sexual harassment polices at conventions. I do absolutely condemn instances of sexual harassment. I support equal rights for gay couples, protecting the environment, and several forms of social justice. I’m a freakin’ vegetarian. Although undeniably influenced by my skepticism, none of those things are dependent upon it…and I don’t want to see Atheism become an equivalent term with any of them. I want each argument to stand on its own merits rather than become bundled together in an inflexible ideological package.

  258. Sash says

    @Wowbagger

    No, I am not suggesting that at all. Way to miss the point, shall I throw it just over your head or reword it for you?

    “This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV”

    Somehow you see a Christian wanting to join this movement to align with you? What use would they be? & what use would they perceive they would be? Their PoV may have nothing whatsoever to do with any theological foundation but because Atheism+ does, it draws the distinction. To further underline this disparity, refer to AnneS’s assertion below.

    Are you seriously that inept to not see the incompatibility here? I am also very interested to see if a Scientologist could join your movement as they are most definitely atheist 8)

    @AnneS ” My feminism has everything to do with atheism. And my atheism has everything to do with social justice.”

    I do hope that is a subjective stance as if you are asserting this in the public arena, I look forward to hearing your justifications of this.

  259. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Sash:

    No, I am not suggesting that at all. Way to miss the point, shall I throw it just over your head or reword it for you?

    If by that you mean you’re going to throw another word salad at me, have the decency to put some blue cheese dressing on it first.

    Somehow you see a Christian wanting to join this movement to align with you?

    I’ll ask again. Read the words slowly this time. Why would a Christian have to join A+ in order for someone in A+ to work with them on an issue they are both interested in?

    Are you seriously that inept to not see the incompatibility here?

    Yeah, I’m the inept one for realising that people from different groups are capable of working together without one of the people have to join the other group first. Do you realise religious people have this thing called ‘interfaith’ where they do exactly that, without the Christians becoming Muslims or vice versa?

  260. Sash says

    A question I would dearly like to hear anyone’s perception on:

    If you were not Atheist or if a god was proven to exist, would you still feel the same way about these social justice issues?

  261. Pteryxx says

    Y’all realize, *misogyny* isn’t inherent to atheism either. Nothing in atheism *justifies* harassment and bigotry. So why focus on slamming the supposed jackbooted thugs trying to get away from the harassment and bigotry, while ignoring the thuggish behavior of those imposing it?

    Explain why atheism requires that harassment continue unabated. G’head.

  262. Sash says

    @Wowbagger

    So what could they add or how would they feel a part of a collaboration if the PoV is explicitly atheistic?

  263. AnneS says

    I do hope that is a subjective stance as if you are asserting this in the public arena, I look forward to hearing your justifications of this.

    It is indeed a subjective stance, hence why I spoke of my feminism and not feminism in general. My feminism is founded on my atheism and my atheism is founded on my feminism. For me, the two are inseparable. Obviously this is not the case for everyone, as there are plenty of religious feminists. But
    when you say ‘incorporating your atheistic position into your feminism is redundant’ that is certainly not true for me, and I don’t think it is for a lot of other atheist feminists either.

    The intersection of atheism + feminism + LGBT rights + anti-racism + disability rights (+++++) is, to me, the point of having any kind of organized atheist movement at all. We can’t effectively dismantle one oppressive hierarchy without fighting them all, because, well, welcome to the kyriarchy.

    Since ‘atheism’ by itself doesn’t describe such a political movement, Atheism + seems a good way to describe it.

  264. Sash says

    @Wowbagger

    Try answering the bloody questions instead of quote-mining me & then making a strawman argument.

    My question of _ “Somehow you see a Christian wanting to join this movement to align with you?”

    was in relation to a comment here that states “This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV”

    How would a Christian relate to an explicitly Atheistic PoV about any said social justice issue? What use would they feel they could be? How inviting would it be?

    Interfaith alignments are not made by people supporting Christin+ & Muslim+ standpoints. A Christian would have little understanding of any said social justice issue if it were expressed explicitly through an Islamic PoV.

    /headdesk

  265. AnneS says

    [blockquote]If you were not Atheist or if a god was proven to exist, would you still feel the same way about these social justice issues?[/quote]

    Absolutely.

    If I thought that God was sorting things out in the afterlife, for example, I would feel very differently about the important of everyone getting justice on Earth.

  266. AnneS says

    Gah, sorry for the messed-up html there. And writing ‘important’ instead of ‘importance’. It is after midnight here and past my bedtime …

  267. Sash says

    AnneS Said

    Absolutely.

    If I thought that God was sorting things out in the afterlife, for example, I would feel very differently about the important of everyone getting justice on Earth.

    Regardless of the latter expressed condition, if ‘Absolutely’ is your answer, the atheism has absolutely nothing to do with how you feel about social justice issues which is opposite to what you stated before to me.

    So which is it?

    Sidenote .. Will I ever get these damn quote thingies right >.<

  268. AnneS says

    I … really don’t see how that follows?

    My views on social justice are comprehensively shaped by the knowledge that we are mortal creatures who evolved from single-celled organisms, and who exist in an entirely materialistic universe. If I believed in any kind of God, afterlife or supernatural dimension to the universe, I would not hold the positions I do on feminism, LGBT rights, etc. etc.

    How precisely does that mean that my atheism has nothing to do with my views on social justice? In my view, it means that my atheism has everything to do with them!

  269. Jupadur says

    Oh, it must have been the “r” slash “atheism” part that through me. The r makes much more sense now, though. My bad. But honestly, Reddit isn’t much better than 4Chan. Don’t get me wrong. Demeaning a poor 15 year old girl is deplorable. Maybe it’s my own personal experience talking. I’ve just come to expect the worst in people online these days. Things like this are not a huge surprise anymore. It’s something about the anonymity of being on the Internet that turns people into hateful trolls. But what can be done about this? The Internet has been this way since I can remember.

  270. Sash says

    @AnneS
    Because I asked a specific question .. which was ~
    “If you were not Atheist or if a god was proven to exist, would you still feel the same way about these social justice issues?”

    Your answer was ~
    “Absolutely”

    No defined attributes of intention were offered about how this god demands people to act, any pre-requisites of afterlife entry or divine justice. That can only be determined by whatever doctrine that ensued.

    I can only conclude from that that Atheism has nothing to do with how you feel about social justice issues therefore your former statement to me of ~
    “My feminism has everything to do with atheism. And my atheism has everything to do with social justice”
    does not follow, as to keep in context, I asked how would you feel expressing you in the subjective.

  271. TheTruePooka says

    @hoary puccoon

    I see I will have to do a video explaining what a quote mine is. Let’s examine the quote I took and what you said quickly so you can better understand what a q

  272. says

    First. I want to remind everyone in this thread — this means you — to stay civil. Please knock it off with the hostile language, the heated rhetoric, the sarcasm, and the personal insults. Remember my comment policy. Thanks.

    Sash: I continue to be rather baffled by your argument. Here’s why. An analogy: In many cities, there are LGBT Democratic clubs, organizations of LGBT Democrats working together on issues having to do with Democratic politics.

    Now, not all LGBT are Democrats (some are independent, or Green, or apolitical, or even Republican). And not all Democrats are LGBT. But this does not make the LGBT Democratic clubs divisive. It does not make them confusing to anyone. It does not automatically conflate being LGBT with being Democratic. These clubs work with other Democratic clubs, as well as with other LGBT organizations. And in fact, many LGBT Democrats don’t belong to these clubs — I don’t — with no stigma attached to that non-membership.

    So why would a organization of atheist social justice activists be any more divisive, or confusing, or unable to work with either other atheist groups or other social justice groups, or inherently stigmatizing of atheists who don’t choose to belong?

    And I can think of many similar analogies. Physicians for Social Responsibility (not all physicians are for social responsibility, and not everyone for social responsibility is a physician). Union of Concerned Scientists. The Scranton Bowling League.

    You question whether religious organizations would be able or willing to work with atheist ones on issues they have in common. From my experiences working with student atheist groups, I can tell you that this is already happening. Many atheist student groups do “interfaith” work (I hate that word when it comes to atheists, but for now we seem to be stuck with it) with religious groups, on issues and projects they have in common. So your thesis has been demonstrated in the real world to be incorrect.

  273. AnneS says

    [blockquote]No defined attributes of intention were offered about how this god demands people to act, any pre-requisites of afterlife entry or divine justice. That can only be determined by whatever doctrine that ensued.[/blockquote]

    I don’t believe this is the case.

    The mere existence of God would, to me, dismantle the basis of my current beliefs about social justice. That basis is that no person has more inherent moral worth than another. If God as it is generally conceptualized existed, then it would be a being superior to humans by definition.

    If I thought God existed, I would try to find out what it thought about women’s rights, racism, etc. instead of taking the reasoned position that all people have equal moral weight and going from there.

    … and now it is 12:45, and as interesting as all this is I really have to go to bed. I shall endeavour to return to this thread some time tomorrow.

  274. says

    Things like this are not a huge surprise anymore. It’s something about the anonymity of being on the Internet that turns people into hateful trolls. But what can be done about this?

    Jupadur @ #290: Speaking out against it is a good start. Pushing back against it. Working to create a culture where it isn’t tolerated. Not acting as if this is just how the Internet is everywhere — it isn’t — and therefore accepting it and treating it as normal.

    And, very, importantly, not blaming the victim when it happens. Do not ever do that again in my blog. Thank you.

  275. PeeGee says

    Greta @ 243:

    PeeGee @ #238: I am going to say this as calmly as I can. If you are going to characterize Jen’s description of what’s been happening in her blog as “hyperbole,” I want you to leave my blog. Now.

    First of all, I do apologise. I didn’t mean for you to think I meant all the abuse levelled at Jen was hyperbole. Bad choice of words on my part. I did, however, mean that the specific insult she mentioned — by hundreds — was hyperbole. That is an exaggeration. As I said, I’m sure there’s lots of people who’ve climbed out of their cesspit to deal out unsavoury comments to Jen on her blog posts, but hundreds, and with that specific insult? Not likely. But as I also said, I know where she’s coming from.

    You have apparently not actually bothered to visit Jen’s blog when one of these explosions has been happening. Yes, she gets hundreds of abusive comments. That is not hyperbole. That is reality.

    Mmm. Don’t go there. I’ve visited Jen’s blog more than a few times. Most comments on her blog are positive, even supportive. That is to say the number of people who are kind and constructive outnumber those who are rude and derisive. Even the majority of the ones who disagree know enough to not call her names. But you are absolutely right that she does get her fair share of abuse. But on every blog post, hundreds of abusive comments, and on that line? Not exactly true.

    I have been tolerating some very objectionable ideas in these conversations, because I want these ideas to be thrashed out. I do think there may be reasonable objections to Atheism Plus — certainly in the practice, maybe even in the basic idea (although I honestly haven’t seen many of the latter). And I want people who have concerns about it to have a place to express them and have them addressed. But one of the things that this “new wave” is making me realize is that I do not have to provide a home in my blog for people who diminish and trivialize the abuse that I, and that other women, have been enduring.

    I respect you, Greta, because you’re one of the few on here who are not keen on exaggerating, so I would appreciate if you didn’t say I “trivialize” the abuse you and other women have endured, because I haven’t – and I didn’t. It’s just that Jen McCreight, Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson are privy to often … shall we say … sensationalise? And that statement, the one I responded to, was over the top.

    This is one of the points that people keep making, and that other people keep missing: The sexism and misogyny problem in atheism is not simply a matter of some atheists saying and doing truly horrible things. It is a matter of some atheists saying and doing truly horrible things… and many, many other atheists trivializing these things, rationalizing them, derailing the discussions about them, excusing them, blaming the victims of them, even defending them… and expecting women to just put up with them.

    You mean sexism and misogyny in the atheist community, right?

    Well, that might be true. Many, many people — who happen to be atheists — may do that. Trivialise, rationalise, etc. But the atheist community is really big. Aren’t you giving credence to the loudest and rudest and not giving enough credit to the people who speak up against it?

    I am willing to host a debate about the relative merits and flaws of Atheism Plus. But I am not willing to host it for people who do not even recognize the seriousness of the problems that have motivated it.

    Yeah, about that. Are we conflating atheism with feminism now?

  276. says

    Oh, it must have been the “r” slash “atheism” part that through me. The r makes much more sense now, though. My bad. But honestly, Reddit isn’t much better than 4Chan. Don’t get me wrong. Demeaning a poor 15 year old girl is deplorable. Maybe it’s my own personal experience talking. I’ve just come to expect the worst in people online these days. Things like this are not a huge surprise anymore. It’s something about the anonymity of being on the Internet that turns people into hateful trolls. But what can be done about this? The Internet has been this way since I can remember.

    The reason Greta made that an example is because that’s what she sees A+ doing in the long run; speaking out against and condeming hateful trolls. Greta (and I and others who believe in social justice) think the best way to fight this kind of behavior is to expose it and condemn it publically and to make it unacceptable to treat people like that. As is evident by the continued cesspits on the internet, ignoring it doesn’t make things better. As I said, your milage may vary. Not everyone agrees with this assessment and that’s fine with me.

  277. says

    @hoary puccoon

    I see I will have to do a video explaining how to recognize fallacy (I’ll send you a link when it is done).
    Let’s examine the quote I took and what you said so you can better understand what a quote mine is;
    Your comment;

    “Yes, I did misunderstand your post. What I am understanding now is that you don’t care how vile atheists are as long as they don’t start a group labeled atheist plus something else.
    I must say, I’m skeptical of your motives, though. Interest subgroups split off from movements all the time. Have you been protesting the atheist knitting group? The atheist groups for helping alcoholics? Or is your protest largely because you don’t agree with the goals of atheism+, and you’ve come up with a legalistic excuse to object?”

    I quoted this line; “I must say, I’m skeptical of your motives, though.”

    In no way does quoting this single line parsed from the comment change the meaning of what you said or misrepresent it. Your overall comment consists of saying;
    1: “What I am understanding now is that you don’t care how vile atheists are as long as they don’t start a group labeled atheist plus something else.” (fallacy – poisoning the well)
    2: “I must say, I’m skeptical of your motives, though. Interest subgroups split off from movements all the time.” (fallacy – appeal to motives)
    3: “Interest subgroups split off from movements all the time. Have you been protesting the atheist knitting group? The atheist groups for helping alcoholics?” (fallacy – tu quoque (you too fallacy)
    4: Or is your protest largely because you don’t agree with the goals of atheism+, and you’ve come up with a legalistic excuse to object?” “(fallacy – tu quoque (you too fallacy)
    I quoted as I did because your use of the tu quoque fallacy was the back bone of your comment.
    If you had followed up by saying;
    “However, this line of reasoning is futile and thus anyone who follows it is using poor logic.”
    Then you could have justifiably called it a quote mine. The way you are using quote mine?
    You just made it impossible for anyone to quote anything without it being considered a quote mine.
    And this;
    “I am curious why people who appear to be atheists have started using the creationist tactic of quotemining (sp)”
    In light of you accusing me of fallacies which is actually what you are doing & not me?
    I give you this response;

    I find that when dealing with atheists that they are often no different than any other group when it comes to ignorance, insensitivity and blatant, willful stupidity.
    While all groups share in having members who exhibit these flaws some groups seem to go out of their way to corner the market on them.

    Hope that helps. 

    Reverend P. Rose a.k.a.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheTruePooka

  278. PeeGee says

    One Way Monkey (formerly ‘Nym Too) @

    Two questions.

    1) What on earth do you mean by the bolded part?

    2) Why do you keep putting scare-quotes around “cisgendered” and “heterosexual”?

    #1 has me baffled.

    The bolded part is curiosity. I have no idea what “able-bodied” means in the context. We have one thing in common: It has me baffled, too.

    Scare quotes? No. I think you’ll find those are ‘quotation marks’, as I was quoting a person. If you read my entire comment, you’ll find the context of what the “scare quotes” entailed. Cheerio.

  279. Loki says

    Hey does anyone else hear the echo? Divisive…….divisive….divisive…..divisive

    Hey when some random blogger makes a comment that I see as divisive…..divisive…divisive…., can I justify my own divisiveness?

    Stupid people are a liability, so I say please do seperate yourself from them if you can. Hows that for divisive….divisive….divisive……?

  280. says

    @Loki I have stated that I have no problem with this group forming and existing although I do have a problem with them assuming there’s something wrong with me or my beliefs if despite sharing similar ideologies I refuse to call myself a member (some in the group have said this. Not all).

    I also have no problem with calling them/ members out if I see them taking some action that I do not agree with. How they respond will dictate whether they are just another group of self-back slappers, nut bags or a positive force for good.

    I’m assuming that since this is a sensible position to take it will be absolutely ignored and people will continue to fight like spoiled children who are upset they got %49 percent of the pie instead of 51%.

    Which is why I think I may just toss all of this and go take up stamp collecting. >.<

    Reverend P. Rose
    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheTruePooka

  281. thecynicalromantic says

    Hm, a lot of “outside” perspectives talking about how terrible this looks to people “outside” the movement. I don’t know if my perspective counts as “outside” or not–I’ve been trying to keep half an eye on “the movement” for a while in case it ever became not terrible, and I’ve found that periodically checking out various bloggers here at FtB was the least painful way to do that, so I have ended up relatively well informed on the issues.

    But I am also definitely one of those women Greta mentioned who wouldn’t touch the Atheist Movement with a ten-foot pole if you goddamn paid me.

    I was raised Catholic. I was also raised in that sort of 90s girl-power feminism that was basically like “There used to be sexism and that was bad; also don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something because you’re a girl; also something about self-esteem.” I was also raised to read a lot, and since I went to what sadly passes for a “world-class” public school system I was even taught a little bit of media literacy and critical thinking. Eventually the Catholicism conflicted with all of these. I tried to think critically through all I understood of my Catholic faith to try to suss out what was true and what was as bogus as the “women can’t be priests” stuff that was obviously ridiculous, and could come up with no reason to believe any of it was more true, just that it had failed to strike me as quite so blatantly false.

    I spent the next ten years identifying as: agnostic, nontheist, not religious, “nothing, really,” Pastafarian, Discordian, apatheist, “I’m considering joining (insert Ancient World polytheistic religion here) revivalism,” and pretty much anything else I could think of to avoid identifying as “atheist.” Because if I ever used the word “atheist,” particularly around other atheists, people would start talking to me about, like, Richard Dawkins and American Atheists and Christopher Hitchens and all sorts of stuff I wasn’t all that familiar with, but apparently if I was atheist, then I must already be intimately familiar with them and be a big fan. It was annoying having people assume I must have stopped being religious through reading about atheism and science, when I actually did it through reading about religion and history. When I did check out all these things I was not overly impressed, particularly with Hitchens.

    My social life wasn’t really set up to give me a very positive view of atheism, and I am fortunate to live in a pretty liberal place and move largely in social circles that are not very religious. Through high school and college, I could use how outspokenly atheist a given person was as an almost foolproof litmus test for how much of an elitist, smug jerk they were. My mean friends were atheists. My nice friends ranged from “recovering Catholics” to UUs, liberal Quakers, radical Catholics, agnostics, “not religious,” and neopagans. (“Cultural Jews” went both ways since many cultural Jews were REALLY outspoken atheists.) My ex who sometimes sexually assaulted me because he was ~so0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o~ SMART (he was a scientist! They’re the smartest!) that he knew when I was Obviously and Objectively just joking when I told him “no” was an atheist. My best friend who supported me through that terrible relationship is “religious but not spiritual,” in that she doesn’t believe in God but she believes in Unitarian Universalism.

    My curiosity about “movement atheism” and the “New Atheists” in particular lasted about the ten minutes it took to determine that’s it’s basically like my social life but A HUNDRED TIMES WORSE. The smugness. The meanness. The attitude that not only is science better than superstition for understanding the natural world, but that the natural/physical sciences are better than all other academic fields for majoring in at college, and that anyone who doesn’t have an advanced degree in a STEM field is an idiot and a waste of humanity and clearly knows nothing about anything (since after all, STEM fields are the only things that are real enough to know things about in the first place). The casual sexism. The general lack of social awareness. The widespread belief that if people don’t want to hang out with you, it’s definitely because you’re smarter than them, and can’t possibly be because you’re an asshole. The actual elevation of assholishness to a positive trait. The immediate decline in critical thinking skills that occurs the minute someone decides to *identify* as rational, reasonable, or a skeptic.

    I figured I had enough of a tendency to be a smug asshole who thinks she’s smarter than anyone else without deliberately hanging out in quarters where (a) this attitude would be deliberately encouraged and (b) everyone else was so monumentally terrible that it would be impossible not to feel superior to them.

    I liked to follow the periodic hand-wringing debates about “what do we do to get more women at atheist conferences” in case they ever came up with something that would make it seem like a good use of my time and money to attend an atheist conference. That is how I ended up hearing about “Elevatorgate,” which, from my perspective, seemed something like this: Atheism Inc. wants to know why more women aren’t coming to its parties. Rebecca Watson goes to one of these parties to speak about why other women don’t want to come to the parties, one of which is that when they do go they get hit on too much and in weird ways. Some dude hits on Rebecca Watson in a weird way. Rebecca Watson is like “That is the sort of thing you should have less of at your parties.” Richard Dawkins, Pope of Atheism Inc., says “BUT OTHER PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD ARE HAVING EVEN SHITTIER PARTIES!!” like this somehow fucking obligates women to shell out several hundred bucks to go to his shitty party. I say “This guy clearly cannot reason his way out of a paper bag; I am so not going to his parties.” The Atheist Internet flips a shit. I stay home and learn to read Tarot.

    Right now I am cautiously happy about Atheism+ or Progressive Atheism or Ethical Atheism or Third Wave Atheism or whatever the hell it ends up being called if it ever really does coalesce into a real recognizable social movement differentiated from the current New Atheist wave. I want to be able to call myself an atheist while also distancing myself from the current “wave,” because I think the current wave is crappy and not representative of me and my values.

    I hope that if this new wave works and expands it will possibly attract more people who sort of understand what a “social movement” or “wave” within a social movement actually is and how they work and stop trying to pin down who is definitely “kicked out” and “accepted in” with mathematical precision according to what authority. When Jen mentioned a “new wave” I would assume we would be judging who is in and who is out the same way we figure out who is a second- or a third- wave feminist: some people actually identify as one or the other, usually based on whether their views or actions fit more closely with one; other people don’t identify as a “wave” and you try and sort them more or less as second or third wave by looking at what they actually say and do and seeing if they seem more second-wavey or third-wavey (some people are kinda in the middle). And some stuff will only be able to get figured out in hindsight–Susan Faludi’s “Backlash” is frequently credited with being a major factor in kicking off the third wave, but it doesn’t start with “Hi, I am Susan Faludi and I am starting the Third Wave of Feminism. Here is how it is going to work and who is in and who is out.” The book just succeeded in pissing a lot of people off. Trying to engineer a whole new “wave” right from the beginning is way too ambitious a project for any one or two people to actually concretely plan right off the bat, but nothing happens unless we try to do it anyway.

    So I say: Good luck! I am cautiously in. My atheism is a DIRECT result of my feminism and I would love to have a community that accepts that.

  282. Sash says

    @Greta

    Thank you for your response.

    While I understand your points, they so far have not addressed the sentiment I am witnessing here in these threads. When I see comments like “This is a group designed to address social justice issues from an explicitly atheist POV” I feel it is the specific PoV reference that needs to be addressed.

    In this context alone, interfaith relationships would be given the least chance to succeed. Even interpolitical relationships if the PoV is explicit in any one direction or from any one direction would result in the same potential & common misunderstandings.

    I feel the very last thing that needs to be entered is anything based on any political or theological foundation to be inclusive when dealing with things that affect people of any PoV.

    Now for example, if this movement was called “Atheists for social justice” (for want of a better heading), I could definitely see that the atheism is merely coincidental & only relational to community but to have the heading Atheism+ implies an explicit Atheistic PoV.

    As I expressed beforehand, I doubt many people of differing PoV’s would feel inclined to volunteer alignment as many times, the PoV’s expressed would be from an angle not only foreign to them, but also could be potentially argumentative &/or confrontational. The last thing that would be needed is to have a discussion about misogyny digress to whether god does or does not exist & who it to blame for such behaviours.

    I am not saying that this is how it is as that is obviously up to whatever creed people agree upon, I am talking about how it is viewed given Atheism+ does not actually state anything other than the term Atheism with a ambiguous ‘+’ attached.

    I am sure if it were ‘Scientology+’, many people on this thread would bypass it like the plague regardless of the groups intent. You would associate Scientology as the major factor in this movement with the issues as minor or at the very least, expect to hear a lot of Scientology rhetoric between the relevant social issue attributes that would be common to everyone.

    I will now point to your example of LGBT Democratic clubs. The 1st thing I see is the onus is on the issue, not on the PoV. It seems clear that what these people see as important is LGBT (I say LGBTIQ) issues, not Democratic issues. It is succinct in their purpose.

    Now if the term was ‘Democratics+’, would it feel the same way? Which issue do you feel is important here? Even if it were ‘Democrats for social justice’ is would be obvious that the issue of social justice & not the Democratic political PoV.

  283. says

    “able-bodied” (which we can assume is something sexual).

    Able-bodied means without disability. It is not sexual.

    Each example you point out is used because they are all points of privilege.

    Cis people have privlege over trans* people.
    Heterosexual people have privilege over homo-, bi-, and pansexual people.
    White people have privilege over people of color.
    Able-bodied people have privilege over disabled people.

    And so on. They’re used to show the group with the most privilege tends to have the most power and the most respect. It’s rare for people like that to be questioned with the scrutiny that underprivileged people receive.

  284. Sash says

    May I add Greta

    Being transsexual, I am well aware of the hatred some atheists can muster & then the indifference some atheists have shown with a small handful standing up & saying it was not ok to act in that manner.

    Ironically, it was a group of feminists that created the hatred.

    I am not suggesting this is a standard view of feminists or feminism.

  285. PeeGee says

    Susannah @ 250:

    Thank you, Greta. I was hoping not to have to argue this all night, but I wasn’t going to let him (?) get away with it, either.

    I doubt PeeGee will be back, but I want to clarify a couple of things that came up in that last comment.

    Then you’re a very poor judge of character, or unable to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not my fault. I’m also unclear on what you think I’m “getting away” with.

    I think PeeGee got what I wrote completely backwards. The claim he says we’re making was that there is

    No, you got what *I* wrote completely backwards. And if you’re addressing me, please don’t refer to me in third person. It’s rude.

    Actually I think we were in mutual agreement, just you misinterpreted what I wrote originally. My point was that Jen McCreight — with the forming of A+ — that she believes that the majority in the atheist community now DOES NOT frown on misogyny and sexism, hence my comment about her claim on widespread misogyny and sexism that ISN’T frowned upon within the atheist community. (Meaning it’s not true.) That was the point.

    My point was also that in order to make a claim of widespread misogyny and sexism within the atheist community, maybe she should link to more than a few specific incidents.

    Because we’re atheists. There are groups like “Christians for Peace”, “British Columbians against Enbridge”, “Knitting Mothers”. I’m inventing the names, but you get the idea. I’m not going to be part of a community labelled “Christians against sexism”. Because I’m not a Christian. I’m atheist.

    Right. And I’m heterosexual. If you called yourselves atheists for blah de blah, I couldn’t care less. But it’s not atheists for [thing], it’s atheism+. It’s conflating the word atheism with other social issues, which it hasn’t got anything to do with. Do you grasp the discrepancy of calling a group Atheists for Social Justice than atheism+? Especially if you precede the notion by saying that atheists right now are a bunch of [stereotype] and needs a new wave to weed them out. It’s a relatively new term but already the dogma is seething. If you just call yourself an atheist now, without adding the plus, does that mean you are an asshole? According to Richard Carrier, yes, yes you are. And therein lies the rub.

    The first term just names the larger category we fit into; the + specifies what we are trying to accomplish. It says nothing at all about those who have other aims.

    Mmmm. No. It doesn’t. It’s like if I would call myself heterosexual+. Right, I’m an heterosexual, but I also believe in this and this and this. Are you a heterosexual, or are you an heterosexual+? Do you want to be for change, or do you want to be an asshole? Your choice.

    It seems quite clear to me. I don’t know where the difficulty lies, unless you’re just looking for excuses.

    The name, the dogma, the tenets. Atheism is not an ideology, no more than knitting is an ideology.

  286. ewankeepers says

    I think Atheism + is a good concept. Not perfect in terms of branding, too much like ‘Bright’ or something, which strikes me as arrogant. But I’m overlooking the rather small fault to support the very important and real ideas behind the tag. As a person who lives at the intersection of several different groups (queer, trans, poor, disabled, feminist.) Atheism + seems like a place for me to belong.

    At the Minnesota confo last month people wanted to know how atheism could grow and reach more people and get more blacks, people of color, gays and other minorities into the movement. The number one response was, ‘Get interested in issues that are important to us, and don’t expect us to suddenly jump up onto your bandwagon because we are focused on survival issues.’ Five minutes later I asked people what they thought about working class and labor issues from an atheist perspective. The reply, ‘oh, no that’s not an atheist issue, too much like communism.’ Want more poor and working class people to join the movement? Expand the movement so that atheism includes class analysis, and it does: lack of belief in god is very much tied to economic security. Work on improving economic security you reduce the crutch of religion in people’s lives and you have an increase civil, secular society.

    I’m sure most people have no idea what it’s like to be homeless, hungry and in need of food and shelter and to have the only option be the church run shelter where you are made to listen to a hellfire sermon in order to get food and a cot. That’s an incredibly vulnerable moment, a moment that the church is there to exploit and love bomb you into getting you to join their group. If churches want to feed people, fine, there are hungry people out there, but this is targeted psychological abuse of a vulnerable population. This has much broader social ramifications. This is about abuse of religion and it is absolutely an atheist issue.

    So yeah, go back and read your Frederick Douglas and Emma Goldman and the broader history of free thought. Spend some time trying to understand that in many communities the church shelters people from the oppression of the broader economic system and institutionalized racism at the same time it oppresses women, gay and trans people and traps cismen into rigid he-man stereotypes. Now tell me that we can grow an atheist movement and a secular society by ignoring race, class and gender issues. And go Greta, you said it for me. I’ve really had enough of blaming the victim for being ‘divisive’ by pointing out that there has been a targeted campaign to silence some very strong voices.

  287. Z says

    thecynicalromantic gets one internet STAT!

    And please consider starting a blog if you do not already have one. That was a fantastic post. Thank you!

  288. Sash says

    @ewankeepers

    I spent over 3 years homeless & ate regularly at church initiatives. They also found a place to live for me & also set me up with job interviews.

    Not once did they ever mention the word ‘god’ to me, inform me anything that was remotely religious. I have never experienced this ~
    “where you are made to listen to a hellfire sermon in order to get food and a cot. That’s an incredibly vulnerable moment, a moment that the church is there to exploit and love bomb you into getting you to join their group.”

    Are you speaking from experience?

  289. mythbri says

    @ PeeGee #299

    The bolded part is curiosity. I have no idea what “able-bodied” means in the context. We have one thing in common: It has me baffled, too.

    In the context in which Jen used it, and you quoted her, “able-bodied” means exactly what it says it means. It means someone without a physical or mental disability. It means someone who has the privilege of not needing medications to help their mind function in a more neurotypical way, or someone who does not need to worry about things like wheelchair access and parking spaces. I really have no idea why you assumed that it meant something sexual.

    The part of Jen’s post that you quoted lists a number of attributes that are privileged in modern U.S. society, and in other countries as well. White, affluent, male, heterosexual, cissexual (this means your gender identity matches the one you were born to), able-bodied. Not possessing one or more of those attributes presents different sets of challenges, which aren’t always apparent to people who don’t face those challenges on a regular basis.

  290. PeeGee says

    TimidAtheist @ 304:

    Able-bodied means without disability. It is not sexual.

    Each example you point out is used because they are all points of privilege.

    Cis people have privlege over trans* people.
    Heterosexual people have privilege over homo-, bi-, and pansexual people.
    White people have privilege over people of color.
    Able-bodied people have privilege over disabled people.

    And so on. They’re used to show the group with the most privilege tends to have the most power and the most respect. It’s rare for people like that to be questioned with the scrutiny that underprivileged people receive.

    So that’s what it means. But what does those examples have to do with the atheist community? Is Jen McCreight — or Natalie Reed — making the case that the atheist community, if the examples are from the point of privilege, are a bunch of transphobic, homophobic, sexist and misogynistic, racist ableists?

    And on the bigger question, are these the kind of people that plague the feminist movement? Middle-class, white, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men? Are they to whom we’re supposed to direct our vitriol? Feminists may say “men” this and “men” that, and they may say that they don’t distinguish between men, but this is actually who they’re fighting against? I’m asking because I’m curious. It would help to know who Greta, and Jen, and Ophelia, and Rebecca, and everyone else, rails against when they admonish men.

    P.S. By the way, ‘people of color’? Yeah. You probably shouldn’t use that.

  291. says

    To assume that theists don’t know what Atheism is when they in fact hold all the theological cards is laughable.

    In face of the fact that many theists regularly state that atheism is a religion, some prominent ones even equating it with satan or demon worship whats laughable is you making this statement.

    Weak sauce.

  292. says

    PeeGee #306

    Susannah @ 250:

    Thank you, Greta. I was hoping not to have to argue this all night, but I wasn’t going to let him (?) get away with it, either.

    I doubt PeeGee will be back, but I want to clarify a couple of things that came up in that last comment.

    Then you’re a very poor judge of character, or unable to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not my fault. I’m also unclear on what you think I’m “getting away” with.

    I think PeeGee got what I wrote completely backwards. The claim he says we’re making was that there is

    No, you got what *I* wrote completely backwards. And if you’re addressing me, please don’t refer to me in third person. It’s rude.

    Maybe I’m a poor judge of character. I expected better of you than a transparent not-pology. In your pretense of apologizing, you repeated the original accusation that you were asked to apologize for.

    First of all, I do apologise. I didn’t mean for you to think I meant all the abuse levelled at Jen was hyperbole. Bad choice of words on my part. I did, however, mean that the specific insult she mentioned — by hundreds — was hyperbole. That is an exaggeration. As I said, I’m sure there’s lots of people who’ve climbed out of their cesspit to deal out unsavoury comments to Jen on her blog posts, but hundreds, and with that specific insult? Not likely.

    1: She didn’t say each one of the hundreds of insults were identical; she listed a few of the names she was called.
    2.Now you’re accusing both Jen and Greta of lying; doubling your original offense.
    3.Unfortunately, hundreds of abusive comments after one post is all too likely, as we’ve seen with the response to a simple remark by Rebecca Watson, a year ago; the filth just keeps coming in, even now. They don’t have to show up on the blog; they can be moderated out of existence, or turn up instead in e-mail, or on other blogs.

    And, no, I wasn’t addressing you. I had made comments that could be read by everybody, and it seemed that I hadn’t been clear enough. And I really didn’t expect you back.

    I’ll have to respond to the rest of your comment later. Dentist appointment; gotta run.

  293. Sash says

    @Jafafa

    Using ambiguous terms as ‘many theists’, ‘regularly’ & ‘some prominent ones’ does nothing to address what you quoted from me.

    Is it a wide held theistic view that Atheism is a religion? That Atheism is demon worship or equated it with satan?

    It this the truth or is this a way to opine without any source to show how theists hold this belief to try to contradict my sentiment &/or assertion?

    Tell me, would atheism exist without theism?

  294. says

    I’ve been thinking.
    If I were in a room full of people and some of those people started grouping off to one side because they felt mistreated by someone in the room and wanted to talk about it or just get away from them, I might agree with them. Or I might disagree with them.

    If I agreed with them that there had been mistreatement I might join them or night not, depending on many things.

    What I can’t imagine doing is spending time arguing with them to convince them they were wrong to group together DESPITE my agreeing with them.
    If I agreed with them and wanted to argue with someone, I think it would be more productive to argue with the person that I felt had mistreated them and perhaps also that person’s cohorts who defending that person.

    So I wonder about those who are here who state that they agree that there is a general problem but who don’t like people “being divisive” by grouping together… are they arguing as vociferously with the people that they agree are causing the problem? Are they posting equally long complaints to, say, someone like thunderfoot’s blog?

    If not that seems to be a very inefficient approach.

  295. mythbri says

    @ PeeGee #311

    So that’s what it means. But what does those examples have to do with the atheist community? Is Jen McCreight — or Natalie Reed — making the case that the atheist community, if the examples are from the point of privilege, are a bunch of transphobic, homophobic, sexist and misogynistic, racist ableists?

    Having a privileged attribute does not equal prejudice toward people without it. All it means is that it does a lot to blind you toward the different challenges faced by the people who don’t have it. That’s what “privilege-blindness” means. I’m white. I’m not affected by the racism that affects people of color (and that is a generally-accepted term, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_of_color. It’s meant to not be generally inclusive and not imply that only black people people experience racism, for example). It would be stupid of me to attempt to minimize the experience of racism that other people have endured just because it hasn’t happened to me. What I try to do is to be aware of my privilege, and listen to what other people have to say.

    Each of those attributes carries with it similar privilege.

  296. mythbri says

    @ me #316

    It’s meant to not be generally inclusive and not imply that only black people people experience racism, for example

    That was poor phrasing on my part. I meant to say that the term is meant to be generally inclusive and not imply that only black people experience racism.

  297. TheTruePooka says

    Is there a way to unsubscribe from a comments thread on this site? I’d hate to mark them as spam but I see no other way.

  298. kagekiri says

    @205 noelplum99:

    Yeah, well, being raised as a Christian, I had the most proof of Christianity, and had plenty of apologetics classes/books dissecting other theological worldviews and explaining why they were obviously false.

    So yeah, it really was a dichotomy for me when I deconverted. The religion I had most evidence for in terms of people I knew and their supposed miracles/life-changing events, or no religion. The third choice of some other religion I had no proof for was…well, not really a choice, and the more probable gods you mention aren’t ones that you’d really need a religion to believe in. Christianity was the last on the list for me to reject.

    Anyway, you COULD easily expand the idea of social justice being motivated by atheism more than Christianity to other religions.

    The same idea of religion leading to apathy about equality and justice easily extends into the most popular religions: Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. If gods or some magical karmic cycle is taking care of justice, then human worries about injustice are diminished.

  299. says

    Sash, you’re reading a blog on a network consisting of blogs that have covered atheism for many years in total.
    The readers of these blogs tend to have been reading atheist news sources and other secular and progressive news sources for a long time.

    Here of all places, you demand a citation for theists calling atheism a religion?

    I’m sorry, I’m talking about reality, not engaging in a dubious rhetoric competition.

  300. says

    #311 PeeGee

    So that’s what it means. But what does those examples have to do with the atheist community? Is Jen McCreight — or Natalie Reed — making the case that the atheist community, if the examples are from the point of privilege, are a bunch of transphobic, homophobic, sexist and misogynistic, racist ableists?

    And on the bigger question, are these the kind of people that plague the feminist movement? Middle-class, white, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied men? Are they to whom we’re supposed to direct our vitriol? Feminists may say “men” this and “men” that, and they may say that they don’t distinguish between men, but this is actually who they’re fighting against? I’m asking because I’m curious. It would help to know who Greta, and Jen, and Ophelia, and Rebecca, and everyone else, rails against when they admonish men.

    P.S. By the way, ‘people of color’? Yeah. You probably shouldn’t use that.

    As Crommunist is fond of pointing out, people aren’t “-ists”. They simply do or say or think “-ist” things.

    The point is that people with privilege tend to have blinders on when it comes to racism, sexism, abelism, cissexism, homophobia, etc.

    If you say white men then you’re excluding men of color from the discussion of racism because as a default white men have privilege and thus have a harder time understanding how racism affects everyone who isn’t white.

    The most privileged people, those white men who are heterosexual and cis and able-bodied and so on, are more often than not the ones that don’t call out sexism, racism, cissexism, ableism, etc. when they see it. And when the ones being affected by those things are calling it out they ask for extra ordinary evidence.

    P.S. People of Color is a term used often by a great many people in the black, hispanic, asian, etc. community. It means anyone who isn’t white and as mythbri linked to you, it is not a slur nor a term like “colored”.

  301. Sash says

    @Jafafa

    I’m sorry Jafafa, you are the authority apparently & can state things that obviously need no justification apart from the coincidence of being on a blog for a few years talking atheism stuff.

    I mean it must be obvious that evangelical views are what the general theistic view is & the wider theistic community are incapable of opening any standard dictionary.

    /headdesk

  302. LF says

    “I wonder if groups within religions who campaign for social justice have to face this kind of criticism.”

    Yes, they frequently do. It probably varies from religion to religion and place to place, but they do.

  303. Sash says

    If anyone came in with any honest doubt, query or objection about your view &/or proposed creed, they would surely leave either polarised or bewildered.

    I leave you with a few propositions to ponder

    Would Atheism exist without Theism?
    Would Theism exist without Atheism?
    If you had to choose, what is more important to you, your Atheism or your feeling of need to fight social injustices?

    Good luck happy people.

  304. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    This guy right here, this pure atheist, is why some of us need to form our own space:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/08/26/a-haters-what-have-you-got-besides-reactionary-emotionalism/#comment-68115

    He’s the same person, btw, that has said that LGBT issues require skepticism because they’re “emotional”, not rational or logical.

    The sooner some people realise that atheism has become a cover, in certain circles, for MRAs, racists, homophobes and transphobes, then the sooner those of us on the receiving end of their hatred can focus on other things.

    Now a question for Sash – were you out as trans to the church that helped you? If so then they should be added to one of the many directories of safe emergency spaces for QUILTBAG people.

  305. Greta Christina says

    PeeGee: Nice try. But a weaselly, “I’m sorry you were offended by my choice of words, now I’m going to re-assert the actual content of what I said which was what you were objecting to in the first place” not-pology doesn’t count. I have had it with you. I do not need to let my blog be a home for people to spew toxic waste under the guide of “just asking questions.” Good-bye.

  306. says

    For those people who think this is redefining atheism… IT’S NOT. This is an ADDITION to the atheist movement.

    Also, as to “Who decides who gets to be a part of it?” YOU DO. YOU decide if you want to be a part of Atheism+. YOU decide if you want to apply the label to yourself.

    Just don’t be surprised if you get called out on behavior that goes against the general ideology behind Atheism+. Like joining a “racial equality” group, then telling a racist joke. Doesn’t matter if you’re for racial equality still, expect to be called out on your behavior, ostracized from the community, and kicked out.

  307. ewankeepers says

    Sash said >I spent over 3 years homeless & ate regularly at church initiatives. They also found a place to live for me & also set me up with job interviews.

    Not once did they ever mention the word ‘god’ to me, inform me anything that was remotely religious. I have never experienced this ~
    “where you are made to listen to a hellfire sermon in order to get food and a cot. That’s an incredibly vulnerable moment, a moment that the church is there to exploit and love bomb you into getting you to join their group.”

    Are you speaking from experience? <

    Yes, absolutely I'm speaking from experience.

  308. Greta Christina says

    Dash — and others to whom this is relevant:

    New rule: Comments in this thread have to focus on the mission, values, actions, and other actual content of Atheism Plus — and not on the name. If you feel a compelling need to debate the name of Atheism Plus, take it elsewhere. (Maybe to the Atheism Plus forum itself?)

    I’m at the airport, with shitty Internet service and limited time, and I’m heading to a conference where I will also have limited time. So I won’t be able to reply thoroughly to any one person.

    What I will say is this: The name “Atheism+” was not a top-down decision. It was tossed out in the comment thread on Jen’s original “I want a new wave” post, and was immediately and enthusiastically seized upon by the overwhelming majority of the commentariat there, who ran with it and started using it right away. Sometimes you don’t choose the language. Sometimes it just happens organically. I personally like the name. If you don’t, fine. If you find the name so appalling that it puts you off entirely from participating in the community, fine.

    But I hate, hate, HATE heated arguments that focus entirely on nomenclature. And my patience is far too thin right now to be willing to put time and energy into moderating an increasingly hostile comment thread about it. If you want to discuss the actual content, mission, values, concept of Atheism Plus, fine. If you want to have a never-ending flamewar about why you hate the name and why it symbolizes everything that’s wrong with something or other, have it someplace else. Thanks.

  309. Sash says

    @Nym

    No, this was back in my twenties when I was homeless & I did not come out as trans until my mid 30’s & now I am in my mid 40’s. I am also from Australia so maybe my country has less of the preacher virus that seems to prevail in the states.

    In Australia, Trans people are still legally discriminated against in a few areas of general living ie jobs (instant dismissal on those grounds alone without recourse), Emergency shelters for victims of violence (cisgender only therefore often put in same sex shelters not being very thought out well) etc. Social services mainly but on the flipside, the general theistic community (people) have been overwhelmingly accepting of my transness & on that level, they tend to be far more protective of my ‘person’ regardless of my theological position or gender dysphoria (I am Ignostic).

    In general, I find theists to be inquisitive of my situation without judgement than I do people whom exist under the Atheism 2.0 (lack of belief) umbrella whom seem in general to be indifferent to the point of non supportive in times of need (bar a short few).

    If you wanted a simple yes or no .. sorry xD

  310. Sash says

    @ewankeepers

    Wow, they sure do it differently in the states (I assume you are speaking of the USA)

  311. Sash says

    @Great
    I take it you mean Sash.

    Well that is what my concerns are so I guess that nails my lid shut. Take care.

  312. says

    Okay, I’m on board. It seems that while I have been speaking and working for Women’s rights, along with LGBT rights, I encounter more and more non-theists that are quiet about their lack of belief. So lets acknowledge that they have been doing the “plus” in an effective way and join them in a worthy cause. Maybe many more of them will join us.

    Let’s face it. Our opposition is very good at playing “divide and conquer.” We can beat that by playing “unite and overcome.”

  313. bgg says

    Well I think my concerns have been covered now. My introduction to this whole thing was people telling me someone was calling for a “3rd wave of atheism,” and highlights of what Mr. Carrier had said about “with us, or against us.” Those things on their own absolutely smacked of people attempting to redefine atheism. I was not on board with that in any way. Mr. Carrier has since been called out by many of you which I appreciate. I have also gathered that this is not an attempt by most of you to redefine anything, or hijack a term many do not associate with any specific beliefs outside of not believing in a God/Gods. I will likely not take up this label, but I certainly will not attempt to oppose those who choose to. As with so many other labels I do not identify myself with I still share many of the concerns that those who do use them think are important. Best of luck with the new forum, and group. I hope it will provide the safe haven many of you are looking for, and frankly deserve.

    Sincerely,

    Some random atheist

  314. says

    Greta christina @300

    New rule: Comments in this thread have to focus on the mission, values, actions, and other actual content of Atheism Plus — and not on the name. If you feel a compelling need to debate the name of Atheism Plus, take it elsewhere. (Maybe to the Atheism Plus forum itself?)

    Isn’t it always the way Greta. I uploaded a video this afternoon and having mentioned the atheism+ forum i went to very great pains to implore people to respect your rights to your own ‘safe’ area and not to post unless they were ‘on message’ (as, i believe jen had stated that the forum was really only for those who are pro -atheism+). Now I log on to find that you see this as a suitable venue to debate the name! Damn: I can’t do right for doing wrong!
    I think to post there would look goading so I will withdraw from discourse and the discussion, such as it is, will take place on the parallel universes that are YT and the blogosphere! :)
    Jim (noelplum99)

  315. Rieux says

    Greta @330:

    I hate, hate, HATE heated arguments that focus entirely on nomenclature. And my patience is far too thin right now to be willing to put time and energy into moderating an increasingly hostile comment thread about it. If you want to discuss the actual content, mission, values, concept of Atheism Plus, fine. If you want to have a never-ending flamewar about why you hate the name and why it symbolizes everything that’s wrong with something or other, have it someplace else.

    Hear, hear!

  316. says

    And no, Martin Luther King was not divisive. He was controversial, sure, but he was not divisive.

    That’s why I put the word divisive in scare quotes.

    He was “divisive” in the same way that Greta is “divisive”, by allying with people willing to improve society and against those wishing the status quo to remain the same.

    Of course, it was those who wanted the status quo to remain the same that called him divisive* as he was divided from them, and the same is true today with those who prefer for the status quo to remain rather than have a healthy division, who thus find them divided from Greta and thus call her divisive.

    *no scare quotes here because they called him divisive, they didn’t call him “divisive”.

  317. Dantalion says

    @the conflation argument

    Atheists should be liberal progressives. Atheists should be humanists. Atheists should value science and scientific thinking. Atheists should support universal human rights. Atheists should be feminists. Atheists should be pro-choice. Atheists should support gay rights. Atheists should accept evolution and global warming. Atheists should reject nationalism, reaganomics and geocentrism. Atheists should believe the age of the Universe is closer to fourteen billion years than six thousand. Atheists should not believe in the efficacy of homeopathy, trepanning or crystal healing. Atheists should oppose monarchy and theocracy. Atheists should oppose the drug war, and be extremely skeptical about the war on terror. Atheists should consider capitalism an inherently flawed system. Atheists should consider the bible an incredibly flawed book. Atheists should consider religion in general and christianity in particular to be a net negative for humanity. Atheists should be in favor of separation of church and state.

    Not because we need atheist orthodoxy. Not because atheism should be a complete, comprehensive belief set. And not because any of these things are necessary implications of the existence or nonexistence of deities, but because these are the right positions, and theoretically it is only the presence of religious beliefs which prevents anyone from seeing that.

  318. Kala says

    @Dantalion:

    “Atheists should be…
    …because these are the right positions, and theoretically it is only the presence of religious beliefs which prevents anyone from seeing that.”

    I have to disagree with your post. Don’t get me wrong, I completely support all of the “should be” items in your post, and consider myself a very liberal, very progressive person. But the argument that atheists or atheism should be those things because atheism rightfully comes to those conclusions, is completely false. If anything, the lack of belief in a deity lends itself more to a completely anarchistic, libertarian world view with little to no consideration for anyone than the individual. It’s why so many atheists are in fact libertarians or Ayn Rand worshipers, and why Ayn Rand developed many of her ideas in the first place.

    Everyone, atheists included, should hold those values you list. But if atheism lends itself to any political or social ideology, it most certainly would be extreme libertarianism.

  319. Feline says

    @334 charlesmiller
    Your comment was curious. The first line of it (might be different depending of your display) made my shoulders slump. Not another disingenuous “I agree but…”, I thought. And then I read along, and at the end I didn’t actually write this. I was busy pumping both my arms in the air. Then I wrote this. You speak truth.

  320. anthony D says

    i read through a lot of the material on this site here regarding this issue. i see nothing more than this being an attempth at rebranding of feminisism in a way that give’s a matriarchal bias under an umbrella of a word that has no meaning in itself(other than nonbelief). to use atheist as a crowd pleaser make’s no sense to me and possibly a contradiction in itself. It’s meaning to me as a individual is a act of defiance against the monopoly of theism in today’s society and i will not be giving it up anytime soon. Human+ would probably more apt for your cause.

  321. tropism says

    Would Atheism exist without Theism?
    Would Theism exist without Atheism?
    If you had to choose, what is more important to you, your Atheism or your feeling of need to fight social injustices?

    First of all “atheism” isn’t capitalized. Strange that you wouldn’t know that.

    1. No, atheism requires the proposition of theism first.
    2. Hypothetically yes, but not practically. Once the theistic proposition is put forth, there are going to be some who disagree.
    3. False dichotomy. And beliefs aren’t a choice like that. I couldn’t force myself to believe a theistic claim no matter how much I wanted to.

    In general, I find theists to be inquisitive of my situation without judgement than I do people whom exist under the Atheism 2.0 (lack of belief) umbrella whom seem in general to be indifferent to the point of non supportive in times of need (bar a short few).

    Theistic groups have had the right circumstances to organize for a long time, and various mechanisms for bringing in funds. Like tithing and prosperity theology. Most atheists don’t make their lack of belief known, so you’d likely never know. How do you count them into your calculation? They still fall under the umbrella of lack of belief. So your statement is very prone to cognitive biases.

  322. Sash says

    @tropism

    Capitalisation was for highlighting purposes in this respect but ty for your input & assumption I don’t know these things.

    3 .. it was never proposed as a dichotomy, just a question of ‘if you had to chose 1 thing of most importance’. It should be obvious I was referring to importance not belief in one or the other.

    [off Topic] I am well aware of how belief works as that is one of the core topics in my education of psychology which is why I hold ‘lack of belief’ in so much query as a concept, as beliefs are formed & held, not passed around like a virus & there are stages before a propositional attitude can be enacted upon. I feel ‘lack of belief’ is just a redefining of ‘non-theism’ based on the proposition of a+theism (causing a Set A / Non Set A result) as opposed to actual atheos+ism (dealing with the mental state of belief/disbelief to the proposition specifically). The Linguistics term of ‘lack of belief of a god or gods’ would be ‘Theanism’ (anism/anist being a compound affix to suggest the belief is lacking not the lacking of what the root word proposes).

    [back on track] Personally, I usually consider if a person is working in a church environment, church funded program etc, to be at the least connected to the church in some way either by personal beliefs or by creed of the organisation. In the same way, theists do not disclose their beliefs openly either. I certainly look at places on the internet when ‘calculating’ non believers & well as believers in which their stance is often openly declared, especially on the internet. SO it is a mixture of both arena I have calculated my personal experience & by no means am I proposing any official statistics to go by here, just what happens in my life.

    Strangely enough, most of my association with welfare has been through church initiatives. We don’t have the same level of nuttyness in Australia it seems. Op shops, care for the disabled (incl gov funded programs through churches etc) & welfare ventures of the like are predominately church funded or subsidised.

  323. Sash says

    @Dantalion says:

    @the conflation argument

    Atheists should be liberal progressives. Atheists should be humanists. Atheists should value science and scientific thinking. Atheists should support universal human rights. Atheists should be feminists. Atheists should be pro-choice. Atheists should support gay rights. Atheists should accept evolution and global warming. Atheists should reject nationalism, reaganomics and geocentrism. Atheists should believe the age of the Universe is closer to fourteen billion years than six thousand. Atheists should not believe in the efficacy of homeopathy, trepanning or crystal healing. Atheists should oppose monarchy and theocracy. Atheists should oppose the drug war, and be extremely skeptical about the war on terror. Atheists should consider capitalism an inherently flawed system. Atheists should consider the bible an incredibly flawed book. Atheists should consider religion in general and christianity in particular to be a net negative for humanity. Atheists should be in favor of separation of church and state.

    Not because we need atheist orthodoxy. Not because atheism should be a complete, comprehensive belief set. And not because any of these things are necessary implications of the existence or nonexistence of deities, but because these are the right positions, and theoretically it is only the presence of religious beliefs which prevents anyone from seeing that.
    __________

    Everything you just listed above requires knowledge of the individual propositions to base any informed attitudes on. Atheist’s should ‘not’ be expected to have an insta download/upload of all the relevant data required to deduce all the beliefs you are proposing they ‘should’ have & even then to expect a certain outcome of belief Vs disbelief is suggesting that people should not have a mind of their own.

    For your dream to be a reality it would require a full competency exam & the passing mark would then be ‘Congratulations you have passed – You’re an atheist!’

    Did you think your post through or did it just sound good at the time?

  324. tropism says

    Atheists should be…

    How is our lack of belief in theistic propositions relevant to any of those things? -Humans should be…-

    As the religions are accustomed to attributing so much to their god character(like everything good), believers consider the theistic position very relevant to their interactions with others, and so too the term atheist. Which is invalid, and based on misattributions at its core. To me the term atheist only comes into a conversation about social issues when that relevancy is claimed.

    …theoretically it is only the presence of religious beliefs which prevents anyone from seeing that.

    That really is untrue. There are so many new agers who go for things like homeopathy and crystal healing, but have no “religion” or theistic belief.

    The core problems are represented in religious reasoning and theism, but do not necessarily derive from them, but rather from human brains in general. The core problems are many, but I would say one of the main issues is this concept of “absolute truth” and to a lesser degree the bias towards confirmation. And the stifled ability for self-correct that comes with it. That bias towards confirmation magnifies errors in informal logic. Making conviction in such absurdities easier.

    If anything, the lack of belief in a deity lends itself more to a completely anarchistic, libertarian world view with little to no consideration for anyone than the individual.

    Also untrue. Atheism doesn’t lend itself to neglecting consideration of other variables of society(Rand’s position). Or the use of the concept “freedom” as a buzzword(as seen by libertarians). It doesn’t lend itself towards anything specifically. It’s neutral, and only regarding the lack of acceptance of “god” claims put forth to the individual so far. There are many interpretations of theism that go hand in hand with most of Rand’s philosophy. For example the idea of “God’s love”, very often results in those perceived as “unloved by God”. Fostering egocentric reasoning.

  325. XinXin says

    I’m a Jewish woman and a radical feminist who fights for equality.

    I support this effort.

    The internet is a space similar to the public space that radical feminists had to fight in the 60’s. When a space opens, men flood in and take over. They use their privilege and women have to fight to have any of this space. This is exactly what I see happening today on the internet. Another space=Another fight for women’s equality in said space.

    Men refuse to check their privilege and so making another group is necessary for movements to evolve and for women to get the necessary space. However, just a word of caution. Not all men who are so gungho about this now will be when you start checking their privilege. Many of them will turn on you. Just be prepared.

    Good luck. Best Wishes.

  326. says

    I find it curious… So many people knowingly misconstrue and misrepresent a guy like Jim (NOELPLUM99) just because they don’t like the ideas he is presenting–on a website called “freethoughtblogs.com”.

    A+ — for people who like to walk in lockstep and adopt ideologies wholesale. For people who enjoy a false feeling of moral superiority and tearing down ideas different from other people. For people who like to claim to be “free thinkers”, but are (in reality) really people who prefer to be told what to think. For people who either misunderstand that political ideologies don’t necessarily follow from a lack of belief in a god or gods. For people who want to hijack a term and use it for political currency. For people who are just complete assholes.

  327. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    Sash – a major part, in fact an overwhelming part of faith-based welfare in Oz is provided by the Salvos, yeah?

    The same organisation that openly discriminates against people who are cisstraight. Whose ranks include “Major” Andrew Craibe, the media relations officer, who thinks that gay and trans people should be put to death.

    The same organisation that spends their money, donated by the public, to lobbying governments worldwide into making homosexuality illegal.

    The same organisation that has fired long-serving Australians for being gay.

    The same organisation that allowed a trans woman to freeze to death outside a homeless shelter, because she was “a man”.

    They hate you, they hate me,they just smile sweetly in our faces as they work to annihilate us. As much as I loathe Westboro Baptist Church, at least they’re honest.

    WRT welfare – I’m sure you’re well aware that your govt is cracking down hard on people claiming disability pension, labelling people as dole bludgers etc. An Australian mate of mine killed herself over the treatment dished out to her because she was mentally ill, not physically ill.

    My country is going through exactly the same thing. Just like Oz, atheism isn’t seen as a defect, our society is secular apart from at Christmas when everyone is on board. My govt has blamed the entire financial crisis on disabled people. 32 people die here every week after draconian eligibility tests for welfare find them “fit for work”. That only includes natural deaths, not suicides.

    This kind of thinking, that people are poor or disabled due to a personal failing, a weak character, is rooted in Christianity. The prosperity gospel at it’s worst.

    Religion and religious thinking should be purged from the legal code, because it’s literally killing people,whether the system is actively Christian or only nominally so.

    The lower they are in the kyriarchy, the worse they are affected. That goes for Australia, the UK, or America. As a former religious person I know exactly what’s thought of people like you, people like me. The belief that our poverty/ill health,/homelessness is because of our +sin+. They believe that being kind to “sinners” such as ourselves, that we’ll see the “Light of Christ”, convert, and be “saved”, we’ll become “normal”. They also believe that being nice to “wretched sinners” gets them a primo spot in Heaven.

    Their charity is not out of love, respect, or empathy for poor/LGBT/substance abusers/sex workers/people with disabilities. It’s to rack up points on their “Souls for Jesus” chart.

    At least if a non.believer wants to help, if activism and social welfare are taken up as positions in this positive atheism, at least people will know it’s genuine. No conversion, no love-bombing, not trying to impress a god, a pastor, fellow parishioners. Just seeing a bad thing and wanting to make it better.

  328. Moz says

    Thanks for the thoughts, Greta. It’s making me want to go out and join the local A/A+ group(s) just to make the point that I, a white/cis/het/male want an atheist community that is pleasant and fun for a diverse range of people. If I wanted bigotry and violence in a god-free environment there are lots of those groups already.

    the lack of belief in a deity lends itself more to a completely anarchistic, libertarian world view

    Kala, I hope you’re aware that the two viewpoints mentioned are very different to each other, and the major point of difference is one of consent? Specifically that libertarians believe in using force or the threat thereof to override lack of consent which is something very few anarchists accept. Consent, oddly enough, is a shared value with the Atheist-Plus movement.

  329. g says

    I can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… and I’m glad you’re working on what you feel is the most important. Your post is booya.

  330. One Way Monkey (formerly 'Nym Too) says

    KinKin – it was a call.-out of male privilege that started this whole thing.

    It was “Guys, don’t do that” which triggered more than a year (and still going strong) of rape threats, death threats, sexualised insults, slander, stalkinp, mockery, lies, and mantrums about “evil feminazi, femistasi bitches” who are trying to “ruin atheism”. Now we’re allegedly trying to “steal” atheism, to “rebrand” it. We’re apparently trying to set up a gynocracy!

    All that because we don’t think that atheism should involve upholding the kyriarchal ‘norms’ invented by religion. Oh we know how far they’ll go to defend their privilege.

  331. Dantalion says

    @ Kala, Tropism, & Sash,

    My point wasn’t that all atheists will automatically hold all those positions. Nor was it that any of those things are directly implied by atheism, or are part of the definition of atheism. My point was that people who are not under an obligation to hold a particular belief, should follow the evidence, and form their beliefs based on what appears to be true. Those who follow the evidence should come to all of those positions I described.

    @ Sash,

    Read my previous post again. Specifically the part about atheist orthodoxy. The reason my point didn’t seem rational to you is because you didn’t understand it.

    @ Kala,

    Libertarianism is a belief which results from not following the evidence. Specifically the evidence which suggests that a lack of rules are not the most effective way to ensure maximal freedom. Anarchy is a lovely thought. But it overlooks the possibility of tyranny of the majority. Sometimes people need to be protected from each other.

    Among those ‘shoulds’ is that humans should understand we are all in this boat together. And humans without gods should realize it is up to humans to make a better world.

    It doesn’t always work out this way (hence the A+ thing), but atheism should result in progressive liberalism. Rand’s ideas are not logical implications of atheism. They are logical implications of Rand’s poor understanding of what Nietzsche meant by ‘will to power’.

  332. Sash says

    Nym

    No, the Salvo’s are not the major contributor of welfare, they are one of around 4. St Vincent De Paul would be the major contributor if you wish to perceive things in that way as they specifically help the poor, The Salvo’s are quite selective in that respect. The Smith Family being a close 2nd.

    “They hate you, they hate me,they just smile sweetly in our faces as they work to annihilate us. As much as I loathe Westboro Baptist Church, at least they’re honest.”

    I don’t care for appeals to emotion, better luck with emotionally attached persona’s.

    I am sorry to hear of your friends situation & subsequent trauma leading to the taking their life. That is not an easy decision to make & must have been made under extreme duress I can only hazard to guess.

    I appreciate your perception based on your former religious disposition. Myself, I was educated in an all male collegiate school under the banner of the Anglican church which could possibly be construed as the next best thing to atheism itself so I cannot say that my days spent in religious circles are similar. On my mothers side is Eastern Orthodoxy which has a completely different view & approach to western Christianity & there too, I found no semblance of this perception you speak of yet none the less, I do know that that sentiment is out there.

    I really don’t care for external attributing of intent, I care about the actions of people & the actions I have been subject to have not been what you have described. I cannot say I share your experience in this matter.

  333. Sash says

    Dantalion

    My objection to your posting was made with specific’s in mind. Your speak of ‘should’ is that of what you think people ‘should conclude’ or believe given what you know & the way what you know has been presented to you.

    I am well aware of freedom of thought which the essence of, was entirely lacking in your post. The mind of people do not work like clocks, they form beliefs & beliefs stack upon beliefs. Synapses are formed & are hard to diminish (if at all), just overridden by larger connections.

    Your summation that atheism should logically lead to these conclusions is flawed at the deepest level. Scientologists are atheists too & they feel their positions are logical as well & they follow the evidence presented to them & confirmation bias tales care of the rest. It all depends on the reasons given as to what outcome the logic will lead one to & the cascade of outcomes & bias that can lead one to a conviction. The process is often so delicate yet robust in it’s delivery that a minor deviation can ultimately lead one to a completely different conclusion.

    A mind that is not free to choose it’s own path is a mind that is not owned by the occupier.

    I did fully understand your post in my opinion.

  334. C W says

    I am sorry if I am butting in or if someone said this earlier better than I could.
    One issue that I have with A+ is the addition of unknown social values which I may or may not wish to agree with. A statement of I am against racism is somewhat easy to understand and the face value but how do you implement it? How you wish to fight against this or how far to press, it could be worrisome. Something like feminist issues though, is much less clear in what it means and steps taken in its name. If you are just saying that people should treat others more kindly that are women (such as no more rape comments), then I can see why would want a group to fight against that. However, I start to lose it past that. It seems like words such as feminism, racism, and social justice are being thrown around as if they are concrete entities which are clear in their goal and method. This is far from the case and can come in conflict with each other.
    This is what concerns me, that it’s not truly defined in any meaningful way and that you should be advocating things which I wouldn’t by using a word which could associate me without my desire.

  335. Greta Christina says

    C W @ #361: If you visit the Atheism Plus forums, I think you’ll see that there’s lots of friendly and civil discussion and debate over these exact kinds of questions.

    We share a general concern over (for example) racism and sexism, and there are some basic 101-level points that we all pretty much agree on and don’t want to re-hash. (That’s what the Educational Forum is for.) But we may well disagree about (for instance) the best way to take action, or how to set our priorities, or even whether a particular incident or institution is racist or sexist. There’s no dogma. You don’t have to agree with everyone about everything. Nobody expects that.

  336. 'Tis Himself says

    Obviously one point has to be repeated over and over again because some people refuse to acknowledge it. If you don’t like Atheism+ then you don’t have to join it. Folks, this is not rocket surgery.

    “I don’t know if A+ will support commercial fishing limits in the Gulf of Guinea” is something you can discuss at the Atheism+ forum. If you need certain concepts like privilege explained then there’s an education subforum there. This particular thread is about divisiveness.

  337. C W says

    I have spent a little time there now. I wish to point out a few things. Again if I am incorrect please help me to understand.

    The basic point that I am raising is shown to be serious one in the forums. These terms are loaded and very complex. There are some well-reasoned posts on what each position takes with people advocating certain types of actions. This indicates a problem of direction and/or knowledge of a goal. To press it a different way, I might be completely for animal rights but balk at the actions which more extremists use to obtain or fight for these rights. It does seem fair to say something akin to “we are just starting out and this is solid yet” so give us time and join after. This is what I read into your quote about not having to join. However, the way you have begun the conversation is by taking the name atheist and modifying it.
    By doing this you are not allowing that time to pass that you ask for. You have in essence “allowed” non plus members no real say in use of a word which has been defined a certain way for a very long time.
    I agree with a lot of the social change and justice you seek and most likely would agree with most of your methods. If it was a separate organization that fought for social justice, I would most likely join. It seems though that it shouldn’t be connected as a part of what is thought of as atheism. By taking over a part of the name and rebranding it for another purpose, you force a division, but not the division that you desire. Again, if you find this wrong please let me know

  338. Carlie says

    All you people arguing that a+ is awful for whatever reason- what is your alternative suggestion for stopping harassment within the atheist community? There is no way to deny it happens: the evidence, both direct and first-hand accounts, is spread all over the internet. Ignoring it hasn’t worked to stop it. Nicely asking the people doing it to stop it made it worse. Saying it doesn’t matter and grow a thicker skin is ceding a huge amount to assholes, and has been shown to be a factor in why many people who are atheists stay far away from any movement activities. So, put up or shut up. WHAT IS YOUR PROPOSED SOLUTION? Because the status quo just isn’t cutting it.

  339. 'Tis Himself says

    However, the way you have begun the conversation is by taking the name atheist and modifying it.

    By doing this you are not allowing that time to pass that you ask for. You have in essence “allowed” non plus members no real say in use of a word which has been defined a certain way for a very long time.

    Yes, we’ve taken atheism and modified it. If you prefer you atheism unmodified or modified in a different way, then YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ATHEISM+! What is it about this concept that’s so difficult for people to understand?

  340. 'Tis Himself says

    C W #364

    It seems though that it shouldn’t be connected as a part of what is thought of as atheism. By taking over a part of the name and rebranding it for another purpose, you force a division, but not the division that you desire. Again, if you find this wrong please let me know

    A group of atheists are extending OUR atheism to include certain socially progressive topics which WE feel are part of OUR atheism and which necessarily flows from atheism. YOUR atheism may be a strict don’t-believe-in-gods dictionary atheism but OUR atheism contains more than just that.

    You’re quibbling about the name Atheism+, which is something that Greta specifically asked not be discussed on this thread.

  341. One Way Monkey says

    ‘Tis – you’re a charitable chap indeed sir. I’d be tempted to give the Ampersandroid both barrels TBH.

    Sash – one last thing to say to you, and that is that I’m really rather glad you don’t share an outlook with A+.

    Anyone who handwaves away the bigotry and hatred of organisations that lobby for the annihilation of marginalised groups, on the basis that they smile in the face of said minority groups, is not someone I’d want to be aligned with

    The catholics and salvos alike are responsible for untold amounts of suffering, but hey, they were nice to your face before you transitioned, so it’s all good!

    None of the things I mentioned were appeals to your lack of emotions, just a reminder that Australia isn’t a golden utopia. Being better than the US is hardly something to brag about, unless you’re in the developing world., .

    So as Greta has asked – why is A+ “divisive” if more than a year of raw hatred, bigotry, rape and death threats ( that apparently went under the radar of the “YOU’RE STEALING ATHEISM!” corps) are not?

    How many of the YSA Corps protested the naked hatred so strongly?.

  342. Sash says

    One Way

    I may just join now solely to annoy you.

    Did I hand wave the bigotry away? I thought I stated that I know of such sentiment. [looks in my you tube inbox] yep, definitely know of such sentiment. Wait, I even have a video with over 2 million views with thousands of extreme christian LGBTIQ hate. I think you really guess at whom you are talking to as you are so far off the mark with me, your little dance of victory is cute.

    I don’t deal with the Salvo’s & mind you, most of the Catholics I have met, have been fine to me. Even had a great conversation with a nun of how she felt the Catholic church was moving away from ‘people’ & adhering to ‘principles’ instead & how she expressed that there is no love won in principles, only lost.

    “They hate you, they hate me,they just smile sweetly in our faces as they work to annihilate us. As much as I loathe Westboro Baptist Church, at least they’re honest.”

    Was not an appeal to emotion? I am sorry. Is your ego better now?

    Out of respect to Greta, I have refrained from speaking of why I felt that term is divisive. Are you really going to try to bring that up again in this thread?

    Now let me get one thing straight with you, I don’t mince words as much as you don’t either. You either pay the proper respect or you will get what you give. I am not here to feather your ego or play nice to someone whom acts in such a pretentious way that you think you hold all the cards on me. You don’t know me as I you. All I can go by is by the attitude of your posts & so far they only tell me you are quite pious.

    Do you want to keep going or do you think it wise we erase the attitude & start again?

  343. says

    As an A+ supporter, I would like to say to the detractors: “Stop begging us not to leave. It’s undignified. We are tired of the abuse. You get on with your life, and let us get on with ours. Safely.”

  344. says

    However, the way you have begun the conversation is by taking the name atheist and modifying it.

    By taking over a part of the name and rebranding it for another purpose, you force a division, but not the division that you desire. Again, if you find this wrong please let me know.

    C W @ #364: This has been addressed in this conversation many many times: Atheism+ is not “rebranding” atheism. Any more than a gay Democratic club is “rebranding” being gay. It is carving out a subset of atheism.

    All you people arguing that a+ is awful for whatever reason- what is your alternative suggestion for stopping harassment within the atheist community? There is no way to deny it happens: the evidence, both direct and first-hand accounts, is spread all over the internet. Ignoring it hasn’t worked to stop it. Nicely asking the people doing it to stop it made it worse. Saying it doesn’t matter and grow a thicker skin is ceding a huge amount to assholes, and has been shown to be a factor in why many people who are atheists stay far away from any movement activities. So, put up or shut up. WHAT IS YOUR PROPOSED SOLUTION? Because the status quo just isn’t cutting it.

    Carlie @ #365: I want to quote this, about eight billion times.

    Detractors of A+: What are you proposing instead? Do you have an alternate plan? Because if you don’t: Your concerns are noted. Thank you for sharing.

  345. Sash says

    One way

    As far as the hatred that has been directed towards progressives in general & feminists in specific (which I have received only a portion of due to ciphering through the bullshit on threads & sticking up for you lot), I agree that attitudes of people that place themselves & their opinions of other people over normal & rational discourse creates a divide. It creates an air of hostility where discussions get bogged down in insults rather than information sharing & brainstorming or at the least, an acceptance of shared experiences, data & perspectives in a respectful manner.

    Yet it seems that there are 2 camps of people in control of the hostility, those that are basic haters/trolls/twats & those that are reacting. In reality it really is hard to pick who does the most damage, the haters that will hate for the sake of causing a reaction so they can then point the finger & claim ‘look, they are nuts, don’t listen to them’ or the reactees that basically walk into these traps time in & time out. I can say that from both personal experience & the way I have seen others fall victim to it. This tends to happen while onlookers break out the popcorn & giggle at the antics of both sides.

    Mind you the reactees don’t just stop reacting to the haters, as seen in this thread alone, when Noleplum99 came in to voice his disagreement in a very respectful way & even gave clarification after clarification, he was attacked by people misconstruing what he was saying & in some cases, blatantly hated for merely objecting.

    When viewing a battle, who are the aggressors & who are the defenders?

    Do the haters divide communities? Well yes & no. They sure do give reason to form schisms & there honestly does not seem to be any way around the way they openly prey online. Moderation often is used but it is too easy to keep creating soc accounts until it becomes a full time job to just moderate. I know this from experience as well. There is the risk of over-moderating which just adds to the ‘look, they are nuts, don’t listen to them’ trap & the ‘groupthink’ phenomena.

    But ultimately the divide comes from those that make the decision to separate whether on reasonable grounds or not. So what’s reasonable? Well ego is not reasonable for a start, that just feeds the trap. Reasonable is to have a home to go to after the battles of wits. But I can assure you, without the battle, no minds are getting changed by patting each others backs.

    I fully support any area of safety so people can come back, bitch about things to unwind, regroup to fight again .. yes it is a fight but it also has to fought intelligently. Not demeaning, not presumptuous, not pretentiously & definitely non reactive & don;t see a need for a movement to enable this.

    So to sum this tome up, is the Atheism+ movement decisive? Well it was all of your choice to create this movement away from the greater community where allies & potential allies exist. Which minds are you going to be able to change from ‘here’? You will still have to go out ‘there’. Listening to people when they have concerns will also help to join forces rather than separate them. That would have to include people’s concerns about even using the term Atheism & +. Yes you can ignore the critics. You can even snap anyone’s head off if they try. You could even go all Carrier on them & say that either you are with us or you’re an enabler or worse, a perpetrator.

    Division is an reaction & the people doing the reaction is here. It is a reaction to what is happening out ‘there’.

    Is this in anyway trying to hand wave the haters away & give them a free pass? Well no, I have had over 3 years of consistent hate directed towards me personally or my views. I just have learned to take it in stride & not expect too much from people because the vast majority will not have the cognition to understand everything I say. But that is not always their fault for being obtuse, it can also be my fault because I should be intelligent enough to know my limitations in relation to everyone elses limitations.

    It’s easy to be smarter than most people out there, it’s another story using those smarts to achieve goals rather than just hit back with better insults.

    That’s what I think at this stage. If there was a clear cut answer, we’d all be employing it now.

  346. says

    Greta Christina @374

    I apologise for this post and I appreciate i run the risk of being blocked for commenting on the name issue again. however, i am still subscribed to this thread and |i simply cannot let this go.

    Atheism+ is not “rebranding” atheism. Any more than a gay Democratic club is “rebranding” being gay. It is carving out a subset of atheism.

    That is just such a bad analogy and, as such, a terrible misrepresentation.

    I propose that if I went and canvassed views out in my local town centre as to what a ‘gay democratic club’ entailed there would be little confusion as to what was involved. maybe the only confusion would be whether ‘democratic’ referred to a commitment to the democratic process or to a left wing political position (in the Uk ofc we have no such named party).

    But what if I asked them what atheism+ entailed? Maybe a few savvy individuals may think it was a new term for strong atheism but i suspect most people would either envisage it as a term for particularly strident atheists and/or anti-theism or shrug their shoulders. Tell me if you think this is wrong: of the 16,000 people in my town I would be the only one who had a clue what it means.

    Maybe i should start a movement, ‘atheists+’
    Atheists+ will be
    Atheists plus we believe in tying women to the kitchen sink. Literally.
    Atheists plus we fight homophobia by giving all homosexuals a lethal injection
    Atheists plus we demand every young person is conscribed to a years compulsory seal clubbing
    Atheists plus we champion forced devolution for Scotland: if the Scottish vote against it we just kick the Jocks out anyway.

    So there is atheists+. No chance of it ever being confused with atheism+. Never. So no problem there.

    Once again, sorry sorry sorry. I didn’t intend to keep talking about this but your analogy so misrepresented the issue i couldn’t resist.
    Jim (noelplum99)

  347. Sash says

    Greta

    In you question of “What are you proposing instead? Do you have an alternate plan?”

    Personally, I feel a forum where moderation is upheld to just regroup & have an area where you know posters will be respectful in all areas & then also supportive. Support groups are vital. I do not feel however that forum needs to be a movement of sorts. Just a place.

    If it were to go political & external, then careful consideration in what you would be naming this movement would be crucial as that will be what everyone remembers you by & therefore anything in that name is also the heading for the movement specifically. Personally, Atheism+ feels ambiguous & is already creating detractors from rational people for reasonable stances.

    A name that uses the ‘Ist’ treats the movement as a collective of like minded people working together towards a common goal (ie Atheist’s for Social Justice .. for LGBTIQ rights .. Social Equality etc etc).
    A name with an ‘Ism’ will either be attaching itself onto an already established ‘Ism’ (which has side effects) or a brand new ‘Ism’ all together.
    If a brand new ‘Ism’ is attractive, find a word that encapsulates your overall objectives & ‘Ism’ it.

  348. jose says

    The more groups the better. There should be more groups. It’s strange people don’t like bipartidism and definitely hate when there’s only one political party, but then they discourage the creation of different groups with different interests.

    If people don’t like the word “divided”, just say “diversified”.

    Personally I think it’s good to have more places to go to depending on the issue of the day.

  349. Dantalion says

    The f*cked up part is, most of this confusion could be easily avoided if people posting on this thread had just read Greta’s original post first.

  350. One Way Monkey says

    Out of respect to Greta, I have refrained from speaking of why I felt that term is divisive. Are you really going to try to bring that up again in this thread?

    Wow. Have you even read the original post? Did you read the title even?

    Or, did you just set your phasers to ‘word salad’ after your YouTube buddy sent out the rallying cry?

    The entire point of this post is to ask why the name A+ is seen as divisive, when more than a year of death threats, rape threats, abuse, stalking, libel and bullying is not seen as divisive.

    Why do you and your compatriots feel outraged about a group of people building their own treehouse, when you could not muster up so much as a squeak of indignation over the revelation that big tent Atheism is hiding festering pockets of MRAs, racists, homophobes, and transphobes?

    Where were you all when the threats and defamation were flying? When someone abused their position and threatened to publish an anonymous trans woman’s identifying details?

    Were you calling that divisive? If not, why not?

    Stop insulting people, drop the unwarranted superiority complex, stop with the false equivalence of “both sides are as bad as each other”, and answer the question.

    It’s not hard, answer, what’s more likely to divide and deter, a group that’s a fortnight old, or more than a year of raw hatred toward 51% of the population?

    If you won’t answer, then you obviously have an agenda that you’re unwilling to reveal.

  351. says

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about our problems with Atheism +. The criticism is that, by calling yourself Atheism + and by advocating a particular political viewpoint, you are essentially changing the definition of atheism to mean someone who lacks a belief in a god AND advocates your interpretation of social justice. What about the atheists who don’t share your belief, what are they to call themselves after they can no longer use the word “atheist”? How will this affect people who want to come out as an atheist in places where it is still controversial to do so? This isn’t the minor issue you’d like to sell it as, these can potentially have HUGE implications for the rest of us. I go into detail on my Orygyn blogspot on my most recent post, but you have to understand how seriously we take anyone trying to add unnecessary connotations to an already controversial label.

  352. Skelter says

    @One Way Monkey (formerly ‘Nym Too)

    Now that was something that should have a trigger warning. My heart’s still pounding.

    I am hoping you are not talking about the UK. I live their and am one of the people caught up in it.

    If you are; you paint an horrific heavily biased image, that I found upsetting and thoughtlessly sensationalized. Seemingly for no more noble purpose than to guilt-trip another commenter.

    I and many of my friends are being made ill and some are dying. But we do not need well-meaning people telling horror stories on the internet for effect. We need people to represent our issues in a calm and level way. We need the support of the able, not their pity. This kind of sensationalizing does nothing for the former and only feeds the latter.

    Sorry if you feel this unfair. And sorry if I came across too admonishy, but that hit close.

    On another note you mention: “32 people die here every week after draconian eligibility tests for welfare find them “fit for work”.” You do not mention a time period and the last stats I saw on this were from 2011, before ATOS. I would be very grateful if you could provide me a link to your source as it would be invaluable to my local Service User Network and SU & C newsletter with witch I am involved.

  353. PeeGee says

    Comment deleted by GC.

    Note from GC: If any one was in any doubt about whether PeeGee was actually engaging in a good-faith debate: After having been banned from this blog, he came back under another IP address and posted the same comment over 100 times.

    I have just deleted them. This will muck up the system referring to other comments by number. Sorry about that. Not much I can do about it.

  354. One Way Monkey says

    Skelter :

    My heart’s still pounding.
    I am hoping you are not talking about the UK. I live their and am one of the people caught up in it.
    If you are; you paint an horrific heavily biased image, that I found upsetting and thoughtlessly sensationalized. Seemingly for no more noble purpose than to guilt-trip another commenter.
    I and many of my friends are being made ill and some are dying. But we do not need well-meaning people telling horror stories on the internet for effect. We need people to represent our issues in a calm and level way.

    I’m not a “well meaning” TAB person. I’m someone who’s been completely fucked over by the unelected ConDems. I’m someone who’s been campaigning the “reforms” since Labour announced them.

    I’m someone who’s been told I’m a liar for warning about PIP and ESA. I’ve been the victim of hate crimes because of the government’s habit of making statements like “75% of benefit claimants are fit for work”.

    I’m someone who wondered when the media would listen, as people I loved either died or killed themselves after being found “fit for work”. I watched in horror as my online support groups dwindled and died. I watched as blogs, twitter feeds, facebook accounts and YouTube vlogs vanished wholesale, after online activity was used as evidence of fitness for work,

    Remember Nadine Dorries and her claim that sending a tweet was evidence of ability to hold down a job?

    32 a week is a figure from a few weeks ago. It’s from Atos’ own figures, and was aired on the recent Dispatches investigation, Jon Ronson’s investigation, and is not some secret or some lie fabricated to get pity.

    I don’t want pity from TAB’s. They don’t care. It’s up to PWD and PWMI to do it ourselves. TABs have ignored our parades, protests, pleas and even proof of what was going on.

    They don’t care if it’s not affecting them directly. Look at the horror over removing family allowance from families earning over 80k, while PWD are living on 4k a year.

    Every possible tactic short of mass suicide has been tried. Even the die-ins barely registered. What else can we do to make them listen?

    How do we get to a place where British PWD aren’t stockpiling medication for when the brown letter arrives? On the private forum I modded before the last hospitalisation, we had 18 verified suicides, and several planned. TAB people just write PWMI off as “nutters” or “workshy”. How many people do you know who desperately want to work, but are prevented from doing so by the prejudices of the able-bodied? The same ABs who shout “SCROUNGER!” att them in the street for claiming benefits?

    Where are these TABs that care, genuinely care? Who aren’t affected by it at all, who won’t use us to appear charitable, who want to do it simply to uphold their end of the social contract?

  355. Sheesh says

    To think that including a term such as ‘Atheism’ in anything to do with social justice issues is not going to immediately alienate certain people that would be likely to volunteer their alignment to pool together all available resources is quite naive.

    Religious people that won’t work with atheists towards a shared goal are bigoted and I’m not really that heartbroken to lose them (when the whole point of abandoning the bigots/sexists is to grow our ranks by being more welcome to women and POC). I may have to work twice as hard, but at least I won’t be shoulder to shoulder with bigots. I would imagine that if e.g. social justice or secularism are the shared goal that such bigotry against atheists would not be present, so nbd. I.e., the religious people that share our values outside of atheism are not the ones that hate us for our atheism.

  356. 'Tis Himself says

    Sash #375

    Yet it seems that there are 2 camps of people in control of the hostility, those that are basic haters/trolls/twats & those that are reacting. In reality it really is hard to pick who does the most damage, the haters that will hate for the sake of causing a reaction so they can then point the finger & claim ‘look, they are nuts, don’t listen to them’ or the reactees that basically walk into these traps time in & time out. I can say that from both personal experience & the way I have seen others fall victim to it. This tends to happen while onlookers break out the popcorn & giggle at the antics of both sides.

    You’ve got a whole lot of chutzpah to equate the abusers with the victims of abuse by whining “both sides are at fault.” Since Greta frowns on abusive language, I won’t tell you what I’m really thinking. I will say that you’re being more insulting using polite words than I would using coarse language.

  357. One Way Monkey says

    Skelter – if I seem cynical and mistrustful of those unaffected, it’s because I am.

    Thousands sign petitions to protect trees and libraries, but don’t care about living, breathing people.

    They want us to work, but destroy Remploy, scrap the ILF and Access to Work, andwant to remove assistance from 20% of DLA claimants.

    Housing benefit has been halted for PWD in my region, and social services have stated directly that we’re at the back of the queue. Pensioners first, of course.

    Are you familiar with 38 Degrees? They refused to campaign on disability related issues, due to “lack of interest”. Groups like Broken of Britain had supported them, only to be snubbed.

    Oh, and as of yesterday, Cecilia Burns (51) is dead. She was found “fit for work” too.

  358. 'Tis Himself says

    PeeGee,
    I thought you were banned.

    Comment by PeeGee blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

    Killfile is my friend.

  359. Pteryxx says

    Every possible tactic short of mass suicide has been tried. Even the die-ins barely registered. What else can we do to make them listen?

    One Way Monkey: to my shame I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m darned well going to start googling now. I WTF’d so hard my eyes are drying out from going O_O at the screen.

    Thank you for bringing it up.

  360. Skelter says

    @One Way Monkey

    What a very rude response. No contrition at all?

    I say: “But we do not need well-meaning people telling horror stories on the internet for effect.”

    You respond: “I’m not a “well meaning” TAB person.”

    I request you reread my post and understand it or, if you already understand fine apologize for misrepresenting my words. I did not claim you were TAB, I know you are not, you made it graphically clear in your original over the top post.

    I understand and feel your bitterness at the current situation. That is no excuse for sensationalizing, which you are continuing to do.

    People like us who may have come here because they heard it was a safe and supportive environment (hello that would be me, thanks for the warm welcome) could be adversely affected by the kind of language you are using.

    ” TAB people just write PWMI off as “nutters” or “workshy”. How many people do you know who desperately want to work, but are prevented from doing so by the prejudices of the able-bodied? The same ABs who shout “SCROUNGER!” att them in the street for claiming benefits?”

    You have my utmost sympathy. It is disgusting you have been treated this way. If this is not a recounting of a personal experience then, shame on you for using the misery of others to score a cheap point. In my own experience (over 20 years) I have rarely encountered such attitudes, and I am involved in user support and advocacy. Where I live we are discriminated against but are rarely subject to hate crime, I live in a deprived area of a big city. It happens but not as often as you attempt to represent. If you know different please provide a source. Regurgitated mainstream media sound bites are inadequate for the information you purport to know.

    Such exaggerated appeals to emotion are not helpful. We need the help and support of TAB folk, and you would insult and alienate them. Why? You try to portray TAB people as some kind of enemy. Why? Are you so naive as to think we can reduce stigma and improve welfare without their help?

    “Every possible tactic short of mass suicide has been tried. Even the die-ins barely registered. What else can we do to make them listen?”

    This is a disgusting thing to suggest.

    You are cynically exaggerating for dramatic effect. Please recognize this is unhelpful to our joint cause.

    Once again One Way Monkey many thanks for putting in such an effort to make a newcomer to A+ feel welcome.

  361. 'Tis Himself says

    Orygyn #382

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about our problems with Atheism +. The criticism is that, by calling yourself Atheism + and by advocating a particular political viewpoint, you are essentially changing the definition of atheism to mean someone who lacks a belief in a god AND advocates your interpretation of social justice. What about the atheists who don’t share your belief, what are they to call themselves after they can no longer use the word “atheist”?

    I’ve bolded something in this quote. Notice that it’s Atheism+ (or Atheism Plus if that makes it more obvious). As has been said over and over and bloody over again, Atheism+ is atheism with something added. Not regular atheism but atheism and something else. If you as an atheist want to call yourself an atheist without the plus (+), then do so. Atheism is still atheism. Atheism+ is atheism plus other things.

    Damn, some people seem to be going out of their way not to use the three seconds it requires to realize “hey, Atheism+ isn’t quite the same as atheism.” If God had intended atheism to be Atheism+ then He would have called it Atheism+ instead of atheism. :-þ

  362. One Way Monkey says

    Skelter – do I know you? If not, why. do you keep accusing me of misrepresenting my experiences, and how has my life made you unwelcome in A+?

    You posted here first, claiming I was appropriating the suffering of PWD. I’m not.

    You’re accusing me of relying on media soundbites, when I’m mentioning actual events. While I was able to attend the inter-party meetings , the representatives of the parties hadn.t even heard. of the die-ins, protests, or deaths.

    Also, this isn’t A+, it’s Greta’s blog.

    Which disability benefits do you claim, and why are you so sure that you’re the one in the know about Unum/Atos and the DWP?

    I used to work for HMRC. You’d be surprised at some of the bizarre schemes they floated.

    Take this to the A+ forums, this has derailed enough. Also, look up *Where’s. the Benefit” and. “The Broken of Britain”

  363. One Way Monkey says

    Oh, and if you’re a member of benefitsandwork I can give you my PM details, although my instincts are telling me not to.

    My main blog has real life details, so I’m not linking it here. It has copies of police reports and correspondence with ATOS and DWP. There are also FoI requests.

    I don’t want the two identities linked, especially as the main blog has photographic evidence of injuries and vandalism. TBoB and WtB have similar collections though.

  364. Skelter says

    @One Way Monkey

    “Skelter – do I know you? If not, why. do you keep accusing me of misrepresenting my experiences, and how has my life made you unwelcome in A+?”

    How could I establish if we knew each other? I have not nor would ever accuse you of misrepresenting your experiences. I have merely pointed out that you are misrepresenting the experiences of others.

    How could your “life” make me feel unwelcome? It was your lack of recognition for my concerns and hostile tone that is unwelcoming. This does not reflect badly on the group. Just you.

    “You posted here first, claiming I was appropriating the suffering of PWD. I’m not.”

    Hardly. I accused you of outright exaggeration and repeating hearsay in order to scare-monger.

    “Which disability benefits do you claim, and why are you so sure that you’re the one in the know about Unum/Atos and the DWP?”

    If you were as clued in as you believe you would know how irresponsible that type of question is. Do you really expect vulnerable people to reveal such information in public? I have not claimed any superior knowledge of any of these things.

    “Take this to the A+ forums, this has derailed enough. Also, look up *Where’s. the Benefit” and. “The Broken of Britain””

    You are right I was thinking the same thing. Next time a newcomer calls you might try talking rather than jumping down their throat.

    (All questions are rhetorical and require no answer, we have taken enough space on Greta’s blog already).

    I hope your situation improves. Fair-well.

  365. Skelter says

    @One Way Monkey

    Thank you for the kind offer. I would not be comfortable accepting your PM after such a short acquaintance though. Perhaps we will meet under better circumstances in the forum.

    Don’t give up on the able they are people too ;)

  366. C W says

    As I said I am not very good with words, so please forgive me. I shall put aside the rebranding problem entirely and ask about a different part which was not fully flushed out in my last comment. It seems as if the movement or group creation is motivated by social justice. This is in no way a bad thing, just that it is not what atheism is. This can be shown in response 370. (I am sorry I do not know how to quote). By saying our atheism and your atheism, you are misusing the term atheism it appears. Atheism is a well-defined term, with a very certain meaning. By saying that “our” atheism necessarily has parts of social justice intertwined with, it seems to be troubling. We all come to atheism in different ways. Some of these are due to seeing certain injustices occur frequently. We however must be careful to conflate the two. You may think that atheism is a good way to combat certain social injustices, which could be rational. However then you are just using atheism as a means to an end instead of what it actually is. I think many people are finding fault with this tactic.
    The last part of my post was trying to point this out. The division isn’t between those that abuse other and not, or even those that believe in social justice or not, which it seems many of the posts are concerned with. Please again tell me if I have misunderstood something.

  367. says

    @’Tis Himself

    394

    “As has been said over and over and bloody over again, Atheism+ is atheism with something added. Not regular atheism but atheism and something else.”

    This conflicts with what Jen McCreight said about Atheism + being “the third wave of atheism”, which suggests a deliberate attempt to associate with atheism with a particular political position. Saying that the movemenmt isn’t trying to redefine atheism and saying that it’s a third wave are in complete contradiction with each other. Which is it? The members of the group need to pick 1.

  368. Sash says

    @Tis

    “You’ve got a whole lot of chutzpah to equate the abusers with the victims of abuse by whining “both sides are at fault.” Since Greta frowns on abusive language, I won’t tell you what I’m really thinking. I will say that you’re being more insulting using polite words than I would using coarse language.”

    & you are the perfect example of ‘chip on the shoulder’ person whom will drag their wound from their mis-treaatment around with them & then take it out on people that have done you no harm.

    If a person is receiving death threats then that is simply not ok.
    If a person is getting harassed on the internet then walk away from that specific post/thread/environment & go somewhere else. You can’t snap your fingers on the internet & make all the idiots go away but if you react in anyway “YOU ADD TO THE PROBLEM” just as you did here.

  369. celtic chimp says

    The reason Atheism+ is being given a wide berth by many of us and seen as divisive is
    1. For the reasons given by Jim and
    2. The responses Jim got for the most part displayed exactly the kind of uncritical, sneering self-righteous attacks that characterise the only form of “debate” I have seen recently on FtB.

    The lack of reading comprehension alone was worrying. His concerns were, in most cases, either straw-manned, not understood but gleefully attacked anyway or sarcastically dismissed. Those were the lion’s share of the responses he got. I don’t know if it is wilful stupidity or genuine cluelessness but the values of atheism+ are rarely the problem as in, I have yet to encounter anyone on either side of this who is against any of them. (Why people here repeatedly insinuated they were is baffling.)

    It is the attitudes of many of the people involved that strike many of us as toxic; The lack of tolerance of dissent, the group-think nature of these blogs, a lot of black and white thinking. It feels nothing like a group of freethinking critical-thinkers in here. Being someone who thinks for themselves and acts rationally requires more than saying you do, you have to actually do it. How many A+ supporters did you see calling the other supporters on their egregiously off-target responses to Jim? How many even noticed how far afield they even were? I support all the values that A+ purports to endorse. I don’t believe it actually displays all of them but I can at least agree that these are worthy values/aims. Despite this I still don’t want anything to do with atheism+ and I rather hope the moniker doesn’t catch on as I don’t want to be associated with the mentality I see it as representing. I am clearly not alone. You are actually severing the allegiance of people who would support you in your aims and causing resentment in the process. If that doesn’t qualify as divisive I don’t know what would. Lastly, if it isn’t implicitly clear, I do not think that every person who supports or want to see A+ succeed is guilty of what I have outlined above. I am sure that there are dedicated and genuine people involved who I would see as at worst a little misguided for trying to pin things that have absolutely nothing to do with atheism to that particular identifier but who I can certainly respect and have no problem being associated with.

  370. Sash says

    @Greta

    I apologise if you personally feel that I am somehow victim blaming here. I was just trying to point out how trying to ‘fight’ arseholes just makes them bigger arseholes but also can drag many good people into the fight so deep, they do in fact come off ‘looking’ & ‘sounding’ equally arseholerish.

    There can also be a situation where people get into a mindset of fighting & start fighting anyone they see as a threat at all. In fact their demeanor can change & then can attract arseholes as well.

    This still can never excuse the original arseholes for doing what they do & I have been subject for over 3 years to amazing internet harassment, PC hacking, emails being personally addressed to be via unreachable & untraceable addresses. I have had the local police try to do something, Some members of ASIS monitor IP traffic in a hope to find a source of these people.

    In fact I spent a full year of my life in perma reaction from the crap I got from the interwebz. I have every idea what is going on & how much this treatment can be like. I also had to stop studying due to this to get counseling.

    In saying that, there are people among you that are creating untold grief & reaction themselves for what ever reason & if you cannot see this, then I really don’t know how your group of people can ever be helped or protected.

    This thread is a clusterfuck of angry little people. There comes a time when you have to put the past behind you if you ever want a chance of a better future. Considering that there are people here that are arseholes (be it their nature or situations), I cannot see how this group can achieve much.

    In fact in amongst you are the very people you espouse to despise, just their mirror counterparts.

    Greta I wish you well, you have been a reasonable person in my stay & obviously my presence here can only cause good people grief so I bid you farewell & the best of luck.

  371. says

    #499 Sash

    You can’t snap your fingers on the internet & make all the idiots go away but if you react in anyway “YOU ADD TO THE PROBLEM” just as you did here.

    This comment sticks out to me and seems to be a dividing line. There is the group like you and others who feel that pointing out harassment, threats, etc. on the internet are pointless and only add to the problem, not make it better. Then there is the group like Greta, and others who feel that the only way to fight harassment, threats, etc. is to make it visible and to make it know that that kind of behavior is not acceptable.

    I’m of the mind that making something not acceptable is the way to go. But I’m curious to know why you feel that pointing out death threats, rape threats, etc. are adding to the problem. How do we fix the problem if we don’t address it? If we ignore it what are the safe places to do? Cover it up?

    I’m asking honestly and earnestly for some feed back and I’m willing to listen, but I’d like more than just “It doesn’t work” as a response to why we shouldn’t be exposing harassment, threats and other kinds of “-isms.”

  372. tropism says

    Wow PeeGee, you’re really not doing your case any favors by sitting there and spamming for an hour and a half straight.

  373. Greta Christina says

    This conflicts with what Jen McCreight said about Atheism + being “the third wave of atheism”, which suggests a deliberate attempt to associate with atheism with a particular political position. Saying that the movemenmt isn’t trying to redefine atheism and saying that it’s a third wave are in complete contradiction with each other. Which is it? The members of the group need to pick 1.

    Orygyn @ #401: As Jen McCreight herself said in her FAQ about Atheism+, which I urge everyone in this thread to go read if you haven’t already:

    Yes, I think it’s time for a new wave, but that doesn’t make the previous wave disappear. There are still second wave feminists (and I know this will shock some of you, but no, I’m not one of them).

  374. (nane deleted) says

    The contend of this post has been deleted. It was posted maliciously by someone claiming to be me, using my Gravatar. -GC

  375. 'Tis Himself says

    Sash #499 (almost certainly to be renumbered when the spammer’s posts are deleted):

    & you are the perfect example of ‘chip on the shoulder’ person whom will drag their wound from their mis-treaatment around with them & then take it out on people that have done you no harm.

    Apparently you think that objecting to misogynist bullies means I have a chip on my shoulder. You also appear to be in favor of blaming victims for other peoples’ actions. I’m going to assume that you don’t have a clue about the year-long rape- and death-threat bullying that’s been going on in the atheist world. That’s giving you the benefit of the doubt, because if you were aware of it then your callous dismissal of the bullying does not put you in a good light.

    It’s quite simple. You can sympathize with the victims, you can encourage the bullies, or you can not say a word about the situation. But if you blame the victims for the bullies’ actions and pretend the two sides are equally culpable, then you’re less than a dog turd to be scraped from the sole of someone’s shoe. If that’s having a chip on my shoulder, then I wear it proudly.

    Your apology for your victim blaming, while not expected, will be accepted.

  376. (name deleted) says

    The content of this post has been deleted. It was posted maliciously by someone claiming to be ‘Tis Himself, and using my image as a Gravatar. -GC

  377. 'Tis Himself says

    Sash #404

    I was just trying to point out how trying to ‘fight’ arseholes just makes them bigger arseholes but also can drag many good people into the fight so deep, they do in fact come off ‘looking’ & ‘sounding’ equally arseholerish.

    Last February Stephanie Zvan wrote a post entitled “Don’t Feed the Trolls” is Bad Science:

    “Ignoring” the trolls, dealing with them on your own without social support, doesn’t make them stop. It makes you stop.

    It’s not surprising the advice about trolls is wrong if you look at where it came from. The idea is based in the principles of operant conditioning: reward and punishment having an effect on the frequency of behavior, rats pressing levers for sugar, pigeons pecking at buttons for food, etc. The advice itself is essentially what was once given to parents of small children who act out. Don’t give them the attention, and they’ll find better ways to get it.

    In July Stephanie wrote another post Dealing with Trolls which has an excellent video by Jay Smooth about Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To.

    In short, ignoring the trolls has been shown not only to be ineffectual but actually counterproductive. I realize this doesn’t conform to your prejudices but one’s opinions don’t always match with reality.

  378. Skelter says

    Sorry I missed this earlier:

    “Are you familiar with 38 Degrees? They refused to campaign on disability related issues, due to “lack of interest”. Groups like Broken of Britain had supported them, only to be snubbed.”

    You will be pleased to know 38 degrees have taken this on now. You must have missed it (assuming you are on the mailing list).

    Here is the link for the petition:

    “https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/fine-atos-when-it-fails#petition”

    Please get as many people as you can to sign. This would be a big+ in my eyes :)

    Apologies to Greta for being off topic.

  379. jenne says

    Anyone who claims to be atheist and opposes an organization like Atheism+ must be missing a key benefit of atheism: We can all try to make the world a better place in our own ways! There’s no actual competition with anyone because there is no one to keep score (no god, that is) We are all players here. All just doing the best we can. Why throw stones at someone who actively takes a stand for good? Leave it to the believers

  380. Sash says

    @ Timid

    “There is the group like you and others who feel that pointing out harassment, threats, etc. on the internet are pointless and only add to the problem”

    That is bordering on a lie. I specifically said ‘reacting’, not pointing out. Dealing with situations & reacting to them are different. Pointing something out to focus efforts as opposed to turning into the mirror of your perceived enemy.

    & I do have a clue & need no benefit of the doubt as none has been offered by you or some others at all & therein seats the problem within this movement & organisation if it could be called that.

    Do you think you people are the only ones that receive death threats? Do you think you are somehow the most victimised people on the interwebz where no one else could have possibly ever have survived such an onslaught & lived to tell the tale or have no wise words at all?

    This is your problem & the chip I speak of.

  381. Sash says

    @ Tis

    “I realize this doesn’t conform to your prejudices but one’s opinions don’t always match with reality.”

    I do not have the prejudices that you perceive I have. In fact I doubt you can perceive much past your own perception at all.

    I never said ‘do not feed the trolls’. I said to not react to them. You can still show to be the better person by not retrolling them back or get into such a reactionary frame of mind you act like you are right now to someone like me, whom was in your exact boots not 2 years ago.

    You can either kill them with kindness or adorn the same armour & weapons & declare war. The former will only make you the victor by being exactly like them. Right or wrong, an arsehole is an arsehole.

    Yet 2 years ago, I dealt with this all by myself & had no support group, you people are at least lucky in that respect but maybe it is also a curse as when my nightmare ended, stories between all of you keep that flame alight.

    As if you people are the only ones to ever feel this level of hatred begs the question “do have any rational reality apart from your own at all?”

  382. Sash says

    @Timid

    “But I’m curious to know why you feel that pointing out death threats, rape threats, etc. are adding to the problem”

    Again, close to a lie. I will give you the benefit of the doubt & call it a strawman.

    Go back & find me one paragraph where I suggest that total ignorance of death threats, threats of rape & bodily harm is appropriate.

    I would say report all this to which ever local authority & as often as it happens. It is simply not ok (I feel I said those exact words in a previous post). I would say that while these steps are being taken to at the least reassure the targets, rationally separate the people that you know are doing this to the people that have reasonable question & answer them in a non reactionary way.

    I would say pool your resources to educate the the younger generation so they grow up to not think this way as best you can.

    I would say do it smart & intelligently as opposed to being so emotional that you act like fools & defeat your selves which is the aim of the threats in the 1st place.

    There are 2 ways this kind of harassment can win to silence you. By making you yield or by making you fight shadows so you gain more enemies than was even needed.

    Think & act – don’t be so stupid & forget the 1st part & react!

  383. detrean says

    I am against Atheism+. First some background on me. I am an atheist, a skeptic, and a secular humanist. I support the additional positions of atheism+ as they have always been my positions as well.

    I found out about the problems within our movement later than many. Threats to our bold women and the Thunderfoot drama came as a surprise to me. I support protection and policies to prevent such horrible treatment. Around that time I started to read in FTB many atheists trying to include feminism as a cornerstone to our movement. While I support feminism I do not think it needs to play a prominent role within this movement. I think that for the same reason that I am a socialist but feel socialism shouldn’t play a prominent role in this movement. Both socialism and feminism I support but I do so outside of this movement.

    I stated that in the comments section of a PZ entry. The reason I provided was limited resources. We have little funding, little media exposure, and little political power. Given what we are up against we need to have a unified, simple, goal. Promotion of critical thinking skills, gain political influence (for skeptics/secularists), and promote understanding to the general public of what an atheist is. That is what we have been doing and that has grown our numbers.

    For that argument I was labeled a misogynist, a sexist, and an enemy. Not by one person but by a strong majority. There wasn’t even a rational discussion. Atheism+ takes it’s allies behind the shed and shoots them (metaphorically speaking). Unless you agree in lockstep with the powers at be, even when it comes to strategy, you are an enemy. I was a Jehovah’s Witness when I was a child so I have some experience with how a cult behaves. I hadn’t felt that in this movement until I encountered FTB. I know you hate when people call you a cult but you have that label for a reason. Your behaviors give you that label.

    Based on many people’s experiences it looks like there is a problem within this movement that we need to address. I’m not the boogyman though. I have never sent a negative email, threatened anyone, or even have dissenting views from atheism+. I wish we could simply address these issues in a rational way and may the best ideas win. There is something wrong in this ftb community though and the fact I need to state the previous sentence points to that.

  384. Skwiggs says

    I actually find this whole topic amusing.

    Now, I don’t wish to make light of the issues that “A+” is taking a stance on. (they are valid issues) But seriously? If there is a “point” to Atheism, isn’t it to make the term unnecessary? It is truly laughable, to me, to make a group that combines a bunch of labels of things that are trying to make themselves unnecessary. (I can elaborate if needed but I think this group can gleam the point)

    I probably rank anywhere from 50 to 100 IQ points below the average commenter but… I see this new group just making an “atheistic flavor” of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy deploy-able. Fundamentalist Atheism (lol) if you will. Please Tell me the nuance I’m missing here.

  385. Dantalion says

    @Sash,

    It is really hard not to assume someone is arguing in bad faith when they go so far out of their way to argue in bad faith.

  386. Jack Rawlinson says

    And this response pretty well sums up the objections to this.

    “Indeed the very idea of A+ can be seen as one of the greatest trolling successes of all time.”

  387. Sash says

    This is like trying to be kind to the next door neighbours pet after the neighbour has beaten them into a frenzy to just be bitten on the hand whilst putting down a bowl of warm milk & biscuits.

    All I can do is have pity but still keep my distance.

  388. 'Tis Himself says

    Sash #415

    Do you think you people are the only ones that receive death threats? Do you think you are somehow the most victimised people on the interwebz where no one else could have possibly ever have survived such an onslaught & lived to tell the tale or have no wise words at all?

    This is your problem & the chip I speak of.

    I understand now. Supposedly you once received some sort of threat and you ignored it. And since what you do is the only correct, righteous and proper way of doing things, those who do anything else are unthinking, defective, deficient riffraff deserving nothing but your utmost contempt. Thanks for explaining.

    Sash #417

    I never said ‘do not feed the trolls’. I said to not react to them. You can still show to be the better person by not retrolling them back or get into such a reactionary frame of mind you act like you are right now to someone like me, whom was in your exact boots not 2 years ago.

    You’re not only self-righteous but you’re ignorant as well. What do you think “don’t feed the trolls” means except “not react to them”?

    Incidentally, I’m not the one who received death and rape threats. I was referring to other people like Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson and our gracious hostess.

    More and more it’s becoming obvious that you’ve jumped into a long-standing conversation without knowing the background. I suggest you put “#mencallmethings” into the search box in the upper right corner of this page and do some reading, you’d have a better understanding of what’s going on.

    One last thing: I suggest you pull the stick out of your ass. It must be very uncomfortable walking with that thing stuck up there.

  389. says

    Again, close to a lie. I will give you the benefit of the doubt & call it a strawman.

    Go back & find me one paragraph where I suggest that total ignorance of death threats, threats of rape & bodily harm is appropriate.

    I appreciate the response and I’ll address each point along the way.

    I would say report all this to which ever local authority & as often as it happens. It is simply not ok (I feel I said those exact words in a previous post). I would say that while these steps are being taken to at the least reassure the targets, rationally separate the people that you know are doing this to the people that have reasonable question & answer them in a non reactionary way.

    I agree with the reporting, I’m glad to see you do as well.

    And while I agree that those who have reasonable questions should be allowed to ask them and get answers, I don’t think that asking a victim to be non-reactionary is okay. I think victims should be given some leeway when it comes to being questions about harassment, threats and ‘-isms.’

    What is reasonable questioning to you?

    To me that means asking for more information on what happened, but to a victim that may seem unreasonable. It may even seem as if the questioner is doubting the victim or trying to determine how much blame the victim has in the situation. Whether or not that is rational is moot, in my opinion, because when it comes to dealing with harassment and threats it shouldn’t be about rationality it should be about support and safety and help.

    Even better than asking for information would be to ask if the victim would like help or even better, don’t ask questions, offer resources for reporting and the like. Not all victims think to report things like that to the authorities.

    I would say pool your resources to educate the the younger generation so they grow up to not think this way as best you can.

    I like the idea of educating the younger generation but would add everyone who isn’t already aware of how threats, harassment, etc. can have a negative affect on people.

    I would say do it smart & intelligently as opposed to being so emotional that you act like fools & defeat your selves which is the aim of the threats in the 1st place.

    By act the fool you are addressing those who are wary and hostile of people coming in to ask questions?

    I usually try to be polite, even on the internet. There are a very few subjects, however, that tend to push my buttons and make me say less than kind things. I try to stick to the subject and the content I’m addressing because I feel Ad Hom attacks are rude and pointless. They don’t move the conversation forward.

    However there are also things that don’t move the conversation forward. Things like asking question after question of victims in an attempt to learn more.

    Now I’m not saying everyone who asks questions has ill intent or is purposefully trying to derail or otherwise cause trouble. However, intent, as they say, is not magic. And I think, regardless of the tone used, if someone is told they’re asking questions in bad faith, they should examine why it is they’re asking questions in the first place.

    That doesn’t mean that I think ideas shouldn’t be questioned. I have no problem with people questioning ideas. It’s when those questions result in harm to people that I am not so pleased.

    There are 2 ways this kind of harassment can win to silence you. By making you yield or by making you fight shadows so you gain more enemies than was even needed.

    Think & act – don’t be so stupid & forget the 1st part & react!

    I agree that thinking and acting are a great order to do things in. That doesn’t always happen though. Humans aren’t robots, we don’t have programs that script our actions. We sometimes do react without thought. And if that reaction was too quick too judge then we can, if we realize our error, apologize and resolve to do better the next time.

    That goes for both sides of the argument. Because it’s not just about having a chip one’s shoulder because they’ve been harassed or threatened or what have you. Hyper-skepticism happens because people have a chip on their shoulder about feminism or the LGBT community and so forth.

    I apologize for misrepresenting your arguments. I read most of them, but apparently missed a few in the spam. (literally) It was not my intention to paint you as a silencer, so for that I apologize.

    My comment still stands, however, that there are some who think that silence is the best answer to trolls and harassment and shining light on threats. That I used your comment to highlight it was a mistake on my part do to missing some of your other posts.

  390. says

    I understand now. Supposedly you once received some sort of threat and you ignored it. And since what you do is the only correct, righteous and proper way of doing things, those who do anything else are unthinking, defective, deficient riffraff deserving nothing but your utmost contempt. Thanks for explaining.

    Actually that’s a misrepresentation. Sash said ze received threats and other nastiness and reported to the police, etc.

  391. 'Tis Himself says

    You’re right, Timid Atheist. I did misrepresent what Sash did in that instance. However I did not misrepresent Sash’s reaction to anyone doing anything other than what Sash thinks should be done.

  392. 'Tis Himself says

    detrean #418

    We have little funding, little media exposure, and little political power. Given what we are up against we need to have a unified, simple, goal. Promotion of critical thinking skills, gain political influence (for skeptics/secularists), and promote understanding to the general public of what an atheist is.

    The most basic question in economics is what’s called the Economic Problem. Essentially it says the finite resources available are insufficient to satisfy all human needs and wants and therefore one must decide which needs and wants should be satisfied.

    You’ve made your choice and other people have made theirs. These choices are not identical and therefore you are going your way and the others are going theirs.

    For that argument I was labeled a misogynist, a sexist, and an enemy. Not by one person but by a strong majority. There wasn’t even a rational discussion. Atheism+ takes it’s allies behind the shed and shoots them (metaphorically speaking). Unless you agree in lockstep with the powers at be, even when it comes to strategy, you are an enemy

    I have no idea about what your actually said and what was said back to you. However when you dismiss other peoples’ concerns as being secondary to yours, especially on a hot topic like misogyny, then an adverse reaction is not unwarranted. There’s the further points that Pharyngula is not a polite debating society but is the biker bar of FtB and the discussion of misogyny has been ongoing for over a year.

    All too often someone comes into a misogyny discussion and says something to the effect of “what’s important to you is not important to me so you should stop what you’re doing and do what I want.” That’s what your argument boils down to. That’s not going to go well with a group of people who have reached a consensus and are emotionally involved in that consensus.

    Based on many people’s experiences it looks like there is a problem within this movement that we need to address. I’m not the boogyman though. I have never sent a negative email, threatened anyone, or even have dissenting views from atheism+. I wish we could simply address these issues in a rational way and may the best ideas win. There is something wrong in this ftb community though and the fact I need to state the previous sentence points to that.

    The problem is being addressed on this very thread. As to you not being the boogeyman, opinions may differ. You say you support feminism yet your priorities don’t include actually doing something in regards to that support. In fact you urge that actions be taken on other topics of greater concern to you. While you haven’t actually sneered at Atheism+, you’re quite dismissive of it.

    As I’ve said many times, if you don’t like Atheism+ then don’t join. This does not make you evil.

  393. Greta Christina says

    I would say report all this to which ever local authority & as often as it happens. It is simply not ok (I feel I said those exact words in a previous post). I would say that while these steps are being taken to at the least reassure the targets, rationally separate the people that you know are doing this to the people that have reasonable question & answer them in a non reactionary way.

    Sash @ #417: The question of why telling victims of abuse to “call the police” is ground that has been very well covered, many times over. (The tl;dr: Not all abuse crosses the line into law-breaking; police reports are of little help with anonymous threats on the Internet; police often don’t take abuse seriously and in fact often act abusively themselves; pursing legal action is often very traumatizing and forces victims to re-live their trauma again and again.)

    And in fact, the general trope of telling abuse victims how they should and should not respond to abuse is also ground that has been very well covered, many times over.

    I am therefore going to ask you to take these questions to the Atheism+ Educational forum, where introductory questions will receive civil responses.

    Finally:

    This is like trying to be kind to the next door neighbours pet after the neighbour has beaten them into a frenzy to just be bitten on the hand whilst putting down a bowl of warm milk & biscuits.

    All I can do is have pity but still keep my distance.

    Sash @ #423: This is incredibly demeaning and degrading. We are not dogs. We are human beings. There is something you can do with is that you can’t do with beaten dogs. And that is to ask us, in words, what we need and want, and listen to us when we say, in words, when we say what we need and want, and as long as it’s not outrageously unreasonable, to support what we say we need and want. Or at least, to not devote thousands of words arguing with us about why we should actually need and want something other than what we’re asking for.

  394. detrean says

    “You’ve made your choice and other people have made theirs. These choices are not identical and therefore you are going your way and the others are going theirs.”

    Promotion of Critical thinking, political influence, and general understanding are not my choices. They are the core goals of most skeptic/atheist groups. I would assume they are because they are the most basic and unifying. Pretty much everyone in our movement would like those things to happen. Feminism is an obvious result of critical thinking. It also depends what definition of feminism one subscribes to. Because it not considered a unifying core ideal and because it’s definition varies, most groups list it as a secondary goal. It isn’t just my way though.

    “However when you dismiss other peoples’ concerns as being secondary to yours, especially on a hot topic like misogyny, then an adverse reaction is not unwarranted. There’s the further points that Pharyngula is not a polite debating society but is the biker bar of FtB and the discussion of misogyny has been ongoing for over a year.”

    I didn’t dismiss other peoples concerns. I argued an opposing position and expected a rational response. Of course one would expect more counter arguments than agreement in this forum but I should expect it to be reasoned and rational. What I got back was abuse and school yard bullying. If your/their role models for behavior are the stereotypical biker bar type then I’m at a loss.

    “‘what’s important to you is not important to me so you should stop what you’re doing and do what I want.’ That’s what your argument boils down to.”

    I didn’t say they should stop supporting feminism. I made an argument that it shouldn’t become a core focus of the atheist movement. I also argued that it should be supported but that it is a separate movement and while we should ally with it we shouldn’t adopt it within this one. An atheist can be both within the atheist movement and within the feminist movement at the same time.

    “That’s not going to go well with a group of people who have reached a consensus and are emotionally involved in that consensus.”

    So they shouldn’t be treated different than the religious? Your argument basically states that I should expect abuse if I disagree with their opinions. I would expect that from the fundamentalists I debate but not within a rationalist/skeptic movement. This also speaks to their cult like behavior.

    “As to you not being the boogeyman, opinions may differ. You say you support feminism yet your priorities don’t include actually doing something in regards to that support”

    So I could be the boogeyman even though I haven’t sent a negative email, threatened anyone, or even have dissenting views from atheism+? I also support socialism but I don’t promote it through the atheism movement. This is what we (the larger group of atheists) are talking about when we say you have a with us or against us attitude. The fact that someone could be your boogeyman even though they support your general positions is off putting to us.

    You don’t just disagree and offer arguments against the the opposing position. You bully and name call while offering nothing constructive. You lump us into the category of actual bigots and misogynists. People don’t like that behavior so you will be relegated to a fringe group. I reject A+ and most will agree with me. Ironically enough the majority within the atheist movement support your progressive positions. Your just so distasteful it is off putting.

  395. Meg says

    I am an atheist who had sworn off the Atheist movement long ago. This might, might, convince me to cautiously dip a toe back in, the same way bell hooks convinced me to give feminism another go back in the day.

    As long as people cared more about making themselves feel better than the safety and autonomy of women around them the movement could never be anything but a net negative on my life. I was quiet, though, and simply left. I am impressed that you are willing to stay and fight.

    For the people who say atheism isn’t about any of those social justice issues, I would say then, “what is the point?” Who cares if people are religious of atheists aren’t any better? Who cares about the triumph of science if “science” includes “evolutionary psychology” that is really just a post-hoc justification of religious, patriarchal social norms? Without social justice issues, atheism becomes just another religion patting people on the head and telling them it is okay to be awful.

  396. Greta Christina says

    detrean @ #430: Your point has been addressed many times over. But I’ll take another stab:

    If atheism doesn’t work to address sexism — at the very least in internal matters, by dealing with sexism and misogyny within our own communities — we will be less able to draw women into the movement, and the movement will be smaller and less powerful as a result.

    The comments on this topic make that clear. Look at the number of women who have been saying, “I’ve been very put off from atheism by the overt misogyny in it by many, and from the dismissive attitude towards the problem by many others. Atheism+ is making me feel like I might have a place in this movement.”

    For more on this topic:

    Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race
    Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do — And Why

  397. says

    Meg @431

    For the people who say atheism isn’t about any of those social justice issues, I would say then, “what is the point?” Who cares if people are religious of atheists aren’t any better?

    To me this sums up atheism+. I think you will find a good home there.
    Believe me when I say that your concerns are more worthy than the ones i focus my attentions on. You are probably a more worthy person than I am.
    However, I just can’t follow your reasoning. What is the ‘point’ to big bang cosmology unless it is about housing the homeless; why play tennis unless it goes some way towards helping starving children in Africa?
    you may be an atheist Meg but your interests, your concerns, lie elsewhere. Maybe atheism would have more ‘point’ if it was about social justice issues but it isn’t and you aren’t really that interested in your atheism, you are interested in these issues.

  398. Sally Strange says

    Believe me when I say that your concerns are more worthy than the ones i focus my attentions on. You are probably a more worthy person than I am.

    This is just bizarre. “Oh lawdy I am such a bad person! You are a much better person than I am!” What is your game?

    However, I just can’t follow your reasoning. What is the ‘point’ to big bang cosmology unless it is about housing the homeless; why play tennis unless it goes some way towards helping starving children in Africa?

    I believe it will be more understandable if you assume that “atheism” means “organized efforts to combat religious privilege and promote critical thinking” rather than dictionary atheism, which is nothing more than lack of belief in gods.

    you may be an atheist Meg but your interests, your concerns, lie elsewhere. Maybe atheism would have more ‘point’ if it was about social justice issues but it isn’t and you aren’t really that interested in your atheism, you are interested in these issues.

    Just because you see atheism as a separate thing from social justice issues doesn’t mean everyone does. For me, the process of reasoning and research and questioning and learning that led me to atheism also led me to feminism, anti-racism, and advocacy for a steady-state economic system. So I see them all as intrinsically related, and I can explain what the relationship are and why I came to see them that way.

    You’re just being unimaginative. Just because you don’t see things a particular way doesn’t mean that nobody does, nor does it mean that your way of seeing things is correct and others’ is incorrect.

  399. detrean says

    Greta Christina: If atheism doesn’t work to address sexism — at the very least in internal matters, by dealing with sexism and misogyny within our own communities — we will be less able to draw women into the movement, and the movement will be smaller and less powerful as a result

    This is one thing we absolutely agree on. I have read that some women have been harassed at conventions. Just as any major organization we should have a policy on how to deal with that. We should be a movement what makes women feel safe. Eliminating the very small elements within our group that can hurt our reputation as a whole is needed.

    That being said, we can address that issue without reworking our focus and basic goals. I support the goals that will include the most skeptics/atheists as possible (short of the bad elements). If you disagree with me then that is great, we can argue it with mutual respect. Unfortunately, short of yourself, respect and reasoned discussion is in short supply at FTB. That is why I hope we, the majority, adopt a reasoned harassment policy and we can bury this poisonous A+ movement.

  400. says

    @433 Noelplum –

    However, I just can’t won’t follow your reasoning.

    FIFY.

    {rant}
    1. What is the point in being good without god when half the population cannot speak their mind?

    2. What good is critical thinking when half the people can’t reasonably participate in the discussion?

    3. What good is a godless society that still devalues the contributions of half of said society?

    C: Without social justice atheism is just a waste of time.
    {/rant}

    Yes, hyperbole, but people who are not as (seemingly) privileged as you tend to get a little peeved when told *repeatedly* that there isn’t a problem and that things are *fine*.

    Things are not fine and have not been even close to fine for a very long time. Have you been reading anything that ‘Tis Himself has been saying about the history involved? Just because you don’t see the problem does not make it any less real for people who have to deal with it every day.

    Check your privilege, learn about feminism and learn about intersectionality.

    Maybe atheism would have more ‘point’ if it was about social justice issues but it isn’t and you aren’t really that interested in your atheism,

    Oh hey, you promote critical thinking, except when it comes to the patriarchal structure of our society. You promote freeing yourself from the shackles of religion, but the shackles of misogyny aren’t your concern? You promote a society free from religion, but not free from the oppression of women?

    Fine.

    Your atheism is not my atheism, because without the social justice overlay atheism is a crappy deal.

  401. Dantalion says

    @Sash (422)

    “Who are you to judge bad faith?”

    Me? I’m just some f*cking guy. Didn’t realize I needed any special authority to point out the obvious.

    There’s a difference between choosing not to participate, and choosing to interfere. In my first post on this thread, I stated that while I support what A+ is trying to do, I choose not to participate. For some strange reason, I didn’t get attacked for saying that. Almost as if those saying membership is not compulsory are telling the truth.

    This isn’t with us or against us. This is with us or leave us alone.

    Saying you don’t want to be part of their club does not make you the enemy. Arguing that there are more productive ways to acheive their goals does not make you the enemy. Arguing that they should not to pursue those goals at all, does kind of put you in that camp.

    And what f*cking good is advice from your enemies?

    Your advice is not intended to help them reach their goal. Your advice is intended to help yourself reach the goal of stopping them from reaching their goal. You are trying to advise them on how to be defeated. In an environment where some have been attempting to silence A+ since long before there was any such concept as A+, your attempt to tell feminists the best way to let misogyny run rampant, is rather suspect.

    And while I’m pointing out the obvious, scientologists are not atheists in any sense beyond being members of a church and believing in the existence of a deity. And the positions I mentioned as being implied by atheism, are not positions you are required to hold. They are positions you would be wrong not to hold. You are still free to be wrong.

  402. says

    Arbourist @436

    If you are going to fire off the ‘privilege’ line at me I would prefer a trigger warning in advance.

    Oh hey, you promote critical thinking, except when it comes to the patriarchal structure of our society.

    I have never promoted critical thinking. i dislike the term almost as much as I dislike the overuse and overapplication of ‘privilege’. ‘mysogyny’ and ‘patriarchy’.

    the funny thing about your response is that it has almost no relationship to my comment at all other than to say that anything without a social justice overlay, from cosmology to sport punditry are doing things wrong.

  403. says

    @438

    I have never promoted critical thinking.

    You don’t say.

    i dislike the term almost as much as I dislike the overuse and overapplication of ‘privilege’. ‘mysogyny’ and ‘patriarchy’.

    It must be tiresome indeed listening to all those peoples problems that you don’t seem to have.

    The neat think is that you do not have to join/participate/accept *anything* about A+. Just go about your business, keep calm and carry on. People that do want to make social justice a priority along with their atheism will do the A+ thing.

  404. says

    “I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the shit that motivated people to form Atheism Plus in the first place.”

    Both are divisive, the latter in a negative only fashion, the former in a positive way, but held back by lousy public relations tactics from the start.

    It [i]seems[/i] like to me that, trollish opponents to your priorities have been labeled and branded epithetically, so you’ve picked a logo for yourselves to announce to the world how much better you all are (and any can join …as long as they buy into a particular dogma).

    Maybe it wasn’t your intent, but that’s what it [i]looks[/i] like to a lot of folks who already have a all-inclusive worldview of human-rights.

    You cannot change the out-group by being insular.

    Why not “Feminism+”? Too divisive?

  405. says

    Sally Strange @434

    I believe it will be more understandable if you assume that “atheism” means “organized efforts to combat religious privilege and promote critical thinking”

    So in other words, if I think instead that you hijacked the term ‘atheism’ yesterday I won’t be so concerned about you doing it today!

    You know, the internet is a BIG place and it is chock full of forums devoted entirely to feminism and other social justice issues. Just the kind of stuff you are interested in where you can talk with people who have the same interests and the same viewpoints. Why not use such a forum to discuss your issues?
    I just don’t understand. Would you join a car maintenance group and then, whilst bemoaning the fact that car maintenance appeals mainly to men, demand that social justice issues take centre stage? maybe announce that ‘car maintenance means promoting the maintenance of vehicles to groups that couldn’t give a crap about changing the oil themselves and would sooner go to a garage and get it done’?

    I DID mean it when I said to meg that what she discusses is probably more worthy. Let me give you a couple of recent titles of videos from my channel:
    “Why Rocks Are NOT Atheists….. ”
    “The Impossibility of Omniscience: How Donald Rumsfeld Disproves God! ”
    “Alvin Plantinga: The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism – Criticisms ”

    See what I mean? No attempts to raise the lot of anyone around the world, unlike the interests Meg has and the interests you presumably have. I wasn’t being sarcastic.

    What i find interesting about your response is that despite all the endless claims by the atheism+ mob that there is no redefining what atheism means, clearly the likes of you do not feel the same. Because “organized efforts to combat religious privilege and promote critical thinking” is NOT what ‘atheism’ means even if it is something a great many atheists DO!

  406. says

    Arbourist @439

    It must be tiresome indeed listening to all those peoples problems that you don’t seem to have.

    I don’t mind the discussions but privilege is a term used more often just to shut people up or as a tool to dismiss what they have to say than anything else. If you have a valiud argument my advice is always to make it and support it, rather than falling back on vague claims of ‘privilege’ or simply attributing every single difference experienced between men and women to ‘patriarchy’.

  407. says

    @401: Yes, I referred to Atheism+ as being the “third wave of atheism” but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to get rid of the second wave. And is it really so wrong to want to be part of a movement that doesn’t include guys telling me that they “jacked off” to my cleavage? And yes, that really happened and it’s only one of the many times I’ve been sexually objectified without my consent (cleavage ≠ CONSENT). :)

  408. says

    Noelplum99 @442

    but privilege is a term used more often just to shut people up or as a tool to dismiss what they have to say than anything else.

    Are you feeling oppressed? I’m just curious, because it kinda sounds like you might be going down the persecuted majority route here. Happens all the time with christians in the US when atheists call them on their bs.

    imply attributing every single difference experienced between men and women to ‘patriarchy’.

    Ah, now that is attributing a statement to me that I explicitly did not make. If I did, please quote so we can discuss it further. In fact, this is what I did say about patriarchy:

    Oh hey, you promote critical thinking, except when it comes to the patriarchal structure of our society.

    So, to me that seems like a fairly specific point. If you do not understand what patriarchy is then of course it all sounds vague and confusing. But you did not ask for clarification, but rather misrepresented what I said. What is further troubling is the scare-quotes around patriarchy.

    Its okay to disagree about whether patriarchy exists or not, as you are most free to be wrong, but skirting the issue and attempting to handwave it away doesn’t get you free pass.

    I don’t mind the discussions […]

    Neither do I, but if finding out what patriarchy and privilege are and how they relate to this issue is too hard, then it would seem that you’re not particularly fond of arguing honestly.

  409. 'Tis Himself says

    beerijuana #440

    Why not “Feminism+”? Too divisive?

    Because the core condition is atheism. Too difficult a concept?

  410. says

    Arbourist @444

    Are you feeling oppressed? I’m just curious, because it kinda sounds like you might be going down the persecuted majority route here. Happens all the time with christians in the US when atheists call them on their bs.

    I think this highlights the difference between us. I don’t resort to hysterial rhetoric like claims I am being oppressed. What we are talking about here is presenting arguments and I am suggesting an issue of suppression not oppression. This isn’t about me or any group you want to lump me into it is about viewpoints and whether they are countered with argument or with dismissive rhetoric.

    Its okay to disagree about whether patriarchy exists or not, as you are most free to be wrong, but skirting the issue and attempting to handwave it away doesn’t get you free pass.

    Firstly, I never ever ever ask for a free pass. Ever. I expect to be challenged online at every touch and turn. Secondly,I agree that it is okay to disagree whether our society is patriarchal but I doubt we would do that. You seem to think our society is patriarchal and so do I. Where we differ is where we go from there.

    If you do not understand what patriarchy is then of course it all sounds vague and confusing.

    What is vague and confusing is the equivocation that results when terms are used to mean a dozen different things. Shit like this doesn’t help:
    http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=394

    Anyway, my sole purpose on this thread was not to discuss feminist theory but to list and discuss the objections to atheism+. If you are interested, i have a video i am uploading tomorrow night where I give my views on patriarchy and what I see as the overapplication. Feel free to come and tear me a new one :)

  411. Skelter says

    Arbourist @444

    Your response to Noelplum99 raises some questions for me and I note you offer to provide information if requested.

    First: how can we ascertain if someone’s feelings of being oppressed/unfairly treated are genuine? Or easily dismissed as persecuted majority syndrome? Is their a way to objectively conclude this?

    Second: I’m new to A+ and it’s ideas, it’s clear to me I don’t understand patriarchy, could you explain or define it for me in a way I might easily comprehend?

    Finally on the topic of divisiveness, which of these is more so:

    a) When in discussion with others who are less knowledgeable than you, making every effort to inform them? Thereby potentially attracting them to your cause.

    b) Or, when in discussion with others who are less knowledgeable than you, pointing out their lapses in understanding? Thereby alienating them.

  412. XinXin says

    @Arbourist

    I think you’ll find that many men who are against A+ haven’t researched much feminist theory at all. They probably can’t tell you what a radical feminist is or the difference between a radical feminist and a separatist.

    I think Noel is just looking for someone to convince him of something he obviously won’t ever see ie. his privilege and patriarchy.

    It’s like a dog trying to catch its own tail. Amusing to watch for a minute but tiresome fairly quickly.

  413. says

    XinXin @448
    I have heard these non-arguments so many times:

    “If you want God to reveal Himself to you Noelplum, then you have to truly accept Him into your heart first”

    “Noelplum chooses to reject God so He can keep on sinning”

    “Noel, you need to read the holy qur’an in arabic, then you will realise why it could only have come from Allah”

    Unlike some others, at no point have I accused A+ of being like a religion, but the rhetoric you use is not just close, it is identical.

  414. hoary puccoon says

    noelplum99–

    We all get that you don’t like atheism+. You are acting, however, like the rest of us should care. That, right there, specifically, is why you’re hearing the word privilege.

    If you don’t like atheism+, don’t join. But don’t expect people to be impressed by your argument that it’s like a religion when you’re behaving like you’re the holy supreme pontiff of atheism and what it stands for. You can go on acting that way if you want to, of course. I’m just telling you why others aren’t impressed.

    (And, no, I’m not interested in debating whether you really think you’re the pope. Write it off as a bit of hyperbole, okay?)

  415. says

    Hoary puccoon @450

    Ok, i think i have got it. If someone had a grievance or complaint and expresses it, that is indicative of privilege. Presumably the bloggers such as Greta and Jen must be swimming in their own self-privilege given that they have the ‘audacity’ to expect society to listen to their complaints and maybe even DO something about them.

    Personally, i judge people’s moans on their merits, rather than spend my time thi.king of juztifications to write the individual off who is making them.

  416. says

    Hoary puccoon @450

    PS: I also love how you read me saying ‘unlike others, at no point have i accused A+ of being like a religion’ and totally twist it and accuse me of saying it IS like a religion! I couldn’t be any more explicit, i only laid my accusation at the feet of Xinxin, so quite how you could say i was likening A+ to a religion other than bwcause you a cynical misleading individual i cannot imagine.

  417. Hobbes says

    It strikes me that the critics of atheism+ use exactly the same arguments and tactics as the critics of atheism do.

  418. 'Tis Himself says

    noelplum99 #451

    So we can include privilege among the numerous topics you’re ignorant of.

  419. says

    ‘Tis Himself @455

    I would do, it clearly serves your goals

    The problem is this. Let us assume that I am the most overprivileged individual ever to grace these blogs, accruing all the benefits you assert goes with that. Let us also assume i am utterly ignorant of my status and the benefits if confers. Even if we accept all that:
    1 why is the registering of an issue indicative of privilege purely on the grounds that i have raised it, when all gumans of all statuses raise issues all the time?
    2 why have the attitude ‘why should we care what you think?’. You hold me in clear contempt for being privileged yet i never dismiss anyone’s concerns in this way. I DO care what people think; I do care what you folks think. Why wouldn’t I?

    Maybe it is a sign of some kind of localised privilege on your side that you have gotten away with such a horribly skewed and one-sided approach to addressing people and issues. The mantra ‘if they are not OUR issues they are not issues may impress one another in your cossetted little self-affirming coccoon but it looks weeak and really really pathetic from where I am standing (not that you care, you only expect others to care about your opinions, not the other way round)

    Jim (noelplum99)

  420. Skelter says

    ‘Tis Himself @451

    “noelplum99 #451

    So we can include privilege among the numerous topics you’re ignorant of.”

    I’m curious what you base this assertion -intended as insult- on?

    We are all privileged to some degree and, it is honestly recognizing our own privilege that informs our ability to tackle social justice issues. Using ‘privilege’ as a pejorative to devalue others is to fail in this regard. It also smacks of projection.

    I have great privilege. On a global scale I am right at the top, indistinguishable from you or noelplum99. On the scale of the western world I am very close to the bottom of the scale.

    Yet I still recognize my privilege: I have a warm place to live, I have enough medium term cash to afford utilities and broadband, enough short term cash to eat almost every day.

    I wonder if you can be so honest about your privilege? I wonder if you recognize that you are using your own privilege to demean those who do not share it?

    What privilege?! You no doubt bluster. This:

    You are privileged enough to be a member of this group in which you feel safe to say what you feel. You use this position of localized support/power/advantage/privilege to score cheap points over those you don’t take a shine to. Doing this makes you look like a cowardly privileged bully to me.

    You might say ‘check your privilege’.

    I say, have a little humility.

  421. hoary puccoon says

    noelplum99–

    If someone who has a grievance expresses it over and over and OVER again; doesn’t consider anything anyone says in response except to come back with a counter claim; doesn’t simply agree to disagree; and expects everyone else to be patient while he or she just keeps bearing down on the same, boring point; yes, that is privilege.

    We all get that you don’t like atheism+. Do you understand that you don’t get any vote in whether it goes forward? You can opt in, or you can opt out. Those are your choices. You don’t have the power to stop it, and you are spinning your wheels and wasting everyone’s time arguing about it.

    You may respond to me in any way you see fit, of course. But I personally won’t be checking back. So, in conclusion– Dear Sir or Madam, You just might be right about that.

  422. Silentbob says

    @ 443 Jen

    And is it really so wrong to want to be part of a movement that doesn’t include guys telling me that they “jacked off” to my cleavage? And yes, that really happened and it’s only one of the many times I’ve been sexually objectified without my consent

    I know this isn’t meant to be funny, but the “without my consent” bit cracked me up. I can’t help imagining what Jen was expecting:

    Dear Jen,
    I saw a photograph of you today revealing ample cleavage. I became quite aroused. I am writing to ask if you would mind very much if I masturbated while looking at this picture. If you would be so good as to give your consent I would be very much obliged. Please reply at your earliest convenience.
    Warm Regards,
    Random Pervert

  423. says

    I know this isn’t meant to be funny, but the “without my consent” bit cracked me up. I can’t help imagining what Jen was expecting:

    This is a good example of the differences in reactions when it comes to sexism. This isn’t direct harassment, but it is one of those reactions that simply rubs salt into the wound; laughing at someone for being upset over harassment.

    For Jen it’s stressful and likely insulting to be told that someone objectified her and used a picture of her that just showed cleavage for sexual gratification.

    For Silentbob it’s a source of amusement that she would expect to not be harassed.

  424. says

    @459: I get what you’re saying but I wasn’t saying that guys who are going to do that should ask for my consent. I can’t control what they do but if they decide to do that, there’s no need to tell me about it.

    @460: No, the actual act isn’t insulting (it’s flattering, actually) but yes, I don’t need to know when any guy does that. That’s what I meant by being sexually objectified…Someone deliberately telling me that they “jacked off” in order to slut-shame me. As for the actual masturbating, my feelings are mixed on that. On one hand, the pictures of my cleavage on Google Images are from Boobquake and were NOT meant to be sexual (call it “scientific cleavage”). On the other hand, it’s still flattering and it’s what I would call a “rude compliment.” :p

  425. says

    @Skelter 447 –

    First: how can we ascertain if someone’s feelings of being oppressed/unfairly treated are genuine? Or easily dismissed as persecuted majority syndrome? Is their a way to objectively conclude this?

    In neoplum’s case it would be difficult to ascertain, precisely why I was asking the question. Because the way the conversations was going, I was seeing a similarity between conversations I’ve had with people, who are the dominant group at the top of the power gradient in society claiming to be oppressed by groups with lower status and less power in society. Cases of “reverse-discrimination” so to speak.

    Second: I’m new to A+ and it’s ideas, it’s clear to me I don’t understand patriarchy, could you explain or define it for me in a way I might easily comprehend?

    From Finally A Feminism 101 Blog – “Patriarchy is one form of social stratification via a power/dominance hierarchy – an ancient and ongoing social system based on traditions of elitism (a ranking of inferiorities) and its privileges. Societies can be (and usually are) patriarchal, oligarchal and plutocratic all at the same time, complicated by current and/or legacy features of sectarianism, imperialism and colonialism, so the gender hierarchy is only one source of social disparity.”

    I am curious though, why you are asking for explanations of easy to google information? Also, as noted and linked in the Greta’s post there is a link to the A+ FAQ.

    Finally on the topic of divisiveness, which of these is more so:

    Neither. It depends on the person who is asking.

    It would be nice if people were persuaded by gentle rational argumentation to see what is going on.

    Usually, nice arguments don’t work, because of the built in durability/assumed infallibility of concepts and ideals that have been deemed the status-quo in society.

    When people are ready to charitably understand and process arguments against the status quo, only then can the learning begin.

  426. Skelter says

    hoary puccoon @458

    “If someone who has a grievance expresses it over and over and OVER again; doesn’t consider anything anyone says in response except to come back with a counter claim; doesn’t simply agree to disagree; and expects everyone else to be patient while he or she just keeps bearing down on the same, boring point; yes, that is privilege.”

    You are confusing rights with privilege.
    People are exercising their right to comment and question on a public forum about ideas that have been placed in the public domain. The only privilege being exercised is continuing to do so without being bopped by the ban hammer. Same privilege as you.

    If someone asks a question and does not find the answer meets their needs, should they just shut up? Would you?

    If you are bored with the same question being asked again and again and AGAIN, you are free to ignore the questioner. Or you could apply some skepticism to the answers you give and modify or expand in order to help people understand.

    I strongly disagree with the sentiment ‘simply agree to disagree’ it’s an oxymoron or sumink. You can ‘agree to differ’ but, by it’s very nature, there can be no agreement if you disagree. From such discussion is born. Would you agree to disagree with a racist? Course not, nor would I. You’d keep at it in the hope of making them see sense. Wouldn’t you?

    Attitudes like yours are what give the impression of divisiveness to many. You could make more of an effort to explain your position, bring detractors to your point of view by calm reasoned debate. Instead you try to shame or bully detractors into silence. This reflects negatively on you and by extension your movement.

  427. says

    noelplum99 @444

    I think this highlights the difference between us. I don’t resort to hysterial rhetoric like claims I am being oppressed.

    Oppression happens whether you see it or not.

    Did you detect any hysteria in my post? I’m curious because you earlier you opined words like patriarchy, privilege and misogyny were used to “shut people up or as a tool to dismiss what they have say (quote from you #442)”

    Calling arguments “hysterical” is a well worn misogynistic chestnut for dismissing arguments, usually because the person making the argument was female.

    I suggest you take your own advice when arguing.

    What is vague and confusing is the equivocation that results when terms are used to mean a dozen different things.

    Are you suggesting that because learning about a complex theory is *hard* it is therefore a bad thing or not worth your time?

    It sounds like you have not done all of your homework and are basing your criticisms