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Jun 27 2012

Mission Creep

One of the main complaints we’ve seen recently about our ongoing conversation with regard to sexism in the skeptical and atheist communities, is one about mission creep — that we’re a community defined by our common ground, e.g. atheism/skepticism, and we shouldn’t try to hash out other differences about other things.

I couldn’t agree less.

napkin that reads 'The napkin religion is the one true religion because it says so right here on this napkin'

I rejected this religion too.

When I was growing up, I believed in some of the usual stuff — UFOs, bigfoot, psychic powers, what-have-you. I started to question religion early, on realizing all the religions cancelling each other out, as there were so many of them and they all couldn’t be true, despite attempts by some theists to say “many paths, one God” — but they COULD all be FALSE. And from the starting point that a lot of people believed in a god that I was pretty sure didn’t exist, I figured out that there were probably a lot of other beliefs, including ones I had, that weren’t true.

I came to skepticism quite some time later, though the seeds were planted with my nascent atheism. I spent a short period of time believing in karma, because it fulfilled the cognitive processes that bias us to believe in a “just world”. When I figured out that often bad people are rewarded, and good people are punished, I realized karma wouldn’t work in this universe since I’d already disposed of a deity in my epistemology. So I also discarded karma, and was left with something like cynicism. Cynicism, and a deep and abiding respect for science, as it actually produced demonstrable results to “show its work”.

Only I was also an optimist, despite having a rather cynical view on how the world is. I raged about things that pissed me off, and they pissed me off because I believed that justice should be served in this world, and that it wouldn’t if we all did nothing about it.

Man with bowtie meme reading 'I have the privilege of being totally unaware of my own privilege'

Tucker Carlson as the Privilege Denying Dude meme. From Meme Generator

Eventually I came to a realization that to fight for justice was to fight for everyone’s justice, especially for those who exist on the fringes of society. In university, I took a course called “Social Deviance” in my minor in anthropology (focus sociology). Whereas to that point I had effectively figured that all drug users were horrible people and/or victims of money-hungry dealers, I learned that there were whole matrices of reasons that people might engage in a counterculture, even ones that involved altering one’s own mental state. Thus another meme drummed into me by society crumbled. I also took a women’s literature course and learned a good deal about male privilege as a result, though without the name “privilege” yet being introduced to me. This prompted me to take a women’s studies course, which mostly educated me in how women’s rights intersected with a number of other fights for equality, including black and gay rights. And I realized all of them heavily intersected with religious ideologies. To that point, though I had previously read the Bible when I deconverted myself when I was 13 — King James, though I was Catholic originally — I ended up reading it again explicitly to see all the ways that my former religion implicitly and explicitly denigrated, devalued and objectively harmed women.

And then, shortly thereafter, it hit me that I had just come full circle.

All of these things intersected, not just the ones I saw bumping up against religion. Women, gays, racism, religion, bigotry, ableism, ageism, gender, atheism, skepticism, all interconnected and interlocked such that you for all intents and purposes can’t talk about one in total isolation without mentioning one of the others.

I became an egalitarian — I wanted everyone to have the same right to be, to have the same rights as everyone else, and to not face subtle or overt tilts in the playing field at the hands of anyone else. It was the only just way to do things. I wanted everyone to have the right to believe whatever they want, as long as it didn’t inform their decisions to tilt that field in their favor intentionally. That quickly became insufficient though. Simply demanding egalitarianism was advocating the status quo, when there were already so many tilts to this playing field that wouldn’t be corrected if left unchallenged.

I was an atheist, and could hardly speak about my beliefs without being absolutely certain to offend someone, even when there was only one other person in the room. I recognized that as a tilt to my playing field. I could project this tilt onto what I perceived to be imbalances against gays, though I recognized that gays were way, WAY more likely to end up beaten and tied to a fence. The news of Matthew Shepard was formative to my present philosophies — especially the hateful Westboro Baptists protesting his funeral. I could further project my impressions of my own axis’ tilt onto women’s lot in life, and onto blacks and other minority races in my country, and onto the poor who are seldom poor as a result of their own behaviour, and onto drug addicts. And onto transsexuals in whom I recognized a desperate psychological catch-22 where many either had to live with the cognitive dissonance of being “in the wrong body” e.g. assigned a physical sex that wasn’t theirs by the genetic lottery, or elect to transition via surgery or other medical means and end up shunned — and even still, preyed upon by alt-med practitioners. And onto the business world, where the gap between the rich and the poor, which is supposed to drive capitalism and maintain a working class that’s happy and healthy, keeps getting larger and larger to the point where the economy suffers because the working class are all working-poor, and the rich have the money to buy politicians to help them get richer regardless.

And all of these issues intersect, forming a vast landscape with tilts for and against any individual person on so many axes it can be difficult to track. For women’s axis, this is patriarchy, with cultural norms self-propagating the memes that kept women for the most part subservient to men even where they gained so much ground. If you include all of these tilts for all of the axes, a term for the interlocking structures that keep the field tilted such is kyriarchy (though some debate the usefulness of this word and just use “oppression” or the even more general “power structures”).

And here I am, in movement atheism, where we often confront the religious folks’ religiously-motivated bigotries against women and gays and transsexuals and even the poor (if you can believe it), and their utter hatred of us Godless heathens to top it all off. And we can’t effectively rail against them for something they’re doing that’s horrible and inhumane when we’re engaged in the same practice. Hell, there’s even a Bible quote for that, about looking to the plank in your own eye before pointing out the mote in your neighbor’s. So while we’re telling the religious that their bigotries against women are horrible, we’re sending a message to women that “hey, we got’cher back”. If we’ve only got their back so we can put their asses in better reach, that is a problem.

And that’s why we’re having this harassment fight. Because everything intersects, and we are BETTER THAN OUR CURRENT BEHAVIOUR.

Or at least we should be.

What’s more, it seems every other social justice cause has over time evolved convergently toward this point. Feminism and black liberation movements converged, became allied, intermingled and grew stronger for it. Third wave feminism explicitly incorporated many elements of the fight against racial bigotry, as well as anti-LGBTQ bigotry, as well as postmodernism as a sort of counter to the embrace of the gender binary and spirituality (both dogmatic social constructs) that came in the second wave. And while postmodernism is generally ugh, if you divorce it from the “ways of knowing” nonsense that apologize for woo and religion as Natalie Reed has, it certainly merits incorporating, especially when combined with skepticism. Fourth wave feminism (which I contend we’re in now) apparently attempts to incorporate skepticism and scientific rationality in its efforts to excise the bigotries still inherent in its present form, which helps to counter the postmodernism. There are branches of feminism that are about misandry and cis-superiority, but they’re as odious to us as the religious — they are certainly the fringe, and the source of all the Straw Feminist memes used to beat us feminists down. Feminism should have already evolved beyond those philosophies, and to see such atavistic behaviour is often disturbing.

Skepticism itself is a social justice movement, fighting “woo-peddlers” who take advantage of those prone to cognitive biases or irrational magical thinking by exposing bunkum that’s dangerous either financially or mentally or physically. And once you’re a skeptic, applying that skepticism to religion most often leads to atheism (or a sacred untouchable magisterium where your skepticism dare not go, often jammed into the tiniest of gaps). Skepticism of gender roles, inculcated since birth and impressed on us through society, leads to questioning the gender binary, with each society’s gender roles being subtly different exactly like the different religions’ subtleties that led me to question religion. I realized society had constructed gender around the seed of sex, just like it had constructed religion around the seed of wonderment at the layout of the universe. Seeing blatant sexism in our movement today reflects that same sort of behaviour I would like to make atavistic.

And like in my story, atheism leads to questioning the religiously motivated bigotries. Those bigotries are aimed at certain other groups that are underprivileged in society, because religion surely does love punching down. And questioning the reasoning behind those bigotries leads you to general skepticism about all things, which reinforces the sense that there are other social justice issues that might need your attention. As you incorporate each of these, you evolve toward a general humanism, an integration of the thought that humans deserve basic dignity, and that there are structures in place (of which religion is one, magical thinking another) which take advantage of our brain’s bugs and reinforce those unjust tilts to the playing field.

Star Trek: Kirk and Uhura kiss

NBC tried to make Star Trek do an alternate take that didn’t include this kiss for fear of enraging people in the Deep South, but William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols intentionally messed up every single take of that alternate. All for a simple (and still problematic) interracial kiss on television.

Every social justice issue intersects, overlaps, informs and is inextricable from every other social justice issue, once you get to the nub of it. If you’re down with one, you should be down with them all. And these problems won’t fix themselves. They won’t go away if left unchallenged.

That’s what we’re seeing in movement atheism today with this current harassment policy debacle, and all the pushback it entails. A bunch of atheists and skeptics who are unwilling to question their privilege to assert dominance over women, to put aside their desire to get sex via pick-up-artist tactics (e.g. becoming a serial lech and general creepazoid). If we want women in this movement, to help inform us of other points of view and round out our ability to help people recover from religion or other (similar) bullshit, then we have to do something to stop the privilege tilt that’s given them the impression that movement atheism is a chilly climate because they keep getting harassed and shouted down and ignored. We have to fix that climate.

While we’re carving out a safe space for women, we do the same for gays, and trans folk, and minority races, and all other walks of life. All simultaneously, if we can manage it. Our mission is creeping because we’re growing and evolving.

And that’s a damn good thing. Natural selection shows us that that we ought to evolve or die.

You’d think we scientists and rationalists and atheists would get that!

34 comments

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  1. 1
    A Hermit

    I can’t decide between the slow clap and jumping up to cheer…well said.

  2. 2
    karmakin

    I’d go a step further myself. I don’t care about Bigfoot. I don’t care about UFO’s. Psychics, yeah, but that’s because they con people.

    I also don’t really care about Deists or Pantheists (Other than them using Strong Theistic (meaning belief in a materialistic interventionistic deity) language, as that gives social power to people to believe that dangerous crap. If Liberal/Progressive Christians actively promoted their deistic/pantheistic beliefs and cut out the Strong Theistic language I think that they would on the whole be good for the world. I’m not a believer in strict rationality. I do not believe that harmless irrational beliefs lead to harmful irrational beliefs, necessarily.

    That stuff is for the most part, Not Important.

    What is important? Denial of privilege and power differentials. Denial of systematic changes to the environment AKA climate change. An over reliance on old, out of date theoretical models over actual real-world evidence. The “Just World” fallacy.

    Those are the reasons why I’m “political”.

  3. 3
    Onamission5

    *hugs this post in joy*

    With the post’s permission, of course. ;)

    I was trying to explain to my spouse last night the reasons for all my tsking and head shaking of late, and it boggled his mind. “But.. but..” he said, and then, “What’s wrong with people, that they can’t understand, making an environment comfortable and welcoming for as many as possible works in everyone’s favor?” (paraphrased) I wouldn’t say he’s the most up to speed person in regard to terminology or social issues, but it’s still obvious to him that life isn’t lived in a series of vacuums where no one ever affects anyone else with anything they do or say. That sometimes some people have a harder time of things, and it’s our personal responsibility as fellow people not to make their hardship worse, to be aware that we might, and to stop when it’s pointed out to us, make sure we understand, then pass the message along to others.

    I really don’t think that is too much to ask.

  4. 4
    Scr... Archivist

    A few years ago, the Globe and Mail had an article about why church attendance has declined so much in Canada. It suggests that one under-reported factor was the alienation of women from the church in the 1960′s and ’70′s. They stopped going, and (very importantly) they stopped bringing their kids.

    http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071222.wcoessay1222/business/Business/Business/

    Throughout this whole debate I’ve thought about this article. It makes me wonder at the atheists who don’t want to make our spaces welcoming to women. The old-boys are not only morally wrong and socially unjust, they’re strategically self-defeating.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    karmakin: aside from the foothold situation that believing in some woo presents, where you’re more likely to believe in other woo (e.g. Crank Magnetism), I think we largely agree. Especially on what’s most important, and what’s far less important.

    Onamission5: hang on, let me check.

    Yeah, post has no problem with hugs. Hug away.

  6. 6
    Celeste

    The more I hear about anthropology, the more I think I should take some courses in it. This was a fascinating post. Thank you!

  7. 7
    karmakin

    Yeah, I’m not convinced that’s really the case (I’m not sure if one type of woo is desensitizing to other types of woo), or at least it’s not reason enough to focus on this stuff, but thinking that strict rationality may not be correct isn’t the hill that I’m going to die on, so to speak. It’s not that it’s something where I’m sure I’m 100% correct. It’s about a 60/40 call. I just can’t get up in arms about harmless (in itself) woo.

  8. 8
    HP

    The thing that never fails to astonish me is that when self-described “skeptics” (who have generally earned their reputations through brilliant debunkings of various woo-claims) are confronted with their own sexism, their first impulse is to respond with unfounded opinion, anecdotal evidence, confirmation bias, deflection, etc., etc., etc.

    If a certain argumentative style is not a defense of Creationism, how can it possibly be justified in defense of misogyny?

  9. 9
    Natalie Reed

    I prefer to think of Fourth Wave as something some of us are trying to build. The skepticism is very important, but the intersectionality more so (and things like doing away with feminism’s stubborn mistreatment of sex workers, trans people, femmes and others, and stubborn prioritization of issues that effect white/cis/middle-class women at the expense of other issues). And I think of the skepticism stuff as basically being there in service of the intersectionality stuff… so that certain fashionable theories aren’t adhered to unquestioningly to the point that the real harm and real consequences they have for real people goes ignored. But the reason a Fourth Wave is a necessary response is very much precisely because it hasn’t simply come about on it’s own. It’s something we need to create because feminism has hit up against a certain wall it just can’t seem to get past, with the “controveries” surrounding sex work and transgenderism and Buterlian social constructivism as very good examples. It’s not something I’d personally have any interest in, except that it’s demanded by the circumstances. As a radical revision of certain key tenets, however, it requires a radical break, one that demands effort and time and discussion and a lot of dodgy, wobbly first steps in its infancy (and we’ll probably fall down a bunch of times before we learn to walk). If it were as easy as a natural development from third wave, occurring without any distinct efforts to build it, it wouldn’t really require the “renaming” and creation of a “new feminism”. So… sort of by definition Fourth Wave isn’t where we ARE, it’s where we should be trying to GET.

  10. 10
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    This is absolutely wonderful. Three cheers, chocolate & confetti. :)

  11. 11
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I prefer to think of Fourth Wave as something some of us are trying to build. The skepticism is very important, but the intersectionality more so (and things like doing away with feminism’s stubborn mistreatment of sex workers, trans people, femmes and others, and stubborn prioritization of issues that effect white/cis/middle-class women at the expense of other issues)

    THIS!!!! Eleven billionty times THIS!!!

  12. 12
    smhll

    The thing that never fails to astonish me is that when self-described “skeptics” (who have generally earned their reputations through brilliant debunkings of various woo-claims) are confronted with their own sexism, their first impulse is to respond with unfounded opinion, anecdotal evidence, confirmation bias, deflection, etc., etc., etc.

    Yes, this. Plus a helping of – if I am not aware of the problem, then it does not exist (or must be very scarce). Along with, if the problem doesn’t bother me, then it must not be important. Plus a big helping of ‘common sense’ masquerading as ‘thought’.

    (Oh the shallow , it burns.)

  13. 13
    Ron Strong

    I am not comfortable with the idea that you have to subscribe to any particular set of politics or you’re not a true atheist/skeptic. Largely because politics is mostly a matter of personal ideaology and opinions and skepticism/atheism deal in facts. If a factual claim is made about a “social justice” matter (i.e. if some bozo claims that ‘Blacks are less intelligent than whites’ or ‘Gays have a big conspiracy to take over the government’) then by all means rip it apart with all the aplomb that one would rip apart a claim of a UFO or bigfoot sighting. But I am not comfortable saying or even implying that someone is less of a “skeptic’ than me because he doesn’t share my politics.

  14. 14
    samoanbiscuit

    This post is full of WIN! Awesome and insightful as usual!

  15. 15
    Matt E

    Awesome post, Jason. I really relate to your progression in the understanding of woo and privilege and oppression. Very well said.

  16. 16
    John Horstman

    Very well put, Jason.

    @9: I’m always shocked to hear about how others encounter these kinds of lingering biases under the guise of feminism, because my entire history of engagement through Women’s Studies (since 2005 – before that I was a Second-Wavey Liberal Feminist with a conception of universalized privilege as the ideal, not yet realizing it was impossible) has been with an inclusive form (with the studies of intersectionalities as a central feature) that considered itself Third Wave, in response to lingering cis hetero White bias from the Second Wave (which were, of course, already being challenged and dismantled smack in the middle of the Second Wave). I’m in agreement, though, that the central project is now building the Fourth Wave, mainly because the Third seemed/seems to me to have heavily bought into the neo-Liberal framework and an extremist form of relativism (women cannot ever contribute to gender-based oppression directed against women – anything they’re doing to get along is okay), with empowerment for the individual coming at the expense of any ability to critique individual behavior as problematic (ironically, I think this strips people of agency by implying that they don’t have the ability to resist, subvert, or otherwise work against extant social structures, which undermines the entire mission of feminism).

    This might also be a problem of perspective i.e. academic feminism versus feminism on the streets (though I try to apply my academic model to everyday life – to me, that’s the whole point, and I’ve never understood people who can/do draw a distinction between theory and practice; to me, it’s all praxis).

    @13: The claim isn’t that you have to subscribe to a particular set of politics, the claim is that if you’re doing skepticism right, you wind up with a particular set of politics through reasoned analysis of society as it presently exists. For example, Libertarianism is incompatible with skepticism (unless one explicitly doesn’t care about equality of opportunity or outcome) because it denies that privilege exists, though we can prove (and have!) that it does. Now, if you’re arguing from a different set of ethical premises (e.g. equality of opportunity is bad and here’s why), you might be able to make a genuine argument for Libertarianism, but because doing so means consciously defending socially-maligned positions like overt and obvious racism or sexism, few(ish) people are willing to go there. Politics is not a matter of ‘personal ideology’; at least, it shouldn’t be, when approached from a skeptical, evidence-based framework. At its most basic, politics is about how we organize power distribution and relationships between people. There are objectively better answers to the question of how to achieve ends upon which we agree in any given context. Sometimes the problem is that we don’t agree on the ends, in which case we’re at an impasse of sorts, though sometimes one perspective or another can convince a lot of people that some ends are preferable to others. But describing political perspective as personal ideology, while accurate, isn’t a description of why we can’t deal with it skeptically, it’s a description of why we need to do so.

  17. 17
    Brad

    We do still need to care about the loch ness monster and all that bullshit because the “accelerated christian education” jackasses are claiming it’s real and are using nessie as an argument against evolution.

    That supposedly rational people come to conclusions other than the equal rights of everybody baffles me. All “atheist” on its own can tell you is that the person doesn’t believe in god, so we get Ayn Rand; but surely “skeptic” says more about a person than doesn’t believe in bigfoot, ufo’s, etc.

  18. 18
    John Morales

    Brad:

    All “atheist” on its own can tell you is that the person doesn’t believe in god, so we get Ayn Rand; but surely “skeptic” says more about a person than doesn’t believe in bigfoot, ufo’s, etc.

    Sure; it should imply that no skeptic is a theist, since goddism is such an unskeptical belief.

    (It doesn’t)

  19. 19
    A Hermit

    Crommunist has more here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/06/27/we-cant-opt-out/

  20. 20
    Jadehawk

    Largely because politics is mostly a matter of personal ideaology and opinions and skepticism/atheism deal in facts.

    I know some skeptics who also feel that atheism is a matter of ideology and opinion. wanna sit in the “don’t touch my woo, it’s personal!” corner with them and exchange stories, while the rest of us try to form reality-based political conclusions?

  21. 21
    klem

    Yea, it amazes me that gays only recently have the ability to get married in Canada. And progressive places like California still deny them that right. There is nothing in either consitution which says that gays can’t be married, or that whites, Catholics, atheists, or any other people can’t be married. If a person is a citizen of the country, they have all of thier rights.

    How is denying marriage to a particular group constitutional in either country?

    I hope the gay community sues both countries for billions in restitution, one state at a time, one province at a time.

  22. 22
    anonatheist

    This is bs. The reason why you are addressing sexism within the atheist community is because you are losing the war against it outside. The 30th state in a row now banned gay marriage. Some states made abortion nearly unavailable. States have implemented state sanctioned rape via virginal ultrasound and the list goes on and on. If Mitt Romney wins the next election it is not going to be despite the women’s vote but because of it. A female bisexual atheist blogger converts to Catholicism and you are too afraid to even mention it.

    The reality is you are losing the battles in the war on women. And to keep up the charade to hide your failure you pretend that sexism and sexual harassment is such an urgent and rampant problem in the community.

  23. 23
    baal

    “Simply demanding egalitarianism was advocating the status quo”

    I generally agree with this post. Atheism doesn’t necessarily entail leftist politics but so much of the politics of the current US political right is anti-reality and pro-harm to anyone who is not a wealthy-male-cis WASP that if you’re in the least skeptical and want atheists to not get blasted in with the rest, you need to at least be anti-political right out of enlightened self interest.

    I never viewed (still don’t) egalitarianism as requiring support for the status quo. Although, I do see it portrayed that way in the organized Secular Humanism (old school) movement (at least the parts that are also accomodationalist.

    I also see that you’re making an argument parallel to the problem of ‘colorblindness’. Go forward nicey-nice for everyone overlooks the current circumstances (I’m still and perpetually hung up on the criminal justice system; it’s completely broken with critical levels of injustice to African Americans in particular. Worse, the efforts to try to fix it haven’t made much of a dent outside of certain localized situations).

    The problem I’m having is that when it comes down to particulars and narrow instances, I feel that (no i’m not going to back this up, ignore me for want of evidence if you like but it does exist) you personally run afoul using bullying to enforce your views and to push against your perception of the status quo. I think you have blinders on with regard dissenters. They all tend to get similar treatment or categorized into the “ok to hate” bin and you put them there with some rapidity.

    I think my comment is somewhat out of line (but not entirely since I did bother to make it) since you and others who advocate for feminism are specifically targeted for enhanced trolling and abuse. I think this, very naturally and very humanly, makes you overly in a binary mode – in bush the lesser’s words, if you’re not with us, you’re agin’ us. There is so much ugly noise that a small sour note sounds like part of the cacophony.

    I’m not a pacifist but near to that position. I think hate and bullying is ok (violence generally) – but only when you have a clearly articulate reason to do so and at least some amount of other options are considered first. Doing otherwise comes off as emotional masturbation (correcting others turns on the brain’s reward system – particularly in authoritarian persons but others as well) and doesn’t help the total circumstance.

  24. 24
    Smhlle

    @baal

    It’s probably going to be useful here to figure out where the line is between bullying and strong disagreement. I admit that when strong disagreement is repeated by eight or more people, it can feel like a “pile on” and violate the norms of social chat. However, I would argue that the rules that govern debate allow for more friction and heat than the guidelines that apply to casual conversation.

  25. 25
    karmakin

    @John: My way of looking at it is that there are basically two fundamental worldviews conflicting here. A cooperative worldview vs. a competitive worldview. The latter would, of course, see privilege and power differentials as a feature, and not a bug.

    In the end expecting the two world views to ever be able to “play nice” is probably not being realistic.

  26. 26
    baal

    @Smhlle

    The bullies are consistent in their lack of discrimination and overusing emotive expressions of displeasure. For example, it’s rare when a minor deviant doesn’t get at least 1 condescending version of “there there dear, it’s not about you it’s about your offending us.” It’s disingenuous on it’s face and serves no purpose other than to inflict negative emotions on the deviant.

    Also, I do understand that comments sections are for debate and you get what’s there (assumption of the risk argument from you). That doesn’t mean there isn’t better debate possible or that all attendees are actually debating rather than getting their moral indignation on and waxing it for all it’s worth.

    I can’t know why someone chooses a certain expression but I am calling on them to check for themselves and if they are being brutal for the sake of being brutal. About every week I see a different nym express the same ideas that I am here. Every week I see them give up. (As I will soon, for two reasons. One, I don’t like to repeat myself and I’m sure I’m wearing thin my welcome. Two, I fully expect that another nym will naively try it again. I don’t have such an ego that I feel that I have to be the one trying every time. I’ve mostly said my bit and will likely confine my comments to spaces and threads on FTB that value reasons in addition to emotional ones.)

    Conversely, the ‘brutalists’ (for lack of a better term) should also follow your advice and see that the non – 100% compliant posts are part of the discussion and not seek to drum them out of existence.

    I suppose I should admit to a privilege. I’m apparently imposing in person despite being several inches short of 6 feet. I essentially never* get abuse or harassment in person and expect the same on line (within the limits of the medium).

    (*there was a rl bully a few years ago…that’s a very different story)

  27. 27
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Well…

    It is really only “mission creep” if you’re some form of bigot/sociopath/cretin. Otherwise, what is skepticism for? Because if all it is for is feeling smarter and of a higher status than people who believe in UFOs and Bigfoot, then it isn’t really particularly useful or commendable.

    And “politics is about opinion”? That’s a pretty sizable load of sour owl poop. Politics is about OUTCOMES. What outcome you think is best is a matter of opinion, I suppose. But once you claim that Policy A will result in Outcome B, you’ve made a testable claim that we can apply skepticism to. And if a political ideology claims to be seeking an outcome, and their policies have been demonstrated to lead to other outcomes or closer to the opposite of claimed outcome, then you CANNOT be a skeptic and belong to that political party. If you think that children dying because their parents can’t afford good food and proper healthcare for them is preferable to running deficits, then you’re a sociopath but you can still be a skeptic. If you believe that your policies will lead to preventing childhood deaths and lower deficits, and all the evidence points to the opposite outcome, you may or may not be a sociopath, but you’re certainly not a skeptic.

  28. 28
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Crap… italics fail.

  29. 29
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Excellent post, Jason.

    @baal Your concern is noted.

    @anonatheist Your logic, as usual, is mind blowing.

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    Improbable Joe: fixed it.

    baal: I created a post specifically for people who don’t know what’s going on and want to jump into the middle of a two-month campaign that makes up part of a years-long war. If newbies are being bitten unnecessarily, I pity them, but at the same time, they shouldn’t have dropped their comment at all if they were so ignorant as to completely fail to see how wrong they were. And tempers are extremely frayed, where we’ve been under concerted attack for so long. Newbies in these situations WILL get bit, and while it’s sad, it’s nothing to stop our fight over. This is too important. The prejudice and privilege that’s so entrenched that it causes all the bomb-tossing, is a bigger problem than newbies taking unnecessary and minor scratches.

  31. 31
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Thanks Jason!

    If this “baal” is the same one posting elsewhere on FtB, then they should know a little better. The comment from baal about “color-blindness” is pretty good, since it was actually my first thought on the subject. Anyone claiming to be above the fray when their community is eyeball-deep in it, is really taking sides with the defenders of the status-quo. When people say “I don’t see color” what they mean is “racism doesn’t impinge on me and my freedom and day to day life.” Their passivity is tacit approval of racism as long as the racism happens out of their sight.

  32. 32
    rusty

    FTB used to be such a nice place it visit. But lately it seems to have been taken over by a bunch of squabbling children.

  33. 33
    Jason Thibeault

    And did you have anything to say about the post, rusty?

  34. 34
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Wonderful post, Jason.

  1. 35
    A Note On FreeThoughtBlogs. « What I learn…and do

    [...] Pompous Prickery [...]

  2. 36
    Guest Post: The Nature of Privilege | Dispatches from the Culture Wars

    [...] technical aspects of intersectionality and make a long post even longer, I’ll point you to Jason Thibeault’s excellent post on the subject, as well as one of the classic works on privilege by Peggy [...]

  3. 37
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    [...] technical aspects of intersectionality and make a long post even longer, I’ll point you to Jason Thibeault’s excellent post on the subject, as well as one of the classic works on privilege by Peggy [...]

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    [...] skepticism and atheism in a meaningful way. And the conclusion I keep coming to, since at least my essay called Mission Creep, is that we need to deepen the rifts between those of us who care about social justice and those of [...]

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    Privilege for Atheists: An Introductory Guide « Considered Exclamations

    [...] technical aspects of intersectionality and make a long post even longer, I’ll point you to Jason Thibeault’s excellent post on the subject, as well as one of the classic works on privilege by Peggy [...]

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    [...] wrote an essay called Mission Creep not too long ago, wherein I detailed my own journey into, through and beyond atheism. I kind of [...]

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    [...] talk about privilege. In the US, generally speaking, white, Christian, heterosexual, non-disabled, middle-to-upper class, cis-men hold the most privilege, and anyone falling into any of those categories holds some. If [...]

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    [...] how I became a feminist through atheism, as I’ve described previously? Well, this is a prime example of religiously-motivated gross injustice, right here, and religion [...]

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