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Sep 11 2012

Atheism+

I am slightly embarrassed to say that I only found out about Jen McCreight’s Atheism Plus yesterday when someone Tweeted to ask me for my position on it. And so I had to do a search to find out more. [I must confess that I am a terrible blogger in the sense that I don’t usually follow many of the important debates taking place and don’t respond in as timely a manner as I should.]

There is of course much to say about this new wave of atheism but  suffice it to say  that I support Atheism+ unequivocally.

I personally don’t see it as a backlash against New Atheism or divisive in any way. In my opinion it is first and foremost a recognition of the fact that for many atheists – like myself – our atheism is intrinsically linked to issues of social justice.

The very vocal opposition to this very good idea is merely a confirmation of its importance, and when the dust settles, I do strongly believe that atheism and the various social justice movements will be the stronger for it.

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  1. 1
    Peter Ferguson

    I will not comment on the values of Atheism+ as I do not have an issue with them and I have been promulgating them for many years as a Humanist. However, I do not support, (that does not mean I am against) Atheism+ for several other reasons which I shall list:

    1) The ‘us vs them’ mentality which has been present since the beginning. Richard Carrier’s post is a perfect example. There is the implication ( a strong one) that if we do not identify with Atheism+ then we are either somehow against the values of A+ or that we do not believe in those values, this is ridiculous.

    2) Who decides what is or isn’t sexist, misogynist, ableist, racist etc. These are not black and white issues so you will have people who disagree on some minor points on what classifies as acceptable/unacceptable. But as stated by Greta and Carrier, people who disagree with them shall be weeded out and marginalised, this is not something I can abide (apart from the obvious examples of racism, sexism etc, I am talking about the grey area)

    3) The inability to be open constructive criticism and the demonising of those who do not fall into the party line. Those who have offered criticism have been attacked and blocked/banned. They have been lumped in with the trolls and misogynists for simply voicing their opinion. See Carrier’s post on A+, he has apologised for some comments so disregard them, but there is still a lot of demonising for anyone who did not agree wholesale. Also see Greta’s post on A+ Scribe where a woman was attacked by commenters and Greta herself for merely offering a suggestion that permission is received before transcribing their videos.

    So the values are unobjectionable, but the attitude and manner in which many Atheism+ers have been displaying leave a lot to be desired and has the ability to hold the movement back.

    1. 1.1
      Timid Atheist

      1) Richard Carrier’s example is an outlier. He was called on his tactics and he wrote a follow up with apologies and explanations. Is there anyone else that’s been doing this? If so, it’s not the intent and is not acceptable. The point of Atheism Plus was to show that some atheists care about social justice. That’s it.

      2) What do you consider a gray area? I find that most sexism and racism is rather clear cut.

      3) This seems to be a rehash of the first point. Carrier is still an anomoly, not the rule to follow.

      Your objection to attitude and manner seems to be what is called tone trolling. They aren’t handling racism and sexism in a manner that you find unacceptable.

      Greta, Jen and a great many others have all said if you choose not to use the label, fine. No problem, Atheism Plus is not for you and it’s all good. What they will fight back against is blatant sexism, racism, homphobia, transphobia, etc. And they will do it even with people who claim to be a part of that movement. They also have the ability, on their own blogs, to moderate them as they see fit.

      1. Peter Ferguson

        ‘The point of Atheism+ is to show that some atheists care about social justice’ Do you not see how that makes it sound like those who do not identify with A+ do not care about social justice.

        1) Yes it is still happening, Carrier only apologised for the name-calling which is not what I was referring to, he has not retracted the fact he said and reiterated that you are ‘either with us or against us’. And he is not the only one who has made statements like that.

        2) Agreed, most is clear cut, but some isn’t. To say that there is no grey are is a bit naive, take the use of terms, some people consider some to be sexist and ableist and others don’t. Also some people think there are issues to be dealt with about privilege, others don’t. Also ‘MRA’s’ and the list goes on.

        3)And again I wasn’t referring to just Carrier, Greta also. And similar examples can be found in Rebecca’s behaviour.

        1. Kilian Hekhuis

          Without, admittedly, having read Richard Carrier’s post (and having only skimmed Greta’s), are you sure you are not confusing “you are either for us or against us” with “you are either with us or not”? A+ lists a number of important issues, mostly about social justice, that one cannot disagree with without not being part of A+. However, nowhere, afaik, has anyone claimed that if you do care about those issues you need to be part of A+, or else you apparantly don’t care (and are does not an A+er).

          1. trazan

            No, I read Carriers thread (It took a long time). He demands that other people be compassionate and reasonable without displaying that behaviour himself. “… are you with us, or with them… ” “Demonizing the vile is fully right and correct… ” He later apologizes for the language of his comments.

            I do think he is an outlier.

        2. thecynicalromantic

          Atheism doesn’t need A+ to make it sound like atheists who aren’t part of A+ don’t care about social justice. The “atheist movement” has done that on its own quite well.

        3. tonyinbatavia

          Rebecca’s not A+. Why is her behavior relevant to this discussion?

        4. Leo Buzalsky

          And the theme of “Carrier said some harsh things, so all of A+ is harsh!” continues. I wonder how you like it when people point to a particular humanist and go, “See, all humanists are like that!” As others have said here, Carrier is an outlier, yet he’s been often treated as though he is the norm.
          Furthermore, one commenter pointed out on Greta’s blog that it is quite typical for those who are part of a group to think they are more correct than those who are not. His example was that if you are a Democrat (political party in the USA), you are going to think your party’s ideas are better than those of Republicans. It would not make sense to be a Democrat if it were otherwise. At the same time (this is my own thought, not that commenter’s), being a Democrat doesn’t necessarily mean you think Republicans are scum of the earth. Point is that it should not come as a surprise that A+’ers might think themselves better than those who are not and especially to those who are opposed to the values of A+. Do you not think yourself better than those who are opposed to humanistic values? Come on, be honest.
          I also took a look at the comments on the Scribe post…Anna posted some concerns at post #2. A commenter going by “trinioler” came on and said ze are not legally required to ask for permission and some objections were made to Anna’s suggestion that people simply not scribe out of “respect.” Early on, no one was “attacking” her as you claim. It was Anna who seems to have started attacking by saying, “You are being very aggressive. I wonder why?” as well as making other accusations toward trinioler that were not really supported by the evidence. It wasn’t until after that post (#18), which was quite lengthy, that she began to be attacked a bit by a commenter going by “Setár”. And Greta told Anna she should tone it down; Greta did not “attack” her, and Greta certainly was not asking Anna to tone it down for “merely offering a suggestion that permission is received.”
          Overall, I fear you, sir, have a bias against A+ that is crippling your critical thinking skills. I politely recommend that you address this.

        5. besomyka

          ‘The point of Atheism+ is to show that some atheists care about social justice’ Do you not see how that makes it sound like those who do not identify with A+ do not care about social justice.

          No more than my not joining the NAACP means that I don’t support higher education for minorities, or not joining the NRA means that I want to abolish the 2nd amendment.

          As a supporter of their goals and an ally, I think it would be counter productive to lambaste them publicly, argue that they shouldn’t exist, that they are being divisive, or insult their leadership for imagined slights. It might be counter-productive to bring up bad research from racist organizations that claims to show that black people have lower IQs than white Europeans and demand that they refute it. It probably wouldn’t help if I told them that I got the information from Stormfront.

          I think if I did those things, members of the NAACP might have good justification for saying that I’m not being a very good ally.

          They may have a case that my public argumentation provides cover for the people that really REALLY don’t want equality because it creates the impression that their abhorrent views are more widely held than they really are, and that because of that perceptions, when people do need help from the NAACP, they may not reach out for that help because they don’t feel like they are likely to be supported.

          They might be right in suggesting that, even though I’m not intentionally acting to be part of the problem, that those actions above are still contributing to the problem.

          I can be for their goals without being a member, but part of being for their goals is not obstructing their efforts as well.

          There’s a parallel in here somewhere.

    2. 1.2
      Flewellyn

      Oy, not this again.

      1) Richard Carrier is not the originator of A+. Jen McCreight is. She did not agree with Carrier’s approach and said it didn’t represent what she was looking for in A+. And yet, you and others, time and again, disregard her words and instead take Carrier’s as authoritative. Why?

      2) Racism, sexism, and other bigotries are NOT matters of opinion. They are known and studied phenomena. That you are unfamiliar with the discourse and the study behind them is a failing on your part.

      3) I fail to see where “treat us all like human beings” is “adherence to a party line”, unless you think that the notion that people who are not white straight men should be treated with equal respect is somehow controversial and up for debate.

      Also, your version of the events on Greta’s post regarding A+Scribe is evidence that you have a robust fantasy life, but of nothing else.

    3. 1.3
      JimboJones2

      Timid Athiest said: “Richard Carrier’s example is an outlier. He was called on his tactics and he wrote a follow up with apologies and explanations. Is there anyone else that’s been doing this? If so, it’s not the intent and is not acceptable. The point of Atheism Plus was to show that some atheists care about social justice. That’s it.”

      That’s simply untrue. Jen started this thing by suggesting those who don’t join are part of a “circle-jerk headed for oblivion”. PZ Myers suggested all atheists who don’t join are assholes who should label themselves Atheist*.

      The only sign of anyone backtracking on this stance came days into the massive backlash on Twitter and elsewhere.

      Whatever AtheismPlus has decided it should be since the backlash, the intent of divisiveness was expressed by more than just a single “outlier”.

      1. SallyStrange

        There’s little disagreement about whether it’s divisive. There is disagreement over what that divisiveness means–whether it does indeed mean that those who aren’t on board are just jerks or whatever. I do think that those who are in active opposition to the idea of creating a group that explicitly links atheism and social justice are probably assholes of one variety or another. That’s just my opinion.

        But seriously, so what? Why do you care? If you think so poorly of those of us who are taking on the label anyway, why do you care, and why are you surprised, that we also think poorly of you?

        The division was there already. We just put a label on it.

      2. John Phillips, FCD

        Actually, PZ classified all those attacking A+ be classed or who appeared to be against social justice be classed as assholes or A*, not those who simply didn’t want to ‘opt-in’. For instance, both PZ and Rebecca support A+ but neither have opted in I.e. what mattered wasn’t whether you actually opted in or not to A+, but what were your actions. If you agreed with the basic social justice that A+ espoused, it didn’t matter if you were in or out as you weren’t against the aims of A+.

        If on the other hand you stay out because you are against social justice or continually misrepresent A+, then PZ is, IMO, right and you deserve the Á* sobriquet. There are times and issues when the only logical and ethical position is an us and them one. E.g. I don’t want to be associated with someone openly espousing a sexist, racist or homophobic position. Similarly, I don’t want to be associated with someone continually misrepresenting A+, e.g. harping on and on about Carrier and ignoring what others, like Jen, i.e. the originator of A+, are saying. It is at the very least, intellectually dishonest.

  2. 2
    DaveL

    I see little reason for hand-wringing over the gray areas of such things as sexism and misogyny when there is no shortage of the obvious, vicious, snarling sort staring us in the face.

    1. 2.1
      Peter Ferguson

      Agreed, but my point was that those who differ with those in FTB about the grey areas are lumped in with the obvious, vicious snarling sort. You either agree wholesale or you are out.

      1. DaveL

        I have yet to see anybody associated with the A+ label grilling their allies on gray areas, hunting for ideological impurity. Far more often, I see outsiders introduce the gray areas as a way of deflecting attention from obvious misogyny. If there’s a post about domestic violence, there are sure to be those whose only interest is in hypothetical scenarios of male self-defense. If a woman complains about being groped without her consent, someone is going to conflate it with flirting with nonverbal consent. So I don’t buy that this criticism about gray areas ought to be laid at the door of A+.

        1. John Phillips, FCD

          QFT

  3. 3
    jamesfrank

    @Peter Ferguson

    You’re strawmanning. Carrier didn’t say you must identify with Atheism+ but just giving a thumbs up for what it’s trying to accomplish was enough. If you don’t appreciate what it’s doing then the chances are that, I know this might be a shocker, but people won’t like your stance if it contains a harmful element (either aggressive or passive) and may in fact respond rather rudely. Neither does anyone (that I’ve seen) believe if you stay out of it and don’t necessarily agree with the primary goals that you’re against ALL social justice issues.

  4. 4
    Al Stefanelli


    I must confess that I am a terrible blogger in the sense that I don’t usually follow many of the important debates taking place and don’t respond in as timely a manner as I should

    Oh, hell no. You are an awesome blogger, Maryam. Life happens, time passes and we all have different priorities that occupy our time. :)

  5. 5
    A Hermit

    Maryam; you once wrote “It is the human being who is sacred not beliefs or religion.” That, to me, sums up the A+ idea quite nicely…

    @Peter Ferguson

    1) No on is being treated as if they don’t care about social justice just because they don’t adopt the A+ emblem. I keep hearing this accusation but apart from Carrier’s post (the worst of which he has retracted and apologized for) I haven’t seen anything even close to that happening. Quite the contrary, in fact; lots of people are saying “I support the idea but I have reasons for not using the label”…see Crommunist’s recent post for example.

    2)Sexism and racism may not always seem obvious but what I’ve been learning lately is that we need to be more aware of how something that might seem innocuous to those of us to those of us not directly affected by them might look very different to someone who has to put up with harassment and discrimination on a daily basis. (Deacon Duncan had a great post a while ago in which he compared the harassment of women to panhandling…one or two incidents may not bother you, you might even part with some small change, but when the panhandlers are constantly approaching you, and some of them are aggressive, and some of them actually reach into your pockets you’re not going to have much patience for any of them after a while…Crommunist, again, has some excellent posts about the pervasive nature of racism…I highly recommend seeking them out)

    3) Rebecca Watson is actually one of those people I was talking about who has been supportive of the ideas behind A+ but has said she won’t be adopting the label herself…so I’m not sure why you’re dragging her into it. (OH! That’s right, I forgot..Rebecca Watson ruins everything…right?)

    1. 5.1
      Stevarious, Public Health Problem

      Rebecca Watson is actually one of those people I was talking about who has been supportive of the ideas behind A+ but has said she won’t be adopting the label herself

      I’m actually glad, in a way, that Rebecca Watson is not adopting A+ for herself. It makes her a wonderful litmus test for whether a detractor has actual questions or if they are just trolling. The moment they bring up Rebecca Watson as some sort of leader of A+ you know they are either completely ignorant of the issue or just not arguing in good faith.

  6. 6
    ...

    Oh fantastic… Namzie, while I have considerable differences with you, you are one of the very few with actual courage and principles here.

    Atheism + is a self-pity fest for spoiled brats who engage the grossest kinds of bullying and thuggery when they can get away with it, and scream blue-bloody-murder whenever anyone calls them on it. I cannot believe you’re willing to go along with this crowd.

    1. 6.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      Yeah! The REAL racists are the people who mock the KKK. And the REAL homophobes are people who don’t eat at Chik-a-Fil. And the REAL misogynist are those damn bitches who won’t shut up when you tell them to.

      And the REAL bullies are people who fight for social justice!

      It makes perfect sense, in Whiny Ass Bigot Troll land!

      1. ...

        Yeah! The REAL racists are the people who mock the KKK

        Do not think to disgrace the memory of those who fought the KKK by pretending that you have anything in common with them. Were the Klan what it once was, we all know you would be bending low to polish their boots and kiss their white-sheeted backsides. Look at Myers – the instant things got hot in the struggle against religious fascism, he ran as fast as he could. The one time when it would have meant something, he failed.

        You lie and smear and defame those far, far better than you, who have the courage that you never could have and you hate them for it. Look at the recent filth that’s being thrown at Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This isn’t a reaction against bigotry; it’s an expression of the ultimate bigotry, of the bigotry of cowardly, mindless trash against anyone who isn’t like them.

        1. SallyStrange

          Your lies are pathetically transparent.

          1. ...

            Deep thinking to be sure. Tell me, were you born that way or is that the product of whatever half-assed education you received.

        2. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

          Don’t you dare pretend your bigot ass is anything but the KKK wearing new clothes.

          Why continue to pretend you give a rat’s ass about social justice when you lie about those who actually DO something about it?

          1. ...

            What do you do? Apart from tap away from your little holes and feel sorry for yourself?

          2. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

            I’m a Planned Parenthood escourt. I’m a “Big Sister”, a part time Girl Scout troop assistant, did my tour of duty at a rape crisis hotline and asist my firm with pro bono work for sex workers or human trafficking victims.

            How’s that petard feel jammed between your ribs?

  7. 7
    JimboJones2

    Personally, I intend to choose to continue supporting social justice causes the way I always have and will keep my atheism separate.

    If that’s gonna lead Jen to accuse me of being part of a Circle-Jerk, PZ to insist I take the label “Atheist Asshole” and Richard Carrier to suggest I’m a bigot, then screw the lot of them.

    1. 7.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      Not joining A+ doesn’t mean you’re a bigot. Which everyone involed in A+ has said a million times by now.

      The only people who are claiming that are bigots who want to keep up the pretense that they aren’t bigots. But that’s really transparent.

      So, basically, if you are in agreement with social justice issues, but just chose not to involve atheism in that, more power to you.

  8. 8
    ...

    If everyone here is choosing to forget the fact that Watson and her rabble organised a “Wild West Bordello” themed party for TAM and then attacked anyone who didn’t like it as “prude”, “feminazi” etc I’m not. If everyone here cares to pretend that the thuggery and bully of people like Abbie Smith who had the nerve to object did not happen, I’m don’t.

    And if you seriously think that A+ gives a flying fuck about women’s rights or justice, go see fatman Myers bend low to polish the boots of the rapist, lynch-murdering, war-criminal Clinton.

    1. 8.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      So, what you’re ridiculously dumb bigot ass is saying is that, if a woman does anything involving sexuality she has to put up with whatever anyone does to her forever?

      And if a pathetic cowardly bigot like Smith was once appropriately “prudish” in your estimation, that gives her a free pass to be a pathetic cowardly bigot?

      And what the fuck is with your non-sequitirs about Clinton? You desperation to prove your obvious lies is hilarious.

      1. ...

        Smith makes a greater contribution to the defence of reason in a month than most of this ratbag blog community do in their lives. She’s an actual scientist, and was subjected to genuine harassment with people showing up at her place of work and trying to get her fired. You never cared to address any of that. You lot whooped and cheered it on. Now, just like the catholics who cry fould when someone complains about child rape, and the muslims who snivel whenever one calls bullshit on their religions behaviour, you whine and scream and whenever anyone objects to the bullying and thuggery that you go in for.

        And you cannot even read a post online properly.

        1. SallyStrange

          Liar.

        2. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

          Or you can’t type an honest or coherent sentece to save your life.

          But, luckily for A+, Whiny Ass Bigot Trolls need not apply.

  9. 9
    Stephen T

    …say said

    Atheism + is a reaction against a bunch of spoiled brats who engage the grossest kinds of bullying and thuggery when they can get away with it, and scream blue-bloody-murder whenever anyone calls them on it.

    FIFY

  10. 10
    hyperdeath

    Maryam, if you’re interested, there is now an Atheism Plus forum at:

    http://atheismplus.com/forums/

  11. 11
    Martha

    I’m utterly amazed by those who argue that Atheism Plus rests on an “us vs. them” mentality. Are these not the same people who have argued for over a year that agreeing with Rebecca Watson means that we deserve to be raped? Or at least those who have stood by silently as the abuse was hurled?

    Yes, there have been times when the Atheism Plus advocates have spoken intemperately, but to claim that these statements are on par with the sustained campaign of harassment directed at atheist feminists over the last year is disingenuous, if not actively hostile.

    As Greta points out, the division is already there. My biggest problem with calling myself an atheist was that I would have to align myself publicly with a community that tolerates misogyny.

    It is certainly not the case that all who do not wish to take the Atheism Plus label are misogynists, but for me, the label means that I align with a strain of atheism that does not support misogyny, racism, or homophobia. It also means agreeing that working for social justice as an integral part of a humanist worldview rather than mission drift.

    1. 11.1
      ...

      I’m utterly amazed by those who argue that Atheism Plus rests on an “us vs. them” mentality.

      You must be amazed easily. You mean when they tried to blacklist Dawkins? Or Penn Jillette? Or drive out Sam Harris and smear him relentlessly? Or throw filth at Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Or try to get Grothe fired? Or when Laden showed up at Abbie Smith’s workplace to try to get her fired?

      Any of that ring any bells?

      1. Flewellyn

        You have a very active fantasy life. None of those things happened.

        1. ...

          That is a lie. Not a distortion, not a mistake. A lie. All of those things can be verified by anyone who spends a few minutes googling the matter.

          Yes it’s very inconvenient to pose as the forces of civility and tolerance when you’re calling for blacklists and trying to get dissenters fired, isn’t it?

          1. Flewellyn

            I was present for all of the things you mentioned, and you have deliberately distorted every aspect of them.

            Nobody tried to blacklist Richard Dawkins. The most that happened was that some people expressed disappointment in him, and Rebecca Watson said that she, personally, wasn’t going to read him anymore. No boycott, no blacklist.

            Same with Penn Jilette. Some people expressed displeasure with things he said. Big deal. That’s called “disagreement”.

            Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Well, they drew some fact-based criticism for specific positions they hold. This is, again, entirely normal and not at all a bad thing. Disagreeing with someone’s position and saying that they’re wrong, and presenting evidence to the contrary, is not smearing.

            As for getting Grothe fired, only one person on this blog network called for him to resign, and he was not joined by others.

            And Greg Laden never showed up at Abbie’s workplace. He wrote a letter to her supervisor at her university, saying “Were you aware this was going on?”, because he had concerns that she was displaying unprofessional behavior. You and I may disagree on whether or not this was warranted, but the important thing to note here is Laden acted alone. Also, you may note he doesn’t blog here anymore, and isn’t a part of Atheism+.

            So, to summarize, you’re completely full of shit.

          2. ...

            Nobody tried to blacklist Richard Dawkins. The most that happened was that some people expressed disappointment in him, and Rebecca Watson said that she, personally, wasn’t going to read him anymore. No boycott, no blacklist.

            Oh, you can go back and look at it. Sure that wasn’t a call for a boycott, sure there wasn’t a tsunami of filth emptied at Dawkins. I invite anyone to take a look at the record here, and also to take a look at what Laden did do. I take it you’re fine for me to write to your supervisor – assuming you have a job where anyone gives a damn, which I doubt – and try to get you fired?

            Yes, keep digging that pit.

            Anyone can look up the stuff for themselves. They will find, just to take one example, that you are lying about the attitude towards Ali and Harris, and moreover, that the attacks on them were themselves either based on lies, or on things that are not even lies. It is not criticism, it is ostracism, and a call for people to be thrown out.

            Now given that any of these people does more for reason and skepticism in a week than the FtB crowd, with the exception of Namazie, do in their entire lives. So this is why I say to hell with it and to hell with A+.

          3. Stevarious, Public Health Problem

            Anyone can look up the stuff for themselves.

            I just did. I find no evidence anywhere that Greg Laden “showed up at Abbie Smith’s workplace to try to get her fired”. In fact, the record contradicts this claim.

            So now that this statement of yours has been demonstrated to be a lie, why should anything else you say be taken seriously? Alas, you are discredited, and now must support any claim that you make with evidence instead of just insisting we use google, or you will be rightfully dismissed.

      2. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

        yep you’re litany of blatant lies does ring a bell, because you tell them – always without a shred of evidence – over and over and over and over again.

        Go back to the Whiny Ass Bigot pit already.

        A+ doesn’t want you. You don’t want it. Great. Disappear.

        1. Jamie

          Really though. It sounds like “…” doesn’t like anyone in the A+ movement anyway, so why complain about the A+ people leaving and making their own group? We don’t want you and you don’t want us.

  12. 12
    Flewellyn

    It’s interesting when certain people can’t tell the difference between “We want to separate ourselves from the people who are actively hostile to our goals”, and “You are either with us or against us”.

    The former position is not equivalent to the latter. The former says “If you aren’t with us, but still support us or even just don’t engage with us, but aren’t actively hostile to us, we don’t care”. The former position notes that people may be all in favor of social justice but prefer to call themselves humanists, or they may feel that their efforts are best spent in other forms of activism in the atheist community, or they may just not like the label, or they may just not be “joiners”, or whatever. It’s just fine with A+ers if those folks don’t want to join up. And they can still be friends! Rebecca Watson, for instance, has said she probably won’t use the Atheism+ label for herself. And that’s just fine!

    A+ as a group does want to separate from the actively hostile, actively harassing component of the atheist community. The ones who are not merely content to disagree, but pursue a campaign of harassment and bullying against those of us who support using skepticism in service of social justice. And why shouldn’t we want to be “divisive”, if the division is between the reasonable and compassionate atheists, and the lot at the slimepit? Someone tell me why this is bad?

    I mean, the way these guys (yes, mostly guys) carried on and on about how meeeeeeean and evil it was to propose anti-harassment policies, and that the atheist community be more welcoming of women and minority groups, you would think they’d be GLAD to see the back of us. Instead, now that we’re saying “Fine, you can call yourselves what you like, we’re making a subset movement that’s dedicated to what we care about”, suddenly they scream “DIVISIVE! DIVISIVE! HOW DARE YOU LEAVE US?!”

    MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!

    1. 12.1
      ...

      A+ as a group does want to separate from the actively hostile, actively harassing component of the atheist community

      That is not true, not even slightly. It is the faction that has been pouring out venom against anyone who doesn’t assume the position at the snap of fingers.

      How about actually addressing the record that these people have?

      1. Flewellyn

        That is not true, not even slightly. It is the faction that has been pouring out venom against anyone who doesn’t assume the position at the snap of fingers.

        Citation needed.

      2. SallyStrange

        You mean the fictitious record that exists only in your mind, which is why you can’t document it except by your histrionic whining?

        The reason people aren’t addressing THAT record is because it doesn’t exist except in your fantasy world.

      3. besomyka

        Cross back over into Bizzaro world. You’ll be both be happier and less bewildered.

        I was around for all those things you spoke about, and you’re characterization of them are ass-backwards. Every time I get suckered into wasting my time looking into those claims you’re making, I find out the same thing. You lied.

        You’re the anti-feminist version of David Barton.

  13. 13
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Why yes, it IS us versus them, and I don’t see why that is remotely a problem… other than it must be hard for some people to make judgments that aren’t based on race, nationality, political or religious affiliation. I have principles and values, and apparently some atheists think that atheism has no room for values, so they are choosing to opt-out and marginalize themselves in my eyes. It is their job to meet my standards or not as they see fit, it is NOT my job to compromise my principles to make room for people who don’t share my values.

    1. 13.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      You know . .. that is a good point. I hadn’t really thought about it like that before.

      Why wouldn’t I want an “us v them” with rape-apologists, victim-blamers, racists, homophobes, etc ad naseum? Assuming those people have shown themselves to enjoy harming others (like smith) or uninterested in anything but the sound of their own voices (like strangroom)?

      I don’t truck with white supremacists. I don’t truck with the Westboro Church. So why would I be reticient to not truck with Whiny Ass Bigots?

      I need to let that thought percolate a little more. I think you’re onto something.

    2. 13.2
      John Phillips, FCD

      Yep there’s three basic positions one can take. Opt in, which means you support and are actively part of A+. Stay out for genuine reasons that are not anti-A+, perhaps you’re not a joiner, or you do things your own way, but have no quarrel with what A+ stands for. Finally, you have those who, metaphorically, are actively opting out and attacking it with all kinds of spurious and intellectually dishonest means. The first two positions are effectively allies, though one, for whatever reason, rejects the label, no problem. However, the third not only rejects the label, but attacks and misrepresents A+ at seemingly every opportunity. They deserve the A* label and I have no problem taking an us them attitude with them.

  14. 14
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Ellipsis is a known troll and liar. Don’t bother engaging unless you’re just bored, because you’re not going to get through.

  15. 15
    ...

    ou and I may disagree on whether or not this was warranted, but the important thing to note here is Laden acted alone.

    Is that a little soupcon of guilt I see? Who fired him up? Who whipped him on? You did. You can’t avoid the responsibility, and it’s pathetic to watch you try.

    1. 15.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      Thank you for admitting that Abby Smith, et al are directly at fault for the endless shit Watson, McCreight et al have been through over the last year+

      1. ...

        You already lie, and fortunately it is obvious. Anyone may take a look at the foregoing and see that you are simply lying.

        And, here Maryam please look at the following. It’s easily enough googled. Who here, apart from you and Taslima, covered the FEMEN protests? Did anyone? Did any of the others offer the slightest word of support? Or the jailing of Pussy Riot?

        But you’ll see them endlessly whining about their tiny little problems, drowning themselves in self-pity.

        Do you think for one moment this crowd would stand against a real threat from religious reaction?

        We already know that they won’t.

        1. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

          Good little coward. I’m glad that you pissed your pants in fear instead of admitting the truth. Is that a little soupcon of guilt I see? Who fired up the rape-threat, address posting harrasment machine? Who whipped them on? YOU and SMITH at al did. YOU and THEY can’t avoid the responsibility, and it’s pathetic – and hilarious – to watch your incompetent ass try.

          1. ...

            You lie again. I have never been involved in anything like that – but your thuggery is written all across the web. We can see it for ourselves.

            It’s also been documented that the likes of Watson are not above fabricating false threats to drum up sympathy for themselves. Scented Nectar has the details if anyone is interested.

            I’m a Planned Parenthood escourt. I’m a “Big Sister”, a part time Girl Scout troop assistant, did my tour of duty at a rape crisis hotline and asist my firm with pro bono work for sex workers or human trafficking victims

            Sure you are. Sure you did. This wouldn’t be the umpteenth lie from your crowd, that’d be dreadful now wouldn’t it? Never mind that your connection with honesty has been… tenuous to say the least.

          2. ...

            There is a worse possibility here though. That you are telling the truth and should know better, but are going along with this crap anyway. I don’t like to think that of anyone.

          3. SallyStrange

            The liar has no defense but to accuse others of lying.

            Pure projection.

  16. 16
    Egbert

    Maryman, I love you to death, but Atheism plus is not about social justice, it’s about social conflict.

    1. 16.1
      sqlrob

      [Citation Needed]

    2. 16.2
      Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

      You apparently don’t love her enough to spell her name correctly.

      Also, from the A+ website:

      Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime.
      http://atheismplus.com/

      I see nothing about social conflict in there.
      What are you referring to?

      Let’s break it down for you:
      “Guys, don’t do that” has led to vitriol, rape threats, death threats, and threats of violence against Rebecca Watson.

      Many Atheist/Skeptic conventions have had problems with harassment.

      Several female bloggers have been harassed with threats of rape, death and violence for over a year now.

      Some bloggers have spoken up about the sexism and misogyny that exists in the Atheist community.

      Jen writes a post about wanting to create a third wave of atheism with the express purpose of fighting against religion as well as a variety of social issues, such as racism, feminism, homophobia, and transphobia. The concept is quickly labeled ‘A+’, which is a subset of the Atheist movement. This subset decided to create a space where they could discuss social issues away from those individuals who kept pushing back (see the harassment faced by bloggers over the past year).
      Although embraced by many people, there is vocal opposition to A+.

      Some people think A+ seeks to steal and redefine Atheism. This is untrue, nor is it possible. The people who embrace the label simply want their own space to talk about the issues they find important without having to deal with the sexist attitudes of certain vocal people in the Atheist movement.

      A subset of those who oppose A+ believe that A-plussers are elitist. This is valid inasmuch as many A-plussers do not want to associate with people who are homophobic or racist or sexist.

      Some people are opposed to individuals labeling themselves. Many of these people would like it if A-plussers call themselves Humanists or secularists. These people have no say in how someone else self identifies.

      Some people think that not joining A+ means that you are automatically a misogynist or an asshole. This is untrue of course. Many who don’t join A+ are wonderful people who simply don’t want to join. Some people who don’t join A+ are misogynist assholes. The behavior of the individual dictates whether they are or not.

      There are those in the atheist movement angered at atheist plussers for being divisive. Curiously, these people fail to acknowledge that the atheist movement was divided long before A+ (see above. Re: harassment of bloggers).

      Some individuals take issue with the addition of ‘social justice’ to atheism. These people fail to acknowledge that many people find that their progressive values are a logical result of their atheism.

      Lastly, some people feel that people will be forced to join A+. Of course that’s a silly belief, as A+ is opt-in.

      If you have any more misconceptions about A+, feel free to ask, rather than making hasty assumptions.

      Thanks, and have a wonderful day!

  17. 17
    davidb

    Good to see you back blogging again, Maryam.

    I’ve been sort of following the elevatorgate thing, and the atheism+ idea over the last few weeks, and while I agree with much of what atheism+ stands for, and while perhaps it ought not to be divisive, a look through this comments thread I think shows that you are a little too sanguine in thinking that it is not in fact divisive.

    Like the Bright thing of a few years ago, as far as I am concerned the sooner it blows over the better.

    Yes, of course, we atheists should be, and generally are, concerned about social issues.

    And concerned about equality for women of whatever sexual orientation, equality for gay males and the list goes on.

    One of my co-admins at my discussion board just posted there

    “Somehow they seem to be doing a great job of putting people off who actually agree with them for the best part.”

    I tend to agree.

    I’m quite an old man now, and I was always sympathetic to feminism, ever since the days when Germaine Greer was writing about it. But the Dworkins of this world alienated a lot of sympathetic people, and I fear that some of the atheism+ people are seeking a similar sort of unproductive ideological purity.

    From the same thread on my board, from another co-admin who I think you have met personally.

    “When I was a young working woman, I got paid less than men with similar qualifications and experience, purely because I was a woman. When I wanted to sign a legal agreement I was told I had to get my husband’s consent. I could go on with a whole lot of such examples.

    When my mother was a young woman and got married, she had to hide the fact that she was married, because her company had a policy of firing married women. And that was the norm.

    When I was a young maths teacher I went to a maths teachers’ conference. One day at dinner I mentioned that I was a feminist (by which I meant that I believed in equal rights for women). The reaction of the otherwise entirely male table was one of horror and I was attacked in every possible way.

    So I am what wordy had described as an equality feminist. And I have been a Humanist as long as I have been a feminist (i.e. since before you were born). To put it succinctly, I am a Humanist because I am an atheist and I care about human rights in general and also care about people’s welfare.

    Now in the 1970s, we saw the rise of a new kind of feminism, some of whose adherents might accurately be described as “feminazis”. So how do you think people like Shadowfox and me and all the other equality feminists felt about our movement being hijacked by men-hating extremists? Perhaps a little bit like your man Jim, ranting about the hijacking of “atheism”. And in the 1970s there were some real extremists. I can remember some of them having agonised debates about how they could possibly raise male children. And in the 1980s when I was working for the cause of extending the reproductive rights of poor women in developing countries by helping them get access to a choice of contraceptive methods that didn’t cost the earth, I was frequently attacked by self-styled feminists who thought I wanted to control world population by stopping women from having the children they wanted.

    I’ve had to fight that kind of crap so much that I do resent your assumption that the word “feminist” can only mean what you choose it to mean. You’re not the vocabulary pope pronouncing ex cathedra.

    FYI I have always cared for men’s rights too. “Feminism” means that to me as well. So, for example, I don’t think it should be automatic that in divorce, mothers and not fathers should get custody of children. I don’t, however, think that in general men in the west are terribly disadvantaged, any more than I think that Christians are in general persecuted.”

    And from the same woman

    “Frankly, I don’t care what your feminist lecturer told you. I was probably a feminist before she was born too!

    My sort of feminism is a subset of Humanism (capital H please). Same as wanting equal rights for blacks and whites or gays and straights.

    Women are approximately half the human race. Many countries discriminate against them by law. This is a sufficiently serious problem to demand a huge input that it’s just not getting at the moment. There was a considerable international effort against racial apartheid in one country. Why is there less effort against gender apartheid? Why are so many people content to accept it as a cultural peculiarity like wearing a turban? ”

    And from the same woman

    “I’m female. Can I be a misogynist because I think far too much was made of an annoying and inept proposition in a lift? ”

    This whole atheism+ thing reminds me of the bit in ‘Life of Brian’ about the various liberation fronts.

    The dust will settle, just as it did with the Bright thing, now pretty much dead and buried.

    The sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

    David B

    1. 17.1
      Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

      Yes, it would be a GOOD thing if a group of people who want to discuss methods of fighting against the negative effects of religion, homophobia, sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, and other progressive social issues would go away.
      I do not have to associate with them, but I think they should stop.
      They’re not doing anything to harm me, but I think they should stop.
      I cannot explain why they should stop, but I want them to close up shop, eliminate their safe space and fold back into the larger Atheist movement, where they can once again be subject to harassment, sexism and misogyny; as well as constantly trying to educate people on the basics of many aspects of social justice so that actual discussion of how to remedy problems continuously gets derailed.

  18. 18
    Maryam Namazie

    Thanks for your comments. I will respond as soon as I can.

  19. 19
    proudmra

    Atheists tend to be rational skeptics; rationality and skepticism are incompatible with the type of blind radical feminism preached by the A-plussers.

    This attempt to hijack and atheism and make it serve feminist goals will not succeed,, as too many atheists are adept at spotting and calling out BS for what it is.

  1. 20
    Around FtB | Pharyngula

    [...] Maryam Namazie has just discovered Atheism+. She likes it. [...]

  2. 21
    Atheism Plus revisted | Maryam Namazie

    [...] registered my support for Atheism Plus after reading the FAQs on its official website. I won’t be calling myself an Atheist Plus but I [...]

  3. 22
    Is PZ Myers dying? | Christopher's Blog

    [...] common AIDS virus we are talking about. No, rumour has it that PZ Myers might be dying from ‘AIDSplus‘! Physicians all over the world are in agreement about this one: you are highly at risk of [...]

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