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Sep 19 2012

Atheism Plus revisted

I did say I would write more on Atheism Plus and feel I should given the various comments I have received. This will be my last post on this for now.

I 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 thought it important to support an initiative that is recognising the links between atheism and social justice.

As I said before, I don’t see the creation of Atheism Plus as necessarily divisive.

For example, the establishment of “Muslims for Secular Democracy” doesn’t divide all Muslims. Muslims – like atheists – are not a homogeneous group or community. Moreover, those who don’t join or support “Muslims for Secular Democracy” and even those who may oppose its establishment for various reasons aren’t necessarily anti-secular or anti-democracy. Nonetheless “Muslims for Secular Democracy” is making an important point and contribution. From my perspective, Atheism Plus is similar. It’s a group of atheists who want to assert the importance of social justice.  This in and of itself isn’t divisive and isn’t a condemnation of anyone and everyone who isn’t on board.

Having read beyond the FAQs, though, I must now in all honesty add that whilst I still fully support the aims of Atheism Plus, good aims and intentions are not always enough. How the aims are promulgated and carried out matter too.

In the debate that has ensued, the thing that most comes to mind is the bigoted notion that all “old, white men” are privileged and not concerned with social justice.  [The opposing notion that all “white women” are "whiners" is similar.] Particularly those concerned with social justice should know that this is not necessarily the case for a number of reasons, especially class. Even so, I would consider as an ally many “privileged old, white, men” who defend secularism and equality and not as an ally many “minority women” who defend sharia.

Building social movements that can improve our lot is not as much about identity, colour, gender, sexuality, and even privilege as it is about politics and choice.

Having said that, I still believe that Atheism Plus is a positive development that will impact well on both atheism and social justice when the dust settles.

Clearly, anything new of this sort will naturally unsettle many, including those whose real interests lie with it.

110 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin Solway

    links between atheism and social justice

    I don’t believe there are any links between atheism and “social justice”.

    All people are interested in social justice, as part of being human. And atheists are human beings.

    I don’t think there would be a problem with a name like “Atheists for radical feminism”, since that would be an honest thing to do. But “atheism+” is simply asking for trouble. It’s like me saying that I am “Maryam Namazie +” and then doing things that you would find abhorrent.

    1. 1.1
      davidhart

      “All people are interested in social justice”

      Sadly, that’s not true. All people ought to be interested in social justice, if they are sufficiently informed, but some people simply are more concerned about maintaining privileges, or suppressing dissent, or other such concerns.

      As regards links, I’ll grant you that there is nothing about non-belief in gods that logically necessitates a concern for social justice, but as a practical effect of non-belief, people often come to realise the anti-social-justice position that religions can take, and, no longer having the supernatural beliefs that uphold such injustices, are better placed to start caring about it than they were before.

      1. Kevin Solway
        “All people are interested in social justice”

        Sadly, that’s not true.

        I don’t believe you can make that claim absolutely.

        I observe that people are interested in social justice, while you observe that they are not.

        Without having the ability to faultlessly read people’s minds, these things are impossible to prove.

        the anti-social-justice position that religions can take

        Even though I’m an atheist, I don’t believe that any religious person takes an “anti-social-justice” position.

        And no, I don’t believe that an atheist is inherently more rational or more moral than a religious person. Religion, generally speaking, is a delusion, but radical feminism is a delusion of equal magnitude, and there are countless other delusions that plague atheists, and which are equally as destructive as the worst of religions.

        1. Sassafras

          Even though I’m an atheist, I don’t believe that any religious person takes an “anti-social-justice” position.

          Obviously they don’t say “I am against social justice!” They say “God wants this class of person subordinate/eliminated/converted by force. That’s true justice because God decides what’s just!” And often, their targets are atheists. Rights and protections for atheists is a social justice cause; that’s the link right there.

          1. Kevin Solway

            Different people have different ideas as to what, specifically, “social justice” is. It’s not the case that “atheism+” knows what social justice is, and everyone else who disagrees is wrong.

            As you’ve probably noticed a great many people reject atheism+’s notion of social justice, as social injustice.

          2. Sassafras

            I’ve noticed a few people characterize atheism+ and supporters as extremist, radical, unjust, etc. I’ve not seen those traits actually bearing out, though, so I’m not going to give the accusations any more weight than I do to Christians who claim all atheists are immoral.

    2. 1.2
      whatlintey

      keeping bitches in check: http://manhood101.com

      1. Sleeper

        You must be a feminist extremist trying to stir up trouble with this post…

    3. 1.3
      smhll

      What do you find abhorent about what Atheism Plus is doing?

      1. Jay

        I posted this post at Alethian Worldview. It has been in moderation for over 9 hours.

        http://i.imgur.com/spLpB.jpg

        In the meantime, this was three minutes after Deacon made his last post at Alethian. Maybe he is still asleep or at work.

        Do you think my comment will ever come out of moderation?

    4. 1.4
      Ophelia Benson

      It isn’t “radical” feminism. It’s very ordinary mainstream basic feminism. This meme that it’s “radical” is just clueless.

      1. Jay

        TWO OF YOUR THREE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE, SO C+ FOR YOU.

        1. That A+ is so vehemently negative towards men makes it radical feminism.

        2. That contemporary feminism has radicalized and doesn’t understand that yet, does make it very ordinary.

        3. MEME BLAH BLAH. Ophelia, you should check your privilege.

        1. Ze Madmax

          1. That A+ is so vehemently negative towards men makes it radical feminism.

          You don’t understand what “radical feminism” actually means. Here’s a starting point:

          Radical feminists locate the root cause of women’s oppression in patriarchal gender relations, as opposed to legal systems (as in liberal feminism) or class conflict (as in socialist feminism and Marxist feminism).

        2. Nick Gotts

          The claim that Atheism+ is “vehemently negative towards men” is a barefaced lie. I notice you provide no evidence whatsoever for your lie; this is because you can’t.

          1. TByte

            Atheism+ was founded by feminists, for feminists, and with the same goals as feminism. It would be more honestly named “Atheism+Feminism”, and as Feminism is vehemently negative towards men, Atheism+Feminism is likewise.
            The problem with the Atheism+ crowd is that they are not “+” enough. Anybody who tries to point this out is labeled a misogynist, insulted with ad hominem attacks, and blocked from participating in any debate.

          2. HugeManatee

            Well, one look at the Atheism+ message board provides some pretty good proof.

      2. Shripathi Kamath

        It isn’t “radical” feminism. It’s very ordinary mainstream basic feminism. This meme that it’s “radical” is just clueless.

        Hmm, try It isn’t “Atheism+”. It’s very ordinary mainstream basic atheism. This meme that it’s “atheism+” is just clueless.

        Partly why I think that author probably expresses one of the most rational responses to Atheism+:

        “I won’t be calling myself an Atheist Plus but I thought it important to support an initiative that is recognising the links between atheism and social justice.”

        “Muslims for Secular Democracy” is a good example. There are many Muslims who are just that, Muslims. However many of them do stand for a secular democracy.

        Are they lesser Muslims because they do not identify themselves as such?

  2. 2
    jamesfrank

    In the debate that has ensued, the thing that most comes to mind is the bigoted notion that all “old, white men” are privileged and not concerned with social justice.

    If this was true, PZ Myers wouldn’t exactly be seen as such an outspoken feminist. Privilege in this instance doesn’t mean such people aren’t for social justice but rather advantages and expectations we unknowingly receive due to the current social structure sometimes make us oblivious to the harm we’re causing.

    1. 2.1
      steve84

      What is definitely true though is the notion that “If you are against Atheism Plus you are against social justice” and even “If you are against Atheism Plus, you are a misogynistic, patriarchal MRA”. It has a definite “with us or against us” vibe that’s extremely off-putting.

      As said, the aims may be good, but they way they go about it couldn’t possibly be any worse.

      1. jamesfrank

        The official stance on those not on board with A+ is: “Those who choose not to use the Atheism Plus designation are not automatically considered supporters of bigotry. An “us and them” understanding is implicit whenever a group of any kind forms, but the “them” in this case is not monolithic. It is composed of individuals and groups who range from the supportive but uninvolved, to the neutral, to those opposed on principle, to the unabashedly bigoted, hateful, and discriminatory.”

        That doesn’t mean some people won’t respond poorly to certain arguments and behaviors, but for the most part everyone realizes that not all those in opposition fall under the same umbrella. If somebody is called a misogynist, or acting in a misogynistic manner (yes, there is a difference), they are likely to be called on it. Most of the retribution I’ve seen has been directed at deserving targets who’re behaving in an abrasive manner themselves and instead of addressing points adequately… doubledown, typically escalating their own combativeness and then acting dumbfounded when a group trying to create a space free from that sort of thing kicks them out. In general, passive aggressive hatred seen as trolling rather than a genuine attempt at conversation tends to fall under heavy fire.

        1. steve84

          What they say isn’t what they do. I’ve seen people being the target of vicious abuse for harmless comments and for simply not falling in line.

          1. jamesfrank

            It helps if you give examples.

        2. ...

          “Those who choose not to use the Atheism Plus designation are not automatically considered supporters of bigotry.

          Gee, that’s awfully big of them. I guess I should be terribly grateful for such indulgence, huh?

          Well, newsflash: I’m not a bigot, I’ve opposed the real thing many times, and I do not need any smarmy condescension from this collection of nonentities.

          1. jamesfrank

            Right… so it’s either don’t put it in the FAQ and be accused of labeling all those opposed misogynists, or put it in the FAQ and be accused of condescension (and probably lying too). I believe I understand your completely fair and accurate portrayal of the A+ movement.

          2. ...

            And my point is promptly proved.

        3. TByte

          That may be the “official stance”, but what matters is the behavior of those involved in Atheism+, and the behaviors of those such as Richard Carrier and Greta Christina expose the offical stance as an offical lie.

      2. Jay

        And what is certainly true is the pressure by so called Atheists to refuse to listen, or read ANYTHING said by “an MRA” and implemented with banning policies by A+ at reddit, by Zinnia Jones, Stephanie Svan, and Ophelia Benson.

        1. TByte

          Don’t forget Greta Christina, who has also engaged in cowardly banning of those who disagreed with her.

  3. 3
    Mera

    But, by definition, all white males are privileged. In fact almost everyone has privilege one way or another. Don’t mistake the common usage of the word with the sociological concept that is talked about by the Atheism+ folks. In fact, one of the reasons the forums were founded, was to talk about the implications of that concept without always having to go back and explain the concept of privilege all over again every single time.

    Being privileged (or having privilege, which is a phrase i prefer for obvious reasons of better distinguishability to common usage) does not entail you don’t care for social justice. It just implies that you haven’t had first hand experience of the struggles faced by people that are lacking in that particular dimension of the privilege spectrum.

    1. 3.1
      Yuppy Soul

      By what definition?

    2. 3.2
      Jay

      Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy, before you tell me of my inherent privilege and my bitter white male refusal to understand it.

      CK Louis and John Scalzi can join you.

      In modern America would I trade places with a woman today? In a heartbeat, because then, maybe, I would have a chance of having a court go after my ex who has kidnapped my children and refuses to let me see them.

      1. Timid Atheist

        Depends on the court, but I’ve had this problem with my ex to and the courts are very ahppy to tell me that there’s nothing they are willing to do. And I’m the mother. Courts don’t play fair when it comes to child custody some of the time. A lot of that has to do with gender roles. They assume the mothers are all fit mothers and all the fathers have nothing to do with child care. More often, however, the custody is decided on what’s best for the child, as it should be. Is the father in the primary role of child care? The kids go with the father and the mother gets visitation.

        You do have privilege, however. As a white person and as a man. You didn’t ask for it, your life may not be all roses, but you still have it and you get opportunities a woman of color wouldn’t have as a result of it.

    3. 3.3
      TByte

      “But, by definition, all white males are privileged.”
      …and that’s the problem with Atheism+. The willful ignorance or deliberate deceit of those involved.

  4. 4
    Jamie Stanton

    Hi Maryam. I’m glad you’ve taken your time to dig a little deepen regarding this subject. It has been frustrating for many who are on board with the idea of promoting women’s rights, but not onboard with the particular brand of feminism that is it the heart of AtheismPlus. I feel that the manner in which the ideas are communicated are counter-productive to the stated goals, and it seems more about identity politics than effecting change on the ground; more about “being a feminist” that promoting women’s rights. How ideas are perceived are important, and as I’ve argued on my blog and elsewhere, Feminism suffers from a serious public image problem and is seen as unsympathetic, dogmatic and hardline, and agressive behavior and divisive tactics simply confirms this perception.

    As an idea to make change on the ground; I’d like to propose an idea suggested by a friend of mine. How about each of us (involved in AtheismPlus or not) donate some money to people seeking help on Kiva? He regularly donates cash to women here in order to change their lives for the better, to start businesses and so forth. Who’s up for it? http://www.kiva.org/start

    1. 4.1
      hyperdeath

      And what is wrong with this “particular brand of feminism”? I keep on reading that Atheism Plus is infested with some kind of extreme radical feminism, but such criticisms seem very short on specifics.

      1. Jamie Stanton

        The thing is, what is considered radical is a relative concept. I’m sure you consider the anti-transgender feminists pretty radical, but that does not mean that the worldview emanating from AtheismPlus is not radical to many. Indeed, in the 70s, 80s and 90s feminism in academic institutions because self consciously radical, and is, if you like, in its “DNA”. This unfortunately leads to the strident and angry tone, and a siege mentality reminiscent of the religious right.

        The type of feminism promoted on AtheismPlus (a form of “gender feminism” although I know many reject that label) wants to promote critical thinking, but also have key ideas that are beyond criticism. For instance, the idea of gender being culturally constructed – a belief of this form of feminism – is an ideological position, which no amount of evidence will change. Even entertaining the thought that *some* aspects of behavior – with evidence – may be rooted in biology gets you lumped with “MRAs”. Also some ideas – like the idea of the Patriarchy – are unfalsifiable, yet viewed as indisputable (more on that later).

        Do you not see that the entire structure of the Forums are *based* on the infallibility of these ideas? If you don’t agree with this reality model, you are directed to the education forum. It is *rooted* in the notion that these core ideas cannot be challenged; only evangelized.

        Also, it seems to want to build a mirror-world where those who are perceived as having more privilege, have their opinion denigrated because they are male / white / of a certain class. There also seems to be a “race to the bottom” to be perceived as the most oppressed, which many find as strange. But this is a logical outgrowth of this inversion of privilege, where the most downtrodden are the most virtuous. (Bertrand Russell wrote an essay about this and called “The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed”)

        If you want to make men feel unwelcome and marginalized and dismissed for expressing opinions, well done. The only want to *not* be marginalised and be listened to – the only path to redemption if you are privileged – is to accept all of the premises in the education forum. To be come a true believer. That – I feel – is not something that fits well alongside skepticism, and strikes me as worryingly religious thinking. Can you see how that may come across to the wider Atheist community?

        I am not saying there is no merit in these ideas; has society existed along patrilineal lines since the dawn of agriculture? Yes. Have women been downtrodden throughout this time and had a uniquely bad time throughout history? To borrow a phrase from Ben Goldacre, “I think you’ll find its a bit more complicated than that”.

        (Also, I agree that some of the criticism leveled against Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson has been disproportionate, and I in no way support any form of harassement of name calling.)

        Finally, what are your thoughts on us – AtheismPlus or not – donating some money to help women on Kiva?

        1. Jamie Stanton

          Apologies for the typos. way instead of want, become instead of be come

        2. hyperdeath

          Also some ideas – like the idea of the Patriarchy – are unfalsifiable…

          “The Patriarchy” is a label for various social phenomena, not a conspiracy. It is unfalsifiable per se, but rests on falsifiable claims, such as the appalling treatment of rape victims by the criminal justice system, the prevalence of sexual harassment, and employment discrimination. I happen to think that it’s a silly term, mainly because it invites the reification fallacy.

          …the idea of gender being culturally constructed…

          Again, that’s a massive cluster of ideas, rather than a central dogma. As you say, “I think you’ll find its a bit more complicated than that”. No one’s claiming that men and women are biologically identical, but many gender traits are socially conditioned by things such as toys, career advice, and expectations of beauty.

          Do you not see that the entire structure of the Forums are *based* on the infallibility of these ideas?

          That’s a bit like a creationist saying “do you not see that this evolution forum is based around the acceptance of evolution?”. In a certain sense it is true, in that if a creationist strolls in and ask “why are there no transitional fossils”, they are unlikely to get a friendly reception. Similarly, many feminists get tired of the same arguments being repeated again and again.

          Finally, what are your thoughts on us – AtheismPlus or not – donating some money to help women on Kiva?

          I think it’s an excellent idea. As I said below, I care far more about the underlying principles than I do about Atheism Plus.

          1. Jamie Stanton

            “The Patriarchy” is a label for various social phenomena, not a conspiracy. It is unfalsifiable per se, but rests on falsifiable claims, such as the appalling treatment of rape victims by the criminal justice system, the prevalence of sexual harassment, and employment discrimination. I happen to think that it’s a silly term, mainly because it invites the reification fallacy.

            It is a silly term when unleashed from its academic origins, yes, and invites comparison to conspiracies especially when it is spoken of as some malevolent oppressive force.

            An honest question here regarding falsifiability. At what levels do discrimination, harassment etc need to fall before anyone would say The Patriarchy no longer exists? Would it involve the dismantling of *systemic* sexism (such as in law) which is easier to tackle – or cultural sexism – which involves education and change in habits. While we should strive for a society in which, say, crime does not exist, and rapes no longer happen, it would be sadly unrealistic to imagine that it will ever be wholly eliminated. I used to work for the fire service, and they had statistically reached a level where the could no longer respond and deal with fires any better with existing technology, so they instead tried to educate people on how to prevent them. But even with free fire alarms, advertising campaigns over christmas and fireworks night and other tools to eliminate fires, sadly there will always be total idiots who get drunk and fall asleep while they’re cooking pizza. Because of this, I fear there is always something one can point to to say “there is evidence of the patriarchy”.

            Regarding employment and discrimination, I personally think it is not a problem with sexism per se, but a problem with nepotism that humans – male and female – seem to practice, and the cultures that spring from such interactions. Such discrimination would exist in a matriarchal society too – I contend – not because of sexism, but because of nepotism amongst female groups.

            Again, that’s a massive cluster of ideas, rather than a central dogma. As you say, “I think you’ll find its a bit more complicated than that”. No one’s claiming that men and women are biologically identical, but many gender traits are socially conditioned by things such as toys, career advice, and expectations of beauty.

            I didn’t say biologically identical – they’re obviously not, and not even the most radical of feminists wouldn’t claim that (indeed the most radical ones argue logic itself is a tool of oppression and weirdly mimic some of the most chauvinist of ideas). However the “blank slate” model is widely accepted as fact in feminist circles as far as I can see, and I’ve seen numerous times people mention evolutionary psychology and get leaped on and called an MRA. “They’re just-so stories” and other cut and paste arguments. They also use the arguments you use above; that because X trait is socially conditioned, then they all must be. Many gender traits *are* socially conditioned, but some are not. Male and female *brains* are (subtly) physiologically different, and there is compelling evidence that this may have social consequences (see Baron-Cohen’s work on the orbitofrontal cortex in relation to empathy and antisocial behaviour). And yes, beauty is culturally relative but there are statistical patterns that are not; such as hip to waist ratio, that seem to be cross cultural (see Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen).

            The views on such issues in AtheismPlus and the feminist blogosphere are… not exactly unbiased. I see far more emotional argumentation and name-calling. There’s a thread on A+ where someone is called a “miserable fucking idiot” for supporting evolutionary psychology (which i do not support in its entirety but on a case by case basis).

            That’s a bit like a creationist saying “do you not see that this evolution forum is based around the acceptance of evolution?”. In a certain sense it is true, in that if a creationist strolls in and ask “why are there no transitional fossils”, they are unlikely to get a friendly reception. Similarly, many feminists get tired of the same arguments being repeated again and again.

            I am afraid I must disagree. A social studies theory is not the same as a scientific theory like evolution, which is backed by fossil, genetic and other evidence. I could make the same analogy in going to an Ayn Rand forum and asking what objectivism is. Yes, they may be tired of being asked, but that doesn’t mean it is “real”.

            I think it’s an excellent idea. As I said below, I care far more about the underlying principles than I do about Atheism Plus.

            Excellent. Would you want to do something in the Atheism+ forums to encourage others to do so too? I would also be happy to make the post as an “outside”, but if you want to promote as an admin who has more clout that is fine. It would be good to harness all of these bad vibes and turn them into something good. I shall check the site over the next few days myself to find someone to donate to myself.

            Apologies for typos but I have to run.

          2. hyperdeath

            It is done: http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1109

            I’ve also started a conversation about other charities to support: http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1110

  5. 5
    Jay

    Thank you, I found this post very meaningful. I find your experiences described in your bio inspiring. I doubt I could ever have come through such in such a successful manner.

    And yes, I am by A+ standards, a bitter old white man, almost certainly a hater of women that needs to be put out to pasture. That is why I am not as sanguine about A+.

    1. 5.1
      smhll

      And yes, I am by A+ standards, a bitter old white man, almost certainly a hater of women that needs to be put out to pasture. That is why I am not as sanguine about A+.

      Yes, Jen McCreight mentioned old white men in her A+ kickoff post and at least once on twitter. I believe her point is that (educated) older white men have been over-represented in the atheist/skeptical movement in the past. There is no pogrom to remove all older white men, just a desire to see a movement that represents everybody in a more proportionate way. This is crucial if we want to have a very large movement.

      1. Jay

        “Yes, Jen McCreight mentioned old white men in her A+ kickoff post and at least once on twitter. I believe her point is that (educated) older white men have been over-represented in the atheist/skeptical movement in the past. There is no pogrom to remove all older white men, just a desire to see a movement that represents everybody in a more proportionate way. This is crucial if we want to have a very large movement.”

        Please read what you wrote once more. Than read it again.

        I don’t care that you tell me there is no pogrom. Everyone else at FtB INCLUDING PZ MYERS behaves daily like there is a pogrom. Write now, Chris Clarke at Pharyngula has written a blog post indicating the pogrom is in progress RIGHT NOW, in a paid for post (!) he reveals that at his home blog that is absolute gibberish and nothing more than a call to out and kill the evil MRAs. There is absolutely no logic in Chris Clarke’s blog post.

        OVer at Authulean Deacon Duncan, RIGHT NOW, has a post where he takes his mansword and defeats STRAW EQUITY FEMINISM. Read that blog post and realize Deacon Duncan has no clue as to what equity feminism is, but he mightily tilts at STRAW EQUITY FEMINISM.

        Over at reddit, the A+ subreddit ASKED FOR, BEGGED FOR, AND WAS taken over by SRS.

        There have been dozens of blog posts here and people here all carrying torches and pitchforks.

        “Yes, Jen McCreight mentioned old white men in her A+ kickoff post and at least once on twitter”

        THIS IS A COMPLETELY FUCKED UP WAY TO TREAT MEN.

        1. Flewellyn

          As someone of Jewish descent, I’ll thank you not to use the term “pogrom” for online disagreements.

          People deciding that they want to have a certain kind of community and a certain level of respect for people in that community, is not in the same categorical universe as murdering people and burning their homes down.

  6. 6
    ...

    As I said before, I don’t see the creation of Atheism Plus as necessarily divisive.

    Perhaps not necessarily but given that A+ starts by saying they want to throw out Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Ali etc. and then continues on to urinate over everyone who disagrees with them about anything, it’s hard to see how it can be anything but “divisive”.

    1. 6.1
      nichrome

      As jamesfrank pointed out above, it would be nice if you provided some examples. This is the Internet, you can provide link to things.

      1. ...

        See below. And bother paying attention for, oh, the last year or so.

  7. 7
    Yuppy Soul

    There is no link between atheism and social justice. Atheism talks only about your position on theism, nothing more.

    “Muslims for Secular Democracy” doesn’t divide Muslims because it’s just a factual statement. If they were called “Muslims +” that would just be ridiculous.

    You’ve automatically set in peoples minds if you aren’t part of the “+” you must be the negative or somehow lacking what the “+” have.

    1. 7.1
      rickjackson

      You’re right: atheism is merely a position on whether or not a god exists. That’s why it’s called atheism “plus”. It’s atheism with things added on to it that many of us think logically follows from the position. If you disagree that atheism doesn’t lead to the concerns outlined by atheism+, then, feel free to not be involved. Atheism+ without the plus is merely atheism. Not “atheism negative” like you hyperbolically stated. There are plenty of issues within that arena to be concerned about and plenty of organizations that are concerned with simply “atheist” issues.

      And what about the term “muslims+” would be ridiculous if it was in the context of additional ideas that a subset of the population thinks follows from their initial positions? Is it because you don’t find it aesthetically pleasing? It’s merely a label, much like atheism+ is. For me, atheism+ isn’t fundamentally different from what a lot of atheists believe. It’s more a call to arms and a pithy label. I support it much like the scarlet letter campaign that a lot of atheists apply to their blogs and profiles. I don’t particularly care for the logo, but, hey, to each their own.

      1. Yuppy Soul

        Muslim+ would be ridiculous in any context. It’s not because I don’t like the look of it, it’s because it looks like it implies it’s adding something someone who doesn’t have the “+” doesn’t have.

        Of course it implies “Atheism” lacks whatever the “+” is.

        1 + 1 = 2

        Plus actually means something in the real world, it’s pretty absurd to go tacking it onto things and then try to tell me it doesn’t imply things about others that don’t have use it.

        Cheeseburger
        Cheeseburger + Fries

        This on a menu implies the cheesburger doesn’t have any fries. It doesn’t imply that it may or may not have fries. Anyone would assume it means no fries.

        Now, if you think it doesn’t imply that, that’s great, but then it becomes completely meaningless.

        1. Scr... Archivist

          Yuppy Soul,

          I also dislike Pterryx’s name for what Jen McCreight called for (although it seems for reasons different from yours), but I suspect it’s probably too late to change it now.

          There is no link between atheism and social justice. Atheism talks only about your position on theism, nothing more.

          I disagree with your first claim there, but let’s say for now that you are right. What then do you think would have been a better name for a section of movement atheists who want to engage on these social issues (1) explicitly as atheists and (2) for the purpose of bringing to atheism more people from groups that haven’t been reached out to much?

          Should they not have described themselves as atheists even though (1) they are, and (2) they want to be clearly recognized as atheists?

          1. Yuppy Soul

            Hi,

            If you disagree with my point then tell me why. If you concede that I’m right then there’s not much to say.

            I don’t really care what they call themselves. I’m not here to make up names for atheist organisations. They can call themselves something like any of the other atheist associations out there.

            Having the word “atheist” or “atheism” in the title isn’t the issue, of course that’s fine and I’m not suggesting otherwise.

            My problem is with the absurd implications of this plus thing.

            and frankly, atheism has zero to do with social justice. You can be an atheist facist, misogynist, pacifist or anything else.

  8. 8
    mikmik

    I would like to see A+ perhaps have a fundraising drive every couple of months, or so. It would be raise funds for donations to different charities and causes, like Oxfam and Red Cross, or whatever disaster relief, programs for education…
    This would show active work that focuses on a whole range of social issues and promote, very visibly, the perception of not being just a women’s rights focused movement.
    Set goals, have the thermometer thing to show donations towards a goal, and generate interest in ‘the cause of the month’ or some such.

    I think some idea like this would show a proactive effort to combat any stigma that has already developed, rightly or wrongly.

    I’ve come to the position that I could really get behind A+ if this focus of debating their boundaries would change. There is too much emphasis being paid to what A+ should, and shouldn’t be, so let’s move beyond the talk before it becomes too entrenched.

  9. 9
    hyperdeath

    As an atheist plusser (and indeed an admin at the Atheism Plus Forum), I’d like to make the following points:

    * Atheism Plus isn’t against “old white men”. It seeks to engage the reality that people who aren’t old white men are underrepresented in the atheist and skeptic movements. As jamesfrank points out above, PZ Myers is an old white man, but no one in the A+ movement has attacked him.

    * I have no problem with you not liking atheism plus. It’s the underlying issues that count. The “if you’re against Atheism Plus then you’re a misogynist” trope is a dishonest exaggeration. It has been largely (but I admit not solely) been attributed to A+ supporters by those who really are part of the problem. For example, that infamous Richard Carrier post has been disowned by the majority of A+ supporters, but is touted as the official manifesto by many of the haters.

    1. 9.1
      ...

      * Atheism Plus isn’t against “old white men”. It seeks to engage the reality that people who aren’t old white men are underrepresented in the atheist and skeptic movements. As jamesfrank points out above, PZ Myers is an old white man, but no one in the A+ movement has attacked him.

      True in one way. A+ is against anyone with any intelligence, independence or originality. That’s why Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq get tossed out as well. That’s also why Myers gets to stay.

      Secondly, the “women in secular humanism” panel, or whatever the hell it was called, did not just attack the work of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens etc. as “old white men”, but as white supremacist. Got that?

      As in, this guy:

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Richard_Dawkins_Cooper_Union_Shankbone.jpg

      Is the same as these guys:

      http://images.wikia.com/uncyclopedia/images/0/07/Neo-nazi-35305.jpg

      Here’s a more easily understandable version of the A+ creed:

      “A+ers = shitheads”

      Nice and simple.

      1. hyperdeath

        Would you like to provide a source?

        Then again, that may not be in your interests. I find that most of these horror stories are unconvincing without a primary source, and even less convincing when the the full facts are available.

        1. ...

          Since you don’t seem to like the whole “google” thing, here you go

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=xhYKlEggiNY#t=2700s

          In case it doesn’t work, scroll to 0:44:50 and listen.

          And there we have the A+s nodding like a bunch of hood ornaments. And you will also hear this twerp saying that there are no “radical, brown” writers in Atheism. Yeah?

          Wafa Sultan. Nonie Darwish. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Salman Rushdie. Ibn Warraq. V.S. Naipaul.

          But they don’t count because they are, what’s the word? Oh, yes, “intelligent”. They do not need to base themselves on their skin colour because they have something between their ears. It’s an iron rule the only people who seek to be recognised by their skin colour or other physical characteristic is those that have not a single worthwhile intellectual characteristic to go on.

          1. hyperdeath

            See comment #15 for reply.

          2. Ophelia Benson

            That is so dishonest. It’s clearly something that is being passed around (with lots of “nodding”) because this is the second time I’ve seen it, but it’s utterly dishonest. I was not “nodding” at that passage, and I disagreed with it when I had a chance to reply.

            The first time I saw it was in comments on Ron Lindsay’s post last week. He later corroborated my version, and in doing so pointed out that he had the advantage of having been there. (So for instance he could see the whole panel, not just two people as in the video.)

    2. 9.2
      Kevin Solway

      people who aren’t old white men are underrepresented

      That’s not for you to decide. You are not God (if such a thing existed).

      There is no predetermined number of places for people of various groups, other than in your imagination.

      All people are different, and their differences should be respected.

      There might not be very many old white men working as catwalk models, but that doesn’t mean they are underrepresented in that profession.

      1. hyperdeath

        That’s not for you to decide either.

        If you take the time to examine your preconceptions, you’ll see that many people find the mainstream movement (so far as it exists) unwelcoming and even repellent. Many of these of written about it in the A+ introductions forum. It may be comforting to believe that the demographics of the atheist movement differ wildly from wider society just because, but there’s very little evidence to support such a fantasy.

        All people are different, and their differences should be respected.

        Indeed they should be. Unfortunately they’re not.

        1. Yuppy Soul

          The thing is, he’s not trying to decide who’s “underrepresented” and you are.

          There are plenty of atheists who don’t want to be represented in some “Atheist Movement” mainstream or otherwise. Which is just fine.

          The reality is, most sceptics couldn’t give a crap about any “sceptic movement” and the same (in fact more so) for atheists.

          Most people don’t want or need representing in any of these things. Whether they are old or young, women or men makes no difference.

      2. Scr... Archivist

        In a movement of hundreds of millions of people, centered on an idea that anyone can have (that is, atheism), one would expect that the demographics within that group would move toward matching the demographics of the larger society. These proportions would be almost exactly the same if we ever get to the point where practically everyone is an atheist.

        These aren’t “predetermined numbers”, but expected proportions. But I am assuming that anyone can come to atheism. Maybe that’s wrong. Do you think that women are less likely to become (or remain) atheists? Do you think that non-whites are less likely to be atheists? Do you think that young people are less likely to be atheists?

        If these kinds of people were less likely to be atheists, I would agree with you that we should not expect atheist subgroups to resemble the demographics of their larger societies. But then I would want to figure out what was the mechanism for their theistic tendency. If you think these groups tend toward theism, and will continue to do so as atheism becomes more common, what do you think are the reasons for it?

        1. Yuppy Soul

          No, you just wouldn’t except that at all. It’s not a movement of hundreds of millions of people. Most of those people are just living their lives without knowing and / or caring about any atheist movement.

          It’s not about if more women or whoever are likely to remain atheists. It’s about how many atheist women are buying into your your message about atheism. They may just not like it and more men like it, or vice versa.

          The point is, it has nothing to do with the absolute number of atheists there are. Most will never be interested in joining these movements at all.

          1. Scr... Archivist

            No, you just wouldn’t except that at all.

            I’m sorry, Yuppy Soul, but I don’t understand what you’re referring to here.

            It’s not a movement of hundreds of millions of people.

            And when it is a movement of that many people, say, a hundred years from now, I expect the demographics within the movement to be more representative of Earth’s population than it is now. But even then, I would agree with you that most atheists will be uninvolved in “the movement”, just as today’s atheists are.

            Furthermore, I don’t expect atheism to gain more adherents, or the atheist/agnostic/freethinker/secularist/humanist/etcetera movement to gain more activists, without inviting the people who have rarely been reached.

            It’s about how many atheist women are buying into your your message about atheism.

            I expect that atheist women would already like there to be more atheists in the world. (I could be wrong, though.) Other than that, I don’t know what you mean by my message.

            They may just not like it and more men like it, or vice versa.

            Please clarify, Yuppy Soul. For “they” are you referring to women in general or women who are already atheists? And for “it”, do you mean atheism as such, or atheist activism in particular.

            And however you may clarify that, I would ask if you know of any research that shows a difference between the sexes about that issue. I’d like to read such a study, especially if it put forth likely explanations for the difference.

          2. Yuppy Soul

            This comment section is getting pretty long and annoying to navigate.

            Sorry if I made some spelling / grammar errors.

            I expect that atheist women would already like there to be more atheists in the world. (I could be wrong, though.) Other than that, I don’t know what you mean by my message.

            It’s not your personal message. I mean ones message, whatever that message may be. It’s not about whether women atheists want more women atheists, although that sounds a bit bizarre. It’s about many things, the main one being most people just don’t want to get involved in this stuff. They are busy with parties, holidays, sex, drugs and rock n roll. Maybe old intellectual white man and just more boring and more interested in this stuff. who knows. the point is there is no reason to except a demographic which is the same as the population as a whole.

            My point is there’s never going to be a atheist movement of hundreds of millions of people. This would be a huge percentage of the population, as I keep saying, almost all atheists have no knowledge and / or interest in any atheist movement, let alone one that happens to be the same as yours.

            For the last bit I was referring to Atheist women, but as I stated, it could be anyone. Anyone you want to target. The “it” is your message about atheism. Not yours personally but whatever message it may be.

  10. 10
    quietmarc

    I missed the part on the forums where it was said “all” old white men were the enemy. I hope to be an old white man one day (and to some young whippersnappers I already am), and I feel completely welcome in A+.

    Thing is, privilege is real. In company meetings, I can trust that I will be given a chance to speak, that my words will be listened to and considered on their merits. In general, I know that at any function I attend, the food will be familiar to me, that I will be addressed with respect, and that I will “fit in” so long as I wear the right clothing (suit, casual, whatever). If I seek help from law enforcement or similar, I will be seen as a law abiding citizen by default, and will not have to justify why I was where I was when an incident took place. People defer to me, provide me with respect, and listen to me. There are thousands of examples big and small, many of which that are still invisible to me, where I have an advantage just because of my skin colour, my presented gender, and my economic class.

    These are facts, and they don’t make me or any other white male a bigot. It’s what we do with these facts, how we act, that can make us bigots.

    From what I have seen, the A+ movement wants people like me (and older). What they DON’T want is old white men who continue to pretend that their privilege is the natural order of things and something they deserve and why doesn’t everyone treat them more nicely?

    1. 10.1
      Kevin Solway

      What they DON’T want is old white men who continue to pretend that their privilege is the natural order of things

      That would be fine, so long as they also don’t want young white women who pretend that their privilege, or claim to privilege, is the natural order of things.

      1. quietmarc

        That’s not what I want, and I dare say that’s not what the majority of A+ advocates want, either.

        What we want is a dismantling of the societal structures that arbitrarily favour one demographic over another and that reinforce the accumulation of power into a small minority. Everybody should have the right and opportunity to live full lives with dignity and without fear of harm, regardless of accidents of birth.

        It’s not about replacing one over-privileged group with another, it’s about looking at the ways privilege helps and harms individuals and groups and finding ways to improve the lot for everyone, especially for those who currently have it rough, but not limitted to them.

    2. 10.2
      karmakin

      There’s all sorts of privilege in the world, outside of being an old white dude. There’s academic privilege, social privilege, group privilege, religious privilege, etc. I actually like your list because it puts some different things in…the food privilege one in particular is real…but that’s not something we usually see.

      Now, some of these are more prevalent than others (I would argue that religious privilege is by far the most “active” form of privilege and it isn’t even close), but they all exist to some degree.

      Where I think the problem occurs, is that people talk like all privilege is active. And what I mean by that, is that it’s something that people actively fight for and try to take advantage of. Generally speaking, most of the things you mention are positive. That is, we want to give everybody, regardless of how they are disadvantaged, the same rights. That tends to be one of the big differences between active and passive privilege, generally with active privilege we’re talking about things that are above the desired baseline…unfair advantages that NOBODY should be getting.

      This why I actually think the concept of being unprivileged is more important than the concept of being privileged.

      1. quietmarc

        I think it’s a common misperception that “privilege” is just one thing, or is “owned” by one group of people. Everybody has some kind of privilege, and it depends on the context as well. It’s a complicated idea, but it’s one that has a lot of power in describing how the world works.

        For example, I didn’t mention heterosexual privilege, and that’s because I’m gay, so some things that straight guys enjoy, I don’t get to partake in: I don’t see my relationships reflected as often in the media, for example. There are countries I dare not visit, because I could be arrested and/or killed. People will assume by looking at me that I have a girlfriend, and if they ask, I risk souring the conversation by being honest with them.

        But being a gay male comes with some privileges of its own. In the neighbourhood where I live, I’m part of the majority. There are events that are catered directly to my demographic (gay white middle class male) that could make some straight guys (as well as gay people of colour, women, trans people, people with disabilities, etc) feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. In those places, I have more privilege than pretty much any other demographic, but outside of those places, I lose privilege.

        I like your idea about being “unprivileged” but I think both concepts work in slightly different contexts.

        1. karmakin

          I do agree with what you’re saying, and that’s something else entirely. Privilege is often a very fluid thing. Someone who is unprivileged in one setting may be privileged in another setting and so on.

          As someone who agrees with all of the general goals and policy ideals of A+, my major concern is that creating an environment that fosters privilege to fight privilege might not be the best way to go about things. Now, group privilege is something that’s going to be done one way or the other, it can’t be entirely avoided. But at the very least eyes should be open.

          Why? I think it goes to your reply above, while I think you’re correct…right now..it’s been my experience that group privilege/tribalism often results in movement away from dismantling kyriarchial social structures and towards taking advantage of those social structures instead.

          When people make claims that women want this or men do this or whatever, those kyriarchial social structures…all of it…are being reinforced. You can’t pick and choose. If it’s ok to generalize, it’s ok. (It’s not ok)

          1. quietmarc

            I agree that in vs out-group attitudes are a danger. My hope is that an atheist and/or skeptical community might have easier access to some tools to help offset this tendency. I don’t feel that this is (yet) a valid criticism against the A+ movement, mostly because it’s so young and is still hashing out a lot of the internal culture. Also, because if the A+ community does become blind to its own privilege, it’ll most likely fade into obscurity, becoming one of the thousands of sub-groups that atheism is already divided into.

  11. 11
    Martyn

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit about Free thought blogs. There’s too much ‘talk’. Too many sycophants of ego-bloated authors,…

    However, anything that pisses off the ‘inactive’ atheists on these boards is a good thing. I’ll have to check out Atheism+.

    The only reason I log onto this site is to read your (Maryam’s) posts. As a supporter of ‘One Law for All’, and ‘Iran Solidarity’ more initiatives and organisations like this is what we in society need.

    Greta Christina’s and PZ Myers self congratulatory rubbish, less so.

  12. 12
    Nanonan

    You have scraped the surface of what drives these people, but it is plain to see if you step back. The reason they are A+ and not simply A is because they hate the old white rich Christian Republican man keeping them down. They are oppression fetishists, and define themselves by their childish opposition and hatred. Hate their wealthier elders so are anti-authoritarian and anti-fascist, hate whiteness even though they usually are white themselves and call themselves anti-racists, hate Christianity so are rebellious anti-theists who call themselves atheists, hate conservatism and the right and call themselves anarchists or liberals when it’s just an extension of their juvenile anti-fascism outrage. And lastly, call themselves feminists when they are the worst kind of radical, ones that fight equality and are anti-men.

    It should be Atheism Junior.

  13. 13
    feedmybrain

    @Kevin Solway

    That would be fine, so long as they also don’t want young white women who pretend that their privilege, or claim to privilege, is the natural order of things.

    Which feminists are claiming that their privilege is the natural order of things?
    A point to correct from your earlier post; radical feminism is not the same as feminism. A+ has nothing to do with RadFem and isn’t specifically feminist either.

    1. 13.1
      Kevin Solway

      Radical feminism is not the same as feminism.

      Yes, I realize that, since I consider myself to be a feminist.

      However, I strongly oppose the kind of feminism that is upheld by FTB and A+, since I regard that to be radical feminism.

      I don’t believe in things like “patriarchy”, or the idea that there are misogynists/rapists everywhere.

      A+ has nothing to do with RadFem and isn’t specifically feminist either.

      I think that’s for observers to decide.

      Islam might claim to be the religion of peace, but that doesn’t mean that it is.

      1. quietmarc

        There are certainly people who don’t believe in things like “evolution” but consider themselves to be biologists.

        “Patriarchy” and “rape culture” are things that exist and for which there is supporting evidence in several fields inclusing psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The evidence may be more or less convincing, but you don’t get to dismiss entire fields of study just because you disagree with the conclusions.

        1. Kevin Solway

          . . .just because you disagree with the conclusions.

          I don’t just disagree with the conclusions – I disagree with the basic assumptions, the methods, the interpretations, and the conclusions. And there are probably other things I disagree with too.

          You can’t equate the belief in “patriarchy”, and other feminist theory, with evolution. There’s hard evidence for evolution, and there’s definitely not hard evidence for feminist theory.

          1. quietmarc

            Well, someone tell academia, they’ve been found out, better pack it up. We have a person here who, in good faith, took the time to learn the “basic assumptions, the methods, the interpretations, and the conclusions” of psychology, sociology, and anthropology and has discovered they are all useless.

            I guess we’ve all had one pulled over on us by “Big Psych”. That’s a relief. Now I’ll change my degree and study a big hard MANLY science like physics where we actually learn about how humans behave and why.

  14. 14
    Flewellyn

    I’m a bit distressed that you would give credence to the arguments of trolls. Particularly when the evidence of their bad faith is available for all to see.

    I’m a white man, and I recognize that I have societal privilege because of that. But, I support the goals of A+, and indeed, I help out on the forums as a moderator.

    Those who state that A+ is just opposed to all white men are trolling.

  15. 15
    hyperdeath

    As I said, most of these stories become much less convincing when sources are provided. Perhaps all those chips on your shoulder are obstructing your hearing?

    That speech you refer to ended without her getting an applause. Ophelia Benson then criticized her, for which she did get an applause. Even if there were A+ supporters in the audience (which would have required time travel), they didn’t show much enthusiasm.

    Furthermore, she never said that there were no brown voices in the movement. She said that they were underrepresented. The “white supremacist” comment was ridiculous hyperbole, but she hardly made them out to be strutting Nazis.

    1. 15.1
      hyperdeath

      This was intended as a reply for “…” above.

  16. 16
    mikmik

    I think there is a huge difference in focus between fighting against privileged, or even including it as a consideration, and fighting against oppression and/or for the underprivileged.
    Fight racism and sexism, fight poverty, fight for rights. Any mention of, or interest in fighting privileged, or blaming privileged groups for their interest in maintaining the status quo, becomes inflammatory in short order.
    I am starting to despise hearing the terms ‘privilege’ and ‘privileged’ because it victimizes and polarizes.

    The instant you start singling out specific group X as oppressors, ‘even if we don’t mean all X’s’ there will arguments and disagreements about the intent behind these sentiments.

    It also implies a top down method of change, which is futile in the best of short to mid term scenarios.

    Fighting against sexism, racism, objectification of women in our society, is more appreciable and less polarizing. There are scads of women that make a career out of objectifying themselves, ads in magazines, stereotyping in reality TV, et-bloody-cetera.

    Fight for equal opportunity and pay, for the eradication of poverty and situations like lack of health care – which predominantly affects women, and their children – and the villains are illuminated by default.

    There are a fuck of a lot of what I consider imbeciles, men AND women, that vote for flagrant abusers of privilege and transparent liars, like tea partier/baggers (LOL), orthodox and fundamentalist religious women, … I’m sure you get my point.

    Fighting for the underprivileged is far more admirable than fighting against privilege specifically.

    Obviously, appearance is everything in most endeavors these days, and it is much harder to criticize heroes rather than rebels.

    1. 16.1
      Scr... Archivist

      Any mention of, or interest in fighting privileged, or blaming privileged groups for their interest in maintaining the status quo, becomes inflammatory in short order.

      Even if a movement followed your laudable suggestion, they would not be able to control their opponents’ mentioning themselves and making the debate inflammatory.

      Consider the movement for marriage equality. They have been fighting for rights and not against anyone, as you recommend. But many Christian groups in the U.S. have volunteered to mention, loudly, that changing marriage laws is a kind of bigotry against themselves, and a threat to Christianity.

      You can be as positive and non-threatening as you want. Some opponents will build their strategy around a polarization you never wanted.

      1. karmakin

        I think that comparing…anything really…to religious privilege is probably unfair. Religious privilege is by far…it’s not even close…the privilege in which people put the most time, effort and resources into actively maintaining and taking advantage of.

        A different way to frame the marriage equality debate, and I think that it’s the accurate one, is that it’s not really about homosexuality. It’s about religious types proving that they can still throw their weight around and have moral and social privilege in our society. That’s the religious privilege here.

      2. mikmik

        Yeah, it’s definitely not realistic to expect a significant number of participants, let alone a persuasive majority, to behave in a sparklingly admirable way, as you point out, in almost every situation.
        As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, even I couldn’t always maintain such a veneer of non-confrontationalism. Anger and blaming, it seems to me, is almost always a motivator to take action. However, I imagine that it is possible and practiced in groups like Doctors Without Borders, although I’m not familiar, at all, with the particulars in this, or any, instance of an ideological fight against injustice.

        Thanks for reminding me to be realistic.

    2. 16.2
      Nick Gotts

      I am starting to despise hearing the terms ‘privilege’ and ‘privileged’ because it victimizes and polarizes.

      The instant you start singling out specific group X as oppressors – mikmik

      Which, of course, “privileged” does not do. I know the term has been explained to you numerous times, so I conclude that you are simply being dishonest.

      1. mikmik

        It’s prejudicial. You can conclude anything you want about me, but don’t blame your opinion on events that haven’t even transpired. Since when do you think I let other people define what words do, and do not, mean, especially if their definition is artificially constrained when it suits them?

        And, since when do you think I don’t rely on a few dictionaries for my understanding?

        privileged
        adjective
        1. special, powerful, advantaged, favoured, ruling, honoured, entitled, elite, indulged They were a wealthy and privileged elite.

        Generalizing that white males are privileged accomplishes what, do you surmise? Calling feminists privileged white females says what? Here, KG, I’ll fill you in. It implies that feminists should STFU because they have it better than all other women, and do not have a right to be activist or complain. THAT IS WHAT IT IS USED FOR, TO IMPLY SPECIAL STATUS FOR PREJUDICIAL PURPOSES.

        ‘Privileged’ is used to imply agenda, and it used to generalize and stereotype.

        Anything else you want to know?

        1. Timid Atheist

          Generalizing that white males are privileged accomplishes what, do you surmise? Calling feminists privileged white females says what? Here, KG, I’ll fill you in. It implies that feminists should STFU because they have it better than all other women, and do not have a right to be activist or complain. THAT IS WHAT IT IS USED FOR, TO IMPLY SPECIAL STATUS FOR PREJUDICIAL PURPOSES.

          ‘Privileged’ is used to imply agenda, and it used to generalize and stereotype.

          I’m going to link to a site that explains privilege and how to be an ally when you have privilege. Having privilege doesn’t mean white women don’t get to voice the problems they have with sexism. It means they have to realize that they will never have it as bad as a woman of color and that when they fight against sexims, they should be doing it for all women, not just white women. (It’s not just black people that encounter racism from white people, thus the women of color usage.)

          http://www.becominganally.ca/Becoming_an_Ally/Home.html

          Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns. Allies include men who work to end sexism, white people who work to end racism, heterosexual people who work to end heterosexism, able-bodied people who work to end ableism, and so on. Part of becoming an ally is also recognizing one’s own experience of oppression. For example, a white woman can learn from her experience of sexism and apply it in becoming an ally to people of colour, or a person who grew up in poverty can learn from that experience how to respect others’ feelings of helplessness because of a disability.

          It isn’t a sterotype to say that white men have privilege. They all do, it’s inherent in how the world treats them. Other factors may make it harder for them, being poor, being raised in a neighborhood where white people are in the minority, etc. But white privilege is still a thing and it still gives people an advantage. Until that is no longer the case, it will remain that way and it requires that white people and men recognize their privilege and not use it as an excuse to treat others poorly.

          1. mikmik

            Thanks, Timid Atheist. I do generalize too much with the term privilege. In the context used in the book, that is not at all inflammatory, and I like the use there to describe an ally. I would be one, and I think philanthropists and people like Warren Buffet might be considered allies also, I think.

            But I still think it is over-used and mis-applied as a method to imply blame, and it isn’t just activists that use the term, or negatively so.

            My beef, lol, is that it’s not framed in the manner of the book. I’v seen it used regularly, to the point that there are objections elsewhere to the way it is applied. I think the use of the privilege is problematic and generally opens a whole can of worms, and I really don’t like paying attention to it – except, of course, used as in the book(I can’t see the link to look at the title!).

            What I was thinking is how it isn’t used in the secular humanists manifesto, and the Declaration of Human Rights. Look at the focus in the preamble, and the whole document itself. There is no mention of privilege, and it gives it a certain purity of purpose:

            PREAMBLE

            Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

            Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

            Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

            Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

            Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

            Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

            Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

            Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

            Here as well, the term is never used, and what that accomplishes(my bolding):

            The Foundation of International Human Rights Law
            The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law. Adopted in 1948, the UDHR has inspired a rich body of legally binding international human rights treaties. It continues to be an inspiration to us all whether in addressing injustices, in times of conflicts, in societies suffering repression, and in our efforts towards achieving universal enjoyment of human rights.

            It represents the universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status, the international community on December 10 1948 made a commitment to upholding dignity and justice for all of us.

            Foundation for Our Common Future …

            That is what I mean. There is no ‘privileged’ that is eliminated or blamed, we all know that there are privileged positions in EVERY social culture universally.

            Again, thanks Timid Atheist. I am aware of that usage, and if it is framed correctly, it is inoffensive. That’s the point, though, that it always has to be framed, because the common usage – dictionary meaning – means what it means, and it is trouble when people pretend otherwise. It is unclear that something other than it’s strict meaning is supposed, at the best of times.
            Frankly, it comes across as a word game, to me at least, and claiming a secondary meaning is just good ole plausible denyability. It seems to me!

            Thanks again, and I will try to be more aware of how it is used, but I just think using the word at all is troublesome.

  17. 17
    mikmik

    I meant day care, not health care, although it’s a valid example itself.

  18. 18
    Scr... Archivist

    Yuppy Soul, at the end of Thread #7

    and frankly, atheism has zero to do with social justice.

    The dictionary does not require it, no, but for a great many of us there is a connection. This is simply because we need certain basic social arrangements just to be allowed to be atheists, and to allow others to discover it.

    Religion still has a stranglehold on much of the world, even in parts of North America and Europe. Defending our rights is acting for social justice, even if we act only in defense of our freedom of conscience on religious matters. We still get a lot of opposition, at least here in North America, from people who don’t want us to reach out to other atheists or questioners (as with billboards, for example), for example. And we even take to court those who don’t want to surrender the social deference that religiosity still has (as with crosses on public property and commandments on courthouses).

    And that’s the comparatively easy stuff. A lot more work lies ahead for people such as Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Alexander Aan, and Alber Saber, and who knows how many others around the world.

    Sure, you could have an atheist in a theocracy who chooses to play it safe, but how much longer would there be atheists in such a society? Hell, with enough pressure even that last atheist might recant. Or you could have an atheist in a utopia that needs no improvement, but none of us live there. To continue to be atheists, to be free to communicate with people who want to learn about it, and to create an environment that has ditched the unwarranted stigma against atheism, still requires engagement with the larger society. Even if only in defense of atheism, and for no other social justice issue.

    1. 18.1
      Yuppy Soul

      A “connection” doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

      The rest of your comment is completely irrelevant. Things that have a connection are not the same.

      The freedoms you speak of can and are defended by theists and atheists alike.

      They are also violated by both.

      1. Scr... Archivist

        Yuppy Soul,

        The comments are indeed getting harder to read, so I’ll address several of your points here.

        10:57pm

        A “connection” doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

        I agree; they are not the same thing. However, I do think that atheism has more than “zero to do with social justice”, as you put it, for the reasons I already stated.

        The link is not in the dictionary, but it is found in what many atheists actually do by participating in organized atheism. And by organized atheism, I don’t just mean counter-apologetic discussion boards or coffeehouse conversations, as good as those things are. I mean pressure groups like, for example, the one to which our hostess belongs.

        12:04pm

        You’ve automatically set in peoples minds if you aren’t part of the “+” you must be the negative or somehow lacking what the “+” have.

        9:38pm

        My problem is with the absurd implications of this plus thing.

        What absurd implications do you see? From your comments at 12:04 and 5:33 I think you are saying it’s absurd to imply that dictionary atheists are *opposed* to social justice rather than just disconnected from it. Is that what you mean?

        4:13pm

        There are plenty of atheists who don’t want to be represented in some “Atheist Movement” mainstream or otherwise. Which is just fine.

        Sure. Most people are not interested in lobbying or conferences or public policy debates or lawsuits or media work or any of the other aspects of socio-political movements. And some other people live in places that already respect their rights so they don’t feel the need to do that kind of work.

        But there are plenty of atheists who do want to participate in the atheist movement, but who have felt resistance from other atheists. My understanding of Atheism+ is that part of its mission is to make room for those new people who want to participate, especially those from groups that have not yet participated much. I don’t understand why that should be controversial.

        1. Yuppy Soul

          my reply on #22

  19. 19
    Miles

    I think not being an A+er is like not being on the ACLU mailing list.

    Being a member says a lot about you while not being a member doesn’t say much.

    At least, that was my impression. Their attitude seems more like “with us, or not with us, or against us.” I’m not “joining” anything – I’ll pay attention, I’ll read, I might agree and I might not. I don’t think Rebecca Watson or PZ are going to come to my house and take away my Atheism t-shirt if I just watch this whole thing from the sidelines.

    The only real hate I’ve seen from that group has been against the trolls and flamers. I could be wrong – I’ve got no credentials and don’t speak for anyone, just tossing out what I’m seeing from the bleachers.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    Miles – you do realize that both Rebecca and PZ have explicitly said that they’re not part of Atheism+, yes? Or do you. Anyway if anyone were going to take your T shirt away, it wouldn’t be either of them!

    1. 20.1
      Miles

      Doh! Obviously not observing closely enough….

  21. 21
    Phil S

    Please Maryam, for the sake of the actual important work you do, stay above all this petty bullshit.

    (I’m sure you will, I’m just expressing my support)

  22. 22
    Yuppy Soul

    Sorry, this is pretty damn long.

    I agree; they are not the same thing. However, I do think that atheism has more than “zero to do with social justice”, as you put it, for the reasons I already stated.

    The link is not in the dictionary, but it is found in what many atheists actually do by participating in organized atheism. And by organized atheism, I don’t just mean counter-apologetic discussion boards or coffeehouse conversations, as good as those things are. I mean pressure groups like, for example, the one to which our hostess belongs.

    Fine, scratch the word “zero” obviously that was an exaggeration. My beef wasn’t with you pointing out connections (quite rightly) it’s with you trying to lump this social justice thing with the word “atheism”. It just doesn’t fly.

    Because you see links doesn’t make them the same. If lots of atheists were in fact humanists it wouldn’t mean atheism means humanism. You can’t just go around making up your own definitions of what atheism is, it’s confusing and pointless.

    Connections with social justice and atheism? of course, no problem with that.

    What absurd implications do you see? From your comments at 12:04 and 5:33 I think you are saying it’s absurd to imply that dictionary atheists are *opposed* to social justice rather than just disconnected from it. Is that what you mean?

    I already explained this. Firstly, can we please get away from this idea of a “dictionary atheist”. Like I said an atheist is an atheist. There is no non-dictionary atheist, you can’t make up definitions and think I will accept them.

    I went over what I think is absurd with my menu example. I’m not sure what your question is. You set the question up in such a way that the options are imply “opposed” or “just disconnected” I’m not sure I would accept either or not. In other words I’m not sure what you are driving at.

    Cheeseburger on the menu is defined thing, we all no what it is.

    Cheeseburger on a menu doesn’t imply anything but a Cheeseburger. As soon as you add “Cheeseburger + Fries” to the menu. Now there is a strong implication that the “Cheeseburger” on the menu that doesn’t have the “+ Fries” doesn’t have fries. Atheism+ has the same implication. Whatever the “+” means, it wouldn’t seem to need stating unless “Atheism” didn’t cover it.

    But there are plenty of atheists who do want to participate in the atheist movement, but who have felt resistance from other atheists. My understanding of Atheism+ is that part of its mission is to make room for those new people who want to participate, especially those from groups that have not yet participated much. I don’t understand why that should be controversial.

    It depends what you are calling “plenty”. As I have stated more than once most atheists don’t want to be in these movements. To be clear I mean millions more. The number in these groups will never reach the hundreds of millions as you were talking about early. There just aren’t enough people on earth who would want to join these groups. Whatever happens, and of course as the population of atheists goes up the need for these groups does down.

    It’s controversial one because of the name, as I have been over.

    On a sidenote this whole

    especially those from groups that have not yet participated much

    thing just smacks too much of politician weasel talk. As I have gone over already, the demographics of a group don’t need to be the same as the general population.

    Your organisation (again, not you personally or Atheism+) should be open to everyone anyway.

    1. 22.1
      Scr... Archivist

      Sorry, this is pretty damn long.

      That’s okay. Thanks for hanging in there.

      I don’t think we disagree about too many things in this discussion, but that may mean it’s more difficult to understand where we differ.

      Because you see links doesn’t make them the same. If lots of atheists were in fact humanists it wouldn’t mean atheism means humanism.

      I think we agree about this. So maybe the problem we’re facing is how to choose labels for people who inhabit *multiple* categories.

      You can’t just go around making up your own definitions of what atheism is, it’s confusing and pointless.

      I do not think that one *has* to be socially- or politically-engaged to be an atheist, so I’m happy with the standard definition. It does its job well.

      When we are talking about any or all atheists as atheists, the standard meaning of the term applies. But what happens when we look at subsets? The variety of atheists that we have today necessitates the use of modifying adjectives. The adjectives do not change the meaning of the noun in itself, but they do give us additional information about some of the people to whom that noun applies.

      Your menu metaphor is a good one. A hamburger and a “hamburger with cheese” are the same, except one has something added. It does imply, as you suggest, that the latter has cheese and the former does not. Your example with the fries is another illustration of this, where “cheeseburger” by itself does not include fries.

      Atheism+ has the same implication. Whatever the “+” means, it wouldn’t seem to need stating unless “Atheism” didn’t cover it.

      Right. This is consistent with what you have written about the meaning of the word “atheist”, that the term itself does not suggest a belief in social justice. So, I think that’s why a modifying adjective was sought.

      I think I follow your logic, so I don’t understand if there really is any disagreement about this part. Maybe I’m missing something?

      I don’t see any problem with someone identifying as an atheist (if that’s what they really are, of course) and nothing else. Nor, referring to your earlier example, do I see a problem with someone identifying as an atheist and a humanist. As you pointed out, neither of these qualities necessarily implies the other. Even phrasing it as “a humanist atheist” signals to me that the adjective is not part of the meaning of the noun. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need the adjective.

      So let me ask, how would you make the distinction between these two kinds of people if we were discussing them? The first person is just someone who believes in no gods, and that’s as far as that goes. Rather than “dictionary atheist” would you prefer something else? Perhaps “plain”, “basic”, “default”, “standard”, or maybe “vanilla”? In talking about the second person, the humanist atheist, how would you describe them when making a distinction between them and the first person?

      The number in these groups will never reach the hundreds of millions as you were talking about early.

      Yes, that is too optimistic. Maybe tens of millions would be a more realistic goal. 0.2% of the population, most of them just writing letters to their legislators or going to the occasional pub gathering, over the centuries (if not millennia) needed to make atheism non-controversial and the default for most people.

      As I have gone over already, the demographics of a group don’t need to be the same as the general population.

      Among all atheists, only a subset want to be involved in the atheist movement. Agreed. But within that subset of interested persons, some find opposition to their participation by other atheists inside and outside the movement. It doesn’t even matter how many excluded people it is if they are interested and there is no good reason for them to be excluded. This issue has been a major theme of the recent discussions, and one of the reasons for Jen McCreight’s “Boys Club” post. I agree with her that it is worthwhile to remove arbitrary and unfounded barriers to voluntary participation.

      1. Yuppy Soul

        Again, it’s really long and I didn’t have time to double check for errors. Sorry if there are any.

        I do not think that one *has* to be socially- or politically-engaged to be an atheist, so I’m happy with the standard definition. It does its job well.

        Agreed. But my point is that things like social or political ideas are not atheism. Perceived connections (whether valid or not) don’t make for a definition. Things like Atheism+ bastardize this definition and muddy the waters.

        When we are talking about any or all atheists as atheists, the standard meaning of the term applies. But what happens when we look at subsets? The variety of atheists that we have today necessitates the use of modifying adjectives.

        I can’t agree with this. Everyone is a subset. Subsets are rarely useful.

        I really think they aren’t needed in almost all cases. But I’m failing to see why you think my objection to the name Atheist+ somehow means there’s no good names left. There are 100s of atheist and related groups that have no problem with names. If there’s an atheist group called “The Atheist Association” or something generic, why can’t i join that? if I find they are assholes, I can join something else and it indeed make an organisation with all the adjectives I want.

        Rather than “dictionary atheist” would you prefer something else? Perhaps “plain”, “basic”, “default”, “standard”, or maybe “vanilla”?

        What I mean is that I prefer “Atheist” to mean just that. No other words are needed or wanted. The definition shouldn’t change based on your group.

        There is no dictionary atheist in the sense there’s no dictionary cat.

        If you really mean only for example “Big Cats” that’s what you say, you don’t change the meaning of “cat” or call it “dictionary cat” like theres some other type of cat.

        In talking about the second person, the humanist atheist, how would you describe them when making a distinction between them and the first person?

        Well, like I said I don’t find these labels very useful. Most of the time you don’t care if an atheist is in some subset.

        But let’s presume for a moment you do care. You did a decent job of it just there, if we need the term we can use it. If what we really care about in our association is atheism and humanism we can call it “The Society for Atheism and Humanism” or whatever better name you can think of.

        You see this a lot. I’m not seeing the problem there.

        Yes, that is too optimistic. Maybe tens of millions would be a more realistic goal. 0.2% of the population, most of them just writing letters to their legislators or going to the occasional pub gathering, over the centuries (if not millennia) needed to make atheism non-controversial and the default for most people.

        Again, I don’t agree. A country like Sweden for example has a huge population of atheists with very little of this type of thing.

        In these countries it is the default. I’m guessing you are in the USA? If you are then well obviously that’s a pretty unique situation.

        I would think a lot more of these stuff needs to go on in the US than other places. Maybe as a percentage of the US population I would agree with you, but wouldn’t agree that it follows across the world.

        It doesn’t even matter how many excluded people it is if they are interested and there is no good reason for them to be excluded.

        I couldn’t agree with that more. Not excluding people is the key.

        This includes by the way said “Old White Men” they also shouldn’t be made to feel like they aren’t wanted in the association.

        This focus on peoples colour, gender or status I find frankly pretty ridiculous in this day and age.

        It should go without saying you don’t want racist, homophobic etc etc behaviour in your association.

        We should look at removing barriers were there any. But I do find it hard to read a lot of posts on FTB nowadays. When you start talking about DJ Grothies problems with some feminist bloggers, people calling you a “cunt” and trying to get you fired like they are the same thing. That’s not breaking down barriers, it’s building them.

        1. mikmik

          Very well put.

        2. Scr... Archivist

          I can’t agree with this. Everyone is a subset. Subsets are rarely useful.

          If that were so, then there would be little point in talking about atheists at all. And yet, here we are.

          If you mean that discussing subsets is rarely useful, I disagree. They exist, and they behave differently from each other. So, our discussion benefits from having different terms to distinguish one subset from another, and each subset from the general set.

          But I’m failing to see why you think my objection to the name Atheist+ somehow means there’s no good names left.

          That’s not what I think. I may have mentioned that I would have suggested different names.

          Here is where I see your contradiction:

          On one hand you say that the term “big cat” does not change the meaning of the word “cat”.

          And on the other hand you say that the term “Atheism+” does change the meaning of the word “atheism”.

          I don’t see how you can hold both views at the same time. I am agreeing with you on the former, and by using your own analysis it follows that the term “Atheism+” does not change the meaning of the word “atheism”. I hope you see what I’m pointing out.

          Now, maybe you will agree that there is no re-definition here, but will further say that the plus sign doesn’t do enough to make a distinction between itself and atheism without the plus. That’s a different argument.

          There are 100s of atheist and related groups that have no problem with names. … Things like Atheism+ bastardize this definition and muddy the waters.

          Again, are you arguing that the term “Atheism+” makes too small of a distinction between itself and the word “atheism”?

          If there’s an atheist group called “The Atheist Association” or something generic, why can’t i join that? if I find they are assholes, I can join something else and it indeed make an organisation with all the adjectives I want.

          Pterryx’s first suggestion was “inclusive atheism”, which is more clearly “adjectivized” than “atheism +”. Are you saying they should have used a modifying words that are larger than a math symbol, or maybe even more than one adjective? If so, I think I would agree. (But then again why should they listen to either of us when we are not involved with their tendency?)

          Well, like I said I don’t find these labels very useful. Most of the time you don’t care if an atheist is in some subset.

          Most of the time. And when the rest of us do want to make the distinction, we use more-specific terms. You don’t have to participate in these discussions, but you should understand that that is what the rest of us are doing.

          I’m guessing you are in the USA? If you are then well obviously that’s a pretty unique situation.

          I am, and we certainly are a different culture from much of western Europe. But there are other parts of the world that are as religious as the U.S., if not more so. This work is going to take centuries, and people from many walks of life.

          I couldn’t agree with that more. Not excluding people is the key.

          Sure. Unless there is a good reason, as you point at with your examples of racism and homophobia. In fact, I’d probably be willing to include people who have recovered from such prejudices and changed their behavior.

          This includes by the way said “Old White Men” they also shouldn’t be made to feel like they aren’t wanted in the association.

          Sure. And I say that not merely out of my own self-interest.

          This focus on peoples colour, gender or status I find frankly pretty ridiculous in this day and age.

          It is, but a lot of people still do it, using it to step on people just like they always have. Legal changes in the West are still recent, and changes in social expectations and attitudes are even slower. Those who want to compensate for this ill treatment will redouble outreach and recruitment to people in groups that have been (or still are) excluded.

          That’s not breaking down barriers, it’s building them.

          It’s not a matter of only building or only breaking down barriers. I see both things happening, in two different ways.

          One part of this is an attempt to include people who have been excluded without good reason, while building barriers against those who want to reinforce the arbitrary and unreasoned exclusion. At the same time, this attempt to break barriers for some people is being interpreted by some others as the building of barriers against themselves. For this last group, I don’t think their interpretation is accurate. They should still be involved, and experience the benefits of having greater numbers as well as new ambassadors to work with.

          1. Yuppy Soul

            I’ve tried to keep the word count down, but its not working too well.

            So, our discussion benefits from having different terms to distinguish one subset from another, and each subset from the general set.

            Potentially it is useful of course. But it’s rarely used in a useful way. More to create a type of “us and them” thing.

            But as I say, everything is a subset, it depends how much you wanna drill down. But I think it’s a minor point. No problem with subsets in the right context.

            Here is where I see your contradiction:

            On one hand you say that the term “big cat” does not change the meaning of the word “cat”.

            And on the other hand you say that the term “Atheism+” does change the meaning of the word “atheism”.

            Now, maybe you will agree that there is no re-definition here, but will further say that the plus sign doesn’t do enough to make a distinction between itself and atheism without the plus. That’s a different argument.

            My point was about the bastardizing of the word “atheism”, as I’ve been over there are big implications chucked out there when you tack “+” on the end of things.

            They aren’t re-defining anything but as I say the implication suggests “atheism” lacks something that “atheism+”. Of course atheism doesn’t lack anything that atheism+ has, which is my point.

            I think the confusion here is i’m talking about implication not flat out re-definition.

            Again, are you arguing that the term “Atheism+” makes too small of a distinction between itself and the word “atheism”?

            No, I’m arguing that it makes implications about “atheism” which are false.

            How big the distinction is doesn’t bother me.

            Pterryx’s first suggestion was “inclusive atheism”, which is more clearly “adjectivized” than “atheism +”. Are you saying they should have used a modifying words that are larger than a math symbol, or maybe even more than one adjective? If so, I think I would agree. (But then again why should they listen to either of us when we are not involved with their tendency?)

            You seem to have the idea that I’m worried about what they are called.

            As long as there’s no implications on atheism (like everyone elses name) I have no problem. You can have a million adjectives or none, it’s all good to me.

            “The Atheist Group” – No problem with that, doesn’t say enough you could argue, but is factually.

            “The Society for Atheism, Social Justice and rights for Animals”

            Again fine, add as much detail as you want.

            It is, but a lot of people still do it, using it to step on people just like they always have. Legal changes in the West are still recent, and changes in social expectations and attitudes are even slower. Those who want to compensate for this ill treatment will redouble outreach and recruitment to people in groups that have been (or still are) excluded.

            So what? of course people still do it, they always will. The point is to challenge it and stand up against it. Not good trying to recruit people based on gender, race etc.

            I find that just a complete backward idea. It feeds racism and sexism, it doesn’t help it. When groups see other groups being targeted for no good reason but their race, this feeds their prejudice. This is a much bigger problem than some atheism group lacking women or whatever group.

            The idea should be to allow all genders, races etc to feel free to join not have quotas.

            One part of this is an attempt to include people who have been excluded without good reason, while building barriers against those who want to reinforce the arbitrary and unreasoned exclusion. At the same time, this attempt to break barriers for some people is being interpreted by some others as the building of barriers against themselves. For this last group, I don’t think their interpretation is accurate. They should still be involved, and experience the benefits of having greater numbers as well as new ambassadors to work with.

            I have no idea who you are referring to in this. I was referring to the article you cited.

            I’m not sure why you want to make a speech about what they are attempting (are we talking about atheism+?).

            I’ve been over why I think trying to recruit someone based on gender or race is absurd.

  23. 23
    DaveL

    From the content of this thread, I think it’s plain to see in which direction the hate, invective, demonization, and invective is flowing.

  24. 24
    Quine

    At the most basic level Atheism is about the truth re the existence of deities. This search for truth is quickly connected to behavior in our lives because of the common idea that our behaviors should conform to moral codes and moral codes have traditionally come from faith in deities. Thus, the religious ask us, “If you don’t believe, then where do you get your morals?” Social justice is traditionally a function of morals, just as legal justice is a function of the legal codes. Taking a position of what social justice “ought” to be is a statement of morals. If you jump to the conclusion without working for consensus at each step on the way, you can’t help but have different groups going in different directions. (more here)

  25. 25
    fly44d

    Good points Maryam and understand. This old white guy likes A+ and doesn’t feel excluded/threatened by it. It fits me because I’ve always been atheist and only recently am paying more attention about social justice. It is the right thing at the right time for me.

  26. 26
    chriscole

    I’m a member of Atheism+Christ.

    It’s a new group that is cool like Atheists but we also accept the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ!

    I’m an “old wealthy white man” but let me tell ya, I’m not threatened by accepting Jesus!

    So get on board with Atheism Plus Christ!

    … this is basically what feminists have become, trolls.

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