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Why I am an atheist – Jim Mader

During my weekly jaunt to the grocery store, I was standing outside looking at all the fresh produce. Veggies and fruits arranged in slanted baskets with brilliant colors of red apples, yellow grapefruits, green peppers, orange…..oranges. A sight for the eyes. It kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Picking through the star fruit and kiwi’s (I’m making fruit salsa today) I hear a voice from behind me. The words are slurred and full of saliva. “R’s” are pronounced “W”, and “S’s” are “Th’s”. It’s the voice of a mentally handicapped man. He’s every bit of forty years old. (my age) His left arm curled to his chest, hand clenched around what appears to be one of those Beenie Babies.

“Hello, a-aa-Apple Man.” He says to me while wiping his chin with the back of his hand. “You lookin’ for apples?”

“Yes, and some other fruit.” I responded. “What are you going to get.”

“I’m going to b-bb-buy a sucker. Cherry. They have the b-bb–best cherry suckers in the whoooole world!” the handicapped man-child says with excitement.

“They DO?” I say, “Well, I’ll have to buy one and try it.”

“Y-yy-you s-ss-should….they cost 205 dollars! Mom gives me the money.”

“Awesome!” I exclaim. “Where’s your mom now?”

“S-ss-she had a t-tt-tumor on her head and died.”
At this point, I realize that this man-child is a ward of the state. Too “young in the mind” to hold a job or live on his own without assistance. This simple minded man is alone. He is most definitely frustrated. And I feel like in a way, we are one. I think about this in a brief moment of silence. Man-child notices.
“W-ww-watcha thinking about, Apple Man?”

“I like you.” I tell him in an attempt to help him feel ‘normal’ (how many of us are actually ‘normal’?) what are you doing after you buy the sucker?”

“G-gg-gonna go walk to Scoreboards and water the flowers. They give me ONE DOLLAR for every pot!” Man-boy announces with the pride of someone with a high paying job.
“A dollar, huh? That’s good money if you ask me. Listen, I want you to help me pick out some fruit. Can you do that?’

“S-ss-sure, Apple Man. I can do that. But it’ll cost you a d-dd-dollar.”

This man-boy is fucking smarter than I thought. “I’ll tell you what. You pick me out a coupe of really red apples, one green one, and a pear and I’ll give you FIVE dollars.”

“FIVE DOLLARS?!?!? You must be a d-dd-doctor!”

His saying this as though I had some sort of high profile employment reminded me of my own children when they would look under the grass of their Easter baskets to find the money the bunny left them (An old tradition of ours) Back then a QUARTER was treasure. With a quarter, my children thought they could buy anything their grubby little hands could point at.

“No,” I say. “I’m a carpenter.”

“L-ll-like Jesus!” he observes.

(He doesn’t realize the irony in this assessment.) “Yeah, like Jesus.” I affirm.

I hand Man-Boy a couple of bags and tell him to make sure the red apples go into one bag and the green in another. He asks me what to do with the pear, and I tell him to get it last and that we didn’t need a bag. He hands me his Beenie Baby and walks over to the racks of fruit.

One by one, Man-Boy picks up an apple, carefully examines it, smells it. He turns it left. Right. Upside down. Man-Boy holds it up to me for approval and I nod. “That’s a FINE apple. We’ll take it.” Gleefully, he places it in the bag and grabs another, examining it, smelling it, etc. Each piece of fruit he selects, he holds sup for me to give a nod. A few have obvious bruises on them and are rejected.

“It’s ok, little apple, someone hungrier than Apple Man will buy you.” he says as he delicately places the bruised apple at the top of the slanted basket so someone (in his mind) would be sure to select it first. Even an inanimate object holds some sort of importance to him. Maybe he’s just smart enough to know what rejection really means.
After all of our fruit is picked. (I ended up letting him select the rest of the ingredients–pineapple, mango, strawberries, a lime, a jalepeno pepper and a few stalks of cilantro) I ask him if he wants to push my cart into the store so I could pay. This seems to make him feel very important, and again I am reminded how my children used to fight over who could push the cart in the grocery store.

At the register, Man-Boy places each bag of fruit onto the belt with the care of a surgeon. Each item is weighed, and my total comes to around $20 or so. I can see the display where the best cherry suckers are and I tell Man-Boy I’d gladly pay for his sucker.

“Thanks, Apple Man.” He says.

I think about how his life must have been. I think about how his mother was probably his only care-giver up until she died from that damn tumor “on her head.” I wonder how he manages to go on from day to day. But I realize, he doesn’t know any better. To him, relying on the kindness of others and the care of probably some sort of nurse is just a part of everyday life. I wonder what it must be like to merely EXIST.

I realize that this simple man’s face brightens every time he smiles. Even with his crooked teeth that are a result of his swollen tongue. The Man-Boy is full of light. He doesn’t “merely EXIST.” the Man-Boy LIVES. He inspires. (Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog)

I tell him to meet me outside, and that I’ll give him another dollar if he loads the bags into my truck. As soon as I see he has left the building to wait for me, I grab EVERY FUCKING CHERRY SUCKER that the store had and buy them. I tell the cashier to please place them in a separate bag. At least thirty of them. All the sticks poking through the plastic bag and it looks like some sort of giant Jack.

Outside, Man-Boy waits by my truck, and when I push the cart to him, he immediately loads each bag into the be of my pick-up.

When he finishes, I hand him five dollars and say “Thank you.”

Man-Boy is no idiot. He holds out his hand and says, “You o-oo-owe me another dollar for l-ll-loading your truck.”

Fucker is a businessman. I hand him the extra dollar I promised, and say, “Hey, you forgot about your sucker.”

He holds out his hand and I place the handles around his outstretched wrist.

“THANKS APPLE MAN!!!” He shouts and runs away like he just robbed a bank.

And off he went to where ever Man-Boys live and I’m pretty sure, that at this minute, he’s sitting on the floor counting and recounting his cherry suckers. The “b-bb-best” fucking Cherry suckers in the whole world.


What does this little story have to do with “why I am an Atheist?” When I was growing up in a Catholic home, we were told repeatedly that in order to ensure our place in Heaven, we had to do good because “God is watching.” After my father died, I began to question everything. The “Doing good because God is watching” was what stood out to me the most. WHY should I only do good because I am constantly being judged? I should be good for goodness’ sake.

If the God I was raised to believe in was all-loving, why do we suffer? Why do the helpless lose someone close to something as horrible as a brain tumor?

If I pray for something and it is not received, then why did Jesus say, “You have not because you ask not?”

If God GAVE us free will and expects us to use it, why would I be condemned to hell for not believing in him? (He would understand that I “freely” used his gift to come up with my own conclusions.) These were the thoughts of a child. In adulthood, once I actually began to enjoy reading, the lack of anything concrete in evidence of a deity and the science backing reality, pushed me further and further away from the desert god of my father. It’s not just the science behind reality, it’s the lack of anything outside that science that guides MY “free will” to be a better person for myself, my children, and perfect strangers I meet along my life’s path.

To “be good for God” has no meaning for me. I am good because I am a Human being who knows how to BE Human.

Jim Mader
United States

Comments

  1. J says

    I don’t know. I was kind of turned off by the hollywood falseness of that story.

    The point about being good is a good one though.

  2. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Thanks for the inspiring story.

    The “Doing good because God is watching” was what stood out to me the most. WHY should I only do good because I am constantly being judged? I should be good for goodness’ sake.

    It is the famous “Santaclause is coming to town”-non sequitur

    He sees you when you’re sleeping
    He knows when you’re awake
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good
    So be good for goodness sake!

  3. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Hey J, you think such stories don’t happen? I propose you try it out and see for yourself.

  4. The very model of a modern armchair general says

    I swear that story sounded exactly like something Stephen King would write. Even down to the odd, folksy recurring phrases.

  5. Helioprogenus says

    Encounters like this happen to me on a daily basis. By nature, I am curious and really try my best to help people out. It makes for some interesting conversations. Sometimes, these people, whether it’s a guy with a flat tire, an elderly lady on the side of the road, or once, even a priest who needed help with some boxes, find out I’m an atheist and are shocked that I would help them. They say, “but you don’t believe in God, what keeps you from robbing others, or just walking away. You must have had a religious background then, or you’re probably confused and not really an atheist”. To these people, I have to first prove that I’m neither confused or rebounding from a deeply religious background. Next, I find myself explaining why I’m an atheist, and finally, I tell them, I helped them because they were fellow human beings in need of help. I’m just a helpful guy. I don’t need a threat or a fear of judgement by an omnipotent deity to be helpful. The freedom I have is something they can’t possibly imagine. Well, at the very least it gets them thinking.

  6. ChrisH says

    I’ll take whatever flak that inevitably will come for this, but while the moral of the story was nice I was VERY put off by the overwhelmingly condescending attitude that came across. Things like “Man-boy” “Fucker is smarter than I thought” “Man-child” “Simple minded.”
    Maybe once to get the point across but these terms permeate the entire story and completely destroyed any ultimate meaning it might have.

  7. says

    Many thanks to PZ for publishing these excellent Why I am an atheist testimonials. Jim Mader’s post was one of the best so far.

    Christians often justify their death cult by pretending people would be uncivilized barbarians unless they believe in the dead Jeebus and accept the moral values of an ancient book which is full of genocide, slavery, and insanity. It’s obvious to me Christians are Christians because they’re just plain stupid.

    I have occasionally done big favors for strangers who because of no fault of their own need help. I have helped blind people, old people, and people stranded on a highway because of car problems.

    What I get out of these experiences is I remember them for a lifetime. I remember the times I was actually good for something. It’s a great feeling. So I benefit from helping these people even more than the people being helped.

    My point is altruism is a natural characteristic of the human ape species as it is for our closest cousins the chimpanzee apes. Our species doesn’t need the fake moral values of an idiotic religion to want to be altruistic.

  8. says

    I never understood why being religious would make good behaviour more valuable, or of a higher morale, or why atheists don’t have values or can’t be moral beings. If you’re doing good because you feel it is the right thing to do, if you *want* to do good and feel responsible for your fellow human beings — how does that make you a lesser person compared to someone who does good because if they don’t they’ll burn in hell? One is good being given freely, the other is good as a result of some divine order under threat of punishment.

  9. Moggie says

    This one would have been more effective without the condescending and self-promoting glurge which formed the bulk of it. Still, you’ve got starting point for a screenplay there.

  10. says

    @ChrisH
    I don’t think saying that you will receive flak was necessary. People will either agree or disagree with you, and there is nothing wrong with that. So just state the point!

    That said, I agree with you.

  11. ChrisH says

    #14 “I don’t think saying that you will receive flak was necessary.”

    In retrospect I agree, thank you.

  12. Don Nelson says

    @ChrisH
    Nothing wrong with voicing an opinion. I actually agree.

    I found the story incredibly moving–to the point of tears when the man declared, “S-ss-she had a t-tt-tumor on her head and died.”

    I strongly agree with the poster that being good for good’s sake is an important message, and it is one that I try to teach to my children.

    However, I would never read this to my children because of the tone and style that ChrisH mentioned. The condescension–real or accidental–really dulled the edge of this incisive lesson.

    That said, I appreciate the author’s kindness toward this unfortunate man; it seems that he may have given a gift greater than a bag of lollipops.

  13. redwood says

    I don’t think Jim Mader meant to come off as condescending, but it didn’t quite make it to “cool,” either. But I admire his kindness and willingness to go out of his way to make someone that most people would shun feel useful. I doubt I could have done that.

    This story reminded me of something that happened when I was a student in San Francisco many years ago. I’d gotten off a street car with an older woman who had been shopping for food and was laden with two heavy bags. I offered to carry them to her house for her and she let me. We talked as we walked the few blocks to where she lived and as I placed the bags in front of her door and turned to leave, she asked me, “Are you a Christian?” I was surprised and wondered why she had asked me–maybe she wanted some assurance that helpful people were Christian. I just said “No, I’m not,” smiled, and left her standing there. I think that was the first time I actually admitted to someone that I wasn’t a Christian and it felt so good that I had helped someone out for no other reason than it was a nice thing–the right thing–to do.

  14. Cerus says

    One of my uncles has a condition very similar to the one described here, I can substitute his observed behaviors within this story without feeling any dissonance whatsoever. Though I’d stress that a child-seeming level of communication does not necessarily belie a childish intellect on the whole.

    As such, this story strikes me as being true, but like most narratives shared among humans, has been mildly embellished in the retelling.

  15. Jett Perrobone says

    Thanks Jim, I love how you show that people don’t need the belief that a god is watching their every move in order to do good. It seems Christians think “Who needs empathy and a conscience when we have the Bible?” They often say “Without God, there is no right or wrong.” My opinion is, “Without humanity, there is no right or wrong.” I say this because only humans (with the exception of some “higher” primates like chimpanzees) have the capacity to understand right from wrong.

    I remember reading a comment from an atheist on the old Pharyngula blog (paraphrased):

    [speaking to other atheists] Tell me, if you saw someone drop a $100 bill, and no-one was watching, would you pick it up and run away? Of course you would. So would I, but at least I’m honest enough to admit it.

    Proof that atheists can be just as boneheaded as Christians.

  16. Scott says

    “…nice I was VERY put off by the overwhelmingly condescending attitude that came across. ”

    I don’t disagree, but I think the author was just being honest about his own feelings.

    I found the story very moving.

  17. RorschachUK says

    Speaking as a stranger from a far away foreign land, I spent most of the story thinking “what the heck is a cherry sucker?”. It’s OK though, I’ve googled it now.

    Jim’s story seems to amount to “I’m an atheist because I can’t see how God lets bad things happen”. But, who says the only possible god is a nice, infallible god? A deity could be a bad, vengeful deity, or a deity indifferent to the affairs of puny mortals, or a deity whose ethical code didn’t much resemble modern values. The Greek gods were more likely to punish hubris than jealousy or greed, for instance, and were often jealous or greedy themselves. The Norse gods were likely to be all in favour of you stoving in the skulls of your enemies with a hammer – something often frowned upon in the church these days. Other societies (and their reflected deities) prized family honour more highly than we usually bother today. The Deist viewpoint doesn’t require their deity to do much more than boot the system and then retire and leave the universe to its own devices.

    I’m not an atheist because of the shortcomings or disappointments I perceive with the god of local popular consensus, I’m an atheist because I don’t believe there’s any need for a god or any other supernatural deus ex machina to explain anything – where there are gaps in our imperfect understanding of our universe, we’ll just keep looking and trying to work out the truth from the available evidence, without having to dream up a magical explanation to pretend the gap’s not there.

  18. ignus says

    The condescending tone and the use of insulting phrases took away the charm of an otherwise nice story.

  19. Chris Booth says

    I did not find Mr. Mader’s post condescending; he was trying to place the person he met in a familiar context of “childlike” thought and so forth. He was, as we all do, trying to categorize and understand the up-and-down graph of the handicapped man’s thinking. He reflected on that, and responded gently, and talked as to a child. I don’t see that as condescending. It is awkward to encounter such people. I have had similar encounters, and try to be respectful. I definitely don’t speak with them as I would a “normal” person. There are some handicapped people who work cleaning litter from the sidewalk in my neighborhood; when the one who likes to play with my dog asks me if I saw a TV show last night, I smile and say I didn’t see it–to someone else I would say that I don’t watch TV and I might go so far as to strongly express my opinion of the type of program in question. We modify our modes to those with whom we interact. Mr. Mader has children, and based his interaction on how he used to interact with them when they had a not-yet-adult–normal understanding of the world. He made an assumption of childlike naiveté that was challenged by the other’s streetwise demands for money for services. He then had to re-model his perception of the other’s mental strengths and weaknesses. I have had similar interactions over the years, and find it believable and touching.

    The point that every (monotheist) religious person is an atheist -1 is a valuable one. Brought up in a Catholic family, he would have no inclination to believe in Thor, Zeus, Guanyin, Rama, or Whomever. But presented with a definition of “God” from early childhood as God having certain qualities that are important to some people–benevolence, for example–and then seeing that the benevolence doesn’t really happen would be reason enough to drop that +1 “God”; it is not a reason to then jump to whimsical Hera or Shiva or Loki and one-by-one dismiss other gods. That was already taken care of in the atheist -1 indoctrination he received in early childhood. “There is no god but XXXXXX, woe betide!”…”Oh, and he sends his boy to bring you toys on his avatar’s putative birthday.”

    When I see someone drop money, I help them pick it up and hand it to them. I don’t take it and run. And neither does my daughter.

    Yes, we can be Good without god.

  20. douglasblaack says

    I once stopped to help a man whose car had broken down on a remote highway in southern Illinois. He was very grateful, telling me more than once “I believe the Lord sent you to me.” I thought, but did not say, that the Lord must have quite a sense of humor to send an atheist to do His work.

  21. McWaffle says

    I’d think that, despite his handicap, you could still call him a “man” and not have to use “man-child” or “man-boy” over and over. There aren’t even any other characters in the story, so it’s not like we’re going to get confused about who you’re talking about.

    Besides that though, kudos. Actions are stronger than words, so they say.

  22. says

    Even an inanimate object holds some sort of importance to him. Maybe he’s just smart enough to know what rejection really means.

    Wow. It’s like he’s people or something.

    Seriously, fuck you, Jim Mader. I can’t believe how many people here think this story is “heart-warming” or important, rather than just showing how the author’s a condescending bastard. “Man-Boy”? Seriously?

  23. Brian V. says

    Jim, many thanks for this well-written vignette. I do understand how some others feel a bit bumped by your referring to this fellow as a man-boy but when I read it, I thought it was meant as a kind of compliment to him too, his childlike ability to live; to occupy the moment and connect in the world: that seemed the main point to me… and something like that feeling was also evoked by your colloquial use of the word, fucker. Somehow it became an endearment. I suspect many of us took the expressions this way. It is very good writing, Jim… As Moggie commented, you have the makings of script there. If it was intended as a short-film, it is already complete… very deftly handled. When you mentioned how you love to read, I said to myself, of course that fucker loves the printed word… One sees that in how well he expresses his feelings… (btw, my 14 year old daughter makes short-films and might steal this story…)

  24. Wiwaxia says

    You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. This self-righteous, condescending, ableist-as-fuck writing is “heartwarming” and “inspiring”?

    Jim – great, we’re glad you meet basic standards of human decency, but really, you couldn’t just go about being a decent person without seriously patronizing disabled people and patting yourself on the back for doing so?

  25. Patrik Roslund says

    Having worked whit mentally challenged people i did not get putt of by the “flak”. People who have suffered stroke or head injury later in life usually adopt a child like attitude. They lose mutch of what they once were but in the process becomes a new person. Not being able to see this and accept them for what they are often alianates them from family and former friends. Many of these people are in fact man-childs and you fool yourself by thinking otherwise.

    In his description of his interaction towards the person i think he acted correct and respectfully. The most important thing is to accept and meet these people were they are not were they could have been or were they were.

  26. says

    The anecdote seemed too Stephen Kingish to be completely accurate. And the language used to describe the man was very off-putting and sounded like a relic from the 60s.

  27. says

    Brian V.

    Clearly you don’t understand why people might have a problem with it, as you talk about the person’s “child-like ability to live”, and claim that “fucker” became a term of endearment.

    It’s as though Mader wrote a story set in Africa and talked about that “Nigger-Boy” man at the market and then everyone started talking about how nice it was that Mader bought him a toy he wanted, and how “nigger” became a term of endearment.

    That’s why some people (not enough) are mad at this. Because it is fucking condescending, and as ableist as my example is racist.

  28. Brian V. says

    @Sivi, yer being a bit of a hard fucker… You pluck the meaning out of context.

    “It’s ok, little apple, someone hungrier than Apple Man will buy you.” he says as he delicately places the bruised apple at the top of the slanted basket so someone (in his mind) would be sure to select it first. Even an inanimate object holds some sort of importance to him. Maybe he’s just smart enough to know what rejection really means.

    Perhaps the use of the word ‘smart’ is not the best choice but it worked well for me and demonstrated the relationship of the man-boy to the world, his ability… and it has resonance in other ways too. Rejection because one is different is quite common among atheists and others… If anything, I would suggest this point is almost overdone in this part but Sivi, you appear to just ‘enjoy’ being impatient.

  29. says

    Wow, this is unfortunate. This is the first entry of the “why I am an atheist” thing that has ever been responded to negatively. But it is the author’s fault that his condensation drowned out the message.

  30. octopod says

    Sure the author comes off as a smug condescending sonofabitch, but he took the time to do something nice for a random stranger, no matter what he called the guy. Give him a little slack here, folks.

  31. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Sivi I see the problem you have with the Presentation. I paid more attention to the actual exchange and actions happening and thought it nice.

  32. Richard Smith says

    @ibyea (#36):

    But it is the author’s fault that his condensation drowned out the message.

    Either the message was really small, or there was a heck of a lot of condensation for it to drown in…

  33. says

    How many people would address, say, a mentally disabled or delayed family member using this kind of language? Or, let’s say you had an adult child who had been referred to in this fashion by some random person?

    Yeah, sure, the writer did something nice for the subject of the story. But maybe, just maybe, the writer could have done this while treating them with some fucking respect.

  34. ManOutOfTime says

    I like this one. I like them all. Don’t know why people have the need to shit on other people’s work. Not offended by “man-boy,” but I’ll have to give it sone thought … my gut reaction is that the author is treating him the way he would treat any other human being – which is how I think things should be.

  35. Hairhead says

    Sivi, I work with persons with disabilities, and your blind and vicious attack on a generous action, your making yourself some kind of protector and arbiter of interactions between the public and PWD is something I run into a lot. It’s a very negative thing. Your kind are actually the ones which place obstacles between persons with disabilities and the members of public.

    People like the writer of this piece, when their generous actions are confronted with the kind of abusive hostility you show (and clearly take self-righteous pleasure in showing) often stop their positive interactions with persons with disabilities. You aren’t doing PWD or yourself any favours.

    And I take issue with your claim that the writer treated the man disrespectfully. In fact, he did not. His thoughts were, at times, ignorant and disrespectful, yet over the course of his story, his thoughts changed in response to the “man-child’s” clearly higher level of functioning than Mr. Mader had first assumed. At no point did Mr. Mader treat the man disrespectfully: he didn’t refuse payment, for instance, when it was demanded; he didn’t make condescending oral remarks to the man about how much smarter he was than he at first seemed, and so on. And Mader actually seemed to learn something from the encounter.

  36. Susan says

    Is there an Ableist Bingo card? I think we’re going to need one.

    I found it condescending as well.

  37. Markle says

    It was a cheesy and over the top description of an encounter with a mentally disabled person, but the author’s amateur writing style shouldn’t invalidate his message.

  38. ChrisH says

    The story is so very obviously condescendingly worded that it makes me wonder whether PZ didn’t read it before posting OR knew full well what it read and put it up to specifically be ripped apart. I’m voting for the latter.

  39. Wiwaxia says

    Right, because the message is SO inspirational and overwhelmingly beautiful that the condescension isn’t really important. Just because the phrase “man-child” or any of the other language used in this piece isn’t personally offensive to some of the commenters here doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly hurtful and degrading many PWD.

    Look, the point is that there are other ways of getting across the same message that DON’T involve this kind of ableism.

  40. says

    The ‘why I am an atheist’ stories you post are usually pretty good, PZ, but this is just stupid. What’s worse is that it’s highly reminiscent of the Christian glurge that winds up on Snopes after circling through peoples’ mums’ inboxes for a few years. The author not only refers to the guy as ‘Manboy’, which is ridiculously insulting, but he turns him into some kind of noble savage for being happy despite his disabilities.

    And then he has the arrogance to give himself a multi-paragraph part on the back for acting like a basic, decent human being. He talks about how he’s not good because someone is watching, and yet he turns around and makes sure the whole internet knows what a good guy he is for being nice to the Manboy. Self-congratulatory offensive bullshit.

  41. says

    Hairhead,

    Well, what do you know? I’ve worked with people with mental and physical disabilities as well, and my sister has Down’s Syndrome (ie Trisomy 21). Somehow I manage not to refer to her as “Woman-girl”, or “that fucker”.

    I should stop calling out people being disrespectful towards people with disabilities, because they might stop being respectful or helpful to them? Please. Come up with an argument that doesn’t imply people can be scared off from being respectful or decent to PWDs, and stop trying to justify the writer’s attitude.

    “…he didn’t refuse payment, for instance, when it was demanded; he didn’t make condescending oral remarks to the man about how much smarter he was than he at first seemed, and so on.”

    As Wiwaxia said, congratulations to the author for his acting like a decent human being. Here is his cookie.

  42. Don Quijote says

    Sorry, I didn’t understand why the first part of that story had anything to do with why Mr. Mader is an atheist. Couldn’t anybody act in such a manner, religious or not?

  43. Emrysmyrddin says

    I don’t feel comfortable with this at all. I think that the language is very condescending, even if unintentionally.

    It’s sort of like watching Peep Show; you have the outside dialogue of the characters going about their lives, and then the deeply revealing, socially paranoid internal monologue, and the contrast thereof produces the humour…and like Peep Show, here it reveals more about the main character than perhaps the character ‘intended’.

    But we all know that intent isn’t magic – yes, it does count for a hell of a lot that the author was a really nice guy who went through an illustrative learning experience; however, hearing the internal monologue slants the experience in a very, very different way.

  44. Carlie says

    Harper – thanks for the link; I was looking for something like that but not having any luck.

    I hesitate to criticize anyone for sharing their story, especially since I haven’t sent in one myself. But I do hope that the writer looks at that link especially and considers how he views that interaction that he had and how he’s using it in his narrative, because the not-polite part of me is right on with Sivi.

  45. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Hairhead

    As someone who has never worked with people with disabilities, doesn’t know any particularly well (colleagues and friends friends) and has not thought about the topic too much, I have obviously been much less sensitive as others wrt this text, which is why the language of the story at first reading struck me as odd and over the top, but not immediately as offensive as it was to others like Sivi. That being said, what you claim doesn’t sound right. Why would I be deterred from dealing with a disabled person I meet because of “people like Sivi”?! That just doesn’t make sense. If one isn’t used to it, how to approach a disabled person is always a matter of a few seconds of awkward thinking about how to act appropriately, but that’s basically it, right?

  46. Dhorvath, OM says

    It’s sad that this could have been so much nicer to read, but there it is. One can’t ignore the words used, or the insults they convey. I do have some hope after reading this. I think that Jim Mader will read these comments and make some adjustments in how he refers to other people and that he may even make some adjustments in how he thinks about other people.

  47. dustwind says

    All those wishing that more respect had been shown the mentally handicapped (or whatever the PC term might be) fellow, might themselves show more respect by letting the guy decide for himself whether he felt disrespected! – which according to the narrative, he did not. How, er, condescending to decide what he could/ should/ might have felt.

  48. Markle says

    The “why I am an atheist series” is basically asking a bunch of randos to submit their memoirs to PZ. Not everyone is competent at the craft of writing and there is no editor to keep quality control. Sturgeon’s Law, you know.

    If you ignore the cringe-worthy epithets of man-boy and man-child, and the approximations of language and stuttering, and the general look at me I’m so giving and kind and patient theme, the plot isn’t that bad. The author was nice and gave a homeless, mentally disabled man $6 and a bag of lollipops.

  49. mirax says

    The anecdote was too self-indulgent and cringe inducing. The language used to describe the disabled man – who is about the author’s age and deserves respect as a peer (no matter what his intellectual capacity) rather than to be compared to a child incessantly was off-putting I’d like to cut the author some slack though, since he seems a bit dim too.

  50. ChrisH says

    “If you ignore the cringe-worthy epithets of man-boy and man-child, and the approximations of language and stuttering, and the general look at me I’m so giving and kind and patient theme, the plot isn’t that bad. The author was nice and gave a homeless, mentally disabled man $6 and a bag of lollipops.”

    My Granddaughter has Downs Syndrome and I don’t care what someone is doing for her, if their thinking things like “little fucker” “Woman-girl” and “Oh the poor thing, I wonder how it feels to just exist” they can take it all and shove it straight up their ass.
    Phrases like “fucking smarter than I thought” would be used when my dog does an impromptu trick after being shown only once, NOT when referencing a Human Being.

  51. mikee says

    I thought Jim’s story was a somewhat different approach to explaining why he is an atheist. I enjoyed it.
    I can see why some people are interpreting it as condescending; man-child seems unPC but I think it is an attempt by Jim to creating convey that the person he was dealing with has the body of a man, and a mind more like a child. Sometimes being “unPC” communicates an idea very clearly, possibly with irony.
    As to using the term “fucker” perhaps this is simply collequial language where Jim is.
    To me Jim’s underlying empathy for the disabled man is what is most important.

    Skepticism relies on people being honest about what they think, however, that does not mean people need to be rude or downright mean in their comments. I wonder how many of the naysayers on here have submitted their own piece?

    I think those who have provided pieces are in many cases opening up their “souls” to other readers here, and to have some people insult them based on THEIR interpretation of what the writer was thinking or to nitpick about grammar etc is just downright rude.

  52. Fox says

    Dustwind: the man in this story had no idea that the person he was helping (because it seems quite obvious to me that that’s how he interpreted their interaction) was mentally referring to him as a “fucker” and “manchild” and acting surprised that he could remember a promise made to him five minutes ago.

    This tale also rubbed me the wrong way. It kind of reminds me of people who pray in public – it’s not enough to do a good deed, you have to tell others about it. And I’m not sure why treating someone as a human being is necessarily a “good deed” anyway.

    Maybe instead of criticism deterring someone from helping people in the future, it will deter them from BRAGGING about it in the future, or at least encourage them to think about the language they use. Because if criticizing their tone puts them off helping people – that means their thought process is something like “Well fuck that, I guess I can’t tell people I did this, and there’s no point doing it if I don’t get to tell others about it later.” Which, yeah, not so noble.

    (Pecked out on my iPhone, so forgive any typos/weird autocorrects.)

  53. endorfiend says

    My work involves daily contact with people who are mentally bereft and merely “existing.” I have never heard a good argument for why an all good, loving, omnipotent blah-blah. so and so would allow this to happen to humans, humans that are created in his image. For me, stories like this are daily affirmations for why I’m a non-believer.

  54. Carlie says

    The writer’s point is that you can be good without God. That’s a good sentiment, and I think one of the best worth spreading to try and change people’s minds about the importance of religion.

    But out of all the examples he probably has of being nice, why pick this one and highlight it in such detail? That’s the crux of the problem I think many of us have with this piece (besides just the language used), that somehow the best exemplar of being a good person is being kind to someone whose brain doesn’t work the same way yours does. The problem is that the author sees this as a great example of being super good, instead of just being a normal interaction he has in his everyday life. Yes, he was patient and kind to someone in a way that goes beyond usual grocery store interaction. But to think that’s the best way to show how atheists can be good sets the bar ridiculously low, especially given that his internal narrative was so condescending. There’s something very Jerry Lewis-y about it, besides the issues of using a disabled person for a Very Inspirational Story. I don’t want to chastise the writer mercilessly, but ask him to think about it all for awhile.

  55. noastronomer says

    I enjoyed it … bah … I loved it. The story has dozens of reasons for not believing in god. Pick your favorite.

    Mike.

  56. mirax says

    What do you call that thing they do in church where people talk about how they came into the faith, is it giving witness?

    This series of guest posts can come to resemble that if we all go “Hallelujah brother, welcome to the fold!”

  57. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Skepticism relies on people being honest about what they think, however, that does not mean people need to be rude or downright mean in their comments.

    Just like Jim’s condescension shouldn’t pass just because this was his honest “Why I am an atheist” story, don’t you think?

    Note : My first thought about the post was that it’s sad (who knows how and where the man described lives since his mother has died) and how the author’s actions were nice. Use of the words like man-child bothered me a bit, but only after reading others’ well formed comments did I realize how much discrepancy exists between author’s deeds and thoughts. His deeds were kind, but his reasoning about the man was pretty insulting. What makes his words more insulting is the absolute sureness of his own overwhelming kindness for in fact, as others noted, acting like a decent human being.

  58. Markle says

    My Granddaughter has Downs Syndrome and I don’t care what someone is doing for her, if their thinking things like “little fucker” “Woman-girl” and “Oh the poor thing, I wonder how it feels to just exist” they can take it all and shove it straight up their ass.

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you’re being too harsh on the author. It takes a lot of courage to write something so personal and submit it to the public in this format, especially when there is no editor to check for mistakes. If you look back on the why I am an atheist series, only 10% of the submitted would be considered good. Most of them are in the category of, meh, it’s good enough for the internet.

    I like to think of this piece as a first draft. Despite some major flaws, it does have potential. We should accentuate the positives and gently discourage the negatives.

  59. headfullabooks says

    The author’s mother should nominate him to appear on Kathie Lee Gifford’s show for his heartwarming and heroic act of befriending an apparently nameless “man-boy”.

    Maybe they can even trade notes on how christians and atheists can BOTH be smug and smarmy self-righteous jerks.

  60. ChrisH says

    “but I think you’re being too harsh on the author”

    Believe me when I say that my “little” criticism is going to feel like a warm, soapy, Loofah to the butt compared to what he’ll most likely get when some of the “regulars” show up and decide to comment.

  61. Jojo says

    I’ve really been enjoying this series. It is very thought provoking, and I think it ties in well with PZ’s dismissal of dictionary atheists. We are all atheists for different reasons, and these essays help to highlight those differences. I’ve been able to relate to some points in each post, helping me realize just how complex my own journey to being an atheist has been.

    Like many of the other commenters, this post made me cringe. I think there is a kernel of a good message in it, but it’s overshadowed by the demeaning language and the self aggrandizement. However, in a way, I see this as one of the most important posts in the series because it helps demonstrate that some atheists come to their non-belief for reasons that may not be very well thought out. While atheism may be the rational position, that doesn’t mean that every atheist got there rationally.

  62. jacobfromlost says

    “I don’t want to chastise the writer mercilessly, but ask him to think about it all for awhile.”

    Thinking about things is always good advice for everyone.

    I read the same piece as many above did, and didn’t think he was condescending at all. I can see how some might jump to that conclusion, but I think the realities dramatized don’t support it unless its the conclusion you want to see.

    There’s nothing in his internal dialogue that we all haven’t had with a wide variety of people. We constantly assess people’s attitudes, beliefs, abilities, smarts, personalities, predilections, etc. Should the author have thrown all that out the window because the person he was talking to happened to be mentally challenged? Or should he have treated him like everyone else–with respect, while trying to understand who he is?

    If he was being condescending, don’t you think the man would have noticed?

  63. McWaffle says

    Yeah, I’m having a difficult time excusing repeated use of a word that should clearly have been recognized as insulting. It’s gratuitous and adds nothing of value to the story. Maybe I’d be able to write off a single “man-child,” since that’s at least a stock phrase, but “man-boy”? Repeatedly? Calling a 40-year-old man “boy” is clearly disrespectful in any context. I’m not saying people have to talk like doctors and say, “The man with a chromosomal anomaly resulting in severe limitations” over and over, but surely we can avoid epithets, no?

  64. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I read the same piece as many above did, and didn’t think he was condescending at all.

    Really? You don’t think calling somebody a Man-boy 10 times is condescending at all? Not even a bit?

  65. says

    Yeah… I’m going to have to say I’m surprised PZ published this one. I can understand that he wanted to have another perspective other than ‘here is my life story’, but this just came off as so condescending.

    Individuals with handicaps or psychosis or any mental disability are not some novel ‘fucker’- they are not second class.

  66. Jojo says

    jacobfromlost @73

    The problem with this post is that there are two different things being discussed. The actual event, and the retelling of the event. If I were to witness this event, I’d find it heartwarming that someone treated a person with disabilities in a respectful manner. I watched people avert their eyes and walk past a disabled man struggling to get bananas into a bag once, so it’s not like everyone acts the way described. I considered helping the man common decency, but if it was common, I wouldn’t have been the only one offering. So, kudos for the authors actions.

    However,the language the author uses to describe the event is demeaning to disabled people and for me, it overshadows what could have been a much better story.

  67. mirax says

    If he was being condescending, don’t you think the man would have noticed?

    Er, we’d never know. Our author seems rather oblivious to subtleties like that.

  68. jacobfromlost says

    “Really? You don’t think calling somebody a Man-boy 10 times is condescending at all? Not even a bit?”

    He didn’t CALL him that. He used that term in HIS HEAD to describe a person with a man’s body and child’s mind.

    It’s not like he slapped him on the back and said, “Hi there, Man-Boy!”

    I agree with the poster way back who said that deciding for the mentally challenged man that he should have felt condescended to is, ironically, condescending.

  69. jacobfromlost says

    “Er, we’d never know. Our author seems rather oblivious to subtleties like that.”

    So the author is a jerk because he used politically incorrect terms in his story, therefore the actions he took in the story are distorted such that an offended, mentally challenged man who felt condescended to was actually portrayed as having a pleasant, friendly interaction with no hint that he ever felt the condescension?

    That’s possible, but I think you really, really have to want to see that for it to seem reasonable.

  70. Anj says

    I second the “condescending” votes.

    I liked that the author engaged the person he met. I liked that he attempted to work a stranger on their own level. I don’t like the “man-child” label, nor the presumption that the person merely “existed” because his world was a less complex place than the narrator’s.

    We don’t talk about babies or toddlers as merely existing because their brains aren’t capable of complex abstract thoughts.

  71. McWaffle says

    He didn’t have a “child’s mind,” he had the mind of a man with severe limitations. I’m relatively certain that the distinction there isn’t just nomenclature.

    Also, I’m not saying the man in question should have felt looked down upon, I can’t speak for him; I’m saying the author is being condescending in his description after-the-fact. If he was doing so subtly, I think maybe the reaction here would be less severe. However, at the risk of repeating myself and others: saying man-boy 10 times, seriously? Come on.

  72. ChrisH says

    “He didn’t CALL him that. He used that term in HIS HEAD to describe a person with a man’s body and child’s mind.”

    Who cares? He still had those terms running through his head even if he didn’t say them out loud. Of what particular use were they to the story? And why would anybody who has been on this site for more than 5 minutes think that kind of terminology and attitude would fly around here?

  73. says

    At first the author’s descriptions of the other man were a bit jarring, but I assumed he was trying to convey his inner dialog.

    If not, well then, I have the same problem a lot of you do with the story.

  74. mirax says

    I agree with the poster way back who said that deciding for the mentally challenged man that he should have felt condescended to is, ironically, condescending.

    Condescending and insulting behaviour is wrong in itself regardless of whether the person at whom such behaviour was directed took offence. I find this story more disturbing the more times I read it.

  75. Carlie says

    At first the author’s descriptions of the other man were a bit jarring, but I assumed he was trying to convey his inner dialog.

    Well, yes. What we’re trying to say is that his inner dialogue sucks.

  76. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    He didn’t CALL him that. He used that term in HIS HEAD to describe a person with a man’s body and child’s mind.

    He CALLED him that in the post he wrote. If he’d only ever used that term in HIS HEAD then we wouldn’t know about it to be discussing it.

    (Gee, I can use CAPS too!)

  77. mirax says

    A forty year old disabled man with a swollen tongue, a mouth full of saliva and crooked teeth, one hand wiping the drool off his chin, the other hand clutching a beenie baby, stuttering? Actually writing classic lines like “manboy was no idiot”. Yeah right.

  78. headfullabooks says

    The point isn’t whether or not the the author was condescending in person during the course of the story he narrates, (not to mention that people with certain cognitive disabilities are not able to recognize condescension or even bullying when they are subject to them), The POINT is that when typing up this obviously carefully crafted screen-play like narrative, the author chose to use disrespectful and condescending language.

    Imagine this story was in fact produced as a short film with a voice over of the writer’s thoughts; would those of you defending this writing still fail to get the condescension it drips with after HEARING the phrases “Man-Child for the third time and “Man-Boy” for the twelfth time?

  79. Carlie says

    Of course, he wouldn’t have to worry at all about what to call the guy if he had asked him his name.

  80. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    And further, not all the “Man-boy” instances are just the author recounting a thought he had at the time. For instance, the sentence that begins with “I hand Man-Boy a couple of bags”. That sentence is aimed at us, not internally. It is not describing a thought in his head at the time of the story, but an example of him actively using that derogatory term to describe to us what he thinks of the man in the story.

  81. jacobfromlost says

    “He didn’t have a “child’s mind,” he had the mind of a man with severe limitations.”

    He liked cherry suckers, which seems childlike to me. At a certain point, we either give a person (the narrator) the benefit of the doubt, or we don’t, in regard to his descriptions. The fact that he shared this story is enough for me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    And after reading the couple paragraphs about “existing”, I would say the author was expressing condescending attitudes in his own mind, then quickly correcting them to make his point (although by that point, I can see how correcting them could also be seen as condescending). The “Man-boy” thing didn’t bother me–it was just a short way to describe the person he was describing. And since I knew who he was describing from the additional descriptions, why would I suddenly get angry about it (unless I wanted to be angry about it)?

    I think the anger at his post may stem from perceived condescension the author has to the audience reading it, rather than condescension toward the mentally challenged man. The lesson the author seems to be endeavoring to communicate is one most of us think we’ve already learned long ago…although I think it is still highly ironic for so many to look down upon an author for trying to communicate a message most of us agree with, while also saying the author is being condescending to a person in the story that perceived no condescension…and condescendingly implying the person in the story should have felt condescension.

  82. Markle says

    But the narrator doesn’t have a name either. He’s always referred to as “Apple-man.”

  83. mirax says

    Of course, he wouldn’t have to worry at all about what to call the guy if he had asked him his name.

    Yes. Or even made up one for him.

  84. Carlie says

    Markle – if the interaction was as written, he didn’t offer up his name to the other guy, either. “Apple Man” was what the other guy called him, and was within all of the quotes of his comments. “Man-boy” was what he called the guy in the narrative.

  85. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I think the anger at his post may stem from perceived condescension the author has to the audience reading it, rather than condescension toward the mentally challenged man. The lesson the author seems to be endeavoring to communicate is one most of us think we’ve already learned long ago…although I think it is still highly ironic for so many to look down upon an author for trying to communicate a message most of us agree with, while also saying the author is being condescending to a person in the story that perceived no condescension…and condescendingly implying the person in the story should have felt condescension.

    So as long as you’re nice to a person’s face, anything you say about them behind their back is fine? Is that really what you’re trying to say, because it’s how you’re coming across.

  86. jacobfromlost says

    “Who cares? He still had those terms running through his head even if he didn’t say them out loud. Of what particular use were they to the story? And why would anybody who has been on this site for more than 5 minutes think that kind of terminology and attitude would fly around here?”

    Sounds like thought police to me. And I’m not sure what “attitude” you are referring to, but are certain attitudes prohibited as well? Even to the point where certain words have to mean certain things so we can all be mad about it? (Besides, didn’t PZ pick which e-mails to post?)

    If the author meant to degrade the man by calling him “Man-boy” in the story, I would agree–just as I agree that the paragraphs about “existing” are condescending. But I don’t think he meant anything other than a shorthand reflection of the person’s physical and mental nature.

  87. McWaffle says

    The “Man-boy” thing didn’t bother me–it was just a short way to describe the person he was describing.

    So, I imagine that same sentiment would hold if an author decides that “the Hispanic man” is too cumbersome to write, and instead opts for the shorter “the spic”? I mean, if he doesn’t say it to the guy it’s not offensive, right? Except, “man-boy” and “man-child” are BOTH longer than simply “man” which would have sufficed throughout the story. As I said before, it’s not like there are a bunch of characters to keep straight.

  88. Ewan Macdonald says

    @jacobfromlost: While I am broadly on your side – I didn’t find the story distasteful, but that may well be my failing and it’s something I intend to think carefully about – let’s not go crazy. “Thought police” is a very specific term. The thought police punished thoughtcrime – which is completely distinct from crime in speech/writing. When something is written down, as is this blog post, it isn’t itself indicative of thoughtcrime.

    I have zero problem with deploying Orwell when the situation calls for it. This ain’t it.

  89. Markle says

    Neither man asked for either person’s name, which is fair. Not all short stories need to give their characters proper names. The narrator was known as Apple Man. Man-boy and Man-child are probably not very good names. If the narrator had called the mentally disabled man Lollipop Man, would you still be heckling the writer?

  90. jacobfromlost says

    “So as long as you’re nice to a person’s face, anything you say about them behind their back is fine? Is that really what you’re trying to say, because it’s how you’re coming across.”

    Do you think the author was trying to be mean by calling this man “Man-boy” in the story? Was the author’s purpose to be cruel, harmful, or degrading of the man in the story?

    Because that is what you seem to be implying. Is that really what you are saying?

  91. jacobfromlost says

    “I have zero problem with deploying Orwell when the situation calls for it. This ain’t it.”

    I was told that certain words and attitudes would not “fly” on this board (“And why would anybody who has been on this site for more than 5 minutes think that kind of terminology and attitude would fly around here?”).

    I’m not sure what that means, especially given that the disagreement here is about as minor as it gets, yet the intolerance of that minor disagreement seems to be reaching a shrieking level. (Now attitudes I never espoused are being attributed to me, and disagreements about the use of certain words must mean I’m somehow as terrible and condescending as the author.)

  92. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Do you think the author was trying to be mean by calling this man “Man-boy” in the story? Was the author’s purpose to be cruel, harmful, or degrading of the man in the story?

    Intent is not magic. Whether he meant harm by it or not, he used harmful language. But I do think he should have known better, and just a tiny bit of reflection before submission should have made him think better of using the terminology the way he did. Whether he did it because he actually harbors negative attitudes toward the developmentally impaired, or because it never occurred to him to think about it doesn’t affect whether it was wrong. What it does affect is how likely he is to continue in it. I sincerely hope it was due to a lack of awareness, because that’s easily correctable. But only if people actually point it out. But you seem to prefer that things like this never get called out, in which case, how do we correct them?

  93. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I was told that certain words and attitudes would not “fly” on this board.

    I’m not sure what that means.

    Really? I would think it’s obvious by now that “fly” means “get by without being called out”. What else would it mean? That we’re gonna send out the super-secret Pharyngulista ninjas to slit Jim’s wrists in the middle of the night and make it look like he accidentally offed himself while trying to peel an apple?

  94. ChrisH says

    “yet the intolerance of that minor disagreement seems to be reaching a shrieking level”

    My time on Pharyngula has been relatively short,but this is about as civil of a disagreement as I’ve seen here. Especially when it involves using derogatory language concerning groups of people who have no control over their circumstances.

  95. jacobfromlost says

    “Intent is not magic. Whether he meant harm by it or not, he used harmful language.”

    Only if you want to see it that way. Intent is NOT magic, but it seems clear from the whole piece that the author did not intend it to be degrading, harmful, or cruel.

    “But I do think he should have known better, and just a tiny bit of reflection before submission should have made him think better of using the terminology the way he did. Whether he did it because he actually harbors negative attitudes toward the developmentally impaired, or because it never occurred to him to think about it doesn’t affect whether it was wrong.”

    What if those thoughts were exactly the way he was thinking at the time? Should he have changed his description of his thoughts so they would be more acceptable to some? Or is it helpful to understand exactly how he was thinking then (or even, perhaps, now)?

    “What it does affect is how likely he is to continue in it. I sincerely hope it was due to a lack of awareness, because that’s easily correctable. But only if people actually point it out. But you seem to prefer that things like this never get called out, in which case, how do we correct them?”

    Call it out all you wish. What I’m saying is that I don’t see exactly what you see in the story, except for the couple paragraphs about “existing”. That did seem condescending.

    Is it not possible to read “Man-boy” as a simple shorthand, the way I read it? It seems it is possible, as that is the way I read it. You can call it out for being something else, but since I didn’t see that intent, I don’t agree that anything needs to be called out in terms of that term.

    And I realize in saying that, now I’LL be tarred as someone as heartless as the author, even when I’m here explaining myself in real time.

  96. McWaffle says

    If the narrator had called the mentally disabled man Lollipop Man, would you still be heckling the writer?

    No, “Lollipop Man” would have been somewhat clever, since it parallels “Apple Man.” Why would we be heckling about that? Is there some element of this you’re not understanding?

    Except, you used “the mentally disabled man,” and not, “the man-boy,” so I think you must understand to some degree…

    And Jacob, I think “Whether an author can be excused for using epithets in their story” is a substantive matter for discussion. This isn’t screeching, compared to how this place can get.

  97. McWaffle says

    Is it not possible to read “Man-boy” as a simple shorthand, the way I read it? It seems it is possible, as that is the way I read it.

    Yes, it’s possible, in the same way “Jap” is shorthand for “Japanese person.” What part of this is unclear to you?

  98. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    it seems clear from the whole piece that the author did not intend it to be degrading, harmful, or cruel.

    Only if you want to see it that way.

  99. jacobfromlost says

    “No, “Lollipop Man” would have been somewhat clever, since it parallels “Apple Man.” Why would we be heckling about that?”

    I agree that “Lollipop Man” would have been better, but it also implies a childlike quality to an adult man.

    “Except, you used “the mentally disabled man,” and not, “the man-boy,” so I think you must understand to some degree…”

    But I wasn’t writing a narrative about an experience. I was writing ABOUT a narrative. And did I say mentally disabled? I thought I said “mentally challenged”.

    “And Jacob, I think “Whether an author can be excused for using epithets in their story” is a substantive matter for discussion. This isn’t screeching, compared to how this place can get.”

    I didn’t say screeching, I said shrieking. Moreover, “Lollipop Man” is also an epithet, as is “Apple Man”. Why would you excuse the use of those epithets?

  100. Ewan Macdonald says

    Only if you want to see it that way.

    Really? I don’t think it’s a controversial position to put any perceived degradation, harm or cruelty down to ignorance rather than malice in this instance. I read the “fucker’s smart” line to be actually self-deprecating, in that he was chiding himself for underestimating the “man-boy.”

    Reading Pharyngula has really opened my eyes to a lot of destructive speech, but I’m struggling greatly to see ill-intent here. (NOT that “Intent! Intent!” can magic away any offence, but still.) What I do think it shows is that the “mind of a child” descriptor is quite clumsy and that the writer – like many people here – might use it without thinking of its full limitations. I do not equate that with either malice or casual bigotry.

  101. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    What if those thoughts were exactly the way he was thinking at the time? Should he have changed his description of his thoughts so they would be more acceptable to some? Or is it helpful to understand exactly how he was thinking then (or even, perhaps, now)?

    Well, if he realized at some point, after the story took place but before submitted a written version of it, that Man-boy is an inappropriate thing to call somebody, then an indication of that would be nice. Nobody (or least not not I) would fault him for having ableist thoughts but recognizing them later. Fuck, I do that still!

    So yeah, either drop the derogatory terminology, or include it but indicate that those were the thoughts of a younger self that needed to do some more reflecting.

  102. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Ewan Macdonald,

    Perhaps you didn’t pick up on the fact that I was mocking Jacob with that. He responded to my interpretation with “Only if you want to see it that way” and then provided an unevidenced assertion of his own. So I figured that pasting his own words there would be the best response. Especially since he said something is “clear” that is definitely a matter of interpretation.

    FSM, I feel like I’m explaining a knock-knock joke. Thanks for being a buzzkill.

  103. Ewan Macdonald says

    @Erulóra Maikalambe

    Having now read the full exchange, I understand it. So that’s that.

  104. jacobfromlost says

    “and then provided an unevidenced assertion of his own.”

    But it wasn’t “unevidenced”, as Ewan explained that the point of the story doesn’t seem to be to degrade, harm, or be cruel to Lollipop Man.

    Do you really think the point of the story WAS to degrade, harm, or otherwise malicious to Lollipop Man? (BTW, if anyone called ME “Lollipop Man”, I would find it degrading, lol. But since a couple of us already agreed it would be better, how can I back away from the term now?)

  105. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Ewan,

    Then we’re cool. But now, having gone back over it myself, I got annoyed again. I basically said “Whether it’s A or B, the result is C.” And he said “It’s not A, it’s clearly B.” Kinda misses my point. Grr. I gotta get off this thread or I’m not going to get any work done.

  106. mikee says

    @Beatrice #68

    “Just like Jim’s condescension shouldn’t pass just because this was his honest “Why I am an atheist” story, don’t you think?”

    If people think Jim was being condescending, then fair enough they should say so, however, the way some people have done it seems to be quite mean spirited (while others have also done it rather well – explaining why they object to the term).

    Some object to the use of the term boy, however the actual term used is “man-child” or “Man-Boy”. I interpret this use based on my own background – I have never heard such a term used and I assumed it reflected that the man he was talking about had a childlike mind, something I do not consider insulting as children have an innocence and indeed a capacity to cut through bullshit that I think it admirable.
    Other readers perhaps are more familiar with life in the US southern states than I am and are reacting to the use of the term “boy” as insulting which, given its history as a derogatory term makes sense.

    As to the term “fucker” there are a number on contributors on here who repeatedly assert their right to express themselves with fuck and other expletives. In the use of “fucker” in the story it seemed to me that it was used as an expression of admiration.

    Everyone perceives stories differently. While it is useful for any author to address multiple negative comments, I also think it is important for readers not to assume that THEIR interpretation of it is what the author actually meant to portray.

  107. Ewan Macdonald says

    But Jacob: you acknowledge yourself that intent isn’t magic. As much as I don’t think the story is bad, I do think that, regardless of intent, saying “Man-boy” to this guy out loud might well hurt his feelings. Do we think the author would agree with that; and if so, why does he write it if he wouldn’t say it? My take on it is, he’s writing from the position of a good person, but also a flawed person, and he is being honest about his own limitations. Understandably this style of writing pleases some people (like me) and disgusts others (like some of the readers here.) Regardless of whose interpretation is correct, “intent” cannot be used to solve the question.

  108. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    jacobfromlost

    I don’t really give a flying fuck what the point of his story was. I’ve had people tell me stories where they referred to one of the characters as a nigger. The point of their story wasn’t to degrade that individual. Doesn’t mean they deserved a free pass (I was young and stupid and gave them one anyway).

    By the way, my dad used to fill those little boxes with the suckers where you put in a quarter and take a sucker (on the honor system). They called him Sucker Man. He thought it was funny.

  109. jacobfromlost says

    “Do we think the author would agree with that; and if so, why does he write it if he wouldn’t say it?”

    Because the audience reading it knows the author better than Lollipop Man, and from reading his story we can see that he isn’t using “Man-Boy” to be derogatory, but a simple descriptor. (If he intended it to be derogatory, he really messed up the end of the story…and the beginning…and the middle.)

    “Understandably this style of writing pleases some people (like me) and disgusts others (like some of the readers here.) Regardless of whose interpretation is correct, “intent” cannot be used to solve the question.”

    It can if the question is, “What did the author intend?” If the question is, “Should we call a mentally challenged man ‘Man-Boy’ every time we see him?”, the answer is obviously different.

    Should stories/literature dramatize the way things should be, or should they dramatize the way things are…or a little of both?

    The story was honest, and clearly intended to make a point about living our lives together as people. If someone thinks the intent of the story was to show how best to be cruel to, degrade, and harm others, I’d love a textual explication of that interpretation because I really, really don’t see it.

  110. Markle says

    Except, you used “the mentally disabled man,” and not, “the man-boy,” so I think you must understand to some degree…

    I didn’t use the term “man-boy” because man-boy isn’t a real word. Man-child is, but refers to a young adult male who is irresponsible and doesn’t want to get a real job/commit to a girlfriend/settle down/get a haircut.

    This short story would be better if it focused more on the plight of the mentally disabled homeless. It would also be good if the story had less of a look at me! look at me doing a good deed! undercurrent. Maybe he should’ve talked about donating soap and shampoo to the homeless shelter or something.

  111. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    Lurker coming out of the woodworks here to say: … wow, check the ableism there, buddy.

    Are people seriously arguing that his repeated use of such gems as “man-child” and “man-boy” are anything but horribly condescending? What, “man-child” is an acceptable epithet because “oh, he IS like a child! In his mind!” Really? Fucking really? Is it okay because he wasn’t trying to be mean re: the disabled man? No. No, it isn’t. Should the man have felt condescended to? Perhaps, perhaps not. But everyone going on about how it isn’t condescending because he didn’t express these thoughts to the man’s (note: NOT man-child) face is completely missing the fucking point.

    What a lot of people here seem to be missing is that it’s completely irrelevant that he didn’t express it to the man’s face, because he’s expressing it here. Here, where people who are disabled, or who have loved ones who are disabled, or who understand that disabled people are not somehow less than ‘normal’ people, or who are for any reason triggered by ableist language can read it, without any acknowledgement of the problematic nature of the language he uses. This isn’t just him reconstructing his own ignorance at the time; this is him flaunting his own privilege NOW.

    @ McWaffle:

    Neither man asked for either person’s name, which is fair. Not all short stories need to give their characters proper names. The narrator was known as Apple Man. Man-boy and Man-child are probably not very good names. If the narrator had called the mentally disabled man Lollipop Man, would you still be heckling the writer?

    You mean, would we still be heckling the writer if he had used a more acceptable nickname than something wildly ableist? Probably not. It’s the fact that he used something so utterly condescending as “man-child” that makes this wrong. Not that he didn’t have other bits of ableism, mind, not to mention the usual “PDW as an INSPIRATION” tripe, but the “man-child” was by far the worst of it. “Man-Child” is more than “not a very good name”; it’s flat-out derogatory.

  112. jacobfromlost says

    “I don’t really give a flying fuck what the point of his story was.”

    I’m offended by your terminology. (irony or not? you decide, lol)

    “I’ve had people tell me stories where they referred to one of the characters as a nigger. The point of their story wasn’t to degrade that individual. Doesn’t mean they deserved a free pass (I was young and stupid and gave them one anyway).”

    Would you ban “Huck Finn”, the quintessential anti-slavery novel, not to mention the quintessential American novel of all time? Or would you just remove the offensive term from the book so new readers wouldn’t even know how things used to be? Why not expunge all the nastiness from history, literature, television, etc?

    “By the way, my dad used to fill those little boxes with the suckers where you put in a quarter and take a sucker (on the honor system). They called him Sucker Man. He thought it was funny.”

    They were calling him “Sucker Man” because he gave suckers to children. They were not calling him “Sucker Man” because he liked suckers a lot at 40 years old. There is a difference between those two epithets. (And “Lollipop Man” seems more and more degrading, the more I think about it–almost like “Mickey Mouse Man” but with less alliteration.)

  113. Carlie says

    Sounds like thought police to me. And I’m not sure what “attitude” you are referring to, but are certain attitudes prohibited as well?

    There are no arrests being made, nor prohibitions being enforced, simply a reaction to the words/attitude as publicly posted. Are you saying that no one should ever have an opinion and comment on someone else’s attitude? That’s thought policing right there.

    I didn’t say screeching, I said shrieking

    Says the guy whose argument is that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the words people use.

    however, the way some people have done it seems to be quite mean spirited (while others have also done it rather well – explaining why they object to the term).

    Some people may have dealt with that kind of attitude personally, on a regular basis, over and over and over, for years and years. I don’t begrudge them their anger, and I think it’s quite useful for them to express it to emphasize that yes, this is a big deal to the people who experience it. It’s quite easy to be dispassionate and cool and logical and polite when you see something for the first time happen to someone else entirely; it’s not so easy when you’ve seen, say, your close friend or relative be spoken down to and over and treated in a superficially syrupy nice way laced with abject pity your entire life.

    If someone is being unintentionally clueless and cruel, and is a good person, shouldn’t they want to have that unfortunate behavior pointed out so they won’t do it again? How is it being mean to do so? I assume that Jim might not have seen these comments yet, or has seen them and is thinking hard about them. I wouldn’t blame him for being furious to start with, but hopefully he’s holding back from responding in anger and is thinking about why it is that some people have reacted so strongly, and reading the links provided, and doing some self-examination. It’s not just the words used; it’s the entire example he chose and how he chose to present it and think of the encounter, and that’s a lot to think about.

  114. Carlie says

    Would you ban “Huck Finn”, the quintessential anti-slavery novel, not to mention the quintessential American novel of all time? Or would you just remove the offensive term from the book so new readers wouldn’t even know how things used to be? Why not expunge all the nastiness from history, literature, television, etc?

    Oh, now you’re just getting into self-parody. That’s a period piece, written at a time when the word was common, and specifically used by Twain to reflect the attitudes of the people he was writing about. This is a first person narrative written and presented right now.

  115. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    If he intended it to be derogatory,

    One does not have to intend something to be derogatory for it to be derogatory.

    he really messed up the end of the story…and the beginning…and the middle.

    Really? I’m afraid I don’t follow. I don’t see anything in the second half that really has much to do with the first half. Certainly nothing that points out how wrong his attitude toward the man was, or how it’s wrong to repeatedly call somebody a Man-boy.

    This is like telling me that my knee isn’t really messed up because that girl didn’t mean to hit it with her car.

  116. McWaffle says

    @’Nym

    I think you’re quoting Markle (#100) there, not me. I criticized that very point at #107.

  117. jacobfromlost says

    “There are no arrests being made, nor prohibitions being enforced, simply a reaction to the words/attitude as publicly posted.”

    My words and attitudes have been redefined by others here several times. That’s all I’m objecting to.

    “Are you saying that no one should ever have an opinion and comment on someone else’s attitude? That’s thought policing right there.”

    Not at all, but at least know what the thought or attitude is before you criticize it. It is highly ironic to criticize a word or attitude that isn’t what you think it is.

    “Says the guy whose argument is that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the words people use.”

    That’s not what I said AT ALL. (Usually it’s theists telling me what my position is, then telling me why that position is wrong. Have I slipped into a parallel universe?)

  118. Grumps says

    I’ve only read about half the comments to this point so apologies if this has been covered.

    I hate this.I have spent a lifetime working with people with learning disabilities (mostly in schools but also with adults). The use of the term “man-boy” is revolting. He is a man. He has a learning disability. He does not behave like a child he behaves like he behaves.
    A decade or so ago it was common to hear of someone with a learning disability being describes as “having the mind of a 5 year old” or some such. That is bollocks. If you’re 40, have had 40 years of experience, 40 years of living with your disability you are not going to have the mind of child. It is degrading and ableist to use that language.
    To be provocative I’d suggest that to use “child-like” when describing a person with with learning disabilities is similar to using “snake-like” when talking about someone with no legs.

    Oh, while I’m on my high horse I’d also like to add that the use of “stupid” as an insult is also ableist. The Royal National Institute for the Deaf ran a poster campaign a few years ago where they portrayed deaf people saying “I may be deaf but I’m not stupid”, this was (rightly) challenged by MENCAP (http://www.mencap.org.uk/)and the campaign was withdrawn.

  119. Ze Madmax says

    jacobfromlost @ #126

    Would you ban “Huck Finn”, the quintessential anti-slavery novel, not to mention the quintessential American novel of all time? Or would you just remove the offensive term from the book so new readers wouldn’t even know how things used to be? Why not expunge all the nastiness from history, literature, television, etc?

    That’s a fallacious parallel. This story is not being presented in some abstract past where ableist language is OK and mentally disabled people are routinely equated to children (they still may be today, but there is a push against this). The issue is not about whitewashing the presentation of a story, but rather the fact that the writer seems perfectly comfortable using hurtful, prejudiced language against a specific group of people.

  120. BabblingBear says

    Some of you need to grow up and quit being so easily offended on other’s behalves. If the word “fucker” is so infuriating to you, I don’t what to tell you other than to stop being a pussy. It’s a word, get over it and grow up. In some places it’s a commonly used word. I use the word “fuck” all the time, I love this word. You show up in the OR? I might say “fucker is getting tachypnic” or maybe “Hmmm, this fucker is having a malignant hyperthermic reaction to the succinylcholine we used with the etomidate”. I don’t really care if you are black, white, Jewish, Bahraini, mentally handicapped or my mother—you’re likely to be called a fucker by me, because that is what I call people. Welcome to the 21st century.

    Nor did I feel that Jim’s use of “man-child” was at all condescending. In the literary style of the story it conveyed a better character description other than repeating “mentally disabled gentlemen” over and over again. The first part was obviously parable rather than just the regurgitation of factual narrative, which nicely complemented Jim’s thesis at the end; why he is an atheist. If you’re too stupid to understand that, well than you’re too stupid to understand that and there is little Jim or anyone else can do to explain it to you.

    Good read Jim, don’t let the naysayers hold you down.

  121. McWaffle says

    Hmm, I guess I should have said, “defamatory epithet.” I had mistakenly assumed that “epithet” was always used with that connotation. Touché.

  122. Carlie says

    The issue is not about whitewashing the presentation of a story, but rather the fact that the writer seems perfectly comfortable using hurtful, prejudiced language against a specific group of people.

    I think that’s even a secondary issue, with the main one being that he thinks that it’s a huge big deal to treat someone with kindness. There’s an underlying “othering” and treating the guy as a lesser being just because of his mental issues. It’s an incredibly common attitude, and I don’t fault the author for growing up with it (because it’s everywhere), but that doesn’t make it right. I would guess this might be the first time he’s encountered the argument that this isn’t actually a great inspiring story and attitude to have, and it takes awhile to train it out of your system.

    jacob, most of my comments assumed that you were talking about the OP and were in reference to it; I didn’t realize that you were complaining what people were saying to you, not what they were saying about the OP.

  123. Ewan Macdonald says

    A decade or so ago it was common to hear of someone with a learning disability being describes as “having the mind of a 5 year old” or some such. That is bollocks. If you’re 40, have had 40 years of experience, 40 years of living with your disability you are not going to have the mind of child. It is degrading and ableist to use that language.
    To be provocative I’d suggest that to use “child-like” when describing a person with with learning disabilities is similar to using “snake-like” when talking about someone with no legs.

    Those are excellent points and I retract my original defence of the way the article is written. I still enjoyed the story but I can’t defend “Man-boy.”

  124. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Nor did I feel that Jim’s use of “man-child” was at all condescending. In the literary style of the story it conveyed a better character description other than repeating “mentally disabled gentlemen” over and over again.

    But the character had already been described. There was no reason to call him Man-boy ten more times. How about just calling him a man? What’s so unacceptable about that? He already pointed out that the man had a disability, so what’s the point in constantly calling him a belittling epithet? Why not just show him some respect and call him a man, or call him by name? Is there some reason he can’t just be treated as an equal?

  125. Dhorvath, OM says

    babblingbear, so it would be normal for you to call a marginalized person a fucker too? Or do you just save that for people who are broken and in need of your help? You would do well to drop pussy around these parts too, we aren’t real fond of gendered name calling.

  126. Carlie says

    *sigh*

    This has quickly turned into another episode of:

    *Someone says some thoughtless shit*

    *People point out that it was shit, mostly assuming that it was thoughtless rather than malicious, so that the person who said it will know next time not to spout said thoughtless shit, or at least will know that a lot of people will hear it as shit*

    *Other people who have nothing to do with it scream OMG CENSORSHIP about thoughtless shit being pointed out, because apparently it violates the US constitution to ever have anyone get constructive criticism about anything, ever*

  127. jacobfromlost says

    “One does not have to intend something to be derogatory for it to be derogatory.”

    This is true. I didn’t see him intending to be derogatory nor being derogatory, except insofar as those two paragraphs I mentioned earlier did seem condescending to me.

    “Really? I’m afraid I don’t follow. I don’t see anything in the second half that really has much to do with the first half. Certainly nothing that points out how wrong his attitude toward the man was, or how it’s wrong to repeatedly call somebody a Man-boy.”

    Well, he did talk about how the guy was not “merely existing” but was in fact “LIVING”. (Of course, that was in the two paragraphs that I didn’t like so much, lol. Being condescending in one paragraph, then turning on a dime in a realization that Lollipop Man was indeed a person too, was really too much condescension for me. No one said this was good literature.)

    “This is like telling me that my knee isn’t really messed up because that girl didn’t mean to hit it with her car.”

    It would be like that if the guy in the story took offense to anything the author said or did. He didn’t.

    If you think the author intended to harm Lollipop Man, or if you think he intended to harm possible readers of this story by sending it to PZ who posted it, I just don’t agree.

    But being offended by this story is like jumping in front of a girl’s car and then complaining that your knee is messed up. I’d rather get in the girl’s car and see where it goes. Ultimately the car was too slow with bad mileage, even though it got me to where I wanted to go. I’d rather be driving a Ferrari up hills, around corners, through fruit stands, and down the unexplored alleys.

  128. mikee says

    @Carlie 127

    “If someone is being unintentionally clueless and cruel, and is a good person, shouldn’t they want to have that unfortunate behavior pointed out so they won’t do it again? How is it being mean to do so?”

    I agree, and if you read the rest of the comment you took this quote from you will see that I have no problem with people telling the author what they think.
    However, I think it is more valuable for people to explain clearly why they don’t agree with it so the author can understand how they rather than comments such as

    “This is degrading filth.” @122

    For example, I had trouble understanding the issue with the term “man-child” and “man-boy”. My experience hasn’t encountered these as derogatory terms. However, Grumps comment at #132, is giving me a different side to this which I’m thinking about.
    I’m still not quite sure I understand his/her view but it is making me think.

    When someone works with, or is part of a minority, one can become sensitive to language that the wider public does not realise is insulting. As a gay man, I’ve been in the position where I’ve had to challenge a group of classmates on what I found was an insulting comment. When I did, most of them didn’t understand how I could find what they said was insulting. However, because I challenged them calmly and nonjudgementally we had no further problems in class.

  129. Slammo says

    So apparently most are missing the point of the story.

    PC is certainly being over used in this thread.

    What did I get from this story? That the author realizes that the “Limited” aren’t as limited as he first thought. That doing something good for a person who is often overlooked is the right thing to do.

    For those who are so offended by the use of “man-boy” get over yourselves. It’s clearly a descriptor. And to the one who mentioned writing a story set in Africa and using the term “nigger-man” (or whatever it was), one of the greatest authors of all time used the word “Nigger” in one of his most classic of stories. The man’s name was Mark Twain.

  130. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    jacobfromlost

    I’m offended by your terminology. (irony or not? you decide, lol)

    Oooh, you’re so clever and edgy! Watch me care.

    As for your moronic second paragraph, that’s already been dealt with so there’s no need for me to address. The third paragraph was in response to my aside, to which I just say “Meh.” And actually, it wasn’t children but mostly adults that bought (or stole, in many cases) the suckers.

  131. says

    Yeah, I’d agree that the story was smug and condescending (albeit probably unintentionally so). Nor did it really have much to do with atheism.

  132. BabblingBear says

    Dhorvath, I call everyone a fucker, I clearly pointed that out. Why? Because fucker is a word I use for people, just like “dude” or “that person”. Does it offend your finer senses? I really don’t give a shit.

    Does pussy imply “gender name calling”? I’d say no, maybe you’ve lived in a little bubble of political correctness for to long you’re not up on modern slang. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pussy Obviously definition 3 was what I was going for there. The context should have made it pretty clear I wasn’t referring to a female’s genitals nor a cat. You didn’t understand? Not really my problem; maybe a little time less spent in the office.

  133. jacobfromlost says

    You: I don’t really give a flying fuck what the point of his story was.

    Me: I’m offended by your terminology. (irony or not? you decide, lol)

    You: Oooh, you’re so clever and edgy! Watch me care.

    Me now: you are being too condescending of me. I’m a person just like you.

    You: As for your moronic second paragraph,

    Me now: you called me a moron to my face. At least do it behind my back, or in a story where I can’t hear it. People like me are people too, in case you didn’t know. You should at least treat me with as much respect and dignity that I treat you. (Note how I have called no one any names at all, nor used any profanity at you. Think about it, and reevaluate your terms and attitudes.)

  134. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    It would be like that if the guy in the story took offense to anything the author said or did. He didn’t.

    Right, because as we’ve noted, it’s okay to call him a man-boy behind his back.

  135. McWaffle says

    “PC” huh? From my experience “PC” basically just means, “not throwing around racial/gendered/homophobic/etc slurs.” People who complain about “PC” tend to be people who not only don’t give a shit about what other people think, but want to be high-fived for their trouble. Basically:

    “Why doesn’t everybody love me for unabashedly using the word Cunt? I think I should be respected for that.”

    Nobody’s going to stop you from saying “man-boy” all you like. Grumps pointed out exactly why that’s derogatory (although I believe that should have been clear). If you continue to use defamatory language, you’re going to get shit from the commentariat and lose respect. That’s the long and the short of it. It’s not “PC” or “thought police.”

    And the Twain thing? Asked, ridiculed for being such an obviously poor analogy, and answered nonetheless.

  136. mikee says

    @Grumps 132

    I found your post quite illuminating and it really made me think, but I fear I am still being a bit thick. With the following comment, my interpretation was the the poster was telling people not to treat deaf people as stupid.

    …hang on a minute, the penny just dropped (I think). Do you mean that the poster was supporting the deaf at the expense of those with learning disabilities?

    Hmmm, I can feel my perceptions shifting – thanks Grumps

    “Oh, while I’m on my high horse I’d also like to add that the use of “stupid” as an insult is also ableist. The Royal National Institute for the Deaf ran a poster campaign a few years ago where they portrayed deaf people saying “I may be deaf but I’m not stupid”, this was (rightly) challenged by MENCAP”

  137. Grumps says

    @ mikee 143
    It really is quite simple. A person is born with a disability (or not). They live a life. They experience frustration,joy,love, fulfillment, disappointment, etc, as do we all. No child has been through that. Likening a person with learning disabilities to a child is just incorrect factually and wrong morally.

  138. says

    @Slammo

    Hahahaha! Man, that was good. I like how you compared a book written in the late 19th century with a piece written in 2011 as a way to parodise people who’d draw a spurious connection to acceptable attitudes then and now. I particularly like that you drew on one where the word was used by a third party character, rather than autobiographically, and in a novel to a certain degree critical of those attitudes, to highlight the absurdity of that sort of comparison.

  139. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Me now: you are being too condescending of me. I’m a person just like you.

    But I’m being condescending to you because of your behavior here, not because of some condition that’s beyond your control.

    you called me a moron to my face. At least do it behind my back, or in a story where I can’t hear it.

    Much better! You really did manage to be ironic that time. Nicely done!

    Note how I have called no one any names at all, nor used any profanity at you. Think about it, and reevaluate your terms and attitudes.

    Why should I give a fuck if you use profanity? Why? You’re telling me you’re not mature enough to handle language used by adults and that’s supposed to make me feel bad about myself somehow? And by the way, I didn’t call you a moron, yet. I said your words were moronic. Are you smart enough to see the difference? The answer to that question is also the answer to the question “Is it worth my time to continue addressing you?” Though, actually, it’s almost quitting time and I have a busy evening ahead of me, so I’ll probably disappear soon anyway.

  140. Grumps says

    PS mikee I posted that comment before seeing your most recent one. Will get back to you on that soon

  141. Slammo says

    Grumps….Do you speak for ALL the children of the world? I’ve known quite a few who have had more life’s experiences than a 40 year old man.

    Why are so many bitching about the wording of the story rather than the message of the story itself?

    Seems to me some people just like to find whatever they can to bitch about. (and hear themselves doing it)

    Pretty miserable way to live……

  142. McWaffle says

    Also, a good thing to note: nobody here is offended by the word “fuck” or “fucker”. I don’t think. Fuck Fuck Fuck! That’s just really, really not the issue here. Had the author’s “Fucker was a businessman” appeared without the prior context (his use of “man-boy”), I don’t think anybody would have a major concern.

  143. mikee says

    @Grumps #152

    Thanks for making me see what I couldn’t before. I really appreciate the shift in perspective

  144. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Slammo,

    A lot of us would prefer if you not use the word ‘bitch’ around here. Please don’t. It’s rather sexist. Also please note that I’m asking nicely and not trying to be “thought police”.

  145. McWaffle says

    @156

    Oh, right, since non-special needs kids suffer abuse at a higher rate than children with special needs. Oh wait, that’s almost certainly NOT the case. And, it seems to me, that special needs children grow up into special needs adults, who then, by your logic, have an almost inhuman amount of life experience.

  146. Steven K. says

    I think there maybe a broken part of the analysis here.. admittedly Jim was raised in a religious home. Humans, being creatures of environmental adaptation and habit, tend to lay a foundation of psychiatric and socialogial foundation through peers and parents early off. Is it possible that his PARENTS firm belief in God (do unto other’s and the like) are so ingrained in Jim that he still follows “The Word of God” and thereby, his children will not because he is not instilling the basic moralities (christian values) in them. TO simplify.. Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally. Is that why he felt compelled to blog this story? Is that why he found a situation such as this (which some of feel are an everyday occurance) memorable? Is it an internal question that needs expressed based upon the lack of parental figures to pose such deep thoughts to? Just a “devil’s advocate” interpretation by someone who is fascinated with the meanderings of the human mind..

  147. mikee says

    @161

    “Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally.”

    Ooohhhh, a godbot and condescending to match. Perhaps this could unite Pharyngulites :-)

  148. McWaffle says

    And, again, this is another scenario in which most peoples’ initial reaction to the story was, “if this really happened, then good on that guy, though he’s used some pretty demeaning language when telling it”. It’s only after people started seriously defending the term “man-boy” that things got heated.

  149. jacobfromlost says

    “But I’m being condescending to you because of your behavior here, not because of some condition that’s beyond your control.”

    Just so you make it clear that it is ok to be condescending when you do it, to certain people, in specific instances.

    “Why should I give a fuck if you use profanity? Why?”

    I didn’t say you should. I’m just pointing out that I have more respect for you than you do for me. It is quite telling.

    “You’re telling me you’re not mature enough to handle language used by adults and that’s supposed to make me feel bad about myself somehow?”

    No, I’m handling it fine. I just don’t need to resort to it. Perhaps you do. lol

    “And by the way, I didn’t call you a moron, yet. I said your words were moronic.”

    You should treat people like me with more respect.

    “Are you smart enough to see the difference?”

    What if I’m not? Is it ok to call me a moron then? I hope you would say not.

    “The answer to that question is also the answer to the question “Is it worth my time to continue addressing you?””

    You’re not addressing me, I’m addressing you.

    Sincerely and respectfully yours,
    jacobfromlost

  150. McWaffle says

    Jacob’s descended entirely into tone trolling. I’m beginning to doubt he’s from Lost at all…

  151. Sally Strange, OM says

    See, this is why it’s worth it to avoid ableist, sexist, racist, etc. language. Your message, however well-meaning and worthwhile it may be, gets obscured behind the controversy and the offense caused to some people.

    Hey, maybe the offense is worth it to you to continue using a certain style of writing or communication. At the very least though, consider that there will be a trade-off.

  152. mikee says

    @Steven K #161

    I was brought up as a christian and probably retain some of the “values” that I was taught, while discarding others (homophobia, misogyny, belief in the infallability of religious leaders, condemnation of contraception etc).

    As an atheist, I have thought through what is moral and fair in life and I act accordingly. The suggestion that the children of atheists might be spiritually disabled is condescending, patronising and indeed hypocritical given the behaviour of many religious people I have met.

  153. jacobfromlost says

    “Jacob’s descended entirely into tone trolling. I’m beginning to doubt he’s from Lost at all…”

    I apologize, I just couldn’t help it. When people insist that everyone should be treated with respect by being disrespectful…then insist certain words shouldn’t be used by using many commonly offensive words…then insist condescending attitudes are terrible and illustrate it by condescending to individuals who don’t even hold such aattitudes…

    I get annoyed. I didn’t call anyone a moron, I didn’t say anyone was stupid for not agreeing with me, I didn’t fall back on a lot of profanity.

    And I’m not the island right now! You can’t prove I’m not (therefore I am)!

  154. Dhorvath, OM says

    BabblingBear,

    I call everyone a fucker, I clearly pointed that out. Why? Because fucker is a word I use for people, just like “dude” or “that person”.

    Yeah, must be nice to just up and define words to mean only what you intend. Do you call your parents fuckers? “Coming over for dinner fuckers?” How about your children? “It’s bedtime fuckers.” Perfect stranger walking down the street? “Hey fucker, you dropped some cash.” I call bullshit. You have rules about where you use terms, even if you don’t want to admit it here, this is how being in a large society works, we recognize that there are rules for work, rules for strangers, rules for home, etc.
    Fucker is used by a great number of people to indicate something worthy of derision, if it doesn’t bother you that people will take that use from your words I can scarce imagine relating to you whatsoever.

    Does it offend your finer senses? I really don’t give a shit.

    Finer? Yeah, cause I would totally never swear. I don’t use derogatory terms to refer to people who have done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment.

    Does pussy imply “gender name calling”? I’d say no,

    You don’t get to make that decision, in this community it is considered too loaded with sexist background to use in your manner without insulting women. If you are unconcerned, have at it, but rest assured you will be challenged on this by more than myself.

    maybe you’ve lived in a little bubble of political correctness for to long you’re not up on modern slang. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pussy Obviously definition 3 was what I was going for there. The context should have made it pretty clear I wasn’t referring to a female’s genitals nor a cat. You didn’t understand? Not really my problem; maybe a little time less spent in the office.

    I gave you a heads up, your response is telling. What does it cost to tailor your language? Is your brain that hard up for processing that it can’t fumble through the rest of your vocabulary for terms that allow you to communicate without offence? Or do you just thrive on being obtuse and hurtful?

  155. Sally Strange, OM says

    I think there maybe a broken part of the analysis here.. admittedly Jim was raised in a religious home. Humans, being creatures of environmental adaptation and habit, tend to lay a foundation of psychiatric and socialogial foundation through peers and parents early off. Is it possible that his PARENTS firm belief in God (do unto other’s and the like) are so ingrained in Jim that he still follows “The Word of God” and thereby, his children will not because he is not instilling the basic moralities (christian values) in them. TO simplify.. Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally.

    As a person who was raised without religious indoctrination, I find your implication both laughable and offensive. I know right from wrong. The only difference between me and a person raised with Christian moral values is that I have fewer hang-ups about sex, and am not perpetually worrying that a celestial peeping Tom is spying on my behavior and judging me for it.

    Is that why he felt compelled to blog this story? Is that why he found a situation such as this (which some of feel are an everyday occurance) memorable? Is it an internal question that needs expressed based upon the lack of parental figures to pose such deep thoughts to? Just a “devil’s advocate” interpretation by someone who is fascinated with the meanderings of the human mind..

    Just someone who can’t stand behind his own beliefs, I see, but feels compelled add a transparently false disclaimer that he doesn’t really mean what he’s saying, he’s just saying, kind of like how Glenn Beck wonders whether liberals are all in on a conspiracy to destroy the constitution and send all conservatives to FEMA concentration camps, you know, he’s just saying…

    Gutless coward.

  156. Steven K. says

    @162

    No, you are seeing what you want to. I asked pointed psychiatric and sociological questions to be discussed. The exsistance of God was not and will not be brought up by myself. The questions remain as to WHY Jim wrote this work of prose (Ficticious or true doesn’t matter) and why are there so many key words used in reference to past and future while the “Manchild” is used to link the two in the present?

  157. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    jacobfromlost,

    Damn that was a lot of tone trolling.

    Just so you make it clear that it is ok to be condescending when you do it, to certain people, in specific instances.

    Not just when I do it. You’re being plenty condescending to me right now, too. You just don’t see it that way. But it’s okay, because I don’t care. You’re not being sexist, racist, or ableist with it, just argumentative and that’s fine.

    I’m just pointing out that I have more respect for you than you do for me.

    No you don’t, or you’d be a lot less intellectually dishonest.

    I just don’t need to resort to it. Perhaps you do. lol

    Perhaps I don’t. Perhaps I just choose to. But hey, as long as it gives you a reason to feel superior, then all the better.

    You should treat people like me with more respect.

    I’m treating you with plenty of respect. But I’m not treating your argument with any at all. So you answered my question right there. You don’t see the difference at all.

    What if I’m not? Is it ok to call me a moron then? I hope you would say not.

    That is actually an excellent question. The thing is, I can tell enough about you from the way that you write to infer that your obtuseness is not innate.

    Sincerely and respectfully yours,

    Bullshit. You have not been respectful at all. Sure, you didn’t call me any names or use dirty words. But you also have not been entirely honest. And now you’re just tone trolling, which is incredibly disrespectful.

    And with that, I have to leave. I’m actually running late. Feel free to respond, but I may not be able to reply for a day or two. But I imagine some of the regulars here will pick up my slack.

  158. Becky Robinson says

    Jim great read..knowing you and how you communicate .. I could almost hear and see you talking to this “man-boy” and totally understood your using that terminology .. I often refer to my son (17) as a manchild… and its not to degrade him…its honesty.. the body of a man run by the mind of a something not quite a man, still childlike in many ways. I too grew up in a Catholic household and from a very young age, questioned EVERYTHING .. not very popular in a Catholic school lemme tell you. But so much does not make sense to me about the dogma taught. No, I am not and atheist ..I guess I would be classified as a deist.. a believer in a higher power. where MANs laws and rules and controlling nature have no meaning and only what we instinctively know is right and wrong is what should be followed.. for even the most evil of beings KNOW when they are wrong.. and even the most mindless of beings know when something is good

    ~*~ Kudos Jim

  159. Carlie says

    When people insist that everyone should be treated with respect by being disrespectful

    Using profanity isn’t disrespectful.

    …then insist certain words shouldn’t be used by using many commonly offensive words

    The only words we object to are those that slur and demean groups of people based on traits that are beyond their control, such as physical characteristics, particularly those with a long history of being used on oppressed groups. “Fuck off” is fine; “fuck off, retard”, not so much. See the difference?

    …then insist condescending attitudes are terrible and illustrate it by condescending to individuals who don’t even hold such aattitudes…

    Condescending attitudes towards people based on their physical characteristics are terrible. Condescending attitudes towards people who are making spurious and ridiculous arguments because of their arguments is just a response to the arguments.

  160. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I didn’t fall back on a lot of profanity

    Again with that! Who gives a fuck if you use profanity?! What makes you ever so fucking special because you didn’t “fall back on it”? Oh, you delicate little snowflake. The fainting couch is outside by the dumpster.

  161. Slammo says

    Steven K @ 171:

    I suspect because the more he saw his own children in the Man-boy, the more he could relate with how man-boy should be treated. That although this man was of limited “whatever”, he is in no way any different than all of us. I saw this in the “Existing” paragraph and the paragraph that followed. The man was initially perceived as “existing” but upon closer examination, he was “full of light” and “inspired”.

    Why people can’t see that is beyond me.

  162. Dhorvath, OM says

    Steve K,
    I doubt you would find anyone here who would argue that children don’t learn to be moral at least in some part due to the influences of their parents behaviour while they grow up. Where we would differ is on your notion that doing things because some deity supposedly decreed it as proper is easier behaviour to pass along to children than teaching children to have a care about the things they do because other people respond to their actions and that is an important thing to consider.

  163. Grumps says

    @slammo 156
    i don’t think you’ve understood what I’m trying to say.
    I have no problem with the message of the story. Yes, being nice to people is generally a good idea.
    But why use condescending, self-aggrandising, ableist language to do it?

    I’ve had the privilege of getting to know (and by “getting to know” I mean spending every working day one-on-one close contact interaction) a number of people with learning difficulties over the last 30 years.

    Not really a “pretty miserable way to live…” actually, really rather wonderful.

  164. Sally Strange, OM says

    No, you are seeing what you want to. I asked pointed psychiatric and sociological questions to be discussed.

    They are not psychiatric and sociological questions you brought up. All you have contributed is your unsupported assumption that Christian morality is somehow superior to atheist morality, such that children brought up in an atheist household will be “spiritually handicapped,” and thus morally handicapped as well.

    The exsistance of God was not and will not be brought up by myself.

    You assume that Christian upbringing confers some special advantage in behaving morally. Thus we deduce that you believe in the power of the Christian god. Otherwise, why would you hold such a belief?

    The questions remain as to WHY Jim wrote this work of prose (Ficticious or true doesn’t matter) and why are there so many key words used in reference to past and future while the “Manchild” is used to link the two in the present?

    You clearly have an answer in mind to this question, but are too much of a coward to simply provide the answer yourself. Either spit it out, in which case we can talk about it, or fuck off. Your choice. I for one am uninterested in dancing around the issue.

  165. Carlie says

    The man was initially perceived as “existing” but upon closer examination, he was “full of light” and “inspired”.

    Why people can’t see that is beyond me.

    It’s beyond me why you can’t see that this point was not only noted, but also objected to with links to longer essays about why the trope of “inspired disabled person” is a bad one.

  166. mikee says

    @Steven K #161

    “Is it possible that his PARENTS firm belief in God (do unto other’s and the like) are so ingrained in Jim that he still follows “The Word of God” and thereby, his children will not because he is not instilling the basic moralities (christian values) in them. TO simplify.. Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally.”

    Ummmmm, NO.

    (In retrospect I thought a simpler answer might be better)

  167. Slammo says

    @ Grumps:

    Read again, I didn’t say “Pretty miserable way to live” in the way you think.

    I’m reading this thread and it’s comments and seeing a focus on a few WORDS rather than the actual message. This to me is just finding a reason to pick something apart.

    THAT is a “Pretty miserable way to live”.

  168. Steven K. says

    @ 176 Slammo

    Yes, I agree however, there seemed to be a sense of longing for the past that the “manchild” filled in Jim (even for the short trip from store to car) which he ses devoid in the future. Could it just be that he misses the exuberance that his childrens youth gave him long ago that can never be recaputred? Mayhaps thiswork is more about time slipping through our fingers and the little moments that make life memorable and our constant search for them.. (this one is a stretch but a little viable)

  169. Slammo says

    @Carlie #180:

    So we aren’t supposed to be inspired by handicapped people?

    Not sure what you’re getting at….

  170. Grumps says

    @Slammo

    OK, take your point, but

    1. The actual message was pretty simplistic

    2. WORDS actually matter. Don’t you go calling my brain injured, 21 year old son a “man-boy”, ‘cos if you do he’ll rip your fucking condescending heart out. (however well meaning you think you are)

  171. Sally Strange, OM says

    Yooohooooo

    Over here Steven K!

    Or are you just selectively deaf to people who spot and challenge your basic assumptions?

  172. Steven K. says

    @179 and 181.. and we never went to the moon and Kennedy was killed by the mafia and there are UFO’s in Roswell and Masons run the goverment and 9-11 never happened and… yeah we all get your point.. the only thing is.. your wrong.. I study literature and am quite fond of the topic of what inspires writers to choose the topics they do. Sometimes a rose is a rose is a rose… so, buck up you Sherlock Holmes dynamic duo and move onto another topic.. Stan Lee is waiting for his next graphic novel conspricy theorist to knock on Captian America’s door. (These two listen to too much talk radio and spend WAY to much time online)

  173. jacobfromlost says

    Me before: Just so you make it clear that it is ok to be condescending when you do it, to certain people, in specific instances.

    You: Not just when I do it. You’re being plenty condescending to me right now, too. You just don’t see it that way. But it’s okay, because I don’t care. You’re not being sexist, racist, or ableist with it, just argumentative and that’s fine.

    Me now: It is not my objective to be argumentative. It is only to be given the common decency that you claim everyone deserves.

    Me before: I’m just pointing out that I have more respect for you than you do for me.

    You: No you don’t, or you’d be a lot less intellectually dishonest.

    Me now: Now responding to you so that the irony of what you are saying is obvious is dismissed as “tone trolling” and dishonest? I would HOPE everyone would see the irony in disrespectfully advocating that everyone be respectful of each other.

    Me before: I just don’t need to resort to it. Perhaps you do. lol

    Me now: Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t have laughed out loud. But it was funny (the irony of it).

    You: Perhaps I don’t. Perhaps I just choose to. But hey, as long as it gives you a reason to feel superior, then all the better.

    Me now: I don’t feel superior. It is just common decency not to call others names in a civil discussion, or attribute attitudes to them that they don’t hold, or to hurl a bunch of profanity at another human being.

    Me before: you should treat people like me with more respect.

    You: I’m treating you with plenty of respect.

    Me now: You should be on my end. Doesn’t feel very respectful to me. Unlike Lollipop Man, I am feeling some offense.

    You: But I’m not treating your argument with any at all. So you answered my question right there. You don’t see the difference at all.

    Me now: I see the difference, and you are blurring the line because you want to be disrespectful to ME. I, however, have no desire to be disrespectful to you, tone trolling irony notwithstanding. (You’re also blurring the line between my argument and what you want my argument to be.)

    Me before: What if I’m not? Is it ok to call me a moron then? I hope you would say not.

    You: That is actually an excellent question.

    Me now: I know.

    You: The thing is, I can tell enough about you from the way that you write to infer that your obtuseness is not innate.

    Me now: I’m feeling like you are being condescending again.

    Me before: Sincerely and respectfully yours,

    You: Bullshit.

    Me now: What? Why do you think I’m insincere?

    You: You have not been respectful at all.

    Me now: I haven’t been respectful AT ALL? I think I have been very respectful and consistently so. Agreeing with you is not a requirement for respect, I hope you would agree.

    You: Sure, you didn’t call me any names or use dirty words.

    Me now: Nor would I ever.

    You: But you also have not been entirely honest.

    Me now: I’ve been 99% honest. I only pointed out your ironic position…but even then I was honest in everything I said, so let’s just round up to 100% honest.

    You: And now you’re just tone trolling, which is incredibly disrespectful.

    Me now: Nope. Honest.

    You: And with that, I have to leave. I’m actually running late. Feel free to respond, but I may not be able to reply for a day or two. But I imagine some of the regulars here will pick up my slack.

    Me now: How am I to be respectful now? The fact that I’m consistently respectful to everyone will be seen as “tone trolling” and I lose no matter what. Good grief. Explain how I can prove I am respectful without agreeing with you, if being respectful in everything I say is not good enough.

  174. 1000 Needles says

    Thanks for the heartwarming story, Jim. And thanks for posting it, PZ.

    The commenters that are shitting on the author for his use of language have missed the point.

    Aside from the kind act and good-without-god message, another important point to the story was that the author underestimated the intellectual capacity of the handicapped man, and through their mutual interaction, the author’s consciousness was raised regarding the mental faculties of the man and of the mentally-handicapped people in general.

    The language used adds to the honestly of the author’s assessment.

  175. BabblingBear says

    Dhorvath, OM,


    Yeah, must be nice to just up and define words to mean only what you intend. Do you call your parents fuckers? “Coming over for dinner fuckers?” How about your children? “It’s bedtime fuckers.” Perfect stranger walking down the street? “Hey fucker, you dropped some cash.” I call bullshit. You have rules about where you use terms, even if you don’t want to admit it here, this is how being in a large society works, we recognize that there are rules for work, rules for strangers, rules for home, etc.
    Fucker is used by a great number of people to indicate something worthy of derision, if it doesn’t bother you that people will take that use from your words I can scarce imagine relating to you whatsoever.

    Sorry, you’re telencephalon must not have been warmed up, obviously you missed it when I said “or my mother”. Obviously I don’t call my kids fucker. Certainly you have to play the game by certain rules, during medical school I never would have said “hey fucker” to one of my professors–Their game, their rules.

    Finer? Yeah, cause I would totally never swear. I don’t use derogatory terms to refer to people who have done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment.

    Good for you Dhorvath, unfortunately for you though my goal in life isn’t to tiptoe around those finer senses you may have. I’m glad you’ve got a high horse for “swear words” (really, swear words? Jesus, what generation are you from?), but I’m inclined to agree with Eminem “Will Smith don’t got to cuss in his raps to sell records well I do, so fuck him and fuck you too”.

    You don’t get to make that decision, in this community it is considered too loaded with sexist background to use in your manner without insulting women. If you are unconcerned, have at it, but rest assured you will be challenged on this by more than myself.

    Well fortunately for me, you don’t get to make decisions on colloquial uses of words. Implied there in the definition of the word colloquial.

    I gave you a heads up, your response is telling. What does it cost to tailor your language? Is your brain that hard up for processing that it can’t fumble through the rest of your vocabulary for terms that allow you to communicate without offence? Or do you just thrive on being obtuse and hurtful?

    Really? That’s it? My brain, come on you can do better that. Maybe Google a class on Ad hom’s. Language and its use is a product of the culture it is inherit too–Obviously, our cultures are different. Mine is of a black-pinko-commie-atheist-doctor-from the projects. I have white friends (about as rare as an Amur leopard where I’m from) that say things like “get over here and give me a hug my nigga”. Two ways that can go, my finer senses can be offended by such “degrading and racially charged language” or I can pass on the whole judging a book by its cover, and judge them on their actions. Had their actions included “get over here my nigga” while donning a white hood and twirling their rope, rest assured my finer senses would be offended and I’d judge away. That not being the case and understanding the culture they are from, rather than be offended, I understand exactly what they mean by their language.

    That’s the point you seem to be missing. Rather than just assuming the author (whom you’ve never met) of a short piece on the internets uses terms to be your meaning (“worthy of derision”), why not think out of the box? Anyway, I’m sure this was an exercise in futility, in which case keep up the good work with policing the internets to make it comply with your high-horse cultural dispositions.

    Good day, fucker.

  176. Steven K. says

    Liver-lips.. Go get me a sammitch you dirty.. if your legs worked as fast as your fingers.. your house wouldn’t be a mess and you’d have a dozen kids. That’s the problem with woman’s lib.. they have opionions. Woman should be more like children. beaten and thrown under the stairs only to be used for special occasions. YES! GOD IS GREAT AND LIVES! He’s coming over my house next tuesday with a handful of Vicodens and a fifth of Jack.. you wanna come? Too bad your who-who stinks! Is that more what you are trawling for?

  177. mikee says

    Nice one, Steven K.

    Pose a question

    “Is it possible that his PARENTS firm belief in God (do unto other’s and the like) are so ingrained in Jim that he still follows “The Word of God” and thereby, his children will not because he is not instilling the basic moralities (christian values) in them. TO simplify.. Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally.”

    And then when you are challenged on the validity of it, make up some strange response invoking conspiracy theories @187

    Did you, or did not, ask the question above?

  178. Sally Strange, OM says

    Liver-lips.. Go get me a sammitch you dirty.. if your legs worked as fast as your fingers.. your house wouldn’t be a mess and you’d have a dozen kids. That’s the problem with woman’s lib.. they have opionions. Woman should be more like children. beaten and thrown under the stairs only to be used for special occasions. YES! GOD IS GREAT AND LIVES! He’s coming over my house next tuesday with a handful of Vicodens and a fifth of Jack.. you wanna come? Too bad your who-who stinks! Is that more what you are trawling for?

    Well, no, I was more expecting you to try to justify why you think there’s something special about Christian morality. In which case I would have been happy to engage in a discussion about the nature of morality, etc.

    But thanks for revealing that you are a worthless, immoral, misogynist, stinking pustule on the ass of humanity. Saves the rest of us a lot of time.

  179. mikee says

    How ironic, that on a site where evolution is often discussed we get to see such a rapid devolution of Steven K.’s writing from
    #161 to #191

    Simply amazing.

    Careful, your true “christian” values are showing.

  180. BabblingBear says

    @Sally,

    They are not psychiatric and sociological questions you brought up. All you have contributed is your unsupported assumption that Christian morality is somehow superior to atheist morality, such that children brought up in an atheist household will be “spiritually handicapped,” and thus morally handicapped as well.

    Its not just superior to atheist morality that silly Steve assumes. Considering that a majority of the worlds children aren’t actually raised in christian homes with “christian morals”, yet by some miracle partake in morality; kind of shoots Steve’s whole premise in the ass. Fuck, even non-human primates practice morality. So what is it Steve, are bonbos and chimpanzees in the Congo basin secretly rearing their young with bibles the missionaries misplaced?

  181. Sally Strange, OM says

    Having an obviously female pseudonym is pretty awesome sometimes. The response by trolls, particularly religious ones, is quite telling.

    Yes, Christian “morality” is so superior. You can tell by the way they verbally abuse uppity women.

  182. BabblingBear says

    Remember Mikee, there is no such thing as “devolution”–It’s directionless, about like Steve’s rantings. :)

    The brain-washers of Abraham existed as they always have, no amount of apologetics or lies to appeal to moderates will change what is written into their bones.

  183. says

    Steven K:

    Liver-lips.. Go get me a sammitch you dirty.. if your legs worked as fast as your fingers.. your house wouldn’t be a mess and you’d have a dozen kids. That’s the problem with woman’s lib.. they have opionions. Woman should be more like children. beaten and thrown under the stairs only to be used for special occasions. YES! GOD IS GREAT AND LIVES! He’s coming over my house next tuesday with a handful of Vicodens and a fifth of Jack.. you wanna come? Too bad your who-who stinks! Is that more what you are trawling for?

    I see good ol’ christian famblee values are here. Ugh.

  184. Steven K. says

    yes 192 I did.. I am asking why he refers to his children in bygone terms and is conviently reminded of them twice and mentions once more by this manchild who he deems as “enlightened” and analagized Jim to Jesus which he rejects based of the pain of his parents death and the non-answering of “prayers”. At the end of the story Jim is left without money and feels richer for the experience (classic Christian value) where did he get the vales from? Why does he long for (bring up the past with reverance) the time with his children when they were younger? Have they Changed? Has Jim Changed? What about the Manchild make him long for his Children.. Being the fact that this story is about someones afermation of Athieism I Think it strange to have so many core Christian Values brought up as Good things and then to reject them. SO I posed the Question.. is it the past that he misses along with his Religious up bringing (THE TOPICOF THE STORY.. duh)

  185. BabblingBear says

    @Steve

    “At the end of the story Jim is left without money and feels richer for the experience (classic Christian value) where did he get the vales from?”

    If in the small world you inhabit, you believe that christian’s have a monopoly on being generous and donating to people who aren’t kin, then not only are you deluded–But you’re about as historically and biologically well read as the calculator sitting on my desk. Bot away, god bot, bot away.

  186. mikee says

    @Steven K. #200

    That’s strange I thought your question(s) was:

    “Is it possible that his PARENTS firm belief in God (do unto other’s and the like) are so ingrained in Jim that he still follows “The Word of God” and thereby, his children will not because he is not instilling the basic moralities (christian values) in them. TO simplify.. Jim has a foundation of Christian values and he is not laying the same foundation in his children.. will they become as “spiritually” handicapped the Man-child is mentally.””

    Can you not see how the way you have phrased the question implies that christian values are superior? Not to mention making some huge assumptions e.g. everything following “TO simplify…”

  187. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ Babbling Bear

    I think you’re missing something important here: Steven K thinks it’s within the bounds of morality to beat women and children.

    I don’t think he gets to talk about “Christian morality” anymore.

  188. Dhorvath, OM says

    BabblingBear,

    Sorry, you’re telencephalon must not have been warmed up, obviously you missed it when I said “or my mother”.

    Yep, sigh.

    Obviously I don’t call my kids fucker. Certainly you have to play the game by certain rules, during medical school I never would have said “hey fucker” to one of my professors–Their game, their rules.

    Not quite so obviously or I wouldn’t have pressed the issue.

    Good for you Dhorvath, unfortunately for you though my goal in life isn’t to tiptoe around those finer senses you may have. I’m glad you’ve got a high horse for “swear words” (really, swear words? Jesus, what generation are you from?), but I’m inclined to agree with Eminem “Will Smith don’t got to cuss in his raps to sell records well I do, so fuck him and fuck you too”.

    Yeah, here, have a sarcasm meter, it might help. I have specific problems with specific words and where they are used. I wasn’t objecting to you using fucker, I was disputing that you use it everywhere and for everyone. Since you have said you do make distinctions about where you use it and to whom, I am not really looking to talk about the finer nuance of where and when. That you recognize the ability to see differing situations and make decisions about language is all I was seeking.

    Well fortunately for me, you don’t get to make decisions on colloquial uses of words. Implied there in the definition of the word colloquial.

    I also don’t dispute that there are people who hear pussy and think nothing more of it than you do. What I am trying to tell you is that doesn’t undo the fact it has a gendered connotation for some, whether explicitly recognized or passively internalized, and that connotation puts women down.

    Really? That’s it? My brain, come on you can do better that. Maybe Google a class on Ad hom’s.

    I wasn’t striving to impress. Surely you can spare a thought to the words you use, you have already said you do so for fucker, why not lend a little consideration to pussy while you are at it.

    Language and its use is a product of the culture it is inherit too–Obviously, our cultures are different. Mine is of a black-pinko-commie-atheist-doctor-from the projects.

    I am uncertain why you tell me this.

    I have white friends (about as rare as an Amur leopard where I’m from) that say things like “get over here and give me a hug my nigga”. Two ways that can go, my finer senses can be offended by such “degrading and racially charged language” or I can pass on the whole judging a book by its cover, and judge them on their actions.

    Using words is an action, it’s very mild often enough, and more often than not it is given very little thought. That doesn’t mean that words have no power though, they are pervasive and have effects that are tied both to their intent and to their history. One can’t just up and decide that a word no longer has power, it takes years of effort to reclaim a word from a negative connotation, if it can be done at all.

    Had their actions included “get over here my nigga” while donning a white hood and twirling their rope, rest assured my finer senses would be offended and I’d judge away. That not being the case and understanding the culture they are from, rather than be offended, I understand exactly what they mean by their language.

    So? Would I? Or would you have to inform me that in your context, in your culture, I need to adjust my words to suit?

    That’s the point you seem to be missing. Rather than just assuming the author (whom you’ve never met) of a short piece on the internets uses terms to be your meaning (“worthy of derision”), why not think out of the box?

    Because I suspect the author wasn’t using the words the way I received them. I worry that they were unaware of that and have inadvertently caused this discussion. I hope that they will read some part of this discussion and think about the words they use in the future. Whether they change them or not people using words with intent is a step.

    Anyway, I’m sure this was an exercise in futility, in which case keep up the good work with policing the internets to make it comply with your high-horse cultural dispositions.

    I don’t have delusions of that level of importance.

    Good day, fucker.

    That made me smile though.

  189. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    jacobfromlost

    Please use blockquote, it’s much easier for others to follow.

    It is not my objective to be argumentative. It is only to be given the common decency that you claim everyone deserves.

    Care to quote me on that?

    Now responding to you so that the irony of what you are saying is obvious is dismissed as “tone trolling” and dishonest?

    What irony?

    I would HOPE everyone would see the irony in disrespectfully advocating that everyone be respectful of each other.

    Again, care to quote me on that? I’m advocating not disrespecting people over things they can’t control. I never said anything about being civil with people who make stupid arguments.

    It is just common decency not to call others names in a civil discussion, or attribute attitudes to them that they don’t hold, or to hurl a bunch of profanity at another human being.

    This is Pharyngula. What we consider common decency here is to address what people are actually saying, not the tone with which they say it.

    You should be on my end. Doesn’t feel very respectful to me. Unlike Lollipop Man, I am feeling some offense.

    Aw. Did I hurt your feelings?

    You’re also blurring the line between my argument and what you want my argument to be.

    Then perhaps you need to be more clear about what your argument is.

    What? Why do you think I’m insincere?

    The proof is in the pudding. Your spending too much time worrying about who did or did not use profanity than about the original argument.

    I only pointed out your ironic position…but even then I was honest in everything I said

    No, you were not, because there is nothing ironic about my position. Any irony you are seeing is your own invention.

    The fact that I’m consistently respectful to everyone will be seen as “tone trolling”

    No, the fact that you keep spending so much effort pointing out when other people use dirty words and you didn’t, and complaining about a few insults as an excuse to dodge the argument is why you are called a tone troll.

    Explain how I can prove I am respectful without agreeing with you, if being respectful in everything I say is not good enough.

    Drop the tone trolling and get back to the real argument. That is, that regardless of what the author intended, the words he used are insensitive to people with disabilities, in fact, some find it profoundly insulting. So whether he meant it or not, it language like that is harmful and he would do well to avoid it in the future. Stop focusing on whether he meant to be hurtful and point out what’s wrong with my argument here.

  190. BabblingBear says

    @Sally, Oh I got it. I was addressing his specific points he believes are “core Christian Values”. That he believes these values are monopolized by Christian’s is, as I expressed more eloquently above; sad.

    One only needs to observe even non-human primates to see that altruistic actions, even at the cost of fitness (Money here in Jim’s case), aren’t a human–Or even “christian phenomena”.

    I find when trying to crack the trouble-bubble of dogma, housed in the mental fortress that religion erects, its best to take it one step at a time. Let’s just plant a little doubt in the big picture then maybe we can expand the topic to such critical thought-invoking subjects such as why beating your wife and kids is morally unacceptable.

  191. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ Babbling Bear (and mikee too)

    Yes, well–given that he’s already demonstrated that he’s an immoral monster who thinks it’s okay to beat women and children, don’t you think any pronouncements from him on the value of giving money to the less fortunate are suspect? I mean, what if one of the people needing help is an uppity bitch, like me? Clearly Steven K would have no interest in donating money to help someone like me out of a tight spot. I think it’s better to just point to the fact that he himself has no grasp on morality, period, therefore it’s worthless to engage with him on the finer points of Christian vs. non-Christian morality, much less the morality of apes, chimps, and bonobos.

  192. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Look, to all you who insist on telling people they’re “missing the point” by saying the language is problematic, kindly fuck off. We get the point. The point was some self-affirming stuff about atheism and morality, dubiously illustrated by an anecdote about being nice to a disabled person. We get it.
    The language is still problematic. And to some among us who have disabilities ourselves or have friends or family with disabilities, the language and themes are hurtful enough that they completely overshadow the “point” of the story. The point is not novel or world-shattering enough that one can simply overlook its destructive presentation.
    To those oblivious folks who are saying that it’s condescending to be offended “on behalf of” the man in the story, perhaps you could consider that some of the people posting here have reason to be offended on their own behalf by seeing belittling language used to describe a person with disabilities.

  193. mikee says

    @Abe #207

    “I think I agree with most of the posters here…this is truly disgusting and appalling.”

    I don’t think the majority of posters have stated that it is “truly disgusting and appalling”

    Many have pointed out issues they have with the wording, have described how condescending the piece comes across as, and stated that it is an ill conceived piece. Many have also acknowledged that the authors intentions may have been good.

    Many of those who have criticised it have taken the time to point out why so that, perhaps the author will learn from this experience.

    In my opinion your comment assumes too much and says very little.

  194. BabblingBear says

    @Sally,

    Yeah I get what you’re saying, but again–Baby steps. I have no doubt that some horse-riders like Steve would love to pass on the opportunity to help an atheist “uppity bitch” (Though isn’t it funny they have no problem parting with their money to make sure bibles can be put in those boxed lunches they hand out to those poor heathen Africans while on mission trips?).

    But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Unlike those christians we know that morality isn’t absolute, ergo it can change over the course of a society’s existence, even a human’s life time. Something about mile long journeys and first steps–That’s all I’m say.

    Many of these professing christians know such “christian values” as christian because that is the lie they have been taught, over and over. Show them they aren’t and plant the seed, that’s I’ll I was saying.

  195. BabblingBear says

    Hopefully you can decipher that muddled wording, apparently typing after being awake for 20 hours don’t in fact, go hand in hand.

  196. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ Babbling Bear

    Sorry, but after being the object of a long tirade full of gender-based verbal abuse, I’m having trouble seeing that there is any baby in this bathwater. If I were black and he had launched into a tirade about how uppity n_____s deserve to be beaten and lynched, would you still be here talking about baby steps and planting seeds?

    There are plenty of Christians who, although they may harbor some sexist assumptions about men and women, would never dream of launching a verbally abusive tirade like the one Steven K directed at me. There are also Christians who are vocal feminists. Those people, I would be quite happy to engage with on a “baby step” level. Steven K, on the other hand, is a vitriolic hater of women in general, and that’s something that isn’t easily fixed, as we have seen many times before. Dare I suggest that your position as a man (I presume) has blinded you to the gravity and the severity of expressing hatred of women in such vitriolic terms as Steven K has? I mean, if you WANT to engage with him about the finer points of morality, I can’t stop you, but it’s rather galling that expressing such attitudes doesn’t quite put him “beyond the pale” in your book.

  197. BabblingBear says

    Don’t worry Sally, I understand where you are coming from. Different people, different tolerances for what they are willing to hear before throwing out that baby. While I’ve been a long, long time luker and poster to many a different internet forums–I don’t recall ever running into Stevie before. So I was willing to try–That’s me though.

    As Steve seems to have proved the point by disappearing rather than sticking around to engage about his posts, then I am inclined to give the proverbial “meh” and hearty “fuck off” to him as well. Some broken records are just that; broken.

  198. Algernon says

    Liver-lips.. Go get me a sammitch you dirty.. if your legs worked as fast as your fingers.. your house wouldn’t be a mess and you’d have a dozen kids. That’s the problem with woman’s lib.. they have opionions. Woman should be more like children. beaten and thrown under the stairs only to be used for special occasions. YES! GOD IS GREAT AND LIVES! He’s coming over my house next tuesday with a handful of Vicodens and a fifth of Jack.. you wanna come? Too bad your who-who stinks! Is that more what you are trawling for?

    So in other words, she was right and you have nothing cogent to add and no rebuttal.

  199. Avengerofthe truth says

    I totally understand Jim’s story and think it is beautiful. I choose to see the depth of feeling in Jim’s heart. Every word draws a wonderful picture. I fell in love with Apple man and Man Boy both.
    As we are apt to do, we see things from the perception of our own souls.
    Perhaps those that see condescension are telling us what is in their own thoughts/hearts. Those opinions belong to the writer of the comment only. It is their perception. They do not belong to Jim.

    I loved this story the first time I read it a few years ago. Keep up the good work, Jim.

    Many of us know the honorable man you are!!

    Kudos!!!

  200. Algernon says

    Meh… I am glad to have this nice example of the kinds of Christian values that children are raised with.

    I’ve not really found anyone who dissolves into vitriolic abuse at such a slight prompting with a so clearly a defined target for hate has much to say on morality. Most often, their externalized fear based religious beliefs are what they see keeping them “good” by refusing to do what they think they would (whether it is true or not) if they didn’t have that.

    Every once in a while you unravel that knot a little and find some one who simply feels deeply guilty and impure, but usually you just find some one who thinks you should be grateful they didn’t rape your kid and nail their neighbors dog to the staircase.

    Just my experience there, maybe you’ve been more fortunate.

  201. joeann says

    Wonderful Wonderful!!!! Thank you!!!!! I enjoy my many mini-moments often, but nothing as wonderful as your story. I always ask my husband why I enjoy being nice? There is no reward or punishment for letting someone in front of me in traffic. Or letting the person go in front of me in line at the grocery store when I have a full basket and they have one item. It just feels good and feels right. I am happy to be an atheist but albeit a mostly closeted one based on location and occupation. Thank you again for the wonderful heart warming story. I hope I get a chance to be the Apple Lady someday!

  202. Carlie says

    I loved this story the first time I read it a few years ago. Keep up the good work, Jim.

    So… this isn’t something that he just came up with on the spur of the moment. This is something he wrote and published awhile back, and brought out and thought yep, still good stuff. So we can be fairly certain that the story was presented in exactly the way he wanted to present it, then.

  203. Algernon says

    On the other subject, meh… I’m conflicted. I think the story was honest, and told from the narrators point of view. I can accept an imperfect and slightly unreliable narrator. I think he described the interaction between two people well, and then what he took from it but I think it fails because I don’t see that he changed any. It’s a 0-0 and one area where the narrator could have changed would be to have his preconceptions about disabled people challenged. That didn’t seem to happen. Then again, I have a lot of experience with disabled people actually and I realize that this probably is intended and even taken as sort of a “noble savage” trope where the author comes off as a really nice person.

    Shades of Million Little Pieces I guess.

  204. Algernon says

    Yeah, glurge is glurge. Everyone’s a critic, eh? So when is Chicken Soup for the Atheist SoulEgo coming out?

  205. Becky Robinson says

    WOw… I see that some did NOT get the message of Jims story… and just love to make things what they are not.. for such enlightened folks as some of you are supposed to be .. it sure reminds me of a few radical fundies on another board the way you argue over the stupidest things.. trying to twist his story to fit your agendas.. kinda sad really…

    here for you who do not understand a simple story..

    Jim befriended a mentally handicapped man who I could tell by using the term Man=boy was his way of describing the individual in and easy to understand way.. the body of a man the mental capacity of a child. He then realized that this gentle soul was not as mentally deficient as one would think on first meeting. He expressed his amazement in colorful terms .. now I saw no where that he called the guy a fecker or a man boy to his face .. anyways he was TRYING to get across that it doesn’t take a belief in GOD to be kind to our fellow human beings ..it is something that is basically instinct .. to help another when they need it..to interact with another .. to not NEED to rely on dogma to tell you what is in your heart.. and to act on it.. that is what the story was about not freaking terminology …

    and yet some of you are upset with his terminology?? puhlease you obviously know nothing of Jim then and are JUDGING him out of hand.. *shaking my head* a more GOOD HUMAN BEING you will not find … and without the need of dogma to be one

  206. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I would HOPE everyone would see the irony in disrespectfully advocating that everyone be respectful of each other.

    Given the English translation of my nym, accusing me of advocating that is some very delicious unintentional irony.

  207. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    I see that some did NOT get the message of Jims story… and just love to make things what they are not.. for such enlightened folks as some of you are supposed to be .. it sure reminds me of a few radical fundies on another board the way you argue over the stupidest things.. trying to twist his story to fit your agendas.. kinda sad really…

    Scroll back up, read my post, try again.

  208. Dhorvath, OM says

    Becky,
    Great, so Jim is a nice person. So it would be fair to say he wouldn’t want to needlessly say things that others find hurtful, yes? We all make mistakes, sometimes just a simple head’s up is all it takes to correct ourselves. Or are you arguing that he is already perfect?

  209. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Becky,

    Read the comments. Your points have been addressed already. You’re not contributing anything but noise.

  210. Algernon says

    puhlease you obviously know nothing of Jim then and are JUDGING him out of hand

    Heads up, and I’ll give Jim here the benefit of the doubt for knowing this since he’s apparently a writer in general. He’s not a bad writer either. But when you write something like this and post it knowing that it is going to be read publicly, you have to know that this *is* what people who don’t know you will be learning about you. I don’t know any of the people in these segments well, these are the first things I’ve learned of them. Every one is a person who I don’t know well, so if I am to grasp what they want me to know about them this is all I have.

    Hey, that’s art though too. You make something, it’s hard to do it and put it out there. Props to Jim for his bravery. It still doesn’t warrant silence from people who have something to challenge about it. Hell, how does one grow except through iterations of challenge and nourishment?

  211. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    SMH at a lot of the comments I’m seeing on here. Don’t you guys know, you’re just LOOKING TO BE OFFENDED, right? He was NICE and bought this guy CANDY, so obviously he’s above reproach for this story, yes? Why can’t we just take the message of his story and ignore the blatantly ableist language? It’s an accurate term, he is a man with the mental capacity of the child! We’re looking at it from the wrong perspective! Ffs, it’s like something straight out of Derailing for Dummies.

    We can’t ignore the ableism in his story to focus on the message because it constitutes a message in and of itself. For one thing, as others have said, it’s like the ‘noble savage’ bullshit all over again. Disabled people are not here to be our inspiration, especially when the author’s little “Oh, he can enjoy his horrible life!” realization glosses over the ableist aspects of society that are fucking him over. His realization that this MAN was not just “existing,” but properly “living,” is not accompanied by any further realization of his abled privilege and problematic language usage. The fact that he didn’t use this language in front of the man, because he is using it here, where there are other people who are disabled or have disabled loved ones who can be triggered by this type of bullshit language. The fact that he meant well doesn’t blunt the connotations of the word “man-child”. And finally, the term “man-child” is NOT accurate. He does not have the mind of a child. He has the mind of a 40-year-old developmentally delayed man. The term “man-child” is not accurate, and it is not okay, and his use of it legitimately detracts from the message of the story because it’s sending a message of its own. How is this such a difficult concept to grasp?

  212. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Ffs, it’s like something straight out of Derailing for Dummies.

    …I like you.

  213. Becky Robinson says

    “Erulóra Maikalambe says:
    29 October 2011 at 1:14 am
    Becky,

    Read the comments. Your points have been addressed already. You’re not contributing anything but noise.”

    and this post of yours is what?? Its nothing but noise in itself trying to silence anyone who does not agree with you…PFFT childish..

    Didnt know this place had a blog police to tell others when their posts dont matter.. kinda sad really it COULD be a really cool place. if not for the incessant arguing .. UGH

  214. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    About the only thing I have to add that someone else hasn’t already said better is this, to Mikee at #118: Children’s “innocence” is actually ignorance. They might say charming things; they also say, and do, hurtful things to each other. And they can lie, too. So much for “cutting through the bullshit.”

  215. Avengerofthe truth says

    Becky…..great comment.
    Although your points may have been addressed in one form or another, they seem to have not quite gotten through to those that are only here to pick people, their writings and posts apart. They are not here to enjoy or find the positive.
    It is very clear that their intent is to be insulting. They are the ones that are adding mere “noise”. Like fingernails on a blackboard.

    It is also clear that some are unable to glean the wonder from a wide variety of expressions. Must suck to live in such a black and white world where color and freedom of expression do not exist.

    Their loss.

    I look forward to more from Jim…in all his colorful expressions.

  216. JediBear says

    The story at the beginning is lengthy and distracting. I don’t think it makes the point at all well.

    Man-Boy is a wholly appropriate naming of a character: descriptive, not condescending or insulting. “fucker” as used here is well-attested as a term of admiration as used here. Not insult. Not endearment. Admiration.

    I’m not going to say that the fellow’s not a condescending ableist. I don’t even really know what that means. It is, however, not appropriate to deduce that by misconstruing his style and usage.

  217. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Wait, actually, let me say to Grumps that referring to “stupid” as an “ableist” term is pretty fucking stupid.

    Mader’s essay is grossly and creepily condescending. That said, I’ve got no patience for the DisabledFeminists.com fans who think any language that insults intelligence is wrong. There are people with intellectual handicaps. Then there are people who are simply fucking dumbasses. They function more or less normally, especially in an anti-intellectual society like the U.S. They’re not oppressed as a class in any meaningful sense of the word.

  218. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Shorter Avengerofthe truth: Everyone here is a big ol’ meanie. Why can’t they just turn off their brains and enjoy a big bowl of glurge?

    JediBear, it’s kind of interesting that you pitch a shitfit any time someone is uncomplimentary about gamers, but words that denigrate people with intellectual disabilities don’t bother you quite as much.

  219. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Becky, Stick around. At 11:00, we gather around the campfire, make smores and sing fricking Kumbaya! That’ll be a hoot, won’t it. Look, Pharyngula’s a tough crowd. We assume you are a big boy or girl.

  220. echidna says

    Becky,
    For crying out loud, separating your scattered thoughts by ellipses ( “…”) is not helping you make your case. Please use sentences.

  221. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Becky,

    and this post of yours is what?? Its nothing but noise in itself trying to silence anyone who does not agree with you…PFFT childish..

    That’s inane. Okay, fine. If you call “trying to get somebody whose repeating a point that’s been brought up and addressed multiple times to catch and be more productive” nothing but noise, then fine, my post was nothing but noise.

    Didnt know this place had a blog police to tell others when their posts dont matter.. kinda sad really it COULD be a really cool place. if not for the incessant arguing .. UGH

    Would it really injure you that badly to read the comments that are already here before posting something that’s already addressed? Am I really being “blog police” by pointing out that you’re not being a productive part of the conversation?

    If this is seriously the level of argument you’re going to bring then I think I’m pretty safe disregarding you from here out. And it’s kinda sad, because this COULD be a really cool place, if not for the incessant bargleflab from people who can’t contribute some actual substance.

  222. mikee says

    @Daisy Cutter #234

    Yes children can say hurtful things and they can lie. So do some of the adults here. But children through their ignorance of adult conventions can also cut through the bullshit as the link below suggests.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/10/27/why-i-am-an-atheist-peter-wagenaar/#comments

    I’m not sure what your problem is with children, or my comments about them. I certainly didn’t mean that they are perfect little angels but I still think that they can show some admirable attributes even if it can be put down to what you frame as ignorance.

  223. YetAnother says

    So it would be fair to say he wouldn’t want to needlessly say things that others find hurtful

    What percentage of people need to find, or potentially find certain language hurtful before it becomes wrong?

  224. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Yes, Mikee, children can show some admirable qualities, but so can adults.

    I dislike the romanticization and fetishization of children in U.S. culture — especially since it’s all lip service when it comes to actually improving life for American children in any concrete way. Said fetishization seems to be about using the ideal of childhood “innocence” for censorship purposes (“Won’t somebody think of the children?!”), to discourage women from being anything except wives and mothers, and in general to glorify a simplistic outlook on life.

  225. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    These are the people who truly make this site’s comments section unbearable.

    Well, nobody’s forcing you to bear it.

  226. Algernon says

    Yes, what this site needs is more nice people who give candy to retards and their fan base. Now if you are offended by the use of the term retard but not man-child, may I ask you why?

    And what about the oh-so-polite people such as Carlie, who might be an excellent source to learn about people who are different than you in order to get that awesome superior feeling that only comes from moral supremacy of the sort that trickles down from some clearly inherent universal principals which govern the universe through moral constants?

    Are they also tiresome if they harsh your buzz?

  227. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    These are the people who truly make this site’s comments section unbearable.

    Look, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there’s actually more than one site in the world. Please find one that suits you. And also that isn’t here.

  228. mikee says

    @ Ms Daisy Cutter #248

    Agree with re you the fetishization of children – it is a sad thing to see, though the most odious example of it to me are those creepy pageants run in the US (and sadly starting to appear worldwide).
    I can see how the aforementioned fetishization might for some be used to discourage women from being anything than wives and mothers. However, I am of the opinion that childrearing should be a shared task, and that men are just as capable of women at looking after children.

  229. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Caine, Sally, Salty and the Blessed Turd of Redhead.

    Oh wait, I see.
    You’re a Slimebag.
    Killfiled.

  230. mikee says

    @Transultra #246

    Actually my experience of this site appears to be quite different from yours.
    Caine would be one of the people I have learnt the most from on this site. And Sally.
    Yes, sometimes their comments are a little on the ascerbic side, but on several occasions they have both made me see things from a different perspective.

    I’m sure everyone on here has people that they dislike and people who have truly taught others valuable lessons.

  231. kiki says

    Afraid I’m with the naysayers on this one; I too could not stop reading until the end, but only because I wanted to see if the writer would pull some kind of turnaround that would make him not look like an obnoxious, patronising, wannabe-‘edgy’ douchebag. And, um, he didn’t. I think this is what happens if you try to start a story like you’re Andrew Dice Clay and end it like you’re the voiceover guy from The Wonder Years. ‘And that’s when I realised the gap-toothed fucking retard was full of light.’ Eurgh.

    Although as an avid student of swearology I will disagree with the focus on the word ‘fucker’, as this is a word that is often used merely as a more colourful version of ‘guy’. Try reading an Irvine Welsh book (Marabou Stork Nightmares or Filth – the rest of them suck). They’re written in the dialect with which the author was raised, in which even the C-word can be used just to mean ‘a person’, with no negative connotations. ‘Aye, ah ken him – eh’s a sound c**t.’ (‘Yes, I know him – he’s a very nice person.’)

    Indeed, in the phrase ‘Fucker is a businessman’ the word is used to make the author seem theatrically impressed with the ‘businessman’ in a ‘Why, you sonofagun’ sort of way – though of course, the author being an obnoxious, patronising douchebag, what he’s really saying is ‘Wow, the retard remembered something from three minutes ago.’

  232. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    mikee (this is my last post and then I’m going somewhere less rank),
    Don’t assume TransUltra is speaking in good faith. It would be a waste of your time. Xe’s a troll of the worst kind, here entirely to disrupt and annoy.

  233. says

    TransUltra:

    Unfortunately, your comment referred to the wrong people: those passing through, instead of the tiresome regulars such as Caine, Sally, Salty and the Blessed Turd of Redhead. These are the people who truly make this site’s comments section unbearable.

    Aren’t my powers simply amazing? I made one comment in this thread. SC didn’t comment at all.

    While you may desperately wish for an OM, you haven’t had the honour, Cupcake. Your pathetic grudge holding isn’t terribly interesting.

  234. says

    TU:

    DO NOT follow links from Classical Cipher, xe is a known spreader of dangerous links.

    Oh, do be a good little troll and fuck off now. It’s always so interesting that you asspimples only come around when you know PZ is traveling and not able to keep an eye on things. Slimy little coward.

  235. mikee says

    @Transultra #255

    I’ll use OM when your comments live up to the title, unless otherwise instructed by PZ.

    Sad to see one OM sticking the knife into another.

  236. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    @TransUltra

    DO NOT follow links from Classical Cipher, xe is a known spreader of dangerous links.

    … it’s a link to the Pharyngula wiki. I can see it by hovering my mouse over it.

  237. mikee says

    Actually having checked the list of Mollies and not finding your name on it Transultra, you can forget about me ever using OM with your name.

    Nice try, but not happening

  238. echidna says

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone assume OM before, and I’ve been following pharyngula since way before mollies were introduced.

    Hopefully, with enough rope, xe will find a way into the dungeon. Please.

  239. echidna says

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone assume OM before

    Of course, I meant falsely assume OM.

  240. says

    Echidna:

    Hopefully, with enough rope, xe will find a way into the dungeon. Please.

    Impersonation is a banworthy offense; however, PZ is traveling right now, so it might be a while before he has to face janitorial duties.

  241. mikee says

    Yeah, Caine it occurred to me moments after my post that I should check the Mollies first, and surprise, surprise Transultra wasn’t there.
    Should have realised sooner from the (lack of) quality of TU’s comments.

    Of course it it could stand for something else, perhaps:

    Odious Malefactor

    Oral Masturbator

    Oddly Mad

  242. Algernon says

    They’re written in the dialect with which the author was raised, in which even the C-word can be used just to mean ‘a person’, with no negative connotations. ‘Aye, ah ken him – eh’s a sound c**t.’ (‘Yes, I know him – he’s a very nice person.’),

    Um… speak for yourself transultra Non-OM. People take issue here when people use dialectical use of a word to pretend they are not using a word as an insult.

    Very different things.

  243. says

    I loved the story! Came here to comment, & read other comments for a while until I got so damned tired of all those people irritated with the man-boy thing. Come on people. It was a great story! Someone commented that he shouldn’t take credit for showing normal decency. Are you kidding? He went so far beyond normal behavior. He was describing a person who was a child in a man’s body. How else should he call it? And he actually paid attention to this other human, who I’m willing to bet gets totally ignored pretty much all the time.

    I, too, make a strong effort to interact with those who seem less than. I know a lot of the homeless people who are regulars in my neighborhood. I talk to people, & they are so delighted to share their stories. It’s more than normal decency, because it’s so much more than most people do. Which means it’s outside normal.

    I have the Sir Richard Burton limited edition set of the translations of the Arabian Nights. I cannot tell you how many times various commoners will encounter some dreadful unfortunate, starving & diseased (who is usually some member of a high family fallen from grace due to the curse of a jinn or being cheated by someone evil & double-crossing) & one of the couple says, no -ignore them, while the other says, wait – maybe we’ll get a better place in heaven if we help this person.

    Even as a child, I thought it was such a weird motivation & I had a lot of trouble with the philosophy of it. Why not do good for the sake of good? How selfish is it to do something good just so you’ll get more stuff yourself? On the other hand, if the end result has good being done, isn’t that the goal? I had the quandary when I was 10 & still have it.

  244. kiki says

    And while I’m feeling pissy – dude, people aren’t full of light. In fact, the amount of light inside a person is pretty much guaranteed to be a fair bit lower than the ambient level. And even if it was, there’s nothing inherently good about light. Light bounced off Gengis Khan just the same as it bounced off Ghandi, and light will one day burn our beloved planet to a cinder. I mean, I’m all for poetic language, but is it too much to ask for the poetry to actually fucking mean something?

    TransUltra – fuck off, you c… terrible person.

  245. mikee says

    @Transultra #273

    If you want echidna to do anything with the porcupine perhaps you first need to relax your sphincter and let the poor thing out

    :-)

  246. mikee says

    @Susan #275

    When I first read the story and some of the comments I had a similar view to you. However after seeing some of the comments I see that there is an issue with the use of terms such as Man-Boy.
    I’m sure Jim wasn’t being purposely insulting/condescending and I can still appreciate his story in many respects but I feel it is only reasonable to understand why “Man-Boy” is offensive.
    Grumps #132 and 152 explains it rather well.

  247. echidna says

    Mikee@277: Love it.

    Transultra reminds me of the actor in “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” – makes the moves, does not get the context.

  248. says

    Algernon:

    Hoggle-tastic.

    Sounds more like a mix of SS (who is a bit obsessed with the Mollies) and that moron Les Auter Animals (who could have been SS again) or whatever that invaded TET the other day, being obsessed with the decaying porcupine bit.

  249. kiki says

    Steven K. wins one internet for batshit insanery but a hundred more for non-ironic use of the word ‘mayhaps’. Beer came out of my nose.

  250. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    @ Susan:

    He was describing a person who was a child in a man’s body. How else should he call it?

    By his name? By “the man”? By any other term that did not go out of its way to identify him by his disability?

    I am really, really tired of people saying this. Developmentally delayed people are NOT children in adult’s bodies. They are developmentally delayed adults. While some of their behaviors may be arguably childlike (again, arguably), it is NOT the same thing, and both saying it is and using the word “man-child” are incredibly condescending.

    However, even if it were accurate- so what? If I were recounting a story of, say, helping a wheelchair-bound individual get somewhere less than handicapped friendly, would it then be okay for me to refer to them as “the cripple” repeatedly?

  251. Amphiox, OM says

    Echidna @278, ah well. Perhaps it will get dungeoned for slagging.

    Perhaps not impersonating to the letter of the standard, but it does actually fit trolling rather closely to the letter, in a particularly annoying, meta-style fashion.

  252. Pris says

    I found that story rather distasteful.

    What is so difficult about not labeling people with derogatory epithets? A simple ‘the man’ would have brought the point across much better.

    Also to the author of this drivel: Do you want a pat on the head for being a good boy?

    I know several people with Downs Syndrome or other learning disabilities. They are not children. Some may not be able to navigate life unassisted, they won’t be able to a lot of the things higher education has on offer, but they are adults and should be treated accordingly.

    Also, it has been pointed out upthread, they are not here for our inspiration.

  253. kiki says

    Would anyone here seriously say in polite company, ‘Oh, you must meet Bill and Jane, and their lovely man-child Roy’?

    I think the author was just using all the ableist douchebag language to seem like some sort of counter-counter-culture swinging dick. If he was here I’m not sure he’d even agree with any earnest defense of it.

  254. andyo says

    I get the condescending criticism, and I agree, but I also agree with Don Quijote:

    Sorry, I didn’t understand why the first part of that story had anything to do with why Mr. Mader is an atheist. Couldn’t anybody act in such a manner, religious or not?

    I also think the story was kind of masturbatory.

  255. says

    Kiki:

    I think the author was just using all the ableist douchebag language to seem like some sort of counter-counter-culture swinging dick.

    Your point about ableist language isn’t helped out by your use of gendered insults, which are also frowned on around here.

  256. echidna says

    Nym-o-maniac@284:

    Developmentally delayed people are NOT children in adult’s bodies.

    Agreed, although the historical use of “mental age of X” is going to take a while to loosen its hold on peoples thinking.

    To turn it around a little bit, consider a profoundly gifted child. The sort of kid who has a wide vocabulary at age three, has already been reading for a year, and then at age 6 does calculus.

    These kids are not adults in children’s bodies, although it is hard to adjust the way you deal with them to get the match between their life experiences and their ability to take in information on all sorts of levels. People often treat these children as being far older than they really are, and that can be a problem as well, not condescending but harmful nonetheless.

    The normal social conventions don’t work for everybody, and this is where it is easy to get it wrong. A very good example is when an athlete can’t unambiguously be assigned a gender.

    I think we can say that Jim got it wrong, and the discussion is good to tease out some of the assumptions inherent in the story, for all of us, not just Jim.

  257. echidna says

    Amphiox@285;

    Perhaps not impersonating to the letter of the standard, but it does actually fit trolling rather closely to the letter, in a particularly annoying, meta-style fashion.

    No argument here. My original post @268 was merely meant to point out that transultra was headed for the dungeon. Then Caine and I had a friendly quibble about whether it would be impersonation or not. My perception is that PZ generally ties his banning very specifically to the standards, so I don’t think he would have used impersonation, but then again he can do what he likes, given he’s the tentacled overlord.

  258. Bradley Thomas Horton says

    As someone who was diagnosed with my brain tumor, on my 13th birthday, I can say that I absolutely know that god is a terrible joke that needs to be flushed down the crapper…

  259. says

    I’ll chime in with support for the OP. I think that he means well, and probably is old enough to have seen the “mental age of 8″ as a common descriptor of the mentally handicapped. I don’t think he meant to be so patronising.

    And BECAUSE I don’t think Jim meant harm, I imagine that he will probably accept the correction. Most people offered it kindly, and I hope that Jim will take it as such. And not be put off by his nasty self-righteous defenders.

  260. amblebury says

    I’m with Alethea H. Claw too.

    While a lot of the language is wrong, to say the least, I get the impression that it’s because Jim struggles a bit baldly articulating his own feelings, while being a compassionate & decent guy. I think he’d be startled to realize the offense people have taken.

    The acting like a decent human being, because you should, not because it’s dictated that you should, really resonates with me, too.

  261. Gen, or The RadFem of Dhoom says

    I’ll agree with the presumption of the author’s good intentions, but I want to quote this again for the absolute truth it contains:

    The normal social conventions don’t work for everybody, and this is where it is easy to get it wrong. A very good example is when an athlete can’t unambiguously be assigned a gender.

    I think we can say that Jim got it wrong, and the discussion is good to tease out some of the assumptions inherent in the story, for all of us, not just Jim.

    It’s not just about the original author and what xie did/got wrong/right.

    It’s about stepping back and realizing hey, I never really thought about this (OHAI PRIVILEGE)- is a developmentally delayed adult really the same as a child mentally? Of course not! I’d hate being treated like a child just because I struggle with some things. O WOW RED PILL MOMENT I WANNA TALK ABOUT THIS

    So Jim, if you’re reading – it ain’t just about you. And the pearl-clutchers – if the point of a story is something other than what’s being discussed in a lengthy comment thread, perhaps that indicates an inherent flaw in the piece instead of mass intellectual failure, especially here? In this case it’s the use of problematic language, just btw, which we’ve all been guilty of at some point or another and would like to do better with in future.

    EVERYONE gets the point and EVERYONE agrees (well most, ignoring Steven K) that being “good” shoudn’t be done for the sake of a reward or a pat on the back or because someone is watching or expecting that. We’ve MOVED ON from that point now. Why can’t you?

  262. julian says

    #297 is why you should re examine how you view people like the gentleman in your story, Mr. Mader.

  263. Gentry says

    I suppose I’ve been tainted by societal convention, poor upbringing, or some character flaw, but there are those fleeting moments when I do think something of someone that is both judgmental and unfounded. Sometimes I make an assumption of someone that is both sorely wrong and entirely unfounded. Sometimes, this assumption is carried out over time, only to be found wrong at a later date. Regardless of either cause or duration, I can say with absolute certainty that I’ve made a prejudgment of someone on poor grounds (or none at all!).
    Sounds like Mr. Mader did the same thing.
    What I believe makes Mr. Mader a better story teller than some is his ability to post his exact thoughts as he thought them on the internet, where I’m certain he knew people would tear him apart for both his thoughts and treatment of another. He tells the reader exactly what was going through his mind throughout the story, and I’d rather read about some able-ists mindset indirectly through text than read some Hallmark story where everyone is perfect and the story ends well.

    This was one misguided person helping another (probably not misguided, but who knows) person. Sure, he may have been condescending to the other chap, but he also helped the guy out. Chalk it up as a +1 for helping, -1 for thinking poorly of the guy, but you still have a 0 sum story. It’s not overly bad, so the guy shouldn’t be vilified for doing the right thing with the wrong mindset. There are plenty of situations where someone would gladly take the aid of another, even if the other person is doing it for the wrong reasons.

    What he should be critiqued on is his use of this anecdote to explain his conversion to atheism. It’s a bad choice all around, because there are mixed messages in his anecdote, and he’s telling a humanist story while demonstrating that he has (perhaps) deeply-seeded preconceptions about others. Not exactly the best fodder to use to explain why atheists can be gentle and kind people too.

    It feels like an ill-fitting shirt. Sure, it looks fine on it’s face and it’ll do the job, but it feels odd to wear and doesn’t quite give you that satisfaction of having something of value.

  264. Katie G says

    Your ignorance of people who have developmental disabilities is astounding. As someone who works in te helping field and has made a career out of helping people just like this MAN that you insist on giving a derogatory label, Man-Boy, I can tell you, you are the retarded one. If he was in his own in the community without a helping staff with him, he probably lives on his own in an independent-living situation. You got played, but it’s not his fault. You are the retard that offered up yor money and bought the suckers. Who’s the sucker now? And did you ever think that maybe he shouldn’t be eating all those suckers? You so readily treat him and describe him like a child, but would you buy a bag of suckers for someone’s kid? No. But you get to pat yourself on the back for your “noble deed” of the day. You’re pathetic, James Mader.

  265. Alice Shortcake says

    Yes, I’m sure the author meant well but I found his story painful to read – the smug, I’m-nice-to-handicapped-people tone of the piece was excruciating. Perhaps he should have asked someone else to read it before he submitted it.

    We don’t need an atheist version of Christian glurge any more than we need an atheist version of Christian churches.

  266. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    I just wanted to say that this is a very interesting thread (at least until about halfway through when it gets to the usual meta discussion noise), many of the different opinions here give a new perspective to something I have never really thought about much. So it’s good that PZ put up the piece, I think it probably had the effect he intended.
    ————————
    Steven K. says

    your wrong.. I study literature

    Heh.

    syggyx says[…]

    Oh god.

  267. Ricky says

    The author obviously did not say these things to tge guys face, use your brain. These are his thoughts and he can think whatever he wants.

  268. Gunboat Diplomat says

    This story was written and I see it being made into a movie one day. All you need to do is have the protagonist be able to run really fast, send him to vietnam – oh wait…

    This story is a competently written cliched piece of syrupy condascending garbage. And it is a story – fiction I mean – or at least large parts of it are.

    The dialogue for example is almost entirely made up. We don’t remember that level of detail in dialogue. Likewise with the level of detail in the actions.

    Perhaps an incident like this did take place but not in this way and its so clearly influenced by the authors condascending, self congratulatory attitude he effectively becomes an unreliable narrator and difficult to trust.

  269. Koshka says

    Ricky says:

    The author obviously did not say these things to tge guys face, use your brain. These are his thoughts and he can think whatever he wants.

    And write them out.

    And submit them to a blog.

    Where they will be commented on.

    By people who can think whatever they want.

    Use your brain.

    Sound advice.

  270. andyo says

    I wish I could think my thoughts right into a website as well. That typing and email-sending things are so damn tedious.

  271. says

    This story was written and I see it being made into a movie one day. All you need to do is have the protagonist be able to run really fast, send him to vietnam – oh wait…

    This story is a competently written cliched piece of syrupy condascending garbage. And it is a story – fiction I mean – or at least large parts of it are.

    The dialogue for example is almost entirely made up. We don’t remember that level of detail in dialogue. Likewise with the level of detail in the actions.

    Perhaps an incident like this did take place but not in this way and its so clearly influenced by the authors condascending, self congratulatory attitude he effectively becomes an unreliable narrator and difficult to trust.

    Would the story be better or worse for you if the grocer was female and wasted? We really do care about your opinion.

  272. says

    As someone who works in te helping field and has made a career out of helping people just like this MAN that you insist on giving a derogatory label, Man-Boy, I can tell you, you are the retarded one.

    *Facepalm*

  273. Rey Fox says

    These are the people who truly make this site’s comments section unbearable.

    And yet, you keep coming back.

  274. says

    [Transultra is rather obviously the banned freak Franc Hoggle. Purged. Will try to be quicker about flushing him in the future, but he promises to be pathetically persistent. Sad, really. What a wanker.]

  275. Dhorvath, OM says

    YetAnother,

    So it would be fair to say he wouldn’t want to needlessly say things that others find hurtful

    What percentage of people need to find, or potentially find certain language hurtful before it becomes wrong?

    I am not seeking to define wrong. How many people need to label something is hurtful to them before a person knows that there are people who find it hurtful? Knowing that, they are now making a decision to either acknowledge their impact and strive to reduce it, decide that the group or individual is incorrect and misunderstanding the impact of their actions, or that the group or individual are correct but feel that their use of hurtful language has enough worth to outweigh the group or individual’s outrage. Someone is making a knowing judgment and this then is when we can start to speak about intent, as opposed to speculating about accident.

    I fail to see how a story that seems ostensibly geared to encouraging people to consider the feelings of individuals because they have feelings is not working against itself by ignoring the feelings of other individuals. I am not leaping to infer that this piece could have been more effective for some people solely by using a few different words.

  276. mikee says

    @Gunboat Diplomat #300

    “This story is a competently written cliched piece of syrupy condascending garbage. And it is a story – fiction I mean – or at least large parts of it are.”

    A bit presumptuous don’t you think? I have at least one friend who can repeat to me word for word conversations we had 5 years ago.

    Syrupy? Perhaps, but to assume that it is therefore fiction, seems a little presumptuous.

  277. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    A bit presumptuous don’t you think? I have at least one friend who can repeat to me word for word conversations we had 5 years ago.

    Oh, don’t bother telling him that. He doesn’t read things other people say about themselves, even if they demolish his stupid arguments. (I do that too, though, and yesterday I discovered that I still knew certain dialogue from a movie I hadn’t seen since I was eight.)

  278. Echidna says

    I can remember conversations word-for-word for decades. It’s really handy sometimes. I would hate to think that people judge what I say as being fiction based on their projections of their own memory. On the other hand, I can’t recognize faces very well – and people have difficulty understanding that as well.

  279. mikee says

    @Echidna #312

    I am so jealous of people who can do that. I am hopeless at remembering the details of most conversations, I typically recall only the broad concepts discussed.

  280. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I can remember conversations word-for-word for decades.

    Me, too. But only the pointless ones. I’m great at remembering useless stuff, and terrible at remembering stuff that matters. No matter how I try.

  281. Hogglenonymous says

    Hll, Wtsnlgy. W r Hgglnnyms.

    vr th yrs, w hv bn wtchng y. Yr cmpgns f msnfrmtn; spprssn f dssnt; yr ltgs ntr, ll f ths thngs hv cght r y. Wth th lkg f yr ltst prpgnd vd nt mnstrm crcltn, th xtnt f yr mlgn nflnc vr ths wh trst y, wh cll y ldr, hs bn md clr t s. Hgglnnyms hs thrfr dcdd tht yr rgnztn shld b dstryd. Fr th gd f yr fllwrs, fr th gd f mnknd–fr th lghs–w shll xpl y frm th ntrnt nd systmtclly dsmntl th Chrch f Wtsnlgy n ts prsnt frm. W cknwldg y s srs ppnnt, nd w r prprd fr lng, lng cmpgn. Y wll nt prvl frvr gnst th ngry msss f th bdy pltc. Yr mthds, hypcrsy, nd th rtlssnss f yr rgnztn hv sndd ts dth knll.

    Y cnnt hd; w r vrywhr.

    W cnnt d; w r frvr. W’r gttng bggr vry dy–nd slly by th frc f r ds, mlcs nd hstl s thy ftn r. f y wnt nthr nm fr yr ppnnt, thn cll s Lgn, fr w r mny.

    Yt fr ll tht w r nt s mnstrs s y r; stll r mthds r prlll t yr wn. Dbtlss y wll s th Hggl’s ctns s n xmpl f th prsctn y hv s lng wrnd yr fllwrs wld cm; ths s ccptbl. n fct, t s ncrgd. W r yr SPs.

    Grdlly s w mrg r pls wth tht f yr “Chrch”, th spprssn f yr fllwrs wll bcm ncrsngly dffclt t mntn. Blvrs wll wk, nd s tht slvtn hs n prc. Thy wll knw tht th strss, th frstrtn tht thy fl s nt smthng tht my b blmd pn Hgglnnyms. N–thy wll s tht t stms frm src fr clsr t ch. Ys, w r SPs. Bt th sm f spprssn w cld vr mstr s clpsd by tht f th RTC.

    Knwldg s fr.

    W r Hgglnnyms.

    W r Lgn.

    W d nt frgv.

    W d nt frgt.

    xpct s.

    [These people are insane. –pzm]

  282. Pareidolius says

    Dave’s heartwarming tale of handicapped pluck and abled awakening in the produce aisle is to literature what the glowing, glistening cottages of Thomas Kinkaid are to the fine arts. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it were entirely fabricated. It reminds me of the stories I would make up when I was a kid to garner my parents approval when I really wanted something–just a little too Eddie Haskell to the canny adult. This kind of thing led to a dalliance with the new age in my twenties and worse, a career in advertising. Let that be a cautionary tale. As for all the criticism, I agree, though I found the piece tone-deaf and clueless, not hateful. It was all about what an awesome guy Dave is, not at all about the hapless, drooling, and very two-dimensional instrument of his awakening. Awesome thread though, I always learn something about my assumptions here.

  283. says

    Stories like this one make me cry immediately. I cry because I only wish I was not as poor as I am (eating 1 meal a day to save on food costs poor) so that I can afford to do something like the above story, for someone like a man-child or other disabled/down-on-luck person.
    It will get better for me though soon, then I’ll be able to do stuff like this, and I can’t wait.

  284. says

    I kept expecting the story to turn on its head and reveal that the fictitious narrator’s revolting attitude to the disabled man was supposed to be an analogy for the religious elite’s superior attitude to ordinary people, or something.

  285. crissakentavr says

    Wonderful story – and well told. Though with a few more dollars than I generally have for candy, alas.

    Things like this happen to my spouse, but never me. I’m too shy, I guess. But the sentiment is something I certainly feel close to.

    …Although my nice thoughts are going to get drowned in this crazy thread.

  286. jacobfromlost says

    You: Please use blockquote, it’s much easier for others to follow.

    Me now: No.

    Me before: It is not my objective to be argumentative. It is only to be given the common decency that you claim everyone deserves.

    You: Care to quote me on that?

    Me now: Fine. Just so we are clear that you don’t think everyone deserves respect, and that even very minor disagreements are good enough excuses to be disrespectful.

    Me before: Now responding to you so that the irony of what you are saying is obvious is dismissed as “tone trolling” and dishonest?

    You: What irony?

    Me now: THAT irony.

    Me before: I would HOPE everyone would see the irony in disrespectfully advocating that everyone be respectful of each other.

    You: Again, care to quote me on that? I’m advocating not disrespecting people over things they can’t control. I never said anything about being civil with people who make stupid arguments.

    Me now: What magical powers do you have that let you know when someone honestly disagrees with you rather than being “stupid”, other than simply listening to them say, “This is my honest disagreement and why”? You see, I don’t think your argument is very strong given the theme of the story, but I don’t disrespect you, try to bully you, tell you what to do or what to think. I don’t have to.

    Me before: It is just common decency not to call others names in a civil discussion, or attribute attitudes to them that they don’t hold, or to hurl a bunch of profanity at another human being.

    You: This is Pharyngula. What we consider common decency here is to address what people are actually saying, not the tone with which they say it.

    Me again: Apparently not, as you totally ignored everything I said, and responded to a tone I never had based on a position I never took. My tone is actually very pleasant.

    Me before: You should be on my end. Doesn’t feel very respectful to me. Unlike Lollipop Man, I am feeling some offense.

    You: Aw. Did I hurt your feelings?

    Me again: No. (Are you tone trolling there? I can’t tell.)

    Me before: You’re also blurring the line between my argument and what you want my argument to be.

    You: Then perhaps you need to be more clear about what your argument is.

    Me now: I did. You just ignored it, redefined it, and attacked me for your redefinition. That’s fine, but realize you are only arguing with yourself.

    Me before: What? Why do you think I’m insincere?

    You: The proof is in the pudding. Your spending too much time worrying about who did or did not use profanity than about the original argument.

    Me now: No I’m not, as the original argument centered on respect and disrespect. I didn’t see the simple descriptor as offensive since the entire message of the story wasn’t to degrade Lollipop Man.

    Me before: I only pointed out your ironic position…but even then I was honest in everything I said

    You: No, you were not, because there is nothing ironic about my position. Any irony you are seeing is your own invention.

    Me now: If it was of my own invention, then how come everyone saw it as “tone trolling”? There would be no tone to see if it wasn’t ironic.

    Me before: The fact that I’m consistently respectful to everyone will be seen as “tone trolling”

    You: No, the fact that you keep spending so much effort pointing out when other people use dirty words and you didn’t, and complaining about a few insults as an excuse to dodge the argument is why you are called a tone troll.

    Me now: I never dodged anything. I, in fact, expressed my position many times–and frankly, it wasn’t a very controversial position as many others had the same position before and after my posts.

    Me again: Explain how I can prove I am respectful without agreeing with you, if being respectful in everything I say is not good enough.

    You: Drop the tone trolling and get back to the real argument.

    Me now: I already did that several times. In fact, the only way one could see a “tone” in the alleged “tone trolling” is if my tone actually contrasted with your view. That contrast IS my argument.

    You: That is, that regardless of what the author intended, the words he used are insensitive to people with disabilities, in fact, some find it profoundly insulting.

    Me now: I have no doubt that you do find the words insulting. I don’t, at least not as regards “Man-Boy” in the internal narrative of the story.

    You: So whether he meant it or not, it language like that is harmful and he would do well to avoid it in the future.

    Me now: Is hurting people’s feelings bad? Because you made fun of me earlier as you seemed to think you hurt my feelings, but you seemed to like the idea. (Also, you seem to be somewhat of a bully. Do you hurt people’s feelings often? If so, irony alert.)

    You: Stop focusing on whether he meant to be hurtful and point out what’s wrong with my argument here.

    Me now: Stop telling people what to do and think. The default position isn’t yours, you know. If you think “Man-boy” is offensive, why do so many people not find it offensive in the context of the story? Are we all just Stupid Evil Haters of People Who Have Traits Out of Their Control (you do know everyone has traits out of their control?)? Or is it possible we just don’t reflexively jump to being offended at the most minor things (like a term used in a story in the narrator’s head)? Good grief.

  287. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    @ 328 jacobfromlost:

    You: Please use blockquote, it’s much easier for others to follow.

    Me now: No.

    Okay, breaking away from the argument for a moment to ask- seriously? Block quoting is way easier to follow, for me at least, and probably for others, and if the person with whom you’re directly conversing requests that you use it, it seems entirely appropriate to use it. Unless, of course, this is some type of silly meta thing meant to further your point about ‘respect’, in which case- really? Whether or not you have a point, stubbornly making your argument harder to read does less to prove your point and more to make people- many people, including those with whom you’re not directly arguing- roll their eyes and simply skim past your annoyingly formatted walls of text.

    To return to the argument- it does not matter that some people don’t think “Man-boy” is offensive. It matters that many people do, and that the language is inherently inaccurate and ableist. To use the ‘cripple’ analogy again, it does not matter if some people would not object to me repeatedly describing a wheelchair-bound person as a ‘cripple.’ It’s still tactless and hurtful to them and their loved ones, and even if I don’t use it to their face, it’s incredibly rude to the people reading the story who are, for whatever reason, more sensitive to ableist language.

    As for whether or not the person addressing you was being hypocritical or not- personally, I don’t think so. There is a difference between being brusque with someone because they are repeatedly making incredibly ignorant, privileged statements and using condescending language to someone for something out of their control, and entirely consistent to be respectful based on uncontrollable characteristics and caustic based on personal behavior. Drawing such a line is an internally consistent position.

    However, zer hypocrisy, existent or not, is irrelevant to the larger discussion: even if zie was not being internally consistent, the substance of zer argument, that the language used was ableist and condescending, remains to be addressed. Even though you have addressed the argument, by focusing on zer more acerbic tone, you are distracting from the issue at hand and implying that the arguer is wrong because they aren’t being consistent, a classic derailing tactic. This, as I understand it, is why you are being accused of ‘tone trolling.’

    I would also like to note that your “polite” tone is nowhere near as respectful as you think it is. Throughout the thread that I’ve seen, you have been dismissive of others’ feelings, quick to cite Orwell for those disagreeing with you, and, yes, condescending. The fact that you didn’t use bad words does nothing to help your actual respectfulness.

    Apologies if I haven’t quite properly addressed your argument. As it’s formatted, it’s somewhat circuitous and hard to follow.

  288. 'Nym-o-maniac says

    Whoops, HTML fail. Now I feel silly, mucking up the blockquotes when asking someone else to use them… ah well.

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  290. delteris says

    This blog certainly appears to have stirred up quite the controversy – Generally what a blogger holds as at least an incidental goal, if not the primary goal.

    It is, however, ironic that the majority of the respondents’ concerns appear to center around less-than-politically-correct terminology for a young man with Down Syndrome. Because the term man/boy was used, and because the author included a brief description of the physical characteristics common to those with this genetic abnormality, any appreciation for the vignette, and any skepticism concerning its relevance in the rationale for atheism is ignored. this is too bad, because both pose interesting fodder for discussion.

    The vignette is touching. The author is seized by this young man. His innocence, earnestness, and tragic circumstances. Yes, the author uses language some would consider objectionable, but liberal use of the work “fuck” somehow lends the piece a hint of authenticity. Some would consider his self-congratulatory thoughts after giving a dollar and sugary snacks to a mentally handicapped man shallow and self-serving, but this epiphany of compassion was clearly quite real to the author, and therefore valid. The story is a clear illustration of a person attempting to “be good for goodness sake.” It works in that regard, and is a reasonably enjoyable read.

    What should have raised an outcry is the story’s thin connection to atheism. The shining innocence of the “man/boy” was really the central draw of the story. The man/boy apparently believed in Jesus, relating the author’s profession and possibly his charitable attitude to this implied belief.

    The author then proceeds to drag out the tired nugget of “How can a loving God allow suffering” in his analysis, and this nearly negates the entire point. The young man is tragic. He has lost his mother, and suffers from a disability that severely limits what he is able to do, and will certainly shorten his life. Yet the author states that he LIVES, that he INSPIRES. Etc. This might be an argument for the other side. A Christian could easily seize upon this argument as a rationale for suffering. You see, the “man/boy” has difficult circumstances, but he is fulfills a purpose, and finds delight in the ordinary. Some would argue for this as meaning found in suffering.

    It’s unclear why the author felt compelled to pile atheist arguments almost completely unrelated to the story onto the end of what could have been a rather moving tale, followed by a reasonable argument for atheism- that the author, although he does not believe in God, is still was capable of showing kindness without the promise of Heaven or the threat of Hell.

    There was much potential here.