Yet another piece about how atheism got to be all full of assholes. I say “yet another” so you’ll know I realize there are a lot and I’ve probably talked about all of them, but this is a good one. (So were the others. Shut up.)
Mark Hill divides the brands of assholery into 5.
#5. The Closest Atheism Has To Leaders Are Terrible People
Yes. That’s true, and it’s a problem if you want atheism to catch on.
He starts, naturally, with Dawkins.
He sneers down on anyone who disagrees with him with such disdain that Professor Snape would be put off, he’s repeatedly gone out of his way to insult and trivialize sexual harassment, and he went off on that weird tangent about watching dogs have oral sex.
And then there’s Kincaid…
YouTube keeps suggesting I watch videos by the Amazing Atheist, possibly because it’s worried by how many hours I’ve wasted watching other people watch other people play video games.
If you have literally anything better to do than watch that video, he “answers 22 creationists” with all the smug condescension of a teenager who just discovered what communism is and won’t shut up about how it’s perfect in theory. In another video, he uses the same haughty tone to defend himself from accusations of having toxic attitudes toward women while doing impressions of them that sound like he plugged his nose and took a hit of helium.
Yes, I get that being a jerk is his shtick. But his videos have hundreds of thousands of views. Dawkins’ The God Delusion has sold over 2 million copies. And this attitude is infectious. Reddit’s atheism board and its 2 million members became such an infamous cesspool that Reddit removed it from its list of default subscriptions.
The infectious attitude is…key.
I’m sure many of you can name atheists who express their arguments rationally and politely, but as a casual fan of intense religious discussions I can only recall the prominent people. I’m like the basketball fan who only knows LeBron. That means arrogant condescension has become the default tone. We’re attracted to people, not because they make compelling arguments but because they’re loud and abrasive. That’s what we think someone who espouses our beliefs should sound like, but that’s like letting PETA represent all vegetarians, or Die Antwoord represent all music.
Next item on the list –
#4. It’s Become Tied To Awful Ideas
I don’t mean to pick on the Amazing Atheist, but the need to defend himself from feminist critiques didn’t come out of nowhere like the knife-wielding clown that snuck up behind you as you read this. Here he is arguing that sexual objectification doesn’t exist, and here he is again making fun of feminist cartoons while the point of them flies so far over his head it struck a passing 747.
And he doesn’t even mention Phil Mason/Thunderf00t.
this isn’t an isolated problem. As AlterNet points out, atheism has become as bad at talking to girls as the boys at a junior high dance. A movement that’s supposed to be about rational thinking has fallen into the same “vagina emotions make chicks a bunch of crazy broads” trap as your friend who got into the pickup community and reeks like an Axe factory. You can’t claim to be a proponent of science and reasonable thinking, only to regress to hacky sitcom stereotypes about women being humorless harpies who bring sexual assault upon themselves. That’s like complaining that no one will take your obvious soccer skills seriously just because you occasionally punch opposing players and pick up the ball.
It might be an idea not to alienate half the potential constituency, in short.
“Spreading your beliefs” and “insulting half the Earth’s population” are contradictory goals. One of the reasons Christianity took off is that Jesus rarely gave sermons about how it’s important to love thy neighbor unless they’re some crazy ho, in which case you just have to put up with them until they’re off the rag, am I right, Biblical men? If you want to attract people to your worldview, you have to make it look attractive.
BuzzFeed, as a reminder that they occasionally engage in journalism that goes beyond telling you what Game Of Thrones character your toaster would be, did an excellent piece on how women who want to engage in the community of skeptics find themselves targets of sexual harassment. When one woman politely pointed out that it wasn’t the greatest idea to hit on her at 4 a.m. in a hotel elevator in a foreign country, Richard Dawkins ripped into her and someone sent her a drawing of her being raped.
But after that things went downhill.