A Star Shines Again

In the progressive splinter of the atheoskeptisphere, there are some people that are really smart, some people that are really strong communicators, some people that just have the most consistent and best ethical practices. And then there are a vanishingly tiny set that have it all.

Heina Dadabhoy is writing again! They’re one of the very best. Give them a read, please. Their comment section is a ghost town right now, which seems so deeply wrong to me.

Come correct y’all. Read Heina’s blog, or I’ll box your ears!


Penny Arcade & Love Lost

Many of you have never heard of Penny Arcade. As far as webcomics go, it was the original success story, the ur-two-guys-on-a-couch video game afición strip-styled deal. The popularity of the comic helped the writer and the artist build a significant business, running gaming conventions, charities, and so on.

They’re still doing their thing, but outside of “gaming” (the bro subculture, not video game playing as a whole field), who has heard of them? They’ve hit the wall.

Two factors limit their success – the existence of gamergate and the “dickwolf” controversy.

Gamergate poisoned all things gamer, actually succeeding at their primary goal. Gamergate’s social terrorism was so vast it gained international media attention and told the world that gaming is an off-limits hostile place, ruled by miscreants that are best left alone. Congrats! You kept out the normies!

I’m not going to explain the dickwolf controversy and subsequent flare-up involving transphobia (because of course it did), even though they’re less well-known than gamergate. Long story short – they aligned themselves culturally with gamergate, with regressive gaming, by having mean-spirited blow-ups at mild criticism.

The dickwolf controversy aligned them with gamergate, no matter what they’ve said on the subject since, and gamergate relegated the culture of gaming to the sewer of human civilization.

I was thinking about that, about love lost. I used to follow the comic for a chuckle and dropped it like a rock back then. How many trans women and progressive-inclined people in general felt they weren’t safe engaging with the comic, with its fans, with the conventions they sponsored? How much love did they lose forever by being reactionary dickwolves?

And here we are – online atheism. The background is different, but the end result is the same. We were founded on islamophobia, so we were rotten at the core. A lot of us may have been socially progressive on a few issues, enough to feel good about ourselves, even then.

But collectively we were reactionary. When an opportunity for a movement-wide misogynist freakout came, it showed that we were stacked to the rafters with villains.

Many of us left the movement and culture altogether, I have no doubt. And of those who remained, the scum outweigh the rest of us by an order of magnitude. Maybe not in actual population (though I bet they do), but certainly in terms of will, of money, of resources, of cultural impact in the form of web presence, on social media and youtube.

Atheism aligned itself with evil and lost love. Where could we be without “elevatorgate”? Without the years of feeding the right wing islamophobia war machine?

It’s gone and it’s never coming back. I had a slow moment and considered opening up Penny Arcade’s website to see if I could have a chuckle. But no, I really profoundly don’t want to. They betrayed the vulnerable people in their audience – a fucking lot of us – and I’m not about forgiveness.

And no one is obligated to forgive us either. Organized atheism is a sewer. We can do things, we can be together, we can fight the good fight as much as possible. But what more could we be right now? How much love was lost?

Feels like all of it.


Capitalism, Heaven, and Hell

It is said without the threat / promise of heaven and hell, humans would have no reason to be moral. Worse people than I have pointed out the flaws in this. Standup comedians, skeptics, and more. One: laws and society enforce moral norms – not religion by itself. Two: if you need divine law to keep you from committing rapes and murders, you should probably seek counseling. Humans care for each other; it’s what social animals do.

It is often said that without capitalism, there would be no motive for labor, for innovation, for anything besides laziness. If you need greed and the suffering of others to motivate your every labor, you should probably seek counseling.

There are a million good motivations to labor that have nothing to do with the carrot of wealth or the stick of poverty. Again, caring for each other. It’s what social animals do, and what we could do a lot more effectively, if our lifeblood wasn’t being congealed into the foundations of castles.

Besides that, leisure. You work to minimize labor, conserve energy and resources so you can enjoy life. Building a house keeps out bears and keeps in heat. Less labor and resources spent building fires every night and guarding against bears. Let the fucking robots take our jobs, we shouldn’t need as many jobs in this world.

And there are plenty of jobs that need doing that are being left undone because they don’t generate gold bricks for the aristocracy. So much human need, infrastructure, education is being left to rot or straight burned to the ground right now in the name of greed.

Kudos for achievement, looking good, pride of accomplishment, basic executive function for self-maintenance. What are your reasons to labor? They don’t have to be dollars and cents or the fear of the economic abyss.

Belief in hell is one of the chief moral failings of the abrahamic religions. Belief in the necessity of poverty is the exact same fucking thing. Fuck capitalism.


Money Atheism is Regressive Atheism

People pursuing different causes for influencing our society will sometimes form organizations, like American Atheists or The Sierra Club, which pool money from members for lobbying and other ways of spreading the gospel. Then there are people who try to influence society without institutional backing, without money, with nothing but the street game. Groups like Antifa, which is not an actual organization, but rather something anyone can call their self if they go to bat for anti-fascism.

The side of atheism and skepticism with the money? Unfortunately, it seems that side has been overwhelmingly lost to political regressivism. Hj Hornbeck crunched the numbers, and it seems like the more right wing and reactionary you are in the movement, the more money you make. If you want the financial backing of atheists and skeptics, the only sure way to do so is by attacking feminism, hectoring those who advocate for social justice, generally being a conservative shitbird.

So if the side I favor has not a nickel to its name, has no financial leverage in changing the world, what does it have? Maybe nothing, as far as this fight. I think for most of us, other causes are more important than atheo-skepticism, and any leverage we have comes from our solidarity with those unrelated movements. When we do fight to make atheism a better place, all we have is our social media platforms, and our audience is just not large enough to swing this fight. Atheism as a money movement is lost to us, strictly the province of utter bastards and willfully ignorant centrists.

But money isn’t everything, as much as the Man wants us to believe that. Maybe just being on the good side will give us the staying power, the long game needed to change this movement. Maybe the rightward march of the money heads will force them to stagnate at a certain level, while we have potential to expand. That would be nice.

I don’t really believe it though. I think activism for atheism and skepticism are founded – more than anything – on ableism, and are therefore inherently regressive. One could advocate for them for progressive reasons. Most of this blog network is trying to. But that poison in the soil? It isn’t going away.


You Can’t Kill Atheism or Homosexuality

I was thinking of this because of the balloon cartoon. It doesn’t specifically reference atheism, but it does credit an evidence-based worldview with creating what it perceives as social ills – including homosexuality.

You can kill atheists – especially in places like Saudi Arabia. You can kill gay people right here in the USA, and have some cultural support even if you lack legal sanction. But you can’t kill either of those things in the population as a whole. It’s impossible. If every last atheist and every last gay person was wiped out in a generation, the behaviors, the ideas would pop back into existence.

It’s because being gay is a natural thing a certain number of people will always experience the first time they feel sexual attraction, being an atheist is often based on thoughts and feelings that arise in an individual with no outside influence. The first time you tell a kid to pray, the first time you ask them to believe in Noah’s Ark or that the entire vast unfathomable universe was created for paltry humanity, you invite comparison and contrast between the child’s experience of reality and the flimsy fantasy you’re pushing. Sometimes, indoctrination will fail.

In that way, homosexuality and atheism are a bit different. Homosexuality requires sexual instinct, which is a natural phenomenon. It doesn’t arise as opposition to nature, but is natural itself. An evidence-based worldview is likewise natural, but the expression of it found in atheism can only arise as an opposite reaction to theism.

As long as you push xtianity or islam or whatever, you are the cause of atheism. You made us. Thanks. Now fuck off with your tyrannical wet dreams and social fascism. You can pop my balloon but another then will inflate – out of the heart of your castle. An endless supply of gay balloons, getting the fuck out of your shitty homes, flying away to leave you alone.