Editor’s note: If you’ve arrived here, it wasn’t through the RAW STORY main site, but rather one of several blogs that have latched onto this piece as an example of “religious intolerance.” I would ask readers directed by these blogs to take careful note of how many times Ms. Barton announces that she is not talking about all atheists, as her critics have claimed.
When I read this piece, I knew that some people would infer ideas from it that simply weren’t in the text. That this has happened does not surprise me; that the perpetrators seem to claim they are authorities in the field of logic, while arguing against an obvious straw man, does. I take particular exception with those posts that have changed her wording in the few quotes they provide. Whether this was intentional or simply lazy, I cannot say. I am not a mind-reader, though some of her critics seem to believe they are (apparently, she hates Jews and homosexuals–though she is a Jewish lesbian!) However they came to these misrepresentations, they are nonetheless irresponsible.
Shame on you for reading her article without going through the main page!
I think the reprehensible thing here, though, is that rather than admitting that Barton’s article was a piece of crap, they attack her critics. And attack them rather dishonestly. I noted that Barton claimed her article was not about all atheists; however, she also redefined secularism to only include atheists, and made a series of invented assertions about atheists that she was not able to support—a series of contrived claims that I say effectively meant that her diatribe was against no one at all, but the odious straw man she was shredding was boldly labeled “ATHEIST”.
All of my quotes from the Barton article were accurate and unmodified. I’ve seen the ones where the authors have pulled the “ATHEIST” label off of her tattered scarecrow and replaced it with “JEW” or “GAY”; this is a common rhetorical technique that is used to illustrate that when you remove the kneejerk contempt that the label elicits, the dependency of the argument on bigotry becomes more apparent. I’m surprised that the editor is unfamiliar with the idea, or that he doesn’t realize that it is most effective when the targeted group is one with which the author is sympathetic.
I’ve received a request from the editors to clarify that this piece was Melinda Barton’s, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial staff at the Raw Story. I’d believe that more if it hadn’t been recently modified by the editors to include an accusation that the people criticizing the article are illogical and irresponsible liars.