Kill these memes, please


There’s this story going around about why believers are afraid of atheists, and here’s a video that summarizes it.

It annoys me in a couple of different ways, I’m sorry to say.

  • For being the “most despised and distrusted group in America”, we do fairly well. Atheists tend to be better educated and a bit more well off than many believers; I can walk down an upscale suburban street and not get hassled by the police or shot. Ask a black atheist or a woman atheist which aspect of their identity is most likely to get them discriminated against, and it usually won’t be their atheism.

    So back off on the persecution theme, already. Leave that to the Christians.

  • The pat answer for why atheists are hated given here is that it’s because we make believers conscious of their mortality. I don’t buy it. There is no one answer! There are a lot of different believers out there, and they have different beliefs, and you’re not going to explain everything with one lovely umbrella hypothesis. There are Christians who are obsessed with death and the afterlife, for instance, and they make me uncomfortable with their fears.

    Quit trying to find a one-size-fits-all answer for everything, atheists!

  • Look at the study. It was a simple, short test given to 236 American college students. There were 42 atheists among them, and their answers were thrown out. You cannot draw universal conclusions from that data set, especially when you discard 18% of the sample that has completely different views!

    This is more for the media, but media consumers should also be aware: stop turning introductory psychology courses into media sensations.

  • Just a suggestion: if you’re going to make a video about these kinds of subjects, fewer exploding fireballs and more effort making sure you know how to spell “atheism”.

I don’t disagree that atheists are disliked, but I really doubt that it’s because we make believers afraid — what I’ve most often seen is anger because we’re rejecting their traditions, and annoyance because we’re arrogant (and righteously so, because we’re right!) I suspect we could get a similar reaction — more thoughts of death, worries about personal mortality — if you flashed crucifixes at atheists. Does that mean we’re afraid of Christians because they make us think of death?


  1. says

    Really, all the study would seem to mean, even if it were truly representative of the population, is that Christians view both atheists and death in an equally negative light.

  2. blf says

    In what parts (plural (probably)) of the world does the video apply? I suspect it applies in the stone age-ish parts of the planet, such as (but not limited to) USArseholianthanthouistan, but doubt it applies to the few parts of the world that do not reject education, do not reject enlightened tolerance, and do reject “royalty” or other pseudo-genetics. To reject the possibility that there are no great magic sky faeries seems to require an absence of rational thought with a dose of dogmatism; and An inability to allow other points of view (evidence-based or not); and An assumption that some people are inherently “superior” to others (e.g., some people can communicate with, or know how to find people who can communicate with, the great sky faeries).

  3. says

    Sweet flamin’ crikey.

    >Look at the study. It was a simple, short test given to 236 American college students.

    That one irks my irkometer. Can everybody bloody well stop treating statistically insignificant groups of students aged 18-25 as representative of, well, anything? 200 college kids is the audience at a Bass Drum Of Death gig, not a blasted social barometer.

  4. A. R says

    Agreed PZ. Though my only contention would be that because atheism is not an immediately identifiable physical characteristic, most of us are able to avoid discrimination by passing, even if we aren’t trying to, so using the example of not facing daily discrimination based upon appearance (your first point) is not exactly a strong argument. Of course a member of an oppressed group with immediately identifiable physical characteristics is going to face more daily discrimination, because they can’t pass as being a member of a/the more privileged group. Passing and intersectionalism are things PZ…

  5. says

    “better educated” Oh, that just adds to the distrustment! elite smart people, elite smart people
    (The above line is mostly a joke.)
    Okay though but atheism isn’t something that can be detected immediately. Unless we go around announcing as such. Hm. I might go do that. I’ll raise up one hand all Shakespeare-style while doing so. It’ll be fun in Indiana!
    (This commenter is unable to determine how much of the above line is a joke.)

  6. A. R says

    blf: You will find that there are plenty of atheist monarchists. In fact, there are two of them who are former Phayrngula regulars. As for the rest of your post, colonialist attitude much?

  7. Nick Gotts says

    Okay though but atheism isn’t something that can be detected immediately. – Duth Olec@6

    Surely the horns and the whiff of brimstone are a bit of a give-away? And the cloven hooves, if you’re at the beach :-p

  8. blf says

    AR: I could care less how many supporters of dictatorships claim to be atheist. And being vehemently opposed to hereditary dictatorship is not fecking colonist.

  9. garnetstar says

    I’ve always thought that, for some people, our presence speaks to their own doubts. Many Christians seem to have to constantly work to shore up their faith, checking all the time to make sure they still believe enough. The very existence of people who don’t makes not-beliving a possibility, a choice. If there were no non-believers, it’d be easier to sink into blind acceptance.

  10. A. R says

    AR: I could care less how many supporters of dictatorships claim to be atheist. And being vehemently opposed to hereditary dictatorship is not fecking colonist.

    What did I just read? Seriously, please tell me exactly how the modern Commonwealth (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc), Spanish, Dutch and Japanese monarchies are dictatorships. Really, please explain to me how a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch serves as a tourist attraction who reads speeches to parliament and throws dinner parties for world leaders constitutes a hereditary dictatorship. Saudi Arabia is a vastly different issue, mostly due to that particular nation being fucked up in so many, many ways, but modern European monarchies are not what most intelligent people would call hereditary dictatorships… And please go back and read your own post, in which you came very close to “those primitives are too stupid to be atheists”.

  11. says

    Atheists tend to be better educated and a bit more well off than many believers; I can walk down an upscale suburban street and not get hassled by the police or shot. Ask a black atheist or a woman atheist which aspect of their identity is most likely to get them discriminated against, and it usually won’t be their atheism.

    Did you mean to state that “white male” was the default definition of atheist, and that everything else requires a qualifier? And isn’t this a kind of reverse martyrdom, saying that “We’re not oppressed because they are oppressed more”? Both of these seem rather out of character for you.

  12. HappyNat says

    Although I agree with the OP in general, in my personal experience (even less reliable than 200 college students!), the fear of death is a big issue with believers when they found out I was atheist. The first reaction of many people when I told them I didn’t believe was along the lines of “What about death?”. Even people that didn’t go to church at all accepted that there was “something” after death. Explaining that everything points to it being lights out after we stop breathing made them uncomfortable. The fairy tale of seeing grandma again after you die is pretty strong at least here is USAville.

  13. iratebowel says

    kellyw. posting here

    Lol, when I was a believer, atheists (well, their arguments) made me afraid because what they said made sense. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my worldview (a very shitty worldview). I’ve become what I feared (I think that’s hilarious).

  14. Larry says

    And the cloven hooves, if you’re at the beach

    Don’t forget the bits of BBQ baby between the sharpened teeth. A dead giveaway since we’re not terribly reliable at regular flossing.

  15. spamamander, internet amphibian says

    I’m a low-income, high school educated, female atheist in my 40’s. I don’t exist!

  16. otrame says

    Back in the early 14th century, when I was a new college student full of excitement about finally getting to matriculate (I was in my late 30s), I took a Psych 101 class. I was enjoying it immensely. The professor did an entire class on somebody’s “Stages of Moral Development”. It was all very well-delineated and the prof spelled it out in detail.

    Then I read the assigned reading (I was usually ahead of the readings, but this one time I was behind). In a side bar it described the study that lead to the “Stages of Moral Development”. I don’t remember the number, something like 150, I think, but they were all male college students from the east coast and were asked a bunch of “what would you do if…” questions and given a personality test.

    Even as a fairly naive new student I could see the multiple problems with it. It wasn’t even that the study had no where near enough data to be making pronouncements. It was that the prof thought so well of it that he spent and entire class session talking about it. I became very suspicious of psych after that. I know there is a lot of good work done, but I never take anything, especially if I like it, without knowing what, and who, the studies actually studied.

  17. tbtabby says

    I’m sure Damon Fowler will be very comforted to learn that being disowned by his parents and ostracized by his community when they found out he was an atheist doesn’t count as persecution, because other people are being persecuted more. (Where have I heard that line of reasoning before?) Personally, I think the reason for that is, unlike black people, you can’t tell if someone is an atheist just by looking. When you are outed as an atheist, things can get very bad for you very fast if you’re living in the wrong part of the country.

  18. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    I’ve most often seen is anger because we’re rejecting their traditions

    And challenging their privilege. For example, courts recently upheld the City of Santa Monica’s ban on Nativity scenes at a park in the Pacific Palisades. For those who don’t know the backstory, this park has hosted a group of Nativity scenes around the Holidays, for 50 years. An Atheist organization challenged them and demanded to be allowed to put up secular displays in the public space so the city decided to ban ALL displays. Anyways, I was surprised to see how many FB friends who are not religious at all and have no love for Christianity, in general, whining about how evil atheists always ruin the fun by taking things too seriously, being too aggressive etc. They aren’t die-hard Christians, some are Buddhist or Agnostic etc., but they all were claiming that Nativity scenes have nothing to do wit religion and Separation of Church/State is good but this is different, what’s the harm? etc.

  19. raven says

    This study was pretty dubious on many levels.

    1. It doesn’t show that atheists scare xians because they are afraid of death.

    2. It shows that atheists scare xians because xians aren’t all that sure there is an Afterlife. And they aren’t all that sure. There isn’t any real proof or data for it.

    It’s why the recent fad of Heavenly Tourism books were so popular, even though they were all pretty dubious and one of them was walked back by the child author.

    3. Assuming the study has any real validity, which is a big if.

    4. It also makes no sense. If Heaven is Real, there is nothing atheists can do about it. We aren’t gods and have no ability or desire to storm Heaven, destroy it, and beat up a bunch of angels. We’re powerful (this is sarcasm), but not that powerful.

    5. At best it is a tiny slice of a small population at a given time and place. From what I can tell, atheist hate isn’t all that great in places with more atheists i.e. UK, Europe, Oceania, Japan, etc..

  20. raven says

    I wouldn’t worry too much about xians hating atheists and why. And some of them deeply and passionately do.

    They hate everything and everybody. Hate is its own reward.

    It’s the basis of the fundie perversion of xianity and the brighter among them know it. It’s an old and well known part of tribalism, and is all through the bible. Hate women, gays, heretics, apostates, Canaanites, Babylonians, Pharisees, Saduccees, Romans, Greeks, Polytheists, Egyptians, Asherah, you name it the ancient Jews who wrote the bible hated it.

    Nothing has changed in the last few thousand years. When they get bored, they hate each other and then hate themselves.

  21. moarscienceplz says

    When I tell people I am a member of an atheist club, I have never gotten hate or fear in response. I do often get surprised looks, and then often the person feels compelled to inform me that the straw atheist that lives in their head is too certain about the non-existance of gods. I usually let them have their little rant and then tell them that I am in fact open to new evidence, if they can point me to any. Often, we just switch to a new subject at that point. Sometimes they try to use the Bible as evidence, in which case having read several of Richard Carrier’s books demonstrates to them that I usually know the Bible better than they do, and then boy, does the subject get changed fast.

  22. says

    I don’t buy it. There is no one answer!

    I don’t get what PZ is saying here. So…is he willing to admit it is a partial answer or is he thinking it’s not part of the answer at all (also basing this on later statements)?

    I can understand saying there is no one answer, but I have personally dealt with a few believers who have been upset with me for challenging “beliefs that make people happy.” And these have also been believers who seem rather “fond” of the idea that Jesus was so wonderful for paying the price to allow them into heaven, so I find it to be a fair bet that the primary beliefs they are so concerned about are those relating to an afterlife.

  23. A. R says

    moarscienceplz: Where do you live though? Because I can assure you that the response would be far, far more violent in many places in the U.S.

  24. says

    This is classic Terror Management Theory (TMT), and I believe it is dead on (so to speak).

    But it works both ways; mortality salience provokes a worldview defense, and challenging someone’s worldview feels to them like an existential threat.

    The most significant feature of atheism is courage, because life is scary.

  25. Dark Jaguar says

    If you want an answer to the question of why atheists are so despised, ASK the people who hate them! I’m not saying the answers you’ll get will make sense, but they’ll be the truth.

    Now, let me make something clear. Just about any argument they make will be irrational. It’ll be easy to pick them apart. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the reason though. It still is.

  26. Menyambal says

    Personally, I find Christians irritating because they remind me of my own mortality, while being in complete denial of their own. Crosses and crucifixes just plain look like death, and those guys really should be using a rolled-away stone as the emblem of their god

    There are more and better reasons to oppose the religion, but that is my fraction of the mortality issue.

    And most Christians don’t seem to have complex reasons for taking offense. Being different is enough to set them off, and disagreeing with them is dangerous. Threatening their belief system is getting pretty abstruse, and most don’t seem in any danger of losing faith, so they can just stick with the basic reasons for hating.

  27. raven says

    If you want an answer to the question of why atheists are so despised, ASK the people who hate them! I’m not saying the answers you’ll get will make sense, but they’ll be the truth.

    Don’t bet on it.

    The three sacraments of fundie-ism are hate, lies, and hypocrisy.

    I’ve never noticed that the fundies will tell the truth when they can lie some more.

    And you are assuming they need a reason to hate. Probably not. Hate is a common feature of tribalism and dates back as far as we have records. It’s all part of defining an in-group and out-group and maintaining group cohesion and motivation.

    The hates of fundies are women, children science, atheists, other xians, nonwhites, nonxians, Moslems, scientists, education, colleges and universities, Democrats, commies, and on and on in an ever expanding list. See the pattern here? It’s everyone but them. And sometimes it is even…themselves.

  28. unclefrogy says

    asking believers why the hate atheists will get answers but I doubt very much that it will be the real answer for the person you are questioning. It will be the answer they have learned and will repeat. Religion is not something you personally figure out but something you learn mostly from a book someone explains to you. There is no outside evidence involved at all. They just learn the revealed truths and repeat them when asked. Of course they are irrational, reason has nothing to do with it. The more they study their religion and its beliefs the better they use the answers they have learned to rebut doubt.
    I had for a long time a struggle with all the answers I learned in “the Baltimore Catechism” and my own reason and the evidence of science and history that contradicted it. Until it just became a house of cards that truly did not reflect existence in any concrete way at all and collapsed into superstition and mythology.

    uncle frogy

  29. says

    I think it’s an answer for some people, in some contexts. It could be most people, even. But there are lots of factors that influence people’s opinions of groups of people.

    I’m also not saying that atheists are not oppressed for their beliefs — they definitely are! But the claim that they are the most oppressed group is patently bogus.

  30. chigau (違う) says

    re: the video
    I lost interest at …basically all of human history…

  31. A. R says

    I’m also not saying that atheists are not oppressed for their beliefs — they definitely are! But the claim that they are the most oppressed group is patently bogus.

    Still sounds like Oppression Olympics at best, and Dear Muslima at worst.

  32. A. R says

    I should clarify that I do disagree with the video, but squabbling over which group of oppressed group is the most oppressed is not helpful.

  33. says

    I find PZ’s perspective on this article and the view by John Iadarola a little too unscientific. Everyone is saying that this was a study with a limited reach, where the conclusion is just that views of mortality play a role in the bad image of atheists. The main point of PZ, that the article pretend to find the answer and he does not buy it, is just a Straw Man argument. If we take away the absolutes, and get back to the article and the comment by John, then yes, many theists feel so threatened by the idea of mortality that the very existence of visible atheists makes them feel threatened. The study showed a little bit of additional insight, with a lot of disclaimers about the size and scope of the study.

    Also, a scientist cannot, with any honesty, decry the lack of voice of atheists in a study about theists. If the question is “do theists take into account their own fear of mortality when reminded about atheism”, the answer has to come from the answers by declared theists. If the question had been “do all people… something” then excluding answers from atheists would have been invalid.

    PZ is doing what he most hates about theists: he is giving an emotional response to a scientific question.

  34. amblingon says

    “So back off on the persecution theme, already.”

    From your privileged position in an ivory tower I’m sure it seems that way. Not all of us have been so fortunate.

    “I can walk down an upscale suburban street and not get hassled by the police or shot.”

    Which is why homophobia isn’t a thing, right?

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I find PZ’s perspective on this article and the view by John Iadarola a little too unscientific.

    Whereas I find your findings unscientific. I should know, I’m a scientist.

  36. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    It’s very oversimplified, but I don’t doubt that it’s an element for some people. To pretend it’s “explained” thereby is dumb, though. As are the “special effects” and whatnot. But TYT uses this crap more and more, probably to stay “hip” and “young”.

    This host is one of their best ones in my opinion, by the way. Depending on what you think of him, you can take that as a compliment for him or as an insult to TYT as a whole, I suppose, but I mean it as a compliment.

  37. amblingon says

    “Whereas I find your findings unscientific. I should know, I’m a scientist.”

    Except that he’s right. PZ misrepresented what the study said, and then he said a bunch of offensive nonsense about how oppression isn’t that bad if you’re able to hide your oppressed identity.

  38. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Except that he’s right.

    No, you are wrong. A bad study, selected audience (college people taking a psych class), not representative (of the whole campus, much less society), small sample size (several hundred needed for legitimate sample size for the conclusions). Didn’t get that criticism? It was mentioned, and the study properly ridiculed for its flaws.

  39. anteprepro says

    Not sure what the issue is. How I was taught in psych:

    -A sample of 20 people or more is often enough to get the statistical power you need. Obviously sometimes you need more, but saying that a study with more than 200 hundred subjects does not have enough begs the question: How much is enough then, why, and how many other psych studies will you be willing to dismiss because you want a sample size of 500 or a 1000?

    -It wouldn’t make sense to include the 42 atheists when you are looking at a sample with the intent of determining what OTHER groups think about atheists. It would be like trying to study just how much racism against African Americans there is out though, but including African Americans in your sample and not bothering to distinguish them or look at them as a separate subgroup. Which would do a splendid job of covertly making it look like the average person is less racist, whether by accident or intent, but it is dishonest to do so and it doesn’t make sense to do so based on the actual hypothesis you are supposed to be exploring.

    -There is an issue of how much you can generalize studies with just college students at one university. Especially when it comes to broader social issues. But, again, that is how most psych studies work. Almost every possible, practical form of getting subjects for studies has issues in the samples, especially if you are doing something more than could be done in a telephone survey. One needs to keep the validity in mind, of course, but it hardly makes or breaks the study. In the case of attitudes about atheists, there are three key ways it could have affected results:
    1. Limited by region of the college. Religiosity varies by region of the country, so the region that it took place in could have affected the amount of stigma associated with atheism. (It’s in Washington, so I think this would actually be a slightly below average level of bigotry).
    2. Limited by the age of the population. The college population has a strong tendency to be young. Which would probably again mitigate the effects of the study, because the younger generation tends to be more tolerant (at least in some respects) and less religious (though that might be entirely mitigated by leaving out the atheists).
    3. Limited by intellectual and economic factors that correlate with being in college. I honestly don’t know what effect this would have. Same with the knowing what effect the disproportionate effect of excluding non-white races would have on exploring this subject.

    These are all limitations of the study, but I don’t see that it is a reason to dismiss it. The biggest criticism is not related to subjects at all: It is that there isn’t Just One reason for aversion to atheists. But I doubt the studies said as much. The linked article brings up discussion of these studies only after referring to the additional fear of “you can’t be good without God”. Maybe the video purports that is the One True Cause of atheist bigotry but don’t throw the study under the bus.

  40. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    The video conclusion is reading the data wrong, i.e. jumping to false conclusion. Yes, the study shows theists, when first made to think about atheists, tend to think about death more. Cuz the starman atheist in every theist head is only concerned with NOT being afraid of death, so naturally the theist will start thinking about death after thinking about their strawatheist.
    Why the theist will think worse things about atheists after thinking about mortality is still a mystery, but what’s NOT a mystery is this is a mistaken attempt to blame atheists as the cause of the theists morbidity thoughts. IOW: correlation is not causation.
    -what else is wrong, is the generalization of this small study to entire population, without recognizing: (1) sample size, (2)distribution breadth of sample population. That latter issue being that a study can be relevant with a small sample size, IFF the distribution of the sample members is broad enough to eliminate “cofounding variables”.

  41. says

    @41 – Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I hope you are not a scientist, because you are a worse reader than a lot of the scientific illiterates out there. A very small study with several methodological failures is the starting point of just about every scientific endeavor. If the conclusions are reasonable for the size and reach of the experiment, you have good ideas for the next step. Only if the study proclaims having reached final conclusions on the matter can we demolish it for the lack of methodological rigor.

    And this study gives us a heads-up, telling us that we should study the feelings of mortality of theists if we are to understand the apparent contradiction in the treatment towards atheists from theists. This is not something to reject with an “I don’t buy that”, it should be taken in the context in which the study was made, so better and larger studies can be attempted.

    Preliminary results with reasonable conclusions are a part of science. “I don’t buy it” is just a tantrum.

  42. littlejohn says

    What bothers me is that they can spell “judgment” but can’t spell “atheism.”

  43. says

    @ anteprepro
    To your excellent comment I would like to respond a few things:
    – as you say, a study is not good because of the large sample size nor bad because of the small sample. Some HIV studies were made with a total sample of about 3 because they were studying healthy people with an HIV infection, and only a few have ever been found. Statistical significance is impossible in this case, but the study of such cases is critical. On the other hand, studies with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of subjects can easily be a mindless waste of everybody’s time if the methodology is poor. You may just expect some food for thought when you have tens of subjects, but you very well should have a reasonable expectation of solid statistical results if you are using thousands of human subjects.
    – the use of a very limited variety of subjects, in this case only college students, is again valid if you are in an exploratory endeavor to find interesting leads to follow, but is a total failure if you are pretending to have final results. In this case, if the scientists were telling us that 30% of all theists hate atheists because of mortality concerns, then we could argue that the sample was not representative at all. But they did not.

  44. says

    Note: There are plenty of studies on this topic (TMT), which suggest this conclusion (i.e. fear of death and the unknown are at the root of the discomfort with atheism).

    Introduced by Ernest Becker in “The Denial of Death” (1973), and discussed in the documentary film “Flight from Death” (which is definitely not the feel-good movie of 2003).

  45. damiki says

    In my experience it’s very much that atheism threatens their worldview.

    I get the same response during discussions about nutrition when people learn I’m vegan, especially from folks who have a similarly strong identity with an different diet (e.g., “Paleo”).

  46. raven says

    If you take this study at face value, (a huge IF IMO), it doesn’t show that xians are afraid of death. That is trivial and they should be.

    1. It shows that they are afraid that…there is no Afterlife. No heaven.

    If they really believed in an Afterlife, death would be no big deal and/or something to be welcomed. So much for claiming to believe in gods and Afterlives.

    2. It also shows that they are not good at thinking. The existence of atheists should have zero bearing on whether there is a Heaven. We have no ability or desire to beat up angels or destroy Heaven. If their gods are no more powerful than a few atheists, then why call them gods?

  47. PaulBC says

    I think most people are already acutely aware of their mortality. The scary people are those who do believe their physical existence is a pale shadow of what’s to come. That’s where you get your suicide bombers and other violent crazies.

    There is some cognitive dissonance, and the deceased can be very alive in our memories. Doesn’t matter what you believe, you may want to see someone again and think about it a lot. If you go to a funeral, you’ll probably hear a lot of religious views about the deceased and where they are now, but you won’t miss them any less. The extent to which nearly everybody will protect their lives gives you a sense of how much they’re really going to stake on having a life after death.

    This isn’t even about atheism per se. You can believe in God and not necessarily assume that humans are vested with an immortal soul. So I doubt very much that this is a major issue with atheists. Seriously–whatever I might personally think–I would rather have a doctor who was fully committed to keeping my mortal coils tightly wound. I am not even sure nonbelievers make believers especially uncomfortable. I fully endorse PZ’s suggestion to leave the persecution complex for the religious.

  48. says

    I do not believe that the data from atheist students should have been used as part of the cohort. If the question being explored is as presented, it doesn’t make sense to include the atheist subset as if it were part of that group so I think that claiming that you are throwing away 18% of the sample is silly. Those 18% of students are simply not a part of the sample.

    However, I also think that that data should not simply have been discarded. On the contrary, that data needed to be included in the analysis to serve as an important internal control.

  49. Die Anyway says

    I think that the underlying question is: Why is there so much animosity? As several above have noted, the mere existence of atheists in no way effects Christians. We don’t stop them from going to church, we don’t stop them from praying (in private at least), we don’t stop them from entering the pearly gates when they die. I can understand why they disagree with us or that they worry that we might be right but the level of anger and revulsion seems to be way out of proportion.
    I am reminded of the mid to late ’60s when guys with long hair would be beaten. I could understand if the thought process went something like; “Damn. That guy over there sure looks silly, or stupid, or something, with all that hair. I don’t think I’ll associate with him.” But instead the process seems to have gone more like; “Damn. That guy over there sure looks silly, or stupid, or something, with all that hair. I think I’ll grab a couple of my buddies and go beat him up.” An animosity far beyond any effect that someone else’s hair could possibly have on them.
    There is, apparently, a group of people for whom violence or overt discrimination is the answer to almost every uncomfortable situation. That’s the issue that needs to be solved, whether it be hair, skin color, religion, lack of religion, gender, etc.