Last month I was at a skepticamp and there was a person that was “skeptical” of global warming. The same word “skeptic” but used opposite of the way that I use it. He verbally attacked a presenter during question and answer time and called the whole group into question. “How can you call yourselves skeptics if you accept global warming? ” or something like that.
There was a talk by a follower of intelligent design. I was told that all ideas have value so, everyone should be allowed to give a talk. The idea is noble but I think it is wrong. Skeptic is a good word but it is not clear to people outside of our little but growing group. We need something else.
Atheist is not much better, I remember several years ago when I went to my first atheist convention. I was so happy to be there and to be surrounded by rational people. Most people were rational, but there were also some very irrational people. There were atheists that love jesus, atheists that think 9/11 was an inside job and atheists that think closing all of the public schools will make America a better place (just to name a few ideas). I learned that just because you are not convinced that a god (or gods) exist, does not guarantee that you are a rational person or apply the same level of skepticism to other parts of your life.
Several years ago, I was on the board of AAI (Atheist Alliance International – Disclosure: I am a life member of this organization.) and I was constantly frustrated that they could not agree to support any position outside of atheism (a non position). The group as a whole could not agree that simple things like slavery or astrology were wrong. They were worried that any position taken may offend someone and the group might lose a member or two. My position….
If you don’t stand for something you stand for nothing!
It is great to have atheist meetings, share drinks with friend and I love going to conventions. But, it is not enough. We need to stand for something and we need a new word – a new name.
The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion.
It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.
The idea was so big that her first post now has 949 comments.
I have always supported the idea of more groups. I have even proposed that we start multiple groups on every university campus. We can still have SSA (disclosure: I am a life member and currently on the board) but we can also have Humanists, Skeptics, Pastafarians and now Atheism+ clubs. Each group can do its thing and they can join together when they share goals. More groups mean more options and more members.
Less than 6 months ago I cried as every major non religious / skeptic group came together to support the reason rally.
Now my heart breaks as atheists spend more time attacking each other and less time being productive. I would like to believe that most atheists are rational and can express their views on Atheism+ in a polite and civil tone. I hope it is only a few that are stirring the post and grabbing for attention by making extreme statements but there is a cost.
Jen McCreight has stepped away from her blog.
I can no longer write anything without my words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter).
This is not acceptable and every one of us needs to stand up and say so. I also refer you to a great post by Phil Plait – The silencing of hate.
A woman gamer wants to make a documentary showing misogyny in video games, and she gets rape and death threats. Rebecca Watson calmly and rationally tells men not to hit on women in enclosed spaces and reaps a supernova of hate and irrational vitriol. And now we’re seeing death threats, rape threats, all kinds of violent threats, against women who are simply trying to improve the way they are treated at meetings as well as online.
This. Must. Stop.
Jen has made a difference in many lives! Her voice is needed to provide a balance to the male dominated atheist movement. Let me be blunt…. If you attack Jen for her views you are part of the problem. You don’t have to agree but you do need to be civil! If you cannot, I will not consider you a rationalist, a skeptic or a decent person.
We all want to make the world a better place and we need more Jens!
Jen, My perfect wife and I support you and support you taking some time away from the hate. Take all the time that you need and when you come back know that there are people that support you!
I don’t know where Atheism+ will go but, I support the idea and wish them the best. If it is not the group for you – cool. There are many other groups you can join or you can start your own.
The more groups the better! In four years I expect and hope that we can all come together again and get 1,000,000 people to the next Reason Rally!