Atheistic Aggression

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How difficult is it to distinguish between knee-jerk criticisms of religions and well-reasoned arguments? I would personally state this is quite simple by looking at the premises of the argument, but this oversimplifies a very complex issue….

Explore Atheistic Aggression at Mors dei.

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8 thoughts on “Atheistic Aggression

  1. From Mors dei:

    The point I think Greg was trying to make is that these knee-jerk reactions and statements of staunch opposition (bordering on hate-speech) to statements by religious groups should not be embraced or utilized
    [break]
    and some of the rhetoric made by atheists can seem, to an untrained observer, to be endorsing intolerance or violence towards a specific demographic. This would make it possible for a very bigoted individual to easily hide within the group.

    Isn’t this an accommodationist point of view? Simply saying “Your god doesn’t exist” is an egregious offense to some theists. They may threaten violent retaliation for your utterance. Or how about the way you become a traitor or unpatriotic by refusing to say the Pledge because it gives allegiance to a deity?

    The accommodationists would love it if the New Atheists would sit down and shut up, but they miss the point that we have had it with the near complete and unwarranted deference to theistic and religious beliefs. When they raise their godsticks over our heads, we will protest with emotion, ridicule, arguments, skepticism, mirrors, disbelief, and any other intelligent tools we have, knee-jerk reactions and staunch opposition included.

    Real hate-speech from atheists that threatens the freedom, rights, or selves of theists, the religious, or a subgroup of either will have to be dealt with on an individual basis of occurrence. And of course there are times when real violence will be necessary (such as under theocracies attempting censorship and possibly genocide of atheists) and it should not be confused with hate-speech.

    That is why I think the firing squad metaphor was horrendous. This is not a privileged community with authoritarian power running around putting bullets in uppity theists’ heads; this is a highly reactive chemical soup that has been brewing for some time. Believers and accommodationists don’t get it because belief is privileged so when they dip their toes in it they get hurt. We just don’t want to live under their oppression any longer.

  2. Aratina, in the metaphor, there are no theists harmed by the atheists. That is not what that metaphor was about. Instead of a firing squad, it could have been a guild of blacksmiths who when they go home from work have hard time not melting everything before they do something with it, or a boat of fishermen who see everything in terms of hooks and bait.

    And no, it is absolutely not an accomodationist perspective. I hate accommodationists. I eat them for breakfast.

  3. How difficult is it to distinguish between knee-jerk criticisms of religions and well-reasoned arguments?

    In the real world there is no such thing as a well-reasoned argument against religion. If you’re not a doormat, you’re an asshole.

    Simply saying “Your god doesn’t exist” is an egregious offense to some theists.

    And not necessarily the ones you would think.

  4. Greg:

    And no, it is absolutely not an accomodationist perspective. I hate accommodationists. I eat them for breakfast.

    I think that’s a point worth carefully elaborating.

    I think one of the worries that some people have, at a high level, is that being accommodating of people’s sensitivities to real or imagined injustices and slurs may often amount in practice to accommodationist behavior.

    I think there are some clear cases where it’s not, and some interesting cases where it’s a funny gray area.

    It would be good to have some good concrete examples to explore, carefully, rather like the Henry Gee case, but which haven’t already exploded into a shitstorm of acrimony.

  5. I should maybe elaborate a tiny bit myself. What I’m especially concerned about is self-censorship, when you don’t express your view—e.g., a negative view about religion in general, and its application to a specific religion—because somebody might take it the wrong way.

    No matter how careful you are, some people will take it the wrong way; in fact, some will intentionally take it the wrong way as a ploy, and make a scene, trying to make you look like a particular kind of asshole that you aren’t.

    Some people do this unintentionally, because they themselves have a confused and essentialist attitude toward themselves and their views—they think that if you’re attacking their cherished views, you’re a monster who’s attacking them personally in the worst way.

    Some people do this intentionally and shamelessly, knowing that many in the audience will fall for it.

    And some people are somewhere in between, thinking that your attack on their cherished belief is beyond the pale, and therefore they owe you no civility whatsoever, because “you started it,” and will use any ploy to make you look bad, and feel justified in doing so.

    That’s one of the problems with being an out atheist. Some people are so offended by what you actually are saying—that you think there’s good reason to disbelieve what they feel so right and good about believing—that you are simply the enemy.

    If you cater to that too much, it’s being an accommodationist and giving away the store.

    Part of the “New Atheism” is going ahead and saying it, realizing that sometimes truly bad things are going to happen, because the alternative is giving in to a demand for self-censorship, and losing the war in the long run.

  6. in the metaphor, there are no theists harmed by the atheists.

    I know, it’s just the imagery could be real. There are and have been real atheist death squads under authoritarian regimes. I think it was too realistic to be a metaphor. But that’s not what you and I are about. We are not authoritarian and we are not out to kill or to maintain control. These theists who we “fire” at are getting hurt because they can’t handle criticism whether it’s rational, ridiculing, rude, or reflective. They don’t understand how much privilege society confers on their theistic and religious beliefs. I guess I’m not convinced that aggressive language is a bad thing to use as a push-back device.

    That is not what that metaphor was about. Instead of a firing squad, it could have been a guild of blacksmiths who when they go home from work have hard time not melting everything before they do something with it, or a boat of fishermen who see everything in terms of hooks and bait.

    When the Big Bad Wolf won’t stop blowing down the hay and stick houses in your neighborhood, you’d be a damn fool to not construct your house with bricks! (And to not keep an open cooking pot boiling under the chimney.)

    And no, it is absolutely not an accomodationist perspective. I hate accommodationists. I eat them for breakfast.

    I am glad to hear that you are not an accommodationist (I never really thought you were 🙂 ). However, there is still the idea that at some point in a blogversation when the theist gets righteously offended, the New Atheists should fold, which misses how the theist barged in originally to set us all straight (usually wrongly) on matters that were under discussion. Believer’s Privilege. Belief Supremacists.

  7. And yet, it seems the distinction between criticizing religions and speech which seems to encourage discrimination against members of said religion is lost… Granted, it’s a very fine, very fuzzy, and very dull line that tends to wiggle some, but we should still take precautions to observe this line. We can even discuss exactly where that line is, but just because we don’t want to accommodate religious doesn’t mean we should encourage or even seem to encourage discrimination against them.

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