28 August 2012

Atheism+ just digs its hole deeper

I revisited the original post Richard Carrier wrote about "Atheism+". The comments from Carrier were not encouraging. Like this pearl of wisdom:
"Atheism+ is our movement. We will not consider you a part of it, we will not work with you, we will not befriend you. We will heretofore denounce you as the irrational or immoral scum you are (if such you are)." 
Here's what Carrier doesn't get: it's possible to support equality for women, to be a good critical thinker, to support equal rights for homosexual and transgendered individuals, etc. etc., and still disagree with Richard Carrier or Jen McCreight's opinions on various topics related to those issues.

I thought Jen was as wrong as wrong can get about the whole Elevatorgate crap. I thought Thunderf00t  was right on many points and that his ban from FTB simply betrayed the emerging groupthink that I (and many others) figured was inevitable when FTB formed, which "atheism plus" has just put a nice little stamp on.

Just because I don't want women being harassed at secular conferences (or anywhere else, for that matter) does not mean I agree with your take on that particular incident. Just because I support social justice does not mean that I'm going to side with you on every issue that arises. And the problem with Atheism+ is that, if you're not drinking the Kool-Aid with the FTB crowd, you're part of the problem. You're with them or against them. No, there is no "Hey, yeah, I agree in principle, but I have a different view on this matter." It's either "Yes, that guy in the elevator with Rebecca Watson was misogynistic asshole!" or, "I hate women!" There's no continuum, no subtlety, no gray areas.

Maybe that's not what Richard Carrier means. Maybe he really is just speaking in generalities, and he'd be fine with saying that Thunderf00t fully represents the values of Atheism+ despite dissension on one issue. But if that's the case, then a) we really don't need a label at all because innumerable atheists are already united on those things, so really the label Atheist+ is nothing but a solution in need of a problem; and b) the A+ crowd is doing a piss-poor job of communicating that gray areas exist. Probably because of stuff like this:

Let me point out, just for the sake of the obvious, that the late great Christopher Hitchens supported the war in Iraq, said "I'm not having any woman of mine go to work"[1], and was in many ways pro-life. So, by Carrier's standard, he's a douchebag. He's the enemy. He's one of "them". Well, I admired the hell out of him despite not always agreeing with him, and I always will. That's the problem with these idiotic labels – they do nothing but marginalize dissent and reinforce groupthink. But then again, groupthink is starting to look like the FTB calling card.

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