***Update***: To the commenters, I’m aware of the No True Scotsman fallacy, which I tried to avoid in this post. I stand by what I wrote, saying that Duke was no Humanist. Those principles very clearly oppose his actions. Duke may, however, be an atheist. I don’t deny that. It hasn’t been confirmed but it’s possible.
In case you hadn’t seen this story, a gunman opened fire at a school board meeting in Floridaon Tuesday afternoon. The video is probably NSFW and a bit graphic:
When it came time for citizens to bring up issues, the 56-year-old resident calmly approached the front.
He spray painted a red “V” with a circle around it on the wall, brandished a small-caliber handgun and ordered the room cleared at a Panama City schools building.
“Six men stay. Everyone else leave,” the burly gunman said.
How frightening it must have been for those school board members… thankfully, none of them were hurt and the gunman eventually killed himself.
The reason I bring it up here is because of one line in a CNN article about him:
Under “political views,” Duke labels himself a “Freedom Fighter.” Under religious views, he wrote, “Humanism.”
How long before that becomes the focal point of all of this?
Clay Duke was obviously not a Humanist — Humanists are not violent people.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Even if that’s the term Duke used to describe himself, he obviously had no idea what it meant. Maybe he used it for the same reason some others do: it sounds much nicer than “atheist.”
That said, it may be true that he didn’t believe in a god.
I don’t think for a second his possible atheism had anything to do with his actions here. His wife had been fired by the district; he was upset with sales taxes; he said nothing about god or religion in the video clips. There’s no reason to suggest that his godlessness had anything to do with his horrific actions — though I suspect it won’t be long before certain media personalities jump on that.
This was one man trying to “solve” a problem in the worst possible way. He wasn’t thinking clearly.
He may have been an atheist — he certainly was no Humanist — but not a single non-theistic group in the country would defend what he did.