Why Internet Atheists Are Like Crazy Straws…

We have the Redditors… and the bloggers… and the vloggers… can’t forget the feminists and the misogynists… and the FtB-ers, who are subdivided into…

My head hurts.

(via XKCD)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    And the mouseover is “The new crowd is heavily shaped by this guy named Eric, who’s basically the Paris Hilton of the amateur plastic crazy straw design world.”

  • Atheisticallyyours

    Heretics all! There is only ONE “crazy straw”! And I have THE ONE! 

    • Xeon2000

      One straw to rule them all?

  • CohobationCadge31
  • articulett

    …and tweeters, and forum stars, and parody writers, and facebook atheists, and meet- up atheists, and splinter groups of splinter groups, and writers that focus on other writers, and singing atheists, magician atheists, scientist atheists, Ayn Rand fans, and secular students…

  • EivindKjorstad

    Ultimately, all cultures are sub-divided fractally until you arrive at a group-size of one.

    Or in other words, all groups consists of individuals. This ain’t surprising, is it ?

  • http://twitter.com/M_Shale Marcellus Shale

    Whatever happened to simply not believing. Maybe this is some sort of privilege speaking because i don’t need atheism to put me outside of religion. i could not fit in just fine in any religion. I enjoy some big A Atheist perspective, but fighting about how to be an atheist seems pointless.

    • Paul_Robertson

       That’s because you’re doing it wrong. Wait five minutes and someone will be along to instruct you in the correct approach.

  • DaveDodo007

    Bloody cats refusing to be herded, it will all end in tears:-)

  • LesterBallard

    Allied Atheist Alliance. I’m with the sea otters, and I will smash your skull like a clam on my tummy!

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      Allied Atheist Alliance? We’re the Allied Alliance of Atheists! Splitter!

  • Drew84

    I think you left out racists, misandrists, homophobes, biphobes, heterophobes and maybe a few others. Even though the internet has helped us Atheists to connect to other Atheists worldwide you get a lot of people who are part of the thing we are fighting against (or ignore in the case of misandry for example).

    • Patterrssonn

      I didn’t even know misandrists existed, I thought they were some half baked mythical creature out of an MRA fairy story, like the feminazis or vagina dentata.

      • Drew84

        Yes they do exist, they have tried for years to hijack feminism and have succeeded in some parts of the world but they are easy to spot if they have hijacked feminist groups or use the term feminist in politics.

        I really hate the term feminazis since feminists were also murdered by the nazis in the holocaust. I wonder who came up with that term? Maybe some misogynist moron perhaps?

        • Ladyh42

          So if I use the term feminist in my efforts to talk about feminism in politics I’m labled a misandrist?  Good to know.

          There’s an interesting thing about using the word feminist.  It’s like the word atheist; use it and those opposed come out in droves to shout you down and shut you up.

          • Drew84

            I think there is a misunderstanding here. All I’m saying is some women who hate men use the term feminism but rather then use what feminism actually is (equality for women and men) they instead use it to get back at men like for example they never admit that women use men for sex, women watch porn, women pay men for sex, women treat men as sex objects, women sexually harass men at a work place and so on but they seem to think only men do these things to women. Sure these things are not as common as they are with men but it is getting there.

            Feminism does not mean misandry or vice versa and I welcome feminism in politics to make sure that women get the same rights, choices, pay and so on as men but it is in danger of being hijacked by misandrists who will turn it into something isn’t, it will be like if women invented the world’s major religions instead of men only everything is reversed.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              See, I have no problem with saying that there are misandrists out there because there are. But they are a very tiny minority. The fact that you’re saying that feminism is in danger of being taken over by misandrists suggests that you believe there are way more misandrists than there actually are.
              You may not fully associate feminism with misandry, but you’re saying that a significant portion of feminists are misandrists, and that’s definitely not the case.
              I’ve never met anyone who’s expressed the views you described above. 

              • Drew84

                I agree with you that is it a tiny minority but sometimes even a tiny minority can get power and influence. Any movement or ideology that is supposed to do good in the world will always be in danger hijacked by a tiny minority who wants to use those for their own means, sure it’s not a great danger but if that tiny minority will see an opportunity they will try to take it.

                • Ladyh42

                  Your concern for the welfare of the feminist movement has been noted.  It reminds me of the concern of the Republican party that voter fraud is rampant and makes legislation accordingly, even tho actual voter fraud has happened perhaps once a year for the last 10.

                • Drew84

                  Well if we could travel back in time show Abraham Lincoln what the Republican Party has become I’m sure he may be disgusted. 

                  I just hope I made things clear in my posts cause I’m not anti-feminist in anyway, if I was I very much doubt I would be a fan of Joss Whedon.

          • Patterrssonn

            How do you spot these misandrists? Necklaces of dried testicles? Some kind of birthmark? Perhaps we could contact the Office of the Witchfinder General for help?

        • Patterrssonn

          How do you spot these misandrists? Necklaces of dried testicles? Some kind of birthmark? Perhaps we could contact the Office of the Witchfinder General for help?

    • schmavery

      ‘Heterophobes’.

      I…that’s meant to be a joke, right?

      • Drew84

        I know that heterophobes exist cause I encountered one years ago. One of my gay friends moved in with his boyfriend so we all went out to celebrate where ever he wanted. So he wanted to go to a gay bar and after a while there one of the bar tenders had me kicked out claiming I said homphobic stuff when all I did was say “I flattered but I’m straight” when he was coming on to me. I found out weeks later he was fired due to his heterophobic views. Sure heterophobia is no where near as common as homophobia and biphobia but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          Even if your story is true, encountering one asshole doesn’t make a view like “heterophobia” a threat worth mentioning. It just means there are assholes out there. 

        • schmavery

          What a tragic story. 

          Maybe heterophobes do exist, though I’d wager it’s probably only as a reaction to all the anti-gay sentiment floating around. A lot of  gay/lesbian bars are a safe haven for the LGBT community, so I wouldn’t blame them for being protective of that space.

           See, when you mention ‘heterophobia’ in the same sentence as homophobia or biphobia, it feels like you’re somehow equating them, even if that’s not what you intended. I’m sorry a gay guy was mean to you once, but comparing it to the oppression faced by the queer community is gross and insensitive.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            I think we have a straw schism here.  We can

            a) I’m sorry a gay guy was mean to you once, but comparing it to the oppression faced by the queer community is gross and insensitive.

            b) if that’s not what you intended

            I’m going to hold off a bit on a) and assume b) until I get evidence to the contrary.

            • Patterrssonn

              Or

              C. He misinterpreted a friendly flirt or a bit of attention for a major come on, and his phrasing came across as hugely condescending. Kind of like ‘thanks but no thanks’.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                I meant on here.  It’s worth pointing out privileged language and asking for clarification.  But having been on the receiving end, I can say it sucks to have a bunch of people you consider safe pile on because you fucked up your wording.  We’re not exactly piling on yet, but it doesn’t take much to light the torches.

                • Patterrssonn

                  I’m a little suspicious, not just be because Drew called a gay man heterophobic for accusing Drew of homophobia, but also
                  Drew’s strange conspiracy theory ramble about “easy to spot” “misandrists’ who are hijacking feminism and working to make men subservient to women, which they apparently are succeeding at in “some parts of the world”.

                • schmavery

                  also suspicious of anyone who uses Joss Whedon as proof of their feminism. 

                • Drew84

                  I’m suspicious that all because I mentioned misandry and heterophobia people are turning a blind eye to it even though I said things like heterophobia does exist even though it is small and misandrists trying to hijack feminism.

                  If you don’t agree with my opinion just say so cause I don’t have all day to explain everything.

                • Drew84

                  Perhaps I should have a blog site of my own to tell people in more detail how to spot a misandrist who claims to be a feminist but even if I do that I have a feeling that certain people would ignore it.

                • Patterrssonn

                  You could call it ‘the protocols of the elders of the manhaters’

              • Drew84

                Actually a lot of gay men come on to me all because the fact I have gay friends. While I do get flattered by all means I know the difference between a friendly flirt and a come on.

            • schmavery

              Except that intent isn’t magical and doesn’t negate any offensive statements.

          • Drew84

            I did say in that post that heterophobia is no where as near as common as homophobia and biphobia so I’m not comparing what I went through in any way to the countless nasty things that gay people have experienced around the world. I get sad when I hear about what gay people go through worldwide and since I love my gay friends I wouldn’t want those things to happen to them.

            I have no idea why that guy was and maybe still is like that, perhaps yes it’s due to the homophobia he may have suffered but the way he was with me was like because of his bad experiences he may think all straight people are like that and it sure looked that way.

            • schmavery

              Then why even mention it, if you understand that it’s a non-issue? 

              • Dalv420

                Because any kind of hatred based on gender and sexuality whether those things are big or small is wrong.

      • Patterrssonn

        Unfortunately probably not.

  • Paul_Robertson

     I would argue that the “feminists and the misogynists” are not subcategories of atheism but rather subsets of society at large. While both groups pop up from time-to-time in atheist forums, (the latter, usually in response to the former) neither have anything to do with atheism. Any comments form feminists or misogynists qua feminists or misogynists should simply be considered off-topic. One might as well include other regular off-topic posters such as “get rich quick” scammers and internet pornographers as subsets of atheism.

    • Patterrssonn

      Nice work Paul misogyny is simply a response to feminism, if only women would stop sticking up for themselves men wouldn’t need to put them down. Also being a woman is totally off topic to atheism, who let the women on anyway.

      • Paul_Robertson

         Nice work Patterrssonn, interpretting everything I said as an attack on you.

        misogyny is simply a response to feminism
        Not what I said. Misogyny exists independently of feminism, but by definition a misogynist is going to be inclined to respond misogynisticly to a feminist comment.

        Also being a woman is totally off topic to atheism
        Again, not what I said. Feminism and “being a woman” are two independent things. You can have women who are 110% behind the “patriarchy” and you can have men who are staunch feminists.

        fem·i·nism/ˈfeməˌnizəm/
        Noun:The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

        a·the·ism/ˈāTHēˌizəm/
        Noun:The theory or belief that God does not exist.

        Kinda different huh?

        • Patterrssonn

          That’s the thing with words, its very rare that they have the same definition. The thing is just because different words have different definitions, doesn’t mean that they bear no relationship. Especially if you combine those words like, feminist atheist or atheist feminist. You see what I’m getting at. Anyway condescension aside but what do you expect in response to such a puerile argument.

          To say that feminism isn’t an atheist issue is completely fatuous, especially in the face of the wave of hostility faced by women who simply asked for an anti harassment policy at atheist/skeptik conferences. When atheist women get rape threats and are told they should be ‘kicked in the cunt” simply for asking that atheist conferences follow normal practice, feminism becomes an atheist issue.

          Not that the wave of mass testeria that swept through the atheist blogs should have even be necessary for women to be allowed to talk about issues that relate to atheist women on atheist sites.

          • Paul_Robertson

            That’s the thing with words, its very rare that they have the same definition.
            Perhaps because most word pairs mean different things?

            Anyway condescension aside but what do you expect in response to such a puerile argument
            You say that as if your argument doesn’t consist entirely of saying, “Feminist atheist! See!” If I were to point you to a right-wing atheist would that mean that right-wing ideology was part of atheism? What if I showed you a left-wing atheist too?

            To say that feminism isn’t an atheist issue is completely fatuous, especially in the face of the wave of hostility faced by women who simply asked for an anti harassment policy at atheist/skeptik conferences
            So what you’re actually saying is not that atheism and feminism are related, but rather that atheism is “broken” and it should become a feminist project?

            • Patterrssonn

              No, that’s not what I’m saying, I don’t even know what that means. How can atheism be broken?

              Don’t believe I or anyone said that feminism is a part of atheism, after all atheism is just the lack of belief in the existence of god/gods. What I said was that feminism is an atheist issue in that it is an issue for atheists.

              ‘Part of ‘- ‘Issue for’ “Kinda different huh?”

              Now can you explain to me why atheists shouldn’t discuss misogyny among atheists? Or will you just subject us to another round of pedantic word games.

              • Paul_Robertson

                What I said was that feminism is an atheist issue in that it is an issue for atheists.
                And my point is that there are few issues that don’t meet that criterion. That makes for a very broad range of potential “atheist issues”

                Now can you explain to me why atheists shouldn’t discuss misogyny among atheists?
                “Shouldn’t” was never my point. People should discuss whatever they want. However, a discussion of misogyny among atheists is not a discussion on atheism, unless you believe that there is something that sets the atheist community apart from the general population in this regard. Atheists are human, therefore it is reasonable to expect that all human failings be represented in the atheist community. Singling out a particular failing and declaring it an atheist issue seems unjustified to me. Why expect greater interest from an atheist forum than you would from a forum on accounting or gardening? Or is it your view that any forum, on any subject, should welcome a discussion on misogyny?

                • Patterrssonn

                  Are you being deliberately obtuse or are you incapable of argument above the level of vague issembling? At least you’ve managed to graduate from referring to women speaking out against misogyny and harassment in the atheist community as equivalent to porn spam.

                  So in the spirit of fun lets see if you can answer the question this time.

                • Paul_Robertson

                  You’re a very rude person. I think we’re done here.

                • Patterrssonn

                  I think you were done about four posts ago Paul.

    • Theetoof

       See this comment sort of characterizes my side-eye toward the atheist “movement.”

      The atheist movement (or at least a loud strain within it)seems to have a narrative of religion being a fundamental, primary contradiction within this society and the world at large and seeks to strip the institutions of their power or destroy it altogether. So in this analysis, atheism as an ideology seeks cultural hegemony, which is a very political thing. Yet the dominant narrative of the movement would also supposedly have you put aside politics. The problem with this is that a lot of the issues that atheism/skepticism touches upon and seeks to engage; from abortion to Muslim profiling to GMO foods; are inherently political and complex topics.

      It is interesting to me that a subset of folks who are based in “rationality” would just out and out ignore the complexities within issues which the dominant narrative of atheism/skepticism engages and I suspect that it correlates with the “movement’s” race/class composition. To me it seems to point to the power of the social capital of privilege and how narratives always seem to flow from this tainted wellspring.

      “A civil society can be measured by the treatment of its women”…or something like that is what some famous credible person said. Though religion plays a role in the treatment of women, it is not the key factor in the relationship of menfolk and the female bodied. Atheism is more a side-note to feminism in this sense. The fraternal bonds of patriarchy seem to supercede the divide of religious/metaphysical belief vs. atheism/skepticism; that is; male supremacy has shown a propensity to reproduce itself through a plethora of philosophical and theological systems. This points to the antagonistic and obtuse relationship between the male bodied and the female bodied as being a more primary contradiction than religion.

      The same with race and class. These are fundamental contradictions in US society, but don’t dare bring them up on an atheist forum.

      • Paul_Robertson

        I get that a lot of “atheist issues” have complications above and beyond the issue of freedom of and from religion, but you seem to expect the “atheist movement” to become essentially a political party, with a fully formed position on every social issue of importance. Not only would this be impractical, I suggest it misunderstands the role that (most) atheist organisations seek to play with regards to these issues.

        The issues you mentioned all have a high degree of religiously motivated partisanship and it’s reasonable to expect an atheist group to oppose these attempts at imposing religion-based policy. On the other hand, if a church or some other group managed to present an argument that stood on its own merits, without any reference to god, then I would expect the atheist movement to step back and to let the debate proceed without them. To do otherwise is to risk losing credibility on our claims of seeking only religious neutrality from the state. What’s more, it would risk alienating those atheistic supporters who hold the opposing view.
        If we define the movement’s role thusly, then discussions on the various feminist/race/LGBT/etc issues becomes unnecessary – in the context of atheism. On the other hand, if we define atheism to include all these other things then we’re left, not with an atheist organisation, but rather with a big-tent social justice movement – a nice thing to be sure, but still a different creature entirely.

    • Xeon2000

      I always just assumed that the atheist movement valued free thought and critical thinking more; therefore, feminist values overlap more often in the lives of female and even male community members. I don’t know for sure if the same could be said of mysogynistic values, but perhaps we’re just more aware of such behavior amongst our peers than other community groups tend to be?

      • Paul_Robertson

        I always just assumed that the atheist movement valued free thought and critical thinking more; therefore, feminist values overlap more often in the lives of female and even male community members
        You’ll have to explain that link to me. You seem to be saying that both atheism and feminism use the tools of free thought and critical thinking. Even accepting that, I don’t see why the use of a common toolset should imply the adoption of a set of values.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      Atheism and feminism both came about during the same time for me when I started really thinking about what I believed. They are very closely tied for me. Christianity suffocated me for years because I was a woman. Only when I stopped believing in it could I fully embrace that I was a valuable person.
      Don’t tell me that’s off topic.
      I’m straight, so LGBT issues don’t really apply to me. That does not mean they are off topic to atheism.
      You might want to cover up, your male privilege is showing.

      • Paul_Robertson

        Atheism and feminism both came about during the same time for me when I started really thinking about what I believed. They are very closely tied for me.
        That tends to be the way with life-changes; we adopt more than one new philosophy simultaneously. But that doesn’t create any more than a temporal link, personal to you. What if you’d switched from supporting the Republicans to the Democrats at the same time? Or vice versa? Would support of that party therefore become an “atheist issue”?

  • http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/ Jonny Scaramanga

    Unity among atheists doesn’t matter so much though, surely? Religion’s schisms are over truth claims, and if you’re claiming to know the only Truth, that matters. The only truth claim atheists make is that there is insufficient evidence for the existence of any god(s), and there’s no disagreement over that.

    I’m not against atheist movements, but agreement on the non-existence of spiritual beings is no predictor that all atheists will be in agreement on other areas. Whereas if there’s a God who communicates with people, there should be significant agreement, which is why church splits are embarrassing for the faithful. 

  • Todd

    Ok, I’m a bit new to all this.  What is a redditor?

    • MichaelD

      People who hang out at the atheism section of reddit. 
      http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism

      • Kamalosh

        A redditor is anyone who spends significant time on Reddit and can tell you when the narwhal bacons.  Not all redditors spend time on r/atheism.  I vastly prefer r/trueatheists, myself, but I don’t spend much time there either.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    The meta theory of crazy straws

    The success of the atheist movement is that atheism is becoming more socially acceptable to people with a vast array of other attitudes and positions on things.  Some, though, have a idealized vision of what an atheist should be.  Once you cling to a particular atheistic idealistic vision, all other atheists seem lacking.  Then the idealist will start to group all these lacking atheists into various categories of how they are lacking the pure ideal.   Then the idealist believes that only their crazy straw is right.

  • http://nearearthobject.net/ Paul Fidalgo

    You bastard, I was going to use this for the Heresy, and be all original. [stomp stomp stomp]

  • Patterrssonn

    Hennant did you link feminists and mysoginists as though there is some kind of equivalence purposely, in order to trigger an MRA whinathon?

  • Al

    There can never be significant agreement when people make stuff up on the fly to try and impose their values and morals on others, which is why varied religions exist and church splits are inevitable.

  • Alex

    Isn’t diversity wonderful? :)

  • The Morning Star

    This blog is just here to grab traffic from XKCD. Theives! Fiends! Liars! In my experience, the more religious somebody is, the less kind and trustworthy they are.


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