I really do see what you are saying

Last week, I jumped all over the local church that put up a ‘Pat Tillman Cross’ for Memorial Day. I was very angry, and I’d argue that I focused this anger into actionable real-world change. The cross came down within an hour. Within two days, I got the display’s creator to issue a heartfelt promise to change her whole approach to honoring the dead (not using a single religious symbol to honor all the dead).

However, a small number fellow atheists let it be known that they felt that it was ‘bad for the movement’.

They said I was too angry. And I sort of agree – I never did or would have talked like I did to the concerned parties. I used swear words on my personal blog and on my facebook to express how I felt. Even if others don’t understand the difference, there are two distinct types of criticism

The kind of criticism that I can take and learn from:

Justin, I read your original story. You came off as an asshole in it. You had already formed an opinion and were on the attack based on your writings. You did not advocate education, but rather your written assumptions indicated that you assumed that the person did this to achieve something by co-opting a famous person. Perhaps you actually came across differently, but that is NOT the way you put it.

The reporter actually admitted to me that he zoomed in on this cross because she mentioned that he was the ‘famous football player hero’. I also tried to point out that it was obvious that I never used this language in my outreach, and this commenter and I eventually agreed to (sort of dis) agree.

And this is the kind of criticism that makes me shake my head:

Fuck you, Justin.

Rock Beyond Belief gets zero support from me now. As well as your foxhole atheists.

I give a significant amount of money to secular charity every year. I will specifically go out of my way to be sure none of my money ends up benefiting you in any way.

There is a right and wrong way to treat people. Being a dick toward a little old lady is just bullshit.

Unsubscribed

I wasn’t a dick towards a little old lady. I was (at worst) an emotional activist screaming through a megaphone at an audience who was comprised entirely of fellow atheists. All they needed was a phone number (to the ‘responsible’ journalist). It worked - within one hour – and I have no regrets whatsoever.

I don’t know how much money this person donates to the movement. In my experience when someone talks like that they mean it. Please – we need about $50,000 more to break even for the next round of fundies. The best place you can donate is to American Atheists ***but please annotate your donation as ‘for the military department’***

You may have noticed that I’ve never made a ‘cafepress’ or ‘zazzle’ store. I have never signed up for google ad-sense or enabled youtube ads on my videos. I’ve not nickel and dimed my way towards activism. The small amount of money that I earn at this blog is immediately donated to local atheist activism. I refuse to make a cent off this cause. (For what it’s worth – I’m among the top 5-10 at FtB and I earn approx $100/month. An order of magnitude separates my earnings from the top dawg, who in turn re-invests much of it into this venture and other forms of activism.)

About Justin Griffith
  • E.V.

    Yeah, the flounce out is bad form as well. No real loss from the “you’re a meanie so I negate any and all ideological ideas you subscribe to, nyah nyah nyaaaaah!” cry babies. They were never truly sympathetic to the cause, they’re liars or they’re trolls.

  • dave

    You know, Justin, your audience is not composed entirely of atheists, and I don’t think it’s wise to look at it that way. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? How are you going to change people’s minds if you’re just preaching to the choir, as it were.

    Considering the deafening level of emotional anger and typical internet bullying and insults leveled at me at this site and your Facebook recently, you might ask yourself if Free Thought Blog is really an appropriate name for this place. Looks more like Conform or Face The Sneering Atheist Rage.

    I think the Rev. MLK is a good example to show that calm and reasoned inclusive love and hope works better for movements of social change than, say, the bitterness of the Occupy movement.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    Of course, dave, that wasn’t what MLK thought.

    You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.

  • dave

    Stephanie, you left out that part where he goes on to say that if they question you call them a dumb-ass ignorant fucking asshole douchebag. Or in Justin’s case, Fuck you…dick. Or, in opposition to that guy, he’s a liar and a troll. Stay classy.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    dave, way to forget what you just said two comments up.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/VeritasKnight VeritasKnight

    I understand your rage, because I’ve heard of it as well. My dad’s not an atheist in terms of identifying as one, but he’s also not a Christian (the closest he’s ever come to identifying a religion was filling out his Scouts Canada leadership form when I was 13). He’s forbidden me from allowing prayer and hymns at his funeral. If someone did this to my father, I would have reacted pretty much the exact same.

    I would have been utterly, totally, completely furious. And we heard the reaction of Pat Tillman’s brother at his funeral. We know that the family would have felt the same there.

    Of course, I identify with your rage, and I trust that you didn’t point that directly at the people in question. Why? Because as a long-time follower of RBB I know that you let out your rage here because you *can’t* do it on base. You can’t get angry even a little with the people who cause these problems day in-and-out for you. So to me? This is a great place for you to vent and avoid getting in trouble with your superiors.

  • Justin Griffith

    You know, Justin, your audience is not composed entirely of atheists, and I don’t think it’s wise to look at it that way. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? How are you going to change people’s minds if you’re just preaching to the choir, as it were.

    I don’t write about “atheism vs theism”. There are plenty of others that do a much better job than I could. I usually write about ‘atheist rights issues’ and nearly always in the context of the military. I really do try to get the word out to the atheist citizenry that supports the troops but maybe doesn’t really know how. Military culture has thick jargon as it is and add to that an overwhelming sense of shame and fear for foxhole atheists… you get an information vacuum.

    This blog is for atheists. My facebook is for atheists – my family can’t even meaningfully interact with me on it anymore. I know there are a few theists reading. Perhaps they want to understand the culture, or they are ‘supportive of all’, or they are my boss ‘spying’ on me… whatever the case, it’s not for them. They are welcome to read it, and I hope they get something out of it. It’s simply not for them.

  • soul_biscuit

    Considering the deafening level of emotional anger and typical internet bullying and insults leveled at me at this

    Deafening? Funny, I can hear you just fine.

    Looks more like Conform or Face The Sneering Atheist Rage.

    Uh huh. Others disagreed with you forcefully, therefore FTB is a “Hive Mind” choked with “Thought Police.” Thought Police who swear.

    Your pearls must have entered your bloodstream by now.

  • A. Noyd

    dave (#2)

    How are you going to change people’s minds if you’re just preaching to the choir, as it were.

    Are you honestly interested in having your mind changed? If so, rather than chastising Justin for failing to do something he’s not trying to do, why not describe what you’re looking for and ask for blog recommendations? For instance, Greta Christina spends a lot of time helping theists understand atheism and atheist thought, and she doesn’t allow name calling in her comment section.

    Looks more like Conform or Face The Sneering Atheist Rage.

    Maybe we here at FTB value conformity or maybe the things you say are just egregiously stupid and wrong.


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