The First Rule Of Atheist Club…

“Even when atheists make entirely peaceful, positive, seemingly uncontroversial statements in public forums, we still get vicious rhetorical attacks and threats. I think incidents like these prove that we can’t possibly be “nice enough” to win everyone over, at least not if that’s our sole tactic.”

The First Rule of Atheist Club is that you cannot be nice. No one can be nice. You’ll never be nice enough, so don’t try.

Second Rule of Atheist Club is that arrival tea, biscuits and fruit must be paid for via the Atheist Tea and Biscuit Kitty every second Wednesday, with at least a five dollar donation and your name clearly marked on the registrar list, which is kept behind Julian’s filing cabinet on the GREEN clipboard. The RED clipboard is for the Break-Away Coffee Faction, who have exclusive rights over the first servings of danish pastries and biscotti (any remaining pastries and biscotti after morning tea on the second Wednesday are available to all).

Third Rule of Atheist Club is consult the founding members of the Break-Away Coffee Faction for clarification on ‘not being nice’, as they are excellent with examples and even have impressive Presi presentations.

Fourth Rule of Atheist Club is that false dichotomies don’t exist. You’re either with us or against us (except in the case of the Break-Away Coffee Faction, as their Break-Away status is NOT a sign of division within atheism, merely a clever moniker that former President Smythe came up with and it’s stuck with us after four years of running the club).

Fifth Rule of Atheist Club is that we cannot spend time worrying about “perpetuating” the angry atheist stereotype as people are going to be mad at us all the time anyway and so it’s better to say that we’ve got fantastic reasons to be angry and just be angry first, even before anything has been put on the table for discussion.

Please note that the Union Hall is used by the Warambool Counselling and Group Anger Management Classes every second Tuesday, so remove any helpful tracts or flyers that they might place around the venue or on the pin boards before the Wednesday meeting. Addendum – make sure that the poster headed Reasons To Be an Angry Angry Atheist is NOT left up on the partition board after Wednesday meetings; the counsellors complained about it last year. Scroll it up neatly and put it behind Julian’s filing cabinet, with the red and green clipboards.

Sixth Rule of Atheist Club is NOT talk to media spokespeople. Religious people hold the power within all societies, are privileged, are proportionally at fault for the discrimination that we face due to their dominant numbers and have never suffered as much as atheists (NOT even at the hands of other religious groups, so don’t think we’re going to fall for that one) and particularly have NOT suffered as much as those who had to sit through hours of YouTube film nights with talking head monologues filmed with a hand-held camera. No media.

Seventh Rule of Atheist Club is no Atheist YouTube film night marathons unless ALL videos are of High Definition quality and use a tripod in their making.

Eighth Rule of Atheist Club is don’t park in the side parking bays at the Union Hall; it makes it difficult to enter and exit the rear parking area and we had an unforeseen truck delivery last semester and the management complained. There’s plenty of parking at the front and rear, otherwise take the 310 Bus from the downtown Warambool station and ask a helpful Atheist Club member to give you a lift back to the station after the meeting concludes.

Ninth Rule of Atheist Club is 80% Atheism / 20% Charity. We cannot waste time devoting ourselves to charity (see First Rule) and we must have a significant emphasis on the Atheist activism element (see Fifth Rule). Analysis of Atheism vs Charity allocation will be measured on a quarterly basis, with any additional monies left over from Charity donated to the Atheist Activism kitty (kept next to the Break-Away Coffee Faction tin). Remember there are NO limits or rules as to what constitutes effective activism and everything is up for consideration (except where it may contravene First Rule, Sixth Rule and especially Eleventh Rule)

Membership of the Atheist Club includes a Seasonal Holiday Atheist Club t-shirt (in choice of blue or grey) with “Don’t Think I’m Giving Because I Think I’m Better – I Know I Am” to be worn when running any soup kitchens, kitten rescues, flat tyres on the side of the road, or what have you.

Tenth Rule of Atheist Club is be friendly, happy and friendly, even as you’re angry. Because the Dominant Religious Oligarchy has Come To Represent The Repression In The System, being friendly and happy is apparently an impossibility for atheists – and so brightly yellow coloured flyers and orange t-shirts with cheerful (if angry) slogans are a must.

Look over the collection of flyers we’ve collected from the Warambool Counselling and Group Anger Management Classes for inspiration regarding slogans and catch-phrases – the 2011 Campaign “Have A Puppy, You Repressive Freedom-Hating Bastards!” was a particularly successful one. Please also consider purchasing via the club order form to get your copy of PZ Myers’ “Happy Atheist” for the next book club.

Eleventh Rule of Atheist Club is to make sure that receipts are kept in the correct colour-coded box in Julian’s filing cabinet for all tea, coffee and sundry purchases, as the Dominant Tax Office Oligarchy is an even greater threat to the club’s future and we don’t want a repeat of the ATO Inquiry of 2010.

Twelfth Rule of Atheist Club is to continue to be LOUD and NOT GOT RID OF. Negotiation and getting what you want will not be achieved by being silent (except in cases where it contravenes Rule Six, or the hiding of the Angry Angry Atheist poster in Rule Five) or being disbanded (see Rule Eleven) – refer to examples in history such as feminism, civil rights (even if you can’t name any popular figures in those fields or summarise their philosophical background in detail – also, avoid being filmed doing so as people might fact-check your references – we are NOT media spokespeople). See also Rule Four regarding the fallacy of ‘there’s some middle ground’.

Thirteenth Rule of Atheist Club is always clean the Union Hall at the conclusion of every meeting using the provided broom, dustpan and brush. Stack all chairs and wipe down the tables. Turn off all computers, coil up and PUT AWAY NEATLY the extension cord and kettle in the venue cupboard.

Place any additional food items in their labelled tins correctly and write CLEARLY the details of broken or misplaced items on the Chiddlingfold Joint Presbyterian / Baptist Union Hall whiteboard that’s in their Main Office next to Julian’s filing cabinet.

Fourteenth Rule of Atheist Club is don’t fight on Twitter.

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  • Lewis

    I really want some biscuits now.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    The 15th Rule of Atheist Club is there is no 16th Rule.

  • Cuttlefish

    “I don’t care to be part of any club that would have me as a member.”
    –Groucho Marx

  • Michelle

    **Giggle**

  • Michelle

    Kylie, can I use the first rule as a quote in my email footer – I will link back to this page … and whom should I credit?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Michelle, this post is just a joke and a parody of a number of attitudes used online (clearly not all demonstrated in the link given at the top of the post, although it did spark a brainstorm) – if you credit, it should be me and should clearly read ‘a satire in general’.

      • Michelle

        Oh Yes!

  • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

    Er, I don’t mean to be humorless, or not hip enough to get the joke, or something — but, reading this as a response to the post you link to at the top, on Daylight Atheism, it looks inaccurate, self-righteous, and basically attempting to argue through ridicule and misrepresentation.

    The bit that most stood out to me was this:

    refer to examples in history such as feminism, civil rights (even if you can’t name any popular figures in those fields or summarise their philosophical background in detail – also, avoid being filmed doing so as people might fact-check your references

    If this is intended as a characterization of Adam Lee, the author of the Daylight Atheism post you linked to, it’s offensive and unjustified character assassination. Adam has been publishing online for over a decade, writing essays on many topics, including those mentioned. To imply otherwise is simply irresponsible and unfair.

    Further explanation and examples of the problematic aspects of the post can be provided on request.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      No, thanks.

    • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

      Thanks for accepting my comment. (It got stuck in the spam filter, and we had a discussion via email about it before it got around to being posted.) I posted my thoughts about the email discussion here, on the Daylight Atheism post.

    • realdeal

      Its not about being hip, it’s about not being a snotty ass when it comes to contradicting your goals as an atheist. Get your own site if you want to waambulance about unfair when someone has pointed out contradictions with many atheists out there who want it all but don’t see how being a dick turns off other atheists. I’d rather laugh, think &improve than throw a teddy bear.

      • Kylie Sturgess

        While “hipster” is akin to Godwin’s Law in my mind when it comes to rebuttal, I think that Adam Lee has put the topping on the cake as it is with his previous comment. Feel free to write your own site yourself if you honestly have a desire to go on further on who is right and who’s an atheist and who laughs or whatever. Me? Two assignments to go….

      • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

        This would be a good example of why maintaining the pretense that this post is “just a joke!?!!” is not sustainable. People, such as realdeal, are clearing reading it as a skewering of “many atheists out there who want it all but don’t see how being a dick turns off other atheists”. That’s not “just a joke”, that’s a serious accusation, that deserves an actual argument. Now, this post may have been written as nothing more than a procrastination break between real work, but that sure ain’t how it’s being read!

  • http://www.russellblackford.com Russell Blackford

    How does one join the Break-Away Coffee Faction?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I think that involves secret handshake and a distinct inability to laugh at oneself. They’re very, very good at being angry. But cheerful at the same time about it.

  • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

    Just for the record, I’m no longer a member of either the Atheist Club or the Break-Away Coffee Faction. I got angry (though not Angry Angry) about their dogmatic insistence on bringing only cranberry biscotti to the weekly meetings.

    I did my best to be a strong voice of advocacy for the mixed assortment, but it was repeatedly said to me that we atheists can’t be seen eating chocolate chip biscotti, as that only fuels harmful stereotypes that all atheists like chocolate. To which I said, if we’re just going to listen to whatever outsiders say about us, why are we meeting in the Union Hall at all, rather than in the basement of the campus chapel where they’d clearly prefer us to be? To which they replied… anyway, suffice to say it all got a bit messy after that point, and in the interests of group comity, I don’t want to drag out the argument any further.

    I do, however, give my unstinting allegiance to Rules 3, 5, 7, 10, and on alternate Wednesdays, #9.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      This is why you’re invited back for the not-actually-Christmas parties and get a free t-shirt (in one of five shades of black) with the slogan ‘I’m So Damned Happy That I’m Pissed About It’.

  • ashleybone

    Maybe I’m not hipster enough to get your jokes, but that seems like an extremely uncharitable reading of Adam’s post. And what I really don’t understand is your faction’s propensity to address this issue by making vague accusations and using sea monkey thought experiments rather than addressing specific, actual incidents or taking on people directly. If you’re so convinced of your rightness, shouldn’t you be able to provide direct evidence of it? Shouldn’t intellectually honest people attack their opponent’s arguments directly, instead of trying to be cleverer-than-thou and risking the building of strawmen?

    For instance, you said “The First Rule of Atheist Club is that you cannot be nice. No one can be nice. You’ll never be nice enough, so don’t try.” How does that represent what Adam said at all? How is that a response to “I think incidents like these prove that we can’t possibly be “nice enough” to win everyone over, at least not if that’s our SOLE tactic.” or “For this reason and others, being nice ALONE won’t end anti-atheist bigotry.”

    Is the 4th rule, “You’re either with us or against us” actually a widely expressed sentiment in the community? If so, why not show evidence of it? How about your 5th rule – do you believe that the “angry atheist” is NOT a stereotype, that people do not get angry or upset from merely hearing the word? If so, how do you explain the rejection of atheist bus signs that merely say “Atheism”? How do you explain the repeated defacement of atheist billboards, some innocuous, some aggressive?

    What atheists are suggesting we avoid media? What data do you have to back up your claim that atheists don’t do enough charity? Did you know Adam is a member of an atheist team on Kiva that was the first to pass $1 million in donations?

    Maybe I’m misreading your entire post because I don’t get your jokes. Maybe I think your humor seems a bit clappy because I have a distinct inability to laugh at myself. So why not express your obviously strongly felt position clearly, with specific examples and evidence? Drop the snarky, vague hand-waving that your humor-deficient foes won’t get anyway and make a real case. And ask your allies to do the same.

    • Kylie Sturgess
      • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

        For reference, the article in question appears to be titled: “Brain Food”, starts on page 18 of the PDF, is co-written by our blog hostess as well as Dr. Bridgstock, and is a friendly and complimentary summary of a number of topics by Loxton and Easu. These include: Loxton’s idea that skepticism should maintain a focus on debunking paranormal claims, his idea that the future of the movement is decentralized, and Easu’s idea of importing the structure of BarCamps from the IT industry into skepticism, in order to engage more people as participants, rather than merely spectators.

        It’s a perfectly nice article, but its very complimentary tone towards Easu and Loxton reinforces the suspicion that this “joke” post is not neutrally “laughing at ourselves”, but rather, “poking fun” at a specific, distinct Other. It’s also in no way an example of the kind of straight-forward stating-one’s-case argument that ashleybone asked for above. I hope Kylie wasn’t trying to imply that it was.

        • Kylie Sturgess

          Thanks for giving it a read!

    • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ JesseW

      I’m glad to see I was not alone in feeling somewhat attacked by this attempt at “humor”. And the snide comments about “distinct inability to laugh at oneself” just reinforce the suspicion that this is anything but “good-humored” laughing at “ourselves”. One gets the impression that the author dosn’t seem themselves as a member of the group being parodied, which makes this a rather different thing.

    • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

      Maybe I think your humor seems a bit clappy because I have a distinct inability to laugh at myself.

      This gives me a sad, because self-deprecation is the heart of all great humor. If you cannot laugh at yourself then you have no business laughing at others.

      Drop the snarky, vague hand-waving that your humor-deficient foes won’t get anyway and make a real case. And ask your allies to do the same.

      Wow, get your own (obscene gerund redacted) blog dude…

      • ashleybone

        This gives me a sad, because self-deprecation is the heart of all great humor. If you cannot laugh at yourself then you have no business laughing at others.

        Try reading the original post.

        • Kylie Sturgess

          No fighting in blog comments is probably Rule 43, just after “make sure you have extra batteries for your calculator, because it’s a hell of a thing trying to do a stats exam without one”.

    • realdeal

      THAT IS WHY NO ONE WILL GIVE YOU NICE THINGS. NO COFFEE FOR YOUUU

  • Erik

    First rule is that this is hysterical.

    Second rule is that “YouTube film nights with talking head monologues filmed with a hand-held camera.” is so spot-on. I’m over those.

    Third rule is that there is no third rule unless you get the joke.

    Forth rule is that I’d love to be going to that atheist club because they seem like the nicest people with their giving rides back to the city, cleaning up, theyre considerate of other clubs and hold their meetings in a church hall. My club is old guys in a pub every second month if I can be arsed to go.

    If the fifth rule was being able to see the practical application vs the theoretical goals of atheism, you made your point but I came for the funny and enjoyed the laugh. Pass the biscotti. Everyone else, Have a goddamned puppy you angry bastards and be happy!

  • Corey

    No. Always be nice, because it provides the contrast needed to make your opponent look like a douche. Be nice, funny, logical, and well-informed. These alone are supreme.