So, What Now Atheists?

She makes some good points:

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  • mikespeir

    Yep. And yet there are a lot of atheists that seem to like nothing better than slapping people down. They’ll twist themselves into knots trying to justify that attitude and insist it’s “rational.”

  • Travis

    Can we aethiests stop playing the race card, please? We come off sounding like those right wing nutjobs that proudly claim the race card of “reverse discrimination” on the old white guy.

    • Ty

      Huh?

      • Travis

        I’m sorry let me clarify. Everytime I see an atheist championing the cause, they always try to bring up that aethiesim is the new black. (or gay, women, jew, insert any group that was treated like crap historically). I think doing so is demeaning to those other groups who genuinely are suffering the effects of the discrimiation even to this day.

        The other group I see thats really starting to make noise about being the new discrimiated class is fox news, and the people that really enjoy fox news. Somehow they’ve convinced themselves that all the laws preventing them from being awful to other human beings have now caused a situation where people are discrimiating againsts poor defensless white americans. Everytime I see a news clip of one of them claiming that there being discriminated against, I want to throw up.

        I guess what I’m saying to my fellow aethiests is grow up. The way people treat us is not the way that people treat other minority groups, so stop comparing yourself to them. And even if they do its because we are out there proudly saying that the thing they hold as the core of there values is a bad thing. Why shouldn’t they be mad at us?

        • Ty

          Ah, ok.

        • Logan

          You’ve obviously never been to Oklahoma. Death threats, beatings, recommendations from both the general public and the government that we should be considered second-class citizens or not even citizens at all, these are just some of the things that Oklahoman atheists have to go though if we come out of the closet. Just google Sally Kern’s Proclamation of Morality.

          • Heidi

            And it’s not just Oklahoma.

        • Michael R

          ” I think doing so is demeaning to those other groups who genuinely are suffering the effects of the discrimiation even to this day.”

          Atheists are also unfairly stereotyped and discriminated against. We don’t take anything away from any other group by acknowledging that fact, nor is it demeaning to them that we also are treated differently. It’s possible for more than one group of people to be discriminated against simultaneously. It’s not a competition.

          “And even if they do its because we are out there proudly saying that the thing they hold as the core of there values is a bad thing. Why shouldn’t they be mad at us?”

          Oh, so if we’re discriminated against for stating our disbelief in a god, we deserve it? I guess Black people should paint themselves white, because coming out into public being black is deserving of discrimination. While we’re at it, let’s have women wear men’s clothes, get butch haircuts, and put on fake beards so they won’t earn bad treatment for being female. Jews should pretend to be christians too. I mean, how DARE they proclaim their Jewishness! How could anyone resist abusing them for being so arrogant as to state their ethnicity?

          • John C

            Michael…see my response to you on the other thread “the consolations of atheism”.

          • http://theedesecrator.blogspot.com Thee Desecrator

            Nice response. I believe it was Frank Zindler that said this at the 2008 American Atheists Conference in Minneapolis. Paraphrasing: “Atheists are the last group that it is still socially acceptable to discriminate.”

            • Siveambrai

              Don’t forget the gingers… everyone hates them.

              (j/k – but I really did see an article about that once)

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Everytime I see an atheist championing the cause, they always try to bring up that aethiesim is the new black. (or gay, women, jew, insert any group that was treated like crap historically). I think doing so is demeaning to those other groups who genuinely are suffering the effects of the discrimiation even to this day.

          Well Travis, you make our point for us. If someone were to discriminate against a member of one of those groups today (which still happens), the majority of society would stand up and express their disapproval at the bigotry. That does not happen for atheists. It is still acceptable to hate and discriminate against atheists. Imagine a sitting state governor expressing how he was offended “disturbed” by an ad which merely acknowledged the existence of blacks or women. How long do you think it would take before he was drummed out of office?

        • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

          Right on, Travis. It is a very different thing.

          “so stop comparing yourself to them”

        • Siberia

          I guess what I’m saying to my fellow aethiests is grow up. The way people treat us is not the way that people treat other minority groups, so stop comparing yourself to them. And even if they do its because we are out there proudly saying that the thing they hold as the core of there values is a bad thing. Why shouldn’t they be mad at us?

          Y’know, demeaning women and killing gays is part of some people’s core values as well. Should they just suck it up and shut up as to not offend the believer’s widdle fweelings?

          Just because they aren’t killing us by the dozens (which would be hard to do – pretty easy to hide, lack of belief) doesn’t mean there isn’t discrimination.

          • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

            “Should they just suck it up and shut up as to not offend the believer’s widdle fweelings?”

            Well, to be fair, he didn’t say that, did he? I don’t think he meant to infer it either. He said there are distinctions to be recognized.

            • Siberia

              And I agree, there are differences, of course there are. But he did say this:

              And even if they do its because we are out there proudly saying that the thing they hold as the core of there values is a bad thing.

              I argue that some people hold that homosexuality is an abomination quite close to their core values, as well as that women should be subservient to their husbands. That doesn’t mean women should remain subservient or homosexuals should remain in the closet and never show their faces in the public, does it? Then why should we?

              It’s like he’s implying we should act nice and proper about something we think is wrong because it might hurt someone’s feelings.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              It’s a difficult thing to make the point I think he is trying to make without such a thing being inferred. I don’t happen to make that inference myself. And I can see where, if I did, I might overlook his main point. It’s comparing apples to motorcycles to compare discrimination against blacks to discrimination against atheists. In America at least. The distinction Travis alluded to is you have to be vocal in order to be discrinated against as an atheist. If you’re black you don’t have to do a god damned thing.

            • Siberia

              The same doesn’t hold for homosexuals or jews, though. That doesn’t mean they should remain in hiding to remain safe, does it?

              My main point is: yes, atheists aren’t being hunted and slaughtered as has happened to all those groups; good for us. But it doesn’t follow that we aren’t discriminated against, neither does it follow that we should keep silent about whatever discrimination we may feel, just because they aren’t shipping atheists to concentration camps.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              See my response above.

            • Siveambrai

              My main point is: yes, atheists aren’t being hunted and slaughtered as has happened to all those groups; good for us.

              You forgot to add currently. I mean people in history have been slaughtered for having the wrong beliefs as well as no beliefs at all. Just because it wasn’t to scale doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  • reckonr

    My fascination with the religiously delusional comes from listening to them state, in one breath, that they are rational, sane people whose belief in an invisible, mythological being derived from eons-old hearsay is true and real. And in the very next breath, discard every other superstition, fairy tale, urban myth, supernatural phenomenon, miracle claim, religious text, and pantheon of gods for lack of evidence and plausibility. And then waiting for the light bulb. And then waiting some more.

    Ignorance, if not bliss, often saves a good deal of time.
    — Anthony Gilbert

    • Ty

      I admit, I share your fascination with that, in spite of the fact that I used to do the same damn thing.

      • Question-I-thority

        …in spite of the fact that I used to do the same damn thing.

        That’s the interesting thing to me, the vastly different positions I have championed while at the time believing the other was completely untenable.

      • Michael R

        I completely agree with the message of this video. We will never get religious people to understand who we are if we continuously ridicule them. Part of the Christian faith is the notion that they’re in some special club who will be persecuted for their love of Jesus/God. When we mock them, they will take it as further evidence of their connection to their lord and savior. The bible and/or their pastor told them this would happen. And we sometimes play right into that trap. It is horribly counterproductive, unless your intention is to push them deeper into their faith.

        The way to deal with religious people is to remember that many of us were just like them at one time. They are human beings, just like we are, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what they believe. I can’t think of a better way to represent atheists than to be a proponent of honesty, fairness and integrity. A good way to create a healthy debate is to avoid being provocational or condescending and focus instead on promoting understanding about the strengths of our worldview, or what it means to you to be an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, etc.

        • Ty

          That certainly works for some people. It didn’t work for me. Condescension and provocation drove me to do the study that eventually led me to atheism. Treating my views with respect just let me continue to believe they had inherent merit.

          As we used to say when I was an evangelist, “Everyone has their own style of evangelizing, and you never know which one will work on a particular person.”

          • Aor

            I may have to quote you the next time someone tells me not to use ridicule.

        • Olaf

          I agree in theory, but in reality it simply does not work.
          It is impossible to use normal logic on these type of people. They have been brainwashed for so many years.

          You need something to confuse them, something that triggers them to ask questions and one of the things is somehow to force to read about evolution for example in order to fight back atheism and their danmed Darwin. As long as they stay on canned responses from other creationists sites then nothing will change, but if they actually take up the real science books, then they might discover that all these times they have been lied upon by their own people.

          We cannot convert religious people, it takes many generations and science is eroding religion step by step.

        • Roger

          I have no interest in prescribing a singular way in which to deal with the intransigently religious. For example, I like this blog, but I also like PZ Myers’ blog. Those who attempt to proselytize there are likely to be cursed out with a quickness, while here, those who attempt to proselytize are…well, sometimes mocked, sometimes taken seriously, sometimes ignored. This idea that all atheists are supposed to regard all Christian proselytizers with equanimity and to never, ever respond with sarcasm or biting vitriol is ludicrous.

          • Elemenope

            This idea that all atheists are supposed to regard all Christian proselytizers with equanimity and to never, ever respond with sarcasm or biting vitriol is ludicrous.

            Of course it is. One of the neatest things about being an Atheist is that there is no central authority that can tell you what you ought to be doing; you get to figure it out for yourself. Of course, it is also OK to have an opinion about those ‘oughts’; to believe that one way is better than another, on balance. Then again, Ty is probably ultimately right in that it is impossible beforehand to know what, if anything, will work with any given person.

            • Sunny Day

              I like seeing a mix of what works. Calm reasoning, asking questions, trying to get the other guy to ask questions, sharing perspectives if you were once in their shoes. If it goes on long enough and doesn’t seem to be working we go all “Aor” on them.
              :)

            • Roger

              I completely agree, Elemenope. I mean, I don’t use biting sarcasm with my uber-religious mother, and when two elderly men from a local church came to my door and asked me if I had a “church home,” I didn’t issue a scathing condemnation of their worship of an imaginary sky friend and his son with suicidal tendencies. I just said “I’m not interested,” and kept it moving. Now, with Intelligent Design proponents who keep bleating about “Where are the transitional forms???!!!11one,” and proselytizers who troll atheist blogs and want to immediately spout scripture…or some other woo-filled drivel, I say, let the invective fly fast and furious. But, as they say, to each his own. And if the goal is conversation—with people who are serious about having an actual conversation and not merely bleating about that suicidal deity and sticking their fingers in their ears while you talk–then I’m all for it.

            • Aor

              Isn’t this the complete opposite of what you said to me just a few days ago?

              Like this…

              Ridicule is generally ineffective (your protestations about peer pressure notwithstanding), but more to the point, it coarsens the dialogue to the point where people can no longer have more nuanced conversations and drives away people who might otherwise want to contribute. You, by the way, are an absolute master at this.

              And this..

              But by all means, if you find something ridiculous, you can of course heap scorn on it, make merciless fun, and say nothing constructive. You have the absolute right to do that. I will, of course, criticize you for it.

              This, again, is why I call you a liar. You frequently take those contradictory positions and expect people to not notice.

            • Jabster

              Well I would probably put it down more to the fact that the two of you obviously aren’t “bosom buddies” therefore with the best will in the world you’re still going to read each other’s posts in a less positive light.

            • Sunny Day

              I don’t get it Aor. It doesn’t seem contradictory to me.

              One quote shows how he disagrees with the tactic of ridicule.

              The second agrees with the right to ridicule the things that people find ridiculous, and adds the note that its not constructive and he will criticize you for it.

            • Elemenope

              Isn’t this the complete opposite of what you said to me just a few days ago?

              No. You’ll figure it out eventually. (Or not.)

            • Elemenope

              Read Sunny Day’s very recent post for a pointer.

            • Aor

              I’ll take your word for it I suppose, but from my angle it seems like Elemenope will say things he doesn’t actually believe if I get under his skin.

            • JonJon

              You seem to think that about a lot of people.

          • Michael R

            I don’t think that’s quite what I said, and it certainly isn’t what I meant. I’m saying if you attempt to engage a religious person by acting like an asshole, they’re just going to disconnect, and all you’ve accomplished is making yourself, and every other atheist, look childish and petty. I’m not going to pull punches in a conversation with a religious person, but I’m not going to treat them like a dog, either.

  • http://www.stephadamo.com Steph Adamo

    I was recently called out by a fellow atheist friend for using demeaning language in my blog posts on religion. My blog is where i express myself, and i do happen to get rather pissed off about religion, but apparently my readers were offended and turned off by it so i’m contemplating ways of expressing the way i see things without sounding like an asshole.

    It’s unfortunate that because we are atheists we can’t be passionate or witty, but i guess touting rationalism requires that we proceed by the rulebook of debate whenever we talk about what we believe.

    • Roger

      Steph, I’m of the opinion that it’s “your blog, your rules.” If people can’t take what you read, there are other more supportive, nurturing websites and blogs that will never raise an offending word to their precious, sensitive ears. Of course, “your blog, your rules” is not without consequence…and if you lose readers, well, that sometimes happens.

  • http://goodreasonnews.blogspot.com Good Reason News

    I write Good Reason News and with it I have a specific purpose. To show the harm of religious beliefs. I don’t expect to change people’s minds, but for me, I started questioning religion when I started seeing how harmful it was. The truth is, it doesn’t entirely impact the truth value of religion, but I don’t know why people would want to re-evaluate religion’s truth value without have good reason. So I hope when theist’s read my blog they see the harm of religion and ask why they’re involved in it. I hope they stand back and say ‘am I contributing to this?’ I hope seeing the blight on society, theists ask themselves, ‘why do I think that god is there at all?’

    I hope that counts as ‘doing something.’ At the very least, it’s one more voice.

  • Lucienne

    When I was a kid, everyone seemed to be much more tolerant about religion. I would tell my various and sundry friends who were Christian and Jewish that I was an atheist, and everyone just shrugged it off. I can think of only 2 people who tried to take me to church to bring me to some kind of faith. Even my Mormon best friend never tried to convert me.

    Nowadays, though, people hate me, without knowing me!

    We ARE discriminated against, and it’s led to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. I feel like a gay person who is in the closet or sometimes a black person trying to “pass” as white, because I know there are an awful lot of people who will hate me and make very wrong assumptions about me and who I am based on my religion.

    Even the former president of the United States, George Bush, said that atheists shouldn’t be allowed to be citizens!!! No wonder his crazy son is a “true believer” (except for when it gets in the way of what he wants to do, like many Christians.)

    • Sunny Day

      Its because we’re getting uppity.

      • Elemenope

        Perhaps. Certainly people until very recently have felt as communities more secure in their religious beliefs. Not so much anymore. When people feel insecure they tend to lash out at others.

      • Siberia

        Exactly.
        The beauty is that nobody can guess you’re an atheist unless you confess it; we look just the same as everyone, you act like everyone – much like gay people. But whereas gay people have a biological imperative that can be hard to resist, atheists don’t – it’s easier for us to hide.
        Doesn’t mean it’s right for us to have to.

        • Elemenope

          I dunno. I’ve been an open atheist for some time now, and the worst that ever happened to me on account of it was getting thrown out of some girl’s dorm room because I “offended her”.

          • Siberia

            I haven’t been “in the open” because, well, my mother’s a believer and I’d hate to hurt her over something that doesn’t have that much hold on my life. She’s one of those people who think atheism is unthinkable; she’d rather I follow any religion than no religion. She suspects it, but is In Big Denial.

            Ironic that I think she’d take it a lot better if I was gay.

            • rodneyAnonymous

              My dad would probably react better to that, too, and he hates gay people.

    • DDM

      To get around that, I tell people I believe in the Odin the Allfather and Valhalla. It’s always met with surprise and “do you really believe in that?”

      It’s quite funny, but sadly, belief in any deity is more accepted than belief in no deity at all.

      • Siberia

        That’s an awesome idea. I may have to invoke Anubis’s name more often.

  • billybee

    How-za-bout this: Differnt’ strokes for differnt’ folks.

    Some of us are lovers and some of us are fighters. Guys like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens are my heros. They stood up to the schoolyard bully and said “KNOCK IT OFF!”… Still, Dennett has a soft and intellectual approach that is very effective as well.
    U be U & I b me. Whatever works for you is going to have a net effect that is going to impact false beliefs….mission accomplished.

    Last point: Some Christians are going to see us as asshole no matter how nice we act…so why bother “whispering to a rino?”

  • zack

    ignorance breeds religion. Education is the key to a happy future.

  • http://camelswithhammers.com Camels With Hammers

    This video is rather annoying and cloying if you ask me. She has some fine tips but really what this comes down to is that a wide array of strategies each are necessary for addressing different believers. There’s no need to wring our hands on whether this or that atheist turns people off. No one is getting remotely violent or promising to get violent, so let’s let a thousand atheist flowers bloom. Soft sellers and hard sellers alike play each play their own roles.

  • Mama

    All I could think when watching that was, when is she going to stand up so I can see what’s doin’ in that little tennis skirt. So I went to her YouTube site….and low and behold….I found the cameltoe….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKoug7vNlUk&feature=channel_page

    Sick minds aside, she does make some very good points. :)

  • Zotz

    This women is a fool.

    The religious bigots, and make no mistake they are all bigots — no matter how well meaning, are like mules: it is necessary to get their attention before you can communicate. Some have advocated a 2×4 between the eyes (figuratively of course) for this purpose. I heartily endorse this method.

    NO QUARTER!

  • L Herron

    Ironically, the lost atheist in the video, and her like minded associates have created a religion of denial. This video is equivalent to Christian efforts to convince unbelievers of their need for Jesus Christ. Its sort like saying, “lets raise an Army to oppose war”.

  • Michael R

    I see a lot of misguided hostility in some of these posts. If it’s your intention to make yourselves out to be obnoxious, maladjusted jerks, then feel free to launch into a tirade with every religious person you encounter. You aren’t going to convince anybody that your point of view has merit, and you’ll most likely be written off as an insufferable ninny, but if it makes you feel better…

    I think the point this video makes is that it’s wiser to engage people in a dialogue that is rooted in mutual respect and dignity than it is to lash out at them every chance you get. You’ll have a much greater positive impact by being dignified, intelligent and patient than you will being angry, sarcastic and condescending.

    • Heidi

      Here’s the thing with that. Haven’t we already been doing that for… well, forever? But notice it took guys like Dawkins and Hitchens to really get anyone’s attention. IMO, all methods are valid. Being polite, quiet and respectful all the time gets you nothing but a seat at the back of the bus.

      • Elemenope

        So far as I can tell, the only bus that Atheists have been sitting in back of is the one of sociopolitical *acceptance*. And for what it’s worth, you can’t make people like you but you certainly can make it easier to hate you.

        • Heidi

          I have to ask, how old are you, and what part of the country are you in? Because it sounds to me like you’ve been sheltered from a lot of problems other atheists have faced.

          Have you seen this poll? Out of the 262 responding at the time of this post, 48 of them (18%) have been physically threatened due to their godlessness. And 16 of them (6%) have been fired from a a job over their beliefs.

          Have you heard of Amanda Donaldson, who was fired from her job after returning from breast cancer surgery because her employer had found out about her atheist beliefs?

          How about Nicole Smallkowski (sp?) who was run out of her Oklahoma high school for being an atheist?

          This stuff doesn’t get picked up and repeated all over the news, but it’s happening nonetheless.

          • Michael R

            Those stories certainly turn my stomach, but they provide no reasonable justification for bad behavior on the part of atheists. When you behave rudely, it will merely embolden the bigots, who will use your pugnaciousness as yet another excuse to dehumanize us all. Then they’ll feel even more justified to behave like imbeciles. Nobody is advocating lying down like a mat to be walked on, but using condescension and ridicule should be a last resort, rather than a beginning. If that approach doesn’t work, or the situation calls for something a bit more contentious, I won’t hesitate to bow up like a three-dicked dog.

            • Sunny Day

              Yah, because laying back and taking it works out so well. Just like it did for everyone else, blacks, women, jews, ect…..

            • Michael R

              You should consider reading the entire post before replying.

            • Sunny Day

              You should consider that we’ve been trying “your approach” for at least the last few hundred years. I’m sure if we give it another hundred years or so appeasement will finally start to work. If people kept trying your way Women would still be 2nd class citizens and we’d still have separate but equal facilities.

              “When you behave rudely, it will merely embolden the bigots, who will use your pugnaciousness as yet another excuse to dehumanize us all.”

              Are you aware of how profoundly stupid that sounds? As if a Bigot doesn’t use any excuse and if needed will make one up. We need to worry about the feelings of despicable Bigots?

              “Then they’ll feel even more justified to behave like imbeciles.”

              Because behaving like an imbecile is ok as long as you can scrape up justification for it?

          • Elemenope

            Wow, that sounds like a less severe, less common form of the sort of bigotry that Catholics and Jews in the country still face in many communities. I can’t say I’m overwhelmed by the incomparable suffering of my people.

            I have been an open and outspoken Atheist in America for over twenty years, and can name the number of unpleasant incidents due to that on one hand, and outright “bigotry” once. Which is about the same sort of proportions as most people with a minority religious perspective experience in the US, if not less than the average. I am certainly not sheltered by any reasonable meaning of the term.

            Of course there are ignorant people out there, of course there are violent and abusive people out there, and dare I say sometimes those groups overlap, and the results are terrible. But if we are to play a numbers game or a proportion game out of the differential of suffering or oppression among groups, Atheists come out towards the bottom of the pack in all but one area (people still, generally speaking, won’t vote for an open Atheist for president). But like all other groups, that question (itself an anomaly that does not correlate well with any other metric of oppression for any group of which it is asked) has shown a general lightening of attitudes as the group highlighted becomes higher profile.

            And as Michael R pointed out, even if this low-grade oppression, if one wants to call it that, were in some way notable or special, it would not justify bad behavior on behalf of Atheists. It just becomes another data point for the other side to justify their hypothesis that Atheists are no good and no good can come from talking with them.

            • Heidi

              Wow, well in my part of the country if you say you’re a discriminated-against Catholic, people are going to laugh at you. They’re most certainly not a minority here. I can count the number of incidents of anti-Catholic discrimination I’ve seen around here without using any hands.

              And as Michael R *also* pointed out:

              We don’t take anything away from any other group by acknowledging that fact, nor is it demeaning to them that we also are treated differently. It’s possible for more than one group of people to be discriminated against simultaneously. It’s not a competition.

              Anyway, my opinion that all methods are valid isn’t going to change, and your opinion that your method is superior isn’t going to change, so I think we need to agree to disagree.

            • JonJon

              What about a minority religious group?

            • Heidi

              What about it?

            • Elemenope

              I think JonJon’s point was that you used a majority-religious group in your area to respond to the point I made about how *minority* religious groups are treated. Which is roughly comparing apples to bricks. (BTW, if you’re in the US, where are you, Rhode Island? That’s the only majority-Catholic state in the union.)

              But even take Catholics. They suffer (even in Rhode Island!) employment discrimination quite a bit. No, you don’t here about it (so you can’t count it on your fingers) because it is a bit more subtle. It’s about if you have a Protestant candidate and a Catholic candidate for a job with basically equivalent qualifications, the job will go to the Protestant. Similar mechanism with promotions, pay raises, etc.. Just cause you can’t see the discrimination at work and it isn’t plastered all over the news, doesn’t mean it isn’t real and hurting people everyday.

              My only point is, having experience with being a lifelong Atheist and also living in a, um, Catholic-rich area, is that at best (worst?) the discrimination against the two groups is about equivalent, and at worst (best?) Catholics edge out the Atheists. And that’s in an area with a lot of Catholics; let’s not even get into the rest of the country.

            • Heidi

              Massachusetts. Your data are wrong.

            • Question-I-thority

              It’s good in this discussion each time it comes up to distinguish between an argument based on the sociological value of various group engagement styles (for instance, the value of Pharyngula) vs. a discussion of how I can personally improve my communicating skills on the nets. I don’t think this second issue is really determined at all by how much one is persecuted or not. If one has been slapped down by theism many times it might make for anger but that of itself doesn’t give a strategic reason to react with hostility.

    • Elemenope

      You’ll have a much greater positive impact by being dignified, intelligent and patient than you will being angry, sarcastic and condescending.

      I tend to think so too, though Ty raises an important point above, mainly that sometimes being an ass is what is required to get through to people. Everyone reacts in different ways, some may take a reasonable approach as a tacit endorsement of the validity of their position, and might react to indignity by digging into uncomfortable territory. Though, on the whole, that is an uncommon response; probably one not to bet on as the likely outcome of such tactics.

      I think where some people slip up is that they assume that the jerk-mode is the only thing that might get through and so consider that their default mode, instead of exhausting all avenues of reasonable, patient dialogue first. Being a jerk certainly feels better in the moment (it’s great to feel intellectually in control and superior) but probably is ultimately counter-productive when its the first thing (or nearly) out the gate.

      Of course, some people aren’t looking for reasonable dialogue in the first place. What to do with such people is a mere matter of personal preference (and possibly personal character).

  • Elemenope

    As of 2003, and at least since 1990, Rhode Island remained the only state that was majority Catholic. Considering growth statistics of the various religions (esp. that Catholicism on the whole has been shrinking in the developed world, relative to other denominations), it is extremely unlikely that Massachusetts will become a majority Catholic state.

    Massachusetts does have a large plurality of Catholics, but a plurality is not the same as a majority.

    And you have yet to address the underlying points.

    • Heidi

      My data are a little more recent than 2003.

      And I have no intention of responding to your other points. As I said before:

      Anyway, my opinion that all methods are valid isn’t going to change, and your opinion that your method is superior isn’t going to change, so I think we need to agree to disagree.

      So quit badgering, please. From where I’m standing, you’re using the exact methods on me that you’re telling everyone not to use.

      Being a jerk certainly feels better in the moment (it’s great to feel intellectually in control and superior) but probably is ultimately counter-productive when its the first thing (or nearly) out the gate.

      And for what it’s worth, you can’t make people like you but you certainly can make it easier to hate you.

      • Elemenope

        My data are a little more recent than 2003.

        Your data confirms what I said; Catholic plurality but not majority. (2009: Massachusetts: 46.1% Catholic)

        And I have no intention of responding to your other points.[...]So quit badgering, please.

        It was not my intent to badger, so I apologize. We shall have to agree to disagree on the other points, as you say.

        • Heidi

          So 46% is not the largest group in the state then?

          • Sunny Day
            • Elemenope

              Not playing at all. The distinction is generally relevant when it is made. Let’s say that 46% of the population was Catholic, and the sum of the remaining groups (54%) were together, though distinct, united in their anti-Catholicism. In this case, making the distinction (besides being, y’know, accurate) is absolutely material to the points being discussed (in this case, majority/minority relations).

            • Heidi

              No, it is not even remotely relevant outside of a theoretical situation that would never happen in a million years.

            • Heidi

              I figured as much.

            • Question-I-thority

              Sunny day and Heidi – Are you British? I was surprised as a US guy that the word majority can mean 46% when used in England.

            • Heidi

              No, I’m from New England, not the old one. ;-)

          • Elemenope

            The definitions of the words “plurality” and “majority” are quite distinct (and with good technical reason). “Majority” means a quantity that represents at least 50% + 1 unit of whatever totality you’re analyzing. “Plurality” means simply the largest single segment of the total. So if, say you had a set of four different groups that represented some total, and they were broken down as 40%, 30%, 20%, and 10% of the total respectively, the 40% group would be a “plurality”, but none of the four groups would have a “majority”.

            Thus, 46% can never be a “majority”.

            • Heidi

              Ok, I’m going to start over. You, are the one who brought “majority” into this. You are the one using majority vs. plurality as definition. Your argument is a straw man. Further, under your definition, there is no such thing as a majority. IMO, that makes your usage relatively meaningless in this situation.

              OTOH, I never called them a majority, as in more than 50% of the state. I said they can not be considered a minority group here. If you honestly think 46% is a minority group, then I guess we’re going to have to disagree on that, too.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_group

              A minority is a sociological group that does not constitute a politically dominant voting majority of the total population of a given society.

              If they don’t have dominant voting power, I’d like to know why cities are responsible for providing transportation, school nurses, etc. to Catholic schools, even though said schools charge tuition. We don’t do this for Protestant schools of any denomination.

              Also interesting at the same link:

              A 2006 study suggests that atheists constitute a religious minority in the United States, with researchers concluding: “Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.”[9]

            • Elemenope

              Whoa, hold on a second. Yes, I was the first one to bring up “minority” as in “religious group in the minority”. You objected on the grounds that Catholics (one of the two groups I mentioned) are not a minority where you are (Massachusetts). That happens to be inaccurate, and I said as much.

              FWIW, there is plenty of sociopolitical evidence that indicates that Catholics (as a religious group) are *not* the politically dominant group in Massachusetts. Little things like supportive abortion policies and legal gay marriage are a really big clue (seeing as both of those things are doctrinally unacceptable to the Catholic Church).
              ——
              Massachusetts is required by law to provide equal assistance for all parochial schools, regardless of denomination. Considering the number of Episcopalian schools alone, never mind other denominations, I find it extremely hard to believe that other denominations’ schools are not supported in the same way.
              ——
              Interesting, I was not aware of the “sharing vision” and “allowed to marry” questions. Thanks for the info.

            • Heidi

              Yes, I said they cannot be considered a minority group here. You are arguing semantics, which is pointless, IMO.

              FWIW, this is the most liberal state (by any measure I can think of at this time, notwithstanding that you are now going to Google up some obscure thing to prove me wrong, so you can argue more). Catholics here are largely Democrats, and vote accordingly. That has nothing to do with whether or not they have voting power, and it really has nothing to do with the actual subject, which is whether or not they experience discrimination. But hey, you know more about the state I’ve lived in for 30+ years than I do. You are so smart.

              Being a jerk certainly feels better in the moment (it’s great to feel intellectually in control and superior) but probably is ultimately counter-productive when its the first thing (or nearly) out the gate.

              Did I click the wrong school link? B/c I’m seeing that there are five Episcopalian schools in the entire state. Is that what you mean by “considering the number of…”? I’ve never lived in any of the five towns that have an Episcopalian school (OTOH, every city or town I have lived in has Catholic schools). Do the towns actually provide them with busing, etc.? I can tell you for sure that the SDA school in my city receives no busing, and no funding.

              I think where some people slip up is that they assume that the jerk-mode is the only thing that might get through and so consider that their default mode, instead of exhausting all avenues of reasonable, patient dialogue first.

              I think you may need to reconsider whether or not you are “some people.” You’ve been hostilely arguing minutiae with nearly every post I’ve made. If you’re not intending to come off as hostile, I think maybe you need to work on your technique.

            • Elemenope

              That has nothing to do with whether or not they have voting power, and it really has nothing to do with the actual subject, which is whether or not they experience discrimination.

              According to the definition of “minority group” you yourself provided, it matters. “Politically dominant voting majority” is right there in the definition, is it not? You can’t very well whip out a definition and then complain when your interlocutor addresses its elements.
              ———-

              I have been arguing what you call “minutiae” with you, certainly. (I don’t think they are minutiae, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.) But hostile? Merely disagreeing is not being hostile. I have been polite at every step, and even apologized when you accused me somewhat oddly of “badgering” you. That is certainly not my intent. Thus, I’ve only been talking about the factual claim (Catholics are not a majority in Massachusetts) since you said to drop the other (IMO more interesting) part. If you can point to any point at which I’ve come off as objectively hostile, please point to it.

              As I said on the other matters, you are correct that we should just agree to disagree. I also never claimed to “know more” about Massachusetts than you do (though it’s not like I’m far away; I grew up for the first twenty years of my life literally a stone throw’s away from Massachusetts in Northern Rhode Island). However, since I do know a thing or two about constitutional law, it would shock me if Massachusetts were acting contrary to the law. Under the law, in order to qualify for aid, schools must meet certain objective requirements; it is possible that the SDA school you refer to merely doesn’t meet them.

              FWIW, this is the most liberal state (by any measure I can think of at this time, notwithstanding that you are now going to Google up some obscure thing to prove me wrong, so you can argue more).

              Your expectations notwithstanding (though your hostility to contrary evidence being merely presented is rather…odd), I agree with your assessment about the liberalism of Massachusetts.

            • Heidi

              Mmkay, well you knew perfectly well what I meant, and you are just paying some kind of “I am technically right” semantics game. I find that pretty freaking obnoxious. But hey, it’s polite, right? You’re very polite. And yes, make no mistake, I am now feeling hostile toward you for your self-defined politeness.

              Please now get your “last word” (I sense that you are a “last word” kind of guy), and don’t expect me to continue responding to you.

  • Michael R

    You: “You should consider that we’ve been trying “your approach” for at least the last few hundred years. I’m sure if we give it another hundred years or so appeasement will finally start to work. If people kept trying your way Women would still be 2nd class citizens and we’d still have separate but equal facilities.”

    If you’d actually read my comments before exploding into a rage-induced rant, you may have noted that I advocate starting with civility and then becoming more contentious if the situation warrants it. I specifically stated “Nobody is advocating lying down like a mat to be walked on, but using condescension and ridicule should be a last resort, rather than a beginning.” If you stand in opposition to this statement, then I can only assume your intention is to act like a raging lunatic as a starting point. I question the wisdom of such an approach. The primary reason women and blacks saw more equal rights has little to do with leaders of those movements acting like spoiled, pugnacious twerps and a whole lot to do with providing intelligent, organized leadership in those movements. King’s “I have a dream” speech didn’t use sarcasm and condescension to convince people of his position.

    Me: “When you behave rudely, it will merely embolden the bigots, who will use your pugnaciousness as yet another excuse to dehumanize us all.”

    You: “Are you aware of how profoundly stupid that sounds? As if a Bigot doesn’t use any excuse and if needed will make one up. We need to worry about the feelings of despicable Bigots?”

    If your goal is to convince the Bigot of something, then you need to communicate with them in a way that will ensure your message is heard and absorbed. I don’t give a damn how a bigot FEELS, but if I’m going to engage them at all, being a prick isn’t going to be productive way to accomplish anything. I guess if you just want to make yourself feel better, then raging like a buffoon will probably accomplish that. Maybe you could call them stupid while you’re at it. You seem to have a knack for it.

    Me: “Then they’ll feel even more justified to behave like imbeciles.”

    You; “Because behaving like an imbecile is ok as long as you can scrape up justification for it?”

    Knock that straw man down, boy! Whoooo!

  • Sunny Day

    “If you’d actually read my comments before ”

    (Bored) yah yah, go ahead and chastise me for somehow not understanding the same point you repeated and propped up with Bigot Straw Men. Maybe if you keep implying that I’m stupid I will somehow forget that you are arguing from a bankrupt position and not notice that you moved right into insulting me bypassing that whole starting with civility you espoused. (so much for that) I assure you, I understand what you have said and I disagree with it.

    YOU have not invented the concept of reasoned discourse no matter how much you may want to think otherwise. Please show us how your strategy differs than whats been tried the last few hundred years. Or is it somehow my fault for not sticking with your program.

    “If your goal is to convince the Bigot of something, ….
    “Knock that straw man down, boy! Whoooo!”

    LOL! On what planet on which do you spend most of your time? Reasoning with a bigot, that works where you’re from? Look I’ll stop setting fire to your precious straw men if you stop building them.

    • Elemenope

      Reasoning with a bigot, that works where you’re from?

      It doesn’t work all the time, by any means, but I’ve had some occasional success. How is scorning and mocking them working out for reducing the bigotry in the world?

      • rodneyAnonymous

        I can dig both angles. There are some people so sure they’re right, arguing with them would certainly be a disaster, and I am related to and work with and generally inhabit the same planet as a lot of those people.

        On the other hand, I think it’s really important for visibility that freethinkers be vocal, even outspoken. There are more non-religious people than Jews, yet we have a tiny fraction of that political influence. Scorning and mocking has its place; it’s not the bigots on the other side of the fence whose attention needs getting, it’s the people on it.

        Most of the humans on the world believe in gods of some kind; I think religion has had the single biggest influence on mankind for the last few thousand years. Americans do, in fact, live in a Christian nation. That makes me want to grab a bullhorn and a sandwich board! Have you heard the Better News?

        • Elemenope

          There are some people so sure they’re right, arguing with them would certainly be a disaster, and I am related to and work with and generally inhabit the same planet as a lot of those people.

          LOL. I think I just got accused of being ‘that guy’ further up the thread. Yeah, some people are impervious to argument and reason, for certain, and getting along in the world with them often means not engaging on their positions unless they are actually actively harming someone.

          On the other hand, I think it’s really important for visibility that freethinkers be vocal, even outspoken.

          A thousand times, this. Being out and proud, so to speak, is crucial to the precess of the wider society getting used to the notion that Atheists are regular folk, not too dissimilar from them, and not the mortal threat they’ve been conditioned to believe us to be. But being out and proud is not the same as being out and obnoxious; it’s great to say “I’m an Atheist, nice to meet ya” but when they come back with “you mean like that jerk Christopher Hitchens?”, it provokes a bout of cringing.

          • Michael R

            I’m a big advocate of being vocal regarding my worldview, and I practice what I preach in this regard. My goal is to spread the news that there is an alternative to supernaturalism, and I feel I can best accomplish this by keeping the lines of communication open, when possible. If I find myself dealing with someone who has the mental capacity of a drug-addled monkey, I just write them off and move on. I can’t have a positive impact on everyone, and I’m certainly not going to be able to force my point of view on anyone, nor would I want to. However, if I can get one person to occasionally consider my point of view, then I feel I’ve done something worthwhile. I know it’s horribly cliche’, but the old adage “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar” is true in some cases. People will just disconnect from douche-bags, regardless of how valid said douche-bag’s point of view is.

  • Elemenope

    There are some people so sure they’re right, arguing with them would certainly be a disaster, and I am related to and work with and generally inhabit the same planet as a lot of those people.

    LOL. I think I just got accused of being ‘that guy’ further up the thread. Yeah, some people are impervious to argument and reason, for certain, and getting along in the world with them often means not engaging on their positions unless they are actually actively harming someone.

    On the other hand, I think it’s really important for visibility that freethinkers be vocal, even outspoken.

    A thousand times, this. Being out and proud, so to speak, is crucial to the precess of the wider society getting used to the notion that atheists are regular folk, not too dissimilar from them, and not the mortal threat they’ve been conditioned to believe us to be. But being out and proud is not the same as being out and obnoxious; it’s great to say “I’m an atheist, nice to meet ya” but when they come back with “you mean like that asshole Christopher Hitchens?”, it provokes a bout of cringing.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    Doesn’t matter to me if others remain deluded. Not my place to try and educate them. I don’t care. If they want to think and live and feel a certain way then go for it. Have fun. Every try telling a smoker that they are killing themselves? Pointless. I’ll live my way and you live yours. Great. As the old saying goes, when the sage points to the moon all the idiot sees is the finger. Enjoy your delusion – I don’t care and I won’t bother trying to change you. Just don’t try to change me.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com Sabio

    I like her emphasis. I have not problem with those who play the “bad cop” role either. But I think it is important to have this approach too.

  • Ryan

    What passage(s) is she referring to about the slaves?


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