"You Give Activism a Bad Name"

Some guy with a twitter account doesn’t at all like what I had to say about Tim Tebow.

First he asked for my email.  I told him it was on my site and warned him I don’t respond to all of the emails I receive, but that I do read all of them.  He responded…

Well, if you think ur too important to reply to an email, then I won’t waste my time butt I just wanted to say that you act exactly like the people you complain about. You spew forth nothing but hatred. YOU act pious!

Ok Dan.  You feel I owe you a response?  Here it is.

Too important?  No…but I get a lot of emails, and I am capable of determining who has greater importance.  If my time is limited such that it comes down to responding to someone who is considering getting treatment for anorexia or explaining to you why I dislike Tim Tebow, sorry Dan, you don’t get a response.  For you to take offense at somebody giving you a fair warning that they might not get back to you, as though you’re entitled to a response (or to even a nanosecond of my time), reveals that it’s not me who thinks he’s too damn important here, it’s you.  You just lost all rights to call anybody else pious.

People like you give atheist activism a bad name. You’re ABSOLUTELY no better than those that you hate so completely!

I’m just as bad as those I hate?  Am I out defending child rapists?  Is it me fighting equality for people based on some arbitrary standard like who they love?  Is it me denying women control of their own bodies?  I could swallow a dictionary and shit a more realistic gripe.

And I give activism a bad name?  Boy, if I had a nickel for every “let’s not criticize people” type who said this to me…

I’d feel just horrible about myself if I didn’t have a long history of effective activism at my back.  Ask Jessica Ahlquist what a horrible activist I am.  Ask all the Skepticon attendees how I’ve besmirched the noble enterprise of activism.  Ask all the groups who have flown me in to give talks on effective activism how poorly I grasp the subject.  Oh!  What about all the high school students I work with?  They could probably give you some insight.  Calling me an embarrassment to activism is like calling the biblical god an embarrassment to genocide.

You know what it means to be an activist?  Whether it’s civil rights, women’s suffrage, LGBT rights, atheism, or what have you, it means telling a lot of people they’re wrong, and it means doing it without remorse.  If you are afraid to express your displeasure with things, you’re going to make a pretty shitty activist.  If you’re going to worry about offending people, you’ll never say anything.

Hating him simply because he is an Xtian Is the same as hating me as an American just because my government is so tyrannous. It’s just hatred for hatreds sake.

The hell?  You sure I don’t hate him for his support of the anti-gay equality organization Focus on the Family (identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center)?  You sure it’s not because of his factually errant superbowl ad against abortion?  I have friends who are  Christian, so it’s clear that I don’t hate Christians for the sake of their Christianity.  But I do not pretend to like things that are a detriment to human happiness (even my Christian friends are aware of this), and opposition to equal rights and women’s rights falls into that category.

That’s why, in the post Dan is referring to, I wrote…

The other part of me wants to see Tebow lose for being such an insufferable faithhead and using his (undeserved) platform to advocate for all kinds of stupidity.

It’s right there in black and white.  As Samuel L. Jackson might say, mother-fucking English in mother-fucking print.  Hating someone for supporting things that harm humanity is not the same as hating you for being an American.  It’s hard for me to fathom someone making such a mind-numbingly stupid comparison, but there it is.

Dan continues to drop wisdom on me.

Hatred in all of it’s manifestations is wrong and counterproductive. You have hatred in your heart sir, and that is not good.

No instrument exists to measure the amount of decibels I’d like to pour into screaming bullshit on that.

I hate inequality.  I hate the people who who strive for it on behalf of every man or woman of color, every woman in general, and every LGBT person in this country to name a few.

I hate irrationality.  Reason is the way we make our environment more agreeable to human happiness and the way we conquer our own prejudices.  I hate any institution that tells humanity that irrationality is acceptable (or, in the case of religion, necessary on pain of torture).

You get the idea.  If humanity is to shed the forces that work in opposition to our well-being, we must hate some things with every fiber of our beings.  We hate them because we love humanity and seek to protect and empower it.  And if you think the hatred of things that are anathema to societal health (and the people who peddle them) means I don’t also live with a fair amount of compassion and happiness, you are just plain wrong.  In fact, I have a blast fighting back the targets of my hate.  I have even giggled ripping into Dan.

Despite what Tim Tebow believes, he has done nothing to you. Yet you have made assumptions about what he believes and have Disparaged him in a public forum. You really should reassess your own values as a human being.

Since when does someone have to have wronged me directly for me to be pissed at them?  The Catholic church hasn’t done shit to me, I still hate them on behalf of anybody who thinks child rapists should be brought to justice.  The Mormon church hasn’t done squat to me either – I still hate them for the millions of dollars they dumped into discrimination against innocent people.

And I haven’t made assumptions about what Tebow believes: he tells us at every opportunity.  Read the damn post.  Follow the damn link I provided.

And now Dan, the guy disparaging me in a public forum, crawls up my ass about disparaging people in a public forum and tells me to reassess my values.  Cute.  Let me tell you about some of my values.

1.  Honesty.  Tell the truth with few exceptions.

2.  Praise and criticize where deserved.

If someone of influence is saying or doing something for which there needs to be criticism, I’m gonna do it.  I like those values just fine.  You think I don’t get criticized in public forums?  You bet your ass I do.  What you’ll never hear me say is “What?  You can’t criticize people in an open forum!”  What you will hear me say is “Here’s why I think you’re wrong/why I think I’m right.”

you’re nothing but negative. Not just about religion, but in your approach to life.

Yeah, that’s meNegative nancy to the extreme about everything. (Those all link to posts I’ve made within the last ten days)

It occurred to me at this point that I’d given this unread upstart more time than he deserved, and so I came up with the shortest phrase I felt conveyed that message: “Piss off”.  He responded…


You annoy the hell out of someone using lame arguments to make empty assaults on their character until they decide they want nothing to do with you.  Not since Charlie Sheen has someone had a more inverted concept of “winning”.

Whether it’s me, Greta, PZ, Hemant, or any of the well-read bloggers, we all get people who angrily disagree with us.  It comes with the package.  Greta is nicer than me (read: she’s about the nicest human being alive).  When she gets self-entitled, displeased commenters she always turns it inward and examines herself and wonders what she’s doing to cause such a reaction.  She has frequently wondered how I don’t let it get to me.

Simple.  I realize that Bill Cosby was onto something when he said, “I don’t know the secret to happiness, but I know the secret to unhappiness and it’s trying to please everybody.”  And so I don’t write to please anybody but myself.  If you’re going to waste time giving care to people’s anger instead of only their arguments, you’re going to have a pretty miserable life as a public figure.  I don’t want to have a miserable life, and so I don’t really care how people feel about me: I care about whether or not they’re right. When Dan says I’m only negative, I realize that’s flagrant untrue, and so I determine he’s either an idiot or a person who doesn’t want to take the time to form accurate opinions, and so I stop giving him even an iota of my conscience.

There are plenty of people in this world whose opinions are like solid gold currency to me, who I know are willing to tell me when they think I’ve fucked up.  I don’t need the opinions of those for whom I have no respect.

That’s another value I think people would do well to pick up.

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