Stereotypes: They Exist For A Reason
Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with the views posited by The Amazing Atheist, though I link to some of his videos. TAA often uses strong, provocative language that I, and many others, find to be offensive and detrimental to the conversation.
Thanks to the propaganda of well-intentioned religious leaders, quoting from their cherished scriptures, the secular community has some hefty stereotypes foisted upon it. ”The fool has said in his heart there is no God” Psalm 19:1, or Paul’s position in Romans 1 that those without God are storing up wrath for ourselves, know nothing, and that we supress the truth by our wickedness. This sentiment is echoed in surah 2:10, “In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie.” and 2:13, “they say,’Should we believe as the foolish have believed?’ Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know [it] not.”
It’s no wonder that some religious people believe the natural conclusion from those “inspired” words: that atheists are universally evil, ignorant, arrogant, and incapable of moral regulation; And quite a few atheists help perpetuate these stereotypes.
I’ve previously cited the Amazing Atheist’s videos, much to my own detriment; One commenter confused my entire article with the comments the video made. I’ve watched several of his videos, and he sometimes has a point, though it’s often wrapped in the language of anger and rant. This is his M.O., and has garnered him quite a large following on youtube. However, that following will now, I believe, begin shrinking.
He Dun Goofed
The Amazing Atheist’s views on feminism, and the inequality of men, have gone largely unnoticed by the atheist blogging and reddit community, until last Tuesday. After a failed attempt to have his opinion heard on “Shit Reddit Says”, he created a thread in the often-mysogynist-filled /r/MensRights titled I love how the whiny feminist morality brigade upvotes a user named “ICumWhenIKillMen.”, to draw attention to his thoughts about the inequality between male and female offense. Through the course of the post, he encounters user Lorrdernie, herself a rape victim, and proceeds to eliminate any credibility he may have had as a decent human being:
Through the course of the thread, he proceeds to continue berating users, ultimately deleting his account, but not before studious users screencaptured the fiasco (NSFW Language). He attempts to ‘trigger’ the raw painful emotions of the rape victim in various instances, and presents his cocksure opinions through vitriolic filth.
The Community Response: No.
This insanity causes a tremendous backlash that sent waves throughout the atheist community. PZ Meyers, a proponent of biology, feminism, and atheism, quickly churned out a poignant critique of TAA’s uninformed views. The Atheist Experience blog posted on the subject, noting that the uninformed “horribleness” is reminiscent of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Daniel at Camels with Hammers, as well as the reddit user veerserif began promoting unrestrained shaming:
Much of the rest of the community at Freethought Blogs (a freethinker blog group, with some of the most influential names in the movement) wrote articles as well: Sincerely, Natalie Reed, Lousy Canuck,Crommunist Manifesto, Blag Hag, X-Blog, as well as reddit’s /r/atheism, with a thread near the top of today’s section calling for de-subscribing. Basically, some of the most influential names and platforms in the community have criticized TAA for his vitriolic views and statements.
Self-Policing Evil Hethans
The atheist community, because it has no places of worship, has become a multifaceted Zeitgeist online, through blogs, youtube channels, and various forum communities. This means that instead of politely ignoring the WBC’s and Pat Robertsons of the atheist community, the community will respond in fighting, churning turmoil. And I love it; I love the fact that Watsongate occured (briefly, a feminist was propositioned, was marginalized by Dawkins, who was then reprimanded for his stance. That’s right: atheists told Dawkins to suck it.). I’m honored that my little blog has a few views to its name, so that what I say helps create this dialogue, helps to straighten our own moral compass; we answer to no higher power, so we must answer to one another.
I find it a beautiful aspect of this thriving, that soundly defeats the mythologies posited by today’s religions about us. I see no foolishness, but instead see a beautiful collective of morality that calls itself out when boundaries are overstepped, with swift and sharp-toothed reprimand.
So I rest happy in the knowledge that in a place where an incredible diversity of views are accepted, those on the fringe with ignorant ideas will be dismissed as quickly and firmly as religious zealots of equal ignorance.