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More Lazy Anti-Atheist Bigotry

Believe it or Not

Thanks to vjack from Atheist Revolution for pointing out one more silly and lazy example of a column (linked above), this time by Alex McRae in the Newnan Times-Herald in Georgia, painting atheists as humor-free and "boring." He also repeats the canard about Hitler being an atheist (because, well, you know, all mass-murderers are atheists). But mostly, the column is content-free mockery:

Sadly, this bunch doesn’t appear that creative. Worse, they exhibit poor grammar skills.

For instance, one section of the brochure is titled "Who We Are." But it doesn’t tell "Who We Are." It actually describes "How We Live," described in such nuggets as:

"Atheism is living one’s life without the supernatural," and "We are responsible for humane interaction with other animals and for the preservation of our habitable planet."

Yawn.

Under the title "We Are Not" (which should be "What We Believe"), the brochure says, "An atheist is anyone who has no belief in any god, whether the god is called Jehovah, Satan, Vishnu, Allah, Loki, Zeus, or any other name. Therefore, atheists hold many varieties of social and political philosophies."

Or none.

The brochure says atheists don’t believe in:

1. The appearance of "ghosts" or other spirits of the dead.

2. Reincarnation of human "souls."

3. The denial of established historical events, such as the Nazi mass murder of Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, and atheists during World War II.

Guess number No. 3 must be a tough one to swallow since former non-believer Adolph Hitler actually created the problem with his "humane interaction" with the Jews.

By the way, AAI bills itself as religion-free. As opposed to sugar-free or fat-free, I guess. But the more you read about this group, it seems like what they’re most free of is a sense of humor. There’s not a light moment on the agenda.

You wonder why. Here’s an "enlightened" guess: Maybe atheists refuse to embrace laughter because they’re afraid that one day they’ll discover the joke’s on them.

My response:

This kind of disgusting slur, masquerading as an opinion piece, wouldn’t pass muster in an undergraduate journalism class.

It’s easy and cheap to slam any minority. What if it was a conference of pharmacists? "Look at the funny people in white coats. They must have really boring lives." What a slacker attitude for a writer!

In a country (and especially the southern part of that country) where the Christian religion has been so privileged, it’s likely the writer of this column has never hung out in a group of atheists. So he’s simply making fun of people he doesn’t understand. A sad attempt to make himself feel better at other people’s expense.

Creating "in-groups" and "out-groups" is a classic divide and conquer tactic. But it won’t work with atheists. Because we understand that everyone, even the religious, are primarily human beings. We’re just saying let’s focus on that shared reality, instead of on the differences in "beliefs" and attitudes stemming from the myriad imaginary worlds the various sects of believers have constructed.

And Alex, we know how to party just fine, thanks.


Comments (5 comments)

Dan / July 25th, 2008, 2:37 pm / #1

Hitler was Catholic.

vjack / July 26th, 2008, 6:28 am / #2

Great comment! Thanks for the link too. It is depressing how common this sort of bigotry is, but I do have hope that we can begin to oppose it more effectively by making sure everyone sees it for what it is.

BlackSun / July 27th, 2008, 1:54 pm / #3

Hey Vjack,

Thanks for pointing this out. Judging from the comment thread over there, it made a huge difference!

vjack / August 2nd, 2008, 5:44 am / #4

I really hope that we in the atheist movement can get better at reporting this sort of thing and then mobilizing our fellow atheists to take action. I realize this is going to be a challenge, but I really do think it can make a difference.

Liquid Egg Product / September 14th, 2008, 1:04 pm / #5

Wait a minute. Weren’t atheists supposed to be inhibited by any morals, leading to wonton, wild, unethical lifestyles? (Unless wonton, wild, unethical lifestyles are boring, in which case, yeah, it’s consistent.)

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