Just Because You’re An Atheist…
There’s often an assumption made by people who are atheist that generally those who are like minded in their views on God and religion will be like minded in other areas around human rights, gender equality, marriage equality, animal rights, and any other viewpoint that may have to do with “right” versus “wrong”. This is not a value judgement, this is more about perception; atheists tend to champion causes aside from the simple statement that “there is no god”. And there is a simple reason for this, that those who see the attitudes and values forced upon others by religious doctrine and dogma will tend to see inequality elsewhere when it arises. It is great to see so many passionate people acting as stalwarts for the rights of others and for the planet makes me feel I am not alone in my quest to make the world a better place. And while I label myself “atheist”, this speaks more of my tendency to examine situations and come to a conclusion based on evidence and observation, with the “God question” being but one of many questions that are raised.
However this does not mean that all “atheists” are like this, and it does not mean that atheists are all reasonable and rational people. This past week has proven this, with two examples of extremely sexist behaviour, one on Facebook by the famous atheist magician Penn Jillette, and the other coming from a “popular” atheist YouTuber named The Amazing Atheist, both who displayed utterly stupendous examples of not only sexism, but damaging misogyny on their respective pages or platforms du jour. I’m not going to post their comments here, but I’ll link to them do you can see for yourself at your own discretion what they were saying.
One may argue that the levels of sexist stupidity displayed by these two are on different playing fields, the first calling someone a “cunt” for a disagreement in a viewpoint, the other only just falling short of a violent and sexually brutal death threat, both use sexually violent language, the kind that misogynists seem to use far too freely. This comes to me as no surprise from these two, both have a reputation for being brash to say the least, and the former, the Amazing Atheist, is known to have done this kind of thing before.
Know however that this is not a storm in a teacup. Places like Reddit are rife with misogynistic group-think, like the example of the 15 year old girl who was given a copy of Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World” by her mother, and was then subjected to a whole thread of men making innuendo about how they’d “do her”. Rape jokes ensued, hilarity did not follow.
Or the case of the British blokes magazine Unilad who published a story about “dating” which stated:
The comments which followed the article were more disgusting than the article, and all the usual crass rape jokes came to the fore, but the real furore came when the article was pulled from the publication. It is fair to note that the last link is not from an “atheist” group, but a bunch of blokey “lads havin a laff”, but it goes to illustrate what we’re up against here.
At this point I think it’s important to note that men do not think this way, not all of us anyway. There is an element in society, an uneducated, undisciplined, underdeveloped (and unaware?) segment that thinks that jokes about rape are funny, that language which demeans women (or anyone else for that matter) are completely acceptable, and some of these people have a platform from which they spin their idiocy; it’s called the Internet.
Any fool can have a voice, and any prick can voice their opinions. Any halfwit with a computer can glean a following of like minded halfwits, and there is no censorship of ideas (yet) an no fact checking. Anyone impassioned enough about an idea, right or wrong, can voice their opinions online. This is a good thing, but when it comes of freedom of expression, the person being “free” has a social responsibility to the wider community, and they should be held accountable for their actions.
Which brings me back to my point. Just because someone is an atheist, and speaks up against the fallacies and injustices caused by religion, it does not follow that they stand for anything else worth standing up for. There is no accounting for personal idiocy. The Internet assures that. “Atheism” does not assure fairness or even reasonable thinking, it is only the answer to a single question, “Is there a god?”. Everything else is up for grabs.
When people identify themselves as “atheist”, or for that matter any other standpoint on anything, there is no assurance that these people are reasonable, just as those who stand for unreasonable ideas cannot be said to be all unreasonable. This happens in all walks of life, there are the shining lights, there are the line-walkers, and there are the the low-lifes who should really think more before posting their idiocy.
When it comes to misogyny and “rape-talk”, my heart sinks and I just hope people see the error of their ways. There is no excuse in this age for such talk, and these words are damaging to all of society. It is NOT OKAY, and a joke is not “just a joke”; it’s a statement which says “it’s okay to be a misogynist if it’s in done in jest.” Penn Jillette’s use of the word “cunt” is not okay, because it reinforces stereotypes about women and the objectification of the female anatomy as something to be despised.
This does nothing for those of us who are actively trying to make the world a better place. Just because you are an “atheist” it does not follow that you’re a rational and reasonable person. There are assholes in every community, and while I can see why people who call themselves atheist would like to bring these dark moments of on the internet to some sort of justice. For me, however, it’s not about atheism at all, it’s about being a real human being who cares for others around me, not a hateful and snivelling group-think sexist pig. Grow the fuck up.