Monday, April 24, 2006

Down with our atheist oppressors!

I know I’m not the only one taking a turn at Melinda Barton’s unintentionally hilarious rant against “atheist whackjobs,” but really, now, how can you not want to, especially when you consider all that is at stake as we atheists attempt to protect the massive power structure we have built in this country? Being part of the political and social Goliath that is American Atheism, it is my duty, really, to stomp down any puny religious David that comes along, slinging rocks of tolerance at our massive structure of secular intolerance and oppression.

The response at Raw Story has apparently been so strong, that the column now includes an editor’s warning at the beginning, begging people to judge the work on its merits, which I, for one, was only too happy to do. The editor also stresses the point that the author is not ripping on all atheists, only the, you know, “atheist whackjobs,” a group that I must now conclude includes me. (The editor later revised his comments on the site.)

Yeah, cheers. It’s not the first time I’ve enjoyed the whackjob moniker.

Below is an excerpt from her column. And then, in between her sentences, I say mean things. Hey, it’s what you come to me for, right?
Outrageous claim number 3: All religion is oppressive.
Notice the wording of the above sentence. Atheist whackjobs believe that all religion is oppressive. How does she know this? Because she has a quote, below. But, read the wording of the quote:

According to The International Manifesto for Atheistic Humanism, for instance, "Religion is oppressive. The act of subjugating human will to "divine will" is oppressive. The practice of obeying clergy, of letting them make our decisions for us, is oppressive and irresponsible."
Ah, so what she means, apparently, is that all religion is oppressive because the structure, the nature, the idea behind religion is inherently oppressive. Okay, I don’t really disagree with that.
This one flies in the face of the evidence. Yes, it's very easy to show many instances of oppression stemming from religion.

Yes, it is easy. Very very very very very very very easy.

However, it is also easy to show many instances in which political and social progress were spearheaded by religious individuals based on the teachings of their particular faiths.

Whoa. She goes off course here. I expected her to argue that those components that comprise an organized religion do not necessarily require that it oppress its believers. Instead, she argues that religious people do good things, sometimes. And those good things are based on their religious beliefs. That’s quite a different point, isn’t it?

No atheist, not even a whackjob like me, would argue that all religious people are evil all the time. Come on. Even Torquemada was nice sometimes, in fact, I hear he was quite fond of his cat.

She goes on:

Study the abolitionist movement or the civil rights movement and you will be hard pressed not to encounter the role of religion in these struggles for liberation.
Yes, no doubt Christians have, at times, looked to Christ as an example of how to behave. If I’m not mistaken, this is one of the main points of Christianity, and considering that, it is a wonder they don’t attempt it more often. Christ, although probably fictitious (oops, just said the word “probably” – how very unwhackjobish of me!) is nevertheless a pretty good role model. Of course, those on the opposite sides of the abolitionist and civil rights movements rationalized their beliefs in the inferiority of African-Americans by quoting the Bible and citing their own Christian teachings as well. But never mind that.

To go beyond Christianity, there is now a movement in Africa that teaches Muslim women how to read the Koran so that they can refute the false claim that that religion demands or even permits female genital mutilation.

Oh dear. Melinda, baby, are you sure you want to include THIS example of how religious people can do good things?


Because, I’m not sure you’ve thought this one through all the way.

Because female genital mutilation pretty much wouldn’t exist with the Koranamaniacs, see?


Let’s move on.
Religion, like any system of belief, is subject to the often contradictory nature of humanity and the tides of history. It is one thing at this moment and in this place and something completely different in another time and place. Oppression or liberation (with a few exceptions) are in the application, not necessarily inherent in the system of belief itself.

Ah, she returns to what should have been her point. But here’s the only sentence she offers as her entire refutation of that Atheist manifesto thing:
For instance, communism may look fine on paper, but in the hands of the Russians post-revolution, it was used to support one of the most oppressive regimes in modern history.
Communism looks fine on paper? Communism looks fine on paper?

Christ, I give up.

(Pharyngula link via Eschaton)


Simon said...

haha. nice one. I don't know. maybe we should give up. "They" do speak an awful lot of tripe and seem to think they are being very smart.

I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Uhhm, I think you missed the point on this one. Your snarky comments look all cool and hip-snarky here on the blog, but reading the actual post gives me a 180% different take on what the article was about . . . rendering snarky-hipster comments less than hip . . . try again m'dear.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dear Anonymous, baby.

I think you misunderstand what I do here. I had neither the time nor the inclination to pick apart her entire article, but instead tried to show how maddening it was for me, a logical-type person, to follow her craziness.

I understand that you're probably upset about some of the things that I said, but instead of trying to take the post in the (of course snarky hipster snarky cool snarky) spirit in which it was written, or at the very least address any particular point, you've merely swooped in and pronounced that I've misunderstood the article I'm sniping at.

Well, that's a pretty easy snipe to make your own damn self, ain't it?

And in my experience, when people make comments like that, it is usually because they feel wounded by something I've said, that they feel like I'm insulting them, but they don't wish to open themselves up to ridicule by actually stating their own beliefs, they merely wish to pronounce mine "wrong." Or "snarky." Or "hipster," for chrissakes.

Don't hold back baby, m'dear, sweetie darling. I can take it.

Anonymous said...

Actually, snarky bells, I'm a fan, see -- and not a god-smacked theist neither -- I zoomed over all set to pile-snarkily on on the original post, only to realize the post I saw had nothing to do with the post you described . . . disappointed, not wounded.


vikkitikkitavi said...

Dear Anonymous,

Oh, you're a fan.

That explains the tone of moral superiority, and the impulse to deliver your initial comments to me in the form of a scolding.

Look, first of all, I didn't "describe" the post, I excerpted it. I quoted the entire "#3" section of the article without omission. So if you find the words I quoted not representative of the article - that's not my fault. Dip-shit over there at Raw Story wrote 'em, not me.

And I gotta say again, for a fan you seem to have very little idea of what is going on up in here.

I've encountered this mindset before, that if I'm not going to take a serious literary approach to criticizing something, then I've not done anything worthwhile, that I've "missed the point." Well, fuck that. I got my own point, and you can think whatever you want about it, hell I can't believe the shit I talk about half the time, but please don't make your criticism of me about your disappointment that I'm not something else, okay?