I’ve been busy helping my dad bring his music career into the 21st century, so I’m going to offer this old post I wrote. It was originally a Diaspora* post made after yet another complaint about atheists who speak out. Recent events have brought an old issue back up, and I posted an old Diaspora* post in anticipation of writing about them. That older post references and links to the previous version of this post, but unfortunately, you cannot view it unless you’re on the Diaspora* network. So, for completeness, I am reposting it here.
When people started fighting the evils of racism, there were inevitably those who claimed they were above both sides of the debate. They condemned those who were racist. But then they also condemned those who spoke out against the racists, calling them “uppity”, and accusing them of merely wanting to reverse the racism rather than ending it.
When people started fighting the evils of oppression against women, there were inevitably those who claimed they were above both sides of the debate. They condemned those who denied women basic rights. But then they also condemned those who spoke out against the misogynists, calling them “radical”, and accusing them of hating men just as much as the misogynists hated the women.
When people started fighting the evils of homophobia, there were inevitably those who claimed they were above both sides of the debate. They condemned those who hated gay people. But then they also condemned those who spoke out against the homophobes, calling them “perverse”, and accusing them of flamboyantly flaunting their lifestyle choices just to rub it in the faces of their opponents.
And now, as people fight the evils of religion, there are inevitably those who claim they are above both sides of the debate. They condemn the fundamentalists and religious fanatics. But then they also condemn those who speak out against them, calling them “militant”, and accusing them of being as fanatical about their own beliefs as the other guys are.
When two groups disagree that doesn’t mean that both groups are wrong. When one group has a metaphysical belief, that doesn’t mean that belief is merely an academic belief that has no real impact on the world; people’s beliefs inform their decisions and actions and have a massive effect on the world around them. People’s beliefs do matter, and it is frankly terribly ignorant and condescending to say they don’t.
If you can’t be arsed to understand what the dispute between atheist groups and religion is, that’s fine. No one is forcing you to fight in that battle. But if you can’t be arsed to understand what two groups are in dispute about, isn’t it a bit dickish to cast judgement on both of them? You probably think you do understand them, even though you have never bothered to actually ask both sides what they are about (and if you think atheists are merely about trying to convince theists that there is no god… frankly you have no idea what atheists are, or why they’re speaking out now). Isn’t that a bit dickish?
It seems to me that there are only two options. Either take the time to properly understand what both sides of the debate are about before casting your imperial judgement on them. Or shut the fuck up. Because some fights need to happen – like the civil rights fight, the women’s rights fight, and the fight for gay rights – and if your only contribution is to try and shut the fight down because you’re annoyed by it, without even bothering to truly understand what the fight is about, you’re not helping.