I’ve been lurking around the Atheism+ forums trying to get a feel for the direction it’s taking. As a movement it doesn’t much interest me personally, but I find the psychology of it interesting.
I’ve never been much of an activist myself, mostly I stick to doing what I can for issues I feel are important, when I have the time. Still I think activism has its place, and if it’s a good cause, I’ll often support those who take a more active role.
Occupy Wallstreet is one of those movements that I both supported and found fascinating. But, alas, it is not what it was…
“We weren’t talking about real things at that point,” says Pete Dutro, a tattoo artist who used to manage Occupy’s finances but became disillusioned by the infighting and walked away months ago. “We were talking about each other.”
Starting to sound familiar?
“We were there to occupy Wall Street,” Dutro says. “Not to talk about every social ill that we have.”
In the Atheism+ subreddit, on Reddit.com, it’s made clear in a sidebar what is and is not acceptable:
On Derailing and ‘What About The Men?’ This is primarily a space for marginalized voices. As such, this is not the place for ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ???’
Essentially, the idea is that when talking about issues that affect women, trying to shift the conversation to similar issues that affect men ‘…is not tolerated’.
I don’t actually have a problem with this, keeping discussions on point, even when people have the best of intentions, can be difficult, and when other people start bringing in their personal agendas, it can lead to unproductive tangents… not to mention flame wars, name-calling and turf wars. CA has seen it’s share to be sure.
The part I find amusing, this is exactly the sort of thing that many of the so-called ‘dictionary atheists’ have been accusing the ‘social justice’ types of doing with atheism/skepticism/secularism.
‘Dictionary atheist’ is a mostly pejorative term, used by the social justice people for atheists who want to stick to godlessness without the social justice tangents. Atheism means a lack of belief in a creator god, so the whole religion angle seems like the right focus. There is still lots to do even within this narrow scope.
I should note, this is nothing new. Over the years there have been more than a few dustups between atheists and skeptics, as well. Atheists of course often take the stance that you if you’re not an atheist, you’re not being truly skeptical, whereas skeptics feel that atheism derails skepticism, by taking time away from bigfoot to deal with god. There are many theist skeptics, after all.
The science people have a similar problem with atheism, accusing people like Richard Dawkins of conflating science and atheism and in doing so, making the ‘science education’ project more difficult.
I happen to agree with that. I also think atheists sometimes derail the cause of secularism by confusing separation of church and state with state atheism. We’re not alone here of course. When the Pope talks about pernicious secularism, its mostly just code for ‘atheism’.
Seems like one crazy train after another.
I remember when I first started in the community, I soon discovered a rule of thumb, that has served me quite well at CFI as well as within other groups:
There are lots of people who are going to tell you what you should be doing, but unless they are volunteering to do it, which mostly they aren’t, then you should be doing what YOU think is important and ignoring the people who ‘know better’. And if others want to join in and help, that’s great.
And if they want to focus on some other issue…. you wish them well.
Good luck Atheism+, I’m way too self-involved not to talk about the my own manz issuez, so I’ll stick to more welcoming environments. I don’t feel comfortable in spaces with a lot of echoes, but if that’s what works for you, fair enough.