Lee Moore of A-News recently offered to sit down with the two warring sides of the atheist infighting in an attempt to mediate the dispute. He continues to push for this and that’s great. Now Dan Fincke of The Camels With Hammers adds his own attempt to end the infighting by issuing a “Civility Pledge.”
Fincke’s pledge is rather lengthy and I admit that I just skimmed it. First I want to applaud both Lee and Dan for their well-intentioned attempts to end the infighting. I do have a few minor issues with Dan’s pledge however.
The first is that I reject the idea of a “safe space” from criticism. As a skeptic, I don’t believe there should be any safe space from criticism. I don’t think religion should be above criticism nor do I think any other topic should be above criticism. So I cannot respect safe space. If someone says something stupid, then I will criticize it.
That brings me to the second criticism which may or may not even apply. The pledge talks about not calling people names like, “stupid” or “retarded” and I completely agree with that. I have written articles stressing that atheists shouldn’t call religious believers stupid and I have argued with atheists who are very close to me about this very topic. However, I don’t have a problem calling ideas and beliefs stupid and retarded.
This is where Dan’s pledge is a little unclear despite his wordiness. Using words to insult people is not okay with me, but using words to insult ideas and beliefs is perfectly fine. This also applies to other words too. Calling someone a fuck, a cunt, a bitch, a dickhead, a prick, etc. is not cool, but using those terms in other contexts may be permissible depending on those contexts. I don’t believe any words are necessarily off limits. Context really is everything.
While this wasn’t talked about in the pledge, I think it is important to the conversation. Some people want to restrict what has been called “rape jokes.” I don’t think that is okay. I think some humor revolves around serious topics and that jokes about rape are fine and funny in the right context. Jokes that make fun of rape victims are not cool and are generally not funny either. Daniel Tosh for example isn’t a very funny comedian, so it doesn’t surprise me that his rape joke wasn’t funny. But some people deal with pain and grief through humor and I don’t have a problem with that.
My third and final criticism of the civility pledge is that it is a pledge. I always found that pledges are pretty useless. Those who sign them usually do so because it doesn’t apply to them and when it does apply to them, they can’t really be held accountable anyway. Pledges just seem so Grover Norquist to me.
With that said, I am going to issue a pledge. It is an anti-drama pledge. It isn’t for the bloggers necessarily. People can blog about whatever they like. This pledge is for blog readers (which often times include bloggers). Basically, my pledge is this:
Don’t read blog posts dealing with the atheist infighting drama or posts which attempt to create new drama!
No fine print. Just stop reading this crap. If people stop reading about the infighting, bloggers will stop writing about it. Don’t contribute to this madness; just stop! You don’t have to sign anything or tell anyone. You can if you like, but I’m not going to hold you accountable for it. I just don’t have the time.
If you want to end the infighting, then don’t fuel that fire. It really is that simple. Bloggers should be free to write about whatever they want and be as civil or uncivil as they like, but if people stop reading it, they will either stop writing it or they will be the only ones reading it. Supply and demand — if there is no demand, the supply will disappear.
Why are you still reading this post? Go! Read some other post that deal with some other topic. Thanks you.
- Pope resigns: An atheist’s reflections (examiner.com)
- Coming Out As An Atheist At Work (skepticink.com)
- Atheists Shouldn’t Give Religious Apologists Credibility (skepticink.com)