Be Quieters v atheists

It reminds me of the old Bugs Bunny line – “Of course you know, this means war.”

This means war. The grotesque punishment meted out to Harry Taylor might as well be an official government announcement that atheists have no rights.

It is a common accusation that the “new” atheists are bullies who gang up on poor innocent bystanders like Mooney and De Dora and other Be Quieters.

Well – not so fast. Let’s pause and consider. Who exactly is bullying whom?

Which is the majoritarian view? Which is the conventional wisdom? Atheism? Hardly. No, the majoritarian conventional wisdom is, at the very least, that religion deserves an almost infinite amount of “respect” and that any atheist who falls short of that heightened “respect” is automatically a “New” aggressive militant brash extreme atheist and subject to being called just that by people with prominent soapboxes like…Mooney and De Dora.

The dissenting view is a minority one, and it is somewhat odd to accuse people with minority views of bullying people with majority views. Only somewhat odd; it is of course literally possible that, say, an atheist could physically bully a theist or a Be Quieter. But to see the disagreements between Be Quieters and atheists as the latter bullying the former seems warped to me. To me it looks much more as if various prominent Be Quieters with lots of media access started shouting at atheists and calling them names, and then atheists fought back. I don’t consider fighting back “bullying.”

This always happens when people start to feel their oats and speak up, you know. It happened with the civil rights movement, it happened with the women’s movement, it happened with the gay rights movement. There are always anxious people hopping up and down on the edges saying, “Oh dear oh dear I agree with you, I support you, I’m on your side, but for god’s sake slow down, and ssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, don’t say it so loudly, be careful, watch out, keep your head down, you mustn’t be so extreme. I fully support you but be patient! Extremeness never got anyone anywhere. Be patient, be respectful, be well-dressed and punctual and neatly brushed, and in a few decades, or it may be generations, things will start to get better, I promise you.”

Fuck that. (I should work up a “fuck that” dance to go with Stewart’s “go fuck yourself” dance.) Things are starting to get better, Harry Taylor notwithstanding, but that’s because we have been making noise rather than being quiet. Annie Laurie Gaylor says as much.

“It used to be a lot worse,” said Ms. Gaylor, 54, an atheist whose organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, recently won a suit in federal court here that declared the National Day of Prayer to be a violation of the First Amendment. “Things are changing. Society is becoming more secularized. It’s becoming acceptable to be atheist and agnostic. And there are more of us.”

And there are more of us. Not fewer – not quieter – not more apologetic – but more, and more vocal, and more forthright. And that’s how change is made.

40 Responses to “Be Quieters v atheists”