This is somewhat of an apology and a clarification of my positions on the blog, just to keep things clear. In any text-based communications medium, a lot of things that help keep the discussions clear are typically lost, you can’t gauge vocal inflection or facial expressions which would help determine how a particular word or phrase ought to be taken. It’s an issue that is inherent in the medium.
Over the weekend, I was on the Chill Girls in Pink Corvettes podcast and we were discussing conservativism and liberalism in the atheist movement. As a prelude to that show, although I had it in my queue forever, was a post called A Return to Conservatism, where I detailed exactly what being a conservative meant to me. The liberal-leaning hosts on the podcast read it beforehand and, to their surprise, they found out that they really were misunderstanding what conservatism was. In discussions thereafter, we’ve found that they share a lot of conservative views as well. As I pointed out on the podcast though, “liberal” and “conservative” are just labels, they’re a kind of verbal shorthand that keeps you from having to detail your actual views every time you talk with someone. That’s all well and good so long as both parties understand the shorthand, but I’d say it’s rare for people to actually match with the label they choose to wear 100% and therefore, when they introduce themselves with the label, there are going to be assumptions made on their position which may not bear up in reality. Let’s be honest here, one person who wears the label “liberal” is going to think that all liberals are just like he is, just as someone who wears the label “conservative” is going to assume that all conservatives are the same. The same goes for moderates, centrists, libertarians, etc. It is the very use of this very convenient shorthand that causes a lot of problems.
Therefore I want to be very clear about what I’m doing when I’m using labels. I say this because I get a lot of people who complain “I’m a liberal and that’s not what I think!” I apologize if you think that I’ve somehow maligned or insulted you, that certainly wasn’t my intention. In fact, people need to get in the habit of looking at what is said, not the labels listed, to see if the statement actually applies to themselves. It’s something that I’ve gotten used to doing, simply because so many people who mean neo-conservatives will use the shorthand conservative to refer to things that actual conservatives would never think. If I got upset every time someone said one when they meant the other, I’d be in a constant cycle of being pissed off. Therefore, I invite all people, regardless of the label they choose to wear, to stop thinking of themselves as the label and to start thinking of themselves as individuals.
After all, I’m sure that many atheists have more in common than we think if we dare to think outside of the self-imposed boxes we try to stuff ourselves into.