Lots of people keep pushing for a moderate position in the midst of the asinine atheism wars, they want to herd people into a neutral middle ground where nobody makes fun of anyone else. Like it or not, we are in a war and you don’t fight wars by pretending they don’t exist, you fight wars to win them. It’s especially difficult when you consider that the majority of atheists aren’t even on one of the warring sides, we’re totally separate.
In reality, I don’t understand why there are so many people who are willing to excuse irrationality and ridiculous positions just because they come from atheists. We wouldn’t excuse it in theists, why are we excusing it in atheists? There’s a war going on because you have two relatively small sides that are utter idiots and the rest of us are just staring at it, like a traffic accident, shaking our heads. This article has some ideas that really don’t solve the problem and that, in and of itself, is a problem. It says that we ought to reject personal insults and defamation of character. I agree with that. However, it’s not an insult to call a spade a spade. It’s not defamation of character to tell the truth. In fact, the article acknowledges that it’s a fight that cannot be won and it voluntarily throws in the towel, which I think is a massive problem. Certainly, we’re never going to convince anyone on either side that they’re wrong, just like we’re extremely unlikely to convince most theists that their beliefs are stupid, but we can, and we must, act to stop the damage that both warring faction is doing to the atheist “community”. We should never just make room for stupidity within our ranks, any more than we should just let Christians run over us roughshod because it’s easier than fighting back. It’s a war that far too few people are willing to fight. How can we cooperate with people that we vehemently disagree with on major topics? Why should we? This is the same question I ask regarding accomodationism, which is essentially what this is. The idea that since we can’t reason with these people, we should just let them have their way is like debating with Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber.
The only thing I agree with so far is the idea that conferences ought to decide for themselves if all the drama is worth it, and if they decide it isn’t, to simply stop inviting people on both sides of the fight. Don’t invite any Atheism+ speakers and likewise, don’t invite anyone from the Slymepit. Tell both sides to fuck off. If Atheism+ wants to have their own version of TAM, go for it, it’s just one more place I wouldn’t be caught dead. The very idea that they ought to be able to take over an existing conference or that they ought to be able to make demands of conference organizers as to who they can invite and who they cannot, is absurd.
Then it gets on to saying that every person ought to be heard. I can go for that. That doesn’t mean that every person’s ideas are valid or worth implementing though. However, that doesn’t mean that every person deserves a place at the podium at an atheist conference. That’s something that needs to be earned. Speakers are invited because they draw crowds. They are invited because they bring in money for the organizers. They are not and should not be invited because they want to say something absurd. Of course, this requires that the attendees of these conferences are rational to begin with and we all know that’s far too often not true. I think we need an altogether better breed of atheists, it seems like the bar has been set far too low of late.
And finally, they say they want to see atheism having genuine diversity. I’m really not sure what that means, to be honest. What is diversity within a single-view community? Do we let in people who believe in gods? Do we let in people who are anti-vaccers? Do we let in people who believe in Bigfoot? Isn’t that the means to diversity, to take all comers? How far is too far to go when you’re talking about atheism? Keep in mind that these are atheist-specific conferences, by and large they are not humanist conventions, they exist to cater to an atheist audience. Oh sure, there are skeptical conferences like TAM, and the rules might be different there, but if you’re talking about the “atheist community” shouldn’t it only be for atheists to talk about atheism and a rational response to religion? What the hell is feminism doing being talked about in the first place?
The last thing we ought to do is just stick our heads in the sand and pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or that if we ignore it, it’ll go away. It won’t, history has shown this clearly. We, as rational, intellectual, critical atheists need to stand up and say in a clear voice that this is not acceptable and that anyone who can’t be rational, intellectual and critical, needs to go find themselves another movement to be a part of. It’s the only thing that will make the atheist “community” actually worth being a part of.