One of the main principles of skepticism is the necessity of evaluating available evidence prior to drawing a conclusion. This principle seems to have been consistently overlooked in the continuing debate on sexism, harassment, and allegations of sexual assault in the A/S community. I find this to be very unfortunate because this lack of skeptical evaluation has not only driven a wedge between two large segments of our community, but in that it has deprived many of us of the knowledge and experience of atheist feminists who could educate us on feminist principles and thus enrich the entire group. I am dismayed at the fact that in order to get to the bottom of what the feminists claim, I have to slog through thousands of pages of abusive, divisive, insulting drivel. As I stated in my last post, I don’t think this rift can be healed, but the idealist in me holds out hope. I’ve seen glimmers of this hope coming from both sides of the fence. Some of the people who have commented on some of my blogs (which are pretty much 70% against the LibFem agenda) have shown a willingness to use skeptical principles and have championed skeptical ideals. I mentioned in a recent blog post that I went on an FTB blog and asked questions and was fairly brutally eviscerated for my efforts (partially due to my own clumsy words that were misinterpreted as misogynistic vitriol). But even there I found some people who were (eventually) willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and actually gave me some answers. I want to be clear that I wasn’t attacked by the blogger herself, although she did remain quiet while the gleeful bloodletting was going on, and her answers to me were less than cordial. But it was in the replies of several of her followers that I found the real hatred. Still, there were signs that some of the people reading may have felt that I deserved at least a modicum of respect and actually took some time to share with me some answers and information.
This tells me that there aren’t just two sides in this war, there are at least three, and, as I argue, there are more likely four.
1. Pro LibFem, die if you don’t agree.
2. Anti-LibFem, die if you don’t agree.
3. Pro LibFem here are my reasons.
4. Anti LibFem, here are my reasons.
It seems to me that most of the first two groups are comprised of very vocal and very passionate people who make up the bulk of the postings on the matter. I happen to feel that it is quite likely that the bulk of the community, however, falls into either groups 3 or 4 and remain fairly silent, for the most part. I have no evidence for this, of course, since there isn’t any polling data or any actual records to suggest this. But this is my opinion based on how I’ve observed the world working for my entire life. There are always the extremes on either side of a controversial issue that get all the press, make all the noise, and manufacture righteous indignation like a dairy produces manure. But most of the people are like me, somewhere in the middle of the road; maybe a little closer to one of the two extremes, but in the middle nonetheless. These are my people; the people who live their lives in the blessed and holy gray areas. We are people who are sincere and have the integrity of our convictions, and we are able to change our views if and when evidence comes along to show us our views are incorrect. It is time that we Gray-People took our movement back and sent a message to the extremes on either side that we won’t stand for their hateful, dogmatic, and hurtful words or actions any more. Gray people please, we have to make a stand against these forces that have allowed their emotions and ideologies get in the way of true skepticism. We have to make a statement.
I have no illusions that my brand-new, teensy tiny blog could rival the information power of the larger and more established organizations that have been engaging in this war. However, I am very encouraged at the growth of this blog and I hope that it can grow to become something of lasting substance; a place where the Gray People can come to agree to disagree. So I want to issue this request to all who visit this blog. Please, please, please, help us to send a statement to the giant powerhouses that we simply won’t stand for their childish nonsense any longer. Engage here; help me to build this into a community where real discussions can be had, passionate debates can be undertaken, and information be shared for the benefit of all.
There is no god, we all agree on that point. Let us work together to find other points that we can agree upon as well. In that journey, we will repeatedly find ourselves at odds. This is not a bad thing, though. We have different beliefs and passions because we come from such varied and rich backgrounds. By living in the gray area, which is actually where any good skeptic resides, we have a greater chance of enriching each other with insights that only our personal life-experiences can provide. If we just act like adults and discuss and debate passionately, and fairly, and remember that all men and women are deserving of at least a modicum of respect, I think that we can accomplish something great. Let’s not forget that this entire debate started on a disagreement about social justice. That irony should be such a huge pill for all of us to swallow that we need the Heimlich to extricate it. Our views of social justice are ostensibly rooted in the desire for fair treatment and a good life for all of humanity. Let’s start at home.
I will be posting this as a blog post on September 5, 2013 under the heading “Gray People of the Atheist Community Unite! Because this is the closest thing to a mission statement I can come up with, I will also post this as a static page on my site under the heading: “IMPORTANT! READ THIS NOW!” I will send this to anyone and everyone in our multifaceted community that has had the misfortune of sharing their email address with me. I will be sending the link to various “leaders” in our community on Twitter. Your comments—even those that disagree—will act as a sign of unity to show the world and our black/white atheist co-conspirators—that the time has come for a change.
I have a few simple requests to ask of anyone who is reading this. If anything in this post rings true with you, even in part, and you feel that things have spiraled out of control on this divisive issue, please support this initiative and help by posting a reply on the blog post (if you’re reading this on the static page, you’ll have to find the actual blog post in the archives). It would be helpful if you would identify your place in the spectrum as a 1, 2, 3, or 4, as detailed above, and give a (brief) statement of your feelings on the subject (of this post, not the feminism issue). If you have a lot to say about it, even if you disagree with me wholeheartedly, please consider my open invitation to submit a guest blog post to express that opinion. I will post anything that is reasonably well-written, and that I feel makes a valuable contribution to the discussion regardless of whether I agree, and regardless of whether it is harshly critical of my “mission”. Please take me up on that. And finally, for those of you who are true Gray People and are tired of the constant bickering, if this idea of mine rings true to you, share the link with anyone you can. I can feel the cynicism taking hold already, but please accept my assurances that this isn’t a ploy to generate hits to the site. I’m not making any money here, despite the fact that I’m spending enormous amounts of time writing and researching. I want the message to get out that there is a third option and that it is the only one that has a true chance of rebuilding this wretched, horrible, and much maligned house that we all live in.
I have my opinions and so do you all. The idea is not to further any other ideological claim than this: that we all work together to discuss and debate in order to find the closest approximation of “truth” available to us: the mere mortal citizens of this vast, glorious, and godless Universe. Thank you for your time and attention.
Not a huge rush of people to proclaim themselves Gray as of this writing, but I have faith that my fellow Grays are out there.
To become a true Gray Skeptic,
Rule #1 Disavow yourself of the hateful rhetoric that has been leveled at the opposition (whichever side that may be).
Rule #2 Commit to attacking arguments–not the people who make them.
Rule #3 Because of the nature of internet communication, sarcasm almost always comes off as much more acerbic than intended. Sarcasm is a tool to be used sparingly in making a point. If the barb is too sharp it can cross the line into insult.