More things to work on. And by work on, I mean knock the fuck off.
I don’t usually criticize the atheist community a lot. Oh, I call stuff out from time to time, but I don’t like doing it. I have enough trouble with my friends on the left who think atheists are all white privileged dudely types. Which is itself a problematic attitude, but it’s true those people currently dominate the community.
Now, there’s been some positive work done on feminism in atheist circles, and there are plenty of female atheist writers. There’s obviously issues with this, as Elevatorgate and various things I’ve complained about indicate, but I think it’s better than outside the community, still. We’re lagging a bit on race, partly because the English-speaking atheist community doesn’t have a lot of contact with the atheist-humanist-skeptical communities in non-English countries, especially outside of Europe, and partly because of the preponderance of white people starting out. There’s also some interaction with problems of non-religious space for people of colour in their own communities, but I’ll leave people like Sikivu Hutchinson to explain that to the rest of us.
Apparently, though, we’re still mired in the fucking dark ages when it comes to ableism. For the example that has me so mad, see this post on the normally good Pharyngula site. EDIT: Have been reminded PZ has a history of using “crazy” and “deluded” to describe opponents, so a certain degree of ableism’s shown up in the past. Must have been thinking normally good on gender and race.
It’s part of the “Why I am an Atheist” series. Most of them have been alright. I don’t really like testimonials, so I haven’t paid them much attention, but the few I’ve skimmed have been alright, if unpolished. Unpolished is fine – I certainly can’t throw any stones there.
But the sheer condescending dickery on the post above isn’t a lack of polish. It’s indicative of one of the worst tendencies of the atheist community – to be smugly superior. Think Dennett’s attempt to create a “Bright’s” movement. It thankfully never took off, but there is a tendency in certain quarters to assume being an atheist automatically makes you cleverer than anyone else. I can see where this might crop up, especially in the States, if the only religious people you ever encounter are Tea Party-esque evangelicals, or Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. But for the most part, atheists are not smarter than anyone else, just (in my view) right about a single thing.
I would critique the post line-by-line, but I’m not sure I can make myself go back through it in any kind of detail. Suffice to say, it represents the worst sort of “inspired by disability” attitudes, as well as a “it’s almost like mentally disabled people are real people” mind-set that makes me want to reach through the tubes and smack people.
I’m most disappointed with the comments. So many people don’t even see a problem here, and it’s mind-boggling. Apparently you shouldn’t be condescending, or use insults as endearments, to women or black people or GLBTA people, but if they have a mental disability, why, it’s perfectly alright. After all, it just shows off their child-like wonder with the world, right?