Welcome to my first post. I rant a lot, and am a liberal, bisexual female, atheist/Secular Humanist, so if you don't like any of those, get out now. I don't tolerate trolls, stupidity or intolerance. Oh, and don't say I didn't warn you.
I came across an article today by someone who is pretty much one of my heroes, Rekha Basu. She's an editorial writer for the Des Moines Register, and I feel like she's almost always dead on. Anyway, I was reading a recent article by her, called "They want to be free not to believe", and I started to get a little angry. And then I started a blog. Go me, and definitely go Rekha, because, as I said she is almost always dead on, and this article is a great example of that.
Let me start out by saying, I feel like a loser for missing out on the American Atheists convention in Des Moines (the thing that inspired RB to write the article I'm referencing in the first place). I mean really, how did I miss that? Why didn't I try harder to go? I'm kicking myself, let me tell you. The one thing that will enable this to make this up to myself is that I have a fiancé who recently suggested that we go to the Amazing Meeting for our honeymoon. Yeah, he's pretty special, I love him.
Next, I'm sure you're wondering how an article that was "dead on" pissed me off. It pissed me off, because I was already in a snit over an article that Foundation Beyond Belief posted, about how creationist materials have been submitted to the Texas board of education, so when I began to read RB's article, I was already fuming mad and declaring that I was going to leave this country if I ever had children, because we're so willing to let conservatives/fundamentalists completely high-jack our education system (another blog for another time). Because I was already bothered, when I read RB's article it inspired this internal dialog that was really frustrating for me (I forgot to mention, I talk to myself, A LOT, so this blog is for my sanity-- now I can pretend that I'm talking to plenty of other people on the internet-- much saner).
RB says that "One woman who belongs to a Siouxland atheists chapter told the Register that in western Iowa, people are afraid if they disclose that affiliation, their cars or homes will be firebombed. A man said the group has been denied participation in charity fundraisers" and then goes on to say that "Intolerance can be a two-way street, and some on the atheists' side needlessly mocked or baited Bible worshipers, too". OK, let me unpack this for a bit. Can I just say...wow? I've heard rumors of the way of western Iowa, and frankly, based on those rumors, I didn't think they were capable of figuring out how to make a bomb-- that being said, if the rumors are true, and the region is heavily populated with bigots, these are the same people who are often toting guns and proclaiming that liberals are threatening their constitutional rights by not wanting them to "bear arms". These are the same people who are advocating limiting my constitutional right of separation of church and state. The same people who helped oust three judges, and who call themselves "libertarian", while voting for the biggest government possible. Let's face it-- if you want the government to dictate who can and can't marry, and will punish judges for doing their jobs admirably-- you want some pretty damn big government. In regards to the second statement, I also want to point out, that even though I think Christianity is one of the silliest things on Earth, I still respect the people, because they are just that-- people. The one "Christian thing" (even though many other cultures have said it similarly and even better) is treating others how you wanted to be treated, so I give these people the courtesy of not trying to convert them to my views, and just once, I'd like to receive that treatment in return. Is it too much to ask? "You can't get to tolerance through self righteousness". Well said Rekha.
I'm also not sure how I feel about the "baiting" comment. Clearly, the western Iowans who feared for their safety, were worried about bodily harm, and RB doesn't really give an example of atheists physically harming Christians. No, I don't think we should go around being disrespectful twats and "baiting" people, but I need to know what her definition of "baiting" is. Healthy discussion, totally fine, unprovoked mocking and rudeness, not so much. Hell, even provoked rudeness is out of line, lead by example, right? But, as Sam Harris points on, and I thoroughly agree with this: "Tolerance of religious stupidity has a way of making liars and cowards of people who should have nothing to fear from the fruits of honest reasoning". If we're too honest, we risk hurting feelings, if we're not honest enough, we aren't doing ourselves and our world any favors. Where do we draw the line?