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  1. Are atheists freethinkers?
  2. by jafsica Freitag on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 12:50pm
  3. The answer to this question should be yes! Unfortunately, it often isn't.
  4. Do they share humanist values? Surprisingly few don't.
  5.  
  6. Let's start out? What does it mean to be a freethinker?
  7. Well, it basically means that you reject claims that are held simply because they are the status quo and require evidence, logic and reason in order to accept a claim. Freethought is also contrary to religions, because (pretty much all) religions are based on faith and supernatural, things that are not congruent with logic, reason and evidence.
  8.  
  9. I have taken psychology, sociology and numerous biology courses. Although I don't have professional training in anthropology, I've learned some valuable lessons over the years. For example, race is an imposed contruct--not a biological one. Gender is not a dichotomy. There is a spectrum, not simply male and female. Sexuality isn't dichotomous either.
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  11. Based on this evidence, any freethinker would logically come to the conclusion that anti-woman, anti-GLBT or racist comments are not congruent with reality. Reality shows that these things (womanhood, GLBT, skin color) are normal and nobody needs to fit into a box.
  12.  
  13. Recently in an atheistical group called "Atheist's Bar," a man made a derogatory comment toward women. Another man immediately chimed in, pointing out how dehumanizing that statement was. Later, a woman joined the conversation, stating that the comments were dehumanizing and derogatory. Then, this woman was accused of misandry.
  14. Instead of listening to people's concerns, like a good freethinker, additional group members (mostly male) joined in on defending the misogynistic behavior of the first individual.
  15.  
  16. The origional post said this:"I just took a scroll through my neighborhood, and I walked by an opened garage with a Hindu religious ceremony going on. And WOW! those chicks were hot!!! (my neighborhood is mostly Hindu, with a mix of Muslims and Christians). Then I thought to myself (in their words...) "Damn YO! I could be bangin' all those bitches". I could even be out preaching the pandits! But if I pretended to be Hindu for that reason, then I wouldn't be true to myself."
  17.  
  18. Instead of understanding how people might be offended (or that context might be lost), people continued to condone what was said.
  19. To loosely quote Lewis Black: "There are some things you think and then shut your fucking mouth."
  20.  
  21. Initially, a male, chimed in stating: "yes... be horny and misogynistic for all the right reasons..." and "Women are not "bitches". "Never have, never will be. It's a literally dehumanizing term."
  22.  
  23. Another man popped in, defending the main post with : " It's a colloquialism. Men aren't "dudes", but you are not automatically a misandrist if you use that term in reference to a man. Words are just words until meaning is attached to them. In this situation, it's you who has attached the derogatory connotation to the word."
  24.  
  25. The discussion continued and a couple more individuals entered the discussion.
  26.  
  27. Then a woman joined the conversation: you disappoint me. "Damn YO! I could be bangin' all those bitches" this sentence is wrong in so many levels: 1. dehumanizing women into pure sexual objects; 2. wanting to have sex with more than one partner without consulting whether your partner would like it or not; 3. assuming whatever you want: having sex with those gorgeous women, would be granted by those women, that is pure big-headedness; 4. In order to justify your uncivilized lust, you used a degenerating word "bitches" to refer them. Shame on you Raby. You did not change to Hinduism not because you want to be true to yourself: being an atheist, but you knew that even if you changed to Hinduism, you wouldn't have a chance with any of them just like your misogynist attitude wouldn't get you laid with any atheist girl.
  28.  
  29. Shortly thereafter, she was accused of misandry. The original poster re-joined the conversation and defended his behavior, saying that anybody reading the thread should obviously be able to see the context. Well, it wasn't at all obvious to me. When saying things in a text medium (especially to people with whom you have not yet established a rapport) erases any context you and your real life friends have.
  30.  
  31. The thread continued on and I read parts of it (there were about 300 comments). I was outraged.
  32. In a new thread I posted my disgust with the group, and instead of listening, someone simply pointed out that, technically, the only thing atheists have in common is that they don't believe in god(s), and that if I wanted respect I should go with the humanists, because not all atheists are humanists.
  33.  
  34. This reminded me of a panel discussion I attended with PZ Myers. He's tired of this constrictive definition. While I understood his point of view, I can sympathize with it much, much more today. I want to join groups where I can feel safe and valued.
  35. The divisive attitudes are not helpful. And they sure do make atheists look bad.
  36.  
  37. Have we gotten so "free speech" that we don't care that people say awful things to other people? Harassing things?
  38. I'm not. If we don't have the right to threaten people, then we don't have the right to harass them.
  39. Was what the original poster said direct harassment? No. But some of the ensuing comments were quite harassing.
  40.  
  41. I did my best to remain civil. I was not treated with the same civility. I was instead told I was not a freethinker because I think that people shouldn't say misogynistic or racist things.
  42.  
  43. One of the apologists even said: "Dude, lighten up. We're fucking atheists. For a group of people that typically make it a point to call others out on their stupid ass bullshit beliefs, I think it is awfully hypocritical to get this insulted over name calling. Do you think the Christians aren't insulted when you tell them their religion is wrong and their God is dead? Do you think creationists aren't insulted when their belief is flat out stupid?
  44.  
  45. Damn, nobody is trying to say women are inferior."
  46.  
  47. I'm sorry, did I misread? Let me read that again. Hold on. It said, "Damn YO! I could be bangin' all those bitches."Um, how is that NOT sexist? That implies that women are inferior. If he was using it ironically, he should have stated that. That is plainly and simply derogatory, sexist speech.
  48.  
  49. Want some examples of real skepticism/freethought?
  50. Look here!:
  51. Rape is not an adaptation: http://tiny.cc/v0jq5
  52. Skepticism is How not WHo!: http://tiny.cc/ccuu9
  53. The problems that can arise when people forget that context is often lost over the internet: http://tiny.cc/v0jq5
  54. Races aren't real: http://tiny.cc/fu0ou
  55. Race, Gender, IQ and Nature: http://tiny.cc/6ykn9
  56. Why human brains vary: http://tiny.cc/gmjbd
  57.  
  58.  
  59. Also, don't forget that any context you may have with your friends is lost when you are posting on the internet, so if you post something in a group, don't expect others to understand your inside joke. It's not funny.
  60. It's degrading and dehumanizing.
  61. Think about how it affects other people (like all of the women who have been abused and harassed and dehumanized) before you say something that can perpetuate the perception that women deserve to be dehumanized.
  62. Or that there's something wrong with being a "queer" or a "fag." (These lessons should apply to other similar situations. Use your critical thinking skills and you will understand why.
  63.  
  64. Maybe not all atheists are humanists or freethinkers, but maybe they should be. This reminds me an awful lot of the negative things I experienced when I was a kid, with conservative religion and misogynistic relatives.
  65. Nobody deserves that treatment.
  66. You may not consider yourself a humanst, but at least be humane.
  67.  
  68.  
  69. Here is a link to the group Atheists Bar: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_133174413414726&ap=1
  70. I recommend against joining this group or becoming friends with the prominent offenders (who continue to defend their detrimental behavior). However, feel free to go to the group, so you can see why I am posting this note, why I think it is important to speak out and make sure the groups you join are skeptical/freethinker.I would rather be in a Christian group that is pro-woman than in a group that allows others to dehumanize other members of the group.
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