Measured Against Reality

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To those who believe atheists face no discrimination

One of the things that I really love hearing is how atheists aren't facing any kind of discrimination in the US. Whenever someone compares atheism to homosexuality or feminism (or even racism) it's called an inapt metaphor, a poor analogy, or an outright screaming shame.

I want those people to read this. I want them to read that and explain to me how we don't face discrimination, how we aren't hated, how we don't have to fight. I want them to explain the now well-known fact that an atheist is the least eligible candidate for president in the country's eyes. I want them to explain the fact that so many atheists felt that they can't make their beliefs known. I want them to explain the people who thank Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens for making them feel like they're not alone. I want them to explain all that.

They can't. Atheists are hated, atheists are discriminated against, and atheists are not wanted.

Is it universal? No, of course not. Is it as bad as racism, or sexism, or homophobia? In some cases it's not even close (I wouldn't make the comparison the racism, for example), and its virulence varies from place to place (as did all the others). But to say that we don't need to fight, that we don't need to put ourselves out there, that we shouldn't stand out and shout for ourselves, to say all that is just plain wrong, just plain stupid, and just plain harmful.

I am an atheist, and I am not going to shut my mouth until the people of this country accept me for it. And even though I'm a straight white male, I will stand by the others who need to fight for acceptance, because I believe in fighting for what's right. If the other great acceptance movements of the past (and they're still ongoing) have taught us anything, it's that standing up is the only way to force change, and it will be a long, difficult journey.

I hope you're going to make it with me.



  • Good luck with your campaign!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:04 PM, September 23, 2007  

  • Arcanum, it's not much of a campaign (in that it's not organized), and it's definitely not mine. Others are doing far more than I ever will.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 9:09 PM, September 23, 2007  

  • Dude, your letter to the editor is a hoax.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:41 AM, September 24, 2007  

  • Anonymous, even if it is (which I have no way of knowing) all of those sentiments are commonly expressed, to the point where they will be familiar to anyone who's been paying attention to atheism at all.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 9:43 AM, September 24, 2007  

  • Actually, you do have a way of knowing that it's a hoax, you can visit the website of the newspaper that published it! Here it is:

    By Blogger Michael, at 10:04 AM, September 24, 2007  

  • Michael, yeah I just saw that on Reddit, but as I said before, I've heard all of those sentiments expressed before, and that's only one of my points about the discrimination we face. The fact that the letter could get published at all even says something, and the paper takes the idiotic position that being an atheist is "just a choice", which to me sounds as bad as saying homosexuality is a choice (I couldn't choose to believe in any religion).

    So it still serves my purposes, even if not in the same way.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 10:08 AM, September 24, 2007  

  • I love your argument, Stupac. "Atheists are discriminated against. Here, look at this proof!"

    "Dude. Your proof is a parody."

    "Yeah, but it's a parody that sounds just like some as-yet-unnamed real stuff!"

    At least you didn't get suckered by The Onion:

    By Blogger Byrne Hobart, at 1:02 PM, September 24, 2007  

  • Stupac,

    I don't care if it's a hoax or not. If someone (say, me...) is afraid of telling people she meets (potential employers, clients, friends, etc) that she's an atheist, then that's an issue. If you are afraid that you are going to be hated, feared, etc for a label you place on yourself, there is intolerance and bigotry behind that. I agree whole heartedly that there is strong discrimination against non-believers and I suspect the people who argue that there isn't haven't experienced it. ie they are believers so they can't understand what it's like to be in the other camp. I'm finally understanding some of what it must feel like to be discriminated against for other labels-minority, homosexual, etc. And...moreover, I am finally seeing how I couldn't have ever understood it fully, being an outsider. I'm sure it would have been even worse if I spent so much of my time trying to convince myself that racism or homophobia are dead, as the believers seem to do with discrimination against non-believers. In fact, they take the madness one step further. What some believers seem to want to do is to say the equivalent of me saying, "Not only do gays have the same rights as me, I'm discriminated against because I'm straight!" They are in the majority (by far) but still seem to want to turn the tables and say we're taking away their rights. It's ludicrous.

    By Blogger Terra, at 8:37 AM, September 26, 2007  

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