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Re: [humanism-174] Atheists "invade" CPAC

From: Tim C.
Sent on: Thursday, February 27, 2014 4:04 PM
Excellent comment!

Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S™III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

Susan Haywood <[address removed]> wrote:

I posted later that I had written too late and that I didn't say what I had meant to say. So I'll clarify.

The study was on the conservative way of thinking vs the liberal way of thinking. Not on libertarian thinking. But when I had the discussion, I was talking to two libertarians and I kept conflating the conversation. As I said, I should have been sleeping, but wasn't.

Even though they are Libertarian, they tend to be heavy on the conservative way of reasoning. They really don't value fairness and justice above tradition, and that comes out all the time. They weight them the same. I fully understand that libertarians run a pretty wide spectrum in how they view things. 

The interesting part was that the study (again, I'm not vouching for it, it simply served as a jumping off point for discussion) said that while conservatives seemed to be able to understand the thinking process of liberals, liberals had a difficult time understanding the thinking process of conservatives. I tend to agree here too, because to ever allow tradition to trump fairness and justice is beyond my comprehension as viewing such an approach as moral in any way. The study put some emphasis on how both viewed morality. For a conservative, they can view some injustice in favor of tradition as moral because they value them equally, whereas a liberal often cannot view it that way.

I'm sure among libertarians, mileage varies a great deal when it comes to weighting those things, so that was where I was not communicating well.

On the other hand, they will argue that employers should be allowed to discriminate, sexually harass, and pay different rates based on their biases with no interference from the government. I'm not saying that is your stand, but I'm speaking of the libertarians I have known, and I believe that Rand Paul made similar statements or expressed such sentiments when he said the Civil Rights Act went too far. So there again, perhaps they are viewing fairness and justice in a different way, weighting it on the side of business rather than those that are necessarily dependent on those businesses to conduct their daily lives.

So the conversation got real mucky, so to speak, since I wasn't speaking to true conservatives but to libertarians.

As for the Christmas tree etc, I have never demanded that anyone, anywhere call it a holiday tree or insisted that they wish me happy holidays rather than merry christmas. I have never known anyone else to be offended either. But the issue comes up mostly with government and public schooling. Having been a person that didn't celebrate christmas, and knowing many children in school that didn't, I can understand why a school would take a more inclusive approach, and if they are supported with tax dollars, they should do so. Some businesses, in a desire to be more inclusive, have decided to use the Happy Holidays, but there is no government mandate that they do so. Those are business decisions that they are making. 

The thing about symbols is that they are a statement on culture. It's not the cross or the christmas tree that would irritate but what it stands for: favoring one religion over another. When this happens in government or public schools, I think people most definitely have the right to protest it because it is generally an outward sign of a deeper sentiment. So maybe we focus on the symbol, big bird or the flag, but that's just an object that represents the deeper debate.I have no objections to private people or private businesses displaying whatever symbol they want. but their freedom should also translate into my freedom and the freedom of others.

If there are some people that are taking this to the private sector, atheist or not, I would not support that. My neighbor can plaster their home in crosses, I don't care. However, if they try to put one up at the local school, then I do care. 

Atheists at CPAC is an interesting option. Flush out the secularists among the crowd that is so convinced they are all waiting for the rapture. Show them that they don't run the party like they think they do---or at least that they shouldn't. Remind them that while many may share the same conservative economic values, it does not follow that they reject science. Somehow, that message needs to be brought out, and since Republicans seem to be unwilling to do that openly (although, I think plenty of them are thinking that way privately) then maybe some atheists need to invade a little bit to stir up the conversation.


-----Original Message-----
From: Glen <[address removed]>
To: humanism-174 <[address removed]>
Sent: Thu, Feb 27,[masked]:19 pm
Subject: Re: Re: [humanism-174] Atheists "invade" CPAC

Being somewhat libertarian leaning myself, I must object to some of the recent generalizations about libertarians, especially the suggestion that most value "tradition" over fairness and justice.  I myself place fairness and justice far above tradition. In the specific case of the "War on Christmas", I don't think it's fair to assume that if someone is OK with religious/Christimas displays on public property, for example that they are trying to promote Christianity or overrate "tradition." I think many libertarians (and others) would just argue that as long as no tax dollars are used, and people of other religions are allowed to make similar expressions or displays, it a just matter of freedom and not getting one's underwear in a bunch unnecessarily. After all, the Constitution forbids not just the establishment of a religion, but guarantees the free expression of it.  And even many atheists and agnostics enjoy their Christmas tree and such. So insisting that we call it a "holiday" tree or always say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christimas" except in private seems a little over the top, and the type of thing that fosters the idea that atheists are unnecessarily hostile or antagonistic at times.
    At any rate, this got me thinking about whether there are any widespread symbols of atheism or "non-belief" that might be used without having inherently negative connotations, and could say, be placed next to religious holiday symbols. I think the Darwin fish is too specific to the origins debate), and old "pagan" symbols too evocative of dark or satanic notions.  When I Googled the question I was surprised to find that this has been discussed quite a bit before, and that at least one website proposes a specific symbol: 
Of course one problem is that it might tend to give the false impression that all atheists or other non-believers are monolithic in their beliefs, when there is some diversity of views even on the question of God-- from those who insist there is no God or anything supernatural, to those who simply have no positive belief in them, to those who just do not know or think it can be known. The latter would fit more with the term "agnostic," leading to the question of whether the symbol would encompass that.  So I'm not sure if having (or publicly displaying) such a symbol would be helpful or not. It seems to tie into the recent discussions of whether a non-believer "church" (or whatever one would call it) would be a good idea or not.

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