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Re: [humanism-174] Why can't I be a "nice and quiet" atheist?

From: Mark R. O.
Sent on: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 12:07 PM

I disagree, it is not society that prevents one from speaking 'freely', it is how one will be held
that one self-censors.  By society, I refer to a population of people (group) where free speech
is considered a right.  In this context, society is not governed by the majority.  The society
is comprised of groups, comprised of sub-groups, comprised of individuals.  It is the individual
that sets the standards that s/he will follow.  Society does not have rules that govern speech. 


Yet many, if not most, people will say you should leave a person's religious beliefs alone: "It's their faith.""

If I where to except this statement, it does not preclude me from discussing my beliefs.

As a blue-collar man, your rant is my rant. 


George Santayana: I am an atheist with respect to all gods which have been created by men for their own purposes. 

Great quote.   Another one of his that may be appropriate - "Society is like the air, necessary to breathe,
insufficient to live on. 

M. Orel

MichaelV wrote:
I have to disagree.  Society has an enormous impact on the subject matter, tone, and debatable issues that we may engage in with people outside of our immediate social group.  You can see this in the workplace codes of conduct, the issues and language not commonly addressed in public forums, the subject matter on most television shows.  The influence of public ostracization is such that even a normally outspoken individual restrains themselves in certain situations, if for no other reason than the knowledge that their issue, even if valid, will be ignored if their language and mannerisms are not in compliance with what is considered acceptable by the society.  Take the birthers for example.  Here is a group of people who are rabidly promoting the idea that Barack Obama is a native born Kenyan who conspired to take control of our nation, and also accuse him of being a closet Muslim.  These same people use imagery that is offensive, disrespectful, and false, to denigrate the man, his office, his supporters, his party, his electoral victory, and our nation as a whole.  The subtext of their protests are racial; despite this, they know full well that if they admit to this they will cease to be covered by sympathetic media outlets.  Further more, if questioned individually and privately, they admit to disliking President Obama because of his race.  Despite this, I have yet to see a sign or a poster that publicly calls the President a nigger, or any other racist term.  You only have to go back 20-30 years to see those terms not just used but flaunted.  This is because our society has advanced to a point that we no longer tolerate such bigotry, and the birthers know it.  If someone irrational and stupid such as they can be cowed by communal standards, anyone can.

As far as religion is concerned, I think that the sensitivity has to do with the implicit consequences of blasphemy that communities espoused for so long; criticizing a politician is one thing, but risking plague or fire or some other calamity by offending god probably kept more people quiet than would have done so otherwise.  We know better now, and I agree that the billboard will go a long way to opening up the debate.


From: Mark R. Orel <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Monday, September 28,[masked]:08:06 PM
Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Why can't I be a "nice and quiet" atheist?

Believers, nonbelievers, rational or irrational, politics or religion it does not matter. 
The premise -

I want an explanation of why someone can bring up something political and be challenged on it but not if they bring up their religious beliefs.

I believe is wrong.  It is not the subject, it is the individual.  There are no societal norms for conversation,
argument or debate.  Even if I accept that certain  points of view are discouraged within groups. 
It still comes down to the tolerance (personality) of the individual as to what s/he will or will not discuss.

The only thing that prohibits certain topics is the esteem, or lack of, that the individual will hold. 

My argument assumes freedom of speech. 

M. Orel

Don Boos wrote:
A similar subject is why do they expect non believers respect their "holy" books. They are only printed paper like any other book.

On Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 1:54 PM, Mark Tiborsky <[address removed]> wrote:
Mark O.,
The mere mention of the name "Obama" causes an irrational negative visceral reaction in millions of Americans. While it is perfectly rational to not agree with his politics, the reasons for the visceral Obama hatred are just as irrational as any religious dogma... so I made a deal with myself to treat irrational religion & irrational politics in exactly the same way (in which neither are granted any sort of special "shield" from criticism).

On Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 11:09 AM, Matt <[address removed]> wrote:
That's true, Mark. But, still, that's an individual response that has more to do with a particular personality than with the subject matter. In general, even people who aren't open to discussion about their politics (tho they probably assume they are) will say that it's okay to challenge/debate someone's political beliefs. Yet many, if not most, people will say you should leave a person's religious beliefs alone: "It's their faith."

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