1. What, no TVTropes link
2. I was expecting the other Rebecca West quote: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."
3. That strikes me as a pretty questionable notion of what differentiation does. Though I guess it is good to differentiate
atheism from other things... :P
Darnit, I looked up Rebecca West quotes and I knew that one didn't sound quite right.
If you haven't read that article yet, you probably should, since the rest of this post will make very little sense without it.
Actually, although I can't perfectly emulate a person who hasn't read that post, I believe that this one can be understood just fine without it. The content of this post could be summed up with "the things you associate with this particular -ism aren't going to be the same things that everyone associate with this -ism", which can be easily understood even without knowing what the WAitW is.
I actually suspect that you shouldn't even mention the WAitW, because the WAitW implies that the other person is employing motivated cognition and throwing any poor argument they can come up with at you in order to shut you up. In contrast, here they might just genuinely have a different mapping between verbal and conceptual space
than you do.
Unless you have a very generous definition of fringe, whether or not it's OK to judge every woman in public life by her appearance has to be put under "currently controversial".
Also "Should women be held partially responsible for not taking sufficient precautions to avoid being raped?" is clearly fringe, or I wouldn't be seeing so much about it.
tldr: groups should keep their identity small to keep their tent big.
You wrote that whole complicated and controversial essay just to be able to use that last line, didn't you?
Hm. As it happens, I pretty much agree with all of the stated positions of Atheism+, but I agree, that if I didn't it would be problematic to have an umbrella that I sort of fit under but don't quite; all movements have this problem of "well, I mostly identify with it, but..."
But having looked at some of the prior articles, it feels like there is a problem that much of atheist-as-a-movement can be unwelcoming to people who don't fit the loud-middle-class-white-male mold, and people who fit the concept of "atheist" are uncomfortable identifying as atheist.
And it feels useful to have a label for "athiest, plus the usual things atheists are in favour of, plus nice, plus social justice" because labels do help make stuff visible.
I still find the whole atheism-as-a-movement thing kinda weird. I mean, I understand that it's necessary in the US where atheism is still looked upon as weird, but from a Scandinavian perspective it feels like... I don't know, like having a movement for the fact that blue is your favorite color and then making a big deal out of it, or something.
Is to be expected that there is extremism from all areas of thought.
There is no group save from stereotypes and/or predjudice.
There will always be an anti- to something else with haters and troll ready to play cards in the wings.
Atheism and theism both are not always religions and/or belief systems alone. Though either can be placed as part of religions and/or belief systems.
Sadly humans just can't help with the social hierarchy they have to play out inferiority and superiority complexes. It seems we cannot git rid of our primitive behaviors and the past often seems to repeat itself in similar ways.
Drama and the train wrecks. People rather feel right and have opinions matter more than truth it seems. Just the way the cookies crumble I do believe.
Hello. Long-time-lurker who followed you home from LessWrong here.
You know when you're reading an online article, and you briefly scroll down the page to make sure there's not too much left to go? And you know when you're reading a really good book and you briefly check how many pages you've got left, because you want it to go on for as long as possible?
I just want to say that your writing is one of the few things I read online where I scroll down to reassure myself that there's plenty left to read.
Keep up the good work.
I know exactly what you mean in that second paragraph and that makes me feel very good and thank you very much for the compliment :)
My personal favorite is the view that Violence Against Women is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing -- because if you go and look at the statistics, men are more frequently the victims of violent crime.
You will actually get people saying, "Ah, but they aren't attacked by women" if you bring that up.
I don't actually see what the big problem with viewing violence against women as worse than violence against men. In a perfect society, they would be equally horrible, but reasonable people have to deal with the world we live in.
Even still today, and definitely in the past, violence against women is going to fall into the category of the powerful harming the powerless much more often than vice-versa. I'm not even talking physical strength here, but societal position as well. It's the same reason that a police officer beating a citizen unconscious is considered much worse than another citizen beating that same person unconscious.
Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the statistics involved, so I cannot comment about whether or not your statement is fair, but I will note that statistics about such a hugely varied subject as all violent crime are often so diluted as to be useless in most discussions anyways.
What about something along the lines of Welcoming and Affirming
? I.E. "this fight isn't our core mission, but we can see why you might feel unwelcome or worry we're merely tolerating you, and we want to make it clear that you are totally welcome exactly as you are."
I am in favor of vague feel-good statements about welcoming and affirming. However, I worry that these statements are somewhere between meaningless and actively disingenuous if they're not backed up by some actual policy that makes people feel more welcome. And until I hear what these policy proposals actually are, I can't be sure I support them.
For example, Less Wrong has realized for a while that it's disproportionately white male and it ought to have more women and minorities. Sometimes people have said we should be more welcoming to women and minorities, and this has been greeted mostly with approval.
However, recently there were some political debates in which some people took somewhat liberal positions on things like diversity and multiculturalism, and other people took somewhat conservative positions on things like diversity and multiculturalism. A few people then chewed out the people who took the conservative positions, because even if they believed them voicing them publicly even in a polite way made us "less welcoming to minorities" and we had all agreed being welcoming to minorities was a goal. I value the goal of being more welcoming but not if it means that all opinions a minority might disagree with have to be suppressed.
Likewise, some people have claimed we need to be less aggressive and fanatically-evidence-based during political discussion, because supposedly women like friendly feelings-based community-building discussion more. Leaving aside for now the sketchiness and potential stereotypingness of that statement, even if it were true I think most people would be strongly against changing the way they interact, but phrasing it as "You're not being welcoming to women" backs us into a corner on this one.
So my feelings on that are about the same as my feelings on the original issue - I'm in favor of being welcoming and affirming insofar as being welcoming and affirming is Obviously Reasonable, but I'm afraid if I outright say "let's be welcoming and affirming" people are going to use that to demand that I cede on Controversial Issues.
Edited at 2012-09-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
"At the risk of editorializing, I would point out one difference between these two cases, which is that the battle to define feminism is exactly that - a battle - whereas the battle to define MRA is a rout, or less politely a massacre."
Isn't that exactly an example of "The Worst Argument in the World"? Massacre is an emotionally charged word, and you're implying that we should judge it negatively. Whereas, from the perspective of people defining MRA negatively, the negative definition is simply the correct one.
I wasn't using massacre to mean "something which is ethically horrible", I was using it to mean "a battle in which one side vastly outnumbers and outguns the other". That is, I was just trying to say that neither feminists and anti-feminists have entirely succeeded in redefining feminism, the anti-men's-rights groups have been very successful, and the pro-men's-rights groups total failures, in the attempt to redefine men's rights.
Carrier said he would treat anyone opposed to his core beliefs as an "ideological enemy". Which appears tautologically true. Seems to me you're not arguing about a name, you're asserting that he shouldn't have these beliefs or shouldn't attach as much certainty to them. And you peripherally assert that he shouldn't associate so much with people who share his beliefs (perhaps you think it will encourage him to double-count the evidence of their agreement). Do you see why that's not going to work?
The fact that you find the name annoying seems more interesting. Do you see any way to avoid this problem? Because "Atheism plus" seems like an accurate literal description of their views, and if has positive connotations then someone will use it for exactly that reason. (The reverse suggests that having no name will fail even if Carrier convinces everyone who agrees with him to forgo having one.) Note that this name does not lend itself to self-descriptive nouns as easily as "atheism" or "secular humanism" or Bright-ness does. So that aspect works against runaway identity expansion.
2012-09-02 05:27 pm (UTC)
Re: no, he didn't
I guess the way in which I have a problem with Brights (and to a lesser degree Atheism +) is that it means the only name we have to describe them is a loaded term (this is more obvious when you notice Carrier also describes non Atheism+ers as Atheism Less. It's sort of like the whole debacle where "I am pro-choice and you are anti-choice!" "No, I am pro-life and you are anti-life!". I agree it's not uncommon, but it's still annoying.
I think Carrier's claim was a bit beyond the tautological "I will treat them as an ideological enemy." First, one doesn't always go out of one's way to exclude everyone one disagrees with about anything; for example, if I'm an Obama voter Romney voters are in a sense my "ideological enemy", but that doesn't mean I think they should be excluded from interacting with me in non-political contexts (like an atheism group). Second, I don't know if it was in the post I linked to or another, but he has a long discussion of tone arguments I interpreted as a defense of taking a very hostile tone towards these opponents, which again is beyond just acknowledging their opponentness.
I don't think a single self-identified "Men's Rights Advocate" has helped to advance any of what you call their "obviously reasonable beliefs". Show me an instance.
2012-09-02 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: on the meaning of MRA
Well, I've gotten a number of people to change their opinions on whether there are legitimate cases of systematic discrimination against men that are deserving of effort to correct them. Am I a self identified MRA activist? Well, I could call myself one right now.
If the label of "feminist" was a huge social liability that was treated in mainstream discourse as an invitation not to take people bearing it seriously, feminists who were pragmatic about making a difference would probably endeavor to not call themselves that.
2012-09-02 02:35 am (UTC)
Thanks, I been debating with myself over a week about this topic and now I think I finally know where I stand.
While I understand the reasons for Atheism+, it might not be the right move.
What is currently controversial in our group is not how religion discriminates against gender and race, since everyone is happy to call their enemies sexists and racists, but on how bigotry in our own movement affect our members. If so splitting is currently unnecessary since, going away is exactly what their opponents inside want them to do.
2012-09-02 06:12 am (UTC)
No, they want them to stay, take it and shut the fuck up.
We had a chat about A+ at the Rationally Speaking blog and the view I ended up with was to allow any reasonable connection to Atheism as a personal position on it, thus A + Progressive, or A + Reactionary. One can challenge the spitituality of a religion, for example, as an Atheist, then move on to its left or right wing social stance as remaining non-spiritual values, to challenge their rational factual bases.
It's good to know if someone has a position connected to Atheism (or whatever), particularly about religions and their impact on society. Stating a personal position in any argument is important to me, even if one necessarily tries to be super objective, as it is a factor to be taken into account in reading. I would encourage the use of + when it is useful in that way, but not discriminate between anyones' use of it (progressive or reactionary, or whatever), even though I would be a progessive.
"I think atheists should stick their core strength: their tendency to reject demands for pledges of allegiance to the local -ism."
Actually, I think that this sort of misses the point. You can't really reject *all* demands for pledges of allegiance to the local -ism, because skepticism (or atheism, if you really prefer) is a local -ism. All you're saying here is that the allegiance to skepticism should outweigh - or perhaps outright eliminate - the allegiance to feminism. Which I don't find convincing.
The reason for that is this: "chances are about 100% that the feminism and anti-racism and progressivism that are obviously true aren't going to be the feminism and anti-racism and progressivism that you're being mean to people for rejecting. You're going to establish that the Obviously Reasonable points are obviously reasonable, and then be mean to people for rejecting the Currently Controversial Points."
Can you really think of any Currently Controversial Points about anti-racism? Really? I mean, yeah, there's a tiny little ongoing spat about race and IQ and *maybe* you can squeeze in immigration issues (although not within the dominantly liberal skeptics' movement), but the number of race-related CCPs is basically zero. Why is that? Because the anti-racism movement has had wonderful success in being mean to racists, thereby making racism more or less a no-go area for anybody who wants to be taken seriously as an intellectual. Similarly, same-sex marriage went from being Obviously Unreasonable to Obviously Reasonable within, what, fifty years in this country? Less? Almost entirely because of a cultural sea change about what anti-LGBT bigotry looked like. And now, because of that, you will never see conversations in the skeptical community about whether black culture is inferior to white culture or whether same-sex intercourse is wrong. It just won't happen.
So what you're recommending seems, in fact, to be exactly the wrong solution, because it will more or less guarantee that sex and gender issues continue to be areas in which we don't make any real progress. Whereas you despair of getting skeptics to adopt the Obvious and Controversial men's rights points, I would rather try to get skeptics to accept those as well (especially since many of them are just rewordings of the Obvious or Controversial feminist points). The reason for this is simple: I'd much rather have the baggage that comes with feminism and men's rights than the baggage that comes with resolute skepticism. While the feminism and men's rights baggage ain't pretty, the baggage that comes with resolute skepticism is REALLY ugly, and is in practice exactly the kind of baggage that creates and nurtures social schisms like the one you're talking about. We didn't get the civil rights movement with pure skepticism, and we won't figure this one out with pure skepticism, either.
"Can you really think of any Currently Controversial Points about anti-racism? Really? I mean, yeah, there's a tiny little ongoing spat about race and IQ and *maybe* you can squeeze in immigration issues (although not within the dominantly liberal skeptics' movement), but the number of race-related CCPs is basically zero."
Wait, really? Affirmative action, busing, race/IQ controversy in biology, slavery reparations, hate crime legislation, any poverty-related issue since they inevitably inject race into it, ambiguously racist statements by politicians or celebrities and how harshly we should respond, immigration, bilingual education, whether lack of minorities in high positions in business is a result of racism or minority culture, whether current portrayal of minorities in the media is acceptable, Native American sports team mascots, how majority-centered education should be (eg is ebonics okay? Culturally biased IQ tests?) etc etc etc.
Furthermore I think exactly the same tactics are used here whenever someone says affirmative action is racist or hints darkly about "old white guys who oppose immigration because they hate dem furriners" or something like that.
Also, what country do you live in where everyone considers same-sex marriage to be Obviously Reasonable? Do you think I'd be allowed to move there?
More generally, you seem to be assuming that only the Good People can use definition-pushing arguments, but I see no reason why that should be true. I tend to distrust any solution that works for the bad guys and the good guys alike. A lot of the feminist CCPs are the exact opposite of the men's rights CCPs. They can't both succeed. If they both try to use dishonest definitional arguments to push for those points, whoever succeeds is going to be whoever shouts the loudest. If they both try to use rational arguments to argue those points on their own merits, whoever succeeds is going to be whoever's right.
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