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Atheist Purity

As we all know, the Reason Rally is next weekend and it seems that some people are upset because the purity of the atheist race will be tainted with some video speeches by people who are unreasonable about something in their lives. We all know that every speech must not only be 100% pure, but also that each speaker must be pure as well. We must all march lockstep to the Reason Rally and agree not only with everything said, but with every opinion that everyone speaking has ever helds. Anything short of that is blasphemy!

Obviously, I am being sarcastic here and if you can’t read that between the lines then you have a serious problem. However, there are people who are upset that Senator Tom Harkin, Bill Maher, and Penn Jillette will be delivering pre-recorded video speeches.

The issue with Harkin isn’t that he irrationally believes in Catholicism (which carries a host of ridiculous superstitions), but rather that both he and Maher believe in alternative medicine. It is unlikely that either will actually be talking about their views on alternative medicine or that either will have something negative to say about the audience at the Reason Rally. Instead, Harkin is presenting a nice speech welcoming people to the National Mall for our rally even though he doesn’t agree with us on every issue. Maher will undoubtedly be keeping his remarks aimed at the religious.

So why are people upset that these people are allowed to speak? Have we really gotten to the point where everyone needs to be vetted for their atheist purity? Have we learned nothing from that South Park episode featuring Richard Dawkins? Okay, forget South Park, have we learned nothing from the religious or even from history?

I get it if we wouldn’t want Rick Santorum to speak at the Rally because he would obviously say some negative crap about us as an audience and he would promote a lot of things that we as a community stand against, but we have to have some bounds of reason here. Obviously we can’t allow everyone with ridiculous ideas to speak, but there are some people who are on our side on most of the important things but disagree with some of us on a few issues.

I really think that those who have a problem with these individuals speaking really need to pause and take a deep breath. Is it really reasonable to be upset that some people speaking might not agree with you 100% on every single issue?

We are a diverse movement and we have diverse opinions on a diverse range of issues. Let Harkin, Maher, and Jillette speak. They aren’t even speaking about the issues you take issue with, so get over it.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    Part of the problem seems to be the title of the event. “Reason Rally” doesn’t specify attitudes toward religion as much as it specifies attitudes that we consider reasonable. That includes attitudes on side issues, not immediately pertaining to religion. This particular issue didn’t come up before the Godless Americans March on Washington in 2002. Some folks didn’t like that event’s name, but at that one, attitudes on side-issues weren’t relevant. The conflict over the name of that event was about people not liking the term “Godless” because they interpret that word to be an insult.

    To this day, some folks criticize the name “Godless Americans March on Washington,” even though it was a very successful event. Now this new conflict over a very similar event is fascinating, in light of how the GAMOW did so well, despite a lot of criticism.

    I think the Reason Rally will be a huge success.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dale-McGowan/1404753844 Dale McGowan

    “the purity of the atheist race will be tainted…by people who are unreasonable about something in their lives.”

    You NAILED it. This is really the central problem in freethought right now: whether we can deign to breathe the same air as people who fall short of our (imagined) purity. Bravo!

  • Pingback: Dangerous Talk » Atheists Love Drama!

  • catplanet24

    But as many have pointed out, this is being called a “Reason Rally”. There are many paths to atheism, most based simply on emotion. Atheism on its own does not mean rationality. At best, it is correct reasoning on one issue. But plenty of atheists stop their rationality right there.

    Of course, rationalists will not agree on every issue. There is plenty of room for disagreement. But anti-vax kills people. It is based on logical fallacies, cognitive biases and superstition, not unlike religion. Yet Maher has said people who get vaccinated are “stupid”. I wonder how many people he has harmed.

    So while I probably would agree with you on other issues, I would rather have a liberal Christian at the Reason Rally than an anti-vaxer. Sorry, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      I think people find it easy to demonize others without inquiring further. As it turns out, Maher is not anti-vax. He wrote a pretty long article about his position on this and it is a little more nuanced than some would like to believe. But that is besides the point here. Yes, this is a Reason Rally and not all atheists value reason. I know quite a few who don’t. But no one is reasonable about every issue. Some people disagree. Even if Maher were anti-vax (which he isn’t!) there would be room for discussion with him. Why? Because he values reason and follows the evidence.

      • catplanet24

        Thanks. I would like to see where this article actually is. It certainly would be a significant change from his ranting about “western medicine” on his show. It would make me feel a lot better.
        Here is one example of his anti-vax rhetoric: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/bill-maher-vs-the-flu-vaccine/
        Not too much following the evidence here….

        • dangeroustalk

          I don’t want to be put in the position of defending Bill Maher’s position on medicine. I don’t necessarily agree with it but I also don’t think his opinion should disqualify him from speaking about a totally different subject (which I do agree with) at the Reason Rally. Still, you can read Maher’s actually opinion on the matter here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/vaccination-a-conversatio_b_358578.html
          My take away from that is that he is against over vaccination. Instead, he thinks we should eat healthier, exercise more, and reduce the level of pollution we take in through the air and water. He think this will strengthen our immune systems and allow them to fight off more illnesses on their own. I don’t disagree with that necessarily, but I do think he takes it further than I would.

          • catplanet24

            Thanks for that. Not to belabor the point, but from my study of this issue and of Ms. Fischer whom he cites, I do not see much of change in his views. I appreciate that he responded to critics, but he still shows a lack of appreciation of how science is done.