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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:36 PM
Original message
You Might Be an Uncle Tom Atheist If...
Uncle Tom Atheists Exchange Liberty for Crumbs of Privilege

By Austin Cline, About.com Guide October 22, 2011

Are you truly committed to equality, liberty, and liberation for all atheists or are you more of an "Uncle Tom" atheist? Would you turn your back on working for real equality in exchange for a few scraps from the tables of religious theists so you can pretend you're being treated as an equal? Would you support increased privileges for Christians in the hope that a few of those privileges might drip down to benefit you personally? You might, and without even realizing it because some seemingly innocuous behaviors can do all atheists more harm than good.

So, You Might be an Uncle Tom Atheist if...

You "Accommodate" Believers' Demands to Have Special Privileges
Special privileges for one group is an indirect means of furthering the oppression of other groups, so an Uncle Tom Atheist cooperates with privileged groups by helping them defend current accommodations or acquire more. Privileging religious believers generally or Christians in particular means that secularism suffers and secular atheists become further disadvantaged. Uncle Tom Atheists, though, hope that their active cooperation will allow them to enjoy a few scraps dropped from the table of privileged believers. This is unlikely to happen in practice and when it does it only means that those atheists are kept even more under control, but for some the hope of such scraps outweighs any hope for genuine liberation.

You Allow Religion to Give People a Special Status to Speak on Moral Issues
One of the greatest lies perpetuated by religion today is the idea that religion, religious leaders, and religious institutions have any special authority on moral questions. This allows them to frame both moral and political debates in ways that further entrench religious power in society to the detriment of secularism and secular atheists. Uncle Tom Atheists cooperate with this by encouraging the perception that there is anything about a religious leader or religious institution which should automatically confer a stronger voice in public debates than secular leaders and secular institutions. This may flatter religious believers, but it sets back the cause of liberation from religious authoritarianism.

You Make Civility and Being "Nice" More Important than Condemning Immorality
Being nice to people is an important social value, but it's not the only social value and there are times when not being nice like incivility or derision is called for. This is most plainly the case when we are faced with gross immorality: we don't need to be civil when discussing racism, we don't need to be nice when discussing neo-Nazis, and we don't need to worry about the hurt feelings of White Supremacists. Uncle Tom Atheists dismiss this and insist on worrying about the hurt feelings of religious theists no matter what they are being criticized for. Uncle Tom Atheists put the feelings of religious believers first and the suffering of victims of faith-based crimes or immorality last.

http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/tp/...

Charming fellow.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. What, specifically, do you disagree with?
:shrug:
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. All of it.
Starting with calling people Uncle Tom.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. So you think that atheists should do things like
~"Accommodate" Believers' Demands to Have Special Privileges
~Allow Religion to Give People a Special Status to Speak on Moral Issues
~Make Civility and Being "Nice" More Important than Condemning Immorality
~Apologize for "Bad Atheists" Making Religious Believers Uncomfortable


Wait, what am I saying? I already know what you and your religious peers think. It's apparent throughout this forum.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Naturally. Furthermore, I am petitioning for a sneer smiley.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #7
51. Thanks for confirming it for me n/t
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. Is "Uncle Tom" a forbidden term? I am guessing you arent a liberal? nm
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Liberals don't forbid terms. It's a stupid term.
Especially in comparison.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:21 PM
Response to Reply #11
21. I agree that liberals dont. That's why I am wondering about your objection.
"Stupid term" isnt much of an argument. I think it's use is meaningful in this case.

I am having a hard time understanding your point here. Can you help me? And I dont mean the term "Uncle Tom".
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
13. Quelle surprise! n/t
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #4
18. "Uncle Tom" may be poor terminology, but what about the rest of it?
Are you saying that religion, and religious people, should be given special privileges in society?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. His rhetoric lacks only ominous organ music..
"Uncle Tom Atheists, though, hope that their active cooperation will allow them to enjoy a few scraps dropped from the table of privileged believers. This is unlikely to happen in practice and when it does it only means that those atheists are kept even more under control, but for some the hope of such scraps outweighs any hope for genuine liberation."

Really, to call this hyperbole woukld be an understatement. There's too much of it to wade through before substance appears.
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #19
25. Its only hyperbole when privilege isn't recognized...
Christians, and to a certain extent Jews, in this country, are afforded societal privileges that no other group can claim. They are freer in many ways that even most of them don't recognize. Their leaders are accorded automatic respect in media, their beliefs are generally respected, they do not have to risk being ostracized or discriminated against due to their beliefs. Nor do they generally have to fear either physical or political oppression like other groups. And I haven't even started on the political privileges of such groups.

Of course, whenever this is pointed out, they are the first to scream persecution, which is ironic in a nation where they hold the overwhelming majority in both the political and public spheres. And when its pointed out that in one sphere they hold an underwhelming minority(National Academy of Sciences) this is treated as a terrible thing because privilege is no longer present.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #25
54. Actually, i think the post just below is quicker to scream persecution.
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #54
56. Actually no, they just mentioned another example of privilege that I failed to mention...
be dismissive if you want, that is, after all, your privilege.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:16 AM
Response to Reply #19
44. Yeah, hyperbole
like maybe we get a scrap of actually having more than one national politician be able to come out as an atheist? like not being the most hated minority in the country and know that people in the US would vote for any other minority for office before us? like have to have an organization like Freedom from Religion to stop all the bullshit that the religious want to do?

got privilege?
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Leontius Donating Member (380 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #44
64. Be of good cheer, atheists have moved up,
teabaggers are now the most distrusted and least likely to be voted for now.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:46 PM
Response to Original message
2. I'm touched by your effort to include atheist opinions in this forum.
I'll let you guess just where.


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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. You've been Touched by an Angel?
Did you report it to the authorities?
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:25 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Is that what that was?
Little buggers sting like hell.

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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. You Make Civility and Being "Nice" More Important than Condemning Immorality
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:20 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. If you have a point you arent making a very good effort at explaining it. nm
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. I'm flattered, rug, really, but, no,
I won't go out with you.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. Thank God.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:13 AM
Response to Reply #5
43.  "condemning immorality" takes me back to the good ole days of the Inquisition.
Nothing is more important than "condemning immorality". Makes one feel so superior.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:22 PM
Response to Reply #2
22. Will you show us on a Ken doll? nm
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #22
30. i dun wanna
it made me feel all icky.

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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #2
27. ROFL!
Still, it's not Austin's best writing. I don't think I've ever actually seen an "Uncle Tom" atheist (or is that athiest?) outside of DU. Oh, they do exist here and there, I just think the NAs all too often see "Uncle Toms" where they don't exist.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:28 AM
Response to Reply #27
31. I agree, the term made me wince too.
But you gotta love the effect it has on people like the op.

I swear I can see spittle fleck on the inside of my screen.

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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:06 AM
Response to Reply #27
41. Maybe they should all wear special hats so they can be identified. nm
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:41 PM
Response to Original message
14. This guy is the perfect example of why ORGANIZED atheism is
being seen by many as a hate group, myself included.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Oh, dear. When did we elect Mr. Cline as our collective leader?
Nobody tells me anything.
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Really, why is it a hate group? Please explain. n/t
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:26 PM
Response to Reply #16
24. Yes, it is a secret organization that is trying to get "In God We Trust" off our money.
How will we survive?
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:34 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. "In God We Trust" is divisive and exclusionary, why "e pluribus unum" was replaced...
was simply to contrast us with those damn dirty unbelieving communists. Frankly it was an atrocious decision, both on currency and as the national motto. Yet another example of the hold that Christianity has on our government.
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:46 PM
Response to Reply #26
28. "In God We Trust" also has no meaning. I mean, for what?
It might as well be, "Wish Me Luck!"

--imm
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Humanist_Activist Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:49 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. True n/t
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deacon_sephiroth Donating Member (315 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:42 AM
Response to Reply #28
34. I guess we were trusting him with the economy? Bad move
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:53 AM
Response to Reply #26
39. I agree. nm
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laconicsax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #14
20. Pat Robertson is a perfect example of why organized Christianity is seen as a hate group.
Back to you, humblebum.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #20
32. +1
Brilliant response.
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deacon_sephiroth Donating Member (315 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 01:42 AM
Response to Reply #20
33. slam dunk n/t
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cleanhippie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #20
49. And laconisax for the WIN!
:applause:
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #20
57. Robertson is good
But Bryan Fischer is a worthy successor to the crown. He's like Robertson on steroids.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-24-11 11:24 PM
Response to Reply #14
23. You kill me. Organized Atheism?? Seen by many? Give us some examples
of such organizations and the many that see them as a hate group.
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_ed_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:07 AM
Response to Reply #14
36. Atheists are a group only in the sense that
people that don't believe in astrology or alchemy are a group.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #14
40. Since when is atheism organized?
'Cause I haven't gotten my union card yet.
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #40
42. Maybe you been caught including "under God" in the pledge. Just sayin. nm
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:18 AM
Response to Reply #40
45. Yeah, we've been meaning to talk to you about your membership
but maybe that is better done in private.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #45
47. Honestly, I tried to pay my dues
But I never got the email telling me where to drop the paper sack full of nonsequential small bills.
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cleanhippie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #14
48. *yawn*
:boring:
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #14
50. Blah blah evil atheists blah blah




You're becoming a caricature of yourself.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #14
52. You see organized atheism as a hate group? Really?
Jesus, man, you should let these things be know a little more. Bottling that stuff up just can't be good for you.
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Jim Lane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 03:36 AM
Response to Original message
35. This whole thread lacks serious discussion of the issue of religious privilege.
What should a free society do when some people within it have religious objections to complying with a particular law?

You could take the simplistic course and say "No exceptions! We won't recognize any religion-based objections." The practical result would be infringement on the right of free exercise of religion, often with little or no offsetting benefit to society. Some examples that occur to me offhand:
1) Should Native Americans be allowed to continue a centuries-old practice of using peyote in religious ceremonies, even though other people aren't allowed to use it?
2) Should Orthodox Jewish chaplains in the armed forces be allowed to wear yarmulkes, even though other service members are forbidden to wear headgear other than uniform caps?
3) Should the Amish be allowed to opt out of Social Security, even though other groups that have similar internal arrangements for the elderly and disabled are still required to pay FICA taxes because their arrangements are purely secular?

You could attack each of these rules as giving special privileges to a religious group. For my part, as an agnostic, I don't support them because I'm hoping for "a few scraps dropped from the table of privileged believers" (the motive Cline seems to impute to anyone who disagrees with him). I support them because I think they're fair and reasonable accommodations.

On the other hand, it would be wrong to take the opposite simplistic position and say that no believer should ever be compelled to act against his or her religion. There was a Muslim woman who wanted her driver's license photo to be taken with her wearing a head scarf and veil, so that only her eyes were visible. She said that it was against her religion to show her face to men outside her family. Well, that's too bad for her. She can't get a driver's license, because society's interest in preventing fraud is too important and would be too severely undercut if she were accommodated.

There's a similarity between the yarmulke case and the veil case. In opposition to accommodation, it could be argued that no one is forcing the religious person (Orthodox Jew, Muslim driver) to do without the garment (the yarmulke, the veil). Doing without it, however, would be made the condition for obtaining some governmental benefit (a chaplaincy post, a driver's license).

The correct approach is to weigh the different considerations and to decide on a case-by-case basis. That means that sometimes there will be an accommodation, effectively granting special privileges to one religion and violating the Establishment Clause, while other times there will be no accommodation, effectively burdening one religion and violating the Free Exercise Clause.

These issues can present difficult questions. Ranting about "Uncle Tom" doesn't advance the discussion one iota.
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JoeyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:52 AM
Response to Reply #35
38. He's not talking about reasonable accommodation.
Edited on Tue Oct-25-11 07:55 AM by JoeyT
You'll find very few atheists that are willing to argue against reasonable accommodations for religion. The problem is there aren't a whole lot of reasonable ones. (I'm about as bastardly an atheist as you'll ever find, and I'd actually argue the opposite in your veil example.)

The special privileges the religious demand are usually along the lines of access to other people's children, no questioning of their beliefs, and society remove everything that offends their delicate sensibilities. And anyone that opposes any of that is considered part of evil organized atheism that hates religion.

You can see that on DU too. Anytime someone posts about someone like Robertson or his ilk being a dick, there will be at least three responses that aren't condemning the pastor or his behavior, but griping about how oppressed they are.

Edited to add: I view reasonable accommodation for religion much the same way I view reasonable accommodation for cultural issues. As long as it isn't hurting anyone else, I'm ok with it. The accommodations religious people frequently demand almost always do hurt someone else, though.
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_ed_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:08 AM
Response to Original message
37. It must be so hard being in the 85%+ of Americans who believe
in gods or a god. Beleaguered on all sides by those horrible atheists, insisting on science and reason and all that. Gosh, I hope you can withstand the daily torment...
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rhett o rick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 08:21 AM
Response to Original message
46. So you think Atheists are immoral? nm
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #46
53. No but I think Austin Cline is an asshole.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #53
58. Just because you don't like what he says?
Edited on Tue Oct-25-11 06:33 PM by NMMNG
That's called an ad-hominem attack. But it's typical for you.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #58
59. Lol. "ad-hominem attack. But it's typical for you."
Your fly is open.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #59
61. Why are you looking at my crotch?
:shrug:
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #61
63. Looking for more unintended irony.
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NMMNG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #63
65. And you expect to find it in my crotch?
I don't think my wife would approve, and I know I don't.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
55. I agree with most of that article, but disagree in part about voting...
...and political issue prioritization.

When it comes to voting and politics, whether the issue is personal to me like atheism or not, I believe these things have to be approached strategically. I do vote for the "lesser of two evils" when doing otherwise would advantage the greater of two evils.

The idea that voting for some no-chance-to-win third party candidate "sends a message" is usually wrong. Often a message opposite to the one intended is sent. So far when Democrats have lost 1-2% to Green party candidates in elections, they don't seem to have responded by moving to the left to gain that 1-2%, they've largely moved to the right to try to get votes away from Republicans.

Imagine an anti-slavery Presidential candidate in the days of Lincoln. No matter how right and moral his stance, a candidate who ran on a platform of not only freeing the slaves, but who promoted nothing less than immediate full equality and interracial marriage would have gotten absolutely nowhere, expect perhaps dead. By today's standards Lincoln would be considered a bigot, but his more moderated, less morally pure position achieved far more for blacks than a morally pure politician could have achieved.

There is, of course, a danger in accepting a bad status quo and doing nothing while others say, "the time isn't right yet". The way to avoid that trap, however, is to find avenues where progress is possible, find places where society's comfort zones and be pushed to move one's agenda forward, rather than falling into inaction on one hand or ineffective/counterproductive idealistic purity on the other.
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edhopper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:17 PM
Response to Original message
60. rug post's something he thinks will make atheist look bad
but we like what the article says and agree with it. Asking where it is wrong except in it's tongue in cheek use of a term from another era.


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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-25-11 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #60
62. Oh, Austin is such a tongue in cheek kind of guy.
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