Friday, June 12, 2009

The Atheist Experience's disjointed thinking about abortion propaganda

By now you may have heard of James von Brunn, the racist fanatic and Holocaust denier who snapped and shot up the Holocaust Memorial in Washington DC, killing one guard. I'm certain that most atheists around the country and in the UK (if they heard about this in the UK; it hasn't lasted nearly as long in the news cycle as the recent gratifying death of a certain baby-murderer, big surprise) are horrified at how evil and nasty this act was and how evil and nasty this man was . Interestingly, it turns out von Brunn hated something besides Jews. Christianity and the Bible.

Reminds me something the Atheist Experience recently said with respect to the role propaganda played in Tiller the Killer's murder. Ask yourself if you've ever heard some seriously strident, vicious, and hateful propaganda has been directed recently, from high-profile atheists like Hitchens, Harris, and Dick Dawk, at Christianity. No doubt various of my atheist readers, who were quick to call 'hypocrisy', will join me in condemning the Atheist Experience's hypocrisy here.

Everyone has a breaking point. I don’t care who you are. You have one. Seriously, let’s say you sincerely believed your neighbor was mass murdering children in his home. You call the cops, frantic, and explain to them that he’s torturing and killing young children—you’re absolutely sure of it! But the dispatcher just says, “Yeah--that's totally his right. We really don’t come out for things like baby killings." You keep calling back. Surely they didn’t understand you the first fifty times you called? But the response is always the same. And here you are, on the phone, wasting time, while the monster next door is killing more and more innocent children! What do you do?!

If this was actually happening, and you knew it, and nobody was stopping this killer, at what point—if out of nothing more than pure altruism (if there is such a thing?)—would you finally say, "I don't care if I die for this or go to prison for the rest of my life—someone has to do the right thing and stop this monstrous freak!"

Groups like the 4 new atheist Horsemen, who make a point of publicly labeling Christians as child abusers and slaves of a murderous, horrible God. And maybe it’s just me—but if someone actually is going around abusing children and enslaving others to commit deeds I think are bad—I don’t think I would be “shocked” that someone stepped up and killed that person. So, why would atheists express “shock,” if they know this Christians are child abusers? Are they “shocked” that by labeling such a person a “child abuser,” that someone might think he should be stopped by any means necessary? I mean, would it shock you if you believed what they believe? What, exactly, do they think happens when you whip up masses of (often already emotionally driven) people with something like that?

We’re all supposed to play along, I guess, that they never expected anything like this to happen as a result of merely calling someone something so benign and harmless as “a child abuser and genocidal maniac”? Who would have thought people would be all “up in arms,” literally, and excited over something like that? Apparently not the Atheist Experience. But I think most other people could have seen it coming light years away. And I can’t really bring myself to play along that atheists like these would be “shocked.”

I have a saying when someone asks me to believe obvious garbage. I say, “Either you’re stupid—or you think I am.” And like most people, I don’t appreciate it when someone, or in this case some blog, communicates to me like I’m an idiot. It doesn’t upset me, but I find it hard to play along. No, atheists and especially Atheist Experience and Dick Dawk, you’re not shocked. Please stop pretending, and have your victory celebration unapologetically.

I guess that would result in some really crappy P.R. But, still, how refreshing to see some noble honesty for once?

“Mass child abuse." There's the trigger. Pun not intended, but wholly (unholy?) appropriate in this case.

Most people agree with rule of law. If they didn’t we’d have far more chaos than we do. But I don’t think there is anyone who does not understand that at some point, we would all be willing to defy the law in order to do something we consider morally necessary.

Yes, it’s cliche’, but I’m going to use an example from Nazi Germany until a better example comes along—which will, hopefully, be never. But, if I lived in Nazi Germany—I hope I would not turn someone in if I knew they were a hiding Jew. I hope I would, like I hope many of you would, end up breaking the law, and maybe even dying, myself, or potentially killing someone, to protect others from people I view as utterly wrong and dangerous. So, it's no “shock” to me, and probably not to you, either, that if you whip up huge numbers of fundamentalist-thinking people with things like "genocidal God-worshiping child abusers" you're going to get not a few individuals (I'm surprised they don’t get more) who go ape and fly completely off the rails in the worst way.

I don't think the Atheist Experience crosses a line against free speech—such as someone who might say, "Somebody needs to put a bullet in these Christians. Can I interest you in further details?" would be doing; but, when they try to divorce themselves from a natural—and, let’s be honest here, pretty predictable—consequence of their influence—that's where I want to cry "hypocrite." Not “foul.” Not “lock you up for what you said.” But “Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid—that did not shock you.” In fact, if it shocked any one of you, you don’t get out enough.

This isn’t a video game about killing Christians. This isn’t a music CD about killing Christians. This is a group of real human beings calling other real human beings “child abusers”, and a group of real human beings calling a real God "genocidal egomaniac" and then saying they can’t believe that simply being consistently and publicly labeled as a “child abuser” would make someone want to kill you. I mean, he was just a child abuser - nothing to get all worked up about and start shooting people.

Really? Can’t imagine how an agenda of working nonstop to convince (many already deluded) people that these Christians are child abusers, could result in someone getting hurt?

Are you stupid, or do you think I am?

What’s sad, though, is that if they were really shocked—then this man killed for some mysterious agenda. “Shocked” means you don’t really think what he was doing was something a person might kill another person over. And that means you don’t believe Christians are mass child abusers, because who wouldn’t expect a mass child abuser might be, himself, killed by someone one day? So, what is going on over at the Atheist Experience, where they aren’t at all responding like they believed they are mass child abusers? What if they had some other, ulterior motive—and these Christians end up as collateral damage for some superficial propaganda blitz? That would really be hosed up, wouldn’t it?

But—other than their inexplicable, “shocked” reaction—why would anyone think the Atheist Experience wouldn't be sincere about their claims that Christians are committing mass child abuse, unhindered within our own borders?

Well, here’s my theory: If these atheists truly believed what they say they are convinced of, then child abuse in Christian homes is probably the largest, mass child abuse ring in history. I’m going to assert that these atheists would all be shooting Christians. And, I would hope that if I really, truly, sincerely believed there were millions of mass child abusers on the loose and nobody was stopping them—that just maybe I would courageously do the same thing—if I really believed it. Of course, if I just wanted to emotionally manipulate a huge bunch of people, and I didn’t really believe or care about what I was saying, then I’d be doing exactly what the Atheist Experience does—taking my time in courts, standing on corners with signs, taking people’s money, telling them who to vote for, and watching them hang on my every recommendation as I play on their fear and hate.

The fact that groups like the Atheist Experience stop short of reaching the, not only logical, but obvious conclusion of what needs to be done if their claims are believed—and human children are being abused in droves—demonstrates to me, or to anyone, a lack of genuine belief in their own propaganda. I think, like most religious views, they "believe" it in some weird way on some odd, superficial level where it hits emotional response (and, I mean, come on, how easy is that?), but doesn’t ever sink down into thought centers, where it would normally ruminate and ferment into a more cohesive and fully formed “idea”—with actual implications and repercussions and consequences. But they obviously don't believe it on that sort of level—on the sort of level where any real, proportional “action” would necessarily follow—as I would expect action to follow if any real, thinking human being believed unhindered mass child abuse was happening unabated?!

Where is the courage of conviction here?

Where is any conviction here?

What the hell do these people honestly believe?


Chris (from Oz) said...

Your post isn't totally without merit Rho. Interesting.

However, I will note:

1. Pointing out one particular person (Tiller) is difference from pointing out a group of people (Christian child abusers in general). About the closest figurehead you could consider would be the Pope. He's pretty well protected though.

2. Pointing out a particular person isn't the same as pointing out a deity, since even if he does exist it's unlikely an atheist can murder him.

3. There's a difference between child abuse and murder. Even if you had the same group of people, telling them someone's a murderer is more likely to get them to respond violently than if they're a child abuser.

4. There are levels of child abuse. And although your god has a "one punishment fits all" approach to justice, atheists don't necessarily agree.

5. The audiences aren't the same. Like it or, there are more nutbags willing to kill for what they believe in on the theist side than there are on the atheist side. The Fox personalities who were calling Tiller a baby killer should be smart enough to have more restraint than is required by the Atheist Experience. (Although the Atheist Experience actually show the more restraint anyway).

Rhology said...

Well, thanks, and welcome back!

1. The difficulty of the task should not dissuade someone who really believes this massive evil is going on. What do you really believe?

2. Shrug. Sure, OK.

3. But there are millions upon millions of us! And many of them will go on to abuse their own children! It's a vicious cycle. Heroic atheists like Martin Wagner are needed to change this.
Also, who gets treated worse in prisons, just out of curiosity? Murderers? Or child molesters?

4. What a foolish and ignorant thing to say about God's punishment. Accurate critiques aren't your cup of tea, eh?
Dick Dawk certainly made it sound like what we do is pretty bad. Take it up with him.

5. there are more nutbags willing to kill for what they believe in on the theist side than there are on the atheist side.-

There are? You realise that in 36 years since Roe V Wade, exactly 8 aborticians have been killed? 8. Not 80. Not 800.
Where's your evidence for that?

-Fox personalities who were calling Tiller a baby killer-

They didn't go far enough. He was a baby murderer. It's a significant difference.


I invite anyone to read the AthExp post and see how restrained the author's language is.


NAL said...

James von Brunn murdered a black man. James von Brunn hates blacks. I've seen nothing on AE's site that even hints that AE hates blacks or thinks that the death of the black security officer is a "gratifying death".

Chris (from Oz) said...

1. Killing someone isn't going to help the rest of the kids, even if it helps a few. You've got to kill a lot of molesters relative to the number of kids you help, compared to the similar ratio with Tiller. That's if you want to talk numbers. There's also how comfortable you are with murdering people....

3. The number of child abusing Christians there are just makes the job of fixing the problem that much harder, no matter what your "fix" is. And atheists are more likely to be pragmatic than idealistic. Yeah, I suppose comparing murder with child abuse is a quite subjective thing.

4. I said God has a "one size fits all" approach to justice, and you reponded "What a foolish and ignorant thing to say about God's punishment." I'm curious - do you disagree with what I said, or just the way I said it ? I thought that every non-Christian goes to hell, whether the worst thing you've done in your life is told one lie, or whether you're Hitler. Do you agree or disagree ? Do you believe in levels of hell ?

5. You ask for my evidence that there are more homocidal nutbags on the theist side than the atheist ? Your numbers prove my point. 8 Abortionists have been killed, presumably by theists (I didn't check). How many were killed by atheists ? Notice in my original point I didn't give a figure. Just "more". Would 80 be "more" where 8 wouldn't ?


NAL said...


If these atheists truly believed what they say they are convinced of, then child abuse in Christian homes is probably the largest, mass child abuse ring in history. I’m going to assert that these atheists would all be shooting Christians.

However, there are different types and degrees of child abuse. The punishment should fit the crime. If it's not a crime there should be no punishment. Not all child abuse is a crime, and reasonable people can differ on what they consider abuse.


I’m going to assert that these atheists would all be shooting Christians.

And there you have it. Since Rho is an absolutist, he envisions atheists are the same. Since most atheists are not absolutists, they tend not to think of themselves as above the law. It would never occur to an absolutist that he could be wrong.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Regarding your "abortion is murder" views, you may be interested in reading this book chapter - it's longish, but should only take a few mins and is worth reading all the way through to highlight that the position you've adopted on when human life begins is hardly objective, nor has it always been accepted by the church, as well as varying radically through other societies and religious texts - additionally, in contradiction to the website you linked to before assuring us that life begins at fertilisation, it's clear that even scientific views vary substantially on the matter as the chapter lists 5 or 6 different scientific viewpoints.

The 2nd part under "metabolic view" is probably closest to my own POV and is similar to points I have posted in previous threads, in that I think trying to define life as a discrete point is an exercise in futility:

Another slightly different though similar position maintains that the argument over when a new human life begins is irrelevant because the development of a child is a smoothly continuous process. Discrete marking points such as the fourteen day dividing line between a zygote and an embryo are entirely artificial constructions of biologists and doctors in order to better categorize development for academic purposes. This position is supported by recent research that has revealed that fertilization itself is not even an instantaneous event, but rather a process that takes 20-22 hours between the time the sperm penetrates the outermost layers of the egg and the formation of a diploid cell (Kuhse 1988).

Dr Funkenstein said...

Would probably have been helpful if I'd remembered to put the link in that previous post...

Dr. Freud said...

What might best resonate with Alan is the idea of "quickening," which was in Puritan times the measure of when an abortion was allowable (and it was). Wiki has a short entry thus:

I find interesting also the old Jewish formula for understanding when a fetus becomes a distinct creature.

Rhology said...

I'd say my biggest problem with placing the boundary between not-human/human anytime after conception is that, every time I've seen it, it comes down to what the fetus can DO. But humanity is not based on doing at all. It's ontology, not performance.

Dr. Freud said...

But of course, you must admit that this is your modern interpretation of when life begins. It seems that Jewish scholars of the Bibilical age would have been more interested in the point at which the fetus is recognizably human (which also opens up some interesting questions regarding a deformed fetus) and in the case of the Puritans, when the child is "quickened." Thus, the definition of "life" is seen as having developed over time, and has never been a black-and-white issue, as some would have us believe.

Rhology said...

Isn't quickening based on performance, though?

And there are plenty of deformed people in the world and in history - was the Elephant Man not-human?

Dr. Freud said...

Indeed, but that quickening (or "performance") is what earlier Christians used to determine the beginning of life, just as the Jews used "perfectly formed" (perhaps "fully human" would be a better translation). Why is your belief that life begins at the moment of conception to be relied upon instead of these previous understandings of Christians and their Jewish forebears?

Rhology said...

It's all about the arguments, not about the authority.

Dr. Freud said...

Ah. Mental gymnastics. Intellectual masturbation. Got it.

Dr Funkenstein said...

I'd say my biggest problem with placing the boundary between not-human/human anytime after conception is that, every time I've seen it, it comes down to what the fetus can DO. But humanity is not based on doing at all. It's ontology, not performance.

I thought the problem was with living vs non-living more so than human vs non-human (since most of the points centre on the premise of 'when does life begin') - presumably if it was declared that in human reproduction life began at eg fertilisation, then any fertilised egg would be considered human by extension of being defined as living in the first instance.

Obviously if the argument is living vs non-living, then performance is quite an important variable (since recently deceased people may well be described as humans, but obviously not described as alive due to lack of heartbeat, breathing, brain activity etc) - especially as 'performance' is also a very important factor when assessing other divisive right-to-life issues, such as assisted suicide/consented euthanasia, switching of life support for people in a permanent vegetative state etc

Rhology said...

Dr Freud apparently doesn't appreciate the value of actual backing argumentation to support one's points. Maybe we should just all bow down to his obvious brilliance.

Dr Funk,
I've never heard the issue framed that way, honestly. Have you encountered those who think the one-day-old zygote is not living? I always thought the pro-baby-murder crowd argued that this is not a human life.

Dr. Freud said...

I've given you a perfect chance to explain why your reasoning about the beginning of life is superior to the reasoning that led to a different understanding by our religious forebears. As usual, you respond with ad hominem attacks at the point at which your argument breaks down. 'Twas ever thus. I'd be perfectly okay with an answer such as "I believe that life is so very sacred that we should never stand in its way or attempt to influence it." Of course, I think that if you go that far, you have some serious re-thinking to do in re birth control and the death penalty. But by all means, go ahead and be pugnacious and, therefore, irrelevent.