Triggered: All Atheist Conferences Are For White Men Only

triggered boothI once hacked into my mom’s school district BBS account and stayed up all night arguing with the teachers in my town about the death penalty. I identified myself and argued clearly, with facts and reason, while they all grew irrational justice hard-ons and descended into fits of “tough on crime”. My mom, a sixth grade teacher, was pretty furious when she got a phone call from the district’s resident nerd informing her that her daughter had made the night owl teachers “uncomfortable” and “nervous”. Read as: I fucking schooled them and they couldn’t stand it when they found out I was a fifteen year old Leonardo Dicaprio fan in unicorn pajamas. Naturally, the best course of action, was to prevent me ever being able to login again (lasted 3 weeks) because who needs to learn or converse about issues that matter? Not. Fucking. Teachers. That’s who.

I never really came across that sort of fear of debate again until I became Godless Mom. I fully expected it from deeply religious people whose “sincerely held religious beliefs” are routinely, after a feast of roast baby, sacrificed to the Dark Lord around here. I expect it from them. Who I did not expect it from, is fellow atheists. Especially ex-theists.

Previously-godly heathens all have one thing in common: they had to face beliefs they held dear, examine them closely, subject them to rigorous thought experiments and logic, and be brave enough to leave behind their whole world. These are the very types of people I expected would value conversation; dialogue between two people who feel differently about a topic. These types of people are, I had thought, the types that would usher in a new era of open discussion, free thought, and debate.

I was about as right as Marshall Applewhite and the Hale Bopp gang, may they rest in peace.

What I have found to be the truth, instead, is that some ex-theists do value the discussion regarding religious beliefs and their truthfulness, but that’s where their skepticism, willingness to hear new ideas and ability to converse rationally ends. Once you stumble into other topics, like racism, gender equality, foreign policy and immigration, it’s time to shut it the fuck down, retreat to our respective safe spaces and flush the toxic ideas from our system with a marathon of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

I’ve only noticed this getting worse, as every day goes by. There are topics that make my heart pound before I approach them, because I know that someone, somewhere is going to hear me and become hysterical right before the imminent block. No explanations, no need to attempt to change minds, they just block and sob and down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia while stroking their self-esteem mascot, Mr. Thinks-You’re-Great, the stuffed giraffe with a bow-tie.

I was given a link to this blog post today, and that was enough. It’s time to roast Stuart Smalley and his feel-good gang, and tear that fucking padding off their walls.

Before even beginning the actual blog post, “Feminace” says,

Come at me with anything trying to defend Dawkin’s fuck ups, and your comment won’t even make it through moderation.  Come at me with anything accusing SJWs or whatever of trying to take over atheism or forcibly turn everyone into feminists or whatever conspiracy theory you pulled out of your ass, and your comment won’t make it out of moderation. Try to tell me how you don’t see a ‘movement’ or a reason for a movement, and you see where this is going.

In other words, Miss Feminace wants nothing to do with differing opinions. How progressive. She warns that we must check with her comment policy before even thinking of responding, so I did. I found this gem:

You want a place to spew your shit?  Start your own blog, I will happily ignore it.

Cool, Princess Precious. I’m on it. A blog with 26k followers okay with you?

She goes on to warn that,

I want the comment section (when people post, you don’t have to, I love lurkers too) to be a safe/fuckshit free space.

How does calling people fuckshits create a safe space, Eva Braun? Seems to me more like you want your comment section to be a safe space for you to hurl abuse at people who disagree with you.

Who knows, I might let it through just to mock you…and block you.

Ahh. Yep. Not even trying to hide the fact that your feelings and your personal safety online is all that should be considered. No one else’s. You are free to dish out as much bullshit as you want, so long as no one dares to question it. Like the fucking Queen of Hearts, you’re lobbing off the heads of all those who dare to even look at you funny.

I haven’t even touched the meat of the blog post yet, and I’d venture to guess most people didn’t get past the spittle storm preamble. I was inclined to say, “fuck this, you righteous cunt” and click back, but after the week I’ve had, I needed to slay a dragon or two and she was just fucking begging for it.

As more of her personal vendetta against a 74-year old stroke victim became obvious, she rambled on about how little she needs Richard Dawkins,

A lot of us managed to figure out this whole ‘no gods’ thing and/or the evolution thing without touching a single one of this man’s books or hearing him talk. We owe him nothing.

I don’t think I’ve heard any atheist, ever, suggest that atheists as a whole owe Dawkins anything. Some atheists say they, themselves, as individuals, owe their lack of faith to Dawkins. Others, like myself, were atheists before we ever heard of Dawkins and still value the things he has to say, his books and his life’s work. But I have never heard an atheist assert that all atheists are indebted to Dawkins. The only time I’ve heard this, is when someone who has an irrational hate-on for an aging man who wrote a few books, is building straw men to stand guard outside Fort Safe Space.

You know, in light of the re-invite by NECSS, I think the folks in organized atheism really ought to be trying to get involved with actual inclusivity instead of pushing away some of us away by constantly licking the taint of their “Horsemen” because money and/or media exposure.

Events such as this invite men like Dawkins because he has accomplished things. He’s written books that resonate with many atheists. He’s debated the existence of God like a boss. He’s created a vast many more of us heathens and infidels and that’s why he gets invited to give talks. You are being left out, because you’re bitter and hateful and a goon who doesn’t want to entertain differing opinions and who spends her time reinforcing the walls of her echo chamber, rather than accomplishing shit. Why would a conference like this want someone who freely calls Dawkins supporters, fuckshits, but whom will not allow any dissent or debate in her comments section? That’s not promoting conversation, which is the entire point of an atheist con.

These “Horsemen” have worked hard their entire career. None of this was handed to them. If you want to join the ranks of the already diverse group of people who make the rounds at atheist cons (Hemant Mehta, Sarah Haider, Maryam Namazie, etc), you should probably consider dropping the “Off with their heads!” routine and consider getting something, the fuck, done that would add to the atheist conversation. In other words, create a fucking demand for your face to be on that stage.

The fact that you have not been invited to talk at NECSS has nothing at all to do with the colour of your skin and everything to do with the fact that you spend more time telling people what they can’t do in your comment section than you do creating content that people want to share, and discuss and meet the author of. No one wants you there, because you’re a professional victim who’d show up in a trigger-proof-helmet, anti-rape slacks, yielding a bullhorn through which you shriek “fuckshit!” at every white, hetero male who walks by.

And the exclusion of most marginalized people has been so obvious that it’s breathtaking. Why should conferences have to be told to provide childcare like it’s some kind of gift instead of just a fucking given?

Because a convention is a private endeavour. It’s a for-profit one, at that. They are entitled to, and have the obligation to, make the decisions that ensure their profits are high enough to make the entire effort worthwhile. If that means childcare gets cut, then childcare gets cut. The very fact that there are so many atheist cons these days is progress in my opinion, especially in places where an atheist is not the easiest thing to be. All of us have one thing or another that may potentially get in the way of us attending, but most of us do not think it’s up to the conference organizers to fix. Most of us are willing to look inward, take charge of our lives and work it out ourselves.

Why are big name conventions completely out of the realm for anyone below a certain income?

If you want to attend a free atheist event, hit up the Reason Rally. They even provide transportation solutions. Further, if you want to have your costs covered for any of these cons, work your ass off to create a demand for you to be a speaker, then crowdfund it. You’re definitely not going to do that calling everyone fuckshits, though, hun. Just a heads up.

Why do these conventions keep inviting accused rapists and known Islamophobes and anti-feminists?

Because you live in a country that values the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. An accusation of rape does not a rapist make. You are, of course, more than welcome to move to a country where guilt is not a prerequisite for severe punishment, like Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh. Bon voyage.

The ease with which people such as yourself throw out the terms “Islamophobe” and “anti-feminist”, means pretty much everyone who disagrees with you falls into these categories. They are invited, because no one is left in the atheist community who isn’t a fuckshit, an islamophobe, an anti-feminist, or a rapist. Seriously, who is left?

Halal lattesIf you take issue with atheist cons, do what I did when I got kicked off the School Board BBS: create your own. Start your own damned conference. You can make it whatever you want. Maybe every attendee gets a donut cushion for their butthurt and a paper bag to hyperventilate into. The line-ups to get into the safe room might be longer than the women’s bathroom, but in every corner, you can stick a triggered booth, where those who’ve been triggered can pop on a blindfold and headphones and be soothed back to calm while listening to their choice of Enya or Gregorian chanting. All cocktails can come with optional “power shot” of paxil or xanax and lunch can be a buffet of cruelty-free, fair-trade, free-range, Halal and Kosher grey slop so as not to trigger the colorblind. Between the hand-holding booth, the touch-free hug zone and the roaming herd of therapy animals, I am utterly sure it will be a great success.

In the meantime, don’t mind the rest of us putting on conferences that invite people who’ve actually done shit, provoked thought and focused on working hard to expand the reach of the godless conversation.

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  • Virtual Atheist

    Absolutely loved the way you disassembled her ?

    I’d like to add that Richard Dawkins doesn’t get invited to attend/speak at conferences and what have you because he’s an old, white man. He gets invited to speak because he’s fucking good at it!

    Like you, my atheism pre-dates any knowledge of Dawkins’ work and even his existence, but he did and does put my thoughts into words much better than I ever could. This doesn’t make me a slavish follower, merely a like-minded individual.

    Also, unicorn pyjamas? Really? ?

  • I do think atheist conferences could use more people of color and LGBTQ people, and it would be nice if there were more free conventions. (My friend Adam Collins puts on a free online Atheists of Facebook convention every few months. Best part is you don’t even have to leave your house!) Actually, come to think of it, it would be nice of these cons provided free child services.

    But apart from all that, I get what you’re saying. A few weeks ago I interviewed Mandisa Thomas (very nice person, btw) for my podcast, and she said she gets frustrated when Salon writes, “Where are all the atheists of color?” and Mandisa’s like, “Um, did you all not do your homework? Black Nonbelievers has been going on for five years now!” And even though I’m not a Dawkins fan, I give him credit for starting a lot of conversations about atheism and science.

    Now when it comes to “safe spaces,” I think atheist cons should be safe from harassment and assault. Call me an SJW, but I like to think nobody wants to be either harassed or assaulted, right? Where I draw the line is when controversial conversations are automatically shut down. I mean, I’m a total feminist, so I think we need to talk about sexism and misogyny, even if the atheist community (not to say all atheists are misogynists; just that you can find misogynists in any community and we need to call it out). However, what I’d like to see are feminists and anti-feminists talk to each other like grown ups. Then maybe we can finally do something about sexism and misogyny, right?

    (Of course in my experience, I’m usually the one willing the engage in a conversation, while the anti-feminists just want to shut me down. *shrugs*)

    • Virtual Atheist

      And I reply bullshit!

      Atheism is about a religious position, nothing less and – more importantly – nothing more.

      If one wants a platform to speak out on social justice issues that one finds important, fine… Just don’t subjugate the atheism platform to do it. All that will do is water down the message that atheists are attempting to put across by muddying the waters with separate and UNCONNECTED issues.

      We all saw the cluster fuck that A+ turned into, and the way it managed to alienate whole swathes of supporters of the ‘Atheist Community’.

  • Teresa Wadman

    All that other blogger has to do is disable her comments section. If she wants to write without worrying about possible dissent, then disable the comments.

    As for Prof. Dawkins, he’s a mixed bag just like anyone else. I do credit him with piling that last straw on my religious camel’s back, but I spend a fair amount of time facepalming at his clumsiness on Twitter.

    I have a mixed view on safe spaces. I think they should exist in kinda out-of-the-way bubbles for people to duck into for a respite before going back out into the real world. But I don’t think the real world should be basically divided into various safe spaces that impede the free flow of ideas and communication. Put your safe spaces in a nice house somewhere, but don’t block Main Street with them. Granted, that woman’s personal blog may have been her own personal safe space, but she needs to understand that she won’t be getting much of Main Street’s traffic as a result.

    Meh, just my own ramblings on that. Love your post as always. 🙂

  • Durinn McFurren

    1. This is absolutely hilarious.
    2. My blog is miniscule, and rarely gets comments, but I always approve them, whether I agree with them or not. The only way I’d not approve one would be if I thought it was an attempt to call on people to, I don’t know, kill some specific person or something.