I’m not even sure if I really want to post this. It’s going up for now, may get removed later.
First it was the “brights”, people trying to push for a new name that was blatantly insulting to those not part of it. Then it was the no true scottsman / no true skeptic calls from the atheist communities against skeptics who also happened to be [gasp] theists! Now, it’s rebeccagate, and the vile and hate that just won’t die down due to it.
Sometimes I’m not really all that sure if I even want to be part of the skeptic community.
The “brights” I can cover quite quickly. The idea was a word that indicated light, clarity etc. However it’s also a synonym for intelligence e.g. “He’s a really bright kid”. So to call your group “brights”, whether intentioned or not, whether you want it to or not, does in fact suggest that those who are not part of that group are unintelligent. It’s an insult in and of itself, making it a horrible name to use for a group/community.
Personally, I think the best way to go is to just reclaim the words “skeptic” and “atheist” as part of each community, let it be shown that we are good caring people who for the most part just want to help everyone else, and are no different from the rest of the community. Remove the demonism both words and titles have, that is the way to go when it comes to naming the respective communities.
Atheism & Skepticism overlap. I’ve actually blogged on this in the past. When I first discovered the skeptic community, one of the greatest catch cries doing the rounds at the time was the line “Everyone has a golden calf, except me”. It was a joke to indicate that every single person in the world has something they believe in irrationally, and if you can’t think of yours then it’s because it is yours. Others can see it, you can’t.
I took the line to indicate inclusiveness. Just because someone may have one area they’re mistaken/deluded about doesn’t mean they should be shunned. I loved it.
Then the atheist community decided to invade not long later, all of a sudden many skeptics who were also theists started feeling shunned, abused, as though they had to hide. What happened to this golden calf saying? Can these people not see the blatant “no true scottsman” fallacies in their calls that “all skeptics should also be atheists, otherwise they’re not really skeptics”? Yes, I have heard that said numerous times word for word.
The topic of theism and theists should by no means be faux pas in skepticism, but we should be more respectful of the people. Go for the topic, not the person. Be accepting that for this person it is their golden calf, and keep discussions to specific claims of theism – not just “you’re an idiot if you’re a theist” as I’ve seen so many times before.
Finally, elevatorgate. It all spawned from one small easily missed comment and as we can see from this post by Rebecca has ballooned in to daily emails of hatred, stalking, sites dedicated to talk against her. At first I was just surprised by the number of people who almost seemingly wanted to take comments from her and those trying to defend her out of context. Analogies taken literally instead of as, you know, analogies. Comments cherry picked just as spectacularly as AiG, and the outright vitriol. Hatred, and petty abuse.
All this because there’s one situation where certain people may be uncomfortable, and one person (Rebecca) simply wanted to let others who may not be aware know that this situation can actually be uncomfortable for those certain people.
You may have noticed my involvement in skepticism drop off this year. To be perfectly honest, this is why. As I said up the top, I’m just finding it harder and harder to want to be involved in the skeptical community.