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No two ways about it October 25, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends, issues, rants.
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13 comments

Fred finally got to read the post I wrote about his homophobia, and as expected, he didn’t like what I had to say. He confronted me, demanding an apology.

Fred: “First, I talk to you on the assumption that what I share to you is kept between us, and sorry, but I find what you’ve said to be rather condescending.”

Basically, he didn’t like it when I called him out on his homophobic bullshit on his blog, and now he doesn’t like it that I called him out on his homophobic bullshit on my blog. He also called me a bigot for the way I write about him on this blog, and said that I was also “rude and disrespectful” towards him.

Well, go ahead. Call me self-righteous and condescending and whatever you damn well please, because I probably am, but if we continue to be tolerant of that idiotic “homosexuality is a choice” mentality, then when will the bigotry end? So no, Fred, I don’t respect your opinion and you can’t make me, because I won’t stop bitching until people treat gays with the respect they deserve.

He also blamed me for bringing up the actual topic with him and confronting him on it, because he supposedly didn’t want to talk about it with me.

Fred: “I tried to back down so many times, because I didn’t want to talk about it. I knew you were sensitive to that crap, and I knew you’d disagree with whatever I have to say.”

See, now who’s being condescending?

Fred: “It would’ve been fine with me had you not taken my opinion like shit. You never did respect my opinions when I disagree with you.”

We jumped right back into the debate, because Fred claims I misunderstood him the last time.

Fred: “Look, this stems from the difference in belief of what you and me see people as. From what I could tell, you see people as a bunch of chemicals just thrown together to make meat that moves. I see people as a being of will. Above the capacity of one’s own physical brain, humans have a will, and I believe that a person’s will is the only limitation he has in anything. See, serial killers are people who kill a bunch of people for arbitrary reasons, without direct benefit from the act of murder; so, to many psychologists, serial killers are known to have parts of their brain that just make them go that way. You know that, right? Now, would you argue that a serial killer just kills people because he’s been born with an extra large adrenal gland, or because he lacks the will to control his deficiencies?”
TA: “The latter; but see, I find it hilarious that you’re comparing gay sex to murder.
Fred: “Then there’s no point in reasoning out any further.”
TA: “Allow me to repeat myself: who do gay men hurt when they’re fucking? Humankind? See, here are my basic rules: if no one else is getting hurt, then what’s the problem?”
Fred: “Well, that’s your belief, and I’ve no right to question as much, but it’s not the act of having sex that bothers me, it’s their being homosexual in the first place, because as can be observed, MOST homosexuals arise from trauma, and I believe that it’s weakness for one to simply resort to homosexuality. It’s kind of the same as depression, or suicidal tendencies.”

So, you don’t mind the gay sex part, just that they’re actually being gay, because homosexuality is…a mental illness? Wow, that’s much less offensive!

I actually do believe that human beings are of will, too, but I don’t think gayness is something you have to exercise control or will over. Because it’s not wrong.

Fred: “Okay, in being gay, it is only wrong if it is an exhibition of past trauma. There. That’s it. Otherwise, you can have whatever you wish.”
TA: “Wow. do you blame rape victims for experiencing PTSD too?”
Fred: “Sure.”

Then I just laughed in his face, and he called me an ass. Honestly, is there anything I could possibly say to make him look worse than he does? He does a pretty good job of it himself!

Fred: “I’m very much inclined to reason, and simple reason dictates that what I believe is true, it takes something else to believe in what you believe in.”

“Reason.” Heh-heh. (And rationalists all over the world weep at the misuse of this term.) It’s reasonable to not have any respect for gay people. Oh wait — Fred doesn’t dislike all gay people, only the ones who experienced some form of trauma when they were younger.

TA: “What’s the point of all this then? Why did you confront me? What do you want me to do?”
Fred: “Have a little tact?”

[Note: This is hilarious coming from Fred, because he’s one of the most obnoxious people I know. He’s the kind of guy who likes to rub it in my face that Kurt Cobain sucks, just because he knows I’m a Nirvana fan. (What?)]

TA: “I think you’re a bigot, as do my readers. I’m just being honest, dude, because I find your views outrageous.”
Fred: “Well, you shouldn’t have posted it there in the first place.”
TA: “Why not? It’s my blog!”
Fred: “Because I like to keep my opinions to myself, and those who I entrust them to.”
TA: “I’m glad I posted it, because I think that people need to know that this way of looking at things is wrong, and it’s hurtful to gay people.”

He then went on a tirade on how I was wrong to be “thinking in absolutes,” in that there is an actual right and wrong in this debate, instead of respecting the opinion that gay people who couldn’t overcome their past traumas are weak.

Still, of all the dumb things he’s said in this exchange, this has got to be one of the funniest:

TA: “Have you read the sources that Martin posted? From the American Psychological Association? You think the APA are bullshitters, too?”
Fred: “If they’re not in paper, they’re not worth reading.”
TA: “It’s the bloody APA, read it before you talk to me.”
Fred: “And, please, that’s America.”
TA: “And so?”
Fred: “Everyone in America is touchy-feely with everything.”
TA: “You’re discrediting the APA because they’re touchy-feely? Nice rebuttal!”

Seriously. He claims to be making his arguments on “reason,” when the only basis he has for them is anecdotal. I’ve got sources from a national association of psychologists, and their opinion is worth shit because they’re touchy-feely?

Fred: “Fine then, I discredit them as the society and culture in their nation pressures them to believe in such. And I never said I wanted you to believe in what I have to say, that’s why I didn’t even want to talk to you about this.”
TA: “I know, you wanted me to ‘have some tact.’ Well, I’m sorry, but there’s no being tactful about this, because I hate how gay people are treated. They have it nearly as bad as atheists.”
Fred: “You’re too close-minded about being open-minded.”

He’s upset because I’m supposedly making him out to be this evil, fag-murdering monster on my blog, when really, I haven’t said anything that makes him look worse than he is. All I did was cut-and-paste his quotes to my blog.

He insists that the way he thinks is okay because he treats gay people the same as everybody else. I likened that to the way my parents treat me: They don’t openly hate on my atheism, except for the occasional backhanded comments, and they clearly believe me to have no sense of values. It’s not as bad as some people, but it’s still very offensive to me.

Fred: “If I would find out that a person resorts to homosexuality as a means of escaping something in his mind, then that’s something I don’t like about him.”

TA: “How is what you’re doing to gay people NOT like what my parents are doing to me?”

Fred: “Does that matter?”

TA: “Yes, because they’re prejudiced, and so are you.”

Fred: “You’re forcing it that I prejudize [sic].”

TA: “Well, you haven’t proven me wrong, have you? Or do you think my parents aren’t being prejudiced towards me?”

Fred: “I don’t think they’re as prejudiced as you see them, and whatever prejudice they have for you, you’re doing the same to me.”

TA: “Are. They. Prejudiced?”

Fred: “In aspects, yes.”

TA: “Then so are you.”

Fred: “But it’s more of a no, really.”

I laughed. I laughed out loud, and I also wanted to kick his teeth in, because what he just said was both hilarious and upsetting. It’s more of a “no?”

This is why I blog about you, Fred. Because if I let this mentality slide, then people will think it’s okay to group homosexuals in with depressives and serial killers. People will think it’s okay to secretly dislike fags and atheists, just as long as you treat them normally. Well, it’s not. I do believe there’s an absolute right in this debate, and it is this: acceptance. And not just pretending you accept them, but really believing them to be as human and normal as the rest of us.

Yes, I could probably have handled this with a little more tact, but this issue is something that I take to heart, and there are really no two ways about it — it angers me that people continue to think this way. Maybe you’re right, Fred, and I am being “just as bigoted and prejudiced” towards you as you are to gay people, but guess what? Ethnic minorities didn’t gain acceptance until people stood up and said “It’s NOT okay to hate.” So I’m not going to accept your opinion, and I’m not sorry for being “rude” and “tactless.” The occasion called for it.

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Free magic show after the service! October 20, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, backstory, family, friends.
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8 comments

Remember when I mentioned how I went with a friend to their Protestant worship service and enjoyed it? And how, afterwards, my parents had banned me from ever visiting a Protestant mass again, in fear of my possible conversion? That happened about five years ago, and I’d always been secretly resentful of their narrow-mindedness with regards to that issue.

“I don’t care if you had a good time!” Dad had asserted. “The Holy Mass is not supposed to be a party!” (Yeah, because God forbid we actually enjoy praising Jesus. Singing and clapping is far too sinful, and don’t even think about air-conditioning. Air-conditioners are a work of the devil.)

Fast-forward three years, when I was still a believer, but increasingly unhappy with being a Roman Catholic. I’d finally mustered up the determination to have another whack at Protestantism, although I wasn’t ballsy enough to tell my parents. Instead, I went on a movie outing with some friends one Saturday, and then secretly accompanied one Protestant friend to their worship service.

Once again, I had a much better time there than I did in Catholic mass, and I even got a little teary-eyed while singing (damn you, Christian rock!), because I was going through this whole angsty “God loves me more than my parents do” phase. After all, when you’re starved for affection, your imaginary friend will never let you down.

That wasn’t the interesting part, however. The good stuff happened after the service, when the pastor/facilitator/whatchamacall’em asked the “newcomers” to stand up. I did, along with five or so other people who were within my age range, and we were all herded into a white room in the back where we were served refreshments. (Insert appropriate “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!” joke here.)

We gathered in a circle as the pastor prayed to welcome the new sheep to the flock, or something like that. After the prayer, he notices a girl sitting sadly in the corner. He draws attention to her, all “Hello, and you are?” with a big ol’ smile, and asks her what’s wrong. She tells us about a condition that had rendered her legs useless since childhood.

Now here’s the good part: a couple of men prop the paralyzed girl up and hold her by the arms while the pastor lays a hand on her forehead and mumbles some unintelligible hocus-pocus. The girl starts sobbing and praying too, and then the pastor takes both her hands and oh my God she’s jumping up and down with him! Just like they do on television!

I didn’t know what to think, but I was scared shitless. Even though at that point, I was still pretty sure that there was a God (or hoping there was one, anyway), I already had my doubts about the genuineness of the “miracle” I’d just witnessed. The whole thing gave off a huge “Lookie what we can do! Aren’t we awesome and powerful?” vibe to me, and I remember thinking, “Good Lord, do they orchestrate this shit every time new people show up?”

Hell, even my fundie brother Pete, who is the kind of guy who would remind me endlessly about “Don’t use God’s name in vain” whenever I went “OMGZ,” didn’t buy it. Back then, we used to be best friends (yeah, rejection still hurts, y’all), so I told him about my Finding Jesus adventure and the girl who could walk again, and he was all, “They’re probably faking it to impress the new people.”

If I ever consider trying Protestantism again, I’m going to show up in a wheelchair.

This Christmas, part 2 October 16, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, family, issues, rants, teen angst.
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21 comments

[This Christmas, Part 1 is here.]

Just when I thought I was running out of things to blog about, Mother Dearest proves herself to be a goldmine of material. Thanks, Mom!

For a while now, I was under the assumption that my parents and I had reached a detente, since they hadn’t brought up the subject of my non-belief with me, and they were even nice enough to buy me lots of pretty, shiny things the past couple of weeks. As it turns out, Mom was just waiting to spring it upon me.

I was having a Sunday buffet lunch with the ‘rents, and as Dad left the table to get some sushi, Mom brought up Christmas once again.

“So, what are your plans for Christmas? You know, since you’re an atheist and all?”

I think I’ve now mastered the look of concealed contempt and exasperation. You know the way Ryan the (Former) Temp from The Office looks at the camera when Michael Scott is being his usual moronic self? Where Ryan’s face is almost blank, but you can see the “Oh, Jesus,” in his eyes alone? Not like Jim Halpert, though, because the way Jim looks at the camera is far too obnoxious. Ryan is much more subtle. Anyway, that’s probably what my face looked like the moment my mother mentioned Christmas.

Remembering what some of you had told me, I explained to my mother that some atheists still celebrate Christmas. “It actually started as a pagan holiday that the Christians appropriated for themselves.”

Mom gave me this incredulous look, like, Is she serious? These heathens are STEALING our Christian holiday!

“Yeah,” she retorted, “but you know where CHRISTmas comes from!”

(Well, yeah, Mom, I just explained it to you. Here’s your sign.)

As tempted as I was to shove my lasagna into her face to shut her up, I just dropped the subject. There’s really no point in arguing with these people. Like I said, you can’t explain logic to a believer. (Is Mother Dearest considered a fundamentalist even if she doesn’t go to Church anymore, and has gay friends? She makes fun of her gay friends behind their back, though. As they do with a lot of other groups.)

Dad had returned to the table as I resignedly mumbled, “I’ll just hang out with some friends for Christmas.”

“But all your friends are Christian.”

“I have some atheist friends.” This is a loose reference to Martin and Gab, a couple of dudes I’ve never met outside of the internets. (Although they now know what I look like, gee thanks for stalking, Gab. :P) I’m not even sure how serious you two are about meeting me for Christmas, but either way, I’m not wasting it at home when my own family doesn’t even want me there.

Mom finally shut up, but the luncheon was already kind of ruined and I’d lost my appetite. I absent-mindedly poked at my fruit salad while they finished their uni sushi (good God, uni sushi looks like sushi that’s been puked on).

We spent the rest of the day at the bookstore, where I bought a couple of Rolling Stone issues; the clothing store, where they got me some boxers (I have a Miller Lite one that says “Beer Delivery Guy” on the ass. I don’t know why I find this amusing, but I do); and finally, the supermarket, where I stocked up on baking goods and saw this hot thirtysomething Indian guy who looked like Hemant Mehta (who is also a very fine specimen, and pretty please pose nakey for that Skepdudes calendar kthnx ilu). I don’t know why, but most of my hot guy sightings only happen at supermarkets. Not that I’m complaining, but I really should go shopping more.

In the car, Mother Dearest continued to prod me on my non-belief. I have no idea why she always chooses the car for these irritating conversations. Probably because there’s no way of escaping.

“Did these atheist friends of yours come from that secular high school we sent you to?” she asked, already sort of hinting that she regretted sending me there if that’s where I got my beliefs from.

“No, they’re from [Dream College], actually.”

“Then where did you meet them?”

I had to maneuver my way out of answering “I met them online,” because that sounds kind of seedy, somehow, what with all the child molester stories floating around. “Um, friend of a friend,” I replied. Which is sort of true. They have a friend who hit on my friend who had a thing with my other friend. Yeah.

That silenced her for a moment, but desperate for more ways to bash my atheism and scare me back to Christianity, she asked, “Don’t they require a baptismal certificate at [Dream College]?”

“No, Mom,” I replied, now bored and annoyed. Since this was going to be a long car ride, I busied myself by thinking about how this whole conversation would sound on my blog, heh-heh, and leafing through a Rolling Stone article on Judd Apatow. (I can’t believe they didn’t feature that on the cover! I almost didn’t buy the issue because it had Amy fucking Winehouse as the cover girl!)

“Well, I can’t encourage your atheism because I don’t know much about it, but I think it is very important to have a belief. It is religion that teaches us moral values, like humility [says my elitist mother who doesn’t even approve of me going to Dream College because the people there aren’t smart enough], generosity [says my mother who hates beggars, won’t even make eye contact with them and God forbid one of them even touches the hem of her garment, she’d go apeshit. I would give them money myself, but my parents actually scolded me. “Don’t encourage them,” they’d said] and kindness [says my mother who’s taking Christmas away from me because I’m a heathen atheist]. I don’t know what values you learn from atheism, and it makes me very sad that you’ll be growing up without a moral compass.”

At this point, I was more interested in the life story of Judd Apatow than in my mother’s bone-headed arguments. I could have gone into a long-winded rebuttal about the golden rule, and Maher’s classic “I won’t slaughter you, and don’t take my shit,” but again, not saying anything is the fastest way to get her to shut her piehole. I know this from experience.

It’s sad, though, how we atheists are always written off as being soulless and unethical. But whenever I treat the taxi driver to lunch, or spare some money for a fellow pedestrian who just needs some bus fare to make his way home, or defend homosexuals even though I don’t really have any gay friends, or spend my entire evening helping a friend through his heartache instead of studying, I don’t do it because I want brownie points from The Big Daddy, or safety from the sea of fire below, or seventy-seven virgins, or because it’s my dharma. I don’t even do it in the name of atheism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I do it because seeing the way their faces light up really warms my heart, and it makes me feel like I’m not the monster that people say I am. If theists need the promise of a reward to motivate them into doing these things…well, that’s really, really sad, and maybe I have more faith in the goodness of people than they do. And I didn’t even learn this from what they taught me in Church or in my Catholic school, I learned it from the people who were nice to me.

In any case, I have a feeling this is only going to be the second of many one-sided conversations I’ll be having with my mother. Honestly, it’s like being gay (though she’d probably like me better if I were a Catholic lesbian rather than an atheist breeder) and having your mother occasionally say something at lunch like, “You know, there are success stories of people who have recovered from their homosexuality” or “God doesn’t really like gay people, and I think it’s time we researched more on how to fix you.” She’s not an out-and-out atheist basher, otherwise I would have been kicked out long ago, but the intolerance is definitely there. She sees my atheism as a defect that she’s desperate to correct. Since she knows she can’t, she’ll settle for the occasional backhanded remark.

There’s a fitting Grey’s Anatomy quote for this, actually. Dear Mom: As Dr. McDreamy once said, before he turned into Dr. McDouchebag (though he was well on his way), “There is a land called Passive-Aggresiva, and you are their queen.”

Coinky-dinks October 14, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, school.
Tags: , ,
4 comments

I remember being in the fourth grade and forgetting to do an assignment for English class. In desperation, I clasped my hands and prayed for English class to be canceled so that we could have the bi-monthly, not-really-scheduled Guidance class instead. Five minutes later, guess who ambles into the classroom? My roly-poly, ambiguously gay Guidance teacher. Both shocked and ecstatic, I vowed from that moment on to devote the rest of my life to God.

Never underestimate the power of coincidence. =))

Dear God, if the hot druggie guy from Heroes shows up at my doorstep, professes his love to me and whisks me away to a large mansion in Monaco where we will live happily ever after with tons of money and maybe a kid or two, I swear I’ll devote the rest of my life to you. And this time, I mean it!

For fuck’s sake, it’s just a piece of wood October 7, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, family, rants.
Tags: , ,
8 comments

Yes, this is going to be another “my mother and I were talking in the car” story, which took place about four months ago.

My mother mentioned how she and a few friends used to play with a Ouija board when she was a kid, and how it successfully managed to predict the nicknames of both her first boyfriend and her husband. I asked her if she was actively looking for a guy with the name the “spirit of the glass” mentioned. She told me that she wasn’t. For the sake of this story, let’s pretend my father’s name is Nathaniel. Everyone in college knew him as Nathaniel, but the Ouija board said my mother would marry a “Nate” (or a more obscure nickname that you wouldn’t guess was derived from Nathaniel). It was only later on in their relationship that my mother found out that “Nate” was my father’s childhood nickname. OMG SPIRITS!!!111

In another Ouija session, the girls asked “Who are we talking to,” and according to my mother, the glass moved violently in this order: S…A…T…A…

At that second “A,” the girls let go of the glass and ran out of the basement screaming. OMG SPIRITS!!!111

My brother Pete* is a scaredy-cat bitch, the kind who was actually too chickenshit to even visit the Peter Answers website (I don’t want to spoil the fun for you, but here’s what happened: skeptic that I am, I tried it a few times despite Pete’s pleas not to, noticed the automated replies which were all variations of “I can’t answer that,” Googled “Peter Answers” and found out that it was a nifty online trick). So obviously, Pete totally bought into this story. I didn’t, however, and I asked my mother if I could buy a Ouija board and try it out myself.

“No!” she squawked. “You don’t want to mess with the spirits! They’ll haunt our house!”

(I’m not kidding.)

“The spirits like to prey on the weak of faith,” my father added in a not-so-subtle insinuation that I was weak of faith. He always plays the “weak of faith” card whenever I bring up the several times he’s verbally abused me. You won’t forgive and forget because you’re weak of faith! You’re an atheist because you’re weak of faith!

“What about those who don’t believe?” I asked.

“It’s even worse for them, because they have no one to save them.”

I wanted to sneer. I wanted to roll my eyes. But I couldn’t, since that would have given them a hint that I was, perhaps, a non-believer (I was closeted at the time). Instead, I stared out the window and tuned them out with some Radiohead.

They can say what they want about me, but I’m not the one living in fear of a piece of wood. It’s funny that I’m the one who’s “weak of faith” when they can’t even trust their deity to protect them from a frickin’ Ouija board.

Stevie Wonder was on to something with that song of his: “If you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer…”

[Note: Hey, I may not believe in this superstition hooey now, but if you have some interesting OMG SPIRITS!!!111 stories to share, I’d love to read them!]

Wanted: Objective (and gay) third party October 2, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends, issues, rants.
Tags: , , , , , ,
44 comments

One of the reasons I’m glad I started this blog is that I learn so much from the people who comment here with advice and explanations for various things. So in this blog post, I’m going to actively ask for your opinions, this time regarding the topics of homosexuality, homophobia and affirmative action.

I often discover my greatest passions through embarrassing means. I’m an alt- and grunge-lover, but I only discovered these genres through watching Rock Star: INXS. I discovered Imogen Heap through Garden State. I’m a huge supporter of the LGBT cause, and while I have never hated or disliked gays, my PFLAG-esque passion stemmed from watching Queer as Folk (or as I like to call it, “gay porn”). Now, I don’t think the catalysts affect my sincerity, even though they’re a little tough to admit to.

In any case, I’m still a staunch defender of gay rights, despite the fact that I’m just a straight girl who likes watching pretty boys make out with each other on a soapy Showtime series. And I don’t espouse gay rights as my cause celebre because Brian/Justin was an abnormally hot, so-wrong-it’s-right couple, but because next to atheists, I think the LGBT community faces the most discrimination.

So it irked me considerably (read: I totally PO’d) when Fred* made a gay joke on his blog and then followed it up with this statement (paraphrased):

“I’m not a homophobe. The term ‘homophobe’ is pejorative. I’m not afraid of homosexuals, I just don’t like them. The politically correct word is ‘heteropreferential.'”

Granted, my rebuttal was a wee bit more hostile than it should have been, but I found that statement to be incredibly asinine, and I thus responded accordingly. To me, being a homophobe and calling yourself “heteropreferential” is like being a racist and calling yourself “[insert race here]-preferential.” And I don’t think intolerance should be sanitized. You’re free to disagree with me, readers; I’m probably biased in thinking that homophobes do not deserve a “politically correct” term. (Though if you called me “pro-abortion” rather than “pro-choice,” I wouldn’t stop you.)

Anyway, Fred doesn’t see himself as a homophobe. He “likes Freddie Mercury, even though he was gay.” I asked him if he didn’t like that Mercury was gay, and Fred said yes. I thought that sentiment was homophobic in itself. If I said I liked Jimi Hendrix “even though he was black,” as opposed to just liking Jimi Hendrix, period, would that not make me a racist?

I confronted Fred on his statements, and we got into a lengthy debate about it. Debates with Fred are tiresome because they always wind up circular. We just keep repeating the same things over and over again. It boiled down to this conclusion: Fred thinks he’s not a homophobe because he goes by the literal translation (“homophobia” = “fear of homosexuals”) while I think he is because I go by the dictionary definition (“homophobia” = “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals”).

But Fred also disagrees that he’s a homophobe by dictionary definition because he feels that his dislike for gays isn’t unfounded. So, why does he dislike gay people?

Fred, verbatim: “Homosexuality is a choice.”

If I were as devoid of morals as people say atheists are, I would have punched him in the face right then. (more…)