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Atheism and debate June 22, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in issues, rants.
Tags: , , , , , ,

“The more you stomp in poop, the more it stinks.”

Who thought I’d ever be quoting Billy Ray Cyrus, eh? It’s true, though, and it’s the best way to describe how I feel about responding to the anti-atheist comments I get here. Sometimes they’ll go all-out on their rage (“You’re going to hell!”) or be deceptively nice (“May you see the light someday”), but I treat them all the same way: I delete them.

It’s not as easy when you’re confronted with that kind of spammage in real life, though. If there’s one thing I learned after almost a whole year of being a “heathen” atheist, it’s that you have to walk around carrying an arsenal of proper responses to arguments that will be thrown at you from any angle. Atheism and debate walk hand-in-hand, or at least, debate is constantly humping atheism’s leg.

Here are the different debate tactics I’ve encountered so far:

1. The sanctimonious approach
Case in point: Tyler

“Your atheism is just a phase. You’re a good person, TA, I know you’ll come back to the light eventually.”

Insisting that you’re not in a dark place of any sort will only lead to the two of you running around in circles, so I just respond to this with a noncommittal nod and smile, followed by…

2. The change-of-topic
Case in point: Me

Tyler: “Why are you still an atheist?”
TA: “Oh, um…hey, the espresso brownie at Starbucks is really good, have you tried it? Come on, let’s go get one.”

If debate were a PlayStation (sorry guys, I’m loyal to Sony — wider game selection), this tactic would be the “reset” button. Yeah, I know, shame on me for taking the easy way out and wearing out that button like a motherfucker, but you’ve got to learn to pick your battles. Time is of the essence, and I’d rather waste it on other things than explaining why yes, I’m an atheist and no, I’m not Satan’s daughter.

3. The banishment
Case in point: CDT

CDT: “You were being condescending, blah blah blah.”
Me: “Are you kidding me? Here’s why your comments were completely condescending, and I just responded because I don’t tolerate that kind of asshattery around here.”
CDT: “…Satan has got a hold on you!”

Still the dumbest argument I’ve ever had (next to the ones with my mother), and the funny thing is that I’m pretty sure CDT still thinks he won.

4. The personal attack (closely related to #3)
Case in point: Fred

Fred: “I can’t believe you posted our whole debate on your blog and made me look like an idiot!”
TA: “I just quoted you verbatim, dude. I didn’t make you look like an idiot, you made yourself look like an idiot.”
Fred: “Oh yeah? Well, all of my friends think you’re an elitist bitch!”
TA: “…And? What does that have to do with anything?”
Fred: “You’re not offended?”
TA: “No. Should I be?”
Fred: “You’re not compelled to change your personality and be a better person? Wow. That’s kind of horrible.”

I couldn’t help laughing because Fred, who happens to be a bigger elitist and a far more abrasive and unlikable personality than I am, was OMG Morally Outraged (TM) that I wasn’t affected by that “revelation.” And the moment he lost his temper over that while I maintained my cool, I knew that I had won.

See, Fred’s a very predictable type of debater: if he knows he’s been backed into a corner, he’ll go right for the jugular and throw everything but the kitchen sink at you, even if it’s completely unrelated to the topic at hand. These debates are very easy to win. All you have to do is keep a straight face and remain calm and unaffected. They’ll go batty.

5. The non-sequitur
Case in point: Mother Dearest

“How can there not be a God, when I managed to get through all of these difficult times in my life? How can there not be a God, when this world is so beautifully complex? You can’t possibly believe that it came out of nowhere!”

It’s tough arguing with idiots. You can’t win, even when you win. Not to say that my mother is an idiot entirely, but you all know how she is when it comes to my atheism.

So, there you have it. TA’s Top 5 Encountered Debate Tactics. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to respond to the argument, or be a lazy bum like me and just press the “reset” button.

When stupid pops up out of nowhere March 14, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, issues.
Tags: , , , ,

Ooh, an atheism-related post! Finally!

Many might find it condescending that I refuse to get into debates with theists, or that I immediately delete anti-atheist comments on this blog. Then again, I never said it wasn’t.

I’ve recently come across the perfect example to show you all exactly why I refuse to dignify theism-laden arguments with a response. The main reason is that I hate it when they drop by our blogs to lay on the stupid, because we don’t drop by their blogs and write crap about theism. At least, I hope not, y’all.

Cleverly Disguised Theist (CDT for short) left a comment on my blog one day, and because he didn’t once mention theism in it (although it was still a dumb and condescending comment), and because a lot of his blog posts are tagged “atheism,” I assumed he was just the special “pretentious” brand of atheist.

Before I move on, please be aware of two things: 1) I’m not leaving a link to CDT’s blog because I don’t want you guys to up his view count, so no matter how curious you are (or if CDT drops by and leaves a comment), please don’t encourage the stupid or give him more “atheists are big meanies!” fodder; and 2) if you have any comments on the “logic” of his arguments, or if you have anything to say to him, leave it here. He’s one of those theists that likes to drop by atheist sites to angry up the blood, so I’m sure he’ll come across this post and be like “Satan strikes again!”

Anyhoo. It all started when he called me condescending and ageist (two things I may or may not be, I don’t really care to figure it out). I wrote a response, he wrote something unintelligible which I didn’t bother responding to:

CDT: “You shouldn’t take things so personally. Persons older than you have experienced more life than you. They are just relaying some of that experience. It’s not always condescension. Youth begets feelings of superiority. I am only 30 years old, but when I was 18 I thought I knew everything. I didn’t. Ageism works both ways.”

TA: “I like myself way too much to “take things so personally.” Wouldn’t you be annoyed if you heard the same shit every day, no matter what it was? “Trim your beard,” “Wear something nicer,” et cetera. If I honestly believed I knew everything and couldn’t stand dealing with the ageism, I wouldn’t call myself the Teenage Atheist. I did choose that moniker for this blog, however, because I am admitting that I don’t know everything, and I welcome advice from my readers on how to deal with problems and go about things. So, don’t generalize. Just because you were a know-it-all dipshit when you were my age doesn’t mean we all were. That’s ageism in and of itself.”

CDT: “Awesome. There’s no more beard either.”

Then he blogged about this exchange, because I guess he thought he was being clever? Something about how people were insulting his beard and waah, I called him a dipshit and yada yada. I said:

TA: “Dude, I have nothing against your beard. It was just the first thing that came to mind as I was looking for examples of annoying repetitive phrases. And by the way, I wasn’t calling you a dipshit; I just assumed based on how you described your 18-year-old self that you used to be one. If you’re telling me to not take things personally, try it out yourself first.”

CDT: “I know you didn’t knock my beard, you just mentioned it in your condescending response to my noncondescending comment on your post. I could care less what you call me. I found it humorous, that’s all. Peace.”

I was like, “Noncondescending? LULZ.”

TA: “Oh, sure. Because there’s nothing condescending about ‘I was a know-it-all when I was 18, and so are you, so quit whining.’ (Note the lack of the word ‘dipshit’ this time.) I don’t write rebuttals to comments unless a) I spot a logical fallacy or b) I smell condescension, or general asshattiness. Yours definitely fell into the latter.”

CDT: “Satan has got a hold on on you.”

I thought he was just being sarcastic, because I was still under the assumption that he was an atheist.

TA: “Because relying on non-sequiturs when faced with a valid argument is totally the way to go. Mm-hmm.”

CDT: “You had no argument. There was no condescension in my comment at your blog. Your bitter perspective on life made my comment condescending. Satan does own you. It is perfectly logical to a Believer, but not so much to a skeptic.”

This only confused me further, because apparently he believed in Satan? And like, I’m the one with no argument (“your statement is condescending because [reasons]” = valid argument, FYI), while his retort of “Satan has got a hold of you” is “perfectly logical”? Something wasn’t right here. I didn’t bother replying, because why should I when he’s just saying weird, nonsensical things? (Even though I wanted to say, “Please don’t insult logic by using that word to describe your argument.” Oy, gevalt.)

Then I re-read his “About” page, and he lists himself as a “Christian.” So it kind of irked me that he kept tagging his posts “Atheism,” because ugh, so totally piggyback-riding, you know? Well, haters are haters.

And I admit, I was probably being totally condescending when I exclaimed, after finding out that he was a Christian after all, “Oh, that’s why! Well, I’m glad. At least I can stop wondering, ‘Since when did atheists get this stupid?’ now.” But, condescending or not, I dare you to prove me wrong. The stupidity was rooted in the belief, wasn’t it?

All in all, it was a big waste of my time. Had I known that CDT was a theist — and not just a theist, but an anti-atheist theist — I wouldn’t have bothered responding in the first place. Because, as I have said in my disclaimer: the whole atheist vs. theist thing never goes anywhere.

It’s not a matter of only choosing to argue with atheists. I’ll argue with anyone, believer or not, but once you start bringing Jesus and Satan into your arguments, that’s a dealbreaker right there. Logic only, please.

[Note: May I remind you all: please do not make any attempts to visit CDT’s site. It would be a huge disservice to me. All opinions go in the comments section of this blog post. Thanks, y’all.]

No two ways about it October 25, 2007

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

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.

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

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

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…)