Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Men's Rights Advocates Make Me More Feminist

Last week on Twitter, #EndFathersDay was a trend of "feminists" saying shitty things.

Except that it wasn't actually feminists. Misandry is not within feminism, as it advocates equality as a defining characteristic.  On top of that, it was done by trolls.
The prank was started by 4chan’s politically incorrect board, /pol/, in an effort to rile up feminists and make them (and men) look like idiots. 
So, it was not even just trolls.  It wasn't just some prank by bored frequenters of 4chan.  It's part of a larger effort to delegitimize feminism in general.
It’s all a bit ridiculously cloak and dagger, but I don’t think we can dismiss it as a joke. The people behind it are trolls, sure, but they are also nasty bigots obsessed with fucking up feminism and “progressives” in general. And people still get fooled by these campaigns.
Now that we know what they’re up to, the trolls may find it harder to fool quite so many people in the future. They may keep trying, to lesser and lesser effect. Or they might come up with something a bit more sophisticated. I guess we’ll see.

Today, I found a great, concise video response to the Men's Rights Movement from Chris Gethard.

So, of course the de facto leader of the MRA's responded.

Right, because apparently the only reason to treat women with basic respect is to get them to like us enough so we can fuck them.

This asshole isn't some random MRA.  He's the founder of the most popular MRA website there is.  And when posts this shit, the sycophants who follow his nonsense give him the kind of support that put his comments at the top of the video.

YouTube user "conferencereport" beat to the video to say what I'd want to say to Elam, and probably better than I would have.

Anyone who knows me knows I despise the group that calls itself the "Men's Rights Movement".  I've merely touched on it here before, but I've witnessed a non-stop flow of misogyny and ignorance from this group.  These are just 2 examples of the idiocy that is a staple of the Men's Rights Movement.  Activity from them tends to be primarily be petulant whining about (their straw man of) feminism and feminists.

And with their immaturity, they do more harm than good to the causes they claim to care about.  They make advocating for men, in the places where it's actually warranted like unequal treatment in family courts, more difficult because it means associating the factually ignorant and the morally repugnant.

The Men's Rights Movement both makes the goal of feminism more difficult and provides great examples of why feminism is necessary.

Refuse To Give Up?

About a few week ago, Dino's Storage had a nice message up.

I've been collecting pictures to do a follow-up to my last post on them.  I took this picture to use as an example of one of their good messages.  I can relate to this, as someone with a reputation for, and someone who highly values the quality of persistence.  I see it one of the two essentials to successful activism.  Patience is the other.

I was particularly amused by this one after it was up a lot longer than usual for that location.  It seemed like they were applying the lesson of this one to itself.

Then, this week, they changed it to something different.

I'm curious if the same person chose both.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Of all the conferences I'm not an organizer for, Skepticon is my favorite.  They've managed to create a genuine atmosphere of fun, while still running a large conference in a professional manner.  And they do this all while keeping Skepticon free to attend.  And speaking as someone who has seen what putting on a conference involves, this is an incredibly underrated accomplishment.

In keeping with what makes Skepticon fun, there's now Skeptiprom.  It started as a casual conversation on a Facebook post of Beth Presswood's about having an adult prom.  In an effort to make it happen for real, someone tagged in Skepticon's Lauren Lane.  And now it's happening.
When: Saturday, November 22 at 10:00pm
Where: Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center • 2546 N Glenstone Ave • Springfield, MO 65803
Masquerade Ball
Costume Party
90′s Prom
Dino Extravaganza
Cash Bar
Fancy Dress
Dates Optional
Costumes Desired
Dancing Mandatory
Be There or
Be Square
$10 Suggested
Best Idea
10:00pm is Estimated
We Do What We Like
This should be a great addition to what was already one of the best conferences around.  Now I've just got to figure out an idea for a costume (on top of the costume for Apostacon's Meat Ball).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On Picking Our Battles

Since my recent encounter with La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig, a small part of the criticism I've received has come from other atheists.  They've joined some Christians in not understanding how Separation of Church and State works and getting the details of what happened wrong.

A post about it on Atheist Republic is a great example of atheists getting it wrong.  They got numerous small details wrong, including when I approached the mayor.  Their post claims I approached him "in the midst of" the event when I intentionally waited until the event was over.  It's a small detail, but it shows the disregard for accuracy (or perhaps honesty) that permeates that post.

But worse than the lazy writing in this hyperbolic work of click-bait, is the opinion offered by the author at the end of the post:
While I am certainly disturbed by the mayors alleged sentiments, I must in rare form disagree with the atheist activist in question about any alleged violation of separation of church and state here. While the city may have organized the event, they state that it was funded by local church groups who are not part of the government body. Additionally the event was held at a public park which is open to all the public and no one was denied entry as far as we know.
I think we need to pick our battles a bit better than this, because things of this nature give off the appearance of being petty and intentionally confrontational when no confrontation is necessary.
But that's just my two cents.
He starts by acknowledging that the city organized the event.  Nothing said after that is relevant.  Who paid for the event is not relevant.  It was exclusively and explicitly Christian, and it was part of the official La Vista event called La Vista Daze.  No effort was made to even consider anything else.  When we asked the city about it, they admitted that it had never occurred to them.    Of course the city states they didn't do anything wrong.  That's what they would be doing either way.  But one thing is key and undeniable.

The city organized the event.

The fact that it was on public property is not at all relevant.  The Constitutional issue would still be there if it had happened exactly as it did on private property.  And there would be no issue if it had been the churches having the event on their own in the same location.  The location isn't the issue.  The issue is the fact that the city organized the event.

Regarding picking our battles, the author reveals even more of his ignorance of the situation.  Ignorance that would have been avoided if he'd done 2 cents worth of research before posting.

He clearly never found my initial post on the matter, where he could have learned that I wasn't looking for a battle at all.  I attempted a civil discussion.  It only blew up because of the mayor's reaction.

He may also have learned that the response from Omaha Atheists was to use the attention educate and to reach out to believers in the community to open dialogue between our groups.

I've since had the meeting with the mayor that I was seeking that day, where he apologized in person for his outburst.  The city appears like they will be taking my concerns seriously, which at this point is all I was asking for.

I also spoke to the city council and have offered to participate in the planning of future events to help ensure inclusiveness by representing a group not currently considered.  After I spoke, the preacher who organized the event in question spoke, praising Omaha Atheists for our civility and willingness to work together.

He did get one thing right though.  No confrontation was necessary.  Other than the outburst that made news, that we've since moved beyond, no confrontation has been necessary.  So far, all parties are working together civilly.

So, who has "the appearance of being petty and intentionally confrontational when no confrontation is necessary"?  The group who is working toward a litigation free resolution to a legitimate issue or the blogger who picked a fight with a fellow atheist by writing an ill-informed, hyperbolic, and dishonest piece to get some extra hits?

If this writer at Atheist Republic gives a shit about honesty, I suggest he pick his battles better than this.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Having Privilege Is Mundane, Challenging Privilege Is Not

While being interviewed about her experience surviving the Moore, Oklahoma tornado, Rebecca Vitsmun outed herself after Wolf Blitzer incorrectly assumed she had "thanked the lord".

This story is a perfect example of how Christian privilege works in our society.  A national reporter thought it was appropriate to just assume a random person was Christian.  The fact that she was willing to say on national television that she's actually an atheist resulted in national attention because it's a big deal to be willing to be openly atheist.  Even when it shouldn't be.

What Rebecca did was mundane.  Or least it should have been.  It was anything but mundane, and that's the problem.  A lot of atheists are afraid to do this.  Even Rebecca was afraid to do it.  But it was either that or lie.

Her story has been in the back of my mind during the last week since my encounter with my town's mayor.  It's why I wore the shirt with her quote at today's rally at La Vista City Hall.

This shirt exists because people rallied around Rebecca to support her.

What I did should have been mundane.  I was a citizen approaching an elected official with a valid concern.  But, like Rebecca's situation, what should have been mundane was not.  The story went national extremely quickly, starting with The Friendly Atheist and followed by Raw StoryWashington Times, Christian Post, The Blaze, and others.

I know the attention I've had from it, so I can only imagine the focus that's been on Mayor Kindig's office.  I've had a lot of atheists (and some believers) thanking for me for what I did.  But on its own, what I did was not anything special.   It was only special because our culture is constantly telling atheists to shut up and stay hidden, and I refused to do so.  Atheists being open about being atheists is seen as a challenge to the Christian privilege that permeates our culture.

Christian privilege is what had La Vista defaulting directly to the event being overtly Christian, rather than secular or inclusive of other religious viewpoints.  Christian privilege is what let Mayor Kindig feel safe in dismissing my concerns so hastily.

Today's rally was to show that my concerns are not mine alone and that we will not sit idly by while those concerns are dismissed in favor of Christian privilege.

Photo Credit:  Amanda Knief
It shows government officials that they're not free to insert their religion into government without someone standing up to them.  And it shows atheists that if they are that person standing up, they will not be doing so alone.  They will have groups like Omaha Atheists and American Atheists supporting them, just like I've had over the last week.