Thirdly (and you knew I would get to this) there are conflicts within the atheist movement. We often neglect to assume best intentions, which is a strategy necessary for healthy collaboration. But assuming best intentions with our fellow atheists is a challenge when there is a small cadre of atheists whose intentions are not kind or respectful but threatening and abusive, specifically towards women who identify and criticize sexism. There are also a substantial number of community members, many of whom I call friends, who don't always differentiate that cadre's hateful and violent speech from respectful disagreement. This has led to a ever-widening chasm between the "let's all get along" folk and a number of prominent atheist feminists.Except, of course, when they should. Just as a reminder, one of the many things that set off the prior round of atheist exorcism was Dawkins retweeting a woman questioning the existence of sexism within atheist groups (and positing a reason why so many do find it):
The hateful cadre? They can go to nonexistent hell. No one who makes any kind of threat belongs in the atheist community. The rest of us would benefit from figuring out how to work together. That would require the "let's all get along" folk to stop referring to threats and hate speech as "disagreement." And it would require us feminists to be very careful ourselves about not mistaking disagreement or ignorance for unforgivable bigotry. As Bernice Johnson Reagon said, "a coalition is not a home"; we should not need to agree or even feel comfortable with each other to work together.
Well, of course, burn the witch, &c. I don't doubt Dawkins can be pugilistic; it seems a fairly defining feature of modern atheistic discourse. But the insane equivalence of legitimate disagreement with "hate speech" shows just how petty and juvenile the movement has become.I'm a woman & an atheist blogger, & never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe because I don't assume they're misogynists?— Lucy Wainwright (@Whoozley) August 27, 2012