It Doesn't Help
When You're So Nasty
Renato Domith Godinho

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

promoting the rights of atheists
achieving dignity as atheists
exploring our heritage as atheists

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Renato Domith Godinho"
Subject: Re: It doesn't help being nasty
Date: March 22, 2004 9:22 AM

Thank you for sharing that with us, Mr. Roget.

How many letters did you read before writing me off? One? Three?

Did you read only those letters whose titles obviously revealed them to be caustic?

Did you find it satisfying to denounce somebody's work even as you refused to tell us what page you were reading? You wouldn't want to give your opponents a fair crack at defending themselves, now, would you?

Besides, a portion of your audience is sure to believe what you wrote simply because you wrote it. They're already prejudiced against anything that an atheist does or says; they don't need (or want) to compare notes (which they cannot do, since you withheld this crucial information).

I insist that you respond to these questions, because by far the most common comment we get is, "I cannot understand how you could be so patient with some of these jerks! I could never be like that!"

Meanwhile, well over 90 percent of the intelligent-sounding rebukes from potential allies (like your letter) get posted. Each addresses my manners; not one addresses my message. Each was posted within a day or two of my fielding it. This is quite meaningful: of the regular conversations, only about four out of every ten has yet to see the light of day online. What the readers won't see is how many of those potential allies change their tune after learning that I will not cower before a false accusation.

This is precisely what I mean when I talk about the "positive" in our name being proactive rather than upbeat, like so many imagine.
 

Yes, there is a certain joy in gloating whenever somebody calls me stupid or tries to straighten me out on the subject of science, history, morals, or whatever, but doesn't bother using a spell-checker on his work. "It's way better than having sex," as that old Lou Reed song goes.

Seriously, I lash out only against those who clearly haven't read much (if any) of the web site, people whose criticism is of somebody who exists only in their imaginations. Often they assume that their understanding of the letter they just skimmed over is representative of the 1,600-plus dialogues that I've posted. These folks will get The Business from me every time.

I also get quite stern when I've made it clear that I do not want to hear from a certain person or about a certain topic, but the pest keeps writing nonetheless. However, these don't get posted (they don't get posted legally, anyway).
 

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

promoting the rights of atheists
achieving dignity as atheists
exploring our heritage as atheists

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Nasty!? Are you sure you're talking about ME!? or might you be seeing a reflection of yourself, here? (I know I wrote that one about the dookie a long time ago -- but -- nasty!? My word!)

Sure, I'll dismiss you if that's what you want me to do, but I won't do it for the reasons you insist.

Besides, it's really easy to bait me with adjectives like mischievous, don't you think? much easier than coming up with an enduring argument that would replace what most of us have tried or have given up trying.

Shortest Graphic Rule

What do any of these things have to do with promoting atheism?

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

promoting the rights of atheists

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Sometimes you must offend people to do this. I'm happy for you in that you've never had your rights taken away for being an atheist and don't know what it means to stand up for those rights that come with being human.

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

achieving dignity as atheists

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

This is not always about being namby-pamby and cowing to the abuses that are hurled against us from all sides. Yes, you can avoid the abuses altogether by keeping your mouth shut about your atheism. But as soon as you open yourself up to these abuses, you're going to find yourself having to step on some toes if you care at all about dignity. And you can let people walk all over you if you're not interested in seeing any changes occur.

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

exploring our heritage as atheists

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Doing this so sensitized me to the abuses we now endure that I now have to stop and think when I respond to some of these letters. Having done that, I can say that I regret none of these replies.

Shortest Graphic Rule

You are dishonest to cast me for being this way out of hand. I have my "moments," to be sure, and I'm very deliberate in everything that I say. I could easily have been quite reckless, but I'm not: I have goals in doing what I do, even when I do those things that you and several others don't want me to do.

The United States is a vicious place for an atheist to live openly as an atheist. Even great scientists either portray themselves as Spinoza's-god pantheists (such as Einstein and Hawking) or are portrayed by the public and the press as theists (such as Einstein and Hawking). This is America and it is not a part of America that makes me proud.

My father, who fits in with every social situation in which he finds himself, is making for himself a comfortable life. Unfortunately, by hiding his atheism he has not lifted a finger toward making things any easier for his fellow atheists who cannot bring themselves to pretend like that (etc.). In fact, he and those who behave like him have opened the door to allowing the religionists to claim this country as their own, to force the public to support their propagandizing and proselytizing efforts and to make it impossible to get away with saying anything critical about the behavior of any mainstream (read: Abrahamic) religious sect.

Those who survive me might not have an America that was even as good as what was handed to me, but it won't be for lack of effort on my part.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Eight-and-one-half years of service to
        people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule