Fifty percent of Americans think atheists are a pain in the ass. Only half as many dislike Muslims, despite the national hobby of raining electric death on Muslims the world over. The reason for this disparity should be obvious: Modern public atheists are more annoying. While I know many pleasant Muslims, I can’t think of a single public representative of atheism who isn’t an obnoxious dung heap.
In my years upon this old rock, I’ve been bothered by Baha’is, surveyed by Scientologists, molested by Mormons, questioned by commies, besieged by Baptists, proselytized by Protestants, swayed by Sunnis, troubled by Taoists, and pestered by pagans. Everyone who has sweated me with their particular sacred belief has politely ceased to bother me when I informed them that I was not interested—everyone except atheists who insist I’m disbelieving improperly.
Modern atheists have their own saints, detailed taboos, purification rituals, demons, superstitions, and a deep sense of sin. This pattern of human group behavior is probably innate, but it is particularly annoying when allegedly ultra-rational people display it.
Consider the “A+ movement.” They call themselves “A+” because they’re self-regarding atheists “plus” some other stuff. The A+ “movement” was founded as a result of the debate around the Elevatordammerung, a cataclysm that ensued when a socially inept nerdling asked a cabbage-headed pinup girl for a cup of coffee while in an elevator. The resulting tumult eventually spawned the A+ schism with the part of the “atheist movement” who found this as silly as the rest of the world did.
The A+ sect is effectively a religion. They do not consider themselves to be such, but their superstitions saturate their lives in ways that put ultra-Orthodox Jews to shame. The A+ communion is fanatically Manichaean. They fervently believe that the world is evil and can only be purified by their efforts to bring the world to A+ holiness.
What are the tenets of the A+ creed? For all intents and purposes, A+holes worship their own suffering. A+hole saints are people who suffer. Most especially, A+hole saints are people who suffer dismay, such as that experienced when being asked for coffee by an unattractive person in an elevator. A+hole devils, by contrast, are well-adjusted and therefore are hated fiercely.
The A+holes have peculiar superstitions where moralistic mana is accorded to those with the least “privilege.” What they mean by “privilege” is a sort of phlogiston carried by white people, heterosexuals, males, religious people, people who disagree with them, and people who identify with the sex chromosomes and genital organs with which they were born. Such “privilege” embodies the A+ concept of original sin. Their purification ritual consists of confessing one’s sins in the public forum and groveling before the grouchy saints and the holy icons as penance.
The taboos of A+holes are multitudinous. The ultimate taboo is questioning the tenets of the faith. Despite their alleged mission “to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty and crime,” application of skepticism and critical thinking to those subjects is strictly forbidden. Many religions require one to believe in deeply contradictory ideas at the same time; A+holery is no different.
They have many other exotic circumlocutions for addressing their saints. For example, they have precisely delineated how to talk about transsexuals and prostitutes. There are extensive A+ taboos dealing with gender interaction (anything involving elevators is right out). They have taboos against inadvertently offending the aged. Most delightful is the concept of the “trigger warning,” which warns the saints that they may find something unclean which may disturb their saintly A+ repose. Trigger warnings are required when expressing mild disagreement and remembering the former name-calling and disagreements listed in their exhaustive enemies lists. Such trigger warnings are not necessary when making holy war upon devils and witches such as heterosexual Christians. Since they are devils, their feelings are not important, and holy war brings joy to the saints.
The A+ crowd is considered important by the credulous. It seems to me that they’re mostly interesting for being a pure strain, a seething petri dish of neurotic misery. It is of scientific interest to study this disease in its isolated form so vaccines and antitoxins can be developed. The pestilence embodied in the A+hole faith has already spread far and wide throughout Western Civilization.
What emotional complex causes human beings to become wild-eyed totalitarian numskulls in the name of “sensitivity?” As with many religious beliefs, their ideas start with seething ressentiment. Unhappy people often blame others for their misery. Unworthy people come up with elaborate justifications for why it is everyone else’s fault. The old Christian formula of “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first” has been recycled in the guise of the “privilege” phlogiston. Their hurt feelings and oversensitive natures are now sacred relics among the faithful. It is status and power, at least among the faithful and chivalrous enablers, social goods otherwise denied to them due to fortune and poor choices in life. There are plenty of talentless, lazy dunderheads looking for a faith which accords them status for being malcontented slobs.
While the A+holes do not constitute all of public atheism, the remainder is no better. Alpha atheist Dawkins thinks telling children about Jesus is worse than sexually molesting them. In the second tier you have attention-seeking primates such as PZ Myers desecrating a communion wafer and a Koran, and, to be fair, one of Dawkins’s books. It’s a performance about as edifying as flinging poo from the monkey cage. Myers is probably physiologically incapable of breaking actual atheist taboos, such as saying something which might be remotely construed as sexist or racist, no matter how true it might be. In the third tier of public atheists are idiots who sue the local city council for saying a prayer before meetings. I’d wish a plague on their houses, but all their houses are already asylums for the emotionally challenged.
I don’t believe in any gods, but the public evidence on display indicates that lack of belief isn’t worth bragging about, either. I can’t continue to call myself an atheist for fear someone will confuse me with unpleasant cartoon characters.
I think Rudyard Kipling had the right idea calling himself a “God-fearing Christian Atheist.” Until the Atheist Anti-Defamation League sends the present crop of public atheists to the stockade with tar and feathers, I’m going to call myself that. It beats being confused with an A+hole.
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