I recently had a run-in with an obnoxious theist on YouTube. Unfortunately, I descended to his level and resorted to ad hominem attacks. I ended up apologizing to him and pledging to do better in the future.
An Internet friend of mine and her new boyfriend personally attacked someone else in our circle of acquaintances. It was a bitchy thing do do and I meant to talk to her about it.
Then I find myself on a political forum reading how it's a "miracle" that Gabrielle Giffords is recovering. I got angry.
"God let the 9-year-old die, but he saved the congresswoman?" I wrote. "That's fucked up." Then I went on to say I wasn't impressed with the critical thinking skills of the entire forum. All I'd witnessed was groupthink and shoddy reasoning. I explained that leaving the forum (I only pop in occasionally) had allowed me to exorcise my beliefs in 9/11 conspiracies. Even though there was no ad hominem attack on a specific person, I wasn't very nice and as I type this, I'm feeling guilty.
I see several problems driving this asinine behavior:
I'm not sure what to do. If I can't control myself, I have no business confronting my friend about her lousy behavior.
Does anyone have suggestions? You can say, "Just don't do it," but that isn't enough somehow. I've tried that.
I think statements asserting that it is a miracle that a particular person survived while six others were killed should be challenged. Perhaps you could have been more tactful and polite in how you criticised the other members of the forum, but I wouldn't feel too guilty about it.
What exactly about Congresswoman Giffords' story is a miracle (i.e. a supernatural event)? We know people can survive when they injure that part of the brain. Is it because the gunman could have shot her in a more vital area of the brain? If so, is a miracle that I wasn't hit by a car today? After all, a driver could have altered their direction and run me over.
How about when a baby is born and they say it is a miracle. What is miraculous about it? Babies are born all of the time. If something is a miracle because some other event could have happened, then everything is a miracle and it is a meaningless fucking term.
I see a lot of groupthink in another forum I frequent. I'm the liberal heretic there. I'm not really that liberal really (well I don't think so), but compared to them I am. They try to outdo each other with how right wing they can get. There's a few other atheists and a few agnostics, but I'm usually the one being the most insulting (ok, I admit it). I don't really worry about it too much though. They argue the other side. I don't insult the people (not to say I wouldn't like to at times though), but I can be fairly insulting to theirs ideas.
I agree, I never try to argue the point with anyone in the real world. Mostly because it rarely comes up and obviously, relationships with "real" people are more important. People rarely want to discuss their beliefs in person.
Thanks for the comments.
I'm VERY liberal, but being a member of a liberal forum taught me about left-wing loonies. They exist.
Since I stopped frequenting the political forum, I've been happier and have taken an honest look at the conspiracy theories propped up by poor thinking on that side of the aisle. The JFK and 9/11 theories don't hold up under scrutiny.
Another problem for me is I often end up arguing in the real world because of the nature of my business, which includes very old fossil shark teeth. People ask about them. I tell the truth. Then they tell me about Adam and Eve and Noah's flood. It's disheartening to the point where I've felt under siege. I take my MP3 player everywhere so I don't have to listen to fundy crappola.
I can be long-winded, but have a look: Atheist in FundyLand <-Clicky
When the owner of a rock and fossil shop tells you ammonites from the Cretaceous were carbon-dated, you know you live in a community full of retards.
See? There I go again. I could call them willfully ignorant, I suppose, but I'm still making a value judgment based on their inability to use their minds.
If what you are saying is truly representative of your views (not group-think, rote or sheer shock value) not a problem.
My only suggestion is to maintain acceptable written expression and proof read everything at least once BEFORE saving.
When I respond, usually it's because something has me worked up. I couldn't believe the doctors and the people on the forum were claiming a miracle. If you think about it, it's pretty sick. God lets the little girl die, but saves the Congresswoman. Sick!
The theists have an answer for that: It's all for some greater good.
About that time I wish for a punching bag.
It's all for some greater good.
My "I want to punch a theist face" comment is "It's all part of god's plan". His plan?? Not only is he a sadistic, murdering tyrant, he's a piss poor planner. If the shit storm we're in is part of a plan, WTF could his plan possibly be?
I tend to enjoy being an ass to rightous bible thumpers - they are not worth the effort of being courtesy.
Ah. I know atheists have said what you have just said all the time but it is so goddamn true!
I was discussing religion with an atheist friend (who has a very accommodating attitude toward religion) and I said WTF? What is all this God's will crap? She said no no no, it's not that it is his will -- it is that "he allows".
NO FUCKING DIFFERENCE! HELLO!~
There is one tactic I've used when I near an implosion of indignation. It does involve a little self control but is otherwise quite safe to use.
Write your honest opinion, don't hold back on anything, be rude, offensive, honest and all that, save it and do something else to distract yourself from the subject for at least 10 minutes. Preferably away from the computer.
It's not easy to break the train of thought at first because you will always be editing and amending what you've written in your head but it becomes easier with practice. When you return to what you wrote, re-read and decide if you still want to post it, amend it or delete it.
It's a simple, basic strategy to let anger or any other emotion run its course and allow you to make a judgement on your response from a calmer viewpoint.
Always be aware that the people you're communicating with have rejected material reality and follow teachings which instruct them to kill you for the ideas you hold.
That's a good idea. I probably have to get it out of my system somehow and this might be a path toward getting it out of my system without turning into an ass. :)
I'll give it a try the next time I feel I'm going to explode and let you know how it goes.
When I saw the title of this thread it gave me a huge chuckle (thanks).
You're welcome! (I think.)
I really would prefer to be as civil as possible, but it might be beyond my ability. ;)