My son lives in Brooklyn and I was visting from Texas. He suggested we spend the morning book shopping at the Strand on Broadway at 12th Street and the afternoon in Queens taking in the Museum of the Moving Image (we are both film buffs), then dinner at the Seva Indian Restaurant. On the L train going back (the long way around since New York pisses off its subway customers by shutting down certain trains on weekends for repair, so we could not take the G train), as we stepped into the car and made out way to a vacant spot in the middle, a young man got out of his seat and asked me, "Would you like to sit?" I did and thanked him. He was bald but had a big unkempt beard. The woman sitting next to him had a burka, but I did not know they were married until, during our short conversation, he introduced her as his wife.
The conversation revealed that he had served in the army and was stationed at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas, my home state. He did not like Killeen, because it "had nothing to do" (the soldiers on leave go to San Antonio), and because of the drug culture there. (Without asking, I suspected the drug of choice was methamphetamine, which no intelligent person should touch.) The conversation was what Fritz Perls would have characterized as mostly bullshit (not the weather and such, which Perls called "chickenshit" nor the Einstein and Cabala he termed "elephant shit"), as those would be out of bounds except for casual acquaintances and fellow academics. it was more along the lines of comparisons between Texas and New York.
When we left them at a change of trains, I had a sharp pang of remorse. Here I was lambasting Muslims and anyone religious weekly on this site, Facebook, and Twitter, and the only person on the metro who offered me a seat was an Islamist. Yes, I know the caveat that not all believers are "bad" and that even fools can be nice now and then. But my self-examination was more along the lines of the thought that one might better simply argue the atheist point of view without humiliating believers by putting them in the same boat, not turning away the very people who should be given food for thought and logical reasons why they should abjure. I realized that all too often I demean believers in ways that so upset them they go away thinking, if that is what free-thinking is all about, I want no part of it. I think this notion is very much in keeping with the site administrators' wish that we tone down our rhetoric so that people curious about atheism, people who are, perhaps a little agnostic to begin with, do not turn off when they see hyper-pejorative things on the site. I promised myself to be a bit more lenient and tactful.
Of course, when I got back to Brooklyn and on my son's Mac, I saw a Facebook entry asking, "Should an atheist marry a religious person," and my reply was, "By all means an atheist should marry a believer, and after the honeymoon, beat the bejesus out of them."
Hey, to err is human.
Golly, some folks wear their feelings on their sleeves. I am as big an advocate for women's rights as you are likely to find. And if you look at the reply I posted, it is not gender specific. I urged anyone, male or female, to marry and beat the bejesus out of their believer partner. And it was obvious I was making a joke. Get real!
It's because it's all too real that it could alienate people.
in other words, I'm telling you if you are concerned not to turn reading believers or fencesitters away by rough language, it could turn off other kinds of readers also.