What is “An Atheist Reads”?
“An Atheist Reads” is where I read Christian books in order to see if the arguments have any merit. Think of it as an analog version of God Awful Movies.
Again, if this isn’t your cup, it’s best if you don’t go past the jump. But if you’re ready, go ahead.
Chapter four–Civil Rights vs. McCarthyite Muscle–starts with the tragic near shooting at the Family Research Council’s D.C. headquarters. Here’s where Eberstadt goes into an attack mode of a sort; she begins by going after Right Wing Watch and the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to her, these two groups simply label True Christians™ as haters with little to no evidence. And if by “evidence” you mean, “quoting exactly what these people actually say in real life” then yeah, there’s no evidence here.
She then goes into a tangent, claiming that most of these groups are labeled as “hate groups” because they represent Christian plaintiffs in “discrimination” cases. By “discrimination”, Eberstadt actually means “religious people who have refused to serve the ickie gays because they are gay and ickie”. Not only that, if these people have reprehensible ideas, well, you best respect those ideas because this is America and freedom of religion!
Again, this really isn’t convincing. People have rights. Ideas don’t. If someone has a lousy idea, it isn’t discrimination to call that idea out. Just because these are “deeply held religious beliefs” doesn’t mean that they aren’t harmful. They are and they need to be challenged as such. As an example: I’m from the south; we had white supremacists who claimed that there was a passage in the bible that said blacks were inferior to whites. I heard this from co-workers while employed at a local Krispy Kreme. I do not kid.
Now, I know what some might have to say: “It’s not the same thing! Prejudice is wrong and we have laws against that!” Really? Take a look at North Carolina and that wonderful “bathroom bill”. That’s all I have to say on the subject.
Eberstadt then goes on to complain about canceled debates and speeches at colleges and the like, claiming again that free speech is being violated. Sorry, but it isn’t. As I’ve said before:
As to when this will sink in finally I do not know. But if these groups–most of them the “defend traditional marriage” type groups–really cared about free speech, they could go to the common area of whatever college they are attending and start their debate. Now, they’ll actually face real pushback here; they also won’t be able to charge a fee for any students to attend. This speech will be truly free and it will be a two-way street, which is why it would never happen. Those deeply held religious beliefs would be discussed and challenged and these groups would have to have a little more on their side other than mythology. But I digress. Eberstadt also claims that “scholars” such as Ryan T. Anderson have been “harassed” for their views and have had their free speech violated. Because religion.
Really? We’re talking about the same “scholar” who said this: “We should be as concerned about what the FOX TV show Glee has done to corrupt a young generation as we are about anything the Court has done.”
A TV show with “teh gayz”?! Oh noez, lock up the kids so they won’t see it! Oh and if Anderson’s free speech really was being violated, he wouldn’t have been able to utter those words. Because the government would have censored him. He’d be sitting with jail, duct tape over his mouth. Or something. But don’t point that out to Mary Eberstadt; this guy is a scholar so we should totes listen to him! To do otherwise–like taking his awful ideas to task–is just plain “atheist intolerance”.
Again, I really can’t find much of anything convincing here. It’s little more than hand wringing over the fact that these deeply held beliefs are being questioned. Eberstadt seems to have a real problem with the idea that people can actually question the “truths” of the bible and it shows. Again, the whole free speech thing is a two-way street but Eberstadt doesn’t want to hear that. She doesn’t really care about free speech or fairness. What she’s concerned about is her little group of True Christians™ getting special rights: namely, the right to discriminate. But since they can’t get that right, Eberstadt is crying foul.
With that said, I’ll bring this portion to a merciful close. Tune in next week at this time when I cover the last two chapters and finally finish this thing off, a la Mortal Kombat.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get a drink. A stiff one. Or two… dozen.