A prerequisite for atheism to become ubiquitous

In order for atheism to become ubiquitous, certain widespread perceptions must be addressed and shown to be in error, and certain stereotypes must be countered.  Atheism is widely perceived to be something that is only for radical liberals who are far from the mainstream in both appearance and attitude.  First and foremost, those who want atheism to be ubiquitous must drive home the point, in the minds of the masses, that atheism is value neutral.  In other words, theists must come to understand that atheism is simply the lack of a belief in any deity, and that there are no socio-political-economic strings attached to the decision to become an atheist. 


These perceptions and stereotypes are promoted by factions of each of the two camps in the so-called "culture war":  (1)  Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck et al., who certainly promote caricatures, innacurate perceptions, and outright falsehoods about atheists and atheism (one of them being that, if you're not a liberal, then you must be a theist), and (2) a sub-set of liberal atheists who are actively hostile to non-liberal atheists (I have seen, on more than a few occasions, liberal atheists telling non-liberal atheists that the latter are an illogical combination, or that, as non-liberals, they do not belong on an atheist message board, or that atheism is the natural "turf" of the former group).  The assorted nonsense of the first group is already being countered by atheists.  I would like to see the second group become more accepting of atheists of all political and social persuasions, so that these pernicious perceptions and stereotypes, which greatly retard the spread of atheism, in my opinion, disappear.


Logically, there are two possible ubiquitous atheism futures:  (1) modernization converts everyone to liberalism, thereby undermining the very premise of this thread and destroying any self-imposed barriers to the masses accepting atheism, or (2) the perceptions and stereotypes that prevent many non-liberals from becoming atheists disappear.  The former is extremely unlikely, in my opinion, because there will always be non-liberals, such as conservatives and libertarians, as long as there are humans:  the desire for small, limited government, and many other non-liberal concerns---all of which are not at all incompatible with atheism---will always exist.  Instead of ignoring promising non-liberals, or writing them off, as I have seen many liberal atheists do, there should be outreach to such individuals.  Furthermore, non-liberals who are already atheists should be more vocal, and announce their existence as widely as possible. 


Finally, I am not saying that liberalism, and a personal style that is outside of the mainstream, are bad.  I am saying that it is bad when atheism is sincerely thought to be, politically, only for liberals, and socially, only for people who are outside the mainstream (when I tell people that I'm an atheist, I often encounter much surprise, because I don't have the "alternative" look).  Since the promotion of diversity is one of the core principles of the liberal ethos, I sincerely hope that liberal atheists will welcome and support non-liberal atheists.  :)

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I was referrng to illegal activity on my part, and I take precautions to minimize the chances of theft.
I'm sure you're a responsible gun owner and a law abiding citizen, mwg. Just pointing out that nothing is ever certain.
I don't understand the firearms issue right now. Since the Democrats have been the majority in congress and in the white house has anyone tried to do anything about your firearms?
No, and for the most part, only because of the punishment meted out to the intolerant in 1994.
As far as I can tell, there is no serious threat to gun ownership in the US. I find the NRA to be on the paranoid side. There are far too many Democrats who support the Second Amendment for serious anti-gun legislation to happen anytime soon. I don't own a gun, but I'm not opposed to the idea. My family had some when I was a kid, and I have enjoyed the occasional target practice. My basic deal with conservatives is this: I'll support the Second Amendment if you support the rest of the Bill of Rights, especially the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the various due process provisions.
"As far as I can tell, there is no serious threat to gun ownership in the US."

You'll recall that Holder tested the possibility of a new AWB about one year ago.

I find it interesting that "power to the people" is a liberal slogan that is nearly a half century old, and yet many liberals want to take power away from the people by disarming them and putting them at the mercy of the state. So yes, I like the idea of "power to the people" and think that the people who say this should not contradict themselves.

"I find the NRA to be on the paranoid side."

I find the NRA to be on the sell-out side.

"There are far too many Democrats who support the Second Amendment for serious anti-gun legislation to happen anytime soon."

I agree with this.

"I don't own a gun, but I'm not opposed to the idea. My family had some when I was a kid, and I have enjoyed the occasional target practice."

Target shooting certainly is fun.

"My basic deal with conservatives is this: I'll support the Second Amendment if you support the rest of the Bill of Rights, especially the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the various due process provisions."

I support the Bill of Rights in its entirety, especially the portions that you mention here.

Do not forget that there are many liberal foes of free speech. Political correctness is just as pernicious in its opposition to free speech, if not more pernicious, than the various conservative tools that are used to suppress free speech (such as the use of religion to get anti-blasphemy laws passed, and so forth). Those who are behind university speech codes, the banishment of Mark Twain books from libraries, the intimidation of those who dare to publicly say anything politically incorrect, and a plethora of other intolerant, anti-freedom garbage, are liberal.

So, the notion that conservatives are friendly to the Second Amendment, and liberals are friendly to the First Amendment, is an oversimplification. There are some liberals who hate both the First Amendment and the Second Amendment.

However, I like your deal, since, as I said, I like the Bill of Rights in its entirety anyway. :)
I'd like to add a question. Is there any non-liberal atheist whom you know who does not support the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?
Well, I don't read the Second Amendment's use of the word "infringed" as synonymous with "regulated". I actually have no problem with reasonable regulations about what types of weapons can be owned. Assault rifles are just unnecessary. I don't buy the argument that an armed citizenry can keep the government in check by force of arms. This isn't the 18th century, and the US government isn't on the other side of an ocean, so the Revolutionary War scenario is just not realistic. The military has the citizens of the US outgunned six ways to Sunday, and there's no guarantee that all the armed citizenry would be on the same side against the government. I think the intent of the Second Amendment is pretty clearly about repelling invasion. And it's not like the Continental Army just used their hunting rifles--they had military weaponry and assistance from France. Regardless, like I say, the Second Amendment is safe and the NRA should stop acting like it isn't.

I think the dangers of political correctness are overblown. People in this country are almost incapable of keeping their mouths shut, so our free speech rights are not really at risk. People can say what they really think if they really want to, although sometimes you have to take some flack for it. But yes, it doesn't make sense that atheist conservatives would be against the Establishment Clause. Plenty of NRA members are, though, which is where the impetus for my bargain comes from.
Define "assault rifle".
I would define an assault rifle as a military style rifle with a large clip, high muzzle-velocity, fully automatic or burst mode capability, designed to kill people as fast as possible for a hand-held gun. Private citizens have no need of such things. Home invasions are generally not performed by platoons. Deer do not storm beaches.

Private citizens also do not need hand grenades, mortars, satchel charges, mines, and so forth. If you want to play with artillery, join the army.
First, it's a magazine, not a clip. Gun enthusiasts make a big deal over that because it shows the tremendoust extent to which Hollywood messes with people's heads. I even know a ex-Marine who referred to clips as magazines until I told him the difference. An ammunition feeding device that contains a spring is a magazine. A folded piece of metal that lacks a spring is a clip. Do you see how opinions are suspect when so many people have been so grossly misinformed over something so elementary?

Second, many individuals think that "assault rifle" refers to semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine. Fortunately, you seem like you have avoided this particular misunderstanding. However, you surely are aware that fully automatic firearms, as class three weapons, are very expensive and a pain in the ass to legally own (an import banned signed by REAGAN has made prices skyrocket, and one must go through a lengthy approval process and inform the BATFE every time one moves to a new residence)?

Third, regarding your earlier post, you seem to be wholly unaware of guerilla/asymetric/insurgent/unconvential conflicts that the weaker side has won. Granted, guerrilas/insurgents have lost plenty of twentieth/twenty-first century conflicts, but they have won some too, so it is illogical for you to dismiss the possibility here in the hand-waving fashion that you have done.

P.S. Why does the federal government need half the weapons that they have? They have an obscene quantity of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. They have a navy that is quantitatively so far beyond the number two navy that it is utterly ridiculous. They spend, spend, spend on things that almost certainly will never be used. When it comes to garbage like this, I definitely strongly disagree with those who advocate the status quo of frivilous military spending.
Sigh. Magazine/clip, right. I've seen the episode of R. Lee Ermey's Mail Call which explains the difference, and I actually remembered the difference, but it doesn't particularly matter, since neither of us is a gun designer. You knew what I was talking about, and so would anybody else who learned about guns from Hollywood, or even from the Marines. A vernacular lack of precision in no way renders an opinion suspect. Particularly since the technical minutiae are largely irrelevant to this debate. It hardly amounts to gross misinformation. That's like saying you're not competent to discuss fleet fuel economy standards if you don't know the difference between carbureted and fuel-injected engines. In any case, clips are largely obsolete (are there any modern weapons which use them?), so why not repurpose the old term for the new device, especially since it's shorter and easier to say? Language evolves. Even technical language. If an ex-Marine didn't know the difference, does the difference even matter? Here's a guy who's trained in the use and maintenance of a variety of firearms, and he performed his duties perfectly adequately without being aware of the distinction. If you want to discuss gun rights, I recommend avoiding technical distractions like this.

I was, however, unaware that Reagan's import ban on machine guns (machine pistols, fully automatic rifles, whatever) was still in effect, or that a different approval process was still required, or that you had to notify the BATFE of address changes. The import ban sounds a lot more like trade protectionism than meaningful firearms regulation to me, so I'm not sure that really pertains to the debate. American gun manufacturers certainly make their share of machine guns, and the Second Amendment is clearly not meant as any sort of comment on free market principles. The BATFE regs seem quite reasonable to me, given the number of school, mall, and restaurant mass shootings that have taken place. It's pretty easy to slaughter dozens of people in crowded places with a couple of semi-automatic handguns. Do people with grudges really need easy access to streetsweepers?

But to the point of the assault-weapons ban, it seems to be commonly possible, and even technically simple, to convert semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic. It seems reasonable to me that such conversions should be regulated. I could see having a law that requires manufacturers to only sell designs that make such conversions difficult and ban the sale of conversion kits, or at the very least require citizens who make such modifications to then follow the BATFE rules for fully automatic weapons. Like I say, I'm OK with responsible gun ownership. I just don't understand why anybody needs to be able to kill dozens of people in a few seconds. How is a 30-round machine gun any different than a satchel charge, when they can both achieve the same level of indiscriminate carnage in the same amount of time? Is it really an important distinction that the chemicals that go bang and the little pieces of metal that are propelled by the explosives are packaged differently? I don't think so.

As to asymmetrical warfare, I'm quite conversant with the history. In fact, I find it sort of astonishing that the US, which depended so heavily (though not completely) on the technique in the Revolutionary War, had utterly forgotten it by the Civil War, preferring the brilliant idea of lining up to get shot, just as the Redcoats had done. On the other hand, as I said, the Continental Army likely would not have won the day without the assistance of the French, both in terms of materiel and naval support. And Washington's army certainly used symmetrical tactics where possible, including cannons, cavalry, and massed arms. The larger point, however, is that an insurgency has a chance against an occupying army opposed by the citizenry (the British in our Revolutionary War, the Americans in the Vietnam War, etc, and the extreme risk of it in Iraq and Afghanistan). Insurgencies against an in situ government are much more problematic, particularly if that government enjoys at least some committed popular support. The militia movements grossly underestimate the amount of support the US government has from its people. We may not much like Congress or the political parties, but we are very far from an armed insurrection, because the government actually provides services and protects commerce. The teabaggers are a tiny minority of unpatriotic, ignorant assholes. I'm perfectly willing to stand with the government against them, and so are the military, the national guard, the police forces, and most of the citizens. But that's the whole point in a system of self-government. You don't need to have armed insurrections when you get to choose your government. I'm not happy with the level of corporate influence, but I still believe that we can, in fact, choose our leaders, and that they listen to us when we yell loud enough. This is why I find it outrageous and irresponsible that teabaggers openly carry firearms to political rallies. It's simply unnecessary and inflammatory, not to mention petulant and juvenile. This is not how civilized people deal with issues.

I completely agree with you when it comes to the massive overkill capacity of the US military. I suppose it might come in handy during an invasion by extraterrestrials, but it is a ridiculous and provocative expense otherwise. We have, at least, been trying to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in our arsenal, and some weapons procurement has been scaled back, but yes, we could cut the military budget in half and still have more than enough. Particularly if we refrained from invading countries that posed no threat to us, like Iraq. I have less issue with going after Afghanistan, since the Taliban actually did harbor the assholes who attacked us, but even there, I think we could have been a lot smarter and more efficient about how we went after them.




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