A note about The Deviated Norm

This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anti-Atheist Bigotry and Being an "Ally"

You are not an ally of trans people if you tell us that we need to be careful, be more aware of anti-trans bigotry, that we need to be less out, but have no idea who Angie Zapata is.

You are not an ally of queer people if you tell us that we need to be careful, be more aware of anti-queer bigotry, that we need to be less out, but haven't heard of the 11 year old Massachusetts boy who committed suicide less than a week ago, after months of homophobic bullying.

You are not an ally of atheists if you tell us that we need to be careful, be more aware of anti-atheist bigotry, that we need to be less out, but don't know about the various laws that say we can't even give testimony in court (in some U.S. states), don't know about what happens to out atheists in the military, and haven't even heard of the recent (2007) Gallup Poll which says that of all of these groups: Catholics, African-Americans, Jews, women, Latinos, Mormons, people married more than twice, people over the age of 72, homosexuals, and Atheists, that Atheists alone are the group that a majority of people in the U.S. would refuse to vote for, regardless of our qualifications (by the way, that list, it's in order of decreasing "electability").

You just aren't. Even if you're a family member of us. Even if you think of yourself as an "ally." Until you not only know about the various prejudices and dangers out there, but are plugged into our communities, until you can literally run circles around the knowledge that I have just bouncing around in my head (because yes, I DO pay attention to the way that my communities are stigmatized, and victimized, and implying otherwise if fucking patronizing as hell), then you can tell me fuck-all about how dangerous it can be out there.

Because this is the shortest fucking post I could write about the hatred out there for queers and trans people and atheists. That's right. At this moment, I could call up 10s, maybe hundreds more stories and factoids and statistics about MY communities. So don't tell me that I don't understand. Because I do.

This next bit is a nice little display of more anti-atheist bigotry put out by our friends the AiG.

Trigger Warning

16 comments:

  1. As a queer person of a religious minority (which many people would interpret as atheist), I object to the tone of this post. I don't know who Angie Zapata is, but that doesn't keep me from understanding how dangerous the world is for transpeople. Many of my friends (especially those who live far away from Massachusetts) probably don't know about the 11-year-old boy who killed himself, but when they talk about anti-queer bigotry, I know they're on my side because they have real concern for my safety. My point is, it doesn't take specific knowledge to understand what discrimination and bigotry feel like--it takes compassion. We all need to be well-informed, but we don't need to discourage our less-well-informed allies from being our allies by telling them they can't care about us unless they know all the details.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps my point was not clear?
    You can be an ally without knowing about everything that happens in a certain community, but you sure as hell can't be one if you are telling people they are "too" out in their deviance or question if they are aware "enough" of the danger they face, if you can't even name actual dangers they should be aware of.

    And yeah. I do reserve the right to question someone's involvement as a trans ally if they haven't heard of Angie Zapata. Almost everyone I know who is trans/a trans ally KNOWS about Angie Zapata. We TALK about Angie Zapata, we have read or currently are READing about Angie Zapata. The trial of her killer, being blogged DAILY about at Pam's House Blend (by a trans writer). Type her name in at Shakesville's search engine and there at at least 5 posts that mention her. On Menstrual Poetry there has been at least one post about it. Ditto The Gaytheist Agenda. This is my super-fast (which is to say very incomplete) perusal of trans/ally run blogs.

    I don't want my allies to be "on my side", I have well-intentioned family for that (the impetus for this post). I want my allies to actually, know what I'm talking about when I mention the things in my life that are every day occurences.
    I expect my Allies to not need constant reminders about these things.

    You can be well-intentioned. You can be nice. You can even want what's best for me, but if you don't actually know about the things I face daily that the majority culture has no need to face, then you aren't reaching past your privilege and you aren't my ally.

    Sorry.

    (Same goes for me when it comes to groups I don't belong to.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. *sigh*

    I'm pretty sure the definition of "ally" IS someone who is genuinely on your side. Well-intentioned family members, if they're 'telling people they are "too" out in their deviance or question if they are aware "enough" of the danger they face, if you can't even name actual dangers they should be aware of,' aren't genuinely on your side.

    And I'm sorry, but recognizing Angie Zapata's name is neither necessary nor enough. Knowing transpeople are in real danger of being killed for their gender identities is what really matters, not a single person's name. (What right to we have to hold her up as an icon of trans-awareness, anyway? It's rather sensationalist, if well-intentioned.) I honestly didn't know about her until I read this post, and it's not because I'm not a trans ally; it's because I'd rather live my life in a way that is genuinely allied to transpeople (loving them, respecting them, and expecting others to do the same--just like we ALL should do) than make sure I'm up-to-date on every transphobic tragedy that happens. Knowing Angie Zapata's name does not mean I "don't actually know about the things [you] face daily that the majority culture has no need to face." Likewise, KNOWING her name doesn't mean a person DOES actually understand those things.

    -BF

    ReplyDelete
  4. BF, I'm not sure if you and the previous Anon are the same, so:
    My post explicitly was about people telling me that they worry about me because I don't seem to know about the prejudice lobbed against atheists and trans people.

    Yet, these same people who imply that I should change my living situation to suit their idea of safety, have less current knowledge of actual oppression that my groups face than I do. This is not a way to be an ally. (As I believe you understand)

    As such, I take issue with someone saying my "tone" is offensive to them just because I define my allies as people who (if they are going to lecture to me about dangers) Know More Than I Do about said Dangers.

    That was the purpose of this post.

    I agree that knowing the names of the latest victim of transphobic violence (and in the cases of Zapata and many others, trans-misogyny based) is not enough. I think it's possible it may not be necessary, but I wonder.
    I wonder: if you don't know about Gwen Araujo, if you don't know about Zapata, where are you getting information from? I read blogs by Canadian gays (and learn about some of the challeneges faced by them) even though I'm not Canadian, and because of it I know that the Canadian government has a horrible history of granting asylum to those fleeing homophobic countries. I read blogs by PoC (and learn about some of the challenges faced by them) even though I'm not a Person of Color, and thus hear about racist cops in Texas. That's what being an Ally is.

    And Yeah. It is sensationalizing, but my point is still this: these are the Most talked about, the Most written about, the Most blogged about instances of anti-trans violence. So why haven't allies heard of them?

    Angie Zapata has been dead since July of 2008.

    ReplyDelete
  5. damn it atheits should be less out... like all other religious fanatics...

    ReplyDelete
  6. *raised eyebrow, confused look*

    Was that a failed attempt at sarcasm?

    ReplyDelete
  7. In general, I agree with the post because I think folks are more inclined to need encouragement to be true to themselves than to need excuses to be false to themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  8. no sarcasm, i meant exactly what i wrote. :)
    i support all queer/trans people whether they just want to live peacefully in the limited boudries of present social norms or whether they fight to change them. but religious fanatics i don't support and never will. :)

    hayley

    ReplyDelete
  9. While I'll allow that it's possible to be fanatically Atheist, I don't think it's any more reasonable to say that all Atheists are fanatics than it would be to say that all Christians are fanatics. In fact, fanaticism implies sort of a frenzied uncritical devotion to a certain idea; most of the Atheists that I've met are very logical and have thought through their beliefs in a very thorough and critical way.

    - SE

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dear SE

    I'm pretty sure all your friends had carefully thought their views through and that they are honest and virtuous people. But the truth is that most people quickly get tired of thinking and no matter what ideology they are fed (religion, nationalism, chauvinism or atheism etc) they just take it as it comes and don't question it. Most probably the total death toll of atheism is lower than the one of various other religions. Unfortunately, not for the lack of trying, it just so happens that atheism of all religions (I'll explain below why I keep calling it a religion) gained political support most recently in human history.

    Atheism is a belief and generally it goes like this – “I strongly believe (or even know) that God does not exist and I derive my ethical values from elsewhere than holy books.” (in many cases statements about oppressiveness and general harmfulness of religions) However in many cases God (or other spiritual being/s) is substituted by Science. By a fanatical belief in science. But the science, the complicated physics that prove there never had to be a god are mostly theoretical models, which cannot be verified at the moment due to our lacking technology. Thus using them as arguments to support one's philosophy and way of life is more a form of religious devotion than logic. And many, many atheists make this mistake, but still call themselves rationalists and feel better than all these red-neck, gullible religious people. Alas it doesn't end there, many an atheist not only feels superior, s/he also thinks it right to ridicule or instruct people who believe otherwise. It might be just my personal experience but I met much more atheists lecturing their beliefs at a dinner table or a party than any other religious people.

    Now, conclusion at last ;) I don't claim all atheists/muslims/christans etc are fanatics. However, if someone puts the word atheistic on the banner (or whatever that is) of his/her journal and than writes a post about it, that suggests their atheism is so visible other people say they should tone it down a little or it may end badly for them – that immediately evokes an association that this person has a superior attitude and puts up a preaching show if only an occasion arises. And I've seen and heard this so many times before. It may be jumping into conclusions on my part, but the belittling response (with really badly veiled aggression) I got from the author... well it just makes me feel I may be actually right.

    sorry for the lengthy comment
    hayley

    ReplyDelete
  11. What you should be a little more sorry about hayley is implying I'm a fanatic, and additionally trying to define my atheism for me. Fucking quit it.

    Also, it wasn't badly-veiled aggression. If I get pissed, I use real aggression, none of that psuedo-shit. For instance, that first sentence, oh and the second one.

    I honestly couldn't tell if you were being serious or not. Atheism isn't a religion (no matter how much you argue that it is), atheists have no single book, nor group of people that we look to for guidance. So it might quite possibly have been tongue in cheek.

    I don't know where you get your argument about "faith in physics", but I don't need any convoluted proofs for why I don't believe.
    I don't believe because there is no actual evidence FOR belief. I look around the world around me and a belief in the supernatural does nothing at all to further my understanding of the world.

    Additionally. Did you bother to watch the (whole 15 second) video? Did you notice the hate speach? How is me acknowledging a lack of a belief in gods on par with saying "kill all atheists" and "200 years ago christians would hang you... and our time will come again"? That's fanatical. Saying in public: "I don't believe" isn't. It just isn't. Because I'm sure all the non-fanatical believers you are talking about ARE open about their faith. The amount of ads on buses telling me to go to church attest to that (as do the various religious symbols people around me wear).

    Being an out atheist is an act of resistance, in the same way that being an out queer is one. Because politicians like Sally Kern decide to use OUR EXISTENCE as a scare tactic. Not the existence of some "fanatical" splinter group, just the existence of us. Publicly identifying as that (on my blog and in some aspects of my life) isn't about forcing anyone to give up their beliefs (even though I get harrassed on a constant basis by others who believe I should just start believing how they do), it's about letting people know that we exist, not as some nameless, faceless evil enemy (which we are often portrayed as), but as real people.

    If you can't understand how that is similar to queer people you support, you can suck it. (More aggression)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I feel the need to support my buddy E on all accounts.

    I am an atheist. I'm an out atheist. I've been one my entire life--not because science tells me to be, but because it's what makes sense to me. As a small child, I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of a higher power and I never have. I came from a generally religious family but was given the opportunity to believe or not believe in whatever I felt compelled to. Given that I came to these conclusions on my own, never followed any dogma set down by religious or scientific leaders, and I do not necessarily believe that my way is the way to a better/happier/fuller life, I do not see how you can count my atheism as a religion.

    And you know why, Ms. Hayley, you've probably witnessed your atheist friends so fervently discussing the merits of their beliefs (or lack thereof)? Because atheists are constantly forced to defend themselves, to explain. While, in general, monotheism is everywhere in our culture (particularly in the form of Christianity), when we ask that we politely be excused from it, it is taken as an affront to someone's right to believe in God. We are told that we are taking away your freedom of expression and forced to defend ourselves.

    I had a point, at the beginning, but I've lost it now in my fanatical ravings. I suppose I'll just agree with E... if you don't get it, you can... just fucking stop reading.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear DeviantE :)

    Thank you for the not veiled aggression and for you proving I made a correct guess. You can't discuss a topic or present your arguments without aggression and that is a trait of a fanatic. You only accept your own point of view and attack those who think otherwise, yet you make discrimination a predominant topic of your journal. I find it amusing. Already Arthur Schopenhauer in his “The Art of Controversy” writes about your method discussion, not particularly favourably though. You are hilariously touchy. I could never understand people, who write really strong things on their public blogs (you haven't restricted access to yours in any way) and don't have the thick skin required to defend their point of view with style and wit.


    “What you should be a little more sorry about hayley is implying I'm a fanatic, and additionally trying to define my atheism for me. Fucking quit it.”

    I was writing about the general perception of atheism and the atheists I had encountered as a group. A personal comment was only made at the end of my post.


    “Also, it wasn't badly-veiled aggression. If I get pissed, I use real aggression, none of that psuedo-shit. For instance, that first sentence, oh and the second one.”

    My, my this one is a cute little sentence. In your first answer you implied that I am stupid and witless (did you or do you feel sorry for it?), by stating that I tried to make a funny, intelligent comment, but failed miserably. Diminishing and ridiculing an adversary in discussion is a form of verbal aggression. When a person who points out all forms of discrimination and chauvinism in their writing tries to convince me to the contrary... this person is just a hypocrite. And hypocrisy is a common trait of fanatics. The laws and rules they want to impose only apply to the rest of the world never to them.


    “I honestly couldn't tell if you were being serious or not. Atheism isn't a religion (no matter how much you argue that it is), atheists have no single book, nor group of people that we look to for guidance. So it might quite possibly have been tongue in cheek.”

    I'm seriously shocked that you aren't acquainted with the works of prof Richard Dawknis. But on the other had he is not American so why should you be... Atheists also have websites and forums, where they apparently group because they tend to cite them in discussion (I have never searched for them thus I can't provide any links). They even attempt to create their own rites of passage (these used to be a predominantly religious thing) as the ridiculous humanist wedding. Buddhism or Hinduism have no single book either.

    Most of the atheist preachings i've witnessed were started by atheists themselves, who noticed their occasion to prove how much more enlightened and rational they are.


    You said:
    “Being an out atheist is an act of resistance, in the same way that being an out queer is one. Because politicians like Sally Kern decide to use OUR EXISTENCE as a scare tactic. Not the existence of some "fanatical" splinter group, just the existence of us.”

    I'm queer and I don't think of it as an act of resistance. It is just who I'm. Whatever some politicians say about people like me is not my concern. I have a vote and I use it. If some people are afraid(?) of queer or atheist people than they must be really unsure of their own identity and I just have pity for them.

    I'm also sorry that people around you try to force you to become a believer. I haven't participated in any religious practices since I was 14 (am 26 now) even though I was baptised like most people around me and I have officially quit the church a few years ago even though it takes patience and paper work. And some people tried to persuade me to make an effort and come back to church. Usually I knew the bible and the history of church much better than they did, so they were unable to convince me.


    “I don't believe because there is no actual evidence FOR belief. I look around the world around me and a belief in the supernatural does nothing at all to further my understanding of the world.”

    Since you discard physics and science there are also no hard evidence to the contrary. So you choose to believe that there is no supernatural. Because belief is assuming that sth is true even though there is no clear evidence to support it.


    “Did you bother to watch the (whole 15 second) video? Did you notice the hate speach?”

    I'm truly sorry but it is not supported by my browser or my os. Do you know what Spanish communists did, not said, in the name of atheism? And not only them. Atheists are capable of the same atrocities religious people are. Because we are all people, hate and violence is somewhere in us and easily comes to the surface given the right incentive. And your answer to me was full of hate and aggression, but good luck changing the world for the better :)

    hayley

    ps. dear breadmaker, what in my previous post suggests that i intend to read this blog any further. but since it is an open blog i do have a right to an opinion or don't i?

    "While, in general, monotheism is everywhere in our culture (particularly in the form of Christianity), when we ask that we politely be excused from it, it is taken as an affront to someone's right to believe in God."

    an affront? really? a very amusing choice of words, but i've never heard anything like this before, so i have only your word for it, that someone actually feels this way ;) oh and yes, it is very wise to blame history for how the world is today.

    ReplyDelete
  14. LOL @ Hayley.

    E's blog. E's rules. You're just a visitor, you don't get to tell E how to run the show.

    DeviantE: Great post. Rock on.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Congratulations to you Jha'Meia! You just proved to be a great buddy and supporter of DeviantE. You also proved that you can't understand what you're reading. I just disagree with DeviantE and give my reasons as to why. I don't tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do. I'm just not convinced by what is written here and give my perspective. True, in an opinionated and strong way, but isn't that a local standard? Mindlessly supporting someone is just sad. It were exactly the conformist people like you that helped all the great totalitarian tragedies of the 20th century happen. To paraphrase your bright remark: Hitler's country, Hitler's rules. you Jews (or citizens of subdued countries) are just visitors and you don't get tell him how to run the show. You should just fuck off or better go die in concentration camps.

    hayley

    ReplyDelete
  16. Godwin's law is now in effect!
    It only took 15 responses to get there. Let's shoot for even less next time, team!

    ReplyDelete

Comments that do not directly relate to points made in either the post itself or the comments of that post will be subject to deletion. So will comments that use an oppressed status as an insult (ie, racist comments, ableist comments, sexist comments, etc.)

If you have a problem with having your comment deleted, you may email me at thedeviatednorm@gmail.com
I make no promises on whether you will receive a response.

My house, my rules. Suck it up.