There are a lot of people who seem to have the mistaken impression that characterizing people they disagree with as something they are not equals debate. Or more to the point, characterizing people as less than they are. People who believe that dehumanizing their opponents is a legitimate tactic of debate. They turn them into "others" who lack characteristics that are fairly critical to being a functional, reasonable member of society.
Take the person I recently had to ban from commenting. Apparently he thinks that I cut him off because I am afraid to debate him. Someone who likes to make references to "you atheists." Who believes, or claims to believe that atheists lack compassion, love and morality. Someone who cannot comment on the topic of a post, without engaging in dehumanizing rhetoric that disparages atheists - as though all anyone who identifies as such is, is an atheist. The only label - the only defining characteristic that matters to him, is the label of non-believer, of atheist.
The irony of this person, is that he refuses to actually debate, instead engaging in all sorts of denigrations. He decries "those" atheists refusal to debate, claiming that this is somehow proof of the superiority of his position, while all he does is spew hateful bile - pretending that this hate somehow equals debate.
Don't get me wrong. I am no supporter of religion. I haven't even the slightest compunction about ripping into religion, liberal, moderate or extreme. I have absolutely no use for it and absolutely believe that the destruction wrought by religion is not even close to balanced by the good that religion does. Sometime soon I am going to write about an issue that my lovely Juniper and I were discussing, about the "virtue" of not being virtuous. Good works done with strings attached are not all that particularly "good." Sure, they benefit people - but what does that say about the person providing that benefit. They aren't doing it because it is the right thing to do, they are doing it to get something out of it. I realize that this is not limited to religious people - people providing charity for purely secular reasons usually have ulterior motives - but that is something for a later post.
Bottom line, I am pretty much against religion.
There is a difference between me and this person who was recently banned. I don't just label people by their religious inclinations. I recognize that their faith is just one label, one aspect of the person. I recognize that there are a great many wonderful people, who just happen to be religious. I also recognize that there are a lot of really shitty people who also happen to be atheists. I recognize that atheist is just one of many labels that make the person.
I recognize that there are things specific to atheism that some theists want to debate - I am more than happy to debate about it. If you really believe that morality, for example, is impossible without a god to shape it, I am all about having the discussion. I write about morality a lot and there is a whole hell of a lot of room to argue with me, as I have a fairly controversial stance on it. While I happen to think I am right and that my position is sound, I am not so arrogant as to assume that I assume there is no possible way I could be wrong.
The irony of the argument of he who was banned, is that he was generalizing my position on morality to all atheists. The problem with that, is that while there are certainly atheists who agree with me, there are a great many more who do not. Even more interesting, there are theists who agree with my position on morality and moral relativism.
And this phenom is true of a great many label versus label sort of issues. There are a lot of things that I tend to agree with many liberals about. There are also things that I tend to agree with a lot of conservatives about. I love, for example, going to Ed's blog, because I get to argue with people on different threads at the same time. Though I have had little time for it lately, I love to argue with someone about something over on that thread, while shredding someone else's argument with them on another. I am fairly certain there is not a single person I interact with on a regular basis, who I do not have a single, significant difference of opinion with.
And there are people I generally disagree with on things - including theists, who I love to spend time with. There are authors who support political positions I am pretty fundamentally opposed to, who I never the less love to read. That is not to say that there aren't people who support things that I find so very repugnant, that I cannot stand to be around them. Oh, there most certainly are. There are ideological positions that are so far beyond the pale, that I just can't muster anything but scorn and derision. But those are few and far between.
Seriously folks, I am all about lively dissent and discourse here. I have opened my front page to dissenting views and would love to do so again. I am all about having lively, even heated debates here. What I will not accept, is the dehumanization of people who choose to engage in discussions here. That kind of language will not be fucking tolerated - period. Argue - meaning if you disagree, tell me or someone else why you disagree and why you are right. Talking about "them" and "people like you" and "you ____" is not debate or argument - rather, it is fucking bullshit and I will delete that kind of shit out of hand. If all you have is hateful bile - I don't care how much you pretty it up, hate is hate - you are not welcome here.
Though if you drop those kinds of comments (or emails) I totally reserve to right to turn it into a post and rip your bigoted, hateful fucking bullshit to shreds.