From Facebook friend to blocked in 3 days!

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Well, that was quick. Had someone who asked me to friend them two or three days ago unfriend and block me within the past 12 hours. I only agreed to accept the friend request because we had a mutual friend, but apparently she didn’t look first to see if she’d appreciate my point of view on things spiritual before sending out the invite.

It all started when she posted this Atheism meme on the right here to her wall. It was exactly the sort of thing I find hard to let slide by without comment. So I pointed out that Atheism has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution. That atheism says nothing about a person’s beliefs beyond the fact that they lack belief in god(s). Above and beyond that, it misrepresents the science of both theories.

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Things went downhill quickly from there. Someone else asked what it was the meme was trying to say and I pointed out that it was a poor attempt to clapback at a similar meme on Christianity (also to the right). The difference between them being that the Christianity meme hits on actual tenets of Christian faith — everlasting life through belief in a resurrected god, the taint of sin, Eve and forbidden fruit, etc. — that sound ludicrous when you think about it whereas the atheism one doesn’t because atheism isn’t a religion that requires adherence to doctrine.

Then a fourth person made a comment about “a-theism” meaning they must be “a-gainst God” to which I responded with the fact that it’s hard to be against something that doesn’t exist. You may as well say you’re against Unicorns for all the sense that would make. That the word “atheism” has been around since before the 5th century and is derived from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. When I next returned to this thread because someone had liked my comment I was surprised to see it had been deleted.

My new friend then started asking me if I didn’t understand “allegory”, but rather than take up the argument, I pointed out that a previous comment had been deleted. I said I was happy to have this discussion with them if it wasn’t going to upset them, but if my comments were just going to be deleted then I was certain I could find better ways to spend my time.

It was at this point that she took it upon herself to explain to me that her concept of god was less old-white-bearded-guy-in-the-sky than it was “Consciousness” with a capital C. She went on to tell me that there are no atheists in fox holes and that the reason I didn’t believe in whatever it is she considered to be God was because I lacked the curiosity and desire to truly know the truth.

One of the things that always irritates me is when someone who barely knows anything about me attempts to explain to me what I do and don’t know or how much effort I’ve put into understanding or learning about something. So I pointed out to her how arrogant it was to presume that I must not have been sufficiently curious enough or wanted to know the truth bad enough just because I don’t believe the same things she does. I said it was that kind of you-must-not-have-believed-enough “victim blaming” was, frankly, offensive. I pointed out that dismissing my viewpoint being a result of my apathetic curiosity was a lazy way to avoid having to provide support for her beliefs.

Of course, I was much more eloquent in my phrasing, but I’m trying to recall all of this from memory because it appears I’ve been unfriended and blocked as there’s no sign of the comments she had left on posts on my wall and I no longer see her in my friends list.

Not that I am at all bothered by this. Clearly she was happy to be my friend so long as we expressed similar viewpoints. Which, politically at least, we did. However, the moment I disagreed with her on her spiritual beliefs she couldn’t unfriend me fast enough. The thing about it is, I worked very hard not to suggest she was an idiot and even when I got irritated, I tried to keep it civil. I also attempted to drop the matter with a I’ll agree to disagree and move on, but she had to go and try and tell me how I had failed to be curious enough.

Chalk one more win up to my sparkling personality.

How not to win an argument.

I know that dealing with ignorant people who cling to long disproven ideas can be frustrating — this blog is full of examples of such tribulations — but this is not the proper way to win an argument over whether or not the Earth is flat:

Police, firefighters called in after flat Earth debate turns heated – Ottawa – CBC News.

Police said a 56-year-old Brockville man was at a campsite with his son and his son’s girlfriend when the woman began insisting that the Earth is flat.

The older man insisted the Earth is round.

It’s not clear if anyone at the campfire put forth the argument that the Earth’s equatorial bulge makes it not perfectly round, but instead a shape known as an oblate spheroid.

Nevertheless, police said the man became so enraged he began throwing objects into the campfire, including a propane cylinder.

While I can appreciate how an exploding propane filter could act as an exclamation point to your well-reasoned debate, it’s still a stupidly dangerous thing to do and calls into question your own intelligence in spite of the fact that you’re technically correct about the generally spheroid shape of the planet. In short, don’t do that.

Also, I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite to a fault? Talk about shattering a stereotype in the worst possible way.

On the issue of hateful and violent outbursts at rallies.

Here’s another video from a McCain/Palin rally that shows some of the racism and contempt of the supporters present:

What struck me while watching the video is that the Obama supporters present at the location simply chanted his name the entire time. You can hear them in the background and see them several times during the course of the video. They’re in a line, holding up signs, and chanting “Obama” over and over again. Near as I can tell none of them says anything else nor do any of them step out of the line in an aggressive way. Not only is all the vitriol coming from the McCain/Palin supporters, but more than once various people make aggressive motions toward the Obama supporters.

Now I realize it’s entirely possible that the video has been edited to remove anything that might reflect poorly on the Obama supporters, but it seems to me based on personal experience and from news reports over the passing months that if someone is making racist or violent statements the majority of the time it’s coming from the McCain/Palin camp. I also realize that this may be confirmation bias on my own part.

So I did some digging and it turns out there’s been some Obama supporters who have had some angry words of their own to share. It meant forging onto various Conservative websites such as the always annoying Michelle Malkin blog to find them, but those are the most likely places stories like that would be collected and there’s certainly no shortage of people on the left acting out. Some of the complaints raised on the right seem a little over-hyped – they want to claim calling McCain a lair and that booing Palin is hate speech – but there’s plenty of wackos who have assaulted Republicans and come up with some pretty hateful and, yes, violent imagery. There’s the guys with the Sarah Palin is a cunt t-shirts which are definitely hateful, but hard to get too upset about considering McCain has called his own wife a cunt. There’s the artwork that designates Sarah Palin as a M.I.L.P. or Mother I’d Like to Punch which is definitely a violent image. It’s from a webcomic and as such is meant as a joke and I’m guilty of such hyperbole myself having once said that I want to punch Tony Sinclair in the mouth which was also meant as a joke, but I can see how fans of Sarah Palin (and Tony Sinclair) could take the statements as indicative of actual desire. There’s the two idiots who torched a McCain/Palin campaign sign with Molotov cocktails. And there are other examples such as the “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers that have been floating around.

The emotional side of me wants to protest that the examples from the left, with a few rare exceptions, aren’t meant to be taken seriously whereas too many of the examples on the right seem to be very sincere and real, but that would be giving in to confirmation bias again. The truth is there are angry and hateful people on both sides and it’s easy, as humans, to let our frustrations boil over into hateful rhetoric if we’re not careful. We should strive to be mindful of this fact and work to remind not just ourselves, but each other when we’re stepping over that line. The hecklers on both sides should be challenged and chastised if they are sincere in their hate. Note that isn’t to say they should be suppressed as that would just drive the hate underground, but the art of shunning is one we could use a bit more of in these heated displays.

I seriously dislike what McCain has done to his principles in the pursuit of the Presidency and I dislike Sarah Palin’s political stance on just about every issue, but I don’t hate either person and I don’t wish harm on them or their supporters. Hopefully there are more folks out there who share that viewpoint on both sides of the debate than the ones who espouse violence and hate. It speaks to my optimism in humanity that I’d like to believe that that is the case.