The Myth of the Ice Cream Social

The other day , I wrote a post on the insanity those who disagree with Atheism+ have posted. And then I get to read this:

One can be an atheist and like chocolate chip ice cream. This does not mean that it is a good idea to form a club that excludes, and sees as enemies, anyone who does not like chocolate chip ice cream, or who actually prefer some other flavors.

Can anyone guess who wrote that? It was none other than Edwin Kagin. This is the founder of Camp Quest and is the legal director for American Atheists. At first I was just stunned. To think that someone of his caliber could attempt to equate something as important as social justice with ICE CREAM. My sexuality is not an ice cream flavor. My gender is not an ice cream flavor. My rights as a human being are not an ice cream flavor. How dare you belittle anyone like that?

You may be a competent legal professional, but you have not the first clue about social justice. Allow a social scientist to educate you.

First of all, let’s discuss this idea that you have already placed us into separate fictional camps. In camp “Dictionary” you have your dictionary atheists who loudly blow and bluster about how atheism means “[...] nothing more than not having a belief in a god or gods. Sorry if you don’t like that—I didn’t make the rules.” In camp “What the fuck” is everyone else who actually read the dictionary and understands there are TWO definitions for atheism (at least according to Merriam-Webster). Definition 1, which is where the Dictionary Defining Atheists (heretofore known as DDA’s) stop, says “a disbelief in the existence of deity.” Definition 2 says “the doctrine that there is no deity.” Some of you might be scratching your heads about the difference between these two definitions. I’ll give you it’s subtle, about as subtle as a garbage truck, but keep reading and I’ll clue you in.

Atheism+ doesn’t give a single flying fornication about definition 1. We absolutely all agree with that definition. What we are concerned with is definition 2. Rather, the act of definition 2. See, it’s that whole doctrine part we’re worried about. We want there to be something more to atheism. Because really, if there is nothing more to being an atheist than “there’s probably no god,” then what in the name of Carl Sagan are we doing here? You started Camp Quest and Recover Resources Center because you obviously believe there is a lack of separation between theism and everything else. You work for the improvement of the social class that is atheism through the American Atheists, the Secular Student Alliance, and your blog. And you have the audacity to imply that your atheism has fuckall to do with any of that? Do you even read what you’re writing?

Atheism+ wants to put the everything else front and center. Atheism+ proudly says that we are a group of atheists whose first and foremost priority is the ensurance of social justice for all. We believe in social justice precisely because there is no afterlife, because you don’t get to say “sorry” at the end and still get all the goodies of a heaven which doesn’t exist, because without a god we’re all we have and we’re all in this together.

If you honestly, at your core, disagree with those statements, then what are you doing as an activist atheist? Your past actions lead me to believe that you don’t, at your core, disagree. So what we have left is a petty squabble over a definition. A definition, I might add, that your actions have shaped for a generation of atheists. To tell them now that atheism is no more than a note on a dictionary page sickens me. And it should sicken you.

By your words you just want to make this some kind of Ice Cream Social, but your actions have said something far different. Would the real Edwin Kagin please step forth?

James Foutch holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Sociology from Drury University and Psychology from Missouri State University. He is working toward a Masters in Sociology at Portland State University. His primary areas of study include social distance, privilege, political economy, and intersectionality.

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Posted in Atheism+
2 comments on “The Myth of the Ice Cream Social
  1. ewok-wrangler says:

    Before you go off about the poor choice of metaphor, there’s something more basic: that Kagin implicitly characterizes A+ as “a club that excludes, and sees as enemies, anyone who does not like (what it does)” That is completely wrong: there is no exclusion, any more than a university “excludes” the people who don’t apply to enter it, or the Democratic party “excludes” people who prefer to be Republicans. And there is no declaration of enemies. Both accusations are ignorant and false, and distressingly so coming from E. Kagin.

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  1. [...] social justice and the areas where these subjects meet. One of my favorite recent entries is The Myth of the Ice Cream Social dealing with criticism of Atheism+. Subscribe to his blog or follow him on Twitter and it’s very [...]

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