Atheism in 2012: Double Standards & Hypocrisy

This is the first post in my series on Atheism, a series of observations with the goal of leading to a hypothesis as to why atheism has yet to become the dominant belief structure of society, particularly among technologically wealthy cultures.

This particular post will reference a post by my new friend Larry, which I encourage you to familiarize yourself with as it's a pretty good read and offers a lot of insight into the double standards & hypocrisy I've encountered in my interactions with atheists. He calls it:  Freedom of Expression

Double Standards
Recently, Paula Kirby posted an article that inspired me to write a fairly controversial post.

Apparently, the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society at UCL Union decided to use a cartoon depicting Jesus and Muhammad to promote a meeting at a pub. UCLU received complaints and asked them to remove the image. Things escalated from there.1 

Part of the escalation involved death threats to a 17-year-old who changed this facebook profile picture to the cartoon in question, an incident featured both in Ms. Kirby's article and in my controversial post it inspired.

With the terms: "atheist" (modifying an organization), "atheists" (indicating an audience), "we", and "our," Ms. Kirby's article paints atheists as a group whose freedom of expression is under siege. As the obvious common thread when referring to a group as atheist is their common lack of belief in a deity, the article is likely to lead one to believe that the inclusive group is being targeted because of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

As the cartoon series in question is (barely debatable) obvious mockery of the behavior and attitudes of the religious as observed by the cartoonist, and the cartoon uses characters from those religions to express that mockery - it's evident that the mockery is targeted on the basis of religious beliefs. 

I'm of the mind that it's a double standard to target a group because of their religious beliefs and then rage against those that would target others because of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

So moved by this blatant double standard, I used my freedom of expression and wrote my controversial post, full of scorn, criticizing the decisions made in the exercise of Mr. Morgan and Ms. Kirby's freedom of expression.

In response, I receive criticism and scorn of my exercise of my freedom of expression. It was labeled stupid by my new friend Larry, and those at RDF couldn't see anything wrong with targeting on the basis of religious beliefs but took a hardline stance against targeting on the basis of lack of religious beliefs..

I asked Larry to explain his position, and he was gracious enough to do so2. Here's my analysis and response:

I took some time poking around Larry's blog in an attempt to find a direct statement and failed, but I found enough circumstantial evidence to feel confident continuing the analysis with the assumption that he is an atheist. I point this out because I see the first paragraph of his explanation as a demonstration of a sense of humor. My post is titled 'These Atheists are Bullies' ('These' was added), and it would appear he's an atheist writing a post with the intent to 'heap additional abuse' on me, something one might expect a bully to do.

Then there's an accusation of hypocrisy - an insufferable prick complaining about insufferable pricks. This is a slight misinterpretation. The complaint was insufferable pricks calling for unanimous support of their right to express their prickitude. As one not only has the freedom to express what they please, one also has the freedom to support or not support that exercise of freedom. I choose not to support their mockery on the basis of religious belief, just like I refuse to support Westboro Baptist funeral 'protests' as an exercise of freedom of expression. Using a freedom as a weapon risks that freedom for everyone else.

He later uses this to imply that I don't understand rights, and that to accept a right is to accept a social obligation to protect that right. Very well, in that case I accept the limited right of freedom of expression and will vehemently defend anyone's right to expression that doesn't infringe on other rights. Cross that line, start using it to infringe on the right of freedom of religion, and my support stops at the line.

Then there's the point that mockery on the basis of religious belief isn't bullying. Maybe. I'd debate it. Particularly since it seems to be so accepted, defended, and encouraged among atheists that it is accepted as commonplace. Frequency and recurrence of such mockery starts to look like a campaign to to dehumanize a people because of their religion. If the campaign remains intact and escalates above mockery, you're well on your way to persecution on the basis of religious beliefs (or lack there of). Isn't at least the parenthetical version of that something atheists oppose?

Then the most frequent atheist behavior I've encountered occurs. He examines a statement and then pretends it says something it doesn't. Perhaps he needed clarification but was too proud to ask. 

For the record, I think murdering someone for a cartoon posted on facebook is the act of something far worse than an insufferable prick. Said murderer would not be receiving applause. I oppose that intolerance more than I do minor demonstrations of intolerance. However, just because both versions of intolerance arise in a certain situation doesn't mean the minor intolerance should pass by ignored, and there were plenty of people speaking out against the major one already.