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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1259 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2007 :  15:39:09  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message
I am having trouble finding the link, but I recently heard the president of American Atheists discuss the "no atheists in foxholes" idea. She said people should stop using that phrase because it's offensive to atheists.

So what if it's offensive? People should stop using that phrase because it's wrong. Isn't that a better argument? I, for one, would be far more likely to change if I found out I was saying something wrong, rather than something offensive.

Is, "you should stop saying that because it offends me," really a valid demand? Doesn't, "you should stop saying that because it's wrong and makes you look like a moron," have a little more weight behind it?

I am now "offended" by Ms. Ellen Johnson's whiney remarks. This woman, who claims to speak for atheists, has single-handedly undermined her own cause by making atheists seem like another whining special interest group.

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2007 :  16:56:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I agree completely.

Should American Atheists stop attacking religion because the religious are offended?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 02/01/2007 16:58:13
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2007 :  16:57:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Some things people say really are offensive. But in the case of “atheists in to foxholes" I agree with you. It's simply wrong. And that is a good enough reason to go after it. In short, I agree…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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JohnOAS
SFN Regular

Australia
800 Posts

Posted - 02/01/2007 :  17:03:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit JohnOAS's Homepage Send JohnOAS a Private Message
I agree. There is no innate "right to not be offended".

IMH(BC)O, people spend waaay too much time wondering about what X will think if they say Y, rather than why they may think that way.

John's just this guy, you know.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  04:05:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
The "atheists in foxholes" nonsense dates to WW-II and is usually credited to Ernie Pyle, a famous war coorespondent. There's been some disagreement on this:
quote:
Atheists in foxholes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The precise origin of the phrase "There are no atheists in foxholes", coined some time during World War II, is uncertain. Various sources credit Lieutenant-Colonel William J. Clear[citation needed], or Lieutenant-Colonel William Casey[1], but the phrase is most often attributed to journalist Ernie Pyle[2][3][4]. The line is used in the film "Wake Island" which was released sometime in early 1942.

The statement is used to imply that atheists really do believe in God deep down, and that in times of extreme stress or fear, that belief will surface, overwhelming the less substantial affectation of atheism. Many atheists find use of this saying offensive. Atheistic combat veterans disagree with the claim concerning the loss of atheism under the stress of battle. Of further interest is the possibility that a soldier, looking out of the foxhole at the death and destruction of a battlefield might cease to believe in God because God obviously hates and wishes to see that soldier killed. Therefore, what possible good could such a God do the soldier?

As for myself, I don't care. It's just another sound byte; some more hyperbole in a world filled with it. This one is old and tired and means nothing, if only because it is doubtful if Mr. Pyle (or whomever) actually knew many -- or any? -- combat atheists.

Ms, Johnson is guilty of re-creating a tempest in the teapot, little more, and her request to desist means about as much because it ain't happenin'. There will still be atheists in foxholes for as long as there are working foxholes, and there will always be religious dingbats to staunchly deny it, often at the top of their lungs. Thin-skinned atheists might forget how to laugh and raise the middle finger.....

Isn't "atheists & foxholes" one of verlch's favorites? I seem to recall that he uses it in his signature.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 02/02/2007 04:08:24
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  04:17:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Boron wrote:
quote:
So what if it's offensive? People should stop using that phrase because it's wrong. Isn't that a better argument?
No offense (ha ha), but I think you're missing the common sense boat here. As a general principle, I agree with you. But the reason why the saying is offensive to atheists is because it is wrong.

Is anyone stupid enough to think that atheists are offended because we don't like it being publicly rubbed in that in fox holes we convert to religiosity? No. We are offended because many of us have been atheists while engaging in life-threatening service.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 02/02/2007 04:20:17
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  06:03:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
B10, I think you may have hear this on NPR's All Things Considered from a few weeks ago. The story was about atheism in general, but there was a discussion of the expression "no atheists in foxholes" which was used in an earlier NPR feature.
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  07:36:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
If people are offended by something, that is their decision. That is different than being rude for no apparent reason. It's rude to tell atheists who have been in foxholes that they have not been in foxholes.

Our culture, not always in agreement with me, considers things that are rude to also be offensive.

I think most Christians are atheists at heart. They really don't believe in the supernatural, and would be atheists if it was culturally acceptable to be atheists.

If Christians think that's offensive, that's their decision. However, I generally am not rude enough to go into strange churches and scream that last paragraph while people are trying to listen to a sermon.

However, if they're stupid enough to read what I say on discussion forums and are offended, then that's entirely their problem.

While what Ellen says is not literally correct, it's well within the bounds of the common usage of the terms.

Martha is also correct, it is rude because it is wrong.


I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  08:43:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
I am not easily offended anymore. I can be passionate about things, but not offended. Perhaps this is because to me, being offended is something that is worth exploring. If I'm offended, I'm triggered to do some soulsearching on why I am offended. Oftentimes, it is because my own reasoning has holes in it.

"There are no atheists in foxholes" doesn't offend me. It makes me shake my head in pity for the ignorance of the person making the claim. I cannot be offended by ignorance, I can only pity it.

Thinking about it, there is one thing that offends me, and that is lies. Perhaps that is why I can be offended by creationists, for example, because often I have the idea that they aren't just ignorant, they're just plain dishonest.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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McQ
Skeptic Friend

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  10:15:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send McQ a Private Message
Having been an atheist in a foxhole, I don't find the term offensive, just stupid. It's one of hundreds of sayings and cliches that either have an opposite saying, or are just plain wrong.

"Haste makes waste"-----""The early bird catches the worm"

Elvis didn't do no drugs!
--Penn Gillette
Edited by - McQ on 02/02/2007 10:16:28
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  11:01:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
We have no right to immunity from offense.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  13:59:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I agree with Marfknox. It is offensive to some degree to some atheists for the reason it implies we really don't believe our beliefs and will come running home to mommy if threatened.

Whether it is a better defense to use the false fact argument depends on your audience and circumstance as does whether or not it is wise or useful to be offensive yourself.


I feel I don't wish to compromise my scientific or skeptic integrity with all the nonsense denying science doesn't sit well with religious beliefs. Putting the two into separate categories to me is a cop out way of ignoring reality. Other people choose the cognitively dissonant path arguing it will convert more people to science or they choose it because they maintain their own cognitive dissonance.



BTW, there are no atheists in hell.


Edited by - beskeptigal on 02/02/2007 14:00:13
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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1259 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  16:12:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist:
B10, I think you may have hear this on NPR's All Things Considered from a few weeks ago. The story was about atheism in general, but there was a discussion of the expression "no atheists in foxholes" which was used in an earlier NPR feature.
That's the one. Thanks! I was hoping there would be a transcript, but am unwilling to pay for it. Oh well.
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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1259 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  16:21:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox:

Boron wrote:
quote:
So what if it's offensive? People should stop using that phrase because it's wrong. Isn't that a better argument?
No offense (ha ha), but I think you're missing the common sense boat here. As a general principle, I agree with you. But the reason why the saying is offensive to atheists is because it is wrong.

Is anyone stupid enough to think that atheists are offended because we don't like it being publicly rubbed in that in fox holes we convert to religiosity? No. We are offended because many of us have been atheists while engaging in life-threatening service.
For the most part, marfknox, I agree with you; however, Ms. Ellen Johnson did not (to my recollection) make that distinction. She only complained that atheists get offended when people say, "there are no atheists in foxholes."

She was arguing from a position of weakness, giving the following impression: "it offends me when you do this, so please stop. Please? I'll cry if you don't."
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  19:13:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Boron wrote:
quote:
Ms. Ellen Johnson did not (to my recollection) make that distinction
Why would she need to make the distinction if it was obvious and common sense? You claim she's arguing from a position of weakness, but I think she was using a deliberate PR strategy. In this context, she was crying out as a representative of a minority group that is being offended by traditional prejudices. Such a position can actually be quite effective in today's mainstream culture which is so about breaking old prejudices, championing diversity, and being sensitive to minority groups.

Edited to add: So even if you view being factually incorrect as worse than being offensive, most people might find the latter to be worse. Remember, lots of people care more about emotions than facts.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 02/02/2007 19:15:51
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/02/2007 :  21:09:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
Offending statements are often wrong, and that may very well be the reason they are offensive. They may also be offensive because they are true. I agree fully with Boron, things that are wrong should be called out as wrong, not offensive. It doesn't matter if someone is offended or if someone laughs because of a statement. What may matter is the truth in the statement. Personally, I am not offended by the satement, but I also don't care if others are. There are plenty of things someone can say to offend me (if offend means to draw to the offensive) but my offense will be accuracy and calling my opponents ignorance to light. Hurting my feelings is unlikely no matter what one says to me, but even in that case my feelings are not protected by any right.

Marf said:
quote:

Remember, lots of people care more about emotions than facts.


Why should we cater to that? I understand that one should walk the line that leads to their desired result, but if I want to walk the lines as I see them why should I care so long as I accept the consequences? If someone takes offense at a comment or joke (or whatever), then they must deal with it. It is not a political fiasco, or international incident is it? If no one wants to talk to me at the office because I told Suzy that her but did look big in her favorite dress, then so be it. That does not change my opinion of the dress. I may not want such consequences and therefore, I may apologize (personally I wouldn't but you see my illustration).

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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