Monday, September 06, 2010

The flip side of DBAD: we can call people dicks, too.

Who knew that Mass Treble's (Twitter) Golden Rule, don't be a dick, would be so controversial? Even stranger is that, due to how the word "dick" is interpreted so widely as to include many things which I find to be quite positive, I find myself often arguing against how DBAD is implemented. That said, I do in general think that not being a dick is a good and laudable goal, so long as one keeps a reasonable definition of the term.

In fact, I think it's a laudable enough goal that I'm quite willing to ask others to not act in asinine ways towards me and (more importantly) those people around me that I care about. To take one specific example, I'm quite content to demand that people not be misogynistic dicks. I consider it to be quite dickish to take prudish, sex-negative views about women and impose them on the world around you. Over at Daylight Atheism, Ebonmuse points out a few particularly appalling examples of this, including a picture that drives the point home:

Let me make this perfectly clear: if you are to escape being called a dick by people like me, you don't get to demand that women sit at the back of the bus any more than you get to demand that blacks do. I really don't give a flip if your religion says that you have the moral obligation to be dicks to those around you or not, so much as I care that this behavior causes real and physical harm to other human beings. If there is a more clear sign of being a dick than being willing to subjugate half of the human race to appease your own twisted morals, I don't know what it is.

At its most basic, much of why I write the words I write and spill the pixels that I spill over religion come down to the DBAD principle. Evidence such as these examples shows that religion is a rather efficient machine for either turning people into dicks, or at least amplifying dickish behavior by insulating it from analysis and criticism. After all, it takes religion to get one to say that maybe gay kids shouldn't be as protected from bullying as everyone else. It takes religion to lead otherwise decent people to oppose a lifesaving mode of defense against AIDS and other STDs.  And so on, ad nauseum.

In short, if we're to really take seriously, Mass' Rule, then that doesn't mean that atheists and other freethinkers should shut up, but rather, that we should be more vocal than ever about diskish and unjust acts, whether religiously motivated or not.

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