Smutty McSmut Smut

So, I was over at Cafe Witteveen and read this interesting article about a student group at UTSC – University Texas San Antonia.  The group is called Atheist Agenda, and they’re holding their annual Smut-for-Smut campaign.

Cafe Witteveen also led me to Hemant Mehta’s write up of the event, and his disagreement with the activity.  The comments on Mehta’s post were great to read – a lot of people are divided on the “appropriateness” of the event, and whether it’s damaging to the image atheists want to send to the rest of the world.  It seems that a lot of the commenters, along with Mehta, agree with the message, but disagree with the delivery.

I think the issue boils down to “agression in debate”, as first mentioned by poster Aj in the Friendly Atheist comments.  The commenter immediately above Aj was The Godless Monster, who wrote “It’s not about who is an ass or who isn’t. It’s about who got their message across and effected the change they wanted and who was left standing with their thumb in their mouth and their pants around their ankles.”

The ends justifying the means?  Ick.  We’re all kinda stuck together on this planet, and wouldn’t it be nice if we could play nice?  If someone convinces me to accept a position because the evidence is there, I’m much more likely to want to interact with them afterwards if they don’t act like a jerk, ala “How could you not understand this!?  Even a moron would understand!”  If you’re condescending and mean, I don’t want anything to do with you, even though you helped me learn something new.

But, that’s me.  I like to be happy and not have long-standing feuds.  I hate drama.  And hate.  I hate hate.

But in theory I stand by the smutters.  I say “in theory” because I support the right to be offensive as you want to be, as long as you’re not breaking a law or harming someone, but if the students were being obnoxious – say, sloganizing, chanting PORN FOR PORN! (they were in fact, doing some of this), rioting, shoving posters and handouts at bystanders, or similar – I’m not down with that.  I don’t debate your right to do this, but I don’t want to be associated with you.  If they were polite, collected, well-informed and able to calmly make their arguments then YEAH for them!  Then we have an exchange of ideas, rather than a brute force trampling over peoples’ beliefs without taking their points of view into account.  If you visit youtube and search “Bibles for Porn”, there are a few videos of moments at the event, including some debates between the Atheist Agenda members and campus students.

Sure, Purdue’s fiction for fiction event (trading holy books for novels) was a lot less aggressive – but only relative to offering porn in exchange for the bible.  I’m sure people were plenty offended by fiction-for-fiction back when that occured.  But now…gasp!…porn!  Personally, I believe there’s nothing wrong with porn that’s legal, consensual and safe, and I’m much more offended by what people do with the bible than what they do with porn.

As for those atheists who condemn the group’s smut for smut event…  A couple of years ago I read an article in Lavendar, a local GLBT magazine, about the Twin Cities Pride Parade.  The author complained about the flamboyant gays running around at the gay pride parade in Minneapolis – those drunken hooligans in leather, in dresses, makeup and wigs, in itty-bitty shiny jock straps!  Didn’t they know they were ruining the nice, clean-cut image of the upstanding citizen homosexuals who just want to get married and be allowed to adopt kids?  I remember being really annoyed by that attitude – that turning against your fellow gay, sacrificing him so that you can gain a better image.

I don’t see a big difference between the atheists calling out the smut-for-smut atheists and the conservative gay man who wrote this article. Is the UTSA Atheist Agenda group doing more harm than good for atheists and non-theists?  Maybe, but then we remember that not all atheists are the same, just like not all gay men are the same, not all Christians are the same, not all democrats, republicans, young people, old people, dogs, humans are the same.  This one group isn’t causing the downfall of all atheists, just like Mel Gibson isn’t causing the downfall of all Christians.  They’re both loud and obnoxious, but they’re allowed.

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One Response to “Smutty McSmut Smut”

  1. Paula Says:

    Interesting response. I’m all for people demanding the right to think the way they want to think. I’m certainly down with gay folk behaving anyway they want in an appropriate venue. However, I’m against proselytizing for or against religion.

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