Despite my initial reaction, I soon decided that the pros of something like the OUT Campaign far outweighed the cons. The last thing I wanted to be was one of those atheists who are always putting down the efforts of others to improve our plight without bringing better ideas to the table. Something like the OUT Campaign was clearly needed, and I recognized that now was the time for such an effort. After Dawkins clarified the intended purpose of the campaign, I decided that it was something I could support. That said, I still rejected the scarlet A symbol at this point.
Roughly a month after decided I could support the OUT Campaign, I was still complaining about the unfortunate choice of the scarlet A as the chosen symbol. I still feel this way but to a much lesser degree. While it would not be my choice of a symbol, it has caught on to some degree. When I and many other atheists see it, we know what it signifies. Really, that is all it was ever supposed to do. I can live with it.
Fast forward to the present day. I've learned to accept the scarlet A, and I continue to support the OUT Campaign (although I do so with the caveat that nobody should be blindly encouraged to "come out" without first assessing the potential risks to their personal safety for doing so). That said, I continue to have one substantive complaint with the OUT Campaign: it continues to me much too closely linked to Richard Dawkins, and I think that this is a recipe for disaster. Let me explain why.
- Should anything unfortunate happen to Dawkins, or should his reputation be irreparably tarnished in some extreme way, it seems likely that the Campaign would fall with him.
- While I personally enjoy Dawkins' books, I am not particularly enthusiastic about being part of a movement in which he is widely perceived as a leader. I have also met some atheists who do not care for him at all.
- There is no question that Dawkins is a brilliant guy, but I do not see him as a champion of atheist civil rights. At least for those of us in the U.S., this is what we most need at the forefront of an atheist movement.
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