Moral Panics Can Be Dangerous for Those Outside the Religious Majority

fear fright horror panic
Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

If I had to pick one topic related to atheism that most fascinates and terrifies me, it would be that of moral panic. I am intrigued by mass hysteria and how it works. I like to examine the processes by which people do unspeakable things to one another. We humans have so many creative ways of rationalizing our cruelty!

As someone living in the United States, I have observed many moral panics. As an atheist, it is hard not to notice that most involve fundamentalist Christians. They are already too quick to impose their beliefs on others. This tendency gets amplified when they are afraid. I find that a terrifying prospect. Even when atheists aren't the target of a particular panic, we aren't far from it.


Could Atheist Think Tanks Lead to More Effective Secular Activism?

think tank graphic on brick wall
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives was an interesting read. It is a brief manual to teach progressive politicians why Republicans have been so successful. It also aims to provide them with practical advice for turning the political tide in their favor. Some of Lakoff's suggestions could also benefit those interested in secular activism.

Early in the book, Lakoff raises an interesting question. Republicans have developed countless think tanks to assist their politicians. Why do progressives have so few in comparison? Lakoff's answer refers to differences in funding mechanisms and values. He also suggests that progressives need to rethink values that stress immediate gains. We'd do well to consider how developing a think tank infrastructure could provide long-term benefits.


What Sacrifices Are We Making for Those Rugged Vehicles?

Subaru Outback
Image by Mike from Pixabay

I suppose "ruggedizing" isn't a word, but it should be. It would refer to making a motor vehicle more rugged, or at least making it look more rugged. Lift it, add an all-wheel drive system, and slap black plastic cladding all over it so Americans will buy it. Few people need vehicles like this, but that doesn't matter. Automakers have learned that "ruggedizing" their vehicles is an effective way to get Americans to buy them. I suspect it doesn't matter if the vehicle is any more capable as long as it looks like it might be.

I'm not writing this to condemn anyone. I can't claim to be immune to this tactic either. I'd like to think that's because I prefer utility over luxury. That may have something to do with it, but it doesn't explain the appeal of these vehicles. I suspect I've fallen victim to the "ruggedizing" trend too. Like many Americans, I'd like to be part of the "active lifestyle" crowd even though I'm not.


Within One Country, Your Rights Shouldn't Be Determined by Where You Live

colorful map of the United States
Image by fajarbudi86 from Pixabay

What has always bothered me about the claim that the United States is one country vs. several? It doesn't seem to be accurate. Where someone lives within the country shouldn't determine all the things it does. It shouldn't determine whether one's vote counts. It shouldn't reveal the quality of the education one may receive in public schools. It shouldn't tell us anything about one's access to healthcare. Most of all, it shouldn't determine one's rights under the law.

I'm sure you've heard about Walgreens employees allegedly refusing service based on their religious beliefs. We all know this sort of thing will be more common in some states than others. That means the ease of obtaining birth control will vary based on where one lives. This is one more right people took for granted that is now on shaky ground.