August 25, 2012

Threatening Others Cannot Be Tolerated in the Atheist Community

threatHemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) brings us the disturbing story of the two American Atheists billboards that went up in Charlotte, NC, ahead of the Democratic National Convention. They are down now after the company owning the billboards received threats. It would have been one thing for American Atheists to stand up to those making threats, but it makes sense that the billboard company would not be ready to do so. After all, it isn't their fight.

This incident reminded me of something I've been meaning to address here. Threatening to harm someone is not acceptable. It is not just another tactic; it is criminal. It is not acceptable when Christians use threats to intimidate those who would work with atheists. It is not acceptable when Christians use threats to bully atheists and other groups directly. And it is certainly not acceptable when atheists threaten each other over feminism or other differences of opinion.

I agree completely with those behind Atheism+ on this point: threatening others has no place in this community. It crosses the line from free expression to criminal behavior, and it cannot be tolerated. I'll continue to defend your right to disagree with others in the atheist community, and I do not approve of the attempts to marginalize you for doing so. But threatening others has no place in this discourse.