Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bullies, the Faithful, and the Godless

Bullies.

They are out there.

Everyone has been a victim at one time or another of a bully, and being in the monkey business (what I call the human service field) has given me a close up view of bullies and their victims. I used to work at a therapeutic residence for boys who had a wide variety of behavior problems. Behaviors like petty theft, getting into fights, refusing to go to school, etc. that caused the court system to get involved and place them into a structured environment where these boys would get counseling.

What I haven't mentioned is that my work was one of the few residences that had sex offenders living there. Boys who had been found by the courts to have sexually assaulted neighbors, sisters, and/or brothers. Sadly, most of the people who had sexually assaulted others had been sexually assaulted themselves. There was one kid who had been repeatedly abused by his family. You just had to read his file and it was all laid out in front of you. Yet, he never admitted that he had been harmed in any way. He eventually left the program. 

A few years later he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a child.

My point?

Abuse is cyclical - yesterday's victim becomes today's abuser.

Atheists are not automatically immune from that cycle. How many of us have suffered at the hands of the religious? Many. Unless you grew up in a bomb shelter (or in Denmark) you have gotten grief from one of the faithful. The stories fill the blogosphere. Whether you got beaten by Catholic schoolmates, harassed by fundamentalist Jews, or simply given a not so subtle insult from the "Godly" all of those actions are designed to do one thing.

Make you feel small.

Make you feel powerless.

Make you feel worthless.

Thankfully, as an adult you can often times craft your own life and live without too much interference from the religious. But to be human is to be irrational, and that means there are atheists who are...

bullies.

Let's face it, most atheists aren't the "kick sand in your face" types. Atheists who are bullies aren't likely to physically slap around a Buddhist, for example. However, atheist bullies are people who want others to feel small and weak. The way that I have seen this (and repeatedly, too) done is through intellectual bullying, which is directed at other atheists (you aren't doing it right, and no I'm not going to tell you what the "right" way is) as well as at the religious. Often times one of the "faithful" will ask an honest question to one of us. What comes out of the atheist bully's mouth is a cavalcade of condescending, personally insulting, technical terms (throw the term Occam's razor around at the DMV and see how many friends you make) which aren't designed to assist the other person. Rather, it is said to make the bully feel powerful because in their heart they feel worthless.

If you have been abused by the faithful there is a good chance that there is a part of you who likes to be a bully.

Own it.

Deal with it.

Don't wait for a miracle...

in Purgatory.

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