Thursday, August 7, 2014

S.E. Cupp: Some Atheists Are Better Than Others

Hi everyone, I'm just here for a quickie. This shouldn't take very long, nor do I want it to.

S.E. Cupp
A little over a week ago, CNN uploaded a video on YouTube featuring American conservative political commentator/writer Sarah Elizabeth (S.E.) Cupp, entitled "Our atheists are better than yours." The video, despite spanning only one and a half minutes in length, has such a high frequency of bullshit, that something really needs to be said on it. Plenty of people from the atheist community have called out S.E. Cupp on the things she said in the video, but I think there's room for at least one more.

The reason I'm addressing this, before I continue, is because the extent of the move S.E. Cupp takes in the making of this video is so toxic and so dishonest that it could actually do harm to the atheist movement if people took it seriously. Luckily, however, it seems very few are. By now, people should be familiar enough with the atheist movement that they can recognize when something just doesn't make sense when said under the banner of atheism; but I fear that, especially in America, there is still a danger that the invocation of Poe's law can find its way under the public's nose, and people will point to people like S.E. Cupp and make them the linchpin of their argument. To start off with a joke: for that reason, I'll say it, some atheists are better than others. Albeit, I don't think S.E. Cupp is even an atheist, but I'll get to that at the end.

If you want to see the video in its full length, click here. If not, that's fine; I really wouldn't recommend it, and I'll be quoting the video in its entirety here. Other than that, let's get right into it.

The video starts off with S.E. Cupp stating the following:

"I don't know, I don't believe in God, but I'm not mad at him."

That's great, Mrs. Cupp. Fortunately for you, this is the most consistent statement with atheism that you're going to make in this video. No atheist is "mad at God," because they don't believe in him. I, personally, think the characterization of God in the Bible makes him look like a jerk, but that doesn't extend to my hating God. I don't believe he exists. That's just how it is.

"I became an atheist because I'm not a joiner. I didn't want to be part of a club or a group."

Then I expect you to resign from your alignment with the Republican Party.

Other than that, I was under the impression that the reason people became atheists was because... they didn't... believe in God? It has nothing to do with group membership. If you didn't want to become a part of a group, why did you declare yourself an atheist? It's actually quite impossible to avoid being part of a group, because that's the way life is. Groupings happen. Bottom line is, however, that not wanting to be "part of a club or a group" is not the reason to become an atheist. Rationality and evidence is.

"It seems like there's this idea perpetuated by atheists are somehow disenfranchised or left out of the political process; and I just, I don't find that to be the case."

Seven states have constitutions requiring religious tests to serve public office. Previous President George H.W. Bush was quoted saying, "No, I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God." Religiosity can be used as a decision for whether or not to grant custody to parents, effectively discriminating against atheists. Not a single atheist currently serves in the American Congress. Atheists aren't even allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America for crying out loud. Just because you don't think they're disenfranchised doesn't mean it's so, jackass.

"I think in fact atheists have grown more vocal over the past decade or two than ever before. In fact, in many ways, atheists act like a religious body unto themselves."

Try that argument during the Civil Rights Movement. Atheists need to be vocal so they won't be disenfranchised. This is something that political analysts say quite frequently: individuals with similar views need to consolidate their interests and get louder megaphones. Atheists becoming more vocal doesn't mean they're any less discriminated against -- in fact, it only substantiates the opposite claim. As for atheists acting "like a religious body," the nature of that claim is subjective. I can't approach it because what seems like religious congregation to one person may just seem like regular political participation to another.

"There's another myth that conservatism is somehow hostile to atheism. I also don't find that to be the case."

Well we know, given your track record, how valuable your anecdotes are, so let's see how you do this time! The American Trends Panel conducted a poll of public opinions and found that while, on a scale of 1-100 on a "feelings thermometer," Republicans averaged rating atheists at 34, Democrats averaged rating atheists at 46. Both seem pretty negative, but we can see that it seems to be the case that Republicans are more hostile towards atheists. So once again, just because you don't find it to be the case, doesn't mean that it is the case.

"I'm a conservative atheist-"

No, you're not, but as said, we'll get to that later.

"-I've felt very welcomed by this party. In fact, I'd go so far as to say conservatism is far more intellectually honest and respectful of atheism than liberalism has been. For conservatives, atheism is something that is tolerated, respected, we appreciate an intellectual diversity. Most conservatives atheists I know, including myself, have a really healthy respect for the role of religion in society and in this country in particular. And in contrast on the left, it seems as though there's this knee-jerk embrace of what is more like a militant hostility -- a reaction against intellectual diversity."

Well we know that conservatives are much less accepting of atheists than liberals are, now, at least in America, but what I find interesting is that the argument being made here starts off as "conservatives are more open to atheists," and then turns into "conservative atheists are more open to religion than liberals are."

"It's exclusionary. Bill Maher thinks 95% of the world has a neurological disorder. I don't think you'd find that on the right, and for that reason, I'll say it: I think our atheists are better than yours."

The best way to convince someone that you're not exclusionary? Say that you're better than them!

The best way to convince someone you don't want to be part of a club or a group? Say that "your X" is better than "their X."

I don't know what the source is for the claim on Bill Maher, and I don't care. He's a comedian, and he's not the representative of atheism. I'm more interested in getting rid of the ridiculous idea that S.E. Cupp is a "conservative atheist." Conservative? Yes. Atheist? No. I don't know what atheist would ever say something like:

"I really aspire to be a person of faith one day."

That's really all it takes. I'm sorry, S.E. Cupp, but you're not an atheist. You're an agnostic theist wearing the badge of atheism to garner attention so that people listen to your otherwise ridiculous arguments and contradictory statements. Please stop self-identifying as atheist, if you're as intellectually honest and respectful as you say. It's offensive, shameless, and pathetic from the perspective of someone who actually is an atheist and has put a lot of time and effort into learning atheistic philosophy. You can keep your Judeo-Christian moral values -- just stop saying you're doing so under the banner of atheism.

Thank you all for reading.

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  1. I'd have to say it's nice to see she was able to make one coherent statement regarding atheism, even if it is before she starts opening her mouth more, lol. It’s rather weird the way she mentions why she became an atheist, as if it’s going to be the same reason for the rest of us. At the same time, it has no relevance to topic at hand in my opinion. While we’re talking about it though, it’s a good idea to note that there are several large groups of atheists such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation or The British Humanist Association. She may not wish to belong to a group, but many of us recognize the strength to be found in numbers in our efforts to bring reason to society.
    Atheists in politics are definitely discriminated against, so I‘d like to know what flavor of Kool-Aid she’s been drinking. There are all the points that you bring up and more related to this. Most of us have even dealt with discrimination firsthand from family and those we used to call friends. This article here illustrates many additional points, such as how in 13 countries we can be executed for expressing our views or don’t adopt the state’s religion. The case regarding getting a job is true here where I live in the states as the population here is strongly Mormon. You either claim to belong to another Christian branch or your resume is going into the trash bin, plain and simple.
    Further in regards to discrimination is that simple experiments have shown us how strong the anti-atheist sentiment is. The American Humanist Association has an article here where they did an experiment using atheist branded tape and regular tape. The branded tape packages either arrived late or went missing ten times more often. A restaurant even backed out of a fundraiser on the grounds that Camp Quest Oklahoma didn’t fit with their Christian beliefs. It amazes me how quickly people will turn on someone just by stating they aren’t religious.
    Her point about atheism being like a religious body is a fail of logic on her part. Are vocal atheists just like any other group that gathers to vocalize their interests? Yes, of course they are. What she fails to realize is that atheism is not a religion, it is a state of refuting religion after carefully considering the information presented. Most of us don’t necessarily claim “There is no God”, but rather we state that based on the information we have there isn’t enough to convince us. A rational calculation of information doesn’t constitute a religion because the entire basis of religion is blind faith.
    The attempt to equate anecdotal evidence as fact in the face of polls that clearly show the conservatives in this country have disdain for atheists is laughable. I do think to an extent most of us atheists realize the balancing factor religion is capable of providing, but fails to do adequately due to human nature. Statistically speaking, more crimes are committed by those who claim a religion than those who are without a faith to claim. This post here is a good illustration of where claims against atheists have been shown wrong through various studies.
    I definitely agree that given the line of statements and reasoning given, I can’t consider her an atheist. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Or in this case a theist. Her assertions are an affront to atheism and those of us who validly consider ourselves so. Rather than giving a calculated argument based in fact and reason, she gives an entire spiel that is mired in anecdotal evidence and personal emotion. On these grounds alone she already proved that she is not an atheist and this is just further compounded by the manner in which her statements can be dissected.

    1. She may or may not want to join an atheist club/group, but she definitely created one: "their atheists." If she became an atheist just because she didn't want to be part of a group -- if that's her motivation -- then she's really bad at being an atheist.

      I think, at the very least, Mrs. Cupp was clever in her wording. She restricted her claims to "atheists, as I see it, aren't disenfranchised or left out of the political process (in America)." It's a lot more specific, and so you can't bring up all the discrimination against atheism that goes on outside of America, or in the workplace, etc. She's still wrong though.

      That study sounds interesting. I'll definitely check it out.

      By S.E. Cupp's logic, anchor babies are a religion. Because... you know... they come together to congregate and vocalize their interests, so they act like they're religious! She's pulling the same American right-wing tactics that any other would pull. Her arguments are just as stupid as she is.

      There was a study I read once. The surveyor detailed a story about a man who killed his wife and kids, then killed himself, or something to that extent. He then asked the people he interviewed varying types of questions, and one of the combinations was: "is it more likely that this man was a math teacher, or a math teacher who didn't believe in God?" Basic statistics tells you that it is more likely he was just a math teacher, because "X" is always more frequent than "X + Y;" however, it was found that people were more likely to choose the second option than other alternatives, even among atheists. I felt like mentioning this because it shows how much disdain people in general have towards atheists; yet S.E. Cupp expects us to believe conservatives are more accepting?

      My guess is that she pulled this move to gain more attention. Declaring yourself as a conservative atheist is great for the papers and for the TV, especially when there's nothing particularly interesting about you otherwise. Now, conservatives have a person to point at and say "see, she's an atheist, and she understands our point of view!" She's only there to serve as an exception -- an Uncle Tom among atheists, if you will.

  2. **Refer to the references in order, as Blogger apparently hates comment hyperlinks and I'll be damned if I'm going to proof this thing a second time. Also, this post was too long with references linked to make into a single comment.


    1. Blogger has been giving me, as well as many others, issues with various things. I'm sorry that it inconvenienced you, but thank you for taking the time to post these references, and also, thank you for replying. :)

    2. Not that big of an inconvenience, I didn't rage quit after all. lol I figured if I didn't post references nobody would have a clue what I was talking about.

      On an unrelated note and yet related to his post, since Nick already did a Gamestop rant, maybe he'd like to comment on that question I'd shot over to you about Gamestop.

    3. I'm not sure how I like store-exclusive products and content. I thought the point of "certain" business laws in the United States was to prevent companies from monopolizing product and purchase. I have Hyrule Warriors pre-ordered through the Gamestop near my campus, and little did I know that the Ocarina of Time expansion pack was a gift you received only if you pre-ordered it through Gamestop. I don't like that, but... now I'm not exactly complaining, since Ocarina of Time is probably my favorite game of all time.

      But speaking of free codes withe Gamestop purchases, back in '11 Gamestop ordered its employees to rip copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution off the shelves for the PC. If you bought a new copy of the game for the PC, you also received OnLive code for free. Gamestop, not wanting to sell more product for the same amount of money, told its employees to remove that code and then put the games back on the shelves as brand new.

      Unfortunately, apparently that's not false advertising, and Gamestop tried to defend its actions by stating that Square Enix never informed them of the promotional item in the case. Right, that makes it okay then. (Fucking ass-baskets)

      You can read the story here:

      So whether or not I agree with store-exclusive content doesn't really matter concerning Gamestop. I'm not going to support them in any dick moves they pull, legal or not.


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