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I'm not basing my complaint on "atheist traditions." I'm basing my complaint on a sincerely felt outrage that people abuse the power of the state to silence their opponents. This requirement that the outrage must be in response to a violation of a taboo which is deeply embedded in a long historical tradition of thought is a movement of the goal posts.

And irrelevant to the putative public purpose, which is to protect feelings from getting hurt and preventing social division along such fault lines. There are no grounds to suppose that violation of a sincerely held taboo produces greater outrage simply because it was adopted a thousand years ago rather than last Thursday. The outrage may be more restrained if there isn't a thousand year history of irrational social deference to the taboo. But that is a property of society's norms for accepting eccentricity rather than a property of the feeling of outrage.

But as it happens, the idea that it is immoral to write parochial religious taboos into law (let alone issue a blank check for religious groups to retroactively write parochial taboos into law) is deeply embedded in a long historical tradition. Of course, it's not an atheist idea. Atheist ideas in their modern form have no long historical tradition, because it's less than three generations since atheists were routinely lynched. And some parts of the world still haven't gotten that memo. If you want to dig into the intellectual history of such ideas, you need to look at enlightened secularism, which is originally a concept championed by religious minorities (in a time when there were next to no publicly avowed atheists, because publicly avowed atheists were, you know, routinely murdered).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:45:30 AM EST
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