I Find You Guilty:
No Justification,
No Explanation
Brian Aiken

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Brian Aiken"
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: April 21, 2002 11:56 AM

Why, shame on you, Brian!

(Oh, perhaps one of those malignant gnomes did it, I suppose! We can conveniently blame those guys for just about anything, can't we?)

Since you have "browsed" the web site, then you obviously saw our definition of the word positive, as we use it in the title of our publication. For the sake of the readers (as Mr. Aiken already knows all about this) our explanation of how we use the word positive can be found in the FAQ section, in the discussions on "Positive Atheism." The FAQ section is the first place that almost any honest seeker goes to find out what's up with a web site.

And since you so vehemently denounce that form of dishonesty known as hypocrisy, we can presume you to be an honest seeker, can we not?

Why, when you made a derogatory slur against us involving the word positive, did you use the more popular definition of the word in your slur rather than the understanding of it that we advocate? Why does your humorous little slam use a meaning which has absolutely no basis in truth? which, at least, does not directly attack us? Where were you trying to go with that? From all appearances, it sure looks as if you are simply trying to discredit us without having any real complaint against us!

And why do people just up and discredit other people without bothering to show what it is that the targets did wrong? Usually when this happens, it's because the accuser was unable to find anything of substance to which he can point! Is that what you had in mind? to discredit us for no reason simply because you could not find anything to pin on us?

When you publicly and gratuitously slander someone without just cause, does that indicate your prejudice? Is that what prejudiced means? writing somebody off (and urging others to do the same) without having found a valid reason to draw negative attention to that somebody?

Oh, for shame! For shame, Brian Aiken!

This is worse than if I had made a generalization about private religious schools limiting one's perspective when dealing with somebody in the parochial school business or making a joke about hotter-than-average climates affecting one's disposition when dealing with someone who lives in the desert. Such behavior would get me nowhere, were I doing this for selfish reasons (which I'm not), because it's so tempting to take patently inappropriate behavior and use it to justify that form of dishonesty known as the an ad hominem attack, which would completely vaporize any point I had been trying to make! Acting this way would cause some people to think that all who belong to my group or adhere to my philosophy act the same way, or worse, that my philosophy teaches or in other ways motivates people to act this way! Most importantly, though, this is the only life that any of us ever get to live. Ever! Knowing this, why would anybody want to make life one whit harder for any of her or his fellow humans? even if we all could agree that they probably deserved the unfair treatment that we just dished out to them!?

Oh, shame on you, Mr. Aiken!

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Mr. Aiken, it's a very simple matter for somebody to jump up and down and utter vague accusations: "Why, you dirty rat!" If you were telling the truth, Brian, you would have at least given us some details and shown us what you are yelling about. Instead, all you say, essentially, is, "Why, you prejudiced hypocrite!"

Since you do not explain to us what you mean by giving us examples of what you're talking about, that is, you never actually accuse us of having done something wicked or evil or otherwise worthy of the contempt you spew forth, we have no choice but to lump you into the same category as the dozens of others who have written to us with virtually identical complaints. This is not prejudice, specifically, because our category consists of those who lash out against us without having said anything more specific than the kid who sticks his tongue out at the teacher behind her back or the teenager who twirls her middle finger at a police officer while the cop is not looking.

Let's get specific!

Please answer the following questions for us so that we may know precisely what it is that has you so up in arms that you'd write to people you don't even know and treat them this way on your first encounter with them.

(I'd think that only the most despicable behavior would warrant such a drastic response, so we're very curious as to what we did to earn the sternest form of denunciations around, the one that doesn't bother to acknowledge any good that we may have accomplished!)
 

1. Which prejudices do I claim not to like?

Please excerpt quotes of my writings, which currently comprise the editorial statements and opinions of this project (limited to: the "Cliff" section; the responses to the "Letters" section; the "FAQ" section excluding the writing by Victor). I am willing to defend these, but I cannot speak for anything unless I wrote it, and will not answer for the numerous works, written by historical figures, that we've posted solely so that our readers may explore their cultural roots as atheists. Be sure to include enough of the quote for a reader to surmise the context without looking it up, but also give URLs so that readers may verify if what they read, if they wish.
 

2. Which, among the above-listed prejudices, do I express (thereby showing me to be guilty of the hypocrisy you accuse me of practicing)?

If your second letter at least tries to answer these two questions (both of them), then I will stop assuming gratuitous ill will on your part. If your second letter does not do this, I will treat both letters according to the section of our Guidelines for Submission which discusses abusive e-mail.

From somebody who works for a religious organization, we expect a much higher degree of morality than we have experienced from your letter. Similarly, from somebody who works for an outfit which educates young children, we likewise expect a man to be on his best behavior, but we feel your first letter to us falls woefully short of the level of behavior we'd expect of somebody who works in the service of and as an example to our future citizens and leaders. Finally, from a man who lives in that part of the country which is most heavily populated by our distinguished senior citizens, we would expect a standard of morality which honors the long and productive lives most of them have led or, if nothing else, honors the sheer fact that they have beat the odds by surviving the many adversities we all endure.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
    people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Brian Aiken" <baiken@arizonawaldorf.com>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: April 22, 2002 2:03 PM

No justification or explanation?

Time for the 505 treatment, I see!
 

A canned reply! Wow! how typical!

How strangely alike each other are those who gratuitously express hatred toward individuals they don't even know, individuals who have done them no harm! Call this prejudice if you like, but what you wrote is practically the only reply we ever get when we ask for clarification upon receiving letters such as your first to our office.

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1. Writer says very little, and does so in a patently abusive tone, refusing to justify his accusation of hypocrisy (that being the only unambiguous point in the entire tome).

2. Recipient of railing then requests further elucidation, taking the opportunity to poke fun at writer's own hypocrisy, making sure, though, to thoroughly document said hypocrisy (the recipient himself not being much into hypocrisy, and wishing at least to furnish that which he demands from others).

3. Refusing to honor the recipient's request for justification of the accusations, writer changes subject and claims to have won a marksmanship contest of some sort.

4. This reinforces recipient's initial suspicion that he was the target of the writer's sheer contempt, rather than the object of the writer's reasoned or concerned criticism.

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Of those religious cult enthusiasts who have written to our web site seeking to engage in a bit of Sunday afternoon vituperation, most have ended up demonstrating to our readers that they cannot handle what they dish out. (Is there something about cultic religion which appears to turn its victims into intellectual weenies?) We get hardly any follow-ups from our attempts to ask, "What are you talking about? Please give examples of what you claim we are doing!"

The replies we get from those who initially sought merely to vent their spitefulness are always the same. Always! The wording of the reply you just sent is by far the most common wording we've received from similarly odious individuals: "Oh, we must have hit close to the mark (or right on the mark) to get such a reaction like that (whatever the reaction might be)! Hee, hee, hee!"

It's almost as if you had browsed through a couple dozen letters in our collection, which is all it takes to find more of this kind of material, we get it so often from cultists, and lazily copied and pasted that other defamer's response into your e-mail program. Why is it that victims of cultic religious groups display such closely identical thinking one to another -- regardless of which group is in question at the moment?

And no matter how we try to introduce variety in our handling of this behavior, the replies are always the same forms of one-upmanship, often containing the same wording no matter how we had responded to the initial hate mail! Would we have gotten the same deal from you no matter how we'd responded? Could that be the prejudice you were telling us about?

What never ceases both to amaze and to perplex me is how consistently those who write here claiming to have read our web site but then dish out some patently off-the-wall criticism always -- without exception -- end up displaying the very faults they accuse me of having! Whatever they accuse me of being, if it's off the wall, it will end up being a trait they display in their correspondence with me! And since I sit here and field criticism of my work literally all day long (processing a minimum of 300 e-mails even on a slow day), I have a pretty good idea of my weaknesses and faults. Hypocrisy happens not to be one of them, the absence of which being one of my few strengths!

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.