, , , ,

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a member of an organization or movement. You enjoy being a part of this organization/movement, and you value the contributions it makes to society as a whole.  However, there’s a problem.  You and several other people have recently been made aware that there’s a large number of serial killers in your organization/movement.  It’s no secret who these people are, in fact, some of them are leaders in your organization/movement.  They’ve been tolerated in the past because many of them have made important contributions, and they haven’t been killing very many people.  Recently however, some of them have started killing or trying to kill many people in your organization/movement, and many people are getting fed up.

You, along with several other people, decide to do something about it.  You decide to create a space where serial killers will not be welcome.  You decide to create a place where nobody will have to worry about possibly being stabbed.  This place will also have the goal of trying to banish all serial killers from the organization/movement, because really, it’s probably better off without them.

You assume that this is an admirable goal, and that all the people who aren’t serial killers will be totally on board with your plan.  However, for some reason that you don’t understand, a bunch of people are vehemently opposed to the idea.  They claim that you’re being divisive, that you’re fracturing the organization/movement, that you’re being purposefully exclusionary.

Of course, you think that all of this is ridiculous.  Why is anybody defending serial killers?  Of course the serial killers would be upset, but why is anybody else?  This isn’t about kicking out serial killers per se.  It’s about kicking out serial killers because they’re killing people.  Ultimately, a choice has to be made between the serial killers and their potential victims.  You, and people who agree with you, chose the victims.

Abandoning the metaphor, Atheism+ isn’t about fracturing the movement or creating “deep rifts.”  At least, not intrinsically.  It’s about creating a safe space for people who don’t want to deal with racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. It’s for creating a place where people don’t have to worry about getting harassed.  This has the side effect of making racists, sexists, homophobes, etc. feel unwelcome.  And honestly, I for one don’t care.  Either they feel unwelcome, or their victims feel unwelcome.  And I’m going to side with the rights of people to not be harassed over the rights of harassers any day.

So is A+ divisive?  Yes.  Yes it is.  By its very nature, it excludes a subset of the community from participating.  However, that exclusion isn’t the fault of A+.  It’s the fault of a group of people who, by their words and actions, make others in the community feel unwelcome.  I said in my example above, “This place will also have the goal of trying to banish all serial killers from the organization/movement.”  If, however, in this particular example, some serial killers decided to stop killing people, then they would be more than welcome back into the movement.  Similarly, racists, sexists, etc. are only unwelcome in A+ as long as they continue being racists, sexists, etc.

A+ excludes people.  But that’s the fault of the people being excluded. Those are the people who insist on treating others badly because they’re different.  Those are the people who continually harass and insult others because of a difference in viewpoints.  Those are the people whose actions and ideals run counter to everything that A+ stands for.  Until they change, they will never be welcome in the A+ community.  If that’s divisive, well then, divide away.