I listen to a lot of Podcasts and YouTube while working, getting dressed, making dinner, etc. I am aware that YouTube is videos, but I don't watch the videos, I just listen. There are quite a few atheist activists that I have discovered during my deconversion journey. Some were great in the beginning. I used to love The Atheist Experience, a call-in show where believers can call in and talk to atheists about belief. It's basically a debate show. In the beginning I loved it because people were asking the questions that I had and the atheists made some really good points. I saw how flimsy the arguments were on the part of the believers. However, the show also raises my blood pressure. It makes me uncomfortable to listen to people argue and some of the believers had such stupid/illogical/brainwashed ideas that I would have to fast forward through the show. I also don't always agree with how the atheists on the show treat their callers. I understand that they have listened to the same dumb arguments for years, but they will get angry at a believer for interrupting them and then do the same thing a minute later. I've heard the reasoning behind this and I still disagree. I don't really watch/listen to the show anymore because of it, although occasionally I'll click on a clip that sounds interesting. My personal favorite is The Thinking Atheist as he is usually very measured and informative.
One thing I do not do is listen to any of this around my husband. The first reason is simply that he is super defensive when it comes to anyone trying to disprove religion or if they claim to be an atheist. He flat out dislikes the idea of anyone trying to destroy the faith of someone else. Although he believes himself to be very rational in this area, the evidence I have seen is that the minute atheist is tacked onto something, he becomes extremely critical of everything they say. He speaks about them as hateful or angry people, pushing the stereotype of angry atheist onto all of them, whether they are being hateful or not. On Sunday morning as I was getting dressed I mistakenly assumed my husband had gotten out of bed and was downstairs making breakfast as he always does on Sunday mornings. So I turned on Mr. Atheist's newest video.
I like Mr. Atheist. I don't always agree with him mind you. There probably isn't a person on this planet that I agree with 100% of the time, but I like his platform and his delivery of information. What I didn't know was that thanks to Daylight Savings Time throwing him off, my husband was laying in bed listening to the entire episode. And he had a problem with it. Later he told me, "That guy you were listening to this morning. He was so hateful. I mean, you can just tell he is so full of hate and loathing." I turned back the episode in my head and was confused. Hateful? Loathing perhaps, but hateful? Watch the video above and tell me what you think.
Husband's logic was that because Mr. Atheist was happy that Cardinal Pell is finally getting his commupance, he is a hateful bad person. Good people don't rejoice in people going to jail, especially if they haven't gone to trial yet and haven't been convicted. My husband is the epitomy of Lawful Good, or so he says. I think he is Lawful Neutral. He absolutely downright refuses to be a part of any side until the law has gotten involved, evidence has been presented, and a conviction has been declared. This does mean that he doesn't agree with things like the #MeToo movement. Not because he doesn't think that it can't happen or even that it is okay, but because they are baseless accusations with no evidence, which means that they mean nothing. Accusations aren't fact. Without facts it's just a rumor, although certainly a rumor that could destroy lives. I agree with him in that we live in a society where we try people through the media long before they ever arrive in a courtroom. I also know that we, the laymen, are often not made aware of certain evidences that lawyers, judges, juries, and police are made aware of. Like half of the country, I was completely on board with Michael Brown being innocent and having his hands up and not deserving of death by cop. That was until all the evidence came out showing that an office had been attacked by Brown inside his vehicle and a gunshot had gone off IN the car. Then the fact that he was shot from the front, not behind and that the bullet wounds were consistent with a person charging head first towards someone. That started to paint a very different picture. Not one full of innocence. I was forced to face the idea that I had chosen the wrong "side" in this debate. It was a humbling experience. One could start being a conspiracy theorist at that point and refuse to believe the evidence because it doesn't line up with the narrative you wanted to believe. A lot of people I know did this. The cops lied, they planted evidence, witnesses said (eye witness accounts are not evidence), etc. If the evidence is true though, then we have a police officer whose life and career have been destroyed because people want to believe their own truths when it comes to certain situations. Not to mention the countless businesses that were destroyed by raging mobs and people who were hurt. So I completely understand why my husband is loathe to take a side without evidence. It makes sense.
The question then is, Is it hateful to want people to be convicted of crimes? Is that revenge or is it wanting justice? By wanting Cardinal Pell to be prosecuted and imprisoned, is that a hateful act? Husband says that no one should be happy or rejoice in someone going to prison. That is a tragedy for everyone involved. It's a life wasted, a failure on someone's part to help the accused. There are victims who, even if the person is jailed, still have to suffer through this for the rest of their lives. If you claim to be better than someone, then you can't go around gloating and seeking revenge. You have to be better. You have to want to help both victims and victimizers. They are all people who are deserving of love, pity, and redemption. I would posit that Mr. Atheist never said he was "better" than anyone, although it is implied that he is better than a child molester, which in all first-world countries, is a given. But who is making that rule? That you can't be happy when a known child molester goes to prison and is off the streets? Husband? I would say it is very human to breath a sigh of relief and experience some kind of euphoria when someone who is bad has gotten their just desserts. (To be clear, Cardinal Pell has not been convicted of anything. In the eyes of the law, he is still innocent.) Does it make someone hateful? Perhaps if the person was being cruel for no reason or wanted people to get hurt because they disagreed with an idea or something, but to suggest someone is hateful because they are happy that a rapist is going to jail? Even without a conviction, I would say this is a normal response. It becomes hateful when you refuse to accept evidence of their innocence and continue to declare that the person is guilty just because you say they are. It is hateful when you continue to vilify their name because you decided that there was some evidence that the judge, jury, and lawyers missed and that this person who has been deemed innocent deserves some kind of mob justice. I absolutely believe that Michael Jackson is being tried through the media via a documentary after having been declared innocent of the crime he was accused of. The man is dead and the only people who this is hurting now is his family. That's not justice. That's cruelty. It is also hateful that after someone has been to prison for a crime, they continue to be persecuted for their crime and are unable to work or live normally again because in our society we seem to think people need a lifetime to pay for crimes that the law says only deserve 10 years in prison.
I personally don't think Mr. Atheist is being hateful in wanting a priest to be prosecuted for his alleged crimes. The way the Catholic church has handled it is not the way an organization should act if someone is innocent. Sadly, because so many priests have been caught diddling little kids, he IS being lumped into a much bigger problem, innocent or not. Perhaps the evidence will show that he is innocent. If that happens, there will be people who will refuse to believe it. There will be atheists who, despite being huge proponents of evidence for a god, don't hold the same convictions when it comes to law and justice.
A small personal story: When I was a teenager a friend at church told me that her step-father had been molesting her for eight years. I was the first person she had ever told. I knew immediately that this was beyond me and I found an adult who I knew had suffered through something similar who could help. A few days later he was arrested. I was supremely happy that this man had been arrested and was going to be prosecuted. My friend could have been lying. In the eyes of the law he was still innocent. But I knew that she wasn't lying and the fact that he could no longer hurt her filled me with so much relief and happiness. He ended up being convicted of his crime and served five years in prison for what he did. I was not a hateful person for wanting him to be imprisoned and prosecuted. I saw firsthand the devastation it brought to my friend and her family. It destroyed a marriage. And I was still glad it happened because it was right.
Lesson learned though....be careful what you listen to around your husband who thinks most atheists are angry and hateful. If he hadn't found this thing to knit pick over, it would have been something else. Double-check to be sure he is not sitting in the next room otherwise you will have an uncomfortable conversation about the morality of justice seekers in the parking lot of the grocery store.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.