Just the other day, there was an event over on the r/atheism section of the site Reddit that has just been brought to my attention. It seems that a 15 year old girl posted an image of herself holding the book The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan that her highly religious mother gave her for the holidays. She had posted it in hopes of an open discussion on the matter of her atheism in a religious family as well as her excitement over receiving such a wonderful and thoughtful gift from a parent that has often disapproved of her daughter's lack of belief.
Instead, she was met with levels of misogyny and sexualized comments that are beyond reprehensible. Many of these comments were up-rated in excessively large numbers, showing that it was more than just a few idiots vomiting up their own brand of moronic bile. At the girl's original post, comments of such a horrid nature can be found that I am loath to even repost them. But I know that I must for the sake of pointing out the scale of the event as I know there will be people who would rather downplay such occurrences as trivial.
Comments such as “Well 15 is legal in many places, including my country, so I’ll only
have to deal with abduction charges.” “Relax your anus, it hurts less
that way.” “Blood is mother nature’s lubricant.” “Tears, natures
lubricant.” “BITE THE PILLOW, IM GOIN’ IN DRY!” were posted. Not only this, but as I said, they received far more up votes then down votes instead of being pointed out as vile comments they obviously are. How many you may ask? The second one on that list received, as of the writing of Rebecca Watson's original article on the event, 1715 up votes and only 648 down votes. This makes it plainly obvious that they are being viewed by far to many as normal or even funny, instead of as the acts of horrible and hurtful people.
While not everyone who posted responded with such vile comments, the very fact that any occurred should be a source of shame for any decent person. This is doubly so when it comes from a community that claims to pride itself in rationality and equality. This is not to say that such traits are not held in high esteem by the skeptical community, but that there is much work that still remains to be done, otherwise this would never have transpired
Such behavior should be vociferously deplored the moment it creeps up. There should be such a stigma against any such disgusting and clearly idiotic behavior that anyone who holds or exposes such beliefs should be afraid to mention them, or is forced to reevaluate them. No one should ever have to fear speaking up on the internet because of how they will be treated by clearly damaged people.
Some will claim that to treat such commenters as the backwards and harmful individuals that they are is a violation of their right to free speech. The fact that such things can be thought without having a melt-down of their irony meters shows a severely deranged and self-entitled mode of thinking. It is to say that such commenters right to free speech is more important than the free speech of those they are attacking.
And yes, this is an attack and it should not be assumed to be anything less. It is not playful trolling or harmless joking. It is stating that someone else is so much less then you as to be unworthy of even the most basic of levels of human dignity and respect.
Not only have they harmed this girl who was only trying to show her own love of rational thinking and a great book, but they have also made what should be a rational and accepting community into the kind of place that has no place for those silly women-folk with their absurd illusion of having worth as something other than an object for a man to use.
Thankfully, many atheist writers have taken a stand against this behavior. I was introduced to this account by the ever wonderful Greta Christina who goes on to link others who have also written in protest of this occurrence. Many others have read about these accounts and have taken it upon themselves to speak out against this behavior as well as give their support to this girl on her original post. I hope that many of those reading will follow the link and offer your own support.
Some may hope that if we ignore such fools they will simply shut up and go away. I cannot fathom why anyone would think this, especially amongst a community that often does what it can to speak out against the crimes of others in religious and political arenas.
It displays and underlying misogyny that cannot be ignored. For to do so will only serve to alienate half the human population. Non-believers (and believers alike) of all forms must stand in unison to put this to a stop. We should be above this and those that truly are must speak up. Otherwise the voice of the misogynistic morons will be the only voice budding young female skeptics will hear and be turned away from what, I for one, see as one of the most fulfilling realizations possible. That the universe can be understood on its own merits and is all the more beautiful for it. If we do not stand up, then we are only quietly condoning such behavior. We should be showing such individuals our passion for a rational understanding for the world and nurture their own love for it as well, not letting them suffer at the hands of others. To do anything less is to deny such individuals humanity and lose a part of ours in the process.