A brief conversation at the Atheist Ireland information table today

AI Info Table Feb 16I had the following brief conversation with a man who approached the Atheist Ireland information table in Dublin today. It’s not verbatim, but it captures the gist of the conversation.

Him: Do you condemn Islamophobia?

Me: I don’t use the word Islamophobia. I oppose bigotry against Muslims as people. I think criticism of Islam as an ideology is good.

Him: Which Islam? There’s more than one Islam.

Me: The Islam that is used to justify human rights abuses against women Muslims, gay Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shias in Sunni States, Sunnis in Shia States, and members of other religions and atheists.

Him: I’m an openly gay man. I have friends who are Muslims.

Me: I assume you don’t go on holiday to Saudi Arabia with them?

Him: Atheist States are as bad as Islamic States. Do you condemn atheist States?

Me: I am as opposed to the State supporting atheism as I am to the State supporting religion. The State should be neutral on matters of religious and nonreligious beliefs.

Him: So do you condemn France and its ban on women wearing veils?

Me: That’s a complex question. My default position is that people should be able to wear whatever they want. But we know that some women are being forced to wear veils against their consent.

Him: And some women are being prevented from wearing veils when they want to.

Me: I agree. So we need to find a solution that can respect the rights of both the women who want to wear veils and the women who don’t.

Him: So do you condemn the misogyny of Richard Dawkins?

Me: Richard Dawkins isn’t misogynist. What makes you think that he is?

Him: Well, there’s obviously no meeting of minds here.

He then flounced away.

A brief conversation at the Atheist Ireland information table today

27 thoughts on “A brief conversation at the Atheist Ireland information table today

  1. Some details of this conversatin are inaccurate .eg:.I was talking about the historical record of states which have attempted to enforce atheism on their populations

    Also the way the phrase “flounced is being used here is homophobic.

  2. Also you did not state that you supported finding a eay of respecting the rights of those women who wish to wear veils.

    According to your tweets you are much more anxious to protect the rights of Nazis to march openly on our streets

  3. Okay ‘He then flounced away.’ is homophobic. Secondly it appals me that someone like yourself is prominently involved in Atheist Ireland. Richard Dawkins is misogynistic and your failure to recognise and even acknowledge that is confounding. All you need to do is do an internet search to find a mountain of evidence which supports this. I feel you need to further explain this mess of a post before others latch onto this as being the face of the community.

  4. Did you use ‘flounced’ deliberately because he was gay? haha, I’m guessing you didn’t, but I’m sure someone will be along soon to condemn you for being homophobic.

  5. @Paul, good to recommence the conversation. Genuinely. I was engaging with you sincerely yesterday, and I was disappointed when you left. I agree that the conversation above is not verbatim. I said that myself in the intro. Please feel free to clarify any differences of opinion here.

    I agree with you about historical states that have attempted to enforce atheism on their populations. I condemn that, and so does Atheist Ireland. It breaches the fundamental human right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief. Faith and dogma are harmful to our perceptions of reality and morality, whether applied to religious or secular ideas.

    I did say that I support finding a way of respecting the rights of those women who wish to wear veils. I’ve made this point many times, including at debates with Muslims. My ideal solution would be to prosecute people who force women to wear veils against their wishes, but as intimidation is part of the forcing it is hard to see how that could be legally implemented. Have you any suggestions?

    Thinking of the word ‘flounced’ as homophobic is simply something that is happening in your imagination. Flounce means to leave using exaggerated motions that suggest annoyance or impatience. You did appear to do that. I have seen many people flounce over the years, and I have no idea whether they were straight or gay.

    The only reference in our conversation to sexuality was when you chose to describe yourself as an openly gay man. I have a long record of campaigning for gay rights in Ireland and internationally, including in Islamic states where gay people face serious human rights abuses.

    Now, Paul, would you like to justify the claim you made before you left that Richard Dawkins is misogynistic?

  6. @Christine, I’ve addressed your comment about homophobia in my response above to Paul.

    With regard to your comments about Richard, I know that many people mistakenly believe that he is misogynistic, because they mistakenly believe that there is “a mountain of evidence which supports this.”

    I have written extensively about this. Here are some examples:

    Richard Dawkins’ nuanced memoir and the unjust personal smears against him

    The demonising of Richard Dawkins, and the normalising of casual defamatory smears

    PZ Myers’ unfair and hurtful misrepresentations of Richard Dawkins’ comments about being abused as a child

    Hate speech is bad. Offensive satire of bad ideas is good. Richard Dawkins was right.

    If there are any specific examples of behaviour that you believe supports the idea that Richard is misogynistic, I am happy to discuss it and see if you are correct.

  7. @Paul and Christine

    For clarity, we have seen many people flounce from discussions at our Atheist Ireland information table, typically religious people who have run out of theological arguments after we have patiently and politely responded to the arguments they have made.

    We have also met many people, including religious people, who have stayed and continued to have interesting discussions, from which we have both learned more about each other’s worldview. We can and do respect everyone’s right to hold their beliefs, without necessarily respecting the content of their beliefs.

    As I said, I’m happy to continue the discussions here, or at our Dublin information table on the first Saturday of each month, 12-2pm, outside the GPO in O’Connell Street. There are also other information tables in Cork, Galway and Kerry. Check our Facebook page for details.

  8. Flounced isn’t homophobic. It just means to ‘go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner’.

    Paul’s getting pissy about your choice of words for precisely the same reasons he uses ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘mysogynist’: to poison the well.

    It’s particularly disgusting when he’s using it to deflect from his own excuse-making for Islam. Maybe he should try his language-policing in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

  9. Just a bit of context here.

    Michael campaigned to legalise gay marriage in a Catholic country which then became the first country in the world to legalise it by a popular vote.

    That’s a hell of an achievement.

    And he’s being accused of homophobia by those who support regimes which hang homosexuals from cranes.


  10. (Now waiting to be called urophobic for using the word ‘pissy’ in a pejorative manner)

  11. Definitions of flounce
    flounce1 (flaʊns )
    (intransitive; often followed by about, away, out, etc) to move or go with emphatic or impatient movements

    ▷ noun
    the act of flouncing

    Word Origin
    C16: of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian flunsa to hurry, Swedish flunsa to splash

    = bounce, storm, stamp, go quickly, throw, spring, toss, fling, jerk


  12. Paul @ 2:

    Thank you for being a breath of fresh air. Too many people refuse to acknowledge that many Muslim women make a conscious choice to wear the veil, refrain from driving and to receive a smaller share of the inheritance when a father dies. Who are we to spread our way of thinking through neocolonialsm? We need to respect the choices women make.

    Christine @ 3:

    Some people will erroneously complain that you accused Dawkins of misogyny without presenting evidence to support your claim. They need to be re-educated until they understand that a woman’s accusation is evidence enough.

  13. Christine, I believe the word you are thinking of is “Minced”. It’s a totally different thing, although I suppose it would be possible to do both at the same time.

  14. “Flounce
    A word so feminine it conjures up lace petticoats. You cannot flounce out of a confrontation while wearing “manly” things such as a space suit or a pair of safety goggles. It requires frills, a swishy skirt, and a bouncy hairdo, even metaphorically, which is why it is only ever aimed at women. And sometimes gay men, revealing its user as a sexist homophobe.”


  15. Flounce
    When a member of an online community announces they are leaving, usually after a protracted disagreement with other members of the community.

  16. Paul, you flounced away. Lots of people do it at our table. It usually happens when they have no reply to our arguments. I have respect for you because you have come back to continue the conversation here.

    However, I have no interest in your sexual orientation. I wouldn’t even know it if you hadn’t chosen to tell me. I will treat you the same as I treat anybody else, without prejudice or favour based on your sexual orientation.

    Now, would you like to justify the claim you made that Richard Dawkins is misogynistic?

  17. Paul @ 18 has just demonstrated that he (I hope it is “he”) is correct and that the “f-word” should be struck from our vocabularies.

    For similar reasons, I propose that we extend this policy to the following slurs: fabulous, light as an adjective, homogenous, the term “fare ye”, and all people named Gaylord must be urged to change it to something less offensive.

  18. The frills on petticoats come from the old French word, ‘fronce’, meaning wrinkle, itself a derivative of ‘froncir’ which is Old Germanic. ‘Flounce’, as in storming off in a huff is Skandanavian. Two entirely different words.

    I looked up ‘rage-quit’ as an alternative to ‘flounce’ and the dictionary says ‘see also ‘flounce’ and ‘sore loser’. This latter is Paul’s problem: he stepped into the adult world and another adult treated him as an adult.

    The adult world isn’t going to give you a lolly pop every time you throw a tantrum. If you want to defend those who lynch homosexuals or whip rape victims you have to come up with something better than neologisms invented for just that purpose.

  19. Incidentally, while ‘flounced’ has two entirely unrelated meanings and no common root, ‘mince’ comes from the Latin for ‘minutiara’, to make small.

    Hence mincing meat and making small steps.

    A ‘mincing walk’ is not necessarily homophobic.

  20. To the people claiming that the word “flounce” is homophobic: for God’s sake get a grip. You’re making damned fools of yourselves.

    go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner.
    “he stood up in a fury and flounced out”
    synonyms: storm, stride angrily, sweep, stomp, stamp, march, strut, stalk
    “she rose from the table in a fury and flounced out”

  21. “They need to be re-educated until they understand that a woman’s accusation is evidence enough.”

    Hey, I think you are onto something..like why do we need courts at all? I just accuse you of a crime and you go to jail, no further stinking evidence needed, the prison industry gets even more profitable and we save on costs for those damn lawyers. Brilliant.

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