Another Mass Shooting.  More Thoughts and Prayers.

Y ’all, I’m tired…this shit makes me so mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I used to ask myself:  How many tragedies have to happen before we do something? But after a guy walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 kids and Congress did nothing…we, as a country did nothing, I stopped asking.  We decided then that guns were more important than the lives of children, so I stopped wondering what it would take to get people to drop their guns and do something.  If the lives of 20 children in a school didn’t do it, nothing ever would. So each time I see something like this on the news…the Orlando shooting, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs… I mourn the victims, sick to my stomach because I know I CAN’T do anything to change it, our government WON’T do anything to change it, and this WILL happen again…maybe not for a couple of weeks or a month, if we’re lucky.

In the U.S. we average 1.08 mass shootings per day.  ONE. MASS. SHOOTING. PER. DAY.  You can tell me that’s not about guns until you are blue in the face and I still will never believe you. Why? Because it IS about fucking guns. No other country in the world has problems like this because no other country in the world has more guns than people.  Not one.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported that the number of guns manufactured in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013 from 5.5 million to 10.9 million…and most of those guns stay on U.S. soil with only 400,000 exported in 2013 (so fewer than 4%).  The gun homicide rate in the U.S. is over 25% higher than in any other high-income country. And guns kill over 1,300 children in the U.S. EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And we do nothing. Except produce and sell more guns.  And pray…which is really what this article is about, so I’ll get off my gun soapbox (since clearly it will never do any good anyway).

Thoughts and Prayers

So this morning I was watching the news in the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting…once again I watched in horror as I got ready for work…nearly in tears as they talked about the families and the children that we mercilessly killed for apparently no reason (as if any reason would make it any better).  Anyway, Chris Cuomo was interviewing the governor of Texas (Greg Abbott…who of course has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA) and Chris asked what he feels his responsibility as a leader of the community is in a situation like this. You know what this asshole said??? (Paraphrasing) ‘Well Chris, there is evil in this world and all we can do is rely on the power of God.’

I’m sorry…the what, now?  My sadness was immediately overcome by anger.  Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?  The governor of Texas thinks that the way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people is to “work with God.” Where was your god when these people were getting mowed down yesterday morning, Governor? There is nothing more useless that anyone can do than sending people thoughts and fucking prayers. When things like this happen, I have to pretty much stay off social media because I can’t keep the outrage over the “thoughts and prayers” brigade to myself.  I find myself screaming at my screen ‘FOR FUCK SAKE, GO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING’ whenever I see them out in force.

And the Sutherland Springs shooter was apparently an atheist

Of course he was…so today it was worse than most other days…because according to the news, this guy was an atheist. There are people on the news talking about how the shooter ‘preached atheism’ as if that is a real fucking thing. But people (Christians) will see it and believe it. Because they don’t know the first thing about what being an atheist means and they remain ignorant of it willfully.  I went to Hemant’s Facebook page to the visitor’s section (since there is a screenshot of the shooter’s FB profile and he just happened to ‘like’ The Friendly Atheist) to see what kind of shit he was getting and it wasn’t exactly pretty.  There weren’t as many messages as I thought there would be, but atheist activists and other well-known atheists are definitely taking a hit over this one.

For any Christians (or other religious people) who might be reading this, we (atheists) don’t have any sort of unifying dogma or belief system. BUT of the atheists I know and know of (and that’s a lot), exactly NONE of us condone this kind of behavior for any reason, period.  I may not like your religion, but I am a humanist and I care about YOU. I care about the victims of this (and every other) shooting.  But I can’t do anything about it or anything to stop the next one without your help. And help does not consist of thoughts and prayers.  Christians continue to think and pray and rely on the power of god.  It’s been just over 500 days since Orlando.  There have been over 500 mass shootings.  There have been zero actions from Congress or the President.  Over 600 people have died.  Nearly 3,000 people have been injured.  If religious people want to do that shit on their own time, fine…but right now is the time to demand change.  Choose right now that our children and families are more important than arsenals and let’s actually do something to stop the next one.

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Lately we’ve heard a lot about in-fighting in the atheist movement.  Even some of the biggest and most respectable names in the “community” have made statements regarding the death of the atheist movement and how certain types of people have killed it.  Frankly, these statements are ridiculous.  First of all, atheism isn’t really a movement…not a cohesive one anyway.  I’ve always held that atheism is a single answer to a single question.  Piling shit on top of it, in my opinion, is nonsensical.

Some groups within the “atheist community” seek to push people out who think like I do…people who don’t buy into including things like humanism, feminism, race relations, politics, etc. as part of being an atheist.  Now…do I care about these things?  OF COURSE I DO! I would totally consider myself a feminist, in that I believe in equal rights for women; I’m certainly a humanist, as I have dedicated most of my life to philanthropy and helping others; I am in no way a racist or bigot and believe in equal rights for all people regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexual preference, etc.; and I am a passionate, outspoken liberal, a fact which often leaves me an outcast since I live smack in the middle of the American Bible Belt. But NONE of these things has anything to do with my atheism or atheist activism.

In regards to being an atheist activist, I am concerned about the separation of church and state and ensuring that the government cannot enact laws based on someone’s chosen and individual morality.  I am concerned with childhood indoctrination and how it damages children’s ability to mentally develop properly.  I am concerned with faith healing parents who allow their children to die because they’d rather pray than seek medical care. I am concerned with teaching evidence-based science and history in schools.  I’m concerned with members of clergy molesting and abusing kids.  To me, this is what the “atheist movement” is about.  And our fight in regards to these things is far from over.

Today I listened to Seth Andrews’ podcast, The Thinking Atheist (2017 / 10 / 31), which is about the atheist movement and its current condition.  Everyone needs to listen to this podcast.  I have always respected Seth and his work is not only good, but necessary within the atheist movement.  In this podcast, he talks about community, communal goals and endeavors, and activism and he makes some points I’d like to address:

“Allowing ourselves permission to participate in a group, doesn’t mean we have sacrificed ourselves to group think.”

YES!  This is how it SHOULD be. Unfortunately, this isn’t the direction we are heading.  Some pretty influential people within atheist activism circles have decided that they don’t want people in their group that don’t think like they do…about shit that has nothing to do with atheism. So now we can’t work together on things from my list of examples above (regarding atheist activism) because of things completely unrelated to it. Seth describes how he prefers to be part of a well-armed battalion of soldiers with worthy weapons and a battle plan trying to defeat a dangerous enemy rather than being a single soldier outside a fortified castle wall throwing stones at it, trying to defeat religious privilege.  Why can’t we set all of the other shit aside and be this battalion? Why do petty differences and disagreements, or even major differences and disagreements, prevent us from coming together to fight for our common goals?

“Beyond the petty tribalism and the character assassination and the toxic awfulness that fuels these flame wars out there…and this us versus them squabbling…beyond all of this unhealthy division, the fact that we disagree is actually a necessary and even wonderful thing.”

YES! Disagreement is necessary and wonderful. Can you imagine how boring life would be without it? What the fuck would we talk about? The same shit all the time…nod our heads in perpetual agreement?  Do those who want to kick people like me out of the community really want that? How would we ever learn anything?  Have you reached the pinnacle of human intelligence and progress? As Seth said, we are not all drones and clones…we disagree and we say so.  But my favorite thing Seth says about disagreement is this: Disagreement is a necessary and wonderful check and balance because it allows the best ideas to win the day.

“There is this whole spectrum of humanity that claims the label of atheist.  And just like we see with any culture, any demographic, any shade of humanity, there are wonderful atheists and there are terrible ones.  Charitable atheists and selfish ones. Kind atheists and cruel ones.  Rational atheists and irrational ones. Champions for equality and bigots.  Beautiful people and awful people.  This is a hard truth”

Yes….it is a hard truth.  It is a hard truth that people, without the control and “guidance” of religion, still hold some of the same irrational ideas…the same lack of empathy and compassion…the same prejudices.  But some do and rather than shunning those people, perhaps we should try to talk to them. Maybe what they need is some compassion…maybe what they need is some education.  We won’t know until we talk to them.  And setting aside all of those other things, we can still share common interests and work together to reach our goals.

“So what do we do?”

We refrain from picking sides…we talk more…we listen more. The problem is that BOTH sides have to be willing to do this and until they are, we will get nowhere.

“Even the tragic anomaly of the recent MythCon circus in Milwaukee, that hasn’t nullified all of the other, the many other wonderful conferences out there.  Nor does it define the temperature, the goals, the mission, the character of all the other organized events which foster good will and quality content and a full cast of credible presenters in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for everybody.”

Seth is right. MythCon didn’t nullify any of the other conferences out there…and why would it have?  Based on Seth’s own criteria, MythCon had speakers that were strong and diverse.   The attendees were enthusiastic and were hugely interested in building friendships…and they wanted to learn stuff. And it was filled with good will and quality content.  MythCon holds the same principles Seth does at its core…the ability to participate in a group without sacrificing to group think, the awareness that disagreement is necessary for continued growth and learning, and the idea that we need to refrain from picking sides…talk more….listen more.  Attendees found MythCon to be safe and enjoyable, and while there were a few who didn’t like one segment or another and chose to sit out those portions, this is not uncommon at conferences because people have difference preferences.  So I don’t understand why he thinks it was a circus…perhaps his evaluation of MythCon might hold more weight had he actually been there.

Conclusion

Is the atheist movement dead? No.  We are still a group of people working to advance shared goals but we can apparently no longer work together because we don’t share all of the SAME goals. This is where we are broken. My hope is that we won’t always be…that those in between the extremes will be able to gradually convince one person to listen…and then another…and then another until the extremes can see that not agreeing about every single thing isn’t so bad and it doesn’t make everyone a monster.  My naïve hope is that someday, we can come together as atheist activists to fight religious injustices that plague this world.  Whether that day comes or not, I will continue to fight and I welcome all those who want to fight with me.

Why I can’t stand with “SJWs”

Over the past couple of months I have observed a community of intelligent, (mostly) well-meaning, progressive people tear each other and themselves (as a community) apart over what I previously viewed as a very basic concept most of us share…social justice.  Extreme sides have developed and so many people are caught in the middle unsure of how to best proceed.  It appears you have to pick a side…if you don’t you’re a Nazi (even when you aren’t), deplorable, a rape apologist (whether you’ve defended rape or not), or a white supremacist (whether you’re white or not). Or you’re a piece of shit, a retard, or an asshole. Or you could be a snowflake, a fascist, ridiculous, an embarrassment, dense, a bully, dumb, dishonest, incapable of conversation, irrational, disingenuous, emotional, a robot…plug and play any generic insult…and you should definitely be ashamed of yourself.

We’ve come to a point at which words are flung around with such ease that they’ve come to mean nothing. And they certainly don’t represent the people at which they are being directed. I’ve been called every single thing listed above in the past two months and so much more. I’ve been told that I should sit down, stop talking, shut the fuck up, that I’m not worth someone’s time…all because I’ve challenged ideas, questioned behaviors, or simply respectfully disagreed with someone’s position. Honestly, people…what the hell is wrong with us? When did we become incapable of discussing our disagreements civilly and like adults?  And why?

Social Justice Warriors and the Bad Guys

Equality and fair treatment for all without regard to race, sexuality, gender, class, religion, age, nationality, etc.  Seems great, right? An ideal to strive for and incredibly difficult to attain.  The important thing is that we recognize our problems and work together to try to do better.  Right? Wrong.  At least that’s not how it works anymore.  Out of this movement has grown a superiority complex on behalf of some individuals who demonstrate not only a disregard for actual problems, but also a complete lack of humanism and decency when it comes to cooperating and conversing with people who happen to disagree about some things…anything…even just one thing.  It’s really baffling how this radical sect of the social justice movement justifies behavior that mirrors the behavior that they claim to be against.  But it’s okay when they do it because they are fighting the “bad guys.”

Who are the “bad guys?”

Me. You. Anyone who asks a question. Anyone who disagrees. It’s really crazy to watch it unfold.  For example, I don’t believe that violence is the proper course of action when dealing with a person with whom you disagree, even when those disagreements are fundamental.  If someone were to say to me that they think that gay people should not be allowed to marry, that immigrants are animals and we should oppose them, that minorities aren’t as well suited for something simply because of their race, or that opposing ideas should be oppressed because someone doesn’t like them, I would strongly oppose those things.  But what do I gain by punching them in the face?  What will change from me doing so? By simply asking these questions, I’m labeled a sympathizer or apologist of whatever the ideological difference may be or I’m defending them, no matter what my stance is on it or whether or not I ACTUALLY defended them. Instead the radicals make assumptions, tell me what my position is, spread misinformation, sling personal insults, treat me like I’m stupid, etc.

Look…I WANT to be able to stand with other social justice advocates because that is what I am. But I don’t agree with the tactics of the radical portion of the community (who happen to also be the loudest), so I’m out of the club…what kind of shit is that?  We agree on so many things but because I think some behaviors are extreme and unacceptable, I’m dismissed as (insert whatever ridiculous accusation here)?! They can’t be serious!! But they ARE.  And it is exhausting.

So who are the REAL “bad guys?”

Are you ready for this? There are no bad guys, as a collective, and social justice advocates aren’t good guys, as a collective.  There are people. We are people.  We are vastly diverse in backgrounds and views and that really is okay. What we have, as social justice advocates, are opportunities. There are so many reasons why people hold the beliefs and positions they do and until you actually LISTEN to someone, you don’t have any idea what they are.  Maybe someone is simply uninformed because they were taught something their whole life by people they trust and all they need is someone to explain a new perspective to them. Maybe someone really needs to be educated (and we can certainly do that).  Maybe all someone needs is a spark or for al light bulb to go off.  Instead we, as a community, have resorted to childish behavior. We denigrate each other and feign superiority over others. We prance around all high and mighty and treat anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the groupthink like shit because we are “better” that they are. I have news for all of you. We aren’t.

Bullying and harassing people on social media has become a normal behavior within our community.  This is not only how we have treated perceived outsiders, but how we are treating EACH OTHER!  It makes other people in the community afraid to join the conversation, afraid to agree or disagree with anyone, afraid to participate. Listen…this is unacceptable and it is not an effective way to influence or teach people.  It is not how we learn and grow as individuals or as a community.  And it certainly will not create any kind of environment through which the positive message of actual social justice can spread.

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So…this is my plea to you…my call to action, if you will.  If you think someone’s ideas are dangerous or you simply disagree with someone, put in the effort to change their minds and their hearts.  And listen closely now because this is important…we will never promote positive change behaving as we currently do.  Reach out to someone you disagree with.  Listen. Talk. Learn.  Build a bridge.  Actually BE the better people we think we are.  Stop all the petty nonsense that is tearing us apart. Maybe if we do this, we can grow as a community and refocus on our missions.  Maybe then we can truly provide an example for respectful interaction and discourse with each other.  Maybe then we can help society progress to and grow into a world we all want to be a part of.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my message and please feel free to follow me on Twitter @ge_kaitlyn if you’d like to talk more.

Gender Wage Gap in the U.S.

Recently I have been involved in several discussions regarding the gender wage gap in the United States.  It started with the following image:

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A fairly significant discussion ensued about how the gender wage gap in the U.S. is a myth because it looks at wages as a whole rather than by industry, which is misleading.  Last night, while watching the Democratic debate, Godless Engineer and I discussed the issue again…on which we don’t exactly agree and I think it deserves another look.

The typical argument that women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns is based on the average difference between the earnings of men and women employed in full time positions.

wage gap

In 2009 the U.S. Department of Labor released a study on the wage gap which revealed that the “adjusted” wage gap—which accounts for other factors like differences in education, number of hours worked, job sector, position, etc.—is actually somewhere between 4.8 and 7 cents1 which supports the idea that the gender wage gap in the U.S. is a myth.

The problem with the “adjusted” wage gap is that it overlooks the reasons of the adjusted factors, many of which result from society’s discriminatory expectations of men and women.  For example, sexism is still prominent in the workplace.

Men are more likely to be hired in management roles and considered for promotions while administrative roles are predominately filled by women.

In addition, women spend about 32% more time than men on domestic work and childcare.2   It is estimated that women who elect to have children are perceived to be less committed to their careers and studies have shown that for every child a woman has, she suffers a 5% wage penalty.3  According the American Association of University Women, “Becoming a mother can negatively affect women’s earnings, while becoming a father does not typically have the same effect.”4

In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a study in which they tracked 535 full-time occupations and in the 125 occupations with comparable earnings data, men earned more than women in all but one profession.5   From this study, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published the 10 smallest and 10 largest wage gaps in tables by occupation which showed that the jobs with the largest wage gaps have significantly higher earning potential and those occupations in which pay is more equal have significantly lower earning potential.

top10

bottom 10

While I will not argue there is no value in looking at the adjusted gender wage gap, we still need to address the underlying causes of the external factors that affect income inequality between men and women.  Also, as Godless Engineer pointed out, the gap isn’t standard across the board and solutions to the wage gap need to be addressed at the industry level.  However, I find it more than a little troubling that the highest gender wage gaps occur in the higher paid positions, an issue that should also be addressed. What does it say about our society when we argue that women can make as much as men if they want to be a stock clerk or a maid, but can’t if they want to be a financial advisor, manager, sales person, or CEO?
*Kaitlyn Chloe
Citations
1. Sommers, Christina Hoff. “Wage Gap Myth Exposed – By Feminists.” American Enterprise Institute. Huff Post Politics. Web. 4 Nov 2012. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html)
2. http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_images.jsp?cntn_id=11145
3. http://now.org/resource/the-gender-pay-gap-myth-vs-fact/
4. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/graduating-to-a-pay-gap-the-earnings-of-women-and-men-one-year-after-college-graduation.pdf
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” available at http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.htm  (last accessed April 2015).

$1.4 Billion Lottery: The Bible and Gambling

Many Christians choose to abstain from gambling for “religious” reasons. But what does the bible say about gambling?

Interestingly enough the bible does not specifically condemn gambling, betting, or the lottery.  However there are several passages in the bible warning against the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10 and Hebrews 13.5) and “get rich quick” schemes (Proverbs 13:11; 23:5, and Ecclesiastes 5:10) both of which apply to gambling, betting, and the lottery.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” -Matthew 6:24

So without expressly forbidding gambling, betting, or the lottery why are some Christians so adamant that this behavior is a sin?  According to Pastor Roger Barrier in his column “Ask Roger,” people have to decide for themselves what their personal convictions lead them to believe.  If buying a lottery ticket breaks your conscience, then it is a sin.  Others have made claims regarding stewardship of the poor and how playing the lottery is not a wise use of money.

While there are several arguments for why Christians shouldn’t gamble, there are arguments for the opposite position among Christians as well.  Catholics apply certain conditions on gambling to ensure that it isn’t illicit, therefore not a sin.  Then there are more wild claims of people who have prayed about their financial issues, been “led” to buy a lottery ticket, and won.  Or those who feel like gambling is a sin, but play anyway because of all the good they can do with the winnings.

In my personal experience,  I’ve met people who are very religious who will gamble and others who won’t.  I currently work with a person who would not participate in a fun game of poker bowling among coworkers for a small $2 bet, claiming the moral “high ground” of gambling being a sin. However, with the Powerball now climbing to $1.4 billion, is playing and has been for the last couple of drawings because its “just so much money” and “Jesus would understand.”

The hypocrisy of the religious never ceases to amaze me.  While gambling, betting, and the lottery are a gray area for the religious because they are not expressly forbidden in the bible, some still choose to flaunt a fictitious moral high ground through refusing to partake in such activities.  Unless the jackpot is “high enough” of course.  And when you win, don’t forget Jesus’ 10%…that shit IS in the bible, so your ass better do it.

*Kaitlyn Chloe

Engineers Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders

When I was growing up philanthropy was a significant part of my life.  As a Catholic, charities and charitable events were easy to find and be a part of.  Now, I’m an atheist and philanthropy is still a major part of my life, but finding secular charities or charitable events to participate in isn’t exactly easy.

The Godless Engineer provides us with a platform, a network through which we can make a difference.  Starting this month Godless Engineer will feature one secular charity or organization per month for our followers.  Our hope is that our followers across social media will check them out, get involved…donate your time or money to any of these, or other causes, and do good for others who desperately need it.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

EWB-USA_logo

For the month of December and for our first secular charity, we are featuring Engineers Without Borders.  Engineers Without Borders envisions a world in which every community has the capacity to sustainably meet their basic human needs.  Their projects span 45 countries on five continents.  Their nearly 16,000 members are currently engineering change through 663 community-driven projects including:

  • Water supply (source, storage, distribution, and treatment)
  • Civil works (roads, drainage, dams, erosion control, and solid waste management)
  • Sanitation (sustainable waste solutions, latrines, and gray and black water systems)
  • Agriculture (farming, production, irrigation, and harvesting)
  • Energy (fuels, biofuels, and solar, water and grid power)
  • Structures (bridges and buildings)
Thank you for being a part of Godless Engineer and joining us in our quest to band together as a secular community and make our world a better place for all.