Naturalistic Neurodiversity

Exploring our differences through science.

Posts Tagged ‘neurodiversity

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #54

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

Sort of.

I am a person with an able-body/mind, and my experience with the atheist community is limited mostly to the internet, but I do feel put-off and uncomfortable with the casual and rampant use of ableist language and comparisons.  Ableist slurs such as crazy, stupid, idiotic, witless/nitwit/fuckwit and various other things suffixed with -wit, crippled etc. are common.  Comparisons to mental illness, aneurotypicality, and lack of intelligence are also common.  I find these make me uncomfortable with involvement in atheist communities much as sexist remarks also makes me uncomfortable and unsupportive of specific atheist websites.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

I think meetups should be ADA compliant as well as feature persons with disabilities as speakers (whether its on a broader topic or specifically on disability related issues–for example J.T. Eberhard often speaks on broader community issues, but has also done talks about his experience with mental illness).  I also think atheist communities should enforce policies that create inclusive and welcoming spaces for persons with disabilities and don’t treat them as undesirable, wrong, or cudgels to beat other commenters with whom they disagree. On Freethought Blogs there are policies by both the blog writers and commenters to in general stop, discount, and disuse any sexist slurs or similar dismissive constructions; I think a similar style should be used in regards to ableist language.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I think ableism like any other axis of oppression should be denounced and fought against by the atheist community. General social justice and humanistic principles are important to the strength of the community and movement and foster more inclusivity and diversity both in terms of persons and discourse.

Also, in regards to whether certain words are ableist or count as slurs, I’d prefer to err on the side of caution. I am in a position of privilege, so I am unable to definitively make such a call, however, other (non-atheistic) blogs and communities I follow that deal with ableism do count crazy, insane, stupid, etc. as ableist slurs, and as such I adhere to that. On that point, I’d also argue that it would be difficult to make a case for them not being ableist as such arguments tend to simply be retreads of other arguments related to language in discussions of sexism or racism i.e. words change, intent, generic/equal use, being technically accurate, dictionary definition etc. None of which are convincing arguments. Further, there are other words and constructions that can be used to give the same general meaning without being ableist. For example, instead of crazy, use absurd or ridiculous.

I won’t go into much here, but there is also a general trend in atheist communities to treat religious persons, or certain arguers, as lacking in intelligence (using words such as stupid, idiotic, dumb). While the individuals they are arguing or responding to may be holding untenable, badly constructed ideas or be (willfully or not) ignorant, this is a much different thing than being lacking in intelligence or being “dumb.” I object to this not on a tone basis, but on a basis of it’s reductive and all or nothing view of intelligence that treats lack of knowledge as a lack of capability to ever know and thus subtly is engaging in ableist ideas about the worth of those who may be mentally retarded or have an intellectual disability.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on way too much–I apologize. I know how hard it is to remove ableist language and constructions from my speech so I am not expecting an overnight change, but I would be glad and much more comfortable if the atheist communities made such efforts. I hope this was helpful 🙂

Response #54 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #53

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Educate themselves.
As supposedly “superior” and more “logical” atheists claim to be,
all that moral high ground goes right out the window when it comes to

  • sexism
  • racism
  • classism
  • ableism
  • etc etc etc

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I agree – atheism without borders – an inclusive society, is the best thing we can do to walk the talk.

Response #53 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

June 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #52

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Mental, though I suppose it is not technically a disability: PTSD, which makes it very difficult for me to actually leave my house and interact with people, even people I know, but especially people I don’t know.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

There are other things, attitudes and behaviors of the community, which keep me from risking interaction, but not specifically because someone referenced my mental or physical ability.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

For people like me, maybe online meeting options where I could participate from home? Live chat from conferences or streaming video?  I would think it would also be helpful for people who just live too far away and can’t afford to travel.

Response #52 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

June 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #49

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Bipolar

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

On reddit, atheist forum usually associates belief with a mental disorder.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

I think people need to be educated and experience life with a mental illness.

Response #49 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #43

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Awareness is the first step. Meetings at accessible places, facilities for disabled people, polite pointing out of ablest language – idiom is a strong force, and just as sexist language is often a matter of ingrained idiom I suspect ableist language will be also. People shouldn’t be vilified for well intentioned mistakes, though those who become assholes when challenged are fair game 🙂

Response #43 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

May 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #42

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

No.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

No.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

have discussions about ableist terms and why they’re ableist; work to combat the stigma around mental illnesses and debunk myths about them

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

I wish prominent atheists would stop calling people/ideas they disagree with “crazy.”

Response #42 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

May 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #40

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Mental:
Tourettes, Depression, OCD, ADD. We suspect ASD but don’t have a diagnosis.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

I frequently am bothered by the assertion that “religion is crazy” or “religion is a mental illness” As someone who actually has a mental illness

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Stop the fucking “religion is crazy” rhetoric. Focus on the cruelty, and fundamental incoherence of religion not attacking them by making ableist comments

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

It was literally my first encounter with atheism. I was an officer in the religious studies club giving a talk on Norse Paganism (my belief system before I became atheist) and literally the first comment out of the local Atheist club’s mouth was “How fucking crazy do you have to be to believe that shit.”

Response #40 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.