It's Christian Bashing Week!
How's that headline? Do I have everybody's attention now? Good. Because a headline like that should get your attention. Would anybody tolerate "Gay Bashing Week" or "Woman Bashing Week?" The very idea is ludicrous. Yet, Dinesh D'Souza can print an article entitled "Atheist Bashing Week" and hardly anybody bats an eyelash. There's certainly not public outrage and condemnation for such blatant bigotry. He was just joking, you say? Even in all of our stunts, which are regularly criticized by atheists (often quite vehemently), we've only dared to tell people that their god doesn't exist or encourage others to say so and post it to YouTube. Even the mind disorder controversy doesn't encourage physical harm or even allude to it. If we haven't had "Christian Bashing Week," you can bet it's because we find the notion repugnant, even in jest.
D'Souza's piece may have been tongue-in-cheek, but that is of little consequence to the typical reader who barely scans headlines and will be even subliminally influenced by this, much less those who don't have the reading comprehension to detect his almost imperceptible sarcasm. Could any of you imagine a "Muslim Bashing Week?" Even if a "Ha ha! Just kidding!" is added at the end, it is still extraordinarily offensive, and the fact that he isn't facing scorn for this piece is evidence that people are still permitted to discriminate against those evil godless heathens.
Though our numbers are increasing, it seems that our influence is not--at least not fast enough. Criticism of anybodys belief system is a freedom that I prize, and I have no desire to silence the apologists, but an inference to acceptance of physical harm is quite different. If we ever want to cast off our mephistophelian characterization, we must put a human face on the term "atheist," and the easiest way to do that is to openly identify yourself as one. Only then will we see public criticism of this rhetorical intolerance--when almost everybody has a son, daughter, sister, brother or friend who is an atheist.