The importance of friendly fire

Took me a little while longer to get caught up on this than I’d hoped, but it’s important.

Atheists are very much like any other group in that we are composed of humans.  Consequently, while I would argue that the vast majority of us are pleasant folk, some small number are constitutively terrible people, and some larger number are subject to the ravages of the G.I.F.T..

Left alone, the G.I.F.T. often results in the building of communities and mentalities that promote violence and hate.  Recently this was put on fantastic display, the details of which I will not recount but may be found well aggregated by Greg Laden here (note- take those trigger warnings seriously).

My intention here is not to pile much deserved scorn on The Amazing Atheist, as others have done so with thoroughness and eloquence beyond my capacity (see Greg Laden’s many links.  The point is that there are tools at our disposal to counteract the negative consequences of mob mentalities.

Friendly fire from a community can help break this kind of crap (although it is worth noting that the targets of this kind of crap should also feel free to pursue law enforcement remedies).  People need to know that when they cross lines (like attempting to trigger PTSD symptoms in a rape victim) that their mobs will not stand behind them.  I never followed the guy, but all those who did and stopped over this- good choice.  Those who told him so, even better.

There is a notion that you don’t want to attack your allies.  This is reasonable in physical space, but in discourse this is insane.  Friendly fire either makes us better or reveals us to have been unworthy allies in the first place.  Both are useful, and easily more productive than getting along and playing nice.

This is certainly not to say that I think friendly fire is always enough in cases like this.  It is merely to say that it is justified and should be regarded as an expression of admirable qualities.

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One Response to The importance of friendly fire

  1. a coward says:

    As someone who firmly believes in playing devil’s advocate for the exact reasons you brought up, I’ve had to learn to hard way again and again that it’s still very important to be able to /aim/ properly, and it’s often very hard to tell when your aim is true, because the target can often be very small. And when your aim is off, there IS damage done. It’s not the sort of damage that comes from physical crossfire, and fortunately, it’s still far easier to survive. It is, however, not simply a case of making it better for the other person or discovering they’re not really your allies.

    In the case, your point largely stands true, so the danger I bring up here is minimal, if any.

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