My expulsion from Boston atheists.
I have associated atheism with Free Thought since I started writing for the British monthly, The Freethinker (established 1881) back in 1974. The Freethinker attacked religion, irrationalism, and all kinds of censorship, and did so with wit and fervor. Politically, subscribers to The Freethinker, as well as members of Britain's secularist and humanist groups, ran the gamut from extreme Left to extreme Right. Vigorous debate was expected and enjoyed by all, even if people sometimes got mad at each other. To my knowledge, no-one was ever expelled for favoring one or another political tendency.
Boston Atheists (BA) is the largest group of non-theists in Massachusetts. It has social events ("meetups"), like "blasphemy brunches", and has an email discussion list. I enjoyed the meetups, despite being old enough to be the grandfather of most of the others. On the whole, BA members were highly intelligent.
Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, members of BA started planning protests against "Trumpocracy". People on the discussion list began accusing Trump of all kinds of bigotry and of being a new Hitler. I joined the discussion on 10 November 2016 and wrote:
Let's face it, the worst person lost: Hillary, one of the two most corrupt persons ever to run for POTUS. (The other one was Bill.) It's not enough these days to read just the Mainstream Media. Myself, I read independent Internet sites from left to right, including CounterPunch.org, Antiwar.com, and LewRockwell.com. Those who rely on the Mainstream Media have no idea of the extent and enormity of the Clinton crimes. So, let's all just calm down. Trump's Victory Speech was gracious and presidential. I think he'll have plenty of advisers and will do a good job.
The same day, 10 November 2015, someone identified only as "Cara" wrote:
If this person is coming, count me out. Trump is a corrupt, immoral, misogynistic, racist, rapist. How many women's abortions do you think he's funded? Your articles are from sources so not legitimate, I refuse to expose my computer to the spam onslaught.
The next day, 11 November 2016, I merely posted a link:
An excellent piece by Justin Raimondo in today's antiwar.com: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/11/10/ trump-won-foreign-policy-factor
Later that day I received a post which informed me, "You've been removed from The Boston Atheists Meetup Group." Further down, the post elaborated: "The person who removed you said:
Dear John: I'm making a decision to remove you from the group. Things are being taken in a more community-oriented direction, and in discussion with the other organizers we reached a consensus that your participation tends to be disruptive rather than constructive. I regret we didn't see a solution that would allow us to avoid such a drastic action.... Take care, Zachary [Bos]"
I was dumfounded, since my post was civil and entirely within the bounds of netiquette. To be sure, it made severe charges against Hillary Clinton, that she is corrupt and criminal, but these same charges had been made in many publications and websites, from CounterPunch and Antiwar.com to the Wall Street Journal.
The second post, from someone identified only as "Cara" is truly offensive. It begins with insult ("this person"), goes on to accuse me of "ignorance and ridiculous foxnews conspiracy theories", makes wild and unfounded accusations against our President-Elect ("rapist"), and implies I should not be allowed in BA.
Zachary Bos's statement, "your participation tends to be disruptive rather than constructive," is misleading. At the time of my expulsion I had been inactive in Boston Atheists for over a year, neither attending meetups nor taking part in e-mail discussions. Some people had disagreed with me in the past, on one thing or another, but no-one ever suggested I was unwelcome, let alone that I ought to be purged.
I wrote Bos, asking him to explain what he found offensive in my post. He slithered away from my direct question, instead offering crocodile pity for my alleged distress: "I regret that this removal leaves you feel [sic] mistreated."
Zachary Bos's statement, "Things are being taken in a more community-oriented direction....", is chilling. Does this require censorship so everyone can think alike? Does it mean Gleichschaltung (the Nazi practice of bringing everything in line with National Socialism)?
Atheist groups should be concerned with atheism-spreading enlightenment, dealing heavy blows against superstition and irrationality. If politics are discussed, as they were in the e-mail discussion, then all viewpoints should be heard.
The enemies of Freethought are becoming more aggressive and powerful, from Censorious Crybabies to Sinister Social Justice Warriors to Political Police. There is less and less tolerance for dissident opinions. In academia, professors have been persecuted for saying or writing the wrong thing, and conservative speakers have been disinvited. We'll have to fight for our freedom, the freedom of the human mind.
JL (Dorchester, MA) attended Harvard College (AB 1963), is a retired market research analyst, and is now a full-time writer and publisher: Pagan Press (http://paganpressbooks.com/jpl).
The mainstream media, everyone understands they are part and parcel of this corrupt enterprise that is our political class in Washington D.C., and New York, and the way it works-Wall Street money, everything corrupt and part of it. It is in their political interests. They're not doing their job for the people. They do not care that they are responsible under the First Amendment, really--what I call the unwritten agreement of the First Amendment--that they would protect people from power. They have become nothing but the agents of power.