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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"That's the kind of wooly headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."
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November 06 2013

Joss speaking at Make Equality Reality. A recording of Joss' speech from Nov 4th when he was honored at an Equality Now event. Find out why he hates the word 'Feminist!' ETA: In related coverage, Allison Mack responds to Joss' 2006 Equality Now speech on her blog.

That was very good! I doubt if he'll ever top his 2005 speech, but this was lovely.
Loved the baking bread analogy. And the rest, really.
Joss, you can be off in a corner working the words all you want. You are, as ever, my Hero re this subject, deeply loved and respected.
For the record, THAT'S how you write a speech! Well done, Joss!
This is a good speech and is currently getting traction on various social media sites.
I've had this exact thought. Not in these words, exactly, but the frustration with trying to communicate that feminism isn't so much an ideology as a general opposition to the gender divide, equivalent to the state of not being racist, when the word sounds like it implies something else. Feminism has always struck me as a very unfortunate label.

One thing though, did Joss just say you can't be born an atheist? I'd like to point out that everyone is an atheist until sufficiently convinced to be a theist. Another one of those labels that people make assumptions about because of how it sounds. Atheist is the state of not being theist, just like feminist is the state of not being genderist.
RE: being born an atheist. I'm an atheist myself, so inclined to agree with you @GreatMuppetyAlien. However, I think what Joss MIGHT be getting at is that atheism is an active state of thinking - the belief that there is no God(s). Newborn babies don't believe anything. They simply DON'T believe. Which isn't quite the same as an active believing in NOT believing in a god. If that makes sense?At least, that's how I see it.
Can anyone find a transcript?
There's a transcript button on the webpage. It's fairly accurate. I don't think there's one available on the app though.
That's a great speech. It really is.
And please note this wonderful letter to Joss about his speech, from actor Allison Mack:
Thank you for that, I've added the link to the entry.
There is so much "plague" in this world. Thank you Joss, for writing stuff that gives people help to deal with guys who are literally the plague.

Atheism isn't the belief that there is no god. That's strong, positive and/or gnostic atheism. Atheism by itself is just the absence of theism, i.e. the default state of not holding a belief in deities.

Theist = One who believes in one or more deities.
Atheist = One who is not a theist.
Strong/positive/gnostic atheist = One who professes belief or knowledge that deities don't exist.
Weak/agnostic atheist = One who holds no belief in a deity, but claims no knowledge of whether or not they exist.
Weak/agnostic theist = One who professes faith in the existence of one or more deities, but claims no knowledge of whether or not they actually exist.
Strong/gnostic theist = One who professes to know that one or more deities does/do in fact exist.
Antitheist = One who believes that theism is harmful and/or in some other way a bad thing, or who for any reason stands in opposition to it.

Also, I am not an alien. Nor a viking.

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2013-11-07 17:28 ]
GreatMuppetyOdin: Can I ask where you are taking your definitions from? I'm more used to agnostic being used as a the term for "not (particularly) a theist" and atheist being "decidedly against theism," rather than a definition of the latter term that allow it to be used for infants.

There's also a philosophical argument that, as Joss said, "no one is born an atheist" because all rational humans have a basic intuition of an Other greater than themselves whom they could identify as what could be called a "Deity," and it is only a specific rejection of this feeling or idea that would allow one to be called an "atheist."

In any case, it seems appropriate that this thread has entered into a debate about words and their meaning. "I have the privilege of living my life inside of words." Yep, words are important!
Not sure where I first got these definitions from, but I've heard them lots and lots of times, and just googling atheism agnosticism difference brings this up:
Basically, a theist is someone who places the label "god" or "deity" on a concept and holds a belief that it exists, and an atheist is someone who doesn't. Some people loosely use the label "atheism" to describe strong atheism and "agnosticism" to describe agnostic atheism, but both are really broader than that, as atheism means "not theism" and agnosticism roughly means "uncertainty" (or "not knowledge"), which plenty of theists will admit to having also, and some will even assert to be the whole point of "faith".

'all rational humans have a basic intuition of an Other greater than themselves whom they could identify as what could be called a "Deity,"'
I'd like to know where you got that idea from. I mean, yeah, there's the early childhood instinct of looking up to someone and trusting them blindly, and that can be shaped into religious faith, but I think it's a stretch to suggest that parents count as deities just on the basis that we're genetically predisposed to practically worship them in early childhood, if that's what you're implying. I mean, sure, if we define "deity" as "that which is worshipped", but I think that might be up to the baby, and since we can't accurately communicate with babies, it's going to be tricky to find out if babies think of their parents as gods or if it's more accurate to say that they later come to think of gods as quasi-parents. Since they are most commonly exposed to parents before they're told what a god is, I'm inclined to think of the latter as the somewhat more likely scenario.

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2013-11-07 20:17 ]
I think Joss has tried bread analogies before - the WGA strike of aught seven/eight springs to mind - but I think it worked out much better this time. ; ]

I am so grateful to Joss for "pathetic pre-historic rage-filled in-bred ass-clown" - it's not just a *super* hashtag: #PatheticPrehistoricRageFilledInbredAssClown, but it's sortof formed itself into a little song or sea shanty as I go about my work today.

*Conceptually* mellifluous.

ETA: Ooops, forgot - and "genderist" is good, too. Naturally, I glom onto the funny-nasty and forget the more positive game-changer.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2013-11-07 21:51 ]
Thank you, Joss.

When he talked about needing to define or delete the fuzzy ground between sexism and feminism, it was like a light bulb lit up in my head. It frustrates me so much that one of the counter-arguments to feminism is that people don't even agree on what it means. Feminists point out that you're a feminist if you believe in equality, but so many people deny being feminist while at the same time claiming to support equality. That's hardly conducive to a meaningful debate!

I like 'genderist'. Maybe fewer men would believe it's irrelevant to them.
GreatMuppetyOdin: I didn't mean to speak of the deification of parents or hero-figures, just the basic idea that at a young age we realize that 'my circumstances have been given to me by another.' No one has given themselves their own life or circumstances, so this traces back through all of history to a beginning, a first cause of all things. Or, to approach it from a different angle, the question "Why does anything exist, rather than nothing exist?" leads some to believe that there is such a thing as Being itself, which is called God.

I want to follow this line of reasoning to say with Joss that "no one is born an atheist." To be an atheist, one must think through the implications of these statements and reject the notion that there is any kind of Being giving purpose or order to the universe. This would imply that to be an athiest one must be, as Joss has called himself, an "atheist and absurdist."
Bishop: That's the thing though. You don't have to be an absurdist to be an atheist. Those are two different things. Yes, you have to think it through to be an absurdist, but to be an atheist, all you have to do is not be a theist. That's it. Atheism isn't a conclusion or an idea, it's a term which describes anyone who doesn't fit the description "theist". One who doesn't believe in gods. A lot of people make the assumption that "doesn't believe in gods" means the same thing as "believes there is no god", but there's a difference, and the term "atheist" refers to the former, whereas the latter is a subset.
GreatMuppetyOdin, I think I hear what you're saying. I also think Joss would define atheist differently based on what he's said. I'd love to hear him speak more about that.

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