misrepresenting views and inciting hatred

 a shining example is VWs assertions about me and my motivation; they come from her and not reality… and nothing I can offer from reality can persuade her otherwise. It’s simply a faith-based belief she chooses to hold and maintain. It is pernicious because it maligns my character and she doesn’t care. (Tildeb)

A few fellow bloggers have accused me in the last week of misrepresenting their views and maligning their characters. On a couple of occasions it was Christians, when I was attempting to draw attention to flaws in thinking in terms of concern for children. The other two occasions were with atheists: one when I saw harm in attitudes towards trans people, and the other discussing the impact of religion on society.

On all occasions I have quoted directly from the source, which I’ve linked to for context, and given my commentary underneath. The bloggers I quoted have been welcome to discuss their quote, to argue with my commentary and to clarify anything they feel has been misrepresented.

Tildeb, above, is angry that I suggested he hates religious people and believes they are unable to think coherently. And yet, skimming through a selection of his comments, I’m confused that anyone could think otherwise:

“I think it poisons everything it produces… including anything ‘good’ people try to attach by assumption to it…”

“That’s what faith is: a substitution for reality. It is identical to delusional thinking. It is a way to divorce beliefs held about reality from reality’s role to arbitrate them.”
“Religion is the mother ship of faith-based methodology and its children are all around us: from going along with the delusion that individuals really do have their very own ‘truths’ to all kinds of anti-scientific anti-intellectual, anti-expertise beliefs that are so contrary to reality that its a marvel that anyone in their right mind would go along and nod wisely and with dripping compassion and exuding tolerance as if this were all very reasonable and chic and oh-so-liberal.”
“Yes, religion poisons everything. And yes, the harm is ubiquitous. And yes, we end up spending time and effort pretending the real problem is pointing out the common thread: granting faith-based beliefs any respect at all.”
“The poison itself is faith-based belief. When you identify the use of a faith-based rather than evidence-adduced belief, you will recognize the poison at work. It always impairs the mind and impedes the acquisition of knowledge.”

To be fair to Tildeb, I am quite convinced he’s a well-meaning and non-hateful person. But at some point in these damning comments about religion being a poison and people being delusional, we are talking about people. If beliefs aren’t granted “any respect at all”, how do we separate that from people, whose very identity and deepest concerns are wound up in those beliefs? If religion always “impairs in the mind” how could we ever take any religious people seriously?

Tildeb thinks I’m misrepresenting him, but I can only see I’m taking his views to their logical conclusion. How do we separate hatred against an institution from hatred against the individuals who identify with that institution? I’m really not sure.

Things take a turn for the worse when we look at The Arborist’s (Arb’s) accusation of misrepresenting his attitude towards trans people.

This isn’t about hating a particular subset of people because they are a certain way, this is about disagreeing with the bullshit they spew and the demands they make. Case in point, the idea that somehow biological sex is merely a social construct (it isn’t, it is an observable fact), or that by the power of deep gender-feels, one can change an immutable features of ones physical body. (Arb)

Arb ‘disagrees’ with trans people by opposing their understanding of themselves, described as “alternative facts”, and reporting on crimes and other harmful behaviour of individual trans women. He disagrees with my assessment that he wants to erase them – but can’t tell me what he wants trans people to do. How do we separate hatred against a self-identified belief of a person from hatred against the person, whose very identity is in that concept? How can we help stop the rising hate crimes against trans people if we spread information about the criminal actions of a few, suggesting they are actions of a group identity they all share? I’m sure we can’t. I find his campaign against trans people to be seriously harmful, and laced in dangerously acceptable-sounding terminology that gives false credence, and avoids stating the full beliefs of this prejudiced group.

Finally, we have the Christians, one of whom never wants to be named or linked to by me again. I’d like to apologise to both of them for suggesting that they don’t care about children, as I know they do have their best interests at heart, and I cherry picked their comments to show them in the worst light possible. Although I still stand by my belief that a pro-life stance never has the best interests of children at heart.

For anyone else who feels I misrepresent their beliefs or their outlook, please tell me in the moment so we can discuss it, explaining why my summary is incorrect. Because contrary to what Tildeb thinks, I do care about how I use other people’s words.