ActivismAfternoon InquisitionAnti-ScienceEvents

AI: Why Are You So Angry?

Why are atheists so angry? This was the topic of a beautiful and inspiring talk given by, Greta Christina at the recent American Atheists Convention in Des Moines, Iowa.

The basic point of her talk was that we are justifiably angry. To give just a few examples; we are angry about injustices such as genital mutilation, fervent belief and promotion of anti-science and the constant oppression of women, gays and other minorities because of the ideas perpetuated by religion and cultural ignorance. Please read all of the reasons Greta says we are justifiably angry here. It is well worth your time.

She goes on to to explain how every social change movement has been fueled and motivated by anger. Even the ones characterized in the end as peaceful revolutions. Anger is not hate. Anger is not violence. Anger is not bigotry. Anger is what motivated women to march and to burn their bras on the white-house lawn *at Washington Square Park as my mother did so many years ago. Anger is what may have motivated Rosa Parks to stay seated for civil rights. Anger inspires us to speak out against sexism and racism and psuedoscience. It inspires us to sometimes get in arguments online. But more importantly, it inspires us to fight for change.

Thanks, Greta. You eloquently explained how I often feel.

What are you angry about? What do you believe we should fight hardest to change?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

*Painting by me in 2006

* Edit: My mother burned her bra at a rally at Washington Square Park in NYC and marched at an anti Vietnam rally at the Pentagon. Sorry, got the details wrong but the idea is the same!

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. Wow, I love Greta. That is just great.
    I was told by my family this weekend that I am a, let’s see how did they put that? Oh yeah, I’m a snarky egotistictal asshole who has to be right about everything and why didn’t I just let some things go once in a while? (I will be forewarding this link to all but my brother, who had my back.)
    What brought that asessment on? My wife, who has been obsessed with the comming waste of public monies in Great Britain, starting going on and on about how the royal family and British intelligence has Diana killed. This after listening to the latest medical woo from my mother, religious bullshit from my sister-in-law, and political horseshit from my father and father-in-law all afternoon without comment.
    She was spouting one false piece of “evidence” after another at which point I corrected her facts. I did not tell her she could not believe what she believed, I just wanted the record set straight. I was told that if I couldn’t allow her to believe what she wanted to believe I should just shut up. I replied with what I believe may be one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever said. (If I do say so..)
    I can live with you being wrong, but I can’t live you being ignorant.
    Since she doesn’t appearently understand what the word ignorant means it has been very quiet around here.
    It’s rather nice, actually.

    1. “I can live with you being wrong, but I can’t live you being ignorant.” — Needs to be on a t-shirt.

    2. Thank you. I’ve had this attitude for a long time (as all my friends with sprained eye-rolling muscles will attest), but you’ve put it in words more succinctly than I’ve ever managed. Beautiful.

    3. Oh, by the way, speaking of the Diana “assassination”, have you seen this Mitchell & Webb sketch:

      1. That’s funny.
        Throw in a “you don’t bring down a speeding Mercedes with a Fiat” and it’s pretty much what I said.
        I love Mitchell and Webb. I need to find more of The Look.

  2. I don’t think being angry really requires any justification. Feelings aren’t something one can do much about.
    The actions one makes in light of those feelings is another matter. So for me, it isn’t specific topics that bother me, it’s the type of action that poor thinking (or lack thereof) and it’s impact that raises my ire.

    I typically let it go when I hear people talking about beliefs that I think are nutballish – provided that they aren’t taking action based on those beliefs that impact those I care about.

    You believe in bigfoot? Not a big deal. If you are family or a friend that’s advocating treating an illness with patented “Miracle Bigfoot Genital Fur ™” that you bought online in place of seeing a physician, I’ll be more likely to speak out.

    1. I totally agree. Belief in Bigfoot, aliens in our midst or the Loch Ness Monster don’t bother me. Anti-vaccers, religious fundamentalists, Dr. Oz do real damage and that is where I focus my anger.

    1. She told me she did! Maybe she was just trying to encourage me! Ha! Won’t be the first time she tricked me into standing up for myself. I will see if I can get to the bottom of it next time I see her.

      1. As usual Snopes is right and I am wrong! But I was close! She burned her bra at a rally at Washington Square Park in NYC and marched at an anti Vietnam rally at the White House. Confirmed it with her. It was me who only heard “Washington”.

          1. Memory is so transitory, sometimes I swear I actually traveled back to 1955 in a DeLorean to reunite my parents.
            Then again, that may have been a story I heard somewhere. ;)

  3. I’m angry because I literally feared “hell” for 13 years for no good reason. Also, those altar boy gowns. They smelled weird.

  4. Why am I angry? We’re expected to sit quietly and let various religions run rampant over us. But the moment we ask politely for them to refrain in specific areas like government and schools we’re ATTACKING THEIR RIGHTS!!11Y1!

    I’ve pretty much turned my Facebook page into a series of links to articles about this pedophile priest or that rip-off artist in a gown. I just keep pointing at the obvious and hoping people will figure it out on their own. I don’t think that’s aggressive at all and yet I still get flack from quite a few people.

  5. I don’t think of it as anger as much as righteous indignation. Same difference, I suppose.
    (On the other hand, if I ever build or own a boat, Righteous Indignation will be her name… Anger just doesn’t sound as cool ;) )
    @mrmisconception: That was a most excellent piece of wisdom, I can see that catching on. Perhaps as a Surly-ramic®?

  6. The train being five minutes late makes me angry. People who think it’s perfectly reasonable to write texts on their phones while cycling or driving makes me angry.

    The idea, often repeated as a self-evident truth, that people who believe more fervently in religion are somehow more trustworthy or dependable makes me shitting furious.

  7. Two words: vaccine panic. Mostly because it nearly always stems from a good place – a desire to protect your children from harm. It angers me that there are people who actively try to create panic so that vaccination rates drop, and they feel so passionate and right about vaccines doing more harm than good. . . something that is demonstrably false.

  8. For me, how religion has affected the lives of women saddens and angers me right to the core. My friends and family members have been so trapped my the confining ‘rule book’ of religion. :( For example, I have a friend that was not allowed to go on birth control while having a bout of depression with a newborn at home. She was told by their catholic doctor, that attended church with their family, it went against their beliefs. She ended up with a second baby within the year. A family member newly divorced (after he left her) felt it was a crime against God and feared hell after her divorce. All the devout religious women, I had worked with at a previous job, that did not speak up as the husband is the leader of the family as ordained by god. I am a feminist and agnostic. It is challenging to be supportive and try to reason with others with ‘whoo beliefs’ without being angry. But I figure, they many not have any other friends/family that use skepticism/logic rather than convention or biblical reference, so I try to make the effort.

    1. Awww, thanks. I really should start painting actual paintings again. Most of the time I am painting Surly-Ramics. :)

  9. I used to be angry at the world that sold me horse shit and told me it was Truth. I used to be angry at myself for buying it for so long. Now I get angry at people who spread harm through ignorance.

    As has already been pointed out, anger can be a good thing. It’s like a fire inside you. Left unchecked and uncontrolled, it can consume you. Contain it and control it, and it can provide you with a lot of useful energy.

    Oh, and I would so buy that T-shirt too.

  10. I’m angry because people lie and others who believe them get hurt. I’m angry because of antivax, natural birth, genital mutilation, exorcism, antichoice, antiworker, antiscience, disability denial, bigotry bullshit. I hate it. It makes me seethe. I want it ended, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make that happen. I LOVE anger, and I love the power it gives. I think this culture that maligns anger is part of the problem. Anger is wonderful, and when you stand up for that anger and do something about it, instead of imagining that being nice is going to fix things, you actually have a chance at changing the world.

  11. I’m angry that my glasses broke and I’ve got to shell out £230 to get some new ones… ok so its not atheist or skepitcal related but it still pissed me off.

  12. I’m not angry, just mystified that there are so many people who are still in the Dark Ages.

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