Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Notes on episode 710

Yes, we know the video link isn't working. We're working on it. Specifically, Don says we're shifting to a new server. So I'll add an addendum to this post when there's a workable video to view.

A couple of notes on some things that a few viewers have emailed us about, regarding how a couple of the calls went.

Mark "from Stone Church": Some folks have admonished us for being a bit curt and dismissive of Mark this time, considering how he seems to have made such progress in shifting from mindless follower to free thinker. Yes, about that. While I'm not as inclined to think there are as many Poes calling us as a lot of our viewers like to think, there is something about Mark that sets my skeptical Spidey-sense a-tingling with every call we get. I'm not the first person to make this observation. That his IP address originates from Canada has raised some eyebrows as to whether he really attends Austin Stone Church at all (though that's not proof of anything, as a person could use any ISP they chose, I suppose). But there was just something about Sunday's call that made a little blinking red light labeled Bogus! go off in my head, though I really could not put my finger on any one definite thing. Is he someone who's been jerking our chain all this time? I cannot point to any smoking-gun evidence. Call it a hunch, which I know is about as unscientific as it gets.

There are little things — notice how Mark always claims to be present in a room full of people when he calls ("I'm with my congregation..." "I've got all my friends watching..."), yet you never hear any background chatter? You'd think a room full of Christians calling an atheist show would be full of "Hey, ask them this!" and "Let me, let me!" And then there's the abrupt shift from "You're going to hell!" to "Let's get together on this investigation that shows every time you question religion it's proven false!" Most of us who came from a religious background will tell you, you don't go from a devout believer to hardline, investigation-minded skeptic in the span of a couple of weeks. Deconversion happens all the time, but it's a long and gradual process and it often takes years to shake off the more insidious and psychologically oppressive aspects of religious indoctrination, such as the fear of even the remotest, 1% possibility that disbelief will lead to eternity in hell. (Pascal's Wager is intellectually risible, but to a non-critical mind, it's an emotional sledgehammer.)

But the strange thing is, if Mark is a Poe, he hasn't been asking us anything overtly obnoxious or trollish. (His hellfire admonitions in his "believer" phase were standard Christian stuff.) So while I'm not sure I believe he is who or what he says he is, he hasn't given us much reason to be rude or contemptuous of him, and that wasn't the intent on Sunday. But by the time his call was over we were 25 minutes into a one-hour show and it was time to move on.

Charlie the "atheist homophobe": Unfortunately, we had to move on to this assclown.

Again, some folks have opined that Tracie and I handled this one all wrong, and in fact I'd agree. What I should have done — with 20/20 hindsight — was point out that as an African-American, Charlie ought to know a thing or two about how hurtful and damaging ignorance, hate and bigotry are, and that for him to hold such views was simply disgraceful. Click, you're done.

What I do not think we had any obligation to do was grant Charlie his point that the term homophobia ought to refer to "disgust" towards gays rather than hate and fear. First off, even if this were true, what difference would it make? Sure, homophobia can (and does) include "disgust," but it's the most asinine hair-splitting to try to claim that this emotion is somehow independent or entirely unrelated to fear or hate, when in fact "disgust" in this case is simply an emotional by-product of said fear and hate.

And even if it weren't a by-product of those things, what exactly was Charlie thinking? That our attitude towards homophobia might change — that we'd revise our opinion that it's sheer contemptible idiocy — if hate and fear were removed from the definition? And try as we might, we simply couldn't stop Charlie from spinning in circles on the definition and pin him down on one salient question: if he thinks the definition of homophobia is an inaccurate description of his attitude, then why add to the confusion by using the term to classify himself?

Homophobia's definition, I agree, is more complex than the strict dictionary definition ("irrational fear and antipathy towards homosexuals") may reveal. Regular commenter GeorgeFromNY pointed out on Facebook last night that the term has its origins in clinical psych, and originally referred to men whose aversion to the gay was so intense as to be pathological. Furthermore, it's often noted that what these homophobes fear is not gay men per se, but the possibility that they themselves might respond positively to a potential gay sexual advance, due to some latent unexplored homoerotic attraction they haven't (and cannot) come to terms with. In short, it was projection gone wild. Now, I'll admit that many homophobes may in fact not be closet cases, though the sheer number of anti-gay conservative politicians and clergymen who have eventually been caught in flagrante delicto with their young swains does tend to lend some legitimacy to the stereotype.

But really, I think what Charlie was trying to do was perform a semantic Mexican Hat Dance around the real matter at hand, which is, if you call us up and the first words out of your mouth are "I'm a homophobe," we are not going to respect you. It's no different than calling up and saying "I'm a misogynist!" or "I'm a racist!" It all translates to "I'm a bigoted douche!" And whether your bigotry is based on fear or disgust, it's all the same in the end, and equally beneath contempt. Trying to play some game with definitions in order to defend something indefensible is about as absurd as it gets.

"Oh, I see, you don't fear gays, you're simply disgusted by them. Well, that's okay then." Really, Charlie? Really?

So yeah, we handled Charlie poorly and could have shut him down sooner. But you learn a little something with every episode you do, and we always appreciate the feedback, pro and con, from viewers, because it helps us think about how to do better every time.


  1. It's so much easier to see where a conversation is going 'off' when you are sitting in your comfy chair and your not the one on air and in the conversation :)

    But as purely friendly feedback, once you say the same thing twice it's probably time to move on or recast the conversation in a new light. I do the same thing sometimes so meh, it happens.

    And just a thought, maybe invite 'Mark' to be on the show as a guest?

  2. Rather than a Poe, I'm more inclined towards the possibility that Mark from Austin Stone is actually a Deep cover liberal. Again, just a hunch

  3. If Mark-from-Stone-Church's IP address is in Canada, could he perhaps be Ed from Toronto from episode #680 (2010-10-24)? Ed comes on at about 14:20 in the #680 mp3 file, and he has the same cadence, tone, and pitch in his voice as Mark-from-Stone-Church. They sure sound like the same person to me.

    Someone else brought this up on the blog several months ago, and I was struck by the similarity then.

  4. Charlie seemed extremely defensive and agitated when Tracie defined homophobia as a fear of homosexual attraction. "Are you ready to debunked? Cuz Ima bout to debunk you!" He said that about 5 times, which looked to me like he was trying to prove something about himself to himself. But he should've expected an argument when he opened his call with such an incendiary line. "I'm an atheist homophobe. What do you think about that?" Where to begin...

  5. When you hang up on Charlie, I said "finally!" to my monitor.
    When next time the nose-picking atheist calls in and he wants to argue whether he is just scratching or digging for something to eat, please try to shorten the conversation.

  6. The "Charlie" call was *absolutely hilarious.* As you noted, maybe it could have been handled better - but nevertheless it was great entertainment. I was crying laughing by about the 4th or 5th "study shows."

  7. The homophobic "Charlie" was really poorly handled, given that his intentions were clear from the start. Giving people like that the spotlight is the worst thing you could do.

    I would also suggest inviting Mark to a dinner or something similar to get to know him - he's gotten a lot of airtime and seems to get fishier each time.

  8. Never mind the two moogs - the whole end of the world thing was really funny - I loved it. If Orson Welles wasn't dead - he'd be worried.

    And the best thing is - thanks to Harold "Asshat" Camping latest vision you get to do it all again in October (except it's not really that funny anymore)

  9. Tracie's pronunciation of Brisbane was funny. Over emphasizing the bane. Closest way I can think to spell how its pronounced is Bris-Bn.

  10. Charlie sounds a lot like the atheist rap artist homophobe Infidel Guy used to have on.

    In terms of rhetoric (and repititon) not tenor

  11. I'll preface this by saying that this was one of the first AE that I couldn't maintain enough interest to watch all the way through. It wasn't the hosts (I thought the rapture bit was quite funny). I guess I just was too fed up with stupid this week, and I just couldn't maintain interest in the calls. I ended up getting the MP3 and skipping around to try to find an interesting part of the show, and sort of gave up after a bit.

    Some comments:

    1) Matt's calls have always seemed to go... suspiciously well. Or something. He doesn't seem very invested in most of the stuff he asserts at the beginnings of calls. Either he's someone who dithers exceptionally easily, or he's calling in with a partial script and playing a character.

    2) I feel like any conversation about a single word that lasts more than 2 minutes is sort of suspect (unless it's in an actual conversation about language). If you disagree on what a word should mean... just put that word to the side for a moment and focus on substantive issues.

    The word homophobia is particularly unproductive to argue about. It initially referred to people who had a fear of contamination from associating with gay people. That started with the obvious fears ("Am I gay?" or "I'm not gay, but if I'm too nice to gay people will people assume I'm gay?"). Then it was extended to a fear of actual attack by gay people and of disease, or a fear of the gay social agenda. By the 90's, it mostly was used just to mean "anti-gay prejudice", as a synonym for "heterosexism".

    People who use the word "homophobia" in this way are using it correctly, just as "xenophobia" means "prejudice against foreigners", whether that prejudice is based primarily in fear or not. People who claim to be anti-gay but not "homophobic" are technically correct, but only with respect to the older meaning of the word.

    All of which is irrelevant to the actual problem of the prejudice itself. If someone doesn't like gay people, because, oh, no reason, they just think that gay people are icky, or for some untenable and irrational reasons, that's what the problem is. It doesn't really matter specifically why they feel that way or what they call themselves.

    This a common game that certain people play when they advocate discrimination. They make it entirely about how maligned I feel. But when I say that I have a problem with, say, Senator Lundberg here in Colorado, it's not because I really care about how he feels deep down inside. It's because he says false things about gay people and votes against our rights. Who cares about the details of why, if none of his explanations so far have remotely approached rationality?

  12. *I meant "how maligned they feel". I'm referring to people who take offense at being called anti-gay bigots, even while continuing to make statements that make it clear that the accusation is true. Or there's this weird appeal to the majority. "The American people are not bigots." Maybe so, and maybe not, but that doesn't mean that they aren't doing something quite wrong in denying that certain people should have civil rights. Luckily, we seem to have just achieved a majority in favor of marriage equality in the last year, which seemed to be the biggest last hurdle, so maybe the appeals to the majority from the other side will start to go away.

  13. I was curious as to how Charlie felt about the many Gay people he meets throughout his day without any idea whatsoever that they are Gay?
    My guess is he treats them as he would treat anyone else. However as soon as he does find out they are Gay he suddenly is disgusted by them? Surely this points to him having some hangup about the sex act rather than the people.
    I'm pretty sure such a disproportionate reaction to an insignificant scrap of information about someone else's sex life would qualify in one of the phobia categories.

  14. I think you both handled the calls very well. I would've cut Mark off a little sooner, though.

  15. i've not seen this episode yet (i'm hoping it's going to pop up on youtube anytime now).

    I've had a little trouble believing mark, there's something a little off but it is hard to say what. i think that he might just be some lonely guy that wants to take part, that might go some way to explain why he isn't a troll as such. is there a way to check? as i understand it the austin stone church keeps a tight grip on it's sheep, perhaps there exists a register? however if mark is legit an inquiry into if he's real could cause problems for him within the church.

    mark has the idea now and it's up to him to look for what's real. it might be time to just cut him loose and not take anymore of his calls. if he is a poe it saves your time and if he's legit then the next part of his journey into thinking should be sort after elsewhere.

    you guys have done your bit for mark, it's up to him now.

  16. Regarding Charlie, it a fair point that anyone coming on saying "I'm a non religious Homophobe and I can justify it" is being pointlessly confrontational.

    Still, as I was saying in the other thread, he was about to make an evolutionary argument for why feeling disgusted toward homosexuals was natural. This is a pretty common position, sad to say, and the thing about it is it gets evolution all wrong. (disgust might be a natural human reaction that helped us survive, but it's trivial to point out that most what disgusts us is entirely culturally determined. Being disgusted by something does not instantly make it an evolutionary imperative you are perfectly justified in having).

    It's not just this particular point either. Lots of people misunderstand evolution in similar ways, atheists and otherwise, to justify bigotry and irrationality of all kinds (as ever). I know this is The Atheist Experience not The Evolution Experience, but I still reckon it was worth debunking Charlie to his face/voice on the air for the sake of correcting such misunderstandings in general.
    It's even worth thinking about how indoctrination in false beliefs and attitudes that can feel fundamental to us isn't something that only happens in religion. (Ok it's technically not indoctrination in that case, but you know what I mean ;)

  17. I'm not condoning Charlie in any way, but I think I know what he was trying to say. He used the word "homophobe" in the beginning to get across that he was against homosexuality. (Poor choice of words on his part.) Then he tried to show that "homophobe" was the wrong word to use to describe his outlook. If he had said in the beginning, "I'm an atheist and I don't like homosexuality and/or homosexuals." then maybe he could have presented his "case" and you could have ripped THAT to pieces instead of his poor choice of words.

  18. @Muz

    Isn't that what Pharyngula is for?

  19. Heh. Yeah, ideally, I guess. But PZ doesn't have a call-in show as yet.

  20. Hello all, I enjoyed the show although the live feed had problems at the start.To my English ear Mark sounds very much like Napoleon Dynamite from that film.
    Its towel day here in the UK, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day
    Douglas Adams was an atheist i admired very much when i was at school. I remember looking forward to each of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books coming out. Its nice to think that this show is inspiring a new generation of atheists today in a similar way .

  21. My money is on Mark will turn out to be Edward Current http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P47OC439x88

  22. I think it's possible that Mark is a Poe, presenting a strangely abbreviated version of a deconversion through a series of not-apparently-funny calls over months. But I think it's almost equally likely that Mark is genuine, but was well onto the questioning/deconversion path before his first call. His early calls to the show may easily have been his way of trying out the arguments he's heard in church on a different audience, or about trying to get answers to arguments that he wasn't able to answer himself.

    I think I've finally reached my Mark saturation point, but I don't think I'm ready to call him a troll. I think most trolls would have given it up long before. There's nothing particularly remarkable or unbelievable about his story, nothing particularly hilarious or exaggerated, not even particularly rehearsed. So even if it is fake, it might as well be a real conversation, the effect on the viewers would be largely the same.

  23. Martin: Funny you mentioned a comparison to misogyny. When I read one viewer write in to say what Charlie "meant" to say (read, what Charlie SHOULD HAVE said, but didn't), I thought of this:

    It's like calling our show, saying you're a misogynist, then insisting YOU don't hate women, and anyone who uses "misogynist" to mean woman-hater is wrong.

    It was really THAT stupid.

    And the galling aspect of it was that what you call a hat-trick, I call "manipulative, contentious asshole." Charlie wasn't interested in direct communication. I actually have a gay friend who won't use the term homophobe, precisely because he argues it's not about fear but about hate, and he disagrees with me that hate is a byproduct of fear. That being said--THAT is how you address the issue. You say "It's wrong to us a term that carries _fear_ along with it, when what I feel isn't _fear_. So, don't call me a homophobe." You don't run around announcing your homo_PHOBIC_, but that's nothing to do with FEAR. That inexcusably asinine and can only be evidence that you're just an argumentative dick who isn't interested in exploring an issue, but just in yanking people around. And our show doesn't have enough time in one hour to deal with idiots who are incapable of expressing the simplest ideas directly. What I said above in one sentence, took Charlie a good 10 minutes--and he never even got around to it because he was so busy trying to dick us around in his semantic circle jerk.

  24. Oh, and just to add, I agree about Mark. I would be more surprised to find out he's actually at sincere theist, than a guy who found a way to be mischievously "famous" by taking advantage of an underground access show--ala "James Calls In"--a prankster who used to get his giggles calling in to pretend to be different people. He finally outgrew us, I guess, and moved on to bigger and better pranks...?

  25. First time commenter here, but I'd like to drop off my opinions on Mark as well. When he first started calling he seemed just like any other evangelical christian, but since those first 2 or 3 calls I have really had an off putting feeling about him.

    I'm not too sure if he is a poe, I'd agree with Martin that if this was it would only be successful in being somewhat boring. Honestly, and I hope I am not being rude, but I think Mark may be slow or socially and intellectually inept. He strikes me as a kind person who has been duped in religion, but there is seriously a lack of cognitive ability that most people possess. I would suggest talking to him through email rather than taking his calls more, as I can only see this getting out of hand.

    Again, I feel rude saying that, as Mark may be completely normal and I would have succeeded in being an asshole, but having talked to other people who act just like him, this is just my gut feeling.

    However I don't feel rude in pointing out that Charlie is mentally deficient, and while it could have been handled better, people like him are always good for a laugh, and later, a sigh.

  26. I think the reason i have such difficulty deciding if people like Mark are for real or Bogus! As Martin says in this post. Is because i honestly find it hard to believe that any of the religious actually believe it.I can not conceive how anyone who truly thinks about this stuff can come to the conclusion that a big magic thing in the sky does it all.And what is more they want to spend Eternity with it.I think its the word Eternity that they casually throw around. That really gets to me. I find it hard to imagine a thousand years.They say Stonehenge just up the road from me was completed about 5000 years ago.Look at the state of it! Look what time has done to those stones in just 5000 years.I try but i cant truly grasp what the 65.95 million years that separates us from the dinosaurs means. That scale of time is beyond what i can imagine.And all of that is nothing compared to eternity which i take to mean infinite time.How could anyone want to be anywhere or exist for eternity.

  27. I think you guys were too accomodating of mark. Regardless of what he now claims to belive, EVERY week he calls in with another semicoherent stream of consciousness rambling that eats up half the damn show. Honestly I think he's been given too much time already. If he is truly sincere then all he is looking for now is approval. Email can do that. let's not let him monopolize the conversation any further.

    Regarding the atheist homophobe thing, such people do exist. I'd be a mild example. There's a definite ick factor with gay dudes for me. HOWEVER, the benfit of a secular upbringing is that I can see this as my issue, rather than finding bible verse to support my personality defect. So I accept that my homophobia is a problem I have to overcome, rather than indication of something wrong with gays.

    a phobis is, after all, an IRRATIONAL fear.

  28. I completely agree; Ed from Toronto was almost surely Mark of the Austin Stone...

  29. @ James

    I too have had the thought that Mark might have some kind of learning disability or something like that. I didn't say anything before (I almost did once) because I didn't want to seem like a jerk. You did not seem like one in your post, by the way.

    I think his mind was poisoned by religion and he is slowly trying to get free from it, in a way. Unfortunately, I think he has other influences that are dragging him back into the fold. He's kind of stuck in the middle. This is all opinion and speculation of course.

  30. @ Ing: I have a feeling it could be the same guy, if only for having the same name, making the same points in the same obnoxious manner and generally not listening to what the hosts were saying.

    Interesting to note that Reggie had pretty much the same response as Martin and Tracie (namely apologising to the listeners for it having been such a waste of time).

  31. I think Thomas F. Bourque already covered most of what I wanted to say on the Charlie issue. But i'll just add to it, that I think most people are aware that colloquially the word homophobic is used to describe any dislike of gay people for whatever reason, not some specific phobia. I just don't think trachie splitting hairs over the etymology of the word was helpful and would have much rather seen him torn to shreds over his actual beliefs and reasons behind them rather than semantics. But as Dark Star points out, if your not in the chair, you really don't know.

    As for Mark, I think people are way to quick to jump to the poe conclusion here. Its almost like we're falling into a reverse scottsman fallacy or something. The fact is that there are a lot of people out there with allot of whacky beliefs. Harold Campings followers are proof of that. That being the case, I just don't really see the reason to question Marks religious leaning. The guy says he's a Christian, says he goes to an Austin church, and from what I’ve heard has fairly run of the mill christian beliefs. Its not like he's on air claiming he can bend spoons with his mind or walk through walls. So how about we hold off with the poes, the deep cover liberal and the mental illness speculations, until there is some kind of evidence. Until then, I don't see any reason to think mark isn't a Christian like the other 85% of the population.

  32. I'd like to see Mark as an in-studio guest, as Dark Star suggested.

  33. Even if Mark is a POE, he may very well be an object-lesson to the dyed-in-the-wool theists out there.
    Vis: you are being told to not listen to outside influences lest they reveal what utter bullshit that you have been peddled since conception!

  34. BTW, if my comment makes no sense, that's because my first one appears to have been caught by the spam filter.

  35. This is my impression of Mark. I think Mark (probably Marc) was raised a Christian, and clung to his church for community. I also think that Marc is gay and is having a lot of problems with being told gay is an abomination. He brings it up a lot, but he is definitely closeted--deeply--about it.

    First of all, I am no doctor or psychiatrist, but having been involved with several people with varying degrees of asperger's, I wonder if Marc may have this kind of social problem. He's definitely smart enough to think about these tough issues, but he may also be very easily manipulated or convinced by people only in real-time. He may be a bit of a Zelig, which is really a social problem--he's not "retarded."

    This is just me trying on his shoes. He may be lying about his group, or hell, they might have some kind of Skype or other chatroom going. His friends may be online only.

  36. Although Prateek has already hinted at it: here's my view of Mark.

    He is acting out the role of someone who can escape from a religiously fundamentalist point of view, for the benefit of Christians watching the show.

    I also never had any doubts about him until this show where he seemed to make suspiciously quick progress for someone who, not long ago, was threatening the hosts with hell simply for not believing. Remember: this is someone who said he found it "disgusting" that the show even existed - yet now he himself is questioning the basis people give for their reasons to believe, AND conducting investigations?

    I want to be wrong on this, and if Mark is genuine then I completely apologise and wish him luck in his progress. My problem is believing that he already grasps the nuanced difference betweent the reasons people give for originally believing, and the reasons they give for sustaining their belief. Perhaps I am underestimating him in this regard, but that seems like a big leap forward from what he was saying a few of weeks ago.

    I think there is a good chance he is a Poe, but he is not doing it for kicks, he is setting an example for other Christians to look at.

  37. That there are people who are grossed out by gay sex isn’t terribly surprising, just as it isn’t surprising that there are people who are grossed out by all sorts of things, including – to use one trivial example out of thousands – other people eating (and enjoying) spinach.

    The problem is that other instances of disgust aren’t connected to socio-political issues in the way that disgust of homosexuality is. If I say to a friend, “Oh yuck! How could you eat spinach?” it would be treated as an offhand, quirky comment. I wouldn’t be labeled a “spinachphobe” merely because I publicly expressed dislike of eating spinach. However, if I had instead said to my friend, “Oh yuck! How could you do it with another guy?” I would be labeled a homophobe regardless of whether or not I want to deprive homosexuals of civil rights.

  38. Is it just me? I have a feeling at least three different people have called the show as Mark-from-Stone-Church. This last Mark was fake as fake can be, in my opinion. Had a completely different voice and tone and repertoire from the previous Mark[s]. I found the call extremely annoying, because he was just deliberately wasting your and everybody else's time.

  39. I think all of the calls have been the same guy, plus other callers not identifying as Mark have sounded a lot like him.

    To be honest, and I'd be willing to bet that others are in aggreance, Mark is starting to put a drain on the show. It was a great storyline at first (poe or not) and provided some awesome sound bytes, but now it's run it's course and Mark should not be given priority over other callers. I find myself anxiously waiting for Mark's calls to end so we can proceed with the show. He's diluting a great product.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. I found the call extremely annoying, because he was just deliberately wasting your and everybody else's time.

    And thus we should have him on the show to waste an entire episode, or some people think.

  42. tracieh wrote:
    "It's like calling our show, saying you're a misogynist, then insisting YOU don't hate women, and anyone who uses "misogynist" to mean woman-hater is wrong."

    Not really, because "misogynist" actually means that someone hates women. The word "homophobe" is used to mean someone who hates (or is bigoted towards) gays. It's not used to mean someone who fears gays, although from the word's roots it sounds like that. You may argue that the hatred is often rooted in fear, and you may be right, but they are separate concepts.

    When I first heard the word "homophobia" back in the mid 80s, I thought it was a poor choice, and I still think it was the wrong choice of words, but its meaning has stuck as "hatred of gays" as opposed to what it sounds like it should mean.

    I normally wouldn't argue about word definitions, but this part of the show got stuck there. I was wanting you to get past the definitions with Charlie, and get him to actually try to defend his ideas. He is bigoted towards gays, and is not religious - but why? Take that apart, and not his poor choice of expressing himself.

    By the way this is Wednesday-morning quarterbacking on my part - Tracie is always my favorite host because of her ability to cut right to the heart of an issue.

  43. I think you should have gotten Mark off the phone sooner. He's stated he's single and that he's an adult, but hangs out with kids. He's not a youth pastor, so this seems extremely unlikely to me. If it's true, it's awfully creepy. So I've formulated two possibilities for what he's about. He either actually attends Austin Stone Church (in which case Matt Dillahunty would probably have met him when he attended on May 15, has Matt mentioned anything about it?) and he's just a creepy, lonely guy, or he's as you said a Poe. Either way, it was clear from the last call that he really has nothing to say anymore. When you asked him to get to the point it became abundantly clear he didn't have one. He was calling to seek your approval. Then again, there's a third option: he's a theist purposely calling to take up your show time with chatter in order to prevent you from talking to anyone else.

    The atheist homophobe screamed "troll" to me. He wasn't a local, so he obviously knows the show through the internet, and decided one day that he loved the sound of his own voice so much that he decided to harass you. It's too bad he wouldn't let you leave the semantics merry-go-round, because he kept saying the phrase that irks me more than almost anything in the world: "studies show."

    Prefacing a statement with "Studies show" has the same intellectual weight as "Bible says." When I was in college, "studies have shown" was a banned phrase on papers. Because 99 times out of 100, "studies have shown" is short-hand for "I'm too lazy to actually research this, but I'm sure it's right, so please take my word for it." It proves nothing.

  44. As regards the term "homophobia," I prefer to use the term "homoclastia" when I speak about it.

  45. Martin:

    -What I should have done — with 20/20 hindsight — was point out that as an African-American, Charlie ought to know a thing or two about how hurtful and damaging ignorance, hate and bigotry are, and that for him to hold such views was simply disgraceful. Click, you're done.-

    When I attempted to try this tactic to someone who was African American he simply became indignant that I would dare to compare the struggle of his people with homosexuality. As he put it "Being gay is a choice, race is not."

    I see every reason to view being homosexual as something you are simply born with, but I prefer not to argue based on whether it is a choice or not. As far as I'm concerned arguing based on choice versus genetic implies that there is something wrong with it, but being a condition you're born with makes it OK. Whether it is a choice or not is superfluous, what the hell business is it of mine or anybody else is the question.

    I asked him what if being a different race was simply a choice? What if whether you were Black, White, Asian, Native American etc., was simply a cosmetic procedure? Would that make it alright for us as a society to make laws which discriminated against people for this choice?

    To my surprise he said "Yes." and just walked away.

    P.S. I don't think that Mark is real either, this complete 180 of his was far too abrupt.

  46. A while back, I emailed the AE crew with a very simple way to determine if Mark likely lives in Austin or not. It's not foolproof, but it would quickly eliminate the vast majority of imposters. They do not seem to have done that experiment yet, which baffles me a little, especially considering that they still do not seem sure where he's from. I don't want to publish it here in case he's reading this.

  47. Great show Martin & Tracie!

    I agree, Stone Mark is full of it! I can hear him trying way too hard to put on that OVERLY moronic persona. That, and this joint project that he totally eluded properly describing.

    I await each broadcast like the cherry on top of my week!

  48. "you don't go from a devout believer to hardline, investigation-minded skeptic in the span of a couple of weeks"

    ...but if you do our work here is done.

    being a huge fan of the ACA, it's staff and it's purpose, I feel compelled to weigh in on the skepticism some of the hosts have towards marks apparent progress.

    I'm sure you need to be on constant guard against Poes. I'm sure you have plenty of experience with Poes. and I'm sure your hunch about Mark has some meat to it, I'm sure.

    however, I have watch this program, every episode (some multiple times) and I have been waiting patiently to see SOMETHING like the progress Mark appears to be making. SOME kind of "beginning to end, complete story" of one caller's conversion from theist to anything BUT theist.

    If he is a suspected Poe, then perhaps he should receive no further air time. However, if his calls are put through, I'd like to see any apparent progress to be taken at face value and appreciated by the hosts. If Mark is being REACHED by the ACA, and is reexamining his faith (in his own silly way), then I am excited to see the progress unfold.

    I once saw (on a t-shirt of all places) a definition of homophobia that I immediately accepted and clung to;

    "An insecurity with one's own sexuality"

    see, there isn't only gay, straight, and bisexual. it's more of a spectrum with every shade of grey that you could imagine. if you are on either of the extreme edges of this spectrum, you will likely be comfortable and confident in your sexuality.

    if, however, a man's sexuality tends to fall somewhere in the grey area (even if very close to the straight side) he might experience very uncomfortable emotions when confronted with homosexuality.
    it stirs up bisexual tendencies that he has been fighting with, suppressing, avoiding or what have you, for years. He probably would be more comfortable when no homosexuality is around him.

    so a homophobic person is not disgusted as "studies show" ...a homophobic person would simply rather not see more and more open homosexuality (progress) the way an arachnophobic person would rather not go into the basement.

  49. (phobia continued)

    it is a fear or else, as mentioned on the show, it would not be a phobia.

    the misconception is that it is a fear of homosexuality.
    it is actually a fear of the discomfort and insecurity caused by an encounter between the homophobic person and the homosexual.

    nearly the same but Not the same fear.

  50. @tondeb
    I agree with your take on how hard it is for the human brain to scale things properly when dealing with huge numbers or large amounts of time. I have accused creationists of not being able to wrap there head around the time we are dealing with. I mean, if things don't visibly evolve in my entire lifetime, what's a few million more years going to do?

  51. Whatever Mark of Stone Church may or may not be, he totally buzz-killed the post-rapture mockery.

  52. @Tonedeb...
    Eternity is not the topic of this post, but I must agree with you!

    When I was a theist child, I once drew a picture in sunday school of a few people laying down on the floor. when asked what the picture was I said "hell" and when asked where all the fire was i had no answer.

    but what I was expressing was the thought of dammed souls laying around on wooden floors of all of eternity. and as a child i thought this would be punishment enough.

    the very idea of eternity... ugh.
    I try to push my imagination as far as it will go, I try to imagine a far, far, far far far off future. or past for that matter. but like you said, it is difficult to grasp.

    And when believers throw around the concept of praising the lord for all of heaven (because that's what they do in heaven, praise god) i get so agitated.
    sometime around the (89 trillionth to the 100th power) hymn... wouldnt you turn to the guy next to you and say "i wonder whats going on in hell, this is getting kinda redundant"
    and after doubling, tripling, multiplying the amount of time you've already spent in the clouds praising god, you'd still be stuck at the starting line.

    it would go on and on and on, and i don't care which naked loved ones are there to keep me company, I don't care how blissful god's presence is, ...i can't see eternity as anything but absolutely horrifying.

    if the bible had said, "he who believith in me shall have life for an extra 3000 years" I'd probably still be a theist ;)

  53. heres a little story about eternal life for those of us left behind after the rapture...

    if a bird carrying a piece of silk were to draw the silk across the top of a mountain once every thousand years, the time it would take to wear the mountain down to nothing is the length of one kalpa (hindu concept).
    this would tak a very long time.

    now if the bird moved on to the next mountain in the range and started wearing it down, it's going to take another kalpa.

    now, there are tens of thousands of mountains on earth and many more under the ocean, but suppose that bird eventually wore each of them down to a nub. and all the while you were in heaven waiting for the bird to finish...

    and when the bird finishes god comes over to you and asks "how are you enjoying your first day?" to which you are shocked; "first day?" you ask.

    "first heaven day" god replies.

    now. try to grasp the second heaven-day and the third. the first heaven-week, the first heaven-year, ...heaven centuries...

    and after a few dozen trillion heaven-MILLENIUMS... it would be fair (don't you think) to say "I've always been here"

    but if you did, god would say "no, you just got here... can I take your jacket?"

  54. @Leo and @rrpostal,
    Thank you for your thoughts on Time and Eternity. I see now it is a bit off topic.This might be because the Rapture theme of the show got me thinking about where the Raptured, (Or not raptured as it turned out.) thought they were going too.
    I do think that the big ideas and questions at the core of the debate between Atheists and Theists are the most fascinating.
    Which is why i like the show and this blog.

  55. From his rantings, I think our so-called "atheist homophobe" was going to claim that disgust for homosexuality was a result of evolution, and since we atheist believe evolution we either had no business criticizing anti-gay attitudes or weq better start sharing in that "disgust" ourselves. It's this moronic understanding of asecular morality and evolution that really make me doubt Charlie's claim of atheism. You don't usually hear that sort of stupidity from anyone but a theist.

    As for Mark, I believe that you are being Poed or that our "youth minister" is a bit delusional (well, more delusional than the average religionist). Personally, I'm leaning toward the latter. His inability to form a reasonable, articulate sentence, (much less, an argument,) along with the descrepancies in his physical location and his alleged affiliation with Stone Church smacks of mental illness.

  56. before I get into my main points Just want to mention I had a problem with the audio only coming out of the Left earphone while listening to this weeks episode.

    On Charlie...I sometimes feel that it is wrong that the word we have culturally is homophobe and not something like sexual-ist. (I was going to type sexist but that already has a meaning.) It allows the biggoted people to play semantic games like we saw on the show with Charlie.

  57. Ugh! Forgive my typos, please. I love my iPad, but my thick, bratwurst-like fingers hate QWERTY keyboards. That, and proofreading doesn't appear to be my strongest talent.

  58. @Shaded Spriter: I've heard the term "heterosexist" used.

    Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what word we use. Very seldomly do bigots admit to their hatred. Take Charlie for instance, he doesn't "hate" gays. Oh no, he's just expressing his perfectly natural disgust toward homosexual acts.

    Now, that's not so bad, isn't it? ;)

  59. If "homophobe" refers to being disgusted with homosexuality, then the vast majority of us are homophobes. In fact, pretty much anyone who's heterosexual is now a homophobe.

    It becomes sort of pointless.

    I am not afraid of homosexuality. I am pro gay rights/marriage. I am secure in my sexuality, and find no offense if someone calls me a fag, or whatever. I am, however, heterosexual, and find homosexual sexual acts disgusting.

    So apparently, I'm a homophobe anyway.

  60. every rights movement in history has met an apposing force the likes of Charlie.

    some movements have better luck than others, the disabled sure did get what they fought for, woman still fight for equality, african amercans still struggle greatly...

    it takes generations. bigots like Charlie will eventually die. the trick is not to persuade Charlie to favor equality, the trick will be to persuade his children, and their children, and theirs.

    Keep marching, fly your pride flags, hold hands in public. prior generations have done all the dirty work; marching in the streets when it was a death wish to do so... all we have to do is hold down the fort, petition, vote, and shout!

    History will lump the likes of Charlie in with those who fought MLK. don't let him upset you.

  61. Holy shit. I hope madam lash is wrong about Mark actually being Edward Current. I hate that guy, but I can't deny the similarity.

    On the semantics of "homophobe" - Perhaps "heterosexist" is a more accurate word, though it too seems a bit off the mark.

  62. ---
    JT said...

    If "homophobe" refers to being disgusted with homosexuality, then the vast majority of us are homophobes. In fact, pretty much anyone who's heterosexual is now a homophobe.

    You're drawing a long bow with that one. Much like sexuality itself, I'd wager how a heterosexual feels about homosexuality covers a wide spectrum.

    Anyway, I had to watch the bit with Charlie again to check this, but our hosts' version of the conversation doesn't match what I saw very well at all unfortunately.
    However big a doofus he clearly was, it really doesn't look like it was him who was harping on the semantics. He might be saying homophobia isn't rooted in fear, but the fact of the terms literal origins and his inability to come up with another term for himself doesn't invalidate his argument in itself (although his argument would have been pretty easy to invalidate by the sounds of it).
    The impression is that the hosts won't let him continue his argument until he comes up with a better term and they keep bringing it back to that. Whatever else he might be, on this particular point Charlie is only guilty of being inarticulate.

    (Also, I hope Mark is in Canada because I reckon he's obsessed)

  63. Mark wrote: "Take Charlie for instance, he doesn't "hate" gays. Oh no, he's just expressing his perfectly natural disgust toward homosexual acts.

    Now, that's not so bad, isn't it? ;)”

    Actually, I think there is a valid distinction to be drawn between disgust of X and hatred of X.

    If, to use that same trivial example I used above, I find the act of eating spinach disgusting, it doesn’t mean that I “hate” spinach eaters or that I want to prevent spinach eaters from getting married or serving in the military.

    In an argument with these “I’m-not-a-homophobe” people, the tact I would take is this: “OK, you’re grossed out by gay sex. That’s OK. I’m grossed out by polkadot bowties. Now that we have our tastes out of the way, let’s talk about public policy: just as there is no earthly reason that people who like polkadot bowties should be prevented from getting married or serving in the military, so too is there no earthly reason that people who like gay sex should be prevented from getting married or serving in the military. Personal taste doesn’t enter into such questions.”

    In other words, there is no need to attempt to convince everyone to *like* the idea of gay sex. In fact, trying to convince them of that is likely to be ineffective and counterproductive. I would keep the focus, in all discussions, on public policy and the need to keep arbitrary personal taste out of public policy decisions.

  64. @ Los

    I don't think for a picosecond that Charlie would make such a distinction. If the conversation hadn't been derailed by quibbling over the definition of "homophobia," I'm pretty sure that he was going to use his allegedly evolution-justified "disgust" towards homosexuals as an excuse for his bigotry.

  65. Wow. My 'version' of Charlie's call is dishonest? Let's see...

    1. Charlie opened early on by saying he is homophobic.

    2. Phobic means (and I didn't write the dictionary) irrational fear that results in aversion.

    3. Charlie said he doesn't fear homosexuality.

    4. I told Charlie that he's incorrect then in applying the label "phobic" to himself.

    5. He claimed I was wrong.

    Charlie was full of stupidity and fail. And the moment he continued to insist that it's right to call a person "phobic" if aren't fearful, we should have gone to the next caller.

    And anyone who argues that phobic doesn't mean fear, but disgust, need only look up the word.

    I am disgusted by certain foods. I don't fear them. And if someone said I was phobic of them, I'd CORRECT THEM by explaining it is WRONG to call me phobic. What I would NOT do, is agree I'm phobic (when I'm clearly NOT), and then tell everyone else I AM phobic of this food, but I don't fear it--and insist that when they rightly attempt to correct my misuse of the word, that THEY are wrong. That again, is just stupid fail.

  66. Charlie should call back and say, "I don't like homosexuality, because XYZ..." Then the discussion might have some value.

  67. I never said the account was dishonest at all. Merely that it looked very different from the outside (to me anyway).
    Charlie might be a belligerent oaf on the matter of homosexuality but he's not playing a semantic game. As we've discussed, in casual language homophobia is the word people use to describe a fundamental dislike of homosexuals and anti=gay sentiments regardless of its origins. Prior to any inquiry at all, any display of anti homosexual feeling or language is labelled homophobic. No one knows if its rooted in fear, sexual insecurity, religious dogma or something else, it's just the blanket term people use.
    Charlie has caught on to the popular biological explanation (which is hogwash, of course). He says himself that literally speaking homophobia is a misnomer. He's asked the question, so why use it? To that he doesn't have an answer, but everyday usage provides one. He's not literally homophobic but he is, casually speaking, a homophobe.
    He flounders on this point for some time and, to my ear, tries to get past it and on to the rest of his argument repeatedly (and, it must be said, rudely) but isn't allowed to do so.

    This isn't playing semantic games, it's being inarticulate. He's not helping by keeping up his confrontational bravado, but he's confused by apparently being required to come up with a new term on the spot before his argument is allowed to continue.
    Our hosts in the thick of it clearly didn't see it this way at the time, but that's what I see.

  68. After hearing the various calls from Mark from the Austin Stone Church, I am beginning to suspect that he is really an atheist in disguise. He is playing the character of "a theist that realizes the importance of the truth behind religious claims and comes around to actually testing and investigating his beliefs" in the hopes that real religious people will follow suit.

    At least that is what he seems to me.

  69. @ Muz

    -I completely agree with you. In my experiences growing up, whenever I heard people use the term homophobic to describe themselves, it wasn't because they actually "feared" Homosexuals in the sense that they were scared of them, like being scared of the dark. For some reason, the term has culturally adopted the meaning "disgust of homosexuals" even though the "technical" definition of the word means fear(phobic) of gays(Homos). That's not to say that there are some people who really do fear gays, maybe because they themselves are closet homosexuals or what have you. But that doesn't mean that all people who use this term belong to that subgroup. It's just the term that happened to become culturally popular with "disgust of gays". So in fact, Charlie had a point, and in practical and historical terms, was correct. In technical terms he was wrong, but the term is so popular with the common meaning that it's used for that it's almost irrelevant. By the way, as JT said, I'm disgusted by homosexual acts too, just by nature of being a heterosexual. That doesn't however mean that I'm anti-gay. I'm completely for equal rights and anti-discrimination for the gay community, as well as allowing them to legally marry. I can also get along perfectly fine with them as they are HUMAN BEINGS.

  70. "What I do not think we had any obligation to do was grant Charlie his point that the term homophobia ought to refer to "disgust" towards gays rather than hate and fear."

    Even etymologically, that's not right. The Greek word element -φοβος means "-fearing."

    "Disgust towards gays" could be something like homoaedia (Greek ἀηδία, "disgust").

  71. A tad late into the discussion, but still. I'd like to thank Russell and the other moderator(whose name escapes me) for diligently handling the many asshats that infest the chat.

    Seriously, if you have to complain about everything a show you are watching has to offer, why the fuck are you watching it in the first place?

  72. One point on the possibly-overly-literal interpretation of "phobia" as meaning "afraid of." I think "homophobia" is a misleading term for "the anti-gay equivalent of racism," as it is generally used (heck, if only because it literally means 'an irrational fear of the same'), but that's the connotation it's gained culturally. That being said, there is some precedent for using "-phobia" in a non-literal sense; we refer to various sorts of molecules (in my experience, particularly the phospholipids that make up our cell membranes) as "hydrophilic" or "hydrophobic" based on their interactions with water. Obviously, molecules are incapable of love or fear, and it just has to do with whether or not the molecule will interact with water molecules. Moreover, in this instance (and some others), "-philic," meaning "loving," and "-phobic," meaning "fearing," are used as opposites, despite not actually being opposites in English usage.

    So there is some reason to use "homophobia" in such a way that is non-literal, and generally "-phobia" as meaning something other than "irrational fear."

    That being said, the whole conversation he was trying to start is stupid. The evolutionary argument for bigotry is a naturalistic fallacy, and even if it were based on solid science (I suspect the study he was thinking about citing was that asinine Evo-Psych one that got reamed on Pharyngula and elsewhere a few months back) it would be just as valid a justification for racism (we see chimps of one tribe acting violent and shunning chimps of other tribes, etc.).

    What people need to realize regarding homosexuality is multifold, and coming to this realization was a major part of my coming away from religion:

    1. Being disgusted by something does not make that thing wrong, nor does it give you the right to stop/prevent other people from doing it. I'm disgusted by macaroni and cheese--the smell, the sound of people eating it, the taste, etc.--but I don't get to pass laws preventing people from eating it if they like it.

    2. When two people are dating, most people don't immediately jump to thinking about all the squishy, messy, depraved things those people must do in bed--unless those people are gay. There is this underlying assumption among many straight folks (which I've heard voiced in various ways) that you can't be gay unless you've had some kind of gay sex, and that being gay is only about the sex. We don't make that assumption about straight people, because we assume "straight" is default, and that in order to be not-straight, you must already have explored your options. It's a silly assumption for a number of reasons, but once you understand that people are making it, it makes anti-gay propaganda from "teh gays are recruiting" to "gay parents will make their kids gay" to "gay people must have been abused" make a lot of sense.

    Being gay is just as much about kissing and hugging and holding hands and snuggling on the couch watching Doctor Who as being straight is. Sexuality is about who you're attracted to, and somehow anti-gay people tend to forget that whole part of straight relationships when homosexuality comes up.

    3. A related point: being gay is not all about butts. There's a great (and really hard-to-watch) video of one of those Ugandan preachers talking about how disgusting gays are because they "eat da poo-poo." For a lot of anti-gay bigots, their disgust toward gays is all about buttsex. That was definitely true for me in my homophobe days. Realizing that my problem was with anal, not gays, that straight people have more anal sex than gays, and that not liking butts didn't make me anti-gay, were major, major elements in my journey out of bigotry.

  73. I wonder what was the point charlie was intending to make.

    I first thought he was in to explain that if it's wrong taking on gay it would also be to take on theist. Bu then got lost in the argument that it's not fear but disgust and maybe that AE is in the same case towards theists or something like that.

    I'm sure this homophobic part was only the premise to a larger argument that I'm sure was even more stupid. I would have liked you to help him just go to the end of his reasoning.

  74. Tracie:

    Wow. My 'version' of Charlie's call is dishonest?

    Well, maybe I wouldn’t call it dishonest, but you are clearly unaware of the fact that you kept discussing the word and, by doing so, prevented discussion of his actual point (which was not about the word).

    1. Charlie opened early on by saying he is homophobic.

    If you had listened on, you would have realised that what he meant by this was something like, “I am homophobic according to the common, everyday understanding of the word, not the literal, etymological or dictionary definition.”

    2. Phobic means (and I didn't write the dictionary) irrational fear that results in aversion.

    Yes, but what the dictionary says was irrelevant to the discussion. You should have instead asked him what he meant by it — and then (if you find the word too unacceptable) suggested to just use a different word for it. Either way, you should have let him get on with making his point.

    5. He claimed I was wrong.

    No, he didn’t. This is the main misunderstanding. He actually agreed with you that the etymology of the word is in the Greek for “fear”. But he further elucidated that since the ancient Greek civilization, the word has changed its meaning and he wants to use the common everyday meaning, even if it could be seen as incorrect to an ancient Greek.

    To illustrate this, picture a beam in your head. What are you thinking of right now? The word beam has several meanings — you could be thinking of a wooden beam or a light beam, for example. But I bet that you didn’t think of a tree. Yet, that is exactly what the word meant — “tree” — before its meaning changed first to “gallows”, then to something like “elongated piece of wood” and finally to what it means today. Do you think it would be productive for you to pound on someone for (“incorrectly”) using the word “beam” to refer to a light ray when it clearly means tree?

    Charlie was full of stupidity and fail.

    Maybe — but I would have liked to make that judgment for myself. You didn’t let me because you didn’t let Charlie make his point.

  75. Yes, I would have to say this in one of the few times, if any, that I have come to a disagreement with the AE hosts, not that they were technically wrong, but they weren't right either in the way they tried to dictate the flow of the conversation. Charlie had a point in regards to the common everyday usage of the word, and in my opinion was correct. We never got past that though because Tracy and Martin weren't able to understand this simple point.

  76. Timwi: If you had listened on, you would have realised that what he meant by this was something like, “I am homophobic according to the common, everyday understanding of the word, not the literal, etymological or dictionary definition.”

    And again I say, Who gives a damn? Whether he's a bigot out of fear or disgust, he's still a bigot. I see no reason why we should be obligated to give bigotry a respectful hearing just because the bigot in question thinks disgust is a better justification for it than fear (perhaps because he worries the latter reflects poorly on his "manliness").

    Call us up and announce yourself as a homophobe in your opening statement, and you should not expect any more respectful treatment from us than if you announced yourself a racist or misogynist or any other kind of bigot. Fear or disgust doesn't matter.

    Yes, but what the dictionary says was irrelevant to the discussion. You should have instead asked him what he meant by it — and then (if you find the word too unacceptable) suggested to just use a different word for it.

    You know, we don't let theists play this game of "words get to mean what I want them to mean when their real definitions are inconvenient," so I see no reason why we should be so generous with a self-described "atheist homophobe." In any event, we were asking him why he wasn't using a different word than "homophobe" to refer to himself, and he kept steadfastly dodging the question. Whether this was due to being inarticulate, stupid or dishonest, I can't say, but I can say you're giving Charlie more credit for having a salient point to make than he deserves. If he had one, it was his job to make it in a coherent fashion. If he can't do that and we call him out on it, suddenly we're the bad guys? Yeah, bullshit, dude.

  77. "You know, we don't let theists play this game of "words get to mean what I want them to mean when their real definitions are inconvenient," so I see no reason why we should be so generous with a self-described "atheist homophobe." In any event, we were asking him why he wasn't using a different word than "homophobe" to refer to himself, and he kept steadfastly dodging the question."

    -And in this unique circumstance I disagree, it doesn't have anything to do with atheism/theism, so this is irrelevant. The point is that the word "homophobe" has taken on the cultural meaning of "disgust or strong disapproval" of homosexuality, regardless of the "technical definition". I believe this was the point that Charlie was trying to say. So he really wasn't "dodging the question", because frankly he didn't have to, it can be pretty difficult to articulate your point when you are going up against two people who dislike you, and when this happens, it can seem like he is dodging the question. No one, however, is trying to defend Charlie's bigotry here, just saying that his point on the popular meaning of the word is essentially correct. So there is no need to get extremely defensive and accuse us of giving Charlie more credit than he deserves.....because we aren't. We simply agree with him on that ONE point. Hardly giving him too much credit, because in my opinion Charlie is an ignorant anti-gay bigot.

    "If he can't do that and we call him out on it, suddenly we're the bad guys? Yeah, bullshit, dude."

    -No one is saying that this is a bad guy/good guy situation. We are merely defending Charlies point on the popular meaning of the word, not his views towards gays.

  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

  79. Anti-semite, etymologically speaking, means "against semites" which would include Arabs. However, most people use it to mean "anti-Jew". I don't think going into the etymological definition of the term would be appropriate if a caller said he/she was an anti-semite who supported the Palestinians.

    Edit: This might not be the best example since "anti-semite" seems to never have meant anything other than anti-Jew. I don't know if "homophobe" was originally intended to mean "fear of homosexuality/homosexuals".

  80. Martin-
    In those cases where the religious try to make words mean whatever they want there usually some effort to unpack that. Where the proper and the common definitions disagree clarification is needed to make sure people are talking about the same thing. Sure, in this instance the combativeness on display isn't likely to foster that sort of thing. But in principle using the term 'evolution', say, wrongly isn't an argument for it or against it. And neither is pointing out that incorrect usage an argument, in itself, against a particular position. The assumptions in the faulty definition can illuminate the error. But here Charlie says right off the bat the term is a misnomer. It has no bearing on his position either way. Charlie could easily say, to the question of why he calls himself a homophobe if it is inaccurate, "I don't know" and his position is exactly as clear and stable as it was by not managing to say anything.

    The difficulty with this conversation, here and now, is things went the way they went based on whatever conditions and perspectives there were at the time. I wasn't there. I'm not trying to "fix" it, per se. I'm just saying it didn't look to me like Charlie was solely to blame for his call turning entirely on, and never getting off of, the semantics and incorrect common usage of "homophobia".
    Even if it was, I don't think it's a particularly enlightening point to pull someone up on.

    Also, and it goes without saying that it's not my show, but I do think bigotry of all kinds can and should be addressed intellectually as often as possible. In fact I think it's vital that it is. And I think this show is great place to do just that, even if it is gauche to the point of trolling for someone to lead with it in a conversation like he did. There's plenty of faux rationalist and secular bases/excuses for terrible ideas and people apt to say "The libruls just don't wanna face reality" when they are dismissed out of hand. The occasional reminder that it's not dismissal, they just happen to be wrong and here's why..., is a very good thing indeed.

    I saw a chance for Charlie's point of view on the matter to be clearly shown to be wrong, to him and everyone else who feels the same, not just semantically confused. So I'm a little frustrated it didn't happen (even if the take on the events differs somewhat). That's all it is.

  81. Yes, reading these comments now it does sound like Mark may not be legit after all. But his game may be quite the other way round - pretend to be converted, and then make a story about how god made him come back to christianity.

    Further investigation is absolutely required. It would also be a demonstration of how investigation can reveal the truth about somebody, as opposed to taking them on their word. I hope the hosts find time to dig deeper.

  82. What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;

  83. "First off, even if this were true, what difference would it make? Sure, homophobia can (and does) include "disgust," but it's the most asinine hair-splitting to try to claim that this emotion is somehow independent or entirely unrelated to fear or hate"

    Disgust can be completely unrelated to fear or hate. for example I am disgusted by mould that grows in my shower. Do I hate or fear the mould? Not at all. To draw a division between the emotions is fair enough. One cannot accuse someone of being a gay hater if they do not in fact hate gays but are instead disgusted by them. That is dishonest.

    "if he thinks the definition of homophobia is an inaccurate description of his attitude, then why add to the confusion by using the term to classify himself?"

    His point was the definition of homophobia DOES fit him and that you were incorrect about what it means. You admitted it can mean disgust and not hate and then later you retract this. Makes no sense to me.

  84. Tracie

    "It's like calling our show, saying you're a misogynist, then insisting YOU don't hate women, and anyone who uses "misogynist" to mean woman-hater is wrong."

    Actually I think the opposite. People use the term "misogyny" to encompass more than just hatred of women. It is generally used to indicate a bigotry towards women, it is used instead of the term sexism really. Nothing about sexism or bigotry demands hatred be involved.

    This is what happens when people pay more attention to what dictionaries say then how people use words.

    It is fine to say homophobia doesn't necessarily mean hatred of gays and that misogyny doesn't necessarily mean hatred of women.

    Think about it.

  85. Think about it.

    Because, clearly, if we disagree, it's because we haven't.

    It's the same problem every time the word "faith" or "theory" enters a conversation. Instantly, anyone involved has no idea what, precisely, the other persons using the word are trying to say, because there's a million and one definitions.

    Language only works if the words uniquely have meaning. We can get away with having more definitions if the contexts-to-definition relationships are well understood.

    If I say "ram" in the context of farm animals, it's clear what I mean, as much as if I say "ram" in the context of computers.

    Without clear contexts for different definitions, the best we can do is adhere to the original meaning, lest we wish to marklar the marklar marklar. Marklar marklar a very marklarish marklar.

  86. My point, since I wasn't explicit, was that when this person says he's a homophobe, and we don't have contexts to distinguish between different "valid" definitions, there's no way to know what he means without additional paragraphs of supporting information.

    The word's utility decreases, in terms of communication value.

  87. "Because, clearly, if we disagree, it's because we haven't."

    I know I am right, so yeah obviously it is the case that you are incorrect. logical thought is wonderful :)

    "It's the same problem every time the word "faith" or "theory" enters a conversation."

    No sorry it isn't, you are confused. This is an issue because terming belief in god as faith is different to the faith I have for my toaster to cook my bread. The issue here is the theist and the atheist are talking about TWO different things wherein the theist is trying to conflate two seperate things. The problem here is not that people are using the word to mean different things in different contexts(which is fine) but that they are using one word to mean two things simultaneously, ie. they are completely ignoring context. In the case of the discussion about homophobe this is not the case.

    To clarify I will take your example of "theory". The problem comes up because they are not understanding the word can be used in different contexts. It is perfectly acceptable to use theory to mean an "idea" in every day language. However when scientists say "theory" this is not their definition of the word. In these examples you can see "theory" as two words. Call the former theory1 and the latter theory2 for clarity. The theist thinks theory1 and theory2 are the same thing. THAT is the issue. Like you said, context is what allows for words to have meaning :)

    "Language only works if the words uniquely have meaning."

    Lol, I can't imagine a more ambiguous thing than language or a more absurd claim. Oh wait then you say this...

    "Without clear contexts for different definitions, the best we can do is adhere to the original meaning"

    I call rubbish on this as well. In a lot of cases the original meanings of words are not in use at all anymore. So this is just ridiculous. Furthermore if one goes with how a word is defined in mainstream society then it stands to reason that it is more likely that people will know what you are talking about. Finally If he wants to call himself a homophobe and then clarify exactly what he means by that then who cares?

    "The word's utility decreases, in terms of communication value."

    The utility of the word was not the subject of debate though, how the word is used/defined was the issue. I could make the same claim about atheism. People automatically assume this means god hater or satan worshipper. The utility of the word is decreased and yet you use it.

  88. For those wondering about who "Charlie" might be (poe or not, crazy or not, atheist or not, etc), I thought I would mention that he sounded (both in voice and in his level of stupid lunacy) like a local Los Angeles "atheist" rapper known as Charlie Check'm (google his music, if you like bad rap) -- who is, in fact, an atheist homophobe, who started ranting publicly a couple years back. Debbie Goddard over at Center for Inquiry addressed his attitude back then here and the comments on this blog post were quickly overtaken by Charlie and his insatiable ego. He is a complete loon and, much to everyone's chagrin, also an atheist.

  89. "This is an issue because terming belief in god as faith is different to the faith I have for my toaster to cook my bread."

    -I don't know if I agree with this. If you are changing that meaning of the word I guess it fine. But knowing that the toaster has run perfectly fine all times prior to this moment, I wouldn't need faith for my toaster to cook bread. I can have reasonable expectations based on past experience, I can confidently trust my toaster to work. But I wouldn't ever need faith. If that's what it comes down to, then that toaster must be the worst toaster in the world, and NEVER works. lol

  90. "Without clear contexts for different definitions, the best we can do is adhere to the original meaning"

    where I come from faith is used interchangably with belief quite often. It is not necessarily used in every day language to mean what it originally did. This makes it correct to use in this way. I have no problem with it.

    The problem comes when religious people equate faith1 (belief) with faith2 (irrational belief). This is because you are not discussing the same things not because they are not using the word correctly.

    The same word often has a lot of different meanings. That is language for you.

  91. ""This is an issue because terming belief in god as faith is different to the faith I have for my toaster to cook my bread."

    Sorry this is the quote I wanted to use for the above post.

    Also mamba24 I would encourage you to read my previous posts more thoroughly as you have not understood what I was stating or point me to where I am not clear. Hopefully though my previous post will provide clarity.

  92. Weighing in on Mark, I've been suspicious of him for a while and the last call really solidified my opinion. I agree with some previous posters that he is likely an atheist playing out the part of a deconversion. Notice how he continually sets up the hosts with softball questions? He also seems to know a lot about them, asking questions tailored to their particular background.

    In the last call, he made several statements that sounded like they were coming from an atheist--even directly referring to religion as "false". Really? A few weeks ago he comes to the new idea that he shouldn't just take what the Bible says literally, and now he's progressed to a decision that religion is false and is presenting classic atheist arguments? Not a chance.

  93. Study shows *repeat asinine specious claim here*!

  94. I was one of the people writing in that mark was dismissed too quickly.

    I've watched maybe 5+ years of TAE and I have to say following an on going story behind one individual such as Mark is proving to be one of the more interesting topics.

    You are right, it could be an epic troll yet to have revealed himself, that seems unlikely. Or it could be a just an atheist having fun for whatever reason, it wouldn't be the first time I've seen this, although not to this degree of dedication.

    Still I would like to follow the "Mark Story" as it unfolds, see what he has to say for himself, I think at this point I'm less concerned with him being a troll, it's interesting regardless.

  95. I KNEW Mark was Canadian. Makes PERFECT sense that his IP address originates from Canada. I (sadly) thought he was a poe the moment I heard him say the word "about". Canadian all the way.


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