I learned today that I do not like being discriminated against.
After hearing some good words about Blogrush, a relatively new traffic-generating widget, I signed myself up in an attempt to generate traffic*. It worked remarkably well, to an extent**. I did get a few new readers (which brought my total readership up to 'a few'), a couple of whom left positive commentary on my work; I was indeed performing up to Blogrush's standards by actively contributing materials deemed valuable to the service's readership.
This morning, however, I received an email from the Blogrush staff indicating that my blog has been removed from rotation. The full text of the email appears here, but the critical elements are replicated below:
We regret to inform you that your BlogRush Account has been made INACTIVE because your blog did not pass our Quality Review criteria. You will find instructions below for making your account active again.
We determined that your blog did not meet our strict quality guidelines. Please do not take this personally but realize that we must abide by a very strict set of quality guidelines. (They are listed below.)
The primary reason(s) your blog(s) did not meet our guidelines: Inappropriate Content Or Advertising: Hate Speech or Anti-Racial (emphasis mine)
Hate Speech or Anti-Racial*** content...
I guarantee you will not find one racist idea in all of the 127 posts that appear on this blog, for the same reason you wouldn't expect someone blind since birth to speak of a mental image; thoughts of that nature simply don't occur to me. So it must be hate speech they found.
Have I perpetrated an act of hate speech on any of these pages? I certainly don't think I have, but maybe 'hate speech' has swelled into such a broadly-defined word that 'criticism' falls within its blanket definition.
I have no illusions about this blog's critical views on organized religion, but I don't believe there is anything truly hateful spoken about any person or group of people, with the exception of Ann Coulter****, of course. To be clear, I passionately detest organized religion due its direct cause of so many personal and societal ills. I do indeed hate all the bad things religion causes, and I hate their cause equally. It is not wrong for people to have hated Hitler and Nazism; he caused tremendous undue human suffering. We should hate things that actively harm people.
Most importantly, though, is that when I speak out against religion I am not perpetrating hate speech. True hate speech is directed toward a person or group of people, not toward an institution. If you scour the pages of Prose Justice, the worst you will find... the thoughts that are as close to hateful as can be found here, will all be directed toward institutions, not toward people. It is not hate speech; it is just editorial opinion and information.
Just for fun, I myself looked for instances of hate speech. Using the search bar at the top of Prose Justice, keyword 'hate', Here's what I found:
"I love the English language for being so flexible and organic, but I hate when those attributes are exploited to supplement the argument being presented." - BLASPHEMY - EXACTITUDE
"Phones are as natural to gens X and Y as are toilets, and toilets are as natural as butts in this part of the world. We understand phones already. We understand their associated technologies as easily. Even the complicated ones like automated customer service. We hate that one, but we certainly understand it." - IDIOSYNCRATIC
"My roommate Tom's mugging - Tom was attacked by a handful of kids as he was riding home on a bicycle. They ran off the porch and chased him down, attacking him and taking the ten dollars he had on his person. I hate Brooks Ave...
...the massive standoff in my neighborhood, complete with lunatics holed up in a house with shotguns, and thirty-odd cops on the scene throwing around terms like 'kill zone'. I hate Brooks Ave." - PERTURBATION
"You may like foreign cars. You may like small cars. You may hate either, as a matter of fact, but with complete disregard to the preceding, you will love this commercial for this small foreign car. The Citroen C4. That is all...
...It's kinda like a gentlemen's club, really: Those who know about it love it, and everyone else hates them for being involved with it." - JOCOSE
"I HATE seeing great musicians wasting their talent playing other peoples' music." - INTERREGNUM
"I HATE the word 'holla' but will knowingly and willingly use it in jest to promote the disrespect of the word. I suggest you all do the same." - ORATORY 1
Any hate speech in there? Didn't think so.
But to be fair, let's try to look for instances where I actually have a chance to slip into hate speech. First we're going to use the term 'Christian', then we're going to use my frequent catch-all phrase, 'the religious'. If I'm going to say anything hateful about a person or group, those words will be there. So here we go:
"An example of this phenomenon is that Muslims are less likely than Christians to be killed in automobile accidents. When worded this way, it implies that Islam makes one a better driver than does Christianity. But it's much more likely that since Muslims generally don't drink, Muslims drive drunk far less frequently than Christians do, resulting in fewer enough drunk-driving fatalities to skew the results" - BLASPHEMY - ESPIALI left out instances in which the search term yielded hits for phrases like 'Christian organization' or 'the religious organization', again because regardless of what I say afterward, it is not true hate speech. If you want to look for them yourself, you'll see that what I say falls far short of hateful anyway.
"This one goes out to all the good Christian people out there who mistakenly believe atheism is nihilism...
...I know that you're expecting to be tricked, but honestly pretending that you weren't... would you have been compelled to say 'Christian'? Well, the fact is, I left one item off the bottom of that list. If that last item was "Believing that the character of Jesus Christ was the son of God and died for our sins," then and only then would you be correct in describing him as Christian." - BLASPHEMY - ALTERITY
"And in case there was any misunderstanding about the context of Mark 3:29, let me unambiguously state that the acts performed by Christians to spread Christianity represents the absolute worst of human nature. If any of our human behaviors deserve to be called demonic, it's the fear-mongering critical to successful religious indoctrination.
" - BLASPHEMY - COVENANT
"The 'Family Values' ticket, which you can find on your garden variety voters' ballot, really means 'Undercover Christian'." - EPHEMERAL
"Any sufficiently radical scientific study engenders passionate outcries from the religious: 'We must stop playing God before it's too late!' 'Playing God' to them is inherently bad; my guess is because of its violation of some deadly sin or another. Pride, vanity, hubris. Whatever it is... we can't puff ourselves up and presume to know what we're doing. We can't take God's place. We're violating natural order...
...It wasn't until our technology began yielding godlike capabilities that the religious got squeamish about it all." - BLASPHEMY - DESIDERATUM
"Blind faith removes the verification process something has to endure before you can have faith in it. This is the kind of faith the religious have; the problem is that they mistakenly believe that their faith is the unblind kind." - BLASPHEMY - EXACTITUDE
"We've been labeled that way by the religious for so long that we've gotten used to it. It's probably our own fault that we haven't done so much to correct the misinterpretations of what it means to be atheist." - BLASPHEMY - ATTESTATION
"Interestingly, the fact that the universe exists is a source of unspeakable awe and 'reverence' to me. It drives me to never stop learning. This is the kind of awe the religious could only dream of experiencing." - BLASPHEMY - REJOINDER
"The religious and the agnostics draw a circle, within which is the natural and explainable, outside of which lies the supernatural. The religious populate this external region with God...
...Because if it was worth it to you to ask about the universe's complexity, wouldn't it be more worth it to ask about God's greater complexity? That's only a rhetorical question because the religious would never dare to ask that...
...The pyramids were, with the obvious exception of their geometry, pointless. How many hours, how much raw material, how many lives were consumed in the building of these religious monuments? They serve well as a poignant example of the resource-sapping by the religious that occurs even today, though to a thankfully less drastic extent." - BLASPHEMY - SATIETY
"When the religious organizations lobby for teaching of intelligent design in schools, they often accompany this with a statement encouraging students to be cautionary in their thoughts toward evolution...
...If the proponents of ID want to be skeptical about evolution because it is just a 'theory', they should be raising as much opposition to relativity as well. But the religious community has no quarrel with relativity, because they do not believe support of relativity is equal to a renunciation of God." - BLASPHEMY - MODICUM
Looking through all that, there is only one passage that comes close to denigrating Christian people, and even then I explicitly aim my attack at the specific practice of fear-mongering for the purpose of indoctrination. Everything else there is statement of fact or constructive critiquing. Nowhere else will you see even a hint of bile or spite or flat-out insult*****.
After spending only a short while following links via the blogrush widget, I came across several websites with far more caustic language and direct attacks on groups and individuals, from atheistic blogs, from religious blogs, and from blogs that have no theological slant whatsoever.
So I guess this post is both a cry for help from my fellow atheist bloggers, and also a caution to my fellow atheist bloggers who use Blogrush. Their website indicates that they manually inspect every blog that signs up... I'd really like to know if this has happened to anybody else.
I realize this is a very modest instance of discrimination; nothing has happened to me, only to one avenue of distribution of my digital presence. But it's validation just the same that a blog about positive atheism and about religious criticism is viewed as hate speech, at least in the eyes of the constituents of Blogrush. Thank you, Blogrush, for proving to me that we atheists still have work to do.
* - and to win the lottery; well, one out of two ain't bad...
** - See footnote #1.
*** - which I think, etymologically speaking, means 'against differentiation by race'... so maybe all those people using the term 'anti-racial' should use a correct and unambiguous word like 'racist' instead. Because I'd like to be able to use the term 'anti-racial' for what it really means without having to stop and explain myself like I did here.
**** - about whom I didn't even speak hatefully... only critically, and I did so within the framework of stand-up comedy (which is ALL ABOUT exaggeration), which wasn't even that funny. OK, fine, you want to drag it out of me? I HATE ANN COULTER BECAUSE SHE IS A HATEWORTHY PERSON, WHO LIVES QUITE WELL OFF PROFITS THAT COME DIRECTLY FROM THE PROPAGATION OF HATE SPEECH. YOU LISTENING, BLOGRUSH? READ ONE OF ANN COULTER'S BOOKS, TAKE NOTES, AND THEN COME BACK TO ME AND TELL ME THAT MY BLOG CONTAINS HATE SPEECH. I fucking dare you.
***** - See footnote #4