False Balance, or Why We Make Fun of the #FTBullies Hashtag

Ophelia Benson linked this article from the New Statesman about Anita Sarkeesian today (TRIGGER WARNING: rape, violence, abuse, and overall toxic misogyny described therein). Here’s what caught my eye the most:

Hate sites

These take a couple of forms: either the creation of specific sites dedicated to trashing you (and again, to come up in Google searches of your name) or posting your details on established forums where haters like to hang out. In Sarkeesian’s case, that has involved posting her phone number and address. It’s hard to see that as anything other than an attempt to intimidate her: “We know where you live”.

But, according to people like Paula Kirby the real bullies are the people who won’t stand for this shit and ban the people who readily engage in it, a sentiment shared by commenter iamcuriousblue who seems to think that it’s not bullying to poison the well in my comments while not making any sort of response to the substance of my argument. Indeed, the general sentiment from Kirby, IACB, and other pitizens is that what they do is okay when they do it but when anyone else does something that maybe possibly somehow could be construed in that way it’s this Massive Evil Wrong Thing. Even if it’s as small as…oh, say, not putting up with people who will do everything in their power to not admit being wrong even when it’s blatantly obvious.

Or, for those of us who pay attention to US politics, IOKIYAR — it’s okay if you’re a Republican (I can’t find a link to that segment on MSNBC’s official site right now and don’t really have the time to scour, if anyone else could that would be great). Which I seriously think should be changed to “it’s okay if you’re a regressive”, because anti-feminism isn’t necessarily partisan.

PS: Anyone who posts something critical without any direct quotes from the links provided can have fun in moderation hell. I will NOT tolerate blind dismissal on this thread. I do not maintain a policy of free speech on this blog; I prefer instead to use the legally accurate term protected speech because this makes it clear that not all speech is acceptable. Dishonesty is not protected speech. You do not have the right to stifle discussion in my comments by repeatedly being wrong and insisting that every minute facet of your wrongness be dealt with as is satisfactory to you to move on. You also do not have the right to make demands about this space, because this is my blog and thus my space; it is egotistical and rude for you to assert any right to it, and dishonest for you to assert that regulating this space somehow undermines my arguments. There are plenty of very large, very public forums where dishonesty is not against the rules. Go there, because dishonesty is very much against the rules here.

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Stalkers vs. Stasi

So, I finally have a working computer of my own after six months without one, and I get it at the same time that the skeptical-atheist blogosphere is having another of these scuffles over feminism where a couple of women raise some complaints only to have a wall of (mostly) men stand up and scream about the Feminazi Galiban is trying to stop them having a little fun. I won’t waste time summarizing it for those who don’t know what went on; Jason Thibeault has done a wonderful job of it already.

What I would like to talk about (if WordPress will stop trying to embed that link in the rest of it) is this post by Justin Griffith. See, Greg Laden recently announced that he would be going on vacation from FTB, which suddenly today turned into him (along with Thunderf00t for his massive privilege fails) being kicked out. The first part of Justin’s post explains why. It does so very well, in fact.

Unfortunately, beyond the part explaining what Greg did wrong — and even in some of the explaining — Justin is pretty full of shit.

The post opens with an e-mail sent to Justin by Greg, with some pretty obvious threats (if you haven’t read the post by now, go read it, final warning). These are wrong. They are most certainly reason for Greg to be kicked off.

Unfortunately, Justin then sticks his foot in it.

Greg also recently admitted to taking his slime fighting to directly attempt to interfere with Abbie Smith’s education and career. This tactic has been used on Hemant Mehta, PZ Myers, and even me by Christian extremists. I understand the urge to stop something you see as evil at all costs, but our movement does not need to stoop to that level. Are we going to attempt to deprive humanity of a scientist? Notice, I’m not trying to find Laden’s employers to tell them about his behavior. His exposure here is for the betterment of the movement as a whole, not a personal vendetta. Even if it is possible that his employers may see this (I hope they don’t), the secular movement deserves the truth.

Seriously, Justin? You’re comparing pissed off religious assholes who revel in their privileged ability to tell any atheist “shut up” to someone who maintains a thread full of cyberstalkers (one of whom has decided to take up residence here) who routinely post statements that border on threats and libel.

Greg isn’t calling up Abbie’s university to tell them “your student is a misogynist and I don’t like that and don’t think you should have them there”. He’s telling them “your student is enabling and possibly engaging in illegal or potentially illegal activities”, and not in the sense of smoking pot behind the lab either. There is a fucking massive difference here. Greg’s threats are not justified, but neither is your false equivalence.

Justin then goes into a description of how he views the slimepit. It looks good for a while, but then he sticks his foot in it again:

You’ve been trolling them long enough to make them sharpen their eyes and their claws towards gendered slurs. I understand that you think they’rethe bullies, but making somebody cry, or extremely uncomfortable is not a respectable tactic. It’s chaos that generates more people against you than for you. Stop now.

THEY HAVE BEEN AT THIS FOR A YEAR. THEY RAN TO THE DAMN SLIMEPIT BACK WHEN ELEVATORGATE STARTED. THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO KEEP GIVING REBECCA WATSON SHIT.

What they were ‘trolled’ with was nothing more than “you are wrong, here is why” when they came to Pharyngula, Greta’s, Ophelia’s, or anywhere else they complain about to spew their toxic misogynist shit. They kept spewing, and they got increasingly annoyed — and angry — responses to their shit until they finally got banned. And even then, they kept at it, and when not coming in new disguises they would keep at it in ERV’s many, many ‘Monument’ threads that became termed the ‘Slimepit’ itself.

You said it yourself, Justin: they are obsessed. This is not our fucking problem. We’re the targets of this obsession. Victim blaming is not fucking cool.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured. (King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail)

That’s you, Justin. You and everyone like you who is calling on ‘both sides’ to stop fighting. You’re the white moderate. You are a part of the group that is the most dangerous in the struggle for social justice: the ones who are calling for “decency”, for “compromise”, for “bipartisanship”, and for those who are complaining about injustice to be decent, and in being decent be silent and listen to the complaints of the unjust because conflict looks bad.

I think that those who say decency involves remaining silent are more interested in good appearances than good things. Conflict is messy, yet like many other messy things such as entropy and gravity it’s a fact of life. We can’t get rid of it, we can only either deal with it ourselves or make it Somebody Else’s Problem. That’s what this is about: Rebecca, Greta, Ophelia, Ashley Miller, Amanda Marcotte, and all the other feminist skeptics and their allies seeing that women are encountering disproportionate maltreatment and harassment and saying “we have a problem, let’s deal with it”, against all the “moderates” who think it should (for some magical reason) just be Somebody Else’s Problem, and worse yet the slimepitters who think that it isn’t a problem and anyone who thinks it is is a totalitarian.

It both amazes and saddens me that from their “detached”, “independent” viewpoint all the white moderates can’t fucking see this.

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Non-atheists revisited. (In Memory of Christopher Hitchens)

The death of Christopher Hitchens yesterday brought out such wonderful examples of the religious sentiments of love, peace, fairness and justice.

On Twitter, the hashtag #GodIsNotGreat started trending. Many, many ignorant — and in some cases nutty — believers then began adding to that stream with complaints about the mere fact that it was trending, or highly offended responses about the existence of such a hashtag or the existence of people who believe such sentiments.

Many similar sentiments were aired in the ABCNews.com comments, with many there disingenuously using Hitch’s Islamophobia (never mind of course that many atheists also disagree with it and will readily say so) in an attempt to discredit his religious skepticism. Some didn’t go this far, but still took passive-aggressive shots at the fiery style that made Hitchens so well-respected amongst atheists despite some of his less favorable stances, characterizing it as anger and acting as though the world could do with less of it (they’re wrong; in fact, liberal institutions would do very well to copy Hitch’s playbook, considering that conservatives have been doing so since forever).

This brings to mind other events where atheism and atheists were brought into some facet of the mainstream public eye. Every time this happens, it seems, we will have religious nuts ramping up their nuttery, religious non-nuts calmly and condescendingly pooh-pooh-ing the mean atheists, and staunch “agnostics”, “spiritualists” and the like murmuring some light derision at the nuts before loudly agreeing with the non-nuts and echoing such claims as atheists being angry amoral nihilists who really should just leave all those nice religious people alone. All those non-atheists, furthermore, will immediately run over to the other side and crow about special exceptions, how this is only one case, how they only don’t like the mean atheists when another (ostensibly not mean) atheist brings up the fact that this happens every single time atheism is brought into the public eye.

How many times do you hear about a church getting this sort of response when they want to put up a billboard pushing their flavor of Christianity?

How many times do you see Christian missionaries called “angry” or “militant”? These are people who are sent around the world for the sole purpose of converting people to Christianity. That is, at the end of the day, their job (and almost none of them are paid to do it). No atheist does that. There are no atheist groups that send bands of atheist missionaries out to the Philippines or Africa or South America to deconvert all those deranged Christians. Hell, I don’t even know of any individual atheist (except maybe Dan Dennett) who exclusively devotes their time to justifying atheism, let alone going around trying to get as many people as possible to deconvert. Missionaries are many, but how many times do you hear missionaries told that they’re not allowed to do what they do because that’s just too mean, too aggressive, and they should respect others’ beliefs?

When do you see any religious apologetic get told that their arguments are not worth addressing because of some perceived “meanness” or “aggressiveness” or “anger” or the like? Never mind Christianity, when have you seen a Muslim, a Jew Buddhist, a Confucian, a Scientologist told this?

I haven’t. The Scientologist will get called crazy — but not angry, not aggressive, nothing like that. But as an atheist, on a large and public forum meant for debate? I got that. Someone would make a post about their religious beliefs, I would respond with my questions, and more than half the time the discussion would quickly degenerate into me having to defend myself from a slew of accusations regarding my tone or intentions, and wondering why questions I had worded to be as calm and objective as possible were having all of this dishonest intent and “negative” tone read into them. When I asked about these things and got no answers, I would then begin to get angry — but not so much anger as frustration, the feeling of beating my head against a wall. I literally was. I wasn’t having anything explained to me; why I was wrong, what was so wrong about my questions, where this claimed dishonest intent was, where this reading of anger was coming from, why I was getting such a hostile reaction, none of those apparently deserved to be made known, or I somehow already knew them. In fact, those I talked to wouldn’t even admit their hostility, instead claiming that I was (in some unexplained manner) being hostile!

Valid question, non-answer. Probe further, further non-answer. Probe even further, malicious intent. Probe into the malicious intent, non-answer. And so on. Thud, thud thud, my head, concrete wall, until eventually it got so tiring that I resigned myself almost exclusively to atheist communities because it seemed like atheist communities were the only place where these questions were taken seriously. And the more time I spent in atheist communities, the more it felt like the debates I had outside of them consisted of me making a rational point only to have my opponent try to find every reason possible to not address my argument, let alone believe it. As if my opponents saw my arguments and felt them so horrible that they could not even be given the time of day, that they had to be dismissed for some reason — and none of those reasons had anything to do with their logical consistency.

Non-atheists wonder why we’re so angry. Of course we’re fucking angry. You would be too, if every time you tried to debate you got dismissed for reasons that don’t belong in any debate. If every time you tried to advance your point of view, you were surrounded by people doing nothing but attempting character assassination and not explaining what exactly you’re doing that’s so wrong and makes you so deserving of this assassination, and if you saw nothing different except when amongst those who agree with you on the point you’re trying to defend, you’d be livid. Wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t? Tell me that again, with a straight face. Tell me that after days, weeks, months, years even of getting this, that you wouldn’t get frustrated. Maybe you wouldn’t get mad the first time, but don’t tell me it wouldn’t pile up in the back of your head, slowly eating away at your unflappable temper until you discover that it’s really not as unflappable as you think.

You’re not unflappable. No one’s unflappable. At some point, you, like any of the rest of us, will have had enough of the bullshit, the silencing, the domination of the public square by this belief that is at the end of the day propped up by nothing.

Isn’t this supposed to be a democracy? Aren’t we supposed to have free expression of ideas? Aren’t ideas supposed to duke it out in the public square, fairly and honestly?

One idea is being dismissed. One idea is being told that it cannot participate, that it is wrong not because it is wrong but because some people are offended by it, they think it “angry” or “aggressive”, and they think its advancement dishonest. What is fair about this? What is honest about this? What is reasonable about this?

Would it be reasonable for me to tell a missionary that they are being angry and aggressive, and deny them the ability to put their religion into the public square on an equal ground on this basis? If not, then why is it reasonable to tell an atheist that?

Religion, in particular Christianity, has hogged the public square for far too long. Even 15 centuries is far too long to remain in childhood. Believers need to grow up and accept — really, not just grudgingly — that they’re not the only fish in the pond, and then re-evaluate whether they truly believe in a free and democratic society where all ideas are granted equal respect and judged on their factual and logical merit.

But for that to happen, non-atheists need to stop babying believers and rushing to their defense when atheists rightfully point out that they’ve stepped out of line and are acting like children and trying to monopolize debate (again). They need to stop being big brothers and start being parents, welcoming and accepting yet willing to bring down the hammer if necessary, upholding fairness and equality for both sides rather than just one.

Non-Christians in particular need to check their priorities. Fifteen centuries, people. Fifteen. Centuries. Christianity is now the largest religion by number of adherents, it dominates the political discourse in many countries; most notably the United States, where a party stacked full of Christian wingnuts (even by moderate standards!) currently owns enough of both legislative houses to block anything that they don’t like.

You defend them now. But how well do they defend you? You will find these nuts and their supporters spouting off a myriad of claims about how the United States is a “Christian nation”, how Christianity is seemingly required for one to be considered a Real American, et cetera. You can find sentiments to this extent all over outlets such as Right Wing Watch that devote themselves to chronicling the lies of the “Moral Majority”.

They came for the Muslims and you did not speak up because you were not Muslims. They are coming for the atheists and you are not speaking up because you are not atheists. How long will it be before they come after the agnostics? The spiritualists? The Hindus? The Buddhists?

What about all of you liberal Christians who disagree so vehemently with their politics while defending their religious sentiments? How long will it be before you are the last enemy that must be destroyed?

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Letter To Non-Atheists

Let me open by saying that “non-atheists” aren’t all theists. Non-atheists are people who don’t identify as atheist — and a significant amount of these people aren’t theists, identifying as “agnostic”, or “no religion”, or “spiritual” (believing in some supernatural force that lacks agency).

A lot of you non-atheists probably have heard us atheists say that we respect people regardless of their belief or lack thereof, or something similar to that, which probably makes you wonder why we’re so angry.

Well, see, we do respect you. The problem is, you don’t respect us.

I really hate to say this. I would love to say that yes, religion is as nice as you say it is, that it is respectful as it — and you — say it is.

But it isn’t, and you aren’t either when you stand up to defend it.

When you call us mean and disrespectful, and then tell us that it is our questions — questions that would be asked by an extraterrestrial scientist speaking to a human missionary — that are disrespectful, you are telling us to shut up and nothing more. This is disrespectful to our views. You are telling us that we are not allowed to provide a counterbalance to our opponents’ claims in the public sphere because our opponents do not like us. And we get mad, because we don’t like this.

But when have you seen an atheist do this?

Have you seen an atheist ever tell a theist or a Christian, when they make their claims, that they are simply being disrespectful and need to stop because of that? Do you have any examples of that?

You can look, but I don’t think you’ll find anything — because we don’t do that. We give you that respect because we give everyone that respect. It’s called honesty and it’s fundamental to any reasoned discussion, that is, if the discussion is going to get anywhere useful.

Which brings me to my second point: those of you non-atheists who don’t believe in a god are still non-atheists regardless, because you don’t understand what it means to be an atheist.

You see, when you’re an atheist, you get this sort of shafting all the time. Being an atheist means that, for some reason, non-atheists are free to make all sorts of assumptions about your moral character or inferences about your tone or intentions without backing them up at all. Sure, you can ask, but all you’ll get in response are reiterations, or just driving the person off in a huff because you asked all of your mean and inconvenient critical questions.

What’s more, it means that people feel the liberty to make insane leaps of logic or sophist constructions in order to not just explain things about religion or their religion, but also about atheism — and your atheism. They feel like they are allowed to say whatever they want about atheists, creating obviously-disrespectful caricatures of invisible atheists they supposedly know — or even real, prominent atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris — and waving them about in your face as if they, the non-atheist, know more about atheism than you, as if somehow all their pronouncements are made law by their burning scarecrows with names and faces taped to them. Not only that, but they feel that they are allowed to declare that the atheist is acting dishonestly, trying to “win” the debate rather than come to some sort of rational conclusion, and not back this up at all because who other than the atheist (who is obviously being dishonest) is going to oppose that?

And that’s only when you merely debate and make your arguments known ON THE INTERNET. FSM forbid that you actually advertise your existence on a billboard, or a bus. Worse yet is when you start making the arguments there. When the churches advertise their services, when the religiously-backed PACs put out their ads and have their fundraisers and hobnob with parliamentarians and congresscritters to spread their backwards views about how women are property and evolution is evil, that’s all fine and dandy, freedom of speech and all that. But us atheists? Once again we’re being mean, strident, disrespectful, what have you. Or, worse yet, the ads will get vandalized and pulled, with whoever was hosting them mumbling something about religious content being too controversial. But when have you ever heard of church advertisements being vandalized by atheists? Almost never — because we respect their freedom of speech.

When you go on a site advertised as an atheist community, furthermore, you will find some fairly stringent rules — excessive proselytizing will universally result in you being banned, as will excessive use of any of the dishonest tactics above. You’ll also find a lot of people talking about these tactics being used against them, and how much they love having a space where they can come in and not have those tactics used. And if you do use those tactics, while you won’t be instantly banned, you will receive a fairly hostile response — and when you ask why you’re getting such a hostile response, you’ll most likely be told that the community has many many posts regarding such tactics and you should probably have done a bit of background reading, and that by making your complaints you are simply annoying the community by posting things that have been posted and discussed tens or hundreds or even thousands of times, mostly with the same results. Why? Simple: atheists have to deal with that all the time in public. When they come to an atheist community, they are coming there specifically so that they DON’T have to deal with that, and when you make them deal with it there, you are invading their safe space.

Furthermore, when you do that, you contribute. Your post justifies everyone else in saying that, regardless of their beliefs being as innocuous as yours or as kooky as Ron Paul’s (or anywhere between or outside those two points). By saying it, you allow them to say it, and you add to the unjust delegitimization of atheist arguments for irrational reasons. Worse yet, when you say it, you do direct harm to the atheist and any other atheists reading it. For no rational reason, you undermine their self-confidence and make them feel more alone in the world, as if they will never get anywhere outside of their atheist communities because when they venture out of the safe space all they get is non-atheists posting and agreeing with this sort of derision, and only other atheists — few, if any — rising in defense of atheism. Invariably, the responses will be heavily skewed towards agreement with the non-atheist position, with the atheist arguments (if there is even more than one before the discussion dissolves into the atheist asking for evidence that they’re being disrespectful or dishonest) left dismissed even though they haven’t been addressed.

Sure, you might not believe in god either. But when you come in there with your “I don’t believe in a god, but you atheists could sure be more respectful…” you prove that you’re not an atheist right to the core refusal to admit that you are an atheist. When you say these things, you uphold a culture that says these things, that says things about respecting beliefs while stomping on the face of atheism with every breath.

To be an atheist requires ignoring the words and focusing on the boot. It requires knocking the flimsy stool out from underneath the mountain of pleasent lies constructed by religion and its abettors and not only admitting that atheists are marginalized but fighting back. It means calling out the bullshit niceties trotted out about religion when the crazies are drumming up US Senate votes for their latest hare-brained initiative. It means standing up and saying “that’s wrong and fucked up on so many levels” when religious apologists assert that parents own their children right down to being allowed to dictate what superstitions their children do or do not believe. It means dispensing with all of this idiotic framing of things in terms of the non-atheist’s “offense” rather than this “offense” being the driving force behind the maintenance of religious privilege. And it means admitting that you’ve been doing harm too, by upholding the edifice of religion even as a “nice” nonreligious person.

Being an atheist, in short, means being honest.

But being honest doesn’t necessarily mean being an atheist. I could give a fuck less if you’re Christian, or Buddhist, or “spiritual”, or even “freezone” Scientologist. Just be honest, and stand with me when I call out dishonesty for what it is — I and the atheists who stand with me will be more than happy to call you an ally. We’re not mad at you. We’re never really mad at you, unless you yourself give us reason to be. We are mad at what you are saying, what you are doing, what you are upholding — and if you stop saying, doing and upholding those things, we will welcome you with open arms and a cask of grog as a valued ally. Indeed, because atheism is a choice, we are seen as less deserving of allies than other marginalized groups; the amount of non-atheist allies that I know about can be counted on one hand and worse yet I know them all on a personal level, not merely as prominent names.

All we’re asking is that you stop thinking about you being offended, and instead think of us being harmed. Offense is not harm, and your offense at our position isn’t remotely close to the harm done to us by your silencing “offense”.

So stop.

Please.

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On Reality

“You have faith too — faith in reality!” — common theist/religionist argument

Yes. I do have faith that reality exists. But this is pointless nothing because we all do, as it is necessary to survive and we can`t really ignore what happens if we ignore some of the obvious and even not so obvious aspects of reality. I take that reality is real on faith — so what? You do too, since you are making claims about it that can be backed up with evidence from it (unless the claims are made so meaningless that they would be more readily attributed to the weakest of charlatans and crooks). So back them up and be honest. Taking for granted that reality is, as we both do, show how your claims are correct.

Until then, you get nothing. You lose. Good day, (appropriate pronoun here)!

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Why I refuse to debate in person

1. Debate in person requires reliance on memory while debate in text uses direct quotations.

2. In text, there is no pressure to respond within a given amount of time; one has as much or as little time as one needs to make a clear, well-supported response where any misunderstanding would be the fault of the listener, not the speaker.

3. In person, points have to be addressed serially which can easily cause relevance issues as one tries to raise other points while an initial point is being discussed. Text debates allow full, point-by-point responses where discussions on multiple points can happen at the same time and the separation between these points made clear. Long explanations also do not need to be cut off in the middle for further explanations — the explanation can be read in full, and then clarified.

4. There is no intimidating presence, making it impossible to shout someone down or otherwise bully them into silence. Even if multiple people gang up on a single person, that single person can respond to the multiple people in one post rather than having to shift between multiple related conversations with different people possibly asking wildly different questions.

5. Factual citations can be included in text for further research.
5a. On the Internet, this research can be done easily.

6. The lack of time constraints in text helps to prevent the use of rhetorical tricks, as one can step back and look at the argument again, or even go to someone else for a second perspective if they feel that the argument is ‘off’ (that is, it seems to make sense but has the echoes of an argument that in fact does not at all, or it seems to make sense but does not seem to make any valuable or relevant point, if any at all).

7. No one will complain about how loud you’re typing in a text debate, unless you’re at a library with really old keyboards.

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My silent protest

You tell me my virtues are beyond words. That I am deserving of all the help I need to get onto the same level, because all of us know that fundamentally I am different and have been different, by my own actions, the actions of others, and my sheer nature.

You wax eloquent about how I have done so much and do so much, how I bend over backwards to be nice and care about other people and have done virtually nothing — or indeed nothing at all — deserving of the mistreatment you admit I receive.

You say this as you take the pipe from my hand, as I put the drink down in front of you, as I come back with an extra cheeseburger or handful of candy, as I lend you a tiny bit more money to cover the rent.

But when we’re among friends, socializing, drinking, I sit alone. You all talk, smile, have fun, and when I ask why I am left alone you claim it is my fault somehow, even though when I talk no one responds, and when I am given attention it is temporary and perfunctory, and I am lucky to have five consecutive minutes where I am not alone.

When it comes to action, your words go out the window, and I am deserving of the mistreatment, the total ignorance I receive.

That is, until you need another drink — and when I tell you ‘no’, I’m an asshole.

And you almost never care when I sit in my room, where I am the least alone that I could ever be, surrounded by all of my real friends…so how, then, can you call me ‘friend’?

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