Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why TheAmazingAtheist matters

Terroja (TJ) Lee Kincaid, also known as TheAmazingAtheist (TAA) is a youtube contributor with a 414,000 subscribers base (as of May 26th 2013).

While starting his channels with topics centered on religious topics, notably defending Atheism versus the fundamentalist Christianity that makes up about half of the USA's population, he broadened the scope of his interventions to politics, media, and whatever he may find interesting in his readings of the news.

Though this is not the central topic of this article, it must be noted that in some aspects, Atheists are one of the most distrusted and discriminated minorities in the USA. Forget Muslims! Forget homosexuals! Forget racial minorities! Forget gender discrimination! A Gallup poll in 2007 showed that being an Atheist disqualifies you entirely for being elected into office. And this was reinforced in 2011 by a poll from the University of Minnesota about the least desirable son/daughter in law.

If you look him up on Google, you might end up on a page like the Encyclopedia Dramatica's page dedicated to him. Some of its claims are most certainly true about TJ's donation campaigns that ended up directly in his pocket for pure profit. However, some of the quotes regarding TJ's inflammatory discourses are given out of context and are pure manipulation, like TJ's expression on Amanda Todd's suicide. Which brings me to the core reason of why TAA matters.

The great quality of TAA is his fantastic ability to unlearn the prejudice that all of us have learned when growing up. Some things we respect and some things we take for granted are entirely built on an irrational transmission from our parents who themselves were taught the same irrational ideas by their parents, who themselves etc. In this heap of irrational ideas are good ideas but also bad ones. And whenever we dare speak out against the irrational establishment of ideas, even against the bad ones, our speaking out is often considered obnoxious by people who are still sold on the irrational nonsense.

On the example of Amanda Todd's suicide, TJ had the guts to denounce not the suicide itself (though his words were rough) but the outrageous imbalance of airtime that news broadcasts dedicated to that incident of 1 single person taking her life after being bullied, while the same news broadcasts offered little to no coverage at all about other topics that the public is little informed about and which are far more significant in terms of victims.

More recently, he spoke against a blog post that was gaining media attention as an advocacy for feminism. He actually refuted point-by-point the 33 arguments made in the article, and I have to agree with almost everything he said, especially some of the later comments (at 26 minutes 25 seconds in the video) : almost all the arguments revolved around 3 core reasons for being a feminist:

  • magazines, comic books, movies and TV shows are sexist
  • rape happens
  • domestic violence happens


...And while the 3 statements are correct, no strong connection (or logical demonstration) is offered between people becoming feminists and an improvement of those facts.

For plenty of other topics, TJ dares speaking against a certain establishment of prejudice and for this reason, his reflections and musings remind me strongly of Friedrich Nietzsche's questioning of the moral establishment from the religious authority.

Conclusion:

When we feel a sense of outrage, when someone says something shocking, we should start by questioning our own reasons for being shocked. Is the shocking claim deeply in the wrong? if so, why? Why are we more justified of holding our own position than the other person making a claim that disturbs us? For this reason, I find TAA's rants precious. They're not always mature. They're not always interesting. I don't always agree with them. But they offer a precious questioning that we lack in everyday life. That, too me, is quality philosophy in a modern form.

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