Our tone does not matter.
Our tone is not the issue.
Our tone is irrelevant.
Our tone is nothing but a meaningless distraction, a red herring, a means of dodging the simple fact that when theists engage in substantive discussions they lose.
Theists lose on the facts. And they know it.
When we talk about cosmology, they dither and quibble and retreat to furious hand wringing and meaningless talking points about vague unknown and unknowable first causes. When we talk about biology, they pull the same trick, repeatedly returning to the God of the Gaps. When we talk about morality, they mumble about Hitler, Stalin and Mao, completely ignoring the fact that their alleged atheism had about as much to do with their megalomania as the presence of a Y Chromosome while denying all responsibility for the countless horrors perpetrated in the name of religion and glossing over the fact that incredibly secular countries are deeply stable and are actually living the moral life theists like to preach about.
When presented with facts and evidence, theists retreat to faith. And they're losing.
This is why rather than dealing with the substantive arguments against theism, theists spend so much time whimpering about our tone and whining about how mean and militant and aggressive and harsh atheists are when dealing with theists. Pot, meet kettle.
They complain about our tone because they are losing.
When theists attack atheists because of their tone it is nothing more than a petulant demand that we cease offering evidence that their worldview is based on shoddy reasoning and poor logic.
Because the reality is that our tone is NOT the problem. Our tone doesn't matter. Because it doesn't matter how polite we are, how eloquent we are, how articulate or respectful we are. It is not our tone that theists reject - it is our existence.
What is truly ironic is that it is theists who complain about the aggressiveness, combativeness and militancy of atheists. Atheists regularly receive death threats. We are regularly told that we are damned, that we are going to hell, that we are a plague, a disease, an abomination. And yet somehow it is atheists who are aggressive and militant... We need to stop lending credence to this meme.
Are some atheists arrogant? Absolutely. Can some atheists be condescending? Oh my yes. Can some atheists be overbearing and rude? Hell yeah. Do some atheists denigrate the intelligence of believers? They sure do.
But does anything we do compare in any way to the hateful, bigotry theists direct towards us? Do atheists send believers death threats? Do we pound on the doors of believers demanding that they deconvert? Do we threaten believers with damnation or eternal torture? Nope.
The simple truth is that there is nothing that atheists can do or say that will prevent theists from attacking us about our tone. They attack our tone because it is the only issue where theists can still win. Moreover, it plays into the overwhelming sense of Christian entitlement and privilege and allows them to feel persecuted and victimized without the unpleasantness of actually being persecuted and victimized.
Our tone is NOT the problem.
Which is why I wish we would stop talking about it. Which is why I wish we as a community would stop bashing each other simply because others express themselves differently than we would. Which is why I propose that for the first two weeks of 2011, that atheists refrain from complaining about other atheists' tone. It does us no good and it legitimizes and perpetuates the only real argument theists have left.
Because no matter how much you may disagree with an individual atheists' tone, it is nowhere near as despicably arrogant, condescending and insulting as the tone theists routinely hurl our way. When the Vicar of Christ declares that atheists are Nazis, there can be nothing more arrogant and condescending than the theistic insistence that they KNOW the truth despite voluminous evidence to the contrary. Their absolute and utterly unjustified certainty perfectly illustrates the truth - that it is not the tenor of our words but the content of our minds that theists truly fear.
The endless whimpering and whining about our tone is nothing but a distraction from the fact that theists are losing the debate. On every substantive issue and by every conceivable metric, theists are losing.
So let's stop bitching about one another's tone - just for a little while - and focus on the fact that it ISN'T our words that infuriates and enrages theists, it's our ideas. And let's celebrate the fact that regardless of how we express those ideas, we are winning.