Wow, you’re really good at missing the impact of what you say, or perhaps trying to spin things in your favor after saying something off the wall. Two things you said lead us to believe you were excusing the violence. You said the man may have been “baited” into punching Justin. Why wasn’t Justin “baited” into saying “fuck off” by the harassment he was experiencing? You suggested that a punch in the face wasn’t a “beating,” which is nonsense, and seems to be an attempt to downplay the violence. The harassment, DJ, was clearly in response to the content of the poster regarding Victor’s talk, and the punch was a response to Justin’s rejoinder for the harassment. Was Justin just asking to be harassed by virtue of the content of the poster? Are you saying the guy wouldn’t have harassed me?
So, using your example, if a gay person was postering for a pro-gay event, and then was harassed by people objecting to his or her homosexuality, and quipped “fuck off” to the harassers, then got punched in the face, somehow you would argue that the initial harassment was no longer gay-bashing, and neither was the physical violence? Are you serious? Get real. If you tried to make that argument in court, you’d be held in contempt.
David: To quote something I said earlier in this thread which you might have missed:
“As a gay man, I know that if I were flyering for a GLBT group meeting when I was in school, and someone was fussing about the flyers, I would be offended. They would be wrong. But if I told them to “fuck off,” and goaded them, if they punched me because I verbally attacked them or insulted them instead of putting up fliers which was my right, I wouldnt consider it gay bashing.”
Having talked with a few other gay activists about this exact incident, including another gay man who works for CFI and is a lawyer, I find agreement that it would be very hard to argue that Justin getting punched for telling a guy to “fuck off” to be an instance of “atheist bashing,” just as if I told a homophobic guy to “fuck off” when he objected to my gay flyers and he punched me would not be an instance of gay bashing. Gay bashing is when someone singles out someone else for no other reason than his or her being gay and is violent toward him or her. Justin wasnt punched because he was an atheist. He was punched because he got angry when a guy harangued him for postering about an atheist event and he became verbally combative with the other guy, telling him to “fuck off.” There are many guys who would punch me if I told them to ‘fuck off.” But they wouldnt be punching me because of my atheism, but because of my verbal attack. And let me repeat what I have said I think eight times before in this thread: such physical violence is never excusable, and no one ever deserves it. But I think it is explainable in terms other than “atheist bashing.”
Not everyone knows how to deal with unpleasant situations or angry people, and as you know, many people are hot-heads, prone to tantrums, blow-ups, yelling and cursing. The escalation of tensions during such events shouldn’t be blamed solely on the victimization of one group by another group.
Justin was verbally (not physically) harassed for postering up a flyer, or at the very least challenged verbally by people who disagreed with either him or the thrust of the Stenger event. But Justin had a right to put up the posters, and probably wasnt verbally attacking the beliefs of others or harassing them in the process (would it matter if Justin admitted to verbally harassing the Christian from the get-go, unprovoked?). Since Justin had permission to put up the fliers, there is recourse for the harassment that Justin experienced, just as there is for any unpopular group putting on an approved meeting on campus if they were harassed. But telling people who are unjustifiably angry at you to “fuck off” (which itself is indefensible as a CFI director) is not the appropriate recourse. And we really should try to avoid explaining the escalation of the tense situation solely with appeals to perceived or real widespread anti-atheist bigotry. We should admit that the situation is more complex, and due to many factors, including the confrontational nature of both parties.
Again, I doubt you would have been punched while putting up posters, and I doubt that you would have told someone who didnt like your posters to “fuck off.” I think it should be uncontroversial for us to admit that sometimes some atheists are disliked not because of their atheism, but because they are unlikable characters. Further, I think that atheists should avoid seeking victim status and diminishing the plight of the truly oppressed.