1. A label has little explanatory value: it rarely stands alone without further explanation;
2. Labels gather “connotations” and “assumptions” along the way;
3. Others using the same label are not necessarily expressing opinions I agree with.
Having used a label, I probably won’t be given the opportunity to explain or even be aware that an incorrect (to me) assumption has been made. Equally problematic is if one person says something that I vastly disagree with from my “group”, I am put in the position of either defending it or explain why I distance myself from it.
So, by using a label for myself, say atheist, I still have to explain that it means only “no belief”; I still need to explain (or demonstrate) that I’m not evil or without morals; and I have to be clear that I am not advocating for Ayn Rand or necessarily agree with Thunderf00t, DJ Grothe, Richard Dawkins, Paula Kirby, Alain de Botton (and the list goes on). Ultimately, I may even have to decide at what point to remove myself from the label.
On the other hand, I do have many convictions that, to my thinking, result from or are informed by, being an atheist – I’m not even sure if these things can be disentangled. The values expressed by some organizations, say the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) for instance, are things to which I definitely ascribe – at the motherhood level, but, I have been tricked before. In fact, the week I decided to become a card-carrying, paid up member of CFI Canada, the President, Michael Payton, made some twitter remarks that I found distasteful and disturbing. This after years of sitting on the fence! It wasn’t just the comment, but the thinking behind it that made it possible to say – from the President no less. I almost revoked my membership immediately. However, he did make a retraction and apologized though, but I think it is still problematic if I was planning to become more active in CFI, which is unlikely now. It is dangerous territory. What to do? Continue on alone and invisible, try again to find a group that fits or just remain independent and ineffective? It has been okay being quiet as a fish, but I don’t care for it any more. There are real issues out there that I want to address and sitting at my computer slapping my forehead and rolling my eyes is not doing anything except implicitly allowing it.
So, once more into the breach…I have decided after some deliberation to put my trust in this label AtheismPlus. I’ve always liked what I hear from all of these individuals and agree with and have learned from them for a number of years now. So, for what it is worth, sign me up!