The Null Device

Are you a Bright?

Atheists have received a bit of a bad rap over the years. In the U.S., where the word is still tainted by McCarthy-era associations with Soviet Communism, the people who openly call themselves atheists tend to be those with massive chips on their shoulders about religion, whereas everybody else who doesn't believe in a deity is an "agnostic" or "unitarian universalist" or some other equally euphemistic term. Godlessness is widely seen as a moral failing, to the point where belief in the right brand of supernatural mumbo-jumbo is an essential qualification for any sort of public office.

Richard Dawkins, Atheist headkicker extraordinaire, wants to remedy this by taking a leaf from the gay pride movement's book, appropriating a more cheerful and positive word for the atheist/agnostic/skeptic community. Just as homosexuals became gays, atheists can now call themselves Brights. Which strikes me as a bit silly, though maybe it'll catch on. (Though wasn't the word "gay" used as a term of abuse for people deviating from sexual norms before the gay-pride movement reappropriated it? Perhaps a catchy meme would require setting up a puppet anti-atheist vilification movement to plant an easily invertible term of abuse in the ideosphere.) (via FmH)

There are 3 comments on "Are you a Bright?":

Posted by: Simstim http:// Mon Jun 23 14:22:28 2003

"Brights"?!? Nah, won't catch on, particularly as you're replacing one social crime (atheism) with another (self-labelled intellectualism). In any case if you were really smart, you'd be a meta-agnostic (not sure if you're not sure or not).

Posted by: Hobbes http:// Mon Jun 23 18:58:33 2003

According to a gay friend of mine who might not be reliable, "gay" (in the context of homosexuality) was first used as sort of a secret handshake. So, if you asked someone "how are you" and they said "Oh, I'm gay" they probably were, but it wouldn't arouse suspicion among people who might not take too kindly to that.

I have no idea if that is true or not, but it sounds kind of plausible.

Posted by: Walker http:// Tue Jun 24 12:53:52 2003

"Gay" has a promiscuous history, e.g. a "gay house" was a term for a whore house and a "gay" was a male prostitute.