There aren’t 1,200+ words to describe anything I find so boring I’d rather take a nap than find a way to make it exciting. Charlotte Allen feels no such reserve about atheists, even as she describes them as "crashing bores" and "excruciating snoozes" in her 1,200+ word article, "Why I Can’t Stand Atheists." Whether you agree with her or not, her article makes an excellent "do not do this" example for any forensic, debate, and speech class.
The generalizations are so glaring they’re worth mentioning only for the worth they’d have in “Lesson One: Just because all fire trucks are red trucks doesn’t mean all red trucks are fire trucks.” Extremists populate every opinion that can and could be had. Using the fringe to define the whole — and treating the whole accordingly — is about as effective as throwing out all foodstuffs because one found a worm in an apple, and then outlawing food.
Equally pertinent for the advanced debate student would be Ms. Allen’s conjecture, myopic definition of terms, and woefully transparent attempt to write her own rules of engagement.
From "…few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering" to "What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger…", this diatribe is, at its worst, self-serving; at best it is elementary (although I am loath to compare Ms. Allen’s self-suffocation to a small child who, rightly so, still believes s/he can sing, draw, and dance).
Unfortunately, vocal atheists offer up as much conjecture and make as many attempts to lure the other side into their own playing field. Both are surprised when the other insists, "No, you come over here."
The vocal atheist who would assert other atheists are in fear of expressing their beliefs (that this is it and there ain’t no more) speak on behalf of a population smaller than their own. This is, awkwardly enough, where the vocal atheist errs — and where religionists pounce. Both end up falling all over each other because there is nothing of substance between them.
The quiet atheist has nothing to say, not a fear of saying it. Both vocal atheists and those in agreement with Ms. Allen waste their time speculating about the quiet atheist because no one can rally apathetic troops, nor can anyone exploit sympathy where there is only indifference.
Ms. Allen’s thoughts can be summed up with the last line "So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?" To be accurate, however, the word "some" would have to follow the word "So," since most atheists give a rat’s ass about either side of this argument. Too, her parting shot can be applied to any sarcastic, self-pitying opponent — to include religionists. In this, both Ms. Allen and the vocal atheist lack the one thing they need to be taken seriously: a point.