I for one am actually tired of people assuming I'm an asshole as soon as they learn I'm as atheist. I am an asshole, but I'm not an asshole because I'm an atheist.
And what good does it possibly do us to be dicks in the name of atheism?
What am I talking about? you may be wondering. Well for instance:
“It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what." -- Stephen Fry
Well, I would love to sit down with Stephen Fry and talk about that or whatever else he'd like to talk about, I think he's very wonderful in very many ways. I don't think that the quote above was the most brilliant think he ever wrote or said. Not even in the top 5,000. And it disturbs me how many atheists quote that as if it were the pinnacle of Fry's brilliant career.
It irks me how many atheists brag about how unpleasant they are to Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious people who knock on their door. Some of them have begun an undeclared contest (For all I know the competition may actually have been explicitly declared in some circles, but I haven't actually seen that yet.) to see who can be the most unpleasant in such situations. Some of them can think of nothing to do vis a vis religion but verbally abuse it and waste everybody's time in court having the Ten Commandments removed from public places and/or gaining permission to add gruesome atheist billboards and would-be artworks to the public world.
Conversely, it pleases me that I am far from the only one to whom it has occurred that there may actually be something to gain for the cause of atheism and of tolerance for those with different worldviews in being known as an atheist and being nice -- like Stephen Fry is, though you wouldn't know it if you only know him from the... (I'm being nice now, the whole point of this goddam post is being nice.) ...the people who only quote that one... thing from him.