I agree that we’ll remain in disagreement about #1 (and similarly agree that that disagreement isn’t important enough to argue), and I agree that I could have been more careful with my word choice as you point out in #2.
That said, my first point still stands: you say on your website that atheists are “bound” by the list of Rights and Responsibilities you’ve drawn up. Yes, I do understand that the site is intended to be humorous, but I think you could be more accurate about atheism without losing any of the comedic value of the webpage. I have absolutely nothing against people suggesting that atheists act a certain way, but to claim that to be an atheist is to be “bound” by those rules is simply incorrect. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that your list of Rights and Responsibilities is bad or lacking; I merely take issue with the fact that you force it instead of proposing it. The change that I ask you to make does not involve making any substantial addition of detail; all I’m asking is that you change one word. And you have agreed that it would be more sensible – what’s holding you back?
(Regarding the aside, the Satanic Golden Rule is not meant to be technical. I hesitated to put “a meaningful amount” of harm in its statement and ended up leaving it out because I thought it might just incite some more inane dialogue – “what do you consider meaningful,” etc. Satanism also has this “punish unforgivable stupidity” undercurrent, which was actually what led me to respond to the content of your website (not “throwing the first punch”). You’re too smart and experienced to make such a mistake as to claim that atheists are “bound” by an arbitrary list of Rights and Responsibilities, and I felt that the sharpness of tone in the reminder I gave you was well within the realm of negligible emotional harm. Though if you were in fact meaningfully affected by my feedback, then you can thank me for helping you determine that you should seek the services of a psychiatrist.)
And though I strongly doubt that “all” read your blog, I thank you for posting our exchange… after asking my permission (as the exchange you posted was no longer on the feedback form but through a private email), for crediting me, and for preserving the original format of the message. You wouldn’t believe how many people are so rude as to do none. What a world we live in, eh?
I’ve changed the “Rights and Responsibilites” page to say that it applies to moral atheists (which should make clear that it does not apply to things that are atheistic due to their inability to make decisions (e.g., rocks), and that it does not apply to atheists who are not moral). Does that make more sense to you?
You’ve also reminded me that I have for a long time intended to put a statement in my e-mail signiture indicating that correspondence will be published on my blog unless there is a request otherwise. I’ve taken care of that.
Discussing your original correspondence in light of the practices of the Church of Satan: You are, of course, correct about not suffering stupidity. But one of the church’s rules (if I remember correctly) involves showing respect to someone in their lair or not going there in the first place. I would be interested to know if you would consider visiting someone’s Web site to be visiting their “lair”. I ask this not as a criticism of your original message (which I now more fully understand), but as a point of interest.
By the way, you mentioned being credited for your part of this discussion — do you want your name on the entries in my blog? In leave names off unless requested to do otherwise.