By this I mean are they exempt as censure as a group and should they be? For example, when a priest or religious fundie molests a choirboy or calls for OT style smiting then we're - rightly - outraged. When some fundie nut blows themselves up and takes out others too then ditto. But we always frame that outrage in terms of the belief of the perp. Ie 'Priest found lurking outside boys school', "Muslim fanatic blows up bus" etc. My question is: should we instead say "man blows up bus in Karachi". Or "man accused of molesting boys at Sunday School camp"? We do for all other cases, you never get "plumber does X" or "accountant does Y". This is because no link is being made between being a plumber and a particular crime. In the other cases a link IS being made. And when something is being made then someone (we can talk about who later maybe) is making it. But I digress, the question is: which way to go? Is the belief important? Or not? Should we just treat this as another human doing a crime or should we stipulate the beliefs and allegiances of the person? If it is the latter do we need to start having headlines like "atheist runs amok with axe?" Surely we do if it is to be a fair playing field? Btw, note: my position is that no-one needs to have such labeling - I'm in the 'man/woman does X camp' as opposed to "Muslim fanatic loon goes jay-walking' camp - but whichever it is it should be the same across the board. Atheists have worked out a rather neat solution for just this sort of position - actually it first arose to duck out of philosophical debate but it can be adapted - which is the old 'atheism is absence of belief' routine. Doubtless they will argue that they can't be included in any labeling because they don't HAVE a belief - that atheism is merely LACK of belief in something. But that doesn't wash really as it also applies to religionists also surely? Christianity is also a lack of belief. It is a lack of belief in sacrificing virgins to the demon Choronzon at Beltane for example. Islam is a lack of belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or such made up idols in general. Buddhism is a lack of belief in consensus reality (which includes atheists as they are the archetypal conservative supporters of the status quo in many ways - always get a massive kick out of that one). And in any event, even if correct, it doesn't make any difference. Why can't we have headlines like "man with no beliefs in anything murders 150 at sunday school picnic"? Or "woman (it's rarely women though but bear with me...I'm being non-gender specific...we can get into Freudian/Lacanian perspectives on masculinity and atheism a little later maybe) who denies existence of divinity hacks grandmother to death and settles down to watch Fox News"? So...thoughts? Are they a special case? Should we label people by beliefs and if so should we make an exemption for atheists on grounds above or something else entirely?