Take this letter to the editor, from January of this year. Ignore the fact that the author appears to suggest that freedom of religion only applies to various denominations of Christianity (and perhaps not even all of them).
Ignore that the author seems to think religious belief is a requirement for citizenship (“You must believe.” [Emphasis mine.]).
Ignore the logic by which the author assumes that 10% of the population who identify as atheists are responsible for more or all crime in America, while ignoring that (unless that 10% never sleeps and spends every waking moment committing some crime or another) most of those crimes are committed by the some of the other 90% that claim some belief in God or a supreme being. (Also ignore that religious belief apparently wasn’t enough to stop those believers from committing their crimes.)
Ignore that only six members of Congress are religiously unaffiliated, and only one is a self declared atheist, out of .
Now, remove every occurrence or permutation of the word “atheist” and substitute another group. Here are a few to get you started: Black, Jews, Latinos, Muslims, Homosexuals, Christians, Mormons, etc. Just for fun substitute any social ill that could possibly be blamed on any of the groups above.
Now, tell me. How much outrage would result from the new version of the letter above? How much public disapproval, even from people who don’t belong to any of those groups? How much of what’s in the letter would fall under that category of “what you can’t say” about a particular group, at least not without expecting significant negative response?
Why does it fall under the category of “what you can say” about atheists and expect almost no outrage or disapproval from anyone other than atheists themselves?