BRIGHT….It looks like this “bright” meme is going to get a serious airing here in America. That is, if having an op-ed in the New York Times counts as a serious airing. Daniel Dennett writes:
What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. We brights don’t believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter Bunny ? or God. We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic ? and life after death.
….Most brights don’t play the “aggressive atheist” role. We don’t want to turn every conversation into a debate about religion, and we don’t want to offend our friends and neighbors, and so we maintain a diplomatic silence.
But the price is political impotence. Politicians don’t think they even have to pay us lip service, and leaders who wouldn’t be caught dead making religious or ethnic slurs don’t hesitate to disparage the “godless” among us.
From the White House down, bright-bashing is seen as a low-risk vote-getter. And, of course, the assault isn’t only rhetorical: the Bush administration has advocated changes in government rules and policies to increase the role of religious organizations in daily life, a serious subversion of the Constitution. It is time to halt this erosion and to take a stand: the United States is not a religious state, it is a secular state that tolerates all religions and ? yes ? all manner of nonreligious ethical beliefs as well.
There’s also a call for “bright rights,” a euphonious phrase if ever there was one.
Anyway, I’m ready to sign up, but if “bright” goes the way of “gay” and “queer,” we’d better think up some other word for “lots of light” since this one will shortly become useless in its traditional meaning. But I guess that’s the least of our problems, no?