PZ Myers points to a governor of Pakistan’s assassination, and insists: “Don’t ever call atheists militant, except where they do something like this.”
Which is all well and good, and I suppose I wouldn’t want to be called militant either. But I also wouldn’t want to contradict the dictionary. Here’s the OED on “militant”:
A. adj.…3. a. Combative; aggressively persistent; strongly espousing a cause; entrenched, adamant.
b. Aggressively active in pursuing a political or social cause, and often favouring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods.…
B. n. 1. a. A person engaged in war or conflict; a combatant. Chiefly in extended uses or in metaphorical contexts. …
2. a. A person who strongly espouses a cause, esp. one who is aggressively active in pursuing a political or social cause. In later use also: spec. a member of an ideologically or politically motivated faction or force. Cf. sense A. 3b.
Are there atheists who see themselves embroiled in a metaphorical war? Who are combative? Aggressively persistent? Who strongly espouse a cause? Who are entrenched and adamant? Who aggressively pursue a social or political cause, and who specifically belong to an ideologically or politically motivated faction?
If PZ doesn’t like being called “militant,” there are solutions other than redefining the word.