Dean Esmay has another go at defending the Bright® Meme.

I don’t have anything particularly original to add on this, other than to clarify that my main objection to this concept is the name itself. As much as the propagators of this wish to proclaim that they mean no connotation that they’re smarter than non-Brights, perception is reality in these things. The fact that virtually every mention I’ve seen on this in the world wide blogosphere gets off onto that issue is enough evidence for me that we’ll wind up debating the label rather than the idea. Any label that connotes an innate superiority over non-members is a bad strategy, especially when the membership is a rather small minority of the population as a whole.

So, to reiterate, a discussion of the pitfalls of a supernatural worldview is worth having. A discussion over why we call ourselves Brights® is not.

Update (11:54): Oh, I forgot to mention that “Mindles H. Dreck” has a post on this one, too.

FILED UNDER: Religion, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dean Esmay says:

    Well, fair enough, although I continue to point out that people had all these same objections about “gay,” and now those objections are pretty much in the ash heap of history, aren’t they?

    Of course, no one significant is out to arrest non-religious people, and anyone who thinks so is rather silly.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I actually meant to comment on the “gay” thing, since Kevin brought it up. A good point although I think “gay” in its sense of “happy” was largely archaic by the 1970s. And, too, we had a society in desperate need for a euphemism. But, still, it’s possible that “bright” could take on a new meaning.

    And, no, I don’t think anyone is trying to arrest the non-religious. Although, to be honest, there are large parts of the country where coming out and saying you don’t believe in Jesus and that you find religion to be superstititious nonsense will have you ostracized rather quickly. And, potentially at least, visited by the Klan.

  3. Janis Gore says:

    What’s wrong with “secularist”? Too many syllables for the “brights”?

  4. Janis Gore says:

    One of the reasons people are getting into a snit about this is that “bright” like “classy” is not a word one uses to describe oneself, unless writing a doomed personals ad.

  5. Rodney Dill says:

    The traditional opposite of gay is sad, the traditional opposite of Straight is crooked.

    The not traditional, Opposite of brights should be brilliants.

    This has all the earmarkings of a naming debacle, e.g.
    Anti-Abortion(negative connotation) vs
    Pro-Life(positive connotation)
    Pro-Abortion(NC) vs

    This seems to be a monumental waste of time on self proclaimed “brights” who largely are of the “none-to” variety.

  6. Janis Gore says:

    There’s also an element of racial insensitivity in the term “bright”. Some years ago in Texas, light-skinned African-Americans were called “bright”. Might still be so, for all I know.

  7. jen says:

    Using a term like “bright” might piss off a lot of people because of the perception being reality that James mentioned.

    Janis asks a good question re: secularist. I know that as a religious person, I tend to use “secular” when referring to the non-religious.