Again with the Atheist symbol

Last week I created a new symbol for Atheists and Non-believers: the Fleur-de-pensée. Alexc3 left a comment to another post and suggested using Inkscape, an open source vector drawing program that can save files in a scalable vector graphics format.

So, I recreated the Fleur-de-pensée in SVG format. Now you can download the image and scale it, or edit it to your heart's delight. And as I said before:
I'm releasing this symbol to the public domain, free for anyone to use, with only one restriction.

The only requirement that I make is what this symbol represents. As long as anyone uses a symbol that is recognizably based upon or derived from the Fleur-de-pensée, it will always represent scientific, skeptical and rational inquiry into our natural world, without the need to resort to the supernatural. It also indicates a willingness to explore ethical questions that originate with humans and benefit all humanity while respecting individual human rights.
I created 3 different Fleur-de-pensée image files that you can download: Inkscape SVG format, plain SVG format, or Adobe Acrobat format. The two SVG formats contain the Fleur-de-pensée inside of a ring – which can be removed using a graphics editor if needed. The Adobe Acrobat PDF format has two images, the Fleur-de-pensée within a ring, and by itself. Scale the PDF document and then cut and past it as you please.

It would be neat if this image gains acceptance among Non-believers, and truthfully I hope it does. However I'm realistic, and I know what the track record for Atheist symbols is like. If you like this symbol, then give it a chance – link to it, download it, use it. Even play with it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a serious uphill battle for at least two reasons:

1) Who wants to be called a pansy?

2) Unlike the elegant flowing lines of the “Fleur de lis," the fleur de pansy is an inelegant, angular block that, to the uninitiated, resembles neither a “Fleur de lis” nor a pansy.

I can certainly appreciate the clever reasons for using the the pansy--who's name means "thought." And I can appreciate the desire to leverage the beautiful lines of the classic fleur de lis, but your conglomeration looks like a blob of nothing. It lacks grace, proportion and most importantly, it is evocative of nothing.

I point this out not to be mean, but that I think that being very close to a project can lead one to see a work from a colored perspective that is infused with the meaning you intend rather than the way it looks to outsiders.

Additionally, while your generosity in releasing the symbol to the public is commendable you mechanism for doing so is flawed.

You cannot "So I'm releasing this symbol to the public domain, free for anyone to use, with only one restriction."

Public domain is public domain. Once you release the copyright into the public domain you cannot place "restrictions."

If your desire is to allow people to use the symbol but maintain control of it, you will have to retain copyright of the work and license it with restriction. This may have been you intent, but the precise words you use matter.

It may already be too late to change your licensing since you used the words "I'm releasing this symbol to the public domain." That bell, perhaps, cannot be un-rung. However, in future you may wish to look into Creative Commons licensing, which is a handy free system of copyright license designed designed to allow you to share a work but reserve some rights.

http://creativecommons.org/

However, cc licensing does not have a system for specific limitations over how someone may represent a work, only broader categories of who and how a work may be used (commercial, noncommercial, share and share a like, and such)

So, you may have to set up your own license language. In the end, if you wish to have any say over how your symbol is used you have to retain the rights and license a subset of those rights out.

Calladus said...

You know, I've noticed that when someone says that they're doing something for my own good, or that they don't intend to be mean, what they're really saying is that they are planning on being a jerk and don't want to get called on it.

First, you don't like it? Fine. Make your own. From your critique I'm sure you have the skills to create a symbol that every Atheist will like.

Second, I am quite aware of what creative commons is all about, and have used it in the past. I wanted this to be even more free than that. You didn't understand that I don't want to retain control of the image, only of its original meaning.

Yes, I understand that I have no control over some Pat Robertson wannabe stealing my image to use on his church web page - but the Internet doesn't forget, and someone will recognize it and I'll blog it.

Anonymous said...

"Who wants to be called a pansy?"

Who wants to be called a lily? Euorpean dynasties, Boy Scouts, the Three Musketeers, and everyone in Detroit.

Anonymous said...

"You know, I've noticed that when someone says that they're doing something for my own good, or that they don't intend to be mean, what they're really saying is that they are planning on being a jerk and don't want to get called on it.

First, you don't like it? Fine. Make your own. From your critique I'm sure you have the skills to create a symbol that every Atheist will like."


Well, I do like your blog. I thought about not saying anything, however part of being a "freethinker," skeptic or whatnot is not necessarily agreeing with the herd, so I though I'd post my actual thoughts rather than some dumbed down version. Anything less might be dishonest.

I accept your criticism of my critique, though I stand by my post, and knew such a reaction was possible but did not expect such. I am surprised by your hostile reaction since I assumed you might also expect an honest critique that might by contrary to your opinion. I think you may take it far too personally, though I realize that bland aphorism is does not generally lead to anything which might be considered a resolution, however, neither does implicitly calling me "a jerk," which is something I certainly didn't do to you, implicitly or otherwise.

I tried to criticize things or methodologies, not you personally. You have not done the same. I am, frankly, rather disappointed that you would attack the person rather than the argument and use rhetorical devices such as " when someone says [blank]" that 'really' means [fill in straw argument here.] Attacking something I didn't say is not an argumentative technique I would think that you would overlook if made by someone else, so I don't see why you would deign to use it yourself.

Could it not be possible that a plain statement is actually written to mean just what it says? For surely that is what I intended when I wrote it.

I generally respect your opinion, effort and generosity in creating the symbol and I meant the critique as an honest, though perhaps all too blunt, set of opinions.

Considering Atheism is constantly in conflict with religious people's core beliefs and opinions--at the very heart of their self-identity--you are no doubt familiar with the reaction that people offer when the feel their ideological toes have been stepped on. It is with some irony that I feel you have reacted in the same way about having your work critically examined.

What I notice in your response is that it is packed with emotion and is rather short on facts. You don't actually attempt to contradict anything in my post, other than to say you are familiar with creative commons. I never said, nor meant to imply, that you are anything but smart and generally well informed. However, I would have expected a less visceral response. Visceral reactions are the stuff of religion rather than reason and rational discourse.

It was, and still is, my impression that the comments section is meant to engender debate rather than a forum for sycophantic remarks.

Could I make a better symbol? Probably not. I'm not sure anyone can make a successful symbol for atheism and freethinking--you've taken on a tall order. In a similar vein, could I make a more successful religion than Christianity? Absolutely not, but I still feel completely free and justified in criticizing it. The right to critique does not rest upon the critic's ability to create something better, otherwise there would be no point to your blog or the 3 part organization which you are heading up, or, for that matter, any atheism, free thought or skeptical organization. This is another example of a rhetorical device that I doubt you would accept if used by another in a debate.

""Who wants to be called a pansy?"

Who wants to be called a lily? Euorpean dynasties, Boy Scouts, the Three Musketeers, and everyone in Detroit"


Perhaps so; however, "lily" isn't a derogatory expression for an effeminate man. Pansy is. Oh, I'm not saying the expression is a fair one and I'm not saying that one couldn't try and "take back" the name, but to do so requires a significant momentum and seems like an unlikely prospect.

Part of effective framing of a debate is to leverage existing words rather than try an force them to your will. Trying to get your opponents to use words the way you want them to, as opposed to common usage, is like trying to hold up a waterfall with your hands.

-Anon 18/8/07 1:41 PM

Calladus said...

You're right. I was hostile, and I owe you an apology.

I think part of the way that I reacted has to do with what I perceived as an attack on "my baby" - I spent a lot of time musing on symbols that could represent not only Atheism, but also stand for other positive aspects of rational thought.

I was rather happy with the idea of a Fleur-de-pensée for the pansy's history, and the idea of how the Fleur de lis is used in heraldry. But the graceful lines of the Fleur de lis is what makes it difficult to duplicate by non-artists. Blocky and angular is easy.

Intellectually, rationally, I knew that someone would hate my creation. But I reacted emotionally.

Another reason why I reacted poorly is because of an ethic that I've picked up over the years from mentors, bosses and role models.

This particular ethic I hold dear is that possible solutions should be offered when pointing out problems, with the understanding that the offered solution might not be the solution, but it might be the seed of such.

Announcing a "problem" without suggestion possible solutions is a "button" for me. My coworkers and those that I supervise or have supervised have learned that I won't let them get away with doing that. But my readers don't work for me, and it's not my place to show that sort of irritation toward them. Toward you.


I think you can see from my moderation policy and from the contents of my blog comments that I'm far from requiring "yes men" in my blog.

There is some good content to your comment that I'd like to address, but I think I'm going to have to let it wait until I've slept first - posting at 2AM is not conducive to reasoning - at least not for me.

But before I go I'm afraid that I must insist that if you wish to keep posting in my blog that you will have to follow rule 5 of my comment moderation policy. Please stop posting as "anonymous".

Pansy 18/8/07 said...

"You're right. I was hostile, and I owe you an apology.

I think part of the way that I reacted has to do with what I perceived as an attack on "my baby" - I spent a lot of time musing on symbols that could represent not only Atheism, but also stand for other positive aspects of rational thought."


...and my comment could have been better written, less confrontational and more constructive, which I shall keep in mind in future. I appreciate your apology, especially when I know that for either of us it may be much easier to escalate an argument than to try and calm it down. One corollary to thinking for yourself is that it can lead to being argumentative. Such may not apply to you but it certainly does for me.

"Another reason why I reacted poorly is because of an ethic that I've picked up over the years from mentors, bosses and role models..

This particular ethic I hold dear is that possible solutions should be offered when pointing out problems, "


Beating a Dead Horse Dept.:
I can certainly appreciate that constructive criticism is appreciated more than criticism, however this excuse is somewhat inconsistent with the totality of your response.

When I pointed out that there is no such animal as "Public Domain with restrictions" but offered the solution that you could keep copyright and license the use of the logo though a standardized or custom licensing agreement you presumed that I didn't understand that you didn't "want to retain control of the image, only of its original meaning."

To the contrary, I did understand that; however it just isn't legally possible to do what you want. The only way you can legally control the meaning is to retain some rights and restrict the use of the logo. Your "internet" shaming plan is a legitimate approach but has no legal enforceability and limited "shame traction" given that your logo is in the public domain and that anyone is legally free to use it for any purpose they please and are literally under no obligation to respect your "restriction."

Your example of "Yes, I understand that I have no control over some Pat Robertson wannabe stealing my image to use on his church web page" is a good one, but you can't legitimately use the word "stealing." It isn't possible to steal something that is in the public domain. You can say that you didn't literally mean "stealing," but I would counter that whether you meant it or not it is an incorrect characterization and a slander since the church is legally allowed to use it however they please, thanks to your generosity.

I also believe that, given your response, that you accept this limitation engendered by your methodology.

"But before I go I'm afraid that I must insist that if you wish to keep posting in my blog that you will have to follow rule 5 of my comment moderation policy. Please stop posting as "anonymous"."

I didn't realize Blogger had that option nor did I read the "Comment Moderation" page. I'll post under a mnemonic handle.

I suspect we agree on far more things than we disagree, but I also suspect that it is our differences that are likely to be highlighted in any comment discussions. Please don't take my limited comments as a general disrespect for you or your blog--er, nor as a "when ever someone says 'please don't take my comments to mean' what they really mean is..."

Cheers,

Alex said...

Glad you like it. :)