(Trigger Warning: vulgar epithets directed at vulgar people.)
For reasons known only to himself, Richard Dawkins recently agreed to issue a joint statement with Ophelia Benson. A brief, tepid platitude, the statement observes:
“It’s not news that allies can’t always agree on everything. People who rely on reason rather than dogma to think about the world are bound to disagree about some things.
“Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other.”
It goes on to call for “no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.”
Benson acknowledges that she crafted the statement, with Dawkins appending his expressed disavowal of “[a]ny person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment….” And fine sentiments these all are — except the spirit of it has already breached by Benson, and is, in fact, anathema to Benson and her fellow advocates of “Atheism Plus.”
It’s OK When We Do It
The joint statement was roundly applauded by the social justice warriors (“SJWs”), who perceived the admonishments therein applicable only to their ideological opponents, a vast group who they place under the rubric “slymepitters” (regardless of whether these persons are in fact members of The Slymepit discussion board.)
In true SJW, ‘its-ok-when-we-do-it’ fashion, the Atheism Plussers conveniently ignore things like the incessant spew of crude invectives from the mouth of PZ Myers, or Benson’s own mini-crusade against Dawkins, in which she baselessly accused him of being a racist, a sexist, and an apologist for child molestation.
Atheism Plus’ ‘horde’ of followers, meanwhile, were quick to express their disinclination to accept Dawkins’ olive branch, at least until he dons sackcloth for sins like: promoting the anti-radfem vids of Jacqueline Glenn; ‘punching down’ on po’ widdle oppressed moslems, and worst of all, for calling out slacker/alcoholic/attention whore, Rebecca Watson, for whining about her first-world problems. Lost on the SJWs was the irony of them having enjoyed a good ole’ time lampooning Dawkins for his own first-world, honey-pot problems.
Proving themselves deficient in both skeptical tools and introspection, the SJW-atheists employed wishful thinking to interpret the joint statement as indication that the Slymepitters’ antics had grown too foul for even Dawkins to swallow. For the record, no actual member of the Slymepit has ever issued rape or death threats at that discussion board. As for “photoshops” — satire is a venerable and respected form of dissent, while caricature is valid if it underscores the subject’s foibles or character flaws. If such scrutiny hurts your fee-fees, then stay out of the limelight.
But again, ‘its-ok-when-we-do-it’, and one may compare the satire & ridicule found at The Slymepit with the steady stream of ad hominem insults emanating from the keyboards of the bloggers & commentariat at FreeThoughtBlogs (“FtB”). Benson and her colleagues have no compunction deriding opponents based on their race (white), age (old), sex (male), or sexual orientation (die, cis scum, die.) The hate-filled, mentally unstable Taslima Nasreen rants on about the inherent evilness of the male sex, while celebrating accounts of amputated penises. But the position of Party Propaganda Minister goes to the equally unbalanced, though somewhat less bloodthirsty, Miri Mogilevsky, for expounding non-stop on the unfalsifiable radfem constructs of Rape Culture™ and Teh Patriarchy™, and for her rabid attacks on the “poisoned” men (i.e. all men) they engender.
And from the dark depths of PZ Myers’ impotent rage and repressed sexual violence boil up regular threats of anal rape against any who dare disagree with him, foul-mouthed obscenities for his myriad foes, not to mention his recent threats to throw Slymepitters off a pier, or to disembowel any Christian who approaches him.
Note well that when an SJW complains of “harassment”, they really mean ‘general disagreement’, while “stalking” constitutes such horrific deeds as following them on Twitter, or the mild-mannered Justin Vacula sitting quietly alone as he attended a skeptics’ conference open to the public. In contrast, that scheming misanthrope, Stephanie`Svan, felt entirely justified in her vendetta to get Vacula fired from his position with his local atheist org.
Creating The Rift
At FtB, the ponderously slow-witted Dana Hunter muses whether the Joint Statement represents the first step toward building a ‘bridge’ to span the ‘chasm’, which would allow properly contrite Slymepitters to cross over and submit to SJW rule. Before considering this further, we ought remind ourselves that it was the SJWs who created the rift in the first place.
It was the SJWs who cooked up a bogus sexual harassment epidemic at conferences — a Reichstag fire to facilitate co-opting these conferences which, through the blinkers of their slackivism, they mistakenly identified as the crux of the A/S movement. It was they who took a molehill — a certain party girl’s minor miscalculation of her Jameson-fueled flirting — and turned it into a mountain of non-existent sexism among the community, which, of course, they and they alone, were capable of rooting out.
The formal Atheism Plus movement was birthed in August, 2012, when the lovely and talentless Jen McCreight called for: “a new wave of atheism … a wave that isn’t just a bunch of ‘middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men’”; rather, one that “cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.” (McCreight’s emphasis.)
As for those who’d dare resist McCreight’s glorious revolution, she added this warning: “no amount of reason will ever get them to admit that they’re wrong. So to them, all I have to say is have fun as you circle jerk into oblivion…. I want Deep Rifts…. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people.” (McCreight’s emphasis.)
FtB blogger and renowned narcissist, Dick Carrier, next upped the ante. By declaring, “either you’re with us or against us,” Carrier (parroted by fellow FtBers such as the painfully irrelevant Greta Christina), left no room “to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other”. Carrier, et al., cast the conflict between Atheism “Plus” vs. Atheism ‘Neat’ as a fight to the death. Ever since, the Plussers have acted like Maoist revolutionaries seeking a rapid, radical overthrow of the establishment. Though a small minority of the A/S community, the Plusser cadres are intent on browbeating the recalcitrant masses into accepting the universal truths they have divined. Atheism Plus would better be known as Shining Path Atheism.
To date, the revolution has been an epic failure, but has succeeded in deepening and widening the rift, while tying up limited bandwidth that otherwise could have been applied to expanding and strengthening the A/S movement. Occasional efforts to bridge or at least narrow the gap have been stymied by the Plussers themselves. The large majority of FtB bloggers stifle open debate by heavily moderating their comment sections and maintaining extensive lists of banned commenters, especially the reviled “slymepitters”. This makes it impossible to even define the parameters of our disagreements. Like many who reject Atheism Plus, I myself was banned from Benson’s blog. After suggesting, in the most polite and deferential manner, that we just go our separate ways, Lucy van Pelt then blocked my follow-up comments, allowing her commentariat to insult me and twist my words with abandon.
When the prominent atheist activist, Michael Nugent, attempted to mediate a dialog between the opposing camps, the mendacious, conniving Stephanie Svan intentionally sabotaged the effort, before publicly admitting that had been her intention from the start. When it comes to perfidy, Steph, the Provos got nothin’ on you.
Widening the Rift
The very philosophical foundations of Atheism Plus place it at odds with skepticism. Not only do Plussers espouse fringe social & political positions, their core tenets, especially radical feminism, are derived from postmodernist woo incompatible with Science and Reason.
Thus we find Christina insisting that organized atheism expand its mission to assist young black American males oppressed by the “school-to-prison pipeline” and “racist police and drug policies”, even though a skeptical review of the evidence exposes these as non-existent, merely fabricated bits of SJW agit-prop.
FtB also promotes, via its website and online conference (sic), PoMo, anti-science rhetoric, such the assertion by the droll gonk, HJ Hornbeck (seconded by the insufferably prolix prat, Alex Gabriel), that binary sexes and sexual reproduction are mere social constructs.
Witness, too, PZ Myers and his protégé, Rebecca Watson, rejecting out-of-hand the entire field of evolutionary psychology — not on scientific, but rather, political dogmatic, grounds — only to have their case savaged in detail by none other than Stephen Pinker. By embracing neo-lamarckism, Myers only distances himself further from mainstream science. Myers’ recent disavowal of skepticism as a practice speaks volumes of his allegiance to postmodernism and radical feminism, and his determination to co-opt the atheist movement on their behalf.
Deepening The Rift
How could the chasm ever be spanned, so long as the Plussers — led by Myers, but aided & abetted by the demented fabulist, Carrie Poppy, by McCreight, by that dung beetle of gossip, Svan, and others — spread slander and anonymous tales of serial rape and sexual harassment about A/S luminaries such as Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, and DJ Grothe? When cooperation with the Plussers is contingent on blindly believing without question these evidence-free accusations? On accepting the ludicrous claim of attention-whore and professional victim, Melody Hensley, that Twitter either triggers PTSD and/or is the source of PTSD, all while she twitters eight hours a day about her twitter-induced PTSD? How can Plussers and Neats coexist, when the former declare the latter “hyper-skeptics” and “rape-enablers” for questioning the vague, unsubstantiated claims of sexual harassment by Karen Stollznow, even after she’s been exposed as a proven fabricator of false accusations, and an arrested domestic abuser who exhibits alarming, violent borderline behavior in public?
How is a ‘big tent’ to be erected in the face of the constant howling which bemoans the presence in A/S of libertarians, Republicans, old cishet white men, “chill girls”, “sister punishers”, “gender traitors”, “MRAs”, and assorted demons? Indeed, how can Plussers and Neats ‘agree to disagree’ and focus on the narrow, common ground of ‘not believing in gods’, when the Plussers repeatedly insist that is not acceptable? For just this week, Myers reiterated that atheism must “stand for something more than just making fun of god…. We can either make atheism mean something … or we can fade out and die away….”
Myers is just grasping at straws to justify his Kulturkampf. indeed, the surest way to kill the momentum of the atheist movement — momentum sparked, as it so happens, by those same ‘old, white men’ the Plussers seek to dethrone — is to saddle it with a controversial political agenda that most everyday atheists reject.
Myers leaves no doubt about his refusal to coexist: “I’m not making the choice that says we ignore the hidebound dogmatists and stiflingly loud haters in our midst. I’ve got lines that I won’t cross” — the “dogmatics” and “haters” being, in Myers manichaean worldview, anyone who disagrees with him in the slightest.
No Bridges, Please
The truth is, the rest of the A/S community cannot ‘agree to disagree’ with the Plussers, cannot coexist with them. And that is entirely their fault, for having launched Atheism Plus as a revolutionary movement bent on total, dictatorial domination of atheist activism.
Ophelia Benson has already revealed how she intends to make use of the joint statement — as a cudgel to silence any opposition. When Slymepit member Phil Giordana
warned on Facebook, that the joint statement would prove to be “another excuse for the mob to do as they please and cast away any semblance of rationality or honesty”, Benson replied, “[s]o people should keep on with death threats, rape threats….?” After Phil, a genuinely civil & even-tempered fellow, reminded Benson that he had never made any such threats, the vindictive Benson flat-out lied: “He’s thinking that because I don’t let him comment on my blog, he’s entitled to punish me with death threats, rape threats….” Utterly despicable behavior by Benson, yet entirely consistent with the Plussers’ penchant for bullying.
So please — no more joint statements, no more mediated dialogs, no ‘bridges’ to span the ‘rift’. While Atheism Plus and Atheism Neat may both share the word “atheism”, we are not talking about the same thing, do not have anywhere near the same ideals or objectives. The Plussers will never be content with a truce. Even if they were, they are an uniformly talentless, lazy, mentally & emotionally unbalanced crowd. They offer no value-add to the atheism movement, and their dogma is anathema to skepticism. The Plussers wanted this to be a fight to the death. I say, let’s finish it.
(c) 2014 by Matt Cavanaugh. All rights reserved.