I Get Email, Atheism+ Edition


Minus additional ‘nyms, here is an email I received this weekend via the contact form on my blog.

Hi!

I’ve been a reader of FtB for a time now. I’m very much an atheist, humanist, and I strongly support feminist issues. I thought that Atheism+ was a brilliant idea. But then I smacked head-first into this wall:
http://www.reddit.com/r/atheismplus/comments/zwctq/so_i_just_watched_innocence_of_muslims/c68d7zr

I (as UnholyGeezer) was banned from http://www.reddit.com/r/atheismplus/ for daring to ask questions, and, ironically, for bringing up the subject of banning.

Yes, I know you have nothing to do with reddit. But this, exactly this, is the very reason that I’m “merely” an Atheist, and not an Atheist+.

I have never, ever called anyone a “cunt”. I have never, ever threatened to rape anyone, not even in jest. I fully support both feminism and any and all forms of equality. But to be met with censorship and banning? What can I say, except, goodbye?

I have now unsubscribed to /r/atheismplus. It’s a good idea, but very badly implemented. I understand that Atheism+ wishes to exclude bigots and misogyny. But to exclude any and all forms of critical questions and contradictory arguments? Not particularly inclusive, is it?

Well, I’m sorry, but, exclude me.

The email raised a few questions, even without my having looked at the Reddit thread in question.

  • If you already know I “have nothing to do with reddit”, why expect me to spend my time on your complaint about Reddit?
  • If you already don’t identify as Atheism+, why are you subscribed to the subreddit?
  • If you already don’t identify as Atheism+, why are you upset you can no longer comment there?
  • If you already don’t identify as Athiesm+, and your experience changed nothing, what am I supposed to be concerned about here?

And then I went to Reddit. Here’s the conversation in question.

bunabhucan: Even if one could argue the film is art/free speech etc. the fact is that the author lied about his identity and source of funding. He said he was a israeli Jewish property developer and the film cost $5m raised by 100 Jewish donors. He is in fact a Coptic Christian, the film cost $50-60k and the money came from his wife’s (Coptic Christian) Egyptian family. Why lie in such a way unless the intent is to provoke hatred? It’s contemptible.

Unholy Geezer:

It’s contemptible.

Yes, it is. It’s still free speech.

I’m not defending the “movie” in any way, but I can’t find any good reasons to ban it either without killing free speech. There is no right to not be offended. Any resulting violence is the fault of those doing the violence.

It’s time for those that so easily get “offended” to grow the hell up and get civilized with the rest of us.

So far, I’m not seeing any questions. You?

Elphaba_Is_Green [moderator]: Strawman arguments are not arguments in good faith. You’re the first person to suggest banning in this conversation. Everyone else is talking about whether it’s good speech, not whether it’s permissible speech. Please refrain from such dishonesty in the future.

Unholy Geezer:

Strawman arguments are not arguments in good faith.

Show me the straw man.

Everyone else is talking about whether it’s good speech

How is the perceived quality of the speech relevant?

Please refrain from such dishonesty in the future.

What dishonesty? Being the first to bring up a relevant point?

the fact is that the author lied about his identity and source of funding. He said he was a israeli Jewish property developer and the film cost $5m raised by 100 Jewish donors. He is in fact a Coptic Christian, the film cost $50-60k and the money came from his wife’s (Coptic Christian) Egyptian family.

How is this relevant at all? Honestly?

Why lie in such a way unless the intent is to provoke hatred?

False dichotomy.

Don’t talk to me about straw men or dishonesty.

Now I see questions. Of course, they all appear to amount to “Why aren’t you having the conversation I think you should be having?” And they’re mixed in with a bunch of orders. So Unholy Geezer here doesn’t want to identify as Atheism+; he just wants to run it.

Elphaba_Is_Green [moderator]: You just quoted nearly my entire comment but conveniently skipped over the part where I specifically named the strawman.

As to whether it’s relevant, it’s pretty much the entire conversation. That’s what this thread is about.

Unholy Geezer: So, where, specifically, did you name the straw man? Do you even know the meaning of “straw man”?

As to whether it’s relevant, it’s pretty much the entire conversation.

Well, excuuuse me for pissing on your circle jerk.

HelgaGPataki: “You’re the first person to suggest banning in this conversation. Everyone else is talking about whether it’s good speech, not whether it’s permissible speech”

koronicus [moderator]: Don’t let the door hit you.

Technically, there are more questions here. Technically. Practically, they consist of another demand and an insult.

I can’t imagine why Unholy Geezer wouldn’t have been welcome. Luckily, when he went to go complain on the AntiAthieismPlus subreddit, someone was ready to lay it out for him. For the record, this is not a comment from someone who likes Atheism+.

DavidNatan: Actually the mod was right, nobody was talking about banning the video.

The straw man in the case is you assuming that they support banning the video, because that makes it easier for you to have a pointless easy to win argument with them, over free speech.

You can condemn something without being of the position that it should be outlawed. That is the meaning of the word ‘contemptible’.

Maybe the AtheismPlus subreddit needs a new slogan. “Atheism+, proudly excluding those who wank in public.”

Comments

  1. danadamsky says

    I get that this person was being a jerk, and I, of course, agree with your initial assessment that their claims regarding the nature of their position(s) on Atheism+ are dubiously described at best (and also why they would think you would care about Reddit). However, I don’t see anything in the conversation that would make me think it was justifiable to ban them from posting. I also am not familiar with Reddit or its rules, so maybe we’re not the people to have this conversation. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like being dishonest or making fallacious arguments is enough of a reason to ban someone from a discussion forum (again, unless that’s specifically against their rules). At least, in that regard, I understand why this person would be upset. Then again, their generalizing that experience to all of Atheism+ is foolish and also fallacious. I think this person just needs to get a handle on their thought processes.

  2. says

    Surely this person was not banned? There must be more to it than an inability to spot their strawman and being pissy about it… Or they think being told to not let the door hit them on the way out is ‘banning’.

    More interesting is the question of why Stephanie is the one to complain to? is Stephanie the arbiter of atheism+ issues now Jen is taking a break? Maybe saying she would take on ‘more’ after Jens bullying off the internet was a mistake.

  3. says

    Any subreddit can operate by any moderation policy they want. The one at Atheism+ encourages on-topic conversation and discourages derailing-by-asshole. There are worse policies.

    Unholy Geezer added nothing to the conversation that was going on, acted as though he was part of an entirely different argument, and behaved in an entitled, hostile manner when it was pointed out. There’s no loss to the subreddit for getting rid of him. There is a loss to allowing that kind of behavior to run unchecked.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    For what it’s worth, I thought that the last sentence of Elphaba’s comment, “Please refrain from such dishonesty in the future” was unnecessary and over the line. Just because he got sidetracked or brought up an irrelavant issue doesn’t make him dishonest, just irrational. And at least in skeptical circles, for many people, being accused of dishonesty is the worst insult possible.

    Of course, that doesn’t excuse his immediate fallback on insults. And if he was going to jump from “I had a snit with one of the moderators” to “I reject your movement and everything associated with it,” perhaps we don’t need his critical thinking skills anyway.

  5. says

    @brucegee1962, some people seem to take small slights on the internet very badly and quickly lose any critical thinking skills as a result. I suppose it is analogous to the age old thing about how people behave on the pavement vs on the roads. The more impersonal the environment is the more personal people will take insults.

  6. says

    Or, you know, the kind of person who writes an email to a stranger completely unconcerned with the situation to complain that he isn’t allowed to post his musings absolutely everywhere on the internet is the same sort of person who instantly gets hostile when those musings are treated as anything less than utter pearls of wisdom.

    I don’t think we need some sort of general human principle to explain what happened here.

  7. jose says

    A merciless smackdown.

    I don’t know why this person complains to atheism+ advocates when even people at the anti board has explained to him the error of his ways.

  8. simonsays says

    Not surprising. Here’s another sneaky example from a different site by someone of similar persuasion:

    Even ‘New atheists’ of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have expressed concern at the unconscionable conduct of certain individuals behind Atheism Plus

    Source (note the domain): http://atheismplus.net/

  9. says

    For all the talk of “hurting the movement,” it seems that so many of the “movement’s” brightest lights are apparently more interested in shutting down A+ than they have EVER been about doing anything atheism-related. There’s so much of this “I don’t like you folks, so I’m going to obsessively read all of your blogs, join all of your websites, comment constantly about how much I hate you, start websites of my own to say how much I hate you, send you emails complaining about things you may or may not have any control over… because YOU’RE SO DIVISIVE AND TAKING AWAY FROM ATHEISM!”

  10. Loqi says

    I know you have nothing to do with my car, but one of my new tires went flat. This, exactly this, is the very reason I’m merely an atheist, not an Atheist+.

  11. says

    There’s so much of this “I don’t like you folks, so I’m going to obsessively read all of your blogs, join all of your websites, comment constantly about how much I hate you, start websites of my own to say how much I hate you, send you emails complaining about things you may or may not have any control over… because YOU’RE SO DIVISIVE AND TAKING AWAY FROM ATHEISM!”

    So true! I also like how A+ manages to be both 1. just a small group of whiners who nobody likes and raise concerns that don’t matter, and 2. ZOMFSM TAKING OVER ATHEISM!!!! It’s quite impressive.

  12. eric says

    danadamsky @1:

    However, I don’t see anything in the conversation that would make me think it was justifiable to ban them from posting.

    While I don’t personally get upset about swearing, if reddit wants to ban people who respond to an above board answer to their question with “excuse me for pissing on your circle jerk,” that seems fine to me. Their policy might not be the policy I would choose, but such a policy certainly seems within the realm of the reasonable.

  13. says

    @sisu

    So true! I also like how A+ manages to be both 1. just a small group of whiners who nobody likes and raise concerns that don’t matter, and 2. ZOMFSM TAKING OVER ATHEISM!!!! It’s quite impressive.

    Probably because the sentiment came from the same group of people who hate FtBs so replacing A+ with FtBs in your statement above works just as well. Also small group… A+ forum 1586 members, slime pit forum 221 users. Argumentum ad populum maybe but one small group of whiners calling A+ a small group of whiners is not pretty.

    Improbable Joe makes a great point – my main problem with Phawrongula is none of the bollocks on there but the waste of time it represents. Obviously somewhat hypocritical since commenting on blogs could also be seen as a waste of time ;-) If A+ delivers, and the scribe stuff was a good start, it will make them look even sillier than they do already.

  14. Rodney Nelson says

    Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort #13

    The thing I noticed about A+ is that the only people making it divisive are the people who are trying to make it divisive so they can turn around and say “See! A+ is divisive!”

    But A+ is divisive. Bigots and assholes are excluded.

  15. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    There’s so much of this “I don’t like you folks, so I’m going to obsessively read all of your blogs, join all of your websites, comment constantly about how much I hate you, start websites of my own to say how much I hate you, send you emails complaining about things you may or may not have any control over… because YOU’RE SO DIVISIVE AND TAKING AWAY FROM ATHEISM!” YOU’RE NOT LETTING ME RUN THE CLUB, LIKE I’M SUPPOSED TO RUN IT BECAUSE PENIS

    That’s what’s really happening here. They’re pissed off that they can’t join the club and/or can’t run the club. That’s why all the do is imitate it.

  16. elphabagreen says

    Hello! I’m one of the mods you quoted.

    I just wanted to drop in and apologize for causing you to get mail like this.

    I also want to respond to those who worry that a ban is too severe a punishment for this. I have a few responses to that.

    1. Most people who spend a decent amount of time on reddit have at least one alt account. It’s impossible to actually stop a person from posting to a subreddit. Because of this, banning is mostly a symbolic gesture to demonstrate what is acceptable and what is not.

    2. If the person wants to keep posting from that account, bans are appealable.

    3. Atheism+ is extremely unpopular on reddit and so we tend to attract a lot of hostile comments. In order to make the regular posters feel comfortable continuing to post, we have to demonstrate that we’re not going to let hostile comments stand.

    Anyway, hope you’re all having a good a good day :)

  17. elphabagreen says

    Okay, then I’ll just take this opportunity to let you know I’m a big fan :) This is the first time I’ve stopped lurking, though.

  18. John Brown says

    So, you had what appeared to be a person reach out to you in good faith because you are a person who is (fairly or unfairly)associated with atheismplus in an attempt to understand what he could have possibly done wrong, and your response is to…shit all over him in your blog?

    You had a person on your side of the debate, someone who was apparently very sympathetic to your views and seemed to be genuinely confused about what went down, and you mock him and tell him to go pound sand?

    Yeah, you’re totally not divisive. With every person of good will you treat this way, you in turn turn away tens more.

    Congratulations!

  19. says

    Would you care to quote the part of the letter that suggests Unholy Geezer had the tiniest inkling that he might have done something wrong? Otherwise, you’re having a conversation that isn’t part of the real world.

  20. John Brown says

    When one expresses incredulity at being banned, they are implying that they having problems understanding why the ban took place. If the ban took place as a direct result of something the person said, then the inference to any nuanced minded person should be, this person is wondering what they did to deserve such a ban. Or, in other words, this person is wondering what they did wrong.

    Of course, like I said, that’s all nuance. It’s a little something that rational people take into account when dealing with the real world.

  21. Greta Christina says

    Rule of thumb: If someone says, “They banned me just for asking questions/ disagreeing!”, chances are good they were banned for being an asshole.

  22. says

    It’s a little something that rational people take into account when dealing with the real world.

    Says the guy who’s been tweeting on the #atheismplus hashtags several times a day and treating the other campers there as though they were acting like rational human beings. Uh-huh.

    John, you’re talking about things you’ve made up in your head. The other tweeters you’re conversing with are encouraging you to believe the things you’ve made up. This is not a healthy situation. Just saying.

  23. says

    Greta, that. I had a pretty good idea what I was going to see when I clicked on his Reddit link. I didn’t quite expect it to be so blatant and so up front, though.

  24. Sleeper says

    No sorry… I DON’T get where this person is being a jerk. He stated a legitimate opinion and then a moderator overreacted as poor moderators do. On any blog worth its salt, hurting peoples feelings is not an objective nor a great consideration when in a debate or discussion. Particularly not in lieu of making a valid point. You, like religists, do not have a right “Not to be offended”, particularly in open discussion.

    As far as the subject of banning the movie and the piffy stir it seemed to cause, it is not a large step from ‘is it permissible?’ to talk of banning. A logical step in the discussion and a poor point to exercise your moderator muscle on.

  25. says

    Sleeper, that’s still the same strawman. Noone was asking whether it was permissable.

    From what I read, UnholyGeezer went into a community being heavily attacked by trolls and then:
    1) immediately makes the most obvious strawman derailing possible
    2) when called on it, doubles down
    3) proceeds to describe the community as a circlejerk
    4) after getting banned, without a moment’s consideration as to how that could have been handled better, finds an opposing community in which to complain about this oppression

    As far as I can tell, at no point does UnholyGeezer even attempt to not act like a troll. In the context, the mod’s actions seem entirely understandable.

  26. Sleeper says

    Thanks for Playing?

    This is my first day delving into the online dramatics of these FTBlogs and first visit since having it all brought to my attention recently. I had never heard of FTB, Atheism+, elevator gate, or any atheist-made controversy playing out here.

    Yeah, I don’t know who john is or any of you for that matter, but I pretty much agree with his assessment. It was almost as if this comment was used for political purposes rather than being treated with any useful insight.

    My assessment of this blog site and the bloggers so far is not flattering. Like reality TV, this site has seemed, in a very short time, to have brought out the worst in some atheists by allowing politics, man bashing, feminist bashing, sensationalism, PC’ness run amok and not just a little of the old “inflating blog numbers by creating controversy” ploy.

    So the good news from my perspective way up here in my rural community of 4,500 in Canada?

    You are doing nothing here to affect the real world!

    And absolutely nothing that helps in the real work of fighting faith based stupidity from taking over EVERY government on the planet.

    Thanks for ‘playing’… (a Nero reference would be obvious right?)

  27. says

    Ah, I get it. Sleeper identifies with the guy who wants to wander in with no idea what’s going on and be treated like a sage. It all makes sense now.

    Yeah, no more playing, Sleeper.

  28. ezekiel says

    “Rule of thumb: If someone says, “They banned me just for asking questions/ disagreeing!”, chances are good they were banned for being an asshole.”

    Well, I guess that makes me an asshole then.

    Thanks for the clarification, I thought for a moment I was a hateful, mysogynistic, priveleged bigot for questioning the necessity of a whole new playground, with exactly the same problems in it.

  29. says

    Well, if you ended up banned after that thread you tried to hog at Greta’s, yeah, my recollection is that you were acting like an asshole. Don’t do it here by dragging in your grievances from elsewhere.

  30. ezekiel says

    Yeah, and I apologized twice for taking things off-topic, and still get blocked and called an asshole (among other things) for voicing my opinion.

  31. eric says

    And exercise in compare and contrast, mainly for amusement.

    So, you had what appeared to be a person reach out to you in good faith [John Brown]

    “Excuse me for pissing on your circle jerk”

    in an attempt to understand what he could have possibly done wrong,[John Brown]

    “Excuse me for pissing on your circle jerk”

    someone who was apparently very sympathetic to your views [John Brown]

    “Excuse me for pissing on your circle jerk”

    No sorry… I DON’T get where this person is being a jerk. [Sleeper]

    “Excuse me for pissing on your circle jerk”

  32. julian says

    eric, that is my new favorite comment.

    My assessment of this blog site and the bloggers so far is not flattering.

    Ignore the distinct lack of concern or interest on my face. I do in fact care, Sleeper. I care that a snide dismissive twit will never be seen on the same forums I frequent.

    ((I wonder if I should stop volunteering and donating? I mean, Sleeper has declared me so toxic they’re grateful I will never be able to impact their hometown. I’m conflicted, people.))

  33. smef says

    My assessment of this blog site and the bloggers so far is not flattering. Like reality TV, this site has seemed, in a very short time, to have brought out the worst in some atheists by allowing politics, man bashing, feminist bashing, sensationalism, PC’ness run amok and not just a little of the old “inflating blog numbers by creating controversy” ploy.

    Bullshit and lies, bullshit and lies. It’s become so familiar now, like an old crusty blanket.

  34. doubtthat says

    I enjoy how everyone is just a callow, naive internet wanderer, yet they’re immediately able to regurgitate the trite FtB insults tossed out over and over again.

    “Hey, I’ve never heard of your movement, you guys ever considered that women are just dumber than men genetically?”

    *justifiably angry responses*

    “Hey, that was an honest question, I guess that’s the FtB/A+ groupthink/circlejerk…”

    I thought you had never heard of it before. Could that be a dishonest attempt to gain sympathy? No, these hardcore intellectual austerians would resort to emotional manipulation to get their point across.

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