I Get Mail – Sell Out

I used to read you when you  were on blogspot, how could you sell out? Now you ask for donations and accept money from advertising.

How could you sell out? What sort of a role model are you setting for other atheists from your community who you represented to sell out for money?

I won’t be reading your blog anymore.

I used to get around 40 hits per day on blogspot. The problem was it was not very visible. I was writing for myself. I did not represent anything really.

I only started doing any real representation after I moved here. It is only then that I started getting “keep it up” messages. I understand a handful of my old readers said they wanted nothing to do with me after I moved here because I betrayed principles and because I had a rough time with Atheism Plus (I don’t agree with their methodology. There is more than one way to catch a tiger an what works on the Siberian tiger may not work on a Bengal.)

So to move here was to be seen as a betrayal.

Except I was aware that not everyone here is the same. And so while I often disagree with other people, I disagreed for valid reasons. I wrote about Trayvon Martin in disagreement with people like Greta not because I know George was guilty of causing the death of a young man but because by the laws of Florida he was not. We are not a mob and this is what Justice is. The reality is that the real crime is the law that allows you to shoot people if you can prove that you felt unsafe. The law created this tragedy.

To put it in perspective. The Executions in Saudi Arabia are horrible but lawful. The executioner is a symptom of the problem. Likewise Zimmerman is merely the symptom  of a multitude of problems. Racism? Gun  Cult? Concealed Carry?

Then he was subject to tabloid media levels of journalism and a changing dialogue that often simply refused to understand that the problem with George Zimmerman was that he did nothing wrong because the law is broken. That the USA is made more unsafe by having random strangers with guns act out a fantasy encouraged by the gun lobby  of heroism and saving lives against a murky and shadowy threate..

Which is a different narrative to many people. And here is the awkward truth. If George wasn’t armed with a gun, Trayvon would have lived and George would not have attacked him. And that if George was not hispanic and looked white he would have probably been jailed and there would be no media circus. The only reason why it became a big deal was that George needed to be not guilty or else gun laws would have to really change.

In short.

Freethought Blogs has never ever been monolithic. The problem here is everyone reads PZ Myers and assumes we are all the same. Which is why I am a Biology Professor in the USA….

We are all different. We hold differeing views. We hold different tolerances to things too. We also hold different experiences. A few days ago I had to explain to Ophelia about Smegheads and how we (yes, that includes me) are Red Dwarf Fans. This was a show I grew up with and we were well aware of shows that tried to sneak stuff in the radar or indeed kitchen appliance companies with unfortunate names.

As for selling out?

I now get between 1500 to 2000 hits per day on average.

This equates to $2 a day. I get donations once in a while from readers but it averages out to around $2 a day.

This is my only income that I keep aside for luxuries when I get back. I cannot access this money on a regular basis. This sits in paypal till I can use it when I am in the UK.

You may think I would sell out for the price of a supermarket sandwich but you are mistaken.

You need to make it a Happy Meal or better.

This does not cost you money to look at my work. It does not make you lose anything and I hope it makes you gain something instead. However, you must realise that to begrudge me whatever portion of wealth your individual visit nets me is at best very peevish and petty.

It means that my words meant nothing too you in the first place and that you are ideologically against what soap box I chose to stand on. That you literally hate me because I share my apartment with someone you don’t like.

And that’s pretty dumb. You don’t have to agree with someone all the time. You can disagree. It’s just that you have to make your arguments sensible rather than about secret plans to rule atheism with a iron fist and a velvet glove.


  1. smrnda says

    I can understand people complaining about ‘selling out’ but calling your move here ‘selling out’ is like calling getting a job selling out.

    The other thing is, if people are fans, you’d assume they’d want you to get a bigger audience. If you hadn’t moved here, I doubt I’d have read a single word that you’ve written.

    And Red Dwarf. I still remember the amazing “backwards episode” on “nodnol”!

  2. firsttimereader says

    Avi, just one point. I saw an interview with Zimmerman’s parents and he has a mixed background, I think his mum might be from somewhere Indonesia way, judging by accent (but I’m no expert).

    Point is they are mixed and are very very clear that he has never been known to be racist and has been taught not to be. I mean they would say that. right?, but If that guy had any history or racism, the prosecution would have found it by now. I suspect.

    Oh, and isn’t smeghead a gendered slur?.

    You would indeed not last long at athiesmplus with that kind of attitude, young man.

  3. firsttimereader says

    Oh and a general request, could you expand in a future post about how you find the culture in India differs between the cities and the villages.

    The impression I have is that the government is spending a lot of money on shiny new universities in the cities, but not out in the sticks. Also, the “new middle class” seem to be getting a lot more benefit than the “working class”, if you forgive my British terminology, from the growth in the economy.

  4. says

    Just wanted to say that this was very well put, and that I’ve been reading A Million Gods pretty much since you started on FTB. I’d never heard of you before, and I’ve really been enjoying your writing. If this is selling out, then keep on doing it.

  5. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Oh, and isn’t smeghead a gendered slur?.

    No, not any more than ‘shithead’. Maybe one could argue that smegma is produced by women, but the ‘cheese’ formed inside unwashed foreskins has also long been called ‘smeg’ (here in the UK, anyway).
    And even if smeg were a gender-specific excretion, any gender could have it on their head, making ‘smeghead’, as I said at the start, no more gender specific than ‘shithead’.

    And it’s funny.

  6. firsttimereader says

    Acolyte of Sagan@6. Well the way that I have always understood it, is that it is a gendered slur against men. Not that I am offended, as a man, as I take the approach that gendered slurs are not inherently bad. They can be used to intimidate and bully people in some circumstances, of course.

    I have a lot to learn, and maybe the view here is that gendered slurs against women are bad, but those against men are OK?

    A gendered slur is a gendered slur isn’t it?, whichever way it goes.

    I do think it’s funny, and also the idea of Avi explaining to it someone…

    “well you see, you know that cheesy stuff that sometimes appears under the foreskin, it’s called smegma, right, and…”

  7. says


    It was a word that came up as part of a BBC Comedy show’s attempts to sneak stuff under the radar. The creators didn’t realise it had a medical meaning and instead used it like “frak” as a sort of stand in for “fuck”.

    So what the smegging smeg is smegging going on over here you smegging smeggers?

    It was so that they could swear in front of kids. It was literally getting crap under the radar.

    The BBC and indeed british shows as a whole have a habit of doing this. To see if they can get away with nuance. Captain Jack in Dr. Who was a great example of this.

    It’s not the homosexuality, but the blatant innuendo he manages to get away with (Remember. Dr. Who is aimed primarily at kids and teenagers.) In one instance, a totally nude Captain Jack pulls out a gun and surprises people with it. When they demand where he was hiding that the camera pans to him smiling before he shoots them… Kids would not get it. Adults would go “ohhhhhh!”

    When asked the writers said they just liked the word. In fact they attributed it to a company that makes kitchens.

    My house in the UK is furnished by Smeg.

    It’s hardly a gendered slur as much as a made up TV insult.

  8. Aliasalpha says

    You may think I would sell out for the price of a supermarket sandwich but you are mistaken.

    You need to make it a Happy Meal or better.

    Would you sell out for some toast?

    How about a muffin?

  9. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Oooh, you can’t beat a good muffin’ :-)

    Sorry, I seem to be channeling Julian Clary today.

  10. gshelley says

    I think part of it is a sense of entitlement.People seem to feel that if something is out there on the internet, they have the right to comment, or even have an opinion on whether it should be published. We saw it with Greta’s piece yesterday to an extent, where, even though she was very specific about not wanting a discussion, or anyone to post anything defending the verdict, regardless of what they felt about Zimmerman and what he did, people still went there and tried to make arguments supporting it.

  11. says

    Maybe it’s something of a symptom of capitalism, or backlash against it, that many people seem to think that to be altruistic it has to be done without gain, especially financial. Maybe it’s even something from Christian thought somewhere, about the evils of money?

    Anyway, I enjoy your writing, along with several others here at FTB. I understand writing is something that takes time and effort. I don’t begrudge compensation for that in the least. I mean, maybe if a bunch of you were getting rich off the proceeds I might be irked. But as it is it sounds woefully underpaid effort. Enough so I did a while back get around to a small subscription to FTB.

    My idea of selling out is that it wasn’t merely making money doing something you were passionate about, but actually betraying principles or other people to actively oppose what you had stood for in exchange for significant reward. So the accusation seems quite silly to me.

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