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Jun 03 2010

Well, shoot! He’s not coming to my party!

I heard back from “Mr. Totalitarian!” after I invited him to check out his new fame at our blog. Here is what I got back, along with my response…

Thats excellent news Tracie,

I am glad to see you feel need to self inflate your own ego by publicising the ‘idiocy’ of others. I find it interesting that an agnostic would make it onto your blog. Do I represent poisonous ideas also just because I claim not to understand something?

Does the DPRK alienate people who represent poisonous ideas? That is, by defination, they treat them as hostile targets? Yes. I think it does. Does not North Korea see itself as an enlightened state? I’d say yes it does. How else could they justify their society. It’s okay to admit your wrong sometimes you know, it doesn’t hurt. Just retract that statement & I’ll pray to all the various Gods that your soul be saved. Joke.

Carrying great pity for you

“Mr. Totalitarian!”

My reply:

At least I don’t fear exposing my ideas to public scrutiny…? Coward.

Seriously, you’re just peaches!

Thanks again!

-th

Also, please note how I NAILED that he threw down “agnostic” in his first e-mail to us as a shield. He seems to think that idiocy spouted by someone who avoids the label “theist” is somehow sacred to AE? Clearly he missed the “foolish atheists” episode…?

35 comments

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  1. 1
    Muriel

    Funny how conversations with theists (or adherents to irrational beliefs in general) tend to quickly spiral into this surreal dimension where you're wondering which one is the fool because you cannot imagine how communication can fail so fundamentally.(I'm a newly acquired fan of your tv show and first time visitor to your blog. You people are great! Just saying.)

  2. 2
    James Francesco

    I wonder if he can explain how all totalitarian regimes are based on some form of religion, not secularism.But then, you couldn't expect any real explanation of anything from someone so backwards they think it's freedom when their ideas cannot be questioned while thinking criticizing them is totalitarian.Also, how can you ever expect civil discourse from a backhand-complimenting ass who uses "dearest woman" and "I'm glad [you inflated] your ego"? To put simply, what a douche.

  3. 3
    tracieh

    Thanks, Muriel,and welcome!

  4. 4
    Jeremy

    I love his comparison of you posting the e-mail exchange to the blog to North Korea in regards to alienating people with poisonous ideas. Because public criticism and ridicule is the exact same as imprisonment and execution.

  5. 5
    tracieh

    Jeremy:Exactly. And what's more interesting is that when he first added a definition of "alienate" it seemed to me that it was defined as _creating_ hostility–like if I made you feel hostile toward _me_ somehow–in someone else. But in this post clearly he's saying I view stupid people with hostility. And I'm curious where he gets that from, because I didn't say anywhere in my dialog that I felt hostility toward stupid (or even evil) people.So, is he saying that criticism and hostility are the same thing? That's where he must be projecting, because there are many things I think are stupid, but that I don't have any sort of emotional hostility toward…for example, this guy who was writing to me…?I find him stupid, a bit funny and kinda sad. I'm not "hostile" toward him, though, on any level?

  6. 6
    Dorkman

    I actually think that your exchanges with the guy might have been a little bit much. It seems like you were attacking other people who have made similar statements, without actually engaging with his own statements. If you'll excuse the expression, it seems like you're punishing him for the sins of others. I know you guys get a LOT of email so your patience with the "I'm just asking questions" faux-agnostic crowd is probably wafer-thin. But I honestly didn't read anything in his initial email, as you posted it, to warrant the surprising hostility you answered him with, and when he started to get rude toward the end of the previous exchange, I feel like you'd pushed him there. Maybe there's more to the story that I don't know re: your exchanges. But I think it's worth keeping in mind that, despite the dishonest people who use such tactics, some people honestly are "just asking questions."

  7. 7
    Pawel

    *GASP* I hope that Kim Jong-Tracie doesn't send me to a labor camp!It is just so refreshing to see North Korea brought up to try to "win" a contest of ideas instead of, say, Nazi Germany or something. That's some progress…Seriously, just digging in your heels and saying, "Nuh-uh!" is this guy's only tactic once challenged. READ AND PROCESS THE RESPONSES, GENIUS!

  8. 8
    Robin Lionheart

    Ha, Mr. Totalitarian's latest message reminds me of Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourettes.Aha! You said an enlightened society would not embrace Nazis and racists! North Korea thought they were an enlightened society! You're Kim Jong Il!

  9. 9
    tracieh

    Dork:>to warrant the surprising hostility you answered him with, and when he started to get rude toward the end of the previous exchange, I feel like you'd pushed him there.I don't know how I could have been "hostile" since I felt no hostility toward him. He asked why atheists talk down to people, and I explained. As others have noted en masse, the exchange was tame.He blew a gasket. I have no control over how others react to me…? He is under no obligation to care what I think of him. So even if I had been rude, his reaction is his decision.I'd say my first large notes to him were both civil and not pointed. I might say that sometimes when people are talking about "other people" they really are talking about "other people."I'd say if I called Cameron Diaz a "dog" she'd likely not flinch or lose any sleep over it. But if I were to hurl that comment toward someone who is not considered generally attractive, they might feel hurt, and people would rightly see me as an ass. Rightly, because people are stuck with looks; but stupid, when it's willful, as in the case with this guy, is self-imposed. He _can_ fix this, but he _won't_. So, if he feels the sting of warranted criticism, again, that's his choice, but certainly not my _fault_.

  10. 10
    tracieh

    Dork:Just to add an example someone noted on FB a moment ago to demonstrate: How many times in my responses did I explicitly note that I am in favor of everyone's right to say and believe what they like without threat against them? Repeatedly.And yet, he keeps talking about "alienating" in some vein of hostility and totalitarianism?Name one totalitarian regime that allows open free speech on all topics publicly by anyone without state reprisal?He is utterly discarding what I _say_ and building a ridiculous hysterical strawman no matter how many times I correct him and tell him that the position he's assigning is not an accurate one.This is not an honest person who is interested in dialog. He's on a monologue. He doesn't like criticism–he likens it to being dragged off by blackshirts–literally. And that's not _my_ problem–it's his. People criticize me ALL THE TIME for my views. According to _MY_ definition of "alienate"–I am TOTALLY alienated in this society (in the US, where atheists are the least trusted minority). And yet, I don't whine about "people shouldn't criticize me." Go for it–criticize away. Call me on TV and criticize me publicly if you think you have grounds…? Send me e-mails telling me I'm worthy of hell, immoral, evil, loveless…I don't scream that nobody should be allowed to be critical of me…? That would be assinine. That's what Patrick Greene was into. And, as noted previously–he was mocked by theists and atheists, alike.Criticism is not a problem. And it's nothing to throw a horseshoe over…? But this guy is into misrepresentation and dishonesty–not learning and open dialog. At the point I saw he was "unreachable"–I gave up trying to reach, and made use of him as a lesson to others. As I said in the letters, if I had a dime for every time someone wrote in to us to say "that theist looked like such an ass, and it made me realize what I sound like!"If someone learns something from "Total"'s implosion, then I've done a public service.

  11. 11
    MJ

    At least he did respond. When I'm in a conversation with a theist online, most of the times they stop responding after a while. @ Muriel: I know precisely what you mean. I have that all the time. At some point they are contradicting themselves, which forces them to just 'don't understand' you.

  12. 12
    George From NY

    Does the DPRK alienate people who represent poisonous ideas?All together now!I'm… so… ronery…

  13. 13
    rrpostal

    Dorkman- I understand partially what you are saying. But his initial comments were not nearly as honest and tame as you seem to think. It was a dumb question asked for an even dumber reason. Like Tracie said, if he really wanted to know the answer to his question, it can be researched pretty easily. Why bother Tracie with such a harmless "gosh I'm just sayin'" type question if it wasn't to wedge a really dumb argument about "god is the reason we recognize beauty"? I'd much rather he had just said so, instead of the completely duplicitous "I really am agnostic but evolution is wrong because of (something I totally don't care enough to research)" routine.And then he accuses her of being condescending. Nope, sorry. I think he was angry right from the start and wasn't pushed into anything. Even if he was, he dropped all pretense of being able to read and comprehend even the most basic response.

  14. 14
    Sully

    TRACY FOR THE WIN

  15. 15
    Jeremy

    Dorkman said: It seems like you were attacking other people who have made similar statements, without actually engaging with his own statements. If you'll excuse the expression, it seems like you're punishing him for the sins of others. Actually, Tracie did address the e-mailer's statements. Where it may look like she failed to do so is because she responded to his tactics instead (i.e. what he was saying as opposed to what he said). As she pointed out, in a polite manner, the answers to his question could have easily been discovered on his own if he had put even just a little effort into researching it himself. That he did not strongly indicated that he had no real interest in the answers to the questions he posed. If he had at least phrased his questions in a "you seem to know about this stuff, where might I find this information" form it might have been different.

  16. 16
    tracieh

    Jeremy:Agreed. "Total" had already drawn conclusions based on ignorance, with no signs of having made any effort to investigate the area of study that was the foundation of his leaps of logic.It would be like me saying, "You know, I don't now all that much about virtual particles, but I think something like god must be behind them…?It makes no sense whatsoever. Like Matt often notes, he wants to be addressed as though he's not completely ignorant, but he makes not the slightest effort to actually cure his ignorance.To say more than "I'm ignorant about human aesthetics…and I'm really baffled by it," is the only thing he could justifiably assert. But look at where he took it. He's got this "theory" of what causes human aesthetics, including that evolution is inherently flawed (and apparently researchers in the field haven't clued into his brilliant criticism), and he hasn't ever even done the basic research online to see what is actually currently known in this area.That deserves ZERO respect from anyone. You don't build causal concepts out of absolute ignorance…? That's idiotic.

  17. 17
    George From NY

    Oh, I cannot resist…Does the DPRK alienate people who represent poisonous ideas? That is, by defination, they treat them as hostile targets? Yes. I think it does.And well it should. You see, Mr. Total, ideas like due process and the rule of law, human and property rights, personal privacy, freedom of speech, democratic accountability etc. are poisonous to Kim Jong Il's regime. Lethally venomous, in fact.People who advocate such things are hostile targets of Kim and the State he rules.But your clumsy Godwinning is not the point.The point is: You previously claimed that ideas themselves are not poisonous – only their implementation. Remember? Yet this time you don't put scare quotes around "poisonous ideas" – you employ the term straightforwardly as if there is no debate about it.Wonderful. Does it hurt when you punch yourself in the nose like that?

  18. 18
    Murphy

    All together now! I'm… so… ronery… Man I love George… Just out of interest, you haven't called the show in a while. Any reason? Cause I think its a bit disappointing. You're one of the few atheists that actually calls in with interesting dialogue, rather than the usual fan fair, rambling monologues, or to test a new counter-apologetic they've come up with that 9/10 times just doesn't make sense. Not that I'm passing judgement on these callers personally, it just doesn't make for terribly compelling television.

  19. 19
    Michael Nam

    Hmmm…as someone of Korean descent, I think there's a world of difference between ridiculing stupid IDEAS and the North Korean penchant for imprisoning or executing PEOPLE for having ANY differing ideas. Ask my grandfather if he would have preferred an insulting email from Kim Il Sung to being forced to flee to Seoul in the June of 1950 over a disagreement regarding political ideologies.

  20. 20
    tracieh

    Michael:Thank you SO MUCH. I was in the shower this a.m., where I actually do a lot of thinking. And I thought of the author of one of my all time favorite books, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He spent time in Russian prison camps and wrote about Gulags. And I thought EXACTLY what you just said. It was something like "I wish Solzhenitsyn was still alive, so Total could visit him and tell him how much he relates to Solzhenitsyn's experiences in the Russian camps–as he's been called an idiot by Tracie."

  21. 21
    tracieh

    Oh, and also Michael–and everyone here–I'm happy to see you all involved in public dialog and not afraid to discuss and put yourselves out there for critical response. Give yourselves a pat on the back. There are far too many people who think that critical speech shouldn't be exercised. Total isn't the only person out there. I actually did a program on "intolerance" and how often that label is levied at people who merely criticize, and do nothing to halt anyone else from believing, saying or exercising their rights and freedoms. If all I'm doing is being criticized or insulted, but I can do what I like–feel free to not like what I do, and say things about it. I'm still doing it. So, I don't care…?

  22. 22
    Jimbo Slice

    Well done Tracie… will you marry me?

  23. 23
    Guillaume

    He just throws in North Korea without much understanding of how such tyranny is maintained. That is a mistake made by many theists, and an attack as cheap and as inaccurate as the "evolutionism led to Nazism" crap.

  24. 24
    George From NY

    Geoff,Funny you should ask, since the estimable Tracie and I were discussing this very thing a few days back on chat – that is, before her descent into brutal totalitarian oppression!I told her that I understood why the hosts were asking "attaboy" callers to stay away and keep the lines and show time clear for theists and such.Still, I continued, I wonder if they don't just wind up wasting time in other ways. The theists who do call are all bong-hit bozos ("God is, like, cosmic and stuff") or ignoramuses ("There are two testaments?!") which is annoying enough. Only now we seem to be getting the half-assed philosophy crackpots to boot. The result has been the show turning into a mix of Ontology for Dummies and Apologetics 101 with the hosts reminding one of police negotiators talking jumpers down from the ledge.Tracy's apt rejoinder was that, indeed, this is what many people need. You and I may well roll our eyes in disgust when argumentum ad consequentiam is deployed for the 1,357th time but others do benefit from seeing it knocked down and taken apart properly.I could yak for hours with Don about the religious meme thing, pull the Daniel prophecies apart with Matt, talk epistemological 'shop' with Tracie and so on. (I should be kept well away from Jeff, Russell and Denis lest the entire show turn into a tech and gaming bull session.)Cui bono? There is arguably far more utility and benefit to the TAE audience in covering the basics, though it may exasperate jaded debate vets such as we.So, that's why I made myself scarce.Were I in Austin, though, I'd love to sit in for the NP show if they'd let me. I think we'd have a blast. Just imagine the political fights Russell and I could get into.

  25. 25
    Michael Nam

    Solzhenitsyn's book is a great example. It's a major pet peeve of mine when variants of Godwin's Law get thrown around so often that it diminishes the experiences of people who truly suffered for either presenting dissenting ideas or for just appearing to be different.Also, sometimes I wonder how I'd be able to survive in this world if people didn't call me on my (occasionally) stupid ideas. Oh well, back to trolling the Huffington Post.

  26. 26
    ls

    >The result has been the show turning into a mix of Ontology for Dummies and Apologetics 101 with the hosts reminding one of police negotiators talking jumpers down from the ledge.<Hear hear! I too yearn for the Good Old Days when only quality idiots called into the show and recited good cliche's, vacuous arguments and platitudes into the phone.But seriously folks, ;), George exhibits his nominal improvisational genius here – he's completely right in my view, on both counts. I've tried only twice to call into the show and failed to get through both times – but looking back, that was actually a good thing. In neither case did I really have anything truly inflammatory or interesting to say. I did have a couple of supporting points I could have made, but none of those wouldn't have already been covered with much greater skill and scholarship by the hosts in either case. So my policy now is to watch and learn, and leave the lines open for the crackpots. Let Tracie and the crew take 'em down (and yes I'd love to see George on the show as a guest host).LS

  27. 27
    tracieh

    I will say we got an e-mail today from an ex-believer Hindu–which is a rare thing. He asked about calling, and I told him that while we normally don't encourage atheist calls, his ex-Hindu perspective might be something new and different…? I hope he calls.

  28. 28
    George From NY

    I shiva with anticipation, Tracie.

  29. 29
    Mark B

    "his ex-Hindu perspective might be something new and different…?"Does he disbelieve ALL of them? Or maybe just Vishnu? Sorry, couldn't help myself.

  30. 30
    Spoondoggle

    Sweet mother of cheese…Dear Mr Totalitatian,The problem is not that you claim not to understand something, the problem is that you think admitting a lack of understanding lends credence to the idea of god or, "some divine equation."The other problem is not so much that your view in this matter is incorrect, but that you cannot abide to have this pointed out. One might almost call your reaction to criticism a totalitarian reaction… if one were to overreact.Oh, and to be conscious that you are ignorant is indeed a great step toward knowledge, but only if you accept your ignorance, rather than using it as a springboard to leap to unsupported conclusions.Yours in totalitarian disdain and contempt,Mr Spoon

  31. 31
    Ing

    "I shiva with anticipation, Tracie."I really Vishnu wouldn't do that, George.

  32. 32
    Ing

    ALso did he explain how he justifies wanting free uncritical exchange of ideas (if we don't criticize and analyse the ideas wtf's the point?), while giving you the eqvuivlent of "get back in the kitchen". Hysteria, btw, he is correct by technicality that by its original definition could only be shown by women. It was a bs victorian diagnosis of a woman's unusual emotional state…similar to that mental illness slaves got where they wanted to escape.

  33. 33
    Murphy

    @GeorgeWere I in Austin, though, I'd love to sit in for the NP show if they'd let me. I think we'd have a blast. Just imagine the political fights Russell and I could get into. Yeah, thats actually another thing i've missed on the NP since shilling left. I wouldn't describe myself at all as conservative. Well, maybe about some things. Overall I'm probably somewhere slightly to the left of the middle. But shilling used to bring allot of good stuff to the table that I wouldn't have ever thought of myself, and I think since he's left, the political coverage of the show has become slightly unbalanced. A bit of George Vs Russell intellectual bloodsport would probably do some good.

  34. 34
    Afterthought_btw

    Re: the comments about the callers for the show, & the lower grade theists.This is why I love it when the shows have a good topic as well as calls. There are times when I find myself wincing at the absurdity of the shows calls, and find it all a bit unfulfilling, but when these a topic, then there is also a bit of intellectually stimulating talk too.I don't know about other people, but sometimes there's only so much craziness I can take at one time

  35. 35
    Brittany

    In defense of Dork's assertion, I would say that the hostility he is picking up on comes from the fact that the exchange lasted so long. Yes, for an internet conversation, both of you were being very polite. But it should be known, to everyone, that people tend to read things on the internet as if someone is spitting in their face. Also, it kind of seemed like the conversation broke down into, "I'm going to get the last word in!" Here's what I think happened. He put forward an argument he thought would stump you. However, when it didn't and he realized he made a mistake he tried his hardest to show how you're 'wrong' too. If you had argued much longer no doubt he would have got you to say something stupid and then used it against you. Then you would apologize and he could conclude, "See we're both equally flawed!"I think next time you should just ignore people like this. Send one message…direct him to where he can get information…and leave it there. As for posting the conversation on the blog…It would be rude if you published an argument between you and a friend on here, right? However, he isn't your friend and he e-mailed the 'blog tracie' and he should expect things would get posted to the blog. Certainly, other dumb e-mail exchanges have made it on here, no? Does it make it right? Probably not. Should he have expected something different. No. Was any exchange past the first e-mail a waste of time? Oh, yeah…arguing with the dumb, or ignorant, is always a waste of time. Always remember, arguing with stupid people is useless cause they bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.

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