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Feb 01 2012

“Evil in one of its purest forms”

Are we seeing a new trend? A new variety of passive-aggressive accommodationist mendacious gnu-bashing?

Ray Moscow alerted me to a new* entry in the genre at something called The Slacktiverse by someone called “Froborr.” It starts with: I’m an atheist. That’s my identity. It would be traumatic to change that. It’s just as traumatic to change the other way around. It ends with: Therefore, Greta Christina and other overt atheists are evil.

There’s a lot in between, of course, but that’s where it ends up.

Greta Christina posted last month[1] that, “For many atheists, our main goal is persuading the world out of religion.” She goes on in the same post to establish herself in favor of that position:

We don’t want to see this happen by law or violence or any kind of force, of course. But we think religion isn’t just mistaken. We think it’s harmful. Some of think it’s appallingly harmful. Some of us think it’s inherently harmful: that the very qualities that make religion unique are exactly what make it capable of doing terrible harm. What’s more, we see religion as not just hurting atheists. We see it as hurting billions of believers. So we’re working towards a world where it no longer exists.

So, according to Greta Christina, her primary goal as an atheist is to make most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of losing their faith, so that they can then be better (read: more Greta Christina-like) people with truer (read: more similar to Greta Christina’s) beliefs. And I should be okay with this, because she promises not to use legal coercion or violence to bring it about.

I am not okay with this.

The post in question is What Are The Goals of the Atheist Movement? (Why is there a footnote instead of a hyperlink? What’s that about? The hyperlink is a convention for a reason: it’s much easier. What on earth is the point of reverting to the print convention?)

Now, notice that Froborr misrepresents what Greta said, immediately below the passage where she said it. She said “we’re working towards a world where it no longer exists” and Froborr misrepresents that as “mak[ing] most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of losing their faith.” Here’s the mistake: working towards a world where religion no longer exists means just that, not working towards a world where everyone has been converted from theism to atheism. There’s a whole spectrum of ways that can happen. One is that atheism becomes more visible and available, and people who are lukewarm or doubtful or closeted feel more free to become atheist or secular or humanist (or all three). Another is that as that happens, more children grow up without pressure to be theist. Another is that many people are persuaded by atheist arguments but the process is not traumatic or an experience of “losing” something, but a liberation or a revelation of vast possibilities. And then over all, there is no actual missionary activity. There is public discussion; there is not knocking on the front door with a tract. There are books; there are not atheist gangs invading churches and mosques.

Froborr ends up with:

You do not have a right to make others suffer for your beliefs.

No one has that right. Ever.

If Greta Christina’s assessment of religion were correct–if all religious belief is both false and inherently harmful–then religion would be not only a mental illness, but the most widespread mental illness in history. But even if that were true (and I do not believe it is), you do not have a right to cure people by force unless they are demonstrably an immediate danger to themselves or others.

I cannot reiterate this enough: Proselytizing is yet another word for making people suffer in order to transform them into what you think they should be, for no other reason than because they are not what you think they should be.

What Greta Christina advocates–what any atheist advocates when they suggest “increasing the numbers of atheists” as a laudable goal, what any adherent of any religion advocates when they suggest “increasing the number of members of my religion”–is evil in one of its purest forms.

Evil in one of its purest forms.

Extraordinary.

*New but brand-new; it’s dated January 16 thus pre-dates Be Scofield’s similar piece.

148 comments

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  1. 1
    ewanmacdonald

    You heard it here first: debate is evil in one of its purest forms.

  2. 2
    eric

    So, according to Greta Christina, her primary goal as an atheist is to make most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of losing their faith,

    Froborr is making the classic economic blunder of ignoring opportunity cost. The cost of losing ones faith cannot be considered in a vacuum, but must be weighed against the cost of keeping it.

  3. 3
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Or, this:

    So, according to a drug dependency counselor, her primary goal as a rehab supervisor is to make most of the world’s drug addicts suffer the trauma of drug withdrawal, so that they can then be better((read: more sober) people with healthier (read: more similar to sober people’s) lifestyles. And I should be okay with this, because she promises not to use legal coercion or violence to bring it about.

    I am not okay with this.

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    I disagree with you, Froborr.

    Stop trying to mentally traumatise me by conveying your different opinion!

    Honestly, I don’t know why these accommodationists don’t live by their own words and seal themselves into metal boxes that are then dropped into the sea.

    Maybe there’s a shortage of metal boxes. I’ll talk to some people.

  5. 5
    Olle Sahlin

    Ok, so exactly what does he want? Are atheists and theists both evil for trying to convert people to their side? I don’t get it, what did I miss?

  6. 6
    iknklast

    Evil in one of its purest forms? Trying to use reason and argumentation to persuade people to a different form of thought?

    Ouch. Then I must be evil cubed; I also try to persuade people to abandon their strongly held, and terribly comforting belief, that there is no scientific evidence of global warming. I try to convince people who believe women are inherently inferior to men that this is not the case.

    Would Froborr see these positions as evil? If not, he is a hypocrite, because global warming denialism and patriarchal sexism are also very strongly held beliefs, and often very traumatic for someone to lose them. And scientists teaching about global warming, or evolution, would, by his definition, be proselytizing.

    Major fail.

    Signed, Evil Cubed

  7. 7
    Anteprepro

    Froborr must be evil as well: Trying to make us Gnus undergo the traumatic conversion to Extreme Accomodationism, so that we no longer wish to de-fang the Beast of Religion. Doesn’t he think of the anguish that he is inflicting upon us by Forcing us to be like him, sitting down and shutting up? Should I feel better that Froborr doesn’t want to use physical violence or legal action, while still clearly hurtfully and diabolically forcing his opinion upon us and clearly expecting us to adopt his mode of belief and behavior due to that?

    You do not have the right to convert us to Accodomationism by non-violent non-litigious “force”, Froborr. For that is an Evil that could only be expected from supervillians, war criminals, and totalitarian dictators.

  8. 8
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ugh, the Slacktiverse. Where mushy feel-good thinking rules, even the un-ROT13‘ed word “rape” is considered triggering, and the infantilizing acronym “QUILTBAG” is embraced (the only worse one is “GLITTERBAG”).

    Oh, and Kit Whitfield?

    You know what I’m seeing here?

    Privilege…. People dismissing non-white and non-Abrahamic experiences.

    Meet Frederick Sparks.

  9. 9
    Natalie Reed

    OH LORD- it’s Scofield all over again. -facepalm-

    It’s not conversion if it actually uses reason and argument to persuade rather than just manipulation and bludgeoning. It’s not a traumatic loss of faith if the people choose to become atheists (most are happy they made the change: far from traumatized). And it’s not just getting people to agree with us for the sake of agreeing with us- it’s trying to persuade people to assume of their own volition the less irrational, crazy, “evil” position.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Scofield all over again but even worse. And actually this predates Scofield – maybe it inspired him. :b

  11. 11
    Scote

    “I cannot reiterate this enough: Proselytizing is yet another word for making people suffer in order to transform them into what you think they should be, for no other reason than because they are not what you think they should be.”

    How odd. Proselytizing is evil and nobody should do (though I don’t hear him criticizing Evangelists) but here he is, ahem, Proselytizing his view point.

    Accommodationists. Own goal specialists,

    I picture “Froborr” demonstrating his accommodationist forbearance in an Islamic country, trussed up and about to be executed for being an atheist.

    “So before you stone me to death for blasphemy, let me just tell you gentlemen how much I respect your world view, and that I’m not going be so impertinent as to make you suffer by suggesting in anyway that killing me for not agreeing with you on maters of theism would be wrong. That would be proselytizing, which is evil. So I’m not going to do that. Just want you to know that. I hope that helps us create a bridge of understanding, er, or with those people you haven’t killed already…”

  12. 12
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Natalie, I thought exactly the same thing! Did “Froborr” read Scofield’s article and run with it? Or is it a case of twisted minds thinking alike?

  13. 13
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Ophelia:

    Just saw your precision. So this may be where Scofield mined for inspiration? Bleh.

  14. 14
    evilDoug

    Evil? Evil!? The guy don’t know the meaning of evil.

    Was there an internet sale on Truly Massive Egos lately?

    He was traumatized by giving up his religion, therefore all persons who give up religion must be equally traumatized. I was overjoyed and totally liberated by giving up religion, therefore I would see it as a huge gift to help anyone do the same (actually not true – I never had but a smattering in the first place so giving it up was less traumatic than consigning an old favorite shirt to the rag bag). Why is his perspective right and mine wrong?

  15. 15
    evilDoug

    Brownian,
    I have to order a shipping container of contempt. I’ve been using far too much lately. You can have the empty container for Forbore if you like.

  16. 16
    Ophelia Benson

    Irene, could be…or it could be the accommodationist zeitgeist. I had Scofield in mind in the first sentence, asking if this is a new trend.

    In a way it’s just a reductio ad absurdum of what the accommodationists have been saying all along, but it has a new level of stupid.

  17. 17
    Michael Fugate

    Froborr must hate the endless election cycle in the US…..

  18. 18
    baal

    You do not have a right to make others suffer for your beliefs.

    And suffer here means having to hear an argument about why religious belief is wrong and harmful? I also see that the posters of FTB understand it’s not necessarily to let go of religion and many offer help.

    Would Froborr take the same line with smokers? Has he ever seen how hard that is for many folks?

    While I know it’s more likely Froborr is just not very well thought out on the point, I can’t help but suspect he’s 1) a troll and 2) actually a religious conservative intentionally planting viral pernicious memes.

  19. 19
    baal

    Oh – what’s with singling out Greta Christina?

    I’d be ecstatic if half the population were half as decent and well minded as she is. Really, if one of the best isn’t good enough for Froborr and B.S. then it isn’t possible to make the accomodationalists happy w/o converting to True-Belief ™.

  20. 20
    Timothy (TRiG)

    I like The Slactiverse. Generally. And I post there. I couldn’t quite “get” this article. Apparently we’re all reading it wrong and it has some deeply subtle meaning. I’m prepared to accept this. (I also think a clarification should be issued, but apparently it already has been, somewhere in the middle of that unholy long comment thread which I’ve not yet had a chance to read.)

    I can say, though, that you’re misreading the meaning of “pure” evil. It doesn’t mean intense evil, or outright evil. It’s “pure” evil, as in Granny Weatherwax’s summary of evil as “treating people like things”. Pure evil is seeing others as a means to an end, and not as ends in themselves. I can agree with that, and I can even agree that certain forms of proselytism can be forms of that, but I remain to be convinced that the forms of proselytism that Greta Christina was talking about fall into this category.

    TRiG.

  21. 21
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    The mind boggles. That person Froborr is so incensed about the evils of proselytising, and the traumas of “losing faith” (but not about the advantages of doing so, or the traumas of religion, fancy that!) that he (or she?) even equates “changing someone’s mind” by rational persuasion to a form of coercion! Or maybe they’ve never experienced the kind of rational exchange of views where two people who don’t agree on a philosophical issue but still respect each other discuss frankly about it without resorting to underhanded tactics?

    Or it’s all an elaborate diversion to avoid being subjected, even incidentally, to an opinion that dear Froborr doesn’t like. And it’s a subject he (?) is prepared to proselytise about, as we see here!

    If this was a game of D&D, I’d say that Froborr is Chaotic Evil.

  22. 22
    Ophelia Benson

    Well if we’re all reading it wrong then it’s badly written, isn’t it.

    And the thing about “evil” is just nonsense. That was a massively loaded thing to say, and if Froborr is denying it, well, bollocks.

    Btw is Froborr in fact male? Everyone is saying “he” but I have no idea if that’s accurate.

  23. 23
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Also, @evilDoug,

    He was traumatized by giving up his religion.

    That is definitely not what Froborr said. Almost the opposite to what he said, actually. Try reading, for example, the first sentence of his post (quoted above in Ophelia Benson’s article).

    I have always been an atheist.

    Reading an article before criticising it is usually a good first step.

    TRiG.

  24. 24
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Yeah. If one or two people misread you, it’s probably their fault. If loads of people misread you, it’s probably your fault. I do want to read that comment thread one day, though. Comment threads at The Slacktiverse tend to be things of wonder, and full of all kinds of awesomeness.

    And yes, Froborr is male.

    TRiG.

  25. 25
    julian

    Reading an article before criticising it is usually a good first step.

    So does considering it’s implications.

  26. 26
    Ophelia Benson

    Trying to read that long and difficult to navigate thread…

    More from Froborr in a comment:

    That Greta made her post does not run afoul of my rules. The behavior and attitudes her post endorse, on the other hand, do.

    Based on her post, it appears that Greta Christina would endorse the following (as long as they were at all effective):

    *Derailing a thread about My Little Pony with pro-atheist comments.
    *Random-dialing people at home, telemarketer-style, to “spread the word.”
    *Going door-to-door and handing out pamphlets trying to disprove the existence of God.
    *Telling grieving parents their child is not in Heaven because there’s no such place.
    *Going into hospitals and telling sick people not to bother praying, because it won’t help.

    In short, she is endorsing doing every obnoxious, hateful thing Christian missionaries do, but it’s okay, because “Our Side” is doing them.

    (And yes, it is a case of the worst kind of evil: Callous disregard for the common humanity of others.)

  27. 27
    Josh Slocum

    Based on her post, it appears that Greta Christina would endorse the following (as long as they were at all effective):

    What the fuck? Where is he getting that from? That’s delusional! He’s just making stuff up brazenly.

  28. 28
    Eamon Knight

    Background: Slacktiverse is what was left behind when Fred Clark moved Slacktivist to the patheos.com stable (where he does get paid a pittance, so I can’t really blame him). Some of his regular commenters objected that the neighbours at the new digs made it no longer a “safe space” for QUILTBAGS and other victims of religious abuse (they’ve got a point about some of the neighbours — the Anchoress, FFS — though I think the metaphor of internet-domain-as-physical-proximity is overstretched), so Fred arranged to give the old typepad account over to a few of the old crew to continue as a community and meta-Slacktivist.

    I read Fred’s posts at Slacktivist regularly, for a number of reasons, but I rarely dip into the comments. I recall the general atmosphere of never being allowed to tell anyone else that they’re *wrong*, enforced by accusations of privilege, and concluded I had pretty much nothing to contribute to the permanent group-hug-therapy-session. Privilege exists, but dammit there’s got to be a rational stopping point short of the total PoMo-ism of dismissing every truth claim as a manifestation thereof.

    Re “trauma”: In 1991 when I discovered the hurly-burly that was Usenet I was a liberal Christian. Ten years later I was an atheist. Was it traumatic? No, merely a bit uncomfortable — hardly the stuff of “pure evil” to subject me to.

  29. 29
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    The trauma of giving up a belief? Ha! Giving up my belief was not at all traumatic, the trauma was trying to believe a religion that made no sense.

  30. 30
    mmy

    something called The Slacktiverse by someone called

    The Slacktiverse is a community run blog where people of different beliefs and nonbeliefs post articles and where members of the community vigorously argue about said articles.

    And if you wish to describe as “Where mushy feel-good thinking rules” providing a safe(r) space where individuals can post without having to worry that they will be triggered then I can only presume that you consider good manners and thoughtfulness “mushy” As for the infantilizing acronym “QUILTBAG” is embraced — yes — because members of that community requested that we do so.

    The Slactiverse is not a theist or an atheist space. It is a space where a widely diverse group of individuals can write, read and discuss using rules that they have themselves created.

  31. 31
    Kevin

    The whole thing about “trauma” is just plain silly.Should we enforce belief in Santa Claus because it would traumatize kids to learn the truth?

    And who’s to say that trauma would be involved?

    I sussed out that the stories in the bible were silly, and that mythological creatures like gods weren’t real when I was about 8.

    There wasn’t any trauma involved. Just a bolt of “that couldn’t have happened” realization when confronted with the story of the big boat and all the animals escaping a giant flood.

    I really don’t get theists or their accommodationist fellow-travelers.

  32. 32
    Anthony K
    I have always been an atheist.

    Reading an article before criticising it is usually a good first step.

    Ah, so Froborr has no fucking clue what conversion is like, yet he’s sure it’s traumatic and full of suffering.

    Generally yes, it is good to read an article before criticising it, but considering the writer in this case a) is making up shit wholesale, and b) maybe, probably, potentially means something deep and subtle but instead wrote something else, why the fuck should anyone bother?

    Comment threads at The Slacktiverse tend to be things of wonder, and full of all kinds of awesomeness.

    Not having experienced one, I feel froborrised to assert that no, they’re not—they’re deeply traumatic and (slightly adulterated) evil.

  33. 33
    Aratina Cage

    I’m an atheist. That’s my identity. It would be traumatic to change that.

    Since Greta Christina was not advocating that people be forced to become Atheists™, I see no reason why it would be traumatic for a theist to learn enough about the world to become unable to honestly continue being a theist.

    Even when I was a theist, I was willing to look at other religions and other sects within the Christian family. What I found was that some were very scary (authoritarian, hateful, and stupid), and others were nice in different ways but not much better than what I already had. It wouldn’t have been traumatic to change from my Christian identity back then if I had wanted to; I just didn’t see anything better to turn to at the time.

    Likewise, I wouldn’t consider it traumatic to change back to being a believer if it weren’t for the fact that theism is false and most religious doctrines espouse bigotry alongside their lies about how reality is. Religions coerce people (using unfair techniques like threat of torture, bad luck, bad karma, shortened lifespans, etc.) into believing there are five lights when there are really only four shining brightly. That would cause real mental trauma to a person who knows better.

  34. 34
    julian

    It is a space where a widely diverse group of individuals can write…

    …be breathtakingly wrong and grossly mischaracterize the opinions and view of others.

  35. 35
    Anthony K

    Ms. Daisy Cutter,

    Presuming this tumblr is accurate:

    An acronym for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay. Basically, anybody who doesn’t fit the standard sexual template of a heteronormative society.

    What’s wrong with QUILTBAG?

    (I ask, of course, because I’m heteronormative, or at least close enough to fake it that I have hn privilege.)

  36. 36
    TCC

    So, according to Greta Christina, her primary goal as an atheist is to make most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of losing their faith,

    Oh, FFS. At the risk of making this sound like an Atheists Anonymous meeting, I lost my faith a little over a week ago, and you know what was traumatic about it? Not the part where I lost my faith but the part where I started realizing how people would see me and treat me when they knew that I no longer believed in god.

    So when I read statements like “You do not have a right to make others suffer for your beliefs,” I agree – but you’re talking to the wrong people about that, buddy.

  37. 37
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    mmy: Oh, please. Going so far as to ROT13 the word “rape,” and discouraging people from telling other people they’re wrong, goes considerably beyond “good manners and thoughtfulness.” How the fuck do some people at Slacktiverse survive in the daily world?

    Quite frankly, as is the case with Shakesville, I get the impression that shushing other people’s terribly upsetting differences of opinion are the only power some Slacktiversians have in life, and boy, do they enjoy wielding it.

  38. 38
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Brownian: “QUILTBAG” is really fucking twee.

    I’m straight and cisgendered, so I’ll readily admit I’m privileged on that axis, but friends who mine who aren’t roll their eyes at those acronyms. (And, yes, this is one of those “Some of my best friends…” arguments. Oh, well.)

  39. 39
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    As one of Ms. Daisy Cutter’s queer/trans friends, I am also personally insulted by the cutesy, infantilizing term.

  40. 40
    mmy

    @julian: be breathtakingly wrong and grossly mischaracterize the opinions and view of others.

    And in the more than 700 comments on that thread alone there some people took your point of view, some people took the opposite, some people landed somewhere in between.

    To consider articles on The Slacktiverse without reading the comment threads is to miss what the community itself agrees with and/or disagrees with.

  41. 41
    Aratina Cage

    janine says it best:

    Giving up my belief was not at all traumatic, the trauma was trying to believe a religion that made no sense.

    QFFT

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Josh Slocum

    TCC, welcome! You’ll get a lot of camaraderie (and some comeuppance from time to time) at most of the Freethought Blogs hangouts. Thanks for speaking up as a very recent formerly religious person.

    QUILTBAG? Yes, yes, it is twee. Just so. It does kind of make me giggle, but yeah, it’s a bit much.

  44. 44
    Wysteria

    Ms. Daisy, Happiestsadist, if you don’t mind someone who’s wandered in from a different region of the internet asking you a question, would you mind the acronym still if it was arranged as, say, AGQUTBIL? Which I would never, ever be able to pronounce, but I can’t pronounce LGBTQ or any of the others, either.

  45. 45
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    To consider articles on The Slacktiverse without reading the comment threads is to miss what the community itself agrees with and/or disagrees with.

    Yeah, I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t want to wade through 700 comments, many of which would be whingy arguments full of logical fallacies I’ve seen hundreds of times before…

  46. 46
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Wysteria, why does it have to be pronounced like a word? “Ell Gee Bee Tee” or “Gee Ell Bee Tee” may not cover all the categories, but it’s not hard to pronounce.

    I’ve seen someone else use the term “Gender/Sexual Minority,” GSM for short, to encompass anybody who is not straight, cis, and sexual.

  47. 47
    Josh Slocum

    LOLOLOLOLOL. Really?!

    Oh stop it. Stop. Stop it.

    Absolutely Fabulous couldn’t have been more over the top in their parodying of New Age bullshit than that! That’s embarrassing.

  48. 48
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Wysteria: I personally don’t see what’s hard about saying “Ell Gee Bee Tee Cue” or, as a friend of a friend likes “GIBLeT” (sounds like the things in birds).

    I find the QUILTBAG/GLITTERBAG/FABGLITTER things so fucking cheesy. Like, fucking seriously, I’m an adult, this is silly. LGBTQ folks get enough indignity from the phobes, we don’t need it from our allies as well. I do not shit rainbows or sweat glitter, I’m just a genderqueer person who likes a people from a wide variety of gender IDs.

  49. 49
    Wysteria

    Ms. Daisy, I don’t particularly care if it’s pronounced as a word. I don’t think I’ve used any of the acronyms in conversation, so it’s a bit academic to me. I was trying to discern if your problem with it was the quilted bag visual or if you thought it included groups unnecessarily that could be best be tossed under ‘other,’ or both.

  50. 50
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I do not shit rainbows or sweat glitter

    Aw, damn. I really wanted a chunk of rainbow poop for my next birthday. It would make an awesome paperweight.

  51. 51
    Josh Slocum

    Aw, damn. I really wanted a chunk of rainbow poop for my next birthday.

    So, you’d like someone to send you a bowel movement?

    /ducking and running

  52. 52
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Wysteria: It’s the visual. It makes grown-up people who have a right to a grown-up sexuality (or lack thereof) sound soft and cuddly and unthreatening.

    Now if someone does want to be called “QUILTBAG,” I’ll call them that and not roll my eyes around them. That said, I do side-eye such acronyms.

  53. 53
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Josh, only if it’s postmarked from a trailer in Bawlmer, Merlund.

    Throw a few eggies in there, too, please.

  54. 54
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Yes, Ms. Daisy Cutter, really.

    At least one member of the community has experienced a difficult birth; at least one other member of the community is infertile. I can’t remember which of these (or both? or someone else?) mentioned sometimes being upset by mentions of childbirth, and requesting trigger warnings. Warnings are not issued out of the blue. They’re issued out of respect for real people who are really upset and/or triggered by certain issues. Similarly, The Slactkiverse issues triggers for Transhumanism and Animal Uplifiting, because those trigger other members of the community.

    Is your problem with trigger warnings in general or with this warning in particular?

    TRiG.

  55. 55
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    TRiG: “Certain warnings in particular” is less accurate than “Most things other than commonplace triggers like rape, domestic violence, or racial slurs.”

    If a certain community wishes to honor requests from regulars that it warn for their idiosyncratic triggers, that is the community’s prerogative. The problem is that outsiders get the impression that the community has a “walking on eggshells” vibe. This is especially true when the trigger warning policy is coupled with discouraging people from reality-checking one another.

    I find the atmosphere in such online spaces suffocating and not at all safe, having dealt with far too many people in my life give me crap for speaking my mind bluntly.

  56. 56
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    “Giving me crap.” Goddamnit, I previewed and everything.

  57. 57
    TCC

    Josh Slocum: Thanks for the welcome! I’ve actually been a longtime commenter at Dispatches for a few years, but I’m branching out into some of the other great FTB blogs so I can have more widespread exchanges with other nonbelievers. Don’t worry, I know what I’m getting myself into, heh.

  58. 58
    chris the cynic

    Ms. Daisy Cutter and Happiestsadist,

    I think I’m reading you wrong and I’d appreciate it if you’d clarify.

    It looks to me like you’re saying that you’d prefer some people not be included (those identified with the U, I, and A) because erasing them from consideration would do away with an acronym you don’t like. For example going from discussing an acronym that includes them to saying, “LGBTQ folks get enough indignity…” thus leaving out UIA people.

    I’m guessing that that’s not what you’re actually saying but, if it isn’t, I have no idea what you are saying.

    Thanks for any clarification.

  59. 59
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Chris the Cynic: I have a lot of issues with any A I’ve seen proposed in there myself. That said, I and U do belong, and I do make an effort to include them when I refer to them irl or online. I did leave them out there, which I should not have. I do like “gender/sexual minority” in terms of an inclusive term that doesn’t make human beings sound like care bears.

  60. 60
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Chris, I already mentioned the term “Gender/Sexual Minority” (GSM) upthread, which would cover all the bases. I think your question, therefore, is a bit disingenuous.

    As for who should or should not be covered under that umbrella, I will defer to the people most affected by the answer to that question.

  61. 61
    Patrick

    The original Froborr article was just bad.

    But the comment thread! Oh my. So much worse.

    It did, at least, provide me with the opportunity to practice my “talking with crazy people” techniques. Comment rarely. Comment briefly. Make only one point. Spell it out VERY CLEARLY using VERY FEW WORDS. Except people to willfully misread you anyway, so anticipate how they’re likely to do it, and preempt them. Abandon the thread when you reach a point where, if someone were to read your most recent post and the earliest subsequent response to it, they would conclude that you were correct.

  62. 62
    eric

    Froborr’s Greta Christina:

    In short, she is endorsing doing every obnoxious, hateful thing Christian missionaries do, but it’s okay, because “Our Side” is doing them.

    (And yes, it is a case of the worst kind of evil: Callous disregard for the common humanity of others.)

    Actual Greta Christina:

    For many of us, getting legal rights for atheists and making sure they’re enforced – [snip list of rights] – is our top priority… regardless of whether people think we’re nice along the way. And for many of us, persuading more people out of religion and into atheism is our top priority. We think that’s the best strategy for achieving our other goals. And we think it’s a hugely worthwhile goal just for its own sake.

    I just don’t see Froborr’s argument holding weight. For example, I have no idea from her article whether Ms. Christina personally thinks [example taken from Froborr's post] pamphleting would be a good idea or not. Saying one should be confrontational is not an endorsement of any particular advertising tactic. Maybe she thinks that particular idea is stupid. Who knows.

    Second, I fail to see how pamphleting is callous disregard for others. Callous disregard for trees, maybe, but honestly, my advice to anyone who defines “pure evil” in a way that makes every pizza joint and chinese restaurant qualify, is that they really need to rethink their definition.

  63. 63
    mmy

    @Ms Daisy Cutter: If a certain community wishes to honor requests from regulars that it warn for their idiosyncratic triggers, that is the community’s prerogative. The problem is that outsiders get the impression that the community has a “walking on eggshells” vibe.

    I find it hard to imagine that anyone would think that The Slacktiverse is a community “walking on eggshells” when, on the first page of comments, community members wrangling over the piece we are discussing called variously a “hit piece” and “thoughtful and “offensive” and “lovely.”

    It is a community blog. And that community certainly did not “walk on eggshells” in the hundreds of comments that followed. What they did do was to argue vigorously while keeping in mind the triggers of others.

    If you are asking “but how can I know what the triggers are” — well, you pretty well assume that any board that has a diverse community will consider rape, misogyny, and racism to be triggering. When someone new turns up and they leave off a Trigger an “oldtimer” will point it out. Occasionally, as happened recently, someone will refuse to abide by the spirit of the community agreement and repeatedly post comments full of triggering statements and either omit TWs or use ones that mock the whole concept. In those cases the administrators of the board will ROT13 the entire comment.

  64. 64
    chris the cynic

    I have a lot of issues with any A I’ve seen proposed in there myself.

    The only A I know of is asexual. I know that asexual people are often treated as nonexistent, when they point out that they do in fact exist they’re told that they’re wrong. Possibly lying but more likely in denial of their true feelings. I also know they often get treated as freakish or deficient for their lack or sexual relationships.

    A major reason I see for including their A along side LGB is that the idea that the possibilities are straight, L, G, or B is used to argue that asexual people don’t exist, can’t exist, and need never be considered in any way ever. The idea that if you’re not straight you must be L, G or B is used to erase asexual people.

    Mind you someone who is asexual could probably describe how they’re treated better than I can. I know asexual people, but am not one myself.

    Of course, for some widely accepted definitions, asexual could be considered to already be included under Q, but then again so too could L, G and B.

    -

    What are the other “A”s you’ve seen proposed?

  65. 65
    julian

    It is a community blog.

    A community of idiots by the looks of it.

    The argument shouldn’t have gone pass such-and-such’s gross mischaracterization of Greta Christina. That your community doesn’t see that and thinks he’s right in ascribing views to her they have no way of knowing she holds says a lot about your group.

  66. 66
    chris the cynic

    @Happiestsadist

    And thank you. I can’t believe I forgot to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for your response.

  67. 67
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    My issues with A being in there generally have to do with it referring to Allies (uh, no y’all) or heteroromantic asexuals or straight grey-As saying they’re somehow queer. Queer-oriented asexuals are covered by the queerness. Same reason I don’t think straight poly or kink have a place.

  68. 68
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    You’re very welcome, chris the cynic. :)

    Julian @ #65 Well said.

  69. 69
    Bruce Gorton

    As there is not a line I do not disagree with in Froborr’s post, and I can’t post this there – I shall post this here.

    It is a looong post.

    I have always been an atheist. My parents made it pretty clear: From a young age I knew we were Jewish, and we did not worship or believe in God. (Apparently, I was less clear on the distinction between the two, which led to me being enrolled in Hebrew School until I could differentiate them.) I have no “atheist conversion story,” although I could tell the story of how I became a skeptic some time.

    That is a different article, however. The point I am trying to make is that I am happy as an atheist. I have never felt any particular need to be anything other than an atheist, never felt that I wanted to be anything other than an atheist, and never felt that I was missing out on anything by being an atheist.

    So we have already established that you are in a position of privilege in comparison to Greta Christina, a gay rights activist in the US who deconverted from her prior religion, likely with a whole heap load of issues you never had to deal with in your own life.

    Being an atheist is a huge part of who I am. I could not stop being an atheist without completely revising my outlook on the world. Becoming a believer would not be as simple as switching the “God” switch from “Yes” to “No.”

    In order to believe that God (or gods, or an impersonal supernatural force that comprised a privileged reference frame from which to view questions of morality and value) exists, I would have to redefine my understanding of the word “exists” to be able to include things not made of matter.

    I would have to redefine my definition of “true,” my definition of “evidence,” my definition of “reality.” I would have to completely revise the way I view the universe, and to get there, I would have to completely destroy the way I view the universe.

    That the bulk of what we consider existent is matter is simply a matter of experience, it is not a fundamental issue of existence that alters our definition of evidence.

    And beyond the existential distress of utterly transforming my worldview, there’s the social distress, too. Would such a drastic change influence the way my friends see me? Would it change my relationship with my fiancee? Depending on which religion I turned to, would it hurt my relationship with any of my family members?

    This is cowardice. If something is true, it is true whether your friends like it or not. Galileo is not praised because his views were popular with the church of his day. He is praised because he was significantly less wrong than that church.

    No matter how it happened, becoming a believer would be an extremely stressful and painful experience. I’ve been told, by people who have done it, that the other way around is just as traumatic.

    And yet they did it. Why? Because it mattered more to them to stand for what they held to be a true belief than a false one. Sometimes the correct path is not the path of least resistance.

    Greta Christina posted last month [1] that,

    “For many atheists, our main goal is persuading the world out of religion.” She goes on in the same post to establish herself in favor of that position:
    We don’t want to see this happen by law or violence or any kind of force, of course. But we think religion isn’t just mistaken. We think it’s harmful. Some of think it’s appallingly harmful. Some of us think it’s inherently harmful: that the very qualities that make religion unique are exactly what make it capable of doing terrible harm. What’s more, we see religion as not just hurting atheists. We see it as hurting billions of believers. So we’re working towards a world where it no longer exists.

    Considering her post was in fact directed to fellow atheists and about the differences in goals between atheists, this is a fair summation of her position. Froborr’s summary however is, I have to say, idiotic.

    So, according to Greta Christina, her primary goal as an atheist is to make most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of losing their faith, so that they can then be better (read: more Greta Christina-like) people with truer (read: more similar to Greta Christina’s) beliefs. And I should be okay with this, because she promises not to use legal coercion or violence to bring it about.

    I am not okay with this.

    This could well be rephrased as:

    So, according to Orac, his primary goal as a skeptical blogger is to make most of the world’s population suffer the trauma of vaccination, so that they can then be better (read: more Orac-like) people with better (read: more similar to Orac’s) immune systems. And I should be okay with this, because he promises not to use legal coercion or violence to bring it about.

    I am not okay with this.

    Except I think Orac would be in favour of vaccination being legally required. Froborr’s argument under any other setting would be discarded as a blunt attack on free speech, valuing truth somewhat below hurt feelings. There is an implicit admission that honesty is not high on Froborr’s priority list. Nor for that matter is democracy, considering the nature of an election is very much about changing people’s minds to support your party.

    And nor for that matter is capitalism, considering that advertising is essentially about convincing people to buy your products.

    The right to argue for what you believe to be true is the nature of free speech, it is the point to free speech.

    And Froborr is evidently not okay with that.

    For starters, I am a skeptic. I demand truth claims be backed with empirical evidence. So: Where is the empirical evidence that religious belief is harmful, either to believers or non-believers? I want a serious study here: A comparison of abuse of power in religious institutions to similarly structured secular institutions, say, or of domestic abuse rates between religious and non-religious households, corrected for factors known or suspected to influence abuse rates not directly attributable to religion (such as authoritarianism, substance abuse, and abuse rates in past generations). Give me hard, empirical data that religion is harmful–that bad religious people would be less bad if they were atheists, that good religious people would be better if they were atheists, that suffering religious people would suffer less if they were atheists.

    Obviously, Froborr didn’t do the minimal research of clicking on Greta’s “If you just read five things” before writing his little polemic. I know it is very fashionable amongst a certain sector to act like every single argument must be retreaded a thousand times, but considering was addressing people familiar with the arguments and the evidence raised by both sides in this particular debate, Froborr is simply being tedious.

    Then prove that it is always better to be atheist than religious. Show that there is never a person better off as a religious person, never a person whose religious faith makes the world around them better. Because if there is even one such person, then a world with universal atheism is worse than a world of pluralistic belief.

    Lets rephrase this for a second so I can illustrate the poor thinking involved.

    Then prove that it is always better to be a non-drug addict than an addict. Show that there is never a person better off as a drug addict, never a person whose drug induced delusions makes the world around them better. Because if there is even one such person, then a world with universal non-drug addiction is worse than a world of pluralist narcotics.

    In other words, he is asking Greta to demonstrate the impossible (Because we cannot know of every drug addict, we cannot tell that every single one has had hir life ruined by addiction) before she even gets to open her mouth.

    This does not expose any weakness in Greta’s argument, particularly as he does not deal with what Greta views as being harms done by religion. Again, he would have been better able to deal with this, had he bothered to read so much as Greta’s five things.

    I find it absurd I have to make this argument. Somehow, large numbers of otherwise clearly very intelligent atheists are able to avoid seeing the blatant irony and hypocrisy of insisting, with no evidence whatsoever, that belief without evidence is harmful.

    My prior criticism of Froborr for not bothering to read the five articles Greta holds as being her most important, articles in which she raises her evidence and arguments for the position she was briefly summarising in the article Froborr is talking about, still holds.

    Second of all, I like diversity. Diversity is powerful and useful. In most fields of endeavor, empirical data and truth are not of primary importance; you can do data entry equally well regardless of whether you understand electronics or think your computer is powered by tiny gnomes.

    Obviously, Froborr isn’t terribly employable seen as he doesn’t much care for this whole “Knowing what the heck he is doing” bit.

    Without religious perspectives in particular, art, literature, music, and architecture would be sadly diminished. Imagine a world with no Sagrada Familia[2], no Angkor Wat[3], no Eddas[4], no Lord of the Rings[5], no Bach[6]… the list is unfathomably long.

    How do you know that? A lot of the greatest artists, writers, musicians and architects have been atheists. In fact, when we talk about Christian movies or music in the modern era, it is not in complementary tones. So while we may not have ended up with the Sagrada Familia, Angkor Wat, Eddas, Lord of the Rings or Bach, we could have ended up with stuff equally as good if not better, given how religions in less tolerant times tended to kill artists for heresy.

    Further, for all Froborr demands evidence he is making a claim here that cannot be evidenced, we cannot tell how things in the past would be different if we removed a given variable.

    It is clear that, misapplied, religious faith is a hindrance to scientific and technical endeavors–creationism proves that. However, the existence of non-religious anti-science movements such as global warming denialism and the anti-vax movement call into question whether it is actually religion that is the problem, or clinging to demonstrably false, harmful beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence, which hardly seems an exclusive problem of the religious.

    Which is dealt with in this article by one Greta Christina.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2009/11/25/armor-of-god/

    She deals specifically with how political beliefs are similarly armoured.

    Third, and most importantly: You do not have a right to make others suffer for your beliefs.

    No one has that right. Ever.

    When suffering is defined as “The knowledge that people may actually convince you, through robust conversation and the use of evidence, that your beliefs are mistaken” I have to conclude Froborr hasn’t actually witnessed much suffering.

    Further, yes people have that right in some circumstances. It is called the criminal justice system. Criminals don’t like going to jail, even the really nice jails like the ones in Scandanavia are things people would prefer to avoid.

    If Greta Christina’s assessment of religion were correct–if all religious belief is both false and inherently harmful–then religion would be not only a mental illness, but the most widespread mental illness in history. But even if that were true (and I do not believe it is), you do not have a right to cure people by force unless they are demonstrably an immediate danger to themselves or others.

    And we see that Froborr hasn’t even read the passage he quotes:

    We don’t want to see this happen by law or violence or any kind of force, of course.

    That is the very first sentence in the paragraph Froborr quotes.

    I cannot reiterate this enough: Proselytizing is yet another word for making people suffer in order to transform them into what you think they should be, for no other reason than because they are not what you think they should be.

    Actually, the way Froborr has used the word, it is actually simply thinking that you are right and arguing with people you think are wrong in an attempt to convince them to change their minds. Needless to say, Froborr does not in fact do this at all, when the person he is arguing with is a climate change denialist.

    What Greta Christina advocates–what any atheist advocates when they suggest “increasing the numbers of atheists” as a laudable goal, what any adherent of any religion advocates when they suggest “increasing the number of members of my religion”–is evil in one of its purest forms.

    And of course we see Froborr calling every single person who disagrees with him, evil. Purest evil.

    Now me personally? I do not think that there is such a thing as purest evil, but I hold that the right to disagree, and be vocal about it, and try to convince other people to your point of view with the strength of your arguments (instead of by force or harassment) to be the most fundamental of all rights.

    I stand by the right of the evangelical to try and convert me. It is Voltaire’s maxim that “I do not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” I am willing to sacrifice my life, knowing there is no God, there is no afterlife, for free speech. There are limits, but those limits are only so far as one person’s freedom of thought silencing another’s.

    Which is what Froborr attempts to do. It is the nearest thing to petty evil (Obviously it is not on a level with the holocaust) that I can come up with, that it attempts to someone’s point of view up, rather than engage it.

    Now I argue for the end of religion, it has not done the continent I am on (Africa) much good. I do not say it should be done by government or mob anger, but by argument. Religion is a yoke that only the religious themselves can remove, it does us no good to replace some god or spirit with me. I can only help with reason and what little knowledge I have.

    Yet for simply being in favour of the argument, of presenting the option of atheism, for my disaproval of religion, I am called purest evil.

    And that I object to this, will be categorised as shrill and unfair, appears to be the nature of the slacktiverse.

  70. 70
    Hank_Says

    Wow. I really don’t understand Fro-field. Greta C always goes to great lengths to make sure to express with great clarity what she means and, importantly, does not mean (which is why I love reading her so much). Honestly, how fucking obtuse (or dishonest, which appears more likely) do you have to be to misread her intent and misrepresent her intention?

    The way these accomodationist clowns intentionally (it would appear) misquote, cherry-pick and misrepresent the words of those they disagree with beggars belief. It’s shameful. They’re behaving like – ugh – creationists, for crying out loud.

  71. 71
    Anthony K

    I still don’t see what the issue is with QUILTBAG. I’m not part of the Slacktiverse community (and I’m straight and cis, for anyone who doesn’t know and feels they need to), but how is it anybody’s business but theirs how they choose to self-describe in-group?

  72. 72
    Arty Morty

    Can someone convince Rieux to write up an epic takedown over at Froborr’s comment thread, like (he?) did with Scofield last week? I would very much like to read that.

  73. 73
    mmy

    @julian: A community of idiots by the looks of it.

    In the Athenian sense? I think not.

    The argument shouldn’t have gone pass such-and-such’s gross mischaracterization of Greta Christina. That your community doesn’t see that and thinks he’s right in ascribing views to her they have no way of knowing she holds says a lot about your group.

    1) If you actually bothered to read what “the community” thinks about GC OR the author you would realize that “the community” is not of one mind about either. But then “the community” differs on matters from “favourite pie,” to “cats cuter than dogs,” and “academic credentialing.” We argue about books, movies, and music. We disagree as much as we agree.

    2) If you actually bothered to read the 700+ comments you would find that some people disagreed totally re GC, some people somewhat agreed and some people thought that the author was actually making a Kantian argument about the ethical consequences of forms of conversion/argument that appear to be violating a categorical imperative.

    Perhaps not as much “fun” as quoting a line out of context and typing “LOL” but we do tend to wide ranging arguments.

  74. 74
    Bruce Gorton

    mmy

    Actually, from what I could see and admittedly I only got five pages in before losing interest,

    About the only person presenting a sustained argument against Froborr was Nathaniel, meanwhile the rest of the community was whinging about how mean people were being.

    The comments thread frankly read one hell of a lot like those at You’re Not Helping.

  75. 75
    Ophelia Benson

    I love the implication that we’re being negligent and lazy in not reading ALL the comments on that post so that we can know what “the community” thinks about it. Why are we supposed to give a fuck what “the community” thinks?

  76. 76
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey Rieux!

    You have an assignment.

  77. 77
    julian

    If you actually bothered to read the 700+ comments you would find that some people disagreed totally re GC, some people somewhat agreed and some people thought that the author was actually blahblahblah

    When you begin an argument by misrepresenting someone else’s argument and drawing conclusions that are inconsistent even with that start point do not pass go. Do not collect $200. That so much of your community can’t even get what Greta Christina said right (honestly not that hard. She links to all her posts she believes best detail her views) does not inspire confidence.

  78. 78
    mmy

    @Ophelia Benson: I love the implication that we’re being negligent and lazy in not reading ALL the comments on that post so that we can know what “the community” thinks about it. Why are we supposed to give a fuck what “the community” thinks?

    Because people like Julian are blaming “the community” for thinking a particular way. If you are annoyed then go yell at Julian. (That your community doesn’t see that and thinks he’s right in ascribing views to her they have no way of knowing she holds says a lot about your group.)

    If you want to complain about what a community thinks then first find out what they actually think instead of making it up as you go along.

    @Bruce Gordon: About the only person presenting a sustained argument against Froborr was Nathaniel, meanwhile the rest of the community was whinging about how mean people were being.

    Ahhhhh, Nathaniel. Yes. The fellow who made ableist/disparaging comments then said “whoops, I guess I should know better cause I plan to be a psych major” and repeatedly would make overly broad generalizations and then not even acknowledge when someone would post contrary evidence.

    Yes, I will admit that many people thought Nathaniel was not arguing in good faith. Although he did eventually return briefly and respond when several people said they wouldn’t engage in conversation with him unless he evidenced reciprocal behaviour.

    So, yes….Nathaniel

  79. 79
    Ophelia Benson

    And why are we supposed to care anyway? Frobrorr or whatever his name is wrote the post, not “the community.” I addressed the post, not the community. Yes threads can be interesting, sometimes more interesting than the post – that happens here often! – but this particular thread is about Brobforr’s post, not what “the community” said about it.

  80. 80
    Ophelia Benson

    That was in response to julian @ 77.

  81. 81
    Ophelia Benson

    Oh, goodness, mmy – get over yourself. Nobody cares about your “community.” Really.

  82. 82
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Mmy, #63: You know, if I can’t tell someone else their argument is “fucking stupid” without getting either tone-trolled for being “uncivil” or told that my words are “ableist” — and don’t get me started on how profoundly people who advance the latter line of argument misunderstand how language works — I question how useful the “debate” in question is.

    IMHFO, the degree to which a community is known as a place where people’s dewicate fee-fees are never, ever hurt is in inverse proportion to its usefulness as a place to discuss ideas.

    Brownian, #71: I don’t know how much more I could explain why those acronyms strike me as infantilizing. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree, but please note I did say that if Person X wishes to call themselves “QUILTBAG,” I will refer to Person X by that name and not roll my eyes or sneer.

  83. 83
    Ophelia Benson

    Argh. I read a hefty sample of the comments of that “community.” Remind me never to do that again!

    Really. It’s like a whole crowd of Stedmans&Scofields.

  84. 84
    karmakin

    Way back when I stopped reading Slacktivist (and by extension the community) a few years ago when people simply couldn’t grasp the moral and ethical implications behind putting faith over works.

    I’m sorry to see that particular piece of privilege is still prevalent. (And on a sub-note, the “Trigger wars” of several years ago put me way off that particular topic.)

  85. 85
    musubk

    I read almost all of Fred’s posts at Slacktivist, but long before he moved to his new domain and left Slacktiverse to his commenters I had written off his comment threads as mostly worthless, and I immediately unsubscribed from Slacktiverse when the commenters took over. They always seemed very… un-self aware, maybe. As ridiculous as Froborr’s post is, it doesn’t surprise me a bit for it to come from that community.

  86. 86
    Ophelia Benson

    Where’ve I been? I’ve never even heard of them before. I guess I live under a rock.

  87. 87
    Josh Slocum

    Brownian:

    but how is it anybody’s business but theirs how they choose to self-describe in-group?

    It isn’t, in the sense that it would be rude to barge in and criticize or mock the established norms.

    But outsiders get to voice opinions and poke fun, especially when they’re doing so outside that community. This shouldn’t be that controversial.

  88. 88
    karmakin

    @Ophelia Fred Clark was a pretty well-known progressive blogger several years ago, writing that site. It’s kind of fallen off the radar since then, he went off to write a more religiously focused blog I believe, and passed the domain off to the community, who are continuing it.

  89. 89
    Jeff

    “If Greta Christina’s assessment of religion were correct–if all religious belief is both false and inherently harmful–then religion would be not only a mental illness,”

    This is faulty reasoning. Being wrong doesn’t require illness. The adaptation from which religion springs is a useful inate survival strategy. Unfortunately one side effect is religion or at the very least the belief in a god or entity that “intends” all the parts of the world, big and small that are out of our control. While this effect can be mitigated, there is nothing in reality that requires that it be moderated or alleviated.

  90. 90
    Anthony K

    I did notice that Ms. Daisy Cutter, and I very much appreciate that you did. I guess my response to you and Josh is that I’m pretty damn critical, and sometimes I need to check that I’m not just piling on for the sake of piling on.

    I mean, I make fun of accommodationist kumbaya circles as much as anyone, but people should be able to have their safe spaces however they want them.

    I guess it’s not hard for me to engage in bullying,

  91. 91
    Anthony K

    …so sometimes I’m overly cautious.

  92. 92
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Brownian, it’s cool. I’m privileged in this wise, as I said above, so my opinion on the acronym is fair game, I guess.

  93. 93
    piero

    I tried to respond to that piece of crap in the comments section, but I soon realized there was no point: the thread is a kind of portfolio of idiocy.

    I set up a blog in wordpress to give a more reasoned reply which can be read here:

    http://holismionism.wordpress.com/

  94. 94
    piero

    Bruce, I added your comment #69 to my blog reply. I hope you don’t mind.

  95. 95
    piero

    @Timothy #24:

    Comment threads at The Slacktiverse tend to be things of wonder, and full of all kinds of awesomeness.

    Are you being facetious? I hope so, because if you really mean it then your critical faculties are in a sad state of disrepair. Keep reading the FTB blogs and maybe you can still salvage them.

    I’ve never seen such an amount of inane comments in one place. Well, perhaps in some YouTube threads, but that’s an unfair comparison: we are talking about people who are presumably educated adults, not a random sample of the population.

  96. 96
    Bruce Gorton

    mmy

    Thankyou for conceding my point.

    But on that topic, there is a funny thing about that Ableist claim:

    If Greta Christina’s assessment of religion were correct–if all religious belief is both false and inherently harmful–then religion would be not only a mental illness, but the most widespread mental illness in history.

    Froborr makes pretty much the same claim, except he’s doing it in the name of accomodationism so he doesn’t get half the shit for it that Nathaniel got.

    Strange isn’t it? It almost looks like the slacktivist community is only anti-ableist when the accusation of ableism can be used as a gotcha point.

  97. 97
    vega

    @Ophelia Benson- Mmy does. She’s a mod over there. It was partly her decision to put the article up in the first place, as well, so she probably feels some personal responsibility when the thing causes waves outside the blog, in addition to feeling obligated to defend her friends.

    Okay, here’s the thing: I am a sometime-lurker over on Slacktiverse. I got here from there. Don’t know if I’d call myself a “member of the community,” but I’m going to tend towards bias in their favor, just as a warning, BUT- I have read all 700-plus posts of… both threads, actually, because I kinda like reading flame wars, and I can give you a summary of the arguments and responses.

    Frobarr articulated himself badly.

    This was a general consensus, shared by the author himself. Specifically, he says that he should have modified the statement that “conversion is painful” with “often” or “frequently,” which was the only flat-out correction he offered. He also added several “clarifications,” those being:

    1) Sharing ones’ opinion, verbally disagreeing with someone else’s opinion, and engaging active debate with intent to change minds do NOT (according to F) constitute proselytization, or at least not the kind he was talking about; he was referring to aggressive proselytization with specific intent to convert, without interest in whether the receiver is willing to be converted. By which he means that, yes, Jehova’s Witnesses coming to your door are engaging in evil action. (For the record, the above has been characterized both as “clarifying (his) original position” and “backpedaling furiously.”)

    2) If someone holds a belief that is actively causing other people harm (e.g., “God hates fags;” “Atheists are evil and/or should sit down and shut up;” “Creationism should be taught in schools as science;” “Abortion should be illegal in all situations;” and in F’s opinion, “The world would be a better place if religion no longer existed,”) then it is both right and necessary to publically oppose and refute that belief, regardless of the receptivity of those who hold it.

    3) When he said “purest evil,” he meant “pure” in the Platonic sense, not as a measure of severity.

    4) He does not believe he either misunderstood or mischaracterized Greta Christina’s views, and he’s not taking back the comment about evil.

    Not sure as to whether F or anyone else is planning on editing the original article, or posting a revised edition; however, changing the original post of what touched off such a frankly spectacular flame-war might be considered dishonest. The blog really is more about the comments section than the articles.

    (As for myself, I don’t know GC very well, or at all, but am of the opinion that the descriptor “evil” was not only unnecessarily inflammatory, the concept of evil is itself distorting and fundamentally harmful, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.)

    (tw, child rape, genital mutilation)
    Genital mutilation of children is not OK. Neither is child rape. Neither is corrective rape. Neither is forcing children into a coercive and abusive system of belief from an early age and actively denying them the means to seek the truth on their own terms, and then raping them. These are things which should not be allowed to go on. In this, we are in agreement. But if you are going to continue to bring them up, pretty pretty please use the godsdamned trigger warnings.

    Yes, the people at Slacktiverse are a bunch of sensitive, flower-eating bunnies. Yes, a truly rational person like yourself is far too level-headed to be hurt by such a thing as mere words. However, not everyone is capable of being all-rational, all the time, PTSD actually is a thing that people have, and some people want a heads-up before they’re exposed to things that give them flashbacks.

    Btw, the trigger warning I put up there wasn’t for your benefit, it was in case anyone from SV is reading this. And even with that, it would probably be considered out-of-line by their standards. Kinda why I only lurk there. They are fun to watch, but I eat bunnies. Uh, metaphorically speaking. I think.

    Personally, I get excited when I see a post in rot13, because that means it’s gonna be something juicy. I like fights. Not gonna lie.

    Penultimately-
    Mods at Slacktiverse are actively soliciting more submissions from atheist contributers. Atheism is not only massively misunderstood in mainstream culture, but it can also mean very different things even among people who identify as atheist.

    An “atheist round-table discussion” is scheduled to go up shortly, and mods really have been asking for people to write up direct responses to Frobarr’s article. Not sure if that’s fair before Fro posts a revised version of his essay with post-discussion clarifications included. Nor whether such an article would not just piss people off even more. I suspect he’d be delighted if it did. Floating opinion seems to be that this particular conflict has been brewing for a while, and it’s only going to get more interesting from here.

    That’s if you decide that anyone over there is worth engaging. *Shrugs.*

    Finally-
    I may or may not be engaging in evil action at this moment according to Frobarr’s stated argument, though I suspect that according to his actual opinion, I am not.

    Y’all certainly didn’t invite me over here, nor do you necessarily want any of my TL;DR bullshit cluttering up your comment board, and given the time it took to commit this to type I’ve almost certainly been ninja’d, but this seemed to me the lesser wrong given what I see going on; on one hand, a lot of atheists thinking Fro was telling them to sit down and shut up, which he wasn’t; and on the other hand, hurt people being told to go wade through an assload and a half comments by people they’re already pissed off at in order to hear any explanation as to why they weren’t.

    As to whether Frobarr actually was attacking Greta Christina in his article… well, personally I think he kinda lost the way to claim otherwise once he dropped the E-bomb, but either way the gauntlet’s been dropped, so I’m thinking, own it, Fro.

    Anyway, you don’t need to tell me twice, or even once- I’m-a fuck off now. Hope I didn’t do more harm than good. :/

  98. 98
    Slow Learner

    +1 to Vega.

  99. 99
    Morgan

    Ophelia @26 on Froborr:

    Based on her post, it appears that Greta Christina would endorse the following (as long as they were at all effective):

    Oh. Huh.

    So he’s just completely and utterly wrong.

    That’s kind of a relief. I ducked out of the comments there fairly early on because I couldn’t articulate and back up all the ways I found the original post incredibly, horribly fucked up without a large investment of time and energy I wasn’t able to make. I assumed he was arguing against Greta’s actual position, which made his argument quite disturbing to me. I thought suggesting that he might have been arguing against a strawman and had ignored all the places she’d spelled out exactly the opposite of his extrapolations above would come off as trolling and condescending. Apparently I should have known better than to overestimate him. The wrongness was much more simple and straightforward than I’d thought.

  100. 100
    Dave

    At points like this I do really begin to wonder if the internet has definitively become a substitute for the need to engage with and adapt to reality – including the need to fight that reality when you have to.

    Constructing your ‘identity’ as something that everyone else has to respect, ever and always, or else waaaaah! is just not adult behaviour, whether you’re a QUILTBAG, or a White Supremacist, or the pope. One of these things is ‘nicer’ than the other 2, in our contemporary fluffy-liberal worldview, but it doesn’t actually make any more sense. Fascists, and popes, aren’t going to dry up and blow away, so they’ll always be there to kick a hole in your bubble, unless you find a better way to attack them.

  101. 101
    Anonymous

    they’ll always be there to kick a hole in your bubble

    But why does that person need to be you? (You general, not you specific). Is “other people are doing it too” a good excuse to do something?

    I don’t expect other people to respect my identity. I have lower expectations of humanity than that. But when they don’t, I think they’re being a jerk.

  102. 102
    Dave

    Why does anything bad have to be? Why is there still a pope, 250 years after the Enlightenment? Why hasn’t socialism triumphed, 150 years after the Communist Manifesto?

    You’ve already answered your question – people are jerks to each other, and also assholes, jackasses and sundry other pithy epithets. Nice people are still on the low side of the curve. Maybe one day they won’t be, but meanwhile we’re all just wrestling with our monkey heritage, and hoping the world doesn’t get blown up before we die.

  103. 103
    Taz

    You know, being shot is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to someone. And yet people just insensitively throw around the word “trigger” without giving it a second thought.

  104. 104
    Ophelia Benson

    What Dave said.

  105. 105
    Anthony K

    I don’t expect other people to respect my identity. I have lower expectations of humanity than that. But when they don’t, I think they’re being a jerk.

    My being a jerk is part of my identity. Please don’t disrespect it.

  106. 106
    John Horstman

    @97: Um, by describing the thing that’s a potential trigger in the same terms as the potential trigger, how is that a warning? If you’re set-off by any mention of rape, genital mutilation (not things like graphic descriptions of them, which is where I think trigger warnings are appropriate), etc. you should probably avoid fora where they might come up, as you can’t be warned about possible triggers without being triggered, or accept that you might be triggered. I don’t know that any other functional options exist, except forbidding discussion, and silence around patterns of violence/harm is demonstrably more harmful for more people than the possibility of PTSD triggers.

    If I’m describing in some detail my own experience (or someone else’s) of being stabbed, hit by a car, raped, having a child stolen, etc. I’ll probably include a warning, as these are traumatic events for many people (except maybe the car one? I actually was hit by a car on my bike, badly, and I had flashbacks whenever I saw oncoming headlights for months), but at some point it becomes unreasonable, and the degree of warning you appear to be suggesting actually appears to be impossible. It’s a mistake to assume that ethical behavior must prioritize the potential impact on any given hypothetical individual over the collective impact of a suggested behavior.

  107. 107
    vega

    @ 107- It’s true that it’s impossible to predict what’s going to set a given person off. The trigger warning system is an imperfect compromise between driving off people who honestly want to contribute but couldn’t otherwise, and silencing people with cries of “I FIND THAT OFFENSIVE.” This is why the FAQ has a list stating, “We expect trigger warnings to be added to the following,” with additions made by request of posters at the mods’ discretion.

    (For one instance, it’s generally requested that posters not call the religious “crazy” because it is insulting to crazy people.)

    It’s usually a small enough group that it doesn’t get completely unmanageable. This has become less the case with the recent influx of pissed-off newcomers. Understandably so. Someone coming in with the impression that they and their friends have just been called “evil” is unlikely to respond well to a request that they modify their language. A few people have responded very poorly indeed.

    If it makes anyone feel any better *spoiler warning- it won’t* the arguments in Frobarr’s article have been pretty thoroughly thrashed by a number of members of “the community,” more than one of whom needed to place trigger warnings to do it. These thrashings are in fact the reason the article was put up in the first place, because Debate Is Fun. It’s all been so very entertaining it makes me want to vomit out my entire digestive tract and then drown myself in it.

    (jegus fuck, why am I doing this. I’m too thin-skinned for this shit. I’m gonna flounce out now. If I come back, feel free to beat me to death with my own TWs.)

  108. 108
    Ophelia Benson

    vega – relax. :- )

    You don’t particularly have to defend that “community” you know. It’s a lost cause anyway, as must be obvious. But I don’t see any need to flounce.

    There there.

  109. 109
    vega

    No- I like them. They’re my friends. I think they’re defensible. The last few days have just been… bad. You can count me among the subgroup of atheists online who feel alienated for being the wrong kind of atheist. Not because of anything you did. There have been trolls, they have been nasty, and I am mentally ill.

    Seriously, you probably don’t want people like me in your thread/movement anyway. I’m not even always an atheist. Also, I am crazy. (TW, ableist language.)

  110. 110
    Anonymous

    @105 if being a jerk is part of your identity and it’s a label you claim with pride, then calling you one is hardly disrespectful. I have not interacted with you at sufficient length to determine whether you are or are not a jerk and I don’t care either way. *shrugs*

    I don’t like hanging around people who punch me in the nose. If someone punches me in the nose, I’ll decide there are plenty of other people I’d rather hang out with. I’m not sure why this is such a radical position.

    @All
    As for Trigger Warnings, I have previously hung out in communities where the word “therapist” had to be abbreviated to “T” because of the part of that word which follows the “the”. I didn’t grok this at all, but it didn’t cost me anything to comply. I could say pretty much anything I wanted to say. I could make any point I wanted to make. But my guess is that the way it works for those people is that “trigger warning: topic” says “I’m giving you the option to back out of reading this if you’re not in the place” and the knowledge that someone cares enough to do that results in a widely different mindset than if it just comes out of the blue.

    I am personally not the sort of person who will have a flashback at the mere mention of a bad thing I have experienced. For me (and only speaking for myself here), there’s more to it than that. But there are specific things that will set me off, the specifics of which I don’t expect anyone to know or be able to guess (and am not really comfortable sharing either, why give ammo out to strangers?), but if the common things that are upsetting to most people with PTSD are warned for, then, most likely, my specific triggers will be accounted for, because they fall roughly under the general umbrella terms.

    How do I navigate the wider internet all by myself? Well, I don’t read youtube comments, not specifically because of potential triggers but also for the lack of quality discourse. I take cues from the site itself. If I’m looking at a news site, then I’m mentally prepared to learn about terrible things that people are doing to each other, and if it’s local news that I even have to be prepared for disturbingly racist, homophobic, and/or anti-Semitic bile that makes me ashamed of my country. (I live in a country that lost world war 2). The fact that it’s local news serves as a content warning for me. If I’m not up for it then I don’t visit that site.

    This site? I know you guys don’t use trigger warnings and it’s not part of your cultural norms, and I also know that you’re angry at a community I’m a part of (or members of that community) and that angry people don’t tend to speak with kindly tongues. I’m not trying to get you to institute trigger warnings in your community. That would be presumptuous of me as an outsider. I wouldn’t be here if I were in a really bad place right now.

    tl;dr:

    Trigger warnings allow a person to mentally prepare themselves for the content ahead. Think of them like “tags”. You see tags at the top of the post in your rss reader and think “do I want to read about linux right now?” and if the answer is yes, then you continue. If the answer is no, then you don’t. Except the reason I might not want to read a linux post right now is something like “I’m on the phone and only want to look at things without too many words in them so I can concentrate on the conversation” which is not that big of a deal, and it’s hard to accidentally read a linux post — the title usually gives it away. Whereas “I don’t want to read about rape right now” might be “going to bed soon and I’d like to actually get some sleep for once because if I’m up all night then I’m not going to get shit done tomorrow.”

  111. 111
    Pierce R. Butler

    Timothy (TRiG) @ # 54: … The Slactkiverse issues triggers for Transhumanism and Animal Uplifiting, because those trigger other members of the community.

    Uh, Animal Uplift? I can understand not enjoying David Brin’s novels, but unless one had been tortured while being forced to read same, the need for “trigger warnings” in that context appears to trivialize serious actual trauma.

  112. 112
    piero

    This interchange has gone beyond surrealism. Triggers? QUILTBAGS? Gee Ell Bee Tee? ROT13? GLITTERBAG?

    What the hell is going on? Has everybody gone nuts? I vaguely rememeber a time when discussions were conducted in whole sentences. I also vaguely remember a time when I could speak without having to work out the billions of possibilities that someone might be traumatized. Can I speak of priests wif someone was raped by one? Can I speak of abortion if someone had a traumatic experience aborting? Can I speak of chocolate cake if someone almost choked eating chocolate cake? Can I speak of anything at all?

    I’ve been through five earthquakes of magnitudes above 8. So I hereby forbid anyone to mention earthquakes. Ever.

    My mother died in a tragic accident when I was twelve. I hereby forbid anyone to mention their mother. Ever.

    I won’t cause gratuitous suffering to anyone. I won’t talk about miscarriages to a pregnat woman. But there is a limit; I cannot possibly anticipate what anyone will find traumatic or offensive. Some people just ought to seek help, preferably with a psychiatrist.

  113. 113
    Bruce Gorton

    vega

    We aren’t exactly all bastions of mental stability ourselves, and whether you are sane or not is entirely irrelevant to the quality of your arguments.

    Which brings me to:

    @111

    Personally I have noticed something with identities – when we start thinking of people as identities we stop thinking of them as people. It is the first step towards dehumanisation.

    Now while I claim to be a “New Atheist” with pride, along with “Conservationist”, “Skeptic”, “Attempted feminist”, “Liberal”, “South African” and various other labels when the situation fits, I think of myself as “Bruce Gorton”.

    I identify strongly with certain demographics and ideologies, but those demographics and ideologies do not own me. Attacks on the beliefs implicit to those various labels are not attacks on me personally, they are not things I have to defend, and when the attacks are valid I feel perfectly free to join in with them.

    Heck I can even change the labels if I encounter arguments strong enough. Everything is provisional on the evidence.

    So I am glad when people criticise elements of my identity, uncritical acceptance is little more than the suffocation of the mind. We need resistance to our ideas to test them, to strengthen them, to break the ideas that are wrong.

    I am a person, not an identity.

  114. 114
    April

    TW: rape

    I get the whole thing that a principal component of a lot of atheist thinking is that nothing is sacred and that you have no right not to be offended, but being ant-trigger warning is a bridge too far. I got raped a few years ago. For a long time afterwards, I couldn’t even see the word without getting upset. Lots of other marginalized people have similar experiences, including women, QUILTBAG and POC I know. If you’re unwilling to so much as warn people that they might have to re-live their experiences of violence and victimization to participate in a conversation to which violence and marginalization aren’t obviously germane, then you’re using your privilege to chase people out of your community. Which I guess makes sense if you’re striving for a certain demographic (perhaps the one piero represents…?) in your commentariat.

  115. 115
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    piero #114: Common sense motherfucker, do you use it?

  116. 116
    Forbidden Snowflake

    piero, as I once nearly burned to death in a strawman-lighting accident, I hereby forbid you to build strawmen and set fire to them.

  117. 117
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Okay, reading back a bit…

    1) why is there a kerfuffle over using trigger warnings here? I see them used quite a bit around FTB, most notably over on Pharyngula. As I said in #117 responding to piero, use your common sense — if it’s traumatic or might be traumatic, append a trigger warning. Simple as that.

    2) …calling someone stupid is considered ableist over at Slacktiverse? So, what, the tone-trolls have now become discrimination-trolls?

    Wonderful. Just wonderful. Way to do things wrong. By making these false accusations of ableism you hurt the actual disabled activists and allies who are trying to fight ableist privilege. Worse yet, this is an issue of mental disability which is not as obvious as physical disability — by saying “calling someone stupid is ableist” you make the entire anti-mental-health-privilege cause look like a bunch of petty tone trolls, and you help perpetuate the lack of access to adequate mental health care that many people need.

    Way to go, Slacktiverse mods. If this is true, you’ve just voided your social-justice card by way of using one person’s anti-privilege to prop up another’s privilege.

  118. 118
    dirigible

    “You do not have a right to make others suffer for your beliefs.”

    I suffered while reading this expression of their beliefs…

  119. 119
    marie

    piero, as I once nearly burned to death in a strawman-lighting accident, I hereby forbid you to build strawmen and set fire to them.

    Forbidden Snowflake, as someone who once nearly burned to death myself when my clothing caught fire, I commiserate with you. I’m glad you are so far over any PTSD you may have suffered that you are able to refer to the incident without it occurring to you that references to nearly burning to death might be upsetting to other readers who also may have nearly burned to death, or have relatives who did burn to death, or who lost their homes and possessions to house fires even if they and their family got out safely.

    But then I myself think it is perfectly possible for sensitive, well-meaning people who don’t set out to cause harm simply not to think of the possible traumatic effects of what they are saying because they are busy trying to formulate their ideas, think of words, construct sentences, and maybe remember how to spell. So I tend to cut people some slack when they say things like (warning) “scarred for life” or “diaf” or use other fire related imagery. I’m afraid that otherwise they might feel too constrained to talk to me at all, and I wouldn’t like that.

  120. 120
    Rieux

    Oh, jeez.

    Sorry, guys–federal appeal hearing in a week-plus; I don’t think I’m going to have time to read this latest piece of dreck closely, much less seriously fisk* it.

    Actually, Bruce @69 took the piece apart in a style pretty similar to mine, right? It looked good to me. …Bruce’s rebuttal, that is.

    * In a conversation at a social event with some FTBloggers and other local nonbelievers at a noisy restaurant late last year, I mentioned “fisking the heck out of” some religious troll online on some prior occasion. Skepchick Kammy, sitting a few seats away and conversing with someone else, (mis)heard that statement of mine ring out as “fisting the heck out of” the troll. Hilarity ensued, including (1) Kammy tweeting the misheard statement (thankfully without attribution) and then bringing up, in the continuing conversation, this fisting experience I’d mentioned; (2) my utter befuddlement; and then (3) a good hour-plus of racking my brain until the eureka moment when I finally remembered having mentioned “fisking.”

    Okay, time to get back to those brie…. er, legal memoranda. (!)

  121. 121
    Ophelia Benson

    Good luck Rieux!

    A friend of mine who’s a judge has reported having a pile of briefs as high as her knee to read in one evening. She’s not short, either.

  122. 122
    Timothy (TRiG)

    vega,

    You’re wonderful.

    Ophelia,

    Is it you who’s been setting the sick-as-fuck misogynistic jerkwad trolls on us? Sheesh.

    TRiG.

  123. 123
    Ophelia Benson

    Excuse me? No of course it’s not, and I don’t know anything about any sick-as-fuck misogynistic trolls. Sheesh yourself.

  124. 124
    Ophelia Benson

    Right – I took a look, to the extent possible with so many pages and so much ingroup chat – you mean that “Rambow” who said something yesterday that’s now gibberish?

    I don’t know why the fuck you would think I would set misogynist trolls at you or at anyone, and you owe me an apology.

    Try entering “misogyny” in the search box at the top of the page – or in the one at the old B&W – or just with my name in Google or Google blog search.

    No I do not traffic in misogynist language, including by “setting” trolls at other people. You have a fucking nerve. Scratch a gang of people who congratulate themselves on how super”nice” they are and this is what you get.

  125. 125
    chris the cynic

    you mean that “Rambow” who said something yesterday that’s now gibberish?

    It’s not actually gibberish, it’s ciphered. A very simple cipher called rot13. The reason it is so simple is that rather than being used for encryption it’s used when you want people to be able to read something if they want, but not risk having them read it by mistake.

    With some browsers you can simply select the text and tell it you want to translate it, otherwise one can copy it to somewhere like rot13.com and convert it at the click of a button. (Or you could do it by hand, it’s a very simple map of each letter in the alphabet to the one 13 letters later assuming a circular alphabet, but there’s really no purpose in doing it by hand.)

    The ciphered comment was was ciphered rather than deleted because the person it was directed at thought it best if an example of the invective were left available for those who wished to see the sort of thing that was going on.

    Other, similar, comments were deleted.

    -

    Anyway, if you want to know what it says and judge for yourself all you have to do is copy the text over to rot13.com hit a button, and remember that that is but one example amoung many.

  126. 126
    LMM

    Not to add to the pile-on, but as one of the major participants involved in the initial criticism of the post, at least the *initial* response of the moderators was spectacularly bad — and mmy’s attempts to gloss over the situation really downplays her role in the disaster that followed:

    (1) To begin with, let’s ignore the inflammatory style of the initial post and the gross mischaracterization of the entire Gnu Atheist movement. Let me just point out one aspect that maybe should have been recognized before the essay was even posted: The (few) factual statements Frobarr made (e.g. the percentage of religious scientists) were (in general) blatantly wrong and easily disproven had he bothered to do a teensy bit of research.

    (2) The moderators, particularly mmy, picked sides early on and continued to maintain them — in fact, they were among the most defensive commentators. This, I feel, considerably marginalized those who objected to both the tone and the content of Frobarr’s essay and seriously contradicts mmy’s claim that “the community” had a debate. (That the people running a blog occupy a privileged position within a community should be obvious: they’re the ones running the place and can ban people whenever they feel like it.)

    (3) Despite the often-used refrain that “intent isn’t magic”, the moderators (mostly mmy, with a bit of Kit Whitfield) continued to appeal to intent to explain their actions. (“But we deliberately posted another article about atheism just before this one!” “But this article isn’t intended to attack *all* atheists, no matter how it may come across.” “But we put up a call for other positive essays about atheism in the thread for another post (on page 10).”)

    (4) The moderators (again, mostly mmy) then proceeded to deny responsibility for the post (apparently, they post any content they’re given).

    (5) There was a constant refrain that atheists weren’t a marginalized group — which mostly relied upon the experiences of the commentators in the U.K.

    (6) Several of us left — in part because it was very clear that the moderators were picking sides and were going to violently attack anyone who thought Frobarr’s post was offensive.

    And then …

    (7) mmy comes along in *this* thread and argues that “the community itself” expressed a range of opinions on the issue. Apparently, the fact that she herself was advocating a single position — and silencing those on the other side — has no impact on the dynamics of the discussion.

    [Note: I have better things to do with my life than read what is now approaching 2500+ comments (particularly given WordPress's stupid page divisions), so it's possible that the moderators underwent a "conversion," if you will. mmy's behavior on this thread indicates to me that she at least did not.]

  127. 127
    piero

    @Ophelia #125:

    I love it when Ophelia uses “fuck” and “fucking”. It sorts of validates my less-than-courteous approach to imbeciles.

    Keep telling like it is!

  128. 128
    Bruce Gorton

    Timothy (TRiG)

    Just a note on copyright – you do not have the right to assert it upon my behalf, or on Froborr’s.

  129. 129
    Ophelia Benson

    chris the c, I’ve seen misogyny before, thanks, I’ve had plenty of it said to/about me; I don’t need to go to all that trouble to see more. I take it you have no problem with “trig” accusing me of “sending” people to do that at his “community”?

    That “community” is not just sanctimonious, it’s also vicious and mendacious.

  130. 130
    Ophelia Benson

    “trig” hasn’t apologized, so I’ve emailed him directly.

  131. 131
    chris the cynic

    You indicated that you did not know what something was. I told you what it was. I told you three separate ways that you can read it which will apply either in this case or in the future.

    I also provided context because your comment seemed to indicate that you believed the comment in question was an isolated incident when it was not.

    None of that makes any judgement about anything.

    So how do you go from that to what I do and don’t have a problem with? If I wanted to get involved in the disagreement between you and someone else I would have gotten involved.

    I will say that I do have a problem with people attributing to me, even in round about ways, positions I have never professed.

    I take it you have no problem with “trig” accusing me of “sending” people to do that at his “community”?” is just as uncalled for as it would be for Timothy to say, “I take it you have no problem with “ophelia” saying I owe her an apology?

    From what little I have seen I get the impression that Timmothy has, or thinks he has, a prior history with or knowledge of you that I know nothing of. I’m not about to step into the middle of something that I don’t know the first thing about.

    I can tell you what ROT13 is. I can say what the A in QUILTBAG means. I can ask questions. That’s about the limit of what I can do here. If you’re expecting more than that from me you’re looking in the wrong place.

    If you’re trying to read into what I’ve said more than that, you’re trying to find something that isn’t there. Do I have no problem with it? That depends. It depends on the situation and I don’t know the situation so I don’t know. If it is as you indicate then I have a pretty big fucking problem with it. If it is as he indicates I have no problem at all.

    I don’t have the information necessary to distinguish between those two possibilities. So I’m not about to pretend that I do. I’m going to stick to what I know. Telling you that it isn’t actually gibberish is something I can do so that is what I did. It was about the only thing I could do, so I limited what I did to that.

  132. 132
    Ophelia Benson

    I don’t know the situation so I don’t know.

    Neither do I. I know nothing whatever about this trig, except that he replied to my post on the “Froborr” article. I don’t know this trig from a hole in the ground. I don’t know you either, but you seem to be speaking for that “community” – which maybe you’re not, but some of them place so much emphasis on what a “community” they are and how crucial it is to read everything the whole “community” says before commenting on something that one person from that “community” says…that I may have you confused with them; I don’t know. I really don’t know. I find this whole thing increasingly grotesque.

    I still find it odd that you think it’s important to explain their elaborate labor-intensive system for reading comments but not important to comment on an out-of-nowhere and disgusting accusation – but if this trig is as much a stranger to you as he is to me, then it’s not so odd. But I have no idea which of you are friends and which aren’t, do I. I don’t know anything about any of you – I’d never heard of Slacktiverse before a friend pointed out that article.

  133. 133
    Stacy

    Do I have no problem with it? That depends. It depends on the situation and I don’t know the situation so I don’t know. If it is as you indicate then I have a pretty big fucking problem with it. If it is as he indicates I have no problem at all

    You sanctimonious fuck.

    Ophelia has been the target of misogynist trolls; she’s been in the middle of several spectacular flame wars on the subject, she disallows misogynist gender-specific insults on this blog.

    I don’t have the information necessary to distinguish between those two possibilities.

    If you’ll do what she suggested and entered “misogyny” in the search box at the top of this blog you’ll find the record.

    From what little I have seen I get the impression that Timmothy has, or thinks he has, a prior history with or knowledge of you that I know nothing of.

    Oh yeah? Where’d you get that impression? From this?:

    Is it you who’s been setting the sick-as-fuck misogynistic jerkwad trolls on us? Sheesh

    Presented with a way to check Ophelia’s history on the subject, you ignore it, and decide that Timmothy’s words, blockquoted above, mean he has “a prior history or knowledge” of her that would lead him to believe she’d sic misogynists onto anyone.

    I will say that I do have a problem with people attributing to me, even in round about ways, positions I have never professed

    Yes, yes. You care a lot about your own precious fee fees, that much is clear.

    @Ophelia #125

    Scratch a gang of people who congratulate themselves on how super”nice” they are and this is what you get.

    This. Always and forever, this. Cthulhu protect us all from the self-consciously “nice”, “good” ones.

  134. 134
    Ophelia Benson

    And just in case it wasn’t clear, Timothy/”trig” has no history with me whatsoever. I don’t know him. Never heard of him before he commented a couple of days ago. He’s an anonymous blank to me, except for that filthy accusation.

  135. 135
    Ophelia Benson

    Yeah. Thanks, Stacy.

    Ugh. I feel dirty.

  136. 136
    Bruce Gorton

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2012/02/board-post-february-2-2012/comments/page/5/#comments

    What do you notice missing from that whole post? The hyperlink to Froborr’s OP.

    There is a reason it is generally considered blogging best practice.

  137. 137
    Ophelia Benson

    Yikes.

    What are they talking about? What’s all that about lots of websites talking about “Froborr”‘s article? I haven’t seen anyone post about it apart from me.

  138. 138
    Timothy (TRiG)

    That was a stupid brainfart and I should have known better. Sorry. I’m not at all sure what I was thinking. I’m stressed out at a few things at the moment, both online and in real life, but I shouldn’t have been taking it out on you.

    TRiG.

  139. 139
    Timothy (TRiG)

    And I’m really tired and probably not making much sense at the moment. Sorry again.

    TRiG.

  140. 140
    piero

    @Timothy (TRiG):

    I’ve never seen you making any sense at all.
    Are you always tired? Try to get ome sleep.

  141. 141
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks for the apology, at any rate.

  142. 142
    Kaoru Negisa

    I feel somewhat obligated to defend the Slacktiverse, but only in the sense that I think this might reflect poorly on its founder, Fred Clark, who is an excellent and thoughtful blogger.

    Basically, Clark runs the blog Slacktavist. He used to run it in that location, but was picked up by Patheos about a month before Friendly Atheist was, and turned over the old site to active commenters who got up in arms about the possibility that mean commenters from other blogs on the site (Patheos) would invade their comments section and cause problems. It’s a big bubble to protect people through obscurity.

    I haven’t been back to the Slacktaverse since Clark moved, but Slacktavist on Patheos remains one of the better, more cogent blogs out there. Clark makes really amazing posts advocating separation of church and state, LGBT rights, environmental pleas, really insightful commentary, and he admits regularly that holy texts, mostly the Bible, are collections of stories and adherents should stop using them to make truth claims.

    This article was terrible, but I think people would benefit from reading Clark’s work and I wanted to make sure the two weren’t confused.

  143. 143
    Timothy (TRiG)

    active commenters who got up in arms about the possibility that mean commenters from other blogs on the site (Patheos) would invade their comments section and cause problems

    That is not an entirely accurate summary. TypePad!Slacktivist was a single community. Sure, it’s part of the larger TypePad ecosystem, but it doesn’t really interact with the other TypePad blogs. Patheos!Slacktivist is more like a blog on ScienceBlogs or FreeThoughtBlogs: it’s a larger community. And some people didn’t want to be part of a comunity which also involved homophobes. Also, interestingly given the recent kerfuffle, part of the reason was a feeling that Patheos would be an unwelcome space for atheists.

    The reasoning was: We’re happy to associate with people who disagree with us (it’s very much an ecumenical space, so that’s a given), but we’re not happy to associate with people who doubt our basic humanity. It’s not so much that they were afraid of other bloggers interfering in the Slactivist comment system, as that they just didn’t want to be in the same room as them.

    Which is fair enough.

    Also, the Patheos administrators either could not or would not give assurance that they would allow Fred to continue with his light-touch moderation. In fact, it was never made clear who’s responsible for moderation at Patheos!Slactivist.

    Slacktivist has always been a fairly odd blog, in that Fred doesn’t post in the comment threads, and almost never responds directly to comments. It’s always been very lightly moderated, and comment threads go on for pages and rarely stay on topic. It has always been a blog plus a community, with the community acting semi-independently. As far as I can tell, Patheos!Slactivist is unchanged*. It’s still an excellent and very well-written liberal blog. And it’s still deconstructing the Left Behind series. And if you dig into the comments, you’ll still see an active community with threads that go off-topic and start discussing Dr Who or something after a few pages.

    So the community split. Some followed Fred to Patheos. Some stayed at the old blog, which Fred kindly donated to the community for that purpose. It has now been renamed The Slactiverse. And some post in both locations. (I try to keep up with Fred’s blog, but post there rarely.)

    Those who read Fred’s posts, and never participated in the community threads, will see The Slactiverse as a strange aberation. It does not have at all the same content as Slactivist. But those who read the Slactivist threads will see that The Slactiverse arose quite naturally out of the community there.

    I’ve said that the community often has moments of genius. This is perhaps seen most clearly in the flash fiction on the Left Behind posts. (I think it’s better when he’s doing the books than the film he’s on at the moment.)

    ***

    I’d posted at Slactivist occasionally over the years, but I’d only just started posting regularly when the split happened, so I wasn’t involved in any of the decision-making.

    TRiG.

    * Unchanged, except that Fred is now posting more frequently since he lost his day job. Also, I haven’t seen one of his music posts in a while.

  144. 144
    demonhellfish

    TRiG,

    Do you realize that the active commentariat having it’s own existence at Slacktiverse is not particularly different in nature than the commentariat at Pharyngula’s “Endless Threads”, right?

    Sure, PZ posts once every few hundred comments, sometimes. He’s certainly much less active as a moderator than the three mods in Slacktiverse, and substantially less likely to tell people that the content of their comments is different than the content that the comments actually had.

  145. 145
    Timothy (TRiG)

    No, PZ’s endless thread is more like Slacktivist: There is one benign dictator who doesn’t do much. At Slactkiverse, the Board Administration Team is explicitly charged with not being dicators but enforcing the community concensous about appropriate behaviour. That’s a very different task, and, I suggest, a far more difficult and emotionally draining one.

    TRiG.

  146. 146
    Herms

    At Slactkiverse, the Board Administration Team is explicitly charged with not being dicators but enforcing the community concensous about appropriate behaviour.

    Wonderful…more self-appointed “community leaders”.

  147. 147
    Timothy (TRiG)

    What on earth makes you think they were “self-appointed”?

    TRiG.

  148. 148
    DresdenFilesRocks

    An update, as the recent pharyngula threads have brought it to mind: the slacktiverse collapsed shortly after the atheism article. The anti-atheist tone drove some people away, the flaming in the comments drove more, and as the site had moved to a user-submitted content system, fewer commenters meant fewer submissions and content declined. The mods continued being… well, exactly the same, with Whitfield subsequently railing against those damned childfree people and how evil they are. People kept jumping ship, and that was that.

    Ultimately, all three mods gave it up and left. A new site was started with the same name (at slacktiverse.wordpress.com), but it mostly functions as a link aggregator and ‘open thread’ forum for regulars to talk.

    More information is available at failfandom’s wiki.

  1. 149
    Richard, Nick, Salman, Ayaan | Butterflies and Wheels

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  2. 150
    The incredible tale of Evil Greta and Froborr the Jerk « holismionism

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  3. 151
    Pure Evil « Cubik's Rube

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  4. 152
    Atoms in motion, or just atoms in motion? | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] time it’s an Australian theologian. His argument reminds of the claim of “Froborr” last winter that Greta Christina’s aspiration for a world where religion no longer exists is “evil [...]

  5. 153
    It’s all trolling, when you come right down to it | Butterflies and Wheels

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