The new Free Inquiry appeared a few days ago, but it’s not online yet, and I haven’t received a copy yet. Other people have though, and one tweeter reached out to me as a result.
Just read @OpheliaBenson’s lame response to @michaelshermer in Free Inquiry. Ophelia, don’t “bend a knee” – tell someone who cares.
Tell someone who cares? That’s a dumb fuck thing to say. Somebody does care, or I wouldn’t have been invited to write it, would I. Also I know a few people who care. “Tell someone who cares” is just a stupid retort to a published article. I didn’t tell “The Atheist Missionary” personally, I simply wrote a response to something that was written at and about me. If “The Atheist Missionary” doesn’t care then he (it is a he) doesn’t have to read it. I didn’t “tell” him anything.
And as for lame response – it isn’t, actually. In a way I have Shermer to thank for that – he made it incredibly easy for me. But at any rate it isn’t lame.
I’m not sure I should post the whole thing here before the issue is online, but I’ll post the last few paragraphs (it’s only 922 words, much shorter than Shermer’s piece) so that you can see what “bend the knee” refers to.
So why is Shermer so angry? He did after all say what I quoted him saying. (He twice says I “redacted” it but that’s offensively incorrect – I did no such thing.)
He seems to be furious simply because some underling had the gall to criticize him – as if he were beyond or above criticism. Well why would that be? A cat can look at a king, after all. Shermer seems to see it as some sort of lèse majesté, as if we were in Thailand, where it’s an actual crime to criticize the royal family. But Shermer’s elevated status is – ironically – as a prominent skeptic. A skeptic. If there’s anything skeptics don’t subscribe to, it’s the idea of infallibility.
Shermer however genuinely does seem to think that “prominence” should confer immunity to challenge. After he mentions the putative purge of “such prominent advocates as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris” he says that “I have stayed out of this witch hunt against our most prominent leaders.” Our what? Whose “leaders”? I don’t recall joining any army, or even a party. I don’t consider Dawkins and Harris my “leaders”; I don’t consider anyone that.
No, I’m sorry, that won’t do. I’m not going to bend the knee to “our most prominent leaders” and I’m not going to refrain from criticizing them and go looking for less prominent people to dispute. On the contrary: the prominence itself is a reason to dispute a bit of thoughtless sexism. The honcho dudes are influential, so it’s all the more unfortunate if they’re recycling dopy sexist stereotypes.
As a lot of people have pointed out, Shermer could have just said he misspoke, as happens in live conversations, and moved on. Instead he chose an explosion of outraged vanity. So much for skepticism.
That’s what it refers to.