I’m remarkably pissed right now.
I generally enjoy Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Ed Brayton’s got a sharp wit and a sharper pen. He calls bullshit with concision. And he’s merciless with a variety of right-wing hate merchants. So I went over there tonight expecting the usual incisive posts, not a flame war over framing and an incredible degree of bullshit from… Ed.
But this isn’t about Ed. This is about the smarmy little fuckers who want us atheists to shut up and play nice with the pious.
For those of you coming late to the party, a bit of history, as I understand it. A bloke named Matt Nisbet has decided that science needs to bow and scrape to religious sentiment. It needs to defang itself in the interest of not scaring away all the godly folk. He calls it “framing.” Another bloke named Chris Mooney, who used to be well-respected, has turned into a toadying worshipper of this framing. And they both like to beat up on people like PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins because they’re vocal atheists and that might scare the timid religious folks away.
I haven’t been keeping up on that drama. I read a few posts by both of the gents in question and found them smarmy suck-ups with no balls and fewer morals. I’ve heard Mooney’s not that kind of man, that he’s actually a grand defender of science who’s done great things. I have no idea if that’s true, simply because his recent work has been pure fucking swill and I can’t stomach it.
Right? Now that you’re up to date, let me ‘splain what’s got me steaming like a pan of water on the sun.
Ed put up a post saying that Expelled wasn’t much of a success. Mr. Mooney dropped by to say this:
Hi Ed, In other words, if you define success as something virtually impossible to attain, then no, Ben Stein did not succeed.
If you compare Stein to the single most successful political documentarian ever, Michael Moore, then no, Ben Stein hasn’t beaten
him after one week.
In other words, if you define success as something virtually impossible to attain, then no, Ben Stein did not succeed.
He got his ass soundly handed to him by many of the commenters, as well he should. If ever a man deserved to take his balls home in a baggy, it was him. You do not preach to a bunch of independent-minded scientists to shut the fuck up and let the big boys do the framing, and then fail to frame. You don’t post a defeatist claim that Expelled succeeded wildly and then come by to belabor the point on the blogs of people who believe otherwise. He seems to have developed the same desire for martyrdom that the IDiots have. I dropped by his blog to make sure I wasn’t treating him unfairly, and got a blast of “oh, poor me, I’m fearfully mistreated!” whining worthy of the Republicans. Chris – here’s some pearls, and I’m sure the neocons will be happy to budge over on the fainting couch so you’ve got room, dear. Have a good lie-down and stop fucking bawling.
Jesus H. Christ.
But that wasn’t what got me outraged. That’s tangenital. What’s really gotten up my nose here is the little fuckers who’ve taken it upon themselves who decide who speaks and who doesn’t. Commenters and bloggers who like to tell folks like PZ that they should engage in some enlightened self-censorship:
Now PZ is probably getting a lot of negative newbies at his blog this weekend, and this was on the front page for a good portion of it. Now imagine what some of the moderate Christians who are new to his site think when they see that post. So I throw out this question to every one. Could PZ have framed this post better? I think if he had said “Parents – don’t send your children to THIS Christian school”, that the moderate Christians new to his blog would have agreed with him entirely.
Now PZ is probably getting a lot of negative newbies at his blog this weekend, and this was on the front page for a good portion of it. Now imagine what some of the moderate Christians who are new to his site think when they see that post.
So I throw out this question to every one. Could PZ have framed this post better? I think if he had said “Parents – don’t send your children to THIS Christian school”, that the moderate Christians new to his blog would have agreed with him entirely.
You know what, Doctorgoo? No, he fucking well couldn’t. It’s not PZ Myers’s fucking job to muzzle himself. He has not been annointed the Supreme High Science Ambassador. He is a vocal atheist who couldn’t give two shits about framing. He’s one of the loudest and clearest voices speaking against religion’s hypocrisy and evil. It’s beyond ridiculous to expect him to switch to a fruit-basket offering, smiling, conciliatory atheist just because you think that maybe if he did that the fundies would start thinking of him as actually a pretty nice guy. I have news for you, all of you, who want us to “frame” things in a nice and inoffensive manner: you don’t know fuck about fundies. An atheist who whispers sweet nothings into religion’s ear is just as demonic to them as one who blasts them at every opportunity.
Don’t hand me this bullshit about framing. Do not stand around wringing your fucking hands talking about how we should all be nice to each other, even to the bastards who are doing their level best to destroy science and impose their fucked-up fundamentalism on the rest of the country.
We got to the state we’re in because we were nice and conciliatory and tried desperately hard not to offend people.
It’s time to go on the fucking offensive.
And if you think that’s not so, why is PZ hands-down the most popular blogger on ScienceBlogs?
It’s time for the non-believers to start screaming. It’s time to come out with fist and fang. These people see moderation as weakness. And the folks on the sidelines, they hear the loudest side. The sweet voice of reason doesn’t rise above the din. But people come out swinging for science, and suddenly there’s more than the religious freaks to watch. There’s something fascinating going on.
And you know what? They learn a little science.
I’m so fucking through with treating religion with kid gloves. My ideas and philosophies get trampled and spat upon and derided, and you want to tell me and people like me that we should be nice? Bull fucking shit. I’m not pummeling the moderates. You know my stance. But this bullshit about atheists needing to step aside for religious folk, that stops now.
If religion’s too fucking delicate to take it, that’s its problem. The Christians I know, they’re not afraid of contentious atheists, and you know what? I respect them a fuck of a lot more than those fainting violets who think they’re teh awesome in God but need to hide behind snivelling “no fair” arguments the second someone says the least little thing not nice about it.
It’s not fucking fair. It’s not supposed to be fair. You go into a lion’s den, you’d better fucking expect teeth. You’d better enjoy danger. PZ’s not going to moderate himself for a few folks with delicate sensibilities and a “can’t-touch-this” attitude toward religion, and it is beyond insane for his fellow free-thinkers to expect him to. Maybe, just maybe, instead of asking PZ, Dawkins et all to don muzzles, the more religiously inclined scientists could take theirs off and join the brawl.
Oh, and Ed? No hard feelings. I still respect you. But you’re making an ass of yourself running around demanding apologies for poor Mr. Mooney. He’s a big boy. He can wipe his own tears and maybe earn back some of the respect he lost when he became a pandering whiner.
For a more level-headed view of the need for a good fight, see Greg Laden, Nullifidian, and Blue Collar Scientist. You’ll get a more reasoned opinion from me later. This was the initial eruption. This volcano has not yet begun to explode.