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Aug 20 2013

Dearest JT Eberhard

Hi JT,

You’re doing a bang-up job of telling all these various social justice causes how to do things better, by being nicer, by being more generous to people who say things that are coded specifically to hurt them. And you’re further doing a bang-up job listening to all your friends and peers and those people more experienced in various causes than you when they tell you that you’re fucking up, monumentally.

I can only imagine what Chris Stedman thought when he earned your enmity over his saying the same shit to atheists. You have long knives for Stedman over how he tone-polices atheism and you specifically, but you repeatedly fail to see how you’re playing his part when we’re talking about other movements — movements that have a deeper history of legitimate grievances.

We’re done, you and me. Three strikes, you’re off my Christmas card list. We’ll see each other around, I’m sure, but I don’t consider you a friend or ally, except in the one and only cause we apparently have in common.

Meanwhile, keep telling yourself that all these friends you’re losing, you’re losing in defence of your principles — principles that apparently work completely differently for movement atheism than they do for women’s or race rights. Understand that these friends are actually dropping you because of their own principles, and maybe, just maybe, consider that you actually can be wrong once in a damned while.

Is this English plain enough for you?

Love and snuggles,
Jason.

36 comments

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  1. 1
    Pteryxx

    *thumbsup*

    JT is the reason I made sure I could spell your last name. ;>

  2. 2
    Kengi

    Ah, to have been the NSA bug on the wall for the email exchange which culminated in this post…

  3. 3
    Kevin Schelley

    Hopefully all of this fallout from JT’s post and his responses to people’s criticism will act like a clue-by-four to the head to him… unfortunately it seems the pattern of JT holding himself as the most rational and reasonable will hold.

  4. 4
    Flewellyn

    I’m sorry this has cost you personally, but I salute you for standing up for right.

  5. 5
    Robert B.

    I detect a downward spiral. Those are especially risky things if you have a history of mental illness. I don’t condone JT’s bullshit – the first time I saw him screw up like this I argued with him and the second time I stopped reading his blog – but on general humanist principles I hope he’s got someone looking after him.

  6. 6
    Zach High-Leggett

    The thing that kills me about this is how JT fights against the exact same arguments when they’re made towards the atheist movement.

    JT’s public battle with mental illness helped me come to grips with my own, and I honestly believe he saved my life. I don’t feel like I could abandon his friendship (we’ve only met a couple times, but I consider him a friend). I’m hoping that the fact that all the people he speaks so highly of (especially Greta) disagree with him really wakes him up to the fact that he’s acting on opposite sides of the same issue.

    I am sad. :(

  7. 7
    lochaber

    :(

    I don’t really follow much about what’s going on outside of these blogs; I don’t use twitter, I don’t use reddit, I don’t go to conventions, and I don’t know anyone here personally. At some point I stumbled onto PZ’s blog a couple times back in the scienceblog days, and liked what I read there enough to book mark it. Then, once it migrated over here, I started reading the other blogs on the sight, and really liked most of them. I’ve generally liked pretty much all of the blogs that have been added since then, even if I didn’t maybe find them personally interesting.

    I’ve been disappointed to see some of them leave, as while I liked reading the occasional posting, I didn’t quite like/follow them enough to warrant a separate bookmarking.

    I’ve found it especially disappointing that so many of the more recent departures seem to have either taken up camp in the slymepit, or take what seems an antagonistic stance towards FTB. Maybe I’m missing something due to my neglection of some of the other internet atheism/skepticism venues, I dunno…

    Anyways, I’m sorry if this has cost you a personal friendship over these events, I can understand how that can have a very personal sort of sting that is not easy to deal with. I hope that some of the people involved in this stuff come around, and are more willing in the future to listen to those that have been shut out of power or oppressed.

    I really expected better.. :(

  8. 8
    dantalion

    If you’re going to form strongly held opinions about JT based on one blog post, it might be worth reading the post in question first.

  9. 9
    Kevin Schelley

    Oh look, dantalion is posting the same thing here as he did on Greta’s post. dantalion, I’ve read JT’s post, I’m pretty sure Jason has read it.

  10. 10
    Jadehawk

    If you’re going to form strongly held opinions about JT based on one blog post, it might be worth reading the post in question first.

    lol
    1)we’ve read it
    2)this is part of a pattern, so claiming it’s about just one post is bullshit.

  11. 11
    piegasm

    lol dantalion posted the identical sentence on Greta’s post about this topic.

    Nothing like lecturing others about knowing what’s going on before forming opinions via spouting your own completely uninformed opinion about other people’s opinions.

  12. 12
    Dana Hunter

    I see I wasn’t the only one who threw up their hands. I’m hoping he’ll get it figured out eventually, but not holding my breath.

  13. 13
    dantalion

    The same thing that needed to be pointed out there needed to be pointed out here.

  14. 14
    kagekiri

    @6 Zach:

    I’m in a similar boat; hearing JT’s speech on mental illness was pretty much life-saving. It makes these mis-steps and bull-headedness all the more frustrating, because it’s so similar to the crap he’s dissected in his preferred fields of argument, yet he’s unable to grasp this hypocrisy.

    @dantalion:

    Considering many of his detractors know him personally, know him beyond his blog, and have dissected his crap in the very comment thread of the article you mention, no, it did not need to be pointed out. Don’t be obtuse.

  15. 15
    piegasm

    @13 dantalion

    If by “here” you mean wherever you physically are, then sure. The issue isn’t that you said the same thing in two different places. It’s that what you said, both times, was completely ignorant and showed the same lack of knowledge of the situation of which you’re (wrongly) accusing others.

  16. 16
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    dantalion, point your pointlessness somewhere else. As if the bloggers and a lot of the commenters here don’t know JT outside of “blog posts”, something which is not the inciting incident of this latest disagreement.

  17. 17
    Jadehawk

    The same thing that needed to be pointed out there needed to be pointed out here.

    and by “needed” you mean you felt the urge to say incorrect things in both places. ok then.

  18. 18
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    If you’re going to form strongly held opinions about JT based on one blog post, it might be worth reading the post in question first.

    Hey, dantalion.
    It pays not to project your own patterns of thought onto others who’ve been reading, discussing and fighting with JT over those things for years.

    AS for JT, apparently the calm hand-holding-crefully-explaining-walking-him-through-his-cluelesness he keeps telling people they should do doesn’t actually work…

  19. 19
    oolon

    Same “three strikes” thing occurred to me … In terms of him going Slymey, I’m gonna say no, he isn’t that dumb. I’ve been wrong before, Stefanelli, Wachs, Griffiths, but I think he is very strongly principled and something like this wouldn’t make him drop his principle that the misogyny there is toxic. Unfortunately this same obdurate nature is what is making it hard to see the error in his latest post.

  20. 20
    oolon

    Actually just realised I’ve been wrong *every* time, so scratch that… Who knows!

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    Dantalion: please click on the links in my post. They do help establish that when I talk about a pattern of behaviour, that means more than a single blog post.

  22. 22
    Raging Bee

    Okay, dantalion, show us what relevant information we missed. Because if you can’t be any more specific than “you all missed something,” then you really don’t have a case.

  23. 23
    kaboobie

    I can only imagine what Chris Stedman thought when he earned your enmity over his saying the same shit to atheists. You have long knives for Stedman over how he tone-polices atheism and you specifically, but you repeatedly fail to see how you’re playing his part when we’re talking about other movements — movements that have a deeper history of legitimate grievances.

    QFT. JT never tolerates any criticism of how he does atheism. How can he presume to criticize feminists, people of color, or LGBT activists for the way they fight for their respective causes?

  24. 24
    smhll

    I’m willing to give “dantalion” half a point, since I made two comments prior to reading JT’s full post, but two comments AFTER reading the whole thing. (But I put a partial disclaimer on my first comment.)

    People can see the same information and not evaluate it in the same way, based on differences in prior experiences. It would be cool if we could get past telling other people that they are wrong to be offended.

    (Sometimes, I personally want to tell people that they are over-sensitive, but since I totally hate having someone do that to me, I stop myself. And this is not one of those times.)

  25. 25
    Robert B.

    I don’t need to read JT’s post, I can imagine it based on the last umpteen times this happened. Nothing anyone has said about it has been anything other than straight linear extrapolation from the posts I have read over the last… couple years, I think. I got tired of this exact bullshit quite a while ago, and have no desire to see more.

  26. 26
    Leo Buzalsky

    @21 Jason – Yes, thanks for the links. I was left scratching my head after reading Jen’s post because she expressed repeat behavior of JT not getting it. I had completely forgotten about all of this with Socratic Gadfly, though I think that’s largely because I was, and still am, unfamiliar with what seems to be a bigger background story of conflict. So thanks for the reminder!

  27. 27
    protect and serve

    A rapist (you) doesn’t get to criticise JT Eberhart.

    Nice try, though. You should be in prison.

    PS – Notice how more and more people are leaving you cult? Doesn’t help when they’ve got rapists like you involved in it.

  28. 28
    Tom Johnson (not THAT Tom Johnson)

    I’m afraid this is the last straw for JT as far as I’m concerned; white men do not lecture black women on what is and isn’t racist, or on how to respond to it, in any polite society I’ve ever been part of, and those who’ve tried deservedly got their heads handed to them. Misrepresenting the sequence of events afterwards to make himself look better is just the icing on the cake for someone who isn’t anyone’s ally, whether he thinks he is or not.

    I think Oolon (19, 20) has called it correctly about JT’s new loyalties, between his closing paragraph of that interminable “reply” to Jen McCreight (8208 words, according to Greta Christina? That’s awfully deep into Daniel Fincke territory without a PhD in anything) about no longer caring about the good will of “that crowd,” and slymers Pitchguest, Justin Vacula and company doing most of the work defending him in the comments.

    Oh, well — I’m sure they’ll all have fun at next year’s TAM.

  29. 29
    Jason Thibeault

    Ever wanted to know what a maliciously false rape rumour looks like? Funny that it looks significantly like “protect and serve”, and completely different from the multiply substantiated patterns of behaviour in evidence with regard to Michael Shermer.

    And this ain’t the only one “protect and serve” has left around these parts.

    Which do you figure is higher on their priority list: smearing the people who are tarnishing their hero’s good name, or making sure that it’s impossible for real rape victims to ever see justice?

  30. 30
    Merlin

    Jason:
    I would guess that they are well pleased that both of their closely-held values can be served with one action.

  31. 31
    John Phillips, FCD

    I used to enjoy reading JT but I am another who has now had enough. He just seems to dig in on the wrong side on anything not to do with atheism or mental health and he truly appears to believe that he can’t be wrong on any subject he opines on thus any criticism is automatically unfounded. Perhaps one day he’ll mature a bit, until then, yet another in the ‘community’ to ignore.

  32. 32
    Bean

    Like a number of other commenters, this makes me really sad. I should say first off that I’m totally in agreement with you, Jason and Greta and Jen. I’m really sad that JT is being so stubborn about this.
    Maybe this has been discussed before but does anyone else get the impression that all this could have been avoided if JT had recognised that he was projecting his own embarrassment onto the original (off-topic) “question asker”? The fact that Bria used another speaker’s Q&A to voice her opinion might have made him uncomfortable because this isn’t really ‘protocol’ for a Q&A. She had every right to say what she said when she said it in the way she said it, even if people found it shocking or embarrassing. Deal with your own emotions rather than projecting them. We let people speak in this movement. We listen to other points of view. How can we consider ourselves free-thinkers otherwise?

  33. 33
    dantalion

    Perhaps I should modify, or at least clarify, the bit about “one blog post”. I wasn’t trying to say you (Jason) were basing your entire opinion of JT on this one incident. I could see how that could be a reasonable interpretation of what I said. But not really what I was going for.

    What I was intending to say is that “you” (those people reading these threads) should look at the primary sources and not just those reporting on the primary sources.

    I have my own disagreements with what JT said, and the more information comes out about this incident the more I am of the opinion that he shouldn’t have said it (referring both to his conversation with Bria and the first of his explanatory blog posts). But the response should be to what he did say, not what Jen quoted him as saying (as should be clear to anyone who did read JT’s post, those are not the same thing).

  34. 34
    piegasm

    @33 dantalion

    Jen’s post was about the implications of what JT said and did, not a literal translation. That you and JT don’t can’t wrap your brains around that isn’t evidence that we haven’t read JT’s post.

  35. 35
    Onamission5

    @33 dantalion

    I read his posts. I read both of Jen’s and both of Greta’s and Fredrick’s and Sikivu’s and Ian’s and Jason’s and Dana’s and Heina’s. It’s ungracious to assume that everyone (or anyone) who’s upset right now has only read one thing on the matter or has little sense of context by which to form their opinions. I don’t know what the point of your comment was, unless to say that while you agree with the premise you’re still digging for a way to chastise based upon your assumptions about the method.

  36. 36
    Nick Wood

    I’m a pretty busy person, so I must confess that I haven’t been in the skeptics’ loop lately, but I can say that I have met JT Eberhard personally (I spent an evening with him after he participated in a debate sponsered by UCSC’s chapter of the SSA). The guy is as humane and decent a human being as anyone I’ve met — but I also figured from watching him form arguments firsthand that he has difficulty withstanding argumentative pressure, and he can certainly seem flippant in public (and in his blog posts too) — and that certainly can’t have helped him in this series of exchanges.

    With this in mind, I took a look at this whole issue with Bria Crutchfield. From what I understand (and I wasn’t present, so I’ll reserve judgements upon peoples’ behavior), the issue seems to be that Mr. Eberhard was criticizing Ms. Crutchfield for being unduly harsh (in his opinion, of course) on an audience member for asking a poorly phrased question which came off as being patronizing and racist. I Now, he seems to be catching heat for daring to criticize Crutchfield’s done while also being a cis-gendered white male. From what I remember of him from personal experience, it seems as if he has proceeded to dig himself deeper into the hole by attempting to counter the tongue-lashing he brought on himself instead of choosing his battles and shrugging all of it off. Again, I’m not sure what actually happened, but I don’t know how this:

    “I explained that the woman in the audience didn’t mean offense, and to then take over another speaker’s Q&A to yell at her was probably a disproportionate and unproductive response”

    Could be interpreted as “JT Eberhard is lecturing a black woman on how to behave!” it seems to me that he was criticizing her for letting her temper get the better of her when some random woman asked a naive question in a room full of liberal-minded atheists as if she were hurling out racial slurs. He may have been naive himself in misunderstanding her intentions, and maybe he should have ate his humble pie when his words were turned back on him, but this all reminds me of the hole Richard Dawkins got thrown into when he made an offhand comment to some random female blogger in an elevator. The vitriol was probably deserved, and Dawkins did much to make his own situation worse, but It also exposes a strain of hyperbolic righteous indignation which seems to affect the atheist community quite often — if anyone here is interested in improving atheism’s public image, methinks this is something to consider.

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