Holding clay feet to witch-burning fires

One of the more ridiculous memes that’s gained a disproportionate amount of traction in the freethought community is that of “witch hunts”. It’s the idea that there’s some roving band of bloggers and commenters hunting for the least appearance of deviation from the One True Path and punishing with extreme prejudice without evidence or empathy. It’s that if you dare speak up, you’ll be unfairly tarred and silenced and black-bagged and murdered and possibly eaten.

This band is invariably called “FTB”, “FTBullies”, “FTB and Skepchick”, or some mutation of the network’s name that includes the word “from” or “feminist”. Lately the smear also applies to atheism plus — mostly because that label, in being inclusive of outgroups, makes an outgroup of bigots and misogynists. Doesn’t matter if the people involved are actually from either network — it’s enough to use our site name as a shibboleth, to associate it with this opposition-to-the-haters as though that’s somehow a bad thing.

What’s actually going on here, though, is significantly different.
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Freethought, and freedom to express yourself on someone else’s private property

Freethought Blogs was founded by our Glorious Leader Ed Brayton on the principle that many great voices in the community (meaning, at the time, himself and PZ Myers) were being actively squelched in some fields of interest and needed a place where they could blog about atheism, skepticism, humanism, politics, et cetera, without being curtailed on one or any of these topics by their blog overlords. It has since expanded to include more, and better, writers than I, but I am privileged to also call this blog my home, and the compatriots and friends I have made here mean the world to me. Not to mention the total autonomy I have in what I get to talk about and how I get to do it — there is, basically, no hive mind, no dogmatic demand of adherence to any principles in specific. We disagree with one another quite frequently, in fact, but we are comrades where and when it counts. All in all, Freethought Blogs is generally a damn good place to be.

And then some assholes come along and demand the right to piss on your rug. All in the name of “freethought”.
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