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.
[Read more...]

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”.
[Read more...]

Moderation, censorship, and The New Stasi at FtB

The latest imbroglio here at Freethought Blogs appears to be an ongoing systemic campaign of trolling and attempting to silence several voices via liberal application of a megaphone and a large and varied vocabulary of misogynist slurs and outright libel about certain individuals. One aspect of this campaign and one possible course of action that we’ve stumbled across, having had Franc Hoggle’s identity dropped into our laps by one of his real-life acquaintances, has repercussions that have drawn out a contingent of slimepit denizens to amp up the silencing campaign. I will refer herein to these crusaders collectively as “douchebags” or some variant thereupon.

So far, PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson have borne the brunt of the assault by the douchebags, though Stephanie Zvan is rapidly climbing the ranks of people being targeted. Greg Laden and I are thus far mere also-rans.

One of the things that I do around these parts is observe the larger knock-down drag-out fights, and pull out the side concerns — the little individual jabs and parries in conversations — and dissect them. During this ongoing fight, one of the largest bête noires raised by the douchetariat is the question of censorship. Specifically, that when one of them gets put into moderation for refusing to stay on topic or for outright flaming or spamming or otherwise disrupting conversation, they are being censored in violation of their freedom to douche publicly.
[Read more...]

The Donors Choose challenge: outdo the rest of these rookie bloggers!

Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll kindly direct your gaze to the third widget on the right column of this page entitled Donors Choose Challenge, you’ll notice that this blog alongside the rest of Freethought Blogs is actively soliciting donations for various projects in this year’s Donors Choose drive. I am manually selecting all the scholastic projects I can find in extremely underprivileged areas, especially those that relate to science, literature and math at all levels.
[Read more...]