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Mar 10 2014

Which atheists get exemption from criticism?

Some people are really unhappy that some of us disagree strongly with David Silverman’s CPAC strategy. JT Eberhard has invented a series of rationales for why people had the temerity to question the president of American Atheists (and he didn’t call me up to ask if any of them were valid!).

1. People took this to mean that David Silverman was anti-choice.

Interesting. Could you name some? I didn’t see anyone accuse Silverman of being personally anti-choice, although admittedly I could well have missed some. For myself, I simply took it for granted that Silverman himself was pro-choice, and that he was simply trying to acknowledge some arguments that are floating around out there…bad arguments. It would have mitigated a lot of the criticisms if he’d come right out and said that, but he didn’t.

2. People were upset that he was trying to make inroads with conservatives.

Take that sentence apart, JT. “Make inroads”…how? When I heard that American Atheists was going to be represented at CPAC, I was baffled — I didn’t understand the purpose. I assumed that he was going to be a bit confrontational, as he’s so good at doing — that it would be analogous to his appearances on Bill O’Reilly’s show, where he’d be forthright in presenting the atheist position. I’m all for that kind of honest confrontation.

I was even more confused by the statements he made to the press, though. Instead of confrontation, I saw an attempt to empathize with far right radicals. That was troubling. Silverman’s specialty is not subtlety, and there he was trying to balance between provocation and conciliation. He failed.

3. While not saying or believing that anti-choice arguments are sound, what he still did was a “tip of the hat” to the anti-choice crowd.

That’s more like it, and I think that’s a more accurate representation of what Silverman’s critics are thinking. As I already pointed out, a fairly solid majority of the atheist membership have a strong opinion on abortion, and actually, those “secular arguments against abortion” are abysmally bad.

It is simply not enough for an argument to be atheist or secular — it also has to be sound. We don’t simply accept bad arguments if they have the consequence of reinforcing atheist perceptions, we’re supposed to be better than that.

4. People think making the statement in the context of CPAC made it easy to misinterpret.

That’s a good point. When you’re representing a politically liberal organization (you may think the charter has no political leaning, but the membership most definitely does), you had better be acutely conscious of perils of attempting to recruit within the ranks of one of the more rabidly conservative conferences out there. Why is anyone surprised that many of us fail to see the point of this exercise, when Silverman failed to make the case to us?

He still hasn’t made the case, either. I still don’t understand what he hoped to accomplish at this meeting.

JT then makes a set of accusations that I’ve typically heard from the misogynist side of the atheist community, including, on twitter, a claim that David Silverman was a victim of a “witch hunt”. Good god. I like David Silverman personally, I support American Atheists, but that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with tactics, and openly say so. This is simply ridiculous:

Holy crap, can we stop trying to make it out like people who have fought for causes we love for years are suddenly betraying them?  Can we stop shoving words into allies’ mouths they never said to support that narrative?  We’re the atheist movement, we should at least be able to deal with what each other actually say.  That is the minimum standard to which we should live up.

As was done. No one shoved words into his mouth; we quoted literally what he was reported to have said, and took issue with that. Apparently, we’re supposed to have an imaginary David Silverman in our head who only says things we agree with, and interpret those words in that light.

So many atheists are sick and fucking tired of the in-fighting and the inability to resolve things without just talking to one another (and questioning their loyalty).  

You know what I’m sick and fucking tired of? Atheists who value unity so much that they won’t tolerate dissent from the leadership. Our strength is our willingness to object and argue, that we don’t bow down before dogma, that no one is above criticism. People are disagreeing with Silverman; I haven’t heard a one question his “loyalty” (which is a really weird statement in the first place — when did loyalty to the movement become a criterion for membership?).

If this is the way atheism is supposed to be, how about if we get a list of all the people we are not allowed to question? That would be helpful, since there is some ambiguity in who the infallible ones are. I know I’m not one of them, since other atheists are quite comfortable with savaging me in terms that make David Silverman’s treatment look quite cuddly. Are we really going to go down the road of setting up authority figures and condemning dissent as disloyalty now?

How many people do you think actually said to themselves “Dave Silverman is anti-abortion?  That doesn’t sound right given everything I know about him.  Maybe I’ll ask him before making a big deal out of this.”  The answer: not many, and that’s a damn shame.  There are plenty of real enemies to atheism out there, we really don’t need to fabricate more out of the people who are on our side.

This is stupid.

Again, where are these people who said Silverman was anti-abortion? I know I wasn’t one of them. Ophelia Benson wasn’t, either. Neither was Jason Thibeault. Who called David Silverman an enemy to atheism? I think he’s usually a good advocate; I also think this case was a misstep. That doesn’t in any way imply that I suddenly have changed my tune and think he’s an enemy who must be deposed.

And here’s another thing I find naive and annoying: did I call up Dave and ask him if he was anti-abortion? No, because for one thing, I assumed that he was pro-choice, like almost all atheists, and for a second, who the hell does that? I notice that no one called me and asked whether I thought Silverman was anti-choice. Never in my entire blogging career has anyone called me or written to me and asked me to expand on something I said before they started publicly criticizing me for it, whatever it was.

What was criticized was a set of published statements that we disagreed with. It was that set of comments that we thought important enough to address; a personal communication that said he didn’t really mean it doesn’t make the public record disappear.

I want people leaving religion to see an atheist movement that is patient and eager to understand, not a group of people chomping at the bit to question the motives/character of people who have been doing the legwork in our interest for years.

There you go again, JT. You’re taking vocal disagreement with policy and tactics as character assassination. It wasn’t. I think the CPAC mess was a mistake, and poorly handled. That doesn’t mean I’ve been calling for anyone to be burnt at the stake. And I’m not going to abstain from saying so out loud out of deference to some abstract notion of “loyalty” to a movement, an attitude that I find detrimental to freethought.

I want people leaving religion to see an atheist movement with the integrity and honesty to question its own. Not another dogmatic institution with authority figures that will accuse you of disloyalty if you disagree with them.

70 comments

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  1. 1
    chigau (違う)

    I want an exemption.
    Because I’m *special* (snowflake and/or sparklepony).
    And I’m not part of any “movement”.

  2. 2
    PZ Myers

    NO EXEMPTIONS FOR ANYBODY.

  3. 3
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    But I’ve got a note from me Mam…

  4. 4
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    NO EXEMPTIONS FOR ANYBODY.

    Well, that’s definitely free speech instead of freeze peach, which a certain segment of the atheist population misguided believes in.

  5. 5
    anteprepro

    I’m sick of all of the in-fighting and lack of resolving things too: If only atheists actually listened to other people’s arguments, admitted error whenever it occurred, and changed their opinions accordingly! I mean, according to the legends, told in Ancient Tales in the Halls of Interweb, most of the Devotees of Athe were once shackled in the Temple of Relig Gon! And they were happy but slightly irritated, agitated. They knew something was slightly off joining others in the ignorant bliss of Relig Gon. So they itched and itched and finally discovered it: The invisible shackles. So they eventually removed the shackles and left Relig Gon, free and intellectually superior to the other blind followers placidly remaining behind. Oh what a dream!

    But sadly, most Devotees of Athe are just blind contrarians compared to the typical blind follower. It turns out being right about one subject doesn’t make them into the infallible ubermensch they were expecting to be.

  6. 6
    chuckv

    My general view on Silverman is he tries lots of things. Some I agree with, some I don’t. Some things work out, some don’t. I’m glad he is out there doing what he does, I like his confrontational attitude. I hope he takes constructive criticism like PZ’s to decide what to do in the future.

  7. 7
    chigau (違う)

    WHAAAAAHAAAA!!!

  8. 8
    loreo

    “I want people leaving religion to see an atheist movement with the integrity and honesty to question its own. Not another dogmatic institution with authority figures that will accuse you of disloyalty if you disagree with them.”
    Yeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssss

    I was a devout Catholic for 20 years – I can see authoritarianism and tribalism a mile off, and I want NONE of it. Anyone who wants to represent us has the very great responsibility of listening to us and respecting dissent; we can be better than the institutions who worship tyrants.

  9. 9
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    (which is a really weird statement in the first place — when did loyalty to the movement become a criterion for membership?).

    Loyalty to what movement? I’m not part of the same movement as anyone who complains that the Democrats are too liberal for him, full stop. So I’m not questioning Silverman’s ‘loyalty to the movement’, I’m flatly stating that whatever movement he’s part of isn’t mine and never will be.

  10. 10
    miller

    Actually I wish people would be more willing to criticize national atheist orgs. Basically my point of comparison are national LGBT orgs, and let me tell you queer people get so mad at them sometimes. I don’t know if queer people are necessarily doing things better than atheists, but yeah.

  11. 11
    duce7999

    Is there a secular argument for never voting for atheists?

    What if I asked S.E. Cupp?

    What if David had instead said,

    “I will admit there is a secular argument against electing atheists. You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”

    Would we have raced to say “But he’s right, there is!”? I think the general response is pretty expected. To go on the record, if David ever acknowledges that there are secular arguments against voting for atheists, he better take the few extra words necessary to say “and they are awful.”

  12. 12
    gmacs

    I was a devout Catholic for 20 years – I can see authoritarianism and tribalism a mile off

    You don’t need a background in authoritarianism to recognize it. I grew up in a relatively liberal congregation, and I could still sniff out the slightest odor of authoritarianism.

    …Babysitters hated me.

    Also, on one of JT’s points: I would never question a person’s loyalty. I’m not sure I value the concept of loyalty to give a shit. Respect and gratitude, sure, but not loyalty.

  13. 13
    Suido

    Loyalty is an interesting thing. The only time it seems to matter is when there are acknowledged reasons to not be loyal. It’s a trait rooted in tribalism, and should be viewed askance by any honest freethinker.

  14. 14
    Jafafa Hots

    Anyone who wants to represent us has the very great responsibility of listening to us and respecting dissent

    “Represent us?”

    Nobody represents me except me, and I’d have stern words for anyone else who claimed to.

  15. 15
    kraut

    Demanding Loyalty is the last refuge of the scoundrel who betrays a movement.
    Not saying that DS does that, but some who think that leadership should not be criticized apparently do. They betray a movement based on skeptical analysis, questioning everything and demanding answers and accountability from those in power.

  16. 16
    rorschach

    Oh FFS. This isn’t about Silverman at all, it’s the anti-Myers brigade seeing an opportunity to score some cheap points against PZ, and maybe endear themself to Dave in the process. Dumb tribalist BS is what it is.

  17. 17
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    JT, as willing to throw people under the bus as always. Lie back and think of the movement, baby.

    This loyalty thing. it’s funny. It’s a one way street. Minorities, people whose rights have just been put up for debate, people who only feel marginally represented by the mainstream group are always asked to be loyal. You know, once this Very Important Fight™ the majority cares about is done maybe then they could spend some time on your issues, but don’t count on it. Those at the top, OTOH, are never asked to be loyal to the needs of the minority groups. They are excused. They need to make compromises, reach out to ultra conservatives therefore you have to understand that they might have to kick you under the bus every once in a while. But don’t worry, they are really on your side. Keep giving generously.

  18. 18
    Louis

    That thing Rorschach said. That is the true thing.

    Louis

  19. 19
    Louis

    It is, of course, the mandated time to post the link to Bill Hicks’ “People Who Hate People Party” bit.

    Louis

  20. 20
    carlie

    Isn’t one of the biggest criticisms atheists have against moderate Christians that they don’t speak out when extremist Christian leaders say/do things they don’t agree with? So shouldn’t they want atheists to do the same?

    I’m saying it. I do not want any part of adding conservative Republicans into movement atheism if it comes at the cost of going mushy on women’s rights so they feel better about themselves.

  21. 21
    Greta Christina

    So how is it exactly that it’s “in-fighting” for PZ, Ophelia, and others to criticize
    David Silverman – but it’s not “in-fighting” for JT to criticize PZ, Ophelia, et al?

    I am engaging in healthy debate; you are infighting; they are creating deep rifts.

  22. 22
    tsig

    I thought saviors were supposed to die for us before we worshiped them.

  23. 23
    Badland

    Viciously ninja’d by Greta!

    I lie, she made my point far better than I was going to. Ugly hypocrisy is ugly, and it’s especially sad that JT, who believes himself to be all rational and objective and smart an’ stuff, can’t see that

  24. 24
    embertine

    These days, even just reading the word “allies” coming from JT’s keyboard makes me wince. Pity, as I like a lot of what he has to say, but boy howdy is the man oblivious to anything outside of his own range of issues.

  25. 25
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Since when did gentle and deserved criticism of a specific act amount to defamation of a person’s entire character? Did the Oxford Dictionary bring a new edition out that I missed, or something?

  26. 26
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    BTW, Silverman’s own actual words show how little consideration he gave women’s rights.
    He says that unlike with gay marriage or right to die there is a secular argument against abortion.
    Now, I thinkwe have all heard the secular arguments against those other things. We have all heard and read the atheists who told us why gay marriage is rong and why people shouldn’t be able to choos when and how to die. Those arguments exist as well. Silverman rightly dismisses them for the bullshit they are, just like we all do.
    So by setting the “secular argument against abortion” apart from these other bullshit arguments he gives it more worth, deems it not-bullshit and worthy for discussion.
    So it’s reasonable to say that Silverman is not as pro-choice as he is pro marriage equality.

  27. 27
    Forelle

    To me, loyalty can be very important — loyalty to people who have been our friends or comrades and suddenly find themselves in a weak or vulnerable position. Loyalty (qualified of course — mitigated or exacerbated by other circumstances) is for underdogs. What the powerful need is constant challenge, also in order to win respect.
    Loyalty towards a whole group has a similar dynamic, depending on the relative positions of power. This man is asking for blind allegiance.

  28. 28
    David Marjanović

    Loyalty is an interesting thing. The only time it seems to matter is when there are acknowledged reasons to not be loyal. It’s a trait rooted in tribalism, and should be viewed askance by any honest

    Seconded.

    I am engaging in healthy debate; you are infighting; they are creating deep rifts.

    Fun with suppletive verbs!

    Since when did gentle and deserved criticism of a specific act amount to defamation of a person’s entire character? Did the Oxford Dictionary bring a new edition out that I missed, or something?

    As I keep finding out the hard way, there are people out there who seem to honestly believe that everything anyone ever says is first and foremost about the social status of everyone involved. They believe nobody ever says “that’s stupid” without meaning “I’m always smarter than you”, and that nobody ever says “that’s wrong” without meaning “look how right I always am, and how much authority I have to tell people they’re wrong!”. The very possibility doesn’t occur to them.

    I don’t know Eberhard anywhere near well enough to tell if he tends in this direction to some degree; it would not, however, greatly surprise me.

  29. 29
    doublereed

    This post was spot on and anyone who disagrees with PZ is an enemy of the movement.

  30. 30
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    JT is another one of those supposed allies that goes running to the arms of the other side when we don’t make it all sufficiently about them. LOOK AT ME, I’M AN ALLY, ADORE ME!

  31. 31
    bargearse

    Just tell me who to swear undying allegiance to and I’ll defend them no matter what. That’s how this free thinking thing works right?

  32. 32
    Louis

    My favourite are the allies who say that if you don’t appease them they’ll stop being allies. That’s proper loyalty and don’t you forget it. Now shut up and do as your told, peons.

    Louis

  33. 33
    Louis

    Incidentally, as a (now slightly foxed and fallen) upper(middle)-ish class* British man (private school edumacted doncherknow) you really should all be doing as I tell you. Granted, I’m slightly on the duskier side of things, and as such probably should be enslaved for my own benefit, but in the absence of a better qualified candidate I am naming myself Freelance Atheist Pope**, and dammit you all have to king my ring.***

    Louis

    *I’ve done the BBC survey to prove it. Don’t fuck with me. I’ll wear my Barbour jacket and green Hunter wellies. I’ll do it. I’ll write you a postcard in pencil. I’m just wild enough to insult you that atrociously.

    **Deliberate Acronym Is Deliberate.

    ***Jokes left as an exercise for the reader.

  34. 34
    ekwhite

    If I have to swear a loyalty oath, you can count me out. When did atheism become a cult?

  35. 35
    carlie

    Giliell at #26 is spot-on, especially with the right to die argument. The arguments against right to die have an awful lot in common with the anti-abortion arguments, yet he says one has a secular argument and the other does not.

  36. 36
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I guess I mostly really don’t understand those (JT, Silverman, Stefanelli, others I won’t name here) who seem determined to alienate all the people who actually gave a fuck about them in return for uncritical adulation from a bunch of assholes. It might feel good now, but when they’re through with you…

  37. 37
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    If we really must think in terms of loyalty, I would say that it is Silverman who has been disloyal–which is why he’s being criticized. He knows that the membership of AA is mostly liberal (and if not, he ought). He also knows, for example, how troubled people in the larger American atheist community/movement/whathaveyou were when Edwina Rogers was appointed/hired and what concerns they voiced. So what is he doing (A) courting people who have already acted as the enemies of AA; (B) throwing his current membership under the bus to do it; (C) making sure that it’s women specifically who land under the wheel, when the atheist community/movement/whathaveyou already has an extremely serious issue with misogyny and sexism?

    Perhaps when the representatives of the atheist/secular c/m/w *start* showing some loyalty to me as a woman, I’ll start considering whether to feel some reciprocal loyalty. I’m not holding my breath.

  38. 38
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Silverman needs to learn that the difference between ass kissing and brownnosing is depth perception.

  39. 39
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Perhaps when the representatives of the atheist/secular c/m/w *start* showing some loyalty to me as a woman, I’ll start considering whether to feel some reciprocal loyalty. I’m not holding my breath.

    *gasp* But don’t you know? Your humanity is simply an abstract for white men to argue away for amusement!

  40. 40
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    It also says something about the effectiveness of Silverman’s leadership that his answer to “you offended me” isn’t “I’m so sorry, let me rephrase that” but rather “FUCK YOU I’M IN CHARGE RAAAARRRR!!!”

  41. 41
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    David

    They believe nobody ever says “that’s stupid” without meaning “I’m always smarter than you”, and that nobody ever says “that’s wrong” without meaning “look how right I always am, and how much authority I have to tell people they’re wrong!”. The very possibility doesn’t occur to them.

    That might be because for them it’s true.

  42. 42
    Steve LaBonne

    While I have great respect for A+, it is really not doing much to counter the general air of frat-house white male libertarianish privilege that dominates organized atheism and “skepticism”. I care a hell of a lot more about combating evils like racism, sexism, homophobia, economic injustice, and environmental devastation than I do about assaying teh precise amount of supernaturalism in anybody else’s thinking. Working toward my aspirations for this country and the world can frankly be done far more effectively in the company of my fellow Unitarian Universalists (even the ones who

  43. 43
    Steve LaBonne

    While I have great respect for the idea of A+ and for our esteemed host, it is really not doing much to counter the general air of frat-house white male libertarianish privilege that dominates organized atheism and “skepticism”. I care a hell of a lot more about combating evils like racism, sexism, homophobia, economic injustice, and environmental devastation than I do about assaying and sitting in judgment on the precise amount of supernaturalism in anybody else’s thinking. Working toward my aspirations for this country and the world can frankly be done far more effectively in the company of my fellow Unitarian Universalists (even the ones who unlike me are vaguely theist or animist) and even of liberal Christians like the UCC than in concert with any atheist organization, though I certainly welcome any of the latter that are willing to make common cause with progressives instead of engaging in intellectual penis-measuring. If that’s “accomodationism”, too fucking bad. Life is short and one has to choose one’s priorities. Atheism is an important, but by no means the most important, part of who I am and what I stand for.

  44. 44
    Steve LaBonne

    Sorry for the premature ejaculation. ;)

  45. 45
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    My favorite type of ally. The ally who is always open to debated the limits of your rights.

    Anti-abortion? Let’s talk about at which cases can be allowed and ignore the violence directed at abortion providers.

    Anti LGB? Let us talk about how all people should respect your religious duty to hate and how all of us can implement “religious freedom” laws.

    Anti-trans? Let’s talk about how trans women are actively trying to erase women from the narrative and are actually men in dresses.

    Sorry. I do not like these type of allies. When the very nature of my existence is up for debate, I do not want to be part of the discussion.

  46. 46
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Janine:

    But, don’t you want allies around to tell you how much you only need to be civil to make headroads? Your time will come, let’s just make friends now and maybe in the future we’ll get to your issues.

  47. 47
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Louis #33
    Kiss your ring, or your ringpiece?

  48. 48
    Louis

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy,

    Well, it would help if I hadn’t spelled “kiss” wrong, but let’s just go with “How the Freelance Atheist Pope feels on the day” shall we? After all, the right penitent, the right frock…

    Louis

  49. 49
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    And, I mean, holy shit, where is Dave Muscato in all this? He’s their PR director, why isn’t he pulling Silverman aside and saying, “Uhh, Dave, you may not want to run around the internet insulting everybody who disagrees with you. Might not be good for the image.”

  50. 50
    anteprepro

    He’s their PR director, why isn’t he pulling Silverman aside and saying, “Uhh, Dave, you may not want to run around the internet insulting everybody who disagrees with you. Might not be good for the image.”

    Is that something going down on Twitter or is he delving into blogs as well?

  51. 51
    jamessweet

    I think an important point that JT missed is that PZ did not use Comic Sans when quoting Silverman. From PZ, that is a pretty clear indicator that he is trying to express disagreement rather than condemnation.

  52. 52
    anteprepro

    I think an important point that JT missed is that PZ did not use Comic Sans when quoting Silverman. From PZ, that is a pretty clear indicator that he is trying to express disagreement rather than condemnation.

    Hopefully he will note that. Because then he will also note that PZ’s reply to JT IS in Comic Sans. Maybe that might be a wakeup call? But I doubt it.

  53. 53
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Is that something going down on Twitter or is he delving into blogs as well?

    He popped up on the Secular Census post about the demographics of atheism and ripped into them too. Then when I asked him if he thought it was good PR to go around yelling at people, he played the “I wasn’t yelling, where was I yelling?” game.

  54. 54
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Wow, he’s making it very clear right now on Twitter that he really doesn’t give a fuck about anything other than “being right.” And that I’m clearly not who he wants in his petty little movement.

    Fuck you too, Dave.

  55. 55
    anteprepro

    He popped up on the Secular Census post about the demographics of atheism and ripped into them too.

    Hahaha. Yeah, just looked at that. Got a tiny merry crew of apologists too. And criticizing them for alleged lack of “journalistic integrity”? Just WOW.

  56. 56
    Bronze Dog

    As always, the people who stress unity generally stress that everyone else in the group conform to their standards, rather than consider that they might be the ones who need to change for the sake of that unity. The way you find out is argue about the issues rationally. There’s not much point in asking for unity if it means chickening out of an evaluation of what everyone wants out of the group. That’s how real deep rifts form.

  57. 57
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Ugh, I wasn’t built for confrontation. I’m literally shaking. Even though it ended well, I think I’ll leave it to others next time.

  58. 58
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Wow, he’s making it very clear right now on Twitter that he really doesn’t give a fuck about anything other than “being on the right.”

    Fixed that for him. At any rate, thats certainly the aspect of Silverman that I give a fuck about.

  59. 59
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Bronze Dog:

    +1

    That’s my issue with the whole color blindness thing – it’s usually a buzzword for “act more white.”

  60. 60
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @David Marjanovic #28

    As I keep finding out the hard way, there are people out there who seem to honestly believe that everything anyone ever says is first and foremost about the social status of everyone involved. They believe nobody ever says “that’s stupid” without meaning “I’m always smarter than you”, and that nobody ever says “that’s wrong” without meaning “look how right I always am, and how much authority I have to tell people they’re wrong!”. The very possibility doesn’t occur to them.

    Seriously, I used to react like that to criticism when I was a young teenager with all the associated teen angst and self-esteem worries. I got better at accepting criticism by the time I was 17, and by the time I hit my twenties I was pretty much done with it. An adult indulging those assumptions sounds very much like some sort of inferiority complex.

  61. 61
    Ophelia Benson

    And then you broke Twitter, so I can’t even go look.

  62. 62
    pneumo

    I think Eberhard just accidentally replaced his own name with “Silverman”.

  63. 63
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Ha, I hold great power! The power to break Twitter!

    Seriously, though, I’m stepping back for a while. I think David and I hit on an understanding at the end of our debate and I’ll let other people take it from there.

  64. 64
    Pierce R. Butler

    Where is Matthew Nisbet when we really need him???

  65. 65
    unclefrogy

    this brings up some thoughts. Many “leaders” especially those of the more conservative bent do not seem to understand who or what a leader really is. They think they are the boss the important one. They are in the foreground at the front of the movement setting the agenda the direction when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
    It is and always will be the followers that are in charge. Without followers they are just one voice. They are merely out front saying what the followers want, they are in the front because the the mass wants them to be there. When the leader strays too far from what is acceptable to the followers they just ignore them at the minimum
    That is why our host here does not make great claims of authority but is just one voice who also provides this space for anyone else to talk about what he finds is of importance to him
    almost by definition free thinkers would be the most difficult to try to lead out of loyalty and authority. if I am not mistaken modern democratic thinking grew out of the work of free thinkers and skeptics.
    no kings!
    Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,
    uncle frogy

  66. 66
    MyaR

    They believe nobody ever says “that’s stupid” without meaning “I’m always smarter than you”, and that nobody ever says “that’s wrong” without meaning “look how right I always am, and how much authority I have to tell people they’re wrong!”.

    It doesn’t even take saying “that’s stupid”. “I think you may have missed [relevant information] in your analysis” turns into “look how right I always am, and how stupid you are” in their minds. (Or it turns into “LOL! You’re using [insert feminine or slur of some sort] fake-logic, and do not understand my argument! LOLOLOLOL!”, depending on just how touchy/bigoted they are.)

    It’s shocking how much of this you find in work environments and from people who should know better. I’ll just say this — having a PhD in philosophy doesn’t mean you know how to think. (And this is only in relation to a particular, very small set of philosophy PhDs that I have to work with, and not in an academic environment.)

  67. 67
    Al Dente

    J.T. Eberhard is claiming disloyalty to something or other by atheists disagreeing with David Silverman. Supposedly Silverman is such an important leader of the Atheist Movement™ that the slightest hint of dissent from Silverman’s dogma that the dissenters “shall be cast into a furnace of fire where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 13:42)

    Since Eberhard also considers himself a leader of the Atheist Movement™, will disagreement with him result in a similar fate for dissenters?

  68. 68
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Dalillama #9:

    Loyalty to what movement? I’m not part of the same movement as anyone who complains that the Democrats are too liberal for him, full stop. So I’m not questioning Silverman’s ‘loyalty to the movement’, I’m flatly stating that whatever movement he’s part of isn’t mine and never will be.

    This. 9001 billions and billions of Sagans of this.

    And I’m really quite annoyed that everyone’s talking about the anti-choice arguments quote, but barely anyone is talking about the quote where he said, explicitly that the Democrats — in other words policy involving the absolute most basic respect for marginalized folks — are “too liberal” for him.

    Movements that tolerate such regressive ideology will not empower me, a trans woman. They will protect and coddle those who see my empowerment as “too much, too soon”, if not outright evil. They are not movements that I want to be a part of.

    And so, there’s a very good reason why — barring some sort of magical money fairy granting me a trip to WiS or another Skepticon — Skepticon 6 is likely to be my last skepticism/atheism-focused con.

  69. 69
    smhll

    …not a group of people chomping at the bit to question the motives/character of people who have been doing the legwork in our interest for years.

    Must be nice to belong to the subgroup of atheists that doesn’t get pregnant, and thus is less harmed by unscientific abstinence education in schools, legislation that makes doctors lie to and withhold information from pregnant patients, unnecessary intrusive testing which the patient is forced to pay for and the doctor is forced to provide, waiting periods and regulations about the sizes of rooms and corridors in abortion clinics.

    Because if this kind of unscientific bullshit was getting between cis men and their medical care, maybe the ‘mainstream’ atheist movement would be a little more aware and a little less willing to offer god-doubting conservatives a big hug.

  70. 70
    speed0spank

    After the ridiculous billboards that group put up, I couldn’t expect them to have a decent leader.

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