Robin Williams brings joy to the hearts of journalists and politicians once again


I’m sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family. But his sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people. I mean, really: young 18 year old black man gunned down for walking in the street vs. 63 year old white comedian killing himself? Which of those two stories gives you an excuse to play heart-warming and funny video clips non-stop on your 24 hour news channel? Besides, the real story in Missouri is that businesses have been damaged by angry black people — no one is going to trash the Family Dollar in rage over the death of a popular comedian. Mike Brown’s death is confusing — the police say he was a shoplifter struggling to get a gun, while no stores reported a shoplifting event, and Brown was unarmed and shot while raising his hands in surrender. Where’s the moral clarity? We’re supposed to want to believe the police, you know, yet all the evidence points to their status as a gang of militarized thugs. That’s very uncomfortable.

Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction. No one wants to think the police might be untrustworthy.

And think of the politicians! Midterm elections are coming up. Those are important! So people like Barack Obama need to be able to show their human side and connect with the real concerns of the American people by immediately issuing a safe, kind statement about Robin Williams, while navigating the dangerous shoals of police brutality and black oppression by avoiding them. Wouldn’t want to antagonize those lovely law-and-order folks before an election, you see.

Lovely folks like this white lady:

nardi

She seems nice. She looks like the kind of person who would have laughed at “nanu-nanu” and cried at What Dreams May Come. She is a Real American whose opinions deserve the attention of the powers that be.

Comments

  1. Daniel Schealler says

    @carlie

    It is about how the media treats single-celebrity personal stories as orders of magnitude more important than the erosion of democracy happening right in front of us.

    That is a very good and true and important point. I agree. I agreed with this in the very comment from which you are quoting.

    It is unfortunate that PZ expressed this point in a way that will anger people that may otherwise have agreed with it.

  2. nich says

    By God, there is too much stupid to combat all at once. Reminds me of when Hovind junior sends his “students” in too bleat out creationist nonsense for a half hour. It’s just too much fail, too quickly.

    Except now they’re being sent by the same guy who wrote the fucking God Delusion and Jerry Coyne. Breathe the word brown or female or rape lately and Dawkins and his fucking little buddies release the Twitter Krakken and you get screaming hordes of jackasses shouting SJW at the top of their silly fucking lungs. I’ve had it up to my asshole with mainstream atheism and skepticism.

  3. John Kauffman says

    @Daniel Schealler

    You’re totally right and it’s pretty funny that so many people don’t understand it’s the same pattern. I’m not even saying he was wrong but it’s definitely similar to what Dawkins did and how he responded. Even the most recent post has insensitive comments like ‘fawn over the dead man’.

  4. chinpokomon says

    @Inaji — It was clearly made if you have any sort of reading comprehension at all what-so-ever.

    I mean, Jesus H. Christ, the man literally wrote: “…–thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people. I mean, really: young 18 year old black man gunned down for walking in the street vs. 63 year old white comedian killing himself? ”

    So you either didn’t read the piece, or are simply being willfully ignorant as to what it says.

    @Daniel Schealler — Don’t bother with Inaji. They have demonstrated a clear lack of reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Either that, or worse, they are willfully ignorant and intentionally blind.

  5. says

    shatterface:

    {quoting me}
    If I can add to this a bit…
    I think there are a lot of black people that would appreciate it if a serious, ongoing discussion of racism were opened up in society.

    I know that there are a lot of people with depression who don’t like the death of someone with depression sneered at, or used as a stick to beat others with.

    Where has PZ done that?
    Where have commenters done that?
    PZ isn’t sneering at Williams’ death. He’s not using his suicide to beat others up. He’s being critical of the media and politicians because of their focus.

    What do you think about the fact that the media is focused so much on Robin Williams’ death, but not on opening up a dialogue about the stigma of mental illness, or the state of mental healthcare in the US? This is after all, another media and political failing, and one that relates to the death of Williams.

  6. Daniel Schealler says

    @PZ

    What I am saying is that national news media that ought to be covering a wide swathe of the important issues of the day has a “Look, a squirrel!” mindset and will memory-hole major issues to cover anything to do with a celebrity.

    And I agree with you.

    The issue I’m referring to is that you have angered and alienated people who probably agree with you too simply from how you phrased it.

    I had assumed you would care about that. If you don’t then I apologize for wasting your time.

  7. says

    chinpokomon #486

    And I’m also talking about the relative importance of other stories and saying why should we arbitrarily stop there? Why not use this as an opportunity to talk about all of the most important stories going on in the world. Simply focusing on this one small issue seems to me to be a bit short sighted.

    Well, perhaps we could extend PZ’s point about relative importance to cover more than the medai coverage of just these two stories. Perhaps—and I’m just guessing here, you understand—PZ expected people to make such an extrapolation, what with it being a pretty damned obvious extrapolation to make, an’ all.

    I mean, thank God that we have a tragedy involving an American man to drag us away from the depressing news about the starvation and genocide of oppressed peoples around the globe, right?

    I mean, really: young 18 year old black man gunned down for walking in the street vs. entire populations of people wiped off the face of the earth due to genocide and starvation?

    Yes, because this single story of the death of an American black man at the hands of racist thugs, providing a single example of police racism, is completely unique and not part of an extremely worrying trend in US society. Thank Jebus for that, because that might be a really fucking important story, and we wouldn’t want it buried on page five, would we?

  8. anteprepro says

    PZ, you still could have made all of your points without seeming like you are being mocking or dismissive.

    Someone who commits suicide “Brings joy to the hearts of journalists”.

    “His sacrifice has been a great boon”

    “Thank god that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man”

    His death is a “spectacular distraction”.

    That’s pretty much dismissive in a nutshell.

    And I get it. I am a cynical bastard who feels fewer emotions regarding death than the average person and loves to be snarky and I have a morbid sense of humor. I’ve probably said something similar to this post several times in the past. And I feel irritated with every celebrity death. I don’t understand how people get so emotionally attached to famous people that they don’t actually know. But they do. And your post would probably agitate those people who feel an emotional connection, even if it is an irrational one through a TV screen.

    Though I will admit that the Dawkins comparison might be unfair because you are just dismissing the newsworthiness of the death of a celebrity compared to non-Hollywood Royalty, rather than trying to rank arbitrarily distinguished “types” of rape. But the element of being emotionally tone-deaf is the similar thread there.

  9. anteprepro says

    nich

    Except now they’re being sent by the same guy who wrote the fucking God Delusion and Jerry Coyne.

    Ah, is that where this current flood is coming from? I remember someone mentioning that Coyne wrote an article about this post, but did Dawkins too?

  10. chinpokomon says

    @Daz — Perhaps PZ is merely using a couple of tragedy’s to rail on the mainstream media for going with click-bait titles designed to draw web traffic over covering more important issues…by writing a click-bait article designed to drive web traffic over covering more important issues.

    Also, if PZ’s goal was to have this meta discussion then why didn’t he bring it up? Why not talk about the myriad of issues the media is failing to cover instead of focusing on this one hot button issue that he knows will drive web traffic? Seems to me, as I already pointed out, he’s doing literally the exact thing he’s accusing the media at large of doing.

    It seems like you’re the only one extrapolating that, basically out of thin air, because it happens to suit your argument.

    Yes, because that was totally my point. My point was that there is NO problem at all what so ever will racism or brutality towards minorities by the American justice system. Ugh, your rhetorical tactics are sickening. Keep mowing down those straw men, bud. At no point was I saying any of these things aren’t problems that need to be addressed. For you to imply that is embarrassing for you.

  11. says

    Daz:

    Yes, because this single story of the death of an American black man at the hands of racist thugs, providing a single example of police racism, is completely unique and not part of an extremely worrying trend in US society.

    Yeah, it’s not like John Crawford wasn’t gunned down this weekend in a Wal*Mart because he had a toy gun. In the toy department. In a store that seems to welcome open carry advocates (at least, as long as they are white). In an open carry state.

    Not like theres a pattern of this at all.

  12. jmzsil says

    Mental illness needs to be de-stigmatized and Racial profiling must be dealt with. Mental illness is a life long struggle, I know. What happened to an 18 year old college bound youth is a tragedy and proof that we still have a long way to go with race relations. The police (across the country)need to be put in DEEP check. One racial profiling, let alone MURDER is one too many. I don’t know how ANY police officer and the chief can quantify this action as just. A cop who thinks he is above the law Is obviously criminal. There is no reason to take weeks to determine the fate of this cops job. let all the witnesses take the stand. This guy will not get a fair trial but the out come should be obvious.
    Oh and the female, who looks like the nice grandma next door, The statement she made may be quantified in her mind, but in the real world, uh no.

  13. says

    Anteprepro:

    Daniel Schealler, I probably just disagree with Inaji in the degree to which I support this post. Pharyngula hivemind and all that.

    I apologize to you both, I do understand what you’re both trying to get across, tact wise and all. I am feeling very snappish today, and I’m very upset about what’s going on in Ferguson.* Yes, the post could have been more tactful. I don’t think it would have shocked anyone out of their complacency, though. I think this thread would have turned into another memorial for Mr. Williams, which really isn’t needed.
     
    *I wish more people were upset about what’s going on in Ferguson, instead of being pissy with PZ over Williams.

  14. says

    chinpokomon #10 (could someone please sort the friggin’ second-comment-page numbers out?)

    A bunch of people allegedly unable to spot obvious sarcasm, versus a really, really obvious extrapolation of PZ’s point about celebrity-skewed media…

    Yep, I can see why you went with the former. Sorry, for arguing with you. I didn’t realise when I began, that you’re a total fucking prat.

  15. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    I saw and noted the sarcasm. Whatever. As a suicidal person in the past I really don’t see how this downplays the personal tragedies of those like Robin Williams and myself. Big shrug about the hooplah over a non-starting non-issue. It was punching up 100% of the way.

  16. chinpokomon says

    @Daz — And now you resort to insults because you’ve been proven incorrect and you have no other form of argument. It’s OK to just admit when you’re wrong. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s all a part of growing up.

  17. vasileos efthymiadis says

    If you, like PZ Myers here, lack the mental capacity to care about more than one issue at a time please leave academia. You’re a moron and you need to stop. Just stop. I care about Robin William’s death quite a bit. He did more for me than the Gazans ever will. But I can still care about their suffering.

    But seriously, PZ. Get out of academia and leave the Atheism movement. You don’t have the mental capacity to handle it all

  18. says

    @Inaji

    Apology accepted. :)

    Thanks, Daniel. I am sorry for jumping on you, I know you usually have spot on commentary.

  19. anteprepro says

    Inaji

    I do understand what you’re both trying to get across, tact wise and all. I am feeling very snappish today, and I’m very upset about what’s going on in Ferguson.* Yes, the post could have been more tactful. I don’t think it would have shocked anyone out of their complacency, though. I think this thread would have turned into another memorial for Mr. Williams, which really isn’t needed.

    *I wish more people were upset about what’s going on in Ferguson, instead of being pissy with PZ over Williams.

    And we are on the same page.

    The good news is that there does seem to be more attention coming to the issue now. Overlapping on the issue of media coverage: The “If They Gunned Me Down” trend on social media is an interesting and humorous take on racism in media choices of photos for deceased young black men, inspired by coverage of Mike Brown’s death. And it is a pretty damn poignant observation. I really do think there should be more focus on what is now happening in Ferguson itself though.

  20. says

    vasileos efthymiadis:

    If you, like PZ Myers here, lack the mental capacity to care about more than one issue at a time please leave academia.

    This is not about people being unable to care about more than one issue at a time. It’s about the media deciding that only one story was newsworthy.

  21. says

    And your post would probably agitate those people who feel an emotional connection, even if it is an irrational one through a TV screen.

    Celebrity culture. Fuck it.

    These people do not have an emotional connection to Robin Williams, the man; it’s fine to like the actor/comedian and enjoy his work, but look at this thread, and my twitter feed: people are freaking out that someone pointed out that the obsession with celebrity is getting in the way of caring about things that matter. I’m mainly feeling that I should have been more rude, because asking me to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is completely missing the point.

  22. shala says

    It’s hard to believe this needs to be spelled out so much to so many people. Robin Williams was a great man. His death is a tragedy. Depression is a horrible thing that needs to be addressed by society in a much more mature manner than it is now.

    But that’s not what this article is about.

    This is about the murder of a young, unarmed black man in Missouri. That is a tragedy too in every way imaginable. Ask yourself this though – did you hear anything about this event before today? At all? I even had to look at my local newspaper. There’s nothing even mentioning it or the events at Ferguson.

    The celebrity death news story is a convenient way to not discuss other issues happening in the country. It’s like a smokescreen or a distraction. Look even at the ways that the media mentions Robin Williams in general. There’s little to no discussion of how to prevent similar issues from happening in the future or how to address the problem.

    To compare: The news about Gaza is also a huge tragedy, and should be covered intensively because it’s an ongoing issue, and one that should have solutions discussed. That so few seem to care about the lack of justice in this murder case that happened in Missouri is telling of a huge problem. There was discussion of riots earlier and how those are unforgivable. That is a smokescreen as well covering the issue of a young black man being murdered in the streets of Ferguson. What is more important? “A black man was murdered in cold blood by a white cop in a town that overwhelmingly lends power to those who are white, and the police are treating those upset about it like shit.” or “Black people are kind of pissed off about the last weekend due to systematic oppression.”

  23. says

    Anteprepro:

    And it is a pretty damn poignant observation.

    Sometimes I’m sorry I don’t participate in more social media. I’m glad people are paying attention.

  24. anteprepro says

    Daz, I must admit to some bias in automatically pegging chinpokomon as a troll. Their nym is a South Park reference.

    vasileos efthymiadis

    If you, like PZ Myers here, lack the mental capacity to care about more than one issue at a time please leave academia. You’re a moron and you need to stop. Just stop. I care about Robin William’s death quite a bit. He did more for me than the Gazans ever will. But I can still care about their suffering.

    I’m afraid that the point was not about being unable to care about multiple things at once, but about relative media coverage and priorities.

    Get out of academia and leave the Atheism movement. You don’t have the mental capacity to handle it all

    The mental capacity. To handle the “Atheism movement”. Excuse me while I go laugh for five minutes.

  25. Al Dente says

    considerthis @451

    My only issue is that PZ handled it poorly.

    Okay, you’ve made your point, such as it is. Now please fuck off.

  26. nich says

    I care about Robin William’s death quite a bit. He did more for me than the Gazans ever will.

    You can’t make this shit up folks!

  27. says

    vasileos efthymiadis:

    I care about Robin William’s death quite a bit. He did more for me than the Gazans ever will.

    Great. Go get your own blog, where you can make it all about you every post.

    But I can still care about their suffering.

    That’s just swell of you!

    What does any of that have to do with this thread?

  28. says

    Shala:

    What is more important? “A black man was murdered in cold blood by a white cop in a town that overwhelmingly lends power to those who are white, and the police are treating those upset about it like shit.” or “Black people are kind of pissed off about the last weekend due to systematic oppression.”

    Shala! I have missed you. Thank you for that post. (In case you’re confused over who this Inaji person is, formerly Caine here.)

  29. A. Noyd says

    Nerd of Redhead (#395)

    Then you need to ask the right question, which is “is there still institutional racism in police departments!

    Nooo, caesar wouldn’t want to ask the right question. It might lead to things like the data showing how the Ferguson PD is, without a doubt, extremely racist. You know, just like every damn police department in this country.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Tony (#403)

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people-especially a lot of black people-who weren’t more concerned about Mike Browns’ murder.

    Not to mention, it’s hard to be concerned with something you haven’t heard of because media coverage is sparse to nonexistent.

    (#477)

    The tragic death of a celebrity is not the same as an example (in a long list) of systematic abuse of African Americans by law enforcement officers, which is itself a subset of the systemic racism African Americans face in the US.

    Systemic racism which has a rather drastic negative impact on the mental health of many, many black people. (Just imagine how Brown’s friend Johnson must feel at having run away in fear for his own life while Brown was being murdered behind him. Holy hell, I hope he gets a lot of help.) It’s part of the problem that these idiots are defending the sidelining of Brown’s murder over Williams’ suicide as something necessary to having a discussion of mental illness when they could very well both contribute to it. And, in fact, any discussion of mental illness must address systemic racism as a factor or it will be incomplete. (Not that we’re getting any worthwhile discussion out of either story.)

    [Just to be clear, I’m not directing the above at you. I’m using your comment as a stepping off point.]

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    toska (#428)

    How is it that the over hyped ‘knockout game’ was able to stay in the news for months while police brutality gets buried?

    Oh, great example. If black people are boogeymen, then it’s nonstop coverage. If black people are victims, then it’s “Quick, find a way to make them boogeymen. Look at the riots and looting!”

  30. A. Noyd says

    Shatterface (#472)

    I know that there are a lot of people with depression who don’t like the death of someone with depression sneered at

    Go tell it to the douchebag on Fox News who called Williams a coward, then. No one here is sneering at Williams’ death.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Daniel Schealler (#506)

    The issue I’m referring to is that you have angered and alienated people who probably agree with you too simply from how you phrased it.

    Maybe if they weren’t being primed by Dawkins and Coyne to think the worst we’d see fewer angry, alienated people. That is, assuming they even read the OP. I know you’re not new here, so I don’t get why the hell you think most of these people are expressing honest anger, given where they’re coming from.

  31. says

    A. Noyd:

    If black people are boogeymen, then it’s nonstop coverage. If black people are victims, then it’s “Quick, find a way to make them boogeymen. Look at the riots and looting!”

    In a nutshell.

  32. says

    chinpokomon #19

    And now you resort to insults because you’ve been proven incorrect and you have no other form of argument. It’s OK to just admit when you’re wrong. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s all a part of growing up.

    Yes yes, I totally called you a prat because I had no other observations to make. That’s why the paragraph above the one wherein I called you a prat doesn’t actually exist. It was a figment of your imagination.

    This game of Ooh you used a rude word!™ was brought to you by Pearl-Clutchers® Your first and best choice for all your tone-trolling needs.

    This is a rude blog. Expect rough handling.
    Justice is more important than civility. But aspire to be charitable at first.
    [the rules]

    To get back to the point. What, exactly, do you find difficult about extending PZ’s point regarding celebrity-skewed media to other stories? And why on Earth do you think PZ should not expect his readers to make such an obvious extrapolation?

  33. anteprepro says

    PZ Myers

    Celebrity culture. Fuck it.

    Maybe next time try fucking it while it is still alive.

    These people do not have an emotional connection to Robin Williams, the man;

    Amazing then that they manage to have emotional reactions to his passing.

    people are freaking out that someone pointed out that the obsession with celebrity is getting in the way of caring about things that matter.

    Some of them are, because they are celebrity worshippers. Some of them are, because they just don’t like you. And some of them are, because your post was salt in wound after just learning the death of someone that they felt like they cared about.

    because asking me to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is completely missing the point.

    And you are missing the point that if you had an article simply about the events in Ferguson, you would have done far more to elucidate and raise concern for that cause than you have done with this post, obscuring those events by putting them in the context of Robin Williams’ death. You have ironically done exactly what you criticized the media of doing: Using Robin Williams’ death to distract from the death of Mike Brown. It’s just that you did it on accident.

  34. says

    Even if PZ could have phrased things better, his point is correct. Celebrity skews our news coverage. I say our because it’s happening here in Canada too. The lead story on this morning’s CBC Radio 1 World Report newscast was Williams’ suicide. The lead story on CTV Saskatoon’s supper hour newscast was Robin Williams. Why should his death be the lead story on either? CTV Saskatoon made that the lead story when there’d been a standoff between a man barricaded in his house and local police for something like 14 hours. CBC Radio 1 made that their lead story when there are several crises going on right now, including ebola and mess in Iraq, that could directly effect Canadians. The Williams story belongs further back in a Canadian newscast.

  35. arthur says

    On the TV news I saw, the Robin Williams story was the third story; after ISIS in Iraq, and Gaza.

    Seems appropriate to me. More appropriate than the treatment of Williams’s sad death in this sorry blog post. I think you’re out of order here PZ, and you’ve made a real misjudgment.

  36. Daniel Schealler says

    @A. Noyd

    Maybe if they weren’t being primed by Dawkins and Coyne to think the worst we’d see fewer angry, alienated people.

    Granted, I did read Coyne before coming here, just because of how it appeared in my RSS feed. So I can’t be sure that Coyne didn’t shape my perception somehow.

    In actual fact, I rushed over here to see what PZ said, because typically I find that when someone criticizes PZ over something like this, they’re usually in the wrong. So I was all prepared to go back to Coyne and explain how he misrepresented PZ somehow… Only to discover that, on this particular occasion, the criticism of PZ was (in my view) accurate.

    Can’t speak for Dawkins’ criticism as I haven’t read it yet and don’t intend to. I avoid anything Dawkns says these days that unless it is explicitly to do with biology. Dawkins has a tendency to make me cringe when he talks about subjects outside of his field of expertise.

  37. shala says

    Inaji (#31 on my display list but I know there’s a ton more comments so I’m currently failing at life with my display settings/comment numbers somehow)

    ”Shala! I have missed you. Thank you for that post. (In case you’re confused over who this Inaji person is, formerly Caine here.)”

    I had thought so from the avatar. :) I’ve been lurking for a long time this past year (personal issues of mine had come up), but it’s good to chat again. This thread in particular sparked me to post given people missing the idea. Over. And over. Again. Thanks as always for the warm welcome (and apologies for my kinda off-topic post here).

  38. anteprepro says

    A Noyd

    Maybe if they weren’t being primed by Dawkins and Coyne to think the worst we’d see fewer angry, alienated people. That is, assuming they even read the OP. I know you’re not new here, so I don’t get why the hell you think most of these people are expressing honest anger, given where they’re coming from.

    And this is an important point. Though I argue that the OP could have been more tactful and it would have been better to have a post about Michael Brown that wasn’t also about Robin Williams, there is every reason to believe that most of the “critics” swarming in here are disingenuous. It is pretty clear that it is just a zerg rush of petty trolls, so the concerns I have voiced so far most likely do not apply to them.

  39. Bill Thacker says

    In 468, PZ Myers wrote: “But this post was not about Robin Williams. It was about our media and our politicians. ”

    With all respect, I think you’re mistaken. I think our politicians and media are what they are because that’s what we want them to be. They talk about what they think we want to hear. If we were better people, we wouldn’t watch a news show that prioritizes Robin Williams above Mike Brown, and we wouldn’t tolerate the militarization of our police. To borrow an adage, we have the press and the government we deserve.

    If Robin Williams distracts us from Mike Brown, it’s because we’re willing to be distracted. So when you criticized the press for pandering to our likes, I think you were criticizing all of us. We may have deserved it, but you shouldn’t expect us to be happy about it.

  40. says

    Arthur @ 40:

    On the TV news I saw, the Robin Williams story was the third story; after ISIS in Iraq, and Gaza.

    Perhaps if you had bothered to read the comments, you would have realized that wasn’t everyone else’s experience. Your personal experience does not speak to the breadth of what’s going on. It would have been nice if you had figured that out before you hit the keyboard.

  41. carlie says

    How do you know it was racially motivated?

    Do not even with that shit. Do. Not. Even. This is far too important to try to say “oh, maybe it wasn’t racially motivated!” It’s a pattern. It’s a long-term, incredibly well-documented pattern. Saying “Gee, but maybe it wasn’t racially motivated!” is as ignorant as someone saying “But maybe evolution didn’t have anything to do with the world today!” or “Maybe climate change isn’t happening!”

    No.

    No, you do not do this. Not while this is happening. And this. You do not waltz in and expect anyone to play along with your smarmy little “but how do you know it was racially motivated” ignorant schtick. No. No one is going to humor you here. Not while a family in Ferguson weeps over their dead kid, shot 35 feet away from the cops and their car, not while their neighbors’ eyes are still stinking from the tear gas thrown in their own fenced-in yards, not while people standing on the street are still begging for justice.

    No. You do not.

  42. says

    Shala:

    (#31 on my display list but I know there’s a ton more comments so I’m currently failing at life with my display settings/comment numbers somehow)

    Oh, that’s not you. There was a recent upgrade, so everything is all fucked up again.

  43. Daniel Schealler says

    @anteprepro

    And you are missing the point that if you had an article simply about the events in Ferguson, you would have done far more to elucidate and raise concern for that cause than you have done with this post, obscuring those events by putting them in the context of Robin Williams’ death. You have ironically done exactly what you criticized the media of doing: Using Robin Williams’ death to distract from the death of Mike Brown. It’s just that you did it on accident.

    You know I agree with you.

    Thing is, PZ has basically admitted that he understands that people are angered and upset with his post. He doesn’t care. PZ stated explicitly that he thinks he should have been ruder to shock people more.

    You and I may think that this is a very poor tactic in this context that needlessly upsets a lot of people.

    Thing is… PZ’s blog, PZ’s rules.

    PZ seems to think he’s making a cutting point about celebrity culture being used to distract from more important news items in America, and that his rudeness regarding Williams’ death is good for shocking people out of their complacency and getting them to think about this important issue.

    You and I think that PZ is making a good point but that’s he’s needlessly and counter-productively being a huge asshole about it, which means that most people will actively avoid talking PZ’s post seriously because they don’t like assholes and they’ll therefore be quick to dismiss him without engagement.

    I think at this point that PZ gets what we’re saying. He understands and doesn’t care.

    For reasons I fail to entirely understand, PZ is committed to being an asshole about this very important issue.

    But that’s PZ’s choice to make. PZ’s blog, PZ’s rules.

  44. A Hermit says

    Sorry, I’m as outraged by the Brown incident as anyone, but parts of this are dangerously close to doing for suicide what Dawkins has done for rape. William’s death resonates for those who have dealt with depression and suicide and using that to make a political point about another tragedy was just as clumsy and insensitive as the rape tweets. Major fail.

  45. says

    Bill Thacker:

    So when you criticized the press for pandering to our likes, I think you were criticizing all of us.

    Speak for yourself when it comes to your likes, please. I have no use for celebrity culture, and pay no attention to it. I have little use for the media these days either, because celeb culture is all they seem to care about. You seem to be completely unaware of the fact that the media has the power and ability to direct peoples’ attention. They could have covered Ferguson as much as they covered Williams. They chose to cover Williams. No, that doesn’t speak well of people in general. Yes, it says there’s something seriously fucking wrong. You could choose to comment on that, rather than scold PZ. See how that works?

  46. anteprepro says

    Daniel Schealler:

    Only to discover that, on this particular occasion, the criticism of PZ was (in my view) accurate.

    Well except for this part ” In other words, we’ve been manipulated:”
    And this ridiculous bit of hyperbole: “This is one of the most contemptible and inhumane things I’ve ever seen posted by a well-known atheist.”

    As for Dawkins, he basically just tweeted a link
    And then he retweeted this response!

    @RichardDawkins ‘Brown’ person here and very sad about Williams. Not surprised though about PZ’s constant obsession with race in everything.

    I get the impression that Robin Williams is the ONLY thing that some of these people actually care about.

  47. borax says

    I just saw video from Ferguson of the PD firing tear gas at protestors while the protestors were in their own backyard. How is that not assault? Peoples rights are being trampled and only one network (MSNBC) is covering the abuse in any meaningful way.

  48. carlie says

    I am feeling very snappish today, and I’m very upset about what’s going on in Ferguson.* Yes, the post could have been more tactful. I don’t think it would have shocked anyone out of their complacency, though. I think this thread would have turned into another memorial for Mr. Williams, which really isn’t needed.

    *I wish more people were upset about what’s going on in Ferguson, instead of being pissy with PZ over Williams.

    What Inaji said.

    Also, I am reacting really strongly to this particular subject, I think, because I watched it play out on twitter last night. I follow a lot of people who are really up on the news as it happens, and the juxtaposition of people giving heartfelt tributes to Williams, people giving legitimately important information about depression, and people showing the absolute breakdown in Ferguson, was incredibly disconcerting. When you see a tweet that’s a freaking animated picture of a genie hugging Aladdin, and you genuinely tear up over it, and then the next thing you see is a picture taken an hour prior of policemen with dogs and riot gear ganging up on one unarmed young man begging for peace and justice, well, it kind of puts things in perspective in a really stark way.

  49. Al Dente says

    Daniel Schealler @(5)49

    or reasons I fail to entirely understand, PZ is committed to being an asshole about this very important issue.

    What “very important issue”? You seem to understand that PZ is upset that the media are paying more attention to an actor’s death than systematic racism in an American city. From what I can tell you’re annoyed that PZ isn’t gushing over an actor who apparently gave you some happiness many years ago. Fine, you’re sorry that Robin Williams is dead. That’s nice. Good for you. How about being sorry that CNN has become the ALL ROBIN WILLIAMS ALL THE TIME channel while ignoring actual news that actually effect people not emotionally tied up in Williams hero worship? Or is that too hard for you?

  50. says

    a hermit @2-50

    Sorry, I’m as outraged by the Brown incident as anyone, but parts of this are dangerously close to doing for suicide what Dawkins has done for rape. William’s death resonates for those who have dealt with depression and suicide and using that to make a political point about another tragedy was just as clumsy and insensitive as the rape tweets. Major fail.

    I am depressed. I know several people who are depressed and some who have attempted suicide.
    Those people are more belittled by the media exposure to Robin Williams being “what a poor soul” than by what PZ wrote.
    In fact, PZ wrote literally “Why is it that the suicide of one celebrity runs more news print that the eradication of civil rights of an entire town when they protested the racially motivated police murder of an 18 year old?”

    Why is complaining that PZ treated Robin Williams “poorly” more important than the point of the post, which I explained above?

  51. carlie says

    Sorry, I’m as outraged by the Brown incident as anyone, but parts of this are dangerously close to doing for suicide what Dawkins has done for rape. William’s death resonates for those who have dealt with depression and suicide and using that to make a political point about another tragedy was just as clumsy and insensitive as the rape tweets. Major fail.

    Nope. Not at all. What Dawkins did was tell other people how they should feel about rape, including their own. What PZ is talking about is the responsibility of the media regarding what events to spend the most attention on.

  52. anteprepro says

    borax

    I just saw video from Ferguson of the PD firing tear gas at protestors while the protestors were in their own backyard. How is that not assault? Peoples rights are being trampled and only one network (MSNBC) is covering the abuse in any meaningful way.

    Honestly, even aside from the racial component, the mainstream media is incredibly hush hush about police brutality and overreach and shit like this. Like, incredibly. Scarily. What, I’m pretty sure Ed Brayton has been pissed off about that fact for years now.

    And of course only the Commie Pinko Librul news station is the only covering it, so the people who actually need to see this shit will just dismiss it as librul bias.

  53. says

    Roberto:

    You sound like Thunderf00t

    No, he does not. FFS, why is it too much to expect that people will read all the comments? There are two pages of them, y’know. I’m pretty sure all your questions would be answered with some reading.

  54. says

    A Hermit:

    Sorry, I’m as outraged by the Brown incident as anyone, but parts of this are dangerously close to doing for suicide what Dawkins has done for rape.

    What, he compared one kind of suicide to another kind of suicide, and declared one not as bad as the other?

    I saw nothing at all in the OP about suicide, other than calling that out as the cause of Robin Williams’ death. This has nothing to do with suicide. It has everything to do with the fact that we have to, as my wife said, “Get ready for a full week of non-stop Robin Williams.” (It might be different if the news discussion was about depression, but it’s not.)

    This is nothing like what Dawkins said. PZ isn’t telling people who suffer from depression how they should feel, for fucks’ sake — and that’s exactly what Dawkins did when he tried to distinguish between kinds of rape.

  55. says

    @avo (5)62

    This is nothing like what Dawkins said. PZ isn’t telling people who suffer from depression how they should feel, for fucks’ sake — and that’s exactly what Dawkins did when he tried to distinguish between kinds of rape.

    Didn’t stop A Hermit from telling us how depressed people should feel about PZs post though.

  56. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So when you criticized the press for pandering to our likes, I think you were criticizing all of us.

    Only in your mind. The MSM should have their priorities right, and celebrity news should come after real news, and not be the lead. This is about what it should be, not what it is. Why are some folks so ready to excuse the media for their lapses?

  57. groo says

    What i would like to know is the why of the final paragraph:

    “She seems nice. She looks like the kind of person who would have laughed at “nanu-nanu” and cried at What Dreams May Come. She is a Real American whose opinions deserve the attention of the powers that be.”

  58. says

    Borax:

    I just saw video from Ferguson of the PD firing tear gas at protestors while the protestors were in their own backyard. How is that not assault? Peoples rights are being trampled and only one network (MSNBC) is covering the abuse in any meaningful way.

    It scares the hell out of me. All those people ignoring the stomp of boots and the sting of teargas are going to be very unpleasantly surprised one of these days.

  59. Island Adolescent says

    Add me as another person who has not heard anything about the Michael Brown case until PZ’s post while hearing about Robin Williams nearly immediately upon going on the internet after his suicide became public knowledge.

    I also agree with PZ, after reading 500 of these comments (and about 50 on Coyne’s blog before I couldn’t tolerate the stupidity any longer), that he probably should have been even more angry in his writing.

    Daniel Schealler:

    I think at this point that PZ gets what we’re saying. He understands and doesn’t care.
    For reasons I fail to entirely understand, PZ is committed to being an asshole about this very important issue.

    It’s nice that the important issue is how sugar-coated we should be in regards to the death of Robin Williams, even when the issue being discussed was media focus.
    As Avo said, PZ didn’t tell people how to feel about suicide. He didn’t compare two types of suicide to each other. He didn’t tell you that you personally shouldn’t care about Robin Williams.

    So at this point all that comes to my mind as a proper response to what is essentially tone trolling, is please fuck off.

  60. anteprepro says

    The Avo formerly known as NigeltheBold

    What, he compared one kind of suicide to another kind of suicide, and declared one not as bad as the other?

    No, he compared a suicide to a murder and said the former required less media coverage. And he had a point, because the media coverage would be excessive. But he did it by characterizing it as a “sacrifice”, a thing that brought “joy to journalists”, a way to, and isn’t “the real story”. I.e. by downplaying and dismissing it.

    No, he didn’t say suicide is less tragic than murder or dictate how people should be expected to feel given one versus the other. But he played fast and loose with rhetoric when dealing with the topic of a suicide in order to tackle the country’s Cult of Celebrity and bring more attention to another issue. So I can see how someone who was depressed might legitimately feel like there was some splash damage involved.

    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Didn’t stop A Hermit from telling us how depressed people should feel about PZs post though.

    No, A Hermit didn’t. He told us how SOME depressed people DID feel. Important difference.

  61. says

    Avo:

    (It might be different if the news discussion was about depression, but it’s not.)

    No, it’s not. And it won’t be. It will be eulogies, remembrances, and clips.

    Groo:

    What i would like to know is the why of the final paragraph:

    “She seems nice. She looks like the kind of person who would have laughed at “nanu-nanu” and cried at What Dreams May Come. She is a Real American whose opinions deserve the attention of the powers that be.”

    What the fuck is with all you people who cannot comprehend anything? That woman was an example of the all too many people in this country, who will mourn the death of Williams, watch and listen to all the clips, while being perfectly comfortable with the lack of coverage over what’s going on in Ferguson, because those brown people, they are feral and violent.

  62. says

    Tashiliciously Shriked:

    Didn’t stop A Hermit from telling us how depressed people should feel about PZs post though.

    I think this is uncalled for. A Hermit expressed how they felt, personally. I do understand how PZ’s post could affect someone who deals with depression and is very upset about Mr. Williams death.

  63. says

    anteprepro:

    But he played fast and loose with rhetoric when dealing with the topic of a suicide in order to tackle the country’s Cult of Celebrity and bring more attention to another issue. So I can see how someone who was depressed might legitimately feel like there was some splash damage involved.

    That is very true. It is nothing at all like what Dawkins did (so all the comparisons to Dawkins are bullshit). And you have a very valid point.

  64. says

    Chimera:

    Lauren Bacall just died too.

    I’ll remember her fondly, as I will Williams. Unfortunately, this gives the media more celeb stuff to focus on to the exclusion of what’s taking place in Ferguson, as well as other more serious issues.

  65. anteprepro says

    To further Inaji’s explanation at 70: The point of that final paragraph is that America still has some ugly racism to it. Which is why we have the media priorities that PZ is complaining about in the rest of the post. It is why we have a media that focuses more on pablum and celebrity, because that is something that the average American eats up. It is why we do not have a media that gives two shits about black victims, because that is something that the average American also will not give two shits about. It is also why we have a tendency in the media to make black victims look like they “were askin’ for it”, in a way recently being lampooned by #IfTheyGunnedMeDown , because the average American will actually start caring if the black people on the screen are Dangerous.

    So, the point of the final paragraph was a cynically humorous explanation for why the media is the way it is.

  66. Marc Abian says

    Why mention (repeatedly) that Williams is white? The death of a similarly famous black person would get just as much coverage. Michael Jackson was the main story for about a week.

    There are problems with the media, but I don’t think they can really be blamed for this. This is what people want to see. Is this post really aimed at the media or ultimately just admonishing society? Taking about how they have a responsibility doesn’t seem to amount to anything. The only solution would be to make audience (and ultimately ad revenue) no longer the goal for media outlets, which seems impossible given how they are businesses in a market.

    As for politicians, they should take some responsibility, but it’s a delicate situation and they need to be associated with this like they need a hole in the head.

  67. hyrax says

    @Bill Thacker 44:

    I think our politicians and media are what they are because that’s what we want them to be. They talk about what they think we want to hear.

    Incorrect. Our (well, the USA’s, anyway) politicians and media systematically cater to a narrow group of people. They don’t represent the interests of the majority of the country, only the most privileged fraction. In fact, this relates to…
    @groo 66:

    What i would like to know is the why of the final paragraph

    See above. The privileged upper-class, insulated from the realities of the country’s slide into the police state, is the target demographic of the major news outlets in this country. Of which she is a fine example.

  68. Daniel Schealler says

    @Island Adolescent

    It’s nice that the important issue is how sugar-coated we should be in regards to the death of Robin Williams, even when the issue being discussed was media focus.

    At no point have I argued that PZ should have sugar coated his point.

    Rather, I started out by arguing that PZ had unintentionally shit-coated his point, and that this was a problem.

    That said, it turns out that I was very much mistaken. The shit-coating was intentional.

    If it seems to you that I’ve been distracted by PZ’s point by the coating of shit in which it was contained… Well, that’s actually kind of a good example of why I think that coating an important point in rhetorical shit is a dumb thing to do.

    Note that the use of ‘shit’ in my example is actually very fitting. Emotional disgust at how PZ’s treatment of Robin Williams feels is not entirely dissimilar to the kind of disgust reaction we would both have to how shit smells.

  69. says

    Carlie:

    This happened less than half an hour ago. Literally, half an hour before I’m typing right now:

    The cops, batons and tear gas canisters in hand, keep pushing the crowd down Chambers Street. They’re threatening to arrest those of us who continue to linger.

    Fuck. Fuckety fuck fuck. My heart is with them, and I’m terrified. I hope they stay safe. How about that Great and Powerful Media now, eh?

  70. Island Adolescent says

    No, he compared a suicide to a murder and said the former required less media coverage. And he had a point, because the media coverage would be excessive. But he did it by characterizing it as a “sacrifice”, a thing that brought “joy to journalists”, a way to, and isn’t “the real story”. I.e. by downplaying and dismissing it.

    A murder of an innocent black teen by a police officer.

    Those quotes all refer to heavy doses of sarcasm that the blog post is riddled with to mask anger. PZ’s entire point was that the media about RW should have been downplayed and dismissed. The brunt of the sarcasm is all directed at the media. RW’s suicide isn’t receiving the lashing here, it’s clearly the media that is insulted because PZ paints the media as not actually caring about RW’s suicide.
    For fuck’s sake, the very first sentence was “I’m sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family.”

  71. says

    Marc Abian:

    This is what people want to see.

    NO. This is what some people want to see. Primarily, white privileged people. People who do not care what is going on, right this very fucking second, in the town of Ferguson. People who do not care that there is no coverage over the murder of a teenager who was simply walking down the street with his friend. People who do not care that cops in full riot gear with big damn guns are pointing them at unarmed citizens for daring to be outside while being black. People who do not care that people are being teargassed while they are in their own backyards. People who do not care that the media is not covering this. At all.

  72. chimera says

    Live coverage of Ferguson from Antonio French is more to the point than all this argument.

  73. borax says

    Carlie @75. Its a sad day when people have to use social media to do the press’s job.

  74. Al Dente says

    Daniel Schealler @(5)80

    So you admit you’re just tone trolling. Fuck off, asshole…er…please.

  75. Island Adolescent says

    The shit-coating was intentional.

    Yeah, and what was being coated in shit? The portrayal of the media, for choosing to focus on RW (in such an unproductive way in regards to suicide and depression as larger topics to boot).

    I don’t see where Robin Williams was insulted. I don’t see where suicide was made light of. What I see is what I claimed earlier, the topic of RW’s death wasn’t sugar-coated enough for you.

  76. says

    Daniel Schealler and Island Adolescent, in case you both haven’t noticed, some of us are trying to talk about what’s happening in Ferguson. If it isn’t too much trouble, would you please take your iterations and reiterations over PZ to thunderdome? Thanks.

  77. A. Noyd says

    Daniel Schealler (#[5]41)

    In actual fact, I rushed over here to see what PZ said, because typically I find that when someone criticizes PZ over something like this, they’re usually in the wrong. So I was all prepared to go back to Coyne and explain how he misrepresented PZ somehow… Only to discover that, on this particular occasion, the criticism of PZ was (in my view) accurate.

    I can’t take Coyne seriously given his support of Dawkins’ bashing of his critics for being too “emotional” to understand his horrible stranger rape vs. acquaintance rape “syllogism.” (Or, in Coyne’s words: “Dawkins explains that he used those issues precisely to demonstrate his point about emotion overcoming reason.” [emph. mine]) And here you are saying PZ’s post made you feel bad on an emotional level and that therefore you think Coyne’s assessment of PZ’s post was right. So… what? Coyne expects Dawkins’ critics to see past “emotion” but it’s appropriate for emotion to overcome reason in response to PZ’s extreme sarcasm? (I acknowledge that you said you recognized PZ’s point on an intellectual level.)

    The two aren’t even really comparable, but not in a way that works out for Coyne. PZ was making a justifiable point whereas Dawkins’ original bullshit was flawed by unsoundness and his followups lied about his critics, who were not relying on emotion to make their counterarguments. You can find what PZ said distasteful all you like. Whatever. But Coyne and his hypocrisy can go gnaw on a nice big bag of raw, salted assholes. His point was shit.

  78. says

    Anteprepro:

    “A line of police cars with high beams on greets anyone trying to enter #Ferguson. It’s shut down. No media allowed.”

    :shaking: Jesus Fucking Christ. This is a nightmare.

  79. A. Noyd says

    carlie (#[5]47)

    No, you do not do this. Not while this is happening. And this.

    Shit, but that second one in particular makes me literally nauseated.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    hyrax (#[5]79)

    Our (well, the USA’s, anyway) politicians and media systematically cater to a narrow group of people. They don’t represent the interests of the majority of the country, only the most privileged fraction.

    With the media, it’s mostly owned by the same, narrow group of people. Soon we’ll have to call it “the medium.”

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    anteprepro (#[5]83)

    Jesus Christ, look at all the cops in that photo she linked to in 75. It’s bordering on dystopian.

    I’ve seen people define a “dystopia” as what happens when the things that people of color have lived with for centuries start happening to white people.

  80. Marc Abian says

    NO. This is what some people want to see. Primarily, white privileged people.

    I guess I can only speak about them because I don’t know anyone else, but self-identifying whites are 70% of your population.

    And are you saying that for most non-whites this isn’t the story they are more interested in?

  81. anteprepro says

    I think Wil Wheaton on Twitter put this well:

    Hey Media? Maybe instead of sending cameras to Robin Williams’ house to be ghoulish, you could send cameras to #Ferguson to be journalists.

    And on the more inspiring front, check out the aforementioned Antonio French’s Twitter right now. Peaceful protestors. A ton of them. Like a whole fucking community, coming together in support for this unjust and untimely death. It almost gives me hope.

    https://twitter.com/AntonioFrench

  82. carlie says

    Stories in the media about Robin Williams right now are about the specific method by which he died and who specifically found him first and where. No matter how strongly you feel about him, his death, and the importance of understanding depression, that is not information that anybody needs to know. That is wallowing in sensationalistic pseudo-journalism. And that’s what’s taking up the front page, not nuanced discussions about him or about depression. So it’s not like the media are treating even Williams the way he ought to be treated.

  83. anteprepro says

    Wow, Chie beat me to the punch!

    A. Noyd

    I’ve seen people define a “dystopia” as what happens when the things that people of color have lived with for centuries start happening to white people.

    Never heard about that, but damn does it seem like it rings true.

  84. Island Adolescent says

    In case you both haven’t noticed, some of us are trying to talk about what’s happening in Ferguson.

    Sorry, will do.
    I guess after 500 comments it may be proper to discuss the real issue than continue reiterating.

  85. anteprepro says

    carlie has a point. And honestly, the media’s hyper-focus on the details of celebrity death is far more morbid and appalling than anything PZ has said (at least in my opinion). Hell, even knowing that it was a hanging was more than people need to know, let alone also knowing what he used for it and all the other minutiae that they have decided should be public knowledge one day after the fucking death, while the family is still just coming to terms with it all. Standard paparazzi shit, except even the big names engage in it if the timing is right and the name is big enough.

  86. Daniel Schealler says

    @Inaj

    Daniel Schealler and Island Adolescent, in case you both haven’t noticed, some of us are trying to talk about what’s happening in Ferguson. If it isn’t too much trouble, would you please take your iterations and reiterations over PZ to thunderdome? Thanks.

    Good point. For anyone else out there to whom I haven’t replied, this is why.

    The police in the US have been flaunting accountability for too long. The situation in Ferguson is entirely the fault of the police. The culture of unassailable abuse of power has been going on for far too long, with one set of laws for the rich and another for the poor.

    The total lack of transparency or accountability for officers who assault or murder civilians has made protests inevitable. Cracking down on a protest with force is a good way to turn a peaceful protest into looting and riots.

    No justice, no peace: Sounds about right.

  87. says

    anteprepro @103, could we perhaps not adduce the details, which we’re decrying the media for focusing on, to this thread?

    I know we can’t prevent the trolls from doing it, and mentioning it means they probably will, because trolls, but it’d be nice not to be ambushed with details that I’ve successfully managed to avoid by not reading those same media sources, particularly by people whose comments I would generally read.

    Can’t make it happen, but I can ask.

  88. carlie says

    This is a really good analysis of what’s going on in a larger sense.

    The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he’ll reasonably think that his job isn’t simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.
    If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they’re working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy. And because of correlations, rooted in historical injustice, between crime and income and income and race, the enemy population will consist largely of people of color, and especially of black men.

  89. anteprepro says

    The sad part is it is rather difficult to talk about the events happening exactly because of the media blackout. What’s rather intriguing though is that lack of information usually whips the media up into a frenzy. Think the Mystery of the Malaysian airliner. And you would think the fact that police are actively blocking the media would itself get more media coverage. But nope. Such a fucking headache.

  90. carlie says

    What also makes me mad, although the timing was not on purpose, is that NPR canceled Tell Me More less than two weeks ago. So the one news outlet that specifically focuses on the African-American experience* got destroyed right before an event where that viewpoint is sorely needed.

    *I’m sure there are more, but this one probably had the biggest bankroll and exposure

  91. Daniel Schealler says

    This one is particularly chilling.

    I thought the entire point of a police force is that they’re not a military force.

    Riot shields and batons are bad enough. Camo, gas masks and rifles is a hell of a lot worse.

  92. anteprepro says

    CaitieCat, no problem. I tried restraining what little I already knew, but I might have let too much out still.

    carlie, wow that was a powerful article. And I really don’t understand how the militarization of the police was allowed to happen in the first place. I swear I’ve been paying attention and I don’t know how it happened so suddenly. Maybe I was less attentive than I thought….

  93. Pteryxx says

    carlie #606, that’s a better article than the one I found.

    Police Militarization in Ferguson

    When did this become OK? When did “protect and serve” turn into “us versus them”?

    “Why do these cops need MARPAT camo pants again,” I asked on Twitter this morning. One of the most interesting responses came from a follower who says he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division: “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone.”

  94. carlie says

    Anteprepro – yes, I’d never seen the dots connected that way, but it makes perfect sense. So much so that someone should have predicted that, but I guess that’s the hindsight business talking.

  95. A. Noyd says

    Besides the distraction factor, some people think the level of media coverage of Williams’ suicide is harmful for another reason. Which makes it even less worth defending.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    anteprepro (#107)

    And you would think the fact that police are actively blocking the media would itself get more media coverage. But nope. Such a fucking headache.

    The media is so non-responsive, it should be delivering eulogies for itself.

  96. carlie says

    Pteryxx, that’s really good too. Some people might believe the word of an actual soldier about what being militarized does to you.

  97. Pteryxx says

    Rachel Maddow spent the lead segment of her show tonight focusing on Ferguson and the extensively documented culture of racial profiling by law enforcement there.

  98. nich says

    From the link@106: I like the point a commenter made contrasting the “rioters” in Ferguson protesting a murder, and the “protestors” in Nevada supporting Cliven Bundy’s out and out illlegal activity. Gosh, wonder what would happen if armed black militias showed up in Ferguson?

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Jebus, I don’t recall such an amount of JAQing off, non-sequitur “hate PZ” fly-by posts, and miscomprehension of the post since the “grenade” thread.

  100. nich says

    And you would think the fact that police are actively blocking the media would itself get more media coverage. But nope. Such a fucking headache.

    But you can’t stop them from parking a news chopper over Robin Williams house.

  101. anteprepro says

    nich: No, of course not. A mere sense of decency will not stop a helicopter! But veiled threats from the Warriors of the Sacred Order of Law will! That’s just Journalism 101.

  102. anteprepro says

    We are already dipping back into previously posted info. Just goes to show how little is out there….

  103. Pteryxx says

    From the BusinessInsider article:

    Putting aside what started the protests for a moment, it’s worth discussing the police response to the outrage. In photos taken on Monday, we are shown a heavily armed SWAT team.

    They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armour, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.

    Those militarized police photos, many of them, are taken on sidewalks and grass. Those are people’s houses and yards next to the sidewalks. These heavily armed and camo’d police are marching through residential areas.

    From the end of carlie’s Deadspin article:

    “Return to your homes,” they yelled over megaphones.

    “This is our home,” the people of Ferguson answered. There wasn’t—there isn’t—much more to say.

  104. nich says

    In fact, speaking of the fucking Bundy brigade, where the fuck are all the freedom fighters using their precious 2nd amendment rights to protect the citizenry from tyranny? They’ll show up armed to the teeth to protect some fucking cows and keep the darkies on their side of the border, but the government actually rolls up in armored vehicles to squash a legitimate protest and it’s fucking crickets from these clowns.

  105. says

    Carlie:

    that is not information that anybody needs to know.

    No kidding. Seriously, I didn’t need to know that. Neither does anyone else.

  106. watry says

    I rarely comment here, but this time I feel the need to. Ferguson has been ignored by my local news except for the occasional five-second “Riots in Missouri” segment. I live in rural Georgia, surrounded by right-wing fuckasses who are terrified this is what Obama’s going to do (to white people)–but none of them are worried about it now. Hell, only two people I know in meatspace have even heard about it. And they both live in Atlanta, which is majority black itself.

    And the media blockade absolutely terrifies me. It’s like Occupy all over again but without media there to make them worry about the worst excesses.

  107. says

    Carlie, thank you for that link.

    Arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is functionally arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, a way of acknowledging that some black men ought be executed in the street.

    To even acknowledge this line of debate is to start a larger argument about the worth, the very personhood, of a black man in America. It’s to engage in a cost-benefit analysis, weigh probabilities, and gauge the precise odds that Brown’s life was worth nothing against the threat he posed to the life of the man who killed him. It’s to deny that there are structural reasons why Brown was shot dead while James Eagan Holmes—who on July 20, 2012, walked into a movie theater and fired rounds into an audience, killing 12 and wounding 70 more—was taken alive.

    To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun’s rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children’s toys. Guns aren’t for black people, either.

  108. says

    Watry:

    And the media blockade absolutely terrifies me.

    Aye, me too. It would seem the media doesn’t much care though.

  109. Pteryxx says

    St Louis Dispatch reporter Doug Moore moments ago:

    County Prosecutor defends releasing names of looters and not cop who shot Michael Brown. #MichaelBrown

    (twitter link)

    Autopsy of Michael Brown won’t be released, STL county prosecutor says. #MichaelBrown

    (twitter link)

  110. shala says

    nich #125

    In fact, speaking of the fucking Bundy brigade, where the fuck are all the freedom fighters using their precious 2nd amendment rights to protect the citizenry from tyranny? They’ll show up armed to the teeth to protect some fucking cows and keep the darkies on their side of the border, but the government actually rolls up in armored vehicles to squash a legitimate protest and it’s fucking crickets from these clowns.

    The first amendment is also very applicable here. It’s funny how a case of actual censorship and restrictions on freedom of speech can arise and yet no one in the press seems to bat an eye at it. That is seriously fucking fucked.

  111. says

    Pteryxx:

    St Louis Dispatch reporter Doug Moore moments ago:

    County Prosecutor defends releasing names of looters and not cop who shot Michael Brown. #MichaelBrown

    From Antonio French’s twitter feed:

    chief says they want to make sure proper security is in place for officer and his family before name is released. #Ferguson

  112. yazikus says

    This shit is so fucked up. I can’t even imagine what the brave residents and protesters are going through. That said, any word on ways that we can support them? I live in a small town. A small town that was recently the recipient of a tank for our local PD, courtesy of the federal government. We have a sheriff who is a former counter terrorism contractor who was imbedded in Iraq, who is outfitting our local deputies with military grade gear. This could totally be my small town. Except my town is pretty white. There is a largish minority of latin@s, around 1/4 of the population, and they are routinely dealt with as gang members. There was an incident just a few years ago where a young latino guy robbed a store. What he didn’t know was that the owner lived in the store. As he was fleeing with his ‘bounty’ of belt buckles on his bike, the owner stepped outside his store and fired his shotgun six times. The young man died trying to flee. No charges were filed. There was a coroner’s inquest that led to nothing. Racism is a problem. People need to pay attention.

  113. says

    Pteryxx:

    Autopsy of Michael Brown won’t be released, STL county prosecutor says.

    Yeah. On a day when two parents expected to take their son to college, they have to arrange a funeral and request a second, independent autopsy.

    Carlie:

    I saw another good piece called Things to stop being distracted by when a black person gets murdered by the police. It’s a good reminder of the kind of verbal spin that affects attitudes so much.

    Thank you. Clicking away to read now.

  114. carlie says

    Stats on racism in Ferguson.

    Ferguson police are much more likely to stop, search and arrest African American drivers than white ones. Last year, blacks, who make up a little less than two-thirds of the driving-age population in the North County city, accounted for 86 percent of all stops. When stopped, they were almost twice as likely to be searched as whites and twice as likely to be arrested, though police were less likely to find contraband on them.

  115. Terry Firma says

    I still remember the time I was taken to task by Mr. Myers for not displaying enough sorrow and regret over the decapitation of a bona fide fucking terrorist.

    I thought I’d already learned everything I needed to know about Myers’ hypocritical propensity to sneer and laugh at the dead and the defenseless whom he doesn’t happen to like, as he did when he rejoiced in the death of a priest who was lost at sea; Myers even fantasized about killing OTHER clergy, picking them off with a gun like clay pigeons.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/11/19/pz-myers-has-this-problem-with-my-post-about-the-terrorist-who-lost-his-head/

    Of course, that was before I read his heartless, classless body blow to the still-warm corpse of Robin Williams.

    Guess who I still won’t be taking advice in empathy from?

  116. says

    Terry Firma:

    I still remember the time I was taken to task by Mr. Myers for not displaying enough sorrow and regret over the decapitation of a bona fide fucking terrorist.

    How terribly irrelevant. Here’s an idea – read all the comments. There are two pages of them. While you attempt to educate yourself, we will carry on with our discussion of what’s happening in Ferguson, which is much more important than your need to whine and showcase your ignorance.

  117. PatrickG says

    So I’ve been catching up on this thread, rather appalled… I haven’t even quite gotten to the end yet. But this, right near the end of my reading, made me stop:

    @ anteprepro

    No, A Hermit […]told us how SOME depressed people DID feel. Important difference.

    Hi, just reminding you what was actually said:

    William’s death resonates for those who have dealt with depression and suicide and using that to make a political point about another tragedy was just as clumsy and insensitive as the rape tweets. Major fail.

    Hi, I’m someone who’s dealt with depression and suicide. My reaction to William’s death was: well, gee, that’s too bad, I’m sorry he was in such pain, that’s awful, I relate. However, it did not resonate with me. I did not immediately lose the thread and start complaining about how PZ was ever so rude. In fact, I completely agreed with PZ’s original point, and as a depressed person who’s been hospitalized for active ideation and initial attempt I don’t think it was a major fail at all.

    Thus, I absolutely felt that A Hermit was attempting to speak for me. I didn’t appreciate it. I really FUCKING DID NOT appreciate it. I thought it … attempted to speak for all people who suffer from depression. You know, what you claim A Hermit was NOT DOING.

    You know what I fucking appreciate even fucking less? YOU telling me that I don’t get to read some fucking words and react in my own fucking way. What the fuck, anteprepro? In this onslaught of trolls and idiots, you have to completely dismiss the very real issues you seem to care so much about? You’re SO WORRIED about PZ dismissing serious issues and yet you just waltz around dismissing the same fucking issues? You fucking asshole.

    Mind you, this is one fucking sentence after you said:

    So I can see how someone who was depressed might legitimately feel like there was some splash damage involved.

    No shit, Sherlock.

    Thanks A Hermit and anteprepro! You’ve managed to do what reporting on Williams’ death did NOT: make me absolutely fucking enraged, upset, and depressed. Feel free to dismiss my experience as irrelevant because it didn’t fucking resonate in the way you seem to think it should have.

    Also, I originally had some thoughts about how society treats suicide and end-of-life issues. Guess I’m just too fucking emotional to try and write those out now.

    I expect this kind of shit from the asshole trolls who’ve invaded this thread. But from regulars? For fuck’s sake.

  118. Esteleth is Groot says

    If the (unconfirmed) reports I’m seeing are correct, the “nice” woman quoted in the OP is married to the Chief of Police in Ferguson. Who also, supposedly, has a Confederate flag up at his home.

    What is NOT in dispute is the following:
    -For a city that is majority black, Ferguson’s police department is 95% white.
    -A Ferguson cop was recorded the other night calling the protestors “animals.”
    -A pregnant woman was body-slammed to the ground by a Ferguson cop during the protests.
    -The protestors’ chant of “no justice no peace” was reported on the news as “fuck the police” or “kill the police.”

  119. Esteleth is Groot says

    Also, police fired tear gas into people’s back yards, have kicked out all the media (wonder why?) and instituted a no-fly zone.

  120. says

    Esteleth:

    If the (unconfirmed) reports I’m seeing are correct, the “nice” woman quoted in the OP is married to the Chief of Police in Ferguson. Who also, supposedly, has a Confederate flag up at his home.

    Gobsmacked. Really gobsmacked.

  121. PatrickG says

    As I finish the thread, I’m reminded that there we other issues that I temporarily shelved during my profanity-laden rant. I did not mean to derail from that.

    Also, fuck you anteprepro.

  122. says

    PatrickG:

    Also, fuck you anteprepro.

    Tacking that on to an apology for a derail was an asshole move. Please, if you must do more of this, take it to thunderdome. While you’re there, you might as well tell me to fuck off too, because I defended A Hermit also.

  123. Esteleth is Groot says

    I should clarify, Inaji, that those are unconfirmed reports from the Internet. I would be overjoyed to report that she’s some random person and that the Chief is not a fan of the Stars and Bars.

  124. PatrickG says

    @ Inaji:

    I’ll close it here, then, because apparently responding in anger to someone completely dismissing my experiences and/or claiming to speak for me is off topic. Even if it is, y’know, related to the subject of the OP and the resultant hundreds-of-comments-long thread.

    /sarcasm

    But don’t worry, I’m off. Between the trolls and the regulars (seriously, you’re chastising me for being overly emotional about my depression and my experience with suicide in this thread!), I’ve been upset enough. Let me apologize again for letting deep personal issues come between you and the thread you want.

    For fuck’s sake.

  125. says

    PatrickG:

    (seriously, you’re chastising me for being overly emotional about my depression and my experience with suicide in this thread!)

    No, I did not do that. You had one post full of ‘fuck you Anteprepro’, then decided to tack another one onto a sorry for the derail post. If you want to argue with what Anteprepro wrote, please do so. If all you want to do is to tell them to fuck off, that belongs in thunderdome.

  126. Steve Caldwell says

    I agree that the major media folks often make very poor editorial decision regarding which stories they will cover and how much air time each story gets.

    But it’s possible to multi-task. I’ve been watching MS/NBC most of this evening. This network has covered the Ferguson police story including the civil liberties issues and the militarization of law enforcement in the US.

    And they’ve also provided a few minutes of Robin Williams coverage while keeping most of the focus on the Ferguson story.

  127. A Hermit says

    ” I absolutely felt that A Hermit was attempting to speak for me.”

    No Patrick G, I was speaking for myself. I’ve dealt with depression; my own and my father’s and with the suicide and attempted suicide of friends and family. Are you going to tell me how I should feel now?

    Don’t “Dear Muslima” me. I’m perfectly capable of being moved by William’s death AND outraged at another senselss shooting (and at events in Iraq and Gaza and Ukraine…all at the same time.)

    PZ could have made a good point here, but he was every bit as ham-fisted about it as Dawkins was. I won’t give him a pass any more than I gave Dawkins one and I don;t either of their sycophantic fanboys telling me how I should feel or what I should think.

  128. PatrickG says

    And one final comment now that I’ve calmed down a bit. I would have left this in the ThunderDome, as requested, but after consideration it felt more appropriate to apologize to people directly in this thread.

    A Hermit, anteprepro: My sincere apologies. I overreacted, and the accusations I leveled against you were unwarranted.

    I am sorry that I did not continue to the end of the thread before commenting. I would have been a much more temperate in my criticism, not to mention recognizing that the conversation had moved on. While I do feel that the specific language on how Williams’ apparent suicide obviously affects people afflicted by depression/suicidal ideation was dismissive, in the absence of so many trolling idiots I would have read those comments much more charitably, and been much more temperate in my response. I assumed intent without evidence in a quickly moving thread, and that’s my fault. The cumulative impact of this thread caused me to respond in a way that I would not normally have… not really a defense, but hopefully an explanation.]

    And with that, for my own mental health, I’ll not dare the depths of Pharyngula for a bit. Too many sharks! :)

  129. PatrickG says

    @ Inaji:/AHermit I appreciate your comments, and will note that I’ve been in the midst of a depressive episode lately. Thus these issues hit harder, and I took your comments more to heart/read intent that wasn’t there than I should have.

    Goodbye.

  130. says

    anteprepro @36:

    You have ironically done exactly what you criticized the media of doing: Using Robin Williams’ death to distract from the death of Mike Brown.

    I think you’re wrong here. It’s not about the death of Robin Williams. It’s about the media focusing on his death to the detriment of the ongoing oppression and discrimination of black people in the US. Yes, people can care about Robin Williams, but I’m not talking about the reaction of people, but the priorities of the media. I’m really surprised that you don’t get this.
    I think people are reacting to this post as if it’s about Robin Williams in large part due to celebrity culture.

    ****

    arthur @40:
    Robin Williams, a beloved actror/comedian died of a suspected suicide. It’s tragic.
    A young black man was brutally murdered by a police officer. This isn’t an isolated incident. It is another example of police brutality directed at blacks in the US, which part of the problem of systemic racism in the US. This problem is not covered by the media. In fact, the media glosses over systemic racism, and the ongoing treatment of black people by law enforcement and the justice system. The media saturation of Robin Williams’ death overshadows this ongoing civil rights violations, and also sends the message to many black Americans that the media, and the country at large do not care about this issue.
    It is not about Robin Williams’ death, but the media and politicians.
    Godfucking dammit people.
    Yes, PZ could have worded his post differently, but his message is clear.
    ****

    Daniel @41:
    Oh fuck, not you too!
    I’ve explained at length all across this thread. If you’ve read the thread in its entirety, you’ve read my comments, and I’m not likely to change your mind at this point.
    I’m disappointed that so many people who are normally able good at being able to spot social ills are blinded in this case. It’s like celebrity culture is preventing people from seeing the point of this post.

    (later)

    Thing is, PZ has basically admitted that he understands that people are angered and upset with his post. He doesn’t care. PZ stated explicitly that he thinks he should have been ruder to shock people more.

    Maybe its because PZ wishes more people were outraged at the systemic racism in this country rather than the death of a celebrity.
    Shocking people to try and get them to wake them up to see death of a celebrity vs black people still being denied their basic humanity and rights: which one is more important to people?
    ****
    Bill Thacker @44:

    I think our politicians and media are what they are because that’s what we want them to be.

    Somehow I don’t think the black people that wish society, the media, and politicians would listen to their concerns more would agree with you.
    Our politicians and media reflect a certain segment of this country. As evidenced by this case, the politicians and media are not concerned with that segment of the population that is outraged about ongoing civil rights violations. They’re concerned with the death of Robin Williams.
    Civil rights violations? Not a big deal to them. Why? Probably because of the skin color of the people being discriminated against and oppressed.

    ****
    Seconding every single word of carlie’s comment @47.

    ****

    A Hermit:

    William’s death resonates for those who have dealt with depression and suicide and using that to make a political point about another tragedy was just as clumsy and insensitive as the rape tweets. Major fail.

    See, I get that, but PZ wasn’t mocking Williams’ depression or his suicide.
    And I don’t agree that this was “another tragedy”. It’s far worse than that.

    ****
    That’s it. I can’t take this anymore. I’m out.
    Fuck this.

  131. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Shatterface

    Shorter Seven of Mine:
    People with depression shouldn’t bring their ‘agenda’ into a thread sneering at those who express sympathy at the death of someone with depression.

    Not so good with the readings and the comprehensions are we? I’ll spell it out for you. People have brought up mental illness. People have observed that this could have been an excellent opportunity for the media to explore the reality of depression and deplored that they haven’t. People have tried to have that conversation. You’re complaining that we’re not having that conversation. We’re trying to have it. But we can’t because we’re arguing with people like you, complaining that we’re not having the conversation you think should be happening. You are so busy complaining about a conversation not happening that you have apparently failed to notice that it’s trying to happen. Which makes others rather doubtful of your sincerity when you say you wish it would happen because you’re part of what’s preventing it from happening. You want to have that conversation? Fucking have it. Fucking respond to one of the many comments in this thread which has tried to start that conversation.

  132. says

    Before I go:
    This country is starting to scare me to a greater level than it had before. I live in Florida, home of George Fucking Zimmerman. Do you see my gravatar? I’m a man of color. I’m just they type of person that Zimmerman would probably distrust. I’m just the type of person that the police would probably not be terribly nice to. I’m the kind of person people would be suspicious of. I’m the kind of person who the justice system typically treats horrifically.
    For the first time in fucking I don’t know how long, I’ve met a guy who is pretty cool. He lives 10 minutes from me. I’ve been single for so fucking long that I have forgotten what it’s like to date or even be in a relationship. I’d pretty much given up hope of ever having the chance to fall in love with someone.
    What does this have to do with this thread?
    I don’t have a car.
    I walk to his house. Often in the evening.
    When I leave at night, IT’S FUCKING AT NIGHT. In fucking Florida. The fucking bible belt. Where they already don’t like black people. Then I’m gay on top of that. And an atheist? That’s a fucking trifecta for some people.
    The first night we hung out, I walked home. That was before I knew about Mike Brown. I read about that after I got home that night actually. That kinda freaked me out, but I did the same thing a lot of people in this country did, and treated it like an isolated incident. As I thought about it more, I realized that it’s not isolated. Yes, it’s one incident, but it’s part of something bigger, far worse, and a great deal scarier.
    Trayvon Martin was just walking home with skittles and a fucking iced tea. He was killed for nothing, bc of a racist scumbag who should be in prison (and I swear to god CAESAR do NOT fucking say a fucking goddamn thing you vile shitstain). I’ve walked to the store at night before. I’ve worn a brightly colored tee shirt, and shorts. I’ve carried my cellphone and wallet at all times. Why? Because in the back of my mind, I have to worry about the possibility that someone will want to shoot me because I’m a person of color. Nevermind that I don’t own a gun, and don’t want to. Nevermind that I’ve never been in a fight in my life. Nevermind that I’m not an aggressive person prone to violence. Nevermind that I have a hard time hurting a roach, let alone another human being. No, nevermind all that. There are people out there that wish I were dead, or would take the opportunity to kill me for nothing.
    And you know what? That scares me. That horrifies me. Not so much that it’s going to paralyze me, bc dammit I’m not going to live my life frozen by fear, unable to do anything.

    But I should be able to live my life and not worry about the possibility of being shot and killed. I should be able to have the same equal opportunity to go through life with the same possibility of a fulfilling existence as white people.
    But I can’t.
    I can’t because I was born a different color.
    And now, in this country, this land of supposed freedom and equality…this land that says everyone was born equal and free, we have a police state that is brutalizing black people. Young and old. We have a government that looks the other way at this ongoting civil rights travesty. We have media that doesn’t want to even tackle stories like this, and when they do, they treat them like isolated incidents. They don’t treat them like symptoms of a deeper problem…when they even document them.

    So that brings us to Mike Brown and Robin Williams. I’ve said it so many fucking times in this thread and I’ll say it again:
    I’m sorry Robin Williams died. I’m sorry his family and friends are grieving. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, no matter how much I despise them. I wish our mental healthcare system were significantly better. I wish there were no stigma attached to mental illness. Do you get this people? Do you understand that I’m not minimizing what happened to Robin Williams? I hope to fucking god you do because I’m sick and fucking tired of saying it.
    But, compare his death, and how it is treated in the media. Compare that to how black people across this country feel. FOR FUCKS SAKE, COMPARE IT TO WHAT I’VE JUST DESCRIBED.

    I’m fucking shaking right now and crying because I can’t believe people have so spectacularly missed the point of this post, and it has really hit home tonight, the third day in a row that I’ve gotten to go on a date with the same guy. He drove me home bc even he realizes that it can be dangerous out there at night for certain people with a certain skin color. I appreciate that he chose to do that, even though I would never ask him to do it. I don’t want to be an imposition on anyone.
    Don’t I deserve to be able to walk home at night without the worry of being harassed or worry about facing threats from racist assholes? Doesn’t every black person? Doesn’t every single person who is oppressed or discriminated against?
    IF SO, THEN WHY WON’T THE MEDIA GIVE A FUCKING SHIT ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON?
    Why is my life…why are the lives of black and brown people across the US..across the planet even…why are they treated like they aren’t of worth? Why are we dehumanized and treated like second class citizens?
    Why?
    And why can’t we have a discussion in this country about this?
    Can someone, one you people who are berating PZ for bringing this up…can one of you explain that to me?

    GODFUCKING DAMMIT!
    Yes I’m crying and shaking still. I guess it doesn’t matter to some people, because I’m just a person of color. Fuck.

  133. Brony says

    Like I said in other places in here, comparing Dawkins to PZ is complete and utter bullshit. I’m fine with his post.

    Dawkins: Casually comparing suffering of rape victims in order direct attention to a pathetic logical point. The individuals speaking out are the ones experiencing suffering and are people with less social power and Dawkins displayed little concern or receptivity to the messages of the people who had been raped.

    PZ: Carefully comparing the media attention paid to Williams’s celebrity to the lack of media attention in more important areas (sorry but use of sarcasm is fair and it’s telling that critics are entranced by the thing that is false). The comparison is made to direct attention to suffering and the people speaking out against PZ are not suffering in the slightest, they are outraged over the hypothetical sensitivities of people far up the social ladder with plenty of emotional support.

    Fuck that bullshit. Rape victims in pain get ignored and excuses, outraged people acting as proxies for hypothetical people in pain because of PZ’s post get what? Your feels stroked? Your bruised sensibilities bandaged so that “Team Atheism” is unified against religion? This sort of sacrificing of the victims for the sake of the group is precisely what I don’t like about religious groups.

    You and Dawkins are no allies of mine.

  134. A. Noyd says

    @Tony (#[6]60)
    I don’t know if “thank you” is the right thing to say in response to something so heartwrenching, but I really appreciate you speaking out. And I’m sorry that you have to and that you’re being hurt by this.

  135. Brony says

    And at NO POINT has PZ minimized depression. Utter fucking bullshit.

    Not to mention that minimization of mental illness, gender problems, racial disparities have a core of similar behaviors. By helping the black community get passed their layer of bullshit I get to chip away at that and as a person with Tourette’s Syndrom who fucking knows what minimization looks like I AM HAPPY TO DO IT!

    Enjoy your side of the rift. May it grow ever wider.

  136. says

    Tony, your post at 160 should be on the front page of Pharyngula. Thank you for taking the time to write it. You matter to me, a great deal, and the way people of colour are treated in this country is terrifying.

  137. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Tony

    It matters to me too.

    And I’ll go further. I suffer from depression, I attempted suicide. I wish PZ hadn’t used this particular argument to make his point, but his point is obvious to me and I agree with it. I agree with you.

    But then, I spent the better part of two years of my youth being hunted, for lack of a better term, by bullies in my neighbourhood. I can’t breath properly through my nose and I have one tooth that doesn’t line up because of those bullies. I can’t sleep at night with an unlocked door or window in the house, even thirty years after those events.

    You could say that I’ve had empathy for the vulnerable in society beat into me, and I’ll be fucked if I know how to make those who haven’t had that awful training understand you’re experience. Hell, I can’t even imagine what it must be like for it to go on, and on, and on, instead of just for a couple of years. Or of how it must feel that the very institutions that protect people, select people, are the ones that must be feared.

    All the hugs. All of ‘em.

  138. Akira MacKenzie says

    I know I’m a late-comer to this dust-up, but I’ve only just now have waded through the shit left scattered by the trolls. I’m sad to confess I hadn’t heard anything about the situation in Ferguson until PZ brought it up here. So FUCK OFF to Dawkins, Coyne, and their racist, shit-for-brains, fans. You’re not upset over what you think PZ wrote about Robin Williams, your really upset that he’s trying to drag your attention toward a situation that your unwilling to face. (Or, maybe you really side with the fucking pigs.)

    Tony! @ 160

    Yes I’m crying and shaking still. I guess it doesn’t matter to some people, because I’m just a person of color. Fuck.

    *HUGS*

  139. smhll says

    This is not the time to say “Oh, my! What an outpouring of outrage! Too much outrage is so unseemly!”

    This is well past the time to say “Fuck, yeah, people should be outraged!!!”

  140. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Thank you, Tony!, and I’m deeply sorry.

    You have all my love. Inaji is right that this statement deserves to be highlighted by FtB and by PZ. This is the shit. One of my best friends had a special party on his 25th birthday to celebrate surviving a quarter century as a black, gay kid and man in the USA…withOUT spending time in prison. Why? Because of some weird paranoia? Because he happened to be victimized years ago and couldn’t let it go?

    No.

    Because he knew the fucking odds.

    To assert the vital importance of addressing this doesn’t require diminishing Robin Williams or his life or his death or the grief of any who loved him. It requires valuing the group “Black folk” as human, as people, as much as we value the group “actors”.

    That’s not too much to ask the citizens of the US, is it?

  141. Lofty says

    Finally got through the thread.
    To the empathy deficient trolls: Fuck off back to the far side of the Rift.
    To the people who are being hurt by this event: My tears for you. NO-ONE should have to go through life in terror of the risk of being murdered by LAW ENFORCEMENT in their own country. No one.
    Hugs for Tony and the Horde.

  142. ceesays says

    You’re all sitting here talking about mike brown, but I’ve got some more fuckign names for you while you’re all booing the derailing nitwit with the tone argument. Sit all your asses down. Open your ears, and hear me.

    Mike Brown was a 17 black boy who was killed by police while he was unarmed. I’m aware that most of you had heard about him before this post.
    He died two days ago.

    John Crawford was an unarmed 22 year old black man who was killed by police while shopping in a wal-mart, a hotspot for white people to slouch around wearing the latest all american fashion – assault rifles. Perhaps you heard of him. Perhaps the name is fuzzily familiar.

    He died on August the 8th.

    Perhaps you’ve even heard of Ezell Ford, a 24 year old black man who was killed by police while he was walking along 65th street, some TWO HUNDRED blocks north of where a shooting had been reported. He was lying on the ground and obeying police orders when he was killed by police.

    He died on August the 13th. oh look.

    That’s today.

    you all going to be paying attention when the next unarmed black man dies to police on the 15th? you gonna remember their names when there’s another black person lying dead in the street, killed by police on the 17th? are you going to remember eric garner’s name? you wondering who eric garner is?

    It’s not just mike brown. It’s name after name after name, and it’s been going on for years. YEARS. somebody black is KILLED by police in america once every 28 hours, and you’re upset because you have depression and how could anyone dare point out that the media grabbing onto Robin William’s suicide is a political move rooted deep into anti-blackness.

    Well. I have mental illnesses too. And Robin Williams – he was famous. He was rich. He had treatment. More treatment than I could ever obtain for my comorbid bipolar disorder and PTSD. And if he couldn’t beat it, why should I even bother?

    And if I did beat it, what kind of a life do I get with this skin? because black women get murdered by police. did you hear about the black grandmother who was nearly beaten to death by a cop? did you hear about that? Did you hear about the young pregnant woman in ferguson who was bodyslammed?

    Did you hear that it’s so bad that black people don’t want to have children, because look at the world they’d be bring their kids into? Did you hear any of that?

    Look, I’m sorry Robin Williams is dead. I admired him a great deal. I loved his HBO improv performance. I watched Mork and Mindy. I watched The Dead Poets Society and Patch Adams and Death to Smoochy. I’m sorry he killed himself, both because I can’t stop imagining how deep the pain has to go to actually go through with it. Williams’s death has conviced me that I have a terminal disease from which there is no cure, and I will die from it. Maybe not today. But I know how I’m going to die. It got him, it’ll get me too. That’s just how it is.

    But PZ is right. News media is using his death as a way to turn a blind eye to Mike brown and all the other dead black people they ignore or blame for their deaths.

    Oh, and you thought the If I was gunned down photo meme was funny?

    Oh.

    Would you mind terribly if I don’t feel safe around you at all? because that photo meme made me want to smash things and weep, because that’s the joke, you see. We’re never allowed to be human. Not even when we’re innocent. Not even when we’re murder victims, because we are not human.

  143. says

    Holy fucking Christ. Everything about this entire post and thread is making me want to throw my laptop at the fucking wall.

    PZ: I love the point you’re making. You are absolutely, 100% correct. The way Ferguson is being damn-near ignored is fucking disgusting. And it isn’t just Ferguson, as ceesays has so clearly pointed out. The United States? We haven’t fucking changed. Not one fucking bit. We are still insanely racist beyond all measure (I won’t even go into all the other bigotries still perpetrated in this shitty excuse for a so-called “First World Country”, like the misogyny, and homophobia, and transphobia, and ableism, and xenophobia, and classism, and all of it). I honestly would not be surprised to wake up to news of new, strong race riots. And, as it was before, it’ll be white people’s fault. Us fucking white people.

    And the media only makes it worse. The media ignores the brutality, and when it can’t, it demonizes the mimorities instead of looking at the real fucking problem.

    PZ, you are absolutely correct.

    Isn’t there a less callous way to be correct, though?

    Fans of Dawkins and Coyne: Do fuck off you disingenuous little shits.

    I tried to kill myself, years ago. Reading about Robin Williams was a fucking terrible punch in the gut. I feel like shit right now. I don’t want to do anything. I have to go to work at 10 pm. I’m seriously considering calling out. I can’t do it. I can’t fucking look at the fucking world right now because of the darkness this has brought back up. While it’s a good thing that I have things I want to do before I die that will take years, and so I have no intention of dying anytime soon, I feel, again, like I did all those years ago.

    So fuck all of you. Fuck your ableism and your barely-disguised racism and your clear lack of empathy. Fuck all of you. And fuck Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins, while I’m at it.

    You are deliberately avoiding the point PZ Myers was making. Even I can see it clear as fucking daylight. I may not like the way PZ presented it, but his point is obvious enough that I refuse to believe any of you missed it. You’re lying when you claim you read PZ’s post as taking a cheap shot at Williams and his death, because it’s so obvious he wasn’t I see no other explanation for your shit.

    So go the fuck away.

  144. azhael says

    You are deliberately avoiding the point PZ Myers was making. Even I can see it clear as fucking daylight. I may not like the way PZ presented it, but his point is obvious enough that I refuse to believe any of you missed it. You’re lying when you claim you read PZ’s post as taking a cheap shot at Williams and his death, because it’s so obvious he wasn’t I see no other explanation for your shit.

    Yes. I’ve seen several of those and i’m just amazed. Anyone who is even passingly familiar with PZ and the community of people that inhabit these comments would inmediately know that mental illness, including depression, is something that most individuals here take very, VERY seriously, including our host. As a matter of fact, on a personal level, one of the many reason why i’m drawn to this blog, is precisely that it is a community that cares deeply about depression and other forms of mental illness and it feels good to hang around people who “get it”, even if it’s just on an internet blog and even if i haven’t openly discussed my personal experience. I feel no need to, it’s good enough to just know that people understand, for a change.
    It takes complete ignorance of what this community and PZ are about, or a great big dollop of malice, to suggest that he would seriously take a cheap shot at someone being driven to suicide by severe depression. Since i know that both RD and JC must be familiar enough to know this, i can’t help but think they are consciously taking advantage of the situation to manipulate people against PZ, which is a cheap shot…

    On addition to that i would like to say that being a non-native speaker i frequently have trouble identifying sarcasm in english texts aswell as understanding people’s intent, etc, those kinds of things regularly go over my head, but on this occassion i had no trouble understanding PZ’s post. It was clear to me that the focus was the fucked up way in which media goes on and on and on about a celebrity death, to the point where frankly it is extremely tasteless (it’s not a tribute, it’s morbid), while that same media is completely inadequate in covering a very serious situation that has been ongoing for three days and the murder of a 18 year old boy by a policeman. I also clearly got how it is tragic that an individual, in this case a famous comedian well known to millions, would take their own lifes as a result of a serious mental condition. In addition, the post also showed clear and well deserved outrage at the murder of Mike Brown and the ongoing situation in Missouri. All of those things are very clearly discernible from that post, even to me….despite the heavy cloud of sarcasm and emotion.

  145. carlie says

    Tony’s comment at 160 is everything. And the things ceesays and NateHavens said, too. That is the reality. This isn’t one tragic death vs. another. This is one tragic death against systemic oppression. Hell, it’s to the point that it’s genocide, only it’s the insidious kind where the people doing it don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing, so it’s harder to fight than the outright kind.

  146. hyphenman says

    @ Tony! The Queer Shoop No. 160.

    First. Great words, man.

    Second. The idea of the serial killer changed in the second half of the 20th century when police began more widely sharing data. What was thought to be a horrible, but rare, event was discovered to be so common as to horrify. I have to wonder if the Internet might be allowing, by telling us about Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown and I don’t honestly know how many others, that murders of the others—people of a different color, people of a different sexual orientation, people of a different gender, people of a different ethnic heritage, people of a different religion—happens so often in our society as to be pathological and most terribly, banal.

    is anyone on the Internet keeping track? I don’t want to know the numbers, I want to know the names.

    Out of the list that includes Trayvon, Renisha, Michael and dozens? hundreds? thousands? of others, I only know of one case where justice was served. That is not acceptable.

    Jeff

  147. Al Dente says

    Tony @160

    Thank you. I was crying when I read your post. Thank you for making me cry.

  148. says

    Anyone who is even passingly familiar with PZ and the community of people that inhabit these comments would inmediately know that mental illness, including depression, is something that most individuals here take very, VERY seriously, including our host.

    That’s a big flaw in what I wrote — I should not assume that kind of prior knowledge.

  149. A Hermit says

    Patrick…thank you for that thoughtful reply. I get it…

    Tony G, I’m sorry that a thread that should be about all the things you’re talking about has turned into something else. That’s on PZ though for fucking up the post in the first place and basically pulling a “Dear Muslima “.

    For what it’s worth I get my news from the CBC and they’ve actually been covering events in Missouri pretty thoroughly. Maybe the media problem is worse where you are.

    PZ if you care so much about depression and mental health listen to the people who are telling you why you fucked up here. I expect you to do better than Dawkins at that and so far You put your foot in your mouth, take responsibility for that.

  150. chimera says

    Cross-posting on several threads. Antonio French, alderman, who covered Ferguson last night on Twitter, from one of his re-tweets:

    Meanwhile, @AntonioFrench’s Twitter followers are 20k+ due to his on-the-ground witness in #Ferguson. If all gave $5: http://www.thenorthcampus.org

    It’s an education initiative for kids.

  151. chimera says

    PZ 178,

    Glad to hear you’re recognizing you made some sort of mistake. it’s not just “prior knowledge” It’s about that “intent is not magic” thing. You and others around here expect to be interpreted in the most generous of spirits while the statement of others are picked apart in the most men-spirited way possible. That’s why I restrict my comments now.

  152. Claudio says

    @PZ 178-
    Suppose Dawkins takes rape very seriously. Would that thought have changed your take on RD’s tweets at all?

  153. Pteryxx says

    hyphenman #176:

    I have to wonder if the Internet might be allowing, by telling us about Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown and I don’t honestly know how many others, that murders of the others—people of a different color, people of a different sexual orientation, people of a different gender, people of a different ethnic heritage, people of a different religion—happens so often in our society as to be pathological and most terribly, banal.

    is anyone on the Internet keeping track? I don’t want to know the numbers, I want to know the names.

    I attended a rally in 2012 for Trayvon Martin, one of dozens around the country. (I’m basically white.) Here’s what I wrote then:

    I hadn’t really understood until then, on a visceral level anyway, that this is a community of people who live with this shit every day for their whole lives. One of the speakers read off a LIST OF NAMES of black folks killed by cops over the last several years just in the local area. Several folks mentioned family members they had lost. They assume everyone who isn’t black doesn’t care and will just forget the whole thing in a few weeks, because that’s what happens every time. Help isn’t coming.

    I was standing in a crowd of black people who had lost family members to police. I *live* here and I never knew.

    My point being, not even the internet is adequate to this task. The lists of names go back decades, generations. Many of them never got mentioned on the internet or even local newspapers in the first place. I suggest that if you’re able to attend a vigil or a rally local to you, say one of the #NMOS14 events being held tomorrow for Michael Brown, you’re likely to hear someone read a list of names from your own home, too.

    A couple of internet lists I found anyway:

    The Root: 20 unarmed black men shot by police

    Murdered by cops index started in 2010

  154. says

    chimera:

    You and others around here expect to be interpreted in the most generous of spirits while the statement of others are picked apart in the most men-spirited way possible.

    Care to come to the Thunderdome and back this up, bc I don’t believe this is true. Yes, the regulars have often gone to bat for one another, but they’ve often criticized one another as well. There’s evidence of that in this very thread. And no, the statements of others are not picked apart in the most mean spirited ways. You’ve no evidence of that. You’re assuming that it’s mean spirited bc you don’t like the manner of the responses.

  155. says

    Damn PZ. You lost me here. This is really callous and really terrible. I don’t get the rabid argument in here either. Give it a rest for, what, a week? Then make comments on celebrity culture or whatever.

    I’ve followed your blog since the beginning, and we’ve emailed back and forth about various stuff at times. I wish you well but I hope maybe someday you realize that this shit was pretty bad.

  156. says

    Read the thread Garth. Read the comments. Read my comment @160. Read the comment by ceesays @172.
    Could PZ have handled his initial post with greater sensitivity? Yes. I think at this point he knows how a great many people feel on that.
    But it doesn’t change the point of the OP. The message is still the same. And it’s a message that so many people are missing. You’re just the latest in a long line of people who condemn him while not even grokking his point.

  157. falstaff says

    You’re an atheist Rush Limbaugh. Why don’t you take your white, wealthy ass to Ferguson to protest? You probably have some important conference to attend. By the way, how’s your murderer son, the one in the US Army?

  158. A. Noyd says

    Claudio (#184)

    Suppose Dawkins takes rape very seriously. Would that thought have changed your take on RD’s tweets at all?

    You’d think Dawkins would have bothered to learn something about it at some point if he took it very seriously. Or maybe you’re buying into the belief that Dawkins’ critics are just sensitive about the topic (as if feminists don’t talk about rape all the damn time) and are not instead angry with the man for being so excruciatingly ignorant and not letting his ignorance temper his opinion. I mean, I’m sure Todd Akin thinks himself extremely serious about rape, too.

    Personally, I find extreme sarcasm used in the service of exposing injustice to be comforting. When I get angry over something terrible, I like seeing other people taking it out on the ones who are responsible by making them look absurd. That’s why I gravitate towards bloggers like Rebecca Watson, Dave Futrelle, and Jenny Trout.

  159. Al Dente says

    Garth Hansen @189

    This is really callous and really terrible.

    Yes, an unarmed black man being killed by a cop is really callous. It’s really terrible that the media is concentrating all its efforts on the death of a celebrity instead of reporting an apparently racially motivated killing. Or is that not what you were complaining about?

  160. says

    Ceesays @ 172, thank you for that post. Everyone should read that, and some people, who can’t see past their need to dump on PZ should read it all day long, until it eventually sinks in.

  161. thisblogisdumb says

    Robin Williams wasn’t a wealthy white man. He killed himself in large part due to financial problems and was taking roles he didn’t want towards the end of his life just so he could pay his bills. Not every white person you’ve heard of is wealthy.

    Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy. Robin Williams death was a tragedy. The media has covered both these tragedies and will continue to cover them in the days to come. There is still much to be revealed about the death of Michael Brown and the media is obligated to wait til more info comes to light before they can report much beyond what they already have.

    There are a lot of people in this country and more than one person does typically die on the same day. Both Williams and Brown have received more coverage than most people get when they die. And I guarantee you that neither Williams nor Brown were the only people in the country who died under questionable circumstances that day. Therefore, if Robin Williams death has no significance except to distract from the death of Michael Brown, it follows that Michael Brown’s death is only significant because it distracted from the deaths of other non-famous people who died on the same day.
    Personally, I believe that every life is significant and that no one freaking DIES just to take the limelight away from someone else.

    That’s obviously not what PZ Myers believes. This person actually tries to imply that white celebrities are racist if they die on the same day as a black person, and that the media, en masse, is also racist if they don’t just ignore the death of a brilliant comedian who was beloved by millions and report EXCLUSIVELY on the tragic death of a young man of color. Nonsense. These are both newsworthy stories and the media should be, and is, covering both.

  162. falstaff says

    #468: You could have made your points without being a colossal prick about it. They’re good points. But you have to be such an asshole about it. You could have done it without even mentioning Robin Williams. You could have just mentioned Michael Brown and the media. Fuck it. This was the first time I came to sight in a long time; same shit, different day. Arrogant. Self-righteous. Hypocritical.

  163. says

    Falstaff, do not use gendered slurs here, it’s against the commenting rules. As you have nothing of substance to say about the situation in Ferguson, perhaps you could take your reiterations somewhere else, where they might be appreciated as actually having something to say.

    thisblogisdumb, there are two pages of comments. I suggest you read them.

  164. A. Noyd says

    Yes, I also want to thank ceesays for her contribution. Did not mean to leave that out. It’s important not to make Brown’s death into a singular thing when it’s part of a horrifying pattern (a system which Tony also mentioned over and over).

    And gotta love the trolls who keep talking about how this is a matter of covering Brown’s murder vs. Williams’ suicide. Why are they leaving out the ongoing aftermath of Brown’s murder? Have they not heard of it? Kind of proves the point.

  165. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    These are both newsworthy stories and the media should be, and is, covering both.

    Yes, that is what PZ said. But what he also said was that celebrity news shouldn’t ever preempt real news. I saw a news show yesterday that got it the way PZ wanted. Robin Williams came after the hard news, and when his segment was shown, it was a nice retrospective of his career, and his ups and downs with addiction and depression. The show? BBC America World News.

  166. morali0t says

    I am new to this site. The first blog I’ve read is the one on Robin Williams. Another person mentioned
    your article which motivated me to write my comment. I have no qualms about blasting the
    media for focusing on trite matters rather than very serious matters. However, you cannot make a valid
    point by comparing apples to oranges. Had you compared the situation of the killing with a recent nod from
    ABC regarding Billy Joel singing one of his old original songs, I would agree with your rant. This news spot was
    accompanied by the anchor saying, ” This is a picture that will long be remembered.” Certainly, not by me.
    There is news and there is news. Some events should strictly be reported by Entertainment Tonight, like the
    national news item I just mentioned.

    Regarding the coverage of Robin Williams. His death is newsworthy because he was an icon to many. He brought
    so much laughter and happiness to many throughout his long well noted career. Both Robin Williams death and
    the outrageous killing noted in your article deserve attention in their own right. The next time you have a beef with the media, I would
    suggest you compare apples to apples. Just be direct about the issue you have with them. You’ll open more eyes if you stick to directly blasting the media
    for not giving enough coverage to something as outrageous as the killing by the police. Address the issues of violence
    and fear and racism that result with this hyenous crime. Don’t bring Robin Williams into it. It was a poor choice and before you
    press SEND next time PZ, I wish you’d pause a bit longer.

    media
    media

  167. Brony says

    @thisblogisdumb

    Robin Williams wasn’t a wealthy white man. He killed himself in large part due to financial problems and was taking roles he didn’t want towards the end of his life just so he could pay his bills. Not every white person you’ve heard of is wealthy.

    I would like to see a source for this. But even if true the whole argument still applies if you swap obsession with wealthy persons for celebrities.

    Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy. Robin Williams death was a tragedy. The media has covered both these tragedies and will continue to cover them in the days to come. There is still much to be revealed about the death of Michael Brown and the media is obligated to wait til more info comes to light before they can report much beyond what they already have.

    Completely ignores the point of proportionality of celebrity or white, wealthy American coverage versus coverage of issues that would make wealthy white Americans feel uncomfortable.

    There are a lot of people in this country and more than one person does typically die on the same day. Both Williams and Brown have received more coverage than most people get when they die. And I guarantee you that neither Williams nor Brown were the only people in the country who died under questionable circumstances that day. Therefore, if Robin Williams death has no significance except to distract from the death of Michael Brown, it follows that Michael Brown’s death is only significant because it distracted from the deaths of other non-famous people who died on the same day.

    So because other bad things happen over there like this bad thing we are using as an example for the more neglected issues, choosing any example to personalize and humanize the issue can’t be done. Utterly illogical. Choosing a relevant current example that reasonably acts as an empathy bridge to the issue is rational and logical. Something tells me that in other contexts you have no problem choosing human examples of problems that you care about even though there are tons of examples.

    Personally, I believe that every life is significant and that no one freaking DIES just to take the limelight away from someone else.

    No but the media chooses to direct it’s attention based on lots of social factors that create pressure on them and we get to say that they are not doing their job because they don’t want to put up with the social pressure (the thing that is actually being discussed here). I’m also not at all sympathetic to that.

    That’s obviously not what PZ Myers believes. This person actually tries to imply that white celebrities are racist if they die on the same day as a black person, and that the media, en masse, is also racist if they don’t just ignore the death of a brilliant comedian who was beloved by millions and report EXCLUSIVELY on the tragic death of a young man of color. Nonsense. These are both newsworthy stories and the media should be, and is, covering both.

    Oh I just gotta see the logic for this!

  168. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Don’t bring Robin Williams into it. It was a poor choice and before you
    press SEND next time PZ, I wish you’d pause a bit longer.

    His OP was on point, in that the news of the death of a celebrity should always take back seat to the hard news, such as the blatant murder of an unarmed black teenager by police. It can be done right, see my #199, and think about that before you press send again.

  169. observer15 says

    As I write this I note that the Michael Brown shooting is again the top story on the CNN Web site. What constitutes the “top story” changes day to day and even hour to hour. I suspect that the top stories are chosen for their importance, interest, and for being breaking news. I also noted that the Michael Brown shooting was given extensive coverage last night on the CBS Evening News and that the story about Robin William’s death was saved for a minute or two at the end of the broadcast. I see no evidence that the Michael Brown shooting is in any sense being faded out, at least not at this time.

  170. nich says

    Brony@201:

    I would like to see a source for this. But even if true the whole argument still applies if you swap obsession with wealthy persons for celebrities.

    From what I gathered poking around, he was having trouble of the “Oh shit, I’d better score a multi-million dollar paycheck quick or else I’ll have to downsize from a 10 bedroom mansion to a 7 bedroom one” type. He was supposedly set to start filming the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel later this year which was probably going to garner him a payday on the level of the GDP of a third world nation. To say he was not a wealthy white man because he might have to sell a Maserati and slum for a role is disingenuous bullshit.

  171. evinm says

    I get the point PZ was making: The media certainly has its priorities screwed up. There’s been a bigger outpouring of coverage over the death of a beloved celebrity than that of social injustice. And it’s true, the death of Michael Brown–not to mention the ensuing events that are sure to transpire because of it–will have a more devastating effect for the lives and safety of blacks and other minorities than that of Mr. Williams death.

    I know some here have said we shouldn’t focus on the way PZ presented the post, but stick to the point he was making. And I would love to have a discussion on the way the news media sets its priorities. For what it’s worth, it seems to me that the ideals of capitalism got the better of this situation. The Williams story has more of a safe and mainstream appeal–more ratings and more money. There’s nothing, as far as I can tell, that tells me the media and others were deliberately attempting to distract or suppress the Ferguson events. I am not trying to defend capitalism here because it is (especially in this case) unfortunate how it makes people view the importance of stories.

    But people, bloggers and even proper news outlets are still talking about Michael Brown. Even the president spoke up about it. And this is a good thing. We shouldn’t let this event and the issues it brings up fade away. There truly does need to be a conversation kept alive about it!

    Further to my point: I do find it hard to get past the way PZ presented this post. It reeks of insincerity and only playing for points. By referring to a separate tragedy as the death of a wealthy white man, and then making a bad joke about how a white racist probably enjoys his brand of entertainment , it comes off as unnecessarily mean spirited–especially towards those who really did care for and love him. Furthermore, seeing as PZ has white male privilege himself, this post comes across as being more about himself than a sincere call for justice: “Hey look at me! I’m one of the good ones!”

    For the record, I’m wasn’t particularly keen to Robin Williams brand of comedy. He has made me laugh out loud a handful times, and I have really enjoyed some of the movies he’s been in, but I found his energy to be overall exhausting to watch. Additionally, I do feel a little saddened to read this post from PZ. I have read Pharyngula for years (PZ even published my “Why I’m an Atheist”) and have aways liked the issues championed here. So I do believe PZ is sincere in wanting justice done. However, I am not reading the sincerity on this one.

  172. thisblogisdumb says

    @thisblogisdumb
    Robin Williams wasn’t a wealthy white man. He killed himself in large part due to financial problems and was taking roles he didn’t want towards the end of his life just so he could pay his bills. Not every white person you’ve heard of is wealthy.

    I would like to see a source for this. But even if true the whole argument still applies if you swap obsession with wealthy persons for celebrities.

    @Brony
    Please don’t try to pull the pathetic trick of trying to make someone give you a source for something that is common knowledge at this point. Do you know how to google? It’s in practically every story about Williams’ suicide that he killed himself largely because of money trouble. He’d been through 2 divorces and most of the money he made was being funneled directly to his ex wives. He was selling his mansion because he could no longer afford it. He had more bills coming in than he had money coming in. He wasn’t on the street yet, but he would have been had he not sold his property and taken roles he didn’t want (why else would he have signed onto Mrs. Doubtfire 2 or the tv show The Crazy Ones, which lasted only 1 season?). I’m not saying he was completely impoverished, but not living on the street yet isn’t the same thing as being “wealthy”.
    Robin Williams wasn’t just a “celebrity”, he was a beloved Oscar nominee and comedian who was a mentor to many. To act like his death should be ignored just because he wasn’t the only person who died that day is disrespectful to him.

    “Completely ignores the point of proportionality of celebrity”

    There was no point made in the blog post about “proportionality of celebrity”. Perhaps you are delusional.

    “or white, wealthy American coverage versus coverage of issues that would make wealthy white Americans feel uncomfortable.””

    Again, Williams wasn’t wealthy. You’re trying to make this about something it’s not. Also, what basis are you coming from in stating that coverage of Michael Brown’s murder would make white wealthy Americans “uncomfortable”? There is no lack of coverage of Michael Brown’s death and white people of all different financial statuses are joining the chorus of people who are outraged by the apparent brutality and racism of the Ferguson police department. You are recycling the old “all white people are racist” or at least “all wealthy white people are racist” canard, and you don’t even have a good excuse for doing so. There certainly are still racist white people (and racist black people, and racist Asians, etc, etc) but there’s no reason to automatically assume that “wealthy white people” are a homogeneous group who would somehow be made uncomfortable by news coverage implying that non-wealthy white cops they’ve never met are racist. You’re trying to act like some great opponent of racism while simultaneously suggesting pretty racist things about white people, despite the fact that many white people have been very vocal about how infuriated they are that Michael Brown was senselessly murdered. And all of this is based on the ridiculous assertion that the media is racist because they didn’t completely ignore the death of a beloved icon simply because that icon was white (if Robin Williams was also black, this blog post never would have been written).

    There are a lot of people in this country and more than one person does typically die on the same day. Both Williams and Brown have received more coverage than most people get when they die. And I guarantee you that neither Williams nor Brown were the only people in the country who died under questionable circumstances that day. Therefore, if Robin Williams death has no significance except to distract from the death of Michael Brown, it follows that Michael Brown’s death is only significant because it distracted from the deaths of other non-famous people who died on the same day.
    So because other bad things happen over there like this bad thing we are using as an example for the more neglected issues, choosing any example to personalize and humanize the issue can’t be done. Utterly illogical. Choosing a relevant current example that reasonably acts as an empathy bridge to the issue is rational and logical. Something tells me that in other contexts you have no problem choosing human examples of problems that you care about even though there are tons of examples.
    Personally, I believe that every life is significant and that no one freaking DIES just to take the limelight away from someone else.

    “No but the media chooses to direct it’s attention based on lots of social factors that create pressure on them and we get to say that they are not doing their job because they don’t want to put up with the social pressure (the thing that is actually being discussed here). I’m also not at all sympathetic to that.”

    Well, I’m a journalism major and I know that the media actually tends to swarm all over anything with racial implications, because it keeps people of all races watching and wanting to chip in their 2 cents. They also tend to try to weigh things for newsworthiness, and they try to cover as many stories as possible. The death of Robin Williams and Michael Brown were both newsworthy, so the media has given, and will keep giving, ample coverage to both. There’s no great conspiracy there. There is simply hardly ever a news broadcast that only covers one story. Your issue isn’t that Michael Brown hasn’t gotten coverage, it’s that all other news stories haven’t stopped being reported on. That’s an unreasonable expectation and I don’t have any sympathy for people who start whining when their unreasonable expectations aren’t met.

    Me: That’s obviously not what PZ Myers believes. This person actually tries to imply that white celebrities are racist if they die on the same day as a black person, and that the media, en masse, is also racist if they don’t just ignore the death of a brilliant comedian who was beloved by millions and report EXCLUSIVELY on the tragic death of a young man of color. Nonsense. These are both newsworthy stories and the media should be, and is, covering both.

    Brony “Oh I just gotta see the logic for this!”

    You have to see the logic for what, exactly? All I did in the comment above was paraphrase the “points” PZ Myers made. If those points lack logic, you need to seek clarity from Myers, not from me.

  173. says

    A. Noyd:

    Why are they leaving out the ongoing aftermath of Brown’s murder? Have they not heard of it?

    Oh, I think it’s worse than that. I think they simply don’t care. Hey, just another wrongful killing of a black kid, as one commenter said, with nary a clue to the fact that yes, Mike Brown and Ezell Ford are the latest victims in a long, long line of victims of deeply institutionalized racism and cops gone rogue.

    After all, it’s so much easier to write about how Robin Williams affected them, or why PZ is such an asshole. That way, there’s no need to pay attention to the atrocity of POC being gunned down in streets everywhere, there’s no need to let the fact that a whole police force went military rogue, and shut down a whole town. There’s no need to pay attention to incidents of police going rogue in other parts of the country, no need to pay attention to a media so blasé and apathetic that they thinks it’s perfectly okay to ignore a murder, cops gone military rogue, the shutting down of a town, and a media blackout for a few days so they can play carrion crows to the death of a celebrity. Yep, much easier to dump on PZ, I think.

  174. Brony says

    @ observer15

    As I write this I note that the Michael Brown shooting is again the top story on the CNN Web site. What constitutes the “top story” changes day to day and even hour to hour. I suspect that the top stories are chosen for their importance, interest, and for being breaking news. I also noted that the Michael Brown shooting was given extensive coverage last night on the CBS Evening News and that the story about Robin William’s death was saved for a minute or two at the end of the broadcast. I see no evidence that the Michael Brown shooting is in any sense being faded out, at least not at this time.

    Problems:
    *Your experience is anecdotal, imprecise and contains no way to determine if your idea of “extensive coverage”, or “faded out” matches what the people who are minimized experience.
    *There has been a historical minimization of these issues that is the main point the the piece. That remains and even if this new incident ends up being the first one to get more reasonable coverage, the assumption in PZ’s piece is reasonable.

    @ nich
    Good to know, though I will do some looking for myself at some point. It’s an interesting problem. The sense of loosing status, wealth and more may still feel quite similar no matter how far up the social ladder you are and what the distance you fall is. But despite the fact that dealing with emotional responses to one’s world is a general problem we need to deal with, the point that the people falling at the bottom are in far more dire straits and worth more social attention remains (as well as attention to group disparities among them).

  175. says

    evinm:

    Even the president spoke up about it.

    Yes, he did, a considerable length of time after he issued a statement about Williams. Y’know, I’m rather amazed that alone doesn’t get across to people that priorities in the U.S. are profoundly wrong and fucked up. Even after his tepid statement, nothing was actually done about the situation in Ferguson. Instead, you have Justice Isn’t Here Today.

    Last night, for a very short while, some of us were able to talk about institutionalized racism, every day racism, the unnecessary deaths of too many, the militarization of police forces, and the events unfolding in Ferguson, like people being gassed while they were in their own yards. Now, it’s gone back to people whining about PZ, and saying “look, there’s nothing wrong with the media, Mike Brown and Ferguson finally made top story! So, it’s all good!” Except it isn’t. All of you posting crap about the media being okay, and whining about PZ, your apathy shines through. Your lack of understanding and care shines through. Your deficient empathy shines through. You also think the stomp of boots, rumble of tanks, teargas, rubber bullets, big damn guns and real bullets can’t ever come marching to you. Because you don’t want to understand what happened yesterday. That day when a police force went rogue military and shut down a town is a day I thought I would not see. I didn’t think I’d live to see that happen, but I have. And what I have lived to see is fucking terrifying. It should scare the hell out of every single person in the U.S., regardless of class, colour, or location.

    That so many people see fit to whine about PZ or ramble on about Williams is fucking terrifying, too.

  176. Brony says

    @ thisblogisdumb

    Please don’t try to pull the pathetic trick of trying to make someone give you a source for something that is common knowledge at this point.

    You brought it up. You do your homework lazybones. I don’t accept assertions and nich’s point about relative wealth matters. If all that stuff you just said is true you tell me where you heard it so I can assess it for myself.

    There was no point made in the blog post about “proportionality of celebrity”. Perhaps you are delusional.

    That was a typo and should have said “coverage” instead of “celebrity”. My apologies.

    Again, Williams wasn’t wealthy.

    I’m not accepting assertions or your definition of wealthy at face value.

    …what basis are you coming from in stating that coverage of Michael Brown’s murder would make white wealthy Americans “uncomfortable”? There is no lack of coverage of Michael Brown’s death and white people of all different financial statuses are joining the chorus of people who are outraged by the apparent brutality and racism of the Ferguson police department.

    Because when terrible things are ignored for one group of people and not for another, there is a difference in power and status between them, and as a group the people with more power and status treat the other group like crap, it’s a reasonable conclusion. I have no idea how to assess your idea of “no lack of coverage” and given the way minority problems consistently get ignored I’m fine with the explanation that this neglect has multiple factors including media neglect. That some people are outraged about Ferguson does not detract from group-behavior issues that led to Ferguson.

    You are recycling the old “all white people are racist” or at least “all wealthy white people are racist” canard, and you don’t even have a good excuse for doing so.

    Bullshit. I made a claim about group behavior which speaks of proportions of behaviors in a group and did not say all white people are racist. White people as a group contain more racist behavior as a matter of proportion and this leaks into our institutions because of our greater power and status. If you can accurately describe what I am saying at some point I will take the rest of what you have to say seriously. If you can’t describe what I am saying seriously I’ll just poke at the rest of it for fun later.

  177. observer15 says

    @Brony #208

    “*Your experience is anecdotal, imprecise and contains no way to determine if your idea of “extensive coverage”, or “faded out” matches what the people who are minimized experience.”

    As is yours and PZ Myer’s assertions.

    “*There has been a historical minimization of these issues that is the main point the the piece.”

    I see nothing in the piece about historical minimization of issues.

  178. Brony says

    @ observer15
    From PZ’s piece.

    So people like Barack Obama need to be able to show their human side and connect with the real concerns of the American people by immediately issuing a safe, kind statement about Robin Williams, while navigating the dangerous shoals of police brutality and black oppression by avoiding them.

    A political example that references Obama’s political need to avoid too much attention on issues that some might be uncomfortable with. My bolded portion is the most specific part. Navigating while avoiding is how minimizing occurs.

  179. says

    Tashiliciously Shriked:

    I see the hair splitting bullshit brigade got their reinforcements

    Yeah, because we still can’t talk about Mike Brown, cops gone military rogue, Ezell Ford, or racism, because not as important as moaning about PZ or Williams. Christ. The fuckin’ country is crumbling right in front of us, but hey, who cares, right?

  180. nich says

    Brony@208:

    The sense of loosing status, wealth and more may still feel quite similar no matter how far up the social ladder you are and what the distance you fall is.

    I totally agree, and probably even moreso if you are already battling addiction and depression. I had actually written a caveat to my point conceding that but then got distracted. But the nitpicky details of his finances still doesn’t change the fact that the rest of the world still sees Robin Williams as a wealthy white male.

  181. Roberto Aguirre Maturana says

    As I said in another comment, the problem with PZ’s post is that it sounded a lot as if he was saying “I am the other hundreds of thousands of people who died today other than Robin f****** Williams”. That kind of comment is something you would expect to see in the blog of The Amazing Atheist or in a Thunderf00t video, not in this blog.

  182. Brony says

    @ observer15
    Repeated neglect of social issues by authority figures and media due to discomfort by people higher in the social ladder (and their supporters lower down that share group-characteristics) results in historical minimization.

  183. Al Dente says

    I see the “Robin Williams is dead, my life has no meaning now” folks are still whining because PZ apparently didn’t esteem their idol enough.

  184. groo says

    I need to say this to take a weight off my chest.

    What i’ve learned so far (very little) :

    There’s a cover up (damn you Robin). But somehow even in Europe we know about the brown kid killed by a cop. So, it’ s an incompetent conspiracy. Worse, it’s still all over the media ( unless you have bible belt KKK TV news).

    Dawkins is an insensitive man because he uses logic and ignores the pain of rape vitims with his rants. but somehow PZ can be insensitive with his rants, and thats OK, because he is logical and has greater points to be made by whatever means.

    Everytime some kid gets shot by the police i’ll remember robin williams. And will be distracted…

    You don’t know robin williams, so why are you so offended. So let’s not care about stragers anymore.

    Lets stop the LHC and Space Exploration and all laughter in the universe until we have social justice.

    Cry, and someone will say they love you and you’ll get lots of virtual hugs. But really, everyone is just sitting in front of a screen connected to an electronic highway. Some will problably go to some porn site after being angry with everybody ( hey, that’s cool).

    And Robin williams raised millions to the less fortunate people.

    Insult in 3, 2,1…

  185. anteprepro says

    Really? Trolls are now gonna take the tactic of saying Robin Williams wasn’t wealthy?

    Really?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/trialandheirs/2014/08/12/whats-next-for-robin-williams-family-and-estate/

    His Napa Valley mansion, which rests on 653 acres and is named Villa Sorriso (translated to the Villa of Smiles), has been on the market since April for $29.9 million. Williams also left behind a 6,500-square-foot waterfront home in Tiburon, California, valued at roughly $6 million. The two properties are subject to mortgages, according to public records, that totaled $7.25 million as of 2011. This means that Williams left behind real estate with equity of around $25 million, depending on what Villa Sorriso can command in a sale…. He was paid $165,000 per episode for his one season of The Crazy Ones

    Oh yes, he lost a ton of money in divorce. Yes, it also says he worse of financially than the previous year. And apparently he was near bankruptcy. But when you have that much in assets and make that much in income, you are wealthy. Undeniably wealthy. Incredibly fucking wealthy. Even more so since apparently pulling in a mere 2 million meant it was a BAD year for him.

    Don’t play the “he wasn’t wealthy” card. Just fucking don’t.

  186. Al Dente says

    anteprepro @221

    Even more so since apparently pulling in a mere 2 million meant it was a BAD year for him.

    Someone who makes more in a bad year than most people make in their lifetimes is wealthy.

  187. anteprepro says

    groo

    There’s a cover up (damn you Robin)….So, it’ s an incompetent conspiracy.

    No, PZ said nothing of a conspiracy or a cover up or anything resembling it. It is media laziness and bias, not conspiracy.

    Insult in 3, 2,1…

    Mark of someone knowingly trolling.

  188. observer15 says

    @ Brony #218
    Where in the piece does it mention repeated neglect by authority figures and the media?

    As for the president’s delay in making a statement on the Michael Brown shooting, it is perfectly understandable. When the POTUS speaks he represents the office of the presidency and he has to be careful about what he says. His statement about Robin Williams is not controversial, while the Michael Brown shooting is controversial. Even though we might both agree that Dorian Johnson seems like a credible witness, the facts in the case are still disputed and the president has to take that into account when making statements about it. Personally, I’m glad that the Federal authorities are looking into it.

  189. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As I said in another comment, the problem with PZ’s post is that it sounded a lot as if he was saying “I am the other hundreds of thousands of people who died today other than Robin f****** Williams”.

    Then you have a problem with reading comprehension and understanding. The whole post was about which was the real news story, the murder of an unarmed black teenager by a policeman, and the aftermath thereof which has included what amounts to police riot against the civilians they are supposed to serve and protect, or the death of a celebrity? And PZ’s answer was that the bigger news story was the unarmed teenager, and that the death of the celebrity should always not be the lead but should be dealt with after the hard news. But this simple concept is hard for some people to grasp.
    Excuse any tpyos, I’m posting from my iPad.

  190. anteprepro says

    Al Dente: Exactly. We are supposed to think Williams wasn’t rich because he had to downgrade his lifestyle. Because he lost an amount equal to the median annual income of 600 people in a divorce, and merely pulled in the annual income of 3 people for every episode of a TV show he did, over 22 episodes, for a sum of 66 times as much earned as the average person.

    Fuck, one episode for him was six times my annual wage if I had a GOOD year, and I am not particularly poor. For one and a half episodes, he could have bought the house my parents are selling that THEY couldn’t afford to keep. Or buy the one they are moving into three times.

    And I feel bad bringing that up, but the uncritical belief that rich people aren’t rich just because they are less rich than last year overlaps quite a bit with “celebrity culture” and media incompetence. It is just another nauseating yet bog standard part of American society.

  191. says

    falstaff:

    You’re an atheist Rush Limbaugh. Why don’t you take your white, wealthy ass to Ferguson to protest? You probably have some important conference to attend. By the way, how’s your murderer son, the one in the US Army?

    I need some evidence that PZ is in any way like Rush. The OP is about the fucked up priorities of the media in the US, who are more concerned about the death of a celebrity than they are for the ongoing civil rights violations of a minority group.

    ****

    thisblogisdumb @195:

    Robin Williams wasn’t a wealthy white man.

    Citation please.

    Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy. Robin Williams death was a tragedy. The media has covered both these tragedies and will continue to cover them in the days to come. There is still much to be revealed about the death of Michael Brown and the media is obligated to wait til more info comes to light before they can report much beyond what they already have.

    The death of Michael Brown is part of systemic racism in the United States. It’s a part of an ongoing system of discrimination and racism directed toward African Americans (yes, other ethnicities are affected by racism, but for the purposes of this post, I’m referring to the racism directed against black people in the US).
    The same cannot be said of Robin Williams.
    For all that RW’s death is tragic, it isn’t part of institutionalized racism and a pattern of police brutality directed at people of color, especially black folks in the US.
    Perspective buddy.

    There are a lot of people in this country and more than one person does typically die on the same day. Both Williams and Brown have received more coverage than most people get when they die.

    See, this is part of the problem. You think PZ is *just* talking about Michael Brown. He’s talking about Brown as a springboard to attempt to raise the consciousness of people like you. You and so many other people are failing to see that racism permeates American culture. You fail to see that black people are disenfranchised by the very government that is supposed to support them. They’re brutalized by the very law enforcement officers that should be protecting them. Their stories are largely ignored in the media, in preference of stories about white people.
    Should the media report on the death of Robin Williams?
    Yes, of course. That’s not in dispute.

    But they should also focus heavily on the ongoing problems of racism in the US. The death of Michael Brown is just one more example in a long list of examples of how black people are treated in the United States. And it got swept under the rug by the mainstream media, like so many other cases of dead black people. In this case, it was swept under the rug in favor of talking about the death of Robin Williams. Even then, the media isn’t-by and large-talking about the state of mental healthcare in the US, or discussing depression or suicide. They’re just telling us that Robin Williams died, and they’re reflecting on his life. They aren’t using it as a springboard to talk about issues that affect people.
    You’re mistaken if you think PZ is merely comparing the death of Michael Brown and Robin Williams. You’re not comprehending the deeper problem. And that’s part *of* the problem.
    I want more people to recognize the suffering of others. I want the media to focus more on the suffering of others.
    In this case, we’re largely talking about the suffering, oppression, and discrimination directed at African Americans, but the media, and society in general need to talk more about how all groups of marginalized people are treated. People need to be outraged. People need to know more. People need to motherfucking CARE more.

  192. groo says

    anteprepro
    Mark of someone knowingly trolling.

    No, I don’t Troll. I’m from Portugal. Ask PZ to search my IP and you’ll know i don’t troll. I don’t have infinite accounts .
    And Thaks for the insult. Just like i predicted. I thought it could be somenthing worse like sanctimonious something. Instead you wnt for the troll acusation. It’s frustating… but i won’t cry because i do’nt need virtual hugs,

  193. evinm says

    Inaji:

    I apologize for my wording on portions of my comment. In no way do I believe that the media is okay simply because they mentioned Mike Brown and Ferguson. I even said in my last post that the desire for ratings and so forth tend to distort and fuck up priorities. My main point on the issue was that there is no evidence for a conspiracy by the media to distract or suppress the event. The media went for the more easy to digest tragedy because it has a more mainstream appeal.

    This morning when I got on my Mac the Apple home page had a bit about Robin Williams. I certainly noticed there hasn’t been one for Ferguson or Mike Brown–which, like I also mentioned in my last post, will have a more devastating effect for the future lives and safety of minorities in America. However, we can still discuss the implications of Ferguson and should. This could have been a much better place to do so, but I feel PZ went about it poorly. To me, the post comes across as more about PZ than about the Ferguson tragedy. Again–as mentioned in my last post–having white male privilege, PZ seems to be more concerned about showing that he’s one of the good ones.

    I truly believe that PZ does care about the situation, but unfortunately it doesn’t come across that way to me. I think it would have been more effective to have discussed the topics of social injustice in this situation, than taking unnecessarily mean stabs at another tragedy.

  194. says

    morali0t:

    Regarding the coverage of Robin Williams. His death is newsworthy because he was an icon to many. He brought
    so much laughter and happiness to many throughout his long well noted career. Both Robin Williams death and
    the outrageous killing noted in your article deserve attention in their own right. The next time you have a beef with the media, I would
    suggest you compare apples to apples. Just be direct about the issue you have with them.

    So there’s no comparison to be made in how the media treats the death of a white person and how the media treats the death of a black person?
    There’s no comparison to be made in how the media prioritizes stories of celebrities over ongoing civil rights violations of a minority group that has been subjected to discrimination, oppression, and racism for, oh, the entire history of this country?

    ****

    Not only are all these irate people not comprehending PZ’s original post, a great many of them aren’t reading the comments. I know that many people don’t, but I really wish this would change. Other blogs across the net may not have indepth discussion of the original post, but this blog does. We’ve talked about the OP. We’ve dissected it. We’ve criticized it. Some people have offered valid criticisms of it. All of this has happened in the comments section, which, as I speak, is at 727 comments. All the stuff people are complaining about have been the topic of hundreds of comments. All the frustration that people are feeling has been talked about.
    People, read the comments. In some ways they are just as important, perhaps moreso, than the OP.

  195. says

    Anteprepro:

    Don’t play the “he wasn’t wealthy” card. Just fucking don’t.

    Already played in the other thread. I linked your comment @ 221. FFS, I wouldn’t see that kind of money in 10 lifetimes, so yeah, reads pretty damn wealthy to me. People get so damn stupid over celebs, I don’t understand it. I do easily understand if a death affects people deeply, and I understand the need to grieve. I don’t understand defending carrion crow media, and I sure as hell don’t understand why people are consistently refusing to talk about what the fuck is going on in this country in regard to the long line of dead POC at the hands of police.

    It’s frustrating as hell to see people insistent on going over and over and over what they hate about PZ’s post, obsessing on it and Williams, to the exclusion of human and civil rights going up in a cloud of teargas yesterday.

  196. Ichthyic says

    No, I don’t Troll. I’m from Portugal.

    Who knew that Portuguese inherently have anti trolling protocols embedded in their DNA?

    oh… wait.

  197. qwints says

    Tony! The Queer Shoop@227

    For all that RW’s death is tragic, it isn’t part of institutionalized racism and a pattern of police brutality directed at people of color, especially black folks in the US.
    Perspective buddy.

    This part, right here, is what’s wrong with the thinking PZ’s post and these comments. It’s one thing to point out that the media will look for any possible reason not to cover systemic violence against black people. It’s another to say that the death of someone who dealt with mental illness is less important than the death of a black kid murdered by police.

    “When the Illness You Live With Becomes Breaking News

  198. Ichthyic says

    To me, the post comes across

    re-read your OWN WORDS. Ever consider the problem really isn’t with PZ’s post? It’s with you?

  199. says

    evinm:

    I truly believe that PZ does care about the situation, but unfortunately it doesn’t come across that way to me. I think it would have been more effective to have discussed the topics of social injustice in this situation, than taking unnecessarily mean stabs at another tragedy.

    Why are you continuing to talk about PZ instead of talking about the deaths of POC at the hands of police? Why in the fuck aren’t you talking about what happened and is happening in Ferguson? What is wrong with you that you would rather obsess over PZ and Williams instead of talk about the implications of the increasing militarization of police forces and the appalling actions they have been taking all over the country? FFS, why aren’t you paying attention?

  200. says

    This part, right here, is what’s wrong with the thinking PZ’s post and these comments.

    Oh FFS, Qwints, did you even bother to read the 700+ comments before yours? Because you seem to have slipped right fucking by all the posts by people saying that the media had an opportunity, for all the days they covered little else than Williams, to direct a discussion about mental health care, mental health issues, and the stigmas attached to mental health. The media did not do that.

  201. says

    evinm:

    For what it’s worth, it seems to me that the ideals of capitalism got the better of this situation. The Williams story has more of a safe and mainstream appeal–more ratings and more money.

    That might be an element of it.
    But please don’t believe for a second that the media cares about the plight of minorities in this country*. Even the media outlets reporting on Brown’s death do so as if its an isolated incident.
    Where is the news coverage in the mainstream media (META: is MSM the mainstream media? I’ve seen people use the acronym before, and I suspect that’s what they mean) about the systematic abuse of police powers directed at African Americans? Where is the discussion of how the death of Mike Brown fits into the ongoing patterns of discrimination and bigotry directed at black people in the US? If it’s there, I haven’t seen it. I’d like to see it. A lot of it. These are peoples’ lives we’re talking about. These are people that are suffering, they’re penniless, or jobless, or imprisoned, or they’re being murdered. This is a crime of national proportions and it ought to be discussed as such. Their lives matter. They deserve to be happy and successful and should have the same opportunities as white people in the US.

    *While I’m referring to black people in this post, my mention of minorities also speaks to how other marginalized groups are treated. Where is the media outrage over the murders of trans people in the US? Their murders are not isolated either. They’re a part of systematic murderous, bigoted behavior.
    What about gay people, and the continued denial of our right to get married in the US by certain people on the political spectrum?
    I don’t want to distract from the OP, but I wanted to point out that the plight of African Americans in the US is but one of the many things the media sweeps under the rug.

  202. anteprepro says

    Inaji: I saw the link, thanks for taking interest and thanks for the heads up as well!

    People get so damn stupid over celebs, I don’t understand it. I do easily understand if a death affects people deeply, and I understand the need to grieve. I don’t understand defending carrion crow media, and I sure as hell don’t understand why people are consistently refusing to talk about what the fuck is going on in this country in regard to the long line of dead POC at the hands of police.

    This is very true. There is something….strange….about celebrity culture. I don’t quite understand it. And carrion crow media is a perfect description. They are outright ghoulish. It is hard to tell where genuine concern ends and cynical exploitation for ratings begins. But they really, REALLY do not give one lick of a concern for the bereaved and that is the most galling aspect of it all.

    As for the people of color and the police: I do not know WHY there is so little discussion of it. The media rarely criticizes police, in general, ever. The only time I hear people pointing out how police are disproportionately abusive towards and far more likely to be suspicious of and arrest black people is when I am watching Fake News, like The Daily Show or John Oliver’s new show. Or when I am reading liberal blogs. I honestly wonder if I would even know that that was the case if I only watched or read “unbiased” traditional media. It is fucking depressing.

  203. anteprepro says

    qwints :

    It’s another to say that the death of someone who dealt with mental illness is less important than the death of a black kid murdered by police.

    Except that’s not the point. The point wasn’t that it was less important. The point was that it isn’t MORE important. Because the proportion of media coverage gives the impression that it is MORE important. But it isn’t.

  204. says

    qwints:

    It’s another to say that the death of someone who dealt with mental illness is less important than the death of a black kid murdered by police.

    You didn’t read my comment the way it was intended. Let’s try this again.
    The death of Robin Williams is tragic. Yes. Anytime anyone commits suicide, it is tragic. Depression is horrifyingly common in the US and we need better mental healthcare in the US.
    The death of Mike Brown is a tragedy. It’s an example of police brutality.
    The latter is made worse because it’s not isolated. It is connected to a larger pattern of abuse, discrimination, bigotry, oppression, and disenfranchisement faced by an entire minority group.
    You’re missing the fact that Brown’s death is part of a larger pattern in the US. That’s what needs more coverage.
    Yes, more coverage for Brown’s murder-and a discussion of the problems of police brutality for instance-necessitates less discussion of Robin Williams’ death. But it doesn’t mean ignoring RW’s death. It just means giving more time to the plight of a minority group that is traditionally ignored by the media.

  205. says

    Inaji @214:

    Yeah, because we still can’t talk about Mike Brown, cops gone military rogue, Ezell Ford, or racism, because not as important as moaning about PZ or Williams. Christ. The fuckin’ country is crumbling right in front of us, but hey, who cares, right?

    Because it’s just black people.
    and gay people.
    and lesbians.
    and trans women and trans men.
    and hispanics.
    and asians.
    and the elderly.
    and Indians.
    and people with mental or physical disabilities.
    The country is crumbling around us and a great many people can’t seem arsed to give a flying fuck.
    When PZ *does* give a flying fuck, people berate him over and over and over again.
    This is fucking ridiculous. No, this is beyond ridiculous. It’s farcical.

  206. says

    Anteprepro:

    I honestly wonder if I would even know that that was the case if I only watched or read “unbiased” traditional media. It is fucking depressing.

    Yeah. That hit home for me yesterday, when I had to sign up on twitter, so I could follow Antonio French and others, to get actual news about what was happening in Ferguson. Twitter. I wish people would think about that, think about how if it weren’t for that outlet, there would be a whole lot of bad actions by cops being hidden. As Antonio French noted today, the more the media is pushed out, the more heavy-handed and violent police become. That’s a bit of a ‘duh’, but what’s of note is that most of the media didn’t give a shit about being pushed out, they were busy with eulogies, clips, and remembrances of Williams, and even worse, people at large didn’t, and don’t seem to give one wee damn about the blackout either.

  207. says

    Tony:

    This is fucking ridiculous. No, this is beyond ridiculous. It’s farcical.

    And fuckin’ scary, too. How many of these people being willfully blind would turn their head if we were gunned down in the street, shot in the back?

  208. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s another to say that the death of someone [of a celebrity] who dealt with mental illness is less important than the death of a black kid murdered by police.

    Nope, what PZ was saying is that any celebrity death, unless something spectacular, is more a private family matter than a public affair. Unlike an unarmed black teenager shot in public by a policeman who is supposed to be protecting the same black teenager, not shooting him. You are one stupid idjit, refusing to see the obvious, since it doesn’t match your presuppositions.

  209. says

    Roberto @216:

    As I said in another comment, the problem with PZ’s post is that it sounded a lot as if he was saying “I am the other hundreds of thousands of people who died today other than Robin f****** Williams”.

    But that’s not what he said.
    He was talking about how the media’s preference for Robin Williams drowned out the story of ongoing systematic abuses of police power directed at black Americans and he used the death of Mike Brown as the latest example.
    This isn’t *just* about the death of Mike Brown. It is that and it is so much more. That’s what PZ is pointing out. That’s what he’s wishing the media would focus a great deal more attention on.
    Robin Williams died? That is sad and tragic and horrible. He was suffering from depression, which is horrible (I’ve never been diagnosed, but I suspect that in the years following the death of my best friend, I was probably depressed). People committing suicide is horrible. The line PZ included about RW committing suicide is, as I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, in poor taste, even though I get why he included it. But that one point doesn’t change his overall message. A message that has been repeated continuously by people throughout this thread. If you can’t see that, I ask that you examine your biases.

  210. groo says

    Ichthyic

    13 August 2014 at 4:43 pm
    No, I don’t Troll. I’m from Portugal.
    Who knew that Portuguese inherently have anti trolling protocols embedded in their DNA?
    oh… wait.

    Yes, that’s right. No one from Portugal Trolls around. It may be cultural

  211. says

    qwints:
    Thank you.

    ****

    I’m going to copy/paste a response in the other thread I left to Daniel Schaeller, which is every bit as applicable here, as it is there:

    Daniel:
    You don’t see how American obsession with celebrity culture blinds people to ongoing atrocities and civil rights violations?
    You don’t see how many, many people care more about celebrities than the ongoing systematic oppression of minority groups?
    This problem of celebrity culture didn’t just crop up overnight. Myself, I’ve been wondering about it for years. Why does the media care so much about the royal wedding or the royal baby or the Kardashians? I find it odd to care so deeply about the intimate lives of people I will never meet like Kim Kardashian, but I accept that there are people out there that have different interests (big shock there). My problem is that the media is saturated with stories of celebrities to the detriment of stories that impact and affect millions of Americans.
    • Marriage equality is a topic that affects millions of Americans directly (and indirectly affects many more inasmuch as our allies care about and support us). Now I’m not saying the media doesn’t cover marriage equality stories, but what about the deeper message being sent about the denial of rights for lesbians and gays. Where is the discussion about what it means to deny queer people their rights? Shouldn’t *that* denial of basic rights warrant more time than the most recent time Lindsay Lohan was released from rehab?
    • There is ongoing brutalization of trans women and trans men across the country and the entire planet. When these stories are reported (which is rare in mainstream media), they’re treated as isolated stories. Where is the media discussion of the rights of trans women and trans men? Not just the murders (they need to tell these stories too, of course), but what these murders mean. How they affect a community. Where is the discussion of the right to self-determination of all human beings? Where is the discussion of why it’s a good idea to remember that cis women aren’t the only ones with uteruses?
    • Abortion rights. When they’re discussed in the media, where is the depth? Where is the mention that the right of women to have access to abortion is a right they all have? Where is the discussion that women, like men, have full bodily autonomy and have the right to make decisions about their bodies and no one has the right to infringe on that right? The abortion discussion in the media stops without digging deeper…without engaging the fundamental rights being denied women.
    • what about the separation of church and state? This is mentioned in the media from time to time, but where is the analysis behind it? Where is the attempt to educate the ignorant fools who don’t understand it? Where is the attempt to explain how vitally important it is to people who believe in gods and those that don’t?
    When the media discusses these issues, they often do not offer up an in-depth discussion. They skim the surface. There are human beings that are directly affected by each of these human rights denials. There are human beings who are suffering right now across the country and this entire planet. The discussion of human rights violations should not begin and end with one story. For all that it is extremely tragic that Mike Brown was murdered (and it is a huge tragedy), there is a deeper, and more profound story there. There is a story of racism. There is a story of institutionalized, systemic oppression of a minority group stretching back for centuries. There is a story of the hugely disproportionate incarceration rate of blacks compared to the rest of the population. There is so much more depth to the struggles of black people in the US. The dots are there. They are easily connected.
    Yet the media would rather focus on the lives of celebrities than connect the dots that would allow people to see how badly minorities are treated in the United States. Yes, they may think it’s about their viewers and it probably is. Yes, they may think its about money and it probably is. But it’s also about whom they value. It’s about which people they think are more newsworthy. It’s about their priorities.
    PZ’s two posts are pointing out that their priorities are fucked up, and people like you (whom I normally enjoy reading commments by) are missing the point time and time again. Please stop dodging and ducking the point. Let it hit you square in the noggin. Please, please, please GET IT.
    At this point, if it meant the lives of ONE person in this country would benefit from it, I would BEG people to get the point.

  212. says

    Roberto:

    It’s just that the PZ Myers who complained about the dead of a white wealthy man getting too much attention sounds so different from the PZ Myers that wrote that:

    Read deeper.
    It’s not about Robin Williams. Have you even read the two pages of this post? We’ve been over this over and over. It’s about the priorities of the media.
    Yes, PZ could have worded his post better. He included a line that was meant as sarcastic, but read to many people as insensitive.
    That aside, the rest of his post is not about Robin Williams. It is about how the media focuses on the death of a celebrity-yes a white celebrity-the the detriment of a situation involving the death of a black man, which is part of a pattern of systemic oppression and discrimination of black people in the United States. PZ is not denigrating Robin Williams, nor as some people think is he pulling his version of ‘Dear Muslima’.
    Please read the comments. Please read my comment @160.
    This country is permeated with racism. The latest incident in Ferguson is one more example of how differently black people are treated than white people. It’s another example of how the media shows preferential treatment to white people over black people. That’s wrong. That needs to be fixed. The media can discuss the death of Robin Williams, and PZ never argues they can’t. But they also need to pay attention to the outcry of minority groups in this country who are tired of being ignored.

  213. Island Adolescent says

    For fuck’s sake, do people really lose all reading comprehension when their “sacred cow” or whatever the hell you want to call them aren’t shown in a positive light coated with tons of sugar?

    PZ complained about MEDIA COVERAGE of the death of a white wealthy man completely overshadowing the current events happening in Ferguson.
    Whereas in the post you link to, Roberto, it’s the Amazing Asshole complaining that people cared “extra much” about the suicide of a bullied girl.

    PZ isn’t telling people to stop caring about RW’s suicide. He made a sarcasm-riddled post blasting the media and politicians for using RW as a scapegoat to avoid talking about larger more important issues.

    FUCKING READ.
    READ.

  214. Roberto Aguirre Maturana says

    “PZ complained about MEDIA COVERAGE of the death of a white wealthy man completely overshadowing the current events happening in Ferguson.
    Whereas in the post you link to, Roberto, it’s the Amazing Asshole complaining that people cared “extra much” about the suicide of a bullied girl.”

    Tomayto, tomahto. It’s still true that PZ is complaining that media cared “extra much” about the suicide of a white wealthy man. I don’t know if my reading comprehension is impaired, but that sounds to me as the same kind of evil rhetoric that PZ was objecting in the aforementioned link, and that PZ aptly characterized as “She was a well-off Western girl with plenty of privileges, so how dare we consider her story particularly tragic? There are so many other people who are worse off than she was!”.

  215. Thomas Hobbes says

    About “this white lady”: I visited her FB page and she’s not nice. She doesn’t even seem nice.

    Anyway, to everybody who has the same ides as she does but is nice (and uninformed) I’d recommend something like A Mission to Eradicate American Poverty:

    But now Margine and Robert were locked in. They lived in a neighborhood of unspeakable violence; everyone has a family member or close friend who’s been killed; many inner-city children simply don’t expect to live into adulthood. The school system was–is–chaos. I mentally went down the list of things that I believed everyone deserves–a loving parent, a decent education, a neighborhood relatively free of violence, decent housing. None of these had been available to Margine.

    So whose “fault” was this abuse of Robert? To blame Margine was to scapegoat the victim.

  216. says

    Roberto:

    Tomayto, tomahto. It’s still true that PZ is complaining that media cared “extra much” about the suicide of a white wealthy man.

    Well yes, there’s an element of that. I guess for PZ and others, they think that the systemic oppression and discrimination of, as well as pattern of police brutality directed at African Americans… denying them basic human rights is such a horrific crime-and ongoing crime-that is shouldn’t be overshadowed by the suicide of a celebrity.
    I agree.
    But again, he never said don’t pay attention to it. He admonished the media for caring more about a dead celebrity that ongoing civil and human rights violations which affect millions of Americans in a direct way every day.

  217. Island Adolescent says

    MEDIA COVERAGE and INDIVIDUAL SADNESS are not the same Roberto! For fuck’s sake!

    And Tony, I’ve just been keeping up with the situation via all the links and expressing my exasperation now and then. If anything it’s you that put time into making long and detailed posts with great and patient explanations.

    I don’t have it in me to go beyond several sentences because it’s just too rage-inducing.

  218. Krasnaya Koshka says

    “Tomayto, tomahto. It’s still true that PZ is complaining that media cared “extra much” about the suicide of a white wealthy man.” – Roberto

    That’s not even it. Roberto (you have the name of my favorite father figure of my youth, so I will be kind to you), the complaint was not enough time spent on real issues. It was not caring “extra much”, it was caring at the exclusion to.

    Media didn’t even care in the least when Michael Brown died. One in a long line of young black men killed needlessly by police, so I guess it was normal enough to be ignored. Ho-hum. The aftermath should have brought some attention to his needless death, but what it brought was a media-fucking-lockdown.

    When I first read P.Z.’s post, I thought, “What? Robin Williams killed himself? He was so sweet to the kids and people who asked him for his time at the Exploratorium in SF when I worked there. Oh, this is not about Robin Williams at all. It’s about how we ignore the endless violence against Black young men and women, and Black older people, and children. That’s so true.

    Then I thought, “I’m only just hearing about a military state in a small town because of this post?” That’s really scary to me. I would not have known about the lockdown and gassing and abuse without P.Z. posting this.

    More because of Carlie and Inaji and others keeping me up to speed (I’m an American not living in America since 2009).

  219. says

    I came here to get angry at PZ Myers, but his article made a lot of sense. What gives? The issues with systemic racism and the thuggery of police is far more important than the death of a celebrity. I liked the guy, but I haven’t read a single story about him since his death. Depression is an important issue to talk about, but shit is actually being done about it on a regular basis in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. What is really being done to hold racist homicidal cops accountable for their actions. When they murder an innocent man in cold blood do they ever go to jail? What will this guy get administrative leave? Or maybe they’ll fire him. Heaven forbid he should be tried under the same laws as everyone else.