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The “Atheist Missionary” came back, to do two more pointless tweets at me, because that works so well. His tweets went so:

Your “bend a knee” comment suggests @michaelshermer somehow bows to popular figures in freethought movement or …

…it suggests that @michaelshermer expects you to bow to him. Both suggestions are BS, IMHO.

That’s why it’s stupid to try to have complicated arguments on Twitter. Another reason is that he left as soon as he fired those shots. There are so many reasons it’s stupid to try to have complicated arguments on Twitter.

I told him

No it doesn’t. It’s in direct response to his claim about “our most prominent leaders.”

 But it was futile, because no reply. Why do people do this?

Anyway, to repeat – what I said was in direct reponse to what Shermer said.

Shermer however genuinely does seem to think that “prominence” should confer immunity to challenge. After he mentions the putative purge of “such prominent advocates as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris” he says that “I have stayed out of this witch hunt against our most prominent leaders.” Our what? Whose “leaders”? I don’t recall joining any army, or even a party. I don’t consider Dawkins and Harris my “leaders”; I don’t consider anyone that.

No, I’m sorry, that won’t do. I’m not going to bend the knee to “our most prominent leaders” and I’m not going to refrain from criticizing them and go looking for less prominent people to dispute. On the contrary: the prominence itself is a reason to dispute a bit of thoughtless sexism. The honcho dudes are influential, so it’s all the more unfortunate if they’re recycling dopy sexist stereotypes.

What I said there suggests neither that Shermer “bows to popular figures in freethought movement” nor that he expects me to bow to him. What it suggests, if you’re paying attention to the words on the page, is that Shermer thinks it’s out of bounds to criticize things that “our most prominent leaders” – his words, not mine – say. My refusal to bend the knee is (surely obviously) a repudiation of the demand for deference implicit in what Shermer said. It’s not that difficult to grasp.


  1. Scart Lead, Sniffer of Stardust says

    Instead of obsessing over Michael Shermer (your article count outweighs his by a massive margin), why don’t you comment on Pharyngula’s bullying of EllenBeth Wachs?

    Has the order come down from the FTB Stazi to keep mum?

  2. says

    Scart Lead @2:

    …Pharyngula’s bullying of EllenBeth Wachs…

    Are they following her around, harassing her? A heated argument which ends with an apology doesn’t seem like bullying. Of course, this should probably be discussed in a slightly more relevant thread.

  3. says

    Oh I don’t know, Dave W, what I belatedly saw of that clusterfuck looked like bullying to me, even though it didn’t include following her around to harass her (which is more than can be said of “Scart Lead” who is obviously following me around to harass me).

  4. Anthony K says

    Has the order come down from the FTB Stazi to keep mum?

    That’s pretty much the premise of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Ben Stein’s following is bigger than I thought.

  5. says

    Blarf, I just read some of the relevant comments on that thread. What a mess.

    As Chris Clarke pointed out…

    For all that the misogynists decry Deep Rifts, they’re awfully good at creating them — and the vultures are now circling, telling EllenBeth on Twitter that despite their “ribbing” they’ve always been nicer to her than we just were. She’s too smart for that shit, thankfully. But it’s an interesting glimpse into their M.O.

    “Scart Lead” fits the pattern to a T.

  6. hjhornbeck says

    Pro tip: Don’t go onto a discussion of topic X and complain that people aren’t talking about something unrelated to X. All it does is prove you’re a self-centred asshole.

    The more you know…

    [… wait, what was this thread about again? DAMMIT!]

  7. says

    @humidpress was right in there saying how horrible all the #FTBullies are and he at least apologised for calling her a racist drunk paedophile! So that makes it all right then, maybe they rely on Stockholm syndrome to recruit people…

    I thought Chris Clarkes comment was spot on as well. I also think Ellen is an unlikely new addition to the pit – they are so desperate for validation that they are clearly yearning for her to cross over. This is after their campaign against her – stoked up by ERV. Why is she now any better than she was before? Just get a kicking from a few of the Pharyngulites and you are forgiven in their eyes.

  8. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Has the order come down from the FTB Stazi to keep mum?

    Aren’t you the most clever and factual of Slymies.

    It is because of these orders that I (belatedly) told people to back off about the misinformation they were saying about EllenBeth. It was because of this order that I did not try to explain exactly what happened in that thrread. It was because of this order that SallyStrange, Chris Clarke, Aratina Cage, Official Spokesgay, Stacy and others were not trying to calm things down.

    But, hey. You Slymies have a new narrative. That FtBullies were even more mean to one of their own then you lot of stalkers, liars and harassers.

    Go Team Slymie!

  9. says

    Sorry for continuing the derail, but there isn’t much more to say about “The Atheist Missionary” as he was covered pretty comprehensively by comments #1 and #3 ….

  10. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Also, does anyone know how EllenBeth Wachs is doing. Understandable, she was very shaken up by what happened at Pharyngula. And at least one member of both the pit and AVfM, AstroKidNJ, was tweeting at her about that.

    And this was not the first Slymie scat dropping on FtB about the “official silence” about EllenBeth Wachs.

  11. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    (Realizes that I am extremely off topic. I am sorry. My only excuse is that I am still rather upset about what happened to EllenBeth. I will stop now. Sorry)

  12. hjhornbeck says

    Benson @8:

    I’ve noticed that too.

    Pitter 1: Hey, you’re feeling pretty emotional right now, so why don’t you come vent over at the ‘Pit? We’ll praise you and say nice things about you, and never censor what you say. You’ll feel better!

    Person: Ooo, that’s tempting…. oh hey, you over there, don’t use “cunt” that way.


    I remember when the ‘pitters used to say “hey, come join us!” when posting elsewhere, but that now seems to be a rarity. I think they’ve subconsciously realized that most people run screaming from the place once they catch a glimpse of it, and the exceptions are those that bear a grudge. Recruiting people when they’re pissed off is more likely to net a new member, while recruiting those that don’t is more likely to create an opponent.


  13. hjhornbeck says

    Er, that should read “recruiting those who aren’t” instead of “recruiting those who don’t.”

    And now I’m derailing a derail, which itself is derailing a derail of a derail, and by pointing [explodes]

  14. says

    Ophelia Benson @6: I guess I don’t know, either. Of course, it’s not like it’s a purely binary thing, anyway. I mean, there may have been bullies in that thread (like maybe the person who declared herself to be an “enemy” of EllenBeth Wachs), and once-bullies (like maybe the person who apologized), and also just plain not-bullies.

  15. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    “Thou shalt commit false equivalence” – the first commandment of the Slymepit. To try and compare their co-ordinated, long-term harassment via blogs, facebook, YouTube and Twitter to a heated argument at Pharyngula is desperately dishonest, even for the scumhole creepers.

  16. Brian Engler says

    “… if you’re paying attention to the words on the page …”
    And yet that’s something these provacateurs never do.
    I tend to ignore the ignorant.

  17. says

    Ignoring is a wise policy. I have a morbid fascination though.

    Still – the Missionary came back and aplogized. That’s a rarity! So that’s one quarrel that’s over.

  18. Stacy says

    your article count outweighs his by a massive margin

    Actually, Shermer used a lot more words than Ophelia did. But I know how much you Pittiful ones hate pesky inconvenient facts.

  19. Simon says

    I usually don’t have time to read much of the comment threads, so my apologies if this has already been pointed out:

    Does anybody else remember this: ?

    Shermer seemed to have no trouble accepting back in 2006 “Harvard scientists” suggesting that we ALL have unconscious, culturally formed, predujices – including sexist ones. His results on the test they’d developed indicated that he, personally, had “a strong automatic preference for European American compared to African American.” He also had no trouble stating publicly that Michael Richards (Kramer) was “unconsciously and privately” a racist, though probably not “consciously and publicly”.

    Yet when Ophelia points out that something he said is an example of unconscious bias he totally loses it. Has something happened since then to change his mind? Does he now realise that this actually effects everyone EXCEPT him? Would he have reacted differently if Ophelia were a Harvard scientist? Does he feel ‘leaders’ such as himself should not be criticized, even when that criticism is accurate? Is he just a dick? …

    One wonders.

  20. says

    Oh, man – no, that hasn’t been pointed out, and is it interesting or what. Thank you for doing the pointing out.

    How sad that he didn’t just say that. It was part of my point, after all – that these stereotypes exist, and because they exist, they get endlessly circulated and reenforced. He was doing his little bit of circulating and reenforcing but he was also just the recipient of other people’s circulating and reenforcing. He could have simply said that – instead of treating it like a crime to criticize a bit of circulating and reenforcing simply because it came from him.

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