17 impossible things before lunch

This is funny. There’s some kind of “group,” which in this case apparently means Twitter group, that calls itself ASH, for Atheism Secularism Humanism. There are real ASH groups in the UK; we’re familiar with the LSE, UCL and Reading Student Union branches, which do good work and get accused of “Islamophobia” for their pains. The Twitter group seems to be a different kind of thing.

One of their number, self-styled “capn atheist,” [aka Steve] wrote a post about abjuring all groupism and exclusivity.

Hey everyone!

By now you’ve probably noticed a big change in how ASH has changed.

From here on out, there is no actual group, or exclusivity. Anyone that supports the ideas of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism is welcome  to use a “Twibbon” to show their support for those ideas.

See the problem? Of course you do. The surprising thing would be not seeing it.

There is no group, no exclusivity, no filter. Anyone who supports X ideas is welcome.

That right there? That’s a contradiction. Flat out.

I think I know what captn’s mistake is. I think captn is thinking that the ideas captn likes and wants to base a group on are not a filter, not a source of exclusivity, not a criterion for being part of the group (despite actually spelling out that that is in fact the criterion for being part of the group), while ideas captn doesn’t like are a filter and a source of exclusivity.

Let’s see if that’s confirmed.

The change was spurned on by the entire debacle of the Atheism+/ BlockBot.

When a group forms like Atheism+ it can have a negative impact or a positive one.

The problem with any “group” is it’s exclusivity.  Not all people are included. The inherent problem with this has been demonstrated by the events of this past week, with the Atheism+BlockBot. This is a group that insists on it’s members adhering to a very stringent form of behavior.  Witnessing this has been a learning experience for myself and  many other people in the Atheist community on twitter.

Yes, that’s confirmed.

captn atheist seems not to realize that not all people are included in the ASH group either. Can I think of some people who aren’t included in the ASH group? Yes I can. Theists, theocrats, people who hate the values of humanism. Which is interesting, because some of those values are feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia and the like. Atheism+ values in short – the ones captn atheist opposes and considers “very stringent.” I think ASH should be calling itself AS instead; I don’t think it’s a humanist group. Atheism+, on the other hand, as many humanists have pointed out, is basically just another word for [atheist] humanism. How dare captn atheist hijack the word “humanism”!

It is because of this that ASH has now become what it really has always been, an affiliation of like minded people that support what the 3 letters of ASH stand for: Atheism Secularism and Humanism.

Can you explain how an affiliation of like-minded people can possibly not be exclusive? I certainly can’t. An affiliation of like-minded people is exclusive by definition – it excludes people who are not like-minded.

captn atheist wants to eat his cake and have it. He wants to add to the noisy chorus of people talking shit about Atheism+ while still keeping his own favored brand of groupism and exclusivity.

If you support the ideas that ASH represents you can chose to support them as you wish.

The ASH Twibbon has been created to allow all those interested in showing their support of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism, a means to show it on their Avatar. It’s important to make the distinction that the Twibbon supports ideas we share,  and not a group mentality.

Oh really? And how do they plan to do that? How do they plan to unite around ideas they share while avoiding any possible risk of “a group mentality”? How is it not in any way a symptom of a group mentality to have a “Twibbon” that shows support of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism?

Previously, ASH (the group) had guidelines. Those guidelines have been eliminated in favor of NO limitations on anyone’s natural individuality.

From here on out…ASH is about what those letters mean. Atheism Secularism and Humanism nothing more or less.

How is that not a set of  limitations on anyone’s natural individuality? Many people’s individuality is closely tied up with religion, so of course an atheist group entails limitations on anyone’s natural individuality.

It’s all a very blatant example of self-serving bias. MY limitations are good limitations therefore they’re not limitations at all; THEIR limitations are evil and bad, therefore they’re the most limiting limitations ever.

We are all individuals that share common interests. No “group” is needed, no “guidelines” are needed, the only thing that’s needed is your sincerity in helping to support these ideals.

That’s a limitation on my identity. What if I despise sincerity and love tricksterism, irony, performance, creative fantasy? And then, if we share common interests, then we don’t share non-common interests, so that’s another limitation on my identity, as is being asked to support these ideals at the price of different ideals.

You can’t have something and nothing at the same time. You can’t have a cause without having a cause. You can’t abjure one particular cause while embracing another and pretend that’s a rejection of all causes.


  1. Rational Feminist says

    The idea that some atheists are so paranoid about being part of a group is the most ridiculous thing I have ever witnessed. Libertarian to the core; stupid to the core.

    How will atheists ever accomplish anything if we are not allowed to gather together, adhere to similar values, and make an impact. So long as we insist on this level of individualism for the “community” we are DOOMED to be ineffective in our supposed goals as a “community.”

    But, the idea that some removed their shared values by taking their badge off was hilarious to see. They only had those values when they were convenient; so they aren’t really values. They were just faking it.

  2. says

    And, as if Libertarianism is itself not a group, not a commitment, not a set of ideas, not an ideology. (Look, it even has a capital L! How can it not be a group with an ideology?!)

  3. A. Noyd says

    “This is a group that insists on it’s members adhering to a very stringent form of behavior.”

    “Stringent”? Refraining from bigotry and harassment is “stringent”? Only if you’re a massively privileged and entitled jackass.

    “Those guidelines have been eliminated in favor of NO limitations on anyone’s natural individuality.”

    So, to translate: natural racists and natural misogynists and natural transphobes and natural homophobes and the like are free to naturally spout all their individual, natural hatred of people not naturally like them. And that won’t lead (as it inevitably does elsewhere) to the exclusion of those who are hated on because… uh… oh look, a bird!

  4. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “Up until atheists criticized his buddies for being bigoted pieces of shit, they DID have a bunch of rules. When it looked like those rules could make them look and feel superior to theists, the rules were AWESOME. When the rules were applied to them and they were found wanting they dumped their rules.”

    That sums it up pretty well! I am not sure what this “blockbot” controversy is, but saw something on Twitter
    from Matt Dillahunty saying: ” A+ was supposed to be a movement based on ideas. Pretending to be an official block list of that movement? Bad move.”

    What does that mean exactly? Did I miss something?

  5. says

    They are basically just slymepitters with a new label. Among those “rules and guidelines” that they presumably adhered to were “be respectful” in debates, “do not insult”, etc. Unfortunately, many of them found those rules to be too difficult to follow, including “capt’n” himself, because they wanted to harass and bully the blockbot admins. They tried a half-measure first, saying “badge off” before attacking people (i.e. “taking off my ASH badge”) and then “badge on” when they wanted to be self-congratulatory about their laudable rules/ideals, but after being roundly ridiculed for this, it now seems that even they have realized that it’s better to have no guiding principles than to write down a long list and then just ignore it.

    There is an upside to all this: they like to put “ASH:” as the first component of their twitter ‘nyms, which makes spotting and blocking them very quick and convenient.

  6. says

    “badge off”?? That’s hilarious! It sounds like the bit in the US version of The Office where Dwight “shunned” Andy and then kept unshunning him to say something then re-shunning once he’d said it. He used a wipe gesture in front of his face – wipe down while saying “unshun”; wipe up while saying “reshun.”

    Badge off! Badge on! Hifuckinglarious.

  7. says

    Well they already bullied @VitaBrevi off the Internet and come down like harpies on anyone daring to call them out. And I thought ASH was Atheist SuperHeroes…which is a better name seeing how drastically sexist the comic book scene is.
    Anyway, there’s a list of all ASH member on Twitter: https://t.co/nhlazebI6W
    Was a lot of clicking but I blocked each and every one of them.

  8. hjhornbeck says

    Crossposted from the “Captain”‘s (is he really a captain? I wonder):

    The problem with any “group” is it’s exclusivity.

    Is it a bad thing that Nobel prize winners are so exclusive? How about pharmacists, or athletes?

    No, if there are problems with a group it comes from the way they conduct themselves. When a group views any act as justified because it was done under their banner, it is a problem. When a group abandons its stated principles, it is a problem. When a group does not respect basic human rights to individual liberty, it is a problem.

    Many Atheists already support these things. They do so of their own accord, and on their own.

    Wait, if so many atheists already support those things, why do you feel it’s necessary to advertise your support of those things?

    This is a group that insists on it’s members adhering to a very stringent form of behavior.

    Do you have an example of this? I’ve identified as A+ since the beginning, and never had any strict rules imposed on me. From what I understand, it’s merely a label for anyone who is an atheist, and a feminist, and a humanist.

    Though to be honest, the “feminist” part is a bit redundant; when you look at the underlying premises, feminism is the end result of following humanist principles in an unjust world. So A+ can be better thought of as Atheism+Humanism.

    So even the new-improved ASH places greater “restraints” on people than A+. And yet you call the latter “stringent?”

  9. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Ya know, a while back at the Atheism+ forums, we had some people who thought it would be a swell idea to have an unsafe A+ forum. You see, they support the values of A+, they just didn’t want to ever be asked to consider how their words might read to people who aren’t them before posting. So they set up a forum, completely unmoderated and, within a couple weeks, to nobody’s surprise, it had basically become Slymepit Jr. It was a whole bunch of unabashedly sexist, racist, whatever-ist garbage along with a large helping of “boo fucking hoo, the fascist mods at the safe forums banned me just because I acted exactly like every other ignorant, misogynist fuck on the internet.”

    This ASH thing is the same shit. And I mean, seriously their argument is basically that being considerate of other people’s feelings is just too damn much to ask of people. Fuck them.

    Re: Dillahunty, he’s just moaning because he made an ass of himself at the A+ forums (eventually getting banned for sockpuppeting) by protesting the banning of a known (to A+ mods, not to him; Matt thought the person was being perfectly reasonable) and admitted troll to prove a point to some of the most repulsive people the Slymepit has to offer. He showed up under a pseudonym, acted just like every other pompous dudebro ever, got called down hard and fast for it, revealed himself to be Matt Fucking Dillahunty as if we were supposed to be mortified that we’d treated Matt Fucking Dillahunty like just another asshole who is expected to follow the rules, then spent a week or so whining about it on Youtube.

  10. says


    What does that mean exactly? Did I miss something?

    Matt was weighing in on the David Silverman kerfuffle and seems to have a beef about semantics. He’s not against the idea of blocking, or of the blockbot, he just doesn’t like it being called “The A+ BlockBot”. Considering that it was created by one of the A+ forum moderators, primarily for the use of people who self-identify with A+ in order to avoid their online harassers, I don’t really see why it’s a problem to call it that. It’s not like there is some nonprofit “Atheism+” group that goes around officially endorsing things; the movement as a whole is rather amorphous.

  11. says

    Whoa…they have formed a group called Atheist Superheroes and are rejecting the formation of groups in the atheist movement? And they’re mightily pissed off that another group calls themselves Atheism+?

    I fully support their right to do that. And to look like idiots.

    Whatever happened to the idea that logic & reason were important to atheists?

  12. theoreticalgrrrl says

    I’ve seen many debates between atheists like Hitchens and Harris and various religious men, and magically they are able to distinguish personal attacks with criticizing ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a debate where Harris calls his debating opponent an ugly promiscuous cunt or makes disparaging remarks about the person’s looks or age, or ever said his debating opponent should be kicked their privates in response to their idea that there is a God and evolution is false.

    For example, this debate: Sam Harris Vs David Wolpe at the American Jewish University

    This is how you do it.

  13. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Whatever happened to the idea that logic & reason were important to atheists?

    You see, being atheists, they are logical and reasonable. Therefor, everything they already believe is inherently logical and reasonable. Therefor, there is no need for them to examine anything they already believe. Hence, if someone challenges something they already believe that person is, by definition, peddling irrational dogma.

  14. says

    I had considered posting some tweets under the ASH tag that were very pro-feminist, just to see how they responded. Then I decided I didn’t need to risk my mental health that way.

  15. says

    My only exposure to ASH has been a few interactions on Twitter. I don’t recall seeing them doing much of anything that didn’t look like just SlymePitters trying to act like they had some gotcha moral high road. Even before they harassed @VitaBrevi and all that in the last week. I was surprised to hear it wasn’t just a SlymePit gang with some ‘bright’ idea in their heads.

  16. brianpansky says

    Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    He showed up under a pseudonym, acted just like every other pompous dudebro ever, got called down hard and fast for it, revealed himself to be Matt Fucking Dillahunty as if we were supposed to be mortified that we’d treated Matt Fucking Dillahunty like just another asshole who is expected to follow the rules, then spent a week or so whining about it on Youtube.

    hmm, i personally only watched one of the videos (it seemed introductory, like probably the first video if he did more)

    from that video i watched, it seemed that he agreed that being banned was perfectly fair, because of the rules.

    the only disagreement i saw him make was about a comment being deleted with no chance to copy it elsewhere or anything. that lack of preservation seemed to violate other rules? so matt was in agreement with rules in both cases i thought?

    the video i saw also seemed to me to have a nice positive view of the A+ forums, not disliking it…

  17. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @21 brianpansky

    He agreed that he had sockpuppeted and deserved the ban for that reason, yes. But he still argued that it was a good and noble thing for him to do; i.e. show up as a sock and use his first post to tell us how to run the place basically at the behest of some ‘Pitters via twitter who were goading him with claims that dissent is not allowed at the forums. He thought he could show up, pontificate about how we’d mishandled a situation he knew fuck all about and not get called down for it. His position was basically that he’d selflessly fallen on his sword to teach us a lesson which was basically the same lesson that JT Eberhard tried to teach Bria Crutchfield some weeks back.

  18. johnthedrunkard says

    One more reason to be glad I don’t use Twitter.

    Plus being an evil entitled privileged elitist who knows the difference between ‘spurred’ and ‘spurned.’

  19. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    What if I despise sincerity and love tricksterism, irony, performance, creative fantasy?

    I suspect you will fit in just fine with the rest of the people who are insincerely claiming to love sincerity and hate all that other stuff.

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