Everything they can to pin hateful labels

Another one, this time from Dan Arel: one Patheos blogger disagreeing with another Patheos blogger (Adam Lee, who dared to criticize Dawkins (and got called a liar by him as a reward).

Arel doesn’t use punctuation much so what he writes can be hard to follow. With that warning –

Much like Lee, I came to atheism on my own and Dawkins played a major role in my activism, but unlike Lee, I am not ditching Dawkins for simple disagreements.

Lee would most likely argue that these are not simple disagreements however as he seems to have joined the ranks of Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers in doing everything they can to pin hateful labels to Dawkins, instead of dissecting what he has said or simply realize that I cannot agree with everyone on every issue and that sometimes I will disagree with some of my favorite people.

I’m getting tired of this. It’s bullshit. I’m not “doing everything [I] can to pin hateful labels to Dawkins”; I’m taking issue – strongly – with the role Dawkins is playing in making hostility to women, and especially to feminist women, even more entrenched and pervasive among atheists than it already is. We have a right to do that. I’m tired of people treating it as blasphemy against The Heroes. It’s not blasphemy.

…now Dawkins is being criticized for standing up for Sam Harris who found himself in a bit of controversy surrounding a remark he made about atheism and critical thinking being more of a guy thing.

Harris’ remark carried some strong sexist implications, but before he even took to his blog to explain the comment, he was quickly labeled sexist and declared an enemy of women everywhere.

After his full explanation of his remarks, the same who accused him of being sexist continued to do so. Harris explanation did not do a whole lot to change what he said, but they did show, in my opinion that even if those remarks were sexist, and that Harris still needed to be corrected that he was not being sexist, he was just mistaken.

He was just mistaken, in a sexist way. Sure, he was just mistaken, and nothing terrible happened to him for being mistaken. I have a decent readership, but it’s bound to be a fraction of his; why is it so terrible that a blogger disputed his fatuous explanations for the sparseness of women at his talks?

Simply, simply yelling at someone claiming they are sexist is not the best way to influence someone’s way of thinking. Does anyone expect that Harris would just immediately say that he is wrong and everyone else must be right? Of course not. Yet this hostile name calling and finger pointing seemingly upset Dawkins who came to his friends defense, after all Harris and Dawkins are good friends I would assume that Dawkins does not find Harris to be sexist, and Dawkins took to Twitter to ask if bloggers could be faking outrage for clicks in which they get paid…

Yes he did, and that was a cheap and unworthy thing to ask. Blogging is not a way to get rich. I could make more money working at a Burger King a few hours a week; nobody blogs for the money. I write about what interests me, period. I did it for nine years without making any money at all, because I wanted to do it.

Dawkins is right, some bloggers do, does that mean that those like Benson or Myers did? No, and I do think Dawkins was wrong to insinuate they did without proper evidence.
After all, I am a blogger who is paid per click as well, so of course we pick stories people want to read, but it doesn’t mean we are faking our outrage over the topics.

No, we don’t. We really don’t. I don’t pick stories people want to read; I pick what interests me. By this time I know from experience that it will interest other people too, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do not choose stories based on trying to suss what other people will want to read.

Yet this is not sexism, Dawkins may be wrong about clickbating, but is that enough to justify disowning him? I wouldn’t think Lee would either, except other than the Dear Muslima letter Lee spends all his time focused on clickbaiting, except for a one line mention of Dawkins comment about drinking and rape, but Lee never expands on this, he just tells the reader Dawkins is wrong for mentioning clickbating and oh he said this about rape, but by taking no time to explain the context of the tweet, Lee only paints Dawkins in the negative light he is going for and continues to ask his friends why Dawkins is wrong about clickbaiting.



  1. says

    I’m sick Sick SICK!!!! of this BS context-erasing that the bootlicking pseudo-thinkers engage in every time their gods are criticized. Dawkins said things that are entirely worthy of criticism. People criticizing his statements aren’t hunting for excuses to attack him, or doing it for imaginary motives. And sure as hell, no one is “simply, simply yelling at someone claiming they are sexist” without any cause or specific words/deeds to point to, to justify the accusations.

    We’ve seen this for decades from the Xtian right-wing, and the defenders of Dawkins/Harris/etc. are engaging in the same rhetorical tricks. It is anything and everything to avoid directly addressing the issues that people bring up, because they ultimately have no defense against the criticism. Critics are all bad people, covering up their own sins, trying to make a profit, whatever they can claim to avoid dealing with the substance of that criticism. Because when it comes down to it. Dawkins and Harris are WRONG. Period, end of discussion. There’s no way anyone can twist their statements to make them anything less than terrible, so the only thing they have left is to attack/insult the critics.

  2. says

    I have defended Dawkins many times. I have bent over backwards to the point where many commenters at Pharyngula have accused me of pandering to the guy. He’s incredibly influential, and I don’t doubt that he’s going to have me blacklisted at events after this.

    So what do I gain? Where is the evidence that I’ve had some simmering dislike of the guy?

    The simple fact is that I’ve had enough of the atheist leadership lacking any kind of principled leadership, and Dawkins strained my tolerance one too many times with his casual sexism.

  3. Al Dente says

    Obviously Arel hasn’t read any of the criticisms of Dawkins (except for Adam Lee’s, which is dismissed for not being something or other Arel doesn’t explain well). Nope, not impressed with Arel’s hand-waving and tap-dancing.

  4. carlie says

    Simply, simply yelling at someone claiming they are sexist is not the best way to influence someone’s way of thinking.

    I am so sick, and so, so tired of this. Want to talk about lies and misinterpretations and misrepresentations and bending the truth and twisting words? That’s it, right there. Saying that all of the criticism is “simply yelling at someone”, “claiming they are sexist”. You, Adam, PZ, so many people have written so many hundreds of words carefully explaining exactly what is wrong with what they said, exactly where the logical faults lie, exactly what cultural influences lead them to believe it, exactly how to turn it around, and yet it gets called “yelling” and “crying sexist”. That is a lie. That is the misrepresentation. That is the twisted interpretation. That right there.

  5. John Wasson says

    Good analysis by Rebecca Solnit (Harper’s, Oct. 2014, p. 4ff) of, among other things, the strategies when a woman impugns a man, particularly a powerful one, using “concentric circles of silence”. And the assertion “men are not possessed of special veracity”.

  6. georgebean says

    So what snapped Dan Arel’s last nerve was Lee’s attack of Dawkin’s defense of Harris in the aftermath of his “estrogen vibe” crapparrhea?
    Seriously? Harris? And for that matter, Dawkins?

    For cryssakes, neither one of them have been exactly been shy or sparing in the crapparrhea-blabbidy blab-blab department. There are literally scores of atheist authors, bloggers, podcasters and youtubers I’ve followed over the years who wrote them off and pinned them both to the A–hole Wall long ago.

    I admit I’m maybe not the best judge since I’ve been an atheist forever, ,,,, srsly,,, forever—far longer than I’ve been an empiricist–but I don’t get why movement atheism gravitates to either one of them. It’s as if their popularity comes from those who want to kick the Sky-Daddy out of the tent but want to keep half the bad shit and stubborn-headed stupidity said and done on his behalf that gave religion inside the tent such a bad taste to begin with.

    In other words, the Dawkins/Harris Devotional Movement, which apparently is also known as the “atheist movement”, has either never much impressed or has been pissing off and embarrassing many if not most of the broader universe of atheists for years. Those trying to defend the idiotic things they say to protect the “movement” don’t get it–this cloistered guru focus renders “movement atheism” little more than epistemological playacting to begin with.

  7. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Regarding Harris:

    so… his remarks were sexist. But we were assholes to bring that up before giving him a chance to explain these sexist remarks (which he wouldn’t know he had to explain had there been no criticism).

    When he gave an explanation of these remarks, which was no less sexist, we completely absolutely unfairly continued to criticize him. Even though he explained. With more sexism, but well, he explained. Right?

    Anyway, Harris’ remarks which were as (or more) sexist as the initial ones actually somehow show he said something sexist but he’s obviously not sexist because…. um. Because.


    That makes so much sense. Right? Right.

  8. Morgan says

    After his full explanation of his remarks, the same who accused him of being sexist continued to do so.

    This, and Nugent too – it’s like it’s supposed to go without saying that of course what’s really meant is never anything sexist, and so once the real meaning is explained the only proper thing to do is nod and smile and agree everything’s okay. Even if the “explanation” amounts to doubling down on exactly what people were objecting to in the first place, and adding more on top of that. It’s never: X says something thoughtlessly sexist, is called on it, responds with an explanation that assumes he was misread and which reveals further sexist thinking, continues to dig deeper while readers quickly move from “he said a sexist thing” to “he has deep-rooted, unexamined, sexist views and is resistant to learning”. No – it’s always: X says something innocuous, outrage junkies leap to misinterpret it, X patiently clarifies the correct interpretation, outrage junkies persist in their misinterpretation because they’ve demonized X and are blinded by their incoherent hatred. Sure. Very plausible.

  9. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    This business of having kittens over the fact that some people are criticizing almighty Richard Fucking Dawkins is bad enough. But to accuse PZ of doing everything he can to pin hateful labels on Dawkins is just beyond. Like PZ said, he’s been defending the man to the point that some of us at Pharyngula, myself included, had become more than a little exasperated with it. Then PZ finally decides enough is enough after literally years worth of giving him 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 42nd, 124th, etc. chances to redeem himself and just like that he’s just patently out to get Dawkins and always has been. And this completely ignoring the fact that, from Dawkins end, PZ has become The Blogger Who Shall Not Be Named Lest I Inadvertently Feed His Outrage Craving as if that is in any way based in anything remotely resembling reality. I am so far past disgusted right now I don’t even have words for it.

  10. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Well, to be fair, I did make labels reading “Hello, I’m a Big Poopyhead” and went around trying to pin them on prominent thought leaders.


  11. smhll says

    I’m sick Sick SICK!!!! of this BS context-erasing that the bootlicking pseudo-thinkers engage in every time their gods are criticized.

    That’s understandable. Sometimes people come into the argument near the tail end. They may not have been following all the feminism/sexism threads for the last three years. (And they may be lazy about clicking through the links and reading the whole pieces by Adam Lee and Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers.)

    I have been following those threads for three years now (I think), and I remember Stephanie Zvan’s excellent piece on Elisions.

    Still, it’s not until now, with seeing allegations that Dawkins tried to hush up the accusations about Shermer and the really damning things Randi said in the Buzzfeed article, that I see a big wheel of interconnecting spokes that fits together as a whole. (And I was believing all the reports of the women the whole time and still I wasn’t zoomed out enough to see the whole picture.)

    And it’s easy for many atheists to spend only 5% of the time reading this stuff online that I do. I’m fascinated and spend a ridiculous amount of hours most weeks reading long threads. Not everybody reads that much.

    (People who read the headline and not the article or the comments and still dump out their ‘thoughtful’ opinions do deserve scorn.)

  12. says

    but before he even took to his blog to explain the comment, he was quickly labeled sexist and declared an enemy of women everywhere.

    As if Harris would ever feel the need to “explain” his comment if he’s not been called out on this. What a bullshit.

  13. says

    From the linked Patheos blog:

    Yet this hostile name calling and finger pointing seemingly upset Dawkins who came to his friends defense,

    That would be the same Dawkins who had said something about people shouldn’t get so emotional?

  14. says

    My favorite thing about this is this repeated accusation that none of the critics are dealing with what Dawkins & Harris actually said, but instead are just labeling them “sexist.” I have to wonder what articles these people are reading, because every single one I’ve seen has dealt with the specific statements from Dawkins & Harris, and why those statements are sexist. People have called both sexist, but that’s because they’re able to recognize patterns of behavior. This is hardly the first time that Dawkins has said problematic things about women; I’m less familiar with Harris, but his response to accusations of sexism was to repeat the sexist statement with more words and no more justification. How many sexist statements does a person have to make and double-down on before you’re justified in saying “that guy’s pretty sexist”?

    They’re committing the common mistake of thinking that calling a statement or action sexist is calling the person who committed it sexist, and then they’re accusing the critics of making that mistake instead of them. One would think that atheists would be better able to distinguish between attacking statements and attacking people, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

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