Michael wants me to respond to his post without the sarcastic paraphrasing. Fair enough. I can at least try, although it’s a very long and winding post, which does make it difficult. This won’t be complete, therefore, but it will be something.
I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.
That’s not a good shorthand. There are a lot of bloggers on this network, and many of them don’t write about disputes within Anglophone atheism and secularism at all. It’s not fair to them to keep using the name of the network as a “shorthand,” especially when so many people use it not as a shorthand but as a code for “what we all hate.” I think Michael was hinting at that himself, frankly.
Some of these more mainstream media analyses imply that there is a single ‘atheist movement’, and that it is best analysed through some opinions of some mostly American bloggers and activists who, while committed and sincere and doing good work, are not representative of atheist activism worldwide.
There’s a whiff of xenophobia there. The claim isn’t really true, and it’s a little bit creepy.
In the last year or so, he has publicly accused Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children…
On the basis of things RD wrote, no? I myself think Richard Dawkins has been displaying a callous indifference to the sexual harassment of women lately, because of things he’s said on Twitter. I’ve replied to Richard directly, and I’ve also blogged about what he’s been saying. I think people who have large influence and visibility have a particular responsibility to be fair and reasonable in what they say about such things.
Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes…
What are people supposed to do then? Keep the secrets forever? Never make any public warnings about guys who get handsy or ply women with alcohol in hopes of scoring? Just shut up, always, no matter what?
Item, the penultimate paragraph.
I believe that we should robustly question the ideas and behaviour of people who are, or who are perceived to be, authority figures in our own spheres of activity. I also believe that everyone, on various sides of these disagreements, should reconsider what I describe as the ethos of “You must be more compassionate, you fuckbrained asshole!”
Probably a good suggestion.
Updating to add, at Michael’s request –
There’s probably much in the post that I agree with. I skimmed much of it, and I probably agree with the skimmed part. I certainly agree that the Atheist Alliance International is a great thing. One of the many rewards of the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference in Dublin last summer was meeting and talking to Carlos Diaz.