Guest post: The motto draped above the Dudebro Defense League crest

Originally a comment by Tom Foss on If only you’d said it more sweetly.

Wait. I thought atheist dudebros were super-rational and only care about things by order of magnitude of objective mattering, while SJWs and feminazis are all hyper-reactionary people who want their subjective feelings of offense enforced by totalitarian law. But now Dawkins is so offended by mild snark that he doubles down even on things he’s admitted being wrong about, while SJWs are irrationally failing to consider feelings when they think a preeminent science popularizer with a reputation for being a blunt firebrand could see past harsh language to the actual arguments and evidence?

Oh right, I forgot the motto draped above the Dudebro Defense League crest: “The only thing better than a standard is a double-standard.”

@Anthony K:

Besides, “Ur doin it rong” has always been Hemant’s shtick, hasn’t it? Wasn’t he on that side in the accommodationist wars?

I think Hemant played center field on that one. IIRC, he later did a “not so friendly anymore” post where he announced a change in tactics, or somesuch, that was pretty firebrand-friendly. If anything, Hemant’s always been the “the answer’s in the middle somewhere” guy, and late to the game on everything else, but his continued harboring/promotion of libertarian/conservative bigot/asshole Terry Firma doesn’t do much to endear him these days, nor do his blundering forays into the Deep Rifts.

As to the Accommodationist Wars, it’s continuously interesting to me to see that the battle lines are largely the same now as they were then, except the one side that used to be all “we need to be nice and hide the atheists so we can attract and accommodate religious skeptics” is now “fuck SJWs and minorities, if you can’t take the slurs, stay out of the bigot kitchen!” The only major shifts have been Abbie Smith and Jerry Coyne, and arguably Phil Plait, and I only really remember Jerry being involved toward the end of the conflict. In a way that is, perhaps, largely unsurprising, it seems that the Accommodationists were less concerned about making religious believers more comfortable and more about opposing whatever PZ and Ophelia said.


  1. Anne C. Hanna says

    And, hell, Dawkins himself was sort of an anti-accommodationist, wasn’t he, not to mention Harris? I’m not sure about this thing about the battle lines being the same.

    My analysis would’ve been that the pro/anti-harassment split was more of a split *within* the anti-accommodationist camp between those who think that being assertively atheist means it’s okay to be a harassing asshole and those who don’t, and then the pro-accommodationists were correspondingly split over whether it was more important to try to appease the harassing assholes (just like it’s supposedly important for atheists to try to appease the religious) or whether it’s more important to condemn the harassment (because harassment is uncivil, just like aggressive atheism).

    And then once people picked one side or the other, certain prior commitments (like a supposed commitment to civility by the pro-harassment nee pro-accommodationist folks) were often abandoned, whether due to tribalism or simple restructuring of priorities.

    But *shrug*. Who knows.

  2. Anne C. Hanna says

    (Oh, and then, of course, there were the pro-accommodationism people who picked the pro-harassment side *because* of tribalism — they already hated one or more FTB/Skepchick people, or the whole concept of FTB and Skepchick, or whatevz, and it was just another excuse to go after them. So I guess I should say, “It’s complicated”. Some of the battle lines are the same and some are not.)

  3. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    They are fools to think about emotion the way they do. I suspect that pretending that emotion does not target and determine your every action, comprehension, and recollection is a really efficient way to destroy yourself. It’s basically choosing not to pay attention to why you do what you do.

    If you do not actively monitor,comprehend, shape and maintain the sensations that shape your behavior, who or what is?

  4. says

    @Blake Stacy: I couldn’t remember where Blackford fell in the whole arrangement, but that sounds right.

    @Anne C. Hanna: The only reason I wouldn’t mention Mooney, Dawkins, and Harris is from my memory of how things worked out during The First Great Rifts. While Mooney was front and center there, I haven’t seen much from him in the feminism kerfuffle, though you’re right that he and Kirshenbaum have had good things to say on the occasions when they’ve weighed in. Similarly, while Dawkins and Harris were off being Firebrand Examples #1 & 2, I don’t remember them participating a whole lot in the internecine blog battles, or even knowing that they were really going on. The rise of social media, especially Twitter, and the changing character of the atheoskeptical movement in the intervening years have caused them to weigh in a whole lot more on the social justice issue this time around, for all the good and bad that entails.

    @Ibis3: Oof, yeah, forgot about that. I wish I understood Hemant’s impulse to serve as the clearinghouse for atheists with poorly-supported conservative social views. We recognize the perniciousness of false balance when it comes to climate change and evolution, why not medicine and sociology?

  5. Anne C. Hanna says

    Tom Foss @7, I agree with your point about certain people being more or less active in the blogospheric component of various stages of the Deep Rifting process. But I think it’s still important to keep in mind that, in terms of where people’s stated (if not always actively or blogospherically promulgated) preferences lie, this isn’t as simple as pro-accommodationism = pro-harassment. And Abbie Smith transitioning from anti-accommodationism to pro-harassment isn’t a small matter either, because I think it could reasonably be argued that her “Kyle’s Mom” and “Periodic Table of Swearing” threads were really where pro-harassment became a “side” as opposed to simply scattered assholes being assholes. Those threads were, after all, the original slimepit.

    Moreover, the original pro-harassment arguments were presented as being simply a natural extension of the anti-accommodationist position, and a goodly chunk of pro-harassment people still see them that way: the atheist movement is an intellectually tough place, and we like it that way; if you can’t handle aggressive criticism, it’s a sign that your position isn’t defensible; we don’t abide by arbitrary taboos against frank discussion of sex, or against using naughty words; it’s important to *challenge* repressive dogmas, and you don’t do that by treating them with unwarranted respect; we need to shake the tyrannical majority’s sense of smug superiority, not coddle it. And so forth.

    So it still seems to me that this *started* as a split in the anti-accommodationist side, and that this superficial similarity in the arguments (combined with a steadfast refusal to do any kind of privilege-checking whatsoever) explains many of the people who took the anti-accommodationist-to-pro-harassment route. I do think the phenomenon you’re describing of the pro-accommodationist and pro-harassment side sharing a surprising number of members is a real thing, though, and I agree that a lot of that seems to be driven by FTB/Skepchick hatred rather than any kind of consistent intellectual commitment. It’s just that I’d argue that the pro-accommodationist-to-pro-harassment people were more opportunistic pilers-on than the originators of pro-harassment. They already hated FTB/Skepchick for unrelated reasons, and this was just another excuse to rail against them.

    On the other hand, I think stances like Nugent’s and Mehta’s are actually pretty close to being in the spirit of the original accommodationist position, even though, like you, I don’t recall either of them being active pro-accommodationists. It’s like, “Oh, you’re making a lot of angry noises because you’re being treated like shit? Well, your angry noises are grating to listen to so I’m not going to treat your complaints seriously unless you’re willing to have a lengthy, agonizing, tedious, go-nowhere sit-down discussion with the assholes who are treating you like shit, over the *completely abstract* academic question of whether you should have the basic human rights the assholes take for granted for themselves.” So that’s another point of commonality between the pro-harassment and pro-accommodationist sides. But I don’t think it’s the fundamental organizing principle of pro-harassment. It’s more of an enabling stance, just as accommodationist atheism is an enabling stance for abuses motivated by religion

  6. Ichthyic says

    Blake Stacey says

    November 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    The only major shifts have been Abbie Smith and Jerry Coyne, and arguably Phil Plait,

    Russell Blackford too.

    Anne C. Hanna says

    November 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    And, credit where credit’s due, Chris Mooney is on the right side of this one.

    er, what?

    let me correct some errors here, as I followed and participated in the accomodationist wars *ahem* religiously.

    Jerry is firmly ANTI accomodationist, always was, and still is, and made very compelling arguments for that position, as well as doing a good job documenting the entire debate history of the topic (can post the link to his summaries if you want).

    Chris was ALWAYS a mealy-mouthed accomodationist, did a piss-poor job of rationalizing his position, even to the point of using fake posts to try and justify his position. He’s a clown, and is most assuredly on the WRONG side of this debate.

    the others, frankly, are irrelevant. Abbie because she CHOSE to make herself irrelevant on this issue, and Blackford never was relevant to begin with, to basically anything, and still isn’t.

    that leaves Phil, who at least articulates his argument better, but also vacillates between the two positions. If “Don’t be a Dick” was his strongest pro-accomodationist speech, then I’d put him in the anti-accomodationist camp.

    there. hope that clears things up.

  7. Ichthyic says

    Dawkins himself was sort of an anti-accommodationist,

    not sort of, in fact an extreme anti accomodationist. still is.

    his wankery and privilege flag waving of late hasn’t changed his stance on that, at least.

  8. Anne C. Hanna says

    Ichthyic, are you saying that Chris Mooney is pro-harassment? If so, how do you figure? And how do you explain the fact that he joined Indre Viskontas, and Adam Isaak in leaving CFI’s Point of Inquiry podcast over Ron Lindsay’s asshole comments on the harassment issue? I’m not going to claim he’s been otherwise particularly vocal on harassment (because I don’t think he has), and he certainly was an ass during the accommodation wars. (I haven’t forgotten — that’s why I said “credit where credit’s due”.) But he did the right thing in the case of the podcast, probably at some significant cost to himself, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

  9. says

    I think that’s some pretty good analysis by Anne C. Hanna. Seems to fit well with what I recall.

    As a note, I think Ichthyic was confusing which ‘sides’ were being talked about in responses 9 and 10.

  10. says

    Ya that’s what I think too. Ichthyic, the claim wasn’t that Coyne had gone from anti-accommodationist to pro-accommodationist, but that some people who were friends and allies on that issue are opponents on this one: Coyne is on Team Abbie Smith et al., and very hostile to Team Rebecca et al.

  11. Ichthyic says

    Ichthyic, are you saying that Chris Mooney is pro-harassment

    no; my bad, I construed your mention of the accomodationist wars to being related to that issue… religious accomodationism.

    the issues of accomodationism and sexism being entirely different.

    yes, Mooney is no sexist.

  12. Anne C. Hanna says

    yes, Mooney is no sexist.

    Heh, okay, good. Glad we got that straightened out! 😀 Sorry for my part in creating confusion.

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