And I’ll get to Scotland afore ye

The Melby Foundation announces its disassociation from some things.

The Melby Foundation publicly dissociates itself from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of Nugent’s comments section.

The Melby Foundation is publicly dissociating itself from the hurtful and dehumanizing, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of Nugent’s comments section. The final of many, many straws was its latest smear that if PZ Myers and Alex Gabriel were given power that they would send people to “re-education gulags”, and its subsequent description of the out-group as “a community of personality disordered individuals with high degrees of narcissism”. We are also asking all ethical organizations and individuals to consider how you can help to reverse Nugent’s comments section’s harmful impact on the individuals it targets and the atheist movement generally.

Does the wording sound at all familiar? Of course it does.

The Foundation gives abundant examples.

Nugent’s comments section said the out-group is a “little clique” engaging in a “pattern of lies, slander, misdirection, & general childish nastiness” that has done much to “discredit secular activism online” who aren’t “fooling [anyone] besides themselves” and are “despicable”. The out-group are called “Social Justice Warriors” who are a “negative and destructive [force]” that “won’t forgive [other’s] accomplishments, because these make them feel inferior” therefor other’s accomplishments are “the greatest sin you could have committed in their eyes”. They are described as “like minded bloggers and sycophants” who simply “blog for beer money” that represent a “toxic element” of “desperate liars” who are “inexcusable” and “spin so hard you could hook them up to a few dynamos and power a small city”. It also implied that the out-group accuses people of “internalized misogyny and deep xenophobia” for not “[promoting] speaking gigs”. It proclaimed that if someone continued to associate with the out-group they would “have choked on [their] own vomit” and accused the out-group of “kicking the corpses at Charlie Hebdo.”

Yeah right, I’ve been so hostile to the murdered cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo.

Nugent’s comments section praised a forum known for ridiculing a small number of targets for years on end, including jokes about kicking Ophelia Benson in the “cunt” and gifs of animals having sex labeled with people’s names, as “a fairly no-holds-barred but fun site” with “robust debate and a daft-laugh” where “humour takes some getting used to not simply because it appears tasteless” but because “there’s layer upon layer [of meaning] and you’ll probably have tears in your eyes long before you reach the center of them”. It was described as “practically the only opposition to the poison being spread amongst us” and “if you like irreverent, bawdy company and have a sense of humour, you will do absolutely find there.”

Nugent’s comment section went on to describe this forum as “rough & tumble” where “mentally adding a winkie or a [/sarcasm] tag to the end of every 3rd post … can enhance the … viewing experience for those who find themselves becoming concerned about what they read.” It is described as “an open, freewheeling and occasionally very crude and/or rude place” “sophomoric and brilliant” “hysterically funny” and the photoshop work is described as “satirically and artistically fantastic”. Nugent’s comments section explains that the forum provides “top-notch analysis of the failings of [named individuals]” and the “best way of keeping yourself up to date with [their] antics” and that the forum “deserve[s] our gratitude”. Nugent’s comment section says, “It [does] not matter…if the [forum] was sometimes offensive or sometimes angry.”

Seriously, it has been one of the major puzzles all along – starting from the “dialogue” Nugent forced on us over our objections – that Nugent goes on and on and on about PZ’s rhetoric while he welcomes that kind of thing on his blog.

Melby sums up beautifully:

These are only some examples of Nugent’s comments section’s harmful rhetoric.

It might be possible to interpret any one example of this unrelenting character assassination charitably, and certainly Nugent’s comments section can hide behind a wall of unkind, hyperbolic or polemic words written by PZ Myers over several YEARS; pretend that issues of civility were never addressed and continue to use Myers’ incivility to justify an obsessive harassment campaign against a number of targets.

Ironically, the sheer quantity of this obsessive rhetoric can seem to minimize the harm of each example. It is easy for us to become desensitized to the reality of four years of related ridicule and harassment framed as reasonable discourse. In fact, it might be really easy to just ignore it if you aren’t personally a target. Otherwise, it kind of sucks.

Nugent has been ignoring it ever since he forced that “dialogue” on us, that “dialogue” that accomplished nothing other than giving a group of harassers a more respectable place to publish their harassment.


  1. doubtthat says

    I sort of come in and out of this nonsense (some morning Nugent is going to look into the mirror and realize what a goddamn waste of time this has all been), but I have read a few blogposts on the Great Disassociation (I find it so amusing that I keep reading).

    Having not been in the trenches with the usual crew of goofballs that have a manure pile to burrow into over at Nugent’s blog, I’m sort of bewildered at the number of times the Hebdo shooting is being deployed as somehow relevant to PZ calling people names.

    Somehow their obsessive, perverse harassment campaigns are analogous to Hebdo cartoons and pointing out the Pit’s gross behavior is equivalent to murdering people…? Weird.

    I also did enjoy Nugent’s joyless response. Pointing out to everyone in VERY REASONABLE LANGUAGE that he hasn’t accused PZ’s comment section of anything, so everything falls apart and Melby made a grave error (Hint to the Nuge: the issue is about civility – hard to get sanctimonious about civility elsewhere when you host a buzzing nest of jackassery).

    Oh well, sorry to everyone who actually is affected by this nonsense. I enjoy my position as a bemused onlooker.

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