It Always Comes Back To Us, Doesn’t It?

I haven’t been following the debate with this transphobic chode on youtube, just catching one side of it in the form of HJ Hornbeck’s posts – which are quite useful and informative even outside of the original context. Because I didn’t follow the original context, I didn’t notice the chode in question is a member of the atheoskeptisphere, and has been backed by more prominent voices in our creepy little community.

I’m unsurprised, but it does hit me in that pit of despair, the place where I can see my people – the atheists, those who hold faith in reason – being both irrational and malicious, making the world a worse place. Just a week ago, murderous atheist islamophobe Craig Stephen Hicks was finally sentenced for his crimes. But there’s no true justice in the universe, and most of us won’t have to answer for spreading hate while robing ourselves in words like “reason” as if they’re magic armor.

Thanks for propping up this status quo, my bros. It’s important for people like me to stay humble. As long as it’s fucking impossible to be proud of being an atheist or skeptic, I’ll stay self-aware enough to avoid acting the fool, maybe do less harm in my blundering.


  1. Hj Hornbeck says

    I’m only now getting an idea of the damage this dudebro has done, and it’s kind of staggering. There’s been no less than two walkouts from ACA members over how those prominent voices shielded him, and that includes a number of long-time hosts of The Atheist Experience and other ACA podcasts. After hitting publish on that post, I popped in a link to EssenceOfThought’s somewhat-outdated accounting of what happened, and… yeeeesh.

    I know that pit. But I also know what helps me climb out of it: writing.

  2. invivoMark says

    Back when I was young and impressionable (or at least, less old and less cynical), atheism was important to me. I started following PZ Myers, though I probably could just as easily have started following Dawkins or Harris

    I like to think that I always would have been skeptical and rational enough to come around to my current views on things like feminism and trans issues. But I can’t say for sure. I could have gone down a whole different rabbit hole, if I hadn’t been exposed to the ideas and the writing of the largely pro-trans FTB group (certain ex-members excluded).

    That scares the crap out of me. But I think it also makes me mad, every time I see some dingus flying under the “skeptical and rational” banner inculcating a large audience with irrational and harmful anti-trans ideas (and other nonsense).

    I don’t know how alternate-universe me would have turned out. But I am grateful for those like HJ Hornbeck (among others) for offering a counter to the nonsense, casting a hopeful line of actual rationality to those who need it.

  3. says

    I half forgot that AXP has a blog presence here, because it mostly consisted of posting links to episode videos and I just developed a blindness for their presence in the sidebar. Generally I avoid getting in the soup with other people on FtB, but kinda ridiculously strolled right into this one. That said, I have a distaste for Dillahunty that goes A+ deep, and that is surely no surprise to anyone aware of his history there.

    On the subject of alternate universe selves, being self-aware enough to know what you could’ve been… It’s no fun. But it does make me grateful I landed where I am.

  4. lanir says

    I’m not sure if anyone else approaches these things the way I do, but I guess my approach has me missing out on all of this. I don’t watch videos to get opinions on serious subjects. I’ll watch the presidential debates and I’ll watch the news but I generally find it’s a waste of time to watch some random yahoo on youtube stumble through explaining their viewpoints. That stuff is much easier to grasp in written form (such as here).

    Like this post got me thinking about what criteria I actually use as a basis for treating people differently. I may be missing something but the only ways I try to discriminate between different people fall into two broad ethical categories and two practical categories.

    The ethical categories:
    1. Their situation: Are they desperately poor or fantastically rich? Starving? Need medical attention? Historically mistreated (personally or as a member of a group)? How experienced are they and whether I can reasonably expect them to have learned from their experiences based on their capabilities? Etc…
    2. Their actions: This is all the usual moral judgement stuff, for good or ill. Have they caused harm? Have they given a lot to others? How well do these balance out (affected by some aspects of their situation)?

    The practical categories:
    1. How they can affect me: Not interested in being anyone’s toady but I see a practical purpose in not casually offending people who can cause me harm with trivial effort. Mostly categorizing negative effects in this group and positive in the one below. I guess some effort to blend into the rest of society is also covered by this because society makes outliers pay a price for being different.
    2. My needs: Can they provide me with something I need? Yes it’s bribery at worst, being thankful for what others do for me at best and everything in between.

    Race, religion (in a passive sense – act on it and I’ll judge your actions), sexuality (passive, same as religion), age, hobbies, culture & subculture, appearance & clothing, cis/trans, nationality or country of origin, language, etc.

    I try not to let the listed exclusions and similar things affect my thinking. I’m not always acting at my best though. I can be a jerk, blame people for my screw-ups, stubbornly continue arguing even when I’m seeing the foundation for my argument crumbling beneath me, feel awkward and uncomfortable around things I don’t know, have instant reactions based on views I was taught growing up even if they now make me feel ashamed, mistrust my strengths and misjudge my weaknesses as a person, choose the lazy option, and generally just be an imperfect mess of a human being.

    But I try not to be and I expect that of anyone I interact with. If they’re not at least trying to overcome their own failings and learn to be better, they’re not worth my time or anyone elses. They need to figure that out before they’re worth bothering with beyond a push in the right direction if they get in the way. This guy and all the other transphobes are squarely in that category.

    Oh and if you think I missed something important up above, feel free to give me a push too. I’m not always “worth bothering with” myself but I’ll think about it critically and try to learn from my failings.

  5. StevoR says

    Thanks for propping up this status quo, my bros. It’s important for people like me to stay humble. As long as it’s fucking impossible to be proud of being an atheist or skeptic, I’ll stay self-aware enough to avoid acting the fool, maybe do less harm in my blundering.

    Well, there is that silver lining to this horrendous cloud*.

    * Note : Silver is vapour at 2,162 °C, ​(3,924 °F) so any cloud containing it has to be at extermely high Hot Jupiter type temperatures if that silver rained out of that cloud in molten liquid form well, I don’t think an ordinary umbrella would be good enough or last very long somehow!

  6. says

    StevoR – good information! silver linings are bad.

    lanir – i don’t watch youtube videos but i would be vaaastly less likely to watch a presidential debate. there’s this picture of audience members clapping for some democrat saying shit against prisoners being allowed to vote. the only black lady present is not clapping, and has this darkly hilarious expression of incredulity. people are clapping for this? that’s me no matter who’s at the podium. one way or another i’m going to be reminded of how fucked up the center is in this country, how hopeless it is for any kind of real left. ditto the news – even the supposedly moderate american channels are dominated by propaganda, treat blatant fascist BS as something worth discussing.

    my stake here is that i’m aware youtube is where the most visible face of atheism lies, and it’s nasty. i’m just watching the trash fire from a distance safe enough it won’t affect my recommendations. that is to say, i’ll read an article about those fools, but i won’t even load the page to look at the thumbnail of one of their videos.

    the other thing is that last time i watched anything by the big names in question, they were on the more moderate not-exactly-antifeminist tip. but they couldn’t break those bonds of community with scumbags and their fenceriding seems to have settled in an area utterly distasteful to me. i got curious about cristina rad once a few months ago and i regret looking her up. dee-pressing.

  7. Hj Hornbeck says

    Brony @3:
    Excellent work. I’m tempted to do the same, but I’m too busy at the moment writing up blog posts. My latest may be of some use to you, though.

    StevoR @7:
    Honestly, it’s a bit of a pleasure to poke holes in the arguments of someone so hypocritical. I’ve got a half-dozen or so more posts where that one came from, assuming I don’t get distracted and wander off. All of that comes from a potent cocktail of wanting to clean up this community, wanting to aid those harmed by RR, and the aforementioned glee of deconstructing bad arguments.

  8. says

    @Hj Hornbeck
    Thank you. You posts have been very useful for background and context. I haven’t needed to use them as a direct source yet because things are mostly political at the moment and I’m not the one with something to prove. The people acting apprehensive about trans women in sports don’t seem to accept the fact that the rest of us get to keep noticing that irrational fear of a group is bigotry.
    It’s on them to demonstrate that their fear is rational and the price they pay to have their debate/discussion about a group of people being a threat is our debate/discussion about the bigoted ramifications of their behavior.

    I did however get someone to delete a post on Facebook with one of your sources when I decided to try being the one to provide something. They posted a paper about exogenous T and used it to imply that what they were saying about T and sports was “obvious and unquestionable”. They weren’t prepared for a real discussion about what are social stereotypes :).

  9. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I want to say thanks to Hj Hornbeck and Brony, Social Justice Cenobite, for their great and laudible work. I don’t agree with everything said, but I still really the time and work that you spend on this topic.

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