Farewell, Ed

As you may have heard, Ed Brayton is leaving FtB. His health has suffered, because he is the point man here, and one of the defining features of the current atheist movement is that it is populated with assholes who hate the idea of any kind of social justice movement, so they’ve been making life hellish for a guy who has had more than enough work trying to keep the lights on and the engines running.

So why am I leaving? Also omnipresent since the start of FTB, as I’m sure you well know, has been controversy. The bloggers here have often gone on crusades and launched battles, most of them necessary and justified. But along with that has come a great deal of drama and stress. I’ve endured several threats of lawsuits against me as the owner of the network over the words and actions of others. I’ve had continual demands that I do something about this or that blogger, that I throw them off the network or censor them. I’ve been caught in the crossfire of a great many fights, continually taking shrapnel in battles that I wasn’t even involved in.

He’s basically retiring to Patheos, where all the lazy slackers of atheism go to avoid controversy and get money. I can’t blame him. He’s been tortured enough.

The rest of us are still here, though, and we’ve got a committee that will be stepping up to take the place of one guy — we hope that will diffuse the attacks, although I’m pretty sure they’ll start ramping up now.

So nothing changes.


  1. Alverant says

    I for one say we need to redefine the atheist movement to include social justice. I’m sorry Ed’s going but he needs to do what’s best for him first. I really like how he keeps up with the news (and is one of few news sources I trust). I hope someone else can fulfill the roll he took by reporting about christian privilege that seem to happen every day.

  2. EigenSprocketUK says

    Good luck, and best wishes. I hope the anti-FtB crowd don’t start to encourage themselves to try harder.

  3. rorschach says

    I for one say we need to redefine the atheist movement to include social justice.

    You might want to look up the recent kerkuffle in the atheist movement regarding the rather specific issue of TERF-ism. Atheists are not beyond activist madness.

    So nothing changes.

    Dissolve it. Start again. Very few core contributors. No more guilt by network association.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    rorschach @ # 5: Dissolve it. Start again.

    I strongly suspect there’s a whole lot of unseen infrastructure, representing plenty of work and capital investment, that this proposal tosses out the window. Re-creating that would add a lot of barriers and burdens, unnecessarily.

    Systemic changes will surely come now anyway.

  5. says

    Getting rid of people is a violation of the basic principle we set up here: we wanted diverse writers who are supportive of social justice, even if sometimes we disagree with them and we drive each other crazy. For the old white guy to decide to cast out them uppity kids…jeez. No. Not going to happen. We must set aside our biases to provide a home for many different voices.

  6. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ed Brayton going?

    Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Ed is vital to my experience of FtB and even to – no exaggeration – the world. I get my first exposure to so many important political stories through Ed. His bit about the Know Nothings the other day…I kinda-sorta-remember hearing the term as a term of historical relevance and specificity, but whatever I’d read about it before was so weakly fixed in my brain that it didn’t affect my understanding of articles that used “Know Nothings” at all. Ed made it clear that this wasn’t a general insult for someone spouting blather and made me read a number of articles on the Know Nothings after finishing his own.

    Ed Brayton, you’ve educated me and given me a good time doing it. You are irreplaceable. I don’t know if your blog will change any as you move to Patheos, but I now know that I’ll be spending far more time at Patheos than I did previously.

    And Daniel Fincke is likely to benefit thereby.
    @rorschach, #5:

    I for one say we need to redefine the atheist movement to include social justice.

    You might want to look up the recent kerkuffle in the atheist movement regarding the rather specific issue of TERF-ism. Atheists are not beyond activist madness.

    Oh, please, rorschach. Alverant is advocating for a movement that promotes justice. Citing what you think is an injustice as a reason to avoid the promotion of justice is non-sensical at best. Wherever the concept or existence of TERFs has been used to perpetrate injustice (as opposed to simply used erroneously in addition to those uses that create justice) I oppose such use. There’s nothing inconsistent with doing so and still believing that TERFs themselves promote injustice.

  7. yazikus says

    That is too bad, but I wish Ed well. I hope that you are also mindful of your needs, PZ. I hate to see the stress and burden side of FTB fall on your shoulders alone.

  8. brett says

    I hope he’ll have an easier time at Patheos. They’ve got some real idiots over there, but also some good writers like Fred Clark, Libby Anne, and Adam Lee.

  9. Mobius says

    I’ve been following Ed since shortly after discovering Pharyngula, back in the Science Blogs days. I wish him well, and will continue to follow him at his new blog home.

  10. Thierry Guerrant says

    C’mon, we know the truth. He’s pairing up with Jon Stewart to revive the Hope-Crosby “Road” pictures, starting with The Road to Perdition.

    See you on the red carpet, Ed – and try to miss us a little so we’re not stuck being sad all by ourselves here.

  11. says


    I for one say we need to redefine the atheist movement to include social justice.

    Jen McCreight attempted this, and called it Atheism+. The reaction from certain circles in movement atheism was only slightly less hysterical than hearing Fox News pundits discuss Obamacare and immigration. It was condemned as outright thought-tyranny and Jen was hounded right out of blogging altogether by people who saw no irony in accusing her of censorship while doing so. One very prominent, openly gay figure in atheism and skepticism has referred to A+ and similar social justice promotion in the godless community as “lunacy,” while simultaneously and bizarrely supporting American Atheists’ decision to table at the Republican CPAC, whose guest speakers included such prominent pro-LGBT activists as Phil Robertson and Sarah Palin. (That last sentence was sarcasm, for anyone unclear.)

    The reality is that there is no “atheist movement,” there are atheist movements, plural. And right now, the right-wing libertarian dudebro atheists — many of whom associate with the online harassment campaign known as Gamergate — are the ones most vocally opposed to social justice and equality, and are shouting the loudest and most effectively. The irony is that in thinking atheism was fighting the good fight against excessive Christian influence on our culture, a huge chunk of us, in the process, managed to “Foxify” ourselves and be proud of it.

  12. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Ed has the option of walking away.

    Haters will follow Ophelia Benson wherever she goes, for the crime of, originally, quoting someone who had also said some disagreeable things about trans people. Guilt by association!

    I recommend Stonekettle Station: http://www.stonekettle.com/ .

  13. thebookofdave says

    Patheos seems to be the Florida of platforms: a place where Freethoughtblogs writers go to retire. Until now, I was unmotivated to follow any of them there. Dispatches made up a significant portion of my experience here, so I have Ed to blame for the extra clutter in my bookmarks. I imagine there’s a huge amount of maintenance that goes on behind the scenes of FtB, most of which was Ed’s responsibility. I wish the best of luck to your committee in filling his shoes. They’ll need it.

  14. Great American Satan says

    markita – i bet very few of them do follow her elsewhere. the pitters will of course, but i wager most of the offended aren’t interested in going out of our way to see something that bothers us. the same reason we aren’t reading the pit, tho to a lesser degree. i already wasn’t reading her because of a past incident where she overreacted on defense of something crap, and her relentless focus on islam that just tastes dawkish to me.

  15. zenlike says

    Not long after after having entered the atheist blogosphere through other channels (I believe it was Phil Plait), I quickly found my home in both Ed and PZ’s places. This was still at SciBlogs, and I gladly followed them here. It is very sad to see Ed go, but if this means he can concentrate on the stuff he likes, eg the blogging itself, it is probably for the best. I wish Ed all the best in his new home, and will keep reading him there.

  16. says

    I’ve never been much of a commenter on Ed’s threads at all – his commentariat is its own thing and it has never been my sort of crowd. But I’ve been a regular reader of his articles since the scienceblogs days when it was entitled Dispatches in the Creation Wars, and it has always been essential, regular catch-up reading of what bizarre things have been going on in the right-wing political and religious landscape of the US. Ed’s way of keeping his finger on the pulse of events has been engaging even for readers on the other side of the Pacific. I’m really sorry to hear that his health has been worn down by the gradual attrition which Martin alluded to in #14 but glad to hear the Culture Dispatches will have a home over at Patheos. Thank you Ed, and I hope to continue reading you over yonder.

  17. AMM says

    I can’t say I read a large percentage of Ed’s posts — there are always a lot of them, because there’s a lot of awful stuff going on out there, and there’s only so much awful stuff I can deal with per week. The ones I do look at are interesting.

    But I do appreciate FtB. There are a lot of very good bloggers here talking about stuff I care about who I imagine might not get much of an audience elsewhere. (And the ones I don’t like, I can just ignore.)

    Tangent: the new format for the home page tends to favor bloggers who write a lot of posts. Many of the bloggers I like best don’t blog even once a day, so they often don’t show up in the article blurb section. Oh well, I just go down the list on the upper left and check up on each one of them once a day or so. (“Meals on wheels, anyone?”)