Hey, y’all remember the Secular Policy Institute? The dodgy atheist organization that was formed when Edwina Rogers got fired from the Secular Coalition of America, and immediately signed up some big names like Dawkins & Harris & Shermer & Pinker & Boghossian &tc, who shortly afterwards all fled the organization? No? Maybe this photo will trigger your memory, or your gag reflex:
Yikes, but that was one atheist shit-show I wish I could forget. In addition to the desperate reaching to grab the Usual Suspects, there was another individual I’d never heard of, who was busily working hard to alienate other organizations, and also didn’t like me (but I’m so loveable!). This individual had a prominent role in the SPI, and was also working for the Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
That person was Johnny Monsarrat.
I know. Who? Never heard of him. But apparently he was going to be a new mover and shaker in the world of atheism He wasn’t. This was several years ago, and he’s more or less vanished from the scene, in part because of odd crackpot crapola in his history, like this:
Reader Jason sent over a blog post that sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, following the story through a variety of twists and turns. The key player in the story is Jonathan Monsarrat, who among other things founded the video game company Turbine (Asheron’s Call, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, etc.). In early 2010, Monsarrat was arrested concerning events at a party in Massachusetts. The charges against him were later dismissed. However, there were various blog discussions among local bloggers and commenters. Not long ago, approximately three years after all of this happened, Monsarrat sued two named defendants and 100 “John Does” in a Massachusetts (not federal) court on a variety of charges, centering around defamation, but also including copyright infringement, commercial disparagement, deceptive trade practices and conspiracy. He’s asking for an astounding $5.5 million.
He’s one of those obnoxious people who flings around lawsuits when people say mean things about him, which, unfortunately, seems to be a common affliction within the atheist community. In this case, he tried to sue people who wrote about his rather tacky behavior and arrest record.
Upon arriving at the scene, police found broken beer bottles near the door of the first floor of the apartment and 25-30 teenagers inside. Many were attempting to conceal bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages, the police report states. Open bottles of alcohol were found in the kitchen area as well as a small amount of marijuana.
Monsarrat identified himself as the host of the party, but denied that any alcohol was being served, the report states. When asked by an officer to inform his guests that the party was ending, Monsarrat became “argumentative” and refused to follow instructions, police said. Officers asked for identification from several partygoers who responded, “We’re in high school, we don’t have ID.”
So what we have is a fellow who is very full of himself and likes to file frivolous lawsuits who managed to get himself associated with some major players in atheism. He has a reputation as a copyright troll who brings on lawsuits with extravagant demands — basically, he’s a legal extortionist. And now he’s up to his old tricks again.
He’s suing Encyclopedia Dramatica for $750,000.
I detest and despise Encyclopedia Dramatica. It’s a kind ugly amalgam of 4chan Lite, fake news, and generic hate, a wiki for 12 year olds who want an outlet for puerile slurs. They even have a page about me with fake quotes and dishonest characterizations, so I owe them no fondness.
But here’s the thing: I don’t care. There are lots of sites filled with what they consider amusing lies, and no one in their right mind is going to cite Encyclopedia Dramatica as a source for anything — any claim made there is immediately tainted by juvenalia and their disregard for the truth. But I also have no patience for wankers who file SLAPP suits, having been a target for this shit myself.
I can’t quite bring myself to donate to their legal fund — it’s one of those sites that would improve the internet with its disappearance — but I also can’t condone this attempt to extort it out of existence, as a general principle. So I’ll just mention here that yes, you could hold your nose and donate to their legal defense fund, if for no other reason than that Monsarrat is a walking talking chancre.
Ugh. Feel so unclean now.
PZ Myers says
You can find more at this link, including an archive of the ED page he’s trying to suppress. I don’t know why; there’s so much garbage on ED that I read it and couldn’t believe any of it, not even the bits I’d seen independently corroborated.
I suggest both sides hire the full troika of Orly Taitz, Larry Klayman, and Matt Stever to represent them. Those three are so unethical they would represent both sides, and so incompetent they would still manage to loose.
Camilla Fox says
He once ran a Valentine’s day matchmaking service at MIT, which went as poorly as you might expect such a thing to go (given the other allegations).
I wish both sides a long, ugly battle that leaves them drained both emotionally and financially.
Marcus Ranum says
I suggest both sides hire the full troika of Orly Taitz, Larry Klayman, and Matt Stever to represent them.
I’m pretty sure Charles Carreon would want a piece of deck space on that fail-boat.
Marcus Ranum says
Monserrat, according to this invented the MMO, which would be news to those of us who spent the late 80s playing MUDs. Looks like he’s doing an augmented reality game that’s gonna kick pokemon go’s ass. Or something!
PZ Myers says
? I wouldn’t be bragging about that.
I also notice there are no women on his team.
Nah. They can occupy each other Ouroboros-wise to oblivion for all I care.
I’m as appalled that he was connected to Turbine as you are that he was connected to atheism. Turbine wrote some really excellent MMOs, with their first one, Asheron’s Call launching in the late 1990s. Eventually, Turbine was bought by Warner Bros. and what’s left (running Lord of the Rings, Online–LotRO–and Dungeon and Dragons Online–DDO) as Standing Stone Games (SSG). LotROs next update is going cover the destruction of the One Ring and the player characters will go into the northern fringes of Mordor (in that order, of course, as they’re strongly constrained by their license to adhere to the books….mostly) Update 21 is in open beta at present.
Adam James says
I always appreciate a principled stand in defense of those one otherwise despises. Anecdotally, in these hyper-polarized times it seems at least as common to forget one’s principles when there’s a chance to twist the knife (I just finished being disappointed that Steve Shives favored dropping free speech protections for government employees since it would open the door for firing an outspoken homophobe). Thanks for having some empathy and taking the long view, PZ.
You’re a biologist – figure out how to put a pox on both houses.
I do believe the MMOG ‘Kingdom of Drakkar’ launched in 1989, five years before this article claims Montserrat invented MMOGs, and it’s still going. Though, in a way, given it started as the MUD ‘Realm’, it’s been around even longer – that launched in 1984.
Just noticed, Harris looks like the guy from Zoolander. :P
Marcus Ranum@5, I can’t say I recall ever hearing of Charles Carreon before. He doesn’t have an entry — or even a mention? — in the Encyclopedia of American Loons, albeit based on his entry at RationalWiki, he does seem like a good candidate to assist Taitz, Klayman & Stever.