Can I be a colonel in the Outrage Brigade?


A few days ago, I had a couple of exchanges with a well-known and well-regarded YouTube atheist who recited a set of familiar tropes. I’ve blurred out their identity below, despite that being against all of my instincts (you say stuff, own it) because Stephanie Zvan also commented on it, and she’s being courteous. But damn, I’ve been hearing this demand for politeness for over a decade now, and it’s getting old.

Here’s the deal: we are supposed to be civil, polite, and supportive of people in the atheist movement, no matter what they say, in the name of “unity”. If we disagree publicly, we are characterized as “the Outrage Brigade” and slandered with hyperbole, while being accused of slandering people with hyperbole. I have, for instance, a great deal of respect for Dawkins’ work and talents as a science communicator, and I also like him personally, but if I disagree with some of his comments, I’m told that I’ve tossed their entire life and work into the shit-can. This is not true, although the defenders of the status quo think it is — that any challenge to any aspect of a Great Leader’s opinions is a black-and-white demonization of everything they’ve ever said.

Unfortunately, Richard Dawkins just tweeted this.


Some Trump votes driven by hatred of liberals. Some liberals deserve it for their hypocritical Islamophilia, safe spaces, deplatforming etc.

Great timing. Thanks for making my point for me. By the way, what do we deserve? Trump?

It’s very nice that he can remain a friend with Peter Boghossian on some personal level. He’s still a terrible person with some very bad ideas. I am not persuaded to appreciate those very bad ideas because Blurred-Out-Atheist thinks they’re a peachy person. I’m not going to sing kumbaya with someone who’s endorsing regressive, hateful ideas because Blurred-Out-Atheist has waved them away as mere “disagreements” and is willing to say so in private email to his pals.

I pointed out the irony of telling some peole to be nicer in the name of unity while also labeling them an “Outrage Brigade” and accusing them of “springing into a frothing rage” over relatively minor disagreements. But mostly I backed away.

See? Not springing into frothing rage. I filed it away and said to myself that I’ll cool off for a few days and see if this guy will see the light of reason.

Nope. He posted this.

This is the difference between respectful, strong, mature, nuanced criticisms, and the inflammatory wailings of the Outrage Brigade…those already in a froth before they’ve bothered to read/watch/listen to the issues – ANY issues – at hand. They lash out in memes. They inflate every thought with hyperbole. They apparently have anointed themselves as some kind of mind-reading Idea Police. And any honest person who has ever used the internet knows they exist.

Are they the agents of good faith, charitable listening, genuine understanding, dialogue, problem-solving, building something better? I suspect not, because they throw gasoline upon every spark, pour salt on every wound, and usually take a flailing machete to the arenas for careful surgery.

What’s most interesting is to watch people protesting the claims of needless outrage with…needless outrage.

Harris deserves criticism and the rebuttals of better ideas. Anyone who declares that someone can’t appreciate his writings, activism, etc while also having points of disagreement is an acting demonstration of the very thing which makes online exchanges so maddening, so ugly, so unproductive.

It’s even worse. Much worse. He has decided that many of the people who criticize Dawkins, Harris, Boghossian, etc. are lunatics with flailing machetes. He has lost all sense of perspective. Look at that: while I was off taking deep breaths and restraining myself, he was busy anointing himself as some kind of mind-reading Idea Police, and decided to compose this respectful, strong, mature, nuanced criticism that doubles down on the Outrage Brigade, accuses them of inflammatory wailings and of throwing gasoline upon every spark, and engaging in needless outrage.

Well, fuck that. If you can live in Trump’s America and deny the existence of needful outrage, if you think that writing great science books makes your social commentary unimpeachable, if all it takes is being a philosophy professor to make your ideas about gender studies bulletproof, if you think writing books that demonize Muslims makes you an unquestionably great scholar, if you think you get to decide which ideas are less important and deserve to be insulated from a righteous anger which you are going to label “needless”, if you’re going to be outraged about divisiveness while declaring that people who criticize Dear Leader are the goats to be separated from the sheep, then hell yes I will tell you to go stuff yourself up your own reverent ass. I can’t help but notice who you choose to consider friends despite their terrible ideas and who you consider enemies of the movement because of their social justice ideas. It tells me what ideas you’re willing to support, and which you oppose.

And those ideas matter. The atheist movement, I’m told, is all about ideas — ideas that can change the world. But as is always the case, there are always more people who adapt to a movement, find themselves comfortable with it, and resist all efforts to change anything ever again. Unfortunately, we live in what can only be described as a dystopian society, and any complaining about change and upheaval and revolution will be seen as favoring the status quo.

A Very Smart Brotha wrote recently about this problem. Preach it, Damon Young.

Polite white people—specifically, polite white people who call for decorum instead of disruption when attempting to battle and defeat bias and hate—aren’t as paradoxical as tits on a bull. But they’re just as useless. They provide no value, they move no needles, they carry no weight (metaphysically and literally) and they ultimately just get in the way. They’re humanity’s tourists: the 54-mile-per-hour drivers in the left lane refusing to get the fuck out of the way so others can pass. And if you get enough of them in one place, they cause accidents.

Unfortunately, they’re every-fucking-where. They’re on Facebook threads and sitting behind you at work. They’re your neighbors and (sometimes) your family members. They’re Academy Award-nominated actresses on Twitter and college professors named “Mark Lilla” peddling terribly premised books about identity politics. Sometimes they ask for level heads, lest we become what we’re fighting against. Which is like saying, “Hey, don’t kill that fly, man, because you’re going to turn into a fly.” Sometimes they misquote MLK. Or Gandhi. Or Mother Teresa. Or Papa fucking Smurf. But you can always find them somewhere, attempting to defeat violence with the devil’s advocacy and danishes.

Of course, these are not bad people. At least not Martin Shkreli bad. They’re just so goddamn inert, and that inertia is dangerous. It’s unwise to mistake their lack of movement with futility. Because this type of idling does make a difference. Just the wrong kind of difference. It can be seductive and sublime. Who doesn’t want to believe that love bombs are enough to devastate hate? Who wouldn’t want to know that good manners win if the manners are good enough? Think about how much less stress battling white supremacy and police brutality would induce if all you needed to do to defeat it was drink a bottle of Pepsi.

Ultimately, this laser focus on niceness and decorum is just a way of policing behavior. Politeness in the face of violence, and terror is a privilege exclusive to them. They just don’t have as much to lose if everyone stays polite and kind and sober. If things happen to change while we’re nice as fuck to each other, great! If not, well, great, too. It’ll still be Wednesday. And bulls still won’t have tits.

They’re also YouTube atheists with “Atheist” in their nom-de-vlog who love engaging and making friends with regressive assholes while dismissing those who support social justice as the Outrage Brigade. If you aren’t outraged right now, you’re doing everything wrong.

Comments

  1. Siobhan says

    There’s certainly an element of tone-policing there as well. No matter how evenly heeled I deliver a criticism of, say, transphobia, I am inevitably–literally always–accused of being “angry.” Often by someone red in the face and shouting.

    Consider me Staff Sergeant Mildly Annoyed, I guess.

  2. rietpluim says

    Why is it that asshole Dawkins is never called out for being divisive? I mean, that tweet is divisive as the Great Schism!

  3. says

    …if you think that writing great science books makes your social commentary unimpeachable…

    Well…that may be a slight strawman. It seems Blurred-Out-Atheist does find criticism to be allowed (e.g, “Harris deserves criticism and the rebuttals of better ideas”). The problem, though, is that Blurred-Out-Atheist seems to only accept certain forms of criticism. What forms of criticism do they allow? That’s where I am at a loss. Memes and hyperbole are apparently out, but it also seems the mildest of criticisms tend to be categorized as hyperbole (or, as Siobhan notes categorized as being emotional, which is also no good), which is what leads to my confusion and leads me to want examples from the likes of Blurred-Out-Atheist of what they consider to be valid criticisms. Maybe they could provide a list of well-defined rules we need to follow? (And I stress the list would need to be well-defined, including good a good definition as well as examples of what they consider to be hyperbole.)

    Pretty sure I know who Blurred-Out-Atheist is, too, given one particular media atheist’s spectacular lack of self-awareness…but I’ll respect PZ’s decision to not “out” them.

  4. says

    #5: because this is not and never has been about divisiveness vs unity. It’s always been about deference to authority, and who gets to define who is authoritative.

  5. says

    “Outrage brigade” is just a label; it doesn’t convey any information, nor does it refute any argument. It’s suspicious when someone tries to slap a label on someone instead of unpacking and refuting their beliefs and opinions.

    When someone tries the ‘outrage gambit’ I usually say something like “I’m making a critique of ${position} – I’m not upset, don’t sidetrack the discussion into your guesses about my emotional state, and tell me what’s wrong with what I said.”

    Alternate form is “I’m not offended. I’m trying to grapple with ${bad idea}. Can you defend that idea or not? Don’t spare my feelings.”

  6. says

    PS – sounds like someone’s just whining about the salt.

    The way to not have that problem is to not fuck up. It’s way easier not to fuck up and complain about the salt.

  7. says

    This really feels like a rehash of things atheists were saying back in the noughts. To the blurred-out-atheist: We’re not always as angry as you seem to think. And to the extent that people are angry, we see anger as justified, and clearly you don’t, but just dismissing our concerns without engaging them or even accurately characterizing them isn’t particularly constructive.

  8. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The politeness/tone brigades remind of those “sympathetic” white people who MLK railed about in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. They are more worried about appearances, than actually making progress. They are still part of the problem, not the solution.
    You want me to shut up? Show me how by YOUR example….

  9. drken says

    The high muckity-mucks of Atheism run seem to fall into the same trap as a lot of public “liberals”. They don’t want to fight racism and sexism, they just want to condemn people more racist and sexist than them. The idea that they themselves might be (even unknowingly) contributing to the problem (or that the problem exists) is inconceivable. Just remember, “unity” is just another word for “shut up”.

  10. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Just call me PFC Pissed-Off
    Few other options, first one to call dibs gets the name…
    Lieutenant Livid
    Admiral Apoplectic
    Captain Choleric
    Sergeant Seething
    Ensign Enraged

    Social Justice Warriors of the Outrage Brigade!
    Is it just me or do their supposed insults just make it sound cooler?

  11. rietpluim says

    PZ Myers

    It’s always been about deference to authority

    And here I am, ready to vote you the Outrage Brigade’s Supreme Ruler and Dictator-for-Life!

  12. says

    @PZ Myers

    …but if I disagree with some of his comments, I’m told that I’ve tossed their entire life and work into the shit-can. This is not true, although the defenders of the status quo think it is — that any challenge to any aspect of a Great Leader’s opinions is a black-and-white demonization of everything they’ve ever said.

    I agree with the gist of your article and I am with you on almost every issue you write about. You still challenge me intelectually and I still learn from you.

    I do not think that for being able to criticise others one has to be speckless. But you indeed did, at least once, reply with absolutely needles outrage and I will not forget that.

    So I want to remind you that you too are not perfect. That calling someone’s very humanity “broken” after they merely point out that the argument you endorse leads to a conclusion only throught the use of shady math and strawmanish assumptions could be reasonably interpreted and perceived as “tossing their entire life and work into the shit-can”.

    You apologized and I accepted your apology, but I never got the impression from how it was formulated, that you actually really understood what was wrong with what you have done at the time of writing it. But you apologized relatively quickly, which is in itself much more than other big atheist names have ever done towards those they wronged – they either took years to mumble a notpology (like Dawkins), or never issued even that. Which is why I still read Pharyngula, but not the others.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Soooo… if I don’t condemn Muslims to the point of paranoia, I’m a “Islamaphile,” eh Richard?

    You really need to work on a little something called “nuance,”‘Professor.

  14. Stacey C. says

    I call Admiral Apoplectic! Admiral “Ticking Time-bomb of Fury” Apoplectic.
    Seriously, every time they try to shame us they give us a cooler name! I’m proud to be a Social Justice Warrior and an Admiral in the Outrage Brigade!

  15. Curious Digressions says

    Goodness. Wailing, gasoline, machetes, and salt in wounds sound like inflated hyperbole. Maybe Blurry is referring to his/ her own writing in the complaint?

    @#5, Dawkins doesn’t rock Blurry’s comfortable bloat, so why would he/ she complain?

  16. anarchobyron says

    Their arguments against you PZ seem ….dreadful. I personally stopped attending and participating in the atheist movement after the fifth James Randi retreat due to the obviously aggressive sexism and right-wing libertarian of much of the audience. The response is ‘what about atheist unity’. The counter response, I would rather be unified around anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, etc., then atheism. Atheism is fine and all, but it’s not a necessary condition for being a decent human being. Nor is theism a necessary condition for being immoral (too many theists I know are progressive decent people). However, not being anti-racist, not being anti-sexism, not being anti-capitalist, those are part and parcel of being a shitty human being. So I don’t see any good reason to unify around atheism, anymore than I see to unify around love of popcorn, or wearing hats. None of these indications of good character, or good values.

    Glad you’re still blogging, because all the other new atheists (with the exception of MAYBE Dennett) are no longer compelling.

  17. says

    usually take a flailing machete to the arenas for careful surgery.

    I know how to use my machetes, and I don’t flail with them.

  18. Jeremy Shaffer says

    One of the reasons there’s division in the movement is we disagree, and another of the reasons is that many sit ready to spring into a frothing rage anytime someone else operates outside of their particular zone of agreement.

    Maybe, but whoever wrote this might want to check themselves before pointing fingers at anyone about that last bit since, although it’s hard to tell tone over the internet, this part sounds a bit frothy itself.

    More, what may be a simple disagreement of opinion for some can be serious menace to others. I could easily pass off my difference of opinion with white supremacists, misogynists, homophobes, and transphobes off as simple disagreements since, should things go their way, the negative affects to me would be limited to moral offenses unless I spoke up. Basically, I could easily hide and protect myself from any harm. To a PoC, woman, and/ or LGBTQ person, however, it would be a great threat to their very lives. And if a person that applies to reacted with more than a little aggression or, as this person says, frothing rage while discussing that disagreement, who the fuck am I to judge?

  19. says

    I’m exhausted, bone weary over this constant repetition and the hurling of accusations of how we are the worst, just, the worst. If anything is likely to engender genuine outrage, it’s the insistence that criticism and calling out is the horrible rage monster to beat all horrible rage monsters, ever. One of these days, a near-fatal eyeroll really is going to take me out.

  20. says

    “Don’t you dare criticize my heroes, or I’ll chuck a giant wobbly over you!” Hey Mister yoo toob atheist, you’ve just swapped your old god out for some new ones. Not rational.

  21. screechymonkey says

    I feel like we’re in Bizarro-World, where “New Atheists” and their defenders are crying about the stridency of their critics.

    This is the difference between respectful, strong, mature, nuanced criticisms, and the inflammatory wailings of the Outrage Brigade…those already in a froth before they’ve bothered to read/watch/listen to the issues – ANY issues – at hand. They lash out in memes.

    Oh, sweet merciful Zeus! Not memes!

    I haven’t paid attention to them lately, but I seem to recall that the anti-SJW brigades loved them some memes, especially if they involved using PZ’s or Rebecca Watson’s image. And what were the Invisible Pink Unicorn and the Flying Spaghetti Monster if not memes?

    They inflate every thought with hyperbole.

    And this is meant to be a defense of Richard Dawkins? The guy whose best-selling book included this:

    The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

    and this:

    That’s an argument? You might as well say, people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God. Or substitute any dimension of comparison you like, and derive an equivalently fatuous conclusion.

    Or who tweeted:

    religion is an organised licence to be acceptably stupid

    People are being insufficiently polite and deferential to that guy? A fan of that guy is complaining about the lack of nuance?

    To be clear, I’m not taking issue with Dawkins’ language there. I like a little hyperbole myself. But to wax indignantly about how Dawkins’ critics are using hyperbole seems to be some championship-level irony. Dawkins has dished out hyperbole and disparagement of others’ views for years — he can surely stand to take some in return.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    Svan’s post really merits the time to read it. I particularly liked –

    How many years of continued problems qualify as “immediately” shit-canning someone?

    For the record, as a farm boy I can testify that many bulls do have visible nipples – apparently superfluous, but I don’t recommend attempting to remove even one.

  23. hemidactylus says

    More to the point socifacts and collective representations lacked the contrived Darwinian baggage and the buggers suffer the same internalized problems as memory traced engrams. So what have we besides catz ans cheezebergurs? How many ran the wrong way with that ball (memes)? Bleck, retch, vomit.

  24. mikeschmitz says

    How can you be a colonel? You are the brigadier general, letting us all know when to be outraged

  25. consciousness razor says

    screechymonkey, #24:

    I feel like we’re in Bizarro-World, where “New Atheists” and their defenders are crying about the stridency of their critics.

    It’s not really so bizarre.* Presumably, many would still consider me a “New Atheist,” if that ever meant anything to them — at least I have no clue how I wouldn’t qualify anymore. I mean, what’s changed? I certainly haven’t found Jesus or whatever the fuck. And it doesn’t seem like I’ve gotten more or less strident about anything.

    The only thing that’s apparently changed is that different people are whining about it. But I don’t know … maybe some of them are the same tone trolls, accommodationists, “centrists,” and other shit-mongers that we were dealing with way back when. I don’t even think I should count some famous “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Harris as exceptions. They’ve been on the receiving end of the stridency more and more, as more people started noticing how fucked up they were, while they dug themselves ever deeper into their respective holes. But they’ve always been pretty whiny about it, and it’s just gotten to a point where they don’t do much else.

    *Well, okay, it is. But I’m saying you just didn’t notice that we were in Bizarro-World the whole time.

  26. ck, the Irate Lump says

    In other words, the same shit that gets flung at atheists who care about social justice issues is the same shit that gets flung at antifa (the scary, fabricated “alt-left”) is the same shit that gets flung at Black Lives Matters is the same shit that gets flung at trans activists is the same shit that gets flung at the Water Protectors is the same shit that gets flung at…

    MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail should be mandatory reading for everyone. And if someone walks away thinking that Dr. King thought highly of moderates and centrists, they should read it again.

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

    What’s most interesting is to watch people protesting the claims of needless outrage with…needless outrage.

    PZ briefly touched on this, but I’d like to make this more of a focus of the discussion.

    Look, white-guy-on-the-internet: cheese may be a necessary food to you, a staple. It might be that without it, you’d struggle to get your protein and vitamin D. Okay. I can deal with that. But for some folks your cheese is completely indigestible. Not only is it not needful, it’s actively harmful.

    So I get it when we express needful outrage and you, white-guy-on-the-internet, find that solid block heavy and unnecessary. I mind if you support a racist status quo, but not as much as I mind you telling anti-racists that we shouldn’t mind racism. It turns out that your needs might be different from my needs, and I find it close to the height of arrogant, my-view-is-the-only-view entitlement for you to declare our outrage as needless.

    Look, you may not feel any need to stand up to racism. I get it. Racism, in your view, isn’t doing you any harm, so why bother fighting it?

    But don’t fucking tell me what my needs are as if you, white-guy-on-the-internet, know what’s best for everyone.

    The outrage may not be needed in some absolutist sense, in the sense that without work to end racism the human race might very well survive the 21st century just as well as it survived the 20th, but it’s sure as hell needful to us.

    I don’t mind you picking a side. Everybody has to. But don’t fucking act like your side is the only side and there was no choice involved, because there is no point of view, there is only Zuul. Of course the white government of the Confederated States of America didn’t think Sherman’s March was “needful”. Of course the white slave owners thought the Emancipation Proclamation was needless and divisive. And I don’t want to redeem their violence or their bigotry, but holy fuck, at least they had the honesty to declare themselves pro-slavery, pro-racism, pro-war.

    I’m sure that in many ethical areas you’re much better than Alexander Davis, but right now I’m appreciating the ability of Davis to at least articulate that he opposed movements for liberation. You may be hoping your “needless” statements about outrage will whitewash your support of the status quo, or you may even have fooled yourself into thinking that you are somehow “neutral” on the issue of racism, preferring to move on to more “productive” conversations.

    But we know whitewash when we see it. Huck Finn couldn’t get away with a half-ass white wash job a hundred fifty years ago, and you won’t today.

  28. screechymonkey says

    cr@30,

    No, you’re right — the only thing that’s new is that Dawkins and Harris et al. have shown themselves to be hypocrites. (Or perhaps they always were, and I’ve only now realized it.) I mean, I always knew they were flawed, but I used to believe that they meant what they said when they insisted that some things have to be said even if certain people find them offensive.

    But now it’s clear that, e.g., Harris believes that it’s ok to say “Islam leads to terrorism,” and anyone who takes issue with that should debate it on the merits and not express any offense or outrage, but if someone says “Harris-ism leads to racism,” he can act outraged and offended rather than calmly debating the merits of that proposition.

  29. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Charly, was that meant to be a private email to PZ? Because, um, what the fuck are you on about?

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

    As for titles/ranks…

    I think General Outrage is good enough for me.

  31. Saad says

    The divisiveness complaint is such an own goal. I wonder if they even realize it.

    Pretty much any activism for justice is bound to be divisive. It’s sort of how it’s supposed to work. By calling attention to a wrong being done, you’re letting it be known that the entire population isn’t on the side of the wrongdoers. You’re establishing that there’s a division. The idea then is that your message would appeal to the humanity/conscience of people who are either ignorant of the topic or haven’t given it much thought and to the people who aren’t complete unrepentant bigots. So you’re creating/furthering a divide.

    By complaining that people who speak up about justice (say BLM in this case) are being divisive, you’re not really making a meaningful point. What you are doing is broadcasting to the world which side of the divide you’re on. Because only the people who are the bigots would complain about such a divide. The ones on the right side are glad there’s a divide.

  32. utahoutcasts says

    Glad to consider our show as members of this “Outrage Brigade” as well as YouTube atheists.

  33. Akira MacKenzie says

    While I certainly think that atheism needs far better public spokespersons, I’m not ready to abandon the idea of an atheist movement, especially in this era of Donald Trump. In a society where disbelief in a deity or the supernatural is viewed with open contempt, we need someone to represent our rights and political interests as any minority group would.

    In other words, if not assholes like Dawkins, Harris, Silverman, etc all., who is going to speak for us? Do we get to hang separately?

  34. consciousness razor says

    Akira MacKenzie:

    While I certainly think that atheism needs far better public spokespersons, I’m not ready to abandon the idea of an atheist movement, especially in this era of Donald Trump.

    I’m not sure what any of the talk about abandoning it even means. That is, what it is according to the people suggesting that, since I’m well aware of where your talk of it is coming from…. For instance, a recent quote from PZ:

    Atheism has squandered its momentum on a defensive old guard and apologists for neglect of events happening in our world. I’m going to have to suggest that we all abandon it. Let’s find an organization that openly states that they want to dismantle the structures of white supremacy and sexist oppression.

    Take a listen to James Croft. Humanism is a better future.

    I don’t know which “organization” there is to be abandoned here anyway. (American Atheists perhaps? If so, what would they have to do with the topic of that thread?) And it’s not at all clear how something like humanism, or using such a label if that’s all comes down to, is supposed to make any significant difference. There aren’t churchy places everywhere, like James Croft has, so are we just out of luck if we can’t find such a thing?

    Beyond that, it’s not obvious what people are even suggesting in general. I remember asking about it on another thread fairly recently, when this was a dominant theme in the comments (sorry, don’t remember when). I was told by somebody they really only meant to make a personal statement, about which individuals they choose to hang out with in their daily lives (i.e., nice progressive theists, rather than nasty atheists, although presumably many of us aren’t the nasty ones). So, at least for some, it’s apparently not supposed to have any broader political or social implications beyond that; it isn’t a recommendation about what the rest of us ought to do (unlike PZ’s statement above).

    But if we should agree and be convinced to actually do something (whatever “abandoning” consists of), then I still have no idea what that is. I mean, I was already in the habit of not siding with asshole atheists who are racists, sexists, homophobes, glibertarians, etc. — I’ve been doing that for decades, so what exactly I should be doing differently is totally beyond me. I’m not supposed to call myself an atheist anymore? No, not that. I’m not supposed to criticize religions now? No, not that either. I’m not supposed to align with other atheists, to actively promote issues like secularism and science and so forth? No, not that either.

    We should apparently just believe it’s a thing some people say when they’re especially frustrated by their fellow atheists, even though they don’t mean a whole lot by it.

  35. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    @snuffcurry — And reading that, I can safely say that PZ was in the right to question Charly’s humanity. Charly has only himself to blame for that one.

    I would say that:

    1. PZ’s initial response to what Charly actually typed in that first post was perfectly reasonable given the information available to him based on that post alone;
    2a. Based on Charly’s subsequent responses and, in particular, the fact that most of the other commenters on that thread bent over backwards to read him(?) charitably including inserting a lot of positive stuff that just plain wasn’t there in that actual post into their reading, which I note is the exact opposite of the way any comment of mine deemed “questionable” has been handled for the last 12 years or so went to bat for him(?), that PZ’s apology and implicit retraction were also appropriate; and that
    2b. My initial interpretation of PZ’s reaction as a pattern matching error seemed to be on point; and
    3. That Charly whipping it out 5? months later when it wasn’t remotely relevant to, as far as I can tell, merely try and score points, especially in light of all the facts included in 2a, particular the fact that an apology WAS in fact tendered, really undermines my confidence in points 2a and 2b.

  36. David Marjanović says

    but if I disagree with some of his comments, I’m told that I’ve tossed their entire life and work into the shit-can. This is not true, although the defenders of the status quo think it is — that any challenge to any aspect of a Great Leader’s opinions is a black-and-white demonization of everything they’ve ever said.

    I think what’s going on here is that scarily many people see liking or hating people as an all-or-nothing affair: when such people like someone, all their troublesome acts are ignored up to a tipping point, after which they suddenly hate them unrestrictedly. The Blurred One seems to believe you’ve put “Harris, Dawkins, etc” on the bad side of the tipping point and argues you should keep them on the good one, as if those were the only existing options.

    I suspect such people have grown up without siblings. I like and hate individual personality traits, not entire people, perhaps because I couldn’t just walk away from conflict at home but had to live with the people I was quarreling with.

    3. That Charly whipping it out 5? months later when it wasn’t remotely relevant to, as far as I can tell, merely try and score points, especially in light of all the facts included in 2a, particular the fact that an apology WAS in fact tendered, really undermines my confidence in points 2a and 2b.

    I think Charly didn’t mean to score any points, but mentioned it as an example – not a particularly well chosen one, given the baggage that comes with it. Also, an apology is a magic ritual to undo the past – I can’t speak for Charly, but I wouldn’t want magic rituals, I’d want understanding, and evidence for a lack of understanding is exactly what Charly complains about (…as a digression from the example, all still in the same paragraph).

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