The contradictions of anti-SJW atheists laid bare


The latest atheist scandal: Michael Sherlock, executive director of Atheist Alliance International, was a bit less than professional on Twitter. He called religion “retarded”, and when told that word has a lot of baggage, escalated the argument and ended up calling a woman a “cunt”. This has led to the organization suspending him without pay for one month, which seems like a reasonable rebuke to me, and the process leading to that punishment seems fair, as well. Atheist organizations have had a bit of trouble with poorly behaved leaders lately, so it’s a good idea to set standards and enforce them. If anything, the punishment was too light for an action that led to three board members announcing their resignation, and the Atheist Foundation of Australia severing their ties to AAI. I get the impression that Sherlock has been an antagonizing figure at AAI, especially given that they had recently appointed and then fired David Silverman.

Except…now Sherlock has become the newest cause célèbre for all those anti-SJW folks who are outraged at consequences — you know, what they’re calling “cancel culture”. Any effort to clean their room and tell the paid professionals who are supposed to be running the show to stand up straight is met with petulant whining from the spoiled children who otherwise adore people like Jordan Peterson. How dare you expect them to behave?

The funniest reaction comes from Atheists for Liberty, which claims that social justice is destroying atheist groups. To which I have to say, if they oppose social justice, let them be destroyed, along with the Catholic church and Islamic fundamentalism, two things they typically oppose for their lack of justice. Their rant is written by Justin Vacula, a terrible person with the same sensibilities as Sherlock, apparently, and he is mad about everything.

David Silverman was innocent, he suggests, his accuser was “screaming”, and the #metoo movement opposes due process. He takes a few swipes at me, too, calling me social justice warrior PZ Myers who remains out of favor (wait, what? I was “cancelled”, and he’s fine with that?), citing a pair of wankers, Michael Nugent and Hemant Mehta, to justify that. So apparently women and PZ Myers can be cancelled, but no, not his regressive little buddies.

But here’s the real meat of the complaint:

The intrusion of social justice and woke ideology into atheist circles continues. To name just one example of many, Alex DiBranco spoke at the Secular Student Alliance’s 2020 National Convention, where she argued for “a feminist humanist approach” to “contest white, male, and cisgendered supremacism” saying, “the organized secular/atheist movement has over-emphasized opposition to religion or the belief in a god for its own sake, rather than prioritizing the problem of harm posed to social justice from any direction.”

Atheists for Liberty stands against destructive social justice entryism and the overblown response to an atheist activist calling religion a “retarded relic.” Atheists for Liberty instead prioritizes the free exchange of ideas, individual liberties, religious freedom (including non-belief), Enlightenment values, and secular government.

I think I like this Alex DiBranco. Yes, any atheist movement should fully embrace feminism and humanism, and seek to expand their remit to embrace human social values. Anything less and you collapse into the black hole of conservative insularity and a mob of smug men patting themselves on the back for being enlightened. You get creatures like Trump and Boris Johnson, amoral exploiters and abusers. Any movement that seeks to make fundamental changes in society, like the removal of the influence of religion, is fundamentally not conservative, and to succeed and gather influence must adopt a progressive stance — these libertarian, right-wing atheists are doomed to implode in contradictions. Social justice is the only thing that can save atheism, while it’s people like those at Atheists for Liberty that are destroying it.

To quote Amanda Marcotte:

The moral is there is no leftism that can function coherently without anti-racism and feminism at its center. What is obvious now — anti-government sentiment was just opposition to government showing any interest in equality — was always obvious to “social justice warriors”.

You’re saying now that atheism is not leftism, but I’ll reply that it should be. In this era when western civilization is clearly sick and capitalism has exposed itself as a Ponzi scheme, no viable philosophy can afford to ignore reality and pretend that these right-wing sympathizers are anything but a poison pill for progress.

Comments

  1. kome says

    Seems like a lot of atheists want all the benefits of being in the dominant religious cultural group without all the baggage of being expected to attend religious services, say their prayers before bedtime, and tithing. Seems like organized atheism these days is just lazy religion.

    It is also interesting to see how quiet a lot of folk in the atheist movement are about sex abuses and cover-ups by the church – one of the main talking points against all organized religion in the 2000s if I remember correctly – now that so many leaders in atheist organizations have become embroiled in their own sex abuse scandals in the past decade. And here I thought atheist organizations took the stance that raping people and protecting rapists was a bad thing.

  2. DexX says

    Oh shit! What’s Hemant Mehta done? I’ve been a big out of touch with atheism stuff for a few years, but I thought he was one of the good guys. It’ll be disappointing if he’s turned into a dickhole…

  3. Artor says

    Hemant is, as his blog declares, the Friendly Atheist. He is friendly with all sorts in his comment section, including mobs of MRAs and anti-SJWs who congregate there, free from moderation.

  4. scarter00 says

    What does calling a woman a cunt, or throwing around the word “retarded”, have to do with “free exchange of ideas”? In all honesty, I’m baffled by the claim. I probably shouldn’t expect anything better from the anti-SJW brigade at this point, but every single time, I’m astounded by just how absurd it is.

  5. says

    Hemant is a bit of a toady who values his connections to the Big Dudes of Atheism too much to actually have any values.

  6. raven says

    Atheism is easy.
    Atheism is the low hanging fruit.

    The gods don’t exist.
    We see a universe where the gods are nowhere and do nothing.
    There is zero evidence for the existence of gods.

    No one these days deserves much credit for stating the obvious.

    Social Justice, on the other hand, is hard.
    It’s a far more pervasive and important problem than pointing out the obvious about the gods.
    Powerful forces of the 1% oligarchy have been pushing us backwards lately.
    Up to and including armed federal thugs being sent into our cities to attack US citizens.
    It’s also far more important than just atheism.
    Maximizing Social Justice effects the lives of most people, every second of their life for the best.

  7. says

    Cripes, even if they don’t believe in Social Justice, is it so hard to simply be polite and civil? It’s like watching high school teens trying to prove something to themselves and society, failing at everything except setting a bad impression.

    I’ve been there, done that, grew out of it. What’s taking them so long?

  8. William George says

    He called religion “retarded”, and when told that word has a lot of baggage, escalated the argument and ended up calling a woman a “cunt”.

    “Question not the atheist penis-haver!”

  9. Matt G says

    Intransitive@6- The past few years have really laid bare how many spoiled children there are running around and posing as adults.

  10. says

    There’s a certain kind of person for whom liberalism or atheism always meant “anything goes”. For them, for example, feminism meant that women would always be receptive to their advances, they felt the same way about LGBT people as the worst conservatives did but supported queer people anyway in order to be hip and edgy. They also supported African-American civil rights on the assumption that black people would never think of sharing their own aspirations (that is, move into their neighborhoods).

    Now that feminism has given women the encouragement to say no, now that it turns out that queer people have shown themselves to be people with values who are nothing like what John Waters promised and that POC want to be full and equal citizens on their own terms they’ve all gone a bit nuts.

    I say good riddance. At least we have a better idea of who we can count on when things get worse.

  11. llyris says

    They don’t actually want to move away from religion. They want the benefits of privilege that has been conferred upon them by hundreds of years of religion.
    If you want to discard religion you actually need to examine the thoughts, doctrines, beliefs. You really cannot discard religion while keeping every belief except ‘sky fairy’.
    Why are women inferior (as an example)? It’s because sky fairy said so. How can anyone reject the notion of sky fairy and yet not question the worldview dictated by sky fairy??!

  12. raven says

    He takes a few swipes at me, too, calling me social justice warrior PZ Myers who remains out of favor (wait, what? I was “cancelled”, and he’s fine with that?),

    That is OK.
    Being canceled by creeps like the Intellectual Dork Web (Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris) and the Loonytarian lunatic fringe is a high honor.
    And one shared by millions of people, including myself.
    There are a lot of socially disadvantaged people in the USA, explaining the current outbreak of protests.

    I was a Social Justice Warrior and a xian for decades before I became an atheistic Pagan.
    I have a lot more in common with SJW xians than with the right wingnut atheists.

  13. raven says

    Right wingnut atheist: The gods don’t exist.
    True.
    And you get a cookie for figuring that out.
    And that is all you deserve.

    Atheism activism fights the damage that religion causes, which is worth something.
    A huge amount of that damage is due to religion being part of the current power structure!!!
    The fundies attack science, education, children, nonwhites, gays, nonxians, women, etc.. and support the 1% oligarchy to promote economic inequality.
    They are the key part of the GOP base.

    You can’t really separate the harm religion causes from the harm authoritarian right wingnut politics causes.
    In a lot of cases, they are one and the same.

  14. Samuel Vimes says

    @Artor
    “He is friendly with all sorts in his comment section, including mobs of MRAs and anti-SJWs who congregate there, free from moderation.”

    Literally not a word of any of that is factual. MRAs and those using ‘SJW’ as a pejorative are few and far between and when they do come out from under their rocks are promptly dog-piled by the regulars. Comments that are beyond the pale regulars will flag and they do get removed.

  15. mailliw says

    Cripes, even if they don’t believe in Social Justice, is it so hard to simply be polite and civil?

    If you don’t believe in social justice then you threw politeness and civility, not to mention democracy, out of the window a long time ago.

  16. ORigel says

    I think calling Hemant Mehta a “wanker” is too strong (he is liberal), but I see where you are coming from with that: he should moderate his damned comment section.

  17. ORigel says

    However, the big offender there is Tippling Philosopher. It has been overrun by trolls including literal Nazis. Friendly Atheist is rarely overrun by the trolls.

  18. Matt G says

    I’m a regular at Friendly Atheist, and virtually every other regular is a “SJW.” Samuel@12 describes it well. Yes, once in a while one of the hosts is too kind to Richard Dawkins, Pinker, Krauss, Harris, and the other pricks who give atheism a bad name. There is a good gender balance there, and a disproportionately large number are LGBTQ+.

  19. Artor says

    @Sam Vimes, that is counter to my personal experience, and the reason I stopped reading his blog several years ago. If he’s cleaned the place up since then, good for him.

  20. Samuel Vimes says

    @Artor
    Well, then we’ve battling recollections, because your description is counter to my personal experience of several years, as well. You may or may not remember me from there under the nom de keyboard of CanuckAmuck.

  21. says

    I agree with Artor. I also abandoned the place several years ago — every time I looked in the comments, it was a pigpile of slymers and anti-feminists. Part of it might have been that my name was a magnet for those assholes to show up and start pointing and shrieking, but I was unimpressed about how little Mehta cared about their behavior, and how he actually contributed to it.

    So fuck him.

  22. says

    Oh, also the ads. Jesus. Patheos was our ad server, when we had them, and they were intolerably intrusive. They’re worse at Patheos itself.

  23. Sean Boyd says

    Apologies for the derail here, but this is tangentially related in that it involves social justice. Mathematician Eugenia Cheng has published a new book, called x+y, in which she talks about gender related issues and potential mechanisms for eliminating the tyranny of lumping people into fixed gender roles. Haven’t read it yet (just came out last week in the UK) but she has an interesting way of looking at things (her first book, How to Bake Pi, was an application of category theory to baking.) It might be worth a read.

  24. Matt G says

    In the past ~24 hours, there have been three pro-LGBTQ+ posts at Friendly Atheist. We care about honesty, right? If you are going to comment on the culture of that blog and those who post comments there, make sure you’re describing what’s real. The simple way to do this is to go over there, THEN post comments about what you find. Remember: we are supposed to be the ones who care about intellectual honesty.

  25. unclefrogy says

    @13
    for some rebelling against religion is about rejecting the “authority” of religion after they realized that there are no all powerful gods any where it was just religion telling them what to do. They want to do what they want without anyone telling them what to do at all.
    since there are no gods to enforce the rules in a life after death its, ” F. U. you can’t tell me what to do or how to talk!”
    They are the embodiment of “the rugged individual” not rejecting the idea of authority just someone else’s. It looks like they are not very good at forming stable supportive groups I am kind of amazed that they can form any at all.
    the idea that everyone should get a say and is of any kind of equal value is a so foreign as to be seen as a threat to their authority and hence their license which it is because liberty for all is too much.
    uncle frogy

  26. says

    @16 You’re thinking of Terry Firma, who is the classic example of “Liberalism means we have to shut off our minds and never say no to anyone”-type of liberal. He’s more interested in scoring cool guy points than he is in actually settling matters. And if those points require selling out or spreading FUD about liberal values, who cares? He needs to be a cool, open-minded and totally non-judgemental dude. Firma’s far from the only one on Patheos, though.

    A possible upside to Trump’s presidency is that we on the left are finally starting to see how poisonous our nostalgia for hippies and radical leftists has been and we’re starting to see the benefit of directly facing the opposition with practical ideas.

  27. consciousness razor says

    Except…now Sherlock has become the newest cause célèbre for all those anti-SJW folks who are outraged at consequences — you know, what they’re calling “cancel culture”.

    I don’t think it would make people on any side of this happy, if it were just about any consequences whatsoever, no matter how big or how small. The real issues are about which consequences we should think are appropriate/warranted/proportionate in various circumstances. And a position like “consequences? yes, please” is just not informative, much less helpful. Even if the people you identify as your “opponents” on this are utterly deranged or are otherwise dropping the ball, that’s no reason not to engage with those issues yourself.

    Any effort to clean their room and tell the paid professionals who are supposed to be running the show to stand up straight is met with petulant whining from the spoiled children who otherwise adore people like Jordan Peterson. How dare you expect them to behave?

    I guess you probably didn’t mean to imply that they’re “supposed to be running the show.” My sarcasm detector has been borked for a while now. It was always sort of buggy, but the last several months of pure insanity haven’t helped….

    When these giant organizations (or political parties, etc.) actually stand for things like democracy and socialism, then you might be able to think they’ve got more than just some empty words/gestures to offer. But then, it should be poor people (AKA most people) running the show, not a special class of so-called “professionals” and “leaders.” I’m sure the Ivy League folks could find other “work” for themselves, and I doubt I would miss their “contribution” to the cause for even a moment.

    Social justice is the only thing that can save atheism, while it’s people like those at Atheists for Liberty that are destroying it.

    Not so easy to interpret this. I don’t think a belief system about the nonexistence of gods needs to be saved from destruction by a nebulous leftist buzzword. Even if it can’t “save atheism” (whatever that means), we should still have those types of political values/goals, because they’re the right ones independently of any considerations like that.

  28. says

    Don’t bother trying to persuade me to revisit Friendly Atheist. I had enough experience with his behavior towards me to be convinced he’s an asshole, and don’t feel any need to pay further attention to him.

  29. ORigel says

    @22 The Friendly Atheist community may be progressive now, but it may have been different several years ago when the blog was more popular.

    I don’t know. It was before my time.

  30. ORigel says

    The Friendly Atheist community is progressive now, with a few trolls that do not take over the comment section like before. If you want to see that, you’d have to go to Tippling.

    Hemant Mehta hasn’t learned, though; the trolls have just moved and some still hang out at FA including the Sanderson guy accusing PZ of rape.

  31. Allison says

    llyris @9

    Why are women inferior (as an example)? It’s because sky fairy said so.

    I’d say it’s the other way around. Sky fairy (allegedly) said so because his (gender intentional) handlers (clerics, etc.) want him to. Sky fairy is an MCP because his prophets are MCPs so the god they invented is an MCP, too.

    Virtually everything in religion — good and bad — is stuff their leaders and/or members believe or want, projected onto a supernatural being. As they say, “man made God in his own image.”

    That’s why getting rid of belief in a deity doesn’t actually make people any better, any more than believing in a deity does. People who were decent people when they believed in a God remain decent people when they deconvert. Assholes who become atheists remain assholes.

  32. bionichips says

    Are we really as bad as the most fundamentalist of religions where if you do not agree the doctrine 100% you are evil? Sadly that is what I see here as part of the culture.

    I am as strong an anti-theist as you will find , social and economically left at 4/5 and I am deeply disturbed by the dissent/disagreement is not to be tolerated – it is all or nothing.

    Friendly Atheist is now persona non grata because he has chosen a different method to interact outside the bubble of his belief? I obviously don’t know what Hemant said to upset PZ and he may have just cause to be persona non grata with PZ personally but at some point we need to recognize we do have allies that may not agree with us 100% but they are on our side and we should not alienate them. Respectfully disagree but do not assign evil motives

  33. says

    Oh gods, Vacula is still around? That human shaped flatulence was annoying already years ago.
    Yeah, apparently if somebody was ever popular, or you liked them and read what they wrote, bought their books or elected them, you are no longer allowed to criticise them, change your mind, taste or opinion on them. You must uncritically applaud whatever they say and take whatever abuse they’re throwing at you, because if you dare to criticise them or even just no longer give them your money, you are worse than Stalin and Hitler together.

  34. Louis says

    Sanderson? Vacula? We’re a Hoggling away from a full set.

    This crap was futile, depressing, and genuinely a revelation in how disappointing supposedly “rational” humans could be last time (and the time before and the time before and the…).

    Ah well. It’s nice they have something important* to do.

    Louis

    *I probably need to spell out this is sarcasm don’t I?

  35. says

    @31 I think that “not agree %100” bit is kind of disingenuous. If a person supports universal health care, better and more equitable public school funding, reduced CO2 emissions and spreads the notion that transwomen are an Illuminati/Soros/Clinton-sponsored rape gang, then I’m rather leery about dismissing that last bit as “one little thing” or “Hey, it’s not %100 agreement, but…” as far too many alleged liberals do.

  36. says

    Here’s one example of the kind of shit Hemant pulls, allying himself with Michael Nugent and describing the Slymepit as an online forum that frequently criticizes and mocks him and is populated by people he deems trolls. Like I said, fuck him.

  37. unclefrogy says

    at some point we need to recognize we do have allies that may not agree with us 100% but they are on our side and we should not alienate them.

    to do that we first need to ask ourselves what is it that we “stand for”? What are the principles that are important fundamental to our understanding of existence?
    The fundamental equality of all people, is not up for compromise. racism, misogyny, are not tolerable to any degree, regardless of the any attempts at rationalization or delaying arguments. there are fundamental principles that are important enough that they do not get compromised.
    gods or not!
    uncle frogy

  38. says

    To those defending Hemant — He happily bans regulars and won’t do a damn thing about trolls. I got banned because a troll impersonated me and Terry Firma (who has a personal vendetta against me for some reason) used it as an opportunity to get rid of someone he hates. Hemant won’t do shit to help.

  39. ORigel says

    @34 I’d happily take that person’s vote for a Democrat, but if I had a blog I would ban them from the comments.

  40. says

    @38, Well, so would I, especially this year. But, what I would most emphatically not do is soft-pedal talk about trans equality because of such a person. If a person really wanted to sacrifice reproductive choice, voting rights, protection from spousal sexual assault, economic liberty and so much more because they just can’t stand transwomen – and who’d run to the Alt-Right podcast circuit claiming persecution and talking about how much better liberals used to be – then their support on other matters probably wasn’t that strong anyway.

  41. captainjack says

    @ Susan Montgomery
    “…we on the left are finally starting to see how poisonous our nostalgia for hippies and radical leftists has been and we’re starting to see the benefit of directly facing the opposition with practical ideas.”

    You have a remarkably naive and ignorant (mis)understanding of history.

    #1. Who’s “we” and why do you get to decide?
    #2. Whose “nostalgia” are you talking about? Not mine. But then that’s memory for me, not history.
    #3. Which “radical left” are you talking about? Trotskyites? Marxists? Maoists? SDS? Weathermen? VVAW?
    #4. Is collective action an impractical idea? It’s been a mainstay of progressive movements in the U.S. for ~150 years. (Look up Railroad Strike of 1877, Homestead Strike, Pullman Strike)
    #5. What’s a “hippy” and where did you get that idea?

  42. Pierce R. Butler says

    Hemant Mehta does supply one of the most consistent venues for exposure of nasty/dumb stuff emitted from pulpits.

    Low-hanging fruit, to be sure, but a necessary function in the atheosphere. If he and his crew closed up shop, where else (this is a sincere question) could we go to find comparable reportage?

    Longtime FreethoughtBlogs & ScienceBlogs readers reminder: Ed Brayton still posts intermittently at patheos, though serious health problems seem to block him from writing as often or in as much depth as he once did here and at SB.

  43. consciousness razor says

    Adding to captainjack’s #40, those on the “non-radical left” either have no ideas or won’t even practice what little they do preach. Plus, they lose all sorts of elections, when all they have to do is beat the bottom-feeding assholes the Republicans dredge up, so you can’t even count on them to keep the seat warm for someone who will actually do something with it eventually. I’ll be generous and give them 1/10 points, for trying to pretend they have “practical ideas.” It could have been 0/10, so you can’t legitimately complain about it this way, because a worse option exists.

    Also, if there’s an upside and “we” are starting to see direct benefits of some kind, then what’s that about? It would be refreshing to hear a little good news, if there is any. But I hate to break it to you: Joe Biden is the presumptive presidential nominee…. He’s a “non-radical” with “practical ideas,” who could be considered “progressive” if you just recently arrived from the 1950s, and nobody but him and his friends have any nostalgia about his awful record which led to where we are now. On top of that, blaming random shit on hippies is a very Joe Biden thing to do, so he seems to fit the bill perfectly. I still just waiting to hear about the directly beneficial part.

  44. consciousness razor says

    Low-hanging fruit, to be sure, but a necessary function in the atheosphere. If he and his crew closed up shop, where else (this is a sincere question) could we go to find comparable reportage?

    I would’ve asked why you want it, but since you say it’s necessary, this is a harder question for you: why is that needed?

  45. rorschach says

    Did I fall into some time warp contraption that spit me out in 2011? Next we’ll be going over the girl from Ohio what was her name’s latest blog posts? Nugent, really? Louis tweeted today that Atheism – won anyway, so why are they complaining. Good point, all the Atheism+ people seem to have moved on.

  46. Pierce R. Butler says

    consciousness razor @ # 46: … why is that needed?

    Why should anybody bother to point out, say, Trump’s lies and crimes? Why make any fuss about anything nutty or nasty?

    What, us worry?

  47. rorschach says

    @49 give us Hair, Woodstock and an idea of what life could be like without neocon vultures? 490 out of 500 companies in the SP500 have not made gains since March. These hippies accomplished a vision for a better world I’d say, but obviously now we’re in fascist hell.

  48. consciousness razor says

    Pierce, #48, those aren’t reasons.

    You also said that the low-hanging fruit was “nasty/dumb stuff emitted from pulpits,” which is not Trump’s lies and crimes, nor is it just any old nutty or nasty thing.

    I figure that lots can reach it (including you and me, at least on our good days), precisely because it’s low-hanging. So why would the sphere have that particular need?

    I realize that he can build up a following for himself by doing it (as many have … bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, etc.), but that’s not a necessary thing either.

  49. consciousness razor says

    What did the hippies and radicals actually accomplish?

    They weren’t in power. People like LBJ and Nixon were. They accomplished quite a few things, for better or worse.

  50. Rob Grigjanis says

    Susan Montgomery @49: I’d say the 60s counterculture made a significant contribution to ending the Vietnam War.

  51. Louis says

    Rorschach @47,

    I did no such thing. I was never there. You can’t bloody prove it.

    Okay you probably can.

    Anyway, I did think it was All Our Yesterdays. Nostalgic ain’t it?

    Louis

  52. ORigel says

    @41 where else could we go to find comparable reportage? Right Wing Watch. Mehta gets much of his post material from that site.

  53. raven says

    What did the hippies and radicals actually accomplish?

    FFS, this is cosmically stupid.
    I can tell that you weren’t there, weren’t even born yet, and have zero idea what the modern Dark Ages were like.

    They basically created what is good is good about everything up to today, 7/22/2020.
    I was there.
    Born into a semi-rural, dead end, blue collar culture with no future.
    Everyone was expected to get married, get pregnant (often in the reverse order), and work at hard jobs until they died relatively young.
    To numb themselves, heavy drinking was common and accepted.
    For excitement, we worried about the Cold war turning into the Nuclear Disaster.
    Conformity to 1950’s culture was ruthlessly enforced.
    Being a nonwhite, non-male, non-xian, non-cis het meant you were at the very bottom of the social ladder forever.

    Then the 1960’s happened.
    I went to college and majored in science, unthinkable for someone like me growing up where I did.
    There were women, gay, nonwhite, nonxian liberation movements that are still going strong in 2020.
    Diversity is recognized, not suppressed. Peace is recognized as a desirable state.

  54. says

    From the atheists for liberty link.
    “…a handful of Twitter users launched attacks on Michael Sherlock and Atheist Alliance International…”
    What attacks? Hand grenades?

    “…yet another episode of call-out culture and cancel culture in which many waving the flag of woke social justice aim to, by proxy, inflict “accountability and consequences” upon a new ‘witch of the week.’…”
    Two political pejoratives unconnected to specific behavior, and a reference to a “witch hunt” also unconnected to specific behavior.

    …going nuclear…
    What’s “nuclear”?

    “…manufacturing controversy, playing victim…
    Screaming at an interviewer and regularly interrupting…”
    A link to a 173 min podcast instead of cited examples.

    “…the #metoo mob who opposes due process and presumption of innocence, has also infested atheist circles, with many believing that as little as a touch on one’s back, like in this case, is sexual assault and should lead someone to be fired.”
    What “mob activity”?
    Oooooo, “infestation”….
    And no respect for personal boundaries, I don’t care if it’s a touch on the back.
    What opposition to legal norms? As usual this likely connects to public criticism and not to any actual legal situation.

    “…toxic social justice activism continues, through call-out culture and cancel culture…”
    More political pejoratives and simple insults.

    “…intrusion of social justice and woke ideology…”
    “Woke ideology” is a new political pejorative, or seems to be more common now. I never see people who complain like this show the “ideology”.

    “…destructive social justice entryism and the overblown response…”
    What destruction?
    Is it windy? Because “overblown” doesn’t tell me anything useful.

  55. says

    sez bionichips @31: “Are we really as bad as the most fundamentalist of religions where if you do not agree the doctrine 100% you are evil? Sadly that is what I see here as part of the culture.”

    I’ve noticed that when someone complains about how bad and evil it is to censor/deplatform/whatever “dissenting views”, and they don’t bother to provide any details about the content of the “dissenting views” which are allegedly being censored/deplatformed/whatever, it generally turns out that the “dissenting views” are somewhere firmly within the alt-Reich-to-outright-Nazi spectrum. And since good old Steersman is apparently still able to stick up Friendly Atheist… let’s just say that you’re not doing a real creat job of providing a counterexample, bionichips.

  56. raven says

    … with many believing that as little as a touch on one’s back, like in this case, is sexual assault and should lead someone to be fired.”

    Maybe not always leading to getting fired.

    But really, how hard is it to figure out that…”you don’t touch people you don’t know without their permission!!!”
    If you don’t know this, it is within the grasp of anyone to learn it starting right now.

  57. Pierce R. Butler says

    consciousness razor @ # 49: … those aren’t reasons.

    Connecting dots too much trouble for you?

    So why would the sphere have that particular need?

    To quote some obscure ranter from somewhere:

    Any movement that seeks to make fundamental changes in society, like the removal of the influence of religion… no viable philosophy can afford to ignore reality and pretend that these right-wing sympathizers are anything but a poison pill for progress.

    Or would you rather see movement atheism either disappear or continue on claims of moral/social superiority without deigning to even contemplate the continuing harms from the forces it (at best) opposes?

    Fwlil, I just took a look at Friendly Atheist’s current front page. It has 13 stories: 5 concerning gender issues (including abortion rights), 1 on racism, 2 on the c-virus, 1 on Catholic pedophilia, 1 on evangelical Trumpismo: apparently all distinguish the good guys from the bad using the same criteria most of us would here. (NB: I didn’t, and hardly ever, bother with the comments, so I do not disagree with the (probably well-justified) critique of our esteemed host.)

    As I prefer to keep up-to-date on these and other issues, regarding which so much religious influence pushes in the wrong direction, and I don’t have time, energy, or inclination to do daily searches on each topic, I find Mehta provides a convenient one-stop blog that lets me feel I at least haven’t missed a lot of the most egregious damage done daily by organized superstition in the USA. Please don’t tell me this stuff doesn’t matter – tell me where I can find a better source of such information, and I doubt I will ever virtually darken Hemant Mehta’s door again.

  58. Pierce R. Butler says

    Thanks to Origel @ # 55 & WMDKitty… @ # 59 for concrete and useful recommendations!

  59. davidj says

    Hemant Mehta’s comments on this issue seem pretty similar to Myers’.
    From here:
    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/07/15/leader-of-atheist-alliance-international-doubles-down-on-use-of-offensive-slur/

    “Then again, this is the same group that hired an alleged sexual predator (only to have him resign months later). It’s a group whose board includes a man who belittles his critics when they raised serious concerns about misogyny and inappropriate sexual conduct.
    ……
    In any case, I can’t support their work when this is what their leaders are doing. It’s just embarrassing. There are other (larger, better, newer) groups that help atheists around the world that I have no problem promoting, whatever our disagreements may be.

    People should give generously to those organizations. I can’t say the same about AAI.”

  60. DanDare says

    I always find this issue vexing.
    How do you build toward the best while travelling with those who have obvious bad spots in their idea of best?
    How do you test your own idea of best to find your own bad spots?
    How do you identify betrayers who pretend to make the right noises and tell them appart from the sincere who have a blind spot?
    Does having a laid out goal help? How flexible can that goal be to adjustment for fixing errors in it without it being easy to hijack?

  61. says

    @56 And, in classic, *l’esprit de l’escalier * fashion, the thought occurs that the things you mention are purely superficial. Sure, we can go shopping in PJ’s and not having shaved in a week and we have a wide variety of lethal sedatives (again, thanks to the hippies) but the fundamental structures of power haven’t budged a smegging inch towards improvement. Since the hippies made cynical disengagement and hedonism primary values, the really bad things have only gotten worse.

  62. raven says

    Susan Montgomery, the hopeless idiot.
    @56 Given the scarcity of good in the world today, you’ve kind of proven my point.

    No you just proved my point.
    You might have been ignorant which if fixable.
    You are clearly stupid which unfortunately isn’t.
    You will go through life unaware, unable to find new information, and unable to assimilate it.
    Sucks to be you.

    As bad as things are now, they were far, far worse in the 1950’s!!!
    I explained it but you can’t read for comprehension either.

  63. Pierce R. Butler says

    Susan Montgomery @ # 66: … we have a wide variety of lethal sedatives (again, thanks to the hippies) …

    Hippies run pharmaceutical corporations? Ya learn hear something every day.

    … the hippies made cynical disengagement and hedonism primary values…

    The lead characters, and their real-life counterparts, from Mad Men were hippies? I was stoned and I missed it!

  64. says

    @67 It’s awesome being me, it’s just that almost everyone around me sucks.

    Alright, you very naughty boy, explain to me how things have gotten better. Is wealth more or less concentrated? Are black people no longer targeted for police violence? Are gays or women? Does the system take crimes against minorities seriously? Things have gotten better, sure, but most of that is “on paper”. Yeah, we’ve abolished some laws and made new ones, had a lot of cultural tokens. That’s it. The same systems that the hippies claimed to oppose are still in existence and vastly worse.

    And yeah, let’s talk about the evils of conformity. After four years of watching the US president behave like a drunken frat rat, maybe we see the value in the decorum we’ve always sneered at?

  65. says

    @68 I’m actually talking about the free love which spread VD like wildfire and the weed, heroin and LSD they were justly famous for. I think you’re too smart to pretend to be that stupid.

  66. captainjack says

    Raven @ #56
    “They basically created what is good is good about everything up to today, 7/22/2020.”
    Yeaaah, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s seems clear to me having lived through it that there was a great number of people who, having got to college, were free of parental control and decided not to go along with the social order. It was the end of colleges and universties acting “in loco parentis”.

    When I was a first year at a large state university in Ohio in 1967, we were expected to wear little beanies called “dinks” so the upperclasses could harass us. It didn’t work. If you wore one, your peers would harrass you. Women had to be in at 11 on weeknights and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Men could stay out until 1 am. Practically, I was never bed checked, though the women I knew were, sometimes. Over the next few years, they had so much trouble enforcing curfew, they gave it up.

    There were a lot of reasons for the change, the Vietnam War being one. A lot of men went to college to get a deferment. Otherwise, they would have gotten jobs at the local factory, probably moved out of their parents’ house, and would have been free to do as they liked. They brought that attitude with them and, since they mostly didn’t care about education, there wasn’t much the adminstration could do. Very few of those people were either hippies or far left radicals, though I did know a few Black Panthers. Another factor was the availability of effective contraception. Hardly the product of hippies or far left radicals.

    That’s all got me thinking about this for some reason. Must have fired a neuron.

    And I don’t mind the scene at Mehta’s. I don’t read the comments and the news items are worth quick look.

  67. Timothy Hamilton says

    If the misogyny, homophobia, racism, and transphobia of traditional and not so traditional religion, ethics, law, and politics are a consequence of certain metaphysical prejudices, then if those metaphysical prejudices are no longer sustainable other than through violence and intimidation, then policies, practices, rituals, and institutions that find their raison d’être in those indefensible prejudices also lack support, justification, and value, to the extent that each of us values understanding, compassion, and inquiry.

  68. raven says

    Susan the troll:

    …the thought occurs that the things you mention are purely superficial.

    Susan M. is to use a 60’s term, mind blowingly stupid or perhaps lying, or maybe both.
    No they weren’t superficial.
    The Vietnam War?
    Fuck you idiot.
    I knew people killed in that war which killed 56,000 Americans and a million Vietnamese, was an early anti-war activist, it cost me a lot, and was a price I was glad to pay.

    Civil rights for women, nonwhites, and LGBT’s among others.
    You benefit from them while being unaware that you even have those rights due to the efforts and sacrifices of millions of brave people.
    The various civil rights laws weren’t even passed until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
    Birth control was legalized in 1965 and abortion in 1973, making a huge difference in the lives of women.

    but the fundamental structures of power haven’t budged a smegging inch towards improvement.

    Yeah they have.
    In the mid 20th century, women and nonwhites holding elected office were about as common as talking dogs and looked upon the same way.

    This is what cosmic stupidly looks like.
    Susan hasn’t learned the First Rule of Holes.
    When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is…stop digging!!!

  69. says

    “In the mid 20th century, women and nonwhites holding elected office were about as common as talking dogs and looked upon the same way.”

    And the fact that Trump still has a better-than-even chance of winning and stalwart support of the GOP and the business community doesn’t make you think that you’re simply discussing window dressing?

  70. says

    @71 You bring up a point that I hadn’t considered. How much of the counterculture was “real” and how much did people who cared about getting their freak on and nothing else influence the ultimate failure of the counterculture?

  71. raven says

    Very few of those people were either hippies or far left radicals, though I did know a few Black Panthers.

    Hippies is such a vague term that no one can really define it.
    Which doesn’t matter in the least.
    The whole hippie,New Left, civil rights, anti-war, anti-status quo, human liberation movements sort of blended together into a major cultural change.
    You can be more than one thing and most people are many things throughout their life.

    Another factor was the availability of effective contraception. Hardly the product of hippies or far left radicals.

    True, modern contraception is a product of medical science.
    But that isn’t the point
    The fact that it is even legal was a major advance that was finally definitively achieved in 1965 with Griswold versus Connecticut.
    The youth movement contributed the idea that sex wasn’t sick and evil, virginity was not an important virture, and sex was not only reserved for married people.
    Ideas that we take for granted today were considered cutting edge radical in the 1960’s.

  72. captainjack says

    Susan Mointgomery @ #66 & #70
    “Since the hippies made cynical disengagement and hedonism primary values, the really bad things have only gotten worse.”

    (Shaking my head sadly.)
    No, those were mostly the beatniks, especially the heroin. And many people besides “hippies” (meaningless label) used/use cannabis, now legal in many states. I expect LSD will also be de-stigmatized, though how soon? Also used by non-hippies. (For background, look up Nixon’s War on Drugs.) And once really effective and convenient contraception was available, it wasn’t just “hippies” fucking. (Have you been taking hippie punching lessons from David Brooks?)

    Your obsessions are as virulent as The Vicar’s. You should read some books on mid-20th Century U.S. history. Your ideas are really distorted. And you never answered my questions.

  73. raven says

    When I was a first year at a large state university in Ohio in 1967, we were expected to wear little beanies called “dinks”..

    LOL.
    At least someone remembers how weird and dismal the mid-20th century was.

    At my university, my friend was told she didn’t belong in the class of one professor.
    Her crime was being pregnant.
    What being pregnant had to do with going to class is still beyond me.

  74. says

    @77 No True Hippie?

    I didn’t answer your questions because there were no questions to answer, really. Mostly just whining about Biden. And, while I’m sure whatever he’s got up his sleeve is incredibly boring, it’s more likely to be implemented than “We should, like, give everyone, like, random middle names so we’re all like together, man….” or some other nonsense.

  75. captainjack says

    raven @ #76
    “The youth movement contributed the idea that sex wasn’t sick and evil, virginity was not an important virture, and sex was not only reserved for married people.”

    Well, Hugh Hefner had the same kinds of ideas, though his were mostly about male freedom, and fantasy. “The youth movement” harbored a lot of male chauvinists, too.

  76. ORigel says

    @74 On the contrary, Trump’s chances of winning are dwindling thanks to the coronavirus and the looming economic catastrophe. Biden has a chance of winning by a landslide.

  77. says

    @80 That’s the thing. The Sexual Revolution was mostly about guys getting laid. Any feminism that might have crept in was kept out, save for anything that would make women less “uptight”. Janet learning to embrace sexuality after being repeatedly raped by Frank N Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show is pretty much in line with counterculture attitudes about women.

  78. Samuel Vimes says

    @ORigel
    It is a flat-out lie that that Richard Sanderson dipwad hangs out as FA. He’ll show up seemingly randomly and and when he does is invariably mocked and derided by those who haven’t yet blocked him.

  79. captainjack says

    Susan Montgomery
    @ #75 & #82
    The “counterculture” was a label made up to sell magazines and other stuff. The counterculture didn’t fail because it wasn’t a thing in the first place.
    @ #79
    Vous passe mal. I said nothing about Biden. You’re confusing me with someone else.
    @ #82
    Can you really only think in labels and cliches? Can’t you see past the surface of anything? Was “The Second Sex” really “mostly about guys getting laid”. If “The Sexual Revolution” was about any one thing, it was the idea that everyone has the right to moral and physical autonomy, including defining one’s own gender.

    I’m tired of chewing on you. You’re head’s too hard and my teeth hurt. I’m going to skip your disingenuous ego promenades hereafter.

  80. consciousness razor says

    I didn’t answer your questions because there were no questions to answer, really. Mostly just whining about Biden.

    I was the one who brought up Biden, not captainjack.

    I will note that, in addition to not answering the captain’s questions, you also haven’t articulated what the “direct benefits” are. If describing our current situation accurately seems like whining, then this is probably something should have to do, or else I think it’s just a bunch of noise.

    And, while I’m sure whatever he’s got up his sleeve is incredibly boring, it’s more likely to be implemented than “We should, like, give everyone, like, random middle names so we’re all like together, man….” or some other nonsense.

    Again: the hippies you’re so fixated on were not the ones running the government. If that’s the impression you got when learning about the period in school, then that is simply false, but I cannot apologize on behalf of your teachers.

  81. ORigel says

    @83 I admit, “hang out” is the wrong word there. I apologize. But he hasn’t been banned, which tells us something about Mehta’s priorities.

  82. consciousness razor says

    Just noticed I was misquoting it. Sorry, I shouldn’t have relied on memory. It was “benefits of directly facing the opposition with practical ideas.”

    So just “benefits” will do, even indirect ones. But what that’s about, as well as what somebody’s poisonous nostalgia for hippies may have to do with it, as well as how all this pertains to Trump’s presidency in some way, is still obscure at best.

  83. Pierce R. Butler says

    Susan Montgomery @ # 70: I’m actually talking about the free love …

    Oh. Was that what you meant by “lethal sedatives”, or by “cynical disengagement …”? We knew the differences, back then.

    anbheal @ # 86: Susan Montgomery is clearly a Fox/Republican Troll.

    Or a sophomore-for-life who somewhere picked up a Spiro Agnew version of the times when anyone knew or cared who Spiro Agnew was, and now clings to it with fundamentalist tenacity.

    A pity – once or twice she’s said things that were not-dumb (but please don’t ask me to cite any).

  84. larpar says

    @83 and @87
    Sanderson is banned at Friendly Atheist. Several months ago i emailed Hemant and asked him to ban Sanderson. The next day all of his comments were gone.

  85. says

    @89 Somehow, I’m not surprised.

    @90 You know what? Since you really believe that the track record of the American left for the last 55 years screams “MADE OF WIN!!”, I’ll not try further to change your mind.

  86. unclefrogy says

    having been there I have to say that just like today the 60’s which ran into the early 70’s was a very complex and turbulent time.there were a lot of people around back then just like today their was still an active birch society, a George Lincoln Rockwell, as well a the SDS, MLK, VietNam
    I on behalf of all those who have died since then would like to apologize for not doing enough and leaving so much work still to be done. I am sorry that everyone did not see the unity of all things and clung to their beliefs so tenaciously and continued fight and hate and steal .
    what happened in the past is good to study and learn from but the question is always what do we do today that counts because we can’t change the past nor does blaming someone in the past change where we are now.
    uncle frogy

  87. desantis says

    Hemant Mehta is a POS. He’s in bed with the MRAs and other nasty crowds. In the past, he’s written tabloid-style posts about events in the community that he knows nothing about to serve his misogynistic biases. “Friendly Atheist”, my ass. Disappointed to see anyone here defending him.

  88. says

    @93 This is not about “bringing anyone’s head down”, this is about figuring out what mistakes were made so we don’t make them again. Look at it this way: In 1978, educators began saying “You can’t tell little Jimmy right and wrong, he’s got to figure it out himself, man, you can’t like, help people, man! That’s cryptofascist!” And, in 2020, a 50 year-old Jimmy is saying “You can’t make me wear a mask! I did my own research on Facebook and YouTube and I think COVID is bogus! You’re not the boss of me!”.

    So, pardon me for thinking that there just may be a connection.

  89. Rob Grigjanis says

    Susan Montgomery @97:

    pardon me for thinking that there just may be a connection.

    There’s no pardoning such shallow nonsense based, apparently, on little more than a handful of tired stereotypes. Your “connection” is as sound as those made by anti-vaxxers, climate deniers and the burgeoning crop of other conspiracy “theorists”.

    But that’s OK. I’m sure your smugness is as impervious as that of those other folk.

  90. says

    @98 Why are the immaculate and infallible hippies and radicals beyond reproach? Why is pointing out the obvious truth that hippies were hedonists whose entire political philosophy boiled down to “make someone else do it” such heresy around here?

    You know what? Forget I said anything. In December, after the GOP cheats it’s way into the White House yet again, I’ll leave it to you to wonder why the American Left is doing nothing but holding benefit concerts in the hopes of realigning Trump’s chakras rather than doing something useful.

  91. says

    @Susan Montgomery
    You’re seriously trying to blame the last 20+ years of Republican idiocy on the hippies?
    I’m sorry I started listening to you again. I was right the first time.

  92. KG says

    I think some superannuated hippy, still festooned with hair and bells, and smelling of patchouli and weed, must at some point have told Susan Montgomery that she was, like, totally uncool. Nothing but a personal slight can explain such a bizarre obsession.

  93. says

    @102 See, here’s how the universe works (in a very simplified form)

    1) Something happens
    2) Because something happened, something else happens
    3) Repeat

    And I think the unwillingness to actively resist and confront, our retreat into utopian ideas and slogans, our decsion to wait for something or someone to solve our problems rather than facing them boldly (witness the last 4 years of liberal pundits waiting for the deus ex machina that would finish Trump ) and sell out our values even when we have the advantage all flow from the toxic influence of the 60’s counterculture. The conservatives got their share of the corruption too, but as they were already the status quo, it isn’t as obvious. They just need a stalemate and with the left rolling over and still thinking they’re winning they really didn’t need to do much.

    But, if you really with to believe the US was a liberal paradise and Trump and Trumpism was invented by Russian hackers in 2016, be my guest.

    @103 Seriously, that’s it?

    @100 See @101

  94. says

    @103 I mean,really? I’m a 48 year old who plays Europa Universalis IV, listens to Rush reads Isaac Asimov (I chose Susan after Asimov’s Susan Calvin when I came out in ’94) and I hang out with Furries, tabletop gamers and comic book dorks. I long ago gave up on caring about coolness.

  95. says

    @106 Do you think they’ll start directly with t-shirts instead? Or an avant-garde film featuring a tap-dancing gorilla which is supposed to symbolize the follies of capitalism? I’m sure that one’s only to be used against invading armies.

  96. says

    This was Portland literally last night.

    They’re carrying peace signs and singing “We Shall Overcome.” They’re being shot, beaten, and teargassed. Someone from this network is there. The Left in the US is as engaged as it’s been in years, in terms of both direct action and electoral politics, on pretty much every front. And in the middle of a pandemic! You obviously have internet access since you’re commenting here, and yet you’re somehow still completely out of touch with what’s happening. It’s bizarre.

    And don’t bother responding with “Oh, that doesn’t count” or “That won’t accomplish anything.” I don’t give a fuck about your opinions. Your claim that the US Left “is doing nothing but holding benefit concerts” is patently ludicrous. I asked you to explain what you were talking about and instead you came back with some nonsense presuming your prior nonsense had been established, which it most definitely had not.

  97. Rob Grigjanis says

    Susan Montgomery @107: That’s one seriously weird fantasy world you live in, populated, it seems, largely by outdated right-wing clichés. Positively Ann Coulteresque.

  98. KG says

    @103 Seriously, that’s it? – Susan Montgomery@104

    No, not seriously, because I find it impossible to take you and your bizarre obsession seriously.

    I long ago gave up on caring about coolness.

    I see, so that’s why you need to tell me you don’t care about it. But you’re misunderstanding what a hippy would mean by calling you “totally uncool”.

  99. consciousness razor says

    Well, personally — and this has come only after spending a great deal of time thinking deeply on the subject — I blame it on the boogie.

  100. KG says

    Susan Montgomery@111,

    Well quite. And the Democratic Party, and its nearest equivalents elsewhere, have all been run by hippies for the past half-century, haven’t they? And people just got tired of the tie-dye shirts, bell-bottom jeans and Afghan coats.

  101. says

    @112 I blame it on the Bossa nova.

    @113 No, but since a lot of the hippies went into the GOP anyway (The Dems had blood on their hands, remember?) I’m actually not too surprised.

  102. stroppy says

    What happens to you when you’re a fetus happily squirming about in a cosy womb and your mamma suddenly gets scared by a hippie.

    So if you were born around 1972 you clearly must have a good handle on what was going on in that period? Pretty precocious for a wee tyke. Or like a lot of people, you came of age reflexively rebelling against the those who came of age in the previous years– because superior. That’s ok, I know people coming up in the 60s who felt the same way about those from the 50s — you know, the ones with duck tails who, when they weren’t wrecking cars street racing, spent all their time drinking Thunderbird and getting into knife fights… daddy-o.

  103. consciousness razor says

    A felicidade do pobre parece
    a grande ilusão do carnaval.
    A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
    por um momento de sonho
    pra fazer a fantasia
    de rei ou de pirata ou jardineira
    pra tudo se acabar na quarta-feira.

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