Wednesday, April 3, 2013

PZ really loves his posse of assholes

A while ago, EllenBeth Wachs was torn apart in the comments on Pharyngula for suggesting that Adria Richards might have been wrong to respond to a dongle joke by tweeting a photo of the alleged jokers.

EllenBeth has since recounted the experience here.

Notable quotes from EllenBeth Wachs:

I know PZ, himself, promotes it as a “rude blog.” I wasn’t aware of how abusive it gets. I have been an avid supporter and defender of the so-called FTBullies and have paid a high price in the form of vicious ridicule and mockery by members of the slymepit. I cannot claim innocence as I have certainly thrown my own share of knives without knowing the full story some of the time, hell, maybe all the time. I don’t know anymore. I am doing what I need to in order to make myself right.
Full disclosure. I have met PZ several times. He actually spoke for me at the Humanists of Florida conference last September. I consider him a friend and an ally. So, imagine my shock and dismay upon voicing what seemed to be a mild disagreement on this thread of already close to three hundred comments the nasty reception I received.
PZ has since replied to EllenBeth's comments in a post titled "EllenBeth Wachs recounts her experiences"

PZ writes:
I think she was completely wrong on the Adria Richards issue. She was looking at it entirely from the position of a conference organizer, who prioritizes not rocking the boat and keeping everything running smoothly, and not at all from the perspective of a feminist who definitely would want to do some boat-rocking and disrupt a bad process.
However, man, some of you commenters were brutal. I’m all in favor of letting your views hang out there and letting you express yourselves freely, but this is a case where some of you were so angry that it interfered with your ability to communicate rationally. And then I’m torn, because that anger is actually valid, too.
Anyway, read it and think. I did, and I still think the disagreement was appropriate, but that she might be right that the derision was disproportionate…while at the same time I think outrageous derision is useful.
Here are PZ's takeaways:

  1. EllenBeth is still wrong (of course!)
  2. It's not important to follow rules in order to disrupt "a bad process". Which suggests a desire to change the process, yet PZ has already concluded that conference policies are merely suggestions anyways.
  3. PZ accepts that commenters were "brutal" and irrational. 
  4. PZ actually states that anger towards EllenBeth was valid. PZ is clear - if you think someone is wrong, you can flip out on them.
  5. PZ clearly states that disproportionate, "outrageous derision" is a useful tool


Do you know what other people call disproportionate, "outrageous derision", PZ?

There is a word for it... it is... ummm...


Yeah, that's it.


  1. I don't think EllenBeth was wrong at all.

  2. No sympathy here. Suddenly all that vitriol is horrible when it's focused on her.

  3. Well, my big break with all things FTB came when I was exposed to the sheer viciousness of the commentariat there. Albeit, on Greta Christina's blog, rather than PZ's. Her mod policies are arguably worse, because while PZ tended to allow for a free-for-all, Greta's mod style was to look the other way while her favored commentators engaged in vicious Pharyngula-style attacks (in violation of her frequently stated policy) while placing critics under heavy moderation and threats of the banhammer.

    Prior to last year, I had a soft spot for Greta Christina (who has written some very good stuff, up to the point where she fell headlong into the social justice warrior mentality) and was hoping that the fallout from "Elevatorgate" was going to blow over, and that she and DJ Grothe might even patch things up. Instead, various stunts by Surly Amy and Rebecca Watson, plus the rise of Atheismplus only served to make the split within atheism more or less permanent.

    There's a lot of talk about "dialogue" now, and while I can see various moderates who have found themselves on one side or another patching things up, I don't see the various bomb-throwers ever changing their tune, and especially see little chance of PZ or Atheismplus moderating their rhetoric.