Thursday, April 25, 2013

Let's save the Earth to annoy the haters!

PZ and the FreeThoughtBlogs people decided to do a video chat to talk about Earth day and environmental issues.

Thankfully PZ provided his lead in to "focus" the discussion in plain text:
For a long time, I’ve been saying that atheism is a heck of a lot more than just disbelieving in gods: we arrive at that conclusion by various means, so the history matters, and recognition of the consequent reality matters — it has implications. I am an advocate for increasing the depth and meaning of atheism, for broadening it and increasing its relevance to more people. In that sense, I’m kind of an ur-atheism-plusser.
But actually, I think we all are. Atheism has always meant more than just disbelief. Probably the narrowest interpreter of atheism on freethoughtblogs is Edwin Kagin, who has openly said that he thinks the only issue that ought to matter to atheists is separation of church and state. But even that is adding extra meaning to the word, and it’s also a terribly narrow meaning, that really only applies to constitutional issues in the United States. The New Atheists (and Old Atheists, too), blithely fold Science into atheism, with scarcely any complaint from other atheists. There seem to be some affiliated issues that atheists, even atheists who still dumbly assert that atheism just means an absence of god-belief, are happy to unthinkingly accept as natural parts of atheism.
And then there are others. All you have to do is look at the angry loons who have freaked out over Atheism Plus. You want atheists to care about equality, and ethics, and social justice? NNNNOOOOOO! How dare you add stuff that isn’t in my minimalist understanding of atheism to my obligations as a human being? I want to be selfish and self-centered and Darwinian!
Now I’m curious to see what would happen if we say that environmentalism is a natural part of atheism, too. Will there be a freak out again? Will the Libertarians finally go away? Or will a majority happily recognize it as a necessary component of an ethic that tries to build a sustainable society on a world that is not propped up by magic?
So you’re all here to agree or argue with me, to consider the ramifications, to suggest where we’re going to hit a brick wall. And maybe we can also talk about why religion is a poor foundation for a responsible stewardship of the planet.

It is plainly obvious that some of this massive block of text is created solely to say something absolutely insane in order to seed the discussion that will have to fill the hour or so the FTB people needed to kill.

But the thought process is illuminating.

In PZ's mind, critics of Pharyngula and Atheism Plus are "angry loons" that "freaked out" about "equality, ethics, and social justice". Further, critics have a "self-centered and Darwinian" view of the world, which we can only assume would looks like a remake of a Schwarzenegger film. (Perhaps The Running Man?)

Now the question PZ poses to his "social justice" allies is what exactly would these lunatic haters would do if they were to say that environmentalism has something to do with atheism.

Right here there seems to be some things that are completely asinine and self-evident.

It is obvious that atheists would to some degree care about the environment. Everyone that needs to breathe ought to.

Further, it is obvious that religion is not a good basis for environmentalism. Why would it be? Is it a solid foundation for anything else?

What does PZ and this Atheism Plus crowd really think is going to happen?

Here's how the fairy tale plays out in their fantasy land:

SkepChick, Pharyngula and FTB come out to say that Rebecca Watson was wronged in that elevator, conferences should clean up their act and people should stop objectifying women.
Immediately after this tour de force, the misogynist masses that inhabited the atheist community all committed seppuku while contemplating their privilege.
Now, the social justice dream team is back to tell you that littering is bad.
Libertarians, conservatives, and any pesky people that think that the state should balance development with environmental concerns or think incentive programs are half baked will hear this clarion call for environmentalism. They will immediately self-immolate as they will understand they have lost the argument forever and ever and ever.

This is not a group of people that wants to have a discussion about the environment.

The primary goal is exclusion of opinions already deemed false.

While this is nonsense, we should be glad that Pharyngula is so pro-Earth Day.

Will PZ stop flying to multiple conferences every year for the sake of Gaia?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Good cop, bad cop

On the last post there was an item of feedback from reader latsot as to something that was perhaps conveniently left out.

Whereas the blog post here seemed to show PZ as an all-encompassing dictator of what matters, had the earlier paragraph on Pharygula been included it would have shown PZ in a more reasonable tone:
Anyway, the final straw was DJ Grothe, who, in replying to someone who said they wanted him to pay as much attention to atheist issues as he does gay issues (a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else), made the statement that gay concerns are very, very different than atheist concerns, and we shouldn’t conflate the two. Again, a point I agree with 100%.
PZ, in this quote, seems to allow for disagreement as to what matters, whereas the commentary of his "atheist victory" did not reflect that.

Let's table this question as item number one - could be phrased as "does PZ adequately respect dissent?"

PZ's comrade in blogs, Richard Carrier, has also taken a sort of "social justice" slant in his recent support for all things Atheism+.

Some comments were contributed to Carrier's blog, attempting to concisely detail why people disagree with Atheism+ and asking some specific questions about Carrier's opinions.

One of  the following questions was the following:
[uberfeminist] And, if you disagree vehemently with them on what constitutes “social justice”, you are apparently a misogynist, libertarian, harasser, or CHUD. What am I misunderstanding?
Richard Carrier responded:
That’s bullshit. If you demean and harass women, you’re a CHUD. If you merely disagree on how to solve the problems of the world, you’re one of us.
If you advocate against progressive solutions to evidenced injustices and for libertarian ones instead, then your a libertarian…and can fully be that and still fully on board with A+ (as I explained last year). You just have to argue from facts and logic and not armchair ideology, and be courteous, thoughtful and reasonable doing so.
But if you repudiate the goals and values of A+ and argue no one should support them, then yes, you are an asshole. Not a CHUD or a misogynist or a harasser. Just an ordinary run of the mill asshole.
Only someone who voices or displays unambiguous hatred for women is a misogynist (someone who displays ambiguous hatred for women only might be a misogynist, so one may be wary but uncertain…not everything is black and white, not everything is certain). And only someone who actually harasses people is a harasser. Though someone who defends harassment is toxic and disturbing.
Are we clear? 
The blog Carrier links to explains specifics about his view on libertarians:
PZ Myers takes a more hardline stance against Libertarians and equates Atheism+ with explicitly progressive politics, but though I agree he is probably right (IMO, Libertarianism, on any full and proper analysis, doesn’t hold up as sound, and won’t work to solve most of the actual problems we face), I do not agree that it is any defining characteristic of Atheism+. [...] I also know many Libertarians who actually do care about social justice issues, and admit problems exist in that domain, and actually have passionate ideas about how to solve them. 
Carrier saying PZ has a "hardline stance" against libertarians is an understatement.

In a post titled "Just when you thought Libertarians couldn’t get any more revolting", PZ blasts libertarians for the rumblings of some academic that asked if people lost property rights when unconscious or some other nonsense.

If this line of reasoning held any water, any theocrat could simply point at PZ as the be-all end-all of progressivism or atheism. How screwed up would that be?

Back to our original question - does PZ adequately respect dissent? And the append, does Richard Carrier?

To the central point - just what is Atheism+ trying to be?

Claim: Atheism+ can not be two things at once.

If only for the sake of keeping the English language somewhat sane, this must be true.

Let's give Atheism+ two options.

It can be either:
  • A basic test of human value. A litmus test of simple etiquette. A big list of people one would want to meet at a pub. People that can split bills and would refrain from cussing in front of your mother... or...
  • An engaged group of people with specific social goals. A group focused on debating the tough questions, creating actionable philosophies and generally moving the same direction.
Carrier often speaks as if it were the former, but when the rubber hits the road everyone behaves as if it is the latter.

Specific examples:
  • PZ's bigfoot skeptic fiasco. (thanks Shrodinger for pointing this out in the other thread)
  • PZ's writing about libertarians [cited above]
  • PZ's tagging of specific people as "fuckbrained assholes"
  • Carrier's doxxing and labeling of Thunderf00t. Thunderf00t was "sociopath" apparantely
  • The Atheism+ forum echo chamber discussing everything as if it were a crisis of morality: food, computers, and the Human Rights Campaign.
  • Near uniformity of political opinion - A+ supporters are speaking about having libertarians on side as theory, not practice.
  • Atheism+ and FTB's distancing themselves from plenty of decent people in the secular/skeptic community - Richard Dawkins, Harriet Hall, Michael Shermer, Paula Kirby, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, the list grows every day.
  • The group's willingness to use insults and the ban hammer against those already deemed in-group.
  • Half-assed attempts at reconciliation with critics.
  • Discussions explicitly talking about purging the right-wingers.
What is this drama?

It seems like a convoluted game of good cop, bad cop.

Good cop Carrier runs the PR and platitudes side of things. "Baby, you're so fine! You're already one of us!"

Then bad cops Myers and the Atheism+ forum regulars crack the whip. Need to get the new recruits in line by making an example out of somebody. Even if they show up to talk about something as bland as an essay about gender inequity, they'll get torn to shreds.

Carrier's message sounds so good. Ohh.

Atheism+ wouldn't say you're in the club today only to call you a "sociopath", "CHUD" or "fuckbrained asshole" tomorrow, would they?

Atheism+ is no stranger the movement they love, you know the rules, and they just want a full commitment. You can't get this from any other secular group. Skepchick just wants to let you know how she's feeling.

Atheism+ just wants you to understand.

Never gonna give you up

Never gonna let you down

Never gonna run around and desert you

Never gonna make you cry

Never gonna say goodbye

Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PZ's atheist victory

PZ envisioned a "world without gods" to answer DJ Grothe's "What would winning look like?"

The list of things PZ came up with is as follows: [emphasis added]
  • You want a list?
  • Atheists could get elected to high office.
  • Piety wouldn’t be a qualification for high office.
  • Our kids wouldn’t be bullied because they don’t attend church.
  • Idiots wouldn’t be defining public policy by its conformity to the Bible.
  • Our schools wouldn’t be silent on “controversial” topics like evolution.
  • America wouldn’t be launching crusades against the foreign heathen.
  • Women could get abortions when they needed them.
  • There would be rational, evidence-based sex education in the schools, rather than religiously dictated abstinence only.
  • Nor did I say they would be. RT @DJGrothe: Wouldn’t be similar. Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities
  • Huge chunks of every community’s tax base wouldn’t be stolen to support lies.
  • .@DJGrothe You asked what winning would look like for atheists. I’m telling you. I’m not saying it would be the same as gay rights.
  • My car wouldn’t be keyed if I had a darwin fish on the bumper.
  • Environmental policy wouldn’t be shaped by people who believe the world is going to end in their lifetimes.
  • Neither would foreign affairs or military policy.
  • Maybe the arts would be as well funded as religion.
  • I wouldn’t have public chimes installed down the street that blare hymns at me every 15 minutes.
  • And a city council that considers enforcing a noise ordinance sacrilegious.
  • The local high school would stop bringing in anti-gay, anti-drug, up-with-god groups for assemblies.
  • I agree it was false. You’ve said we can have different goals. I’m explaining them. RT @DJGrothe: I just pointed out the false equivalence
  • Women wouldn’t be forced to wear the burqa.
  • Women wouldn’t be executed for “immodesty”. Honor killings would end.
  • Condoms would be distributed in Africa. Everywhere, for that matter.
  • Victims of disease & accident would be seen as victims of chance, not stigmatized as sinners.
  • Churches would close. Not all of them, but enough to be replaced with *real* community services.
  • 46% of the American population wouldn’t believe the earth is less than 6000 years old.
  • No more war on Christmas! Secular holidays that prioritize families and people, not sterile rituals and dogma.
  • Institutions that shelter child rapists would be dismantled.
  • We could have death with dignity.
  • Puritans wouldn’t be dictating our sexual relationships.
  • A Baptist could marry a Lutheran or a Jew a Catholic, and their families wouldn’t freak out.
  • Children wouldn’t be labeled by their parent’s irrational beliefs. They wouldn’t be pigeonholed at birth.
  • The science section in your local bookstore might be as big as the faith and religion section.
  • I would stop getting email that contains litanies of my post-mortem torture.
  • Children wouldn’t die in agony because their parents believe in faith healing.
  • Scoundrels and charlatans would have a harder time fleecing their flocks without god’s imprimatur.
  • We’ll recognize that our fate is in our hands, not some invisible benign being’s.
  • We wouldn’t have to put up with football players claiming the Almighty Lord of the Universe helped them get that goal.
  • The Gideons would be handing out real literature rather than the same dumb book over and over. They’d promote literacy, not faith.
  • No more bible colleges. Liberty University would close. Young people would have to get real educations.
  • We’d see ourselves as one tiny fragile speck in a vast universe, rather than the privileged focus of all creation.
  • Humans would no longer see themselves as the only important organisms on the planet. We’d have to recognize our place in an ecosystem.
  • An end to god-soaked talk radio!
  • Imagine Republicans no longer able to swaddle themselves in God and Country…just Country.
  • We’d expand stem cell research — no more pretense that a blastocyst was a full human being…or had the same rights as a woman bearing it.
  • The God Particle would just be called the Higgs Boson.
  • Priests & other believers wouldn’t be haunting the sick & dying in our hospitals any more.
  • Theology would be as dead as alchemy. It would be replaced with history, anthropology, psychology, sociology…real disciplines.
  • We’d no longer pretend that memorizing the Bible was a fit qualification for counseling unhappy people.
  • Priests would finally be free of the need for pretense. They could be people again, and serve in secular ways.
  • Marriage wouldn’t be a prison, but a partnership that could be dissolved without guilt, or maintained by mutual respect and love.
  • We could question EVERYTHING. End religious shibboleths.
  • Religiosity would no longer be a shortcut to morality. People would actually have to BE good, to be regarded as good.
  • No more consoling the grieving by telling them lies. No more fear-mongering with stories of hell.
  • Donating money to a church would no longer be considered charity. How about donating to a real charity instead?
  • Mormons would have to wake up to the fact that their history is bullshit.
  • Goodbye, missionaries. Hello, secular aid.
  • Televangelists would be scorned as scoundrels.
  • All those poor sad priests would have their vows of celibacy lifted. And there will be rejoicing. By the priests, at least.
  • Pope: fired. Vatican: turned into a really great museum.
  • Islamists would stop killing apostates. Authors and comic artists could live free again.
  • Ultra-orthodox Jews would stop spitting on little girls. Liberal Jews would stop mutilating little boys’ penises (so would everyone else).
  • Religious butchers could stop torturing animals in the name of halal and kosher foods.
  • The ordination of women priests would become a moot point.
  • The ordination of gay priests would become a moot point.
  • The shortage of Catholic priests would no longer be of any concern.
  • We would at last recognize that Timothy Dolan has absolutely no qualifications to be consulted on matters of public policy.
  • Ditto, Rick Warren.
  • We could admire churches for their architecture, rather than deplore them as centers of oppression.
  • No more madrassas. No more replacing knowledge & understanding with rote memorization of dogma.
  • “Tradition” is no longer sufficient reason to keep doing stupid things.
  • No one sensible will try to claim the Ten Commandments are a fit foundation for jurisprudence.
  • Atheist organizations will shut down, their job done.
  • Writing lists of how good life would be without God will be as silly as writing lists of how good life would be without ghosts.

This is the end of PZ's list.

Much of this is reasonable - at least, average Joe Atheist is not going to disagree with much of it.

But what about the last 5% of bullet points? This is basically where things like "Atheism+" find life.

PZ assumes consensus on a lot of subjects, for example:
  • Abortion - there is no consensus among atheists regarding abortion laws.
  • Euthanasia - suicide will remain a tough subject.
  • Environment - one can simultaneously not believe in god and enjoy their car, iPad, and trips around the world.
  • Skepticism/Questioning Everything - tried questioning 'feminism' lately?
  • Marriage - where does someone get the idea that atheists can "dissolve marriage without guilt"?
  • Tradition - breaking from tradition will be tough, especially if the 'traditions' happened to gift us an atheist utopia.
It is a habit of the FreeThoughtBlogs and Atheism+ people to assume that all the atheists will happen to see the logic in their ways.

It would perhaps be surprising for these individuals to hear that their political opinions have often not been adequately subject to experiment, and their notion of ideal human behavior might not align exactly with other atheists.

Perhaps different people have different goals for themselves and others.

What a concept.

White privilege and bicycle locks

This YouTube video is making the rounds:

The video, in summary, features:
  • A white guy looking like he's stealing a bike. Not many say anything, many look perplexed, some look to inform authorities.
  • A black guy looking like he's stealing a bike. He's immediately confronted, call police.
There is not an absolute uniformity in responses (at the end of the video, it is shown that an older white male actually helped the black guy "steal" the bike after asking the black guy if he had lost his keys) but the black guy received most of the negative assumptions about his behavior.

The commentary is from PZ Myers:
Most racism isn’t represented by a redneck screaming racist slurs from his pickup truck. It’s the casual demeaning of the importance of “other people’s” problems (Heck, even using the word “other” in that context is a problem.) It’s about letting stereotypes dictate your response to a person, not even necessarily negatively.
And this is from Elyse from Skepchick:
See? They don’t THINK they’re being racist. They just are. They don’t feel racist. But they are. It’s right there. It’s the same when we talk about sexism and other oppressions.

And what happens when we call it out? We’re told it’s a misunderstanding. We don’t understand. It is explained back to us. When we call it out again, we’re told we’re overreacting. When we call it out again, we’re causing trouble. [...] we’re really fucking annoying. [...] we’re asked what we’re trying to accomplish. [...] we’re pointed to all the times it HASN’T happened. [...] we’re told to be quiet already. [...] we’re told that we’re not going to get anywhere with THAT attitude, and if we want to calm down, maybe someone will be able to take us seriously. [...] we’re accused of just seeing systemic oppression everywhere and maybe it’s time to take a break. [...] we’re militant.[...] we’re told that no one is going to be bullied into giving us the respect and equal treatment we deserve.

I’m tired of being shown examples of all the times oppression isn’t happening. Yeah, big fucking deal. Look at me, not being raped right now. I should probably stop being all like “rape is a thing that needs addressing.” I’m happy you’re not being turned down for jobs based on your physical appearance. I’m glad you’ve specifically never committed an act of violence targeting a minority. I’m really proud of you that you don’t actually go out of your way to be a huge asshole. But maybe those things alone are not evidence that there isn’t a problem. Maybe there actually is a problem. Maybe even if you don’t want to be, you’re a part of it. Maybe you should consider that. Maybe you should do something. Or maybe you’re right, and I should just try to be less angry and emotional about living in a world where, even where I’m hugely privileged, I’m still not given the respect of a full human being. I’m still less than my husband and my dad and even my son. I should probably be more okay with that.

What are you angry about? Are you angry at all? Is anger bad? Should we all become LL Cool J’s and find common ground, like agreeing that gold chains are as offensive as slavery? Should we keep asking nicely for respect? Should we just move along and accept the system? Is there a quiet way to fix it? Am I being too emotional?
The video contains a lesson about how stereotypes inform our choices, and this lesson is definitely important.

Yet are we not skimming the surface a little bit here?

Here we have an obvious example of how negative stereotypes impact black people. Then we quickly switch gears to generalize this into how we respond to people generally, and how this example segues well into women's issues.

Why don't we simply run the experiment again?

The participants could be:

Young childMale/FemaleMale/FemaleMale/Female
Middle ageMale/FemaleMale/FemaleMale/Female

This is admittedly an incomplete matrix. Of this reduced set, we've been given two data points.

Many would likely guess that young children attempting sawing at a bike lock might actually be held against their will, as a passerby attempts to find their parents.

Middle age people might be more often ignored as they are more intimidating.

Seniors might be ignored entirely - who is expanding their retirement portfolio with hot bikes?

What about females?

There is a chance that there will be equivalent response across genders.

However there is also a chance that something worse would happen - the female would be objectified and asked for coffee.

Let's assume the lock pick scenario was applied to the entire family. The husband might have been introduced to the police. The son might have been temporarily incarcerated by neighborhood adults demanding he tell them where his parents are.

Meanwhile the wife is contending with unwanted sexual advances or a condescending tone. People may speak to her as if she doesn't understand how to use a saw!

Of course, to the 'feminist' this sort of 'disrespect' is just another version of the 'patriarchy' where women are just ditsy baby machines.

Maybe it's time to topple that awfully misogynist stereotype.

Ladies, we need to get out there and steal some bicycles.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Does FreeThoughtBlogs support AtheismPlus?

One of NonStampCollector's claims in his final post was that FreeThoughtBlogs may not uniformly support Atheism+.

When you have as many writers as FreeThoughtBlogs does, it's likely there is at least some dissent. Right?

Below is a version 1.0 of trying to answer "Does this blogger support Atheism+?" for each blogger, which seems to be an interesting enough question. If you know better than the table does, please include details in the comments and the table will hopefully see some updates.

A Citizen of EarthUnknown
A Million GodsNo
Ace of CladesUnknown
Alethian WorldviewUnknown
Almost DiamondsYes
Ashley MillerUnknown
Assassin ActualUnknown
Black SkepticsUnknown
Blag HagFounder of Atheism+
Blasphemous BloggingUnknown
Brute ReasonYes
Butterflies and WheelsYes
Comradde PhysioProffeUnknown
Cristina RadUnknown
Dispatches from the Culture WarsProbable
En Tequila Es VerdadUnknown
Greta Christina's BlogYes
Lousy CanuckYes
Mano SinghamUnknown
Maryam NamazieUnknown
Near-Earth ObjectUnknown
No Country for WomenUnknown
Reasonable DoubtsUnknown
Richard Carrier BlogsYes
Rock Beyond BeliefUnknown
Sincerely, Natalie ReedYes
The Atheist ExperienceYes
The Crommunist ManifestoNo (*)
The Digital CuttlefishUnknown
The ZingularityUnknown
This Week in Christian NationalismUnknown
Token SkepticUnknown
Zinnia JonesUnknown

Monday, April 8, 2013

NonStampCollector's final blog post

NonStampCollector (from this point on, 'NSC') wrote a final blog post on FreeThoughtBlogs.

NSC makes some decent YouTube videos, and this is likewise a decent post.

The reasons cited by NSC for leaving FTB was primarily to focus on work/career/life.

Some excerpts of interest from 'part two' of the post [with emphasis added on a few things to be addressed later]:
I’m aware that many will want to gloat that in “leaving FTB”, I will have proven to all and sundry that all those rumors about FTB are true, and that I got the hell out of there because I couldn’t take the cult-like behaviour any more, and that I’d been wrong all along and the anti-FTBers had been right all along after all… etc. 
OK, let’s deal with this right away. And yes, I’m going to take my time and have some fun with this. As I sit here writing this post, the section you’re about to read gets bigger and bigger on every read-through – and I’m letting it. I think it’s a good way to wrap up my FTB experience. I held back on this since starting my blog, because I didn’t want my blog to be about my blog. And now I can finally use some of those screen-shots I took! 
Let me say, for the first and last time on this issue, that the only rabidly dogmatic crazies I ever came across upon setting up this blog at this particular site, were the anti-FTBers. 
I never had any problems whatsoever with any of the folks who blog here. Never. I was never pressured to toe any particular line, I was never encouraged to take a particular stance on any particular issue, I was never given cause to be concerned about being ‘reviewed’ or edited,…I was only ever invited to write anything I liked about anything I liked. Those were the terms given to me on the way in, and nothing ever, ever changed.
YouTube Comment 1: "Nope. Just look at Thunderf00t's case, if you date say anything that pisses off Mr. Myers he either forces you to humiliate yourself and apologize or he bans you. Free thoughts blog my ass"
YouTube Comment 2:  "Oh, a "free from thought blog" convert. You should make a video on how that happened. Are you going to two the party line over there or get banned by the way?"
YouTube Comment 3: "I'm going to laugh my socks off when you get band from FFB for saying something out of line." 
The ‘backlash’ that came at me after I accepted Kylie S’s invitation (on behalf of those at FTB who decide these things) to have a blog set up for me here began slowly, gradually rose over a few days, and then stayed at an unbelievable pitch for literally months. Suddenly I was being accused of every criticism that was being thrown at PZ Myers, Jennifer McCreight, Greta Christina, or even Rebecca Watson. (I’d heard of two of these people before joining, and had regularly read one of them; albeit not for a few years.) Suddenly, in the eyes of many, I had become a staunch, outspoken advocate NOT ONLY of man-hating radical militant feminism, but also of Atheism+, and I had people DEMANDING that I retract everything I’d ever said promoting both of those, taking me to task for the unforgivable crimes of the moderators at some Atheism+ forum, and composing long, strongly-worded messages detailing to me the philosophical and practical problems of Atheism+. 
All of this prompted me, after a few weeks, to find out what Atheism+ was. 
I read about it, said ‘meh’, and haven’t looked again. 
My impression of Atheism+ is that it was a simple idea, fairly well stated in its ‘manifesto’, on whoever’s blog it went up on, and then, obviously, pretty badly promoted, executed, and managed. It was obviously a flop from whatever angle you look at it, and if everybody had paid as much attention to it as I did, and have, instead of squealing about it for months and months and months and months, and months, it would have gone the way of the dodo.
YouTube comment: "Poor NSC. Now he is part of the drama. The atheism+ crowd has a new bait. The popular but somewhat naive NSC. He might have looked at the offer a bit more critically had it come from someone else. But he did not here. Its ok. He has not been making good videos anyway. Not much of a loss. But hosting the blog at a more neutral venue would have been a win-win." 
I simply cannot overstate the BACKLASH that I received over Atheism+ during the several weeks before I took the time to find out what it was. Think about that for a second.
YouTube(?) comment: "NSC demonstrates the ability to research and delve into subjects in a methodical fashion... except when it comes to his greenhorn defense of A+ with admitted ignorance of many of the facts. Well its understandable that he wants to impress his new found friends. To bad he didn't exercise the same diligence in research before he began spewing in public." 
Then there were the countless messages and emails informing me of what the management structure of FTB was like, who was in charge, what happened on the backchannel, who pulled the strings, what bloggers were and weren’t allowed to do, the methods of surveillance used by FTB ‘leaders’ to monitor the online activity of the bloggers (on and off FTB)… these things just went ON and ON and ON.
YouTube comment 1: "I seriously doubt they would literally censor you. The problem is we'll never know what you were discouraged from saying either because you've been assimilated through the back channel hive mind indoctrination system, or because you don't want to risk your slot on FTB.."
YouTube comment 2: "FTB has a very high ban rate for any level of disagreement and is tied to Atheism+. It is also run by PZ Myers who rubs some people the wrong way, mainly because he does things like say anyone that disagrees with his particular brand of humanist outlook is an asshole. This and many others things has led it to be a fairly divisive issue. Personally I don't like the way FTB operates or handles issues at all."
Meanwhile, I was actually ON the backchannel, witnessing not only NONE of what was being described to me daily by hysterical know-it-alls in messages and comments, but witnessing instead the polar opposite. A very cordial, very democratic, at times very light-hearted discourse – so cordial and congenial, in fact, that I didn’t actually feel all that comfortable participating in it! I’ve always been a lone-wolf on this Atheism thing, and suddenly, confronted by a mutually-supportive ‘network’ of like-minded writers and thinkers, I slowly came to realize that I kind of preferred being on my own and I never really joined many of the conversations on the back-channel. Simply not my cup of tea, despite it being very positive, constructive, and friendly. All the while I’m being told repeatedly, from what felt like every angle, that I had been tricked into joining a cult that was going to attempt to control my thoughts, and abuse my popularity on Youtube to implement their feminism-based agenda. It was like I was living in two different worlds at once.
NSC YouTube comment: "Well why haven't I ever had even the slightest inkling that they are there? I'm on the backchannel all the time,... listen to this video from 4:42. Seriously, is FTB the most incredible covert operation in the history of mankind or something? I'm in the think of what this guy thinks is a raging cult, and I have seen absolutely NONE of it. Not the slightest trace of what he's making sound like North Korea. Apparantely regulating my behaviour even whilst off the site! I throw my hands up"
YouTube Comment Response: "So you defend Nazism in the atheist community? Piece of shit. Someone DMCA this fucker to closure, it's about time the A+ Nazis got a test of their own blocking." 
Some of these anti-FTBers make 911-Truthers look like Ph.D geniuses. Sorry, it’s just the fucking truth.
FreeThoughtBlogs, it turns out, means different things to different people. To me, it meant a site that hosted about 35 bloggers all writing independently on a range of topics based around a common thread of secularism. To its critics, it means PZ Myers and two or three others. They don’t like PZ Myers and those two or three others, and therefore FreeThoughtBlogs is entirely, irreconcilably, bad. I often asked my critics to name, without looking online, as many of the 35 bloggers at FTB that they could. Guess how that went among people who had characterized the entire site as “PZ”, or even better – and this happened ALL the time - as “Rebecca Watson”, who has never even blogged at FTB!!
An utter inability to look objectively at a situation and evaluate it based on what one actually observes through rudimentary investigation – from people who accuse FTB of “hive-mind”.
YouTube comment: "I won't be the only subscriber he loses today. Perhaps you should pull your head out of your asshole and take a look around. Everyone is in arms over NSC's idiotic choice. I blacklist everyone who supports the A+ crowd. It's called having principles, I know that's an alien concept to you."
Another comment: "BTW, I was just over reading Non Stamp Collector's YouTube channel comments. that poor sap doesn't know what he's getting into. Somebody should warn him to at least keep an eye on his wallet and get a list of things he's not to mention on his blog from PeePee. I like his videos, but I won't be reading his blog... same as Rad (who is better on video anyway)."
I asked my critics, a few times, how many of the bloggers at FTB were supportive of Atheism+. I’m still waiting for an answer to those sort of meaningful, practically valuable, thoughtful questions – the kind of questions that I oughtn’t to have had to ask – the kind of questions that might burst bubbles of irrational thinking.
What I’m saying here, is that my involvement at FTB highlighted something that I had simply not anticipated after four active years in internet atheism. That is, an enormously disappointing irrationality, paranoia, and lack of critical thinking within our ranks. The atheist community, for want of a better term, around Youtube, it turns out, is populated by some seriously irrational unthinking people. One would expect that to be present in any group of people, fair enough. But the EXTENT to which it came at me was eye-opening and very disturbing. I can only hope that something happens to change that.
An enormous number of ‘skeptical’ and ‘rational’ people showed that they were willing to swallow whatever line they were fed without evaluating it or investigating it at all. A rumor spreads about the FTB backchannel, and that becomes unquestionable truth. An “enemy” is named, and a witch-hunt begins. PZ Myers got cooties – and suddenly so did EVERYONE within a few clicks of him. “Eeewwwwww!!!! You’ve got cootieeeeeeeees!!!!”
YouTube comment: "Unsubscribed. Sorry man. That's a deal breaker."
NSC's response: "I fully understand. I can no longer watch NSC's videos because of what PZ Myers said about Rebecca Watson. [slow clap]"
YouTube comment: "You're blind to the stakes. They will trample us if no one opposes them, you craven. I can unsubscribe from anyone I want, but if I had power to ban or censor them I wouldn't. I would rally others to rebuke them voluntarily as should be done for all psychopaths like A+. They are nazis, they are bigots, and nothing I said was wrong. You're just a craven little pussy who doesn't like mean-sounding words being brought to bear against evil. Sit on that fence pole, coward, but the rest of us won't"
Friends, how sad to say it, but irrationality, dogmatism, and uncritical thinking needs to be dealt with in the online skeptical rational community. There’s way too much of that shit going around.
Disagree with whomever you like, but do it for good reason. Speak out against ideas you disagree with, but do it with reference to actual checkable facts – and cite your sources.
And as simple as it seems: Don’t read people whom you don’t want to read. Nobody would ever have heard of Rebecca Watson if her critics hadn’t LOST THEIR SHIT, and gone and made websites, Twitter accounts, Youtube channels, and blogs in honor of demonizing her! Same goes for this otherwise tiny, insignificant proposal called Atheism+. Some ban-happy forum moderators banned you and a million of your friends? Well – there’s a forum that isn’t going to survive, so shut the fuck up about it and go and have a cup of tea! Be an adult – stand your ground and keep your integrity. Don’t start a fucking website bitching about how harshly you were treated by some faceless ban-happy dickhead on some forum!
And for heaven’s sake – if you don’t like PZ Myers, don’t read him either! Been banned by him? Well whoopdy-friggin-doo! You didn’t like what he had to say anyway, obviously! But don’t then assume, and spread the irrational idea, that 34 others publishing independently on the same website are going to think exactly like him! And don’t say that “FreeThought” is a misnomer and that hive-mind is rampant throughout the site if you haven’t even read more than two or three of the fucking bloggers writing there, and instead just take everyone else’s word for it! Fuck! THINK!
Ahhhh. That felt good.
I will say this in closing: my first ever input into the atheism feminism fracas:
I have never had much of an interest in feminism despite my undergraduate degree in English and Cultural Studies, but as a 21st century somewhat enlightened guy with a mother, a sister, and a wife, (and 50% odds on having a daughter before too long!) I’m all for gender equality, inclusiveness, women’s safety, and equal opportunity, and that’s that. How such issues ever became the point of division amongst atheists is not only confusing, but troubling, and I have no qualms in saying that both sides of the cat-fight ought to have conducted themselves better at every turn. It should never have escalated to the shit-storm it became. That’s why I stayed out of it. It has been undignified and embarrassing from the start, and I wish those taking an active position on it would do a better job of it. Many of them are embarrassing themselves and the rest of us. I hope both sides can see that it’s not only the “other” side who is at fault, and I hope that it gets well and truly sorted out very soon. I advocate a loud and vocal third side – the “Guys, knock this shit off. We’ve got bigger fish to fry” side. I repeat, this issue is an embarrassment to our movement, and the fault is not solely on either side.
UPDATE: I’ve had a bit of a response from this passage above, that I’d like to address. I can see what critics are saying here, so allow me to elaborate and clarify.
What I’m talking about here, as far as fault not only being on one side, has mainly to do with diplomacy and effective communication. Even when one is firmly on the right side of an issue, such as when defending gender equality, fairness, safety and inclusiveness, failing to effectively communicate what you’ve got to say, and instead pissing people off, blocking them, banning them, insulting them, and prolonging the enmity is really destructive to your cause. How did those ideals come to be so controversial? I don’t know why that side of this argument has been so difficult to sell. It ought to have been a no-brainer, and the fracas ought to have been over pretty much immediately after it began. How the side championing those principles came to be so virulently hated is really cause for a collective “WTF?!”. It could have, and should have, been argued a lot better. Atheism and secularism ought not be embarrassed by having this as an “issue” hanging over our heads.
If you can’t sell water to a man walking out of a desert, and can’t sell pretty basic ubiquitous 21st-century ideals to do with gender equality to a crowd that prides itself on being progressive and enlightened, then your approach and methodology is all wrong. Whatever that wrong is- that’s what I’m critical of on the pro-equality (and dare I say) feminist side of the fight. It’s not their stance or their case, it’s simply to do with the presentation of the argument, or counter-argument or whatever it was.
Be the side that can act diplomatically. Take the high road and sell your approach as the more attractive and sensible one, if that’s what you actually think it is. Appeal to the nobler ideals of the ‘enemy’, rather than kicking the shit out of them the first chance you get. It ought to have been done better, and I think it definitely could have been. I think something really must have been fucked up for this issue to fester for so long. It should have been put away quickly, so lots of people somewhere were obviously screwing things up.
And disagree with me too, that’s fine, and it’s simply not my argument and I’m getting the fuck out of here anyway! I never ever would have paid it any attention if it weren’t for the fact that I was constantly being tarred with being on a radical fringe of one side of an argument that i would never have voluntarily entered. I’m saying my final, parting 2c worth and walking away. If you think that indeed all the blame lies on only one side of this, then OK, have fun with that, see you later sometime on youtube or something, whatever, it’s really not my issue. And be pissed at me for leaving it like that too if you want. No correspondence will be entered into, because it’s essentially not my issue and never was. I got dragged into it and embarrassed by it like a lot of people. I may have come out and said things earlier if I didn’t think that doing so would simply tar me even further by aligning me with certain people who were simply not doing a very good job of confronting the issue cool-headedly, diplomatically, or effectively- no matter whether they were on the right side of it.
So: all I’m saying: separate to the anti-FTB insanity, the feminism thing wasn’t handled particularly effectively by those with a more defensible stance. I hope it fixes itself up nicely very soon and that we can all forget it ever happened. That won’t happen until things calm down, idiotic minorities are healthily ignored, and broader points of agreement are recognised.
Anyway, that’s my rant, and a hell of a farewell, I think! And I’m probably not going to hang around to defend any of it or respond to much response.
Thanks to my overlords here, ie Rebecca Watson and Josef Stalin, for making my time at FTB pleasant and telling me what to think, always.

And to everyone else, don’t think that you’ve seen the last of me. I’ll still be checking my Youtube inbox and popping up here and there. Life outside of NonStamping is getting a lot more engaging, and those five or six half-baked scripts that are in my “Works In Progress” folder are going to have to sit there fomenting for just a while longer.
This post, and this NSC blog itself, will self-destruct in a few days or weeks or something.
This is the end of NSC's post.

Some observations and clarifications:
  1. It is regrettable that so many people violated Godwin's law. It simply is not a persuasive line of argument to label a group a bunch of fascists/Nazis all the time.
  2. Speculating about what might be happening on a private forum/discussion list is counterproductive. Nobody really cares what might be happening on a "backchannel" without evidence.
  3. Watson is not a member of FTB in the same sense that a guest on a talk show is not technically a cast member. FTB bloggers should not be surprised to hear about Watson, as she appears in PZ's video discussions, and is often the topic of Zvan's and Benson's articles. And they should not be surprised to hear about PZ, who probably makes up more than half of the total traffic.
  4. NSC had an opportunity to ask his fellow FTB members directly what they thought of Atheism+. The ridiculous feedback NSC received aside, NSC could have showed some initiative and asked his fellow bloggers where they saw Atheism+ going. That may have happened, but nothing in the post suggests it.
It is an interesting question.

Just how many FTB people do support Atheism+? Do we know?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How Skepchick and AtheismPlus make atheists look cheap, ineffective, immature, petty and stubborn

CFI wrote a letter to the secular community regarding some of the recent internet drama.

The letter is largely a critique of the level of discourse online:
Communicating primarily online can make it difficult to recognize each other’s humanity. Online we don’t have the same vocal and physical cues to tell us what another person means by his or her comments, so it’s easier for misunderstandings to develop. 
Among its recommendations, it includes:
  • Go offline before going online: pick up the phone. When you hear that an organization or member of our community is doing something that you think is wrong or bad for the community, call and talk with them, find out what they are actually doing and why they are doing it.  If you don’t have a phone number, send a private email and arrange a time to talk. 
  • Listen more. We miss the nuances and differences within “the other side” once an issue becomes polarized, while continuing to see our side as filled with nuance and distinctions.  There is a tendency to stop listening and treat everyone associated with an opposing position as a monolithic group. 
  • Dial down the drama. It’s tempting to overuse inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric. It gets attention. 
  • Be more charitable. We should remember that the purpose of argument within our community is to come to shared and correct conclusions that move us forward, not to score points against the opposing side. 

Sounds reasonable, right?

The letter sounded reasonable enough for these people:

David Silverman, President, American Atheists
Rebecca Hale, President, American Humanist Association
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association
Chuck VonDerAhe, President, Atheist Alliance of America
Richard Haynes, President, Atheist Nexus
Ayanna Watson, CEO, Black Atheists of America, Inc.
Mandisa L. Thomas, President, Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
Mynga Futrell, for Brights Central, at The Brights’ Net
Amanda Metskas, Executive Director, Camp Quest
Ronald Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Tom Flynn, Executive Director, The Council for Secular Humanism
Jan Meshon, President, FreeThoughtAction
Joseph McDaniel Stewart, Vice President, FreeThoughtAction
Margaret Downey, Founder and President, Freethought Society
D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation 
Stuart Jordan, President, Institute for Science and Human Values
Jason Torpy, President, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America
August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
Todd Stiefel, President, Stiefel Freethought Foundation
Fred Edwords, National Director, United Coalition of Reason

What did Rebecca Watson think of this even handed letter?

Watson regards the letter as a "stone tablet". In a letter back to the leaders, Watson writes:
The fact that large organizations in this movement communicate via stone tablet presents unique challenges. For one, it can be difficult for those of us at the bottom of the mountain to understand what, exactly, went into the making of the tablet. For instance, if the tablet references the harassment of women in this movement, how many of the harassed women were consulted, if any? [...] If secular leaders want to show they care about women’s equality, they should stop etching tablets and start actively participating in the massive feminist fight against the Religious Right that is currently happening in the US and elsewhere.
The amazing part of this: Watson managed to turn a letter about "dialing down the drama" into a dramatic interrogation of the organization's processes, motivations and actions. 

It gets worse. Watson adds:
Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, isn’t listed on the open letter. I assume it’s because he was too busy making reproductive justice one of AU’s core issues. In fact, I just stopped typing this post for a few minutes so I could go donate $25 to AU. You should, too.
This is the work of a professional troll.

Items to consider:

  1. At no time has Barry Lynn or AU made a statement criticizing CFI's letter. Watson implies that they declined to sign the letter, however the facts of the matter may simply be they were not yet asked to sign the letter.
  2. Watson calls out AU's womens' rights work just to stab at the signers of the letter. Oddly enough, CFI is sponsoring "Women in Secularism" which Watson happens to be speaking at. But in the context of this article, Watson conveniently forgets that in order to make CFI seem like an archaic old boy's club.
Watson continues:
Once all that is taken care of, I think the tablet looks great. I’m a big fan of moderating blogs and forums. I’m a big fan of listening, and helping others, and being charitable, and those things are so, so easy to do in a community where I’m not relentlessly attacked from within. For instance, the disagreements I have with other feminists are by and large productive and interesting. Maybe one day I can say the same about secularists.
Translation: "Now that I've fragged a whole bunch of secular organizations, let me tell you how charitable I am when conversing with people that aren't a bunch of atheist dickheads." (the d-word being one that is acceptable in Skepchick circles)

What does it look like Watson is doing?

From an altruistic viewpoint, Watson may sincerely believe her biting criticism of the letter and her $25 donation to AU is going to do something for the status of women everywhere. (More on the likelihood of this later)

However, for one that has one iota of experience in office politics knows it appears Watson is positioning herself to be consulted in the future.

If a colleague is known to fly off the handle and sabotage projects that does not pay them enough respect, it turns out that there is a tendency to then rethink relationships with that individual. The distance between the entities must change.

Once more - Watson's motivations may simply be an objective beef with the contents of the letter.

A skeptical viewpoint would wonder what the response would have been if one could not vary the contents, but the process in which the letter was created.

What if Watson was given the draft but could not edit it? Would she sign? Nothing about Watson's response suggests that the organizations even asked Watson to sign, which may have stoked the fire here.

What if the letter was not signed by a secular leaders, but rather a CFI blogger? Perhaps a female blogger? Almost immediately, Watson's "stone tablet" tag line would evaporate and the skepticism of the authors experiences would conceivably be more muted if present at all.

Let's table this for now.

$25 to Americans United to fight for "reproductive justice"? Are you kidding?

This is all kinds of nonsense.

There already exists plenty of effective organizations working in the realm of reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood, for example, has a $1 billion USD annual budget and they have plenty of opinions on the subject. Additionally NARAL Pro-Choice America, which focuses on lobbying for removal of abortion restrictions, has about a $4 million dollar budget.

The goals of secular groups do not prioritize reproductive rights, nor do they encompass reproductive rights. This might surprise people, but organizations like "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" (an organization now $25 richer) and the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" are not incorporated to address reproductive justice as their main goal. They are only happily engaged in it as far as religion is. To the same degree religion invades government to restrict reproductive choices secular groups will find cause to raise that as a violation of the First Amendment. This is by happy accident and not necessarily the core motivations of the organizations.

Only engaging with explicitly secular groups makes the charity of "atheists" seem questionable. When Christians tithe up to 10% of their salary, it ends up being a ridiculous amount of money. Even supplemental organizations are raking in the money:

  • Catholic Charities USA : $4 Billion
  • LDS Humanitarian Services : Another crazy sum of money
  • Salvation Army : Another organization that is not required to report, but likely an absurd figure.
What is typically the atheist response to this generosity?

Secular groups tend to point at:
  • American Red Cross : $ 4 billion
  • Doctors without Borders (USA) :  $ 200 million
  • Planned Parenthood : $ 1 billion
  • Local food banks, fraternal groups and humane societies
The line of reasoning is that atheists aren't giving to Catholic Charities, however they most assuredly are giving to these well-financed, and possibly more effective organizations without any religious affiliation.

"But wait!", the religionist now says, "There are explicitly atheist charities!".

Yes. Since Americans United picked up the baton for reproductive rights, why wouldn't CFI try and feed the hungry?

Now we're left with these groups:
  • Americans United : $ 8 million
  • FFRF : $ 3 million
  • American Atheists : who knows
  • American Humanist Association : $ 2 million
  • Council for Secular Humanism : $ 3 million
Wait, why did we cross Americans United off the list?

It turns out that they aren't necessarily an atheist organization. Barry Lynn is an ordained minister and supports secular government, but that does not mean that AU is part of a "secular community".

The key part about Americans United is the word United - they specifically are not a "free thought", "skeptic" or "atheist" organization because it would undermine unity.

Their summary in Wikipedia:
Americans United is officially non-sectarian and non-partisan. Its national headquarters are in Washington, D.C.. It has both religious and non-religious members, as well as members from various political parties. Many members of the clergy have been involved in the work of Americans United.
The group has admirable focus. The First Amendment of the US constitution.  That's it.

Here is the big joke here - in order to goad secular community leaders into expanding their scope, Skepchick has stumped for a group that does not even desire to see the secular community expand.

What are the strategic goals of Skepchick and AtheismPlus leading us to?

A single organization. One that supports all of their social justice goals. That might earn about a half million dollars worldwide, in a good year.

It is a concept borrowed from Lord of the Rings, in that they have this fantasy that they can model a group around themselves and then a miracle will occur.

Let's throw this insane idea into Mount Doom.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Skepchick loves the d-word

Some time ago, Tim Minchin asked a question about the "c-word":

Obviously this warranted a response from the Skepchick herself:

It seems apparent there is a disconnect about what the c-word means around the world.

One thing seemed odd - don't SkepChicks like to throw the word "dick" around?

If you do a search for the d-word on their website, you get all sorts of hits.

There is even a letter to Richard Dawkins that starts affectionately "Dear Dick". (It's because his name is Richard, do you get it?!? Ugh...)

Then there is then the articles written by Watson entitled "Don’t Be A Dick" which appears to be a series of at least two parts.

Then we're lead into the holy grail of SkepChick's love of the word "dick"

Post from 2009: "Defending Dick – genitalia, profanity and insults"

Short on time? Read the recap below.

Written by "Elyse":
[...] an email we received a couple of weeks ago from someone who liked the article, but not my writing style. She said she “wasn’t offended”, but felt that my frequent use of the word “dick” demonstrated a double standard since no one at Skepchick throws the word “cunt” around in the same way.
I found the article to be fascinating. But I take exception to Elyse’s frequent use of the word “dick”. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not “offended”! But I think it is unprofessional and it reflects a double standard.
As we know, men tend to be offended less easily. But if the word “dick” is okay, then there really is no reason that the word “cunt” should not also be okay. However, I do not see ANYBODY going around calling other people “cunthole”. There must be some reason why. 
Less double-standard, please. Then your articles will carry more credibility. People know the authors are female from the name of the site. It is not necessary to pound that home with a sharpened sledgehammer. Doing so makes you appear to be pissed off and defensive, rather than objective. 
Other than that, keep up the good work.
I appreciate that Jane Q. Public is not “offended”, but rather is merely put off by my need to pound my gender home with a sharpened sledge hammer. I also understand that she thinks the girls at Skepchick should stop picking on the boys just because they’re tougher than us.
But I think that the reason we can throw the word “dick” around so freely and not “cunt” has nothing to do with each gender’s relative skin thickness. It has to do with what the words mean in context. 
The word “dick” is only similar to the word “cunt” in that they are both slang for those body parts generally reserved for significant others, Catholic priests and Skepchick calendars. They are also the kind of names that get your mouth washed out if you use them to describe your sibling when your grandmother is in earshot. But as an insult, they do not carry equal weight. And as degrading references to gender, they are even less equal. 
Let’s keep score here. Dick is an insult. It is aimed generally at men, and refers to a penis. Cunt is an insult. It is aimed generally at women and refers to a vagina. On that comparison, no Sexist Degradation Points awarded to either term. Cunt: 0, Dick:0 
Dick, while generally applied to men, can be used in gender neutral situations. If you don’t know the gender of the person in front of you, who is driving like an asshole, you might call that person a dick. The term “cunt” is reserved for once you’ve seen that driver, and that driver is, undoubtedly, female. Sexist Degradation Points: Cunt +1, Dick 0 
Cunt and dick are both used to communicate that the insultee is unpleasant or unlikable, a person you would likely prefer to avoid if given the option. But the word cunt is closely related to the word “bitch”; both words almost exclusively used to describe women. Dick is mostly used when describing men, but not with the same exclusivity. You only call a man a cunt if you are being ironic or campy. SDP: Cunt +1, Dick 0 
If I were to call you a dick, I would not be saying that you are acting in a manner consistent with possessing male genitalia in your Dockers. Cunt and pussy mean exactly that, but female rather than male. If I call you a “pussy” I’m saying that you are physically weak or emotionally soft like a girl. You are not strong and manly. You possess traits that are undesirable and therefore you are acting like a woman; you are acting like a vagina. Cunt, on the other hand, does not mean that you are weak and womanly, it means that you are unpleasant and bitchy. You are like a woman who is having her period, a ball of hormonal rage… a bloody cunt. SDP: Cunt +2, Dick 0 
For these two words to be sexist equals, you have to be able to swap them out in the same way. 
If I say, “Rebecca, you are acting like such a cunt today.” Do I mean, You are acting like your girly genitals are doing all of your talking today, and you’re seriously pissing people off? 
Yes, that is exactly what I mean.* I mean that a man in her situation would handle it completely differently. He wouldn’t get his panties in a wad. He wouldn’t have to act like a controlling bitch to get the job done. 
If I say, “Sam, you are acting like such a dick today.” Do I mean, You are acting like your manly genitals are controlling your actions today, and you’re seriously pissing people off?
Nope, not at all. I am saying that he’s being a jerk.** If anything, I’m saying that by virtue of his penis, at least his jerkiness is not him acting like a pussy.
SDP: Cunt: +1, Dick -1.
Cunt is arguably the worst insult you can hurl at a woman. You could call her a bitch, but that’s not enough… what’s a step beyond bitch? Cunt. What’s worse than cunt? Fucking cunt? Goddamn cunt? Goddamn fucking cunt? After cunt, it’s just a matter of qualifying her amount of cuntiness. 
It’s a word that is generally reserved, even by those of us who are unabashedly profane, for the worst situations. It is more than a word. It is a statement. You are not saying that this woman is just unpleasant, but that she embodies everything that is evil and wrong with women. It’s the word people use when they can’t come up with the words to articulate how much they hate a woman. Calling a woman a cunt is the equivalent of calling a black man a nigger or a gay man a faggot. But you really can’t throw around words like nigger and faggot without coming across as an ignorant hick. But with the right delivery, cunt makes a profound statement about the person being described. 
But is dick the worst thing you can call a man? Is it any worse than asshole? Is asshole the worst thing you can call a man? I doubt it. 
Here’s an example – last night, I was watching the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father. It’s about a boy, Zachary, whose mother found out she was pregnant with him shortly after she killed his father. At one point, Zachary’s grandfather calls the woman a cunt, or maybe a fucking cunt either way, it really works. It tells you exactly what he thinks of her. A woman murders your only son, she’s a fucking cunt. 
“You murdered my family, you… you… you cunt!” 
But let’s flip it. Let’s say it was a man who murdered their only daughter. Can you really call him a dick? 
“You murdered my family, you… you… you dick!” 
It only works if it’s the first time you’ve ever used profanity. Otherwise it sounds like you’re trying to parody South Park’s famed “You killed Kenny”. 
Dick is more appropriate for the following exchange: 
Guy 1: You ate all my PopTarts, you dick. 
Guy2: Geez, I’ll buy you another box. No need to be such a dick about it.
Compared with:
Girl1: You ate all my PopTarts, you cunt. 
Girl2: Geez, I’ll buy you another box, No need to be a cunt about it. 
See? The second one is actually pretty funny to me because the exchange is so bizarre. SDP: Cunt +10, Dick +0 
Go ahead and add up the points yourself. I don’t think a total is necessary. 
Flippantly using the word dick, I will concede, isn’t professional – but neither is posing topless for the Skepchick calendar. But, you may be surprised to hear, I am not a professional journalist. Hell, unless you count Wii Sports Boxing, I’m not a professional anything. 
But as for treating men unfairly by using the word dick? C’mon. It’s a nice sentiment that the sexes are equal, our genitals are equal, and that insulting one gender is insulting everyone; but it’s not the reality. Until “dick” is used with the same hatred and venom that “cunt” is, I will continue to use it. Likewise, once Jon Stewart starts throwing around “cunt” nightly in lighthearted commentary without backlash, I will use it, too. Because that’s fair. 
But I won’t use “boob” as an insult. That sounds like something an old and creepy guy would say. And besides, what’s better than boobs?
*That is exactly what I mean in this completely hypothetical statement. IRL, I totally heart Rebecca. She pays us in love and candied unicorn poop, and we adore her for it.
**If his manly genitals were controlling him, he’d either be peeing on everything or having sex with everyone he saw… that’s generally not referred to as “being a dick”, but rather “I’m calling security. You’re fired.”

  1. Apparently "dick" and "cunt" are based on character attributes assigned to genitals, with one set having more negative connotations than the other.
  2. "Dick" can be used in various contexts but "cunt" is universally awful.
  3. The term "cunt" is apparently reserved for women.
  4. "Cunt" is particularly offensive in mainstream American culture for reasons not explored, therefore it should not be used.
  5. After analysis of nothing but the author's experience, it has been determined that "cunt" is the most worst thing you could call a woman - nobody is sure if a word of similar weight exists when applied to men but we need not think about it. (maybe it is "angry virgin"?)
  6. "Cunt" is a word that is hateful and venomous, therefore nobody should use it. Unless everyone does use it, then it will not be hateful and venomous, and the author would use it.

This has it all:
  1. Circular reasoning
  2. Subjective arguments
  3. Hypocritical behavior
That's so Skepchick.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pharyngula is misopedist

Joe Rogan tweeted some things recently that were a little.. provocative to say the least. PZ shared the complete set on Pharyngula:

  • "I view women that don't like children the same way I view dogs that like to eat their own shit."
  • "My "women who don't like children..." tweet has tapped into a whole community of child hating women. How simultaneously odd and gross"
  • "To clarify - there's nothing with not WANTING children, but if you don't LIKE children you're most likely a hateful twat."
  • "To all the white knights coming to the defense of women who hate kids - they're still not going to fuck you weak bitches."
  • "Sad white knight men automatically supporting women on all issues are nothing but gender traitors. Know this: the zombies will eat you first"
  • "If you're a man and you call yourself a feminist I hope you choke to death on a vegan pizza while crying over a lady gaga song"


But hold up for a second. 

While the comparison to dogs is quite over the top, is it unreasonable to dislike people for disliking other people?

It doesn't sound very crazy on second reading.

Of course, PZ adds his opinion:
How odd. Personally, I like some children, especially my own, but I don’t automatically melt into affectionate reverence when I see one; I have no problem with someone electing to not have children of their own. [...] It’s OK to not want kids, or even to detest the very idea of having kids, as long as you avoid having them and making them as miserable as they’d make you.
PZ again fails at reading comprehension (remember when he misread Julian?) because this is precisely the same sentiment that Rogan shared when he said it's entirely acceptable to not want kids.
But the way it’s phrased by Rogan is so weird: if you don’t like children, it’s equivalent to indulging in process that is disgusting to others. You are socially and psychologically required to want children, or you a morally reprehensible person. That’s a mindset I can’t embrace.
At no point did Rogan state that must want children. But PZ continues along anyways...
We get a lot of the equivalent attitude from right-wingers: if you’re a man who doesn’t like having sex with women, you’re a vile human being.
This is how it works in PZ land:

If you don't like people of a particular age group, that's fine.

If you don't like people that don't like people of a particular age group, then you're a violent homophobe... ?

Which leads into the real repugnant attitude here: all of his comments are addressed to women. Women, you must love children, if you don’t, you’re odd, gross, weak, a “hateful twat”. I have to ask…what about the men? 
That’s the more disturbing part of his rant. He’s trying to shame women into doing something he considers vitally important, apparently, but men…eh, they aren’t part of his concern. We men can go ahead and dislike children, and that doesn’t make us weak and gross.
 PZ builds a straw-man Joe Rogan.

At no point has Rogan stated that men don't get a free pass.

Here's a tip: People tend to share a lot of opinions about qualities they like in the opposite sex. It doesn't mean they give their own gender a free pass.

For example, when a man says "I like thin women", it does not mean "It's OK for men to be morbidly obese".

Alas, PZ has no problem putting words in Joe's mouth just to slander his name though.
Don’t worry, though. He’s a comedian. He’ll say he’s just joking around.
Which happens to be exactly the same thing PZ says on a regular basis.

Onto the comments:

Akira MacKenzie (#24) writes:

Joe Rogan is pretty tight with Penn Jillette. ‘Nuff said.
 Anthony K (#29) adds:
Hey D.J., another speaker to line up for next year’s TAM.
optimalcynic (#30) writes:
I view women who don’t want to have children as prime life partner material.
And women who don’t like children at all (a subset of the above) as excellent companions, because we can all have a chuckle over the woes of the bechilded :)
Goodbye Enemy Janine (#41) writes:
Please be aware, Justin Vacula has declared Joe Rogan to be a #BraveHero.
Anthony K (#43) writes:
He can talk about 9/11 being an inside job at TAM!
Goodbye Enemy Janine (#61) writes:
One would think that among the last people that should have children are people who do not like children.
Oh, wait, I keep forgetting that one of the essence of being a woman is the absolute desire to have children.
mythbri: (#62) writes:
I don’t want kids. In general, I don’t like kids.
Caine (#83) writes:
*Men are childfree too. That seems to get missed a lot. I guess because it’s okay for them.
naturalcynic (#119) writes:
Liking children is just a matter of not overcooking and using the proper herbs to season them.
When people show up to the thread to explain that "Rogen didn’t actually say that women had to breed but just like kids." people entirely dismiss the facts!

Ichthyic (#135) explains what Joe was really thinking:
actually, he really was saying that. 
you have to know people like him to be able to read correctly between the lines.

The Recap:
  1. Nearly the entirety of the angry commenters misread Rogan's comments in the same way Myers' did and assumed Rogan was stating that women ought to want kids.
  2. Random comment digs at Penn Jillette, making the statement that Rogan's association with Jillette is enough to dismiss Rogan immediately for some reason.
  3. Another comment forms a relationship between Rogan and Justin Vacula, again in the line of thinking that there is a network of evildoers that may be disregarded.
  4. Several shots are made at DJ Grothe and TAM, even though Grothe and the organization he leads has nothing to do with Rogan's comments whatsoever.
  5. Even after being told what Rogan did indeed say, commenters went as far as to explain what Rogan really meant was actually the complete inverse of what he stated.
  6. Thread contains random jokes about eating children as meals.

The Questions:
  1. Is Pharyngula ageist?
  2. Would it be OK to have a thread among people discussing how they don't "like" women and find them prone to irrationality and emotion?
  3. Would it be OK to have the same discussion about seniors? Various people discussing that they don't "like" old people and their behavior.
  4. Would it be OK for conferences to exclude children, given that the attendees don't "like" them?

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.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

AtheismPlus hates the Human Rights Campaign

It's been a while since we've inspected the "Atheism Plus" forums.

What is new there?

Well, if you aren't already aware, there is a gay rights group in the United States called "Human Rights Campaign". (HRC for short)

Among other things, they advocate for things like gay marriage. Nothing wrong with that, right?


AtheismPlus hates Human Rights Campaign.

Thread titled: "Social Media on Marriage Equality: The Equal Sign"

A little history here: HRC's logo was previously a yellow equal sign on blue background

User "NoGodsNoMasters" writes:
So, has anyone got an opinion on the surge of equal signs on social media the past couple of days?
I first noticed it when George Takei on FB brought it up, changing his profile picture to a pink and red equal sign, to bring attention to the SCOTUS hearings this week.
I have seen many many people copy and spread it around.
My personal opinion:
It's cute. I suppose it means something. I have considered changing my picture to it, but I think it might be something of bandwaggoning or peer pressure. I have been a vocal proponent of marriage equality for a long time, regularly bringing it up to people who wouldn't otherwise have had their beliefs challenged. But this just seems... late? Like it's something the popular kids do.
Also, I'm not going to be dispairaging about the "effort" put in by millions of people all over to show their support. I don't always think that a consciousness raising campaign like this on social media means nothing, sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't. I feel like this could really mean something. I certainly have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of people on my friends list who have only just now publically showed their support for equal marriage rights. These are sometimes people who I really thought didn't care, didn't care enough to find out, or maybe were too religious (in believing that it was wrong in some god's eyes), but loads of people have come out in support and I love knowing that.
But... I can't help but feel like if they had been more vocal, more accepting, more active in the first place rather than everyone doing this very little thing now, maybe things would have changed a lot faster. And that's why I haven't changed my profile picture. Because I feel like nothing about me has changed, I am still the same with the same feelings about the issue. I don't think I have to come out to anyone to show my opinion on the matter. It should already be well known if they know me enough to have me friended.
Translation: "I supported gay marriage before it was cool."

This is also in line with other A+ threads. It is the norm on A+ to not so much trade actions or ideas, but opinions.

More HRC "haters" chime in - "Richard_Austin" writes:

I live in California. I know people who voted for Prop 8 who are now putting this up. My emotional response is a mix of "good for you for changing," and "fuck off, this is your fault to begin with" - and, honestly, a bit more the latter than the former.
For most of the people I know, the social or political cost of changing an FB icon to this is very little to nothing at all. Many (most?) of them will never do anything else to ever actively support marriage equality. This, and most "campaigns" like this, seems patronizing. I know that peer pressure and social awareness are big things in advancing social justice, but it still feels like appropriation.
Translation: "Sure, you support gay marriage now, but what have you done for me lately?"

"qmartindale" downplays the campaign:
It's a minor gesture of solidarity.

Can you believe these A+ people? A+ calling the HRC campaign a "minor gesture" is like your local t-ball team criticizing the New York Yankees.

"Kassiane" writes:
Like, solidarity is good. Yay solidarity. Yay not being a bigoted douche.
Except I've heard that the campaign involved throws trans* folks under the bus, and I'm not ok with that.
Wait, what? Where is this "under the bus" coming from? It will soon become clear.

"Mocha" adds: kinda seems like a lot of people who are doing it are the faux-allies. These are the people who are cookie beggars. I've seen one person who is a friend who is gay put it up, but none of the others (that I know of). And...I feel like that kinda says something. I haven't been following the campaign, which I probably should, and I did hear as well that they're throwing trans* under the bus and that is totally not okay.
Grimalkin writes:
I'm seconding Richard Austin, patronizing is how this feels. A lot of the same people putting it up because it's popular are the same who are casually homophobic and hateful because it's popular. I wouldn't doubt that the same girls who found out that a girl they hugged was a lesbian and went 'ewww' are doing this, and I'll guarantee that there are libertarians and republicans and romney-voters who actively made this happen with them up. 
Support me with actions that matter. Actually speak up when you see hatred. Get out with a picket sign, campaign for our rights, fight the bigots, vote for the non-bigots, all that shit that matters that us gay people can't do (except vote!) because we legitimately have to fear outing and violence if we do so. Don't just put up a little red equals sign and wipe off your hands and call it a day if you want me to consider you an ally, and especially don't do that if you don't even know where it comes from or what it means or if you don't really care. I'd rather have a little bit of genuine support than a ton of faux-backpat-begging-support.


What do we know now?
  1. HRC supporters are apparantely "faux-allies"
  2. Libertarians and Romney supporters might be among those that support gay marriage! How... tragic?
Where are these "under the bus" comments coming from?

This thread is more direct, titled: "Fuck the HRC"

The OP, "Setar", writes:
"Apparently some HRC people told some trans* activists to take down their trans* pride flags at the marriage equality demonstrations.
Fuck you, fuck you, fucking holy fuck fuck you.
If you didn't know trans* people had their own pride flag, now you know. (Was the original rainbow not inclusive enough?)

If you are at all surprised by Setar's use of the f-bomb, you should read about AtheismPlus' favorite word.

"Zeitgueist" shares in the disdain:
I don't have a lot of familiarity with the HRC, but I've definitely gotten the impression that they were not trans-friendly from friends on other social justice boards. Several people I know expressed irritation that their equal sign was being used so prevalently on Facebook.
"Grimalkin" tries to clarify the problem:
I recall the HRC giving Lana Wachowski an award at some celebration they had.
Good to know they're still shit and don't really care about trans people.
Oh, by good I mean, fuck. Fuck those guys. Why, just, why. Why only equality for some people.
Edit: Also, gay marriage is totally a trans issue. What do you do if you have a trans man/cis man or a trans woman/cis woman or trans man/cis woman or cis man/trans woman who want to get married where the state is wishy washy on trans gender if we're still defining marriage by gender? I mean, yes, that issue goes away for the straight couples if trans people were just considered their gender, but then what about two genderqueer people? If marriage is defined as one man and one woman, then genderqueer people either can't be recognized as their gender when they marry, or they straight up can't marry.
What the fuck.
Let's try to follow this logic: Gender of people getting married will no longer matter, however "genderqueer" people will not be able to check a "genderqueer" box of the form that no longer asks the gender question.

Is this really a problem?

"EllieMurasaki" adds:
Let's not forget the people who are validly married in some states because they have different gender markers on their driver's licenses, but unmarried in other states because they have similar reproductive anatomy.
I suspect the people who wish to define marriage as one man and one woman have no concept of 'genderqueer'. I know a lot of them have no concept of 'transgender' as anything other than 'that poor confused girl, thinking she's a guy'.

Ok, some issues with what EllieMuraski says:

  1. How could we forget the issue that HRC is precisely trying to address? It won't matter if one state thinks your marriage is "straight" or "gay" if both statuses are legal.
  2. It's painfully obvious the "marriage = 1 man + 1 woman" people don't understand your position. Those that support Biblical marriage often have a Biblical view of sexual relations. 
Iguananaut tries to add a tiny bit of sense to the thread:
Officially HRC is pro-transgender rights, but their lobbying efforts and their leadership have always been willing to triangulate on it. I'm not ready to throw the whole organization under the bus though--whenever I've gone into the HRC office in DC the people I talk to there are awesome and certainly trans-friendly. I would think that on the whole most people in the organization, and its supporters, are pro-trans* rights. I don't have any idea who these fucksticks were whining about the trans* flags--fuck them obviously.
"Hamilton" also tries to question their strategy:
If you were in the US in 1860 and you were part of an organization that wanted to give complete freedom and equality to African Americans you wont get it, because wont be OK with the "complete equality" part. But if you talk about abolition, and then start moving for rights and freedoms after you get abolition, you'll end up winning. It's about getting people to do the right thing slowly, because if you rush, you wont get anywhere. If you talk about trans* marriage equality along with homosexual marriage equality, the people who are borderline supportive will drop out of supporting. While the issue is in front of the Supreme Court, it is also in front of the court of public opinion (see for example, the abortion issue, decided in the Supreme Court, but still an issue because of public opinion). Sometimes, things need to be done incrementally. 
I'm not saying that this is their logic, or even that it's strictly OK, just that they might have largely noble motives for their actions.
This sounds like a reasonable disagreement!

How does AtheismPlus respond?

A moderator, user "SubMor", did the following things:

  1. Edited Hamilton's response so readers don't even see it unless they expand the comment specifically
  2. Added a comment "see following post" implying the rebuttal to Hamilton was a slam-dunk
  3. SubMor's reason for the edit was "throwing each other under the bus? not cool." which implies that is in fact what Hamilton was arguing for.
AtheismPlus fails to even have a basic discussion about the issue at hand.

The "slam-dunk" that SubMor cited was the following post by  EllieMurasaki:
"Justice delayed is too often justice denied."
No argument, no rationalization, no assessment of where things are at, just some bathroom-reader tagline.

"Sylvia Sybil" adds:
I'm pretty sure this is their logic. The "we'll come back for you" rhetoric is pretty common when it comes to gays getting things that bis infrequently do and trans* folk almost never do.
And I would say that logic isn't okay. Partly because it creates unequal suffering in a community that's supposedly united to end their own suffering. And partly because, well, they rarely do come back for those left behind.
In AtheismPlus' strange reality, once gay marriage is legal, transsexuals will be still left out in the rain and will not benefit whatsoever from HRC's successes.

Is this accurate?

SubMor (the strategist) responds:
Hamilton, it is never okay to tell someone "we can't give you your rights because if we try to give you rights, it'll be harder for us to get our own rights." What you're talking about isn't incremental change. It's accepting the status quo for you because "screw you, I've got to get mine." It's playing right into that "divide and conquer" kyriarchy nonsense.
Why stop at trans rights, SubMor?

It's a wonder why AtheismPlus doesn't also push single payer universal healthcare at the same time.

The rest of the exchange:

Incremental change: 'First we will fight for equal marriage laws for everyone, then we will fight for equal adoption rights for everyone'
Shit HRC is doing 'First we will fight for rights for cisgender people, then we will fight for transgender rights. Maybe.'
Hamilton: (the protagonist of this story):
I'm sorry if I've left my ivory tower often enough to realize that the options are basically "equality for some now, and come back for the rest tomorrow" or "equality for no one".
That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Rights are rights, quit fucking condescending to me about waiting for a better season =/
edit: oh also the TransGriot piece deals with your bullshit. you should probably go read it.
False dichotomy, Hamilton. Nothing says you can't advocate for equality for all.
Furthermore, history shows that "come back for the rest tomorrow" usually doesn't happen. How many white suffragettes campaigned against Jim Crow and literacy tests once they got their right to vote?
That is a really supremely shitty thing to say to the people who have been waiting on their rights this whole time, and are being told they still don't count as human beings as much as these other folks over here, so they're gonna have to wait some more.
Well, I see hamilton has learned nothing...
And of course the thing I keep pointing out is that many trans* people can already get gay-married, which is just kind of ridiculous. But they can't get straight-married. Just legalizing marriage for everyone regardless of their sex or gender will straighten all this nonsense out. So yeah, it's every bit as much a trans* issue as it is a gay issue.
I'm hanging my head in shame pretty hard ATM because back in the 70s, straight cis women like me were pretty happy to throw lesbian rights under the bus if that was a sticking point when 'women's rights' were discussed. You'd think there would be lesbians in the HRC old enough to remember that and recognize it how crappy it is.
My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Human rights are for every human being, not just for the ones who can scramble to the top. Advocating human rights for some but not all people is bullshit.
Sylia Sybil: think the trans* people and other people in this thread can only disagree with you if they live in an ivory tower?
I have some really bad news for you: trans* people are at the bottom of the shit heap. The whole protest against the HRC is against the ivory tower mentality that it's okay to focus on the subgroup statistically most well-off and ignore the subgroup statistically least well-off because politics. The idea that it's okay to ignore human suffering now because it'll all work out in the long run is about as isolated from reality as you can get.
Those lesbians were generally busy throwing trans* people under the bus in order to try and get back that very "respectability" =/
That's a wrap.

Thread recap:

  1. Hamilton points out that the AtheismPlus gang is essentially arguing with a straw man they created of him/her and that his/her approach is one based in pragmatism.
  2. Hamilton is told that their input was "bullshit" and a "false dichotomy"
  3. According to one user, slavery would be solved the AtheismPlus way, in which they would both abolish slavery and prevent Jim Crow laws simultaneously.
  4. User "ceepolk" shows up in the thread just to call Hamilton uneducated
  5. User "Iguananaut" admits that legalizing gay marriage does benefit trans* people, yet this realization somehow does not change the tone of the discussion.
  6. Other users paint a tragic tale of the existence of trans* people - they're "the bottom of the shit heap", being thrown "under the bus" and treated in a sub-human manner.
Now, on to the questions.

Questions for the AtheismPlus crowd:

If we fight for gay marriage and trans* rights, are we not throwing the polyamorous under the bus?

When fighting for reform of marriage law, can we not also solve all related family law issues? 

Conservatives often point out how marriage is related to child rearing, so perhaps now is the time to normalize child custody laws across the country. Think of the children.

Please, AtheismPlus, solve all our problems all at once.