PZ Myers and the Little Shop of Hatred

by Michael Nugent on July 28, 2015

Update: PZ Myers has now closed down the social interaction aspect of his blog, after blaming his commenters for attacking an insider in the way that he has always encouraged them to attack outsiders. He also complains that FreeThought Blogs itself is ‘less a unified group than a disparate collection of loosely affiliated blogs that have found a convenient hosting service.’

PZ’s new view on community-building is that ‘we are all objects in space, drifting, occasionally bouncing off each other or tugging gently at each other’s masses. And that’s about it.’ PZ now says that he ‘will be a cold dark ember of a star, following my own whims, drifting alone, not trying to create a hospitable atmosphere.’

This shows that PZ Myers has learned nothing useful from the Little Shop of Hatred that he created and nourished until he lost control of it.  Yesterday I wrote that, while I welcomed PZ’s diminishing influence in the international atheist movement, I would also welcome a genuine conversion by him to civility and empathy and fairness and justice. This has not happened. So be it.

Original post follows:

PZ Myers, who made and broke his reputation by being hostile and uncharitably misrepresenting people, is now criticising his own commenters for being hostile and uncharitably misrepresenting his friend Ophelia Benson.

PZ Myers is right to defend Ophelia from unjust attacks. But his commenters were only doing to an insider what PZ himself has for years encouraged them to do to outsiders, led by the example of his own hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric.

This is the online community equivalent of the movie Little Shop of Horrors, in which flower shop assistant Seymour repeatedly feeds an exotic plant’s ever-greater craving for human blood, until the plant finally grows large enough to turn on Seymour himself and destroy the flower shop.

But the bloodthirsty plant is not an analogy for PZ’s commenters, some of whom seem vulnerable and unjustly hurt in life themselves. It is an analogy for the channelling of anger, which can sometimes be valid, into personal hatred and unjust behaviour towards outsiders.

I believe PZ and his commenters genuinely want to see social justice, whatever it is that means to them. But you cannot bring about social justice by spreading hatred of outsiders, and you cannot bring about any justice by unjustly attacking anyone.

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Special Needs Assistants evangeliseSpecial Needs Assistants must evangelise vulnerable children in State-funded Irish schools. It is not an occupational requirement of a Special Needs Assistant to teach religion, but they still must be prepared to evangelise vulnerable children into a religious way of life.

This is a breach of the right of atheist and minority faith Special Needs Assistants to access employment in most national primary schools without acting against their conscience, as well as a breach of the human rights of atheist and minority faith families who have children with special needs.

You can read here about how Irish school teachers must be missionaries for the Catholic Church.

Today Atheist Ireland has published the employment criteria of a State-funded Irish school for Special Needs Assistants. This shows that the requirement to be a missionary for the Catholic Church is not just confined to all teachers, but applies to Special Needs Assistants as well.

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Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries

by Michael Nugent on July 16, 2015

AI Bishop O'Reilly 2Atheist Ireland has produced a report that explains how Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries. The vast majority of publicly funded schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church, and if you want to get a job as a teacher you have to:

(a) have a Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies, which has as a programme objective that the trainee teacher ‘engage in personal reflection, research and discourse with a view to enhancing their own religious awareness,’ and which includes such learning outcomes as ‘demonstrate competence in the planning of liturgy, prayer and sacraments (Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation) in the Catholic primary school,’ and

(b) uphold the religious ethos of the school, which the Catholic Church sees as a central part of the mission of the Church, and part of the commission given by the Risen Christ to the apostles in Mt 28:18: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

Failing to comply with this religious discrimination will mean that your chances of gaining employment are slim, and that you can be dismissed if you fail to uphold the religious ethos of the patron.

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Gilligan misrepresents Abdullah al AndalusiTelegraph writer Andrew Gilligan misrepresents Abdullah al Andalusi of the Muslim Debate Initiative, by implying that Abdullah (pictured) is a sympathiser for ISIS and terrorism. This claim contradicts Abdullah’s public talks and writings, as well as private conversations with me and other members of Atheist Ireland.

Andrew’s Telegraph article, titled “By day, at heart of counter-terror policing. And by night, preacher of extremism,” selectively and misleadingly quotes from an article Abdullah wrote last year titled “Has the Caliphate been re-established by ISIS?” Abdullah has since countered Andrew’s claims in a new article titled “A response to Andrew Gilligan’s disingenuous distortion of my views.”

I have publicly debated with Abdullah twice, and I have dined with him and others on three occasions, during which we had time to discuss our beliefs in a more considered way. On each of these occasions, both I and other members of Atheist Ireland were satisfied that Abdullah is a sincere person who condemns terrorism and ISIS in particular.

Unsurprisingly, we disagreed with him fundamentally (and he with us) on the theological arguments for the existence of a god; on the benefits of liberal democracy, which we believe to be the best basis for a fair and just society; and on many of the rules of Islam, which we believe infringe on the human rights of women and various minorities. However, there was no disagreement between us on the point that terrorism is unjustified.

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Help change the Irish Penal Law of 2015: end discrimination against teachers who are atheist

July 11, 2015

The Irish Government is proposing a Bill to protect LGBT teachers, while allowing discrimination against atheist and minority faith teachers. Atheist Ireland is campaigning to change this Bill so that it protects all teachers equally. This is a rare opportunity to change an unjust law and promote equality. here’s how you can help. Share the above image […]

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Atheist Ireland asks Council of Europe to protect human rights in Irish schools with O’Keeffe ruling

July 10, 2015

Atheist Ireland has made a report to the Council of Europe about the Louise O’Keeffe judgment last year in the European Court of Human Rights, a ruling that has implications for all of the human rights that are breached by religiously-run national schools in Ireland. We are asking the Council of Europe to not close […]

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Atheist Ireland to lobby EU, as Irish State says EU sanctions discrimination against atheist teachers

July 9, 2015

After today’s Seanad debate, the Bill to protect teachers from religious discrimination in schools will still not protect atheist or religious minority teachers at all, including Protestant or Muslim teachers, who cannot access the teaching profession in Ireland. Atheist Ireland will be conducting an intensive lobbying campaign about this between now and when the Bill […]

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Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan does not have a photographic memory of atheists

July 3, 2015

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said yesterday that she was particularly motivated to protect LGBT teachers from discrimination, when some LGBT teachers were afraid to have their photographs taken with the President for fear that action would be taken against them in their schools. But last February, at a meeting with Atheist Ireland, an atheist student […]

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Labour Party forgets its pledge to protect atheist teachers

July 2, 2015

The Labour Party seems to have forgotten the pledge in the Programme for Government to protect non-faith and minority faith teachers along with publicly out LGBT teachers, despite the Labour Party claiming political ownership of that particular Government commitment. A Labour Party press release today is now selectively recasting it as a pledge to protect […]

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Government’s new protections for teachers would still discriminate against atheist teachers

July 2, 2015

The Bill to amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act – that allows religious schools and hospitals to discriminate on the ground of religion – was discussed in the Seanad this afternoon. Senators Katherine Zappone and Averil Power made strong contributions on the importance of any sanctions being related to specific work-related conduct that […]

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