Atheist Ireland Forum Moderating Policy

by Michael Nugent on March 5, 2013

Atheist Ireland has removed from our Forum several posts which we consider to be sexist, racist and/or shaming, and we would like to apologise for allowing our Forum to be used as a platform for such material.

We would like to thank Skepsheik for bringing this to our attention. As with any voluntary organisation, we are always grateful to people who assist us in identifying areas where we can improve what we do.

The posts that we have removed include several jokes published by people who were suspended or banned several years ago. We should of course have also removed these posts at that time, and we have now done so.

We are now in the process of reviewing all of the historical posts on our Forum, to ensure that they are consistent with the policy we adopted at our 2012 AGM on making Atheist Ireland inclusive:

  • Be inclusive, caring and supportive of people of all races, genders, sexualities and abilities
  • Include people of diverse backgrounds on our organizing committees and event panels
  • In particular, aim for a reasonable gender balance in our activities
  • Host family-friendly events including museum visits, outdoor activities and brunches
  • Host our events in venues suitable for wheelchair users
  • Host our events in ways that accommodate people with other disabilities
  • Make our website as usable as possible for people with disabilities
  • Develop policies to help people to feel safe and enjoy themselves at our activities
  • Support the anti-harassment policy of Atheist Alliance International

In recent years, much of our online discussion has migrated from our Forum to our Facebook Page, where we have recently adopted a moderation policy aimed at making members feel welcome. That policy also applies to our Forum.

We would like to thank all of our members who have helped to improve our online interaction in recent years, and we look forward to many more years of enjoyable and useful discussion both on Facebook and our Forum.

Notice on Atheist Ireland website

Update: Comments on our Blasphemy.ie website

Skepsheik, that you for again bringing to our attention (below) that there are comments on one our websites that are offensive.

That website is a campaign website for the repeal of the Irish blasphemy law, which was passed in 2009 and became operational on 1 January 2010.

We believe it is important that people are not criminalised (or in Islamic states, beaten or murdered) for making comments that are offensive to religious people on the basis of their religious beliefs.

There is, as you know, a distinction between something being illegal and something being immoral or unethical.

On the day that the law became operational, Atheist Ireland published 25 quotes that would be blasphemous under the definition in the new law.

None of the quotes you have cited were in the list officially published by Atheist Ireland. They are all comments posted by visitors to the website.

Nevertheless, we have left them published on our website to make the point that we do not want blasphemy criminalised, even if we ourselves would not personally agree with all of the blasphemous comments that other people make.

We’ll look again at that publishing decision in light of the current discussion.

I think it is important that none of us allow ourselves to remain trapped in insisting that a decision is correct merely because we believed it was correct three years ago.

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ophelia Benson March 5, 2013 at 1:49 am

Brace yourself for the howls about political correctness.

2 Tigzy March 5, 2013 at 2:03 am

So pleased to see you thanking Skepsheik for bringing this to your attention, Michael. Given that he’s known for his cartoons of Peezus and O (where he satirises PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson), it at least shows that those who have demonstrated some mirth at FTB’s expense are certainly not necessarily anti-women and anti-minority.

3 Reap Paden March 5, 2013 at 2:16 am

I’m glad to hear this news and the timing is perfect considering the way you are drawing attention to posts on other forums that you consider abusive, shaming and very disturbing. I’ve always thought it better to clean up your own yard before bringing attention to the condition of your neighbors lawn. Good thing Skepsheik brought the issue to your attention or who knows how long those offensive postings would have stayed up considering no one brought them up prior to now. It’s only human to have biases, it’s been brought to your attention and you are addressing it, so everything turns out well.

4 Skepsheik March 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

Michael, now that you’ve joined forces with the Atheist version of ‘The Moral Majority’ you should expect that the demands you make of others behavior may sometimes be held up as a mirror to your own.
And this is one of those times.
Tell me Michael, why did you need members of ‘The Slymepit’ to point out that your own forum was filled with far worse misogynistic language and imagery than the target of your cherry-picking expedition?
Many of those posts were on your website for more than three or four years.
Are we to seriously believe that you failed to see them all that time?

But it’s all fixed now.
Is it?

If that’s the case then how could I find the following list still present on the blasphemy page of your organizations site?
Why on earth did you allow such material to sit there unchallenged for THREE YEARS.
All these quotes are taken from the busiest page of your entire website so there can be no excuse that it was some unvisited and forgotten link.

1. Misogynistic language, slut shaming: “The “virgin” Mary was so-called because she preferred to take it up the ass when she partied with the shepherds of Judea. Joseph was well aware of this, in fact it was this reputation that attracted him to her. Hence his surprise when she got pregnant. Apparently it was easier to believe the child was the son of God than that some of Joseph’s jizz had dribbled into Mary’s blessed vagina after he pulled out of her ass.”
2. Sexist language, sex worker shaming: “Jesus was a lying bastard son of a whore!”
3. Treating child rape and sexual abuse as a topic for light hearted jokes: “Whats the difference between a priest and a pimple? -the pimple waits until your 13 to come on your face!”
4. Racism, homophobia, bigotry: “Muhammed (piss be upon him) blows gay camels!”
5. Racism, homophobia, bigotry: “Fuck me jeesus, Mohammed, Mary mother, christ dat takes it up the arse. What has the world come to? I did not know Ireland had Ragheads? The whole world is going to Shiate, We need to bring out a new brand of toilet paper. Athiest Double Ply, made from the Koran and the Bible and start wiping our arses with it.”
6. Gendered epithet:” to show the true backwardness and absurdity of religion, far more serious verbal bitch-slapping is required.”
7. Homophobia, sex shaming: “Jesus fucking Mohammed fucking Vishnu fucking Xenu. It’s the four-way-fuck of faith!”
8. Racism, bigotry: ““She’s a little old but Shiate, I’ll have a chop at her persian forrest!” He jumps on board and humps away screaming Allah Ackbad, Allah Ackbad Take my mighty Choad and three hairy balls you Amazonian Infidel.”
9. Racist epithet: “I hope the Pakis fail in their efforts to bring this in at the UN.”
10. Ableist language: “Anyone who believes in any sort of god is a complete and utter moron.”
11. Racist epithet: “‘Jesus is a trick on niggers”
12. Gendered epithet: “I respect all beliefs, what I dont respect is some TWAT or some stupid Political body telling us what we can or cannot say.”
13. Gendered epithet: “if God wants to strike me down… well then… BRING IT ON BITCH!!!”
14. Gendered epithet: ” I SAY YOUR GOD IS A WANKER ,AS ARE THE TWATS WHO FOLLOW THE DIRGE RIDDEN TOME AKA THE BIBLE”
15. Gendered epithet: “Get a life you self hypnotising pricks”
16. Racism, bigotry, albelist language: “If we’re making some moronic reactionary stupid fecking laws maybe we should make a “sensible” one like if you’re a muslim you’re not allowed on a fecking plane!”
17. Gendered epithet: “Never have I seen a God thats such a cunt as God”
18. Praising Hitler: “Fuck this sham of a fucking law, i believe in Hitlerism, don’t mock my saviour”
19. Homophobic, sex shaming: “Couldn’t someone just knock up a cartoon of Jesus fucking Mohammed in the arse”
20. Gendered epithet, homophobia: “God’s cunt is a faggot”
21. Ableist language, fat shaming: “Bjork is an lame brained moron. I am guessing she learned about Buddhism from comic books. Rather than banning blasphemy, (which doesn’t exist in Buddhism), please ban idiocy from porkers like Bjorker.”
22. Homophobia: “WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW! Boning Buddha.”
23. Gendered epithet, sex worker shaming: “Mary was a prostitute who sold her cunt for cash.”
24. Gendered epithet: “Fuck the damn creationists, those bunch of dumb-ass bitches”
25. Sex worker shaming language: “I shit on God, the cross, the carpenter who made it, and the son of a whore who planted the pine.”
26. Pharyngula-style rape torture and murder wishes: “Fuck the “Holy” Mother Church, especially the Irish franchise, and may the pope and all hypocrites get severely thrashed in the bum with a burning iron until they bleed to death.”
27. Racism, homophobia, animal rape: “Muhammad loved it in the ass as well. That is to say, he liked the environment inside a donkey. This is why Islam is rapidly growing; only those of sub-average intelligence could be attracted to such shit.”
28. Homophobia: “The Pope is the leader of the most vile and sickening organisation of sado-masochistic paedophiles, cock suckers, ass fuckers, hypocrites and liars”
29. Making a joke about the serious issue of child abuse: ““Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers.””
30. Violent suicide encouragement: “THE IRISH GOVERNMENT CAN GO AND KILL ITSELF! ! !”
31. Homophobia, joking about child abuse: “about the comment ‘bugger god’, maybe that’s what the priests wanted to do but found their target rather elusive, so picked on children instead. Poor old Ireland!”
32. Sexist language, slut shaming: “just for the record… jesus was a bastard and mary an unmarried tart!”
33. Gendered Epithet: “God is a fucking cunt”
34. Ableist language: “Lets see how fast a moron takes offence to this.”
35. Gendered epithet and misogynistic language: “God fuck Dermot Ahern, the bitch that bred him and the dog she did it with”
36. Antisemitism: “the jews started all this baloney with their fairy tales”
37. Homophobia: “Blasphemy, blasphemy, Jesus takes it up the ass fer me!”
38. Gendered epithet: “Jesus is a cunt”
39. Antisemitism, homophobia: “Jesus and Hitler are gay for eachother”
40. Sexist language: “Why do women love Jesus? Because he’s hung like this (spreads arms)”

I am not even half-way through the page!
There are plenty of people, both atheists and religious, on the page pointing out the puerile nature of many of the quotes.
Why leave it there for three years?
By the way, Ophelia, you turn up in the comment section I’ve highlighted, but only to call God “a shit”. You pointedly failed to challenge the misogynistic, racist and antisemitic language.
Lucky I’m here, isn’t it.

5 Hunt March 5, 2013 at 9:21 am

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “D’Oh!”

6 Za-zen March 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

Trigger warning: For readers not familiar with the type of material published on The Atheist Ireland website, please be aware that you may find the comments quoted in this article to be abusive, shaming and very disturbing.

Michael, which of the following list of gratuitous misogyny, rape apology, sexism, racism, facism, martianism, ism ism, do you consider to be morally unjustified

I’m using examples that were published on The Atheist Ireland website. I could add examples from twitter, YouTube and elsewhere, but I think there is enough here to be representative of the hypocrisy we are discussing. I’ve numbered them to make it easier for you to respond.

[quote]
[List as cited by Skepsheik]
[/quote]

Credit to Skepsheik.

7 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

Michael, I am just curious whether this means that there actually is a place for humour – even vulgar humour – in discourse on the internet and your previous post was misguided.

Or is it that everyone’s been getting it wrong until now and only your visit to the Slymepit has revealed to you the error of your own ways?

In any event, I expect you will now be making the arduous journey down to FfTB and condemning their use of vulgar or offensive language.

Ultimately, I hope your goal can be achieved of the atheist community appearing to be, for all intents and purposes, like a bunch of kids with their grandparents at church on a Sunday.

Sure, we might disagree with grandma and grandpa’s dogma, but us grandkids should all know that it is best not to voice our disagreement or use crude language or humour for that would be impolite, triggering and grandma would make sure we weren’t allowed to go to the water park with our friends (read: conferences) if we keep it up.

8 clod March 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

Given the evidence provided from both AI and FtB it’s beginning to look unlikely that either can claim any sort of moral integrity.

Michael: you should stop now and put your own house in order. I would still appreciate an answer to my questions on the other thread however…..if you can find the time.

9 Michael Kingsford Gray March 5, 2013 at 10:44 am

Za-Zen
Spot on, but not quite!

Michael, which of the following list of gratuitous misogyny, rape apology, sexism, racism, facism, martianism, ism ism, do you consider to be morally unjustified

Michael was asking Mr Vacula to comment on the morailty of remarks over which Mr Vacula had neither say, nor veto, nor jurisdiction.
Whereas Skepsheik’s very PARTIAL list of trangressions against Mr Nugent’s stated policies are DIRECTLY within Michael’s remit & veto.

The difference is “chalk” and “cheese”.
Justin has zero say over the morality of the comments on any site but his own, let alone the effectively unmoderated Slimepit & Slymepit, yet Nugent has full editorial veto on the comments highlit by Skepsheik.

Chalk & Cheese.

Justin Vacula has zero responsibility to answer for any of the supposed immorality of the Slymepit, yet Michael Nugent bears 100% responsibility for the immorality exhibited in the comments to which Skepsheik “alerted” him.

0% versus 100% culpability.

It is my fervent hope that Nugent has learned the meaning of the adage about glass houses, and throwing stones.

10 Michael Nugent March 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

Skepsheik, that you for again bringing to our attention that there are comments on one our websites that are offensive.

That website is a campaign website for the repeal of the Irish blasphemy law, which was passed in 2009 and became operational on 1 January 2010.

We believe it is important that people are not criminalised (or in Islamic states, beaten or murdered) for making comments that are offensive to religious people on the basis of their religious beliefs.

There is, as you know, a distinction between something being illegal and something being immoral or unethical.

On the day that the law became operational, Atheist Ireland published 25 quotes that would be blasphemous under the definition in the new law.

None of the quotes you have cited were in the list officially published by Atheist Ireland. They are all comments posted by visitors to the website.

Nevertheless, we have left them published on our website to make the point that we do not want blasphemy criminalised, even if we ourselves would not personally agree with all of the blasphemous comments that other people make.

We’ll look again at that publishing decision in light of the current discussion.

I think it is important that none of us allow ourselves to remain trapped in insisting that a decision is correct merely because we believed it was correct three years ago.

11 Hunt March 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

Well, it’s going to make for one hell of a conversation in June. If you listen carefully, you can hear a thousand heads hitting desks.

12 Za-zen March 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

So let me get this straight “your god’s a wanker” is not “immoral, but “you’re a cant” may very well be?

I call bullshit. If indeed you are going to occupy ground that deems offending persons to be “immoral” i advise you not ease up on the special pleading.

I choose not to put myself in the position of scramble defences of cognitive dissonance, by stating “your god’s a wanker” and “you’re a cant”.

Logic it’s quite liberating, especially from those who deem to moralise.

(Michael Kingsford Gray, i accept your analysis as to culpability)

13 Za-zen March 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

Should have been “to ease up” not “not ease up).

14 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

Michael, perhaps you were correct earlier and the censorious nature of your colleagues is incorrect? Just a thought.

I appreciate that this would be creating a tension for you. You clearly have allies in the movement (probably a number of them are also friends) who are being rather emotive and are expressing to you their dissatisfaction with (1) the use of certain language and (2) let’s be frank, people expressing disagreement with their ideologies.

However, your disagreeing with them on this issue – which would appear to be your position were it not for those alliances and / or friendships – does not necessarily mean abandoning those alliances / friendships.

If it does, then perhaps your allies aren’t so much your allies as demagogues demanding that you conform to all of their views (much as they were demanding of all of us others in the community who have, by reason of not conforming to those views, ended up ‘on the other side’).

15 Reap Paden March 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

Nevertheless, in the slymepit we make the point that we do not want offensive language criminalized, even if we ourselves would not personally agree with all of the offensive comments that other people make.

See how that works Michael? You say blasphemy, we say offensive.
You really do need to figure out where you stand on all this cause after the latest list Skepsheik provided you really don’t have any right to be critical of anyone else. In other words- Your house is still dirty.

16 Michael Kingsford Gray March 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Oh dear.
Nugent appears to have bitten off more than he can chew.
One only hopes that he jettisons the dogma that he appears to have swallowed, holus bolus, and acquires an actual skeptical outlook on all matters.
To do that, it is an absolute first requirement that he treat gender feminist dogma with skepticism.
For dogma it is. No different from the RCC transubstantiation nonsense.
For BOTH are evidence-free.

But that has no bearing on consistency. Either slurs are acceptable, or they not.
That Nugent thoroughly and outrageously dishonestly cherry-picks from a handful of posts from various sites, (dishonestly implying that they ALL originated at that site), whilst ignoring more serious infractions from the very site over which he has absolute veto power!

Biblical allusions spring to mind, concerning “motes” and “beams”.

I can only conclude that Mr Nugent had
1) Not logically thought through his remarks in any clear long-term fashion, in terms of their implications.
2) Not expected such intense analysis of his vapid acquiescence to his fellow ideological parasites, that his atheist body is a willing host.
3) Assumed that his interlocutors were outrageously foppish pushovers as to metaphorically turn over and expose their bellies for a rub by jet-setting gnu-media parasites, as he seems to have done.
(At the expense of skepticism)

A note very much in Nugent’s favour:
Atheism does not equal Skepticism!
For instance: Raelians are a-theist, but hideously sexist believers in all manner of garbage!
That may be his only “out” by which to explain his total lack of skepticism, and his 100% adherence to dogma and ideology.
Who would have thought that of a Catholic indoctrinated atheist?

The oppressed become the oppressors.

Classic tale.

17 Derek Walsh March 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Disclosure: I am a moderator on the Atheist Ireland forum, but was not when the majority of the posts in question were made.

@Skepsheik:
“Tell me Michael, why did you need members of ‘The Slymepit’ to point out that your own forum was filled with far worse misogynistic language and imagery than the target of your cherry-picking expedition?”

I’m not sure any of the posts on AI’s forum were worse than some of those on the Slymepit. Leaving aside the much more graphic nature of the post on the Slymepit, the crucial difference for me is that the quotes Michael highlighted were almost all personal attacks on specific named people, whereas the posts you listed on AI were mostly generic jokes. Also, they were generally considered offensive or inappropriate by the moderators which is why they were all moved to the one thread and the single person responsible for most of them was warned and eventually banned.
A number of the other posts contain terms that in certain contexts could be considered misogynistic or otherwise offensive. As a result of this being pointed out, we will be reviewing these as Michael explained above.

“Many of those posts were on your website for more than three or four years.
Are we to seriously believe that you failed to see them all that time?”

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the nature of an internet forum but once posts have fallen off the first page, they’re rarely seen again. (Until someone starts searching for keywords so they can be outraged, of course.) Michael has never been a heavy user of the forum and was not a moderator until yesterday. It’s unlikely he saw the posts in question.

Regarding the comments on the blasphemy post, I find it difficult to believe that you’re acting in good faith. For example, you list “Praising Hitler” as one of your criticisms when it should be obvious that this is meant ironically. Did you really believe from reading that, that someone was actually praising Hitler?
While some of the criticisms are certainly valid and we will be reviewing these comments in the light of them, the context is that people were encouraged to make blasphemous comments, and as the religions in question disapprove of homosexuality and sex in general, talking about their preferred deities and prophets engaging in such acts is likely to be offensive to them. I think many of the comments can be justified in that light. Some certainly cannot and it’s likely that we’ll remove them.

Finding a balance between free expression and a welcoming environment can be difficult, and is something most Internet forums struggle with. Some try to abandon the struggle by picking one of two extremes: allowing nothing potentially offensive or allowing absolutely anything. Both are doomed to failure: in the former instance, the environment becomes so stifling as to make conversation impossible or at least too difficult for most people to bother with; in the latter, the conversation becomes nothing but insults and pornography.
We have made mistakes in the past when moderating and we will undoubtedly make more in the future. We will be too harsh with some posts and too lenient with others. Some will slip through the cracks. But none of that means the effort should be abandoned.
Skepsheik, do you accept that, your “Physician, heal thyself” points aside, the argument Michael is making is valid in principle, i.e. that we should aim towards inclusiveness and avoid creating a hostile environment?

18 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Derek said: “Perhaps you’re not familiar with the nature of an internet forum but once posts have fallen off the first page, they’re rarely seen again.” I assumed this was directed at Michael, in relation to his post about the Slymepit which is (you guessed it!) a forum.

In any event, Derek, I think we should all aim for inclusiveness and avoid creating a hostile environment. However, I wouldn’t blame the Slymepit for that environment. In fact, the Slymepit is one of the most welcoming internet communities I’ve ever been involved in. Much more welcoming than FfTB!

I actually first came into contact with the Slymepit early this year after being accused of already being a member just because I politely voiced a dissenting opinion about some issue or another. I was called names, including a misogynist (and a ‘slymepitter’).

The Slymepit is merely a group of skeptics who won’t swallow dogma just because it is politically convenient. It is not an amorphous mass and we don’t agree on all things, but there’s one thing that can be said about the whole Pit, if it’s a hostile environment, it’s a lot worse at being hostile than the professionals at FfTB!

19 Michael Kingsford Gray March 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Mr. Walsh said:

“Some try to abandon the struggle by picking one of two extremes: allowing nothing potentially offensive or allowing absolutely anything. Both are doomed to failure: in the former instance, the environment becomes so stifling as to make conversation impossible or at least too difficult for most people to bother with; in the latter, the conversation becomes nothing but insults and pornography.”

Why is the latter “doomed to failure”, exactly?
The Slymepit (which is the focus of this very one-sided contretemps), is not a failure by any sober measure.
It has an active membership ratio as near as damnit to 50/50 in female/male, possibly even MORE females than males commenting at any particular instance!
Yet, it has not devolved into “the conversation becomes nothing but insults and pornography.”
Why is it, I ask myself, that in recent times, the MAJORITY of new members to the Slymepit have identified as females, eh?

And by what holy fucking fiat do you deign to condemn pornography?
Are you a Catholic Cardinal, who considers all expressions of adult sexuality to be “bad”, or “sin”?

Most well adjusted adults consider many form of pornography to be beneficial, if not benign.
WTF is your beef about pornography being inherently negative?
Again, your only real excuse is that a-theism does not imply skepticism, nor rational thinking.

And that leads me to a related, but separate question:
Why is it that volunteer ‘forum’ ‘moderators’ always seem to have a stick firmly shoved up them?
(Rhetorical. We all know why)

20 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Interestingly, rereading Derek’s comments, he appears to have declared the failure of the Atheism+ forum.

In any event, I do not accept that the Slymepit is destined to just become insults and pornography. If you’d care to visit (you’d be welcome, though we would swear at you in our traditional greeting), you’d see that people do call others out when the material becomes more toward the pornographic end of the scale. Think of it like etiquette in an adult social group (which it essentially is). We don’t need parents around to say ‘tut tut, that’s offensive. I’m taking back that comment.’ If it’s truly inappropriate (and not just tongue-in-cheek like most of the inappropriate material there), then it gets called out…

At the end of the day, the Slymepit method is working a lot better than the cult-like (yes, cult-like, without saying that they are religious!) behaviour of the FfTB et al.

21 Acathode March 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

@Derek Walsh:
Thanks for making the case for us. Quite a few have concluded that Nuget isn’t acting in good faith, by for example including nr 36 in his, which is obviously ironical and reads:
“Muhahaha the evil spreads. Soon my pretties, soon we shall have the whole atheist movement chanting our chant of mysoginist victory ” cunt, cunt cunt!” They shall chant. “Rape to the [named person]” will be our warcry!”

I’m glad that you think this sort of behavior is a sign of someone acting in bad faith… or wait, is this yet another case of “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.”?

22 tina March 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Mr W. ” (Until someone starts searching for keywords so they can be outraged, of course.)”

Sorry? What?

23 Hunt March 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm

And by what holy fucking fiat do you deign to condemn pornography?

Nobody get out of the Catholic Church without a few scars.

24 Skepsheik March 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Derek,
“Regarding the comments on the blasphemy post, I find it difficult to believe that you’re acting in good faith. For example, you list “Praising Hitler” as one of your criticisms when it should be obvious that this is meant ironically. Did you really believe from reading that, that someone was actually praising Hitler?”

I wasn’t talking about my own feelings; if you read the comments you’ll see that a German commenter was offended by the ‘joke’.

Comment 197
“#175
with all due respect to you belief in “Hitlerism”,
i think your weird religion caused even more Murdering of innocent
People than Christanity. Thats not really funny.”

Perhaps you don’t think that commenter was acting in good faith either.
Do you?

Michael caused some annoyance amongst the pitters due to the fact that he appeared to quote-mine a lot of the elements he used on his list. My various lists are simply pointing out that the same thing can be done to virtually any internet forum or comment section although unlike Michaels list, I think I got most of them in context.

“Skepsheik, do you accept that, your “Physician, heal thyself” points aside, the argument Michael is making is valid in principle, i.e. that we should aim towards inclusiveness and avoid creating a hostile environment?”

That is a bit of a loaded question.
Should you be inclusive and non-hostile to demagogues?
What about racists?
What about men who threaten to punch women commenters in the face and tell women to “get off the rag and kiss my ass”, and those who support such words as necessary “shock tactics”.
The slymepit is hostile to all of these.
We are a collective of atheists and skeptics from all around the world. We are black, white, asian, and freckly pink irish. We have many female members, and have a variety of political and sociological viewpoints but the general consensus is similar to the atheist movement at large – lefy progressives. We have gay, straight and bisexual members, feminists and non-feminists.
The fuel that powers the slymepit is the hypocrisy of others.
We eat that for breakfast.
Some days it’s just a croissant and black coffee (can I say coffee? – don’t take it the wrong way) but Michael served up the full Irish and I couldn’t resist.
As for individual hostility, why don’t you visit the slymepit and speak with the locals. That goes for Michael Nugent too. If he makes the effort to speak to the pitters he will be welcome there.
I actually think Michael is at heart, a decent person, but he is a victim of circumstance. He has a personal friendship with PZ Myers and obviously feels loyal to him.
Michael’s initiative at the International conference in 2011 to produce the Dublin Declaration on Religion in Public Life was very impressive but it was all but forgotten internationally by the pathetic drama of Elevatorgate.
And that is probably the biggest shame of this entire debacle.
Le meas
Skepsheik

25 Derek Walsh March 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm

@Michael Kingsford Gray: I have nothing against pornography, quite the contrary (!) but I want to choose when and where I see it.

@rocko2466:
“you’d see that people do call others out when the material becomes more toward the pornographic end of the scale. Think of it like etiquette in an adult social group (which it essentially is). We don’t need parents around to say ‘tut tut, that’s offensive. I’m taking back that comment.’ If it’s truly inappropriate (and not just tongue-in-cheek like most of the inappropriate material there), then it gets called out…”

If you think most of those quotes are “tongue-in-cheek” and appropriate for an “adult social group” I think we’ll have difficulty finding much common ground. There are some truly vicious personal insults there. I have trouble understanding what purpose they serve.

@Acathode:
“Thanks for making the case for us. Quite a few have concluded that Nuget isn’t acting in good faith, by for example including nr 36 in his, which is obviously ironical”

I don’t think that’s at all the same thing. While there’s no doubt that it’s meant ironically, it still jokes about the rape of a named person, (using an insulting nickname for good measure). But sure, you can make a case for context, that it wasn’t actually meant to insult the person repeatedly and unironically referred to with a genitalia-based nickname, but that it was using irony to point out some higher-level injustice or absurdity. Is that the case you’re making?

26 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Derek:

I think that’s going to be the difference between you and me then.

If someone says something offensive in my social group, if I notice it, I call them out on it. If it becomes a habit, I continue to call them out on it until I decide to no longer interact with them. That’s how the Slymepit operates and it works quite well.

As for the ‘purpose’ of humour / crude humour / off-hand insults (notably, not sent to the person but expressed in Slymepit conversation), the purpose is the same as in ordinary life, such as entertainment or an expression of frustration.

I reiterate that us Slymepitters are largely (as far as I can tell, wholly, but I may be wrong, so I’ll go with largely) people who have tried to reason with the FTB/Skepchick/associated mob but have just been shouted down as misogynists or harassers or chill girls or sister punishers (and so on), well before we started cursing or making jokes in a separate forum. And by that point, I don’t think it’s that huge a crime to make a lewd joke (notably, that has a context) or make a criticism of someone’s personal character.

This is particularly when a large part of the FTB mob do have questionable character and do stick to strict ideology when genuine skepticism would permit them no real reason to do so.

I would again reiterate that the (unlinked) quotes Michael provided from the Slymepit and taken in that context are nowhere near as horrifying as the FTB mob would have people believe.

27 rocko2466 March 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Edit to final sentence of last post:

I would again reiterate that the (unlinked) quotes Michael provided from the Slymepit HAVE A CONTEXT and taken in that context are nowhere near as horrifying as the FTB mob would have people believe.

(Should make a bit more sense now)

28 Chas Stewart March 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

@Derek Walsh

Please don’t condescend to these people. I think they have found very good reasons for Mr. Nugent et al. to think about words and phrases and how they fit within context. Indeed, intent and context matter more than any particular phrase.

“Perhaps you’re not familiar with the nature of an internet forum but once posts have fallen off the first page, they’re rarely seen again.”

Everyone knows this. It’s why I had never seen most of these quotes brought to light by Mr. Nugent nor the memes that were re-posted by Stephanie Zvan. In fact, the Slymepit has so many contributors that the unending thread is a race track of opinions, disagreements, jokes, grievances and condolences. And what happens is many of the posters end up focusing on particular posters that they enjoy and completely scroll past the posters that don’t strike their fancy. So yes, at the Slymepit, comments get quickly buried and are never reckoned with just like at your forum.

“(Until someone starts searching for keywords so they can be outraged, of course.)”

They aren’t outraged by the posts but by your inability to extend the same charity that you’ve expended on your personal forum to the Slymepit. After all, in a forum that’s nearly hit 70,000 posts http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2013/03/05/slymepit-vs-atheismplus-update/ in a very short time period, there are bound to be posts that are left unchecked (by admonishment and not moderation in the Slymepit’s case).

29 Acathode March 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm

@Derek Walsh:
It’s a joke about the stereotypic, extreme image that certain people have of slymepitters of being evil right-wing misogynists, rape-enablers, etc.

The same way the “hitlerism” joke is a joke about certain theists extreme stereotypic views that atheists are evil people that think Hitler had the right idea because “evolution” etc.

The rape part of the joke is a reference to numerous alleged rape threats against the named person that the slymepit is held responsible for, even though, to my knowledge, no one on the pit has actually made any sort of rape threats, to the named person or anyone else.

If you or anyone else find it offensive that we joke about being falsely accused of making rape threats… well, that’s your right I guess, but it’s also my right to at that point stop taking you very seriously when you start preaching about moral standards.

30 Za-zen March 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Meeza thinka Mr Walsh as a keeper of the holy book of inclusiveness has stepped into Michaels Mess to tell us all why, the slymepit blasphemy is so much worse than the Atheist Ireland blasphemy.

He needs to sharpen his tool before doing so though:

I’m not sure any of the posts on AI’s forum were worse than some of those on the Slymepit. Leaving aside the much more graphic nature of the post on the Slymepit, the crucial difference for me is that the quotes Michael highlighted were almost all personal attacks on specific named people, whereas the posts you listed on AI were mostly generic jokes

Rephrase: i like the shit we spout at AI, and if we name people, they are not our people, they are priests and popes, non people so to speak, so they are totally fair game. Whereas the pit names people who are people, so they fall under my value judgement as personal attacks. So speaketh the keeper.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the nature of an internet forum but once posts have fallen off the first page, they’re rarely seen again. (Until someone starts searching for keywords so they can be outraged, of course.)

Bingo, you just sunk your ship. michael of course didn’t scour beyond the first page of the Pyt, and most definitely didn’t use the search function so he could be outraged.

Regarding the comments on the blasphemy post, I find it difficult to believe that you’re acting in good faith. For example, you list “Praising Hitler” as one of your criticisms when it should be obvious that this is meant ironically. Did you really believe from reading that, that someone was actually praising Hitler?

Thanks for splainin mockery to us, we use it quite a bit. But you seem to have missed the salient point, we have fuck all problem with it, we aren’t drawing an arbitrary line in the sand, dictated by the sensibilities and dogma of ideologues. You are. Therefore it is you who stand accused of hypocrisy, and very very wonky mindwank.

Finding a balance between free expression and a welcoming environment can be difficult, and is something most Internet forums struggle with. Some try to abandon the struggle by picking one of two extremes: allowing nothing potentially offensive or allowing absolutely anything. Both are doomed to failure

Can you smell that, it’s the smell of a false dichotomy. Topped off with a Randi prize winner! You’re doomed! Doomed i say! Why? Because i say so! And i am the keeper, it is my job to keep shifting my value as to what’s permissible dependant upon who says it, who they say it too, and who is watching.

Finally, this is mine:

36. Muhahaha the evil spreads. Soon my pretties, soon we shall have the whole atheist movement chanting our chant of mysoginist victory ” cunt, cunt cunt!” They shall chant. “Rape to the [named person]” will be our warcry!

I take by inference, that you view this as an example of thebadz? Oh noooooes! gendered slurs! Contextualized it is mocking the SJW narrative of the slymepit. Parodying their hyperbolic rhetoric. A form of satirical humor. The “rape to the named person” bit which so seems to offend your sensibilities is because said named person howls that that is our warcry!? If it isn’t to your taste, frankly i don’t give a shit

31 tina March 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Get a grip Atheist Ireland. You’ve fallen foul of a bunch of radical/gender feminists for whom skeptisim and atheism is subordinate to ideology, and one moreover, that is antithetical to the interests of women.

You clearly now have a vested interest in valuing and promoting that ideology over honest skepticism. You’ve uncritically bought into the fembubblespeak emanating from the likes of Benson, Myers, Watson et al.

It is pure divisive poison, from folk who make it their full time occupation to harrass, bully and intimidate anyone and everyone that does not buy into their feminist, ideological, social justice schtick.

When challenged, they play the victim card with all the finesse of trainee croupiers.

As a recent arrival at the pit, I concur that it is very welcoming to women, (even the traditional initial ‘fuck off’ is delivered with some charm). It is not in the slightest misogynistic or sexist, has the true interests of people, (that includes women btw), at heart, and is full of thoughtful, intelligent, entertaining men and women who do not mince words when it comes to calling out BS from whatever source, including me…that is how it should be.

By contrast, if you so much as query ANY aspect of the ideological doublespeak on one of the blogs or forums that these people operate: well, just try it, you’ll soon see what happens.

Wake up Atheist Ireland. You are sleepwalking into a nightmare.

32 Peter Ferguson March 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

@Derek @Michael

I am not going to comment on the behaviour of some pit members as I agree with both Derek and Michael in this regard. But I do wonder why certain members of FtB and Skepchick are not measured with the same yard stick. PZ Myers has created one of the most hostile environments in Pharyngula, I have commented once or twice there and won’t be doing so any time soon due to how the any remarks of disagreement are treated. PZ also has the “Dungeon” where he has complied a list of banned members, this is fine but each entry is accompanied with personal insults: “sneering douchebag”, “cocky idiot”, “moronic”, “douchecanoe”, numerous “assholes” etc. The list is quite extensive. Let’s not forget many people consider “douche” to be sexist and “idiot” and “moron” to be ableist.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/dungeon/

Rebecca Watson quote-mined Ed Clint and called him a rapist in a post read by thousands. This is despicable and extremely defamatory.

http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/

She also claimed twice that a blogger Coffee Loving Skeptic called her a cunt twice, which he never did. Then PZ called him an attention seeking ass for merely wanting a retraction for the untrue statement.

http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=1542

The behaviour the pit engages in may be considered worse than the above examples. But the discussion isn’t about righter versus wronger, the pit’s behaviour doesn’t not allow others to behave in a certain manner simple because it isn’t as bad.

So why is there a double standard? Why call out one group for their behaviour yet ignore the behaviour of others. In fact, you have invited PZ and Rebecca to a conference in Dublin. Would you ever invite any of the Pitters considering their behaviour, I highly doubt it.

We should apply the same standards to everyone, which is why I am both critical of the pit and some members of FtB and Skepchick. I would expect any person who criticises personal attacks to do the same.

33 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Michael,

Three important ethical principles that I adhere to rather strongly:

1) People are people; ideas are ideas. People (humans, not friggin’ corporations, obviously! stupid legal precedents, mumble mumble) deserve some baseline, universal level of minimum respect simply because of the principle of equality.

2) No one has a *right* to ‘not be offended’. Literally *anyone* can get ‘offended’ over literally *anything*. The concept itself is absurd, as I will presently prove: I find the idea of a right, or even an ethical/moral principle that people should ‘not be offended’ as incredibly, terribly, deeply, and most personally offensive. Now that everyone knows I find this incredibly offensive — more offensive than anything else I can think of — anyone who espouses this idea that people should have a right to not be offended, or even endorses a principle that we ‘should’ walk on eggshells in our language for fear of ‘offending’ people, will have knowingly and wilfully offended me personally, which is, by definition, a hurtful, harmful thing to do. So please, keep this horrible idea to yourself! You wouldn’t want to offend my precious, delicate sensitivities would you?

3) Largely following from 1) and 2) (hence their importance to my point here): Blasphemy is a *victimless* crime!

I would encourage you and your fellow Atheists of Ireland supporters to consider this issue deeply, and not enter into hasty decisions to start endorsing overzealous self-censorship. That way leads in the opposite direction as freethought.

Of course, we each will voluntarily moderate our ‘tone’ depending on time and place and context. This is purely a practical matter of getting along with people and engaging others socially. But this is not a legal requirement, nor should it be an ethical obligation, nor a moral duty (except perhaps in some specific professions, such as doctors, practical psychologists, etc. where we may be dealing with a person in private who needs special care and sensitivity; there may be other exceptions like this, of course; my comment here is in regards to public dealings in the public sphere).

34 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Apologies, missed something in the first part:

“1) People are people; ideas are ideas. People (humans, not friggin’ corporations, obviously! stupid legal precedents, mumble mumble) deserve some baseline, universal level of minimum respect simply because of the principle of equality.”

Should continue with: Any respect beyond that generally should be earned, and need not be due anyone for whatever arbitrary reason. Furthermore, ideas do not ‘deserve’ any respect at all, unless we personally choose to respect them for whatever personal reasons we might have. Those personal reasons do not then become moral or ethical obligations on anyone else, though.

35 Pitchguest March 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hang on.

Derek Walsh at #17 says,

(Until someone starts searching for keywords so they can be outraged, of course.)

Didn’t Michael Nugent do exactly that when he composed his list?

36 tina March 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Pitchguest

Hang on

See 22…cunt

37 Pitchguest March 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Oh!

I give pardon, my cuntiness. *bows*

(You can slag me off at the ‘Pit. ;))

38 Derek Walsh March 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm

@Skepsheik:

“I wasn’t talking about my own feelings; if you read the comments you’ll see that a German commenter was offended by the ‘joke’.”

Fair enough. I wouldn’t have thought it could easily be misinterpreted but cultural differences and language barriers may be at play. Or someone could be trolling. In any case, I accept that someone could find it offensive (although not necessarily that it should be deleted as a result).

“Michael caused some annoyance amongst the pitters due to the fact that he appeared to quote-mine a lot of the elements he used on his list. My various lists are simply pointing out that the same thing can be done to virtually any internet forum or comment section although unlike Michaels list, I think I got most of them in context.”

I really don’t think he had to look very hard or that the examples he found are atypical. I accept that some of them may appear worse when stripped of context. For others, I’ve checked the context and it provides no redeeming information. For example, the “photo of several named feminists with the commentary” is exactly what is described. It’s a photo of several named feminists with numerous posters insulting their appearance as described.
For others, I’m not sure there could be any justifying context.

I suppose there are a number of intertwined issues here: whether it’s acceptable to say certain things, whether it’s acceptable to be a participant in a forum where such things are said, whether such things, if said, should be removed from a forum, and whether a forum should encourage or discourage such things to be said.
The vast majority of the comments being discussed (both from the Slymepit and AI) are things I would never say. Or at least things I would never type. I swear quite profusely in real life – gendered epithets and all – but I tend to avoid doing so in my writing. And if I’m crass enough to insult someone’s appearance – and sometimes I am – I tend to avoid doing so publicly. I don’t get the appeal of doing so. I don’t know how I would get over the embarrassment I would feel about taking such cheap shots at people enough to enjoy whatever amusement such diversions can provide.
(I have no doubt that someone can find an example of my online activity in the last 15 years where I have fallen short of my ideals. Please feel free to do so but don’t let it distract from the point.)
But also, I accept, that many of the comments are not like that. Some are in-jokes, self-parody, or meta-humour. They may be funny and clever in context but are easily open to misinterpretation.
Some (especially those on AI) are just old jokes employing lazy and dated stereotypes and low humour. Likely, no real malice is intended but there’s some consciousness-raising to be done.
As a member of forums, I have frequently criticised posts I consider unacceptable or inappropriate. But sometimes, I just ignore them. Does that enable and legitimise such behaviour? Possibly.
As a moderator, I tend towards avoiding deletion where possible. The AI forum is all but deserted these days and most of the work I have to do is removing spam. It’s rare that a genuine contributor will be censored.
Our Facebook group is more active but again I prefer a light touch. Inappropriate posts often lead to interesting and productive discussions and I am reluctant to remove those. As I said in a previous post, sometimes I (and the other moderators) will be too harsh, and sometimes too lenient.
Different forums have different purposes and what’s appropriate for one may not be for another. Our forums are associated with an advocacy group and any discussion that takes place on them should advance – or at least not hinder – our goals. The Slymepit obviously has different goals and fewer restrictions. That, in itself, is not a bad thing.

“That is a bit of a loaded question.”

It wasn’t meant to be. I categorically do not mean that we should have an anything-goes policy. Quite the opposite. For Atheist Ireland, it’s important that people are not turned off our organisation by the activity on our forum.

“Should you be inclusive and non-hostile to demagogues?
What about racists?
What about men who threaten to punch women commenters in the face and tell women to “get off the rag and kiss my ass”, and those who support such words as necessary “shock tactics”.”

No on all counts. But may I suggest that calling some women fat and ugly is not the best response to any of these behaviours.

“The slymepit is hostile to all of these.”

Glad to hear it. My concern is that it’s not hostile to people who revel in personal insults, and thereby legitimises and encourages their behaviour.

39 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

“Finding a balance between free expression and a welcoming environment can be difficult, and is something most Internet forums struggle with.”

It’s actually not that difficult, especially in a forum site. On one site I participated in for several years, and which is still running successfully, we chose our general forum atmosphere to be as open as possible (barring anything illegal or harassing in the colloquial sense of following someone around from post to post, dogging them), because we very much endorsed the idea of blasphemy and were entirely sick of the self-censorship many of us had to live through, growing up in theistic communities.

However, we also had a ‘kid gloves’ section of the website, where theists (or anyone, really) with delicate sensitivities such as I described above were welcomed and where the official policies were much more strict, requiring anyone participating to be on their best manners. However, participation in this section of the forum was voluntary, meaning if you didn’t want to go there, you didn’t have to. Likewise, if sensitive people didn’t want to go to the more rambunctious part of the forum, they didn’t have to. Why must everyone be forced to behave the same way all the time? Sounds frigging boring and probably not very good for one’s mental health, if you ask me (though I’m no mental health professional).

Likewise, we *also* had a section called TrollVille, for, who’da guessed it?, trolls. Yes, indeed, we had our own troll pen, with our own pet trolls (this still exists), and if you *really* wanted to get down and nasty with the trolls, you could do that, no problem. Of course, trolls are not allowed in the main forum, due to their disruptive nature, but they were not actually banned from the site (usually, unless, again, something illegal or harassing, or otherwise against forum rules, which were actually pretty hard to break).

As a result of this open, but flexible, policy, pretty much anyone on the planet could (and still can) post there freely and openly, and yet…. no chaos. It works. You don’t need to censor. Just hold each person accountable for what *they* write, don’t pretend that people on the site necessarily speak for you, nor you for them, and keep one’s personal egos out of moderation policies, and you’re all set. If you find yourself moderating out of fear, embarrassment, anger, shame, or other negative emotion, you’re probably doing something wrong and should probably ask a different uninvolved moderator for a second opinion (or, better, to handle the moderation themselves).

I seriously think an organization whose original purpose is closely tied to the foundational principle of freedom of blasphemy should be *very* careful that they don’t fall into the *trap* that so many organizations fall prey to: developing their own dogmas and ‘holy’ ideas and ‘saints’, etc. Funny but literally true: My dad was a priest, and my mom was a nun, and I’m a hard-core atheist. Of course, they quit their vows while still young, otherwise I wouldn’t exist. And that is why I find the idea of sanctimonious worship of dogmatism and authoritarianism to be so vile. (Or, anyway, that post-hoc justification at least makes the story sound cooler. ;-) Actually, I never thought of that till now. lol)

So, I wonder… What does Atheists of Ireland deem to be ‘holy’, and who are its ‘saints’? The coming days and weeks and months will be very telling. Would be nice to get a clear, public declaration of where the organization stands on this, and what its values are.

Sometimes, you can’t be ‘welcoming’ to everyone… especially when those who wish to be welcomed say, “You can welcome *us*, but you can’t welcome *them*! They’re blasphem– I mean, they’re misogynists!!!! And rape apologists!!! And clones of Marc Lepine!!!” (Based on what evidence? None, of course. Did Ireland ever suffer from witch hunts in the past? I’m pretty sure we all know what that kind of ‘us vs. them’ thinking leads to.)

To be *truly* welcoming to everyone (within legal and ethical and social limits, of course, which each org must hash out themselves), I’d suggest that a good set of values be agreed upon, and one of those key values I’d suggest an org such as AI should *obviously* consider is the principle of freedom of thought, speech, and expression. Without that core foundational principle, I don’t think you’ll find the end results really very welcoming to *anyone*, honestly. Just look at what happened to the forum at AtheismPlus: http://atheismplus.com/forums/index.php

40 jimthepleb March 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm

‘Glad to hear it. My concern is that it’s not hostile to people who revel in personal insults, and thereby legitimises and encourages their behaviour.’

Not my experience there, although no’one will be banned for ‘inappropriate’ behaviour(besides that which could be construed as illegal) they WILL be called on it. MKG and others object to insults based on a person’s involuntary appearance. I would love to see someone come in and try to throw overt racist, homophobic or even transphobic comments. I strongly suspect they would be pounced on and left with an earful of invective they wouldn’t forget in a hurry.
The largest difference I see between pitters and FtBer’s, is that in the pit we do not pretend to be holding the moral high ground, or even aspire to do so. We realise we are all different, and flawed and deal with each other as suits our personality types. Bizarrely we have had some very wounded A+ types come over to the forum and once they are established, comment how much friendlier and more accommodating pitters are than the relentless tone police of A+.
Also we have our own trolls and poes, however they soon leave as there is little mileage in calling a self=confessed onanist a wanker.
Whilst YMMV, we are an open forum, anyone is welcome to join in and if you don’t like what you see, feel free not to come again. However if you are one of the group that has decided to label us as universally misogynistic,racist,homophobic,transphobic and otherwise all-round evil, then yes, you will be called out in the venues available to us….funny how that works
Anyway, these cows won’t milk themselves.

41 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

“the context is that people were encouraged to make blasphemous comments, and as the religions in question disapprove of homosexuality and sex in general, talking about their preferred deities and prophets engaging in such acts is likely to be offensive to them. I think many of the comments can be justified in that light.”

So in some contexts, intentionally causing offence regarding a ‘sacred’ or ‘profane’ idea or act or person can be ‘justified’, right? I hope Michael Nugent takes a careful look at this concept. For me, I wholeheartedly endorse it. In regards to people, I would limit it in most cases to publicly known figures, of which bloggers and activists would certainly count. People obviously deserve some significant degree of privacy in their personal lives, but when they ‘put themselves out there’, I’d suggest (and this is backed up by a long history of legal and ethical justification) that the very act of doing this opens them up to undesirable criticism. And, when it gets down to it, the more important ethical principle is freedom of expression/speech. And certainly freedom of thought.

“Some certainly cannot and it’s likely that we’ll remove them.”

I would strongly suggest (IMO) that you have some sort of relatively objective guidelines by which you make these decisions, and that these guidelines be posted prominently on the website, so that people know what they’re getting into when they view and/or contribute to the website. If you only go by ‘I think this one’s offensive’, vs. ‘What? This one’s fine! I can’t see why anyone would be offended by that,’ based solely on personal opinion and nothing more, you’ll undoubtedly end up pissing *someone* off. (In fact, guaranteed you’ll piss people off no matter what; and you’re probably already fairly used to pissing people off re: blasphemy in general; but in regards to this Pharyngula/FTB/SlymePit issue in particular, I think you’ll find that while the SlymePit is a relatively small group, they represent a much larger group of freethinkers than the ideologues of FTB/Skepchick, such as PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson, etc. Online, especially in the blogosphere, PZ et al have a much bigger presence than they do outside of that realm. Ask around to your fellow atheists/skeptics in your local groups. Get a feel for what most atheists/blasphemers really feel about the word ‘cunt’ or just the whole concept of ‘walking on eggshells’ to spare random people from ‘offence’. I think you’ll find that while some may dislike the level of harsh rhetoric at the SlymePit, they will much more strongly dislike the oppressive “Our way or the highway” atmosphere at FTB/Skepchicks, et al. (Let alone the A+ forum! lol)

42 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm

“For example, the “photo of several named feminists with the commentary” is exactly what is described. It’s a photo of several named feminists with numerous posters insulting their appearance as described.
For others, I’m not sure there could be any justifying context.”

Contestant: What is a political cartoon?

Alex Trebek: Correct.

Contestant: I’ll take Satire in Ireland for $200.

*tsooo-tsoo-tsoouuu*

Trebek: You’ve got the Daily Double.

Contestant: I’ll wager all of it!

Trebek: Alright. The clue involves the following image. Let’s take a look. Despite the apparent crassness of this political cartoon, insulting the physical appearance of some guy, Irish political buffs will know that the justifying ethical context for this kind of free speech is … this.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A_iRsW56YmU/TJoGwlcfSEI/AAAAAAAACeg/rRZXuSNPlYY/s1600/COWEN_SUN.jpg

What question would *you* ask Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek, Derek/Michael?

43 Pitchguest March 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm

http://naryu.deviantart.com/art/TL-DR-Teal-Deer-201959995

To Thaumas Themelios:

I agree. The point about pointing out the comments at the forum for Atheist Ireland was not really to say it’s ‘blasphemous’ (to use a tempered word), but rather to emphasise the hypocrisy. A point which Michael Nugent quite spectacularly missed.

He was building up for a case where he intended to slander a forum simply because it featured comments that could be seen in bad light, an amazing bit of patronising when he can’t even keep his own house from that kind of rhetoric. Hence my comment about there either being two for two or none. Like you say, we should keep each individual responsible for what they say and not hold the entire forum accountable. Still, one should also consider the context, the purpose and the intent of the posts so as to not create a false narrative.

What Derek Walsh seem to neglect is that his objections to the comments on the Atheist Ireland forum are near identical to the objections voiced by Slymepitters in response to Michael Nugent’s unfair assessment of their forum, and taking comments out of context, purpose and intent from Atheist Ireland was deliberate; to prove a point. We have no qualms with Atheist Ireland as a whole. The one I have a problem with affiliated with the organization, who’s made rigorous accusations and slander to the Slymepit and its members, is Michael Nugent.

The whole thing has to do with hypocrisy. If you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones. Incidentally that’s also what I meant about criticism about someone else’s tone and language unless your own is spotless (doubtthat, if you’re still reading).

-

Oh, and to go on a tangent, your analogy, doubtthat, about smoking isn’t equivalent. To implement it, yours had to do with the harms of smoking cigarettes, which is objective, while ours have to do with the consumption of smoking cigarettes, which is subjective. Your imaginary anecdote therefore about someone going to the doctor and the doctor saying, “smoking is bad for you” while smoking himself, regardless of his own consumption it is an objective statement. Supported by science.

However, if he said “you should stop smoking, it’s bad for you” then it’s both a subjective and objective statement. Smoking cigarettes is voluntary, so the doctor saying “you should stop smoking” while smoking himself would just prove him to be a hypocrite. Which brings us to our current dilemma. (Note that this doesn’t have anything to do with either place’s use of gendered epithets, but language that could be considered “hurtful.” Since neither place of “hurtful” language is spotless, it’s therefore not either one’s place to judge the other on their choice of words.)

Wow, this became longwinded fast. I’ll just add a teal deer at the top.

44 windy March 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

the crucial difference for me is that the quotes Michael highlighted were almost all personal attacks on specific named people, whereas the posts you listed on AI were mostly generic jokes.

If you agree with the idea of ‘splash damage’ with regards to slurs, how is this a crucial difference?

45 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm

“I don’t get the appeal of doing so. I don’t know how I would get over the embarrassment I would feel about taking such cheap shots at people enough to enjoy whatever amusement such diversions can provide.”

How would you feel if you were labelled a misogynist and rape apologist or worse, merely for asking questions and challenging dogmas?

Seriously, think about it. Imagine visiting a popular blog, where hundreds or thousands of people are going to read it, and some random person you’ve never met before, and who’s never ever met you, and who knows absolutely nothing about you, says something like “Hey look, it’s that guy who took upskirt photos at the conference last year! What a creep!” Given that you’ve done nothing of the sort, how would you feel about that?

Sound ridiculous? It sure as hell fucking is. But guess the fuck what? It happened. It continues to happen. Need evidence? I would too. That’s why I was so very careful to acquire it nearly a year ago (yes, this nonsense has been going on for over a year, really, for about *two* years now. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s real).

Please take the time to read this post *and* the ensuing comment thread. I was extremely careful to ‘walk on eggshells’, because I knew if I didn’t I would be ‘insta-banned’. Indeed, even so, a commenter half-way through the thread called for me to be insta-banned. My comments start at #11 and proceed from there. Watch the progression of dishonest tactics which they attempted to lure me into.

Particularly, anyone reading this who is still unconvinced about the necessity of speaking out against the nonsense coming from these ideologues needs to be sure not to miss my final comments in the thread, where I lay it all out. Numbers 69, 78, and 81.

After reading that thread, imagining yourself in the position of someone receiving these false and *serious* accusations, considering how you’d feel about that, especially after *weeks* of trying to reason with people and they still won’t stop lying about you… well. Wouldn’t you think that posting crass photos about them seems just a *little* teeny bit of a non-issue in that context? Wouldn’t you feel just a bit pissed off at the unfair treatment you’ve received? At the potentially *life-changing* consequences if such rumours had been promulgated further?

When I imagined what Mr. X must have felt like, having been so falsely (demonstrably falsely!) accused. Over *nothing*! And he’s not the only one, either. In fact, he’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sorry. I feel morally *obligated* to speak out against these demagogues, dogmatists, and ideologues. For — get this! — the *exact* same fucking reasons I speak out against religion. Now if that isn’t *tragically* ironic, I don’t know what is.

So, what’s worse? Cheap-shot political-cartoonish lampooning photoshopped images? Or accusations of misogyny, rape apology, upskirt photography, harassment, literal (and I’m not even fucking kidding here, ask for the link if you want it) rape, so-called ‘stochastic terrorism’, etc. etc. and on and fucking on because they just won’t fucking stop?

46 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Oh my, I seem to have neglected to paste the link! D’oh! Here it is: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/17/update-clarification-correction-on-holy-fucking-shit/

47 Skepsheik March 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Derek Walsh said:
“I really don’t think he had to look very hard or that the examples he found are atypical.”

Really?

There are over 70,000 posts on the slymepit.
Do you seriously think Micheal just randomly chose 50 comments?
I think he trawled through those 70,000 just to find the worst he could manage and then concentrated them in one succinct list.
The same thing I did with the blasphemy.ie site and the AI forum – although some of things I found on your websites would never be permitted at the Slymepit (specifically the racist epithets – ‘nigger’ ‘paki’, ‘raghead’ etc)

Is calling people fat and ugly the best way to combat their dishonest behavior?
Of course not.
Guys. Don’t do that.

But people are human. They slip up every now and then. And in a fast moving forum like the Slymepit it is easy to miss those types of comments.
I think you know what I mean, especially when your own forum even now has insults like:

“noonan ya fat letcherous fuck”
and
”To sum it up, my dear amerikkkan fat asstheist neard with cola: You are a failure!”

Where is the criticism, from you, for such insults?
Or did you not notice them until now?

By the way Derek and Michael, the offer still stands.
Come and visit the Slymepit, talk to the Pitters, and see for yourself.

48 Thaumas Themelios March 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

“The one I have a problem with affiliated with the organization, who’s made rigorous accusations and slander to the Slymepit and its members, is Michael Nugent.”

Pitchguest,
I’ve said elsewhere (the pit) and will say again here that I don’t think Nugent has actually gone as far as you are characterizing him here. I think you are here imputing motives and/or intentions to Michael Nugent that you do not have sufficient evidence to support. I can understand your *suspicions* of these intentions/motives, but I do not think you *know* he has these intentions/motives. I could be wrong, of course. The way to convince me would be to provide solid *evidence* that he has these intentions/motives, rather than just one’s suspicions and intuitions and interpretations. Reminds me rather of the Mr. X episode.

Now, I *do* think you have a *rock-solid* case that Michael Nugent has carelessly *repeated* rumoured allegations against members of the SlymePit. But mind-reading still remains a $1 million prize-winning skill, so until you either have clear evidence of his intentions/motives or you win Randi’s prize, I’d say that you’re unjustified in making this claim. Ironically, unjustified in exactly the same way Nugent is unjustified in spreading rumours about the SPs. IMHO.

49 Pitchguest March 5, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Thaumas Themelios,

Yes. It’s probably prudent that I should have added “in my opinion” where it seems I’m reading Nugent’s mind, so just mentally insert that into previous sentences. It’s not something I normally do, and perhaps I did it out of frustration. My mistake. However, I will stand by my comment on that the only person I really have a problem with affiliated with Atheist Ireland is Michael Nugent, and that has to do with his dishonest practices. Mindreading included.

50 Thaumas Themelios March 6, 2013 at 12:30 am

Fair enough! Thank you for taking my post at face-value, and not as offensive/confrontational as it might have come off. :-)

51 Thaumas Themelios March 6, 2013 at 12:45 am

Wow, it sure is nice to be able to post my genuine opinions here without fear of my posts being modified or deleted, being banned, slandered or bullied merely for having a contrary opinion. Thank you, Michael, for allowing this discussion to take place on your blog. It is genuinely, sincerely appreciated, by me of course, and I’d venture to say by many others. Cheers! :-)

52 clod March 6, 2013 at 3:39 am

Thaumas: I read all of the thread you linked. I concur that the way you were treated there, and Corylus too, was quite appalling. Almost unbelievable that self styled skeptics could behave like that.

53 Za-zen March 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

Agree with the sentiment expressed by Thaumas, which is a nod to Mick the Leper(chaun), for facilitating an open, rough and tumble discussion and expression of positions. Something which as of the last couple of years has been sorely missing in the A/S sphere.

54 Derek Walsh March 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

@Skepsheik:

“There are over 70,000 posts on the slymepit.
Do you seriously think Micheal just randomly chose 50 comments?”

No. His intention wasn’t to provide a random sample.

“I think he trawled through those 70,000 just to find the worst he could manage and then concentrated them in one succinct list.”

I doubt he had to go through 70,000 posts to find them but the purpose was to provide examples of particularly unpleasant invective and to ask Justin Vacula if he thought they were acceptable or not. Michael went out of his way to make it clear that he was not saying these comments were representative of the Slymepit in general.

“The same thing I did with the blasphemy.ie site and the AI forum – although some of things I found on your websites would never be permitted at the Slymepit (specifically the racist epithets – ‘nigger’ ‘paki’, ‘raghead’ etc)”

Fair point. Under our current (informal) policy, such posts would not be allowed on Atheist Ireland, and I utterly condemn them. As mentioned previously we’ll be reviewing our policies and their implementation as a result of you pointing out these shortcomings.
We seem to be in agreement that at least some comments are unacceptable. Let’s try to build on that agreement.

“Is calling people fat and ugly the best way to combat their dishonest behavior?
Of course not.
Guys. Don’t do that.”

Great. More agreement. Other people have attempted to justify the name-calling on the basis that the people being insulted have themselves behaved in an unacceptable way. But the insults are not just hitting their target; they’re hitting all women who are concerned about their appearance.

“But people are human. They slip up every now and then. And in a fast moving forum like the Slymepit it is easy to miss those types of comments.”

Yes it is. I don’t think there’s any serious objection to the fact that they were missed. But now that you’ve been made aware of them, what’s the plan?

“I think you know what I mean, especially when your own forum even now has insults like:

“noonan ya fat letcherous fuck”
and
”To sum it up, my dear amerikkkan fat asstheist neard with cola: You are a failure!”

Where is the criticism, from you, for such insults?
Or did you not notice them until now?”

I hadn’t seen them before, or if I had, I hadn’t *noticed* them. I don’t think they’re particularly helpful. I wouldn’t make them myself, and I would discourage others from doing so. As for whether they should be removed from the forum, I’m still unsure. I’m thinking about it in the light of many of the comments here and it will be a decision we in Atheist Ireland make as a group.
I wrote the above and will leave it stand as is, but having just checked the context of the quotes, the first was made by a user who was banned the following day for repeated abusive behaviour, which was almost three years ago. I almost certainly saw it as I was an active participant in the thread although I was not a moderator at the time.
The second is a direct quote from a Christian fundamentalist pulled from fstdt.com and not the viewpoint of any member of the forum. Deleting it would be no more appropriate than deleting the racist epithets you – and I – used above.
All in all, I’m pretty proud that those are the worst examples you could find.

“By the way Derek and Michael, the offer still stands.
Come and visit the Slymepit, talk to the Pitters, and see for yourself.”

I might just do that. Most of the responses here from “Pitters” have been well reasoned and polite. I like a robust discussion and don’t mind getting my hands dirty. My biggest concern is that this may prove to be something of a timesink, and I have a pretty full schedule already.

I’ve been reluctant to get involved in the debates and feuds that have been going on since Elevatorgate (and even before) as everyone who gets involved seems to come out looking bad.
I think there are trolls and idiots on all sides, and I think even the most sensible of the people involved have said or done things they shouldn’t have, then felt obliged to defend them rather than back down.
But I think reconciliation is possible, if difficult, and I believe it’s necessary. The huge amount of effort expended in the mud-slinging could surely be put to better use.

55 Cian March 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

In fairness I think people are seeing motives to Michael Nugents post, that I don’t think he has. (as mentioned above)

But one point that I think needs mentioning is that the thread on the Slymepit is called the “Periodic table of swearing” – surely this is laying the cards on the table, like a “Parental Advisory” notice. On reading the title it must surely be obvious that the language will probably be fruity.

But to even things up a look into the reaction on FTB to dissent must surely be worth a look. There is surely no smoke without fire and many people both mild mannered and not have genuine grievances .

As the saying goes the truth is probably somewhere in between. Although there can’t be enough hours in the day for him to read every comment and answer every request.

56 windy March 7, 2013 at 2:48 am

Yes it is. I don’t think there’s any serious objection to the fact that they were missed. But now that you’ve been made aware of them, what’s the plan?

Just think for a minute what you are doing here. Why are you suddenly in negotiations with some two-bit internet forum about questionable humor?

57 Michael Nugent March 8, 2013 at 7:45 am
58 overcoming stretch marks April 9, 2013 at 8:02 am

I will be confident I’ve read this same sort of affirmation in other places, it must be gathering popularity with all the world.

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