What does Chapel Hill killer Craig Hicks’ Facebook page actually tell us about his beliefs?

by Michael Nugent on February 13, 2015

There has been some speculation that Craig Hicks’ atrocious murder of three neighbours in Chapel Hill was related to him being an atheist and his neighbours being Muslims. This speculation seems to be based largely on the content of his Facebook page.

It is important that justice is brought about for the victims of these terrible crimes, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and their families. It is also important that we can minimise the chances of similar future murders, by seeking reliable information about what happened and why, instead of spreading unfounded speculation.

I am therefore not speculating about the motives for these crimes, because I do not reliably know anything about the killer’s life, or his relationship with his neighbours. But I have found nothing written on his Facebook page to justify the public speculation by others that he murdered his neighbours because he is an atheist and they were Muslims.

Indeed, on his Facebook page, he repeatedly promotes freedom of religion explicitly for Muslims, including supporting their right to build a controversial Mosque near the site of ground zero in New York. He repeatedly expresses his belief that all human beings are equal regardless of race, sexuality, religion or other criteria, and he actively opposes racism.

Also on his Facebook page, he has consistently promoted social justice issues since he joined in 2009. He actively promotes marriage equality for LGBT people, and abortion rights for women. He opposes the masculine hierarchy of religions, and opposes the idea of teaching women to avoid rape instead of teaching men not to rape.

Also on his Facebook page, he supports investment in education, and opposes poverty being tolerated in a society where the wealthy can use Swiss bank account used to avoid paying taxes. He has posted about his wife and their pets, about trying to find a lost autistic child, and about trying to save rescue dogs who will face death if they don’t find a home.

Also on his Facebook cover picture, he has said that he wants religion to go away because its baseless superstitions keeps killing people, but he also writes that he disagrees with the idea of banning religion: “Not that I care for religion, as I most definitely do not, but banning it would be taking away a persons rights and I oppose that.”

Also on his Facebook page, he promotes science and reason and atheism, with quotes from a wide range of thinkers ranging from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, Epicurus, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Isaac Asimov, Susan B Antony, Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Barbara Walker, Rousseau, Daniel Radcliffe and Aldous Huxley.

Also on his Facebook page, the eight books that he likes include The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and Atheist Voices of Minnesota which has contributions from PZ Myers, Greta Christina, Greg Laden and Stephanie Zvan.

Also on his Facebook page, the pages that he likes include Huffington Post Black Voices, Stop Homophobia, Forward Progressives, Atheist Animal Lovers, Animals Need help and Compassion, The Atheist Empathy Campaign, Atheist Uprising, The Freethinker, Freedom From religion, The God Delusion, The Friendly Atheist, The Militant Atheist, George Takei and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Also on his Facebook page, he is strongly pro-American, frequently posting links to American flags and symbols, and his version of Americanism includes support for gun ownership and for strict separation of church and state. He has posted images of his wife shooting a gun on a firing range, and of his own gun in its holster, and has criticised people who blame murders on gun ownership.

Also on his Facebook page, he has liked a link to the North Carolina Code, General Statutes § 20-174, prohibiting crossing at other than crosswalks and walking along highways. He has liked a Community Page called “If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!” In January he wrote that he had called the police when he saw a couple having sex in their vehicle in his parking lot.

Also on his Facebook page, he posted three pictures last December. One was of himself on quad bike captioned “Back in my younger (and hairier) days.” One was of himself in suit captioned “Modern me; same ugly, stupid, fat person with less hair now.” One was of himself and his wife at Disneyworld, captioned “My better half and I.”

It may of course be the case that he murdered his neighbours because he was an atheist and they were Muslims, and that he simply did not reflect that part of his personality on Facebook. But I do not know anything more about him than what he has posted on his Facebook page, and I am not speculating on the basis of that why he murdered his neighbours.

I suggest that it would be prudent for others to avoid building speculation on the same information.

Edits

[Edit – the first version of this post included a more detailed summary of Hicks’ posts since he joined Facebook. I’ve taken that part down temporarily, while I consider whether the above summary is sufficient to make the point without adding more to the speculation.]

[Second edit – I have now included below a shorter version of the more detailed summary of his posts, as I think it captures more accurately the nature of the Facebook page content.] 

Some examples of posts, shares and likes on his Facebook page

What is remarkable about his Facebook posts is that, alongside his atheism, religion and science posts, he consistently promotes social justice issues. He does not express dislike, never mind hatred, for people on the basis of their religious beliefs. He does differ from many (but not all) people who also promote social justice issues in his support for gun ownership.

He consistently promotes religious freedom including explicitly the rights of Muslims, marriage equality for LGBT people, women’s rights including reproductive rights, human rights and equality, animal welfare, and progressive politics generally, as well as his posts about his pride in America, support for gun ownership and personal posts.

Atheism, religion and science

  • Most of his posts on these topics were sharing quotes from thinkers as varied as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Epicurus, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, George Carlin, Isaac Asimov, Susan B Antony, Albert Einstein, Ambrose Bierce, Voltaire, Barbara Walker, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Brian Cox, Piere Pail Broca, Steve Albini, Daniel Radcliffe, Aldous Huxley, Stephen Hawking, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Ricky Gervais, Bertrand Russell, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ernestine Rose, HL Mencken, Douglas Adams, Mohandas Gandhi, Blaise Pascal, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • He shared a flow chart about how Christians interpret the Bible as allegorical or infallible depending on what suits them (2012) and he shared an image by United Atheists of America about ideological similarities between radical Christians and radical Muslims. (2015)
  • He also posted Christmas greetings of “Happy Pagan Holiday all, and Merry Christmas to those that worship the supposed son of the creator on a day which he wasn’t born!”, and happy birthday messages for Isaac Newton who was born on 25 December.

Religious freedom including rights of Muslims

  • He shared a news story about President Barack Obama forcefully endorsing the right to build a Mosque near ground zero, saying that the country’s founding principles demanded no less. Hicks commented: “I respect him in this matter. I just wish he’d support the rest of our great Constitution in the same way.” (2010)
  • He wrote: “Seems an overwhelming majority of Christians in this country feel that the Muslims are using the Ground Zero Mosque plans to”mark their conquest” Bunch of hypocrites, everywhere I’ve been in this country there are churches marking the Christian conquest of this country from the Native Americans. Funny thing is the Christians did that while defying our Constitution, and got away with it!!” (2010)
  • He shared a story about Christians vandalising a billboard erected by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, commenting: “I don’t believe in Christianity at all, but I would never vandalize anything of theirs. Course neither would a Muslim, makes a person wonder which is more of a peaceful religion I believe!” The next day he posted a link to a news story about a suspicious fire that damaged construction equipment at the site of a future mosque in Tennessee. (2010)
  • He updated his cover photo to: “Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny you your right to believe what you’d like, but I have the right to point out it’s ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people. Anti-theism: the conscientious objection to religion.” (2013)
  • He also disagreed with a quote from Elton John who said: “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. The reality is that organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.” He wrote: “I don’t agree with the first part of Elton’s statement, with banning religion. Not that I care for religion, as I most definitely do not, but banning it would be taking away a persons rights and I oppose that.” (2012)

Marriage Equality for LGBT people

  • He shared : ”Don’t like gay marriages? Don’t have one.. Don’t like cigarettes? Don’t smoke them.. Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one.. Don’t like sex? Don’t have it.. Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them.. Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it.. Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink it.. Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one.. Don’t like your rights taken away??? Don’t take away someone else’s. {re-post if you agree}” (2011)
  • He shared a story about Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Baltimore’s Catholic Archbishop clashing over same-sex marriage. He posted this quote: “1950: Interracial marriage is a threat to the sanctity of marriage. Today: gay marriage is a threat to the sanctity of marriage. Same bigots, different decade.” He commented on this quote: “Very well said!” (2011)
  • He shared a quote saying “Claiming that someone else’s marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating doughnut because you’re on a diet.” (2012)
  • He changed his profile picture from an American Eagle to a marriage equality symbol. (2013)
  • He shared  several quotes and links supporting marriage equality. One had the slogan: “Oh, you’re afraid gays try to convert people to their own sexual orientation? What kind of horrible people would do that?” Another was a quote from Barack Obama saying: “No one in America should be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love.” Another was picture of Spock with the slogan: “You say human sexuality is a choice? At what point did you choose to be straight?” (2013)
  • He shared a link from Forward Progressives about the Biblical definitions of marriage. He posted a mock-up of an advert outside a church saying “We truly regret that gay marriage attacks the sanctity of your fourth marriage.” He posted a congratulation link to Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner on getting married. (2014)
  • He shared a rainbow image with the slogan: “I might lose friends for this, but I fully support gay rights.” He added: “They are NOT friends of mine if they do not support equality, and I am better without them!!!” (2014)
  • He shared a pro-marriage-equality photo published by George Takei, that reads: “I am an ally… I just support this crazy thought that everyone should have equal rights.” (2015)

Women’s rights including reproductive rights

  • He shared a quote from Sonia Johnson: “I have to admit that one of my favorite fantasies is that next Sunday not one single woman, in any country of the world, will go to church. If women simply stop giving our time and energy to the institutions that oppress, they would have to cease to do so.” (2012)
  • He shared  a quote from Josephine Henry: “Is not the Church to-day a masculine hierarchy, with a female constituency, which holds woman in Bible lands in silence and in subjection? No institution in modern civilization is so tyrannical and so unjust to woman as is the Christian Church. It demands everything from her and gives her nothing in return.” (2012)
  • After Amina Filali committed suicide in Morocco when a judge forced her to marry her rapist, he shared this quote from Kacem El Ghazzaili: “We live in a society that teaches women to be careful not to get raped instead of teaching men NOT TO RAPE.” (2012)
  • He shared an image from ‘One Million Vaginas” with the slogan “When powerful people are seriously discussing whether or not rape is part of a gift package from God, it may be time to get ‘In God we trust’ off our money. Fast.” (2012)
  • He shared a photo from Women Without Religion, citing objections from British clerics in 1847 to obstetricians using chloroform as an aesthetic during childbirth on the basis that the Bible says that women should suffer pain during childbirth, with the comment: “The representatives of their man made god love to see women in pain. Religion. Man made, for men.” (2014)
  • He shared a cartoon supporting abortion rights with a quote from Florence Kennedy that “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” (2105)

Human rights and equality

  • He shared a diagram posted by ‘Being Liberal’, which showed seven identical skeletons, labeled in turn as white, black, gay, straight, Catholic, atheist and human. He posted another image of a census question asking ‘What race do you indentify yourself as?” All of the answers are crossed out, and the word ‘Human’ has been written in and ticked. At thanksgiving he posted a graphic saying: “Thanksgiving is a time to remember all that we have… and the genocide it took to get it.” (2012)
  • He shared an image that reads: “So let’s get this straight… God didn’t judge America over the millions of natives that were raped and murdered and had their land stolen. God didn’t judge America over the millions of Africans that had boulders tied to their legs and were raped, murdered and enslaved for centuries. And God didn’t judge America over not taking care of the homeless, hungry, sick and dying poor. But now God will judge America over abortion and gay marriage.” (2012)
  • He shared a photo with the caption: “Straight, gay, bi, rich, poor, skinny, fat, black, white. We are all human. Don’t judge.” He posted a cartoon captioned “The hall of outdated thinking” with specimens of humans in jars saying: “Women shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” and “Black people are second class citizens,” and “Gay marriage is an abomination.” (2013)
  • He shared an image of an autistic child with the slogan: “Autism: different, not less,” and he added: “In my experience – MORE!!!” (2012)
  • He shared a search appeal by the National Autism Association, looking for a missing child with a disability (2013)

Animal welfare

  • He liked a cause asking people to stop YouTube accepting and showing videos showing cruelty to animals (2012)
  • He shared various animal links including an appeal to save pitbulls who are trained to fight, and several appeals for rescue dogs on death row who were seeking new homes. (2013)
  • One of his animal links was of a dog playing in water, with the caption: “Sometimes I prefer to spend time with animals other than humans.” He added: “Actually most times, if not all.” (2013)
  • He shared various pictures of dogs and cats including one with the slogan: “Like if you like someone with paws” and another saying “Dogs often sense sadness in humans and will often attempt to make their owners happier by initiating cuddling.” (2014)

Progressive politics

  • He shared a quote from another Facebook account that opposed “those individuals looking to secede from the US,” saying that if they loved America, they would be doing everything in their power to be finding ways of bringing everyone together, instead of behaving like spoiled children and threatening to tear the nation in half because they didn’t get their way. (2012)
  • He shared a photo from ‘I Acknowledge Class Warfare Exists’ of Mitt Romney with the slogan ‘Nothing says ‘I believe in America’ like a Swiss bank account used to avoid paying taxes.” He shared another photo of three Republican politicians with the slogan ‘Hey America! If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs!” (2012)
  • He shared a photo of a mother and child on the street, with the slogan: “1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty. Remember that when you’re thanking your imaginary god for all the meaningless shit he’s ‘blessed’ you with.” He posted another picture of a homeless man cuddling dog on the street, with the slogan: “Christians speak of unconditional love. They haven’t a clue.” (2013)
  • He shared a survey that shows that only .02% of US prisoners are atheists, and a an image with the caption: “Republicans – convincing millions that the best way to worship a man who stood for love, acceptance, hope and compassion is with intolerance, fear, hate and anger.” (2013)
  • He shared a photo with the slogan: “The amount of people God saves from death is strictly related to the level of healthcare in that country.” (2015)

Pride in America

  • He regularly posted about his support for the American army, and his pride in the American flag outside his front door, as well as sharing a Constitution Day badge. He commented on a video of a large American flag blowing in the wind in new Mexico to commemorate September 11th: “Nothing gives me a greater feeling than this, NOTHING!!” (2010)
  • He shared a news story about President Obama wanting Americans to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks by recapturing the sense of unity and common purpose felt on that day. Hicks commented: “I don’t support him often, but in this respect he has not only my full support, but my deepest respect!!” (2010)
  • He shared a series of quotes from Thomas Jefferson, including this: “I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another”, and he shared the following quote from John F Kennedy: “Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts, including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.” (2011)
  • He shared a pair of quotes showing James Madison supporting separation of church and state and Adolph Hitler opposing it. He posted an image of the original pledge of allegiance, without the words ‘Under God’, and a pre-1957 dollar without the words ‘In God we trust’. (2012)

Support for gun ownership

  • He posted a picture of his wife shooting a gun at a firing range. And he shared a link to a news story about two convenience store clerks who were not to face criminal charges after being involved in the fatal shooting of a would-be robber. Hicks quoted from the article: “In Union County we have a no return policy on armed robbery,” and he added: “I like this guy!!” (2010)
  • He wrote: “I guess after the horrible tragedy early this week in Arizona, all Glock pistols will officially be labeled ‘assault weapons.’ While I never cared for Glocks personally, it stinks that anyone would blame a firearm rather than the operator of such firearm for such a terrible act. I think I’ll start blaming McDonalds for my weight problem, Christianity for the Ku Klux Klan, and Islam for terrorism.” (2011)
  • He shared a story about an Arizona politician who was being criticised because she had taken out a gun and aimed it at a reporter’s chest during an interview. He commented: “While I’m very much pro-gun, I’m equally for firearm safety. People will now put blame on firearms in general rather than ignorant people like this.” (2011)
  • In January 2015 he posted a photo of his gun, writing: “Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader.” This was his first gun-related post since 2011.

Personal posts

  • He has posted family pictures, comments about his wonderful wife and his pet dog Rocky, vacation pictures from Florida to New York, support for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, an IQ test result of over 140, a range of jokes and puns, and updates about playing various online games.
  • He liked a link to the North Carolina Code, General Statutes § 20-174, prohibiting crossing at other than crosswalks and walking along highways. He has liked a Community Page called “If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!”
  • In December 2014 he posted three pictures. One was of himself on quad bike captioned “Back in my younger (and hairier) days.” One was of himself in suit captioned “Modern me; same ugly, stupid, fat person with less hair now.” One was of himself and his wife at Disneyworld, captioned “My better half and I.” (2014)
  • In January 2015 he wrote: “It is official, I am a grumpy old man. I now am sure of this, as when I saw a couple having sex in their vehicle in my parking lot a little bit ago instead of just ignoring it I called Chapel Hills finest on them.”
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{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tezcatlipoca February 13, 2015 at 5:56 am

Well, according to the Christian stabbing, should they attempt to convert him on his deathbed, humanist of the year, and a few of the other bloggers on the same network, it is Dawkins and Harris who pulled the trigger. No sense letting what is actually on the Facebook page get in the way of some good old axe grinding.

2 Aneris ✻ February 13, 2015 at 6:18 am

I haven’t seen the Facebook page of this person and must admit I don’t follow this story very closely. I appreciate your summary. I did condemn this action in a discussion group for I know that others value the gesture. It’s a bit odd since I know that it costs me nothing, and could be viewed as “empty”. However many situations exists that similar, where you can do something that costs you nothing, but means something to someone else. I wrote though that neither a book or creed exists that suggests murder of believers under some circumstances and where atheists have to come up with careful interpretations not do it, and none of the famous atheists advocate for such violence under any curcumstances.

The idea, however, that “dictionary atheism” somehow failed, because it could not prevent these actions and therefore everyone must convert to a particular postmodern infused intersectionality-identitarian ideology strikes me as absurd, especially coming from people who may not advocate, but certainly fantasized about violence against believers and who are now quick to unfairly shift the blame on atheist opinion leaders they don’t like.

3 JackSkeptic February 13, 2015 at 7:51 am

It’s a very unfortunate feature of modern discourse that some people fall over themselves to exploit a tragedy to promote their own political agenda. Facts, nuance and careful consideration are the first casualties.

4 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 8:39 am

FreeThoughtBlogs and Rebecca Watson are blaming Dawkins and the mean things he says about Islam.

I didn’t think it was possible for them to sink any lower.

Okay, that’s not quite true. I knew they could sink lower, I just hadn’t guessed in what way.

5 Ralph February 13, 2015 at 10:03 am

A measured piece Michael.

There’s no reason in this case (to date) to assume that the murders were some outworking of an atheist worldview.

Atheism as such can’t hold any moral imperatives – so it’s not even possible to draw a straight line between Atheism and murder without adding some additional forumulations around ethics based on a atomistic view of metaphysics.

6 Minnow February 13, 2015 at 10:30 am

“FreeThoughtBlogs and Rebecca Watson are blaming Dawkins and the mean things he says about Islam.”

yes, it has surprised a lot of people, Ophelia Benson’s newfound defensiveness about Islam. Time we respected the Prophet more.

A bit like her sudden re-appraisal of Chris Mooney after months of monstering.

7 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 10:42 am

yes, it has surprised a lot of people, Ophelia Benson’s newfound defensiveness about Islam. Time we respected the Prophet more.

She is falling back into FTB line after her lonely defense of Charlie Hebdo.

Amazing to think this is a woman who devoted the bulk of Does God Hate Women? to Islam (and concluded ‘Yes’).

8 Minnow February 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

“Amazing to think this is a woman who devoted the bulk of Does God Hate Women? to Islam (and concluded ‘Yes’).”

I know. That was a woman I admired a lot. I still have hopes of a resurrection.

9 Minnow February 13, 2015 at 10:48 am

But, I should say, she was back on form over Charlie Hebdo, saw that with a clear eye unlike most of the ninnies on FTB.

10 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 10:57 am

When we see the usual FTB/Skepchick suspects pointing the finger at “New Atheists”, “Dictionary Atheists”, or “atheist leaders” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, we should not be surprised.

These smear mongers — the atheist SJWs — are just using their standard tactic of guilt by association. Jumping to conclusions and tarring their enemies with everything under the sun is what they do.

PZ Myers no longer even pretends that he has the critical faculties of a scientist.

Ultimately, this is all caused by what makes SJWs into SJWs: their denial of the individual qualities of people. Everybody is classified according to a limited number of attributes: skin colour, gender, sexual preference, etc. The personal is political. Check your privilege, leave your personhood at the door. One blemish and you are no longer “one of us”.

So when a horrible incident like this happens, it can never be interpreted as the action of an individual against other individuals. It must immediately be translated into group dynamics.

The murderer is a cis (check) heterosexual (check) white (check) male (check), who has expressed sympathy for the cause of atheism. Bingo. His group membership has now been established.

The victims are PoC (check), include women (check), and are Muslims (check). They are now classified as an “Oppressed Minority”. Bingo again.

So what we have here is a clear case of racism and islamophobia, committed by a proven admirer of the New Atheists. Since Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (and New Atheists in general) have been critical of Islam, they have obviously incited the murderer to go on a killing spree. Atheists should be ashamed of themselves. Case closed.

Indeed, this is the level of dishonesty and stupidity that is on display. I am not exaggerating. Check out the blog posts by FTB’s finest and their comment threads.

The sooner reverend Myers (the Jerry Falwell of atheism) and his gang pack up and leave the a/s community the better. With their continued presence they are dragging it down to sewer level and below. The smell is becoming unbearable.

11 Man from Utopia February 13, 2015 at 10:59 am

I saw the guy also liked chubby anime girls on his Facebook. This was clearly a hate crime against thin people.

12 Rik G February 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

I thought your more detailed summary was valuable in that it made it pretty clear that his facebook presence did not present an obvious clue as to why this person murdered three people. The added detail makes it harder to think “maybe there was something in there”, and was good journalism to boot. I hope you will consider re-including it.

13 Ralph February 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

There really is no need for people to grasp at this case to establish a link between an Atheist worldview and committing crimes including murder – and therefore (in theory) no need for the Atheist community to try and disestablsh link.

There are much clearer and longer established examples out there of avowed Ahteists murdering people as a means to political ends.

Which of course doesn’t at all establish a direct link between Atheism and murder.

I just think this particular case isn’t noteworthy to that end (regardless of how the case pans out and further revelations)

14 MosesZD February 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm

My, my, my… He sounds very much like PZ Myers. And he read a VERY OBSCURE book that features a chapter by PZ Myers.

So do we engage in Guilt by Association that PZ Myers engages in and point fingers his way? Or Dawkins because he read ‘The God Delusion” (still the best selling atheist book out there)?

Do we blame atheism and seek to replace the dictionary definition with PZ Myer’s new dictionary-of-convenience definition whereby you’re ‘not a true athiest’ unless you follow my moral values? And would this man not be a ‘true PZ Myers’ atheist seeing as they’re pretty close to being peas in a pod?

No. None of these things. He’s a man. He’s responsible for his own agency and atheists come of all stripes because atheism is a simple thing — the lack of belief in a god or gods.

15 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 1:41 pm

What the Facebook links show is what you’d expect: people are complex and often contradictory.

As a non-American I find their attitudes towards guns bizarre but in all other respects this looks like the ‘typical’ – in the sense there is no ‘typical’ – atheist’s Facebook profile.

He doesn’t appear to be an obsessed loner; he’s socially liberal, or at least expresses support for liberal causes, his IQ is reasonably high (aside: nobody ever posts their test results if they are low), etc.

It’s possible he kept extremist positions private in case it put off potential employers (some check) but there’s nothing much here you wouldn’t find on a million other Facebook pages.

16 Nathan (formerly GerardO) February 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Back in the day I received a savaging at Pharyngula for diagnosing* Elliot Rodger with Asperger’s Syndrome. I am going to stick my neck out again and say, on available evidence, that Hicks is highly likely to be on the autistic spectrum. I wouldn’t be surprised if information to this effect is revealed in coming days or weeks.

*In amongst the flurry of outrage, I failed to explain the difference between a Simple Diagnosis (which anyone can perform and is basically speculative in nature), and a Clinical Diagnosis, which is the provenance of trained experts.

17 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

What’s your ‘diagnosis’ based on? He’s a married man with a social life and a wide range of pursuits including some which take place outdoors. There’s no evidence I can see of overly pedantic or ideosyncratic language in his posts either.

Asperger’s isn’t a catch-all diagnosis for misfits; it’s something which takes a team of specialists weeks to assess even with the subjects co-operation.

18 Nathan (formerly GerardO) February 13, 2015 at 2:40 pm

If you thought the internet had reached peak stupid:
https://twitter.com/Bro_Pair/status/565596421743984643

Shatterface @ 17:

Firstly, I didn’t claim Asperger’s, I say somewhere on the spectrum — the experts have to determine where. Also, some are capable of living orthodox lives, that is determined.

19 Chris Berg February 13, 2015 at 3:05 pm

The Chapel Hill shooting was an act of blatant terrorism. It was an Islamophobic hate crime. Don’t try and spin this any other way. There is no sugar coating it.

Instead of you bigots and racists defending a TERRORIST, mourn the loss of 3 brilliant, lovely college students who died out of ignorance, anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

20 Billie from Ockham February 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm

If you are going to play internet psychiatrist, Nathan, then please note that Hicks is much more likely to have borderline personality disorder than autism.

And in contrast to Jan’s claim that “…what we have here is a clear case of racism and islamophobia…,” I would say that the theory that the core problem is borderline personality disorder (maybe with a smidgeon of xenophobia tossed in) is much more plausible.

But here I am not following Michael Nugent’s excellent advice.

21 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Nathan: If you thought the internet had reached peak stupid:
https://twitter.com/Bro_Pair/status/565596421743984643

I’ve never been under any delusion that the internet has even approached it’s full potential for stupidity yet. It’s going to take a generation which grew up with Twitter before it reaches the Singularity.

Firstly, I didn’t claim Asperger’s, I say somewhere on the spectrum — the experts have to determine where. Also, some are capable of living orthodox lives, that is determined.

It takes a team of experts to determine if he’s even on the spectrum let alone where he lies on it. Nothing he has written or anything people have said about him come close to suggesting autism.

22 Deepak Shetty February 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

@Shatterface
FreeThoughtBlogs and Rebecca Watson are blaming Dawkins and the mean things he says about Islam.
Links please?
What I do remember reading on FTB is that Atheism must mean more than a disbelief in God if it has to have any relevance (which is a different argument than what you are portraying it as).

23 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Chris Burt: The Chapel Hill shooting was an act of blatant terrorism. It was an Islamophobic hate crime. Don’t try and spin this any other way. There is no sugar coating it.

They should employ you at Gitmo, what with your magic terrorism detector skills.

Instead of you bigots and racists defending a TERRORIST, mourn the loss of 3 brilliant, lovely college students who died out of ignorance, anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

Nobody is defending terrorism. You might think mourning people is going to kiss the world better but some of us are more interested in preventing tragedies than rending our clothes and telling everyone we feel more deeply than they do.

24 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Deepak Shetty: Links please?

Here’s Watson linking the murders to Dawkins, Harris, Krauss, er, Elliot Roger, Downs Syndrome and whatever else was farting through her brain at the time:

On the one hand, it is easy to say that this appears to be about a parking spot only, with nothing to do with religion or race. But on the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine what would drive someone to murder three people over something so stupid, unless the murderer for some reason did not see his victims as full humans deserving of the right to life. And if you have paid any attention to the current state of capital-A-Atheism, you would have to see the growing problem with the continued dehumanization of Muslims, women, and other marginalized groups by community leaders like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss, the organizations that support them with awards and speaking engagements, and the mass of young and angry atheists on sites like Reddit.

When you combine that dehumanization with violent rhetoric, it’s inevitable that someone will commit an act like Hicks. That’s how the “men’s rights movement” led to people like Elliot Rodger, and how the “pro-life movement” led to people like Scott Roeder.

Knowing what we know about the end result of dehumanization combined with violent rhetoric, maybe it’s time that atheists as a group decide to retire this cartoon, which may have been true once but hasn’t been relevant at least since Dawkins started Tweeting about why women who don’t abort fetuses with Downs Syndrome are immoral

http://skepchick.org/2015/02/atheist-murders-3-muslim-students-over-parking-spot/

25 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

@Billie from Ockham,

And in contrast to Jan’s claim that “…what we have here is a clear case of racism and islamophobia…,

That was not my claim.

26 Deepak Shetty February 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm

@Shatterface
She isnt saying what you think she is – She’s saying if you continue to dehumanize muslims , its inevitable that someone will commit an act like this one (so she doesnt necessarily think this act was caused by hatred of Muslims , just that it is a possibility and if we continue on this path then one day something like this will happen).
Also Harris in particular has in fact said Islam is the greatest threat , does support racial profiling of Muslims , has written words that seem like he does support torture or pre-emptive killing etc so the charge that he does dehumanise muslims is a valid one (what do you think racial profiling is going to do?) – He also seems to be closer to the conservative viewpoint on gun control. What that leads to is anyones guess –
But I didnt see anything in that posts that blames Dawkins/Harris for it – As far as I know neither support violence (at a personal level) – They might be supporting it when it comes to war etc.

Where is the FTB link?

27 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 4:52 pm

@Chris Berg,

The Chapel Hill shooting was an act of blatant terrorism. It was an Islamophobic hate crime. Don’t try and spin this any other way. There is no sugar coating it.

Instead of you bigots and racists defending a TERRORIST, mourn the loss of 3 brilliant, lovely college students who died out of ignorance, anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

Can you please point out where anyone here is defending the murderer? I think we all agree that this was a vile act by a horrible or seriously deranged person.

What is in dispute is to what extent his atheism was a motivation for his acts. You appear to have evidence that supports your assertion that this was an islamophobic hate crime. Maybe you can convince us by sharing this evidence.

28 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 5:03 pm

@Depak Shetty,

She’s saying if you continue to dehumanize muslims , its inevitable that someone will commit an act like this one (so she doesnt necessarily think this act was caused by hatred of Muslims , just that it is a possibility and if we continue on this path then one day something like this will happen).

So in your estimation Rebecca Watson is saying that something like this, which just happened, but for which Harris and Dawkins et al. are not to blame this time, might happen again, and then Harris and Dawkins et al. will be to blame?

That is … a contorted reading at best.

No, lets not play word games. It’s appallingly dishonest apologetics. Exactly what we have come to expect from the SJWs.

29 skh February 13, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Watson failed to include that many religions (inc. Islam) dehumanize non-believers. Of course, including that in her article would ruin her double standard about which hateful rhetoric leads to this type of tragedy. It is only rhetoric from those she dislikes…MRA’s. Pro-lifers, Dawkins, etc…that is bad.

30 Michael Nugent February 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Deepak #26

I’m sure Rebecca can clarify if she didn’t mean to convey what her words mean.

But that post does not merely say: “If you continue to dehumanise Muslims…”

It says: “When you combine that dehumanisation…”

that dehumanisation” refers back to what she describes as “the continued dehumanisation of Muslims, women, and other marginalized groups by community leaders like Richard Dawkins…”

She was speculating about what led to this particular murder, not what might lead to a hypothetical possible future murder.

Also, nobody is suggesting that Rebecca was saying that Richard supports violence.

She was saying that when you combine dehumanising comments (which she attributed to Richard) with violent rhetoric (which she didn’t attribute to him) then violent behaviour like this murder (which she also didn’t attribute to him) is inevitable.

31 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Deepak Shetty: She isnt saying what you think she is

Christ, yet again with the ‘you don’t understand’ crap.

She’s saying if you continue to dehumanize muslims , its inevitable that someone will commit an act like this one (so she doesnt necessarily think this act was caused by hatred of Muslims , just that it is a possibility and if we continue on this path then one day something like this will happen).

This is precisely the same argument that you came out with when Michael was accused of harbouring rapists: that Myers wasn’t literally saying Michael provided a haven for rapists, that Myers wasn’t literally accusing Pitters of being rapists but that it was precisely the kind of thing that might happen so the Myers has no reason to apologise.

Watson is clearly linking events that happened to things she says people have said. Fuck off with your word games.

32 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Why bring up Harris and Dawkins all the time in connection with these murders, if not for trying to play the guilt-by-association card?

Once again the SJWs revel in their filthy smear tactics like pigs in the mud. It’s the only thing mediocrities like PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson are good at.

33 Deepak Shetty February 13, 2015 at 5:58 pm

@Jan Steen
ut for which Harris and Dawkins et al. are not to blame this time, might happen again, and then Harris and Dawkins et al. will be to blame?
My take is that there are many contributing factors (e.g. Fox News , Tea partiers). But we cannot on one hand take the position that moderate religious people need to take a more active role in opposing what people of their own religion do while not doing the same when it happens to us.
We cannot on one hand insist that there is a causal relationship between religion and some fundamentalism while refusing to see that some of the rhetoric being employed by some members of the non-believer community might in fact lead to fundamentalism. It’s not just this incident , you can see it in the behavior and words of a bunch of Atheists.

Why bring up Harris and Dawkins all the time in connection with these murders, if not for trying to play the guilt-by-association card?
Are you denying that Harris supports racial profiling ? What do you think that achieves? How in the world is pointing that out a smear?

34 Aneris ✻ February 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm

We love stories. Not just in the sense of headlines and drama. We crave to understand the world as a series of events linked together in chains of causes-and-effects. However, we are mostly fooling ourselves. We are completely unable to see from a later state of a simple chess game which moves led to that configuration and it gets more unclear the further we move away from our point in time (chess is comparatively simple, since it has a known starting point and rigid moves). Likewise, possible futures fan out wide the further away we get from our current point in time. Even worse, we have so much data available, that we can construct almost any story by just focusing on some cause-of-and-effect chains that look plausible enough (which is known as “tunnelling” in some jargon).

In this case, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson blame Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, which they might even genuinely believe. The next person will believe it has to do with gun laws, another one with anger management and maybe daily frustrations. The next person is convinced it’s because he identified himself with the main character of “Falling Down” as it was reported in some news. Ophelia Benson speculated he had an issue with polygamy.

We have pseudo-explanations that certain moves are possible and that some moves probably happened, but ultimately we are informed by knowing the outcome, which I’m sure everyone heard of, is known as the Hindsight Bias. We just look for the story after the fact because our brains crave to learn how the state of the world arrived where it is now. It is a kind of backward prediction and which we believe is useful to make future predictions.
Alluding to Ms Zvan “What Aneris Means” that is actually connected to my nickname: Aneris stands for the faux “apparent order” within our minds that tries to make sense of the world that is not random, and not cognitive relativist, yet too complex for such simplistic explanations such as that he read some books critical of Islam and then went out to shoot people. He evidently didn’t. So much is known – unlike terrorists, where a long, stable chain of events go fairly straight to an outcome (which are planned in advance). Here we have lots of noise and other possible influences.

Millions have read “the God Delusion” (2 million copies sold by 2010). Using this incident to make gloomy predictions that are implicit in Watson’s, Benson’s and Myers’ claims (if Dawkins et al continue in that fashion then…) ought to have no traction at all in a community that claims to be sceptical.

Ophelia Benson wrote: “I’m tired of having to live with the unintended effects of Harris and Dawkins being provocative.”

I am still astonished that “allies” within this movement call each other “rapists”, “haven provider” et cetera, then turn around then implicate others in murder – SRSLY – and this movement does literally nothing about it. It’s just passively accepted, while everyone has something to say when William Lane Craig makes theological arguments that convince nobody who isn’t a believer already. I don’t understand this. Why are these people still connected with atheism and skepticism?

Either they genuinely believe their smearing, then they are lousy critical thinkers who shouldn’t be in any position of import in such a movement. Such people just revel in their cognitive distortions and then pass them off as if they were revealed truth (and then bully everyone who isn’t buying it), or they do it on purpose, then they are charlatans and demagogues, which isn’t exactly better than the alternative. These folk are even incapable of a single introspective insight. PZ Myers straight out claims, falsely, that he never daydreamed about violent actions against people he doesn’t like. Oh really? Ms Benson wrote anti-islamics things herself, yet is incapable of pausing for a moment and explain why she believes her statements were different and better than what she condemns in other people’s writings. How could such people ever reach this position of influence?

35 Aneris ✻ February 13, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Jan Steen wrote: Why bring up Harris and Dawkins all the time in connection with these murders, if not for trying to play the guilt-by-association card?

To foster the Enemy Stereotype, they are brewing a thick paste of rapists, gun-nuts, republicans, liberatarians, mra, their supporters, haven providers and so forth and whenever needed they apply that smeary paste to whoever they don’t like and the Flock™ believes it. Hence block bot lists, hence online pillories, hence the methodical montage of different incidents (e.g. Ron Lindsay vs Aussie Army rapist cover-ups). What helps them, either to fool themselves, or to fool other people are those cognitive shortcomings. You can pick out few isolated things and throw away context and then construct almost everything you want. Uncle Bob knew:

“Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.”
– Robert A. Wilson

Which doesn’t work for empirical science, but in the land of rich data and interpretations, it does.

36 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 6:32 pm

@Deepak Shetty,

In the first place, there is no evidence that I have seen that proves that these murders were motivated by hatred of Muslims. The murderer lived upstairs from his victims. Who knows what history of personal animosity lies behind this crime. I certainly don’t.

Like PZ Myers, Watson, and all the other disingenuous SJWs, you are just jumping to conclusions because this is a good opportunity to do some more Dawkins and Harris bashing. And throw in Lawrence Krauss for good measure. While we’re at it, throw in all the “dictionary atheists” as well. One thing is strange, though. They don’t seem to applaud these murders at all. I wonder why that is.

Are you denying that Harris supports racial profiling ? What do you think that achieves? How in the world is pointing that out a smear?

The smear is in the suggestion that someone who proposed racial profiling as a — possibly ineffective — way to detect Islamist terrorists, would condone or is somehow responsible for the murder of completely innocent Muslims. This is especially dubious because we don’t even know the motivation for these murders.

But I understand very well where you are coming from. In SJW world the ruling principle is: guilty until proven innocent. So you just fling around some accusations. And if they turn out to be wrong, then no harm is done, because they could have been right.

37 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Jerry Coyne has posted on the coverage too:

Why did it happen? We don’t know. Now isn’t the time to speculate about that, as an investigation is under way. After such tragedies, the press (and bloggers) often begin to echo rumors about motivations, rumors that often turn out to be wrong. After the Columbine shootings, for example, goth culture, Marilyn Manson, and bullying were endlessly masticated by the pundits as possible contributions to the shooting—yet all of these connections proved to be bogus.

So it’s simply premature and inappropriate to begin pointing fingers, and using these murders as some kind of springboard to advance one’s ideological or political or religious agenda. And yet that is what I see.

You’ll all know about the religionists who are pinning this on atheism. That is expected. What bothers me even more is to see fellow unbelievers pinning this on atheism as well. There are those who say that this proves that no atheists have infused the “movement” (if there is a movement) with the proper degree of empathy towards the downtrodden, as if Paul Kurtz hadn’t spent his life doing that. We see those vile opportunists who, with an animus against the best-known New Atheists, implying that who really pulled the trigger was not Craig Stephen Hicks, but Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris or Lawrence Krauss, who supposedly created the climate (and the writings) that led to this murder.

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/the-chapel-hill-murders/

I’m expecting Adam Lee (remember him?) to lynch Dawkins, Harris and probably Hitchens in tomorrow’s Guardian

38 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Ophelia Benson wrote: “I’m tired of having to live with the unintended effects of Harris and Dawkins being provocative.”

Even if the murders had anything whatsoever to do with Dawkins or Harris, which they don’t, to state the problem in terms of the impact it is having on her (”I’m tired of having to live with the unintended effects”) rather than the supposed victims is massively egocentric and entirely lacking in empathy.

What kind of person places their own discomfort at guilt by association over the tragic loss of human life?

39 Ariovistus February 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Very thoughtful post as usual, Michael.

My heart goes out to the victims of these terrible crimes and the families affected. It is too early to draw any conclusions about the perpetrators true motives.

Sadly, it seems the SJWs don’t just exploit horrible crimes like this for political purposes, they absolutely relish doing so. To SJWs, jumping to conclusions is one of their holiest sacraments. They are so formulaic, the SJW crap practically writes itself. Just plug in a few names, and a computer program could generate practically the same thing Watson and others write. It might even sound more articulate. Similiar to the Chopra generator, but a little longer.

40 Bob&TheBaby February 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Instead of pausing to ponder the multitudes of thoughts passing through his brain and the opinions and reactions of a thousand different points of view…Maybe…
He just didn’t like them, they took his parking spot, he lost it and made a fatal mistake.
Sometimes the simple answer is correct, but then, where would the mind numbing entertainment of the over-analysis be?

41 Richard February 13, 2015 at 7:24 pm

And the Washington Post says humanists should give more prominence to Rebecca Watson? After that last rant, I don’t think so.

42 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Scilogreen on CJ Werleman who has been making similar accusations against Dawkins and Harris:

The first tweet is gun-jumping in order to confirm his internal bias that Sam Harris’ and Richard Dawkins’ (and, posthumously, Christopher Hitchens’) form of non-belief created a killer. The second tweet equates people who may agree with these three writers with ISIS. Yes, really, ISIS.

https://scilogreen.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/cj-werlemen-champion-shark-jumper/

For those who don’t know CJ Werleman was torn a new arsehole recently after his plagiarism and untrue claims were publicly exposed. I’m surprised he isn’t living in a cave somewhere with his head in a bucket but apparently he has no sense of shame.

43 A Bear February 13, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Deepak Shetty wrote:

Are you denying that Harris supports racial profiling ? What do you think that achieves? How in the world is pointing that out a smear?

Can you point out anywhere that Hicks mentions Sam Harris much less show a link between Harris and Hicks’ motives?
There are in fact passages that Hicks wrote in his facebook that state he was against broadbrushing all muslims with the acts of the few fanatics. He also was in favor of the building of the “Ground Zero Mosque”. The available evidence tends to point to Hicks disagreeing with the more controversial statements Harris has made about muslims if anything.
So why is Harris even mentioned in this debate if not to smear him?
Oh wait, I forgot you and your friends don’t need any evidence or reason to throw smears and accusations around.

44 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Scilogreen’s post has been reblogged at Harry’s Place:

http://hurryupharry.org/2015/02/13/cj-werleman-champion-shark-jumper/

45 skh February 13, 2015 at 7:51 pm

SJW logic:

We have a religion that has a number of extremist followers who engage in violent rhetoric against non-believers, think women are worthless, and have other backward beliefs. When someone commits a violent act in the name of that religion, the SJW’s will protest anybody who attempts to link the religion to that violent act.

When a fan of Dawkins/Harris commits a violent act POSSIBLY related to hatred of followers of the above religion, the SJW’s have no problems linking Dawkin/Harris to it.

There’s SJW Logic(tm) for you…

46 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Werleman’s original post, where , naturally, he blames Harris, Dawkins and the ghost of Hitchens:

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/chapel-hill-murders-beast-new-atheism-1598776345

47 Deepak Shetty February 13, 2015 at 8:02 pm

@Jan Steen
In the first place, there is no evidence that I have seen that proves that these murders were motivated by hatred of Muslims.
Where did anyone say there is evidence? Whats being discussed is plausibility. Here let me be clear – I dont know of any case that Harris/Dawkins have ever supported violence , so as far as I am concerned no “blame” can be laid at their footsteps. We can however criticize their views that we think leads to prejudice against Muslims. And we can also conclude that irrespective of the details of this case , the path they are going down is going to lead us somewhere bad.

48 skh February 13, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Btw… one can make a case that the most violence against followers of Islam has been facilitated by a ceetain person named Barack Obama. In the name of fighting terrorism, he has authorized many drone strikes against “terrorists”, who often turn out to be innocent civilians (including kids).

But Dawkins says mean things, so he is the real enemy…according to SJW’s.

49 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Deepak Shetty: Where did anyone say there is evidence? Whats being discussed is plausibility.

That really is an awful argument. That’s really not how we attribute guilt. We don’t convict people because they could plausibly have done something. That’s fascist.

Here let me be clear

I guess it had to happen eventually…

I dont know of any case that Harris/Dawkins have ever supported violence

Though that won’t stop you acting as if you did…

so as far as I am concerned no “blame” can be laid at their footsteps.

Okay, but…

We can however criticize their views that we think leads to prejudice against Muslims. And we can also conclude that irrespective of the details of this case

There is no ‘irrespective of the details. We are talking about a specific incident which Myers, Watson, Benson, the plagiarist CJ Werleman and others have specifically attributed to Dawkins, Harris and the dead pen of Hitchens.

the path they are going down is going to lead us somewhere bad.

And right there you contradict your previous statement that no blame can be laid at their doorstep.

You are pulling the same crap you did with the ‘haven for rapist’ accusations. You think just because you can conceive of something happening you can treat people as if it had.

You are a fascist.

50 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 8:26 pm

skh: Btw… one can make a case that the most violence against followers of Islam has been facilitated by a ceetain person named Barack Obama

Bush and Blair killed more; but the biggest cause of violent death amongst Muslims is still other Muslims.

One of the main reason for opposing Islamism is that moderate Muslims are their main victims.

51 Steven Carr February 13, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Thankfully, nobody is saying ‘These people did not deserve to die, but…’ , a wording which would definitely have been used if it had turned out that they were cartoonists.

52 Gary S. February 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Wow! This blog looks like the slymepit’s home away from home! LOL

53 Deepak Shetty February 13, 2015 at 10:57 pm

@Aneris
Millions have read “the God Delusion” (2 million copies sold by 2010). Using this incident to make gloomy predictions that are implicit in Watson’s, Benson’s and Myers’ claims (if Dawkins et al continue in that fashion then…) ought to have no traction at all in a community that claims to be sceptical.
Billions of believers and only few are violent. Does that stop Harris from saying Islam is the most violent religion? where were your complaints then?

54 Jan Steen February 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm

@Deepak Shetty,

Shatterface @49 has largely said what I would have written in response to your disgusting post @47.

To add more would be a derail. A derail about SJWs and their paradoxical need to be protective towards Muslims. Maybe some other time.

55 Shatterface February 13, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Billions of believers and only few are violent. Does that stop Harris from saying Islam is the most violent religion? where were your complaints then?

Harris is factually correct. You seem to have a problem distinguishing between a claim that Islam produces more religious violence in the world than any other, and a claim that all, or even most, Muslims are violent.

Since the main victims of Muslim violence are other Muslims your denial of violence is also a denial of Muslim suffering.

56 Lancelot Gobbo February 14, 2015 at 12:01 am

Deepak Shetty wrote:
Where did anyone say there is evidence? Whats being discussed is plausibility. Here let me be clear – I dont know of any case that Harris/Dawkins have ever supported violence , so as far as I am concerned no “blame” can be laid at their footsteps. We can however criticize their views that we think leads to prejudice against Muslims. And we can also conclude that irrespective of the details of this case , the path they are going down is going to lead us somewhere bad.

Once again I must ask for clarity in your language and grammar before I might understand your point, if, indeed, you have one. As far as I can tell, you are attempting to tell us that “Harris/Dawkins” (an interesting unit of which I have not heard) would like to lead us down a path which will lead us somewhere bad? FRankly, I can think of no path leading anywhere they recommend which would not be preferable to any you might suggest.

57 FishCakes February 14, 2015 at 12:10 am

Billions of believers and only few are violent. Does that stop Harris from saying Islam is the most violent religion? where were your complaints then?

Leaving aside the incredibly vague/imprecise and utterly unsupported assertion that “only a few are violent”, and ignoring the fact that there are many different ways to define and quantify “most violent religion”, Deepak’s reasoning needs some work.

The “most violent religion” can only be defined in relation or comparison to other religions; it’s a relative measure. The only way to prove that Islam is not the most violent religion (however such is defined/measured) would be to show that one of the other religions is more violent by comparison.

Whereas Deepak instead offers the unsupported assertion “only a few are violent” – as if that proves that Harris was wrong and that Islam really is not the most violent religion afterall.

I wonder if Deepak can understand the problem with this? I predict not, even after it has been explained.

58 JetLagg February 14, 2015 at 12:49 am

Deepak,

I still have some lingering hope you’re more honest than the average SJW (let’s just define that, temporarily, as someone who defends the overall behavior of both Myers and Watson). It would be fantastic if you bolstered that hope by responding directly to Michael. He’s pointed out, very clearly, why your understanding of Watson does not fit her actual words. I’m interested to see if you concede the point, attempt to dispute the facts at hand, or take issue with his logic.

59 JackSkeptic February 14, 2015 at 2:05 am

@JetLagg 58

I think you are under the illusion that people always argue in an attempt to find out what is true. Their idea of arguing in good faith is to protect their core beliefs no matter what as that is the most important consideration for them. Their beliefs are all that matters and nothing else must question it, even truth.

Therefore logical fallacies are simply part of the tool set as they must be. Most people fall for them so its all good. Humans are terrible at spotting them. But it is a fake argument and achieves nothing and gets nowhere.

I will discuss to a certain point but when it is clear they are not arguing with the intent to establish what is true I see no reason to waste further time on it. It’s like playing never ending whackamole. Fun at first but gets boring fast. Of course you are perfectly entitled to keep going but I have better and more interesting things to do, such as watching paint dry.

60 Shatterface February 14, 2015 at 2:16 am

Meanwhile Ophelia Benson is startled into lucidity and makes the same point I made earlier: the main victims of Muslim violence are Muslims and the main perpetrators of violence against Muslims are Muslims:


Sixty-seven people were injured Friday, said Tauheed Zulfiqar, a representative of the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar.

All of them Muslim, it would appear.

That’s just today, just in Pakistan. Then there are all the Muslims killed over the past few years by Boko Haram, and all the Muslims killed by Daesh, and all the Muslims killed in Somalia, Libya, Kenya, Algeria, Iran and Iraq, Syria, India – all the Muslims killed by other Muslims.

That’s a bigger picture. The murders in Chapel Hill are horrifying, but so are the murders at that Shiite mosque in Peshawar today.

Bigger picture is bigger.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150214014451/http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/02/19-muslims-massacred-in-peshawar/

61 Deepak Shetty February 14, 2015 at 5:28 am

@Michael
Before we continue – Do you agree or disagree
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in-defense-of-profiling
We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.
is dehumanisation or not?

62 kraut February 14, 2015 at 6:46 am

“In any case, it is simply a fact that, in the year 2012, suicidal terrorism is overwhelmingly a Muslim phenomenon. If you grant this, it follows that applying equal scrutiny to Mennonites would be a dangerous waste of time. ”
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in-defense-of-profiling

It seems reading comprehension is an issue for some.
Fuck clear thinking about a problem and label those that defend a rational approach as supporting killers.

“The survey also showed that the global median of Muslims who say suicide bombing is never justified is 72%. If we apply that to the total Muslim population of the 39 countries included in the survey, then that means there are 206,839,777.2 Muslims that do say that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is at least sometimes justified (28%). If we were to survey all 50 Muslim majority countries, that number will surely be higher, as countries like Iran, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia were not included in any of these surveys. Applying the 28% to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims gives us 453,407,920 Muslims who think it is at least sometimes justified to kill civilians in suicide bombing. That’s almost the population of the European Union.”
http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2015/01/islam-is-big-problem-and-numbers-show-it.html

So much for just a few muslims supporting violence.

63 kraut February 14, 2015 at 6:47 am

“is dehumanisation or not?”

no, in the light of facts it is rational.

64 Steven Carr February 14, 2015 at 6:48 am

If Deepak thinks that American ,British, Russian, French and German security forces do not use profiles to help them with security……

If Islam is a religion of peace, why do we have airport security?

Why does airport security not have orders to confiscate copies of ‘The God Delusion’?

If nobody anywhere thinks Islamic violence is justified, why are we not finding people saying ‘Those murders in Chapel Hill were terrible, BUT…..’ , which is what we found after policemen were shot on the streets of Paris.

65 Nathan (formerly GerardO) February 14, 2015 at 7:57 am

Billie from Ockham @20:

That’s what makes armchair diagnosis so much fun! Everyone can have an opinion and it doesn’t matter ‘cos were only making comments on a blog.

Shatterface @37:

I’m sure that Coyne will further enlighten his readers by posting pics of former English cricketer Graeme Hick sometime this week.

66 Nathan (formerly GerardO) February 14, 2015 at 8:43 am

[So the rumour that HTML no longer supports the ‘underline’ tag appears to be true]

On the subject of Jerry Coyne, I wonder if his response had been the same if Hicks had stridently pro-Palestinian views (I can’t find anything about Hicks that mentions Israel), and happened to have killed three Jews. Would secular Jerry say ‘let’s wait and see’, or would the tribal Jerry burst through to yell ‘ANTI-SEMITISM!’?

This is why Dictionary Atheism seems tepid to to me. Why bother abandoning all the susperstitious junk and still be lumbered with the tribal baggage?

67 Aneris ✻ February 14, 2015 at 9:12 am

Deepak Shetty wrote: is dehumanisation or not?

That is easy. Sam Harris discusses airport security. Please take a moment and let this information sink into your brain. Airport security. I think he is wrong, and won’t discuss why (beware the troll) nonetheless “dehumanizing” is not a reasonable critique. There is nothing dehumanizing to focus limited security resources on more probable candidates. And isn’t this the use of statistics and identity categories common in the FreethoughtBlogs and SkepChicks faction? 10% of poisoned M & Ms and therefore Schrödinger’s Rapist and the likes? Shouldn’t white people, or men, or some other group treated differently based on some superficial criterion? Aren’t you such racists and sexists? I got this very strong impression. Now do you want to see actual dehumanizing language?

PZ Myers wrote: I’m sure you’ve all heard the tragic story of Amanda Todd, the teenage girl who killed herself after prolonged bullying. Normal human beings will read about her and be near tears; she was broken by callous sexual predators, her life made miserable, and she finally gave up on it. The Amazing Atheist is not a normal human being. Instead, The Amazing Atheist raged at the fact that this young woman was getting attention when other people have died, too.

Which gets even more bizarre, when you consider PZ Myers piece when Robin Williams died, which PZ Myers commented in his uniquely compassionate way with: “Robin Williams brings joy to the hearts of journalists and politicians once again” …

PZ Myers wrote:</b I’m sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family. But his sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.

I think it’s easy to describe the eleventh dimension in M-theory in words, than the multi-dimensional hypocrisy and stupidity of PZ Myers and his gang of goons, which is only multiplied by the fact that protagonists and their sycophants are completely unable to see it.

Sources…………………………………………………….
1__http://web.archive.org/web/20140923052625/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/10/13/the-amazing-atheist-reveals-his-lack-of-humanity-again/
2__http://web.archive.org/web/20141216053610/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/08/12/robin-williams-brings-joy-to-the-hearts-of-journalists-and-politicians-once-again/

68 Phil Giordana FCD February 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

Seeing snippets from Hicks’ FB page, it seems he is firmly on the Myers/Watson/SJW side of things.

I understand the cognitive dissonance in such luminaries as Myers and Cie, but let’s face it: that one’s on you.

Am I doing this right?

And my sincere condolences to the families of these innocent people murdered.

69 Harrison February 14, 2015 at 10:54 am

“We cannot on one hand insist that there is a causal relationship between religion and some fundamentalism while refusing to see that some of the rhetoric being employed by some members of the non-believer community might in fact lead to fundamentalism.”

We absolutely can because, and this is critical, nothing that Harris or Dawkins or ANY ATHEIST writes is on par with any religion’s holy book.

When the Bible or the Koran commands violence, it’s literally an article of faith. We can be thankful that some followers choose not to follow these commands, but that does not change the fact that it’s the foundational documents of those faiths that commands such ugly behavior.

On the other hand nothing any atheist writes is similarly imperative. They can only attempt to persuade. They cannot command.

It’s only people like Myers who are attempting to spin atheism into another religion who believe otherwise.

70 Steven Carr February 14, 2015 at 11:44 am

Hate driven crimes could easily lead to innocent people being killed, and such things should not happen.

Religiously motivated murders are fuelled by the belief that the victims are guilty and deserved to die.

The idea that guilty people deserve to die is built into many religions.

71 Shatterface February 14, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Deepak Shetty: @Michael
Before we continue – Do you agree or disagree
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in-defense-of-profiling
We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.
is dehumanisation or not?

Harris is specifically referring to air travel. I think it’s counter productive but I see his point. Searching Quakers or Jewish grandmothers is a waste of fucking resources.

And no, it’s not dehumanising. We don’t search non- humans for bombs either.

72 Shatterface February 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Phil: Seeing snippets from Hicks’ FB page, it seems he is firmly on the Myers/Watson/SJW side of things.

Quite. He’s a fan of The God Delusionbut so are 2,000,000 other people. It doesn’t tell you anything about his politics than if he was a fan of Harry Potter or Fifty Shades.

But he was also a fan of Atheist Voices of Minnesota, a book most of us had never heard of but which was written b Myers, Zvan, the creepy Grag Laden, and a whole heap of FTB self-styled SJWs; and he was a fan of The Atheist Experience which is hosted at FTB. According to Ophelia Benson they shared a whole bunch of Facebook friends.

That’s not to say there’s a direct causal relationship but it does say something about his politics.

73 MosesZD February 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Chris Berg wrote:

The Chapel Hill shooting was an act of blatant terrorism. It was an Islamophobic hate crime. Don’t try and spin this any other way. There is no sugar coating it.

Instead of you bigots and racists defending a TERRORIST, mourn the loss of 3 brilliant, lovely college students who died out of ignorance, anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

Hate to tell you this, sugar, but people get killed because others snap and kill time in idiotic fits of rage all the time. Look up Pastor Maury Davis sometime. Killed a woman when he was 18 because paint got spilled on his new cowboy boots. No terrorism involved.

In Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, at the end of last year, a Canadian man killed 9 — 4 women, 2 men, a boy and a girl, as well as himself. It was senseless.

A few weeks before two NYPD were gunned down in the car. No reason for it. Just a senseless murder.

Here’s another — at the beginning of the year a man was murdered over a CELL PHONE CHARGER dispute. Senseless. Just completely senseless.

74 MosesZD February 14, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Gary S. February 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Wow! This blog looks like the slymepit’s home away from home! LOL

If you mean by actual discussion with opposing view points is allowed, I guess so… But then that’d be most of the Internet then.

Now if you’re looking for an information silo with ‘right-think’ and kaffka-trapping, I’d suggest the FTB blogs where, except in rare occasions with the outlier blogs, dissent and the free flow of ideas is prohibited.

Though you are, of course, allowed to dehumanize ‘the other.’ Like you just did here… And do that without one iota of self-awareness.

75 Aneris ✻ February 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Also, words like “mental illness” or similar terms ars stand-ins that actually haven’t any explanatory power. It moves the “don’t know” explanation one step away and finds that the next chain of causes must be some unusual state of mind. We do that to make sense of the senseless, give it some name and thereby having a sense of control. It’s the torchlight of the mind to give things names and make them “known” thus visible and then manipulable. You can, in theory, then do something about them. A long history of magical belief spun around this idea, of naming or not naming things (and that’s part of the explanation why “God” is nameless in judeo-christianity, even if his secret name Yahweh no longer makes anyone quiver in their boots, another famous example is the fairytale of the Rumpelstiltskin).

76 Patrick February 14, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Aneris @67,

Deepak Shetty wrote: is dehumanisation or not?

That is easy. Sam Harris discusses airport security. Please take a moment and let this information sink into your brain. Airport security. I think he is wrong, and won’t discuss why (beware the troll) nonetheless “dehumanizing” is not a reasonable critique. There is nothing dehumanizing to focus limited security resources on more probable candidates. And isn’t this the use of statistics and identity categories common in the FreethoughtBlogs and SkepChicks faction? 10% of poisoned M & Ms and therefore Schrödinger’s Rapist and the likes? Shouldn’t white people, or men, or some other group treated differently based on some superficial criterion? Aren’t you such racists and sexists? I got this very strong impression.

At the risk of derailing the discussion further, here is a link to Harris and security expert Bruce Schneier debating the efficacy of Harris’ proposed profiling: https://www.schneier.com/essays/archives/2012/05/to_profile_or_not_to.html

I await Deepak Shetty’s contortions as he attempts to label Harris’ words dehumanizing without subjecting Myers’ statements to the same judgement with bated breath.

77 Patrick February 14, 2015 at 2:22 pm

MosesZD @74,

Wow! This blog looks like the slymepit’s home away from home! LOL

If you mean by actual discussion with opposing view points is allowed, I guess so… But then that’d be most of the Internet then.

Now if you’re looking for an information silo with ‘right-think’ and kaffka-trapping, I’d suggest the FTB blogs where, except in rare occasions with the outlier blogs, dissent and the free flow of ideas is prohibited.

Cue “freeze peach” non-sequitur in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . .

78 FishCakes February 14, 2015 at 5:23 pm

There is a legitimate debate and argument to be had as to practical matters such as whether various types of profiling are effective, and how to best apply limited security resources, etc. I do agree that it can be implemented in ways that result in more harm than good, and I do agree that certain types of profiling are more effective than others. But I don’t see any reason to buy into Deepak’s contention that it’s dehumanizing (and unfortunately Deepak makes no attempt to support this contention) and I don’t see any reason to reject profiling as being wrong in principle.

If we have historical data as to where the biggest threats lie, but we deliberately choose not to act on that data so as to avoid dehumanizing people (in the eyes of people like Deepak), then we put everyone else at greater risk in the process. Increased risk translates, in the long run, into more death and destruction.

So, I wonder if Deepak is up to making a case that his or her personal view of profiling as dehumanizing should be prioritized over the relative safety and security of everyone else? What bad outcomes does airport security profiling lead to that would be worse, in comparison to more people dying as a result of terrorist attacks, for example?

Make a convincing case, Deepak, and I’d happily change my view on this topic.

79 Patrick February 14, 2015 at 5:48 pm

For some thoughts on the TSA and US airport security in general from someone experienced with the Israeli approach, this is a fun article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-reasons-tsa-sucks-a-security-experts-perspective/

Basically, the TSA is nothing but annoying security theater.

80 Shatterface February 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm

Hey, Deepak – imagine, hypothetically, there has been a shooting in Copenhagen. It was at an event promoting freedom of expression and there was an artist in attendance famous for provocative work including satirising Mohammed.

It could happen.

Now the shooters are still free – where are you going to concentrate your resources?

Kicking down the doors of the local mosque? Dragging Quakers out of their meeting houses?

Purely hypofuckingthetical of course.

81 Shermertron February 14, 2015 at 11:15 pm

I feel bad for Deepak. It’s simply not fair to apply the logic and reasoning employed by FTB/Skepchick to the statements of FTB/Skepchick.

82 Shatterface February 15, 2015 at 12:40 am

Sky News is reporting one person has been shot in the head near a synagogue in Copenhagen.

Worked out who’s really being racially profiled yet Deepak?

83 Iamcuriousblue February 15, 2015 at 2:30 am

Thanks for this, Michael! I’ve seen some extracts already from his FB page, but your analysis goes far more into depth. What I’ve noticed is that his FB page actually tells us nearly nothing about his motivations for killing, other than the pro-gun and Americanist stuff. He had a number of contradictory beliefs, as do many people, but generally speaking, his anti-theism seems to have been part of a generally benign, liberal humanist sort.

Reading reports of his *actions* and dealings with other people reveal a very different, not-so-nice kind of person, and one who did not remotely live up to the humanist ideals he espoused publicly. Basically, those people who are trying to discern his motivations via his Facebook page are entirely chasing the wrong lead, or are, way too often, simply looking for something that they can hang their previous prejudices on, particularly atheism or New Atheism.

I find no small irony in the fact that he was a fan of Southern Poverty Law Center, a group the “social justice” types have positively weaponized into a cudgel against groups and positions they don’t like.

It should be also noted that there’s a parallel thing happening on the other side of the fence – Muslim-hating types on the far right have been pouring over the Twitter feeds of the victims and their relatives for anything they can use to paint these three as stealth Islamists. About the worst they’ve been able to come up with is that Deah Barakat was a member of the Muslim Student Alliance (which has some problematic connections and positions) and that he had a soft spot for some of the anti-American and anti-Israel conspiracy theories popular in the Muslim world. But nothing that adds up to stealth Islamist or terrorist in the making, though some are trying to spin it that way.

84 Bill February 15, 2015 at 4:37 am

Mike. This shooting may have had nothing to do with religion but rather over an ongoing parking dispute that finally got out of control. There are violent people out there with this guy’s beliefs (think of PETA firebombing labs). These murders may have been normal homicides by an ordinarily violent person who happens to not have a criminal record. Bill Cosby was thought of as a very peaceful person until the rape allegations and I’m pretty sure there are some things about this guy his Facebook page doesn’t show.
That said. This could be one of those extremely rare instances were a previously noncriminal man has carried out murders. But most murderers here in the US have a long rap sheet of violence by the time they kill someone. This is an extremely rare event. Self identifying atheists make up about 2% of our population (last time I checked). That is 6 million of us. The idea that not one of use would commit murder is ridiculous given that 1 in about 1200 men in the US will commit murder at some point in their lives. Treat this as a non event. The idea that atheists would be squeaky clean is crazy and there has to be a violent atheist somewhere. The news media here in the US focuses on the exceptionally rare as being news worthy like mass shootings when our actual gun problem is more poverty related and we could benefit by reducing ghettoized poverty. Most things that make national headlines in the US are rare enough that the average person does not have to worry about them. This is not an everyday homicide and the discussions and the blame game is nonsense. This is every bit like feminists talking about the very rare stranger rape that happens in a dark alley when the more common problem is with sex offenders known to victims.
The atheist community needs to put this in perspective. Anybody with any ideology can be violent. But this is a very rare murder even in the United States.

85 JetLagg February 15, 2015 at 4:50 am

JackSkeptic@59
I think you are under the illusion that people always argue in an attempt to find out what is true…

Deepak attempted to get Myers to engage with Nugent, and he’s had the tenacity to stick around here, despite getting dogpiled. He’s also been incredibly disingenuous more than once, but that’s still a better track record than most who come here defending Myers. Call me an optimist.

Deepak@61
Before we continue – Do you agree or disagree
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in-defense-of-profiling
We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.
is dehumanisation or not?

Jesus fucking christ, man. Can you ever just stay on point? You said something very specific. Nugent responded to it in a precise way that clearly refuted what you were saying. Can you respond to that with resorting to a red herring? We’re supposed to be skeptics. I shouldn’t have to, or reasonably be able to, point out a fallacy in literally every single post you make.

86 JetLagg February 15, 2015 at 5:02 am

patrick@79

For some thoughts on the TSA and US airport security in general from someone experienced with the Israeli approach, this is a fun article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-reasons-tsa-sucks-a-security-experts-perspective/

Sam Harris debated security expert Bruce Schneier and seemed to reach a similar conclusion. It’s probably relevant here, given Deepak’s obessesion with Harris’s alleged commitment to racial profiling.

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/to-profile-or-not-to-profile

87 MacGruberKnows February 15, 2015 at 6:35 am

Instead of negative words ‘causing’ fringe nutter people to do negative actions, maybe it is people doing negative actions ‘causing’ fringe nutter people to do negative actions. Maybe it is the actions of Islamicists performing hateful barbaric atrocities that is the incitement to hatred. But that would be blaming people of a non-white skin color, and in the skin-color bound world of the SJW simpletons, that is a no-go zone.

And notice how PZ and his pukes are going on about how atheism has failed because we haven’t all gone over to their crazy brand of ‘atheism’ (hatred of white men and white culture). over this one incident. Do you think these pukes will say the same about Islam failing because of the incredibly violent and atrocious atrocities that happen on an almost daily basis – how many school children killed in one atrocity? Thousands of these atrocities along with thousand of lives butchered, but no, nothing wrong with Islam. One incident involving a lunatic over a parking space, and Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are murderers.

BTW, a sign of extremism are people using the bodies of a dead person as a soap box to further their own ends. Well done PZ , RW, OB, et-al.

88 BillyJoe February 15, 2015 at 11:09 am

Where did PZ comment on this? There seems to be nothing on his blog.

89 Carrie February 15, 2015 at 11:33 am

BillyJoe,
_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/02/11/beliefs-have-consequences/
_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/02/11/own-it/

90 Shatterface February 15, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Saudi Arabia has denounced the ‘terrorist’ murders in Chapel Hill.

I’m sure they’ll get around to Charlie Hebdo and Copenhagen eventually.

91 Jan Steen February 15, 2015 at 7:28 pm

@Shatterface,

In fact, Saudi Arabia did denounce the Charlie Hebdo attack:

Saudi Arabia called it a “cowardly terrorist attack that was rejected by the true Islamic religion”.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/07/charlie-hebdo-killings-arab-states-jihadi-extremist-sympathisers-isis

92 Jan Steen February 16, 2015 at 7:32 am

The Guardian claims that the man’s Facebook page contained “violent threats against all organised religion”. A complete fabrication. Even so-called quality newspapers nowadays feel free to make things up. You really can’t trust anything you read in any newspaper anymore. Journalism has become a hunt for click bait and hype.

Also note that “The FBI remains reluctant to confirm whether or not it is investigating a hate crime. Surely, the point is that every American Muslim believes that it was.”

Unbelievable. It doesn’t matter what is true; what people believe to be true is what matters most.

The killing of the three Muslim students by a gunman whose Facebook page contained violent threats against all organised religion, including Islam, was initially described by local police as a dispute over a parking place. The FBI remains reluctant to confirm whether or not it is investigating a hate crime. Surely, the point is that every American Muslim believes that it was. And that we must all relearn an old lesson: that only eternal vigilance can protect all our freedoms.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/15/guardian-view-week-of-terror-threat-freedom-north-carolina-copenhagen

93 JackSkeptic February 16, 2015 at 7:46 am

Adam Lee’s hit piece should be a bundle of laughs.

Anyway, The Guardian gets their sources from the same place Myers does. All main stream newspapers lost their credibility years ago when they were forced to compete with click bait. It was predicted at the time so no surprise.

94 Jan Steen February 16, 2015 at 1:02 pm

@JackSkpetic,

Anyway, The Guardian gets their sources from the same place Myers does.

You mean they pull them out of their posterior end?

I suppose we could call it postmodern journalism. Actual facts and people’s perception of the facts are equally valid. I wouldn’t be surprised if journalists these days are taught that facts don’t even exist.

95 Jan Steen February 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Ophelia Benson also dismisses the Guardian editorial, but in a curious way:

Violent threats against all organised religion? I don’t think so. I looked at his Facebook page too, and it did make me very uneasy, it was full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric, but violent threats? I don’t think so.

Typical gnu atheist mockery made her very uneasy? What the fuck? Should religion be treated with kid gloves again? Should it be…respected?

The silly vendetta of the SJWs against Richard Dawkins is becoming more and more preposterous. This sudden objection against “gnu atheist mockery” is clearly motivated by the fact that Dawkins is the archetypical gnu atheist. The same FTB people who used to make fun of the notion that there could be such a thing as a “militant atheist” are now tarring Dawkins, and New Atheists in general, with a similar brush that they stole from the religious. Fifth columnists like Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers are traitors to the cause of atheism.

96 Aratina Cage February 16, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Typical gnu atheist mockery made her very uneasy? What the fuck? Should religion be treated with kid gloves again? Should it be…respected?

Jan Steen @95 wrote that. It really ought to stop–this misunderstanding of people you dislike and then running with it. How do you know she meant that religion should be treated with kid gloves? You’re simply making up stuff from a position of ignorance.

97 Aratina Cage February 16, 2015 at 6:03 pm

That is, Jan Steen, how do you know that she wasn’t saying that it made her uneasy seeing that a serial murderer has a page full of the same kind of silly, damning, and even shocking religious critiques that many of us gnu atheists have given? That everyone had more or less considered him one of us? Or maybe his advocacy for the freedom to pack a loaded firearm was what made her queasy. You just don’t know what it was, so you should get clarification on that before concluding that your own prejudicial interpretation is the correct one.

98 Patrick February 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Aratina Cage @96,

Speaking of positions of ignorance, I look forward to you replying to the responses to your dishonest apologetics for Myers on a previous thread here.

PZ Myers owes Michael Nugent a retraction and an apology for the defamatory smears Myers made.

99 Shermertron February 16, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Aratina 96/97

Perhaps the problem could be solved if Ophelia’s blog posts featured more than 20% of original content. (I’ve run the numbers a few times.)

Benson’s positions are indeed hard to nail down, particularly when all she does is copy all but two sentences from an AP article and add:

“Quite.”

or

“Hmm…”

100 Billie from Ockham February 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

The reason that Jan knew that Ophelia Benson was made “uneasy” by the “gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric” on Hicks’ FB page is because that is what Ophelia Benson wrote, which Jan even quoted for all of us here.

My guess is that the reason that Jan did not speculate or infer that Ophelia Benson was saying that it was serial murder than made her uneasy is because that is not what Ophelia Benson wrote. Nor did Ophelia Benson force readers to guess about why she was made uneasy, as she told the reader why (see first paragraph above).

101 A Bear February 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Ratty: How do you know that Jan Steen meant what he wrote when he wrote it? Shouldn’t you give him the same pass you give to PZ and you just gave to Benson and assume he meant something entirely different than what he actually wrote?
In fact, he wasn’t even making a statement, but asking questions. When one ends a sentence with a question mark as Jan did you are not actually making a statement. He is actually asking whether Benson’s words should be taken at face value.
Just a little nitpick, Hicks isn’t accused of being a serial murderer. He is a one off, multiple murderer . Words do have meanings you know and you shouldn’t expect the reader to to suppose you didn’t mean what you wrote and should charitably guess at what you mean.

102 Lancelot Gobbo February 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Lewis Carroll wrote:
“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

It might just be that Ratty has swallowed the whole post-modernist schtick about dictionaries being completely useless at telling us what words might mean. But those who wish to hold a conversation need a common language. I find it hard to reconcile those two positions, but I’m sure some words can be re-defined to make it all obvious.

103 Jan Steen February 16, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Yes, Aratina Cage, it is possible that Ophelia Benson is such a lousy writer that her words could be taken in the way you assume she meant them. Just like her “privileged coffee sippers” on an earlier occasion were supposed to reflect the thoughts of the terrorist. Just like PZ Myers’s haven for rapists is not a haven for rapists, according to some of his apologists.

But read Benson’s paragraph again:

Violent threats against all organised religion? I don’t think so. I looked at his Facebook page too, and it did make me very uneasy, it was full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric, but violent threats? I don’t think so.

Is there any hint here that she felt uneasy because the murderer used the kind of language that those on her side would use? To me the wording “it was full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric”, especially the “similar rhetoric” bit, makes it sound as if the mockery and rhetoric made her feel uneasy. If that is not what she meant then she should stop writing, because she sucks at it.

Besides, having seen that ‘new atheist’ lately has a distinctly negative connotation on Pharyngula, it was not at all unexpected to see Ophelia Benson also ranting against gnu/new atheists.

Maybe you can ask her to clarify. I am not going to comment on her site as I don’t want to be doxxed or end up in permanent moderation.

104 Gerhard February 16, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Aratina

Jan Steen @95 wrote that. It really ought to stop–this misunderstanding of people you dislike and then running with it. How do you know she meant that religion should be treated with kid gloves? You’re simply making up stuff from a position of ignorance.

I don’t take comments like this seriously from people who ignore their buddies examining the likes of Richard Dawkins for anything that could possibly be twisted into proof of an ism of some kind and then making ludicrous accusations. The list of Michael Nugent’s sins in FTB comment threads is nothing if not hyperbolic. Aratina, your admonishment is breathtaking coming from someone who supports a man who slapped all manner of unjustified labels on people over even minor disagreements and has been calling for divisions in atheism on that basis. He presided like a shepherd over a commentariat routinely filtering the words of people they disagreed with to come out with interpretations that bore no relation at all to what they said. The likes of you have made a habit of trying to doxx and shut down social media accounts of people thus marked as unclean. Find a mirror.

TBH, there is a slight chance that Benson’s unease may have been down to identifying herself as a Gnu. She does have form when it comes to expressing her thoughts unclearly.

105 MosesZD February 16, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Ariatna @96 & 97.

Here, see this part, Ophiela wrote it:

Violent threats against all organised religion? I don’t think so. I looked at his Facebook page too, and it did make me very uneasy, it was full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric, but violent threats? I don’t think so.

I highlighted it in bold. Maybe you’ll ‘get it’ this time. Though I have my doubts since you’re, by your own words here, and at other places, amoral and feel that morality is determined and defined by ‘which team’ you’re on….

Which is to say: it’s okay when we do it… Career destroying, doxxing, trolling, character assassination, distorting, etc. over, frequently, trivial differences in opinions and points-of-view. Yet those over-the-top responses and actions are all ‘justifiable tools’ in your world-view.

Or as Machiavelli put it: ‘the end justifies the means,’ at least in your world.

Even worse, even as you act in your ends/means way, you fail to live up to Machiavelli as your ends are not moral or just. Which is, when you understand your Machiavelli, what he was getting at; that is, it’s okay to do ‘bad things’ if you get a ‘good result.’ But your results are not good, rather they’re a petty tyranny and oppression whereby you seek to crush all who do not share your tyrannical and dysfunctional world-view.

106 Marston February 17, 2015 at 1:36 am

“on his Facebook page, he has liked a link to the North Carolina Code, General Statutes § 20-174, prohibiting crossing at other than crosswalks and walking along highways. He has liked a Community Page called “If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!” In January he wrote that he had called the police when he saw a couple having sex in their vehicle in his parking lot.”

This is the telling point for me. I think this guy was not a control freak (he had no control) but an order freak. The law, the constitution, all set out ways to behave for everyone, regardless of race, religion etc. I think he had a “broken windows” approach – he didn’t try to take on big entities but got angry at small people within his circle of acquaintances who transgressed the way that he perceived the rules. He felt this more personally. It could explain some of his apparently contradictory opinions and explain how a small dispute over parking could escalate.

107 Aneris ✻ February 17, 2015 at 1:48 am

Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers et al who tried to put Craig Hicks into Richard Dawkins camp have a serious problem.

Mr Hicks is a genuine “Atheism Plus” person exactly as it was advertised. He isn’t just a “Dictionary Atheist” but clearly promoted other social justice causes as well, as documented on his Facebook page. Before you protest, see what the serious problem is – it’s not what you think.

Let’s get this out of the way: I don’t believe in the blame, as written in the comments above. I am in no way implying in any way that he did it because of Atheism Plus (or social justice warrior atheism), or because of the people who also promote Atheism Plus. Not at all.

The serious problem is somewhere else. Let’s go with the assertion that Craig Hicks was just like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others and therefore they are somehow to blame. I don’t believe it, but Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and more of that faction do or imply this.

Alright, let’s “steelman” their position and see what happens when you go with it:

1) Richard Dawkins is also technically an Atheism Plus person, actually. The animosities between the social justice faction and him are not fuelled by substantive disagreement on such matters as equality and similar social justice concerns, but are about something else. Well, obviously, but Official Freethought™ claims otherwise.

2) Craig Hicks only seemingly looks like an Atheism Plus person when you go through the list of official tenets but is actually no true Scotsman for some other reason that is currently unknown. And because of that he is not connected to the Atheism Plus side, but must be seen in the Dawkins camp. However, then we learn that Atheism Plus (or social justice atheism) operates with two different sets of tenets: one official one, which is agreeable or nobody even challenges (e.g. treat women as people, equality) and an unofficial one, which is not agreeable and highly controversial (e.g. sex/gender are social constructs). This is also known as Baily-And-Motte doctrine. Again, that is obvious. Everyone who interacted with this side knows this, yet Official Freethought™ claims otherwise.

3) There is a third possibility that should be considered given the intellectual level at FreethoughtBlogs and SkepChicks: Craig Hicks does not really believe in what he put on his Facebook page. The Patriarchy made him do it, the devil hid the fossils argument for secularists.

Other than that, Craig Hicks knows about the obscure Minnesotan atheists (Ms Zvan, Mr Laden, PZ Myers) and read them. As we’ve seen he is also in their atheism-plus camp according to official definitions. And like many Americans, he enjoys shooting, as we can tell from the image with his spouse on the range. All of that works well for Stephanie Zvan, too, who wrote she does “enjoy target shooting” but is no gun nut, and Craig Hicks probably isn’t, either. Zvan’s husband posted his results on his Flickr.

Once more, I don’t believe she has anything to do with this. It annoys me to no end however, how these people implicate other atheists who don’t even share the same gun-friendly culture. That is, if – and that’s a big if – if we administered the same medicine as they do all the time, it looked very badly for them.

And here comes the problem, nothing “reasonable” seems to work with these people. It is just unfair how they will get away with this latest (serious) allegations again, as they seemingly always do. I hope that the time comes, maybe in a few years, when the bill will be brought to their table and they have to pay for it. I hope people are around and will not have forgotten this and all the other episodes.

Sources……………………………………………………
__http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2014/09/motte-and-bailey-doctrines/
_ https://archive.today/mnpuv
_flickr.com/photos/ben-zvan-photography/4398539180/

108 Aratina Cage February 17, 2015 at 3:14 am

@Jan Steen, you say in #103:

Yes, Aratina Cage, it is possible that Ophelia Benson is such a lousy writer that her words could be taken in the way you assume she meant them.

It isn’t necessarily true that because you injected your prejudices into what she wrote that she is a lousy writer. Perhaps she wasn’t writing for an audience of people who think like you but instead for those who wouldn’t automatically assume she meant that religion ought to be treated with kid gloves or respected.

If that is not what she meant then she should stop writing, because she sucks at it.

Well, that’s how I feel about everything you write, so you might want to take your own medicine.

109 MacGruberKnows February 17, 2015 at 6:05 am

‘It might just be that Ratty has swallowed the whole post-modernist schtick about dictionaries being completely useless at telling us what words might mean.’

the sons and daughters of Goebbels simply wish to impose their fictionary on the rest of us. The SJW Newspeak fictionary.

110 Skep tickle February 17, 2015 at 6:47 am

This may help serve as clarification on Ms Benson’s comments on her reaction to Hicks’ Facebook page: https://archive.today/UPfYT
(if it seems to be cut off on one side, scroll to that side)

Blogpost by Benson: “But some experts see”

Tom Gjelten at NPR did a typically NPR passive-aggressive story on “extreme” atheists and Craig Hicks and yadda yadda. I’ve been doing the same sort of thing ever since last Wednesday, but…I think without the passive-aggressive aspects. That’s been my intention at least. I’m up front about it – Craig Hicks freaks me out because we had friends in common, because his Facebook wall looks exactly like the walls of countless other bro atheists, because I don’t know but I fear his anti-theism – which I share – may have had something to do with the three murders he apparently confessed to. I don’t like the idea, and that’s exactly why I’ve been poking at it so hard. …

111 Jan Steen February 17, 2015 at 6:50 am

@Aratina Cage,

If that is not what she meant then she should stop writing, because she sucks at it.

Well, that’s how I feel about everything you write, so you might want to take your own medicine.

Show me where I have written as unclearly as Ophelia Benson and I might consider following your advice.

112 Jan Steen February 17, 2015 at 7:02 am

@ Skep tickle,

Ophelia B. writes:

his Facebook wall looks exactly like the walls of countless other bro atheists

Bro atheists?Are bro atheists bad? Are they the same as gnu atheists? Is this a negative characterisation of his Facebook wall?

The whole paragraph is a complete mess. It proves that Ophelia is a horrible, muddled writer. She needs apologists like Aratine Cage to explain what she means.

113 Jan Steen February 17, 2015 at 7:21 am

Consider also the following exchange in the comments on Benson’s piece on the Guardian editorial:

Katherine Woo says

February 15, 2015 at 4:43 pm

“full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric”

You are acting just like the Guardian when you say things like that. Hicks was a vocal supporter of abortion rights, LGBT equality, religious freedom, and supported liberal social NGOs like the SPLC. He even…wait for it…spoke out against rape along the lines of rape culture theory.

To reduce him to his snarky attitude about religion is your profoundly misguided war on non-theists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins who reject your specific brand of feminist politics (which I do to as a liberal feminist). In fact Hicks is so orthodox in his ‘progressive’ views, he could readily pass for the A+ if you ignored the deal breaker of gun ownership. Deal with it.

To which Ophelia B. replies:

Ophelia Benson says

February 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Katherine, do stop with the attempted mind-reading. It’s very irritating. That’s not what I was saying at all – what I said had nothing to do with Dawkins and Harris. I wasn’t saying Hicks wasn’t interested in other things too, I was saying he wasn’t making violent threats. You seem to have completely misread what I wrote, and then gone from that to Lecture From On High #7 million.

Note that she says what she is not saying, but doesn’t elucidate what she was saying. She has still not explained why something being “full of very typical gnu atheist mockery and similar rhetoric” made her very uneasy.

Ophelia should learn how to express herself clearly. For now I give her a C-. An A+ will be permanently out of reach, but a B should be possible with some effort.

114 Billie from Ockham February 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Anyone else amused that one must be invited to read Aratina Cage’s blog where he, himself, links “gnu atheists” with the people that he denies that Ophelia Benson was talking about (and, therefore, blaming)?

If Aratina Cage uses words to mean the near-opposite of most other people, including – according to him – Ophelia Benson, then Aratina Cage should appoint himself interpreter of Ophelia Benson (or anyone else).

115 Billie from Ockham February 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Ack. Edit button! “should NOT appoint himself”

116 Deepak Shetty February 17, 2015 at 4:23 pm

@Shatterface
Now the shooters are still free – where are you going to concentrate your resources?

Kicking down the doors of the local mosque? Dragging Quakers out of their meeting houses?
You sure seem to forget about “innocent till proven guilty” when it suits your purposes , hmm?
When someone says the public can know about accusations , there is a lot of noise about this principle – but when Harris talks of wanting actual government agencies to have a heightened sense of scrutiny(what do you think this works out to , in practice?) to an entire set of people solely based on a belief they had – well that’s just fine.

117 Billie from Ockham February 17, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Are you really incapable of seeing a difference between LEO actions intended to protect the innocent from a current threat and subsequent conviction in a court of law?

118 Gerhard February 17, 2015 at 6:40 pm

@Deepak “Thrashing Around for an Argument” Shetty

but when Harris talks of wanting actual government agencies to have a heightened sense of scrutiny(what do you think this works out to , in practice?) to an entire set of people solely based on a belief they had – well that’s just fine.

That belief is based on texts which state forthrightly that it is the duty of believers to kill apostates and kill or enslave unbelievers. Coupled with the fact of Islamist terror attacks it is the duty of enforcement agencies to pay particular attention to individuals fitting the profile of the base demographic. Note, agencies are not blogging random Islamic dude’s names to the world and claiming that a little birdy told them Abdul is making bombs in his basement, but they haven’t investigated and it’s too late anyway. PZ Myers is not a law enforcement agency. The FBI and police are. Weasely “Guantanamo Rules” notwithstanding, LE agencies must test their cases in the courts and they don’t get to just declare someone guilty.

Try harder. Actually, stop trying so hard and maybe just think through these false equivalences you keep coming up with before sharing them.

119 Aratina Cage February 17, 2015 at 8:08 pm

@Jan Steen #111

Show me where I have written as unclearly as Ophelia Benson and I might consider following your advice.

😉 Your advice, you mean. Nah, don’t. Don’t let one person’s (dare I say “hater’s”) opinion of you influence you one bit.

Note that she says what she is not saying, but doesn’t elucidate what she was saying.

There is a related post that follows on B&W about a comic, and it seems to me that it shows she thinks the rhetoric itself needs to be more carefully put to ensure it isn’t in some way dehumanizing or demonizing Muslims to the point that it could lead to a trivial anger problem triggering a murderous hate crime against Muslims (as many have pointed out, if only a parking dispute, why did he seek out the whole family in their house to murder). So maybe that is more what she meant–that the rhetoric itself is making her uneasy because it might actually be a factor.

I just noticed, too, Skeptickle’s comment #110, which I think reflects the same reasoning.

And then, Jan, you wrote at #112:

She needs apologists like Aratina Cage to explain what she means.

That isn’t what I am. It just so happened that I had just read that post of hers at B&W and then happened to read Michael Nugent’s latest post here immediately afterward and breezed through the comments to find yours castigating her at the end! I was asking you to be more charitable to her and open to learning more about what she meant instead of going off on her about something that she probably didn’t even mean to convey. Treating religions with kid gloves just doesn’t seem like something the woman who co-wrote “Does God Hate Women?” and who disapproves of the neologism “Islamophobia” would go for.

120 Aratina Cage February 17, 2015 at 9:08 pm

@MosesZD #105

I highlighted it in bold. Maybe you’ll ‘get it’ this time. Though I have my doubts since you’re, by your own words here, and at other places, amoral and feel that morality is determined and defined by ‘which team’ you’re on….

Which is to say: it’s okay when we do it… Career destroying, doxxing, trolling, character assassination, distorting, etc. over, frequently, trivial differences in opinions and points-of-view. Yet those over-the-top responses and actions are all ‘justifiable tools’ in your world-view.

I’m happy to be seen as amoral if it simply means “not always taking your side”, Moses. Anyway, career destroying, releasing people’s private information or republishing/spreading humiliating information, trolling people, assassinating people’s characters, distorting their words, etc., are not at all OK with me in most cases. I do notice, though, that it is easy for atheists to point the finger at others while doing the same things themselves: take the slymepit for instance, which seems to me to almost be dedicated to all of that against a certain few atheists.

when you understand your Machiavelli, what he was getting at; that is, it’s okay to do ‘bad things’ if you get a ‘good result.’

I think I was rather channeling Dawkins and trying to say (at the ‘Pit) that so-called “bad things” aren’t really all that bad in a great many cases. I don’t think we should dismiss the “zero-bad” results and act like it was the worst thing ever just because the means go against one’s strictest of morals. I think it would be beneficial to see more leniency and a desire to come to a better understanding of each other from many atheists.

your results are not good, rather they’re a petty tyranny and oppression whereby you seek to crush all who do not share your tyrannical and dysfunctional world-view.

Me or Mao? 😛

@Gerhard #104

Find a mirror.

Here is one. Let me hold that up so you can look into it.

The rest of your comment is putting this impossible responsibility onto my shoulders to police everything anyone around me says. Maybe that is what is going on–maybe you are actually trying to do that and think I should too? What I actually wanted to do is to help end what I saw as the beginning of a new misunderstanding.

@Lancelot Gobbo #102

It might just be that Ratty has swallowed the whole post-modernist schtick about dictionaries being completely useless at telling us what words might mean. But those who wish to hold a conversation need a common language. I find it hard to reconcile those two positions, but I’m sure some words can be re-defined to make it all obvious.

I find the Humpty Dumpty passage so funny since several denizens of the ‘Pit railed for months at me on that point about how I could make up definitions for slurs to take away their sting. I don’t know what to say on that any more other than that some people will never accept a word they consider a slur to be anything less than that in their lifetimes. Now, what particular word or phrase are you accusing me of changing the meaning of away from a common understanding?

@A Bear #101
Not what happened. Jan jumped on a particular interpretation that I thought was likely incorrect, and Jan seemed to be using that to castigate the writer for things that probably hadn’t even been meant.
Got it on the serial murderer definition; even though there were three people killed, the additional two murders he turned himself in for are too close in time to be considered separate events.

121 Gerhard February 17, 2015 at 9:11 pm

@Aratina:

I was asking you to be more charitable to her and open to learning more about what she meant instead of going off on her about something that she probably didn’t even mean to convey.

Did you type that in jest? Your friends at Pharyngula, B&W and the like are making a career out of going off on people about things they didn’t even convey, let alone mean to convey. In fact, the whole Rift has been engineered out of manufactured diagnoses of misogyny, racism etc. in direct contradiction to what people actually say. I take it that you are at this very moment scuttling of to ask PZ to read Michael Nugent more charitably.

The problem with Benson is that it really is difficult to grasp what she was saying in this case, even in her ‘clarification’. It’s natural to refer to her recent attacks on old, white, cis, male Gnus for meaning.

122 Billie from Ockham February 17, 2015 at 10:38 pm

It just so happened that I had just read that post of hers at B&W and then happened to read Michael Nugent’s latest post here immediately afterward and breezed through the comments to find yours castigating her at the end!

Pull the other one.

123 Jan Steen February 17, 2015 at 11:11 pm

@Aratina Cage,

So maybe that is more what she meant–that the rhetoric itself is making her uneasy because it might actually be a factor.

Which I what I and most people here thought all along. But neither you nor I can be sure that this is what she meant. Because her writing is muddled. Like many bad writers she assumes that people can read her mind (and becomes angry when they get it wrong).

I also took from her post that she dislikes the “rhetoric” and would like to see it toned down. Which I expressed by asking if she wanted to treat religion with kid gloves now. Because, really, what is there to tone down?

Unlike Benson, Watson, Myers et al., I see nothing wrong with the kind of anti-religious rhetoric and mockery that has been par for the course among atheists for years. We shouldn’t tone it down, we shouldn’t bow for emotional blackmail, because there is not a shred of evidence that it has caused this deranged person or anyone else to resort to violence.

Ironically, the only (more-or-less) well-known atheist who has used violent rhetoric is PZ Myers. And even that unpleasant language of his is extremely unlikely to have influenced our killer one bit. Neither he nor Richard Dawkins bears any responsibility for this terrible crime. Only a madman would find a justification for murder in their words. We shouldn’t censor ourselves because madmen might react in the wrong way.

I can understand family and friends of the victims blaming this tragedy on “militant atheism”. They have probably never read one word by Dawkins or Hitchens. They don’t know any better. But that people like Myers and Watson, who do know better, go down this road to score political points is nothing less than disgusting. A new low within the a/s movement.

124 Skep tickle February 18, 2015 at 3:22 am

Jan Steen @ #112:

Ophelia B. writes:

his Facebook wall looks exactly like the walls of countless other bro atheists

Bro atheists?Are bro atheists bad? Are they the same as gnu atheists? Is this a negative characterisation of his Facebook wall?

She didn’t define the term “bro atheists”, but I imagine that group might be made largely of white male atheists, perhaps largely American.

It looks (from Urban Dictionary) like “bro” is sometimes used for loud partying young adult white men, the “frat boy” type – but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that would have been an accurate description of Hicks.

I couldn’t venture to guess whether or not she’d include white male American atheists like Myers, Brayton, and Laden in the “bro atheists” group to which she refers.

125 Jan Steen February 18, 2015 at 7:23 am

@Skep tickle,

She didn’t define the term “bro atheists”, but I imagine that group might be made largely of white male atheists, perhaps largely American.

One thing is for sure: “bro atheist” is not a complimentary label.

Like SJWs in general, Ophelia Benson is not exactly a deep thinker. She believes that accusing a (white) man of being a (white) man is a devastating argument.

126 Michael Kingsford Gray February 18, 2015 at 9:11 am

I find the Free Thought Blogs’ “Social Justice” league’s racial and sexual discrimination is quite sickening.
It is solidly reminiscent of irrational anti-negro sentiment from the witch-hunt past.
“String ’em up. It’ll teach ’em a lesson!”
“That there nigger looked at a white woman in a real funny way.
We FTB white folk better teach him a lesson real quick, if ya’ll know whats I mean.”
“Niggers should damn-well cross the road when walking on the same sidewalk as a white woman!” (Billy-Bob Laden)

*Exactly* analogous.
To a “T”.

“Repugnant” is too mild an adjective.

Only, this time, it is those whose crime was accidentally to be born as ‘white males’ in the stead of those accidentally born as “them there Niggers” who are the target of their barely metaphorical lynch-mobs.
These folk sicken me to my very core.
And for good reason.

And these folks hold themselves up as arbiters of atheist morality.
I find their views and ‘morals’ to be utterly repugnant.

127 Phil Giordana FCD February 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

What MKG said.

128 John Greg February 18, 2015 at 7:55 pm

What FCD said.

129 John Morales February 19, 2015 at 5:13 am

Michael Kingsford Gray:

I find the Free Thought Blogs’ “Social Justice” league’s racial and sexual discrimination is quite sickening.
[…]
“Repugnant” is too mild an adjective.

Only, this time, it is those whose crime was accidentally to be born as ‘white males’ in the stead of those accidentally born as “them there Niggers” who are the target of their barely metaphorical lynch-mobs.
These folk sicken me to my very core.
And for good reason.

<snicker>

(Dittoheads dittoing the cargo-cult righteousness is even more amusing)

130 Billie from Ockham February 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

What JM said.

131 JetLagg February 20, 2015 at 12:47 am

I always agree with what Morales says.

132 Guestus Aurelius February 20, 2015 at 3:20 am
133 Phil Giordana FCD February 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

What Guestus said.

134 CorJamal June 10, 2015 at 8:35 am

@Jan Steen, you sound very ignorant, atheists shouldnt be ashamed anymore than Muslims, Christians, or any other theists, for the actions of minorities who identify with their label. If you seriously read his comments you’d see he’s no less a fan of Muslims than he is of Christians, in fact he straight out says he prefers Muslims because in his experience they don’t always try to convert him.

Other neighbors have commented on his angry demeanor, sounds like psychotic rage which makes him dangerous no doubt, and he was totally wrong, but he doesn’t have to be Islamaphobic just because he’s an atheist who killed Muslims, or because he follows the New Atheist, who by the way don’t condone violence against the majority of Muslims who they would call “moderate”. How is it obvious they incited him?

Also you can hate a belief without hating a person for having it, idk why this is such dificult distinction to make. I don’t agree with much of popular theistic understanding of the universe, doesn’t mean I want to kill them for it.

(Hicks in his own words: http://www.buzzfeed.com/davidmack/everything-we-know-so-far-about-the-alleged-chapel-hill-shoo#.frv8lPVnd)

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