Secular Policy Institute asks why are “shock jock” bloggers invited to lecture at major secular conferences?

by Michael Nugent on April 10, 2015

SPI logoThe Secular Policy Institute has responded to Atheist Ireland’s public dissociation from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of the atheist blogger PZ Myers.

The Institute says that the secular movement should stop rewarding those who cause discord, and it asks why are “shock jock” bloggers invited to lecture at major secular conferences?

It says that the Institute is not alone in wanting to look more professional as a movement to the outside world, as this week, SPI coalition member Atheist Ireland publicly dissociated itself from blogger PZ Myers in an open letter.

The Secular Policy Institute is a think tank to promote a secular society.

  • Its thirty fellows include Richard Dawkins, Rebecca Goldstein, Sam Harris, Taslima Nasrin and Steven Pinker.
  • It has sixty four national and international groups in its coalition, including Atheist Ireland, and over 200 local groups.
  • It is based in Washington D.C., United States, and its CEO is Edwina Rogers.

This is the article published by the Secular Policy Institute:

The secular movement has a problem, in that some of our foremost leaders get media attention by causing controversy. While this helps them draw in followers, it causes an atmosphere of infighting in the secular community that hinders us from partnering, takes our eye off the ball of important issues, and makes us look crankypants to outsiders. No wonder the stereotype of a secular person is condescending and angry.

At the Secular Policy Institute, we know that the problem comes from who we partner with, in two ways.

First, we want to positively partner with anyone who will work with us, including religious organizations. We don’t bash religion and we seek to partner with everyone. This prevents doors from closing with politicians and other big decision-makers. We even have several churches in our coalition because plenty of liberal churches support our goals of separating of church and state, and ending discrimination against nonbelievers.

Second, we also avoid partnering in some situations. We believe the secular movement should stop rewarding those who cause discord. Why are “shock jock” bloggers invited to lecture at major secular conferences? Freedom of speech is a confusing issue, but it means that each person can speak freely through his or her own channel. It does not mean that angry voices have a right to dominate unmoderated discussions on our own Facebook pages and forums. Perhaps as a community we are responsible for leading a cultural tone and guiding people towards constructive debate.

Apparently we are not alone in wanting to look more professional as a movement to the outside world. This week, SPI coalition member Atheist Ireland publicly dissociated itself from blogger PZ Myers in an open letter.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that strident internal criticism makes us stronger, or that our generosity to be inclusive to all voices is being taken advantage of? Let us know on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

(There is no indication in this article whether individual Fellows of the Institute have endorsed this statement. However, for information, the Fellows of the Institute are Amatzia Baram, Russell Blackford, Peter Boghossian, Thure Cerling, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, James Doty, Rebecca Goldstein, A. C. Grayling, Sam Harris, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Mark Juergensmeyer, Wendy Kaminer, Marty Klein, Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Law, Patrik Lindenfors, Ron Lindsay, Elizabeth Loftus, Elham Manea, Holger Mey, Taslima Nasrin, Greg Neimeyer, Steven Pinker, Carolyn Porco, Sarbagh Salih, Michael Semple, Michael Shermer, J. Anderson Thomson, and Phil Zuckerman.)

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 allison April 10, 2015 at 1:48 am

I’m delighted to see this statement from SPI, considering that they have some VERY impressive names/leaders on their roster! I do hope this will influence those who choose speakers for conferences, and persuade them to not invite the likes of Myers or Stephanie Svan or etc.

2 MadMike April 10, 2015 at 2:15 am

It appears that PZ Myers has awoken the dragon. Good job, sir.

3 Glen Davidson April 10, 2015 at 2:22 am

Myers has tweeted that such leaders are a**holes, apparently afraid that the charges won’t stick well enough to him.

Such disgusting responses have been going on long enough. No decent organization has any business having him speak at any of their doings any further, and that goes for those who have aided and abetted the calumnies and falsehoods coming from that section of the A/S community.

4 Greg P April 10, 2015 at 2:26 am

Agree. Tweet-leaders are not inherently thought-leaders. I imagine some could be cultivated as such given the right circumstances. But they do not automatically deserve the same standing as real activists who work in the public sphere to influence meaningful change. Not to mention that Myers probably does more for the Secularism as a Biology professor than as abusive blogger. At least one expects his message to reach open-minds in the classroom instead of slamming other minds closed with hate.

5 peter April 10, 2015 at 3:08 am

“Not to mention that Myers probably does more for the Secularism as a Biology professor than as abusive blogger. ”

If he tears down with his blog what he builds up at university – maybe its time for him to stop blogging.
He becomes a boil in the face of secularism and looses any utility for the movement – if it ever was one. He makes secularism look ugly and hateful.

6 Gurdur April 10, 2015 at 3:10 am

Great! And: finally.

7 Pitchguest April 10, 2015 at 3:11 am

The sleeping dragon analogy aside, I see that at least one blogger from Freethought Blogs is a fellow in The Secular Policy Institute. I wonder if PZ Myers would say the same thing about Taslima Nasrin as he does Shermer, as they’re both fellows in the same institute.

Since they’re responding to Nugent’s disassociation, I wonder if he would say the same thing about her “endorsing hate sites” and other such nonsense. I’d wager not.

8 Skep tickle April 10, 2015 at 3:40 am

Why have “‘shock jock’ bloggers” been invited to speak? I’m not sure how many people this is thought to refer to, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a mystery. There are overlaps in these entries, but here goes:
– They’ve been among the celebrities of the movement, with name-recognition & often appealing stage presence.
– They’ve been admired by and/or friends with the conference organizers, and maybe there’s been some tit-for-tat (I’ll speak at your conference, then you can speak at mine – ?).
– Their presence on the bill has brought in (or has at times brought in, or has been thought to bring in) conference attendees.

9 Brive1987 April 10, 2015 at 3:54 am

From JREFs silence it would appear that PZ still has a home for his hate rhetoric in the Bigfoot arena.

Homeopaths? I say “**** em into the ground.”

Let a thousand lights shine eh Steve? Even if some are UV and liable to produce cancers down the track.

10 Skep tickle April 10, 2015 at 7:09 am

From JREF’s silence…

Brive, it appears that Myers hasn’t been relevant to JREF for several years. They have not had him speak at TAM since 7/2011, & he hasn’t attended since then either. AFAICT there was no sign he was missed. Remember Myers’ flounce from skepticism in 5/2013, immediately after Jamy Ian Swiss’ talk on skepticism that included criticism of Myers? Myers had been the speaker immediately before Swiss at the same (non-JREF) conference and was in the audience. Swiss had been named a senior JREF fellow 3 months before. I don’t know whether Swiss’ message was from Swiss alone or reflected JREF’s views, but that probably completely severed any question of a lingering link between Myers & JREF.

That’s to fill in what seems to me to be some back story. I know that you (Brive) interacted with Sharon Hill on Twitter 1-2 days ago about Myers & JREF, and her responses included that “JREF makes no mention of atheism or PZ” with a link to the JREF “About” page: http://web.randi.org/about.html. Indeed, the focus there is “paranormal and pseudoscientific” (esp supernatural) claims, and education on critical thinking. From the bottom of the page: “Our annual conference, The Amazing Meeting (TAM), is a gathering of diverse individuals who share at least one common tenet: science works.”

JREF announced at last TAM that it plans to focus more on education, and it seems clear that after a foray into atheism for a few years it’s returning to its roots in skepticism with little concern for god beli-efs, which some skeptics feel are non-falsifiable thus out of their purview…and much less interesting than the other questions to which they turn their lenses. Myers’ focus always has been atheism, combating creationists, and evolutionary biology – even in the friendliest of times in the past a weak link with JREF.

11 Brive1987 April 10, 2015 at 7:31 am

Skep, I respectively disagree. The call is for relevant organisations to publicly support civil discourse and reject PZism.

PZ has a focus on atheism but is happy to meander through traditional skeptical topics and back again. This was the basis for his past TAM talks and current forays into science based topics. Accordingly, until his recent breakdowns, he was recognised by other non-athesistic commentators as a voice for scientific rationalism. Most notably the discourses with Steve Novella. SGU has consistently engaged with religion only when it makes testable physical claims.

Just like JREF.

Nugent has issued a clear clarion call for all current and former supporters of Myers to reject his MO, not privately, but as part of a common wave of revulsion.

Myers extends his MO to cover all enemies, religious, political, secular and skeptical. He has in fact been scathing of the big tent skepticism espoused by JREF. More so in fact than he has of many religious figures.

Need I say *Shermer* or *Radford*?

Need I explain just why he chose to avoid the alleged misogyny of TAM?

It therefore behoves JREF to join the chorus of decency and reject PZs wanton abuse of skeptical organisations and leaders.

But then maybe both of us are working to a false premise. Does JREF even exist as a tangible organisation anymore?

12 Michael Kingsford Gray April 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

My last face-to-face meeting with Ass. Prof. Myers was at the April 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. One that I proudly attended with my daughter.
(Was 2012 before PZ renounced all skepticism? Or was that in the womb?)

Before lunch on the Sunday, PZ gave what I considered to be a animalistic and inflammatory speech, that I judged to be bordering on a clear incitement to violence toward the Muslims who were legally protesting just outside in the courtyard.
He said that atheists with “wolves” who must hunt down their prey, if I recall correctly.
(I expect that his illegal and seditious rant is available on-line.)

All this, with a crowd of very angry protesting Muslims within spitting distance.
I nearly walked out on his unlawful and violent rant on several occasions, but realised that staying there and listening to further examples of his clear hate-speech would serve me better to combat PZ’s potential crime against Australian law. In fact most laws make ‘incitement to mob violence’ a serious crime.
I could not believe my ears.

We spoke to PZ on the elevator, and later at dinner, and I gently put my concerns to him. As per usual, he was as gentle as a lamb in person, and as an excuse claimed that he had pre-written the speech, was unaware of the external protests (not credible, as one could clearly see the protesting Muslims through though glass curtain windows, and the various News-crews filming the bustling heckling spectacle, whilst descending the very same elevator with him!

I have it in person that he is a craven coward in person, and a foaming-mouthed Jekyll on-line.

The various organisations who are finally deciding to disassociate from Myers have made the correct decision.

And about time too.

13 Jack Rawlinson April 10, 2015 at 8:39 am

This is good, but there is a tone in this piece that gives me just a slight tremor of concern that we must be careful not to get ourselves in a baby/bathwater situation here. The issue with Myers – the thing that has put him beyond the pale (for many of us, anyway) – is not his combative approach to religion, or his occasional insults. It is his lying, his smearing, his libelling, his wild misrepresentation of opponents and his vast hypocrisy. I would hate for this much-needed backlash against him and the worst of his fellows to get co-opted by accommodationists, and those who have long railed against the more assertive and unapologetic style of atheism. I’m not saying that is the intent here, but I feel it is something we should be careful to avoid. Robust criticism of religion – and the religious – has been an absolutely crucial element in the successes and raised profile of atheism in the last ten years or so, and we must not lose that along with the truly unjustified malice of Myers and his ilk.

14 Nialler April 10, 2015 at 8:40 am

Wow.

I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical about AI’s statement this week, but this totally validates it and puts AI in the role of leading the debate. Bravo to AI.

It also vindicates MN (not that that was ever necessary).

The curmudgeon in me still thinks it is all a bit late and that some major asshats have been tolerated as voices for atheism for far too long, but that’s a minor aside.

Well done to all involved.

15 Lancelot Gobbo April 10, 2015 at 11:03 am

Mike, although David Malki invented the annoying sealion of cartoon fame, you might like to look at his current cartoon:

http://wondermark.com/c1115/

16 tina April 10, 2015 at 11:06 am

Thought leader? What a totally ridiculous phrase….(ymmv)

17 tina April 10, 2015 at 11:20 am
18 Shatterface April 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

From the guy who brought us the Sealion cartoon and relevant to the current discussion:

http://wondermark.com/c1115/

I wonder who he can be thinking of?

19 Shatterface April 10, 2015 at 11:35 am

Beaten by Lancelot.

20 Shatterface April 10, 2015 at 11:39 am

The issue with Myers – the thing that has put him beyond the pale (for many of us, anyway) – is not his combative approach to religion, or his occasional insults. It is his untruths, his smearing, his libelling, his wild misrepresentation of opponents and his vast hypocrisy

And the word games. Seriously, those piss me off more than anything.

We can’t even begin a debate if words and sentences don’t mean what they are commonly taken to mean.

21 Kirbmarc April 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm

“The issue with Myers – the thing that has put him beyond the pale (for many of us, anyway) – is not his combative approach to religion, or his occasional insults. It is his untruths, his smearing, his libelling, his wild misrepresentation of opponents and his vast hypocrisy.”

This is true, but I also think that a combative approach to the harm done by religion doesn’t have to be full of inflammatory language, uncharitable interpretations of other people’s words and gratuitous insults and violent rhetoric to people who believe in things we dislike or commit mistakes but later apologize (i.e. Gelato Guy and “fuck him into ground”).

Micheal Nugent’s style of polite combativeness (judo rhetoric?) is, IMHO, much more effective in persuading others and outlining the harm caused by religion than Myers’ histrionics.

@Micheal Kingsford Gray:

“PZ gave what I considered to be a animalistic and inflammatory speech, that I judged to be bordering on a clear incitement to violence toward the Muslims who were legally protesting just outside in the courtyard.”

Do you happen to have a link to that speech? It’s especially ironic since these days Myers is rather accommodating towards Islam and Muslims in general, to the point that he has condemned Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons as racist.

22 Jeff Rankin April 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm

I appreciate the article by the SPI but really? Crankypants? It’s a serious subject, maybe use more mature language.

I know, I’m being all grumpyshirt.

23 Jeff Rankin April 10, 2015 at 3:04 pm

“However, for information, the Fellows of the Institute are…”

It’s amazing, and sad, how many people in this have been demonized.

24 Shatterface April 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

It’s amazing, and sad, how many people in this have been demonized.

Not surprising though: you don’t get attention destroying the reputation of people nobody has ever heard of.

Myers is like Herostratus, the arsonist who burned down the Temple of Artemis just for attention.

25 Glen Davidson April 10, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Chickens got to roost.

So they’re coming home, little Paul.

26 Billie from Ockham April 10, 2015 at 4:01 pm

“Myers is like Herostratus, the arsonist who burned down the Temple of Artemis just for attention.”

May I suggest the alternative spelling, Erostratus, to avoid feeding P Z Myers’ martyr complex too much.

27 Glen Davidson April 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Myers is like Herostratus, the arsonist who burned down the Temple of Artemis just for attention.

Both critics, persecuted for their trenchant responses to deep injustices.

If you can swallow that, swallow this camel next.

28 Iamcuriousblue April 10, 2015 at 10:09 pm

So the obfuscation begins:

https://web.archive.org/web/20150410214823/http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/10/the-background-of-atheist-irelands-breakup-with-pz-its-about-michael-shermer/

Apparently, the whole issue is really about Michael Shermer, and Michael Nugent is simply doing Shermer’s dirty work.

All this in keeping with classic PZ Myers misdirection, claiming that those critical of his creepy cult of personality are merely agents of the cult of Dawkins, Shermer, and Harris.

29 Michael Kingsford Gray April 10, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Kirbmarc wrote:
“Do you happen to have a link to that speech? It’s especially ironic since these days Myers is rather accommodating towards Islam and Muslims in general, to the point that he has condemned Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons as racist.”

The actual speech made references to the Christians outside as “sheep”, and the audience as “hunters”. (Christian protesters were very thin on the ground. I guess he did not have the guts to say the following about the hundred or so angry Muslims right outside, but he DID say this about the Christians! Pussy.)

“You are not sheep! [Ed: but Christians are sheep] You are a fierce coordinated hunting pack, men & women working together, and those other bastards have cause to fear us!” – P.Z. Myers 2012

If that is not a clear incitement to the 4,000 audience-members to hunt Christians, and do mischief to them, I don’t know what is.
Some naturally took it to be a not so subtle incitement to “hunt” the Muslim protesters.

I was truly surprised that Myers was not arrested later for inciting mob violence.

The video may be available on Youtube. Try the ID of 2-CJojL4ZfA
At around the 40 minute mark.

30 Glen Davidson April 10, 2015 at 11:49 pm

PZ at the start of A+:

The audience erupted into applause before I even said anything! I really missed an opportunity — I should have just done an Atheism+ talk and gotten wild accolades. I actually didn’t say a lot about it: I was making the case that the strong response to this idea should be telling every atheist organization something…that there is a huge swell of interest in their potential membership in making social justice issues a much bigger part of the movement.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/03/im-back/

PZ today:

#56: Do these people even realize the cost of supporting feminism in the current skeptic/atheist movement? It’s the fastest way to get ostracized/despised by a large number of very vocal, stupid people…and to get blacklisted by the ‘leadership’. If I wanted greater support and rewards, I’d have followed Hemant Mehta’s path of always saying “yessir” to the Big Names, and never ever criticizing my “betters”.

Oh yeah, if he’d cared about rewards–exactly what he was promising in the beginning. No, now he’s a martyr to “principle.” Never mind that the issue against him was never, say, equality, but the lack of debate about these things as Pharyngula was censored to prevent questioning a host of “absolutes,” the attempts to control and coerce beyond Pharyngula via smears and fabrications, and the “othering” of all who are not perfect enough for their tastes.

But no, he certainly wasn’t putting his neck on the chopping block on purpose, he intended for other heads to be chopped. With the spectacular failure of his attempt to impose a dictatorship of those “more equal than the other equals,” now he’s a martyr for “principles.”

A victim. Like all of the other privileged victims nattering away and doing nothing but demanding from others.

31 Shatterface April 11, 2015 at 12:37 am

If I wanted greater support and rewards, I’d have followed Hemant Mehta’s path of always saying “yessir” to the Big Names, and never ever criticizing my “betters”.

And the Horde saw nothing racist in that?

32 SF April 11, 2015 at 12:48 am

In summary, PZ Myers despises any atheist/skeptic who has accomplished something or expressed an opinion without the expressed approval of Skepchick or the official TM atheist morality blog committee internal to ftbs.

33 Shatterface April 11, 2015 at 1:00 am

Apparently, the whole issue is really about Michael Shermer, and Michael Nugent is simply doing Shermer’s dirty work.

Wait – I thought it was all about the Pit? Who’s this guy stealing credit for brainwashing Michael and manipulating Hermat by telepathy?

34 Michael Nugent April 11, 2015 at 1:06 am

ch –

I’ve put your comments into moderation. They are distracting from a serious phase of how we are trying to deal with PZ’s behaviour.

If you haven’t saved them and you would like me to email you the contents, please let me know.

35 Michael Kingsford Gray April 11, 2015 at 3:17 am

A minor correction to my first post:
Change “We spoke to PZ on the elevator,”
To “We spoke to PZ on the escalator,”

The infamous Irish Elevator Incident probably made me commit a Fraudian[sic] slip!

36 Kirbmarc April 11, 2015 at 9:41 am

“You are not sheep! [Ed: but Christians are sheep] You are a fierce coordinated hunting pack, men & women working together, and those other bastards have cause to fear us!”

I think it is very poorly worded, and could be interpreted as violent rhetoric, but it isn’t enough to say that he incited people to act violently.

Myers has a history of “colorful” rhetoric.

“If that is not a clear incitement to the 4,000 audience-members to hunt Christians, and do mischief to them, I don’t know what is.”

A poorly-worded hyperbole. I can understand while people might feel threatened, but I think Myers’ message was more on the lines of “let’s be active and work together as a team!” than “let’s do bad things to religious persons!”.

Note that he doesn’t explicitly say that the hunting pack should go out and hunt the sheep. Also, is the “but Christians are sheep” your edit?

It’s more along the lines of “we’re not sheep, we’re powerful hunters who will go out there and hunt down [read: expose] the bad guys, who must we fear our commitment”.

It’s very, very poorly worded, and I think it’s very counterproductive to frame a discussion of ideas and activism to improve society as “hunting”, but I doubt that Myers was saying “let’s out there and do bad things to the people who are protesting us”.

37 JackSkeptic April 11, 2015 at 9:46 am

It is good to see other organistions speak up at least. It is not just about Myers of course, but the generally toxic atmosphere that has been created in the last several years to push a political agenda.

The AS community is not alone in this and I have found the naivety and ignorance of some so called thought leaders over the years breathtaking. If people self declare as leaders then they should bloody well lead and not play safe. If they do nothing they may not have a community to lead.

I wonder how many people have been put off joining any activism because of the vitriol. It goes well beyond any hate you would expect even from the religious. It is a terrible advertisement for the AS cause and has no doubt damaged all the hard painstaking work put in over the years to promote atheism and will continue to do so.

As to their reactions it is all standard stuff. They will blame the Devil (the Slympit) and do next to nothing to address the actual points being made to them. Ad Hominems, irrelevant smearing by association (Zvan’s trick) petty name calling (Myer’s is on that) and victim point generation (Benson is covering this) will be the name of the game.

Not one damn word addressing Nugent’s and AI’s points. I would politely suggest people please do not fall for their word games and logical fallacies and stay on point. If you are new to the tricks and tactics of SJW’s there are many good resources on the internet to explain how they operate. Once you know these it is remarkable how close they follow the script and therefore they become entirely predictable.

38 Antifreeze1100 April 11, 2015 at 10:35 am

Remember: Myers repeatedly called his Slymepit detractors RAPISTS, and damned Michael Nugent by that association, without ever providing a shred of either evidence or apology for this criminal accusation. Any discussion of Myers’s behaviour that does not first and foremost address this baseless smear has lost the plot (deliberately so on the part of his supporters). Talk of mean photoshops, “hate” forums, who endorses who, tone, etc., have no real relevance to the moral analysis at hand.

39 Shatterface April 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

Slymepit is irrelevant in this; if everyone there put their hands up and said ‘Okay, you got us: we are all this and more’ it wouldn’t change a damn thing.

Myers has been using his position to smear prominent atheists for years and Pitters drowning puppies wouldn’t change that.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Ophelia Benson for likening the Pit to Charlie Hebdo though. I know FtB think the cartoonists deserved to die – and there’s maybe a wish the Pit would suffer a similar fate in there – but we can still take it as an unintended compliment.

Je suis Slymepit.

40 Glen Davidson April 11, 2015 at 11:18 am

Remember: Myers repeatedly called his Slymepit detractors RAPISTS, and damned Michael Nugent by that association, without ever providing a shred of either evidence or apology for this criminal accusation. Any discussion of Myers’s behaviour that does not first and foremost address this baseless smear has lost the plot (deliberately so on the part of his supporters).

The only thing I’d add to that is that Nugent latched onto that particular smear because it is about as egregiously false as it gets, making it easy to push for confirming evidence that everyone knows does not exist. Yet it’s only one example of many baseless claims by Myers and associated SJWs (see Chronology of Smears).

Bad as it is, who’d really care all that much if it were the only flagrant violation of civility, honesty, and any sense of decency and equal treatment of humans? Sadly, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s really about the iceberg, though, and not just this unambiguous tip, this example that is especially difficult to smother under a bunch of blather and word-gaming.

41 Shatterface April 11, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Benson choses her words carefully:

This is the slyme pit: Michael Nugent’s informants and allies, people Hemant Mehta thinks PZ is too hard on when he “deems” them “trolls.”

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/04/meet-the-slyme-pit/

Yeah, like that word doesn’t carry offensive connotations given Irish history

Previously:

Ophelia – Imagine if we called him some slur for “Irish” but pretended it was ok because specific to him. Explosions would ensue.

42 SF April 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Wow, PZ’s devotees have greatly diminished in recent years. He has a rather bland lazy inaccurate response to the SCI not wanting to invite shock jock lecturers which has generated less than 40 comments so far and many of them repeats. In the old days (talking less than 2 years ago) this would have generated hundreds if not thousands of responses by now. Looks like the toxicity has really taken affect. When your schtick is to berate and disparage everyone else, guess it results in not having many defenders left.

43 Antifreeze1100 April 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm

We are constantly told that Slymepit denizens are guilty of rape, death threats, serial harassment, rape apology, and other assorted crimes that damn them as vile, subhuman, and not worthy of mention without harshest condemnation. In support of these myriad accusations, by way of introduction (i.e., “Meet the SlymePit”), Ophelia gives us two posts detailing . . . Photoshop memes of questionable humor and taste.

Why is that, exactly?

44 CB April 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Why indeed are “shock jock” bloggers invited to major conventions?
Maybe this question will be answered next month at the International Atheist Convention 2015 in Cologne. Both Mr Nugent and Mr Myers are confirmed speakers. Perhaps the event is called “Give peace a chance” for that very reason?

45 Carrie April 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm

I am late to the party as usual but I am so glad that Atheist Ireland, Atheist Northern Ireland, and other prominent atheists have made a stand on PZ and co’s behaviour being bad for atheist activists. I know that PZ, Zvan, Ophelia and their pals are busy throwing up dust and furballs everywhere, but the facts are clear as are the citations (thanks to Michael’s document of links)

thank Ophelia Benson for likening the Pit to Charlie Hebdo

*giggle* yes, I saw that and was well entertained. Also at her re-posting the photoshops that she obviously feels are proof of misogyny, racism and everything else vile — whereas they are simply proof of a childish or impish humour. The FtB crowd cannot seem to understand that a) the SP is a very small place and only gets publicity thanks to them, and b) that nothing evil or terrible goes on there, no doxxing or other genuine cruelty.

I see that Hemant is set to be the next Witch of the Week, for not saying that the SP is totally awful.

46 FishCakes April 11, 2015 at 4:14 pm

In regards to the 2012 PZ Myers talk/video mentioned in the comments above, I did stumble upon a couple of interesting quotes. Please watch the video to get the full context (link below).

Here’s a short quote from PZ Myers starting around 34:10. It seems quite revealing as to what is undoubtedly fueling his rhetoric.

When you’re a social pariah, as so many atheists have been, is it any wonder that some of us might be a little bit lonely and bitter?”

Here’s another quote from PZ Myers beginning at around the 22:35 mark. I think this one highlights a critical difference between PZ Myers’ approach, as compared to that of pretty much every other big name atheist/skeptic (Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Krauss, etc.).

Now, some of you might be saying [referring to himself] Ok, you’re picking on the extremists. This isn’t fair. That maybe there are… maybe you are a liberal Christian. I don’t know what you’re doing here if you’re a liberal Christian. Don’t raise your hand, you’ll be in big trouble. Maybe a liberal Christian, you’ll say I’m picking on the extremists.
[snip for brevity]
But perhaps you are a moderate, you support good science, you support good education, and you support treating the environment appropriately. It’s just that you love Jesus or Mohamed too. I’ve got some bad news for you… I don’t like you. I’m sorry, I just don’t.

To be fair, some of this is definitely meant to be tongue-in-cheek and he’s even getting some laughter in response; but the last bit about him not liking moderate Christians as people, that came off as very sincere to me. He does go on to preach about the need for cooperation with those who share common goals, and the importance of community and such, but that all seems diminished by the childish “I don’t like you” bit. It’s not just that he doesn’t like their ideas, or actions, but he doesn’t like them as people.

IMO, this guy was never fit to be a leader with this kind of hostility-based approach. FFS even the most fundamentalist religionists know enough to at least give lip-service to the whole “love the sinner / hate the sin” dichotomy, whereas PZ Myers is unable to meet even that low bar. It seems that he just doesn’t have it in him to be compassionate and empathetic in spite of differences, and he genuinely cannot separate ideas/actions from from individuals.

_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-CJojL4ZfA

47 Citizen Wolf April 11, 2015 at 8:25 pm

Michael, as CB points out above #44, both you and Mr Myers will be talking at Cologne in May. Do you feel that this might partially undermine the recent stance taken by AI and other in regards to Mr Myers?

48 Phil Giordana FCD April 11, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Citizen @47:

Why should it? The event is not organized by AI, and Michael hasn’t claimed he wouldn’t attend any event Myers was involved in, I think.

49 Michael Kingsford Gray April 12, 2015 at 9:43 am

Kirbmarc wrote:
“I think it is very poorly worded, and could be interpreted as violent rhetoric, but it isn’t enough to say that he incited people to act violently.”

With all due respect, you were not there, and cannot hope to gain even an inkling of the Zeitgeist bubbling-over at the very instant.
There was a consensus amongst my neighbors and acquaintances that PZ’s rhetoric was more than ‘over the top’ given the activities then occurring right outside of the lecture hall, and the media coverage that the protests had garnered over the last few days.

Short summary: You were not there. I was. My daughter was.

“Also, is the “but Christians are sheep” your edit?”
I had thought that the brackets, in addition to the prefix “Ed:” may have been a bit of a pointer. But the following words are a paraphrase of Myers’ own previously described words and intent.
I apologise if my wording was not quite clear enough for you. I assume that you must not have comprehended Myer’s previous remarks regarding Christians as meek “sheep”. Not much I can do about that.

“It’s more along the lines of “we’re not sheep, we’re powerful hunters who will go out there and hunt down [read: expose] the bad guys, who must we fear our commitment”.

That is your opinion, not mine.
As I said: You were not there. I was.

You are missing the Zeitgeist.

Such as afterwards, with Aayan Hirsi Ali being interviewed in the late afternoon/night.
If one watched that solely on video, one would have thought is a jolly carefree affair.
When one was actually in situ, the sheer force of presence of state and private security officials was quite overwhelming!
Both inside, but more so outside, and on every floor of the building.

In Australia it is most unusual in the extreme to have any form of guard with concealed sidearms, but they were out in force.

No. You are being excessively naive and trusting here.
That trait has got you into hot water before, hasn’t it?

I had dozens of agreements that PZ’s remarks were a clear incitement to cause mischief, if not outright violence on the vocal protesters outside.
Quite how you can tell these folk that they were wrong in their feelings is beyond me.

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