Is Atheist Ireland reliably leftist, or neocon, or neither?

by Michael Nugent on April 14, 2015

A Twitter user today accused Atheist Ireland of being neoconservative, which is entertaining because we have also been criticised for being reliably leftist. Actually, our policies are based on respecting and promoting human rights, then building an ethical secular society on that foundation.

Here are the two Twitter conversations.

The ‘reliably leftist’ argument was made last year by David Quinn of the conservative Christian Iona Institute, which portrays itself as a quasi-academic and objective think-tank, but which in reality exists solely to advance and promote the Christian religion, and its social and moral values.

The ‘neocon’ argument was made today by Stephen Bendelow, a PZ Myers supporter who has also accused Richard Dawkins of appropriating African culture and stealing the identity of African people, for wearing a tee-shirt about our shared evolutionary ancestry with the slogan ‘We are all Africans.’

In the Red Corner – David Quinn

Is Atheist Ireland reliably leftist?

Michael Nugent – You say Iona decides which Christian values to promote or not based on what makes most sense. What criteria do you use?

David Quinn – How do you choose from among the many positions atheists can choose?

Michael Nugent – In Atheist Ireland, we try to choose what’s most consistent with AI’s aims of promoting atheism, reason and ethical secularism.

David Quinn – And yet you always come up with a leftist type conclusion unlike lots of other atheists.

Michael Nugent – If you mean Atheist Ireland, we promote human rights for individuals, not groups or religions. Do you consider that leftist?

David Quinn – Gee, I’m for individual rights as well. I must be an atheist so.

Michael Nugent – Not if you believe in God. But, by your assessment of Atheist Ireland’s policies, you are leftist. Do you think you are leftist?

David Quinn – Atheist Ireland has reliably leftist positions on abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom and denominational schools. None of these stances is justified by atheism per se.

In the Other Red Corner – Stephen Bendelow

Is Atheist Ireland a neocon organisation?

Stephen Bendelow – When neocon organisations like @atheistie lie and distort to smear their enemies we must disassociate from THEM.

John Hamill – Please justify why @atheistie is a “neocon organisation” rather than the usual “reliably leftist”. https://twitter.com/davquinn/status/466614858062913536 …

Peter Ferguson – Guaranteed there will not be an answer to this as it is a ludicrous statement.

Derek Walsh – Good luck. This is someone who accused an African-born man of appropriating African culture.

Stephen Bendelow – Their actions speak for themselves. Smearing and harassing leftist leaders like PZ is typical neocon behaviour.

Atheist Ireland – Is criticising “leftist leaders” the defining criterion for being “neocon” or is there more?

Stephen Bendelow – Your tone and attitude screams neocon. It’s an Alex Jones level of rabid lunacy and obsession.

Atheist Ireland – Could you give a specific example and how it relates to the American political movement you mention?

Stephen Bendelow – No. I’m not your servant. Use Google and find out for yourself like I had to.

Atheist Ireland – Well, thanks for your feedback anyway.

Stephen Bendelow – Any time.

Stephen Bendelow – Leave me alone anyway or I’ll block and report you.

Atheist Ireland – You initiated the conversation.

Stephen Bendelow – And you continued it when I asked you to stop. That’s harassment.

Atheist Ireland – That’s an unusual definition of harassment. But if you don’t mention us again, we won’t mention you either.

Stephen Bendelow – No. I don’t accept those terms. I should be free to mention a large powerful org. without fear of being bullied.

Atheist Ireland – You’re not being bullied. But if you don’t wish to converse with us, you’re free to stop.

Stephen Bendelow – Classic neocon bullying tactic. Demand I stop shining a light on your behaviour or you’ll follow me around.

Atheist Ireland – Nobody’s following you or demanding you stop anything. Please feel free to continue shining your light.

Stephen Bendelow – You keep replying to me when I asked you to stop. That is harassment. You can’t make the same argument of me.

Atheist Ireland – You’re free to ignore us and ask that we do the same. But you continue to engage us in conversation.

Stephen Bendelow – You don’t get it do you? I asked you to leave me alone you never asked me to leave YOU alone. Neocon tactics.

Atheist Ireland – At any point, you’re free to walk away from this conversation and we will not engage you further.

John Hamill – One of you is bullying me by tagging me in this discussion. When I find out who, I’m going to call you names.

In Reality – Atheist Ireland

In reality, this is the philosophy of Atheist Ireland

We promote atheism, reason and ethical secularism. Our policies are based on a foundation of human rights law, including freedom of conscience, religion and belief; of expression; from discrimination; equality before the law; rights of the child; family and private life; positive state obligations; and an effective remedy.

Building on the foundation of human rights being vindicated equally for all, we promote a society based on natural ethical values such as empathy, compassion, cooperation, reciprocity, fairness, justice, reason and evidence-based decisions.

We promote integrity in public life, and an end to the nod-and-wink approach to Irish politics, where we are expected to ignore discrimination by pretending it doesn’t exist, and where the law can be ignored or fudged to mean whatever people want it to mean.

You can find out more on our websites:

Atheist Ireland – http://atheist.ie

Teach Don’t Preach – http://teachdontpreach.ie

Blasphemy Law Campaign – http://blasphemy.ie

Our Lending Team on Kiva – http://www.kiva.org/team/atheistireland

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 skhome April 14, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Are we all sure that Bendelow isn’t some sort of joke/satire account?

2 Darby April 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Man I love how social justice wankers think: “I can yell at you all I want but if you respond it’s ‘harassment'”.

I’m fairly certain most of us figured out that wasn’t a winning argument sometime before we aged into double-digits.

3 Steven Carr April 14, 2015 at 4:09 pm

So somebody slammed Richard Dawkins for wearing a T-shirt saying ‘We are all Africans’… when Dawkins was born in Nairobi?

You have to admire Nugent’s patience in talking to these people?

4 JackSkeptic April 14, 2015 at 4:40 pm

The word ‘Neocon’ is just the latest meaningless buzzword SJW’s have picked up on, a bit like Libertard. That word was always ‘problematic’ as it was clearly abelist, being derived from the word ‘retard’. It is just another way to label by smearing people who disagree with them and it recently became fashionable to use it extensively.

I first saw its common use last week. It is everywhere right now so personally I would not read much into it. People that tend to overuse buzzwords tend not to be the brightest anyway.

Keeping up with all the latest slurs is quite an effort.

5 Kirbmarc April 14, 2015 at 4:42 pm

“Are we all sure that Bendelow isn’t some sort of joke/satire account?”

The thought crossed my mind too but he’s supported by many real SJWs, so in the end it makes no difference one way or the other.

6 Darby April 14, 2015 at 5:38 pm

The best part of idiots like this calling AI a “neocon” organization is that Neoconservatism is a political movement fairly exclusive to the U.S. and thus pretty damned irrelevant to Atheist Ireland.

7 Gerhard April 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Darby.

Man I love how social justice wankers think: “I can yell at you all I want but if you respond it’s ‘harassment’”.

I’m fairly certain most of us figured out that wasn’t a winning argument sometime before we aged into double-digits.

It is a winning argument to the people that matter. The humanities in academia have been largely taken over by the BS artists and it is very difficult to get criticism heard. A lot of government policy is based on SJW staple claims despite all of the evidence contradicting them. They did this by being simultaneously vicious and playing victim. So many people are indoctrinated into the view of women as oppressed victims that they have managed to shame people into compliance.

8 Comrade Bala April 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

“The word ‘Neocon’ is just the latest meaningless buzzword SJW’s have picked up on.”

Unfortunately they don’t seem to have any idea what the word means if they think Alex Jones is a Neo-Con.

9 Darby April 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

We should take a page from the wankers’ book and respond to their dippy claims by accusing them of being parts of utterly irrelevant political movements. “Oh yeah, well you’re a filthy Huguenot!”

10 Submariner April 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

No idea who Bendelow is but he needs to meet Godfrey Elfwick. What a SJW tag team that would be!!

11 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 5:49 pm

‘Neo-con’ is a pretty dated word originating in the Sixties but coming to prominence during the George W Bush era; I have to confess I’ve rarely heard it in the last few years.

It denotes a specific set of American free-market economic policies allied with aggressively American intervention in other countries.

It has fuck all to do with Ireland.

It appears that once again FTB have decided words mean whatever they say they mean, and stick to whatever they throw them at.

12 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 5:53 pm

The best part of idiots like this calling AI a “neocon” organization is that Neoconservatism is a political movement fairly exclusive to the U.S. and thus pretty damned irrelevant to Atheist Ireland.

It’s kind of like their use of terms like ‘dudebros’ and ‘living in their moms basement’.

They really don’t know a world exists outside of America.

13 Gerhard April 14, 2015 at 5:58 pm

This is standard fare from the SJW types. As a critic (mocker, really) you get used to the rubbish they project onto you. They make no honest effort at all to understand their critics, I mean harassers, and delight in replying to comments with snarky cliches that inform you what you really mean in absolute contradiction to what you said. It really takes you aback when you first encounter this phenomenon. You a keep trying to get your point across and imagine that they have just misunderstood you, until it dawns on you that they are not conversing with you but some caricature they made up in their heads.

14 Ashling O'Brien April 14, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Does this work as a summary definition?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=neo-conservative

If so, then it does not apply to Ireland at all. The assumption that Irish policy has moved on from the oppressive pre-1960s days and therefore has something to go back to is way off track. We’re still there.

They need to come back in about 20 years and then we can talk :-)

15 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Stephen Bendelow – No. I’m not your servant. Use Google and find out for yourself like I had to.

Fantastic.

He Googled it.

He’s not actually familiar with the extensive literature on the subject, he just did a quick search and he’s confident about his understanding of the word that he starts flinging it around like it’s his own excrement.

Stephen Bendelow – You don’t get it do you? I asked you to leave me alone you never asked me to leave YOU alone. Neocon tactics.

In fairness, this is exactly how the invasion of Iraq happened.

16 Jack Rawlinson April 14, 2015 at 6:20 pm

“Neocon” is just another one of the SJW mob’s thoughtless labels for “any atheist we don’t like”. It goes along with “MRA”, “misogynist”, “rape apologist” etc. etc. These people are not about thinking; they’re about slapping easy labels on people so that they can just condemn without actually having to use the old grey matter. oh, and if you try to reason with them or point out why they’re full of it, you’re harassing them. As you saw. Try to remember: they are allowed to label you, abuse you, smear you, accuse you of crimes based on hearsay, and that’s justice and righteousness. If, in the other hand, you try to question that behaviour or actually defend yourself, you are the one harassing them.

17 Peter Ferguson April 14, 2015 at 6:30 pm

I would say it has to be satire, but there are actually people in Ireland who label Atheist Ireland and all “new atheists” (whatever a new atheist is) neocons. Of course when challenged they are either unable to to back up the statement or they refuse to reply, most likely because they can’t back up the claim.

18 Colin Morrison April 14, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I confess to laughing uproariously on reading this. Michael, you need to write a play or musical based on this, using some sort of narrative device to bring the internet to the stage :)

If Stephen isn’t for real, he’s a world-class satirist.

19 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

The ‘neocon’ argument was made today by Stephen Bendelow, a PZ Myers supporter who has also accused Richard Dawkins of appropriating African culture and stealing the identity of African people, for wearing a tee-shirt about our shared evolutionary ancestry with the slogan ‘We are all Africans.’

This is so mental it was probably worth a whole article in itself. Dawkins wore a t-shirt celebrating the fact our whole species has a common root and some dipshit choses to pick a fight over it.

Presumably Bendelow believes in Louis Farrakhan’s crackpot theory that Europeans descend from a race of Nordic ice men while Africans descend from an entirely separate race of Sun people.

20 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 7:53 pm

The revival – and extension – of the word comes from Myers, natch:

I could turn Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s logic right back at her, of course. She’s safe and prosperous in the US, with a nice conservative sinecure in a wingnut think-tank, so how dare she be lashed with words on a blog. People in Saudi Arabia are lashed with real whips! Everyone must shut up about the fact that some of us are willing to point out her neo-con connections!

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/04/06/we-dont-need-another-hero/

From there the word gets picked up by other FTBloggers

21 john welch April 14, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Michael Nugent and AI are all things to all people.

Really, the ‘pit’s going to get jealous if you take their place as the Ur-Demons to the FTB lot.

Can you imagine that discussion?

“Okay, who do we blame today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, do we blame the pit or nugent or AI”

“All of them?”

“No, you dip, we have to blame one of them. For example, we blame dawkins for anything we don’t like about the Atheism “leadership”. So who do we blame for what we don’t like today?”

“Hmm…is today patriarchy day, racism day, rape support day or sexism day?”

“What’s the calendar say?”

“No idea, it crashed again”

“I thought we agreed to not let PZ manage it, he hasn’t been a sysadmin since the days of the VAX!”

“Dude, seriously, you ever tell him no?”

“Sigh…good point. I dunno, pick one and then follow the flow chart”

22 Billie from Ockham April 14, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Michael Nugent – In Atheist Ireland, we try to choose what’s most consistent with AI’s aims of promoting atheism, reason and ethical secularism.

Cool. I’m with you so far.

Michael Nugent – If you mean Atheist Ireland, we promote human rights for individuals, not groups or religions. Do you consider that leftist?

Setting aside the left/right question, I’m curious how you (as a group or you, personally, Micheal) moved from atheism, reason, and ethical secularism to human rights for individuals and not groups. I don’t see an automatic connection, which suggests (to me) that some other factor was involved when the decision to support the rights of individuals over those of groups was made. Care to say more on this?

23 Billie from Ockham April 14, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Oops. I left my edit button over on the Slymepit, so please forgive the mangling of your name.

24 Shatterface April 14, 2015 at 10:51 pm

Setting aside the left/right question, I’m curious how you (as a group or you, personally, Micheal) moved from atheism, reason, and ethical secularism to human rights for individuals and not groups.

I’m guessing when religious groups began demanding rights normally reserved for individuals.

25 John Moriarty (@jm2833530) April 14, 2015 at 10:54 pm

How I would love to see a like button; this thread is pricelessly hilarious!

26 J. J. Ramsey April 14, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Are we all sure that Bendelow isn’t some sort of joke/satire account?

That had crossed my mind as well. While he’s not blatantly over the top, he seems to follow the expected SJW stereotype just a little too well.

27 JackSkeptic April 15, 2015 at 1:02 am

Some people would fail a turing test and it is very hard to tell genuine from poe half the time.

Anyway I’m sure they won’t run out of ways to give AI and Nugent a bit of gratuitous abuse when the mood takes them. Which is most of the time. Funny how they have such strong opinions about him now but not a year or so ago. It’s as if they are making stuff up just to try and discredit someone’s argument while managing to ignore it totally. Can’t be can it? Would such great thinkers resort to that?

As to memes they are not the only ones who have them. The latest is ‘Offendatron’ from the gaming community. As it suggests, it is someone who enjoys looking for offense whether it is intended or not and who gets obvious glee when they get offended, while they bath in the warm glow of self righteousness knowing they have added to the well being of the world by their very words. True heroes.

So people like Stephen Bendelow and many at FTB are offendatrons. They should be proud they are contributing so much to society.

28 Badger3k April 15, 2015 at 10:09 am

The Bendelow conversation sounds like an old Abbot and Costello routine (“Who is harassing me!” “Who is?””Exactly!”)

29 Shivar April 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

Um, Mr. Nugent, Bendelow is a known fake/troll account. You just wasted your time here. Just saying.

30 Derek Walsh April 15, 2015 at 10:55 am

For what it’s worth, I was the one operating the Atheist Ireland Twitter account in the above conversation. I don’t want Michael to get all the blame!

It occurred to me that the Stephen Bendelow account may be a Poe. It can be very hard to tell. He did suggest that a railway company might be MRA (Men’s Rights Activists) because they didn’t give Kate Smurthwaite a window seat, which seems to me slightly beyond the realms of what anyone could plausibly believe. But then, people frequently demonstrate an amazing capacity for believing implausible things!

31 Ron Murphy April 15, 2015 at 11:36 am

I think Stephen Bendelow trained at the same SJW camp as @latsot

32 Zenspace April 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Derek,

I speaks volumes when the FTB and Company talking points are such that it is virtually impossible to distinguish their actual arguments and claims from parody.

33 Shatterface April 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

From a current Pharyngulla thread:

chigau (違う)
15 April 2015 at 12:27 pm
Since the comment that I’m writing right now is itself a comment on a post that mentions Ben Radford, will this comment be read into evidence? If so, I would like to say the following. . .
neocon
neocon
neocon

They’re beyond Poeing.

34 Shivar April 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Ron Murphy @31

Actually, Bendelow trained at the same SJW camp as Godfrey Elfwick, since they’re both troll twitter accounts belonging to Slymepit idiot Tony Parsehole.

35 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 15, 2015 at 11:27 pm

I’ve seen quite a lot of the “neocon” fanaticism coming from #FTBullies recently. They are in the same camp as the likes of CJ Werleman. Don’t be surprised if #FTBullies start to obsess about “Zionists” and Israel in future – a productive bandwagon lies that way, and it easier than fighting the proper liberal battle against Islamism. Being accused of “anti-Semitism” does not have the same horror-inducing effects as being called “Islamophobic”.

Just take a look at how easy Ophelia Benson, a former liberal, has caved to the Horde.

People who shout loudly about “neocons” all the time, tend to be in the same bed as right-wing Islamists and Jew-haters. There have already been a couple of incidents involving Rebecca Watson and accusations of anti-Semitism. FTB and Skepchick provide the right environment for it to flourish. Keep an eye out!

36 Michael Nugent April 16, 2015 at 2:24 am

Billie,

I’ll try to answer your question about rights in more detail later, but one of the main reasons is that religions, when they are in a majority, tend to prioritise the collective “rights” of the religion over the actual rights of the individual. You can see it played out explicitly in Islamic states conflating ideas like blasphemy and defamation of religion.

37 noelplum99 April 24, 2015 at 7:50 pm

One of the things that concerns me about the FtB ‘Myers gang’ (as opposed to the whole network) is not their personal politics but how exclusionary and exclusive they are.
Whether Atheist Ireland is generally left or right wing it seems to me is (whilst perhaps important on social issues) of secondary concern to being universally welcoming to well meaning atheists across the Republic.
The attitude I get from the likes of Myers and Christina (especially) is that those most likely to get ostracised by their communities and most on need of support – right wing atheists in republican strongholds – will then get another dose of the same treatment. That seems tragically cruel to me (not to mention counterproductive in terms of encouraging people to question their religion) and certainly a case of placing personal ideological concerns above what ought to be part of the central remit for any atheist movement.

I have broached the subject on Pharyngula a couple of times in the past but I am not sure the responses would get past your comments policy :-)

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