I think it is useful to continue this discussion, so this is a response to Ophelia’s interim post about mine yesterday, which she has titled:
“Thou shalt respect The Leaders.”
That title is based on a misreading not only of my post, but also of my entire life philosophy and political activism. Actually:
- I wrote that “I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.”
- I also wrote that “I believe that we should robustly question the ideas and behaviour of people who are, or who are perceived to be, authority figures in our own spheres of activity.”
“Michael Nugent has decided to defend Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer from the violence and abuse of those evil Freethought bloggers.”
Ophelia, you are not responding here to what I have written. You have paraphrased it into something else, and described your paraphrase as my decision. Actually:
- I was primarily defending the global atheist movement from recent misrepresentations in the mainstream media, and I was also criticising the culture of demonising people that has contributed to these misrepresentations, and in particular PZ’s role in that.
- I did not refer to “those evil FreeThought bloggers”. I referred to “the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements.”
- I did not say that any FreeThought bloggers are evil, and I do not believe that any FreeThought bloggers are evil.
- I did not say that any FreeThought bloggers are violent, and I do not believe that any FreeThought bloggers are violent.
- Specifically, I do not believe that PZ is evil or violent. Indeed, I wrote: “Whenever I have met PZ, he comes across as a decent person, motivated by a desire to promote reason and science, and to promote social justice and defend victims of injustice. He is quiet, polite, civil and friendly. He works tirelessly to promote his vision of a better world. I like him.”
- I do believe that PZ and some FreeThought bloggers and commenters are sometimes abusive, in the context of being extremely offensive and insulting, although I did not use that term in my post, and that is not the reason for my criticism. The reason for my criticism is a consistent pattern of attacking people as individuals, as opposed to merely attacking their ideas or behaviour, and particularly attacking them in the way that I cite in the post.
“It’s not a very even-handed account of the situation, in my view.”
I believe it is more even-handed than the way that you have described it so far. But it is not meant to cover every aspect of ‘the situation’. You already know my views on other aspects. As two examples:
- I have criticised Thunderf00t for his misleading personal attacks on some atheist feminists, including Amy, Rebecca, PZ and Melody. Some people on ‘the other side’ criticised me for writing that. You didn’t. You described it as beautiful.
- I contributed to Amy’s series on speaking out against hate directed at women. Some people on ‘the other side’ criticised me for writing that. You didn’t. You described it as a 10, a gold, a safe landing on Mars.
I still hold the beliefs that I expressed in those posts. I still actively support and work towards inclusive atheist communities where everybody is treated with equal respect. In my opinion, this is perfectly consistent with the points that I have made in this latest post.
So, if you think that this latest post is not very even-handed, perhaps in the same way that other people thought the earlier ones were biased in the other direction, can you please consider all of my posts together to formulate your view of my overall even-handedness?
“I must be one of those “some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs,” since I’ve been blogging about the combative and/or antifeminist and/or sexist things that Sam Harris and/or Richard Dawkins wrote and/or said lately.”
Well, I don’t think it was proportionate to reply to Sam’s off-the-cuff interview quote with ‘No. And fuck you.’ Or to suggest that it could be that a lot of women don’t feel like going to his talks because they think he is kind of an asshole about women.
But as I think you know, I believe your overall approach is more constructive than some others who are perceived to be on the same ‘side’, particularly given that you are the subject of some particularly vitriolic attacks by some people.
You don’t have the same American-centric focus that some others do. You regularly highlight the fight for secularism in the developing and Islamic worlds, and you are very supportive of our fights for secularism and social justice in Ireland, including abortion rights and equal marriage rights.
Also, I know from our conversations in Dublin that we agree more than we disagree about most of ‘the situation’.
By the way, for clarity, when I wrote “some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements,” the shorthand was not referring to all FreeThought Blogs bloggers, nor was it limited to FreeThought Blogs bloggers. It was a shorthand for one perceived ‘side’ of whatever you want to call ‘the situation’.
“I’m short on time today, because of pesky duties elsewhere. More later.”
Okay, but please respond to what I actually wrote. Please don’t paraphrase it into something else and then respond to that. I look forward to reading it, and I will be happy to discuss it.