The Amazing Flamewar

I wasn’t going to bother blogging on this as it just tends to fan the flames, but it’s hard to set out my position over twitter, especially once you have a couple of other names CC’ed in.

The Short-Short version of the story is that The Amazing Atheist flamed out on Reddit the other night, late at night, in the middle of heated discussion and under quite some attack and spouted off some ill-advised and bad tempered commentary about ‘trigger warnings’ that included ‘threats’ of rape.

So far, so bad, fair enough.

Who hasn’t ever lost their temper and flamed out on someone? I certainly have. I’ve said some ill advised things in the ‘heat of battle’ and the problem with the internet is that it combines the immediacy of the moment with the long memory of written text. So those things I, or TAA say live on in infamy. The same could also be said of things that people like Rebecca Watson have said but those, apparently, are forgivable or laudable, no matter how offensive or stereotypical they are.

This isn’t fair.

While it may be ironic for an atheist to use this saying: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Divine in this case meaning ‘We can aspire to be better people’. TAA has apologised for what he has said (more than many others on the other side of the divide have ever done) and, frankly, this is a dude whose schtick is being ‘offensive’ and ‘controversial’. Something I also know well.

I suspect that these attacks have far more to do with TAA’s attitude and points expressed in videos like these…

…than this actual incident. The dogpiling of him over this has the familiar whiff of the opportunistic, torch-wielding mob. This isn’t justice, it’s a ‘GOTCHA!’ moment.

So, to set out what I think on this with CRYSTAL FUCKING CLARITY so people can stop badgering and judging me over it. Even accusing me of ‘supporting rape’ for speaking up (seriously, what the merry fuck?).

I do not think what he said was acceptable. I do not agree with him on everything he says. I find him to be an entertaining curmudgeon 80% of the time and an arsehole 20% of the time. I find that an acceptable ratio. Enjoying some of what he does and says doesn’t mean I automatically subscribe to the rest of what he does and says. I find the victimisation, dogpiling and demonisation of him EQUALLY unacceptable to his original comments and it smacks of a horseshit excuse to attack someone you didn’t like and whom you couldn’t otherwise get at. My concern over your abysmal behaviour towards another human being is not approval of what he said or did. It is disapproval of what YOU are saying and doing and I believe everyone deserves another shot if they apologise.

I would also refer you to these previous posts:

The Claim and Cause Entwined (This is what you’re doing).

Does Atheism have a Problem With Women (No, it does have a problem with unquestioned orthodoxy)

Here’s another video to close with…


Perhaps more insidious than the nasty side of faith itself is this pernicious idea of ‘tolerance’. Sure, it sounds like a great idea and in many cases it is. There’s a flipside to this as well though. This degree of passivity, this unwillingness to call a spade a spade, to point out a problem, to criticise, means you just end up getting rolled right over by those who don’t extend the same respect.

Is there really nothing worth fighting for? Worth fighting against?

Where’s the mileage in sitting there and allowing nonsensical statements, beliefs, actions to go unchallenged simply because they’re cultural, religious or spiritual?

Why should we tolerate the anti-vax crowd and their dangerous nonsense, especially when it impacts on herd immunity?

Why should we tolerate alternative medicine, which hoovers money up from desperate people, conning them out of millions that could better support genuine medicine?

Why should we allow genital mutilation to go on?

Why should we allow the idea of faith as a virtue to continue to be promulgated or the masochistic guilt and self-loathing that Christianity foists on people?

There’s a term from Islam, commonly misused by racists, a sort of social status of one who doesn’t believe in Islam. A ‘Dhimmi’. This is ‘one whose responsibility has been taken’. It’s about two steps above slave and one above serf. It’s someone who is permitted or suffered to live amongst the believers, despite being a filthy heathen.

True believers are not going to extend the same respect to me, or to the wishy-washy ‘Let’s all get on’ types as we would extend to them. If we don’t stand up for what is true, correct and right. If we don’t fight back against these sorts of errant, bullshit ideas we’re going to get crushed.

Mr. Prosser: Do you know how much damage this bulldozer would sustain if I just let it roll over you?
Arthur: How much?
Mr. Prosser: None at all.