OMG DRAMA

Joey and Angel Foundation Disassociates from Pharyngula Horde

The Joey and Angel Foundation for the Advancement of Love and Puppies (hereafter “Foundation”) publicly dissociates itself from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of the Pharyngula comments section.

The Foundation is publicly dissociating itself from the hurtful and dehumanizing, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of the Pharyngula comments section. The final of many, many straws was its latest smear that “Douglas Adams . . . was a lecherous fucker.” We are also asking all ethical organizations and individuals to consider how you can help to reverse Pharyngula commenters’ harmful impact on the individuals they target and the atheist movement generally.

Some examples of rhetoric from the comments section of JUST ONE of Pharyngula’s posts:

“FUCK YOU SCUMBAG”

“Fuck you, you piece of shit.”

“FUCK YOU. SERIOUSLY, FUCK YOU.”

“Fuck you, you lying sack of shit.”

“And before I forget: fuck you too!”

“Fuck you and your alleged skepticism.”

“…while you’re at it, go fuck yourself.”

“Oh fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”

“For everyone defending Shermer &/or the status quo: fuck you.”

“…a hearty FUCK YOU to the muckfucking asswipe who dropped that turd in here.”

“Let me be the first to invite you to fuck yourself. Go, idiot, and fuck yourself.”

“Fuck you big time!! You’re a fucking prejudice asshole. So once again; FUCK YOU!!”

“Double fuck you for doubting Jane Doe. This is not gossip you compassionless shitstain.”

“And a seriously raging fuck you to the slymey arselickers who are trying SO FUCKING HARD to preserve a rape culture they swear doesn’t exist.”

“…colorful suggestions about what they may or may not do with a rotting porcupine.”

“I have this nice crown of decayed porcupines for you. You can wear it as a sign of your terrible persecution as you trample out the vintage of the internet. Go forth and declare your outrage, Cupcake, the internet awaits you.”

“…take one of porcupines Caine has lying around and shove it up your ass.”

“Shermer is probably like the serial rapists…”

“These pieces of shit serial rapists need to own up to their behavior.”

“If you’d rather vent THAN STOP A SERIAL RAPIST, CARRY ON THE WAY YOU ARE.”

“…it is better that someone might occasionally get a bad reputation they do not deserve than that serial rapists should continue to get away with being serial rapists.”

“What’s happening is some women want to warn other women that Michael Shermer is a serial rapist.”

These are only a small sample of the Pharyngula’s comments section’s harmful, hateful, and defamatory rhetoric.

It might be possible to interpret any one example of this unrelenting character assassination charitably, and certainly Pharyngula’s comments section can hide behind a wall of unkind, hyperbolic or polemic words written by PZ Myers himself, and continue to use Myers’ unabashed incivility to justify an obsessive hate campaign against any members of the designated out-group.

Ironically, the sheer quantity of this obsessive rhetoric can seem to minimize the harm of each example. It is easy for us to become desensitized to the reality of years of ridicule and hate framed as reasonable discourse. In fact, it might be really easy to just ignore it if you aren’t personally a target. Otherwise, it kind of blows.

Many within the atheist movement have been concerned about Pharyngula’s comments section for years. Some have responded by ignoring it, either to avoid giving Pharyngula’s blog comments or to avoid becoming their next target. For example, the last person who called out Pharyngula’s comment section has endured a coordinated smear campaign across multiple freethought blogs.

Accordingly, the Foundation is now publicly dissociating ourselves from the well-poisoning and dehumanizing, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of Pharyngula’s blog comments. We are asking all ethical organizations and individuals to consider how you can help to reverse its harmful impact.

[Credit to Michael Nugent and M.A. Melby for inspiring most of this post, and to the famed Pharyngula Horde for reviving the infamous dead porcupines.]

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OMG DRAMA

Cracks in the “Wall of Silence”

Adam Lee has a post up at Patheos wherein he alleges that four prominent white cis male atheists (Richard Dawkins, James Randi, Michael Nugent, and Jerry Coyne) have been maintaining a “Wall of Silence” around Michael Shermer. Let us consider each of them each in turn.

Richard Dawkins’ supposed “wall of silence” consists primarily of provoking rambling discussions about drunk sex and/or rape on Twitter, like this:

and this

and this

I don’t expect anyone can seriously argue that these hypothetical tweets just happened to pop up immediately after Oppenheimer’s article on BuzzFeed, and while I am not generally in a position to agree with Stephanie Zvan on any particular issue in the ongoing atheist gender wars, I am just as “certain Dawkins’ tweets were an attempt to defend Michael Shermer” as she is. Not exactly what I’d call silence.

James Randi has not (to my knowledge) commented on the Oppenheimer article directly, although he is quoted therein. That quotation alone puts the lie to the idea that Randi is somehow erecting a wall of silence around this topic, but perhaps more telling is that the longest-running and best-attested discussion of what actually happened is currently hosted at his website (www.randi.org) and last I checked no one has tried to delete the thread or any of the various eyewitness statements or wild-eyed third-party speculation posted therein.

Michael Nugent has an eponymous website at www.michaelnugent.com; so let’s just tap the Google machine and see how well his own wall of silence is holding up. Oh, shit. Other than this post, this post, this post, and this post, it looks like Nugent’s wall is holding up just fine. Granted, hosting multiple lightly-moderated threads on topic doesn’t generally count as silence, but let’s not get too nitpicky about it.

Finally, we come to Jerry Coyne. Ok, you’ve got me there. So far as I can tell, he has not been interacting with these allegations at all. And that’s okay. So far as I can tell, nothing obliges him to do so, and one biologist does not a wall of silence make.

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