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JT weighs in on CFI, Skepticon, Lindsay, and Vacula

 
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Old 20-Jun-2013, 05:21 PM (17:21)     1        47360
D4M10N
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Question JT weighs in on CFI, Skepticon, Lindsay, and Vacula

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2...-be-supported/

Your thoughts?
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Old 20-Jun-2013, 07:08 PM (19:08)     2        47362
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JT makes the classic association fallacy. The 'pit is nothing more and nothing less than a modern day version of speakers corner, but without the park maintenance, hence has a high Noise to Signal ratio.

Justin has made mistakes of judgement, but I'd not call him evil. It's always easier in a propaganda situation to assume the worst of a person. It's a pity JT does not realise this as well.

That said, I am beyond caring what Greta, et all think. They are not putting "boots on the ground" as far as outreach or activism goes.
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Old 20-Jun-2013, 11:37 PM (23:37)     3        47363
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My thoughts:

1. I'm skeptical about his claims of being "good friends" with Zvan, Marcotte, and especially Greta. Real friends don't have to spend so much column space on disclaimers about their relationship and how they still love each other despite their differences. He sounds scared.

2. "And yes, the CFI statement was PR fluff. To me it essentially said “Look, we support the same cause, but we think you guys are going overboard and we’re done with the issue.” If that’s what they meant, I wish they would’ve at least elaborated on it. I didn’t like it at all." I did. It showed just how important they thought the "controversy" was, and expressed it beautifully.

3. " If his understanding of how to help is flawed in places (and it is), I don’t think the way to make him understand that is through political pressure. Perhaps Ron will never understand how he bungled it on this occasion, but one failure should not invalidate a lifetime of work in the interest of women. Political pressure works sometimes, but here I think it will just empower pride, which will drive us further away from each other when we should be united. While I agree that political pressure is the wrong way to go here, I disagree that Lindsay's understanding of how to help is flawed. Identifying abuses by your own side in a fight you feel strongly about is not a flawed understanding of how to help, it is help. The reaction of those feeling criticized seems to indicate they are the ones who's understanding is flawed.

4. I completely agree the main problem here is pride. It didn't start out that way, but once people become entrenched in their own viewpoint anything that threatens that viewpoint is an affront to your pride.

5. I have strong disagreements that boycotts are moral, or even effective, but that's another post for another time.

6. "The problem is that we often prematurely relegate good people to another tribe. Sometimes justifiably, but not always. Nowhere close to always, in fact. When good people are at each other’s throats for pride or passion, I think we all lose out." I can get on board with this statement.
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Old 21-Jun-2013, 06:22 PM (18:22)     4        47373
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Another subforum I missed. Is there some trick to know where the party is going?

This came out very verbose, sorry about that, because of all the context and issues involved. I could as well post it in the other thread, but Eberhard's blog post is a good way to touch on all the issues.


There is a movement within the movement that is interested in a rebranded humanism, let's call it New Humanism for the moment. Where the Old Humanism comes across as dusty and indeed occupied by old white dudes, the New Humanism brings in the fresh air of online (gender) feminism, social issues in combination with New Atheism. In other words, it's younger, a bit hipster.

A proposed label for this New Humanism was Atheism Plus. That means, generally New Humanism = Atheism Plus. But for outsiders it's not like that. They see Atheism Plus as that specific forum and only people who stated they are supportive of Atheism Plus are considered A-Plusser. I don't know if Amanda Marcotte officially declared herself, for example. But she is certainly on the same wavelength. That's why, for the moment, I like to use New Humanism for the whole thing.

I believe that a particular group essentially wants to claim leadership and long-term influence in that new emerging (potentially large) sub-movement. I also claim that what we see for some time are merely skirmishes that have exactly that goal. This group behaves a bit like heirs to a throne and seems quite clearly driven by personal animosities and strategical alliances.

Sketched out...

Ron Lindsay (CEO) & CFI have organized Women in Secularism, twice. But Ron Lindsay is an old school humanist and in his speech he was slightly critical of tenets of New Humanism and the Atheism Plus label.

We have to put into context that Atheism Plus is already under fire for a long time. Especially Richard Carrier's speech on it was panned and it received 6,000 downvotes. The huge YouTube communities that are always strangely invisible is very much against New Humanism or Atheism Plus. Jen McCreight, the actual founder was, so they see it, drummed out of the movement by harassers (also rather from the YouTube corner and trolls, ignored by them, of course). They are extremely thin-skinned about it. Now Ron Lindsay, and Boom.

Eberhard had a piece just a few days earlier, where he stated that Skepticon is kind of his baby. Skepticon severed ties from CFI, and in their statement they linked to Rebecca Watson's blog post. Surprise! The announced speakers are PZ Myers, Amanda Marcotte and Richard Carrier. Surprise! Stephanie Zvan and Ophelia Benson are firmly with PZ Myers, which is evidenced by the fact that many social issue topics are published in triplets. Each from their perspective, but still the same chopping direction. Greta Christina, also named again in Eberhard's piece, ditto, severed ties with CFI entirely.

Another piece of evidence. Watson once hung out at JREF, where she gained first followers. At some point she used a sock puppet and got suspended for it. Due to an oversight, when the suspension was lifted suddenly found herself with admin powers. She used this to ban users, long story short, was eventually kicked out for good. But she holds a grudge against JREF, whose boss is DJ Grothe and they organize TAM (yet another conference). Grothe also had the honour of being a Witch of the Week, but more importantly. Less than two weeks ago (good timing!) PZ Myers critisized TAM's advertisement and lobbied for Skepticon. Surprise! And there was some argument with DJ Grothe, too. Surprise! Watson, in her recent pieces has a habit of lumping Grothe and Lindsay together. Surprise!

American Atheists (AA) leader David Silverman critisized Justin Vacula recently, who is the Anti-Christ for the New Humanist people. That's why PZ Myers regards him as an ally and that's why the so-principled and rightous New Humanists have been very quiet about the rascism lawsuit of AA.

Now, surprise! The FTB Network (i.e. New Atheism Central) announced their own online conference (news is just out).

Now, with this context back to Eberhard's writing and topic.

I believe that the whole point of his piece is establishing where the center of the community is. It became very important in the overal scheme of things who owns the prerogative of interpretation, like who is "in" and who can "kick out whom". Who dictates the agendas.

Eberhard first declares that the New Humanism gang are his friends, something that is very clear through the Skepticon connection. He hides Rebecca Watson a bit by bringing up the Skepticon organizer, but their statement directly links to Watson, so the gang is pretty much complete there.

His whole disclaimer is about signaling everyone how this is a community that should pull together. And he uses the various lines he draws to gain some credits to make his main point, that's why the Slymepit is so frequently (and inconsistently) used there. If you pay attention: if this is the community, then the New Humanism gang are it's center. That is what he is saying there. His critique and whining is about how he thinks that the gang might have overreached their hand when they went after Linday and CFI. See, there are already many burned bridges and he senses that they can't keep up the story to be the center of the community, when they alienate all the major organisations.

In a nutshell, the gang wants to have control but have to manage it, otherwise they suddenly might find themselves "out". Their personal animosities or ideological differences are projected onto the entire movement, as they are opinion leaders (in classical Multistep Flow Model), that's more or less why we have the other issues, too, e.g. the Slymepit (PZ Myers/R Watson vs Abbie Smith).

On the Slymepit.

What he writes is transparent and disingenuous. He wants to invite the reasonable Slymepitters to cease fire and come over and accept the New Humanist leadership (since they are the moral high ground and center of community, remember). Which of course is horsecrap, since New Humanist Prime Leader will simply ban everyone with a name in the Slymepit. There is no reintegration programm ‒ not that I want one.

He also vastly exaggerates the importance of the Slymepit. I know that some always expect that one must have big opinions about it, or that it must be somehow so much more. I find this attitude unskeptical and annoying (like with Ron Lindsay's head. The moment people accept that it's even up to debate, they accept their prerogative of interpretation).

Think about it. There are hundreds of people and places and nobody asks you to "go on record" about each of them. Same with other people. This attitude is prone to communication issues, and black/white thinking. Are you with Damion or against him? Wait, why do I have to choose? Then people begin argueing. Didn't Damion did this? Didn't he do that... people talk past each other, you must come out with a definite opinion. The whole idea is a bad idea.

(Damion is only used as an example, of course )

Slymepit is a forum with less than 700 registered users who are all, but one, just that. Vacula included. The one exception is Lsuoma who is the admin, because someone has to. But for all purposes, he's like a normal contributor, even a rather minor one. Compare the 700 with the 6000 downvotes of Carriers video. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to see that something is off with them.

The sole function of the Slymepit for the community is to have a scapegoat which is required to pass the "character test", also thanks to the excellent super-villainous name. Due to paranoia, people must declare their Social Warrior credentials and the fastest way is to make-up reasons why the Slymepit is terrible (there is a small grain of truth, but let's not get carried away, nothing illegal happens, no orchestration of dubious actions happens. When ordinary people have issues with some incident, the Slymepitters usually disagree, too).

I'm now just submitting this stream-of-conciousness (It worked! Grattis, you have read it, thanks for sticking through it), because I wrote similar things a few times, then got stuck, then had no time to finish it properly, then wrote nothing (which annoys me abit).
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Last edited by Aneris; 21-Jun-2013 at 06:24 PM (18:24). Reason: intro
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Old 21-Jun-2013, 09:15 PM (21:15)     5        47376
D4M10N
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneris View Post
Are you with Damion or against him? Wait, why do I have to choose?
YOU MUST CHOOSE.

If you're not with me, Aneris, I'm going to privately weep, publicly denounce you, and excommunicate myself as Discordian Pope.

Seriously, though, thank you for that excellent summary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneris View Post
There is a movement within the movement that is interested in a rebranded humanism, let's call it New Humanism for the moment.
I don't think that the New Humanist label is going to stick, because Humanists are generally kindly and polite, and don't write manifestos against civility and dialogue. Not that labels matter all that much, but I do believe the charitable ethos of Humanism is fundamentally at odds with the callout ethos of the keyboard warriors for social justice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneris View Post
I believe that the whole point of his piece is establishing where the center of the community is.
I believe that has been the whole point of the ongoing clusterfuffle for the last two years or so. It's always been about power and influence. Imagine what would happen if a major atheist organization invited Abbie Smith or Justin Vacula or John Welch to speak? Despite the fact that they are all well-qualified and accomplished public speakers, the usual rageblogs would explode and someone would launch a petition. There is no blacklist, of course, but the organizers must know whom never to invite. The perks and privileges of planes and podiums, hotels rooms and green rooms, and (above all) audience attention must be safely reserved to the elect few who have proven themselves in the callout culture.
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Old 21-Jun-2013, 09:21 PM (21:21)     6        47377
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Thanks for the break-down. I had never heard of the Watson/JREF forum debacle, but I got the impression the DJ Grothe thing started before his comment that certain bloggers were scaring women away from TAM.
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Old 22-Jun-2013, 12:16 AM (00:16)     7        47382
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I hadn't seen this thread yet! I caught wind of JT's heresy from a comment made by Greg Laden (turn off the lights, spin 3 times, chant "Greg Laden" and. don't. look. in the mirror.) where Greg was bemoaning the Old Guard's reluctance to give in to the demands of the young uprising. To my astounded amusement, Laden threw JT in with the Old Guard (I'v got mine Jack!) which makes no earthly sense unless you're judging JT solely on the fact that he doesn't think it's wise or necessary to turn our backs on CFI because of this single event.

I think that JT was positively honest. I don't think that we get this enough. I had no idea that a person as plugged in to this crew of feminists was so scared of writing about feminism. This is further documentation of the purification process happening whereby allies are slowly but surely turned in to enemies because of a minor disagreement with the leaders and mouthpieces. I had somewhat low expectations for JT because he is so close to those people (these feminists are the main contributors to Skepticon, after all) but I was absolutely floored by his measured take on Lindsay. He understood that Lindsay's comments do not exist in a vacuum. Even though we all didn't find anything wrong with what Lindsay said, JT's making the contention that even if you were offended by his speech, you must take his full record on women's rights in to account before making such rash judgments of his character. I loved that.

Of course, JT's characterization of Vacula was absolutely ridiculous. He needs to use the same calculation with JV as he did with Lindsay. JV devotes much of his time working with mentally disabled children and advocating for church/state rights so obviously he's not the most despicable atheist in the world. He's insensitive to others in the movement but he has good intentions, for sure.

Last edited by birdterrifier; 22-Jun-2013 at 12:22 AM (00:22).
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Old 22-Jun-2013, 04:33 AM (04:33)     8        47383
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First time I've ever heard of that guy (I knew JT couldn't mean Justin Timberlake in this context). He certainly does put a lot of effort into that post to not offend his "friends".
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Old 24-Jun-2013, 03:48 PM (15:48)     9        47409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Never View Post
First time I've ever heard of that guy (I knew JT couldn't mean Justin Timberlake in this context). He certainly does put a lot of effort into that post to not offend his "friends".
Wasn't quite enough, as it turns out.
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Old 27-Jun-2013, 12:41 PM (12:41)     10        47436
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdterrifier View Post
I had no idea that a person as plugged in to this crew of feminists was so scared of writing about feminism. This is further documentation of the purification process happening whereby allies are slowly but surely turned in to enemies because of a minor disagreement with the leaders and mouthpieces.
That was what really jumped out at me too. It seems they will throw anyone under the bus who deviates from the party line even slightly, and it also sounded like he was aware of this. I'm not sure how this is going to aid them in building any sort of movement around their goals.
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