If you happen to be plugged into the community, then you might (or perhaps might not) be aware that strong words have been exchanged by various individuals. The problem is that words have meaning and so there are consequences when such words are exchanged.
Michael Nugent, the chair of Atheist Ireland, is a good guy, I can personally vouch for his integrity and decency and so when a rather well-know blogger, PZ Myers, proceeded to deploy false accusations, Mr Nugent very patiently attempted to engage, pointed out that the accusations were not factual, and politely requested a withdrawal and an apology multiple times. It never came, and instead the rhetoric continued, so this has now happened …
Is that an over the top response, or appropriate? Well, here is how Mr Nugent explains it …
He said Richard Dawkins ‘seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children’ and ‘has been eaten by brain parasites’, Michael Nugent is ‘the Irish wanker’ and a ‘demented fuckwit’, Ann Marie Waters is a ‘nutter’, Russell Blackford is a ‘lying fuckhead’, Bill Maher’s date at an event was ‘candy to decorate [her sugar daddy’s] arm in public’, Ben Radford is a ‘revolting narcissistic scumbag’ and his lawyer is ‘J Noble Dogshit’, Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor and Bill Maher are ‘assholes’, and Abbie Smith and her ‘coterie of slimy acolytes’ are ‘virtual non-entities’. He called Irish blogger ZenBuffy a ‘narcissistic wanker,’ after she said she has experienced mental illness.
He described Robin Williams’ suicide as ‘the death of a wealthy white man dragging us away from news about brown people’, said that a white lady who made racist comments ‘looks like the kind of person who would have laughed at nanu-nanu’, then added: ‘I’m mainly feeling that I should have been more rude, because asking me to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is completely missing the point’. He said of other dead people that Charles Darwin was a ‘sexist asshat’, Richard Feynman was a ‘reprehensible asshole’, and Christopher Hitchens was a ‘bloodthirsty barbarian’ and a ‘club-carrying primitive’.
So yes, I do get it, if that is the tone of the dialog, then “Not on our stage” is indeed an appropriate reply.
The Drama Cascades and ripples outwards
- Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, reported the stance taken by Michael Nugent.
- Rebecca Watson responds to that with the false claim that Hemant Mehta endorses a hate forum.
- Ron Lindsay from CFI responds to that by pointing out that the accusation promoted by Rebecca Watson is false.
Meanwhile the various Facebook posts and twitter feeds are abuzz with the chatter.
… and now …
We believe the secular movement should stop rewarding those who cause discord. Why are “shock jock” bloggers invited to lecture at major secular conferences? Freedom of speech is a confusing issue, but it means that each person can speak freely through his or her own channel. It does not mean that angry voices have a right to dominate unmoderated discussions on our own Facebook pages and forums.
.. and that perhaps best sums things up in so many ways. It is indeed wise to focus on those that are working for the things that truly matter, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, social justice, an end to religious intolerance and discrimination, and not to permit those that distract from such things to dominate our thinking.