Adam Lee isn’t the only one laying down terms, we also have this much shorter set of conditions from Stephanie Zvan:
What are my terms? Any participant from that “side” renounces the slime pit.
I inadvertently sprayed out some of my beer upon reading this, because it sounded so reminiscent of the Catholic christening ceremony, in which participants are asked to “renounce Satan and all of his works” in order to validate themselves in the eyes of the Sancta Mater Ecclesia. The longstanding narrative within the Pit is that they are continually vilified as Satanic for propagandistic reasons, as noted here:
Concoct a vile and powerful Satan looking to destroy your group, and the members will not only unite under you, but become even more ready to eat your bullshit, and even more hostile towards any outside influence. It’s the perfect tool for any demagogue to solidify their power and influence.
At this point, I should probably back up and provide a brief history of the Slime Pit, or That Which Must Be Renounced if one hopes to join to the ranks of Svan’s better opponents. The original slime pit thread kicked off on July 1st, 2011, and I first joined in four days later in the second of six threads. The whole collection of ERV threads criticizing PZ et. al. was first christened as the “pit o’slime” by one of the commenters on the original Butterflies and Wheels website a few weeks later, about one week prior to the auspicious launch of Freethought Blogs. This makes for the bizarre situation in which the loyal opposition coalesced somewhat prior to announcement of the new ruling party.
The opinion leaders over at Freethought Blogs did not relish the idea of having any sort of dedicated opposition, so they began a campaign to have the slime pit threads taken down, which consisted primarily of harassing Abbie Smith by contacting her employers and blog hosts. This campaign culminated in the equivalent of a massive digital book-burning, as all six threads (16.6 megabytes from countless diverse contributors) were taken down from the web, and Greg Laden received an ovation from the Skepchick crowd for having lighted the pyre.
It was at this point that I finally realized what we are up against as freethinkers. These are not opponents who hope merely to persuade us to conscientiously avoid threatening language or personal attacks (as we surely should) or who hope merely to tamp down disagreement and dissent. These are people who actively applaud the wholesale elimination of entire threads from shared digital spaces, because those threads contain some objectionable material interlarded within reams upon reams of dissent. They are, in a word, fundamentalists, looking for an excuse to suppress anyone who dares speak out against the received wisdom.
Naturally, high hopes for total suppression are bound to be let down in the digital age. Not only did Scented Nectar create an archive of the old threads, but a level-headed fellow called Lsuoma created a replacement forum which had steadily gained in membership and popularity as those driven out of the Freethought Blogs and Atheism Plus threads have sought out a please to voice their opinions without getting hit with the one-two punch of dog-pile followed by moderation. It is that new forum which has taken on the mantle of a vile and powerful Satan which must be renounced.
Enough history, back to the question at hand. Shall I renounce the SlymePit for the chance to have a sit down with Zvan herself? I have to admit that it’s just a bit tempting. I’m not particularly partisan about where I post, and I’d be completely content to move on to another forum. That said, I require clarification on what exactly a fully qualifying renouncement must entail. Do I have to honestly believe that the SlymePit should be completely shut down, as Greg and Stephanie appear to believe? Must I enthusiastically applaud when the bytes are consigned to the bit-bucket?
If so, it’s a no-go.
I will happily renounce every comment designed to mock individuals for their appearance or sexuality instead of their bad ideas. I’ll renounce personal attacks in general as both needlessly hurtful and generally ineffective. I’ll go beyond renunciation to condemn outright anything that resembles fantasy violence or threats. However, I cannot honestly say that the Pit should cease to be. It plays host to many insightful diatribes, many effective (relatively impersonal) satires, and countless honest conversations in which skepticism is allowed truly free range over subjects such as feminism and gender relations.
So here is my counter-offer to Stephanie: Renounce any and all attempts to hinder free speech and free thought. Publicly apologize for supporting Laden in his digital book-burning campaign against Slime Pit 1.0 and declare that the Slyme Pit should be allowed to exist in its current form, under its current rules. Renounce your efforts to prevent known ‘Pitters and others falsely accused of misogyny from obtaining positions of responsibility and leadership in the movement.
Do all that, Stephanie, and I’ll gladly leave the Pit and come to the table. Having done so, of course, I would not be representative of anyone but myself. Feel free to DM me on Twitter if you have any questions.