• The joke shall never die

    Photo © 2013 by Damion Reinhardt. All Rights Reserved.
    Photo © 2013 by Greg Lammers. 

    Over at B&W, there has been a bit of a kerfuffle over a photo taken earlier today. Last I checked, I am barred from commenting over there, but I do feel that Jacques Rousseau deserves a response:

    Chas – you and Damion (the fellow on the right, for those who don’t know) are surely being needlessly provocative here? Even if you believe you’re on the side of the right (which I’m not conceding), this is a simple playground barb. And it’s too soon to be ironic about either the Slymepit, or Elevatorgate, though I don’t think that’s what you were intending. In short, there’s no chance that this can raise the level of discourse, and there’s no chance that – if your interpretation of history, or position on how people should respond to it, is correct – that this will result in changing anyone’s mind in favour of your view.

    The t-shirts may indeed have been needlessly provocative, in that context, and I would be happy to hash that question out at some length. If you care to make the case that posting at the Pit (or admitting to doing so in public) is somehow inherently provocative or otherwise morally valanced, I’d be quite happy to hear you out. That said, the shirts are totally incidental to the photo. What happened here was that we wanted to have a picture taken with some of our friends from Tulsa before we all went our separate ways. We posed against the nearest available wall, because we didn’t want a confusing background featuring people milling about. Smile. Click. That’s it. That is all that happened.

    No one in that photo was talking about elevators, Elevatorgate, or any of the usual hot topics. No one even noticed that we were standing directly beneath what turned out to be the largest elevator notice sign in the Midwest. This may have been, in retrospect, an unfortunate coincidence, but it is what it is.

    As to raising the level of discourse, I agree that this is a worthy goal. How is blogging and commenting about a tweeted photo going to do that? I have no idea. Would it not be far better to simply allow people to take whatever photographs they like with their friends and avoid rage-blogging about it?


    Category: SlymePit

    Article by: Damion Reinhardt

    Former fundie finds freethought fairly fab.
    • SkepticismFirst

      It’s a nice picture. And really – it’s just a picture. Who cares what fools think? Tbh, certain people have fallen completely off my radar in the past few months. I just can’t bring myself to care about this silliness.

      • I do care about what Jacques thinks. As to the other commenters, I don’t expect they would listen if I got everyone present to fill out affidavits.

    • It might be purely coincidence when you took the picture, but you will have a hard time convincing anyone that you made it public by mere coincidence and you somehow didn’t notice the references in it. However, I like it. I’m just pointing out that you have to own that one.

      But making fun of the situation is in some way the hallmark of the Slymepit and it runs counter to the Appeals to Fear used by the Social Justice League of Benson and Co. Other than that, normally, making fun of a situation after some time is a sign of healing. Those people don’t want to heal or improve anything, they are bitter misanthropes and their hatred is apparent in their comment sections. I think eventually everyone else (but them) will realize it and move on. Otherwise the Atheist Movement is not worth supporting.

      • How does one go about owning a bizarre coincidence? I will freely admit that the photo looks staged. That said, it simply wasn’t. Ask Greg Lammers, or anyone else present. This is making a mountain out of an anthill.

      • For example by not apologizing for it, by pointing out it was just a coincidence. You can take photos where you want and owe nobody an explanation. It further shows how far we’ve come. Now those authoritarian censor-meisters create flak around things that have nothing to do with them and which has zero implications. I’m very curious to read what this Jaques has to say about it. He better comes up with a very good story.

    • Even if it had been staged, who freakin cares? Why is this even something that belongs in a blog? She demands respect for her writing and her network and this is the stuff that drives her? It’s not hurting anyone. It’s not even a “barb” as its describe by Rousseau. Even if it were staged, it’s just be an inside joke amongst friends. What is she trying to accomplish by her post?

      I find it more funny that you’re wearing a Slymepit shirt seeing as how you’ve been the biggest critic of the nastier people that have posted there.

      • I find it more funny that you’re wearing a Slymepit shirt seeing as how you’ve been the biggest critic of the nastier people that have posted there.

        Thank the gods someone caught the humor in that. 🙂

      • 5ulman

        The first thing I thought when I saw the photo was “why is Damion wearing a Slymepit t-shirt?” I understood you don’t have a lot of love for the place. The reaction at the ‘pit was a mixture of amusement and bemusement, I suspect because it appeared to come out of nowhere.I guess with perspective it would not have made any difference who wore the shirts; the reaction would have had similar hostile character because the individuals don’t really matter, just the supposed ‘message’.

      • I’ve been around the Pit since the beginning, when it was just a thread at ERV’s blog. I admire their opposition to the “social justice” callout culture. I admire much of the genuinely insightful humor and satire you can find therein, I disdain the hateful personal attacks, and I have to constantly bear in mind that not everyone draws the lines in the same place.

      • 5ulman

        That’s fair enough. The whole thing reminded me of Spinal Tap actually. I thought that if the worst excesses of the Slymepit had really gone to town, just imagine…”You should have seen what they wanted to do. There weren’t any t-shirts, I can tell you.”

    • Eshto

      Who cares. Why do people care.

      • Serious answer? Because social justice has become an online massively multiplayer word game about finding some way to take umbrage on behalf of a sacralized victim group.

      • Eshto

        Good answer. I know. It’s not helping any minority achieve equality. It might boost blog hits for certain drama mongers with nothing useful to write about though.

      • ThePrussian


    • Paul Loebe

      Seriously?!? This is fucking stupid! Is that what atheism has come to? Fuck me! I’m so sick of this bullshit. I guess the creationists win via elevatorgate or what the fuck ever…

      Do any of the fuckwits in this community realize there are REAL problems that can affect the legality of religion in NO-SHIT legislation in Congress today? I mean….come the fuck on!…

      Blah. Fuck both sides of this argument…

      • Several of the speakers at Skepticon (where this photo was taken) did a pretty good job of focusing on the real issues, including the religious right’s various attacks on secularism and various other human rights issues.

      • You are saying we should be thankful that the speakers didn’t used up their time to talk about their hatemail and attributing them to random people they don’t like? That’s awesome news. Yay, Atheist Movement.

      • What I’m saying was summed up by Silverman some time ago on Twitter — #StillAllies

    • An Ardent Skeptic

      iPhoto is your friend…(although I must say it’s a poor quality photo since everyone is blurry). I did try to sharpen the image but it didn’t help much.

      Edit 1 is a straightening and crop.
      Edit 2 is a straightening and retouch.

      • An Ardent Skeptic

        Sorry the way the shots have posted in my comment:

        Edit 1 is the straightening and retouch
        Edit 2 is the straightening and crop

    • To be honest, I didn’t even notice what the t-shirts said when I first saw the photo. Damn bad eyesight and all! I just thought the photo was funny because it made me think of all that Elevatorgate nonsense and how I wouldn’t have been able to go near an elevator at an atheist conference without thinking about it.

      Now that I see what is written on the shirts, I can’t say that my impression of the photo is any different. Wearing those t-shirts to the conference does seem a bit provocative (assuming that the person seeing it does not know about your record of criticism of the Pit), but I do believe we are supposed to be freethinkers. I’m not sure why it is okay to be provocative only when it comes to religion. If a shirt like that makes people think, even challenges them a bit, I’d say it should be welcomed.

    • ThePrussian

      Dammit, man! Don’t you know that the gentleman only ever insults people on purpose?

      I like that shot. Want a copy. 🙂

      • For what it’s worth, we weren’t trying to insult anyone. I’ve never said an unkind word about Watson, or Benson, or whomever it is that hopes to take umbrage today.

    • Yeah the tshirts were a dare but i also wanted to do it. I wanted to
      prove that one can be a self identified Slimepitter but still attend and enjoy
      a con like Skepticon. – Chas Steward (at FTB/Butterflies&Wheels)

      Chas probably didn’t mean that wearing a shirt impairs enjoying a con. He probably wanted to find out in which way the perceptions and “rift” issue transfer to real life. Since Myers and Co are known to be meek in person and shy of conflicts, but furious and even more combative online, I hazard the guess that it went as expected.

      • He probably wanted to find out in which way the perceptions and “rift” issue transfer to real life.

        I’m not going to speak on behalf of Chas, but what you wrote here was a huge factor for me. Aside from a couple of stink-eyed stare-downs, nothing remotely bad happened in real life. Quite predictably, though, the usual digital umbrage brigadiers picked up the story. And by “story” I mean someone tweeting a photo that would be completely innocuous when shown to anyone who hasn’t compulsively followed the schism, which is almost everyone in either the skeptic or atheist movement.

    • That’s about it. The leap from having a difference of opinion to misogyny seems incredibly wide to some of us. Of course, our not being able to see the connection just proves there is a connection. amirite?