• “Atheism +”, or “The unbelievable” part 1

    “Unbelievers you call yourselves?  Unbelievable, I call you!”

    – Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, “Of the Land of Education” (my translation and edit)

      1.  The Watson Saga

    I will start my j’accuse’ with a photograph and a story.  The photograph shows Rebecca Watson and her friend – I presume it’s her friend – graphically licking a toy beaver.  Licking beaver.  Laughing yet?  Me neither.

    The story comes from an “Amazing Meeting” where Watson decided that the right theme for the “skepchicks” party was a Wild West Bordello.  One person decided to complain about this as demeaning and was promptly denounced as a “prude”, “feminazi”, etc.

    Bear the above in mind, and believe me when I say that I could expand it considerably,going into Watson’s nude calender, her naked profile pictures, her writing ‘Fuck you pussies’ on friends chests etc.  The question is not whether Watson is a vulgar exhibitionist, trading on her sex as a substitute for intelligence on a level that makes Sarah Palin seem a model of probity, because she plainly is.  The question is: why is she being taken seriously when she comes up with lines like this:

    it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

    Now anyone even vaguely cognizant with “elevatorgate” will recognize the above as part of the uninteresting and self-pitying video that Watson posted after some poor sap offered her coffee.  As most will know, this would have vanished without a trace were it not for the fact that Richard Dawkins, viewing the relentless fawning over this nonevent posted the famous “Dear Muslima” comment:

     

      Dear Muslima
    Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
    Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …
    And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
    Richard

     

    A Danish chum of mine likes the saying that it’s inadvisable to “stir the shit”.  With these words Dawkins did that, breaking the crust and releasing a fetid cloud of self-pity that over a year would condense and dribble back down as “Atheism +”  During this year, buckets of slime were emptied over far better women, like Abbie Smith and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, there were calls to blacklist and ostracize Dawkins and Penn Jilette, TAM was compared with Nazi Germany by that savant Ophelia Benson, there were calls for the resignation of D.J. Grothe and Justin Vacula.

    I should first like to speak to the thuggish calls for resignation.  This stuff is quite familiar to me.  A few weeks ago, the Harvard economist Niall Ferguson, having written an article titled “Hit the road Barack”,  found himself on the end of a similar campaign.

    Ferguson and Dawkins are intellectual giants and completely immune to such pettiness (something realized even by this crowd, with Watson quickly writing that her public declaration that she would never buy another book of Dawkins’ was in no way a call for a boycott, perish the thought, and Ophelia Benson referencing his work after joining in the declaration that Atheism Plus needed no Old White Men…).  However, note what the Galahads and Lancelots of A+ decided to do to someone less immune, namely Miss Smith.  The same group reduced to rent clothes and piteous wailing whenever anything mean is said of any of their ranks with a spare X chromosome (the odious Greta Christina endlessly trawls the web for any reference to her looks as substandard, and faithfully reproduces and preserves such tributes), this same group decided to empty vial upon vial of excrement on Miss Smith, and then blacklisted her, and then one of its members went further, writing to her University and trying to get her fired.  The only comment from the errant knights was that this “crossed a line”, somewhat tepid in comparison to their usual discourse.

    Why this difference in treatment?

    I think I can guess.  Miss Smith first fell into disrepute when P.Z. Myers started moaning that there were insufficient women in the skeptic scene.  Abbie wrote that she was horrified by the idea that she had been asked to participate in the “scienceblogs” community because of her ovaries rather than her ideas.  It will surprise no one that this is the opposite from the stance taken by Watson.

    This little incident is the key.  A person of accomplishment hates the idea of being judged by physical characteristics; a person of mediocrity craves it.  It might wrongly be supposed that there is a contradiction between Watson’s vulgar self-promotion and her hysterical pseudo-feminism; in fact, they are the same.  They are two ways of trading on her sex, since she fears above all being judged for her ideas and achievements.  People like her crave an automatic acceptance based on physical characteristics, and desperately needs to be assured that any contempt is because of her sex rather than her mediocrity. Conversely, Smith, a fully fledged scientist, revolted at the idea of being reduced to her meat rather than her mind.

    Now why is such a person as Watson venerated by the A+?  The same principle applies; to a man of chronic insecurity, one living in fear of his own irredeemable pointlessness, a person, and above all a woman, of earned pride and real achievement is someone to be feared and hated, for her existence is a challenge and a threat.  Conversely, a nonentity who has nothing to offer beyond the physical can be idolized safely.  This is why in the FtB poll of the most important female atheist, Watson receives ten times the votes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a statement of stark, staring insanity by all other lights.

    This veneration of the physical over the mental could only appear in a movement that was bankrupt on mental terms (no person of self-esteem wants to be praised for bodily structure!).  I will explore the antecedents of this in part 2, when I will autopsy what passes for Myers’s mind…

    Category: atheismSkepticism

    Article by: The Prussian

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    • Ohhh, I can’t wait to read part two. Nice blogpost!

    • Chas Stewart

      There were some new information in this post but mostly this is just gathering up old excrement and slathering that around in this massive shit pile we call ElevatorGate. If you want to partake in this then you become no better than Ophelia Benson.

      • Jeff Hansen

        Not really. Noticing something wrong & complaining isn’t the same as actually perpetrating it.

        • Chas Stewart

          I don’t know what Ophelia has perpetrated except complain about every single slight.

          • bluharmony

            I don’t know about others; but I know that I’ve been seriously hurt by her specifically and a few of her cohorts. In a way that can’t easily be remedied. Not ever, I don’t think.

            • ThePrussian

              *growls* That is exactly why I got into this. I would have just ignored them, but too many good people have been hurt. Stay tuned…

    • Copyleft

      Good, rational overview of the setup to this silliness. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • First I thought this article was from 2010 given the subject matter, then the bizarre tenuous link to A+? Where on the A+ forum is Rebecca Watson ‘venerated’? I recently joined up there and my daily prostration schedule and compass calibrated to point to RW regardless of where she is in the world was sadly missing. Or is this something only 10th level A+’ers have revealed to them?

      The ‘Skeptic’ in the name of this network is not very apparent. Maybe all with be revealed in the next part along with some evidence of the A+’ers crazy love for all things Rebecca?But you do realise she is not even a member? And only wrote one post on the subject with some criticism but overall fairly positive about A+? Here’s waiting sceptically for the next post ;-)

      • ThePrussian

        I am aware of it; but A+ is part of a broader phenomenon which I am getting into. A+ emerges out of this reeking self-pity. Stay tuned for the next instalment.

        • Indeed, I’ve been getting the impression that FTB and Skepchick have been distancing themselves from the A+ forum as of late, with one high profile social justice warrior suggesting “A+ can go fuck themselves” in a conversation with Rebecca Watson, no less. It must leave the A+ regulars feeling more than a bit let down, since it’s largely made up of the more trolly kind of social justice warrior that FTB and Skepchick had been giving nothing but encouragement to. I’m sure underneath it all, Myers, Watson, and the like consider the APlussers to be useful idiots to be unleashed or disowned as circumstances might dictate.

          • bluharmony

            Spot-on again. I feel nothing but pity for the A-Plussers; it is, after all, what they’re seeking.

          • zenspace

            Agreed. I’ve seen signs of the distancing in more subtle ways as well – fewer former very public supporters are commenting on or referencing the group at all.

            Membership growth has slowed to a bare trickle and I haven’t seen more than 18 members engaged in weeks in my occasional peeks at the site. I wonder how many of the registered members are even active anymore. Can’t be many.

            Care to share the source on the ‘high profile social justice warrior’?

            • I think the “high profile” part might be off, but it’s somebody A+ regards as an ally – Rhys Morgan. Threads, from about a month ago, here:

              https://twitter.com/rhysmorgan/statuses/255355075587891200
              http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1845

              Ophelia Benson, of all people, pretty much agrees with him. I also saw him reiterate the point in another thread with Rebecca Watson, though I couldn’t track that down as easily.

              That somebody like Ophelia Benson is disowning these people is beyond ironic, considering these are the very people and the very kind of atmosphere that Benson and the other more militant FTB blogs encouraged.

              More alibis out of these people. First they nitpick if you point at FTB, because “there’s over 30 FTB blogs”. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but we all know who the high traffic ones that more or less of define FTB are. Then they distance themselves from AtheismPlus only a month after launching it. Total smoke and mirrors, and responsibility is always evaded.

            • zenspace

              Thanks. That was both more than I expected and more than I bargained for. Jeez. I need to go shower now…

          • Chas Stewart

            I hope that they have at least a modicum of shame for what they have wrought.

      • CommanderTuvok

        “I recently joined [A+] up there”

        Pharyngula, Ophelia’s, and now A+. You really are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you, slimy one.

        “But you do realise she is not even a member?”

        We know. Why would Rebecca waste her time away from her cash cow that is Skepchick. For she is Queen Bee, and A+ is beneath her.

        Anyway, have fun over at A+, you have a thing for sinking ships, Oolon.

        • The pit is sinking? I suppose it has no where near the membership… Never fear I’ll keep posting there just to keep you happy.

    • Ronlawhouston

      Yikes! Without commenting on the substance, your tone was certainly uncompromising and in my opinion almost brutal. I’m not being critical since that may have been your intent, but I was just giving you a third person perspective.

      • zenspace

        Yikes is right! That said, it may stand as one of the more concise and accurate descriptions of the overall scene as any I’ve read. Can’t wait for part deux.

    • BTW, in the past I haven’t gotten behind the animus against Watson, particularly around Elevatorgate. The whole thing was a tempest in a teapot – neither the guy’s actions nor Watson’s initial reaction was worth all the virtual ink spilled (and still being spilled) over it. Of course, the fact that people on both sides treated it as the modern equivalent of the Dreyfuss affair and drew lines accordingly is what really inflated the whole thing. And, sadly, one of the things it inflated was Rebecca Watson’s ego and her role as “feminist bitch” (and I’m quoting her directly on that label) of the atheist milieu. The sad thing is that she’s been able to peddle her tale of supposed oppression by the “misogynist” atheist community to larger venues like Slate, and have that story trumpeted without criticism by the mainstream media. Ditto for the established secularist organizations she’s been lobbying.

      • bluharmony

        Yes, one again, you hit the nail on the head.

    • zenspace

      “above all a woman, of earned pride and real achievement is someone to be feared and hated, for her existence is a challenge and a threat.”

      This.

      I often wondered at the absence of women of real accomplishment in this so-called feminist movement. I think you hit the bull’s-eye perfectly here.

    • Peter

      God, sorry, this so repetitive and boring. Are there not other issues out there or is this so-called “community obsessed with one issue? That’s all you read in various forums. Get over it and move on.

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    • Justin Christopher Pursley

      Excellent post. Absolutely brilliant.