I’m sure you’ve seen all the sturm und drang over Freethought Blogs being a cesspool of bullying and thought-policing hive-mindery. Despite this, a few people outside the network have voiced their support of people inside the network, and are picking off the worst lines of argumentation that people are using to try claim that we’re dogmatic bullies who do not tolerate dissent. What catalyzed this show of support? Why no less than Paula Kirby calling us all Feminazis and Femistasi (Ophelia’s take on that nonsense).
And where the hell is Orac to shout down this particular Godwinning?
It’s really great to know that some fantastic writers are not letting this slide, even though they’re not personally the ones being targeted. Several of them below the fold.
Now, clearly my opinion is just that: personal, subjective, an opinion. But for all the accusations of throwing their weight around, there’s a reason FtB has weight: it’s extremely popular. None of these people have to read it, and I’m not asking you to read it if you’re reading this. In fact, I’m not even asking you to like it.
But it’s obvious large numbers of people do like it. Over five thousand, according to Facebook. And while, contrary to some of what Paula suggested, no one who disagrees is being stopped from saying so, I think it’s time FtB-lovers sent in some support – because while it’s easy to be negative on the internet, especially on sarcasm-positive social networks like Twitter, sticking up for people is important.
tigtog of Hoyden About Town reposts a comment xe left at Ophelia’s, with this lead-in context paragraph:
In a truly rational world, it might be possible to substantively and productively explore the pros and cons of competing positions in good faith and reach a nuanced understanding and a mutually satisfying path forward. Unfortunately the “don’t give disproportionate emphasis to sexism” side has basically been hijacked by a bunch of bad faith contrarians who advocate never ever listening to women because women be lying because that’s what bitchez do amiright. These are the folks who’ve “excessively emphasised” the issue of sexist misbehaviour by continually stirring the pot, and this week a post on the FreeThoughtBlogs.com network from Justin Griffiths outlined exactly how this has been going down (mostly indirectly via contrarians’ now-I’m-using-my-reasonable-voice comments which have now been deleted). In short, for a large number of the noisiest pot-stirrers the whole meltdown is just an exercise in 4chan-style gamesmanship, where they get to bask in their supposed superior rationality as shown by the way that they can disrupt discussions and spark off flamewars by stating positions they claim not to truly hold, because they’re just making a point (that well-know close relation of JAQing Off).
And direct allies aren’t the only ones countering the “you people are bullies” memetics — Atheist Logic fisks that Kirby open letter with aplomb.
Now I don’t really have a problem with namecalling when you’re trying to make an emotional appeal. I don’t have an issue with terms like “anti-choice” or “idiot” when you’re just trying to get in a quick jab at the person you’re arguing with. But when it comes to “nazi”, can’t we at least agree that that’s a little extreme? You don’t win argument points by pointing wildly at something bad and saying “YOU’RE JUST LIKE THEM!” (complete with caps-lock). Nazis killed millions of people in an attempt to exterminate entire segments of the human population. Kirby is arguing against a group of people whose “crimes” are literally things like saying “Guys, don’t do that“, or that sexual harassment is a thing that happens sometimes. The thing about analogies is that they should scale properly. Comparing people saying words to other people killing millions is more than a little bit out-of-sync. On top of which, 99% of the time that you compare your opponent to Nazis, you’ve already lost the argument: it’s just not a point that people tend to respect.
But! (says Kirby) we’re not comparing them to actual Nazis, but rather to a general notion of Nazisim “used to simply mean ‘extremist’ or ‘obsessive’”.
And Rebecca Watson weaves together a few of the weirdest bits of anti-feminist thought from various quarters of the skeptic-and-atheist blogospheres:
[I]t just continues to amaze me that these clueless misogynists haven’t even figured out how to camouflage their hatred. Like, you assholes do know that Rush Limbaugh came up with the clever epithet “feminazi,” right? Rush Limbaugh, the guy who hates women so much that he spent hours yelling about how Sandra Fluke is literally a filthy whore because she thinks that birth control is medicine that should be covered by health insurance.
And lest you think she just used the term “feminazi” out of pure ignorance about what feminism is or what a Nazi is or what a Rush Limbaugh is, she actually doubled down with even more hilarious slurs, specifically created to express her individuality from Limbaugh[…]
It’s really nice to know we’re not taking this so-called-friendly fire, from people within the skeptic and atheist communities, alone. It still amazes me that the people doing the most bullying of ideas they don’t agree with, are the ones calling us bullies. Is it a case of “attack your opponent’s strengths to make them look like weaknesses”?
I mean, what is this strategy really? I’m not asking rhetorically — someone explain what these people think they’re accomplishing, please.
And all over a harassment policy campaign that we’ve basically already won.
Hmm. Maybe THAT’S it. Maybe they’re just being sore losers.