Mythicist Milwaukee in Their Own Words

Callie Wright of The Gaytheist Manifesto released an extra edition of the podcast this week. In it, she speaks with the organizers of Mythicist Milwaukee’s conference being held this weekend about their decision to invite YouTube anti-feminist (anti-Sarkeesian, Gamergater) “Sargon of Akkad” (Carl Benjamin) to speak at their conference.

It’s not a friendly interview. Callie challenges them on nearly everything they have to say. In response, they say…anything, really. They brought him in as an entertainer. They want to settle the record on him. These are conversations already being had, so why not on their stage. People are bored with atheism. We don’t know what’s in his heart. He’s not really as bad as people say. He does a bunch of dry stuff talking about political philosophy.

This seems to be the most straightforward statement of their position:

He has a huge platform. He’s wildly successful in his own right. Why not Sargon? I understand what you’re saying about Twitter and all these other things, but guess what. There’s been entertainers that troll each other all the time. That’s just the way the world goes.

Also known as, we don’t really care what he did.

Callie did a great job pointing out false equivalencies and attempts to stray from the topic. There are a few things I want to add, though.

I don’t think we have the authority to police what happens everywhere.

Nobody is asking them to police things that happen elsewhere. People are pointing out that history is a pretty good indication of future behavior. If you don’t want harassment at your event, it makes very little sense to invite someone with a history of inciting harassment. I’ve run conferences. I ran one where someone’s stalker showed up. We didn’t say, “Oh, but he hasn’t stalked you here yet.” We dealt with the problem in the way we thought would best keep the stalkee and our other attendees safe.

What other conference has been talked about this much?

The Amazing Meeting. TAM was talked about rather a lot for how they handled attendee safety, and their attendance declined as a result. Then it came out that organizers knew Michael Shermer had been accused of raping a volunteer at one of their conferences, and TAM died. Not all publicity is good publicity. Also, if your purpose as a conference is merely to be big, stop.

The more you talk online, the more likely it is you’re going to say something childish and foolish, something you didn’t mean to.

I’ve never told someone I wouldn’t even rape them. That isn’t a thing children say. It’s a political tactic to shut down certain positions, as the organizers themselves admit later when they say they don’t know the positions of the MP involved. And if someone says something that uses the threat of rape for political purposes, the vast, overwhelming majority of us would not turn around and put that person onstage.

Regarding the conference organizers being harassed, it’s possible. That isn’t what they’re describing in the podcast, though. If you want me to believe you’ve been harassed, you need to not tell me inciting harassment is just like doing bad standup. You also need to accurately represent the calls to your venue saying your “entertainers” make their living inciting harassment, instead of calling them threats. Additionally, being called a “rape apologist” because you’re equating inciting rape threats with comedy pieces that don’t go well is not harassment.

Sargon/Carl did apologize to Laci Green at VidCon. He also rounded up a large crew of people to attend a panel Anita Sarkeesian was on. VidCon organizers issued an apology for that.

This year, we had a contingent of attendees (some who paid, some who snuck in with fake passes) who had been either perpetrators of this harassment, or had, for years, watched as the outrage they cultivated resulted in followers doxxing, harassing, intimidating, and even threatening the lives of the creators on these panels.

It is difficult to imagine that this group of people (who are aware that their channels have been base-camps for years of harassment of some of our panelists) did not realize that their arriving early to fill up the three front rows of a panel was going to be intimidating. In any case, it looked like intentional intimidation to most people in attendance, and the panelists were understandably on edge throughout the discussion.

If Mythicist Milwaukee organizers are aware of the first, they should be aware of the second. They didn’t mention it.

Long story short, this interview demonstrates the complete lack of a consistent rationale behind inviting Sargon/Carl beyond selling tickets. Listen to the interview if you were in any doubt.

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Mythicist Milwaukee in Their Own Words

11 thoughts on “Mythicist Milwaukee in Their Own Words

  1. 1

    People are bored with atheism.

    “bored” isn’t the word i’d use here. frustrated, angry, burned out, tired, etc. seem more accurate.

    tho i suppose there’s definitely people who are bored with the standard non-sjw-atheist topics: god fake, religion bad, atheists smart

  2. 3

    i sometimes forget that a lot of the Atheist Movement is the non-sjw part of it. i find our sjw atheist topics still very interesting and we’re not going to run out anytime soon i don’t think.

  3. 5

    I am pretty disgusted at this point with the atheist “community”/”movement” (for lack of better words). Here I am, an author of atheist children’s books, but they would rather give that spot to a sexist, racist, pig. Am I bitter and petty in my reasoning? Yep and I don’t care. They talk about his “following”, but crazy always has a audience. How about giving an audience to people who can actually put atheism in a GOOD light and not give fodder to the nay-sayers? Atheists in the eye of the general public are already seen as “heathens” and having a guy like Carl be in the spotlight at a convention does nothing to quash those perceptions.

  4. 6

    Even if you talked to these nitwits for hours, they would never have a good enough answer. Because the fact is, there is no good reason to invite Sargon to an atheist conferences. He’s divisive, he’s openly practiced intimidation and harassment (the sort that every woman has experienced at least once or twice online, whether they realize it as such or acknowledge it as such or not), and has done absolutely nothing to prove he’s deserving of this floral carpet of welcome MM is throwing out for him.

    Sargon doesn’t think logically, he doesn’t know how to reason or debate in good faith or construct a semi-coherent argument in response to literally any challenges people throw at him and his hollow, hateful viewpoints; he resorts to doxxing and threats when he knows he’s outclassed. TL;DR: He is a trashcan person of the first order and has absolutely no business attending any atheist conferences.

    But yet, despite all of this, he’s still receiving a much warmer welcome than I ever did in the community, and warmer than most other women, LGBT folks and people of color have received. The fact that MM and their supporters don’t get why that’s fucked up means they aren’t so hot at being skeptics, themselves.

  5. 7

    My perception for a while is that Mythicist Milwaukee is really in denial & scrabbling at anything to justify to themselves that their conference is going really well.

  6. 8

    Something that really angered me about the interview would be how often the MM guys relied on false equivalences. Even beyond the Eli Bosnick mention, it was, “If you don’t like harrassment, what about the harrassment WE got for announcing this?” and, “If you don’t like controversial performers, what about Bill Maher?” It just proved they weren’t listening to the arguments Callie was making—just waiting for a gotcha moment. Hell, the Bill Maher thing came after she distinctly mentioned Maher was controversial, but would be a better potential guest because he’s more than just controversial. It was so maddening!

    And the Bosnick thing was a low fucking blow. That argument wasn’t any different from the one they tried with Maher. They just wanted to goad Callie because of her friendship with Eli. I honestly had a hard time believing they entered this debate in good faith after that crack.

  7. 9

    It really bugs me that the behavior of the Asshole Atheist community has tarnished the necessary Atheism 101 work that a lot of deconverts and baby atheists really need. And that so many people think there should be a firewall between social justice work and atheist advocacy work. Ideally they should go hand in hand.
    Us old folks may be bored with the “god isn’t real” grunt work, but we should be careful not to cede that work to the Dawkins fanboy crowd.

  8. Ann
    10

    I’m a transgender woman over 50 that has used the label atheist since 18. I find now, I call myself secular because I don’t want to associate with the label anymore due to awful behavior of prominent atheists.

    Being an out transgender woman has brought me a lot of harassment,ridicule, stares and myriad discrimination.

    I’m so tired of this platforming of atheists that treat others as garbage and the people that do this act as if this is bettering the world with atheism.

    It is not. It is praising horrible people who use the lable atheist. And is discarding the good atheists. The idea that atheism has nothing to do with social justice issues is false.

    A majority of social justice problems are very much the direct cause of terrible religious ideas. ” God hates transgender and gay people”, women should be rulled by men, etc”.

    For several years I struggled with deep fears of attending atheist groups, because I never knew if I would be safe or comfortable.

    I found a secular group in my area that made it very clear that all people are welcome as long as they treat others with love and compassion.

    MM-
    Clearly does not care if people like me feel welcome.
    Unless an atheist organization explicitly welcomes marginalized people and states that, clearly using all the labels(so I know,it means me too.) I won’t be attending any more atheist events.

  9. 11

    I don’t think I could listen to that podcast. I’d constantly have the urge to rip out my nonexistent hair. Lines like this:

    He has a huge platform. He’s wildly successful in his own right.

    Just make me incredibly sad. A huge platform and success are all they think is important for inviting a speaker? It doesn’t matter that he’s a bully? A harassing piece of crap? That he’s racist? Why didn’t MM just say if you’re a woman, queer, Asian, Black, Muslim, disabled, or neurodivergent, don’t bother coming bc we’re going to have a dude here who harasses people like you. We’d rather have him than you. He’s got a big crowd.

    Man, fuck MM.

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