An open letter to Michael Nugent

This was too long to fit on Twitter and I didn’t want to take to your comments section.

I recognize that you don’t owe me a response, and I feel like you are almost certainly working on one, but I would like to discuss the fact that you saw fit to respond to Richard Carrier before you responded to the “more considered posts” by me, M. A. Melby, or Secular Woman. It’s worth pointing out that you haven’t entirely ignored M. A. Melby’s post because of “having” to respond to Richard Carrier, just the “quite reasonable,” as you put it, part of it.   I would like to highlight the not unreasonable conclusion that one could draw, that indeed we were already discussing: You prioritize getting into petty internet fights about tone over everything else. In this case, you prioritize getting into petty internet fights about tone over serious-minded discussion about an accused rapist in the movement.

You’ve sat with our discussion for over a week now. There are nearly 1000 comments between the two blog posts on my site about this topic. Two other women have chosen to write about this. And done so in a tone that is much more to your preference than the tone of Mr. Carrier. And yet you choose to write a blog not in response to the women who are trying to have a discussion with you about something that they are deeply concerned about, who are writing in what you consider an appropriate tone. You choose instead to respond to a blog post written by a man relying heavily on the posts written by those women — indeed over half his post is dedicated to linking to the other sources on which he’s based his post. You choose to prove the point that if one writes in an aggressive tone, one will get attention and responses, while if one writes in a reasonable tone, one will be put on hold. I now wonder if I might have gotten a faster blog response if I’d written in a less reasonable tone myself.

And I get it, that’s an easy 3000 words to write, just like it’s easier to write 3000 angry words calling someone a fuckhead than it is to write something nuanced. But I think in choosing to respond to the angry tone instead of the nuanced tone you’re guilty of promoting the same thing you’re saying you’re against.

Mr. Nugent, you also state at the beginning of the article that you “have to” respond because of how Mr. Carrier has portrayed you and Atheist Ireland. You really didn’t. You chose to. There are always going to be people misrepresenting you on the internet. There are always going to be people whose tone you’re going to want to correct. There’s always some new fight to be had if you’re itching to write 3000 words about how someone is wrong on the internet. And, to be clear, you chose to respond to that one. And that’s fine, but I want you to understand the message that all of this sends, because it’s the same message you were already sending: Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.

I don’t think that’s the message you want to be sending, based on the mission of Atheist Ireland, I know it’s not.


ETA from comment below: The point of this, like the previous posts, is not that Michael Nugent is a bad guy. It’s that he keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy and he’s either unaware of them, in which case hopefully writing them out calmly in a blog post and explaining why they look how they look will help him understand why people see them the way they do, or he doesn’t care about the people who are interpreting his actions that way and he’d just as soon write them off as engage with them, in which case I think his tone arguments are hypocritical. Either way, I don’t see a course of action for myself that is more rational than to call his attention to the interpretations and see what he makes of them.

An open letter to Michael Nugent

Prettying up the place

As you may have noticed, I’ve got a fancy new banner.  Several of them, in fact, thanks to the work of Alex Gabriel.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 6.52.12 PM

He also made me some business card style square designs.

07 - v3EjX3v
10 - qsWlQTZ

09 - vLiIs54
08 - a0dOfxI
I know y’all are just impressed as all get out.  I am pleased, it’s much better than my previous logo.  I am especially pleased because it’s all based on my art — it’s a really lovely marriage of my maths brain and my arts brain.  I think he will give a better break down of the design process but these are the paintings I sent him from which he designed these.

There’s also a shiny new headshot with my old bio that I may get around to updating.  I’ve also got a fancy new donate button, because it was requested of me by a reader, Deepak Shetty, who was kind enough to actually give before I figured out how to set it up.  I’ve also got an Amazon carousel thing because I signed up for this Amazon thing and they yelled at me that they were shutting me down if no one bought anything from my linking to them, which is fair, as I’ve never linked through them.

In all cases, don’t feel obligated to donate or buy anything, I just put the donate button up because I was asked to, and I am deeply flattered, and the Amazon thing is really an experiment.  You can’t see it if you’ve got AdBlock anyway.  It’s mostly there to show you what ukulele I bought, what gender text book I’m in, and that I eat too many Rowntree’s.  Did my taxes today… my average monthly payment from FtB in 2014 was, you know, $14.13, so, you know.

Anyway, as you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with severe Vitamin D deficiency last week.  I’ve been sick since last July, and it didn’t occur to anyone to test for that because, as the Slymepit noted, I’m extremely pale and it takes very little sunlight for someone of my skin tone to make adequate Vitamin D. On top of that, I live in South Carolina, not the Arctic Circle, so someone like me developing a Vitamin D deficiency is approximately like someone on an orange farm developing scurvy, it just didn’t occur to anyone.  My deficiency is likely due to the fact that I work from home, am also writing a dissertation (theoretically), am allergic to most of the things that grow outside, and avoid sunlight because I burn so easily.  Then it became a bit of a runaway problem because Vitamin D deficiency makes you more susceptible to catching viruses, which meant that despite my pneumococcal and flu vaccines and being well out of age range, I got pneumonia in the summer, then the flu, and then, for Christmas, mono, all of which lasted a very long time and kept me indoors even more than normal.

I have only lately been gaining my energy back from the mono and am now being treated for the deficiency so I have some hope that the massive cloud of fatigue and never ending stream of illnesses I’ve been battling since last summer might finally lift in the next month or two, which is apparently how long it takes for supplements to kick in.

Prettying up the place

More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent

Ashley to Michael: I'm asking whether it's unreasonable for someone to feel uncomfortable when you say it's wrong to call Shermer a rapist.  Michael to Ashley: That's a question I haven't heard before. I don't know. I'll think about it and get back to you. Capped from Damion Reinhardt's Storify

I wanted to respond at length to both Michael Nugent, who I’ve spoken with over Twitter, and to many commenters who agree with him in the previous post and on Twitter.

I don’t have a problem with Michael Nugent’s distaste for PZ’s tone.  I don’t agree in general, though like Nugent, I found PZ to be lacking in his posts about Dawkin’s childhood sex abuse and Robin Williams’ suicide.  PZ has always been a pit bull, and it generally gives his posts clarity and humor, both of which I appreciate.  But, I don’t really care if you hate that, that’s fine, to each his own.

I also don’t really have a problem with Atheist Ireland’s dissociation with PZ.  Again, freedom of association, to each their own.  I do think that, while they’ve made an exhaustive list of why they don’t like his tone, they’ve failed entirely to even try to make a case as to why an American blogger’s tone has any relevance to the work they are doing.  I’m not sure what harm PZ has actually caused to Atheist Ireland, beyond making Michael Nugent very unhappy. Why Atheist Ireland’s agenda includes breaking up with bloggers is beyond me.

The problem I have with Michael Nugent fundamentally boils down to his 9/17/14 blog post in which he equivalizes his complaints about PZ’s tone in his posts to PZ agreeing to post a firsthand account of rape in which the victim names her rapist.  This post by Nugent is in response to a lengthy, in-depth article by well-respected journalist Mark Oppenheimer, known for his work at the New York Times, in which Oppenheimer details multiple accusations of misbehavior on the part of Michael Shermer.

Continue reading “More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent”

More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent

The Background of Atheist Ireland’s Breakup with PZ: It’s about Michael Shermer

Edits from earlier versions: Two major edits from information sent to me via Twitter by people who were, I think, trying to be hostile, but who I appreciate sending me the information. Ron Lindsay did not ask Rebecca Watson to take down her post, he asked her to reword it and the link to his post has been reworded to reflect that; this was a misremembrance on my part. The second is that I added screencaps and reworded the description of the Slymepit to be more accurate. The inaccuracy previously was the suggestion that they stalked people’s hospitals, which seems to be a game of telephone garbled interpretation I heard of an event that is linked to, in which they took PZ’s hospitalization as an opportunity to make up STD rumors about him. While I did have 2 editors fact check the post, they missed these, as did I.

Mixed Rape Finals - Members of FtB judging a rape; unauthorized photoshop of Brian Engler's original photo
I’m not entirely sure if the joke is that we’re judging our own rapes or a rape we’ve witnessed.

So in recent days, there’s been a bit of drama in the atheist movement over Atheist Ireland and PZ Myers that I’ve spent a bit of time trying to fully understand the background of.  Since I spent all the time getting a big picture overview, I thought other people might like to have access to it as well.  I don’t regularly follow any of the main players’ blogs, and I’ve been ill for the last 8 months, so I haven’t regularly followed anything during that time.  That said, the tl;dr version of the story is that it’s about Michael Shermer, and the longer version follows.  It’s not convoluted, it’s just happened over a long period of time.

Continue reading “The Background of Atheist Ireland’s Breakup with PZ: It’s about Michael Shermer”

The Background of Atheist Ireland’s Breakup with PZ: It’s about Michael Shermer