I think it would be very instructive to consider the reason why Jen McCreight decided to stop blogging. There is no mystery here, as she spells it out quite plainly:
Instead of feeling gleeful anticipation when writing up a post, I feel nothing but dread. There’s a group of people out there (google the ironic term FtBullies to find them) devoted to hating me, my friends, and even people I’m just vaguely associated with. I can no longer write anything without my words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.
I just can’t take it anymore.
What do we have here? McCreight correctly identifies the dynamic:
I don’t want to let them win, but I’m human. The stress is getting to me. I’ve dealt with chronic depression since elementary school, and receiving a daily flood of hatred triggers it. I’ve been miserable. And this toxic behavior is affecting all parts of my life. With this cloud of hate hanging over my head, I can’t focus or enjoy my hobbies or work.
Yes, Jen, this is the face of hate. Jen has discovered that such hate seeks to cause her harm. It wants to completely destroy her reputation, it wants to humiliate her, it wants to torment her, and it even wants to hurt her in real life (trying to destroy her livelihood). Such is hate. And such hate is a natural expression of human, sinful nature.
But here is the thing. Can McCreight truly learn from this?
McCreight writes something at the end that ought to cause her to engage in some introspection:
So, goodbye for now. Maybe I’ll be back eventually, if the hatred subsides. Who knows. Maybe the horde of haters will take up knitting as their new hobby, or a time machine will be invented and I can go back to when we were all happy giggling at creationists together without hurling slurs at any woman who dared to be too uppity. But until then, I need to focus on keeping myself sane and happy – and that’s just not going to happen within the toxic atheist community.
Did you catch that? Try again:
or a time machine will be invented and I can go back to when we were all happy giggling at creationists together
In other words, everything was just fine when Jen was part of this toxic community of haters as long as they were “giggling at creationists.” But when the same hate was directed at her, suddenly it became a bad thing. I don’t know if Jen herself engaged in any hate against creationists and religious people, but she giggled at it. And I can assure her there are many creationists and religious people out there who can completely empathize when she complains of her “words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined” or when she is confronted with “abusive comments, tweets, and emails” or when she finds “comments of people imitating her identity” to humiliate her or finding out that “multiple people have threatened to contact her employer with “evidence” that she is a bad scientist.”
Y’see, the hate in the atheist community did not poof into existence. It, along with all the haters, have always been there. And so when Jen giggled at hate that was directed at religious people, she helped to encourage and nurture it. And now she feels its sting and it becomes “wrong.”
So that leads me to wonder. Is Jen McCreight opposed to this hateful behavior on principle or is she simply opposed to it when she is on the receiving end? If she could get all the haters to stop hating on women, would she then rejoin this community of hate as long as it hates on religious people? If so, there is nothing noble or principled about McCreights decision to stop blogging or founding the A+ movement. They are just acts of selfishness, such that hate is bad when it hurts Self and hate is good when it serves Self. If that is the case, McCreight’s problem is not with hate; it’s with hate that is perceived to be misdirected.
I truly do empathize with what Jen has gone through and wish her well. Apart from the redeeming power of God, there is no solution to hate except “fight or flight.” But one can only hope she learns something deeper from all this.