A Misdirected Hate?

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.

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20 Responses to A Misdirected Hate?

  1. Crude says:

    Yeah, that line about ‘giggling at creationists’ is pretty telling.

  2. Mike asserts:

    ‘Apart from the redeeming power of God, there is no solution to hate except “fight or flight.”’

    That must be why Christians are such non-hateful peaceful people and Buddhists such hateful ones. And why universities are such hateful places. Oh, wait. Maybe Mike’s assertion was just thoughtless evidence-free chest-thumping by a religious apologist…

  3. Crude says:

    That must be why Christians are such non-hateful peaceful people and Buddhists such hateful ones.

    You know, Nick, you would have done a lot better here if you didn’t suggest Christians are a hateful, non-peaceful people.

    And why universities are such hateful places.

    They often are, as a matter of fact. I have no idea why you even included universities here.

    Anyway, your atheist apologetics aside, I’d like to hear what Mike meant by ‘no solution to hate’.

  4. LOL, I’m no atheist. And I didn’t say Christians are a hateful, non-peaceful people. But it’s not at all clear that Christians are categorically less hateful than most of the other major religious systems around, or that people who believe in God are less hateful than people who believe other things.

    I think it *is* categorically clear that institutions that value free speech and other civil rights, and the tolerance that comes with these, end up on average with less hate and the resulting damage than most other institutions humans have come up with. E.g. western democracy, universities, etc. Although of course it is always a struggle. But basically there is a stronger argument that civil liberties and tolerance are the solution to hate than that God is.

  5. Crude says:

    LOL, I’m no atheist.

    You do a fantastic imitation!

    But it’s not at all clear that Christians are categorically less hateful than most of the other major religious systems around, or that people who believe in God are less hateful than people who believe other things.

    I’d be hard pressed to find a religious community, of any faith, that’s as noxious as the Cult of Gnu, particularly among its own leadership. Even scientologists would have some trouble keeping up.

    I think it *is* categorically clear that institutions that value free speech and other civil rights, and the tolerance that comes with these, end up on average with less hate and the resulting damage than most other institutions humans have come up with. E.g. western democracy, universities, etc.

    As much as I’d like to praise universities, given that so many were founded by Christian religious leaders, I think the evidence is pretty telling that universities are not big on free speech ‘and other civil rights’. They’re big on speech for groups they like – not so much groups they dislike. (See, uh… your compatriots’ past writings on how they think they should deal with people who accept ID or the like, for a minor example.)

    But basically there is a stronger argument that civil liberties and tolerance are the solution to hate than that God is.

    I like that argument. “The solution to hate is tolerance.” Or, “The solution to hate is not hate!” Also, the solution to debt is to have money.

    Geez. :)

  6. Crude says:

    By the way Nick – does it give you any pause at all that the Atheism+ brigade, complete with Carrier’s “you’re either with us or against us, assholes” routine – considered themselves to be knights of humanist values?

    Speaking of which – are you for or against atheism+? Carrier said you’re supposed to choose your side now. ;)

  7. Alan Fox says:

    How does one estimate “hatefulness”? Is it definition-free like “design” or “intelligence”? Or is it like pornography, as some senile judge once remarked, I’ll know it when I see it?

    Perhaps we should look for the evidence of atheists mobs running amok with torches and pitchforks?

  8. Alan Fox says:

    Or should we just look out for the giggling?

  9. Michael says:

    Nick: …..Maybe Mike’s assertion was just thoughtless evidence-free chest-thumping by a religious apologist…

    Focus on the topic, Nick. Just what is Jen supposed to do?

    Crude: I’d like to hear what Mike meant by ‘no solution to hate’.

    Once the hate is set into motion, there is no stopping it. Jen tried to fight against it by exposing it, attempting to shame it, using reason against it, even try to split away from it with a new movement, etc. But it just made it worse. It’s out of her hands and beyond her power.

    However, if some of those haters were to become Christians, their contribution to the cloud of hate would cease. For to become a Christian, one must come face to face with their own sin.

    Alan: How does one estimate “hatefulness”?

    Ask Jen. Nick has already tried to excuse the hate directed at her as mere “combativeness.” Are you trying to suggest this hate is all in her head?

  10. Alan Fox says:

    Are you trying to suggest this hate is all in her head?

    I wasn’t thinking about McCreight when I made my comment but, since you ask, it is only pixels on a screen after all. She has done the sensible thing in withdrawing from the blogosphere. I can recall several other internet personas that needed to kick the habit. I find my own occasional forays addictive and I know Bilbo has the same problem. There is something in the medium that seems to bring out the worst in people. I had not heard of this Carrier fellow till following a link here but it was interesting to note that a commenter pointed out the problem of lack of visual clues, body language, tone of voice etc in internet communication and he professed not to understand the comment.

    Anyway, the aggressiveness and abusiveness that appears to be a regular element in internet is a problem but not the problem.

    I tend to agree with Nick “basically there is a stronger argument that civil liberties and tolerance are the solution to hate than that God is.”

  11. Alan Fox says:

    In internet communication

  12. “However, if some of those haters were to become Christians, their contribution to the cloud of hate would cease. For to become a Christian, one must come face to face with their own sin.”

    That’s like saying “to become an atheist, one must love truth and scholarship and calm reason”. It would be nice if it were so.

    C’mon, there are any number of discriminatory & hate-based groups and ideologies within Christianity in history and at present, many/most of them with explicit God-based justifications. I’m not saying this is a fair generalization of all of Christianity, just that it’s naive to put on rose-colored glasses for your own side and then take the extreme wing of the other side as representative.

    An actual sophisticated analysis of both sides would reach generalizations like the following: the real predictive variable here isn’t the presence/absence of God in peoples’ lives. The real predictor of hateful behavior is are things like the following: absolute/near absolute certainty that one has the truth in certain abstruse abstract matters, coupled with the conviction that everyone’s opinions on these matters are hugely important (immortal souls are at stake, or The Most Important Thing Causing Bad Stuff In Society Is Religion), coupled with the idea that it’s your business to get in everyone’s face about how they are wrong.

  13. Michael says:

    I am not making any generalization argument, as there are simply too many variables to make any meaningful “sophisticated analysis.” I’m simply looking at sinful, human nature. I asked you, “Just what is Jen supposed to do?” Reason, logic, evidence, push-back, attempts at shaming, attempts to ignore, all failed. The data are in and the evidence is clear. All the intellectual and psychological tools failed Jen. Even the support from friends was not sufficient to overcome the hate. And it probably doesn’t help when people like you excuse and downplay the hate as mere “combativeness.”

    Y’see Nick, the problem here is human nature. The problem is sin.

  14. Actually, the problem is feeding the trolls. If the Gnus had banned crude-and-rude posters from the beginning none of this would have happened. Attempting to score grand metaphysical points based on events with pretty pedestrian causes ain’t very convincing.

  15. Crude says:

    If the Gnus had banned crude-and-rude posters from the beginning none of this would have happened.

    Nick, if you remove the crude-and-rude posters from the Cult of Gnu, you aren’t left with anything. The whole point of the movement, from Dawkins and others, was to show a complete lack of respect towards religious people and thought.

    And Mike’s point is pretty instructive. The group of people who never shut up about their praise of reason and rationality and science couldn’t employ any of the three things to settle an internal dispute among themselves. It’s almost as if reason, rationality and science aren’t all that important to the Gnus – or at least can’t do what they insist it can.

  16. Justin says:

    Just more proof that morality isn’t subjective. The best test for whether something is wrong is when its aimed at you. Hate from the Gnus is, well not surprising in the least. She’ll be busy banning haters from her forum until she gets weary of that as well. It’s the nature of Gnu.

  17. comm says:

    Matzke:

    “But basically there is a stronger argument that civil liberties and tolerance are the solution to hate than that God is.”

    In my home country there are very strong civil liberties, but people still have hate emotion. Hate is part of human nature, and even many animals are able to hate something. I’m very sceptical that civil liberties were “solution to hate”. You can keep vithout doing physical violence, but you have still emotions.

  18. Fleegman says:

    A) Giggling at people who hold beliefs you find stupid, is not hatred.

    B) Misogyny is not the same thing as giggling at people who hold beliefs you find stupid.

    Just thought I’d clear that up for you, since you’ve repeatedly demonstrated a lack of understanding of both A, and B.

  19. Fleegman says:

    Justin wrote:

    Just more proof that morality isn’t subjective. The best test for whether something is wrong is when its aimed at you.

    Or, in other words: morality isn’t subjective; the proof being that morality is subjective.

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