A problem with atheism is that it appears to encourage hypocrisy. That is, atheists rarely practice what they preach and instead seem to live according to the following creed: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Perhaps this hypocrisy comes from some sense of privilege that follows from perceiving oneself as part of the intellectually elite. This would make sense given the manner in which arrogance and hypocrisy are linked. But who knows? All we can say for sure is that the hypocrisy exists and is ubiquitous.
If you are in a state of denial about this, here is a nice example to consider. Gnu activist Jerry Coyne recently stepped up to the podium to preach as follows:
Greg Lukianoff is president of the estimable Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which monitors and campaigns for free speech on American college campuses. One of their main activities is lobbying against speech codes, codes that I consider both unnecessary and undemocratic in universities. After all, students are about 18 when they arrive at an American university, and that’s old enough to be able to tolerate speech, hateful or not, without beefing about being “offended.”
Moreover, one of the main values of college, as I see it, is to expose students to a diversity of viewpoints, which is the only way to examine if yours are correct. It’s a growing experience that absolutely requires freedom of expression, even if you don’t like what you hear.
Several other of our policies, including free speech zones and the right of the university to remove posting in student residences that are deemed offensive, are rated “yellow light,” meaning “policies [that]restrict a more limited amount of protected expression or, by virtue of their vague wording, could too easily be used to restrict protected expression.
This distresses me. If someone wants to make a speech on campus calling me a “dirty Jew,” then by all means let them. I’ll defend myself with other speech, and defend their right to insult my religion, politics, or anything else. Speech-code policies turn campuses into mini Islamic Republics, in which anybody can be offended and force authorities to stifle whatever bothers them. College students are adults, and should have the same rights as American adults who aren’t in college. They aren’t babies whose sensitive feelings need to be coddled.
Sounds good. Almost like Coyne is standing on principle here. Almost.
The problem is that the man who says, “I’ll defend myself with other speech, and defend their right to insult my religion, politics, or anything else. Speech-code policies turn campuses into mini Islamic Republics,” runs a blog that is a mini Islamic Republic. Coyne is in complete control of his own blog and has decided to heavily police and censor the comments section so it remains an echo chamber for his Gnu atheism.
There are many examples of his heavy-handed moderation that demonstrate all his talk about defending the free speech of others is bluster. Simply consider two examples. Five days prior to Coyne’s free speech sermon, he wrote:
Here’s a new comment I received and didn’t publish, but decided to put above the fold.
The comment was from someone named “Casey” and Coyne admits he did not publish it. Instead, he used it to make a blog posting so his acolytes could focus in and pile on to attack Casey. The thread generated 100+ comments and for some unknown reason [wink], Casey did not participate.
You might not think it possible, but I get screwy comments about everything—including Weetabix. The one below came from “Laura”, who, needless to say, won’t be posting here again.
Yes, it was “needless to say.” The man who preaches about free speech at universities is the same man who spits on free speech where it matters – the very place where he has complete power to determine whether free speech is allowed.