Atheist Ireland is publicly dissociating itself from the hurtful and dehumanising, hateful and violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric of the atheist blogger PZ Myers.
The atheist organization then provides examples of Myers “hurtful and dehumanising rhetoric” followed by examples of his “hateful and violent rhetoric.” They then supply examples of Myers’ “unjust and defamatory rhetoric.”
So a New Atheist organization recognizes that Myers’ rhetoric has been hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and defamatory.
Hemany Mehta, the “Friendly Atheist” who once looked up to Myers and even endorsed Myers’ book, piles on. Mehta writes:
There’s a litany of Myers’ own words included in the statement and, if you’re not familiar with him, it’s not a pretty collection. For Myers, it’s not enough to merely say someone is wrong or to point out the problems with their arguments. He has to insult and embarrass them, too, even if the differences in opinion are relatively minimal. (I’ve often been on the receiving end of his tirades.) When the comments are compiled together, it’s no wonder Atheist Ireland wants nothing to do with him.
I get why people would rather avoid him. If you ever wanted to push back against something he said, it wasn’t just one guy with a blog you’d be upsetting. It’s a guy whose response would be over the top, whose blog has a large and dedicated following, and who acts as an accelerant for his often-anonymous and even more aggressive commenters.
A swarm of atheists then comment, trashing Myers with a recurring theme: “I once thought PZ Myers was great as he helped introduce me to atheism, but now I recognize him (and his fans) as hateful/mean/etc.” For example, one atheist commented:
Phryangula was my entry into the atheoblogs. Over time, I noticed that the horde was growing more and more authoritarian. Neutral comments or anything but the fullest throat endorsement of the abusive tactics was decried as misogyny.
I tried to bring up my concerns and PZ did change his comment policy to say let people post a few comments before you abuse them. That he ever needed such a rule is telling. He never enforced it and the insane horde never paid attention. I eventually moved to other FTB bloggers but even that was too close to the rampant hostility of PZ’s crew.
This development begs for commentary.
First, it’s nice to see so many atheists recognize Myers’ rhetoric is hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and/or defamatory. It’s also nice to see so many recognize the same goes for many of Myers’ fans. Of course, I, and many other religious people, figured this out over 10 years ago. I thought New Atheists were supposed to have the superior ability to detect reality. If that’s the case, why did it take them a decade to discover the obvious?
Second, this whole dispute underscores the moral bankruptcy of New Atheism. How so? The nature of PZ Myers’ rhetoric has not changed. All that has changed is that he has increased the number of his targets. Y’see, when Myers was dishing out his hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and/or defamatory rhetoric targeted at religious people (mostly Christian), people like Mehta and his fans were cheering, high-fiving, and helping to promote Myers attacks and publicity stunts. Back in that day, they helped to make Myers as popular as he was as they praised him for being clever, great with words and insults, hilarious, etc. It is only when the very same approach was aimed at them did then have this sudden revelation of Myers’ hate.
So you see, people like Mehta are not standing on any principle here. They have a history of cheering on hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and/or defamatory rhetoric. They have a history of endorsing such rhetoric. They just don’t like the taste of the medicine that they once so enjoyed seeing Myers dish out to the out-group.
Third, I have long informed you that the New Atheist movement is a modern-day hate movement. Now that we have seen so many atheists admit that one of their once-favored leaders has a history of dishing out hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust, and/or defamatory rhetoric, why is it so hard to admit this about the New Atheist movement as a whole? That such a person could become so popular in the New Atheist movement makes sense if the New Atheist movement is indeed a modern-day hate movement.
What’s more, while Myers’ rhetoric and approach may be among the most extreme, it’s not qualitatively different from the approach of people like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne. For example, Dawkins routinely hates on religious people by mocking them as “faith-heads.” And people like Mehta have no problem with this. Just like the good ol’ days when PZ Myers was “on their side.”