Since it appears as if PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, and the other A+ atheists were wrong about one of their sexual harassment accusations, Gnu atheist Hemant Mehta decided to rub their noses in it while demanding apologies. Well, it turns out Gnu activist Jerry Coyne, who conveniently sits out these fights, has decided to weigh in. Coyne goes for the jugular:
I’ve deliberately refrained from accusing others of criminal acts, harassment, and the like on this site, for I feel that serious accusations like these are properly adjudicated by the authorities—usually courts of law—rather than by the commentariat of blogs, who, inflamed by rhetoric, often bay for blood.
But there comes a time, and the time is now, when those who traffic in such accusations must be called to account, particularly when they’ve erred, tarred someone’s reputation, and then, when their accusations prove to be false, quietly ignore them rather than admit error. This behavior is shameful and reprehensible, and Hemant properly calls it out. Go read his piece.
We learn a couple of things from this response. First, it’s now pretty clear that both Mehta and Coyne are on the side of Shermer, Dawkins, and Harris when it comes to the Great Atheist War. Second, when Coyne publicly calls out Myers and Watson with such strong and judgmental language, the level of animosity is even greater than I thought. Keeping in mind that those of us with popcorn buckets in our laps only see the flare-ups that burst into the public arena, one must consider that the level of hostility must approach total meltdown levels behind the closed internet doors. So while the Gnus and Accomodationists could plausibly have a good cop-bad cop relationship, the relationship between the regular Gnus and A+ Gnus does seem to entail real disdain for each other.
Once again, I need to remind people that the atheist blogosphere and internet community is the closest thing we have to a “world without religion.” So the Gnu narrative about the world being so much better without religion isn’t supported by the data coming from the laboratory of the atheist blogosphere. Take away religion and we see the same old human nature finding something else to battle about. In fact, try for a moment to imagine there is no religion. In such a world, these people would have no common enemy and no reason at all to consider themselves part of the same community. Isn’t it obvious they would simply be seeking out more recruits to their respective tribes? And without the worry of “public image” problems for an “atheist community” in a religious world, wouldn’t both tribes stop holding back and policing themselves to some degree and instead intensify the attacks? It would seem to me that in a world without their common enemy of religion, the two portions of a community would evolve into two distinct tribes, and the hostility would intensify immensely.
Oh, and come to think of it, there are three other Gnu narratives that are seriously undercut by this drama. Perhaps we should consider those next.