Unfinished blog I’ll never finish, presented as is –

nugent_ai

You can take the man out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the man.

Not as though there is a shortage of things to dislike the Vatican about, but at the top of the list of persistent, relentless annoyances has to be the continual caterwauling against the concept of gay marriage, as though it would bring about the collapse of civilisation itself – whilst turning a blind eye to, and denying, the existence of homosexuality within its clerical cloisters and, unforgivably, not only denying the existence of rampant paedophilia, but effectively providing a safe house network for paedophile priests to evade criminal prosecution and continue molesting children to their hearts content as they are shuffled from diocese to diocese.

Ireland, according to the cesspit of lies, is 84.2% catholic. And if you place credence in urban folklore, 98% drunk. Certainly, St. Patrick’s day – which rolled around again just recently and is something to either celebrate or fear, depending on your liver and tolerance for belligerent and incomprehensible assholes – does nothing to dispel this figure.

My tolerance for Irish drunks is pretty close to nil, largely as a result of drinking in the pubs of Sydney’s CBD and Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs. There is nothing more annoying, and often frightening, than getting cornered by some slurring Irish drunk that wants to explain his or her families direct lineage to St. Patrick himself in a barely coherent sermon dripping with Irish jingoistic hubris. The ranting inevitably touches upon either what you think of the British monarchy or the terrible and fatal choice of “soooo… are ye a proddy or a catlick?” – at which point you know you are standing in a minefield and one wrong word could see a glass smashed in your face. Atheism is not an option.

shanemacgowanWhite arabs. That’s what I have been quietly calling the Irish to myself for decades now. My inner Cynic on display. Occasionally I share this thought with others who have had to live near similar Irish quarters in places like New York and as far afield as Argentina – and they acknowledge it is an observation that is in equal measure succinct, offensive and amusing. And indeed when you look at the history of The Troubles you notice  that, up until relatively recently, the only real lulls in the internecine violence occurred during the First and Second World Wars – when the Paddies could go overseas and kick the shit out of foreigners instead of each other.

These feelings, of course, do cause me quite a bit of discomfort and angst. After all, isn’t articulating feelings like this the essence of racism. I’m pretty sure it is. But, due to the ugliness of a personal and not necessarily universal reality space, it is not something that can really be helped. I cannot suppress these feelings, but when I do run into Irish folks, what I can do is try and maintain civility and not allow my preconceptions to taint my interactions. Because, like it or not, Irish, like Jews, are everywhere. I remember one amusing consulting contract I had with a multinational junk food vendor where the entire IT department, apart from a few token Asians was Irish… Which made it easy – I only had to remember three names – Óisín, Róisín and Liam. Our relationship was professional and friendly. Nevertheless, I excused myself politely from beers after work (as I do nowadays in any pub when accosted by Irish) and then ran like from Satan himself to the nearest drinking hole I knew to be safe and Irish-free.

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I find the above ruminations of particular interest in light of Michael Nugent’s recent forays into the quagmire that is the Greta Christina / Rebecca Watson tag-team of fabricated outrage of some years ago that has now become the all encompassing “atheist / skeptic misogyny” meme and continues to poison wells wherever atheists and skeptics may gather, diverting attention and resources from issues that should be of concern – those of church/state and rational thinking for instance – into continuous petty squabbling between those that hurl baseless slander in an effort to destabilise the various communities for grubby personal advantage and the exasperated targets of that same baseless slander that scramble desperately in defence to maintain some kind of cohesion.

unbiased

::cough::

In his series of posts, Nugent seems to be selling himself as some kind of independent, unbiased arbiter seeking to heal wounds in what he seems to think is just a common “dispute” – that is if you happen to be one of the folks that would also classify Fall Weiss as a common “dispute”.

Nugent has cast himself in the role of the “nice guy” protagonist, both shocked and appalled at what he views as the bitter acrimony that surrounds him. This Christ-figure pantomime certainly comes through loud and clear here –

Eight choices we can make to help move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities

This illusion of “neutrality”, of not having a horse in the race, is disingenuous at best – but I say that with a caveat. I don’t wish to ascribe malicious intent to what may just as soon be common, way-too-eager-to-please naiveté. Regardless, whether Nugent decides to come clean about his motivations or not is not up to me, it’s a matter for Nugent’s conscience. All I can do is add my observations here. On his blog comment threads my thoughts would simply get lost amongst the noise, so I choose instead to make a permanent record in my own space – because they do need to be recorded.

Let’s begin with a look at Nugent’s contribution to Sulky Amy’s ::cough:: “fair and balanced” Speaking Out Against Hate Directed at Women series on Skepchick.org – which essentially tries the atheist and skeptic communities in absentia without opportunity for defence and convicts without possibility for appeal. He begins –

We should not tolerate, in any of our online or offline communities, any sexual harassment or abuse or threats of violence against women that we would not tolerate if they were directed against our family or close friends.

++++++++”Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

“We should not tolerate” presupposes some of us do tolerate – without that key implication, it is a redundant statement, much like “we should not tolerate people who don’t believe in gravity”. This is a ridiculous Clayton’s slur of the kind that is the bread and butter of both Freefromthoughtblogs and Skepchick – a stock standard dirty trick from the New Media Douchebag arsenal.

Formally, this is known as the fallacy of the loaded question. As with all such statements being used to smear our communities it is devoid of actual evidence – there are no public members of our communities that are calling for tolerance or support of harassing, abusive or violent behaviour against anyone, not just women. And in fact you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would disagree or have any issues with the fundamental statement above –  at all. It falls into the category of a “no brainer” – a case of self-evident ethical behaviour that does not need to be explained or justified to any even partially intelligent, non-sociopathic adult.

Yet it is repeated ad nauseam “WE SHOULD NOT TOLERATE THIS IN OUR COMMUNITIES” has come to equate “THIS PROBLEM IS ENDEMIC IN OUR COMMUNITIES AND TRANSGRESSORS MUST BE WEEDED OUT” – all without a skerrick of evidence. These are preachers telling us damnation awaits unless we abandon witchcraft – no more, no less. It’s really quite disturbing.

Nugent proceeds –

We must actively tackle this problem in each of our own communities. Doing this is one part of how the atheist and skeptical communities can start to become more inclusive, safe and supportive, and I’ve written elsewhere in more detail about how we can discuss this reasonably. We should also create a united front of online activists from different online communities, to properly research the impact of this abuse across all online communities, and to work together to find the best ways to eradicate it.

Again, the presupposition that our communities are guilty by default, no evidence required. “We must actively tackle this problem…” invokes the other sickening aspect of this auto da fé – it summons the White Knight to action. This is the same, invariable script playing out over and over – without doubt Nugent probably thinks he is adding something personal and original here, but he’s not. It’s very definitely a case of SSDD – this is the script written by Becky Watson, Sulky Amy and cohorts, nothing ever changes, nor is there ever any shortage of shmucks to line up and go through exactly the same motions all over again…

There is also a new and delicious coincidental irony here – all of this behaviour oh so perfectly mirrors what Anita Sarkeesian so fervently denounced only a few weeks ago in her Damsel in Distress (Part 1) Tropes vs Women as part of her similar campaign against alleged misogyny within the video gaming industry, also playing wedge politics to breed ill-will and division for grubby personal gain. Are these folks really so devoid of self-awareness?

And so his piece goes on, with Nugent obediently regurgitating one rubber stamped article of faith after another – Ophelia Benson’s favourite epistemically relativist dictum that a man can never know; the shopping list of anomalous abhorrences that magically and expediently come to represent mundane reality, etc. – but folks can read all that for themselves, I won’t waste further verbiage here. It really is everything you’ve heard to death before and prayed for the day you would never need to hear again.

So does all of this in and of itself imply that Nugent has an inherent bias? Strictly speaking, no, though one could be forgiven for assuming so. All that can really be inferred is that Nugent is naive, gullible, easily led and, when it comes to apprehending reality in a critical, detached and objective manner, he really is one of the blunt knives in the drawer – despite what claims he may make to the contrary as chair of Atheists Ireland.

But he shouldn’t feel too bad – he is far from alone. There is a depressingly long list of well known patsies who, like Nugent, have also been duped into signing their names to Sulky Amy’s denunciation of our communities. It just goes to show that everyone has blind spots – be they due to easily manipulated good nature; bias confirming political sympathies; favours for a friend or whatever. All of the people involved in this act of mass smearing have valid records in their respective areas of expertise in debunking mumbo-jumbo, fighting for reason in the face of superstition and defending secular principles in the face of resurging theocrats – but when it comes to handling the appeal to emotion spearhead by Watson and cohorts, they are just deer in the headlights.

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So let me digress for a moment. Out of all of the confidence tricks that have been played on us since the fart in a bathtub that was Elevatorgate, these “ Speaking Out Against Hate…” items are the pièce de résistance. Not only do they entrench a deep seated sense of fear and loathing within the community to those that have not been following the circus, they also buttress it with a sense bogus of authority it simply does not deserve.

The community is full of rapists and their apologists, you are not safe is the message being peddled – on the strength of malicious disinformation and folklore from what somebodies friend of a friend heard someone say somewhere some time, and no more than that – for some kind of greater good. These same peddlers then express shock and surprise that women are backing away from involvement in our communities. Duh.

This state of hysteria has seen mounting pressure to create what amounts to an atheist / skeptic police state, for our own good, where all thoughts, words and actions can be scrutinised and micromanaged to prevent any risk of any kind of offence, or worse, hurt feelings.

One of the main thrusts has been in the area of imposing sexual harassment policies – a bold and new “initiative” driven by the more prominent loudmouths at FTB / Skepchick, appalled that these didn’t exist. Of course, the fact that JREF / TAM already had such policies in place – off their own bat and without compulsion from external pressure – has been conveniently overlooked. Nevermind, newer, more stringent, take-no-prisoners policies were forced without any real reason for them and the only result was a further souring of community relations.

And, as with any tantrum throwing toddler, once the first demands are submitted to, it initiates a downward spiral of ever louder and more ridiculous demands. This has culminated in a new low of reductio ad absurdum – the harassment policy pamphlet for the upcoming SkepTech conference in Minnesota includes a 911 number for the Minneapolis police department, and a number for the local sexual assault hotline/center. Way to go guys. How to make newcomers feel safe, unthreatened and welcomed. It beggars belief. Greater good, omelettes and eggs…

Well then, if we are marching blindly down this path, then I feel we are neither being consistent nor going far enough. If we can go to these extremes with sexual harassment policies based entirely on hearsay and campfire ghost stories, we should also begin to address more tangible and realistic threats – like Irish drunks.

ireland_symbols3For the sake of my personal feelings and having an environment that feels like a comfortable “safe space”, we really need to impose an anti-Irish drunk policy. My concerns are not based on what might happen – they are very firmly in the area of what can and does happen. I have a long history of uncomfortable personal experience, as have many, many others that have lived around the enclaves of the the Irish diaspora. And further, we also have the case files of every police department in any large city that is entrusted with maintaining public safety and have Irish quarters under their watch. This is not a safety issue based hearsay or wild speculation – it is firmly grounded in cold, hard, brutal reality. The Irish are dangerous – and we need to be protected.

Of course there will be those that take umbrage at such a suggestion. But, I would like to remind them –

If you have an issue with an anti-Irish drunk policy, then obviously you support getting shit-faced drunk and pounding a stranger’s face into concrete over trivial differences and slightly misheard words, do you not?

It really is that simple. You are either for us or against us. There is no neutral ground. Ridiculous? By comparison to the nutbaggery of the last few years, hardly. This is a thought for Nugent to take home and ruminate on.

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After that lengthy, though very pertinent, detour, let’s get back to what started out being the subject of this post – Michael Nugent’s blog. There are two key complaints from Nugent that stand out, both seemingly the result of a conversation with Justin Vacula. Rather than scrutinise the backstory, I want to focus on these specific accusations against a specific target: the gateway to rape loving hell itself, the much dreaded Slymepit. First, some explanatory graphics –

[Slymepit according to PZ Myers] [what the Slymepit is not]

The first complaint item is a piece posted on March 3 –

Examples of ‘nasty pushback’ against some atheist/skeptic feminists on the Internet

Nugent writes –

This is part of a dialogue with Justin Vacula about why some feminists receive what he describes as “criticism and hate” and “nasty pushback” on the Internet, and why some people direct such criticism and hate and nasty pushback at these feminists.

Trigger warning: For readers not familiar with the type of material published on The Slymepit website, please be aware that you may find the comments quoted in this article to be abusive, shaming and very disturbing […]

So let’s take some concrete examples… I’m using examples that were published on The Slymepit website.

What follows is a lengthy catalogue of Creationist style quote mining extracts trimmed for maximum obscenity value and denuded of all meaning and context. The resulting comment storm was hardly flattering to Nugent’s piece, with innumerable examples of hypocrisy and double standards being dredged up primarily from Freethoughtblogs – but even more interestingly, from the Atheist Ireland forums themselves, as highlighted by a certain Skepsheik. This caused Nugent to back-peddle quite a bit, to the extent of posting a public statement and apology regarding those forums a few days later. How embarrassing. Finding out you’re the same colour as the kettle. Michael, pop open your bible and get thee to Matthew 7:3

Nugent also followed up with some unconvincing apologia to excuse his open cut quote mining pit on March 8 –

Some reflections on the recent dialogue

… when citing the examples, I should have either expanded them to full quotes or linked to the sources for context. I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to link to what I saw as cruel examples of personal abuse, and because I was trying (also by not identifying names) to keep the focus on the behavior rather than the people involved.

This is a thoroughly pathetic excuse that is now becoming standard practice throughout our communities – “it was so horrible I can’t show you and/or I deleted it”. Not acceptable. Not by a longshot. It is a vulgar cocktail of appeal to emotion and argumentum ad populum – and it is simply not good enough when you are articulating what amounts to a smear of an entire demographic and denying their words the right to speak for themselves via selective editing. To put it quite bluntly, this is precisely the kind of crap Ophelia Benson and Melody Hensley pull every day of their lives – I really can’t think of a graver insult than that… rarely gratuitous

And it only gets worse once you survey Nugent’s list with a critical eye. In fact, the charade of Nugent’s honesty and integrity implodes with the very first item on the list –

Nugent_cuntkick

Behold! Ophelia’s Calvary

Nugent states he found these extracts, and follows up by explicitly stating why he chose not to link the examples he found. This is not a matter of simple dishonesty, this is a matter of an outright fibbing.

This quote is an ideal example for two reasons. Firstly it is a textbook example of quote mining. Second, it highlights the absolute hypocrisy here: that a few select words are more important than the subject it addresses – one of the earliest and most vicious attacks by the readership of Pharyngula, with the tacit approval of PZ Myers, to professionally destroy a female critic. In this case a female scientist who in post grad research has already achieved more than Myers – a woman that has made her own way with her own ability.

Nugent did not find these examples himself on the Slympit for one very obvious reason –

The cunt kick comment was never posted on the Slymepit. In fact, the comment does not even exist anymore.

The comment, which was surgically edited to obfuscate its actual intent, was deleted over 9 months ago, well and truly before Nugent got sucked into this drama and before the Slymepit even coagulated into existence. It was deleted, along with all of the old threads on ScienceBlogs and archived by one of the current Slymepit stalwarts. It is technically still available – but only if you know where to look. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to repeat the synopsis for this, but unfortunately, I have to keep doing it. Those familiar with the story, skip the next block quote –

The comment has not once ever been reproduced in its entirety with original context intact. Ever. The full story about the comment can be read HERE – the short story is that it was a deliberately constructed piece of baboon bait buried deep inside a 5000 comment main thread and was in response the an early campaign orchestrated by the readership of Pharyngula to conduct a mass complaint storm National Geographic against Abbie Smith / ERV to –

  • Censor and/or shut down her ScienceBlogs blog, or at the very least impact its revenue stream, and
  • Bring pressure against Abbie Smith’s employer to get her fired and kicked out of her graduate research program

It was a carefully crafted experiment that, aside from being a social comment about the true viciousness of freethoughtblogs, was designed to see exactly how obsessive the FTB offence truffle pigs really were – and it paid off in spades and is still paying. In fact, it is the most effective piece of flame-bait for morons that I have ever deposited anywhere. The obsessive lengths to which the FTB membership will go to fine tooth comb the entire internet in order to find things to howl about is perhaps the most disturbing thing about them.

So, what Nugent leading off his list about “nasty pushback” really tells me

it is a /dev/null sink to absorb and dissipate as much of the FTB / Skepchick / Atheism+ malignancy as possible and draw the fire away from other members of our communities that have the temerity to speak up – so yes, deliberate provocation.

pic of ophelia. Was it made by the pit. No – there was no point to it, nor any hint of any black humour – a prerequisite..

+++ He is very much the archetype of the guilt-ridden closet homosexual that rants and raves about them goddamn fags that are corrupting society.

The jacobin reality being forced on us has reduced the communities to 3 real categories – not the two as proposed by Carrier of chuds and enlightened – slympit, shmucks and frauds. who look at kristalnacht not as historical wornings but as how to guides.

“While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence… The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism… By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally.” — Sam Harris, The End of Faith

“There is a new atheism brewing, and it’s the rift we need, to cut free the dead weight so we can kick the C.H.U.D.’s back into the sewers and finally disown them, once and for all” — Richard Carrier

“So shall it be at the end of the world: the Angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just” — Matthew 13:49, King James Bible 

No matter what angle you approach this nonsense from, you cannot avoid the sour taste of its cult-like religiosity. We have taboos being reimposed on language and thought. Sexuality, after decades of battle to liberate it, is once again being laden with fear, guilt and shame. Skepticism and critical thinking is suspended in favour of faith and belief – in what are little more than Vestal Virgins who cannot lie and are persecuted as they tend the sacred fires that enlighten us of the sexism and misogyny that they insist has overwhelmed our communities.

separating “CHUDS” from those that have found salvation by accepting the holy spirit of Rebecca Watson into their lives.

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