It’s a mistake to engage with these morons

Just a few points about “Brave Rieux tells it like it is…

I don’t have time for the new atheist idiots right now. But I wanted to flag up this remark by some bloke on the internet called Rieux.

There’s something a little skeevy about saying “on the internet” when the link goes here. Jeremy could have said “some bloke at Butterflies and Wheels.” It seems evasive to pretend this is all just random.

The context is the usual thing: some person writes something critical about the new atheists; new atheists go berserk; the mob arrives; insults are flung around;

“New atheists go berserk” is an exaggeration. One, the people who commented here and on McLaren’s post are only a small fraction of new atheists, not new atheists as such. Two, we didn’t really go berserk, we disputed various claims, and became more irritable when they were ignored or brushed off as beneath the notice of someone so important or treated as literally violent – or rather all those, in succession. Ok maybe getting more irritable is close enough to going berserk, but then why isn’t calling irritability “going berserk” itself “going berserk”? In other words the issue is heat and intensity of language (because that’s all there is here), so why are ours berserker while McLaren’s and Jeremy’s are entirely reasonable? Either both are berserker or both are reasonable.

“The mob arrives” is another exaggeration. We’re talking about a few people here. Fewer people than it would take to fill a bus or a Starbucks. Now, a lot of comments in succession that all agree in disagreeing with Person X can feel like a mob; I realize that; but that doesn’t mean they are a mob.

the character flaws, motivations, psychological makeup, etc., of the original poster are dissected at length; original poster cannot possibly respond to all the criticism (and knows perfectly well it would be futile anyway); new atheists jump up and down with self-righteous glee, and tell themselves they are the protectors of truth, rationality and honour (yeah right).

Original poster could respond to some of the criticism though, and doing so in a reasonable way might result in less criticism later. (In a reasonable way according to whom? Eye of the beholder. Yes but – some ways are clearly not reasonable.) More to the point, OP does not know it would be futile anyway. Neither does Jeremy. “The new atheist idiots” notwithstanding, it’s not the case that everyone who commented here and/or there is incapable of reasonable discussion.

The last clause: see above. Even if we are as described, are we really more so than McLaren in those two posts? Not that I can see.

Yes, we can mobilise large numbers of people and use scorn in order to communicate our “community’s” disapproval of a particular kind of “harmful” behaviour. Hurrah! Yes, scorn delivered by a mob has value when it’s directed at behaviour that really does cross “legitimate ethical lines” (those damned women wanting to drive their cars – pah!)!

No kidding – but that applies to so many things. It’s only as good as it is. Community disapproval of women’s rights or gay rights is a bad thing; community disapproval of racism or sexism is a good thing. We know. But in the wider world, atheists are the ones subject to community disapproval, and that is exactly what McLaren was playing into, and that was exactly what exasperated us about her posts. For some reason the faith-hugging community didn’t show up in force to defend McLaren, but that’s not because there is no such community.

Anyway, if mobs commenting on blogs are so reprehensible, consider Tom Johnson/YNH/Hammill/Wally. He created mobs all by himself as TJ/YNH, and used them for all he was worth. He used them to accuse people of lying – for instance Rieux, and me. It’s odd that all the venom is reserved for us.

…it’s a mistake to engage with these morons. Write your criticisms, but don’t give them a platform to respond. They’re not interested in a rational exchange of views, and you can’t come out on top against a mob…

Therefore the thing to do is post a string of insults and then close comments so that no one can respond. That’s being interested in a rational exchange of views. Hmm.

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