Everybody is to be more nice like me

More Stedman and McLaren. Sorry. Fair warning, so that you can stop reading now if you’re fed up to the back teeth with them.

Stedman is annoyed that gnu atheists don’t take his and McLaren’s advice on what “will benefit the atheist movement” but instead dare to offer “disagreements and accusations that McLaren, Luna, I (and many who affiliate with us) don’t have the best interests of the atheist movement in mind.”

That’s an odd complaint. It seems like a tangent. I don’t really know what they have in mind, I know only what they do, and what they do is talk a lot of nasty smack about gnu atheists, most of which is exaggerated at best.

Then Chris does a long complaint about people thinking he agrees with every word of every guest post. Well he said of McLaren’s guest post that it was a doozy, in a good way, and that it was “a hugely informative and clear-eyed assessment of the state of the atheist movement.” Yes, I thought he pretty much agreed with it. If he doesn’t want us to think that, he could always refrain from lavishly praising the guest posts in his introductions.

My ask? That commenters here strive to see posts for what they are; that they make every attempt to assume that the author has the best of intentions and go about raising their disagreements in a way that is civil and demonstrates a genuine desire to get at the heart of the truth.

But that’s too much to ask, giving the energetically insulting tone and substance of McLaren’s post. It’s also a double standard. It’s telling commenters to be more “civil” than McLaren is.

[Note: I’m not going to go down the path of defending the more personal criticisms directed at me — I have no interest in humoring the accusations that I might not actually be an atheist, or that I don’t have the best of intentions concerning the atheist movement, for which I’ve sacrificed an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy. There’s really no reasoning with such baseless criticism.]

Self-important and self-pitying both at once. Again: I don’t know what his intentions are, I know only what he does; what he does is throw mud at gnu atheists at frequent intervals. This is a crowd-pleasing thing to do, so the self-pity thing isn’t going to work.

Now McLaren.

But the anger that was returned in many of the comments (and in retort posts on other sites) was none of these things. A subset of the anger I witnessed contained no respect, no boundaries, and no rules. It was an anger that involved direct slander against me, personal attacks against Chris Stedman (for daring to give me a public forum), and repetitive attempts to silence me, dehumanize me, and control my intellectual output and my voice.

Those are very strong accusations. She gives no examples, no links, no names, no evidence. I don’t believe her. I think she made a lot of rude and inaccurate accusations about new atheists (and maybe some gnus), and got a lot of rude replies as a result. She uses her own anger to inflate the putative crimes of other people, while wrapping herself in the flag of Niceness. It didn’t work last time and it doesn’t work this time. It convinces people who already like that kind of thing, but it repulses people who already despise it.

That’s the trouble with setting yourself up as the Ambassador of Nice. It means you have to be able to perform Niceness yourself. McLaren is transparently bossy and hostile, so she made a mistake thinking she could do that. Another failed diplomatic mission.

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