As I explained in my last blog, there is a curious strain of atheist or agnostic who, when perusing public discourse on matters of import, decides that the greatest enemies to improved reason and progress in that public discourse is something called a new atheist. It's difficult to define, but you know one when you see one! Meanness and snark is supposedly their defining attribute, according to those atheists who deplore them.
The facts, as we have seen, rather go against this attribute being a defining one, since these atheists, who deplore meanness and snark in public discourse, also employ it. Remarkably, their response to these revelations of meanness and snark by their own sympathisers, is to engage in yet more meanness and snark; here is an example, from Jeremy Stangroom, a respected writer and sociologist.
Remember, to put this into context, new atheists, such as PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne and Ophelia Benson, have had their reputations besmirched by a sock-puppet posing as a scientist claiming that some new atheist acolytes behaved rather boorishly in the faces of a theist or two (the story is a little vague); this was elevated by Chris Mooney at The Intersection into its own blog entry, presumably in support of Mooney's position, that the new atheists are mean and snarky (which isn't really in doubt), and that this is counter-productive to public discourse (which is). Now the story has been shown to be an invention, new atheists are pointing out the hypocrisy of the self-righteous brigade. Apparently, that is not allowed, according to Stangroom:
Basically, there’s this fella called Chris Mooney, and he tortures kittens. Not literal kittens, but metaphorical kittens that have something to do with framing and accommodation and communion wafers. Anyway, torturing kittens is a bad thing, especially if you get paid by the Templeton Foundation to do it, and this really, really, really upsets those righteous defenders of all that is good and true – the New Atheists.
The irony is palpable. The point here is that new atheists don't mind torturing kittens (er, metaphorically), it's that Mooney doesn't like it, and denounces it in others, but still does it himself. It's the hypocrisy that is the problem.
Now the New Atheists go on about Chris Mooney a lot. Imagine Sisyphus being condemned to listen to some facile bit of Vivaldi for the whole of eternity, or maybe Brian Leiter listing all the people he thinks don’t understand Nietzsche, and you’ll get a sense of it.
The irony is palpable. The point here is that Mooney goes on about the new atheists; he wrote a book which included attacks on them. They couldn't have cared less about him otherwise.
The vindictiveness and viciousness of the New Atheist horde in the face of Tom’s misbehaviour is extraordinary.
The irony is palpable. The point here is that the new atheists have been the subject of reputation-tarnishing untrue slurs from a chap who is hiding behind a pseudonym; it takes a great leap of logic to equate that sort of genuine vindictiveness and viciousness with questions seeking to understand the nature of Mooney's investigation of Tom's misbehaviour.
(To which, if I were Jean, I would be tempted to reply Fuck Off.)
The irony is palpable. Yay for less meanness and snark in public discourse!
Anyway, what’s amusing about all this is that it’s exactly the sort of reaction one would expect from certain sorts of religious fundamentalists when confronted with behaviour they consider unconscionable. It’s a demand for justice and retribution born of an absolute certainty of moral righteousness.The irony is palpable. And posing as a scientist to deliver a self-serving lie is exactly the sort of reaction one can expect from self-righteous atheists posing as morally superior? Yeah, right.
However, the truth is the participants in this witch-hunt are the 21st century, virtual-world, equivalent of a medieval mob baying for the blood their latest victim.
The irony is palpable. And attacking people standing up for reason and evidence against the unreasonable and deluded rather than attacking the unreasonable and deluded is not medieval in the least, is it?