I’ve been far too distracted by the #FTBullies argy bargy on Twitter lately because, you know, someone on the internet is wrong! Apologies to anyone who is sick of my twitter stream being dominated by this. If you want to know what it’s about, a pretty good but not quite up-to-date timeline can be found starting here.
— intepid (@intepid) July 27, 2012
Some skeptics are a bit stressed about this new rift (which is really just a re-opening of the old rift caused by elevatorgate) but seriously it’s as pointless to expect unity from skeptics as it is to expect unity from feminists or Christians or any other group. Just because you have some ideology in common doesn’t mean you’re going to agree on everything, and there will often be vehement disagreements about priorities, goals etc. That said, I think there might be a particular problem with skepticism in that it tends to intersect heavily with two other outspoken groups: libertarians and assholes.
I should point out that the flavor of Libertarian I am referring to is the kind who thinks Ayn Rand got it right. The very American Libertarian, who thinks tax is theft, selfishness a virtue and regulation of any sort evil. I could have been one of these; As a kid I was bright and capable, I read The Fountainhead and I related to Howard Roark like countless other teenage boys probably have. And then I grew out of it and became a human being.
I include Assholes here not as a cheap shot at the assholes going on about FreeThoughtBlogs being an evil cabal of feminazis, but in honest recognition that when your worldview routinely conflicts with so many deep-seated and privileged beliefs, it’s easy to forget that whilst your message will often offend, that’s not actually the goal. When I write an entire post about what an entitled asshole Thunderf00t is, I know I’m letting my own inner asshole off the leash a bit, and I don’t really expect to change the mind of his fans. We skeptics are used to making our points more aggressively because so often we are arguing them in the face of unimaginable (and proud) ignorance, sometimes against people who seem to question the usefulness of logic itself!
We want our opponents to admit “I was wrong”, but because NO ONE EVER FUCKING ADMITS THIS we resort to plan B, using our sharpest barbs to undermine them. It sounds horrible doesn’t it, but it’s either that or Plan C, walk away, and we really hate plan C because it looks too much like conceding. One person I have nearly lost my Plan B shit over in the past is Ray Comfort, creationist nut-job who loves the God that would see the unconverted burn in hell (because we all deserve it you see, and sparing the believers is merely an act of supreme generosity on His part).
So my point is… expect this crap to keep happening, and if down the track there is some major fragmentation of the community along feminist/progressive lines then it’s probably not the end of the world. The fact that the movement is large enough to have factions bashing each other up over social justice issues is a good thing, and ultimately we might realize we’re past the point where there’s any sense crying about how we’re not all crying about the same things.