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04 October, 2012

A Pyrrhic Victory

I'm joining the ranks of people blogging in support of Justin Vacula after he resigned his leadership position with SCA today. A smear campaign by one vicious, internet-famous, attention-grubbing opportunist in particular did so well to distract the secular community from the real issues gripping our nation and our world, that in order to protect the Secular Coalition of America, he decided to step down.

The accusations against Justin by various bloggers, tweeters and commenters in McCarthyist forums, included bullying, harassing people, and sharing of public information doc dropping on Surly Amy, the latter of which he's already apologized for. Meanwhile, no one on their side has apologized for their own transgressions and they continue to defend their foot soldiers for threatening people they disagree with.

My first thought when I read Justin's blog this morning was that the bullies had won, but I quickly realized that this is the culmination of a series of events over the last couple of weeks that amount to the death rattle of a fruitless heifer. Matt Dillahunty being banned from the Atheism+ forum after asking a question anonymously to try and prove that people were wrong about their criticisms, PZ Myers putting people in the unfortunate position of having to defend an MRA, and now Justin Vacula's resignation all do nothing more than show moderates how extreme the FtBullies clique really is and far they will go to elbow people from the community.

Once upon a time, people like PZ, Watson, McCreight and Greta did good for the world. They fought to unite atheists against the people who bullied, burned and tortured the great thinkers who dared ask questions. Now, they call that "tone trolling."

Justin has been able to admit that sharing the public link to Amy's address was a mistake. As someone with a big mouth and a much hotter temper than him, I look up to him for that. I have foot-in-mouth disease sometimes and I take note of people who admit their wrongs. I have yet to see the leaders on FtB admit they were wrong in their attacks on the character of people who challenged their beliefs. They simply don't live in the integrity they claim to espouse.

This "victory" for them has been Pyrrhic. They know it, or they wouldn't have to stoop to petty critiques of writing style in order to keep the dramedy going. Justin has promised to continue working for equal treatment of secularists and the separation of church and state. It's time to move on from this and start ignoring this little fringe group of extremists circle-jerking each other in the name of "social justice."

The people flocking to their blogs is dwindling and I imagine that legitimate secular organizations will be looking for people a little less focused on drama and a little more focused on the goals of the community. It won't take internet petitions -- the actions of people like Myers, Zvan, Benson and Watson really speak for themselves. Justin stepping down says miles more about them than it does him.

Goodnight everyone. I'm going to leave you all with a quote.

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." – John F Kennedy.


  1. Do you think it is better to ignore the A+ crowd (which almost none of us have managed to do) or challenge them and call attention to their hypocrisy? I ask because I'm conflicted. I suppose I've moved more toward the ignore side, but I'm still uncertain.

    1. At this point, with everything that's happened the last week or two, yes. They've finally lost all credibility. It's time for us to move on and start ignoring their silly little games, stop visiting their silly little blogs full of ads, and get back to the real fight we're facing.

    2. Bingo. As a former fan of PZ/Pharyngula/et al I have been utterly dismayed to see how that group has morphed into an ego driven, corrupt and dogmatic monster. I will never again make the assumption that an atheist, by definition, is a more intelligent being. The FTB/A+ Flying Monkeys have put a lot of effort into demonstrating that they are no better, and in some ways much worse, than the believers they used to rail against.

      We have one ultimate weapon on our side. There is only one thing they feed on: attention. The most effective act is simply to ignore them. I've disassociated myself with FTB, A+ and any blogger or website that supports them. You should do the same. If they attend a conference, boycott them. In their place, I've started to search out and subscribe to the more reasoned voices, such as here.

      Stay away from their sites and pages and blogs. If one of the FTB Flying Monkeys posts a comment, ignore it. Silence is there poison and it will slowly, but ever so surely, extinguish their vitriol.

  2. ". . . demonstrating that they are no better, and in some ways much worse, than the believers they used to rail against."

    They are not worse. We humans are all the same. If nothing else, this whole debate has at least made it possible for the more open minded atheists to catch a hint of what Christianity has been saying for ever, "The problem is within us." It's not the religion we follow, or the political party we vote for. It's not the colour of our skin or our gender etc. We humans are deeply flawed. All it takes is some stressor to float these flaws to the surface.

    The issue is not how good we are. The issue is that we need forgiveness.

    Good luck on your journey.
    God Bless.

    1. Creationist and religious dogma today is as bad as the dogma from feminists and AtheismPlus. However, when AtheimPlus starts wars and burning people at the sake, then the analogy will be complete. Until then, Christianity has a far longer list of atrocities.

      What we need isn't "forgiveness," but the ability to forgive each other, admit our faults and treat each other better. Putting forgiveness in the hands of God instead of seeking it with the people you've harmed is a cop-out and one of the worst theologies in human history.

  3. "If you do not forgive others, you will not be forgiven." Perhaps you missed that part of Jesus' teaching. If you observe humans, you'll notice that as is true regarding our Creator, is true for other relationships as well, "We love Him because He first loved us." And how did He love us first? "While we were still His enemies, Jesus died for us." It's knowing that we are freely forgiven that allows us to freely forgive. Unlike most secular versions of forgiveness, i.e., let it go and move on so you don't become emotionally bitter, Christian forgiveness, either God's forgiveness of us, or our forgiveness of others, is reconciliation, the restoration of the relationship.

    And before you grab that and run to extremes with it, at its base, Christian forgiveness is "Giving up my supposed and false right, to harm you for having harmed me." Forgiveness is not sanctioning the action of the other. It's not forgetting the action of the other, to not - oops I've got to go cut the Turkey. Happy Thanks giving.
    God Bless

  4. >"If you do not forgive others, you will not be forgiven." Perhaps you missed that part of Jesus' teaching.

    Read my comment again, it says that we humans need to forgive each other. Also, I don't give a hoot what a man who can't even be proven to ever have existed is said to have taught.

    >If you observe humans, you'll notice that as is true regarding our Creator

    No, if you observe humans, you will notice human behavior. Observing humans doesn't tell us anything about our origins and until a Creator can be empirically proven to exist, I'm not going to even rhetorically or hypothetically pretend like it exists or has any bearing on human behavior. If you don't have anything to add regarding the subject of this post and you keep posting theology, I'm going to stop answering you. It has absolutely no bearing on what I'm writing about and I don't appreciate you coming here to hijack my blog for your own proselytizing.