Friday, 31 August 2012

More Atheism+ stuff

Now that I think about it, I was a little wishy-washy when it comes to whether I would call myself a follower of Atheism+ and joining the movement.

I think that I would be something of a "fellow traveller" at the moment because the ideals that were laid out are ones that I either agree with or can agree with, but that is because the moderate movement hold broad, generalised views.

What concerns me the most about Atheism+ is that it's a product that will be heavily influenced by FreethoughtBlogs. And that concerns me. FtB has shown itself to be rather dogmatic when it comes to certain social issues.

For example, look at what happened with thunderf00t. He was invited to join FtB, and when he did he - to quote PZ Myers - "wrote during the short week he was here was incoherent, unprofessional rages against feminism and the whole network he was on".

(By the way, it seems at the time I write this you can still access his now defunct blog on the network.)

I don't know whether they see it like that but thunderf00t being kicked off of FtB was seen by those outside of the network as a silencing of dissent. Rather ironic when you consider the whole network was apparently founded because of censorship on the part of National Geographic who bought out the ScienceBlogs network. Although whether that reason reflects reality remains to be seen.

While I knew most of the big name bloggers there were pro-Watson during Elevatorgate, up until that point I had never really expected to see dissent, no matter how badly written, from a position to be censored on a website that was apparently founded on anti-censorship.

My last post on Atheism+ worked on the assumption that the moderate branch of the organisation would not create an orthodoxy. The problem is that Atheism+ will be formed mainly from regular readers/commenters on FtB. And considering that they are from a site that has an underlying set of unquestionable beliefs there is a very real possibility that Atheism+ will also adopt a party line that one is required to follow.

Looking at the comments on this post by Greta Christina you can see noelplum99 having his positions misrepresented by others. The word "privilege" is used a few times. If you don't want to read the comment thread, you can watch this video by BigLundi
who goes through the thread for you.

Looking at some of the threads from the A+ forums (yes, they have forums now) some of the comments already seem to show an insular view, this is despite the fact that nobody actually knows what the more detailed position is for the more moderate movement on the broad topics I mentioned in my last post.

To quote the poster BillHaines:

An aggressive group would've banned you already. Unorganized is to be expected; we're like three days old here, give us a break. You're either with us or -- why are you here? Inappropriate is in the eye of the beholder -- and as JM put it, "I just want a space where atheists with a shared interest in social justice can actually discuss it and get stuff done. You are free to form your own groups or continue taking part in whatever atheist community will have you. You can even come and civilly take part in our discussions! But we don’t need to tolerate the intolerant within our own space." So...
(Bolding mine)

This is a comment directed at someone making a suggestion about the name. How dare the user Mefune question the validity of the name? The other question is if Mefune had posted this question later on, when the site became more organised, would he have been banned?

This issue on diversity of opinion was brought up by the user surreptitious57 who made the perfectly valid point that as a movement becomes more diverse there are going to be more people who disagree with positions. The fact that a mod (BillHaines) doesn't seem to get that is a little worrying.

But as I said, I'm not going to support a movement when I have no idea what the movement actually stands for.

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