So, while I visit Free Thought Blogs on occasion, I’m not a daily reader. Thus, I wasn’t familiar with the whole squabble that took place this summer between P.Z. Myers and the blogger who calls himself Thunderf00t. Here is Myers’ side of the story, and here is Thunderf00t’s. Apparently when things really got nasty between the parties involved, Thunderf00t allegedly disseminated confidential information about other bloggers on FTB. I have no idea whether that’s true or not neither do I care.
The crux of the problem, as I understand it, was that Thunderf00t went too far in his criticism of Myers — the one atheist on the Internet you don’t dare criticize — regarding a discussion on feminism and even criticized the site itself by saying that FTB is headed toward becoming “more of a fringe group that is intolerant of non-conformity …”
Here’s an explanation for those interested:
Of course, all this is way too much drama for me, and while I did approach FTB at one time about possibly having my blog included in the line up, mostly because I saw it as a way to increase readership, I’m glad that this site has maintained its independence. The takeaway lesson: any forum, even one run by “freethinkers” usually has a filter. I still think it’s stunning that a writer on a relatively obscure blogging community such as FTB can get the boot for criticizing the person Sam Harris has called that “shepherd of Internet trolls.” Some people take themselves way too seriously. Seriously.
Here is a post about FTB’s new “policies” after the dispute with Thunderf00t.
Speaking of Harris, Myers agreed with a list that named the neuroscientist one of the five most “awful” atheists, whatever “awful” means. Along with Harris on the list are Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and S.E. Cupp.
Harris made the list for his supposed view of racial profiling, which is a misunderstanding at best. Harris, in this response, addresses both his critics and, perhaps, the very political correctness that got Thunderf00t booted from FTB:
I suspect that it will surprise neither my fans nor my critics that I view the furor over this article to be symptomatic of the very political correctness that I decry in it. However, it seems that when one speaks candidly about the problem of Islam misunderstandings easily multiply. So I’d like to clarify a couple of points here:
1. When I speak of profiling “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice). To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest. It is the charm of political correctness that it blends these sins against reasonableness so seamlessly. We are paying a very high price for this obscurantism—and the price could grow much higher in an instant. We have limited resources, and every moment spent searching a woman like the one pictured above, or the children seen in the linked videos, is a moment in which someone or something else goes unobserved.
2. There is no conflict between what I have written here and “behavioral profiling” or other forms of threat detection. And if we can catch terrorists before they reach the airport, I am all for it. But the methods we use to do this tend to be even more focused and invasive (and, therefore, offensive) than profiling done by the TSA. Many readers who were horrified by my article seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with “gathering intelligence.” One wonders just how they think that is done.
And on Myers directly, Harris had this to say:
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on profiling at airport security checkpoints. Given that I suggested (twice) that white men like myself also fit the profile of a possible terrorist, I would have thought that charges of “racism” would be off the table. Not so. In fact, people like PZ Myers continue to malign me as an advocate of “racial profiling.” I have written to Myers personally about this and answered his charges publicly. His only response has been to attack me further and to endorse the false charges of others.
I have read three of Harris’ books now and have watched many of his debates. To suggest that Harris is attempting to do anything other than move humanity toward a better society is deeply, devilishly misguided, so much so that I sometimes think that folks like Myers criticize him just to have something to write about or to stir the trolls.