Here’s Coyne quoting Myers:
Here’s how you don’t respond to Williams death: as P.Z Myers has in a post at Pharyngula, in which he claims that the media (and our government) has taken advantage of Williams’s death to draw attention away from racism and other social problems. In other words, we’ve been manipulated:
I’m sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family. But his sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.
. . . Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction. No one wants to think the police might be untrustworthy. [This refers to the police shooting of black teenager Mike Brown in St. Louis.]
And think of the politicians! Midterm elections are coming up. Those are important! So people like Barack Obama need to be able to show their human side and connect with the real concerns of the American people by immediately issuing a safe, kind statement about Robin Williams, while navigating the dangerous shoals of police brutality and black oppression by avoiding them. Wouldn’t want to antagonize those lovely law-and-order folks before an election, you see.
Wealthy white man? Really? This is one of the most contemptible and inhumane things I’ve ever seen posted by a well-known atheist. It reeks of arrogance, of condescension, and especially of a lack of empathy for those who loved and admired Williams not because they knew him, but because he brought them happiness and made them think.
Well said. But I wonder if Coyne was caught off guard by Myers’ “arrogance” and “condescension,” which isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Surely Coyne isn’t just now discovering that Myers’ comments often reek of arrogance and condescension. And atheists wonder why believers sometimes brand nonbelievers as close-minded pricks. Its because of assholes such as this.
Postscript: After sleeping on it and talking in the comments section, I had a few more thoughts on this. I think the point Myers was trying to make about the media milking Williams’ death was probably a legit gripe, but it was far overshadowed by the statement about “wealthy white men” and “it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction,” which were particularly abhorrent. The man hung himself after a lengthy battle with depression and addiction and still managed to be one of the most beloved figures of our time; whatever the media and politicians hope to gain from his death is beside the point.