Conditions on Conversation

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      Something interesting happened the other day. Justin Vacula and David Silverman had an exchange on twitter. Dave was taking issue with Justin not being vocal enough about bad behavior from his “side” ( note:there is no one, two or ten sides to this. There are way more than that. Trying to simplify it as two sides shows a lack of understanding about the issue)  At one point David said this –

@justinvacula for example, the fake pic of @rebeccawatson in sexually demeaning position. Can you agree that’s shit? Publicly?

i don’t know what pic Dave is talking about. I don’t pay attention to that kind of shit and I don’t mention it because I assume people will know I do not approve of those types of pics. To draw attention to such idiotic behavior is to give the person who created it exactly what they want , attention. If you do not then people of this caliber will almost always go away. A need for attention is the entire reason for creating such a pic.

Sometimes even asking a question is insulting.  I wonder how Dave would feel if someone on CNN asked him if he thought child porn was a bad thing. I imagine he would scoff and maybe even hesitate before answering such a question because it would ( i hope ) be unexpected. Would he wonder why he was being asked such a question? Would he be just a little offended that someone would feel they needed to ask him if he was against child porn?

@justinvacula hate and threats against your opposition is the wrong thing about which to be silent.

Something really bothers me about the demand David Silverman made before he would have a conversation with Justin. Maybe because it was public and didn’t need to be. It kinda made Justin look bad when he really didn’t deserve it. Far worse behavior has been witnessed, calling  Justin out on this is a strange place to begin addressing bad behavior. Hasn’t Justin been misrepresented enough? I know he can take it but it is almost as if David was just bored or frustrated and needed to vent on someone. Did David Silverman feel like it was his chance to teach Justin a valuable lesson in life and he just chose to do it in a disrespectful manner?  I suppose only David knows the answer but I know I was uncomfortable reading the exchange. It was another instance where the leader of a large organization picked out an Individual to criticize in a public forum.  Justin has put himself in the middle of things, but again , there are others who would benefit more from the lesson David was attempt to teach IMO.

The exchange continued-

Richard Reed ‏@RichardReed8422 May

@MrAtheistPants are you going to condemn the way PZ has described people like myself? Disagreement is not trolling.

@JimMacDonaldMMA quit crying. We will deal with this one issue at a time. Step one is no anonymous hate, threats of violence, shit.

  So David says “one step at a time” regarding PZ then this happens-

David Silverman, a principled atheist: Go to twitter now: David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants) is tearing the ath… http://bit.ly/14y2yqF 

    David Silverman, a principled atheist

Atheism

by PZ Myers

Go to twitter now: David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants) is tearing the atheist trolls a new one. This is really what I like to see: a leader of a major atheist organization taking an unambiguous stand against this ulcer in our midst, and repudiating the spammy, photoshopping, lying behavior of the anti-feminist clique.

How much do I appreciate it? With my dollars. My wife is going to sign us up for a lifetime membership in American Atheists while I’m away. It’s not a casual investment, so not everyone can do that, but you could send them a donation to let the organization know that you like a leader with a spine.

 Here is where the real problem starts-
  1. Thanks! : David Silverman, a principled atheist: Go to twitter now: David Silverman is tearing the ath…

  2. Thank you for your support! We’d be proud to have you as a Life Member!

  3. you’re not listening. I tried to help. Please consider what I’ve written and meant. Gotta go.

 

So PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson are like two old squawking vultures circling David and Justin waiting for David to deal the last blow to the guy who has been disrupting their feeding time. David actually acknowledges PZ with a tweet/wave. At this point as you can see they are right in the middle of David calling on Justin to condemn behavior he had no active part in and has never made excuses for except to say nothing.  David Silverman has a perfect opportunity to address another large part of the problem. All he had to do was make the play-field level, apply the same rules to everyone. David should have asked the same thing of PZ  and Ophelia as he did of Justin. Of course PZ would have had to condemn himself if he were to properly answer David’s request. It would have been interesting to watch what happened.

Instead we get PZ throwing a reward at David and American Atheists as if there had been a WANTED sign with Justin’s name on it.

David Silverman does mention donations and new memberships later on in the evening so I guess we can credit Justin Vacula for doing more good work on behalf of atheism. If it were not for Justin no one would have been inclined to donate and PZ most likely wouldn’t have signed his wife and himself up as a lifetime members. PZ did make it sound like he had been holding off on offering his wife until a worthwhile deed was done. One worthy of his wife’s lifetime pledge. Justin attempting to get David Silverman on his podcast was that special thing PZ was waiting for. Seems odd to me but whatever PZ wants to give as a reward is his business, not mine.

To be fair David Silverman probably doesn’t know about all the childish, divisive, and hypocritical antics of the few FTB bloggers and Skepchicks. I wouldn’t expect him to, he has (I hope) better things to do up until now.

That has changed a little bit now. When David demanded a certain level of behavior from Justin then he set the bar. Neither The Lord of Hate PZ  or The Queen of Stalking Ophelia could  currently touch that bar even if they had a ladder.  That needs to change now. Since they both thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread watching David get Justin Vacula under control it should be just as entertaining when it happens to them. Will it happen? Will the bar be set at the same height for everyone? I hope so because if it isn’t I have a feeling there is going to be some fallout from that, as there should be.

 

     As a sideline I should mention I think David had the right idea in mind. No one should be correct by default and no one is always wrong. There should be more instances of people talking about things they agree about and making sure the unfair and pointless responses on either side get little or no attention.

 

 

 

  • Didgya

    David is blaming Justin for making demeaning pictures? As far as I know,Justin does not condone or initiate this behavior. PZ giving them a ‘donation’ to reinforce his behavior is disgusting. Unless I have severely misjudged David S., he will see through this when more information comes to light. I will not condemn him just for questioning but if he has these things presented rationally and still sticks to his opinion, then he is being intelligently dishonest as the religions he scorns. What PZ does not realize is that the more this gets out to the ‘mainstream’ Atheist movements, the more he looks like a dogmatic asshole.

  • Theo Fensivatheist

    To be fair to David, i saw this as an attempt by him to be seen not to be taking sides. He must be aware as much as anyone that if he agreed to the interview outright he would have faced attack by PZ/Watson et al. So he made a canny move by asking Justin to condemn what we all do already. It served to appease the FtBers & Justin only did what he’s done many times before. I look forward to the interview because this could be quite interesting. PZs decision to declare himself & his wife “Lifetime members” should be easily seen for what it is by anyone with half a brain…an obvious attempt to curry favour with David in advance of the show. I think Davids a bit to wise to fall for it. I hope i’m not proved wrong.

    • It’s wondefrul to have you on our side, haha!

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