"And sometimes he's so nameless"

There’s probably no Forum – Now relax and enjoy your Life: Richard Dawkins on changes at the forum

Posted in atheism, Science by Chris Jensen Romer on February 25, 2010

(Title nicked from brilliant Twitter post by someone, mentioned on Rationalia.com  The image is by Gurdur)

OK, OK, I know I said I would not write on this tedious topic any more. But the despondency of this morning at seeing a lot of hurt unhappy people and musing over ‘rationalist’ websites ability to explode has no turned to mild good humoured amusement. Richard Dawkins managed to cheer me up – not because I agree with him or anything he says on this topic; completely the opposite — but because it was good old bellicose belligerent Dawkins coming out fighting, and because now we know not to blame Josh.  PZ Myers  has washed his hands of the matter, not wanting to get dragged in, but Richard Dawkins has now posted on his forum (shame nobody else can!) You can read his modest opinions on there…

A Message from Richard Dawkins about the website updates

Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”  (More there…)


All of the quotes he ascribes to posters are not from the few minutes between the letter being posted and the locking of the forum – they are all from Rationalia.com I can’t get on rationalia at the moment – the server is overloaded, but you can see there a discussion of how each quote was originally framed, and I note that many of them applied to Josh the administrator, not Richard. I’m not apologising – I never said any of those things.

UPDATE: More amusingly the row has made The Times Online – go read the (fairly inaccurate but well intentioned!) piece…
UPDATE: Gurdur who sounds like a sensible kind of chap comments on the mess at Heathenhub (love the name!)
UPDATE:  Hackenslash adds his informed and very good opinion.
UPDATE: A new forum for exiles – Rationalsceptics.org
UPDATE Ruth Gledhill seem to take DAwkins’ side – and Dawkins says “it’s a storm in a  tea cup”
UPDATE: Guardian Online pick up the story
Richard says in Ruth’s piece

‘I do think that the cloak of anonymity under which so many posters on the internet hide does encourage a culture of rudeness and extreme language which people would never indulge in if they were writing under their own name. I think anonymity does have bad consequences and we see them all the time. On the other hand, there are times when people genuinely need to be confidential. So I can see why, for example, people in America who lost their faith and do not want their families to know, or perhaps more seriously, people of an Islamic background who have lost their faith or become Christian, have every reason to be anonymous. But the culture of anonymity whereby the default expectation is anonymity does encourage rudeness.’

have fun!
cj x

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