Oh dear! I have for the last few months been pursued by a small but incredibly tedious group of three or four fundie atheists around the Richarddawkins forum. Today I find that I am again warned, and this time banned. Not in itself a big issue – I probably deserved it, and it’s only for a week — but the issue is that the parties responsible seem to once again remain unwarned and completely free to continue their harassment.
The bigger issue is that in a website dedicated to Reason and Science no rule exists to forbid ad hominem attacks. Personal insults are banned (yet are employed extensively – the intelligent and astute poster Tim O Neil throws insults that make me cringe, and regularly tells people to F*** off – but my use of gentler terms to rebuke those who keep harassing me, including the F*** off result in formal warnings.
The rules preclude civilized behaviour by allowing one to cry “tactics” — I could explain, but basically the posters in question endlessly accuse me of everything under the sun, and keep diverting from the actual arguments, even blatantly lying about what I have said on occasion.. I must say that there seems little point in trying to engage in any kind of constructive dialogue on the site anymore. This is a real shame.
Now I’m not saying that the mods are bad – most are pretty excellent – but there is a definite bias towards some parties as with any forum (and to be fair they are often biased in my favour), but the continued harassment of those with any kind of opposing viewpoint by a handful of dogmatic fundamentalist atheists is allowed to continue – but then again it mirrors Dawkins own polemical style of ridiculing those who disagree with him, not one of his more attractive attributes. I think at the moment however I prefer Dawkins to his forum.
Last year a substantial group of the RD.net community left when Richard Dawkins suddenly imposed new community standards, removing some of the the more risque content, and they went off to pursue freedom from censorship at Thinking Aloud. I guess i might join them, but to be honest I will probably stay with the JREF, woo about Nazareth being more tolerable than personal abuse and constant harassment by a handful of morons.
99.999% of the posters on RichardDawkins.net remain fine fellows, as do all but one mod in my opinion – they are not shamefully partisan or just incompetent like this chap; but despite my oft voiced claim that Christians can post on RD.net freely and express their opinions and intelligently debate without harassment, and are not mistreated, and that the site is in no way a haven of rabid fundie loonies pursuing a dogmatic line — well I was wrong. The vast majority are not like that, but the tiny minority who are allowed to conduct personal harassment can poison the place. Grahbudd has left already, and I think others too – and after the debate is over I am planning to. For now I can only say what a terrible shame – and what a pity the place is associated with Richard Dawkins name, assuming he objects to ad hominem, personal insults and harassment and actually believes in reason, education and dialogue?
Ah well. The interweb is serious business. It’s hardly worthy of Encyclopedia Dramatica – that spat is still to come. I’m preparing for it though! Fortunately working in the media gives one rather more options than just being irritated, and my vindication in terms of the ongoing actual debate at least in the eyes of the public may not be too far off now. I am working on a History of Science project which will not please this bunch, as it’s a full blown assault on the conflict myth, and hopefully it will prove very influential, so we will see, but for now, I am miffed!