And Neil thought he had problems . . .

19 09 2008

Just have a look at the grief Martin Wagner is experiencing at the hands of a loving Christian. In a nutshell: Wagner, co-host of The Atheist Experience TV show and author of the Atheist Experience blog, critiqued a creationist’s article on the evils of atheism. Well, the creationist didn’t like that, and retaliated by vandalising Wagner’s Wikipedia entry, claiming that Wagner was a drug addict and a paedophile. Wagner called him on it on the Atheist Experience blog, and the creationist didn’t like that, either, so—like a hybrid of David Mabus and John A. Davison—he trawled atheist and Christian discussion boards alike across the Internet, and started a half-dozen blogs, wailing persecution at the hands of Wagner and a Wikipedia administrator (the creationist’s vandalism led to his banning from Wikipedia). Wagner, now armed with sufficient evidence to mount an online defamation suit, obtained the services of an attorney. The creationist went quiet for three months, then issued Wagner with a “Cease and desist” letter. Wagner has decided that enough is enough, and is now pressing ahead with legal action. He observes:

If you write anything online, there’s a good chance it will be read by someone you don’t know, who isn’t already your friend and predisposed to be kind to you no matter how much you insist on doing the writing equivalent of face-planting on the pavement. That’s the crazy thing about the intarweebs: there are people on it. People who have opinions who don’t always march in lockstep with your own. And if they disagree with you, they’ll say so. Sometimes they’ll be polite (which I am), sometimes they’ll be snarky and sarcastic (which I am). But there’s no protective law that says that opinion articles published on blogs and websites get to be shielded from criticism or even pure derision. I understand, every time I post to AE, that what I’m writing is as likely to be critiqued or flamed as it is to be praised. And I don’t mind that fact. If your ego is too fragile to take criticisms of your writing and ideas, you shouldn’t be writing in as public (some might say anarchic) a venue as the frackin’ internet!

Absolutely right. But that’s the thing about these high RWAs, especially when they are permitted access to a keyboard and an internet connection. They don’t like it when people disagree with them. They take disagreement with their ideas as a personal attack, and they deem it justifiable to respond in kind. And given the havoc and mischief they can wreak upon their victims—outing in Jeremy’s case, stalking in Bruce’s case, hacking in Neil’s case, and now legal threats in Wagner’s case—they arguably should be considered a threat to democracy, if not society.


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7 responses

19 09 2008
Bruce

They take disagreement with their ideas as a personal attack…

I raise you a Bertrand Russell – “‘Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.”

All quite deplorable of course. How frail some people’s arguments and egos are.

19 09 2008
AV

I raise you a Bertrand Russell – “‘Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.”

A parallel can be drawn to (some) theists’ instinctual response to atheism. (I’ve encountered such responses to my own atheism.)

19 09 2008
Bruce

That atheism is a hate crime (often against God, but sometimes the religious?) ;-)

19 09 2008
AV

I think it has something to do with the fact that theism advances a claim about God’s existence, asserts God’s existence as a given, and then along comes atheism and shows how it is actually possible not to accept the theist claim. That possibility is a huge slap in the face for some theists, perhaps more than they can take.

I have to remind myself of this every time I come across the bile and invective directed against atheists, even when it is delevered in the polite tones (though now and then building to a sustained shouting and screaming—the vocal equivalent of ALLCAPS) and smug smile of Christian apologetics.

28 09 2008
Theological innatism is one of the main reasons why many theists find atheists abhorent « The Thinkers’ Podium

[...] theists find atheists abhorent Posted on September 28, 2008 by Bruce Recently in a rather brief discussion with AV, we commented on how difference from convention is often interpreted as commentary on the [...]

28 09 2008
Theological innatism is one of the main reasons why many theists find atheists abhorrent « The Thinkers’ Podium

[...] theists find atheists abhorrent Posted on September 28, 2008 by Bruce Recently in a rather brief discussion with AV, we commented on how difference from convention is often interpreted as commentary on the [...]

28 09 2008
Bruce

That first trackback is a broken link, sorry. My bad. :(

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