One of the reasons for revisiting my oft-neglected blog is the issue of censorship. Today, I was removed from a group that I’d been a visitor of for the last few months. My last post and comments were censored; the ideas deleted, the thoughts expunged.
Now. It must have been a hideously bad post to have received such hard-handed treatment, eh? Perhaps it was incongruous to the group it was posted to? Did I flame? Did I troll? The easy answer to those questions is no, no, no and no.
So what did I do that warranted my removal? I raised the suggestion that a closely-affiliated (linked, plugged and interviewed) group was counterproductively emphasising differences in society, rather than embracing/ignoring those differences. They were, in summary, being sexist.
Here’s the image that accompanied my post.
Gentlemen who do Skepticism is a parody of Ladies who do Skepticism. Without word-for-word repeating what I argued (which would be tricky, after it being censored) I made the point that gender-based issues in something as non-gender-based as skepticism is a faulty (to put it mildly) premise.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of my position, as with any discussion, I’d expected debate in both directions. That isn’t what happened. I quickly had ad hominems thrown my way. An ad hominem is (simply put) argument by attacking someone’s character, rather that attacking their ideas. As a group of skeptics, who are normally well-informed about logical debate and poorly-presented arguments (when approaching the world of the paranormal or bad science) they should have been fully knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness of using ad hominems. They should also have been fully knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness of argument-by-numbers.
If one person has an idea, that idea is no less wrong if he is in a minority – even if that minority is one. Proving him wrong requires reasoned, logical argument. Finding security in numbers (either in the thread, or comforting “you’re right, he’s wrong” comments on Twitter) is less-than-agreeable, when holding a debate.
The group in question is called Righteous Indignation. Except, there is nothing righteous about their indignation. One of the founders of Righteous Indignation is someone called Hayley Stevens, a “rather friendly skeptic”. Except, there is nothing rather friendly… well, you can see a recurring theme, here. I hadn’t expected a positive, warm response from Hayley as she also contributes to a site called SheThought. Yes, that’s right, “She Thought”, a website that is based upon the neural capacities of people with an XX chromosome where (if you’re fortunate) people with XY chromosomes can also contribute. Except it isn’t called “Thought” or “Our Thought” or “Human Thought”. It’s called “She Thought”. Yes. Embrace every critical thinker, so long as the coin-toss of genetics gave them the same chromosome pairings as you. If those pairings gave you a different skin colour, you might be outraged that they are less interested in you. But hey, if it was a gender difference, we’ll welcome the differentation as if there’s nothing even remotely abhorrent about making that distinction.
I wasn’t expecting an easy ride from someone who has sexist views, but I was happily hoping for at least a little more of something that could adequately be described as debate. But that’s not what happened. What happened was censorship.
So, as a final note to today’s sorry tale of censorship from a group who can now be trusted less than they could before… I’ll add a little Quackery Quote a la Righteous Indignation.
“…I am an atheist. This doesn’t make me an evil person. It just means that I choose to believe one god less than religious people.” – Hayley Stevens, Queen of Bad Thinking (which is just as catchy as Righteous Indignation’s moniker of “King of Bullshit” for David Icke).
If a religious person is a polytheist, believing in one less god than them doesn’t equate to atheism, Hayley. Now, it would be easy to say that everyone can make a simple mistake of flawed logic, but (much as the same allowance isn’t made for David Icke) this is one of many examples of bad thinking.
And now, I shall censor myself, and stop writing.