Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

FYI-FTR: A headlined notice/response to abusive new atheists and their enablers


I had hoped that my in-thread response to the latest wave of outing and smear tactics at UD and elsewhere coming from denizens of the penumbra of attack sites surrounding UD would be enough; but based on further enabling behaviour, I find it necessary to headline for reference as follows:


>> . . . a few words need to be said after taking time to ponder how to speak to truly difficult to address issues without further giving currency to slander, outing and implicitly menacing intimidation. As in: we know you, where you are, those you care for, their homes or places of business etc. including things not readily found on the Internet that suggest on the ground casing of the joint. Ah, but we are not stalking or threatening you and those you care about, see. Mafioso style tactics that should not fool any decent person above five years of age, as has been going on for years in a penumbra of attack sites:

a: Immediate context. Across yesterday and going back some time, I have had to deal with further word snipping, twisting and false accusation tactics emanating from circles that operate such sites or are harboured by them. And no, I will not give salacious details.

b: It seems, the theory used by such rage-fueled unhinged attackers is that if one cannot cogently address a matter fairly on substance, then public false accusation, twisting words and circumstances into falsehood, raising undue suspicion and/or harming reputations through snide suggestions and making implicitly menacing references to uninvolved family can intimidate into silence. Or at least hopelessly polarise, poison, cloud and confuse the atmosphere as part of cynical divide, poison and rule tactics.

c: I must also note, again, that it is highly reasonable to request that the privacy of one’s name, email address, uninvolved relatives etc be respected in high traffic, contentious contexts on the Internet where spam crawlers and identity thieves etc as well as cyberbullies are likely to lurk in one form or another, whilst in much lower traffic corners of the net academic papers etc will give information per legitimate requirements of publication.

d: The deliberate and willful exposure of personal information in the context of cyberstalking and defamation, is cyber harrassment and worse, tort. Also the extension of such in contexts of attempting to undermine livelihood, falsely accuse of family abuse, consorting with criminals [as opposed to supporting the rehabilitation of former criminals], outing of uninvolved family etc is multiply and implicitly threatening behaviour.

e: Likewise, there is a reason why certain classes of cases protect the victim from public humiliation and forced further spreading of accusations. The former practice of trying to publicly humiliate and discredit rape victims in court is a thankfully now finished case in point. That is, there are good reasons to refuse to further engage details of hostile attack and abusive behaviour in public. Let us just say here that the relevant authorities with editorial power do know enough detail to base their actions. And so do the civil authorities.

f: Further to this, let the proverbial frog speak to the boy approaching, stone in hand: “fun fe yuh, is death to me.” In that vein, I note to the jack-booted bully-boy radicals of today who are playing at mob rule tactics and discrediting and smearing targets to seemingly justify attacks on freedom of expression, association and conscience:

He who would rob me of my means of daily bread,
would rob me of my life;
He who would rob me of my children,
would rob me of my posterity;
He who would rob me of my free voice and good name,
would rob me of my means of defending myself;
He who would rob me of my conscience,
would rob me of my soul.

g: Those who harbour, cosset or enable such behaviour and those who indulge in such should ponder what they are letting loose in our civilisation. For, as Solomon so aptly warned, life and death are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat the fruit thereof. I note too, as follows, from an author recently subjected to a slander attack, and forced to reply to false accusation of racism, by revealing his (inter-racial) family photo:

. . . a blog “journalist” . . . working beneath the banner of Entertainment Weekly — penned a short, error-laden article titled, “Hugo award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting.” The mistakes in the article could have been easily avoided if [X] had done some research into the issue she was reporting on. Near as I can tell, [X] was spoon-fed some links and a very rushed and sloppy narrative about Sad Puppies 3 being racist and woman-hating, and she posted all of this without stopping to consider whether or not anything she was disseminating into the wider world was true, and accurate.

The error-laden article quickly went viral — especially among opponents of Sad Puppies 3. Twitter (which I generally avoid and ignore) lit up like a Christmas tree, and quickly I had friends and other authors contacting me to say, “Entertainment Weekly has run a hatchet piece on you! Better jump on it!” So I read the piece. I noted the errors. I also noted that the piece made an explicitly inductive link between Sad Puppies 3 and last year’s great nerd controversy: GamerGate. The reasons for this were pretty obvious. Words like “racist” and “misogynist” are presently code for “not part of the human equation” thus any man or woman who can be successfully labeled these things, is cut off from polite circles, perhaps even driven out of the workplace, or worse. These words tend to be used as general-purpose ideological grenades, when the thrower of said grenades lacks sufficiently real evidence of wrong-doing — but wants to see the target squirm and suffer anyway.

An unadulterated version of the . . . article can be found here.

The presently “corrected” version of the article — Entertainment Weekly made several alterations to the article, including its root URL, after myself and many others noted that the article was a) grossly in error and could also b) serve as grounds for libel litigation — can be viewed here.

But of course, by then, the damage had been done. Both myself and my colleague Larry Correia — who typed up a very good piece here — had been dragged through the digital mud. I count no less than a dozen different links which all picked up the error-laden . . . piece, and ran with it sight-unseen; because of the blaring headline. Again, the spoon-fed in turn spoon-feed others. And whatever hope there might have been that facts could trump a narrative, was lost in the white noise of a not-so-subtle smear job.

I can’t say which individuals decided to launch the smear job. The internet moves at the speed of light and the 24 hour news cycle is forever hungry for new material; regardless of how bogus it might be. I suspect some of the insider SF/F people who dislike Sad Puppies 3 decided that the best way to “win” the insider baseball argument, was to stage a broader media flare-up for the sake of fatally discrediting the “poster people” of Sad Puppies 3. Namely, myself, and Larry Correia.

Now, I am a patient man. I’ve got a long fuse. But this tactic employed today . . . it’s on another level. This isn’t just nerds bickering anymore. Baseless, false allegations of this type can ruin careers as well as lives. We’ve seen this before. The internet has allowed yellow journalism and rumor-mongering to run riot. And I have to be honest. No lie told in the service of a supposedly higher cause, ever does justice to the higher cause. No matter how widely-spread the narrative. If the basis of the narrative is false, then the narrative itself is fatally undermined, and thus the arguments that form the building blocks of the narrative are themselves undermined.

Oh, I am sure this will blow over eventually. To Entertainment Weekly’s credit, they did take action — once myself and others explicitly told them that the . . . article was a dreadfully poor piece of research. Frankly, I feel like [X] herself owes myself and Larry Correia a public apology. That was shoddy reporting. And it’s potentially very damaging. I mean, if you’re going to play a role in somebody else’s effort to trash us, at least spend two minutes doing a little googling.

I understand that tabloid tactics make money, and that on the internet especially, journalistic integrity has become something of an oxymoron.

What disturbs me more is that the field of SF/F is stooping this low. That some of my colleagues — and no, contrary to my impression of the field 20 years ago, not everyone likes or gets along with each other — have decided to make the nerd argument over the Hugos into a decidedly personal grudge match. Where the objective is to not just win the argument, but to destroy the arguer. Professionally. In the marketplace. On the big stage of public opinion. This is the kind of stuff you ordinarily find in cut-throat national political elections, but then it’s been clear for years that cut-throat politics have drifted down into nerd circles of all kinds: comic book circles, movie and television circles, video game circles, etc. There’s simply no escaping it. And there are people for whom winning is more important than ethics, more important than integrity, and more important than the truth . . .

As the Greeks say, a word to the wise . . . and, if one’s neighbour’s house is afire, wet your roof and help him put out the blaze.>>


This is a notice for reference, accordingly, no comments. END