Richard Dawkins, so he says, wants to improve the forums on his website by implementing some new changes. He wants to keep it “scientific” and “rational”. The forums had, apparently, become a safe haven for Darwinians and atheists to post whatever uninteresting and vile subject matter their atheistic and Darwinian philosophy saw fit. So Dawkins posted a letter announcing the changes to the forums:
Starting a new discussion will require approval, so we ask that you only submit new discussions that are truly relevant to reason and science. Subsequent responses on the thread will not need approval—however anything off topic or violating the new terms of service will be removed…We know some of you will be against this change. We ask that you respect our decision and help make this transition as smooth as possible.
The reaction he received from some of his own Darwinian and atheistic followers was heinous, so he responded:
Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, over-reacting so spectacularly to something so trivial. Even some of those with more temperate language are responding to the proposed changes in a way that is little short of hysterical. Was there ever such conservatism, such reactionary aversion to change, such vicious language in defence of a comfortable status quo? What is the underlying agenda of these people? How can anybody feel that strongly about something so small? Have we stumbled on some dark, territorial atavism? Have private fiefdoms been unwittingly trampled?
Be that as it may, what this remarkable bile suggests to me is that there is something rotten in the Internet culture that can vent it. If I ever had any doubts that RD.net needs to change, and rid itself of this particular aspect of Internet culture, they are dispelled by this episode.
But, Dr. Dawkins, you knew they were snakes when you picked them up, why are you surprised when you get bitten? You invited them, gave them a home, encouragement, free reign, why the surprise?