Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Now that's just ugly by design

Every day, except when I am in blog-detox (it never works) two of the handful of religion/science ID/evolution sites on my must-see list are Telic Thoughts (TT) and After The Bar Closes (ATBC).

These are, nominally speaking, white-hat black-hat sites. TT is pro-ID (but, at least from Mike Gene, and a couple other contributors, not slavishly so) and Christian friendly. ATBC is anti-ID and populated mostly but not exclusively with atheists.

I like both sites. As a sort of man-without-a-country I get in debates on both, and am (mostly) treated respectfully on both.

I like ATBC in spite of the fact that they have a thread dedicated to my stupidity (Called the Dave Heddle Stat Chat ) that is almost as old if not older than their raison d’ĂȘtre, the thread devoted to the Golden Gate Bridge Painting Task of documenting Uncommon Descent shenanigans. And certainly much older than the one devoted to TT. (And much shorter than either, which is either an insult or a compliment.) I like ATBC because when I post there on theology or fine tuning, and as long as I am on-topic and make actual arguments, they will engage them. Who can ask for more? (On-topic at Uncommon Descent and various ID listserves controlled by WAD or minions thereof simply got me banned.) They are, in fact, much more engaging than Panda's Thumb, from which they were calved. Yes, they are quite irreverent, and definitely not for the faint of heart, but I take guilty pleasure in clever irreverence. Perhaps it is my background—growing up a non-Christian in an inner city environment— I feel quite comfortable in a "Your momma is so ugly…" environment. (And I could be self-righteous and note that being friends of sinners has some precedent, but I wouldn't do that.)

As for TT, I have good relationships with a couple members of the board, am personal friends with someone behind the scenes at TT, and have long considered it the best ID blog. Although I have blogged so long I don't give a rat's butt about links anymore, I appreciate that in spite of my pariah status in the official ID community, TT has maintained its front page link to He Lives.

Lately TT and ATBC have been at war. Actually the war is antisymmetric, comprised of one person named Guts from the TT board of contributors taking on, in a manner of speaking, everyone who cares to join in from the ATBC regulars. The entire inglorious campaign is archived here.

The Sinking of the Maine in this war appears to be something I missed during one of my detox sessions—a banning or barring of an ATBCer named Frostman on TT—with his posts being deleted. That is one of the issues: TT (just like ATBC) has, as I understand, a policy of sending posts that are either off topic or in some other manner "over the top" to a Black Hole of Calcutta thread, the "memory hole" on TT and the "Bathroom Wall" on ATBC. I have personal experience with both. Apparently Frostman's posts were deleted rather than memory-holed.

Not having seen the exchange in question, I have nothing to say about that except this: in the early part of Guts v. ATBC thread, Guts stated he would restore posting privileges if Frostman (the shunned) would apologize to Bradford (another TT contributor) for Frostman's claim (on TT, but, as I understand, deleted) that Bradford took a quote from popular science writer Paul Davies out of context. Guts wrote to Frostman, with emphasis added:
For future reference, perhaps understanding that telling someone that they have taken a quote out of context is extremely offensive, and in fact, is not commonplace. It actaully takes a lot of work to selectively choose sentences that would clearly alter the meaning of the paragraph. The Nazis used to do it with various phrases from the Talmud.
Letting the Goodwin's Law demonstration slide, Guts is wrong. Telling someone they have taken a quote out of context is not offensive, let alone extremely so, and it is oh-so commonplace as to be darn near ubiquitous. I don't know if Bradford agrees with this, that he was extremely offended, but I hope not. Anyone who finds the accusation of "taking a quote out of context" in the bloghetto that is our ID-evolution online community is much too thin skinned for life in the hood. It is virtually impossible to quote anyone in support of your position (especially anyone nominally assumed to be aligned with the opposition) without a detractor, rightly or wrongly, claiming that you took the quote out of context. I was once, I think it was on Panda's Thumb but I might be wrong, accused of quoting myself out of context.

Guts (from the white-hat team, mind you) seems to undergo a rather sudden personality transplant. Civility and reasonableness are cast aside, and he lobs on the order of a hundred small posts at ATBC, hurling insults replete with terms like "asshole, moron, idiot, stupid, dumbass, faggotry, retard" etc. Of these, per se, I have no objection. As I said, I enjoy ATBC in part because of its irreverent style, and I can be as ribald as, say Martin Luther. But when Luther waxed scatological about Rome, he was making a point.

Irreverence without substance is just crass, and that is how Guts behaved. He took a tough stance about how he was willing to debate, and displayed Demsbkian prophetic vision about how he'd repudiate the ATBCers "in the coming weeks," but he posted nothing substantive at all. One ATBCer suggested that Guts was trying to commit suicide by cop. He wanted to be banned from ATBC to deflect criticism that he was a banninator. And the longer he wasn't banned, the more it snowballed. I can't speak to Guts's motives, but the charge smells plausible.

Guts, I'm afraid, and quite sorry to say, made TT look very bad. But here again is the link. Judge for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment