June 27, 2012 9 Comments
Man, this has been a banner year for demonstrating that atheist luminaries have feet of clay. Or, in some cases, manure. Case in point: Thunderf00t, an atheist science-vlogger whose YouTube videos about science, skepticism, atheism, and creationism have long been among my favorites. It’s been awhile since I diligently checked my YouTube feed, but it’s still subscribed to Thunderf00t’s channel. I’ve even used his video showing the difference in combustion speeds of different chemicals in my classroom. But I may be cancelling that subscription in light of the recent (to me, anyway. Some are less surprised) revelation that Thunderf00t is a colossal asshole.
I’m not going to get too deep into his strawmanning, goalpost-shifting, asinine post on Freethoughtblogs. Other people are covering that better. Instead, I’m going to address a little bit of side-assholery that came out this morning, in response to a request by Skepchick blogger Surly Amy. See, Thunderf00t’s post used this photo that Amy had taken for this great post. She asked that Thunderf00t either credit her for the image (TF’s post is strangely lacking in links, citations, or basic research of any kind) or take it down.
Thunderf00t decided to go for the “both” option, and put up this image instead:
First, this is some world-class douchebaggery on display right here. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the asinine argument presented by his revised image, I want to address the strawman it contains first. It’s not the ‘logic’ that’s copyrighted, it’s the fucking photograph. And there’s no scare-quote “copyright” about it; photographers have the rights to their photos. Ask anyone who’s hired a professional photographer to take pictures at a wedding or other event; you have to get licensure and so forth just to make copies. Posting without attribution? Unquestionably a violation of copyright.
I don’t think Thunderf00t, someone who’s been on the receiving end of lots of fraudulent copyright claims, is so stupid or ignorant as to think anyone was claiming the “logic” was “copyrighted.” I think he’s an asshole without a leg to stand on, so he makes this asshole strawman dig to make Amy look irrational. Because, you know, she’s a woman who dares to disagree with his uninformed knee-jerk opinion.
Now, as to Thunderf00t’s counter-’logic’ (look, I can use scare-quotes too! Or do the Brits call them scare-inverted-commas?), I’d like to direct your attention to the subtle change TF00t made in the phrasing. Clearly, “sexism” in the first example is equated with “fire” in the second. So his additional bit of “when there isn’t one [a fire]” suggests that he thinks/claims/demonstrates that there is no sexism.
Except that’s not what he’s claiming, at least, not in the portion of his post that I could stomach reading. It’s all “*THIS REALLY ISN’T A BIG PROBLEM*” and “Put simply if your primary focus is on the conference scene, then in the internet age, it’s probably misplaced” and “If I want to chew on some womans leg in a bar, I don’t want to have to consult the conference handbook to see if this classes as acceptable behavior!”
To put it in Thunderf00t’s metaphor, there’s a group of people “screaming fire” and one asshole saying “That fire’s not even that big! In fact, that fire’s happening in a really small building that only a few people occupy, and most of the people are in this building, so why worry about that fire? In my experience, the fire in that building is among the least hot ever! That fire is no worse than the fires you’d encounter at your average campsite or bonfire! I think you’ll find that most people aren’t arsonists or pyromaniacs. What’s next? Will I have to fill out a form in triplicate if I want to light a cigarette? If someone wants me to light their fireplace, I should be able to do that? And if I want to light a fireplace in someone’s house, I don’t want to have to consult the safety guidelines to see if it classes as acceptable behavior!”
And in the meantime, the building is burning. Granted, the Conferences Building is rather small compared to the Internet Complex, and yet the Internet Complex is ablaze in a towering inferno. In fact, temperature in the YouTube Office Suite, which Thunderf00t occupies, is hot enough to forge steel weapons. Stories keep cropping up, where one person talks about how they were given a hot foot, or how someone waved a lit match at them in an elevator. People are getting e-mails helpfully telling them that they ought to wear suits made of asbestos and carry around big buckets of water. Crowds chase after people with torches. People slinking around with jugs of gasoline and boxes of matches, who keep threatening to set fires, who have recorded histories of describing their interest in fires and posting pictures of fires are dismissed as harmless, that suspicions of such individuals are overblown and unreasonable.
And while Thunderf00t’s in his burning office suite screaming that the fire next door is nothing to worry about, people in both buildings are getting burned.
I’d say that Thunderf00t should find better things to do with his time than stack up giant Jenga towers of anecdotes and accusations and text formatting that would make Gene Ray blush, but he’s obviously got bigger things to worry about.
I mean, he just set himself on fire.