Richard’s Apology

Richard Dawkins has  issued a public apology.

While I have reservations, I think this is worthy of applause.

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Thinking Aloud: Secular Humanism and Atheist Boards

I have been thinking, on and off, about the importance of a secular humanist board instead of just an atheist board. An atheist board alone seems to lack any particular direction in terms of productivity and, perhaps, activism. Notice that the RDF was known as an atheist board but this classification was still second or equal to that of a science and reason board.
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On the RDF’s demise

The Foundation grew, slowly, like a tree, spreading all over the net, making a nice, amiable and yet intellectually challenging space for atheists and others all over the world. Josh Timonen & co (excluding RD, since my sources have nothing on the matter), have forcibly, disrespectfully and shamefully disposed of this space.. The Forums are essentially gone, and so is the community.

I repudiate the actions taken by Josh Timonen and Co. and retract my support of the Foundation until further notice.

The above is me. I remain resolved on it. The RDF boasted of a large user base and a large group of talented and dedicated people, who oversaw the running of the fora, and contributed immensely to them. As with any other forum, especially a large one, it will obviously have the bad apples. But Professor Dawkins dismissal of all this as frivolous gossip is nothing short of contemptible. This is what he wanted! A site where science, reason, scepticism and atheism could be discussed freely and intelligently. A site where atheists could come together (need I remind you of the OUT campaign?). This is not frivolous by even the most ridiculous stretch of the word.

Second, about his “rebuttal” to the straw man about vitriolic responses(I can’t call it anything but a straw man); not all the responses to the incident consisted of vitriolic insults, those that did were on other boards (the moderating staff was extremely diligent when it came to personal abuse and such things, adding insult to injury) and, anyway, Timonen & Co. deleted the original criticism thread! How could Dawkins know what it contained? Plus, all insults quoted happened after the event, so how could it cause it? Besides all this. did he even he read Peter Harrison’s post on the matter? Darkchilde’s? It seems that no, he did not, because then he’d surely have mentioned  the way the mods were treated, which brings me to the next point: the message delivered by Timonen & Co. to the moderating staff (did I mention the hours of unpaid work that were spent by these users?), which I will reproduce promptly, with highlights by me:

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Addendum to my RDF post

The Foundation grew, slowly, like a tree, spreading all over the net, making a nice, amiable and yet intellectually challenging space for atheists and others all over the world. Josh Timonen & co (excluding RD, since my sources have nothing on the matter), have forcibly, disrespectfully and shamefully disposed of this space.. The Forums are essentially gone, and so is the community.

I repudiate the actions taken by Josh Timonen and Co. and retract my support of the Foundation until further notice.

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End of the RDF Forums

Here is one of the former forum admin’s take on the subject, and a damn good one. These forums had a great community, even though the forums were huge. This community has been completely severed from it’s meeting place, home even, by the shameful work of the tech admins.

In Rationalia you can find the refugees, the community and much of the good stuff that made the RDF great.

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On Writing: Ambiguity and Precision in Social Commentary

Social commentary is, as the name implies, the practice of actively voicing one’s thoughts on elements of society. It is the act of demanding change, it is the act of preventing change, of demanding justice and of promoting injustice. In short, it is voicing one’s thoughts on the state of society and what should be done with it.

Over the course of human history, this has been done through speeches, songs, essays, poems, paintings, theater and film, among others. I will focus on essays* and poems in order to show the role of ambiguity and precision when expressing one’s views on society and will use the examples of a journalist and a poet to this effect.

Of the essayists, perhaps the best known and accessible ones are the journalists, they are in the newspapers and magazines, and to an extent in the news shows. Thus, they are almost literally all over the place. The poets, in my experience, are not so widely disseminated. They are hidden in the cafés, the universities, the occasional blog, in the underground music scene. They are elsewhere (again, in my experience).

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Addendum: Please Donate and help Haiti

Because dealing with the problem is better than doing nothing at all.

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