Thursday, July 26, 2012

5 Years Later: The Name Game is Still the Same

Just over five years ago, I made a legal change to my name and became, officially, James Patrick Holding. But some thicker heads still haven't got the news.

At bottom of this post, you'll find a link to a TWeb thread I started shortly after he change to keep track of how long the thick heads didn't get the news. I attached a poll asking how long people thought it would go on with them continuing to use my former name. At the time, the options of five and ten years seemed like a bad joke. Five years later, it isn't: There are thick heads who still haven't got the news, and the latest (as of this post) is a YouTube pseudo-scholar designated TaylorX04, just a few days ago. And the hits just keep on comin'.

Why do the thick heads persist? For a time you could probably lay the blame, ironically, on Farrell "Forgotten" Till, whose Skeptical Review website featured an article about me in which he did the name rant (but failed to update it after I made the legal change).  Suckers everywhere -- whether Skeptics or putative Christians -- found this high in search engine rankings and took it at face value and as the last word. How ironic that Farrell's long-ago obsession with the issue came back with a vengeance upon the very people he was showing off for.

Of late, it appears Farrell's website has gone off the air -- and no one seems to care. I don't know if it'll ever be back, but as long as it is off, there will probably be less chance that the "ha ha, I know what your real name is" crowd will continue to make their mark in that thread.

Which is sort of a shame -- because that particular complaint always has been an easy way to mark off the ignorant and the uncritical who have nothing actually worthwhile to say.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crushing the Censorship Crybabies

This week’s Forge entry is a supplement  to a TektonTV vid loaded today on the subject of “censorship”. I put that in quotes because as the vid demonstrates, many people online – especially those with an inflated assessment of the relevance, importance, and accuracy of their own commentary – throw out the word “censorship” any time they encounter a forum, blog, or YouTube channel (like my own) that moderates comments and enforces certain rules for posting, and they run afoul of it. It’s even a favorite tactic of several YT fundy atheists, who clearly care more about the emotional impact that screaming “censorship” will get them with similarly put upon (and intellectually untalented) parties, than about actually understanding what censorship is. 

The sum of the vid is, of course: No, moderation is not censorship. I demonstrate this clearly with definitions used by professional and activist organizations concerned with censorship (who seem not to have noticed the widespread use of it in forums, blog, and YouTube channels!), as well as by appeal to my background in library and information science (where entire class sessions are devoted to the subject of censorship and how to not do it). The fact is that for a private entity, "censorship" is practically impossible to do -- and nearly all private entities lack the power to do it, and indeed, have the right to do the non-offensive (except to crybabies) equivalent, which is moderation.

Inevitably, the censorship crybabies, as I call them, are far more offended that you dare to refuse to allow their precious words to appear in your domain, unedited and uncontrolled, than actual censorship. I proved this point by challenging them in an earlier vid to take their complaints to a Skeptical website with harsher moderation than I used. None took me up on that. This vid also has a challenge for them to write leading anti-censorship organizations and report me for censorship. I don’t anticipate that I’ll be getting any phone calls from those orgs.

That in turn speaks to the manifest lack of principle and courage possessed by the censorship crybabies. If they truly cared about “censorship” – not just themselves – they’d jump at the chance to be activists.  But they don’t.

In this particular case, I have targeted a crybaby who in this vid is portrayed as a parody version of the classic Dangermouse cartoon. This crybaby (who shall remain unnamed here, befitting his nobody status; but you can get a hint by looking at a license plate on the car in the vid) lives in the United Kingdom and serves well as an example of what happens when children are raised without discipline and are encouraged to become obnoxious, self-centered monsters. This cretin could not engage a real argument to save his life; when confronted with challenges to his beliefs, he merely resorts to vacuous sloganeering (e.g., calling detailed arguments “sophistry”, or making snooty, self-serving comments about “closed-mindedness” or “fanaticism” – I should note that these latter statements are made as the crybaby also states that he refuses to watch any of my vids directly answering his objections!), playing the victim, flag-waving, hiding behind excuses, making slanderous accusations, asking what’s in it for him if he answers your argument or meets your challenge, or pretending some sort of personal offense. While this sort of thing fares well among those who are equally unintelligent and put upon – his suggested target audience –  it doesn’t play at all with intelligent readers and viewers, who know a crybaby when they see one.

The vid gives my full case, but here’s a manifesto of sorts that sums it up.

I don’t “censor” anything. I moderate.

I don’t moderate comments just because people disagree with me, or because I am “afraid” of contrary ideas, or because they offer genuine, intelligent, or useful criticism. I moderate when, and because, that doesn’t come from fundy atheists or crybabies on YT.

I do moderate comments in order to enable the main purpose of my channel as a demonstration project --- which means I’m not going to just “let discussion happen” to suit someone else’s egotistical desire to urinate on the carpet.

Moderation doesn’t make speech “less free” or impede “free speech”.  That’s a confusion between being “free” to have speech and being free to use it wherever you want, whenever you want.

There’s nothing morally depraved at all about forum moderation – unless you’re an arrogant brat who thinks you’re more important than everyone else.

Don’t give me any whines about how apologetics is “hotly debated” so I can’t say the issues I deal with aren’t sufficiently settled. An ignorant fundy atheist “hotly debating” an issue in ignorance isn’t providing an intelligent response to anything I have to say – and in 15+ years of doing this, I have yet to have one do so.

Don’t tell me that I should be flattered if fundy atheists show up to give me their time. I don’t care about their time, and they’re not important or intelligent enough for their efforts to be meaningful to me.

Don’t tell me how to use my time as though it were your time, or how to run my channel, for no other reason than that’s the way you want it. Your arrogance in thinking I should do so isn’t an argument. It’s just you being arrogant.

Don’t tell me I don’t have to answer/moderate every comment, because I can let others handle it. You have no more right to dictate what others ought to do with their time than you have to dictate what I ought to do with my time. Furthermore, my ministry policy from day one has been to deal with people on a personal level, to devote time to those that need and deserve it. This personal touch has set me apart from many large ministries, and I have been told repeatedly by a respondent that they are grateful because no one else answered their emails. So don’t presume to tell me to spend my time (and theirs) indulging your selfish desire for attention and exposure.

Finally, as a supplement to the vid, I want to include again the two definitions for “censorship” held by activist and professional organizations.

The National Coalition Against Censorship, an umbrella organization comprised of a number of other like-minded organizations, defines censorship as, "the suppression of an idea or image because it offends or disturbs someone, or because they disagree with it." They also say it "involves persons in some position of power telling you what you can or cannot say, write, display, or think about." They add that it "can also be thought of as the official restriction of any expression believed to threaten the political, social, or moral order."
The American Library Association -- my old professional organization -- has a sub-office called the Office of Intellectual Freedom which defines censorship as "the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!"
It further states, "Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone."
 Censorship crybabies are clearly little more than spoiled children yet to grow up – who can’t handle the fact that their having an “opinion” doesn’t make it worth exposing to everyone.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Thunderous Blunder

What with various commitments this week I have not had time to write a suitable post, but just as well, this is a good spot to note this vid I just loaded on how a leading YouTube Skeptic has put his foot in his mouth regarding sexual harassment.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

End of Tenure

Just a quick note that I was planning to continue the Tekton Tenure series up through 2008, but won't be able to because I didn't save my info for 2008. So, that'll end that series. See ya next week!

Friday, July 6, 2012

PWNAGE II: The Return of the Symph-athizer

On TektonTV today, I offered a followup vid as a reply to the same emergent Christian to whom a prior vid and Forge post was addressed (link below). There was little in the way of new argument from him this time; what he did offer was mostly a sustained rant, peppered with personal accusations, vacuous slogans, and angry re-assertions of defeated premises (I spent a lot of time referring to prior arguments he ignored or was unaware of!), but this gave me a chance to make a few things clear about my use of harsh language towards certain opponents, as well as address a few other issues.

“All the Time.” The emergent made the rather vague charge that I used harsh language “all the time”. How this is rated is not explained. Obviously, since e.g., comments on YT engage me less than a total of 15-20 minutes a day, and at least 70-90% of those on any given day are not to fundy atheists, “all the time” seems hyperbolic to say the least.

In reality, most of my time these days is spent on writing projects such as an e-book on the atonement and articles for my e-zine (the current article on my docket is on Orthodoxy). It seems rather that the emergent is so obsessed with the idea that it is all he thinks about “all the time.” As I explain in the vid, though, my use of harsh language is governed by occasions brought TO me. I don't go looking to pick fights with fundy atheists in the YouTube comments. In every single case, they come to MY channel -- or to one my work is hosted on -- to pick fights with ME. 

This simple point erases a good number of complaints from the be-nice bellowers:  Those who comment know very well from watching the vids that they're not going to be given a free ride with a song and dance. Most (not all) of the vids contain sarcastic humor, so there's very little chance fundy atheist commenters do not know what they're getting into.

In contrast, a point I do not address in the vid: Although I don't go picking fights in comments, I do sometimes appear to do so when I produce vids. Of the current set of 175 vids, a fair number are directed to a position held by someone who made another vid; of that, a fair number are directed towards persons who "threw the first punch."  Some, however,   are towards persons who had nothing to do with me before -- mostly, two YT users designated ProfMTH and NonStampCollector. 

But hold for the caveat: I picked those two as targets on request of YT users who were distressed by their arrogance and the bullying. So however you look at it -- I'm almost never, if at all, the one looking for trouble. My work is almost completely reactionary.

That's how it was when I wrote articles for Tekton years ago, too. Nothing has changed. If you're an atheist who does civil discourse, and doesn't go out of your way to do poor research or to deceive, you have nothing to worry about and will get the red carpet from me. If you do get called down by me, and acknowledge your mistakes and show a willingness to dialogue and improve your effort -- as has happened with a few atheists over the years -- the same carpet comes rolling out.

But if you're a fundy atheist who doesn't care about the truth, who continues to use sources like Wikipedia or Acharya S or Robert Ingersoll; who makes excuses such as "Christian scholars are too biased so you can't use them" -- I'll roll up that carpet and knock you over the right field wall with it.

As noted in that last entry, Christians like this emergent one who enable such behavior are no better. You'll see in this vid samples of comments from such fundy atheists, who this emergent lunatic has the temerity to say are just "asking questions in the name of God." Which god, I ask? Loki? Eris? (Is there an Aztec god of discord and destruction they're following, maybe?) And I also point out a great irony: By enabling these wolves, the emergent is actually insulting honest seekers and being a “poor witness” to them.

Offensive Christianity. I allude to Christianity being profoundly offensive in its social context. This is the sum of what I call the Impossible Faith thesis. There’s a link below explaining some of the points made in the vid. This thesis formed the basis for one of the sections in my book Defending the Resurrection. It’s been criticized by a couple of atheists (including one who was paid $5000 by another atheist to write a refutation of it!), and I have replied in turn.

Personal Testimony. There’s a link below to a series on my other blog about evangelism and apologetics, and how Christians have placed themselves in a trap of sorts by making personal behavior a judging standard for the truth of the Gospel.

Reading Lists. The emergent coddled a fundy atheist who refused to do assigned reading I offered so that they could comment more intelligently. I should note that I did this specifically to this critic precisely because they were not willing to learn and be inquisitive. Most viewers will not have done the reading before commenting; but most readers will also not rail off with misplaced objections, either. There’s a difference between the way I treat willing learners and those who steadfastly remain willfully ignorant.

To address a related point: I don’t attack disagreement. I attack willfully and stubbornly unintelligent, misinformed, tendentious disagreement. And fundy atheists specialize in that (as is to be expected, since that was their mode as fundies, too).

Seeking Weak Christians. One thing the emergent fails to grasp – being too ensconced in his role as an enabler of bullies – is that the set of fundy atheists I deal with are “anti-evangelists” who are specifically seeking weak victims. Very few openly state that they are out to deconvert Christians; John Loftus is one of those who does. This set of fundy atheists has a strategy set, which includes the “guilt trip” of declaring that you sure are unloving if you don’t just accept their manipulative ways and become their doormat. They also tend to use “reason, logic and evidence” – the words, not the actual products – as a bludgeon. Used their way, this becomes an insult in itself (as it indicates to the Christian, “you are oblivious to reason, logic, and evidence”).

There’s no basis for doormat Christianity. Even acts like giving your clothes away to someone who sued you was in fact an act designed to shame your opponent – just like Gandhi shamed the British with his non-violence (which I expect escapes the emergent sorts as well). The emergent uses the Message “translation,” which, as the vid notes, offers the ridiculous rendering that you are to “gift wrap” your item of clothing and make it a present. That not only adds a great deal of words to the text, it also adds our cultural presuppositions.

As part of their anti-evangelism, I noted, these fundy atheists will even leave comments on vids that are just devotionals. Now I imagine it will be said that Christians will also evangelize on vids that have to do with eg, evolution. And that’s true. But it’s also just as inappropriate and not an excuse.

Millennial Change. In close -- as TektonTV approaches 1000 subscribers, I have decided on a solution to the problem, one that will shut down the complaints once and for all -- though not in a way you might expect. You can look for that once TektonTV passes the magic number. My final note on this is a clue – I design my riposte such that those who take themselves least seriously will have the least problem with it. That’s all I’ll say – those who have ears to hear, will hear.