Talking of surprising outcomes on internet forums, Friday's Times reports regarding RichardDawkins.net, "the official Richard Dawkins website", that "a schism seems to have opened up within the atheist community who make up his fan-base." The story explains that,
The split occurred after he announced that a discussion section on his website, considered one of the busiest online atheist forums, would in future be tightly moderated and “irrelevant postings and frivolous gossip” would no longer be allowed.
The change was scheduled for next month but such was the torrent of abuse after the announcement that the forum had to be locked down, deepening the rift between Professor Dawkins and his 85,000 online fans.
As Ruth Gledhill reports, this criticism was largely directed at one of those responsible for the website, calling him an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.”
However, Dawkins himself was apparently not immune, with someone remarking that he possesses, “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”
Interestingly, the story was picked up by Andrew Brown, who helps run the Guardian's Comment is Free section, where writers' opinions are opened up to, often vituperative, public comment. As it happens, as an occasional contributer I had recently written to Andrew bewailing the fact that most of the comments are hardly worth reading, since there is so little engagement with debate.
Some of those commenting on the Dawkins website, however, display an apparent difficulty in seeing the problem. One of those referred to by Dawkins objected elsewhere that he had not been fairly quoted in full:
Here is what he [Dawkins] quoted "Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat"So that clears that up! Hell, it seems, hath no fury like atheist bloggers scorned.
My post in full "When someone tells me that change can be frightening in order to at both times shut me up and patronise me, I get a sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails down their throat"
27 February 2010
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