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The Details of the Dillahunty Debacle

October 10, 2012

by: captainmjs

This is the story of how one quasi-celebrity atheist, feminist, skeptic, and occasional traffic-endangering vlogger came to the obscure atheist internet forum of an obscure atheist movement that has roots in an atheist blog by a quasi-celebrity atheist, feminist, skeptic, and formerly boobquake activist and created an obscure atheist non-controversy about an issue that wasn’t that big of a deal in the first place.  Some people will say, “Why all of the clamor?”  And that is the subject of this essay.

The first thing to point out is that both sides of this issue feel like they are owed an apology.  At one time I used the rhetoric “demanding an apology” but I was informed on the forum that there is no demand for an apology and that by the forum saying:

“Matt Dillahunty may be allowed back, at some point, if and only if he apologizes, sincerely, for the damage he has done to our community, and makes good on trying to repair that damage.”1.

And by Matt saying:

“I fully support the banning of both of my accounts and I might consider coming back if the forum moderators apologized sincerely for implying that I’m the one here doing damage.”2.

But whether or not this is interpreted as a demand for an apology is irrelevant.  The only thing that we do know is that there are members of the forum, some of whom have been longtime internet activists, who were deeply upset by this situation.  Some of them have left the forum and will never return.  Others are considering leaving.  The forum claims that Matt is to blame for using an unhelpful and divisive approach to try to address a problem and Matt claims that this was not his original intent and that the forum is to blame for creating an unwelcoming environment to new members.  So perhaps I should start off by examining how this issue started by looking at the facts.

Part One: A snarky beginning

Matt claims that:

“…the other day, somebody sent me a link and said “Hey, go look at the forum here and tell me what you think of this guy’s (sic) ban.” And I looked, and this person had made about 17 posts, and I read all of them, and I noticed what appeared to be a trend, that could cause suspicion that the person was some sort of a troll – perhaps the JAQing off sort of troll, the J-A-Q, “Just asking questions” JAQing off – but the conversation that resulted in his (sic) ban was one where he (sic) objected to something that had been said, provided his (sic) reasons, provided links, did research, pointed out real inaccuracies, and then pointed out perceived inaccuracies and asked questions and asked for more information. It would have been nice if people had taken that opportunity to answer the questions, provide the information, point out where he (sic) got stuff wrong, and point out where he (sic) got stuff right, in order to get better information out to everybody. That’s not what happened. He (sic) got a couple snarky comments in response, and he (sic) responded to those comments by being snarky himself, and making a comment about, “Well, I guess I’m just not drinking the Kool-Aid,” which is snarky, but. . . then he (sic) was banned. And that didn’t sit well with me, because even if he’s (sic) wrong, and even if he (sic) got snarky, he (sic) was making – he (sic) was arguing honestly and fairly, making points, asking questions, he (sic) did not get that in return, and there were people being snarky with him (sic) before he (sic) got snarky.”3.

This referring to a user who went by the handle Skep Tickle and they were in fact a she not a he.  The argument they made pertained to a petition to have Justin Vacula removed as the newly appointed head of the SCA.  Though to be fair they had posted on the forum several times before this.  To learn more about the discussion on the validity of this petition feel free to find that shit out on your own.  http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1450)

This resulted in Matt’s first post under the anonymous handle Curious, and his second post on the forum (his first being an introduction specifically saying he probably wouldn’t be spending any time posting on this forum:

“by MattDillahunty » Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:38 pm

And, while I support Atheism+ (I’ve been atheism+ or moving toward it for many years, without the label),   it’s unlikely that I’ll be spending much time on the forum. … All that aside, I still felt compelled to at least sign up and be ready to participate, when possible.
-Matt Dillahunty” 8

First post by Curious (that still exists):

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:04 pm

My post was declined as off topic. I would appreciate it if a moderator could post the content here (so that I can post it in the right location), or if a moderator could post it in the correct forum.”4.

At this point he was told:

“by Flewellyn » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:06 pm

We don’t have the ability to recover the contents of a declined post.

You can post it again in this forum, or just go put a shorter version on the “are the moderators capricious and biased?” thread.”4.

So Matt told the moderator:

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:11 pm

Are you serious? I spent time writing that and it’s just gone? How can we verify that it was of topic?

Why didn’t they approve it and move it?”4.

The reply to this comment was:

“by Flewellyn » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:17 pm

I felt the post was off-topic, and inflammatory and nitpicking besides. Also, a bit heavy on the teal deer. Brevity is the soul of wit, and also of clarity.” 4.

Perhaps this kind of response might seem a bit snarky to a newcomer who has no experience with internet forums whatsoever and if it were me I might be a little miffed by this.  Matt says that what he wrote was:

“…completely honest it was actually my feelings I was not there as a troll or misrepresenting what I thought, it was all honest.” 2.

Unfortunately if the moderator’s response was less than measured we have no way of determining that.  But it didn’t stop there he continued:

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:23 pm

So, exactly how do I appeal this – if we don’t have the content anywhere?” 4

Yes how does one argue in defense of something that doesn’t exist anymore?  Now at this point someone told him how most of us lowly forum users tend to write posts that we have done research on and spent ten or twenty minutes writing in some kind of Word document just in case the power goes out or the internet goes down or the cat decides to jump on the keyboard and start tap dancing.  You get the point.  I guess what I’m saying is, “Never trust the internet to save your shit.”  Matt went on to address what the moderator said on the subject, which I will admit might be perceived as snarky.

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:27 pm

I’ll do that in the future. I’ve done that elsewhere…but it doesn’t solve this issue. Even if I had the original content, we have no way of verifying that what I cut/paste is the same as the original.

We only ever have Flewellyn’s stated opinion that “I felt the post was off-topic, and inflammatory and nitpicking besides. Also, a bit heavy on the teal deer. Brevity is the soul of wit, and also of clarity.”

As someone who owns and has run a PHPBB, I would have expected an off-topic post to simply be moved to the correct forum – not deleted outright.” 4

In a side note it has been stated that the loss of the post was due to an internal error in the forum and when an administrator did try to correct this they were unable to retrieve the original post.

 Policy for approving new posts.

by hyperdeath » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:25 am

There have been complaints about use of the post approval feature. This holds back posts by new users, until they have been approved by a moderator. To give a little background, it was introduced due to a wave of trolling, which included two particularly disruptive individuals. One of these persisted in posting vast amounts of pornographic imagery.  The other was purely evil, and repeatedly taunted a rape survivor in the most spiteful way possible, with the aim of triggering her post traumatic stress disorder. Both tried to return on multiple occasions.

Our forum software, phpBB, has an unfortunate feature, whereby if a  moderator doesn’t approve a post, it gets deleted from the database. Our moderators disapproved several posts, in at least one case by accident, which did not deserve this treatment.  Therefore, we will no longer be using post approval as a moderation tool. It will only be used to block spam, flooding, and the blatant  reappearance of banned users.” 8

They tried and failed.  The post is gone forever and will never been seen again.  Perhaps it might have been more constructive to simply rewrite the post, put it in the appropriate place and see if that got rejected too and if it did then there might be something to discuss.  Instead, the moderator responded:

“by Flewellyn » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:37 pm

For the record: Curious’ post was objecting, in minute detail, to the banning of Skep TIckle in the “Petition to remove MRA Vacula from SCA leaderrship”[sic] thread. It was overly long, derailing, nitpicky, and would not have added anything to the conversation. To be charitable to a new user, I just classified it as “off-topic”, but really, it wasn’t the sort of thing that would really be “on-topic” for any forum.

If you want to know why a user was banned, you can ask, but don’t come in and challenge us mods as if we don’t know what we’re doing. In particular, don’t whinge.

This whole thread? Whinging.” 4

Matt was posting anonymously and therefore was considered a newcomer to the forum.  It is a policy that the first three posts are reviewed by a moderator before they are allowed to be posted.  That is why Matt’s post didn’t automatically just go into this thread.

Unfortunately the moderators were not the only ones who assumed that Curious was a troll.  Several other members interpreted his intent as trollish behavior and told him so.  I will not be posting any specific user comments of this nature but if you wish to see them the thread is still open on Atheism+.  http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1502

Matt continued:

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:40 pm

I had another post here, asking how I can go about appealing this. Could you address that, please?” 4

At this point the moderators were understandably baffled about why this person was continuing to complain about their lost post that was gone forever and probably getting more than a little frustrated.

So the moderator answers his question:

“by Flewellyn » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:46 pm

Curious wrote: I had another post here, asking how I can go about appealing this. Could you address that, please?

What is there to appeal? If it’s gone, it’s gone.

If, by some quirk, I am wrong, and the post is not gone, I would need to ask an administrator to retrieve it for me. There are currently none logged in. When one does log in, and sees this thread, they may opt to tell me how to retrieve the post, or retrieve it for me. IF, that is, they decide that I was wrong, and your post should have been approved.

Now, just ask yourself this question: how well do you think your posts here, on this thread, will convince said administrator to overrule me?” 4

Perhaps this too was a bit snarky and dismissive, but at this point I’d probably be pretty frustrated too.  This doesn’t necessarily make it right it’s just a perspective to consider.  And from this point forward we move on to:

Part Two: Apparent ‘Gotcha’ Games

Matt has his reasons, which I will give about why these claims are false.  I will also try to demonstrate why the average forum user who cares about this forum might see this situation in another manner.  I think perhaps it’s unfair to say that Matt came to the forum “looking” for a ‘gotcha’ moment.  But to say that he did not have a ‘gotcha’ moment might not be the most accurate description.  Immediately after Flewellyn’s post Matt posted this:

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:49 pm

Wow. Just wow.

The question was posed to expose the problem of having a post deleted by a single moderator – there’s no way to appeal it. Even if I had the content, I can’t demonstrate that it’s what I originally posted. Meanwhile, The_Laughing_Cow comes in to claim that my post – which they couldn’t have seen – was a long winded pile of crap.

This is the way you treat new people – people who ask legitimate questions and who were trying to help?

And now Flewellyn is implying that my posts here would have some bearing on whether or not they should be overruled on the original topic…

Pro-tip … remember this thread.4   (emphasis mine)

So please tell me what that is if not the setup for a ‘gotcha’ moment.  When you read it do ask yourself, “Why do I need to remember some thread about this anonymous user who is complaining about something that is almost illegitimate?”  I’d also like to point out that though a few of the users on the forum may not have taken very kindly to Curious, a user is not a moderator.  A user can be a longtime poster on a forum that still doesn’t agree with the forum or otherwise.  A user can be a newcomer who has only come to a forum to troll or have a legitimate discussion or lurk.  But a user has no real power to make decisions about which posts are and are not approved.  For these reasons I will not repost user comments that were made towards Matt.  Feel free to read them for yourself as they are still a part of the forum.  So then one of the moderators prompts:

“by SubMor » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:52 pm

Curious wrote: This is the way you treat new people – people who ask legitimate questions and who were trying to help?

You know what serves as a functional one-way ticket to don’t-take-me-seriously-ville? Saying you have “legitimate questions” and are just “trying to help” by showing up and demonstrating what a smart person you are. Instead of, you know, actually participating in the community.”4

Matt interpreted this prompt differently than the rest of us.  He felt this was some challenge to his level of participation in the Atheist+ community when it was meant as, “Why don’t you try participating on the forum, get involved in some discussions, try to connect with the forum instead of just coming on here to complain about a poster who was banned and making sweeping judgments about us?” He says:

“So I’m sitting there waiting, and I’m seeing people ask questions that I then respond to, which are kind of out of order, and it’s making the whole situation frustrating, and then a moderator says, basically, instead of coming in here and trying to be smart, why don’t you actually try to participate in the community? And that’s when I said, you should probably know who you’re talking to before you talk about whether or not somebody’s participating in the community. And I signed my real name…” 3.

This is in fact exactly what Matt said on the forum.

“by Curious » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:55 pm

You should probably know who you’re talking to before making accusations about actually participating in the community.

It might be nice if you knew the content of the original post before disregarding it.

Sincerely,

Matt Dillahunty” 4.

So Matt sets up “Pro-tip…remember this thread.” and then he came out with the big reveal.   It came across as, “I’m Matt Dillahunty so in your face!” Then he posted his thoughts on his Youtube channel.  People on the Atheism Plus forum felt that he was engaging in bad faith and that as someone who is legitimately concerned about the direction that something they support and consider themselves an ally of is headed might not take such an approach.  Having been deceitful in their approach, they probably would never reveal that they are in fact Matt Dillahunty when the discussion turned against them, as this would surely be interpreted as an attempt at intimidation.  They would likely try to engage in a discussion with a moderator in private and say, “Hey sorry for posting anonymously, but I felt like I needed to get a feel of the situation here because I care about this website.  I didn’t want the rest of the users to see this because I don’t think that is a positive approach for dealing with the situation.”  And then they would engage in a constructive dialogue for fixing the perceived problems.  But that’s just the way I see it.  Maybe others think this is a perfectly reasonable way to engage with a forum that you’ve never really spent any time with whatsoever.

Part 3: Sockpuppets are not cool, dude

The first reaction to Matt attempting to do this was cognitive dissonance.  The moderator says, “This is a terrible attitude for someone to have and I like Matt Dillahunty so therefore this couldn’t possibly be him.”

“by Flewellyn » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:59 pm

PFFFFFTTT…BWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

*looks again*

…AAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!!

Oh, man. That’s rich. HAHAHAHA. Well-done, sir! That’s the first amusing whinge you’ve had here!

Sir, I know Matt Dillahunty. I’ve read Matt Dillahunty. Matt Dillahunty is a good man.

Sir, you’re no Matt Dillahunty.” 4.

This is followed up with the eventual sockpuppet accusation.

“by maiforpeace » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:05 pm

Really? So Curious, I guess that makes you a sockpuppet then. Matt Dillahunty is a member here.

…” 4.

Anyway the moderators follow up with Matt is a member here who the fuck are you and Matt says, “go check my twitter.”  I assume he’s talking about this post.

Hello to the admins at Atheism+ forum. Curious is me.  5.

Matt’s sockpuppet account was then banned.  So one of the moderators decides to ask Matt to log in with his actual user account if he is in fact who he says he is:

“by maiforpeace » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:14 pm

It’s still a sockpuppet.

Our Forum Rules explicitly state sockpuppets will be banned immediately.

Matt if that is really you, please use your original member profile to post. Thank you, Mai” 4.

Part 4: I’m Matt Dillahunty and I’m an Ally

Matt then decided to log on as himself this time:

“by MattDillahunty » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:23 pm

Are you going to ban this one, too?

This is the account I created when the site first went live. I don’t have time to participate on the forum, but I’ve been out there supporting Atheism+ at every opportunity. As such, I’ve come across a number of people who have said “Hey, if Atheism+ was what you say it is, I’d have no problem with it…but that’s not what it is.”

I laughed at that, because it’s a fledgling movement that isn’t governed by anyone and hasn’t even been well-defined. I pointed out that, as it stands right now, it’s a forum. In response to that, people kept complaining about what went on at the forum and I didn’t have the time or energy to investigate. Because I’m friends with the people who started this, I trusted (and still pretty much do) that the complaints were exaggerated. After all, I was on the back-channel list when the name was suggested, I was posting videos clarifying the subject, I was talking-up Atheism+ alongside PZ and Greta at the Denver AAA convention.

And then, I someone sent me a link to a post where someone had objected to some points Greta had made. The individual got some things right and some things wrong…and could have been corrected on it. Instead, they wound up banned – after some rather frustrating conversation.

I wanted to post about that, but I didn’t want to post under my own name – because I wanted to prove that ANYONE could point out what was right and wrong about a post and make suggestions on improving our image and reaching the people who WOULD BE in agreement with us, if it weren’t for the confusing and constant misinformation that is out there.

As it turns out, I was wrong. My post was deleted, unread, based solely on the opinion of a single moderator.

When I tried to point out the problem in this process – as anyone would who was surprised to have their post deleted…well, you can see what kind of response I got.

And I’m an ally – who wrote as an ally. Hell, I’m out there, despite the suspicions of SubMor defending and promoting this.

I am stunned.” 4.

So Matt asked, “Are you going to ban this one too?” like somehow the moderators were unjustified to ban his sockpuppet account.  If he had been banned for his point of view in a legitimate thread that followed forum rules, regardless of the subject matter, that might be a valid objection but that is not what happened.  This was not an attempt to start a new thread discussing this particular ban on the forum.  As the moderator pointed out, Matt was attempting to post this in a thread on the petition to ban Justin Vacula not as an individual thread.  How long this post was, we will never know.  What “valid points” he made in his post, we will never know.    How he behaved afterwards is something we do know.

“by maiforpeace » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:27 pm

Hi Matt, I’m maiforpeace, and a moderator here.

Matt, did you read the rules I posted when I banned your sockpuppet?  (sorry I did add the edit, so maybe you missed it)

Are you above the forum rules for any reason we should know about? How are we supposed to believe you are Matt Dillahunty, when you create a new profile, with a new name? Do you know how many trolls and sockpuppets we’ve had to endure the last month?

I think this is a big misunderstanding, and before anyone jumps to conclusions, let’s discuss this openly.” 4.

A fair question and the answer:

“by MattDillahunty » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:43 pm

First of all, I didn’t read any forum rule about sock puppetry. So feel free to ban this one, as well, if that’s what you need to do…” 4.

Well to be fair the forum rules are extremely long and they have tons of specific don’t do this and do that rhetoric that are very confusing and hard to understand for even the most intelligent of readers.  Oh wait I’m thinking about Obamacare, over 1000 pages of legalese, holy shit.  Yep, definitely got those two mixed up.  The forum rules are actually quite simple and not much of a read at all:

“Forum Rules

by Siliddar » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:19 pm

Posting Rules

Don’t Be an Ass: Wheaton’s Law is in full effect. Don’t harrass, insult or otherwise be an asshole to other forum members. Bottom line: Play Nice.

Hate Speech: Do not use slurs or other forms of Hate Speech. Insults targeting a persons Race, Nationality, Age, Sex, Gender Identity, Mental Health, Physical ability, etc. are prohibited and will subject you to an immediate ban. If you are targeting a group of people with the word you are using, you are in the wrong. General fucking profanity is fine, “You’re retarded” is not.

Don’t spread animosity: Keep your arguments in the threads they started in, and don’t import arguments from other forums.

Use trigger warnings: Disturbing content can trigger flashbacks and panic attacks in some people. Use the HiddenText tag to hide such content.

           Code: Select all[HiddenText={Description}] {text to be hidden} [/HiddenText]

Malicious Links: If you post a malicious link (any URL with spyware or code designed to annoy people) you will be banned. No questions asked, no appeals.

Don’t derail: Keep your discussion on topic. If you are talking with someone about Abortions, and you want to bring up Divorce, Make a new topic.

Respect the Mods: The moderators are here to keep the forums safe, sane, and secure. If they ask you to do something, do it. Do not harass or annoy the mods. If you have a complaint about a moderator action. Make a post in the appropriate thread in the “Forum Matters” section. An Admin will PM you and the issue will be discussed.

Dox: Do not post others’ personal information (phone number, addresses, emails, etc.). Doing so is an immediate and unconditional ban.

Single Identity: One person may only use one forum account. Sockpuppets, when detected, will be banned alongside the main. (emphasis mine)

Rule Zero: Do not try to cleverly interpret rules listed here for your own benefit. These rules are general guidelines and are very flexible.” 6.

There are ten short easy rules to understand.  So I guess Matt couldn’t be bothered to scroll down if you even need to scroll down to get to rule number nine.  But maybe he just didn’t see that the Forum Rules were listed under the Atheism Plus principle topic in the forums.  But then again he must have seen it, since the thread on banning Justin Vacula from SCA leadership is in that part of the forum.

So what are forum members supposed to think when someone starts this anonymous account, they post a possible derail to a thread, they get rejected because it is their very first post, then they have the audacity to complain because they didn’t even bother to put their post in a Word document or notepad of some kind to prevent the information from being lost, then we find out that they have been violating the rules all along?  I’m not saying this is a fair construction of what happened, I’m just saying members did perceive what happened this way.

Part 5: Aftermath

On the Dillahunty Matter: your reactions, is a thread that was started by the moderators to try to get some perspective from members on how the Atheism Plus community on that forum have been affected.  Some of the members are on Matt’s side but most of them might fairly be said to be on the “Matt’s actions had a negative effect on this forum” side.  Several members have left the forum saying they will never return because they allowed a “big name” like Matt Dillahunty to come in, break the rules, and escape without being treated like anyone else would who had done the same thing.  Matt says his position is that he does not want special treatment:

“I have no objection to the ban, never have, and have always maintained that this was the right thing to do within the forum rules.  I never asked for any special treatment nor do I expect any in fact the anonymous account was necessary in order to avoid any hint of special treatment.2

The difficulty here is that the forum members do perceive special treatment in this disagreement.  They think Matt is saying, “I know people like Greta Christina and Jen McCreight and instead of actually dealing with the forum in a direct manner  (like the average user who has an issue with the forum would) I get to use them as arbiters in my disagreement.”  This is first revealed to the average forum member in the comments section of an article written by Jason Thibeault titled, Matt I really think you owe them an apology.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/

A moderator points out:

“Flewellynn:

One thing I want on the record: the reason we mods did delay on enforcing the ban, was because Matt PMed one of our mods and told us that Greta had asked both sides to agree to wait until she had a chance to talk to the moderation team. We took him at his word on this and agreed to hold off. In return, he agreed in PM to not put up his youtube video, or post any more arguments on the forums, until after Greta had spoken with us. We weren’t happy with the idea of involving her, because of her own personal issues right now, but if she had volunteered herself to deal with it, we would wait. That was the agreement.

Well, he broke that agreement within less than an hour after we made it. He kept arguing on the forums, and proceeded with his video anyway. This put us in an untenable position, because we had agreed to hold off on action under terms that were now violated. When he put up his video on Thursday, we decided that the agreement was moot.

It was too late. Damage done. We had tried to keep our part of the bargain, and he had broken his. And by trying to keep to the bargain, we damaged our users’ faith in us.

P.S.: For the record: Greta has not contacted us. Nor do we expect her to do so. We don’t fault her at all if she decides she doesn’t want to deal with this shit. It’s not something a freshly grieving person needs to have on their plate. I know firsthand that losing a parent is devastating, and saps your brainspoons like nothing else. So make no mistake, we don’t fault Greta one iota for anything about this at all.” 7

Matt responded with:

“Matt Dillahunty:

I’m not commenting on the rest of this right now, but:

Flewellyn:

“Well, he broke that agreement within less than an hour after we made it. ”

That’s a lie. There was no “agreement” with you, I simply told the mods about the conversation and what my intent was.

Once again, you’re assuming information that you don’t have. I had already talked to Greta – AGAIN. I had explained the video that I was going to put up. No agreement was broken and the video I put up PRAISED the mods, stated the facts and expressed optimism.

As the initial cause of this – you should probably just stop piling on mistakes and accusations that are patently false.” 7

Obviously we have no way of knowing who is telling the truth in this discussion.  But the name-dropping involved in this discussion might be perceived by someone as being less than willing to work with the non-“big name” people in this community that he had the actual problem with.  It would be fair to add that Matt says that he did not contact Greta about this issue but that she contacted him.

It has become a common phrase on the forum to call someone who thinks that they are better than other people and thus their argument is somehow more valid as a Matt “Fucking” Dillahunty of late.  People have also coined the phrase Matt “Too Damn Bad” Dillahunty because of comments in one of his videos that make him seem too billoreilly to care about the feelings of those who think the forum has been hurt by his actions:

There are some people who are upset that I created a second account and posted anonymously. Um, I understand why they’re upset. Too damn bad. 3

Matt fairly points out that he was not trying to show that the forum was banning people unfairly and that he was ignorant of the rules when he did this.  But to say that breaking these rules are irrelevant is not a very helpful way to have a discourse.  Then in his most recent video he says this:

“You want me to apologize for the damage that I’ve done.  What damage have I done?  I exposed and helped correct a problem.  I even gave you credit for correcting some of the problems and said that I was optimistic about correcting future problems.

You should be sending me a fucking thank you note.(emphasis mine) 2

“I gave you credit” like he was the sole reason this problem was discovered.  Okay perhaps we should say that is fair but saying, “You should be sending me a fucking thank you note.”  People are saying things like Matt came there and “threw around his privilege”.  That is probably one of least angry sentiments that they have made.

The real damage that has been done here is that people who opposed Atheism Plus purely on the grounds of their belief that it is somehow inherently divisive to the atheist movement have decided that this incident justifies their bullshit and so any hope we had of finding some common ground with them on dealing with issues will be that much harder.  This was not an issue about feminism, racism, ableism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, environmentalism, or the ethical treatment of animals.  This was just a situation where a lot of things were handled poorly (on both sides), blame was cast (on both sides), apologies were demanded (on both sides), and nothing helpful has resulted for the cause of Atheism Plus (on both sides) aside from a lot more people learning about this movement from an issue that most people would consider petty bullshit at best.  So if that isn’t what  the intent was then let us at least learn from this experience for the future.  Holding these grudges are not going to do anyone any good, they never do.

1. Forum post on Atheism+ titled: Resolution and moving forward on the Dillahunty incident

2. Transcribed from Matt’s youtube video titled: Ok with ban – but not blame

3. Transcribed from Matt’s youtube video titled: The incident at the Atheism+ forum may not be what you think

4. Forum post on Atheism+ titled: Could a moderator post the content of my post in the right f

5. Matt’s twitter feed.

6. Forum post on Atheism+ titled: Forum Rules (It’s in the Atheism+ subject)

7. In the comment thread: Matt, I really think you owe them an apology. (http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/06/matt-i-really-think-you-owe-them-an-apology/)

8. Forum post on Atheism+ titled: Hello from Austin, TX

From → Uncategorized

3 Comments
  1. “Holding these grudges are not going to do anyone any good, they never do.”

    I didn’t quite see events in the same way as you but I can’t find much to fault in the logic of this last line.

    Having given a fairly lengthy account of events myself on YouTube ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX65hlHKEQg ), I find it fascinating to read the same but from the opposite perspective.

    Tbh, although Matt had been doing the best he could to sell A+ outside of FtB/A+forum he was on a hiding to nothing imo. Simply put, you were never going to overcome the resistance to the name. Everything else you could have worked around because those not wanting ‘on board’ would simply have left you folks alone – but the choice of name and refusal to shift from that position meant many (including myself) couldn’t let the issue lie.

    Interesting to see where things go from here. I am hearing less and less of a ‘new wave of atheism’ and more and more of a ‘safe haven’ purely for those who are, or consider themselves, disadvantaged in some way. If that is all that is to become of A+ then maybe a truce will be called along the way, who knows?

    take care and nice work.
    Jim (np99)

  2. You know when you look at a situation and by the end of the story everyone is at fault… yeah, that’s what happened here.
    But to focus on the initiating sequence here, a comment was left by a new user that questioned a decision made by moderators. That comment was deleted and lost. That decision could not be appealed.
    Before anyone had any sense that Curious was Matt Dilahunty–and so before he could be throwing around his privilege–his views and opinions were being blocked and dismissed without consideration.
    From Matt’s perspective, he was investigating (and trying to defend A+ against) claims that A+ was a biased arena. Matt was proven wrong, the arena was biased. Matt’s questions were not answered (despite them being legitimate questions). He was being condescended to and dismissed.
    This emphasis on the latter bit of the story, the sock-puppet account, is misdirection and misses the point.
    That misdirection is not your fault, of course. That misdirection is the drama that has unfolded.

    I don’t think that retrieving and reviewing Matt’s original comment would affect the discussion much, because he was treated badly afterwards.
    I do think that it is an issue that the opinion of a single moderator to ban a comment is a decision that has no appeals process.

  3. Rempetis permalink

    In your whole analysis you’re missing the point (like your other A+ comrades do)…. The point is that “the haters” are mostly the people who A+ people (formely ftb commenters) pre-emptively attacked throughout the last year in order to keep the safe place. It’s as simple as that, it really is. Sure, there’s the real bad guys out there somewhere too, the real trolls who hate hateful things etc but that’s another category of people, a very very small category of people that noone really supports.

    This must be said: “tone trolling” is just a ftb invention to justify the repulsive attitudes that some people who frequent its comment sections have. A+ people should be taught some manners. :)

    Wake up to smell the roses, the evidence speak for themselves.

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