Well, the debacle at McGrath's blog is fast coming to a close. The end result is that I'm pretty sure Skippy finally realized that A) he had the wrong guy, and that even if he didn't, B) I wasn't following the script he had mentally written out in his head regarding his sloppy attempt at bullying. Once again, pretty amazing that it was over the pettiest of things - if you read that conversation, the trigger was that I thought it was reasonable, even if not science, to infer the existence of a creator based on looking at nature. That's some soft and mushy stuff, but lo', I made it clear I think Michael Behe is NOT, in fact, spawn of Satan (aka the Koch Brothers in modern American progressive-ese) and thus it was important that I be dealt with.
Or maybe he was trying to smear some guy I don't know by associating him with my thoughts and views. Who knows, who cares. By the end of it you can tell he was in 'Well, I fucked up' mode, trying to walk back his threats, offer apologies, and so on. By the by - I'm fine with honest mistakes, but when your apology is delivered to me only after your attempts at threatening me failed and I'm screaming to everyone who will hear what you just tried to pull off? I'm going to question the sincerity.
But, let's focus here.
Lothar - who I am going to say again, is a guy I like, a guy I find fair, a guy I can talk with despite disagreements, which means a lot - suggested I'm not being fair when it comes to progressives. He'll grant that there is some bullying that goes on, but he thinks it happens on both sides of the aisle, so to speak. He thinks "progressives" - perhaps not all of them, perhaps not most of them - don't really behave the way I say they do.
I'll put my cards on the table: my estimations of progressives really are generalizations, and generalizations are at best only true to a point. I'll grant that there are progressives who truly oppose the sort of bullying we saw with Eich, that we see with others. I do not subscribe to cartoon views of reality where everyone who disagrees with me is some kind of monster, with the only thing varying being the method. People have sincere disagreements. At times, they make mistakes. Hell, sometimes they're right and I'm wrong.
And... sometimes? Sometimes they also bullshit.
There is a phenomenon I noticed long ago with atheists. Anyone who's read my blog knows I differentiate between the Cultist of Gnu - the nasty devotee of Dawkins and Coyne with a slavish devotion to militant atheism, for whom all information about religion arrives through the filter of angry skeptical blogs and the like - and all other atheists. I am willing to concede that most of the irreligious are not only not like that, but actually find the behavior of the Gnu off-putting. They are nasty, they are hateful, and - let's be frank - they are often pretty stupid. I won't categorize the two in the same slot.
But at the same time, there is a certain kind of atheist that I call the Good Cop. The Good Cop doesn't behave like a Gnu. They try to appear friendly and approachable with Christians, with theists. But it's not that they reject the Gnu approach, the Gnu attitude, or even the Gnu hate. They just... find it tactically questionable. It's not -for them-, because -they- want to be seen as a bit more respectable than that, a bit more civil and thoughtful.
At the same time, though? They regard the Gnu as useful. After all, they're the animated maniacs who will go to Christian blogs and kick up a storm, they'll go on the attack, they'll try to convert people, they'll pressure people into silence or conformity - butts of contempt an all. And so the Good Cop decides that this Gnu has a use. The result is that the Good Cop tries to act as if the Gnu does not exist. When Richard Dawkins calls a Catholic upbringing child abuse, they don't want to talk about it - indeed, they don't even want to acknowledge Dawkins exists, in a way. He's too minor a figure, you see. Not intellectually serious. Can't we switch the topic to something else? Anything else? Why spend time on this?
What's going on is that the Good Cop approves of the Bad Cop. But they both have their roles, and even if the Good Cop snorts at the Bad Cop, his job is to tolerate the Bad Cop and enable him. To cast a blind eye towards what the Bad Cop is doing, to put up a smokescreen. Maybe the Good Cop will now and then lament the sorry state of theist-atheist dialogue, but general and broad expressions of dissatisfaction are as far as it will go... because at the end of the day the Gnu is on Their Side, doing Their Work.
Which is why we're in the curious situation where atheists will argue that many, even most atheists reject the Cult of Gnu, yet curiously it's hard to find an atheist, "secular" or naturalist organization that doesn't lavish praise on the Cult. It's as if there's an abundance of atheists out there who, for all their talk about rejecting the Gnus, don't reject them so much to actually do anything about them.
Obviously not every atheist is like this. But this is, I am convinced, a real phenomenon. And I see it with "progressives" too. If you tell me that many, even most, progressives oppose things like the firing of Eich, who oppose bullying, I'm left wondering why it's nevertheless the case that these things happen with such ferocity and ease. Will I see any "progressive" backlash against Mozilla? OKCupid? Hell, will I see it - minor as it is in comparison - over on McGrath's blog? No, I expect the McGrath pattern to show up, where after someone stupidly tries to reveal RL details about me and talk ominously about what my employer may think of my online, anonymous opinions, McGrath goes 'Threat? Threat? I saw no threat. And you said he didn't have your identity right anyway, so I figured it was no big deal.' Because if there were such things - if there was backlash against an LGBT activist targeting a Christian's business to take part in a gay wedding in a bullying attempt - there'd be more controversy about that. It wouldn't be showing up so much. I would see denunciations of the groups involved, the people backing it all.
It's not happening. Which puts me in the unfortunate position of having to reason that "progressivism" is led and driven by the lunatics, that quite a number of the quieter "progressives" are simply playing Good Cop to the lunatic Bad Cops, and the remainder are too small in number to be of much consequence in the entire ordeal.
It is an illustration of how this game, so to speak, is being played on the public, social, political stage. These are not merely fringe events rarely popping up at the extremes of society - it is day to day reality. And I am very tired of ignoring it and pretending most progressives, gosh darn it, just want to get along and agree to disagree.