PZ Myers on Robin Williams: "a wealthy white man" whose death distracts us from "news about brown people". http://t.co/0z2VsKVPWd
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 12, 2014
P.Z. Myers shows again that he's a prick without empathy. Not really news, but still. http://t.co/a4rpr9sDny
— Massimo Pigliucci (@mpigliucci) August 13, 2014
Coyne in PZ: This is one of the most contemptible and inhumane things I’ve ever seen posted by a well-known atheist. http://t.co/9H5qVdi54m
— Massimo Pigliucci (@mpigliucci) August 13, 2014
Terry Firma at Friendly Atheist on P Z Myers's dehumanizing & toxic response to Robin Williams's suicide: http://t.co/dYAVi6Im3X
— Jeremy Stangroom (@PhilosophyExp) August 13, 2014
I wonder if God created P Z Myers, and his merry band of bloggers, as part of a cunning plan to discredit the cause of atheism...
— Jeremy Stangroom (@PhilosophyExp) August 12, 2014
You've had the same experience, I'm sure — standing in line at the grocery store, glancing at the tabloid covers, seeing this week's magic fad diet promising that you can lose weight while eating ice cream in bed, or some such thing. You marvel for a moment at the brazen chutzpah required to pitch such a scam. How does anyone fall for this? Then you remember that people have a bottomless appetite for being told that they can have whatever they want without having to sacrifice anything for it.
Some people pride themselves on being more rational than that, though. In fact, their pride in their ability to see through the fallacies and cognitive biases that plague the rest of us mere mortals approaches outright hubris. They would never fall for anything so blatantly obvious as a miracle diet or a get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, they prefer to convince themselves of more rarefied delusions, like the one where a world of social justice will be created through them acting like the most relentlessly miserable, hateful assholes they can be. I mean, consider what thankless work is involved in being an activist for progressive causes. Imagine how much time and energy must be spent just to achieve even the most modest accomplishments. And imagine how, even after a lifetime of such work, one could still look toward the future and see an endless line of tasks yet to be tackled. So, wait, you're telling me that none of that is necessary? I can instead spend my time online acting like a raving prick, surrounded by equally nasty sycophants, all of us stewing in our impotent rage and venting at the world at large like angry teenagers, making no attempt to change the mind of anyone who doesn't already agree with us? And by doing this, I'll be helping lay the foundations for a glorious future based on peace and equality? Well, sign me up already!
Like I said — a bottomless appetite.
Anyway, if you haven't already read about it, you can click through the links for the details. In a nutshell, Peezus decided to use the occasion of Robin Williams' death to bitterly complain (so unlike the author of The Happy Atheist, I know) about how the media focuses on trivia instead of the issues that matter. At least, once the backlash started, that was the ass-covering rationalization he came up with — he was just critiquing "celebrity culture", not attacking Williams per se.
But I stress that word, rationalization. As we've seen before, he sometimes hardly seems aware of the gibberish he's writing even as he's doing it. The ad-hoc and incoherent nature of his "argument" here made clear that he only felt compelled to intellectually justify his post in self-defense. His reason for writing the post, the intuitive urge that actually motivated it in the first place, was the basic fact that he is simply a shit-encrusted asshole of a man. He saw a bunch of people commiserating over a sad event, and his visceral reaction was to go over and trivialize their feelings for self-aggrandizing purposes. He decided that the death of a beloved actor and comedian would serve as the perfect background scenery for one of his juvenile propaganda points. Were he not the throbbing, inflamed, hemorrhoidal asshole that he is, he could have simply ignored the spectacle and gone about his "important" business. Or he could have indulged some curiosity and thought, "Gee, I never paid any attention to his work, but he seems to have meant a lot to so many people. I wonder if I might learn anything interesting about him by listening to their recollections?" Instead, he decided to sneer about how all this chatter over a mere dead, wealthy white male meant that not enough people were paying attention to whatever P.C. causes he would otherwise assign them to.
His complaints about "real" news as opposed to trivial fluff have nothing to do with any Marxist-derived analysis of the media as adjuncts of the ruling class, doing their part to keep the masses in a narcotic daze, too stupefied and pacified to heed the calling of class warfare. His trite points about being well-informed ring hollow when you consider that he, like so many others, is a mere consumer of news who will not be motivated or empowered to act in any way upon what he takes in. His implication that the masses will be inspired to rise up and act against injustice if only they are fed a steady diet of informative articles by a progressively-inclined media is too absurd to withstand direct consideration. His generic ranting about how news is a zero-sum game where attention given to an undeserving topic can only come at the expense of a vitally important one betrays a borderline-retarded understanding of how human psychology and the news business actually work, and the logical conclusion of his inchoate suggestion that our attention needs to be rationed so that we only pay attention to news according to its rank on the Peezus-Approved Importance Index would be that only the threats of loose nukes, catastrophic climate change and maybe airborne superviruses would deserve column space until they have been solved, something that even he can't possibly be stupid enough to endorse.
No, none of these fatuous brain belches are the real motivation behind the post that's made him so many new friends. He just wanted to brag about his superior taste in news consumption. "Celebrity deaths and sporting events? Never pay any attention to 'em. I only read important news." His post amounted to the text-based equivalent of a selfie taken against a backdrop of "serious" news headlines. Not only an asshole, but a cynical asshole at that — his main concern when it comes to news is that he looks good posing with it.
And this has become his niche in life. He has created an online space where he and his fellow cultists indulge their addictions to rage-blogging and wallowing in their own dysfunctional resentment. Different in the cosmetic details, but no different in essence from a typical Rush Limbaugh dittohead — they spend their days stoking their fury against all those stupid people out there thinking stupid thoughts and fucking up the world by failing to recognize how right they are about everything that matters. So much time spent maintaining a constant state of unproductive outrage. So much energy devoted to dwelling in miserable, negative states of mind. It would all be such a sad, pathetic waste if it weren't for the fact that one day, all their efforts will help bring about a glorious future where all these social ills have been conquered. Oh...
I'm not sure why this particular incident seems to have been the final straw for so many people who, until now, have been hesitant to criticize him directly, but hey, whatever, I'll take it. Of course, widespread opprobrium will only reinforce his supercilious adolescent attitude and his cult's belief that the world can't handle the truth they bring. Really, the worst thing that could happen to them would be to experience a single, crushing moment of clear, undiluted self-awareness.