Over the past two weeks, an individual calling himself Steve Leone has attempted to leave about half a dozen variations of the following comment on my thread about the “miracle” of Fatima:
“Oh yeah? Well, how did three illiterate Portuguese peasant children know that some strange atmospheric phenomenon was going to appear in the sky over Fatima at the exact date and time they predicted? Answer that, you smarty-pants atheists!”
Here’s an entirely typical example from my moderation queue:
Author: Steve Leone (IP: 18.104.22.168, cache-dtc-ae07.proxy.aol.com)
Whatever the thousands of people witnessed at Fatima, one has to ask: How did 3 peasant children know that something would occur at that time? Among all those in that varied crowd of people there was present newspaper reporters from Lisbon who witnessed and so reported the phenomenon that occurred. Agnostics, Atheists, Fanatics, yes even Fools were also present in that crowd of THOUSANDS. There can be no question that a spectacular event occurred. Without computers, 3 children alerted all to the event at the predicted hour. Solar activity was not in the mind of that crowd at that hour since it was rainy and overcast. The children did not fantasize, did not profit materially, did not conspire etc. Make of all this what you want but logic must prevail at the end.
While I don’t demand that commenters agree with my viewpoint, I do insist that people who disagree with me take the time to read my posts and respond to the arguments I make. Since it was obvious that this person hadn’t bothered to read or comprehend the Fatima post – if he had, he would have known that his criticism is completely irrelevant to the explanation I actually propose – I didn’t approve any of these comments.
Then, in the past few days, I’ve started getting comments of a much more disturbing nature, submitted by someone calling himself “White Power Atheist”. Here’s one example of the kind of garbage this individual routinely submits:
Author : White Power Atheist (IP: 22.214.171.124, cache-dtc-ae07.proxy.aol.com)
We must assassinate all believers
For even more obvious reasons, none of these comments made it out of my moderation queue. But it seems that “White Power Atheist” has suddenly become active on a variety of atheist blogs, as you’ll see if you do a Google search for his handle. See this thread, for example, to understand the sort of filth he spews. (These comments were posted on Words of Wrath, a site run by an atheist blogger of color, which I’m sure was intentional.)
Now, if you look closely at the header information for those two comments, you may notice something: Steve Leone and “White Power Atheist” have exactly the same IP address, an AOL proxy server. Their comments also started being sent in to my site within a few days of each other.
Since AOL users all access the internet through these proxies, it might happen by coincidence that two separate people could leave comments from the same IP address. That would be a reasonable explanation if this had only happened once. But my suspicions were up, so I went back and scanned comments submitted to my moderation queue for the past two weeks. Here are the IP addresses used by Steve Leone for the comments he submitted:
126.96.36.199 [18 August 20:21] 188.8.131.52 [24 August 17:03] 184.108.40.206 [24 August 19:45] 220.127.116.11 [25 August 11:07] 18.104.22.168 [25 August 15:10] 22.214.171.124 [5 September 16:14] 126.96.36.199 [6 September 12:50]
And here are the IP addresses used by “White Power Atheist”:
188.8.131.52 [4 September 22:15] 184.108.40.206 [6 September 16:00] 220.127.116.11 [6 September 16:03]
I also checked the database of existing comments. These are the only two commenters any time within the past month who have used either of these IP addresses. The fact that both of these commenters appeared within the same general time interval, as well as the fact that they both use these two IP addresses and no other current commenter on my site uses either of them, leads me to conclude that they are the same person. The fact that the Christian-apologist comments appeared first, and with greater frequency, indicates to me that their subject material is the author’s primary concern, which leads me to conclude that the Christian persona is the true one and the racist-atheist persona is a masquerade. The implication is that this is a Christian pretending to be a racist atheist in an attempt to smear all atheists with the taint of racism.