Backlash Against the Charlotte Allen Anti-Atheist Piece in the LA Times: Part 1

Responses to Charlotte Allen‘s embarrassing diatribe against atheists have been posted throughout the blogosphere.

This is the initial response from the Los Angeles Times, courtesy of Paul Thornton, a researcher for their editorial page:

You couldn’t say we didn’t see this coming: Charlotte Allen’s May 17 Op-Ed article on her dislike of outspoken atheists (think Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, pictured to the right in that order) has gone viral, sitting at No. 4 on list of most e-mailed latimes.com stories as of 2:45 p.m. today.

As expected, there has been plenty of atheist blowback in the blogosphere.

I would’ve hoped the blowback came from religious people, too… surely, it wasn’t just atheists who were offended by the piece.

Anyway, I did enjoy one thing about what Thornton wrote: he cites blog postings written by both myself and PZ Myers but says that “the most pointed criticism comes from Hemant Metha, proprietor of Friendly Atheist.”

The most pointed?

I have out PZ’ed P-Zed.

My life’s work is done now. I don’t even care about the misspelling of my name.

Thornton adds at the end of his posting:

Look for more response in the form of letters to the editor and possibly a Blowback in the coming days.

They’ll milk their mistake for all its worth. I’m looking forward to reading the letters they publish, even though I really have no desire to read the paper at all now…

In fact, I want to buy a subscription to the LA Times just so I can cancel it a minute later. It’ll feel great.

***Update***: I missed this during my first reading of the article. There’s another — more egregious — error… I only hope it’s a typo. It refers to PZ:

Myers’ response, which he filed under his blog category “Gooks”:

Actually, that category is “Kooks.” Which is not a racial slur…

G and K aren’t even next to each other on a keyboard, so I don’t know what was going through Thornton’s head…

***Update 2***: Both errors have been corrected.

  • Richard Wade

    Hemant said,

    I would’ve hoped the blowback came from religious people, too… surely, it wasn’t just atheists who were offended by the piece.

    Oh yes, there definitely were religious people who were offended. Three. Out of the several billion religious people, three were offended, but they didn’t get around to emailing the Times. Maybe later.

  • Sam(uel)

    “Myers’ response, which he filed under his blog category ‘Gooks’:”

    FAIL!!!!! It’s categorized as “Kooks!” What an awful typo to make…let’s hope no one thinks PZ Meyers has something against those of East Asian descent…-_-

  • J Myers

    “Myers’ response, which he filed under his blog category ‘Gooks’:”“Myers’ response, which he filed under his blog category ‘Gooks’:”

    FAIL!!!!! It’s categorized as “Kooks!” What an awful typo to make…

    It’s not just a typo; it’s libel. Awful, indeed…

    let’s hope no one thinks PZ Meyers has something against those of East Asian descent

    FAIL!!!!! What an awful typo to make!

  • http://heresycorner.blogspot.com Heresiarch

    They’ll milk their mistake for all its worth.

    Indeed. Anyone would think they had planned it all along.

  • Cypress Green

    Charlotte Allen’s May 17 Op-Ed article on her dislike of outspoken atheists…has gone viral, sitting at No. 4 on list of most e-mailed latimes.com stories…As expected, there has been plenty of atheist blowback in the blogosphere.

    Well, now. That’s hopeful. It’s at #4, and IF it were true that it was all (or even mostly) atheist blowback, that would imply to me that there are a lot more atheists out there then the theists think.

  • Todd

    The only lesson the editors of the LA Times appeared to have learned is that publishing hate against atheists increases readership. Writing letters to the editor will accomplish nothing. Neither Charlotte Allen nor the editorial staff at the LA Times will be held accountable for that editorial.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Jesse

    Well done, sir.

    They’ve corrected the typos as of this morning and issued a brief apology.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Not being from LA, I have to ask. Is the LA Times a real newspaper or a tablioid rag about UFO and celebrity sightings? Knowing the answer to this will help me put things in perspective.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    Are you honestly surprised that Christians aren’t speaking out against the article too? I think it is precisely when bigotry rears its ugly head that one finds out who one’s real friends are. I have a hard time believing that Christians are going to come to our aid on this one. Our efforts might be better directed at helping our fellow atheists overcome their apathy.

  • Scott

    What are the odds that the letters to the editor that will be printed are going to be thoughtful well written responses?

    More likely they will print the angry vitriolic letters that support the claims of the original article.

  • Brooks

    Don’t you love the hypocrisy of the article author claiming atheists are bigots that hate all religious people and respond by being a bigot in response? Aren’t Christians supposed to love their enemies and stuff? And I love how the article expects us to take fairyologians seriously simply because they say so and claims there are good arguments that solve the problem of evil argument, but they don’t offer any examples and not once in the article do they even prove the existence of God nor do they explain why God should not be compared to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Jeff: Is the LA Times a real newspaper

    Yes, the LATimes is the dominant newspaper in Southern California.

    I see they have corrected their mistakes in the Thornton piece.

    Sometimes newspapers print controversial opinion pieces they don’t agree with, just to stir things up and increase reader interest. It’s a balancing act though, because sometimes they get tarred with their own brush.

  • Claudia

    Sometimes newspapers print controversial opinion pieces they don’t agree with, just to stir things up and increase reader interest.

    I fully expect that this will be the gist of their response to the complaints, if they bother to give an official one. However it’s a poor argument because it does not remove the double standard involved. I deeply doubt the LAT would put an openly racist or openly anti-semitic (and I do mean openly, not just criticizing Israel as much as “Jewish banking conspiracy, protocols of Zion”) screed on their paper to “stir things up”. They would (rightly) judge that such bigotry is completely unacceptable and therefore had no place in their paper, not even to stir up controversy. The same standard is not applied for atheists.

    That’s not to say that you can’t say anything bad about atheism (insofar as you can talk about “atheism” as a phenomenon and not the absence of one). You can publish a controversial piece slamming the so-called “new atheists” as arrogant, or ignorant or complaining about the tone of certain secular organizations. That’s valid, just as criticising AIPAC or the NAACP does not in itself constitute anti-semitism or racism. But when you jump from the organization to the population you make an important, and dangerous, conceptual leap.

  • Abbie

    Writing letters to the editor will accomplish nothing. Neither Charlotte Allen nor the editorial staff at the LA Times will be held accountable for that editorial.

    Huh? The paper published a bad opinion piece, and now we’re reacting to it. Isn’t that how this works?

    I think they will be “held accountable” in the court of public opinion if and only if we make a furur over it.

  • christi

    Neither of them actually addressed her accusations. Mertha (sic) deflected them to another group against whom they are false

    So we just KNOW that these accusations are false when applied to Jews, but it is up to Atheists to PROVE they are false?

    And the vitriol and hatred spews forth from the theists daily. Just look at Faux, I mean, Fox News.

  • Turrboenvy

    It’s funny that Charlotte Allen accuses US of being boring. Her crap piece isn’t pissing me off, it’s putting me to sleep.

  • Sam(uel)

    Glad there wasn’t a huge shitstorm on the typo, no need to make things more complicated than they are. And yes, I am now aware of the typo I made myself, the irony is yummy XD


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