On Saturday, September 30th, 2017, several atheist celebrities will be at the fourth annual Mythicist Milwaukee Mythinformation Conference. The more well-known names include Matt Dillahunty, Richard Carrier, Aron Ra (edit: Aron Ra has recently decided not to attend. His wife cited the reasons here), and Seth Andrews. Their presence at this conference is being well-publicized.
But the people coming to hear these people speak are going to be disappointed. Because none of them are giving a talk.
Which is…weird. I mean, Matt Dillahunty, the one exception, will only serve as a moderator for a debate; he’s not speaking.
Who is? Well, a few YouTubers who have never really spoken at a conference, so far as I’m aware (I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong): YouTubers by the monikers “Armored Skeptic,” “Shoe On Head,” and “Sargon of Akkad.” And then, in addition, the organizer Melissa Chen, who also largely holds anti-SJW views. And yeah, there’s a guy named Thomas Smith who isn’t an anti-SJW, but he’s just gonna be interviewing Sargon of Akkad.
Why, in a conference attended by so many shining stars of the atheist movement, aren’t any of the celebrities speaking?
It’s a simple mystery. Here’s the clue: All the speakers at this skeptic conference are anti-SJWs who, for the most part, haven’t had a prominent voice on the atheist conference scene before.
A bit of background: See, the three YouTubers speaking were not given opportunities to speak at VidCon 2017, the major YouTube conference. In spite of the fact that they are fairly popular on YouTube, they have been unable to cross over into a legitimate, respectable level of status…possibly because their views were considered disrespectful to marginalized groups, and the organizers of the conference didn’t want to give those views a platform.
Now that anti-SJW YouTubers have failed to gain legitimacy in the arena of YouTube, it seems they need a stepping stone. Enter the much smaller American atheist community.
And honestly…the conference seems to be a way to give their views legitimacy in the atheist community. I mean, why else would you have these anti-SJWs (who aren’t known as much, these days, for criticizing religion) speak, and have atheist “celebrities” merely come to watch, acting as window-dressing, than to give their more sidelined views legitimacy?
Lest you have any doubt, here are excerpts from speaker introductions. Pay attention to the parts in the italics (and note how there is nothing complimentary about Thomas Smith, the sole person in this list who isn’t an anti-SJW):
June, also known as “Shoe0nhead”, is a popular YouTube content creator from New York who enjoys ranting about the bizarre world we live in today.
Chen is launching a non-profit called Ideas Beyond Borders which promotes the free exchange of ideas and defends human rights through education, building partnerships, research, and technology to counter extremist narratives and authoritarian institutions.
Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin is a popular independent Vlogger with nearly 600,000 subscribers on YouTube. A skeptic of ideologies both theological and political, his channel is dedicated to rational arguments backed by evidence. Sometimes a polemicist, at other times soft spoken, Sargon of Akkad has created a considerable amount of content regarding skeptical thought.
Thomas Smith is the host of the popular podcast Serious Inquiries Only where he interviews various members of the atheist and skeptic communities. He’s also a co-host on the podcast Opening Arguments and Comedy Shoe Shine, and former host of Thomas and The Bible.
If you check out what these anti-SJWs produce, you’ll see that the views they publicly support are often ones that counter feminism and anti-racism. Prototypically anti-SJW views, for the most part. And each of the italics above leave room for criticizing religion AND social justice views (at least, when you’re looking at social justice from an anti-SJW perspective).
And the headliners, YouTubers ShoeOnHead and her boyfriend, Armored Skeptic, have plenty of room to discuss these views under the banner of their presentation on “Skepticism in the Social Media Age” that, given the discussions that frequent their pages, is more likely to have to do with skepticism towards social justice values, than towards (as the title might falsely hint at to an unsuspecting conference attendee) religion. I mean, if you go to ShoeOnHead’s YouTube page, you’ll see that none of the videos really have anything to do with religion, in the first place. They almost all (with few exceptions) seek to criticize feminism, delegitimatize attempts to fight against racism, or invalidate exposures of transphobia.
Now, if you read what I write, you’ll know where I stand on social justice issues. But what I’m writing here is not a condemnation of these speakers, necessarily (for example, I like Melissa Chen, although I disagree with her frequently).
This is just calling a spade, a spade, and letting conference-goers know what to expect.
In spite of the well-publicized phenomenon of the atheist celebrities showing up, this is not your average atheism conference. These celebrities, it seems, are there as window dressing — a way to give additional prestige to these voices in a way that seems engineered to give anti-SJW thought greater legitimacy in American atheism, and to show that social justice ideals might be as ill-placed and mythical as religion. Perhaps this anti-SJW perspective failed when it came to the more respectable, “legitimate” corners of YouTube, but if its representatives can get a respectable, influential platform in the much smaller atheism community…maybe they can build on it.
And, so far as I can see, this conference is less about criticizing religion, and more about giving anti-SJW views that platform.
Which, admittedly, may make the atheist community more uncomfortable for me, but there’s no sense in denying the obvious…
Just a head’s up, to save you from spending all that money just to mistakingly go to an anti-SJW public relations campaign.
Thanks for reading.
PS: I want to thank all 34 of my patrons for making blog posts like this possible.