Anatomy Of A Non-Apology

Anatomy Of A Non-Apology June 30, 2010

George is an old friend here at Camels With Hammers, a poster whose extremely perceptive comments (both emotionally and intellectually) inspired me to write many of my favorite posts (more than I can remember offhand, but most memorably including Character As Fate And Environment As VariabilityOn The Meaning Of MeaningThe Complicated Relationship Of An Apostate To His Religious Friends And His Religious Past, and On Meeting People Where They Are).

George recently launched his own blog, “Misplaced Grace”, much to my delight, and early on he took on the case of Andrew Rosenberg.  18 year old Andrew Rosenberg wrote an e-mail to PZ Myers asking him to answer certain common objections to atheism.  PZ, who is inundated with such e-mails all the time, declined to reply to that particular one.  Rosenberg  got irritable and wrote a more attacking letter to PZ and incurred PZ’s contempt on Pharyngula.  You’re Not Helping thought PZ was too harsh and avoiding fair criticism. Things escalated when You’re Not Helping claimed that it was getting traffic brought to the site by search terms involving Andrew Rosenberg and phrases meant to find out details of his personal information.  You’re Not Helping also highlighted Pharyngula commentators’ remarks to make the case that they were bullying and, in some cases, seeking to harass this 18 year old in real life.

I found this upsetting and so linked to the You’re Not Helping, thinking it was important to call atheists on bullying behavior as much as anyone else.  Now that we know that You’re Not Helping was run by a ruthlessly libelous fraud, we cannot take seriously any claims about what information it was privy to about Google searches for Andrew Rosenberg.  So, in the absence of evidence, however rightfully or wrongfully mean particular Pharyngula commentators were to Andrew in the comments section, no one should be accusing anybody of trying to personally hunt Andrew Rosenberg down based on evidence from You’re Not Helping‘s keyboard.  My full reflection on my own decision to run with this story in the first place, in light of what we now know about what the blog really was, can be found here.

This brings us to George, who at the time of the Andrew Rosenberg controversy had just begun his blog and who promptly reached out to Andrew Rosenberg by inviting him to a dialogue on the questions he had raised to PZ.  Andrew accepted and their exchange can be read here and here.

Now George has the full final blog post of You’re Not Helping which was posted by “William”, the alleged real identity behind You’re Not Helping. The blog has now been completely deleted by “William” and the blog post George reproduces is not in the otherwise complete archive where you can read through the entire You’re Not Helping blog history going back to its April origins and judge everything for yourself.

And George is furious with “William” and I recommend you read all about the reasons why in Hey “William”- You’re Definately Not Helping:

And so I give you….the very first paragraph:

The worst part about being anonymous bloggers is that people will lie, distort, and do anything to try and out you. So far, we’ve weathered the accusations and conspiracies, because they’ve been mostly harmless to anyone. Now, though, it has come to our attention that Greg Laden has tried to implicate a real individual (that is most certainly notus) as being responsible for this blog. This is nothing short of disgusting, even though Laden admits that his evidence for this accusation is “weak.” Despite this, he’s wrongfully accused a person that has a reputation, a job, and no ties to this blog, with no regard for consequences or even if his accusation is right. He has brought real people into the fold in a completely cavalier fashion, and thus taken this to a level it should never go to, and a level we’d decided would be the breaking point when this witchhunt began.

Boy is that humility!  This is the same post where you are about to admit to lying, bullying and sock puppetry; and you spend the entire first paragraph setting up a victim statement in the court of public opinion.

Pure class.

How about:

  1. I was caught in a lie“    or…..
  2. I abused the trust of my readers“     or……
  3. I’m sorry I let things get this out of hand“?

Notice how the first option is a confession without remorse, option 2 is a confession with some remorse, and the third is anapology with some remorse.  Each of these statements has one thing in common: humility.  Option 1 does not even require that you feel culpable, just an admission of fact.  Instead we get a tirade about how it’s Greg Laden’s fault that he is the subject of a witch hunt, which as we all know is hardly the case.

Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 1:  Ø%

It goes on, read it here.

Well, that’s it for our discussion of You’re Not Helping. Three posts is more than enough, on top of my back and forth with the blog last week (in the posts The Gulf Disaster: Prayer And Priorities and What Exactly Are We Supposed To Be Doing?)  just before its spectacular flameout.  I did not start Camels With Hammers to be a hub of internet drama, so in the future, I’ll confine any discussion of this topic to the comments sections of the posts I already have about it, You’re Not Helping Blog Confesses To Deception and Fraud And Schadenfreude: The You’re Not Helping Archives And Post-Mortems.  I just decided to do this post because I think George deserves to have his thoughts on the matter highlighted.  Those of you who expected You’re Not Helping to be a model of reasonable and civil discussion in the atheist blogosphere, only to be betrayed, should consider reading George regularly instead.

Now, excuse me while I get back to answering the backlog of my great blog commentators’ provocative suggestions, disambiguating more senses of the word “faith”, and finishing off my long promised post on the virtue of humility.

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