Saturday, November 08, 2014


Hopefully the last thing I’ll have to say to Michael Nugent.

I’d like to say that I understand Michael Nugent’s claims that he’s been misrepresented. But I don’t. He’s been represented.

I don’t know why you need to keep posting your CV. We get it, Michael, you’ve done all kinds of good. Nobody ever said otherwise. But we still get to criticise you if we want. We want. We want because you are failing to take a stand on horrible behaviour. Bewilderingly, you insist on claiming that our criticisms are about you, your past and your achievements rather than about your blind – and repeatedly pointed out to you – ignorance. You deliberately and repeatedly fail to see that we don’t need or want heroes; that we admire the good things people do and deplore the bad.

That seems to me the essence of what it means to be an atheist. Christopher Hitchens was admirable in many ways and I mourn the fact that he is dead. But let’s be clear, he was a dick about some things. Richard Dawkins was responsible for my becoming a scientist. I devoured The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype. The enthusiasm with which Richard communicates science is infectious. He’s always been one of the biggest influences of my life and probably always will be. I’ve met him. He’s utterly charming. But he’s clueless about several important things.

Michael, this is how we do hero worship, if we’re smart: we celebrate the good and deplore the bad. Personally, I celebrate the things Darwin was wrong about. They seem stupid in hindsight, but they were honest and fairly – at the time – reasonable attempts to solve a problem his theory predicted. That is hugely impressive, more than I’ll ever do. There should be a movie about how and why he was wrong about what came to be genetics. It’s one of the most interesting and human stories there is.

And there’s another side to this hero business, isn’t there? We know that great responsibility is a consequence of great power. Geeks like us are only just learning what that means. To be an atheist or to be a skeptic has a social consequence that I don’t think we can ignore. To be a putative leader in the atheist/skeptic movements, moreso.

So, Michael, worship heroes if you like, but recognise their failures and limitations. Worship heroes all you want but don’t be afraid to criticise them when they’re wrong. Don’t tell other people that they’re wrong to criticise your personal heroes.  Don’t let clueless rhetoric blind your otherwise good instincts for social justice.

And for fucks sake stop crying about smears.

Some people – including me – think you’ve done lots of good things for the atheist movement but have utterly disgraced yourself by tacitly endorsing horrible views and insisting that criticisms are smears. Your cluelessness was first evident to me when you insisted that victims of abuse ought to talk genially with their abusers. Lots of people explained why you were wrong but you didn’t listen. In this new case, there are at least two sides. One side constantly reinforces you because it likes what you say, whatever you say since you’re now a champion of horrible people. The other side criticises some of the things you’ve done.

Criticisms are not smears, Michael. I can tell you about smears. I can tell you that some of the people commenting on your blog have made entirely untrue and public accusations about me. Those are smears. Criticisms of you are not.


  1. "I can tell you that some of the people commenting on your blog have made entirely untrue and public accusations about me. Those are smears"

    Can you provide links to those alleged smears against you on the comment section of Michael's blog please?

  2. Carrie1:52 pm

    He posts his "CV" because it is his blog, his place in which to document matters that are important to him, and because it is a place where he can advertise talks etc that atheists might find interesting. If you look around FtB, you will see that some bloggers there use their space in the same way, not simply for gossip. It is normal.

    Indeed we do not want or need heroes; we need and want evidence. So far we have seen no evidence to support the smears directed at Michael and the posters at his blog.

    I see no evidence that Michael, or anyone who posts on his blog, worships any "hero". Also, the untrue things that were said about Michael were indeed smears, and very unpleasant ones at that. I personally have seen no smears or untruths spoken against you. I have seen people amazed at your behaviour towards Michael, but no unpleasant allegations about you. What am I missing?

  3. Patrick3:23 pm

    You, like PZ Myers, want to make unsupported defamatory claims and run away, blaming your victim for demanding that you either support your claims or retract them and apologize.

    You're a coward who is utterly lacking in integrity. I am very glad that your reprehensible behavior is inn the public record.

  4. On the difference between criticism and smearing, one might criticise MN for writing an article with which you disagree by saying 'I disagree with you and here are my reasons,' but one smears him by saying 'You provide a haven for harassers, misogynists and rapists.' The former addresses the arguments in question, whilst the latter does not. It's not a subtle difference and should be apparent to all.
    Hero worship? I can't begin to see that MN has ever indulged.
    And as for his CV, I think he is quite correct to re-establish his bona fides as an activist with real-world achievements under his belt, especially when every little nobody with internet access feels he can dismiss all of that simply because MN disagrees with PZ's fast and loose policy towards unsupported accusations.

  5. Anonymous8:02 pm

    You said: "And for fucks sake stop crying about smears."

    I thought victim-blaming was anathema to those who are truly interested in social justice. Does this mean you are also OK with telling a rape victim to stop crying and get over it?

    latsot, have you taken a moment to consider how you would feel and how you would react if people start making public accusations about you supporting and enabling, or even engaging in, serious criminal activities? You might think it's no big deal when directed at someone else, but I think even you know that you would be justifiably upset and deserving of a retraction or apology if they were directed at you or perhaps one of your family members.

    Assuming that you actually care about and believe in social justice, or even just the golden rule, you should recognize and admit that what you are doing is wrong and apologize accordingly. It would actually win you a little respect in the process and it's the right thing to do. Search within yourself and find the empathy that you seem to have lost somewhere along the way. You are tarnishing the very idea of social justice with these vicious accusations and doubling-down.

  6. Anonymous8:24 pm

    Oh my dear god PeeZus. So Latsot's a scientist now? Jeebles. When did that happen? And how?

    And why is Latsot providing such a comfycosey haven for rapists, mass murderers, and evilmeanwickednasty people like me? I mean he's been accused of it, so it must be true. Right? Right.

  7. Latsot said:
    "I’d like to say that I understand Michael Nugent’s claims that he’s been misrepresented. But I don’t. He’s been represented."

    Ok, let's start from the basics. "But I don't" does not make any sense. Replace by "But I can't."

    Now for the substance.

    From your previous post concerning Michael Nugent:

    "I said on Twitter that Michael Nugent defends rapists. I didn’t say he defends rape. I said that he defends (some) people who are rapists, I meant something fairly specific by this: Michael Nugent continues to provide a safe haven for people who perpetuate rape culture. People who trivialise rape. People who use the threat of rape as an instrument for silencing women. People who vociferously claim that sex with someone whose judgment is impaired by alcohol or youth is not rape."

    "I didn’t mean to suggest that you endorse rape and I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear about that. But I still wholeheartedly think that you provide something of a safe haven for rapists and misogynists; that you insist on sometimes inappropriate standards of evidence regarding the credibility of rape allegations; and especially that you are determined above all to tell everyone else how they should think."

    Notice the shift from "continues to provide a safe haven" in the first quotation and "you provide something of a safe haven" in the second.

    So what are you accusing Michael of, exactly? Is he or is he not providing a haven for rapists? Is he or is he not providing a safe haven for people who perpetuate rape culture? Your post is illiterate to the point where the reader cannot even determine what you are saying.That's usually the case with writers who don't themselves know what they are saying.

    Fine. Let's take the most charitable reading:

    "Michael is, metaphorically speaking, sheltering people who perpetuate rape culture."

    Even that formulation cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called criticism. Any English speaker would describe that as a smear, first because it is vague, and second because no evidence is offered.

    I, and several others, repeatedly asked you to provide any evidence whatsoever of the claims put forward in your previous post. You did not. Hence, you are not criticising, but smearing.


  8. Anonymous1:44 am

    Even though I feel somewhat guilty for saying it, thank you latsot for all the unintentional lulz you provide. You are freaking hilarious, simply a gift to your enemies. If you had any friends, they'd stage an intervention if they hadn't already facepalmed themselves to death.

    Please, ignore the naysayers and just keep being you. And I know you will, 'cause you can't help it.

  9. Just take your own advice and fuck off.

  10. Anonymous10:16 am

    One wonders if you have the spoons to at least respond to the questions and comments.

    As someone who claims to care about social justice, how can you behave this way? Making wild, unsupported accusations about a respectable person; doubling-down and telling them to get over it when they ask you to apologize and retract your false and defamatory statements (in any other context you would recognize this as victim-blaming); and refusing to have an adult conversation free of insults and barbs.

    Everybody makes mistakes, latsot, that's nothing to be ashamed of as long as you are a big enough person to own up to those mistakes and try rectify harm you may have done. That's part of what it means to be human. We are all fallible. The measure of a person is how they respond in these situations.

    You are a smart enough person to be able to understand the nuance here, latsot. Michale Nugent emphatically does not support rape or rapists, or rape culture, or harassment. He has been and continues to be very clear about that, in his writings, his activism, and his personal life. Just allow yourself to seriously, deeply, honestly consider the possibility that you have misunderstood and mischaracterized Michael's views and actions because you are really making yourself look very bad here and that reflects poorly on all of the causes you champion as well. Shouldn't you put your own ego aside for the good of social justice?

  11. Anonymous2:49 pm

    You guys are assuming latsot's intention is a dialogue. He is clearly just here to smear and run.

  12. Basically Latsot is too chicken-shit to face his own demons. He can't own his smearing statements because it would mean admitting that some part of him is a 'horrible person', to use his own words. This is the way to lose friends and to lose other people's respect.

    Carrying on smearing as much as you like, Latsot. You are a grown adult and you can do as you please. But don't expect that headache to go away, you know the one that reminds you there is actually a better person inside. We've all got a better person inside us somewhere, but you will only start to find it by honestly facing your own fears and owning up to those people you have hurt.

  13. Here's Latsot behaving chicken-shit back in April.

  14. Please, latsot, get down off the cross for a moment. You hassle people on Twitter all the time. Suck it up, pal.

  15. Anonymous4:07 pm

    What "horrible behaviour" is Nugent "refusing to take a stand against"? It appears to me as though he is taking a powerful and effective stance against the abominable behaviour of PZ Myers and his band of slanderous dolts.

  16. Anonymous3:01 am

    Latsot, why are you such a rapist?

  17. So some nice comments while I've been away, thanks for deciding how long I have to respond to your comments on my own blog. I don't think you get how this works.

    Whatever, I see nothing to respond to. There's various one-true-scotsman-based silliness and demands for evidence that aren't needed. Even if I were guilty of poopyheading against Nugent it wouldn't mean that I ought to respond to his tremulous claims. Let alone you apparent acolytes.

    Tell you what, do what I do. Admire people for what they do rather than what they are.

    1. Hi Latsot, I also admire people for what they do. It's been a few days now, could you provide the links to the alleged smears against you that you say Michael Nugent has allowed on the comment section of his blog? Thanks

    2. I've only just come across this request. I suggest you go back and read what I actually wrote.

  18. Anonymous10:13 pm

    Hey! Is LostIt wearing the right shirt? Is it moral? Is it pure? Does it pass mustard (snickersnicker) with the Right People™?

    Insufficient minds want to know!

  19. Anonymous8:49 pm

    "Tremulous claims." What?