The Chapel Hill murders: C. J. Werleman can’t resist saying that New Atheists have blood on their hands

UPDATE: Several people, including a reader in the comments below, called my attention to Michael Nugent’s characteristically thorough analysis of Hicks’s “motives” after looking at his (Hicks’s) Facebook page. It’s definitely worth a read.

____________

I’ve said my piece on the murders of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, and I doubt I’ll have anything to add. But I still want to note people’s reactions to the murders—and how they apportion blame—as a sort of sociological observation. It shows how readily people can co-opt a tragedy to support their own agenda

Over at his site “Danthropology” at Patheos, Dan Arel wrote about how “The New Atheist blame game has begun,” and, from looking around the Internet, that’s right. People (not Dan) are furiously parsing killer Craig Hicks’s Facebook page for clues about his motivations. To me that’s almost as useless as liberal theologians parsing the Bible to find out God’s “true” message.

Dan has posted several pieces and tw**ts emitted by C. J. Werleman, an atheist who hates New Atheists, especially because he was caught plagiarizing at Salon and Alternet (both of which have not published his pieces since his admission of guilt), and then wrongly accused Sam Harris of also plagiarizing.

Here’s one tw**t, which, according to Arel, Werleman later deleted, telling Arel that “he [Werleman] was wrong for posting it.”

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Here’s another, which I can’t find on Wereleman’s Tw**ter feed (he may have also deleted that: I didn’t look closely), but I note that he’s still whipping up this same kind of anti-atheist sentiment using the Chapel Hill murders:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.22.24 PM

But Werleman has not retracted the exact same views in a piece he wrote for The Middle East Eye, “The Chapel Hill murders: the beast of New Atheism?” (thanks to Dan for the link). Here again Wereleman compares New Atheism to ISIS, the implication being that New Atheism is a violent and murderous “sect” of atheism, just as ISIS is to Islam (my emphasis):

When I first heard news of the attack on Wednesday morning, I immediately presumed the shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, to be a right-wing extremist; someone of the Anders Brievik ilk but with probable Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leanings. I was shocked when CNN identified the killer to be “an atheist”.

An atheist? I’m an atheist. The mere idea of an atheist motivated hate crime is nonsensical to me. Atheism is a non-positive assertion. Wholly and solely atheism means non-belief. It’s not anti-anything or anyone. So I knew there had to be more to the killer’s motives than atheism or a “parking dispute”.

A visit to Hicks’ Facebook page hints at something a little more sinister. Hicks is an anti-theist (New Atheist), and it’s important to make its distinction from atheism, because anti-theism is to atheism what ISIS is to Islam. If that analogy sounds far fetched, then you really need to read more about the anti-religious genocides of the 20th century.

Wereleman apparently knows without a doubt that Hicks killed because he was an anti-theist driven to kill by reading the New Atheists:

Hicks is not the first to be inspired to murder by similar anti-theistic beliefs, if it is indeed proven to be a hate crime, nor will he be the last to be inspired to violence by overt anti-Muslim bigotry.

New Atheists love to assert beliefs lead to actions. Well, the shoe is on the other foot now that it appears Hicks has murdered in the name of his anti-theistic beliefs. Hate speech leads to dangerous beliefs, which ultimately lead to violent actions.

“Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them,” writes Harris. While Harris specifically refers to beliefs such as martyrdom and jihad, he also contends “suicide bombers and terrorists are not aberrations” in Islam; “They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly.”

Werleman has been corrected before for quoting Harris’s statement out of context, and he does qualify the statement a bit, but he just cannot resist blaming Harris anyway: Harris should have known that his statement would be misused and even be taken as an excuse to kill. Ergo Harris bears some responsibility for the murders.

Harris has a PhD in neuroscience. Hicks and a majority of anti-theists do not! While the former may understand the nuance of his “thought experiments,” it is likely Hicks does not. It’s therefore not unreasonable to suggest that anti-theists, like Hicks, might take Harris’ “it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them” out of context in the same way jihadis take the Quranic verse “Kill the infidels” out of its historical interpretation and context.

This is deplorable. While atheism may not have an ineluctable connection with a given moral code, it does have such a connection with skepticism, for skepticism—seeing lack of evidence for God—is usually the precursor of nonbelief.

Werleman should exercise a little more skepticism about what really caused these murders. Indeed, we may never know unless the killer explains his motivations (that, too, may be misleading, but it would be the best explanation we get). But it’s unseemly to start saying that people like Dawkins and Harris bear any responsibility for these murders. Indeed, even if the killer says that he was motivated to kill by reading them (and he read a lot of stuff, apparently, beyond just their works), that does not make them directly responsible for his acts. For you could pin also pin the murders on all of the many Facebook “likes” and books that Hicks read that are apparently shown on his Facebook page, including, I’m told, his promotion of gay rights. After all, many Muslims don’t favor gay rights. . . .

116 Comments

  1. Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Sub

  2. Eric Wojciechowski
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Michael Nugent has said it best regarding the motive.

    http://www.michaelnugent.com/2015/02/13/chapel-hill-killer-craig-hicks-facebook-page-beliefs/

    I drew the same conclusions when I browsed Hicks’ Facebook page.

    • Lowen Gartner
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      good info, tx

  3. SharynS
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Werleman is kinda’ like the Pat Robertson of “new Atheist” (whatever that is) critics. Saying whatever it takes to stay noticed. An asshat if ever there was.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Someone tw**ted the Werleman article to me. I was annoyed with his ignorance before I finished the first paragraph. By the time I got half way through, there were so many fails, I couldn’t bear to finish it. My own article on the shootings was more like Jerry’s first one, although not as good of course.

  4. bonetired
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    And as I read that, I heard the news from Copenhagen ….

    • quiscalus
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      just saw that on BBC news, Copenhagen blasphemy seminar, French ambassador as visiting speaker (safe) Swedish cartoonist Lars Viks, who drew muhammad dressed as a dog (safety unknown) at least 40 shots fired.
      the two gunmen still at large (10:45 CST).

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Vilks is an artist who does the right thing for the wrong reasons. (Commercialism and a touch of racism.)

        This is the fifth time he is attacked. He is unhurt so far.

        • quiscalus
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          *Vilks* sorry, misspelled. I hadn’t heard about him before.

          updates suggest one killed, three police injured. Now, with the NC shootings, we have a pair of bookends of stupidity.

          • microraptor
            Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            From what I heard, the victim who was killed was just a random bystander who wasn’t even connected to the conference in any way.

  5. Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Indeed.

    If only Hicks had abandoned his atheism and declared his fealty to Ares, Menhit, Siva, or Xipe-Totec, those poor kids would still be alive.

    Wait.

    What?

    And this nonsense about the atheists preaching violence…in every case I’ve encountered, our prime objection to religion, past even the fact that it’s all lies, is all the violence it perpetuates — violence at scales from personal to global, from misogyny and priestly rape to the Conquistadors and the Caliphate. What on Earth would give somebody the notion that we think the answer is yet more of the same?

    b&

    b&

  6. Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I’ll repeat, one loose cannon does not discount an entire field of reason. Turns out Mr. Hicks was an unusually avid fan of the film “Falling Down.” The guy was clearly unstable in many unknown ways (just ask his wife) and the “atheism” affiliation appears especially incidental rather than consequential.

  7. Christopher
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    In 2014 a senior spokesman for ISIS, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, threatening the United States and its allies by calling for lone wolf attacks inside the United States. Adnani said, “Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure.”

    Now re-read that paragraph but replace Adnani’s name first with that of Richard Dawkins and then with that of Sam Harris.

    Now do you see how absurd CJ Werleman’s comparison is? Sure he’ll desperately love the oxygen of publicity though.

    • Christopher
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Anger on the road (specifically mentioning parking disputes as a trigger for rage)

      http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun05/anger.aspx

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        I really think it’s as “simple” as that. Maybe it’s because I’ve sometimes been appalled at the ferocity of my own anger. I seem to be capable of keeping it all inside, but one of the reasons I don’t own a gun is the fear of grabbing it in a fit of fury.

        As many have remarked, if only these young people had called the police the first time Hicks appeared on their doorstep in anger and carrying a gun, perhaps Hicks might have been intimidated just enough to make him think. And had they recognized as potentially dangerous the extremely unproportional emotional reaction Hicks had in connection to whatever he thought was a violation of parking etiquette, they might not have continued the practice without first securing some official endorsement of their right to do so, either from the condo management association, or the police, or any other avenues that were available.

        Which is not to blame the victims, as I suspect most people (esp. young, idealistic college students) necessarily operate on the assumption that others (particularly neighbors) are not on the verge of committing murder in a blind rage over parking.

        For once I’m eager to hear what the perpetrator, Hicks himself, has to say. I’m hoping it’s profound remorse, but who can say at this point? But even if it’s exculpatory drivel, on the basis of his FB history I doubt he would evince ideological bigotry. It sounds more like pathological anger to me.

        • Mike Paps
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          I really think it’s as “simple” as that. Maybe it’s because I’ve sometimes been appalled at the ferocity of my own anger. I seem to be capable of keeping it all inside, but one of the reasons I don’t own a gun is the fear of grabbing it in a fit of fury.

          I swear you read my mind, including the part about my anger being one of the reasons I don’t own a gun.
          The first time I heard he had killed over a parking dispute I wasn’t surprised, nor did I feel the need to look for other motivations. People kill people over sneakers, over the neighbors tree that’s shedding leaves on their property, over insults, and perceived insults. Nothing is so insignificant that people won’t kill over it. Just give the pope a gun, and insult his mother. :p

          • reasonshark
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:00 am | Permalink

            With that in mind, I wonder what socioeconomic background Hicks came from. This sort of face-saving anger is common when the perpetrator comes from a relatively lower social background (as in poorer, living in harsher neighbourhoods, etc.).

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            Good points, Mike and reasonshark.

  8. kevin7alexander
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I have thirteen screwdrivers in my shop. All of my hundreds of other tools are not only just another kind of screwdriver but they are all the same kind of screwdriver.

  9. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Only thing I can say about this Werleman is, hopefully they will want to check his crib for guns and ammo. It seems in America, the crazier you get, the more guns you have. Therefore, he must have a bunch.

    • microraptor
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      According to the news last night, they found something like a dozen shotguns at his house.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        It is the suspect in the Chapel Hill slayings who has a dozen shotguns, NOT Werleman!!

        • microraptor
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          My mistake, got confused.

  10. Michael Michaels
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Is it just my imagination that I keep seeing news anchors and talking heads who are incredulous that a man would murder three people over parking spots. They seem to be dismissing the possibility out of hand, suggesting that the reason must have been because he was an angry atheist who hates Muslims.

    It’s as if they live in their own fantasy land. I wish I was on one of those news casts. I would remind them that people have gone on spree shootings, killing elementary school children, killing teenagers in highschool, for no discernible reason in the USA.

    People have killed others for all sorts of mundane reasons. Because someone was chewing gum too loud. Because her husband was snoring. Because a man threw popcorn at him an ex sheriff shot the popcorn thrower in a crowded theater.

    Another killed 12 in a theater. He wounded 70 and still, nobody knows why, apart from apparent mental illness.

    Mostly the reason seems to be because they were angry and they had a tool that made it exceptionally easy to kill.
    In my experience, you can’t actually talk a person to death.

    • Mike Barnes
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      One of the curious features of this case is that even non-C.J. Werleman-type atheists find it hard to buy the idea of a murder resulting from a trivial altercation.

      Although I agree it’s too early to analyse why this one happened, one minute’s googling turned up two where parking disputes ended in death:

      In the U.S. a gun ensures it can be fatal. http://articles.philly.com/2003-10-03/news/25464566_1_thomas-walsh-walsh-family-chris-walsh

      In the UK the wrong punch can make it fatal. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-25346826

      Murder doesn’t require a big issue, or even a rational reason. We’re a sorry species at times.

    • Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Here’s an odd wrinkle in this situation. We have here a condominium complex next to a large university. Most units are occupied by more than one person (students share living space to save money). But there is no law or zoning regulation in North Carolina that requires such a facility to have sufficient parking for the actual anticipated number of residents. The three Muslim students were a husband and wife and the wife’s sister. They were attending school in two (or was it three?) different places. How many vehicles did the three have for their ONE designated parking space? (Absolutely no blame is intended for the unfortunate students; the fault, I think, is with the landlord.) Now add a guy with too many guns and a short temper. This guy (Hicks) had already been banned by the towing company he had already called many times to have his neighbors’ cars towed. Granted, you shouldn’t lose your temper over parking. But what if you live in a situation in which parking is a constant worry? (My wife & I have, by the way, and it wasn’t pretty, next to a university that, for a time, BANNED city buses from traveling through, or picking up passengers on campus.) Again, none of this is an excuse for Mr Hicks. None of this is intended to assign any blame to the Muslim students. But it is a factor to be considered.

      • microraptor
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s worthy of consideration aside from establishing that Hicks appears to have anger issues. Whether the building has one parking place per apartment or only one parking place is irrelevant.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think warmenof is trying to say we should blame the landlord (or more appropriately, city zoning districts), just that such situations could be very likely to lead to extreme anger.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if every large city–New York, Boston, etc.–already have more than one parking-problem-provoked homicide on their books.

  11. GBJames
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Sub

  12. Bob Carlson
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The real hate crime here is the laxity of American gun laws. Hicks was a pistol-packer who owned 13 guns. And I am so weary of the “new atheist” canard. One of the most anti-theistic works I have read is that of the Catholic priest, Jean Meslier. He lived from 1664 to 1729 and left a compilation of his thoughts on religion, atheism, and morality which were published a few years after his death.

    • Larry Sullivan
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      “laxity of American gun laws” are you kidding, there are over 20,000 gun laws in the U.S.

      • Posted February 14, 2015 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        To be fair, the number of laws has nothing to do with their strictness. We could, for example have millions of gun laws…but, if each one only applied to guns with at least seven square centimeters of chartreuse paint, they could still collectively be described as, “lax.”

        Most other Western societies have restrictions on private possession of firearms that are much more strict than anything in the States. Sure, maybe we have laws that say that somebody with more than so many criminal convictions in a five-year period faces a minor fine if he tries to buy a clip with a capacity of so many rounds unless the sale takes place on the fairgrounds during weekday daylight hours…but other countries have laws that put you in jail just for having a gun, any kind of gun, in the first place unless you’ve jumped through practically enough hoops to join the police force yourself.

        b&

      • KD 33
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Not kidding. The U.S. has the most lax gun laws of any developed nation. And the most gun related death per capita to prove it.

  13. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Hey, I come here a lot but I somehow missed the fatwa you issued, Jerry. Can you give us the link?

  14. Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    It wasn’t just Werleman. Rebecca Watson did it first: http://www.skepticink.com/avant-garde/2015/02/13/dehumanization/

    • Vaal
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      From the link to Watson’s post, she wrote:

      “dehumanization of Muslims, women, and other marginalized groups by community leaders like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss,”

      Harris et al “dehumanize” women and Muslims?

      Apparently there must be some “anti-Harris/Dawkins,” like the evil, bearded Anti-Spock episode of Star Trek, wandering around the planet stroking their beards, speaking the opposite of their real-world counterparts, that only folks like Watson perceive.

      • Larry Metcalfe
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        No surprise really that someone like Watson would use this to further their own agenda.

        And she’s not the only one.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          It must be that when you have an agenda, confirmation bias takes over and you see things that prove it everywhere.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            There is a group of feminist atheists who are extremely anti-Dawkins. They have a reason. In my opinion they are wrong. Like many who get a bee in their non-gender specific headgear, they look for any chance to put the boot in. They just diminish themselves when they do this imo.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

              Yes, and I always find myself wondering, when I don’t agree with these women, if I’m wrong and trying to get on the good side of the men. In the end I think I’m right because of reasoned through but I do start to resent the female based anguish.

              • Vaal
                Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

                Diana,

                I feel somewhat the same way.

                When someone, Watson or anyone else, criticizes Harris or Dawkins I don’t dismiss the criticism out of hand. No one is perfect and they may very well have detected
                something onerous that I may have missed.
                And certainly as a male I feel I could be missing sinister cues that I would otherwise pick up if I’d been a female. I wish to remain open to such possibilities.

                But in the case of Harris especially, I’ve followed Harris ever since he came on the scene, and having listened to or read most of what he has produced, I feel much more confident in recognizing Watson’s (and Ophelia Benson’s) take on Harris as being
                distorted. I look at what Harris says, and what those bloggers say Harris says, and find little connection.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                My father spat the word “feminist” at me when I was seven because he couldn’t justify his answers to my questions about women being paid less, and it didn’t stop me. I’ve never worried about others approving of my opinions. Of course I’m wrong sometimes, but I’ve usually thought stuff through before I open my mouth.

              • Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                For what it’s worth, I’ve yet to notice you going off the rails in either direction — over- or under-compensating.

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

                Well that’s good. My internal anguish must help keep me even when I finally blab my thoughts.

              • Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

                @ Vaal : What you describe is very familiar to me!

                /@

          • Mike Barnes
            Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            Ah, I spot a rapidly rising trend: the use of the word ‘dehumanize’ to blame people you disagree with, where you have no evidence.

            Clearly, if Sam Harris, Prof. Dawkins, et alia, ‘dehumanized’ anyone they must be guilty. Case proven.

            • John Scanlon, FCD
              Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

              It’s just trying to sneak under the Godwin bar.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Watson has an agenda, an ideological agenda that is is devoid of skepticism, despite claims otherwise.
      To use this tragedy as a means to again attack those she has been attacking for years, as part of her agenda is typical.

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      From what I can remember of the multiple remarks of Dawkins and Harris there is no dehumanisation of muslims, on the contrary. Take eg. Dawkins’ (unfathomably despised) ‘Dear Muslima’ post, was that not trying to *defend* Muslim women? Or at least highlighting their plight? How much more ‘humanising’ can one get?
      Real dehumanising sounds like “Untermensch”, “Kaffer” or “Cockroaches”.
      Ms Watson’s new-speak would do well in ‘1984’.
      I did have some sympathy with her in the elevator-gate, after all, she just said “guys, don’t do that”, a mild injunction, for which she got a lot of undeserved and exaggerated flak.
      However this (accusation of dehumanising) deeply stinks of the gutter. For the moment I have difficulty to think of any statement that is more blatantly untrue.

  15. Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Gavin de Becker in “The Gift of Fear” talks about the indicators that lead to violence. This guy meets several criteria, based on news reports:

    Inflexibility–The person resists change, is rigid, and unwilling to discuss ideas contrary to his own.

    Weapons–He has obtained a weapon within the last ninety days, or he has a weapons collection, or he makes jokes or frequent comments about weapons

    SAD–He is sullen, angry or depressed. Chronic anger is an important predictor of more than just violence.

    Grievance–He has a grievance pending or he has a history of filing unreasonable grievances.

    Focus–He has monitored the behavior, activities, performance, or comings and goings
    of other people

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Yes, yes, that’s all very well, and it might seem to summarise his behaviour rather neatly, but you forgot the most significant predictor – ‘Person reads Thomas Paine.’

      • peepuk
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        As far as I can recollect Thomas Paine was a deist + he was anti-atheism.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          Deists were the equivalent of atheists today in terms or societal esteem. They were often reviled. Out-and-out atheists were almost non-existent(Diderot, Marquis de Sade(?), Baron d’Holbach) and seem to have been regarded as intellectual perverts.

          • peepuk
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

            That’s true, but Paine distanced himself from atheism and he was a firm believer:

            “the people of France were running headlong into atheism and I had the work translated into their own language, to stop them in that career, and fix them to the first article . . . of every man’s creed who has any creed at all – I believe in God”

            I believe Theodore Roosevelt called him “a “filthy little atheist” for no good reason.

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    When people dislike Sam Harris, they seem to consistently do so in a large way!

    What’s next – if I read a whole lot of Orwell and go attempt some heinous crime against a bureaucrat, will Orwell be blamed. Shall we start burning books now?

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Nah. We only burn the books of Bradbury fans. Orwell fans…well, you really don’t want to know, do you?

      b&

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      If there is one new atheist writer whose arguments sometimes make me very uncomfortable it’s Sam Harris. I fundamentally disagree with him about gun-control and torture and some of his other views are both lucidly argued and horrifying. He’s the only gnu whose views sometimes sharply differ from my own.

      But that still doesn’t mean he’s to blame. Again, I’d like to see someone demonstrate that new atheist ideas were responsible for this hideous man’s actions.

      • Mike Barnes
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Some years ago, at the height of the ‘video nasties’ UK press frenzy, when every violent crime was attributed to mostly-poor horror movies, someone coined an alternative theory for such violent events. S/he called it the ‘bag of chips’ theory (in the UK; I don’t know the American equivalent of chips).

        It stated that because a high percentage of violent crime occurred after the offender had eaten a bag of chips, clearly the ingestion of chips was a major cause of of violent acts.

        Or as we refer it today, the confusion of correlation with causation…

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          How do you know chips didn’t cause those attacks? Sounds to me like they did. All this ‘correlation’ and ‘causation’ and ‘evidence’ stuff is just you being an atheist apologist who can’t admit that chips have blood on their hands.

      • peepuk
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        I like him, sometimes disagree (torture, scientific basis of morality), and sometimes agree (religion, free will). Very readable and thought-provoking.

        His biggest problem seems to me that he’s a bit too honest. I like that.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          I think sometimes his rhetoric shades into something quite dark. It’s invariably put in the form of a thought experiment, and it’s always ‘if-the-worst-should-happen’ scenarios, but that’s how every other advocate of torture puts it too. The arguments about ‘first strikes’ and ‘killing someone for what they believe’ are also presented as abstracted, almost syllogistic arguments. But they’re not about quantum cats or chinese rooms – they’re about real people, and real people do not function in such a way that I can ever, for example, be sure that they believe what they say with such certainty that I’m warranted in killing them. His arguments are seductively straight-forward and most of what he says is entirely reasonable, but his more extreme arguments teeter on the edge of being…I don’t know, not indefensible because they are in a sense perfectly reasonable, almost deductive conclusions. But they are conclusions based on such incredibly extreme and improbable scenarios that I question the wisdom of a. making them, and b. inferring anything at all from them.

          • Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

            It’s a problem with many idealized abstractions. There are times when it’s useful to ignore compounding factors / “all else being equal” / “for the sake of discussion” and so on, but they tend to be in introductory physics classrooms. When you want to know what the gravitational constant is, it’s good to ignore air resistance…but, if you ignore air resistance and the rest, you’ll conclude that you should be able to strap a lawnmower engine to a skateboard and make it from New York to Los Angeles in only a few hours.

            Such it is with, for example, Sam’s arguments in favor of torture. If you ignore the way that torture has actually been used every single time it’s ever been used in all of human history and instead consider only the reasons typically put forth for why it should be “on the table,” yes, of course; you’d have to be inhuman to not want to save the lives millions of New Yorkers at the expense of a few minutes of unpleasantness for the really bad man. But that’s every bit as realistic as suggesting that we could also save all those people by giving them skateboards and lawnmowers so they could have dinner in Los Angeles whilst the authorities bribe the bad man with a Cuban cigar and a good cup of coffee to call off his nefarious plot.

            It’s not just Sam, of course. Communism is a beautiful idealism, so long as you ignore the bits of human nature that motivate people to both be generous and selfish. Capitalism is every bit as beautiful, so long as you pretend that everybody is omniscient and honest. In the real world, both idealisms wreak great havoc unless carefully reigned in.

            …and even that misses the point. Gravity is always a dominating force in human-scale physics, but you can almost never get away with pretending that it’s the only force at work. Similarly, communism and capitalism both have limited explanatory power in certain domains and you’d be wise to understand when those forces are at work.

            The key is to recognize the limits of whatever theory you’re working with, and to use the right tool for the right job. Sam’s problem is a failure to recognize when he’s abstracted a principle out of the scope at which it’s practically applicable.

            That even applies in interrogation. Torture is never effective and never excusable and never called for, but successful interrogators are fully aware of human psychology and how to leverage cognitive dissonance to bring people to their senses, without resorting to torture — and, indeed, often by resorting to kindness and civility. A terrorist is going to commit acts of terror in no small part because he believes his victims are evil incarnate. Show him mercy at the time he most expects to reap what he has sown, and you may well succeed in shattering his entire worldview and causing him first to question everything he thinks he knows, and then to reject large chunks of it. And, oh-by-the-way, you’ll also be that much less likely to make others think you’re evil incarnate and remove their justification for their thinking….

            Cheers,

            b&

          • peepuk
            Posted February 14, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

            Agree, it’s not wisdom, that’s why I call it honesty. And I must admit I find these thing’s fascinating, maybe because they are a bit dark.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted February 15, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

              I find them fascinating too. Some of the deepest questions about identity, free-will, consciousness, etc. are only amenable to thought experiments. But I’d be incredibly careful not to infer too much from them. I can’t meet an exact clone of myself, I can’t ride a beam of light and terrorists don’t turn up for interrogation 60 minutes before a nuclear explosion only they can abort, but I can still infer things from the first two scenarios without there being immediate implications for public policy.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Oddly, I disagree with Harris on torture (marginally) but I simultaneously find him to be the most powerful of the 4 horsemen re his arguments against religion. I think he hits the nails most squarely on the head re discussing the pathologies of faith.

        • Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

          I tend to agree with Harris on torture- his examples are very hypothetical (it may not be wise to expound on them -as Ben pointed out), but he says that torture should *always* remain illegal, even if there could be some imaginary circumstances where it *might* be somehow ethical.
          I do not think that is defending the use of torture at all, I think it is close to mainstream philosophical thought on the matter.

          • BillyJoe
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:46 am | Permalink

            Sam’s problem is that he says too much.
            IF x and IF y and IF z, then A.
            But if x,y,and z are extraordinarily improbable, why make that statement at all. It just distracts and detracts from your main point.

            • Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:40 am | Permalink

              That is exactly what I meant of it maybe not being ‘wise’, there is a whole gang of rabiate ‘social justice warriors’ and -religious or not- ‘moral crusaders’ bent on distorting his views.
              However, I think he should express his views, but he should not be (and I bet he isn’t) surprised that that is exactly what is happening. I admire him for having the courage to express these views, while he knows it will give the ones mentioned above some mistaken ammunition on social media.
              I would leave it to Harris himself to decide whether this distracts from his main points (I think it does not really). After all, he’s not exactly what we would call -as opposed to some of his opponents- a moron. Stronger, the liberty of doing thought experiments is part and parcel of free thought and speech.
              I mean, should Harris self-censure for the threats of opprobrium by the SJW’s and MC’s? I think not.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

              I agree with that. They’re not isolated thought-experiments, written up in an essay on moral philosophy, they’re a series of inherently quite conservative scenarios that are written almost always in the context of Islam and how society should respond to it. If they’re not related to Islam and Muslims then they’re non-sequiturs. If they are related then I find them disturbing. And I can agree that he seems to be a very likeable, funny, unprejudiced guy, whose opinions generally are perfectly reasonable, but if someone’s arguments are shonky then what can you do?

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted February 15, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

                * conservative in a political sense that is.

          • Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            torture should *always* remain illegal, even if there could be some imaginary circumstances where it *might* be somehow ethical

            But that itself is hugely problematic. If we are to be a nation of laws, then the only morally responsible reason to ever break a law is as an act of civil disobedience intended to bring attention to and thus overturn an unjust law.

            The notion that we could have laws against torture that the Executive will selectively ignore when convenient is the entire problem we have today, and it goes straight to Nixon’s “It’s not illegal when the President does it” arrogance.

            If there really are situations where torture is called for, then exceptions for it need to be carved out in the law. And this nonsense about relying on the judgement of field commanders in crisis and them expecting to be punished for it perhaps even if it turns out later to be justified? Again…that’s been the excuse for every single act of torture ever, all of them inexcusable.

            Again, I don’t think Sam is approaching this from a perspective of thinking it’s good to torture people, but rather of naïveté when it comes to what torture actually is and the real reasons it’s used. He still thinks torture is an interrogation technique, which it’s not only never been good for but has never actually been used for. Rather, it’s a means by which tyrants control their populations — and, again, that’s all it’s ever been good for and has been used for. The trick, of course, is that the tyrants often use the “interrogation” excuse, but even that’s just part of the population control technique. There’s no need for you to fear torture if you’re a good citizen and cooperate with everything we order you to do — and just look at what happens to people who have the temerity to refuse a simple request for information!

            Sam, I think, believes too much in the nobility of the American spirit or some such to think that actual Americans would ever engage in such, which is why he thinks it’s reasonably conceivable that the propaganda excuses for torture could actually hypothetically play out in the real world. And, sure, if we model a cow as a frictionless sphere, you could drive it all the way across Texas but with a single gentle shove in the right direction.

            b&

            • Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

              Ben, you have a *very* good point there, and you make it eloquently.
              Even if we affirm that torture should *always* be illegal, the notion that in some hypothetical circumstances it might somehow be ethical, does appear a kind of ‘slippery slope’ kind of notion, that can be -and is- abused.
              And you also note that torture may actually not be effective in getting the required information. For the latter I have no expertise, I really do not know. It is clear that experts in the matter, torturers and psychologists are not united in their opinions there. Are there any serious studies about the info-effectivity of torture?
              [I agree with you that in real life, in most circumstances, torture is not used to obtain information at all, but used to break a psychological backbone and to intimidate the group targeted.]
              My point is that Harris is, contrary to social media notion, *not* in favour of torture, and particularly that his stance is not deviating from mainstream philosophical thought.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      It does often seem that way, but it’s not universal. I mildly dislike the way Harris writes and speaks, but have no problem with the content – just (because of the first thing) I haven’t been exposed to much of it.

  17. peltonrandy
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Werlemen appears to have a deep ignorance of causality and rational thought. Even if Hicks read the works of Harris and Dawkins and incorporated them into his thoughts in some distorted fashion, this would not make Harris and Dawkins culpable in anyway. There is no causal link here.

  18. Scientifik
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The distinction between the terms: an atheist and anti-theist must be a subtle one.

    If someone, for instance, doesn’t believe in a 6000-year-old Earth and other creationist BS and actively challenges such claims, opposing the teaching of creationism in science class, does it make that person an acreationist or anti-creationist?

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Anti-theists, in my experience, have tended to incline towards the Hitchens end of atheism, presumably because that’s how he self-identified. They also tend to be a touch more aggressive and polemical than other gnus. This is really just what I’ve seen in web forums and comments sections though.

      • Scientifik
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Well, I saw Christopher Hitchens debating rabbis, imams, and catholic priests, and not one of those debates ended up in any form of aggressive act (and not a single fatwa was thrown by him at any of his discussants).

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely. Hitchens himself always managed to utterly dominate opponents without being aggressive. Like being gently nudged aside by a slow-moving Rolls-Royce.

          • Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:40 am | Permalink

            Yes, that was one of the things so admirable in Hitchens, being extremely assertive and strong headed, but always in a graceful manner.
            Not that I think that other stalwarts of atheism -if I may call them that- are not graceful (such as Harris, Hirshi Ali or, of course, our Host -limiting myself to the letter H),they are very much so, but the Hitch (another H) was *really* good at *combining* ‘aggressive’ assertion with gracefulness.
            And such a good debater: the greatest example (IMMO) was his answer when asked if he would feel safer in encountering a group of young males in the evening, if they had come out of a prayer meeting or not. He limited himself to the letter B, in situations he had actually been in: Beirut, Belfast, Baghdad, Bombay, Belgrade…(I’m sure I ‘m missing a few). So utterly convincing, maybe not really a ‘Hitch-slap’, since quite elaborate, but still sublime. I think he never ‘lost’ a debate, a great warrior, a ‘world champion’ in more than one way.

            Thinking of *his* death, Jerry, what would happen to this site if your plane crashed?
            (my apologies if you find that question impertinent, it is not meant to be so).

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Same here. I don’t get the distinction, unless by anti-theist they mean someone who hates theists or something.

      Equally puzzling is the trope that atheism is “lack of belief” and hence, somehow, not a belief at all. If you lack a belief in the tooth fairy, don’t you then have a belief that the tooth fairy probably doesn’t exist?

      • Scientifik
        Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. If an unbeliever is talking about ‘lack of belief’ this lack of belief may essentially stem from two sources, lack of sufficient evidence, or the presence of evidence that contradicts the God hypothesis at hand. In both cases we are talking about an evidence-based belief.

      • Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        Same word, two meanings: lack of belief with regard to fairies means not making unsubstantiated fact claims about the world; believing there is no tooth fairy means accepting the reality of facts and logic.

        Both descriptions of the non-believer might be applied to you or me, but the unsupported “belief” that is rejected is a different mind state from our “belief” in the empirical evidence.

        The anti-theist distinction is not necessarily the hating of theists but the calling-out of, criticizing of, working to undermine theism. Werleman is channelling what the above-it-all in crowd thinks: we are so smart we know there is no God, but it’s bad form to criticize faith as it is so very important to all the little people.

        What confuses me is, what exactly do these pro-theist (or at least neutral) atheists want? I might say they want the Dawkinses and Harrises of the world to STFU, but not really because fun and profit comes from trolling them. I think it could just all be a game to Werleman et al.

        • Scientifik
          Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          “What confuses me is, what exactly do these pro-theist (or at least neutral) atheists want?”

          And what confuses me is how any atheist can be pro-Sharia, pro-theocracy, pro-faith schools, etc. Or even neutral about any of those things.

          • Sastra
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

            I think the atheists who seem to favor or be neutral to these things have bought into the idea that a community or culture has the right to live as it wants in the same way that a family or individual does. Live and let live. They’re skipping over what we see as serious violations of rights and reframing them as “choices” within a different kind of lifestyle.

            “But they want to live that way!” is a frequent refrain.

            • Scientifik
              Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

              ““But they want to live that way!” is a frequent refrain.”

              A cowardly cop-out if there ever was one.

              Don’t they understand that a religion like Islam is all about submission (it’s in the name!). One is born into the religion, labeled Muslim, and has to live under this religious regime, or else face the consequences of apostasy.

              Please read:

              Egypt’s War on Atheism

              http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/opinion/mona-eltahawy-egypts-war-on-atheism.html?_r=2

          • Posted February 15, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            The neutrality is what it is, but it’s hypocritical to condemn those who speak out against atrocities when surely a professional opinionator is not entirely neutral and silent about thing that matter to him or her – to Jerry’s point, on gay rights, for example, or on the perceived excesses of anti-theists: if Dawkins and Harris are expected to clam up re: Islam, then why is it okay for him to sling mud at anti-theists? I’m pretty sure I know what the answer is, and it is not flattering to this person’s intellectual honesty.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted February 15, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      Not really.

      If someone is an atheist because he sees no reason to believe in gods because of a lack of evidence for gods, but never feels any need to discus religion or gods, you could hardly label him an anti-theist. And, believe it or not, most atheists are like this.

      Not on this thread of course. Here we argue against theism, which sort of meets the definition of anti-theism.

      • Scientifik
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 4:47 am | Permalink

        Oh, so that’s what’s it about. Speak about your views on god and religion, and be prepared to be labeled anti-theist.

        Keep your mouth shut, don’t engage in public conversation, never raise any objections to the excesses of the organized faiths and you’re a cool atheist.

    • Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      My understanding is that when someone wants to make that distinction, “atheism” is simply the condition of not being convinced there is a god, while “anti-theism” is the view that religion is a deleterious force, we’d be better off without it, and that those who hold the view quite possibly engage in anti-religion activism of one kind or another.

      This seems to me to be a real and legitimate distinction. In informal communication, however, I think “atheism” tends to subsume at least some of the things that might more properly belong in the category “anti-theism”.

      • Scientifik
        Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        “engage in anti-religion activism of one kind or another”

        What would be some examples of such anti-religion activism? Defending science classes from being hijacked by the benighted religious ideologues? Exposing the absurdities and immorality of religious texts?

        • Posted February 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Sure. Examples would include anything the individual actor thinks would help erode religion. The point of the formal distinction is that someone who thinks religion is harmless and says “theists, go ahead and do your thing; it’s all good”, but who doesn’t him-or-her-self believe a god exists, is an atheist. So “anti-theist” refers to people who don’t think “it’s all good”. Finding religion deleterious is not the same thing as not believing in god.

          • Lowen Gartner
            Posted February 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            Agree – most of my friends are functional atheists. They give the existence of gods as much thought as they give the efficacy of homeopathy. It’s just not relevant to their lives. They are happy to live and let live, feeling no compulsion to criticize beliefs different from their own let alone participate an any form of discussion or activism.

            I would speculate that many more who identify as atheists are like my friends than are like those who would read this website.

  19. Sastra
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link to Nugent’s piece.

    It seems to me that the police and other investigators are right now under enormous pressure to find that this was a “hate crime” specifically directed against Muslims and we will not tolerate this. The tearful insistence of the grieving relatives, the supportive words of President Obama, and yes, the very suspicious fact that this guy who was mad at “everybody” and who wrote against ISIS “just happened” to select brown Muslims in headscarves as his victims. Pin it on Islamophobia and the condemn it in the strongest terms.

    But I don’t think they can legitimately do this. After reading the long laundry list of the Facebook posts the killer does not seem to have decided to fulfill his ideology: he went against his ideals. He himself would and probably will come out and say that he grossly violated his own standards and the standards of the gnu atheists he admired. A disinterested observer — let alone professionals who are well used to plowing through the hate-filled ramblings of proud bigots — will conclude this, too.

    In a sense, it’s a relief.

    But it’s also a bit scary.

    Because if there is too much pressure on authorities to come up with the “right” finding and rule it an anti-Islam hate crime, then there is no smoking gun of “Muslims must die.” The ‘evidence’ they will be forced to wave as justification for the charge are quotations from Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, as well as slogans and headlines which could have been posted by ANY of us. Just being an atheist who criticizes religion openly will have to be enough.

    Blasphemy leads to violence; blasphemy must be stopped.

    Not good.

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      It will definitely be interesting to see how Hicks comports himself from here.

      That he turned himself over to the police right away gives one reason to think that he may well yet have the courage to condemn his own actions. Of course, nothing can even remotely undo what he’s done, but something so small is about all he has left within his power to be a force for good in the world. And it actually would be non-trivial.

      His lawyers might not let him say, “boo,” though, of course….

      b&

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      The list of what he posted on Twi**er is very similar to mine, except my gun posts are anti-gun, not pro-gun and I make my points via humour quite a lot. I’ve certainly quoted most of the atheists in the full list in Nugent’s article.

      I suppose this is where Karen Armstrong would say, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

    • Posted February 15, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      “The ‘evidence’ they will be forced to wave as justification for the charge are quotations from Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, as well as slogans and headlines which could have been posted by ANY of us. Just being an atheist who criticizes religion openly will have to be enough.”

      Unfortunately, I’ve seen exactly this analysis go through my FB feed a few times already.

      You are right. This is not good. I might go so far as to say it’s at least a little scary. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but based on what the people I’m regularly in contact with are saying about this incident, I’m not feeling particularly comfortable with the idea of being open about my atheism.

  20. Anon
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Ctrl+c Ctrl+v Werleman.

    I’m blocked from his twitter, so I enjoy a forced separation from his textual diarrhoea.

  21. feiticeira1
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    “They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly.”

    CJ Werleman is attributing this to Sam Harris? It doesn’t sound at all like Sam’s writing. It comes instead from Nathan Lean at Salon.com http://tinyurl.com/cq5hauj

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      It kept getting worse and worse, just like the rants he accuses atheists of. And when he thought he was making points against Dawkins, he was actually making them for him.

    • Henry Fitzgerald
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      And Werleman is definitely attributing the quote to Harris; there’s nothing else those quotation marks, in context, could mean.

      I’ve taken the liberty of posting the correct attribution in a comment on Werleman’s page, since nobody else seems to have (although maybe their comments, like mine, are being moderated). Hope that’s okay with you. I don’t actually call Werleman’s quotation dishonesty, since it could merely be extreme carelessness (but I think it’s probably dishonesty).

  22. feiticeira1
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    “They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly.”

    CJ Werleman is attributing this to Sam Harris? It’s Nathan Lean’s laughable summary of Sam’s position from an article on Salon.com http://tinyurl.com/cq5hauj

  23. Ionescu
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    With atheists like those who waste time on trivia and dumb news, theists have already won. Last time the death toll was 300.000 to a couple in the God vs Satan game[1]. God is the pure goodness. Satan is the bad guy.

    [1] http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page22.htm

  24. Mike Paps
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s far more likely that Werleman, or someone like him would kill, or inspire the killing of a new atheist than a new atheist inspiring the killing of a Muslim.
    My anti-theism is largely born out of sympathy for theists. I see them as both the victims of indoctrination, and the primary victims of religion. As has been mentioned before, for example, somewhere around 90% of those killed by Islamic terrorism are Muslims.

  25. Yiam Cross
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    2 men walk into magazine offices and kill 11 people while shouting “Allahu Akbar” and claiming that they are avenging an insult to their prophet, god and or religion. This, according to many commentators, has nothing to do with their religion. Apparently they’re not real moslems and their religion is one of peace despite the many direct instructions in their holy books and teachings to kill non believers, especially those who disrespect their religion.

    Man loses his rag and, unfortunately, lives in a country where he’s allowed to keep a gun in his pocket. By the time he has a chance to calm down a bit and realise what he’s done 3 people are dead. No one can find any reference to his hating moslems, no one has heard him say anything about wishing harm to moslems but he’s known to be an atheist.

    Many commentators are blaming his exposure to atheist literature, none of which suggests harming the religios believer in any way, for motivating him to harm these people. Even the president of his country seems to be suggesting he harmed these people because of their religion and how they looked.

    This crime has nothing to do with easy access to guns.

    What a bizarre world we live in.

    • Posted February 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      That’s pretty much it. Heads, they win; tails, we lose.

      b&

  26. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    The Wikipedia article on Werleman has a lot of material on his plagiarism, but only one unspecific sentence re his criticisms of Dawkins and Harris. You cannot get from the article WHY he compares Harris to Palin. Perhaps some editing is in order here.

  27. matt
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    cj werleman is such an asshole. pardon my french.

    • Negasta
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Don’t insult assholes by comparing them to lil’ CJ!

      Assholes are useful since they allow for anal sex and defecation.

      Lil’ CJ is more like a hemorrhoid, namely in both of them being useless lumps of flesh that are a shitty, irritating pain in the ass.

  28. Posted February 14, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    This is all very disturbing.

  29. Posted February 15, 2015 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I must recommend you for taking time and effort to take on Werleman. This guy has been shown to be such a liar, contorter, plagiator and general nitwit, that few would take the trouble: a Sisyphean task. Kudos to you!

  30. Posted February 15, 2015 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    I find Nugent’s post and the link to Hick’s Facebook scary.
    I can so much agree with Hicks, apart from his support for gun ownership and American pride (I’m not American), nearly all of what he says I could have said myself. So reasonable,and although I do not consider myself PC, very much PC.
    From his few remarks about traffic rules/infringements, I guess he could indeed be prone to road rage.
    From this, the most probable cause of these horrible murders appears to be road rage with the availability of a gun: a dangerous combination.
    Of course, that does not mean with certainty some hatred of Muslims did not play a role, but on the face of it not so.

  31. revatheist
    Posted February 15, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    It looks like Werleman now plaigiarizes ideas from Ben Affleck.

  32. Dominic
    Posted February 16, 2015 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Of course, had he no gun no one would have been shot. GUN CONTROL SAVES LIVES!


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] addresses the assertion that New Atheists like him have “blood on their hands,” in the lovely phrasing of C.J. […]

  2. […] Following the horrific Chapel Hill murders at the hands of a self-proclaimed atheist, Werleman could barely contain his excitement long enough for the bodies to go cold before exploiting the atrocity to further his own personal vendettas: […]

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