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Demise of the RDF Forum

February 26, 2010

It’s been an interesting week, thanks to Dr. Dawkins.

I know, right off the bat, I could come in conflict with his ardent defenders, even a bunch of forumites and ex-moderators whom I might otherwise agree with. How much of this was his fault, his doing? Was it a mistake, was someone else to blame, it’s his site and he can do what he wants, get over it…

Anyway, I could do worse than simply point out one of the moderators and his blog post on the subject, which sums up the reality of what took place, as opposed to any of the more…sensational news-media accounts.

As for my thoughts on it, well. I hardly feel as if I have that much of a stake in it. I started posting there in July 2008, have about 1300 posts to my name, never held any particular responsibility there. Call it a hobby. I’ll find new hobbies. I daresay if you’re reading this, you’re looking at one of them. Had to free up some time somewhere.

So how seriously should I take Dawkins’ apparent comments? Did he even write that? More to the point: should I care? Certainly he has the right to do whatever he wishes with the place. That trumps any agreement or conventional wisdom or social norm that might otherwise apply. Call it freedom of speech, whatever. Though in this case, it’s more like freedom to restrict speech.

Starting a new discussion will require approval, so we ask that you only submit new discussions that are truly relevant to reason and science. Subsequent responses on the thread will not need approval—however anything off topic or violating the new terms of service will be removed.

And although this ‘outrage’ post with Dawkins’ name on the end mentions the premise of archiving the old forum’s content, it is no matter that the site admins have seen to it that people who try to do so, are instead treated to a rickroll. Promise broken; but it’s his right to do so, unquestioningly.

Dawkins & co. are of course free to mess around with their property, demolish it, restrict expression on their site, and so on. And while I certainly empathize with those now hopefully happier few who lashed out at him or at Josh Timonen, I didn’t join in that, and I have no wish to do so now.

In the spirit of the now discarded forum’s rules: don’t attack the person. But ideas are fair game. And while we ought not abuse a person, they ought not to be immune from criticism. Ideas are not deserving of respect. They can earn it, stand or fall on their own.

Further, however disconnected Dawkins may be from the operation of that forum, he bears responsibility for it and for what his workers did. I’m curious as to who exactly did what, and why; who knew what about it, who approved what, and when. But in the end, Dawkins is still ultimately responsible.

I can hold him to that. That is my right.

As to the ‘getting over it’ — to my mind this is not what is being requested, demanded. Not to ‘get over it’ but to excuse it, to sweep it under the rug. Forgive and forget. People can move on after being wronged, certainly. Look at me here, trying to find something else to do with my time. That’s getting over it. But there is nothing wrong with people responding to being wronged, or seeking redress, or just getting the truth out when slandered. From my experience, from looking at society, this isn’t wrong. This is normal.

There is real irony to getting quote mined by Dr. Dawkins (or web lackeys thereof). Real irony to having to bother to get the truth out when the media just want to taste the sensation. These are problems that Dawkins should be familiar with. And it’s interesting to see how swiftly that actions he might normally oppose may be performed on his behalf.

Ah well. Enough of a ramble for one day.

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One comment

  1. […] Schadenfreude begins to describe it October 25, 2010 I began writing here due to the demise of the old RDF forum, and although I figured bygones would be bygones when Dawkins apologized, I admit to a severe case […]



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