As the old saying goes, if you’re not part of the solution, you are indeed part of the problem. I’ve pointed out in the past that there are many vocal movements out there whose entire purpose in existing is to garner attention. If you oppose those movements, engaging them in discussion is working at odds with your opposition, the more you talk about them, complain about them or even talk to them, the more attention they get and thus, the happier they are.
One of the classic examples of this is the Westboro Baptist Church. They exist as attention whores. It’s all they care about. You cannot debate their beliefs, you cannot talk about their beliefs, you cannot talk around their beliefs, everything that you do while speaking about them, even obliquely, gives them the attention that they crave. You simply cannot win that way. In fact, the only way you can achieve any kind of victory is to simply ignore them completely. Don’t talk about them. Don’t look at them. Pretend they don’t exist. Just walk away. If everyone does this, they’ll fade into obscurity.
The other obvious example is Atheism+. It’s also an attention-whoring group, mostly to garner page hits and thus advertising revenue. Only the lowest level members think otherwise, the heavy hitters like Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers know where their bread is buttered, you just have to watch their behavior to see how they operate. They want money. They drive visitors to their pages to get money. When visitors stop coming, they do something stupid or outrageous and the visitors come flooding back. The only way to stop them from acting stupid, I doubt it’s possible to make them stop being stupid, is to stop putting those dollars in their pockets, stop adding to the mindless hysteria by talking about their drivel.
That’s exactly why I had my New Year’s Resolution this year to totally walk away from all things Atheism+ on either side. I no longer listen to anyone on the pro-Atheism+ side, and that includes people just talking about radical feminism, radical social justice, etc. It doesn’t have to fall under the A+ label, just the kind of things they obsess over. I didn’t stop there though, I also walked away from anyone who spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the Atheism+ retards. Not only was I not going to give the social justice crowd the page hits they were desperate for, I wasn’t going to support the people who drove others into the loving arms of the ad revenue generation on the social justice crowd’s web pages. Let’s be honest, where there are people making a name and fat bank account for themselves under the Atheism+ label, there are plenty of people on the other side making a name for themselves on attacking Atheism+. I think both sides are ridiculous and want no part of either.
However, there are quite a few atheists who delight in commenting, tweeting, blogging and generally playing right into the hands of the attention-whores. It’s not like they’re ignorant, they know what they’re doing but they just can’t control themselves. Some of them were nothings on the Internet before the debacle came along and become well known because they could suckle at the teat of controversy. I just don’t have any respect for people whose fame comes from being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and who haven’t earned that fame on their own. There’s only so valuable you can be if someone drops the ball in your hands and you just run away with it. We can only grant so much respect to people who didn’t do much, if anything, to earn it.
So please people, stop fueling the fire and giving attention to these whores. It’s all they need. They don’t care if you hate them, they don’t care if you shine the light of recognition on their activities, they don’t care how absurd they look, so long as that ad revenue keeps rolling in. You’re only slowing their eventual decline into obscurity. You’re only keeping stupidity afloat one more day. The longer you do it, the longer the skeptical world will suffer from the inanity of Atheism+, just as the longer people cater to the Phelps crowd, the longer they’ll dance around like monkeys on a leash. They only do it for money. If we want to stop them, we have to take that money and exposure away.