Tone-Policing and Atheist Idols

I was all prepared to come home and cool off – lest I be seen as shrill or having an outburst! – and write a post about JT Eberhard’s strange tone-policing of Bria Crutchfield. But I sat down and noticed that Jen McCreight had already said what I wanted to say, and much better than I would have:

JT’s psychic powers allow him to know that the woman asking the question on black on black crime is naive and not racist. This is despite that particular question being one of the most common, racist, debunked talking points from the far right. Even if 99% of the time that question is thrown out precisely to be hostile as a racism “gotcha”, we’re to assume this case is different for no good reason. He has downgraded the offense of that question to simply having “racist undertones,” despite playing up Bria’s response with value-laden terms like “outburst,” “angry tongue lashing,” “unnecessary,” and “diatribe.” His psychic powers also make him certain that Bria’s intent was to humiliate and embarrass, and he dismisses that Bria or other black atheists have any good reason to feel unwelcome at the conference. Because he gets to decide if they should feel unwelcome or not?

I would hope that JT actually listen to what his friends are saying, but he doesn’t have a history of doing that. Multiple friends close to JT have attempted to speak to him – privately and calmly even! – but their attempts seem to be falling on deaf ears:

And this call for calmness and personal explanations is even more infuriating coming from JT. I have calmly and privately explained social justice issues to JT for years, over email, texts, phone calls, in person conversations. So has Greta. So has Crommunist, who points out the last time he did so he was ignored, so he’s not going to try again. And also feel like all of these attempts have been ignored because no progress at all has been made.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that it’s more likely that he’ll write it off. Maybe he’ll continue to think people forgot how to speak English, like he did earlier:

jt today

“There are some days where people just forget how to read English.”

Or like he did in June after his Ron Lindsay misstep:

jt june

“I just don’t get it. I’m using English words with English speakers, and yet somehow some people are still hearing the exact opposite of what I’m saying. Is it opposite week?”

This is why I appreciate being part of a movement where many members recognize that our Big Names (TM) can indeed be wrong from time to time – even if those names don’t always recognize it themselves. While I appreciate much of what JT has had to say, he seems to be repeatedly failing on certain types of social justice issues. He’s one of the biggest reasons, if not THE reason, that I’m involved in the atheist movement today, so it brings me no pleasure to bring this up. But if we are to progress as a movement, we must be able to speak out when one of our members is mistaken. 

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About cultofcourtney

20-something. Former fundamentalist Christian. Atheist and feminist activist. Organizer for North Texas Secular Convention. View all posts by cultofcourtney

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