Friday, March 07, 2014

Daylight Atheism, Adam Lee, censorship and Social Justice Warriors

For six months I was a frequent and enthusiastic participant in Adam Lee's ongoing discussion of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at his site Daylight Atheism, but on Sunday, February 23 I quit because I was censored.

Although I am an atheist, I didn't need confirmation that atheists can be just as authoritarian and as devout worshippers of authority figures as any religionist - I had seen what the mostly atheist followers of Richard Dawkins had done when a woman in the atheist community dared to express an opinion with which Richard Dawkins disagreed. And then of course there is atheist hero Sam Harris, defender of torture and ethnic profiling.

From very early on in my analysis of Atlas Shrugged, it struck me that it was very likely that Ayn Rand had Asperger's syndrome. When I googled Ayn Rand and Asperger's I found one of Rand's fans making the same suggestion:
...It is almost certain that Rand had Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that has only come into greater awareness since the early 1990s...  
...It is possible that neither  author knew enough about Asperger’s to make the necessary connections, but there is abundant evidence for this proposition, particularly in Heller’s description of Rand’s childhood. It is perhaps just as well that neither author explicitly considers this possibility, because it would be all too easy to pathologise Rand, leading to a reductionist psycho-biography that would have done disservice to her ideas and influence. 
Descriptions of Rand's character from many sources as well as video evidence make it clear that she had traits much in common with what are said to be Asperger's traits. And an important reason for why "Atlas Shrugged" doesn't work as an actual critique of real-world socioeconomic systems, is because Rand probably viewed the world through undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. It is the theory that makes the most sense.

Now I'm certainly opened to arguments against the notion that Rand had Asperger's, but I didn't get arguments last September when I first brought up the subject at Daylight Atheism - I got abuse. And Adam Lee was perfectly fine with this - which of course should have been a red flag to me then. An anonymous coward (although his true identity appears to be Alexander Weaver) who goes by the screen name Azkyroth, who rarely made any substantial contributions to the Atlas Shrugged conversation was the worst offender:

The book will make so much more sense if you look at it as revenge-porn by someone with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome
And fuck you back.

If you follow the "No, it doesn't" link you can see that Azkyroth's evidence for why I am wrong is a TV Tropes article that supports everything I said - the traits listed as indicative of Asperger's are very much like descriptions of Ayn Rand in the two biographies and two memoirs by her biggest sycophants, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. None of these authors suggests that Rand had Asperger's but their reports of her behavior aligns very much with the descriptions.

Adam Lee tried to turn this into an issue of the wrongness of diagnosing the dead. First, there is a long tradition in literary analysis of diagnoses of dead writers and Ayn Rand is certainly not the first famous dead person about whom it as been speculated had Asperger's.

But also, hypocritically, Lee never had a problem with anybody suggesting that Ayn Rand was a psychopath.

The idea that Rand was a psychopath is absurd - the reason that psychopaths are so scary is because they are masters of faking emotions they don't feel. If there was ever anybody who lacked the ability to fake, it was Ayn Rand.

Now I have no direct experience with people with Asperger's as far as I know. A cousin of mine has twin boys who have Asperger's but I've never met them. We are Facebook friends though. So I have no negative feelings about people with Asperger's and my understanding of the traits of Asperger's comes mainly from people who have Asperger's talking about Asperger's.

I explained this to the people at Daylight Atheism, but it did no good. Instead Azykyroth claimed that my speculating that Ayn Rand had Asperger's was the equivalent of being a racist. I know that sounds absurd, but here is a screen shot of the comment:

And you can see the results - rather than refuting Azykroth's bogus comparison to racism, instead Adam Lee told me to STFU. 

So it seems that as far as Adam Lee is concerned, the mere speculation that somebody that he and his friends don't like has Asperger's is the equivalent of racism.

Apparently all along Adam Lee was a Social Justice Warrior and I didn't realize it. Possibly because my understanding of SJW was that if you disagree with them about something you are accused of racism. But it seems that another method is to accuse somebody of "ablism" and then compare that to racism. So to disagree with a SJW you may be accused of racism, or alternately, one degree from racism.

Azykyroth wasn't content merely to suggest I was an "ablist" - that wasn't vicious enough:

Azkyroth's lie about me having an "obsessive need to demonize people with AS" was allowed to stand, but my defense of myself was deleted. And of course Azkyroth presents no evidence at all that I have ever harmed any living person by my speculations that Ayn Rand may have had Asperger's - but that isn't necessary. Social Justice Warriors don't have to provide evidence for any of their vicious attacks - they argue by assertion and evidence counts for nothing.

My assumption is that although I only know Azkyroth as an anonymous online coward, Adam Lee is a friend of this person in real life, and so feels compelled to side with him. But it's possible that Lee feels that the hypocritical prohibition against the topic of Ayn Rand and Asperger's is perfectly right and just without any personal considerations.

In any case, I saw no point in continuing to participate in a discussion run by Social Justice Warriors. Adam Lee has no shame about publicly siding with liars and unhinged defamers and feels no shame in censoring good-faith arguments on behalf of liars and unhinged defamers. But that's what Social Justice Warriors do.


  1. Adam is very good at censoring those who do not agree with him.

  2. Adam enjoys censoring those who do not agree with him.

  3. Do you speak from experience? What happened?

  4. I followed Adam on Big Think for a period of time. I found anyone who disagreed with him was often savaged by his merry band of disciples - like Azkyroth. They could use any vulgar language they wanted, and were alowed to take the discussion off topic any time they chose. But for those who chose to put forth a viewpoint Adam did not like, he would often censor them. Which is OK on a personal blog, but is not OK on sites like Patheos or Bigthink.

  5. Yes that's an interesting point. It's one thing if it's strictly a personal blog, but Lee appears to consider himself a representative of atheism.

    And even participating as often and as enthusiastically as I did in the "Atlas Shrugged" discussion was no protection against being censored. Azkyroth (Alexander Weaver) contributed very little to the discussion of "Atlas Shrugged" but he and Lee go back to at least 2006, so I guess length of time knowing Lee trumps quality of contribution to discussion.

    It is revolting that all it takes for Lee to censor a perfectly valid topic of conversation is for an authoritarian jerkface like Alexander Weaver to throw a hissy fit. Not to mention the shameless hypocrisy - it is perfectly acceptable to speculate on Daylight Atheism that Rand was a psychopath, but it was verboten to speculate as to whether she had Asperger's. But this isn't the first time it's occurred to me that Adam Lee doesn't possess the intellectual abilities to comprehend abstract concepts, which is why he doesn't get why it's hypocritical to ban discussions of one speculation and not others.

    They are a disgrace to free inquiry - they're only in favor of it if they are in complete control of the questions asked.

  6. "... so I guess length of time knowing Lee trumps quality of contribution to discussion."

    Without a doubt, you have Adam Lee fiqured out - A Selective Social Justice Warrior, and a hypocrite. It's too bad, as he often raises some very good topics for discussion. However he does not exert control over any of his followers, only those like yourself who raise perfectly valid insights which may not be in line with his narrow ideology.

  7. Well the thing is, I would have been open to arguments against Rand having Asperger's - I'm no expert and it's possible that what might appear to be a correspondence between Rand's traits and Asperger's was incorrect. But instead of reasoned arguments Alexander Weaver hurled abuse and insults at me - as I demonstrated above. It isn't enough in his opinion to simply disagree with me - I must be completely shut down on the subject.

    And ironically, the topic of Rand and Asperger's had already concluded before Alexander Weaver got his censorship boots on - the magical damage that he likes to hallucinate occurs to people with Asperger's whenever anybody speculates that Rand had Asperger's had already been done. But of course Weaver's work isn't done until he's hurled vicious unfounded abuse at those with whom he disagrees. It's a nice little club Weaver and Lee have going on. I guess it makes them feel all powerful and virtuous to censor anybody whose opinion might be the tiniest bit controversial amongst fellow Social Justice Warriors.

  8. And part of the problem, frankly, is that Lee and Weaver aren't especially bright and most of the people who contribute to Daylight Atheism aren't especially bright - nor well-informed, nor full of intellectual curiosity. I'd already realized that it's a big echo chamber shortly after I began to contribute to the discussions there. They aren't too big on artistic license either - another regular contributor had a meltdown because I quoted a gonzo journalist who made a reference to Rand's "philosophical vagina." Many people considered that "sexist" although when you actually questioned them in detailed their claim fell apart.

    Proving that you don't have to be a religionist to be a dumbass.

  9. Saturday, 5/13/17 Evening

    I am also now on the list of Adam Lee's toys. I have withdrawn. I am no toy.

    Here's his scheme: he posts some bizarre and old tropes about Ayn Rand, every sentence of which deserves a slap-down. Then, his choir chimes in on the comments. They are worse.

    Over the last three days, I have made several posts challenging both Lee and his followers. Lee delays 10 hours, more or less, then posts SOME of my responses. Choir slams, all ridiculous, follow swiftly, and Lee responds, maybe.

    You can visit the thread, but don't take the "weakness" of my challenge verbatim. Posts are missing, and you can't interact with a 10-hour buffer, when the opposition can post immediately.

    I used no foul language, character assassination or even rudeness. Just firm opposition to the smears and hit jobs.

    So, it is a sanitized scenario. It is craven.

    ::::: John Donohue :::::

  10. Nancy, do you have any post here (I've read at least five of yours on the subject of AR) you'd wish to nominate, or do you have inclination to start a new thread, in which you would state your one biggest negative on Ayn Rand, and then engage in civil discussion?

  11. I'm not especially interested in Ayn Rand these days since I've already written the play that was based in part on researching Ayn Rand.

    Since you are on Blogger why don't you focus on your own blog with comments enabled and then you can discuss whatever you wish and be moderator.

    I have found that the only real remedy for dealing with censorship on other people's blogs is to have your own blog on which you can express your own opinions, free of interference.

  12. Ok.
    I just went searching for a link to your play. Couldn't find it.
    Can you link me please.