If you were a libertarian around 2008, it seemed you either accepted Ron Paul as the best chance of something libertarianish becoming president, or you thought he was a terrible example of a libertarian. I was in the latter camp. Somehow he managed to convince people he was all for liberty and freedom. However, it only took a little bit of research to learn about the Ron Paul newsletters, vile hateful things published in his name that he was in fact completely aware of. Looking at his voting history, you could see that he was against women’s right to choose and he cared little to nothing for gay rights. He was outraged at the result of Lawrence v Texas, a Supreme Court case that struck down an anti-sodomy law that regulated what people do in their private lives. He was admittedly anti-science, saying he didn’t accept evolution, didn’t accept climate change, and in a scary statement for a doctor, claimed he’d never seen a pregnancy that needed to be ended with an abortion, somehow never running across an ectopic pregnancy.
With a lazy media and a naive internet, he built a fanatical following around the idea that he was a “libertarian”. Ron Paul is a lot of things, but was not a libertarian in 2008. Every time I heard his named linked with libertarians I cringed. Few people have done more damaged to the image of a libertarian than any single person I can think of. The media will always be forever lazy about non-mainstream ideas, and you can still see that today with media personalities wondering why libertarians aren’t outraged about Ferguson, MO (I read about that while reading about twenty articles about Ferguson on Reason.com). If the first and only time people are exposed to libertarian ideas is through Ron Paul, I wouldn’t blame them for not being interested. He does nothing but perpetuate the worst stereotypes about libertarians.
So how is PZ Myers Ron Paul?
I was in a mostly social media blackout this week because I was busy at work, and just wanted to take some time away. It wasn’t until today that I read about some particular callous statements made by 2009 Humanist of the Year PZ Myers concerning the death of Robin Williams and the subsequent media coverage. Apparently, PZ Myers was dismayed that the media covered it all, and seemed to imply the media was happy to move on from Ferguson, MO to talk about Rob Williams because he was a wealthy white man. Well, it’s Thursday August 14th, and I’ve heard very little about Robin Williams today and pretty much all about Ferguson MO. I imagine it’s been the same for most people. A shocking suicide by a beloved comic/actor did dominate the news cycle for a time, but then it went right back to a real crisis in Missouri (I live in the KC area of Missouri).
This is just one of countless diskish statements PZ Myers has made for years and years. Somehow he has become a popular, well known atheist and …. humanist. The last part there is hard to type because it seems hard to believe such a misanthrope could be considered a humanist. Humanists care about other people, not themselves. Myers’ ridiculous, mean, spiteful comments about the death of Robin Williams have no place in humanism. You can have empathy for the people of Ferguson, Michael Brown’s family, and the family of Robin Williams all at the same time. You don’t have to pick and choose. What Myers decided to do, though, was play to his crowd for the lulz. He may have tried to make it seemed like he cared so much about the Michael Brown situation that he was willing to go against the grain, but no, it was really about stroking his ego. That’s not humanism. It’s even way meaner that most libertarians, frankly.
If you’re not an atheist, or a humanist, but you’re interested, you may run across PZ Myers, his blog, and the horde of sycophantic commenters. With his nasty demeanor, lack of empathy for anyone not his kind of atheist, questional accuracy, he’s a terrible ambassador for atheism or humanism. He ensures that opponents of atheism always have some great quotes to make atheists look like dicks. Pissing on Robin Williams, the Koran, etc, that’s the kind of atheism we want? I don’t think so. It’s certainly not what I want.
As someone who runs in atheist and libertarian circles, PZ Myers is indeed, Ron Paul.