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.