Monday, November 28, 2011

My thoughts on Gelatogate

Gelatogate, the biggest scandal to rock the atheist world since the last -gate scandal happened. As much as I want everyone to just give it up already, I have my two cents to throw in. (In case you're unfamiliar with it: here's Hemant's take, JT's thoughts, Jen's reaction, Adam's post, and PZ's rant.) Basically, responses range from, "Wow, how good for him to admit he was wrong! Let's reach out in friendship!" to "No, fuck him to the ground."

One person got to sit down with him and interview him. Basically, Andy (the Gelato store owner) said that we need to reach out to others and respect each others' beliefs, not mock them. Some of the firebrands in the movement (namely JT and PZ) feel that this is a ridiculous position to hold and we should still attack him and his business.

The problem with still being angry with this guy is that most people in America think this way. Andy is not special for thinking we shouldn't mock other people's beliefs. He just happens to have done a stupid thing in front of someone with a camera, and then the internet hate machine swarmed upon him. He's kind of like Kim Kardashian, except his sex tape was a sign.

We shouldn't worry about his opinions more than we do everyone else's. Okay?

(By the way, I took some Nyquil a while ago because I'm dealing with Cold #2 already this season, and I had planned to write a lot more and a lot more eloquently, but you know, Nyquil, so if there are horrible grammatical errors or anything like that, I'm sorry. Time for bed.)

(Wow, that seriously took me over an hour to write. I hardly wrote anything. I really need to go to bed now.)


  1. I think you make a really important point. This guy is no different than most of America - and most of America is wrong, because they conflate their very special beliefs with their identities, and thus think they should be held above mockery. +1, THIS, and other forms of internetty agreement-designation.

    However, I would like to draw a bit of a line between JT's and PZ's stances, which you have lumped together. When I read JT's article, despite coming to a different conclusion than he did, I was cheering along. I completely understand the skepticism of Andy's sincerity, and the desire to see him put his money where his mouth is (in a rather more significant fashion).

    PZ, on the other hand, doubted the sincerity of Andy's apology, and then threw in a whole bunch of goofy slippery-slope arguments (like the implication that accepting Andy's apology would result in the dilution of Skepticon somehow) and punitive sentiments (like "fuck him to the ground"). This is why I absolutely can't endorse PZ's stance, but I find JT's consistent and comprehensible.

    Personally, I've chosen to accept Andy's apology, because I think it's sincere and he recognized his wrong in this isolated instance. I still think he's a fucking idiot to say that we shouldn't mock falsifiable (and falsified) claims about the world, however precious people may hold them; I still think he's wholly wrong in his Christian beliefs; I don't think Skepticon did one single thing wrong; and moreover, I don't think that accepting Andy's apology means admitting that we did. I think it's a nod toward a tiny bit of progress and tolerance, but it's also a recognition of how much work is left to do.


    (sorry for the wordiness)
    (and thank you for this post)

  2. As I've said in other places, the gelato guy is apologizing to the wrong people. The person he should be apologizing to is Sam Singleton. His is the free speech that Andy the gelato guy was trying to indirectly squelch with his little temper tantrum. To quote Dennis Miller from back when he was funny, this is America, where you have the freedom to believe whatever whack job thing you want and I get to ridicule you mercilessly for it.