Hey “William”- You’re Definately Not Helping
Edit July 1, 2010: William, the author of You’re Not Helping, has made a proper apology here. I would like to add that I believe this apology to be sincere, and applaud William for his bravery in coming forward and clearing the air. Thank you William.
I don’t get to do much blog watching on weekends and completely missed the climax of a story I had been following since mid-last week.
You’re Not Helping imploded before our very eyes this past weekend; effectively verifying accusations made by a couple of bloggers, most notably oedipusmaximus of The Buddha Is Not Serious.
After reading oedipus’ post and the comments last week, I was convinced something was gravely wrong with YNH (beyond just contradicting themselves on a post by post basis). Facts came to light that eventually prompted “William”, the “brains” behind YNH to admit to creating a circle-jerk of sock puppets to congratulate one another on their brilliance and gang up on dissenters. He does not, however, admit to being a religious Poe masquerading as an atheist to shame New Atheists; an allegation I leveled at YNH over on Camels With Hammers and still believe to be the case.
So “William”, it turns out, was several regular commenters on his own blog. I assume he used this system to bolster his argument by creating false consensus, maybe hoping that a gang mentality would eventually take hold so that his sock puppets could be eventually phased out.
This post, though, is about none of those things. Oedipus and Greg Laden and others have done a fantastic job of documenting the rise and spectacular fall of YNH.
This is about the last post on YNH, the one that should have been an apology to people who were attacked and villified by one person masquerading as many. It should have been an apology; what we got instead was an admission and finger pointing. It wasn’t even a good admission. Admissions should involve some degree of humility, some indication that the author bears responsibility for both the actions and the consequences.
So to Will, what I want to talk about is that last post; the missed opportunity to make a bad situation better and possibly save what could have been a welcome voice in the blogosphere:
First off, this is not an apology. This is a eulogy for a self-proclaimed martyr, a way for you to spread blame around until there is none left for you to shoulder.
If it does say “I’m Sorry” it says it with a caveat. It says “I’m sorry you guys didn’t appreciate me and had to be dicks about it”. It says “I’m sorry you had to bring other people into this”.
Humility is not easy. We are prideful people; people directly invested in our opinions and actions. Regardless of whether you sat down at your keyboard to write an apology or an admission, humility should have oozed from the very first paragraph….
And so I give you….the very first paragraph:
The worst part about being anonymous bloggers is that people will lie, distort, and do anything to try and out you. So far, we’ve weathered the accusations and conspiracies, because they’ve been mostly harmless to anyone. Now, though, it has come to our attention that Greg Laden has tried to implicate a real individual (that is most certainly not us) as being responsible for this blog. This is nothing short of disgusting, even though Laden admits that his evidence for this accusation is “weak.” Despite this, he’s wrongfully accused a person that has a reputation, a job, and no ties to this blog, with no regard for consequences or even if his accusation is right. He has brought real people into the fold in a completely cavalier fashion, and thus taken this to a level it should never go to, and a level we’d decided would be the breaking point when this witchhunt began.
Boy is that humility! This is the same post where you are about to admit to lying, bullying and sock puppetry; and you spend the entire first paragraph setting up a victim statement in the court of public opinion.
- “I was caught in a lie“ or…..
- “I abused the trust of my readers“ or……
- “I’m sorry I let things get this out of hand“?
Notice how the first option is a confession without remorse, option 2 is a confession with some remorse, and the third is an apology with some remorse. Each of these statements has one thing in common: humility. Option 1 does not even require that you feel culpable, just an admission of fact. Instead we get a tirade about how it’s Greg Laden’s fault that he is the subject of a witch hunt, which as we all know is hardly the case.
Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 1: Ø%
The second paragraph will go into the details of how you do not want to be involved in the “witch hunt” so that is why you are revealing some personal information and admitting to be one blogger instead of the group of bloggers you have implied to be with your use of plurals throughout your posts. Again, no fault of yours; you’re trying to selflessly protect the innocents. BONUS: You include a hat tip to Andrew Rosenberg in an effort to conflate an obvious overreaction to your own plight.
Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 2: Unbelievably still Ø%
Third paragraph. Finally, Will, we find you taking responsibility for your part in all this….sort of. We get a short introduction to your cast of circle-jerk sock puppets, namely Polly-O, Brandon and Patricia. I suspect there is more, but this is all you will admit to. You then go into a new sob story about how Ophilia will need to start a new “witch hunt” to find the identity of other people you have been accused of puppeteering:
That one, I’m afraid, is someone else…who I don’t know. You’ll have to start another “find out who this is and ruin their life so they’ll stop saying things you don’t agree with” campaign to figure that one out, which I’m sure you will.
Way to play the victim Will. Unbelievable.
Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 3: Maybe 10%
Which leaves us with one paragraph with which to make your amends. I guess if your going to FAIL, you FAIL BIG. Will comes as close to an apology as ever here:
To Greg and friends: I apologize for the dishonesty in commenting, and any perceived dishonesty in my posts I apologize for, but again that at least was not intentional. It was my interpretation and opinions of others’ posts, and I may have gotten some wrong. If I did, I’m sorry. I really think you mean how I interpret what you and others have to say.
The problem here is that you’re apologizing to the right people about the wrong thing. You see, Will, everyone who read your blog deserves an apology on that point of contention. What Greg, Oedipus and Ophilia et al. deserve an apology for is how you had your circle-jerk gang up on them, make false accusations toward them, edit comments by them, and ban or withhold their objections. That is why you are here right now. Sock puppets aside, you made a ton more mistakes. If you want to stand by them…then so be it. Just don’t expect too much sympathy for your plight.
And lastly, congratulations. If you were aiming to shut up and silence an individual trying to express his opinion by digging deep for personal information and not caring what collateral damage you leave along the way in the form of incorrect allegations, you’ve succeeded. You’ve flushed me out, and now this “traitor” will go back to keeping his voice quiet and unexpressed, hidden from sight, right where you want it. I hope you give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve not only silenced me, you’ve effectively silenced anyone else who wants to voice their opinion anonymously in the future, because now they know you’ll mount a campaign to try and find out who they are, where they live, and shut them up based on fear that you’ll disseminate this information and try to expose them, all because their opinions don’t match with what you’d like to hear. Job well done.
Fuck you, Will.
No one is calling you out because your opinions don’t match theirs. They call you out because you deceived them, attacked them, misrepresented them, and silenced their opposition. They silenced you because you used their comments when they suited you and your agenda, and edited or withheld them when they did not. That is a very shitty thing to do, and for that you should be sorry. Lots of people disagree with Greg, or Ophilia. I do from time to time. No one is trying to silence dissenting opinions. What you did was wrong: you didn’t play by the rules, and they were right to seek your disqualification.
Total Blame admitted to in Paragraph 4: O.K. maybe 10% more.
So I am left with the impression that you think you are about 20% responsible for this whole thing, and everyone else owes you an apology for ruining a great thing you had going.
You know what Will:
Fuck you hard.
That said, I will echo to some degree what your other commenters posted in your final post. The premise of your site was good. It is a voice that is welcome on the internet, save some of the ad hominim nonsense you got involved in. I made a comment over at Camels with Hammers on a post about you:
General sanity does not excuse casual fatuity.
The inverse is true as well. Just because you did some underhanded things does not make all your ideas wrong. Some of what you had to say was thought provoking and, yes, even helpful. Your good points, however, do not excuse you from being a bully, a liar, or an asshole. You do not have the right to make this whole issue about a “witch hunt”, about people silencing your “profound and controversial ideas”.
In what is perhaps the greatest irony of this whole clusterfuck you got yourself into Will is that Oedipus, that guy who did most of the legwork to out you for the fake you are, had a post that speaks to exactly the predicament you find yourself in now posted on his blog directly after his post about you, a week before all this “happened” to you.
You should read it.
It’s a post, you must agree, that is definitely Helping.