So, let's take the poll
Richard Dawkins isn’t a man used to having his face likened to a “slack-jawed, turd-in-the-mouth mug”. Nor to being compared to “a suppurating rat’s rectum”. You can see why he might take offence.
Last week the celebrated evolutionary biologist abruptly closed the discussion forum on his website after somebody posted about a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down his throat. Another wanted to “trip [him] up and kick [him] in the guts”.
Dawkins blogged: “Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale from anonymous commenters on a website.” He went on to describe his disbelief at the blogosphere’s vitriol and tendency to overreact to trivia and concluded that “there is something rotten in the internet culture”.
Bitching, infighting and back-biting have always been part of academia, much as they are a given in politics or the school playground. But now it is no longer confined to the footnotes of journals or senior common rooms. It is open, nasty and, as Dawkins can testify, getting nastier by the day.
and look at what happened
Believe it or not, it all started with a decision by the Richard Dawkins Foundation to change the nature of the forum
Which brought in some interesting (cover the bunnies' ears)
A Message from Richard Dawkins about the website updatescontinuing
Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”
What do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?
None of the above. What you have to do is write a letter like this:
Dear forum members,
We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. RichardDawkins.net will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we've become one of the world's leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news and original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow.
You will notice that the forum has in fact been closed to comments (not taken down) sooner than the 30 days alluded to in the letter. This is purely and simply because of the over-the-top hostility of the comments that were immediately sent in. Note that there is no suggestion of abolishing the principle of a forum in which commenters can start their own threads.Even when they actually have a point the Turners and Leakes cannot resist twisting and misleading. It must be genetic, but the question is, has the Murdoch press perfected a test to spot these folk.
UPDATE: Well folks, it gets even weirder, according to a letter posted at the Times
Eli will let Boris have the last word
Ha-- Leake sent a girl to fight his fights. Well, a girl and, whatever Pielke Jr. is.