Thunderfoot vs FreeThought Blogs

Thunderfoot is an atheist and YouTube personality who first became known for a series of videos titled “Why Do People Laugh at Creationists?”.  He has also made a lot of other videos on various science and political topics.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Thunderf00t

In 2008, his battle with a Creationist and Christian liar and bigot known as Venomfangx resulted in the latter being defeated so badly that he was forced to issue an apology to avoid a lawsuit:

Although Thunderfoot had his critics (don’t we all?) he was highly regarded enough that he was asked to join a community of bloggers known as Freethought Blogs (FTB):

http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/

But that was in June this year. Within a week after he joined, his attacks on feminism and on efforts to prevent sexual harassment of women at freethought conferences were so offensive to most of the other bloggers that he was kicked off the community. In response, he did two things. He made a video putting all the blame for his expulsion on P Z Myers:

Also, Thunderfoot was able to use a weakness in the web community’s security system to spy on the private e-mails on the listserv of the other remaining bloggers in the community and did so for about a month. Eventually, he shared some of those e-mails with others and even openly confessed to the deed. The news caused the other bloggers of FTB to react like a disturbed hornets’ nest.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/08/10/thunderfoots-unethical-obsession/

This appalling violation of privacy is beneath contempt. There is no possible rationalization for it, no way to make it justified or ethical. No matter how scorned Thunderfoot may be, or how legitimate anyone thinks his anger at FTB might be, what he did here is extraordinarily abusive and cannot be tolerated.

Ironically, Thunderfoot himself was quite upset last year at an invasion of his own privacy after someone discovered and made public his real name. He even made a Youtube video about it, blasting the person who did it for “doc dropping” and saying:

All you’ve done is shown that Islam, your religion, makes you act like a complete douche. But if I were you, I would hope that nothing happens to me.

He also makes a big deal out of the following quote from me, which he is leaking from that list. After I found out he had found a way to get back on our list and had leaked emails to others, I wrote this to the group:

“I want to do whatever it takes to make sure that he is essentially drummed out of this movement, never invited to speak anywhere again and is forever a pariah.”

Hell, that was the mild stuff he was quoting. I said worse than that. And I meant every word of it. I think what he has done here should result in him losing every little shred of credibility he ever had. I think it should make every single person in this movement distrust him, now and forever. I think it should make him a pariah and destroy any place he could possibly have in the atheist movement. I think it reveals, as starkly as possible, just how deranged and unethical the man is. And I think you should think so too.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/thunderf00ts-unethical-breach-of-our-privacy/

FtB has a private email listserv where we discuss boring technical problems (“My YouTube video isn’t embedding properly!”), ask for feedback or discuss certain topics, promote posts or causes we care about, and talk about cats (or how much they suck, depending on what side you’re on). But we also frequently discuss things that are very private in nature, like what’s going on in our personal life, where we live and work, our medical conditions, gender transitioning, rape, abuse, and (for pseudonymous bloggers) our real identities. We do this in agreement that nothing will leave the list, and there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of every email:

“All emails sent to this list are confidential and private. Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited.”

Well, Thunderf00t has violated that confidentiality.

P Z Myers himself also weighed in:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/08/10/summary-of-thunderf00tphil-masons-disgrace/

On Myers’ blog entry is a list of links to many of the other blog entries about this issue.

FTB has a privacy policy explicitly spelled out on a page:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/privacy-policy/

The privacy of our visitors to freethoughtblogs.com is important to us.

At freethoughtblogs.com, we recognize that privacy of your personal information is important. Here is information on what types of personal information we receive and collect when you use and visit freethoughtblogs.com, and how we safeguard your information. We never sell your personal information to third parties…..Freethoughtblogs.com will never sell or transfer any personal information, including your email address, that you may have to leave on our side in order to comment.

What’s good for commenters should be also good for the bloggers themselves.

“All emails sent to this list are confidential and private. Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited.”

If FTB had such a rule, and Thunderfoot broke it, then he should be facing a lawsuit soon. Thunderfoot may be a skeptic, but he is NOT honorable, being willing to backstab his own colleagues for his own convenience.  I will pay absolutely no attention to him from now on.

One thought on “Thunderfoot vs FreeThought Blogs

  1. Pingback: Picking the right fights to fight and knowing which ones don’t matter

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