It Came From The 80s – The Flamer’s Bible!

Anyone who’s been anywhere near the atheoskeptoblogosphere in the last two years might well have noticed an undercurrent (or over-current) of hate-speech, flaming, obsessive trolling, twit-stalking and general petulant shit-slinging – especially if the target is a feminist blogger. But it’s nothing new – online communication has been around for ages; as such, the anonymity inherent in it has always provided cover for keyboard warriors to dispatch rhetorical missiles and toxic word-sludge across the globe, the nation or just the building – all with no social consequences.

Without further ado, from some time in 1987, I present a selection of tips for being an Internet Tough Guy:

The twelve commandments of flaming

  •     Make things up about your opponent: It’s important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word “clearly.” “Clearly, Fred Flooney is a liar, and a dirtball to boot.”


This might be familiar. How about: “She’s a misandrist! She’s a Feminazi! She hates men! It was only an invitation to coffee at 4am! She’s frigid!”

  •     Cross-post your flames: Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From rec.arts.wobegon to alt.gourmand, they’re all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.


This one’s never been so important to the career troll: you can’t expect every one of your hate-chorus to just be reading your blog, so to increase your back-pats & pingbacks & likes you need to facebook, tweet, instafreakingram, blog, re-blog and link to everything in whatever dark, mouldy corner of the ‘net where there are no standards of behaviour when it comes to Approved Enemies.

  •     Conspiracies abound: If everyone’s against you, the reason can’t possibly be that you’re a fuckhead. There’s obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.


This is now known as the Galileo Gambit: They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
They make fun of me, therefore I am right. However, the counter to this comes from Robert Park: It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.

  •     Use foreign phrases: French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words “ad hominem” at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are “ad nauseum,” “vini, vidi, vici,” and “fetuccini alfredo.”


Accusations of ad hominem abound on the internet – usually as soon as someone gets insulted for acting like a douche. However, a true ad hominem is dimissive of an argument based on who’s making the argument, i.e. “You’re a douche therefore your argument is wrong.” Much of the time you hear an a.h. invoked, it is done so in response to a simple insult, e.g. “You’re a douche and your argument is wrong.” To avoid confusion, please be sure to dismiss someone’s argument on its own lack of merit and then call them a douche.

  •     Accuse your opponent of censorship. It is your right as an American citizen to post whatever the hell you want to the net (as guaranteed by the 37th Amendment, I think). Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to email is either a communist, a fascist, or both.


FREEZE PEACH! “Because the country I live in has granted me the right to say anything I want (of course there aren’t caveats – I can walk onto the White House lawn and threaten to stab Barry O because FREEZE PEACH is absolute!), it therefore follows that I get to follow you around the internet and regurgi-hate on every single one of your online properties. The fact that you own your twitter account, facebook, youtube account or blog doesn’t give you the right to decided who gets to talk to you! StasiNazi #bullies baawww!”

Um, yeah it does. A website/media account, as far as you’re concerned, is someone’s property as much as their doorstep or the counter of their store – if you don’t like when they shut the door in your face, try modifying (or at least paying attention to) what comes out of your face.

Go and read the rest – you’ve probably seen all of them in the last week.


Support PZ Myers – the Catholics have gone crackers

Yeah, ok , sorry for the pun. Sue me.

Anyway, it seems Bill Donohue, head of the US Catholic League and all-round strident busybody, is orchestrating a smear campaign against PZ Myers for his post about a student who took a communion wafer from a church (my response here). Apparently it’s the sin of sins to steal a Eucharist (which is believed to “transubstantiate” into the actual, literal flesh of Jesus when consumed. Bugger me, that’s a ghoulish concept- as if it’s not creepy enough worshipping a zombie, you have to eat him too? Frackin’ weird-arse cult, that one) and some Catholics (just for something different) got up on their soapboxes and started calling for blood. When PZ smacked them down they started calling for his blood too, as well as his job and one writer actually threated him with death (hope the FBI checks up on that one). Well, now he’s asking for letters of support to be sent to the president of his university. I was happy to oblige and here’s what I sent:

Dear Mr Bruininks

This email is in support of PZ Myers, whose recent Pharyngula post ridiculing some strident over-reactions to a student leaving a church with a communion wafer has attracted a large amount of hate-mail. Some call for his dismissal while others, more troublingly, are calling for his head. It also appears the Catholic League’s Bill
Donohue has started some sort of witch-hunt against Prof Myers, but as I’m sure you’re familiar with the situation I won’t go into detail.

I don’t think for a second that PZ is (or should be) in danger of being dismissed, censured or disciplined in any way, but because Mr Donohue seems intent on seeing him crucified for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech and is fomenting some sort of PR campaign against him, I felt it was only right that I formally voiced my support for PZ on this occasion. The US seems to be a hotbed for Christian extremism, more so now than ever before, and even though I’m an Australian citizen I won’t stand by and watch someone I respect be dragged through the mud by hysterical fanatics without expressing solidarity with him. It may only be a symbolic gesture but I hope it adds to some kind of critical mass of support to
counter Donohue’s smear campaign.

Kind Regards

So, head on over to Pharyngula and express your solidarity through the magic of binary code! I may not be a Yank but this shit really gets to me and always has, so why not give moral support to a guy whose blog gives me great entertainment, pretty much daily?