I saw this conversation come up in my Notifications on Twitter today:
Francis Begbie @BegbieBegbie
I think there’s something to @voxday ‘s theory on atheism and social skills: Look at Myers response in the comments.
Preston S. Brooks @Rebel_Bill
That’s beyond a lack of social skills, that’s almost into the realm of autism.
I had no idea what they were talking about, so I went over to Pharyngula and saw that PZ, fresh from correctly criticizing Richard Dawkins for failing to understand that you can’t complain about people reacting emotionally when you intentionally push their emotional buttons with rhetoric intended to do just that, had somehow decided that the coverage of Robin Williams’s suicide was a wonderful opportunity to strike a morally superior prose and preen about his supposed a) lack of interest in celebrities and b) deep concern for people of African descent. The response referenced above:
Celebrity culture. Fuck it. These people do not have an emotional connection to Robin Williams, the man; it’s fine to like the actor/comedian and enjoy his work, but look at this thread, and my twitter feed: people are freaking out that someone pointed out that the obsession with celebrity is getting in the way of caring about things that matter. I’m mainly feeling that I should have been more rude, because asking me to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is completely missing the point.
But it’s not PZ’s social autism that amuses me. I’ve known his AQ score indicates basic lack of empathy since 2008; my observations concerning the connection between atheism and social autism in TIA even prompted at least two scientific studies. What amuses me is PZ’s transparent hypocrisy.
I’m sorry to report that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide, an event of great import and grief to his family. But his sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people. I mean, really: young 18 year old black man gunned down for walking in the street vs. 63 year old white comedian killing himself?
That is from the first of two posts about Robin Williams at Pharyngula. The number of posts about Michael Brown’s death on Pharyngula and the subsequent black unrest in Ferguson, MO in the five days since his death? ZERO. PZ is not only empathetically obtuse, he is observably guilty of the very act he was attempting to portray himself as being above.
Of course, PZ is smart enough to know that the reason that the media doesn’t cover the deaths of young black men is because doing so would shatter their attempts to sell the myth of racial equality. If the media did what he feigns to want, he would accuse them of racism, because if every death of a young black man was covered in the same intense detail as Robin Williams’s death, there would be more nationwide demand for interning all male African-Americans between the ages of 15 and 30 than there ever was for interning Japanese-Americans.