Are You Sure You Want To Read This?

Few of us can resist gawking at a train wreck, can we?  We do hope you visited our warm campfire first, as it is necessarily a little chillier over here.  If you are prone to the vapors over a little straight talk, you might consider using the [Back] button now.

Still here? OK, your choice.  Perhaps a hot cup of coffee is in order.  It would take some time to peruse it all, and the campfire is waiting.

The founders at the Ranch deserve appreciation for starting our BOF, as most of us would have never met but for their efforts.  Open minds have been improved, lasting friendships formed, and many interesting subjects pondered and discussed.  We have all been enriched, and most would be loath to lose the opportunity for future connections with likeminded SKPs.  That is why we lit our Virtual Campfire and invited you over for a chat.

While it is true that this BOF was founded on the principles of the Activist Atheists' "Freethinker Movement," many SKPs join not understanding that they are signing up for "church vs. state" political activism.  As one remarked, "I would not shrink from a debate on the issue, but do not wish to run around telling 95% of the world that they are crazy to believe."  Indeed, we find that more non-believing Americans than most would have thought, are also Traditionalists with almost nothing in common with the ACLU agenda .

They are at least as put off by the dogma of the "politically correct" Collectivist Left, as they are that of the "piously correct" Christian Right.  As one put it, "I am a political conservative and an atheist (not, as some might think, a rare combination!) …  Ideally, we can come to this site as true "freethinkers" testing, examining, challenging all our beliefs, whether they are about religion, politics, or the pros and cons of drinking good beer over good wine."

Others, whatever their personal political persuasion, have been put off by our heretofore predominantly Activist Atheist focus.  As one so succinctly put it, "Reason, rational thinking, and logic are much better criteria than atheism for a freethinking premise.  I admit to thinking, before, OK, we're all probably atheists.  So what?  What next?"

Many strongly object to any censorship of alternative viewpoints.  As one put it, "I don't know how you feel about censorship.  I detest it.  As a grown woman, I can choose what I want to watch or read.  Change is just a click away."

Some, still listed on our roster (why?), quit months ago with a negative reaction to the focus on atheism.  One recently said, "[in 2006] I briefly joined Freethinkers but immediately realized it was not what I hoped it might be.  To begin with, Atheism in my view is as narrow minded as born-again Christianity."  Another remarked, "I'm not sure why I'm still getting mail from this group as I cancelled my participation a few months back after just a week or so as a member.  ...Guess I figured this place was going to be enlightening ..WRONG"

Our BOF, in the grand scheme of things, is an exceedingly small endeavor; and without some changes, is destined to stay that way.  At last report, it is claimed that we have over 100 members, yet that is counting spouses and significant others, many of whom are believers and uninterested in participating.  Only one couple regularly both participate in our discussions.

Of those 100, only a third have bothered to register for access to the AA website.  It is probably safe to say that anyone who has not bothered to do so by now, is uninterested and probably should not be considered a member.  Of the thirty-some members who have registered, only 2/3 self identify as atheists.  That works out to about 25 or so registered atheists, and a good many of them have never posted a word on the AA forum.

Of those who do, only a handful do so with any regularity.  Like it or not, until the recent purge, of that handful, the majority were libertarian or conservative, and uninterested in the AA agenda.  THAT, folks, is what the kerfuffle was all about.  Sure, there is a core group of very Leftist founders, most of whom never or rarely participate in the public discussions, whose sensibilities can't handle internet forum style contentious debate, and get their knickers in a twist over politically incorrect speech; but it was the direction the discussions were taking politically, away from the AA agenda, that really triggered the purge .

And it worked... just as predicted.  Participation on the AA forum has dropped precipitously.  The one member who dared to speak up afterwards, got a dire warning from the webmaster herself, which had the desired chilling effect on her own participation.  It included a suggestion that she go investigate some of Dave's posts to the old Yahoo Group List, before daring to question his banishment.

So, after the purge, a group of disaffected members came to the following reluctant conclusions:

The SKP Freethinkers' new Reasonable Rationals campfire is the outcome of those conclusions. 

While perhaps somewhat therapeutic for the way some of us have been ill-treated, it is still unpleasant to have to create this memorialized history as an insurance policy against petty retribution, and perhaps a deterrent to any future SKP being similarly jerked around.  Some of us have really struggled with the moral obligation to protect unsuspecting fellow SKPs, and had to be talked out of pulling the trigger by wiser and cooler heads, to please give it this one last try.

These data will always be available here in case the URL to this page ever needs to be sent to SKP HQ for their perusal, but we would love to remove the link to it from our front page.  Newer members need not be tempted to follow it, and it would be best if Google spider bots stopped crawling through it to capture copies for all time, then perhaps allowing an innocent Google search to reveal it inadvertently to the wrong party .

That link will be removed the moment Larry and Dave are reinstated, with full privileges on the AA website; and a prominent link to our RR website, specifying it as an alternative venue for SKP Freethinkers activities, is permanently placed there (as theirs is here), and a notice is posted to the general membership regarding the same.  There is absolutely no reason we cannot co-exist amicably within our BOF.

We don't expect that very many of the old guard will participate here; most don't even participate there; but new SKPs who might join, deserve to know that there is an alternative to AA before deciding that Freethinking is not for them.  The AA Welcome Letter they receive, cautions them that Freethinking does not mean "no boundaries" or "anything goes."  Well, within reason there are no fences around our campfire, and just about any independent thinking does go.  We will happily accept their contumacious castoffs.

Any reasonable and fair observer, apprised of all the facts, would have to conclude that we have bent over backwards to save this BOF from self-destructing with our forbearance, and repeated reasonable petitions for redress of our grievances, all of which have been arbitrarily and completely ignored.   Ask yourself who it is that really keeps placing it in perpetual jeopardy; and why.  You folks can continue to discourage, chase away, or outright banish unchurched SKPs that do not wish to sign up for your AA political agenda, or you can loosen up and allow us to help expand the BOF by providing an alternative campfire.  Where would SKP be today if the founders had decided to include only MHs or Fivers, but not both?  Think about it.

Now, for the evidence:

The chain of completely ignored e-mails, is memorialized for any who have not seen them at www.skpfreethinkers.thoughtsaloud.com/redress.htm .  Stubborn refusal to even discuss them, and the erasure of the thread in question from the AA website, has left the erroneous impression with some that there must be more to the story than Larry and Dave were telling, or that untruths were being told.  Neither is true.

For those who have implied that Dave was overstating his deep involvement in creating the AA website, consider the following:

This website (www.skpfreethinkers.thoughtsaloud.com) was created months ago as a test bed for the development of the SKP Freethinkers AA website.  The original prototype website is still here, and you may peruse it at www.skpfreethinkers.thoughtsaloud.com/prototype.htm .  It is as it was left, when a copy was transferred to the AA webmaster's personal hosting service, except that the password protection has been removed, and members names and e-mail addresses have been deleted from the roster to protect their privacy on this open site.  Beware that the "Home" links no longer work properly, since the Home page has been renamed "prototype.htm" so we could install our new front page to our website.

Some may find the discussions regarding general attitudes toward forum moderation in the prototype forum revealing at www.skpfreethinkers.thoughtsaloud.com/members/forum/ .  Not only do they illuminate the depth of the "control issues" of the AA webmaster, they help explain why Dave was deluded into thinking he would be allowed to use his elbows on the new forum, if attacked again politically by the usual suspects in the political debate section.

Dave is in possession of hundreds of e-mails exchanged in the furtherance of making this a viable BOF, many of which would be deeply embarrassing to the AA webmaster.  They easily back up his claim of having put more time and effort - literally hundreds of hours - into making it a success, than anyone besides the founder, and illuminate the unconscionable injustice his capricious banishment represents.  At this point, there is no need to memorialize them here, as they are safely archived and would be made available to SKP HQ, or other duly constituted board of inquiry, upon request.

One series of exchanges, however, is relevant to the AA / RR issue, and our BOF's inevitably growing negative reputation in the SKP community.  It began with an angry e-mail from a Christian SKP who was disgruntled by our negative advertising on the SKP website.  It passed through a ridiculous censorship episode that caused several members to stop participating out of embarrassment and anger.  Then it culminated in Dave's break with the moderator after his anger at Dave's offer of a less provocative explanation of what our BOF was about for the SKP advertising.  Parts of the various exchanges can be perused at www.skpfreethinkers.thoughtsaloud.com/hate_speech.htm  They should be enlightening.