Rob Smith: ‘Slutwalk’ enslaves women

Rob Smith has been an irregular, if not popular addition to the small stable here at Thinkers’ Podium. He started out writing as a young man studying liberal theology in the Adelaide Hills, rescuing neglected greyhounds and hugging trees. Now apparently, he’s a conservative, sub-creationist pundit. (Surely this is satirical? Rob?)

Sadly, you’ll never get the full explanation of his alleged political transition here at the podium, because alas, this is Rob’s final contribution to the site. I wish him well in his future projects.

In his final article, ‘Slutwalk enslaves women’, Rob explains to us why he thinks the upcoming ‘slutwalk’ marches are a bad thing.

‘Slutwalk’ enslaves women


Rob Smith

Continue reading “Rob Smith: ‘Slutwalk’ enslaves women”

Rob Smith: New Atheists ruin Home Economics curriculum

I’m going to head back to more subterranean parts of the blogosphere for the time being, down with the gnomes who tinker with the cogs and daemons that keep things working on the surface. This blog however, will continue in my absence for at least one post.

Rob Smith has returned!

I haven’t seen Rob for a few months, and he hasn’t submitted a post to Thinkers’ Podium since 2009, apparently due to personal/spiritual reasons (which he tells me he’ll blog about in future).

If I wasn’t so preoccupied I’d be writing something about Michael Ruse’s latest, wisest effulgence yet. (Why does effulgence, being such a nice word, conjure imagery of extruded effluent?)

Rob has agreed to write something on the topic, in a manner he promises, will be different to what I may expect. A curious promise.

Enough of my blather, here he is.

New Atheists ruin Home Economics  curriculum


Rob Smith

Continue reading “Rob Smith: New Atheists ruin Home Economics curriculum”

DAoS: How to be a nice, helpful gadfly in eight steps

You’re a skeptic, or a counter-cultural revolutionary, or the member of a minority, a critic, a contrarian or whatnot. Whatever it is that you are, your deepest convictions as a result of this identity are such that you’re at odds with the rest of the world in your outlook.

Your imperatives may be frustrated by tyranny of the majority at every step. Most people don’t understand you, because they don’t have to walk a step in your shoes and they don’t want to!

Stripped of your social inclusion, and your political inclusion, all you have left is your voice and thankfully somehow you’ve managed to be noticed. Good for you!

What are you going to say and do? How are you going to spend this rare and precious chance to voice your dissidence, your difference?

Well, you’d better be nice about it. You get more ants with honey and all that. Besides, you’re nice. Why else would you have tolerated the empowered majority this long without climbing the nearest clock tower with high-powered rifle in hand, if you weren’t nice?

Besides, you’ve got nice white teeth. Shiny!

Here’s what you have to come to terms with in order to get your voice across.

1. Don’t get too attached to your dignity, this is hard work.

Now, now, now. Calm down. Most people in this world never get the chance to be heard, and frankly, does it do reality television stars any harm to swallow their pride just to be heard? No. No it doesn’t, and they get listened to!

You may be the greatest mind in your field, even if this hasn’t been realised yet. You don’t want to look like Gene Ray now do you?

Swallow that dignity. Swallow it down and shit it out so you can’t regurgitate it back up later! You’ll never need it and it only gets in the way.

Done? Good.

2. Don’t sacrifice your self-image.

What am I talking about? I just told you that dignity was worthless!

Rookie error! Dignity is not self-image! The latter is how you see yourself, the former is how you present yourself to the world.

I’d never ask you to look upon yourself as being garbage!

Now… Clearly you’re better than the majority, otherwise you’d think like they did. But the majority, if self-unaware about it thanks to the privilege of their majority status, look down upon people they see as being like you.

Look around at the people you’re surrounded by. Misfits!

If they don’t have the voice that you have now, they are to be pitied in a loving, parental manner. If they have more voice (and experience and expertise and book sales and so on), they just don’t understand. That’s your niche. You’re one of those amongst your type, maybe truly the only one, who understands.

What’s more, if you care to notice, all of the dismissals the majority direct at most of your kind, well none of them apply to you. And if you squint just right, you’ll also find that they apply to the misfits.

Good grief! You’re probably better than the majority, and you’re obviously better than the rest of your own kind.

3. Be helpful.

Look, getting the mainstream to come around to your way of thinking is hard. Damn hard. As much as you may be better than them, you’re not so good that you’ll be seen as The Way with your say so.

You need to ratchet your way up to that goal and you have to deal with the immediate concerns first of all.

Sooth their fears about you. Show that you aren’t what they think you are. Bring this into stark contrast.

Nothing provides as much contrast as standing next to someone who isn’t like you – one of your fellow gadflies that just didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. Either those that just don’t understand, or who are just so lumpen and pathetic that they need you to look after them. Misfits who need you to tell them how to engage with the majority.

Stand next to them, and pronounce your difference! I may be an X, but I’m not that kind of X.

You will be surprised just how well the majority can see the truth of this, and just how much opportunity and acceptance they’ll want to foist upon you. They may even want to… cooperate!

It is essential that you take every opportunity to differentiate yourself by voicing the majority’s objections to the misfits. Objections to crime, to too much polyester, to ignorance, to aggression, to anger, too selfishness and so on and so forth, these objections must issue from your lips with regularity!

Almost as if by magic, your voice will be elevated up above your peers and you may very well enjoy increased political and social inclusion as well (but don’t hold out on the latter, the majority can’t have their weekends monopolised).

If you manage to pull this off, you’re half way to achieving your goals!

4. Take the high road.

Don’t call people bigots! Don’t call them homophobes, atheophobes, xenophobes or racists! Don’t call them fundies, rednecks, white trash or sheep! Whatever you do, don’t call them a gobshite!

But most importantly when you’re taking the high road, don’t forget to point out that you’re taking the high road! The world needs holiday snaps of your trip to the pinnacle of respectful discourse.

You think that’s a bit too disingenuous? Remember rule 1! Dignity is overrated!

You deserve more, sure, but you’re lucky to be where you are as it is and you can’t afford a luxury like dignity. The moment you get airs and graces the majority will drop you back in with the misfits like they’d mistakenly picked up a turd.

Mind you, you can’t let out that you’re probably better than everyone else. Remember Gene Ray? What you can do is declare that you’re better than the misfits. This won’t stop you getting over with the majority.

At every point, where the majority would have possible cause to see you as different from the plebs, highlight it!

5. Patience is a virtue.

Be patient. Make sure people can see you being patient.

Right. Now that they aren’t looking and it’s just you and me – you need to patiently wait for that chance to spring your arguments upon the majority. You can do the big reveal before it’s time. The world isn’t ready otherwise there’d be more people like you.

Look at gay people. How many millenia did they wait for equal personhood? Now that’s patience!

If you notice the recent increases is gay acceptance, you can see that this patience has worn off. Win!

Being patient and making sure you’re seen as patient, serves the dual purpose of earning a place for your idea, as well as protecting you from being associated with others like you – these others being impatient by nature.

6. Smile.

Use those white teeth of yours. If you don’t have white teeth, get them!

Take a photo. Make sure the photo is taken when you’re inordinately happy; too happy to be discussing anything grave or so serious that people’s lives depend on the outcome.

But don’t tilt your head back in laughter. You want to ever so slightly, look down your nose – more dignity than condescension mind you. And no, this doesn’t break rule 1 – this is a mild parody of dignity, so subtle as to not be immediately discernible, and at all times ambiguous.

You photo should say “friendly with you, you and you, but maybe not you”.

Keep this photo with you. Rehearse this face.

Use this picture as you’re Twitter avatar. Use it as your Facebook profile photo. Put it on all your articles.

Juxtaposed against the mood of your writing, your face will express anything between love and a shit-eating smile, depending on the psychology of the reader. Naturally the poor misfits will gravitate to uncharitable interpretations, which when expressed (and these views will be expressed – sigh) will give you the opportunity to show the empowered majority just how different you are.

7. Be subtle, not crude and obvious.

You know how I’ve told you to make yourself stand out from your peers? Wherever possible, be subtle about this.

Nobody likes a braggart, and nobody likes someone who puts other people down to make themselves look good – even when it’s for a good cause like yours.

The easiest way of getting people to accept that you are different, without it being obvious that you’re playing guiding them, is to presuppose matters of difference in the way you behave or in the arguments that you make. That your interlocutor may be an ignorant fool, shouldn’t motivate you to call them an ignorant fool; simply lecture them on the topic of their ignorance. Even if the topic is for them a first year course from their alma mater, in a degree you don’t actually have; it doesn’t matter, they don’t understand.

Crude and obvious, while apparently clear, is simply crude and obvious. You’ve heard that majorities mistake clarity for shrillness, well sometimes members of minorities mistakenly feel a shrill voice is the only way to speak clearly. You are still a member of a minority. You don’t want to be shrill do you? Good.

8. Internalize! Internalize! Internalize!

If you’ve managed to obey rules 1 -7, you’ve probably managed to cosy up with the majority pretty well. All you have to do now is wait patiently and eventually you’ll be heard.

But you could still lose the chance!

Self-doubt is the killer here. You’re in a holding pattern maintaining 1-7, and if you falter you’ll be left having to start again or worse still, you could be entirely discredited!

The trick is to turn these rules into more than a checklist; you have to turn them into a repertoire of reflexes!

Say one of the misfits from your minority take a shot at you. They call you an Uncle Tom. They call you a sycophant, a toadie, an accommodationist or whatever hateful invective they can come up with.

Rule 2: Don’t sacrifice your self-image! Defend yourself!

Rule 3: Be helpful! You need to raise this kind of behaviour as a typical problem that stops your minority from being included by the majority.

Rule 4: Take the high road! Don’t use invective yourself, and make sure you highlight that you’ve made this decision.

Rule 7: Be subtle, not crude and obvious. Don’t just call them an ignorant philistine, or yourself a martyr.

“I’m not sure that this kind of discourse is helpful. I’ve found it much better to be gentle with people, and the majority does recognise this. I think you’d get your message across easier if you tried the same approach.”

Irrespective of the accusation, regardless of the specific facts of the matter or indeed the goal you’re trying to achieve, in the heated environments that the misfits create, this kind of response is appropriate.

This process should be fluid; no thinking out “rule 2, rule 3…”

Make it effortless. Don’t let it be the source of cognitive dissonance, but let rule 8 be the means by which you rid yourself of such confusion.

A final few words

If you’ve managed to follow these rules, you’ve probably suffered a lot of slings and arrows. It’ll be worth it.

You may not be the one who makes the breakthrough for your people, but you’ll be helping pave the way by showing a shining example. You’ll be remembered like other “accommodationists” (pfft!) after the dust finally settles and history is your judge.

Perhaps though, you will be the one to make the breakthrough. Then your people will find the promised land of equality and inclusion, and they’ll remember you as the one who led them there. Wouldn’t that be nice!

~ Bruce

Photo source: Martyrs

Fanning the flames of intolerance…

Back in March of this year, the ABC’s Compass hosted a documentary titled The Atheists. While not agreeing with all the atheists represented (who would? – “herding cats” and all that), I think it was a pretty reasonable job. Given the interviewees.

The point of this post comes from one of the comments made in the documentary by Phillip Adams. In commenting on Dawkins and Hitchens, he claimed that while he didn’t disagree with any of their points, it was their tone that he disagreed with –  a tone that “fanned the flames of intolerance” (I paraphrase).

Well, who could disagree with that? (Shut-up and sit down in the back there. Yes I mean you.)

Much has been made of Dawkins’ “strident” tone, and often in public speaking in response to these claims Dawkins presents  a passage of the best candidate for strident prose from The God Delusion. This best candidate is the opening of the chapter ‘The God Hypothesis’.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

(The God Delusion, ‘The God Hypothesis’, Richard Dawkins, 2006)

The usual retort that Dawkins takes on tour goes that the passage was intended in jest, and that Dawkins thinks it’s actually quite funny. (If you laugh, I have a yard ruler with your backside’s name on it.)

Further to this, Dawkins has claimed that if it is strident, it’s only because of the source material he’s referring to (i.e. The Old Testament). Bah. Pish! Nothing of the sort. He’s just not reading the book right. It’s metaphor.

At any rate, like or hate his work, if there is any one candidate for Dawkins’ most strident, this is quite possibly it.

Now, here in front of me next to The God Delusion I have another candidate for “strident atheist” text. More Unspeakable Adams, by Phillip Adams (1981).

Much like Dawkins above quote, it was written and was intended to be read in good humour. Even if on the back cover, it jests about religious indignation.

“LAST DESPERATE OFFER! A limited edition of the book, soaked in kerosene, is available for outraged religious organisations. Bulk orders only.”

(More Unspeakable Adams, Phillip Adams, 1981)

Because we all know how religious organisations can become incensed at the slightest, fairest criticism. Indignation with wailing and gnashing of teeth and all that. Hardly a strident observation.

Let’s see, as with Dawkins, if we can’t quote mine a most-strident-passage from More Unspeakable Adams. 😉

“Lassie’s saintliness recalls the arguments I’d have with our religious instruction teacher, who regarded my insistence on her having a soul as blasphemy. But I knew she did, that she must, and that if there were a heaven and heavenly justice, she’d have to share in immortality… ‘God is dog backwards,’ offered Graeme Wrigley helpfully, only to earn instant excommunication from the class.”

Aghast! The horror! Aiieee! Strident!

Okay. Most of the book only has material that makes tangential reference to religion, as offensive as some of the content may be to religious prudes. Quote mining a lot of it to make it sound strident would require quite a bit of bad faith. I wouldn’t want you to mistake me for a creationist.

But forget strident anyway. What about fanning those flames of…. Oh wait. What’s this? ‘When God was Irish and Dr Mannix his deputy.’

That’s got to have potential.

“One of the great pleasures of a newspaper column is the mail it provokes. The unsigned obscenities, the death threats…”

Even without the Internet, it seems Adams can whip up the hatred as well as that dastardly PZ Myers!

“Fascinated by this revelation, I wrote back (‘Dear Mr Christ, I was most interested …’) seeking further details. This led to a flood of over 100 letters, each more deranged in its misogyny… Unfortunately Mr Christ also detailed his plans to murder some Sydney matrons, so I was forced to get in touch with a psychiatric service sponsored by the Presbyterian Church.”

Shrill! Intolerant! Flashing lights! Babies in peril!1!!

In the same league as Dawkins’-Most-Strident-Passage, don’t you think? But maybe you aren’t convinced. Yet.

Reading further, Adams provides “a glossary of terms used in convent schools in the 1950s’.”

Body, The: Did not exist except for Breasts (q.v.). A protestant delusion.
Breasts: Sister could not mention them without going red. It was a mortal sin if they showed.”

Intolerant! Flames! Air-raid siren! Gngggggg!!!

God: The senior male Catholic. Of Irish extraction. Definitely not Italian. Ranked above Archbishop Mannix.”

You can’t imply they’re racist! Next you’ll be calling them paedophile-lovers! Intolera-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-RAGE!

Hell: For Jews and other pagans, including most Protestants. Also for Catholic girls who did not believe what the priests told them.”

What would Catholic girl, Madeleine Bunting think? BIGOTRY!

Proddy dogs: State school children of both sexes. God did not love them enough to make them Catholics.”

Well, that’s all I need to see! Case closed! He may talk all tolerant, but never forget; Phillip Adams is a card-carrying, religiously bigoted member of the New Atheist Internationale! (The book has “communism” written in it!)

Disagree with “fanning the flames of intolerance”, indeed!

~ Bruce

Rob Smith: A Hymn For All Your Neglected Greyhounds

I’m currently plodding around the back-end of my Internet communications, consolidating accounts, redirecting subscriptions and so on in preparation for a better blogging experience. All the while, light shows are popping up in people’s yards around my neighbourhood and I’m too busy to blog about it at the moment. So in the Christmas spirit, Rob Smith makes his fourth guest appearance here at Thinkers’ Podium.

Rob here again folks. Look, I know I run a charity that sings hymns for neglected greyhounds, but this hymn is for the readers. Let’s not take the piss too far, eh?

It’s not like I sing to the greyhounds. I sing for them!

A Hymn For All Your Neglected Greyhoundsrob_smith


Rob Smith
Continue reading “Rob Smith: A Hymn For All Your Neglected Greyhounds”

Rob Smith returns: The Top 10 Ways To Tell You’ve Watched Too Much Glenn Beck

To be honest, I’ve been catching up with too much stuff that I’ve neglected elsewhere to be bothered tending to this blog right away. Thankfully I’ve got mates. Rob Smith gives me a break in his third guest appearance at Thinkers’ Podium.

Hi again everyone. I’m Rob, if you don’t know or remember me. The theology student from STFU with a charity for neglected greyhounds.

I’ll forgive you for forgetting me because it’s been so long since my last post, not because Jesus whispers in my ear that I should. (Seriously, where do you atheists get this stuff?)

The Top 10 Ways To Tell You’ve Watched Too Much Glenn Beckrob_smith


Rob Smith Continue reading “Rob Smith returns: The Top 10 Ways To Tell You’ve Watched Too Much Glenn Beck”

Rob Smith on ‘Worship at the temple of Onan’

Young men and women, have you ever felt guilty for your need to pleasure yourself? Have you ever felt guilty because of need arising before marriage? It could just be that you’ve been misled as to what The Bible alludes to. Rob Smith spills the beans in his second guest appearance at Thinkers’ Podium.

Hi everyone. I’m Rob, as you probably guessed from the introduction. Between work and running my unregistered charity, Hymns for Neglected Greyhounds, I pitch in as a youth group elder at the Uniting Way Church of The Blessed Tree. I’m also a part-time external student studying theology at the Sydney Theology of Faith University (STFU).

Obviously I’m not a theologian yet, but I do get quite a lot of young adults coming to me and asking if it’s okay to masturbate, or engage in pre-marital sex. So as Bruce says, I’ll spill the beans. (And to keep Bruce and Tipper happy, I’ll put all the smut over the fold.)

Worship at the temple of Onanrob_smith


Rob Smith

Continue reading “Rob Smith on ‘Worship at the temple of Onan’”