John Haught, Robert Rabel: Cowards

This post is going to be a touch of a stretch for ERV. I normally dont write about theology. Mostly, because I dont care. I think the cultural phenomena surrounding ‘theology’ or Harry Potter or Twilight is far more interesting than the ins-and-outs of the magical creatures at the center of the phenomena itself.

But I do enjoy learning new things about anything, so I was *very* much looking forward to seeing the video of Jerry Coynes exchange with a Muggle Twihard ‘Systematic theologian’, John Haught.

They ‘debated’ earlier this year, and video was taken under the understanding that it would be posted online for public consumption. I was looking forward to learning something, and looking forward to seeing Jerry speak again (its too rare). And, growing up in 1337 culture, the two prniciples I hold most dear are 1) freedom of expression, and 2) free dissemination of information and ideas. I LOVE IT when conferences are recorded and put online for *everyone* to enjoy. That is the way things *should* be. And that was the way things were supposed to be with Jerrys debate. No big deal.

Unfortunately, John Haught and his enabler, Robert Rabel, made an active, conscious decision to violate both of those principles, turning the situation into a Very Big Deal, and I cannot let it stand.

I mean, it was cowardly enough to refuse to let the video of the debate be posted in the first place. I debated a YEC a while back. Parts of it I find embarrassing because I made mistakes. But I can do better now. My opponent was a slimy turd. He was aggressive and combative with Average Joes and Janes in the Q&A– I almost walked off the stage when he was making fun of a questioner with a speech impediment.

I never, ever, ever want that debate taken down from YouTube.

And you know what? Neither did my slimy turd YEC opponent.

So, again, its bad enough John Haught now wants to stop the free dissemination of information and ideas. HIS information and ideas. Im assuming, because he made a fool of himself, and is too arrogant to say “You know what, I didnt prepare well, and it showed. I didnt take this debate as seriously as I should have. I have learned something. I will do better in the future.” (btw, remember its atheists that are the arrogant ones).

Of course, John Haughts desire to not let the video see the light of day would be pointless if the organizers of the debate were academically honest. The debate was recorded for the purpose of letting everyone/anyone watch it, if one participant throws a tantrum later, too bad, so sad, they knew what they signed up for.

John Haught has a partner-in-crime: Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center for the Humanities. Rabel has not only enabled Haughts childish behavior, but has unquestionably crossed over a very, very dark line by thinking he had the right to threaten Jerry Coyne with legal action, simply because Jerry (politely, and appropriately frustratedly) told his side of the story:

I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on. I did not of course ask readers to write any emails, nor did I provide any email addresses. But if you write to Rabel on your own initiative, please be polite! There is no point in name-calling in such emails; the issue is one of free inquiry, and if you expect to achieve a result (and you won’t anyway, I suspect), you have to be polite. Anyway, he’s threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!

I do hope Rabel calls the internet police. Here, I will even helpfully provide the appropriate forms he needs to fill out before they arrive.

John Haught is a coward.

Robert Rabel is a coward.

Pathetic cowards actually, thus fine voices for a pathetic god.

And a fine lesson John Haught and Robert Rabel have taught me, Jerry, everyone, about the kind of academic integrity, honesty, and respect one can expect from ‘debating’ theologians.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Fisher
    November 1, 2011

    +1

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    November 1, 2011

    Actually, they are not complete cowards. Some of their behavior is cowardly. ;)

  3. #3 0verlord
    November 1, 2011

    What’s the *point* of debating if it’s not ever going to be scrutinized by the public? What’s the point of being a communicator of any sort if you can’t handle the embarrassment when you fuck up?

    Jerry’s right that results are best achieved through politeness, but this is cowardice through and through.

  4. #4 Mu
    November 1, 2011

    Dr. Rabel is a UK employee, can’t you just send him a FOIA (or whatever the Kentucky equivalent is) request?

  5. #5 Brian
    November 1, 2011

    ‘Systematic theologian’

    Haught.

  6. #6 Prometheus
    November 1, 2011

    John Haught is just another dull Roman Catholic accommodationist flogging the dead horse of Gould’s mincing proposed compromise of non-overlapping magisteria.

    I guess Haught thinks he should garner street cred for his Dover testimony but the fact is he turned around and announced teaching kids empiricism was the equivalent of teaching I.D..

    Was he really shocked that “young people” didn’t jump up in ecstasy over decades old recycled political proposals Gould threw in the face of reason to protect his popular posterity?

    As for Robert Rabel, he is a dean aspirant who teaches 101 Gods for Clods at an over endowed state cow college. I understand 50% of his class consists of showing popular movies with no attendance requirement.

    I shouldn’t pick on him too much because he will be reviewing one of my friend’s books soon.

    That is all he does, he wrote one of his own on the Iliad 12 years ago that he probably still makes kids buy for his cattle call classes.

    I read it and found it silly.

    Haught, Terry Eagleton and Francis Collins should not be allowed near a lectern because they are too myopic to distinguish it from a pulpit.

    There is no place left for them in a professional academic setting. They remind me of the prophecy from “The Circus of Doctor Lao”

    “When you die you will be buried and forgotten, and that is all. The morticians will enclose you in a worm-proof casket, thus sealing even unto eternity the clay of your uselessness. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, that your living might have accomplished, you might just as well have never lived at all. I cannot see the purpose in such a life. I can see in it only vulgar, shocking waste.”
    Charles G. Finney

  7. #7 sasqwatch
    November 1, 2011

    A corpulent “doctor” named Haught
    With pretensions of scholarly thought
    Displayed his known trait
    Of suppressing debate
    And remains a litigious twat

  8. #8 ERV
    November 1, 2011

    HA!

  9. #9 Prometheus
    November 1, 2011

    Mu@#4

    “Dr. Rabel is a UK employee, can’t you just send him a FOIA (or whatever the Kentucky equivalent is) request?”

    Legal will gin up a constructive copyright or work product argument on the basis of the debate being held under proprietary circumstances. Stall tactic.

    Buuuuuut….

    You sure can contact the NEH and point out a unilateral decision to bury an NEH funded debate furthering interest in the humanities.

    It probably violates the conditions of the federally funded Gaines challenge grant.

    If you want a reaction out of a college you’ve got to kick ‘em in the money bag.

    What the hell.

    Doing it now.

  10. #10 mordacious1
    November 1, 2011

    The post at WEIT is worth reading if only because Nick Matzke shows up at comment 87 to complain about how the gnus are so mean to honorable men like Haught.

    Leave it to Matzke to show up when someone criticizes a theologian. What a mook.

  11. #11 justicar
    November 1, 2011

    cultural phenomena surrounding ‘theology’ or Harry Potter or Twilight is far more interesting than the ins-and-outs of the magical creatures at the center of the phenomena itself.

    Dobie does not like!

    stretch for ERV

    epigenetics joke?

    As for the rest of it: man bites dog. Film at, err, well, looks like the dog at that. Here’s a folksy story to replace video segment though.

  12. #12 TylerD
    November 1, 2011

    The fact that he’s going to such greats lengths to suppress the video pretty much guarantees that Coyne stetched his anus wider than a goatse. We should emphasize this as often as possible.

  13. #13 Anonymous
    November 2, 2011

    “Leave it to Matzke to show up when someone criticizes a theologian. What a mook.”

    Scold-y Josh Rosenau, as well.

    http://twitter.com/#!/JoshRosenau/status/131404919516299265

    Glad this dude never had to deal with Samuel Clemens.

  14. #14 stephen s
    November 2, 2011

    ” A stretch for Erv”? Not a bit, makes me wonder how much of your writing I miss lacking a scientific background. I admire Mr. Coyne for debating these closed mental loops masquerading as individuals. I too was looking forward to seeing the video. The actions of Haught and Rabel were deplorable. We clearly see how any behavior is acceptable, as long as its for their greater god. You couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of religion or “faith”. Thank you for calling them out.

  15. #15 sasqwatch
    November 2, 2011

    OMG… I’ve just realized that I’ve used a gendered epithet in a public forum. I’m mortified beyond belief, and deeply apologetic to the diligent among us who fight the good fight that keeps the discourse gender neutral and safe. I’ll try to do better in the future. Honest.

    Somebody hold me. I’m feeling kind-of fragile right now.

  16. #16 sasqwatch
    November 2, 2011

    Sorry again. I thought I was on Pharyngula. I’m adjusting the meds. Carry on.

  17. #17 SensuousCurmudgeon
    November 2, 2011

    Haught testified for the good guys in the Kitzmiller case. I’m unwilling to condemn him for this one debate episode.

  18. #18 Prometheus
    November 2, 2011

    SensuousCurmudgeon@#17

    “Haught testified for the good guys in the Kitzmiller case. I’m unwilling to condemn him for this one debate episode.”

    It is pretty apparent his only agenda was to stick it to the Southern Baptists.

    When asked during Kitzmiller if he had ever read Darwin’s “Origin” his response was “I have never read the whole thing, just as I’ve never read the whole Bible.”

    Lotta help there.

    WTF expert witness? Systematic theologian with 12 books on science and christian religion? Based on what? How he feels about shit and what he has been told by golf addicted middle aged male virgins who claim to have read the foundational documents of his “expertise”?

    He has had a PhD in the subject matter since 1970 you would think he would get around to the instruction manuals at some point.

    Yet another mincing pseudo-intellectual accommodationist/apologist slouch that folds under scrutiny.

  19. #19 sasqwatch
    November 2, 2011

    Want a hearty chuckle? Google “Robert Rabel” without quotes and look a the top entry. Or Google it with quotes and see the glowing rating slacker students give what passes for his classes. (general gist: “I like him. He’s funny. He shows lots of movies, and his class is an easy A.”)

  20. #20 Jerry Coyne
    November 2, 2011

    The video has now been posted, minus the Powerpoint slides and with the Q&A mostly deleted; the techs are working on a better version.

    For the nonce: http://vimeo.com/31505142

  21. #21 ERV
    November 2, 2011

    The video has now been posted, minus the Powerpoint slides and with the Q&A mostly deleted; the techs are working on a better version.

    For the nonce: http://vimeo.com/31505142

    *terrorist-fist-bump**

  22. #22 Justicar
    November 2, 2011

    I’m afraid that fist-bump was insufficient violent. Slacktivism! From you, Abbie?

    Didn’t see that one coming at all.

  23. #23 MOS
    November 3, 2011

    “Pathetic cowards actually, thus fine voices for a pathetic god.” Very well put, but that’s the nature of these sort of folk, I suspect.

  24. #24 RPS
    November 3, 2011

    “And a fine lesson John Haught and Robert Rabel have taught me, Jerry, everyone, about the kind of academic integrity, honesty, and respect one can expect from ‘debating’ theologians.”

    Our desire to make it “us against them” and “good guys versus bad guys” is understandable, but it seems clear to me that it’s a human problem more than a function of religion. Haught and Rabel are cowards who acted despicably in this instance. But before we pat ourselves on the back too strenuously and life Coyne up as a hero of sorts, we might recall that Coyne has a long history of repressing debate at *his* website. If one disagrees with the echo chamber there, chances are high that the post will never see the light of day and posting privileges will be denied without notice or explanation (it has happened to me). Just a couple of examples are described in the link below.

    http://helives.blogspot.com/2011/10/jerry-coyne-slug.html

    It’s equal parts ironic and disgusting in my view, given the kerfluffle over Haught. Coyne is as much a pathetic coward as Haught. He just hides it better.

  25. #25 Miranda Celeste Hale
    November 3, 2011

    RPS: Is “He Lives” your blog? If so, your rather creepy obsession with and vendetta against Jerry are noted. Good lord. :/

  26. #26 RPS
    November 3, 2011

    “RPS: Is ‘He Lives’ your blog?”

    No.

    “If so…”.

    You might take your complaints to the blog’s author. It appears that comments are permitted.

  27. #27 John Marley
    November 4, 2011

    RPS:

    Just a couple of examples are described in the link below.

    I think you got your link wrong. There are no examples there. Just a long, name-calling whinge.

    Also, your point is severely wrong. If Coyne really suppresses debate on his blog, okay. If Haught has a blog and suppresses debate there, that’s fine too. The issue under discussion is not even similar. Before the debat. Then, when he got his ass handed to him, reneged on an agreement.

  28. #28 John Marley
    November 4, 2011

    Note to self: the preview button is your friend. That should read:

    Before the debate, Haught agreed to have it recorded for public viewing. Then, when he got his ass handed to him, reneged on an agreement.

  29. #29 William Wallace
    November 4, 2011

    I almost walked off the stage when he was making fun of a questioner with a speech impediment.

    Really? At what point was that?

    I never, ever, ever want that debate taken down from YouTube.

    And you know what? Neither did my slimy turd YEC opponent.

    Of course he didn’t want it taken down. He won.

    Also, I wouldn’t call erv/evolutionist fanboys “average joes”. Especially in your part of the country.

    But like I have always said, you were no coward–you were braver than most evolutionists, who take the advice of their anthropologist leader, and refuse to debate skeptics.

  30. #30 Justicar
    November 4, 2011
  31. #31 RPS
    November 4, 2011

    I think you got your link wrong. There are no examples there.

    Yes there are. From the link:

    “Tom Gilson and I [Heddle] have experienced another aspect of Jerry Coyne’s slugness first hand. Both of us can no longer post comments on Jerry’s blog. Dembski, when he banned me from Uncommon Descent (for sarcastic anti-ID comments) at least had the cajones to say that he was banning me. PZ Myers, for all his faults, gives people repeated warnings and then places them in a dungeon. He posts, for posterity, the reason they were banned and, amazingly, a courtesy link to the banned person’s blog, if there is one. Not Jer. When the mood strikes he, slug-like, either places a filter or simply stops approving your comments. (He may then address your last comment in an attempt to convince his fanboys that you are so devastated by his repartee that you have slithered away, licking your wounds.)”

    Also, your point is severely wrong. If Coyne really suppresses debate on his blog, okay. If Haught has a blog and suppresses debate there, that’s fine too. The issue under discussion is not even similar.

    Coyne’s suppression of dissent is one thing — it’s his right, even if it is petty and duplicitous. What makes him particularly cowardly is that he does so on the sly and in such a way as to suggest that there is less disagreement than there really is and/or that those who disagree has slithered off defeated. Moreover, the existence of a Comments section — especially a highly active one — without clear rules against dissent suggests that discussion, dissent and debate are both allowed and encouraged.

    I am in no way defending Haught. But, as noted above, Coyne is just as much a coward. He’s just better at disguising it.

  32. #32 Onkel Bob
    November 4, 2011

    Tom Gilson and I [Heddle] have experienced another aspect of Jerry Coyne’s slugness first hand. Both of us can no longer post comments on Jerry’s blog.

    Not that I don’t believe the esteemed authors here but is not one of these instances hearsay? Dr. Heddle may indeed be blacklisted at WEIT, and he would know he cannot post, but for him to say he “knows” that is the case for the other, is not necessarily reliable.

    I am in no way defending Haught. But, as noted above, Coyne is just as much a coward. He’s just better at disguising it.

    Agreed that you are not defending Haught. However, I believe you are making a false equivalency. Haught agreed in principle to the video-taping; whereas there is no implicit or explicit agreement that your comments deserve space on any given web page, despite the presence or activity of a comments section.
    As to cowardice, I disagree. Perhaps it is more to keep the discussion on track and interesting. Professor Heddle rarely brings anything of interest to the discussion other than his peculiar superstition and inane blather. Banning him is rather like banning Kwok or McCarthy; there is no loss of viewpoint when ones excludes the lunatic fringe.

  33. #34 heddle
    November 4, 2011

    Onkel Bob,

    Dr. Heddle may indeed be blacklisted at WEIT, and he would know he cannot post, but for him to say he “knows” that is the case for the other, is not necessarily reliable.

    Tom Gilson (of Thinking Christian) and I are friends and neighbors. We have discussed, face-to-face, the fact that we cannot post on WEIT–with neither having received declaration of banning. Our posts just stopped appearing. I have no idea if Coyne sets up a filter or simply doesn’t approve them. Tom is a far better man than I–I’m sort of a rotten bastard. If you only want to believe one of us, you should believe him.

    For what it is worth I agree with Coyne that Haught behaved cowardly. For what it is worth I also more or less agree with commenter RPS, although I would say Coyne, in his practice of silent bannination, is more of an admixture of smarmy and cowardly rather than a pure state.

  34. #35 RPS
    November 4, 2011

    Banning him is rather like banning Kwok or McCarthy; there is no loss of viewpoint when ones excludes the lunatic fringe.

    For Coyne, the definition of “lunatic fringe” equates to “disagrees with me.”

  35. #36 Wolfhound
    November 4, 2011

    Butthurt godbot is butthurt.

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