Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Surprise: Republican spin doctor comes across like a Republican spin doctor

Welp, Edwina Rogers really screwed the pooch with that Greta Christina interview, didn't she? (Note: I am being lazy with links for this post because a) I'm in a hurry, and b) I assume any of my readers who actually give a shit about the internal politics of atheism already know a dozen better places to read about the internal politics of atheism, so I'm just going to briefly and lazily give my two cents) My read of the atheist blogosphere's initial reaction to her appointment (and her interview with Hemant) was basically, "Um, woah... did the SCA just appoint a Republican spin doctor to be their executive director? Well, I'm not sure how that's going to work out, but let's wait and see..." So there was an opportunity there, I think initially. But the GC interview was disastrous, and I don't see any hope anymore of the SCA selling this to the secular community at large.

There are all sorts of problems with Rogers' appointment, but her biggest mistake could be summed up as simply as this: The sorts of techniques that work with Fox News viewers are not the same sort of techniques that work in the secular community. That's it. We don't even need to make the case that what the secular community finds convincing is superior; I happen to think that is the case, but it doesn't even really matter. All that matters for purposes of this post is that what those audiences want to hear is different, and Rogers just scored a massive FAIL in her understanding of that.

When addressing Fox News viewers, the overriding priority is to not give an inch. That's pretty good advice for arguing in front of any group, I'm afraid (nuance loses arguments, typically), but it's not always priority #1. And it turns out that when arguing in front of secularists, priority #1 is to not make statements that are disproven by 5 minutes of Googling. This is not to say you can't ever get away with lying to skeptics, but your lies can't be blatantly obvious to anyone with an internet connection. Rogers failed badly in this department, and given that there was already a lot of (IMO well-justified) bias against her due to her ties with the Bush administration, I just don't see any possibility of coming back from this.

Disclaimer: I must confess I don't even really have a horse in this race, since the extent of my involvement with the SCA has been that I "liked" the Secular Student Alliance page on Facebook. I am not a donor nor a member. So what I think doesn't really matter, beyond the fact that I think I happen to be super-smrt and stuff.

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