PZ was way off base. Irrationally so. Here is the piece by CFI New York's Michael De Dora. De Dora discusses a case in which a parent is fighting to get a science textbook changed because it features the statement "the biblical myth that the universe was created by the Judeo-Christian God in 7 days." De Dora argues that schools should remain impartial and not 'spin' religion one way or the other. I happen to agree, but even if I didn't, I wouldn't write about De Dora under the heading "Witless Wanker Peddles Pablum for CFI". PZ Myers did.
It's not that no one should criticize others on the "same team". I've often railed against atheists or even large organizations like American Atheists. I felt no hesitation to criticize PZ here and now. It's not just about tone either, even though PZ's tone is inappropriately abrasive and reckless. He calls De Dora "wishy-washy and fuzzy thinking", and the author of articles "notable only for their fuzziness and willingness to accommodate any nonsense from religious BS artists". Whether you agree or not with De Dora, his articles are in fact reasoned and thoughtful. They appeal to values we all accept, such as objectivity and fairness. PZ's post is, weirdly, just wrong across the board. It strikes a pointlessly puerile tone, takes the wrong (biased, untenable) stance on an issue, and levies unjustifiable charges against an undeserving target. In fairness, I should point out that the CFI director did quote PZ Myers in his article as an example of a 'common secularist answer' to the issue. This might be considered provoking PZ, but De Dora's remark is hardly critical.
In response, Massimo Pigliucci defended De Dora and reprimanded Myers for his childish ranting, saying "PZ’s post reads like it was written by an intemperate teenager in the midst of a hormonal rage. " PZ replied in turn yesterday with a blog post titled "I shall be no friend to the appeasers". In it, he insinuates that he is being attacked for daring to criticize the CFI sacred cow and that Pigliucci is just defending his friend De Dora. PZ goes on to reinforce his trope about the state of science being warfare against insane zealots, which means anything goes as long as science wins. I'm sad to say this whole little spat reminds me of another paranoid and conveniently delusional atheist who may have debated at U of I last February, and also appears pathologically unable to handle honest dissent.
As skeptics or atheists active in such circles we will at times be made to choose between our pragmatic political goals and our honesty.. between the allegiance we feel to allies and allegiance to the truth. The former is a temping road. It may seem the expedient or necessary path, but it does not lead anywhere you really want to end up. PZ and others have lost their bearing, and steadily isolate themselves from the thoughtful, those for whom reason is a lighthouse and not just a sword to be flailed spastically for the ego's defense.