Chapel Hill Shame Belongs To Reactionaries Like @TheFlowerThrowe AKA @LIFG_4_HRC
Twitter user @TheFlowerThrowe (Update April 2016 – now changed to @LIFG_4_HRC), or ‘Johnny Spooner’ is an individual often uncharitably described as a ‘CJ Werleman flea’ due to his consistent promotion of Werleman’s articles, and a propensity for attacking Werleman’s detractors. When he isn’t being abusive towards me, he attacks me by way of ‘guilt by association’ – namely the fact that ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson has been on my podcast.
This is a point he attempts to use against me yet again in a new blog piece he has cobbled together when he states:
‘…new atheist podcaster/blogger Stephen Knight – who also has given a platform to anti-Muslim extremists – takes up the baton, armed only with half-truths and attacks an author for dedicating his book, The New Atheist Threat to the three Chapel Hill victims. And as these half-truths spread they become whole truths’
I note there is no attempt whatsoever to highlight what these ‘half truths’ are in my piece titled The Views And Potential Motivations Of Craig Hicks. Lazy. Also, as you can see from my comprehensive book review, mere ‘dedication’ is not what I ‘attacked’ Werleman for, but rather it was misrepresentation and exploitation.
Of course, he also fails to mention that I announced my conversation with Robinson before recording it, detailing my dislike for the EDL and my reservations on Robinson in general. I also encouraged people to submit questions to challenge Robinson. ‘Johnny’ also fails to mention that Robinson shared my podcast platform with an ex-Muslim, Pakistani blogger who challenged Robinson on his generalisations of Muslims. It’s as though it’s not possible to disagree about some things with people, yet agree with them on other things without endorsing everything they’ve ever said.
He takes similar desperate swipes at Atheist Ireland Chairperson Mick Nugent by sharing a picture of Nugent in the company of someone else he doesn’t like, therefore Nugent must subscribe to whatever unsavoury views Johnny has decided this other person holds. Anyhow, details.
This ‘guilt by association’ seems like a fun game though. I think I may play it for just a moment. For instance, ‘Johnny Spooner’ supports and promotes CJ Werleman, a man whose anti-Muslim bigotry and racism is well documented. A man who was found to be a serial plagiarist. A man who lies about current events to stoke religious tensions. A man who attempts to bully his critics into silence by threatening legal action against them. Fantastic company. And why, just the other day, ‘Johnny’ came to the defence of an individual who refused to confirm whether the Holocaust actually happened – on four separate occasions. An individual who referred to me as a ‘Yiddish squatter rat’. Pleasant.
Conclusion: ‘Johnny Spooner’ promotes and supports racists, bigots, liars, bullies, anti-Semites and probable holocaust deniers. My, this game really is easy. It’s just a shame it’s so incredibly callow.
Anyhow, ‘Spooner’s’ piece titled ‘The Shameless Response of “New Atheism” To The Chapel Hill Murders’ is also a woeful attempt at attacking ‘new atheists’ for the Chapel Hill murders, not only in their inspiration of the heinous act, but in their response to it. It is a truly dishonest attempt to confirm this atrocity as a hate crime motivated solely by a ‘new atheist’, anti-muslim worldview of the perpetrator.
Cutting through all the bluster, ad hominem and guilt by association, ‘Johnny’ finally offers his ‘evidence’ for his hate crime narrative, handily arranged in 4 bullet points:
- The testimony of one of the murdered girls to her father, “He hates us for who we are”.
- The non-existent “parking dispute” that day. There was no car in the disputed parking place. In fact, “dispute” is an insult to the murdered. There was no dispute. It was targetted-killing.
- Hicks’ own daughter had disowned him due to his obsessive hatred of the religious.
- A fellow atheist who had spoken with Hicks was left deeply disturbed by Hicks’ anti-theism.
You’ll notice there is no citation included whatsoever, and as I take a closer look below, you will begin to understand why.
Testimony Of The Father
This claim refers to an interview with Abu-Salha (father of two of the victims) in the Raleigh News & Observer. The newspaper reports:
Abu-Salha said his daughter, who lived next door to Hicks, wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbor.”
“Honest to God, she said, ‘He hates us for what we are and how we look,’ ” he said.
There are just two issues with this:
- Not only is this information coming second-hand, it is impossible to substantiate, given the person quoted is unfortunately deceased. People interested in diligence call this ‘hearsay’.
- Even if the victim did say this (I’ve no reason to doubt it), it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s true. People interested in diligence call this ‘logic’.
No Parking Dispute That Day
It matters not whether there was a dispute over parking on that particular day, the fact of an ‘ongoing parking dispute’ existing between Hicks and the victims is well established. Here is an initial statement from The Chapel Hill Police Department:
Our preliminary investigation indicates that the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking
By suggesting ‘no dispute that day’ means ‘therefore a hate-crime’ displays a catastrophic inability to reason competently.
I’m wondering if ‘Johnny’ considers The Chapel Hill Police ‘fucking repulsive’ for their preliminary assessment, or is it just ‘new atheists’?
Comments From Hicks’s Estranged Daughter
‘Johnny’ claims Hicks’s estranged daughter Sarah Hurley disowned Hicks for his hatred of the religious. This is untrue. What Hurley actually said was (emphasis mine):
“I shut him out of my life permanently for not only disrespecting the religious beliefs of others, but bashing them on social media. It was obvious he had a lot of hate in his heart”
It seems his daughter was unhappy with Hicks’s anti-religious postings on social media, not for hatred of actual people. She even confirmed that Hicks agreed to ‘respect her beliefs’.
Also, the great thing about social media is that it provides a lasting record of what someone has posted there. I note ‘Johnny’ is unable to provide a single example of any of this ‘hatred’ towards religious people from Hicks’s well-combed social media profiles. Furthermore, what counts as ‘hatred’ towards religion or religious people in this context exactly? I hereby issue a challenge to Johnny. Can he find any examples from myself, or Hicks that are more abusive/hateful than his below comments towards ‘new atheists’ on Twitter?
I imagine Spooner would jump for joy were he to find Hicks referring to Muslims as ‘fucking repulsive’, ‘cunts’ or ‘pricks’, then file it firmly under ‘hate’. It’s rather embarrassing for ‘Johnny’ that he cannot find a single example from Hicks that is stronger, or equal to his own abusive rhetoric.
Not to mention ‘Spooner’ further amplifies CJ Werleman’s disgraceful and unfounded finger-pointing at Author Michael Sherlock for the Chapel Hill Murders. This has resulted in Sherlock’s children receiving threats:
A Fellow Atheist Is Left Deeply Disturbed By Hicks
This claim is based on a Facebook post dated 22 Oct 2015 from a video blogger called ‘Hallcyon’, specifically this section on Hicks:
I even have conversed with him on these positions. I thought the fellow was highly dangerous and my talks with him even kept me up at night. I was highly disappointed in not being able to reach him as he seemed persuaded by the inflammatory rhetoric of many vloggers.
It appears ‘Hallcyon’ is claiming to have had a conversation with Craig Hicks prior to his crimes. I have attempted to verify these claims with ‘Hallcyon’ via Twitter and in a private email on the 10th Nov (UPDATE: Now an open letter). I am yet to receive a response. I’ve not managed to find any other mention of this discussion with Hicks anywhere else on ‘Hallcyon’s’ social media pages. I’d be interested to confirm the following with ‘Hallcyon’:
- When did he have a conversation with Craig Hicks, and in what form did this take? What did Hicks say that concerned him?
- Given the undeniable public interest in this case, will he be making this conversation with Hicks available to the public?
- And most importantly – did he pass this conversation/information on to the police?
I will give ‘Hallcyon’ a reasonable amount of time to respond to my email/tweets, then release my email to him as an open letter on my blog, given the importance of his claims and the public interest in this case.
However, for now – those interested in diligence call this kind of thing ‘unsubstantiated’.
This inexcusable crime is still being investigated, and as I have previously made clear:
‘Could Hicks have gunned down those poor Muslims because they were Muslim? Absolutely. Is anything he posted online pertaining to his atheism (new, old geriatric, whatever) suggestive of that scenario? Absolutely not’
I stand by this assessment, and barring new information – it remains the most reasonable one. This may well be a hate crime. It’s just a simple fact that none of the information made available to the public so far suggests that it is. Unlike ‘Johnny Spooner’, I’ll have the decency to wait on the findings of the investigation. ‘Johnny’ is clearly comfortable with exploiting the deaths of three innocent Muslims in order to promote an abusive, anti-atheist agenda. It’s clear to me where any shame belongs here.