Thursday, June 12, 2008

On civility and its boundaries

Okay, I want to say a few words to both Martin Wagner and Yomin Postelnik, but the main thrust of the message for both parties is: stop acting like children.

Yes, I chatted with Yomin on the phone last night. He tried to get in touch with Martin first, couldn't find him and then looked me up as the other main posting personality around here. Yomin wanted me to give him Martin's contact info, but I said I wouldn't invade Martin's privacy unless Martin told me he wanted to talk. Martin declined.

I told both Yomin and Martin my take on the situation, and now that they've both decided that this would be best aired in a public forum, let me repeat it for the whole class. Yomin is an obscure conservative columnist. He does not write primarily about atheism, but in this case he did write something that was chock-full of basic misunderstandings about both philosophy and science. Martin wrote a lengthy response to this, of which I feel that the content was spot-on. Yomin and I did not discuss the content at length.

At the same time I feel, as I have in the past, that Martin does not make this blog look good by engaging in, IMHO, excessive trash-talking. In my opinion, the original post would have been vastly improved by the omission of words such as "ignoramus," "assclown," "tards," "verbal diarrhea," etc. I am not saying this to appease Yomin in any way. It is something that I think in general. It's a matter of presentation, not substance, but I think it's important.

"But Kazim, you raging hypocrite!" I hear you cry. "You guys use that kind of language on The Non-Prophets all the time, and you actively defend this behavior when people write to complain about it!" That's a fair point, but in all seriousness, I think the difference is largely a matter of context and degree. If you search through my own posts, you will notice that I almost never use that sort of language here on the blog. You'll also notice that we try to avoid that sort of thing on the TV show.

What's the difference between the TV show and the audio podcast? Simple: the former is intended to be for a general audience, while the latter is preaching to the choir. Even on the Non-Prophets, if somebody writes to us personally and we know that they're listening to the show, then we will usually go out of our way to be at least a little bit polite even when they're saying things that are clearly clueless.

Same applies in spades to the TV show. Remember this infamous clip of me and Matt fielding the question of why we don't get electrocuted in the shower? A lot of people have accused us of being rude or condescending. Even so, note that while we joked about what he was saying, we never really called him names. If the Atheist Experience is our attempt to promote positive atheism, we don't want to hinder that goal by saying something overly emotional that is begging to be yanked out of context.

So, that's the end of the "Kazim scolds Martin" section, which I present in the spirit of respect and constructiveness to my good friend. Now let me turn back to Yomin.

When your name is "Yomin Postelnik" and you don't already have a strong presence on the internet, one attention-getting post making fun of you is very likely to jump way up in the search engine. That's just an obvious fact about how search engines work. A Google search for Yomin's name now has Martin's post at spot number two, right after Yomin's Wikipedia page, which he mostly wrote himself. Further down the list, we see a variety of other columns and debates that Yomin has engaged in, many of which make sweeping generalizations about atheists, liberals, journalists, and other groups.

Yomin is afraid that Martin's attack is going to hurt his business by generating bad publicity when potential clients search for him. I might even say he has a point. But as Matt correctly remarked to me, if I were in Yomin's line of work then I'd already be concerned about hurting my own business by writing public rants with so many basic errors about science in them. Those are ALSO out there for potential clients to see.

So okay, I sympathize with the fact that a search for your own name yields a highly visible page that calls you an assclown. I wouldn't like that either. But I wish you would listen to me when I say that threatening the guy who mocked you with a lawsuit is not, in any way, going to clear up your image problems. I have never heard of a case where this (a) succeeded, or (b) didn't make the instigator sound ridiculous. And as with Martin, I say this to you with respect and constructiveness, and I wish you'd have taken my damn advice in the phone call.

Let me give two illustrations that show how I know this. As exhibit A, I present Penn Jillette speaking about his popular show, "Bullshit":

"You'll notice more obscenity than we usually use. That's not just because it's on Showtime, and we want to get some attention. It's also a legal matter. If one calls people liars and quacks, one can be sued and lose a lot of one's money. But 'motherfuckers' and 'assholes' is pretty safe. If we said it was all scams, we could also be in trouble. But BULLSHIT, oddly, is safe. So forgive all the bullshit language. We're trying to talk about the truth without spending the rest of our lives in court because of litigious motherfuckers!"

Then there's exhibit B, a humor site that I occasionally enjoy called "Something Awful". SA derives some of its humor by making fun of other people and web pages, and therefore they get legal threats all the time. What do they do with them? Why, they post the letters for all their readers to enjoy, thereby turning the instigator of the threat into an even bigger joke. And as far as I know, no one has ever actually managed to sue them. They don't have a case.

Calling somebody names is an opinion, and therefore not actionable. It is not something you can prove or disprove in court, although I'd love to watch you try. ("Your honor, the evidence will clearly show that I am not a motherfucker.")

On the other hand, calling somebody a child molester IS a malicious statement about a subject of fact, and it CAN get you sued, and you probably WILL lose. Ask your lawyer about that while the two of you are trying to draft scary letters to Martin. Pay some freakin' attention to what you're trying to accomplish, will you?

My polite assessment about the matter is that both parties should have STFU several posts ago. Getting in a mud-slinging match on the internet doesn't make either party look good, it just covers two people in mud. Publicly threatening to sue somebody who hurt your feelings will make you look more ridiculous than before. And finally, getting involved in Wikipedia edit wars is flat-out childish. (Although, for the record, I have reverted Yomin's edits from Martin's page, and will take the matter to the moderators pronto if he keeps trying to make them. I have some experience in this territory, and the policy for dealing with Wikipedia vandals is pretty well established. So get a clue.)

The internet is a silly place, Yomin. The only real insurance against conflict is obscurity. The more popular you get, the more people will openly disagree with your opinions. What are you going to do? Sue them all? And anyway, aren't conservative writers always complaining about evil lawyers who bring frivolous lawsuits? Do you want your friends to see you as that kind of person?

And Martin, whether it is "official" or not, this blog is a public face of the ACA -- people at least have the perception that posts come from our organization. I am not in the least bit scared of getting sued by angry commenters. I am interested in making the blog another example of positive atheism. That doesn't mean you shouldn't mock articles that are wrong. It just means that I feel you can do it better by talking about the content of the article alone, without adding personal remarks.

This has been Kazim's own opinionated and ill-informed rant for the day. Over and out.


  1. Russell,

    A very well thought out post. I can't disagree with much of what you've said. Although in Martin's defense, the skull thickness of certain antagonists who post here won't be lessened by fewer epithets thrown their way. I can guarantee that arguments with certain people would have proceeded in an identical fashion had Martin toned down some of his rhetoric. There's no reaching some people.

    I do understand the point that it could be off-putting to some third party observers. Doesn't bother me, however.

    None of this excuses the behavior of you-know-who, mind you.

  2. Duplicating my post from another thread...

    Here's the story:

    I called the number. I asked for Dan Gould...Yommin identified himself and told me that Dan wasn't available.

    I told him that I was returning the voice mail call regarding a cease and desist order. I begin explaining that this blog is not linked to the ACA in any legal way and we have no authority over the contents nor any resonsibility for what is posted here.

    While trying to explain, he kept interrupting and, losing my patience I asked him if I could "please finish my fucking sentence".

    He told me to watch my mouth and after a moment of trying to explain why that wasn't required, he hung up.

    So, I called back and he answered the phone with something along the lines of "congratulations, now you've got a harassment suit too."

    I mentioned the wikipedia incident in an attempt to demonstrate the difference between libel/slander (which he's clearly engaged in) and simply comments of opinion.

    He doesn't get it. He doesn't get free speech. He doesn't get the law....and he may be one of the most insanely hypocritical morons I've ever talked to.

    Why? Because...

    His excuse for the wikipedia edits was "I didn't do that, I have a webmaster here but I didn't instruct him to do that and I'm not responsible even if it came from my business IP"

    Yet he wants to sue the ACA for comments Martin made on a blog that isn't in any way under ACA jurisdiction?

    I agree with Russell, on the issue that Martin's content was spot on, but the tone may have initially been excessive. However, it's still just opinion and name-calling...and, at this point, I don't know that "too harsh" is even possible.

    Yommin, you're an idiot of the first order...what's more, I'm convinced you're the sort of unstable, dangerous idiot that people need to be seriously concerned about.

    You stepped out in public, said some incorrect and illogical things in a condescending manner - and someone called you on it. Harshly.

    Your response is to threaten a cease and desist order to an uninvolved organization and it's incredibly suspicious that an IP that might easily be tied to your business was spotted making truly libelous comments.

    You are a dangerous and pitiable little man.

    Sue me.

  3. I am not a lawyer, but I did receive an "A" in Mass Communication Law back in the day. Here is what I recall:

    1. If a person is a private citizen, and has in no way put him/herself out in public, you can be sued successfully for defamation even if what you say or print is true, if it causes problems for the person (including affecting his reputation).

    2. If a person is thrust into the limelight through no fault of their own, they still lose their private citizen status to some degree--although they don't fall into the "public figure" category automatically or fully. So, things can be written about that person, or photos could be published without their permission--but they're still not _completely_ fair game. They might not like it, but they're going ot be less protected than a private citizen who has never ended up involved in any sort of publicity.

    3. If a person seeks publicity, they lose most of their rights that their private citizen status would have afforded them. At that point, they can basically only sue for lies aimed at them and, often, for actual damages (which they must prove). If someone makes a statement of FACT (not opinion), and it is untrue, I can sue for a retraction. If a retraction is offered, that can actually often excuse the publisher (if it’s libel) from any/all damages entirely. Further, however, if the statement was untrue, "malice" is a factor. The person claiming libel or slander has to show that the publisher/speaker (1) knew the statements of fact were untrue, and that they (2) said them or published them regardless in order to harm the victim in some way.

    Opinions are not always protected. If I print up a flyer insulting a private citizen and distribute copies all over the place, I could still be in trouble.

    But if the person in question is a public figure (someone who sought publicity), I can spew my opinions all day long, and they can be ugly as all get out, and there’s nothing illegal about it. They’re free to respond. And they can sue me if they can find a lawyer to take me on, but they won’t win if I haven’t made any factual claims that are both damaging and false about them.

    Most of this changes slightly as new cases set new precedent, but that is the basic gist of what I recall.

  4. "If a person seeks publicity, they lose most of their rights that their private citizen status would have afforded them."

    I'd say that creating your own wikipedia entry should qualify there.

    This guy seems to be a major publicity seeker. However, that aside, I don't see anything that would qualify as libel or slander. It's all opinion, name-calling or not.


  5. While I take the point that Russell doesn't care for the tone I use, when I pepper my online critiques of supid creationist articles with snarky insults like "nincompoop" and "assclown," I can hardly accept the implied statement that my "childishness" in doing so is in any way equivalent, either morally or legally, to the way in which Yomin has chosen to respond to it: by vandalizing Wikipedia pages about me with actionable libel.

    As my attorney pointed out to me today over the phone, insulting someone by calling them variations of stupid are opinion, and not any sort of actionable defamation under the law, full stop. Falsely accusing someone of criminal acts is, and specifically, those forms of defamation are ones in which you are automatically entitled to damages, you don't actually have to show damage.

    I know Russell knows that, so I won't belabor it. I will only add in my defense that, after talking on the phone to Russell last night, I was entirely happy to dismiss Yomin and move on to new topics and new things. What happened on Wikipedia last night changed this.

    So it's not accurate to say Yomin and I both have chosen to keep hostilities going in a public forum. Yomin (or "someone" at his "business IP") chose to do what he did, and it's the sort of thing that can't not be met with a response. My posting all of the screenshots of the vandalism and what have you this morning was necessary, both to protect myself and potentially ACA, and to warn other individuals of what sort of person we're dealing with here.

    And Yomin is too stupid to stop. He's tried to post three comments here again today. What's amazing is that there was one comment in the batch left under Yomin's name, in which he flatly denied writing the Wiki vandalizations — immediately followed by two from "Dan Gold," who shares Yomin's phone number, in which the very libels made in the Wiki vandalizations — that I have a history of narcotics abuse, that I filed personal bankruptcy, and that I'm attempting to defraud fans of my comic — were repeated. I took yet another screenshot of those before rejecting them. This guy is really making discovery easy!

    Matt has it dead right. Whatever effect my snarky name-calling might have had on Yomin's business reputation can hardly hold a candle to the way his own bizarre behavior in the last 24 hours has possibly damaged it beyond repair.

  6. While I take the point that Russell doesn't care for the tone I use, when I pepper my online critiques of supid creationist articles with snarky insults like "nincompoop" and "assclown," I can hardly accept the implied statement that my "childishness" in doing so is in any way equivalent, either morally or legally, to the way in which Yomin has chosen to respond to it: by vandalizing Wikipedia pages about me with actionable libel.

    I didn't claim that they were equivalent. I criticized both of you, but that doesn't mean that I intend to criticize both in equal degree.

    Also, to answer something you brought up in the email you just sent, I don't know where you got the idea that I said you didn't address the content of his article. I said you did, and that I agreed with it. What I said in the post is that Yomin and I didn't discuss the content with each other. I'll edit the post if that bit wasn't clear.

  7. I appreciate the clarification, Russell, and thanks for all your help today.

  8. Martin awesome blog!

    If this guy really believed the stuff he says why would he respond this way? Why not just demonstrate how fractally wrong Martin is? That would be a very simple and effective response.

    It seems like all his acting out and talks about lawsuits is his way of changing the topic. It's a very desperate and predictable tactic. I have seen so many theists play the hurt feelings card as an out when they cannot respond to arguments.

  9. I don't know... The wikipedia smearing and the threats to the ACA and Martin for litigation look like somebody found a bootleg copy of the Scientologists' Fair Game policy.

    Matt, if you yourself listened to the voice mail call, can you offer an opinion on whether Dan and Yomin sound anything alike?

  10. "What's the difference between the TV show and the audio podcast? Simple: the former is intended to be for a general audience, while the latter is preaching to the choir. Even on the Non-Prophets, if somebody writes to us personally and we know that they're listening to the show, then we will usually go out of our way to be at least a little bit polite even when they're saying things that are clearly clueless."

    No offense, but that's kinda crappy. So what you're saying is it's cool to talk one way when we think "they" aren't around, but when we think they are, gotta be on our "P"s and "Q"s.

  11. I don't think it's quite like that. They are an organization with an agenda. They have goals and I'm sure they do the shows with those goals in mind. They should tailor the shows around their goals and audience.

    Either that or it's totally random like a jumbo jet suddenly making itself in a junk yard.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Russel (Ahem, Kazim) I must admit that go back and forth with myself about the substance of your post. Whenever I respond to someone who is mistaken about the universe, I remember that I used to be a Christian (in some really interpretive way, I used to think that God placed fossils here to test our faith, I know I was young..) and therefore try to be as tender and as INSTRUCTIVE as possible. I am truly a teacher at heart. I also have the balance of this equation. When I suspect that someone is being intellectually dishonest, I pounce. I am not sure which category Yomin falls into. He is so easy to despise that it skews my opinion of whether he is an ignoramus or a fraud. (I believe ignoramuses must be treated more gently.) I am starting to think that he is that rare combination of both. He is a fraud-o-ramus. (I think the hyphens this term funnier, don't you?) Well anyway, I think you guys are dissecting the legal issues with the dexterity of a sushi chef dissecting a blowfish. To quote one of my favorite lines (from Lost in Translation:) "I am not worried about you." Either way this thing goes, you guys will come out okay. (But I think that someone needs a lesson, and you guys (girls too, much respect to Tracy Harris!!!) can be VERY instructive.)) Aren't I the master of parentheses?

  14. The wikipedia smearing and the threats to the ACA and Martin for litigation look like somebody found a bootleg copy of the Scientologists' Fair Game policy.

    That's what I thought when Martin mentioned the allegations of pedophilia. That's exactly what they did to the guy who runs

  15. I decided to permit Yomin's comment this time. If this is truly the content of a letter Yomin is sending to his attorney, it's a feeble basis for a case indeed. The entire gist of it seems to be as follows. "I wrote an article. Lots of people didn't like it and sent me mean emails. This Martin Wagner person wrote something about it really mean, and talked about it on a forum, and now the Google ranking for his page is higher."

    That's it? That's what you've got? I imagine if your attorney is worth the paper his law degree's printed on, he'll send you home, after calmly explaining to you that there's nothing actionable about a guy bragging (which I didn't really do — it was more like chuckling) about Google rankings on an online forum.

    As for this claim:

    In fact, he now publicly accuses me of personally hijacking his Wikipedia page, an untrue/unfounded accusation.

    ...the accusation is neither unfounded nor untrue. Multiple cases of vandalism, all containing actionable libel and defamation, occurred to the Wikipedia articles, emanating from IP address The previous post here produces voluminous evidence to that effect, and anyone can visit the two Wikis in question and view the edit histories of each.

    Russell has forwarded me the email you sent to him yesterday afternoon, and in the headers, we find this.

    Received: by with SMTP id b14mr1090319anh.43.1213238980910;
    Wed, 11 Jun 2008 19:49:40 -0700 (PDT)
    Received: from YOURF47FE0285B ( [])

    See anything familiar?

    So unless you can successfully prove that one of your "associates" was, unbeknownst to you, in your home on your computer at 2:53 in the morning accusing me of being a drug-addled child molester, I would suggest you stop here, rather than dig yourself deeper.

    As for what went on with the phone calls to ACA, I'll allow the person involved in that exchange to discuss those if he chooses.

  16. >As my attorney pointed out to me today over the phone, insulting someone by calling them variations of stupid are opinion, and not any sort of actionable defamation under the law, full stop.

    Correct, and additionally, correct what Matt said. When you publicly publish work under your name, you open yourself up to public scrutiny.

    >Falsely accusing someone of criminal acts is, and specifically, those forms of defamation are ones in which you are automatically entitled to damages

    Agreed. And I agree that the things done at the Wiki amount to that.

    >you don't actually have to show damage.

    That's good news. I defer to the attorney since one course in Mass Comm Law hardly makes me expert.

    Thanks for the update.

  17. Mr Wagner,
    I can assure you that your knowledgee of law is even worse than your one sided look at what you call "science" and what I'd call dogma.
    It is you who is maliciously and falsely alleging criminal actions and who will be sued for same if you do not cease and desist. And if you are intent on keeping these allegations online then you may want to send me your attorney's contact info to save mind from a public records search and you from recieving the notice and summons at home or work (as it would go to your attorney). And fyi most of our webwork is always done at night as we publish the (I'd say it here but you'd accuse me of self promotion - I'll email it or post it to you if you send the ok) newsletter which even you are welcome to subscribe to. You will face legal action if you don't remove the posts and the allegations are totally false as I didn't engage in what you claim. It's you who wants to keep this nonsense going, it's you who's done actionable things and it's you (and ACA for calling and harassing) who'll pay the price if this isn't resolved. Your choice. I didn't ask for this and have done everything possible to resolve this fairly.

  18. Yomin's comment stated: "The calls were placed by either Don Rhodes, their VP, or Don Baker, their Sec."

    This is incorrect.


  19. " mind from a public records search..."

    If you hadn't opened your mind to the public in the first place Yomin, you wouldn't have to be fretting so now and your potential clients wouldn't know what really lurks in there, or I should say what's not in there, like a grasp of logic for instance.

  20. This is getting almost too silly for words. Yomin is going around writing fake press releases to explain his side of the story. I found the example in the link when I tried to explain what was going on in an email to someone else, and the above showed up in yet another Google search.

    So I responded to the post attempting to register a correction, at which point Yomin emailed me asking me to stop "writing defamatory comments" "all over the internet."

    I hope anyone who's followed the exchange realizes that I've probably tried to be on Yomin's side more than anyone else involved. Every time he contacts me, he makes sure to remind me that he is still "collecting evidence" for his imaginary lawsuit, and this "evidence" now apparently involves a comment posted on a public news forum.

    I never knew that this was against the law before. Every day I just learn so much new stuff about how this series of tubes that we call the internet works.

    Sorry, struggling hard to remain mature about this, but I have to admit that it's getting difficult.

  21. It's just shocking to see this kind of behavior from a grown man. I regularly complain about kids today but wow! Yomin needs an intervention. I hope now for his sake he has a friend or someone who will step in and make him stop digging his hole any deeper.

  22. Just look at it this way, Martin, you might end up getting a lot of money from this guy when he's laughed out of court (and or countersued, which I assume is an option for this harrassment and defamation that he is doing). From the quote he gives, you did not even call him an "assclown", just said that people who liked Ray Comfort, who is one, would like him. That's the best that he can come up with? (that refers to reality, not the lies he (or his "friend") is making up).

    Btw - loved Hepcats, and wished you could have printed up the last part of that story. I think I have a few signed copies in my collection, and I know I have some signed convention artwork. I never made the connection before. Thanks for the work.

  23. Wow. I mean wow.

    I've been listening to your podcasts for a long while now, and I've even read the blog on a couple of occasions, but until now I haven't really been tempted to actually register and comment on anything.

    But wow, I stumbled here from Pharyngula, and this is a level of weird that just so genuinely jaw dropping that I couldn't stop myself from butting in and saying something.

    I think it's fairly obvious sheer insanity of the "lawsuit" that he insists is going to be filed, that you, Martin, and the ACA, have nothing at all to worry about. That, or I'm going mad.

    That said, however, I would like to give my two cents on one aspect of the whole situation. Though here I am but a collection of pixels, in real life I tend to be thought of as a fairly decent judge of character; something which you are just going to have to take on blind faith. Despite this, I've had the misfortune of meeting people in my personal life once or twice that acted in ways that were, at the very least, similar to the kind of nonsense that you all seem to be dealing with now; people who have absolutely no qualms about engaging in sleazy tactics, and wouldn't bat an eyelash before sinking even to a new personal low in order to "win" against their perceived enemies.

    When his suit fails (and if it's even half as nutty as it is now when and if it is presented, it damned well should) don't attempt, as was suggested before, to seek damages against him.

    Going after him, however deserved it may be, is only likely to invite even more harassment your way. Not worth it. Don't try it. You'd probably only end up with a bad taste in your mouth.

    That's my unsolicited advice, courtesy of a stranger on the internet.

    Anywho, good luck.

    -Oh, also, I read his... um... press release. I nearly died laughing when I got to the part where he quoted himself, apparently after having a sit down interview with himself, and then went on to post it under his own name:

    "Ask[ed] if he’d do it again, Yomin Postelnik says, 'it’s a shame that people react in the way they do but, yes.'"

    How does one interview oneself? It's hard to imagine the kind of mentality that would allow me to quote myself as if I were a third party writing a news piece without posting it under a different name. At least not while maintaining a straight face.

  24. "And fyi most of our webwork is always done at night as we publish the"

    ... Well, that doesn't change the fact that it was those ip addresses that did the vandalism. In fact, if the vandalism was done [i]during normal business hours[/i] (for that business) it kind of makes matters worse, no?
    You Americans always say "beyond all reasonable doubt", I think we sailed past reasonable a few days ago...

  25. Vaporz: Do you have any comments on Yomin's self interview?
    Vaporz: I think it takes a very special person to pretend to interview themselves and post it like it news.

  26. I see Yomin has made it on Pharyngula's blog now. Now he's really going to be famous! That is definitely going to be up very high in the search results for Yomin Postelnik. I'd tell Yomin to stop foot bulleting himself but I need teh lulz.

  27. A friend sent me this link.

    Is he just dying for more and more ridicule?

  28. Two phone calls . . . from a member of an organization whom he INITIATED the dialogue with. And he calls this harrassment?!? The rest of his claims go over my head, bein' naught but a blue collar putz, but sweet heseuss in a cuisinart, TWO PHONE CALLS and he freaks?!?!? This kind of reasoning is the equivalent of macing a neighbor for them letting their dog crap in your yard . . . once. By accident. And this maniac has "clients"? Oh, I forget, so does Benny Hinn, the Hovind clan, Ted Haggard, etc.

  29. Could we get a Yomin Postelnik interview on the show? I think that would make for a good show. :P

  30. He's still at it, playing the censorship and hurt feelings card. He sent out this copy+paste e-mail rhetoric hilariously trying to appeal to atheists to get you at the Atheist Experience blog to stop "harrassing" him.

    He pleasantly admits that was his IP, but instead claims you "faked" it. He just cried censorship again when I told him if someone changed their external IP, they wouldn't be able to connect to their ISP and thereby not be able to edit Wikipedia.

    He also seems to have a weird need to refer to himself in the third person, as he did in one of my blog comments. He didn't seem to have anything to say about him pretending to be someone else when posting in my blog.

    Comment screnshot with IP:
    E-mail header screenshot with IP:

  31. Martin,

    I told you a)I'd debate you if you stop your vicious attacks b) I think a debate would do wonders for your site and is a win-win instead of this nonsense going on c)I'll appear on your show under the same terms and conditions outlined Fri (and also the logistics as am not near a studio).

    I'm a person of peace and have tried in many ways to make peace with you, beyond what anyone else would. I'm not just going to sit back and take it either and will defend myself like you've never seen anyone else you've falsely maligned do so before if that's the only choice you give me. What a shame when I'm actually willing, in spite of all you've done, to help drive traffic to your site (though I will win that debate). So I ask you, can we put this behind us and I'll even do you some good or must we keep fighting this out (which I'll do big time if you leave me no choice)?

    Zurahn has a very distorted view of reality and of what I said and what others have said and I've asked him to stop emailing me.

  32. Yomin, get lost. Stop writing, stop posting, stop everything. Just stop. Okay? Now. Thank you.

  33. @ Zuhran
    Those links are a bit screwy, I'm getting 404's and the Dawkins thread no longer exists, if you still have screenshots could you repost them? I did see the ip on the email screen-shot though (if you have access to the original source it would be great, without the formatting).
    The very first line of that email is my favourite:
    "You write the paper seeking to quash the article but you wonder how that's censorship. The logic of you atheists is astounding."
    Aside from what I see as an improper use of the definite article (a bit hoity toity, Alex... oops third person again gotta watch that, first sign of madness don't you know), and also the crazy idea that you can "quash" something by writing a response.
    What Yomin seems to forget is that the response to his original article WAS the debate. He's also yet to demonstrate a single one of these "vicious attacks". Say for instance if he saved the emails along with their ip addresses that link them to the locale of Austin, Texas for instance. A quick call to his phone company for a list of times of incoming calls from same etc. In fact ANYTHING to back up his claims of persecution.

    So in conclusion:
    a) If one wrongly perceives actual debate as a "vicious attack", debate is impossible in teh first place.
    b)my mother always said: "never argue with a fool, other people may not be able to tell the difference if you do"... a debate would only be a positive thing for this site if both sides were civil. (And despite what Yomin might think, accusations of paedophilia don't count as civil discourse).
    c)I hope one of the terms and/or conditions are that neither side acts batshit crazy, it's a Sunday afternoon show and kids might start thinking that it's healthy human behaviour.

  34. @Alex: I'm not completely sure what you mean by "without the formatting" but I have every e-mail, and that was from the source header.

    I uploaded the e-mail to my web-server instead:

    Here are the three screens uploaded to photobucket:

    If you clarify what formatting it is you want removed, I can probably do that as well.

    Nice, though, how he doesn't seem to use many references in his writings in order to, you know, actually support his nonsense.

  35. If Martin wants to disassemble a creationist without worrying about whether he's being too harsh, he might want to have a go at a guy named Tom Willis, who wrote the article "Should Evolutionists Be Allowed to Vote?" in the latest newsletter of The Creation Science Association for Mid-America ( He concludes, not surprisingly, that they should not be allowed to vote (and purports to prove it), and furthermore that "The facts warrent [sic] the violent expulsion of all evolutionists from civilized society."

  36. "("

    And they wonder why I'm angry.

    Rage taking over... urge to rant... rising...

  37. Martin,

    I'd be glad to get lost. All you have to do is call off your goons and stop google stalking. Until then I'll fight back hard against your vicious tactics and make sure everyone knows exactly what you and your fellow animals are doing. Ball's totally in your court. If you remain a bully, a liar and a thief I'll expose you as one. If Russell remains a google stalker, I'll expose him as one. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STOP.

  38. @ Zuhran
    exhibit c is what I meant by not formatting, I think the trendy term is "source", but I'm not one for jargon.
    The crazy email is the best, despite his claims of innocence, both the vandal and his "workmate" have the same story, yet the internet archive shows that Martins story holds up and Yomins doesn't.
    Then claiming that the Martin faked IP addresses (which would seriously break the internet)!
    The poor guy doesn't know how the internet works, let alone democratic society. Maybe that's why he keeps talking about the KGB. It's actually kind of embarrassing.
    p.s. thanks for reposting the links.

  39. @ Yomin.
    You are at least an order of magnitude older than 3. Act it.
    What you are experiencing is public backlash to an article you placed in the public domain. The public tend to be mixed int heir reactions. It is a big misinterpretation on your part to view this reaction as orchestrated in some way. For better or worse, your article put you in the public eye and the public responded. I'm sure that some have responded in unconstructive ways, but your insistence to find a scapegoat for that reaction rather than put it down to what it is (a negative public reaction) will only get you into a positive feedback loop. An IP address intimately linked with your business and personal life was involved in some pretty serious libel. Two options present themselves:
    1. You push harder and that positive feedback loop will bite you, one side has all the evidence in the world, you have yet to present a single shred.
    2. You step back, and before the end of this business week, this will have blown over like so many other flash in the pan blogospheric disturbances and everyone can get back to their lives.

    Despite what you seem to think, the ball is very much in you court.

  40. Yomin,

    I had no idea you wrote that article before it was surgically dissected here. Hell, I never even heard your name before. Now that I've been exposed to you and your work, you're on my asshat list. I may google you in the future, and if I find another article of yours even remotely as ridiculous as that last one, I will comment on it and perhaps point others to it.

    Point is, although Martin, through his post here, brought you to my attention, he in no way pulls my strings. If he said tomorrow everyone should ignore you forever after I would not listen because you sir are a dangerously deluded man whose ideas and pathetic attempts at logic must be confronted and exposed every time they appear in public.

    So I have no idea why you keep insisting Martin reign in all the "militant atheists" and STOP. There's nothing to stop that can be stopped. That's how it works when you post your work publicly, you risk the public's response. My advice to you sir is to take this experience on the chin, grow a thicker skin, and let it go. You can't stop your words from floating out there in the public square once you've put them there, but you can try to stop being ridiculed in the future for any new work by taking the time to write better articles with both a better grasp of logical argumentation and the subject matter you discuss. Furthermore, I would also suggest you not overreact in the future like you have recently.

  41. My advice to you sir is to take this experience on the chin, grow a thicker skin, and let it go.

    Philly, alternatively, he could legally change his name to John Smith!

  42. @Yomin

    What is this "google stalking"? Google runs a mathematical algorithm to assign website rankings based on popularity etc. No one group, outside of google, can control the results. Math is objective...the results are independent of affiliation. I will simplify further: By writing a public article that was completely factually false, you become open to the scrutiny of the masses. Rather than writing an intelligent counter-criticism article (probably because you can't) you instead threw a tantrum, and subsequently gathered the attention of the atheist community. This attention (to your personal ignorance) is altering the search results. Not the bloggers.

    Perhaps you should sue Google too. Good Luck

  43. Why won't I go away? Why am I writing an expose on your malicious behavior? I'd love this to go away.


    Someone keeps manipulating my google results first page every single day posting malicious comments. There's a campaign by people on here to vandalize my wiki page so that all your malicious comments are the only ones that come up on a google search. An attorney's letter's been drafted but those actions take time and all I've asked for is this to stop. The harassment and manipulation come right back to this page so it's in Martin's court and Martin's court only to stop this.

    You don't think I don't want this to blow over? I've had heart palpatations (which if anything serious happens you're looking at a bigger lawsuit than you can imagine, jointly, against you, Russell and against Joshua Zelinsky) because your harassment has been up-anted every day and is 24/7. I've done everything humanly possible to resolve this but no, you do stuff to me and then accuse me of doing it to you. All I've asked for is for this to stop. Russell googlestalks and makes comments on local forums, others are engaged in link manipulation, etc. But if you don't stop I will go very public with all your tactics and he who laughs last laughs best. Ball's totally in your court.

  44. Postelnik has repeated most of his Creationist tripe and accusations in another venue, The "Logic" of Creationism
    which seems to be brand new, and to feature little other than Postelnik's rantings.

  45. I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this. Yomin--YOU are the one "manipulating" the Google results. And it appears you're the only one who doesn't understand that. Please read chigurh's post directly above your own.

    Every time you post your accusations to a new forum, the people there Google to find out what you're talking about. YOU are plastering this all over the Internet and THAT is what is causing the increased searches to occur (driving up the popularity). YOU have bumped up the interest in this to the current degree it now enjoys, and by doing so, YOU have made the links of criticisms of you more popular on the search engines.

    Additionally, at both theist and atheist forums, you have attracted ridicule and ire via your posts; and now when people Google you, they find not only:

    1. Your poorly written article

    2. Martin's harsh (but not libelous) rebuttal

    3. Marin's furhter notes about how suspicious it is that someone with your IP address committed libel on his Wiki (Saying something is suspicious is not libel)

    But now they also find:

    4. Literally hundreds of comments at disassociated and varied forums by strangers who know nothing about you or this matter, who have been dragged into it by YOU, who are heaping public criticism upon you exponentially, both for your poorly written and ignorant article and for your seriously childish handling of this situation that would have blown away had you either continued dialoguing with Martin (as so many other theists have done perfectly well) or dropped it entirely.

    I say this not with harshness, but with as much sympathy and pity for you as I can muster: YOU are doing this utterly to yourself, and sadly, it appears that you are (and I take no pleasure stating this) too dim to realize it's not other people doing it to you. When you try to promote that's not the case, you only look more foolish, because to everyone else, not only at this forum, but at all forums you've run to so far--it's clear what is going on (to everyone but you).

    I think you are sincere in your perspective. But, unfortunately, you're sincerely deluding yourself. And the only thing that will "fix" this situation is for you to take a moment to do some self-reflection and TRY to see how your own actions have (to wax Biblical) heaped burning coals upon your own head.

    That's as kindly a point as I can put on it and still be clear in what needs (IMO) to be said. And you may dismiss my claim that this is an effort to actually try to help you--but that's truly how it is intended. I am genuinely sad for you, but not for the reasons you would hope. I don't want to see you hurting yourself further. I don't like to see anyone cause themselves unnecessary pain--regardless of how abrasive or ignorant they may be. I'm as susceptible to Schadenfreude as anyone else if I dislike someone; BUT, I know that if a person is really hurt, there comes a time when it doesn't matter so much to me that they did it to themselves as it does that I'm looking at a _person_ who is in pain--and I really don't like to see that. I would much rather see ANY person do better and get back on the right track than learn via the school of hard-knocks (which can, I understand, be seriously hard knocks sometimes).

    Until you're willing to examine your part in this, and acknowlege in what ways your own actions have sharply contributed to the situation to this point, nothing will improve for you. That's no threat. It's simply how reality works for all of us.

    I'm skeptical that this input will be internalized, but I felt at least obligated by a sense of humanity to offer it.

    I sincerely wish you enlightenment to the degree that you may soon understand that you control what happens to you in your own life to a much larger degree than you currently credit yourself.

  46. Do you think if I said some nasty shit about Yomin he'd start a whole blog dedicated to me? Maybe I need to get in on some of this action instead of just sitting here with my sunglasses and beer, enjoying it from the sidelines.

    Seriously, Yomin is sliding rapidly from garden-variety creationist kook into full-blown crazy person.

  47. Gee, you think maybe establishing 4 blogs to talk smack about particular atheists, writing and distributing press releases where you interview yourself, and posting comments about these "militant atheists" who are "harassing" you on dozens of internet forums day after day could possibly be contributing to these palpitations you're having, Yomin?

    If not for saving some semblance of integrity, how about letting all this go to save your heart and maybe your life? Seriously sir, you may be literally killing yourself over this. Take some time off, relax and get away, preferably somewhere they don't have internet access.

  48. Please keep in mind the possibility that Yomin is enjoying this. Clearly he is craving both the publicity and the "persecution" he is so bravely enduring.

    I mean, the guy hurls an e-bomb every time an hour goes by without a comment on him. And he really doesn't know how Google works? Really?

    Seriously, Martin was able to dismantle this guy's arguments so easily because he (Yomin) is not a very serious student of apologetics. He has no credentials or science education. Kind of "low hanging fruit" if you ask me.

    Well, the wolf looks for slow elk, I guess.


  49. This is becoming more and more amusing. The only explanation I can think of other than extreme paranoia is an attempt to get himself cast as a persecuted lamb and cash in from the creationist crowd.

  50. @ bigfatatheist
    That's a really good point, the blog posts martin posted just above link to here multiple times, more so than even a serious article would do so. Implication being that someone may be making lemonade out of lemons sot hey can get their persecution complex on.
    I'm sure he's getting a kick out of his perceived persecution.

    In short, I think Martin just got himself into a sub/dom relationship with Yomin. Creepy.

  51. Please keep in mind the possibility that Yomin is enjoying this.

    It won't last.

  52. Being that he is logically wrong about just every facet of the incident, its tempting to think he is just being coy. He's taking a gamble though. If it is ever proven that he is responsible for the pedophile accusations etc on wikipedia, there is legal support, although no precedent, for a suit. There IS precedent that wikimedia itself is not liable, but articles can be edited anonymously. The IP would have to be proven to be him. That being said, he probably knows what a pain establishing such a precedent would be.

    Then again, if he was toying, would he ever have been concerned over his google results? It is certainly bad for business. Would you let this guy evaluate grants if he cannot grasp the fn of an algorithm? When he cries bullying rather than coherently address each criticism? I certainly would not hire him. This isnt even about his faith; this is simple lack of sense.

    that being said, check out this sexy dude! hopefully he's not homophobic ;-) (thats a joke yomin):

  53. Chigurh said...
    "Then again, if he was toying, would he ever have been concerned over his google results? It is certainly bad for business. Would you let this guy evaluate grants if he cannot grasp the fn of an algorithm?"

    I think the actual criminal stuff is because he (Yomin) hates atheists. This seems apparent from the original article.

    Beyond that, I am wondering if the Google results are the point with him. I think he wants to be a famous "defender of the faith" that people quote and stuff.

    Perhaps the impact on his business is acceptable. He probably deals mainly with people of a certain level of faith who may find all this appealing, or, at least, he may THINK this is the case. Could be he is well enough off that he doesn't need to worry.

    Either way, if you want to get invited to contribute columns or to speak to groups as an apologist, picking a fight with some atheists might be a good way to get started. Many religious people would love to do business with a heroic "warrior for god", especially one so persecuted by godless atheists...


  54. I just want this ended. What's so hard to understand? I've been attacked everywhere by you guys with no let up, all thanks to Martin whose wikipage I did not touch. So why won't so many of you leave me alone, anywhere?

  55. Has anyone seen this yet? In the spirit of objectivity, let's see if christians on a christian forum will be less critical of him and his article than atheists...

    "Do you have the logical proof of a devine creator? I'm sorry if you recieved personal attacks, but this is a fairly incredible claim to put forward and people are going to tear it apart if it doesn't stand up."

    "Well, yes, after I write something stupid, someone usually will point out that it is stupid.
    Even from a Christian standpoint, your article was stupid.
    Being called stupid for writing something so stupid is not persecution, it is simply the truth."

    "Havent had a chance to read it all but a cursory scan hints at several strawmen. Have fun"

    "What a silly rehash of old, long forgotten and disposed of arguments. It certainly doesn't say much for the Canadian Free Press."

    That's just the first few, and then it gets critical. LOL

  56. DAMN!! Thank you for posting that, Phillychief.


  57. Yomin, there is a very easy way to make this all end if you want it to end, it has even already been suggested: just stop.

    Stop commenting here. Stop making new blogs dedicated entirely to talking about how much of a mean dick Martin is supposed to be. Stop whining at religious forums which are no more sympathetic to your crappy article than we are. Stop making fake news reports. Stop throwing random and unfounded accusations of criminal behavior at your detractors. Stop whining about him thinking that you inserted libelous comments into his wikipedia page because, unless you manage to explain why the edits originated from your IP address, it comes across as looking ridiculous, thus ensuring that the good Samaritans on the net will take time out of their day to give it its deserved ridicule.

    If you want it to go away, leave it alone. Do you honestly think we care about your article this much? We keep laughing because you keep making yourself look even dumber every few hours. So just leave it alone. You can go back to your life of scribbling ill informed screeds and we'll find a new article to chuckle at, alright?

    It's really not Martin that's causing you all of this trouble. Martin doesn't have many goons to summon forth. What is attracting all of this attention, Yomin, is your big, dumb, eternally flapping mouth. So close your yap, let the damned article die, put more thought into your next one, or, better yet, leave it to someone a little bit more qualified, and we'll all sleep a little bit more soundly, and, in your case, you might even dodge some heart problems.


  58. Martin doesn't have many goons to summon forth.

    How true. Mine are all folding laundry right now. Good help is hard to find!

  59. >I just want this ended. What's so hard to understand?

    Yomin: What's hard to understand is that you say one thing and _do_ another. You claim to want it ended, but you keep adding fuel to the fire by spreading your dirty laundry all over the place. How on Earth is that a means to your desired "end"?

    Everywhere you've slung your mud so far has ended up in a quagmire where people have been openly critical of you and your claims. But it hasn't stopped you (or even slowed you down) from doing it again and again and again.

    So, despite your claim that you want it to end, your actions--collecting repeated abuse from strangers at all corners of the Internet--seem to belie that agenda. The question is more along the lines of "Why is he doing this to himself and then getting upset about it?" It's a curiosity of sorts to most of the people here, because of all the irrational theists we thought we'd seen, you've really taken the crown at this point.

    I personally believe you don't like the feeling of being the subject of criticism and insults, simply because most people don't enjoy it. But if you will examine your own actions in the past week, you will see that you are actually doing everything you can to find newer and more effective ways of soliciting abuse from strangers on the Internet.

    That's what isn't understood by people who are watching and scratching their heads. Many people are finding this funny, because it's like watching someone step on a rake over and over again, and each time harder than the last--all the while yelling "OUCH! WHY is this happening to me???"

    OK, on the one hand, I can't deny there's a macabre humor about it. But on the other hand, I am getting that you're in real pain here. You are so strongly identifying with the idea that you're being persecuted that you honestly don't understand that none of this would be happening if you would just take a hard honest look at what you're doing and ask if the reactions you're getting weren't completely predictable BEFORE you ever acted.

    Anyone could have seen any of this coming a mile away, except, it seems, for you. You have _got_ to start making a mental connection between your _actions_ and the _reactions_ you're getting back, or this type of mystification about why other people [mis]treat you the way they do will haunt you for years to come.

    I do not believe this is the only time anything like this has ever occurred in your life. I'm guessing the feeling of being victimized and wronged is very familiar to you--even if this is a new level of escalation that you've reached.

    Can you really not fathom that everything that has happened in this drama (commedy? tragedy?) so far has been nothing BUT _reaction/s_ to _your_ action/s? And all of the escalation is a _direct result_ of those actions.

    Dragging your dirty laundry all over this green Earth and then bemoaning that you can't understand how this became such a huge mess, is absurd. And it makes _you_ look absurd. And I feel for you, because it's clear you can't really even see how you're doing this to yourself.

    I'm sorry for you. I'm trying to give you helpful input. But you've got to take some responsiblity here and grasp that you have always had control of this situation and what happened here.

    The power to direct the outcome of this scenario has never left your hands. You had the power to keep it lowkey or to escalate it. You chose to escalate it at EVERY available opportunity you could dream up or create.

    You have total control of this. Do with that information what you will. Keep ramping it up or let it die. It's always been your choice.

  60. Yomin will be happy to know that because of all his carrying on, a Google search for the single term "Yomin" now lists Martin's original post first among the results. Congratulations!

  61. I wonder, if this continues at this rate, if the new way the internet will describe self-character assassination will be "pulling a Yomin".

    Despite the tragedy unfolding here, this could be a welcome addition to internet vernacular to remind people what they should do when they find themselves in a similar situation, less they end up pulling a Yomin!

  62. I don't doubt I'm the only one to notice this, but just to have it "said," has anyone noticed that these blogs that YP created regarding the "truth" about MW have "0 comments" and moderation is enabled?

    Beyond the obvious interpretation--does this mean nobody has shown up to post supportive comments yet? (And if I post this will supportive sock puppets begin to post comments shortly afterward?)

    Just a thought.

  63. More to the point, is there any opinion anywhere on the net supportive of his position that was not posted by Yomin Postelnik himself?

  64. He got a lot of support here:

    Almost no one even bothered to look up the issue before taking everything he said on faith. How predictable based on the demographic. But how sad that his story requires that nobody check it out in order for others to be sympathetic.

    At the last, he solicits for people to slam Wiki to help keep his page up. And blames "atheists"--again--for getting it's notability called into question with the Wiki editors. Couldn't possibly be related to anything he's done to piss people off an call attention to himself, right?

    His Wiki page was vandalized by awful people? Before I shed a tear, let me just say, "Pot...kettle...?"

  65. I just want to add that while I've seen the Wiki deletion debate, I have not participated, nor do I intend to do so. That being said, apparently his solicitation to get people to go tell Wiki to keep his article up has had some impact (not exactly positive--who'da guessed?)

    >If you came here because someone asked you to, or you read a message on a forum, please note that this is not a majority vote...

    He has an unnatural knack for _doing_ the things he accuses others of doing (that they're not doing).

    While I can't say that there hasn't been a call in any atheist forums to get his page deleted, I can say I've been around, and I sure haven't seen him. The only person doing any sort of organized targeting toward his Wiki page is him.

    He doesn't get that atheists act indepedently--acting independently is just outside his range of imagination.

    For the record: If 1,000 atheists e-mail you, nine times out of ten, it isn't because another atheist told them to. Nobody has to organize an "attack" of that sort.

    And immature vandals are acting independently--not under Martin's or Richard Dawkin's control.

    The only person going out and trying to rally for organized attacks is Yomin. The only person's IP address that's been ID'ed vandalizing a Wiki page is Yomin's.

    Don't get me wrong--I don't for a second doubt that some idiots went and shredded his Wiki page--but it's paranoid conspiracy nut realm to think it was "organized" by militant atheists (what the hell is a "militant" atheist anyway--how many of us are suicide bombing? Oh, none--that would be the theists, right?)

    He accuses others of doing this crap, because it's the sort of crap he would do (and does). He thinks and acts this way, and he can't imagine others might not. It's that lack of ability to conceive of the perspective of "others" that is SO sadly common in the Xian community--especially the conservative branches. Sad, sad, sad!

  66. I think it's great that on that forum you linked to he accuses people of having, "no life outside of the internet," when he has created no fewer than four blogs, two news reports, sent numerous emails, and made some wikipedia edits over this. And that's just in the last couple of days.

    Oh, and they linked over to this on Pharyngula:

    Don't go and comment on it of course, lest you be stalking him "all over the internet" as he goes about, trash talking you "all over the internet."

  67. Don't get me wrong--I don't for a second doubt that some idiots went and shredded his Wiki page--but it's paranoid conspiracy nut realm to think it was "organized" by militant atheists...

    Actually, a quick scan of the edit history of Yomin's Wiki page indicates the person who's done the most recent editing to it is himself. One person whose IP address tracks to the UK, I believe, made an edit calling attention to the recent events culminating in Yomin's libels on my Wiki pages. But while that may be what Wikipedia calls vandalism, materially it was true (in noted contrast to my being accused of diddling the kiddies), and of course, I didn't tell the guy to do it.

    The Freepers are, of course, the wingnut fringe of the far right. Naturally Yomin would find a sympathetic ear and "moral" validation there. That's where people have gone to post that they'd kill Hillary if she were elected. I can't imagine what the Freepers are saying about Obama, or about gay marriage in California, and frankly, since finding out would be as painful as masturbating with steel wool, I'd rather not know.

  68. Postelnik also posted a number of threads at Free Republic, one claiming to be the victim an attack by a *Militant Atheist Group*. He repeats his attacks on Martin and Russel.

    Oddly enough (well, not really; this IS FR) he's gotten mostly positive feedback. He's been a poster there for 4 years. Then again, they have a wide assortment of kooks posting. He more or less blends into the mix. Mixed nuts. :)

    I notice his wiki page has been removed though. His head must be ready to explode. The discussion about whether to delete it was instructive:

  69. Austin Cline has been giving him a hammering as well over at
    Postelnik has also been over there pulling yet another 'Yomin' and getting hammered in the comments section. He even got invoved in a debate about evolution while he was there, and once again publicly displayed his abysmal ignorance about all things scientific.
    It's a bit sad really.

    You can find it here.

  70. Oh, I forgot to mention that Yomin was also caught red handed posting 'sock puppet' comments under other names in response to Cline's criticisms of his article.

    By the way thanks Damien,
    'Pulling a Yomin' is definitely part of my vocabulary now. :D


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