May the ghost of Samuel Taylor Coleridge have mercy on my soul for such shameless quote mining:
The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.
Taken completely out of the relevant context, one gets the sense that the ancient mariner was revolted to see the goings-on down in the very deep, revolted even unto the point of blasphemy, a somewhat more serious offense in the 1700’s than it is today. Probably it is best not to cast one’s gaze into the slimy depths, lest one recoil in horror and thereby imperil one’s very soul.
It’s too late for me to heed that sound advice, of course, as I’ve wallowed about in the depths myself. I have been repeatedly asked to justify my participation in the so-called Slime Pit. Here is an example from one of the bloggers over at Freethought Blogs:
I trust you have seen Stephanie’s post on her harassment… do you think it’s acceptable to be part of a group that does that with impunity?
Here is another example from one of the authors here at Skeptic Ink:
What benefit do you get from posting on the Pit? Is there a point?
Since I’ve been taking heat from both ‘sides’ for posting in that forum, I may as well attempt to provide a cogent response. As it happens, I recently participated in an extended discussion [mp3] of this very issue, along with two others from here at SkepticInk and the host of the Oklahoma Atheists Godcast. We also covered a wide range of other issues, such as the utility of civility and role of self-restraint in internet discourse. Hopefully, in the process we answered some of the questions that we’ve been receiving, along with others worthy of consideration. I look forward to fielding any objections or questions in the comment section here.
Obligatory boilerplate caveat: The opinions expressed in that episode are not necessarily endorsed by the producers of the show, Skeptic Ink, or the dreaded Pit of Slime itself. Please be mindful that an individual’s opinions belong to that individual alone, or to put it another way, groupthink is not a subspecies of freethought.