Last modified on September 22, 2019, at 17:59

PZ Myers on the death of Robin Williams

In August 2014, very shortly after the suicide of the popular, American comedian/actor Robin Williams, the atheist PZ Myers made a callous and socially/emotionally tone-deaf blog post on the matter compounded by him subsequently indicating in the blog post comment section that he should have been "more rude".[1]

PZ Myer's blog post on the death of Robin Williams

To see the PZ Myers' blog post about the suicide of Robin Williams, please see:

An excerpt of PZ Myers' blog post is given below:

[Robin Williams'] sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people. I mean, really: young 18 year old black man gunned down for walking in the street vs. 63 year old white comedian killing himself? Which of those two stories gives you an excuse to play heart-warming and funny video clips non-stop on your 24 hour news channel? [...]

Boy, I hate to say it, but it sure was nice of Robin Williams to create such a spectacular distraction. No one wants to think the police might be untrustworthy.

And think of the politicians! Midterm elections are coming up. Those are important! So people like Barack Obama need to be able to show their human side and connect with the real concerns of the American people by immediately issuing a safe, kind statement about Robin Williams, while navigating the dangerous shoals of police brutality and black oppression by avoiding them.[2]

Public reaction to Myers' post on the suicide of Robin Williams

Atheist Jerry Coyne's reaction to PZ Myers' commentary on the death of Robin Williams

Fellow atheist and evolutionist Jerry Coyne wrote in response to Myers' commentary on the suicide of Robin Williams:

This is one of the most contemptible and inhumane things I've ever seen posted by a well-known atheist. It reeks of arrogance, of condescension, and especially of a lack of empathy for those who loved and admired Williams not because they knew him, but because he brought them happiness and made them think.[3]

Myers was angry because he felt that the news of Robins Williams death was crowding out the news story of the African-American Michael Brown who was shot by a police officer (a race riot subsequently ensued).[4]

Christian commentary on PZ Myers' reaction to the death of Robin Williams commentary on PZ Myers' reaction to the death of Robin Williams

PZ Myers

An excerpt from Bob Cesca's at the about PZ Myers' commentary on the suicide of Robin Williams:

Myers went on to include a racist Facebook post about Ferguson and suggested that the poster is probably a fan of Mork & Mindy and Williams' film What Dreams May Come.

How the hell is it Robin Williams' fault that the news media covered his suicide perhaps with more attention than the terrible events in Ferguson? More importantly, in what twisted universe can a suicide precipitated by depression and perhaps addiction be described as a "distraction?"

Of course it isn't, but to even partially blame such a thing on Williams is deliberately caustic for the sake of being caustic. There's no evidence that the news media gave preferential treatment to the Williams story due to any racial bias or for the sake of distracting from Ferguson, any more than, say, President Obama ordered airstrikes in Iraq to distract from Benghazi. Speaking of which, to attack Obama of all people for issuing a statement about Williams before a statement Brown due to political expedience is shockingly ignorant. Inserting a media conspiracy theory into the mix is even worse. It dishonors both the mourning of Williams and the mourning of Brown, transforming the dual events into a personal hobby horse -- a distraction in and of itself.

I'm not aware of any serious voices other than Myers who have so crudely shoehorned the coverage of these events into a one-on-one competition.[5]

Friendly Atheist blog reaction to PZ Myers' commentary on the death of Robin Williams

Myers was criticized by one of the bloggers at Hemant Mehta's blog The Friendly Atheist due to his "his heartless, classless body blow to the still-warm corpse of Robin Williams."[4] In addition, Myers' hypocrisy was pointed out as he had made no blog posts previously about the Michael Brown matter and additionally Myers a day earlier, made "a substance-free 15-word post whose main attraction was a photo of a cute bulldog puppy."[4]

Richard Dawkins' Twitter post on PZ Myers' commentary on the death of Robin Williams

See also