There are moments when the difference between bloggers who are real writers and who combine amazing talents of observation with careful analysis, thoughtful construction of argument, and clear presentation vs. the rest of us slobs who are just babbling, hoping the commenters will compensate for our slovenliness, becomes painfully obvious.


Today’s Question by Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds is one of those moments.

Go read it, enjoy it, and then later on join me as we drive Stephanie off the island for making the rest of us look bad.

But seriously, I just want to emphasize, because this point will be missed by some: If you are not sure what Stephanie is getting at exactly, or of some aspect of her argument, perhaps an historical detail or whatever, there is a way to manage that.

SLAP HER SILLY WITH YOUR BLOG-FLAME POWERS AND UZ A LOT OF FUNNILY MISPELT WERDs AND GIVE HER SOME OF !!!!!!!!!! AND ?????????? WITH CAPS LOCK ON!!1!!!11!!!

And if that doesn’t work, post your question as a comment on her site. Because stomping your feet and screaming “I’m too eleventyfuckingsupid to get what this bitch is saying…” will make you look … well, eleventy fucking stupid.

So what are you doing here? Go read the post and find out what the Email to Abbie said.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    July 19, 2009

    Thanks! Your link is the best over-view of the recent kerfuffle that I have seen. From previous interaction and a loyal reader of “ERV” (I get some of the science) and as a “Type A Atheist”, I knew that Abbie was right – but it’s nice to see the blog post and comments confirm it!

    Can we call Abbie “PZ’s Pit Bull” now?

  2. #2 Luna_the_cat
    July 19, 2009

    FWIW, I think the criticism of Mooney & Kirshenbaum for their representation of crackergate is quite justified.

    Nevertheless, it didn’t stop there. The easy dismissal of Sheril’s encounters with sexism which came up in the comment thread, and the nasty comments about sexism and feminism which followed and which ERV not only allowed, but participated in — THAT earns ERV a great big “fuck you, asshole” from me.

  3. #3 ERV
    July 19, 2009

    THAT earns ERV a great big “fuck you, asshole” from me.
    No it didnt, apparently.

    You didnt leave that comment on my blog. You didnt participate in the discussion at all.

    Do you find it equally troubling that Isisisisis is now ‘joking’ about misogyny by calling Brayton ‘out’ for his musical preferences? No?

    So dont lie. You dont care.

  4. #4 Rorschach
    July 20, 2009

    and the nasty comments about sexism and feminism which followed and which ERV not only allowed, but participated in — THAT earns ERV a great big “fuck you, asshole” from me.

    You know someone is desperate and out of arguments when they accuse a good-looking woman of being sexist.
    Bruuuuuhahahahahahahaha

    And I saw I’s blog post,still not sure what to make of it.It’s at best a joke gone wrong,or if its meant seriously,its pitifully laughable.

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2009

    Rorschach, grow up and stop acting like a walking stereotype. Luna didn’t accuse Abbie of being anything. She described behavior she didn’t like. If you think her description is wrong, argue with that.

  6. #6 ERV
    July 20, 2009

    Stephanie– Ive read and re-read that thread a million times. And I still think its funny and I still support my commentors pointing out manufactured drama and hypocrisy. There were no ‘nasty comments about sexism and feminism’. Trying to play that card is… manufactured drama and hypocrisy…

    However the two people who have tried to make their points about it (you, becca), I do appreciate your perspectives. But you two are the only ones who have tried to address this like grown-ups.

  7. #7 Jay K.
    July 20, 2009

    I’m not sure where else to make this comment, as so many of those I respect, and follow, tend to make this a common blog.

    The reaction to M&K is something that I have expected for a long time. The simmerings of discord were brewing long before now, with the words of “accomodationists”, “apologists” and another “a” word that I can’t think of right now. The “New Atheists” have been poking a bear with a sharp stick for around 6 months now. I’m one of them. I go after my local media clergy with fervor, and have been essential in getting one of the major sciencephobes to leave this area for more appealing places (Mississippi). The anti-religion atheism has been around a long time, but the acknowledgement that the anti-science people are being enabled by a “middle ground” journalism style has only recently become part of the mainstream discussion.

    That acknowledgment has stung those with the sharpest pens. Atheists have gone after those who write about people with persecution complexes, and it appears that those journalists have learned some traits from those they covered (and covered up for).

    I see M&K’s attempt as a kind of admission. “Hey, we aren’t like them, please let us back into your trust” balanced with a “we are only doing what is best for everyone”.

    But now that this cat is out of the bag, the bear is awake, blah blah blah, it is time to get it under control. No, it is not time to put it back to bed, or back in the sack. It is time to use this momentum to address the apologists and the accomodationists.

    And lets stop creating sides that all think that what M&K did was wrong. Lets join together and tell M&K that they are wrong, and then work together on strategies for reducing the impact of religion on our public education system and our Universities.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2009

    Abbie, I definitely understand that there is room for different perspectives on the mocking. Lots of people are bewildered enough by Chris and Sheril’s behavior in this mess to call their other behavior into question. They felt that these were good people, on their side, and now “not on my side” = “not good people?” I’m simplifying and cutting out some of the specifics about Chris and Sheril’s motivation that lead to the speculations in that thread, but basically, everything is in doubt.

    On the other hand, for the people who don’t feel betrayed or aren’t questioning Chris and Sheril’s motivations, that thread reads very differently. It reads as though people are dismissing the topic, not Chris and Sheril. Someone like Luna who reads it that way is going to be upset, and she doesn’t deserve Rorschach’s dismissal.

    Me? I’m trying very hard to give Chris and Sheril the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t always do so well. So I’m reading that thread both ways, which is a very weird place to be.

  9. #9 Luna_the_cat
    July 20, 2009

    Actually, Luna can clarify.

    ERV: No, I didn’t comment on your thread. I stumbled on it some days after the comments. I did not want to revive the zombie and have lots of shitty comments aimed at me for it by the people perpetuating the nastiness against Kirshenbaum. Maybe I could have emailed you some comments on it; I don’t have your email, nor could I find it with a cursory search. So I didn’t. I left a couple comments lying around other threads to the extent that I found the comments on that post disgusting.

    I was pretty pissed off. Still am.

    Let’s look at why. Here is Sheril Kirshenbaum’s post:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/25/singled-out/

    And Dustin’s comment on it (http://tinyurl.com/m4mz8f):

    Remember a while back when Sheril Kirshenbaum decided to manufacture some internet drama? Some “science hero” apparently made an awkward pass at her and she decided to threaten him with her blog, and then decided to blog about it anyway (but without releasing his name). Mostly this was calculated to stir up a frenzy of third-wave sanctimony and white knighting. It’s as though being at the receiving end of a hamhanded pass diminished her ego just enough that she had to find a group of people to dogpile the issue until she had felt good about herself again. “Eeew. A nerd. Throw rocks at him,” is apparently good framing.

    And your response (http://tinyurl.com/lluqvo):

    Dustin– I dont appreciate you taking that incident lightly. Having an ugly person ask you out is a thoroughly traumatic experience. Ugly AND old AND apparently a NERD, I dont even want to think about it. Im just glad she survived that ordeal.

    …And that is leaving out all the subsequent demeaning posts about SK’s looks, women in general, and “feministas”.

    Ok, you know what? I don’t care if you have an issue with Kirshenbaum’s honesty, her ability as a scientist and/or communicator, or the quality of her responses on and offline. But the shit she writes about in that post is shit that women in science put up with a fuck of a lot, and the fact that you don’t feel you’ve encountered it does not entitle you to belittle it, perpetuate it, condone it, and misrepresent it. The joke between Isis and Brayton is on another level entirely, not even vaguely what you have done here. What went on in that comment thread that I object to was very much meant as vilification and belittlement, and don’t you even dare try to pretend that it wasn’t.

    I’ve sat listening to a grad student present a paper on a signalling pathway in a sysbio conference, and the male grad students and lecturers(!) sitting next to me were busy commenting on whether or not they thought she would be good in bed, and if it would be worth trying to get her drunk that evening. Listening to the paper? Hah! And your response to this, apparently, would be “she should get over it, maybe she should feel complimented as long as they’re good loking”? That is the impression you give. This is the culture your comment thread perpetuates; that getting angry about that kind of behaviour is just being a “drama queen” begging for “whiteknighting”.

    You should damn well be ashamed of that. I don’t care if you feel no solidarity with other women in science in general, much less with Sheril Kirshenbaum. That is entirely your right. But you have absolutely no right to perpetuate and condone the kind of atmosphere and culture that gives rise to those very real incidents and downplays their significance. Do you understand that? Do you get it at all?

    Oh, and Rorshach: I don’t give a flying shit how anybody looks. Try to use the brain end and actually follow the argument, will you? …I’ll start a new bingo card for you, though.

  10. #10 Luna_the_cat
    July 20, 2009

    My last post has been caught in the spam filter for too many links, I suspect. Greg, please delete.

    Let’s try this.

    Actually, Luna can clarify.

    ERV: No, I didn’t comment on your thread. I stumbled on it some days after the comments. I did not want to revive the zombie and have lots of shitty comments aimed at me for it by the people perpetuating the nastiness against Kirshenbaum. Maybe I could have emailed you some comments on it; I don’t have your email, nor could I find it with a cursory search. So I didn’t. I left a couple comments lying around other threads to the extent that I found the comments on that post disgusting.

    I was pretty pissed off. Still am.

    Let’s look at why. Here is Sheril Kirshenbaum’s post:
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/25/singled-out/

    And Dustin’s comment on it:

    Remember a while back when Sheril Kirshenbaum decided to manufacture some internet drama? Some “science hero” apparently made an awkward pass at her and she decided to threaten him with her blog, and then decided to blog about it anyway (but without releasing his name). Mostly this was calculated to stir up a frenzy of third-wave sanctimony and white knighting. It’s as though being at the receiving end of a hamhanded pass diminished her ego just enough that she had to find a group of people to dogpile the issue until she had felt good about herself again. “Eeew. A nerd. Throw rocks at him,” is apparently good framing.

    And your response:

    Dustin– I dont appreciate you taking that incident lightly. Having an ugly person ask you out is a thoroughly traumatic experience. Ugly AND old AND apparently a NERD, I dont even want to think about it. Im just glad she survived that ordeal.

    …And that is leaving out all the subsequent demeaning posts about SK’s looks, women in general, and “feministas”.

    Ok, you know what? I don’t care if you have an issue with Kirshenbaum’s honesty, her ability as a scientist and/or communicator, or the quality of her responses on and offline. But the shit she writes about in that post is shit that women in science put up with a fuck of a lot, and the fact that you don’t feel you’ve encountered it does not entitle you to belittle it, perpetuate it, condone it, and misrepresent it. The joke between Isis and Brayton is on another level entirely, not even vaguely what you have done here. What went on in that comment thread that I object to was very much meant as vilification and belittlement, and don’t you even dare try to pretend that it wasn’t.

    I’ve sat listening to a grad student present a paper on a signalling pathway in a sysbio conference, and the male grad students and lecturers(!) sitting next to me were busy commenting on whether or not they thought she would be good in bed, and if it would be worth trying to get her drunk that evening. Listening to the paper? Hah! And your response to this, apparently, would be “she should get over it, maybe she should feel complimented as long as they’re good loking”? That is the impression you give. This is the culture your comment thread perpetuates; that getting angry about that kind of behaviour is just being a “drama queen” begging for “whiteknighting”.

    You should damn well be ashamed of that. I don’t care if you feel no solidarity with other women in science in general, much less with Sheril Kirshenbaum. That is entirely your right. But you have absolutely no right to perpetuate and condone the kind of atmosphere and culture that gives rise to those very real incidents and downplays their significance. Do you understand that? Do you get it at all?

    Oh, and Rorshach: I don’t give a flying shit how anybody looks. Try to use the brain end and actually follow the argument, will you? …I’ll start a new bingo card for you, though.

  11. #11 Luna_the_cat
    July 20, 2009

    I apologise for the inadvertent double post.

  12. #12 Rorschach
    July 20, 2009

    Luna, you are one angry little bunny,arent you….
    Dont tell me to use my brain when you’re the one arguing from emotional involvement.
    Some issues are just too close to people’s heart to argue rationally on the internet, Ive learned that lesson, maybe you should too.
    Otherwise this sort of yelling and screaming makes you look pretty foolish.

  13. #13 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2009

    Angry little bunny? What’s the matter, Rorschach? She score closer to home than you wanted?

  14. #14 Rorschach
    July 20, 2009

    She score closer to home than you wanted?

    LOL.
    Stephanie,please remember,Im not a scienceblogger,just a bemused reader.So no,this is not about me,got no stake in it at all.But Luna and some others(maybe you too?) should try and think about why they are so heavily emotionally involved in this.

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    July 20, 2009

    Neither Luna nor I are science bloggers, either. Nor does it require a lot of thinking to understand the emotional involvement. Just empathy, which is one of those little things that make us human.

    However, if it’s pure intellectual exercise you’re looking for, you might want to spend some time pondering just what would make you insult someone when you’ve got “no stake” in what’s going on.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    July 20, 2009

    Luna only comments on my blog to torment me regarding my old dead cat named Luna.

  17. #17 becca
    July 21, 2009

    No one here is an “angry bunny”.
    Luna, it is quite clearly indicated, is a cat.
    As for me… “I’m not a malefactor, I’m a lagomorph!…Gratuitous acts of senseless violence are my forte!”

    @Luna- clearly, your instruction for Roscharch was based on the flawed assumption that “the brain end” was discrete from the posterior end… which generally is not the case for individuals with their heads up their asses.
    (as far as the rest of your story… ick at those jackass scientists. I can’t think of anything more coherent to say at this late hour, so I’ll just insert the appropriate sam and max quote…
    “Oohh! Does this mean we get to kick some puffy, white mad scientist butt?”
    “Can’t think of a reason not to”

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    July 21, 2009

    Yay for Sam and Max! Now that’s an angry bunny.

  19. #19 windy
    July 21, 2009

    Rorschach, shut up.

    Luna:

    What went on in that comment thread that I object to was very much meant as vilification and belittlement, and don’t you even dare try to pretend that it wasn’t.

    I’ll borrow your description from Zuska’s blog:
    There WAS a wave of disparaging misogynistic comments, unless you genuinely somehow think that the comments about non-straight women being entitled to “their [mouthbreating] dose of self-righteous indignation” and “feministas” and only reading Kirshenbaum because of how she looked, and “Are you sure this isn’t simply a case of girl jealousy?” were not, in fact, misogynistic and disparaging.

    I think you’re misreading a lot of comments there.

    In that first one you put together words from different people. You could ask Blake Stacey if he meant to disparage lesbians as prone to mouthbreathing indignation. I read the original ‘mouthbreathing’ comment as making fun of the drooling over Sheril, not the indignation. No one actually says they only read Kirshenbaum because of the way she looks. The ‘girl jealousy’ comment was directed at Abbie, not Sheril, and seemed more petty than misogynist.

    I’m not saying there’s nothing in that thread to criticize (and people did make comments to that effect) but I disagree with the automatic ‘misogyny’ labeling and browbeating that some people engage in (not necessarily you Luna).

    In which case I can simply say that we do not all share your cheerfully benign perception of statements like that.

    I’m not sure that the approach of putting the most sinister possible interpretation on others’ statements is necessarily more productive.

  20. #20 ERV
    July 21, 2009

    Luna– But the shit she writes about in that post is shit that women in science put up with a fuck of a lot, and the fact that you don’t feel you’ve encountered it does not entitle you to belittle it, perpetuate it, condone it, and misrepresent it.

    Sheril– 2008: Now a science writer, I’ve just returned from a conference, ecstatic to have met one of my–and everyone else’s–science heroes. He somehow tracks down my number and calls the following week. How would I feel about being “his next mistress?” I remind him I have a popular science blog and warn never to call back.
    Sheril finds man mentally appealing. However, she finds him physically unappealing and thus turns him down when he asks her out. Man looking her up, after the conference, is stalking and sexual harassment, so Sheril threatens him. How dare he ask her out.

    Women do have to deal with bullshit in science. Being asked out, after a conference, isnt one of them.

    Sexual harassment and you.

  21. #21 J. J. Ramsey
    July 21, 2009

    ERV, if you can’t tell the difference between asking someone out and asking someone to be one’s mistress, then I don’t know what to say.

  22. #22 ERV
    July 21, 2009

    JJ– I know lots of people who have alternative sex lifestyles. Even if the ugly nerd in question was not trying to make a joke with mistress, and was completely serious, there is nothing particularly shocking about that. If youre not interested, you laugh and say no. If you are interested, you suggest that he, his wife, and you all go out to dinner.

    Reacting with a threat, I find odd. Like when straight guys threaten gay guys, when theyre mistakenly hit on. *shrug*

  23. #23 Yatzee
    July 21, 2009

    It is interesting that the stiki-wicki whingers in the ongoing discussion are both professedly religious. Thus, more easily offended, less tolerant.

  24. #24 Stephanie Z
    July 21, 2009

    Yatzee, dismissing the arguments of the people you disagree with as whinging without addressing their content doesn’t do much to cut down stereotypes about arrogant atheists either. Abbie already made the moral judgment argument very well. (In fact, I’m envious. I was trying to figure out how to do it myself but never got there.)

  25. #25 Yatzee
    July 21, 2009

    I’m just saying that at the core of this all is the presumption of a particular morality AND the presumption that everyone else shares that exact morality. That is simply something that those of a religious ilk tend to do.

  26. #26 Stephanie Z
    July 21, 2009

    Yatzee, I’m a little sensitized to the issue at the moment, since a presumption of shared morality recently caused some bruised feelings in our local atheist group. The religious angle is certainly a question worth exploring, but I don’t think it warrants an assumption at this point, especially when assumptions are already part of the problem people are arguing about. Make sense?

  27. #27 Luna_the_cat
    July 21, 2009

    …And I’m equally flabbergasted that Abbie is genuinely claiming that she thinks all that was just Kirshenbaum having a hissy fit because she found the guy physically unattractive.

    Yeah. Right. …Crap onna stick, do you even have anything other than your imagination informing you about the guy’s appearance? And that this had anything at all to do with SK’s reaction? ~Or did you just find a really insulting way to interpret SK’s reaction, so it’s cool to run with that?

    I will say one thing; I have poly friends — I’m not one, but I don’t care if other people are as long as they aren’t hurting each other — and I know from my poly friends that they do not have “mistresses”. They talk about “girlfriends” and “boyfriends”. A mistress is one thing — it is a cheat on one’s wife.

    Calling up someone who has not shown a sexual interest in you, skipping the whole part about “I’d like to get to know you better” and running straight to “I want to sleep with you on a regular basis even though I’m married to someone else” — that is not exactly a way to show professional respect. And it fits all too damn well with a pattern of seeing women as being sexual objects before being professional colleagues, and as not worthy of the kind of respect that one gives professional colleagues.

    I’m going to stop here; I don’t think there is a lot I can add at this point without seriously losing my temper at you yet again. I have to say that I do not find your response above to be a something I can respect.

    @becca — I’m sad to say, in the situation I described at that sysbio conference, I was not quick-witted enough to come up with an appropriate reaction that wouldn’t have caused a lot of audience disruption. It caught me off balance.

    (Your point re. Rorshach is well taken.)

    @windy — I did not mean to imply that all those statements were by one person — that paragraph was in fact meant to be a compilation of the various statements found on the thread. If it had all been coming from one person it would have been easier to ignore. But without going into detail of every statement, just take the one about “girl jealousy” — yes, it was pettiness aimed at ERV; do you think that makes it less sexist?

    Why “girl” jealousy?

    The fact is, there is this huge cultural tradition of calling various phenomena “girl” versions in order to emphasize how trivial, petty or unimportant they are; if it were just about prefessional jealousy or rivalry, why not call it just, say, “jealousy”? The phrase “girl jealousy” is deliberately used to imply it’s a petty catfight about something like looks. That isn’t a subtle misogyny, to you?

    Yeah, the problem is that sometimes it is hard to pin down what exactly it is in various statements and attitudes and turns of phrase that conveys contempt for women and/or feminists, so it is very easy to accuse people of being oversensitive — and no doubt, it is also too easy to be oversensitive at times, you are right about that. But nevertheless, I think you can actually see where the complaints about that thread came from. And Abbie could have stomped it. And she didn’t.

    @Greg — I’m sure you have it backwards. You just post about your poor dead Luna in order to torment me. :P

  28. #28 Luna_the_cat
    July 21, 2009

    Yatzee, it is no secret that Isis is religious, but do you have evidence that Zuska is religious? Or that this has informed her attitude?

    What about me? Do you make that judgement about me? Why?

    I’m especially curious about that last point, given that I am not in fact religious.

  29. #29 windy
    July 21, 2009

    I did not mean to imply that all those statements were by one person

    I didn’t say you did, but in your first example you took a sentence from Blake and inserted a word that didn’t belong there.

    the one about “girl jealousy” — yes, it was pettiness aimed at ERV; do you think that makes it less sexist?

    Er, because it was in response to ERV joking about ‘pouting’ with other ‘female fans’. I think associating that with girlish behavior is much less of an offense than bringing it up three effing years later!

    But nevertheless, I think you can actually see where the complaints about that thread came from.

    Yes, from blowing some juvenile jokes out of all proportion, IMO.

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