PZ Myers Swarmed by Kliqueons!!!11!!

Somebody is wrong on the Internet again, and it might be interesting enough to check out. It involved PZ Myers, Isis the Scientist, terrifiedtabetic, Stephanie Zvan, a few commenters, and it is all about Peter Watts getting beat up by border guards while crossing into the United States. I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure not everyone is aware that this was the Canadian border.

So this Watts guy was arrested and assaulted by US border guards at the Toronto border. I’ve been to that border. It’s tough. A lot of science fiction writers try to sneak in and out across that border.

At some later time, an outraged PZ Myers wrote a post about this outrage.

There is no defense of their actions. Watts is a big nerd, not a violent thug, and any provocation he might have offered would have been physically non-threatening, and the border guards should be constrained by the law and by an expectation of civility.

Then a some bloggers got mad at PZ because PZ’s defense of a privileged white d00d was … whatever whatever:

I am completely unsurprised that border guards would rough someone up and treat them disrespectfully. I am also unsurprised that another arrogant white dude seems shocked that people are mistreated by law enforcement officials.

[pull my finger]

No wai! A white writerly d00d was disrespected by the police??? For no good reason??? I am totes writing my congressperson to complain that the border patrol is wasting time and energy that they could be using to rough up dark-skinned folk!!!

[Zuska]

Many of us in the blogosphere quietly chuckled because this thing that happened to Watts, horrible and unjustifiable as it is, happens to brown people all the time.

[Isis]

It cracks me up when privileged white Ivory tower dudes get all outraged over treatment that the poor and nonwhite experience with frequency

[drugmonkey]

and so on.

(As an aside I find Isis and Drugmonkey’s sense of humor inappropriate, but I suppose that is part of their on line persona. Maybe someday they will get their foot stuck in a hole and break their legs like an old horse. HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!! But I digress.)

The best commentary I’ve seen on this so far is that by Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds. Stephanie blogged about this several days ago but was not fallen upon by the Kliqueons, and in this regard she notes:

…because I have close ties to the online science fiction community (and Dr. Watts participated in last year’s run-up to ScienceOnline), this was the opportunity that got pushed across my screen. I grabbed it, hoping to push it into another sphere and make people who haven’t been paying attention as outraged as I am. And yes, I looked at it and chuckled to myself, “Yeah. Just try to do your oh-they-must-have-been-asking-for-it-cause-they’re-somehow-scary dance on this one, jerks. Time to face up to the fact that this problem can bite you too.”

I totally agree with Zuska, Isis and Drugmonkey that when a nasty thing happens to a white blond girl or a middle class white d00d or whatever, and that get all newsed-up, but when a similar thing happens to anyone of color, less privilege, etc. etc., and that gets all ignored, there is injustice. This is serious, it is not something to laugh about, and it is not something to take lightly.

When I first read about this incident, here, I did not think this was about privilege or race. Certainly, that is now how anyone was characterizing it at the time. Nor should talking or writing about it have been restricted or seen negatively because of issues of privilege or race. Personally, I saw this as an issue of increased bully behavior by the usual suspects (INS, first responders, other police, etc.) in the wake of the Post 911 New World Order in which security trumps civility, and anything that happens even near a border is a security issue.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that is how most people see this particular incident.

Stepping back and observing this whole internet maneno from a distance, as objectively as I possibly can, I think this may be a case of Kliqueons not having anything better to do, and needing some blog traffic. It does not matter that it is unfair to accuse PZ of being insensitive to issues he is not even addressing in a particular post. It does not matter if there really may be a real issue here (having to do with OTT Post-911 security) that is totally unrelated to what they are whinging about. It does not matter that voices of dissent in this unfair world lose their credibility when they scream at windmills. All that matters is the hit count.

Or am I giving the Kliqueons a hard time for no good reason? They are well meaning, after all. They just are not very good at it. Not very good at making allies, not very good at making their point. That may be because they live in such a privileged world that they lose track of what the real problems are. Or perhaps because they spend too much time ….

hanging around with goats.

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    December 17, 2009

    Crossing out of the U.S., actually, which makes the stop rather strange.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    It makes it almost inconceivable. Blogworthy even.

  3. #3 becca
    December 17, 2009

    Oh come now, you don’t think someone like PZ has an easier time empathizing when ‘a big nerd’ gets roughed up? Even *I* have an easier time empathizing with a big nerd compared to a violent thug. And I am a violent thug!

    Although, this is a useful post. I didn’t realize shenanigans over at the methane production plant had primed PZ to feel attacked- Isis really didn’t seem to be doing so from her post at all, and his reaction seemed hypersensitive (though I *did* presume there was more to it at first, but since nothing was linked I thought maybe this was just backchannel chat coming to a boil or something).

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    December 17, 2009

    Becca, of course PZ has an easier time empathizing with a nerd. So do plenty of other people. That’s exactly why it’s useful, if distasteful. It’s using people’s weaknesses against them.

    And I so hope nothing politically important happens to me. I can only imagine the pressure I’d feel to sit there and evoke sympathy while the spotlight was on. Blech.

  5. #5 TTabetic
    December 17, 2009

    I think you’re missing the point here, greg. I dig PZ. He’s a good guy, fighting a good fight. He is also susceptible to all the same biases we have growing up in this country.

    The line that got me—about Watts being a big nerd rather than some thug—is striking. I don’t doubt that PZ would get his knickers in a bunch had the news reported a “thug” getting roughed up by TSA.

    But PZ has a huge audience. He has a real opportunity to affect others. He’s not only fair game but necessary game. If I had seen this same report in the mainstream media I would have been outraged. As it is, I’m only perturbed and amused than even someone as aware as PZ can fall for the same shit as everyone else.

    What PZ implied, though he likely didn’t mean to, was that it would be perfectly understandable for Watts to get the business if he had been “just some thug”. That’s a problem.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    December 17, 2009

    Of course, I should note that finding it easier to sympathize with someone who has something big, like nerddom, in common with you doesn’t make it impossible to sympathize with those who don’t.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    December 17, 2009

    TT, I adore you too, but I think you got tripped up by your style this time around.

  8. #8 Katharine
    December 17, 2009

    What vaguely pisses me off about this is that in reaction to PZ making a legitimately pissed off comment about this, Zuska, Isis, and drugmonkey were all PPPFFFFFHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA LOL A WHITE GUY GETS WHAT’S COMING TO HIM HAR HAR.

    That kind of vengeance-y sort of attitude doesn’t exactly help. I don’t care if they’re brown or white, people aren’t supposed to whack the shit out of other people.

  9. #9 Zuska
    December 17, 2009

    Katherine, you may want to have a checkup on your reading comprehension skills, if that’s what you got out of what I wrote. Try again.

  10. #10 Katharine
    December 17, 2009

    Zuska, how is “No wai! A white writerly d00d was disrespected by the police??? For no good reason??? I am totes writing my congressperson to complain that the border patrol is wasting time and energy that they could be using to rough up dark-skinned folk!!!” not somehow redolent with ignoring the fact that it doesn’t actually matter what color they are, and that I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter to PZ either?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    TT: [5] “The line that got me—about Watts being a big nerd rather than some thug—is striking.”

    That is striking and I think it was worth reacting to it.

    “What PZ implied, though he likely didn’t mean to, ”

    Then he didn’t imply it. His words invoked perhaps.

    “it would be perfectly understandable for Watts to get the business if he had been “just some thug”. That’s a problem.”

    I’m having a hard time parsing this. White privilage vs. brown thug? Is that how it is? Maybe instead of living near a city full of thugs you should try living IN one for ten years or so! The signals you seem so interested in are really of very little interest to the cops on the beat. I don’t think it works the way you think it works.

    But, sure, it might have been better for PZ to say this differently. The point should not be that this guy was not “a thug” (not saying what I think that means to PZ or anyone) but just that he was not doing anything wrong.

    I’m sticking with my story … this is more relevant to post 911 hypersensitivity and cop-worship, which is far more dangerous for the non-white and the non-privileged, expecailly but not exclusively “Mohammad,” than to thuginness or brownness. Not that those are not important, just not so much here.

    I’ll buy that the Klique is doing a public service rather than just managing the goat herd when I go back in a time machine and see you’all jumping on your own for the same exact sort of thing. If you analyze every word Abel said of Eve Carson, for instance, we may have some thoughtful uniformity going on.

    It was a nice try, and the point you are trying to make is a valid and important one. But you really did mug an innocent, yet privileged, bystander to do it, and thus … you’ve sullied yourself with goat juice.

  12. #12 MJ
    December 17, 2009

    Agreed that the point is not that the guy’s not a ‘thug’. Agreed that the point is that he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    But given that there are always people who say “he must’ve been doing *something* wrong” posts of this sort (the one PZ’s doing), often defensively try to provide *evidence* that someone didn’t do something wrong/ wrong enough to warrant such treatment.

    That someone is ‘not brown’ is NOT evidence that they were innocent. But that someone is ‘not a thug’ (i.e. literally not a thug) is evidence that they weren’t doing anything wrong. So the principle of charity, one would think, compels us to interpret PZ as meaning that the victim was literally not a thug.

    Where does race and privilege play in here exactly?

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    MJ: That’s kinda how I read it.

  14. #14 ERV
    December 17, 2009

    I wrote about something similar happening to a Chinese PhD last May.

    The SciBlog short-bus completely ignored what happened to him (he ended up being fined $500, 17 days in jail), so I can only assume the short-bussers only care about dark/brown people, and dont give a flying fuck about dirty yellow Chinese d00ds.

  15. #15 JohnV
    December 17, 2009

    @MJ

    It’s scienceblogs, race and privilege are always a factor here :p

    @Greg

    After reading about this a few times, its the “he’s a big nerd not some thug” line. If the statement was “he’s we’re a star fleet pin, not a turban” it wouldn’t be acceptable (sorry that’s the first nerd reference that popped into my head).

    I haven’t done a border crossing to canada since 2001 so I dunno how things changed, but the guards on both sides of the niagara falls crossing were generally pleasent to deal with when I was there for college. I think typically the american guards didn’t want anything to do with the drunk college kids staggering across the foot bridge so we get off easy :P

    Apparently we looked neither nerdy nor thuggish enough to warrent abuse.

  16. #16 ERV
    December 17, 2009

    Oh, nevermind– Dude looks dark brownish. I guess the short-bus doesnt really care about this issue, their bitching is just lip-service.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Curious as to what Peter Watts looks like, I typed “Peter Watts” into Google Images, and a lot of different people popped up. So I typed in “Peter Watts Science Fiction” to narrow down the search, and this is the first hit:

    http://www.rifters.com/real/banana.jpg

    I can see why the border guards could not keep their hands off him. He’s kinda cute.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    How come nobody is commenting over here:

    http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2009/12/tell-me-political-story.html

    Scared?

  19. #19 ERV
    December 17, 2009

    How come nobody is commenting over here:

    http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2009/12/tell-me-political-story.html
    Because we are sexist.

  20. #20 charles johnson
    December 17, 2009

    “That kind of vengeance-y sort of attitude doesn’t exactly help. I don’t care if they’re brown or white, people aren’t supposed to whack the shit out of other people.

    Posted by: Katharine | December 17, 2009 6:13 PM”

    That’s certainly true. FWIW, I quit reading Zuska’s blog long ago, and seeing what she said here doesn’t surprise me at all. I quit reading her blog in the first place because it was relentlessly hateful and bitter.

  21. #21 jj
    December 17, 2009

    BTW folks, thug is not a race, maybe you guys should reconsider who is racist? If in your mind *insert race here*= thug, then maybe there’s a problem with you. ‘Cause I know plenty of thuggish white males ages 18-35.
    And what,only white guys can look nerdy? Ever heard of Steve Urkel (sp?)?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Urkel

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Charles, I understand what you are saying. But, it should also be noted that of all of ERV’s short-bussers (and I’m still giggling at that term) it could be said that Zuska is the most intellectually consistent and thoughtful. Zuska is a bona-fide feminist and knows how to … feminize.

  23. #23 becca
    December 17, 2009

    MJ- because we aren’t talking about who’s *literally* not a thug. We’re talking about who does not *appear* to be a thug, which is all the border guards had to go on. I can *literally* be a violent thug; however if I hadn’t done anything wrong in that particular incidence, PZ’s argument would still apply to me in that there’s no reason for the police to view me as physically threatening. Cops attacking me would look like nothing other than power-hungry bullying goatfuckers.
    Yet a large brown skinned male, *making the exact same protest I would make* could be seen by many cops as ‘physically threatening’. So one could excuse the cops as a bit paranoid, but not pure power-hungry goatfuckers.
    In this context, that’s how I’m privileged.

    All PZ was doing was arguing against a hypothetical person who IS a racist. As well as an apologist for bully cops. But the way he did so demonstrated he was making an implicit assumption about criminality and appearance- which, unfortunately, in our society *does* have racial connections.

    @StephanieZ- and that, is why you aren’t Nellie Bly. Which is good, cause I’d worry about you if you were.

    Greg’s link is an excellent example of accuracies of racial profiling. If that isn’t a thug, I don’t know who is!!!

    ERV- anyone who knows their history should be MOST outraged at a Chinese person being hassled upon trying to enter the US. Thugs… prostitutes… and the Chinese!

  24. #24 Oran Kelley
    December 17, 2009

    Who the fuck are these people who think they can make light of this situation because it happened to someone else? Do THEY have any experience with police beating the living bejeezus out of them and dumping them in the street? Has this happened to someone in their family? Did they grow up in an inner city neighborhood where the only thing worse than the gangs was the cops coming on a call?

    Somehow I doubt it. Somehow I think these are a bunch of privileged, upper-middle class folk who are trying to hitch their pathetic little coboosi to the oppressed people train.

    All this bullshit all went down in the humanities 15 years ago–this game is OLD OLD OLD.

    I, for one, DID grow up in a ghetto. I did have family members beaten by the police & unjustly imprisoned. I grew up in a household where I was told to be afraid of the police. One of the stories my mother used to tell me was about being thrown in jail on New Year’s Eve for questioning a cop, being separated from my Dad (also arrested, sent to a precinct as far away as possible from my Mom) who had all the money, and getting a loan from a prostitute to get a cab home the next morning. My mom said once she was in the precinct she’d rather have been in the holding pen than out of it.

    This is just part of a long family history of run-ins with officious, high handed, and even barbaric policemen, which includes long hospitalizations, attempted suicides, and earned and unearned prison terms.

    I can’t imagine my mother being the least bit concerned to gloat over this happening to someone who can call some attention to it. And frankly, I’d like to spit on anyone using experiences like my mother’s as some kind of trump card for themselves. FUCK YOU, Zuska, Isis and drugmonkey. You wanna score some PC points, don’t do it speaking on behalf of anyone else. If someone who has been there wants to say something like this fine. If not, quit trying to trade on someone else’s misery to make yourselves feel good.
    You people are nothing but different versions of the cops.

  25. #25 Alex
    December 17, 2009

    What annoys me, is that the “Kliqueons”, in their relentless quest to turn every issue into a race issue, are themselves guilty of what they say others are. I mean, PZ speaks out about some white guy getting attacked, and apparently that’s out of bounds because it happens to black guys far more. Earth to Kliqueons: what the border guards did is wrong no matter the colour of the person they did it to. If you restrict people (or at least white people) to speaking out against injustices suffered by black people, then you yourselves are guilty of racism towards white people.

    Oh, and PZ was called a “privileged white Ivory tower dude” by drugmonkey? Realy? Anti-intellectualism? The “Ivory Tower folk” can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a non-privileged poor black person, so they shouldn’t complain when a white person suffers an injustice, is that right?

  26. #26 MonkeyPox
    December 17, 2009

    Alex, are you being willfully ignorant? Where did anyone say that it’s OK for this to happen to Watts or that talking about it it out of bounds?

    PZ *implied* that part of the outrage of Watts getting abused was that he appears nerdy and non-threatening, not like a thug, which in our culture carries a strong stereotype of an young black male. To deny this requires wearing lead blinders.

  27. #27 Alex
    December 17, 2009

    All PZ was doing was arguing against a hypothetical person who IS a racist. As well as an apologist for bully cops. But the way he did so demonstrated he was making an implicit assumption about criminality and appearance- which, unfortunately, in our society *does* have racial connections.

    Wait, so the argument is that since racist people associate “thug” with black people, then PZ must’ve been doing the same? Way to assume your conclusion!

  28. #28 PalMD
    December 17, 2009

    Srsly, could you be any more clueless? Do you think me, you, or PZ are immune from the smog of assumptions we breathe in everyday?

  29. #29 bioephemera
    December 17, 2009

    Off-topic, perhaps, but am I really the only one who finds the term “short-bussers” to be offensive? It’s pretty much equivalent to “retards.” “Kliqueons” at least doesn’t casually disrespect any third parties (people with disabled siblings, children, etc.).

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Kliqueon is underappreciated as a term. I doubt most people get all the nuances intended. The nuances are just sitting there waiting to be appreciated.

    Some of them are quite complementary, by the way.

  31. #31 ERV
    December 17, 2009

    It’s pretty much equivalent to “retards.
    Pretty much.

  32. #32 Katharine
    December 17, 2009

    Oh man, cue shitstorm.

  33. #33 Katharine
    December 17, 2009

    “it would be perfectly understandable for Watts to get the business if he had been “just some thug”. That’s a problem.”

    I’m having a hard time parsing this. White privilage vs. brown thug? Is that how it is? Maybe instead of living near a city full of thugs you should try living IN one for ten years or so! The signals you seem so interested in are really of very little interest to the cops on the beat. I don’t think it works the way you think it works.

    But, sure, it might have been better for PZ to say this differently. The point should not be that this guy was not “a thug” (not saying what I think that means to PZ or anyone) but just that he was not doing anything wrong.”

    Greg, am I right in assuming you automatically think ‘thug’ means black guy? Because that’s what I’m kind of interpreting from this. That’s a racist assumption in itself.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Katherine, no that is not what I assume at all. That is an assumption that I am questioning. Perhaps clumsily. See the question marks?

  35. #35 Katharine
    December 17, 2009

    Hokay, I see. Just checking.

  36. #36 Sean
    December 17, 2009

    If I was a blogosphere director, I would have Isis magically appear and chime in with her catchphrase “Shut Your Damned Piehole” right about…here.

    Oh come on… That would be cool!

  37. #37 peter
    December 17, 2009

    I dunno, maybe it’s the movies I grew up with, but the word ‘thug’ tends to imply a mob heavy to me. though if you want to get all etymological about it, thugee were from southern asia/india, (at least as far as my gunga din memory gets me…)

    someday I’ll pass along all my fun stories of the canadian border crossing and the difference in the two border staffs. really quite dramatic. though it seems to depend on what coast you’re on as to who comes out badly in the story.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    When I was a kid, we crossed the border to go to Montreal (for fun, or to visit my uncle) a lot and the US side was always far more interested in us than the Canadian. Flying to Toronto now and then has always felt like going to somewhere in the US, but I’ve not been there since 911. Crossing here in Minnesota is run of the mill in both directions but there are no thugs in Minnesota. None. Whatever a thug is.

  39. #39 Stephanie Z
    December 17, 2009

    Yes, where you grow up does make a difference in what you picture when you’re talking about a thug. Try a trailer park in an almost all-white exurb.

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Which is very close to where I live now. Where I grew up “thug” would have never meant “black” or any other non-”white” and I in fact have a hard time personally linking “thug” with race or ethnicity. It just doesn’t do anything to me.

    I appreciate what people are saying about breathing in bias and all that, but if the simple truth is that we are not breathing in the same biases, then that truth has to be dealt with, or more apropos the present situation, ignored at the risk of your attempts at good work being ignored because you just plain get it wrong.

    PZ is from the Pacific Northwest. To him, “thug” is probably “bigfoot” or something.

  41. #41 aratina cage
    December 17, 2009

    Oh Boy! A post about Kliqueons again!

    Maybe someday they will get their foot stuck in a hole and break their legs like an old horse. HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!!

    I feel so guilty for laughing at that. I knew a wonderful, friendly, beautiful horse once who died a rather horrible death because of something like that, and it was not funny at all. Of course, that horse was not a Kliqueon (or was he? He did like to nip the other horses when they got out of line).

    That may be because [the Kliqueons] live in such a privileged world that they lose track of what the real problems are.

    Oooooh! ZING!

    But seriously, I do recall PZ blogging about OTT authoritarianism affecting minorities and White supremacy both in the USA and around the world a few times. It does come up when discussing religious violence, you know, often the kind perpetuated by White supremacists and their allies. PZ seems to be a really caring person for the most part.

  42. #42 Azkyroth
    December 17, 2009

    “What PZ implied, though he likely didn’t mean to, ”

    Then he didn’t imply it. His words invoked perhaps.

    No, no, not “invoked.” “Provoked.” PZ *provoked* the Kliqueons. What was PZ’s post doing in that part of the internet in those shoes if that’s not what he meant, huh?

  43. #43 becca
    December 17, 2009

    LMAO
    Urbandictionary definitions of thug are awesome. I have learned that a thug is:
    *You dont have to be a stereotypical “gangsta” to be a thug, a skater can be a thug, a nerd can be a thug, a hick can be a thug, a prep can be a thug, and old ass man can be a thug! So forget your stupid fucking stereotypes and thinking that everybody has to fit into one group, and be labeled.
    *Someone who had nothing, and was nothing, and became something.
    *The English word thug, meaning a violent criminal, comes from the Hindi word thag (and originally from the Sanskrit word sthaga), meaning a thief or villain. Originally these gangs committed murder following precise religious rites to honour Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction.
    *a thug has a below average iq and likes to take part in illegal activity such as, drug dealing/use, fighting, killing, etc.
    *1. People that use violence and behave poorly towards other people.
    2. Another description of the average Republican.
    3. George W. Bush.

    *Originally a reference to a violent group/cult in India but etymologically anglicized to refer to a brutal criminal in general for most of the latter 19th and 20th century. The word was adopted/co-opted by the American Rap and Hip Hop music scene in the late 20th century generally defining a tough anti-hero with criminal involvement.
    Recently the white conservative movement in the U.S.A. has adopted it as a substantive replacement for the vulgar and toxic term “nigger” which is no longer safe for use in most media channels.

    WOW. Words always mean so much more than I think they do. Can somebody add the pacific northwest sasquatch definition for us?

  44. #44 Coturnix
    December 17, 2009

    Where one grew up certainly has an effect. In my mind a thug is not just certainly white, but also wears a uniform, carries a gun and a long black baton. And beats up innocent citizens for shits and giggles, protected by the state.

  45. #45 Zuska
    December 17, 2009

    Yes, BioE, I’m with you on this one. ERV feeling like it’s just fine to use terms like “short-bussers” and that it is appropriate and acceptable to insult people in a discussion by calling them retards…well, it offends me but it does not surprise me because that’s just about the level of discourse I’ve come to expect from ERV. Others who are older and should know better ought to speak up – like the blog owner, maybe???

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Zuska, I do not like the “retarded” or “X-tard” references at all, and I’ve been pretty tough on the so called “Evolved home schoolers” who use this construction all the time and more or less made most of them go away.

    A lot of images went through my mind when I saw “short bus” and I had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary (which is apparently getting a lot of work on this thread, see also my link to it for “Goatfucker”)

    I like ERV a lot. I think she’s straight-up, not full of shit, and works well with others. Having said that, I won’t be using the phrase “short bus” myself. I doubt ERV cares even a little if I do or not.

    But I have to admit there was a moment when I was figuring this all out, Zuska, when I saw all the Kliqueons (for some I had to imagine what they look like) all together on a short bus. I do a project most years in the “inner city” which involves a “short bus” that brings the kids to help us with an excavation and I imagined you’all coming to help with digging our site. You all had normal sized heads but little kid bodies and were each carrying your own Marshalltown trowel and very eager to help. I am still chuckling.

    Having said that, I don’t subscribe to the Kliqueon Kode of telling people how to address comments on their site. I’m thinking of the time you’all jumped on Phil Plait … yes, those remarks (about Sheril) were horrible, but Phil was being raked over the same coals tha the assholes who made the inappropriate comments were being raked over. It is simply not possible for a blogger who has a fairly open comment policy to respond appropriately (or sometimes at all) to shitty comments, or to respond instantly and as others might like him or her to. (NOt that ERV’s bus is in anything like the same league) People just have to be growd up about what they read.

    So yes, I agree with you that “short bus” is icky. But I’m not going to tell ERV to not say it. She’s a big girl.

    (well, actually, I have no idea how big she is, having never seen her next to a scale. For all I know she’s one or two feet tall.)

  47. #47 Greg Laden
    December 17, 2009

    Coturnix, I also have that image, but lucky for me it comes from media, indirectly. But I think of your mom now and then. (You should repost those)

  48. #48 becca
    December 17, 2009

    Yeah Zuska, I’m with you on the detestable nature of the short bus comments, but could we not be ageist on top of things? I’m probably younger than ERV. If (well, let’s be honest, when) I say something that makes an ass of myself on a comparable level, I’d like it if someone called me out on it as a fellow human being rather than a little kid who ought to be scolded by the big blog daddy (and can I get a collective EWWW at the thought of Greggie as a scolding big blog daddy?)

    That said, Greg, if you’re gonna take the time to address ERV’s comment at all, don’t put in the the seemingly innocent category of “not something I’d say” and leave it at that. It is what it is- hypocritical asinine immature attention whoring that also happens to sound bigoted. With an undercurrent of deep chocolatey irony to make it almost barely, but not quite, palatable.
    ERV, I’m telling you this as a fellow human being- you’re insults can get much more clever than that and random folks happening upon it might not get the irony, so you might want to consider another way of putting it, if the feuding is so important that you need to comment at all.
    Note for the record: I’m not trying to claim any superior maturity or moral superiority, I just am pretty sure ERV is capable of better.

  49. #49 Roadtripper
    December 17, 2009

    posted by MonkeyPox: PZ *implied* that part of the outrage of Watts getting abused was that he appears nerdy and non-threatening, not like a thug, which in our culture carries a strong stereotype of an young black male. To deny this requires wearing lead blinders.

    I call Total and Complete Bullshit.

    What do you mean ‘our culture’ you sniveling ass-hat? I grew up dealing with thugs, except back then the word was ‘white trash.’ The only one with lead blinders is yourself, if you can’t see that not everyone shares your ridiculous assumptions about race, culture and stereotypes.

    Rt

  50. #50 William
    December 18, 2009

    An neutral reader might take PZ’s words “Watts is a big nerd, not a violent thug, and any provocation he might have offered would have been physically non-threatening,” to infer how Watt’s was likely to behave, rather than how he appeared, (intellectually v physically). The Kliqueon swarm is all based on uncharitable supposition and inherent bias.

    Must be a slow news day on Planet Kliqueon.

  51. #51 Richard Eis
    December 18, 2009

    Funnily enough I read the thug comment as being that the border guards had charged him for assault and then beat him. Which was laughable because he was no threat due to being a big nerd rather than a thug. In other words this was an issue of innappropriate use of violence, nothing more.
    Pointing out that this is normal behaviour shows just how bad the problem is, that it is taken as normal that anything less than unquestioning obedience is met with violence and coverups.

    As far as i’m concerned, dragging race into it was borderline trolling and thread hijacking.

  52. #52 Jefrir
    December 18, 2009

    Count me in with the WTFs over thug being racist. The first image I get from that word is a large, muscly, white dude. In fact, I’m more likely to think of a white supremacist than a black guy.

  53. #53 Christophe Thill
    December 18, 2009

    Quick comments:
    - “Isis’ sense of humor inappropriate”? I thought she used a rather serious tone and preferred to speak her mind instead of using the flamethrower. But perhaps you meant Zuska?
    - I had no idea that “thug” could be associated to a specific skin color (apart from its Indian original context). To me, it’s more a matter of uniform.

  54. #54 D. C. Sessions
    December 18, 2009

    Where does race and privilege play in here exactly?

    In your assumption that “thug” is synonymous with “brown.”

    There’s a word for this.

    FWIW, I read that as a statement about Dr. Watts’ character: he’s not in the practice of going physical, so the charge of “assault on an officer” is pre-emptively addressed.

  55. #55 Treppenwitz
    December 18, 2009

    Nobody has unnecessarily dragged sexual preference into this yet. Clearly you are all homophobes.

  56. #56 Stephanie Z
    December 18, 2009

    And when there’s an actual white supremacist hanging around, where is everyone?

  57. #57 becca
    December 18, 2009

    Watching it being handled perfectly well. Also, wondering who opened the whackaloon barrel.

  58. #58 ERV
    December 18, 2009

    Oh bawww bawww bawww! Poor babby Zuska! Babby Zuska doesnt mind repeatedly accusing clearly non-sexist/non-racist people of being ‘RAAAAACIST! NAAAAAAZI! SEEEEEEXIST!’, but call a stupid person ‘stupid’, and babby Zuska falls on her fainting sofa!

    Reminds me of Casey Luskin.

    Stupid shit has no problem accusing scientists of being Nazis and ‘hating freedom’ and all sorts of bullshit, but call him an IDiot or their ‘evidence’ The Arguments Regarding Design, and suddenly the POS is oh-so-concerned about ‘CIVILITY!!’.

    I fully appreciate the patience of individuals who can take the high road when dealing with these kinds of people. I take the low road. If this surprises you, you havent read ERV in the past 3 years. *shrug*

  59. #59 Sean
    December 18, 2009

    Thanks Stephanie Z,
    I have absolutely no idea how to respond to that paranoid racist. To me he sounds a bit like Charles Manson, all apocalyptic race war and all.
    Scary. But really pathetic too.

  60. #60 Sean
    December 18, 2009

    I am getting comment submission errors on that thread…I wonder if any will show up.

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    December 18, 2009

    Sean, I don’t see any comments that are held, so I’m not sure what is wrong with commenting.

  62. #62 Sean
    December 18, 2009

    Thanks Greg,
    It finally went through. I think it may be a problem on my end.

  63. #63 Ostracod
    December 18, 2009

    Why do the Kliqueons spell funny?

  64. #64 Elizabeth
    December 18, 2009

    A question for everyone on this discussion:

    In Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, federal authorities have charged three local cops with hate crimes. They stand accused of beating a Mexican immigrant to death.

    Is anyone arguing about “short buses”, the meaning of “thug”, or these other issues also unconcerned about this case? Would any two of you stand on opposite sides of the argument that something is wrong if cops can beat some guy to death because he is Mexican?

    Any takers? ….. No? …. I did not think so.

    It might have been nice to have spent some of this energy on something constructive.

  65. #65 ERV
    December 18, 2009

    It might have been nice to have spent some of this energy on something constructive.
    I think publicly denouncing the idiotic behavior of a group of dipshits continually screaming ‘WOLF/SEXIST/RACIST/NAZI!’ is ‘constructive’.

  66. #66 Paul
    December 18, 2009

    Alex, are you being willfully ignorant? Where did anyone say that it’s OK for this to happen to Watts or that talking about it it out of bounds?

    Seriously?

    Many of us in the blogosphere quietly chuckled because this thing that happened to Watts, horrible and unjustifiable as it is, happens to brown people all the time
    -Isis, on her blog

    How is chuckling because a white person is brutalized not implying that it’s “OK”? How is it different than chuckling at a brown person being brutalized, because it happens to other people all the time and they should expect it. This whole blog tangent started because Drugmonkey ripped on PZ for bringing abuse of authority to attention, because it’s funny to everyone else that white d00ds complain about abusive authority figures (are they supposed to ignore it because apparently brown people have learned to just deal with it? I’d think they would want people to speak out on the issue, but that’s definitely not the vibe the Kliqueons have been giving off).

  67. #67 Physicalist
    December 18, 2009

    How is chuckling because a white person is brutalized not implying that it’s “OK”?

    Well, there is that phrase “horrible and unjustifiable as it is” that we might want to consider . . .

  68. #68 Paul
    December 18, 2009

    Well, there is that phrase “horrible and unjustifiable as it is” that we might want to consider . . .

    So if I chuckle at a Mexican being beaten at the border because “he should have known better than to expect to be treated otherwise”, it’s ok because at the end of the day I think abuse of authority is horrible and unjustifiable in and of itself?

  69. #69 Bill James
    December 18, 2009

    [64] Elizabeth writes:

    In Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, federal authorities have charged three local cops with hate crimes. They stand accused of beating a Mexican immigrant to death.

    Really? I’m not finding that story, perhaps you could provide a link.

    I did find a story where three teenagers were convicted of simple assault where upon the victim had later died of his injuries and where three police officers have been charged with federal hate crimes, obstruction of justice and conspiracy over investigation and evidence handling in that case. But since that is not a matter of cops “beating a Mexican immigrant to death,” you must be referring to some other incident.

  70. #70 becca
    December 18, 2009

    Just for informational purposes:
    *two teens were acquitted of aggrevated assult, and one of murder by an all white jury back in july after beating a mexican man to death.
    *the police chief, as well as two officers, are accused of a cover up (one of the officers was dating one of the teen’s mom at the time)
    *The two teens and three cops have been indicted for hate crimes
    *I caught the very end of radio smart talk (local public radio) on this topic this morning, I think the Mayor of the town, or possibly the Sheriff (some elected official) is on record with some pretty distinctive anti-immigrant sentiment

  71. #71 Elizabeth
    December 18, 2009

    I mis-spoke, the police officers did not do the beating. But my point is still valid, although apparently missed. And exacerbated.

  72. #72 Bill James
    December 19, 2009

    [71] Mis-spoke? Out here in shot and a beer country we call that getting caught blowing something completely out your ass!

    Leading to:

    Would any two of you stand on opposite sides of the argument that something is wrong if cops can beat some guy to death because he is Mexican?

    Cops beating a Mexican to death because he was Mexican was the basis of your point predicated on an ignorance of truth and now we find you claiming your point remains valid? And you, on top of bearing false witness accuse me of not only missing the point but exacerbating it? Whatever that which is rolling around in your head and considered “it” is, your point was based on the projection of a complete falsehood and at best can only be considered in hypothetical realms of the hypocritically smug.

    [70] Unsurprisingly, you left several cherries on the tree.

    A group of high school football players walking past a park in late evening encountered a 25 year old Mexican engaged with a 15 year old white girl. When the boys inquired of the girl that she was being out late, the Mexican (Luis Ramirez) took offense. Moments later a fight ensued causing Ramirez to be knocked to the ground and the boys started to leave. Whereupon Ramirez got up and attacked the group, was knocked out with a punch to the face and at some point kicked in the head. He died two days later with the coroner noting the cause as blunt force trauma.

    Shenandoah Pennsylvania being a rust belt coal mining community of 30,000 at one time, has seen it’s numbers plummet to approximately 6,000 today. Jobs are scarce and of those available many are taken by illegals willing to work cheapest. Based upon even that amount of limited information it is an easy conclusion that negative sentiments run strong in the town and likewise the interconnectedness typically found with such a small group. In a statement attributed to the Police Chief, there being a compulsion to protect their own and therein suspicion that local police conspired to suppress evidence and modify, falsify or fabricate police reports in an attempt to protect the local youth from more serious charges, I find nothing to challenge credibility. It could have happened.

    With the case stretching back to July, 2008 there is ample information available via internet search for those wishing to flesh out the story on background. Interesting in its own right, there is a ton of surrounding social issues ripe for discussion given what we do know, but a good leap to equate with Nerdboy hopping out the car during a border stop and getting roughed up for not remaining in the vehicle with hands in plain sight and simply answering the questions. Like it or not, that’s the drill these days and yes, once in a while you will run into the errant cop who thinks Nerdboy sure has a purty mouth in which case Nerdboy has little choice but to suck Officer Dick. An aspect of public service that draws allot of people into joining the Force along with guns, badges, special privileges and Blue Codes of Silence. You know, Protect your pals & Serve yourself all on the public nickel.

    A perspective from which I draw ample amazement given this blogs overriding propensity to advocate more laws and greater empowerment in duly authorized official dominion over this group and all others while likewise advocating all others divest themselves of individual authority and join hands with this group whereby we will all vote to control the powers of our appointment to rule over us by our own defenseless decrees. How long has that charade ever lasted? It’s not like we’re a cloistered community of six thousand where pussy in trade for pretense might still have some barter value with an opportunistic Sheriff and his Deputies.

    I do have one question that’s been hanging around for a while now; does this group have a LGBT Atheist appropriate sing along and clap equivalent to Kumbaya, or has this been eschewed for shoelace individualistic filking circles where we all sit around, palms aligned with the galactic plane in astral projection when not otherwise our futuristic, total love and petunias in universal harmony and fellowship, all pink on the inside hugging diversity into eternities turn to spin, whistle and jig?

    But for the sufferable wank, walk & talk naivety of myopic social sophomores I digress.

    So PZ Meyers posits that Peter Watts is no thug and shouldn’t be mistreated by Border Bullies. In consequence, PZ Meyers being charged with “writing while white” by the purity matrons of internal security over inappropriate use of descriptive text, pretty much making mockery of the whole issue and thereby yourselves as Greg rightly points out. He also points out the flagrant abuses of authority even though we probably won’t agree that racial profiling is some great injustice with white society ignoring the plight, if not running roughshod over the downtrodden people of color. The crux of the PZ Meyers story being his apparent lack of reconstruction largely supplanting the Peter Watts experience to the latters chagrin I’m sure, the headline issue here does not carry nearly the weight as much of the subtext, save that exceptionally mis-spoken at any rate.

  73. #73 Stephanie Z
    December 19, 2009

    I do have one question that’s been hanging around for a while now; does this group have a LGBT Atheist appropriate sing along and clap equivalent to Kumbaya

    And Bill lets the homophobia off its leash again, along with a nice bit of atheist resentment. Sweet. He does, however, have half a point among those he missed (like the fact that descriptions of events in abuse-of-power cases tend to be written by the powerful and never by the dead).

    Yes, it’s important to note that just because someone is a cop, or a white d00d, that doesn’t mean they’re guilty of whatever they’re accused of. That needs to be said if we’re interested in getting at something like the truth. Sometimes it needs to be said loudly.

    However, what Bill is missing is that it’s not remotely ironic to see who is saying it. This is the sort of thing we say all the time. We just don’t usually have to say it about white guys and cops. I’d like to tell him it’s not that hard to get used to, but I don’t know. I’ve been doing it a long time, and I’ve never gotten into the habit of classifying normal human differences as birth defects. So Bill may be in for a long haul.

  74. #74 Greg Laden
    December 19, 2009

    Yes we do, bill. It’s called the The Star Spangled Banner.

  75. #75 Stephanie Z
    December 20, 2009

    That song always makes me cry. Well, unless it’s sung by someone who gussies it up so much the song itself gets lost.

  76. #76 aratina cage
    December 20, 2009

    I’ve always liked this version of the Star Spangled Banner the best.

  77. #77 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    Try this one:

  78. #78 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    Try this one:

  79. #79 Comrade PhysioProf
    December 20, 2009

    I’m thinking of the time you’all jumped on Phil Plait[.]

    Although I could be wrong about this, my best recollection–and it is consistent with my general attitude towards blogger responsibility for commenter douchebaggery–is that I never complained about Plait failing to upbraid his commenters for their disgusting leering at Sheril. My recollection is that I only complained to Plait–and not just his commenters themselves–when he showed up and asserted that leering at Sheril was all in good fun.

  80. #80 aratina cage
    December 20, 2009

    Try this one:

    Oh yes. I forgot about that one. Very good, for a whole nother reason.

  81. #81 Stephanie Z
    December 20, 2009

    I guess a few “fuck”s (ok, more than few) is beyond the pale, but gross objectification of women and creation of a hostile environment is totally coolio in astronomer dude’s opinion.

    Yep. No making Phil responsible for his commenters’ behavior at all.

    My favorite part of that, though, was the part where Phil was a misogynist for talking about the Skepchick pinup calendars despite having posed naked in one to raise money for a group of female skeptics. But that was only in the comments, not CPP himself.

  82. #82 Comrade PhysioProf
    December 20, 2009

    Yep. No making Phil responsible for his commenters’ behavior at all.

    Now I’m remembering better. He had a zero tolerance commenter policy for “fuck”, but ignored gross leering. That is what I called him out for.

    But that was only in the comments, not CPP himself.

    HAHAHAHAH! You’re so clever. But that isn’t suprising, since “communication” is your “field”!

  83. #83 Stephanie Z
    December 20, 2009

    CPP, he has a filter in place to screen for the same words that schools automatically block so kids can see his site. Argue with it if you like, and you did, but represent it appropriately.

    Don’t give me too much credit. What you see as clever is simply being reasonably consistent.

  84. #84 John Kwok
    December 20, 2009

    Greg,

    Am not fond of the term creotard for the very reasons you state, though I know there are some who resent my term “mendacious intellectual pornographer”, which, I believe is an apt descriptor of anyone from the Discovery Institute, Institute for Creation Research or Answers in Genesis. Instead of creotard, I have used the phrase “intellectually-challenged”.

    Sincerely,

    John

  85. #85 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    CPP, I remember quite clearly how it went down, and all you really need to do is to check his site. Phil was attacked by the kliqueon for failure to do what the kliqueon, post hoc, determined he should have done. Also, as Stephanie points out, there was this bit about his filtering “fuck” but not leering … I think Stephanie has characterized it correctly. You can’t filter out inuendo with most available blogging software!

    Potential allies, low-hanging fruit, innocent bystanders. Those are the Kliqueon’s typical targets. And your aim is bad. You’all really ought to start acting like the Romulans you wish you were!

    We need you to start doing the real work. Are you up for it?

  86. #86 Comrade PhysioProf
    December 20, 2009

    Dude, what the fucking fuck are “romulans”?

  87. #87 Greg Laden
    December 20, 2009

    CPP, you have no honor.