A private letter to Salty Current

Nobody read this.

Salty, my friend. I wrote the following after seeing your blog post.

Salty, it is certainly true that you are not an antisemite. I never said you were, and I never insinuated you were. I made a statement in which I suggested that some of the thing you had been saying in comments could easily look to an outsider like antisemitic comments (because of their overall form or other features). I took pains to make sure that in that statement to give clear indication (in two separate phrases) that I was talking about appearance, and that I personally did not think this.

Salty, you chose to believe, and this is true of some of your friends as well, that my comment was an insinuation that you is antisemitic. It was not. It was so clearly not that your’s continued insistence on this is deeply hurtful.

Of course, it should matter very little to me if you convince people that I think you are antisemitic. One could argue that it makes no difference to me, and anyone who explores the situation will learn that you wrong about this anyway. But it matter to me because I don’t want you to think this.

You and others asked me to show show phrases that I think could, to a sensitive observer who does not know the context or who does not you, seem to make you look antisemitic. I did not want to do that because it is a messy process and I thought anyone reading over all the comments would see it easily. But you have continued to ask, so I feel I need to comply.

Before you read these, I want you, Salty, to understand this: I personally do not interpret these comments as indicating that you are in any way antisemitic. I don’t. I don’t interpret these comments this way, I do not suggest that they mean this, and I don’t insinuate this. But I was asked to cite examples of comments that I think would look bad, and I said no, and then I was berated by several people named Paul and some other guys for saying no, so here they are. I’ve roughly divided them into groups and provided a bit of interpretive context regarding why someone might erroneously interpret these comments as indicators of antisemitism.

Context: Several sources of information have been adduced including Henry’s opinion (as an actual Jew who lives in Britain), my post in which I refer to colleagues who have made explicit statements, etc. suggesting an antisemitic atmosphere in the U.K. and in other contexts. It has been suggested, though I think this is less likely true, that there is some antisemitism in the atheistic blogosphere. Maybe maybe not. But I regard denial of that without explicit counterargument, and/or denial of that in the way of demanding further evidence without which it can not be accepted as possibly true as seeming very antisemitic, because denial of racism when stakeholders who happen to be victims claim it is an old, tired, nefarious, and highly questionable tactic, especially when done in strong language. So to lead with the denial looks bad and is not recommended of you don’t want to look, accidentally look, antisemitic, even if you are not.

I can’t see what any of that has to do with Gee’s accusations, to be honest. (With the exception of your claim that “The British ‘left’ is anti-Semitic,” which would need to be made in a much more nuanced way and substantiated. As I said, there was some discussion of the matter on that thread after Gee left, involving someone who’s been active in the British Left for decades and whom I’ve never known to misinform.) His claims were, as you note, about the “New Atheists” (us, specifically) and the US “militant” Left. Bullshit in the former, and pretty much bullshit on the latter, though the claim is made so generally as to be pretty much meaningless.

And

Yeah, SC, I’m really not interested in thoughts on civility from anyone who’s going to call someone one generation removed from Holocaust victims “paranoid” about anti-Semitism.

This is not about the existence or real dangers of antisemitism. His claims about the people he was making them about, if they were honest, were absolutely paranoid, Stephanie. Being a descendent of Holocaust victims would provide part of the explanation for such paranoia. If it is paranoia, then it isn’t immoral, but needs to be pointed out as irrational and not based in evidence.

and

(And as was pointed out to Gee on that thread, he was the one essentializing Judaism; not that the discussion had anything to do with any such thing as you suggest – if anyone was telling people what they think and feel, it was Gee.)

and

Henry Gee appears to be blithely ignorant of the real history of Christian antisemitism and the threats it continues to pose today.

and

What if Henry as a diminutive heavily wrinkled tough old broad who escaped from the holocaust and now goes around to blogs and public events and tells people to go fuck themselves because they don’t get what happened in the 1930s and 1940s and they don’t believe that antisemitism is real and effective and scary today? She would be revered, even by those she told to go fuck themselves.

You know, these “what if” scenarios only work if you hold one part constant and change the other. Here, you’ve changed not only the characteristics of the person, but the person’s behavior. That isn’t what Gee is doing.

And …

The degree of anti-Semitism present in the U.K. and much of the rest of Europe is not the same as general U.S. anti-Semitism or that anywhere in the Western hemisphere.

Unless he was talking about its implications for commenting and commenting policies on UK blogs, I don’t see the relevance. But he wasn’t. He was flinging around wild accusations about the US based on – what? – one person being patronizing? (Not to mention that he’s profoundly patronizing himself.)

In any case, if he wants to have a discussion about it in a relevant context, he needs to be much more specific about what and which groups he’s talking about, and provide evidence for his claims. His dystopian predictions about a more atheistic future were completely off the wall.

And:

in the context of being a Jew living among bad and worsening anti-Semitism without mentioning, even by implication, the Nazis?

Oh, please. Did you read the thread I linked to? I had no idea he was Jewish, and had said many times that no one cares about whether he wanted to ponder religious ideas, and he came back with that bizarre rant about the Holocaust. The conversation had nothing to do with that; he, very uncivilly (and unsuccessfully), threw it into the mix to try to shut down criticism of his ideas after bullying had failed. As I said, [paraphrasing] “You’re criticizing/mocking religion, so you must want to kill me” was a horrible thing to suggest, and as someone who has spent years studying political violence I was particularly offended.

Context:It is possible that taking the side against the subaltern who is making the claim, and again doing so in strong language, could be seen as well as problematic (in this case antisemitic)

Is it civil to come to an atheist blog and accuse the commenters of being Nazi wannabes because they openly challenge religious belief? If that’s civility, I want no part of it.

In the cited case, Gee is blasting away at pharynguloids. That is normal for that blog.

No, it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust. It really, really isn’t. (Even among creationists, in fact.) I still haven’t gotten over it. It was a horrible thing to suggest.

Context: Part of what I regard as a ploy in many instances (see discussion regarding the Dawkins anthology as discussed earlier) is to deny the relevant identity marker as part of the dynamic of the conversation. This could be interpreted as denial of Henry’s relevant identity:

OK, I’ll admit again that I have no knowledge of this particular debate; I also have limited knowledge of both Zuska and Gee. But given my limited experience with him (linked to above, and IIRC I thought* he was Asian until he brought it up), I have to ask how “the Jewish thing” came up in this context. Who gives a shit if he’s Jewish? Of what possible relevance is that to this discussion?

and lets throw in one example of what looks like a little paranoia about limitations on the discussion that never happened:

I’m saying engage in the discussion about him or ignore it. “This isn’t about Henry” (repeatedly) sends a signal that you don’t want it talked about.

Context: We may simply differ on what being an asshole looks like, but this could be regarded as one instance of quieting down the subaltern, or trying to:

As a regular reader of (but not commenter on) Pharyngula, I did not see Henry Gee’s comments as particularly stronger or more over-the-top than 10% or even 20% of the other commenters there.

Why his comments were over the top there (or anywhere) has been explained.

Another:

I agreed that civility was the point. I was suggesting that Gee and *ahem* others involved in this discussion are hardly ones to lecture on civil discourse (as Ichthyic has explained in the meantime).

Another, denying the argument, or the right to the argument:

What does all that have to do with Henry? It has to do with his cultural expectations for running into anti-Semitism (“some of you probably think”),

People who accuse others of sexism or racism or classism or homophobia have cultural expectations based on their experience. He’s saying that such accusations have no place in civil discourse, but those of “Jew-hatred” do.

And …

He acted as though as a Jewish person he couldn’t possibly act in a way that furthers inequality or oppression (Jewish males can’t possibly be patriarchal, as everyone knows). And he claimed flat out that “the Left hates Jews.” Wow.

Context: I think it has been suggested that accusing Henry of calling Pharyngulista’s Nazis is inaccurate. I’m not sure. But this does not look good in this regard:

He quotes John Wilkins:

“There are plenty of places you can accuse people of being pedophilic communist sexist pigs; don’t do it here.”

Substitute “Nazis.”

There are other comments, but that is all I wish to cite at this time.

Every single one of these comments is a lousy piece of evidence of you being antisemitic. They don’t indicate that, at least to me. But as I have said, I think they could, and likely would, to a lot of people.

Yours,

Greg

Comments

  1. #1 Jared
    February 11, 2010

    “whatever you do, don’t push the red button”

  2. #2 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    Of course, it should matter very little to me if you convince people that I think you are antisemitic. One could argue that it makes no difference to me, and anyone who explores the situation will learn that you wrong about this anyway. But it matter to me because I don’t want you to think this.

    Then your “Blastula” post is extremely perplexing.

    You and others asked me to show show phrases that I think could, to a sensitive observer who does not know the context

    Well, if someone doesn’t know the context, then that person’s impressions are worthless. This should be obvious.

    or who does not you, seem to make you look antisemitic. I did not want to do that because it is a messy process and I thought anyone reading over all the comments would see it easily.

    Obviously not.

    But you have continued to ask, so I feel I need to comply.

    Context: Several sources of information have been adduced including Henry’s opinion (as an actual Jew who lives in Britain), my post in which I refer to colleagues who have made explicit statements, etc. suggesting an antisemitic atmosphere in the U.K

    His claim wasn’t simply that there is antisemitism in the UK. Of course there is.

    and in other contexts.

    That’s ridiculously vague.

    It has been suggested, though I think this is less likely true, that there is some antisemitism in the atheistic blogosphere. Maybe maybe not.

    Of course there may be. Gee’s claims were significantly stronger and more specific than that.

    But I regard denial of that without explicit counterargument, and/or denial of that in the way of demanding further evidence without which it can not be accepted as possibly true as seeming very antisemitic,

    Denial of what? I certainly haven’t denied the existence or possible existence of antisemitism in the UK, in the US, or among atheists (though I haven’t seen much evidence of it in this last group). What I rejected were Gee’s wild claims about us (I certainly know I don’t think of him the way he portrayed, and I’d known the other participants in that discussion for a while and seen absolutely no evidence of it on their part). He didn’t even know if some of the people he was talking to were themselves Jewish. And it is the responsibility of the person making the claim to provide evidence.

    because denial of racism when stakeholders who happen to be victims claim it is an old, tired, nefarious, and highly questionable tactic, especially when done in strong language. So to lead with the denial looks bad and is not recommended of you don’t want to look, accidentally look, antisemitic, even if you are not.

    Give me a break. I’ve long spoken out about issues involving women and minorities (or, to use Gee’s words, “pompously defended” us/them) in the atheist movement. At all times I’m at pains not to suggest malicious intent when I don’t have evidence of it. If I asserted without evidence that women were underrepresented on a speakers’ list because the committee or atheists in general hate women, I should expect to be taken to task for that. There is plenty of sexism in the atheist blogosphere, but that doesn’t make it OK for me to sling accusations of misogyny wildly.

    I can’t see what any of that has to do with Gee’s accusations, to be honest.

    This is where I make it clear that the discussion of antisemitism in the UK generally is immaterial, since no one was arguing that it didn’t exist and Gee had made specific claims about us, the “New Atheists,” and the US (“militant”) Left (about which he appears to know precisely fuck-all).

    (With the exception of your claim that “The British ‘left’ is anti-Semitic,” which would need to be made in a much more nuanced way and substantiated. As I said, there was some discussion of the matter on that thread after Gee left, involving someone who’s been active in the British Left for decades and whom I’ve never known to misinform.)

    I stand by this. It is unacceptable to make claims like this without evidentiary support.

    His claims were, as you note, about the “New Atheists” (us, specifically) and the US “militant” Left. Bullshit in the former, and pretty much bullshit on the latter, though the claim is made so generally as to be pretty much meaningless.

    I stand by this, too. A preview of my upcoming post: I consider it ironic that Gee tried to chastise Nick on the earlier thread by telling him “Go study some Talmud…and appreciate the very Jewish concepts of argument, debate and doubt.” Leaving aside the problems I have with this tradition (including the silly way Gee was trying to use it as part of a Courtier’s Reply), it is one I consider myself – and Nick possibly does as well – as part of. (I explicitly recognize, in addition to other sources, the origins of this in Jewish culture, and particularly among anarchists I admire: I always remember the first time I read Chomsky talking about his childhood and growing up in among people who prized argumentation. I think I got goosebumps.) I appreciate it in the form of living it every day, especially on the internet. When I demand that people make logical arguments supported by evidence – about anything – I am showing respect for them, engaging in a reciprocal and equal social exchange, and expecting that I can be convinced. To suggest that people can make claims and not be obliged to support them because of their ethnicity is to put them “beyond the pale” of human interaction. It is a contemptuous attitude, and I never want anyone to treat me that way because of my gender. Talking about your experiences and feelings is one thing, but if you make fact claims you had damned well better be prepared to argue them. This is the tradition I respect, and Pharyngula (FTR, including truth machine, Paul) exemplifies it. This is the tradition Gee claims as his own, and it’s the tradition he’s trashing with his behavior.

    Yeah, SC, I’m really not interested in thoughts on civility from anyone who’s going to call someone one generation removed from Holocaust victims “paranoid” about anti-Semitism.

    This is not about the existence or real dangers of antisemitism. His claims about the people he was making them about, if they were honest, were absolutely paranoid, Stephanie. Being a descendent of Holocaust victims would provide part of the explanation for such paranoia. If it is paranoia, then it isn’t immoral, but needs to be pointed out as irrational and not based in evidence.

    Paranoia isn’t an accusation. It’s a real problem for the second generation. I don’t know if he’s really paranoid or not.

    (And as was pointed out to Gee on that thread, he was the one essentializing Judaism; not that the discussion had anything to do with any such thing as you suggest – if anyone was telling people what they think and feel, it was Gee.)

    This is true.

    Henry Gee appears to be blithely ignorant of the real history of Christian antisemitism and the threats it continues to pose today.

    He does, or willfully ignorant, and I find it concerning. Those threats are quite evident, but Gee seems to have tunnel vision in focusing on the Left. It is mighty odd that my comment to Gee and the links that followed were raised to be used against me by your sidekick. I’m denying antisemitism? I fucking brought it up. (People can read the thread for the context.)

    What if Henry as a diminutive heavily wrinkled tough old broad who escaped from the holocaust and now goes around to blogs and public events and tells people to go fuck themselves because they don’t get what happened in the 1930s and 1940s and they don’t believe that antisemitism is real and effective and scary today? She would be revered, even by those she told to go fuck themselves.

    You know, these “what if” scenarios only work if you hold one part constant and change the other. Here, you’ve changed not only the characteristics of the person, but the person’s behavior. That isn’t what Gee is doing.

    It isn’t. How bizarre that you would cite that remark just after the previous one, in which I explicitly pointed to real and effective and scary antisemitism today, and provided evidence thereof. I fail to see how pointing out that your analogy fails has anything to do with antisemitism. Moreover, I explicitly said that I’m happy to see “fuck you” arguments about this when they’re supported.

    The degree of anti-Semitism present in the U.K. and much of the rest of Europe is not the same as general U.S. anti-Semitism or that anywhere in the Western hemisphere.

    It isn’t. He made specific claims about “Jew hatred” being rife in the US left based on, as far as I can tell, someone being patronizing to him at a conference. Zuska (and believe me, I’m not keen on supporting her at the moment) asked explicitly what she had said that he had possibly interpreted as antisemitic. There’s been no response, AFAIK.

    Unless he was talking about its implications for commenting and commenting policies on UK blogs, I don’t see the relevance. But he wasn’t. He was flinging around wild accusations about the US based on – what? – one person being patronizing? (Not to mention that he’s profoundly patronizing himself.)

    All true. If you or Gee disagree, argue with the statement. Do you consider him competent to do so or not?

    In any case, if he wants to have a discussion about it in a relevant context, he needs to be much more specific about what and which groups he’s talking about, and provide evidence for his claims. His dystopian predictions about a more atheistic future were completely off the wall.

    This is true. Are you suggesting he doesn’t need to support his accusations at all? That he has a limited obligation to do so? What? It is not fucking antisemitic to expect that people – all people – support their assertions, and anyone who thinks it is should…well, appreciate the very Jewish concepts of argument, debate and doubt.

    in the context of being a Jew living among bad and worsening anti-Semitism without mentioning, even by implication, the Nazis?

    This was a stupid and dishonest statement. I had mentioned, by implication, the Nazis, in pointing out real antisemitism. And he didn’t just bring that up. He made extreme accusations.

    Oh, please. Did you read the thread I linked to? I had no idea he was Jewish, and had said many times that no one cares about whether he wanted to ponder religious ideas, and he came back with that bizarre rant about the Holocaust. The conversation had nothing to do with that; he, very uncivilly (and unsuccessfully), threw it into the mix to try to shut down criticism of his ideas after bullying had failed. As I said, [paraphrasing] “You’re criticizing/mocking religion, so you must want to kill me” was a horrible thing to suggest, and as someone who has spent years studying political violence I was particularly offended.

    Yup. It was a discussion largely about the dangers of contemporary Christianity in relation to some of the focus of Dawkins’ book. He suggested that was no business of his, and then went off on his bizarre rant. He doesn’t get special standards of civility for himself alone.

    Context:It is possible that taking the side against the subaltern who is making the claim, and again doing so in strong language, could be seen as well as problematic (in this case antisemitic)

    Only by someone who considers “subalterns” as incapable of arguing in support of their contentions. Such people are disrespectful of “subalterns.” And expecting a solid argument and evidence is not “taking a side against” anyone. It’s respecting people enough to call them on their bullshit. Frankly, you show your contempt for him every time you ignore his disparaging and dismissal of women and feminists, and every time you suggest that he has no obligation to argue his case.

    I’ve actually read several of the pieces at the site he linked to. Some of it is good, some old news, some weak, and some I disagree with. Are you suggesting that a reasonable person could see me as antisemitic if I said, for example, that I disagree with the contention that all criticism of Israel as such is antisemitic?

    Is it civil to come to an atheist blog and accuse the commenters of being Nazi wannabes because they openly challenge religious belief? If that’s civility, I want no part of it.

    In the cited case, Gee is blasting away at pharynguloids. That is normal for that blog.

    No, it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust. It really, really isn’t. (Even among creationists, in fact.) I still haven’t gotten over it. It was a horrible thing to suggest.

    Yes. How does that statement about what is normal and acceptable on the blog appear antisemitic?

    Context: Part of what I regard as a ploy in many instances (see discussion regarding the Dawkins anthology as discussed earlier)

    That discussion showed such a level of ignorance about what I and others have been saying and fighting at Pharyngula and elsewhere that it was utterly hilarious.

    is to deny the relevant identity marker as part of the dynamic of the conversation. This could be interpreted as denial of Henry’s relevant identity:

    My point was that it wasn’t a relevant identity, except in the way that I stated when Gee argued that what goes on in Christian churches wasn’t his to judge.

    OK, I’ll admit again that I have no knowledge of this particular debate; I also have limited knowledge of both Zuska and Gee. But given my limited experience with him (linked to above, and IIRC I thought* he was Asian until he brought it up), I have to ask how “the Jewish thing” came up in this context. Who gives a shit if he’s Jewish? Of what possible relevance is that to this discussion?

    Well? It’s pretty clear from his own statements that he brought it up to shut down discussion – “Don’t talk to me about oppression! I’m Jewish!” I do see a possible relevance that could be of great importance to a discussion of civility on blogs, but that wasn’t what he was saying. He is using his identity to dismiss the concerns of other marginalized groups. He’s doing it in a bullying and disparaging manner. Is that OK because he’s Jewish? Why isn’t everything I say about him to be accepted unquestioningly? I’m a member of a subordinate group, after all.

    and lets throw in one example of what looks like a little paranoia about limitations on the discussion that never happened:

    I’m saying engage in the discussion about him or ignore it. “This isn’t about Henry” (repeatedly) sends a signal that you don’t want it talked about.

    I still have no idea why there was such strong resistance to any discussion of him in a context where it was completely relevant. It’s OK for him to lie, to uncivilly bash and mock feminists and try to shut down discussion, and to dismiss concerns about other minorities, but not for anyone to call him out on it, evidently.

    We may simply differ on what being an asshole looks like, but this could be regarded as one instance of quieting down the subaltern, or trying to:
    As a regular reader of (but not commenter on) Pharyngula, I did not see Henry Gee’s comments as particularly stronger or more over-the-top than 10% or even 20% of the other commenters there.

    Why his comments were over the top there (or anywhere) has been explained.

    It had, and that claim was wrong. “Quieting the subaltern”? *eyeroll*

    I agreed that civility was the point. I was suggesting that Gee and *ahem* others involved in this discussion are hardly ones to lecture on civil discourse (as Ichthyic has explained in the meantime).

    He is, and I supported that, more than once, with concrete examples, including long quotes from Gee himself at Pharyngula. Your stubborn refusal to acknowledge his statements and behavior doesn’t make them disappear.

    Another, denying the argument, or the right to the argument:

    What does all that have to do with Henry? It has to do with his cultural expectations for running into anti-Semitism (“some of you probably think”),

    People who accuse others of sexism or racism or classism or homophobia have cultural expectations based on their experience. He’s saying that such accusations have no place in civil discourse, but those of “Jew-hatred” do.

    WTF? Can you read? He’s the one denying the right to argument, for any groups except his own.

    And …

    He acted as though as a Jewish person he couldn’t possibly act in a way that furthers inequality or oppression (Jewish males can’t possibly be patriarchal, as everyone knows). And he claimed flat out that “the Left hates Jews.” Wow.

    He did. (I’ll note that I mentioned that I know women who have faced sexism in the Israeli military and Israeli academe, suggesting that his dodge wouldn’t work well there; no response.) And I repeat: Wow.

    Context: I think it has been suggested that accusing Henry of calling Pharyngulista’s Nazis is inaccurate. I’m not sure.

    If it had, it was wrong.

    But this does not look good in this regard:

    He quotes John Wilkins:
    “There are plenty of places you can accuse people of being pedophilic communist sexist pigs; don’t do it here.”
    Substitute “Nazis.”

    Again, WTF? This is a rule of civility he cited approvingly (and with which I disagree in part, but no one wanted to talk about that), and violated in the most egregious manner. I contend that he hasn’t a clue about civility, or if he does he’s willing to toss it out the window if confronted with anything not to his liking or under his control.

    Every single one of these comments is a lousy piece of evidence of you being antisemitic.

    I’ll say.

    They don’t indicate that, at least to me. But as I have said, I think they could, and likely would, to a lot of people.

    Then those people would be wrong, and misguided.

    And rather than making an insinuation like that, you could and should have argued these points at the time. I think if you had, you would have realized long ago the problems with your position, which is patronizing to Gee and tremendously disrespectful to the people he’s disparaged.

  3. #3 Christie
    February 12, 2010

    That may be the longest comment on a blog post ever written.

  4. #4 Peter Beattie
    February 12, 2010

    » Greg Laden said in so many words:
    Every single one of these comments is a lousy piece of evidence of you being antisemitic. They don’t indicate that, at least to me. But as I have said, I think they could, and likely would, to a lot of people.

    And SC should think that her problem why? (You know, without the ‘reason’ part, you don’t have an argument.)

  5. #5 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    Apparently it’s SC’s problem if anyone anywhere could possibly misinterpret anything she’s said. On the other hand, Greg can post the firing squad screed, which led a fair number of people to conclude that he was either an incoherent writer or a flaming asshat or both, and this is not Greg’s problem at all, it’s our fault for not perceiving his beautiful pure intentions. I’m not certain how to parse that.

  6. #6 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Greg, thanks for actually posting specific quotes from SC.

    IMHO, she comes off quite well, and not antisemitic at all. It seems to me like she did about as good a job as anybody could be expected to do in discussing such a fraught subject.

    I think it’s also relevant to give some quotes from Henry Gee, which were part of the backdrop of this discussion:

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch, as did the people who killed my grandparents and my two aunts — one a toddler, I have recently discovered, the other a babe in arms, and then recycled them as soap and lampshades, and presumably deserving of no better fate.

    I think it’s pretty clear here that Henry was comparing us to the Nazi killers who killed his relatives. And not just in a weak analogical way, or in the sense that “it could happen anywhere.” Apparently “some of us” supposedly think that he’s a subhuman, and are the kind of people who think it’s just to turn babies into lampshades and soap.

    ..Now, back to this ‘respect’ thing. I am sometimes told by atheists that they ‘respect’ me but not my religious beliefs, and expect me to be happy with that curious point of view. My response is usually to say that if they disrespect my religion, then, surely, that disrespect must take some concrete form* – defacing stones in cemeteries, perhaps? Or torching synagogues? If not, then this disrespect is simply empty posturing. The atheist usually then gets rather cross, which suggests I have touched a nerve.

    Here Henry was saying that if we New Atheists or pharyngulans disrespect his religious beliefs, then that disrespect must take a concrete form such as desecrating cemeteries or terrorist acts such as synagogue burning—or if we don’t, our “posturing” is empty. Perhaps our problem is that we are too cowardly to be terrorists, as we would be if we had the courage of our convictions?

    And of course, if we deny being baby-killing terrorist types, or maybe utter cowards who can only fantasize about such things, he must have “touched a nerve.”

    I predict that in five or ten years time, thanks to Dawkins and others, then scientists who profess any kind of religious belief will find it hard to get tenure, and then jobs, and then papers published, and finally their employers, responding to pressure, will be forced to fire them or retire them early. It will start with the Jews, of course, because these things usually do, as they have done many times in the past.

    This struck me and many others, including PZ as “remarkably paranoiac.” (PZ’s apt phrase.)

    I can’t say for sure that antisemitism won’t get way out of hand again at some time in the future—and that’s a legitimate thing to worry about. Still, the idea that Jewish academics will be pushed out of academia—fired or forced to retire early—in five to ten years time? That’s quite a stretch, IMHO.

    It seems a bit paranoid, as do his comments about us and our babykilling terrorist principles or cowardice.

    That is the sort of thing that SC was responding to, and I think she acquitted herself quite well, tackling a fraught subject in the face of paranoid accusations.

    BTW, I’m not claiming that Henry is clinically a paranoid schizophrenic, or anything like that. Just that his beliefs about us, in particular, are a bit paranoiac. He is quite mistaken, and seeing very dangerous enemies where they’re not.

  7. #7 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    By the way, when SC was being piled on here, there was some denial–not by Greg, IIRC—that Henry did anything like calling us Nazis.

    That was supposedly “a straw man.”

    I think the quotes above, especially the boldfaced parts, show that it was not a straw man. Henry did something very like calling us Nazis.

    Maybe only “some” of us would turn babies into lampshades and soap, but apparently, a number of us worth remarking on, as though it had some bearing on the ongoing discussion. (Not just a few kooky lurkers, as you might expect on any blog with thousands of readers and scores of commenters.) I assumed then, and still do, that he meant to refer to active participants in that discussion at Pharyngula. I’m pretty sure absolutely none of them are the sort of people he accused “some of them” of being.

    Not only that, but evidently many of us—anybody who disrespects Jewish religious beliefs, and that’s a lot of us—-are supposedly too cowardly to have the courage of our convictions, and be the synagogue-burning terrorists we ought to be if we believe what we say.

    That may not be exactly calling us Nazis, but it is damned close. It’s basically a blood libel, accusing a community of having homicidal tendencies.

    I think SC deserves an apology for that piling on, here, treating her as an over-the-top kook, when in fact she was responding reasonably to very unreasonable accusations by Henry at Pharyngula, and then to unreasonable denials, here, of the apparently deadly serious and extreme accusations that Henry did in fact make.

    Basically, she got the shaft all through that. She wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill, there or here.

    She was right, and right to be quite annoyed if people didn’t take what she was saying seriously, and dismissed her as a kook.

  8. #8 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    The bit about disrespect having to take concrete form, in particular, is just weird.

  9. #9 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Oops… I meant to say:

    That may not be exactly calling us Nazis, but it is damned close. It’s basically a blood libel, accusing a community of having homicidal or at least terroristic tendencies.

  10. #10 John
    February 12, 2010

    I run into people like Gee every day. If you disagree with them, it’s because you look down on their race/gender/sexual preference/religion, etc.

    I can only think of two sane reasons for this behavior. One, intellectual laziness. Two, they have a suspicion their argument is weak, and fear taking the other person seriously.

    SC was much more tactful than I would have been. I would have immediately indentified him as either dishonest or raving.

  11. #11 davem
    February 12, 2010

    Due to the record*** snow here in the UK, supplies of shovels in hardware stores have dried up. Otherwise I’d have mailed one to you Greg, because you’re going to need it if you keep digging that hole that you’re in.

    After your first rant, I went to pharyngula to find out what Henry Gee actually said, and it was, quite frankly, appalling. Henry should have apologised for his outburst, and that would, and should, have been the end of it.

    *** record since 1986. Therefore not the worst ever. There was a lot more snow in the 1930s…

  12. #12 Russell Blackford
    February 12, 2010

    You know, Greg, I don’t have a dog in this fight. What’s more I don’t agree with everything that Salty Current says in the various debates she gets into. But she said nothing remotely anti-Semitic. All your arguments are, at best, guilt by association: Nasty people of a certain kind say things like X; you say things like X; therefore you are one of those people.

    Compare: Elephants have four legs; mice have four legs; therefore mice are elephants.

    Any first-year logic student knows that this is fallacious reasoning.

    As mammals go, mice are not very much like elephants because, among other things, they are much smaller, lack long trunks, tusks, big ears, and on and on. They do not mate with elephants, have DNA that is readily distinguishable. Etc.

    Salty Current is not like an anti-Semite because she does not exhibit hatred of Jews, or sentiments to the effect that Jews are evil or sub-human or disgusting or conspiring in our ruin, or anything else of the kind that defines what it is to be an anti-Semite. Nothing she has ever said is even remotely like that.

    And you know very well that she’s not anti-Semitic: you concede this while continuing to insinuate that maybe she is after all.

    Why don’t you just give it up and offer her the apology that she deserves? You’re digging a pit for yourself, going on like this day after day desperately trying to justify the unjustifiable: the outrageous comment you made to her in a public forum (since compounded by repeatedly using the sneering name “Salty Crack”). Please, mate, for your own sake cut your losses and tell her you’re sorry. You said something in anger and you’re now trying to justify yourself out of pride. You’re not looking good here.

    Or blow me off, if you want. The above is meant to be friendly advice, but the choice of whether you take it is yours.

  13. #13 beebeeo
    February 12, 2010

    Wow. This whole story got me really confused initially but I think I got it now. I didn’t understand why some “blastulistas” where offended by the firing squad comparison. I thought it was just a metaphor and that was fine with me. I liked the post and got me thinking about how racially motivated antipathy towards a certain group, might be expressed in such a way, that it targets the religion of those people in a secular way. I agree that that is not the case for the vast majority of people posting at genuin atheist blogs like pharyngula.
    I must say however that when I had a look Henry’s comments, he was the one coming across as an asshole and SC was right in challenging him. I don’t see how SC’s comments could come across as anti-semitic unless they were both taken completely out of context AND at the same time misinterpreted. But should we really need to worry about how our words might me taken out of context all the time? Maybe, but I don’t think it needs to be like that, especially at a blog like Blastula, where atheist should feel free to discuss their opinions.
    If Greg is really so worried about other people’s comments on other people’s blogs might be taken out of context and misinterpreted then he should be a bit more careful with his own blog posts. I am not saying that Greg called people who read and post on pharyngula nazi’s. He didn’t do it. But he should think about how his posts could seem when taken out of context and misinterpreted, especially by people who don’t know him and don’t read his blog.

    Now that I think of it … Was that your intention Greg?

  14. #14 csrster
    February 12, 2010

    This is just all too weird. I generally have a lot of respect for Henry. If nothing else I love what he’s done for Mallorn. But does he really respect homeopathy, crystal healing and astrology? And if not, why isn’t he busy burning their practitioners out of house and home?

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Congratulations, Greg. You have succeeded in demonstrating that, no, pointers to specific language was not actually what anyone wanted, despite the demands.

  16. #16 beebeeo
    February 12, 2010

    To follow up on this.
    Even if that was Greg’s intention the comparison is not a very good one, at least as far as I can see. It is much easier for me to see why blastulistas felt they were targeted in an unfair way than it is for me to understand how SC’s comments might seem antisemitic.

    But maybe again that is because I am not Jewish?

    But if I was Jewish, would it be ok to play the Hitler card in a context where it isn’t really relevant? Shouldn’t I be criticized for it, if I did?

    I do like Greg’s blog and ‘ll continue reading it, but I am with SC on this topic.

  17. #17 Diane G.
    February 12, 2010

    Every single one of these comments is a lousy piece of evidence of you being antisemitic. They don’t indicate that, at least to me.

    Clearer: ‘None of these comments reflect any antisemitism on the part of the writer.’

    But as I have said, I think they could, and likely would, to a lot of people.

    Though, apparently, not to anyone who reds your blog.

    And please, proof-read your posts. They’re getting painful to read.

  18. #18 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie:

    When I thanked Greg for giving actual quotes from SC, I was not kidding. I think it was exactly the right thing to do.

    Congratulations, Greg. You have succeeded in demonstrating that, no, pointers to specific language was not actually what anyone wanted, despite the demands.

    Congratulations, Stephanie. You have succeeded in spectacularly missing the point that everyone else gets.

    Nice job.

  19. #19 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    Can Stephanie actually justify her comment #15? It seems rather disconnected.

  20. #20 Jason
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie, wow, that is what you gleaned from this? Or perhaps his specific examples did not support his premise. In any way. See Paul W’s excellent posts above.

  21. #21 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Paul, I apologize. I got distracted by the fact that the rest of that comment is about getting other people to judge Henry. If that hasn’t been your actual intent in this thread of threads, I’m open to hearing what it is.

    Stephen: SC seems to want to argue with Greg over whether she’s actually anti-Semitic and over whether Henry is evil, neither of which has to do with how she might sound to the naive person who does actually deal with anti-Semitism in their surroundings. Peter wants anti-Semitism to be ignored, since it’s not such a big deal. Paul wants to talk about Henry, as do John and crster. davem and Russell want the subject to be over. I don’t know what beebeeo wants, but beebeeo doesn’t seem to know what blog s/he’s on, so I’m less concerned about that than I could be.

  22. #22 Elaine
    February 12, 2010

    I would conclude the following:

    Salty Current is not a raving anti Semite but she has some issues. I suspect she has not considered anti Semitism and racism before as effects of language.

    The level and intensity of her anti Semtism is low.

    Most concerning is the intensity of her refusal to consider her language and affect regarding this sensitive issue. I do not think it is likely that she will learn or change in the near future. Her sense of self preservation of her dignity is greater than her concern for the effects of her voice.

  23. #23 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Jason, which of “Paul W’s excellent posts above” actually address Greg’s premise?

  24. #24 Elaine
    February 12, 2010

    Jason, what is Greg’s premise?

  25. #25 Lorax
    February 12, 2010

    This is part of my comment on the “Firing Squad” post.

    I expect the idea is to take any given example, and explain how it can be interpreted as neutral (by an insider), conclude that they are not an anti-semite and thus neither is the blog they enjoy, tell Greg to fuck off, and crawl back into their isolated cocoon of a world content in the warm feeling that what they think is all that is.

    I will now start using the handle Swami Lorax.

  26. #26 David
    February 12, 2010

    SC, an excellent defense of your own non-antisemitism and a moderately successful defense of your appearance of not being antisemitic from the reading of the comments cited. Laden was right to tell you in the original comment thread that you might consider what you words would sound.

  27. #27 Sigmund
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z said:
    “Peter wants anti-Semitism to be ignored, since it’s not such a big deal.”
    Just wondering how you conclude that from Peters post on this thread.
    Are you a mind-reader? (I think Randi might be interested)

  28. #28 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie:

    Paul, I apologize. I got distracted by the fact that the rest of that comment is about getting other people to judge Henry. If that hasn’t been your actual intent in this thread of threads, I’m open to hearing what it is.

    I readily acknowledge that some of my comments (and in particular, my comments above) were in fact about getting people to judge Henry.

    I think there was an important and valid point to doing so.

    The response, here, to SC has largely been predicated on her not being perceived as reasonable in her responses to Henry.

    You and Greg have repeatedly tried to leave Henry out of it, but then to slam SC in ways that de-contextualized what she was saying and unfairly made her look bad.

    In particular, you said that the stuff about Henry calling people Nazis was a straw man. It wasn’t. And I wasn’t going to let that go.

    That was false and worked to SC’s great disadvantage here. You seemed to make her out to be an insensitive (and oversensitive) kook who misinterpreted things and ranted about Jews in a way that could reasonably be perceived as “antisemitic,” even if it wasn’t. And if she wouldn’t shut up about her hobbyhorse and her grievances, she should marginalized, ridiculed, and cut out of the conversation on this blog, as you explicitly tried to cut me out, when I was defending her.

    That is what you systematically set out to do, in your self-appointed role as Thread Cop.

    It might actually be true that in some very, very weak sense she “could reasonably be perceived” as antisemitic, by only someone who was not paying attention and was completely oblivious to entirely relevant context.

    That is what I set out to make clear. She never launched into any tirades about Jews, or even discussions of Jews, without very good reason. And she never said anything that anybody could reasonably perceive as antisemitic, unless they accepted a false framing of the whole thing.

    And she got a whole lot of shit for stuff she didn’t do, notably from Greg, and especially from you.

    You were wrong about the supposed “straw man,” and you were wrong to marginalize and ridicule SC on that basis.

    You should apologize. Now.

  29. #29 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    You said something in anger and you’re now trying to justify yourself out of pride.

    That. Exactly. Thank you, Russell.

    Well? It’s pretty clear from his own statements that he brought it up to shut down discussion – “Don’t talk to me about oppression! I’m Jewish!”

    To clarify, this is what he wrote:

    Now, I responded [to Zuska’s remarks about the marginalizing effects of “civility” rules]- rather more forcefully than I should have, that I belong to a minority (the Jews) that is despised by the same cadre of Left-leaning academics who speak up so pompously for women and minorities. such hypocrisy is like a red rag to a bull. Later on I rounded on Zuska and told her ( in a state of rage) about how when a Jewish community website I ran got national coverage and was targeted by 200 malicious virus attacks, even though we’d been perfectly civil to everybody- so I didn’t need people like her to effing lecture me on civility.

    I would conclude the following:

    Salty Current is not a raving anti Semite but she has some issues.

    Issue this.

    I suspect she has not considered anti Semitism and racism before as effects of language.

    Bwahahahahahahahhaha

    hahahahahahahahahaha

    OK, I’m done.

    hahahahahahahahahaha

    over whether Henry is evil

    You’re an imperious lackwit, Stephanie.

    But of course Paul W., Stephen Wells, John Morales, Peter Beattie, and Russell Blackford are irrational and insensitive. Everyone knows they particularly have a reputation for being unreasonable.

  30. #30 Elaine
    February 12, 2010

    Peter: And SC should think that her problem why? (You know, without the ‘reason’ part, you don’t have an argument.)

    Peter, this is stupid and misleading.

    Sigmund: I don not agree with Stephanie that Peter shows he wants he larger problem ignored. Rather, he is actively ignoring the problem by focusing on the small rather than the large picture. He fails to give the problem thought. But I have not read their ongoing tête-à-tête. Have you? We may have missed something.

  31. #31 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Sigmund, I’m paraphrasing a discussion we had on the topic, but I don’t think I got the substance wrong. I also don’t see anything in this thread to suggest he’s changed his mind in the last few days.

  32. #32 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    But of course Paul W., Stephen Wells, John Morales, Peter Beattie, and Russell Blackford are irrational and insensitive.

    SC, I suggest you take that back and apologize. Or at least point out where I said anything of the sort. What I did say is that they weren’t really interested in having Greg pull out the specifics of what you said. Am I wrong?

    This is your logical, rational argument style that is so sacred? Or maybe that’s the bit where you claim that no one who reads something differently than you do can be honest? Yep, that’s really going to keep discussion flowing and open so an objective truth can be reached.

  33. #33 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    Paul W: You are now writing in the same dismissive language that SC used.

    “…perceived” as antisemitic, by only someone who was not paying attention and was completely oblivious to entirely relevant context.”

    The holocaust was more than a half century ago. There is no longer a possibility of there being a “Jewish problem”. Latent antisemitism seeped out of our society decades ago, via osmosis, and racism among the genteel went with it. There is no longer a reuirement to think about our language or how we might put aside people’s obviously false concerns.

    An atheist might not understand that.

  34. #34 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @31: you are wrong. I for one found it very valuable to have the actual relevant quotes produced for inspection. Happy now?

  35. #35 Rebecca
    February 12, 2010

    Salty Current is obviously not focused enough on anything but other people being wrong and she being right to be anti anything.

    You can have those preconceptions (you know, where you conclude what is said in the text before you read it?) removed if you want. Or does your health insurance not cover that? It is a simple procedure. A hose, a bag, some warm water….

  36. #36 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    To clarify, this is what he wrote:

    To clarify further, this is his description of his actions in a conference session about civility.

    SC, I suggest you take that back and apologize.

    Stephanie, I suggest you bite me.

    Or at least point out where I said anything of the sort. What I did say is that they weren’t really interested in having Greg pull out the specifics of what you said. Am I wrong?

    Hell. Yes. You’re just too stupid or too crazy to see the point that is spectacularly clear: that Greg finally tried to make a case for his suggestion based on actual examples, which he should have done immediately, and that he failed to do so. In the eyes of several people well known for their insightfulness and moderation, including those who have no particular sympathy for me.

  37. #37 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Stephen, don’t tell me. Tell Greg, particularly if you were one of the people pushing for the quotes. Tell davem and Russell, for that matter, since they’re specifically unhappy with Greg for complying.

  38. #38 Leslie
    February 12, 2010

    I have to say that I agree that many of these “quoted comments” are problematic. For many it is difficult to understand without the context, and there should have been links to the original, but I agree that there is a blaming of the victim, or at least lack of respect off the victim (in the broad sense) implied in the dismissive nature of what is being said.

    I make these remarks as an avid and active atheist quite happy to ridicule religion. Well, to see it ridiculed, I rarel engage in that form. These comments are not the ridicule of religion (or anything) but the dismissal of a cultural Jew’s feelings and fears (his religiosity does not come into this).

    This attitude is correctable, but first it has to be identified. Good for Greg to do so.

  39. #39 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @32: if somebody rounds on you in the midst of a discussion and proclaims that you are a Nazi, that you want to turn his family into soap, and that you want to purge Jewish academics, it is OK to say: no, that’s ridiculous. The commission of terrible crimes by other people a long time ago is not a reason to meekly tolerate being accused of wanting to commit terrible crimes now. How is that anti-Semitic, or even rationally capable of being considered anti-Semitic? You’re diluting the meaning of the term “anti-Semitism” by applying it where it isn’t warranted.

  40. #40 Saadia
    February 12, 2010

    I am very uncomfortable with the presumption of purity of thought and perfection of argument coming from Salty Current, Paul, davem, etc. in connection with this discussion. We have seen this before. To be more exact, our grandparents and great grandparents have seen this before.

  41. #41 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @35: you ask if you’re wrong (@31), I point out you are (@33), and now @35 you say “Don’t tell me”. I find that quite amusing. If you didn’t want an answer you shouldn’t have asked the question, should you?

    Greg can read comments on his own blog, I think, so your instruction to “tell Greg” also seems a bit redundant.

  42. #42 sylph
    February 12, 2010

    Greg, I remember on one of the few occasions I came by this guy Grig Loden’s blog, someone accused him of being drunk while blogging and he got into a justified snit about it, seeing as how he had just had a baby. Now, I’m just thinking, even though it might be bad parenting, he could definitely stand to start blogging drunk because my God, I sure as hell don’t know what he’s trying to say but I can smell the fuses blowing in his brain from here. But back to my real point, which is that mental illness is a debilitating phenomenon that affects many people.

    Also, you’re not an ogre, but you do have two eyes, so you might want to watch out for people thinking that you’re an ogre. Because that’s a totally reasonable assumption. And I would know because I’m a woodland sprite and people hate them.

  43. #43 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @38: excuse me, are you saying that everybody must be considered a potential Nazi until proved otherwise? If not- what _are_ you saying?

  44. #44 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    The comments in question don’t demonstrate antisemitic sentiment, but I can see how they beg the question. It would do Salty Cufrent well to consider this.

    Which I think what Greg is saying.

  45. #45 Tim
    February 12, 2010

    Even if these were NOT examples of a.s. sounding speech the nature of the debate over them is of questionable value. Most seem to have come to the table entirely unprepared to consider the other’s argument. I would certainly not want either Salty Current or Stephanie or especially Paul to be at the negotiating table on my behalf for anything important.

  46. #46 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Dunnigan,

    I think you misunderstand me. I am certainly not saying that the Holocaust is just an ancient grievance of no modern relevance, or that it doesn’t color how people perceive things. Holy shit, no.

    All my life, I’ve been a friends with Holocaust survivors, even death camp survivors, and their children. I am under no illusion that it isn’t a great big fucking deal to this day.

    I do think that it’s a very real issue, and that it’s good to be careful to avoid appearances of antisemitism, even if one correctly believes oneself not to be an antisemite, as I think SC does.

    And I think that she’s well aware of that, too.

    That is not what this is about.

    This is not a situation where anybody went off a casual uniformed rant or ramble about Jews without being sensitive to such things.

    This is a situation that resulted from a particular Jew making very unfair comments (quoted above) to the effect that a group of people (apparently including both SC and me) were in fact horrendous Nazi-like antisemites.

    That’s different. If you disagree, and explain, anything you say while disagreeing with that particular Jew could be misunderstood as dismissive of their concerns and implicitly antisemitic. And of course, if you agree with them, that makes you antisemitic, because that’s what they said about you.

    It’s a no-win situation. If you make an argument that the particular Jew in question is paranoid with respect to you, you seem at best insensitive. And if you don’t, you’re an antisemite by default.

  47. #47 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    This is not a situation where anybody went off a casual uniformed rant or ramble about Jews without being sensitive to such things.

    Yes it is.

  48. #48 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    “… This is a situation that resulted from a particular Jew making very unfair comments …”

    Goddamn uppity Jew.

    My understanding is that at one point this Jew identified himself as a Jew to the surprise of others. He ought to have done so at the beginning of the discussion. It is not fair to surprise people like that. Why couldn’t he have indicated that he was a Jew in his Internet handle. A yellow star next to his name would be the thing.

  49. #49 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Irene,

    Please read my comment #6.

    What would you do if somebody made such accusations against you?

    What could you say that couldn’t be perceived as dismissive and antisemitic, or as accepting the person’s judgment that you are in fact antisemitic?

    How do you argue against such accusations, other than the way SC has done?

    Does defending yourself against false accusations of antisemitism make you insensitive to the accuser’s concerns, and reasonably perceived as antisemitic?

  50. #50 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    [My previous comment has disappeared.]

    Yes it is.

    No, it isn’t. It isn’t a situation where anybody went off a casual uniformed rant or ramble about Jews at all. I was talking to and about a specific individual, his statements and behavior, and there was nothing casual or uninformed about anything I said.

  51. #51 Albert Jazera
    February 12, 2010

    Enough of these negative accusations and the renting of clothing!!! The Pharyngulas are the enimeez of the Joos!!!! The enimzeez of the Joos is the friend of Alla! Alie ekbar!!!!! Pharyngula akbar!!!!!

  52. #52 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Gosh, Irene, you seem to think that I think there’s something wrong with being a Jew. That was very seriously not my point, and it is very false. I really do not think that.

    The point was that that particular individual human being, who happens to be a Jew, made an issue of his Jewishness while accusing other people of being something like baby-killing antisemitic terrorists.

    His “uppitiness” has nothing in particular to do with being Jewish.

    It has everything to do with falsely accusing people of being very nearly the worst sort of genocidal evildoers.

    Jewishness aside, don’t you think it’s kinda “uppity” of anybody to falsely accuse people they’re arguing with of being genocidal maniacs of any sort?

    Does his being Jewish somehow make it okay, and make it wrong for me to object?

    I don’t think so.

  53. #53 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    Does defending yourself against false accusations of antisemitism make you insensitive to the accuser’s concerns, and reasonably perceived as antisemitic?

    Paul, what accusations?

  54. #54 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    You and Greg have repeatedly tried to leave Henry out of it,

    That’s part of what gets me the most. Could anything be more condescending and depoliticizing? To present someone as mute victim when he has spoken and acted for himself, ignoring what he’s said? I find that extremely dehumanizing.

  55. #55 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    particular individual human being, who happens to be a Jew, made an issue of his Jewishness

    How DARE he be so Jewish. You’ll never find an Atheist being … so Atheist. Atheists never even mention that they are Atheists.

    Paul, I can’t even see the top of your head that hole of yours is so deep.

    (NOYB but yes, I am an Atheist. I just try to be less of an asshole than you are being when I present myself to the rest of the world as such.)

  56. #56 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    Irene, read post number 6. The bits in bold are the accusations to which SC was responding. HTH.

  57. #57 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @53: if in the course of an argument somebody says “I’m Jewish and you’re a Nazi”, is it anti-Semitic to say “I’m not a Nazi and I think you should apologise for that accusation”? That was Henry’s gambit and SC’s reply.

  58. #58 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    leave Henry out

    SC, I recall that Greg wrote a post using Henry Gee’s rug as a literary centerpiece, with an allusion that you did not get (The Dude). You loudly and obnoxiously insisted that his post was about Henry, and he noted that it was not. Since that time you have been demanding that he make the conversation about Henry, other people have been talking about Henry (most notably you in a demonstrably inappropriate manner) and you have been accusing Greg of “leaving Henry out of it” as though that was a crime.

    Please note that Henry is not part of this conversation. I see no comments by him. It is possible that Greg (and others) feel uncomfortable having a conversation about someone who is not involved.

    Your hubris, to think that your appointed role is to define everything about how a conversation will play out runs a close parallel to your refusal to admit that you used racially charged language.

    I have had enough of you.

  59. #59 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Irene,

    My understanding is that at one point this Jew identified himself as a Jew to the surprise of others. He ought to have done so at the beginning of the discussion. It is not fair to surprise people like that. Why couldn’t he have indicated that he was a Jew in his Internet handle. A yellow star next to his name would be the thing.

    I think you missed the point of some people remarking that they didn’t know he was Jewish at the outset.

    The point was that it was implausible that their comments to or about him before they even realized he was Jewish were motivated by antisemitism. (As he immediately assumed.)

  60. #60 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    Yes, Paul, I understand that. What you and Salty Current are not getting is that when someone does make the point that they are feeling uncomfortable over something as very serious as this, it is appropriate to step back and acknowledge it, display a modicum of humanity, THEN continue to bash the object of your disaffection if need be. Or at least that is what sensible people who carry the trait of humility do.

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    Apologies: Two comments were in moderation (someone must have used the magic word, whatever that is). I would have released them earlier but I’ve been taking care of a sick baby. Which is onging…. (his first cold!)

  62. #62 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    What you and Salty Current are not getting is that when someone does make the point that they are feeling uncomfortable over something as very serious as this, it is appropriate to step back and acknowledge it, display a modicum of humanity, THEN continue to bash the object of your disaffection if need be. Or at least that is what sensible people who carry the trait of humility do.

    I’m sorry Irene, but if that’s what you were trying to express, you picked a very odd way of going about it.

    I’m guessing it wasn’t, then, even if it is now. You response was way, way off-base and way, way unfair.

    Here is what you wrote:

    My understanding is that at one point this Jew identified himself as a Jew to the surprise of others. He ought to have done so at the beginning of the discussion. It is not fair to surprise people like that. Why couldn’t he have indicated that he was a Jew in his Internet handle. A yellow star next to his name would be the thing.

    You did not say that once we realized he was a Jew and expressed discomfort with the subject, we should have backed off.

    What you said clearly evoked Naziism and requiring Jews to wear yellow stars.

    That was low.

    If nothing else, you and Dunnigan have certainly illustrated SC’s and my point that sometimes it’s a no-win situation—some people will manage to misunderstand and misread anything we say as antisemitic—and facile Monday-morning quarterbacking is not appropriate.

  63. #63 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    You did not say that once we realized he was a Jew and expressed discomfort with the subject, we should have backed off.

    Paul, I just said it now in response to a comment just made. Is this your method of distracting us from the fact that you are an ass?

  64. #64 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    You loudly and obnoxiously insisted that his post was about Henry, and he noted that it was not.

    It was quite plainly about the events at the civility session involving Gee, Zuska, and Isis. To suggest otherwise is completely dishonest. No one here, not one person AFAIK other than myself, has addressed either his argument, such as it is, concerning civilty or his behavior at that event or on his blog (despite the fact that the sidekick linked to it). Do you agree with and support everything he’s said and done, or is it just unimportant because as a victim he can’t be expected to be civil or reasonable or back up his accusations?

    Since that time you have been demanding that he make the conversation about Henry,

    Wrong. Read the thread again, nitwit.

    other people have been talking about Henry (most notably you in a demonstrably inappropriate manner) and you have been accusing Greg of “leaving Henry out of it” as though that was a crime.

    It is wrong both to me and to Gee to ignore his voice and not take his statements or actions seriously.

    Please note that Henry is not part of this conversation. I see no comments by him. It is possible that Greg (and others) feel uncomfortable having a conversation about someone who is not involved.

    Gee posted on that thread before I did. He had every chance to comment more.

    Your hubris, to think that your appointed role is to define everything about how a conversation will play out

    I said to Stephanie several times when she repeated her “It’s not your place” garbage that I was interested in having a discussion about civility in general, and I tried to do so on more than one occasion. No one was interested. The record is there.

    runs a close parallel to your refusal to admit that you used racially charged language.

    I did no such thing, you liar.

    I have had enough of you.

    Whatever will I do? You’re quite possibly the dumbest person I’ve encountered online, and that’s no small feat.

  65. #65 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    For the record, none of the comments Greg cited in this post were made in a comment thread in which anyone called anyone else a Nazi. They were made in the comments of a post that called for less reliance on rules of what is or is not civil and more reliance on thinking about what you say to others. I, for one, appreciate the irony.

  66. #66 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    They were made in the comments of a post that called for less reliance on rules of what is or is not civil and more reliance on thinking about what you say to others. I, for one, appreciate the irony.

    Oh, so do I.

    I suspect I appreciate more levels of irony in all this than you do.

  67. #67 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    SC, you need a great deal of help with your clarity of writing.

    You should realize that words like “he” and “his” are pronouns. When you link them randomly do various males without making the link to a particular male clear, your writing looks rather like ranting and it is impossible to understand what you mean.

    The same applies to phrases like “that thread.” I have not made reference to a thread that Henry has commented on. You might be talking about some other thread.

    I expect an apology for the personal insults to me on this thread and on Pharyngula.

    You demand a great deal of other people. You give nothing. Do you have a family or any friends? Do they like you?

  68. #68 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    What you and Salty Current are not getting is that when someone does make the point that they are feeling uncomfortable over something as very serious as this,

    This is beyond absurd. He didn’t say he was feeling uncomfortable. (In fact, when I brought up and linked to examples of concrete antisemitism in response to his feelings of comfort about contemporary Christianity, he ignored them.) He didn’t just suggest that antisemitism existed in the UK. In both cases, he’s made very serious accusations to and about specific people and groups. That’s what he did. You can continue to push aside his words and his behavior, but then you are arguing dishonestly and treating him disrespectfully.

  69. #69 J. J. Ramsey
    February 12, 2010

    Prejudice can be reinforced through dog whistle statements that can look innocent to those unfamiliar with their context. Think about what it has meant when Republicans talked about “states’ rights,” for example. Someone who has been subject to prejudice reinforced in such ways is likely to be sensitive, even hypersensitive, to such dog whistles and react badly to those who say things that resemble them, whether they said it intentionally or not. Think, for example, about Dawkins’ cringeworthy comments on the “Jewish lobby,” which did resemble typical anti-Semitic dog whistles. Orac was kind enough to attribute that to a bout of foot-in-mouth disease, but why expect someone who has felt anti-Semitism personally to be so kind?

    Also, why assume that Henry Gee was wrong when he wrote in a Pharyngula comment:

    But of course, some of you probably think I am an untermensch, as did the people who killed my grandparents and my two aunts — one a toddler, I have recently discovered, the other a babe in arms, and then recycled them as soap and lampshades, and presumably deserving of no better fate.

    Pharyngula gets a huge number of views and commenters, not all of them American. Why feel so safe in assuming that there isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing among them? If Gee is right about anti-Semitism being all too common even among respectable people, then the chances of there being rot in your midst are higher than you might think. Think of how invisible the bigots were in Greg Laden’s hypothetical firing squad.

  70. #70 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    and treating him disrespectfully.

    Thank you for the reminder of a comment I wanted to add. Holding the baby in front of the approaching lion? I am certain that Henry and all the other victims of anti Jewish sentiment appreciate your standing up for them. While you stand on them.

  71. #71 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Irene,

    Sorry, but you need a great deal of help with your clarity of reading. I think that problem is beyond our capacity to fix.

  72. #72 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    SC, you need a great deal of help with your clarity of writing.

    You should realize that words like “he” and “his” are pronouns. When you link them randomly do various males without making the link to a particular male clear, your writing looks rather like ranting and it is impossible to understand what you mean.

    Funny, intelligent people can follow what I’m saying.

    The same applies to phrases like “that thread.” I have not made reference to a thread that Henry has commented on. You might be talking about some other thread.

    Wrong again.

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/01/should_just_anyone_be_allowed_1.php#comment-2239043

    I expect an apology for the personal insults to me on this thread and on Pharyngula.

    I’ll assume that was a joke.

  73. #73 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    Paul, are YOU able to parse SC’s comment?

    his argument, such as it is, concerning civilty or his behavior at that event or on his blog (despite the fact that the sidekick linked to it). Do you agree with and support everything he’s said and done,

    Was Greg Laden at an event he was not at or does Henry Gee have a sidekick?

    And speaking of sidekick, if a woman commenter tends to agree with a male blogger, she’s a sidekick? Seriously?

  74. #74 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    I am certain that Henry and all the other victims of anti Jewish sentiment appreciate your standing up for them. While you stand on them.

    I want you to explain how treating someone like an adult and taking his words and actions seriously enough to argue with and object to them, as I do with any adults I consider basically reasonable, is standing on him.

    Pharyngula gets a huge number of views and commenters, not all of them American. Why feel so safe in assuming that there isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing among them?

    Can people possibly be more disingenuous?

  75. #75 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    SC: Henry Gee did not comment on that thread as I recall. Can you point to a specific comment of his on that thread? I can find none but I will stand corrected if there is one.

  76. #76 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    Funny, intelligent people can follow what I’m saying.

    Um. No, you were totally unclear. I had to read that comment twice and it remains unclear.

  77. #77 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Irene,

    And speaking of sidekick, if a woman commenter tends to agree with a male blogger, she’s a sidekick? Seriously?

    Sure, in the same sense that Ed MacMahon was Johnny Carson’s sidekick because he’s a woman.

    Paranoid much, Irene?

  78. #78 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    Was Greg Laden at an event he was not at or does Henry Gee have a sidekick?

    I didn’t say “his sidekick”; I said “the sidekick.” Now why don’t you try answering my question: Do you agree with and support everything he’s said and done,* or is it just unimportant because as a victim he can’t be expected to be civil or reasonable or back up his accusations?

    *at Pharyngula, at the conference session, and on his blog

  79. #79 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    SC: Henry Gee did not comment on that thread as I recall. Can you point to a specific comment of his on that thread? I can find none but I will stand corrected if there is one.

    I just linked to it. Gee is cromercrox.

  80. #80 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    Do you agree with and support everything he’s said and done,* or is it just unimportant because as a victim he can’t be expected to be civil or reasonable or back up his accusations?

    Henry? Interesting that you ask this. Your question reveals a great deal about how you think about these things.

  81. #81 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC, whose sidekick did you mean to suggest I am?

  82. #82 Irene
    February 12, 2010

    I stand corrected on Gee having not commented on that thread. SC, you should try it some time. Admitting one is wrong makes one feel … human.

    The fact that the one comment is utterly trivial would not matter now, would it.

    Enjoy the rest of the day. I’m off to work.

  83. #83 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    Henry?

    Yes.

    Interesting that you ask this. Your question reveals a great deal about how you think about these things.

    Quite, though you don’t need to analyze my question to understand, as I’ve explained it very clearly above. So, can you answer the question?

  84. #84 Allen
    February 12, 2010

    SC, whose sidekick did you mean to suggest I am?

    Stephanie, you ignoramus who can’t read, you are TEH sidekick. Sidekick to all.

    How does that feel? It makes me feel like Salty Current has Pwn’d you.

  85. #85 Allen
    February 12, 2010

    Irene Irene IRENE!!!! No, you can not go to work! Saltine Current has axed you a question!!!!! YOU WILL NOT BELEVEAING!!!!! SHE WHO MUST BE OBAID HAS DEMANZSZZ!!!

  86. #86 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    SC, whose sidekick did you mean to suggest I am?

    Greg’s. It was a repetition of what I said twice before, so I assumed people who have been paying attention could follow along.

    The fact that the one comment is utterly trivial would not matter now, would it.

    No, it wouldn’t.

    Enjoy the rest of the day. I’m off to work.

    Run along. I’ll turn the question to Stephanie.

  87. #87 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Stephen, I see no evidence that you’re actually happy that Greg posted the language he was referring to. I do see quite a bit of evidence that you’re invested in me being wrong about…whatever. Given all that, I conclude that you’re less than sincere.

  88. #88 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC, was there a question somewhere in all the pointless, distracting insults?

  89. #89 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    See #78.

    I’ll help you out with a summary of my objections:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/nothing_will_stop_the_never-en.php#comment-2261382

    I know you didn’t agree with at least some of what he did, since you said so.

  90. #90 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC, false forced choice. What I’ve said before, although probably in enough pieces that it may be troublesome to put them together, is that when everyone is being a culturally insensitive asshole in a discussion, I think it’s unproductive to keep bringing the discussion up years later and expect others to get all excited about it.

  91. #91 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    SC, false forced choice.

    OK, answer the first part.

    What I’ve said before, although probably in enough pieces that it may be troublesome to put them together, is that when everyone is being a culturally insensitive asshole in a discussion, I think it’s unproductive to keep bringing the discussion up years later and expect others to get all excited about it.

    A) You haven’t shown that about everyone being a culturally-insensitive asshole at all. He’s on an a* blog denying the real dangers of organized religion (in the context of criticizing Dawkins), including to him personally, and talking about how the existence of God is a complex multi-leveled question (which he didn’t support). People are going to take him on. I don’t agree that everyone was being “culturally insensitive,” including Gee, and that hasn’t been my claim. Where was he being a culturally insensitive asshole, specifically?

    B) I’ve now cited several things he’s said and done. Greg linked to Isis’ post describing them in the original thread (though I didn’t go to it till later), and I found the thread at his blog through the link you provided to me. This was all very recent. Do you agree with what he’s said specifically about rules for civility on his blog? Do you think he’s behaved civilly, in a way that would make people respect him on the issue? Do you think he’s behaved well? Do you agree with his statements about the US Left and the alleged cadres of left-leaning academics who despise Jews? Do you find these assertions well-supported? Do you think his response to Zuska’s remarks at the session was acceptable? His statements about feminists? Do you think his words and actions have been dismissive? That they may have a chilling effect, especially considering his position?

  92. #92 beebeeo
    February 12, 2010

    Can someone explain please, how SCs comments could be interpreted by a reasonable commenter to be antisemitic?
    To some people it is apparently obvious and Greg does try to give some context but I still don’t get it and I don’t think I am the only one who doesn’t. I grew up in Germany in the 80s and 90s and even though people there are nowadays very conscious about antisemitism, it doesn’t help me at all with SCs comments.
    Could someone, maybe Stephanie Z please explain it a bit better. Please don’t just dismiss me as stupid or incapable of reading comprehension. I am genuinely trying.

  93. #93 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC, I have no interest in explaining once again who was an asshole and when. I did that two threads ago. You don’t have to agree, but I don’t need to repeat myself. It’s not productive.

    Nor do I think that any discussion that is framed as following/not following rules of civility is particularly productive, because not one. single. person. I’ve seen doing that has been able to follow the rules they’ve set for others. That I’ve been saying for at least the best part of a year. You’re no exception. Paul is no exception. Henry is no exception.

  94. #94 Josh
    February 12, 2010

    This is appalling. Look at what you’ve done Greg. You’ve ginned up a fake controversy about SC’s alleged antisemitism in the most dishonest way possible. You’ve kept it going – continuing to leave out important context, thereby guaranteeing that readers who haven’t followed the conversation from the beginning won’t get it. You’ve deliberately constructed this so that passersby won’t know the background, thereby setting SC up.

    For pity’s sake, the woman was defending herself against an outrageous and obscene accusation of anti-semitism, and you’re characterizing her legitimate self-defense as itself anti-semitic. You’ve got gall, Greg. And you’ve been mean-spirited, dishonest and unethical.

    To those of you new to this conversation – please don’t fall for Greg’s nonsense. It’s a set-up job to make SC look bad, and you can’t know that unless you’ve been following the whole trainwreck from the beginning. Believe me, if you found yourself in SC’s position, you’d be raging mad for good reason.

  95. #95 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    beebeeo, the problem with the statements (for someone who doesn’t know the speaker and who has already had experience with people who are anti-Semitic–referred to as “anti-Semites” for the rest of this comment for brevity’s sake, not because it’s a person’s defining characteristic) isn’t that they make direct anti-Semitic claims. In fact, very few anti-Semites make much in the way of direct anti-Semitic claims.

    The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause. Denying the validity of being concerned about anti-Semitism, diminishing the scope of the problem, requiring concrete proof of things that society requires be kept hidden–all these make it much harder for Jews to be taken seriously when they run into problems, or even to talk about things that might be problems. And unless they’re balanced, in context, by acknowledgement that anti-Semitism is still something to be taken seriously, they can make it very difficult for someone who doesn’t know the speaker to sort out what is meant.

    And all of this, of course, may be quite different if the listener comes from a culture which broadly considers it inconceivable that anyone wouldn’t take anti-Semitism seriously. Given that, I’m not that surprised that this doesn’t make that much sense to you. I hope this helped.

  96. #96 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    SC, I have no interest in explaining once again who was an asshole and when. I did that two threads ago. You don’t have to agree, but I don’t need to repeat myself. It’s not productive.

    Nor do I think that any discussion that is framed as following/not following rules of civility is particularly productive, because not one. single. person. I’ve seen doing that has been able to follow the rules they’ve set for others. That I’ve been saying for at least the best part of a year. You’re no exception. Paul is no exception. Henry is no exception.

    Look, that is contentless, evasive blather. More assertions without substance. If you wanted to talk about rules of civility and use me as an example, OK. But be specific, and back up your claims. I’ll put the same questions to Greg, but I am done here. You are profoundly intellectually dishonest, Stephanie.

    I’m fairly sure I said on the original thread that if Greg didn’t want Gee’s words and actions to be discussed critically for personal reasons, I would find that annoying given the subject of the post, but respect it. What I won’t respect, though, is people refusing to acknowledge Gee as a real human being who has done and said concrete things to which I and others have been responding. It’s unfair to me since you can present him as a silent victim-canvas on which you paint my (now apparently general and unwarranted) words. And as I’ve been trying to explain, though it appears superficially to be sensitive and sympathetic to him, it’s really the opposite. You’re presenting him as beneath the level at which we would expect reasonable adults to be responsible for what we say and do.

    Again, if Greg objects to my being critical of him because he likes him personally and feels uncomfortable, fine; but he can’t fairly make any claims about my responses to Gee’s words or actions when he won’t acknowledge them. Unfair to me, unfair to Gee.

  97. #97 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    So, Josh, Greg should have ignored SC’s request for specifics?

  98. #98 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    Josh, have you actually read any of these blog posts or the comments? Did you notice that Greg tried to avoid continuing the discussion but was forced to do so by Salty Current’s own blog post? Did you notice that again and again Greg says the opposite of what you are saying he said? Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater. But Laden clearly thinks not and has said so nany times.

  99. #99 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    Denying the validity of being concerned about anti-Semitism, diminishing the scope of the problem, requiring concrete proof of things that society requires be kept hidden–all these make it much harder for Jews to be taken seriously when they run into problems, or even to talk about things that might be problems. And unless they’re balanced, in context, by acknowledgement that anti-Semitism is still something to be taken seriously, they can make it very difficult for someone who doesn’t know the speaker to sort out what is meant.

    Every single claim here is a misrepresentation of what’s transpired in this case. Every one.

  100. #100 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC, you wanted to know whether Henry lived up to the rules he set. I said he didn’t. I also said you didn’t live up to the rules you set. That makes my answer contentless blather? I’ve told you repeatedly that I’ll hold you to the same type of scrutiny you want me to apply to Henry. I don’t see why it should be any surprise to you.

  101. #101 SC (Salty Current)
    February 12, 2010

    So, Josh, Greg should have ignored SC’s request for specifics?

    Speechless.

    Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet

    Perfect.

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater.

    This is your work, Greg. Bye.

  102. #102 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    SC (@99, if no one’s been trapped in moderation), nothing in that paragraph is anything but a description of the general case. If you want to embrace it, go ahead, but jumping up to say it doesn’t apply to you is, at best, redundant.

  103. #103 Tulse
    February 12, 2010

    It might appear to some (but not to me) that some of Dunnigan’s comments at #98 could be taken by an outside observer, unfamiliar with the debate, as horrifically misogynist. I’m not saying that Dunnigan is actually a misogynist, of course…

  104. #104 Matt Penfold
    February 12, 2010

    It might appear to some (but not to me) that some of Dunnigan’s comments at #98 could be taken by an outside observer, unfamiliar with the debate, as horrifically misogynist. I’m not saying that Dunnigan is actually a misogynist, of course…

    You might not say it, but I will! He is a sexist arsehole.

  105. #105 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Tulse, “horrifically”? You might be overstating your case a little.

  106. #106 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    I may well be. But does that impinge on the logic of my argument?

  107. #107 Josh
    February 12, 2010

    Dunnigan, I’ve been around since the beginning of this conversation – way back when it started on Pharyngula. I’m fully aware of the entire context. I suspect that you’re not. This is what I meant in my last post when I asked relative newcomers to the conversation not to take the “latest” at face value, since there’s a considerable backstory, too.

    Stephanie – why are you even bothering anymore? Don’t pretend you’re interested in honest conversation, because you aren’t. You are simply and solely partisan, sticking up for your friend no matter how bad his behavior is. We all have loyalties, of course, but there ought to be a limit. If I’d been you, I would have, at the very least, taken Greg to the woodshed privately and warned him I couldn’t stick up for this behavior in public. Not you. He’s your pal, and you’re stickin’ by him, no matter what.

  108. #108 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Josh, if you’re aware of all the backstory, why are you characterizing this as Greg’s fight with SC? I’m still waiting for one of SCs friends to take her to task for calling me the sidekick when I’m the one who got pissed at her for wanting to stop an ongoing conversation to have her Pharyngula pissing match adjudicated.

  109. #109 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#21)

    neither of which has to do with how she might sound to the naive person who does actually deal with anti-Semitism in their surroundings

    Elaine (#22)

    Salty Current is not a raving anti Semite but she has some issues.

    David (#26)

    Laden was right to tell you in the original comment thread that you might consider what you words would sound.

    Rebecca (#35)

    Salty Current is obviously not focused enough on anything but other people being wrong and she being right to be anti anything.

    Leslie (#38)

    I have to say that I agree that many of these “quoted comments” are problematic.

    Saadia (#40)

    I am very uncomfortable with the presumption of purity of thought and perfection of argument coming from Salty Current…

    Irene (#44)

    The comments in question don’t demonstrate antisemitic sentiment, but I can see how they beg the question.

    J. J. Ramsey (#69)

    Prejudice can be reinforced through dog whistle statements that can look innocent to those unfamiliar with their context.

    Dunningan (#70)

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater.

    This is inane. Most of you are making up an imaginary victim who suffers distress at reading SC’s comments. We aren’t so naive, you (arrogantly) say of yourselves, but someone might be. You are better than that, but you feel for the poor soul who isn’t so fortunate as you. (And those “brave” enough to call SC an anti-Semite outright are just as insufferably vague in how she is one.)

    Yes, well, there is an infinity of “someones” who might misconstrue our every word and if we had to consider their poor, uninformed sensibilities (oh, not our sensibilites, but theirs!) in everything we wrote, we would all be silenced forever. There is no voice, no word, no opinion, no fact, that doesn’t offend some imaginary someone somewhere.

    I have to wonder how many of you in support of Greg would have seen anything in SC’s comments without Greg poisoning the well. How many of you saying “yes, I can see the anti-Semitism” or “I see how someone would consider that anti-Semitic” can take a quote or two and explain exactly where the anti-Semitism is? And how many standing in for the imaginary “other” can say what real person would reasonably take her words that way?

    The proper thing to do, for any of us to do, is to try as best we can to understand how actual people respond to language that includes them or includes members of the groups they identify with. As part of understanding, we have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes people make irrational objections to what others say about them. It’s our responsibility to ask if that isn’t the case and, if we decide their reaction is rational after all, we should be able to say exactly why it is. But that’s a lot more work than the naive, unsubtle, knee-jerk political correctness on display here.

    So, can any of the people called out above explain how any of SC’s exact words quoted by Greg could reasonably be taken as anti-Semitic? Or, failing that, explain why we should edit ourselves not to offend those who would unreasonably take our words as some sort of anti-Xism–to appease the imaginary other? I don’t think any of you can, and saying “it just is anti-Semitism” is not an argument, it’s the lack of one. It’s shameful.

  110. #110 csrster
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie: “The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.”

    This is possibly true, for some of the marks Greg quoted. But context is king. If this had been a discussion of, say, middle-eastern politics then it would surely have had a whiff of antisemitism about it. But given the context of Henry’s wild and inappropriate rant they seem like a mild and appropriate response.
    (And if it’s remotely relevant, I say this as a Jew with fairly sensitive antisemitism detectors.)

  111. #111 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie, this is not your fight. This is between Salty Current and Greg. You are the side kick. Which part of “sit it out and shut up” are you not getting?

  112. #112 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Dunnigan, I think that would have to be the part about why I would care about their opinion of my rightful place.

  113. #113 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    A. Noyd, would you like to rethink telling Saadia that she’s speaking for someone other than herself.

    crster, I completely understand that there are several different valid reactions to those words, but it doesn’t invalidate your reaction to notice that someone else has reacted differently. Nor does it mean that those words don’t exist in a gray area, in which someone who doesn’t have that context (note original premise) may read them differently.

  114. #114 Dunnigan
    February 12, 2010

    csrster: You are repeating the original point which has been lost track of. I’m sure you lost track of it for no particular reason. Salty current has lost track of it because she is angry at Greg for something (who knows what) and needs to scream and yell at him.

  115. #115 Tulse
    February 12, 2010

    Tulse, “horrifically”? You might be overstating your case a little.

    Stephanie, don’t misunderstand me — I’m not saying that Dunnigan actually is horrifically misogynistic, merely that someone who read the comment that:

    Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    might think that Dunnigan was not only using a common slur against “uppity women”, but was also making a common assertion that women are inherently stupid, and that they should be subservient and grateful to men for whatever they give them.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that’s true, just that someone who was unfamiliar with the context might be uncomfortable with Dunnigan’s comments.

    Perhaps it would be clearer if I used a very long metaphor…

  116. #116 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#113)

    A. Noyd, would you like to rethink telling Saadia that she’s speaking for someone other than herself.

    Hey, Girl Wonder, would you like to reread the last sentence of my first paragraph where I explicitly include those who aren’t presuming to speak for someone else? Or the second sentence of my third paragraph? Or the first sentence of my last paragraph, making the challenge into something either type of supporter needs to respond to? You were included in those supporters all the way at the tippy top. Are you going to stomp around the Gregcave in your cape and tights making irrelevant blitherings based on your failed ability to read for comprehension or are you going to suck it up and get specific like I asked? I’ll put my money on the former, but go ahead and suprise me.

  117. #117 heddle
    February 12, 2010

    I’m an uninterested observer who has fought with SC many, many times.

    My view: Her comments are in no way, shape or form antisemitic.

  118. #118 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    A. Noyd, I’ve reread those sentences. None of them address Saadia’s situation or critiques.

    As for the specifics of how someone can reasonably think whatever, I addressed that already, in comment 95. You can disagree, but suggesting that the question hasn’t been answered is silly.

    Tulse, you missed the point. I was saying you had a case.

  119. #119 Tulse
    February 12, 2010

    Tulse, you missed the point. I was saying you had a case.

    My apologies for misreading your comment — I obviously went for the snark too soon. But I think this particular exchange does point to an important consideration, especially in the context of Gee’s original behaviour at the discussion panel imbroglio, which is that misogyny (and language that might mistakenly give the impression of such) seems to get a pass quite often, in whatever company. If we’re going to be sensitive about how our comments come off, let’s make sure we’re consistent.

  120. #120 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Tulse, I agree. I’m sensitive to Dunnigan’s apparent position of owning it and being willing to deal with everyone’s opinion on the subject, though.

  121. #121 Recall
    February 12, 2010

    The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.

    Yeah, they’ll do anything to pollute our precious bodily fluids.

  122. #122 Gabby
    February 12, 2010

    Okay, I’m the perfect person to clear this up because I’ve been ignoring the whole event and am completely lost on context. :)
    That’s what we’re concerned with here, right? Someone who doesn’t know any better, without context thinking she’s an anti-semite?
    From my perspective, however clouded, this reminds me of the accusation of misogyny lodged against Greg. When I read the posts concerned, I felt that the only way those accusations could be supported were by hallucinatory leaps and bounds. I was sure it had to be some kind of ironic joke, as the accusers didn’t seem to be mental deficients… well…not really. These accusations are on par with that, as far as I’m concerned. For the most part, this thread seems like a big steaming bowl of snark competition and dick measuring.
    So, am I missing something? Is it possible that someone could view some of SC’s statements in a bad light?
    Hell yes.
    It’s also possible that Glenn Beck could view some of Obama’s remarks as “racist against white people”. It’s possible to find the event’s of 9-11 in the old testament by using the bible code. It’s possible for people to interpret anything they want however they’d like. It’s how ignorance and bias work.
    Greg, you’re placing the hoops too high to jump through and then you’re setting them on fire.
    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  123. #123 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    Gabby. Excellent perspective and I think you are essentially correct. Except the part about the hoops. I have set no hoops. Remember, I said that these comments do NOT constitute antisemitism. Not. As in they don’t. Negatory.

    You will also note that this is my first substantive comment on this thread. It is also my last. It is my intention that this thread not devolve int a bash the blogger thread, so there will be none of that from here on. If you would like to talk about language, discourse, antisemitism, but there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) of the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current).

    Feel free to get mean on James W any time you like, of course.

    This is my salon and those are the rules of this thread from now on. Constructive conversation about language vis-a-vis the issues of racism, sexism, antisemitism, etc. If you have nothing to say about that, comment elsewhere.

    (And by you I don’t mean gabby specifically, I mean whoever reads this.)

    Thank you very much.

  124. #124 Gabby
    February 12, 2010

    “I have set no hoops. Remember, I said that these comments do NOT constitute antisemitism”
    Well, you’re certainly correct about the antisemitism accusations. You didn’t but I seemed to suggest you did in my comment. Sorry about that, it was very poorly worded.
    The hoop I refered to was the suggestion that we try to avoid anything that could be construed as offensive toward some group or other. Is that really possible? It just seems a lot to ask when you really weigh the possibilities.
    Maybe I need to go back and get more context on this. Seems like this would have to have been addressed in more specific terms somewhere along the way.

  125. #125 prasad
    February 12, 2010

    “For pity’s sake, the woman was defending herself against an outrageous and obscene accusation of anti-semitism, and you’re characterizing her legitimate self-defense as itself anti-semitic. You’ve got gall, Greg. And you’ve been mean-spirited, dishonest and unethical. ”

    This.

  126. #126 Comrade PhysioProf
    February 12, 2010

    It is my intention that this thread not devolve int a bash the blogger thread, so there will be none of that from here on.

    Fuck, dude! You mean I already missed the bash-the-blogger part? Cause I had something real awesome already thought up!

  127. #127 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    The hoop I refered to was the suggestion that we try to avoid anything that could be construed as offensive toward some group or other. Is that really possible?

    It is not possible to do this to the extent we would like to, I’m sure.

  128. #128 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#118)

    A. Noyd, I’ve reread those sentences. None of them address Saadia’s situation or critiques.

    All right, if Saadia herself wants to tell me I’ve unfairly lumped her in with the people characterizing SC’s comments as anti-Semitic or reasonably interpreted as anti-Semitic, I’ll withdraw the challenge to her. It seemed to me that’s where she was going in the comment I pulled that quote from. I could be wrong but, frankly, I don’t trust your reading comprehension enough to take your word on it. The challenge stands as is for everyone else, including you.

    As for the specifics of how someone can reasonably think whatever, I addressed that already, in comment 95.

    No, the most specific you got in #95 was this massive generalization: “Denying the validity of being concerned about anti-Semitism, diminishing the scope of the problem, requiring concrete proof of things that society requires be kept hidden….” But you don’t say how any of SC’s comments do this! And that’s my point. Can you take one or two of SC’s comments quoted by Greg and show in what way they “deny validity” or “diminish scope” or “require proof”? Can you show that your interpretations are reasonably achieved, enough that we should all avoid making such statements, regardless of context? You’ve made assertion after assertion after assertion, but you’ve done nothing in the way of backing them up.

  129. #129 kt
    February 12, 2010

    Man, this mess is making a lot of people look bad. I’m a now-and-then reader of all these things. I don’t see how Salty Current is an anti-Semite. I don’t see how Stephanie is really making sense here, and I usually agree with her. I agree that Greg writing out the comments at issue has illuminated things: it seems like there is a whole lot of nothing going on. I myself will avoid talking to Henry Gee ever, because from the reactions he’s had I’m afraid anything I say will be taken wrong and I’ll be yelled at and accused of being a Nazi. (I hate it when I’m trying to be honestly responsive to a situation and people accuse me of being a Jew-hater, an apologist for the patriarchy, a man-hater, etc. — all of which have happened, sometimes simultaneously! Try talking about maternal health in the Gaza strip and you can experience it too!)

    I’m a woman in science and I have to say that discerning when to react to something *as a woman in science* and when to ignore it or put aside the gendered aspect is very important. You need to know your audience and use that if you want a specific result from your reaction. Henry Gee should have thought more about his audience; he reacted to his past rather than to the present at that conference. Salty Current maybe ought to have thought about her audience (although I can’t give any useful advice at all as I would have reacted similarly). I feel bad that she’s gotten all this flak. I feel bad that we can’t talk about some things because they’ve been contaminated by the dog-whistles mentioned above.

  130. #130 Allen
    February 12, 2010

    Whoever called Salty Current antisemitic needs to apologize

    OK, who was it? WHO WAS IT?????

    WHO THE FUCK WAS IT!!!!!!!

  131. #131 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    A. Noyd, requiring concrete proof:

    With the exception of your claim that “The British ‘left’ is anti-Semitic,” which would need to be made in a much more nuanced way and substantiated.

    In any case, if he wants to have a discussion about it in a relevant context, he needs to be much more specific about what and which groups he’s talking about, and provide evidence for his claims.

    diminishing the scope of the problem (by comparison):

    No, it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust.

    Denying the validity of being concerned about anti-Semitism:

    Unless he was talking about its implications for commenting and commenting policies on UK blogs, I don’t see the relevance.

    Who gives a shit if he’s Jewish? Of what possible relevance is that to this discussion?

    This isn’t that hard.

  132. #132 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    kt, I’m not surprised I don’t sound like I’m making much sense here, particularly since I’m refusing to repeat things I’ve said elsewhere to the same people. If I can help you, I will.

  133. #133 MartinM
    February 12, 2010

    diminishing the scope of the problem (by comparison):

    No, it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust.

    By that reasoning, any invocation of Godwin’s law is ‘diminishing the scope of the problem.’ I guess all Nazi comparisons are automatically valid.

  134. #134 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    @87: StephanieZ, you’ve just flat-out called me a liar rather than admit that you might be wrong about my opinions- a subject on which I speak with more authority than you. That’s pitiful.

    Would you care to apologise, or would you like to lose some more credibility first?

  135. #135 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    I fail to see what’s “diminishing the scope of the problem” by pointing out, correctly and relevantly, that it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust.

    It isn’t. My Jewish friends don’t resort to that, without good reason—which there evidently was not—and would be astonished by any denial that it isn’t normal.

    Imagine SC had said, in that context, that it is normal for (Jewish) people to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust.

    Holy crap.

    That would be tantamount to saying that Jews cannot and should not be reasoned with, and that would be horrendously antisemitic, as well as being blatantly false.

    Some things Stephanie is saying—and the degree to which she strains at such things—seem to indicate that she thinks that Jews cannot and should not be reasoned with.

    I don’t think she thinks that, but she’s arguing a very weird position here, which seems to amount to advising people not to get into arguments with Jews—even if they come onto your turf and pick a fight—because if they falsely accuse you of being genocidal, you’re seriously fucked and can do no right. If you argue with a Jew, and they play the Nazi card, you lose.

    That can’t be right.

    I’m sorry, but I have a considerably more respect for Jews than that, based on long experience. I am quite certain that most are not Henry Gee, or even close.

  136. #136 davem
    February 12, 2010

    Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick, what’s your problem, Stephanie?

    It looks to me like you’re really, really desperate to prove SC anti-Semitic. Various people here write perfectly reasonable, simple sentences, which convey exact meanings, and you interpret them as almost their exact opposite, especially if you can glean some anti-semitic sentiment out of doing so. The trouble is, all that anti-semitism is coming out of your fevered imagination.

    You get asked perfectly reasonable questions, then instead of a straight-forward reply, you just can’t seem to help yourself slip in some nasty snide comment that this could of course, all be anti-semitic.

    Before this fracas, your posts usually made sense; they don’t any more. Get over it. You and Greg have a lot of apologising to do, and pronto.

    As to Elaine, Saadia and co, are they your sock-puppets? They seem to have the same failures in basic reading comprehension as you do.

    To Greg: if you have to stop the anti-blogger comments, that’ll be because you’ve lost the argument.

    Let’s see: Top right/RSS Feeds/Greg Laden’s Blog/right click/delete

    I’m out of here.

  137. #137 AdamK
    February 12, 2010

    Um, as a Jewish atheist (one generation removed from the Holocaust) I cannot, try as I will, see how SC’s comments can in any way be construed as anti-Semitic, unless your paranoia interferes with your cognitive processing.

    You would have to (a.) presuppose that anyone is guilty of anti-Semitism until proven otherwise and (b.) twist her comments into fanciful shapes, to conclude otherwise.

    (She is a heck of an insult-tosser, but I kind of like that about her. I’m sure if we counted them up, she’d be getting more than she gave.)

  138. #138 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    @Stephanie Z in 131

    *facepalm*

    Okay, up in 128 I said “But you don’t say how any of SC’s comments do this,” and you still don’t. I repeated this by asking, “Can you take one or two of SC’s comments quoted by Greg and show in what way [emphasis added] they ‘deny validity’ or ‘diminish scope’ or ‘require proof’?” Do you seriously not get that I’m asking for a hint of rational analysis?! For you to provide reasonable support for linking her comments to your interpretations? To outline the thought proccesses that got you there and perhaps explain why we should honor the potential for making such connections by not saying such things ever?

    Let’s take your first one. When SC says, “With the exception of your claim that ‘The British “left” is anti-Semitic,’ which would need to be made in a much more nuanced way and substantiated,” what part of her implied request for substantiation delves into the realm of things “society requires be kept hidden”? How could asking for support for a blanket statement be in any way anti-Semitic?

    When she says, “No, it isn’t normal for someone to accuse people in the course of a debate of desiring to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust,” what about that diminishes the scope of the problem (presumably the problem of the continued existence of anti-Semitism)? How do you get to the conclusion she’s being dismissive here by pointing out a simple fact?

    And I have no idea where you get “denying the validity of being concerned about anti-Semitism” out of either of those last snippets. In fact, I get the sense the first was made in an attempt to support the validity of having such concern because (justified or not) making broad, vague, and unsubstantiated accusations of anti-Xism tends to work against the X in question, whereas specifying who, how, and why forces everyone to evaluate the claim rather than dismissing it.

    So, care to try again, this time supplying the “how”?

  139. #139 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Yes, MartinM, communication is hard.

    Stephen, what reason have you given me to trust you?

    Paul, are you saying all Jews are just like your friends?

  140. #140 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z,
    From #131, I conclude that you are either insane, or a pathological liar. None of what you quote could reasonably be regarded as antisemitic. Do you, in fact, think it is normal, in the course of a debate, to accuse those you are arguing with of wanting to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust?

    Did you notice that Greg tried to avoid continuing the discussion but was forced to do so by Salty Current’s own blog post? Did you notice that again and again Greg says the opposite of what you are saying he said? Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater. But Laden clearly thinks not and has said so nany times. – Dunningan@98

    Where’s the outrage over this disgusting misogynistic nonsense?

    Greg Laden said:
    there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) of the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current).
    Assuming the second “of” was meant to be “or”, where’s Greg Laden?

  141. #141 Stephen Wells
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie: are you seriously saying that you assume everyone’s a liar until they prove otherwise? And that you speak with more authority than I do about my own cognitive and emotional state?

    I pity you.

  142. #142 MartinM
    February 12, 2010

    Yes, MartinM, communication is hard.

    Then try harder.

  143. #143 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Nice reading comprehension fail, y’all. I didn’t say any of those statements said anything anti-Semitic. I was being asked to justify comment 95:

    The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.

    Go look up “dog whistle” if you still don’t get it. Are you all so terribly desperate to believe I called SC anti-Semitic? You can’t settle for me calling her an asshole?

  144. #144 Paul W.
    February 12, 2010

    Paul, are you saying all Jews are just like your friends?

    Are you that stupid?

  145. #145 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#143)

    Nice reading comprehension fail, y’all. I didn’t say any of those statements said anything anti-Semitic. I was being asked to justify comment 95:

    The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.

    Which you failed to do. Again.

    Go look up “dog whistle” if you still don’t get it.

    It’s your responsibility to show how anything SC said could be such a “dog whistle.”

  146. #146 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z,
    From #131, I conclude that you are either insane, or a pathological liar. None of what you quote could reasonably be regarded as antisemitic. Do you, in fact, think it is normal, in the course of a debate, to accuse those you are arguing with of wanting to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust?

    Did you notice that Greg tried to avoid continuing the discussion but was forced to do so by Salty Current’s own blog post? Did you notice that again and again Greg says the opposite of what you are saying he said? Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater. But Laden clearly thinks not and has said so nany times. – Dunningan@98

    Where’s the outrage over this disgusting misogynistic nonsense?

    Greg Laden said:
    there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) of the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current).
    Assuming the second “of” was meant to be “or”, where’s Greg Laden?

  147. #147 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    My responsibility on what basis, A. Noyd. Your sayso? You paying for my time? I’ve already explained this elsewhere, but I don’t care what your opinion is. If you want some information in order to understand what’s being said around you, you can ask for it nicely.

    If that’s too much for your pride, stick around. Someone’s likely to be less petty than you are, and you can read the explanation given to them.

  148. #148 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Knockgoats, I’m not repeating things just for your benefit. See the conversation I had with Tulse and comment 148. As for where Greg is, why do you think I’d know? I assume he’s still home with a sick baby, but that’s only on the basis of prior comments.

    What’s with needing me to do all your reading for you?

  149. #149 Nepenthe
    February 12, 2010

    In case there was any doubt, you sir have well made the case that you are an enormous asshat.

  150. #150 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z,
    From #131, I conclude that you are either insane, or a pathological liar. None of what you quote could reasonably be regarded as antisemitic. Do you, in fact, think it is normal, in the course of a debate, to accuse those you are arguing with of wanting to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust?

    Did you notice that Greg tried to avoid continuing the discussion but was forced to do so by Salty Current’s own blog post? Did you notice that again and again Greg says the opposite of what you are saying he said? Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater. But Laden clearly thinks not and has said so nany times. – Dunningan@98

    Where’s the outrage over this disgusting misogynistic nonsense?

    Greg Laden said:
    there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) of the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current).
    Assuming the second “of” was meant to be “or”, where’s Greg Laden?

  151. #151 beebeeo
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z: “The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.”

    Why can’t people judge comments on what is being said, without hypothezising about the motives (racist or not)?
    I guess this should be the default mode, unless there is at least some good evidence to suppose otherwise. So if one has at least some evidence to support an accusation of racism or anti-semitism, then I guess it would be ok to question the other persons motives.
    Just some comments that could, maybe, under certain circumstances be misunderstood is not enough, IMHO.

  152. #152 Spartan
    February 12, 2010

    One question I have is what amount of responsibility, if any, does Greg have for statements referring to what ‘some people’ may think. To be absolutely fair, Greg quickly made clear a few times that he did not think personally that SC had anti-semitic issues, but that some people might think that. But then what is one left to think about the statement? If I said, ‘some people may think Greg is anti-Christian because he believes in evolution’, I think the proper response is ‘so what, who cares’ because said people are obviously mistaken and irrational on so many levels.

    As much as I generally disdain connotations, is it unreasonable to interpret what was said as, “some people may think SC has anti-semitic issues, but I don’t think that, but I wouldn’t be even mentioning this unless those same people had somewhat of a point”. If no, why even mention it; just to be informative? How much does anyone care what unreasonable people think about them personally?

  153. #153 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z,
    From #131, I conclude that you are either insane, or a pathological liar. None of what you quote could reasonably be regarded as antisemitic. Do you, in fact, think it is normal, in the course of a debate, to accuse those you are arguing with of wanting to torch synagogues and perpetrate a holocaust?

    Did you notice that Greg tried to avoid continuing the discussion but was forced to do so by Salty Current’s own blog post? Did you notice that again and again Greg says the opposite of what you are saying he said? Did you also notice that Salty Current is the greatest bitch on the internet and does not deserve, and seems unable to appreciate, Greg’s relatively positive treatment of her? And that she’s stupid?

    I happen to think Salty Current is an enabler of anti Semitic behavior if not an out and out Jew Hater. But Laden clearly thinks not and has said so nany times. – Dunningan@98

    Where’s the outrage over this disgusting misogynistic nonsense?

    Greg Laden said:
    there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) of the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current).
    Assuming the second “of” was meant to be “or”, where’s Greg Laden?

  154. #154 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    Apologies for the multiple posts.

    Stephanie W., Greg has commented since Dunningan’s disgusting misogynistic outburst, but couldn’t be bothered to refer to it specifically – that’s why I asked. All you found to say about it was “Tulse, “horrifically”? You might be overstating your case a little.”, and later, in response to Tulse: “Tulse, I agree. I’m sensitive to Dunnigan’s apparent position of owning it and being willing to deal with everyone’s opinion on the subject, though.”. So you’re keen to be “sensitive” to a misogynistic shit, but not to the recipient of his insults. Sums you up, really.

  155. #155 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    That of was supposed to be an or.

    I’ve noticed that some of you are not following the rules of this thread. Don’t make me warn you again.

  156. #156 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#147)

    My responsibility on what basis, A. Noyd. Your sayso?

    It’s your responsibility to SC and everybody as the one making the accusation, as the one who claims to see these mysterious connections. Suppose I accused you of seducing your father, aborting your sister/daughter and going on to become a teenage prostitute. I would never actually accuse you of that, but if you don’t agree accusations automatically demand support by the accuser, you’re essentially absolving this hypothetical me of the responsibility to support such ugly remarks.

    If you want some information in order to understand what’s being said around you, you can ask for it nicely.

    Nicely?! It’s not nice to say people are using anti-Semitic “dog whistles.” (Nor is it nice to accuse someone of being a liar, like you did with Stephen.) You have no justification for your accusations. So no, I don’t think you get to set the tone. I don’t think anyone has to be nice in asking you to cough up some support for the bullshit you’re spouting.

    And here’s the thing, Steph. You can pretend all you want you’re refusing because you don’t want to give into rude demands, but outside your head “won’t” looks exactly the same as “can’t.” And by your own standards, we shouldn’t believe you when you say you can support your accusations but won’t. I know I sure as hell don’t.

  157. #157 Josh
    February 12, 2010

    there will be no bashing of the blogger (me) or the person who whom this missive was written (Salty Current). . . I’ve noticed that some of you are not following the rules of this thread. Don’t make me warn you again.

    Says the man who opened up his blog as a platform for publicly bashing and misrepresenting her. That’s rich, Laden.

    Added by editor: “But what do I know, I’m a moron.”

  158. #158 Stephanie Z
    February 12, 2010

    Annoyance, if you made accusations like that, I would laugh my ass off. And once again, I don’t much care what this looks like to you. You’ve given me no reason to.

    Stephen pities me? Eek. Gasp. Wait. Who’s Stephen?

    But once again, your reading comprehension fails you. I have not said SC was using dog whistles. beebeeo gets it, I think.

    beebeeo, this refers back to my original argument with SC, but I don’t know that anyone is specifically right or wrong to question someone’s motivation under specific circumstances. It’s a gray area with a lot of room for negotiation, and any assumptions carry risks. I do think, however, that if someone is going to insist that SC’s motivations be assumed to be pure until perfectly proven otherwise, that same courtesy ought to be extended to the people she’s arguing with.

  159. #159 Recall
    February 12, 2010

    One question I have is what amount of responsibility, if any, does Greg have for statements referring to what ‘some people’ may think. To be absolutely fair, Greg quickly made clear a few times that he did not think personally that SC had anti-semitic issues, but that some people might think that.

    Some people would say it’s a real douchebag move.


    beebeeo, this refers back to my original argument with SC, but I don’t know that anyone is specifically right or wrong to question someone’s motivation under specific circumstances. It’s a gray area with a lot of room for negotiation, and any assumptions carry risks. I do think, however, that if someone is going to insist that SC’s motivations be assumed to be pure until perfectly proven otherwise, that same courtesy ought to be extended to the people she’s arguing with.

    Speaking of motivations, why are you engaging in this argument?

  160. #160 Paul
    February 12, 2010

    I do think, however, that if someone is going to insist that SC’s motivations be assumed to be pure until perfectly proven otherwise, that same courtesy ought to be extended to the people she’s arguing with.

    Your lies and arguments in bad faith in the past couple threads have long shattered the assumption of pure motivation on your part (no, we didn’t forget that you kept claiming Laden had given examples, which he did not do until this blog post). SC had no such poisoned well before her motivations were questioned. Laden’s inability to answer direct questions for days at a time killed the same assumption for him.

    The situations are in no way equal.

  161. #161 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    Paul, do you think that there some rule that if a random person (such as yourself) asks me a question on a comment on a blog post that I am required to address the comment in a particular time frame, or even ever, or else be judged to be somehow not worthy of fair treatment or some other social amenity that, perhaps, you reserve for yourself?

    Seriously Paul? Really?

    How the fuck does that work? Is it really my job to sit here and monitor these comments and then meet your expectations as to when, how, or if I respond? Do you honestly believe that?

    Are you for real, Paul? OMG.

    I do not need to read any comments on this blog. Or all. Or I can read what I want and ignore what I want. I am not obligated to read, or respond to, anything. Nothing. Nada.

    Holy crap, Paul. Holy fucking crap.

  162. #162 Recall
    February 12, 2010

    How the fuck does that work? Is it really my job to sit here and monitor these comments and then meet your expectations as to when, how, or if I respond? Do you honestly believe that?

    Aren’t you doing exactly that right now?

  163. #163 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    Recall, doing what right now?

  164. #164 Recall
    February 12, 2010

    Responding to questions and comments.

  165. #165 Paul
    February 12, 2010

    Seriously Paul? Really?

    No, and don’t put those words in my mouth. You’ve been fucking slandering SC for days with shit like calling her “Salty Cracks” while refusing to actually answer to anything she said. If you said nothing, that is one thing. When you present things in a one sided fashion to make someone look bad, you do not deserve any such assumption of fairness (which is what I was talking about, Stephanie’s assertion that you and her deserve the same assumption of innocence that SC does in this situation).

  166. #166 A. Noyd
    February 12, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#157)

    Annoyance, if you made accusations like that, I would laugh my ass off.

    Suppose I made that accusation in front of a bunch of people who took it seriously, then. Kind of like, oh, that accusation you’re Greg’s sidekick. Didn’t laugh that one off, did you, Girl Wonder? Noooo, you wanted SC taken to task over it.

    But once again, your reading comprehension fails you. I have not said SC was using dog whistles.

    Okay, you’re right. You didn’t say it explicitly, you merely implied it heavily. My bad. Here’s what you did say: “The problem is that these statements are very hard to distinguish from the things that anti-Semites find it socially acceptable to say that still help their cause.” Which, factoring in how you brought up “the naive person who does actually deal with anti-Semitism in their surroundings” as a hypothetical listener, means you think someone could reasonably take SC’s words as anti-Semitic dog whistles.

    There’s plenty there begging for justification among all the split hairs. You need to explain what you were getting at up in post #131. You need to spell out those connections. But you can’t, can you? You’re incapable of accounting for anything you’ve asserted because there simply is no justification. There’s no there there. You won’t admit that, so you seek diversion after diversion after diversion. Which is weird, juxtaposed with your insistence you don’t care about my opinion or how “won’t” looks just like “can’t.” If you really don’t care that you come off as an intellectually dishonest sycophant, then just stop responding.

    beebeeo gets it, I think.

    If you approve of beebeeo’s analysis, then either you don’t understand it or you’re admitting that you’re trying to say is pointless. Do you really agree that what you’re saying as outlined above is the equivalent of, “if we strip SC’s comments of context and pretend really hard they were being spoken by an anti-Semite for nefarious purposes, then they could maybe be seen as anti-Semitic”? I mean, we could as easily say that about anything anyone could ever utter, so it’s ridiculous to even bring up if you don’t have SC in the sights of some bizarre agenda.

  167. #167 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    Recall, selectively.

    Now, for the rest of you, I wonder if we could get a few bars of “We are the world” going here. What do you say???

  168. #168 Blind Squirrel
    February 12, 2010

    Greg are you really adding words to peoples posts without attribution?

    BS

  169. #169 Greg Laden
    February 12, 2010

    And, by that last post, I really did mean to remind you to start behaving. All of you.

  170. #170 ccp
    February 12, 2010

    But what do I know, I’m a moron.

    But what do I know, I’m a moron.

    Author?

    Author?

    Me. And, and thanks for your understanding.

  171. #171 Peter Beattie
    February 12, 2010

    » Stephanie Z:
    Peter wants anti-Semitism to be ignored, since it’s not such a big deal.

    What a nasty whopper of a lie. Even when I point out to you in detail that you keep ignoring what I say repeatedly and explicitly in my comments, you continue your self-righteous little smear campaign. Your behaviour here is just as disgraceful as that of the Lying for Jesus crowd, and it’s the one thing that actually scares me in other human beings: blindness to one’s own fallibility because one is following a Just Cause. But you’re not being just, you’re just being delusional.

  172. #172 Kyorosuke
    February 13, 2010

    It is worth pointing out that the comment by Josh @175 may have been edited by this blog’s author. Important to note.

  173. #173 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    Recall, I was already part of the discussion when SC joined it. I haven’t left. Why are you here?

    Paul, what lies? I said Greg pointed to comments, not to quotes. And you’re entirely missing which conversation I’m referring to.

    A. Noyd, good luck finding a bunch of people who will take those accusations seriously whom I would take seriously in turn. No, “sidekick” doesn’t worry me. I simply find it laughable that the people who are all concerned about the sexism of SC being called a bitch don’t apply the same standard to her speech. Why is that? As for your implications, bite me. If you can’t or won’t read, that isn’t my problem either. And I think you left a word out of your last paragraph that is critical to your point, because it’s not making sense as written.

    Peter, I apologize if I misrepresented you. You dropped out of the conversation just as we were getting to quantifying it, so I admit I still don’t understand where you draw the line between publicizing a problem and sensationalizing it. Or between anti-Semitism and shark attacks in Britain.

  174. #174 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie, I would be ever so fascinated by your take on comment #171. Thank you in advance.

    BS

  175. #175 A. Noyd
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie Z (#172)

    I simply find it laughable that the people who are all concerned about the sexism of SC being called a bitch don’t apply the same standard to her speech. Why is that?

    There’s nothing gendered in calling someone a sidekick, but hey, why not pile on another not-quite-accusation devoid of substance, eh? Though, if you really did agree with Irene that it was sexist, you’ve even less excuse for not jumping on Dunnigan for calling SC a bitch since that comment came after the whole sidekick bit. Or is it okay to use unambiguous hate-for-group-X language? You’re just all kinds of dishonest, aren’t you, Steph.

    As for your implications, bite me. If you can’t or won’t read, that isn’t my problem either.

    No amount of reading on my part will suddenly poof justifications or explanations for your assertions into existence, Steph, because you never made any. You never even tried, though if you could manage it, I expect you would for the “hah, so there” factor you seem get off on. Do you think if you say I’m missing justifications, others will believe I overlooked them? You’re more of a child than the naive little victim of anti-Semitism you pretend to be speaking up for. Trying to silence an actual person with that patronizing antic does more of a disservice actual Jewish people than anything you could possibly imagine SC ever said. But what do you care, eh?

    And I think you left a word out of your last paragraph that is critical to your point, because it’s not making sense as written.

    Ohhh, you got me. I left out a word. I’m sorry you’re too dumb to figure out what I said without it. Here: “you’re admitting that what you’re trying to say is pointless.” It’s true, too. Whatever you’re trying to say is either pointless or so unsubstantiated it makes you look bad to have said it. Thank you for making my point that you have no argument, and have fun basking in your self-righteous stupidity.

  176. #176 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie, I would be ever so fascinated by your take on comment #171. Thank you in advance.

    BS

  177. #177 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Kyorosuke It was indeed. Behavior has consequences.

  178. #178 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Noyd: “There’s nothing gendered in calling someone a sidekick”

    Is that what you think? I think you thinking this is itself gendered. You would be a better person if you rethought this.

  179. #179 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    There’s nothing gendered in calling someone a sidekick, but hey, why not pile on another not-quite-accusation devoid of substance, eh?

    Nothing gendered but its history of use, Annoyance, and its stereotyped and inappropriate descriptions of the power relationship between the people it’s being used to describe. Find me places where “sidekick” is used to describe the guy in a male-female pair. Find who started this argument. Tell me what about any of this discussion would lead one of those mythical reasonable people to think my role in it was subservient.

    Nope, this is just another one of those double standards that Pharyngulites have employed consistently through this argument.

    By the way, Annoyance, that whole calling me “Steph” thing? Also gendered. Unless you’re female, you’re leaving unbroken a long streak of guys who think it’s somehow clever to adopt the diminutive form of my name while arguing with me.

    BS, I think he was warned. Repeatedly. Also that the comment referred to is at 157 instead of 175, but I mention that only so people can follow the discussion.

  180. #180 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Greg:

    There’s nothing gendered in calling someone a sidekick”

    Is that what you think? I think you thinking this is itself gendered. You would be a better person if you rethought this.

    Huh? I’m trying to rethink this, but getting nowhere.

    When I think of sidekicks, all the examples that come quickly to mind are male sidekicks of males:

    1. Robin, of Batman and Robin
    2. Ed McMahon of Carson and McMahon
    3. Tonto, of The Lone Ranger and Tonto
    4. Kato, of The Green Hornet and Kato
    5. Mothman on The Tick.

    I have a hard time thinking of female sidekicks of males, even when I try. I keep coming up with female-female pairs that are not sidekick relations (e.g., Cagney and Lacey, Thelma and Louise) and only a few sidekicks (Xena and whatshername?).

    After mentally going through about 20 pairs, and finding no female sidekicks of males, I gave up. That is evidently not how I think about it.

    Evidently my thinking is gendered on the subject—there’s a huge bias toward male-male pairs.

    I fail to see how that’s “gendered” in the way you and Stephanie seem to think—a way that’s unflattering to Stephanie because she’s a woman.

    To me it’s evidence that we’re not particularly sexist about it; despite the fact that the salient examples of sidekicks are male sidekicks of males, we go ahead and apply it to a female in a male-female pair, because we see a sidekick-like relationship there, in a way that is independent of the sexes of the people involved.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t at present see how this is sexist.

    I suppose it could be sexist, if you think it’s demeaning, and Stephanie is being demeaned because she’s a woman.

    I don’t think that’s true, myself.

    I also think that using the term “sidekick” is flattering in a certain way.

    For example, at The Intersection there are certain people who pop up and defend Mooney’s position for him, and try to marginalize and ridicule anybody who disagrees.

    Those people are not called sidekicks, and I think the reason is interesting and relevant.

    I think the reason is that those people’s status is too much lower than Mooney’s, in that context. They are not his friends, not nearly his colleagures, and they get little explicit praise or endorsement from him.

    Stephanie’s relationship to you is different. She is a blogger herself, who you take seriously as such. (As do I.) She is also your editor in another context, which is not obviously a very subservient or subsidiary position. She’s more than a flunky, or a self-appointed Thread Cop.

    Recognizing her as like a sidekick is partly a recognition of her not-too-much-lower status than yours, here.

    I don’t think that’s unflattering except to the extent that it emphasizes that her status is somewhat (and significantly) lower than yours.

    I don’t think it’s interestingly gendered, either.

  181. #181 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    In the future, how will we know which posts have been altered? I would not care to respond to an altered post. It seems to me that this policy of yours makes communication rather problematical.

    BS

    [Added by greg: Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much? ]

  182. #182 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    By the way, Annoyance, that whole calling me “Steph” thing? Also gendered. Unless you’re female, you’re leaving unbroken a long streak of guys who think it’s somehow clever to adopt the diminutive form of my name while arguing with me.

    Maybe, but I wonder. To me, “Stephanie” sounds considerably more “feminine” but less familiar than “Steph.” (Maybe I’m biased because the closest friend I’ve had called “Steph” was a guy named Stephen? I don’t think it’s just that, though. Names ending with those syllables, like Stephanie or Tiffany, sound kinda preciously feminine to me. YMMV, a lot.)

    To me, that comes across as being being annoyingly familiar, like calling somebody buddy or pal precisely because they’re not your buddy or pal. (Basically a getting-up-in-your-grill thing, like a much milder version of what Greg was doing with me when he went off on my floppy ears, and squeezing them until I tear up.)

    Again, the only way this comes across as possibly sexist to me is if you think that A. Noyd is only doing it (the getting-in-your-face thing) because you’re female. That’s far from apparent to me.

    Near as I can tell, you’re being treated like one of the guys.

  183. #183 Ewan/Rokkaku
    February 13, 2010

    Near as I can tell, you’re being treated like one of the guys.

    Yeah, but that in itself is gendered. Wibble.

  184. #184 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Re: changing what commenters wrote…

    I think one of the comments in question is #170 now.

    For the record, I think that rewriting people’s comments is way uncool, and violates a norm of civility in a more serious way than censoring or banning people.

    Near as I can tell, nobody did anything to justify being treated that way.

    More importantly, it violates a norm of civility toward other readers. We don’t want to see people saying things they did not in fact say. It’s confusing and unfair to us, even if you think the particular person whose words are getting mangled was “fair game” because they were “asking for it.” Revisionism sucks even worse than censorship.

  185. #185 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    The whole shortening/changing of a name thing is interesting. Let’s try to step back for a moment and assume for the present that if anyone has shorted or altered another person’s name that they did so with no particular nefarious intent and that this does not make a person bad. Then, we can actually talk about it and not have it be fight, and possibly get somewhere. (and I appreciate that this is more or less happening here on this thread already)

    My personal view is that changing someone’s name is risky because they may not make that name. Therefore, for me, there are a number of people that I’ve known for years and have very close relationships and I am still using their whole given name, while their friends and family don’t.

    Here’s what’s funny about this: When I eventually get around to asking “do you prefer ‘Melanie’ or ‘Mel’ … lots of people seem to call you ‘Mel'” and I get back “I know. I hate ‘Mel’ … I wish my family and husband did not call me that. I appreciate that you use my whole name” (that was a semi-made up example).

    So, anyway, I think it is good to ask, then call people what they prefer. Some people don’t care, some care a lot.

    As to if is sexist: I would say no, not by default. A name change can have meaning, and it just might be disrespectful. When the commenter forerly known as Becca would call me Greggo, I’m certain it was as a matter of disrespect, because disrespect was her thing. But that wasn’t sexist, I think.

    If a male uses a lower-respect or diminutive form for a female, is THAT sexist? No, absolutely not. Neither was when I called Salty Current a bitch. She is. And so are a lot of people, and about half of them are men. I’ve called CPP a bitch. Paul calling Stephanie “Steph” is not necessarily sexist, in my view.

    On the other hand, if a person feels that it is sexist, then in some way it is even if the sayer didn’t intend it. If Salty Current said to me “when you call me a bitch I feel it is sexist” I would respond “Well, OK, then. Your a bastard fuckwad. Better?” and we would be friends after that. If Stephanie feels “Steph” is sexist, it does not make Paul sexist, but he should say “Oh, OK, dear, I won’t do that again” (kidding about the ‘dear’ part) and no hard feelings.

    I do tend to agree with Paul that “Steph” is less diminutive sounding than “Stephanie” for the simple reason that “dimunitive” and “feminized” have developed to have the same sound/look in English names. The root Stephan (or some version of it) has been feminized, as is the case with so many names.

    Could be worse. We could be speaking Russian.

  186. #186 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie,

    I said Greg pointed to comments, not to quotes.

    My impression has been that Greg generally made reference to her comments or “her commentary” without being clear which particular comments were objectionable, or what particular ideas expressed in them were the objectionable ones.

    That is why we were pleasantly surprised—and sincerely glad, contra your protestations—when Greg posted the current post. Finally we had some specifics to look at, to try to make sense of his claims. That really is something we’ve been asking for, over and over, for days, and we got it. Cool.

    The fact that we don’t see those specific quotes as damning doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate having the specifics to judge for ourselves.

    The fact that we disagree with you doesn’t mean that we are insincere, as you seem to think.

    You and sometimes Greg keep bringing up the issue of whether you trust us, enough that it’s worth explaining or justifying yourself to us.

    For us, that is no the issue. The issue is whether we should take your word for it that you’re seeing something that’s actually there, and making reasonable accusations rather than unreasonable ones.

    In our world, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim, most especially if that claim is an unflattering accusation, such as antisemitism—or even a supposed appearance of antisemitism by someone who strives not be or appear antisemitic.

    Through all of these threads you have tried to make it sound like people from Pharyngula kept dragging things back to the subject of Henry Gee, and specific events at Pharyngula, when that’s not what this is about.

    I think there’s a little truth to that, but not much. One reason we’ve been unable to get off that subject is that you and Greg keep confirming to us that you do think particular things about that event, which we disagree with, and that you do take them as examples of what you’re currently talking about.

    You also appear to be using what Greg is overtly saying as a justification for what he and you said earlier, which we disagreed with, and still do.

    In the thread titled “Should Just Anyone be Allowed to Piss on Henry Gee’s Rug?”, I brought up what I considered an important issue, which has still mostly gone unaddressed.

    Greg conveniently talked about civility as though the issue was whether commenters stayed within blogger-stated and blogger-enforced rules, which I and others thought was simply wrong. What constitutes civility is largely a matter of social norms over and above the ground rules enforced by a blogger stating policies, censoring comments, and booting people. Even at Pharyngula.

    Greg persisted in this framing, which we persisted in disagree with.

    That had a big effect on the ensuing mess, to this day.

    One convenient consequence of Greg’s convenient framing is that Henry Gee apparently did not violate any relevant norms of civility at Pharyngula. He didn’t piss on the rug, or it doesn’t count, because people regularly piss on the rug and each other at Pharyngula, and PZ lets it happen. That framing allows you and Greg to say that Henry’s irrelevant, and is not an interesting example of the civility issues we’ve been talking about throughout.

    More importantly, that framing allowed Greg and you to freely dis SC. You could portray her as a whiner groundlessly claiming that Henry violated norms of civility that, supposedly, do not exist. You could ridicule her and other people at (or from) Pharyngula as people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

    We thought, and still do, that that framing is wrong, obtuse, misleading, and rather sleazy. There are important norms of civility at Pharyngula, and whether those norms are valid is central to all the major arguments we’ve been having through these three trainwreck threads. Not just about the specifics of what Henry did or didn’t say, or what SC did or didn’t advertently imply that might be construed as antisemitic, but about

    1) what constitues actual civility,

    2) whether there are basic principles of civility that apply across blogs, including Pharyngula and Greg Laden’s blog, and

    3) who has or hasn’t been violating those norms of civility

    One problem that you’ve had getting the conversation away from Henry and SC is that you keep appealing to your convenient framing when you dis and try to dismiss SC, and we don’t go along, on principle.

    Another problem is that you keep saying things that we think are simply false. We won’t let those things pass, even if they’re off topic, especially if they are unflattering to us or specifically SC.

    Once you make false claims about people, you can’t say that their responses are off-topic; you made them the topic. Deal with it.

    One of the persistent falsehoods, as we see it, is that you’ve claimed that Greg made things clear, and gave examples, when to the best of our knowledge, he hadn’t until the current post. You kept appealing to a certain view of events that we did not think was a consensus view, and still don’t. You used that as an excuse to dis SC, which we thought was sleazy, and still do.

    As I said, that’s why we are truly glad to have something concrete to evaluate.

    Another persistent falsehood that you kept asserting—in support of your convenient framing, and in the specific context of trying to marginalize and ridicule SC—was that we were making a straw man claim about Henry having called us Nazi-like.

    In this thread and the previous one, you’ve said things to the effect that SC’s an assclam for making something out of nothing, and derailing perfectly good threads to dwell on her petty old grievances.

    If you wanted to get off the subject of Henry Gee, or SC, you couldn’t have picked a worse way of going about it.

    Once you accuse somebody of being unreasonable, you have made that the topic.

    Once you accuse someone of falsely representing things, you have made the validity of their claims the topic.

    You made sure that SC had very good reason to discuss what Henry Gee actually said, and whether her grievances were real, and whether they were petty.

    If you don’t want people to defend themselves, stop accusing them. If you don’t want them to discuss their grievances, stop saying that their grievances are nonexistent or just petty.

    In your comment 21, you said to me:

    I got distracted by the fact that the rest of that comment is about getting other people to judge Henry. If that hasn’t been your actual intent in this thread of threads, I’m open to hearing what it is.

    As I briefly said before, you are quite right that one of my goals was to get people to judge Henry.

    I want to make it explicit that I was doing so because you made it the topic. SC’s petty old off-topic grievances are not that petty, are not that old, and are certainly not off-topic.

    The underlying themes of these three threads have been what constitutes civility on blogs, and on specific blogs, and now what constitutes intentional or inadvertent antisemitism or racism, or appearances of same.

    Notice that the only concrete instances of any of that have been around Henry Gee, Pharyngula, and SC.

    Like a lot of other people, I find a lot of what Greg says appealing at a certain high level and in a certain metaphorical way.

    But many of us have concerns about how the rubber meets the road. We have questions, and we need to work through examples, so that we can try to get clear on crucial issues like:

    1) when, exactly, are you being uncivil for focusing on a “rational argument,” and ignoring people’s strong feelings, vs. giving away the store by tiptoeing around loaded subjects

    2) what, exactly, constitutes antisemitism, or an appearance of antisemitism, or an inadvertent but negligent use of a dog whistle that sounds like antisemitism and might be reinforce antisemitism.

    We are not uninterested in what Greg is talking about. We just don’t know how the rubber meets the road, and we are wary because it often seems that he’s taking a circuitous route to justifying things he’s already said, which we disagree with, and doubt that he will ever address squarely enough to change our minds.

    I think that’s a reasonable suspicion, given his and your style of argument lately.

    We don’t think it’s any coincidence that Greg’s spectacularly loaded metaphor about firing squads is explicitly about Pharyngula (but not only Pharyngula) and about antisemitism or appearances of same at Pharyngula.

    It is utterly inevitable that we’d think the post was about Henry Gee and SC, because

    1) that is clearly the elephant in the room, and everybody who’s been paying attention knows it, and

    2) it is the only specific example of that sort of thing that we’ve been given, and it’s natural that we’d try to map the supposedly useful analogy onto that specific case to see if we can make the rubber usefully meet the road.

    3) you keep making specific, concrete claims about those people and those events, e.g., that Greg had already given specifics, and that SC was beating a straw man w.r.t. Henry.

    If you want to change the subject, change the subject.

    You can’t let go of what we consider to be some very convenient straw men. If you want us to agree with you, you have to make your case.

    It does not help to condescend to us, and tell us that you don’t care about our opinion. You evidently do, or at least you care about the subject of our opinion enough to keep trying to get the last word and frame things to your liking, and to get us to shut up.

    It doesn’t work, and isn’t going to work. That is not how we roll, and for us, it’s a matter of principle, as well as a matter of self-defense. We do have certain strong social norms at Pharyngula, and we think they’re valid in ways that apply here, too.

    We are not going to let it go before you do.

  187. #187 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    For the record, I think that rewriting people’s comments is way uncool, and violates a norm of civility in a more serious way than censoring or banning people.

    My blog comment system is so open that it is almost impossible to ban someone. But they can go away on their own. Consider that.

    But yes, it is a totally asshat thing to do. The person who does that is a person whom you can’t totally trust, unless you have already built a trusting relationship with that person.

    In my case, it is not that hard to build a trust relationship with me.

    In my case, if you come at me with both gloves off and acting like a flaming troll, there is no telling what can happen.

    Because I am, in fact, very capable of being the worst asshat you’ve ever met. (Although I do try not to be on other people’s blogs, which is more than can be said of almost every Pharngulista who has commented here recently!)

  188. #188 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    Paul, after comment 180, I was going to thank you for putting in some thought. It completely ignores that SC wasn’t going to address me at that point in any way she didn’t consider an insult (as evidenced by this thread and, I’m sure, Pharyngula open threads), but it at least does try to grapple with the term “sidekick” historically.

    Comment 181 is complete and utter “mansplainin,” though, in which my years of experience and observation mean nothing against your momentary situational impressions and feelings. And in which you, once again, ignore the fact that person to whom you’re attributing benign and friendly motives is engaged in an attempt to impugn me.

    I said that Greg warned Josh, not that Josh was asking for it. Consequences are frequently out of proportion to the original crime. Don’t read the signs before you go into the water, and you never know what you might find. That doesn’t mean the signs weren’t posted.

    And you do keep insisting that your local cultural values must be universal norms.

  189. #189 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Consequences are frequently out of proportion to the original crime.

    Actually, in my case, they are also utterly arbitrary. As I have said, I don’t read a lot of the comments. So a person may deserve serious consequences and I don’t notice them. Or, I just might be in a bad mood.

    Dealing with me on the internet is a lot like dealing with … a real person. This is not a service where you may expect certain results and consistency of those results.

  190. #190 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Greg,

    In the future, how will we know which posts have been altered? I would not care to respond to an altered post. It seems to me that this policy of yours makes communication rather problematical.

    Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much?

    That sounds good to me, so that we know when to consider saying “Here we see the violence inherent in the system! Here we see the violence inherent in the system!”

    :-)

  191. #191 Spartan
    February 13, 2010

    it at least does try to grapple with the term “sidekick” historically.

    I don’t think there’s much to grapple with. Most the definitions I can find simply say ‘chum’ or ‘pal’, which I’m pretty sure you’re not objecting to. Yes, historically many sidekicks have been of lesser power compared to whom they are sidekick to (and I was surprised to see that power relationship not included in the definitions I found) but in this context the word is accurate. This is Greg’s blog and you are a major presence here, and although I’ve only read the blog a short time, I have yet to see you disagree with Greg on anything; by coincidence or not, you two can most certainly come off as a team. This relationship exists even if we didn’t know you were a female and you signed your posts anonymously. This is Greg’s batcave so you’ll never be Batman, leaving Robin as an accurate analogy to how your role here may be perceived.

    I don’t disagree that it’s being used as a mild insult, but not that dissimilarly to the way some of have used ‘Pharyngulistas’. One connotation is that because you are a sidekick, your arguments are taken less seriously because of course you’re always going to support Greg’s side, just like arguments from ‘Pharyngulistas’ can be minimized because everyone just knows how irrational those sycophantic meanies are; argumentum ad labelum or some shit like that.

  192. #192 anon
    February 13, 2010

    I seldomly comment on scienceblogs, but what is going on here is simply incredible. Altering people’s comments is nothing but lying in an extremely sneaky way.

    And with both

    Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much?

    and

    Actually, in my case, they are also utterly arbitrary.

    to judge by, you admit yourself that nobody can trust your promise, should you give it.

    You owe an apology and should seriously reconsider your ethics.

  193. #193 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie,

    Paul, after comment 180, I was going to thank you for putting in some thought. It completely ignores that SC wasn’t going to address me at that point in any way she didn’t consider an insult (as evidenced by this thread and, I’m sure, Pharyngula open threads), but it at least does try to grapple with the term “sidekick” historically.

    Gosh, Stephanie, you could still thank me for the good stuff. It might make you look a little less like a you-can-guess-what.

    Of course, given that I don’t expect that, I count myself lucky that you did implicitly praise me in saying why you wouldn’t praise me; that counts for something. It also confirms my sense that you go a little heavy on the backhand.

    Comment 181 [renumbered 182 now, I think] is complete and utter “mansplainin,” though, in which my years of experience and observation mean nothing against your momentary situational impressions and feelings. And in which you, once again, ignore the fact that person to whom you’re attributing benign and friendly motives is engaged in an attempt to impugn me.

    Hmmm… maybe so, but I don’t see it.

    Notice that I hedged what I said in several ways… “seems” “maybe so, but” “not how it appears to me” and so on. I was sincerely acknowledging that it’s a complex subject and that I’d be open to changing my mansplainin’ mind.

    I do recognize the possibility that I’m a mansplainer; sometimes I am, and I’m open to having it pointed out when I am. I actually try to change my behavior on the basis of other people’s feminist sensitivities.

    (E.g., I generally avoid using epithet “bitch” at all because some people take it as insulting to women even when you apply it to a man; they interpret that as a sexist putdown, insulting a man even more by calling him a feminine insult. So I’ve tried to give that one up, because I can see how it can be interpreted that way even though I’m pretty sure I don’t mean it that way.)

    Your dismissing my reasoning as complete and utter “mansplainin” might be right—how can I know?—but it rings false to me, at present. Simply dismissing it that way, without trying to explain further, seems to me like glib womanalysis, which I don’t have much respect for.

    It is not true that “[your] years of experience and observation mean nothing against [my] momentary situational impressions and feelings.”

    I seriously considered what you said, weighing your years of experience more than nothing, though less than you apparently demand, thought about it, and didn’t buy it, provisionally, for now. And I told you why, partly because that’s part of setting myself up to be cogently corrected, should you actually have a good argument against what I’m actually thinking and why.

    I do take your years of experience as a woman seriously, and in particular your years of experience as a woman named Stephanie.

    I suspect that in many case, your being called Steph by an overly familiar many may in fact be sexist.

    I doubt it’s true in this particular case. I can easily imagine saying that very thing to you, in this very conversation, for the very reason I gave in the comment you womanalyzed away. I have a hard time imagining myself doing it for sexist reasons.

    I could be wrong; introspection is far from infallible, but that’s how I fallibly see it.

    What I don’t accept, which seems to bother you, is the idea that you have the trump card. Why should I accept such a thing? Am I supposed to think that women’s intuition is infallible? Sorry, but I’m not sexist in that way. I think this is exactly the fraught kind of thing where anybody of any sex can make a mistake either way in divining the intentions of others.

    One reason I say that is that people often use a diminutive form of my wife’s name, and she doesn’t like it. Interestingly, she has a rather masculine-sounding name, and the invariable diminutive of it is absolutely masculine-sounding. I am pretty sure that that’s usually an innocent if negligent mistake. The next most common mistake with my wifes name is that people sometimes don’t hear it clearly and misinterpret it as a very similar, more feminine sounding name. It can go either way, and it doesn’t seem to have any relation that either of us can divine to sexism; it’s mostly just annoying carelessness about what other people’s names actually are.

    Given years of experience with that—and my wife’s feminine and feminist perspective, based on many years experience with that sort of thing before I met her—I’d say that yeah, I do discount your seemingly simplistic explanations somewhat. With some good reason. It seems entirely possible to me that your judgement of such things is not perfect, and could even be biased, because you don’t have a control case that goes the other way, as we do.

    I said that Greg warned Josh, not that Josh was asking for it. Consequences are frequently out of proportion to the original crime. Don’t read the signs before you go into the water, and you never know what you might find. That doesn’t mean the signs weren’t posted.

    Okay. I have much less objection to that sort of thing if it’s explicit.

    And you do keep insisting that your local cultural values must be universal norms.

    There’s another straw man you’ve used several times over the last two or three threads.

    That is exactly what I’m not doing. I am not insisting that my local cultural values must be (or even are) universal norms.

    I am explicitly saying that it’s an interesting, complicated subject whether any particular norms apply across blogs, and if so, which ones. I’ve made that clear over and over again—leaving that possible interesting conversation open—and you consistently misrepresent it. I even proposed and justified a framework for discussing that very interesting subject, and you and Greg explicitly opted out of that discussion.

    Lighten up with the straw persons, okay?

  194. #194 Knockgoats
    February 13, 2010

    Because I am, in fact, very capable of being the worst asshat you’ve ever met. – Greg Laden

    I agree wholeheartedly. Well said.

  195. #195 Knockgoats
    February 13, 2010

    [Added by greg: Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much?]

    Or how about not doing it again simply because it’s the action of a dishonest shitbag without a shred of integrity?

  196. #196 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    [Added by greg: Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much? ]

    Yes, that would help a great deal. You could also never do it again because it is, like wrong to do.

    BS

  197. #197 Knockgoats
    February 13, 2010

    Point of information for Stephanie Z.: A. Noyd is female.

  198. #198 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Point of information for Stephanie Z.: A. Noyd is female.

    So “she” says, but why should Stephanie believe anything a Pharyngulista claims?

    Besides, even if she’s female, she could still be a mansplainer!

  199. #199 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    I have yet to see you disagree with Greg on anything;

    Well, we had a … let’s just call it a “discussion” … today about gun control.

  200. #200 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Anon, no, I do not suggest that I can’t be trusted. Not at all. Also, your statement uses the term “people” for what you percieve as an offense. You are exaggerating. Thus, you lie. Do you lie all the time mr. or mrs anonymous?

    I cringe when I see the word “admit” the word “judge” and the word “anonymous” in the same comment. Do you know that there are people who NEED to be anonymous for very valid and important reasons, and do you realize that Judge, Jury and Executioner Trolls such as yourself give all those people a bad name?

  201. #201 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Or how about not doing it again simply because it’s the action of a dishonest shitbag without a shred of integrity?

    NO, that would not be the reason, and I want to be clear about that.(Blind squirrel: Same message to you)

    Now, stop annoying me or I’ll do something bad to you. Not for revenge or anything. For fun.

    Oh, and I demand full credit for doing something for you specifically because you asked me. Not because you judged me. Do not mistake the two. You would be very, very wrong.

    And, normally when you ask someone to do something and they do it, you don’t respond by being more of an asshole than you were before. You usually either say thanks, or just shut up. I wonder if either of you (any of you) can handle that? I have y doubts.

    Too much time on the firing squad, likely .

  202. #202 PoxyHowzes
    February 13, 2010

    Just whiling away a snowbound afternoon reading through the BS here. I have to say, as a daily reader of GLB, that my experience of the blog of late is much as Sigmund’s. S/he said on another blog yesterday (Can’t do block quotes, so I did italics instead. The ellipsis indicates some editing of mine.):

    “The current pattern is to have Greg make an obtuse post with rather overblown claims and when challenged by commenters to back up his claims have the sidekick come on to insult those who would dare challenge Greg…
    Greg will then pop up to say he completely agrees with his sidekick.< !i>

    And so it was with most of the thread leading up to #123, when Batman returned and Robin dutifully effaced herself in the presence of The One.

    I was going to try to explain how vile, and mean, and demeaning I found this original post, and how empty (to limit my use of adjectives) the defenses of it.

    I was going to say how gobsmacked I was to read on a related thread that Greg believes his friend Henry Gee {Who has nothing, Nothing!, I tell you; NOTHING AT ALL!! to do with this thread} should be “cut some slack” on “this Jewish thing” (to quote Greg). I wonder, indeed, how this cutting of slack would work for Friend Gee {Who has nothing, Nothing!, I tell you; NOTHING AT ALL!! to do with this thread, which is about civility and discourse.}

    Should Friend Gee maybe get a complete pass for his coarse fulminating at an non-blog public event run by and attended by others? Does being “a big scary gruff powerful male” (nod nod, wink wink) excuse, because of “this Jewish thing” (to quote Greg) Friend Gee’s intimidating one or two audience members? Does the fact that they were women have any bearing on whether we are to give Friend Gee “a pass”? Shall his dropping of multiple f-bombs in that forum be “given a pass” and upgraded to “civil” because of “this Jewish thing” (to quote Greg).

    And I am by no means trying to imply anything — anything at all! — by my use of the quote marks and attribution for that vague, undefined usage “this Jewish thing. For I know that Greg knows exactly what “this Jewish thing” is, even if I don’t. After all, Greg has told us all that some of his best friends, acquaintances, and mentors, are Jewish! And he’s further told us how Britain’s behaviour toward the Jewish Zionists sucked.

    I was going to try find words to express my astonishment and outrage that Greg would blithely admit that his ideas of “civil discourse” include editing comments without telling anyone he’s done do. But I have no such words, and if I did they’d probably be edited out by the blogmaster.

    Let me instead just suggest that Greg confine his blog to baby vids of Huxley. They illustrate a productive use of the organ Greg also apparently uses to reason with.

  203. #203 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    Knockgoats, thanks for the information. At least something new and unusual has come out of all of this.

    Paul, in what way do either

    Unless you’re female, you’re leaving unbroken a long streak of guys who think it’s somehow clever to adopt the diminutive form of my name while arguing with me.

    or

    …my years of experience and observation…

    equate to fucking “women’s intuition”?

  204. #204 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    Greg, allow me to point out that you haven’t actually promised to never do it again.
    At which point I will shut up about it.

    BS

  205. #205 Stephen Wells
    February 13, 2010

    So it turns out that an atheist firing squad looks a lot like Greg shooting himself in the foot.

  206. #206 Paul W.
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie,

    If you actually paid attention to my explanation of why I didn’t just defer to your greater experience, you might have realized that the “women’s intuition” think was a humorous bit of hyperbole.

    But then, the Pharyngula habit of expecting people to separate snark from substance is clearly not a blogcultural universal.

  207. #207 A. Noyd
    February 13, 2010

    Stephanie Z

    Find me places where “sidekick” is used to describe the guy in a male-female pair.

    Off the top of my head, Ariel and Ursula from Little Mermaid both have male sidekicks, as does Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty. But I suppose you’ll pull a technicality if I don’t find citations where the males of a pair are described by others as sidekicks, right? Wanda Sykes considers her friend Keith Robinson to be her sidekick, and says so at 00:15 here. And a different example here: “Television used to value henchmen more highly. Matt Dillon had Chester on ‘Gunsmoke,’ and Mr. Roarke had Tattoo on ‘Fantasy Island.’ (Ms. [Chelsea] Handler may have hired her sidekick as an homage to Mr. Roarke’s right-hand man, since Mr. [Chuy] Bravo is about the same height as Hervé Villechaize).” Ta dah. Notice how the latter equates a sidekick with a right-hand man.

    Find who started this argument. Tell me what about any of this discussion would lead one of those mythical reasonable people to think my role in it was subservient.

    Which argument? Irene started the “calling people sidekicks is sexist” one. Now you’re running with it because it’s a prime distraction from your failure to support your pseudo-anti-Semitic dog whistles hokum. You need a new rope to keelhaul SC with. Interesting that your interpretation of sidekicks is one of subservience, by the way. That’s not necessarily the case; it’s incidental to the matter that your devotion is the fawning, sycophantic, “my buddy can do no wrong” sort. The reason you’re his sidekick is that you can’t be anything but second fiddle here, this not being your blog, but you presume to speak with a certain authority and you get recognition from him for it. You’ve got his back. You’re his girl Friday, his right-hand woman. The shoe, quite simply, fits.

    Nope, this is just another one of those double standards that Pharyngulites have employed consistently through this argument.

    Except that you haven’t demonstrated it’s sexist at all. That absence, combined with my examples to the contrary, shows there is no double standard on SC’s part. No double standard at all save your own when you fail even still to offer a word of criticism for Dunnigan’s sexist language. It’s just one more baseless assertion which, even if you could support it, wouldn’t excuse you from your own lapse.

    By the way, Annoyance, that whole calling me “Steph” thing? Also gendered. Unless you’re female,…

    Oh, so we can invoke context now when interpreting what others say? Or is that privilege only available to you, O Great Queen of the Double Standards? (Or is “Queen” sexist? Should I use “Monarch” instead? Hmm.) While a penis is nice to play with once in a while, I’m not the owner of one, no.

    (#188)

    Comment 181 is complete and utter “mansplainin,” though

    Uh huh. Why you’re not being taken seriously has nothing to do with you being woman and Paul being guy. It’s simply that you can’t make a case for anything you claim. And it’s an unfair setup to expect all the explaining and justification to come from Paul’s side and then to scream “mansplainer!” when he makes his reasoning clear. In order to cover up your gross incompetence, you choose to bash away at Paul with what, in others’ hands, is a potent and subtle tool of feminist critique. I predict that, yet again, you can’t support this latest accusation with any examples or explanations and you will pretend you shouldn’t have to.

    But then, it seems you’ll use any manner of accusation to get Paul, and SC, and me, and anyone else who disagrees with you to shut up and stand around meekly while you launch fusillade after fusillade of shit at us. You can’t “win” unless your opponent’s hands are tied behind his (or her) back and his (or her) feet nailed to the floor. Really pathetic. Since you haven’t got anything to contribute besides your dishonesty and shit flinging, I’m done with you. You’re incapable of having a genuine discussion. Have the last word if it’s that important to you.

    Now, did anyone else I called out in #109 want to have a go at supporting their bullshit accusations towards SC?

  208. #208 A. Noyd
    February 13, 2010

    Greg Laden (#178)

    Is that what you think? I think you thinking this is itself gendered. You would be a better person if you rethought this.

    I don’t need lessons on being a better person from a drama-seeking disingenuous has-been asshat who gets his jollies altering people’s words on the sly and revealing their private emails. (Mine’s made just for commenting, so you can reveal it if you want, before or after you change/delete my post.) The little game of turning on your opponent with a specious accusation to avoid having to back up what you say is just as vapid when you do it as when Stephanie does it. If you disagree with what I think, maybe you can suck it up and actually explain how doubting the supposedly gendered nature of calling someone a sidekick is gendered in itself and give a few supporting examples. Refer to my reply to Stephanie if you’re not sure how that’s done.

  209. #209 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    Paul, it has occasionally amused me in this discussion to be less than perfectly crystal clear. That is not lying. That is putting as much work into being understood as others are putting into understanding. Not explaining–understanding.

    As an example of the work you have not put into understanding, let’s take this claim that I ignore you when you want to talk about civility. I have not ignored the subject. However, every time I do talk about it, I seem to be called evasive. As best I can tell, that results from a combination of people not actually being interested in the topic in general (beyond an incident or two) and people not being willing or able to shift frames enough to understand what I’m saying.

    One more time: Social interaction takes (at least) two people. Examining one of them in isolation is a waste of time because it doesn’t tell you anything about the interaction.

    The idea that civility is a set of rules is crap. Rules aren’t flexible enough to cover human interaction, and everyone is much more concerned about other people breaking the rules than they themselves doing the same thing. Exceptions to rules are almost always made for enforcers, so those enforcing the rules have very few or no incentives against creating rules that do nothing but advantage them in any power struggle.

    Being an enforcer in one cordoned-off area of the internet is a lousy way to learn how to interact with people in areas you (the generic “you”) have no control over. Your habits will work in some places but get you in up to your eyeballs in others. Hollering about sin will mark you as provincial. Attempting to wield your social cachet in disapproval will be laughed at, because cachet doesn’t transfer. People will not be interested in hearing why your way is better than theirs, particularly if you haven’t established that you understand what their ways are.

    Local community always wins. It’s a community because it works. Outsiders can’t divide it against itself in anything but momentary, petty disagreements. The only way to change it is to join it, but that takes work and behavior that is very different from the colonization efforts of the wandering enforcers. It can’t be done by attack, because invaders who don’t put in the work to join the community always go home again. Unless they join, there’s no reward for them in staying.

    I know that you want to talk about teh rules that will make the internet work. For all the reasons above, that isn’t a discussion you’ll be having with me, not because I won’t discuss community with you, but because my answer to the question is brief: None. It’s all negotiable.

    And if you’re actually interested in getting more of my opinion on any of this, I’ve been writing about it for a long time.

  210. #210 Recall
    February 13, 2010

    Recall, I was already part of the discussion when SC joined it. I haven’t left. Why are you here?

    Curiousity for the most part. I find it fascinating how people are wiling to devote so much time and energy into conflicts like this.

  211. #211 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    A. Noyd, supporting Tulse’s criticism of Dunnigan is substantially different from criticizing him or her myself in what meaningful way? So, since all the possible meanings of “sidekick” are terribly highly relevant here, is anyone going to accept it if Dunnigan comes back and says, “I called SC a bitch because she reminds me of the way my dog bites down and won’t let go?” Would he be given the same benefit of the doubt that SC is being given? How about if he argued that the standard definition of “bitch” fit?

    As for context, I’ve been invoking that since I told SC I wasn’t going to get worked up about someone being an ass to her after she used the Holocaust as a wedge to tell him how concerned he needed to be about religion. Context definitely counts, even if it isn’t always available. You do remember that we were also discussing situations in which context wasn’t available, right?

    And yes, I’m standing by “mansplainin.” I made an assertion about my experience of gendered behavior. I was told why it was wrong in terms of a guy’s general sense of things. What Knockgoats did wasn’t manplainin. What Paul did was. I pointed it out. He fixed it (even with a note of snark that was a risk–failed in this case–under circumstances like these).

    That isn’t painting anyone as the villain. It’s setting social boundaries. We’ve been doing a certain amount of that throughout this process. We’re just about at a place where, if he were to go for a whole comment thread without calling someone an awful human being, we could have an interesting discussion about things we don’t agree on.

  212. #212 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Greg, allow me to point out that you haven’t actually promised to never do it again.

    Seriously?

  213. #213 Stephanie Z
    February 13, 2010

    Heh. Fair enough, Recall. Enjoy.

  214. #214 J. J. Ramsey
    February 13, 2010

    Greg Laden, I’ve defended you earlier in this thread, but I have to agree that editing someone else’s comment to make it look like one said something that he/she hasn’t is misrepresentation. It is dishonest and misleading, much like using “several times, after being warned” to mean “once” is dishonest, or using “insult my daughter” to mean “point out when my daughter has insulted other people” is misleading.

  215. #215 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    This is not going as well as it could. Blind squirrel, I’ve offered you an olive branch and you’ve tossed it back in my face. JJ, I have no clue what you are talking about, and PLEASE do not explain it to me.

    I’m trying to model some good behavior here. Try to stay with me on this. I want you to tro engaging in the process of relationship building, and part of this is that when things don’t go well for for some reason, reconciliation.

    Just now you tried the judge, jury, and executioner role. You need to learn to not do that so easily but we’ll come back to that another time. Moving past that, I demonstrated an interest in meeting your needs. We are in fundemental disagreement about what is right or not right to do. You are not going to change your minds, I’m not going to change mine. But I’m willing to go along with what you want because I don’t want to annoy you.

    Now, I have offered that, sincerely, and I’m not quite getting the response I should really be able to expect. JJ is jumping on the goat, and Blind is asking me to say Uncle in some form, and I’m concerned that nothing will satisfy.

    Can we have a little due consideration here please? I know we can make this work.

  216. #216 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    Seriously?

    [Added by greg: Good question. How about if I promise to never do it again without making it clear, since it upsets people so much? ]

    [emphasis added]

    Yes, seriously.

    BS

  217. #217 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    BS, please read the next comment of mine, take a deep breath, think about it, and then respond.

  218. #218 Blind Squirrel
    February 13, 2010

    Greg, our last posts crossed in the intertubes. If You are stating or have stated that you will not alter comments without attribution, that is good enough for me whatever your motivation. I believe that would go a long way to “make this work.”

    BS

  219. #219 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    Yes, I feel like I’ve stated it. My wording was conversational perhaps, in the mode of let’s move forward together instead of back and forth on some log until we both fall in.

    There are things that must be done! Having just come back from the Creationist Science Fair I find myself suddenly very interested in doing the kinds of things that made me want to start blogging to begin with.

  220. #220 Gabby
    February 13, 2010

    This is the kind of thread that turned me off of commenting and nearly off of reading blogs lately but this…

    “Having just come back from the Creationist Science Fair I find myself suddenly very interested in doing the kinds of things that made me want to start blogging to begin with.”

    …looks interesting. Watcha got? :)

  221. #221 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    The creation science fair is a public display of the Christian Homeschooling process where science is mocked and abused by the adults using the kids as tools. It is pretty disgusting, and today it was interesting to see some 25 or so atheists, secular humanists, scientists, a Skepchick or two, milling about among the 26 posters and reacting very very quietly to the intellectual carnage.

    In a way, we were a little like a team of FAA/NTSB investigators milling around in the wreckage of a plane crash with only one thing on our minds: What do we need to do in order to see to it that this does not happen again? Or at least, happens less frequently?

    Next September some of these posters are going to appear in an exhibit, without any markings or indications as to how they got there or why they are there, somewhere in the Education Building at the Minnesota State Fair.

    So before this meetup some of us were talking about doing some stuff. Then we had lunch, and more of us talked more about doing some more stuff. Almost everybody who was involved in this meetup does stuff on a regular basis. The people who do the Secular Humanist TV show and the Atheists TV show, a half dozen secular/atheist/science/skeptics bloggers, the woman who organizes the Skepchickcon at CONvergence (Carrie), and so on.

    Stephanie Zvan and I will be joining the Skepchick effort at the CON, and she and I with Mike Haubrich just did our second Atheist Talk TV thing (this time on race and racism). You can probably expect all three of us and a few others to be blogging on related issues over the next weeks (though I’m only guessing, I have no idea what Stephanie or Mike will be blogging about in the near future).

    There will be more TV shows, more podcasts, other organized activities, we always remain watchful of the schoolboards and the news. And we react.

    So on balance, there is nothing to be despondent about. Twenty six examples of ruined educational efforts is not exactly happy-face material, but having almost the same number of activists gathering together to witness this, and to converse about all sorts of steps we are taking and will be taking to advance rational thinking, secular policies, good science, and so on is an excellent counterbalance.

    I would like everyone reading this to ask yourself, what can you do over the next few weeks (other than babbling on Teh Blawgs as we are doing now) to advance these goals that we hold in common? (Assuming we have common goals, and I’m fairly sure we do.)

    I would also ask all of us who are busy arguing on this thread (and other threads) to step back for a moment and notice that we are on the same side when it comes to the important issues. The fact that this person who is Wrong on the Internet(tm) is actually your colleague in a movement that seems to have trouble sometimes getting off the ground should give pause. We could be filling holes, we could be hoisting sails, and we could be holding steady the tiller rather than drifting towards the rocks while we argue over issues that are important … yes, very important … but not the main objective.

    That’s the framework for what I had in mind, Gabby. We should all be talking about details.

  222. #222 mk
    February 13, 2010

    So… Greg’s dishonest, too. What a fucking bummer.

  223. #223 Greg Laden
    February 13, 2010

    mk: what are you talking about? Be less concise but not too much less.

  224. #224 Leave Blank
    February 13, 2010

    The inability to discuss, or even listen to, a criticism that implies one could do better in language in relation to racism or sexism constitutes an indifference that itself is bordering on racism or sexism. And this is not discussion. This is sticking the fingers in the ears and chanting “La la la” as a child would do.

    I know there is now a call for being more polite in this discussion. I hope I am being polite enough when I suggest this. Salty Current made a mild mistake in her tone, little more than that, and it was mildly pointed out to her, and the ballistics that came from that with the hammering and the yammering has led to Deflection is not a sufficient argument, and that is really all I see here.

  225. #225 Saadia
    February 13, 2010

    As I notice my name used and search for it, I see quite a few instances! It might be wise for me to clarify. I am uncomfortable with the uncompromising tone of the argument. As a Jew, and not an American or a British, this may not apply, but I have encountered the argument that logic is supreme and the kind of personal discomfort a person may have, that caused certain relatives of mine to react early rather than late (leaving Europe and thus I’m alive today?) would not be allowed for. I agree with the original blogger who says these are not anti Jewish (my preferred word for it) per se. But there is this discomfort, and that is what I meant. It is valid. Don’t take away my right to feel ill at certain attitudes even if they are not intended. You can change the way you speak, you can not change some of the damage that could be done.

  226. #226 Joel
    February 13, 2010

    Try to remember that what people say in blogs is really unimportant and in a few years, well days, nobody will care.

  227. #227 Ichthyic
    February 14, 2010

    In my case, it is not that hard to build a trust relationship with me.

    Indeed. Based on your behavior the past week, I can completely trust you to be a disingenuous drama queen.

    no need to continue reinforcing it.

    It’s fascinating to watch someone self-destruct their own blog.

  228. #228 Ichthyic
    February 14, 2010

    Try to remember that what people say in blogs is really unimportant and in a few years, well days, nobody will care.

    poor assumption give the topics of disagreement in these threads over the last week.

  229. #229 Ichthyic
    February 14, 2010

    There are things that must be done! Having just come back from the Creationist Science Fair I find myself suddenly very interested in doing the kinds of things that made me want to start blogging to begin with.

    FFS, Man! Why aren’t you doing it then?

    your comments over the last week point towards some NPD. As I said in your first misbegotten thread, you would (have been) better off simply closing the thread, and moving on to something of more direct interest, and more along your own lines of knowledge.

    Frankly, I don’t think you will live this trainwreck down for a long while, but if you move quickly away from it, you could at least start trying.

  230. #230 anon
    February 14, 2010

    This is not going as well as it could. Blind squirrel, I’ve offered you an olive branch and you’ve tossed it back in my face.

    Sure, saying “Well, there was nothing wrong with what I did but I may never do it again – unless I’m in the mood to do it again” surely is an olive branch.

    If I hacked scienceblogs and replaced some words of yours in your blog, would you think that’s o.k.? If not, why is it o.k. to do the same to a comment?
    Al olive branch it would have been to apologize and promise never to do it again without adding that when someone annoys you sufficiently all bets are off.

    I’m trying to model some good behavior here.

    Try harder. Try a lot harder.

    We are in fundemental disagreement about what is right or not right to do.

    said the murderer to the victims family. (Note, this is just a metaphor, like a firing squad, so there is no reason to be annoyed with it…)

  231. #231 csrster
    February 14, 2010

    I think I have the answer. What we need here is not a pause for reflection, or a change of tone, or even a brisk walk in the cold winter here. What we need right now is a neologism.

    So can we all just accept that Salty wasn’t being antisemitic, she was just goysplaining?

  232. #232 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    What Knockgoats did wasn’t manplainin. What Paul did was. I pointed it out. He fixed it (even with a note of snark that was a risk–failed in this case–under circumstances like these).

    Huh? You’re saying that I really was mansplainin’, but I fixed it?

    I thought that I wasn’t mansplainin’ at all, but you responded with womanalysis, falsely accusing me of mansplainin’, and I rebutted that charge.

    Presumably I’m misunderstanding you, somehow, but you appear to be saying that I originally was mansplainin’, and then I wasn’t. If not, please correct me.

    If so, how does that work? Is the difference that in one case, I was talking about my personal observations, and in another I was citing a woman’s authority on the topic?

  233. #233 PlaydoPlato
    February 14, 2010

    Well I’ve been following this drama for days now and I’ve gotta tell you, it’s some of the best blog theater I’ve ever seen. The backstory, the characters, the drama…. all top notch. It only seems fitting that some of the chief players in this epic play be recognized and awarded for their contributions, and so that’s what I’m here to do.

    Henry Gee:
    Every good story needs a good backstory to build on. HG is it. He’s like a Sauron/Voldemort archetype in that he’s had very little screen time, but his character provides the motivation and drives all of the actions for the rest of the cast.

    That time he appeared at Pharyngula and “pissed on the carpet” parallels Sauron’s first attempt to dominate Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings, as well as Voldemort’s first attempt at taking control of the wizarding world in Harry Potter. HG, more or less disappears after that, but comes roaring back at the conference session on blog ethics. That incident set in motion everything that’s happened since.

    Just like Sauron, HG is cast as a nearly unassailable entity by the GLB side of this story and like Voldemort, there is an early attempt to keep HG out of the argument, as if the very mention of his name was taboo. That brought to mind parallels with “you know who” from the Harry Potter world.

    An interesting personal bit of trivia about the HG part of this play is that, when I first came across his name, I assumed he was asian. Upon discovering that he was Jewish and that the prime motivation for the entire story was the fact that he was, well, Jewish, I just knew things were going to get interesting.

    Salty Current:
    From everything I could glean from online sources, SC’s avatar is Princess Leia from the Star Wars universe. SC sees her reputation destroyed by a thinly veiled charge of anti-Semitism, just as Leia must watch her home planet, Alderaan, be destroyed. SC spends the rest of this story fighting back against, what can only be described, as an unfair assault on her virtual reputation. She rallies the forces of the Blastula Alliance to her defense and it’s on baby. It’s on.

    StephanieZ:
    Wow. There’s so much here. Stephanie parallels nicely with LOTR’s Wormtongue who was the sidekick of Saruman, who served under Sauron (HG), but Stephanie is at the same time, so much more than that. She also parallels well with the Michael Myers character of Halloween fame, in that she’s practically indestructible. No matter how many times she has her ass handed to her on a diamond encrusted silver platter, she just keeps coming back for more. She’s amazing in that regard. Her ability to obfuscate and ignore other’s arguments is unparalleled in the trollosphere, and the way she turns around and uses the very weapons/methods that she accuses others of using is just… well, jaw dropping.

    My favorite: “mansplainin’. I mean, who else would have the nerve to make an accusation of sexism, then turn around and use a sexist term to justify her position. Factor in that, near as I can tell, “splainin’ is a Latino-oriented putdown derived form the broken english of Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy, and you have a twofer: anti-male and anti-Latino. Now, I’m not saying that Stephanie is anti-male or anti-Latino, just that some people might think so.

    But I’ll give Stephanie this. She doesn’t give up, even when her arguments have been systematically shredded — a trait that is as admirable as it is disturbing. StephanieZ. Bravo, bravo. I’ve enjoyed your performance most of all. You go Grrrrlll — and I mean that in a non-sexist way.

    Paul:
    Honestly, I lost track of the Pauls, but here goes. More than anyone else on the Blastula side of this play, Paul has taken the fight to the other side. He’s a combination of Aragorn (LOTR) and the Terminator. The former in that taking a viewpoint that is opposed by the blog-master and most of his readers is a David and Goliath proposition, but Paul has done just that. In the latter sense, Paul has taken a lot of hits, and suffered some damage, but like the Terminator, he just keeps going, and going, and going… I don’t know how he manages to keep churning out those long, mostly civil, and well reasoned essays, in the face of the opposition, and in such hostile terrain. Hell, that makes him a Universal Soldier to boot.

    Greg Laden:
    In one sense, Greg is LOTR’s Saruman to HG’s Sauron, but in another, he’s more like the character “Q” from the StarTrek NextGen franchise — mad, bad and dangerous to know. The fact that he’s the blog-master at GLB gives him Q’s god-like powers, and like Q, he uses those powers capriciously and with reckless abandon. The incendiary metaphors he used in the original thread associating the Blastulista’s with vigilantes and firing squads, his penchant for randomly ignoring/deleting some comments, the personal insults (in fairness, this has become a universal trait for all characters), that disturbing fantasy of an act of personal violence against Paul, and the troubling editing of a poster’s comments (for which he has pledged to not repeat) — all quite disturbing.

    Like Q, Greg seems more interested in playing the game than winning, even if it means trolling his own blog.

    All in all a fascinating display of human interaction and behavior. I regret that I lack the background in psychology to fully understand what’s going on here, but I can still enjoy the show. If I’ve given the impression that the whole thing has been nothing more than a shit-flinging competition, let me disabuse you of that misconception right here.

    Personally, I took issue with the GLB side of this argument from the outset, mostly because of Greg’s largely failed attempt at metaphor/humor/cleverness or whatever he was trying to do, in the original “Firing Squad” post. But after some time, I was able to see beyond the bullshit to, what I believe is the core point, which I think is this:

    Consider the other person’s perspective, history and background, before calling them an ignorant asshat. In a way, it’s just another derivative of “Do unto others…” So I will try to do just that in my future online postings, although I suspect that some will say I’ve failed already in this post.

    Thanks to all the players.

    PS: my apologies for any misspellings, poor grammar, etc.

  234. #234 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    Stephanie:

    What Knockgoats did wasn’t manpslainin’. What Paul did was.

    IMHO, what I did wasn’t mansplainin’. What Greg did was, when he mansplained away the issue of using the gendered term “bitch” in a supposedly nonsexist way.

    Why am I not even a little bit surprised that you didn’t call him out over that? In comment 185, he agreed with me on the post you called complete and utter mansplainin’, and he compounded it with a bit of shallow mansplainin’ that completely sidesteps a very common feminist critique of his sexist language. I may be a mansplainin’ asshat—though I’m still trying to understand how—but he’s a bigger mansplainin’ asshat than I am.

    (Hint: even if the person you call a bitch doesn’t mind being called a bitch, and even if you “don’t mean it that way,” other people may misunderstand and/or rightly object to your reinforcing patriarchal crap by casually using a sexist word. BTW, I’m very seriously not calling Greg a sexist; I’m sure he’s not, and I am quite sure most of his readers do understand that. But imagine if I carelessly called Henry Gee “a dumb Jew” and defended it by saying “well, is a dumb Jew, and my readers know I don’t mean it in an antisemitic way.” I would rightly be completely eviscerated for my lack of sensivity to an oppressed class’s sensibilities, even if Henry himself said he didn’t mind, except of course that he’s not dumb. BTW, I realize that’s an imperfect and very loaded analogy, but I expect you to be able to see past that to the real and valid point, just as you expect us not to mind being compared to a genocidal firing squad.)

    That isn’t painting anyone as the villain.

    Bunk. You’ve done little else in these three trainwreck threads. It’s what they’re mainly about, whether you realize it or not. That and your double standards.

    You may disagree with Greg sometimes—I’m sure you have many arguments of varying degrees of pleasantness—but with respect to us, in these three threads, you certainly do seem to err on the side of presenting a united front. You hold us to standards that you do not hold yourself or Greg to.

    A. Noyd already quoted this from you (emphasis added by me):

    By the way, Annoyance, that whole calling me “Steph” thing? Also gendered. Unless you’re female, you’re leaving unbroken a long streak of guys who think it’s somehow clever to adopt the diminutive form of my name while arguing with me.

    Surely you didn’t mean to make such a simple and obvious sexist distinction there—that A. Noyd would not get the benefit of the doubt unless he/she turned out to be female? (As she did, and while that’s funny, it’s irrelevant to my point.)

    Surely you meant to say Unless you’re female or Greg Laden.

    If you wonder why you’re derisively called a sidekick, that’s why. And yes, this is just one anecdote, which is not conclusive, but it does seem to us to be part of a larger and fairly consistent pattern. You treat us as an enemy who deserves no quarter. Good luck with that; it seems to be working really well for you so far.

  235. #235 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    So can we all just accept that Salty wasn’t being antisemitic, she was just goysplaining?

    Well, yes, but precision is important, and we should take into account the sensibilies of the person being goysplained. She was shiksanalyzing a Jewish man. Surely that’s not as bad.

  236. #236 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Hey, Paul, little thought experiment: what would make you happy at this point? What do you want?

  237. #237 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    Stephanie:

    Hey, Paul, little thought experiment: what would make you happy at this point? What do you want?

    Hmmm… off the top of my head, at this moment, I’d be happy if you could see the exquisite irony in your saying this, or even get an inkling of it:

    Being an enforcer in one cordoned-off area of the internet is a lousy way to learn how to interact with people in areas you (the generic “you”) have no control over. Your habits will work in some places but get you in up to your eyeballs in others. Hollering about sin will mark you as provincial. Attempting to wield your social cachet in disapproval will be laughed at, because cachet doesn’t transfer. People will not be interested in hearing why your way is better than theirs, particularly if you haven’t established that you understand what their ways are.

    Failing that, I’ll settle for nearly everyone else seeing it.

  238. #238 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Paul, explain the irony to me. Where else am I going on the internet?

  239. #239 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    Stephanie:

    As an example of the work you have not put into understanding, let’s take this claim that I ignore you when you want to talk about civility. I have not ignored the subject. However, every time I do talk about it, I seem to be called evasive. As best I can tell, that results from a combination of people not actually being interested in the topic in general (beyond an incident or two) and people not being willing or able to shift frames enough to understand what I’m saying.

    I think you’re wildly mistaken, and that I’ve given you plenty of information that should have made you rethink that. I have a longstanding issue in these very issues, going back decades, have in the past discussed them with a number of researchers who specialize in such things, and frequently discuss them with professional massively multiplayer online game designers and interactive social environment operators who come to my house weekly. I also have some not entirely irrelevant academic credentials that I won’t go into for pseudonymity reasons. (As does SC.)

    You keep talking down to us as though you are the heavyweight and I’m the lightweight on this subject. I am, shall we say, unconvinced, as yet.

    One more time: Social interaction takes (at least) two people. Examining one of them in isolation is a waste of time because it doesn’t tell you anything about the interaction.

    Well, no shit, Sherlock. Why do you think we’ve been opposing your context-free vilification of SC as though Henry Gee’s comments weren’t interesting or relevant, all along? We’ve been following your advice all along, even before you gave it, and all along you’ve been too blind to see it, because you’re stuck in your peculiar and suspiciouly convenient framing.

    The idea that civility is a set of rules is crap. Rules aren’t flexible enough to cover human interaction, and everyone is much more concerned about other people breaking the rules than they themselves doing the same thing.

    Well, golly gee. Blow me down. I’ve only been occasionally seriously discussing such issues with communication theoriests, game designers, and moral philosophers for what, a few decades now? I’ve only made the kind of argument you’re making a few score times over the years, in a variety of contexts.

    Some day, I’ll get it, I’m sure. Bear with me.

    Exceptions to rules are almost always made for enforcers, so those enforcing the rules have very few or no incentives against creating rules that do nothing but advantage them in any power struggle.

    And of course, that’s got nothing to do with your behavior here, or Greg’s. It’s all about those nasty Pharyngulistas, isn’t it.

    Wow. Just wow.

  240. #240 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Paul, the only context-free comments I’ve made about SC have been in the context of a discussion of what someone without context could make of her statements. Otherwise, see comment 90 in this thread.

    Of course it’s not just about Pharyngulistas. I’m very up front about the fact that I can be a thug. I’m also up front that anyone who’s wants me to get judgmental about somebody else is going to be judged in return–by the same rules and with about as much leeway for infelicities as they give. Yes, it advantages me. I’m good at it. If you want to keep dealing with me, you’re going to deal with it. It’s who and what I am and it’s not going to be affected by you passing judgment.

    Now, I ask once again, what do you want?

  241. #241 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    PlaydoPlato, the big problem with creating villains and dubbing them eeeeevil is that it allows you to feel all virtuous without having actually done anything.

  242. #242 anon
    February 14, 2010

    Sorry, I totally overlooked this post, buried as it was:

    Anon, no, I do not suggest that I can’t be trusted. Not at all.

    No, you just state that there is no limit to what you will do if someone pisses you off. That’s surely o.k.

    Also, your statement uses the term “people” for what you percieve as an offense. You are exaggerating. Thus, you lie. Do you lie all the time mr. or mrs anonymous?

    So let’s see. Imagine my daughter hits another child and I say “Dear, it is wrong to hit people.” Should I expect her to answer “It was just one person, so you are exaggerating, so you lie.”?
    How ridiculous do you want to be?

  243. #243 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Why would you tell your daughter it’s wrong to hit people without getting any more specific? Do you want her to hesitate or be unable to protect herself if she’s attacked?

  244. #244 A. Noyd
    February 14, 2010

    Saadia (#225)

    I have encountered the argument that logic is supreme and the kind of personal discomfort a person may have…would not be allowed for. … But there is this discomfort, and that is what I meant. It is valid. Don’t take away my right to feel ill at certain attitudes even if they are not intended. You can change the way you speak, you can not change some of the damage that could be done.

    No one (at least not on SC’s side) is attempting to take away anyone’s rights to feel or express discomfort on hearing/reading certain words or arguments. Not yours, and not Gee’s. But for all that they’re real, feelings are not always valid. Sometimes emotions misfire. Sometimes emotions make for a terrible measure of the reality of a situation.

    If you really expect to change what someone says, you should give more than your reaction. It might not seem “fair,” but if you make such complaints with the expectation of changing someone’s behavior, you have to be willing to go into a little more depth and explain the transgression. And it will sometimes turn out that there wasn’t actually a transgression after all, like when David Howard was accused of racism for using the word “niggardly.” Now, just because “niggardly” isn’t a racial slur, that doesn’t mean Marshall Brown didn’t feel like it was one. But, all the same, his personal discomfort doesn’t change what the word means or how and why Howard used it.

    Yes, sometimes the depth and breadth of reaction is itself enough to justify eradicating otherwise innocent language. (Maybe this is the case with “niggardly.”) So it’s not like feelings are disregarded or disallowed with a rational approach. But if logic is not supreme, if no anaylsis is done, if feelings are given primary consideration, then we let whoever can muster the most outrage become king of the hill. That situation doesn’t help anyone.

    I’m disturbed by the utter lack of explanation for how SC’s statements seem anti-Jewish or inappropriately dismissive or whatever the accuser has picked out as a flaw to hammer on. If there is any case for her to change her langauge, it absolutely hasn’t been made. Maybe you would like to try to remedy that?

  245. #245 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    A. Noyd, have you looked up dog whistles? Do you understand that they are things that are deliberately vague, deliberately elusive, designed to sound just like the things people say every day without any ill intent or possibly even ill effect (i.e., like the things SC said), designed to be impossible to object to without the objection looking paranoid?

    How is anyone supposed to have that kind of “I’m not sure and I don’t want to hurt anyone if I’m wrong but I hear a lot of this and sometimes it really is bad” conversation in an environment like this? How is someone supposed to think they’ll be taken seriously when people call them sock puppets? How does one talk about feelings and uncertainty when “insinuations” cause people to be likened to Sauroman?

  246. #246 Recall
    February 14, 2010

    Do you understand that they are things that are deliberately vague, deliberately elusive, designed to sound just like the things people say every day without any ill intent or possibly even ill effect (i.e., like the things SC said), designed to be impossible to object to without the objection looking paranoid?

    This is pure win.

  247. #247 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Actually, Recall, the part that I get a kick out of is that the concept is very close to the “I’m not saying…” construction that people seem to think Greg used.

  248. #248 Knockgoats
    February 14, 2010

    designed to sound just like the things people say every day without any ill intent or possibly even ill effect (i.e., like the things SC said) – Stephanie Z.

    So the objection to the things SC said is that, to someone who just happened to read them without knowing SC, they might have sounded like things that sound just like the things people say every day without any ill intent. Now I’ve got it!

  249. #249 Recall
    February 14, 2010

    Yeah, it’s “I don’t mean to be paranoid, but I know there’s an invisible, malevolent message embedded within your statement that sounds perfectly normal.”

  250. #250 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Knockgoats, Recall, do you mean to suggest that dog whistles don’t exist?

  251. #251 Knockgoats
    February 14, 2010

    Stephanie Z.,

    Of course not. But you are wrong about what the term means, at least according to dog-whistle politics . The phrases used are, on the contrary, very easy to recognise by those intended to recognise them, and by those not so intended, but attuned to them – just as a dog-whistle is easy for dogs to detect, or for anyone who has an ultrasonic detector. The risk of anyone not intending to send a message of support to (in this case), antisemites, being mistaken for someone who does so intend, either by antisemites or by anti-antisemites with reasonable judgement, is minute.

    In any case, your explanation made no sense, for the reason my snark highlighted.

  252. #252 Recall
    February 14, 2010

    Why would I have any reason to think that?

  253. #253 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    I don’t know, considering that they’re a well-known phenomenon. That’s why I asked you.

  254. #254 Tulse
    February 14, 2010

    We’re focusing on “dog whistles” when Gee accused some people of being Nazis and Dunnigan called someone a “bitch”? I’m just trying to be clear on the priorities here.

  255. #255 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Tulse, this post seems to me to be about who hears or may hear what. Do you disagree?

  256. #256 Recall
    February 14, 2010

    I don’t know, considering that they’re a well-known phenomenon.

    And those are just the ones we know of. Anything could be a dog whistle.

  257. #257 Knockgoats
    February 14, 2010

    Here’s something from the “Atheist firing squad” thread, posted by Paul Murray@22, that set off my ultrasonic detectors, but as AFAIK was not commented on as such (I wasn’t in the discussion then, or I’d have done so):

    “Is this posting about people who dare draw attention to the zionist genocide of the semites who lived in palestine prior to it’s annexation by white europeans pretending to be jewish?”

    Now, while Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is disgraceful (as, of course, is Palestinian terrorism), it comes nowhere near genocide. “Semites” is not applied to modern populations except by antisemites or the ignorant. “White Europeans pretending to be Jewish” – WTF? The notion that Jews systematically pretend to be what they are not is a core tenet of antisemitism, and although this example is bizarre, I have come across it before. (There’s also the use of “jewish” with a lower-case “j” – another staple of antisemitic discourse – but since several other words are treated the same way, this is quite possibly just sloppiness.) The other three examples are all characteristic of antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism – and I have been able to point out exactly why they are recognisable as such. What dog-whistle phrases allow is the combination of clarity to the intended audience with plausible deniability: they don’t need to deceive those to whom the denial will be made if necessary, so they don’t look just like things people might say without ill intent.

  258. #258 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    And Paul wonders why I think anyone doesn’t actually want to talk about effective communication. Thanks, guys!

  259. #259 Paul W.
    February 14, 2010

    Tulse,

    We’re focusing on “dog whistles” when Gee accused some people of being Nazis and Dunnigan called someone a “bitch”? I’m just trying to be clear on the priorities here.

    Yes, yes, but what’s really important as that Stephanie thinks she’s been the victim of sexism because somebody called her a “sidekick.”

    Meanwhile, she seems quite accepting of Greg calling SC a bitch.

    Apparently, to avoid sexist language, we should avoid referring to Stephanie as Greg’s sidekick, and refer to her as Greg’s bitch.

  260. #260 Knockgoats
    February 14, 2010

    I haven’t the slightest idea what your #258 means, Stephanie.

  261. #261 Peter Beattie
    February 14, 2010

    Different story, but eerily reminiscent of this here bogus debate: “TNR’s ugly and reckless anti-semitism games“, by Glenn Greenwald.

    Two bits that seem especially apropos:

    Ironically, nobody has done more to trivialize and cheapen anti-semitism accusations than those who anointed themselves its guardians and arbiters. […]

    By tossing around the term cynically and to advance personal vendettas, neoconservatives are the authors not only of their own irrelevance but also, more significantly, of the growing irrelevance of the “anti-semitism” charge.

  262. #262 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    Knockgoats, my comment was made at the same time as yours. It was not a comment on yours.

    Dog whistles can indeed sound just like a comment that would be made by anyone else. Greg’s “Obama’s so articulate” example is one of those.

  263. #263 Elaine
    February 14, 2010

    Apparently, to avoid sexist language, we should avoid referring to Stephanie as Greg’s sidekick, and refer to her as Greg’s bitch.

    Paul, there is a difference between calling someone a bitch, or a bastard, or anything of that sort, and calling someone someone else’s bitch.

    I have a question for you: Do the other people in your life, like your significant other, or your children, know you do this on the interent?

  264. #264 Tim D.
    February 14, 2010

    Elaine, Paul will now tell you that he did not actually call Stephanie Greg’s Bitch, but just used all those words in a sentence and you have misinterpreted.

    Paul’s friends, the other Pharyngulas, will now jump on the bandwagon and insist that Stephanie must apologize for this. If she complains about this, she will be accused of hypocrisy and dishonesty. There will be a flurry of comments about this, blaming Greg and Stephanie for breaking the Roolz of the Intertoobs Accordin’ to Pharyngula.

    It does concern me a little that PZ myers does not say a word to his commenters about their behavior, and in fact, that half of these floating turds have the Order of the Molly. So much for the good name of Molly or the good judgement of PZ Myers or the value of a blog that is “safe for atheists” to speak their mind.

  265. #265 Monica
    February 14, 2010

    Paul W. needs to be taken to the woodpile and taught a lesson. Can I do i? Please?

  266. #266 Irene
    February 14, 2010

    Salty Current screams at Greg and everyone who does not overtly attack Greg for three days (or was it longer)… that makes her a bitch.

    Stephanie has an ongoing argument with Paul W. that Greg seems to be utterly ignoring. And somehow this makes Stephanie “Greg’s Bitch” in Paul’s mind.

    Paul W. could use some attitude adjustment, and that might start with an apology.

    Or, as implied by Tim, we can have another round of “Pharungulas” jumping on Stephanie for being an unwilling victim, a hypocrite, and a lying liar.

  267. #267 Brian Hart
    February 14, 2010

    Paul W. said we should avoid referring to Stephanie as Greg’s sidekick, and refer to her as Greg’s bitch.

    What are you, in fifth grade?

  268. #268 A. Noyd
    February 14, 2010

    Oh, hey, wecome back, Elaine and Irene. Either of you want to try taking up the challenge I made of you both in #109? See if you can actually cough up a connection between your accusations and SC’s words instead of just asserting she’s got problems? See Knockgoats example in #257 if you’re having trouble. That’s the sort of analysis no one here seems able to manage when it comes to anything SC said.

  269. #269 Stephanie Z
    February 14, 2010

    A. Noyd, why would either of them want to have a conversation like that here and end up being called “Greg’s bitch” too?

  270. #270 Irene
    February 14, 2010

    Noid, did your friend Paul W. call you and ask you to swoop in and deflect the thread away from his over the top asinine remark? Somehow I doubt that is going to be a very effective strategy.

    But I can address your question which, I admit, I had not realized you had asked, given that you are not eactly of interest to me.

    Elaine said, as I recall, that Salty Current is not a raving anti-semite. Do you differ in this opinion? I agreed with Greg that Salty Current’s comments do not indicate that she is an anti-semite. Apparently you disagree with this.

    Explain.

  271. #271 Greg Laden THREAD CLOSED
    February 14, 2010

    Paul, W. I’ve contacted you and asked you to provide a sincere apology to Stephanie. I’ve also indicated that you need that to be your next comment on this blog, or your most recent comment will be your last.

    I’m putting that on hold now. We’ve just had (30 minutes ago) a death in the family and we need to deal with that. The trials and tribulations, the posturing, the blaming, the bullshit on this thread is something that I am not interested in dealing with right now, so I’m closing commenting. Do not drag this conversation on to other threads on this blog.

    Paul, email me your apology and I’ll post it or pass it on as appropriate.

  272. #272 Greg Laden THREAD OPEN
    February 15, 2010

    I’ve spoken with Paul, and as a result of that conversation, I’ve withdrawn my request for an apology from him.

    I’ve spoken with Stephanie and I’ve encouraged her to turn her thoughts on this whole thing into one of those amazing thoughtful analytical blog posts she does on this topic … whatever this topic is exactly … and I hope she does that.

    (Hmm… maybe Paul should write a guest post somewhere on this… )

    I’ve made the following comment over on Pharynguala:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/never-ending_thread_reset_beca.php#comment-2275632

    And now I have some important personal issues to address, but I’ll be back. Try to behave.

    Or not. Whatever.

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