The Decent Human Beings' Guide to Speaking at Atheist Conferences

Thanks to PZ for the format/inspiration!

Be self-aware. You are the speaker in a room filled with dozens, hundreds, thousands of people. Especially at atheist/skeptic conferences, we are all very interesting people, but out of those dozens/hundreds/thousands of people who could have been chosen to give a presentation, you were chosen. Your opinion and your words are most likely highly valued, because other people want to hear them. Other people want to learn from you. Other people look up to you. Other people have not had the exact same life history, education, experience that you have had, and want to peek into your world, and hear about your perspective for a few minutes.

Not a round-table discussion where anyone can interrupt or disagree-- you are a speaker, and the audience has chosen to spend their time with you. Not each other in the bar. Not with any of the other concurrent speakers. You. And if you are invited to be a keynote speaker, the conference stops, and everyone listens to you. All the more responsibility.

That opportunity requires one to be self aware. "Am I using words this audience understands?" "Am I taking the appropriate tone for this audience? Too stuffy? Too casual? Is it age appropriate?" "Will this choice of sentence advance my cause, or unnecessarily confuse the audience? Unnecessarily anger the audience?" "Could I be more articulate?" "Am I 100% this statement is true?" "Is the audience interested in this topic? Even if it is important to me, how can I engage everyone?" "Is this joke necessary? Could someone think this joke is offensive? Racist? Sexist?" "Am I talking down to the audience? Am I talking over them?"

All eyes are on you, so your own eyes need to be on you. Critically analyzing your every move, as critically as you would be critiquing an Enemy Speaker.

Be aware of your potential targets. Especially at atheist/skeptic conferences, we are pretty much always attacking/making fun of someone. Whether its Jenny McCarthy or Michael Behe or Deepak Chopra, or Sarah Palin, sometimes you need to talk about a person and their actions, not just purely vaccines or evolution or psychology or politics. Sometimes you might even feel the need to address the words/actions of someone in the audience. If you chose to do this, from a privileged position as The Speaker, where The Target will not have a fair opportunity to respond, you need to be Dexter. You need to be 100% sure. "Is this attack 100% necessary?" "Will pursuing this attack advance my goals?" "Will this attack take attention away from my primary goals?" "Is attacking this individual the best way to call attention to this issue?" "How would I feel if someone attacked me, maybe even misrepresented me, to a group of hundreds of people, and I wouldnt get a chance to respond?" "Am I 100% sure I understand this persons perspective/position myself?" "Is it possible that this persons opinions are equally valid as mine, I just dont understand their world view myself?" "Is this person really relevant to the topic Im speaking about?" "Am I abusing my position as speaker to 'get back' at someone on a personal level?" "If I pursue this attack, is it possible I will come out looking like an asshole? Have I honestly reflected on this attack, or am I actually being an asshole? (see 'Be self-aware')"

Being a Decent Human Being is actually the best defense you can have against abusing your position as a speaker at atheist conferences. Dont abandon it for short-term gain: youre in a community, and youre going to lose that if you think of yourself as a predator on the make.

What about tactics? Lets say you are super passionate about an issue, but is a keynote speech really the best forum for your issue? Would a moderated, recorded brain-storming session be better? An official debate? An intimate, one-on-one conversation in a quiet side room? A light-hearted, open to everyone conversation in a noisy bar? Or maybe even an online discussion, where everyone can take time to think about their input and responses and questions carefully-- where everyone can simply send links to others, so everyone is on the same page, even everyone didnt start on the same page? Using a keynote address to pitch an idea for a skeptics football league is no more appropriate than using a keynote address to confront someone who said something that you found personally offensive (while others did not) is no more appropriate to rant for an hour about how the rent is too damn high. Yes, you have been given the opportunity to give a speech at an atheist conference-- but that doesnt mean a speech at an atheist conference is the appropriate tactic for what you are excited about 2 minutes before you give said speech. You need to put thought into this, or you will alienate your audience not because you are wrong or had a bad idea, but because you used the wrong tactic. People will think you capitalized on your invitation as a speaker, not to engage with the audience, but to pursue a personal interest (or vendetta). You abused the forum you were given. They might not be interested in providing you with that same platform in the future.

Of course, if any more experienced commenters would like to offer further suggestions, theyre welcome to continue...as long as they remember these are guidelines for Decent Human Beings, not assholes who will excuse someones bad behavior just because they are friends with the offender.

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What a refreshing breath of sanity you provide.

PZ doesn't understand that anyone can take offense at anything or nothing, and that offense does not equal injury.

As someone who helps determine speakers for the Mac IT conference track at Macworld Expo, and allowing for the difference in atmosphere, purpose and size between that entity and skeptic/athiest conferences, anyone, ANYONE who used even a second of podium-time for an off-topic attack on someone would be persona non grata forever. There is no place, no excuse, no justification for that on any level.

As someone who's been speaking at conference regularly since 1999, I cannot imagine doing what Watson did. It was juvenile, stupid, petty, passive-aggressive bullshit that has made me start thinking more critically about how I view skepchicks as an organization

"It was juvenile, stupid, petty, passive-aggressive bullshit that has made me start thinking more critically about how I view skepchicks as an organization"

This.

By Ray Percival (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

I was about to give up reading Science Blogs until I read this post. OK, there is still someone who makes sense on SB.

Off the top of my head there are two times in which i disagree with PZ, the whole 'what is an atheist' thing and ... this.

By lido209boi (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

harry-- 'Starts With A Bang' is *my* favorite science blog on the entire internet, possibly in the history of the internet, ever. 'We Beasties' is also a great blog, and I wish they had a following that reflected that to encourage them to post more often. Branch out ;)

Sorry, but I disagree. Intellectual honesty and the ability to have open discussion without feeling obligated to coddle individuals or avoid angering famous people is more important to me than being seen as an asshole. Rebecca's remarks were not off topic or some random pet issue because she was specifically invited to talk about feminism and atheism. And if you're putting your ideas out there publicly (like Stef did), you do so with the knowledge that people can call you out. The people who have been saying it's inappropriate because she's a student leader - or worse, a young girl - a part of the problem. She's an adult, treat her like one. If I - a young female student blogger - say stupid shit that becomes fodder for a talk, you know what I would do? Try to think about why what I said was so goddamn stupid, and correct it in the future.

I guess I'm just not a decent human being.

If I - a young female student blogger - say stupid shit that becomes fodder for a talk, you know what I would do? Try to think about why what I said was so goddamn stupid, and correct it in the future.

I do not agree that what McGraw wrote was 'goddamn stupid'. Yet she was accused of being anti-woman and misogynistic in a forum where she (nor I, nor anyone who disagreed) would have a platform to respond to those accusations.

If I quoted a snippet of something you wrote and declared you homophobic at a large convention, when you dont think (and many other dont think) what you said was homophobic, and you had no means of responding to that accusation, that would be wrong, and you would be (rightly) mad.

Accusing someone of racism, sexism, classism, etc, is extremely personal. What Watson did was inappropriate. Just like it was also inappropriate when Casey Luskin did it. I do not want to be able to compare my supposed allies with Creationists.

I am accusing Watson of doing something inappropriate, and I hope she sees that her choices did not have the effect on 'feminism' she was shooting for, and I hope she tries to correct it in the future. But she wouldnt know that I think she was very, very wrong unless I said something. So, here we are.

I've pretty much decided people are blind to anything outside their own experience. Therefore I expect people to see things in a simplistic manner.

Why are all of the prominent bloggers (PZ, Greg, Jen) going on about naming names. Stef never said she had a problem that her name was mentioned, she didn't say that she felt that as a student she shouldn't of been named nor criticized. She has specifically said the issue at hand in which she thought Rebecca to be unprofessional was that as a "student attendee" she was not allowed to address her accuser.

Why, why, why, why are all of the prominent bloggers making this out to seem as if the whole issue then is that Stef got butt hurt because she felt she was called out on by name (which she should have been immune to because she was a student). She didn't say she shouldn't have been named, she doesn't ask for anonymity, she isn't saying she shouldn't have been criticized. All she is saying is that as a 'student attendee' she could not respond back to the accusations of her being a misogynist sympathizer, and that it was inappropriate for Rebecca to call her out in a forum where she could have gone on about it practically nonstop while Stef had to sit there and listen as if Rebecca was her mommy lecturing her.

It seems no one cares what Stef said, all they care about is Rebecca's elevator guy encounter and what everyone else is saying Rebecca. Not what Stef is saying about Rebecca (why she thought it was unfair and unprofessional), not what Stef thought about the incident, but what everyone else is saying.

Am I missing something here? Heck even ERV isn't saying that it was wrong for Rebecca to name Stef, only that that wasn't the appropriate place for it. Yet still all of the other bloggers keeps shouting "OF COURSE STEF SHOULD HAVE BEEN NAMED!", when that isn't even what Stef took issue with in the first place (nor why ERV is posting all of this).

By lido209boi (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

Cogent, well-stated, and correct. This post should be the final word on the issue. Alas, I fear petty minds will prevail.

By frank habets (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

LOL, hey-- Hey you guys? Remember this time last year when everyone was freaking out over Pepsi?

LOL!!!

I have to start reading this blog more frequently. Thanks for putting the focus on what seems to me to be the only inarguable thing in this whole shitstorm: Watson abused her position as keynote speaker to make a petty swipe at someone who disagreed with her.

Gender, misogyny, feminism, and skepticism do not come into play here. At all. Watson acted unprofessionally and should own up to that and apologize to McGraw.

Chuck@#13

"Watson acted unprofessionally and should own up to that and apologize to McGraw."

She might know that, if she had a profession. She is an ex street performer and communications major who is working without qualifications as a copy writer, courtesy of internet celebrity and JREF sycophancy.

PZ and Laden are defending her because she kisses their bottoms and I suspect the payoff will be the same as Dawkins got from his personal toady.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

She might know that, if she had a profession.

Ouch! That's going to leave a mark...

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

I'm probably just re-stating what's been said in different terms, but I see what Rebecca did as inappropriate because she was privileged by being a speaker and having prepared in advance. Stef was at a disadvantage because she did not have a talk and the Q&A was not equal footing, nor did she necessarily have the time to recover from the surprise of being called-out publicly in a talk she was attending.

I think a commenter on Pharyngula summarized it best:

"Best I can tell, it's apparently because publicly refuting her live in front of 100 people for a couple of minutes of a talk is way worse than writing about it on her blog where at least 10,000 people would read it and it would sit around being able to be read for internet eternity. Or some shit like that."

I honestly don't give a crap anymore about Elevator Guy, or what Stef originally said (even though I *do* think it was goddamn stupid), or even Rebecca calling her out. The thing that upsets me about all of this is how fucking crazy everyone is getting, and the really ignorant or oblivious comments this is generating. Especially by people I respect (like Dawkins, or Hemant, or Miranda Hale, or wtf Jerry Coyne telling me to stop swearing). The fact that Woman Saying She's Uncomfortable ALWAYS devolves into a shitstorm of screaming and/or disregard and/or rape apologetics makes me want to ragequit the atheist movement all together.

Well said. It seems obvious to me (veteran of a whole ONE talk at a conference!) that this is not the way to go about disagreeing with someone in public. I find it odd that so many people who have given so many talks CAN'T see that. It's abuse of power far worse than asking someone for coffee in an elevator.

A lesson that I have learned about talks and public speaking (and i had to learn this lesson the hard way): Don't play shame/blame-games with the audience, even when the intentions are noble, good, brave and so on...
It just makes people 'stupid' (in quotes, because it makes otherwise smart, clever and reasonable people do and say dumb things)....

Now, as I give it a second thought, I notice that in other life situations, these shame/blame-thing never (or very rarely) turned into something constructive. And it makes me wonder, why I just cant help and continue doing these things. And I guess that I am not the only one. Maybe it's just because I am a member of the species homo sapiens (and that's latin for 'wise or knowing man', isn't it?). And Humans can be pretty slow learners in some areas (doing and continuing things that just don't work). Maybe these evolutionary psychologists can answer these question....usually they always have something truthy to say about such things.
Well, I hope that saying such things doesn't make me guilty of being a misanthrope :)

lido209boi: I'm saying that Steph had a forum and need not have complained. The internet is her oyster. I should say though, that a friend of mine and I were just talking about the idea that she should be offered by someone a chance to have a wider venue if she wants it. Personally, I was thinking of a Bloggingheads TV episode with Steph and Rebecca but that may not go well....

PZ and Laden are defending her because she kisses their bottoms and I suspect the payoff will be the same as Dawkins got from his personal toady.

I haven't noticed that. Any evidence? Examples? I need to know if Rebecca has been kissing my ass because I might owe her a favor or something. She'll be mad at me if I don't pay off.

Oh, and did you see the post by Barb Drescher? Mutual admiration society theory deflated.

@Greg

I guess that's where we both don't agree with each other. I just really don't see how you can equate someone on stage calling you out in the flesh to your peers and you not able to respond. But then if you go back home and sit in your bedroom blogging about it at night, YOU HAD EQUAL GROUND, PLATFORM, AND TIME WITH THEM!

By lido209boi (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

PS - I thought these gnu atheists was supposed to be confrontational, but I guess what confrontational meant was that you go out in public, get ripped on in public, and come back home to blog about it on the internet. *shrugs*

By lido209boi (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

It should be noted that Watson spent almost 30 minutes building up to that 2 minute mention of McGraw's post, before even beginning her talk on "The Religious Right vs Every Woman on Earth". I was there in the audience, and timed it.

And to be honest, I missed a good majority of that talk because my mind was spinning with what she had just done.

Greg Laden@#20

"I haven't noticed that. Any evidence? Examples? I need to know if Rebecca has been kissing my ass because I might owe her a favor or something."

You dumped pages of ecstatic self congratulatory crap about you and Meyers speaking at the Skepchick conference without a blip about being third billing to Watson's less credible uneducated racist false rape accusation apologist buddy Amanda Marcotte.

Isn't it nice to be fancied at our age?

Ass kissed. Watson defended. You are even.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 03 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sorry, but I disagree. Intellectual honesty and the ability to have open discussion without feeling obligated to coddle individuals or avoid angering famous people is more important to me than being seen as an asshole. Rebecca's remarks were not off topic or some random pet issue because she was specifically invited to talk about feminism and atheism. And if you're putting your ideas out there publicly (like Stef did), you do so with the knowledge that people can call you out. The people who have been saying it's inappropriate because she's a student leader - or worse, a young girl - a part of the problem. She's an adult, treat her like one. If I - a young female student blogger - say stupid shit that becomes fodder for a talk, you know what I would do? Try to think about why what I said was so goddamn stupid, and correct it in the future.

Stef put her ideas out in a forum where all are reasonably equal, and all can respond with close to equal power. Watson did nothing even close to that. I've been behind that podium. even when people do disagree with me, I have the microphone, and I have a position of (implied) power the audience does not possess at that moment in time. I can cut off a question, or, should I choose, completely ignore the questioner and take questions from everyone else. In other words, if I see that someone might be inconvenient, it is fairly easy for me to shut them out and/or down, and they can't do much about it but bitch on the internet, after the session, or to the organizers. But in that moment in time, they ain't doin' shit that I can't stop.

The power imbalance is what made Watson's actions wrong. This is not complicated. Just like being a company with a 90+% marketshare means you play by different rules than the company with 5%, when you're a speaker, you play by different rules than the people in the audience. You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept that reality.

Finally, I'm beginning to think that stef's crime wasn't disagreeing with Watson, it was that she dared question one of the skeperati.

LOL, hey-- Hey you guys? Remember this time last year when everyone was freaking out over Pepsi?

I'm still trying to decide which was stupider. It's harder than it looks.

(that's what she said)

I'm saying that Steph had a forum and need not have complained. The internet is her oyster. I should say though, that a friend of mine and I were just talking about the idea that she should be offered by someone a chance to have a wider venue if she wants it. Personally, I was thinking of a Bloggingheads TV episode with Steph and Rebecca but that may not go well....

I usually agree with you Greg and when I don't I often learn something new (even if I still end up disagreeing with you). Not this time. The idea that the internet can be her oyster, seems absurd to me. When women are treated like objects by key note speakers at atheist meetings (see how pretty Christina Rad is?) do you tell people not to complain or imply they shouldn't be concerned since the internet is available? Does a post hoc podcast make it all better? I don't think so and find it odd that you seem to.

Possibly interesting meta-question â Which issue is more important to the health of the skeptical community: the one addressed by PZ one how to be ethical about trying to get laid after hours at conferences, or the one addressed here about how to be ethical when arguing amongst ourselves during the day at conferences?

Right now, I'm leaning towards the question addressed (quite aptly) by ERV for a few reasons.

Firstly, it seems like the more difficult question. I just donât think it takes that much thought to see the potential threat involved in cornering someone and awkwardly propositioning them in an elevator. The actual threat of humiliation from a podium is a bit subtler, and apparently requires a bit of explaining, as weâve seen above.

Moreover, the way popular speakers behave is far more public and reputational than the way random douche-bags do. Granted, itâs a bit of a stain on us to have such people around, and Iâd personally like to see Elevator Guy publicly shamed by name (you can do that here in America without much risk of libel) but I still doubt that his actions carry much weight in terms of how people see the sceptical community as a whole.

Finally, even when the big names actually address the original incident, it has the potential to backfire horribly and make us look like a bunch of privileged old white men. Enough has already been said about that.

Interesting how the power shifts in our lives. In conference, the one at the podium has power. In elevator, the one with the penis has power.

LOL

Erhmm...

Happy 4th of July to you all. Be you male or female.

From the other side of the pond :)

PZ never did address what someone in the audience who is "called out" (insulted) by a conference's keynote speaker, thirty minutes before the end of a talk on some completely different topic, should do. Immediately demand a microphone and equal time? Disrupt the Q&A? Or complain about it in his/her blog?

Does he actually say that the last option is wrong?

ttch, well he sort of has: "Suck it up, and blog about it later" would be the general response towards stef on this from PZ's side. Essentially none of them are willing to even entertain the thought that Watson MIGHT have been out of line for what she did to stef. In fact, if it's brought up, their response is OMG, ELEVATOR GUY!!!

They've decided that Watson, at least in this case, can do no wrong whatsoever, and any criticism of her with regards to this incident is therefore automatically wrong.

Which is of course, bullshit, but once you close your mind....

The comment about 'Heathers' is exactly right. I stopped being a regular commenter on Pharyngula a few years back when it became apparent there was a party line you couldn't cross and that demarcation line involved criticizing the 'more equal' skeptics. If you have to be 100% behind everything the correct people do and say otherwise you are deemed an enemy of the people then I guess, despite being on the same side on 99% of questions, you'll have to put me down on the enemy column.

Sigmund, you pretty much nailed it. it's why i *rarely* comment on anything over there.

It's so pathetically bad that when I commented on "pepsigate", i was accused of being an astroturfer for pepsi. Why? Because due to the way SB deals with commenter auth, the only reliable way for me to log in was to use gmail. So CLEARLY, because I didn't agree with PZ lockstep and I was logging in as "jcwelch@gmail.com", I was an astroturfer.

For a group that prides themselves on their mighty brains, they don't think so good sometimes.

"remember these are guidelines for Decent Human Beings"

Very nice. But now how about guidelines for the rest of us?

libo (22): I think I see what you are saying, but I don't think that anything is ever going to "equate." Unless everyone in ever conversation is always on their own identical podium, there is always going to be an instantaneous difference. And, that will relate to fame and power relations. Dawkins lame comment on PZ's blog is bigger than Rebecca's whole speech (possibly) and standing in front of a room is different than being in an audience.

By the way, I totally get why Steph did not comment in the Q&A. I probably wouldn't have either. But you and many others seem to be asking for people to only say certain things at certain times to somehow even out or compensate for the heterogeneity we have in the broadcast characteristics of a given effort at communication, but that is a) impossible and b) usually not demanded unless it happens to be convenient to supporting an argument, and it really has nothing to do with the argument anyway.

It is reasonable to check and see if someone is not getting a chance to have a voice and to try to step in and help, but it is not reasonable to shape one's discussion to avoid or underscore different things because someone else may or may not speak during a Q&A or because someone else may use livejournal rather than a blog, etc.

Otherwise none of us could make a move.

(Well, that may be a good thing, but still...)

Prometheus (25) You need to clarify. So far what I see you saying is that there is something I didn't say. And I'm not sure what it was I didn't say or what the topic is. Also, I think you just told me to not promote my own involvement in an effort to promote science and stuff. Is your preferred strategy that we do this public promotion of science in secret?

John (26/27) The power imbalance position is valid, but it is valid only as a consideration, not as a basis for splitting the community asunder, charging convicting sentencing and punishing Rebecca. Steph was not silenced. You say it is not complicated but I'm afraid that is a stand in for "this is not nuanced." And it is.

Pepsigate was stupider because it was about not wanting to be associate with soda. This discussion is about not wanting to be hit on in an elevator by someone who is probably harmless. On the other and, the degree to which it is dragged out of proportion may be reversed. Or maybe not. Hard to say if people quitting their blogs (which they did for reasons other than soda) is a big deal.

Lorax [28]: Your point is totally valid, but here's the thing: We are telling a woman, effectively, that she is not allowed to complain about a man hitting on her. But she does in fact have that right, and all of the telling her to shut up is mysogynist. Steph is very unlikely to be a mysogynist asshole, but what she did was the act of one and she needs to learn that.

I'm fine with questioning the strategy Rebecca used, but it is simply not true that a) Steph does not have a voice or b) that the fact that anyone you address in a talk can't reasonably jump to the podium and defend themself means that we never mention anyone in a talk.

Here's the thing: One is always going to be able to make a post hoc argument about the nature of the broadcast or about access. Most of what we are seeing here is an anti-Skepchick reaction, little more. Had a skepchick been in the audience and some big-ass skeptic took them down a notch from the podium, most of the people who are now berating Rebecca (who, by the way, I hardly know and have almost nothing to do with despite the sense I'm getting that we are somehow in each other's back pockets) would be silent about it. One piece of evidence for this is the fact that so much of the "Shut up Rebecca" rhetoric comes packaged with some notation or another of the Skepchicks as some sort of negative force.

Does a post hoc podcast make it all better? I don't think so and find it odd that you seem to.

I don't think it does, I don't see the world as so simple. But I do acknowledge that public debates are complex and messy. What is really happening here is post hoc, but not intrinsic to the debate. See comments above.

Rorschach [33] Jesus Christ, I'm agreeing with Jen on this. That's almost as bad as Drescher agreeing with Rebecca.

FTW.

John/Sigmund [36,37] FTW also.

This discussion is about not wanting to be hit on in an
elevator by someone who is probably harmless.
Maybe elsewhere, but not on ERV.

One piece of evidence for this is the fact that so much of the "Shut up Rebecca" rhetoric comes packaged with some notation or another of the Skepchicks as some sort of negative force.
Where have I told Watson to shut up?

I told Watson that she abused her invitation as a keynote speaker to settle a personal vendetta. This was not a well thought out, carefully considered point-- Watson made a split-second decision right before her speech to accuse someone of being anti-women and mysogenistic in front of a large group of people, where the accused had no position to respond.

That was an unwise decision.

What 'motivated' me to respond was my conscience. I have been in McGraws position, and I have been in Watsons. What Watson did was wrong, and I want her to be concious of her position in the future.

This has been clear on ERV.

Elevator guy is a lark that is being used to excuse inappropriate behavior.

I find it disconcerting that the skeptical community has assumed that we're all on board for what would be commonly described as 'liberal' political viewpoints. I, for one, am tired of having this crap shoved down my throat. I've asked several of my female friends (Save your breath. I know that that's not a scientific survey) and they find the whole debacle ridiculous.

There's no debate, no argument. An expression of doubt, a hesitation to unquestionably accept any kind of action touting itself as feminism (in this case, public humiliation of an individual), and 'male privilege' is invoked. From then on, you are supposed to prostrate yourself and beg forgiveness for your ignorance in even questioning this viewpoint.

How patronising! How thoroughly unreflective of avowed skeptics to insist that everybody accept their point of view while providing only ready-bake thinking/heuristics like 'male privilege'.

By Galwayskeptic (not verified) on 04 Jul 2011 #permalink

But she does in fact have that right, and all of the telling her to shut up is mysogynist. Steph is very unlikely to be a mysogynist asshole, but what she did was the act of one and she needs to learn that.

I fail to see how telling someone to shut up is an act of hatred or dislike towards a gender, surely it's more of an attempt to well, shut someone up because you don't like what they say, or think them foolish. Not that I've seen Steph, or in fact anyone here say that anyway. Perhaps telling women in general to shut-up, or saying someone should shut-up because of their gender, but I haven't seen that either.

I keep seeing this sort of statement, has misogyny changed meaning lately?

I was tempted to ask one of those who said a guy's intent doesn't matter, and that anyone who didn't agree was suffering male privilege, if they had heard of Emmitt Till.

Erv [43] I wasn't actually referring to your post at all.

I told Watson that she abused her invitation as a keynote speaker to settle a personal vendetta. This was not a well thought out, carefully considered point

That's a reasonable interpretation. I'm not sure how split second it was since there was a screen capture and stuff, but something along those lines, could be.

Galwayskeptic, Peter, I know, I know, it's hard.

Seeing how telling someone to shut up is a sexist act, from the point of view of someone who has not had the experiences, learning, training, or self reflection needed to get to that place.

This guy in the elevator thing is totally stupid. So what. He just said some words. He was not a rapist. He didn't do anything but say some stuff, get rebuffed, and then moved on. It seems like nothing.

It is hard for many people to see why it is not nothing.

Well, ignoring your second paragraph since that isn't what anyone else is discussing, yes, it is very hard to see how telling someone to shut up is a sexist act, I'd most certainly agree there.

It is hard for many people to see why it is not nothing.

Why are you avoiding the topic of the post and trying to keep bringing it back to elevator guy. Do you think elevator guy gave Watson a carte blanche to behave inappropriately?

Being creeped out in an elevator gives you the right to abuse a speaking platform and abuse a student. Since I lived through an attempted drugging/date rape in college and serious stalking in my adult life, can I go to TAM and scream "RAPIST!! RAPIST!!!!" all through Watsons speech for trivializing sexual violence?

I mean, surely a man telling a woman to shut up has to be more than a man telling a woman to shut up for it to be sexism, let alone the term you've backed off from, misogyny?

He has to have some sexist sentiment for it to be sexist. He has to be utilising his privilege to put himself above the woman (you know, like Watson abused her privilege?)

Or does he?

Can someone commit a misogynistic act (whatever that means regarding speech) without even targeting someone that they think is a woman? Does the woman have to know it's a man? If just the act is sexism, then it doesn't matter that he knows because you're saying it's an intrinsically sexist act, right? Does misogyny have to even involve a woman? If it doesn't need to involve any privilege or sexism, why not? Words don't have to mean anything.

Certainly not the word "misogyny", that wouldn't hurt any group if the word was completely devalued.

Or maybe, just maybe, a man telling a women to shut up can be, but might not be, a misogynistic attack?

Or are you just talking total nonsense? Am I?

Is this sexist because I'm a woman?

Woo, gender betrayal!

Peter, in 52:
"I mean, surely a man telling a woman to shut up has to be more than a man telling a woman to shut up for it to be sexism"
Redundant department of redundancy, or typo?

ERV continues to point out, and at least to me, correctly so, that the only issue worth discussing is "were Watson's actions (in her keynote) appropriate?". Just as with any other speech, context matters. Here, the context appears to be embodied in the question "did Stef deserve what she got?" or, put another way, were her actions wrong enough to deserve being called out? Perhaps another relevant question would be "was she effective?"

Arguing that there is a factually correct or objectively true answer to these questions seems silly. Having said that, my opinion is that calling someone out in that fashion, or "naming names" if you prefer, is a rather drastic remedy. While it is certainly an appropriate remedy at times, this was not one of them. If Stef was wrong at all (a debatable point) it didn't justify Watson's response. I think Watson's goal was a good one but rather than achieving that goal she simply came across (to me) as self righteous and self aggrandizing. In short, not effective. Please note that I am not at all referring to her reaction to the elevator incident; I am solely referring to her reaction to Stef.

Yeah, I've told a lot of people to shut up in my life. Men, women, adults, children, young, old, gay, straight, bi, queer, pretty, ugly, rich, poor, friends, family, strangers on the internet, cats, dogs, birds, alarm clocks... is it misogyny or sexism if it's a female dog? Where's the line? Is it just on sex lines? Or gender lines? What if it's a man with long hair and a skirt? What if he's just Scottish? What if I don't know whether it's a man or a woman?What if I know it's a woman, but I was just telling a man to shut up for the same reason? What if it's a man and a woman at the same time?

So many on here using the 'youre not allowed to insult us' thing as a way to have a dig at pzm. not rebecca watson but pzm. Nice to have classy side of the argument eh?

PZ is an expert on evolution and the non-existence of god. Socially or morally correct behavior? He has interesting opinions, for sure, and he's often right, but he's not an expert.

You're out of your tree on this one Abbie, McGraw's being a student is irrelevant because an atheist/sceptic meeting is not an academic meeting - the rules for disagreement/dissent aren't the same. McGraw chose to disagree in public, Watson responded in public. Your idea that internet drama is not real world drama is bullshit and it hasn't been true since USENET, ie forever.

By dexitroboper (not verified) on 04 Jul 2011 #permalink

Dexitroboper, I think you've either got this one very wrong or you are unintentionally spot on.
First, OK the student status is not the main issue (although not unimportant given the nature of the meeting). It is also not at issue that RW should not be able to respond to criticism. The argument is, essentially, that her reaction was way out of proportion to the criticism. She essentially accused McGraw of enabling or supporting rapists or those advocating rape.
That is pretty much godwining the debate. That fact and the additional fact that the criticism came during a talk that was on a subject not particularly relevant to the point at hand meant that RW used the talk simply as an opportunity to score points against someone who criticised her.
Then again, I think that, following many of the postings about this, it appears that many people see no problem with her actions. Criticise someone on a blog post and its fair game for them to respond in any way possible, including labeling you a rape enabler.
All's fair in love, war and skeptical blogging.

"You're out of your tree on this one Abbie, McGraw's being a student is irrelevant because an atheist/sceptic meeting is not an academic meeting - the rules for disagreement/dissent aren't the same."

Maybe that is the case because Watson has turned atheist/skeptic meetings into singles meat markets, fancy dress drinking contests and impromptu (by impromptu I mean elaborately staged coup attempts) wedding ceremonies.

If the environment has changed to the point where you get to elaborately hit on people or pillory students from behind a podium then that steaming pile of crap is all about Watson and her ilk's self aggrandizement...no matter how many rapidly expanding balding internet/atheist celebs she has tickled under the chin for a photo op.

Who the hell do you want making the rules? Academics/students or a self important star fucking former juggler.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 04 Jul 2011 #permalink

Who the hell do you want making the rules?
James Randi? No, he's a well known entertainer. Maybe Penn Gilette or Adam Savage who are well respected for their science chops.

Atheist/sceptic meetings are much more like SF conventions than academic meetings and you want meetings that mainstream atheism not make it an ivory tower pursuit.

By dexitroboper (not verified) on 04 Jul 2011 #permalink

dexitroboper@#61

"James Randi? No, he's a well known entertainer. Maybe Penn Gilette or Adam Savage who are well respected for their science chops."

They are well respected for their respect for science and because they were professionally successful celebrities on the basis of merit prior to their association with skepticism.

That also entitles them to have their names spelled correctly. Dunce.

Watson's celebrity is entirely based on association rather than any professional accomplishment as demonstrated by the fact that she objects to bad behaviors in midst of the keg parties she created.

This failing of fundamental diplomacy should disqualify her from pretending to speak on anyone's behalf or act as arbiter of anything.

Like Josh Timonen she is ultimately an embarrassment who does not intend to let merit get in the way of her ambitions.

"......and you want meetings that mainstream atheism not make it an ivory tower pursuit."

Watson let her freak flag fly at a CFI student leadership conference on a University Campus.

That is the very model of an "ivory tower pursuit".

Pro tip: Skeptics don't fling epithets against the institutions devoted to the life of the mind.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 04 Jul 2011 #permalink

In academia the self-aggrandizing hangers-on who appoint themselves arbiters of what people are allowed to say is called "The Communications Department".

I just want to tweak your #1 a bit. If you analyse yourself like that in the moment, you WILL choke. The key is to do all that thinking *ahead* of time. Block out time for it in your calendar and don't underestimate how much time it will take.

John (26/27) The power imbalance position is valid, but it is valid only as a consideration, not as a basis for splitting the community asunder, charging convicting sentencing and punishing Rebecca. Steph was not silenced. You say it is not complicated but I'm afraid that is a stand in for "this is not nuanced." And it is.

Rebecca is getting punished for what people perceive as a dick move. it's called "criticism". She has no more right to exemption from criticism than anyone else, especially, *especially* when she is so loudly saying the *exact same thing about stef*. If Stef is not exempt from criticism, then neither is rebecca, and if that is all it takes to "tear the community asunder" then the community had little strength or lasting value and needed to die anyway. Seriously, just a tad overdramatic.

Pepsigate was stupider because it was about not wanting to be associate with soda. This discussion is about not wanting to be hit on in an elevator by someone who is probably harmless. On the other and, the degree to which it is dragged out of proportion may be reversed. Or maybe not. Hard to say if people quitting their blogs (which they did for reasons other than soda) is a big deal.

Actually, no. It has to do with Rebecca abusing her position as a speaker to bag on someone in public from a position of power knowing full good and well they weren't going to say fuck all to her when she's on the podium in a room full of fans. That is *100%* of my, and many people's problems with her. The elevator incident is related to that, but that does not excuse her behavior. If someone treats you like crap at work, and on your way out the door, you kick a hobo in the taint, YOU'RE STILL WRONG.

That is the point. Which you seem to be completely missing. Rebecca's stunt on the podium was a dick move to a lot of people. You may disagree, fine. But stop making it out that everyone who disagrees with her dick move at the podium thinks that elevator guy did nothing wrong. They are in fact two separate, but related incidents and it is entirely possible to agree with Rebecca about Elevator Guy, (WHO STILL HAS NOT BEEN EVEN VAGUELY IDENTIFIED. WHY IS THIS DUDE'S PRIVACY OF SUCH PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE TO HER?), and think she made a dick move at the podium. Really. No one is saying rebecca can't complain. They are disagreeing with her about the severity of the incident, and honestly, if that is causing her consternation, put your grownup underwear on, not everyone is going to agree with you about that kind of situation.

But evidently, unless you are lockstep with Rebecca on this, you're a misogynist. What kind of groupthink bullshit is that?

Seeing how telling someone to shut up is a sexist act, from the point of view of someone who has not had the experiences, learning, training, or self reflection needed to get to that place.

Da Fuck? No, it is not unless the only reason you're doing it is because the speaker is female or male. It is entirely possible to tell someone to shut up because you think they just said something stupid, and the sex of the speaker has nothing to do with it.

This is really simple Greg. I, and many others, (Abbie as well) think that Watson's actions on the podium were wrong. Elevator guy is a related, but separate incident that does not justify nor excuse her actions.

You may disagree of course, but stop trying to justify one with the other, it's not even strong enough to be weak.

@65-

But evidently, unless you are lockstep with Rebecca on this, you're a misogynist. What kind of groupthink bullshit is that?

Yes indeed. The groupthink is incredibly frustrating. Most people who dared to dissent at Pharyngula, for example, were met with some variety of "STFU YOU SEXIST IGNORANT PRIVILEGED FUCKER!!".

Want to know how to determine if Rebecca Watson had the position of power here?
Read PZ's Blog Always Name Names. Who does he link? Whose side do readers get to hear? Rebecca Watsons.
PZ apparently did not even bother to read Stef's blog posts nor did he link to them for others to read.
Rebecca was the only voice he presented.
That is pretty indicative of who had the power.
One of the major defenses that Watson used for calling out Stef at the conference was that Stef could have used the Q&A to respond to her.
So, Please, go to this youtube video and listen from 2:30-3:05 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W014KhaRtik
Watson takes issue with something Paula Kirby said during an earlier panel discussion. Watson says she did not use the Q&A to address it because
"I didn't have a question so much as an hour long lecture, so I would like to give that now, ha ha ha."
She says this from her position on the panel.
When Watson took issue with something someone said, the Q&A was insufficient for her to respond.
She used her position on the panel. In fact, it determined her whole talk.
But Stef McGraw? Student, audience member, mute by protocal from not having a panel?
"If you disagree with my saying you 'propagated misogynist thinking' in front of all your peers, you could have addressed in in the Q&A"
Wow, If that is not showing an imbalance of power, I don't know what to tell you.

Miranda @66:
I've just embraced it. If not agreeing to be labelled a rapist-in-waiting, oppressive, hateful, sexist and what not is an appropriate use of those words for saying, "I don't think you're right here", then these terms have lost all meaning. To that extent, I'll wear them happily within that group. However, to the rest of the world, these words still have power and meaning.

But, you know, I'm privileged. My white male power is so strong that saying I'm not convinced actually gets people sexually assaulted. And I'm stupid, too.

One has to wonder the strength of one's position if the riposte to its not being immediately assented to involves: you're too stupid to understand (only people smart like I am smart can "get" this - you're excluded from that - even if you're being oppressed right now), you're a woman hater (even if, you know, you actually hate no woman in particular, or women in general), you're a sexist (yes, I guess I am; don't let my lifetime of arguing for equality of gender and race stand in the way of that charge though), you're a fucker (here, I must confess it's true, but incomplete. I'm happier being the fuckee!).

There was once a time when I worked under the impression that we faggots and women were natural allies in social equality. This weekend has severely damaged that - (hi, blaghag and others!). While I will of course never oppose equality for women, I will no longer be attending women's rights events knowing now that my faggoty ass will be seen as a rapist by a non-trivial set of attendees. Fuck that; I can go get accused of doing things I actually do by other bigots, for some benefit even. Sorry, if one has to denigrate entire swathes of the human population to make a point that one's way is The Way, there's a big problem somewhere.

The problem? It is irrelevant to them to that others must be trampled; their way is The One True Way. Anyone who disagrees with every jot and tittle is the enemy. After this weekend, I will never again say that atheists eschew dogma; we positively eat it up it would appear.

Being creeped out in an elevator gives you the right to abuse a speaking platform and abuse a student.

That's really the crux of Abbie's (and Prometheus', although he seems to have a personal axe to grind with RW) argument, isn't it. That Watson mentioning McGraw in her talk somehow amounted to "abuse" of some kind. I find that argument unconvincing at best, and utterly naive at worst. There is no power imbalance, if you write stuff on a blog, you better be ready for someone to quote you and take you to task for what you wrote. It's just not true that RW has the upper hand here because she can dial 555-PZ, and her cause will be supported by a Technorati top 100 blog. PZ defended her because he thinks she has a point, not to do her a favor, and so did I by the way. Greg and I have offered Stef a platform to tell her side, same goes for elevator guy, who I after all spent a weekend with.
You write shit about people on your blog or anywhere else, those people might pick up on that. That's what RW did.

That's really the crux of Abbie's (and Prometheus', although he seems to have a personal axe to grind with RW) argument, isn't it. That Watson mentioning McGraw in her talk somehow amounted to "abuse" of some kind. I find that argument unconvincing at best, and utterly naive at worst.

Let's play a game. It's called, "Who's got the power". I will pack a room with my supporters and friends. I will get them going, all riled up. At some point after I start, I'll put some, or all of this statement on the screen, and call you a "Fucking stupid douchebag". Your assignment? While wearing a nametag that clearly identifies you, walk up to a mike during the Q&A in a room full of people actively opposing you, and call me out on it. You must do so with absolutely ZERO trepidation, and ZERO worry, and you must somehow be ready to shout down a guy with a better mic who can completely ignore you.

That's kind of what Stef faced. There was in fact a power imbalance. Your refusal to acknowledge it doesn't change that fact.

There is no power imbalance, if you write stuff on a blog, you better be ready for someone to quote you and take you to task for what you wrote. It's just not true that RW has the upper hand here because she can dial 555-PZ, and her cause will be supported by a Technorati top 100 blog. PZ defended her because he thinks she has a point, not to do her a favor, and so did I by the way. Greg and I have offered Stef a platform to tell her side, same goes for elevator guy, who I after all spent a weekend with.

You and laden offered her the same platform she *already has*: a blog. Wow. You offered her what she already has. Go you.

Everything is not the same. A blog is not a keynote is not a car is not a Mongonian War-Zeppelin. You want to offer her the same platform? Make her a keynote at the next TAM, pack the room full of her friends and supporters, then plunk Rebecca Watson down in that room, with maybe a friend or two at most.

THAT will then be an equivalent platform.

You write shit about people on your blog or anywhere else, those people might pick up on that. That's what RW did.

No, it's not. Watson could have answered her back on Skepchicks, she could have talked to her one on one, or over email. Those would have been equivalent responses. What Watson did was nuke her from orbit.

Rorschach-- PZ is listening to Watson, in person. He didnt even bother to link to Stefs response, so Im assuming Watson didnt tell him it existed, and he never read it. And it doesnt matter what PZs motivations were-- my motivations were pure too. What matters to me is how the 'defended' have responded. Ultimately, McGraw and the students at the CFI conference didnt need me to say anything. They have established that they are fully capable of writing intelligent, impassioned responses, far more articulate than anything I have written on ERV. Watson, on the other hand, is hiding behind PZs apron and proud of it, gloating on her facebook page that 'she deosnt need to say anything. PZ covered it perfectly.'

That doesnt 'raise a few red flags' for you?

Welch-- In fairness to Watson, the audience she started with was not the audience she finished with. Numerous students who attended the conference have contacted me with their version of events, and they are 'not pleased' with Watsons behavior. I think McGraw would have been given some slack if she walked up to the mic in the Q&A and flipped Watson off.

And, what Watson did was way worse than calling someone a 'fucking stupid douchebag'. She called McGraw anti-woman and a misogynist. You would need to accuse Rorschach of being a homophobe who wants all gays to shut up, or better yet, strung up.

She brings up a youtube discussion in front of a serious audience. I avoid reading those comments and sure as hell won't get involved because it's the most ridiculous form of discussion possible. The fact she not only thrives on crap like this but actually brings it up as somehow being relevant to the greater issue of sexism in the atheist community should immediately have disqualified her from ever being invited back.

It's really not about whether or not she had a 'right' to call out McGraw. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, if you blog your opinions you're fair game. What matters is that she somehow doesn't realize that nobody wants to be involved in her petty little e-feuds, much less her views on 'Thug4Life95' and his 'lol i hop u get raped lol!' comments on youtube.

After a couple of busy days I sit down and surf the skeptic blogs and see what is going down. And the crap at Pharyngula and other places reminds me that my mentor has a point. Miranda nails it above and it is worth repeating:

Yes indeed. The groupthink is incredibly frustrating. Most people who dared to dissent at Pharyngula, for example, were met with some variety of "STFU YOU SEXIST IGNORANT PRIVILEGED FUCKER!!".

Scientists are (usually) trained to be their own greatest critics. That's an important part of skepticism. Not just to question other people's ideas, but also your own. The Pharyngulites have shown that they are not able to do this. The aggressive arrogance of the mob prevents introspection.

I've often skirted around the periphery of skeptic groups, tempted to get involved but there have always been higher priorities. I've mentioned this to my mentor (great scientist, proper old school type, free thinking atheist) who tells me he is not impressed by the skeptic movement; he points out they are often as ideological as those they criticise. I've tried to argue that while no group will ever be perfect, the principles are pretty sound and worthwhile. I've never convinced him, or myself for that matter, that he is wrong on this.

So EG didn't have empathy for Rebecca's position. And Rebecca didn't have empathy for Stef's position. But it is Rebecca who brings (via PZ) a huge internet following to bully anyone who dares to disagree. Free thinking: not so free any more.

Anyway, thank you ERV for being a ray of light in this otherwise stupid episode for rational skepticism.

(Aside. Lack of empathy for another person's feelings is a common symptom of Asperger's. This symptom appears evident in both EG and RW's behaviours. Can we rule out that EG has Asperger's? Even RW? And has PZ effectively declared such people who have difficulties interacting socially are not decent human beings and are not welcome at skeptic events?)

The sooner we can close this chapter, the better, IMHO. Everyone's had a chance to be heard, and the schism hasn't changed anyone's mind. It takes two sides to fight a battle. A gracious moment of concession, an apology, or a short online meeting between the aggrieved to clear the air could have ended this days ago. Instead, everyone is nursing bruised egos. If rational atheists can't be frank and honest with each other, put their feelings aside and agree on what really matters, I'm not sure anyone can.

If I come away from this episode with any deep feelings, it is a profound loss of respect for Richard Dawkins for his offensive rhetoric and faulty logic in comments on Pharyngula.

He has become the elder statesman of this community, and his comments were the kind of flame-baiting I expect of YouTubers. Jen called him on it, PZ concurred, and I was glad to see that. I think he needs to go public at RDF forums and just be honestly contrite. It was an egregious error, and it deserves a proportional response.

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 05 Jul 2011 #permalink

Welch-- In fairness to Watson, the audience she started with was not the audience she finished with. Numerous students who attended the conference have contacted me with their version of events, and they are 'not pleased' with Watsons behavior. I think McGraw would have been given some slack if she walked up to the mic in the Q&A and flipped Watson off.

Oh good, i'm quite happy to be wrong about that then. Given the rampant sycophantic behavior i'vs seen towards her, I forgot the rule about how few people in any group ever actually speak up.

And, what Watson did was way worse than calling someone a 'fucking stupid douchebag'. She called McGraw anti-woman and a misogynist. You would need to accuse Rorschach of being a homophobe who wants all gays to shut up, or better yet, strung up.

Good point, but there's only so far I'll go in making a point.

(Aside. Lack of empathy for another person's feelings is a common symptom of Asperger's. This symptom appears evident in both EG and RW's behaviours. Can we rule out that EG has Asperger's? Even RW? And has PZ effectively declared such people who have difficulties interacting socially are not decent human beings and are not welcome at skeptic events?)

Spence, you raise a really good point there, although I tend to blame it on Asshole's, not Asperger's. But PZ's declarations of "unless you behave in this precise manner that "we" approve of, you're not welcome" has a lot to do with my general antipathy towards such gatherings. (That, and the actual conference/talk tracks SEEM to be just a tish full of "Aren't we so much cooler than they are" content. But I could be wrong there.)

I really don't want to be in a place where an inopportune comment and the knives come out. That's just mob rule. It may be a normally polite, well-educated mob, but it is a mob. It makes me really, really not want to spend the time or money to go to a TAM or TAM-like meeting.

It's also somewhat surprising at how many people are so completely lacking in awareness, self- or otherwise, as to even begin to entertain the idea that maybe what Watson did was wrong to many people. Not to agree with them, but be able to see "Okay, yes, given what you're saying, I can see why you think that. I disagree, but I understand." I can, although it's a bit difficult, see where folks don't agree with my opinion on Watson's behavior. I disagree with them, but I understand where they are coming from.

What if you blog FROM a Mongonian War-Zeppelin?

Welch-- In fairness to Watson, the audience she started with was not the audience she finished with. Numerous students who attended the conference have contacted me with their version of events, and they are 'not pleased' with Watsons behavior. I think McGraw would have been given some slack if she walked up to the mic in the Q&A and flipped Watson off.

Hard to know while you're in the thick of it; it's not like you're going to poll the audience before stepping up to a mic. ;-)

Not to mention people objecting to unreasonable jerkassery don't usually want to respond in kind. You tend to want to respond conscientiously, even if the reverse hasn't been done to you.

By Joe Fatzen (not verified) on 05 Jul 2011 #permalink

C0nc0rdance, I must say that I'm disappointed in hearing you say this. You see, I had thought you were something or another and because I and others agreed that you should be what I thought you were, imagine my shock when you turned out not to be who I demanded you to be.

Sorry, he is not an elder statesman. He's a man who has thoughts, opinions and views on things, and is amenable to discussion that will convince him to his satisfaction that he's wrong. He's said he'll even apologize publicly if someone can make him understand the issue.

Claiming he owes you anything because of what you demand he's supposed to be doesn't actually burden him in the slightest. Or if it does, how large of a following does it take before we get to vote on what you're allowed to think, say, feel and do that actually obliges you to think, say, feel or do as we tell you're supposed to do?

Goddamned Richard Dawkins. He's just so fucking stupid as to not accede to a bunch of nattering about how he's not a humanist, he's anti-woman, a rapist-in-waiting and other things. He asked for a calm, reasonable explanation to convince him. You whined about it with a guilt trip.

Yes, Jennifer McCreight called him on 'it'. Also in calling him on it, she's pressed into service all convenient minorities she could get away with using: we faggots, those niggers, and kykes, and even some cunts. I'm glad this is what you find an appropriate way to make a point. I'm glad that the oppression I actually deal with makes for a good point to guilt a man into accepting a point that hasn't been cogently made by anyone yet. If we little old minorities can be any further use by firming up our necks to get her better footing while taking on The Man, just let me know. You know we fags love the gym anyway.

An egregious error, like actual human rights violations?, deserves the proportional response of a public apology on a website. One of us doesn't seem to appreciate the gravity of "egregious" with respect to what he's been accused of through RW, Jen, PZ et al. An apology on a website doesn't seem to fit with "egregious". I think we should publicly flog him on the way to the Hague. That might make some people almost satisfied.

With all the calls to "put this behind us", I wonder why? Might'nt it be better not to? i mean, let's talk the shit out of it... seriously. I for one have learned much by the diverse opinions, and am hoping for someone (erv, pz?) to do a compare/contrast piece between accommodating sensitivities of women v. accommodating other types of sensitivities...

Tyson Koska:

Well, don't count on PZ to do one. Anything less than complete appeasement is unacceptable. He's going to be so feminist it won't matter who gets trampled in the process. Goddammit, women are going to be equal if it means making everyone else inferior.

If there is a standard of equality that exists, it must, at a minimum, not include the subjugation of one group of people for the advancement of another. It doesn't matter if the group is male, female, gay, straight, black, white, asian, or ninja turtle. The moment you realize the way to help another group advance is to take your foot off their necks is the moment you should realize you haven't been working on equality.

The goal is here to have equal privilege in society; it isn't, such as I understand it, to have distributed oppression. One of those I'll work towards. The other I'll probably die opposing.

Elevator guy is a lark that is being used to excuse inappropriate behavior.

I canât see how the âelevator guyâ can be divorced from the âabuse of platformâ problem, one directly follows the other. Solipsism is neither Feminism nor Scepticism, and if the postulant of the âelevatorâ experience had actually approached her solipsistical postulation with scepticism, she would in consequence have presented a criticism of her own perceptions along with the inherent criticism of the other occupant of the elevator; if she had done this she would have created a context in which a critical and sceptical dialogue could have proceeded with equity.

For any reasoning person who has a conception that humanity consists of 6 billion plus beings, to see supposed sceptics âelevatingâ 4 in the morning failings of social niceties, elevated to the modern equivalent of how many angels can stand on the head of pin, is vomit inducing. What happens in âconferencesâ or âelevatorsâ is irrelelevant to what reasonably must be the current concerns of âfeministsâ, both male and female, which with any sense of priority must focuss on how power and economics impact upon the 2.5 billon women and girls who live lives that mean riding in an elevator or attending a conference are possibilities that are as far removed from them as being able to take a trip into space.

What if you blog FROM a Mongonian War-Zeppelin?

KNEEL BEFORE MING!

I canât see how the âelevator guyâ can be divorced from the âabuse of platformâ problem, one directly follows the other.

It's actually pretty simple. Watson had a bad time in an elevator. Elevator guy's intentions don't really enter into it, she is within her rights to see his actions as she sees them. We don't have to agree with her interpretation, but, we all are allowed to see things our own way.

Stef didn't agree with Watson's take and said so. Could she have said it differently? Maybe, but that's not the larger point. (to be honest, i find a lot of the "skeptic community pretty whiny about this. They bitch about being able to "be blunt" et al, then when they get it back, oh my, they get a bad case of the vapors! Dish it out, take it, etc.)

The forum stef used was a blog. A blog is, in general, a fairly equal forum. You do have moderators, etc, but everyone can comment whenever and from wherever they wish. You do not have to do it in front of a room full of people.

Watson then replies, not on her site, not on unifreethought.com, but from the podium at a session.

There is a clear chain from elevator guy to Watson's dick move, but Elevator guy doesn't justify the dick move, nor does Stef's post. Watson's dick move was her choice. She could have responded to Stef in one of many other ways, she chose one that I, and many others view as a dick move, (or any other pejorative for it. The specific term used is immaterial).

it is just that simple. Watson is responsible for her behavior in this case, and it seems obvious that she, and her supporters, are doing whatever they can to avoid that.

Someone on the Friendly Atheist site made a remark that, I think, answers the underlying problem with this whole debate. As far as I can see it most of the men that state "EG was wrong to make a pass in the elevator, it was the wrong place and bound to creep her out and RW was fine to point that out in her video" were still getting called mysogynist pigs. The answer came in the Friendly Atheist post that stated to the effect that the problem here is the refusal of people to realize that making a pass at anyone at such an event is inherently offensive.
If you actually feel that way then it all makes sense. If it is not just unacceptable, but inherently offensive to try to chat up someone at a skeptical or atheist conference (thus sexually objectifying them) then this justifies RW equating Steph McGraws remarks to remarks condoning rape.
That explains why there has been little or no dispute about RW doing anything wrong with her speech - many people actually agree that condoning the acceptance of attempting to chat up other adults at conferences is akin to condoning calls for rape.

If that's actually what the underlying problem is, you can pretty much forget about ever working this one out. Call it quits and separate into several groups.

@ 77 Justicar

I wasn't very impressed with your response. I'd much prefer if you offer your opinions or support your position without the sarcasm and reductio ad absurdum. It's always more productive if we keep our barbs to ourselves, and just address actual issues.

I would like it if Richard Dawkins would respond to criticisms of his comment on Pharyngula. I don't think that's out of line. He has celebrity in this community, whether he likes it or not. Certainly he is an individual, but he's also the public face for atheism, an author of best-selling books, and the namesake of a large public fund for atheism and rationality. His considerable name recognition carries some responsibility to the foundation he represents, the movement that he is a leader in, and the people who respect and admire him.

He's welcome to do, say, or think what he likes, but the consequences will affect more than just him. If I post a video extolling the virtues of XMRV assays as a diagnostic for prostate cancer, people understand that's my personal position. If I am Chair of the Institute of Virology Research, that's a different thing entirely. This is a simple reality for leaders and spokespeople of all kinds.

The principle that Abbie is addressing is very relevant. Someone with the audience of Richard Dawkins (or RW) needs to step much more carefully than someone like me (or McGraw). Posting a scathing and poorly reasoned argument "en clair" as Dawkins did is similar to a keynote speaker attacking small-audience critics by name. I agree it's a relatively minor sin, and so was Rebecca's, but it's still worth the effort to clear the air, address it honestly and frankly.

If they don't... *shrug*. I'll deal with it.

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 05 Jul 2011 #permalink

C0nc0rdance:
Given the amount of thought and emotional appeals you put into your post, I didn't think mine required more effort. But I like you, so I'll oblige.

Dawkins is well-known, and his views quite often overlap with the views of many people in the atheist community. Therefore, he's popular. He's not our leader. If you choose to view him as that, then you're welcome to it. I see him as a thoughtful man who quite often has views I share. When it turns out that his views and mine don't coincide, and I see no reason to think his estimation is superior to mine, I'm not disappointed in him. But I don't need him to be perfect, or to think exactly as I think for me to respect that he's thoughtful, and any incorrect views he has are amenable to modification. And when he's not made to understand in a way that convinces him it's probably not for a lack of effort or concern.

To be disappointed implies some expectation of him to transcend the limitations of which both you and I are also subject. You think he's wrong. He's invited you, or anyone for that matter, to explain it to him calmly without using "fuck" every sentence. I also do not see why he's wrong, so if you have the answer to the question, it would likely solve it for me too. Instead of changing our minds with a crafted argument, of which you're overwhelming capable if one is to be had based on your YT channel, you pack your bags and take us on a guilt trip.

I want a frank, honest discussion. One doesn't seem to be forthcoming. I've asked in each discussion about this why it is that I'm wrong for not immediately thinking "rapist" is a proper stance to have when one is approached without previous, explicit consent. Even if it's a less than ideal place.

Also, some women are asking that question. Some of them rape victims. I did a video on it. It's mostly sardonic, but the point is made. Why is it that there are some female rape victims who are saying they do not feel that way in elevators with men who chat them up? For that matter, why don't I?
I'm at risk for being raped as much as is any randomly selected woman, and yet when a guy approaches me in a hallway, parking lot, or elevator and flirts with me, I am no more concerned that he's my rapist, than a mugger, than a suicide bomber, than a spanger (spare changer), or anything else.

I have no fear of it at all. No discomfort. If I'm not interested, I say as much. If it seems like something that could be fun, I might accept.

So, why then is it that you and your side are arguing that all men must walk around considering themselves rapists so as to "get it"? Or, if not that, then what is it?

Since there are some women who think all men are potential rapists, some who think not, some who are aware that some are but refuse to be governed by cowardice, and some like Rebecca Watson (who would much prefer to lambaste McGraw in a keynote speech than answer a single question about this supposed man one notes), how is a man to know? And then the further question: why is someone's irrational fear an argument that anyone else is required to prostrate themselves before said person?

With respect to Abbie's point. It isn't that someone like Rebecca needs to tread more lightly than you or I. It's that someone who exploits the position of being an invited, keynote speaker needs to consider it. When I'm giving a lecture, I have considerable control over what gets said. People who refuse to get with the program get escorted out of the building by force if necessary. Security at events isn't there for decorative purposes.

Remember the youtube videos of students (oh my!) getting escorted out? And then the guy getting tossed out for saying "and earning profit" when Richard was speaking? Three words, he was taken out by the police if I recall correctly. That's what it means to be The Speaker; you control that time period. Rebecca chose that time to excoriate McGraw for the great crime of writing something unflattering on a blog. The man who actually set off the "creepy" vibe by "cornering" her in an elevator - this person she protects, and will not say anything about. Indeed, she's bragging on facebook right now that she is immune to having to deal with that issue anymore because of PZ. And she's positively loving the attention from it, like, say, publicity is a goal. She calls it a "score". I know, that's cynical.

No one is saying that Rebecca pulled out a knife and stabbed McGraw to death. We're saying she abused her position to silence a critic who she knew damn well simply could not respond. Remember the video of RW on stage with RD? Her issue with a previous panel wasn't appropriate for the Q&A because, apparently, the 30 - 60 second time limit to *ask* a *question* isn't sufficient for her. But she makes the non-argument that it's more than fully sufficient for McGraw to have called her out and refuted her. Yeah, I call bullshit.

Oh, and note: I disagree with you. And I've lost no esteem at all for you. See? That's because I understand that your popularity while related to your work on youtube isn't an immunity to error. I don't make gods out of men and women. Why a man who has said that if he's wrong he's fully willing to be convinced and even apologize for being wrong in the first place loses your respect confuses me. It has to be that you expect freedom from error. Or that RD is lying about changing his mind if convinced. Either that, or the Richard Dawkins you've created in your mind doesn't track with the human being we're discussing - which is a point you found unimpressive earlier I note. It's worth repeating: your failure to see him as a man and nothing more is not his problem.

Or, if it is, at what point of popularity will you substitute what your fans tell you to think and do for what you think to be right and proper? It's not a trivial point. If it's a concession you won't make, it's a dick move to demand Richard Dawkins accept it for having the misfortune of being successful.

There, does that more plainly lay out the issues in a way that doesn't bother you by way of ToneCard?

Anyway, all that stands between success and failure is air, opportunity and a cogent argument.

Your move, my friend.

Is there a link where I can read McGraw's take on the keynote?
(apologies if it's already there and I missed it- there's a lot to wade through)

I see Phil Plait has joined in and has (unsurprisingly) decided to vigorously defend Rebecca's honour. More skeptical opinions are just a clique away. From the bad astronomer:

Rebecca, apparently, handled this situation with aplomb, and Iâm glad. She turned it into a useful lesson for men on how not to treat women.

Yes Phil, and she also gave us an object lesson on how keynote speakers shouldn't treat audience members, although perhaps not quite in the way intended. Although "aplomb" isn't a word I would use to describe the handling of that little fiasco.

That said, bad astronomy has a much less aggressive / arrogant atmosphere than Pharyngula which means interesting points are being made by both sides in the commentary.

PS: John Welch, I agree with your assessment re: assholes vs. Aspergers.

Abbie:

I've been trying to decide how to explain my point of view on this.

I think your inner /b/tard is affecting your judgement on this case.

A certain degree of obliviousness is forgiveable, but once it's gone, the actions it causes need to stop. Now as far as Watson naming names, I'd take a look at who's got her back on this one -- essentially, complaining about tone or the form of message does nothing to address the issue at hand. I mean, look at Slutwalk -- yes, it could have been a silent vigil with people dressed conservatively, with only women showing up, but it would have completely missed the point of the message. Sometimes you have to get in people's faces.

Look, you're a beautiful woman. A very beautiful one. I'm sure you've gone through the kind of crap Watson is complaining about -- being objectified, harrassed, whatever. Bitching Watson out because you don't like the way she delivered a message that you apparently agreed with shows a bit of a tin ear for others who've gone through the same problem. Remember, not everyone reacts the same way to such things and you can't expect someone to shrug it off just because you can.

I've been a fan of this blog for a few years now, and I probably will be for some time to come. But you're only shooting yourself in the foot here.

Gee, Brianx. That's nice of you to note that she's beautiful. How does she manage to make it through life? It's called not playing the victim card and taking ownership of one's life. It's also a little something I like to call a "good example" of another concept I'm going to call "smart decisions".

You know why? Because Abbie apparently managed somehow against all of the odds, contrary to having a vagina and being attractive to assess the realities of life and deal with it head-on. I'm so proud of her - atta girl, Abbie.

Yes, Abbie, can you explain where would you manage to summon up the strength to deal with and shrug off being invited to coffee by a "man" in an elevator?

Oh, never mind. I'm going to magically guess:
"Watson did not confront her male proposition-er, nor did she 'NAME NAMES!'. Personally, I would have said "Dude, did you hear my speech today? Cause you are being super creepy. LOL. Peace out, Dude, Im going to sleep." I wouldnt trundle off to bed and write a post about it in the safe shelter of my blag. But fine, I recognize that not everyone has my self confidence and quick wit (DUDE!)."

I bet if Abbie were smart, she'd probably take self-defense lessons too. It's just a guess.

Justicar:

What, fleeing from the Pharyngula beatdown?

Normally I would see no reason to point Abbie's looks out, but it's an attempt to illustrate *why* this is a women's issue. If the entire thing was a mountain out of a molehill, it would be completely irrelevant. However, look at Laci Green -- same deal. Sometimes it seems like she can't win -- people complain about her being attractive and busty, even though it really has no bearing on what she has to say. It's not right, but as long as people are ignoring that it does in fact happen, the problem is not going away.

And for the record, I think Abbie is a generally awesome person, and I thought that before I ever saw a picture of her.

Now as far as Watson naming names, I'd take a look at who's got her back on this one...
Lets do just that.

Who is on her 'side'? People who were not present.

Who is on my 'side'? The students who were actually present in the audience.

An ultimate positive out of this-- all the emails Ive gotten from student atheist groups lately, who didnt know I existed five days ago.

Bitching Watson out because you don't like the way she delivered a message that you apparently agreed with shows a bit of a tin ear for others who've gone through the same problem.
Elevator guy asked her for coffee. She declined. They parted ways. Sure, his choice of venue was a poor decision, and if he were a guy friend relating this story to me, I would slap him upside the head with a "Really? She turned you down? NO WAY! **SLAP!!** THINK MCFLY!"

There was a guy I met in college. He wasnt creepy-- tall, cute, could hold a conversation. He didnt corner me in an elevator. He didnt ask me for coffee. He didnt ask me for sex. Unlike Elevator Guy, he didnt ask me anything. He just dropped some drugs in my one drink for the night, and was planning on raping me while I was unconscious. But it didnt happen because apparently The Virgin Mother, Thor, and an unnamed Cherokee deity were watching over me that night. But that one night at the beginning of my freshman year of college totally changed my life.

There was this other guy-- about this time last summer he said 'Good morning' to me, and I said 'Good morning' right back. This apparently meant that I was into him, and he asked me out. I said 'No'. Unlike Elevator Guy, he didnt take 'No' for an answer. The next >6 months were a living hell. I have always done some kind of martial art, but it was just fun. Kids games. Exercise. Suddenly, it became a life-or-death reality. I had a professional fighter beat the shit out of me, just to know I could take it. He also physically prepared me to kill another human. That wasnt really the problem. I also had to mentally prepare myself. Someone who doesnt do animal research because 'I cant'. Someone who eats meat once every two weeks for health reason, but otherwise hates it. Someone who is a life-long atheist and believes that death is The It for all of us. I had to prepare myself and forgive myself for killing another human, in advance, so I could do it to save my own life if I needed to. Have you ever been that afraid? Saying 'Good morning' to the wrong person changed my life.

Meanwhile: Elevator Guy asked. Elevator Guy took 'No' for an answer. He fucked up the location, but otherwise, he did things right.

I dont agree with Watson.

But my voice doesnt matter to Real Feminists.

Now as far as Watson naming names, I'd take a look at who's got her back on this one

Argument from authority? Really?

It's not right, but as long as people are ignoring that it does in fact happen, the problem is not going away.

Apparently, not everyone agrees that the elevator incident and/or Stef's disagreement were good examples of "it" happening.

ERV:

Well, that's obviously quite a bit worse than Rebecca's situation, but it isn't a binary situation. Just because you've dealt with something as bad as those rapey shitbags doesn't mean Rebecca's situation might not have been intimidating enough in its own right. I mean, just because I once knew a kid who was severely autistic doesn't mean my Asperger's syndrome is any less crippling for me.

*shrug* Getting a sense of perspective does not mean belittling real problems because they aren't as severe as the worst case scenario.

Well, that's obviously quite a bit worse than Rebecca's situation, but it isn't a binary situation. Just because you've dealt with something as bad as those rapey shitbags doesn't mean Rebecca's situation might not have been intimidating enough in its own right. I mean, just because I once knew a kid who was severely autistic doesn't mean my Asperger's syndrome is any less crippling for me.

*shrug* Getting a sense of perspective does not mean belittling real problems because they aren't as severe as the worst case scenario.

Can these people not see the hypocrisy in their arguments? Yes just because Rebecca was creeped out by a guy in the elevator doesn't mean that others can't criticize her for her unprofessionalism as a speaker and abuse of power to launch a personal attack on an attendee.

Getting a sense of perspective does not mean belittling real problems because they aren't as severe as others. Durr.

By Cheng Vang (not verified) on 05 Jul 2011 #permalink

I've never asked a girl for sex (directly or indirectly) in an elevator at any hour much less at 4am and I don't have any friends who would do so. If I heard about a friend acting that way, I would give serious consideration to modifying the friendship if not terminating it.
Having said all that though, I wonder, do any of the RW people believe that EG should go to jail for his actions? If not, why the level of emotion? "Wrongs" are relative; everything about our criminal law is based on that concept and I don't think anyone is suggesting that it change. So what's the appropriate penalty for EG? And does it allow room for harsher penalties for worse crimes?

And being a rational community, shouldn't our collective response be related to relative wrongness?

Brianx:
Did you just accuse me of running away from a closed thread where it's literally not possible to write in? Yeah, I'm a fucking coward!!!!! lolololol

Abbie, I wish there were a way I could tweet your last comment here. I wish there were a way I could tell more people to read your thoughts. I wish there were a way that reflective people interested in issues beyond "hey! look at me!" were made more prominent.

Alas, all I can do is read your blog and write (hopefully) an occasionally not entirely useless comment.

I haven't seen a picture of Abbie (that I know of anyway). I don't need or want to. It's not relevant to me what she looks like. She writes like the kind of person who wakes up each day and tries to make her life what she wants it to be, learn about the universe, help others learn about it, and to treat people with the respect they deserve. That I have to type an "s" in front of "he" to get the right pronoun is immaterial to me because race and gender should not be features that are at all considered in evaluating someone's capacity. Bleh, I'm starting to get kumbaya up in this motherfucker.

No, trauma and oppression aren't binary conditions. But the supposed elevator guy did what I consider to be the right thing: he took no for an answer and left it there. Not no means maybe. Not no means let's negotiate. No ended it. I fail to see what other outcome is even equal, let alone superior to that one. I have asked. Including on pharyngula. The answer I've gotten is Schroedinger's Rapist. Well, if that's a valid chain of reasoning then so too is Schroedinger's Fake Rape Victim, which I've made a video on. As well as others. None of them should be taken seriously because I quite frankly think that to give them the courtesy of a reasoned video pretends that the argument has merit. An emotional ploy to exploit people into thinking they should devalue their own existence is not convincing to me. The idea of equality is to pull everyone up to a shared and common equal status. It's not to have a roughly distributed system of situational oppression and self-loathing.

Or, if it is, then the system you're talking about is repugnant to me. If one has to devalue other people to achieve success in equality, one hasn't thought through the problem hard enough or carefully enough. Simply put, it's student work and it's not fucking good enough. Go back and work harder or you must fail this class.

I've been told that all that matters is how a random woman might potentially feel. Sorry, I fail to see how that is a good enough argument that half of the human race is somehow required to do anything. Can I demand certain graces of etiquette from society if I'm just having an emotionally taxing day? Can I just point at random women and accuse them of falsely claiming rape because it's possible one of them might?

If I'm in an elevator with a Rebecca Watson, am I required to leave? After all, she's already uncomfortable just because I'm male and present. Pharyngula is good on identifying perceived problems that I just don't understand. What isn't happening is a non-ridiculous solution to these supposed problems.

So, all that stands between you and my assent to your claim is air, opportunity and a good, cogent reason.

My email is differentialmath@gmail.com if you don't want to have a public pissing contest, but actually want to state a case that will force me to assent to the proposition. You see, that's how good arguments go. Why does no one doubt that Earth revolves around the sun anymore? Because the sheer weight of the reasons to think it does indeed do it is so overwhelming that it is nearly impossible not to accept that it must be the case.

And the benefit of it is that you can make your point without distraction of the groupthink and mob mentality that you seem to think scares me off. And you can be as thoughtful and take as long to compose the argument as you like - no pressure at all from the comments going back and forth saying "what now, bitch?"

So, if you want to explain it to me and convince me that your ethic here is superior to my ethic, you have the option. If you want to be a comment-hero on a blog, you'll do much better back on pharyngula where justifying a conclusion is more important than developing a chain of reasoning.

You decide.

Regards,
Johnathan

Can these people not see the hypocrisy in their arguments? Yes just because Rebecca was creeped out by a guy in the elevator doesn't mean that others can't criticize her for her unprofessionalism as a speaker and abuse of power to launch a personal attack on an attendee.

I'm beginning to think that within the "skeptic" community, you're pretty much not "allowed" to criticize her at all.

Justicar:

Rebecca does not have a problem with men that I'm aware of. Her problem -- quite explicitly -- is with people who make unwanted, overtly sexual comments in tight spaces where the "audience" can't shut it off. As I mentioned above, I'm Aspie. Not very severely, but enough to cause trouble. When I talk about this sort of thing as intimidation, it's because I know what the fuck I'm talking about, because I have trouble knowing where the lines are. I could say something that I intend completely innocently that turns out to creep out the woman I'm trying to talk to, but given that I know I'm socially deficient, I can't really blame her for being offended or weirded out. (Given that my sense of humor tends to lean very dark, it would come with the territory even if I wasn't socially challenged. The fact that I'm a little myopic when it comes to boundaries means I really can't take it personally, because I can't expect someone to know what's going on underneath when all the woman in question sees is some scraggly weirdo spouting dead baby nonsequiturs.)

And no, I don't care to take this private. That would serve no purpose whatsoever.

I'm also a mostly-reformed Nice Guy(tm), so I'm pretty up on that particular brand of shallow, manipulative bullshit.

I'm beginning to think that within the "skeptic" community, you're pretty much not "allowed" to criticize her at all.

People are honestly shouting because some people are questioning the elevator guy event. Isn't skepticism supposed to be, well, being skeptical? Any anecdotal story I hear I take it with a grain of salt. But apparently you're not supposed to be skeptical here! No, if you don't take this as pure hard empirical evidence you're a misogynist!

RW defenders are trying too hard to defend her. PZ is going on about naming names when that isn't the case, which he follows up with a how to get laid FAQ of what he considers to be a decent human being and even going as far as to claim what type of people "we" want at conferences and not (the first time that I could not stomach to read a Pharyngula post). Greg's apologetics is that blogging is the same if not bigger platform than a stage and derailing back to elevator guy. Jen is saying that what Stef said is "fucking stupid". Which in my opinion is just an overreaction due to biasness. Stef isn't a creationist, if you are an instructor and Stef asked you something totally wrong, you can talk it out with her. She may or may not change her mind, she isn't Ken Ham. You don't need to take that chance and yell at her "that is fucking stupid" or "you misogynist!". Can a student learn that way from humiliation or vicious outing? Sure. But that is not the best way, your student is not a creationist who won't change his/her mind.

Just because you can teach by coming to lecture and flipping through power point slides for the whole hour, doesn't mean that you should, especially when you are trying to build a community. Just because you can shout, scream, cuss, and call people stupid doesn't mean you should take every fucking chance to use it. Not everyone is a creationist, antivaxer, or global warming denialist.

By Cheng Vang (not verified) on 05 Jul 2011 #permalink

People are honestly shouting because some people are questioning the elevator guy event. Isn't skepticism supposed to be, well, being skeptical? Any anecdotal story I hear I take it with a grain of salt. But apparently you're not supposed to be skeptical here! No, if you don't take this as pure hard empirical evidence you're a misogynist!

All the noise also makes it difficult for privileged male outsiders like me to even find the rational arguments (there are a few) without spending several hours sifting through endless vitriol. This was a teachable moment, and it's been mostly wasted.

Brianx:
I see you've decided to decline the offer to make a rational, cogent argument. I am unsurprised.

Note: anecdotes do not an argument make.

Wow, brianx, wow.

That was the most profound argument just presented by justicar and your response is "I don't play games with idiots."

I don't want to sound cruel to all aspies but maybe your condition is much more of a mental retardation in your case.
That or, maybe all the TRUE FEMINISTS are really just FEMINAZIS.

LOL, hey-- Hey you guys? Remember this time last year when everyone was freaking out over Pepsi?

Yes. It's unfortunate you didn't have this kind of clarity back then when you were alleging that the conflict-of-interest concerns people raised were something your personal experience with occasionally consuming Pepsi products and still being healthy was relevant to.

And I agree that using the privileged position of being a speaker, with an essentially one-way communication with an audience captive at least to the extent social pressure is binding, to rehash a personal dispute is inappropriate, on not-entirely-unrelated grounds. I haven't seen videos of the talk and I can't determine to what extent Rebecca* did that, but if she did, it was inappropriate...with no bearing on her original complaint, the rest of the discussion, or her status as a person. I don't think that affects the broader issues here and I think it's unfortunate that it's received so much focus.

*We've eaten as the same table so I feel justified in using the familiar form. I intend it complimentarily. >.>

Wow, brianx, wow.

That was the most profound argument just presented by justicar and your response is "I don't play games with idiots."

Blatant attempts at gerrymandering what is and is not "acceptable evidence" or "valid rhetoric" is profound now?

Blatant attempts at gerrymandering what is and is not "acceptable evidence" or "valid rhetoric" is profound now?

Are those direct quotes? I can't find what you are referring to in this thread.

I don't think that affects the broader issues here and I think it's unfortunate that it's received so much focus.

Look people, can we stop pointing out that Rebecca Watson fails to meet the expectations of empathy for others that she places on the rest of the world? The cognitive dissonance this causes to Azkyroth is too much to bear. If we could all just stop talking about it, that would be great. Thanks. /sarc

I don't want to sound cruel to all aspies but maybe your condition is much more of a mental retardation in your case.
That or, maybe all the TRUE FEMINISTS are really just FEMINAZIS.

Not cool, dude. Not. Cool.

From BrianX:

What, fleeing from the Pharyngula beatdown?

Followed by:

I don't play that game with idiots. Have fun fuming.

Irony can be a cruel, cruel mistress, can't she?

"ANYONE who used even a second of podium-time for an off-topic attack on someone would be persona non grata forever."

What about an on-topic attack on someone?

"And if you're putting your ideas out there publicly (like Stef did), you do so with the knowledge that people can call you out."

And like Rebecca did.

Which Stef called her out on.

And so on through the whole sorry saga.

The problem IS NOT (IMO) what EG did. The PROBLEM is that we currently have a society where some women will feel scared in that situation. And note: "creeped out" is not the same as "scared".

And that's not a problem with atheist blogging, it's a problem full stop in our society ever since, roughly, 2500 years ago, before which women being the power was more the norm (the mysteries included childbirth, an act of almost god-like creation that is something only a woman can do. Smacking someone's head open is better done by the more robust male, but women can do fairly well at it too).

What EG did: a non-bad.

That women still have to worry for their safety: a bad.

"She's Uncomfortable ALWAYS devolves into a shitstorm of screaming and/or disregard and/or rape apologetics"

Jen, if you're uncomfortable, that isn't rape. Being worried you're going to be raped isn't rape. Rape is not the issue.

Therefore defending the non-rape event isn't rape apologising. But continuing to recant any opposition into rape enabling or apologising behaviour is DEFINITELY going to get you discounted as a nutcase.

"He has to have some sexist sentiment for it to be sexist. He has to be utilising his privilege to put himself above the woman (you know, like Watson abused her privilege?)"

I think that it would be myscoginy if the "shut up" meant "shut up, you're supposed to only like being hit on by men".

Greg, PZ and other supporters of RW hear the latter whenever EG, Stef, RD or others are defended.

The problem is they "KNOW" (in an almost xian fundie way) that what is meant by any less than wholehearted support of RW is a "shut up and make me a sammich".

Why? Maybe a need to be "right on".

A wee story: A girl friend told me and others about how when she watched "The Accused" (IIRC, Jodie foster movie as a lawyer) and how one of the men said he felt ashamed.

My first thought was "Why? Did he get a boner at the rape scene?". Second one was "Nah, he just wants to be 'Right on' and 'Cool with the ladies equality thing'".

The disappointing thing was she'd not wondered why he felt ashamed.

That part would make sense, Wow.

I always get that faintly religious vibe (and I really don't mean this in an inflammatory way, but I'm aware that's how it comes across, but don't worry, I don't care enough to not make the comparison) whenever someone starts telling me that I just don't get it, and that I have to try harder to see something (like the apparently inherent misogyny in 'shut-up', bearing in mind that he was accusing one women of telling another to shut up and then saying that is a misogynistic attack, I was trying to tackle the strongest version of the sentiment).

Or the Emperor's Clothes. "I know it's hard to see the Emperor's Clothes, it's always difficult to see part one's own prejudices".

I bloody well can if you make the argument, but it has not been made, nor is it when the religious tell me I just have to search harder for God, I'll know Him when I see it.

I want to hear arguments. Good solid arguments.

Schroedinger's Rapist much like Schroedinger's Racist is simple guilt by association. You have the right to feel what you feel and suspect what you suspect, but there's only so much you can demand of potential (that is to say people who aren't) rapists or racists.

For example, Schroedinger's Mugger is justification enough for me to feel uncomfortable and note fast exists, it is not justification enough for me to demand that people wearing tracksuits who have done nothing wrong have to have their hands in plain sight, and can't wear hooded tops.

" "That or, maybe all the TRUE FEMINISTS are really just FEMINAZIS."

Not cool, dude. Not. Cool. "

Spencer, that would be cool except for a post from Jen late on in the other RW thread here where Jen absolutely 100% clearly in black and white that ERV was a sex traitor.

Then, rather than being not cool, it's just an over-reaching over-broad broad brush. I.e. just because Jen 100% acted EXACTLY LIKE the caricature of a feminazi doesn't mean everyone supporting RW is one.

Re: Peter, it seems to be the mindset problem. Any attempt to not elevate a woman's concern MUST be an attempt to disregard all concerns women have.

Just like to a fundian any attempt to disprove god is an attempt to invite satan into the world.

PS as a short bloke, can I demand that anyone bigger than me doesn't walk down a dark street that I'm walking down. It creeps me out and makes me worried I'm going to get mugged or worse.

@108:
Blatant attempts at gerrymandering what is and is not "acceptable evidence" or "valid rhetoric" is profound now?

My definition is fairly common in answering the question "what is evidence".

Be a dick, arrogant, abusive, condescending and you'll survive perfectly fine in literature so long as you're punctilious in your work and reports of findings. Cut a corner, cheat just a little, misrepresent the strength of a claim, conclude further than your data ethically lets you and you're finished. Only hacks and quacks will publish what you say.

I see no reason why I should demand less of someone claiming that half of the human species is obligated to think themselves rapists, oppressive and misogynistic when a given person is none of those things. All for the sake of someone else's choosing not to deal with reality on all fours? No, you have a high burden; guilt tripping me will not do.

I have a post up about it, and an invitation to be convinced on my newly created blog. If you know someone who has The One Truth for good reasons, send them my way. If I am actually wrong, that's something I'd want to know so that I can improve myself.

But I get the feeling that most people would rather be comment-heroes on blogs than actually work on solving important interests which bear on our most deeply important understanding of living the good, ethical life.

But, hey, why participate in solving human problems and improving our living conditions when you can bitch about it online?

Windy and Spence:
Thank you for noting that those "quotes" bore no relation to what I wrote, and seeing what happens when they're invited to put up or shut up. Of course, they needn't shut up - there's comedic gold in these people I tell you.

I don't want to weigh on this specific "event" because I don't really care or get it- but can anyone explain why Rebecca is a prominent skeptic and on great podcasts like skpetics guide to the universe? She has no science background, a TTT communications degree and literally has zero knowledge of substantive scientific matters. Her public persona is based on no professional accomplishments- merely the platform that skeptics guide to the universe has provided her. She repeats, often without elegance or nuance, the conclusions of certain experts ad nauseum and calls it skepticism. Granted, we cannot be experts in every field and should defer to experts when we have reason to, but it seems like she doesn't even try. In method, I don't see how she is much different from her intellectual opponents (religion, pseudoscience, quackery).

I also can not stand how she readily mixes her politics with science- as if politics are scientific in nature and those with diverging opinions are engaged in pseudoscience. Her BFF, PZ (someone I actually kinda like), seems to largely agree and plays the same game. Those of us with different views are alienated.

Am I way off-base?

By Agent Smith (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

LOL

Skeptichick comments are subject to approval. So, needless to say, they are having a circlejerk over there.

Some other fundies I know use the same tactic...

BTW, something curious, misandry isn't recognized by spell checker like misogyny is... Seems like being a male simply isn't politically correct.

Schrodinger's Rapist argument is very unconvincing. Let's just keep Schrodinger for his cat, OK? I don't really see why they would hijack his name for such a purpose anyways, it's not like rapists are a quantized phenomenon. They would like to think so though, because to them its a simple black or white issue; you are either in lock step with them or a raving misogynist.

Wait... fundies tend to be incapable of understanding nuance as well...

My irony meter is exploding right now... It truly is a sad day for the skeptical community, but not for reasons the feminazis suggest.

Feminism is supposed to be about equality but now it seems like they just want to kick males to the back of the bus. WTF happened?

They are not feminists. They are misandrists.

Agent Smith:
I don't know that skeptics guide is prominent. I was completely unaware of Rebecca Watson until about two weeks ago. Reviewing her contributions to the universe I can see how I've managed to not know of her for so long.

How does she get on it? Well, when you found an organization, you kind of get to participate.

Haven't I read this comment elsewhere before now?

Phyraxus,

They are not equality feminists, that aim for full civil and legal equality for women. Instead, the folks over at skepchick seem to ascribe to type of gender feminism that advocates preferential treatment for women, viewing men and women as different classes and portraying all women as victims. The rhetoric (sexual objectification, male power, etc) is right out of the deconstructionist and marxist vocabulary. In fact the whole worldview is class-based, with marxism's concept of perpetual conflict between working-class proletariat and capitalist Bourgeoisie has been replaced with feminist theory that posits perpetual exploitation of women by men, or by a patriarchal power structure. See Christina Hoff Sommers "Who Stole Feminism".

They are "skeptics" yet use the language of a clearly pseudo-scientific ideology. None of these concepts are backed up by empirical research, merely the communications and sociological echo-chamber. Another display that Rebecca doesn't understand philosophy of science or scientific methodology, she sees science as a mere tool of her ideological convictions.

I am just suggesting, like Prometheus, that as part of the scientific skeptical movement, I would prefer scientists or those with professional accomplishments speaking on my behalf. Not folks like Rebecca that are merely notable as youtube loudmouths and internet ideologues.

By Agent Smith (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

"ANYONE who used even a second of podium-time for an off-topic attack on someone would be persona non grata forever."

What about an on-topic attack on someone?

Given the conference and how it's set up, it is extremely unlikely that would happen. Not from any moral superiority silliness, but it's just not designed that way. All conference proposals are vetted before the applicant gets to be a speaker. All decks must be submitted beforehand. I'm not saying it COULDN'T happen, but given the folks I work with on Mac IT, i'd be pretty damned surprised if it did.

It's just not considered appropriate. We even get weird about attacks on products. In the context of "Product A being a better choice because of (reasons) than product B" or a serious comparison of them, that's okay. Something along the lines of "Product A sucks"? Not so much.

The process itself filters that out, because it's just not something we want in the talks.

Welch-- I also have experience regarding that. When I was asked to speak at the TX Freethought convention, it was during the 'dont be a dick' fiasco. I thought I was going to talk about that. But upon further *reflection* (see this post), I decided that would be stupid, and I said as much in my intro. Aint nobody want to sit there and listen to internet drama and he-said-she-said crap. So I talked about endogenous retroviruses, and people learned something. Yay!

You are damn right, Tom.

In RW's first paragraph in the post titled the privilege delusion, she puts words in Dawkins' mouth. He wasn't even really speaking to her but to the raving misandrists at PZ's blog. Others argue that he was saying that there are REALLY bad things, so that means we can't argue against little bad things. I disagree. He was trying to provide some perspective. That her PERCIEVED slight wasn't really a slight at all, and all of them screaming rape is demeaning to ACTUAL rape victims. But she says his argument disregards rape victims (probably because he used the oppression of Muslim women as an example). WTF? FO REELZ?

But at any rate, she disregards his point of view or argument out of hand simply because he happened to be born white, heterosexual, wealthy, and male. And they all cheer her on...

Imagine a black guy had said it instead of Dawkins. Her argument would be, "Oh, well your just a black man and ignorant," then thunderous applause...

Really... these "feminists" just don't "get it"

"The rhetoric (sexual objectification, male power, etc) is right out of the deconstructionist and marxist vocabulary."

I'm afraid you're putting in your own requirement of political rhetoric there.

The rhetoric of sexual objectification, male power, etc is purely the rhetoric of those wanting to claim victimhood.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Marxists use it to show how the proles are being victimised.
Capitalists use it to show how the government are strangling them.
Feminists use it to show how men are all bastards.
Myscoginists use it to show how women are all harridans.

It's purely the appropriation of harm so that the one taking on the pain is painted as a heroic martyr as opposed to even partly responsible.

And personally this non-event isn't damaging "skepticism", it's just damaging the viewed persona of some people prominent in one or more of the multitudinous avenues skeptics have an interest and opinion in.

This is no more about skepticism than a discussion with the Archbishop of Cantebury on whether "Constantine" is allowed in Scrabble that has both parties going 'tis/'tisn't is about the Church of England.

"In RW's first paragraph in the post titled the privilege delusion, she puts words in Dawkins' mouth."

Worse, Greg put a title up about how RD had a solution to women about to get raped. Except it wasn't. RD had an idea for women who were uncomfortable in a lift with a man: Get out.

"Really... these "feminists" just don't "get it""

I don't think it's as much to do with feminism as an overzealous desire to make women safe.

What I believe got RW's knickers in a twist and made Steff the target to attack was not the stance against what was said, but that Steff was that her comment removed the victim martyrdom from RW.

Being made a victim is fine, but telling her she's not a victim! TERRIBLE!

Welch-- I also have experience regarding that. When I was asked to speak at the TX Freethought convention, it was during the 'dont be a dick' fiasco. I thought I was going to talk about that. But upon further *reflection* (see this post), I decided that would be stupid, and I said as much in my intro. Aint nobody want to sit there and listen to internet drama and he-said-she-said crap. So I talked about endogenous retroviruses, and people learned something. Yay!

Preeeeee-CISEly.

Oh, if you find yourself doing something really technical and cool with a Mac, and want to talk about THAT in public some time, I know a guy who could help :-P

(actually, we're about to put out the Mac IT call for papers, and if you don't mind, when we do, could I forward the link to you so you could forward it on to any folks you know that might be interested in speaking? We're changing the format a lot, so folks who might have felt they shouldn't try to submit before should definitely try now, and I would love to get more new people in. I already told my compatriots that I'll not speak if it means a slot for someone who's good and new.)

"What I believe got RW's knickers in a twist and made Steff the target to attack was not the stance against what was said, but that Steff was that her comment removed the victim martyrdom from RW."

Which is exactly why Abbie's Vagina ID Card has been revoked on the grounds that she is a Gender Traitor.

Thank you Abbie, you are the light of reason in these dark times.

I was wondering about the vagina licensure process. I was under the impression that transactions in that field are heavily regulated. I digress.

There's an "open" letter to Dawkins from some rape victims demanding justice for his oppression of women. I say open because there's a lovely little clause at the end:
"Comments here will be moderated as I see fit. Do not even think of trying to mansplain this to me."

Check it out: http://membracid.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/a-letter-to-richard-dawkins-f…

I commended them on their bravery for participating in a public discussion by stating outright that anyone whom they don't consider sufficiently worthy will be silenced. Why it's hard for me to take them seriously is a complete mystery. You will hear me! But you may not speak unless you agree! Assholes.

That stupid rapist argument (I'm not going to tarnish Schrodinger's name by association to it) is REALLY fucking stupid. Seriously, just because every male MIGHT be a rapist doesn't mean they should be treated as such. Just like every female MIGHT be a cum-bucket, money-grubbing bitch doesn't mean they should be treated as such. When a beautiful female comes my way, I don't clutch my money under the assumption that she is trying to take it so she doesn't need to get an education for a well-paying career.

@ Phyraxus - YES!

By Michaerl H Anderson (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

Phyraxus-- Dont stop and gender. What about black people. They make everybody nervous in elevators. Never know when they gonna pop a cap in your ass for your Nikes. And the Jews, always commin after your gold. Irish and their infatuation with lucky charms.

Irish do NOT have the right to make me feel nervous in elevators.

At the risk of sounding sexist or objectifying you Abbie, I think you are beautiful in more ways than one :)

@Abbie:
Hey, did you watch that video I did on that very topic?! You must have because I thought it was impossible for anyone else to figure out the problem!

Leave the Irish alone; they're no threat if history is any indication.

"Leave the Irish alone; they're no threat if history is any indication."

Except to gays at St Paddy's Day, for example.

ANYway, I have to say ERV, I agree with the original post to some extent, but I've got a lot of sympathy for RW, in that I can be somewhat strident in calling someone out publicly (well, as public as my personal facebook status is, anyway) and I've had a few shitstorms to weather because of it. I think that RW is right in that hitting on someone in an elevator of a hotel at 4am isn't a great idea. I think that stef did engage in some apologetics for male privilage in her response. I wasn't at the conference and haven't seen videos yet of it, so I can't say if RW calling Stef out was fair or not. I'm ready to believe it was shocking to Stef, and I could be persuaded that RW should not have included that in her talk (haven't been persuaded yet). I think if you publish something on the net or say something in a public space (and this goes toward both), you're taking your chances that someone will take what you said and use it, probably in a way you don't like.

What's funny is that these sort of things tend to bring in ALL the crazy, so reading threads here and elsewhere is like a crashcourse in in idiocy and the responses to idiocy, so it makes for some great reading!

By Quietmarc (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

Don't forget about Schrodinger's Terrorist. You never know when a brown person in a turban is planning to blow up your plane.

Hi. New here. Just a lurker chiming in.

It's been quite interesting observing this controvery from afar. I'm an atheist/skeptic myserlf, but it's controversies like this that reinforce my ambivalence to be associated with any kind of atheist/skeptic identity or movement. Being an atheist says very little about someone's values and attitudes, really. Atheists profoundly disagree on a variety of social and political issues -- femimism being one of them (i.e. liberal vs. radical feminism).

Having said that, here's my view on some of the controversy. I agree that the elevator guys's behaviour was a bit uncouth and inappropriate. I think it's best to be a gentleman (i.e. "don't be creepy"). However, I don't buy the radical feminist interpretations of the experience or that men should go out of their way to change their behaviour because they might be seen as "Schrodinger's Rapist". Greg Laden suggested that late at night, men should cross to the other side of the street to avoid passing an unaccompanied woman to avoid alarming her (and perhaps avoid getting into elevators with her as well). I just find that absolutely absurd. Apparently, it's possible to be "creepy" or a "misoygnist" if I'm just minding my own business, according to radical feminists. Grania Spingies nailed it, on Miranda's blog:
http://mirandaceleste.net/2011/07/03/feminists-can-be-bullies-too/#comm…

"In particular, one that made me want to either throw up or face-palm so violently that I lost consciousness, was the idea that the sensitive, feminist-aware male should cross over to the opposite side of the street, on spotting an unaccompanied woman so as not to alarm, intimidate or upset the lone female.

Seriously, this is the epitome of a 100 years of feminism? Treating women like helpless, infantile victims?

Thanks, but no thanks. I expect men to treat me like an equal, not like a half-witted invalid.

I'm also turned off by the crazy "gender traitor" rhetoric. That's the hallmark of a sanctimonious zealot who condemns any woman who dares to disagree with her narrow definition of True Feminismâ¢. It smacks of a religious fundamentalist condemning heretics or perhaps a Stalinist condemning anyone who objects to his/her narrow definition socialism. Apparently, feminism has its dogmatists and idealogues too.

Well, after whining about Phyraxus upthread, I couldn't agree more with comment #126, which is spot on IMHO.

I note PZ Myers has put another thread up and refused to discuss things by closing comments immediately (dissenting voices not welcome... his blog, his rules, but the decision speaks volumes). PZ then goes ahead and blames evil male bozos not only for upsetting Rebecca Watson, but also for her becoming an "angry feminist". You heard it right, not only is she a victim of POTENTIAL RAPE, she is also a victim in that everything she does is shaped by evil men putting her up to things, which I suppose is meant to be PZ's way of justifying of her bullying antics. She has to bully other women, because nasty men put her up to it.

Now that we know Rebecca has no free will of her own and her entire being is merely shaped by and male privilege apologists, and gender traitors, apparently, can we have her speaker's fees? Just askin'.

Good points being made both here and at BA about assuming the worst of people. It is an elementary statistics fail not dissimilar to Pascal's wager, and it is amusing seeing so many "skeptics" fall for it. They ratchet the worst case scenario to being infinite (which is now rape and murder combined on BA) and ignore both the miniscule probability and the negative cost associated with the action required to avoid said risk - the sterile existence that such action would create. Not only would we be avoiding blacks, jews, etc., we wouldn't even cross the road to avoid becoming a potential road accident casualty, or ever eat anything tasty in case of becoming a potential food poisoning victim. The whole game is stupid.

Interesting that Mrs BA is weighing in on this and promoting the potential rapist scenario as well. I guess she wants to defend hubby, which I can understand. Of course, in playing the probability game she does, she forgets that the single most probable person to rape a married woman would be... her husband. Yep, if we're playing these stupid statistical games, the most likely POTENTIAL RAPIST of Mrs BA would be one Phil Plait. Extending this ludicrous ideology to that point is sure gonna make meal times awkward.

I note PZ Myers has put another thread up and refused to discuss things by closing comments immediately (dissenting voices not welcome... his blog, his rules, but the decision speaks volumes)

I thought he was moving to a new network because he didnt want to censor his commentors?

I would rather self-censor a post on a NatGeo program on HIV-1 so kids could get past their school filters to read it (but otherwise be free to write whatever I wanted on any other post on any other topic I wanted), than censor you all from speaking.

Huh.

Its dumb anyway-- close comments on one post, people will just derail another. What a newb move...

Meh. You learn pretty quick with PZ that truly different viewpoints aren't welcome. You're allowed to disagree on minor trivial points, but if you actually disagree with something completely, then you're an idiot and the kind of person not welcome anywhere. Whatever.

But it does explain why stuff like TAM is naught but a self-congratulatory circle jerk.

Hey ERV

While you are noting stuff, have a look at what our favorite set of Roman Catholic cankles has been spouting.

"Guys like Richard Dawkins are no different than any of the entitled, white-haired, pale-faced, penis-stroking fucks that plague our entire civilization"

By Prometheus (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

I thought RW was uninteresting before. Now, after reading her latest post I'm quite sure she's just a moron. A quite self-absorbed one at that, it seems.

To see P.Z. giving her unquestioned support, even on that latest post, seems as a good a reason as any to find some other blogs to amuse myself with.* Kudos on RW though. She's been more effective at demolishing the credibility of the sceptic/atheist blogosphere than the entire religious right together.

*Since I don't what the hell 'epigenetic control of ERVs' even means, you're probably not it. Definitely one of the sanest voices in this whole thing though, so good job!

I'm still waiting on confirmation that elevator guy actually exists. The probability that this is simply a fake controversy increases as time goes on. Considering that RW is famous for being famous-on-the-intarwebs, I think the odds increase exponentially (Who knows? Some women are attention whores, but I couldn't say if she is one because I don't read her blog). You'd think that someone who goes to skeptic conferences would read skeptic blogs and tell their side of the story or apologize or something.

Well, that's the thing. Short of EG voluntarily stepping forth, (and why would anyone do that now), you can't prove or disprove his existence. Only one person saw him. She doesn't know his name, won't say what he looks or sounds like, so really, you can neither prove nor disprove his existence. It's all up to how low you think RW would stoop. I'll be naive here and doubt she'd stoop that low.

"I'll be naive here and doubt she'd stoop that low."

I don't... but I'm a cynic in many ways. Human behavior might confuse me, but it rarely surprises me. I never knew her well, and we haven't spoken in years now, but I wouldn't put it past her exaggerate or outright invent such a story to make a point. It's a relatively small deception, and honestly could easily have been classified as merely a hypothetical posited from the first person for effect if all this shitstorm hadn't sprung up after. Problem is, once the shitstorm does arise, few people have what it takes to say "OK, this got way out of hand. I made it up." Most people just dig the hole deeper and deeper - especially if they have big-name friends backing their play. There's no graceful way out, so the only option most see is "stay the course."

Of course, I wouldn't put it past some drunk guy to hit her in an elevator, either. I mean, really: Some guy + alcohol + reasonably attractive chick + proximity... it makes a good hypothetical because it's so common it's practically an archetype.

Me, I'd say it doesn't fucking matter whether it happened like she says or happened at all or not. Whether it did or didn't, everything after remains unchanged. Ok, that's not entirely true. Well, if it wasn't true, I'd take it into account next time she made a similar claim, but that's the only difference.

@148

You knew RW personally?

Hmmm. Didn't know about Phil Plait jumping in on this. WELL CHRIST FUCK!!! If I disagree with him i guess i have to stop reading all his work. I've already stopped reading PZ and now im done with SGU! I"M INCAPABLE OF LISTENING TO OR BE ENTERTAINED BY PEOPLE I DISAGREE WITH !!!!!ONE!!!ELEVEN!!! THANKS REBECCA FOR THE EXAMPLE WHEN YOU SAID YOU WERE DONE WITH DAWKIN!!!

I thought the skeptics/atheist movements were more rational than this. RW is saying shes now done with Dawkins after one incident, i guess she cant just deal with differing opinions. Plus we've got RW and her clan yelling ZOMG MALE DOESNT AGREE WITH ME MUST BE OVER PRIVILEGED MALE. or ZOMG ANY MALE IS POTENTIAL RAPIST. I guess the idea that someone just disagrees based on something other than male privilege or the idea that "every male is a rapist" is an oversimplified, drastic, and irrational position isn't acceptable. It has to be rooted in sexism, it has to be that simple because nothing is nuanced. Apparently everyone has forgotten what skepticism has taught us. Nothing is that simple and there's nuances to everything.

ERV, I had heard about your blog through PZ's but I've never read it until now after getting a link to 'Bad form, Rebecca Watson.' Fantastic blend of humor and science, I will continue to read.
Also saw that you worked in Antarctica on the archives. Immensely jealous, I've been seriously considering applying for a support staff job there. Been a dream of mine to go there. I'm still 20 so I've got a few more years to get there.

By tas121790 (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

For certain values of "personally," yes. We discussed a great many things on her site, and a few face to face. There was a little light flirting, but nothing that went very far. We didn't exactly part ways on the best of terms, and I'll freely admit that there may well be some residual bitterness about that whole situation creating a bias.

In short, don't go using me as an example of someone saying she's likely to make something up. I'd have said basically same thing about basically anyone.

..also, I've done worse.

Phil Plait has always been a massive tone troll- just read his "don't be a dick" crap from last year.

Anyway, I still have the patience to listen to the SGU just because Steven Novella is such a great skeptic. In fact he is the model of the movement- doesn't engage in wild hyperbole (i.e. PZ and RW), doesn't get involved in petty personal controversies (god knows that RW would air her personal grievances with the "male class" on the podcast if she was allowed to) and is an extremely intelligent scientist with real professional accomplishments.

I still miss Perry, and think that Rebecca was a terrible addition to the show. She literally contributes nothing but snark. If they were looking for a woman scientist, I don't know why they couldn't pick someone like BugGirl and Pamela Gay. Or ERV. Instead they brought on a blog and youtube troll.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, is a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Her defense attorneys are being tortured to death in prison for defending her today.

We are not talking about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, we are talking about Rebbecca Watson.

More than 12 percent of Congoâs female population between the ages of 15 and 49 have been raped, about 48 women per hour but we are not talking about Congolese women we are talking about Rebbecca Watson.

The 17 year ban on openly gay members of the military was lifted today, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is constructively excommunicating any politician who votes for gay marriage and they found the fossil of a wombat bigger than a 1958 Buick Roadmaster.....but fuck it, Watson.

Atheism is now about Watson.

Feminism is now about Watson.

All issues are now, for all of us, as they always have been for Rebbecca Watson, to wit all about Rebbecca Watson.

She wins. Everybody else loses.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

I've asked the question if there's any corroborating evidence to suggest that EG exists. No progress yet, just ad hominem arguments. Why am I not surprised?

-/2011/07/elevators_and_privilege_a_lett.php

Prom-- She wins. Everybody else loses.
Not true. I have been contacted by numerous student groups recently, who didnt know I existed six days ago. They are looking for 'alternative' female role models within the skeptical community.

They win.

Phyraxus-- Dont worry. I heard they have Mike Nifong on the case. *snickersnort*

YAY

Does that mean we can see you give some speeches? Please do

Well, I have a job. And I take it very seriously. So probably not very many of these gigs are actually going to work out irl :) I pitched the idea of doing talks/Q&A via Skype, like I did with Dr. Kiki!

Maybe we can still record those, though!

Not true. I have been contacted by numerous student groups recently, who didnt know I existed six days ago. They are looking for 'alternative' female role models within the skeptical community.

BTW, I noticed that Skepchick is organizing a letter-writing campaign against Dawkins:
http://skepchick.org/2011/07/dear-richard-dawkins/
I have a suggestion. ERV, perhaps you, Miranda,Steph, and others can start a "counter-demonstration" letter-writing campaign in opposition to reassure Dawkins that not all skeptical nontheist women buy into skepchick et al's narrow, exclusive radfem ideology.

i'd like to thank justicar, phyraxus and the others who have stood their ground against the pharynguloids.

@Tom
Well even after this and the Don't be a dick "episode" I'm still a fan of Phil Plait. He reminds me of someone who just doesn't want to stir the pot too much and thus defaulted to the safe position. He runs a good blog and his lectures online are great. I disagree that hes a troll. But to each there own.
Regarding SGU, I actually didn't mind Rebecca until this shiticane happened. Honestly, after like 2 episodes I probably wont even care that RW is on the show once the Winds of Shit pass. Shes relegated to a minor presence on SGU anyway. ZOMG PATRIARCHY. THE NOVELLA BROTHERS ARE SEXIST. I do agree that Steve is the model skeptic, and that there are numerous more qualified skeptical women that could replace her. Id say ERV should replace RW.

On PZ, I still like his blog, not the first time I've disagreed with him. Example I have a differing opinion on abortion that he does (ZOMG MORE PATRIARCHY) Funny enough my position on abortion is more in line with his daughters based on her responses from a reddit thread she had a few months ago. So maybe PZ can be hyperbolic but its tinged with some troll. Not a problem with me.

By tas121790 (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

INTP @#159
"BTW, I noticed that Skepchick is organizing a letter-writing campaign"

Yup it has elaborate rape anecdote poetry in the comments and there are a number of theme t-shirts for sale on Zazzle.com.

I hate people.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 06 Jul 2011 #permalink

Hey, how did I miss this thread? Thank you ERV for being a voice of reason throughout this whole shitstorm! Breaking from this neo-feminist orthodoxy as woman must not be entirely easy.

Phyraxus-- Dont worry. I heard they have Mike Nifong on the case. *snickersnort*

I see what you did there.

Well, I have a job. And I take it very seriously. So probably not very many of these gigs are actually going to work out irl :) I pitched the idea of doing talks/Q&A via Skype, like I did with Dr. Kiki!

Maybe we can still record those, though!

If you're on a Mac, there are a number of Apps for that, I use Wiretap Studio from Ambrosia myself. Windows has a nice selection as well. I don't know for sure about Linux, but I'd be surprised if they didn't.

I just waded into the whole kerfuffle through B&W. I wish I hadn't. I can't get past the simple fact that the elevator guy did nothing wrong. If I walk into an elevator with RW at 4am, then I present the same potential threat as the bumbling flirter. And I totally see why any woman might be on guard at that moment. But what does this have to do with sexism or gender traitors(!) or women getting paid less?

"BTW, I noticed that Skepchick is organizing a letter-writing campaign"

Yup it has elaborate rape anecdote poetry in the comments and there are a number of theme t-shirts for sale on Zazzle.com.

Every time I see that, I want to go in and find the biggest OMG MEN CAN'T UNDERSTAND and point out my experience with being sexually assaulted as a young child, (it was a LONG time ago. i got better) and ask "So, can I still not understand? It happened to me. Or does it not count because I'm a guy. Maybe I did myself?"

Just to really, really fuck with them. But I don't. I rarely bring it up in those forums for a number of reasons:

1) It really did happen a long time ago. (like the year of the Bicentennial. Most of the people screaming weren't even a glint in the milkman's eye then)

2) I got better. I never really blamed myself, and realized in my early teens/20s that the perp was not much less of a victim than I was. (it was a really fucked up situation, he wasn't exactly in happy happy homelife land), so I dunno if I *forgave* him per se, but I stopped being pissed at him.

3) It's fucking tedious to explain, and being the evil bastard I occasionally am, if I am somehow whined at into talking about it, it's work to not say "Well, he had a gentle, but firm touch, and afterwards, I knew I was now a man". The look of horror that creates is pretty awesome, and gets the hint across nicely: Not Everyone Lives In The Past

4) the most important one: My experience ONLY makes me an expert on ME. It means I may have a more...well I may be able to relate to certain things better, but fuck, i'm not an expert on juvenile sexual assault because heavy shit went down when I was a kid. It just means I went through some shit, and yeah, I can talk about that kind of shit differently than someone who didn't go through it. But try to make me some kind of "expert" on it, and I'll either bung something heavy your way, or refer you to people who spend their lives studying this shit, and are ACTUALLY EXPERTS. If Abbie wants to tell me what it's like to be stalked, I give her a lot of credence, she was there. But if you want to tell me that makes her an expert on getting stalked, I'm going to disagree. Getting shot at doesn't make you a sharpshooter. That's why this "I WAS RAPED, YOU MUST ACKNOWLEDGE MY SUPERIORITY" shit makes me want to vomit. No, being raped just means you were the victim of some horrible shit, and I'll understand if you have some strong viewpoints about some things, and try not to make certain jokes around you. But it doesn't make you an expert. It just makes you a victim. That sucks, but that's the truth.

5) It is a HUGE dick move, because I'm not doing it to educate, (how can I even do that? I don't REMEMBER much of what I was thinking or feeling, I was *9*. Most of what I remember from 9 revolves around wanting to be Dusty Rhodes or Steve Austin, or Fonzie. To be honest, I don't try real hard), I'm doing it to fuck with people. (Surprise, victims can be dicks too!) I do it as a brick to the skull of the prats who think that any group has some kind of monopoly on anything, and therefore some inherent moral high ground. No, they do not.

I know rather a few people who were raped, abused, what have you. Unsurprisingly, they're not running about screaming about it, and using it for an excuse for bad behavior.

Hmm...maybe that could be a session: "Your victimhood does not grant you the right to be a dick". Now THAT would be a TAM session to remember! :-P

Anyone see PZ's latest thread-
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/i_guess_ill_never_get_a_reta…

Someone put forward a opposing "gender" argument and was repeatedly called "fuckwit", insulted, and then subsequently banned. The funny part is that the Pharyngula users were merely making up legal arguments on the spot and then citing to american state appellate cases as if those statutes were applicable in England. So on top of being merely oppressive, PZ and his users were wrong again. Pharyngula is looking more stalinist by the day.

Honestly, the more this goes on the more I am starting to see Chris Mooney's perspective.

Yeah, I was reading it and it really didn't seem like an open honest debate. I do not believe the ban was justified. They mostly used appeal to emotion and ad hominem arguments.

He was basically saying that it wasn't sexist (or at least not illegal/grounds for government intervention) because they are a private enterprise and they can set up their own business practices. The ladies sell things like perfume and makeup, so obviously they want ladies that LOOK like they know what they are doing. I would say in a perfect world, its sexist (I don't think any woman should need to wear any makeup). However, that being said, his arguments were not unreasonable. Even now, someone says that its dolled up old, rich ladies that they are trying to impress, not men.

"Anyways, I see makeup as women objectifying themselves. Men aren't FORCING them to do anything. It is biological warfare (survival of the fittest, I mean) in the sense of providing false cues for fitness and it essentially is escalation of combat all the way up to plastic surgery. Because who peddles makeup to women? Other women (think, covergirl). It really is sad that our society promotes this shit and women buy it up. If all women tomorrow decided to throw away their makeup, they could, but I doubt it."

I mentioned this over there, not a single response in agreement or disagreement, but this is when they were already circling him like sharks.

The Skepchick "Campaign" makes me ill. It's viciousness and nastiness of the highest degree, and it's a perfect example of groupthink at its worst.

And let's call a spade a spade: it's nothing less than an attempt at character assassination.

Rebecca and her fellow "chicks" (and their supporters) are acting in the most irrational, childish, and un-skeptical way possible.

I just can't grasp how *anyone* who possesses even an ounce of intellect or empathy could support what they're doing. But what do I know? Like Abbie, I'm just a "gender traitor" who needs to "die in a fire", blah blah blah.

Seriously, this is some really messed up stuff.

PZ has decided that atheism is a social movement which should embody the values he thinks it should. To that end, he repeatedly blogs about those values. One of them is feminism. However, in typical PZ style he gets preachy, overreaches, then gets his herd to suppress dissenting opinion. This of course prevents both he and his flock from ever even considering that they might be wrong.

Oh Sagan where art thou?

Anyway, this is a breath of fresh air. I'll be reading you much more often and PZ, much less.

There's about 3 commentors on PZ's blog that seem to act as PZ's ID. They lead asshole, continue asshole, and finish asshole, and PZ justifies everything they do with "Don't like it, leave".

They get to say the shit PZ doesn't want to, and given PZ's passive-agressive tendencies, it would not surprise me if he actively encouraged them off-site. I used to think it was cool that PZ and I shared a birthday. Now, not so much. He's a smart guy, he does a lot of good overall, but he really is a bit of a cunt.

How the hole Elevatorgate-thing was handled and communicated by RW and the Skepchick-gang, let me somewhat question their motives. But I think, some of their expressed concerns are legitimate, although I think it hasn't much to do witch sexism at all...but with manners, empathy and social intelligence.
I sometimes think that my fellow humans are often a bit to paranoid and overly fearful of each other. But I recognize that people have different cultural backgrounds and biases (legitimate or not), life experiences and security-mentalities, and I can accept that. How people can think of me as a threat is sometimes beyond me... however if think about twice, it occurs to me how i must appear to people (i am a rather tall guy, and mostly wear black clothes!...creepy isn't it?), middle in the night no one else around. So, yes, i often crossed the street, when i notice that peoples (man and woman alike!) steps become slower, more hesitating, giving me a hint that they may be fearful of the upcoming silhouette (me). So in elevators or other situations: When someone gives me a scared, fearful or nervous face i leave him/her alone..no big deal. But, for example, I also step into an elevator, when my new neighbour (female) gives me a smile and asks how i am doing, even when its middle in the night.
I don't think that their are really any Golden Rules (as suggested by PZ Myers and others) on this. When to do what - depends on the situation, context and certain subtilities...so it requires a certain amount of social intelligence...something many of the more geeky/nerdy-types seem to lack of (thats my subjective experience, and i could be wrong about it).
Why are they so eager to make a sexism-thing out of it??

"Why are they so eager to make a sexism-thing out of it??"

Because when you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

@169:

"Someone put forward a opposing 'gender' argument and was repeatedly called 'fuckwit', insulted, and then subsequently banned."

I was there watching the whole thing unfold. What's funny is that the offender was unfailingly polite and respectful while being viciously insulted. In the end PZ banned this person on the basis that they were posting too much and too often, and this is indicative of trollish behavior.

Tybee @160:
I would like to say as I did earlier today that it takes nothing to type words on the internet. But then I checked my e-mail a little while ago. Apparently, I'm now a threat to google's revenue source for some, um, recently unkind satire I've partaken in. Therefore, I have now lost my beer and hooker fund from ad sense. I'm being oppressed!!!!!!!!! hahahaha Curiously though, they're still trying to serve ads, just not for revenue sharing. Bastards. *note to self - play nice with attention-whoring drama queens*

Anyway,"[o]n an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak oneâs mind. It becomes a pleasure." - Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest. So, after a bit of reflection, I thought I'd start doing some research on Rebecca's public commentaries, and now my legions of "fans" (about a dozen!) are doing some grunt work.

So, we'll just have to see how her consistency stacks up over time. Of course, I'm only doing this, naturally, because I obviously hate women and all that jazz. Fuck people and wrapping themselves in some feigned status to stave off criticism. It's cowardly.

With respect to PZ's banning of people whom he disagrees with, I cannot express how repugnant I find that. The same is going on with respect to an open letter to "Dick" Richard Dawkins from some sexual assault victims. They want to participate in public debate and demand, demand I tell you, that they be heard. But the comments are moderated as "[they] see fit" because someone might undertake "mansplaining". (comment 131 for link) In other words, some people might say words that don't agree with their sentiment, and therefore are excluded from participating in the discussion.

Granted, my following is trivial, so it's a non-issue for me now. But were it otherwise, I still would not moderate comments for anything other than extremely obvious spam. Suppression of people's ability to speak no matter how repugnant their views is not a matter I take lightly. It is the sign of a diseased society. Ugh.

John C. Welch:
It's almost hard to imagine that isn't a tshirt yet. Why people fail to grasp this elementary concept escapes me. Being injured by one person is not an excuse to in turn injure a different person.

Abbie:
If you do happen to find time to attend some meeting whereat you're giving a speech, please make it known. I might revisit my position of boycotting atheist/"skeptic" events until they stop paying bigots to come speak against oppression while simultaneously encouraging it so long as it's directed at others. I will positively not be supporting any event where the revenue brought in is used to pay a two-bit hack like Rebecca Watson to be a speaker. So, try to make it a different event!

Sorry, there are people whose thoughts are worth payment to hear. She is not among them.

I just wanted to post here to say that this blog seems to be the sanest thing on the internet right now. I was so disgusted by humans generally after seeing the madness on PZ (and following it around the internet). I've read ERV before for interesting information on HIV and I think I will stay here, because good grief, I like to read about people doing things that matter rather than people wailing about bugger all.

I'm yet another woman who doesn't understand the elevator thing or why RW hasn't been blacklisted from every conference for being an internet dramaqueen. And a woman who threw up a little bit into her mouth after reading the Laden blog.

I think I am waiting for the turnaround to come, though. There's got to be a point where people recognise this for what it is - bullying, name calling, and fame-whoring. Now they have a respected target for their hate who has a history of passionately supporting women's causes, I hope the light will start to shine for others.

Good News :)

I am officially a college grad, my B.S. degree in chemistry and biology just came in the mail. They say its only for decoration but the bureaucratic bastards only put chemistry on there because they only allow one on there. If its just for decoration ("Oh, to the people that matter, they will read your transcript"), then why not acknowledge that I just put in a little bit more work for it.

Since they only allow one major, I insisted chemistry be on there even though I was a biology major first. My experience is that biology is mostly about memorization and regurgitation, whereas chemistry is about comprehension and retention.

I just listened to your link Abbie and I am a pre-med too! :)

Even though I strongly disagree with PZ on a number of issues, I'll still read his blog because he can be an entertaining writer. Likewise, I'll still read Lubos Motl's blog. Even though both of these people have opinionated views - one left wing, one right wing - they are both entertaining writers and in many ways I like having my political views challenged. (My political views are not aligned with either Pharyngula or the The Reference Frame btw). I will probably continue to lurk more than I post. (Certainly at Pharyngula because of the login requirements which I can't be bothered to comply with)

As for the Harrods thing... yeah, that's another fail. Harrods have an equally OCD-like requirement for male staff. While the make up requirement for male staff probably is less onerous than that of female staff, there are peculiar male obligations under the employment contract as well. I haven't seen the full list but I know there are detailed requirements for facial hair (banning certain types, and specifying maximum dimensions for beards/sideburns) as well as some make up requirements (male sales staff must wear clear nail polish at all times).

Harrods also has a customer dress code. I'm not kidding. And it is applied generally in a non-discriminatory way. Famously, a high profile football team - full of wealthy, privileged males - were refused entry to Harrods because they turned up in tracksuits, which is against the customer dress policy.

Harrods is an oddball place with some weird policies. I haven't seen the full list of policies, and couldn't find it on the web, so I cannot comment on whether the OCD requirements on male and female staff are more, or less onerous. Unlike posters at Pharyngula who are presumably using telepathy or some other sixth sense to work it out. There have been serious problems at Harrods regarding employment (bullying, racism and sexism) so it wouldn't surprise me if they screwed up again. However, there is not enough information available yet to make this a "gotcha".

Well, all I can say is Rebecca Twatson delenda est!

I have a post up on my blog about her and, um, what's coming up in researching her. While I can't state with certainty a couple of things right now, I'm reasonably confident, and I'm still working on definitively verifying some information.

Yes, that's my motto for the next little while. Rebecca Twatson delenda est!

So, if you want to help in my one man (yes, I know the irony yawns before me. I wish a woman were doing this instead!) campaign to work towards removing Rebecca Twatson from being an *invited* and *paid* speaker at events, feel free. She's not in a position to teach; the force is not yet strong with this one.

Congratulations, Phyraxus, and sorry for any misunderstanding in the other place.

I recently earned a degree (in computing and networks, not a traditional science) finally (Single parent, so did it late), and the paper is not just for decoration, it's for pointing at whenever someone disagrees with you on your topic.

"I agree that the elevator guys's behaviour was a bit uncouth and inappropriate. I think it's best to be a gentleman (i.e. "don't be creepy")."

Although you wouldn't do it, think on this: IF EG wanted to get to know RW better, when else would it have been possible?

The story doesn't seem to hold that EG stalked RW, they just got in the same lift, a lift in a hotel they both were staying in.

So, IF EG really wanted to get to know Rebecca better, when would it have been possible?

Hey Justicar, you never answered my question about why anyone should take your opinion over that of the collected wisdom of numerous police departments.

Oh, Carlie. I see you've not gotten any smarter since last we met.

I have answered your question no fewer than three times; I have pointed you to it at least as many times. I am not responsible that you refuse to read it.

Incidentally, what's all this "collected wisdom" bit? Did I miss some kind of memo where the number of people who proclaim a thing somehow imply the thing is correct? Not that this is at all related to anything said. Still, it's a bad argument to go around bandying about x number of people say y; therefore, y is true! Pwned!

I realize that you work under delusions of adequacy, and that might fly on pharyngula. But, the only difference between where you say it deals not with the value of what you say, but rather the number of people in a mob who in some emotional fervor agree with people who decide to have the same enemy.

Congratulations, on simultaneously being an idiot and a liar. I'm so proud.

Who is on her 'side'? People who were not present.

Not entirely accurate, since I was there.

Watson, on the other hand, is hiding behind PZs apron

.

I think Rebecca has shown by now that she doesn't need PZ to hold her hand, your assessment is rather unfair, how is she hiding behind PZ ?

My experience is that biology is mostly about memorization and regurgitation, whereas chemistry is about comprehension and retention.

you--and/or they--did it wrong

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Jeez, it's a veritable temple of narcissism over here.

given PZ's passive-agressive tendencies, it would not surprise me if he actively encouraged them off-site.

lol
That's right: Myers is a Mad Puppeteer, controlling his commentariat with Sekrit Mind Rays!!!

I used to think it was cool that PZ and I shared a birthday.

Are you 12 years old?

but he really is a bit of a cunt.

aaaaaand whoomp! There it is.
Thanks for displaying your bona-fides on the subject.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I need to check if the Innocence Project takes donations.

Justicar, I comment on here very, very rarely, definitely not often enough to make a pest of myself with multiple comments to you, so this will be my last one. I just wanted to point out to everyone here that you like to run away from very simple questions.

"That's right: Myers is a Mad Puppeteer, controlling his commentariat with Sekrit Mind Rays!!!"

Isn't that exactly what PZ is saying when he blames radical anti-feminists of making Rebecca go apeshit?

Carlie, you haven't made a question. All you've done is make a statement about another question you might have made somewhere else.

Please go and ask on that thread because as far as evidence goes, we only have hearsay:

You say it hasn't been answered.
He says it has.

Nobody knows what the hell you two are talking about.

So, rather than waste your very rare commenting on a thread where your complaint is completely Off Topic, go and post on a thread where it actually makes sense.

As it is, the most obvious reason for you to make your request here is to show Justicar up. Which then gives reason for you to tell porkie-pies about whether any question was answered or not.

Jeez, it's a veritable temple of narcissism over here.

As opposed to what, Pharyngula? ROFLMAO. I'm gonna need a bigger irony meter to follow this debate.
.
Carlie: Since I haven't read through all of the many thousands of comments on multiple blogs, I (and I suspect many others) have no idea what you are talking about. Being skeptics, we like to see evidence rather than assertion. If you provide a simple link to the specific comment in which you asked the question, we can see the question in full, the context in which it was asked, and any possible replies. Without that, your simple assertion is uninteresting. Thx.

Meh. I've got to stop using blockquotes on this blog. There should be two paragraphs in my #193, split before the word "Carlie". Although I see wow has made the same point anyway.

Sven DeMilo: Jeez, it's a veritable temple of narcissism over here.

Sven's definition of narcissism: "Anyone, male or female, who dares to disagree with radfem ideological dogma."

With rhetoric like "anti-woman" or "gender traitor", does anyone getting the subtle feeling the other side is moving away from "I disagree with you" and moving towards "you are my enemy because you don't think the way we do"?

So when Jenny McCarthy spouts nonsense about science, do I have to agree with her because she's gone through something very tragic that I can't completely understand as an outsider(standpoint epistemology!)?

The character assassination (pointed out by Miranda) is the worst. Then the guys who are so pleased with themselves for crowing about how non-sexist they are and how they "get it".

Wow. So naming someone publicly is all it takes for disqualification as a Decent Human Being? I did not know that.

Because that's the only thing everyone agrees happened. From that, this post has extrapolated many other sins (which, one might argue, considering all of the sins RW extrapolated from EG's invitation, is fair enough). If RW took unfair advantage of an asymmetrical power relationship in naming a name, then of course it was a crappy thing to do. But there is disagreement between the RW agree-ers and disagree-ers over whether that is, in fact, what she did. Is the appropriate evaluative context of RW's naming just the keynote speech? Or maybe even the conference? Is it the entire realm of interaction in the skeptical community, on- and off-line? Who gets to say, and what's the basis for their decision?

Likewise the subject of whether the naming had anything to do with her keynote topic. Is sexism within the skeptical community intimately, or only tangentially (if at all), related to the religious right's misogyny? And if it be intimately related, was RW's preface to her keynote even about sexism within the skeptical community?

These are not questions with black and white answers, as this entire debate illustrates. And each person's answer to them is going to determine her reaction to RW's naming a name.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Drbubbles:
I'm sorry, your questions indicate that you have not bothered to read what people have bothered to write.

The basis for the power imbalance has been stated by dozens of people spanning FSM only knows how many blogs and posts.

These are questions with fairly straightforward answers. When you call someone out and accuse them of things but prevent them from being able to respond, you're wrong. Stef had no way to respond in the forum; she was not on equal footing with any speaker. Not because any speaker is smarter, or better, but simply because they're the speaker.

They have the power. They have the microphone. It's nigh impossible for the speaker to disrupt his/her own speech. So, if there's a disruption, guess who security throws out? The audience member, not the speaker.

You want to call someone out, fine. Choose a playing field where each person is equally free to present his or her ideas, though perhaps not equally capably of doing so. To exploit the ability to force people to shut up so that you can castigate them is an abuse of a power.

It's also an affront to the whole idea of skepticism: asking questions and discussing things - you know, that trivial concern.

Wow. So finding some bones in the ground is all it takes to prove evolution? Since that's the only thing everyone agrees happened.

Oh here we go again.

Jeez, it's a veritable temple of narcissism over here.

Nah, we need more mirrors and LSD for that.

given PZ's passive-agressive tendencies, it would not surprise me if he actively encouraged them off-site.

lol
That's right: Myers is a Mad Puppeteer, controlling his commentariat with Sekrit Mind Rays!!!

Yes. That's exactly what I said. he's controlling them. Oh wait, not at all, but you don't actually care what anyone said, you're in MUST DEFEND THE CAUSE MODE. Fuck listening, you've a crusade to press on with.

I used to think it was cool that PZ and I shared a birthday.

Are you 12 years old?

No, I'm like anyone else who finds random commonality between people who don't know each other fascinating and kind of cool. I share a birthday with rather a lot of people and things, some cooler than others. If that makes me a "Twelve year old" in your eyes, well, I don't know you, so really, who the fuck cares?

but he really is a bit of a cunt.

aaaaaand whoomp! There it is.
Thanks for displaying your bona-fides on the subject.

O NOES! I USED A BAD WERD! THAT IS USED THE WORLD OVER BY PEOPLE WHO DON'T GET THE VAPAHS BECAUSE SOMEONE SAID "CUNT".

Cunt's a fun word, and if you hang out with people from other places, you find the american fear of it is not universal, nor even close. My wife rather likes the word. She hate's "twat" which is a shame, because it is SUCH a good word for some folks, but cunt's okay.

Oh look, not everyone sees everything the same. But do run off and tell the world how much of a misogynist I am for saying "cunt" ya cunting cunt. AAAACK! I SAID IT AGAIN! AND RIGHT THERE! ACK!!!!

Also, when you start being afraid of *words* instead of *people* you kind of lose moral high ground in the "are you 12" thing.

So when Jenny McCarthy spouts nonsense about science, do I have to agree with her because she's gone through something very tragic that I can't completely understand as an outsider(standpoint epistemology!)?

Actually, that's not a bad analogy. What a lot of people are saying seems to be that if you are a victim of (crime), then you have special standing to talk about it and disagreement with your views is the same as attacking you personally.

I'm also seeing a lot of the "All women are potential victims of rape, so therefore, if you are a man and disagree with them on a situation, you're always wrong, because as potential victims of rape, they have special standing that you as a man do not" points.

So yeah, basically it is similar to, although not EXACTLY like McCarthy's assertions that because she is the mother of an autistic child, she has special standing and you are essentially not allowed to disagree with her on anything related to autism, mothering or any combination of the two.

They have the power. They have the microphone. It's nigh impossible for the speaker to disrupt his/her own speech. So, if there's a disruption, guess who security throws out? The audience member, not the speaker.

Good point there. That's the truth for conferences in general, in my experience. if there is a problem between a speaker and an audience member that can only be calmed down by one of them leaving the room, then it's going to be the audience member. The speaker may get a nice lecture from the organizers afterwards with a lot of pressure to apologize, but it would have to be a pretty huge act on the speaker's part to have them removed during the session. Like "things we call the cops for" huge. Being a dick ain't one of them.

Now they may never, ever speak at that conference or other conferences again, they may even have the rest of their sessions cancelled, if applicable. But that specific session will go on, they'll retain the podium, and the power.

I really don't get how PZ, or anyone thinks that being able to physically yell at someone from a chair or an audience mic equalizes out the speaker's power. It does not do that. This is not speculation, this is reality. It is provable, and in this case, I say this as someone who can in fact prove it, at least for one set of conferences. I highly doubt other conferences are *that* different.

In fact, had Watson not pulled her dick move, i'd have ignored the entire thing, because fuck, i don't really care. PZ's one of the "more feminist than thou" group, and many of the rest are part of it as well. They get to feel that way, I get to agree, it's the circle of life.

But what Watson did was wrong. It was an abuse of power, it was rude, it was a dick fucking move, and I have seen nothing, nothing whatsoever that even *begins* to come close to refuting my experience, work, and data that leads me to that opinion. It's going to take a lot more than calling me names, (Seriously folks, I've been an internet curmudgeon for a looong time. People I don't know calling me names is really not going to work) or telling me I don't know what I'm talking about when clearly I do, to get me to change my stance here.

In a comment she made on her own post at pandragon, Amanda Marcotte links to this 1976 article on "trashing" in the women's movement. I think it makes a point exactly opposite to the one she thinks it makes. Ms. Marcotte writes "Rebeccaâs crime was using her bullhort to create change." The article she links to details one woman's experience of the wrong end of that change, that the quest for power via political solidarity and "purity" tends to destroy dissenting voices rather than winning them over via fair argument.

just finished reading the thread at pharynguloids paranoia, or at least down to where nefarioususurper got banished.
pz is a chickenshit. the rest of the coven is allowed to rant on ,"taking over the conversation", but one of the few who has dared to differ gets sent away.

yeah, chickenshit pretty much covers it.

It has truly gotten ridiculous.

Tell someone to stop bitching? You're a bigot
Call someone a twat? You're a bigot

Call someone a rather long string of profanity, belittle them continually by referring to them as cupcake, or talk down to someone new by "telling them how it is"? Oh that's just fine.

ye.
fucking.
gods.

Whiny little privileged boys.

Stay the fuck away from women, and stay the fuck away from me.

By The Panic Man (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Welch-- IRONY ALERT!!! IRONY ALERT!!! PLEASE TURN OFF ALL IRONY METERS BEFORE CLICKING ON THIS LINK OR READING FURTHER!! THIS IS THE LAST WARNING!! IRONY ALERT!!!

Dawkins himself was molested as a child.

He was a victim of sexual assault from a male.

He wrote about it in 2006.

This sheds a whole new light on things, reading that piece from 2006:
Happily I was spared the misfortune of a Roman Catholic upbringing (Anglicanism is a significantly less noxious strain of the virus). Being fondled by the Latin master in the Squash Court was a disagreeable sensation for a nine-year-old, a mixture of embarrassment and skin-crawling revulsion, but it was certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire. As soon as I could wriggle off his knee, I ran to tell my friends and we had a good laugh, our fellowship enhanced by the shared experience of the same sad pedophile. I do not believe that I, or they, suffered lasting, or even temporary damage from this disagreeable physical abuse of power. Given the Latin Master's eventual suicide, maybe the damage was all on his side.

Of course I accept that his misdemeanors, although by today's standards enough to earn imprisonment followed by a life sentence of persecution by vigilantes, were mild compared to those committed by some priests now in the news. I am in no position to make light of the horrific experiences of their altar-boy victims. But reports of child abuse cover a multitude of sins, from mild fondling to violent buggery, and I am sure many of those cases now embarrassing the church fall at the mild end of the spectrum . Doubtless, too, some fall at the violent end, which is terrible but I would make two points about it. First, just because some pedophile assaults are violent and painful, it doesn't mean that all are. A child too young to notice what is happening at the hands of a gentle pedophile will have no difficulty at all in noticing the pain inflicted by a violent one. Phrases like 'predatory monster' are not discriminating enough, and are framed in the light of adult hang-ups. Second (and this is the point with which I began) the mental abuse constituted by an unsubstantiated threat of violence and terrible pain, if sincerely believed by the child, could easily be more damaging than the physical actuality of sexual abuse. An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is. And there is no doubt at all that many children sincerely believe it, often continuing right through adulthood and old age until death finally releases them.

Richard Dawkins was ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY MOLESTED, and he has the ability to say "Compared to what happened to other kids, it wasnt that big of a deal." His mistake was having the same level of 'perspective' from Watson & Co when what happened to her WAS NOT A BIG DEAL. SHE WASNT EVEN MOLESTED.

FAIL levels rising!!

FLOOD DETECTED!

Whiny little privileged boys.

Stay the fuck away from women, and stay the fuck away from me.

Interesting... So you are saying that you deserve the privilege of deciding who is a whiner, and who has a legitimate complaint. And upon making that judgment, you can also decide with whom they may associate and their spatial relationships with other people; i.e., you retain the privilege of subjecting all to your whims.No problemo, I usually avoid psychotics raving on the street. I safely can assume I am staying the fuck away from you.

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Oh, don't bother whining, bigot ERV - I've killfiled you for your sexist shit.

By The Panic Man (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Also, when you start being afraid of *words* instead of *people* you kind of lose moral high ground in the "are you 12" thing.

You make absolutely no sense. No one is afraid of words. And surely being afeared of words would not cause one to lose any type of high-ground, except maybe the sanity high-ground, but especially not a moral high-ground.

I personally found Rebecca Watson doing the appropriate thing: calling someone out on behaviour which should not be acceptable. Who cares what the venue is. If you act inappropriately then you should be afraid of public shaming at the least.

By screwy the squirrel (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sven's definition of narcissism: "Anyone, male or female, who dares to disagree with radfem ideological dogma."

Haaaaahahahahaha.
That's actually pretty humorously ignorant. I mean, I'm no celebrity, internet or otherwise, so there's no reason at all you should know me, but maybe one of the regulars at Pharyngula could tell you about my reputation over there for 'agreeing with radfem ideological doctrine'. (hint: I've lost count of the number of times I've been called a 'sexist asshole' over there)(they're wrong, of course)

But no, my definition of narcissism is "making anything and everything all about meeee!!!!"

Isn't that exactly what PZ is saying when he blames radical anti-feminists of making Rebecca go apeshit?

What?
That makes no sense at all. The answer would be "no" even if he had said anything like that, which I'm pretty sure he didn't.

As opposed to what, Pharyngula?

Oh, there's plenty of narcissism to go around. I was not drawing any contrasts.

Fuck listening, you've a crusade to press on with.

Please tell me what my crusade is. Then we'll both know.

Oh look, not everyone sees everything the same.

That's correct, Welch. Not everybody sees everything the same. The difference between you and me is, I actually suspect that the way other people see things might be worth listening to occasionally.
Let's take the word 'cunt'. You like it. It's "fun". It's fun for you to refer disparagingly to a male as a 'cunt' because it's such a fun little insult-word.
Yet you know that not everyone sees it that way. You twist it rhetorically into an 'american fear of the word' but you know better: you know that there are a lot of people, yes, most of them North American and many, if not most of them, women, who do not like that word because they are sincerely offended by its use as an insult. Because its use is at root demeaning to women.
[Do you see how using a word for female genitals as an insult applied to a male might be the wee-est bit offensive? Have you ever asked your no doubt long-suffering wife why she 'doesn't like' the word 'twat' (such a shame)? No, probably not. Well, it doesn't matter for my argument whether you get the 'why' or not; just that you know damn well that some other people are sincerely offended by it, for what they see as good reason.]
So your response is to use it anyway. Fuck 'em! Bitches ain't shit anyway, am I right?
Yes, Welch, that's precisely the message you sent by using that word. If that's what you meant, so be it. You're an asshole. If it's not what you meant, then you are sending the wrong message and you might want to think about that.

Now, let me clarify: I am not personally offended by any words you might choose to use. I do not get the vapors, and nor am I 'afraid' of words. Any of 'em. However, I am not an ignorant narcissist, and therefore I try to take into account the feelings of other people when I am trying to communicate with them.

You don't. It's far more important to you to stick to your stupid guns against the radfem onslaught. You're exactly like the commenter at Pharyngula who said he refused to cross the street at night to avoid frightening single women because that would be "validating victim mentality" and he "doesn't do that".

And it's exactly what I meant by 'narcissism'.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

@Sven
"Let's take the word 'cunt'. You like it. It's "fun". It's fun for you to refer disparagingly to a male as a 'cunt' because it's such a fun little insult-word.
Yet you know that not everyone sees it that way. You twist it rhetorically into an 'american fear of the word' but you know better: you know that there are a lot of people, yes, most of them North American and many, if not most of them, women, who do not like that word because they are sincerely offended by its use as an insult. Because its use is at root demeaning to women.
"

My first post ever on ERV, and it's about language. Don't ever come to Britain, then, it'll blow your mind. If you find it degrading to women, then, may I suggest "wanker" instead, that'll be nicely up your street, since it calls out something men and links it to being an idiot? Or how about when something is clearly awful being "bollocks"? By your definition, is that demeaning to men?

Or are they ACTUALLY just words, and you're overreacting?

Still, one good thing that's come out of this whole kerfuffle (seriously, I realised how much popcorn I was eating watching it, wich ain't good for a diabetic) is that I found a new blog to read!

Come for the shouty, stay for the virusy science! Or something!

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

The "cunt" talk reminds me of that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where he blurts it out at that guy while playing poker.

OMG, Larry David made a JOKE about the word "cunt". He can do that because he's a male and doesn't know how hurtful the word really is. Even if he meant it as a joke, it could still hurt people who don't get his humor!

Yeah, Sven, people aren't advocating going around calling people bitches and cunts left and right.

John is not the person who started the shit-storm. His swearing doesn't change the fact that nothing that important happened with either the elevator guy or RD.

By Adam Bertolett (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sven DiMilo (fixed a bit):
"You don't. It's far more important to you to stick to your stupid guns against the Muslim onslaught. You're exactly like the Arab commenter who said he refused to not get on the plane to avoid frightening US Republicans because that would be "validating victim mentality" and he "doesn't do that".

And it's exactly what I meant by 'narcissism'."

Just to repeat what Grania said elsewhere:

"In particular, one that made me want to either throw up or face-palm so violently that I lost consciousness, was the idea that the sensitive, feminist-aware male should cross over to the opposite side of the street, on spotting an unaccompanied woman so as not to alarm, intimidate or upset the lone female.
Seriously, this is the epitome of a 100 years of feminism? Treating women like helpless, infantile victims? Thanks, but no thanks. I expect men to treat me like an equal, not like a half-witted invalid.

I suppose you would consider Grania to be a "gender traitor" as well?

I think it is amazing that these people think calling someone a bigot when they have a sound argument is some legitimate counter argument. Seriously, holier-than-thou arguments don't work, it doesn't matter if it comes from fundie christians or from fundie feminists.

As for wanker and bullocks, yeah, that is totally demeaning to men, but you know how these people don't give a flying fuck about them. Just don't use the word bitch cuz then they will start... bitching LOL

Panic Man: Whiny little privileged boys.
Stay the fuck away from women, and stay the fuck away from me.

Like I said: "...does anyone get the subtle feeling the other side is moving away from "I disagree with you" and moving towards "you are my enemy because you don't think the way we do"?

Perhaps it's not so subtle after all. I'm happy to be stay away from sanctimonious radfem zealots.

@Phyraxus

Funny thing is, over here in Blighty, wanker's an appropriate and slightly affectionate name to call a friend. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany times have I been called it by my best mate, as I have been known to call her "you soft cunt" and "smeghead". :-P

Right, serious head for a minute... Since my passion is language, and meaning, and all that, I just had a thought that popped into my noggin, when I was typing the language thing up there: might SOME of the reaction to Dawkins' post be because of cultural differences between Limeys and Yanks?

I say that, 'cos I read it, and didn't see "massive, massive dick", but "sarcastic Englishman being a sarcastic Englishman".

Although I'm prepared to concede those two are one in the same thing :P

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

screwy the squirrel wrote:

I personally found Rebecca Watson doing the appropriate thing: calling someone out on behaviour which should not be acceptable. Who cares what the venue is. If you act inappropriately then you should be afraid of public shaming at the least.

And that's the problem. The idea that some feminist/atheist/skeptics should go about "publicly shaming" their feminist/atheist/skeptic colleagues for "unacceptable behavior". Pointing out problematic actions and opinions, yes. "Naming names", yes. But following it up with the "conclusion", in this case, that Ms. McGraw was "espousing anti-woman sentiment", no.

Calling a fellow feminist/atheist/skeptic an enemy is not the way to convince her that she is mistaken. (Skeptics are supposed to use rational argument, no?) It is, however, an excellent way to splinter feminism/atheism/skepticism into ineffectual squabbling sub-groups.

Yes, let's "shame" everyone who disagrees with us! We're always right, right?

Out-groups like feminists, atheists, and skeptics don't need purity. They need "big tents", the willingness to argue about their differences, and the ability to live with those that can't be resolved.

You're exactly like the commenter at Pharyngula who said he refused to cross the street at night to avoid frightening single women because that would be "validating victim mentality" and he "doesn't do that".

Oh no, the pods got Sven!

...would that be anything like the commenter that goes into certain emotionally charged threads and says things that are likely to be interpreted as 'rape apology'?

Oh, don't bother whining, bigot ERV - I've killfiled you for your sexist shit.

I was be sarcastic (and nasty) when I wrote that I avoid raving psychopaths on the street, but apparently I was a little closer than I imagined. Appparently panic is the condition not the handle.Hint Panic, errr, Man, you don't need to set a Firefox Killfile to mute Abbie's posts, all you need to do is not visit her blog. That is unless it's being uploaded into your fillings as we speak. Then you'll need a tin-foil hat.

By Onkel Bob (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

...would that be anything like the commenter that goes into certain emotionally charged threads and says things that are likely to be interpreted as 'rape apology'?

No, of course not; nothing like that at all.
or...hmm...OK maybe just a little bit.

I do not think that disagreeing with people about what is and isn't prudent behavior and what is or isn't 'victim blaming' is the same thing as consciously refusing to take others' perspectives and feelings into account.
If I think you are wrong about something I am likely to argue with you about it. If I think my behavior might frighten you, I'll try not to do it. If I know you are personally offended by some term or word I'll try not to use it (unless I am trying to offend you).
None of that seems inconsistent.

By Sven DIMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

And Lo, the misogynist (me I suppose) replies!

Let's take the word 'cunt'. You like it. It's "fun". It's fun for you to refer disparagingly to a male as a 'cunt' because it's such a fun little insult-word.

actually, I like it because of how single-mindedly offensive it is. it is not a weak, flaccid word like "asshole" or "dick". You can't explain it away as easily. You call someone an asshole, they might just take it as a compliment. Same thing with dick. Those are weak words, weasel words, they allow you to wiggle out of things.

Calling someone a stupid cunt leaves you no wiggle room. You meant to be offensive. You meant to piss them off, and it shows that you have a rather low opinion of the person or at best, their behavior. I admire PZ's intellect, the way he fights for science and many other of his causes. But on his blog? He's regularly a cunt about things, and encourages a level of abuse that would probably frighten him, with good reason, were it heaped upon him in person.

I think it's a fun word because it is a precise word, in terms of intent, both in its sexual use and its use as a personal pejorative. I like precision. It's fun.

Yet you know that not everyone sees it that way. You twist it rhetorically into an 'american fear of the word' but you know better: you know that there are a lot of people, yes, most of them North American and many, if not most of them, women, who do not like that word because they are sincerely offended by its use as an insult. Because its use is at root demeaning to women.

I'm not "twisting" anything. The largest population group that gets butthurt about "cunt" is that of the United States. Canada could, en masse, disapprove of the word, and they're still not even close to the same numbers. Mexico is not a primarily english speaking country, so their reaction to english profanity isn't going to be the same, because profanity in another language tends to not have the same intensity of meaning, especially if you don't actually speak the language in question. In countries where english is the primary native language, the US is *by far* the largest group blindly offended by "cunt".

However, there are lots of people around the world, in primarily english-speaking countries for whom "cunt" is no more inherently offensive than any other example of profanity. My pointing that out is not "twisting" anything. It's a fact. You don't have to like a fact, facts don't depend on your approval.

As well, honestly, someone being offended by a word, not how it's used, not why the person using it is using it, but the mere existence of a word? Don't. Fucking. Care. Now, if I'm using it in a hurtful manner, then I expect people will not be happy about that. I may still disagree with them, but I'll not think them wrong for not liking how I use it.

And not, the word at its use is not demeaning to any woman unless I use it against one. You calling someone else a stupid fucking mick is not demeaning to my ancestry in the least. It may make me think you're a bit of a tool, but you're not demeaning my Irish ass in the slightest. Same thing with Whore, Dick, Prick, tit, twat, pussy, bitch, dickhead and all the rest. Those words just lay there until they are used, and then their use doesn't demean anyone outside of who its used against. You are free to disagree with me on this, but I've yet to see proof I'm wrong here.

[Do you see how using a word for female genitals as an insult applied to a male might be the wee-est bit offensive? Have you ever asked your no doubt long-suffering wife why she 'doesn't like' the word 'twat' (such a shame)? No, probably not.

considering my wife uses cunt far more than I do, I think *I'M* the one suffering more than she does. I asked her about that, because the first time I used that word around her, she said "Ew. Hate that word". (OH LOOK, SHE FUCKIN' SPOKE UP) I asked her why, because it seemed odd, given that she doesn't mind cunt. Her answer was she just didn't like the way the word sounded. It squicked her out, it just makes her feel Ugh. Since, as someone I both know and care about, her opinion matters more than that of people I don't know, I don't use that word around her. She is of some importance in my life, for her, I don't use the word. For you, not so much. Most people do that. For the people who have special meaning in their life, whether family, friends, bosses, coworkers, etc., they will of course, temporarily modify their behavior so as to go through life easier.

Since, unlike you presuppose, I am actually aware that a lot of women don't like that word, I don't use it as much as others. It's not because it "demeans" them. I don't care *why* they don't like it, nor do I *need to care*. It is enough for me that a lot of american women don't like it and so, in vaguely polite company, i tend to not use it.

It's not because i'm protecting women, I don't think of them as beings in inherent need of protection, and if you said that to most of the ones I know, I'd be the one keeping them from putting your head through a wall, (mostly because I've studied martial arts longer than them, and am better at it.) It is for the same reason I don't fart loudly in meetings, or eat ear wax at the dinner table: it's rude in those situations. In others, I don't see a reason not to, so I merrily cunt away, not giving a cunting fuck if you like it or not. In fact, I may now use it more, because you're being such a whiny bitch about it.

Well, it doesn't matter for my argument whether you get the 'why' or not; just that you know damn well that some other people are sincerely offended by it, for what they see as good reason.]

You could give two squirts of piss what I actually think, Cthulu knows you've not fucking bothered to ask.

So your response is to use it anyway. Fuck 'em! Bitches ain't shit anyway, am I right?
Yes, Welch, that's precisely the message you sent by using that word. If that's what you meant, so be it. You're an asshole. If it's not what you meant, then you are sending the wrong message and you might want to think about that.

Projecting a bit? I'm not the one trivializing the real problems of discrimination and misogyny by stating that the mere use of a single word, rude and offensive it may be, forever labels one as a misogynist, until...well, until they fall to their knees and fellate the great powers of feminism, whatever that may be. This "YOU USED A WORD I DON'T LIKE, YOU'RE A (LABEL)" shit is the same misguided, (i'm being kind there) reasoning that thinks shit like "the n-word" or "the f-word" will end racism or homophobia or even make the SLIGHTEST dent in it. It's only one step up from the moronic slacktivisim that makes people think that changing their twitter avatar background color will end an oppressive theocracy in Iran.

You want to stop people from hurting other people by calling them "fag" or "nigger"? laugh at them. When you're out with people normally the targets of those words and someone screams them at you, don't get all preachy or angry or ready to fight. Point and laugh at the little morons, laugh like you're going to piss yourself. When others ask why y'all are laughing, tell them you're laughing at a group of little morons who actually think calling a group of grown-ass adults a BAD WERD is going to fuck up their self-esteem and make them hate themselves.

You get a good laugh out of it, always a good thing, and you have not let the little morons control your mental state. (By the way, thanks for letting me know I can piss you off so easily. I'll remember that.) You also publicly shame someone in the one way that there is no real mental or emotional defense for: laughing at them. Anyone who has ever had large group laugh at them, especially a group they felt superior to can attest to how harsh that can be.

Point and laugh. We've tried preachy slacktivism and anger. How well has, or is that working out for you?

Now, let me clarify: I am not personally offended by any words you might choose to use. I do not get the vapors, and nor am I 'afraid' of words. Any of 'em. However, I am not an ignorant narcissist, and therefore I try to take into account the feelings of other people when I am trying to communicate with them.

Because calling me a sexist and all the other glorious implications in your little screed here, (thanks for the implications about my wife too) show me in bright, shining lights how much you care about the feelings of others.

You don't. It's far more important to you to stick to your stupid guns against the radfem onslaught. You're exactly like the commenter at Pharyngula who said he refused to cross the street at night to avoid frightening single women because that would be "validating victim mentality" and he "doesn't do that".

I'm not going to cross the street at night to avoid frightening people because I don't assume a grown-assed adult is a frightened child, and I have the same right to walk down the fucking street as I see fit as they do. If my mere presence frightens them, then how is crossing the street going to help? That just makes it easier for me to hide and later sneak up on them. If a 44 year old slightly paunchy dude walking down the street in ugly shoes frightens you that much, then you have real issues that you need to deal with, and I'm not being snide there. But I am not going to evaluate every random encounter with every random person and wander back and forth across the street just so I MAYBE don't scare someone.

"Not validating victim mentality" nothing, that's just fucking stupid.

And it's exactly what I meant by 'narcissism'.

I'm not narcissistic, i'm an asshole. There's a difference.

>199

You offer assertions warranted by the existence of people in agreement with you. And yet there are many who disagree, or this debate would not be. (And I'm the one who hasn't read what people have written?)

The very existence of the debate proves my point: people disagree about the significance of naming the name. The debate is fundamentally about whose interpretation is right.

>200

I've always thought that the independent corroborating material evidence for evolution is not ontologically equivalent to different individuals' assessments of a social interaction.

Likewise, I'd thought it fairly well established that science is epistemologically different from the interpretation of interpersonal interaction. And I say that as a one-time anthropologist.

>204 "They get to feel that way, I get to ^dis^agree, it's the circle of life."

So does this not apply to what people think about RW's naming the name? And, if not, who decides when it does and when it doesn't?

I have my opinion, of course. But, who cares? Actually I'm not at all sure why I even commented in the first place. Maybe to suggest some perspective? Maybe because the Casey Anthony verdict has me thinking about certainty and what we think we know? Maybe because I'm not sure what good the polarization over RW will accomplish? I don't know.

But, again, who cares? Even I sort of don't anymore.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I suppose you would consider Grania to be a "gender traitor" as well?

Not a term I have ever applied to anyone. In part because it's a judgment that's not up to me.
But since you kind of asked my opinion of Grania's comment (whoever that is): I think she's lying. I think that if, say, she was walking alone down a Brooklyn sidewalk at 1am and I was walking behind her in the same direction, she would feel more comfortable if I crossed the street to pass her than if I approached and passed on the same side. I think that in the actual situation in real time her personal safety would suddenly seem more important to her than her high-minded demand for equal anxiety-inducing treatment.

If not, then I think she's stupid. But not a gender-traitor.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

As a member of the sidelines, I'd like to thank ERV and the posters here so much for one of the (relatively) few sane takes on this whole shitstorm.

I've noticed that an awful lot of the commenters elsewhere have seen none of the context of this whole thing, and are just running on the attacks posted on Blag Hag, Bad Astronomy, Skepchick, et al. Most have no idea that Stef McGraw even exists. On the occasions where I've bothered to jump in and attempt to provide context, I've been called several kinds of idiot and pelted with all the usual links. Then I post a timeline of events showing the lead-up to and context of, say, Dawkins' remarks, and... hey, where did everybody go? All that's left are the members of the echo-chamber.

Honestly, I've seen a lot of straw-feminists set up by the usual suspects in the past, but some of the posts I've seen in these threads blow right past them into "did I really read that right?" territory. Scary.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I think that if, say, she was walking alone down a Brooklyn sidewalk at 1am and I was walking behind her in the same direction, she would feel more comfortable if I crossed the street to pass her than if I approached and passed on the same side.

If I was walking alone down a Brooklyn sidewalk at 1am and you were walking behind me in the same direction, I would feel more comfortable if you crossed the street to pass me. And I can be mistaken for an ex-pro-running-back. Thats not the question. The question is, would she want you to cross the street because she is a woman? And I dont think she is either lying or mistaken when she says she doesnt. In fact, I think its rather condescending of you to say that you know what she would want in that situation better than her. Which, come to think of it, is a large part of her point.

Or are they ACTUALLY just words, and you're overreacting?

They are ACTUALLY just words, but I am not over-reacting. I merely let Welch know that I had judged him harshly for his use of the word 'cunt' as an insult.

Yes, yes, the connotations are different in Britain. How loverly.
You clearly have no clue how many times the 'cunt and/or bitch' conversation has occured over the last 5-6 years at Pharyngula and elsewhere on the internets. It's not a conversation I'm willing to repeat yet again; it's all out there and you could read it if you wanted to.
I will say that if you think that calling a man a 'wanker' or a silly idea 'bollocks' is comparable to calling somebody a 'cunt' then I suspect you'll never get it anyway. Think social asymmetry.

(fixed a bit)

You are a nut. Maybe leave the Dawkinsing to Dawkins? Because there's no comparison there.

It's precisely this weird anger at merely being asked to consider the viewpoints of other people different from you that I am talking about as narcissism. (If I was a real ideological-dogma-bound radfem I'd call it 'privilege' as well.)

Nobody is trying to take away the rights of anybody else to walk wherever the fuck you want or use whatever fucking words you want. Go ahead! You have every right in the world to behave as a complete jackass if you want.

However, you should also expect to be judged for your behavior; it is reflective of your personality and your opinions and thought-patterns.

When I see somebody who:
- follows a woman onto an elevator at 4am to proposition her
- refuses to alter his walking trajectory to avoid freaking somebody out because he doesn't think people ought to freak out
- insists on his right to call somebody else a cunt in the face of clearly expressed objections
- or otherwise insists on the primacy of one's own personal insular viewpoint despite knowledge of the different viewpoints of others
I conclude that the person is rude, inconsiderate, self-centered, narcissistic, and, in general, an asshole.

Shoe fit?

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

And I dont think she is either lying or mistaken when she says she doesnt.

*shrug*
Stupid, then, I guess.

eh, I'm done here.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sorry Sven, I simply don't buy the idea that men need to treat women as victims like that. I perceive women as human beings and as equals, not victims whom I have to go out of my way to constantly tiptoe around to avoid alarming her. When I pass an unaccompanied woman on a street or get on an elevator with her, I mind my own business, respect her privacy, and act like a gentleman. Nothing more is required. I don't think that makes me a narcissist, or "mysogynist" nor women who agree with me as "liars", "stupid" or "gender traitors" as some like to put it.

#226

"They get to feel that way, I get to ^dis^agree, it's the circle of life."

So does this not apply to what people think about RW's naming the name? And, if not, who decides when it does and when it doesn't?

They're quite free to disagree. I may *think* they are wrong, and have some actual "data" (not in the strict scientific sense) to prove my point that I've not seen from their side, but that doesn't ACTUALLY make them wrong.

It means they agree with someone who, as I see it pulled a dick move.

It's when they start with the *all* disagreement with RW here is wrong that I get kind of cranky. Or the gender-traitor bullshit they're pulling with Stef and ERV. Or the rest. That's bullshit.

I also think that if they really believe the person at the podium doesn't have more power than the audience member, they've either not been at the podium much, or they haven't been an unknown in a while. (PZ saying he has the same power as the person at the podium, even when he is in the audience is NOT the same as a (relatively) unknown student saying it. I'm pretty sure in that situation, with that crowd, PZ is going to have a lot of power due to his fame and history. In a different crowd, he's going to get told to STFU and get the fuck out of the theater, because there, he has no power, nor any ability, in that time and place to speak up.) The power of the podium is real, and so yes, I also get cranky with people denying it exists.

#227

But since you kind of asked my opinion of Grania's comment (whoever that is): I think she's lying. I think that if, say, she was walking alone down a Brooklyn sidewalk at 1am and I was walking behind her in the same direction, she would feel more comfortable if I crossed the street to pass her than if I approached and passed on the same side. I think that in the actual situation in real time her personal safety would suddenly seem more important to her than her high-minded demand for equal anxiety-inducing treatment.

If not, then I think she's stupid. But not a gender-traitor.

Or, maybe she's like a lot of people who understand that personal danger is real, and rather than hoping the rest of the world crosses the street, they accept the risk, and have taken measures, and have tactics in place to handle any stupidity you may wish to attempt. Maybe she doesn't let fear run her life, but rather respects the causes of that feeling, and by preparing for the possibilities, reduces her fear to that of a healthy awareness of her surroundings

I know rather a few women who, on your biggest and baddest day could take your best shot, and if you were stupid enough to leave them conscious, would turn you into the friggin' elephant man, then stick around, loudly screaming for the cops whilst you laid there bleeding. That's if you were lucky.

By the same token, I know a lot of guys who shit themselves every time they're outside after dark. Sex doesn't have a whole lot to do with that. The individual and their background does.

Friend of mine in college long ago got jumped by three dudes in Japan. She's a nigh 6' tall blonde, they figured, they were men, she's a stupid american whore, cake right?

Well for her. Left one dude with a busted femur, another one rather unconscious, and when the cops arrived, she had the third one on his back, her hand around his throat, and was methodically breaking every single one of his ribs. "They just made me mad" was her reasoning. "Everyone else had been so nice, and these assholes were trying to ruin it for the rest of them."

Seems she had a shotokan teacher who didn't believe women were helpless, and refused to treat them as such. My first Kuk Sool teacher was like that. Grip like a fucking steel trap. No mercy in those eyes. Her technique for escaping hair pulling was awesome. Involved damned near twisting the attacker's arm off at the shoulder. Actually, if you did it right, it was supposed to tear the arm off after a couple spins. Dislocations were for the weak.

I know a few local roller derby ladies who could put such a hurt on someone, and even if you hit them widda brick, they might not even notice. High pain tolerances, those wonderful ladies have.

You seem to think that women are really quite helpless as a group. You're rather wrong.

Sven DiMilo@#239

"....or otherwise insists on the primacy of one's own personal insular viewpoint despite knowledge of the different viewpoints of others
I conclude that the person is rude, inconsiderate, self-centered, narcissistic, and, in general, an asshole.

Shoe fit?"

I don't know Sven. What's your size because what you describe is definitely in your style?

By Prometheus (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Phyraxus @ 175:

Because when you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

cf. Zuska.

When I see somebody who:
- follows a woman onto an elevator at 4am to proposition her

is not the same as

- refuses to alter his walking trajectory to avoid freaking somebody out because he doesn't think people ought to freak out

is not the same as

- insists on his right to call somebody else a cunt in the face of clearly expressed objections

is not the same as

- or otherwise insists on the primacy of one's own personal insular viewpoint despite knowledge of the different viewpoints of others

shows you're not listening to anyone who disagrees with you.

I conclude that the person is rude, inconsiderate, self-centered, narcissistic, and, in general, an asshole.

Mirror. You should find one.

Point #1 seems to be causing the most problems. RW/PZ/You take it a certain way. Steff, ERV, others take it another way.

No one is wrong here, but your crowd is doing a good job of pushing the meme that no one is ALLOWED to disagree with you and be anything but a misogynist.

Point #2 just sounds stupid. Do you wander down the street doing that for every woman you see? What if there are women on either side of the street? do you stand in the median until they pass? How does the logistics of that even work? What if you can't tell until you're really close? What's the pass/fail distance? What if they cross the street too? Do you immediately change direction or keep going then cross back or what? I mean, you're pushing this as some kind of good idea, you HAVE to have thought about this before.

(Can you imagine a woman who figured out that someone was doing this and wanted to be a dick about it. I bet you could have ol' Sven perched in the median until daybreak if you worked it right.)

Point #3 I have the "right" to call anyone whatever the fuck I want provided I am willing to live with the consequences, from an equally profane retort, to mass shunning, to the person I called a cunt balling up a fist and beating my ass. Or someone else attempting to do the same. But the "right" to call someone a cunt is the same "right" as I have to call someone a genius.

Point #4 Right, because only your viewpoint is the right one, all others are illegitimate, sexist, bigoted and misogynistic. it's that we won't acknowledge the primacy of YOUR viewpoint that matters. How DARE we gore YOUR ox.

I do not think that disagreeing with people about what is and isn't prudent behavior and what is or isn't 'victim blaming' is the same thing as consciously refusing to take others' perspectives and feelings into account.

Those are not mutually exclusive, surely? All of us dismiss other's perspectives and feelings occasionally. For example: people who declare they are atheists despite knowing that it will hurt Granny's feelings.

...I think that in the actual situation in real time her personal safety would suddenly seem more important to her than her high-minded demand for equal anxiety-inducing treatment.

But your crossing the street does fuck all to improve her actual "personal safety", so maybe as a skeptic she is willing to endure some passing anxiety? (Is there some place where people are actually expected to cross the street as a general rule? Brooklyn?)

@Sven

"Yes, yes, the connotations are different in Britain. How loverly.

Is it wrong that I'm kinda excited about being vilified by Sven? Anyhow, looks like I'm commited to the semantics argument, so here goes...

I will say that if you think that calling a man a 'wanker' or a silly idea 'bollocks' is comparable to calling somebody a 'cunt' then I suspect you'll never get it anyway. Think social asymmetry.

Oh my, the irony in this sentence is SO beautiful. So, calling someone a "wanker" (no, let's go with "bell-end", since it directly applies to male genitalia which makes it more pertinent, plus it makes me titter more) is sort of fine, but calling someone a colloquial name for female genitalia is just plain wrong?

How is that not the kind of social asymmetry you just mentioned?

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

"I will say that if you think that calling a man a 'wanker' or a silly idea 'bollocks' is comparable to calling somebody a 'cunt' then I suspect you'll never get it anyway. "

YOU MIGHT THINK ITS SILLY, BUT I AM A MAN AND IT OFFENDS ME! THESE ARE WORDS DERIVED FROM MALE SEXUAL ORGANS AND ARE DEMEANING TO ALL MEN REGARDLESS OF THEIR USAGE! THE FACT THAT YOU CAN'T SEE THAT MEANS YOU JUST DON'T "GET IT" BECAUSE YOU ARE A RAVING MISANDRIST ASSHOLE!

Dammit, Prometheus, you beat me to it :(

I've been reading ERV off and on for a while now, trying to educate myself on her area of expertise through e-osmosis. Little did I suspect that it would turn out to be the blog where the saner voices would be heard in this teapot tempest.

// I was especially impressed by Justicar's posts. And also by that asshole, John Cunt Welsh.

By frank habets (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

How dare that Arab boarded a plane with American tourists on it. Doesn't he know that he's causing those Americans to feel alarmed or afraid for their safety? If he was an American-sensitive Arab, he would have the courtesy to take the next plane that has a bunch of other Arabs on it.
Wow, what a narcissist!

John C. Welsh:
Yeah, it would be a rare occasion for the police to need to get involved. Less severe for security, or some "official" to politely ask someone to leave. However, I don't think anyone who attends conferences as an audience member does so under the premise that they're on equal footing with The Speaker who's been specifically requested by the event organizers to be The Speaker.

Certainly, anyone who's been The Speaker should know full well that the prearranged time period for whatever lecture, or talk, or whatever is Their Time. If one doesn't have that kind of "I'm in charge for the next hour", I'm curious to see how a speech like that would turn out.

But just assume a really, really stupid audience member is there. That doesn't remove the knowledge from The Speaker that s/he is The Shit for the next 50 minutes. The really, really stupid audience member would find out one way or another who owns that particular talk - asked to leave, thrown out, shouted down by everyone else, over-talked by The Speaker. Meh. There are many ways to handle it, but I think we're ultimately agreed that no matter what happens, audience member loses.

And at this very event, a man got escorted out by either the police or security (I couldn't tell which) for shouting during a session at Richard Dawkins "and making profit". Surely, news of that would have spread around the convention.

All of that being what it is, we still have the case that Stef McGraw reacted with perfect grace and respect for the event. I think she's owed an apology. Hell, if she shows this kind of discernment, and careful thought about things, I'd like to hear her presenting instead of . . . well, you know.

@Justicar

I agree, about Stef McGraw, that lass has handled this with grace and aplomb, when she had every right to go batshit. Soooooo, the good thing that's come out of this shitstorm is that she's proven she's got both the smarts and the attitude to go VERY far.

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

The Panic Man:
Thank you for approaching us to let us know to stay away from you since, you know, none of us bothered to walk over to you in the first case. But I'll take the hint and continue not trying to find you. You're welcome.

[/equip tinfoil hat
+5 intellect
+10 spell power
+50 sexual charisma]

I must, again, register my disagreement with some who castigate Ms Watson for her behaviour.

Propositioning someone for sex (and I was not initially aware that the offer of 'coffee' was actually a thinly veiled request to begin an intimate liaison) at any time, let alone at 4am alone in a elevator, is immoral and wrong.

The two were not married!

Or indeed, even in a relationship.

That is not to say that Ms Watson is a moral/righteous person (as an atheist she is most certainly not).

But she is right to call people out for excusing this! The sexual mores of our times are abhorrent.

Mr. Pete Rooke

By Pete Rooke (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I see I was beaten to the tin-foil hat thing. Damn you!

John C. Welch:
I don't know what your experience is with cunts, but the only one I got near I wiggled away as fast as possible. Hell, so fast, they had to my mom open because I was. not. touching. that. cooter.

Rooke is funny

Stupid, then, I guess.

So, you think a woman is stupid for valuing stopping the infantilization of women over reducing her own personal anxiety.

Im glad you are "done here," I dont think feminism could stand much more of your "help."

Rooke, I don't speak for everyone here, but I agree with you to some extent. What the EG did was a bit socially clumsy and inappropriate, in my opinion. I can understand how RW would feel uncomfortable. It's not something I would do. I agree that context is important in social situations.

What I don't agree with is how this whole thing turned into a cause célèbre for radical feminism. There are people suggesting now that it would have been wrong for EG to even get on the elevator with RW in the first place, even if he said nothing and minded his own business -- and those who dare to to disagree, male or female, are condemned as mysogynists or "gender traitors". I really find that quite disturbing.

Frank Habets @ 240:
If you think I'm a voice of sanity, reason or even coherent thoughts, I pity you, my friend. Like my grandfather once remarked when a car coming head-on veered into our lane: that man's either drunk or drives like me. In either case, god help'm. I think there's a parallel here.

@226:
I don't want to be the one to break this to you, but I do not get the impression that anyone here is arguing about whether using someone's name is appropriate or inappropriate. Indeed, we've been discussing the circumstances under which it's inappropriate. That would imply, at base, we're all agreed that naming names isn't categorically wrong. Yes, you're not following the conversation we're having.

@228 Wild zontargs:
The nature of the discussion depends on what people want out of it. For the most part, the blog host sets the tone by what they write. Sure, snark is fun and I don't mind a good flame war now and again. But here, there seems to be a happy mixture of levity, sarcasm and wit. But all of that is interspersed among actual conversation to see about fleshing (teehee) out the contours of the issues.

So, if learning something (hopefully anyway; I'd be sad if I didn't) or possibly teaching someone something (a great honor) is your goal, then you have to look long and hard on the internet. If you want to just prattle away about a topic where the words are forgotten as soon as they appear, type a random word and put .com after it. You'll be in the right spot.

So long as this remains true, I'll hang out here as long as they'll have me (even if I don't get voted in as Gay Mascot).

@243 Marco:
I completely agree. Let's say she was dead to rights wrong on everything she's ever said: she's curious, and serious where necessary. Given those traits alone, she'll do well at whatever she turns her hand to.

@245 Pete:
How puritanical! What do you think this is, the USA or something?

Honestly, if I was Stef McGraw, I would be suing RW for defamation. The person's name is now associated with rape and misogyny because of RW and her "white knighting" spambots. Potential employers now read RW's horseshit about male power structure just by googling the name.

Stef is clearly a private figure that was publicly defamed during a public event on a private issue. Most states have found a minor blog isn't sufficient to make one a public figure. The vast majority of her speech concerned not an issue of public importance, but personal attacks directed at a private person.

Sue her.

Tom,
They were in Ireland. No state's laws on this matter control; they lack both personal and subject matter jurisdiction I should think.

I know I should be aiming at more challenging targets than this, but I couldn't resist, and anyway Gummi de Milo has already been torn to shreds by everyone else. The Panic Man sez:

Stay the fuck away from women, and stay the fuck away from me.

Huzzah! Brave, valiant "the panic man" will boldly protect the fair young maidens by doing his best to prevent them from being able to talk to men that he personally deems unsuitable. Whether they like it or not.

Hmm, actually, on spelling it out, that sounds all patriarchal and... well... creepy.

It is funny, well not haha funny, but strange, that the most common argument put forward promotes the idea of vulnerable, weak women that need protecting. That must be delicately handled, and not offended. Not only is it supremely patriarchal and patronising, it is exactly the line of argument used by the likes of Muslim Imams for the oppression of women in the middle east.

As many sensible posters have pointed out here, that a few "good guys" cross the road to avoid worrying the solo female does nothing to reduce the actual number of assaults on women (or men for that matter), it just serves to reinforce irrational fear of strangers rather than promoting a rational handling of real life risks. How does that help anyone?

Richard Dawkins was ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY MOLESTED, and he has the ability to say "Compared to what happened to other kids, it wasnt that big of a deal."

Interesting, for me it casts his commentary in a slightly new light.

I still think Dawkins' opening gambit was not a good one. For example, I give to a local cats charity and people have asked me how I can do that when there are starving children in the world. Yeah, but it isn't an either-or situation. It makes no sense to direct all of our resources to the single worst problem of the day.

That said - I still think Dawkins' had a point, he just used an opener to the debate that was a sitting duck. And of course, after his opening gambit was swept aside, the whole debate became so incoherent nothing else was heard through the Pharyngulean jibber-jabber.

But knowing that he himself was abused, and that he dismissed it as unimportant compared to other things in the world today, does shine a new light on his comments.

Spence-- I know, right? Even I feel like an asshole.

Im sure all the victims of sexual assault demanding apologies will feel terrible about assuming that since Dawkins disagreed with them, since Dawkins is a *man*, he must not have ever been sexually assaulted himself. Thats a pretty ugly mirror theyre going to have to look into.

Dawkins was molested as a child and that affected the way he views similar situations. I'm surprised that this is much more complicated than it seemed. As a skeptic I'm shocked things have nuances SHOCKED!

By tas121790 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

this entire episode has reminded me that many are willing to be skeptical of the old gods (ie organized religion in the forms of most versions of christianity and islam), but skepticism of identity politics, critical studies or large swaths of feminist theory are verboten. and that pz, watson, the bad astronomer, laden et al are just as likely to be as rigid and dogmatic in these realms as the priests and mullahs in theirs.

pz's peevishness on this topic is actually more vicious than my mormon grandfather ever has been to my atheism. his shown himself to be a dogmatic and petty asshat of little value to skepticism.

thank you for this post.

Oh, don't bother whining, bigot ERV - I've killfiled you for your sexist shit.

So you write you kill-filed her, yet you come to her blog to post this. Jesus you're fucking stupid. No wonder you're on Watson's side. Hey do you juggle too?

While reading the pandering missives of Herr Myers and his traveling troop of feces slinging monkeys, I wondered whether Abbie would post her thoughts about the unaccomplished Watson's blatant attention whoring, hypocrisy, and bullying. Thankfully, she did and I'm not the least bit surprised hers was the most cogent and sane response on the matter. I'm also not surprised the thought police would call her a gender traitor and try to revoke her "vagina license". Pathetic.

>250 "I don't want to be the one to break this to you, but I do not get the impression that anyone here is arguing about whether using someone's name is appropriate or inappropriate. ... Yes, you're not following the conversation we're having."

Oh, here, no. But have you been following other blogs discussing the matter? Those are where you'll find disagreement with the consensus here. I guess I assumed that was obvious. It's why I said that naming the name is the only thing that everyone â meaning, here and on other blogs â agrees happened.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I was doing such a good job of not commenting on any of this nonsense anywhere, and then I read #213 and now I just can't resist. Okay, so I could. And I'll feel absolutely silly for not doing so, but oh well...

Even if it's 1 AM...

Even if it's Friday the 13th...

Even if it's a new moon...

Even if we're walking on a street in Hell...

Even if (why not?) I'm covered in blood for some reason...

...you can cross to the other side of the street yourself if it bothers you so much that I might pass you while we're on the same side of the street.

By Stephen Bahl (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Thats disappointing, Phyraxus.

Also, sorry to the people getting caught in the spam traps. I dont see anything wrong with your comments, I just think ERV is sick of this crap (not you, just this topic in general).

You all should number your replies with names, just in case this keeps happening.

(Sorry if this is a double-post: my browser crashed when I clicked "post" the first time. Also I pretty much forgot how I said it.)

>250 "I don't want to be the one to break this to you, but I do not get the impression that anyone here is arguing about whether using someone's name is appropriate or inappropriate. ... Yes, you're not following the conversation we're having."

I admit I was flippant at the beginning of #198. But the whole thing wasn't commenting about naming, it was commenting about the allegation that RW exercised asymmetrical power. While the consensus here is pretty much that RW was asymmetrically powerful, if you look at other blogs, you will find vehement disagreement, such that the only thing that everyone â meaning, here and on other blogs â agrees happened is that RW named someone. And, absent asymmetrical power, the naming is the only thing left to deprive RW of Decent Human Beingness according to the OP here. Which would be silly. Which is both why I was flippant, and why I wanted to point out that the asymmetrical power thing should not be taken as a given.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

@Phyraxus 263
Dawkins should sign that letter.

By tas121790 (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

tas121790 wins the internet.

Ive got a bucket of internets, people. Keep em comin!

Phyraxis @263

I'm not surprised. I don't go 'round Greg Laden's blog or Almost Diamonds anymore, since the authors of both have deleted comments of mine because I had the audacity to disagree with them and not knuckle under and take it back. My limit for that sort of shit is once (well, for the unrepentant).

It's sad that people really act like that. I genuinely cannot follow their reasoning... well, unless they were fumbling about for Rystefn repellant and one accidentally stumbled upon it, so the other immediately followed.

Also, apparently, someone has been following my comments back to my blog, so I guess I should make a post about it so they won't be disappointed. After dinner, probably.

Phyraxus:
I was following your discussion elsewhere. I was amused by a post there.

Erv:
I don't want to say I told you so, but I did tell you it wouldn't vindicate Dawkins.

"Aw, Phyraxus, that was you leaving the anonymous comment on my blog? How very brave of you. Yes, Dawkins was sexually assaulted as a child. This makes it fine that he doesn't understand that grown men and women face different threats how?" -Stephanie Z

" FYI, Richard Dawkins is a victim of sexual assault.

Translation: "LOOK! Over there!"

Pathetic." Sallystrange

@Pharyxus:

After years of being a cynical bastard, you'd think I'd have learned, by now, NOT to find it incredibly bloody depressing that asshats like StephanieZ refuse to listen to any form of logic or, in fact, anything that's not generated in their own heads.

Well, ye tried dude. Want some painkillers? I mean you're were smacking your head against that brick wall pretty bloody hard!

@tas121790 #266:

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd I'm cheered up again! Ta dude. lol

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

I dont know how anyone could not feel like an asshole after learning about Dawkins past.

I mean, I cant get on my high-horse at all-- I didnt know about this until this morning, and even I didnt even *consider* the possibility Dawkins himself has had to deal with something like this. I feel like a gigantic douche, and I wasnt saying "You dont understand sexual assault because you are a rich white heterosexual male!"

@ERV #271:

I know what you mean, but I tell ya what, it's given me a whole new level of respect for the man.

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-professor-dawkins-…

That's really some fucked up character assassination campaign. I mean..
When friend of mine recently told me that he thinks that some parts of secular movements became quite cult-like..i thought that he is crazy. Now i am not sure about that...
But I am getting tired of this BS...and iam getting a lot of cynical and misanthropic thoughts right now..shit.

I remember reading that post of his back when he wrote it but I didn't remember that he had been abused when everyone was screaming "privileged misogynist" at him. Cruel irony that is.

As for those asshats, near the end there I just WANTED to be misogynistic to piss them off but decided against it. Because they couldn't refute my logic they said to me what misogynists say to them.

"ITS NOT THAT BAD, SO STFU!"

Cruel irony this is too.

It's funny, first they make broad generalizations. Then when you call them out on their bullshit they refine their argument. When you destroy that, they deflect to another topic or move the goalpost. After that fails, I got the "not so bad, stfu."

Fundies are fundies, religious or not.

I conclude that the person is rude, inconsiderate, self-centered, narcissistic, and, in general, an asshole.
Heywaitaminute... Wasn't Dawkins labelled a huge, inconsiderate, misogynistic, dismissive, poopy-headed jerkface for asking someone not to lay down so many profanities in their replies to him?

@Phyraxus #274

You have no idea how much I was desperate, DESPERATE I TELL YA, to leave my one and only post on that thread, and have it say "TITS OR GTFO", just to make Steph and Sally fucking livid...

I figured if I was going to go out, I was going out in a blaze of glory. But yes, my self-preservation instinct kicked in, too.

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

LOL i didnt think about tits or gtfo

for some reason sugartits came to mind

re: #273, @thememe, it IS absolutely fucked up. Trying to turn Dawkins words into those of a rape apologist is the most disgusting thing I've seen in a long time. And I completely agree with your friend's sentiments on the matter regarding the cult-like elements of some parts of the secular movement. A quick trip to a few of the more famous blogs proves it beyond all doubt. Thankfully, there are a few sane people speaking out against it though. Thanks Abbie, Miranda and Stef.

BAHAHAHAHAHA! It's a good job there's no hell, or we'd be going there. :P

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Naw, everyone knows god is a misogynist so we'd fit right in up there in heaven :P

I think sugartits came to mind because it has just the right amount of sexism, objectification, and condescension. As in, "Keep up the good work, sugartits!" then a tasteful office slap to the rear. Funny thing is, my ex-gf watched Mad Men and that shit is CRAZY misogynist. I never really got into it.

LOL aye.

What we've therefore done tonight is, essentially, have completely futile arguments with people, and laugh sundry bits off.

So, average night on the internet, really!

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 07 Jul 2011 #permalink

Hi Abby,
Iâm preparing a keynote address, and I wanted to ask for pointers on the title. It is:

âHatred and bigotry in the atheist community: Is my (former!) best friend Jeff Doe acting as a mouthpiece for Nazi-fascist ideology? (Yes, Jeff, Iâm talking about you.)â

Thereâs nothing that could be construed as âpassive aggressiveâ in there, right?? You mightâve noticed that I sort of call someone out by name, but thatâs just because I respect him so much. You see, it's really a question of respect. Itâs clear from the wording that Iâm just a hard-nosed skeptic who calls things like I see them. You know, cause thatâs just how we skeptics role! Right????

Justicar:

I don't want to say I told you so, but I did tell you it wouldn't vindicate Dawkins.

Sure, and I'm not surprised about this either. This is how cognitive dissonance works. When new evidence arrives, you don't change your belief, you rationalise how that evidence fits in with your existing belief, no matter how contorted the logic is to get you there.

"FYI, Richard Dawkins is a victim of sexual assault. Translation: 'LOOK! Over there!' Pathetic." Sallystrange

Let's get the sequence of events that led to this straight. Dawkins wrote a post that trivialised the elevator incident. RW's buddies immediately extrapolated from that something that Dawkins absolutely did not say - that he belittled their sexual abuse or rape. He obviously said nothing of the sort, but that doesn't matter to them.

Then, when people point out that Dawkins himself is the victim of abuse, SallyStrange trivialises his experience.

That is: SallyStrange is guilty of exactly the thing that RW's team are accusing Richard Dawkins of.

The only problem is, in Dawkins case, he simply didn't do what they claim he did. And the irony that SallyStrange implicitly accuses Dawkins of playing the victim card is not lost on me either.

Oh evidence, you are such a fickle creature.

As many sensible posters have pointed out here, that a few "good guys" cross the road to avoid worrying the solo female does nothing to reduce the actual number of assaults on women (or men for that matter)

And anyway, any difference that makes in her anxiety level should be trivial compared to the fact that she is walking down the street alone at night in the first place. I don't think women should be called stupid if they choose to do something like that, but ironically this is one of the issues that has frequently caused Sven to run afoul of almost everyone else at Pharyngula.

258:

Hey, don't hating on juggling just because some stupids do it. We just ignore them.

277,278,281

There's also the Carlin version:

"you wanna have a really good time? Walk into a feminist meeting and yell out "HEY! WHICH ONE OF YOU CUPCAKES WANTS TO GIVE ME A BLOWJOB? They like it when you're direct!"

>285 "As many sensible posters have pointed out here, that a few "good guys" cross the road to avoid worrying the solo female does nothing to reduce the actual number of assaults on women"

Where has it been suggested that crossing the road is intended to reduce assaults? My impression was that it is simply intended to reassure the woman that the road-crosser isn't stalking her.

I can assure you that the anxiety difference can be substantial. It's the difference between an uneasy "please let me get there safely" and an acute "OMFG maybe this is the time it happens, oh god what should I do".

---------

Anyway, what I really came here this morning to say:

So now we know that Dawkins was molested as a boy.

(1) Does that really authorize him to decide when another is justified in speaking out, any more than anyone else? The larger question being, are overtly similar events not mediated by considerations such as gender identity, which themselves affect one's sense of personhood?

This is not to dismiss Dawkins' experience, but rather to contextualize it. Otherwise we risk a simplistic hierarchy of authority without regard for competence.

(2) Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed by others through coitus-colored lenses, and with the possibility of being molested again always in the back of his mind?

Not looking for answers; just wishing some of you would give some thought to these things.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Where has it been suggested that crossing the road is intended to reduce assaults?

It was suggested that a woman was stupid for not wanting men to cross the street to protect her "personal safety". It was then pointed out that this does nothing to reduce the risk of actual attack. Are women stupid for not demanding an illusion of safety?

"So now we know that Dawkins was molested as a boy.

(1) Does that really authorize him to decide when another is justified in speaking out, any more than anyone else?"

YES.

Why?

Because, by the very arguments that RD has been belittled and railed against have included "you're a privileged male and have no clue about how bad it is to be sexually assaulted".

Seems like he DOES know what it's like to be sexually assaulted.

"(2) Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed by others through coitus-colored lenses"

YES.

Every single male who has heard that women think all men are potential rapitsts know that they're being looked at through coitus-coloured lenses.

What do you think "rape" is? A type of plant?

AND YES AGAIN:

EG asked for a coffee. This, apparently, means I want to put my willy in you. Smacks rather of the Monty Python sketch: "Weeyl yooo foondool mai boot ooks?" "Yes, take the third right, past the post office and second on the left".

"I can assure you that the anxiety difference can be substantial."

And my anxiety difference can be substantial too. Except that I'm not allowed to call you a gender traitor and insist that you hand your todger in., nor allowed to jump from "You CAN say no to a proposition for a date" to "All women are frigid bitches" and if told that this is a vile calumny, get a hoard of screamers yelling at you calling you a molester.

It's very anxiety producing, not being able to tell a woman that "no" means "yes".

Does that mean we should push for a society where men can do that? A society that is sensitive to the male anxieties and fears about being told "no"?

Or, rather, should I get over it, just like a woman who is anxious because a man doesn't cross the other side of the street late at night, no matter how much safer she feels about it?

I said something like this on the other post, but the Gawker article reinforces it. I miss the days of people like Carl Sagan and Martin Gardner and Isaac Asimov. In the modern skeptical movement, Sagan would be called an accommodationist, Gardner an idiot, and Asimov a sexist. God forbid they try to post a pharyngula--between begin called Cupcakes and handed rotting porcupines, they wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise.

>289, Wow: "Every single male who has heard that women think all men are potential rapitsts know that they're being looked at through coitus-coloured lenses."

Excellent point, well-taken, and one I have not yet internalized (obviously). Permit me to restate, articulating my unspoken assumption: Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed through coitus-colored glasses by people with the ability to (try to) make it happen if they so wish, some of whom actually do?

As for your response to anxiety difference, I may just be dense but I have no idea what you are getting at.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

"So because there âpresumablyâ âwould have beenâ an âopportunityâ to talk (RW could have blurted out a few words about the weather while EG was yanking her pants down) therefore EG was not sending the message that he was interested in her only for sex?!"

So Ophelia Benson can visualize him pulling down her pants. This is the madness I can't understand. How do you make these leaps??? Maybe a few people were or were not rude to other people. The end.

Per advice from ERV I'm numbering and naming this reply.

I'm calling it Princess Pricella Jellywompkins II.

Yeah, I know, Abbie. I was just pointing it out earlier before I even bothered to read what was going to be said about it. I was fairly confident that it wouldn't mean one bit to most people opposite. Surprised I am not.

I think even if we held Dawkins down and gang raped him with concrete dildos while chewing gum it wouldn't count to these people. Even if Dawkins managed to come through it without having some immortal fear of chewing gum or concrete dildos.

It's not that people are saying "you're not entitled to feel uncomfortable, or to look after your own safety" or anything of the sort. It's more in the vein of, "just because you're uncomfortable doesn't mean we owe you some ridiculous deference, and you are not entitled to make that demand" with a little bit "there are people who were actually being victimized right that second. You simply were not one of them - sorry that you weren't really being a victim to justify playing that card."

But, apparently, I've crossed a line to becoming persona non grata for Tone reasons. So long as the vitriol is in a direction some people like it to go, it's all fine and well, and needs to be done. Free speech and all that jazz. Take Ophelia Benson's comments to me on Miranda's blog.

The fucking second someone uses language she finds objectionable, well, now you've gone too far and need sensitivity training. Let's see if her tone, and the tone she supports atheists having towards the religious changes in her future work, for consistency's sake.

I knew going into this taking the derisive track I chose towards Rebecca Watson would not be without its consequences. One consequence I wasn't expecting is the making of hypocrites and/or liars out of some people.

Oddly enough, on my blog only three people have clicked the "I hate you" option on the post ratings. Most people at the start were clicking "no mouse". Now it's fairly well dead even between "funny" and "let's fuck"

Spence, if you're aiming to say that your comments extended beyond this blog, then I'll happily concede that point. And I'm sorry if I didn't read what you wrote in the way you were aiming to mean. Going back over it, I see that I too narrowly read it, and I apologize for that.

"Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed through coitus-colored glasses by people with the ability to (try to) make it happen if they so wish, some of whom actually do?"

Yes.

Women are looking at Richard Dawkins like he's a rapist. Rape is coitus, unrequested, but still coitus. And ask Julian Assange about how that assertion can make it (arrest, vilification, guilt-assumption) happen.

PS when you find yourself having to narrow down your question until you get to precisely one scenario, maybe your question isn't about asking for an answer but a question begging a conclusion, a' la Glen Beck "I'm not accusing, just asking the question".

"Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed through coitus-colored glasses by people with the ability to (try to) make it happen if they so wish, some of whom actually do?"

Plus YES. Someone DID look at Dawkins and DID make it happen.

You know, all that kiddie fiddling? Remember that?

So, yes it DID happen.

And there are priests out there kiddie fiddling little boys today.

There are women teachers who are even today instigating sexual encounters with male pupils. Those men are being objectified. Yet if they complain: "What are you? GAY???".

So YES, in the specific case of Dawkins, he HAS been looked at through coitus-coloured glasses by someone who can and did make it happen.

So, given the rapidly expanding semi-mainstream coverage, a tiff over a blog response to a Youtube video about being invited up for coffee has turned into a massive character assassination attempt on Dawkins. Based on comments which are almost exclusively shown without a scrap of the original context involving Stef McGraw and the intended purpose Rebecca's talk.

This is just sad.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Peter @ 292:

So Ophelia Benson can visualize him pulling down her pants.

IOW, she is sexually objectifying him? In a negative sense, to be sure, but that would seem to be the conclusion.

Justicar, with reference to your comment #Princess Pricella Jellywompkins II

Wait, what? I'm confused!??! Have we disagreed on something? I must have missed that. Or, more likely, I wrote some gibberish which could have been read in about ten different ways. I'm pretty sure so far I've meant to agree with you in any post I've written. I may just have not made that clear. And something tells me this paragraph that I am writing has probably confused things even more.

What were we talking about again?

>294

I don't think your argument leads where you think it does.

PS How long do I have to wait before it's acceptable to post clarification? Or am I stuck forever with an overstatement once it's been pointed out?

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

>295, Wow: " 'Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed through coitus-colored glasses by people with the ability to (try to) make it happen if they so wish, some of whom actually do?'

Plus YES. Someone DID look at Dawkins and DID make it happen.

You know, all that kiddie fiddling? Remember that?"

Perhaps you could re-read what I wrote. Specifically the "adult life" part. Unless kiddie = adult now.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

So, given the rapidly expanding semi-mainstream coverage, a tiff over a blog response to a Youtube video about being invited up for coffee has turned into a massive character assassination attempt on Dawkins. Based on comments which are almost exclusively shown without a scrap of the original context involving Stef McGraw and the intended purpose Rebecca's talk.

THIS!

The McGraw thing is what pissed me off the most and made me dislike Watson (up to this point I hadn't heard of her). It's a shame that this has become a feminism thing instead of a Watson-abused-her-position thing.

#287, drbubbles
Where has it been suggested that crossing the road is intended to reduce assaults?

Thank you, drbubbles, for fixing my error. There I was, with others here, trying to figure out what might fix real world, measurable, testable problems in a way that actually reduces harm. When instead, I could be trying to solve imaginary, untestable problems that exist in people's heads.

The slight issue here is that I am not sufficiently arrogant to think I know what is going on in people's heads, nor am I equipped with any kind of telepathic skills. Furthermore, many people lack empathy (Rebecca Watson springs to mind here) and are likely to do exactly the wrong thing. Indeed, if you go around trying to second guess what goes through people's mind and try mitigating their emotions through your actions, I suspect you'll get it wrong as often as you get it right. Net gain: zero. But the gain would be untestable anyway. So it doesn't really matter.

"I can assure you that the anxiety difference can be substantial."
I can assure you that the anxiety that someone who suffers from triskaidekaphobia can also be substantial. However, the solution is not to eradicate the number thirteen from the universe. You're solving the wrong problem

"Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed by others through coitus-colored lenses, and with the possibility of being molested again always in the back of his mind?"

Ah, now this is a lovely example of the type of contorted logic I was referring to in #284 when talking about cognitive dissonance as the mechanism for rejecting Dawkins' sexual assault. The new evidence jars with prior beliefs. So a discriminator is required: a reason why there is a difference between Dawkins and others who have experienced sexual assault. This difference (outlined in the quote above) is then used to justify a dismissal of this new evidence (Dawkins' assault can be dismissed, essentially, because he is a man). The jarring evidence is thus dispatched. The beauty of the choice here is that the reason for dispatch is based on emotions and feelings, i.e. once again untestable, thereby unlikely to ever be challenged again.

I'm not saying drbubbles is suffering from cognitive dissonance. I can't know that. But that would be an examplar symptom.

"Not looking for answers"
Trust me, drbubbles, when I say I believe you to your word when you say you are not looking for answers. I really do.

287:

Where has it been suggested that crossing the road is intended to reduce assaults? My impression was that it is simply intended to reassure the woman that the road-crosser isn't stalking her.

I can assure you that the anxiety difference can be substantial. It's the difference between an uneasy "please let me get there safely" and an acute "OMFG maybe this is the time it happens, oh god what should I do".

WHY would this reassure anyone with a functional brain? Tactically, it makes it easier to get behind someone because now you've passed out of their direct/peripheral vision, and can take your time sneaking up on them. Seriously, that should make you feel no safer at all. Unless you're completely delusional about personal safety.

Again, HOW DO YOU IMPLEMENT THIS. Do you do this for every woman you see? What if where you're going is five meters behind her? You cross the street, then immediately cross back? What if there are women on either side of the street? What then?

You and others keep pushing this meme, you clearly believe it has actual functional benefit, SURELY you can explain the details of how this works.

Same thing with the elevator. Take another one. Shit, another single woman. Fuck, wait more. Oops, that one already has a single woman in it, DEAR CHRIST WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO GET BACK TO MY ROOM AND TAKE THIS WICKED SHIT I GOTTA TAKE?

It's amazing how stupid this kind of shit sounds when you take ten seconds to actually think about it. I prefer the longer term solution that ERV herself has implemented: Don't be helpless. Don't walk around unable to fend for yourself. Don't think that being so physically weak, (barring actual medical issues of course) that you cannot even begin to defend yourself is a good thing.

Learn to take AND THROW a punch. This is a HUGE issue when teaching women martial arts. As long as it's shadowboxing, they're awesome. But getting them to where an actual shot to the head doesn't destroy their will to survive, and to where they will unapologetically throw a friggin' blow, and if it happens to knock their opponent loopy, "shit that was cool", is really, really hard. QUite often, it's the punching that's harder to manage than taking a punch.

Be able to beat feet the fuck out of a situation, at least be able to drop yo' shit and haul ass for 100-200m. If you like to wear heels, at least once in your life, run in them. Maybe practice getting the fuck out of them.

(Yes, I think about all these things. It's why I dislike certain kinds of mens shoes. No traction.)

In other words, while we undertake the longer task of getting people to behave better, make being a victim as fucking hard as possible.

No, this does not do shit for children, or other people physically unable to defend themselves.

(although I taught my 8 year old son how to rain high holy hell on anyone who broke in the house when he was home alone. "Wait, I can throw things at them?" "Yep. I recommend glass and knives. Also scream like a banshee, and try to drive your fingers through their eyes." "What if i kick them in the balls" "nah, that's crap, it's too easy to manage that, it's just pain. But you jam your fingers in their eyes, they're blind. Then you can stab the bastards." "Won't I get in trouble with the police?" "Little dude, i promise you this: a grownup breaks into your house, trying to do you harm, and you leave them broken, blind and bleeding on the ground, you won't get in trouble, you'll get a medal." "Will they hit me if I do this?" "I won't lie, they might. But you never stop fighting. You make it suck so ungodly much to do you harm, you make them crawl over broken glass and fire to do you harm, and you may not escape unscathed, but you'll be alive, and you'll be reasonably whole, and that is of PARAMOUNT importance to me. What happens to the guy that broke in? I could care less. You always win with me man. Just try not to burn down the building. Fire's a pain in the ass, it causes paperwork" Once he realized that it was not only okay, but expected that he would do whatever it took to get out of a bad situation alive, and that I'd absolutely support him in it, his fear levels of being home by himself dropped. He realized he was not helpless against someone trying to do him harm, and that he was, as small and skinny as he was, able to stand up for his own safety. )

The idea, the concept, that women are somehow *helpless* against men, that they are helpless children unable to defend themselves other than by waiting for men and society to remove the danger of the world from them is so *viscerally* repugnant to me, that I cannot properly describe it. We ALWAYS work to make things better as a group, but as individuals, we make damned sure that if those efforts fail, we are not helpless victims.

So now we know that Dawkins was molested as a boy.

(1) Does that really authorize him to decide when another is justified in speaking out, any more than anyone else? The larger question being, are overtly similar events not mediated by considerations such as gender identity, which themselves affect one's sense of personhood?

This is not to dismiss Dawkins' experience, but rather to contextualize it. Otherwise we risk a simplistic hierarchy of authority without regard for competence.

Da fuck? That's what most of the screaming ninnies are saying. "WE WERE VICTIMS OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT, WE ARE RIGHT ABOUT THIS, ALL ARGUMENT IS MANSPLAINING AND MISOGYNY BY PEOPLE WHO CANNOT UNDERSTAND OUR PAIN."

All of a sudden, it turns out that Dawkins CAN understand it, HAS been there, and has simply chosen not to let that incident dominate his life. What's the reaction? "HIS EXPERIENCE DOESN'T MAKE HIM AN EXPERT, IT DOESN'T COUNT. ONLY WOMEN OR MEN WHO WERE VICTIMS AND AGREE IN LOCKSTEP WITH US COUNT."

Fuck. That.

Shit, i'm waiting for someone to say that since he only got fondled once, it doesn't count. Only actual vaginal or ass penetration counts. It hasn't happened yet, thank reason, but I'm confident.

(2) Has Dawkins spent his adult life being assessed by others through coitus-colored lenses, and with the possibility of being molested again always in the back of his mind?

So because Dawkins didn't let fear of a repeat performance rule his life, his experience is invalidated?

THis shit, THIS is why I don't talk much about my own abuse. Because as soon as it becomes clear that you only say you were a "victim" in the dictionary sense, and you stopped thinking of yourself as one years ago, and in the case of the man once turned into a newt "I got better", you don't count. The people who managed to live through varying levels and lengths of hell and now see that as something that happened, but it's over, and while we can't forget it, (nor should we), we will.not.let it coat our lives in fear and shame?

We're somehow not *really* victims. Well, go fuck yourself on that one. Yeah, shit went down for me, dawkins, and probably a lot more people than you think. Definitely more men than you think. I dated a woman, still one of my best friends who was repeatedly raped by her stepbrother, and abused by her father for years. She refused to play that broken bird shit, and if you tried to treat her like one, she'd unleash a truly withering torrent of "Go Fuck Yourself You Arrogant, Condescending Shithead" on you.

Just because you were a victim at one time doesn't mean you have to be a victim for the rest of your life. But at some point, you, the person, has to decide for yourself: "Do I let fear rule my days, or do I kick fear in the fucking neck and get on with my goddamned life?"

If you're saving pictures of yourself with black eyes and burn marks, fear has won.

I've noticed that the discussion has changed its focus. It is now all about "Elevator Guy's Influence on 21st Century Feminism". Whatever happened to simply excoriating Rebecca Watson for being a petty bitch who abused her podium power to belittle Stef? In this context, EG is a side issue that takes the spotlight off of Watson's immature behaviour. And I'm sure she likes it that way.

By frank habets (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

"Perhaps you could re-read what I wrote. Specifically the "adult life" part."

Perhaps you could tell us why only adults need to be protected?

It was suggested that a woman was stupid for not wanting men to cross the street to protect her "personal safety".

um, I suggested she might be stupid, but I did not use the quoted phrase.
And wtf with the "illusion of safety"?
We're talking about avoiding the illusion of peril.

I just find it very very strange that people seem to be arguing there is some higher ethical good to be accomplished by refusing to acknowledge the feelings-justified and legitimate or not, it doesn't matter (and this, ONCE AGAIN, is the entire fucking point of the EG argument)--of others. Everybody has the right to be treated equally inconsiderately, is that it?
weird.

Look, I'll extend this bit of fucking common courtesy to everybody, woman, man, linebacker, indeterminate. OK? And yeah, I'd appreciate it if others would do the same for me. So it's really, for me, not about sexism but rather, and pretty much like this whole ridiculous brouhaha, it's about simple consideration for the feelings of others. If I think that two minutes of anxiety (mild, moderate, or crippling) can be avoided bu me going 5 seconds out of my way, then I'm going to cross the street. Every time.

If you think that's somehow demeaning, insulting, sexist, or sappy, then, OK, yeah, you're stupid, I guess. *shrug*

By Sven DIMilo (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sven, who here is not recognising the feelings?

What several people are saying is that EVEN IF recognising the feelings, why the heck should I have to walk over the other side of the road?

"it's about simple consideration for the feelings of others."

As long as it isn't Elevator Guy, Stef, Richard Dawkins or men who want to "mansplain" (which seems to be code for "doesn't agree with me") their point of view.

I can recognise RW felt creeped out.

Stef did too.

Stef asked "but why should you make such a fuss out of nothing?".

Then RW, having the comfort blanket of victim taken away, called Stef a sexist pig when she had the mike and Stef had no place to respond.

Very little consideration of Stef's feelings there, Sven.

And ABSOLUTELY NO acknowledgement of that fact from RW's supporters.

And, Sven, don't you agree that "men have a rape switch" is more than a little "demeaning, insulting, sexist"?

My brain is in charge of me, not my dick.

>305, Wow: "Perhaps you could tell us why only adults need to be protected?"

Perhaps you could point out where I said that, or even implied it.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Look, I'll extend this bit of fucking common courtesy to everybody, woman, man, linebacker, indeterminate. OK? And yeah, I'd appreciate it if others would do the same for me. So it's really, for me, not about sexism but rather, and pretty much like this whole ridiculous brouhaha, it's about simple consideration for the feelings of others. If I think that two minutes of anxiety (mild, moderate, or crippling) can be avoided bu me going 5 seconds out of my way, then I'm going to cross the street. Every time.

What I would not give for a map of your walking schedule and 100 women in the 5'0" - 5'5" range. I bet with little effort, we could have you walking in a spiral in the middle of the road.

Christ, the relentless defense of this as anything but an IRL version of "change your twitter avatar background color" slacktivism is astounding.

it's about simple consideration for the feelings of others.
So when PZ ran his cracker series, did you speak up about his failure to consider of the feelings of many Christian people? After all, it's just common courtesy to consider the feelings of others.

Or are some people more equal for this consideration than others?

"Perhaps you could point out where I said that, or even implied it."

Because, you said:

"Perhaps you could re-read what I wrote. Specifically the "adult life" part."

So if his objectification in a past where he was a child means he hasn't been assaulted, then you don't care if children are assaulted.

If you think kiddie fiddling is sexual assault, then on the question of "Does Richard Dawkins have experience of being objectified as a sex-object", the answer is YES.

The only way it can be "no" is either

1) Children being sexually assaulted is not a case of being objectified as a sex object

or

2) Being treated or viewed as a sex object in the past is irrelevant.

the last option would mean nobody who isn't currently being sexually abused whilst typing on the internet has no valid experience.

Further to 308, if you meet a guy whose dick is in charge, as a woman you have several options:

1) Distance. Don't be there. Richard has one example: if you are uncomfortable in a lift with a man, exit the lift. You have now achieved distance.

2) Dissuasion. Be with friends. Don't go down dark alleys. Don't walk home drunk. Don't LOOK like a victim. It's what's meant when some bloke says "Why was she walking home drunk?". Not defending the man, protecting women.

3) Damage. Beat the crap out, scream, shout, get the police and any good samaritan to help. ERV did that.

4) Disdain. Even if you've been assaulted, you are alive, you are BETTER than that animal that assaulted you. (NOTE: a large cause of paedophilia amongst males is that they were assaulted by a father figure and haven't gotten over it, so are now trying to prove they aren't a victim by being a predator) Richard Dawkins does that. Your revenge is to live your life well.

A black football player that I went to high school with once told me that when he walked through a parking lot he frequently hears the "click!" of doors locking when he gets near them. It's people locking their doors (even in broad daylight) when the big, scary black man walks by.

Were the people who locked their doors racist? Should my friend carefully screen every car he walks by to make sure it's empty and, if it's not, go out of his way to avoid getting to close so he doesn't cause any anxiety?

>312, Wow: (pretty much the whole comment)

Now perhaps you could point out where I said any of that, or even implied it. (N.B. Reading things into my comments doesn't count because such things come from you, not me.)

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

I love the "MY WERDS DIDN'T PRECISELY SAY THAT" crap. because it's the perfect dodge. If your words are imprecise, and people get the wrong message, you get to say "I didn't actually type the specific words you are saying, ergo your comment is meaningless". Yet, if someone argues about what your words literally say, you can then bitch at them about being a literalist, and we have to use our minds.

Then when they do that?

"MY WERDS DIDN'T PRECISELY SAY THAT"

Beautiful, when you think about it. Simply beautiful.

"Now perhaps you could point out where I said any of that, or even implied it."

It was in the entire comment.

Why, then does the "as an adult" come into Richard Dawkins' knowledge about being watched with covetous eyes?

Why not just go the whole hog and say "Since Richard Dawkins isn't a woman, how can he know what it's like to be a woman?". Isn't that REALLY your guff?

"N.B. Reading things into my comments doesn't count"

Uhm, you DO know what "Implied" means, don't you?

in·fer
â â/ɪnËfÉr/ Show Spelled [in-fur] Show IPA verb, -ferred, -fer·ring.
âverb (used with object)
1.
to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence: They inferred his displeasure from his cool tone of voice.
2.
(of facts, circumstances, statements, etc.) to indicate or involve as a conclusion; lead to.
3.
to guess; speculate; surmise.
imply [ɪmËplaɪ]
vb -plies, -plying, -plied (tr; may take a clause as object)
1. to express or indicate by a hint; suggest what are you implying by that remark?
2. (Philosophy / Logic) to suggest or involve as a necessary consequence
3. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic to enable (a conclusion) to be inferred
4. Obsolete to entangle or enfold

+++

So to read an implication, you HAVE to -Read things into what's said-.

If you didn't have to read things into what's said, then it's not implied, it's explicit:
ex·plic·it Pronunciation (k-splst)
adj.
1.
a. Fully and clearly expressed; leaving nothing implied.
b. Fully and clearly defined or formulated: "generalizations that are powerful, precise, and explicit" (Frederick Turner).
2. Forthright and unreserved in expression: They were explicit in their criticism.
3.
a. Readily observable: an explicit sign of trouble.
b. Describing or portraying nudity or sexual activity in graphic detail.

Spence @298:
My fingers must have been drunk when they typed that. That should have been addressed to drbubbles in response to post number 260. Many apologies for that confusion!

Mathguy:
You criticize her, and she'll make it a feminism thing. Remember, she sees misogyny and sexism at every turn, and so do her supporters. Just disagreeing with them is "mansplaining" and "irrational". Read the comments on her blog. I'm loving the ones that tell Richard Dawkins to go back and think rationally and then come back with his apology. This implies, at base, there is only one potential outcome - so, if you don't accept their conclusion, you're irrational, hateful, oppressive and what not. Never mind all of the work that Dawkins has actually done for human rights. Never mind his support for anyone who's disadvantaged. No, don't agree with them and you're actually practically raping women. Assholes.

John C. Welch @303:
You said, "Shit, i'm waiting for someone to say that since he only got fondled once, it doesn't count. Only actual vaginal or ass penetration counts. It hasn't happened yet, thank reason, but I'm confident. "

I note that I said:
"I think even if we held Dawkins down and gang raped him with concrete dildos while chewing gum it wouldn't count to these people. Even if Dawkins managed to come through it without having some immortal fear of chewing gum or concrete dildos."
And using the logic the opposing side is using, not refuting this is what makes it true. QED!

Also, your "victim forever" bit is something I wrote about on my blog earlier today.
http://integralmath.blogspot.com/2011/07/you-fuckers-owe-me.html
It is exactly that - there are victims and there are survivors. The distinction isn't trivial, and one can roughly guess what mindset someone has by how they describe themselves. I am not a victim. I was a victim; I am currently a survivor.
And then you have the vicarious victims who have imagined victimization to the extent that their victim status is a product of their imagining. They are their own abusers - not me.

Thank you for saying it otherwise and so clearly.

To the stupid question of the "adult life" thing:
Seriously? One's capacity to understand requires the misfortune of not only being abused, but making sure it continues to happen to have "perspective". Fuck you.

I don't need to get shot to know it fucking sucks. I don't need to recover from being shot and then get shot again for "real" perspective. Fuck you.

"Oh, that time you were hit by a car doesn't count. You have to have a sample size > 1 in order to really know how bad it was for you." Fuck you again.

@306:
No. Stop. No one is saying that someone isn't entitled to their feelings. You're free to feel whatever you'd like, and I hope that when you have feelings, you deal with them square on - good or bad. This isn't about Rebecca Watson saying, "Ommigod! I was creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeped the fuck out today!"

This is about, "Ommigod! I was creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeped the fuck out today! Therefore, you 3.5 billion people need to do x!"

@310:
John: it would be more poetic if you could have him trace out cardioids. Clothoids are easy, and meaningless - this conversation is about feeling, not substance!

[/endmathhumor]

>302 Spence, 303 & 316 John C. Welch

I make an effort to understand what others are trying to say, and I would appreciate it if you would reciprocate.

>317 Wow: "Why, then does the 'as an adult' come into Richard Dawkins' knowledge about being watched with covetous eyes?", and
>319 Justicar:

Dawkins was assaulted as a child, by an adult. There is an authority/privilege/strength differential there that is analogous to that between women and men (on average). (If you google "infantilization of women" you will be find, if you have not already, another dimension of sexual politics that is relevant to this discussion but a bit more abstruse than seems to receive successful discussion in forums like this.)

This does not mean that Dawkins' experience is invalid. It means that it is not entirely equivalent to those of women. Children grow out of the child/adult differential. Women are stuck with the female/male one. Again, this does not invalidate, but it does differentiate. Adults do not have to worry about being child-molested. Likewise men do not (as a first approximation) have to worry about rape. Thus, as a man, Dawkins is now (and has been for some time) in a structurally privileged position with respect to both children and women. The fact of his being assaulted as a child does not strip him of that, nor does it necessarily render him fully attentive to it. To put it another way, he was assaulted analogously to rape, but it has been some time since he has had to be concerned about its happening again.

I am not saying that Dawkins WAS an assault survivor BUT IS NOW a privileged white guy. Those are not mutually exclusive; he IS an assault survivor AND a privileged white guy. And that that is different from being an assault survivor and a woman.

Please do not take any of this to suggest I think Dawkins', or your, experience is irrelevant. Having spent a couple of hours writing I'm reluctant to delete what's left, but I suppose it might be distilled as "there is more to it than just having been assaulted." For example: the distinction between victims & survivors. I've only just read Justicar's post and haven't entirely collated it with what I've been thinking, but at the very least it's an acknowledgement that, as I tried to say in #287 (as amended by #291), there are nontrivial distinctions that matter. Justicar, do you really think it is irrelevant that you do not now bear the same risk of assault as women? Would you say that your experience is equivalent to that of a woman who was assaulted as a girl? (If I am being intrusive or presumptuous, I apologize.)

>318, Wow

So the difference between an implication and a reading into is that implications can be backed up without resorting to cherry-picking, but readings-into cannot. If you thought my previous comments said or implied something contrary to what I have written here, you were reading it into them.

>319, Justicar

Now that I know the last bit of #293 was intended for me, I appreciate it very much. If the rest of #293 was in response to me as well, I must say I'm utterly floored.

By drbubbles (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

I make an effort to understand what others are trying to say, and I would appreciate it if you would reciprocate.
My best guess, at present, is that your posts are drivel consisting of strangely contorted logic aimed not at furthering an interesting debate, but at reducing the dissonance in your own thought processes. I explained this in detail in my last post.

I take your unresponsive answer quoted here as an acceptance of the points I made in comment #302.

Well, fuck me running, drbubbles @320:

It is immaterial where Dawkins is now on any hierarchy to what he experienced when his "power" was "inferior". You can't magic that away simply because time has elapsed. The frame of reference your side is claiming is the exploitation of the balance of power for sexualizing someone. Nothing about the Dawkins situation is distinguishable from that. The only difference is who the victim was; viz., it was a male.

Exactly how minimal must the power imbalance be before the fact that it exists and can be exploited is relevant? Severe imbalances of power seem to fall outside of your category. Adult => child = too disparate to be relevant. Male => female is relevant so long as it's not as disparate as adult => child?

So, there has to be a power imbalance between a and b, so long as it's just a little bit - that's when I'll take interest. The power imbalance has to be just small enough that it's indistinguishable from existing at all? No, sorry, student work. Try harder.

Men do have to worry about rape. About 10 percent of the male population has this as a concern. I am among them. I am gay. I can get drugged and raped when I'm out just as easily as could Abbie here. I could get "cornered" in an elevator as easily as Rebecca Watson. In fact, I have been. And, like her, I managed to make it out of that fucking "corner" alive. And rape free. I'm a goddamned elevator-rape escape artist I guess.

You know what I didn't do? Make a deal out of it because it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't interested, said as much, and buddy left it there. That is how this works. Even were I uncomfortable, I still wouldn't have made an issue of it because my feelings would have been clearly irrational. My emotional state would not have been congruent with reality. Going around bragging that I'm too fucking emotionally unstable to properly take stock of the actual state of affairs is not something I would be proud of saying.

Hello: my name is____; I react to situations that don't actually exist in unreasonable manners and then expect to be praised for my bravery. Would you like to take me to a drink sometime? Fuck that.

But for Rebecca Watson, it's like a goddamned "special skills" line on her fucking cv. Come to mention that, it is exactly like that - this pads her cv, increases her profile and generates cold hard cash for her - all on no evidence whatever that there was even another person in that elevator in the first place!

You're claiming he's a.) a "victim" and b.) privileged. Privilege doesn't seem to count for a great deal if it cannot miracle away some harm that will befall one. And why is it that you imagine white, rich, educated men are in some position not to understand that? Oh, that's right - it's easier to call success and happenstance a privilege so that you can exclude their views from having merit. Of course, you're just going to reverse engineer any set of facts to accommodate your goal: to exclude Richard Dawkins specifically from having a meritorious right to express an opinion. His views are worthless because whatever it is that he happens to be able to know, we can point to some other shit and exclude him. He's such a dick!

My risk of being killed/maimed in a car crash is greater than a woman's risk of being raped. Her risk for being killed/maimed is also greater than her risk of being raped. To follow the logic based on potential futures, they should be even more weary of being around cars than of men. Their risk of being raped by a loved one/associate is greater than that of stranger. They should be even more afraid of their boyfriends/husbands/coworkers/friends/classmates/fathers than of EG. She's not made a video talking about how uncomfortable it is when her her husband gets her alone and invites her to coffee. But he's statistically the bigger threat!

I'm making claims of equivalence as it isn't relevant. I'm accused of not "getting it" not of being in all conceivable ways exactly another person. I'm being accused of "potential rape" because I happen to have a dick, and then I'm told that I can't "get it" because I'm privileged for being a straight white male. Of course, when I said I was gay, it wasn't relevant. If my sexual orientation was irrelevant a cause for stating a privilege I have, why did it need to be on the list?

You're not making those claims, but those claims are being made en masse by your side of the discussion. Any means necessary to exclude and ignore a contrary opinion are perfectly fine.

- Doesn't understand, not sexually assaulted; therefore, excluded
"actually, I was"
- doesn't understand, not sexually assaulted good and hard enough; therefore, still excluded.

It's a shifting goalpost.

320:

Likewise men do not (as a first approximation) have to worry about rape.

Really

Can I be there when you tell Abner Louima that? or any of the 10% of all rape victims that they weren't raped, and that men have nooooothing to worry about?

Please?

That may be one of the most astoundingly stupid and ignorant things i've read in this entire nontroversy, and that's really impressive

"What about Abner Louima? Does he finally the fuck count?"

"Oh no, he wasn't a woman raped by a man"

it's coming. We've already dismissed all sexual assaults that happen prior to 18, and stated that men cannot be raped.

Who's going to go for the top position, and finally state that only rapes committed against a woman by a man count?

I see my word "nontroversy" is getting used!

Let me google that to make sure it didn't exist beforehand.

Crap, it did. But its definition isn't mine; its definition has to deal with a controversy not existing until it was politically convenient. My definition (definition 2 I suppose now) is a topic that isn't a controversy being treated as though it is; a trivial matter. Or something.

But I wasn't clever or original, alas.

/wrists

@ 287 - Yeah, over at greg laden's blog ( -/2011/07/elevators_and_privilege_a_lett.php), sally said that "making certain types of behavior less socially acceptable" in men (taking the next elevator I guess, for some reason she didn't like the crossing the street argument) causes increased overtness of rapists (they don't take the next elevator?). She didn't really describe how. The only way I think that it would, is that literally EVERY SINGLE MAN that is not a rapist (notice how I didn't even say potential rapist) takes the next elevator. But at that point, we literally have segregation of the sexes in public places. This is bad (I hope I don't have to explain why), and is not a world I would like to live in.

Oh, another one I liked was "Still working on explaining how requesting _increased situational awareness_ from men is akin to violently forcing black people to engage in public displays of inferiority, I presume?" I was using the kicking males to the back of the bus argument. _Emphasis on weasly words_ and I called her out on it for changing goalposts and that shit could mean anything. Needless to say, she disagreed. -_-

Err, swap taking the next elevator with not taking the next elevator in previous =/

Phyraxus:
When will you learn that these Real Feminists want us all to be equal? Just in different brackets.

Look, it's perfectly reasonable to expect that men should avoid using elevators are certain times. Just like it was perfectly reasonable that blacks should avoid using certain seats on buses during certain times (like when a white person was present, say).

Rich white celebrity guys seem to be pretty vulnerable today.

At least as far as thirty something opportunistic slacktivist hipster white women are concerned.

Somehow the thought of what the Skeptical movement's equivalent of Carrot Top is going to do with all the money she will extract from her team of enlightened fellow wymyn vyctmz sickens me more than anything else.

Since she slapped it together all her "team of activists" has done is link mine Google and throw theme parties celebrating themselves.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

"Since she slapped it together all her "team of activists" has done is link mine Google and throw theme parties celebrating themselves."

Now, now... in their defense, at least one of those themed parties involved a subset of that team actively purchasing me a large quantity of alcohol, so it can't be ALL bad. Having never gone to a conference where any of them were speakers, I for one, have managed to come out ahead on their celebrity.

Of course, that probably means very little to anyone other than me...

Aw, fuckit. A political/skeptical/news-type podcast I occasionally listen to decided to do a "Dawkins Sucks" episode. No context. No idea how it started. Nothing but Dawkins Sucks, with a side order of Men Are Pigs. I hang out on their forum, so I posted a detailed timeline with links to the Stef McGraw backstory, etc. Nope, the context of Dawkins' comments doesn't matter, because PRIVILEGE! Dawkins being molested doesn't matter, because PRIVILEGE! Watson's behavior doesn't matter, because... anyone? anyone? PRIVILEGE!!!!11one

Ideology > Facts, except when it's the other side doing it.

@Justicar, did you already run across / remember the Usual Suspects getting bent out of shape at Dawkins' response to the nontroversy at the last convention? The same arguments, links, etc. cropped up at Skepchick last time, but the volume was lower, with less emphasis on Dawkins himself. Guess they decided to "do better" this time.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

phraxus, don't forget the most important point on Laden's post:

"MY NAME IS STEPHANIE, GET IT RIGHT, AAAAAAAAAGH"

And she then proceeds to continually mangle Stef's name.

Self-awareness is not her friend.

What about a nuntroversy?

I think we should officially call this controversy.

The Cuntroversy.

Rystefn@#330

"Now, now... in their defense, at least one of those themed parties involved a subset of that team actively purchasing me a large quantity of alcohol, so it can't be ALL bad."

nice.

Got to love those expense accounts. Did she ever get the 501(c)(3)status she wanted to turn the city of Chicago into a tax deductible hook up and booze up for her political bien pensant?

By Prometheus (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Can't speak to that, Pro. My knowledge of their finances began and ended at "You're buying? Then I'm drinking."

Full disclosure: I did purchase some of my own and some for others as well. Just to be clear.

Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith the theme song for TAM 9?
I think yes.

By tas121790 (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

tas121790@#337

"Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith the theme song for TAM 9?
I think yes."

Do you think Adam Savage will weld up a divorce decree so that she and poor Sid Rodrigues can Bogart that meeting too?

By Prometheus (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Sigh...I'm almost jealous Rystefn. no one even TRIED to start up shit on my site. It's a shame really, we haven't had any meat there in a while

It's ok, John. Not everyone can have my special combination of charisma and... ummm... whatever it is that makes people hate me.

@ Rystefn

It's ok, John. Not everyone can have my special combination of charisma and... ummm... whatever it is that makes people hate me.

Eggnog? :-P

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Wild Z:
No, actually, I'm ordinarily more concerned with ideas and discussions of import than the minutia of public people's lives.

I'm only involved here because this is an issue. I spend money donating to various atheist groups. Some of that money has no doubt gone to support Rebecca Watson's lifestyle, thus providing a means for her tactics. I am therefore trying to very carefully suss out which organizations have paid her money, and will do so again so that I can modify my expenditures.

I take these matters very seriously despite the approach I've taken on youtube and my newly created blog. What Rebecca Watson is the parent of what is actually standing on the backs of the oppressed. I am unamused.

I am tired of being in a culture where the phrasing someone uses is more important than the content of what they're saying. Sorry, but if I'm having, say, a conversation with someone about the south before the Civil War and all the atrocities exacted against black people and someone is ok with that conversation but can't handle the word nigger, I have problems.

People will discuss the methodical, cultural execution and enslavement of humans without wincing. But if the word nigger appears in the literature, they have to say "the n-word". If you can't bring yourself to say the words in the literature while discussing torture, and rape, and murder,and subjugation of people, then I have to dismiss you from the conversation. You simply are not appreciating the full range of issues of the situation. Rape, torture, murder - those words we can say knowing full well what they fucking entail. Read the word nigger, well, that's just too vile to be said. I cannot read an account of the times without wanting to use the word. Yes, it is hateful. Yes it is powerful. That is why it is not to be trivialized to "the n-word". When one reads on such matters, one is obliged--in my estimation anyway--to look square on the fullness of it that it may resonate and remind one of why it can never again be allowed.

Just don't say any naughty words though. That we can't deal with; I guess we have our standards for what's indecent.

If any of those words is too repugnant to be spoken, it is surely not the one that is an insult. Why not the "r-word" or the "m-word"?

Then again, these are normally the same variety of people who think if they call me a faggot they've done something. No, preventing me from being married is an affront. Calling me a word? It barely registers a courtesy laugh.

For the relevant situation, Ophelia Benson has castigated me for calling her Twatson - taking offense. It's not acceptable I'm told. Well, I'm glad we've identified what's inappropriate here - my use of Twatson.

@Me in 343:

Ophelia Benson hasn't castigated me for calling Ophelia Benson Twatson; it's for calling Rebecca Twatson Twatson. Sorry about that pronoun oddity - as well as changing from you to one. That wasn't a model of good writing or consistency. Many apologies.

HOLY SHIZNUTS THATS EPIC!

Fuck, why didn't I think of something like that, dammit?!

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

@ Blargh 348
Am I missing something? I found the post interesting.

By tas121790 (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

I have been, and remain, unimpressed with her take on this. She's backpedaling a bit, but not nearly fast or far enough.

My favorite part of the new "Agenda"

13.00 Expert Panel discussion:
âWomen in the Atheist movement, are we being denied a voice?â
(Panelists Panders are PZ Myers, Greg Laden and Jeremy Stangroom)

BWAHAHAHA. So much lulz.

It strikes me she's trying to save face with BOTH sides. She doesn;t want to alienate Dawkins, because let's be honest, he's one of the names everyone knows. But at the same time, she doesn't want to alienate Watson, 'cos they're, like, sistahs!

This whole thing is a bloody mess, isn't it.

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

ERV@#345

"OMFG you guys, you have GOT to see the schedule for TAM this year."

That is fantastic.

I wonder where thirtyish skepchicks dressed like teenagers crawling all over an 82 year old gay guy for party pics falls on the new creepy continuum?

TAM Rule of Conduct #2873: Do not dry hump Dumbledore.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

"I wonder where thirtyish skepchicks dressed like teenagers crawling all over an 82 year old gay guy for party pics falls on the new creepy continuum?"

My Creep-0-Meter reads 5.2 kilospiders on the back of your neck.

I'm loving her patronizing tone: it's hard to understand; it's hard to figure it out, but I'll help that poor old man learn what's what. All this flopping out of her mouth the whole while she's talking about how it took her so long to understand her "white" privilege.

Apparently, she's still working on recognizing her "holier than thou, so smart I can condescend for a moment to school your dumb ass" privilege.

But all's not lost: you're not a gender traitor if you don't girlcott his books and lectures.

I guess learning that he was molested has softened her heart - just look at her coddle his booboo to make it all better.

But hey, he's just stupid and privileged, and old and male, and rich and educated, and has a house of elephant tusk.

I love that she "disagrees" with Watson on one detail. Click the link and what's in the first line? Watson saying that she agrees with Jen when Jen, among others, says that Dawkins is saying to Watson to shut up about being sexually objectified like a good girl. (Anyone have a copy of the half-nude calendar she posed in as the "sexy skeptic"?)

Presumably then Jen agrees with, "Feminists in the west have been staunch allies of the women being brutalized elsewhere, and theyâve done a hell of a lot more than Richard Dawkins when it comes to making a difference in their lives."

And, "You wrote blog posts and made videos and were kick ass, and you made me realize that Dawkins is not the present. He is the past."

And, "But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers." So, Dawkins still isn't a humanist anymore? He no longer advocates for the equality of all peoples? Jen is explicitly endorsing this message. Lovely.

What a useless sack of shit Dawkins is then. I'm glad they brought to my attention how ineffective he was back when he pretended to work for human rights. I'm glad to know that he's now opposed to human rights. I guess I should send him a letter: Dear Dick . . .
That's how it'll start, but it won't end being so polite!

I would ask her on twitter, but for some inexplicable reason Watson and McCreight seem to have accidentally blocked me. Probably a clerical error - secretary was no doubt a woman and you know how they are . . .

My Creep-0-Meter reads 5.2 kilospiders on the back of your neck.

Surely you mean 1.21 JIGGASPIDERS?

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

@tas121790

"Having privilege is not intrinsically a bad thing. It does not make you a horrible person." - Oh good! You mean the fact I happened to be born male, white and straight means I'm not all evil?

"But more disappointing than his initial obliviousness about his privilege was his stubborn denial of said obliviousness when called out on it." - Or perhaps he just meant what he said; What the fuck is all the fuss about?

"But honestly, it's understandable. No one likes being told they're wrong in general.." - Awwww.. she's being compassionate. He just doesn't see -why- he's wrong. But once he's told, he'll see the light and realize his mistake!

That's just three lines. And it's condescending as hell. There isn't even the slightest possibility of someone actually having an opinion worth considering. There's no debate whatsoever. Dawkins disagreed, therefore he is wrong. But thank heaven, Jen thinks there's still hope for him.

To P.Z., Jen and RW, and all the others who have basically supported everything these people are doing without a shred of criticism there's only one right way of talking to them. You apologize for having a penis. Then you tell everyone that, now that you've read about privilege, you realize how wrong you've been your entire life. Then you bow before your feminist overlords, keepers of the one and only truth.

Interesting comments. Now we're getting the concessions:
"'He may not be a misogynist, but his actions in this case were. He may not be a rape apologist, but his actions in this case were.'

^ This, so much. This is an incredibly important distinction to make, as even the most enlightened person will say some offensive things."

Yes, this is the distinction we now need to make. He's not a rape apologist, most of the time. He's not a misogynist, most of the time. But last week, boy howdy, he was a rape apologizing misogyny advocating mother fucker. So, let's keep in mind it's only a part-time hobby for him!

And, of course, "Good scepticism is based on telling people when they're wrong, and then attempting to explain why with evidence, it doesn't mean that you necessarily consider them bad in any way. A lot of people, like Jen, have been doing this very patiently now for days, and it's working by the number of people who comment to say 'oh, I get it now'."

Yes, about that evidence thing some on her blog are now speaking of . . . where is it pray tell? Noting he's doesn't understand what it's like to be sexually assaulted? Patently false. That he's never been called a faggot? Patently false. Hell, there's an entire episode of Southpark with him in it. Wasn't he like ass-fucking some guy in it or something?

He's white, male, rich, educated, British? Ok, those are factual claims. What it evidence of? PZ is white and male. He "gets it" so those two can't be used. That leaves British. I guess the British don't "get it". Nor do the rich. Man, I love evidence!

Fuck, they can't even credit his personal experience in the way they're demanding we bow down and credit Watson's. Apparently, being sexually assaulted is one of the fucking things that makes Dawkins privileged! One wonders what then doesn't?

"This is a good point, and well worth emphasizing, although it still is indicative of a sort of privilege (generalisations of this sort: "oh, I was molested and it wasn't so bad, therefore molestation must not be that terrible" are still a problem), and I'm not sure whether or not it puts his comments on a better footing."

This is loltastic!
"While being abused means that he has not benefited from the fact that boys are molested at half the rate of girls, there is still an issue of male privilege where threats of rape and victim blaming are used to both regulate women's behavior and blame them for being non-receptive to certain types of attention."

Welcome to hell, Professor Dawkins. Pick a door - on the left is damned if you do . . .

"This argument would be more compelling if he didn't specifically follow that up by saying it had no effect on him and that he considers it a misdemeanor. "
Yeah, because his actual sexual assault which he got over isn't nearly as good as Rebecca's non-sexual assault which she still hasn't gotten over. lol

Apparently, misdemeanor sexual assault < not being sexually assaulted at all.

Ok, I'm going to stop before I become a nuisance (more so than Abbie will tolerate anyway).

Abbie:
That comment you made there is just so fucking full of win. (To Marcotte)
My sides hurt; you're a devil woman, you know that?

Rystefn:
If you haven't yet, go find Abbie's comment there. It is fucking hysterical.
I thought it was going to be a link to the news article explaining how it all got put wrong. And it was, just all rolled up into a neat little package.

I was going to leave a comment, but, surprise of all surprises, I've been preemptively banned. I bet it has something to do with a conversation with Jen the other day when I said she said something and she said she never said that and then I sent her an exact quote. She said in response to that something like and now I'm just going to ignore you.

Imagine my shock that when she says yeah prove it and you link her to something she's written she ignores you! I suppose, you know, if I were more polite to them during this whole nontroversy, she'd have responded better.

Even Watson doesn't have my back on this one for some reason.

It's a good thing they don't know if I've written any books so they can't girlcott me!

Man, 99% of feminists totally give the rest of them a bad name. Fuckers!

Quick question, now the luyz are fully underway...

Would anybody be hideously offended if I suggested this situation needs a lolcat made about it?

Also, would anybody be hideously offended if I had already actually MADE a lolcat about it, to share only with the funky people on this thread?

:-P

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

Rystefn-- Follow the link over to BlagHag :) Thats been my standard bit for the past few days (I also dont 'get' why Marcotte is invited to atheist/skeptic events) but I also tried out my impersonation of Marcotte leading a lynch mob: GO!!!

Miranda-- THUGS 4 LIFE!! Or until you disagree with me on something. Then I think I have to tell you have to die in a fire or something, and I have to completely miss the connection between me threatening you with fire and the fact women used to die in fires for being heretics.

Justicar-- I dont know what you are talking about. I linked to a poignant news piece, which Im sure youve rewatched ~500 times by now. :P

Marco, I am offended. Don't you know that everyone on the internet is (rightly) terrified of being confronted by a LoLcat? You privileged jerk, can't you understand that millions of people are shown LoLcats every day? Every link and every e-mail is Schrodinger's LoLcat in our world. How dare you suggest such a thing might be ok?

Marco-- The rules on ERV are no death threats and nothing illegal. If it doesnt fall into either of those categories, I have no problem with my commentors expressing their creativity in a humorous manner.

@365:
Marco, go ahead, show me your pussy.

ERV, I must confess it's the most concise, to the point piece of journalism I've seen in a long, long while. Did you plagiarize it from Johann Hari?

Actually, on further reflection of that news piece, I think we have summed the entire kerfuffle: you have one bitch trying to drag some unwilling girl to the "truth".

(goddamn. I am so going to hell for the shit I've said this week)

Zomg!

Schroedinger's lolcat. Bwahaha! Seriously, that's hysterical. I think someone spiked my coffee; I'm laughing way too much this evening.

Now if only we could photoshop in a coffee tin in the background. Nothing too flashy mind you, just an understated (in that English gentleman kind of way) tin of coffee haplessly milling around in the background. (but not too dark, fucking white guys who've been passed by a black guy will start up with their shit again).

Ahh, where is the fight? I lost the linkz! BTW, that cat IS creepy

My comment just got eaten the spam filter! Abbie, stop oppressing me!

Blog-writer's privilege doesn't look good on you!

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!

Anyway, I was linking to a video that was posted on an article on reddit (where I'm mentioned I might add.) My blog is like not 3 days old, and it's already being cited in a reddit article as the "guy [who] has her number". I was wondering why my blog's page counter went crazy today.

Hopefully, Abbie will stop oppressing my poor little comment so it can run free, in equal status to everyone else's privileged comments!

I LOVE this one:

When someone performs 90% of the same actions that a sexual predator would, possibly for benign reasons, how is the person who has received the attention supposed to distinguish between the two situations before the fact?

Yes. 90% of sexual predators:

move about
Move about in buildings
use elevators
get in elevators
PRESS A BUTTON! WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE ELEVATORS
Talk to people
Invite them to go somewhere private by talking to them
Sometimes in elevators

wait, did I say predators? I meant EVERY-FUCKING-BODY.

Also, I think the next time one of these nincompoops trundles out their lamer wish-it-was-logic,

I shall refute them thusly

John C. Welch:
That photo you've posted to can't refute them. Have you learned by now that their arguments have the ability to jump the shark? With ease. No running start required.

I knew you supported laser rape!

Now I know to stay out of elevator if a shark is in them because, you know, every shark is a potential laser ass-rapist.

OMG, i just saw kriss' video about all this shit. She is awesome and deserves the invite to vegas.

Told my wife about drbubble's moronic statement about how men don't have to worry about rape.

(evil smile)
"Oh gimme a roofie and an hour with him, I'll change his mind on that one."

I love that woman. I also fear her.

I fear rape, more so if its a woman that's trying to rape me. Because men have absolutely no reproductive rights after sperm leaves their bodies.

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2000/10/19/mens_choice

Read that for the horror stories of RAPED men that still have to pay child support.

Women, if they are raped, can at least choose not to have the baby and thereby prevent ruining her financial future. Men have no such recourse.

@ERV
For the act of trolling on Blag Hag in such a great fashion. I award the internet I won previously back to you.

Also I found this when Googling Amanda Marcotte http://www.formspring.me/AmandaMarcotte

By tas121790 (not verified) on 08 Jul 2011 #permalink

From RW's video "Don't invite me back to your hotel room, right after I finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner".

Clearly what she is saying here is that polite invitations to casual sex constitute "sexualization", that this is what her talks are about, that this is a social ill that must be combated and guys should not do that.

I would like to know, how that could possibly be considered anything but dogma? Casual consensual sex is something men and women engage in in large numbers. RW victimizes the women and criminalizes men who chose to engage in a perfectly harmless activity. How can she present this nonsense unopposed at a meeting of "skeptics"?

Dawkins' verbal eyeroll is absolutely spot on here.

I just have to get this snarky comment off my chest.

RW is NOT "attractive". I don't recall if anyone on this particular blog described her this way, but most others have described the situation as such. Maybe EG felt sorry for her because even at closing time, no one tried to hook up with her. I don't know, if someone is "tired and just wanted to go to bed," why is she staying up until 4 am? Who's decision was it to be out alone at 4 am in a foreign country? Not EG's. His crime was not so much that he invited her to coffee. It was that she failed to indoctrinate him properly during her talk.
Same with Stef. Her crime was that her thinking was all wrong. Same with Dawkins. Common sense, rational arguments are no match for ideology.While everyone is scratching their heads over her irrational justification for the abusive behavior, remember that she is launching an ideological war. Her speech was "The Religious Right's War on Women." The propaganda is not exactly subtle to begin with. Anyone who would attend this lecture, has already drunk the political Koolaide.
There is one bright spot, however. It seems this may have been an eye-opening experience for the students as to how extreme ideology is the enemy of common sense. Calling people out or using them as examples of everything that is wrong in society is so ridiculous. Her supporters have revealed their true colors as the ideologically-driven windbags that they are. Bully tactics are fair game when the goal is indoctrination. She might as well stuck a dunce cap on that poor young lady.
OK, back to lurking. This is the most rational discussion I've seen so far. Way to go!

Anyone think this is the final and conclusive proof that politics and gender ideology do not mix with a movement about scientific skepticism and/or atheism?

Prior to this PZ and RW had tirelessly attempted to argue extreme liberal politics and feminism were part and parcel of skepticism. There was an air that the politics were just as "evidence-based" and "objective" as the science.

I wonder what will happen now. Somehow, I don't think RW wants a complete "real feminists vanguard party v. gender traitor/male privileged class/anyone right of lenin" skeptical-movement split because she would lose alot of business on her speaking circuit. ERV says people are already contacting her to find a woman scientist (that could actually talk about her work in the field) rather than a youtube carnival barker. However, she thinks so highly of herself and her communications degree that I doubt she backs down. Will be interesting TAM this year......

I've been visiting science blogs (and related blogs) off and on for the past few years but generally leave when I feel that I'm wasting too much time or some ridiculous shit like this blows up all over the internet.

I'm glad to see that the blogger and those making comments provided an eye of reason in this storm of bullshit. I think I'll be sticking around here for a while in the safe zone, though I won't be getting into this argument directly as I think it has run its course.

By the way, Abbie, you are hilarious and I mean that in the best possible sense.*

*Perhaps I should run that statement by the Feminist Brigade before publishing it to make sure that it doesn't qualify me as a misogynist who wrongly (due to privilege) believes that he is qualified to pass judgment on the comedy value of females? Eh, fuck it.

By Thomas M. (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

@377

No they're not. Laden will just show slides of the path he took to get to that first panel when he finally DOES get there at 8:00pm.

"I just have to get this snarky comment off my chest.

RW is NOT "attractive". I don't recall if anyone on this particular blog described her this way, but most others have described the situation as such."

hyperbole.

It is a relative proposition. In a general context she is a hygienically challenged off-the-shelf fish belly white yawn with a personality like a case of prickly heat.

In the context of the collection of horse frighteners that defend her or the beardy sweetums that haunt skeptics conventions, she is Helen of Troy with a wheelbarrow full of your favorite candy.

which, if we are back to taking this shit seriously (and I don't think we should be), what they leave off every time in the dubiously reported supposed EG come-on is this:

Caveat, Qualifier, Mission statement Disclaimer,consisting of....

"Don't take this the wrong way but...."

Followed by:

Coffee & Conversion invitation.

She just gave a lecture consisting of "Don't hit on me."

He said "Not hitting on you."

Followed by "Will you talk to me and be my friend?"

She said "NOES!" followed by a you tube video announcing that clearly excusing yourself before asking if it would be okay to talk to her is creepy and sexualizes her.

Kay.

What else sexualizes RW?

"You forgot your change."

"The number you have reached has been disconnected."

*wind fails to blow in the direction that irks her the least*

I've dealt with this mentality before.

I once got an elaborately loud public dressing down by a young lady at a law school party because I put my hands on her and how dare I do that and I was predatory sexist human filth etc..

My friends had to point out after I left that her hair was on fire and I put it out with my bare hands.

She never apologized....or graduated for that matter.

meh.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Thomas M.@#390

"By the way, Abbie, you are hilarious and I mean that in the best possible sense.*"

Nice try Mr. Rapist.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

I have been curious about something for a long time now. So I am going to go ahead and ask, if it's ok.
When I found out that RW had her wedding ceremony at TAM, I was somewhat baffled. How did it come about? As an outside observer to the "movement" it struck me as fairly narcissistic to have your guests not only pay to attend, but basically finance the whole affair. But heck, what do I know? If she is the darling of the skeptical community, perhaps they also thought TAM was the obvious choice. Is TAM as sacred to RW as church?
BTW, what happened to her hubby? Excuse me! I mean spouse. It's hard to imagine irreconcilable differences could have played a role.
Anyone have a link I could go to so I can get up to speed? TIA

Just de-lurking to point out that as I read, I'm having coffee alone. Until this dust-up, I wasn't aware that this was a form of masturbation.
Also, I've noticed that there are certain posters here that cause me to take longer and deeper drinks, and to slurp more audibly. I'm confused and frightened by what this reveals.

I'm having coffee too, Gabby! Holy fuck, we're cybering right now!

Oh yeah baby, sick my duck. Sick my DUCK!

Smitty: I have no idea about Rebecca Watson's failing marriage. Other than, you know, it's failing.

Gabby@#398

I'm having coffee too.

We are now sexting.

Hope THE BRIDE doesn't see this. She just bought 250 rounds for her boom stick.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

There are about 15 old coots hunkered over their mugs playing dominoes at the diner up the street.

lemonparty

ewwwww.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Prometheus, I guess this makes a threeway? Get more and we can have a forgy. Fuck that, let's get a full on LAN going!

(tell her not to wear panties so she can get a better grip on it)

#402

The lemon party? After Justicar outted himself as elevator guy on his blog, and then admitted that there was a picture of his brown eye on teh interwebz, I thought Justicar might then out himself as goatse.

I have to admit, I'd be slightly disappointed now if that wasn't true.

Her Maxwell House tastes good, if you know what I mean, *winkwink**nudgenudge*

Oh god-- I cant stop the puns now.

"You two look like a couple of star bucks."

"You wanna come upstairs and put some Folgers in my cup?"

"Baby, Im Seattles Best."

"I like my women like I like my coffee- Chock full o'Nuts."

"Nescafe."

"I want to put some cream in yo coffee, but first, you need to give me some sugar!"

"I like my women like I like my coffee, bitter and murky."
"My house blend brings all the boys to the yard and damn right it's better than your. Damn right, it's better than yours..."

The funniest part for me is that I'm actually in the coffee business. I feel like I should have a pimp name now.

It was suggested that a woman was stupid for not wanting men to cross the street to protect her "personal safety"

um, I suggested she might be stupid, but I did not use the quoted phrase.

um, you know we can still read your earlier comments? There's even this handy 'find' function in most browsers nowadays.
#227: "I think that in the actual situation in real time her personal safety would suddenly seem more important to her than her high-minded demand for equal anxiety-inducing treatment."

As long as we are talking about common courtesy, how about checking what you actually wrote before arguing that someone else got it wrong. But 'stupid is as stupid does', I guess.

#343:

For the relevant situation, Ophelia Benson has castigated me for calling her Twatson - taking offense. It's not acceptable I'm told.

She doesn't like vulgar language (or things like telling someone to go in a fire) and she's consistent about it - I don't really see the need to mock her for it. It's like RD asking people not to overuse the word 'fuck' - I guess it's partly a generational thing.

Agent Smith:

http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

Apparently Steve Novella broke down and let RW unleash her bullshit. The new episode has a piece of "elevator-gate".

...yeah..and she makes it sound like the shit-storm was just all about the little remark in her youtube-video when she actually knows it better...

LOL @412

"I like my women like my coffee, frigid and bitter."

Hah, that's not true, its actually warm and sweet :)

Damnit! How dare you people make a bunch more jokes while I was in bed? Don't you know that I can't get up until my mommy checks under the bad and in the closet for Schrodinger's Rapist?

I'm drinking Columbian coffee....everybody's okay with the donkey, right?

"I like my women like I like my coffee, in a plastic cup."

I'm a long-time lurker, first time poster and I just wanted to say, keep up the good work you guys! It feels nice to be surrounded by sane people for a change. :)

@418 - I was a lurker myself and very rarely made comments because I never felt the need to let my voice be heard. But the lack of critical thought being displayed right now made me feel like I had a moral obligation to speak up against it. The fact that others have come out of the shadows to say, "Thanks for being sane" has made it worth it.

@419 - Ditto.

And Sophie was being sarcastic, right?

@420:

Semi-ditto. I only FOUND this blog because of the whole elevatorgate nonsense. Ended up finding a worthwhile blog to read, so win, definitely.

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

#422: are you trying to imply that *my* blog isn't worthwhile to read? *offended*
Abbie! He's oppressing me! Help!

Rystefn: does she make sure to check for Schroedinger's Invisible Rapist?

I just got told on youtube by this guy made an invalid step in logic that my correcting it was an "ad hom". I answered in a Princess Bride kind of way, which he then to be yet another "ad hom". ::blink blink:: I suppose some people are really invested in their arguments if to say this doesn't follow that they in turn cry personal attack! (not that an ad hominem is always fallacious, mind).

For Abbie:

Nothing wakes you up like Soldiers in your cup . . .

Did you catch that documentary I made, Abbie? Hrm?

#423:

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, go on, then, yours too.

Wait, were you retroactively oppressing me for quasi-oppressing you? You and your dastardly "functional human being" privlege! :-P

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Oh, look! More cheesecake sexual objectification fundraising calendars!

And just so none of us get any "ideas":

"(Hint #1: This is one of those contexts where it would be okay to comment on my appearance.)

(Hint #2: Because this one instance of an acceptable context exists, that does not mean that all future contexts are to be ignored. One yes does not mean "always yes.")"

Get it, guys? You may drool now. Preferably in the comments section. But for fuck's sake, don't compliment her at the con.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

424:

What to do if you think you've encountered Schrodinger's Invisible Rapist? Roll a D6

Coffee Sex?

Oh baby, lemme give you some of my taster's choice.

I want it strong, with an extra shot and extra foam.

and with many, many apologies to John Valby:

"One night, i was hanging out with tim horton and juan valdez at the old maxwell house when in she walked.
I could tell by her huge bustello that she was the kind of woman who liked to get chocked full 'o nuts, and hard.
She was smooth, dark, and strong, a true taster's choice.
I really wanted to give her an extra shot of foam all over her latte, so I walked up and invited her back to my place for a grind.
She reached down, grabbe my douwe egberts and said "you're hung like a caribou, let's go!"
In no time, I'd folger'd her over the kitchen counter and sanka'd her deep and hard.
"Oh PEET!" she cried, and in no time I was giving her seattle's best up her brim to the rim.
When I awoke later, she was gone, but not forgotten, as a few weeks later, I came down with the seattle drip.

Justicar: "I answered in a Princess Bride kind of way"

1. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
2. As you wish.
3. Yes you're very smart. Shut up.
4. You warthog-faced buffoon.
5. There will be blood tonight!
6. You miserable, vomitous mass.

???

By Stephen Bahl (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

So today I was reading the comments on a blog, and then some guy posted a link, RIGHT AFTER I WAS TALKING ABOUT SCHRODINGER'S LOLCAT! The link he posted to, Roll a d6? It hurt my ears. Guys, don't do that. Don't post links to stuff because it might be LoLcat, and even if it's not, it hurts our ears. Those of you who don't have sensitive ears don't... I mean, CAN'T know what it's like to live in constant fear of hearing something that might hurt your ears, so you should never make sounds around us because we could be traumatized.

Well, reading this I think Team James is on the side of Team Rebecca. Her name gets first, her issue gets mentioned over and over, and Richard is bumped in with everyone else whose made "important" contributions in science.

And this gem: "Weâre discouraged to see the depth of division in our movement that has been brought to the surface by recent statements by various leaders, but we are optimistic that the conversation and debate will generate more light than heat. We believe that an open discussion of sexism and harassment will ultimately strengthen the skeptical movement."

Who was being harassed? Who was falling prey to sexism? Bleh; I'm glad I'm not going to this goat rodeo.

You know, I read what DJ wrote there, and I think he's trying hard to write something that people on either side could read as supporting them. Failing, but trying. It's so full of weaseling and not taking a stand. Strikes me hard as someone trying to mollify friends (and paying customers) on both sides.

cthellis and Justicar-- You are reading a statement written by a magician whoever. I will casually remind you that looks can be deceiving.

Good point, ERV... for all we know there are carefully calculated layers upon layers of meaning and implications there carefully designed to produce an exact effect we aren't even aware of yet. In the words of Penn, "The key to a really great magic trick? Put in WAY more work than the audience thinks is worth it."

Yes, looks can be deceiving, but I've read it four times. If there's a bit of text you think that would balance it, I'd be keen to know it.

If you're right Rystefn, then I guess we can officially call it a religion now. Who needs values anyway? Hasn't slowed down those pesky Catholics one bit!

I'm happy, at least, that they've got a good complement of women speaking at the main talks - better than half!

One thing I always hated first day of class was looking out on the class and seeing mostly pasty white young men. :( (only because it made it harder to find a woman to sexually harass, you know?)

Nothing better than walking into a room and seeing an expected representation of a society. Makes me happy. =^_^=

Who was being harassed? Who was falling prey to sexism? Bleh; I'm glad I'm not going to this goat rodeo.

Watson. By some YouTube jagoffs. Which is why all men must walk across the street to avoid being rape-enablers.

...or something. I'm having a hard time following the chain of events for this vitally imperative situation that is hey why are you people making a big fuss about this it's not a big deal but wait you are sarcastically downplaying it RAAAAAAAAAGE

I will have you know that I didn't start blasting her on YT until this shit came down the pike.

I love how a woman will put out a half-nude calendar, write posts about how she likes the occasional strange man hitting on her, sees a guy and writes a blog entry about how she just wanted to lick him from head to toe but then cries when someone asks her to coffee.

She's a work of art.

I guess what bothers me now is that this was a payday for her. And he's proud of that.

/sigh

Abbie, when are you grow up, finish school and become a real live biologist so that we can start hearing you give speeches instead of these parade of horribles?

If it helps, I'll buy you a cup of coffee.

Well, it does specify that "Continued unwanted behavior directed toward another person is harassment." That means that if you do it once and stop, then it isn't harassment. That means Rebecca was not harassed. Also they want to "make the skeptics movement a welcoming place for all people, regardless of gender." Note, not a welcoming place to women. I don't see a lot of people in RW's camp giving a shit about men feeling welcome, or mens feelings at all.

Yeah, it's weak, but that what I said in the first place.

Also, I move that the official greeting at all atheist/sceptical/whatever gatherings when we are in an elevator with someone we don't know should be "Don't take this the wrong way, but would you like to come back to my room for coffee or something?" Hilarity ensues.

I'm skeptically dubious. I suppose I'll wait to see what happens when the shindig gets kicked off.

Maybe they should start inviting Mrs. Betty Bowers to give speeches there.

I don't mean you, of course. I mean the seed jagoffs that led her to conclude things were so problematic that she had to disrupt an AAI panel to slag off Paula Kirby without any real consideration as to what was said. The same jagoffs who are of indeterminate number and value.

And are YouTube trolls.

I mean... seriously. YOUTUBE TROLLS.

This is like calling all IT departments racist because /B/-tards use the N-word.

Oh, I knew you didn't mean me. I should have put a smiley in there. To make up for it, here's my clown <):o)~

Speaking of youtube, I need to start putting together my next hatchet job! Err, I mean objective and unbiased reporting: the spin starts here, but it's lefthanded.

LOL!!!!

Someone should post on all the TAM elevators:

Elevators closed due to harbls.

I'd probably be kicked out if I went. I'd do up a "wanted" poster of the Kool-aid guy and throw it up outside the elevators: "Have you seen this man? Walls can't stop him!"

That and if I wound up in an elevator with Rebecca Watson, I'd scream "Schroedinger's Fake Rape Victim - HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then I'd run out.

And then no matter who replaced me, she'd be happy to have them.

How much does it count to go to TAM? I'm just wondering if it's worth getting kicked out pulling one or more of these kinds of stunts... Well, it's too late to do this year, so nevermind. I doubt it would carry the same force doing it later.

When do you suppose she will have to automatically start discounting her own opinions, now that she has a "Team" on equal-if-not-greater standing than Dawkins?

Is "privilegism" a thing? It seems to be a more problematic problem, if conference speakers are anything to go by.

Well, maybe we can plan it for her next attention grabbing wedding.

Excellent video here if you want to feel stupid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYeN66CSQhg&feature=related

There are days when I feel really, really smart, when I'm in the "zone" and under the impression I'm making progress on my quirky, useless area. And it falls through, but I still don't feel bad. Then I watch things like this and realize how poor my knowledge of the world is. *frownie face*

And then I get in blogtv sessions with some of the more prominent youtube atheist "I love science" skeptics and hear shit like, "Newtonian Mechanics is almost entirely wrong." And then the coup de grâce is that relativity is completely off the mark because it fails to explain quantum mechanics. DPRJones and I were in there, and we were both fit to be tied.

But not our blogtv event so, you know, not allowed to talk and shit.

The guy who was prattling this nonsense about does a great deal of "philosophical" discussions in what DPR calls middle class dinner party style. And then it all made sense - buddy has a degree in music.

It's disheartening.

I'm half-beginning to think Dawkins was on to something with the whole brights thing, but I don't like elitism and "class" distinctions. Hell, my kids call me by my first name. When asked why, I return what seems to a very obvious answer: it's my name. Why is it that people who are closest to me in the world are the only ones who shouldn't be extended the courtesy of using my name?

Meh, I'm rambling now!

I needs me some coffee methinks!

Justicar-- I think that might be one of the problems we are dealing with, here. Many of the women I would consider good role models and great voices for science/skepticism... have jobs. They could attend conferences occasionally, but we have these conferences ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Which means the speakers with tenure or who are 'unencumbered' with what many of us would consider a standard form of employment are the ones who *can* speak regularly... which means they are the ones who constantly have a platform, whether its deserved or necessary.

What I loved about the TX Freethought Convention was that they recognized they had someone local, me, and jumped at the chance (drive down to Dallas was no big whoop). But speaking at something like TAM would be a big time investment, and thats something I dont currently have a lot of.

I would *really* encourage local groups to look for *local* speakers, within and outside the 'official' skeptic group. Everyone has something they are good at, whether its how to start a blog, or amateur astronomy, or you might have a professional astronomer in your ranks. Its not as *cool* as bringing in someone from half-way across the country, but you are half-way across the country to someone else.

This place is so refreshing after the depressing, hateful, sycophantic, myopic, black and white quagmire that Skepchick has become. And never mind that bastion of ill-tempered cardigans, Pharyngula!

I mean just imagine, people actually having some fun, allowing sarcastic humor to enter the picture without hitting High Dudgeon in G minor, and some folks actually exchanging differing opinions regarding the possible nuance involved in all this outrageous mess without telling each other to fuck off.

Just imagine.

I hope you folks don't mind if I lurk around a bit?

Hi Rystefn. How's things? You knew me by another name over at Skepchick ... once upon a time.

By John Greg (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Well, I kind of stay out of the spotlight, and I doubt I'd accept even a paid, cordial invitation to speak at any of these things (on the remotest chance they all got drunk and called me up or something, or even knew my name lawl). And not that I'd have anything of any particular merit to talk about. I'm just some goofy mathematician turned pro-gamer who's taken a shining to getting Watson off the panels (and I understand if you're not sympathetic to that - I do get it; she's just not.the.person whose name needs to be in everyone's mouth). The last thing we need is yet another pasty faced white dude who came from a well-to-do family. We have so many of those we can't throw a goddamned stick without hitting a gross of them.

We need another Neil deGrasse Tyson, we need to see more of Carolyn Porco (although, she's busy doing actual science and all). Not to say "look, we got us another black!" either. After the shit past weekend, the very last thing we need to see much of is another white guy talking to a group of mostly white guys and a smattering of women, black people, asians and what not.

That panel discussion Jerry Coyne put up, look at the traffic on it. Thousands of posts and hundreds if not thousands of conversations happening all over, rippling through the hoi polloi over elevatorgate to show how much we can be outraged over minutia and show that we're not all rapists or whatever. Meanwhile, there was a panel with Paula Kirby, Bobbie Kirkhart, Tanya Smith and Anne Marie waters and that's only being discussed at Jerry's place and Miranda's. Hell, for that matter, we have Miranda who is criminally unknown. Bleh.

If you look across our community on youtube, you get pretty much a bimodal distribution: cute girl with tits who says nothing worth hearing, or thunderfoot, aronra, dprjones and then some younger guys who I would lump with the cute girls, but they don't have tits.

They had Eugenie fucking Scott on the Magic Sandwich show and almost no one showed up to watch. Get venomfangx and the blogtv had umpteen bazillion people. And yet these assclowns run around day in and day out talking about "skeptical" they are, and how they "love science" and they want to have "real" conversation about "important" issues. But when there's an opportunity thrown in their fucking laps to find out how they can bring it about, no. Can't be bothered to show up and listen, or maybe even donate money to a useful public institution.

Get VFX on, and fuck, you can't keep people away with a stick. Welcome to the new atheism - I've been here before and I don't like this circle.

You're youngish. What's your feel with the late teen early 20 something crowd? Just apathetic, or am I having a really unfortunate run of shitty samples? Granted, it is the internet - what do I expect.

People should get me to do public speaking engagements. I'm good at that kind of crap, and won't even pretend to be an expert on other things. I'll totally prepare by digging up a bunch of quotes from experts on various subjects, jam it all together, make fun of someone who deserves it a litter the whole thing with profanity and personal anecdotes from having a hundred different jobs traveling all over the world (that was slight hyperbole - I've never been to Africa). I promise I would only charge cost of travel, room, board, and drinking.

lawl.

Even if I were inclined to want to speak at one these shindigs, my field isn't actually one people are breaking their necks to get into. I could talk about gaming, but that would draw people in for the wrong reasons.

If you could see my blog's server logs, or that of my YT channel, whenever I do a math something another, it comes to a grinding halt. People are just not interested in math until you get the "oh, pretty cool shit" phase. But if they can appreciate why it's pretty cool shit, they don't need the talk in the first fucking place.

I bet if you asked Miranda, ERV, what her traffic slow was like on her analysis of the Catholic Priest Report it will not be, oh fuck. That's right. PZ Pharyngulated it. so, it might have pulled in some decent traffic. There she is a PhD in a liberal art taking apart this shitty report bit by bit.

ARGH!

Yeah, my area of expertise is living and traveling on wits and charisma without getting killed for pulling the kind of stupid shit I pull. Giving speeches about that would make it dramatically more difficult, so I'm not gonna.

Ishtar's ivory bosom! Stop posting while I'm typing!

Yeah, I know Susan. It's been a while. Hey Susan, how did things turn out with that whole... pecans and rattlesnakes situation?

Pecans good; rattlesnakes, not so much.

I was SicPreFix. We had some disagreements, but I think we ended on an up ... I hope.

By John Greg (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Yeah, that's a name that totally rings a bell. I disagree with a lot of people about a lot of things, it's not the sort of thing that I hold a grudge over. I certainly don't currently have any lingering issues with you, so I'd say we're cool.

"I love how a woman will put out a half-nude calendar, write posts about how she likes the occasional strange man hitting on her, sees a guy and writes a blog entry about how she just wanted to lick him from head to toe but then cries when someone asks her to coffee."

LOL, I want to see that link if you have it justicar. The one where she wants to lick the man, not the calender. If you thought the calender, you have a NASTY mind.

Oh man, I'm on the blag hag blog and someone said that men can't be raped by women. Well, to her rape is "unwanted penetration" so women can't "rape" men unless they have a strap-on. Seriously, she said so.

Oooh. Out of interest, how exactly do you apply to be a speaker at one of these events - local or otherwise? My folks both fit ye olde minority profile and are published experts in their pretty interesting fields (maths education and feminism/women's studies). I bet they'd like to do something fun while they're semi-retired.

Men can't be raped by women.

That makes me want to scream. I've had a friend who recently escaped being raped (he was drugged, but managed to get away) and is too ashamed to report it because of the persistent "men can't get raped" idea.

They've become a sort of impromptu cult, haven't they? They're just sitting there spreading their mad ideas amongst each other and congratulating themselves on it. Well done, let's blame all men for everything.

Yeah, I mentioned that if a man said he was raped, a typical response would be, "WTF? U some kinda fagit?!

I have known Randi for over 25 years,

Jilly and the erstwhile Ray for at least 20.

Dawkins I know, because I used to get crazy blasted in cov garden with Tom Baker at Keith R's bar.

Having stuck my butt out more than I normally do and just to hear ERV shout..."Holy shit snacks Batman!" I might feel inclined to reveal some crap tomorrow....

I am hungry, sleepy and full of gin, see you kids at sunrise...for coffee.

Turgid coffee.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

@Phyraxus

I KNEW I'd seen the name WMDKitty before, on UnreasonableFaith. UF has gone into full-on circle jerk mode, in defence of RW too (itonically named site, given the complete faith in RW that everyone's showing).

Can't honestly say I'm surprised she said what she did...

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

A self-proclaimed elevator guy named "ytheworldgoesround" just came forward in the privilege delusion post on skepchick. My favorite part of his post.

"Instead, I think you reduced me to your stereotype of a male and, ultimately, objectified me."

It's going to be very interesting to see what develops from this -- I thought it was a reasonably thoughtful, and thought-inducing post. I suspect there will be a lot of "fraud" calls. Do you suppose Watson, or one of her Mighty Minionsâ¢, might just delete it? That's happened before with posts that make them uncomfortable and which they cannot control.

By John Greg (not verified) on 09 Jul 2011 #permalink

Yes, developments will be interesting. Someone should pick up his response for a front page blog post, providing he is really elevator guy. I already left a positive response and asked for his side of the story.

Oh man, I'm on the blag hag blog and someone said that men can't be raped by women.
Hmm... depends on how the word "rape" is defined; one thing to be aware of is that, for example, under the British legal definition, the statement is true. The UK legal definition of rape is narrow such that only someone wielding a penis can be convicted of rape. A woman would be charged with the lesser offence of sexual assault. In the UK, the ability to be convicted of rape is a part of that "male privilege" people keep talking about.

Of course, this is just pedantry with words. And if you live in a legal jurisdiction that has a broader view of the word rape there is no reason to expect you to be aware of the narrow British definition.

@474-475: Except not. Turns out it was just a "thought experiment" to check out the reaction. And Rebecca's was: "Hilarious! I actually thought you were a misguided supporter of mine, since your âthought experimentâ actually clearly supported my position." Yeah, sure it did.

@467: Oh, ick. Not only rape, but the other associated legal/moral issues can't happen to men (or underage boys!) either. The sheer volume of "none of this matters if you have a penis" is astounding. Equality my ass.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

Hello,

Most of this week I had been reading the comments on Pharyngula, Skepchicks, et al and getting upset, dare I say I was feeling uncomfortable. But I found ERV, Scented Necktar, and Justicar and things have gotten better.
Things seem to have gone where she-who-is-not-to be-named (and her bulldog) I suspect wanted them to go. This post on Skepchick:

jansob

07.10.2011

You know, one thing that occurs to me is the resources weâve been given. We have thousands of post by cretins who have no business in polite society. We have the ear of the leadership of the skeptical movement. We have the momentum (JREF felt obliged to add a Code of Conduct, after all).

Use it. Use all of it to the fullest. Us the comment threads and Twitter feeds to identify the people who threatened women and used awful language to silence them and showed their misogynistic waysâ¦.name them. It is effective and has consequences. One dangerous pervert has already been removed from TAM due to his tweeting a threat to assault women at TAMâ¦when his employer found out, he lost his position. Thatâs the sort of pressure we can put on these scumbags. Name them, shame them, and make sure they are put on the spot in their local groups, and weed them out of participation in blogs, podcasts. Work with JREF to see that they donât get tickets to TAM10.

Second, I think this is the perfect time to put in place a TAM Womenâs Advisory Group to vet speakers and presentations. This group could weed out people who have shown themselves to be hostile to women (Dawkins is a gimme, but Iâm thinking of other person-âoidsâ who need to be ejected from the skeptical fold). Removing these anti-woman people from TAM would go a long way toward getting people like me to show up there!

and a quote from the bulldog from 2009 ( I guess I missed the implications previously):

Of course, such a move would piss off the libertarian/conservative wing of the atheist movement, but I can't see a down side to jettisoning them, anyway.

@480: So, Night of the Long Knives: TAM Edition? Seriously? (Yes, I know. Godwin's Law. Fuck off.) This is where the Skeptical/Atheist "community" is at now?

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

@422, clearly you're not an Eddie Izzard fan ;)

You know, as I've been watching all of this unfold, I just feel really disappointed with how the majority of people at Skepchick, Pharyngula et al are handling this. I only realised I was a skeptic in late 2009 - I was linked to Orac's blog around about the time that cheerleader Desiree Jennings got dystonia, supposedly after getting the flu shot. Anyway, from Orac's blog I just sort of started surfing around and discovered Skepchick and Bad Astronomy and all these other cool sites. Now, I had been an atheist and a skeptic for years, I just didn't know there was a word for it. And now suddenly there was this whole community online who felt the same way I did about science and reason and logic. And there was a name for us! It felt awesome! Here were a group of people, who I'll probably never meet, but who made me feel welcome and who were all united in a common goal to rid the world of pseudoscientific nonsense.
I read Skepchick pretty regularly from then on, mostly because there are a couple of good writers on the site, like Buggirl and the girl who does the geology posts (sorry, I can't remember her name at the minute), but I never really liked Rebecca Watson and I never really liked any of the posts on feminism, because they just never seemed to be that, well, logical to me. I never really agreed with them, but I never wrote comments on the posts because everyone else always seemed to be in agreement and I wasn't confident enough to say how I felt. And now looking at what they're doing, it actually makes me feel kind of disgusted. These are the people who helped me figure out who I was, in a way, and now they're acting like anyone who doesn't agree with their silly world view is a woman hater. ridiculous.

So thank you ERV, and Justicar and everybody else here that are proof that skepticism and logic and common fucking sense are still around, and hopefully won't be going anywhere soon!

highjohn-- That makes me ill. That makes me physically ill.

Also-- Id once again like to apologize for the random spamming of legit responses. Ill approve them ASAP, but I suggest replying with names or numbers+names cause numbers might be off and I dont want that to be a source of disagreement or confusion :)

Wild Zontargs asks:

"This is where the Skeptical/Atheist "community" is at now?"

No, but certainly that is where some parts of the Skeptical/Atheist "community" are at. Some parts of the community are healthy, such as here and to some degree Skepticblog, while other parts are either diseased, i.e., pandagon.net or anything people like wmdkitty say. But places like here at ERV help to keep perspective and keep us healthy ... in my opinion.

What's a Wild Zontarg?

By John Greg (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

The above posting sounds outright stalinist. i.e. The party must be purged from spies and wreckers, so that the one true ideology can prevail.

It is also a bit amusing that a so-called scientific skepticism movement settles disagreement not by rational discourse and scientific empiricism- but through leftist tactics right out of the 60s/70s (shout them down, don't let them speak, ruin their careers). Steven Pinker chronicles these same tactics being used against legitimate scientists that disagreed leftist social positions (i.e. the blank slate, noble savage doctrine, rape as power doctrine, etc) in the Blank Slate. In fact Dawkins has already been through this crap before when he published the "selfish gene" was subjected to same brain dead ideologues that called him a "reactionary" and "tool of the elites".

By Agent Smith (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

And thanks to phyraxus for posting on Skepchick that Dawkins was responding not to Watson but to the commenters on Myer's blog - though don't expect many to notice, they'd have to pause to breathe for that to happen...

At 480:

Good lord, I generally dislike the overuse of this word, but this concept of reforming the atheist/secularism movement and community into a leftist/feminist wonderland is taking an Orwellian turn, in particular suggestions that we should throw out (or seek to alienate) certain people based on difference of opinion with the feminist movement or their politics in a broader sense.

Granted, seeing as my politics are loosely aligned with libertarianism (albeit, with a large swing left on environmental issues) it's possible that I'm biased on this matter. But in reality I suspect that I dislike it because I'm not a fucking dick who believes that a person holding different political views (or views on feminism) than mine means that they have no value as a member of the skeptical community (or any other community, for that matter).

I think it's fucking insane that members of a so-called 'skeptical' community are advocating for GroupThink and conveniently disposing of members of the community who disagree. I find it even more insane that the suggestion is being made that any one group of bloggers has right to act as judge and jury in regards to these matters.

By Thomas M. (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

@487

Thomas, I would call myself a liberal (though sometimes I call myself a libertarian - I don't like force being used against anyone not using force themselves) and it strikes me the same way. You feel that way cause you're not a dick.

@John Greg: Yeah, I know it's not everyone, but it seems to be the same people who always go on about the "community" who are the ones trying to chop it up into little bits. Then again, I suppose that's the same for any other interest group. That's life, I guess.

"Wild zontargs" are some of Spaceman Spiff's (imaginary) nemeses from Calvin and Hobbes. Apparently, even they couldn't drag secret information out of him. It's one of those things that just stuck with me, so I went with it as one of my usernames. For reasons that are looking increasingly less paranoid, my meatspace self doesn't exist on the internet.

By Wild Zontargs (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

Also notice about the above posting at 480- the implicit assumption is not only that their political opponents are WRONG (fine, we all have different values)) but that they formulated their different opinions because they are malicious. Notice the subjective bad-faith implicit in terms like "cretins", "dangerous pervert", "scumbags". This is in-group out-group language at its finest.

Once that assumption (bad faith, out-group dynamic) happens there can be no more rational discourse or settlement between the parties- in their mind it is now a full out battle between good and evil.

Very similar to the groupthink dynamic that exists within certain religious groups and communist/socialist parties. We all can fall prey to the same instinct, and the skepticism movement should be no different. Human nature is human nature.

By Agent Smith (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

@ 480

Bloody nora...

I said it over on Justicar's blog, I'll say it here: the witch-hunt that's been stirred up is going to cause harm; there's no way I can see it NOT doing. The more rational, sensible members of the movement are going to feel forced away, and people, male OR female, who were thinking about this whole skepticism thing might be put off.

It's completely bloody sickening!

By Marco the Beagle (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

Thomas M. again, switching to a more recent screen name. Based on a few comments here it seems that I'm not the only one who finds this nuts and I'm glad that it's not me. I'm not sure I can think entirely rationally right now in my rage induced state over what I just read.

Seriously, I just watched a video over on Coyne's blog* where people were asked a number of questions to test scientific trivia knowledge. One of the questions was 'Which animal has the biggest testicles?' As it stands, if the question was 'Which animal has the biggest dick?' my reply would be 'The one holding P.Z. Myers.'

No doubt I am going to regret this when my rage cools, but so be it.

By Southern Geologist (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

Phyraxus @ 467:
If you followed my blog, you'd have had an accounting of that already. So, get with the program already! I write about it here:
http://integralmath.blogspot.com/2011/07/ceterum-censeo-rebecca-twatson…

Rystefn:
I just started reading to blog today. Good stuff.

I'll go ahead and plug my post from today. It's on Jennifer McCreight (rhymes with wrong), and her, um, outright lies, and non-apology for it. It's link/citation heavy just to show that it's not hard information to find. But she banned my ass because I called her out on twitter for, at the time anyway, being wrong. Now that she's banned me, refuses to concede she made misstatements of facts, it's a lie. It's deception; she should know that it's false, but still let's it stand without correction.

So, my voice isn't sufficient to make her take it seriously (as she didn't) and then when I start making sense, she prevents me from saying anything to her (I suppose I could e-mail or whatever, but she accused publicly, she needs to defend publicly). So, you gang of people are going to have to be part of that. Or not. I guess it depends on whether the simple matter of what is true continues to remain unimportant in this whole ordeal.

http://integralmath.blogspot.com/2011/07/ceterum-censeo-rebecca-twatson…

There. Go read it. Call me out if I screwed something up. (I don't even censor people there! unlike on blaghag!)

@481

May I call you Wild,
My worry was more Poe's Law than Godwin's. To bring up an example that Agent Smith didn't list: "person-oids" How can any person actually type that? Can't they see what it "sounds" like? But that applies to the whole post.

You know, it's times like these I find myself wishing I could post on Skepchick... Although I'm honestly not sure if I'm actually banned over there or not, I'm about 137% certain that if I posted on this, I'd be deleted and banned before it got through moderation.

Also, there is seriously someone arguing that on blaghag that because some people lie about rape, the whole gender should never be believed when claiming it, regardless of evidence. Really. Apparently pointing out that this is insane is the same as running around screaming "OBEY THE PENIS!"

Zontargs:

"'Wild zontargs' are some of Spaceman Spiff's (imaginary) nemeses from Calvin and Hobbes."

Eech! I should know that; I've got the whole kit-and-kaboodle collection in hard cover.

/slaps my Calvin/Hobbes oversight

By John Greg (not verified) on 10 Jul 2011 #permalink

So I linked your post to Jen, Justicar. Don't think she's likely to respond to me, of course... More likely I'd just get myself banned too.

I really don't get it. Like you, I only moderate for spam. I did put someone on moderation once, but that's the limit.

The illiberal and authoritarian approach at places like PZ, BlagHag etc., is made all the more obvious with the aggressive attempts to control commentary; closing threads and banning people for disagreeing with them.

The ignorance about rape is astonishing as well. Several have claimed that rape is essentially always male-on-female, and this is staggeringly ignorant. Male-on-male rape is more common than most people think; perhaps even than most on this blog may realise. Not just homosexual male-on-male rape either (which has been at least recognised here). Heterosexual male-on-male rape is far more common than most people are aware of.

This shocks many people when they find out. They assume rape, being an overtly sexual act, is motivated by sexual desire. But this is not usually the case. Rape is about exerting control, which is why hetero male-on-male rape is so (surprisingly) common. It is about the rapist saying, I choose what happens to your body, not you; the ultimate control.

Similar behaviour has been witnessed in both men and women; even though it is physically more difficult for a woman to commit rape, there are many examples of gang rape taking place while women in the gang cheer on the rapists. Many were astonished and asked why they would do this. Such people do not understand rape. It comes as no surprise to people who understand what rape is really about; the rape was an exercise of punishment and control, and the women in the gang wanted to impose that control just as much as the men.

Most of the radfems view rape through the lens of a horny male looking to get his end away, and are thereby linking EG to potential rape, because that is how they perceive rape to come about. This is essentially the same error as the anti-pr0n movement make. Because both pr0n and rape contain sex, one causes the other. As most skeptics know, this is all manner of BS. Despite many studies, no compelling evidence has been found linking pr0n and rape.

But the linkages being made on SkepChick and BlagHag are just as simplistic, and most likely just as wrong; and their desire to impose draconian rules on this basis absurd.