Question for my readers.

Don't make a move until you've CLICKED HERE.

Then you can continue on to this post. Thanks.


I think the accusation that I've "stalked" fellow blogger Abbie Smith have been made one too many times. But I'm not sure. Is this the point where I lay out the exact sequence of events of what happened between us? What do you think?

OK, here's the story.

Abbie Smith had created an informal group of people who were to eventually become known as the Slyme Pit, mostly Mens Rights Activists, who had come together to object to feminist writings by various bloggers and others, especially those writings that criticized rape and abuse, stalking and harassment, etc. The Slyme Pitters are mostly techies or self styled skeptics, mostly males, who had been enjoying their sexist cultures and apparently did not like others speaking of alternatives to the basic patriarchic pattern. She created this community on her blog, on two or three blog posts here at scienceblogs, which were removed.

Meanwhile she started up serious on line harassment campaigns against at least one graduate student, IIRC an undergraduate student, and a couple of senior academics. It was pretty nasty.

So, as a member of the academic community I took it upon myself to write a polite letter to the chair of her department, where she was working towards a gradate degree. In this letter I, I informed him of the outline of the situation and suggested he might advice his graduate student to tone it down. This is something that happens now and then. Senior people sometimes have conversations about junior people when the junior people are outrageously out of line and victimizing their peers or those that they may even be senior to (the undergraduate/recent graduate, for example).

I wrote the note to her chair and not her advisor because I did not know what kind of relationship she might have with her advisor. It is quite possible for grad student to have access to the advisor's email, for example, depending on how they are employed. Also, I was concerned that Abbie might be as manipulative in her academic position as she was on her blog; for all I knew her advisor was one of the slymepitters. So I figured I'd step back one level and write it to her department chair. That is one of the few important jobs department chairs do: deal with problem graduate students. I also cc'd the dean/president's office (can't remember, anyway the head of the school Abbie was in).

Within about 48 hours of me emailing this, I received an email from an on line person known as Gunter. Gunter is one of the slymepitters. He offered me a deal. I would apologize to Abbie for sending this note to her advisor (to whom I sent the note was already being gotten wrong) or he would publicize the email. You might wonder how some guy with no association whatsoever with Abbie's department got a copy of an email I sent to the chair and head of the college.

Wondering about that, I sent a second email, this time just to the head of the college and the council, asking if it was their practice to distribute emails concerning their students to members of the public, or was this something, perhaps, that the chair of Abbie'd department had done.

I got a very contrite note back from the college. Abbie shut up, herself, thereafter. But members of the slyme pit, which has just recruited a new member or two, continue to turn this series of events ... what I just described to you ... into an accusation that I've stalked/harassed/whatever Abbie Smith.

So, that's what happened.

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I don't know anything about the situation at all. I only remember it coming up in comment threads from people who had previously explained why being accused of rape is worse than being rape, so I haven't found the sources for the information, particularly credible. If it's coming up often enough that you are repeatedly explaining what happened, then maybe it makes sense to have a blog post you can link people to. Again, not knowing the details of the situation, I can't even begin to guess what the outcome of posting about it would be, but that's my 2¢.

For my part, I suppose I rely on an appeal to authority. The circles you run in don't tend to have much tolerance for harassing women and the people accusing you seem to have an endless tolerance for it, therefore, so I'm inclined to consider the claim that you are a stalker unlikely at best.

I know nothing of this situation. It sounds like something I wish to stay ignorant of too. That's my two cents.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 23 May 2013 #permalink

Don't believe the previous commenters. Please post
all the details.


It's probably a good idea Greg - that way at least you can always just post a link to it when it inevitably arises again - saves wear and tear on your typing finger(s) :)

By Doug Alder (not verified) on 23 May 2013 #permalink

Give that she knows the accusations are being made and does nothing herself to correct them, yeah, probably.

By Stephanie Zvan (not verified) on 23 May 2013 #permalink

You would have to give us a lot more information to know what is going on. The link seemed singularly unhelpful, but I may just be being dumb.

I did not find the posted link helpful in understanding the brouhaha under discussion. Stephanie, could you post a link to what it is that you're commenting on? I'm not familiar with "Abbie Smith" but looking at her blog she seems like a mensch.


It is satisfying that most people (here, on facebook, other contexts) don't know what this is about or have only very little information. The non-detailed version is this. Abbie Smith was doing something I did not like that was actually being done in a way that any reasonable person would likely agree with the argument that it was harmful to others and needed to stop. As it happens, these things also were likely harmful to her and her career. So, one way to handle this sort of thing, in academica, and this has happened before lots of time, was to privately and quietly contact her department or advisor or someone ... i.e. a mentor or someone responsible for mentoring at one level up just in case the mentoring sucked ... and give the basic details and suggest that someone have a sit down talk.

So, I did that.

A few hours after I sent the note, something very remarkable happened that can only be explained if someone, including but not necessarily limited to Abbie herself, did something that was extraordinarily unprofessional. Shocking, in fact.

So, I fixed that too.

After that, everything was fine regarding Abbie as far as I know, but some of her loyal followers have crafted a tale of what I did that has nothing to do with reality. I am said to have stalked her until I found out who her boss was, then tried to get her fired. There was no stalking, and since stalking as far as I know is an illegal activity, these accusations are really inappropriate. Abbie is a graduate student affiliated with a department and she is open about this affiliation. "Stalking" meant emailing. The idea that I tried to get her fired is interesting. If you saw the missive I sent it would be clearly the case that I did not do that. Anyway, the drumbeat of exaggerated or simply made up accusations ran for a while after the shocking event I mention above occurred, then died off, but they keep coming back. Every now and then one of Abbie's boys wakes up with a boner and has to relieve himself by tweeting about me or making a comment on a blog post somewhere.

I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of times this happens (though I obviously have no way to know) I don't even know about it but now and then one of these accusative lies is brought to my attention. So I decided a while back that if I were to tell the true story (filling out the details above, posting the letter and other communications I had related to this, etc.), that this would be very bad for Abbie.It would make her look ... well, shockingly bad. For this reason I've not done so.

But, I figure that Abbie probably still runs her crew, calls the shots with her friends that are making these accusations. I know this because after the shocking thing I refer to happened, it was obvious that they were contacted by her and told exactly what to do next (in that case, shut up else she get in big trouble). Given this, does it not make sense that she would reign them in if it became obvious that if I'm sufficiently antagonized by them I'll just spill the beans and put on record that Abbie Smith can't be trusted by anyone who isn't a fool?

So there it is. If one more remark comes across my desk, which would probably require someone sending me info on it because I do not monitor Abbie and her crew, then the details will be assembled, written up (over on the X blog with a googly-moogly pointer from her so it will be easy to find on the internet) and Abbie will be asking herself if her friends are really her friends.

Or maybe they've never really been her friends, or maybe that community has fallen apart and they are all trying to stick it to each other these days. To that I say what I think Abbie would say...

,,,,. *whatevs* ... ^blink^ ... ^blink^

This is the first I've heard of it.

Sounds too much like "He said/She said", petty drama to me. The meat of 99% of those sorts of conflicts come down to psychological ambivalence, poorly chosen words, things said/heard/taken out of context, assumptions made about the other person's intentions/motivations, internalization of the other person's bias and projection of your own. And that assumes neither side is trying to justify their own bias, privilege or advantage. It doesn't interest me.

I'm told that interpersonal conflict and chastisement of bigots/non-compliant individuals is all part of the plan/path toward a more just/equitable/righteous society but it looks to me more like sausage making without the benefit of ending up with sausages. Ugliness working toward a goal is acceptable. Whacking around each other in a way that benefits none and changes nothing doesn't sound like progress. Making it personal seems counterproductive.

I'd stay out of that fight. In some people's minds you're on probation for some other things you once said to some other people. I'm not sure your reputation has recovered enough to venture into this quagmire. I could be wrong, of course.

By Charles Sullivan (not verified) on 23 May 2013 #permalink

Charles, my reputation is fine, thank you. Also, there is no "probation" ... there are people who have decided to repeat again and again that I did something that I did not do ("stalking" abbie smith). For them this is part of their effort to discredit me and a number of other individuals who have written in favor of certain radical feminist ideas, such as "rape is bad."

I've stood up for principles along with a number of other people, and
those who oppose those principles, rather than just stating their
opposition, have gone out of their way to carry out endless harassment
campaigns. That is not "being on probation."

Your comment is absurd and offensive.

If someone is doing something dumb and I feel I should do something about it, I would generally go directly to them and discuss it.

Is Comment #8 the "exact sequence of events" that you teased us with, Greg? It doesn't even have dates.


bks: I've not given any information at all, really. That's just a framework for those who indicated that they had no clue what we were talking about. So I guess if I was teasing you before (though that was not my intent) I'm still teasing.

You should consider just getting a lawer and filing suit against anyone saying you are "stalking" someone. I agree that this implies that you have committed a crime. As I understand it you sent a letter (or so I heard you say once) to a person's advisor asking that she be told to stop making outrageoius claims and accusations, and it would appear that this was effective. That is not stalking, it is acting in a responsible way within a community of people.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Your info directly addresses the accusations agains you. Put it out there and let the chip fall where they may.

It looks like you'd be punishing someone over somebody else actions. Unless you can demonstrate someone has control over somebodys and is responsible for it, and even in that case, I wonder if the punishment would not be too harsch. I suggest you don't push on the red button. I've not seen you accused of stalking in places I read, and I'm quite ecclectic, so the places you were accused of are probably not that important. You wouldn't tidy public closets with atomic bombing, would you?

Like many of your other readers, I don't know anything more about the situation than is contained in this post and the comments. There's nothing in the timeline laid out @8 that I would find objectionable, so unless somebody on Abbie's side is disputing that timeline I don't see what the controversy is about. (One e-mail does not constitute stalking; it would take several unsolicited contacts to rise to that level.) I note that Abbie hasn't posted to her blog here since 7 May, but I don't know whether that has anything to do with the kerfluffle under discussion.

For that matter, I don't know if she's off line because of the tornado on Monday. She's in the Oklahoma City metro area, and given her university affiliation it's likely she lives on the south side of town. I don't follow Twitter or Facebook, so I don't know if she's posted there (somebody can correct me if I'm wrong), but there may be a perfectly innocent explanation for her radio silence this week. Of course, if she has had an active online presence (more than "I'm alright" tweets/Facebook posts) since Monday, then her silence on this topic is problematic.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 24 May 2013 #permalink

Eric, her silence on *what topic*? If some bozo, *not Abbie Smith*, said something about Greg, I'm not sure why she has to get involved. Greg's comment about "her crew" makes me think that there is a whole cast of characters here. Sort of an atheists' Peyton Place. Does Greg have a crew?


I don't have a skeptical/atheist crew. But you're right, I've not seen a thing written or said by Smith in months. Let me be less sublte, because Eric's note indicated I've been so. This is me subtly sending Abbie a message that she'll have her winged monkeys stop with the "greg stalked a woman for a year" or "greg stalked abbie smith" etc. etc. because the next time I run across a statement like this I will simply explain what happened in detail. And, the part that would make Abbie look untrustworthy isn't really an issue for me. It is something she did that was inappropriate and I've been nicer than I need to be to not make a big deal out of it. That ends the next time I see my name and a word anything like "stalk" in the same sentence.

Re Eric Lund @ #22

It is my information that Smith is working hard on finishing her dissertation. Although I have no information concerning the progress of her job hunting, which she indicated earlier on was ongoing, it may be that she has a job lined up and is hurrying to finish up.

I don't know about Greg, but Stephanie, Eric and SLC all seem to be all up in Abbie Smith's grill (comments #5, #22, #25 above). In the intro, the link provided by Greg points to a post in which Abbie Smith appears only in a comment by "John C. Welch" who, if Mr. Google serves, is this guy:
who seems to be a middle-aged IT guy who lives in Florida. I'm still puzzled as to why Abbie Smith should have to get involved in a dust-up started by a guy 20 years her senior in a different state.