Thunderf00t’s inflammatory video of misleading personal attacks on atheist feminists is not helpful

by Michael Nugent on January 3, 2013

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Thunderf00t’s new video of personal attacks on named atheist feminists is inflammatory, misleading and unhelpful to the international atheist and secular communities. As he is now making this a formal campaign, aimed at conference organizers and leaders in secular groups, I have decided to respond to it.

TF is asking us as conference organizers to ostracize named atheist feminists who he describes as toxic parasites who are dripping poison, as well as spanners and muppets, and he is asking his viewers to forward the video to leaders of secular groups to help to make this happen.

I know that TF is criticizing behavior that he sincerely believes is harming the atheist and secular communities, but his personal attacks are disproportionate to his concerns, they are unfair to those who he is attacking, and they are not helping to resolve the issues that they address.

He is also illustrating his concerns with factual misrepresentations, and I hope that this article will provide a counterbalance to those misrepresentations. I also hope that Thunderf00t will reconsider his approach to this issue, because I believe that it is not constructive.

1. Ideas that I agree with in the video
2. Recent performance of the secular community
3. Personal attack on Amy Davis Roth
4. Personal attack on Rebecca Watson
5. Personal attack on PZ Myers
6. Attack on the Skepticon harassment policy
7. The meanings of the word atheism
8. The right to say things that offend people
9. Personal attack on Melody Hensley
10. My response to TF’s requests

1. Ideas that I agree with in the video

There are two important ideas in the video about which I agree with Thunderf00t:

People should have the right to robustly criticize other people’s beliefs and ideas and behaviors, even if doing so causes offence.

Participants at conferences should not be subject to restrictions on personal behavior that are not necessary to prevent harassment.

These are genuine concerns that TF is obliged to express, if he believes that these rights are being eroded, on important issues of freedom of expression and personal autonomy. I believe that his fears about these rights being eroded within the atheist and secular community are misplaced, but they are important issues and TF is right to highlight them. His personal attacks on named people, as well as being ethically wrong, also distract from our attempts to address these important concerns rationally.

2. Recent performance of the secular community

Thunderf00t begins his video by saying:

“To be quite honest, I have been sickened by the recent performance of the secular community.”

That is an unusual reaction to the ongoing work of a mostly voluntary community, that has been actively lobbying around the world to protect the human rights of atheists and others, not only against political attacks on freedom of conscience and expression, but also against physical attacks including imprisonment, beatings and murders, and that has combined this challenging and often dangerous work with promoting reason, science and ethical secularism, as well as providing social and moral support for atheists living in often overwhelmingly religious societies.

TF then says that:

“The problem is that many in leadership positions have managed to get themselves bullied or cajoled into this bullshit PC appeasement position by people who are conspicuous in that they proudly label themselves as feminists.”

Behind this description, he scrolls a list of people, including me, who wrote articles for Skepchick last year, on the topic of speaking out against hate directed at women. Did TF even read those articles, I wonder? Because, if he did, I am unclear as to why he would choose to describe them in these terms.

These are articles encouraging people to behave in an ethical, compassionate way towards the women in our community, and to stand alongside those women when they face verbal or physical threats either online or in real life. What possible reason could TF have to be sickened by these appeals?

Even if everything else in his video was 100% accurate, even if the people he is attacking were actually worse than he believes them to be, TF should still support appeals for people to speak out against hate directed at women. That is is a very basic, rock-bottom, minimalistic ethical position that he should be able to publicly support alongside his other concerns about some people’s behavior.

3. Personal attack on Amy Davis Roth

Thunderf00t starts by calling Amy Davis Roth:

“Folk who find T-shirts like this offensive enough to reduce them to tears. Folk who think that the abusive use of copyright law to stifle free speech is a valid tactic. Folk who think that fake jewellery, and not offending people, should be classed as forms of harassment at conventions on a par with physical groping.”

He then plays an audio extract of Amy saying:

“We’re not asking for anything crazy, just basic rules so that we can say, you know, the sort of things like, making fake jewellery and intentionally offending people is not okay, nor is grabbing someone’s ass.”

So let’s examine TF’s personal attack on Amy.

Amy is a decent, kind person who devotes much of her time and creativity to doing good things. She runs fundraisers and contributes money from her ceramics to provide grants for women going to secular conferences who otherwise could not afford to go. At the conference in question, some people tried to make Amy personally feel unwelcome in various ways, including but not limited to designing imitations of her ceramics mocking her. Also, somebody wore a t-shirt mocking Skepchick generally but not specifically Amy. The combination of all of this caused Amy to feel upset, because she is a person with the same emotional vulnerabilities as most people, and she and her mother left the conference early.

TF has responded by mocking this natural human vulnerability, making fun of somebody for being upset to the extent that she cried, and minimising to the point of misrepresentation the reason that she was upset. I can’t speak for TAM, but if somebody like Amy had funded grants for people to attend an Atheist Ireland conference, and if some people were actively trying to make her feel unwelcome at the conference in this way, I would be doing my absolute best to ensure that she did feel welcome. Combatting actual physical harassment is the minimum that we as conference organisers should aim for: we should also be aiming higher, trying to help people to have a positively enjoyable and worthwhile time.

TF inaccurately claims that Amy said making fake jewellery is on a par with physical groping, which Amy never said. TF then criticizes Amy’s decision to use copyright law, to try to prevent people from creating parody images of her jewellery to mock her. As a general principle, I tend towards agreeing with TF about this, although artists are of course entitled to legitimately use copyright law to protect their work.

I assume that TF is unaware that Amy has since reconsidered that decision, and has said that she had made mistakes in her handling of the situation. She has explained that she had put so much time and love and energy into creating those pieces that she found it difficult to separate herself from her work when angry people started using her images to mock and belittle her. And she has since decided to release all of her photographs of her jewellery under a non-commercial creative Commons license, which means that anyone can share, copy or even adapt the images to make new art, under the terms of that license.

In doing this she is rising above the hate directed at her, and channelling her reaction into a positive outcome for herself and others.

4. Personal attack on Rebecca Watson

Thunderf00t then attacks Rebecca Watson:

“Well, take for instance the professional victims, who went from conference to conference telling people each time that the sexual harassment at those conferences was so bad that they were literally putting their lives on the line merely by turning up…”

Which he illustrates with video of Rebecca saying:

“You can’t trust the cops, you can’t trust people to believe your story, you can’t trust the people who hang out with you at these events, you can’t trust the leaders of our community to give a damn.”

TF then says:

“…that was so dangerous that they had to go around in pairs”

Which he illustrates with video of Rebecca saying:

“So at the conference, all of the Skepchick writers who were there instituted a buddy system, in which we always travelled together, or with a male escort, and especially when returning to hotel rooms late at night.”

I assume that TF is unaware of this, but the two video extracts that he showed of Rebecca were taken out of context, and even in the wrong sequence, from a speech in which she was talking about a far wider range of issues than harassment at conferences.

Here is the full video that TF has used selective extracts from.

And here are the relevant sections, in the correct sequence, and in context, and with the quotes that TF has used highlighted in bold:

“(Soon after starting Skepchick) I got an email from a man I didn’t know, and the email simply called me a cunt. And I responded in my trademark way, which was actually to be really over the top nice: I said something like thank you very much for your feedback I will take that into consideration. And he immediately responded, and said that if he lived closer to Boston he would come and put a bullet in my brain. So I looked at the email headers and got his IP address, and I found that he was in a town in North Carolina, so I contacted the local police department in that town. And I explained what the email said, and I asked can I forward it to you for you to pursue. and they said no, we can’t do anything about that, you should get in touch with your local police department. So I got in touch with my Massachusetts police Department, and explained everything to them, and they said what we can do is we can put this complaint in a file, and then if he does anything we will have that file… So the lesson that I learnt almost immediately after stepping into the spotlight was that the spotlight is really scary, and the police will not help me…

Within a year of starting Skepchick I had my own stalker. The twist was my stalker was a woman. And I had no idea how to handle that, because everything I knew about stalkers came from Lifetime Original Movies, about a woman escaping a domineering boyfriend or husband. None of them were about an obsessive woman on another continent who was trying to ruin another woman’s life, which was what I was dealing with. And try she did. She would spread malicious lies about me, if she saw on Facebook that I was dating she would get in touch and tell them what a whore I am, and she tried to get me disqualified from a contest I was entering for a radio show. And we had some mutual friends, and at first they didn’t believe me when I told them how obsessive and scary she was getting. They chalked it up to a personality difference that would eventually blow over. And so what I learned from that was that many people, even friends, will not believe me until they themselves are subject to the same harassment…

Last year I was scheduled to speak at the Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas and, just before I was to attend, a man tweeted that he would be attending, and that if he ran into me he would sexually assault me. The JREF, who organised the conference, allowed the man to come, and did absolutely nothing to make me feel safer. In fact, the man was even angrier at me by the time the conference rolled around because, by retweeting what he had said, my friends had actually got him fired from his freelance writing job. So at the conference, all of the Skepchick writers who were there instituted a buddy system, in which we always travelled together, or with a male escort, and especially when returning to hotel rooms late at night. So what I learned from that was that I can’t rely on the leaders of our movement to care, or to actually take action to help….

So I know that’s all a bit depressing. It’s a great way to start a conference isn’t it? So those lessons: You can’t trust the cops, you can’t trust people to believe your story, you can’t trust the people who hang out with you at these events, you can’t trust the leaders of our community to give a damn. There have been exceptions though. For instance, recently I’ve been to the FBI, who have been much more willing to listen to me than local police, though at the moment no one has been arrested for making threats on my life. But I’ve had friends and strangers alike who’ve never questioned my word on dealing with harassment. At events like this, I’m inundated with the best people in the world. Every time I give a talk, I meet so many amazing wonderful people, while usually the online bullies are too frightened to talk to me. And a few organisation leaders have been fantastic.”

When you read these extracts in context, you can see that TF has, I assume inadvertently, seriously misrepresented what Rebecca was saying. He has conflated three different incidents, one about an online death threat, one about a stalker, and one about a conference, into an edited narrative that seems to be completely about conferences.

  • TF said that Rebecca and others are saying that they were ‘literally putting their lives on the line merely by turning up’ at conferences, when in fact Rebecca was referring to a death threat that she received that had nothing to do with conferences.
  • TF said that Rebecca and others were ‘going from conference to conference telling people each time’ that their lives were on the line, when in fact there is no evidence of anybody saying that at even one conference, never mind at many conferences.
  • TF said that Rebecca and others were saying that the sexual harassment at conferences ‘was so dangerous that they had to go around in pairs’, when in fact Rebecca said that about one conference where they had concerns about a specific person.
  • TF implied that Rebecca was saying that she couldn’t trust the police in the context of conferences, when she in fact she was referring to something unrelated to conferences.
  • TF quoted Rebecca as listing people she said she couldn’t trust, without including her follow-up line of ‘There have been exceptions though,’ and her far longer list of people that she could trust and who she found very supportive.

If TF had shown more representative extracts from Rebecca’s speech, he would not have so seriously misrepresented what she was saying. I assume that the reason he did not do this was that he did not have video of the full speech available, as if he had, I assume he would have treated her more fairly.

As an aside, there is nothing unusual about women – or indeed men – instituting a buddy system, for either protection or peace of mind, in any situation where they would feel more comfortable with a friend than alone. My late wife worked in the Irish Parliament, among other places, where she and her work colleagues would do just this when they knew they were likely to be in the presence of certain individuals.

5. Personal attack on PZ Myers

Thunderf00t then attacks PZ Myers as:

“those who suggest, with a straight face, that there is actually an active debate in the secular community at the moment as to whether the women are fuck toys and eye candy for privileged white men or are equal colleagues. Yes, apparently the debate is taking place online in exactly those binary terms with no other positions available.You see, PZ Myers said so.”

Which he illustrates with video of PZ saying:

“For instance, the Internet community of atheists is racked with these paroxysms of argument over, of all things, the status of women. We’re trying to decide whether women are fuck toys and eye candy for the privileged white men, or whether we are colleagues together in this movement. And I would have said some time ago: all that’s easy, that’s settled, we know the answer is that they are equal partners in this effort. But surprisingly, that debate is going on on the Internet right now. I guess misogyny is not the sole prerogative of Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. There are also some atheists that feel this way.”

TF then says:

“Look I don’t know whose bright idea it was to get these guys to talk at critical thinking type conferences, but what he is saying here is so outrageously detached from reality. It’s not even a strawman. It simply bullshit. It’s an outrageous fiction, told to conjure up this bogeyman that there is a great faction of the secular community that argues that women are fuck toys and eye candy for privileged white men. Okay maybe that’s unfair. Maybe there’s a tiny fraction that think that women are fuck toys and eye candy for privileged white men.”

And he humorously illustrates this with a photograph of PZ being kissed by two women.

So let’s examine TF’s personal attack on PZ.

Firstly, PZ was clearly not suggesting that this debate was taking place in those literal terms. He was clearly using the oratorical device of hyperbole, just as he was when he said elsewhere in that same speech:

“Twenty years ago, atheism was mainly cranky old white men arguing about the Bible, then ten years ago we advanced to cranky middle aged white men griping about religion but also talking a lot about science…”

“You could construct an interesting predictive model of how the world works based on assuming that Harry Potter is true…”

“If I believed Jesus was returning, I would be stocking up with timber and nails, because it took care of him last time…”

I doubt if there was a single person at that conference, including TF at the time, that interpreted any of these phrases literally, just as none of TF’s viewers will interpret him literally when he says elsewhere in his video that some people are spanners and muppets.

Secondly, PZ was not suggesting that that there is ‘a great faction’ of the secular community that is opposed to treating women equally. Indeed, his wider point was that the atheist community as a whole does in fact fight for equality for all. As with his selective quotations from Rebecca Watson’s speech, he did not include this part of PZ’s speech:

“Anyone acquainted with the history of atheism and feminism knows that they have often gone arm in arm anyway, because atheism is a philosophy of liberation and religion has so often been a tool of oppression. What I’ve seen over and over again in the past decades is that atheist groups find common cause on the right side of history, fighting for equality and justice for all oppressed groups.

My own atheist communities at home in Minnesota are also active in the fight for gay marriage equality. Why? Because, when you strip away the bogus religious rationalisations, there is no argument to be made against it. And humanist values for respect and autonomy simply cry out that this injustice cannot stand.

It isn’t science that tells us that we should fight for equality, although it does inform us that we are all one people. It’s something deeper, a sense of empathy, a loathing of unfairness, that fuels this cause. And I think we should embrace it. It represents the universality of atheism.”

Thirdly, I am puzzled that TF is now quoting from this particular speech in order to discredit PZ. This speech took place at last year’s European Atheist Conference in Cologne in Germany. During the breaks in that conference, TF and I and PZ and others spent time happily socializing in the beer garden of the hotel without TF raising any concerns about the content of PZ’s speech. Whatever may have happened between then and now does not change the content, or the meaning of the content, of what PZ said in Cologne.

6. Attack on the Skepticon harassment policy

TF then attacks the Skepticon harassment policy:

“Well now, thanks to the scare tactics and bogeyman that these toxic parasites have conjured up, we now have conferences with harassment policies that look like this: Additionally, exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.”

He uses this to segue into two more personal attacks. He says:

“What, you mean creating a sexualized environment like this? Or maybe like this?”

TF then shows a video sequence of PZ, on stage in Skepticon 3 in 2010, repeatedly telling a woman that if she wins a card game, that he will have sex with her later. He and the woman and the audience are all laughing.

As with other examples, TF has edited this to show it in the worst possible light. The missing context is that PZ was using a game of poker as an analogue for evolution, and he was humorously describing forfeits for losing, included chasing as squirrels for a bag of nuts, or him killing and eating her, or them having sex. TF edited out PZ saying “By the way, that last joke, if you are doing this in a classroom, don’t use it.” He also edited out the woman jokingly asking PZ for his hotel room key.

On balance, I agree with TF about this criticism, although ironically I doubt that TF agrees with it himself. I have no problem in principle with sexual dialogue on stage at conferences. In my opinion, given the context in this case of a presenter talking on stage with a volunteer from the audience who he did not know, these comments were inappropriate, and PZ should not have made them. He might not do the same today.

TF then shows a photo of somebody putting a banknote down Rebecca Watson’s top. On the face of it, there is nothing inappropriate about this picture. It seems consensual, light-hearted and private. If I am mistaken in that interpretation, then TF has a point.

TF then says:

“That’s right, the harassment policy is now venturing into telling people what they can and cannot wear at conferences. Sorry girls, dresses, jewellery, make-up, that’s creating a sexualized environment that promotes gender stereotypes, gender traitors and sister punishers diminishing and minimising the experience that their fellow women have suffered at the hands of the patriarchy. I think of the words those who want to protect you from this harassment that you are not even aware of would use. Seriously, who would pay money to go to a convention like this? I mean, the time away from your job, the travel costs, the hotel costs, the conference costs, simply to be judged by some highly strong and extremely hypocritical professional victims as to whether their clothes constitute creating a sexualised environment and therefore fall under the harassment policy.”

TF seems to be imagining a problem here. He seems to be misrepresenting the harassment policy that he is selectively quoting from. The quote that he uses refers only to the dress code for the booth staff of exhibitors, sponsors or vendors in the Expo Hall. The harassment policy says nothing about any dress code for speakers or participants at the conference.

It describes harassment as follows:

“Harassment includes offensive verbal comments [related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religious identity], deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.”

With regard to sexuality, it says:

“While Skepticon does encourage an environment of sex positivity where sex and sexuality are discussed, we will make every effort to make our convention attendees as comfortable as possible.’

You can read the entire policy here.

But the detail of specific harassment policies is not the central issue. Whatever about the detail that is included, it should not be controversial in principle for event organisers to have policies to prevent participants being harassed. I would go further, and suggest that harassment policies should be one part of a wider policy aimed at helping participants to positively enjoy their time at the conference.

7. The meanings of the word atheism

Thunderf00t then moves on to the definition of words. He says:

“But the poisoning doesn’t end there. These spanners actually wants to redefine what words mean. You know, like atheism used to mean just not accepting that there was a God or gods. Well, no it means this:”

He then shows a video of PZ showing a slide and saying:

“And when we use science, it answers problems. It resolves questions for us. We should do more of that, by the way. See now, I propose this: atheism is the radical notion that we should live our lives by the principle of reason and evidence – that is, by science.”

TF then says:

“And, of course, those rational goals are phrased in exactly the same radical notion language that constitutes the false strawman dichotomy that lies at the heart of his feminist dogma.”

Putting aside the irony of calling people spanners in the same sentence as complaining about the changing meanings of words, there is nothing unusual in seeing the meanings of words evolve over time. The meanings of words are determined by how people use them as tools of communication, and dictionaries attempt to retrospectively record the evolving meanings.

As an observation, not as a prescription, the word atheism has more than one meaning, and those meanings have changed over time. It used to mean immoral people who rejected the established gods of their societies, and it now mostly has more neutral meanings, that include believing there are no gods and not believing there are gods.

In this slide, PZ was referring not to the philosophical position of atheism, but to the evolution of the atheist secular community that has arisen from New Atheism. And, as Matt Dillahunty has said today, PZ has since removed that slide from this presentation, precisely to avoid the type of confusion that can arise from it being taken out of context.

8. The right to say things that offend people

Thunderf00t then moves on to champion freedom of expression. He says:

“And sure, let muppets like this have their way. And they wouldn’t stop by merely trying to control what you wear. They would extend the right to prohibit you from saying things that people might find offensive.”

TF then shows Esteleth, a guest on PZ Myers Google hangout, saying:

“Your right to do something ends the second it hurts somebody else. You can wave your arms around, but that right stops when you hit somebody in the nose. And that also applies to things like language. I can say all manner of words, you know, I have the right to do that. I have the right to freedom of speech. But my right to do that ends the second that somebody who is affected by those words hears me.”

TF then says.

“For my part, I’ve watched with despair as these ultra-PC professional victims have slowly dripped poison into what used to be a vibrant and exciting conference scene. Such that I really want nothing to do with them. Hell, I’ve been pining back to the happy days when I actually knew who none of these people were.”

Behind this, TF shows a screen grab from Matt Dillahunty’s Facebook page, about Matt deciding to block people from discussing Elevatorgate on his Facebook page.

I think this issue goes to the core of TF’s perception of the problem. TF is passionate about freedom of expression, as he should be, and he is concerned that this important right is being eroded in the atheist secular community, for which he blames feminism.

However, I believe that TF is simply mistaken to believe that this right is in fact being eroded within the atheist secular community. Neither of the two examples that he gives are reasons to take this concern very seriously.

  • The first example is a comment made by a guest on a Google hangout discussion, expressed from a sense of compassion and empathy for people that are hurt, and not from a desire to repress people. It is not a policy position of any atheist or secular group that I’m aware of.
  • The second example is a post by Matt Dillahunty on his Facebook page, where he is perfectly entitled to discuss what he wants with who he wants, but which in any case is expressing a position which Matt has since reversed.

There is simply no evidence that the atheist secular community is opposed to freedom of expression, and there is abundant evidence to suggest the opposite. Atheist bodies are to the fore in combating blasphemy laws and apostasy laws around the world, particularly in Islamic states where people are killed or imprisoned for expressing their beliefs.

At the world atheist convention in Dublin in 2011, delegates adopted the Dublin Declaration on Secularism which began with the following clauses:

1. Personal Freedoms

(a) Freedom of conscience, religion and belief are private and unlimited. Freedom to practice religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of others.

(b) All people should be free to participate equally in the democratic process.

(c) Freedom of expression should be limited only by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of others. There should be no right ‘not to be offended’ in law. All blasphemy laws, whether explicit or implicit, should be repealed and should not be enacted.

What TF might be confused about is the distinction between the right of citizens to not have their freedom of expression in the public space restricted by governments, and the right of citizens to determine what is and is not discussed on platforms that they themselves create.

You have the right within the law to say what you want, but you do not have the right to insist that other people must publish what you want to say, or must give you a platform to say what you want to say. Some rights are absolute, and others are qualified and must be negotiated alongside competing rights.

As a general observation, the atheist secular movement is at the forefront of defending the right to freedom of expression, and I see nothing to cause me to fear that this is likely to change.

9. Personal attack on Melody Hensley

Thunderf00t then attacks Melody Hensley:

“Look, let me make this simple. I just got back from an experiment where I was surrounded by sane, rational, capable, able, intelligent people. And then you come back to the secular community, where you have people like Melody Hensley, the Executive Director of the Center For Inquiry in DC going creationist style ban happy on people who haven’t even mentioned her name yet, because they might say something bad about her someday.

And starting flagging campaigns against videos critical of her. Oh, and would you believe it, she labels herself a feminist. It’s just sickening to see someone from the Center For Inquiry embrace with such relish these silencing tactics which we have seen creationist use here on YouTube for years to protect their budget arguments from criticism. I mean, really an Executive Director from the Center For Inquiry running a flagging campaign. Shit, these people would give Scientology a run for their money.”

So let’s examine TF’s personal attack on Melody.

Who did she ban from where? She banned nobody from anywhere. She blocked people from following her on twitter, who were also following the Elevatorgate twitter account, which was posting tweets harassing her. That seems like a prudent and sane thing to do. She did not infringe on anybody’s right to freedom of expression.

Melody then asked her friends on Facebook to flag as ‘bullying’ a video about her, because she was tired of dealing with constant online harassment and bullying. What did this video say about her? It was titled ‘Melodramatic Melody’ and the description began:

‘Melody Hensley is executive director of CFI in DC, and has been acting like a total douchebag feminist this past week.’

Some of the content included:

“Yours truly, who had never even given a shit about this little twat until today… had she not made it known that she was doing this mass blocking on twitter, people would have gone about their business of not giving a fuck about her at all… The simple fact is she has now stirred the pot and has painted a large bull’s-eye on her ass… She doesn’t know how twitter works, but that’s understandable seeing as how twitter is a bit more complicated than a cappuccino machine… as for Melodramatic Melody, well, she’s off to stick her flag on the top of Mount Moaning Victim. Don’t worry though, it’s more of a small hill than a mountain, because we all know that feminists don’t fare well when faced with real challenges when trying to get to the top…”

This hate-filled video was published by a woman calling herself the Wooly Bumblebee. The video ends by seeking financial support for a website called a Voice for Boys, which in turn has a link to a website called A Voice for Men, which is so misogynistic a website that it reads like dark parody, and which is currently featuring Thunderf00t’s video which we are discussing here.

Flagging this ‘Melodramatic Melody’ video seems a prudent and sane thing to do. Flagging is an entirely appropriate facility put in place by YouTube to govern how YouTube oversees the privilege that it gives to people to post videos for free on its website. If you want to start your own video website without flagging facilities, you can do so. If you want to use YouTube’s video service to publish your videos, you have to abide by the rules that YouTube determine. Freedom of expression does not mean that you control the use of other people’s communication platforms.

TF concludes this section by adding another attack on PZ Myers for disabling ratings and comments on his YouTube videos, describing this as a ‘creationist and pseudoscientist tactic’. But again, PZ is merely using one of the facilities that YouTube offers to its users. To repeat: If you want to start your own video website without the facility to disable comments, you can do so. If you want to use YouTube’s video service to publish your videos, you have to abide by the rules that YouTube determine.

10. My response to TF’s requests

Thunderf00t concludes with a call to conference organisers and leaders of secular groups:

“Seriously, those who organise conferences, get a grip. You do not have to appease the request of every PC whiner. The secular community can achieve great things, but it will never achieve anything while it has poison like this being dripped into its heart. Please forward this video to leaders of secular groups who you think need to hear this message.”

Thunderf00t, I’ll give you a straight answer. As an organiser of conferences and as chairperson of Atheist Ireland, I will oppose any attempts to ostracize the people you name, and I will also oppose any attempts to ostracize people like you who disagree with them.

Seriously, please rethink your approach to these issues. What you are doing is not helpful. If you want to support the atheist secular community, please consider different priorities than trying to attack and ostracize people with whom you disagree.

Please consider channeling your passion for freedom of expression into our fight for the right of people to express their secular beliefs without being beaten or jailed or killed for blasphemy, instead of fighting for the imaginary right of the Wooly Bumblebee to call Melody Hensley a twat on YouTube without having her video flagged.

You are of course free to set your own priorities, and I have honestly engaged with the points that you have made in this video. But I suspect that you will find little traction in your approach of reigniting an inflammatory issue that many of us are trying to resolve constructively by creating communities that are inclusive, caring and supportive.

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{ 289 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin January 3, 2013 at 5:06 am

Slow clap.

2 Peter Ferguson January 3, 2013 at 5:34 am

A very well reasoned response. I hope TF does read this because I do like most of what he does. The “split” in the movement is worrying and there a very few critiques that do not have a personal note to them. And when criticism gets personal the first victim is critical thinking and self-scepticism because people are unwilling to accept criticism when it is attached to personal insults. Hence why more balanced posts like this are necessary.

3 Brianne Bilyeu January 3, 2013 at 5:36 am

Thank you, Michael Nugent, not only for such a well-thought response to the video, but for your views on some of these controversial topics that affect our community. Despite the headaches and growing pains, the atheist community is wonderful place to be, and with this article you have made it that much brighter for me.

4 WP Boyce January 3, 2013 at 5:45 am

Well written and even handed piece. I was surprised to see the extent to which some of the quotes were removed from their original context. Thanks for taking time to put this together Michael.

5 laconicsax January 3, 2013 at 5:46 am

Regarding point #3, I seem to recall a video of TF’s called “thunderfoot.com is a SCAM” in which he addresses the problem of a website using his handle for personal gain. Clearly he isn’t okay with people using him and his name for purposes he doesn’t support, yet he attacks Amy for trying to prevent people from using her and her name for purposes she doesn’t support. Hypocrisy anyone?

The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_loVB__D6AY

6 Peter Ferguson January 3, 2013 at 5:51 am

But I would like to add that I would like to see you turn your criticism of personal attacks on the personal attacks made by PZ, Rebbeca Watson, Ophelia Benson, etc.

PZ called TF a “rape apologist misogynist”, Rebecca Watson quote-mined Ed Clint and, along with PZ and Greg Laden, called him a rapist. These accusations are far more inflammatory and damaging than any of those described above.

7 Improbable Joe January 3, 2013 at 5:52 am

I’m starting to believe that the reason people like TF keep saying “atheism is ONLY lack of belief” is because in large part their political and social views are the same as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. They are also right-wing regressive authoritarians who bristle at the thought of their privilege being stripped and replaced with equality and real freedom. Their version of “freedom” is that they get to impose themselves on others without restriction or rules, and no one else can be free from their imposition.

8 Steven January 3, 2013 at 5:53 am

“Seriously, please rethink your approach to these issues. What you are doing is not helpful. If you want to support the atheist secular community, please consider different priorities than trying to attack and ostracize people with whom you disagree.”

HAH! The glorious irony!

9 Brianne Bilyeu (@abiodork) January 3, 2013 at 5:54 am

Thank you, not only for such a well-thought response to the video, but for your views on some of these controversial topics that affect our community. Despite the headaches and growing pains, the atheist community is wonderful place to be, and with this article you have made it that much brighter for me.

10 Prepagan January 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

Re: the accusation of hypocrisy from laconicsax; while I am not overly familiar with the specific incidents I’m pretty sure there is enough difference between a scam established to deceive for commercial gain and a humourous (to some at least) parody to suggest that this particular accusation of hypocrisy is somewhat excessive.

11 Keane January 3, 2013 at 6:16 am

Yes, yes, and yes.

12 Schrödinger's Therapist January 3, 2013 at 6:19 am

So when PZ says something outrageous, he gets a free pass because it’s “the oratorical device of hyperbole”. Sorry but that sounds like double standards to me.

13 Martin January 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

#7: Hit and run retorts may well be gratifying to your ego, but it would help if you explained exactly what you meant. Is Michael’s argument “glorious irony” because he does exactly the things he criticizes Thunderf00t for in that passage? If so, please back up your statement with links and other evidence. Otherwise, expect to be dismissed.

14 SteelMan January 3, 2013 at 6:30 am

Glad to see you’re above using personal attacks.

15 Schrödinger's Therapist January 3, 2013 at 6:34 am

Also, “somebody wore a t-shirt mocking Skepchick generally but not specifically Amy” does an injustice to Harriet Hall. I don’t claim to know Dr. Hall’s motivation but she is a woman of genuine and significant accomplishment, which is cheapened by the type of victim feminism espoused by Atheism plus, which holds that women can only compete with men if given a head-start on a tilted playing field. If anything, Dr. Hall was responding to the mockery of her accomplishments by women who have a noticeable lack of accomplishments of their own.

16 John January 3, 2013 at 6:39 am

Michael, thank you. That is a well written response, and helps my own thinking about this video.

17 Chas Stewart January 3, 2013 at 6:45 am

That was a thorough debunking of his video but you did it with no malice. I feel like you are actually hoping to persuade him or others that believe TF is in the right and it truly gives me hope. Honestly, there’s so much to argue about that I fail to see why we need to make up positions for others just because it sounds more sensational.

18 vitriolix January 3, 2013 at 6:52 am

“Please consider channeling your passion for freedom of expression into our fight for the right of people to express their secular beliefs without being beaten or jailed or killed for blasphemy, instead of fighting for the imaginary right of the Wooly Bumblebee to call Melody Hensley a twat on YouTube without having her video flagged.”

Awesome. Great post.

19 Ron January 3, 2013 at 7:02 am

Man, I can’t believe tf00t is still going on about this. I stopped subscribing to his videos over the summer when he had that debacle with FTB and I now just pity him. He just needs to stop.

20 Arthur January 3, 2013 at 7:03 am

Excellent points.

A video as daft as that from Mr.”Thunderf00t” shouldn’t really need such a detailed analysis, but given the scale of nastiness Mr. “Thunderf00t” foments against atheists it was probably necessary.

21 Pitchguest January 3, 2013 at 7:05 am

Oh, for crying out loud, Michael. *facepalm*

It’s late here and I can’t be arsed with a rebuttal right now, but scratching the surface, you actually support a CFI Executive Director calling for her friends or followers to flag a video of a person she doesn’t like? Send her supporters off on a ‘fatwa’ of sorts, because a person happened to insult her? What in the hell? What the hell, Michael? What.

Going to address this later today, but for goodness sake, man, get it together.

22 Alaric January 3, 2013 at 7:17 am

Excellent and very balanced and well written piece. Tf00t’s attack is very emotional, which I can understand, but it leads him to error. I agree with his sentiments if not his content. As a man who has been a stay home dad and is currently fighting to keep his kids I am a victim of sexism myself and I am feeling very emotionally raw about my own situation. At the same time my beloved online atheist community has become obsessed with what they call feminism, and I have been vilified as part of the “patriarchy”, a potential rapist, and a misogynistic oppressor of women. If it is wrong (which I think it is) to make these women feel unwelcome in the atheist community, then surely it is equally wrong for me, even though I am an evil male?

I do not understand why feminism is such a centrally important issue for secularists. I also do not understand why we are still calling the movement for equality of the sexes by such a sexist label. Is sexism any worse than racism? Doesn’t humanism embrace the entirety of equalities we are aiming for?

I agree with having rules for conduct at conferences, but do we really need anything more than “don’t act like a douche?” I would expect that anyone making anyone else feel unwelcome and uncomfortable would be given a warning, and if they continued to be escorted out. Dress regulations though? Why even bother?

Thank you for all the time you invested in writing this article. I agreed with everything you said and applaud the understanding and sensitivity you showed to all parties (including Tf00t) on such an emotive topic. Tf00t was offensive in his personal attacks, but you were compassionate enough to look past his bluster and see his real concerns. You have won a fan.

23 Martin January 3, 2013 at 7:17 am

Pitchguest, the stupidity and dishonesty of people like you is just a bottomless well, isn’t it?

If someone’s posted a video attacking you personally, it’s hardly a “fatwa” to ask your friends and allies to respond to it, whether by flagging it or any other means.

And anyway, I don’t see you wailing and gnashing your teeth about Thunderf00t’s “fatwa.” You know, the one where he’s spouting loads of deliberate lies about specific people in the atheist community, and then asking his followers to spread those lies to conference leaders, with the implied goal of having those people ostracized from conferences.

I would suggest, in addition to adult level literacy skills, you develop a sense of moral perspective and integrity. Because if your only takeaway from Michael’s entire detailed, level-headed and not-at-all vindictive article was the bizarre perversion you describe, you are seriously lacking in all three.

24 Accuser January 3, 2013 at 7:19 am

Perfect. Well done.

25 Marella January 3, 2013 at 7:21 am

Thunderfoot clearly has a problem with rationality which I suppose is why he would rather a definition of atheism which didn’t include it. He also seems to have a problem with women. A lot of men have trouble understanding the privilege they live with never having been deprived of it, and having a poor imagination I assume. TF is a large man, and he has neither the imagination to try to understand what it is like to be threatened with rape and murder nor the humbleness to accept that he can’t understand. I am no longer interested in what he has to say.
I have no objection to discussions on these subjects but I don’t care for people who misrepresent others’ opinions and use invective against them.

26 Prepagan January 3, 2013 at 7:44 am

Marella,

When did this issue become about being threatened with rape and murder?

Why do you believe that Thunderf00t is incapable of imagining what it is like to be threatened with rape and murder – surely men are as vulnerable, if not more so, to such harm befalling them?

“I have no objection to discussions on these subjects but I don’t care for people who misrepresent others’ opinions..”

I’m glad you have no objection to discussions on these subjects but I don’t think misrepresenting Thunderf00t’s opinions or the limits of his imagination/humility is a good way of engaging in such a discussion.

27 Matt January 3, 2013 at 7:46 am

I watched that video before reading this and whilst TF sounds a bit crazy his cherry picking was very good. I won’t stand for misogyny nor misandry but I HATE misinformation. So thank you.

28 bezboznik January 3, 2013 at 7:53 am

All that you internet attention whores do is consume the entire internet bandwidth with your vapid drivel. You are the Kardashians of atheism, just brain dead DUMBFUCKS blathering on about nothing but yourselves and your BORING worthless lives.

STFU. NOBODY CARES!!!

29 Edward Flick January 3, 2013 at 8:16 am

This is a very rational, fantastically written response. I admire Thunderf00t as well, but I believe you are correct in your assessment of the situation. My only nit to pick is that flagging is controlling somebody else’s communication mechanism. Thunderf00t (and you) are right in that the atheist emergence revolves around the ability to express dissent. It seems logically inconsistent to silence opinions in any way, but that’s just my opinion. 😛

30 D January 3, 2013 at 8:31 am

Kudos for posting your response in writing rather than a video rant (and for the meticulous breakdown, of course)

31 Veewok January 3, 2013 at 8:47 am

Thank you Michael Nugent, this is a great article. I am continually flabbergasted by TF and his attacks on skeptic feminists. Even further, I am flabbergasted at some people’s refusal to come out and speak out against TFs message. So, your taking the time to write this rebuttal is very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
a grateful Secular Skeptic Feminist

32 Jake Farr-Wharton January 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

Michael,

Many thanks for your commentary on this issue, it is equal parts frustrating and disheartening to see prominent atheists publicly scrapping.

Any biologist will tell you that a species needs diversity in order to ensure its propogation into the future and I see atheism/secularism/etc. in need of somewhat of a reality check. Embrace the diversity or reject it.

Thanks again, Michael.

33 Barael January 3, 2013 at 9:18 am

“And she has since decided to release all of her photographs of her jewellery under a non-commercial creative Commons license, which means that anyone can share, copy or even adapt the images to make new art, under the terms of that license.”

Oh come on, non-commercial license? I want to make money off Namco’s and Rovio’s ip, too!

34 Cormac January 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

Michael, I suggest that you take an equally close look at the behaviour of Atheist Plus, and indeed PZ Myers and his fans on his blog, along with a number of the other people listed above. This has not happened in a vacuum.

35 earl January 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Moist of these are fair points. The PZ fuck toys thing I think is disingenuous. There is hyperbole then there is strawmanning, and it is all to easy to defend ridiculous and inflammatory statements by saying “it was exaggeration”, but a trip to ftb will probably remove any doubt as to whether those people actually believe it or not.

Also re: flagging videos, YouTube obviously disagrees with the flagging as the videos are still up.

And yes, pz dies have the right to disable comments, that does not diminish the fact that TF is correct, it is a creationist tactic, and it is Protection against criticism of ones ideas.

36 The Devil's Towelboy January 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

This is not a critique – this is an apologetics exercise worthy of the catholic church. That you could so wilfully ignore the steady stream of smear and real life personal attack from members of FTB and Skepchick – ranging from Surly Amy’s spurious DMCA complaints to shutdown dissent and to flush out personal data on individuals (for further real world attacks) to Greg Laden’s efforts to get female heretics fired from their jobs – shows a true believer willing to suspend all reason for the sake of faith. Appalling.

37 earl January 3, 2013 at 9:55 am

Moist of these are fair points. The PZ fuck toys thing I think is disingenuous. There is hyperbole then there is strawmanning, and it is all to easy to defend ridiculous and inflammatory statements by saying “it was exaggeration”, but a trip to ftb will probably remove any doubt as to whether those people actually believe it or not.

Also re: flagging videos, YouTube obviously disagrees with the flagging as the videos are still up.

And yes, pz does have the right to disable comments, that does not diminish the fact that TF is correct, it is a creationist tactic, and it is Protection against criticism of ones ideas.

Finally, the I am not a skepchick shirt was not “mocking” it was a clear show of disagreement, there is a big difference.

38 Martin January 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

that does not diminish the fact that TF is correct, it is a creationist tactic, and it is Protection against criticism of ones ideas.

Horseshit. No one is under any obligation to allow you or Thunderf00t or anybody else to spout off in their blog comments or Facebook wall or wherever else. It’s one thing to post a dissenting opinion. It’s another entirely to be an abusive, dishonest troll or simply a tedious, antisocial jerk. The whole “You banned me from your blog so you’re no better than a creationist!!1!” is the lamest bit of self-serving masturbation Tf00t and his apologists have come up with. It’s some real bottom-feeding stuff.

39 earl January 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

Sorry for double post and any weird words where they don’t belong, in on an auto correcting Mobile device with a poor connection

40 earl January 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

Martin, why did you move from disallowing comments on a YouTube video (which prevents any and all criticism whether rude or analytical) to banning from blogs? Those are not the same thing, and just because someone can do it, doesn’t mean its not a creationist tactic. You can holler from the mountain tops about their right to do it, but it downy change the facts.

41 Joe January 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

“ranging from Surly Amy’s spurious DMCA complaints to shutdown dissent and to flush out personal data on individuals (for further real world attacks)”

You mean the DMCA complaint that was legitimately asking someone to remove an image of her artwork from a blog post? You know, that required only that an image be removed, and not the rest of the post? I fail to see how that was shutting down dissent. You also have no way of knowing if the intent of the complaint was to gain personal details. In fact, Amy outlines her motivations here: http://skepchick.org/2012/10/sifting-through-lies-and-moving-forward/. In particular, she says:

“So Justin wrote a post about me on his blog about this off-hand comment and he used an image of my art without permission. I asked his server to remove the image of my art because Justin collects donations on his site and my art is not for other people to profit from without my permission. And because the post was about me, not my art and well, my art is my art after-all and I created it and have rights to how it is used. It even says “All jewelry designs and images shown are © Surly-Ramics™” on my etsy shop. So it shouldn’t even be a question that I choose to retain these rights.”

So no, Amy wasn’t attempting to get personal details.

Earl, PZ may indeed have shut down comments on his youtube videos, but I believe that he provides a link to a discussion post on his blog with each one. That doesn’t seem like “[preventing] any and all criticism whether rude or analytical”. The viewers can still comment, it just takes slightly more effort.

42 Ian January 3, 2013 at 10:43 am

I have to say Michael, agree or disagree with you, you are a living exemplar of the principle of charity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity)

43 Gordon January 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

Wait, is slow clapping a good or bad thing? I thought this article was worth a normal speed clap.

44 Michael Kitching January 3, 2013 at 11:11 am

Brilliant response!

45 Robert Corfield January 3, 2013 at 11:18 am

Sounds reasonable to me.

46 Konradius January 3, 2013 at 11:36 am

What I mostly wonder about is the freedom of expression of the people TF complains about. If people should not be allowed to negative flag youtube videos, why should TF allow himself to make this video?

47 Robert Catherwood January 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm

GROW UP the lot of ye!
This is pathetic.

48 Barael January 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

“What I mostly wonder about is the freedom of expression of the people TF complains about. If people should not be allowed to negative flag youtube videos, why should TF allow himself to make this video?”

Because shutting someone else up isn’t an expression of your free speech, FTB/A+ Newspeak nonwithstanding.

49 Ralph January 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Martins says it all: Slow clap!

50 The Devil's Towelboy January 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

And this makes for interesting reading. “Objective observer”. Indeed.

http://i.imgur.com/C5WJZ.jpg

51 The Devil's Towelboy January 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Let’s see, these are the kinds of things you condone. False flagging Youtube content to get it shut down; guilt by association, mentioning WooleyNumblebee to further damn TF… What other tricks up your sleeve?

http://i.imgur.com/C5WJZ.jpg

You are an exemplary member of the community Michael.

52 oolon January 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for this, well written and calmly reasoned. Many people are not able to respond calmly to the nastiness displayed by TF and ‘commentators’ like Wooly. Unfortunately this is then used to further criticise them rather than acknowledge an appropriate response to being dehumanised. The gold standard of scepticism is often held up as the thick skinned unemotional robot or troll who doesn’t react to bullying. As with the commenter on your other post it’s a privilege to not have to worry about trigger warnings and it doesn’t hurt your sceptical mind to be a little empathetic sometimes.

53 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Apologies in advance because I can’t put this any more softly, but this is just so much bullshit, Mr. Nugent”

“Also, somebody wore a t-shirt mocking Skepchick generally but not specifically Amy. “

Right, because thou shalt not mock Skepchick. 😛

And in any event, it is *very* debatable whether this t-shirt was mocking. It said “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” and “I am not a Skepchick”. In other words, “I identify with TAM, I don’t identify with the Skepchicks.” I’m sorry, but anybody who finds that sentiment to be beyond the pale, something that should not be allowed to be expressed, is coming from a mindset that is nothing less than totalitarian. Those of you who are saying that Harriet Hall had no right to express that sentiment are saying nothing less than Hall has no right to basic intellectual liberty (to identify with one group and not with another), at least in the context of the “atheist movement”. Of course, if those are the rules of the atheist movement, nobody in their right mind should want to be a part of it!

“The combination of all of this caused Amy to feel upset, because she is a person with the same emotional vulnerabilities as most people, and she and her mother left the conference early.

TF has responded by mocking this natural human vulnerability, making fun of somebody for being upset to the extent that she cried, and minimising to the point of misrepresentation the reason that she was upset.”

Boo hoo, it caused “Surly” Amy to get upset. People get upset over all kinds of things, sometimes trivial. But the point is not that Amy got upset, nor to mock her for crying, but rather for the fact that she can’t *own* her own damn feelings of upset. Instead she points the finger at Harriet Hall for “making” her upset, and her supporters are only too willing to jump on the Hate Harriet Hall bandwagon. If anything, I think Amy Roth owes Harriet Hall a great big apology for smearing her like this. Not that Hall is likely to get it.

In fact, I don’t even see Hall get any mention from somebody who’s supposedly all het up over “personal attacks” in the atheist community. How partisan, hypocritical, and generally messed up is that? And you have to wonder, Mr. Nugent, why there’s so much division in the atheist movement – just look at what you’re contributing to right now.

54 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

“Who did she ban from where? She banned nobody from anywhere. She blocked people from following her on twitter, who were also following the Elevatorgate twitter account, which was posting tweets harassing her. That seems like a prudent and sane thing to do. She did not infringe on anybody’s right to freedom of expression.”

First, anybody has a right to block anybody else on Twitter – her doing this, at least as an individual, is not really the issue. However, the fact that she was so quick to block so many people says to me that she’s more than a bit thin-skinned. She blocked me well before I’d even heard of her, and I only found out when I attempted to read what she had to say. Apparently because I was an outspoken member of the “wrong” side of the debate.

And if this was just one thin-skinned individual on Twitter, that would merit a massive “so what” and would be something to be quickly forgotten about. However, she also acts in the capacity as one of the officers of CFI, a group that claims to stand outside of the infighting in the secularist movement. If Hensley’s actions and rhetoric are in any representative of CFI, it speaks rather badly of them. And if not, one has to wonder what they’re doing with such a partisan representative – it tells me they really don’t care to represent the secularist community as a whole.

55 Helmi January 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Faster clap.

56 oolon January 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm

@Iamcuriousblue, your twitter statements seem contradictory – she can block anyone, but not you… Or at least not because you are an “outspoken” member of the “wrong” crowd or something. I assume you have no idea why she blocked you? But then she has every right as you say… Get over it maybe? Or ask her why she blocked you, if you can contact her that is.

Your argument that she is a member of CFI therefore is painting them in a bad light is completely ridiculous given she has this in her profile –> “Tweets not endorsed by CFI”… Maybe if she was blocking you from the official CFI tweet-entity you would have a point. Otherwise what she does in her private life is none of the CFI’s business.

I note on your twitter feed you are expecting rocks and bottles coming your way, hope you get none and don’t see this as one. (unless you are trolling and want some flames!). Personally your nym is maybe recognisable as one I’d associate with the slymepit but I’d not recommend anyone block you on that basis as you didn’t stand out as one of the nutty ones – at least I cannot remember seeing you being slyme’y. I do remember plenty on there who are “outspoken” in ways very deserving of an insta-block imo :-)

57 dougal445 January 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

“These are articles encouraging people to behave in an ethical, compassionate way towards the women in our community, and to stand alongside those women when they face verbal or physical threats either online or in real life. What possible reason could TF have to be sickened by these appeals?”

The problem is (and Thunderf00t is spot-on for high-lighting it) that the statements, although clearly representitive of the views of the vast majority of members in the skeptic atheist community, are presented to give the impression that there is a real problem.
When in reallty the vast majority of the conversation is genuine skeptical disagreement of certain “feminist” positions. that is being misrepresented as abuse, harrassment and mysoginy by “feminist” idealogs.

58 Coel January 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I’ll give you a straight answer. […] I will oppose any attempts to ostracize the people you name, and I will also oppose any attempts to ostracize people like you who disagree with them. […] What you are doing is not helpful. […] please consider different priorities than trying to attack and ostracize people with whom you disagree.

Well said on all of that.

59 Ljønes January 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

High and loud clap with a lot of support and agreeing! This article is a realy good example of the use of rational arguments and logic to overcome chauvinism and misogyny!

60 Matt Faulkerson January 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I see you have called A Voice for Men misogynistic. I have been on that website several times and have never noticed any name calling of women as whores, etc. If your entire critieria for calling AVFM misogynistic is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s biased hit piece you need to rethink your position. I remember as soon as that article came up there were a number of problems with it. Some websites like MarkyMark’s blog were rightfully on it but some were not. Later I found out that some people at Radfemhub were responsible for most of the content.
As a request I ask that my email account not be hacked because I disagreed with someone.

61 Markita Lynda January 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Thank you for this. I attended a couple of skeptic or atheist conferences last year, both featuring Prof. Myers. The one with the more prominent anti-harassment policy was the more friendly, which is perhaps a coincidence. There was no prohibition against dressing attractively, makeup, hugging, or flirting. It was very relaxed and a good time was had by everyone I observed. Many people remarked on how friendly it was.

Thunderf00t’s concerns do seem to be a conflation of strawmen and misunderstandings.

62 NotInMyName2050 January 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I agree with you on almost everything, though I do think some people have itchy trigger fingers when it comes to blocking or removing comments. Yes it is their site to do with however the hell they please, but I find placing limitations like these on this form of discourse can stunt otherwise robust conversations.

I have found that it is better to keep things as open as possible. Not all the comments on my videos are directed at me and I never have time to respond to most of those that are, so I just let people do what they will without interference.

Now I obviously am not talking about harassment or trolling in this instance, that shit will get you booted. I just don’t want to punish the majority for the crimes of a minority of half-wits.

63 Jeffrey January 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Slow clap, building speed.

64 Martin January 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

#39

Martin, why did you move from disallowing comments on a YouTube video (which prevents any and all criticism whether rude or analytical) to banning from blogs? Those are not the same thing…

They are exactly the same thing. A person’s YouTube account is their space, and they get to set comment policies there. Ditto with their blog.

And just because banning commenters is a thing creationists do — and try to read this part slowly, sounding the words out loud if it helps comprehension — does not mean that anyone who bans a commenter from their blog or YouTube page is doing it for the same reasons creationists do. Creationists ban simply because they cannot rise to challenges. By contrast, those of us who’ve had to deal with the idiocy of the “FtBullies” and Slymepitters usually wield the banhammer only after lengthy comment flamewars when it becomes obvious that that person is unwilling to accept an alternate opinion, and has no interest other than pure trolling and abuse.

Like Thunderf00t himself, you seem to see the world in black and white terms, without an ability to make meaningful distinctions. That’s why guys like you and Devil’s Towelboy can read Michael’s entire well-reasoned, even-tempered, and non-abusive post and only take away the warped idea that he advocates harassment of YouTube critics. It’s like listening to Ken Ham explain why evolution is wrong because WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS!!?!1!

65 Myron January 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm

English is not my mother tongue, so I hope you don’t mind my asking the following: What does “to make fake jewellery” mean in this context? It doesn’t have its literal meaning, does it? Is it a slang idiom?

66 PS Laplace January 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Well said.

Also, thank you for providing links to all of TF’s sources. Something he should have done himself to begin with, if he were really trying to have an honest and rational conversation.

67 Mu January 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm

The problem is, you’re creating a winning word. Any discussion is over as soon as you can declaim your opponent to be a “misogynist!”. Like American politics in the 50’s (“Communist!”) or Germany since the 70’s (“Nazi!”) you created a climate were not superior intellectual position nor knowledge are rewarded but solely your ability to define someone as part of a despised group. PZ is a prime example, making adherence to his standard on misogyny a litmus test on being a real atheist. But like you can be a true Scotsman without liking haggis you can be a skeptic without subscribing to the creed of Morris.

68 Barael January 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Martin:

Might I suggest you have been dealing with creationists too long if in fact the best reason you can come up for a large contingent of atheists not being on board with FTB/A+/Skepchick brand of feminism is simply that they’re Ken Ham-level stupid.
But if you honestly feel that’s good enough for you and as a bonus you get to be the smartest guy in room, you’re welcome to it. In fact, proclaim it loudly and proudly. Glory and success await.

69 Stevus Christ January 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Your bias is showing. Your deconstruction of his arguments was compelling, but when you interjected with your own opinions, strawmen, and misrepresentations, it felt as though it ruined what you were trying to accomplish. This reads as if it was written by a person torn between trying to impress his feminist friends, and trying to make a rational blog post about TF’s video. You could’ve done better.

70 agents sith January 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Dude, you need to let these people speak for themselves, especially PZ dipshit Meyers. You seem to defend all of these over reactions about bullying from gleeful women with smirks on their faces, and the oratorical hyperbole of yourself and your asshat A+theists, yet you think TF has no right to fight it with the same? I don’t give a shit if TF exaggerated or hyperbolized. It is utterly necessary to combat you dumb shits and professional victims: YOU need to move on!

MRAs advocate for compassion and understanding for men. For the nth time, this is not misogynistic, nor is it a conservative property (you don’t have to take from one group to give to another). Women naturally and culturally receive this compassion by default. It therefore takes extra effort and powers of observation to include men as human beings instead of disposable appliances. You cannot control how you are perceived. Nobody argues whether women are people. The question is, are they whiny attention-whoring children, or are they adults? I have children of my own, and have no wish to adopt adult ones such as yourself and your ‘scooby’ friends.

Are you going to cry now?

71 PS Laplace January 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Your deconstruction of his arguments was compelling, but when you interjected with your own opinions, strawmen, and misrepresentations, it felt as though it ruined what you were trying to accomplish.

I didn’t notice any misrepresentations or strawmen. Could you name any specifically?

72 psychodigger January 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Is it time to speed up the clap yet?

73 EssBee January 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Let me get this straight: someone who is ‘concerned’ that freedom of speech/expression is being suppressed by individuals blocking others on twitter, controlling the content of their own facebook page, and disabling comments on youtube is calling for people to be blocked from speaking at conferences?

Absurd irony overwhelming…cannot restrain massive eye roll….

74 Stevus Christ January 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm

You also raped the meaning and context of the video you claim is perfectly sane to flag for bullying. Cherry picking and quote mining while criticizing someone else for cherry picking and quote mining isn’t very smart. I also noticed you failed to provide a source link for that video, how convenient.

Here it is in it’s entirety, without the cherry picking, quote mining and cowardice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8Ob0AKW8Bs

75 EssBee January 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm

By the way, Michael, your level headed and compassionate approach to all of this is incredibly refreshing. Thanks for being a voice of sanity, it’s wonderful to find an *actual* rational skeptic!

76 B January 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Good reasoned response to TF…Thank You for NOT doing what the crew at FTBs are doing.
Go over there and read what they do and say, and particularly what they allow and don’t allow, and you will see more of what TF was trying to say.
I agree that there was some misrepresentation of context, especially from Watson, but the tone of where some of the speakers and leaders are going is a slippery slope.
You said it yourself, and for that I applaud you…
“I will oppose any attempts to ostracize the people you name, and I will also oppose any attempts to ostracize people like you who disagree with them.”

However, if you review TFs video again, he did ask to have anyone ostracized, he just said not to give in to “PC whiners”.

They are the ones asking for and practicing “ostracizing”.

77 David B January 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

At last some non hyperbolic fair minded common sense.

Do you think that following this we can get away from internecine strife, and get back to the iniquities of blasphemy law, the persecution of atheists, Christians, Jews and other Muslims by a large chunk of the Islamic world, the fake claims of persecution by Western Christians who interpret loss of undeserved privilege as persecution, and all the other iniquities justified an perpetuated by religion – not least by disadvantaging women.

It is a great shame that so many within atheism feel so challenged by women standing up for themselves.

78 Bruce McGlory January 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Brilliant. I hope Tfoot steps off the Psychotic Bigot train long enough to read it and let it sink it. he’s on the losing end of this and I hope he stops digging before he buries himself.

79 anon January 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Yeah, I don’t believe you know what misogyny means, nor do I believe you have an understanding of the history of feminism.

80 anon January 3, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I also doubt you read PZ Myers on a daily basis. If you did, your comment about PZ kidding about the eye candy versus colleague stuff would never have been written.

Your “crime” like so many others, was to write a bit of fluff about women, but to let your fluff be used by people with a dishonest, dishonorable agenda. So you write, “what was wrong with what I wrong?” And mostly, the answer is nothing was wrong with what you wrote, it was how you let other people use what you wrote to deflect honest, reasonable criticism of their ideas and agendas.

81 Bruce McGlory January 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Aaannd I see Tfoot desperate fanbois are here lying their asses off already. So much for hoping, just once, that they man up and stop being ridiculous, lying cowards.

82 Stacy P January 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Wow, this was such a great response, I hope a lot of good people get to read it.

83 SallyStrange January 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

At a certain point, the secular/skeptic/atheist community is going to end up being a welcoming place for EITHER misogynists OR women.

It can’t be both.

84 Jason January 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I generally liked what you wrote. I agreed with the vast majority of it, but one claim you made in particular stuck out to me as baseless and most likely incorrect. You stated:

“At the conference in question, some people tried to make Amy personally feel unwelcome in various ways, including but not limited to designing imitations of her ceramics mocking her.”

The people that wore t-shirts and fake ceramics were not necessarily trying to make Amy feel unwelcome. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that they chose to do so because it was a creative means to express the disconnect between their points of view and Amy’s. It does not have to be one or the other, of course, their intent could’ve been multi-faceted, but you specifically chose the malevolent interpretation to highlight.

Theirs was an act of expression, one that Amy has spoken out against. I don’t think that there’s a widespread campaign of feminists who are fighting against freedom of expression, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few feminists here and there that are pushing initiatives that amount to a chilling effect.

And while I don’t believe we should be telling people that they can’t wear t-shirts that distance themselves from Skepchick or Amy’s point of view, the problem is much bigger than that. I’ll give examples.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/06/28/on-harassment-and-policies-an-open-letter-to-skeptic-and-freethought-leaders/

There’s two issues here. One are the points he brings up which are quite good. What’s the point of having a harassment policy if it’s going to be imprecise enough that no one actually knows what is and isn’t harassment from reading the text? The point of writing down a policy is having an ironclad rule to refer to, if what you write down still requires unwritten guidelines to interpret it, then what you’ve written isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

The second point requires you to tead the comments, in specific, Elyse Ander’s (of Skepchick fame) extreme sarcasm and snark to what is a pretty reasonable critique by Todd. His point was merely that harassment policies should clearly delineate what is and isn’t harassment (which seems pretty non-controversial), and she turns it into him employing subtly sexist logic.

If a leader of one of these atheist groups can’t even criticize the policy for the better of all involved without encountering hostility and having his motivations questioned, what hope for discussion do any of us have?

Todd’s complaints apply to a lot of policies. Take the SSA’s for instance which is explicitly subjective in addition to its mentioning of harassment and such: “We reserve the right to ask you to leave the conference if you are behaving – in technical terms – like a jerk.” – https://www.secularstudents.org/2013con/columbus/policies

Then there was Massimo Pigliccui’s discussion of the issue, again facing discharitability in the comments from well-known feminist bloggers including Rebecca Watson: http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2012/07/misogyny-wars.html

I don’t really see a lot of olive branches for open, honest discussion of these issues by the prominent feminists in the community. They seem to meander in, guns blazing, at the slightest disagreement with anything they hold dear.

We had a push for harassment policies — which was a good thing — but these policies are shoddy, haphazard attempts to fix the problem that will create more issues in many cases. We can’t even talk about repairing them however, because the slightest discussion on the issue is immediately met with hostility.

I would say that we, in effect, do have a freedom of expression issue. I don’t think it’s sinister or intentional, but I think it’s there none the less.

85 eshto January 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I have to admit, I only glanced through this (but since Z Myers has set the precedent for not reading or watching something at all before responding to it, I feel justified). Tell me, does it mention any of the many personal attacks that Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, and the others have waged on others, long before Thunderf00t felt a need to respond?

If not, then I would say it’s immediately, extremely one sided and naive. Look at some of the things your “atheist feminists” (and I would argue many of the things they claim about gender are decidedly anti-feminist) have said about other people. Then decide if they are wonderful people and above criticism.

86 Chris January 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm

It’s charitable of you to give TF the benefit of the doubt in your analysis, but he has long since shown himself to be completely obtuse, if not outright hysterical, on this issue.

(Btw, in the section on PZ, you have ‘hyberpole’, which should be ‘hyperbole’.)

87 Cthandhs January 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Thank you. Hearing sanity from organizers and leaders makes a difference to me and my participation. After seeing the last couple years of the atheist internet community unfold, I am afraid to speak at all, for fear of the harassment and abuse women receive for making their voices heard. I hope that the hate I see is an extinction burst. Social justice and Atheism are natural allies on the path to freedom and equality.

88 J B Bell January 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Thoughtful, eloquent, thorough, rational, and dare I say, compassionate. Thanks for this.

89 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Oolan @ #55 –

I’m not sure where you pick up the “she can block anybody she wants, just not me” part. I do think there’s an element of outright, to use a loaded term, hysteria* in blocking people who you’ve never had any interaction with. I generally don’t block people unless they’re outright bothering me directly, and I know Greg Laden (who’s views and especially actions I’m sometimes opposed to) subscribe to my feed in the last month or two. (Not sure if her remains subscribed.) He hasn’t bugged me at all on Twitter, though, so I have no problem having him reading my tweets.

Now that I check back on it, you are correct in that her Twitter feed does say “views not endorsed by CFI”. Good for her for that, because surely much of what she says would get CFI boycotted by a lot of people, and not just “slymepit” partisans. (I’m still not sure what exactly it is she does for CFI, though.) I’m really not very pleased by the rather blatant attempts as of late to bring CFI into the Skepchick/FTB orbit rather than remain an organization that’s faction-independent and for all secularists. I quite like CFI and think Point of Inquiry is about the best skeptical podcast out there, so I’d hate to see the whole political BS drag them down.

As far as my being “associated with the Slymepit”, well, actually, you’d be wrong about that, and it says a lot about the assumptions people make. I can count the times I’ve posted on the Slymepit board on one hand, and from what I know, I’m pretty sure you, Oolan, have posted there far more than I ever have. I am a regular over at the Skepticink blogs, as well as Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”, and a lot of the various sex-positive and sex worker blogs, so you can interpret what you want from those associations. There are even a few bloggers I’m friendly with who are –gasp– feminists, they just happen to be one’s who aren’t hung up on drawing bright lines in the sand on whether one has adopted the label “feminist” or not or whether you’re committed to holy war for “social justice”.

*(Note – yes, I know the etymology of the word “hysteria”, so I really don’t need a lecture on the topic. I also am aware that at this point, it refers to a mentality or socio-psychological phenomenon that’s gender-independent and that’s the usage intended here.)

90 Robert January 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Slower clap

91 sue January 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Standing ovation

92 Corey Wrenn January 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

The amount of hate and distrust towards women in this world is really terrifying.

93 Charly January 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Well written. Although I think you are too charitable towards Thunderf00t, I seriously doubt he was unaware of the context of those quotes he so carefully qotemined. He certainly is no newbie to argumentation and videomaking.

94 BlissfulHeretic January 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Brilliant.

95 Ophelia Benson January 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Beautiful.

96 Kim Rippere January 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Thank you for standing up loudly to his complete bullshit! Much appreciated.

97 Tom Hail January 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Awesome. Thanks for the deconstruction. A lot of effort that I appreciate.

98 HJ Hornbeck January 3, 2013 at 9:06 pm

A marvelous takedown, sir! Thunderf00t became famous for criticizing creationists for quotemining and half-truths, so it’s depressing to see the same person using quotemining and half-truths to advance his agenda. Thanks for the level-headed analysis.

99 Fabio García January 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

“The missing context is that PZ was using a game of poker as an analogue for evolution, and he was humorously describing forfeits for losing, included chasing as squirrels for a bag of nuts, or him killing and eating her, or them having sex.”

The kicker is that they did have sex later, which means they exchanged a few cards with each other to represent the mixing of genes for the offspring; so there was another reason for the joke besides simple humor.

100 oolon January 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm

@Iamcuriousblue, Well you did sort of start off with anyone can block anyone on Twitter then launched into a description of how you thought she was wrong to block you and how it reflected badly on CFI. So I saw those as contradictory as either someone is allowed to block anyone or they are not… You also have no idea why she blocked you other than some assumption that it is “guilt by association” as you are on the “wrong” side. Maybe she trawled people from #ftbullies to block… Maybe blocked anyone with “blu” in their name 😉

I’m glad you have some well thought out standards for blocking people on Twitter. I also rarely block but I don’t assume I’m in any morally superior position to anyone that does… I don’t get any harassment so I’m not in a position to judge, Franc Hoggle tweeting cartoons to me every now and then just makes me laugh at his ineptitude. Why can Melody not decide what is right for her as we did, it is her private space and she must decide how she manages it?

I do know the etymology of hysteria and regardless it seems hyperbolic to say her blocking a few people on Twitter counts as hysteria. Ricky Gervais must be the most hysterical Twit on the planet, and not in the funny way.

BTW Slymepit, I said maybe as I remembered your name as not a prolific commentator there as you say. I’m not sure how this speaks volumes as I only addressed what you said and was only assuming your “wrong” side thing came from that association. I also said I’d not ban on that basis, not agreeing with the guilt by posting thing… So yeah not that interested in your associations beyond what you bring up and if you think those associations were the cause of your block. If they were then tough luck, its her choice? Frankly I’ve not found anyone from the pit that says much on twitter I’d like to hear either – so if they were tweeting me all the while I’d probably block -does that make me hysterical too?

101 noelplum99 January 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Interesting response and some fair points. I certainly wish this was viewed in a context less about specific individuals and more about the issues.

What I really want to applaud you for is your anti-ostracision stance. I think we are probably at a point rught now where more people would feel unwelcome at these functions than ever before (myself included) and your determined even-handedness is admirable.
Jim

102 Volizden January 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm

BEAUTIFUL Response, Love the break down and analysis of TF’s Arguments.

One thing to add I think. Wasn’t there a twitter feed at the Conference were Amy was attending centered on attacking and making fun of her that Out Trended even the conference feed?

I read somewhere about that occurring along with the jewelery and the T-shirt, then the Amy squad Charging to her “rescue”. I thought those were things that added to her “breaking down in tears”.

I am so very tired of seeing this crap two years later, but at the same time it needs to be confronted and dealt with. I would have just figured that individuals who are ‘freethinkers’ and ‘intelectuals’ would have worked out by now maybe we need to figure what we are doing wrong in general…

Thanks again for this preak down, awesome job.

103 Ben Zvan January 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Well said. It will never cease to amaze me that the people who complain the loudest about personal attacks are the ones who use them the most. One day Thunderfoot and his ilk will be attacking Stef McGraw.

104 Volizden January 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Holy Crap, When I read and wrote my Response only the Slow clap comment was there. when I typed and enter all these response came up, AND look at the cherry picking vitriolic responses from the Anti-A+er’s.

I mean seriously each one is a specific cherry picked response blowing off the whole very elegant response.

Typical

105 Alessandro January 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Very, very well written.

TF is a sad case to me. I used to love his videos, and I liked his abrasive style when he was taking on elements of religious culture that worked against education and science.

But the anti-feminism he’s been pushing this past year just leaves me deeply disappointed – as though one of the great young voices for atheism is now just a loud surly boy, lashing out with personal attacks and quote mining rather than by honest examination of ideas, and claiming that any attempt at inclusiveness is PC gone crazy.

106 Jubal DiGriz January 3, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Exceedingly reasonable response. Special thanks for taking the time to go through the video point by point.

107 Ted January 3, 2013 at 11:45 pm

So if someone criticizes a person’s actions on YouTube and they use subjectively bad language about them we should all try to censor them by flagging their video? It’s the weakest/stupidest thing I have ever heard. If you don’t like people being critical of you on an open forum than I suggest you close the laptop because your obviously too sensitive and shouldn’t be exchanging ideas where you could get hurt. Yes I know that you might be allowed to censor people in private forums and things like that but that doesn’t mean you should. Thunderfoot understands that nobody’s rights are being infringed upon. What he’s saying is that it is a shitty tactic used by people with bad arguments (commonly associated with creationists).

The Google hangout where one of the speakers along with PZ and RW said that people are allowed to say whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt anybody. PZ and RW should have said something like “that’s really stupid” but they didn’t because I’m assuming they agree with this BS. I noticed you didn’t say much about that probably because you would have had to be critical of your friends so I can kinda understand. I have similar arguments with religious people and you its really hard for them to be critical of their invisible friend in the sky.

Also 3 things Thunderf00t said
1. She thinks that subjectively offensive things and other people’s jewelry should be banned.
2. Matt Dilluhunty happily bans people who disagree with him on the subject of elevatorgate.
3. PZ put up a slide that defined atheism in a different way

All these things were stupid and they all happened and all the people changed their minds afterward. What’s wrong with criticizing these things? Criticism was probably what made them change their minds on these things so I don’t see the issue with TFs video criticizing things that were legit wrong. TF is not all knowing and he probably doesn’t know when every person on the internet feels regret for their stupid actions.

I don’t know anything about wooly bumblebee but I do know that just because she is possibly a racist, misogynist, serial killer etc. doesn’t mean her argument about Hensley isn’t valid and when Hensley flags the video it shows that she can’t counter the argument herself and instead she lazily tries to censor this person. You have used a fallacy here and you have used it to defend a hypersensitive idiot.

Freedom of expression is not just a legal right it is an ideal that we should live by. Even though we have the power to do something doesn’t mean we should do it. If you want to deal with controversial subjects a thicker skin is more helpful then banning people from arguements. Banning people is a very ignorant close minded thing to do. It says to the world that I am above criticism and dont have to deal with youre arguments but will take all these nice comments because im a self absorbed loser who gets a consensus by banning dissenting opinions.

I have been a TF watcher for like 6 years so there is probably a bias but you have to admit that when you say Amy Roth is a loving person its sounds like you have met her and all the other people in question here so is it possible that maybe you are biased too? Maybe you want to defend your friends which is understandable. Just as it’s understandable that I am defending one of my favorite you tubers. IMO the sides that are being drawn here are the people who err of the side of freedom and those who err on the side of not offending people.

108 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 12:06 am

I just wanted to read the new comments… apparently it is necessary to submit one in order to see them. You might want to fix this.

109 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 12:14 am

Italics

Just testing.

110 Bill January 4, 2013 at 12:21 am

“please consider different priorities than trying to attack and ostracize people with whom you disagree.”
This is exactly what PZ and the gang did to TF. They attacked him for disagreeing with them and then attempted to ostracize him, going as far as suggesting he shouldn’t be invited to conferences. You have obviously not been involved in organizing any events since Rebecca’s little diatribe about atheist rapists. If you had you would know that there are many women who will not attend such events anymore because of what she said, regardless of whether or not her assertions are true, and so far we haven’t seen even the slightest evidence that they are.

111 oolon January 4, 2013 at 12:28 am

“You have obviously not been involved in organizing any events since Rebecca’s little diatribe about atheist rapists.”

That is definitely the worst bit of your comment Bill… What diatribe! Where does she call any atheists rapists? Where are the droves of women refusing to go to conferences because she said whatever it was?

112 Explicit Atheist January 4, 2013 at 12:33 am

The people that this TF guy criticizes appear to be very nice people. TF, on the other hand, sounds like an arrogant bastard who is best avoided as much as possible.

113 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 12:38 am

All right. Here we go.

Response to Ted:

So if someone criticizes a person’s actions on YouTube and they use subjectively bad language

It’s not subjective. It’s a fact that twat refers to female genitalia, and is used as an insult because it’s bad to be associated with all things female. Whether you think it’s worth caring about whether the language you use devalues women is a subjective opinion.

about them we should all try to censor them by flagging their video?

Has anyone actually called for this? No. What has been said is that characterizing such flagging as repressing free speech (or “FREEZE PEACH” as it should be properly termed, since the usage of the phrase by TF and you renders it practically meaningless) is wrong.

It’s the weakest/stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Clearly you don’t get out much.

If you don’t like people being critical of you on an open forum than I suggest you close the laptop because your obviously too sensitive and shouldn’t be exchanging ideas where you could get hurt.

This applies to Wooly Bumblebee as much as it does to Melody. She could easily avoid the grievous insult of having Youtube videos flagged by not posting Youtube videos.

Yes I know that you might be allowed to censor people in private forums and things like that but that doesn’t mean you should.

What you really shouldn’t do is cry “censorship” when you violate the terms of use of someone else’s private platform. That makes you look stupid.

Thunderfoot understands that nobody’s rights are being infringed upon.

That’s not true. If it were, he wouldn’t be characterizing people setting and enforcing the terms of speech in their private forums as censorship.

What he’s saying is that it is a shitty tactic used by people with bad arguments (commonly associated with creationists).

Yes, he is saying that. His reasoning is fallacious; just because creationists use a certain tactic doesn’t mean that every single other person who uses that tactic is using it for the same reasons that creationists use it. If the arguments of the people he is criticizing are really so bad, then he should just say that they are bad and explain how and why. Instead he uses smear tactics (“You did that thing that creationists do!”), quote-mines, and unflattering editing. If he had a really substantive critique, he wouldn’t need these tactics.

The Google hangout where one of the speakers along with PZ and RW said that people are allowed to say whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt anybody. PZ and RW should have said something like “that’s really stupid” but they didn’t because I’m assuming they agree with this BS.

You think that “Don’t hurt people” is BS. Duly noted. Are you aware that the majority of people think that hurting other people is a bad thing?

I noticed you didn’t say much about that probably because you would have had to be critical of your friends so I can kinda understand.

More likely, because Mr. Nugent thought it would not need explaining that it’s not good to hurt people.

I have similar arguments with religious people and you its really hard for them to be critical of their invisible friend in the sky.

If your argument is that patriarchy is like an invisible man in the sky then you need to present that argument and provide supporting evidence. It’s a popular trope among anti-feminists but they can never quite muster up any evidence. Perhaps you will be the first.

Also 3 things Thunderf00t said
1. She thinks that subjectively offensive things and other people’s jewelry should be banned.

Nope, the argument is conference organizers have the right to exclude people for saying offensive things (subjective or objective, it doesn’t matter; I get the impression that you are distorting those words from their normal definition anyway), and for using jewelry to mount a personal attack on a fellow conference attendee who has also raised a lot of money to help other people go to that conference. See, that right there was not true, what you said. Thunderfoot lied to you. I guess you’re okay with that?

2. Matt Dilluhunty happily bans people who disagree with him on the subject of elevatorgate.
3. PZ put up a slide that defined atheism in a different way

All these things were stupid and they all happened and all the people changed their minds afterward. What’s wrong with criticizing these things?

Criticism is one thing. Pointing to these things as evidence that these people are “poisoning atheism” and oppose free speech and should be excluded from events is just stupid.

Criticism was probably what made them change their minds on these things so I don’t see the issue with TFs video criticizing things that were legit wrong.

Again, what TF is doing should not be called criticism, unless you are using “criticism” to mean something different than what most people understand it to mean.

TF is not all knowing and he probably doesn’t know when every person on the internet feels regret for their stupid actions.

Maybe he ought to check on this before calling these people opponents of free speech who are poisoning atheism and should be excluded from events.

I don’t know anything about wooly bumblebee but I do know that just because she is possibly a racist, misogynist, serial killer etc. doesn’t mean her argument about Hensley isn’t valid and when Hensley flags the video it shows that she can’t counter the argument herself and instead she lazily tries to censor this person.

WoolyBumblebee could easily make another video with the exact same criticism of Hensley, without using the word “twat.” Then there’s be no reason for it to be flagged and she could carry on with her “criticism.” If she can’t mount a “critique” without hurling gendered slurs, then she’s stupid and does not have the right to have anybody, Hensley or Youtube or whoever, give her a platform.

You have used a fallacy here and you have used it to defend a hypersensitive idiot.

If you say that someone has used a fallacy, then the onus is on you to identify which fallacy and explain which part of the person’s argument constitutes a fallacy. You have not done that, so, your contention is dismissed.

Freedom of expression is not just a legal right it is an ideal that we should live by. Even though we have the power to do something doesn’t mean we should do it.

Trivially true statement is trivially true. TF has the power to accuse fellow atheists of hating free speech, just because they get tired of dealing with his lies and bullshit. That doesn’t mean he should do it.

If you want to deal with controversial subjects a thicker skin is more helpful then banning people from arguements. Banning people is a very ignorant close minded thing to do. It says to the world that I am above criticism and dont have to deal with youre arguments but will take all these nice comments because im a self absorbed loser who gets a consensus by banning dissenting opinions.

That’s what it says to YOU. To other people, it might say other things, such as, “You have been given a chance to prove that you are capable of backing up your arguments with evidence and reason and have shown that you can’t do that. I’m not under any obligation to listen to your blather anymore.”

I have been a TF watcher for like 6 years so there is probably a bias but you have to admit that when you say Amy Roth is a loving person its sounds like you have met her and all the other people in question here so is it possible that maybe you are biased too?

Everyone is biased. But even TF’s self-described friends are now saying that he is impervious to criticism and will not accept that he could possibly be wrong about this. Does that sound like a skeptic doing skepticism? Not to me.

Maybe you want to defend your friends which is understandable. Just as it’s understandable that I am defending one of my favorite you tubers.

The fact that TF is among your favorites says more about you than it does about him. Debunking creationists is so ten years ago. Islamophobia is not cool, and neither is sexism. Apparently you dig these things. But hey, you also said that you think the idea that it’s wrong to hurt people is BS, so.

IMO the sides that are being drawn here are the people who err of the side of freedom and those who err on the side of not offending people.

Your opinion is without evidence and reason and is thus worthless.

114 Gem Newman January 4, 2013 at 12:40 am

Yes. This is the best response to any of this absurdity that I’ve read in quite some time. Well done!

115 MichaelD January 4, 2013 at 12:47 am

While I don’t entirely agree with every single point, this is a superior effort to deconstruct the many problems in thunderf00ts video then my own attempt.

Hat’s off to you, you did a thorough job of it.

116 Daniel January 4, 2013 at 12:54 am

Further slow clap from elsewhere in the gathered crowd

117 Damion Reinhardt (@D4M10N) January 4, 2013 at 1:12 am

” I will oppose any attempts to ostracize the people you name, and I will also oppose any attempts to ostracize people like you who disagree with them.”

Huzzah! I want to see TF and PZ on the same panel.

118 Stacy January 4, 2013 at 1:32 am

Thank you, Michael.

It’s not easy to counter determined misrepresentation. You’ve done an excellent job of it.

119 Joe Harte January 4, 2013 at 1:44 am

I just wasted 2 hours of my life both reading this and trying to trace it all back to source – which appears to be a drunken eejit in a hotel going, “uh, you wanna come back to my room for a coffee? …No? …OK”. For me the ‘A’ in Atheism was about removing irrational bullshit from my life. This ‘community’ seems to have lost all perspective over something that has nothing to do with its ideals or aims, and is getting bogged down in sectional infighting, much to the glee of its real enemies. Militant Tendancy, anyone?

120 Anne Marie January 4, 2013 at 2:11 am

Bravo.

121 Anne Marie January 4, 2013 at 2:17 am

“MRAs advocate for compassion and understanding for men.”

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHA. I think your fedora’s on too tight.

122 Anne Marie January 4, 2013 at 2:26 am

“I don’t claim to know Dr. Hall’s motivation but she is a woman of genuine and significant accomplishment, which is cheapened by the type of victim feminism espoused by Atheism plus, which holds that women can only compete with men if given a head-start on a tilted playing field. If anything, Dr. Hall was responding to the mockery of her accomplishments by women who have a noticeable lack of accomplishments of their own.”

Her motivation was to make a scene, that’s why she wore it for THREE days straight without changing shirts, even when Amy tried to talk to her about it.

Also, it’s pretty hypocritical of the author of “WOMEN Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a FEMALE Flight Surgeon” to comment on other people mentioning sexism. But I wouldn’t expect another woman flight surgeon to follow her around wearing a shirt that says I’M A FLIGHT SURGEON NOT A FEMALE FLIGHT SURGEON! because that would be a shitty thing to do.

123 smitty January 4, 2013 at 2:53 am

There exists a schism in the atheist community (those that publicly voice an opinion, but hardly the global community espousing non-belief in a deity) which IMO started with the creation of Atheism+. It is the belief of many in the community that Atheism+ has been hijacked by Feminism. Thunderf00t’s video addresses this split and the effects of this divide by offering various clips to illustrate his points. Implicit in your analysis is that the video isn’t constructive and helpful towards mending this problem. With all your lengthy and subjective rant aside, can you honestly say that the mainstream atheists engineered this division or do you forget Carrier’s manifesto?
Further do you deny that Rebecca Watson hasn’t capitalized in every way possible on her story that created the “Elevatorgate” episode?

I find it ridiculous that you would expect atheists without a dogma to accept one which even you cannot deny has “feminism” as a central tenet. Also one where PZ Myers infers that the definition should be changed. I know you will deny that.

Thunderf00t has every right to make videos. Any body claiming he doesn’t is wrong. He did not exhibit dishonesty except to word mongers who cite context like Bible-thumpers.

I have no dog in the fight between feminists, or advocacy for the MRM movements. I don’t subscribe to T’f00t or Matt. But I do resent being challenged on what constitutes the label of atheist. Atheism+ may not exist in your universe but it is the most divisive organization to non-believers I have ever witnessed in my short (3) years life on YouTube and Vlogland. Your critique only strengthens that schism.

peace

124 cire k January 4, 2013 at 2:54 am

hmm, does appear he took her out of context there. he probably started out right on the issue, but has let his emotions get the better of him in some instances. anyway, the idea that the atheist community is anti woman needs to be put to rest; its not the case, and its becoming very distracting.

125 anon January 4, 2013 at 2:55 am

Septic Feminism is the evil banality that men are disposable.

The radical notion that men are people? That’s Men’s Rights.

126 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 2:55 am

It never fails that when someone criticizes a feminist, it is labeled a “personal attack”, and the one criticizing unreasonable feminist demands is told it is “not helpful”, yet the unreasonable feminist demands are never told, by these same people, that they are being unreasonable. Unreasonable demands like insisting fake jewelry and offending people be deemed unallowable behavior. A fact you glossed over in preference for accusing TF of mocking Amy and making a personal attack. Do you agree with Amy’s call for making fake jewelry and offending people unallowable? Have you ever said as much to Amy, or do you only tell people who criticize such demands their participation on the subject “isn’t helpful”? Do you identify as feminist?

127 Audra January 4, 2013 at 2:59 am

Very well done and much appreciated. I can only hope that the harassers and their pep squad will find something more productive and less destructive to do with their time.

128 Ted January 4, 2013 at 3:16 am

Thank you for the response Sally

The word twat is a word it will not physically hurt anybody. I assure you we don’t need to censor somebody just because she used a word you chose to find offensive. Should we censor Kanye West videos when he says the whole “she aint messing with no broke niggas”. Are you seriously saying that just because a person finds the word niggas offensive in that context we should flag Kanye’s video? What if you just don’t like the opinions of a certain person should people flag it because they think it is offensive? Once you decide to censor somebody else I don’t care what that person did the censor is the one that is the true bully IMO.

Has anyone actually called for this? No

Did you watch the video because clearly there is a video screen shot of Melody doing exactly that on Facebook. It is possible that TF made up this Facebook post but it seems like someone would have called him on it. The freedom to speak whether it is on private or public places is still free speech. Free speech is not a right on public places but it still isn’t right to repress it IMO. It closes the door to conversation.

Clearly you don’t get out much.

I think closing the door on other people’s opinions and ideas is stupid and uncooperative to progression. If you’re too sensitive to not be able to handle dissent whether it be stupid pointless dissent or actual poignant dissent than I’m sorry but you are very weak. Ergo I think it’s one of the stupidest/weakest things I have ever heard.

This applies to Wooly Bumblebee as much as it does to Melody. She could easily avoid the grievous insult of having Youtube videos flagged by not posting Youtube videos.

I guess I find censoring other peoples work way more offensive than the word twat. It makes sense to me because twat doesn’t actually hurt people or censor anybody while censoring people’s videos may not hurt anybody physically it does censor people and we should all be capable of handling criticism before we resort to not allowing people to speak on an open forum.

What you really shouldn’t do is cry “censorship” when you violate the terms of use of someone else’s private platform. That makes you look stupid.

I looked up the word censorship because hell maybe was really screwing that word up because I agree I am pretty stupid.

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

Its sounds like “other controlling body” is what we are talking about here so I think the word still stands while I still might be a raging stupid idiot I’m still right in calling it censorship. You can still censor people and not infringe upon their first amendment rights.

That’s not true. If it were, he wouldn’t be characterizing people setting and enforcing the terms of speech in their private forums as censorship.

As we both now know what censorship means it seems to me that TF using censorship doesn’t mean he thinks his rights are being infringed upon.

Yes, he is saying that. His reasoning is fallacious; just because creationists use a certain tactic doesn’t mean that every single other person who uses that tactic is using it for the same reasons that creationists use it. If the arguments of the people he is criticizing are really so bad, then he should just say that they are bad and explain how and why. Instead he uses smear tactics (“You did that thing that creationists do!”), quote-mines, and unflattering editing. If he had a really substantive critique, he wouldn’t need these tactics.

Why should anybody do it? How do you know they are not doing it for the same reason? Is the elevatorgate issue really that open and shut of a case that we have to block people for talking about it? Matt Dilihunty did for a moment there and TF calls him on it and everybody is calling him dishonest for it. I agree I wish he took more time with the Rebecca Watson part Its seems like he just glossed over that video when I think she did some very shitty things like misrepresent Richard Dawkins in that very speech. But yes I agree that TF should do better he has done some things in the past that I don’t agree with. TF and I are not doppelgangers. I don’t agree that the community is especially dangerous and nobody wants to back that up with evidence. I also don’t think we should tell people what to wear but that’s just my opinion. I also don’t care if people get offended. You do know that being offended doesn’t mean you get your way?
I’ll try to come back for the rest of it. But once again thanks for the response!

129 Michael Nugent January 4, 2013 at 4:25 am

Thanks for all of the feedback to date.

I’ll respond to it all together as soon as I can.

In the meantime, the publisher of the video about Melody Hensley, that was flagged for bullying on YouTube, has admitted in a new video that Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied.

http://bit.ly/X4z67w

130 Hockey Bob January 4, 2013 at 4:28 am

A shorter version would simply read… “Thunderfoot is a misogynistic asshole – yet again.”

He’s wrong, he knows he’s wrong, anyone with a minimum of 2 firing synapses knows he’s wrong, and yet, he continues to infinity-down* on his douchebaggery.

* = doubling-down ad nauseam.

131 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 4:29 am

I also need to ask, where does TF ask for ostracism? I see him asking that leaders don’t appease the whinners. Basically, stop pandering to feminist’s demands.

I noticed a few people in the comments promote the idea that TF and many who agree with him have a problem with women having a voice. The problem with this argument is that many of those who support TF’s ideas are, themselves, women. Furthermore, those on the other side of the divide have, for a long time, been calling the community systemically sexist and full of misogynists, and if anyone dares to call bullshit, they are personally labeled misogynist, among other names. This isn’t an example of women trying to have a voice, this is an example of women using that voice to attack others, then pretending any reprisal to such attacks are based in sexism. If women having a voice is what this is all about, then what about the voices of the women who oppose the incursion of feminism? Do their voices not count? Why does PZ’s voice count, while Abbie Smith or Renee Hendricks are deemed misogynistic?

132 Lee Harrison January 4, 2013 at 4:37 am

V. cool. Thank you for giving that video the thorough fisking it deserved.

133 Names January 4, 2013 at 4:39 am

I can’t comprehend how Thunder Foot can be so blind to matters. It astounds me. It also upsets me, because I respected him once.

134 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 4:56 am

It seems that I am internet-famous now! ^_^

For what it is worth, my comments were rather inarticulate. And yes, it is a paraphrase of JS Mill. I was referring to words that HURT. Hate speech.

And yes, I consider sexist insults that are predicated on the belief that women are lesser than men, or exist only for sex to be “hate speech.” This includes language like “cunt” and the like.

135 Improbable Joe January 4, 2013 at 4:57 am

Nice… pretty ugly and illogical stuff from TF.

136 delete me January 4, 2013 at 4:58 am

delete me

137 Ted January 4, 2013 at 5:05 am

testing

138 athyco January 4, 2013 at 5:08 am

But I suspect that you will find little traction in your approach of reigniting an inflammatory issue that many of us are trying to resolve constructively by creating communities that are inclusive, caring and supportive.

Thank you.

139 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

I have to admit, I am halfway disappointed that Tf00t didn’t deride me as a radical feminist.

Because while – despite his claim to the contrary – I am out to destroy atheism or secularism, I am in fact a radical feminist.

But then, he probably views “radical feminist” as an insult, or the proper term to describe any woman who doesn’t agree with him.

140 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 5:13 am

The word twat is a word it will not physically hurt anybody.

Some people choose to remain ignorant of the power of speech to hurt people. Yes, physically hurt. In order to form the idea that it’s okay to rape and murder women, one must first dehumanize women. In order to dehumanize them, one must make use of language that portrays women as something other than human. This includes insulting men for having feminine characteristics. Or insulting men and women by comparing them to female anatomy or feminine characteristics. This sort of language makes it possible for rape and domestic abuse to be epidemic in our society, just as widespread use of “nigger” and other dehumanizing language about people of color made it possible for lynchings to be a socially acceptable family outing in our society.

The fact that some people choose to remain in denial about this aspect of reality is their problem, and nobody else’s.

141 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 5:14 am

Also, “Atheism+ is divisive”?

Really?

The problem is that feminists have finally had enough of sexist asshats?

Oh, wait, I forgot. Women are supposed to sit in the back and be quiet. And pass out cookies. And provide sex. That is what we are for, after all. If we complain about anything men do, then that is misandry.

142 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 5:14 am

calling the community systemically sexist

I grew up in, and still live in, a community that is systemically sexist. You didn’t? You do not? Please tell me where this special magical place is, and how I can get there.

143 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 5:20 am

Is the elevatorgate issue really that open and shut of a case that we have to block people for talking about it?

Yes, absolutely. Anyone who thinks that “Hey guys, don’t do that” is at all controversial is not worth listening to. After more than a year of hearing objections from men who for some reason are outraged about receiving some useful advice about how to hit on someone without getting shot down, I have no hesitation. Sometimes I take a moment to correct their misunderstandings, but more often these days I just move on. It’s a useful shibboleth, actually. After this much time, there’s no excuse for being upset about “Guys don’t do that.” Anyone professing outrage about that is automatically revealing himself to be a misogynist or a misogynist dupe.

*sits back and waits for the frothing to commence*

144 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 5:20 am

@112 Sally Strange

It’s a fact that twat refers to female genitalia, and is used as an insult because it’s bad to be associated with all things female.

Is it? I suppose prick and dick are compliments then? Or is it perhaps you are simply attempting to inject some kind of sexism into the insult to try and make it fit your “sexism in the community” narrative? Is it not possible that refering to someone as genitalia, regardless of which sex they come from, is deemed an insult, and how the user views the sex owning that particular genitalia is completely unrelated

So, it would seem your interpretation is subjective. And using that term does not require one to devalue women specificaly in order to use it, though it may be used to devalue a particular woman (or man)… but that’s generally the purpose of an insult.

This applies to Wooly Bumblebee as much as it does to Melody. She could easily avoid the grievous insult of having Youtube videos flagged by not posting Youtube videos.

Are you seriously trying to equate calling someone a twat and giving their reasons for doing so being equivilent to calling for all followers to flag a video as harrassment, even if that requires making a new account to do so? At no point did WBB ever try to have someone elses views silenced, meanwhile Melody blocked a number of users simply because they happened to be following a group she didn’t agree with, then she attempted to organize a flagging campaign. In nether case did she actualy try to express an opinion, merely to prevent others from doing so. These two people’s situations are not equivilent.

You think that “Don’t hurt people” is BS. Duly noted.

And it would seem you do have a problem with people getting their feelings hurt by words. Duly noted. I guess “nobody has the right not to be offended” only applies to some people, right?

Criticism is one thing. Pointing to these things as evidence that these people are “poisoning atheism” and oppose free speech and should be excluded from events is just stupid.

Firstly, I didn’t see any mention of excluding them from events. That was this authors injection. TF suggests not appeasing these peoples demands. Stop pandering to them.

Next, if they are demonstrating an opposition to free speach and/or open diolog, why then is pointing this out considered stuid instead of criticism? Why do you get to define what is and isn’t critism? How do you (and Michael Nugent, for that matter) define criticism that makes what TF did a personal attack and not criticism?

Lastly, why is it all right to call people divisive, but not “poisonous to the movement”? Had he said divisive, would it have been more acceptable? Somehow I doubt it.

Maybe he ought to check on this before calling these people opponents of free speech who are poisoning atheism and should be excluded from events.

I’d argue their willingness to do those things in the first place, even if they did come to regret it, is evidence of the poisoning of atheism and skepticism. Perhaps the fact the later regretted it may mean the poisoning isn’t as bad as TF thinks, or it could just mean they are made aware of the negative reprecussions of their actions.

WoolyBumblebee could easily make another video with the exact same criticism of Hensley, without using the word “twat.” Then there’s be no reason for it to be flagged and she could carry on with her “criticism.”

Except Melody called for it to be flagged as harrassment, not because it used a bad word.

If she can’t mount a “critique” without hurling gendered slurs, then she’s stupid and does not have the right to have anybody, Hensley or Youtube or whoever, give her a platform.

You mean, like calling someone a misogynist instead of actualy addressing what they have to say?

That’s what it says to YOU. To other people, it might say other things, such as, “You have been given a chance to prove that you are capable of backing up your arguments with evidence and reason and have shown that you can’t do that. I’m not under any obligation to listen to your blather anymore.”

Odd, when people say this type of thing to the likes of Watson and others like her, they are told they are misogynists and fear women’s opinions (in fact, you call both thunderfoot and Ted sexist for standing up against what they percieve as problematice behavior). That they are trying to deny women a voice and/or oppress them.

Debunking creationists is so ten years ago. Islamophobia is not cool, and neither is sexism. Apparently you dig these things.

And here we have an accusation of sexism, against both TF and Ted. What precisely have they said that demonstrates sexism? Or is it simply the opposition to feminism? Does being against feminism automatically make you sexist? Does feminism have some monopoly on egalitarian thought?

Your opinion is without evidence and reason and is thus worthless.

Sumary dismissal, not a particularly helpful rebuttal, especially given you have clearly placed yourself in the position of “words can hurt people’s feelings, and thinking that making policy to prevent it is BS” is wrong. You see no issue with a flagging campign because one woman called another woman a twat. You yourself are an example of being on the side of not offending people being more important than being free to say what you please.

145 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 5:20 am

systemically sexist

That sounds like an excellent descriptor for every single society and subculture on Earth.

146 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 5:24 am

Thunderf00t has every right to make videos. Any body claiming he doesn’t is wrong.

Yes, it’s ever so important to make sure that everyone understands that there are things that are wrong. Who cares if nobody is actually advocating those things? Let’s all make sure that we’re all agreed that no one is in favor of stealing all TF’s computers and phones and locking him in a technology-free room and physically preventing him from making videos. Okay. We’re all agreed? Also, let’s take a role call to make sure that nobody is calling for Congress to pass a law against TF making youtube videos.

147 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 5:24 am

What precisely have they said that demonstrates sexism?

I cannot speak of Ted, because I have not read what he said, but Tf00t does not seem to realize that the difference between flirting or sexually charged language (okay) and sexual harassment (bad) is that consent. Namely, that the problem with sexual harassment is that only one of the people involved wants it, and the other person finds unwelcome.

Tf00t’s “leg chewing” crap neatly encapsulates this. No one told him that he couldn’t chew on the legs of women who welcomed this. What he was told was that chewing on the legs of women who did not welcome this was verboten.

Consent. It is kinda important.

148 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 5:30 am

I predict, however, that “consent is the important distinction” will convince exactly no one, however.

Because bitches. And boners.

(that’s always the reason!)

149 Stacy January 4, 2013 at 5:30 am

“You yourself are an example of being on the side of not offending people being more important than being free to say what you please”

Wut? WB is free to say whatever she wants. If she wants to use YouTube to offend somebody, the person she’s offending has a right to flag her droppings as personal attacks–which they were–

I mean, free speech, right?

Seriously, people. Free speech does not mean you get to use somebody else’s platform to say any old thing you want.

Kristina Hansen has blogs of her own. Nobody is trying to shut them down.

150 MrPopularSentiment January 4, 2013 at 5:33 am

On the one hand, I pretty much wrote TF off a long while ago and hardly think he’s worth so much eInk. On the other hand, this was an excellent argument against points that seem to be made with such harrowing frequency.

151 Astrokid.NJ January 4, 2013 at 5:57 am

Thunderf00t, I’ll give you a straight answer. As an organiser of conferences and as chairperson of Atheist Ireland, I will oppose any attempts to ostracize the people you name, and I will also oppose any attempts to ostracize people like you who disagree with them.

Damn.. PeeZus must be shaking in his boots when you say that.. Yeah the PeeZus who said

Yes, we want to make Thunderf00t/Phil Mason a pariah in the atheist movement, and for good reason: he’s a dishonest scumbag

152 Nathan January 4, 2013 at 5:58 am

*Joins slow clap*

153 Sally Strange January 4, 2013 at 5:59 am

Is it? I suppose prick and dick are compliments then?

Not a big fan of those myself, and trying to use them less. But note that prick and dick have connotations of arrogance and domineering. Not so for twat and pussy. Both sets of insults reflect our culture’s fucked-up ideas about gender.

Or is it perhaps you are simply attempting to inject some kind of sexism into the insult to try and make it fit your “sexism in the community” narrative?

There is sexism in the community. I haven’t yet found a community that doesn’t have some sexism. The communities I prefer are the ones where people acknowledge their biases and prejudices and actively work to counteract them. I used to call this “doing skepticism.” Apparently it’s something different, according to you? Should we rather pretend there’s no sexism and hope it goes away if we don’t talk about it?

Is it not possible that refering to someone as genitalia, regardless of which sex they come from, is deemed an insult, and how the user views the sex owning that particular genitalia is completely unrelated

All kinds of things are possible. Cf. Russell’s teapot.

So, it would seem your interpretation is subjective.

It’s an objective fact that “twat” refers to female genitalia and is used as an insult. Unless “there’s a baby coming out of your twat” means something other than “you’re giving birth.” You tell me.

And using that term does not require one to devalue women specificaly in order to use it, though it may be used to devalue a particular woman (or man)… but that’s generally the purpose of an insult.

Dear naive person, yes. That is how insults function. By devaluing an individual by comparing him or her to things of low value. “You piece of shit.” Works because shit is a low-value type of thing. “You cunt” works because cunts are low-value things. Language, it sure is fun, eh? It forms ideas and ideas create actions and actions have effects on the real world.

This applies to Wooly Bumblebee as much as it does to Melody. She could easily avoid the grievous insult of having Youtube videos flagged by not posting Youtube videos.

Are you seriously trying to equate calling someone a twat and giving their reasons for doing so being equivilent to calling for all followers to flag a video as harrassment, even if that requires making a new account to do so?

What reason is there for calling someone a twat? That is not an essential part of the argument. Youtube is a forum where such language is not permitted. It is quite simple to adjust one’s language according to the standards of the forum in which one is participating. I swear and insult people in forums where that’s okay. When it’s not, I don’t. I don’t find it a challenge. I have no respect for anyone who does.

At no point did WBB ever try to have someone elses views silenced, meanwhile Melody blocked a number of users simply because they happened to be following a group she didn’t agree with, then she attempted to organize a flagging campaign. In nether case did she actualy try to express an opinion, merely to prevent others from doing so. These two people’s situations are not equivilent.

I can’t speak for Melody, and I haven’t watched the video in question. I hesitate to venture much of an opinion about the whole thing in that question. I will point out that, “If you can’t make an argument without resorting to gendered slurs, your opinion isn’t worthy of attention” is an opinion that is worth expressing.

You think that “Don’t hurt people” is BS. Duly noted.

And it would seem you do have a problem with people getting their feelings hurt by words.

Nope, not feelings. I object to gendered slurs because there is strong evidence suggesting that such evidence helps maintain a culture in which violence against women is epidemic.

Duly noted. I guess “nobody has the right not to be offended” only applies to some people, right?

You keep conflating “hurt” and “offended.” They are different things. If you are too dim-witted to process the distinction then that is your failing and nobody else’s.

Criticism is one thing. Pointing to these things as evidence that these people are “poisoning atheism” and oppose free speech and should be excluded from events is just stupid.

Firstly, I didn’t see any mention of excluding them from events. That was this authors injection. TF suggests not appeasing these peoples demands. Stop pandering to them.

The distinction between calling for exclusion and this:

“Seriously, those who organise conferences, get a grip. You do not have to appease the request of every PC whiner. The secular community can achieve great things, but it will never achieve anything while it has poison like this being dripped into its heart. Please forward this video to leaders of secular groups who you think need to hear this message.”

Is what, exactly? Tell atheist leaders that certain people are poisoning the community and preventing it from achieving great things… but, you know, keep on inviting them as speakers and stuff. Sure. You must think we’re all as naive as you.

Next, if they are demonstrating an opposition to free speach and/or open diolog, why then is pointing this out considered stuid instead of criticism?

Because it is demonstrably incorrect. Saying, “I don’t want to listen to your bullshit anymore” is demonstrably different from, “Let’s pass a law/make some rules to make sure nobody listens to your bullshit anymore, even if they want to.”

Why do you get to define what is and isn’t critism?

I don’t. I look to what the word is generally meant to mean when most people use it. I look it up in the dictionary. What TF is doing is not criticism.

How do you (and Michael Nugent, for that matter) define criticism that makes what TF did a personal attack and not criticism?

Well, for one thing, real criticism is honest.

Lastly, why is it all right to call people divisive, but not “poisonous to the movement”? Had he said divisive, would it have been more acceptable? Somehow I doubt it.

I can’t speak for others, but I am all for dividing myself from TF and his fans. People who make and tolerate rape threats during the course of ordinary conversations are worthless people.

Maybe he ought to check on this before calling these people opponents of free speech who are poisoning atheism and should be excluded from events.

I’d argue their willingness to do those things in the first place, even if they did come to regret it, is evidence of the poisoning of atheism and skepticism.

Poisoning. Interesting word. So, people who come to a convention having put a shit-ton of effort into personally attacking another convention-goer by mocking her art–that’s healthy. Getting upset about this and saying that this probably ought not to be tolerated by convention organizers if they want to maintain a convivial atmosphere is “poisoning.” People who take the privilege of crapping their toxic sexist opinions all over someone’s personal FB page–that’s healthy. But banning those people is “poisoning.” Being an asshole is okay, but pointing out that assholery ought not be tolerated is “poisoning.”

[snip]

Except Melody called for it to be flagged as harrassment, not because it used a bad word.

Guess I shouldn’t have taken Michael Nugent’s word for it? Doesn’t matter, anyway. Twat is a gendered slur, using it in a video as part of a “critique” is a pretty reliable indication that the video represents harassment, not legitimate criticism. Like I said, anyone who’s not capable of doing that isn’t worth engaging with anyway.

If she can’t mount a “critique” without hurling gendered slurs, then she’s stupid and does not have the right to have anybody, Hensley or Youtube or whoever, give her a platform.

You mean, like calling someone a misogynist instead of actualy addressing what they have to say?

No, in fact it’s quite different from that. I understand it feeds your ego to think they’re similar. If I ever call someone a misogynist, I have solid reasons for doing so and can explain them at a moment’s notice. “Misogynist” has a meaning besides “bad, dirty, unworthy,” you know – that’s what sets it apart from words like “twat” or “jerk” or whatever. Being called a misogynist is, I am happy to inform you, not the end of the fucking world. And there is certainly no evidential link, whether causative or correlative, between labeling people misogynists and an epidemic of gendered violence in our society.

That’s what it says to YOU. To other people, it might say other things, such as, “You have been given a chance to prove that you are capable of backing up your arguments with evidence and reason and have shown that you can’t do that. I’m not under any obligation to listen to your blather anymore.”

Odd, when people say this type of thing to the likes of Watson and others like her, they are told they are misogynists and fear women’s opinions (in fact, you call both thunderfoot and Ted sexist for standing up against what they percieve as problematice behavior). That they are trying to deny women a voice and/or oppress them.

Except that that isn’t what they’re doing, is it? It’s not like they’re banning Rebecca Watson from their own private forums. They’re actively seeking her out, sending her emails and tweets and FB messages. So, no real equivalence there–your dishonesty is on display here for sure.

Debunking creationists is so ten years ago. Islamophobia is not cool, and neither is sexism. Apparently you dig these things.

And here we have an accusation of sexism, against both TF and Ted. What precisely have they said that demonstrates sexism?

For TF, mainly that he opposes taking any action to make women more comfortable at conferences and lies in order to make his opposition to harassment policies seem more reasonable. For Ted, it’s that this seems like a reasonable position.

Or is it simply the opposition to feminism? Does being against feminism automatically make you sexist?

Yes.

Does feminism have some monopoly on egalitarian thought?

Definitely not. Feminism has many flaws, but one way to accurately identify a misogynist is that they hate feminism for fictional, rather than real reasons. Kind of like how racists hate Obama for being a Kenyan Muslim reparationist-loving Marxist instead of hating him for caving to the GOP and signing the NDAA.

Your opinion is without evidence and reason and is thus worthless.

Sumary dismissal,

Indeed.

not a particularly helpful rebuttal, especially given you have clearly placed yourself in the position of “words can hurt people’s feelings, and thinking that making policy to prevent it is BS” is wrong.

This is not controversial. Words can hurt people’s feelings. But that’s not the concern. Words can hurt women’s participation at atheist/skeptic conferences, for example, the words, “Hey baby, how about it?” repeated enough times at enough different women, will entice women to avoid the person who says those words. If that person is known to attend atheist conferences then they will avoid those conferences. Not rocket surgery.

You see no issue with a flagging campign because one woman called another woman a twat.

No, I don’t. I don’t see how “You twat!” adds anything to the critical discourse around the issue.

You yourself are an example of being on the side of not offending people being more important than being free to say what you please.

You are perfectly free to say as you please. So is TF. So is Wooly Bumblebee. Nobody has had their speech repressed in any way. What we are having right now is a great big round of free speech back-and-forth. Can you point me to any GENUINE calls for censorship, not just “Take your bullshit somewhere besides my webpage/FB page/conference”? No, you can’t. And yet you and TF persist in claiming that this wish to avoid hearing jerks spout assholery amounts to a serious threat to freedom of thought and speech. It is to laugh.

154 Susan Silberstein January 4, 2013 at 6:02 am

So tired of the vitriol, so good to read another supportive post. Thank you.

155 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 6:08 am

@Sally Strange

In order to dehumanize them, one must make use of language that portrays women as something other than human.

You mean, like misogynist does to men?

This includes insulting men for having feminine characteristics.

I suppose being a real princess, royalty, admiral, etc. is a bad thing? Or is it possible that calling somebody by a position above their station can also be an insult/mocking?

Or insulting men and women by comparing them to female anatomy or feminine characteristics.

And again I must ask, are prick and dick compliments? Or is it possible that you are injecting your own sexism against men onto others?

This sort of language makes it possible for rape and domestic abuse to be epidemic in our society

Now that is a claim that requires evidence. Actually, there are a number of claims there that need evidence. The ideas that rape is epidemic (I’m talking actual rape. Not the kind of rape that includes catcalling, like RAINN uses), that Domestic violence is epidemic, and finally that the use of language has a causal relation to those claims. And given the recent CDC 12 month figures seems to support the idea of near parity between men and women with regards to Domestic abuse and rape, I need to wonder then what the cause is for men.

I grew up in, and still live in, a community that is systemically sexist. You didn’t? You do not?

Nope. You see, the society in which I live has, for a very long time, supported women in both the systems of governance and of law, both officially, and through bias. I would hope I don’t need to point out how family law is biased in favor of women. This society also has ministrys, councils, board, etc, in the federal, state/provincial and sometimes even municipal levels, all specifically to cover women’s issues, health, etc. It has laws in place that use the Duluth model of power dynamics to say a man is always the perpetrator and a woman is always the victim in a family dispute, even when the man was passed out asleep and got his penis cut off and thrown in a field.

These seem like systemic issues to me, and are all sexist against men, so even the issues that exist against women doesn’t make the society as a whole systemically sexist, it makes it flawed for both sexes. But I suspect you will try to turn these issues into some sexism against women. After all, when you can rationalize the claim that, even a woman calling another woman a twat, is doing so because she feels women are inferior, and doing so in order to make her own rape more acceptable, making the inequities of family law into some affront to women shouldn’t be hard.

Please tell me where this special magical place is, and how I can get there.

It’s called western society, and you can get there by taking off your blinders and realizing that everyone has problems, not just women, and that white men aren’t the boogeyman out to oppress you. We’re just tired of being sidelined after 50 years of feminists monopolizing the gender discourse.

After more than a year of hearing objections from men who for some reason are outraged about receiving some useful advice about how to hit on someone without getting shot down, I have no hesitation.

Yeah, because the years of baseless accusation of systemic and individual sexism in the community played no part in her opposition. The idea that she is judging the entire community as misogynistic, yet finds something as non controversial (your own words) as a polite (if inappropriately timed) proposition, and a subsequent acceptance of the rejection, as problematic enough to speak on, that couldn’t play any part. The fact she and/or others used rape threats to justify her making this statement, rather than just letting it go (I guess it’s only us that are expected to let things go?) played no part? And certainly all the accusations of misogyny for telling her that it’s not that controversial, and to get over it, it’s no big deal, played no part. Yeah, it was only the “don’t do that” that people seem to have a problem with, because the big bad white man gotta keep the woman down.

Anyone professing outrage about that is automatically revealing himself to be a misogynist or a misogynist dupe.

Is this an attempt to dehumanize men and a man’s “dupe”? Power of language and all.

*sits back and waits for the frothing to commence*

I’m curious if it’s even possible to disagree with you without it being labeled “frothing”?

156 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

Indeed, Esteleth, why would anyone consider “radical feminist” to be a bad thing. I guess you would have to ask Andrea “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig” Dworkin about that, or Robin “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act” Morgan, or author of SCUM Manifesto Valerie “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo” Solanas.

I’m sure there’s plenty of other loons I’m forgetting. Of course, there’s the skeptifem blogger who frequently uses the term “gender traitor” and has a blog post dedicated to it, or I Blame the Patriarchy, that cesspool of waning wit and intelligence; or how about RadFemHub, who calls for the extermination of men entirely? Although these are obviously not your inspiration — these insane, disturbed women, who belong in a lunatic asylum — I’m sure yours are more kind-hearted. Kind-hearted radical feminists. Also, I don’t agree with ThunderfOOt on everything but I do agree with him on this and I certainly wouldn’t say everyone who disagrees with me is a radical feminist. But now that the cat’s out of the bag (you alone, Esteleth, have uncovered our scheming plot), I guess I can’t keep it a secret any longer. What foiled my plan was my propensity for common sense.

(By the way, I’m totally calling it right now; you will tell me I’m a misogynist, a sexist, who doesn’t care about women, women’s safety at conferences, blah blah blah. Boring.)

157 Morningstar January 4, 2013 at 6:51 am

Oh mate, you really want to look up what a personal attack is.

If i punch you in the face, thats a personal attack. When you tell people i punched you in the face, thats not a personal attack: I did indeed punch you in the face.

These supposed personal attacks are not personal attacks, they are just TF pointing out what these people have done & said… In some cases literally letting them speak for themselves. Thats not a personal attack its just a reiteration of demonstrable, objective reality.

158 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:53 am

Sally Strange – No, “twat” and “cunt” most certainly do not always denote a sexist connotation. If you’re concerned about what denotes a “sexist connotation”, take the word vagina. Oh, it’s the medically, politically correct accepted term, but what does it mean? According to Wiki, it comes from the Latin, meaning, get this: scabbard or sheath. Yes, the word you prefer to be used for your genitals is, in fact, another word for a receptacle – for a weapon.

For more on this, watch this short documentary by Germaine Greer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDJutaFuVD0

You also need to look at the cultural differences. For goodness sake, even Ophelia Benson has even acknowledged the cultural differences when it comes to these words, yet somehow it’s swept into one. In England, it’s a gender neutral word. In Australia, it’s a term of endearment. Only in the US, where you’re from, I suspect, does it carry the connotation of being derisive to mainly women. To say otherwise is absolute and unmitigated bullshit. I doubt you would have the same propensity to remove the word “fanny”, would you? Even though, same as “cunt”, it can be used to deride women, what with it being a slang term for a woman’s genitals.

159 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 7:03 am

Morningstar – Exactly. Compare to reciting passages from the Bible. I don’t think anyone here would call reciting the particularly damning passages from the Bible a “personal attack”, even if apologists and Christians would be offended.

No, these people should accept the consequences of their actions. If you decide to publicly block people just because of their presumed or future association, then you deserve to be mocked and/or called on it. It’s as simple as that. If you happen to be a CFI Executive Director to boot while performing these antics, then you not only deserve to be mocked and/or called on it, you deserve a lesson. Melody should cut that shit out. If she keeps pulling crap like that and doesn’t like the treatment she gets afterwards (enough to deem it “harassment and bullying” and even “misogyny”), she should quit and let someone else more capable take over.

160 Ricardo J Valdivia January 4, 2013 at 8:09 am

bad article with bad information and some out right lies.

will not be recommending it or sharing it.

161 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

Sally Strange @112

You wrote:
“It’s a fact that twat refers to female genitalia, and is used as an insult because it’s bad to be associated with all things female”

And what about cock, prick, dick, balls, dickhead? Are these insulting because ‘it’s bad to be associated with all things male’ or do you have another spurious ad hoc argument to pull out your ass?

Or maybe you are just talking bollocks? And yes: add that one to your list as well!

162 =8)-DX January 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

Just a note on the YT “false-flagging” system, this is meant to be used to report videos violating the YT terms of service (where things like pornography or real-life violence/death threats are prohibited). I don’t think videos on YT should be taken down for using swearwords, or criticising people (albeit inappropriately) and I can understand people like TF who’ve been at the brunt of such attacks from creationists and other nutjobs rejecting this wholesale. False flagging campaigns and DMCAs are, similarly to doc-dropping – immoral and mass blocking people and disabling comments on YT are things properly frowned on, although they are often perfectly legitimate things to do.

But otherwise I completely agree with this article. I’d say it would be wonderful if TF would read this and respons appropriately, but he has an ego the size of an elephant and any response would probably be petty and dismissive (if previous experience is anything to go by).

163 Ted January 4, 2013 at 10:33 am

You think that “Don’t hurt people” is BS. Duly noted. Are you aware that the majority of people think that hurting other people is a bad thing?

There are downsides to freedom of speech (like getting your feelings hurt) but that doesn’t justify censoring people or limiting FOS. Comparing verbal attacks to physical attacks is not logical.

More likely, because Mr. Nugent thought it would not need explaining that it’s not good to hurt people.

Maybe your’e right maybe Mr. Nugent thinks thinks that people have the right to not be offended over the right to say what they want. I don’t know I’m not him.

If your argument is that patriarchy is like an invisible man in the sky then you need to present that argument and provide supporting evidence. It’s a popular trope among anti-feminists but they can never quite muster up any evidence. Perhaps you will be the first.

What I said is that maybe Nugent is biased towards his friends like some religious people are toward their god. I cant defend an argument I never made. Also I think women and men are equals and should be treated as such therefore I am by definition a feminist.

Nope, the argument is conference organizers have the right to exclude people for saying offensive things (subjective or objective, it doesn’t matter; I get the impression that you are distorting those words from their normal definition anyway), and for using jewelry to mount a personal attack on a fellow conference attendee who has also raised a lot of money to help other people go to that conference.

Yeah I think we agree that the organizers have the right to do such things we just don’t agree on what certain people want these organizers to do things such as kicking people out for saying “offensive” things or wearing jewelry or a shirt that offends someone. Even if they do raise money for things it doesn’t make them immune to criticism or in your words a “personal” verbal “attack”. I think we’re all big enough adults to understand that sticks and stones saying.

See, that right there was not true, what you said. Thunderfoot lied to you. I guess you’re okay with that?

I’m sorry I just don’t follow you on this one. Your clarification isn’t different enough for me to think its a lie. Not allowing people to say offensive things and excluding people who say offensive things is kinda what I meant in first place.

Criticism is one thing. Pointing to these things as evidence that these people are “poisoning atheism” and oppose free speech and should be excluded from events is just stupid.

I agree that saying poisoning atheism is stupid. These people cant poison atheism anymore than Stalin can poison it because atheism just doesn’t mean that much. It isn’t an philosophy. Watson, Meyers, Dilihunty, Esteleth, and Hensley are just atheists that have done and said some stupid things IMO. They also oppose speech that offends them and like you conflate the ideal of FOS with the right of FOS. TF never says anything about excluding people from conferences(strawman).

Again, what TF is doing should not be called criticism, unless you are using “criticism” to mean something different than what most people understand it to mean.

He is critical of several people in this video. You don’t like his criticism but that doesn’t mean it isn’t criticism.

WoolyBumblebee could easily make another video with the exact same criticism of Hensley, without using the word “twat.” Then there’s be no reason for it to be flagged and she could carry on with her “criticism.” If she can’t mount a “critique” without hurling gendered slurs, then she’s stupid and does not have the right to have anybody, Hensley or Youtube or whoever, give her a platform.

Or she could just say what she wants the way she wants without being censored and I’m glad to hear Youtube hasn’t take the vid down yet. Its also a really bad idea to censor vids on youtube seeing as how they just get mirrored and that means more people see it. Twat is only a gender slur to a small specific group of hypersensitive people who choose to take the word that way. Its use and meaning are subjective.

If you say that someone has used a fallacy, then the onus is on you to identify which fallacy and explain which part of the person’s argument constitutes a fallacy. You have not done that, so, your contention is dismissed.

Attacking her character and who she is involved with is not the same as attacking her arguments. I believe the fallacy is called guilt by association.

Trivially true statement is trivially true. TF has the power to accuse fellow atheists of hating free speech, just because they get tired of dealing with his lies and bullshit. That doesn’t mean he should do it.

So what I’m saying is so obviously true that its trivial? I don’t think that’s something you wanted to admit. If its so obviously true then why are you so accepting of these people censoring people?

That’s what it says to YOU. To other people, it might say other things, such as, “You have been given a chance to prove that you are capable of backing up your arguments with evidence and reason and have shown that you can’t do that. I’m not under any obligation to listen to your blather anymore.”

You are under no obligation to listen things you think are blather. That still doesn’t mean you should censor people. You can always ignore or not care about things you don’t like.

Everyone is biased. But even TF’s self-described friends are now saying that he is impervious to criticism and will not accept that he could possibly be wrong about this. Does that sound like a skeptic doing skepticism? Not to me.

TF can be wrong about things and he can be stubborn but that doesn’t mean his criticisms of these people are not true

The fact that TF is among your favorites says more about you than it does about him. Debunking creationists is so ten years ago. Islamophobia is not cool, and neither is sexism. Apparently you dig these things. But hey, you also said that you think the idea that it’s wrong to hurt people is BS, so.

TF is one of my favorites this is true it doesn’t mean we are Islamophobic or sexist. Its not always wrong to offend people. People take offense to stupid things and it wouldn’t be rational to change my opinion simply based on weather someone gets mad by it.

Your opinion is without evidence and reason and is thus worthless.

Ditto

Censorship is like poison gas: a powerful weapon that can harm you when the wind shifts. (taken from ACLU website)

Thanks again for the response.

164 Ted January 4, 2013 at 10:36 am

What I really want to applaud you for is your anti-ostracision stance. I think we are probably at a point rught now where more people would feel unwelcome at these functions than ever before (myself included) and your determined even-handedness is admirable.
Jim

This is something we can all agree on

165 anon January 4, 2013 at 10:36 am

Thank you for writing this.

166 Ben January 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

*fractionally faster clap*

Good article

167 Matt January 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Wow. Impressed. One of the most balanced reviews of what could have been taken as a completely asinine attempt to eject people he doesn’t like, from a community he wishes he had the same influence over that he used to.

168 Reap January 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Michael I don’t know where you have been for the last few months, or year but I would suggest you are adding fuel to the fire with this post. I am insulted by the things you say here. Making excuses for PZ Myers as if he has been doing nothing wrong. He labeled me as a racist and a sexist. He has referred to me as an asshole, jerk, and called me stupid. Any attempts to engage in a civil conversation were ignored completely. I am just one of many who can all tell the same type of story. PZ has clearly been hypocritical and unfair as a rule. Where is the post about PZ Myers? You talk about resolving issues constructively, who exactly is it you are talking about when you say that? There are so many flaws and inflammatory statements in this post I don’t have time to cover them all. I would like to know when you say -“if somebody like Amy had funded grants for people to attend an Atheist Ireland conference, and if some people were actively trying to make her feel unwelcome at the conference in this way, I would be doing my absolute best to ensure that she did feel welcome.” Does that mean banning any clothing that upset Amy or censoring anyone who could cause her to be upset? Would this policy apply to just Amy or to any sponsor who could be upset by someone else expressing their opinions? Also, when you speak about Amy now allowing people to use pics of her work, that is very kind of her considering she has been illegally using copyrighted work of companies such as NAMCO and others for some time. Any money she has used to fund her charitable work that comes the sale of those works is illegally gained.
You have stirred the pot with this post. Any accusation you made about tfoot not helping the situation now falls flat as you are guilty of the same.

169 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

This bug where I cannot see comments consistently is really getting old.

(Why did I know Valerie Solanas would be brought up?)

So you want me to answer for Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin? Okay. When MRAs answer for Warren “the problem with incest is society telling the child that it is bad” Farrell. And Paul “acquit all rapists, everywhere, to punish the bitches who are lying” Elam.

Seriously.

170 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Oh, and:

you will tell me I’m a misogynist,

Are you?

a sexist,

Again, are you?

who doesn’t care about women,

Do you? When women tell you that something is important, do you listen? Do you care?

women’s safety at conferences,

Do you agree or disagree that person A’s (man or woman) right to feel safe and comfortable is more important than person B’s (man or woman) right to have a good time? Or is person B’s pursuit of hijinks important enough to justify person A feeling unsafe and afraid?

171 PatrickG January 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Quite the detailed response. Thanks for posting it.

172 mmmmmmmmmmsss January 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Sorry to say, but I didn’t need this video to know 99% of feminism is clueless – that’s the nicest thing I can say. In all of it’s iterations, and different “vanguards,” it still is hopelessly lost in its own bias. We know there are differences. Duh! We know women are sometimes ideologically oppressed. Duh! However, when you actually look into the matter and read something like The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrel Ph.D., you realize that at least here in the US women have an amazing amount of privilege that they take for granted. More than most men more often than not.

I appreciate human rights movements in certain countries, but feminism has turned into a joke in this one. The women, and men, at the head of the current iteration don’t want equality. They want cake, to eat it, have cookies, have doughnuts, and to have pastries all while not sharing either.

173 BH January 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Mr Nugent, in the article above, you state I “was posting tweets harassing her” [Melody Hensley]. Which tweets were these? Please elucidate.

Kindly point to ‘harassing’ tweets where I have tagged Melody (using “@MelodyHensley”). There is an important distinction between writing tweets about someone, and sending tweets to someone.

Furthermore, Ms Henlsey had blocked me long before I had ever interacted with her, before I even knew her name, presumably because I made comments critical of Amy Roth. She blocked me before June 2012. (It is her purrogative to do so, off course).

The very first article I wrote about her was in October 2012. In recent weeks, I have been critical of Ms Hensley’s actions. This is not misoginy, it is skepticism. Ms Hensley is a public figure. I do not adjust my criticsm based on gender.

I am concerned about the conflation of criticism with ‘harassment’. Clearly, we disagree on this point. I would be grateful if you could acknowledge the chronological inaccuracies.

174 Deo January 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

A fantastic read and smooth rebuttal, thank you for writing it.

175 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

To Esteleth:

So you want me to answer for Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin?

I’m not an MRA, so yes, please; do.

Oh, and to answer your questions: yes, yes and no. Anymore leading questions?

You have to elaborate on your fourth question. It’s too ambiguous. Are you inferring that Harriet Hall’s t-shirt at TAM was a “pursuit of hijinks” rather than a form of expression? Am I reading that right? Or are you perhaps referring to monopod guy, whose “hijinks” was carrying a camera on a stick? (Who later was accused of taking “upskirt shots”, which was was false [his camera didn’t have any upskirt shots] and his right to feel safe and comfortable trumped others’ right to make him feel uncomfortable.)

176 Ted January 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm

For what it is worth, my comments were rather inarticulate. And yes, it is a paraphrase of JS Mill. I was referring to words that HURT. Hate speech.

And yes, I consider sexist insults that are predicated on the belief that women are lesser than men, or exist only for sex to be “hate speech.” This includes language like “cunt” and the like.

So do you think in the United States people should have the right to speak hate speech? If your’e answer is yes then how do we define what hate speech is? Do we take your’e meaning of the word “Cunt” or my meaning?

177 Ted January 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

The above comment was for Esteleth

Thanks
Ted

178 Garrett January 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Just a quick comment to say that I really liked the following paragraph you wrote:
You have the right within the law to say what you want, but you do not have the right to insist that other people must publish what you want to say, or must give you a platform to say what you want to say. Some rights are absolute, and others are qualified and must be negotiated alongside competing rights.
I think it articulates well the problem where people think that their fundamental rights are also applicable to their everday interactions with other people. It’s something that has taken me a while to fully understand and appreciate.

179 doubtthat January 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Well done, sir.

180 Bronze Dog January 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Well said. Thumbs up for mentioning the importance of platforms. If TF were to show up at my blog, I’d see nothing wrong with banning him from commenting. It’s my blog, and I don’t have to bow down and offer my web space to any troll that comes along. I don’t have to de facto make my blog about a troll just because neither of us want to let the other have the last word. Banning persistent trolls means that I can stop the futile SIWOTI and blog about what I want without a useless distraction waiting in my inbox. If the troll wants to say something, he still has the option to create his own blog, TF still has his YouTube channel, and so on. Their freedom of speech isn’t harmed by the banning because there are other platforms. They aren’t automatically entitled to my platform by shouting “free speech” without understanding what freedom of speech means.

Granted, there’s some principle in letting a troll say his piece and demonstrating that you can rebut it, but if they can’t handle themselves in a civilized manner, or if they’re stuck repeating the same lies and fallacies despite numerous corrections and citations, what’s the point in letting them continue?

181 Matt January 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I’d like to say thanks for approaching this without resorting to abuse, ad hominem attacks, or poisoning the well. You demonstrate why Thunderfoot is wrong by using sources. I hope he acknowledges that he misrepresented Rebecca Watson. If I had to pick sides I would probably stand with Thunderfoot, but I disagree with him on harrassment policy, and his lumping of you and other people who have written articles for Skepchick in the same basket as Melody Hensley and others. He didn’t make any kind of distinguishing statement, he just put up a list and that was that. That was clearly wrong.

As for PZ Myers, his sexual comments to that woman at that conference were wrong no matter how he tries to spin them. He can try to say they were taken out of context and were actually an example of genes or something or other, but I don’t think he would allow his opponents to use the same excuse.

182 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Bronze Dog: You would ban TF simply for showing up at your blog? Regardless of what he would say or how he would say it? I’m not sure if you follow, but that’s one of the gripes TF mentions in his video; the eagerness to ban people and not just banning them for good reason, but banning them out of spite, or for being guilty by association. And you assume that were he to show up on your blog, he automatically would be a troll?

*sigh*

Scepticism still has a long way to go, apparently.

183 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Ted:

So do you think in the United States people should have the right to speak hate speech?

Eh? Hate speech and incitements to violence are long-standing accepted exceptions to the First Amendment. Disagree? Take it up with the Supreme Court.

If your’e [sic] answer is yes then how do we define what hate speech is? Do we take your’e [sic] meaning of the word “Cunt” or my meaning?

Firstly, learn grammar. That was painful.

“Cunt” is one of those words that has multiple overlapping meanings. On a purely literal level, it is a vulgar term for female genitals. It also is a vulgar term used to insult people (generally implying lack of worth, badness, etc). Given both meanings together, I believe that the second meaning cannot be considered in isolation from the first: to be a “cunt” (second meaning) is to be bad and unworthy by virtue of being female and/or because things related to being female are bad. The second meaning of “cunt” is thus predicated on the societal belief that women are lesser.

And, for what it is worth, I object to the use of prick, dick, etc on similar grounds. I don’t believe that using a fucking body part that is unique to half the population as an insult to refer to people is a good thing. The chief difference I see between the “male” slurs and the “female” slurs is that men do not have a long history of being oppressed, and women do. So while I disagree with both sets, I dislike the “female” set more.

Let me ask you a question – do you think racial slurs like the n-word constitute hate speech, when used by white people? When the term’s very meaning is packed full of “people of African descent are lesser/bad/unworthy” messages? If you do see this as hate speech, can you explain to me how “cunt” is much different?

As for a definition of hate speech, try this on for size: Hate speech is speech that vilifies a person, and a group that the person belongs to, on grounds of personal characteristics (e.g. race, sex, sexual orientation).

Pitchguest:
Leading questions? Okay. You challenged me on those grounds. What did you expect me to do? Ignore it?

As for Dworkin, Solanas, et al:
Okay, you aren’t an MRA. Fine (glad to hear it!), so you don’t have to answer for them.

But you are an atheist right (as am I). So, why don’t we put our heads together and give an answer to the anti-atheist religious types for, oh, I dunno, Stalin. And Mao.

“But they aren’t representative of atheism!” you reply. “Why do these religious types always ask us to answer for them?”

Well, no. They aren’t. So we don’t have to answer for them. We disagree with them, with what they said, and with what they did.

Do you understand the parallel I’m drawing, or do you need me to spell it out?

As for “hijinks,” let me ask about something that Tf00t brought up himself, his “leg chewing” analogy. Tf00t wants to chew on some woman’s leg. Okay. Not my cup of tea, personally, but whatever. So, a sample scenario, where Tf00t sees a woman whose leg he wants to chew. He decides to approach her. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this leg-chewing is not going to cause physical injury. Four possible outcomes:
(1) Tf00t approaches her, and asks her if she wants her leg to be chewed. She likes having her leg chewed. He chews her leg.
(2) Tf00t approaches her, grabs her leg, and starts chewing. She does not like having her leg chewed, and is grossed out and alarmed. She is upset.
(3) Tf00t approaches her, and asks if she wants her leg to be chewed. She is not into that, and declines. He either (a) backs off, or (b) does not (go to outcome (2), listed above).
(4) Tf00t approaches her, grabs her leg, and starts chewing. She likes this.

Now.
(1) is a fine outcome. Everyone is happy, no harm, no foul.
(2) is a bad outcome. He doesn’t ask what she wants and she, having her autonomy overruled, is upset and hurt. But, he gets what he wanted (i.e. a leg to chew).
(3)(a) is a decent outcome. She is happy (having her autonomy respected, not getting hurt). He is let down (not getting a leg to chew), but has not hurt anyone. (3)(b) is indistinguishable from (2).
(4) is a decent outcome. Everyone is happy. But, (4) could easily have become (2).. And until he starts chewing, he doesn’t himself know.

From Tf00t’s perspective, there are two possible outcomes: he chews on a leg (good) or he doesn’t (bad). From her perspective, there are three possible outcomes: she gets her leg chewed and welcomes it (good), she gets her leg chewed against her will (bad), or she doesn’t get her leg chewed (depends on her views of leg-chewing). Tf00t asking her first and then acting accordingly doesn’t hurt him, save that he doesn’t get something that he wanted – but he can survive and be fine without chewing any legs. But, if he doesn’t ask, there is a very real risk of her being hurt and upset. If we assume – and this is an assumption – that the outcomes are equal in probability, Tf00t has a 50% chance of something good happening to him – but she has a 33.3% chance of something good happening to her. And hell, what if she would have happily said yes, but, having been denied the opportunity to, she is upset on those grounds?

This all winds up here: I don’t – and I think my opinion is shared by the people on this side of the issue – have a problem with flirting, or sexually-charged language, or leg-chewing in and of themselves. I have a problem with lack of consent.

184 doubtthat January 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Oh no, are we really having a “WHY IS THERE NO WHITE ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION” argument?

History, folks. Just like the N-word has more power than various white-directed slurs – oh no, did you call me a *gasp* cracker? – gendered insults specific to females pack a more substantial punch than those aimed at men. Why? Because of fucking history, assholes.

If there were a society dominated by women with many thousands of years of oppression, violent terror campaigns, and more subtle forms of stifling men, then calling someone a “dick” might be equivalent to calling someone a “cunt.”

Unfortunately for the glib guy-dude-bros on this thread, things didn’t happen that way.

185 cire k January 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

hmm

186 delete January 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

delete

187 cire k January 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm

nigger was used against blacks long ago. for women, cunt was not.

188 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 7:09 pm

nigger was used against blacks long ago. for women, cunt was not.

Citation needed.

189 doubtthat January 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Posting to read comments.

190 Ant January 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Bravissimo!

/@

191 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm

To Esteleth:

Leading questions? Okay. You challenged me on those grounds. What did you expect me to do? Ignore it?

Yes. That was exactly the point. Because the obvious answers to any of them would be either, of course yes, or of course not. Misogynist? No. Sexist? No. Treat women badly at conferences? I’ve never attended an atheist conference, but again, no. It’s pointless meandering of the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” variety.

As for Dworkin, Solanas, et al:
Okay, you aren’t an MRA. Fine (glad to hear it!), so you don’t have to answer for them.

I’m not an MRA, but I have nothing against MRA’s. As with feminists, MRA’s are not a monolithic structure and its loons shouldn’t taint the entirety of the movement. Valerie Solanas wasn’t a feminist; she was insane. She wrote the SCUM Manifesto, said horrible things about men, shot (and crippled) Andy Warhol for a mere business disagreement. I have no sympathy for her. Likewise I don’t have any sympathy for the others, Andrea Dworkin who despised porn and sex workers, and Robin Morgan who self-proclaimed herself as a misandrist. They were, by rights, radical, so it boggles the mind that you would choose to call yourself a radical feminist and thereby indirectly aligning yourself with these people. Is there something bad about being a radical feminist? Yes, yes there is.

But you are an atheist right (as am I). So, why don’t we put our heads together and give an answer to the anti-atheist religious types for, oh, I dunno, Stalin. And Mao.

“But they aren’t representative of atheism!” you reply. “Why do these religious types always ask us to answer for them?”

Well, no. They aren’t. So we don’t have to answer for them. We disagree with them, with what they said, and with what they did.

Do you understand the parallel I’m drawing, or do you need me to spell it out?

If I read you correctly, you’re saying you disagree with what Solanas, Dworkin, and Morgan said and did? Yes? Why on earth, then, would you choose to call yourself a radical feminist?

No, I get what you’re saying so hear me out. Stalin was an atheist, unquestionably – and he didn’t do the things he did in the name of atheism. You know that, I know that, good. But Valerie Solanas definitely did what she did, and said, in the name of feminism, or radical feminism. It strikes me as odd to choose that particular nomenclature when it has nothing but negative implications. She was, along with the others, the extremist of the bunch and we don’t call them “extremists” for naught.

As for the “leg chewing” business, what TF was talking about was if he did it to a friend of acquintance – or someone he’d become acquianted with. Not randomly going up to a woman and chewing her leg. That would be ridiculous and as such a strawman of his position. So, no, that wouldn’t count as “hijinks.” His problem with “lack of consent” was that the issue had escalated to such an extent that he wondered whether he would have to write a consent form, signed in triplicates, to playfully chew on a woman’s leg he was friends or acquainted with. In a bar. Outside of the conference area.

But you didn’t answer my question. Did Harriet Hall’s t-shirt, as well as the fake jewellery worn by some attendees, count as “hjinks” rather than a form of expression? Would the false accusations to monopod guy about him taking “upskirt shots” count as such?

192 Ted January 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Eh? Hate speech and incitements to violence are long-standing accepted exceptions to the First Amendment. Disagree? Take it up with the Supreme Court.

Can you source that statement because I think you are 100% wrong on the hate speech part. I just checked Wikipedia and it agrees with me so maybe you have another source?

And, for what it is worth, I object to the use of prick, dick, etc on similar grounds. I don’t believe that using a fucking body part that is unique to half the population as an insult to refer to people is a good thing. The chief difference I see between the “male” slurs and the “female” slurs is that men do not have a long history of being oppressed, and women do. So while I disagree with both sets, I dislike the “female” set more.

I just think they are curse words like fucker or asshole. You are welcome to your opinion but I hope you would want me to have the same right. You see the word is subjective and it would be hard to call it hate speech because we would have to have a consensus.

Let me ask you a question – do you think racial slurs like the n-word constitute hate speech,

Yes and no I don’t find nigga offensive but i do find nigger to be mostly offensive.

when used by white people?

Yes and anybody else who is racist. I don’t think Mexicans should be calling people niggers either for example. There are also self-racist black people who use the term and I don’t agree with that.

When the term’s very meaning is packed full of “people of African descent are lesser/bad/unworthy” messages?

IMO its much worse than that seeing as how the word has a history that stems from hundreds of years where black people were enslaved in this very country. People back then didn’t use it as an insult because they literally didn’t think black people were people and they just used that word as common practice. That to me is where the word gets its hateful nature and not using it or evolving it into the word nigga is the way that I think we can grow and turn the page from that horrible time.

If you do see this as hate speech, can you explain to me how “cunt” is much different?

Cunt is something I use already as an insult to anybody. Cunt is not a word that stems from hundreds of years of women’s oppression. Cunt was not a commonplace word that people used to describe women. Nobody ever said “gentleman over here and cunts over there” because that would be rude to say in commonplace. Apparently you think dick is a gender slur too but I don’t get that either it doesn’t come from a history where we called men dicks as commonplace. It doesn’t have a history of oppression either. I think the history of the word nigger give the word a much worse connotation than the word cunt and that is why they are significantly different.

Also I still think both words should be protected as free speech in public or private forums

Thank you very much for the response

193 Andy January 4, 2013 at 8:48 pm

What a poor defence. I’m not surprised that idiot Myers agrees with you.
thunderfoot accurately characterises the poor little whining feminists that pollute this part of the net. They are pathetic and so it would appear are you.

194 Christian S. January 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Well said. If one finds themselves rabidly opposed to what they think of as a kind of Politically Correct cult, it may be time to examine one’s opinions.

195 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Pitchguest, you seem to be laboring under a misapprehension of what is meant – by radical feminists – of the term “radical feminism.” If I were to offer an explanation, would you consider rethinking your antipathy of it? I am not asking you to embrace radfem, or declare yourself one, or anything like that, but to consider that “radfem” is one of those terms that has two quite distinct meanings?

FWIW, I believe that the correct definition – i.e. the definition radfems offer – would help you understand how it is that I can disagree – even firmly – with some radfems and still consider myself one.

(Also, I will point out: The SCUM Manifesto was satire. And I have yet to meet anyone – radfem or not – who read it, took it seriously, and said, “yes! this is what we need to do!”)

196 Epicurus January 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Bravo, for a well-thought out, logical response to the ravings of a disturbed mind. I believe you have eviscerated any and all “arguments” TF thinks (and I am being kind here) he is making. Now, can we all just ignore this little prat? He’s really becoming quite tiresome, and I for one, will be happy to ignore his existence from now on. He’s wrong, you’re right, there it should end. But it won’t….

197 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Ted:

IMO its much worse than that seeing as how the word has a history that stems from hundreds of years where black people were enslaved in this very country. People back then didn’t use it as an insult because they literally didn’t think black people were people and they just used that word as common practice.

Absolutely correct.

When you say that “cunt” does not have the same history, I disagree with you, because (1) that “cunt” was regarded as too vulgar for polite company does not negate its sexist history and meaning, and (2) women DO have a history of being oppressed. Until relatively recently, in the US, it was legal for a man to rape his wife (because she belonged to him, and he had an absolute right to her body), for example. Given the cultural baggage that DID say “woman < man," I find the supposition that using a term that – by its literal meaning – is a reference to female genitalia as an insult is not reflective of the status of women. Why is “cunt” not sexist, if calling a man a “cunt” (implication: female) is insulting? The only way “cunt” works as an insult is if “cunt” is bad, and since cunts are things that women have (and, in many people’s eyes, the sine qua non of womanhood), how is this not sexist?

198 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Luckily feminism has been a fantastically successful political, social and academic movement that has made positive change in the lives of women throughout the world. One inspiring example is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman who have drastically improved the lives of chronically abused and neglected women in their countries.

So all this petty arguing over the value of feminism in secularism is a joke. Feminism is a huge part of humanism and skepticism, much to the whining chagrin of its critics. (The irony of how these anti-feminists love to charge feminists with being ‘whining victims’ when they themselves sound like children having tantrums is a little too pathetic to be amusing.)

199 Passing Stranger January 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Well said.

200 SallyStrange January 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Quoted comment by MJA from Ophelia Benson’s post on this:

“I spent a year as vice-president of an SSA-affiliated secular student group.

My university accurately reflected the demogaphic makeup of the community in which it was located; that is to say, 55% female, 50% POC. Despite this, the club’s meetings were only attracting white dudes. We would occasionally attract a woman or POC for a single meeting, but they almost inevitably left at the break. The leadership did not see a problem.

We met in the windowless basement of a classroom building. No security. Late at night. On a campus with a serious rape problem. Far away from the bus stops. The leadership did not see a problem.

At best, our meetings consisted of white dudes arguing with other white dudes about white-dude issues. At worst, they descended into screaming matches along similar lines. The leadership did not see a problem.

Our topics included feminism (without a woman in the room), rape (without a woman in the room), racism (without a POC in the room), colonialism (without a POC in the room), aboriginality (without an aboriginal in the room), queerness (*with* a gay man in the room, who was then pressured to respond to every single comment and remark, and–despite being a regular up until this point–did not attend any subsequent meetings), prostitution (without a woman in the room)… you get the picture. The leadership did not see a problem.

And the club was in dire straits. We were getting maybe 4-5 people a week. The club had nearly 100 on-paper members, but hardly anyone would turn up.

At the end of the year, a bunch of us decided this was pretty fucked up. So we fixed it.

We ran for the leadership slots and won by default. Nobody else wanted the job. Wonderful. And we rebuilt it from the ground up.

We moved meetings to a more central and earlier timeslot. This alone brought in 4-5 new people, all of them women.

We stopped the practice of “rant meetings”. Rather than sitting and passively listening to one person shout at another person, we had 2-3 facilitated discussions at any given time, with full freedom to jump from table to table. This made people more comfortable at meetings, more likely to attend meetings (2-3 topics to choose from, rather than hearing what the White Dudes think about a singular specific topic), and made it substantially easier for people to form social bonds: the quieter people usually gathered at one table, the louder people at another, so you were more likely to encounter people you enjoyed speaking with, which makes it easier to find friends, etc.

We started holding outside events for the first time in years. Speeches, film screenings, protests, food drives, charity collections, involvement with the campus rape hotline, anything we could get involved with. Now, instead of being a club who met by moonlight in the basement of a scary-looking building, you could chat with us on the way to class, join us for a pub crawl, or just hang out after a public speech. Big difference.

We started actively encouraging individual members to take small (or big!) leadership roles. We introduced new positions on the board (one Member for Equity and two Members-at-Large, the latter intended to create opportunities for new members to quickly involve themselves in the organization), we planted seeds and encouraged members to lead discussions (rather than depending on the club leadership to pick and run all the topics), and we actively sought out ways to integrate the work of other clubs (the Black Students Association, the Feminist Action Caucus, etc.) into our meetings and activities, which made people more comfortable and created opportunities to collaborate on even bigger projects.

By December, we had completely turned the club around. Our meetings were attracting 30-40 people (some of our public events drew several hundred). It’s true that we had scared off some of the neckbeardy MRA types, but we had attracted more than enough women and POC (and–yes–white dudes) to make up for it.

And I cannot overstate how trivially, ridiculously easy it was to run things properly: to run the organization in such a way that women and POC (and queerfolk, and people with disabilities, etc.) were included, felt welcome, had worthwhile representation, felt like valued members of the community, and all that other yummy stuff. While this may have required marginally more effort than plowing through with a room full of GRR GRR ANGRY WHITE MEN GRR, that effort paid off with dozens of new volunteers and helpers and discussion-leaders and cookie-bakers and other friendlies.

Listening to regressive MRAs would have probably killed the club. Opening it up, running in the opposite direction, and calling jerks like Proudfoot out for their jerky opinions is what saved it and made it into one of the biggest, most powerful organizations on campus.

Yes, we ostracized people with who we disagreed. Which is a fancy way of saying “we refused the sexist, racist, homophobic and dumbfuck things the club’s previous ‘owners’ were saying” And it’s a damn good thing we did.

Yes, we appeased the PC Whiners. And they paid us back by joining us in droves and letting us accomplish things we never could have with a fedora-wearing coterie of angry white dudes.

Yes, we sold out to feminism, anti-racism, and even had real live women/POC/aboriginals/people with disabilities/sex workers at discussions on these topics. And the conversations were infinitely better and more productive for it.

The lesson, then?

Anyone who tells you the solution is to listen more to the tiny, self-important white men and ignore the rest of the world doesn’t actually want to help you.

They want to protect their fiefdom. They want to be the biggest fish in the pond, even if it’s more of a muck-stained puddle. They aren’t actually thinking about the movement, or its projects, or its goals, except insofar as these goals are obvious and apparent to themselves.

And above all else, those empowered white men are *not* the people your group needs to be serving, assisting, supporting or coddling. These people are *not* the victims, they are *not* being left behind, and they should *not* be allowed to dominate the group.”

201 SallyStrange January 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm

P.S. This made me laugh:

We’re just tired of being sidelined after 50 years of feminists monopolizing the gender discourse.

Not controlling the “gender discourse” for 50 years out of 5,000 is being “sidelined.” Got it. And people accuse feminists of whining.

202 SallyStrange January 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm

when you actually look into the matter and read something like The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrel Ph.D.,

The guy who thinks fathers raping daughters is copacetic.

203 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Not just copacetic, Sally, but thinks that the problem with it is that society has filled girls’ minds with nonsense about how being raped by their fathers is bad.

204 SallyStrange January 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Bronze Dog: You would ban TF simply for showing up at your blog? Regardless of what he would say or how he would say it? I’m not sure if you follow, but that’s one of the gripes TF mentions in his video; the eagerness to ban people and not just banning them for good reason, but banning them out of spite, or for being guilty by association. And you assume that were he to show up on your blog, he automatically would be a troll?

Free speech does not include the right to force people to listen to you when they don’t want to.

Sounds like you and TF think that forcing people to listen to you when they don’t want to is an essential part of “free speech.”

To me, that says that you are aware, on some level, that your ideas simply can’t compete in a free exchange of ideas. If people are voluntarily declining to allow you a platform, that means your ideas don’t speak to them. Get better ideas if you want a platform.

205 Esteleth January 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I used to think that a lot of the free speech absolutists aren’t aware that in a “nothing is off-limits” situation, the conversation is inevitably dominated by those who have societal power, and the voices of the marginalized are not heard.

But then, I realized that this is frequently not the case – they do know this. They know this very well.

And that is why they are free speech absolutists.

206 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

My apologies for the length.

@Sally Strange 152

Not a big fan of those myself, and trying to use them less. But note that prick and dick have connotations of arrogance and domineering. Not so for twat and pussy.

Seems you’ve created yourself a double standard, where two genital based insults are given different weight, simply because you’ve chosen project onto men a rather malevolent disdain of women. You’ve chosen to accept the rather sexist assumption that men see women as inferior, and therefor, any reference to them is deemed a negative, yet using references to men for the very same purpose, with the exact same result, is deemed less bad (so much so, you yourself are willing to make use of these), for no other reason than the malevolence YOU (and feminism in general. I find this to be a common occurrence among feminist) injected into the definition.

Do you not see how your eagerness to accept that men are so hateful of women makes you the sexist?

There is sexism in the community. I haven’t yet found a community that doesn’t have some sexism.

Yes, and it goes both ways. Or does the assumptions of men’s need to oppress women (a common theme in feminist theory) not count as sexism to you? Because having such a hateful assumption levied at me for no other reason than my gender seems pretty damn sexist to me.

But, of course, that is besides the point. You ignored the point, which was that you are projecting sexism onto others in order to reinforce your worldview. IE, your worldview isn’t based on the real world, but on an caricature you’ve manufactured.

All kinds of things are possible. Cf. Russell’s teapot.

Rather dismissive, given you are expecting others to accept the possibility to which you claim. I find it odd that you would question my skepticism, yet when offered another possibility, one that doesn’t fit your worldview, you dismiss it out of hand.

It’s an objective fact that “twat” refers to female genitalia and is used as an insult.

But that isn’t the extent of your original definition, is it? You’ve left out the assertion that it is deemed an insult because women are seen as inferior. THAT is where the subjectivity comes from, and is the point I’ve been challenging this whole time. And to pretend that was never part of the definition is rather dishonest.

Dear naive person, yes.

That’s one.

That is how insults function. By devaluing an individual by comparing him or her to things of low value.

I did acknowledge that was how an insult works, though the assumption of comparing it to things of low value is incorrect. “You’re a tool” is an insult, and tools do not automatically equate to low value. Calling someone “your highness”, “princess” or “admiral” can be a way of mocking/insulting someone, and those positions are not of low value. Low value is a common theme, but is not a requirement. And the fact both male and female genitalia are used as insults would suggest it is genitalia that are viewed poorly (and given how traditional religious people view sex, it’s not surprising), and not the sex those genitals are attached to. Your insistence on attributing a malicious intent onto the use of female genitals as an insult, whereas male genitals as an insult does not contain that same intent, reeks of dogmatism to me.

What reason is there for calling someone a twat?

Irrelevant. I’m not arguing WBB video was a good one, or an effective criticism, I’m simply saying it is not equivalent to a flagging campaign. Perhaps you could get around to addressing that point, rather than trying to justify an outrage at WBB video.

Youtube is a forum where such language is not permitted.

Actually, it is allowed.Her video didn’t get removed, so no violation occurred. Just because you deem the word to be hate speech because of the malicious intent you’ve chosen to inject into it, doesn’t mean the rest of the world accepts your interpretation.

I swear and insult people in forums where that’s okay. When it’s not, I don’t. I don’t find it a challenge. I have no respect for anyone who does.

This one confuses me. It seems you’re saying you don’t find insulting people a challenge, so you do it where it is acceptable and don’t where it’s not? And yet you have no respect for anyone who does… what, insult people or use insults where they are deemed acceptable? Is this thread somewhere where insults are deemed acceptable? Given the neutrality the author attempts to present, I would question whether it was. And would point out you insult me several times in this post, calling me naive twice as well as questioning if I’m dim witted.

and I haven’t watched the video in question.

Yet you feel compelled to make judgements and arguments, about the video, about the reaction to it, and about the person making it. You don’t see that as a problem? Well, PZ doesn’t see it as a problem ether, given his claim to to have watched TF’s video in his reply “to the comments”.

I will point out that, “If you can’t make an argument without resorting to gendered slurs, your opinion isn’t worthy of attention” is an opinion that is worth expressing.

Why restrict it to gender slurs? Why not any insult?

I object to gendered slurs because there is strong evidence suggesting that such evidence helps maintain a culture in which violence against women is epidemic.

As I said in post 154 (you haven’t replied to it yet, so this isn’t an accusation, just an acknowledgement of redundancy)

“Now that is a claim that requires evidence. Actually, there are a number of claims there that need evidence. The ideas that rape is epidemic (I’m talking actual rape. Not the kind of rape that includes catcalling, like RAINN uses), that Domestic violence is epidemic, and finally that the use of language has a causal relation to those claims. And given the recent CDC 12 month figures seems to support the idea of near parity between men and women with regards to Domestic abuse and rape, I need to wonder then what the cause is for men.”

You keep conflating “hurt” and “offended.” They are different things.

They are only different to you because of the assumptions you’ve chosen to inject into the words in question. Esteleth clarified that she is speaking of “words that hurt. hate speech”. She also uses the double standard that referring to someone by female genitalia is due to men/society seeing women being deemed as lessor, but referring to someone as male genitalia, even though still an insult she doesn’t like, doesn’t include that same connotation, somehow. However, she doesn’t appear to be attempting to equate words to creating physical harm, from what I can see. She appears to be talking about hurt feelings. IE, taking offense. PS, Offend is a synonym for the verb “hurt”.

If you are too dim-witted to process the distinction…

That’s two.

The distinction between calling for exclusion and this:

Is what, exactly?

I would say the difference is that exclusion calls for people to be excluded, whereas calling for leaders not to pander to a group of “PC whiners” is not excluding those “PC whiners”, just setting boundaries.

You must think we’re all as naive as you.

That’s three.

Next, if they are demonstrating an opposition to free speech and/or open dialog, why then is pointing this out considered stupid instead of criticism?

Because it is demonstrably incorrect.

With no room for discussion. Just they are wrong, end of discussion.

Saying, “I don’t want to listen to your bullshit anymore” is demonstrably different from, “Let’s pass a law/make some rules to make sure nobody listens to your bullshit anymore, even if they want to.”

And yet, feminists are doing both. Is the later not the point of Amy’s call to ban T-shirts, fake jewelry and offensive words?

Why do you get to define what is and isn’t criticism?

I don’t. I look to what the word is generally meant to mean when most people use it. I look it up in the dictionary. What TF is doing is not criticism.

Odd, you say you don’t get to define what is criticism, then you follow up by judging whether TF’s video was, in fact, criticism. I didn’t say you get to define what the definition of criticism is, I asked why you get to define what is deemed criticism or not. After all, here is the definition:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/criticism

crit·i·cism (krt-szm)
n.
1. The act of criticizing, especially adversely.
2. A critical comment or judgment.
3.
a. The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works.
b. A critical article or essay; a critique.
c. The investigation of the origin and history of literary documents; textual criticism.

and

crit·i·cize (krt-sz)
v. crit·i·cized, crit·i·ciz·ing, crit·i·ciz·es
v.tr.
1. To find fault with: criticized the decision as unrealistic. See Usage Note at critique.
2. To judge the merits and faults of; analyze and evaluate.

I’m uncertain how TF’s video doesn’t fall into that. Whether it was well done or not may be up for debate, but that it was critical of feminism’s incursion into the atheist movement shouldn’t be in doubt.

Poisoning. Interesting word.

I don’t see why. It is the word TF choose to use after all.

So, people who come to a convention having put a shit-ton of effort into personally attacking another convention-goer by mocking her art–that’s healthy.

If you stand by that assumption of Harriet Hall’s motives, then I can see that as being unhealthy. Of course, the assumption made on Hall’s motives is questionable, given the t-shirts said nothing of Amy, and was challenging assertions made about men and women in the community of which she was a part. Why is it women are expected to be listened to until they have something to say that feminists don’t like? A lot of people don’t like, nor agree with, the accusations being made about the community, many of whom are women. Yet we’re expected to ignore those women in favor of the brand of feminism currently led by PZ Mayers (a man), and accept all the hateful assumptions made about us?

And again, I need to point to the injection of a malevolent motive, a common theme in feminism. Can feminists make an argument that doesn’t require the assumptions of motive projected onto other people?

Getting upset about this and saying that this probably ought not to be tolerated by convention organizers if they want to maintain a convivial atmosphere is “poisoning.”

If the offence taken requires an assumption of the offending parties motive, and is still such a trivial offense to the average person that most 4 year old’s could handle it, I’d say yes, it is.

People who take the privilege of crapping their toxic sexist opinions all over someone’s personal FB page–that’s healthy.

Should I point out your use of toxic as “interesting word”, given you own objection to the use of “poisoning”?

But banning those people is “poisoning.”

No, The reasoning for it is, however. The increasing tendency to project a motive onto others, then use that projected motive to justify taking action against them (as you’ve demonstrated with Harriet Hall) IS an erosion of skepticism.

Doesn’t matter, anyway. Twat is a gendered slur, using it in a video as part of a “critique” is a pretty reliable indication that the video represents harassment, not legitimate criticism.

And again, we have you defining what is deemed criticism or not, as well as a presumption of the motives of the creator.

ha·rass (h-rs, hrs)
tr.v. ha·rassed, ha·rass·ing, ha·rass·es
1. To irritate or torment persistently.
2. To wear out; exhaust.
3. To impede and exhaust (an enemy) by repeated attacks or raids.

Harassment has a degree of persistence, of happening more than once. So no, what WBB did was not harassment, as it was literally the first video in which she (to my knowledge) acknowledges Melody’s existence. Language being what it is and all.

If I ever call someone a misogynist, I have solid reasons for doing so and can explain them at a moment’s notice.

Yes, because you are the one and only feminist to use the word misogyny. But as we’ll see in my next post, it isn’t so hard to find justification after all.

Being called a misogynist is, I am happy to inform you, not the end of the fucking world.

That’s true. It’s been so overused and misused as to have lost all real meaning. It’s become a mockery of it’s former meaning.

And there is certainly no evidential link, whether causative or correlative, between labeling people misogynists and an epidemic of gendered violence in our society.

I’ll await your evidence that there is a causal link between twat and violence too… But given the intention of the word misogyny is to identify someone as hating women, and thus it becomes justifiable to hate them back (given societies protective nature towards women, regardless of the motive you choose to assign to society’s doing so), even so far as using violence against them…I will presume misogyny very much will fit into whatever evidence you can provide.

They’re actively seeking her out, sending her emails and tweets and FB messages.

Seems to me TF did none of this. He posted a video to his youtube channel and Michael here responded on his blog. The bulk of RW’s wall of threats are comments made on other peoples blogs about her (not to her). “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” speaks nothing to anyone, but opposes an idea that many of you wish to push.

For TF, mainly that he opposes taking any action to make women more comfortable at conferences

If TF does indeed oppose “ANY” action to make “PEOPLE (why only women) feel more comfortable, then I disagree with him on that. Whether it’s sexist or not would depend on his motives, which you’ve clearly determined already (be it due to him stating it or simply it being projected onto him, I’m uncertain). But when it comes to creating policy, I agree that there is a limit. Rules and policies that are too easily abused by the very people who demanded them, and are capable of manufacturing how they are the biggest victim, are problematic and should be avoided. “That person’s t-shirt heralding the conference is attacking me” deserves to be ignored, at best.

Skipping the next section. I believe it is important enough to have a post all it’s own.

Words can hurt women’s participation at atheist/skeptic conferences, for example, the words, “Hey baby, how about it?” repeated enough times at enough different women, will entice women to avoid the person who says those words.

Words like “this conference is dangerous and hates women (misogynistic)” can hurt women’s participation at atheist/skeptic conferences too, especially if it isn’t true (and I’ve yet to see evidence that it is), and to a lot more women at a time. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem for some people, so long as they can use it to demand things.

Can you point me to any GENUINE calls for censorship,

Melody’s call for WBB’s video to be flagged is an example of censorship (not the same thing as free speech). As was Amy’s call to ban fake jewelry (and offensive language). And just for the record, the reason we are able to have this round of free speech is because Michael has chosen not to ban ether of us. If that was not the case, this exchange wouldn’t exist (I know, stating the obvious as much as you were). But Melody’s flagging campaign was an example of “take your bullshit elsewhere” not being good enough for Melody.

And yet you and TF persist in claiming that this wish to avoid hearing jerks spout assholery amounts to a serious threat to freedom of thought and speech.

Except it’s not limited to asshatery. I was “lost in moderation” on Benson’s blog after only two posts, nether of which were offensive (unlike the responses I received). Is this a violation of free speech? No. Is this an affront to it? debatable. Does it kill any chance of an honest discussion… Most certainly. After all, we’re not talking about banning trolls, we’re talking about banning people who have the wrong idea (as Matt D’s Facebook post threatened to do), or because something said was less than kind (such as calling someone naive and dim-witted).

207 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 11:19 pm
Or is it simply the opposition to feminism? Does being against feminism automatically make you sexist?

Yes.

Does feminism have some monopoly on egalitarian thought?

Definitely not. Feminism has many flaws, but one way to accurately identify a misogynist is that they hate feminism for fictional, rather than real reasons.

This seems rather important, so I took it out on it’s own. It is a convenient little loop to defend feminists and allow them to dismiss anyone who challenges them. As noted, anyone who opposes feminism is sexist. No ifs and or buts about it. No room for discussion. And this applies not just to the misogynists that hate feminism for fictional reason, but even those with “real reasons” to hate it. When you’ve created such a loop whereas you can dismiss anyone who disagrees with you as sexist, it really does stifle honest debate.

Of course, feminism doesn’t have a monopoly on egalitarian thought, but you can’t be egalitarian if you have problems with feminism, even “real”ones, because you are then defined as sexist. Seems to me that feminism very much does claim a monopoly on egalitarian thought. Even if my reason for disliking feminism is that I don’t believe for a second that feminism on large is for equality (because I see too much feminist opposition to equality for men, too much female chauvinism, as well as the tendency to presume the motives of others, always with a malevolent intent), I’m sexist, which, by definition, precludes me from being egalitarian.

That’s a handy piece of logic you got there.

208 Mark Neil January 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm
We’re just tired of being sidelined after 50 years of feminists monopolizing the gender discourse.

Not controlling the “gender discourse” for 50 years out of 5,000 is being “sidelined.” Got it. And people accuse feminists of whining.

I wasn’t aware there was a gender discourse 5000 years ago. But I suppose this is an example of the kind of “equality” you’re seeking? Men dominated for 5000, so now men deserve to be sidelined (for how long? the next 5000 years? or can we shorten our time out with good behavior? Do men get to rule for the 5000 years following that?)? You’d think someone who advocates equality would want both genders to have an equal say… unless the equality in question is to balance the scales over time rather than via rights.

So, go ahead. Laugh. Show us your brand of equality. Show us why people should support feminism.

209 Ted January 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I disagree with you

Exactly its subjective because the word is used differently and taken by people differently and you are welcome to do that. Just understand that other people disagree with you. The fact is women were oppressed and still are. But the word cunt was not used as a regular word by people for hundreds of years. This is the significant difference for me. The word is more recent and hasn’t reached the mass consensus of offensiveness that the word nigger has.

The word Dick is an insult that I use but I don’t think penises are bad things I use the word Cunt too but that means nothing to how I feel about women and their body parts. I use the word asshole but I still can understand that the anus is an important part of the human body. If you want to be offended feel free but know that I’m not going to agree with you or care that you are offended.

Eh? Hate speech and incitements to violence are long-standing accepted exceptions to the First Amendment. Disagree? Take it up with the Supreme Court.

Can we at least that you were wrong about hate speech being illegal in the US?

210 Joe Harte January 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I dunno why I came back to this, but since I did I have to point out that you people are in serious danger of disappearing up your own arses.

“‘Nigger’ is a terrible word, but ‘nigga’ is empowering” ? It’s the same word, spelled differently!

“The word ‘radical’ doesn’t mean what what you think – look at MY definition” ? The word means what it means.

The ‘fanny’ issue should be addressed. Maybe it needs to be pointed out to the US contingent that ‘fanny’ on this side of the atlantic refers to the vagina (or cunt, for the anglo-saxon scholars).

Paraphrasing many comments on all sides – “Your argument is intellectually deficient and personally insulting to me, which is not an acceptable way to behave, you fucking idiot.”

If this is the general level of discourse on all athiest fora, I’m tempted to pick a random god and ask her to take me in.

211 Sally Strange January 5, 2013 at 12:08 am

Yes, Joe. It is annoying.

A: “These words are hurtful. [Points to evidence] Please, if you want to make a point, use different ones.”

B: “You can’t MAKE me! I can say whatever words I want to! FREEZE PEACH!”

A: “I didn’t say I could make you. I asked you to not be hurtful.”

B: “Well you must HATE FREEZE PEACH THEN! Nuts to you!”

A: “…”

212 Pitchguest January 5, 2013 at 12:09 am

To Sally Strange: Don’t take this the wrong way, but piss on that. What is with you and your obsession with white and male privilege? Was I born “privileged” simply because I was born white and male, two things I can do nothing about and in a way forced on me? Is it kind of like the caste system in India?

I don’t care what Ophelia Benson says about white and male privilege, and I certainly don’t care what you think, and on the bigger picture, it’s irrelevant. What I care about are qualifications. This scene from Glengarry Glen Ross describes this mentality perfectly;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AXTx4PcKI

I don’t care who you are, what race, gender or ethnicity you are, if you want to work here: close! If you have time and energy to complain about your constant victimhood on the internet, then you have time and energy to spend on doing more important things; things that matter. If you want special treatment, fuck you. If you want attention because you’re a woman, hit the bricks. If you want people to give you respect: close!

213 doubtthat January 5, 2013 at 12:10 am

Interesting how, “‘cunt’ is a more devastating slur than ‘dick'” somehow turned into, “Which is worse, ‘nigger’ or ‘cunt?'”

The point remains: there really are no slurs aimed at white dudes that have any potency. Why? History, motherfuckers, do you speak it?

214 Sally Strange January 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

Evidence:

The Enjoyment of Sexist Humor, Rape Attitudes, and Relationship Aggression in College Students [http://www.springerlink.com/content/g451601664828vh1/?MUD=MP] (Subscription only, unfortunately)

More Than “Just a Joke”: The Prejudice-Releasing Function of Sexist Humor [http://psp.sagepub.com/content/34/2/159.short] (Also by subscription)

Effects of exposure to sexist humor on perceptions of normative tolerance of sexism [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.56/abstract] (free)

I’m sure we can get copies to email to anyone who wants to read the whole article.

Does anybody really think that language is unrelated to ideas, which are unrelated to real world actions?

215 Pitchguest January 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

To Joe Harte: I wholeheartedly agree.

To Sally Strange: Grow. a thicker. skin. Seriously. I beg of you.

216 doubtthat January 5, 2013 at 12:16 am

“Was I born “privileged” simply because I was born white and male, two things I can do nothing about and in a way forced on me?”

Yes. Obviously you can’t control your birth, so you’re not “bad” for being privileged, yet it is ridiculous to pretend like it isn’t an inherent advantage in most Western societies.

“I don’t care what Ophelia Benson says about white and male privilege, and I certainly don’t care what you think, and on the bigger picture, it’s irrelevant. What I care about are qualifications.”

Of course you don’t, you’re the one with the privilege.

217 Sally Strange January 5, 2013 at 12:17 am

To Sally Strange: Don’t take this the wrong way,

Funny, that’s what Rebecca Watson reports Elevator Dude prefacing his come-on with. Pray tell, what would the “wrong way” be?

but piss on that.

Piss on what again?

What is with you and your obsession with white and male privilege?

Evidence for my alleged obsession please.

Was I born “privileged” simply because I was born white and male,

Yes.

two things I can do nothing about and in a way forced on me? Is it kind of like the caste system in India?

A bit like that, yes, but less rigid. Fortunately for us.

I don’t care what Ophelia Benson says about white and male privilege,

That’s nice.

and I certainly don’t care what you think,

So why are you bothering to reply to me?

and on the bigger picture, it’s irrelevant.

Nope.

What I care about are qualifications.

What are your qualifications for reporting on what it’s like to experience sexism? Hm.

This scene from Glengarry Glen Ross describes this mentality perfectly;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AXTx4PcKI

Ugh, more youtube videos. Does nobody articulate their arguments with their own words anymore?

I don’t care who you are, what race, gender or ethnicity you are, if you want to work here: close! If you have time and energy to complain about your constant victimhood on the internet, then you have time and energy to spend on doing more important things; things that matter. If you want special treatment, fuck you. If you want attention because you’re a woman, hit the bricks. If you want people to give you respect: close!

Close what? This is very confusing. I haven’t complained about my constant victimhood on the internet. I have organized marches against rape, helped found feminist organizing groups, and lobbied my elected officials, IN ADDITION TO posting stuff on the internet about sexism and feminism. I really don’t get what your problem is.

218 Sally Strange January 5, 2013 at 12:18 am

Grow. a thicker. skin. Seriously. I beg of you.

I understand that it would make you feel more comfortable if I would shut up, but that simply isn’t going to happen.

219 Esteleth January 5, 2013 at 12:18 am

So, I presume that you are content to go through life believing a strawman version of radical feminism, rather than learn something?

Re: privilege:
Having privilege does not mean that you are a bad person. Having privilege does not mean that you are undeserving. Having privilege does not mean that if bad stuff happens to you, that no one should care.

It simply means that you, for no good reason, or because of anything you did or did not do, fall into a category that society at large has decided is better than some other category.

220 Sally Strange January 5, 2013 at 12:28 am

This seems rather important, so I took it out on it’s own. It is a convenient little loop to defend feminists and allow them to dismiss anyone who challenges them. As noted, anyone who opposes feminism is sexist. No ifs and or buts about it.

Well, yes. Kind of like opposing anti-racism means that you support racism. I don’t see how this is controversial.

No room for discussion.

Are you stupid? Aren’t I discussing it right now?

And this applies not just to the misogynists that hate feminism for fictional reason, but even those with “real reasons” to hate it.

That’s your assumption. It is incorrect. I know plenty of people who don’t call themselves feminists for reasons I find perfectly rational, but who also don’t *oppose* feminism qua feminism, which is the struggle for political, social, and economic equality for women.

When you’ve created such a loop whereas you can dismiss anyone who disagrees with you as sexist, it really does stifle honest debate.

Why? Are you saying that sexists are incapable of honest debate? Are there not people out there who honestly believe that women’s place is in the kitchen and can present arguments (however wrong they may be) to support their contention? That hasn’t been my experience.

Of course, feminism doesn’t have a monopoly on egalitarian thought, but you can’t be egalitarian if you have problems with feminism, even “real”ones, because you are then defined as sexist.

People who have problems with feminism because they perceive it as insufficiently supportive of the problems of women of color or trans women are egalitarians. People who have problems with feminism because it is “sidelining” men are not.

Seems to me that feminism very much does claim a monopoly on egalitarian thought.

Hardly. Feminism addresses the problems of women. “Egalitarian thought” encompasses the problems of people of color, transgender people, intersex people, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, immigrants, poor people, religious minorities, etc., etc. Feminism does not claim to address these things. QED: feminism has no monopoly on “egalitarian thought.”

Even if my reason for disliking feminism is that I don’t believe for a second that feminism on large is for equality (because I see too much feminist opposition to equality for men, too much female chauvinism, as well as the tendency to presume the motives of others, always with a malevolent intent), I’m sexist, which, by definition, precludes me from being egalitarian.

I’ve never claimed that people who support equality between, for example, black and white people, can’t be sexist. Is that what you think?

That’s a handy piece of logic you got there.

I’ve got lots of pieces of logic. If you like, you can borrow some.

221 juliana January 5, 2013 at 1:02 am

I love it.

222 Pitchguest January 5, 2013 at 1:13 am

To Sally Strange: The volume of how full of shit you are is indefinable. You can be for equal rights for women but still not a feminist. That is a fact. Feminist =! equal rights for women. I think with the inclusion of several feminists out there who doesn’t agree with this contention pretty much cements this narrative. The radical feminists on my list certainly did not have this idea in mind, they instead wanted to empower women to overcome men, to become greater than men.

To compare feminism to anti-racism is pure unadulterated bollocks.

Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t decent feminists out there. Unlike some, I’m not one to draw a broad brush. However, to say it unequivocally does is bullshit and you know it. To deny it is a matter of willful ignorance.

Re: privilege, you actually agree that my being born white and male makes me more privileged?

*blink*

I’m sorry, I need some time to absorb this. I, being born a white and male, and let’s say you, hypothetically, being born black and female, in a rich home in a rich family, but the one who has the most privilege due to race and gender would be yours truly. Is that the kind of thinking you agree with? Rather than go with qualifications, you would rather look at someone’s skin colour and gender and conclude who is more privileged? A white male homeless person is more privileged than a white female homeless person? Worse still, a white male homeless person is more privileged than a black male homeless person?

*stunned*

It’s like the caste system in India. Your worth is decided in what level of caste you’re born into. The problem is I can’t do anything about my gender and skin colour even if I wanted to; sure, I could cut off my balls and undergo a sex change, and I could tan myself to such an extent you wouldn’t notice the difference. However, you nor I would want that, I’m sure. Or do you? Frankly I’m still not sure how depraved you really are, Sally.

What’s ironic is that while I may be white and male, the worth of my words on several issues will be ridiculed because I am white and male. My privilege as a white male is rescinded because of too much white and male privilege. Makes sense.

Oh, and I want you to grow a thicker skin to be able to deal with the world around you and not just the convenient bubble you’ve built around yourself on the internet. The world is a much harsher place and if you can’t take a few words that are “hurtful” on the internet, then I say to you what I said to another: turn off your computer and go outside. Reality check.

223 Pitchguest January 5, 2013 at 1:15 am

To Esteleth: I’m not holding my breath, but sure. Go ahead and define YOUR version of radical feminism. I’m all ears.

224 Julien Rousseau January 5, 2013 at 1:28 am

I haven’t read all of your piece yet but noticed a likely error.

“TF then criticizes Amy’s decision to use copyright law, to try to prevent people from creating parody images of her jewellery to mock her. As a general principle, I tend towards agreeing with TF about this, although artists are of course entitled to legitimately use copyright law to protect their work.”

I don’t think that it is what TF is referring to. In one of his blog posts back when he was at FTB TF used an image created by Amy where she holds a piece of paper with “Talking about sexism isn’t the problem. Sexism is the problem” (the wording might have been sligthly different). TF did not ask Amy for the right to use this piece of automatically copyrighted (as per the Berne convention) work.

According to Lousycanuck Amy asked him to either remove the offending image or credit it, which is “legitimately us[ing] copyright law to protect their work”, and TF got mad about it and saw it as “abusive use of copyright law to stifle free speech”. Given that TF does not see this clear cut case of copyright protection as legitimate I wonder what (if anything) he would consider a legitimate use of copyright law to protect a work.

As for the parody of Amy’s jewelry, not only is it an attack on her person, not her ideas, (something that we should demand better out of the skeptical community) but at least one example of it is defamatory in that it not only mocks her but PRETENDS TO BE FROM HER (sorry for the caps but I wanted to emphasize it and I don’t know if HTML work on your blog). See here:

http://twitpic.com/aiha5v

Incidentally, it probably also is trademark infringement as while I doubt Amy has a registered trademark you do not need to to be afforded some protection (her continuous use of the surlyramics brand is enough). This is why you can see both the ™ sign (for unregistered trademarks) or the ® sign (for registered trademarks).

Back to reading and thanks for speaking out despite the lack of coercion or cajoling 😉

225 Mark Neil January 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

Well, yes. Kind of like opposing anti-racism means that you support racism. I don’t see how this is controversial.

False equivalence. Feminism is an ideology, it makes use of theories such as patriarchy, rape culture and privilege to project onto men malevolent intent. It is not the same as the concept of anti-sexism. A more a equivalent analogy would be, “does opposing the black panthers mean you support racism”. Let me ask you, do you believe “that violence is the only way blacks will ever get their rights.”**, or are you a racist? Do you advocate violence or racism? because that’s the position you’re attempting to place others in with regards to opposition to feminism.

**http://www.cyberlearning-world.com/nhhs/project/1998/panther.htm

It’s this dishonest attempt to pretend there is nothing more to feminism than a claim to equality that makes any reasonable debate impossible.

Are you stupid?

That’s four.

Aren’t I discussing it right now?

Not really. you’re calling me naive, dim-witted and stupid for chalenging your ideals, and saying, flat out “if you opose feminism, you are sexist”, no ifs and or buts about it. That sounds more like lecturing me how it is than a discussion.

That’s your assumption. It is incorrect.

I’m not sure how it’s incorrect, given it’s what you said. Of course, your trying to present someone who has no problems with feminism but choose not to identify as such as being the same as someone who opposes it. They aren’t the same, and it still comes down to an argumentative loop that leaves feminism above reproach without making those opposed to it sexist.

People who have problems with feminism because it is “sidelining” men are not.

Why not? Feminism is about equality, isn’t it? Oh that’s right, it’s only equality for women, as you yourself said above “which is the struggle for political, social, and economic equality for women.” and since men have been dominant for 5000 years, they don’t get to complain about being sidelined under the banner of equality. And this right here is reason enough for many to question feminism, the problem is, dispite the fact I hear this from virtually every feminist I speak to, and only feminists say it, most people aren’t willing to attribute this to a feminist influence.

Feminism does not claim to address these things.

Actually, it really depends on the feminist, the day and the point they are trying to make.

I’ve never claimed that people who support equality between, for example, black and white people, can’t be sexist. Is that what you think?

that’s right. Because all my examples were race based and had nothing to do with sex. Men are a black and white issue, not a gender one. But being so obtuse allowed you to dodge the point. I’m sure you’ll not return to it.

226 Esteleth January 5, 2013 at 1:37 am

Well, that was quite the ringing endorsement. /sarcasm

Let me start by defining feminism around its central argument, namely:

Argument: Equality of all persons, regardless of who they are, is good for people specifically, and society in general.
Observation: People are not equal. One significant way in which people are not equal is that women are oppressed relative to men.
Argument: This situation is not optimal and must be remedied.

So far, so good. Feminism, going all the way back to its origins, is the argument that (1) the sexes are not equal, and (2) they should be.

Which leads directly to a question, namely:

How is this equality going to be achieved? What will that equality look like?

There are literally hundreds of schools of thought inside feminism, divided by how these two questions are answered.

Radical feminism answers them like this:

The inequality of the sexes is directly bound up in the ways that society expects people to behave: the very concepts of masculinity and femininity are how sexual inequality is perpetuated. For the sake of all people, male and female, and for the sake of society, these concepts must be smashed utterly, and society must be rebuilt around completely different concepts whereby a person’s role in society is unrelated to their sex.

Radical feminists don’t want women to overcome men. They want the difference between men and women to become irrelevant for everything except for extremely basic things, like reproducing.

*shrug*

Make of that what you will.

Also, yes of course you are privileged because you are white and male. You may have any number of lack of privileges (for example, you may be poor, you may be gay, you may be disabled, et cetera), but privilege is not a matter of “3 positives – 2 negatives = net status of 1.” I have privilege, relative to being a white person who is comfortably middle-class. I lack privilege relative to being a woman and being a lesbian. These two sets do not cancel, nor do they really add. They just are.

The theory that examines how a group of people, all of who possess some privileges and lack others, are ranked as a result is known as “intersectionality.” It does, in fact, examine the situation you highlighted (poor white man vs wealthy black woman), as well as many others. The one thing that intersectionality theory does not answer, however, is who “wins:” because this is not a game that anyone wins. This “game” (derisively referred to as the Oppression Olympics) is the game that everyone loses.

227 Julien Rousseau January 5, 2013 at 1:48 am

“I assume that the reason he did not do this was that he did not have video of the full speech available, as if he had, I assume he would have treated her more fairly.”

The video is freely available on Youtube and has been for a while. A transcript is also available on the a+ scribe website.

If TF really did this out of ignorance then it speaks poorly of him as a skeptic as he obviously did not try to track down the easily available source. Also, if he did it out of ignorance then I would expect him to retract it and apologise.

When a creationist quote mines we generally cannot know whether they personally deliberately or accidentally misrepresented the person they quote mined or whether they were spoon fed falsehoods by someone else. In this case the quote mining is recent enough that maybe TF can tell us how it came to be. Did someone give him the quote mine and in his incompetence (and confirmation bias) he failed to check it out or did he create it himself?

228 Julien Rousseau January 5, 2013 at 2:20 am

“TF concludes this section by adding another attack on PZ Myers for disabling ratings and comments on his YouTube videos, describing this as a ‘creationist and pseudoscientist tactic’”.

For the former (disabling comments) you would think that TF would be happy to prevent an easy use of argumentum ad populum and is not surprising given PZ’s longstanding disdain for internet polls.

For the latter, it is misleading of TF to claim that PZ is using creationist tactics by disabling his _Youtube_ comments given that he also provides links where people can comment without the gish gallop favoring 500 characters limit of Youtube comments. Given that, while it is technically correct that PZ disables _Youtube_ comments it is misleading because he enables _comments_, he just redirect them to a better forum. Maybe TF can point to the wealth of creationist and pseudoscientific Youtube channels that disables _Youtube_ comments whilst allowing commenting elsewhere.

229 Pluto Animus January 5, 2013 at 5:28 am

Apparently Martin is a big a douche nozzle as Thunderfoot.

Spot on, Mr. Nugent.

230 Diana January 5, 2013 at 6:37 am

The Wooly Bumblebee has another Youtube account where she berates women continually. We’re seeing a small group of women sidling up to MRA’s who then get them to do objectifying things in order to feel potent.
Also, many of these women are making money from making continual videos hating on other women. This is a well known tactic for these few women who I think are poor and would like to line their bank accounts after seeing GirlWritesWhat be so successful at it.
Thunderf00t’s behaviour is disgusting. There’s a feminist perspective to this and you should watch it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LjosM45eLw

231 Bunny January 5, 2013 at 10:17 am

This is the best example of applied critical thinking I have seen to date. Bravo, and thank you Michael.

232 Soren January 5, 2013 at 10:37 am

@Pitchguest:

Andrea “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig” Dworkin?

Really , where – prey tell – did you get that quote?

If I Google it I get a lot of MRA sites. But a little more digging shows it is indeed a quote from a Novel by Dworkin – “Mercy”

The novel tells the story of an abused woman, abused for most of her life, who goes over the edge and starts assaulting dunk homeless men, which is were the quote is from.

Not a story I will read for my children at bedtime, but a work of fiction none the less.

So why did you want to show us that you have read Dworkins fiction? Or did you mean to imply that that sentence fairly represented her views? That she really meant it? Or did you not even know that the source was a work of fiction?

I don’t know the other quotes, but based on the one I did check, I guess I’ll just assume they do not accurately portray the opinions of the people you name. But by all means, if you have proof that the quote portrays Dworkins opinions I am all ears.

233 Frank January 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

All hail Thunderfoot. Feminists are scum

234 Jarrad January 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I have read this article no less than three times now and I am still impressed with it. Well done Mr. Nugent and keep fighting the good fight.

235 Michael January 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm

One other point should be added to your comments about free speech. One has the right to make rape jokes or any other comments that makes others uncomfortable. These others, in turn, have the right to criticise the rape joke. Free speech includes criticism of someone else’s use of their free speech.

236 Jrod January 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm

It’s a shame you have to waste your time on this garbage Mr. Nugent, but I thank you for your thorough service just the same. It’s disgusting the way that supposed rationalists like Thunderf00t are willing to discard all notions of fairness and accuracy if doing so will help them smear their ideological foes.

All I ask from Thunderf00t is honesty. He refuses. He’s not rational or skeptical: he’s a lying propagandist.

237 Lee January 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm

“A Voice for Men, which is so misogynistic a website that it reads like dark parody, and which is currently featuring Thunderf00t’s video which we are discussing here.”

Seriously? I mean, up to here, I was sort of-kind of buying your angle on the video. What, precisely, do you mean by “misogynistic”, and can you perhaps give an example (or two)?

“Flagging is an entirely appropriate facility put in place by YouTube to govern how YouTube oversees the privilege that it gives to people to post videos for free on its website.”

So…because YT allows this facility, it is therefore an acceptable method of response to speech you don’t like?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B36lD64cPU0

This fella screams epithets at the screen for over half an hour, direct insults at TF. Yet, no one feels obligated to host a flagging campaign to get the video removed, particularly not TF. Women are not delicate flowers that wilt in the same harsh winds we all endure, so this type of response to spirited dissent (eg flagging campaign) shows, rather, a difference in attitudes towards expression.

TF receives the same character of hatred that Melody receives, but his response is different(and arguably more in keeping with a spirit of reciprocal tolerance). Atheists are a reviled minority, but we do NOT run flagging campaigns against videos that disparage atheists. We respond, argue, reason, and satire. In short, we set the example.

238 T Black January 6, 2013 at 12:21 am

After reading this I’m afraid you are giving too much credit to TF in assuming he is coming at any of this from a position of good faith, and in addressing him as though he attempting to make valid points . . . His use of language makes it clear that he has an axe to grind. He has been personally harmed by someone calling herself a feminist and now blames feminists for all ills in his life. He comes from a typical position of American privilege wherein he thinks he is simply entitled: to do, say, anything no matter the harm it does anyone. He is determined to smear people he knows nothing about out of sheer malice and idiocy. He is not an intellectual. He has not studied gender issues. He does not deserve to be listened to or given credence. He is perfectly “free” to speak, but we don’t have to listen, respond, or care.

I have been an atheist my entire life but only encountered the “movement” in the last couple of years. Once I encountered this issue I promptly distanced myself. I was sickened to discover that atheists are, frankly, like everyone else. They are, on the one hand, misogynist, violent, hateful, poorly educated, without moral or empathic imagination, and on the other hand, whiny, weak, and prone to a victim mentality. You have Dawkins on the one hand who lashes out and attacks a stranger for an off-hand statement of preference that if she state a boundary it be respected, without even using the power of inquiry and questioning to understand and educate himself and what it’s really like for women who spurn offers. And then you have Amy, who tweets that she is “offended’ that someone she doesn’t know responds to her tweets, and when someone who is on her side politely states that that’s not how Twitter works and she has to make her account private if she doesn’t want strangers to address her, blocks and sics her followers on you and overall behaves like a spoiled child. I’m done with all of it.

239 Pj January 6, 2013 at 4:15 am

Test

240 x January 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

to read comments, feel free to delete

241 doubtthat January 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

@Pitchguest

“…you actually agree that my being born white and male makes me more privileged?”

Yes. That’s exactly what it means. It’s a massive advantage in the United States.

Are there some things that can overcome this privilege? Yes. LeBron James’ kids will have an advantage over white kids born in trailer parks, but 1) FAAAAAAR fewer minorities are born into wealth than white people (again, that’s the privilege thing) and 2) pointing to rare exceptions as though they’re indicative of broader social trends is a very silly way to progress.

I would recommend going to the South Side of Chicago and working in social services on some level. I worked in a legal clinic there, and though I grew up around poor white folks, the difference is jarring. Clearly you’re not the sort of fellow capable of learning about things by reading and thinking, you need to be slapped in the face with reality. It would be a good learning experience for you.

242 doubtthat January 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Just to add, median white wealth is $100,000. Median black wealth is $5,000. That tells a much larger story than income, though that is skewed, as well.

243 doubtthat January 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm

@Lee

I don’t understand your complaint. Are you shocked to learn that A Voice for Men is misogynistic? Read his fucking mission statement:

When the Southern Poverty Law Center and others began calling out the vile speech, the mission statement read:

“AVfM regards feminists, manginas, white knights and other agents of misandry as a social malignancy. We do not consider them well intentioned or honest agents for their purported goals and extend to them no more courtesy or consideration than we would clansmen [sic], skinheads, neo Nazis or other purveyors of hate.”

It has been changed to “AVfM regards gender ideologues and all other agents of misandry as a social malignancy.”

Like all right wing assholes, they didn’t learn anything about the misguided malice of their views, they simply cloaked their venom with dogwhistles. It is always thus.

They are gleefully and proudly misogynistic. Why would you be surprised? In fact, isn’t that the very thing you like about them?

It’s the same bizarre logic one encounters when arguing with Holocaust deniers (compare the thought process, not the subject matter): they often agree with Hitler that Jews are responsible for some massive world-wide conspiracy and think rounding them up and murdering was some inscrutable act of self-defense, but then argue that he didn’t really round them up, “Hitler is great for killing all the evil Jews, but he didn’t really kill all the evil Jews, but he would have been fully justified in doing so, but he didn’t really do it, and he’s a great, brave man for confronting the Jews….blah, blah.”

You agree with the views that A Voice for Men holds, but then you want proof that they hold them? Baffling.

244 FinancePhD January 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Nice avoidance of the issue. Good job sir.

245 Reggie Rock January 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Three things:

PZ Meyers and FreeThoughtBlogs and the like do believe that the place of women is in dispute. They do believe there is a war between those who see “fuck toys and eye candy for the privileged white men, or whether we are colleagues”. Look at FTB and the comments section.

The problem is that there is no such debate in the atheist community or western society at large. The debate is over the wording of harrasment policies, where the line is in edge cases, whether the problems are system or localized, and what exactly is the best solution.

PZ Meyers and the New Feminist Atheists are turning the big guns of 19th century suffrage and 60’s third wave feminism on a community that doesn’t hold those beliefs. It’s treating every person questioning the wording of a harassment policy into a wife beating rapist. Perfectly calm and rational disagreement is treated the same as a threat of rape. People who agree on 99% but disagree on that last 1% are being called misogynists, rapists, and worse. That is what so many are opposed to, that is why so many hate this new breed and believe it is poisoning the atheist movement. They are using nukes to swat flies and then are surprised by the fallout.

– Calling someone names on a youtube video is bullying? So what about the hundreds of PZ Meyers blog posts calling people he disagrees with rapists, wishing for their deaths, or just using bad language to insult them? Religious leaders, politicians, crackpots, etc have all been the targets of far worse than ‘twat’ from PZ Meyers and others. To label that video as bullying is dangerous and ultimately wrong headed. It’s shutting down impolite speech only because it disagrees and ignoring the impolite speech that agrees with you.

Unrestricted speech should be the ideal. If we were to follow the harassment policies warning not to insult on religious identity then we would have to shut down atheist conferences because selling books about how go doesn’t exist and how religion is a mental illness are offensive. They should be. Creating conferences scrubbed of dissent means that the only reason to go is to nod your head in agreement with the speaker but you can do that at home on the internet. And what’s worse is the feminist claim that harassment and fear can never be questioned. We can never be skeptical of claims of improper behavior. If the standards for believing in miracles was the same as believing claims of rape then we’d all be revivalists!

Freedom of speech does not have an endpoint. If you want to walk about the extermination of the jews, or enslaving africans, or taking away women’s right to vote then no one should stop you. They should mock you, and disagree, and even get angry and yell. But shutting down your means of communication is the same as silencing.

We live in a digital world, we can’t use phrases like “no obligation to publish” anymore. It’s a blog, not a magazine and it’s a comment in a free open comment section, not an article on the front page. If you put anything online then you have created a public space for public reply. It is no different than setting up a soapbox on a street corner.

A dictatorial hand in the comments section is reflective on the person and community. Especially when FTB and PZ Meyers and the rest shut down dissent. Not just threats and all caps four letter spam. Don’t post on twitter if you do no want people to reply disagreeing. Do not put an open comment section in your blog if you are going to delete those messages that disagree. The internet is not private, it’s public. It’s more public than any street corner. could ever be.

So, to recap. The New Feminist Atheist community overreacts to any criticism and silences and bullies it into the ground. Free speech should have no end, and if it did we would have to start with the atheists and freethinkers. Taking away someone’s otherwise publicly available venue is indistinguishable from silencing them. And the New Feminist Atheist community treats any dissent as if it were tantamount to rape, and that overreaction is driving people away and radicalizing those that are left.

Increasingly frothing views whose dissent is silenced is what is poisoning the atheist community.

246 Reggie Rock January 6, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Yeah, sorry. I’m still having problems seeing new comments. Maybe posting this will help refresh it for me.

247 doubtthat January 7, 2013 at 7:02 am

Reggie, we’ve heard this scattered, rambling whining before. Why don’t you provide an example of what you view to be an irrational overreaction and we can discuss it.

Provide the link. I want to read what you’re complaining about in context, because more often than not you folks just contort reality to justify your victimization complex.

248 Drucifer January 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

By “personal attacks” you mean “personal criticisms.”

Good post, but I can’t stand when people conflate.

249 Mark Richardson January 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

Thank you for the reasonableness of this response to Tf00t’s latest provocation (or in Australian “shit stirring” ).
You were much fairer on him than he was towards his targets.
If anyone wants to know “what’s that fuss about?” I know where to direct them now!

250 Matt January 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm

I’m quite suprised that tf00t was so misleading, it really upsets me that this is true.

251 Leon January 7, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Well said, Michael.

252 Tim Leahy January 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I’m very dissappointed to notice Mr. Nugest taking sides in the Atheist-Feminist discussion. I’m finishing any participation I had with Atheist Ireland. This is truly disappointing and in my opinion very ill-advised on your part sir.

253 Amii Lockhart January 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Drucifer @248, Perhaps he did so, when talking about Myers and Hensley, but with regard to Roth and Watson, they were attacks. In the case of Roth, he’s re-quoting statements she’s already retracted to try and make it appear as though she believes things she does not believe. How is that criticism? In the case of Watson, he just makes stuff up, then takes irrelevant quotes out of order and regarding other topics to support his assertions. That’s not criticism. And given his clear willingness to deceive, I’m not taking his “criticisms” of Myers and Hensley with any seriousness. He has no credibility.

254 Andrew Kitzmiller January 8, 2013 at 5:54 am

I’m very disappointed with Thunderfoot’s attitude. He seems to have a blind spot in his critical thinking when it comes to women.

255 Paul January 8, 2013 at 7:51 am

I glad to see this type of response. You have shown how Thunderfoot’s clips where used out of context by including more complete copies of the source material. This type of reply seems to lacking in the discourse. Which I find puzzling, because a community that claims to adhere to skepticism should be resolving issues in a more academic manner.

One comment that you make that I find out of place is your statement that the website http://www.avoiceformen.com is misogynistic. I have listened to a few of Paul Elam’s videos and didn’t recall them being misogynistic. So I went the site to check it out, but did not see that. Looking at the article for the Thunderfoot video I found this exchange as an example of the opposite.

Shrek6 wrote:
“Women, WILL NEVER BE EQUAL TO MEN!
I don’t care how they put it, because the simple overwhelming fact throughout the history of Mankind, is that women have NEVER been equal to men and they never will be.”

Paul Elam replied:
“We are seeking a level playing field with women and men, legally, socially and politically. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is inconceivable that anyone crowing about their superiority (which is exactly what your post is) over half the population, could actually contribute to that goal.
In fact, it makes you dangerous to our goals here, and to an accurate perception of what this site stands for.
It is a form of bigotry, and as such is diametrically opposed to our mission and values in this place.”

Shrek6 replied:
” …, and I apologise to anyone I have inadvertently offended!
It is indeed true that men and women will never be equal. And yes, I should have qualified that statement instead of leaving it up to interpretation.
I have stated before on this site and it is and has always been my belief: that women should have never been in a different class or classification to men, economically, socially or politically.”

If you can cite an example of something you found misogynistic about the website, I would appreciate it.

256 A Hermit January 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Paul, you want evidence of Paul Elam’s misogyny? Here’s what he writes about rape victims: (And no, I won’t link directly to the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club website)…

————————————————————

http://manboobz.blogspot.ca/2010/11/paul-elams-vanishing-post-blaming-and.html

” But are these women asking to get raped?…

They are freaking begging for it.

Damn near demanding it. …

[T]here are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”

—————————————————————————-

Did you get that? Rape victims are “conniving bitches” who are “begging for it.” Sounds pretty misogynistic to me…

257 Nienista January 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

Thank you for writing this. I knew there had to be more than what was being said. This is the video that made me unsub TF, and he is the first person I ever subbed. It is ashame he has taken the path he has. The light feminism is being painted in is nothing less than disappointing, especially by someone with the audience he has.

258 ginmar January 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

You’re assuming error or good faith where none exists. TF attacks women and men who defend them (ironically, against men who absolutely refuse to so much as listen to women, then complain about this very defense), and he is incredibly hostile to women who dare to complain about harassment. That’s classic misogyny.

259 ginmar January 10, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Mark Neil…”Do you not see how your eagerness to accept that men are so hateful to women makes you sexist?” Seriously? For starters, you reject any arguments that don’t say what you want, so this is a bit rich. Second, what you want is apparently sucking up. Not going to get it.

260 Seth January 12, 2013 at 5:45 am

I was looking forward to you addressing TF being banned despite having PZ’s word for the contrary. More of a personal matter between the two?

261 smhll January 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you for including longer quotes and context. I appreciate getting a fuller story. I agree with you that is desirable to make conferences welcoming.

262 Paul January 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Hermit, after reading the original Paul Elam article, I found that manboobz’s commentary miss represents the comments made. The original article clearly refers to women that are extremely careless or that court danger. One comparison was to a person who left a car unlocked with the engine running complaining when their car gets stolen. I find his article to be hateful and lacking compassion. For which he was multiply criticized to the point that he felt the need to add an addendum clarifying his position. But I do not consider it to be misogynistic because it wasn’t about women in general. It was about a group of women acting in a specific reckless certain manner.

The reverse example I would give would be if someone wrote an article criticizing men that engage in extreme sports as begging to be killed and having no sympathy for those that die. And both cases I would say that they are attributing motive without clear evidence and lacking compassion for the victims. I would not see it as a broader attack on an entire gender.

I found Paul Elam’s article to be offensive, that manboobz strawmaned Elam’s article and Thunderf00t used quote mining to make person attacks. It is sad that what seemed to be a communnity of people that widely claimed to embrace skepticism has so poorly used the tools of critical thinking.

263 John Haigh January 15, 2013 at 5:04 am

Good post Michael. Hear hear!

264 Agagooga January 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

The criticism about TF’s the ARD and RW points seem fair.

TF talks loads about PZM but you choose to only look at only part of what he says. It is clear that PZM was joking about the sexual joke (harassment policy). However, in other contexts it is likely PZM would be slamming sexual jokes involving women as sexual harassment. And putting down a banknote down RW’s top is making a joke that she is a stripper, which I could see people clamouring to be offended by. Because if you kick up a big fuss about someone asking you for coffee in a lift at 4am (and lots of other things – he talks a lot about feminism on his blog, and he’s nasty to people who disagree with him about feminism and his blog commenters are even worse), why not these 2 things?

You ignore the point about blogs (IIRC) being not like your home but a public park, which is wise (for his rebuttal) because blogs are precisely meant to be public and your argument doesn’t hold water.

Does the video criticising MH count as “harassment”? Well that depends on your definition of harassment. To me the video seems quite strident, but harassment to me would be including that person’s phone number and asking people to give prank calls.

The talk of YouTube TOS is besides the point. Atheists like to say that Creationists cannot tolerate criticism – yet if they disable comments on their own videos, that is doing the same thing. Also you are ignoring the wider context of PZM’s censorship, which is that PZM apparently got TF banned from FTB.

265 Luis January 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Thank you putting things in their appropriate context.

266 Shawn S-Z January 21, 2013 at 3:27 am

Excellent post. Rational, systematic, and almost overkill! *laughs* I am glad to see people like you and Richard Carrier addressing the concerns of people like Thunderfoot in a logical and systematic manner. I prefer your approach, which is less insulting and angry than Richard’s. I do, however, totally understand Dr. Carrier’s attitude because honestly I would find it difficult to be anything other than really pissed off at this surreal voice inside the atheist movement. I just imagine these people treating my wife, sister-in -law, cousins, and mother like they are treating other women and yeah… my blood boils.

267 Clarissa January 21, 2013 at 9:24 am

Want a personal attack?

Thunderfoot is one homely man. And I hate his voice. What a little loser.

268 Clarissa January 21, 2013 at 9:31 am

Oh, and Richard Carrier? What a whiny little man. And the way he walks is…funny.

269 Cian February 11, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Oh not here as well… this “conversation” is driving me farther away from the atheist movement by the day unfortunately.
I was hoping you would not get involved in this and in particular take sides. Maybe to be consistent a level headed look at Myers, Watson et al and their treatment of Shermer, Dawkins, Paula Kirby, Sara Mayhew … etc would be a good idea?
I am on neither side of this issue really, but when I see so many productive and dare I say it reasonable people being put in the stocks and pilloried daily over one comment in a discussion or a simple disagreement on tactics it really makes me want to walk away from it. It depresses me to see an unassailable “in-group” develop in the “freethinking” world that reminds me so much of a little group who wield exorbitant power in this country.

270 Tim Clark February 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I think you went way too easy on him. While I understand his position, the way he went about making the video shows his lack of understanding about feminism as a movement and it shows his confusion between free speech in the public realm and free speech on private sites like FTB and youtube. I am glad that TF is not a judge because his lack of understanding in this area would cause many problems. Finally, his reaction to the change in policy at the conferences makes me wonder if his accusations against feminists in the atheist community aren’t a form of projection on his part.

271 Leonard March 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Author of this article is clearly biased, for some reason. I don’t know about his account of events described by Thunderfoot, but the arguments he makes trying to justify censorship are one of the stupidest I ever heard. And A Voice for Men is, I think, a liberal website dedicated to the so called men’s rights which is supposedly a male equivalent of feminism. You should check your facts before you misinform your readers, Michael.

272 Leah April 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I’m so glad I read this. thank you

273 Antonio April 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

White knighting is pathetic

274 You're wrong, he's right April 23, 2013 at 3:14 am

Sorry, but Thunderf00t is right and you’re wrong. Atheism should be about atheism, not about the whining of groups trying to drag their own pet political projects into atheism.

To rebut just one of your many flawed arguments, you write: “Whatever may have happened between then and now does not change the content, or the meaning of the content, of what PZ said in Cologne.” Yes, it does. When a person hears a friend make a questionable comment once, they’re likely to treat it as an outlier, but when it becomes apparent that it’s not only not an isolated incident but part of an overarching and destructive pattern it’s quite natural to reevaluate it in that light.

I won’t take the time to rebut your other arguments, which are shot through with similar flaws. Suffice it to say that the inability of yourself, Richard Carrier or any of the other group that’s pushing for this divisive, destructive “Atheism minus” to make convincing, well-reasoned arguments speaks volumes.

275 Sirbadges April 29, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I’m sorry no, I’m glad you would stand up for both sides in the case of ostracising but these people are detrimental to the atheist cause, they need to be stood upto, they are lovers and bullies and they need to go.

276 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

Well come on, the speakers did it to themselves, he didn’t put words in peoples mouths… they said it! Not like the examples you gave in your “nasty pushback” article.

I found this guy after that article in fact, I hadn’t heard of a+ or this feminist attempt to hijack atheism and secularism.

The atheist and secular area is the last place you would find sexism anyway. If they can defend themselves as well as they attack others, they don’t need our help.

277 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

I think the clip beats the article hands down.

278 Heikki August 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm

In the recent developments sexual harassment “charges” (or libel) raised (and removed) by R. Watson towards Lawrence Krauss and Rape charges (or libel) raised (and removed) by PZ towards Michael Shermer.
Do you think Thunderf00t had a point? At least these Skeptic conferences at least don’t seem like a healthy place to be.

279 HooliganHobo September 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm

This piece would be much more credible if you honestly appraised the behaviour of PZ et al. You bias is showing Michael.

280 Alex55 April 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Wow. Somebody is REALLY carrying a torch for Amy Davies. White knight alert. It wont get you laid Michael.

281 ZapMePlease November 15, 2014 at 7:36 am

I usually enjoy your work but you’re so far off base here that I didn’t even make it three quarters of the way through.

I got rather sickened with your excuse making for Amy Roth being ‘a kind and sweet girl’ – seriously? In what world is that a response?

You may want to rethink some of what you wrote. There is a very serious problem here when the most visible members of our community – are being attacked from within for no good reason.

282 2maik7 May 26, 2015 at 3:04 am

I’m sorry man but you have totally fallen for their feminist nonsense. If you can’t recognize the ‘patriarchy conspiracy’ theory that pervades feminist discourse then to be honest you are just as irrational and gullable as they are. Even if we leave out the feminist nonsense, thunderf00t was still correct. No website that gives themselves a title that includes freethought deserves to have that title when they silence contributors who have dissenting opinions. Equal rights is one thing, feminism is another. It is simply another irrational cult that could care less about reason or facts and just as Islamic apologists call theur detractors ‘Islamophobes’, feminists attempt to silence their detractors with ‘mysoginists’! Of course mysoginist is an actual legitimate word but thunderf00t and those who reject feminism are not automatically mysoginists! The cult of feminism, especially the ones thunderf00t addresses, are nothing but professional victims and it is truly pitiful that a percentage of the atheist community, who supposedly promote reason, are so easily duped by their nonsense.

283 Luke September 14, 2015 at 2:24 am

===
“Firstly, PZ was clearly not suggesting that this debate was taking place in those literal terms.”
===
Yes, he 100% WAS literally saying that about some atheists on the internet, have you seen the video ???
Words have meaning, PZ Myers can’t say that in the way he did and then disown it as hyperbole as you suggest because it might make him look a Nob.
Good grief…

284 Gert December 25, 2015 at 1:25 am

Without having known much about FT until an anti-feminist recommended him and after much reading about FT, Gamergate etc, I can only conclude Phil Mason is a douchebag. I say this as a male, feminist atheist. Oh, and a fellow chemist too…

285 SW99 January 6, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Why does there even need to be an “atheism plus?” tf and his crowd should go off and be “atheim minus.”

Sci Fi conventions have sexual harassment policies, and feminist analysis of scifi literature is welcome there. Did they have to split up and make “scifi plus” conventions?

What cancer are they not plagued with? (cough) thunderf00t(cough) Hell accounting conferences have harassment policies. Somehow they survived.

One woman mentions feminism and the poor snowflake tf is triggered right out of the building!

286 SW99 January 6, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Luke,

Selectively taking PZ’s expressions literally when it suits you is the equivalent of debating TF referring to people as “Muppets” literally. It’s dishonest to not give the other person the benefit of the doubt and jump on the most narrow and ridiculous interpretation of what they’re saying despite knowing exactly what they mean.

How tf continues to fool people in this way baffles me. It sums up his entire obsessive crusade against Anita Sarkeesian.

287 A/B January 7, 2016 at 10:40 am

What TF did is expose the behaviour of PZ and Rebecca Watson. His tactics were ruthless and that’s what these people deserve. I applaud your concern and trying to calm things down, but you have to acknowledge that TF is on the right side of things, albeit aggressive and not error free.

288 Will February 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Michael, have you come to regret your position now? All these years of hate coming from the people you’re protecting here. I feel as though if you had taken your anti-hate stance three years earlier, the more recent nonsense with PZ Meyers and his crew could’ve been subverted.

289 Paul Cavanaugh June 7, 2016 at 11:36 pm

Thunderf00t is right. Michael is wrong. If anything, he’s understating the threat of feminism to free thought.

Feminism is a cancer. It’s intellectually corrupt. It fakes science, lies about statistics, and tells women they are too weak to fight a patriarchy they cannot see and cannot even describe. Feminism is why title 9 is being used to persecute young men in colleges. Feminism is why men can’t get jobs teaching in elementary schools anymore. Feminism is why Obama lies about the wage gap.

Atheism is INCOMPATIBLE with feminism. They cannot co-exist in a single movement. Egalitarianism sure and atheism should strive to better and enrich the lives of both men and women. However we’re dealing with a movement now that would have banned George Carlin from the Reason Rally for being sexist if he was still alive. This is an atrocity and I will join TF in identifying the current atheist climate as toxic and destructive and I will not support it.

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