Retraction and apology to WB

by Michael Nugent on January 4, 2013

This article was originally titled ‘Publisher of video flagged for bullying admits Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied’ but WB has since clarified that she does not admit this, so keeping that title would be misleading and unfair to her.

I apologise to WB for attributing this admission to her. She had intended her words to be interpreted as an implied quotation, and I mistakenly heard them as a direct assertion.

While WB and I clearly do not agree on the substantive issues being discussed, it did not help for me to add to the problem by misrepresenting her about this.

I would also like to thank Rocco2466 for bringing this mistake to my attention and discussing it in a reasoned way in the comments. I have left the original article as it is below, along with the comments.

Michael Nugent

Original article follows

The publisher of a video about Center For Inquiry Director Melody Hensley, that was flagged on YouTube for bullying, has published a new video responding to my article yesterday that referred to this issue.

Midway through the new video, WB explicitly admits that Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied, and she associates her own original video about Melody Hensley with that harassment and bullying.

From 6:28 to 7:32, WB says:

“Anyways, he goes on to say: ‘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.’

Well, you know, like I said, she was tired of online harassment and bullying. But that was the harassment and bullying she got after she had publicly announced her intentions to mass block people.

These are people who didn’t even know who the fuck she was up until that point, myself included. I didn’t know who the fuck she was until she started publicly tweeting all of her dirty laundry. Like, really.

And then she publicly posts on Facebook crying about my video that I made, which was a response to her public tweets, by asking people to flag it so that YouTube would take down and then I would be silenced.”

So this means that:

  • WB is admitting that Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied.
  • WB is justifying harassment and bullying as an acceptable response to a person publicly tweeting that they will block people on Twitter.
  • WB is in various ways associating her original flagged video with what she describes as ‘the harassment and bullying’ that Melody got.
See full video above for context.
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{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alyson Miers January 4, 2013 at 3:50 am

Shorter version of WB: “If you cry, we’ll hit you harder.” Does that about cover it?

2 Improbable Joe January 4, 2013 at 4:06 am

Has anyone else noticed the ridiculous obsession these people have with being blocked on Facebook and Twitter, and being banned from commenting on other people’s blogs? It is the same sort of sense of entitlement to other people’s time and attention, and lack of respect for boundaries that make anti-harassment policies necessary in the first place. No wonder they hate the idea of those policies so much, because they are exactly the sort of terrible people who those policies are designed to weed out.

3 John-Henry Beck January 4, 2013 at 4:09 am

I suppose when you’re thoroughly convinced that harassment isn’t really a problem, and that any form of limiting people saying whatever they damn well please without the slightest consequence is censorship, then it follows that someone complaining of harassment is an evil censor and needs to be hounded in to going away. Or something like that.

4 Adam Lee January 4, 2013 at 4:14 am

That is an excellent point, Improbable Joe. I’ve been engaging with some of the antis on Twitter, and one thing I’ve consistently noticed is that they have a tremendous sense of entitlement when it comes to other people’s time. I asked one question, about how they define radical feminism, and one of them sent me probably a dozen tweets throughout the evening and got increasingly angry that I didn’t respond individually to each one. It’s easy to see why people with that attitude would get so furious at the idea that harassment policies could prevent them from taking up as much of another person’s time and attention as they choose.

I’m not claiming this explains all of the bad behavior, but it’s got to be a factor in some of it.

5 TCC January 4, 2013 at 4:15 am

Oh, so now you’re a “feminist minion” and a white knight? Congratulations, my friend; I hear the minion pay is good. And to be knighted? What an honor.

Seriously, WB is such an odious person (and difficult to listen to, frankly). It really bothers me to hear people with such an utter lack of empathy.

6 Stacy January 4, 2013 at 4:19 am

Wooly Bumblebee (Kristina Hansen, aka Kristina Mendez) has been harassing secular feminists online for over a year.

You can learn more about her here:

http://natehevens.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/anatomy-of-a-bully/

7 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 4:55 am

I don’t think that’s necessarily an admission.

It’s like saying X complained that he received unsolicited catalogues, but these were the ‘unsolicited catalogues’ he received after filling out the form consenting in writing to further promotional contact from the company.

The relevant part of that analogy is that the subject (unsolicited catalogues) is not admitted as being true, but that the allegation is being repeated verbatim in a context that makes it silly. This is a common technique in verbal argument.

In any event, the point in the video also appears to be that her argument was circular. She explains her ban behaviour (B) as being because of the alleged online harassment (A) but cites ‘harassment’ antecedent to the event as part of the reason for that ban behaviour (i.e. she claims A caused B, but B in fact occurred before A).

I know it’s emotionally involving because you’re friends but please apply critical thinking and don’t quote-mine. More here : unsolicitedcomment.wordpress.com

8 Simon January 4, 2013 at 5:12 am

I find it particularly ironic that she tells Melody to get a life. Project much?

9 Simon January 4, 2013 at 5:22 am

Rocko2466: No. There are levels of harassment. There was level X before Wooly’s original video (and the other several videos from her fellow MRA’s) and there is level X^Y today.

Wooly’s words speak for themselves.

10 Michael Nugent January 4, 2013 at 5:26 am

Rocko, I didn’t quote-mine. I provided the full video.

Here is my opinion on your hypothesis.

Her words are clear and unambiguous. And the cadence of the sentence reinforces taking a straightforward meaning from them.

She didn’t use the pause and tone change that would have implied the quote-marks that you place around ‘unsolicited catalogues.’ Even in writing, you needed to put in those quote-marks to convey what you meant.

The reason that your hypothetical ‘unsolicited catalogue’ analogy makes the complaint sound silly, is that the hypothetical complainer has signed a consent form, which doesn’t apply here.

I agree that WB is arguing that the harassment and bullying (as WB sees it) only started after the blockings, and (as WB sees it) that makes the earlier claims invalid. I agree that WB thinks that is significant.

But that doesn’t change the fact that WB accepts that there was in fact harassment and bullying.

She is accepting that it has happened, she is denying that it happened before the blocking, she is implying that it would not have happened without the blocking, and she is justifying it as a response to the blocking.

I’m happy to let people listen to it and form their own opinions.

11 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 5:40 am

Thanks for the response. I appreciate it.

On further review, I agree WB’s cadence doesn’t support me, but in the context of her full video I think that was what was intended (and hence my construction is reasonable and probably more appropriate). Perhaps saying that you were quote-mining was a bit unfair but I don’t the admission of harassment is there, at least not so clear that your post could be so triumphant (rather than phrased as Did WB just admit that harassment occurred?)

In any event, I’m sure WB will clarify if that’s not what she meant.

In general, I do think that the community is ‘over-reporting’ harassment (in that, people who disagree and are trying to get to the bottom of the dispute are being called out as harassers when it’s simply not true).

I’d also point out I was blocked by Hensley in the past week not knowing anything about her myself. I haven’t been particularly active until recently and it’s disappointing to have one side of the skeptic community block you out entirely just because you are finding your way. It’s doing a disservice and affects our community’s ability to do beneficial things (which I’ve addressed at my blog).

Thanks again for the response.

12 Mykeru January 4, 2013 at 5:48 am

Michael, I noticed a minor error in your transcription. It should read, as spoken,

“Well, you know, like I said, she was tired of ‘online harassment and bullying’. But that was the ‘harassment and bullying’ she got after she had publicly announced her intentions to mass block people.”

I hope that clears up any confusion. Sorry that you wrote so much based on this minor error.

13 anon January 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

Heh. I read this on the Atheist Ireland Facebook page:

Declan Lyons there states it well, don’t you think Michael?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/atheistireland/permalink/10151194250541226/?comment_id=10151195120701226&offset=0&total_comments=24

Point 9. Melody Hensley blocked people on Twitter who had never even posted anything about her. This is not a sane and rational thing to do. This is the knee-jerk reaction of a child. And someone called her a douchebag in a video? So what? She’s a big girl. Is this enough to start a flagging campaign in order to censor her video? Defininately not, in my opinion.

This is the link to a voice for boys… avoiceforboys dot com

It was started By The Woolly Bumble Bee in response to a lack of such facilities for boys, which was highlighted after her girls’ school decided to donate their annual funds raised by a charity event to Because I am a Girl, a charity which only provides for girls in the third world, instead of Brick by Brick, their usual choice, which provides for both girls and boys in such countries. Those little African boys must have it good. If there is anything sexist about A Voice for Boys please let me know, because I’ve just read their webpage and there doesn’t seem to be a single sexist comment on it. Also, I’ve been following the A Voice For Men since the Warren Ferrell incident at U of T and they certainly don’t strike me as a dark misogynistic parody. I challenge you and any other member here to read their articles and challenge them on any disagreement you have. They will not censor you like Atheism + and if you want to see a dark sexist parody I’d suggest browsing Radfem hub and making a comparison. Also google Radfem Hub/Agent Orange.

You might get inspired to address hatred of men, ethnicity,homosexuals and transexuals next time you right a blog about hatred online. You know? Like when Greg Laden suggested that all men have a rape switch, which means that men like me, and you, might snap at any minute and go on a rape spree.

Or maybe hatred online really is only aimed at women?

14 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

What the fuck. Quote-mining, Michael? Now you resort to quote-mining?

Wooly clearly outlines that the “harassment and bullying” (which was a leading question, since Melody refuses to call it anything other than “harassment and bullying”) that Melody received was due to her announcement to publicly preemptively block people out of their association or because they might one day address her. Then if that wasn’t crazy enough, she then publicly announces on Facebook to her supporters to false-flag a video because she doesn’t like the user making it!

I don’t care what language Wooly uses, you never false-flag a video because of that reason. Never. Not once. And you support this practice because you happen to be friends with Hensley? Unbelievable.

Furthermore, what about the “harassment and bullying” in direct conjunction due to Melody and company? Why do you refuse to address this problem? She used her position as a CFI Executive Director to send her toadies to do her dirty work – and like a willing monkey, you clap. This is just sad. Sad.

15 The Devil's Towelboy January 4, 2013 at 5:54 am

Never allow reality to interfere with emotion –

http://i.imgur.com/wH9p8.jpg

16 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 5:56 am

Rocko, I didn’t quote-mine. I provided the full video.

Of course it’s a fucking quote-mine. You quote the full line, bold one part and leave out the other, and then make your conclusion based on the bolded part. Despite the fact that the unbolded part, which comes straight after, clarifies her position. Not a quote-mine? Please don’t insult our intelligence, and we won’t insult yours.

17 Concentratedwater, OM January 4, 2013 at 6:18 am

Thank you for commenting on this video. It certainly proves a point very well.

http://i.imgur.com/wH9p8.jpg

18 anon January 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

Shorter Adam Lee,

“I asked someone over twitter to define Radical Feminism, then I got upset when they couldn’t do it in 140 characters.”

What a dumbfuck.

19 rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 6:43 am

Hi Michael

I’ve mosied over to WB’s twitter feed and she’s saying she didn’t admit that it was harassment and that, consistent with my hypothesis, that was not the intended interpretation (i.e. quote marks were intended to be read in around harassment and bullying).

So we’re in the position of saying:

1. that part of the video was at the very worst ambiguous, with a more plausible alternative interpretation that I have offered;
2. that part of the video was taken out of context of the rest of the video where harassment was denied; and
3. the speaker has disavowed the interpretation that you support.

Will you be issuing a retraction or clarification of this article?

20 Bjarte Foshaug January 4, 2013 at 8:38 am

So, basically what WB is saying is: “I didn’t know Melody was being bullied until now, but now that I do know, I want to be part of it”.

21 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

I have been around youtube enough now to realise the overrarching concerns people have with flagging videos.
Some good vloggers have lost their entire accounts simply because hate groups (including racist groups) have decided to flag multiple videos of theirs.
The problem is simply that YouTube is too large for google to effectively police which means that false accusations (ie falsely flagged videos) often remain removed.
I can’t help but be concerned by Melody Hensley’s censorious actions on these grounds. Generally when flagging has occured it has been between different groups ON YouTube and all sides, realising the potential path this could lead down, have condemned it. What worries me here is that this attack was orchestrated via facebook by people who have no vested interest in YouTube and who can happily flag with impunity, not realising how badly this has ended in the past. What worries me further is how many people condone it. Now I am reading comments (on your other related thread) that any video that uses the word ‘twat’ should righteously be flagged down.
This all makes me feel very uneasy and very unsafe – which i suspect if not the goal will be seen as simply a fringe benefit.

22 Za-zen January 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

Even the most cursory glance at WB work informs you she does not believe criticism and mockery to be “bullying”. Even without that it would require a “gotcha” mindset to read her usage of “bullying” as an admission of such. Rather than an obvious referral to what Hensley believes it to be. (Quick note for fanboys, just because hensley believes it to be, does not make it so) logic 101.

Your whole post is built upon a flawed premise. Admit and retract.

On a side note, which i’m pretty sure you will prefer to address. You seem oblivious to the campaign by hensley and her ilk to ruin people within the atheist movement who do not ascribe to their politics. (Which is the root of videos like Tf and WB). Actually i hope you are oblivious, and not aligning Atheist Ireland with ideologues who wish to subvert Atheism to serve a broader socio political agenda.

As an Irish Atheist i say to you to stay on point, Atheism is not the vechicle for personal political agendas.

23 oolon January 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

@NoelPlum, I read your comment about “False Flagging” and not being a youtube aficionado I had to look up what info there is on the subject from Google. Looks like it has been misused… I agree.

However in this case, Melody Hensley, there is a difference. You asked for the people to be separated from the issues in the previous post… That could be easily done by WB and others — say blanket blocking on twitter is wrong – IN their opinion.

Personally it seems pretty clear that she knows Melody has a problem with people sending unsolicited nasty tweets to her. How does WB respond to Melody’s approach to this? By being extremely personal about her. Joining in and encouraging other people to tweet, create videos, memes – etc etc to attack her on this personal choice. Seems pretty clearly bullying to me when you spend most of your time attacking the individual and not addressing the mistake/issue that is the reason for the video. Especially in the context of the flood of nastiness from the usual suspects.

I’d not noticed you could flag videos before… But why shouldn’t I click on the little flag for the video above.. Select Hateful or abusive content > Bullying and put in the reason that this is part of a campaign against an individual for merely choosing who to block on Twitter? The function is there, just because some people misuse it why not use it to flag a hateful video about an individual? WB can easily put up a video about the issue and just mention the person, no freeze peach will have been defrosted.

24 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Tl;dr

“Melody is my friend, and I always support my friends. They are never wrong on any level. If melody says it is so, it is so.”

You save so much time and verbiage if you’re honest.

25 Michael Nugent January 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I’ve changed the title of this article to Retraction and Apology to WB, and added the following at the start of the article:

This article was originally titled ‘Publisher of video flagged for bullying admits Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied’ but WB has since clarified that she does not admit this, so keeping that title would be misleading and unfair to her.

I apologise to WB for attributing this admission to her. She had intended her words to be interpreted as an implied quotation, and I mistakenly heard them as a direct assertion.

While WB and I clearly do not agree on the substantive issues being discussed, it did not help for me to add to the problem by misrepresenting her about this.

I would also like to thank Rocco2466 for bringing this mistake to my attention and discussing it in a reasoned way in the comments. I have left the original article as it is below, along with the comments.

26 Simon January 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

The irony of Wooly’s friends rushing en masse to accuse Michael Nugent of bias is priceless.

27 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Calling Rocko reasoned is priceless as he has been attacking me without any.
https://twitter.com/Rocko2466/status/286413461091655681

28 WoolyBumblebee January 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

“Michael Nugent January 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I’ve changed the title of this article to Retraction and Apology to WB, and added the following at the start of the article:

This article was originally titled ‘Publisher of video flagged for bullying admits Melody Hensley has been harassed and bullied’ but WB has since clarified that she does not admit this, so keeping that title would be misleading and unfair to her.

I apologise to WB for attributing this admission to her. She had intended her words to be interpreted as an implied quotation, and I mistakenly heard them as a direct assertion.

While WB and I clearly do not agree on the substantive issues being discussed, it did not help for me to add to the problem by misrepresenting her about this.

I would also like to thank Rocco2466 for bringing this mistake to my attention and discussing it in a reasoned way in the comments. I have left the original article as it is below, along with the comments.”

– Thank you. I appreciate your honesty on this matter.

29 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Mr. Welch, I am aware that you have been campaigning to be a speaker at conferences. I am also aware that you have been critical of me for not obtaining local people i.e. Floridians such yourself, to be the speakers at my events. It is duly noted that you couldn’t be bothered to read Mr. Nugent’s apology to someone that has been viciously attacking his friend.

30 Jonathan January 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

EllenBeth Wachs (29):

John C Welch’s comment (24) was made before Michael Nugent’s apology and article amendment (25); surely it’s not the case that he “couldn’t be bothered to read it” since the apology wasn’t there to be read at his time of posting.

31 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Ah, thank you for the clarification. The fact still remains, Mr. Welch still couldn’t be bothered to read the blog he deemed worthy of commenting on.

32 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm

MZ Wachs, if by “campaigning” you mean “I said, perhaps oh…three? times that I thought I had a legitimate topic for a session, (the lack of scepticism and critical thought in the computer press, a subject with which I am intimately familiar) and that if people are dissatisfied with the current “trendy” speakers they should get up off their hindquarters and do more than just complain”, then no, that’s still not a campaign, and I would suggest you avail yourself more of a dictionary. But thank you for admitting you regularly read the slymepit.

And yes, I am HIGHLY critical of groups like yours doing the piss-poor job they do of getting local speakers for their events, instead choosing a path most charitably described as “star-fucking” so that they don’t have to do as much promotional work. I not only don’t back down from it, I *double* down on that statement, and I say this as someone with actual experience in arranging speakers for conferences. It is not easy, but it is not impossible, and you should be ashamed for your continual ignoring of smart, local talent just so you can get “big” names on your speaker list.

Finally, it behooves me to note that along with your sub-par skills as a conference organizer, evidently “telling time” is not a skill you have much practice in, else you might have noticed that I posted my comment BEFORE Michael posted his retraction. If you have somehow figured out how to see into the future, I wonder why you are commenting here instead of collecting your Randi prize, and making billions via sports betting.

The rest of us are stuck in linear time, and must suffer it’s limitations.

I am glad Michael pulled his head out and actually admitted error. I’m sad that he was so eager to be the white knight, he didn’t do a better job of research in the first place, and that it took multiple attempts to get him to see that.

That “good deed” is further downgraded by his active, eager support of removing people from YouTube with whom his friends disagree. Funny now he supports their active bullying while decrying that supposed behavior in others. I’ll close this by pointing out that if someone’s YouTube channel says things you dislike, you can completely avoid said channel by not going to it. No one is forcing anyone to view a YouTube channel. But perhaps that concept is a bit too…mature…for Michael and his friends.

33 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Jonathan,
Regardless, one is left with the impression that John Welch is unlikely to find an invitation forthcoming from Ellenbeth Wachs anytime in the near future ;)

Oolon,
A fair comment. Personally, whilst I find Hensleys twitter behaviour a little pathetic and over-protectionist I do agree that it is entirely her decision. If it sticks in your craw then it is just something you ought to suck up (as I would have to given how I feel about it)
however, flagging videos down is not the answer. I havent seen the video in question (i havent bothered looking for it since it is apparently flagged down) but I am quite sure i have gotten a lot worse. Try this for starters, roughly a 40 minute tirade (at least i assume it is, i gave up after 20 mins) of abuse aimed in my direction (try starting 6 minutes in)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW5mOoNGNYg

But flagging is not the solution. Melody could have ignored it or she could have responded to it. The problem with flagging is that it is just SO easy that once that peer disapproval to it goes the whole thing goes to shit. Seriously Oolon, you could get a dozen of your friends together and destroy my entire channel is you were so minded, simply by flagging videos down in concert and giving me strikes against my account (three strikes and i would be out, 4 years of content and involvement struck off, potentially at least). ok, maybe i would have some chance of recourse as a youtube partner but for many channels the prospect of flagging is a terrible tool.

Like i say, i am already hearing comments at FtB that any video that includes gendered slurs should be flagged down. Personally, i don’t have issues with gendered slurs but there ARE other phrases that annoy and offend me – some of which the ftB use with gay abandon. So where would it all end? Well, for the melody hensleys and FtB’ers very well indeed because this is not an even fight, they can flag away at anyone on YouTube from their untouchable blog networks. Perhaps you can see why that concerns me and why I wish someone had whispered in Melody’s ear just what a damaging path she is potentially embarking on by launching a flagging campaign?

34 Za-zen January 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Ellen you said “the fact still remains Mr. Welch still couldn’t be bothered….”

No Ellen, that is not factual, it is merely your assertion, and i assert it originates from your dislike of Mr Welch, rather than any knowledge as to what he has done with his time since commenting.

I’m sure you will consider Mr Welch as a contributor to “your” conference. Which conference is that by the way? I Mean “yours” rather than the humanists of florida’s. Actually i highly doubt you would request Mr. Welch as a speaker to any conference in which you were on the selection panel, regardless of whether he took the time to post here or not… Again my assertion.

35 Simon January 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I wish someone had whispered in Melody’s ear just what a damaging path she is potentially embarking on by launching a flagging campaign?

And what “damaging path” exactly are your referring to?

36 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Sorry Simon, i had thought i had made that more than apparent over the two posts.
The damaging path is simply opening up the idea that flagging is a legitimate tool for anything you find offensive and i say it is damaging because it escalates, either by retaliation (not relevant here because the flaggers aree sit behind a wall of immunity) or by more and more petty marginal things being seen as legitimate reasons to flag.

37 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Simon @35, please, you can’t be that ignorant.

If Melody/Michael et al start flagging every video they dislike, and getting the people who made those accounts kicked off of youtube, what, pray tell is to stop those people from returning the favor, and flagging THEIR videos.

Flagging campaigns like the one you seem to support are the very epitome of something cutting both ways. Melody et al are certainly able to have such a campaign, but I doubt they’d be terribly pleased when a similar campaign starts against them. The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

Noel, Za-zen, Ellenbeth has little to worry about on that score. I have as much trust in her ability to fairly and impartially evaluate speaker submissions as I do in a cat turning into a dog.

38 Michael Nugent January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Noelplumm,

In my opinion, there is nothing inappropriate about flagging videos.

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.

Flagging does not remove a video from YouTube, it merely alerts YouTube to check whether a video is consistent with the policies that people agree to by uploading the videos.

Flagging is an example of freedom of expression in action, not a denial of freedom of expression. I have the right to publish a video on YouTube, you have the right to tell YouTube that you want them to examine if it fits with their rules.

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 YouTube’s rules.

Freedom of expression does not mean that you get to decide how YouTube runs its website, no more than it means that YouTube gets to decide how you run your personal website.

39 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

@Za-zen No it wasn’t merely my assertion. It was from Mr. Welch’s own post. Please go back and see. And it is your own assertion now that I dislike Mr. Welch as I actually am unaware of having ever met the man. I can say I dislike what I have read of his very much.

But you are correct. I wouldn’t consider Mr. Welch as a contributor to my conference. We are a humanist organization. For some odd reason, I really don’t see that someone calling people “New Media Douchebags” is very humanistic.

40 Za-zen January 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Ellen, i fail to see it, if you want to continue that line you are going to have to illucidate.

Mick. Thumbs up for the retraction.

41 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Thanks Michael. I appreciate the honesty and was glad to reason it through. This kind of openness in a comment area is useful for that.

As for Ms Wachs’ comments about my tweet (which she linked to) I think my tweet speaks for itself; it was a reaction to a video in jest (not sent to Ms Wachs or associated with her twitter handle) and I don’t think I have directed any ‘attacks’ at Ms Wachs. In any event, my twitter feed speaks for itself (as does my blog in which I have addressed harassment in the skeptic community: unsolicitedcomment.wordpress.com). I invite Ms Wachs to read that, as it may assist her if she considers that tweet to be an attack.

42 Simon January 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Sorry Simon, i had thought i had made that more than apparent over the two posts.

Melody et al are certainly able to have such a campaign, but I doubt they’d be terribly pleased when a similar campaign starts against them. The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

No it’s not apparent at all. What types of response can someone who flags (and/or gets their friends to do the same) one of your videos expect? Melody doesn’t have a youtube channel you can retaliate on, so what were people supposed to “whisper in her ear”?

43 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Michael,
i found your response reasonable (even if I disagreed) up until the last part:
“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 YouTube’s rules. ”

What you say there is factually correct, but in reality i can either stay on YouTube and enjoy the marvellous discussions I have there with hundreds of individuals, or i could start my own website and talk to myself.
I actually think it is quite legitimate to talk about how one uses the powers YT invests in people, in just the same way as one may discuss how harassment policies, since they are a hot topic of the day, ought to be implemented at conferences and the like.

Bear in mind i don’t dispute the value of having a flagging system. If YT was only policed by their staff it would become a terrible place, with genuine bullying (pupils putting up damaging videos of one another or their teachers etc), threats, porn, copyright material etc. However, the open-ended nature of it makes it very easy to misuse. You can flag ANY video whatsoever and have it taken down. you make the point that:
“Flagging does not remove a video from YouTube, it merely alerts YouTube to check whether a video is consistent with the policies that people agree to by uploading the videos.”
But experience has shown that this does not seem to be the case. YT do not appear to review every video that has been flagged down and, in any event, are not especially brave in championing freedom of expression. A case in point would be the Unitarian Christian YouTuber ‘Bossman103′ who is one of the nicest people you could imagine. i can hardly imagine how his videos would offend anyone to the degree they would require flagging down (he is a progressive christian who is entirely pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage etc, doesn’t like to use foul language) yet not only have his videos been flagged down and stayed down, but as of a few months ago YouTube removed his entire channel!

So my comments are not ‘telling YouTube how to run its website': i know full well that YouTube are practically uncontactable and, in any case, set the flagging rules in accord with parts of their viewership far more important than the atheist/theist/skeptic contingent. Seriously, if their rules meant that every single such channel was closed tomorrow i doubt they would bat an eyelid.
What I AM saying is that we have a tool here that is actually very powerful, so i am asking, pleading even, that we are judicious with it, even if that means that, to bastardise William Blackstone, ten guilty vloggers get away with it rather than one innocent vlogger suffers. I don’t deny melody her right to flag, I just rather wish she hadn’t exercised it!

Can I lastly point out Michael how muuch we have all frowned on people’s employers being informed of their behaviour on a blog or at a conference or their stated views on ‘x’. I mean we could all make the argument ‘well the employer can fairly decide whether to sack or reprimand the person based on the evidence and if the person doesn’t like it they should be self-employed’ but I hope, I trust, that no-one would be naive or heartless enough to make that argument to justify that kind of behaviour.

44 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Being quite dishonest there Rocko!
http://i.imgur.com/9fjwr.jpg

45 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Simon
you wrote:
“What types of response can someone who flags (and/or gets their friends to do the same) one of your videos expect? Melody doesn’t have a youtube channel you can retaliate on”

Nothing. Melody could probably bring my channel to its knees if she wished. She could probably drive me off the internet atheism scene entirely if she so wished (tbh after 4 years if i lost my channel i would lose the heart), so could you.
I suppose if you think that is a good thing then you won’t see the harm – which would explain why you failed to understand my comments here.

46 oolon January 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm

@NoelPlum, So because you and I are able to ignore abuse that means she should? If someone is making videos attacking a person who has publicly and clearly expressed their dislike of it then that is bullying. When someone being bullied is blamed for not handling it correctly it is usually called victim blaming. It would be great if she was thick skinned, but given she clearly is not how about calling for people to extend some slack her way? The issue can be easily addressed not the person, unless they want to hurt the person, which as Ellen points out is all rather against Humanist principles.

I must say to the wider slymepit people commenting here that the hypocrisy would be staggering if I hadn’t seen it many times before. They often go on about horrible dogpiles and attacks in the threads in Pharyngula and how they don’t lower themselves to that sort of behaviour when someone disagrees… Yeah right!

The *issue* is blanket banning of Twits on Twitter, I know many feel that is not how they want to manage their Twitter feed. I’ve seen no substantive arguments as to why Melody *should* manage hers in the same was as they do. If there are then (v)blog about the *issue* and leave the personal attributes and attacks out of it.

John Welch –> Why not do a video on that subject? Sounds interesting and unlikely you’ll manage to fit many slurs into it :-)

47 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

EllenBeth, you are mistaken when you say I am dishonest.

The tweets you linked in the above image have been tweeted to me, not by me.

I think my blog may hold even more usefulness here. It’s not attacking someone to receive a tweet about them.

48 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Oolon

“When someone being bullied is blamed for not handling it correctly it is usually called victim blaming.”
It is, but you are mixing me up with an FtB house troll. I am not ideologically anti-victim blaming (and note the number of liberals who claim to oppose victim blaming yet blame the west (whenever it suffers a terrorist atrocity) for causing the attacks by sponsoring Saddam Hussain, antagonising islamic nations etc etc).

So yes, i am blaming melody and insofar as she was the person under attack I am ‘victim blaming’ (no doubt something else someone would happily flag a video of mine for) but what would you have me do? I see real danger in these kinds of organised flagging and so whilst this is all a done deal, how we feel about it afterwards, praising or criticising melody for the choices she made will set the tone for anyone else thinking ‘this video I take personally, I am sure i have enough sway to get this removed’

49 noelplum99 January 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

To all:
I don’t think I can add any more to the comments i have made here. Thanks for hearing me out and the pleasant atmosphere this exchange has been conducted in: you run a nice blog Michael :)

50 Simon January 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Ok, noelplum99 has stated his position that he would not retaliate against someone who either alone or in concert with others flagged his youtube videos. Fair enough and we’ll take him at his word. Though it should be noted that the video linked to has a fairly high percentage of down-votes, which is often accompanied by flagging but of course nobody but youtube can say for sure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW5mOoNGNYg

I’ve not heard back from John C. Welch on his below comment however:

Flagging campaigns like the one you seem to support are the very epitome of something cutting both ways. Melody et al are certainly able to have such a campaign, but I doubt they’d be terribly pleased when a similar campaign starts against them. The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

Again, since this “cuts both ways”, what “similar campaign” against Melody (and others presumably) should we now be expecting?

51 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm

And while I’m here, I disagree with flagging unless it is something serious. Us skeptics and atheists should be able to compete in freely flowimg open debate without resorting to flagging,

If Tf00t were harassing Hensley (which as far as I’ve seen, I don’t believe he is) then this could be shown by a reasoned response. If the video we’re all talking about this week is wrong, it can be shown to be wrong.

The response is just as I’ve responded to your article here. If you had made a video instead of an article, and I thought you had made a mistake (even if I had thought it was deliberately dishonest) the appropriate response would not be to flag the video, but respond in a similar way to how I’ve responded to this article.

It is too much like our community’s foes (fundamentalist Christians, psychics, homeopaths and similar) to block out the comments of our dissenters. We should welcome their comments even if they’re negative, even if they’re rude, because our winning hand is the fact that we’re right and they’re wrong. We should have similar confidence in our argument in our disputes within the community. If we don’t have that confidence, then we may be on the wrong side of the issue.

It is also highly unwelcoming to new people (I.e. myself as about a week ago) for them to be blocked out when they are merely asking questions or challenging ideas held by who they understood to be prominent members of a community they were hoping to now become actively involved in.

In short, let’s not flag. It’s a bad idea.

52 anon January 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Esteleth: One of the things about these people who don’t want to give up their privilege it’s the concept that’s been talked about for a hundred years if not longer is your right to do something ends the second that what it is you are doing hurts someone else. You know the original phrasing is you can waive your arms around but that right stops when you hit somebody in the nose. You know.

“The remedy for ugly speech is flagging.”

I forget which Septic Feminist Civil Libertarian first said that, can someone help out? I don’t think it was Esteleth this time, who?

53 anon January 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Whoops, forgot this quote too:

Esteleth: Something along those lines. And, and that’s actually very true and that also applies to things like language. Yeah, I can say all manner of words, I have the right to do that, I have the freedom of speech but my right ends the second that somebody that is affected by those words hears me.

54 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

“It’s not attacking someone to receive a tweet about them”

Oh, it not only can be perceived as attacking someone. It can be perceived as criminally attacking them.
http://www.theledger.com/article/20121101/NEWS/121109955?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar

55 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

You didn’t just receive the tweets. You participated. You are being very disingenuous.

56 Leland Somers January 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I started to follow this. Then I remembered what it was like in Junior High School back in the 1950s and decided that I was not longer in reading or listening to a bunch of whiny little kids pitching a bitch fight. UGH. Beyond stupid and into the realm of utter nonsense.

57 Rocko2466 January 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Hi Ellen, you’ve misrepresented that article. It is about a group of youths tweeting harassing material to one another about a person. It does not suggest that one accused only received tweets. It also does not give any context to the alleged behaviour.

At the moment, with the accusations you are making, the comments you’ve made about me here could also meet your definition for a ‘criminal attack’ and given that you were the source of the comments (rather than just the recipient, which I suppose would be both or either of myself or Michael Nugent as it is on his board), it would be much more serious.

Obviously, however, neither your comments nor my being mentioned in a tweet is attacking you.

I’d appreciate it if you didn’t implicitly accuse me of criminal behaviour, even if the accusation is obviously unmeritorious. If I were you, I’d also not be doing it to a lawyer (not because I’d care to do anything about it, but because I know the accusation is without merit without first being intimidated by it).

I thank Michael again for keeping an open forum for the key areas of this debate which are ongoing around Ms Wachs and myself.

58 Jonathan January 4, 2013 at 5:37 pm
59 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm

To Simon: Yes, I suppose you would have a point about Wooly, if she had made a video or blog post alerting her subscribers of this article and then ordering her winged monkeys to set him straight, but she didn’t – and she haven’t. So if you’re the Simon I’m thinking of, maybe you should tell your wife that it’s not strictly legal to falsely-flag a video? Especially not en masse by informing one’s supporters to do so, and in very bad taste – in the position of a CFI Executive Director, doubly so. Or maybe it’s that you don’t have such qualms?

I don’t know about you, Simon, but it’s very difficult to bury the hatchet when you keep saying and doing stupid shit. More importantly, tell your wife to grow a thicker skin. I doubt the women of yore would be proud to be represented by such a simpleminded and weak individual, who at the tiniest offense claims ‘victim’ and cries ‘bullying and harassment’. Bloody hell, Simon, get a grip.

60 Za-zen January 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I can see a lot of association fallacy…. Something that is running deep within the mindset of a small clique involved in interweb atheism. Your guilty by association. I’m a lawyer because i associate with lawyers. Thankfully the law itself employs a higher standard of reason.

61 Simon January 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Pitchguest: Now you are a lawyer and opining that Melody did something illegal? Flagging was appropriate I am sorry you don’t agree.

I don’t know about you, Simon, but it’s very difficult to bury the hatchet when you keep saying and doing stupid shit.

So after John C. Welch’s comments about a “similar campaign”, we now have you joining in and apparently refusing to “bury the hatchet”? What further abuse do you have in stock for Melody?

62 EllenBeth Wachs January 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

LOL- I didn’t misrepresent the article. I also didn’t implicitly accuse you of criminal behavior. Are you feeling guilty? Spare me your indignation.
The whole point of this is exercise in futility is what a target feels to be harassing and bullying behavior. You don’t get to decide for that person. Okay, we clear? Thanks.

63 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Also, again to Simon, this is ridiculous:

Again, since this “cuts both ways”, what “similar campaign” against Melody (and others presumably) should we now be expecting?

First of all, Welch said “could lead to a similar campaign”, not “will lead to a similar campaign.” Secondly, it wouldn’t possibly lead to a similar campaign against Melody if Melody hadn’t done it in the first place. Are you going to use the same argument that Stephanie Zvan used (or uses) when Greg Laden was targeted for threatening Justin Griffith with physical violence? See, the thing is, if neither of these things had happened, then there wouldn’t be any retaliation (or the possibility of a retaliation). Do you understand, Simon? Do you understand cause and effect?

If you or Melody don’t want these things to happen, then maybe you should do the reasonable thing and think ahead. It would be more than prudent and you wouldn’t have to take the consequences of saying or doing stupid shit. Better still, kindly suggest she resign and let a better alternative take her place. Right now, she’s doing the movement a terrible disservice and in my opinion gives atheism — and secularism — a bad name. Quit. While she’s “ahead.”

64 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Michael @38:

So, if a group of people started false-flagging all the CFI/FTB/Skepchicks videos because of personal animosity towards those groups or the people within those groups, you’d have no problem with that, since after all:

Flagging is an example of freedom of expression in action, not a denial of freedom of expression. I have the right to publish a video on YouTube, you have the right to tell YouTube that you want them to examine if it fits with their rules.

and if it happened that enough people flagged those channels and YT took them down, you’d be perfectly okay with that, since that’s how the service works.

Pardon my doubts on that. I think you’d be rather put out by such an action, and rightfully so. But, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, etc., yadda.

Ellenbeth @39:

MZ wachs…

@Za-zen No it wasn’t merely my assertion. It was from Mr. Welch’s own post. Please go back and see. And it is your own assertion now that I dislike Mr. Welch as I actually am unaware of having ever met the man. I can say I dislike what I have read of his very much.

So the fact I didn’t initially subscribe to the comment notification feed shows…only that I’m lazy. The fact I wasn’t monitoring this post, (but now am, you’re most entertaining), is in your world, a sign of some deep …something. Well, derp something for sure. I made a post before michael’s retraction. The fact I didn’t IMMEDIATELY post after said retraction doesn’t change the time stamps to make you right.

Note, there is in fact a difference between “before” and “after”, here a helpful video which illustrates this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGAalNtkGFE

your statements are kind of like saying that if I cut myself shaving, because the cut healed over cleanly with no scar, I never cut myself. Well, no, I still cut myself, I just healed up. Just because I didn’t post an acknowledgement of michael’s retraction on your schedule doesn’t change the fact that my initial statement was posted BEFORE his retraction. Really.

But you are correct. I wouldn’t consider Mr. Welch as a contributor to my conference. We are a humanist organization. For some odd reason, I really don’t see that someone calling people “New Media Douchebags” is very humanistic.

You had little to worry about. Although I’d point out that deciding someone is good or bad based on the use of “douchebag” is not only not humanistic, but hardly intellectually honest either.

65 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm

EllenBeth, you wrote:

“Oh, it not only can be perceived as attacking someone. It can be perceived as criminally attacking them.”

And when called on this, you said, “I didn’t misrepresent the article. I also didn’t implicitly accuse you of criminal behavior. Are you feeling guilty?”

The word you’re looking for is “explicitly.” You didn’t explicitly accuse him of criminal behavior, buy you sure as hell implied it.

And then, to top it all off, you said, “Are you feeling guilty?”

Have you stopped beating your children yet, Ellenbeth?

66 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm

To Simon: Hahahahaha. You still call the criticism that Melody rightly has deserved for her actions “abuse.” Brilliant. I wonder if you would do the same for people on the opposite end of her dogma? Nevermind.

Now you are a lawyer and opining that Melody did something illegal? Flagging was appropriate I am sorry you don’t agree.

Umm… no. I mean, it’s not strictly “legal” in the YouTube sense. Falsely-flagging a video is not allowed – moreover, falsely-flagging a video multiple times can get you banned. This is not what’s “appropriate” – this is their policy. If you think falsely flagging a video is appropriate, that’s on you. But you still shouldn’t do it. Clearly you’ve never heard of Brett Keane.

67 Simon January 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Pitchguest:

Welch also said here: http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/01/04/retraction-and-apology-to-wb/#comment-173687

The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

I think that shows fairly clearly what his intentions are.

See, the thing is, if neither of these things had happened, then there wouldn’t be any retaliation (or the possibility of a retaliation). Do you understand, Simon? Do you understand cause and effect?

What you are telling me is that if someone who has a reasonable belief that your friend’s video violates Youtube’s TOS and decides to flag and asks their friends to do the same (cause) you and your friends will retaliate in an unspecified manner (effect).

Quit. While she’s “ahead.”

Or else, what? What other plans do you have in store for Melody that would cause her to no longer be “ahead”?

68 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

simon@50:

I’ve not heard back from John C. Welch on his below comment however:

Flagging campaigns like the one you seem to support are the very epitome of something cutting both ways. Melody et al are certainly able to have such a campaign, but I doubt they’d be terribly pleased when a similar campaign starts against them. The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

Again, since this “cuts both ways”, what “similar campaign” against Melody (and others presumably) should we now be expecting?

None, but thanks for assuming I play by your rules. I’m in firm favor of things being visible so people can make their own decisions based on the actual words/videos in question, and not have to take someone else’s opinion on said words or videos as gospel.

I was however pointing out that if you and yours are going to take a course of action that you feel justified in taking, it would be nice, however unrealistic , that we not see you and yours complaining when someone else takes said action against you. If you think flagging things as bad solely because you dislike them, and for some reason, cannot avoid going to the page in question and watching those videos is just “an expression of free speech”, then i expect you to have the ethical consistency to say the same thing when people use the same tactic against you.

You and yours wish to start a flagging war against your enemies, surely you don’t expect them to say naught but “THANK YOU SIR! MAY I HAVE ANOTHER!”, do you?

69 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Simon@ 67:

Oh you are quite the drama lover.

Welch also said here: http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/01/04/retraction-and-apology-to-wb/#comment-173687

The way they are going, it is most definitely a “when” case, not an “if”.

I think that shows fairly clearly what his intentions are.

Nonsense. It shows that unlike you, i live in the real world, and understand how people react to such things. I expect that if I take an action against a person, that person will take at least a similar action against me. It’s why I don’t flag videos on YouTube just because they make me feel sad. If I dislike a YT video, I *don’t watch the whole thing*. If I find there’s someone who regularly makes videos I dislike, I *don’t follow their channel and watch everything they post, even if they say mean things about me*. It’s really simple, you should try it.

I think shutting down the FTB/CFI/Skepchick channels, while a net plus in terms of overall YT IQ and emotional maturity levels, would be a shame. Where else can I see such rich silliness? The three stooges are dead, one must find such things where one can.

However, should you wish to take down my channel with all 4 videos on it, by all means, be my guess: http://www.youtube.com/feed/UCZv3AYlSWoSRCV4a3ITRLqQ/u Have a party sport, show me your crusader spirit.

See, the thing is, if neither of these things had happened, then there wouldn’t be any retaliation (or the possibility of a retaliation). Do you understand, Simon? Do you understand cause and effect?

What you are telling me is that if someone who has a reasonable belief that your friend’s video violates Youtube’s TOS and decides to flag and asks their friends to do the same (cause) you and your friends will retaliate in an unspecified manner (effect).

Funny how your beliefs are reasonable, and the beliefs of those who disagree with you are bad. It’s almost like some other groups I’ve heard of, kind of the ones you oppose. I also love how you pump this up to be an eeeeevil OMGWTFBBQ THREAT. I am sure we’ll be seeing many posts from you and yours about how I and others “threatened” to falsely flag your youtube channels, and see, look at all the evil you fight against.

Quit. While she’s “ahead.”

Or else, what? What other plans do you have in store for Melody that would cause her to no longer be “ahead”?

You want this so bad. You actually want people to do these things so badly that you’re practically daring people to do them. Why Simon? Why are you that hungry to escalate? That’s a far more interesting question at this point.

What noel and I are talking about is simple human behavior. If you start flagging the accounts and videos of everyone saying things you don’t like, then it is *entirely* reasonable to expect those people to retaliate. If that bothers you, maybe reconsider your actions. Were I to explain it to a small child, and at this point, I’m unsure I’m not, the saying I’d use is:

“Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”

Really, it applies.

70 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm

To Simon: Stop being so melodramatic. Always looking for a ‘gotcha!’ moment, aren’t you? I’m telling you and Melody that her actions are abhorrent as a supposed ‘leader’ of a secularist organisation, and if she doesn’t want to accept the consequences of what she’s doing, too eager to think of herself as a ‘victim’ and consider any criticism, however small, as ‘bullying and harassment’, then she should quit. Resign. And if you didn’t catch it, while she’s “ahead” was sarcasm – so much sarcasm. She’s not “ahead”, she’s so far behind that if you counted the paces, you could make the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If someone of my friends has a concern that a video is violating YouTube’s TOS, do you know what I would do? I would make sure that it actually did violate YouTube’s TOS. If it did, then, possibly, I would flag it. But not before. See the difference? Because if I just went with my instincts (and/or my dislike for a person) and flagged away and it turned out, whoops, it didn’t, but the retaliations had already begun, then I’d only have myself to blame, now wouldn’t I?

As for Welch, you are seeing threats in your sleep. It was a hypothetical question, Simon. Don’t be stupid. However, again, if Melody should be retaliated against, it would be her own damn fault, wouldn’t it?

71 Simon January 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Pitchguest:

if Melody should be retaliated against,it would be her own damn fault, wouldn’t it?

Now you are moving from simple cause and effect to moral agency. Apparently, you don’t think you are morally responsible for your own actions because you consider them to be of retaliatory nature. Good to know.

72 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Compelled to step in and support Simon on this one. Calling Ms. Hensley’s actions ‘abhorrent’ is hyperbolic to the point of idiocy. It seems there are a number of people looking to rationalize/excuse the aggressive, childish, hateful ‘criticism’ Ms. Hensley has attracted and it’s beyond me why anyone would want to align oneself with those *obviously* on the wrong side of that discussion.

73 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm

simon @71

Now you are moving from simple cause and effect to moral agency. Apparently, you don’t think you are morally responsible for your own actions because you consider them to be of retaliatory nature. Good to know.

Well, the same could be said about your actions. You feel your actions to be retaliation for “mean things people say” and justified because saying “mean things” is bad. Therefore, your actions are automatically “good”, since you are retaliating against mean things, and you bear no responsibility for any fallout from your actions. In fact, any fallout from your actions is automatically “bad” since your actions are “good”.

Good to know. Also, nice job in pumping this up as much as possible.

Ess Bee @72:

Abhorrent, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But it’s nice to see you labeling all criticism of Melody in this matter as hateful.

74 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I didn’t label ‘all’ criticism of Ms. Hensley as hateful. I’m simply addressing the ‘criticism’ that *has been* hateful. Reading comprehension, try it.

75 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Ess Bee@74:

You weren’t terribly specific in your first statement. Clear, concise writing that properly gets your point across: try it.

76 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Calling Ms. Hensley’s actions ‘abhorrent’ is hyperbolic to the point of idiocy.

Abhorrent… as a supposed ‘leader’ of a secularist organisation. It’s best to read the whole thing and not quote-mine. I thought Michael would have taught you a thing or two about that.

77 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Sure, I should have been more specific. I come from a discipline where criticism should be constructive and respectful. That’s not to say it cannot be pointed and brutal if necessary. Attacks on content are fair game, attacks on persons never are. So….any explicitly hateful and non-constructive ‘criticism’ Ms. Hensley has received deserves to be called out for what it is, childish nonsense.

And Pitchguest, it’s really not quote-mining when you’re still in the same conversation as the original quote. Her actions are not ‘abhorrent’ as a secularist leader is what I meant. Let’s be charitable here.

78 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 8:15 pm

“Attacks on content are fair game, attacks on persons never are. ”

See, this is what Welch was talking about viz. clear, concise writing. That’s a very explicit statement. One can only draw one conclusion from it.

But, it’s quite obviously a false statement. Attacks on “persons” are fair game, depending on the circumstance.

79 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 8:18 pm

To Simon:

Now you are moving from simple cause and effect to moral agency. Apparently, you don’t think you are morally responsible for your own actions because you consider them to be of retaliatory nature. Good to know.

What?

Look, mate. I haven’t said anything about retaliating to Melody’s idiotic false-flagging campaign, but at the same time, if there happens to be a campaign of flagging her videos (or whatever) in return, then it would be her fault. She started the altercation, she should stand for it.

As for my criticism of Melody, that would be retaliatory (as it often is) but not ‘bullying’ and not ‘harassment’. Do you understand the difference between criticism and bullying and harassment, Simon? Moreover, I am responsible for what I say. So is Melody. If you want to take me to turn for anything I’ve said, go ahead. I’ll do the same for you and Melody.

80 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Sorry, John. My point was about my discipline. In academic philosophy it is pretty unacceptable (bad form) to attack a person instead of the content of his/her argument. It’s a logical fallacy at best.

Isn’t that a good standard? Yes, there are circumstances when attacking a person or his/her character might be relevant, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here, does it?

81 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Ess Bee:

Dude, seriously? *NO* side on this has even the slightest moral high ground to complain about OMG PERSONAL ATTACKS. In fact, your first reply to me had *nothing* to do with my content. It was a dismissive ad hom that was based on my lack of “reading comprehension”. Here, in case you forgot:

I didn’t label ‘all’ criticism of Ms. Hensley as hateful. I’m simply addressing the ‘criticism’ that *has been* hateful. Reading comprehension, try it.

Spare me the “Where I come from, our criticism is always polite, reasoned, and never personal”. The attacks on people who disagree with Melody/Simon/FTB/A+/Skepchicks et al is *exactly* and every bit as vicious as the attacks you all complain about.

Case in point, the personal attack the Vaunted Ms. Hensley made against Sara Mayhew with help from Amy Davis Roth:

http://www.saramayhew.com/blog/index.php/2012/09/i-am-not-a-skepchick/

Yeah. That was an argument against points sara had made. No WAY that could be personal.

If you and yours are going to “require” a certain standard of behavior from others, you might want to try at least *occasionally* meeting said standard yourselves.

82 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Ess Bee,

Fair enough, and I agree. It’s generally frowned upon to attack the person rather than the argument.

That rubric seems to break down when things like YouTube flagging campaigns ensue. When Melody asked her friends to flag the video as “bullying,” she attacked the person rather than respond to the argument herself.

The practice of preemptively blocking people because they might say something to you in the future with which you disagree or conducting a flagging campaign on a video because the person was being mildly mean to you is an anathema in these social circles. Melody has been around for more than awhile. She should know this.

It strikes me as just a bit more than hypocritical when atheists gleefully attack creationists with the most pointed language available but can’t seem to take the same language back in kind. It also strikes me as ironic that these blocking and flagging campaigns used to be almost fully in the realm of creationists.

Regardless of what was said to her, Melody is in the wrong, here. She certainly has the right to block whomever she wishes. She certainly has the right (in a legal sense) to go on any flagging crusade she wishes.

She does not have the right, however, to not live with the consequences of her actions. She’s holds a prominent position in the atheist community and she has been acting like a typical creationist in response to criticism.

People notice that.

83 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm

And Pitchguest, it’s really not quote-mining when you’re still in the same conversation as the original quote. Her actions are not ‘abhorrent’ as a secularist leader is what I meant. Let’s be charitable here.

Yes, it is. If Richard Dawkins would use his position to organise a flagging campaign (or flagging campaigns) against persons he doesn’t like who’ve said some hurtful things about him, or just videos he doesn’t like in general, you wouldn’t consider that to be abhorrent? Was it Melody’s intent to become a ‘leader’ of a secularist organisation so that if whenever a person she doesn’t like makes a video she doesn’t approve, she could use her authority (in numbers) to shut it down? It’s appalling behaviour, uncalled for, even if the recipient of her malice called her a ‘twat.’ As I said, she should grow a thicker skin.

Oh, and let’s not be charitable. It was an obvious quote-mine. Ironically in the same vein as Michael’s and it would have remained so if I hadn’t pointed it out. And if you think my criticism of Melody to be “childish, aggressive [and] hateful” then you should turn your computer off and go outside. You need a reality check.

84 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Pitchguest and John Welch, I guess we’ve said everything we have to say. Maybe I’m undereducated about when it is appropriate to flag a video on youtube. I just looked it up, and the guidelines are ambiguous (as these things always tend to be). Ms. Hensley seems (according to said guidelines) well within her right to flag the video she did. And you don’t get to be the arbitrator of how thick one’s skin ought to be. I’m done with the accusations of ‘quote-mining’. It’s serious baloney.

John Brown,

I agree with most of what you say. We all need to take responsibility and recognize that there are consequences to our actions, especially if we hold public positions. I suppose my original point was that I personally find the cussing, character assassination and pettiness of the ‘criticism’ rather distasteful and beneath so-called ‘rationalists’. I wouldn’t want to align myself with such nonsense, and have a hard time understanding why a reasonable person would. Thanks for being civil!

85 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

And because it seems relevant, youtube’s flagging terms:
http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=78716

Flagging term

We’ve given our definitions of YouTube’s flagging terms below:

Graphic sexual activity
“Graphic sexual activity” describes content which contains actual visible or implied sex acts.
Nudity
“Nudity” refers to exposed or see-through coverage of areas typically covered by a bathing suit or underwear. Sometimes nudity is allowed on YouTube, depending on the context.
Suggestive, but without nudity
“Suggestive” content refers to materials with sexual themes that do not necessarily depict sexual activity or nudity. Sexually suggestive content may not be suitable for all audiences and may include fetish-related content.
Shocking or disgusting content
“Shocking or disgusting content” refers to disturbing imagery, such as graphic depictions of violence, accidents or gore, which lack an appropriate context.
Promotes hatred or violence against a protected group
Hate speech is content that promotes or encourages hatred or violence towards a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity.
Harmful dangerous acts
“Harmful dangerous acts” may include content which depicts behaviour likely to cause serious injury or death to a third party.

86 Simon January 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm

So Pitchguest, since you are so concerned, would you also use the terms “malice”, “abhorrent”, and “apalling” to refer to Wooly’s first video given that she had -by her own admission- never even heard of Melody?

87 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm

You’re being disingenuous, Simon.

Pitchguest said that Melody’s behavior was abhorrent *because* she is the leader of a secularist organization who happens to have a large following in some social circles.

If you’re comparing like with like, then you must admit that Wooly is not, in fact, a leader of a secularist organization.

We tend to hold leaders of organizations up to higher standards of conduct than lay people.

I thought Pitchguest made that perfectly clear when he used Dawkins as an example.

Stop being willfully obstinate about this. It makes you look foolish.

88 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

It’s even worse when it’s fairly obvious Melody is using the influence and reach her position gives her to promote such things. She only recently added the “Tweets not endorsed by CFI” tag to her account, and still explicitly uses that title on her twitter page.

Endorsed by CFI or not, that still comes across as the ED of CFI-DC talking, which is not good given the personal attacks she’s engaged in, against folks like Sara Mayhew. If you’re going to be in charge of a group, and have an active social media presence AS the head of that group, then either accept that the things you say will be taken as representative of that group, or set up separate personal accounts that make a clear demarc between your professional and personal lives.

Even then, once you get to a certain point, that demarc becomes nonexistent. Ask any president of the US about that.

89 Simon January 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Oh, so now you’re holding Melody to a higher standard because she is a “leader of a secularist organization”.

I suppose you are correct that Melody would never make a video calling a perfect stranger a “twat”, “douchebag feminist”, etc. And she especially would not do so when soliciting donations for her organization.

Perhaps this is a good lesson for Wooly as she leads her own non-profit organization: http://www.avoiceforboys.com/about-us

90 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Yes Simon we are. It’s part of being in charge. When you are placed in a position of leadership, you have to play by different rules. Your (dis)like of this matters not a whit, and it wouldn’t matter if she was in charge of CFI or the local grocery store.

When you are in charge, the things you say are taken to represent the organization you are in charge of. She is in charge or damned close, of CFI DC. That means that when she takes cheap shots at people like Sara Mayhew, or organizes campaigns to shut down people she dislikes, it has a *completely* different meaning than someone who is *not* in charge of an organization. If she dislikes this fact, then she should consider stepping down to a non-leadership role at CFI, or taking another non-leadership position elsewhere. But until then, she’s in that position, and expected to meet higher standards than the rank and file. Welcome to reality.

And, if the things Wooly says cause problems for her organization, then I would tell her the same things. She’s in charge, what she says carries weight. If that’s not acceptable, then *she* should consider stepping down as well.

What you want of course, is to have it both ways. You want Melody to have this leadership position, but have it never count in the things she says unless *she* says it does. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Nor has it ever. She wanted that job, then she gets all of it, including the inconvenient bits.

91 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Stop obfuscating, Simon.

Melody is the leader of a secularist organization. As such, she has clout, influence, and a large following. She is using that clout, influence, and large following to silence people who say things about her which she finds offensive.

That is abhorrent behavior.

She would have done infinitely better had she just replied in kind and called Wolly a “double twat with icing on top,” or just ignored it.

But, she didn’t do that.

Regardless of this flagging campaign, Melody didn’t come across my radar until she tweeted this to Sara Mayhew in response to something which had nothing to do with her:

“Hey, I can get more attention, speaking gigs, and the boys will like me if I keep ragging on Skepchicks!”

That tweet came from Melody Hensley, CFI-DC Director.

Apart from being a horribly offensive and sexist thing to say, she said it as the CFI-DC Director.

She should grow the fuck up, genuinely apologize and move on.

What does she do instead? That tweet goes down the memory hole, and she doubles down.

She creates the weather and then complains because it’s raining. And, you are doing her no favors with your sycophantic, co-dependent behavior regarding all of this.

You come across as utterly foolish, fatuous, and deeply, deeply dogmatic.

92 Simon January 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Welch: I agree that with leadership comes responsibility. And your current public obsession with my wife and other women in the movement probably won’t be very helpful to you as you try to enter the speaker circuit.

And Melody’s personal twitter account has had a disclaimer about CFI for as long as I can remember. You are wrong that this is “recent”

And, if the things Wooly says cause problems for her organization, then I would tell her the same things. She’s in charge, what she says carries weight. If that’s not acceptable, then *she* should consider stepping down as well.

OK, can you point to at least a single public communication you have made with Wooly telling her that calling women she’s never met on youtube is inappropriate for the “President & Site Designer” of A Voice For Boys?: http://www.avoiceforboys.com/about-us

Brown:

She is using that clout, influence, and large following to silence people who say things about her which she finds offensive.

Name one person Melody has “silenced”.

She would have done infinitely better had she just replied in kind and called Wolly a “double twat with icing on top,”

So the only two options Melody had were to either 1) make a video calling Wooly a twat or 2) not feed the troll.

Melody didn’t come across my radar until she tweeted this to Sara Mayhew in response to something which had nothing to do with her:

She creates the weather and then complains because it’s raining. And, you are doing her no favors with your sycophantic, co-dependent behavior regarding all of this.

Now we’re getting to the bottom of this. A tweet from last September is what put her on your “radar” and four months later your are still upset. Apparently the letter writing campaign to the CEO wasn’t enough. Since you felt so strongly at the time, did you also write one?

93 John Brown January 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

“Now we’re getting to the bottom of this. A tweet from last September is what put her on your “radar” and four months later your are still upset. Apparently the letter writing campaign to the CEO wasn’t enough. Since you felt so strongly at the time, did you also write one?”

Actually, I’m not upset at all. I don’t know Melody from Eve. I’ve never tweeted at her. I’ve probably only mentioned her two or three times in conversation over the past 5 months.

So, I will invite you to stop trying to project this back at me, Simon. It’s not going to work. You’ve done everything in your power to obfuscate and deflect during this discussion. This isn’t about me. This is about Melody, and to a lesser extent, you.

Melody used her position as Director of CFI-DC to flag a video of someone she dislikes because they said something “mean” to her. There is also very good evidence that she is responsible for flagging Twitter accounts as spam owned by people whom she doesn’t like.

Add that to her preemptively blocking people because they are “following the wrong people,” and you have someone who is wholly incapable of leading herself out of a paper bag, much less leading a secularist organization.

In case the irony has escaped you (and I suspect it has, because you are coming across as rather dim in this conversation), secularist and skeptical organizations are supposed to take pride in engaging in a free exchange of ideas.

Orchestrating a flagging campaign against an individual who said something mean to them is pretty much the antithesis of a free exchange of ideas. When said flagging campaign is orchestrated by the leader of a secularist organization the intended effect is to silence the person being flagged. QED.

Now, I’m growing rather bored with you, Simon. Either step up your game a bit and flex that mass between your ears or fall back on the same cheap rhetorical flourishes and obfuscations. It’s completely your choice, but every time you type something out, people are actually reading what you’re saying.

Knowing that, I’m starting to feel quite embarrassed for you.

In short. Grow up, man.

94 Dirty Eric January 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm

centreforenquiry.net Campaign for Free Expression.
[....]“Despite what many would have us believe, the right to freedom of expression is not a luxury valued mainly by Western elites but a widely accepted, foundational principle…No person should face social or legal punishment simply for speaking about his or her beliefs in public. And no topic should be off limits”
[...]On this page you will find a collection of different ways in which you can take action…please remember to mention the Center for Inquiry and the Campaign for Free Expression!”

Consider just a few recent examples:
In Pakistan, a Christian mother of five has been sentenced to death for allegedly making derogatory comments about Muhammad.
.
In Saudi Arabia, a twenty-three-year-old poet faces the death penalty for posting on Twitter satirical commentary on the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
.
In Washington DC a secular leader and proponent of free expression saw a video on Youtube that contained some words she didn’t like.
Fortunately, her friends recognised the danger and acted quickly in an attempt to make it go away.

95 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Simon @92:

Welch: I agree that with leadership comes responsibility. And your current public obsession with my wife and other women in the movement probably won’t be very helpful to you as you try to enter the speaker circuit.

Bless your heart. Bless your precious ignorant heart. It’s cute you think that I’m trying to “enter” the speaker circuit. I’ve idly toyed with the idea of submitting a session to certain events, none of which are CFI controlled mind you. But I’ve actually been regularly speaking since oh, 1999. Just not on the skeptic “circuit”. Also written or helped write three books, numerous magazine articles, etc. But it’s cute you think I’ve somehow been pining away about being a speaker.

Also, obsession? really? Um…you flatter both of you overmuch. She’s done and said some really stupid things. So has everyone in their lives. The difference is, she’s done many of them as the head of an organization that seems, nominally, to be somewhat against stupidity, and when caught out, doesn’t apologize, but either attempts to hide it, or justify it. Good job there.

And Melody’s personal twitter account has had a disclaimer about CFI for as long as I can remember. You are wrong that this is “recent”

In that you’re correct. I was actually wrong about that. I apologize for that mistake.

(see how easy that can be?)

OK, can you point to at least a single public communication you have made with Wooly telling her that calling women she’s never met on youtube is inappropriate for the “President & Site Designer” of A Voice For Boys?: http://www.avoiceforboys.com/about-us

The same number I’ve made directly to melody telling her how to behave: zero. But then again, I don’t see Wooly telling all her friends to try to shut down inconvenient youtube accounts, nor do I see her telling people that if they follow the wrong people, they’ll be shunned. You show me where Wooly’s telling people to shut down either Melody’s social accounts by false claims, or the CFI accounts, and I will absolutely take Wooly to task over it.

Say, did melody ever apologize for that sexist cheap shot at Sara? Let’s see, google: melody hensley apology sara mayhew

Nope. But we do see where Ron Lindsay disavowed her statement, and Melody deleted her tweet sans apology. Oh, and a later tweet where Melody said sara has “crazy MRA followers”. http://www.saramayhew.com/blog/index.php/2012/09/cfi-responds-melody-hensley/

complete with screencaps. On another site talking about this reprehensible behavior, http://athmorality.blogspot.com/2012/09/feminists-attacking-women.html Melody DOES reply…and tries to wiggle out of what she said:

MelodySeptember 8, 2012 10:55 PM
The quote you used is out of context so… way to go! I had plenty to say to Sara, but that was a general comment I made about some anti-feminist women trying to gain favor with misogynist men. I had even direct messaged the comment earlier to Amy before Sara joined the conversation. You should know what you are talking about before trying to discredit someone. I look forward to hearing from you.

Funny, if she said nothing wrong, why delete the tweet. Oh, and there’s the personal attack about sara’s “crazy mra followers”. Good job.

So the only two options Melody had were to either 1) make a video calling Wooly a twat or 2) not feed the troll.

No, she had a third option. How’s that worked out for her and CFI?

Not feeding a troll is in fact a response, and a fairly sane once. Did ANYONE *make* you or melody watch the video? They forced you to? How?

We all know the answer. No one. You chose to watch, and you chose to respond the way you have. Well, that’s your choice, and your right, but spare the world your drama about people not reacting well to attempts to silence disagreement. The fact that to date, you’ve failed, only shows that at least someone has some sanity.

Again Simon, you act as if you HAVE to go to someone’s website. No. You don’t. In fact, it’s actually not a bad way to handle things. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of folks saying unkind things about me out there. The difference is, I don’t care. I can’t make anyone like me, nor do I expect to. If you want to say unkind things about me, be my guest. It’s not going to make me upset. If you show some heretofore undemonstrated skill at raconteury, it might even amuse me. My friends and I like a good rant, they can be fun. I’m not expecting particular skill from you there, you’ve not shown me any here thus far.

Now we’re getting to the bottom of this. A tweet from last September is what put her on your “radar” and four months later your are still upset. Apparently the letter writing campaign to the CEO wasn’t enough. Since you felt so strongly at the time, did you also write one?

I can’t speak for brown, but I didn’t. Melody is unlikely to change her hypocritical behavior because of external disapproval. Most people don’t change because of that. The normal reaction is to double down on the behavior and defend it unto the gates of the hell you don’t believe in. The fact she couldn’t be arsed to apologize to sara shows that. So i don’t see the point. Melody may do great work for CFI, I neither know nor, to be honest, care. But her social media personality is not doing them any favors.

96 Pitchguest January 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

To Simon: Yes! Usually we do consider people in leadership positions to be, well, better than your average person. Would you for instance consider the abuse of power of a police officer to be appropriate? No! Because police officers are held in higher regard and held up to higher standards than most folk, and therefore shouldn’t be judged with the same merits. Melody is the CFI Executive Director of DC, and you wouldn’t expect a woman of her credentials to take part in a false flagging campaign just because a person she doesn’t like made a video she doesn’t approve of – and called her a ‘twat’. As a person in a leadership position, as a person held up to higher standards (as John Brown rightly says); you just don’t do that!

As for what Wooly says on her YouTube channel, and I know this will be hard for you to believe, I don’t give a fuck. She’s not in a position of power (as Melody is), she’s not held to the same standard Melody is and she has every right to speak – her – mind. And so does Melody for that matter, and you know what? Had Melody simply written a blog post or made a video where she disagrees with Wooly, but didn’t call for her supporters to commit to a false-flagging campaign, I wouldn’t have given two shits about it. The video, however, predicates from Melody’s announcement to block people that hadn’t even talked to her, but blocking them merely due to their association, or that they had at one point criticised a person she liked. That is, also, for someone in a leadership position, fucking appalling.

97 dave January 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm

One of my favorite arguments for free speech ends with Hitchens’ asking the question: “Who would want to be a censor?” Well, now we know. It’s really disappointing that it turned out to be the self-proclaimed free-thinkers who would be the first to place themselves above criticism.

98 John C. Welch January 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Thinking about this, it’s pretty clear Simon doesn’t do a lot of thinking past his emotions. For example this:

Welch: I agree that with leadership comes responsibility. And your current public obsession with my wife and other women in the movement probably won’t be very helpful to you as you try to enter the speaker circuit.

Assuming I was actually attempting to do this, I could pretty easily take this as Simon threatening to use his relationship with the ED of CFI-DC to blacklist me unless I started behaving in a way he approves of. I’d say it’s pretty clear in fact. I’m sure Simon didn’t think of the implications of his relationship when he made that (thinly) veiled threat, but it’s there nonetheless.

So tell me simon, how many people do you have Melody blacklist because you dislike them? Is the personal approval of the Hensleys now a requirement to “enter the speaker circuit”? Do you begin to see any of what Pitchguest, John B. and I are talking about, or are we just bad people so nothing we say has value still?

99 EllenBeth Wachs January 5, 2013 at 12:25 am

Melody did not use her CFI position to request people flag that video. Did she send out press releases on CFI letterhead? Did she send a tweet through the CFI twitter account or use the CFI facebook page to send messages? If you are going to make that allegation, I would suggest you provide some evidence to back it up aside from the assertion that she is the ED of the DC branch.

She is free to pre-emptively block anyone and everyone she chooses to on twitter. She can make her account private. She doesn’t even need to have a twitter account. Simply because she does have one doesn’t mean she has to listen to everyone.

100 Ess Bee January 5, 2013 at 12:26 am

Give me a break, John. Simon was obviously not making any such threat and you are just trying to escalate this already ridiculous conversation. It’s clear from the context that he meant that a person’s bad behavior will serve to bar them from professional opportunities. No one has to orchestrate and connive this, it’s a simple rule of networking and engaging in public professional relationships.

We’re all skeptics committed to rationality and sound argumentation. I’d like to believe we all want the same thing (a positive, productive and welcoming skeptical community). So instead of continuing to generate problems and petty disagreements why not focus on solutions?

101 John Brown January 5, 2013 at 1:04 am

“Melody did not use her CFI position to request people flag that video. Did she send out press releases on CFI letterhead? Did she send a tweet through the CFI twitter account or use the CFI facebook page to send messages?”

Nobody has made the allegation that she used her CFI position to request people flag that video, you nitwit. This isn’t your own personal safe-space where you get to ban anyone with discenting opinions, so I’m going to have to insist that if you want to take part in this conversation, that you address the points being made rather than just making shit up in your head.

Melody is the head of a secularist organization. She orchestrated a flagging campaign to shut down a video where someone said something mean about her. Though she didn’t do that in an “official capacity,” she did it nonetheless in the realm of her leadership position. She wouldn’t have nearly the clout or following she has if she weren’t the leader of a secularist organization.

That’s all besides the point. For the head of a secularist organization to act like that is appalling.

“If you are going to make that allegation, I would suggest you provide some evidence to back it up aside from the assertion that she is the ED of the DC branch.”

I would be happy to provide evidence if I weren’t responding to a fantasy you just made up whole-cloth. It was a nice rhetorical trick. Very lawyerly of you, but you’re not half as clever as you think you are.

“She is free to pre-emptively block anyone and everyone she chooses to on twitter. She can make her account private. She doesn’t even need to have a twitter account. Simply because she does have one doesn’t mean she has to listen to everyone.”

Nobody said otherwise, jackass.

What’s being said here is there is a very clear law of cause and effect. One is free to wander out into traffic at a crosswalk without looking both ways as well. That doesn’t mean that one is free to defy the laws of physics when a car plows into them.

I get the sense that Melody was rather taken aback by the whole response to her original tweet to Sara Mayhew. I get the sense that she was more taken aback by the response to her preemptive blocking and flagging campaign.

If so, it demonstrates a deep lack of maturity on her part as any right thinking person could easily predict what the consequences of those actions might be, especially when done in a skeptical community.

Try again, EllenBeth.

102 Michael Nugent January 5, 2013 at 1:20 am

John Brown,

Can you please make your points on this website without telling other commenters that they are disingenuous, that they are dim, that they are psycophantic, that you are growing bored with them, that you are embarrassed for them, that they should grow up, that they are a nitwit, that they are a jackass etc.

Thanks.

103 John Brown January 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

Sure thing, Michael. As it’s your board and I have little interest in restraining myself to those rules, I’ll refrain from commenting.

104 EllenBeth Wachs January 5, 2013 at 1:44 am

I don’t need to try again, Mr. Brown.

Post#82 John Brown said,
“The practice of preemptively blocking people because they might say something to you in the future with which you disagree or conducting a flagging campaign on a video because the person was being mildly mean to you is an anathema in these social circles.” Melody has been around for more than awhile. She should know this.

Post #93 John Brown said,
“Melody used her position as Director of CFI-DC to flag a video of someone she dislikes because they said something “mean” to her. There is also very good evidence that she is responsible for flagging Twitter accounts as spam owned by people whom she doesn’t like.”

and btw, I don’t have children, lol. Try a different tactic.

105 Michael Nugent January 5, 2013 at 1:48 am

Thanks, John. I hope you’ll reconsider refraining from commenting, because I think the discussion is useful.

106 John Brown January 5, 2013 at 1:58 am

Yes. Melody used her position to orchestrate a flagging campaign.

That is, she drew upon the following she enjoys because of her position to do her bidding. As the video in question was addressing her leadership role, and she has a habit of tweeting things under the profile: Melody Hensley, Director CFI-DC, I would think that that would be obvious.

One can use their position to do something without acting in an official capacity.

Which is still beside the point. It is abhorrent behavior to engage in if you are the leader of a secular organization which promotes the free exchange of ideas wherein nobody should be socially or legally punished for the views they hold.

She is free to do as she wishes. She is not free to avoid the consequences of her actions, however. Only people who deny reality would believe in that kind of freedom.

107 Pitchguest January 5, 2013 at 2:09 am

I wish you would consider making another blog post detailing the harassment and bullying from the other side of the aisle, Michael. Maybe one to do with the petition to joust Justin Vacula from his position in Secular Coalition?

I’ll be willing to give you some suggestions on the subjects you could bring up should you choose to make that kind of blog post. Of course, it would only be prudent if you do, since not making one would make you seem awfully partisan and subjective. Looking forward to that day with baited breath. Cheers.

108 John C. Welch January 5, 2013 at 4:36 am

EB @ 99:

Melody did not use her CFI position to request people flag that video. Did she send out press releases on CFI letterhead? Did she send a tweet through the CFI twitter account or use the CFI facebook page to send messages? If you are going to make that allegation, I would suggest you provide some evidence to back it up aside from the assertion that she is the ED of the DC branch.

That’s a rather disingenuous trick. It’s well-established that someone. In a leadership position, especially one sufficiently high up is assumed to be speaking for that organization. If either Barack Obama or John Boehner had called Sara Mayhew a chill girl, it would be “OMG the president/speaker of the House called Sara a chill girl!” Even if they had separate twitter accounts, that would be the case. Once you reach a certain level in any org, you become inseparable from the position. Fair or not, that is how it goes. Even if you aren’t using company stationary.

Ess Bee@100:

Give me a break, John. Simon was obviously not making any such threat and you are just trying to escalate this already ridiculous conversation. It’s clear from the context that he meant that a person’s bad behavior will serve to bar them from professional opportunities. No one has to orchestrate and connive this, it’s a simple rule of networking and engaging in public professional relationships.

We’re all skeptics committed to rationality and sound argumentation. I’d like to believe we all want the same thing (a positive, productive and welcoming skeptical community). So instead of continuing to generate problems and petty disagreements why not focus on solutions?

Given that Simon pretty much did the exact same thing to me you accuse me of doing to him, with his statements that I was planning to start a false flagging campaign against melody/CFI/etc., I find it curious that you evidently had no problem with his statements. Funny that. Unsurprising, but amusing.

Why is it you only are so very concerned with tone in one direction. Melody makes personal attacks against people like Sara Mayhew, hardly an example of focusing on solutions, you seem to be okay with that. Simon falsely accuses me of planning a false flagging campaign against Melody, you’re fine with that as well. But, the slightest implication of malfeasance against Simon, and well, that’s not acceptable?

This is what has pissed people off so badly. It’s attacking people from a podium, then dismissing their feelings, as was done to Stef McGraw. It’s a very lame attempt to associate all who aren’t on the side of skepchicks/PZ Myers as being the same as Marc Lepine, as done by PZ Myers, or the stalking of Abbie Smith and emails to her employer by Greg laden, or PZ demanding that people from the slymepit respond to his post, even thought he immediately bans all commenters known to post there…all the while you and the rest say, and do *nothing*. Greg Laden explicitly threatens someone in no uncertain terms, and not only do people not condemn it, but for the most part, they *laud* his actions, they praise him for trying to “wake him up with a Patton slap”.

Simon makes the most inane accusations here and you’re all crickets and silence. I say something that I admit is hyperbole, and oh no, you have to call me out? How are MY words bad and HIS words good when they’re both equal examples of hyperbole and exaggeration?

We know the answer to this: you are on Simon’s “side” and not mine. This has nothing to do with a defense of rationality and everything to do with you defending someone on your side, if not someone who is a friend/acquaintance of yours. I have no real problem with it, but the attempt to disguise it as something else reeks of intellectual dishonesty.

What might help is to halt the pretense of how being skeptics makes you, as a group, any better than any other group. From what i’ve seen over the last few years, not only is it not true now, it never was true, and maybe you should stop lying to yourselves.

109 Simon January 5, 2013 at 5:01 am

The difference being that Mayhew and her friends (at least one of which is on the slymepit) actually have done a letter writing campaign against Melody already.

Wooly and her friends have made multiple videos about Melody

Melody’s protected tweets have been published on more than one site (and Wooly is wrong that her account was protected for “like five minutes”, it was several weeks).

So yes, given this history people have reason to be worried about further escalations.

110 John C. Welch January 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

The difference being that Mayhew and her friends (at least one of which is on the slymepit) actually have done a letter writing campaign against Melody already.

Before or after melody’s cheap attack on Sara? Timelines are important here.

Wooly and her friends have made multiple videos about Melody

How many of them were you forced to watch? How many of them did you have no way of avoiding?

Melody’s protected tweets have been published on more than one site (and Wooly is wrong that her account was protected for “like five minutes”, it was several weeks).

Given the number of private Facebook posts I’ve seen your lot screenshotting and displaying in public to cause people problems, I have exactly zero sympathy for that same tactic being turned on you. But I applaud your consistency in the “it’s okay when WE do it, it’s only bad when YOU do it” fallacy. Rock on with the six-year-old logic.

So yes, given this history people have reason to be worried about further escalations

Funny how everything you complain about has been done by someone on your side of this as well. Your first point is a favored tactic by your buds laden and zvan. Ask Abbie Smith and Justin Vacula about it.

You don’t get to cry poor, poor, me when your hands are just as covered in (metaphorical) blood as the people you denounce. If you want the high ground, change your fucking tactics to the ones you demand others use. If you cannot be bothered to live up to your own standards, why should anyone else live up to them.

It’s really easy. If you don’t like personal attacks, then don’t engage in them. Ever.

If you think fucking with someone’s job is wrong, then don’t do so yourself.

Etc. and if you see someone on your “side” doing these things, tell them to knock it off. If they won’t, then publicly distance yourself from them.

But as long as you’re going to approve of the same tactics used in your favor that you complain about being used against you, then you’re a hypocritical ass who should be either ignored or mocked.

111 Simon January 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Funny how everything you complain about has been done by someone on your side of this as well. Your first point is a favored tactic by your buds laden and zvan. Ask Abbie Smith and Justin Vacula about it.

Nope, sorry. There was no coordinated letter writing campaign against either for their actual paying jobs. To my knowledge, Laden acted solo and he didn’t publish his letter for the world to see and follow along as he was doing it (or the response, as Mayhew did), which also makes it harder to verify if in fact he was trying to get Smith fired. Vacula’s gig with SCA was volunteer as far as I know.

Furthermore, at least someone like Jen McCreight (as one example of someone who published a screencap that I can recall) does so under her real name, not under the cover of anonymity. And she certainly didn’t do it after repeatedly just an FU to creep her out. She was making an actual argument.

How many of them were you forced to watch? How many of them did you have no way of avoiding?

I do know that Melody got calls from random people she hadn’t heard from in a while that saw the videos and were genuinely concerned for her and that aren’t subscribers to the respective authors channels. So yes, don’t pretend like the videos were made only for the creators and their buddies, they were public for a reason.

And last but not least, we don’t operate a forum that includes multiple contributors to a what the SPLC has termed a hate site and kvetch about certain specific individuals nonstop (and with very little else being discussed) for the past year and a half.

112 John C. Welch January 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Everything Simon has said her, only more honest:

“If our side does it, it is always, always right. If anyone disagrees with us, they are wrong, and everything they do is wrong.”

It’s nice to see you subscribe to the tenets of Scientology, specifically Supressive Persons and Fair Game.

You bend over backwards to claim it was okay for laden et al to mount a campaign to have Abbie censured not only by SciBlogs, but by her job, and yet when it happened to melody, it was so horribly wrong.

You claim it’s okay for your side to repost private conversations because you “do it under your own name” and you’re “making a point”, because no one disagreeing with you could possibly have a point to make. After all, they’re SPs, and by definition, SPs are wrong and always bad.

On and on Simon. Whatever you do is right, whatever people you dislike do is wrong, even when it’s the exact same thing. Guilt by association? You’re all in favor of that, unless the theists pull it on you via Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot. Then it’s a horrrrrrribly dishonest tactic that should be condemned.

The blood on your handsis always justified, isn’t it. L. Ron Hubbard would be proud.

113 Henry Plankett January 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm

OK, I think I get it, Simon. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Melody Hensley is a goddess, above and beyond any and all criticism. Any criticism of her is a sin and blasphemy and you will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity for doing so.

Seriously Simon, is making videos about Melody somehow illegal now? Is calling her out for bad behavior harassment?

I get that she’s your wife and therefore, the apple of your eye, but she’s not perfect. She has some fault in all of this too. Denying that is just sticking your head in the sand.

114 Pitchguest January 6, 2013 at 8:17 am

Since you may the only person in the world right now who can give Melody a stern talking to, Simon, what the fuck is this shit?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=UrL9KrVfboI

Melody contacts Mykeru and makes a thinly veiled threat to contact his employers and when he responds, she has the audacity to claim victim status? What is wrong with your wife, dude? For fuck’s sake, Simon, you nincompoop; you can get fired for that stuff! She’s treading on some very thin fucking ice. Sort it – the fuck – out.

115 Pitchguest January 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

Also, before you play stupid, Melody had blocked Mykeru before this happened. I know this because it’s documented on the ‘pit, and moreover her announcement to block people who would ever potentially, or whoever she believed would, criticise her in any way would do well to put that assertion in the affirmative.

Which means that she purposely unblocked Mykeru only to threaten him, and then claim harassment when he responded. Such an underhanded and slimy tactic. This is what we need from an Executive Director of CFI? I can’t quite put it to words. All I know is it disgusts me.

116 Simon January 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Which means that she purposely unblocked Mykeru

Wrong-nobody was unblocked. The twitter web interface often shows mentions even from people you block. Vacula asked the same thing and got back a response but I guess he didn’t report back to everyone.

Sometimes the truth is not so nefarious. You should try giving people the benefit of the doubt.

117 Pitchguest January 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Yes, Simon, do focus on that part of the message instead of the part where she threatened to contact Mykeru’s employers. Good to know you have your priorities straight.

*slowly puts both hands on face*

118 Henry Plankett January 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Pitchguest, if you’ll notice, Simon didn’t say anything about my comment. Hence, he agrees that Melody is a god and therefore above any criticism whatsoever.

119 John C. Welch January 7, 2013 at 2:01 am

simon@116:

Sometimes the truth is not so nefarious. You should try giving people the benefit of the doubt.

BAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA…

wait, you said this, and weren’t immediately struck by lightning, nor swallowed by the earth and cast into a pit of eternal fire?

YOU HAVE PROVEN THERE IS NEITHER GOD NOR DEVIL!!!

BAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHAHAAHA

I daresay you could not be more of a hypocrite if you tried.

120 oolon January 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Looks like John has given up on the “long threads” and having to argue with “douchebags” and has fallen back on his troll manifesto to the Slymepitters –
http://dissentionisnothate.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/how-to-take-down-new-media-douchebags-like-rebecca-watson/

TL;DR for his link would be; don’t bother engaging in rational debate just fling poo and liken your opponents to creationists.

I wonder why so many people don’t take the Slymepit and its denizens seriously /sarcasm.

121 noelplum99 January 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Oolon,

Entirely unrelated to what you just wrote but I wanted to ask you something. I say this particularly because I know we have both occasionally been accused of ‘fence sitting’ or not sufficiently piucking sides. However, I like to think I have at least been explicitly clear what my position actually is and what it is i take issue with.

So what i wondered is if there is anywhere i could find out what it is YOU actually believe? I must have read upwards of fifty comments of yours here there and everywhere and yet it occured to me last night (reading your comments in the Justin Vacula thread on the A+ hate group forum) that I haven’t even the slightests idea what your actual position is on any of these issues.
Please Oolon, there is no aggressive intent in this comment, nor really any specific criticism, i just saw your comment come up here on an email alert and i thought this would be a good time to ask you.

Jim.

122 John C. Welch January 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Oh oolon, are you sad that i wasn’t playing your game on my site? Did you feel sad? I bet you felt sad. That comment reeks of sad. Are you sad Oolon?

Noelplum:

Oolon fancies himself smarter than anyone, and the master trollz0r. He’s a well-defined script that he uses in every situation. If he replies to you, it will be overlong and somewhat rambling about how he only cares about the truth, and speaking the truth to power and how he single handedly was the only one taking the piss out of the puffed up ‘pit.

123 A Hermit January 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I hang up on annoying telemarketers all the time. Does that mean I’m censoring them?

Honestly, the idea that blocking people on Twitter is some kind of violation of their rights is completely absurd. I can’t believe I;m seeing people who call themselves skeptics and rationalists pulling this shit.

124 Cian February 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Michael would it be possible at all for you to look into the treatment of people on both sides of this great rift?
This site like others gives me the worrying impression that there is a small group of righteous ones who are being harassed and that the rest of the community are after all ( not just atheists and skeptics with differing views ) but misogynists, rape enablers, sister punishers and many other new terms i have learnt in the last few months. Misogynists like Richard Dawkins, Paula Kirby, Michael Shermer, Harriet Hall, Sara Mayhew, Russell Blackford, Jeremy Stangroom, D.J. Grothe, Benjamin Radford, Penn Gillette, James Onen … etc …
Who new that only a small few of our “movement” were actually not raving sexits?
If the people above are not actually misogynists, would you not call their treatment harassment? Would you not call Rebecca Watsons appeal to boycott the work of Dawkins a form of harassment? If not why not?

Have you seen the behavior of Melody Hensley and Amy Roth ( and Rebecca Watson ) in relation to fellow skeptic and artist Sara Mayhew? She disagreed with Rebecca Watsons humiliation of young student ( who committed the capital crime of disagreeing with her ) in front of her peers. Since then she has been called “the dumbest person oj the twitter” and someone who only wants the affection of men.

I would love to see Hensleys response if he sbhe was n te othr foot.

Well done on the retraction by the way. There is more of that needed :)

125 Geraldo September 21, 2014 at 4:40 am

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