Why atheist and skeptic groups should be inclusive, caring and supportive, and 25 next steps to help this to happen

by Michael Nugent on March 8, 2013

I’ve published some reflections on the recent dialogue here.

I am now too close to the dialogue to be able to objectively evaluate it, so I am going to republish here a post that I wrote seven months ago, in July 2012, titled ‘Why atheist and skeptic groups should be inclusive, caring and supportive.’

This captures the spirit in which I am trying to approach this dialogue, based on my analysis of the situation long before the dialogue started, and I am going to reflect on it before I make my next contribution.

Why atheist and skeptic groups should be inclusive, caring and supportive

first published 26 July 2012

Since we hosted last year’s World Atheist Convention in Dublin, there have been escalating online debates about sexism, harassment and bullying in the international atheist and skeptical communities. Good people including friends who I respect, who have expressed different opinions about these issues, have been victims of unfair personal attacks, based on distortions of what they have said or written or represent.

This escalating hostility is now an extra problem on top of the problems that triggered the debates. It hurts people and makes them feel alienated or ostracized or fearful. And it makes it harder for us to work together where we agree, to discuss things reasonably where we disagree, and to address the underlying problems that triggered the hostility. We can and we must reverse this hostility, starting by tackling issues not attacking people.

As atheists and skeptics we should focus on the core issues that unite us, which are atheism and skepticism, where we have literally endless work to do promoting reason and secularism in society. And as ethical atheists and skeptics, we should work together to make our communities inclusive and caring and supportive. This includes actively tackling prejudice and discrimination, and also harassment and bullying, within our communities.

Why we should tackle prejudice and discrimination

As ethical people we should tackle racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices and discriminations, both within the atheist and skeptical communities and in wider society. We each have our own unique mix of random birth advantages, based on our race and gender and sexuality and physical and mental ability and family; and personally earned advantages, based on our education and career and income and relationships. All of these factors influence how we interact with each other socially, and can cause us to face prejudice and discrimination, or to perpetuate it, often unknowingly, every day.

As atheists we should empathize with other groups facing social discrimination, because we know what it is like to face it ourselves. It is different to discrimination based on birth disadvantages, but it is analogous because of the impacts. Most religious people do not even realize that they have unearned social advantages. They see being religious as a natural default position, they genuinely wonder what we are worrying about, they believe we are attacking their rights, and they call us militant and strident. But we notice the prejudice and discrimination, because we experience it every day. And so we should take care not to act in the same way towards other groups.

As skeptics we should objectively examine the impacts of social discrimination, and identify the best ways to promote diversity and inclusiveness. By definition, prejudice depends on not having all relevant information, and as skeptics we are ideally suited to develop and promote arguments for inclusiveness and human rights, based on the evidence of the benefits to individuals and society. We could use this research to tackle the emotional and irrational thinking behind racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices and discriminations. It’s at least as interesting a topic as many we discuss, and a more useful topic than most.

Why we should discuss things reasonably and support each other

We should discuss these issues reasonably, without unfair personal attacks or bullying. We should do this for both ethical and practical reasons. Good people and inspirational activists, who were friends and allies just over a year ago, have been personally hurt and are alienated from working together. This is unfair to these people, who have worked hard and effectively to advance atheism and skepticism, and who are now misrepresented and stereotyped on various websites. It is also unhelpful to the wider project of promoting reason, atheism and skepticism as being better approaches to reality and beneficial to society.

On top of that, some different people have written disgusting personal attacks on women activists, at times dressed up as rape jokes, which go beyond being hurtful and into the realms of hate speech. And others have defended this. This is overt misogyny aimed at specific women, and all decent people must stand together on this issue. We must not become desensitized to the line that it crosses. It goes beyond any sincere disagreements that people of goodwill may have about the level of sexism in our communities and how best to tackle it.

There is a complex tangle of causes and effects between the underlying levels of sexism, legitimately expressed disagreements about its nature and scale, misrepresentations and unfair personal attacks, people becoming hurt and defensive, escalation of the disagreements into hostility, people becoming desensitized to the escalating hostility, and the casual publication of overtly misogynistic hate speech. And this relentless pattern raises obvious concerns about where we are heading, if we cannot reassert the primacy of discussing things reasonably and supporting each other.

How we can start to be more inclusive, caring and supportive

I believe that we can reverse this pattern. I believe that we have enough reasonable people, with different beliefs about these issues, to be able to calmly reassess where we are, how we got here, where we are heading, and where we want to go. Most of us are involved in atheist or skeptical communities because we want to interact with like-minded people, and we also want to help to improve the world a little bit. We now need collective leadership to do this effectively.

I believe that we should start with first principles. If we focus on designing positive policies to make our communities more inclusive and caring and supportive, and work hard to implement those policies, then actively tackling prejudice, discrimination, hate speech, harassment and bullying will flow naturally from that. And it will be as part of a coherent strategy, not just dealing with particular examples as they arise.

Here are 25 next-step suggestions that we could consider.

Atheism and skepticism

  • Keep working together to promote the primary issues that unite the atheist/skeptical communities, which are the approaches to truth and reality that lead us to atheism and skepticism, and how reason and secularism can benefit society. We have not yet come near to winning these arguments within society, and we have to stay focused to bring about change.
  • Continue to rigorously criticize bad ideas wherever we find them. Use reason, logic, evidence, humour, satire and ridicule to undermine the bad and harmful ideas that people promote, and to positively promote better ideas and better ways of thinking.
  • Criticize or satirize people only for their ideas and behaviour, not their personal identities. And there are enough charlatans and abusers of human rights within the religious and pseudoscientific communities to keep us going for years without turning on allies with whom we disagree on tactics.

Promoting fairness

  • Discuss and take action to help to bring about a fairer society. This is an inherently good thing to do as ethical people, and we should do it for that reason. It also helps to combat prejudice about atheists and morality.
  • Take positive actions to help others through community outreach projects. Hold charitable events. Help existing charities. Visit people in institutions without preaching to them. Do something new and imaginative.
  • Objectively examine the impacts of social discrimination, and identify the best ways to promote diversity and inclusiveness, so that we can develop evidence-based arguments that can guide our ethical instincts.
  • Build alliances with other groups who also face prejudice and social discrimination. Identify and work together on specific issues of mutual interest, and generally support and empower each other.

Inclusive, caring and supportive

  • Aim to build real-life and online communities, where atheists and skeptics can enjoy interacting with like-minded people, while helping to advance reason and secularism in wider society.
  • Design positive policies to make the atheist and skeptical communities as inclusive, caring and supportive as possible for people of all races, genders, sexualities and abilities. This will include policies on how to help people to feel safe and enjoy themselves at our activities.
  • Start not by identifying specific outcomes, but by agreeing the principles upon which outcomes should be based: principles like rigorous criticism of ideas, mutual respect for people, promoting fairness, empowerment, diversity and inclusiveness.
  • Measure our responses to specific issues against those agreed principles, which in effect become independent criteria, not by our instant emotional reaction to the most recent thing that somebody has said or written that we disagree with.
  • Focus outward. Design our inclusiveness policies by finding the opinions of the people who we want to include, but who are not already involved. By definition, we who are already involved cannot accurately answer the question of why others are not yet involved.
  • Include people of diverse backgrounds on our organizing committees and event panels, so that we gain from the variety of life perspectives that this brings to our decision making and our events.
  • Try to make others feel safe and comfortable at our events. As a base line, don’t make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. If we’re not sure, err on the side of caution. Read and respect whatever policies the organizers have published about this.

How we communicate

  • Online debates can magnify misunderstandings and intensify hostility, when compared to real-life conversations. Remember that we are dealing with real people who have feelings. Don’t humiliate, marginalize or ostracize people who are seeking to discuss things.
  • It’s important to be angry when anger is justified, but it’s often not helpful to publish what we feel while we are angry. Instead we could write what we feel then wait to review it before publishing it, or else share our anger privately with a friend. The best use of anger is for it to motivate us to take practical actions to make things better. We can best do this when we are thinking clearly about what we are doing.
  • When responding to something we disagree with, assume good intent. Respond to the issues. Point out what we agree with as well as what we disagree with. Ask them to also assume good intent on our behalf.
  • Don’t stereotype people who disagree with us. Engage reasonably with people who sincerely disagree with us on issues. Seek explanations and apologies from people who post disgusting personal attacks, but otherwise don’t let them dictate our agenda.
  • Try to find creative ways to advance the underlying interests of both us and the people who we disagree with, rather than just compete with them or capitulate to them on the specific examples we are discussing.
  • Be prepared to back down from our positions when we realize that we were mistaken. This can be harder to do on the internet, because our positions are permanently published not merely spoken. Do it anyway.
  • Avoid telling racist or sexist or homophobic jokes, unless perhaps if they are empowering because the target of the joke is the racist or sexist or homophobe. Don’t ever target specific real people with jokes or suggestions about rape or anal self-abuse.

Starting to heal the rifts

  • Accept that each of us is likely to be right about some issues and mistaken about others. Try to approach each issue on its merits, rather than on the basis of which side you think the person is on.
  • Accept that we might be mistaken about what other people are trying to communicate to us, and what their motivations might be. Accept that we might have made mistakes when communicating to others, and that we might have unfairly hurt people without realizing it.
  • Accept that the first step to identifying either harassment or bullying is to listen to the people who tell us that they feel harassed or bullied. The fact that they feel harassed or bullied means there is a problem to be addressed, whatever the detail and however we address it.
  • Start the process of healing the rifts ourselves. Identify something that we ourselves did that may have been unfair or hurtful, and apologize to the person who we we think we may have hurt. Do this regardless of whether or not they reciprocate.

How we can reinvigorate our atheist/skeptical communities

Adversity can sometimes build strength. If we get this right, we can heal at least some of the recent rifts, and start to build reinvigorated, positive atheist and skeptical communities. We should also focus outward. There are many atheists and skeptics who are not even aware that our communities exist, never mind being aware of the minutia of our disagreements. They may be more likely to be attracted to positive proactive groups, who combine promoting our core ideas about atheism and skepticism with an inclusive and caring and supportive value system. As reasonable people, we should at least test this hypothesis.

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{ 141 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Steersman March 8, 2013 at 8:04 am

Haven’t read all of this yet, but thought I would throw this in to begin with. It’s from Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain:

As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. Social psychologist Geoffrey Cohen quantified this effect in a study in which he discovered that Democrats are more accepting of a welfare program if they believe it was proposed by a fellow Democrat, even if the proposal came from a Republican and is quite restrictive. Predictably, Cohen found the same effect for Republicans who were far more likely to approve of a generous welfare program if they thought it was proposed by a fellow Republican. In other words, even when examining the exact same data people from both parties arrive at radically different conclusions. [pg #263]

Very problematic that we have a tendency to reach divergent if not antithetical positions largely from the same data sets. Although one can argue that it is our “pre-judgements”, our prejudices, that tend to be the different sets of coloured glasses that lead to those different interpretations. But relative to the current contretemps, as I’ve argued elsewhere (1), I figure that it is the wildly and widely different interpretations of the mechanisms behind gendered insults that are, or are substantial elements of, the primary bone of contention.

However, if you haven’t read that book of Shermer’s I would highly recommend it as a maybe helpful way of understanding some of the underlying causes of this “debate”.

1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=72918#p72918”;

2 Stacy March 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

Shorter Steersman: stop being so sensitive, ladies. Just because we call some bitches cunts, speculate about their sex lives, and call them ugly, doesn’t mean we’re anti-feminist.

Criticize or satirize people only for their ideas and behaviour, not their personal identities.

3 hannanibal March 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

And, in 2 comments, the cycle begins again…..

4 Steersman March 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hannanibal (#3):

King’s Gambit: pawn to king-4 …. 😉

5 hannanibal March 8, 2013 at 10:03 am

Isn’t it interesting that the first person to use the terms “bitch” and “cunt” in this comment section is a person who claims to dislike those words?

6 Steersman March 8, 2013 at 10:26 am

Hannanibal (#5):

Hadn’t noticed it, but now that you mention it, yes, that is rather interesting – and rather amusing. Not sure that my degree in armchair psychology is up to the task, but, as paradigms, one might suggest either “one trick pony”, or maybe “when the only tool you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.

However, I’ve sort of put money on the argument (1) that she insists on conflating the concept of insults – gendered and otherwise – with that of sexism. Rather unfortunate as it seems the frequency of insults is far less than the incidents of sexism; forests (mixed), trees, shrubbery, and all that ….

1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/comment-page-2/#comment-195701”;

7 Eu March 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Stacy, that makes no sense. How does insulting people or being rude make one anti feminist? And why should the sex matter? Both males and females are “victims” there. But even if it was a woman only base being insulted, that doesn’t make one anti-feminist and it doesn’t make it an anti feminist site. God, it’s like what makes it so bad is that its women. Who invented sex specific pronouns? I’m getting tired of them.

Lemme explain something. In order to be anti (position here) you have to be opposed to the position. Don’t make your own definitions of terms or try to change the standards in a way that doesn’t make sense. Anti feminist sites identify as anti feminist or some sort of equivalent label. With the definition you’re spewing, shit tons of sites are anti feminist. Hell, my elementary lunch table must’ve been anti feminist.

8 Edward Gemmer March 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm

BTW, thank you Mr. Nugent for provoking discussion, letting it go, and not making things personal. It’s nice to see that Irish people are still superior 😉

Going forward, I think trying to identify core goal of atheism and skepticism makes a lot of sense. There are lots and lots of conflicting ideas as to what we should and should not believe, but not much discussion as to why that is or how it ties to atheism.

9 oolon March 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Isn’t it interesting that the first person to use the terms “bitch” and “cunt” in this comment section is a person who claims to dislike those words?

And this is why there could be no coming together of the two camps. To have this poor an understanding of the people you are supposedly opposing or in a “war” against is pathetic. I thought one of the key parts of any “battle” is “know your enemy” … Hence the Slymepit will continue to fight their imaginary straw feminists on the internet battleground with photoshops to the right of them… etc…. #braveheroes

10 hannanibal March 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Poor understanding Oolon? How so? Stacy bemoans the use of “cunt” and “bitch” yet is the first to use them in this thread and in an accusation no less towards a person who didn’t use them. Seems to me like she wants to use those words every chance she gets.
BTW, This webpage isn’t Twitter so fuck off with the hastags.

11 Eu March 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Geez, edward, racist much? I doubt it has to do with him being irish.

12 Sally Strange March 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm

How does insulting people or being rude make one anti feminist?

Really, this is something people are having a hard time with?

You’ve never heard, or heard of, someone insulting a man by calling him a woman? Nobody ever told you to stop throwing like a girl? Never heard the epithet “mangina”? “Get the sand out of your cunt, soldier, man up!” “Get off the rag, you pussy.”

In all of those insults, the underlying assumption is that there’s something wrong with being a woman, or being like a woman.

Insults about how gross it would be to fuck Stephanie Zvan or Ophelia Benson are predicated on the idea that being fuckable ought to be a priority for them. If it weren’t a well-established cultural value that women exist primarily to provide eye candy, sex, and baby-making to men, these insults wouldn’t pack much punch. If it weren’t understood that being fuckable is a Very Important Thing that all women should aspire to, these insults would be nonsensical. They are rather nonsensical to me, when I read them, but the underlying message still gets across. Folks don’t like Stephanie or Ophelia, and to them that means it’s copacetic to offer their libido’s low opinion of the bodies of the women they dislike. Which, when you take a step back and think about it, is really profoundly odd. Every once in a while you see people trying to insult men by bringing the size of their penis into it, but again, this is more of a “you’re not man enough/you’re too much like a woman” thing than it is a “you’re so ugly nobody wants to sex you” thing. Choosing “unfuckable” as a line of attack against a woman is indicative of a sexist mindset.

So that’s how insults and rudeness can relate to sexism. That’s pretty basic. Is that really so complicated?

Apparently.

*sigh*

13 Sally Strange March 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Anti feminist sites identify as anti feminist or some sort of equivalent label.

Name one.

14 Edward Gemmer March 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Geez, edward, racist much? I doubt it has to do with him being irish.

Well, I’m sorry to inform you that Irish people will eventually take over the world. You had better develop a taste for Murphy’s if you want to survive.

So that’s how insults and rudeness can relate to sexism. That’s pretty basic. Is that really so complicated?

So don’t be rude or insulting. That’s the lesson I get from that. Spread the word.

15 Pitchguest March 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Interesting how Steersman’s comments about Democrats and Republicans, that had nothing to do with “anti-feminism” or “calling bitches cunts”, still gets thrown into the fray. (That’s on you, Stacy.) It makes you wonder who’s really got a dog in this fight (Or should that be “bitch”, Stacy? I can never tell).

Then oolon comes in with a non-sequitur (back under your bridge) and it starts all over again. Like deliberately being contrarian for the sake of it. (I think that’s what you call a troll these days.) Anyway, my next inquiry is to Sally Strange: are you aware that Stephanie Zvan’s friend, Greg Laden, said “get off the rag and kiss my ass” to a woman? Would he be an anti-feminist according to you, then? He also said, “If I ever see you in person, I’m going to kick your ass.” Which was subsequently condoned by Zvan, interestingly enough, and so was the “get off the rag” comment. Would that indirectly make Zvan an anti-feminist too?

Or would that just be idle banter? Disagreement? Insults? Maybe Eu has a point?

16 oolon March 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Poor understanding Oolon? How so? Stacy bemoans the use of “cunt” and “bitch” yet is the first to use them in this thread and in an accusation no less towards a person who didn’t use them. Seems to me like she wants to use those words every chance she gets.

To lay it out here is the game, they directly call women they are criticising cunts. Then pretend they had no idea that could be considered misogynistic, oh my that is surely not the case! I once saw comedy show where a woman, yes a bona fide one of those weird creatures, said the word. Therefore no women can ever take offence however I use the word! Rawr! Or in Hanannibals case it will be a feminist I was arguing with kept using the word in her statements therefore…. *hoggle hoggle*

I covered this with the Slymepits badly thought out arguments for the use of misogynistic slurs specifically here -> http://www.oolon.co.uk/?p=31 –> no real argument for why *just* misogynistic other than “word choice”, yup they call themselves “skeptics”!

Plenty of other examples of this wilful ignorance… Comes from a rejection of feminism coupled with a childish need to “score points” in an argument. Like the child who when called out on rude werdz says what word? You repeat and they say “OOOoooh you just said it too! nyah! nyah!”. I remember using that line of argumentation when I was 12 😀

BTW, This webpage isn’t Twitter so fuck off with the hastags.

#internettoughguy #isthatyoumykeru?

17 oolon March 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Shorter Guest: Tu quoque till the cows come home… He knows a friend of a friend who once said something really offensive once, pretty sure that person was a feminist therefore I cannot support feminism!

Really the pit does serve a useful purpose, as one of Guests friends put it; “oh, guest. I feel like my idiot son has joined an idiot gang, of idiots.” … He is home at last!

18 hannanibal March 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Stacy used the words bitch and cunt in response to Steersman who didn’t use them so your argument that she was calling him out individually for using those words is all in your head.

And why do you always accuse someone of being Franc or Mykeru you paranoid little tit?
BTW, How’s the blockbot going? #oolonsgreatestachievement #couldntbefunnierifyoudtried

19 hannanibal March 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Oolon whinges about the slime pit every chance he gets but, according to the mod there, loves the place so much that he made three accounts .
Go figure.
You could make the excuse that you made those accounts to troll the place but you haven’t done a very good job considering what a laughing stock you are to both sides.

20 Edward Gemmer March 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Maybe we should promote National Don’t Blame Day in the atheist community, where people are allowed to talk but not blame somebody for something for 24 whole hours. My prediction – we would lose 75% of our population due to spontaneous combustion.

21 Esteleth March 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

So I asked this in the other thread, and didn’t get a reply.

If we presume that there are (amongst many other sets) two sets of people:
(A): Women who will disassociate from organizations and places where they are called “bitch” and “cunt” in a disparaging manner
(B): Men who will disassociate from organizations and places where they are forbidden and/or discouraged from using “bitch” and “cunt” against women in a disparaging manner, except when the woman in question has signaled her acceptance of these terms
And we presume that the absolute number of people in {A} is larger than the absolute number of people in {B}, then:

How does the organization or place suffer by banning (or at least discouraging) that sort of talk?

Who or what suffers? Who or what is harmed?

Or, to put it another way:

Slymepitters, what do you lose by accepting that a non-negligible number of women who would otherwise completely agree with you and associate with you are repelled by your use and defense of words like “bitch” and “cunt” as used in a disparaging manner against women?

22 Edward Gemmer March 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Slymepitters, what do you lose by accepting that a non-negligible number of women who would otherwise completely agree with you and associate with you are repelled by your use and defense of words like “bitch” and “cunt” as used in a disparaging manner against women?

I don’t know that we lose anything. I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. A non-negligible collection of women are offended by the existence of gay people and oral sex and evolution, as well.

23 Esteleth March 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Right. Because people who object to “bitch” and “cunt” are equivalent to homophobes and anti-evolution cranks.

24 Eu March 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm

I agree… I don’t need to talk to people who won’t talk to me just because I use words such as “bitch” and “cunt” (not saying I do. Okay, I use the former sometimes ;] ). They’re the ones losing something, considering they’re condescending much of the country’s population; otherwise innocent people, some that wouldn’t even /guess/ a feminist would have an issue with them. And I’m not just talking about people like the Bad Girls on reality tv…

25 Eu March 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Esteleth, you’re “extending the analogy” (there is not much of an analogy there, actually.) Point is, he cares about that collection of women’s opinion as much as he does fundies’.

26 Esteleth March 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Let me turn it around and follow the analogy that Edward used:

What to organizations and places stand to GAIN by making those who object to those words welcome that they DON’T gain by welcoming homophobes, and anti-evolution cranks?

My answer is that (for starters) feminism is compatible with skepticism, atheism, and secularism in a way that anti-LGBT animus and creation/ID nonsense is not.

27 Edward Gemmer March 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Esteleth, you’re “extending the analogy” (there is not much of an analogy there, actually.) Point is, he cares about that collection of women’s opinion as much as he does fundies’.

That’s not my point at all. My point is that a great many things are offensive to someone. I’m not particularly offended by the c-word, so I don’t mind reading the slymepit. That doesn’t mean I approve, or I use the word, just that I, personally, me am not offended and I don’t care. I don’t mind if you are offended. I’m not judging you – I understand why you (or anyone else) would be offended). But I’m not you.

My guess is that the c-word gets tossed around liberally to hurt the feelings of people who claim they are offended by its use but have no problems abusing others with different language. If it is an insult war, and we know one party is offended by a particular word, then you can’t be too surprised to see that word being used.

28 Pitchguest March 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Esteleth –

I suppose the simple answer is that we don’t use them to disparage women exclusively. Banning the words would do absolutely nothing to resolve the issue, because you’re arguing from a purely US-centric view and the word “cunt” isn’t always sexist. This has been repeated over and over, but still the impact of the words are being discussed. Give it a rest.

Also, a large number of women use the words themselves, and not just to disparage women exclusively – so it evens out, I guess.

29 Eu March 8, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I know you have heard this a million times, but you can’t be taken seriously with condemning the word “cunt” when the word “dick” is used so freely. Please, no replies about how no one cares about the word “dick,” yeah, that’s because the people who do care about the word “cunt” are sexist.

And what Pitch said, “cunt” and “bitch” are used for anyone. As for using them on purpose to offend someone, yeah, people likely won’t care if they don’t feel the person is justified in condemning the words they use. Same with people who condemn swearing in general – I’ll swear around them all I want just to bother them, for having the nerve to be so critical.

If I were a feminine man and very outspoken, I would strut my stuff in front of people who think its a disgrace for feminine men to be seen outside, yeah, on purpose, to offend them.

They’re choosing to take issues with these things and be judgmental pricks, so the least they should get is bothered by what they’re judging.

30 Eu March 8, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Sally Strange, those are sexist statements. If youre accusing the pit of being a forum generally for people holding petty, sexist views, why not use the statements FROM THE PIT as an example?

31 Eu March 8, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Also, Sally, use condoms and pills, don’t use whats for people poorer than you, even if youre near the cut off. You know what I mean. I wont say it.

32 Esteleth March 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Pitchguest, you say you don’t use those words to disparage women exclusively, and point to differences in worldwide definitions.

Okay, fine. I’ll take you at your word both ways. Because that isn’t the point.

The point is that those words – fairly or unfairly – are seen as inherently disparaging by a non-negligible number of women. Your intent in using them means exactly nothing.

Random Woman X sees/hears those words used and this use being defended. She then says, “This group is not a group I want to associate with, because I don’t like those words and feel they are disgusting and offensive and disparaging to me as a woman.”

You can – and have – argue that she is wrong to say this, that she’s misinterpreting things, that the Pit (et al) would welcome her gladly, etc.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that in every other way she is your ideological clone.

And she’s rejected you. Rightly, wrongly, based on a set of definitions that differ from yours, whatever.

What would you lose by making an (admittedly small) step to make her feel welcome?


Eu, I don’t like and don’t use “prick,” “dick,” etc, except for the purely literal reference to penises. Because I don’t like gendered insults. I’m more a fan of the equal-opportunity “asshole.”

33 Esteleth March 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Oh and: this (to me, and do a lot of the Pharyngula set) is not about bad words or obscenity.

I mean, shit. For quite awhile, my nym over at FTB had “because fuck you, that’s why” appended to it. It has also been “angry dyke.”

This is not a “no bad words, or I’ll faint” prudish argument.

34 oolon March 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Still context free misunderstanding then… I suppose it explains why Franc and others witter on about FtB “puritanism”, fundamental lack of appreciation of how the meaning of words change with context. Also lacking in realisation that the problem ain’t the word or words used, its the misogynistic sentiment or stereotype being perpetuated. So I can write, context free, fuck bitch cunt arse twat cock dick monkey spunk and still not be shunned… I think… *heads off to see if FtB login is suspended*

35 Wowbagger March 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Michael, I do applaud your effort, but you aren’t going to get very far until you acknowledge the fact that the main stumbling block is that no small proportion of the people you’re dealing with simply do not want the atheist/skeptic community to be more inclusive for the simple reason that it would mean giving up their privileged status as arbiters of content.

Inclusivity, by necessity, threatens that – since you can’t expect people to join your group if you don’t cater to their tastes as well.

But they don’t want to hear about feminism or social justice. Why? Because they don’t care about those things. They want to hear about how evil the religious are. They want to be reminded just how stupid people who believe in bigfoot are. They want to drink and laugh about how superior they are to ignorant, cognitively dissonant woo-peddlers of all stripes because it makes them feel good about themselves.

Feminism, of course, doesn’t do that – in fact, for many of them it’s quite the opposite, since it forces them to acknowledge that the things they do are sometimes bad (not irredeemably bad, but bad nonetheless) and they need to think about that and – gasp – maybe even think about changing their behavior to make things better for women.

Hence why one of the people they’re angriest at is PZ, since he used to be almost entirely about sticking it to the godbots (hard) but who started to include a lot more social justice in his posts.

So what we need to stress it that it’s more a case of “Wake up. The atheist community isn’t an exclusive white dude-bro frat party anymore. You’re still going to get to hear the about the stuff that makes you feel superior, but every now and then you’re going to have to deal with the fact that there are people who aren’t you who want to discuss things important to them.”

36 Pitchguest March 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

#32 Esteleth

If you want to argue the sexist connotation of the word “cunt” each time it is mentioned, and the fact that you still insist on saying how it is *women* who will disassociate from the organization or forum, how it is *women* who get targeted disparingly from these words, then it does matter.

We realise it’s not a prudish question. We just think you’re hypocrites. Sometimes these words are employed by the people you claim to support and you don’t bat an eye. Sometimes harsher vernacular is performed; Skepchick and FTB are not exempt. Then there’s the argument that if you acknowledge that the connotation isn’t always sexist and how, indeed, that isn’t how the word is being used on the Slymepit, why are you still making a big fuss about it?

When Dan Fincke wrote his civility pledge, Chris Clarke (and others) thought the idea was stupid because (to them) it appeared to say that people could say whatever insulting they like as long as they said it politely. Clarke then went on to write his own ‘pledge’ voicing similar conerns to Fincke but changed the part about polite language.

So if we’re to take a chapter from Clarke, FtB does not use the word “cunt” but the Slymepit does. The Slymepit and FtB sometimes use rude language to get their point across, but FtB does not use “cunt.” The Slymepit is an unmoderated forum where anyone has a voice, while FtB is heavily moderated where some dissent is not tolerated, but FtB does not use the word “cunt.” Do you see where I’m getting at? I hope you see the disconnect.

37 Pitchguest March 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

#35 Wowbagger –

Who made you representative of the community, you arrogant shit?

Or is it that you’re taker for the Randi million, since apparently you can read minds? By the way, you just provided another example — on a silver platter, no less — where you blatantly lie about the Slymepit. So we don’t care about feminism or “social justice”? Is that a fact, Mr. Die in a Fire? Piss off.

38 Steersman March 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Wowbagger said (#35):

the fact that the main stumbling block is that no small proportion of the people you’re dealing with simply do not want the atheist/skeptic community to be more inclusive for the simple reason that it would mean giving up their privileged status as arbiters of content.

Really? Since that is supposedly a hard-edged “fact” I can then expect that you’ll have absolutely no difficulty providing citations and quotations of said fact which you will do with alacrity?

But they don’t want to hear about feminism or social justice.

And who might “they” be? You have names, testimonials? How about a statistical survey based on a representative sample?

Methinks you’re just blowing smoke out of your ass – and trying to peddle FfTB dogma ….

39 Wowbagger March 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

It’s like asking someone if they want to increase the ethnic diversity of a group and them replying “Well, of course we want niggers. But not if they’re uppity niggers. They’ve got to know their place. Oh, and they’ve got to acknowledge that when we call them niggers we’re not being racist. Nuh-uh.”

In some ways the Slymepit is like the US Republican Party after the last election – well, at least it would be if it was prepared to engage in some self-reflection.

40 Pitchguest March 8, 2013 at 11:23 pm

#39

Of course it is, Wowbagger, of course it is. I couldn’t help but note you didn’t provide any evidence for your previous claims, but keep embarassing yourself. Ta.

41 Eu March 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Wowbagger, if you’re talking about the slymepit, that’s plain false, rofl. There are feminists there and they’ve talked about topics regarding feminism before (in *support* of it. Just not radical feminism).

If you’re talking about the atheist community in general, I honestly think this huge “we don’t want women” problem is made up. I honestly think most of them don’t care what the sex of atheists are. I also see no reason to assume most have conservative views when it comes to women either.

Lie of the century, seriously. No one else is spouting this crap besides the FtB & company.

(& Not because they don’t like the wimminz. Us wimminz ourselves aren’t seeing it!)

42 oolon March 9, 2013 at 12:03 am

In other news… I’m shocked to discover that PitchGuest has possibly been projecting again in calling me a troll…
http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/03/06/totally-unsolicited-advice-for-feminist-guys/#comment-6974

Tell me you don’t sockpuppet Guest? I don’t think I could take that kind of cognitive dissonance… I mean I know you feel the need to troll every feminist post on FtBs and beyond. But sockpuppetting? Tell me it aint true!

43 Tigzy March 9, 2013 at 1:10 am

Michael

Can I take a moment to apologise on behalf of the Slymepit for the presence of Oolon here – as you can see, he’s a bit of an oddball who tends to follow ‘pitters around wherever they go, generally fouling up forums with smarmy nonsense, poor trolling and the kind of self-debasing weirdness that leaves you unsure of whether to feel sorry for him or be amused by the chap. We pitters are quite familiar with this ‘thing’ he has for us – as is PZ Myers, who got so tired of Oolon bringing up the Slymepit at every available opportunity on Pharyngula that he banned the fellow – and perhaps we should have made it clear at the outset that your blog would be likely to suffer the kind of major Oolon-festation that would eventually make one feel like hosing down the forum with chlorinated water.

Sorry ’bout that.

44 Michael Nugent March 9, 2013 at 3:35 am

Poster #44 belowscum has been banned, and their comments have been removed.

45 Lsuoma March 9, 2013 at 3:53 am

Michael – if you want to send me the IP address of the poster of #44, I can check to see if it’s the same as the one who posted the nasty picture of Benson on the Slyme Pit recently. Probably worth us know whether it is or not.

46 jimthepleb March 9, 2013 at 3:57 am

#44 looks like the same quality of work as the turd that posted at the ‘pyt. Such genius, puts jan steen to shame…damn puts Da Vinci to shame. Good catch Lsuoma.

47 Eu March 9, 2013 at 4:00 am

Oh my god, lol. I didn’t get to see whatever the picture was at the pit, and although it looks like they’re using a simple program (no photoshop here) it’s sort of lol. What I was really lol’ing about is picturing the whining that will come if anyone brings this to Those People’s attention.

48 Jack March 9, 2013 at 4:11 am

‘Lsuoma

Michael – if you want to send me the IP address of the poster of #44, I can check to see if it’s the same as the one who posted the nasty picture of Benson on the Slyme Pit recently. Probably worth us know whether it is or not.’

The sort of people that post like this are disgusting and goes well past any free speech defence.

49 John C. Welch March 9, 2013 at 4:22 am

Uh-oh…are people here now “scrambling to do damage control???”

and yeah, that was some crap editing. I won’t even call it photoshoppery, I know people who work/have worked on that product, they deserve better than to be associated with that.

50 Rayshul March 9, 2013 at 4:31 am

Slymepitters, what do you lose by accepting that a non-negligible number of women who would otherwise completely agree with you and associate with you are repelled by your use and defense of words like “bitch” and “cunt” as used in a disparaging manner against women?

I thought I’d delurk here to address that. Unfortunately if you do ban that word, you lose the non-negligible number of women who use the words bitch and cunt all the gosh darn time because they’re great words. :) Good grief, why do you think so many women have been fleeing for the ‘pit recently? We’re not real excited about the idea of ideologues telling us what we can and can’t do (it’s all rather Victorian, isn’t it! Women fainting at the idea of terrible words!), and that extends to how we choose to use language as a result of our culture, profession or class.

I’d like to say thanks as well (more on topic) to Michael for hosting this discussion – while I don’t think he’s been particularly fair in his assessments I do think that he’s had a very interesting learning experience from it all.

51 rocko2466 March 9, 2013 at 4:31 am

Sigh. We can always expect the trolls to rock up. As long as you don’t lump us Pitters in with those idiots.

52 Jack March 9, 2013 at 4:32 am

‘J C Welch:

Uh-oh…are people here now “scrambling to do damage control???”

and yeah, that was some crap editing. I won’t even call it photoshoppery, I know people who work/have worked on that product, they deserve better than to be associated with that.’

Hopefully the irony will be noted.

53 Jack March 9, 2013 at 4:37 am

‘Rayshul March 9, 2013 at 4:31 am

Slymepitters, what do you lose by accepting that a non-negligible number of women who would otherwise completely agree with you and associate with you are repelled by your use and defense of words like “bitch” and “cunt” as used in a disparaging manner against women?

I thought I’d delurk here to address that. Unfortunately if you do ban that word, you lose the non-negligible number of women who use the words bitch and cunt all the gosh darn time because they’re great words. :) Good grief, why do you think so many women have been fleeing for the ‘pit recently? We’re not real excited about the idea of ideologues telling us what we can and can’t do (it’s all rather Victorian, isn’t it! Women fainting at the idea of terrible words!), and that extends to how we choose to use language as a result of our culture, profession or class.

I’d like to say thanks as well (more on topic) to Michael for hosting this discussion – while I don’t think he’s been particularly fair in his assessments I do think that he’s had a very interesting learning experience from it all.’

Oh dear you have outed yourself as Chill girl, Gender Traitor, blah blah. They can’t get their head around Women being ‘Misogynist’ as they can with men. All very sexist to me but I’m a Man so my opinion don’t count.

Anyway I also appreciate Michel not censoring of banning people just because they have opposing views.

54 Steersman March 9, 2013 at 4:40 am

Lsuoma said (#45):

Michael – if you want to send me the IP address of the poster of #44, I can check to see if it’s the same as the one who posted the nasty picture of Benson on the Slyme Pit recently. Probably worth us know whether it is or not.

All very commendable, Lsuoma. However, just out of curiousity, and not to quibble overmuch, but I wonder whether you – and others – were quite as soliticous over the posting of the “Zvan-Laden sex tapes”, the recent “three-dicks” photoshop of Sarah Palin, and the goatse in which Zvan (I think) figured so centrally – so to speak.

55 Southern March 9, 2013 at 5:03 am

Don’t feed the troll, please. That’s rule number one.

56 Lsuoma March 9, 2013 at 5:09 am

Steersman – no, I wasn’t (don’t speak for anyone apart from myself).

Zvan/Laden “sex tape” – we know who posted that.
Sarah Palin – unlikely it would affect Sarah Palin. And I was the one who turned it from three invisible to three visible dicks. Childish I know, but not designed to cause offence to the principal. Designed to shock some sensibilities.
Zvan goatse – if you’re talking about Tigzy’s post (_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=266&p=72744&hilit=goatse+tigzy+goatse#p72739) I don’t think the image ever made it to the Pit, just a reference by Tigzy to a post over here. It MAY have been posted on the Pit, but I definitely don’t remember seeing it. IIRC, it was just Tigzy referencing EllenBeth Wachs posting a link to it on this blog.

57 Rayshul March 9, 2013 at 5:31 am

Might I also add that I have found the Slymepit incredibly inclusive, caring and supportive – and easily the most so of any atheist or skeptic group I have been part of. Your ideas must survive on their own merits – and people regularly change their mind when someone makes a persuasive argument. Yes, the traditional greeting is “fuck off” – but it’s meant in good fun. :)

Again, it’s no surprise that our membership is incredibly diverse – internationally, politically, culturally, etc. There are also MRA members, ex-radical feminists, equity feminists, and humanists.

I chose the Slymepit community because I find it is the most welcoming of people with different opinions, and its membership have certainly helped me expand my thinking on various issues. Obviously, your mileage may vary… but everyone is welcome to come over and check it out. :)

58 Eu March 9, 2013 at 5:36 am

Rayshul… *sniffles*… that was beautiful ^^

59 Steersman March 9, 2013 at 5:55 am

Eu said (#60):

Rayshul… *sniffles*… that was beautiful ^^

:-) Although she has some good points ….

But I saw a couple of your other posts on the other threads that were quite good, not all of them, but a fair percentage. How long did you say until you were “legal”? Not that Lsuoma is obliged to grant you access then, of course, but it might make your position a little more tenable ….

60 Eu March 9, 2013 at 5:59 am

Steersman, about a year. Also, you’re interesting, why do you type so much to make a point? I can give you my non personal email.

61 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:05 am

Oh, belowscum, do you wanna a biscuit? Do you wanna a biscuit, boy? Do you wanna a tasty biscuit?

You are not getting any biscuit, fleabag. Obvious troll is obvious. But I guess if you are the price we should pay for freedom, eh, you are not worth much. So, profit!

62 jtc March 9, 2013 at 6:13 am

So if a troll posted an offensive photoshop of one of the women from the slymepit would all of the FTB folks be cheering him on?

I would really like to know, since the denizens of FTB have no problem threatening Slymepitters with rape, porcupines, fire, and broken kneecaps.

All in the name of social justice, of course 😉

63 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:13 am

Hmm. Yeah. I don’t get why people are commenting on it either with such contempt, not to support belowscum or anything. I really hope it’s just because they want to make the slymepit look better (going, “look, we owned belowscum for you!”) and don’t seriously have issues with the pictures. Otherwise they’re as whiny as FtB-ers.

I could see if they were posting it over and over in the same blog post, but he’s not being that disruptive and I really don’t care what someone puts up of FtB-ers, so no more derails about that.

64 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

jtc, that hypocrisy would be too close to miss. Even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t. That’s me assuming they have average intelligence. Maybe if it were a MALE, and if at least half a year had passed (to reduce the chances of them thinking they look so bad making a photoshop after one was made of one of Theirs, even with the justification that the person is “amoral scum” or “pissed FtB off and deserved it.)

65 jtc March 9, 2013 at 6:17 am

Anything offensive from FTB is merely a joke, as Chris Clarke famously stated.

It’s only offensive if a Slymepitter is behind it:P

And every troll in the universe is an alleged Slymepitter, naturally :)

66 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:22 am

Oh, belowscum, you see, when you do low-level trolling, that’s what happen to you.

If you want to troll, don’t be so obvious. Don’t rush. think, use the Force. The world can’t have anything but contempt for you.

67 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

Hey, Jailbait Eu, people are treating the little dog with contempt because his trolling is so unwitty and obvious that contempt is the only thing we can have for him. He will be banned from this site, of course, and his comment will be deleted, which is a shame: I really think it should be preserved as an example of trying too hard to impress. I really hope that the FTB people don’t throw a hissy fit about it, however.

It’s like when you started sending erotic fanfiction to people, then started threatening with law enforcement: contempt was the only thing that people could have for you.

68 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:28 am

Southern, err, honestly, why do you care? I just don’t like to see judgment, criticism, or condemnation where it’s not due. It’s almost like you’re hurt for the victims.

69 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:31 am

You still won’t let that go, will you? When did I send erotic fan fiction to people? You don’t need to lie to add onto it. You can marry Decius if the awful thing I did deserves *contempt*. Although I don’t see how that’s similar to having contempt for someone who is trolling bad/enacting their revenge badly. I could understand being amused by a sucky troll.. or even a good troll.. but its like you’re taking it personally or judging him *morally*. I just get a vindictive vibe/anger from your replies to him.

And then, because I dare pointed out what the big deal is, you decided to attack me too, with the past (and some lies about the past).

70 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:34 am

Belowscum, my dear mutt, good trolling is witty (so people can chuckle at it), a little disturbing (so people react shocked by it), unexpected (so people cannot recognize it) and well executed (so people won’t dismiss you easily).

As for your little “photograph”, it fails on every level:

a) not witty: photoshopping heads of famous peoples over nude bodies is so 2001;
2) not disturbing: seen before so many times, it lost its shock value;
3) not unexpected: you did the same thing a short time ago, dumbass;
4) not well executed: you are not derailing any discussions with such shitty and ill-timed attempt of trolling.

So, F-fucking-minus on trolling. Back to the draw board, and come back with something better.

71 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:38 am

I care because I’m awake at 4PM with nothing better to do, because it’s the Sabbath, the day that Our Lord rested. And because I don’t feel playing anything right now. So, I point that you are butthurt because you were banned from the Slymepit (having the honor to share the list with a person that posted a child porn picture) after legal counseling from Lsuoma’s SIL. Legal counseling.

Now, my dear, cry, and cry, and cry, because you are young, and the youth’s cry are music to my ears.

72 jtc March 9, 2013 at 6:40 am

QUOTE: “It’s like when you started sending erotic fanfiction to people, then started threatening with law enforcement: contempt was the only thing that people could have for you.”

Well, I do suspect that said contempt was leveled due to her terrible taste in men 😉

Write some erotic fiction about Pope Benedict sweetie!

73 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:46 am

Oh, belowscum, your arguments are so persuasive, I’m starting to believe that photocrap is real. Say, how did you got that image of all of them doing it? Hidden cameras? You do tell me.

But oh, you said you want Papa PZ’s attention? Well, that’s easy: just paint your bum with a red, bright paint, then climb a pole, and shake your money maker. If PZ does not notice, somebody else will.

74 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:46 am

Southern, umm what does the fact that I was banned from the pit have to do with your angry reaction to the dude? Unless you’re Lsuoma himself, it makes no sense to say that I’m just mad at YOU because I’m banned from the pit. Fuck off with your self righteousness and stop trying to hand out pink slips.

And, again, not praising the dude, but the simplest explanation is the best – since all he did was post a couple of pictures he’s probably just trying to anger FtB. Saying that he’s trying to target Nugent or this discussion is an assumption. And I do think that if you would stop talking to him, he wouldn’t even be posting anymore. He’s posting to reply to you, not give more pictures. And the best way to make sure someone doesn’t derail a discussion if that’s what you’re afraid of is to *not talk to them.*

Who gives a fuck?

and belowscum, Southern for some reason seems very convinced that your target is us, and arguing with him seems pointless so… just go ahead and continue your vendetta against FtB. Think of all the time you’re wasting checking back here when you could be finding other places to post that picture?

75 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

Yeah, belowscum, do go and post your photocrap on all FTB and Skepchicks and whatever. Do listen to the toddler talking about revenge and whatnot. I’ll grab some popcorn to watch – but no drinks, as I don’t want to spit it when I laugh at your certain failure.

76 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

Southern, they left. You can shut the fuck up and get over it now. God. That was the hugest pretending-not-to-tantrum I’ve ever seen. It’s really annoying when the very people saying not to bait the trolls are the ones baiting them, and HARD, as if they have a serious problem with their actions. This is where ITS JUST THE INTERNET applies. If I had bad taste in fanfics you sure have bad taste in the women you want to defend. Which one is it? 😉

77 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:56 am

Oh… well now that I look at it… you’ve derailed the discussion, actually. Congratulations, Southern. Ironyironyirony. xD Let’s hope someone picks up at a past point in the discussion.

78 Southern March 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

Certainly not the toddler, Eucli you silly little rascal. It’s Shabbath, and I don’t roll on Shabbath.

79 Steersman March 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

Lsuoma said (#57):

Steersman – no, I wasn’t (don’t speak for anyone apart from myself).

Zvan/Laden “sex tape” – we know who posted that.

I think the point isn’t who posted it, but what standards are to be used to determine what stays and what is turfed – sort of a central point in Michael’s various posts here, I think. And relative to which, and as I’ve argued, I might suggest tentatively some use of polls to decide. You, of course, have the issue of legality to deal with, and that should be the hammer, but otherwise a democratic voting process might work.

Sarah Palin – unlikely it would affect Sarah Palin. And I was the one who turned it from three invisible to three visible dicks. Childish I know, but not designed to cause offence to the principal. Designed to shock some sensibilities.

I’m all for “shocking some sensibilities” – getting peoples’ attention as the old mule joke describes it – but generally only if there is some tactical or strategic advantage in doing so, otherwise I find it tends to be counterproductive. However, not an easy call – community standards and all that ….

Zvan goatse – if you’re talking about Tigzy’s post (1) I don’t think the image ever made it to the Pit, just a reference by Tigzy to a post over here. It MAY have been posted on the Pit, but I definitely don’t remember seeing it. IIRC, it was just Tigzy referencing EllenBeth Wachs posting a link to it on this blog.

EllenBeth’s post here (2) references a Pit post where you can see it in all its glory. I note from a later post from her that she apparently spoke with Zvan before posting the link so I expect she was particularly bent out of shape by the image. Parentheticallly, I think that such responses bear an uncomfortable resemblance to believing in voodoo, to believing that poking pins in some image through some “sympathetic magic” is likely to do serious damage to the actual person. Whoever said that the veneer of civilization was rather thin hit the nail squarely on the head.

But not quite sure what to suggest – getting kind of late for one thing – but again one might ask what the purpose of such is. If it is more or less only to thumb our noses at the opponents once discussions have broken down then that is one thing. If it is to force them to the bargaining table then that is something else again – which then raises the question of quid pro quo and which goals the Pit is aiming for.

—–
1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=266&p=72744#p72739”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/07/slymepit-members-struggle-with-the-ethics-of-removing-photoshopped-naked-image/comment-page-1/#comment-197532”

80 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:59 am

Aw, look at what you guys did. Now Steersman doesn’t want to message me because he doesn’t want to be the butt of your jokes.

(Okay, or maybe he just doesn’t want to. But he’s sort of interesting. Has nothing to do with weird romance.)

81 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

So now you see how you troll properly, you silly little girl. See? No need to post pictures – just engage like you want to discuss something aloofly and BAM – they fall for it, hook and sink.

Now, as great man once said, “shut up, little girl”.

82 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:02 am

Steersman, did Elen Bach condemned Matt Dilahaunty and Russel Glasser for the Sarah Palin episode over Non Prophets? It’s old, sure, but they never did a full retract on that – just handwaved that they were somewhat “too rough” on SP (hint: they used the cunt-word).

83 Eu March 9, 2013 at 7:03 am

Wait, are you accusing me of being belowscum now? You already lied about me sending fanfics to people and you’re going to charge me with this? You just have a serious problem with me from the pit (lots of people disliked me to a certain degree that had no reason), and I dont even fucking remember your name. What’d I do to ya? Lol, fuck you.

84 jtc March 9, 2013 at 7:04 am

@Southern

You have just described the trolling tactics of A+/Pharyngula posters!

85 Eu March 9, 2013 at 7:05 am

He also just committed a Pharyngula tactic, false accusations to make someone look worse. Dunno why he’s trying to take a shot at my rep. Totally done with this fucker. First the “dangerous man” accusations and now this gets to go on my record? He’s probably on the pit telling them how it was totally all me or something.

86 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

No, Eucli, I’m accusing you of being a silly little girl. Belowscum is a boring and uninspired troll. See, different things, you and him.

87 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:09 am

JTC – that’s how trolling is supposed to work, so I’m not surprised if they used it. It’s Internet 101.

88 Eu March 9, 2013 at 7:09 am

If I’m a silly little girl, what’re you coming at me for?

89 Steersman March 9, 2013 at 7:09 am

Eu said (#62):

Steersman, about a year. Also, you’re interesting, why do you type so much to make a point? I can give you my non personal email.

Thanks. Would believe because I don’t have enough time to boil it down once I’ve put together what I want to say? But more accurately because I think the issues are complicated and that frequently requires discussion in some detail.

I think I have that e-mail from your universaldream username message from early last month ….

90 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:10 am

I’m educating you on the noble art of trolling, so when you engage it, you don’t do it like our mutt, belowscum.

91 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:11 am

Steersman… General Ackbar is shouting at you, why u no listen?

92 Eu March 9, 2013 at 7:12 am

Southern, you’re the one trolling. I think it would be much more fun for you to troll adults though instead of little girls. That’s so mean.

No, Steersman, I’m not using that email. The camomilelox email at gmail will have to do.

93 Southern March 9, 2013 at 7:13 am

I only troll the uninspired trolls, silly little girl.

94 Steersman March 9, 2013 at 7:22 am

Southern (#89):

Steersman, did Elen Bach condemned Matt Dilahaunty and Russel Glasser for the Sarah Palin episode over Non Prophets? It’s old, sure, but they never did a full retract on that – just handwaved that they were somewhat “too rough” on SP (hint: they used the cunt-word).

I’ve only really been following all of this since about last August when I joined the Pit so I don’t have all that much of a handle on all of the “he said; she said” that preceeded that. But the more I read the more I think about pots and kettles. And think about Shakespeare’s “a pox on both your houses”.

And: Roger, roger.

95 AndrewV69 March 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

Eu #80 “Aw, look at what you guys did. Now Steersman doesn’t want to message me because he doesn’t want to be the butt of your jokes.”

Eucliwood/Camomile,

Listen to me please. I think you need to have a chat in real life with a mature adult you know and trust concerning certain of your activities. You know which ones, mainly the ones you are getting pushback on and perhaps some you are not. I really hope that you are not like I was at your age and ignore this.

I am not going to preach/moralize/lecture at you. It is your life, but I really think you need to talk to someone. OK?

Thats all. Good luck to you.

96 Eu March 9, 2013 at 11:49 am

Andrew, talking to someone would get me nowhere, considering there’s nothing wrong with me. Sometimes where people say “crazy,” the actual answer is “doesn’t care about (…)”

And the way you say “activities” sounds like I’m doing something. What, those fanfics I posted on the board? Big fucking deal. Read them, see the last time I posted there, and tell me if that means I must need help.

I can’t think of anything else you could be talking about.

97 Eu March 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

And what was wrong with you at my age? Were you some kind of freak? (Yeah, I went there. Do not lump people with yourself at the first sign they could be like you were… whatever you did.) Did you have urges? Not my problem, rofl.

98 Eu March 9, 2013 at 11:57 am

One thing I’m pissed off at is the condescending judgmental bullshit, huge jump to conclusions about someone, etc. I do something I consider minor, that I think no one should be whining about, and now I need to talk to an “adult”? I was there for about a month. Here’s a popular saying: “Bitch, you don’t know me!”

And don’t think you do. There are tons of people you’d try to judge as disturbed on the internet that aren’t and don’t need your random, condescending messages out of nowhere. Seriously, the fuck? You haven’t seen Disturbed Girl on the internet. I’ve seen Disturbed Girl on the internet, and actually suffered at her hands, but people are after *me*. Okay.

99 Eu March 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

Did you ever think it was you people’s behavior that provoked them in the first place? The repulsed comments and jokes about me writing fics… lead to me.. GASP… writing the fics! With your logic, I’m sure you’d think everyone on creepypasta needed to “talk to an adult.” Everyone that’s made, I dunno, shock videos too.

100 EllenBeth Wachs March 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

@82 Southern

Steersman, did Elen Bach condemned Matt Dilahaunty and Russel Glasser for the Sarah Palin episode over Non Prophets? It’s old, sure, but they never did a full retract on that – just handwaved that they were somewhat “too rough” on SP (hint: they used the cunt-word).

You seem to think I need to condemn every use of the word cunt by my friends and acquaintances before I can say that I find some behavior repugnant or offensive. What a ridiculous notion. But, as I don’t even watch the Non Prophets, how could I condemn something I have no knowledge of? Furthermore, I have had an interaction with Matt in a way wherein I explained to him how I found what he was doing hurtful and why. He then stated he would modify his behavior from there on out to alleviate the hurt. See, this is really not that difficult.

101 rocko2466 March 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Kudos to Michael for deleting that post. :) (#44) I think your instincts for moderation as far as these comment threads have been concerned are sound.

102 rocko2466 March 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

(By that I mean, your instincts as to what should be deleted from these particular threads and what shouldn’t.)

103 Eu March 9, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Ellenbeth Wachs, Umm.. yeah actually that’s exactly what *I* think anyway. You people act like we’re scum for using it, so why wouldnt you AT LEAST throw a fit when your friends use the word, avoiding shutting them out of your life simply because of the love you have for them that you cannot help?

The way you just talked you make it sound as if its just a word you’d *prefer* people not use but its not that huge an issue to you.

104 Eu March 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I thought it was with the same conviction that people don’t like others who call people niggers. Unless you’d tolerate that from your friends too? If you honestly think it’s sexist…

or maybe you just don’t care about sexism as much as racism? God, you have me thinking too hard. That was a very unexpected post from you.

105 oolon March 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm

To all this “You don’t attack your friends when they say bad stuff” line… Not quite true. There have been instances where bloggers on FtBs have said things that are ableist (Carriers retard outburst) or could be seen as homophobic (Jason Thibeaults douche remark) and others where they were criticised… Thing is the criticism never quite reached the levels of Stefanelli, Shermer and Loftus for one very good reason. While the ones that apologised probably experienced some reaction to that criticism (But..But.. I’m not a bigot!) they realised it was interpreted that way or their intent is not magic and they did a controversial thing… They *apologised*… Yuk! How could any real sceptic ever admit they have made a mistake? They should have doubled down and carried on post after post defending their words and how them not meaning to hurt means those hurt should fuck off. Nothing is less “atheistic” than acknowledging your words can hurt and perpetuate damaging stereotypes.

Of course the Slymepitters handles these two groups differently

1. You apologise and admit you made a mistake
–> Slymepit sniffs weakness so mentions it for eternity as proof of that persons hypocrisy and iniquity
2. You double down and refuse to apologise under any circumstances while ratcheting up the bigotry
–> #braveheroes and role models for Pittizens

What does this say to the Pitter attitude? Apology and admitting you are wrong should be avoided at all costs … Doesn’t matter what you say as long as FtBs/Skepchick don’t like it and you refuse to back down then you are ok by them.

106 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Oolon, um yeah, you may get shit for your “mistake” especially when you have so many other mistakes to apologize for and it’s not that easy to forgive the mistakes committed in the attitude of femtheism esp. when its still IN the person.

But its better than not apologizing and standing behind it. The more one realizes their mistakes and apologizes the better.

107 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm

So not apologizing to avoid being judged as a self righteous asshole doesn’t make any sense. That’s worse. The more the righteous ones apologize the better.

108 Eu March 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Oh, I read your entire post. Even when they are criticized, there are tons of other things that went unchecked and they aren’t blocked, ostracized, and called pieces of shit or amoral scum like people that aren’t friends are. I feel like if its that fucking bad you should drop the friend too. If I’m serious about calling someone amoral scum I’m going to AT LEAST drop a friend who shares the same characteristics.

109 CommanderTuvok March 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Oolon, why no mention of Zvan’s defence of Laden? Why no mention of the fact that Watson NEVER apologises for anything, even after getting caught lying about Coffee Loving Skeptic, and calling Ed Clint a rapist, among just a few “incidents” of the past two years.

She simply continues without a thought in the world, presuming she is immune to criticism and her words and actions infallible. Her cognitive dissonance addled followers lap it up.

110 Cian March 10, 2013 at 2:38 am

Thanks for the article Michael, and the sober way in which you have dealt with this, even though I haven’t agreed with all you have written ( I really would like to hear yourself and Justin chat about this on his show as I think both your temperaments can work to bring the two sides closer ).

After reading your well written and thoughtful article it was so disappointing to see the comments descend intro bickering again so quickly ( not to mention boring and exhausting ).
I admit that the behavior of the main players on the FTB side rubbed me up the wrong way along time ago ( in style, not on feminist issues which I think most of us actually are pretty close on ), but we really are all allies on so many things.
Can we not view each others sides with more charity and not jump to the worst characterization instantly? We are all flawed in method and thought, none of us are infallible ( with no Pope at the moment its actually official :) … for a few more days anyway.

PZ, Ophelia, Justin, Ed Clint et al are all on the side of secularism and equality as far as I can see – probably the aggression we/they have had to use in the face of dogmatic, judgmental religious dominance should not be used against each other ( irresistible force – immovable object ).

It would be great to see rational actors from both camps brought together before the trenches get so deep that only both sides will lose. ( I’m dreading the day when the religious start using this against us ).

111 Cian March 10, 2013 at 2:42 am

I thought these two points really resonated:

Accept that each of us is likely to be right about some issues and mistaken about others. Try to approach each issue on its merits, rather than on the basis of which side you think the person is on.

Accept that we might be mistaken about what other people are trying to communicate to us, and what their motivations might be. Accept that we might have made mistakes when communicating to others, and that we might have unfairly hurt people without realizing it.

Hats off …

112 Eu March 10, 2013 at 3:53 am

Cian, if FtB is saying that, it’s just lame neutralization and the opposite of exaggeration.

113 Pitchguest March 10, 2013 at 5:03 am

It’s all lies, all of it! That’s all we have. Sally Strange says so!

https://twitter.com/SallyStrange/status/310537208094420994

After me: if you say it loud enough, it becomes true! Or you can pray. Same outcome, really.

114 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 7:33 am

oolon said (#105):

There have been instances where bloggers on FtBs have said things that are ableist (Carrier’s retard outburst) or could be seen as homophobic (Jason Thibeault’s douche remark) and others where they were criticised… …. While the ones that apologised probably experienced some reaction to that criticism (But..But.. I’m not a bigot!) they realised it was interpreted that way or their intent is not magic and they did a controversial thing… They *apologised*… Yuk!

While I figure that Carrier probably was off the wall in his diatribe, I also figure that Thibeault’s apology was under duress of one sort or another – probably the threat of the Inquisition hanging over his head – and was totally uncalled for. The latter case seems to be a particularly egregious abuse of due process starting from the fraudulent accusation that Thibeault was homophobic because he happened to make some mildly off-colour comment that some homosexual man wasn’t much interested in women’s vaginas. Since the definition of homosexual (1) is “of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex”, one would think that most sane, rational, charitable, and dictionary cognizant individuals would recognize that “not much interested in women’s vaginas” is a reasonable paraphrasing of that definition.

What does this say to the Pitter attitude? Apology and admitting you are wrong should be avoided at all costs … Doesn’t matter what you say as long as FtBs/Skepchick don’t like it and you refuse to back down then you are ok by them.

Nice narrative you’ve got going there Oolon; never let the facts get in the way of a good rant, or of making categorical statements that demonize your opponents and appeal to the crowd: demagoguery in a word. More specifically, I note that John Brown recently apologized to EllenBeth Wachs, and she to him – although I have yet to see a credible one from her to the Pit for virtually accusing us all of being racists, and that Tina (2) apologized to you for accusing you of being the source of the recent Benson photoshop. And there have been other cases of that in The Pit before this recent, welcome, flurry.

—–
1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homosexual”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/08/some-reflections-on-the-recent-dialogue/comment-page-1/#comment-197820”;

115 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

Pitchguest said (#113):

It’s all lies, all of it! That’s all we have. Sally Strange says so!

https://twitter.com/SallyStrange/status/310537208094420994

After me: if you say it loud enough, it becomes true! Or you can pray. Same outcome, really.

Interesting conversation and comments in that series, notably this one:

Sally Strange ‏@SallyStrange
@micknugent I’m a nobody, but your Slymepit posts have given a platform for lies & personal attacks against me. Worth it? Why?

Curious though that she hasn’t actually tried to disprove those “lies”, or to refute whatever she thinks are the causes of those supposed attacks, or to even provide evidence for them. And likewise with Ophelia Benson’s “you’re destroying me in the process” (1) which is equally questionable. Considering that probably the easiest way to prove that those supposed “nasty pushbacks” qualify as such – at least in their cases – is to prove that there is no substance to those “lies & personal attacks” – in Sally’s case – and to whatever is supposedly “destroying” Ophelia in her case.

That they are not engaging here on those questions doesn’t seem to add a lot to their credibility.

1) “_http://atheiststoday.com/blogs/elevatorgate/?p=2296&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter”;

116 mel March 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

Michael, Ophelia Benson has told you that your efforts are destroying her.

Regardless of your intentions (remember, “intent isn’t magic”) you are destroying her.

So. What are your plans for this dialog? It stops now, right?

117 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 10:45 am

mel said (#116):

Michael, Ophelia Benson has told you that your efforts are destroying her.

Regardless of your intentions (remember, “intent isn’t magic”) you are destroying her.

So. What are your plans for this dialog? It stops now, right?

Really? Is that so? You don’t think that that might not be a little bit of drama, a whole lot of histrionics? What evidence do you have that that is any way actually and factually true?

If whatever charges are supposedly the cause of that “destruction” are not factually true then they should be easily refutable, or at least it should be possible to present a credible case against them. Why isn’t that being done instead of moping and wailing that she is on the eve of destruction? And if they are true then one would think – as Oolon seems to have tirelessly argued (1) – that the best course of action would be simply to concede the points – with or without the requisite apologies.

1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/08/why-atheist-and-skeptic-groups-should-be-inclusive-caring-and-supportive-republished/comment-page-1/#comment-198555”;

118 Stephanie Zvan March 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Gosh, Michael. Thanks for opening up yet one more page for people to spread their lies about me. I can’t tell you how helpful this entire dialog with people who, say, throw out 2,000 words of my post about them excluding women to claim it’s about me wanting to exclude them has been. Or with people who say that calling something a problem and inappropriate is defending it.

Silly me, but I thought a commitment to dialog also required a commitment to truth.

119 Jeez loueez March 10, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Why do atheists live in the past?

At some point will pêople here stop fighting over the deck chairs and take a look at the list?

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/mosque-for-3000-gets-goahead-in-capital-29119030.html

And here 10 million and counting…

Believe it…or else!

http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/47963

120 Submariner March 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Yes, Micheal please count the number of times in these series of posts you have hosted where someone affiliated with the slymepit has stated or even implied that they wish to “exclude women” as Ms Zvan claims is our motive. I believe you will reach the grand total of zero.

In fact you will find women FROM the slymepit falsifying Ms Zvan’s claim. This is not about excluding women. It’s about a radical and unfalsifiable ideology which is trying to take over the narrative of the atheist/skeptic community.

It appears as if TAM has found some wonderfully accomplished women speakers, some I had not heard of before, for this year’s presentation. I welcome the new (to me) women speakers and look forward to hearing their presentations as they will likely NOT be the same victim narrative we’ve been getting for the past two years.

121 Eu March 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Stephanie, dialogue is done by humans, you know, people? who may lie or tell the truth. If you want to rebut any lies (not that I saw anything about you so I can’t name them specifically) why not do it in your next post? The only people who suffer are those in the dialogue that aren’t here, or are here and don’t want to rebut it.

122 John C. Welch March 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Zvan @118

Let’s try something simple: why is it wrong, regardless of context, for anyone to use one of the commonly accepted dimutives of your name, i.e. Stef, steph, steffy, etc., but your use of “Dick” for Richard Dawkins was okay because Dick is a commonly accepted diminutive for Richard.

One would think, given your sensitivity to the improper use of dimutives, that you would use them in a similar fashion.

What’s up with that?

123 John C. Welch March 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm

*would not use them*

124 Eu March 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

When did the pit ever imply they want to exclude women from… whatever it is? There are WOMEN from the pit commenting here. lol, straight up lies.

And Michael, don’t listen to them. How are you destroying Ophelia because the slymepit is on your blog? How dramatic and very offensive. Geez.

125 Edward Gemmer March 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Gosh, Michael. Thanks for opening up yet one more page for people to spread their lies about me.

Protip: It’s not about you.

126 Philly March 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Steersman #117: Time for some Feminism 101, not that a misogynist would care.

If you’re a non-misogynist man and a woman says you’re hurting her you don’t demand she prove her feelings, you stop. What you’re doing is irrelevant, you stop doing it. You apologize and make amends. You ask her what those amends should be because that’s her call. Then you do them It’s really very simple…. for *non-misogynist* men.

127 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Stephanie Zvan said (#118):

Gosh, Michael. Thanks for opening up yet one more page for people to spread their lies about me. ….

Silly me, but I thought a commitment to dialog also required a commitment to truth.

And which supposed “lies” would those be, Stephanie?

The one where I said (1) that you had my recent comment on your “Not About Words” post (2) in moderation, the proof of which is manifestly obvious and available for all to see (3)? The comment that I had to post on the Pit (4) because that is the only place that actually stands behind the principle of freedom of speech? Or maybe the one where I said that you had other comments of mine still in moderation after several months? Any other “lies” you wish to contest?

You and the rest of the FreefromThoughtBlogs mob talk a great game about dialog, but when it comes to putting your money where your mouths are the facts prove the lot of you are all horn and no drive-shaft.

1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/07/slymepit-members-struggle-with-the-ethics-of-removing-photoshopped-naked-image/#comment-198395”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/06/not-about-the-words”;
3) “_http://i46.tinypic.com/20hx3jm.jpg”;
4) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=72712#p72712”;

128 Eu March 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm

So, that’s why she didn’t clarify what the lies were or defend herself. No lies. Hahaha.

129 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Yea. And Ophelia Benson is destroying her own reputation by bitching and complaining about moderation on Richard Dawkins site when her own site – and the rest of the FfTB ones – is one of the most heavily – and capriously – moderated ones in the entire blogosphere. Details at 11 (aka the Pit).

130 tina March 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Michael:

Hope you had a good weekend. Thanks for persevering with this dialogue, it’s a lot to cope with and I’m sure you’ve come under considerable pressure to pull the plug on it. I hope you’ll be able to resist such defeatist counsel.

I want to expand on my comment last week about a section in your good article about the need for a caring, inclusive and supportive ethos in our community. You say this:
“How we can start to be more inclusive, caring and supportive?
I believe that we can reverse this pattern. I believe that we have enough reasonable people, with different beliefs about these issues, to be able to calmly reassess where we are, how we got here, where we are heading, and where we want to go. Most of us are involved in atheist or skeptical communities because we want to interact with like-minded people, and we also want to help to improve the world a little bit. We now need collective leadership to do this effectively.”

The bit I wished to query was the last sentence. The reason being that, to me, skepticism is a state of mind. States of mind don’t really require leadership as such, unless, well, unless they are a religion or an ideology of some kind.

As Stephanie Zvan puts it in the last paragraph of a recent blogpost:
(http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/06/not-about-the-words/#more-4837)
“The last thing we’re doing right now is having an argument over what words are polite. This is an argument over who gets to participate in our movements. Don’t forget that for a minute. It’s the only light in which all of this makes sense.”

I tend to agree with that. It’s not really about words, or sexism, or misogyny, or feminism. It’s about participation and upon what grounds that is denied or granted, and about in who’s hands that inclusion or exclusion rests. So, yes, it is about power and about leadership.

So, I think all of that needs to be looked into. What it means, what it implies, and so on.

If you don’t give in to the pressure to pull the plug, I think probably the next stage is to begin thinking about, what sorts of small (even symbolic) compromises each side might be willing to make. I don’t know if there will be any. I don’t even know if there could be any. I’m not even sure if either side want any. But when negotiating across seemingly intractable positions, it is those small steps that might give entry to a bit of light rather than heat. You probably know that better than most of us.

Anyway, that’s a question both ‘sides’ might begin to ask. Maybe it would give you a break from having to play pig in the middle, for a while at least.

What do you think?

131 Steersman March 10, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Philly said (#126):

Steersman #117: Time for some Feminism 101, not that a misogynist would care.

So then you’re calling me a misogynist? And your evidence for that would be what? Other than something you’ve pulled out of your ass, that is. And in the absence of which, since such accusations are deeply and profoundly “hurting” to me, and since I know that you are not a misandrist or a misanthrope, I’m sure you’ll cease and desist in any further such. As otherwise you would be a hypocrite which I’m quite sure that you wouldn’t want to be characterized as, and which I’m quite sure that you are … not ….

If you’re a non-misogynist man and a woman says you’re hurting her you don’t demand she prove her feelings, you stop.

Curious how so many feminists – Ophelia Benson in particular (1) – insist that “beliefs aren’t actually a matter of identity and shouldn’t be treated as if they were”, that no one has a right to not be offended – to not have their feelings hurt, when the “woo” they’re talking about is religious and “New Age or ‘alternate’ beliefs”, yet get all huffy, defensive, and decidedly “nasty” when their own quite specious, spurious, and unevidenced beliefs – notably that “gendered” insults target whole classes, and that “[atheist activism], it’s more of a guy thing” is, ipso facto, sexist – are viewed and criticized with a skeptical eye.

Equally curious that Ophelia Benson apparently didn’t much consider Michael Shermer’s “feelings” when she peddled the bare-faced lie that he “said exactly that”, and when she, in effect, accused him, with absolutely no evidence at all apart from her “feelings”, of being a sexist (2).

Sauce for the goose; sauce for the gander ….

1) “_http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2012/01/09/belief-is-part-of-identity/”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/#comment-198737”;

132 Pitchguest March 11, 2013 at 12:44 am

#118 Stephanie Zvan

Such a shame about your moral quandary. I’m sure all the people you’ve slighted (Justin Griffith, Paula Kirby, Sara Mayhew) feel sorry for you. In the meantime, however, let’s adress your claim that people here are “spreading their lies” about you. To begin with, it would have been nice if you provided a frame of reference so we know just what kind of “lie” we’re dealing with here, because I have no idea what you’re referring to.

Is this what you’re referring to?

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/06/not-about-the-words

Because if so, then I would add that you’re not being very honest in your assessment. In it, you refer to an anecdote (where you don’t say whether it’s real or fabricated) where someone asks the question of why so few women are involved in the sceptical movement and they responded that the men in the movement apparently didn’t think they could match up to their wits as well as treating them as mere sexual objects. Then you imply (in not very subtle words) that these tactics are employed by the Slymepit and people like them. In which case, aren’t you the one spreading lies?

You know as well as I do (you’ve been to the ‘pit, you’ve read it, you’ve seen it, don’t pretend you haven’t) that the ‘pit have women as members as well as men and that these women are not considered by the male membership as either a) too lacking in wits to match up to their male counterparts or b) mere sexual objects and frankly it’s insulting you would imply that.

Finally, you sure have changed your tune about Michael Nugent. In that blog post of yours, he’s doing an “excellent job” in letting Justin Vacula demonstrate he has no interest in dialogue. What changed? Is it that our comments are accepted as well as yours, Stephanie? Is it that Michael hasn’t turned the comment sections into echo chambers, echoing a specific kind of narrative (namely yours)? In fact, one of “your own” (Felix) even said (regarding Ophelia) that Michael’s dialogue “is the attacks.” I am not joking.

_http://atheiststoday.com/blogs/elevatorgate/?p=2296&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

So do you want him to continue this dialogue, or don’t you?

133 Eu March 11, 2013 at 4:01 am

@ Philly

LOOK IN THE GOD DAMN MIRROR. YOU ARE SEXIST.

The post below was sexist as fuck, you seem to think in sexes of “man” and “woman.” Because he’s a man, he should cater to a /woman’s/ feelings, or else he dislikes women? Sounds exactly like that guy who was sexist against women (and men) in terms of domestic abuse. But of course, the “sexist against men” part would not matter to people like this. He was a guy who would call guys who dare touch a woman misogynistic, and always highlighted the fact that they are a man.

It’s called benevolent sexism, Philly, don’t fucking do it. It’s truly hurtful to ME, so practice what you preach:

You are a man, Philly, and a woman told you not to be sexist, so don’t. I am so tired of Freethought Blogs benevolent sexism as well as hostile sexism, it’s like the saying, “the only good racist is a dead one,” since racism and sexism do the same things, it makes sense that I hate sexists just as intensely.
Not to imply that I want them to have the death penalty but I wouldn’t try too hard to save their lives or feel too bad if I hear about them on the news. Just disengaged in feeling much care towards them when they disgust me so much.

Steersman #117: Time for some Feminism 101, not that a misogynist would care.

If you’re a non-misogynist man and a woman says you’re hurting her you don’t demand she prove her feelings, you stop. What you’re doing is irrelevant, you stop doing it. You apologize and make amends. You ask her what those amends should be because that’s her call. Then you do them It’s really very simple…. for *non-misogynist* men.”

134 Eu March 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

Ugh, so pissed off right now. This is (one of) my berserk button(s) but I’m commenting in a place that attracts FtB-type people so I do expect it to be pushed. Philly, if you want to reply, go ahead but I’m not reading it, I doubt you’ll think yourself over and I am too pissed off atm to read a comment *in defense of* your last one. Even if you have an epiphany, that’s nice, and I apologize, but I’m not taking any chances if I can help it (as in scroll past your name and not process what you say, like, ever. It’s hard but I’ve done it before)

135 Eu March 11, 2013 at 4:06 am

Steersman, why didn’t you point out the obvious fact that the post was sexist as fuck to you as well as to women? I never want someone to cater to my feelings just because they want to be a nice, caring-to-women non- misogynistic MAN. Fuck that. You being a man has nothing to do with it and neither does Philly being a man, and it was condescending as fuck.

Fuck that guy.

Okay, I’m done, but it kinda pisses me off when someone doesn’t point out obvious things about these people, perhaps you think it’s okay to be all “man should do foar woman or they’re sexist” too???

136 Steersman March 11, 2013 at 5:20 am

Eu, you said (#135):

Steersman, why didn’t you point out the obvious fact that the post was sexist as fuck to you as well as to women?

Well, you certainly gave him (?) both barrels there – bloody good show! :-)

Not that I disagree with that assessment or charge of sexism, but to answer your question, maybe because my radar to detect that isn’t quite as finely tuned and calibrated as yours is. I sort of have to go on an analysis of the hypocrisy of the situation, that he would think that Benson’s feelings in this case should carry any more weight than the feelings of anybody else: generally speaking, at least when push comes to shove, pretty close to zero, or to zero difference. But it seems that that perspective or argument boils down to the same one you made that to “privilege” the position of either women or men over that of the other is sexism, pure and simple.

At least unless one wishes to argue that there are substantial genetic differences in the sexes that produce very significant differences in the behaviours and capabilities of the sexes that would justify that type of preferential treatment – which seems the last thing that that bunch would be willing to do. Although I generally don’t have a problem with that argument, but I would make it “some genetic differences”, and generally draw the line at “preferential treatment” such as modifying civil rights on the basis of sex or gender. However, I think there are some details in the issue wherein a devil or two might reside ….

In any case, to change gears a bit, and on the off chance that you haven’t run across the formatting commands that work here, you might want to take a look at the “Reply” section of Zvan’s blog – any FfTB one, for that matter – which lists those that work there, and some of which work here. There’s even a helpful Preview to try out your missives.

Cheers. :-)

137 Eu March 11, 2013 at 7:30 am

I didn’t read most of your post. I accepted that there was a good excuse for not pointing out the sexism, and I sense you also want to show me how to post better?… but I dont want to go FtB so just tell me.

138 Steersman March 11, 2013 at 7:48 am

Yes, but unfortunately I don’t know how to copy the commands that work as they display differently than how they are put into a post.

But briefly, for example, if you want to blockquote something you put the left angle bracket “<” followed by the word “blockquote” [without the quote marks], followed by the right angle bracket “<”. Then you follow that by the text and then you follow that with the left-blockquote-right combo except that the “blockquote” is replaced by “/blockquote”.

This might work as a summary (doesn’t on FTB): "” [Text] “” – without the quotes and mashed together.

Here’s a link to one of Zvan’s posts: “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/06/not-about-the-words” – you won’t get cooties by going there – at least physical ones ….

139 Eu March 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

Um okay so it’s like

Bla bla bla

140 Eu March 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

Yay I did it ^^ thanks. Also did you turn down the email?

141 Steersman March 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

Yea!

Maybe sometime down the road, particularly if we are discussing something on a blog that needs clarification outside of it.

But really been spending far more time on these FTB/SlymePit issues than I should be ….

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