A proposed agenda for structured dialogue to move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities

by Michael Nugent on March 20, 2013

Having read the comments so far here and on other websites, and the opinions shared privately by others, I want to suggest a five-item agenda as the basis for a structured dialogue to move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities.

Please read this proposal in a charitable frame of mind.

It is a proposal for structured dialogue between individuals, not between imagined monolithic groups, and the power of any outcomes will lie in their content and how they were formulated, and not in any assumed authority.

It is aimed at those of us who want to move beyond the rifts and to build strong, inclusive, caring and supportive atheist and skeptic communities and groups, that promote robust and rational debate of issues while avoiding needlessly hurting people.

It is not aimed at people who want to escalate the hostilities, or who want to continue to cause unnecessary hurt to other people.

Before I propose the agenda, I want to describe its context.

What is the prize of a successful outcome?

The World Atheist Convention in Dublin two years ago was an optimistic time for many atheist activists. We debated science and religion, secular education, communicating atheism, combatting blasphemy laws, confronting or accommodating religion, women atheist activists, and building secular coalitions.

We adopted the Dublin Declaration on Secularism and the Place of Religion in Public Life. And we launched the newly restructured Atheist Alliance International as a truly international support network and advocacy group for promoting change.

At that Convention we had, enthusiastically working together, some of the people who are now prominently associated with the current rifts, as well as many people who are not. There was a sense of camaraderie, a sense of awareness that we were involved in a project bigger than our own personal priorities.

We had people who were battle-hardened by enough campaigns to not be naive about what was possible, but who felt that we were on the cusp of contributing to something important.

We had, and I believe we still have, the potential to harness that intellectual and political energy into an effective international movement that is inclusive and caring and supportive while promoting robust debate and free speech.

We had, and I believe we still have, the potential to combine the best contributions of many good people on all perceived ‘sides’ of the rifts, who are currently unable or unwilling to work together, because they have been unfairly misrepresented and hurt by people who in turn have been unfairly misrepresented and hurt  by others.

I am giving this context not merely to focus on the prize of moving beyond the rifts, but also to highlight that the effect of the rifts goes well beyond personal disagreements between people on different blogging networks and internet forums.

The rifts are both hurting people on all perceived ‘sides’ and also harming the day-to-day work of atheist and skeptical and secular advocacy groups around the world. We need to resolve both of these consequences of the rifts, because both are important.

A charitable opinion of other people’s motivations

I have a charitable opinion of how the rifts developed. My personal biases may make this easier for me than for others, because I know and like (for example) Richard Dawkins, Paula Kirby, PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson, and I believe that all four are good people who are devoting a lot of voluntary time to trying to improve the world in ways that they sincerely believe to be good.

If your personal experience causes you to believe that (for example) Richard and Paula are good people, and that they are being unfairly misrepresented, then please try to consider that (for example) PZ and Rebecca may also be good people who are being unfairly misrepresented.

If your personal experience causes you to believe that (for example) PZ and Rebecca are good people, and that they are being unfairly misrepresented, then please try to consider that (for example) Richard and Paula may also be good people who are being unfairly misrepresented.

If you know that you are a good person, and that you are being unfairly misrepresented and hurt by others, then please try to consider that you may also be unfairly misrepresenting and hurting other good people who disagree with you.

How did we get from there to here?

I see most of the escalating series of events as well-meaning people, on all perceived ‘sides’, making well-meaning comments, that were unintentionally hurtful to others, partly because they were made in environments where robust debate is encouraged and comments are made hastily.

Entangled with these well-intentioned interactions, a small number of other people were deliberately trying to increase conflict, either for fun or to hurt people they disliked. And some people on either perceived ‘side’ started to respond – in an equally hostile way – to both the well-intentioned people who disagreed with them and the people who were deliberately trying to increase conflict and hurt them.

At least four separate substantive issues have now become entangled in this escalating conflict. They are sexism and harassment, ideological disagreements about issues including feminism and free speech, personal abuse and bullying, and a tendency to hype up disagreements and attribute malign motivations and escalate hostility.

The general atmosphere of escalating hostility has spread to other issues, and other individuals not associated with the original problems have been treated in an equally hostile way. Off-the-cuff comments have been screen-grabbed for future reference, unscripted remarks have been recorded and transcribed, and it is now harder for anyone to withdraw from previously held beliefs even if they wanted to.

In this atmosphere, the small number of people who are deliberately trying to cause harm have been able to sit back and watch well-intentioned people tear each other apart or refuse to work with each other, while the majority of atheists and skeptics are bemused and disappointed by the inability or unwillingness of people who are supposed to be reasonable to lead by example and act reasonably.

Proposed agenda for structured dialogue

Based on the contributions to these and other discussions in recent weeks, I think a reasonable dialogue could have these five agenda items:

1. How we can work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world.

2. How we can balance the right to freedom of expression and robust debate about ideas and issues, with the desire to not unnecessarily hurt people who disagree with us about those ideas.

3. How and to what extent our various communities and groups should have ethical and equality and social justice issues on our internal and external agendas.

4. How we can each, as individuals, lead unilaterally by example by behaving reasonably and charitably and constructively, while others are not doing so.

5. Any other issues that people believe are important to address.

I think it would be helpful to discuss these issues separately, with the awareness that they all tie together, but focusing on one at a time.

They are sequenced in an order than can gradually build trust by starting with items on which there is agreement, then moving through principles of how we can choose to behave, and ending with practical actions.

While this is a dialogue between individuals, it will obviously be strengthened by the involvement of individuals who are perceived to be associated with different perceived ‘sides’ on these issues.

If you are interested in taking part in a structured dialogue between individuals based on this agenda, please let me know.

Any suggestions for how best to practically develop this process are welcome.

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{ 720 comments… read them below or add one }

501 Eu March 22, 2013 at 3:00 am

Jack did you see what I said?

502 Jack March 22, 2013 at 3:08 am

A Hermit (496)

‘Jack: The Slympit is opposed to the community being politicised by radical feminism or whatever someone wishes to call their more extreme brand of feminism. We consider that will damage the community. That is it’s primary purpose.’

‘ So the benefit to the A/S movement of your “inclusive” forum is to make sure that feminists you disagree with are excluded…

Pretty much what I thought actually.’

Fail again, I didn’t say that. This is known as ‘Strawmanning’

503 Eu March 22, 2013 at 3:16 am

No, they do a pretty good job in being inclusive and trying to get people there (and they don’t have the boogeyman hiding behind the door either).
However… the other side has no problem with exclusion, some even with this:

“I hope the supporters of Justin realise that we can intimidate people like him out of his position. It sends out a strong signal to the rest of the community.

We will come after you as well, if you are a misogynist. We will launch petitions to harass you. We will get you in the end.

There is no room for people like Vacula in our community. Let this be a lesson.”

504 Eu March 22, 2013 at 3:19 am

The above comment went unchallenged, it would probably have gotten some likes if it were Facebook. I’m not surprised.

505 Dan L. March 22, 2013 at 3:23 am

lol

506 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 3:24 am

Gurdur:

So you admit you used a transphobic slur.

Yes.

You weren’t banned for using transphobic slurs, you weren’t dogpiled for it, you weren’t even much criticised.

Did you read the thread? Did you read how it all happened from my perspective? Maybe the people who bothered to read my send off of Becky Transsexual understood what I meant by “trans fatty” since they all knew David Marjanović fairly well. Maybe none of them even knew it was a slur. Maybe everyone was more focused on the outsider yelling out the Nazi accusations and being deliberately transphobic and emasculating to lots of people at Pharyngula? How would I know? I sure didn’t know it was a slur at the time. That kind of behavior doesn’t square with me or with them. So, I ask again that you be more charitable to everyone on that thread and be factual in your referencing of it.

My two points stand; one, you used transphobic slurs,

Re one: I did not. I used one transphobic slur and I didn’t even know I had. You and the other person from the slimepit who made the accusations of transphobia against me probably didn’t even know. Both of you had to put words I did not use in my mouth to hype up what I actually did say. Certainly no one pointed out to me that “transfatty” is a slur. I found that out myself by searching through Urban Dictionary. (By the way, I’ve also found out that it is used by some people to mean that they believe they are fat when, objectively, they are not–another weird twist to the meaning of that word.) I think the least you could do would be to acknowledge that. However, if you wish to believe that your presentation is the kind of person I am, go ahead and believe that in spite of it all.

and two, it was perfectly OK with many in that enviroment till criticism came — from outsiders.

If you are being charitable, you cannot say that for certain. You and I do not know why no one on that thread told me not to use a transphobic slur. And besides that, one of the reasons I think you are mischaracterizing everyone on that thread is because plenty of them did fight against the transphobic slurs coming from people who used “tranny”, which you should know if you had really bothered to read the thread in its entirety. So it wasn’t “perfectly OK” with people at Pharyngula except for one person–and he left soon afterwards.

Did you ever apologise to the actual person?

I take that to mean you have not actually read my blog post about it. But since you ask, this is as close as I will ever come in apologizing directly to Becky Transsexual: http://beckytranssexual.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/ive-seen-the-face-of-heterosexist-transphobia-and-it-sure-aint-pretty/#comment-116

Did you ever make a full, unqualified apology directly to the victim for having used such a transphobic slur on a thread where the transsexual was objecting to other homophobic hate-speech from others?

Please see the previous link and tell me what you think. I’m not sure you quite understand, though, that Becky Transsexual was the one lobbing the verbal bombs (at least, the ones I knew about).

No? Why not? Why have you not made any unqualified, full apology to the actual victim in this case, who has a blog?

I have made as much of a communication to Becky Transsexual about it that I ever will. I do not want her to communicate with me at all any further given what she has already said to me and others I care about.

To repeat: homophobic utterances (should I quote them from that OP and thread of comments)

Yes. I don’t know what you are talking about in this case.

and transphobic utterances were not only allowed, but often used in that enviroment.

Just because they were allowed doesn’t mean they were approved of or condoned. I think that thread stands as a testament to how much transphobic slurs are not tolerated at Pharyngula, barring the one that I wrote.

And you have the chutzpah to declare yourself against such hate-speech.

I am against hate speech. I shall never read a food label again without it reminding me of when I screwed up on Pharyngula in that thread.

You admit the veracity of my points,

Nope. I do not. Your points were wrong as far as I can tell. You were not being charitable, which is why I wanted that thread to be exposed to the sunshine of everyone.

yet you areabusive towards me elsewhere about having it pointed out.

I have been abusive toward you verbally on Twitter, but I didn’t use hate speech. Quite frankly, I don’t like you based on everything I’ve heard about you, read from you, and from the way you have been less than charitable to me personally and to my friends.

Hey, colour me seriously unconvinced of the genuineness of any FTB basis against actual sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

I still wonder if you read the thread or not? Please do and make sure you start at the top, read linearly, allow for lag between responses, and remember the environment in which it flared up was during Wally Smith’s sockpuppeting all throughout Pharyngula and other places.

It was all OK till it became un-OK,

That is how things go sometimes. Is that supposed to be an indictment of Pharyngula? Because I don’t think it works.

and only because outsiders — like the transsexual you attacked — kept up the criticism.

Becky? Nah. She did nothing but anger and scare and hurt people. Any valid criticism she may have had was lost in her frenzy to attack everyone in a sweeping roundhouse. From what I know, the real life-changing criticism at Pharyngula has come from within, not from outsiders. People there were willing to take some time for introspection and that’s where the impetus for change came from.

To all: This whole thang about “gendered slurs” is all quite new, no? Just a handy excuse for sayin, “My abuse is perfectly OK, your abuse means you are evil”?

The evidence does not back you up w/r/t Pharyngula. I have gone back much further than 2011 and still found people concerned and speaking up about gender slurs on Pharyngula.

A very serious problem.

At least we agree on that!

Until you deal with your culture of abuse, expect no sympathy from outsiders like me. The hypocrisy and opportunism is only all too evident.

OK then, Gurdur. Just please try to be more charitable to your opponents in the future. Representing people and communities accurately and fairly is important.

507 loyalb March 22, 2013 at 3:30 am

Dan L.-

This whole “rift” discussion isn’t going that badly, is it? Granted, it’s only a few people talking things out so far, but it’s only been going on a couple of weeks, and this is pretty much the only place where all sides can congregate in relative peace. If nothing else, the fact that you’ve stuck around this long must mean you’re enjoying it on some non-masochistic level. Not trying to call you out, just offering a different perspective on your memorable (and morbidly funny) “inevitable failure” line last night.

508 Russell Blackford March 22, 2013 at 4:08 am

Skepsheik:

Russell, (comment 4) I think we have a (civil!) disagreement over accomodationism. I would place myself fully in the non-accomodationist camp and yet I don’t think I have any major disagreements with the likes of Chris Mooney or Michael Ruse over core issues of science and religion. Both accomodationists and non-accomodationists are atheists who agree that science and traditional religion are incompatible in terms of how they provide validated knowledge about the world. The difference is that accomodationists seek to temper the public language of atheism so that moderate religious people can find a gap or two to squeeze in their God.

Thanks for the civility of the disagreement! Perhaps I should blog about this separately, rather than going into it deeply here, but this is of some general importance so let me bang on for a few paras. Maybe I’ll later do a version on my blog.

I won’t say you are “just wrong”, because perhaps the terminology was used as you describe by some people in some forums, and these things can get awfully confusing. One outcome is that people can be saddled with positions that they have never articulated and don’t actually hold.

But I can assure you from being right at the centre of this debate that what Jerry Coyne and I, and others, were on about when we criticised “accommodationism” was the idea that science and religion are compatible and/or that the idea that we should not be arguing for their incompatibility in the public square.

Thus, the people we branded as “compatibilists” included Christians such as John Haught and Kenneth Miller, who argue that religion and science are compatible; organisations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Science Education, which have policy positions to the effect that there is no incompatibility between science and religion; the late Stephen Jay Gould with his NOMA theory; atheist philosophers such as Michael Ruse who dream up theories about how science and religion might be reconciled (something I don’t object to all that much, but it certainly bugs some anti-accommodationists) and/or claim that it is politically dangerous to put science-based arguments against religion (Ruse does this all the time); other atheists such as Matt Nisbet who have gone as far as to suggest that Richard Dawkins should go quiet in public as a science advocate, having (supposedly) lost credibility with many Americans for using science-based arguments against religion; and of course Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum who argue in their book Unscientific America that religion has the resources to avoid conflict with science, and are scathing (and downright nasty) about Richard Dawkins, and who have, at least in Mooney’s case, criticised Jerry for criticising the likes of Miller in public.

As anti-accommodationists, we were disagreeing with the above cluster of positions. Note that Mooney and Ruse have, indeed, argued against both the science/religion incompatibility thesis (with reservations in Ruse’s case) and against the political wisdom of arguing publicly for the thesis.

So an “accommodationist” in the discussion was someone who argues for science/religion compatibility and/or that it is politically expedient to go along publicly with the idea of science/religion compatibility. People who were criticised as accommodationists included Christians like Miller, as long as they argued for science/religion compatibility.

By contrast, those of us who identified as anti-accommodationists were basically saying 1. science and religion are (in some serious sense) not compatible; and 2. it’s fine to say this in public.

It was never our position that this needs to be argued in an uncivil way, or generally that religious people should be treated without proper civility.

Indeed, what pissed us off about the spurious Tom Johnson story was the claim that anti-accommodationism, such as displayed by Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins, leads to rudeness and nastiness in real life. The story was used by Chris Mooney as Exhibit A for such a claim.

While we may not have been totally consistent about this, and you might find counter-examples of how we used the terminology, I think you’ll find that we were fairly consistent (in fact, I think I was fairly rigorous about it). Anyone who thought that they were defending “anti-accommodationism” in arguing in favour of nastiness and personal attacks misunderstood what anti-accommodationism was in the minds of the leading anti-accommodationists, and what we were trying to convey and achieve. I should only speak for myself here, but I think that bigger players on the anti-accommodationism side, such as Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, would agree with much or most of what I’ve written above.

Of course, others may have been running a different agenda under the flag of “anti-accommodationism”. If their agenda involved nastiness, personal attacks, etc., then I hereby disown them. If people in the forums you were frequenting were using the label “anti-accommodationism” in that way, then there is obviously a grain of truth in what you’re saying, but it will have misled you into not understanding the most interesting aspects of the debate.

And again, none of this is to deny that actual anti-accommodationist thinkers, such as me, sometimes lost tempers or engaged in satire or personal attacks, or whatever. Doubtless that happened from time to time. Some of it may have been relatively gentle satire that was justified (I think that satire has its place). Some of it may have crossed lines (as when, in a moment of anger and poor judgment, I called Chris Mooney a “disgusting traitor” for taking Templeton money). Some of it may have fallen in a grey area. But the fact remains that anti-accommodationism is essentially a philosophical position that science and religion are (in some interesting and serious sense) incompatible.

Since this is all a bit peripheral to Michael’s purpose, maybe we could discuss it further on my blog at some point, or by email. Or read 50 GREAT MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISM when it appears in September to see exactly what Udo Schuklenk and I argue as anti-accommodationists. Or read Jerry Coyne’s most definitive statement so far: Coyne, Jerry A. 2012. “Science, Religion, and Society: The Problem of Evolution in America.” Evolution 66(8): 2654–2663.

509 Dan L. March 22, 2013 at 4:35 am

loyalb@506:

I’m exhausted and frustrated. I really don’t think there can be any reconciliation between people who can’t recognize that the other people also feel aggrieved and for both sides to be willing to make concessions to that fact.

But it feels like most of the people I’ve talked to here have a zero-sum outlook on this — they are not willing to accept that the other people might have some legitimate reasons for feeling the way they do and they are not willing to moderate their accusations of bad-faith. They will only be satisfied by the other people completely and unequivocally take responsibility for all the bad feeling and apologize for their bad behavior.

Some people seem to have serious problems with the fact that they’re expected to moderate either their tone or language according the the venue. They cannot seem to accept that when they make particular arguments in particular contexts that those arguments might be poorly received even if well-intentioned. Other people I think believe themselves to be well-intentioned and seeking open debate but in actuality just want to try to intellectually bully others into their point of view.

The Discussions on Rape Prevention thread has had its ups and downs but I think mostly downs. No one seems willing to engage with existing material on rape prevention. Everyone is ignoring the best arguments on the thread in favor of bickering over petty details.

I agree that the ” ‘pit side” has a few legitimate grievances but that doesn’t mean I think you guys have a very good approach, here. If you want there to be a reconciliation, that is. If you want to take an epic principled stand on Michael Nugent’s blog then you guys are actually doing fine.

TL;DR I am not optimistic.

510 Tessa March 22, 2013 at 5:14 am

Jack:

Generally it is the total acceptance of the concept of Patriarchy (men are to blame for everything and women are the victims),

That’s not what Patriarchy is. Patriarchy is (in the simplest way I can explain) the result of society’s enforcement of gender roles, expectations, and stereotypes. These end up putting men in power and women as support for and dependent on men.

And about Esteleth’s comment about “anti-woman”. Jack, don’t look at “anti-woman” as being against woman, or hating women, look at it like matter and anti-matter. Anti-matter doesn’t hate matter. It just can’t BE matter, or occupy the same space as matter. Because it’s anti-matter. That is what Esteleth was saying. By being “male” and “masculine” one cannot be “female” and “feminine” and those who value “maleness” or “masculinity” avoid things labeled as “female” or “feminine”. The use of quotes in her post should have helped show that the quoted words were ideas, and not physical identity. This idea is supported by the reset of Esteleth’s statement because they say:

It also sets up the process whereby something is claimed by women (access to something, right to have a particular habit or practice, clothing styles, etc) and men are allowed only what is “left over.”

and
Sharing – if it happens at all – is grudging, and subtypes of the “men and women both can X, but men Xa while women Xb, and na’er the twain shall meet” quickly form and are swiftly codified.

*crosses fingers that block quotes worked*

511 Eu March 22, 2013 at 5:57 am

Tessa,

I hope you understand that Jack was describing their definition of Patriarchy. With the numerous things they blame on patriarchy and how they talk about it, they definitely have a different definition from yours. Methinks that even if the conservative ways of “woman depend on man” were gone, they would still be talking about it, because frankly most of what they said is a result of patriarchy has shit to do with what you described in your definition.

Now that’s a reasonable thing to complain about in terms of patriarchy. (Your definition.) It used to be so much of that in the old days but now thankfully more and more women are getting to do what they want.

512 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 6:01 am

loyalb:

Does it denigrate women? I don’t think so.

But let’s not skip the fact that it does denigrate a body part that most women do have and most men do not.

Does it denigrate men to be called dicks? Not really. If anything, it associates assertiveness with maleness.

I agree. I leave open the possibility that it does hurt some men, so I am happy to go along with people, blogs, or other communities who wish to eliminate that kind of denigration from their vocabulary as well, but it doesn’t bother me at all.

“Dick” has several big differences to “twat” that I know of. For one, “dick” is a rich and varied word; it can be a man’s name, a family name, a way of saying “any man”, a shortened way of saying “detective”, a way of describing someone (usually a man) who is “rude” (which can be good as well as bad), and a kind of food. English speakers are fairly good at distinguishing which meaning is meant depending on context, and they also are able to use it in ways that reference more than one of those meanings.

“Twat” is not like that, especially not in the USA, but it apparently does have a second meaning in some English-speaking societies that is similar to “fool” from what I’ve heard. It is not, however, a name, first or last. It is not a dish. It is not shorthand for anything. I tried to get this point across to John Greg long ago by reminding him that “john” is much like “dick” and, similarly, not very much like “twat”. Running into a man named “John” or “Dick” is common. Running into a woman named “Twat” would be very strange indeed.

The loosening of language mores about gendered insults — go ahead and count how many times you heard the “t” or “c” words in 50′s media — represents the trend towards equality.

When there are women named “Twat” (in English, of course), I’ll agree with you. When “twat” means more than a body part or an insult, I’ll agree with you. I don’t believe we are there yet. I also don’t think a scorched-earth policy of changing the culture is the best way to go about it. How about instead of using it as an insult, you find a non-insulting way to use it and try to change the culture that way first?

Does it unjustifiably offend a third party? Probably, but that’s a heckler’s veto. Every one of my favorite shows offends the Parent’s Television Council, but that’s not a good reason to stop watching.

In my opinion, it is only a heckler’s veto when you, the person saying “twat” as an insult, do not care about offending others by saying it.

And so on… I think the rest of your objections depend on the premise that sexualized insults necessarily degrade womanhood. It’s not that simple.

It is a metaphor when used as an insult in the case of “twat”, so I think it does necessarily degrade something that is for most women a part of being a woman. “You are like this thing we call a twat.” The implication being we don’t like twats (the body part) so we don’t like you. There just isn’t enough separation between the primary meaning and the secondary meaning yet. And besides, even if there is or if there were, using “twat” as an insult still would have the problem of piggybacking on the prevalent attitude in English-speaking cultures that womanly things are less valuable than manly things.

many freethinkers seem so proud, so morally-assured, merely because they know which rules to follow. But ask them why to follow those rules (excluding yourself, Aratina, you answered my concerns very fairly) and you’re automatically a misogynist.

I was just talking to someone about Dr. Laura. She was so certain she wasn’t racist at all that when challenged as to why she doesn’t say the n-word on air, she called the person’s bluff and said it over and over. She got into big trouble for that. Similarly, I think the problem you are seeing is really that these people being told to moderate their language not only refuse, they insist on not doing it and pull the equivalent of a Dr. Laura. I’ve sat and watched them do it in real time at Pharyngula and Butterflies & Wheels, even going so far as to sockpuppet just to be able to type out “twat” or what have you one more time. The question is, does that make Dr. Laura racist (or racist-ish), and then does that make someone doing the equivalent with “twat” a misogynist (or misogynistic)?

*not to be a prude, everybody knows which words I mean, but I don’t know what the standards are here so I’ll stick to the abbreviations.

Please tell me if that is right, Michael, and I’ll not type out those kinds of words again. My complaint, however, is on the word itself but on its usage as an insult by Phil and Pitchguest.

513 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 6:26 am

Steersman:

Assuming that by “slur” you mean a word that applies to a group – a definition (4) that is not at all supported by any dictionary I’ve ever run across, rather easily (1), although how much water it holds is another kettle of fish:

I mean that it is a word that denigrates a whole group or the quality of being a person of a particular group. I’m afraid I don’t really understand what you mean.

Nothing in there that I can see that even remotely suggests that it is automatically applied to all women – the definite article – “a”, as in “a woman”; “denoting a single but unspecified person or thing” (2) – is the key.

“Indefinite”, I think you mean. But still, I don’t understand what you mean by it not being automatically applied to all women. I don’t think it applies to all women when it is used to insult a single woman–that would be highly ridiculous.

You might also want to take a look at the Wikipedia article (3) on the term as well, which has this interesting bit on the connotations of various “profane” words:

She doesn’t think her daughter is what? Don’t use the word itself to answer, but one of its meanings. They both work. The literal one is kind of funny in a goofy way.

As with most gendered insults – all insults in general, I think – context has a very large influence on the meaning ascribed. As does self-aggrandizement or self-righteously wanting to feel offended ….

Yes. Context is key. Self-aggrandizement? Not so much, in my opinion. Who are we to judge how much an insult hurts someone, especially if we are trying to be charitable? Self-righteously feeling offended? Depends on what insult is being said and the context.

514 Tessa March 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

EU,

Tessa,

I hope you understand that Jack was describing their definition of Patriarchy. With the numerous things they blame on patriarchy and how they talk about it, they definitely have a different definition from yours. Methinks that even if the conservative ways of “woman depend on man” were gone, they would still be talking about it, because frankly most of what they said is a result of patriarchy has shit to do with what you described in your definition.

I really don’t think my definition is all that different. Gender roles and expectations are deeply entrenched into all facets of society.

Before I go on, I’d like some examples of what “they said is a result of patriarchy.”

515 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 7:00 am

Cage: it wasn’t used as an insult but as a friendly dig at Louis. He and I are indeed IRL friends. Although I lived in the US for an extended period of time in my teens, I mostly got my english vocabulary from a British environement and culture. “Twat” really does have a different meaning in the UK, particularily when used to address a friend.

If Michael objects to its use here, I will refrain. If Louis asks me to apologize, I will do so. But one thing has to be clear: I will not do so as a result of your demands, Aratina. Michael and Louis are the only persons who have any authority to ask me to retract. Nothing personal, but I don’t like being silenced by third parties.

516 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 7:08 am

Tessa said (#510):

*crosses fingers that block quotes worked*

All of the FTB sites have a preview function in their commenting section that I’ve found quite useful to check comments before posting them here (same set of commands, largely in any case) ….

517 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 7:10 am

Eu said (#511):

It used to be so much of that in the old days but now thankfully more and more women are getting to do what they want.

Which I’ve seen argued is the result, in part, of the reproductive freedom provided by “The Patriarchy”! Funny way of oppressing people …. ;-)

But I think that the Patriarchy – as a concept – probably has less substance than Big Foot, and no more utility than a homeopathic remedy. Curious that the latter two are generally looked at with a skeptical eye while the first with one quite a bit less so ….

518 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 7:14 am

Aratina Cage said (#513)

I mean that it is a word that denigrates a whole group or the quality of being a person of a particular group. I’m afraid I don’t really understand what you mean.

And I don’t understand how people think a gendered insult applies to the entire sex – unless people identify more as their genitals than as their personalities – talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket – figuratively speaking at least.

What I was getting at was that nothing in the dictionary definition gives any indication that it necessarily applies to the whole group or sex. If someone says “all men are pricks” or “all women are cunts” then that seems quite clearly to qualify as insulting all members of those groups – and probably qualifies as misandry or misogyny. But calling some man or some woman, respectively, a prick or a cunt because they were particularly obnoxious? If someone was to, analogously, call me a rapist, would that necessarily lead you to being offended on my behalf, particularly if there was some evidence that I was guilty as charged?

Really seems to be some rather unfathomable if not actually weird mental machinery happening with many people for them to be offended when someone else is insulted, particularly by gendered epithets.

Not that I think such insults help move the conversational ball downfield very effectively – like the nuclear option, I tend to rely on a “no-first-use” policy ….

“Indefinite”, I think you mean.

Right you are; my mistake. Thanks.

Who are we to judge how much an insult hurts someone, especially if we are trying to be charitable?

Curious how little that perspective informed actions and words on Pharyngula during the heyday of the porcupine “joke” – and even now. But the point is that insults are used because they hurt someone so that being charitable tends to go by the boards at that juncture.

519 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 7:26 am

Jack said (#502):

A Hermit (496)

‘Jack: The Slympit is opposed to the community being politicised by radical feminism or whatever someone wishes to call their more extreme brand of feminism. We consider that will damage the community. That is it’s primary purpose.’

‘ So the benefit to the A/S movement of your “inclusive” forum is to make sure that feminists you disagree with are excluded…

Pretty much what I thought actually.’

Fail again, I didn’t say that. This is known as ‘Strawmanning’

Someone – maybe even some other people – seems to be judging one site by the “standards” that seem to prevail at another …. But maybe that applies in all or virtually all cases – rather difficult to come up with a standard that is or should be applied in all of them.

However, more particularly, A Hermit seems not to realize that those feminists “we” disagree with are not excluded – virtually all are entitled to present their cases if they so desire. I certainly think that banning is decidedly counterproductive ….

520 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:27 am

Phil_Giordania_FCD:

Cage: it wasn’t used as an insult but as a friendly dig at Louis. He and I are indeed IRL friends.

Then why the crack about it upsetting “social justice warriors”? You could have simply called him that in jest (to show you could get away with it perhaps?) without taking a crack at people who are not your friends.

Although I lived in the US for an extended period of time in my teens, I mostly got my english vocabulary from a British environement and culture. “Twat” really does have a different meaning in the UK, particularily when used to address a friend.

Everything has a different meaning when used to address a friend, especially insults. That was never the issue.

If Michael objects to its use here, I will refrain. If Louis asks me to apologize, I will do so. But one thing has to be clear: I will not do so as a result of your demands, Aratina. Michael and Louis are the only persons who have any authority to ask me to retract. Nothing personal, but I don’t like being silenced by third parties.

I hope that clears up exactly why I am taking my complaint to Michael Nugent directly. Phil would rather he be able to sour the atmosphere here instead of moderating his own language in the aim of having both sides talk to each other civilly, and he ignores how he both chided people who are not privy to the details of his friendship with Louis and opened the door for people who are not friends of Louis to follow suit.

521 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 7:43 am

I give up, this is becoming way too silly.

522 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

Steersman:

And I don’t understand how people think a gendered insult applies to the entire sex – unless people identify more as their genitals than as their personalities – talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket – figuratively speaking at least.

Think “Vagina Monologues”. The problem is that it is yet another thing associated with women, mostly, that is seen as a bad thing. All the negativity adds up, you know.

What I was getting at was that nothing in the dictionary definition gives any indication that it necessarily applies to the whole group or sex. If someone says “all men are pricks” or “all women are cunts” then that seems quite clearly to qualify as insulting all members of those groups – and probably qualifies as misandry or misogyny. But calling some man or some woman, respectively, a prick or a cunt because they were particularly obnoxious? If someone was to, analogously, call me a rapist, would that necessarily lead you to being offended on my behalf, particularly if there was some evidence that I was guilty as charged?

I think you are missing how, even though in your mind it may have nothing at all to do with body parts, it actually does for a great many people, and not just any body part either, but one that is closely associated with women. Being a rapist is a having demonstrated a behavior, it’s not a typical quality of being a person of one sex.

Curious how little that perspective informed actions and words on Pharyngula during the heyday of the porcupine “joke” – and even now. But the point is that insults are used because they hurt someone so that being charitable tends to go by the boards at that juncture.

I wasn’t actually part of that discussion, but I value Pharyngula and since the culture there has changed, I have changed with it. But let’s look at why I don’t think the porcupine joke is problematic at all–it’s ridiculous and absurd. It isn’t something you can do to yourself or would do to yourself (to sit on a porcupine or worse, that is). It’s a form of an over-the-top humorous insult.

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read the threads where it was hashed out to quit doing it. I suppose the worst part about it is that it is vulgar and sadistic, but I don’t think it was used unjustifiably for the most part. And yes, insults hurt. You don’t use them unless you are being ironic or intending to cause pain, and some kinds of insults hurt far more than the target they are intended to hit, and other kinds do much more damage than is intended or ethical.

523 loyalb March 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

@aratina 512

A few final thoughts on this before I go to bed-

“Slash” is an uncommonly used derogatory term for women. The few times I’ve seen it used, it has always had an ugly, explicitly misogynistic undertone. The word “slash” also has some innocuous meanings which the slur is derived from. Nobody would bat an eyelash at hearing the word “slash” in public. There’s even someone named Slash (pseudonymed, anyway). Point is, there’s a related meaning predating its usage as, basically, a euphemism for vagina and a derogatory metonymy for women. Similarly, with “dick,” per eymonline.com:

“fellow, lad, man,” 1550s, rhyming nickname for Rick, short for Richard, one of the commonest English names, it has long been a synonym for “fellow,” and so most of the slang senses are probably very old, but naturally hard to find in the surviving records. The meaning “penis” is attested from 1891 in Farmer’s slang dictionary (possibly British army slang). Meaning “detective” is recorded from 1908, perhaps as a shortened variant of detective.

Maybe I’m being pedantic, though.

I think the question is, “where does the vulgarity of these words originate?” That’s as much a psychological question as an etymological question. I think “cunt” and “twat” (may as well) carry some extra weight of vulgarity, compared to “cock” and “dick”, because of the residue of Victorian attitudes towards women’s sexuality in English-speaking countries. It’s not so much a matter of hatred of women as it is the weird mixture of shame, danger, and sacredness specifically associated with women’s sexuality.

Shouldn’t there be a point where we’re equally comfortable talking about male bits and female bits, and won’t it represent a step towards equality?

Having said all that, I recognize that there are people who use “cunt” and “twat” specifically because it provokes a certain reaction. I hate seeing that every time, and I think I get now why Phil G’s “heads explode” comment bothered you so much. I think it was meant more as a commentary on political correctness than something like… I don’t know… lording his privilege over the women who find “twat” offensive. That’s just my take on his use, though. When it comes to communication, intent is magic. Intent is everything.

In other cases, where some people in our community have used the words “cunt” and “twat” specifically to get a rise out of certain women, let me ask: please, please, please cut it out. It might have been worth the shock value the first few times, or worth letting off the steam, or whatever, but it’s gone well beyond the point of subversive playfulness.

@Dan L.

When you say the dialogue has its ups and downs, that’s still an improvement over the usually situation, which is only downs, and imo is therefore cause for optimism.

And now it’s way later than I thought it was. Thanks for listening/responding.

524 loyalb March 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

“etymonline,” even. dangit.

525 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

loyalb: actually, my “heads explode” comment was referring to the fact that despite saying Louis might be a twat, he is a good person. I could have phrased it better but It was not a commentary about the word “twat”, it was a commentary that I still consider Louis to be a good person, and it’s not something that appears to be common in SJW politics, which seem to paint everything in either black or white.

I hope that clears things up.

526 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

Seems I need to clarify something, so I will. Never let it be known that Pitchguest is not without charity. (Ha!)

To Aratina @ #443:

I said Ophelia had fabricated the slur because she had. You see, the qualifier is in the extra ‘k’ at the end. So I was not wrong. I was not uncharitable. I was looking for uses of the word ‘Rebitchka’ with a ‘k’ and not ‘Rebitcha’ without the ‘k’. So I’m sorry, but that particular slur (with the ‘k’ added) was all Ophelia, I’m afraid.

I hope that clears up any misunderstanding.

As for calling Louis a ‘twat’, well that was in response to Phil and obviously a joke. However I don’t really care about words like that, because I know what they mean. On the other hand, you seem to want to look at it very uncharitably and consider it a ‘gendered slur’ which clearly wasn’t the intent. It’s time you stop this faux fainting around these words because you know we don’t mean them in that way and besides, wasn’t there a dispute regarding Dan Fincke’s pledge about how he was trying to censor your language for a more polite alternative? Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing now?

You know, how you wouldn’t be able to call people assholes and idiots anymore, or fucking fucks, or wishing to shove a rotting porcupine up someone’s rectum? Fatty? Trans fatty? On a scale, what is that compared to twat or cunt, or prick or dick? I don’t know. I don’t think I would like to forcefully shove a porcupine up someone’s rectum. I’d much rather call them a wanker. You know, why be clever when you can just be accurate.

527 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

Sally Strange said (#464):

If you can agree that Jack’s interpretation of Esteleth’s statement is wrong, then I will be happy to discuss the ins and outs of the various waves and branches and whatever other metaphors of feminism with you. But if you think that Jack was correct in his interpretation ….

To pick up the thread again, I think there’s some evidence to justify concluding that both your interpretation and Jack’s are somewhat flawed, and bedeviled by various misapprehensions. With the result being somewhat of a “Who’s on First”, or a “The Importance of Being Earnest” comedy of errors. And the point where Esteleth’s comment and subsequent discussion seem to go off the rails is on the question of “The Patriarchy” itself – which both you and Esteleth seem to think has as much substance as block of granite, and as much influence as the law and phenomenon of gravity.

For instance, as an example of what I would call a rather dogmatic – and problematic – perspective on your part, you said earlier (#367):

Characterizing Esteleth’s post as one slagging of men in general just for being men is, well. It’s one of those times when you have to ask, “Lying? Or stupid?” Because there’s really no other reasonable explanation.

Well, one “reasonable explanation” – one possibility – that springs to mind is simply that that abstraction that Esteleth’s argument is predicated on – i.e., the Patriarchy – has far less causal influence than you both seem to want to grant to it. That is, that you are wrong – which you commendably conceded was something that you were open to. But what evidence do you both have that there is anything more to it than an amorphous collection of attitudes and values, that it isn’t an instance of the fallacy of reification (1), of “treating an abstraction as if it were a real thing”? And in which case one might reasonably argue that the superstructure built on top of it – notably Esteleth’s “definition of male and masculine [as] neither female nor feminine” – is equally flawed – castles in the clouds.

But if you insist that there is some substance to that conception, and that the influence of the Patriarchy is as pervasive and as pernicious as she and many other feminists claim it is, then it must logically follow that most men – at least those “damaged” by that Patriarchy – are in fact “ANTI-WOMAN”. Now I don’t know what dictionary she was using, but mine provides the definition (2) for “anti” of “A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice”. And since the Patriarchy is conceived as something that is supposedly inimical to the best interests of men and women, it would then seem to follow that that “opposition” is equally inimical to women – which might reasonably be construed as all men – at least those who have failed to evade the clutches of the evil Patriarchy – hating all women. Seems like Jack has made a perfectly reasonable inference from the “premises” – most will consider them fantasies at best – to the most logical conclusion.

Yet you and Esteleth seem to be basing your interpretation on a very different connotation to the word “anti” – not at all supported by any dictionary I’ve referred to, and which seems reasonably summarized by doubtthat (#378):

The statement is merely that once a certain behavior has been defined as “feminine,” like sewing or knitting, then society constrains masculinity such that people look down on men wanting to knit or sew. Masculinity, then, is defined by actions that are anti-woman, not partaking of “feminine” activities.

Looks to me like Jack’s interpretation is the more credible one, while yours, Esteleth’s, and doubtthat’s seems predicated on a reification and an unsupported dictionary definition.

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(fallacy)”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anti”;

528 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 9:07 am

Just to add, I will of course apologize to Michael Nugent about calling someone a ‘twat’ if he wants me to.

529 oolon March 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

@Gurdur

A very serious problem. Until you deal with your culture of abuse, expect no sympathy from outsiders like me. The hypocrisy and opportunism is only all too evident.

I doubt anyone wants sympathy from “outsiders” like you… You are not an outsider but a hypocritical ass who hung out with Franc “Cunt kick” Hoggle and said nothing about his use of misogynistic language.

However you do spend a lot of time trying to prove FtBs is rife with transphobic hate speech based on one instance from Aratina that was accidental and he apologised for. Even if it was not accidental, it was apologised for! But according to you this instance from years ago is “proof” of a “culture of abuse” and hypocrisy. While at the same time avoiding my question about you opinion on transphobic hate speech in general –> do you even think it exists? Or are you using FtB standards to try and beat them in a rhetorical point, because it sure seems like it from here. You have not said what you think of the Slymepit *approved* gender neutral “noun” of “s/h/it” to describe trans people…. This is not an “accident” or apologised for by anyone on the Slymepit – hangers on or the core people. What is you opinion of that Gurder the “impartial outsider” ? Especially as an ex-Slymepitter, I would think you’d be more worried about their “culture of abuse”?

I would also add to Aratinas personal view of you, I “abuse” you on Twitter as well, although in my case its mostly laughing at your opinion that we all “obsess over you and envy” you. When Stephanie wrote her “I object” post in regard to you I thought it was over the top as you seemed a little dim at worst. I didn’t know the history at the time and now its clear you are intellectually dishonest, arguing a point you presumably don’t even believe in to “win” points against ppl you are grinding an axe for. Unless you can give me your view on the pits transphobic slur? I still could be wrong.

BTW… My browser wants to spell check “Slymepit” … The auto-correct is “Self-pity”! Even Chrome understands the pit better than Gurdur and his pals :-)

530 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

Aratina Cage said (#522):

But let’s look at why I don’t think the porcupine joke is problematic at all–it’s ridiculous and absurd. It isn’t something you can do to yourself or would do to yourself (to sit on a porcupine or worse, that is). It’s a form of an over-the-top humorous insult.

Ah, so you’re saying then that your interpretations of what qualifies as an insult and how much hurt is felt are to carry the day? If you had some objective evidence then you might have a case. Otherwise? Looks rather self-serving and hypocritical to me.

Seems to me that if people insist on using insults then they should expect to have them come back at them – and in spades. And to hide behind some claim that some are verboten because of “splash damage” is simply just so much egregious horseshit.

531 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

I’ve published a new post with some reflections on the dialogue so far

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/some-more-reflections-on-the-dialogue-so-far/

532 Tessa March 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

Yet you and Esteleth seem to be basing your interpretation on a very different connotation to the word “anti” – not at all supported by any dictionary I’ve referred to, and which seems reasonably summarized by doubtthat (#378):

You were using the wrong definition, that is anti. Without the dash. It is its own word and irrellevant.

Anti- (with a dash as is in the quote by Esteleth):
a prefix meaning “against,” “opposite of,” “antiparticle of,” used in the formation of compound words ( anticline ); used freely in combination with elements of any origin ( antibody; antifreeze; antiknock; antilepton ).
(emphasis mine)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anti

533 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 10:09 am

Some people have asked for my opinion of people using gendered slurs, or indeed any personally abusive comments about other commenters, in this dialogue.

Can you please voluntarily choose to avoid using such language here?

It will make the whole process much easier for everybody, and more likely to end up with a positive outcome.

534 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 10:11 am

Michael: message received.

535 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

#526 Pitchguest,

I said Ophelia had fabricated the slur because she had. You see, the qualifier is in the extra ‘k’ at the end. So I was not wrong. I was not uncharitable. I was looking for uses of the word ‘Rebitchka’ with a ‘k’ and not ‘Rebitcha’ without the ‘k’. So I’m sorry, but that particular slur (with the ‘k’ added) was all Ophelia, I’m afraid.

I think you could be more charitable there.

Most people would read the spirit of your original claim to be that she fabricated the general phrase, not just a variation on how it was spelled.

And even without the change in spelling, it seems unreasonable to disbelieve Ophelia when she says she read it in threads at ERV.

In any case, Ophelia has asked me to correct it, and I have done so (without mentioning you by name) within this new post about reflections generally on the process so far

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/some-more-reflections-on-the-dialogue-so-far/

536 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

Oh, and I will offer my apologies to Louis, even if he didn’t ask for it. This was not the right venue to use that word. Had I known from the start that it was going to be an issue, I would have used another word entirely.

Well, I guess I at a strict minimum owe him a pint and lunch.

537 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

#535 Michael

Yes. I have no reason to ‘disbelieve’ Ophelia when she says she’s seen it on ERV’s threads, but the fact remains that I was looking for instances of the term ‘Rebitchka’ with a ‘k’. Which, whether you like it or not, WAS fabricated by Ophelia.

Had I known to omit the ‘k’ then I would have found what Aratina’s talking about in the first result on Google. So again, I wasn’t being uncharitable. She didn’t see the term ‘Rebitchka‘ on ERV, she saw ‘Rebitcha’. Simple as that.

Yes, I’ll dial back the ‘gendered slurs’ (even though I don’t mean them in that way). Got it.

538 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

Pitchguest,

In that context, would you think it is fairer to suggest that Ophelia might have misread it, or misremembered it, rather than that she fabricated it?

539 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 11:23 am

#538 Michael,

Well it doesn’t matter if she misremembered it or not, does it?

I was specifically looking for instances of ‘Rebitchka’. I found them and I went great lengths to not misrepresent its use. I wasn’t looking for ‘Rebitcha’. So is it really on me when I said she fabricated the phrase? I mean, ironically she did, embellishing the phrase with a letter. But nevermind. Technically I’m right, but I don’t want to drag it on longer than it has to. Consider it buried.

540 magicthighs March 22, 2013 at 11:40 am

@Jack (457)

Even though Sally Strange mentions the deal with inclusivity in post 465, I’ll reply to your post.

“No one that I am aware of is asking for FtB to change one bit”

I never suggested that that was the case in my post.

“My ‘inclusion’ and ‘open’ comments are not related to that. They are related to ideas allowed within that forum.”

I find that odd, since inclusion normally relates to people.

“However FtB insists on accepting a certain brand of feminism.”

What do you mean they insist on accepting it? Some FTBers promote their views on feminism, sure, but I haven’t seen any of them say you have to agree.

“Therefore it is closed to certain atheists and non inclusive of those who do not share their views”
&
“It is not inclusive of the whole community as not everyone shares its particular philosophy”

So, because there’s a general consensus or particular philosophy on FTB it is uninviting to people who disagree with them?
Don’t you think the same thing goes for the Slymepit? It is closed to certain people who object to childish name-calling, photoshopping pictures of people you don’t like, and calling women “cunt”, and for people who just don’t agree that an unmoderated forum creates a welcoming environment suitable for them to participate.
Again, Sally Strange explains that quite well in her post.

“If it is to be expected that the whole community is required to follow a particular brand of feminism then that forum is reaching beyond its remit”

I haven’t seen anyone on FTB claim that the whole community is required to follow their particular brand of feminism. In fact, Atheism+ was started precisely because some people in the community don’t agree with focusing on social justice issues, and some people thought it would be a great idea to create a space where people could safely do so. That sounds to me to be the exact opposite of requiring others to follow you.

541 magicthighs March 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@Gurdur (482)

Did you even read Michael Nugent’s reply at post 99?

542 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Magicthighs #540:

There might be a problem in communication here. I see a “welcoming environment” as a place where you are welcome to state your opinions without the threat of getting edited, moderated, or banned on a whim. Michael’s blog is a good exemple of this, and whether you agree with it or not, so is the Slymepit.

Maybe you were thinking of a “safe space”, which is something completely different. The Slymepit is a welcoming environment, in that you are free to post there (within the limits of the law), but it certainly is not a safe space. Just like Pharyngula, for exemple, is certainly not a safe space for creationists. Nor a very welcoming one, when you think about it.

You said:

“I haven’t seen anyone on FTB claim that the whole community is required to follow their particular brand of feminism. In fact, Atheism+ was started precisely because some people in the community don’t agree with focusing on social justice issues, and some people thought it would be a great idea to create a space where people could safely do so. That sounds to me to be the exact opposite of requiring others to follow you.”

The problem is, being labelled a “bad person” by a group only because said person disagrees with some political points made by the group is a form of requirement to follow the group.

It wouldn’t be a problem for me at all. But I do identify as an Atheist, and this “Atheism +” label will lump me with these people. And now I’m going to be very honest and maybe break Michael’s rules of engagement a bit, but what I’ve read at A+ is borderfringe lunatic ramblings.

I don’t want to be associated with these people just because I’m an Atheist. Just as I suppose you don’t want to be associated with the people at the Slymepit just because you’re an Atheist. But at least, the Pit didn’t highjack the term “Atheism”, so you should be safe.

Anyway, if you don’t mind, I will take this to Michael’s new post (the load time on this one is starting to be veeeeerry long).

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/some-more-reflections-on-the-dialogue-so-far/

543 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I’ve written a new post: how do we evaluate good and bad and hurtful statements?

It is a response to some questions that Justicar asked me earlier in this discussion, about what I meant by saying that certain comments were hurtful.

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/how-do-we-evaluate-good-and-bad-and-hurtful-statements-a-response-to-justicar/

544 oolon March 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm

@pitchguest, I said you’d not apologise, do I win the Randi psychic challenge? Probably not because every time I’ve seen you online and someone points out you are spreading a lie you at best drop it with a grudging comment. You assert and run seemingly in the hope of getting a few hits on your target.

Why do you dislike Ophelia so much? Its weird as I cannot even remember you commenting at her blog… Even if all your little instances of when she “used” a slur or misspoke were true what does that even prove?

545 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

oolon, you spoke too soon.

The thing is, we both made a mistake and we (Ophelia and I) should both acknowledge it.

It’s funny you should wonder why I “dislike her so much”, though, because I don’t, and it’s funny because I don’t remember seeing you there either. Funny how that works. Except where I try to make her own up to her mistakes, you try to excuse them. So I guess my equally underhanded question would be to you, why do you like her so much?

And what does proving that she used a slur or misspoke “prove”? Really, oolon? Well, for one, it would “prove” she was being disingenuous. It would “prove” she wasn’t telling the truth. It would “prove” she wasn’t being very charitable. Honestly, what kind of question is that? “What would it prove?” Jesus Christ. Get a grip, mate.

546 oolon March 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Cognitive dissonance that hurts… This is an apology in PitchGuests world

So maybe we should just bury the whole thing by saying that both of us made a mistake and leave it at that? Yeah. Sounds good to me.

…. Wow.

I don’t know Ophelia, I like her writing as its everything mine is not, succinct and to the point :-)

I excuse a lot of mistakes, I make them all the while. I also think that anyone that is followed obsessively would make miss-steps. I’ve not seen a single one from the pit that sticks -> apart from the Nazi-TAM one that she apologised for. So I *respect* her all the more… Apologising when you make a mistake is a good trait, all the more so when there is a slavering horde of pittizens crowing about it. Of course you and the other pittizens never assert she likened TAM to Nazi Germany when you know she acknowledged it to be a mistake? Newp…

I dislike the ultra lack of charity exhibited by you and the other Pittizens in finding “mistakes” … I’d dislike it from FtBs, but they usually have obvious lies and insults to complain about so its hard to criticise.

Again what does it prove? She has principles and argues for them, you claim to have issues with these, *not* her. You don’t dislike *her*, just her ideas. But all the mistakes and miss-steps prove is that she is somehow flawed not her arguments and principles. Right?

So what are you tying to prove PitchGuest?

547 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

#544 oolon,

Can you please withdraw the allegation that Pitchguest was spreading a lie? That is attributing malign motivation based on your personal speculations.

And can you please not post comments that contribute nothing other than a personal attack on another participant in our dialogue?

Edit: #546 oolon,

Pitchguest’s apology was explicit:

I’m sorry, Ophelia, for being uncharitable.

548 Remick March 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

@ Doubtthat 436.

You said …..

“As I’ve said from the outset, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and as long as you aren’t actively trying to thwart feminist goals (however loosely described) we can probably coexist in perfect harmony.”

What you have refused to address is that combining Feminism with Atheism can actually harm Atheist goals. This whole notion of “replacing” religion. What needs to be replaced? Get rid of a bad institution and remove ignorant superstition from the thought process of billions of people. It’s absence would be the “replacement”. It’s absence is already a large feminist goal.

Though, I think we likely agree on far more than we disagree. Again, we are discussing tactics more than goals.

549 Pitchguest March 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

#547

Cheers.

550 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Steersman March 22, 2013 at 7:26 am

However, more particularly, A Hermit seems not to realize that those feminists “we” disagree with are not excluded – virtually all are entitled to present their cases if they so desire. I certainly think that banning is decidedly counterproductive ….

Except that Jack has clearly stated that the goal of the Slymepit is to get what he considers to be “radical” feminism out of the A/S movement.

That exclusion isn’t accomplished by blocking people from the forum, but it is pursued through a campaign of mockery, insults and even harassment. Much of it gender based.

You say everyone is entitled to post in the `pit, but why, for example, would a woman who is frequently referred to in that forum as “[vulgar term deleted]” want to even try to have a conversation there? Is it not reasonable for her to expect that she won’t exactly get a fair hearing for her ideas in that environment?

551 magicthighs March 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm

@A Hermit #550

That exclusion isn’t accomplished by blocking people from the forum, but it is pursued through a campaign of mockery, insults and even harassment. Much of it gender based.

Exactly. This is why I don’t understand how they can call the Slymepit inclusive despite the fact that they call someone a “[vulgar term deleted]“, while saying Atheism+ is exclusive because they call you “a bad person” when you don’t agree with them.

552 magicthighs March 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

For the record, I don’t agree that people are called “bad persons” for not wanting to be a part of Atheism+. Richard Carrier was the only one to voice that opinion on FTB if I recall correctly, and he was called out for it, and later retracted his statement. Others pretty much said it was fine if you didn’t want to be a part of the movement.

553 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

@Remick 548

What you have refused to address is that combining Feminism with Atheism can actually harm Atheist goals.

I’ll grant you that this is hypothetically the case. I don’t see how, you’ll have to provide an example, but I’m granting that position for the purpose of argument.

If that’s the case, I will be going to the feminist side. Social justice issues are more important to me (again, they don’t have to be that for everyone, though I advocate that it be) than some inchoate “movement” based on non-belief.

I suppose there could be some scenario where feminist goals would conflict with not atheism, but the scientific/Enlightenment philosophy ideology that we both want to be the positive position. I have yet to encounter that conflict on a fundamental level, and general when people claim feminists are dogmatic and irrational, they can’t support it, as the thread on rape has proven.

This whole notion of “replacing” religion. What needs to be replaced? Get rid of a bad institution and remove ignorant superstition from the thought process of billions of people. It’s absence would be the “replacement”. It’s absence is already a large feminist goal.

I don’t know how to say this any other way. The Soviet Union eliminated the Church and advocated a positive position that was horrible to women and everyone else.

Karl Rove is an atheist and should his ideology become ascendent in the wake of religion disappearing, that would be very bad for science and women’s issues.

The Albanian government launched a violent form of state atheism after WWII, murdering believers, destroying churches and temples, and humiliating clergy. I’m certain that no one here subscribes to that form of atheism.

Again, atheism is a non-belief that implies absolutely nothing in the way of positive positions. Now, within the context of a society, the mere act of advocating atheism can be intensely political, but that’s a particular instantiation of non-belief.

You and I want to subvert the influence of religion and replace it with a scientific rationalism.

I think part of that scientific rationalism involves advocating for women’s issues, you don’t. That’s our disagreement, not anything about the “nature of atheism” or some grand, conceptual matter.

There are libertarian atheists who think the insane gibberish known as Austrian Economics is a scientific, rational position. I disagree with them. All of this is perfectly fine, unless you’re demanding that people set aside important positions to congeal in some community based on non-belief.

554 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

@527 Steersman

Pathetic. I will let the previous work stand.

I am honestly astonished that people are working that hard to try and justify something so honestly silly. I am content to leave it to any reader to determine for themselves whose position is the more cogent.

555 Remick March 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

@ doubtthat.

The idea, which I think would be obvious, is that once religion is stripped away, we can have open conversations regarding any number of subjects without the taint of superstition. Isn’t that what you want? Wouldn’t that be a boon for Feminism and Equality in general?

You keep mentioning the soviet union, and now bring up Albania. Removal of religion was done for control, this isn’t a “form” or atheism, and the actual beliefs of those in charge are irrelevant. They made a tactical political decision, with the design of controlling a populace. These decisions were not made because of atheism.

As to Karl Rove. He is a greedy person. What does him being an atheist have to do with anything?

Being an Atheist doesn’t automatically make you a better person. Why should being an Atheist change who Karl Rove is as a person? In some ways he is a perfect example. He is an atheist, yet he manipulates the religious in order to win elections (for others)and get huge paydays for himself.

As Hitchens has said, Bad people will do bad things, good people will do good things, but to get good people to do bad things, you need religion.

That is all I am trying to say, if you take a way a tool of manipulation and control. You make it harder for bad people to convince/trick good people into doing bad things or supporting bigotry. You remove one of the brick walls. Imagine that there was no Leviticus, or whatever passage they try to cite for justification for hating homosexual people. Imagine they never had that indoctrination at all, would they even hate homosexual people then?

Perhaps you are just far too cynical, but repeatedly showing that bad people can be bad, even if they are atheists is proof of nothing.

556 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Couldn’t leave it.

With regard to Steersman, and this same thing happened on the other thread, the most annoying, argumentatively useless tactic of the lengthy, glib babbler is to resort to the definition. This isn’t necessarily a bad impulse, and certainly it has greatly improved many eighth grade essays, but what makes it malicious in this case is that people skim though the options and find the most self-serving definition.

So, to prove that “anti-woman,” meaning “defined in opposition to traditionally feminine activities, characteristics,” (obvious to all but those twisted by political objection), actually means “hatred of women,” Steersman offers the following amidst a sea of aimless babble:

Now I don’t know what dictionary she was using, but mine provides the definition (2) for “anti” of “A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice”.

First, of course, it must be pointed out that this definition is perfectly consistent with the reading I described and only supports the Jack-Steersman pernicious manipulation is you assume that “opposed to” means “hatred of.” I’m anti-Miami Heat in that I would prefer someone else win, this in no way implies “hatred” of the team or any player.

So already we’ve descended into a bizarre morass of ridiculous obfuscation just to rationalize an obviously silly point, but let’s analyze the word “anti” using this magical dictionary. We could use the following:

“opposite, or contrary in essential respects”
“situated opposite”

Of course, that would make too much sense as that is clearly what was meant. All men aren’t “women haters,” the scope of their identity in the modern world is constrained by an societal condemnation of partaking in “female” activities. It is opposite to, contrary to in essential respects, not HATING of women.

To be clear, here was Jack’s statement at 348:

But there was a post the other day on FtB which basically says all men are women haters by definition.

“Anti” can be used to indicate hate, but the mere use of the word, even as Steersman’s poor faith effort at cherry-picking a dictionary shows, does not automatically indicate such. You have to read the rest of the passage, and it’s freakin’ obvious.

Why do you persist in defending this nonsense? This is a problem right here. People can’t admit even the most obvious of mistakes if their politics demand group unity. This is charge often thrown at feminists, but holy shit, that must be projection as what’s going on here is incredible.

557 oolon March 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

@Michael, Oops PitchGuest linked to his comment after the apology so I missed this -> “I’m sorry, Ophelia, for being uncharitable. Now if you can offer an apology for embellishing with a letter and making me look like an idiot, I would appreciate that.”

So I lost my bet about PitchGuest, sorry PG! Maybe Michael is doing some good as that is an unexpected first.

So PG, why do you feel the need to find these examples and interpret them charitably or otherwise? What do they prove? You didn’t address that yet, probably cos I missed your apology in #546 as well… In fact no one has explained what these instances prove exactly?

558 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@Remick

The idea, which I think would be obvious, is that once religion is stripped away, we can have open conversations regarding any number of subjects without the taint of superstition. Isn’t that what you want? Wouldn’t that be a boon for Feminism and Equality in general?

Yes, that is more or less generally true, but it’s specifically true in the United States and most Western nations.

What is not true, and I don’t know any other way of saying this, is that simply eliminating religion will be sufficient to achieve all of your policy goals.

The mistake you are making lies in assuming the default anti-religion position is scientific rationalism. It isn’t. That’s why you and I and everyone who cares about these issues spends roughly equal time condemning religious ignorance and arguing for scientific rationalism.

You have somehow bundled that process into one grand event known as “atheism.” That’s not the case as atheists with a wide range of views throughout history prove. For example, libertarianism is a much more dangerous ideology that the sort of weak religiosity we see among Democratic politicians. If you gave me a choice between all atheist politicians who are libertarians and all god-botherers who are Democrats, I wouldn’t have to pause for a millisecond to determine my side.

You keep mentioning the soviet union, and now bring up Albania. Removal of religion was done for control, this isn’t a “form” or atheism, and the actual beliefs of those in charge are irrelevant. They made a tactical political decision, with the design of controlling a populace. These decisions were not made because of atheism.

I never said they made those decisions because of atheism, I am pointing out that simply being anti-religious will not necessarily result in the policy goals you prefer. Albania and the Soviet Union are examples of that. Extreme examples. Consider alt-med atheists in this country as a less severe example. They disbelieve in god, but have adopted a bizarre, psuedoscientific ideology. We don’t want that any more than we want god-bothering.

As to Karl Rove. He is a greedy person. What does him being an atheist have to do with anything?

It points out, once again, that merely being an atheist is not sufficient to attain policy goals. If the country was only atheist Karl Roves, we would be worse off than the current situation that involves a lot of religious gibberish.

As Hitchens has said, Bad people will do bad things, good people will do good things, but to get good people to do bad things, you need religion.

That’s clever, and I’ve used it before, but it isn’t true. Just consider the actions of our soldiers in Iraq. It is a feature of human psychology, religion being a subset of the things in our head, that we can convince decent people to do terrible things by advancing a perverse group morality. If you think every torturer is a sadist, you would be deeply incorrect. People thinking they were doing a great service to mankind did absolutely terrible things over the last decade.

559 SallyStrange March 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm

So, basically, no, Steersman can’t agree that Jack was objectively wrong in claiming that Esteleth’s post was an example of a feminist claiming that all men hate women.

So. No possible discussion there. Steersman is wrong; Jack is wrong; neither can admit it. I leave it to the readers to speculate on why that is.

560 Eu March 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

magicthighs, when people say that people are called bad for not wanting to be a part of Atheism+, what they mean is the reason – that you do not like the movement… there are other people that go “eh, I simply don’t want to be, I like to do my own thing/have my own group thing going on.” That’s not what’s meant by that. It’s clear people are bad for not liking the movement, though.

561 Eristae March 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm

This conversation has gotten so weird. It’s all over the place.

562 Eristae March 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm

@SallyStrange I actually think that the part of Esteleth’s post that you quoted in 366 (haven’t seen the whole thing) is brilliant, insightful, and explanatory. It helps me to understand why feminists face so much push back some of the time. Because femininity is viewed as bad, men may seek to defend themselves from being labeled as “bad” by not allowing women into their spaces. Maybe this should have occurred to me, but it did not; I always wondered why they were being so nasty to women when they (by virtue of their own words) wanted to get laid. Why run women off if you want to have sex? Answer: because it’s more important to not be associated with femininity than it is to get laid. Self-defense vs pleasure. Fascinating.

563 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Steersman:

Ah, so you’re saying then that your interpretations of what qualifies as an insult and how much hurt is felt are to carry the day?

If you (the general you) care about the person or people being hurt by the insult, especially if they are not the intended recipients, yes.

If you had some objective evidence then you might have a case. Otherwise? Looks rather self-serving and hypocritical to me.

Only if you ignore the complaints of the people you aren’t intending to hurt. I mean, you could always brush them all off, and sometimes you have to (think Ricky Gervais–he has to brush off thousands if not millions when he makes jokes about Christianity). And if you are roasting the person, then even jokes that would normally deeply hurtful would be acceptable. So you also have to consider the context in deciding how much empathy you ought to have.

Seems to me that if people insist on using insults then they should expect to have them come back at them – and in spades.

Even with insults that are what I call slurs that have a dehumanizing impact on their targets and others not even involved? I think we ought to consider the amount of damage and ask if it is ethical. Take Michael Richards’ (Kramer’s) n-word rant as an example of doing so much damage in response to hecklers that you end up ruining your own life.

And to hide behind some claim that some are verboten because of “splash damage” is simply just so much egregious horseshit.

All I’m asking is that there be levels of incivility. That there be considerations even with insults that take the potential damage a particular insult might do into account. Even if you were confronted with the worst character ever in the history of humanity, you might not want to use a slur to insult her. You might, instead, use an insult that is weighty but will not have much or any splash damage in such a case, but you may not mind dehumanizing that person. There are a lot of variables at play here, from my perspective.

564 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:09 pm

loyalb:

“Slash” is an uncommonly used derogatory term for women. The few times I’ve seen it used, it has always had an ugly, explicitly misogynistic undertone. The word “slash” also has some innocuous meanings which the slur is derived from. Nobody would bat an eyelash at hearing the word “slash” in public. There’s even someone named Slash (pseudonymed, anyway). Point is, there’s a related meaning predating its usage as, basically, a euphemism for vagina and a derogatory metonymy for women. Similarly, with “dick,” per eymonline.com:

I’m afraid you are stretching this too far. If, for example, there was a woman you didn’t like named “Sasha” and you modified her name to “Slasha” as an insult, I think hardly anyone would get it. “Slash” is much more readily understood to mean cutting something quickly with a sweeping motion. As for “slash” being used as a synonym for a body part or women, I had no idea about that until you told me just now, and I feel another perfectly fine word has been trashed again.

I think “cunt” and “twat” (may as well) carry some extra weight of vulgarity, compared to “cock” and “dick”, because of the residue of Victorian attitudes towards women’s sexuality in English-speaking countries. It’s not so much a matter of hatred of women as it is the weird mixture of shame, danger, and sacredness specifically associated with women’s sexuality.

OK, but please note that by using those words as insults, you are simply perpetuating the Victorian attitude that finds women’s sexuality shameful, abhorrent, dangerous, etc. As I said, using them isn’t the problem. The problem is using them as words that are meant to evoke damage in the recipient and the fact that using them that way also causes damage to people who are not the recipient.

Shouldn’t there be a point where we’re equally comfortable talking about male bits and female bits, and won’t it represent a step towards equality?

Of course! I don’t think that has ever been a question in this whole rift. That discussion is unrelated to the usage of slurs, isn’t it?

When it comes to communication, intent is magic. Intent is everything.

Not really. Agreement is everything. If both sides don’t agree on what a word or a phrase or an even greater linguistic construct means, then communication is hampered. If the speaker says something intended to mean “x” and the recipient and bystanders hear “y”, then who is at fault? There are so many reasons why the speaker could have been misunderstood. And suppose “y” is an offensive slur to the recipients and some bystanders, what then?

(Side track: The slur that sparked much of this was not intended to be meant nicely to the person it was aimed at in any possible way I can think of, so the whole intent discussion is separate from that as an issue.)

565 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

“(Side track: The slur that sparked much of this was not intended to be meant nicely to the person it was aimed at in any possible way I can think of, so the whole intent discussion is separate from that as an issue.)”

Citation seriously needed! I am the one who used the “slur”, so I am the one who knows what I intended by using it. And if the context of my comment and subsequents didn’t get you to understand I think very kindly of Louis and would not insult to hurt, then we have a problem.

566 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Pitchguest:

I said Ophelia had fabricated the slur because she had. You see, the qualifier is in the extra ‘k’ at the end. So I was not wrong. I was not uncharitable. I was looking for uses of the word ‘Rebitchka’ with a ‘k’ and not ‘Rebitcha’ without the ‘k’. So I’m sorry, but that particular slur (with the ‘k’ added) was all Ophelia, I’m afraid.

But you didn’t know about the “k” being extraneous until I started pointing that out to everyone. I am glad that you now understand your mistake was to assume that Ophelia never makes typos and/or never misremembers how a word is spelled. I really wish you would be more charitable to her. You have a history of saying things about her that were your misunderstandings, your mistakes. You have done the same to me before, too (I did not say “fuck” on that thread at Edwin Kagin’s, for instance). If you would only start being more charitable to others, they might actually be more open to hearing your thoughts.

As for calling Louis a ‘twat’, well that was in response to Phil and obviously a joke. However I don’t really care about words like that, because I know what they mean. On the other hand, you seem to want to look at it very uncharitably and consider it a ‘gendered slur’ which clearly wasn’t the intent.

So, instead of testing the waters by seeing if you could get away with calling someone at Pharyngula a “twat” on what is supposed to be neutral ground, you were actually joking privately with Phil and didn’t realize that everyone can read your words? I’m still at a loss for how that word when used the way you used it toward someone you are not friends with could be taken as anything but a slur, however commonly it is said. I can understand Phil’s friendly banter with Louis if they are indeed friends, but unless you are also Louis’s friend, then it seems to me like you should have opted not to say it.

It’s time you stop this faux fainting around these words because you know we don’t mean them in that way

I’m not fainting and I’m not being fake. I consider that word when used that way to be a slur. I’d rather it wasn’t used that way. It would be great if I could get you to understand that if you are going to use that word that way, it will first of all reflect badly on you in some circles, it could possibly hurt people even though you don’t intend to hurt them, some places might moderate you language or silence you if you use that word that way, and if you are going to call my friends that as an insult then I am not going to want to associate with you.

wasn’t there a dispute regarding Dan Fincke’s pledge about how he was trying to censor your language for a more polite alternative? Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing now?

Yes and no. There was a dispute about Dan’s civility pledge, but we are all in agreement that slurs are words that we ought to self-censor.

You know, how you wouldn’t be able to call people assholes and idiots anymore, or fucking fucks, or wishing to shove a rotting porcupine up someone’s rectum? Fatty? Trans fatty?

I don’t think you are being charitable again. Please find a way to address these issues charitably or I don’t think I will be discussing them with you further.

On a scale, what is that compared to twat or cunt, or prick or dick? I don’t know. I don’t think I would like to forcefully shove a porcupine up someone’s rectum. I’d much rather call them a wanker. You know, why be clever when you can just be accurate.

I don’t know who you are even talking to anymore. You have shredded charity to pieces by writing that. I don’t think I should have to respond to a Gish Gallop like this just to correct you. It’s not worth my time or effort. In fact, you are the one who pulled out the list I compiled that debunked Philip Jr.’s identical claims about Pharyngula, claims that were all found to be wanting when I gathered them up into a convenient list. If you are Philip Jr. and have a grudge against Pharyngula to this day over being shown to be wrong and believing Wally Smith, then I wish you would be forthright about it. Otherwise, those things are in the past and I wish you would refrain from bringing them up again or at least be accurate in your claims and charitable to all involved.

567 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Pitchguest:

it doesn’t matter if she misremembered it or not, does it?

Yes, it does matter a great deal. She wrote that she had read it being used by slimepitters. The charitable thing to do would be to believe her given that people at the slimepit were taking cheap shots at that person by merging slurs into her name. And why assume she was making it up? What reason would she have had to do that?

I was specifically looking for instances of ‘Rebitchka’. I found them and I went great lengths to not misrepresent its use. I wasn’t looking for ‘Rebitcha’. So is it really on me when I said she fabricated the phrase? I mean, ironically she did, embellishing the phrase with a letter. But nevermind. Technically I’m right, but I don’t want to drag it on longer than it has to. Consider it buried.

Well, you’re not technically right unless you are being uncharitable. Let me make this easier for you to understand. The person whose name was being mocked with slurs has a “ka” sound her name. The anonymous person who turned her first name into a slur dropped the “ka”. When it was remembered, the “ka” was put back in. See? Simple. It isn’t a big deal at all or mysterious at all.

568 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Citation seriously needed! I am the one who used the “slur”, so I am the one who knows what I intended by using it. And if the context of my comment and subsequents didn’t get you to understand I think very kindly of Louis and would not insult to hurt, then we have a problem.

Phil, I was talking about the slur that sparked the slimepit, though you used it up there, too. It’s the same slur. The person who merged that slur into the name of the other person was not friends in any way with her. That person’s intent was crystal clear. Your intent was not since Louis isn’t here to respond to you so you are relying on people knowing you two are friends, which I did not know.

569 Eu March 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I only ever saw Rebitchka. Rebitcha sounds dumb.

570 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Aratina: #568: So if I said “Louis might be an earlobe (see SJWs heads explode), but he’s a good person”, you’d still think I’m trying to insult Louis?

No. I’m not. I am, however, pointing fingers at Social Justice Warriors, as a byway of my initial comment (which was, if you remember, to stand for a friend, Louis), for their limited view of “with us or against us”.

Louis and I might not be the Romeo and Juliet (or Maria and Tony, depending on your pop-culture) of the A/S community, but we understand each other’s positions. Nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. And a pint!

Less Black or White, more Shades of Gray, and I think we’d all be fine. More humour will probably help, as well. No slurs needed, just wit. And I’m almost sure i can manage that. Let’s play fair and be a bit more generous to each others, yes?

571 Aratina Cage March 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

So if I said “Louis might be an earlobe (see SJWs heads explode), but he’s a good person”, you’d still think I’m trying to insult Louis?

Yes. “Earlobe” would also add an extra dose of snark to the part about the SJW’s (that they have really thin skin, for example). Sometimes it is difficult to tell if insults ostensibly made in jest are wanted or not wanted by their intended target. Since Louis was not here to respond accordingly, I really couldn’t tell, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell no matter if you called him an earlobe or anything else. However, I’m not really bothered by an insult (other than this being a neutral forum). I am bothered by an insult that is delivered through a slur.

Louis and I might not be the Romeo and Juliet (or Maria and Tony, depending on your pop-culture) of the A/S community, but we understand each other’s positions. Nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. And a pint!

Thanks for letting me know. I have a question for you then since you apparently know Louis in person, I wonder if you have noticed that his humor is absurd and ridiculous but that he does not use slurs (at least not on Pharyngula, and if he had, he would have probably been called on it). How would his brand of humor be improved in any way by resorting to slurs?

Less Black or White, more Shades of Gray, and I think we’d all be fine. More humour will probably help, as well. No slurs needed, just wit. And I’m almost sure i can manage that. Let’s play fair and be a bit more generous to each others, yes?

Great! I don’t see anything wrong with that. :)

572 windy March 23, 2013 at 6:00 am

@508 Russell Blackford:

Indeed, what pissed us off about the spurious Tom Johnson story was the claim that anti-accommodationism, such as displayed by Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins, leads to rudeness and nastiness in real life. The story was used by Chris Mooney as Exhibit A for such a claim.

That’s exactly the point, reasoned critiques like Coyne’s got lumped together with rude and insulting ones. I’m pretty sure Skepsheik isn’t arguing that anti-accommodationism was just about rudeness and personal attacks. However, people like Dawkins and Coyne are frequently perceived as unnecessarily strident and nasty, yet we seem to be in agreement that they don’t need to temper their language in order to protect the public image of atheism. That doesn’t mean we must accept an “anything goes” approach, but I don’t think the line is as clear as you’re implying here.

Anyone who thought that they were defending “anti-accommodationism” in arguing in favour of nastiness and personal attacks misunderstood what anti-accommodationism was in the minds of the leading anti-accommodationists, and what we were trying to convey and achieve. I should only speak for myself here, but I think that bigger players on the anti-accommodationism side, such as Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne, would agree with much or most of what I’ve written above.

Would you include PZ Myers among the “leading anti-accommodationists”?

And again, none of this is to deny that actual anti-accommodationist thinkers, such as me, sometimes lost tempers or engaged in satire or personal attacks, or whatever. Doubtless that happened from time to time. Some of it may have been relatively gentle satire that was justified (I think that satire has its place).

Is satire only justified if it’s “relatively gentle”?

573 loyalb March 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

@aratina

OK, but please note that by using those words as insults, you are simply perpetuating the Victorian attitude that finds women’s sexuality shameful, abhorrent, dangerous, etc. As I said, using them isn’t the problem. The problem is using them as words that are meant to evoke damage in the recipient and the fact that using them that way also causes damage to people who are not the recipient.

This is really the heart of my disagreement with you. How do we get over the last vestiges of Victorian attitudes by following Victorian mores? That makes no sense to me. I’ll admit that there are people who use the word “cunt” as a weapon for shaming women, but it’s the words they use around it and their attitude that make the difference. The word itself is just a different way of calling someone an asshole.

Is there ever a situation that warrants calling a man a dick? I think yes, although the situations should be rare. Sometimes you need emotionally charged words to let people know how you really feel. If so, what happens in the same situation, but it’s a woman? Do we call her a dick, too, since cunt is out of bounds? That hardly seems fair, or particularly helpful to women. It just perpetuates several unflattering stereotypes of women (and, to a lesser extent, of men).

***
Slurs of all kinds have been abused on both sides simply for the sake of being hurtful.

If you want to propose a moratorium on arguably hateful language of all kinds in A/S discussions until things calm down, I would go along with that.

574 Russell Blackford March 23, 2013 at 8:22 am

Windy, I’m not sure that you’re really disagreeing with anything I actually think as opposed to what I may have been able to articulate. I don’t think the line is clear – as so often, there are grey areas. What you wrote sounds about right to me.

On your question of whether satire is only justified if it’s relatively gentle… Hmmm, good question. It obviously depends on the target. But if you’re making fun of the views or attitudes of people whom you otherwise regard as good people, trying to bring out what you regard as the absurdity of those views or attitudes, I do think you should be relatively gentle and good-humoured about it.

IMO, Richard and Jerry tend to get it about right. As you say, they are (often) made out to be much harsher than they actually are. Both of them care about nuance and civility, and I think some people who read Richard’s work are (metaphorically) deaf to its style of humour and its subtleties of tone.

I’m not sure what’s behind your question about PZ Myers, but no, it had never even occurred to me that anyone would regard him as a leading anti-accommodationist. But perhaps some did – I don’t know.

575 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Aratina, I was going to agree with your Victoria comment… til I found out it was about the word cunt. I thought it was about what makes sense – the words “Slut” and “Whore” THOSE are sexuality shaming words. Where on earth do they replace those with cunt?

576 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Woo the Destroyer:

Aratina, I was going to agree with your Victoria comment… til I found out it was about the word cunt.

I think that was loyalb who linked those two things together?

I thought it was about what makes sense – the words “Slut” and “Whore” THOSE are sexuality shaming words. Where on earth do they replace those with cunt?

I thought it was more about “things that women do or have regarding sexuality”.

577 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Okay, Aratina, you can whine about words that also represent genitalia, just remember that dick also falls into that category.

As for “It” stuff:

“PZ Myers wrote:The Bovarchist slyme has been scraped off my shoe and deposited in the lymepit, where it belongs.”

I wish this guy would make up his mind.

578 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Called it for making a post that makes sense eh? What should I call him for the craazy shit he posts… I’ll stick with it. It it is. There we go PZ :P No more male pronouns for you.

579 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

loyalb:

This is really the heart of my disagreement with you. How do we get over the last vestiges of Victorian attitudes by following Victorian mores?

I think the key there is to realize that using those words in that way reinforces a negative connotation onto the things they are metaphors for. By using them as insults, you are likening the things they refer to as “things I don’t like”. So using them as insults does not easily lead to the end of the sort of Victorian morality you speak of. (I talk about it more below, but I think using them as insults can remove them from the status of slur–through mass desensitization and immense damage.)

That makes no sense to me. I’ll admit that there are people who use the word “cunt” as a weapon for shaming women, but it’s the words they use around it and their attitude that make the difference. The word itself is just a different way of calling someone an asshole.

I’m not saying that the slimepit method couldn’t work. In one of the Pharyngula threads where this was fought out very harshly, one of the commenters described the silmepit method as the one that would do the greatest damage to reach the goal of those words being just as harmless as “asshole”. Any Batman fans might remember Alfred describing the way they caught the elusory Ruby Bandit hiding in the forest was to burn the whole forest down. That is what I see as the slimepit ethos.

But why is it like that? Because large numbers of unintended recipients do experience negative thoughts and feelings when those words are used as insults and because those insults target physical aspects of a person that they have no control over. Having certain body parts or skin color or eye color or sexual feelings isn’t the same as being ignorant or meddlesome or spiteful or god-delusional, etc.

So, if the slimepit were to prevail and all of those slurs came into common usage, the end goal might be the same but the casualties along the way will be much greater.

Is there ever a situation that warrants calling a man a dick? I think yes, although the situations should be rare. Sometimes you need emotionally charged words to let people know how you really feel. If so, what happens in the same situation, but it’s a woman? Do we call her a dick, too, since cunt is out of bounds? That hardly seems fair, or particularly helpful to women. It just perpetuates several unflattering stereotypes of women (and, to a lesser extent, of men).

One of the problems there is that being a dick can be something to be proud of. It isn’t really a slur in common usage among all English-speaking societies AFAIK, unlike “cunt”. Look, the whole reason this is even an issue isn’t because you can’t sit down with a person and get them to see that your usage of “cunt” as an insult isn’t meant to be degrading to women–you can. The reason it is an issue is that using slurs as insults is most likely going to create an unwelcoming atmosphere for women who are interested in becoming involved in some atheist community. It’s more about the big picture of how to function than whether or not we can build no-holds-barred free speech zones (like the Slymepit forum).

If you want to propose a moratorium on arguably hateful language of all kinds in A/S discussions until things calm down, I would go along with that.

How about “morally unjustifiable hateful language”? I think I could agree to that.

580 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Woo the Destroyer:
Please stop hauling in outside people into this discussion. It isn’t fair to them. Now, about that sentence, the “it” refers to “slyme” (slime) that had to be scraped off of the shoes, a perfectly acceptable way of using the word “it”.

581 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

@Aratina Cage umm… are you going to lecture everyone else who made references to someone else in this conversation?

Not that I think its not fair. It’s completely fair. It’s what they said and I’ll comment on being annoyed by it if I wish. Half this thread wouldnt exist if we only ever mentioned each other.

582 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:27 pm

And it’s not like I’m exactly allowed to march up “to his face” and point out his hypocrisy and wishy washiness, considering he won’t let me.

583 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm

And Aratina, it’s not “perfectly acceptable.” If PZ wants to say that saying it in terms of people is bad, then he shouldnt call people it.

584 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm

You guys can think of pitters in terms of “it” if you want. Whatever. Point is, choose a side – its cool or its not.

585 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Woo the Destroyer:

are you going to lecture everyone else who made references to someone else in this conversation?

Some people don’t want to have any part of this conversation, and we should respect their wishes. I wasn’t even going to get involved at first but the number of things being said about me and other individuals on this blog was too much. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I guess, but then again, I haven’t been slammed by anyone except Gurdur.

And it’s not like I’m exactly allowed to march up “to his face” and point out his hypocrisy and wishy washiness, considering he won’t let me.

So what? Is it possible for you to consider letting that drop and going your separate way from him?

You guys can think of pitters in terms of “it” if you want. Whatever. Point is, choose a side – its cool or its not.

Look, the problem is when you are talking about a person and then refer to that person as an “it”. That is not what happens in that sentence you pointed to. That sentence is like how you would refer to a “bear” as an “it”. It isn’t acceptable to me when people talk about me by my name (not as if I were a piece of slime or worse) and then use “it” when they should use “he” (although I don’t mind “she” for various reasons). If someone tells you to use the pronoun “it” in reference to them, then I don’t see anything wrong with it.

586 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Aratina said:

“Some people don’t want to have any part of this conversation, and we should respect their wishes.”

Nonsense. Absolute, complete nonsense. If any individual does not want to be discussed/mentioned in this thread of comments, or anywhere else in the big wide world, it is up to them, and only them, to state their wishes. And even then, no one is behooved to act on that request. Aratina, you are far, far too comfortable with creating ridiculous constraints of public discourse.

“Look, the problem is when you are talking about a person and then refer to that person as an “it”. That is not what happens in that sentence you pointed to.”

Sophistry and bullshit.

587 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I’m sure people have read what John Greg is saying about constraints on discourse, but the fact of the matter is that there are some people who have been deeply hurt by the ongoing fight and I believe we ought to respect their wishes to not be used as a prop in any talks about the fight.

588 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm

“… there are some people who have been deeply hurt by the ongoing fight and I believe we ought to respect their wishes to not be used as a prop in any talks about the fight.”

Look, it’s too bad that they feel hurt, but if people are going to go online and preach their opinions to the world, they are going to get responses.

The other thing is this claim that people feel hurt, “deeply hurt”. Some people feel deeply hurt because someone did not like their choice of shoe colour. Does that mean that the hurt is legitimate? Absolutely not. Does it mean they have the right to feel hurt and to say so? Yes, certainly. Just because someone says they feel hurt by something someone else says about them in response to something the hurt person said online, does that mean we all must stop talking about them? Absolutely not. If someone is going to go out of their way to pontificate online, they are going to get responses. That’s reality. If they cannot handle the responses, get the fuck offline.

And, if they really do not want people to talk about them it is up to them, not you, to say so. Especially when you are clearly not even willing to name who these mysterious hurt people are.

Ooh! Look, a hurt kitty on the road: everybody stop driving cars!

589 Aratina Cage March 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

it’s too bad that they feel hurt

That is right in line with the “slimepit ethos” I identified earlier. In some cases, when it is morally justified, keeping distance from caring about others might be called for. When it comes to slurs, people feeling pressured and harassed, being respectful of a person’s identity and make up, those are things that I think we should care about.

Just because someone says they feel hurt by something someone else says about them in response to something the hurt person said online, does that mean we all must stop talking about them?

On neutral ground where they are not participating? Yes, definitely.

If they cannot handle the responses, get the fuck offline.

There was a really funny rant made after the last US presidential election that said the same thing (it’s on YouTube). The truth is that, no, people do not need to get off the Internet if they can’t handle verbal abuse, dehumanization, harassment, etc.

Ooh! Look, a hurt kitty on the road: everybody stop driving cars!

That says a lot about you. Is it any wonder that this deep rift happened with that kind of sentiment being expressed?

590 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm

“verbal abuse, dehumanization, harassment, ”

What’s with this endless and ludicrous practice of equating verbal abuse, with dehumanization and harrassment? Such hyperbole. It’s part and parcel of that other bit of nonsense where someone says they don’t like and/or trust such-and-such a woman, and the FfTB universe erupts in screeches of Misogynist! Sexist! Rape enabler!

Piffle and quack.

“Is it any wonder that this deep rift happened with that kind of sentiment being expressed?”

One of the most glaring shortcomings of most of the FfTB commentariat and blog hosts (and Skepchick and A+) is their utter inability to do humour, sarcasm, and/or satire.

You just don’t get it do you. HAHAHAHA.

591 windy March 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Aratina Cage:

Some people don’t want to have any part of this conversation, and we should respect their wishes. I wasn’t even going to get involved at first but the number of things being said about me and other individuals on this blog was too much.

Really? It’s annoying when people talk smack about you in a place where you can’t or don’t wish to respond? Who’d’ve thunk? And that’s even when they quote you accurately – imagine if they’d make something up instead!

I don’t think you are being charitable again. Please find a way to address these issues charitably or I don’t think I will be discussing them with you further.

Indeed. Charity is an important principle, isn’t it.

592 loyalb March 23, 2013 at 10:14 pm

@aratina

I think we both understand each others’ positions well enough, I’ll bow out before it turns into a merry-go-round. I do have one last point I’d like to make.

I’m curious about what you think of how you feel about the use of the words we’ve been discussing in popular media? For example, I just finished binge-watching the HBO series Game of Thrones. It can make the Slymepit look like NOW as much as the characters throw around the “c”-word. I’m not saying because they do it on TV in a fictional setting it’s ok to do it in real life, but I do think it redeems the word in some way to see it put to good, artistic use. And, yes, its use takes place in one of those generically British fantasy settings, but it’s based on an American novel and played for American audiences. Isn’t this a sign that the abusive power of the word is waning, if it isn’t already completely depleted?

Just to reiterate, I don’t use the word myself except to discuss it. I don’t want to come off like I’m preaching its use. I just think you guys are neglecting the way the English language is changing on its own.

I’ll read whatever you have to say, if anything, and leave it at that. Thanks again for having a respectful discussion about this. I know you’re sincerely upset by gendered slurs, so it couldn’t have been easy not to get aggro over some points.

593 loyalb March 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm

“what you think of how you feel.” whoops. Couldn’t decided how I wanted to phrase that and apparently forgot to pick one.

594 Tessa March 24, 2013 at 3:35 am

I’m curious about what you think of how you feel about the use of the words we’ve been discussing in popular media? For example, I just finished binge-watching the HBO series Game of Thrones. It can make the Slymepit look like NOW as much as the characters throw around the “c”-word. I’m not saying because they do it on TV in a fictional setting it’s ok to do it in real life, but I do think it redeems the word in some way to see it put to good, artistic use. And, yes, its use takes place in one of those generically British fantasy settings, but it’s based on an American novel and played for American audiences. Isn’t this a sign that the abusive power of the word is waning, if it isn’t already completely depleted?

How on earth does it redeem it? It’s a fictional fantasy dark ages that treated women like crap. Characters use the word in a vulgar abusive manner in the show. If anything, it shows why using it is bad. I mean really, do you want that setting to be some kind of model that redeems any kind of action? Maybe it also redeems selling your daughter for political gains, or killing off the families of your enemies.

You need to look at the setting that its being used. It’s not being put to good, artistic use anymore than murder, or all the other horrible things that are done to people in that show are being put to good, artistic use, it’s being used as abuse in an artistic setting.*

*This is debatable but unimportant in the context of my response.

595 Tessa March 24, 2013 at 3:37 am

in the * above, i meant specifically whether or not it can be called artistic.

596 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 6:52 am

loyalb:
Thanks for the discussion. I’m probably about to bow out as well since things are dwindling here. A quick response to you follows.

I’m curious about what you think of how you feel about the use of the words we’ve been discussing in popular media? For example, I just finished binge-watching the HBO series Game of Thrones. It can make the Slymepit look like NOW as much as the characters throw around the “c”-word. I’m not saying because they do it on TV in a fictional setting it’s ok to do it in real life, but I do think it redeems the word in some way to see it put to good, artistic use. And, yes, its use takes place in one of those generically British fantasy settings, but it’s based on an American novel and played for American audiences. Isn’t this a sign that the abusive power of the word is waning, if it isn’t already completely depleted?

I didn’t know about that. Perhaps it is waning then. I’d say that it surely isn’t depleted of its abusive power, though. What you say brings up two things in my mind. One is, like you said, that the use of these slurs in art and entertainment can’t really be treated the same way as an encounter of them being used as an insult in real life. For instance, for a time on Pharyngula, “slut” could be used as an insult if you got the chance to say Dan Aykroyd’s line, “Jane, you ignorant slut!” That eventually changed if I recall correctly because too many people didn’t know where the line came from and due to consideration of the splash damage that it causes.

The other thing I was thinking is how things are going the opposite way for anti-gay slurs. Instead of growing more common, they are becoming even more moderated and shocking as insults. That doesn’t mean the words referring to gay people aren’t said, it’s that they are being said less and less as insults. I’m pretty happy about that, but I wonder what you think of it? Shouldn’t that be considered evidence that the Slymepit way isn’t the best way forward?

Actually, it probably is not fair to ask you to answer now, so I’ll just leave it as something for people to think about.

597 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 7:07 am

windy:

Really? It’s annoying when people talk smack about you in a place where you can’t or don’t wish to respond? Who’d’ve thunk? And that’s even when they quote you accurately – imagine if they’d make something up instead!

My point is that I don’t think it is fair on neutral ground like this to bring them up without them first indicating a willingness to be part of the talks.

Indeed. Charity is an important principle, isn’t it.

It is, in my opinion, when people are playing fair. I thought from the beginning of this that I was being charitable to people on the slimepit side and in return I was treated uncharitably and so were the many of the others including the big players on my side.

598 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 7:11 am

John Greg:

One of the most glaring shortcomings of most of the FfTB commentariat and blog hosts (and Skepchick and A+) is their utter inability to do humour, sarcasm, and/or satire.

I don’t believe that is a justifiable statement. I could just as easily point to a number of instances where someone on the FTB et al. side said something humorous that got one or more people on the slimepit side upset. Could it be different senses of humor? Or perhaps one side felt demeaned by the humor of the other side. It can be difficult to laugh at a joke at your expense, especially when it is made by your opponent.

599 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 8:21 am

And even more especially when it’s not funny. I could forgive almost anyone’s short-comings if they were at least funny.

Humour is a vital part of my life, be it on internet fora and blogs, or music, or movies, or TV shows. One thing I’ve valued since I joined the atheist/sceptic blogosphere was the participants’ sense of humour. Well, that and all the science being thrown around (that’s what attracted me in the first place). There are quite a few things at the Pit I don’t find funny at all, but then they are redeemed by a brilliant piece of satire/parody, so I don’t complain much.

Humour is a vital part of my life because it is a tool that has saved my ass countless times when I was a bullied child. It also saved my sanity after being a rape victim at the tender age of 11. Without humour, I would probably not be here today.

All this rant to say: be funny, be jockular, have fun! It helps, and it can defuse many a bad situation. If both “sides” had had a better sense of humour from the start, none of us might be here (on Michael’s thread) today.

Cheers!

600 loyalb March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am

@Tessa

Hopefully this won’t be seen as what they call “not sticking the flounce.” I think I really need to clarify, because you raise a good point that troubles me.

In the moral universe of Game of Thrones, the abuse of women is still presented as abuse of women. The audience is invited to sympathize with the victims and it’s really satisfying when the perpetrators get their comeuppance*. The c-word, otoh, is presented as just another insult (and it’s liberally applied to both genders) . The audience is invited to laugh at it.

I’m emphatically not suggesting that we take literal morals from, as you say, a dark, fantasy setting. I’m simply using it as a barometer for where the word stands in the English language. It’s also only one example. I could be wrong, but it seems that it’s vastly more acceptable in “R”-rated comedies than it was, say, 15 years ago.

Offensive words occupy a strange space in our lexicon. There are rare situations where nothing can be more beautiful than a well-constructed string of profanity. I think the fact that “cunt” is making its way into the same circle of ill-repute as “dick” is a sign of progress. It’s finally in the same category of “general sex shame” as all the other words for body parts.

If the source of the word’s hatefulness is the fear or even hatred of women’s… womanhood… then wouldn’t it become less hateful the less fear there is?

Now I’ll really shut up. If I’ve stepped in it again, I’ve stepped in it.

601 loyalb March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

Oh, forgot…

the * was that I think the relationship that develops between Daenerys and Drogo is pretty f’ed up, even in the show’s universe. But maybe that’s the point.

602 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 8:52 am

HBO’s Rome qualifies for a record in “cunt” use. Still my favorite HBO show (second would be “From the Earth to the Moon), but not for the use of “cunt”. Great characters and great storyline. And well, it’s about Ancient Rome! If anyone reading here didn’t watch it, please do, I got both seasons’ DVD boxes for around 25£. I watch them regularily.

the relationship between Daenerys and Drogo came to a very interesting point when she learned from her slave (can’t remember the name right now) about being the “master” in sexual relationship. And learn she did, which made her a more powerful and assertive person, nay, woman!

603 windy March 24, 2013 at 8:54 am
Really? It’s annoying when people talk smack about you in a place where you can’t or don’t wish to respond? Who’d’ve thunk? And that’s even when they quote you accurately – imagine if they’d make something up instead!

My point is that I don’t think it is fair on neutral ground like this to bring them up without them first indicating a willingness to be part of the talks.

Neutral ground like, say, Twitter??

604 Eu March 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Dunno why it would be unfair if they refuse to participate. I’m sure the person who first said it would be unfair has probably brought people up that she hasn’t talked to here ;).(Even celebrities count. They’re people too.)

The one I brought up cannot say anything anyway. I wouldn’t even be interested in a debate if he came here. What could he say? “No I didnt.” *takes screenie* “Wow, yes you did.” “Well, there’s an excuse… (bullshit excuse or no excuse at all)”

Yeah, that would be uber annoying. Not interested in talking to people on whether or not they need to make up their mind (stop being hypocritical) when its *established* that’s what they did – NOT up for debate.

605 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Windy:

Neutral ground like, say, Twitter??

That is not a place I would consider neutral ground. That is more like being out in public with a group of friends, some of whom you know well.

About Twitter as it pertains to this rift, it is decidedly not a place where people from the Slymepit play fair. I went for a long time not saying much of anything while the Slyimepit encouraged some really nasty characters to emerge on Twitter who were dedicated to harassing a few people and impersonating the people they were harassing by using lowercase “L” for uppercase “i”, or using uppercase “i” for lowercase “L”, so that the impersonator’s name on Twitter matched their target’s name for all intents and purposes. A campaign driven by the slimepit was also started to label the bloggers at FTB “bullies”.

I decided to begin countering those things on Twitter with commentary, snark, criticism, and even playing the part of the mythical “bully”. I think my actions there are justified, though I may have made a few tweets when I was too angry that I regret, one of them about you. What would you have me do? We’ve given the Slymepit forum members plenty of time to rally to tell the instigators of this Twitter harassment campaign to stop what they are doing, but it continues to this day.

606 John Greg March 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Aratina Rage claimed:

“I went for a long time not saying much of anything while the Slyimepit encouraged some really nasty characters to emerge on Twitter who were dedicated to harassing a few people and impersonating the people they were harassing by using lowercase “L” for uppercase “i”, or using uppercase “i” for lowercase “L”, so that the impersonator’s name on Twitter matched their target’s name for all intents and purposes. A campaign driven by the slimepit was also started to label the bloggers at FTB “bullies”.”

Prove it, sunshine.

Michael, for all your vaunted cries for not calling someone a liar, I would like to point out that that statement by the caged rat contains several blatant lies. To wit: The Pit had nothing to do with the false Twitter accounts, nor with the FTB bullies tag. And the rat will be unable to provide any proof of that claim.

I request that you leave Aratina’s deceitful post, but that you ask Aratina to provide proof for such an egregious claim.

607 John Greg March 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Oh well. Put in moderation for discussing the practice of making false claims, which is what the caged rat did when claiming that the Pit was in some way behind the false Twitter accounts and the FTB Bullies tag.

Aratina, prove it.

608 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

One of the most ardent slimepitters runs several of the impersonation accounts, John. And the web of connections between them and people we can actually identify as slimepitters (which is hard since almost everyone there is anonymous with pseudonyms) is very strong (we have done an analysis of the connections on a private forum). You could do the same and see for yourself; just trace back who the impersonation accounts follow on Twitter and who follows them.

609 John Greg March 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Prove it.

610 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm

No, John. Do it yourself.

611 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Aratina, how the fuck is that NOT what happened? The guy is human, not a god damn bear.

612 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I won’t be dropping anything, dunno if you’re being funny or just very stupid – he needs to choose something. That was recent, I won’t be going my separate way, although it’s whatever. Not something I’m too concerned about unless he complains about people being called It again.

613 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Aratina, you’re the one claiming it’s one of the pitters doing it. Which one, first of all? Point out someone, finish your claim.

614 windy March 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I went for a long time not saying much of anything while the Slyimepit encouraged some really nasty characters to emerge on Twitter who were dedicated to harassing a few people and impersonating the people they were harassing [...] A campaign driven by the slimepit was also started to label the bloggers at FTB “bullies”.

The what now? Look, just because it’s fashionable to label every undesirable a “Slymepitter” does not mean that they actually are or that the forum has any control over them.

As for “FTBullies”, a lot of people use that hashtag, it’s not controlled by the Slymepit. I would agree with you that many people are too quick to complain about being “bullied” or “harassed” on the internet, except that’s frowned upon these days as “victim-blaming”.

I decided to begin countering those things on Twitter with commentary, snark, criticism, and even playing the part of the mythical “bully”. I think my actions there are justified, though I may have made a few tweets when I was too angry that I regret, one of them about you.

It was a bit more than ‘one tweet’. That was some creationist level crap you pulled. By the way, contrary to what you seem to think, I didn’t have any particular ‘grievances’ against anyone from Pharyngula. Until now, that is.

615 Aratina Cage March 24, 2013 at 11:10 pm

WootheReaper:

Aratina, how the fuck is that NOT what happened? The guy is human, not a god damn bear.

He is using their name as a modifier, not as a proper noun, that is the difference. “It” should not be used to refer to proper nouns (that is, to people’s names) without their prior consent, if you care about not perpetuating bigotry.

I won’t be dropping anything, dunno if you’re being funny or just very stupid – he needs to choose something. That was recent, I won’t be going my separate way, although it’s whatever. Not something I’m too concerned about unless he complains about people being called It again.

If another person has made it clear that they do not want us to be in contact with them, shouldn’t we respect that? And that doesn’t make it everyone else’s problem, does it? If it remains our problem, then why should we even bring it up to others?

Aratina, you’re the one claiming it’s one of the pitters doing it. Which one, first of all? Point out someone, finish your claim.

No. Use this method. Go to the twitter accounts of people you know are from the slimepit, then make a list of all their followers and a list of all the people they are following on Twitter, and then draw the connections between them and the troublemakers on Twitter. It’s very simple, though it might take a bit of time. You’ll see.

Windy:

The what now? Look, just because it’s fashionable to label every undesirable a “Slymepitter” does not mean that they actually are or that the forum has any control over them.

I label people “slimepitter” based on their professed values and behavior and their association with people I know are part of the slimepit/Slymepit.

As for “FTBullies”, a lot of people use that hashtag, it’s not controlled by the Slymepit.

Of course it isn’t controlled by the Slymepit forum, that wouldn’t even make any sense for a hashtag, but it is something that is not condemned by the Slymepit and is sustained by people who are part of the Slymepit and/or slimepitters.

It was a bit more than ‘one tweet’. That was some creationist level crap you pulled.

Could you be more charitable to me? It’s very disturbing to me when atheists compare me to creationists.

By the way, contrary to what you seem to think, I didn’t have any particular ‘grievances’ against anyone from Pharyngula.

I didn’t say you have a grievance against Pharyngula, did I? You left Pharyngula at some point for reasons I don’t know and sided with the slimepit against Pharyngula. You haven’t been back since even though you knew many of the Pharyngulites personally and were one of the Molly winners there. You stay at the slimepit while they mock and degrade and harass us and our friends. The side you chose seems fairly clear to me, grievance or not. Is there something in particular I am missing about your reason for being there?

616 AppleStairs March 24, 2013 at 11:34 pm

@Aratina
I’ll just quote here from Wikipedia: “It is generally agreed that he produced a piece of paper that he claimed contained a list of known Communists working for the State Department. McCarthy is usually quoted to have said: ‘The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.'”

Now, I’m not actually claiming that you’re acting like McCarthy, just using a bit of “parallel logic” in noting that I couldn’t help but chuckle and make the connection when I read, (*sinister cloak & dagger voice*) “We have done an analysis of the connections on a private forum,” and, in response to “Prove it,” you say, “No John, do it yourself.”

What?! You’re the one who is making unevidenced (and somewhat weird and unfalsifiable) claims. Name and “shame,” Aratina, if you’re going to make the claim – what’s the holdup? Or don’t, I don’t care — an ‘Ophelia Benson’ parody with a picture of the pope seems pretty benign to me — but telling someone else to guess what you’re hiding behind your back is ridiculous and slightly bizarre.

As for the FTBullies hashtag, I’m quite sure it originated among non-pitters, although I wouldn’t try to suggest folks at the ‘Pit condemned it. Why should they / would they? Many ‘Pitters believe, with IMO ample justification, that numerous FTB-affiliated folks act like bullies toward those with whom they disagree. Even Ophelia agrees that EllenBeth Wachs was bullied at Pharyngula just last night.

Do you condemn the use of SPHaters and similar hashtags? I’m certainly not asking you to – just calibrating my hypocrisy meter.

Also – now might be an ideal time to apologize directly to Windy for the ridiculously disingenuous insinuation that she and SP folks in general are crypto-white-supremacists:

https://twitter.com/aratina/status/309019803648135168
https://twitter.com/aratina/status/309707006351114241
https://twitter.com/aratina/status/309445669670776832

All that said, I commend you for your relative restraint on this thread — it’s a pleasant surprise given your tireless and — dare I say “obsessive?” ;-) — focus on trashing SP on Twitter, all day, every day.

Incidentally – I and all reasonable people know that you have nothing against trans* people and that it’s unfair to suggest otherwise.

617 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 1:57 am

Aratina, does it matter? If I say “I have scraped this Aratina slyme off of my shoe and deposited it in the lymepit, where it belongs” it makes it okay???

He’s calling the person slyme. It is not a modifier. Even if in the above sentence I said “I have scraped this Aratin-ian slyme (meaning YOU) off of my shoe etc” it would still be referring to the person (you in this example) who was banned! How does that mean it’s okay now and NOT calling a person an it? Come on. You’re trying too hard to defend PZ. Don’t be pedantic (and fail at it).

618 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 1:59 am

Really, who would try that? If, say, Watson came over on my blog and commented and I b& her and I said “I have scrapped this Rebecca slyme off of my shoe and deposited it into the (whatever) where it belongs” and she voiced offense about being called it I wouldn’t try to make up some lame ass excuse like “Well, I said Rebecca-slyme, which is describing a type of slyme, not Rebecca.” The point is, it’s clear I was talking about her. Not an object.

619 John Greg March 25, 2013 at 3:40 am

Holy Moly, I have tried to wipe that Aratina sh/i/t right off my shoes, but it just clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings.

620 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 4:40 am

AppleStairs:
As for me acting like McCarthy, the evidence is objective and impartial. Anyone with an Internet connection can do the analysis. You could, too.

Also – now might be an ideal time to apologize directly to Windy for the ridiculously disingenuous insinuation that she and SP folks in general are crypto-white-supremacists:

Tweet …5168: Me stunned that windy is the one who wrote that.
Tweet …4241: Me being sarcastic. Of course (most) slimepitters wouldn’t feel at home on Stormfront (with possibly a few exceptions). It’s a rhetorical response sent out to the slimepitters on Twitter through the #FTBullies hashtag.
Tweet …6832: More sarcasm at how easily cross-burning was suggested as an OK thing to joke about while it produced shock and horror in me. Maybe it is a cultural thing, but we don’t joke about that stuff in the USA. People are still alive who have had crosses burned on their lawns. The KKK is still active and a major political party has taken up White Supremacism as a campaign startegy. So, yeah, it was shocking.

it’s a pleasant surprise given your tireless and — dare I say “obsessive?” — focus on trashing SP on Twitter, all day, every day.

I’m not “trashing” SP on Twitter–at least, I don’t think I am. I feel that slimepitters have done a good job of that on their own. As for me being “obsessive” about it, well, they (maybe you?) won’t stop.

WootheReaper:

Aratina, does it matter? If I say “I have scraped this Aratina slyme off of my shoe and deposited it in the lymepit, where it belongs” it makes it okay???

I think it does. By saying that I am a slime, that makes a big difference grammatically.

He’s calling the person slyme. It is not a modifier. Even if in the above sentence I said “I have scraped this Aratin-ian slyme (meaning YOU) off of my shoe etc” it would still be referring to the person (you in this example) who was banned! How does that mean it’s okay now and NOT calling a person an it? Come on. You’re trying too hard to defend PZ. Don’t be pedantic (and fail at it).

It’s not a difficult concept to understand. Slimes that you scrape off your shoe don’t normally have gender, just like animals are referred to with “it” but not normally with “she” or “he” unless their sex matters somehow. I didn’t make the standard, but it is there as a distinguishing feature when referring to people, and bigots have been known to purposefully break it to dehumanize gay, bi, and trans* people. That’s the reason “xe” and other gender-neutral pronouns were created, otherwise why would anyone have even bothered?

Holy Moly, I have tried to wipe that Aratina sh/i/t right off my shoes, but it just clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings, and clings.

Were you using the John when it happened?

621 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 5:46 am

Aratina Cage said (#579):

Having certain body parts or skin color or eye color or sexual feelings isn’t the same as being ignorant or meddlesome or spiteful or god-delusional, etc.

That is certainly an interesting hypothesis; I wonder what evidence, what sets of tests, what peer-reviewed and published papers, you have that proves the contention. Seems to me that the attachment of many of the religious to their beliefs and value systems is just as much if not greater than any attachment to “skin color or eye color or sexual feelings”; I wonder whether you’re attached to the elements in your identity to the same extent as those religious people who were martyred for theirs.

Seems to me that you’re making yourself judge, jury, and executioner in adjucating that scale of values. Excuse me, but I think the historical evidence is that the imposition of those values by any individual or group tends to turn out rather badly.

622 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 6:37 am

Aratina Cage said (#620):

Tweet …6832: More sarcasm at how easily cross-burning was suggested as an OK thing to joke about while it produced shock and horror in me.

This whole “dialog” looks like it would provide enough material for a whole encyclopedia of comedies of errors – were it not so depressing in the extreme. I have to think that you’re either willfully blind, an agent provacateur, criminally careless, or simply blinded in a blizzard of facts and figures and perspectives. Assuming that your tweet above (3) was in response to the following comment of windy’s, I really would like to know how you manage to get that she was even remotely suggesting that “cross-burning was an OK think to joke about” (1), particularly in that context?

Would you say that a sarcastic response in the style of “sure, later we’re gonna go burn some crosses with our Grand Dragon Dawkins!” is completely off limits to something that stupid?

Maybe you don’t know that “sarcastic” means (4) “marked by feeling of bitterness and a biting or cutting quality”, hardly typical of most “jokes”. And maybe you didn’t bother to check the context of that comment, that it was in response to this rather egregious if not outright racist comment from Sikivu Hutchinson:

Sikivu Hutchinson already called New Atheism “white supremacist” with nary a protest from the big names present.

You might want to take a look at the conversation and context as clearly laid out in the Pit (2).

But if you insist on going off the rails so badly in misinterpreting – uncharitably or otherwise – then you probably shouldn’t be surprised if your credibility goes down the tubes.

1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/comment-page-2/#comment-195984”;
2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=71895#p71895”;
3) “_https://twitter.com/aratina/status/309445669670776832”;
4) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sarcastic”;

623 bah humbug March 25, 2013 at 7:30 am

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.
–Eleanor Roosevelt

None of the comments I read above were interesting to me. Instead of reading more comments, I’m going to go and learn the laws of probability as they relate to degrees of belief.

Wanting to have correct beliefs should underlie one’s attitudes towards atheism, feminism, etc. People with a different focus — I have a rift with them.

624 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 7:57 am

bah humbug said (#623):

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.
–Eleanor Roosevelt

None of the comments I read above were interesting to me. Instead of reading more comments, I’m going to go and learn the laws of probability as they relate to degrees of belief. ….

A worthy objective – let me know how it turns out as it is, seriously, an interesting concept. As a point of reference, you might wish to read Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain.

However, while Roosevelt’s aphorism certainly holds at least some water, I might suggest that people have a way of creating events, and ideas don’t have much relevance or utility except in the context of motivating people. “Foul rag and bone shop of the heart” and all that ….

625 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 9:48 am

Aratina Cage said (#579):

I think the key there is to realize that using those words in that way reinforces a negative connotation onto the things they are metaphors for. By using them as insults, you are likening the things they refer to as “things I don’t like”.

I sure would like to know how you reached that conclusion, and what evidence you have that that is the case because I sure don’t think it holds any water whatsoever. For instance, consider the proverbial c-word which I’ve used against several women yet it is a very long way from even being on a list of “things I don’t like”. And I expect there are a great many men, and no small number of women, who are in the same boat. As I’ve argued on another thread here (1), I think the mechanism is a case of reducing the person to only that part of their anatomy – not that that part has no intrinsic value.

I’m not saying that the [Slymepit] method couldn’t work. In one of the Pharyngula threads where this was fought out very harshly, one of the commenters described the [Slylmepit] method as the one that would do the greatest damage to reach the goal of those words being just as harmless as “asshole”.

Seems to me to be the only method that can work. Censorship tends to quite counterproductive and anathematizing various words only makes their use more traumatic. Consider the word “fuck” how it was a cause for high-profile court cases but is now a common interjection in all sorts of circumstances, and has virtually no power to shock. As the comedian Lenny Bruce put it in one of his routines (1):

Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness.

1) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lenny_Bruce”;

626 windy March 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

Maybe it is a cultural thing, but we don’t joke about that stuff in the USA. People are still alive who have had crosses burned on their lawns. The KKK is still active and a major political party has taken up White Supremacism as a campaign startegy.

And that’s not all- the white supremacist ideology known as “New Atheism” has also been gaining traction lately, perhaps you’ve heard of it…?

627 Gurdur March 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Aratina Cage wrote: “…. Could you be more charitable to me? …”

Two questions yet again, Aratina Cage. Did you ever make a full, unqualified apology directly to the transsexual person you helped bully off Pharyngula when that person was protesting about homophobic utterances used by PZ Myers and others? If you have not, why not? If you claim to have, where is it? Link?
Then:
While it’s ironic you should ask for more charity – given your abuse of me for my pointing out you used transphobic insults about a person protesting about homophobic and transphobic hate-speech – what’s even funnier is when you try to allege that there is any real evidence based on small-sample-size of Twitter followers.

Oh, by the way, please explain why you abuse me for having pointed out the transphobic slur. Go on, do. I will be bringing this to the wider attention of a greater public, so you have your chance now , before I do, to explain how come you abused me for pointing out the transphobia, for explaining how come you went along with a mass-bullying of a transsexual who was protesting against homophobic and transphobic speech.

Aratina Cage wrote: ” …. the evidence is objective and impartial. …

Bollocks. A Twitter follower or following means very little; and if you refuse to back up your claim, then there’s not much reason for anyone to take your vague accusations seriously.

It’s also very reminiscent of how various people were attacked in a shunning campaign merely on the basis that they followed the “wrong” people, and given PZ Myers has just banned Julian from Pharyngula, this kind of guilt by association simply will not wash. Julian, as we all know, was a very longterm supporter of Pharyngula, FTB in general, and Atheism+ initially till he changed his mind recently. Despite his not being a “slymepitter”, PZ Myers misconstrued what Julian actually said, and claimed Julian “came from” the Slymepit. Hilarious, though sad for Julian; how come only one person protested? Despite everyone knowing the accusation to be untrue?

Important points for any agenda of structured dialogue:
Vague accusatory labels like “slimepitter” mean nothing, and only serve to whip up hatred.

Aratina Cage wrote: “I label people “slimepitter” based on their professed values and behavior and their association …”

Then you will need hard evidence, and you will need to present the evidence fully to make any meaningful accusation.

Again, this whole loose campaign of shunning is one of the most poisonous things to ever hit the atheism and skepticism movements, and anyone going along with that kind of crap needs to have their actions and views exposed and challenged. It is not so long since Ed Brayton said Paula Kirby should be “shunned by the … community”, Rorschach claimed Jean Kazez and others totally unconnected were slimepitters, PZ Myers claims Julian is from the Slymepit, this ridiculous kind of mobbing action with demonisation has to stop. There can be no genuine dialogue until these shunning efforts cease, for the simple reason that the shunners want no dialogue.

628 Gurdur March 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

“Wanting to have correct beliefs should underlie one’s attitudes…”

Seriously? Calvinisn ITT. Or is it Catholicism? Pardon my confusion. Beliefs? How about value choices instead, with a good dose of genuine skepticism?

629 oolon March 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

@Gurdurs back for more dishonest argumentation…. Or I’ll assume so unless he clarifies what his position is on the transgender slurs he seems to have a problem with but won’t clarify. So what is your opinion on the “s/h/it” pronoun used by the Slymepit to refer to any transgender people?

Would be good for honest discourse if you would explain why you feel the need to carry on harping on about *one* instance of transphobic language that was apologised for. There is a forum not a million miles away that engages in nasty transphobia as a matter of course… Your opinion on that Gurdur?

630 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 3:43 pm
631 oolon March 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

@Gurdur didn’t ask me, but yeah PZ was an idiot in Julian’s case. It was clear from the thread that he is not from the Slymepit, even if I didn’t know him (A bit, follow on Twitter anyway). Bring out the fainting couch… An idol of the atheist-sceptic movement can make mistakes! Is there actually any point to bringing this up?

632 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Michael: maybe centralize your talks? Running amok with 4 tabs opened is not very helpful.

633 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Gurdur:
There is a lot to unpack here.

Aratina Cage. Did you ever make a full, unqualified apology directly to the transsexual person

I actually asked you what you thought of the apology I did post on her blog on the most recent thread (at the time). Could you read that and then get back to me on this?

you helped bully off Pharyngula when

You say “bully”, I say “troll cleanup crew”. She was being abusive to people I care about, so I told her off. She came back to launch more abuse, so I played along with her game. She came to my blog to give me more abuse, so I reported it on Pharyngula.

that person was protesting about homophobic utterances used by PZ Myers and others?

Such as what? I don’t remember anything like that from that thread. Are you sure that happened? Could you recheck the original thread to find comment numbers or snippets or something?

While it’s ironic you should ask for more charity – given your abuse of me for my pointing out you used transphobic insults about a person protesting about homophobic and transphobic hate-speech

Oh, by the way, please explain why you abuse me for having pointed out the transphobic slur. Go on, do. I will be bringing this to the wider attention of a greater public, so you have your chance now , before I do, to explain how come you abused me for pointing out the transphobia, for explaining how come you went along with a mass-bullying of a transsexual who was protesting against homophobic and transphobic speech.

I don’t think you understand how angry it made me (at first) to see you bring up my name about something I wrote three years ago that has been used by people of the slimepit to beat me over the head with again and again, and to see you fabricate something for me instead of quoting what I actually said and to misrepresent what actually happened. Other people helped me realize that you probably mixed my comment up with the comments of other people in that thread, and I had by then grown calm, so I did go back and delete the abusive tweet and I did ratchet down the insults about you on my blog. All I ask is that you give me more charity when you read my comments at Pharyngula and that you make a little more effort to be accurate in your reporting.

what’s even funnier is when you try to allege that there is any real evidence based on small-sample-size of Twitter followers.

Why do you think that is funny? It’s actually not that small, either, though it is suspected that several of the impersonation accounts and parody accounts are run by the same person.

A Twitter follower or following means very little; and if you refuse to back up your claim, then there’s not much reason for anyone to take your vague accusations seriously.

I don’t think I need to do your homework for you.

It’s also very reminiscent of how…

I think that is out of bounds of the current thread and also not fair to another person who probably wouldn’t want to be talked about here.

Then you will need hard evidence, and you will need to present the evidence fully to make any meaningful accusation.

I’m not going to collect everything I’ve ever seen written by the people I consider slimepitters, sorry. It’s not an accusation, it’s a convenient and somewhat descriptive label for people who congregate in a particular place and/or who express or behave in ways that are similar to people who congregate in said place.

this whole loose campaign of shunning is one of the most poisonous things to ever hit the atheism and skepticism movements

Telling rowdy guests to leave your home and don’t return is not “shunning” by any stretch of the imagination. Kicking out misbehaving guests from one’s house is, I believe, the equivalent of banning someone from a blog. Wouldn’t you agree that people have every right to remove someone from the premises of the home when that someone has worn their welcome?

As for the rest of that part, I’m not going to get into it. I don’t think hardly any of those people are even looking at this thread, and I think it simply isn’t fair to bring them up and talk about them like that without them being here.

634 Renee Hendricks March 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm

@oolon #630 I could be wrong but I think the point of bringing it up is how PZ and those who comment on his blog are very quick to call people something they aren’t without any proof. Simply not agreeing in many cases means you’re a misogynist or a “Slymepitter”.

635 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

And here’s Oolon, whom I predict will be about as forthcoming as Aratina in substantiating his claims. Folks at SP “engage in nasty transphobia as a matter of course?” What the hell are you talking about? That statement is as ridiculously false and as transparently propagandistic as Aratina’s suggestion that SPers are the sort of people who would be comfortable at Stormfront.

Please go ahead and provide your evidence that people at the ‘Pit are “nasty transphobes,” and that s/h/it was invented and is routinely used at SP “to refer to any transgender people,” as opposed to being a parody of gender neutral pronouns, used generally for people who have gender-neutral ‘nyms or whose gender is unknown, or simply used as a mocking pronoun for someone who is being discussed or criticized.

It’s possible that someone has used it to refer to a transgendered person with a known gender identity (and if you have such an instance in mind, I suggest you take it up with the person who has used it in that manner and call them out on it as you wish – as Gurdur has done with Aratina). And, for the record, IMO it’s quite obvious that Pharyngula is no den of transphobia and that Aratina is no transphobe just because he slipped up in a given thread.

If you have in mind someone like Haifisch Geweint, who as far as I know does not identify as a particular gender and who has been called out at SP for the toxic assertion that people aren’t obligated to disclose a positive HIV status to sexual partners, I reject the implication that this condemnation (or the use of “s/h/it”) would be an instance of transphobia — it’s part of a contemptuous dismissal of dangerous and incoherent opinions. (And if HG identified as male or female, I’m sure plenty of people at SP would use ‘he’ or ‘she,’ regardless of HG’s problematic posts at Crommunist’s blog.)

Anyway, if I can find innumerable instances at SP where sh/i/t is used to refer to people not known or thought to be trans*, and if it turns out that FTBers like Natalie Reed are Zinnia Jones are routinely referred to as “she,” your gotcha attempt is dead-on-arrival. And since I know that I can do so, the burden is on you to substantiate your ridiculous and defamatory claim that SP is full of “nasty transphobes” — or to retract it.

Do you really believe SP is full of people who hate or fear transgendered people and refuse to respect their stated gender-identities? I doubt you believe that, and I know you can’t demonstrate it, because it is simply not true.

636 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Steersman:

That is certainly an interesting hypothesis; I wonder what evidence, what sets of tests, what peer-reviewed and published papers, you have that proves the contention.

For one thing, there are more ways to get to the point of behaving in a certain way while the route to having green eyes or being a woman or a man are much more limited. Of course there are physical factors in the way one has developed and socioeconomic factors in the way one is raised that are involved in behavior as well, and we shouldn’t overlook those.

Seems to me that the attachment of many of the religious to their beliefs and value systems is just as much if not greater than any attachment to “skin color or eye color or sexual feelings”;

You need to be more careful in your assessment here. Their belief that gods are real is probably not wherein all the attachment you speak of lies.

I wonder whether you’re attached to the elements in your identity to the same extent as those religious people who were martyred for theirs.

The point is to knock down falsehoods but not berate them for their existence. Some people can’t help growing up in a religious household or nation where they are compelled to believe, for instance. So, gauge your criticism to the context.

Seems to me that you’re making yourself judge, jury, and executioner in adjucating that scale of values.

That’s not true at all and is not charitable in the slightest.

I think the historical evidence is that the imposition of those values by any individual or group tends to turn out rather badly.

This is so far disconnected from the topic of this thread that I am at a loss to respond to it.

I have to think that you’re either willfully blind, an agent provacateur, criminally careless, or simply blinded in a blizzard of facts and figures and perspectives.

Again, I think you’ve misplaced your ability to be charitable at this time.

I really would like to know how you manage to get that she was even remotely suggesting that “cross-burning was an OK think to joke about”

Answered by yourself in the following quote you provide.

And maybe you didn’t bother to check the context of that comment, that it was in response to this rather egregious if not outright racist comment

Someone says something you think is over the top, so that gives you license to make jokes that invoke the recent (and even ongoing) history of White terrorism? I don’t think it does. I don’t think someone ought to make such jokes because they will not only hurt others you may not have intended to hurt but you will also be damaging your own image by doing so.

you probably shouldn’t be surprised if your credibility goes down the tubes.

But that is partly what I am saying about slurs and racist jokes. Don’t do them because, for one thing, you will look bad afterwards.

I sure would like to know how you reached that conclusion, and what evidence you have that that is the case because I sure don’t think it holds any water whatsoever.

Having the displeasure of knowing the damage these words can do is one way. Here, read this: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sutter-franklin-county-mississippi-lgbt/index.html Franklin County uses the slimepit method of desensitization to slurs by way of making them a common insult. And look at what it does to the gay women and men living there. It looks like terrorism to me. They might as well be living in an Islamic police state.

consider the proverbial c-word which I’ve used against several women

You did? *sigh*

yet it is a very long way from even being on a list of “things I don’t like”

Then why use it as an insult in the first place? How in the world do you think it will hurt them if you don’t imagine they won’t like it?

I think the mechanism is a case of reducing the person to only that part of their anatomy

Calling someone an “arm” or, as Phil has proposed, an “earlobe” just doesn’t have the same weight. Why not?

Seems to me to be the only method that can work.

I’ve already pointed out that this is not true regarding anti-gay slurs. Please look into that.

windy:

And that’s not all- the white supremacist ideology known as “New Atheism” has also been gaining traction lately, perhaps you’ve heard of it…?

That doesn’t mean you can call people claiming that the n-word or joke about burning crosses on their lawn in good conscious.

637 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Applestairs:

That statement is as ridiculously false and as transparently propagandistic as Aratina’s suggestion that SPers are the sort of people who would be comfortable at Stormfront.

I think it would be best if I clarify, once again, that I made that suggestion as a bit of rhetoric where the answer is clearly, “No. No they would not be at home on Stormfront.” I qualified it earlier that one or two might feel at home there because we have seen a few neo-Nazis on Twitter who appear to be controlled by slimepitters or Slymepit sympathizers.

It’s possible that someone has used it to refer to a transgendered person with a known gender identity

It was used on me in the Slymepit forum. I saw it with my own eyes. I may not be transgendered, but it still was not OK with me.

I reject the implication that this condemnation (or the use of “s/h/it”) would be an instance of transphobia — it’s part of a contemptuous dismissal of dangerous and incoherent opinions.

It is making fun of real, scholarly, precise attempts to avoid transphobic (and homophobic and biphobic) language that had developed in English. Perhaps the best thing for you to do would be to use “they” as a singular pronoun if you don’t want to appear bigoted.

638 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

And not to mention, sexist language, where “he” is the default assumption for a person whose gender is not known.

639 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

That doesn’t mean you can call people claiming that the n-word or joke about burning crosses on their lawn in good conscious.

Come on, Aratina – you *know* you are misrepresenting what Windy said. First of all, she never defended the use of “nigger.” Second of all, what you are doing is, amazingly, *exactly* what she predicted in her post, cited above by Steersman. She said:

Oh, I have no doubt that “it’s coming”, meaning that equally dishonest tactics are going to be used in the name of racial inclusivity. Sikivu Hutchinson already called New Atheism “white supremacist” with nary a protest from the big names present.
Would you say that a sarcastic response in the style of “sure, later we’re gonna go burn some crosses with our Grand Dragon Dawkins!” is completely off limits to something that stupid?

I mean, please. The style of ironic caricature of one’s opponents views that Windy is describing is *absolutely routine* — you see a variation of “bitchez ain’t shit” or “bitches be crazy” on FTB on a daily basis. Are you condemning such sarcastic constructions? Of course not — because it would be absurd to do so.

Sorry, but your refusal to acknowledge the way you have used Windy’s statement (without quoting it) to imply that she condones racism looks wilful and malicious to me. If you believe it’s wrong for Gurdur to attempt to tag you with an accusation of transphobia, you’re surely willing to admit that you’re wrong to try something similar on Windy.

640 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I think it would be best if I clarify, once again, that I made that suggestion as a bit of rhetoric where the answer is clearly, “No. No they would not be at home on Stormfront.” I qualified it earlier that one or two might feel at home there because we have seen a few neo-Nazis on Twitter who appear to be controlled by slimepitters or Slymepit sympathizers.

What. the. hell. are. you. talking. about. Your said in your Tweet, “Slimepitters would feel right @ home on Stormfront.” You weren’t asking a rhetorical question.

As for your second statement about “Neo-nazis controlled by slimepitters or Slymepit sympathizers,” I have no idea how to respond. That is one of the most bizarre unhinged-sounding ideas I have heard in this whole discussion.

641 oolon March 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

@Renee,

@oolon #630 I could be wrong but I think the point of bringing it up is how PZ and those who comment on his blog are very quick to call people something they aren’t without any proof. Simply not agreeing in many cases means you’re a misogynist or a “Slymepitter”.

Yeah and so do some of the Slymepitters call people things with no proof, for example “me” uploading that photoshopped image that Michael mentioned! I personally think everyone makes mistakes, how they deal with them might tell you something about them personally. But is the aim of this discourse to decide how good people personally are or how good the principles of each community are?

I don’t really care how much of shit PitchGuest or Franc is, they can still be factually correct about things they argue for. Same goes for PZ, he made a mistake in Julians case, he was an idiot in that instance. I don’t see that as much of an insult more a statement of fact as we are all idiots at times.

What greater principle can be determined from anecdotal examples of people on either “side” being idiots? IMO fuck all. So why did Gurdur mention it other than more unsceptical fallacious reasoning.

642 oolon March 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

@Applestairs

And here’s Oolon, whom I predict will be about as forthcoming as Aratina in substantiating his claims. Folks at SP “engage in nasty transphobia as a matter of course?” What the hell are you talking about?

Ok you tell me what trans groups would think of trans people being described as “s/h/it”? Being called an “it” would be considered transphobia, the pit took it to a new high. I’ve not read it for months but when I was on there they were also discussing at length and unchallenged about a trans person on FtB’s voice or appearance being the “uncanny valley”. They’ve also targeted trans people from the A+ forum for ridicule based on them being trans and nothing else…. Why is this a surprise? Many Slymepitters way of arguing is based on taking the irrelevant intrinsic attributes of people they don’t like and using those to attack. Sounds like a pretty good definition of bigotry. No one stands up to it – or again they didn’t when I was there and I doubt its changed.

643 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

AppleStairs:

Quote by Windy:

Would you say that a sarcastic response in the style of “sure, later we’re gonna go burn some crosses with our Grand Dragon Dawkins!” is completely off limits to something that stupid?

Yes I would say it is off limits. (I also said “good conscious” earlier which is a mistake; I meant “good conscience”.)

you see a variation of “bitchez ain’t shit” or “bitches be crazy” on FTB on a daily basis.

Not on a “daily basis”, but yes you do see that there and it isn’t at all the same as what windy proposed. The sarcasm in that phrase is that the person it is directed at holds those beliefs consciously or unconsciously.

your refusal to acknowledge the way you have used Windy’s statement (without quoting it) to imply that she condones racism looks wilful and malicious to me

I think you are reading too much into my words. I didn’t say that windy is racist or that she thinks that we ought to make racist jokes. She did, however, ask whether they ought to be permissible, which is still a strange and shocking thing for someone of her background to propose, and I don’t believe they ought to be for what I think are obvious reasons (to people in the USA at least, and I guess windy doesn’t really get how bad they are here).

644 kntk March 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Neo-nazis controlled by slymepitters? Are we bodysnatchers now?

645 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

@Aratina – we are so far apart on this I don’t know whether it’s worth trying to bridge the gap, but

“She did, however, ask whether they [racist jokes] ought to be permissible”

is not accurate. What she said was, if someone makes a ridiculous accusation (example: New Atheism is white supremacist), it is no way “racist” to respond by sarcastically parodying such a hyperbolic suggestion in the manner she described.

646 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

@Oolon, what you said was that the SP “engages in nasty transphobia as a matter of course,” and so far you have not lifted a finger to justify this allegation. The “uncanny valley” comment was in reference to Zinnia Jones’ rather monotone and robotic tone of voice in many of her Youtube videos.

I have no idea what you have in mind when you say “They’ve also targeted trans people from the A+ forum for ridicule based on them being trans and nothing else.” Citation, please.

647 kntk March 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Ok you tell me what trans groups would think of trans people being described as “s/h/it”?

As opposed to xe, hir or zir or whatever. “S/h/it” is a mockery of the insistence some people have for substituting gender neutral terms into absolutely every situation they can, even ones where they know full well that the person being addressed or described identifies absolutely as either male or female.

648 Pitchguest March 25, 2013 at 7:16 pm

#644 kntk

Apparently we are capable of all manner of perversions. Sexism, racism, transphobia, mind control. Didn’t you get the memo?

#643 Aratina

I think you are reading too much into my words.

Indeed. I wonder, Rat in a Cage, whatever happened to looking at things charitably? Try not to read too much into it.

649 oolon March 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm

@kntk, @applestairs, “S/h/it” was chosen as the preferred gender neutral term used on the pit. You know it, I know it… Don’t give me this; just used to mock people for “overusing” neutral pronouns. Now why is it not a transphobic slur? Or is it one?

Do you even think this can be transphobic? What is? We know “trans fatty” is the worst slur ever to be uttered by another human being because a “Baboon” once used it by mistake, then apologised for it. (Justin would not approve of the weakness shown there). Given the pit is insistent there is no such thing as a misogynistic slur I’d be interested in your opinion. Words are just words was what I was told, they have no power… Oh except for some racist and homophobic terms, then they deffo are “bad” in some way.

650 kntk March 25, 2013 at 7:33 pm

S/h/it” was chosen as the preferred gender neutral term used on the pit. You know it, I know it… Don’t give me this; just used to mock people for “overusing” neutral pronouns. Now why is it not a transphobic slur? Or is it one?

First off, “chosen” is the wrong word, it was “popularised” by Mykeru as a gender-neutral term to make fun of the obsession with gender-neutral pronouns over at FTB. It caught on, nobody voted on it.

Also, you have to show why it is a trans-phobic slur. If that’s what you think it is. Has it only been used on trans-gendered people? Primarily on them? It’s quite obviously a play on words that is making fun of an obsession rather than literally all of humanity.

651 Pitchguest March 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

#642 oolon

See, the problem is that you don’t even try to understand. You’ve made up your mind. So when you say that “s/h/it” is a matter of bigotry, it’s not an objective view of reality; it’s your view of reality. Because if I had the decency to at least look into it more thoroughly, then I would find out that it’s simply making a mockery of the gender neutral pronouns* that’s been going around lately. But you knew that, of course. With all your onus on evidence (which is a good thing) then this couldn’t possibly have avoided your radar. Or it could, if you’re biased enough. That’s why we call you slimy, oolon.

And just a sound bit of advice (I don’t know how old you are, but if you have a daughter then you should be old enough to know better): if it “sounds” like anything to you, then it probably isn’t – and if that is your method of proving something, with all your stake in evidence, then I can clearly say you’re being dishonest.

* Gender neutral pronouns like xe, xhe, xir, etc. With bonus pronouns xim, xer and xis, courtesy of FtB. (In case it’s not obvious, the latter are not even trying to be gender neutral.)

652 oolon March 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

@kntk, Hmm, so you know Mykeru’s intent now? Mind reading at the pit…

Also you think something is a slur if only used against its target, once it is used to describe anything else or anyone else it magically loses its power… Errr, ok. You might want to think about that for a while. Ali G might be able to help you out there.

653 oolon March 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hehe more from Pitchguest, because something is created to ridicule X it cannot possibly be demeaning. Minds like this are wasted at the pit.

654 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Oolon said (#649):

@kntk, @applestairs, “S/h/it” was chosen as the preferred gender neutral term used on the pit. You know it, I know it… Don’t give me this; just used to mock people for “overusing” neutral pronouns. Now why is it not a transphobic slur? Or is it one?

Horse shit. You have a statistical survey that indicates that at least 51% of those posting on the pit prefer that term in all cases of referring to trans/gender-neutral individuals?

And you are still working under the assumption, the unproven hypothesis, that an insult directed at one individual is a expression of hate towards all members of the group. I will quite readily agree that more than a few Pit people use the term as an insult – and apparently, or arguably, in a mocking sense (intent? How does that work?) – but that is some distance from being “transphobic”. You might want to try working on that case a little more ….

655 kntk March 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm

oolon March 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm
@kntk, Hmm, so you know Mykeru’s intent now? Mind reading at the pit…

I didn’t have to mind-read him oolon. I have this wonderful thing called a memory. We joked about the over-use of gender-neutral pronouns at FTB and he came up with s/h/it as a deliberately offensive comedic alternative.

Also you think something is a slur if only used against its target, once it is used to describe anything else or anyone else it magically loses its power… Errr, ok. You might want to think about that for a while. Ali G might be able to help you out there.

I think somebody might have to, because I have no idea what you’re blathering on about.

656 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

@Oolon – Intent matters, as does context. Sh/i/t is, as many, many people have pointed out to you, a parody of pronoun neologisms. Sh/i/t is not a slur in the same way that “cunt” is not a slur, not least because it was not invented to describe, and is not used primarily to refer to, the people you are claiming it is a slur against! Incidentally, I have said twice in this thread that I think trying to pin a charge of transphobia on Aratina is ridiculous.

I don’t know whether there is such a thing as a “misogynistic slur” in the same way that I believe “nigger” is a racist slur, but here’s an example of a misogynistic statement using a slur: “All women are assholes” — what makes it misogynistic, of course, is that it is directed at and describing “all women.” If someone says it without irony, you have good reason to believe they have a problem with women.

Round and round and round we go. We can agree to disagree on what bad werdz should be allowed in which spaces — although I have no problem abiding by anyone’s rules in their space (or accepting bannination for failing to do so).

What I do have a problem with is that you and Aratina have worked hard here (and even harder on Twitter) to smear people from the ‘Pit as racists, transphobes, and misogynists — which is pure bullshit. And this creepy talk about a shady network of neo-Nazis on Twitter “controlled by SPers” (whatever the hell that means) takes us to a whole new level of crazy and baseless insinuation.

657 Pitchguest March 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

#652 oolon

Yes, I can see you’re confused. You see, the sentence “popularized by Mykeru” does not actually try to read anyone’s mind. It’s simply a way of expressing how the term caught on. Meaning that Mykeru (and others) used the term so often that it stuck. However, it still doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s been common knowledge on the Slymepit that it’s not an actual, serious term, but a mockery of the various pronouns that has come into existence that just tries to sound gender neutral but isn’t. (See: xim, xis, xer, etc). (And because it’s common knowledge, since you’ve been browsing for stuff to dig up and been around since its conception on the ‘pit, then you too are aware of its implication. However for any reason, you won’t acknowledge it. Probably because it would mess with your narrative.)

658 Jeff March 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-3/#comment-587249

Who are the assholes here? Does anyone talk on the Slymepit like this? Eva? This is real abuse, with intent, real hatred, not photoshopping the word “kunt”.

659 Aratina Cage March 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I think I’m going to take a break from commenting on this thread for a while. It’s starting to feel like we’re running in circles. Thanks to Steersman, windy, Phil_Giordana_FCD, loyalb, WootheDestroyer, AppleStairs, Pitchguest, and Gurdur (hope I didn’t leave anyone out) for the better-than-expected conversation!

660 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm

@Aratina – see ya later.

661 AppleStairs March 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm

@Jeff – that post was a shit-stirring provocation linked to a bogus fb account. The original source appears sincere, but it’s around two years old — http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/a-rant/

662 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Jeff said (#658):

Who are the assholes here? Does anyone talk on the Slymepit like this? Eva? This is real abuse, with intent, real hatred, not photoshopping the word “kunt”.

Curious. A subsequent comment on Pharyngula indicates that is an old rant from 2010 – apparently here (1) – as AppleStairs has just noted as well. While one can quite reasonably question the conclusions reached and the responses suggested, it is a little harder to deprecate the anger or the reasons for it. Haven’t read it yet myself but a book by Benson and Stangroom – Does God Hate Women? – is certainly suggestive of the depths of the problem.

1) “_http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/a-rant/”;

663 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Professed values my ass. More like “I saw one thing they said that I don’t like and I decided they were a slymepitter right then and then.” Plenty of people called slymepitters didn’t even get a chance to profess more than a couple of sentences on something.

664 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

@ Aratina’s blog… I haven’t heard of this myth that you said all sorts of transphobic things on slymepit… can you show at least one example of one person blowing things out of proportion like that? Or are you making myths about the pit?

Also, is your name Aratina with last name Cage or is it A Rat In A Cage?

665 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm

WootheReaper said (#664):

Also, is your name Aratina with last name Cage or is it A Rat In A Cage?

Sheesh. You and Pitchguest, among others, should give the guy a break on that. Seems there is enough to call him on without resorting to cheap shots.

Unless you both think that plays on your screen names – BootheCreaper or Bitchguest, maybe – are likely to add much to the conversation ….

666 Pitchguest March 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

#665 Steers

Unsubstantiated claims about twitter accounts, racism, sexism, transphobia, etc, versus gentle ribbing (Rat in a Cage). *makes balancing gesture with hands*

You be the judge.

667 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Pitchguest said (#666):

#665 Steers

Unsubstantiated claims about twitter accounts, racism, sexism, transphobia, etc, versus gentle ribbing (Rat in a Cage). *makes balancing gesture with hands*

You be the judge.

Gentle ribbing? Non sequiturs, and ad hominems, maybe; kind of an “eye-of-the-beholder” thing, I think – at best. If you want to shoot him down then provide evidence that he’s being hypocritical – as I think AppleStairs’ quoting of his tweets quite clearly did. Or keep demanding evidence or proof, the lack of which is likely to be more damning than juvenile pot-shots – except maybe of those making them.

Besides which, as suggested, he might have just as much justification to question your “unsubstantiated claims” and respond with equally “gentle” ribbing ….

668 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm

AppleStairs said (#656):

I don’t know whether there is such a thing as a “misogynistic slur” in the same way that I believe “nigger” is a racist slur, but here’s an example of a misogynistic statement using a slur: “All women are assholes” — what makes it misogynistic, of course, is that it is directed at and describing “all women.”

Yes, I quite agree with you that “all women are assholes” is quite clearly a misogynistic statement as it is quite clearly judging all women by the supposed attributes of a few – stereotyping in a word. A close second would be the example windy provided earlier, i.e., “bitchez ain’t shit”, although there might be some “wiggle room” if the clear implication is that the phrase is referring not to women in general but to “bitches” as “malicious, spiteful, or overbearing women” (1).

However, I have to disagree – even if only for the sake of consistency – with your suggestion that “nigger is a racist slur”. As I’ve argued at some length on another thread of Michael’s (2), I figure the two cases – and similar ones – are directly analogous: “nigger is to racist slur as cunt is to misogynist slur”. Seems to me that one has to accept the relationships – epithet to scope – in both cases, or deny them in both. Otherwise, a charge of “special pleading” (3) seems entirely justified ….

1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bitch”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/how-do-we-evaluate-good-and-bad-and-hurtful-statements-a-response-to-justicar/comment-page-1/#comment-206355”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading”;

669 Pitchguest March 25, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Calling him “A Rat in a Cage” is an ad hom? In my book, gently ribbing him for his moniker (which he surely picked due to how it could be construed, “A Rat in a Cage” [which I'm sure he has a good reason for]) is not an ad hominem by any stretch. Nor is it an ad hom by the definition of ad hom, as you well should know, Steers. The pedant you are, this can’t have escaped you.

As you may have noticed, people have been trying to provide evidence as good as it gets with the vague information provided by Aratina (happy?). Unfortunately, unsubstantiated claims can’t be confirmed or disproved due to their very nature that they are unsubstantiated. Much like how a Christian makes a claim about God and expects you to confirm or disprove “His” existence. As it happens, Aratina have been making claims about the Slymepit regarding among other things racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, and now most recently in control or fabricating accounts on twitter impersonating people; all asserted without evidence and Aratina refuses to provide proof for his claims. (And as you know, that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.)

Now, when you juggle the appropriate reaction to each of these in your head, do you balance the assertions made by Aratina as more severe – or the gentle ribbing by construing his moniker in a different manner? I don’t even have to make a play on names. It’s right there in the title.

670 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Steersman, no one was fucking playing on his name. If his name is really Aratina Cage, he must be foreign because Aratina is a GIRLS name here. I honestly thought I was stupidly mistaking him for a woman named Aratina, and that A Rat In A Cage is what was it supposed to be. I thought ARATINA was the play on his name.

But fine, whatever, his name must be Aratina. (Um no, we will see when he replies.)
As for the plays on my name… was that supposed to hurt my feelings, steersman? I must say, Bitchguest does have a hostile ring to it. But your play on my name didn’t really annoy me at all. So even if I was making a play on (his?) name, you would just support my point that it would have been no big deal.

671 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Or that A Rat in A Cage is what it might be.

672 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

And Steers, if you called that an AD HOMINEM I’m disappointed in you. You should know that cannot possibly be a logical FALLACY. How is it a logical fallacy? first of all, those apply to ARGUMENTS. I can call someone a name (not that I was) if I want, and it wouldnt be FALLACIOUS. That’s like going to school bullies and saying “You’re being fallacious! Ad Hominem!”

Ad Hominem is when you use something irrelevant to invalidate someone’s point. It CAN be an insult, but it doesn’t need to be. “You’re fat, so I won’t listen to your argument on coats.” is an ad hominem. “That’s false because ___, also you’re retarded,” isn’t.

673 lollen March 26, 2013 at 12:06 am

Kudos to Michael Nugent from me too but it’s clear these talks will go nowhere. It’s obvious it’s mostly point-scoring with little constructive dialogue added to the mix. Also, much as I dislike the toxic cultures of both the pharyngula comment section and the slymepit (and affiliates),

674 lollen March 26, 2013 at 12:07 am

the latter aren’t looking good here. It’s mostly ridiculous charges against random pharyngula posters at the moment, it seems. Funny stuff.

675 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 12:27 am

@lollen what ridiculous charges against random Pharyngula posters? At first I thought you were complaining about PZ banning two Ph posters and how his commentariat bashed em good… which is something that should actually be talked about, not some vague reference to ridiculous charges. Who is really doing the ridiculous charges?

What are the ridiculous charges?

676 Pitchguest March 26, 2013 at 12:29 am

#674 lollen

Curious about those “ridiculous charges”, but in any case, the “latter” have been forced into a corner because of the discussion steered in that direction. If you go back to the beginning of the comment section, you’ll see there’s a genuine attempt to garner a constructive conversation until a Pharyngula/FtB regular poster joins (doubtthat) and unnecessarily derails the thread, at which point it piles on (oolon) and it soon begins its downward spiral. Yet another thread wasted.

Until we get together and collectively wish for a debate, nothing will change. Although I think you can see which “side” is at least trying to have a discussion and which one is trying their damndest not to.

677 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 12:37 am

Yeah, its not dialogue when you bullshit. doubtthat basically gave me the finger by using some weird logic train that resulted in me being some sexist jerk for saying ‘nice try, girl. up top.’ What the fuck? Just trying to chase me off the conversation.

And then others BSing instead of admitting things when its clear what someone else said is correct and they cant make excuses for *(whatever someone has done)*. You cant really converse with that.. they will just keep saying the same thing. Frustrates me.

678 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 12:48 am

Pitchguest said (#669):

Calling him “A Rat in a Cage” is an ad hom? In my book, gently ribbing him for his moniker (which he surely picked due to how it could be construed, “A Rat in a Cage” [which I'm sure he has a good reason for]) is not an ad hominem by any stretch.

As mentioned, “gentle ribbing” seems to be very much a question of which side of the fence you are on and which side of it the rocks happen to be thrown from. Michael’s other post – “How do we evaluate good and bad and hurtful statements? – may have some relevance here.

Nor is it an ad hom by the definition of ad hom, as you well should know, Steers. The pedant you are, this can’t have escaped you.

Bit of a moot point, I think; at least the “ad hom” part …. But consider these bits from the Wikipedia article on the topic (1):

Ad hominem is an attack on the person, not the person’s arguments, though mere verbal abuse in the absence of an argument, however, is not ad hominem nor any kind of logical fallacy. ….

Ad hominem arguments work via the halo effect, a human cognitive bias in which the perception of one trait is influenced by the perception of an unrelated trait, e.g. treating an attractive person as more intelligent or more honest. People tend to see others as tending to be all good or tending to be all bad. Thus, if you can attribute a bad trait to your opponent, others will tend to doubt the quality of their arguments, even if the bad trait is irrelevant to the arguments.

Considering that rats aren’t as high on the cuddly scale as kittens – to say the least, I would say heavy use of “a rat in a cage”, at least in the context of other arguments, can quite readily be construed as a fallacious ad hominem [there are apparently valid ones]. And if they’re not in that context then those comments seem to be little more than “verbal abuse” – you want to put all – or any – of your eggs into that basket?

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem”;

679 John Greg March 26, 2013 at 1:11 am

Steers, what bad trait is Aratina Cage being labeled with? Especially as Aratina Cage spells out A rat in a Cage. It spells it out Steers. Can you not see that?

What’s next? Are you going to tell someone they shouldn’t call me John because prositutes clients are called johns, therefore calling me John is ad hominemming me?

You’re going to look pretty damn stupid if Aratina admits to the play on words.

680 Jack March 26, 2013 at 1:24 am

I assumed Aratina Cage was a reference to 1984 but with the over tones of someone who feels oppressed. I thought it was quite clever.

681 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

WootheReaper said (#670, #672):

As for the plays on my name… was that supposed to hurt my feelings, steersman? I must say, Bitchguest does have a hostile ring to it. But your play on my name didn’t really annoy me at all. So even if I was making a play on (his?) name, you would just support my point that it would have been no big deal.

Not at all – sorry if it appeared that way. Just hypothesizing that IF hurting his feelings was your objective then I wondered how you would feel about possible retaliations using the same weapon – my examples were only that. But if “Bitchguest” is hostile then I wonder whether you might think that “A rat in a cage” might be perceived even more so on the other side of the fence ….

And Steers, if you called that an AD HOMINEM I’m disappointed in you. You should know that cannot possibly be a logical FALLACY. How is it a logical fallacy? first of all, those apply to ARGUMENTS.

Sorry about that – another illusion bites the dust? :-) But, as mentioned above, making aspersions on a person’s character or attributes in the context of an argument can apparently also be construed as an ad hominem (1). For instance, in your examples and claims – “You’re fat, so I won’t listen to your argument on coats.” is an ad hominem. “That’s false because ___, also you’re retarded,” isn’t. – both cases would seem to qualify based on the “halo effect”, the essential mechanism in play in the ad hominem:

Ad hominem arguments work via the halo effect, a human cognitive bias in which the perception of one trait is influenced by the perception of an unrelated trait, e.g. treating an attractive person as more intelligent or more honest. People tend to see others as tending to be all good or tending to be all bad. Thus, if you can attribute a bad trait to your opponent, others will tend to doubt the quality of their arguments, even if the bad trait is irrelevant to the arguments.

Maybe in your second example the “false because ___” completely refutes the claim, but the “you’re retarded” would seem to be implying an extra weight to the arguments that is not warranted, and which then constitutes an ad hominem. But if what is presented is a killer argument then why muddy the waters with an irrelevant attack?

But maybe still a moot point depending on the context of the actual arguments.


1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem”;

682 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 1:55 am

John Greg said (#679):

Steers, what bad trait is Aratina Cage being labeled with? Especially as Aratina Cage spells out A rat in a Cage. It spells it out Steers. Can you not see that?

“You dirty rat.” (2) What his name or avatar spells is “Aratina Cage”; you have added some spaces which then spells something entirely different with a completely different meaning. Seems rather disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

What’s next? Are you going to tell someone they shouldn’t call me John because prositutes clients are called johns, therefore calling me John is ad hominemming me?

Not at all. Different situation unless someone can have some fun with your name by adding some spaces in betweeen the letters of it.

You’re going to look pretty damn stupid if Aratina admits to the play on words.

Maybe; I’ll take my lumps if that’s the case, although I don’t see they would be major ones regardless. But I note from Google that there are all sorts of Aratina streets, and I see an entry in ancestry.com for some 17 individuals with the last name of Aratina, and at least one with the first name of that (1).

1) “_http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?gl=allgs&gsfn=Augustine&gsln=Aratina&gss=seo&ghc=20”;
2) “_http://www.google.ca/search?q=%22You+dirty+rat%22&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=&oe=&rlz=1I7ADRA_en”;

683 Pitchguest March 26, 2013 at 2:36 am

#678 Steers

First of all, as a pedant you really should know better to argue semantics.

Second of all, don’t play the semantics game with me, Steers. You will lose. Badly.

684 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 3:31 am

Pitchguest said (#683):

#678 Steers

First of all, as a pedant you really should know better to argue semantics.

Second of all, don’t play the semantics game with me, Steers. You will lose. Badly.

I’m supposed to quake in my boots at the threat? I’m supposed to abandon the field unbloodied and in terror?

Bring it on; give it your best shot. Particularly since you haven’t yet made much of a credible case.

685 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:13 am

Steers, it can’t be misconstrued as an ad hominem. An ad hominem for what argument? I made my argument before writing and THEN asked them the question. Unless you want to claim that adding something onto an ad hominem can possibly be ad hominem. It can’t.
“You’re wrong because X. By the way, you’re stupid.” is not an ad hominem… its not a fallacy of any sort… use your brain. If you cant explain why something should be considered a logical error… its not.

Next time don’t lunge at people unless there’s some sort of sign it was meant maliciously. Bad boy.

686 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:14 am

(Although… “You’re wrong because you’re stupid.” is an ad hominem. “You’re wrong and you’re stupid.” Isn’t. “You’re stupid because you’re wrong” (that doesn’t make sense though…) isn’t, either. An ad hominem is when you try to say someone is wrong or that their argument shouldnt be listened to because of an irrelevant thing. Basically anything that doesnt lead to their argument being invalid. It does not need to be an insult.

687 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:15 am

Oh, and rats are fucking cute. I’d love to have a rat in a cage. Fuck you, Steersman.

688 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:20 am

lol @ Aratina saying its sexist to say “he” as the default. It’s just what people are used to… in some cases you could use “they.” Where that doesn;’t make sense (where doesn’t it?) using “she” is ‘sexist’ as well, so oh well. It’s just a chosen default, theres nothing sexist behind it, such as “womenz are inferior” lol.

689 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 5:08 am

WootheReaper said (#684/685):

Steers, it can’t be misconstrued as an ad hominem. An ad hominem for what argument?

I have a longer response to you that’s been sitting in moderation now for several hours (#681), but I did say in #667 to Pitchguest:

Gentle ribbing? Non sequiturs, and ad hominems, maybe;

I’m not sure what you’re referring to specifically or whether it is just general, but it may take me some time to figure out what you’re getting at, and to respond to your other comments.

690 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 5:55 am

WootheDestroyer, Steersman, and Pitchguest, I can feel the love. :)

My nym is from the Smashing Pumpkins song “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”. So, yeah, it is “a rat in a cage”. I kind of wish I had pulled it from 1984 as Jack considered; that would be much more respectable. Anyway, can I ask each of you what inspired your nyms as well? Is there an interesting story behind yours?

691 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 6:45 am

Mine is a reference to the Greek root of the word cybernetics (1) – i.e., steersman.

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics#Etymology”

692 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 6:49 am

Aratina, my name is inspired by the pit calling me Woo (they hated on me there, tear, tear. xD)… reaper is just an awesome title to be.

693 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 6:58 am

WootheReaper:

Not all of them hated you – even apart from me; try not to overdramatize ….

694 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

I never said all of them did.

695 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 7:00 am

But more disliked than liked.

696 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 7:08 am

As for Steersman, are you a fishermen or something?

697 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 7:23 am

Pretty cool stories, actually. Waiting to hear about Pitchguest’s. ;) I can’t believe I never looked at the etymology of “cybernetics” before–very nice. And the ‘pit calling you Woo? LOL. I had no idea.

698 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 7:24 am

WootheReaper:

I never said all of them did.

You said: “they hated on me there, tear, tear. xD)” where “they” generally means the whole group, the Pit in this case. More specifically (1):

they: 1a : those ones —used as third person pronoun serving as the plural of he, she, or it or referring to a group of two or more individuals not all of the same sex

The most reasonable construction, it would appear, is that you were saying that every last one there hated you – completely if not with a passion.

But more disliked than liked.

Even that looks like a stretch; you did a survey? My impression is quite a bit different ….

As for Steersman, are you a fishermen or something?

Don’t you read any of the other posts or links? See my #691.


1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/they”;

699 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 7:28 am

Yes, I remember Aratina once explained his nym (on Twitter or Pharyngula, can’t remember precisely), to the disapointment of his interlocutor, who though Aratina was a beautiful name for a girl.

Anyway, personally I find the nym quite nice. With the added bonus that the play on words means Aratina is in no way related to Nicolas Cage. Now, THAT would have sucked for Aratina :D

700 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 7:31 am

Hey, I like Nicolas Cage! I also may or may not be related to Johnny Cage. ;)

701 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 7:32 am

I don’t really remember Woo. Sorry there, Woo.

As for my nym, well, it’s my name. I used to go as Schrodinger’s Dog for a while, after a Terry Practhett quote:

“Somewhere around the place I’ve got an unfinished short story about Schrodinger’s Dog; it was mostly moaning about all the attention the cat was getting” – Terry Pratchett

702 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 7:35 am

Eucli – woo ….

703 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 7:40 am

Oh, Woo is Eucli? I though she posted here as Eu. Anyway, didn’t have a problem with her and even defended her at times.

704 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 7:52 am

Yes, I know. And that there were more than a few others who did likewise … which she seems determined to ignore ….

705 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

I’m not quite sure she’s determine to ignore this, but she’s been piled on quite a bit, and by “prominent” Pitters, no less. It can get very frustrating.

Back in the old days of SB’s Pharyngula, in the thread where I was banned and dungeonated, there was a lot of piling on me, but also a few supportive comments (in particular WRT my childhood abuse). Even after my banning, some commenters objected and thought I wasn’t so bad. But I don’t really remember these individuals by name/nym, and mostly remember the abuse. I still believe not all commenters at Pharyngula are assholes, but I do tend to generalise “Pharyngulites” or “the horde” as a shorthand. To be honest, there’s only a handful of commenters there that I find repulsive. And “repulsive” is not, IMO too strong a word for some of the things I read there.

Anyway, again, I think I can see where Eucli is coming from.

706 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 8:44 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD (#705):

Back in the old days of SB’s Pharyngula, in the thread where I was banned and dungeonated, there was a lot of piling on me ….

I hadn’t had much experience with these types of blogs and networks before showing up on the Slymepit, but I can certainly see that that type of mob behaviour you’ve described can be really problematic. Why I tend to think that the Pit’s open format is one of its better features – far less likelihood of the site turning into those echo-chambers which can be so conducive to the imposition of restrictive styles and values, if not actually pathological ones ….

But I can now also see more of where Eucli might be coming from ….

707 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

And with reasonable dialogue (and a bit of humour too), we make progress.

708 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

The structure and a dedicated website for the dialogue is now online

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/26/structure-and-dedicated-website-for-the-atheist-skeptic-dialogue/

709 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 9:19 am

Michael:

I see that website is pretty well open for business, but no “published opening statements” yet. Also, are there any details how that moderation process is going to work with outside comments coming in?

Thanks.

710 Michael Kingsford Gray March 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

Aratina
Anyway, can I ask each of you what inspired your nyms as well? Is there an interesting story behind yours?

Mine was a birthday present from my parents.
The “Kingsford” was in deference to the famous aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith.

711 Pitchguest March 26, 2013 at 11:30 am

Ha! Aren’t you guys going to be disappointed. Long story short, on another forum I chose the extremely unimaginative nickname “Guest” and when I was going to chat on the forum channel on IRC, it was taken (obviously) so I added the “pitch” because I wore black all the time. This was back in 2003 if I recall.

Stupid construct from my youth and it stuck. So there you go.

I also go by Mr. Mercy and Gilgamecha42. The “Mr. Mercy” is a play on words on my surname and “Gilgamecha42″ is from the story of Gilgamesh and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

712 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Um, Steersman, LSUOMA (you know, the pit owner?) put up a poll and a thread for people to bash me himself. I did not need to put up a survey. Pay attention. And read it. There you can read multiple people’s analysis of me. As for dislike vs like, I did not include neutral people or people who didnt really pay attn.

713 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I can’t believe you asked me that T-T The only excuse for wasting my time writing that for me to read is that you weren’t online then.

714 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I mean I’m not saying most of the pit threw eggs at me but I’m feeling the burn of those who did even now when I’ve been gone for a couple of months, soon to be three. Those who do throw eggs have gotten worse, making me out to be some psychotic personality disordered deluded weirdo, OR a personality disordered person who isn’t really deluded and trying to plot things on purpose if you go with whatever Jack was mumbling about. I’m still not sure what he was accusing me of doing.

715 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Damn, this nickname question has reminded me of all of this. It’s your fault, whoever asked. xD

716 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Woo, I’ve asked you before, can you please compose your thoughts into one comment at a time, rather than posting repeatedly one after another?

Also, can you please pick one pseudonym and stick to that, so that other people know who they are responding to?

717 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Ok I pick this one Mr. Nugent.

718 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Pitchguest: That’s not such a bad background after all. Thanks for sharing. :)

Phil_Giordana_FCD:
(What does the FCD stand for again? I can never remember.)

I still believe not all commenters at Pharyngula are assholes, but I do tend to generalise “Pharyngulites” or “the horde” as a shorthand. To be honest, there’s only a handful of commenters there that I find repulsive.

It’s actually that way for me, too. There have been times where I had to leave a thread on Pharyngula because of one person attacking me for no justifiable reason, and I generally need a lot of time before I feel comfortable reading anything that person writes again. I’ve also had major misunderstandings with others there that have resolved nicely. Some people have quirks where little things set them off (you see one of mine in that thread Gurdur keeps referring to). But on the whole, the Pharyngula horde is a good, interesting, knowledgeable, fun bunch of people.

Michael Kingsford Gray:
Pitchguest beats you in creativity. :P (Well, maybe not the “Kingsford”, but the rest.)

719 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

FCD stands for “Friend of Charles Darwin”. It’s a little thing, but it is quite a statement when dealing with creationists. It was first launched as a campaing to get Darwin on a UK banknote. And it worked, too! (10£ note).

http://friendsofdarwin.com/

720 windy March 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm

She did, however, ask whether they ought to be permissible, which is still a strange and shocking thing for someone of her background to propose

But it’s somewhat less shocking in the proper context where I was talking about sarcastic exaggeration and not about outright racist jokes, I should hope?

and I don’t believe they ought to be for what I think are obvious reasons (to people in the USA at least, and I guess windy doesn’t really get how bad they are here).

Or we have different ideas on what sort of (dark) humor is acceptable? IIRC, back in the day I also made fun of Henry Gee’s suggestion that New Atheists might be willing to torch synagogues.

I guess my nickname doesn’t need much explanation… it’s actually my old real-life nickname, which I started using online as sort of a self-deprecating alternative to more obscure pseudonyms (not that there’s anything wrong with those!)

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