How do we evaluate good and bad and hurtful statements? (a response to Justicar)

by Michael Nugent on March 22, 2013

Earlier in these posts, Justicar asked me some questions about what I meant by saying that certain comments were hurtful. It is a very helpful question, which I said I would reply to. Please place an unwritten ‘in my opinion’ before anything that sounds like I am asserting a fact.

Justicar wrote: “This sounds to me as though you are saying that either (1) there is something about those statements which is inherently harmful, or (2) to whatever extent that one thinks whether or not the harm perceived is entirely subjective, it remains the case that the subjective feelings of whoever takes greatest exception are the feelings which are privileged to displace everyone else’s subjective feelings.”

As a small point, I used the word hurtful rather than harmful, as I was talking about emotional and psychological harm, but either word will do.

With regard to (1): a statement is hurtful if it causes hurt. Is a specific statement inherently hurtful? I think some statements can be, and I will outline my thinking on that in the next section.

With regard to (2): Nobody’s subjective feelings can displace everyone else’s subjective feelings. People feel whatever they feel, independently of what other people feel.

Justicar wrote: “If you’re saying (1), then it should be a rather trivial affair to figure out that almost all people will agree on the proposition they’re  inherently, objectively harmful statements. Like being burned in a fire, say; I’m aware of no one who disputes that being set afire is anything other than inherently, objectively harmful. But nothing like almost all people will agree that a given insult/joke is inherently, objectively harmful. Thus, (1) cannot be the right answer.”

Some statements can be inherently, objectively hurtful (or to be more precise, the act of making some statements can be inherently, objectively hurtful). For example, if you make a statement in the presence of a person who you know will be hurt by hearing it, then that is inherently, objectively hurtful.

If you make a statement in a public or semi-public environment, where it is reasonably foreseeable as a consequence that the statement will be heard by some people who who will be hurt by it and some people who will not, is that statement (or the act of making it) hurtful? I suggest that it is, because a statement does not have to be hurtful to everybody in order to be hurtful.

To use your fire analogy, if I light a fire in a crowded room, with a reasonably foreseeable consequence that some people will be burned and others will be unharmed, then I suggest that the fire (and my setting of it) was inherently, objectively harmful even though some people were not harmed by it.

A person making such a hurtful statement may believe that they are justified in causing the hurt, or may believe that the statement overall causes more good than hurt, or they may not care about the hurt that the statement causes. But the act of making such a statement remains (maybe with delayed effect) an inherently, objectively hurtful act. In my opinion.

Justicar wrote: “If (2) is the case, then this has some obvious implications: conversation will be the hostage of anyone who claims to find offense or perceive harm in a given statement. In so granting this proposition, one thereby allows for the most sensitive person to be the arbiter of who is a bad person and the like. And if this be the case, then I see no grounds on which you’d be able to escape having to accept that you’re a bad person if someone claims to be harmed by, for instance, reading this article… but for your (and others) granting yourself (themselves) the right to dismiss such a claim.”

Your (2) is close to my version of your (1), but it does not mean that every conversation is held hostage by the most sensitive person.

For example, I am opposed to and actively campaign against laws that forbid blasphemy, because I believe that the benefits of criticizing ideas is more important than the unattainable ideal of never causing anybody any hurt. However, I generally try not to make hurtful comments about the individual people who hold those ideas.

Also, making a hurtful statement does not make you a bad person. I don’t believe anybody is ‘a good person’ or ‘a bad person’. Although I sometimes use the phrase ‘good person’ as a benign shorthand for people who generally try to behave ethically, I generally try not to use the phrase ‘bad person’ as a malign shorthand.

Justicar wrote: “And if you’re free to grant yourself the right to dismiss such a claim as unreasonable (perhaps because the person is unreasonably sensitive or some such) thereby evading having to accept that you’re an immoral person, on what grounds do you deny others an equivalent right to dismiss a claim of harm arising from one saying, “[example of a statement]”?”

I don’t see it as dismissing a claim that harm (or hurt) happened. I see it as observing whether harm (or hurt) actually happened, and evaluating whether on balance it was justified in that instance. Each situation has to be taken on its own merits, and there will obviously be a lot of subjectivity involved in that evaluation.

However we each define good and bad, they must be related to the impact of our behaviour on the suffering or wellbeing of other sentient beings, and I like Sam Harris’s idea that the worst possible world is a world where all conscious beings suffer to the maximal extent all of the time, and that, in principle, moving towards that is bad and moving away from it is good.

Justicar wrote: “While it’s true many people would not like such a comment, it’s far from clear to me that just speaking/writing those words inherently creates an injury (as is the case were it said to me). So, that leaves me with leaning towards your meaning being something like (2). And now it’s merely a matter of noting that since it isn’t inherently, objectively harmful, the extent to which it might cause harm depends on who [in this case: scouring the internet to find the words in the first place] decides to take it that way. In turn this implies that whether one is a good or bad person now hinges on the happenstance of who happens to (a) hear/read the words and (b) decide they’ve been hurt.”

With the proviso that I don’t see the difference between your (1) and (2) as distinctly as you do, I agree that the extent of the hurt that is caused depends on who hears it that is susceptible to being hurt by it.

I don’t think that’s relevant to the idea of whether the person who made the statement is a good or bad person.

And I don’t think the person who is hurt ‘decides’ to be hurt. The neurophysiological processes that are triggered by hearing a statement are no more ‘choosable’ than are the neurophysiological processes triggered by being hit in the face.

How we respond to that feeling of being hurt is the part that we should focus on, because that is more under our control. Assuming, that is, for the sake of having this discussion, that we do actually have free will and are not merely noticing what our brain is causing to happen.

Justicar wrote: “Or is there a (3) that I just entirely fail to see?”

I think it is more nuances on (1) and (2) than a (3), but other people may have other ideas. I am open to changing my mind on anything I have written here.

Update

Justicar has posted this video response, which I will reply to later.

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{ 299 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Edward Gemmer March 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

My liver!

I would say one issue I’ve seen is the huge amount of double standards an hypocrisy that goes on in this stuff. For example, at Pharyngula they take pride in the amount of insults and verbal abuse that is dished out. However, there seem to be some sort of bizarre rules to who can be insulted and why. I suppose that’s why it has become fairly worthless as a skeptic sight – the verbal abuse seems to be the entire point of the blog (plus a bit of science, which is good!). Very, very little actual reasoning or presentment facts seem to be important, and certainly are discouraged in the comments section.

2 Edward Gemmer March 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

And to be clear, I don’t mind the insults. People insult each other, it’s part of our emotions and feelings as human beings. I’d rather people be honest and bring it rather than be moderated out of existence. Still, if you are only going to allow passion from one side of an argument, that side will quickly get itself out into the weeds, because they never have to back it up with anything. That is certainly the issue at places like FtB. The Slymepit doesn’t have this issue, but bizarrely doesn’t field a ton of conversations about social justice issues anyway. So I don’t know – part of me feels that all of this is people naturally grouping with others who say the things they want to hear.

3 Karmakin March 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I have a few comments, but that’s mostly because on this part, I’m a lot closer to you than most people are going to be. Personally, I don’t like the personal insults myself and I try my best to avoid them. (Generally, the furthest I’ll go is calling someone a bigot when they repeatedly put people in little boxes) They’re a waste of time, space and energy and do absolutely nothing to move the conversation over.

That said, what Edward said is correct. We’ve only been focusing on one side of this..talking about the problems at the Pit, (This is a more general “We” that goes outside the context of this blog series) without looking at the other side of the coin. People are honestly offended when they are called a misogynist or when their ideas are reduced to their sexual organs or their skin color. It’s bad when it’s done to women, and it’s bad when it’s done to men.

Because this conversation has been largely to this point been about tribalism (we’re right and they’re wrong), and not a moralistic standard that we should strive to aim for, again, it’s gone pretty much nowhere. The thing about a moralistic standard, is that it needs to be as broadly applicable as possible, or it becomes oft-arbitrary, and as such can’t really be trusted. It becomes a political weapon, and not an ideal.

Then you have that these political weapons are nothing but hypocrisy, and that’s something that to be honest, enrages most people, and that just ratchets up the heat level as well.

4 Michael Nugent March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I agree that everything in this analysis (and indeed in any analysis) has to be equally applicable to statements regardless of who they are made by, or who they are directed at, or on what perceived ‘side’ the people are associated with.

5 hoary puccoon March 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Where did Justicar’s line about a “bad person” come from? That looks to me like a good place to disentangle some of the problem.

To invent an innocuous example, if you called me (an American) a yank, and I politely told you I found that term offensive, would you immediately jump to the conclusion I called you a bad person, take offense, make excuses, and double down? Or would you shrug and stop using the term in my presence? (While saying to yourself, “my, she is touchy.”)

I haven’t seen anyone saying, using term X automatically makes you a bad person. If that’s what Justicar et. al., are thinking, maybe that’s a misunderstanding that can be addressed.

6 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

To invent an innocuous example, if you called me (an American) a yank, and I politely told you I found that term offensive, would you immediately jump to the conclusion I called you a bad person, take offense, make excuses, and double down? Or would you shrug and stop using the term in my presence?

GFT

This is what makes me question the authenticity of some people’s commitment to an actual dialogue; some of them seem to be more interested in finding reasons to keep using certain words and insults instead of just accepting that some people find them offensive and hurtful and deciding, as an act of common courtesy, not to use those words in that context anymore.

How hard can be to say to yourself “oh, lots of people don’t like me calling them X; this gets in the way of the conversation so I won’t call them X anymore”…?

7 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm

That should be QFT (quoted for truth) not GFT…

8 Karmakin March 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm

@Hermit: The thing is, that goes for both sides. Calling people misogynist, “dudebros”, and so on.

9 Edward Gemmer March 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm

How hard can be to say to yourself “oh, lots of people don’t like me calling them X; this gets in the way of the conversation so I won’t call them X anymore”…?

For the most part, people don’t like to be insulted at all. Why is it so encouraged at, say, Pharyngula? It’s just hard for me to get real excited about the idea of saying insulting people is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t use some list of magic words.

10 Schrödinger's Therapist March 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

#6: “This is what makes me question the authenticity of some people’s commitment to an actual dialogue; some of them seem to be more interested in finding reasons to keep using certain words and insults…”

I’m sure that’s true. But there are also those who are determined to take offense no matter what is said.

11 Acathode March 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm

“Or would you shrug and stop using the term in my presence?”

I dare say that depended quite a bit if you had asked me to shove a rotten porcupine up my you-know-where, strawmanned everything I said, and then finished it of with calling me a misogynist before I called you a “yank”.

At that point, I really don’t think I’d care much about what you personally find offensive, and the only way you’re likely going to get me to stop using “yank” would be if you could show that it actually hurt _other_ people, like for example if you could convince me that “yank” was a racist slur (which, thinking about it, it might be).

If however you through the conversation been completely polite and civil, my response would probably be “Oh sorry, wont happen again”.

Politeness is a two-way street, and so is rudeness.
Considering that Pharyngula and the commentators there prides themselves with being a “rude blog”, and Myers explicitly states in “Pharyngula Standards & Practices” that:

“Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice.”

It seems rather strange to demand that we suddenly listen and care when pharyngulites start whine about others not being very nice to them. If you want to be rude, that’s fine by me, but please, don’t come complaining when people are rude back at you.

12 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Karmakin March 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm

@Hermit: The thing is, that goes for both sides. Calling people misogynist, “dudebros”, and so on.

Is “dudebro” on a par with (for example) [vulgar term deleted]? I don’t think I’ve seen anyone objecting to it, but yes if people are really offended by the term then yes it should be dropped from the vocabulary (I’ve never used it myself…)

On the other hand I see a lot of people objecting to the use of “misogynist” or “sexist’ when it used to describe a statement or an attitude, not a person. I think there’s an important difference there.

I personally try to never refer to an individual as sexist (or racist etc), but I reserve the right to use such terminology to describe a statement. (eg “Women are all bad drivers” is a sexist comment…describing it as such is not a slur against the person who says it it’s a description…an accurate description…of the comment itself.)

It’s a little harder to make the case that words like “cunt” or “bitch” are descriptive of a statement rather than a person…usually a person of a particular gender…

13 Eu March 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Sure, women are all bad drivers is a sexist (and stupid) attitude. In fact, I don’t like saying all, just “women are,” because I’m already annoyed when people make general statements and when I get mad, they tell me, “I never said 100% (all)!” Who the fuck said you did? NO ONE tries to say literally 100% because that would look really stupid and be easy to call out. Going “I didn’t say 100%, I mean more like 90%” doesn’t make a sexist generalization any cooler.

/rant.

If anyone’s objecting to being accused of sexism when they’re committing it there’s a problem… if you can’t explain why something’s not sexist, for example.

14 Karmakin March 22, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I think talking about if it’s “on par” misses the point. (Personally I think it is, but I don’t think it matters) The actual question is if it is above or below the line that we want to draw in terms of what is acceptable or not. If we want to say that personal insults are bad, then generally speaking both are over the line, pretty clearly.

Talking about descriptions of behavior, I agree that saying some behavior or a sentence is sexist is fine, however, I do think that referring to that as misogynistic is not. Why the difference? First, I think the former is often more accurate than the latter, secondly, I think the misogynistic because it’s going into the motives of the individual (I.E. A Hatred of Women), that’s why it crosses the line IMO.

Note that I think the usage of the term misogynist is often sexist in and of itself.

Cunt and Bitch, to some people do describe types of behaviors just the same as sexist, in their local cultures. I understand it’s not quite the same, but let me put it this way. If I were to rank these things, I would put those terms below in terms of offensiveness and the character/action balance misogynistic in terms of how offensive it is.

15 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I don’t think anything verbal is “objectively” harmful in a strict sense, because it’s all context dependent.

This is where Justicar goes wrong, and we discussed this on one of the earlier threads:

If (2) is the case, then this has some obvious implications: conversation will be the hostage of anyone who claims to find offense or perceive harm in a given statement. In so granting this proposition, one thereby allows for the most sensitive person to be the arbiter of who is a bad person and the like.

Perhaps it’s just my experience in the law, but this sort of problem doesn’t strike me as a problem. All that is required is a balancing test:

1) Is there genuine offense taken?
2) What is the legitimacy or importance of the statement causing the offense?
3) What is the burden placed on the speaker by avoiding the offense?

So, when we analyze a statement like, “There is no God. The claims of Christianity are not factual,” Christians will take offense.

Applying the balancing test:

1) The offense is legitimate. They are actually offended, not just “flopping.”

2) The ability to criticize religious claims is very high. We need to be able to do so for reasons ranging from free expression to the elimination of invidious social trends.

3) The burden placed on a speaker to not offend religious folks by criticizing their religion is incredibly high. It involves allowing their claims to stand uncontested.

Thus, I would say the importance of criticizing religion trumps the legitimacy of the offense taken.

Apply that to getting to say the word “cunt” over and over.

1) Yes, it legitimately offends women all over the world (even in Australia).

2) I am unclear at what end is gained by using that word.

3) The burden of avoiding using “cunt” is very low. I cannot imagine a statement of any importance that requires it.

So, the balancing test comes out in favor of not using the word.

Obviously people will read the input and output differently, and Christians, for example, will continue to think of us as rude for criticizing their beliefs, but we can live with that.

Similarly, if you want to say “cunt” over and over understanding the offense it causes, you should be prepared to live with the consequences, namely being called “sexist” for ignoring the concerns of women. I have no problem being called “anti-religious” or some equivalent.

So, I don’t see any confusing problem, here. We just don’t have to worry about this fantasy world of bowing to everyone taking offense, we just have to be willing to defend the statements causing offense on the merits. I think it’s precisely because this sexist language cannot be defended on the merits that a glib reductio is employed.

16 Eu March 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

People can say that if they want, the point is the terms B/C aren’t being used *by men* only to purposely put down *women* like they act. Tons of women use these first of all, second of all many will call anyone these terms… just like how other insults imply that it “should” go toward males but it’s used on everyone by some. No difference whatsoever.

17 doubtthat March 22, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Longer post in moderation, here’s the balancing test I propose to determine if we should accommodate the offense, or if the statement causing the offense should is too important to be censored:

1) Is there genuine offense taken?
2) What is the legitimacy or importance of the statement causing the offense?
3) What is the burden placed on the speaker by avoiding the offense?

18 hoary puccoon March 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Acathode @ 11–

I have never said anything to anyone involving a rotting porcupine. I cannot remember ever calling anyone a misogynist. Nor do I post on Pharyngula.
Has it escaped your notice that the people who do post on Pharyngula have reportedly stopped using the porcupine insult? In fact, I’ve seen long discussions on Pharyngula– and it’s not a blog I really follow– about how to keep their language squeaky clean and free from offensive epithets.
It doesn’t seem unreasonable that others do the same.

19 tina March 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Pharyngula Standards & Practices @7 March 2013
“This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.”

Pharyngula Standards & Practices @15 March 2013
“This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.”

Pharyngula Standards & Practices @22 March 2013
“This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.”

…..just sayin

Fine. Get what you sow reaped.

20 oolon March 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

The thing is, that goes for both sides. Calling people misogynist, “dudebros”, and so on.

Oh my fucking bob, yeah calling someone a racist is as bad as calling a black person a nigger. Calling a woman a dumb cunt is as bad as someone calling the caller a misogynist. Not even close. One references intrinsic properties, the other learned behaviour that can be changed and is therefore not attacking their person hood.

Its another example of attack the ideas, arguments and behaviours – NOT the person. Your offence when your behaviours, ideas and arguments are attacked is tough luck, that is something you chose to do, believe or argue.

21 tina March 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Sorry. What’s that y’all take pride in again?

22 Karmakin March 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm

@Oolon: No, actually I agree with you that there’s a vast difference between insults based upon intrinsic characteristics or group identity and insults based on emergent behavior/personality. I would more certainly say that as “nigger” is based largely on group identity, it clearly falls into the former category.

I do think that depending on the usage, that “bitch” or “cunt” can fall into either the former or the latter, however I think that generally speaking it falls into the latter than the former more often than not, the way it is generally used.

As I said, I think that all of the above, generally speaking do not help matters at all. I draw the line at what I think is helpful above that mark, so to speak. So I don’t like any of that language, although to be honest, I think that telling individuals to stop it in this environment is basically pointless.

The biggest problem as I see it is the conflating of “sexism” and “misogyny”. They are two different concepts and ideas. I have no problem with pointing out that people act in a sexist fashion. I do have a problem with equating it with a “hatred of women”.

23 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

The biggest problem as I see it is the conflating of “sexism” and “misogyny”. They are two different concepts and ideas. I have no problem with pointing out that people act in a sexist fashion. I do have a problem with equating it with a “hatred of women”.

I think you’re insisting on too narrow a definition of misogyny…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny#Definitions

But point taken, and actually it’s a word I’ve been avoiding for some time now.

You’ll have to help me out with something else though; I’m having a hard time understanding how you would use “cunt” or “bitch” to describe a comment or a behaviour as opposed to an individual…

24 Acathode March 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm

hoary puccoon:
I did not accuse you personally of anything, if you got that impression I’m sorry, that was not my intent.

My intent was to point out and illustrate that your request is essentially a request for politeness – you want someone to stop using a word you personally find offensive.

The response to such a request will therefor not always be to “shrug and stop using the term in your presence”, but rather will vary greatly, depending on the opposing party’s inclination to be polite to you. If your own behavior have been the polar opposite of polite, this inclination will be rather small for most people, and understandably so.

25 Renee Perry March 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Given that Pharyngula is admittedly a rude place and that the Slymepit also wants a place where there’s a certain culture that doesn’t work for everyone, wouldn’t it be more useful to think about how a group of secularists/atheists would want to have the conversation in a new venue, like this one that Michael is providing? I’m way more interested in how we move forward than looking back.

26 Parse March 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Eu @ 15, using your ‘first of all’ logic, since black people occasionally call themselves (or each other) nigger, that would make it acceptable for me (as a white man) to call them (and other people) niggers. If you disagree, could you explain the difference?
For your second point, I agree that there are many people who use the term indiscriminately (both as a general insult, and using it against men and women). I also think there are also many people who don’t (as well as many people who use it against men intending it to be extra insulting). At what point would you say that the indiscriminate use negates the specific use? Personally, I’d say it would be when the original use would be considered archaic (such as dork or geek), though your opinion may differ.
Whatever your answer, consider this: As there are many people who use the terms with sexist connotations, when you use bitch or cunt, how can I tell whether or not you’re one of those people? And why should I open myself up to potentially more sexism to let you clarify your position?
Please note, I’m not trying to say that you do use it with sexist intentions. Nor am I trying to say that, if I listen you explain your reasoning, that you’d take the chance to sling more sexism at me. I’m trying to say that there are people who would do both, and that at first glance you look like them.

27 Justicar March 22, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thanks for the response, Michael. I am having my first cup of coffee, but shall in a few moment’s time record a response to this because, as one might imagine, I have a few things to say. =^_^=

28 Gareth Soye (@garethsoye) March 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

“And I don’t think the person who is hurt ‘decides’ to be hurt.”

And herein Michael lies your problem. There are many many people who do decide to be hurt and they do it for the simple reason that they want attention (be it for emotional reasons or financial). Of course they aren’t really hurt but telling everyone they are and making someone into a bogeyman gets them what they want.

Many of these people purport to be your friends, they are not. They are using and controlling you for their own needs. This is life, there are people who stoop low enough to do this sort of thing.

29 Eu March 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

^^^ What Gareth said, certainly. Even if someone were to go, “well I’m sure they were at least /offended/” they turn that last part into a description of feelings/reaction that they did not have & are pretty unbelievable. They’re just coincidentally sensitive? Well, sensitive people don’t act as if their reactions can be reasonably explained (by talking about just how *awful* it was what they did as if that is a standard reaction)

30 Eu March 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Parse, this was covered already. Last time I’m saying it. The reason it would not be wise for a white person to randomly use it on a black person is because it is a known oppressing slur. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as in, avoid a black person feeling like you’re just trying to get away with being racist or really trying to call them niggers.

Among friends, it’s fine.

31 Eu March 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

If you want to continue comparing “nigger” to bitch and cunt and acting like people should be as careful with those terms I could advise you to go out more, or even just watch some reality TV, its *right there*, and then we can agree to disagree.

32 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Oolon said (#19):

Oh my fucking bob, yeah calling someone a racist is as bad as calling a black person a nigger. Calling a woman a dumb cunt is as bad as someone calling the caller a misogynist.

In your opinion.

In mine – and in those of more than a few others – there might well be cases where being called a racist or a misoynist is substantially worse, e.g., if there is no substance to the charge. At least in the case of “cunt” the definition indicates that it means “an obnoxious person, frequently female” which is largely a question of an interpretation by the issuer of the insult and unlikely to necessitate any concurrence with the opinion by anyone else. But “racist” or “misogynist”? That is an assertion of a hate directed at entire groups – the supposition (made without evidence) inherent in anathematizing “cunt” and “nigger” and other insults of similar natures. And, as someone pointed out earlier, a charge of “racist” at least if there is any substance to it, can land those guilty of it in jail, at least in France.

33 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Gareth Soye (@garethsoye) March 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm

And herein Michael lies your problem. There are many many people who do decide to be hurt and they do it for the simple reason that they want attention (be it for emotional reasons or financial).

Who are these “many” people exactly, and what makes you so sure they’re pretending? What financial reason do you think is behind this (don’t say “blog hits” or “speakers fees” because that nonsense has been pretty thoroughly debunked elsewhere more than once…)

34 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Eu said (#30):

If you want to continue comparing “nigger” to bitch and cunt and acting like people should be as careful with those terms I could advise you to go out more, or even just watch some reality TV, its *right there*, and then we can agree to disagree.

I happen to think that those words – “prick”, “cunt”, and “nigger” – do work the same way. It’s just that because the first one is very much more common than the others the impact is very much less – a question of tolerance which is illustrated and proven by all sorts of examples, from the reduced efficacy of various antibiotics to the necessity for stronger doses of various painkillers to attenuated responses to various sexual stimuli.

But it really seems to me to be a question of whether an insult is explicitly directed at an individual or at a whole group or class that should be the line in the sand, the Rubicon, that should determine subsequent responses. Claiming that an entire group is being targeted when the context clearly indicates otherwise – for example, asserting that “XY is being a real prick today” as no one can credibly assert that what is intended is the claim that all men are pricks – looks rather much like wrapping oneself in one flag or another – demagoguery, in a word.

35 Gareth Soye (@garethsoye) March 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

@A Hermit

I only enter into conversations such as this on blogs etc with people who are willing to use their real identity.

36 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Gareth Soye said (#34):

@A Hermit

I only enter into conversations such as this on blogs etc with people who are willing to use their real identity.

That looks rather like Achilles sulking (1) in his tent ….

1) “_http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Achilles%20in%20his%20tent”

37 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm

oolon, one is a hurtful insult on something someone cannot help, another is still a hurtful insulting accusation on their character. Unless, of course, they do not care about racism. Accusations of something awful can be hurtful too. I still can’t forgive the woman who accused me of taping her son being beat up (no tape exists and he was not beat up. I would never watch something like that let alone tape it.)

Comparing which one is moar hurtful isn’t really useful here

38 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm

@Gareth Soye

Why do people have to tell you their name? So you can look them up and mail them things depending on what you talk about? People who value security shouldn’t be talking to you?

I don’t know who you are, but like Benson and all, you obviously want to judge arguments on the person’s name rather than the content.

39 Gareth Soye (@garethsoye) March 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

It’s common courtesy in my opinion.

That’s all, my opinion. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just my opinion and my choice.

Should I be offended that you don’t like it?

40 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Steersman, I disagree that they work the same. When nigger was more commonly used it was still hurtful. Sorry, but a word created to insult black people when such speakers found them to be less than human pieces of shit is way more hurtful than ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’ which imply some kind of female part but are used for more than that. Those are just insults with the added intent of hostility behind them at the same level of all swear word.

41 smhll March 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm

If however you through the conversation been completely polite and civil, my response would probably be “Oh sorry, wont happen again”.

Politeness is a two-way street, and so is rudeness.

A guideline like this will tend to be very polarizing, especially if it is strictly followed. I think we can all see how it may lead to people being quite nice to the people who agree with them but getting huffy and inflammatory and eventually insulting with people whose point of view they find disagreeable. And then we have ‘sides’ that yell past each other and nurse grievances.

42 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

If bitch & cunt started developing the same way I would agree with you but I think it would be more likely that someone would come along using a different noun/adjective if we were to regress into a society that treats women like blacks were treated (in 2013, we do not match that).

43 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm

@Gareth Soye *choking* Why the hell would it be common courtesy for me to hand over my personal identity to you? What does that do for you in terms of courtesy? Where on the internet is a common courtesy? Some people value privacy. Sorry, but I’m not going to prance around the internet giving everyone my details (like I implied, I also have extra reason not to)… especially considering my ab-psych interests, I could have some real psychos after me.

44 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I mean, do I owe you something for your talking to me? Is that it? I guess it’s just one of those things that people learn from others.

Some think its a common courtesy not to put your elbows on the table, “just do it because its tradition to think that,” but I can’t value those things unless there’s a real reason to. “It’s rude to XYZ just because” or “It’s polite to XYZ just because” doesn’t fly with me. I don’t think it impolite nor necessary for people to tell me their name. Surely you can live with the same “misconduct” toward you, “Gareth Soye,” whoever that is. I gain nothing by knowing your name.

45 Dave Allen March 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Michael – thanks for that, I thought it was an interesting response and it’ll be interesting to see what Justicar has to say in return. I think it’s one of the thornier issues in the general debate, so it’s good to see two articulate people give it some wordcount.

46 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Could I propose “earlobe” and “nostril” as substitutes for gendered slurs?

47 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

God phil, no.

48 Justicar March 22, 2013 at 9:31 pm

In response to Hoary Puccoon @ 5:

The article in question was about ethical behavior. I was working under the assumption that it’s bad to be an unethical person and that a person who is routinely unethical and goes around doing unethical things on purpose would be accepted as a “bad person”. If you should like to argue that unethical conduct, repeated and intentional, is not sufficient to classify someone as a bad person, I’d be interested in hearing why that is. And, of course, what is left of a discussion of ethics if you could have a person who is unethical and nevertheless not a bad person (which doesn’t necessarily imply they’re a good person, only that they fail to be a bad one). And, of course, then I’d be most interested in seeing you go argue to the FfTB people and A+ people that the slymepitters are not bad people.

Further, given that misogyny is part and parcel of the standard refrain from those quarters, is it possible to hate women for being women and be a good person? If so, will I have the luxury of watching you argue that position over at A+ or FfTB? If you do decide to argue the point, do be sure to screencap it all on the off chance that it might get immediately deleted.

And with the use of the word cunt: do you propose to claim that it’s a misreading on my part to think that A+ and FfTB by and large would claim that someone calling someone else a cunt (and nothing more than that: just looking at, say, Ophelia Benson, and uttering the word “cunt”) is, without more, sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person?

49 Justicar March 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm

I have responded in video form, which can be watched (or ignored if you please) at this link: youtube.com/watch?v=dXFZnl34xZE

50 Eu March 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Justicar!!!! *screams* CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH? OMG IT’S JUSTICAR.

51 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Gareth Soye said (#38):

It’s common courtesy in my opinion.

That’s all, my opinion. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just my opinion and my choice.

Should I be offended that you don’t like it?

And your opinion should become the law of the land? And if it is not likely to have any influence then why express it?

But I expect that many are likely to be of the opinion in response that you’re acting like some pretentious Little Lord Fauntleroy. Opinions which are likely to have some negative influences on the reception your comments are likely to receive which might be to the detriment of everyone. But if you’re fine with that then go big, fill your boots, stand on ceremony ….

But whether you’re offended or not is unlikely to have much influence on anyone. Why should it? ….

52 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD said (#46):

Could I propose “earlobe” and “nostril” as substitutes for gendered slurs?

Christ, no! We would all have to start wearing burkas or scarfs to hide those pieces of our anatomies on the off chance that someone might be offended – shocked unto death itself! – by the mere sight of them!

Really a fascinating aspect of human psychology though. One might reasonably argue that taking offense over “bad werdz” isn’t all that far removed from totemism and sticking pins into voodoo dolls. Though somewhat disconcerting to see that behaviour in ostensible “skeptics” ….

53 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm

And I think Steersman (who I usualy see as a contrarian) summed up the issue of words and slurs quite perfectly @ #52

If you want to regulate language, assign to it some kind of magic power, and make it a taboo set of words, you are no better than religionists. I can understand Michael not wanting this kind of language on his blog, because that’s his prerogative as the landlord and fits his flavor of dialogue. I can also understand, and abid to, someone’s will not to be exposed to these slurs. The simpliest way to get me to respect one’s feelings is to ask nicely ( Ophelia did once, at Jerry Coyne’s blo…website, a month before EG, and I agreed and apologized. Thrice). But no one except the blog owner should have a right to order me to moderate my language on their blog.

Bending to some third party’s demands is a courtesy, not an obligation.

54 oolon March 22, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Really a fascinating aspect of human psychology though. One might reasonably argue that taking offense over “bad werdz” isn’t all that far removed from totemism and sticking pins into voodoo dolls. Though somewhat disconcerting to see that behaviour in ostensible “skeptics” ….

And that is a massive strawman, which you really should know by now. Its not the words, its the subtext. That being the implication that a persons intrinsic qualities are somehow relevant to their worth — be that a person of colour’s colour or a persons gender. That subtext is corrosive as many in our culture believe women for example should be subservient to men or act like they are merely sex objects there for the gratification of men. Phrases like “dumb cunt” and “fucking bitch” are the same words and viewpoint used by the Steubenville rapists when demeaning and objectifying a fellow human being into a worthless fuck toy.

The context is everything and I don’t know about the bloggers who objected to Reap Padens “bad werdz” but I’d have had as much of a problem if he has said “Fucking stupid woman” or some such when criticising her… And I don’t think we’d argue that “woman” is a bad word or a slur but we may agree that is at best an inappropriate use of it. Her womanhood is irrelevant to her being wrong (Or not in this case) and to imply otherwise is to perpetuate a dangerous attitude.

If you don’t want people to think you are a racist you don’t use “bad werdz” in certain contexts. If you don’t want people to think you homophobic or misogynistic or transphobic the same applies. Those attitudes cause real harm to people on the receiving end of them — ok so the most charitable interpretation for Reap is that he “didn’t mean it”… He does however give cover for and provides a climate where those that do “mean it” get to piss all over women.

55 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Eu said (#40):

Steersman, I disagree that they work the same. When nigger was more commonly used it was still hurtful.

Maybe you’ve seen this in your travels, but the comedian Lenny Bruce developed that argument (1) rather well, I think. A conclusion from his routine:

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. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, “I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet,” and if he’d just say “nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger” to every nigger he saw, “boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie,” “nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger” ’til nigger didn’t mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.

You might also be interested in this definition for the word “nigger”, notable for a quite cognent and telling observation by a black man, James Baldwin:

nig•ger (ngr)
n. Offensive Slang
1.a. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger” (James Baldwin);
1.b. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any dark-skinned people;
2. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived group of people

If people don’t buy into the judgement or emotion that is entailed by an insult then it is little more than “tinkling brass”. And somewhat apropos, I’ve always rather liked SallyStrange’s response (3) to me calling her a “cunt”, lo, these many moons ago:

And as far as insults go, “cunt” doesn’t work much on me. After all, I have one, and I happen to know it’s pretty awesome. Unless you weren’t trying to insult me but rather trying to tell me that I’m juicy, funky, flexible, and creative. Which would be true.

Seems to me that more progress is likely to be obtained in recognizing that than in empty and ineffectual cermonies where we all forswear – “cross our hearts and hope to die” – swearing, so to speak ….

Sorry, but a word created to insult black people when such speakers found them to be less than human pieces of shit is way more hurtful than ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’ which imply some kind of female part but are used for more than that. Those are just insults with the added intent of hostility behind them at the same level of all swear word.

But finding “them to be less than human pieces of shit” and indicating that seems little different from “added intent of hostility”. Really seems to me to be analogous cases – except for the question of impact reduced by tolerance due to frequency of use.

1) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lenny_Bruce”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nigger”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/02/21/not-as-much-fun-as-it-sounds/”;

56 Eu March 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Steersman, um, there is a HUGE difference between the total dehumanization in how black people were treated and thought of, what was acceptable, etc, and THE ADDED HOSTILITY THAT SWEAR WORDS HAVE.

HUGE. Someone uses a swear to insult you? Its just a bit more offensive than being called the replacement. “Dumb butt” vs “Dumb ass.” That’s what I use swear words (in calling people names for) added emphasis, hostility. The same with bitch (replacement of jerk, totally inappropriate/tactless/rude/traitor/whatever/any negative remark) and cunt.

57 Eu March 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

You’re going to give me a fucking nosebleed. Yes, some insults are more offensive and hostile than others, Steersman. I would rather be called those words than “nigger” but you seem to be just as traumatized by words like bitch and cunt. Lol, go figure. As for your former point, that words can be stripped of their extra offensiveness with them being worn out, yeah. Agreed.

58 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Oolon said (#54):

Really a fascinating aspect of human psychology though. One might reasonably argue that taking offense over “bad werdz” isn’t all that far removed from totemism and sticking pins into voodoo dolls. Though somewhat disconcerting to see that behaviour in ostensible “skeptics” ….

And that is a massive strawman, which you really should know by now. It’s not the words, it’s the subtext.

And, pray tell, where does that “subtext” actually reside? You’ve tracked that “fruminous bandersnatch” to its lair, tagged it, and written a peer-reviewed paper on it – forthcoming publication in Nature? Looks to me rather like it is entirely subjective, existing to varying degrees and extents only in the minds of the beholders. Rather an ephemeral, tenuous, and questionable foundation to be building much of anything on.

He does however give cover for and provides a climate where those that do “mean it” get to piss all over women.

Seems to me that any “pissing on” is only happening in your mind. Which is, if I’m not mistaken, substantially different from real women in real life.

But, in passing, I think you’re mischaracterizing my argument – and that of many others. I’m not particularly arguing that insults should be used as part any discussion, much less any formal debate. As virtually the entire purpose of insults seems to be only to hurt one’s “interlocutor” it is rather a stretch to argue that their use is likely to lead to much elucidation or illumination. Although their use in “getting peoples’ attention” may be the exception to the rule – various anti-Islamic cartoons probably being a credible case-in-point. But my argument is more that if people insist on using insults – of one form or another – then they really don’t have a fucking leg to stand on when those insults come back at them, doubled and redoubled. You really might want to spend a moment or two reflecting on the implications of “tit for tat” (1) ….

—-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat”;

59 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Well Gareth (if that is your REAL name) if I tell you that the A stands for Aleister is that enough to coax you down off your high horse to try to justify the vague, generalized accusations you made against persons you did not name?

60 A Hermit March 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD March 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Could I propose “earlobe” and “nostril” as substitutes for gendered slurs?

I’ve been advocating adherence to the Elizabethan insult guide… “Dankish fen-sucked barnacle” gets the point across as well as anything, but with a kind of jaunty air don’t you think?

61 John Greg March 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm

“Dankish fen-sucked barnacle”

HAHA. Bravo.

62 Steersman March 22, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Eu said (#56):

Steersman, um, there is a HUGE difference between the total dehumanization in how black people were treated and thought of, what was acceptable, etc, and THE ADDED HOSTILITY THAT SWEAR WORDS HAVE.

No kidding? Really? 😉

But you don’t think that “dehumanization” qualifies as some rather severe “hostility”? While I generally agree with you, I also think we’re talking about differences in degree, not kind. More particularly some have argued – with some degree of credibility – that the plight of women throughout history has not been uniformly that much better than that of slaves in general, black ones in particular. For instance there is the song (1) by Lennon and Ono titled Woman Is the Nigger of the World. And there is the book by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom (2) titled Does God Hate Women which is, apparently from the accounts I’ve read, quite a damning bill of particulars of what women have been subjected to.

In which case, one might reasonably ask if there is a whole lot of implicit “dehumanization” going on with “nigger” then why not with “cunt”? And then by extension and analogy, with “prick” and “asshole”? Sauce for the goose and all that ….

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_Is_the_Nigger_of_the_World”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia_Benson”;

63 Eu March 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Yes, dehumanization is severe hostility. There’s a difference between severe hostility and hostility in swears. Yes, Steersman, you are understanding now. Yay.

64 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 12:06 am

But the cases are still, I think, analogous. And in which case it seems that one might reasonably argue that while “nigger” is certainly rude and hostile, it is no more racist than “cunt” is misogynistic …. at least if you’re prepared to agree that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander ….

65 Eu March 23, 2013 at 12:20 am

How is it still analogous yet one way more hostile than the other on top of that, and also, a slur. Cunt is not misogynistic.

66 Eu March 23, 2013 at 12:21 am

Yeah, it refers to vaginas, but vaginas are not women. Nigger refers to black people themself… using black people itself, their identity, as an insult, implying bad things about black people when you say it.

67 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

How is it still analogous yet one way more hostile than the other on top of that, and also, a slur. Cunt is not misogynistic.

You might want to take a look at the article on analogies (2); “analogous” is not the same as “identical” or even “possessing the same scale”. More particularly, in (2) I might point to the paradigmatic example of the “analogy between the atom and the solar system”: the solar system is substantially larger than most atoms – a significant difference, but there are also some significant similarities, i.e., small objects going around larger objects.

In addition, this (1) graphic shows two triangles (first and third from the left) that can be construed as being analogous: the included angles are the same, but the sides are different, although they bear the same relationships (a hallmark of analogies). And – more particularly by labelling the triangles 1 and 3 with sides a, b, and c – a1 is to a3 as c1 is to c3, or, algebraically, a1:a3 = c1:c3 = b1:b3.

That “nigger” is more hostile than “cunt” – although some might disagree – doesn’t detract in the slightest – as far as I can see – from the relationships between the words and what they denote: physiological aspects of those targeted.

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Congruentie.svg”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogies”;

68 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

Oops – screwed-up my HTML; sorry about that.

69 smhll March 23, 2013 at 12:41 am

Yeah, it refers to vaginas, but vaginas are not women.

Cis women have them and have them permanently. Using a word that means vagina to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having a vagina is terrible.

70 Eu March 23, 2013 at 12:43 am

Well, its not a very parallel analogy, Steersman, I’ll still say that.

And smhll, no it’s not. Nigger referred specifically to black people with terrible implications. “Cunt” isn’t literally calling someone a vagina + terrible implications just like dick isn’t literally calling someone a penis.

I mean really, that would not be effective in this society. “You vagina!” “You penis!”

However… being black was a crime back in the day.

71 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 12:49 am

Eu (#66):

Yeah, it refers to vaginas, but vaginas are not women. Nigger refers to black people themselves… using black people itself, their identity, as an insult, implying bad things about black people when you say it.

Don’t think so. Take a look at the derivation of the definition (1):

[Alteration of dialectal neger, black person, from French nègre, from Spanish negro; see Negro.]

The word nigger is ultimately a reference to an anatomical part of a person (their skin and its colour) – the same relationship between cunt and woman.

But surely you don’t define your identity by your skin colour or your genitalia or any subset of your entire person. Why should you think that anyone else wants to do that, or thinks that that is an accurate reflection of who they are?

—–
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nigger”;

72 Pogsurf March 23, 2013 at 12:50 am

And with the use of the word cunt: do you propose to claim that it’s a misreading on my part to think that A+ and FfTB by and large would claim that someone calling someone else a cunt (and nothing more than that: just looking at, say, Ophelia Benson, and uttering the word “cunt”) is, without more, sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person?

Justicar could just as easily made this comment and used the term “a female blogger” or some fictional female name without changing its sense or impact. The fact that he has linked a real person’s name to the highly offensive term “cunt” leads me to believe that Justicar is acting in bad faith.

The key to determining whether something is hurtful or not lies in understanding whether the intention was good or bad. Of course no one other than Justicar can know for sure what his intention was at the time of writing the comment, and Justicar knows, as anyone does, that he can take this secret to his grave if he so wishes.

Just to be clear, my stating that I believe Justicar has acted badly by writing the comment in the way that he has, does not mean I am universally condemning him as a bad person. He clearly has a brain and a lot to offer, I am just questioning his motive in this specific instance.

73 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 1:00 am

Justicar could just as easily made this comment and used the term “a female blogger” or some fictional female name without changing its sense or impact. The fact that he has linked a real person’s name to the highly offensive term “cunt” leads me to believe that Justicar is acting in bad faith.

Note: your assumption that a random female blogger would take offense presupposes something about female bloggers because they are female bloggers I’m unwilling to suppose about them. I treat people like individuals; you might consider giving that a whirl. I chose Ophelia’s name because she is a particular person who has expressed an objection to the term. I could have chosen, say, Abbie Smith, but that would have changed its “sense or impact” since Abbie doesn’t give a rip about being called dirty names.

Abbie is, you see, (a) a female and (b) a blogger, and thus is “a female blogger” who wouldn’t be modeled by your categorical method of speaking about women who blog. Indeed, I find it somewhat disturbing how cavalierly you negate the agency of particular women to decide on their own what they do and don’t find offensive.

You aren’t questioning my motive so much as advertising how it is you view females as a class.

Yes, I do have a brain. Unlike some people in the instant conversation, I don’t stop using it simply because women are involved.

74 smhll March 23, 2013 at 1:13 am

In the United States, “cunt” almost never refers to men. There’s probably a reason for that.

75 Acathode March 23, 2013 at 1:30 am

Cis women have them and have them permanently. Using a word that means vagina to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having a vagina is terrible.

Humans have assholes. Using the word asshole to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having a asshole is terrible.

Or?

76 Eu March 23, 2013 at 1:46 am

smhll, I’m in the United States, some people use it as an insult on anyone, this is a fact, Just today Laden was called one. You can’t say, “dur, no one calls men cunts.” That’s lying saying, “dur, no one calls women dicks.”

77 Eu March 23, 2013 at 1:47 am

smhll, my comment is awaiting moderation, but Im from the U.S. and you can guess what I said. Basically that your post was inaccurate.

78 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 1:48 am

Acathode said (#77):

Humans have assholes. Using the word asshole to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having an asshole is terrible.

Or?

Analogously (1), in same way that we can say “hand is to palm as foot is to sole”, we can say “cunt” is to “misogyny” as “asshole” is to “misanthropy”. One might even argue that the latter – “asshole” – is at least twice as bad since, presumably, there are likely to be twice as many of those as of “cunts” or “pricks”.

That very few appreciate that analogy suggests either that remedial courses in logic and analogies are called for, or that there’s some bias, if not bigotry, in play ….

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogous#Identity_of_relation”;

79 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

Eu said:

Basically that your post was inaccurate.

I can imagine …. 😉

But play nice, boys and girls. Although one of mine to you is there as well, but I expect it was because of a frequent use of a common racist epithet as part of our discussion …

80 smhll March 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

Gee, I wish someone had mentioned “dick”, because I’ve been wanting to say that it will be a cold day in hell when the U.S. has a vice-president named Cunt Cheney.

81 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 2:12 am

smhll said (#81):

Gee, I wish someone had mentioned “dick”, because I’ve been wanting to say that it will be a cold day in hell when the U.S. has a vice-president named Cunt Cheney.

The similarities don’t have to be exhaustive or exact for an anlogy to be valid and of some use. As with the use of epithets as common personal names. But you might be interested in this observation and discussion with Ophelia Benson (1):

I think James is probably right about total avoidance. Corwin told me of an amusing use of “cunt” by a woman he knows (I hope he doesn’t mind if I steal it): she called the uncomfortable seat of her bike a cunt-buster. If women can reclaim the word that way, that’s good. No one uses “female genitalia” as an epithet, and various slang words have been adapted and adopted over time; maybe current epithets will be future nicknames. Fine. It’s just that we’re not there yet.

1) “_http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2011/the-nuanced-discussion/”;

82 Eu March 23, 2013 at 4:05 am

smhll Dick is short for Richard and has been for quite a while. Maybe even before dick meant penis. It has nothing to do with dick being used as an insult. I don’t understand why someone would be called cunt for short though… Cuntella?

83 Eu March 23, 2013 at 4:54 am

By the way… I dont know if this is the right thread (if its still on the column to the right, someone tell me which page this was said on) but I heard that someone said the “chill girl” term was made up by pitters to defame the other side?

Totally false. The very man who introduced me to atheism+ called me that. Own up, god.

Here are some examples of people on Atheism+ using the term “chill girl”:
This is hyperdeath:

“It’s particularly annoying when they wheel out some token Uncle Tom / Uncle Mary / Chill Girl, who they then imply speaks for that entire group.”

This is mailforpeace:

“I used to be a member and a moderator of the forum (back in my chill girl days) whose administrator did this.”

(I really doubt she was a chill girl. That’s like converting from atheism to catholic or something.)

This is Grimalkin:

” in my experience by men, and the women who do do it are commonly of the Chill Girl male-ally variety.”

This is tomas:

” that it’s a real, specific phenomenon, but that the general concept of “women who’ve struck a bargain with the patriarchy” (of which chill girls are a specific type)”

There was a post by simpleflower but it keeps saying “post removed by author.”

This is Nevyn:


One big difference between your (and many others’, surely) situation and the current “chill girl” usage is that the current batch of “chill girls” are actively trying to undercut feminism by trying to define it in terms of what they are comfortable with ”

Btw, Nevyn, are you fucking SERIOUS? Undercut feminism? Nice try. Im sorry, but you fuckers’ brand of feminism was not the first. Popular knowledge that feminism used to be different. Shove off.

This is Jadehawk:

“I’m by the way another recovering chill girl, though I didn’t get my chillness from religion”

I’m sure you get the point.

84 Eu March 23, 2013 at 5:03 am

Usage of the term “Chill Girl” on freethought blogs taken from: allintext: “chill girl” site:freethoughtblogs.com

Stephanie Zvan:
“How do you know whether you’re a chill girl? Simple. Is your reaction to complaints from other women of harassment and discrimination based on gender to turn to the guys and say, “Nah, I’m fine. It’s all cool”? Then you’re a chill girl.”

Gilleil (???)(This one uses chill girl a lot, but I only want to cite one example per person):
” I was a tad afraid that we would be getting our very own Chill Girl”

Ophelia Benson saying that she did NOT say that they didN’T take up the term chill girl:

“I claim no such thing. I said, truthfully, that I don’t call people “sister punisher” or “gender traitor.” I said what I do and don’t say. ”

logicpriest:
“Now he is quoting chill girls.”

So on. I’m tired.

85 Michael Kingsford Gray March 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

smhll March 23, 2013 at 1:13 am
In the United States, “cunt” almost never refers to men. There’s probably a reason for that.

Yes, I agree. There probably IS a reason for that.
Would your care to cease being “all coy” and passive-aggressive, and tell us what you hypothesise that reason to be, as you plainly do? Or are you genuinely confounded as to the reason?
(I certainly have my theory on why the US is a rank outlier in English-speaking territories on the furious superstitious fetishisation of perfectly serviceable but bizarrely selected Anglo-Saxon words.)

86 Bob March 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

@smhll

“Cis women have them and have them permanently. Using a word that means vagina to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having a vagina is terrible.”

The same could be said about calling someone a dick:

“Cis [men] have them and have them permanently. Using a word that means [penis] to also mean terrible person is a strong suggestion that having a [penis] is terrible.”

So, is calling someone a dick a suggestion that one who has one is a bad person? I’ve certainly never thought of it as misandric.

87 pogsurf March 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I will respond to Justicar when I have a little more time, but I wanted to add a mention of a English dialect word which may or may not still be in use in the farming community.

Imagine two dairy farmers about to inspect a cow’s nether regions, possibly with a view to plunging an arm in there. Whilst undertaking this delicate task they use the word “cuntle”. I think this has a much softer ring to it, though I still don’t think I would use this word when ladies were present.

88 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Pogsurf, you don’t suffer from reGreta virus do you?

89 Michael Kingsford Gray March 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Bob@86
Well said.
But it leaves me to wonder as to exactly why an adult (you) has to point out the bleedin’ obvious to another supposed adult (smhll)?
Why is it, I ask myself, that these self-styled social justice warriors cannot grasp your obvious & basic equivalence.
Surely it is plain to any sane adult that if one considers gendered epithets to be negative, then that should apply to both genders?
If not, then I sniff hypocrisy.

90 Edward Gemmer March 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I can’t understand any of this. If you insult someone, as is common on internet when people have mild disagreements, you are clearly trying to hurt their feelings. If you are trying to hurt their feelings, what does that say about you?

91 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Mild to moderate to severe. 😛

Anyway, what it says is that you feel they deserve to be called what they were called – to feel offense is the least they could do, you guess. Or, perhaps to feel shame, or anger (which I guess is offense?).
——o——–o——–o——-o——–o——–o——-o——-o——-o—o
Sig:
“And I think you’re minimizing her decision when you say it was impulsive. I think it was calculated and deliberate. She was hunting for someone to vilify. The fact that she knew to take a picture. To smile while taking the picture to make it seem like a friendly gesture. She had this thought out before it happened. The only thing she didn’t get right was the reaction. She expected to be hailed as a hero, not to lose her job.

I only feel bad for the guy who lost his job for a dongle joke. He had 3 kids to support.” – cool person

92 Edward Gemmer March 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

One thought I’ve had lately is that when struggling to find arguments or reason, people substitute emotion and anger. Perhaps a reason why the internet explodes over relatively innocuous things – ElevatorGate, DongleGate, etc. There is no argument to be made because it’s all so silly to be arguing about at all, so instead people get REALLY ANGRY to show how important this really is.

93 pogsurf March 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Justicat, I am afraid my prejudices are far worse than you imagine. I think that most people, men or women, would be offended if you called them a cunt. This is an unfortunate consequence of growing up in a very rough part of the UK where we learnt very early on to punch people very hard in the face if they used that term against you. This was our rough and ready of sorting out the men from the boys. (No man would dream of hitting a girl by the way, which is another example of my now dreadfully sexist views.)

Quite by chance you have hit upon the most offensive word in the English language, yet you feign surprise when people are offended by it. I am beginning to form the impression you are deeply unpleasant person who gets off by making hurtful comments to other people. Good luck when you venture out into the real world Justicar, you won’ t find it nearly so forgiving when you don’ t have a keyboard to hide behind.

On the subject of viruses, you wouldn’t know this but I did have some blood tests recently, and my red cell count came out high. I don’ t know the particular virus you mention, but I shall surely think of it when I shortly visit my doctor.

94 Razorback73 March 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I think this is all bullshit. Peoples feelings being hurt is their choice. I do not give offense or harm in anything I say, people choose to take offense or to feel hurt. I have stated may times in the past to many people, “No one can offend or hurt me with their words, because I choose not to be a pussy and sit and cry about it.” I really think the supposed adults in the Western world need to grow up and stop being such victim hunting, sniveling, bitchy pussies and get on with their lives.

95 A Hermit March 23, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Wow…a 20 minute video desperately trying to explain why its really OK to call women cunts even if they’ve asked you not to…

Some people have way too much time on their hands…

96 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Gemmer, how the fuck is it “silly” to argue about people supporting the actions of some purposely malicious person who got someone fired? It gets people angry because it’s angering. They’re calling it sexist, etc, and acting like she’s a hero. It only doubles the injustice. Hell yeah I’m angry. I have to MUTE my sound when someone reads from PZ’s post because I don’t want to hear it – I even get mad at them for a second for reading it, as if they are supposed to think about people who are oversensitive to bullshit. (Sorry, Justicar)

In reality she’s no different from some jerk paparazzi trying to paint someone in a negative light… I can just imagine her smiling and taking that fucking picture, trying to make dongle jokes into something awful (body shaming much??? Imagine if someone was whining about women making VAGINA JOKES. They would tell the guy to get the fuck over it and piss off taking pictures of innocent women who did nothing, trying to smear them.)

Maybe someone needs to set you up for Prank’d – Job Loss or perhaps Prank’d – Labeled Sexist and then you would understand.
It’s not “no biggie” or “trivial.”

Also, people don’t substitute emotion just for that. Many times it comes with the arguments. But the more insistent the other side is on minimalizing the issue the more insistent the side is on showing their emotions while arguing.

Sig:
“And I think you’re minimizing her decision when you say it was impulsive. I think it was calculated and deliberate. She was hunting for someone to vilify. The fact that she knew to take a picture. To smile while taking the picture to make it seem like a friendly gesture. She had this thought out before it happened. The only thing she didn’t get right was the reaction. She expected to be hailed as a hero, not to lose her job.

I only feel bad for the guy who lost his job for a dongle joke. He had 3 kids to support.” – cool person

97 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

TBH, I am so tired of seeing people support that conniving little asshole.

Sig:
“I think it was calculated and deliberate. She was hunting for someone to vilify. The fact that she knew to take a picture. To smile while taking the picture to make it seem like a friendly gesture. She had this thought out before it happened. The only thing she didn’t get right was the reaction. She expected to be hailed as a hero, not to lose her job.”
– cool person

98 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm

@95 A Hermit

Some people have way too much time on their hands…

FTB HYPOCRITE! You watched it!!!!

99 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

@86 Bob

If you are an adult and still find the “mirror image” argument persuasive…

Why, oh why, is there no White Entertainment Television?

Truly baffling.

100 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

To just use Hermit’s point as a launching pad:

Wow…a 20 minute video desperately trying to explain why its really OK to call women cunts even if they’ve asked you not to…

Acknowledging that as atheists we often ignore the pleas of religious folks to, say, stop calling their holy scripture “myths” or “fairy tales,” which is an actual, valid charge of hypocrisy (why are so concerned about the offense women take but you gleefully antagonize believers?), I once again submit the following balance test to determine when one should continue using offensive terms:

1) Is there genuine offense taken?
2) What is the legitimacy or importance of the statement causing the offense?
3) What is the burden placed on the speaker by avoiding the offense?

If you run that test on usage of the word “cunt,” and still spit it out, that’s fine, but you have to understand that people are going to call that behavior sexist.

When I run that test with “Jesus wasn’t real,” I come out with a good argument for why I should keep saying that even when Christians are legitimately offended.

All it takes is the effort of defending the offending term on the merits. If you can’t defend a statement and it’s causing offense, you should probably stop using it.

101 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm

@doubtthat Can you please quote or paraphrase where the video you are on about said /that/? Or is it that the video maker doesn’t care *who* is insulted (man or woman)? Because Im a bit skeptical about someone making a video about how it doesnt matter if someone purposely goes after justwomen with the word.

102 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Also, just these:

1) Is there genuine offense taken?
2) What is the legitimacy or importance of the statement causing the offense?
3) What is the burden placed on the speaker by avoiding the offense?

Is not enough… atheism+ for example has rebuted tone-trolling (at least in terms of swearing… they did NOT rebut trying to call complaining about abuse tone trolling.. I wanna make it clear I dont agree with their extended usage of it)…

Someone could check their “don’t tell people not to swear” rule against this:

1) Is there genuine offense taken?
2) What is the legitimacy or importance of the statement causing the offense?
3) What is the burden placed on the speaker by avoiding the offense?

And come up with: Atheism+ (and Pharyngula for that matter, where people are encouraged to take out their metaphorical knife and flense it so thoroughly that the ‘dissenters’ feel pain in every nerve ending… GAWD) are in the wrong for offending people with swears (and the insults).

103 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Personally I think a 4 is vry important: Is their offense worth avoiding or is bowing to it just limiting your behavior for nothing? Should I care about those church ladies and gentlemen on the corner telling me not to swear? Or that one who got juice all over my shit horsing around being called a “jerk”?

104 A Hermit March 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Acknowledging that as atheists we often ignore the pleas of religious folks to, say, stop calling their holy scripture “myths” or “fairy tales,” which is an actual, valid charge of hypocrisy (why are so concerned about the offense women take but you gleefully antagonize believers?)

Actually I don’t do that when I talk to believers; my goal isn’t to antagonize, it;s to get them to think about a different point of view. You can’t do that if you’re just pissing people off.

105 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm

We should start talking about cheesy pasta. How about angel hair with… I dunno. cream sauce?

106 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

@Woo

I was quoting Hermit, he was making a statement about the video included in an update to the OP.

As for the rest, huh?

107 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm

@104 A Hermit

Well, I personally like antagonizing them because I grew up in a Bible-belt area, but I don’t think that’s necessarily important – poor phrasing on my part.

Having been around evangelicals, they are legitimately offended by any argument, no matter how politely stated, that denies the truth or sanctity of the Bible. The very notion that Jesus isn’t the son of god…etc. will offend them.

Thus, it cannot be that “offense” is all that matters. Consider Muslims who are offended by any depiction of Mohammed. It’s not hard to come up with examples, and their offense does not shut down our ability to criticize their views.

Thus, there has to be more. The importance of arguing against religion is very high, and the burden placed on a critique by having to avoid any statement that in any way suggests that there is nothing divine about their old book is incredibly high. Thus, our need to criticize trumps their offense. If they call me a jerk or anti-religious because of that, I happily accept that hate.

You cannot run the same test and arrive at the conclusion that saying “cunt” is super important, and if you do, expect to be called sexist.

108 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

@102 Woo

Give me a statement, and run the test. My guess is that FtB folks, especially those posting at Myers’ site, will think that the ability to quickly and devastatingly demolish bad ideas is important enough to risk causing offense.

Again, the point of the test is not to come to a specific conclusion, it’s to clarify why you are causing offense. Not all offense should be avoided, and different people will have different opinions, but (1) Justicar’s crocodile tears over the idea that we will have to bow to everyone claiming offense is eliminated this way and (2) it shows why you can’t both say “cunt” all the time and get upset when people call you sexist.

It forces people to articulate the need for the offense and why they can’t just stop using it.

109 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Other examples:

We cannot indulge the offense a wide range of religious groups take at women appearing uncovered–no scarves, showing shoulder, showing leg…etc.

We cannot indulge racists who are offended by having to share spaces with people of different ethnic identities.

I submit that the proper approach is not to pretend like there isn’t real offense in these situations, but to articulate that the actions causing the offense are more important than the hurt feelings. This isn’t particularly difficult to do, but I always try to avoid arguing principle when it’s really a disagreement over instances.

110 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

@doubtthat

So, the only thing making it alright is if its important? So, if you were talking to one of those barely-Christians that have no antagonizing views against others, it would be unacceptable to offend more?

I say there’s even MORE to it than those 3 points.

111 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm

offend them*

And cunt being sexist depends entirely on what its being used for, not whether or not someone is offended. Some people infantalize but every female under 18 because everyone knows theyre like children… (not)… (Er… I think so anyway. Someone from A+ was complaining about that) but some people do that to minors of any sex.

If somthing is sexist it doesn’t matter if it offends no one, its sexist.

112 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

@110 Woo

It’s not a matter of what’s “alright.”

if you were talking to one of those barely-Christians that have no antagonizing views against others, it would be unacceptable to offend more?

You have misunderstood the test. It begins with someone taking offense. I’d have to know what was said that offended these barely-Christians to know whether it’s a statement worth defending.

I broke down the process in post 15, but it was stuck in moderation. I illustrate the process pretty clearly there.

113 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm

@111 Woo

And cunt being sexist depends entirely on what its being used for, not whether or not someone is offended.

That is totally irrelevant to the point being made. I get that this is the refrain from you folks, but it couldn’t be more irrelevant.

Under my assessment, it’s not (just) the use of the word that would invite a charge of sexism, is the continued use of the word after someone has expressed offense. See comment 15.

114 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm

@doubtthat are you serious?

I’m sure Matt was offended when… who might be “Caine” from Pharyngula, but dont quote me, called him a cunt. And if she continued he mightve asked her to stop.

It’s then offensive, not SEXIST.

http://atheiststoday.com/images/dw_adams/sinister_rnr.png

You cannot argue that something sexist because it offended someone. That’s not the definition of sexist, sorry.

“prejudice or discrimination based on sex” Someone needs to be calling someone a cunt /because/ they are a woman.

115 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Simple as that. Take the correction

116 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:02 pm

LOLOL. I’m sorry but this was rathr funny: (I dont think theymeant to imply that you count as an evangelical, because you arent on TV or the radio)

“Having been around feminists evangelicals, they are legitimately offended by any argument, no matter how politely stated, that denies the truth or sanctity of (their brand of) Feminism The very notion that a woman could ever be responsible…etc. will offend them.

Thus, there has to be more. The importance of arguing against feminists is very high, and the burden placed on a critique by having to avoid any statement that in any way suggests that there is nothing divine about their vaginas is incredibly high. Thus, our need to criticize trumps their offense. If they call me a jerk or anti-feminist because of that, I happily accept that hate.”

(I added the words in parenthesis to match what was actually being referenced LOL)

117 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

You cannot argue that something sexist because it offended someone.

Holy shitcakes. Is that honestly what you have read in my posts? What’s odd is that I said precisely not that:

Under my assessment, it’s not (just) the use of the word that would invite a charge of sexism, is the continued use of the word after someone has expressed offense.

It’s the act of continuing to do something a person has asked you to stop without having any real reason that would merit the charge of sexism, not just that it was offended.

In fact, my whole fucking point is that the conversation does not begin and end with someone declaring offense. Honestly, I’m suspecting that your problem is one of fundamental comprehension, here.

118 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

@116 Woo

Goddamn, that was stupid.

First, you’re basing this on the myth that feminists are offended by disagreement. Mr. Nugent made a special thread to allow you folks to prove this, you failed miserably.

Again, you have to BEGIN with someone taking offense. Find an example of a feminist taking offense over disagreement, and you’ve just started.

But yes, all you’ve done is show that the test works well. If you’re saying things that offend feminists, and you think they’re important, then you should accept that you will not be liked among feminists.

The total failure of this idiotic game you’re playing, however, is that you’re trying to use vague, inchoate nonsense as an input. It will not work that way.

Start with a statement you’ve made or agree with. Show that Feminists are actually offended (step 1), then run the rest of the test.

Honestly, it really isn’t that complicated.

119 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:08 pm

@doubtthat

CONTINUALLY offending doesn’t make it sexist either.

Did you not read MY post?

“I’m sure Matt was offended when… who might be “Caine” from Pharyngula, but dont quote me, called him a cunt. And if she continued he mightve asked her to stop. <— *cough cough cough* SPESHUL ATTENTION TO THIS PART*** IF MATT ASKED HER TO STOP IS SHE SEXIST FOR CALLING HIM ONE?*** lofuckingl.

120 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Nice try though, girl. Up top.

121 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Notice that with the religious example, “There is no God,” is the statement that causes offense.

Here is another one, “Gays should be allowed to marry.”

These are statements and positions that cause offense, but the offense is trumped by obvious social importance (or, if not obvious, an argument can be presented).

You’ve skipped that part in you obnoxious, childish attempt at a takedown. It’s a complete swing and miss.

122 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

@119 Woo

I find it endlessly fascinating that everyone assumes I’m a woman. I haven’t bothered correcting because in context it makes it seem like I’m insulted by the charge.

Here it seems relevant, however, because you are actually trying to use what you perceived to be my gender to insult me.

Only a sexist would make that condescending, patronizing (interesting root to that word, no?) comment at 120. You are very obviously a sexist.

And yes, continuing to use “cunt” after it’s been explained that the person finds the term sexist, is sexist.

If you kept calling a black man “boy” even after the meaning of that word was explained, you would be a racist. That’s accepting that the first use was accidental or ignorant (though such things rarely are).

123 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

@doubtthat Don’t act thick. It’s clearly implied that I didn’t write that. I just thought it was funny. Not that they were attempting to take you down – they were stating another thing that bypassing avoiding offense for criticism for is worth it – but using a template of what you said. It doesn’t need to match up with everything you said either. Talk about missing their point.

124 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

@123 Woo

“Clearly” is a bit strong. You could actually explain who you’re talking about.

Whoever wrote that, it’s amazingly stupid. If you find it funny or insightful…well, that doesn’t nothing to repair my esteem for you.

125 AppleStairs March 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm

My guess is that FtB folks, especially those posting at Myers’ site, will think that the ability to quickly and devastatingly demolish bad ideas is important enough to risk causing offense.

I’d say whether folks at Myers’ are actually skilled at “demolishing bad ideas” will depend on whom you ask. They are certainly good at dogpiling and directing so much venom, aggression, and insult at disfavored commenters that they eventually give up trying to answer a few dozen people who are misrepresenting them and/or screaming insults at them.

EllenBeth Wachs, for example, says she will never return to Pharyngula after the treatment she received last night.

126 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm

@125 AppleStairs

What does that have to do with anything? It’s a complete non-sequitor given my point.

Do you just relish every opportunity to babble about FtB and bring up silly grudges?

You’re honestly whining about a commenter absent any prompting. The obsession is just bizarre.

127 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm

“Here it seems relevant, however, because you are actually trying to use what you perceived to be my gender to insult me.

Only a sexist would make that condescending, patronizing (interesting root to that word, no?) comment at 120. You are very obviously a sexist.

And yes, continuing to use “cunt” after it’s been explained that the person finds the term sexist, is sexist.”

No, doubtthat… it’s not sexist. I ask… are you DRUNK? Just because someone says its sexist doesn’t make it sexist to continue using it. It would have to be sexist in the first place – meaning, it would’ve ben sexist to use it whether they continued in the first place. Can you please just admit that you think everyone who uses the word cunt is sexist regardless of their usage of it? Because these arguments you’re conjuring out of your head have *me* embarrassed for *you*

Whoa, HOLD THE FUCK UP. So you try to offend me by calling me a sexist because I mistook you for a woman? Is being mistaken for a woman really that big a deal that you have to pull a stupid asshole move such as pulling an entire “motive” out of your ass just to piss me off? Well, gee, I sure PAID for assuming sex there. My bad. I will never do it again.

Imagine the tomatoes I would get if I tried that shit every time someone assumed I was a man. “Oh my god… they called me a MAN. ”

“Well, you, you’re so obviously sexist scum. You purposely called me a man just to piss me off… which is… sexist. clearly sexist.”

Yeah, I’m done in this conversation. This can go nowhere good (unless amends were made, but I really dont see you as the type to apologize.) You attack me and accuse me of all those things for no reason? I’ve had enough of being called a sexist asshole for no good reason today. That was the second time. And watching people being called misogynists for no reason too. You and supporters of accusing people of things like that really need to take a look at yourselves and stop fucking doing it.

See ya later. I’ll think about participating later or in a different conversation.

128 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm

@Woo

You aren’t worth dealing with. You are incoherent, incapable of having a rational interaction, and generally ill-intentioned.

So you try to offend me by calling me a sexist because I mistook you for a woman?

No, I called you sexist because you said this:

Nice try though, girl. Up top.

The sexism is manifest in your attempt to condescend based on your presumption of my gender.

I’m done with you, you offer nothing of substance. Others are welcome to sift through your garbled horseshit.

129 Acathode March 23, 2013 at 6:32 pm

It’s the act of continuing to do something a person has asked you to stop without having any real reason that would merit the charge of sexism, not just that it was offended.

Exactly how does this merit a charge of sexism?

Definition of SEXISM (from merriam-webster.com)
1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
2 : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

How does failing to be polite and adhering someone’s personal wishes fulfill the definition of sexism?

130 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm

What condescending behavior, doubtthat? YOU were the only one out of line, doubtthat. The only excuse for calling it condescending is “Im not from America and I dont know what Nice Try means.” Are you trying to imply that nice try is mainly used on girls to… I dunno… condescend them?

Lemme break it down for you – “nice try” and “up top” were sarcastic. No nice try there at all. As for the spewl that I am condescending to women… lolll… even girl sexists aren’t going to be condescending to themselves.

No, actually, no, not lol. I’m quite upset. Can I have an apology for your calling me that for no good reason?

131 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm

@129 Acathode

Great, more dictionary stuff.

How does failing to be polite and adhering someone’s personal wishes fulfill the definition of sexism?

I love how you try to generalize this. It’s not just “failing to be polite” or adhering to some generalized notion of wishes, it’s a very specific case when someone tells you, “I find the word ‘cunt’ hurtful because it’s been used as a slur to insult women, please stop using it.” If you ignore that with no good reason save, “I don’t mean it that way,” or “I can say what I want, nyah, nyah.”

Again, consider the use of the word “boy” as a racial slur. Now, someone from another country may not understand its specific history in America, so the first instance of calling a black man “boy” can be excused as a mistake born of ignorance. When a black man tells this person, “Hey, please don’t call me ‘boy.’ I understand you may use it as a term of affection where you’re from, but it really has a nasty racial history here,” what would you say to the person who says, “sorry, I’m going to keep calling you boy because I don’t mean it negatively.” You would call that person an asshole, and the complete disregard for the feelings of that black person is perfectly compatible with a charge of racism.

Now, for the stupid dictionary bullshit. Why do you motherfuckers just go through and cherry-pick self-serving definitions?

Try this one:

discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex

Yes, ignoring the requests of women with no good reason devalues their status. It’s rare that the wishes of someone you respect are completely ignored absent a strong reason. The same is true of the racist example above.

Devaluing, ignoring, continuing to tell women that you don’t give a shit how they experience a term, you’re going to keep using it, is a very sexist attitude.

132 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm

@130 Woo

Your bullshit is transparent.

133 Woo the Destroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm

@doubtthat – the only way to be racist is to be prejudiced against a race of people. Not caring about someone’s feelings is totally different.

134 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I hope you’re not saying that c is in anyway comparable to n. It’s not. there is no history of oppression targeting women behind it… ( Oh, there sekritly is, they just didnt teach it in class!)

Translation: If you dont care about someones feelings, and theyre a woman, you are a sexist.

135 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Nugent’s moderation is hella annoying. Now he put the Imp word on moderation? that took like 100 posts to figure out.

136 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

@133 Woo

That you think that’s a valid response to anything I’ve written reveals how completely you’ve misunderstood the point.

137 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

doubtthat, you just kind of make it up as you go along, don’t you?

You would do very well to take a few remedial English language courses, in particular, those that study diction and etymology. Your ignorance of language, diction, rhetoric, and etymology colours every single one of your specious arguments.

What it boils down to, your argument, that is, is: “What I say is the one and only truth and no amount history, real-world practice, or difference of opinion stands in my court of law.”

138 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm

@doubtthat – so when you dont care about the commands of a woman, it devalues their status? And that also devalues the status of all WOMEN? I’m sorry but women are individual people. Its not “what you do to one you do to all.” I’m sure no one says this bullcrap in “defense of” men. Id be insulted if I was a man. That’s so Try Hard.

As for bullshit.. nice… to get around apologizing for calling me a sexist for no reason, you just claim my bullshit, which you could not explain, is transparent.

You’re the one bullshitting with a claim that there was some kind of condescending against women in my comment to you. It was sarcasm and nothing more. lol, expect some pretty uniform replies in the future if you ever try to @ me in future discussions.

139 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm

If I knew you were a man, I’d simply go, “Nice try, boy. Up top.”

Bet you wouldnt pull some bullshit out of your ass about it being sexist due to condescension (???) again.

140 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Great, the cavalry of aimless stupidity has arrived.

I’m out on this one. The point has been made.

141 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 6:59 pm

@doubtthat (#113):

Under my assessment, it’s not (just) the use of the word that would invite a charge of sexism, is the continued use of the word after someone has expressed offense. See comment 15.

Apart from the not exactly trivial issue that you haven’t actually proven that every use of various “gendered insults” are sexist, I wonder whether you have stopped saying, for example, that there is no god to religious people, or stopped publishing or supporting anti-Islamic cartoons, when those people have indicated that they were “offended” and asked you to stop? Your “balance test” seems to hold some water, but there seems to be a few other issues you’re ignoring or trying to sweep under the carpet.

And in the case of various feminists, while I don’t particularly think that gendered insults, or any insults for that matter, help to resolve many problems, one might at least have some sympathy for those who do, particularly in cases where some feminists appear to be rather pig-headed about their dogma – which many appear to advance with the same degree of insulting arrogance that the more dogmatic and fundamentalist Christians do with theirs. And if those feminists insist on trying to peddle their woo with that insulting arrogance then I expect they don’t have much of a leg to stand on when people return the favour with other more pointed insults of their own.

142 AppleStairs March 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm

@doubthat

What does that have to do with anything? It’s a complete non-sequitor given my point. Do you just relish every opportunity to babble about FtB and bring up silly grudges? You’re honestly whining about a commenter absent any prompting. The obsession is just bizarre.

A complete non sequitur given your point that I quoted and the subject of the thread? No. I am not bringing up a silly grudge or “whining about a commenter.”

Do you know who EllenBeth Wachs is? The President of Humanists of Florida, a feminist, and a regular at Ophelia Benson’s blog (though apparently not well-known at Pharyngula) who was called a misogynist chill-girl “bumbling fucknugget who lacks basic decency” because she dared to disagree with a plurality of commenters. She was, per her own report, traumatized and driven to tears by the experience, and said “I can see what happens with merely disagreeing here. It’s too bad.”

The point is that predatory, profane, and hateful personal attacks on people in a “call-out culture” environment are absolutely routine at Pharyngula and similar spaces. This example only stands out because it happened last night and because EBW is so obviously not a misogynist — innumerable others have been accused of such with equally absent justification.

Exactly to the point – it is a crystal-clear example of a group of feminists taking offense at simple disagreement and basically treating someone as a disgusting nonperson for such disagreement.

Here is the thread, or if you interested in what she had to say about it, check her twitter feed:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-1/#comments

143 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 7:02 pm

@doubtthat

So, it’s okay to call me a sexist and then just go off. Mmkay. Fuck you.

144 WootheDestroyer March 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm

AppleStairs, doubtthat left, probably because they didn’t feel like justifying calling me a fucking sexist. Maybe I should call him “cunt” over and over so I can call him one back for not saying its sexist of me to continue when he says he doesnt like it xD.

145 Steersman March 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

@WootheDestroyer (#142):

Exactly to the point – it is a crystal-clear example of a group of feminists taking offense at simple disagreement and basically treating someone as a disgusting nonperson for such disagreement.

Seems like “feminazi” and the like might have some applicability here, no?

146 Edward Gemmer March 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Gemmer, how the fuck is it “silly” to argue about people supporting the actions of some purposely malicious person who got someone fired?

Because it isn’t anything to really argue about. You have your opinion, I have mine, everyone has theirs. People go on and on and on about this inane bullshit.

My guess is that FtB folks, especially those posting at Myers’ site, will think that the ability to quickly and devastatingly demolish bad ideas is important enough to risk causing offense.

No doubt this is their goal, but in effect they just destroy every idea that is new or different. It is a case study in destroying diversity and muffling new and different ideas. Mob behavior at its internet finest, and easy to see why minorities tend to get a raw deal, no matter how you slice up a group, the majority does and feels justified in attacking the minority.

147 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm

A Hermit @ 95: a desperate little comment desperately trying to maintain the notion that women, unlike men, are entirely incapable of hearing something they’d dislike because they’re too emotional.

148 Acathode March 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

@doubtthat:
In regards to the “boy” example, failing to adhere to a black persons wishes for people to stop using “boy” would be very impolite, but it would not be racism. Hurting the feelings of someone is not racism or sexism, even if that person is black and/or a woman.

And yes, I’m aware that dictionaries in general are feared and loathed by many in the FBT/A+ crowd (PZ raging about “dictionary atheists” comes to mind), but personally I find playing Humpty “it means just what I choose it to mean” Dumpty a great deal more stupid than actually making sure that your claims hold up to the common definition of words.

As for your attempt to square your claim with the definition, it fails pretty hard. Ignoring the request of a group* of women is not automatically discrimination. You’re actually having to prove that the reason for ignoring their request is their gender, else your claim of sexism completely fails, as it’s not discrimination based on their gender, and thus fails to meet the definition.

*Let’s be crystal clear here that neither you nor anyone else speak for “women”. At most, you’re speaking for a group of women.

149 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm

@141 Steersman

I wonder whether you have stopped saying, for example, that there is no god to religious people, or stopped publishing or supporting anti-Islamic cartoons

Not reading past that. That was the very point that lead me to introduce the balancing test. Assuming you want a legitimate conversation, see post 15.

150 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm

@137 John Greg

What a meaty reply. I applaud you on your detailed skepticism, breaking down my point so logically.

I am in no way laughing at some putz with two first names who floated on here, copied and pasted the coolest thing he think he’s ever written in the YouTube comment section, and hoped that bluster could replace actual argument.

151 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

@143 Woo

The sexist nature of that comment was obvious. You thought that your gibberish was so impressive that you needed to gloat, so you chose to condescend and insult me with that statement. It’s obvious that’s what you were trying to do.

It was like watching a child get excited at crapping in the toilet for the first time: it’s a step up from using diapers, but it’s mostly on the floor and smeared over the backside. Weird thing to gloat about.

152 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm

In regards to the “boy” example, failing to adhere to a black persons wishes for people to stop using “boy” would be very impolite, but it would not be racism. Hurting the feelings of someone is not racism or sexism, even if that person is black and/or a woman.

I know that you guys are the super-skeptics, so this won’t come a a surprise to you, but if you read carefully, you’ll notice I said this:

You would call that person an asshole, and the complete disregard for the feelings of that black person is perfectly compatible with a charge of racism.

If there was only one black man that objected, you could probably convince me that it was a jerk, not a racist. 20 black men saying the same thing, possibly. 100, 1000, 1,000,000…it gets harder and harder when the numbers grow. It becomes a particular kind of being an asshole, namely a racist one.

And it’s not as though one woman is objecting to the word “cunt.” The more you disregard the opinions of women without a substantial reason, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to that charge.

Women have now told you that they view use of that word as inherently sexist. The women responsible for recruiting new female members to S/A “movement” report that it really harms their cause. Unless you have some solid reason for using sexist language (it’s more than just one word), you should probably stop.

And yes, I’m aware that dictionaries in general are feared and loathed by many in the FBT/A+ crowd (PZ raging about “dictionary atheists” comes to mind), but personally I find playing Humpty “it means just what I choose it to mean” Dumpty a great deal more stupid than actually making sure that your claims hold up to the common definition of words.

1) It’s almost never instructive because,
2) The dullards employing this technique just cherry-pick the definition that suits their point in no way attempting to figure out why it was used.

That’s why it was so trivial to find a definition for sexism that supported my point. It’s an idiot’s game.

153 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm

doubtthat:

“… copied and pasted the coolest thing he think he’s ever written in the YouTube comment section”

I have never in my life posted on, nor even read, YouTube comments; I rarely ever watch YouTube.

“And it’s not as though one woman is objecting to the word “cunt.” The more you disregard the opinions of women without a substantial reason, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to that charge.”

And it’s not as though only one woman is endorsing the use of the word cunt. So, tell us, oh wise saviour of our precious morals, why do you utterly disregard the opinions and statements of the women who say they not only do not mind the word, cunt, but in fact, use it themselves? I mean, the more you disregard the opinions of women without a substantial reason, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to that charge. Right? Right.

154 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm

And it’s not as though only one woman is endorsing the use of the word cunt. So, tell us, oh wise saviour of our precious morals, why do you utterly disregard the opinions and statements of the women who say they not only do not mind the word, cunt, but in fact, use it themselves? I mean, the more you disregard the opinions of women without a substantial reason, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to that charge. Right? Right.

There is nothing that entertains me more than people who are sanctimonious about argumentation, skepticism, or rationality, in general, who make dog-dick dumb arguments.

First, do you think this is the first I’ve heard of this pathetic bit of internet judo for juveniles?

Am I disregarding the opinion of a woman who doesn’t mind the word “cunt” by not saying “cunt?” That’s a weird thing, indeed. Perhaps you could link me to the women who say, “If you don’t call me cunt all the time, I’m leaving the S/A community.”

The issue is that a lot of women are offended. The sexist language is harming the participation of women, and in the 21st century, when women attend college at a higher rate then men and vote with greater frequency, if you think your movement is going to be anything but a hobby, you better figure out how to include women.

So, compare the list of women who avoid the S/A community because of sexist language to those who avoid the S/A community because there isn’t enough.

A johngreg will henceforth be defined as the lacuna between one’s conception of their argumentative capabilities and their actual argumentative capabilities. As in, “Goddamn, that guy’s johngreg was big enough to let the tribe of Israel escape through.”

155 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I have never in my life posted on, nor even read, YouTube comments; I rarely ever watch YouTube.

Woosh…

156 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm

“Am I disregarding the opinion of a woman who doesn’t mind the word “cunt” by not saying “cunt?””

That is not what I meant, and either you are being intentionally thick, or you just are.

My intent is to point out that your insistence on telling everyone how horrible that word is and how we must all stop using it ignores the women who say they do not think it is horrible. For some reason or other, you think that because some women do not like the word, that means we all must cater to their wishes and stop forevermore using the word.

It might, depending on context, be fair to request that people stop using the word with specific individual women who request such. But the blanket rule is just ludicrously Orwellian and ignorant.

“… if you think your movement is going to be anything but a hobby, you better figure out how to include women.”

See, there you go again, utterly ignoring, nay, even dismissing as non-existent all the women who do not mind the dreaded word, and for that matter, all the women who participate in the Pit.

And, for another thing, I am not part of any particular movement; movements give me gas. I do however believe quite strongly in human rights and humanist principles in general; not women’s rights, not men’s rights, but human rights: all people, of all colours, of all genders, self-styled or otherwise.

157 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm

“compare the list of women who avoid the S/A community because of sexist language to those who avoid the S/A community because there isn’t enough.”

False dichotomy. No one, anywhere, at any time, has said that there is a problem in the community because not enough people use the dreaded word. That’s just stupid.

You also, like most FfTB proles, just ignore the fact that a lot of very intelligent people, men and women, all over the world, do not agree that the dreaded word in particular is ipso facto sexist. How conveniently you overlook and ignore context. Context might not be magic, but it’s bloody important.

158 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

“Perhaps you could link me to the women who say, “If you don’t call me cunt all the time, I’m leaving the S/A community.””

Gibberish. Utter complete nonsense.

159 AppleStairs March 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

@doubthat

The issue is that a lot of women are offended. The sexist language is harming the participation of women, and in the 21st century, when women attend college at a higher rate then men and vote with greater frequency, if you think your movement is going to be anything but a hobby, you better figure out how to include women. So, compare the list of women who avoid the S/A community because of sexist language to those who avoid the S/A community because there isn’t enough.

And a lot of women are offended by language policing, call-out culture, stifling versions of feminism that come across as tribal, sexist, and irrational, and by non-acommodationist gnu atheism that mocks and insults religious participation/association.

Nice strawman on “those who avoid the S/A community because there isn’t enough” gendered profanity. Your good will and interest in the truth is noted. So let’s see your lists of which women are alienated by what, so we can compare. Oh – you have no data at all? That’s what I thought. You’ve heard from plenty of women on these threads who think you are full of shit — why are you disregarding and erasing their lived experiences?

160 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:00 pm

My intent is to point out that your insistence on telling everyone how horrible that word is and how we must all stop using it ignores the women who say they do not think it is horrible.

Holy shit, this is such a silly, bizarre point. Some people are actively offended by the word, others don’t care. Unless those others are offended by “not” using the word, they are harmed in no way by its disappearance.

And again, if you would read the comments I have made in proposing that balancing test, I’m perfectly comfortable with you coming out on the side of getting to use the word “cunt,” just understand that you will be judged by it. Just like I expect Christians to continue to not be pleased when I tell them their god doesn’t exist, you should expect that women aren’t suddenly going to rush to your side.

You’re welcome to go off with the women who have no problem with the word (there aren’t nearly as many as you think, and those that don’t have a problem with the word itself, do have a problem with people who use it so glibly), and we can go our way. I have to problem with that, in fact, use of that word lets me know who to avoid.

Recall that this is all happening in the context of “healing” the divides in the community. That’s not going to happen if you hold that position, which is fine with me. You don’t seem to care, either, so go ahead, just understand that I and others will draw our own conclusions based on your decision.

And, for another thing, I am not part of any particular movement; movements give me gas. I do however believe quite strongly in human rights and humanist principles in general; not women’s rights, not men’s rights, but human rights: all people, of all colours, of all genders, self-styled or otherwise.

That comment evinces such a glaring ignorance of history…

Are you honestly arguing that your “rights” are being sacrificed by avoiding using “cunt?” Never have so many fought so hard for something so silly.

161 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm

And a lot of women are offended by language policing, call-out culture, stifling versions of feminism that come across as tribal, sexist, and irrational, and by non-acommodationist gnu atheism that mocks and insults religious participation/association.

A lot of people say that, then when they’re given the opportunity to prove it, as on the thread dedicated to what feminists get wrong about rape prevention Mr. Nugent started, they fail miserably to substantiate that point.

Again, if you would check out the balancing test I proposed in comment 15, you will notice that all of these objections have already been considered. I do not believe that “offense” is the beginning and end of the conversation. It’s an obvious fucking point.

If you have a strong reason for using a statement that causes offense (as we do when religious folks are offended by hearing “God does not exist”) by all means, state it. There just isn’t any good reason to keep using sexist language. What point requires those slurs?

Nice strawman on “those who avoid the S/A community because there isn’t enough” gendered profanity.

Please. That’s the obvious implication of the silly point. Not using cunt affects no one, so I can perfectly well accommodate the positions of the anti-cunt brigade and the folks that don’t care. The only people who could possibly be offended are those who eagerly want the word to be used, of which there are none.

162 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Gibberish. Utter complete nonsense.

That’s the implication of your horseshit idea. Otherwise there just isn’t any conflict.

163 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm

See, there you go again, utterly ignoring, nay, even dismissing as non-existent all the women who do not mind the dreaded word, and for that matter, all the women who participate in the Pit.

I’m fully willing to take that risk. There are women in the Republican Party. I realize they will not come to the side that’s, say, pro-choice. That’s fine. Elections have proven where women stand politically, and it’s not going to breakdown any different in the S/A group. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the views of all participants tend to be more progressive than average.

Again, if you have a good reason for causing offense, by all means, lets hear it. We may disagree on the analysis, and that’s fine, we just become political adversaries, but be honest about it. I don’t want the cunt-mumblers on my side, so just admit you don’t want feminists on yours.

164 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 10:15 pm

“Are you honestly arguing that your “rights” are being sacrificed by avoiding using “cunt?””

No, I am not arguing that.

I am arguiung that people like you who condone and promote language policing (along with special and strict non-inclusive definitions of such phenomena as misogyny, sexism, feminism, et al) are, in essence, an afront and an eventual threat to general human rights.

” Not using cunt affects no one….”

Correct.

But your telling people what words thay can and cannot use affects everyone.

165 John Greg March 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm

“I’m fully willing to take that risk.”

Fine. And I am willing to ignore the handful of theatrically hysterical women who think the word cunt carries some kind of magic harm. I much prefer associating with intelligent, adult women who are not scared stupid by a word.

For fuck’s sake, Ophie has used that word more in the last year than I have in a lifetime.

“… if you have a good reason for causing offense….”

That’s a flawed argument, because it presumes, without any possible variation, that using a certain word does and will always without variation cause offense. Now who’s being silly?

Sure, some people are offended by it. Tough shit. If, in conversation, either face-to-face or online, an individual, specific person asks me to not use some specific word, I will almost always comply with their wishes. If some SJW Internet Hero like you tells me and the world what words I can or cannot use, the only meaningful response is to say, Fuck off.

166 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:38 pm

I am arguiung that people like you who condone and promote language policing (along with special and strict non-inclusive definitions of such phenomena as misogyny, sexism, feminism, et al) are, in essence, an afront and an eventual threat to general human rights.

First, that’s really dumb, second, I’m not trying to stop anyone from saying anything. I’m merely pointing out that you should be willing to accept the obvious consequences.

But your telling people what words thay can and cannot use affects everyone.

Well, in a trivial sense it does “affect” everyone, but if you mean that everyone should have the same attitude…no, I’m fine with disagreement. You’re swinging at windmills and making really silly points.

Fine. And I am willing to ignore the handful of theatrically hysterical women who think the word cunt carries some kind of magic harm. I much prefer associating with intelligent, adult women who are not scared stupid by a word.

And that you think this drastically limits the number and quality of women who will come flocking to your side. You’re a dinosaur. That position is marginal now (the literally ten of women on the slymepit is not all that impressive), but it’s disappearing fast.

For fuck’s sake, Ophie has used that word more in the last year than I have in a lifetime.

See, this reveals the total hollowness of your position. You’re trying to argue that “cunt” isn’t inherently damaging or sexist – it has non-sexist applications. Whether that’s true or not, the malice, the condescending attitude displayed with that statement makes the point moot. You are trying to cause damage.

That’s a flawed argument, because it presumes, without any possible variation, that using a certain word does and will always without variation cause offense. Now who’s being silly?

Well, that’s easy, you, because that’s dumb as fuck. It presumes no such thing. I begin with the fact that offense has been caused. Saying, “there is no god,” is not always offensive, but we’re only concerned with the instances which it is.

Sure, some people are offended by it. Tough shit. If, in conversation, either face-to-face or online, an individual, specific person asks me to not use some specific word, I will almost always comply with their wishes. If some SJW Internet Hero like you tells me and the world what words I can or cannot use, the only meaningful response is to say, Fuck off.

The sound and the fury…

Again, that’s fine, just don’t be surprised when folks don’t want you around.

167 windy March 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Holy shit, this is such a silly, bizarre point. Some people are actively offended by the word, others don’t care. Unless those others are offended by “not” using the word, they are harmed in no way by its disappearance.

Are we to apply this logic to all potentially offensive words?

168 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

@167 windy

Read post 15. Believe, I get the stupid argument you’re angling for. I knew it was coming. You’re now about the 20th person that has thought it was new insight.

There are many circumstances where the importance of the behavior or statement causing offense trumps the person who is offended. You just have to be willing to make the case.

It’s unclear how saying “cunt” over and over achieves anything resembling a legitimate end. You’re welcome to think differently, but you should be willing to accept the consequences, not pretend like everyone else is at fault.

169 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Doubtthat @166

I begin with the fact that offense has been caused. Saying, “there is no god,” is not always offensive, but we’re only concerned with the instances which it is.

Ok. Saying cunt or nigger of faggot isn’t always offensive. And yet your focus is to ignore the times when it isn’t and focus only on the times when it is. So, presumably, because of the harm that saying “there is no god” causes to some people (a subset of the only instances in which the use would matter), you will be just as vociferously condemning all those hateful atheists who dare to say it, right?

Or, to come from the other side, I’ll just argue: saying “there is no god” isn’t always inoffensive, but we’re (see how I morphed my opinion into a vague collective notion so as to give it power it might not otherwise have) only concerned with instances in which it isn’t.

170 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

@169 Justicar

Motherfucker. Are you guys serious? How many times can you make this same stupid point and think it’s compelling.

It’s especially silly coming from you because we had this same discussion on this very blog.

Go read post 15. Yes, I’m only concerned with instances of people claiming offense. If no one is offended, who gives a fuck?

The question is what to do when someone says, “Behavior X/Statement X offends me.” Well, sometimes we say things that offend others, but those things are important.

You just have to be willing and able to make a positive case.

171 Bob March 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm

@99 doubtthat

“If you are an adult and still find the “mirror image” argument persuasive…

Why, oh why, is there no White Entertainment Television?”

All I did was copy and paste an argument that smhll used substituting “woman” for “man”, and “vagina” for “penis”. Smhll’s reasoning was that if one uses the name of a body part to mean terrible person, one is implying “that having [said body part] is terrible.” That argument applies just as validly to male genitalia as it does to female genitalia.

If you think the same could be done with regard to White Entertainment Television, I’d like to see you create a good argument in favor of Black Entertainment Television that can also be used just as well as an argument in favor of White Entertainment Television. I don’t think you can because I don’t think such an argument exists, but I’d like to see you try since you brought it up.

172 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Doubtthat @168 writes

There are many circumstances where the importance of the behavior or statement causing offense trumps the person who is offended. You just have to be willing to make the case.

You don’t seem to be keeping up; the reason this article was written is specifically in response to what I wrote; namely, if one is take option (2), then a consequence of that is the whiniest person/people determine what is acceptable to say. You are arguing for option (2) while attempting to say that when you decide the whiny people can be safely ignored, it’s okay.

And the people objecting to that are objecting to it because it’s on its face unreasonable to let the most sensitive person dictate when others may speak. And you agree while nevertheless arguing for something like (2). The response has been: for the same reasons when you decide you have your own private mandate to ignore some overly-sensitive shitheads whining about hearing something they don’t like because it’s unreasonably stupid, so too is everyone else free to do just that.

And people who respond to cunt or bitch as though these words are imbued with some essence of patriarchal magic hurtee power, they are being quite properly dismissed. For the same you would out of hand dismiss whoever says you aren’t free to say “god doesn’t exist”.

173 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm

“Yes, I’m only concerned with instances of people claiming offense. If no one is offended, who gives a fuck?”

I find it highly offensive to dismiss the feelings of people either (a) feel good saying a word or (b) are indifferent to that word, but are concerned about the tyranny of the whiny. It’s extremely offensive to deny these people’s agency because they aren’t offended.

174 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm

@Justicar

…We literally had this EXACT same discussion on a previous post of Nugent’s. Unreal.

Since we have to do this again:

This sounds to me as though you are saying that either (1) there is something about those statements which is inherently harmful, or (2) to whatever extent that one thinks whether or not the harm perceived is entirely subjective, it remains the case that the subjective feelings of whoever takes greatest exception are the feelings which are privileged to displace everyone else’s subjective feelings.

This is a really, really stupid dichotomy. Obviously 1 is ridiculous, but 2 is equally stupid. Even if the harm is entirely subjective, we are under no obligation to cater to the people who claim offense.

namely, if one is take option (2), then a consequence of that is the whiniest person/people determine what is acceptable to say. You are arguing for option (2) while attempting to say that when you decide the whiny people can be safely ignored, it’s okay.

No, I am not arguing for #2, it’s silly, jaded, and loaded with a moronic fear of a slippery slope that isn’t slippery. The whiniest people do not get to determine what to say. People can claim offense, but then we are in a position to determine whether that offense is worth indulging in.

No, I am not the arbiter. You are welcome to use that balancing test and come out with a different conclusion. Republicans and Democrats will assess a statement very differently, and that’s fine. But it clarifies why you’re ignoring the offense. You have to make the positive case.

And the people objecting to that are objecting to it because it’s on its face unreasonable to let the most sensitive person dictate when others may speak. And you agree while nevertheless arguing for something like (2).

Haha, that’s fucking hilarious. So, I agree that it’s unreasonable, but yet I argue for #2 which would indicate I think the most emotional or whatever should control. That this made sense in your own head is fascinating.

I, in no way, privilege the feelings of the offended. In fact, quite the opposite. I recognize that there are a range of situations where that offense should be accepted as inevitable.

The response has been: for the same reasons when you decide you have your own private mandate to ignore some overly-sensitive shitheads whining about hearing something they don’t like because it’s unreasonably stupid, so too is everyone else free to do just that.

Private mandate? I’m making an argument. When Christians are offended by the statement, “God doesn’t exist,” I point to the importance of challenging religious dogma as the reason their offense will not control my statement. I then need to be prepared to make the positive case.

Why you think that is “private” is beyond me. I offered a test that people can use to input offending statements and evaluate their worth. There is no definite conclusion to any of it, and people can emerge with conflicting conclusions. Nevertheless, it will clarify what we’re arguing about and get us away from this goddamn dumb relativism you find so compelling.

And people who respond to cunt or bitch as though these words are imbued with some essence of patriarchal magic hurtee power, they are being quite properly dismissed. For the same you would out of hand dismiss whoever says you aren’t free to say “god doesn’t exist”.

I delat with this very idiocy in post 15, anticipating that it would be the popular response.

I don’t think you have to agree with my assessment, but to argue as though it doesn’t exist is just bizarre. Do I need to go through all of that again? The difference is that I see little value to calling someone “cunt” and causing them offense while I see great value in continuing to offend Christians by challenging their beliefs.

You’re welcome to disagree, but you need to express what that value happens to be.

175 Acathode March 23, 2013 at 11:10 pm

If there was only one black man that objected, you could probably convince me that it was a jerk, not a racist. 20 black men saying the same thing, possibly. 100, 1000, 1,000,000…it gets harder and harder when the numbers grow. It becomes a particular kind of being an asshole, namely a racist one.

Being impolite and failing to adhere to a group of people’s wishes is neither sexism or racism, even if that group is large and share the same gender or tone of skin.
If 1.000.000.000 black people suddenly declared that saying “Ni” was terribly offensive and hurt their feelings, and that they rather people not do it, saying “Ni!” would still not be racist.
For it to be racist, you need more, you need an argument that shows that it actually fulfill any of the common definitions of racism. “We don’t like this word” does not do that.

And it’s not as though one woman is objecting to the word “cunt.” The more you disregard the opinions of women without a substantial reason, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to that charge.

I thought it was pretty darn clear already? My very substantial reason is that I’ve yet to be convinced that it’s actually sexist.

Women have now told you that they view use of that word as inherently sexist. The women responsible for recruiting new female members to S/A “movement” report that it really harms their cause. Unless you have some solid reason for using sexist language (it’s more than just one word), you should probably stop.

and I disagree with them, I don’t believe the language to be sexist. If I did, I’d stop using it, because contrary to what you likely believe, I do not want to be sexist (nor racist). However, you need an actual argument to convince me that this is the case, “because I say so” is not enough.
Unfortunately, so far any argument I’ve seen attempting to prove the sexist nature of the c-word has been very mediocre, for example smhll’s very lackluster attempt earlier in this very thread.

With that said, I rarely use the “forbidden werdz” anyway, iirc I’ve used the c-word once on the ‘pit, when referring to a few racists I had a discussion with. The reason for my position is not “OMG I NEED TO SHOUT C*** AT PEOPLE!”, but rather “You’ve labeled people as sexist and misogynist based on this language, I do not agree with you”.

As for hurting “the cause”, from my POV the people that has caused the most damage to any A/S cause has been these very same people that you are pointing to. They have been trying to force ideological dogma into the A/S community, and through most of this has acted as the polar opposite of skeptics or freethinkers. Their intolerance and vitriol to anyone trying to apply skepticism to their ideology is IMO likely to have caused far more people to turn away from the A/S community than any amount of bad language might have.
If we then look at exactly the quality of people requited, if their A+ project is anything to go by, we are looking at people who are anti-skeptical, totalitarian and quite toxic, the very opposite kind of people I’d like to see joining the A/S community.

So excuse me for not paying that much attention to any advice they have on how to get more people interested in skepticism.

1) It’s almost never instructive because,
2) The dullards employing this technique just cherry-pick the definition that suits their point in no way attempting to figure out why it was used.

That’s why it was so trivial to find a definition for sexism that supported my point. It’s an idiot’s game.

Except your definition did fail pretty miserably at proving your point. You’ve yet to establish that the disregard to adhere to this group of woman’s wishes actually constitutes discrimination based on their gender.
Again, simply failing to adhere to the personal wishes of a group of women is not discrimination. If these same women had demanded you stand on one leg, rotating counterclockwise while whistling Jumping Jack Flash once every day, failure to do so would not be sexism.
For it to actually be sexism, you need something more. Like a real freaking argument, or being able to prove that the reason their request was dismissed was actually due to their gender.

Also, please spare me the accusation of cherry-picking. I quoted the full definition, not a cherry-picked part of it, and other dictionaries will give you a similar definition. You don’t get to play Humpty Dumpty and simply make up what words mean based on what suits your need for the moment, no more than the theist get to redefine atheism to suit their needs.

176 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

@172 Justicar

I find it highly offensive to dismiss the feelings of people either (a) feel good saying a word or (b) are indifferent to that word, but are concerned about the tyranny of the whiny. It’s extremely offensive to deny these people’s agency because they aren’t offended.

Haha, how am I dismissing it? Read post 15. I’m expressly giving them the opportunity to make their case. If you don’t have a good reason, I will gladly dismiss you position and live with the consequences of being disapproved of by people who make fucking dumb points.

177 Justicar March 23, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Just in case anyone missed it:

This is a really, really stupid dichotomy. Obviously 1 is ridiculous, but 2 is equally stupid. Even if the harm is entirely subjective, we are under no obligation to cater to the people who claim offense.

And

I begin with the fact that offense has been caused. Saying, “there is no god,” is not always offensive, but we’re only concerned with the instances which it is.

Okay. I concede the argument to your superior reasoning skills: we should care about people who take offense while reminding them they have no right to expect not to be offended. Or to demand that people abstain from saying things that makes them all hurtee inside.

178 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Being impolite and failing to adhere to a group of people’s wishes is neither sexism or racism, even if that group is large and share the same gender or tone of skin.

Not necessarily, but we’re not talking about stupid, random examples like:

If 1.000.000.000 black people suddenly declared that saying “Ni” was terribly offensive and hurt their feelings, and that they rather people not do it, saying “Ni!” would still not be racist.

That’s not, of course, what they would be doing with respect to “boy.” There is a long history regarding that word, the same with “cunt.”

But I will admit, if some group of people arbitrarily and randomly decided to become offended over something totally new that was devoid of any historical context, feel free to dismiss that position. Since that’s never happened and never will, it hardly seems worth the concern.

For it to be racist, you need more, you need an argument that shows that it actually fulfill any of the common definitions of racism. “We don’t like this word” does not do that.

Like it’s demeaning and humiliating – devaluation based on race or sex, like the fucking dictionary says.

I thought it was pretty darn clear already? My very substantial reason is that I’ve yet to be convinced that it’s actually sexist.

Like I said, feel free to come up with a different conclusion, just be prepared to accept the consequences. You seem unwilling to do this.

As for hurting “the cause”, from my POV the people that has caused the most damage to any A/S cause has been these very same people that you are pointing to.

Again, we just disagree on this. Time will tell us who is correct, but if you look at the political trends in this country and think history will be kind to your position…well, maybe a Republican presidential campaign will hire you to blow rainbow smoke up their ass.

Except your definition did fail pretty miserably at proving your point. You’ve yet to establish that the disregard to adhere to this group of woman’s wishes actually constitutes discrimination based on their gender.

Devaluation of an opinion based on sex. Yeah, that’s sexism. That’s what happens when you just ignore the concerns of that group. “I don’t think it’s sexism” isn’t really a reason to use the word, but whatever, you know that a substantial group hears that as sexist and you don’t care. Live with the consequences of that and we have no disagreement.

Also, please spare me the accusation of cherry-picking. I quoted the full definition, not a cherry-picked part of it, and other dictionaries will give you a similar definition. You don’t get to play Humpty Dumpty and simply make up what words mean based on what suits your need for the moment, no more than the theist get to redefine atheism to suit their needs.

Please, you selectively read, cherry picked, and basically tried to generate a self-serving definition pretending that it was a totally neutral assessment. Sexism very much entails the devaluation and dismissal of people’s opinions due to their sex. That would fall under this broad definition:

“attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.”

As those views were traditionally marginalized, but it says quite clearly:

“discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex,.”

179 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm

@176 Justicar

The fuck are you talking about?

Acknowledging that someone has taken offense is not the same as allowing them to dictate the conversation.

In order to assess whether we yield to someone’s offense…someone has to be offended.

In cases where no one takes offense, this conversation never occurs. A precondition of deciding what to do when someone is offended, is someone being offended. That does not mean their offense controls the conversation.

You seem to have an odd temporal understanding of this issue. If you consider these issues, you don’t have to do so again. If I’m arguing with a Christian and they say, “I’m offended that you said God doesn’t exist; that the Earth isn’t 6000 years old; that gays should marry,” I don’t stop and run the test, I’ve already done that, I just say, “I don’t care,” and move on.

If they want to have a conversation about that, I can have it, but I’m under no obligation to do so.

we should care about people who take offense while reminding them they have no right to expect not to be offended. Or to demand that people abstain from saying things that makes them all hurtee inside.

If that was meant as sarcasm, I missed the thrust. That’s pretty much exactly my argument. I read you saying “care” as mocking, as though I’m indulging them, but that may be colored by my past interactions with you.

The test merely makes you assess why you’re causing offense.

180 windy March 23, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Read post 15. Believe, I get the stupid argument you’re angling for. I knew it was coming. You’re now about the 20th person that has thought it was new insight.

Calling my argument stupid and being dismissive offends me. What’s the harm in not using terms like ‘stupid’, ‘asshole’, ‘fucking dumb’, or ‘motherfucker’?

181 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm

@19 windy

Ok.

182 doubtthat March 23, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Or to demand that people abstain from saying things that makes them all hurtee inside.

I should add that people should be prepared to live with the consequences of this position, namely that the people whose feelings you have determined are less important that the point you’re making (or slur you’re using) will not think highly of you.

I am perfectly happy to accept this from Christians or others that I argue against.

What you can’t do is continue to ignore their feelings then demand that they just get over it. If you’re perfectly fine stirring up anger within a given set of people, go for it, but accept the fallout without trying to browbeat the target for being offended.

183 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 12:12 am

@doubtthat (#177)

Like it’s demeaning and humiliating – devaluation based on race or sex, like the fucking dictionary says.

What a fucking pile of unmitigated horseshit. Do show from a standard dictionary where either “n*” and “c*” explicitly entail a “devaluation based on race or sex”. The ones I’ve seen explicitly indicate that the terms apply to individuals – not entire classes.

Rather looks to me like an attempt to impose a rather idiosyncratic definition on everyone – rather a fascistic position to be taking if you ask me …

184 windy March 24, 2013 at 12:22 am

@180 OK what? You don’t care if it offends and you don’t even bother to apply your ridiculous test to “make your case”? Great, that was the point.

185 doubtthat March 24, 2013 at 12:22 am

@Steersman

First, if you’ll bother to read the argument, the issue wasn’t a single use of the word, it was the continued dismissal of a group’s desire that you cease using sexist language.

But whatever. You want to explain how the N-word isn’t meant as a slur based on a negative, devalued opinion of African Americans, go ahead. You’ll not find many readers and even fewer compelled by the effort.

The ones I’ve seen explicitly indicate that the terms apply to individuals – not entire classes.

Unless there’s an “s” at the end, of course, but more importantly, you seem to have a really strange idea of how slurs work. When you call someone the N-word, what is the insult?

I’m curious to hear your explanation, because it seems to me that calling someone the N-word is implying they’re a lesser being (however that works out specifically) due to their race. The race is devalued, and you’re a member of it, ergo you’re scum.

186 doubtthat March 24, 2013 at 12:24 am

@183 windy

Yeah, I don’t really care.

187 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 12:34 am

@doubtthat (#149):

@141 Steersman

I wonder whether you have stopped saying, for example, that there is no god to religious people, or stopped publishing or supporting anti-Islamic cartoons

Not reading past that. That was the very point that lead me to introduce the balancing test. Assuming you want a legitimate conversation, see post 15.

Translation from doubtthat-ese: “Nyah, nyah, can’t hear you!*” [*with fingers in ears]

A perfectly justified translation, I think, at least in considering that you’ve been making noisy demands from everyone to provide a “solid reason for using sexist language” while conveniently ignoring demands to justify how those words are sexist, and, of more relevance, ignoring the fact that that post of mine (#141) actually offered at least a reason, the degree of solidity probably being moot.

But much experience with arguing in good faith? Your definition of “legitimate” is “consistent with my current opinions”?

188 Pogsurf March 24, 2013 at 12:43 am

Okay. I concede the argument to your superior reasoning skills: we should care about people who take offense while reminding them they have no right to expect not to be offended. Or to demand that people abstain from saying things that makes them all hurtee inside.

No, wrong. If you offend someone unnecessarily you should acknowledge your mistake and make a decent apology. No imposing new rules or making snydy comments.

This is fairly basic politeness, I’d expect most teenagers would be able to do it. I expect Justicar is just a late developer.

189 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 1:05 am

@Pogsurf (#186):

If you offend someone unnecessarily you should acknowledge your mistake and make a decent apology.

Aye, there’s the rub: who decides “unnecessarily”? If someone – male or female – happens to be particularly “obnoxious” – the core element of various insults, notably “asshole”, “prick”, and (prepare yourself) “cunt” – then I would say there is frequently if not necessarily an urgent necessity to call a spade a shovel and use the appropriate word to describe them.

This is fairly basic politeness, I’d expect most teenagers would be able to do it. I expect Justicar is just a late developer.

You egregious “age-shamer”, you …. I suppose in lieu of providing a cogent argument, notable for its absence?

190 Pogsurf March 24, 2013 at 4:44 am

Steersman, come come, this is still very basic stuff. Person A makes a statement which they either know or don’t know will cause offence. Person B gets offended, and makes it known to Person A that this is the case. Person A looks at what they have said, and makes a judgement as to whether the offence was necessary in order to put across the point they had originally tried to make. Person A needs to be able to introspect, to read their own motives and actions honestly, in the light of the new knowledge that they have gained from being told they have caused offence.

It follows that if Person A does judge the offence caused by their remarks to have been made unnecessarily, they may then attempt to apologise for the hurt so caused. Person B is then in the position, if they choose, to make a judgement call as whether the apology is sufficient.

Sure there are times when a good insult is the right thing to do. I am quite a bigot in one respect though, because I was brought up to never refer to a lady as “a cunt”. I’m immovable on the subject. In the light of this I think the person in question here is in dire need of guidance about how to make an apology. Perhaps he is one of those sad souls who has never had to make one before.

Gosh, no, I never make cogent arguments for anything. Makes you too much of a target for logicians and oiks alike.

191 Acathode March 24, 2013 at 6:08 am

That’s not, of course, what they would be doing with respect to “boy.” There is a long history regarding that word, the same with “cunt.”

Then you bring up this history, because that’s clearly why the term would be considered racist/sexist, what someone happen to feel or be offended by is not relevant.

devaluation based on race or sex, like the fucking dictionary says.

Exactly. Now we are getting somewhere. The bolded part is what you “fucking” need to prove. Not that some people have hurt feelings. So far, you’ve presented precious little to prove your case.

Like I said, feel free to come up with a different conclusion, just be prepared to accept the consequences. You seem unwilling to do this.

This of course goes both ways, if you want to keep throwing accusations of misogyny etc around flippantly, you should also be prepared to deal with the consequences and fallout for your behavior when people feel that they have wrongfully been accused of being misogynist, racists, and whatnot.

Again, we just disagree on this. Time will tell us who is correct, but if you look at the political trends in this country and think history will be kind to your position…well, maybe a Republican presidential campaign will hire you to blow rainbow smoke up their ass.

You seem to think that this is about the left vs the right. It’s not. This is about skeptics not being skeptics, hypocrisy, and people engaging in sectarian behavior.
I know that among certain people, demonizing the pit as a right-wing haven is popular, but if you’d come there and asked around a bit, you’d find that many, if not most, lean to the left. Myself included.

Devaluation of an opinion based on sex. Yeah, that’s sexism.

Yes, it would indeed be sexism to devalue someone’s opinion based on their gender.
However, you’ve yet to show that the devaluation was based on the gender of the members of the group making it. Hence, you’ve yet to demonstrate that this is sexist.

Is this really so hard to understand? Did you completely fail to understand the Jumping Jack Flash analogy?

If the reasons to dismiss, or devalue a group of womens opinion is not based on their gender, but something else, as for example in the hypothetical Jack Flash example, that their opinion was silly, it is not sexism.

That’s what happens when you just ignore the concerns of that group. “I don’t think it’s sexism” isn’t really a reason to use the word, but whatever, you know that a substantial group hears that as sexist and you don’t care. Live with the consequences of that and we have no disagreement.

Again, this goes both ways. You keep flippantly accusing people of misogyny and sexism only if you can live with the consequences.

Please, you selectively read, cherry picked, and basically tried to generate a self-serving definition pretending that it was a totally neutral assessment. Sexism very much entails the devaluation and dismissal of people’s opinions due to their sex. That would fall under this broad definition:

“attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.”

As those views were traditionally marginalized, but it says quite clearly:

“discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex,.”

Yes indeed devaluation of someone’s opinion based on their gender would be sexism… which the definition I copy-pasted earlier also would include, since it would be a quite fine example of discrimination based on someone’s gender. So exactly how is it cherry-picked?
If I actually had cherry-picked a definition, and not simply copy-pasted the first damn goggle-result I clicked on, I’d hardly sit here and willingly agree that yes indeed your copy-pasted definition of sexism seems completely legit, would I? Instead, I’d be doing something silly, like trying to argue that your definition wasn’t correct, or something like that.

I’m not doing that though, what I’m doing is pointing out that you’ve yet to meet the criteria of even your own definition. We constantly devalue people’s opinions, and even groups of people’s opinions, the crucial point that would transform this into sexism, is if we did it based on their gender. You’ve yet to prove that.

192 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 7:04 am

@Pogsurf (#190 (2)):

Sure there are times when a good insult is the right thing to do. I am quite a bigot in one respect though, because I was brought up to never refer to a lady as “a cunt”.

Apart from the fact that a great many people have been “brought up” to believe things “that ain’t so”, that might still be the case, although one might reasonably argue in response that not all women are ladies all of the time. And as a matter of fact my impression is that, depending on the circumstances, more than a few would be insulted to be labeled as such – rather patronizing in a way – for example, Ophelia Benson (1).

But I’m glad you concede that “there are times when a good insult is the right thing to do”. In which case I’m sure you’ll have no difficulty in explaining the exact circumstances that prevailed in your “Person A & Person B” scenario as they likely have some bearing on deciding whether any given insult is “the right thing to do” or not; whether the hypothetical insults “have been made unnecessarily” or not; even whether or not an insult has even been made. And therefore whether any apologies should be forthcoming and from whom.

Gosh, no, I never make cogent arguments for anything. Makes you too much of a target for logicians and oiks alike.

Rather a surprising statement from someone who apparently makes some claim to being a skeptic and being guided by rules of evidence and critical thinking.

—–
1) “_http://choiceindying.com/2012/02/02/lets-keep-on-topic-for-a-moment-longer-islam-is-a-danger-and-we-need-to-cut-the-nerve-that-makes-it-so/#comment-10190”;
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-206089”;

193 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 7:43 am

Aaaaannnnd Doubtthat did it! Dehumanizing an individual without even batting an eyelid:

“A johngreg will henceforth be defined as the lacuna between one’s conception of their argumentative capabilities and their actual argumentative capabilities. As in, “Goddamn, that guy’s johngreg was big enough to let the tribe of Israel escape through.””

Beautiful! I think the Nazis did the same with the Jews in the 1930’s (and that’s one Godwin point for me).

194 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 8:37 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD said (#193):

Aaaaannnnd Doubtthat did it! Dehumanizing an individual without even batting an eyelid:

Can’t say that I can entirely agree with that, Phil. Is naming a chocolate bar after a sports player – Babe Ruth – “dehumanizing” him? How about awards named after a person, say Nobel? While those are obviously positive attributes, I don’t see there is any more dehumanization that happens with supposedly negative ones.

Beautiful! I think the Nazis did the same with the Jews in the 1930′s (and that’s one Godwin point for me).

That is, I think, a reasonable example of the dehumanization of an entire race – of racism – but something quite a bit different from the dehumanization of an individual. But a well earned and well deserved “Godwin point” [ :-) ], although I personally don’t have much of a problem with the use of such analogies – at least in principle. What I object to is if the analogies don’t “work”, if supposedly similar qualities aren’t. For instance, the classic analogy (1) “hand is to palm as foot is to sole” works, but “hand is to palm as foot is to toe” doesn’t.

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;

195 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

Steers #194

Point well taken (not the Godwin one, the actual point of your comment). I was just being a tad annoying, in what I thought was a humorous way.

Doubtthat: my apologies, I was being unfair (for the sake of comedy, but still unfair).

196 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

@doubtthat (#185):

@Steersman

First, if you’ll bother to read the argument, the issue wasn’t a single use of the word, it was the continued dismissal of a group’s desire that you cease using sexist language.

“You keep using that word [sexist]; I do not think it means what you think it means”.
But in any case, as a point of reference, would not ceasing that use be tantamount to conceding that the word is “sexist language”? Since you’ve offered absolutely diddly-squat in the way of a case that the words qualify as such, much less actually proven it, I would say that expectation or demand is rather premature at the very least if not decidedly arrogant.

But whatever. You want to explain how the N-word isn’t meant as a slur based on a negative, devalued opinion of African Americans, go ahead. You’ll not find many readers and even fewer compelled by the effort.

Seems to me that it is you who is hearing that “devalued opinion of African Americans” when the statement – “you are a stupid n*” – and the definition (1) quite clearly indicates that the word is “a disparaging term for a Black person”, i.e., a single individual. If you want to extend that to all Black people then one might reasonably argue that that is your problem for which you can’t reasonably blame those who use the word correctly, or at least in a non-racist fashion. But you seem to think that “slur” automatically somehow, maybe with a little prestidigitation, transfers that “disparaging” from the individual to the group. Which is not at all supported by the definition of the word (2).

Unless there’s an “s” at the end, of course, but more importantly, you seem to have a really strange idea of how slurs work. When you call someone the N-word, what is the insult?

And, as mentioned, your idea of slurs seem even stranger and not at all supported by any definition I’ve been able to find. As for what the insult is with the “N-word”, I would say that it is to reduce the targeted individual to their skin colour only – in exactly the same way that the “c-word”, the “p-word”, the “a-word”, and the “f-word” reduces, respectively, women, men, people, and male homosexuals to, respectively, their genitalia (c & p), anatomical feature (a), and sexual predilections (f). But that most emphatically does not justify concluding that those insults reduce all members of those classes to those single elements in what are probably a large set of other elements that probably constitute their personas. And unless other individuals happen to define themselves only by those elements, those very narrow and restrictive subsets, then I fail to understand how they can justifiably be upset or offended on hearing those insults.

I’m curious to hear your explanation, because it seems to me that calling someone the N-word is implying they’re a lesser being (however that works out specifically) due to their race. The race is devalued, and you’re a member of it, ergo you’re scum.

Explanation as above. But it seems to me that “due to their race” might work if the dictionary definition was, for example, “a disparaging term for all Black persons”. But that is most emphatically not the case. Again, I think it is a case of reducing a single individual to single features of our identities, of saying that they are no more than some supposedly odious aspects of those features, without that in any way justifying the inference that one is asserting that all individuals are being so reduced.

—–
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/nigger”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/slur”;

197 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

Steers:

““You keep using that word [sexist]; I do not think it means what you think it means”.”

Have you finally gotten around to watching “The Princess bride”?

😀

198 Pogsurf March 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

“brought up” to believe things “that ain’t so”

Your plain wrong here Steersman. I was brought up to behave in a certain way. What I chose to believe was left largely to me.

I see that you managed to call Ophelia a lady in a rather patronising way, she rebuked you, and from that you have generalised that I too would be rebuked if I dared to call her a lady. Your logic here is so faulty it defies belief.

I am so confident you are wrong, that I am willing to stick my neck out here and now, and then we can all judge how hard and fast she slaps me down.

I think Ophelia Benson is a brave, kind and courageous lady who has had to endure an intolerable amount of abuse from a cabal of juvenile trouble-makers. I admire the way she has spoken out, and I wish her the best for the future.

There, I have done my best to make it as sexist and patronising as possible, let’s see how long it is before she demands my gonads on a plate.

In which case I’m sure you’ll have no difficulty in explaining the exact circumstances that prevailed in your “Person A & Person B” scenario…

None. It was a theoretical example, you have to fill in the blank bits yourself.

Rather a surprising statement from someone who apparently makes some claim to being a skeptic and being guided by rules of evidence and critical thinking.

Rather a surprising statement from someone who has precisely zero evidence to back it up.

199 Edward Gemmer March 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Some samples from Pharyngula’s thread on DongleGate:

“Your claim is irrelevant. Your OPINION is irrelevant. Your “evidence” is non-sequiturs. You have nothing to say other than WAAAHHHHHHH.”

“Give me an honest answer, you poo loving goose.”

“Fuck you, you privileged ignorant blinkered pissant.”

“shorter frothing: ‘Wait, there’s a rule saying a woman’s word should be taken seriously? With consequences? The magic words ‘Bitchez lie’ might not save my ass anymore? NOOOOOOO! BitchezliebitchezliebitchezliebitchezlieWHY ISN’T IT WORKING bitchezliebitchezliebitchezlie!’”

“Fuck you pathetic, cowardly assholes.”

“Dear men:

Die”

What I don’t understand is – who cares about the c-word? The entire purpose of Pharyngula is apparently to insult people, so arguing about proper insults seems like robbers arguing over using a knife or a gun.

200 windy March 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

@186
Well, asshole, what was the point of introducing your fucking dumb ‘balancing test’, if you are not willing to apply it consistently, you stupid fucking motherfucker?

(this comment containing doubtthat-approved insults only)

The question is what to do when someone says, “Behavior X/Statement X offends me.”

Apparently we say “Yeah, I don’t really care.”

201 A Hermit March 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Justicar March 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm

<blockquote<A Hermit @ 95: a desperate little comment desperately trying to maintain the notion that women, unlike men, are entirely incapable of hearing something they’d dislike because they’re too emotional.

No one is making that argument, except you and your slymepit friends when looking for strawmen to burn.

You’re the one insisting that women are onlt offended because they are too emotional instead of considering the possibility that hey may have good reasons for being offended by certain language.

If we’re serious about having a constructive dialogue we need to acknowledge and value other people’s feelings and emotions instead of dismissing and mocking them.

Is a Jew who objects to being called “Kike” just being too emotional?

What other epithets would you have us make regular use of Justicar? What should we make of someone who uses words like kike, nigger, wetback, slope, slant-eyes, gook, or raghead to “criticize” individuals who belong to the ethnic/racial demographics associated with those slurs? Would it be unreasonable of us to think that such a person might be a little but racist? WOuld you advise that we make regular use of that language? Or might it relfect badly on us if we do?

Now add “cunt” and “bitch” to that list…

These words are frequently being used in our community, not to advance an idea, but to provoke reaction, to bully and demean and dismiss people. The use of such language has clearly become an obstacle to dialogue and I would expect anyone who is serious about resolving differences to stop using that tactic simply as a practical matter.

If your commitment to using gendered slurs is greater than your commitment to communicating then you’re just not going to be listened to.

202 Justicar March 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

A Hermit @ 201:

Someone might well have a reason to be offended; however, it’s an emotional response. By definition to concede offense taken is to concede an emotional reaction thus giving rise to that very concession on your part in the following paragraph.

People take offense at language for all kinds of emotionally charged reasons. We’ve already established here that there exist circumstances in which, I think, everyone here accepts it’s perfectly legitimate to dismiss those emotional sensitivities someone happens to have. Since the beginning of elevatorgate, approximately 100,000,000 people have died.

About 60,000 just since I commented here last night.

But never mind that stuff: a middle class hypersensitive feminist might have to contend with hearing a-not-for-certain offensive word here and there. Let’s make sure we do all we can to comfort them.

203 Eu March 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Oh please, there’s no “women are only offended cos emotional” here… not with me anyway. I’m sure if the men could claim offense without looking a bit strange (and they still get emotional about it, you don’t have to be the one able to take offense to do that) they would do it.

My take… seen men there called the names too, so it frustrates me when there’s a discussion about just women being called it. What’s this imply? Make sure you don’t call their women that? Less priority on their men being called that? Seems unfair to me.

Why, just recently, Laden was called a cunt. No irony intended either. It counts. Or was it Laden… damn don’t quote me, but I think it was Laden, but I can’t remember what he did that it was in response to so I’m wondering if that was a past conversation. Whatever.

204 Michael Nugent March 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Eu, I have combined your last four comments into one. Can you please compose your thoughts into one comment at a time, rather than posting a sequence of short comments one after another?

205 windy March 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Steersman:

Again, I think it is a case of reducing a single individual to single features of our identities, of saying that they are no more than some supposedly odious aspects of those features, without that in any way justifying the inference that one is asserting that all individuals are being so reduced.

Actually, I would agree that the n-word also carries that connotation about devaluing other members of the race, much more so than gendered slurs do about all people of that gender.

However, I work with people who use the word jokingly among themselves, and if they created an internet forum where they continued this tradition I wouldn’t want some self-appointed language inspectors to rake them over the coals for it, however well-intended those inspectors may be.

206 Michael Nugent March 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Justicar, I will reply later to your video, but I want to address here one important point that you made.

You asked whether I believe that the Slymepit members are bad people. No I don’t, and I have already said that a couple of weeks ago. I don’t believe in labeling people as bad people. I don’t think it is either accurate or helpful.

One of the reasons these problems are escalating is because some people on each ‘side’ see people on the other ‘side’ as ‘bad people’, and that belief helps them to justify to themselves behaving hurtfully towards the ‘bad people’.

207 Pogsurf March 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Just to summarise my contributions here.

At #72 I argued that Justicar was acting in bad faith in this comment thread. Despite a long comment at #73 he said nothing to try to refute this.

At #93 I implied that he was an onanist with a fetish for making hurtful comments. He made no attempt to refute this.

At #188 I established that Justicar does not know how to make an apology.

I had some interactions with Steersman, but I don’t expect they were of any great consequence.

Justicar has had ample chance to respond to my above points, but is either unwilling or unable to reply.

It just remains for me to thank Michael for hosting this fascinating discussion, and to say I believe my work here now is done.

208 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm

“At #72 I argued that Justicar was acting in bad faith”

Conversation stopper. Are you a psychic?

209 Jack March 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Phil, I think the conversation stopped some time ago, when some people just came here to score cheap points.

There has to be a mutual understanding of good faith or nothing will progress. Hopefully we will all get back to that sooner or later.

Focusing on relative morality issues is a dead end. That was said three weeks ago. It is self evident that allowing a community to be dictated by the easiest to take offence, manufactured or otherwise, is clearly a terrible idea. Appeals to emotion is not a valid argument to reveal truth.

But it is the only way some can control the narrative as rationalism fails when examining their claims. There is no way they will release that power. They will continue to abuse it by telling people what they can and can’t say while making wild and unsupported claims to support their tenuous arguments.

Personally I prefer looking at the facts of the dispute and examine their claims.

210 Eu March 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Jack, on top of that, they have turned valyd complaints of abuse and roughness into “tone policing.” So not only are they using emotion… they’re giving a midle finger to others when they have valyd reasons to say ‘whoa, get off me with that stuff’ or even ‘can I have an apologyy?’ Turning that into tone policing can be easily used on school bullying, parent-child (or child-parent.. as I’ve seen) abuse, and relationship abuse. “Daddy’s so mean! He makes me cry!” “Shut the fuck up, you tone troll.”

211 A Hermit March 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Justicar March 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm

But never mind that stuff: a middle class hypersensitive feminist might have to contend with hearing a-not-for-certain offensive word here and there.

Except that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it? I know you’d like to pretend that’s all it is, but you have to ignore the fact those same women are receiving a daily torrent of deliberate verbal abuse in the form of e-mails, tweets and unsolicited blog comments. If they appear to be hyper-sensitive it’s because their nerves have been rubbed raw by a continuing campaign of harassment. Ignoring that fact is either sloppy thinking or outright dishonesty. I’ll be charitable and assume the former in your case…

212 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm

“I know you’d like to pretend that’s all it is, but you have to ignore the fact those same women are receiving a daily torrent of deliberate verbal abuse in the form of e-mails, tweets and unsolicited blog comments”

Citations dearly needed.

213 tina March 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Michael: Re your OP question.

The werdz debate is a red herring. I doubt anyone is srsly bothered about werdz. They’re used so mind-numbingly frequently that, imo, they’ve lost most of any power they ever had to shock or hurt. They’re still used to poke and provoke in this ideological warfare, in which the web serves to insulate the user from negative real life consequences, unless personal reputations or livelihoods of identified persons are concerned. Ophelia is quite correct on that score.

IRL I expect few from either side use them at all, or only very very rarely, in face to face interaction with other people; Could be wrong about that, but I doubt it. In ideological warfare werdz get used for the usual time tested propoganda and other obvious purposes. All tedious.

Anyway, unless you proceed with the process somehow incorporating a strict format that calls foul on certain sets of words offered up by either side as, well, foul, then it’s difficult.

It’s difficult for a number of reasons such as:

a) neither side is a monolith.

b) individuals may have vested interest in retaining language deemed objectionable by ‘the other side’ for both personal or ideological reasons i.e. the accusation of someone being classed as sexist or misogynistic may be seen as a foundational or unavoidable to the pov being expressed.

c) some folk are actually addicted to this conflict.

d) the usual trolls *sigh*

Just a few thoughts of an evening. I’m sure your post tomorrow will have all that sorted Michael 😉

As you were, frabjous bandysnoods.

214 John Greg March 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm

A Hermit said:

“you have to ignore the fact those same women are receiving a daily torrent of deliberate verbal abuse in the form of e-mails, tweets and unsolicited blog comments.”

So, in effect, with your loose and overly generalistic smear, you are implying:

1. Twitter and blogs are not public spaces.
2. Disagreement is abuse
3. Disagreement is harrassment.
4. Disagreement is a campaign of harrassment.
5. All disagreement they receive originates from the Pit.

I am quite certain that some commenters who comment in blogs or on Twitter are vile, and perhaps even verbally abusive — though that is in itself a pretty darned tenuous claim — but what you are effectively trying to imply is that anything you, or the recipients, receive, that they do not like, is therefore, ipso facto, abusive and harrassing. And that’s just horse balls.

You, like most of the FfTB / Skepchick / A+ universes are far, far too comfortable with avoiding and disavowing any and all responsibility for your own actions. The Pit began as a response to some quite questionable behaviour by R. Watson, and it continues as a response to the ongoing, mind numbing hypocrisy of the FfTB / Skepchick / A+ universes.

The Pit is not a movement; the Pit is not an ideological group; the Pit is not a unified network of same-thinking individuals.

The Pit is a group of disparate individuals with a wide range of often conflicting opinions.

As to the reactions from folks like Ophie, Watson, Myers et al, if they appear to be hyper-sensitive it’s because their remarkable, blatant, and obvious hypocrisy moves them to cry foul whenever any of their own tactics / verbal hostilities are applied back at them. And indeed their nerves have been rubbed raw by a continuing campaign of exposing their hypocrisy to the world. Ignoring that fact is either sloppy thinking or outright dishonesty. I’ll be uncharitable, and assume the latter in your, and their, case.

215 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm

A Hermit said (#210):

I know you’d like to pretend that’s all it is, but you have to ignore the fact those same women are receiving a daily torrent of deliberate verbal abuse in the form of e-mails, tweets and unsolicited blog comments.

And absolutely all of that can be laid at the doorstep of the Slymepit? Rather disingenuous if not actually intellectually dishonest to even suggest it – even more so in the complete absence of evidence. Or maybe you have reams of that?

216 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Pogsurf said (#207):

At #188 I established that Justicar does not know how to make an apology.

Horse crap. The only thing that you’ve established is that you’re unable to make any case that he has anything to apologize for. And that you have a penchant for baseless and juvenile innuendo ….

It just remains for me to thank Michael for hosting this fascinating discussion, and to say I believe my work here now is done.

“Hi ho Silver!” “Who was that masked man, Daddy?”

217 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Steersman, you seem to be getting angry, or at least irate… I must admit it’s a weird sight when it happens.

218 Edward Gemmer March 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I know you’d like to pretend that’s all it is, but you have to ignore the fact those same women are receiving a daily torrent of deliberate verbal abuse in the form of e-mails, tweets and unsolicited blog comments. If they appear to be hyper-sensitive it’s because their nerves have been rubbed raw by a continuing campaign of harassment.

The thing is, I’d like to defend these women from the torrent of abuse they receive. However, since some of them simply turn the abuse nozzle back towards people like myself, it becomes hard to do. This is what I don’t understand – we can nearly all agree that verbal abuse is not acceptable in most circumstances. why do we then allow so much of it to occur?

219 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Anyway, do you think this was an ok poem or what? I have no other way to give it so here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/131974280/DongleGate-Poem?secret_password=1rirysw5m20ffm2r9tae

220 WootheReaper March 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Go easy on me

221 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Windy said (#205):

Steersman:

Again, I think it is a case of reducing a single individual to single features of our identities, of saying that they are no more than some supposedly odious aspects of those features, without that in any way justifying the inference that one is asserting that all individuals are being so reduced.

Actually, I would agree that the n-word also carries that connotation about devaluing other members of the race, much more so than gendered slurs do about all people of that gender.

But you apparently then agree with the other part of my analogy that “cunt”, while certainly rude and crude, and manifestly reducing those individuals targeted to “single features of our identities”, is not intrinsically “devaluing other members” of the sex? As mentioned in my previous discussions on analogies (1), the paradigmatic case being “hand is to palm as foot is to sole”, if the similar analogy of “the word cunt directed at a single woman” is to “the perception by large numbers of women to that insult” as “the n-word directed at a single black person” is to “the perception by large numbers of black people” holds any water then it seems one must either concede that “cunt” is always sexist, or that “the n-word” is not always racist.

And likewise with words such as “prick” and “asshole”, the latter of which I note with some amusement was used about 100 times in PZ Myers recent article (3) and set of comments. If “they” insist on using that word then I figure that absolutely none of those who happen to fly that FfTB flag have a goddamn leg to stand on if similar insults come flying back over the parapets at them: sauce for the goose, tit-for-tat, and all that. But somewhat apropos if not actually amusingly ironic for a number of reasons, Crommunist recently made this quite reasonable and credible observation (2):

Analogy is an excellent method of exposing inconsistencies in logic, which is an important component of refuting bad arguments.

And I think your example of those – apparently blacks – who “use the word jokingly among themselves” more or less proves the argument that perception is very much context dependent, that it is very largely subjective – virtually by definition, that there is nothing intrinsic to either of those words or related ones – something which is strongly suggested by the dictionary definitions – that justifies inferring much less concluding that the “disparagement” is being applied to entire classes.

However, I will concede that that conclusion isn’t quite as clear with the n-word as it is with the c-word. But that is, I think, largely because the frequency of occurrence and the relative sizes of the populations concerned: to throw out a heavy-duty allusion to a topic that I don’t have a particularly good handle on, information theory (4) says that the amount of information present in a phrase is inversely proportional to the frequency of its occurrence – why “prick” is so much less shocking than “cunt”. Which I think sort of justifies the use of analogies in an effort to understand “what is happening underneath the hood”, how our minds really work in processing that type of information. And speaking of which and in passing, I will, among many others, highly recommend Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works for some illuminating and fascinating discussions of those processes; it may even have some relevance to these discussions ….

——-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/13/philosophy-dudebros-grassroots-dont-mix/#comment-144872”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(information_theory)#Entropy_as_information_content”;

222 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Edward Gemmer said (#216):

The thing is, I’d like to defend these women from the torrent of abuse they receive. However, since some of them simply turn the abuse nozzle back towards people like myself, it becomes hard to do.

Yes, I quite agree. Although I wonder how many insults of that nature you’ve received from, for examples, Watson, Christina, Benson, and Zvan. No doubt many of their commentariats – particularly Myers’ – are guilty of that, but they themselves? While they might reasonably have to carry some of the freight of guilt for that rather deplorable situation – Watson in particular as she used “asshole” several times (I think) in her “Reddit makes me hate atheists” post, I think it an error in judgement to lay it all at their doorsteps – Myers might be a notable exception.

However, in passing and as a bit of a suggestion, I think that “community standards” in commenting here – at least – is to reserve bolding for small items or phrases to be emphasized while using italics (“i”) or “blockquote” for quoting others ….

223 Steersman March 24, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Windy said (#205):

[Repost because of previous in moderation]

Steersman:

Again, I think it is a case of reducing a single individual to single features of our identities, of saying that they are no more than some supposedly odious aspects of those features, without that in any way justifying the inference that one is asserting that all individuals are being so reduced.

Actually, I would agree that the n-word also carries that connotation about devaluing other members of the race, much more so than gendered slurs do about all people of that gender.

But you apparently then agree with the other part of my analogy that “c***”, while certainly rude and crude, and manifestly reducing those individuals targeted to “single features of our identities”, is not intrinsically “devaluing other members” of the sex? As mentioned in my previous discussions on analogies (1), the paradigmatic case being “hand is to palm as foot is to sole”, if the similar analogy of “the word c*** directed at a single woman” is to “the perception by large numbers of women to that insult” as “the n-word directed at a single black person” is to “the perception by large numbers of black people” holds any water then it seems one must either concede that “c***” is always sexist, or that “the n-word” is not always racist.

And likewise with words such as “pr***” and “ass****”, the latter of which I note with some amusement was used more than 100 times in PZ Myers recent article (3) and set of comments. If “they” insist on using that word then I figure that absolutely none of those who happen to fly that FfTB flag have a goddamn leg to stand on if similar insults come flying back over the parapets at them: sauce for the goose, tit-for-tat, and all that. But somewhat apropos if not actually amusingly ironic for a number of reasons, Crommunist recently made this quite reasonable and credible observation (2):

Analogy is an excellent method of exposing inconsistencies in logic, which is an important component of refuting bad arguments.

And I think your example of those – apparently blacks – who “use the word jokingly among themselves” more or less proves the argument that perception is very much context dependent, that it is very largely subjective – virtually by definition, that there is nothing intrinsic to either of those words or related ones – something which is strongly suggested by the dictionary definitions – that justifies inferring much less concluding that the “disparagement” is being applied to entire classes.

However, I will concede that that conclusion isn’t quite as clear with the n-word as it is with the c-word. But that is, I think, largely because the frequency of occurrence and the relative sizes of the populations concerned: to throw out a heavy-duty allusion to a topic that I don’t have a particularly good handle on, information theory (4) says that the amount of information present in a phrase is inversely proportional to the frequency of its occurrence – why “pr***” is so much less shocking than “c***”. Which I think sort of justifies the use of analogies in an effort to understand “what is happening underneath the hood”, how our minds really work in processing that type of information. And speaking of which and in passing, I will, among many others, highly recommend Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works for some illuminating and fascinating discussions of those processes; it may even have some relevance to these discussions ….

——-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/13/philosophy-dudebros-grassroots-dont-mix/#comment-144872”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(information_theory)#Entropy_as_information_content”;

224 windy March 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm

However, I will concede that that conclusion isn’t quite as clear with the n-word as it is with the c-word. But that is, I think, largely because the frequency of occurrence and the relative sizes of the populations concerned

Yes, and as I pointed out in another thread, the frequent ironic use of gendered slurs probably plays a role in desensitizing people to them. If the insults are really equivalent in power, why are ironic references to gendered slurs (like “bitchez ain’t shit”) so much more common than the racial equivalents?

225 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 12:22 am

Windy said (#224):

Yes, and as I pointed out in another thread, the frequent ironic use of gendered slurs probably plays a role in desensitizing people to them. If the insults are really equivalent in power, why are ironic references to gendered slurs (like “bitchez ain’t shit”) so much more common than the racial equivalents?

Sorry; probably missed that one for some reason …. Although it is probably a moot point whether that “desensitizing of people” is a good thing or not: wearing sunscreen is good while turning a deaf ear is bad. But a good question – not quite sure what the answer might be; as I’ve said, a lot happens “underneath the hood” that we really only have the barest comprehension of.

However, I think that your example – “bitchez ain’t shit” – could quite easily be construed as flagrantly sexist – and misogynistic – because it is, I think, quite explicitly characterizing an entire group by the supposed attributes of a small segment of it, i.e., stereotyping. Although I suppose it is also moot, and of some relevance, whether “bitchez” is referring to all women or to some small segment of the entire population of them. However I think the definition (1) of “sexism” is illustrative and indicative of that process in many similar cases:

sex•ism (skszm)
n.
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

Somewhat apropos, you might be interested in the Wikipedia article on stereotypes (2) and the fact that there is frequently some truth to them, at least in the sense that they apply to or are true of some segment of the population. The problems occur when people start judging entire groups on the attributes of small segments of it.

Part of the reason why I’m kind of peeved at Ophelia Benson’s hatchet-job (3) of Michael Shermer over his “[atheist activism], it’s more of a guy thing”, and her characterization of that statement of his as “sexist” – along with the implication that he was likewise; I certainly don’t see any discrimination in it nor do I see any “promoting of a stereotype”. Which is, I think, indicative of a serious problem or bone of contention in these “rifts” – the tendency to make wild and unsupported accusations.

However, as to your question as to why it is “more common”, I would think that it might have to do, in part, with population sizes: 14% (approx) for Blacks versus 50% for females. And the fact that social roles are changing which tends to produce “push-back” of one sort or another (“for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – not just in physics) – some manifestations of it more justified than others. Takes some effort to discern the difference – although I think there is some necessity for it as well.

—–
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexist”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes”;
3) “_http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=benson_33_1″;

226 Justicar March 25, 2013 at 12:31 am

A Hermit @ 211 quote my saying

But never mind that stuff: a middle class hypersensitive feminist might have to contend with hearing a-not-for-certain offensive word here and there.

before him/herself saying

Except that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it?

Well, I’m not sure what conversation you’re having, but it is indeed what is being discussed. I know it might be hard to figure out, for that would require one read Michael’s article and the quotes of mine he’s included therein.

227 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 12:44 am

Justicar! 😀 Did you see mi site?

228 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

Steersman… why you no read it? ;-;

229 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 12:59 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD said (#197):

Steers:

““You keep using that word [sexist]; I do not think it means what you think it means”.”

Have you finally gotten around to watching “The Princess bride”? :-)

:-) I’d watched it several times long before we’d had our conversation on that trope; just that I hadn’t remembered that particular phrase until then.

But quite a useful concept that seems to have quite a bit of relevance; curious that so many here have been asked to provide and defend the definition of that term – and “misogyny” – that they were using, and all I’ve heard in response has been “crickets”. Cases in point being an accusation from “Giliell” and “Eristae” on Crommunist’s blog that I “succeed at misogyny” (1), and that I was being “subtextually sexist” (2) [“Oh the horror!”]. An interesting statement relative to the first case from Giliell (#125):

Steersman

To prove or demonstrate that I was doing misogyny you would have had to show how what I had said was actively hating women – in the plural (2). Perchance I missed that analysis of yours?

Your dictionary, it’s out of date.

Don’t think so, lady (3). But no effort to quote from any dictionaries nor even a link to them. This passes for “skepticism” and “critical thinking”? Heaven help us if it is. It is only with a great amount of forbearance – and due consideration, more or less, for Michael’s objectives here – that I don’t let loose with a gendered insult or two ….

—–
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/13/philosophy-dudebros-grassroots-dont-mix/#comment-145735”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/13/philosophy-dudebros-grassroots-dont-mix/#comment-147332”;
3) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/misogyny”;

230 Justicar March 25, 2013 at 1:02 am

Just now, Woo; I was amused (despite some pronoun issues in the copy/paste job).

231 Steersman March 25, 2013 at 1:21 am

WootheReaper (#217, #219, #228, etc., etc., etc. 😉 ]:

I read it – quite clever, although I’m not familiar enough with the original story to see how much water it holds. And I thought likewise about the Scribd poem ….

But certainly “irate” – there seems to be rather a large amount of uncharitable and bad-faith arguing going on. Although not at all easy to recognize that in ourselves. Somewhat apropos, happened to have run across an amusing observation in Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works this morning:

If there were a verb meaning “to believe falsely”, it would not have any significant first person, present indicative. Ludwig Wittgenstein. [pg 423]

That is, there is no verb construction that states “I believe falsely” – everyone else does, but not we as individuals ….

232 WootheReaper March 25, 2013 at 1:53 am

Uh ok

233 Edward Gemmer March 25, 2013 at 2:18 am

Although I wonder how many insults of that nature you’ve received from, for examples, Watson, Christina, Benson, and Zvan.

I don’t think I’ve ever had any direct dialogue with Rebecca Watson, though I am banned from SkepChick. I don’t think I’ve been banned from Greta Christina’s blog. I am banned from both Ophelia Benson’s and Stephanie Zvan’s blog. I don’t recall if Benson said anything to me. Zvan called me a pet and boycotted the Lousy Canuck’s blog until he banned me, too.

However, in passing and as a bit of a suggestion, I think that “community standards” in commenting here – at least – is to reserve bolding for small items or phrases to be emphasized while using italics (“i”) or “blockquote” for quoting others ….

Let’s see if that works.

234 Pogsurf March 25, 2013 at 9:10 am

I don’t think I’ve ever had any direct dialogue with Rebecca Watson, though I am banned from SkepChick. I don’t think I’ve been banned from Greta Christina’s blog. I am banned from both Ophelia Benson’s and Stephanie Zvan’s blog. I don’t recall if Benson said anything to me. Zvan called me a pet and boycotted the Lousy Canuck’s blog until he banned me, too.

Good ban count there Edward, although I wonder if you are getting quantity not quality. I’m banned from Pharyngula for self declared trolling.

This conversation had been getting far too academic for me, so I went off and tried a practical exercise. I wanted to offend someone, but not get too much collateral damage. Justicar’s example of setting out to offend Benson, and then accidentally upsetting every other female on the plant (except one) is way out of scale for me. This is a war of attrition, and we are aiming to win in the long game, not overnight. Wing Commander Richard Dawkins will give the order to “release the c-word” when the moment is right, and not before. That sort of thing anyway.

My target was Damian Thompson, editor of Telegraph blogs, who is a Catholic and a big fan of both the last and the new Pope. Could I offend him, and any other Catholics who might be listening, without accidentally offending some other group, like one legged gypsy lesbians? I watched his twitter feed like a hawk!

Damian Thompson ‏@holysmoke

If you think Pope Francis is easygoing, perhaps you should notice how often he mentions fighting the Devil, “the Evil One”.

I had to act fast. I came up with:

Martin Wiesner ‏@pogsurf

@holysmoke are you saying he has delusions? He should take meds for this.

Notice I didn’t need to use any swear words. I was trying to target my offence bomb. I don’t know yet if I have managed to offend him, or anyone else for that matter, but I am fairly sure that by using a combination of words which are all inoffensive in themselves I have kept the collateral damage down to a strict minimum.

I have declared today as #NationalLoonyDay on twitter (there’s a group you seriously should never try to offend), so I’d love to hear back on any really targeted attempts at causing offense, and any real claims of hurt you might have chalked up.

I’m out for the day, so laters.

235 A Hermit March 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Justicar March 25, 2013 at 12:31 am

Well, I’m not sure what conversation you’re having, but it is indeed what is being discussed. I know it might be hard to figure out, for that would require one read Michael’s article and the quotes of mine he’s included therein.

I have done and, and I watched your self serving video and it’s clear that you need to ignore a whole boatload of context to reduce the issue to a “middle class hypersensitive feminist might have to contend with hearing a-not-for-certain offensive word here and there.”

236 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.

237 Pogsurf March 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Whilst having lunch today with my uncle in his old people’s home I was called “big-headed” and “fat”. All I had done was mention I didn’t believe in God to a High Church CoE faithhead.

Is there no end to religious people’s rudenes?

238 John Greg March 26, 2013 at 12:44 am

To try and get somewhat back on topic, Michael said:

[blockquote]If you make a statement in a public or semi-public environment, where it is reasonably foreseeable as a consequence that the statement will be heard by some people who who will be hurt by it and some people who will not, is that statement (or the act of making it) hurtful? I suggest that it is, because a statement does not have to be hurtful to everybody in order to be hurtful.[/blockquote]

At first read, that seems reasonable, but the primary problem with it is this: “… where it is reasonably foreseeable as a consequence that the statement will be heard by some people who who will be hurt by it”. In all seriousness, how does one make such a determination? Espcially when, in regard to blogs and forums, we are talking about people from all over the world, with a vast range of emotional, psychological, and cultural backgrounds, sensibilities, sensitivities, and so on. I think it is as close to impossible as makes no difference to make any such reasonable assumptions, and that the only safe way to proceed would be an entirely impractical attempt at ensuring that absolutely nothing one says can be ever be seen as hurtful. And that is not only wholly unreasonable, it is wholly impossible, and would, in the end, render most conversation almost certainly devoid of anything interesting, meaningful, or useful.

239 John Greg March 26, 2013 at 12:44 am

Sorry. I screwed up the blockquote. What is the format on this site for such code?

240 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 1:06 am

Pointy brackets for blockquote.

It occurred to me today, but do you think Justicar causes so much trouble just because he’s a fruit? Probably the various wimmin around him say they don’t mind him using the c-word just because they know it winds up other sisters so bad. Just a thought.

241 Jack March 26, 2013 at 1:13 am

@Pogsurf (240)

‘It occurred to me today, but do you think Justicar causes so much trouble just because he’s a fruit? Probably the various wimmin around him say they don’t mind him using the c-word just because they know it winds up other sisters so bad. Just a thought.’

Are you trolling?

242 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 1:26 am

I have no idea what trolling even means, Jack. What sort of a question is that?

243 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 1:38 am

What did you say to me? what did you call me? Fruit?

THEY CALL ME MR. FRUIT!!!!!!11!!!!!!

244 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 1:48 am

Yes, fruitfaece nig-nog actually.

245 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 2:03 am

fruitfaece [sic]nig-nog actually.

I’m actually three of those. I’m also a limp-wristed bitch, a fag, a peter puffing pole smoking friend of Dorothy who’s had more meat in him than a butcher shop thereby giving rise to a situation in which I have the convenience of being able to fart without anyone hearing it. It’s not until the smell of fresh and moist rainbow fills the room that anyone’s set wise. If someone pulls out a quarter, I smile like a donut, my jaw drops and my eyes roll back into my head revealing the words “open for business”.

And I love every second of it. <):o)~

246 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 2:04 am

Jack said (#241):

Are you trolling?

No, I think he’s just being a dickhead. Trailer-trash cracker, probably ….

247 Skep tickle March 26, 2013 at 2:04 am

@John Greg #239

Sorry. I screwed up the blockquote. What is the format on this site for such code?

HTML:

Stuff to quote here

but without the spaces inside the brackets

248 Skep tickle March 26, 2013 at 2:06 am

Haha. Example fail.

It’s one of these: “” with “blockquote” (without any of the quote marks) to start the quote, then the same but with a slash in front of “blockquote” to end it.

Let’s see if that works

249 Skep tickle March 26, 2013 at 2:10 am

Touchy! Trying again, words better than symbols for this purpose: use angle brackets around the word “blockquote” to start, & same with a slash preceding the word to end the quote.

250 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 2:10 am

Michael, may I complain about Steersman calling me a dickhead. I think it is just plain rude and completely uncalled for. I am not asking for the record to be removed, just that my complaint has been noted.

Thank you.

251 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 2:18 am

John Greg said (#239):

Sorry. I screwed up the blockquote. What is the format on this site for such code?

Take a look at any of the FTB sites – their commenting sections (1) have the codes that work there, and most of them seem to work here as well.

As a bonus, you can even use the FTB sites to Preview your posts for here – see, not totally useless …. 😉

P.S. Anyone who happens to go to Zvan’s site might wish to call her on the fact that her claim that “bullies” “continue to lie about us after having been corrected” which is unmitigated horseshit. Which I’ve described in some detail in a post on the Pit (2), among other places, but which is still in moderation on Zvan’s site.

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/19/a-platform-for-reasonable-dialog/”;
2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=79225#p79225”;

252 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 2:29 am

Just so we don’t have the same nightmare there was about “Rebitcha/Rebitchka” Justicar and I have settled on a spelling of “fruit-faeced nig-nog” for the insult.

253 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 2:30 am

Pogsurf said (#250):

Michael, may I complain about Steersman calling me a dickhead?

Yes, but is it a factually true assertion? Consider the definition (1):

Definition of DICKHEAD
usually vulgar
: a stupid or contemptible person

Considering that you apparently went out of your way to level an insult – with little if any justification; largely an ad hominem – or two at Justicar, I would say that “stupid” and “comtemptible” probably apply ….

—-
1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dickhead”;

254 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 2:41 am

For a start Steersman, I use the Concise Oxford English dictionary, and I don’t think it’s in there, although I haven’t looked to check. Secondly who are you to just go around insulting people just because you feel like it?

As it happens, yes I did have to go out of my way to craft that insult. I think Justicar is a repulsive individual, and you only need to look back to comment 245 to see why.

I expect you are one of those wishy washy liberals who thinks anything goes until one of the friends comes under fire, then it’s a mock outrage for the whole world to see. Your type make me sick.

Try and find your own battles to fight, instead of looking out for your limp-wristed buddy who is to feeble to even know how to respond to an insult. Fruits, pah they make me sick too.

255 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 3:17 am

Pogsurf said (#254):

For a start Steersman, I use the Concise Oxford English dictionary, and I don’t think it’s in there, although I haven’t looked to check.

Well, excuuuuse me. Lahh deee da. It’s in both the Merriam-Webster and American Heritage dictionaries – as linked earlier.

I expect you are one of those wishy washy liberals who thinks anything goes until one of [their] friends comes under fire, then it’s a mock outrage for the whole world to see. Your type make me sick.

Oh noes! “Wishy washy liberals”! Ah, I’m cut to the quick; ask of me tomorrow and you’ll find me a grave man …. You have anything else, or are you just blowing smoke out of your ass?

Try and find your own battles to fight, instead of looking out for your limp-wristed buddy who is [too] feeble to even know how to respond to an insult. Fruits, pah they make me sick too.

Actually I thought his response of hyperbole and sarcasm was rather good – but maybe you’re too obtuse to have detected that. I find the best way to respond to insults is either to turn the tables or to laugh at them: sticks and stones and all that.

However, if I’m not mistaken, the whole theme of this thread of Michael’s, is on the question of which statements can be construed as good and bad, and who gets to decide. Which is ultimately related to the question of free speech. By which token, you are, of course, entitled to make whatever arguments and insults you would like, but you are also going to be judged on them. And if there is no substance, no justification for them then you’re likely going to be kicked to the curb in one way or another.

As for “looking out for [my] limp-wristed buddy” [you know him?], I’m reminded of the observations, a poem, by the German pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

I find there’s some truth in the aphorism, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

256 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 3:51 am

However, if I’m not mistaken, the whole theme of this thread of Michael’s, is on the question of which statements can be construed as good and bad, and who gets to decide.

Fuck me pal, you missed the boat when the brains were dished out. Didn’t you even notice the word “hurtful” in the title? Show me how Justicar has been hurt and I might just correspond with you further.

Don’t ever give me Christian poetry bullshit again arsewipe. My great-grandfather just happened to be murdered by the Nazis, so I don’t need lessons in history from a toe-rag. You are seriously annoying me now.

257 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 4:08 am

Considering that you apparently went out of your way to level an insult – with little if any justification; largely an ad hominem – or two at Justicar, I would say that “stupid” and “comtemptible” probably apply ….

So Steersman’s view is that Justicar is perfectly free to insult whomsoever he wishes, yet someone else going out of their way to insult Justicar is not allowed. Curious, I hope he is able to expand upon his detailed reasoning for this.

258 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

Eh, my grandfather was in a world war yet I know nothing, your grandfather dying at the hands of nazis doesn’t mean you know everything. Geez. Talk about using a death.

What were the insults though? The one on justicar and the one justicar used? I can’t find them both.

259 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 4:18 am

Just for the record for anyone who might take umbrage on my behalf, don’t. If you want to whine about something being bothersome, do so on your own behalf, not mine.

Anyone is free to call me whatever they’d like. Unlike too many people (say, Anita Sarkeesian), I’m not bothered by it. Hell, I’ve even offered to pose for photographs should anyone be in the mood of making a video game in which I get the stuffin’ beaten out of me. I even suggested they could make the endgame battle one in which I’m raped and killed. Doesn’t bother me a bit.

260 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:21 am

Awww… I would never, Justicar. Although a video game showing some nice bits would be a great play. You got my princess robe request, right? Thats rated PG.

261 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 4:23 am

Thanks Justicar, it was very decent of you to agree on the correct spelling, too.

262 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 4:32 am

What were the insults though? The one on justicar and the one justicar used? I can’t find them both.

#48 Justicar calls Benson a cunt
#243 Justicar throws a wobbly because I called him a fruit

I’m glad we’re all friends again now though.

263 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 4:37 am

Pogsurf said (#256):

Didn’t you even notice the word “hurtful” in the title? Show me how Justicar has been hurt and I might just correspond with you further.

I did as a matter of fact, but I also noticed that the phrase was “good and bad and hurtful statements”. Unless you can explain how any given statement can be both good, and bad, I would say that “hurtful” isn’t the only criterion to be considered. Matter of fact, that point was largely the essence of Justicar’s orginal questions to Michael, that “hurtful” isn’t necessarily going to carry the day.

As for “how Justicar has been hurt”, that is again largely secondary, in part because I expect he wasn’t terribly hurt by your insults. Or if he was, in some way, I expect he has enough control over his feelings to not be reduced to catatonia over hearing a few “bad-werdz”. Again, the point of Justicar’s questions to Michael and his subsequent response in this thread to them.

No, I figure the issue with your statements is that in the first ones you apparently thought that attempting to hurt him – and apparently without any provocation; real classy that – was an acceptable debating tactic, and that in the last one (#254) – “Fruits, pah they make me sick too” – you made the rather egregious tactical, if not strategic, error of expressing some homophobic bigotry and hate: judging an entire class on probably a very limited understanding and awareness of all of it.

As for whether you will “deign” to “correspond with me further” – meh.

Don’t ever give me Christian poetry bullshit again arsewipe.

Up yours. In case you might not have noticed it this isn’t all about you.

My great-grandfather just happened to be murdered by the Nazis, so I don’t need lessons in history from a toe-rag.

Bully for him; my father was in the artillery and happened to have actually killed a bunch of them. As for “lessons in history”, I think you need a remedial course since freedom of speech, and democracy were several of the principles that many fought and died for.

You are seriously annoying me now.

So?

264 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 4:37 am

Pogsurf writes

#48 Justicar calls Benson a cunt
#243 Justicar throws a wobbly because I called him a fruit

Both are demonstrable lies.

265 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:40 am

Justicar, I figured, at least the 2nd one, because from the convo it was others clearly complaining on your behalf… if you are fine with people raping and killing you in games surely you dont care if a pogsurf calls you a fruit.

As for the first one its so hilarious if he seriously made a false statement like that. tsk tsk tsk pogsurf?

266 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 4:41 am

Justicar said (#259):

Just for the record for anyone who might take umbrage on my behalf, don’t. If you want to whine about something being bothersome, do so on your own behalf, not mine.

Noted. But, as indicated, Pogsurf’s comments are, I think, a cases in point relative to the questions and issues you raised and that Michael has responded to.

267 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 4:47 am

Thanks WootheReaper, something finally made me smile tonight.

Not sure where the homophobic jibe popped out from. When I say fruit I have been referring to mangos and grapes, that sort of thing.

268 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 4:47 am

Pogsurf said (#257):

So Steersman’s view is that Justicar is perfectly free to insult whomsoever he wishes, yet someone else going out of their way to insult Justicar is not allowed. Curious, I hope he is able to expand upon his detailed reasoning for this.

The point is, that as Justicar tersely noted in #264, you haven’t actually proven or demonstrated that he actually called “Benson a cunt” in #48. You should take a real close look at it as it looks rather much like a hypothetical statement to me: “If someone called someone a cunt – for example, Ophelia Benson – then is that sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person”. He could have made that a little more explicit, but I think it is clearly the case.

269 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 4:56 am

How’d I make you smile, pogsurf? 😛

270 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 5:07 am

Steersman wrote

He could have made that a little more explicit, but I think it is clearly the case.

This is rich coming from someone who frequently writes as though postmodernity is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

271 Jack March 26, 2013 at 5:07 am

Pogsurf

Ok Mr Troll. Or is it Miss? Mizz?

You got me real bothered now. I’m not a happy bunny. I’ve been trying to work out what kind of fruit Justicar is. Lemon? Banana? (maybe too obvious) It’s driving me crazy.

272 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 5:09 am

I’ve been trying to work out what kind of fruit Justicar is.

Given what I wrote earlier, I think the only sensible kind of fruit would be a juicy one.

273 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 5:16 am

Jackfruit!

274 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 5:23 am

Justicar said (#270):

This is rich coming from someone who frequently writes as though postmodernity is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Offended? Ah, the things that are at the cores of our identities, and that we are most sensitive to. But it was only to suggest that a clear “IF” might have forestalled some confusion.

However, that “postmodernity is the greatest thing since sliced bread” is, I think, very wide of the mark as I have frequently quoted pointed and rather detailed criticisms of postmodernism in the Pit.

And it is a very large reason why I think so much of third or fourth wave feminism is so badly fucked. Which it is trying to do to atheism and skepticism. A salient passage which I’ve quoted is a review (2) of the book (1) Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies by a group of feminists:

The book is a critique on Women Studies departments in the United States. The authors interviewed dozens of women, from staff to professors to students, all quite supportive of feminism, but all still sharing the same criticism of infighting, indoctrination, political correctness and a near total lack of objective discussion.
….
The authors, however, demonstrate that these problems have existed since their ideology’s inception, and were particularly common within Women Studies programs. The authors wrote of the isolationist attitude that dominates many of the programs, along with a virulent anti-science, anti-intellectual sentiment driving many of the professors, staff and students. [my emphasis]

—–
1) “_http://www.amazon.com/Professing-Feminism-Education-Indoctrination-Studies/dp/0739104551”;
2) “_http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2009/07/27/professing-feminism-noh/”;

275 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 5:27 am

Offended? Yes. I’m dramatically offended that your reading skills and reasoning skills require improvement.

Allow me to assist you in response to your suggestion

But it was only to suggest that a clear “IF” might have forestalled some confusion.

by quoting myself

“If someone called someone a cunt – for example, Ophelia Benson – then is that sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person”.

Now, because you’re somewhat slow on the uptake, I shall do that again but with some appropriate modifications to better assist you

If someone called someone a cunt – for example, Ophelia Benson – then is that sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person”.

I even put it as the first word. I did so on purpose: to help the hard of thinking better negotiate the sentence’s import.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have to scoot because there’s an adult on another forum who’s having difficulty counting to 1.

276 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

Wooreaper, Justicar is just suffering from a few self-hate issues, which is why he is difficult to be around with at the moment.

Think of me as zero-gendered Jack. On the subject of which fruit I think it’s got to be StarFruit.

277 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 6:39 am

Justicar said (#275):

Offended? Yes. I’m dramatically offended that your reading skills and reasoning skills require improvement.

Certainly those skills of one of us does; let us see who that might be. For starters, you also said (#275 so you can check):

by quoting myself

“If someone called someone a cunt – for example, Ophelia Benson – then is that sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person”.

For fuck’s sake: that last sentence was my paraphrasing (in #268 above) of what I got from your last paragraph in #48 where Benson’s name was mentioned which was, in your own words (again, in #48):

And with the use of the word cunt: do you propose to claim that it’s a misreading on my part to think that A+ and FfTB by and large would claim that someone calling someone else a cunt (and nothing more than that: just looking at, say, Ophelia Benson, and uttering the word “cunt”) is, without more, sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person?

Rather different from your “by quoting myself”, is it not? You see any “IF” in that paragraph of yours?

While I’ll readily concede that I might have been a little clearer myself in clearly indicating that it was a paraphrase – mea culpa – I figured, I was pressed for time, that my reference to your original statement (#48) plus the indicative and telling phrase – “looks rather much like” – was sufficient for most – at least those of a charitable and non-peevish frame of mind – to read your original statement, and make the grand leap of logic that my statement was, in fact, an actual paraphrase of yours.

278 Justicar March 26, 2013 at 6:54 am

I’ll bite the bullet on that one. I mistakenly took the quotation marks to indicate a quote. Further, the use of the colon is specifically used to redact words, usually when the missing words are clear. Now that I go back and read what I actually wrote, instead of reading your words in quotation marks, I see that what I in fact did was ask a question. So, bad on me for not clicking back and reviewing the exact words I used; clearly, I erred by presuming that when you use quotation marks it indicates that someone is being quoted.

Now, I’m even more at a loss how you suppose I could be more explicit given that I asked if someone proposed the make the claim and followed it up by a question mark.

For anyone reading, here’s what I said, ipsissima verba:

And with the use of the word cunt: do you propose to claim that it’s a misreading on my part to think that A+ and FfTB by and large would claim that someone calling someone else a cunt (and nothing more than that: just looking at, say, Ophelia Benson, and uttering the word “cunt”) is, without more, sufficient to get that person labeled as a bad person?

I guess in the future, to help people like Steersman along, when I ask if someone is proposing to make a claim, state the claim and then follow it up with a question mark, I’ll have to append somewhere along there words like: THIS IS A QUESTION THAT IS TO ASK A PERSON TO EVALUATE WHETHER THE HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO PROPOSED THERE IS EITHER INCLUDED IN OR EXCLUDED FROM (OR NEITHER) THE SCOPE OF THE CONVERSATION BEING HAD. One wonders if that should prove itself to be adequately explicit.

279 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 7:09 am

Justicar:

I guess in the future, to help people like Steersman along ….

I got it; Pogsurf quite apparently didn’t (no apology, I note). And I didn’t notice anyone else attempt to disabuse him of that misreading so I guess many others didn’t see the nuance there either ….

Now, I’m even more at a loss how you suppose I could be more explicit given that I asked if someone proposed the make the claim and followed it up by a question mark ….

As I suggested, before you went off the deep end, you could have actually put in an explicit IF there instead of some implicit one buried in among the wherefores and whereases (note: figuratively speaking) …. I notice many people have problems with hypotheticals, even when they are explicit …

280 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

You are getting very tiresome, Steersman. No apology to whom, for what? No one has asked me to apologise for anything, ipso facto, no apology has been forthcoming.

Are you sure that you are not reading too much into this? You could apologise for calling me a dickhead, if you like. Things will become a lot clearer to you if you push yourself through the pain of doing this.

281 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

Pogsurf:

Well, you did call Justicar a “fruit”, which is not nice (even though I know Justi doesn’t mind at all).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_(slang)

But for the sake of charity, I read your complaint as you jesting around, which is fine in my book.

282 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

Damn, forgot to notice the “next comments” linky and thought pogsurf’s comment was the last one.

Sorry, coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.

283 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

Phil, are you suggesting Justicar is gay? I’ve never encountered him before so I had no idea. Do you think I have gone to far and maybe think about retracting?

284 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

Pogsurf said (#280):

You are getting very tiresome, Steersman. No apology to whom, for what?

You were the one who insisted to begin with that Justicar had called “Benson a cunt” in #264, #234, and elsewhere if I’m not mistaken. It is, of course, up to him to ask for an apology for that if he thinks it is called for, but I figure he isn’t the only one affected by such actions which tend to have rather far-reaching ramifications.

Rather too much of that type of thing – people making all sorts of wild accusations and then when they’re called on it they fade off into the shadows, generally leaving a bad taste behind. I figure that if people were obliged to at least apologize for their errors, or even to acknowledge them, then they might be more circumspect in the future about making those types of accusations – sort of a case of the negative feedback that is central to the science of cybernetics ….

Things will become a lot clearer to you if you push yourself through the pain of doing this.

Through the pain of doing what?

285 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

Justicar is very gay, indeed. It’s been a known fact ever since he started posting at ERV.

You haven’t gone too far with Justicar, as he really doesn’t give a damn about slurs in general, and homophobic one as well. Even he thougt a jockular answer was not out of line. Now, it will depend if you think you’ve insulted all gays with the use of “fruit”, which I don’t think is the case.

Sometimes, these things just escalate out of slight misunderstandings. Humour can fix that.

286 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

You’re quite right Phil. I hadn’t meant to offend gays at all, and I apologise in advance if any homosexuals reading this are offended by the terms “fruit”, “fruits” or “fruit-faeced nig-nog”. I shan’t use these terms again in the future.

287 Jack March 26, 2013 at 8:51 am

Pogsurf (286)

You’re a troll but sometimes trolls have a good way of digging out the root of an issue.

288 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

Steersman I made the point #72 that Justicar was causing unnecessary offence to Ms Benson by linking her name to a very offensive word. Justicar responded to this comment, but I don’t believe he refuted my argument. I am not aware of anyone else challenging me, so I took it as read that the point stood. Stop link her name to this word, it is clearly offensive and she has made it very clear that she does not like it.

289 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 9:07 am

You could still use “fruit” and “fruits” if, for exemple, you are giving away a fruit-salad* recipe. Or if nobody takes offense to the terms here. Maybe some onlookers might, but in order to know that, they’d need to post their complaint here. Might spark some interesting discussion.

As to Ophelia and the c-word, I’ve agreed with her almost two years ago I wouldn’t use it in her (virtual) presence on her blog or at Jerry Coyne’s blo…website. I barely use it at all these days, except when joking with my fiancée while watching a TV show. Most of the time directed at men. Most of the time, used by her.

But if the main intent of using it is to actually offend someone for something stupid they said, I’m not the one to police its use. Same for any other swear-words. It’s a free world, after all.

*See what I did there? If not, check “tossing the salad”.

290 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 9:08 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/

291 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

Jack, sorry but I’m not trolling. I spent many years as a scout instructor and learnt there that the first this you do in the case of improving social interactions is to understand the ethical implications in a theoretical sense, then get your hands dirty in the field, exploring what should happen in a practical sense. Yes, during phase two you will get some bumps and bruises along the way, but the most important thing is that everyone clambers in the minibus together for the drive home, and everyone gets home in one piece.

Look at me as a sort of Baden-Powell who stumbled upon the internet. I’ve found a sustained example of a juvenile cohort who were suffering from poor leadership. I want to take those juveniles, mould their behaviour, and bring them out on the other side as better people.

My aim is to reduce the highly non-productive shit slinging which has infested the atheist internet. I’m quite happy to trash my own reputation upon the way because quite frankly I haven’t got one to start with and I’m not in this for me. Just one last tip and I’ll let you go: stop judging other people and start judging yourself – stop questioning other people’s honesty and learn to be more honest with yourself. I can promise you more friends, more opportunities and a much better life, because boy it has sure worked for me.

Now who knows how to light a fire and who has got the baked beans in their rucksack? I’m hungry.

292 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 9:35 am

“Look at me as a sort of Baden-Powell who stumbled upon the internet.”

Eerrr, I wouldn’t be so quick as to paint myself as a sort of Baden-Powell (you know, fascism sympathies and all). But he did create a movement I was a part of almost all the way till I joined the army. And it helped me in many ways while serving, so there’s that.

We used to have raviolis instead of baked beans, but that might just be cultural. Also, I was in the “Scouts de France”, which had a very distilled view of the religious aspect of Scouts. We often had feuds with the Scouts d’Europe, a very religious (read RCC) movement with more military discipline than I ever witnessed in the army.

Anyway, Scout Toujours!

293 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 9:38 am

Fare well, hale and hearty Phil. Bon temps.

294 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 10:27 am

Also, I participated in the French Jamboree of 1995 (which is oddly not mentionned in Jamboree history here: http://www.scout.org/en/information_events/events/world_scout_events/jamboree/jamboree_history so maybe it wasn’t a “real” Jamboree).

Anyway, about 20 000 scouts and we built… a church. Makes me cringe, sometimes. I already was an Atheist back then. But the construction work was a lot of fun, all wooden.

/nostalgia

295 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

The last time I filled in leadership form I noticed you had to declare a religion. I chose Pastafarian.

296 Aneris March 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I’d like to hit on a couple of issues regarding Hurt vs. Harm and again a bit more detached from what was written above and kind of meander around the territory a bit.

Human Rights, Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Common Law (GB, IRL, USA, AUS) makes a distinction between verbal and written statements. Insulting offences are usually considered a tort. The main distinctions outside of Common Law are between “injure” (value judgement) and “diffamation” (factual claims) [historical terms, actual terms differ per country]. Some countries consider denigration or calumny as crimes, depending on contents and severity. We should keep in mind that moral senses might be different as a result.

“Injure” (Insults)
The internet is a different beast. What would bring people before court when it happened on the streets, may be considered a trifle online. I personally can live with insults as long as they reflect a momentary opinion within a discussion. The people responsible for their realm are responsible for setting up and enforcing the rules. I’m fine if they want to be strict on foul language and would even prefer it. It would be silly to complain about freedom of speech in such instances. Users who disagree with the policy at a particular place are free to find happiness elsewhere.

“Diffamation” (Defamation)
Factual claims, like purporting that people allegedly support certain dubious organisations or movements or actually subscribe to appaling views are way more severe, as it is reflected in some legal systems. Especially when the reasons for “diffamation” are often trivial. Disagreements are blown out of proportion or entirely made up, due to increasinly knee-jerk reactions. Perhaps, sub-par intelligence has found convenient weapons to “win” any argument. We then have a bully dillema. Either the target submits and apologizes for views they don’t espouse, or fight and even more risk association with these views. This his how the mechanic generally works, as discussed last time. Especially FTB/Pharyngula social dynamic relies on foils so that regulars can win social points among peers by showing off their “good views”. PZ Myers loves knife metaphors and wants his users to actively hunt down perceived enemies. It is rather ridiculous, and the problem is that some people actually find the “good team” so appaling that they see no problem with going against them, thus indirectly subverting otherwise right ideas. But PZ Myers and his knife whetting pack don’t have a monopoly on feminism or other occasionally good points.

Legal Dictionary on Defamation
Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.

Hurt vs. Harm
Defamations do not remain in one discussion, they stick to the name. Targets may feel hurt and powerless, but this isn’t the issue. The issue is that people are permanently devalued and excluded as it can be obtained from the definition above. There is also the problem of the power differential. When some user writes a negative opinion on –say– Michael Nugent, it will go into a pool of hundreds of opinions. But when a dozen bullies, and well-known bloggers decide to attack an ordinary person with no soap box, they can quickly dominate the public perception of that person, which translates directly into harm once prospective employers or dates Google their name (or friends, family, or future generations). It may well be the most read opinion about the person, if they otherwise do not do anything public. Other than that, “feeling offended or hurt” can’t be a guideline. Does anyone care about the feelings of Christians and others? I know the argument goes that Atheists aren’t offending them directly, but a non-existent entity, but we all know that this doesn’t translate well. They are offended personally, when their deity is offended it is often the worst offence for them, and yet we don’t care.

Satire
Satire and other works of fiction are, in my book, absolutely okay. As some rules of thumb: A) is it fictional, or at least doesn’t try to issue fake images as true? B) does it contain “public persons”? C) And as a matter of finer tuned views, are the depicted people authorities or “higher ups”? and D) is the depiction not gross, shocking or otherwise illegal? If the answers are yes, I see no reason to object.

Conclusion
So far, this description, ironically for some, puts FTB in an unfavorable light, but not the Slymepit. Zvan and others have made claims about what we do there in the undead thread, other than keeping us updated whats going on and gossiping about it. I haven’t seen any convincing evidence for harassment. There is also no orchestration for doing stuff elsewhere. It is far more likely that we are getting harassed by the many adversaries we have, especially the ones who really subscribe to misogynist or sexist views, due to their faith (Right-Wing Christianity and their traditional family “values” come to mind just as well as Islam).

297 Justicar March 31, 2013 at 12:35 am

Diffamation you say? I left mine to my kids along with my other incorporeal hereditaments.

298 Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 2:34 am

PZ Myers loves knife metaphors and wants his users to actively hunt down perceived enemies.

Too true. However, although PZ goad’s his horde to visit their fury on other sites, he himself his quite cowardly about doing so. For instance I have repeatedly trolled and sockpuppeted on Pharungula, and have multiple bans, including under my real name. However not once has he dared to comment on my blog. His horde similarly are afraid.

299 Gabriel April 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. I must’ve fell about 26 times, (legit, i was contniug). At the works. I was about to give up but your words kept coming up. I got it at the end and you are definitely right that if you try enough you will make it.

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