Structure and dedicated website for the atheist skeptic dialogue

by Michael Nugent on March 26, 2013

We hope to start the structured dialogue some time this week, on a new website dedicated to this project: http://atheistskepticdialogue.com

The process will be moderated by a team that includes people from both perceived ‘sides’ to keep the dialogue constructive and on-topic.

For each agenda item, we will start with two opening statements, that will be published simultaneously, one each from a person associated with either of the perceived ‘sides’.

The first opening statements will be compiled by Stephanie Zvan (Almost Diamonds) and Tim Skellett (Gurdur) [update: the second statement was compiled by Jack Smith, not Tim Skellett].

We might also have input from a person active in atheist or skeptic advocacy who has not been involved in any of the rifts.

When these opening statements have been published, other participants will comment on them, and indicate to what extent these statements reflect their own opinions.

The people who published the opening statements will then respond both to each other and to the discussion.

We will repeat this until we have reached as close to a consensus as we can attain. This will include identifying areas where we agree to differ.

We will also learn as we go along how to fine-tune or adapt the structure for future agenda items.

Reminder of Agenda

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit of the dialogue

Ultimately the outcomes of this dialogue cannot be enforced on anybody, so I hope that everyone who takes part will lead by example by creating a constructive dialogue that other reasonable people will want to voluntarily choose to get involved with.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 304 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Coel March 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

Hope it goes well Michael.

2 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

It will be interesting, and I hope to participate, either in the comments or with an opening statement.

Well done!

3 Notung March 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

As I said on Twitter, I don’t for one second believe this will work, but best of luck and I look forward to reading what is presented on both ‘sides’!

4 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

Tim Skellet is neither a member of the Slymepit nor someone who has a large presence to date in the debate. Apart from a few posts in the old ERV threads he is most known in the gnu atheist community as someone who was diametrically opposed to the outspoken atheist approach – an approach that is the hallmark of the slymepit.
What on earth gave you the idea that Tim Skellett is appropriate as someone on ‘our’ side of the debate?
It comes across as a rather shamefaced attempt to misrepresent our side of the argument.
Who exactly chooses who is on each ‘team’?
Is it you?
You haven’t exactly shown yourself to be a neutral party in this matter and using people who are completely unrepresentative of one side is only confirming the impression that you playing this game using loaded dice.
Many of use have made useful contributions to making the community more inclusive and yet you, again, choose to ignore us.
Shame on you Michael.
Please go back to the drawing board and at least try to give the impression that you are taking a neutral approach to this.

5 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

Good luck Michael. Sorry for all the mess on the previous thread. I’ll find someone with a mop and bucket ASAP.

6 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

Skepsheik,

This is a dialogue between individuals, not between imagined monolithic groups. That said, it is useful that the opening statements at least, on each agenda item, capture the essence of the concerns of people on each main perceived ‘side’.

I asked on an earlier post for people who were interested in participating to let me know. If you volunteered and I mistakenly overlooked that, please let me know. If you didn’t volunteer, you are still welcome to take part, and indeed I hope more people will decide to take part as the dialogue evolves.

I contacted the people who volunteered from your perceived ‘side’ and asked them to select someone from among themselves to compose an opening statement for the first agenda item. I understand Tim is composing the opening statement in consultation with others, but I am not trying to dictate how it is composed.

After the opening statements are published, I hope that everyone will (perhaps gradually) feel comfortable to participate as individuals, and acknowledge points made by people on the other ‘side’ which they agree with, or by people on their own ‘side’ which they disagree with.

It’s all a delicate balance, because ultimately the outcomes cannot be enforced on anybody, so it is a question of leading by example and creating a constructive dialogue that people will voluntarily choose to get involved with and have confidence in the outcome of.

7 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 10:14 am

Skepsheik:

(Love your Peezus and O series, so that’s out of the way).

Tim (aka Gurdur), is not a member of the actual Slymepit as created by Lsuoma, but he was a prolific participant at ERV’s Slimepit. He is less radical than the most radical Pitters, and I personally think he is a good choice for the opening statements. He’s quite level-headed, polite, and knows a bit about the history of EG and what came after.

He’s not representing the actual Slymepit (nobody does), but he’s sympathetic to the goals of the Pit, if not the execution thereof. So, not a bad choice at all for an opening statement, I think.

8 John Moriarty March 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

procon.org is interesting

9 John C. Welch March 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Michael,

You may want to consider that given the comment levels on the earlier posts, missing things like your ‘call for speakers’ was pretty easy to do.

10 John C. Welch March 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm

an addendum: perhaps posting the notice in the ‘pit may have been more useful than here.

11 Submariner March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Michael,

I, for one, would like to know the existing participants already lined up for this discussion. A bit more transparency in the selection process and “rules” would be appreciated as well.

Are these opening statements (and indeed all statements issued from the representatives) going to have commentary allowed? What will be the moderation policy if comments are allowed?

Who will select the “…person active in atheist or skeptic advocacy who has not been involved in any of the rifts.”?

If I may suggest, a bit more “back channel” information presented “up front” will go a long way to quell complaints of bias such as raised by Skepsheik above.

12 Edward Gemmer March 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Sounds pretty cool. Honestly, I don’t care who is giving what – theoretically we are all happy to apply critical thinking to anyone’s position, our own “side” or someone else’s “side.”

13 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

It doesn’t look like the opening statements are up yet.

14 Coel March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm

It seems to me that some moderate voices, who are not firmly entrenched in either camp, but can see both merit and flaws in each, are exactly what we could do with. (Of course the firmly-entrenched should also be given full opportunity to air their views.)

15 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

As usual, thanks for the feedback.

We can fine-tune this as it goes along, but we need to start somewhere.

It’s a difficult dialogue to facilitate, for two main reasons.

Firstly, nobody on any ‘side’ represents the people on that ‘side’ in the way that a politician or a trade union official does, and nobody can make any agreements on behalf of anybody else, so of necessity this is a dialogue between individuals.

Secondly, the issues go beyond members of FTB and the Slymepit. These are two online places where some people discuss the issues. But the issues are relevant to, and have an effect on, many different atheist and skeptic communities and advocates.

To answer some of the questions…

I asked for volunteers to start the process. That request was discussed here, on the Slymepit and elsewhere. The people who volunteered are preparing opening statements for the first agenda item. They are free to say who they are if they wish. Yes, there will be commentary, and anybody who wants to contribute will be able to. How it will be moderated has not been decided yet.

There is no out-of-the-box template for doing this. This is only the first agenda item. Let’s see how it goes and we can learn from that, and fine-tune it for future items.

16 loyalb March 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

A few things I hope you’ll consider as you work to get the website up and running:

-One of the most bitter contentions in the debate so far is over the heavy-handed, inconsistent way one side deals with dissent. I urge you to adopt a similar moderation policy to how you’ve managed the comments here on your website.

The treatment of dissent on various blogs is one of the major escalating factors in the ‘rift.’ It has created lasting resentments and eroded trust between the sides. Ironically, it has encouraged the kind of ‘trolling’ it is supposed to prevent. Who’s going to take the extra few minutes deliberating over a comment that they’re not even sure will see the light of day? Who’s going to invest in a dialogue they don’t expect to continue past the first post?

Your own comments sections prove that a lighter moderation policy can facilitate constructive dialogue.

-If I’m reading you correctly, both sides will have representation moderating the debate. This may have a chilling effect on participation by both/all sides because of the history on other forums. There will be people who won’t even give the dialogue a chance based on the history of moderation by some of the participants.

It’s probably not possible to find neutral parties interested enough to help, but there are certain names that are going to be just too controversial.

-I think neither/none of the sides would feel comfortable with their personal information (email/IP addy) in the hands of partisan moderators. I’m not sure how you can address this issue, but it should be a concern.

17 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

loyalb, the slymepit forums require an email and IP address and so does commenting on FtB. I think Nugent can see your IP on this too *GASP*

18 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm

WootheReaper, just pass your real name to the gate-keeper and you should have no trouble getting in.

If you want to make your own bio-metric ID the details are here:

http://lobsterblogster.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/master-forger-at-work.html

19 tina March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I’m taking a wild guess that PZ, OB, RW will not be taking part in this: would that be correct?

20 Edward Gemmer March 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Yes, a light moderation policy has worked great here. I don’t really care about “sides,” but more that it would be a nice to see a website where atheists can discuss issues without being insulted or digitally abused.

21 Submariner March 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

@ tina #19

I can’t speak for all of those people, but one has already spoken for herself:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue/

22 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Michael, did you make a call for participants on the Slymepit? It isn’t clear from your statement above and I don’t recall seeing such a post there. If you didn’t then I suggest you do so and try to get a more representitive group of participants. The way you’ve suddenly hoisted this on us as a fait accompli doesn’t suggest an even hand – in Irish terms it’s rather akin to you suddenly finding out there is a televised debate between a religious and a non religious side, with David Quinn chosen as spokesman for the non religious.
Is this really what you intended?

23 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I don’t really picture the debate as FTB Vs. Pitters, so I see no reasons to not have Tim make an opening statement. He doesn’t represent the Pit, and Stephanie doesn’t represent FTB. But they do seem to be on the opposite sides of this debate. Anyway, it should be fun and entertaining, so I’m looking forward to it. And participating if I can bring anything to the table.

24 WootheReaper March 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Pogsurf, see the comment I was replying to. I’m not the one with the complant.

25 Michael Nugent March 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Skepsheik,

I didn’t post a request for participants on either the Slymepit or FTB, or on any of the many other atheist or skeptic websites where these issues have been discussed in the past two years.

This is not a dialogue between members of two websites.

It is a dialogue between individuals who want to work together to try to move beyond the recent rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities, rifts which are not exclusive to the members of these two websites, and rifts which are affecting people and groups not associated with either of them.

In practical terms, there is no mechanism for anyone to represent either the Slymepit or FTB or the wider group of atheists and skeptics who may share similar concerns to members of either website, and so of necessity this has to be a dialogue between individuals.

That said, it is obviously helpful that there are members of both FTB and the Slymepit who have volunteered to participate in the process.

But everybody who is involved is involved as an individual, you don’t have to be among the first volunteers to be able to contribute to the process, and we hope that more individuals will choose to get involved as the process continues.

It’s not a perfect process. We can adjust it as we go along. But we have to start somewhere, and this where we are starting.

26 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Herding cats, hey? :D

27 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm

I used to work in a place with a lot of complants. It was code for commercial plants, but they looked like ordinary pot plants to me, rented back to the same company that owned them, but at a higher rate.

I’ll take a look back when I get the chance.

28 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Michael, my blog doesn’t really cover this sort of stuff, so I won’t put a notice there, for the tiny number of visitors I get.

29 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Well, I don’t know if this counts as “poisoning the well”, but my appreciation of Skepsheik’s “Peezus and O” hasn’t gotten unnoticiced.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue/

I do not wish to derail what could be a fruitful discussion, especially if my sense of humour is not welcome. I liked the “Peezus and O” as much as I like the “Jesus and Mo” series. If I were to be the subject of suck a webcomic, I’d be very amused and flattered.

So, by all means, count me out of the dialogue if you don’t see me fit for it. I am a bit sad when it comes to the A/S community loss of humour lately.

30 Steersman March 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Tina said (#19):

I’m taking a wild guess that PZ, OB, RW will not be taking part in this: would that be correct?

Ophelia Benson has certainly indicated that she has no interest in partaking (1) which is rather unfortunate for a number of reasons. But I think Stephanie Zvan is to be commended for doing so, particularly since she’s given some indications that she might view it as akin to putting her head into a lion’s den. But which might also be suggestive of her view that the process might bear some fruit, that the scene might be worth the candle.

Although there are, of course, more than a few on each side who apparently condemn any discussions as the worst type of betrayal imaginable – and, amusingly, in the same terms. For instance:

Raging Bee: “Fuck the harassers, and fuck the Neville Chamberlain wannabees too.” (1)

Michael K. Gray: “I parallel Gurdur’s approach to robust debate to that of Neville Chamberlain vs Hitler.” (2)

Maybe they’re doppelgängers.

However, I think Benson’s posts highlight the fact that each “side” seems to have very different perspectives on a number of issues – for instance, the definition and implications of the word “harassment” as described in a later post by her (3), but extending to concepts such as sexism, feminism, and even skepticism itself – that would seem to be the first order of business to at least define or address, if not resolve. But, presumably, as skeptics seem – generally at least – to have some solid common ground in a reliance on evidence and critical thinking, one at least hopes that the outcome will be substantially better than the rather amusing consequences of a 1993 religious ecumenical conference (4):

And according to the New York Times, when thousands of the world’s clerical leaders gathered at the second World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago one hundred years after the first such gathering in 1893, “Evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches that are embraced by many Americans shunned the gathering on theological grounds, and the established centrist and liberal denominations, like the Episcopalians and Methodists that have usually supported interfaith talks, were scarcely visible.”

Eastern Orthodox Christians came but left en masse when they found themselves in the company of “neopagans,” and Jewish groups withdrew when the Nation of Islam showed up. Sikhs and Hindus stayed but tried to push each other out of the convention center (physically), and the Dalai Lama astutely concluded “Nonsense!” in response to his own question: “If we have conflicts in the name of religion, can we help resolve other problems?” (Steinfels, 1993, p. 93).

While there are certainly significant differences in the premises in each case, one might also suggest that the Dalai Lama’s question to his religious brethren also has some relevance to those of a more secular frame of mind.

—–
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue/#comment-511238”;
2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=79493#p79493”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/understanding-understanding-harassment/”;
4) “_http://strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;

31 tina March 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Steersman:

“…But, presumably, as skeptics seem – generally at least – to have some solid common ground in a reliance on evidence and critical thinking,….”

I think I stopped believing that a couple years ago. Let’s see. I think it commendable that Zvan has agreed to take part.

32 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Well, I don’t know if this counts as “poisoning the well”, but my appreciation of Skepsheik’s “Peezus and O” hasn’t gotten unnoticiced.

I think that is one of the major problems we are having. Wouldn’t it be better to consider her feelings and comfort level with this whole thing before referring everyone here (including readers and not participants) to a web comic by an anonymous person that is dedicated to harassing her (she is not a fictional character like Jesus or Muhammad, you know)?

33 tina March 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Phil:

Three SJW’s walk into a bar. Ouch!

34 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I’ve done a chart two show the four sides of the argument. It’s interactive, so you can’t mark where you are on it.

See: http://pogsurf.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/ftbullies-v-slymepit.html

35 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Michael, I hope you have noticed that you are now allowing Aratina Cage to accuse me of harrassment. I regards accusations of criminal acts very seriously and hope that you do so too and will not allow your website to be used to perpetrate dishonest and cowardly smears.

36 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Well, I don’t know if this counts as “poisoning the well”, but my appreciation of Skepsheik’s “Peezus and O” hasn’t gotten unnoticiced.

I think that is one of the major problems we are having. Wouldn’t it be better to consider her feelings and comfort level with this whole thing before referring everyone here (including readers and not participants) to a web comic by an anonymous person that is dedicated to harassing her (she is not a fictional character like Jesus or Muhammad, you know)?

(hope that works)

Why would I, an internet poster, not even a blogger, have to consider her level of discomfort? For realz. She’s not in my close family or friends circle. This is going to be quite harsh, but here goes: I don’t really care what she feels, and neither should you. What she does feel is her business. If my best friend has a problem with something said to her, I will be there to help her. If a random blogger screams about personal hurt, I’ll try and do my best to not escalate. And that’s it.

But in the end, it’s not really my deal, is it? I do not expect other people to care for my feelings.

37 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 10:06 pm

accusations of criminal acts

This ^^^ kind of thing is not a charitable reading of what I wrote.

38 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Skepsheik, I think you should direct your comments to Aratina, not Michael. Michael cannot be responsible for other people’s comments.

39 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Why would I, an internet poster, not even a blogger, have to consider her level of discomfort? For realz.

There are a lot of reasons I can think of. Are you sure you cannot think of any?

She’s not in my close family or friends circle.

Non-sequitur.

This is going to be quite harsh, but here goes: I don’t really care what she feels, and neither should you.

But we should care about how other people feel. That is a moral thing to do when considering how to justifiably treat others.

What she does feel is her business.

She has made it clear that she dose not feel good about this because of the way people (like you, Phil) continue to use her as a prop for their arguments and unrelated remarks.

If my best friend has a problem with something said to her, I will be there to help her. If a random blogger screams about personal hurt, I’ll try and do my best to not escalate. And that’s it.

I’m asking you to not escalate it. Is that somehow unreasonable to you?

40 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Under Irish law Michael, as host of this site, is indeed responsible for publishing material which is libellous – and false accusations of harrassment certainly constitute such grounds. I presume, however, that considering how quickly he responded to remove unfounded claims about Ophelia Benson, he will do the same in this instance. To fail to act in an even way would not be seen in a good light.

41 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Skepsheik, how would you describe what you do? I think “harassment” is a perfectly legitimate description of it.

42 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Why would I, an internet poster, not even a blogger, have to consider her level of discomfort? For realz.

There are a lot of reasons I can think of. Are you sure you cannot think of any?

Yes, I could think of, say, common courtesy. And this is something Ophelia hasn’t offered to her perceived “enemies” in the past. I’m going to pull a Steersman now, and say what’s good for the goose…

She’s not in my close family or friends circle.

Non-sequitur.

Really? I do have a problem with internet english language, then.

This is going to be quite harsh, but here goes: I don’t really care what she feels, and neither should you.

But we should care about how other people feel. That is a moral thing to do when considering how to justifiably treat others.

Yes, agreed, if said people care about what WE feel. If they don’t, I say all game’s on. You may not agree, and I can understand that view.

What she does feel is her business.

She has made it clear that she dose not feel good about this because of the way people (like you, Phil) continue to use her as a prop for their arguments and unrelated remarks.

I would ask for a specific WRT “like you, Phil”, but I won’t. Maybe later?

If my best friend has a problem with something said to her, I will be there to help her. If a random blogger screams about personal hurt, I’ll try and do my best to not escalate. And that’s it.

I’m asking you to not escalate it. Is that somehow unreasonable to you?

Yes, it is, in fact. Look, Aratina, I think we are more in agreement than we are in disagreement. Could you at least agree with me that Ophelia is not always right? Or PZ? Or Abbie? Or me? Because this would be the start of realising that those people from all sides are not as syncophantic as they appear to be.

43 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

Yes, I could think of, say, common courtesy… this is something [not] offered to her perceived “enemies” in the past. I’m going to … say what’s good for the goose…

Even though I disagree, has it been done by her here, on this neutral ground? I think it has not been done by her. You are, in fact, the “goose” in your analogy in this case.

I would ask for a specific WRT “like you, Phil”, but I won’t. Maybe later?

Who brought up the web comic by the anonymous person who goes by Skepsheik?

Could you at least agree with me that Ophelia is not always right? Or PZ? Or Abbie? Or me? Because this would be the start of realising that those people from all sides are not as syncophantic as they appear to be.

I have disagreed with all of those people before. What ever gave you the idea that I haven’t? And they have disagreed with me. I don’t consider anyone “always right”, and I never will. How could a person be “always right”?

Phil, I agreed with you about that before you even asked! Please don’t pigeonhole me like that.

44 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Aratina: Not pigeonholing you, just having a nice chat.

Goose stuf: well, just point me to not being a native english-speaker. Seemed like a good one at the time. I may be wrong, and will accept such accusations.

I did bring up the webcomic, because it’s the main reason I ever heard of Skepsheick. Apologies, but I still find the comics funny, with all their hyperboles and such. YMMV

Anyway, off for the night, I think. Hopefully this will grow into a nice discussion.

45 Aratina Cage March 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

First, good night to you.

I did bring up the webcomic, because it’s the main reason I ever heard of Skepsheick. Apologies, but I still find the comics funny, with all their hyperboles and such. YMMV

Like I said, it isn’t about fictional characters Jesus and Muhammad. It is about a few real people and it mocks them and degrades them throughout. Only one of them is participating in the talks that I know of (Stephanie Zvan). I ask that such hurtful things not be brought up here like that so casually.

46 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

PZ Myers has just announced on his blog Phurangula that he definitely will not take part in the discussion, unless his comments are made anonymously. This is due to death threats and Homeland Security issues. This will not count as sock-puppeting because of the security threat level.

47 Edward Gemmer March 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Under Irish law Michael, as host of this site, is indeed responsible for publishing material which is libellous – and false accusations of harrassment certainly constitute such grounds. I presume, however, that considering how quickly he responded to remove unfounded claims about Ophelia Benson, he will do the same in this instance. To fail to act in an even way would not be seen in a good light.

I don’t see any reason to get caught up in this libel stuff. That just puts a freeze on the conversation. Clearly, the comic pokes fun at those people. Does that constitute harassment? In the United States, definitely not. These people have presented themselves as public figures by having blogs and sending out their point of view. The comic pokes fun at them. I read Benson’s post where she objects to the comics. That doesn’t make them harassment any more than political cartoons are harassing political figures.

48 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Michael, I think I will accept your offer to take part in this debate.
If you are going to allow Aratina to continue with such disgusting and libellous misrepresentation of my work I think it is best that I do not keep quiet on the sidelines.
You have my contact email.

49 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I think we should all form a consensus around the idea around of using English law, to make matters easier. The reasons are:

i) English law is known to be the best worldwide
ii) English law is very expensive for both the appellant and the plaintiff
iii) there is no right of free speech in English law, unlike the more lax Irish and American laws

50 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Actually, Pogsurf, Irish law is closely based on English law so it is not as lax as US law. That said I am certainly not thinking of taking the matter to court! I simply hoped Micha would treat the matter seriously and promptly – as he did with the claims about Ophelia.

51 Pogsurf March 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Thanks Skepsheik, excellent helpful comments. I hadn’t considered that US law comes such a poor third.

52 Skepsheik March 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

No problem Pogsurf – and damn my stubby iphone fingers for making me write Micha, instead of Michael!

53 Sally March 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Actually, there’s a campaign to reform UK libel laws, as they’re considered to put an unacceptable damper on some forms of speech.

54 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 12:06 am

Spot on Sally (and may I say you are looking very beautiful tonight). Maybe I was completely wrong, and we should look to a tiger economy like the Saudis for some decent law making.

55 Jack March 27, 2013 at 12:11 am

Sally (53)

‘Actually, there’s a campaign to reform UK libel laws, as they’re considered to put an unacceptable damper on some forms of speech.’

The law is going through now (from memory) but it got caught up in the Newspaper scandals. One of the changes will be relaxing what is allowed in internet comments. But in the UK Libel law is not fit for purpose any more. Very expensive, onerous with stupid judges interpreting it and takes little care about context or the actual harm caused.

56 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

Skepsheik said (#40):

Under Irish law Michael, as host of this site, is indeed responsible for publishing material which is libellous – and false accusations of harrassment certainly constitute such grounds.

Interesting question as to what constitutes “harassment” which, of course, varies widely from country to country, and even state to state. Ophelia Benson has a recent post on the question (1) and quotes an article from US Legal (2) on the concept:

Harassment is governed by state laws, which vary by state, but is generally defined as a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety. Harassment is unwanted, unwelcomed and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment for the victim. Harassing behavior may include, but is not limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs and lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons.

And of course she argues that your cartoons – quite good, I might mention in passing, although I’m not the target of the satire – qualify as harassment:

Huh. There are quite a few items in that list that match exactly what I’ve been calling harassment: epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons.

However, while I am not a lawyer, my impression is that, as the first quote indicates, to qualify as harassment those “derogatory cartoons” also have to “result in a hostile environment for the victim”. Which would seem not to be the case for those cartoons of yours since Benson can quite easily remove herself from wherever the cartoons happen to be displayed. Not as if they were being posted in her place of employment where she would be forced to view them.

I don’t see that she has much of a leg to stand on …. YMMV

—–
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/understanding-understanding-harassment/”;
2) “_http://definitions.uslegal.com/h/harassment/”;

57 loyalb March 27, 2013 at 12:35 am

@woothereaper

The difference is I trust Michael Nugent, who doesn’t have a history of disclosing people’s personal info (regardless of the source). I don’t see a whole lot of trust between the sides, which could affect participation.

And *gasp* privacy is a concern on the internet. But, yeah, let’s take your tack and have less protection of personal info. Good lord.

58 Sally March 27, 2013 at 12:46 am

may I say you are looking very beautiful tonight

Why on earth would you? It’s both obviously untrue, since you can’t see me, and completely irrelevant.

59 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 1:52 am

Skepsheik:
I asked you what word you think I should have used to describe what you do. Could you propose a replacement for what to me looks like little more than harassment of people you don’t like?

60 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 1:59 am

Skepsheik:
I asked you what word you think I should have used to describe what you do. Could you answer that? How would you describe the things you do as Skepsheik? (I’m only talking about your Skepsheik persona.)

61 Karmakin March 27, 2013 at 2:08 am

@Aratina:Sorry to butt in, but here’s a list of words I’d use or I’ve seen commonly used for similar activities:

Satire
Criticism
Activism
“Calling Out”

And I’m sure there’s more, but my brain is fried. You could use any of those words to describe what’s going on, and their perfectly accurate. You just don’t like the context or what those things are saying. And that’s fine. But like it or not what’s going on is relatively normal in say for example, political contexts.

I often find that “media policing” is a more obnoxious form of tone policing. Someone who makes a photoshop or a comic and says something in a pithy way…what matters is not that it’s pithy, but what it’s saying.

62 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 2:28 am

Sorry for the double posts above.

Karmakin:
Can you at least agree that Skepsheik is targeting a handful of people with his Internet presence and doing little more? I don’t want to dismiss the gravity of the behavior Skepsheik is engaged in under his “Skepsheik” persona with words like “satire” or “criticism” or “calling out” or “activism”.

63 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 2:55 am

Sally, sorry, the truth is I have mislaid my Google Glasses (TM) and all the avatars look a bit fuzzy. I was playing a percentage game that you are not an ugly old witch who can’t take a compliment, and I lost. Apologies if I have offended you.

This poorly designed website may have some good tips for those who enjoy footnote, and would like to make them ‘clickable':

http://angloweb.blogspot.co.uk/2005/07/inserting-link-into-blog-comment.html

64 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 2:57 am

footnotes – obviously

65 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 3:06 am

Aratina said (#62):

I don’t want to dismiss the gravity of the behavior Skepsheik is engaged in under his “Skepsheik” persona with words like “satire” or “criticism” or “calling out” or “activism”.

You might want to actually go to Ophelia’s site (1) and take a real close look at the actual cartoons, and then seriously ask yourself whether the implicit or explicit criticisms of Freethought Blogs – as there is virtually none of Ophelia that I can see – have some validity or not.

You might also take a real close look at the Wikipedia article on caricatures (2) and a few related topics linked in it.

At least as far as Skepsheik’s cartoons are concerned I think you and Ophelia are getting your knickers in a twist over virtually nothing. You both might want to reflect on the parable of the little boy who cried “wolf” once too often ….

—–
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue/”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caricature”;

66 Sally March 27, 2013 at 3:07 am

I was playing a percentage game that you are not an ugly old witch who can’t take a compliment, and I lost.

I get it now! You’re doing a performance art piece where you pretend to be one of those assholes who focuses on a woman’s looks then gets abusive when she doesn’t roll over and act like she there’s nothing she wants more on this earth. Sorry, you weren’t very good, so it took me a moment.

But I can play my part, even if the story is a bit overdone. You’re not offering anything worth making me stick around, so I’ll go somewhere that I don’t have to put up with the bullshit.

67 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 3:13 am

I wish I had the time for performing arts, but I don’t with this non-stop atheist slymefest. I know, I’ll put the kettle on.

Steersman, where do you get your manners from? When talking to older ladies you are nothing short of atrocious. Plus your footnotes don’t click. No choccy biscuits for you…

68 bovarchist March 27, 2013 at 3:16 am

Aratina:

FWIW I would not describe the cartoons as harassment, just because they depict real people. They are satire, which PZ and Ophelia, as public figures, are fair game for. Only the subjects can decide if it degrades them, of course; but I would argue that if satire isn’t degrading to some degree, then it hasn’t succeeded.

Also, after reading the cartoons for myself, I have to agree with their creator that it would be hard for a reasonable person to be offended by them. Make of that what you will.

69 bovarchist March 27, 2013 at 3:18 am

and sally is off and running.

70 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 3:34 am

Good point. There’s a fine line between biting satire which is good, and overblown snark which is bad. People need to empathise with the characters – sometimes a newboy or girl will put in all too much of their own personal venom in. It’s hard to get the balance right, but the very best satire has both the victim and the target laughing.

This is why I encourage youngsters to sockpuppet. It’s not until you have tried to live out a rôle that you appreciate how difficult it all is. Also you are not even allowed to wear masks outside of Hallow-e’en these days because of muslim extremists, so even limited rôle-playing is normally off limits. There’s nothing we can do about that until the War on Terror is won, so it doesn’t do to grumble…

[Funny Firefox 12 doesn't support a French dictionary, who knew]

71 Karmakin March 27, 2013 at 3:38 am

@Aratina: I don’t think if you’re targeting a handful of people or a larger group or anything really matters.

One of the big myths of this conflict, is that it’s a proxy war for North American politics, between progressives and libertarians. What I’ve found is that’s not really true. Here’s the point of this:

The Progressive “netroots” grew out of this sort of thing, like it or not. It’s true. These sort of..well..yeah..juvenile visual protest comics were the early days of the Progressive netroots. First there was BartCop and Rackjite, then Atrios/Eschaton (And don’t forget Media Whores Online, which eventually because Media Matters if you ask some people), then DailyKos came from there and then off to the races it goes.

I’m one of those people who was there for the whole thing. Web wasn’t my thing back then, I was an IRC guy, so I arranged online chats for big events and helped run them. Anyway, the point of all this, is that these sort of..well..antics..are in the modern progressive DNA. And yes, we’d call it satire or criticism or activism or whatever. Because that’s what it IS.

So yeah. I think the labeling of this sort of, quite frankly, acceptable discourse/political tussle and tumble as “harassment”, is not helping. Disagree with the message. Explain why you disagree with it. But the form it takes, in and of itself, is an attempt IMO to silence dissent.

72 Karmakin March 27, 2013 at 3:42 am

That is, criticizing the form it takes in and of itself, is an attempt IMO to silence dissent.

73 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 4:02 am

Your last two comments were great, Karmakin. Good background for those us who got here a bit late. I sense a change in the mood, everyone is trying to rub along together now. United we are indefatigable!

Has anyone seen Justicar lately? It would be a shame after the hard work he put if he missed the actual party.

Michael, you asked for comments about the overall design of the new website. I’m afraid when I took a look it seemed rather plain and boring. Children under five are going to find it less than interesting.

I found a great whizzi-gig here: http://www.hertfordshire.freeserve.co.uk/Bricket_Wood_Express/ the little dot thing. We might be able to use this if the royalty fees are low, or maybe try and find someone who is good with computers. Let me know and I’ll set the wheels in motion.

74 WootheReaper March 27, 2013 at 4:32 am

Who is saying that this is progressives vs.. libertarians? o.O

75 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 4:42 am

Karmakin:

And yes, we’d call it satire or criticism or activism or whatever. Because that’s what it IS.

What’s the point of the talks, then, if you and Phil and bovarchist and maybe some others here are OK with what Skepsheik does? I think he has crossed a line and gone past satire, past juvenile antics. And I would definitely not characterize anything Skepsheik does as “liberal” or “progressive”; liberals and progressives tend to care about other people.

76 John C. Welch March 27, 2013 at 4:44 am

Aratina, “charitable” works two ways. It is I think a bit much to ask those of us from the ‘pit and other places not particularly happy with FTB et al, such as myself, to be “charitable” to people such as ophelia, when one of her terms for me is “you vicious piece of shit”. Not completely or even mostly unprovoked, but still, hardly charitable. (I know, I know, I keep refusing to acknowledge her doctrine of Bad Werds Make People Evil. I keep wanting proof. How viciously piece of shitty of me.)

that’s a quote, by the way.

Now, to be honest, i’ve been called worse by people far better at it than ophelia shall ever be, but why, given that, should I care about her feelings at all?

Where’s the charity in “vicious piece of shit”? Why am I required to extend something she is not?

When Zvan and her buds have made it clear that without knowing me personally, or much of anything about me, that I am a misogynist, racist, vile person full of hate, exactly what amount of shit or fucks should I give about them?

Where’s the charity in that? I have new glasses, so I’m not missing it because of visual acuity issues.

When PZ bans everyone from the pit, and then dares all who disagree with his views on feminism to post on his site, and when, obviously, none of us do, declares himself the winner and us cowards? Or when he says we are naught but cowardly versions of Marc Lepine?

I’m sorry, I must have missed the charity in his actions. Could you explain it to us? (according to you and your friends, we’re rather stupid as well. You may have to use small words. Be patient, it may take a bit for us to understand what you’re saying.)

I made a *single* comment on Greta’s blog. It wasn’t bagging on anyone at FTB, in fact, one could say, it was defending them in the sense of “If you can’t prove someone at FTB said something, maybe you shouldn’t say they said it”, and I was banned from her blog? Why? because I’m a “troll” on other sites. Well, not really, but hey, what do I count for? I’m a “vicious piece of shit”, right?

I appear to have missed the charity there, especially since I was trying to be charitable myself by making sure I followed the rules of Greta’s blog in terms of comments. Could you be so kind as to explain it to me? Remember, I am a stupid, evil, misogynistic, vile ‘pitter. You’ll have to use small words.

Exactly *why* should I have a picogram’s worth of charity for any of them? Because it seems to me that I’m on pretty stable ground in terms of what they think of me, so why should I be one iota kinder to them?

If I am to be called things I am not, then why should I not return the favor?

And let us not forget you and oolon’s little pet project on twitter, and the effect it has had on people not on twitter for 6-7 years with nigh-on 60,000 tweets. You have not a clean spot on your hands either in this arena, and please, if you are to talk about “charity” do not tell me you had no idea that it would result in people’s accounts being suspended.

no one here is either that stupid or naive. Well, we may be stupid. After all, we ARE pitters. Again, please use small words when replying.

So yes, aratina, tell us about charity. Tell us when to expect any from you and yours. Because if I see nothing but what I have since PZ started telling falsehoods about people who disagreed with him over elevatorgate?

“Charity” is not something that exists solely for your convenience. If you want charity, if it is that important to you, then perhaps you should have considered that before so enthusiastically volunteering to be inquisitor #2 in Oolon’s pet project.

Or perhaps that’s some subtle form of charity I’m unaware of.

Again, as long as you use small words, I’m sure you’ll eventually be able to explain it to me.

77 John C. Welch March 27, 2013 at 4:45 am

And I would definitely not characterize anything Skepsheik does as “liberal” or “progressive”; liberals and progressives tend to care about other people.

Yes. We can see how famed liberal progressives like Kennedy and Johnon cared deeply about the vietnamese and cambodians.

78 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 4:56 am

Pogsurf said (#67):

Steersman, where do you get your manners from? When talking to older ladies you are nothing short of atrocious. Plus your footnotes don’t click. No choccy biscuits for you…

And which “ladies”would those be? And, speaking of “patronizing” – which you raked me over the coals for (1), and without much substance I might add – your comments to Sally would seem to take the cake in that regard.

As for my footnotes, putting in more 2 seems to cause the comment to go into moderation. But all you have to do is to copy the link into a new page, and strip out the preceding underscore ….

1) “_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-206181”;

79 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 5:00 am

Aratina Cage said (#75):

What’s the point of the talks, then, if you and Phil and bovarchist and maybe some others here are OK with what Skepsheik does? I think he has crossed a line and gone past satire, past juvenile antics.

Well, that is certainly an interesting opinion you have there, Aratina. But do you have any evidence to back it up, particularly in light of the arguments and data that I and others have provided? Or are you just blowing smoke out of your ass?

80 Gurdur March 27, 2013 at 5:03 am

@ Skepsheik:
I dunno, once S. Zvan spammed a science-communication conference hashtag to tell everyone there “Gurdur is a slimepitter”, and then made a blog post a little later all about the alleged me, and it has a whole long comments thread devoted to trashing me in the most implausible ways. So I think I probably beat you in Alleged Evilness Cred, seriously. Well and truly.

Plus you talk as though the Slymepit had one coherent “side” of the argument. It doesn’t. Not in the slightest. I do read the SlymePit, just as I read FTB (and I refuse to join either FTB or the Slymepit), and I know damn well there is no such thing as a single consistant side to anything. The Slymepit board is composed of very different people, who often have very conflicting opinions.

I am however disappointed that Pogsurf has not followed up on the Accommodationist Conspiracy angle.

That being said, stop blaming Michael Nugent for this one thing at least. I volunteered, and anyone who took the trouble to read Michael’s blog post in question could have done the same. When I talked with the team of volunteers for giving the side of criticism of FTB/A+ (or, if you like, the slimepitter side), I again volunteered to collect opinions and try making a coherent statement out of them, then submitting that statement to the team, before making it public on Michael Nugent’s new dialogue site.

So feel free to blame me, at least there’s some humour to be had in the Evil Accommodationist Masterplan angle, however your claim that I have not been involved is crap. I’ve been involved one way or the other since the beginning of this whole amazing acid-trip, and I have very definite opinions on this score.

Abbie Smith of the ERV blog is also a Gnu, like you, and I was horrified at the vicious ostracism meted out to her. I commented on her blog a lot out of deliberate public protest at such meanspirited and hypocritical ostracism efforts, and for my pains I got subjected to ostracism attempts too. So bollocks, pure bollocks, to the idea I’m not worthy of inclusion as an engaged person in all this crap.

81 Karmakin March 27, 2013 at 5:04 am

@Woo: I dunno so much about right now, but early on, that was one of the big memes, that this was just a bunch of Libertarians (Note the Big L, it’s there for a reason) scared that applying skepticism to their beliefs would discredit them. The capital there is important. I don’t see very many Big-L ideological Libertarians in egalitarian circles, but you do see little-l libertarians, which is quite compatible with progressivism, even if you disagree with them (which I do…often).

@Aratina: And who is to say that Skepsheik doesn’t care about other people? Actually, I don’t know too much about him/her one way or the other, but here’s the thing. In egalitarian circles, we’re not a bunch of mustache twirling monsters. Actually, we tend to think that our ideas are simply better in terms of reaching a truly equal society.

Now, in terms of caring about the object of your criticism. Maybe. But for example, I don’t think that Benson cares all that much about say, Shermer, as an example.I don’t think that her pressure on him is anything wrong in and of itself. (In fact, I’m actually not entirely in disagreement with her, although I think she should “widen the beams” a bit so to speak and realize that her criticism can and should be applied to her colleagues and herself at times).

But the point is, irregardless of the form the criticism takes, it’s still just basic criticism. Now, personally I rather more intellectual based criticism than the more emotive kind like you see in things like comics and pictures. But that’s just me. But again, I recognize that there’s a history of this sort of thing, and it really does have its place.

82 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 5:07 am

Addendum to my last comment after reading a comment elsewhere: However, some people are rethinking the things they have done and are apologizing to the person they hurt and deciding it is time to move on. So maybe there is hope after all.

83 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 5:21 am

Steersman, I don’t understand. People’s feelings are subjective by definition. They are not something you can ethically just brush off as if they do not exist.

The fact is that Skepsheik’s web comic is causing the people it is aimed at and some bystanders to feel bad. The question is, is what Skepsheik is doing morally justifiable? I do not believe it is. I think that webcomic (and his whole “Skepsheik” persona, actually) is causing unjustifiable harm.

And, more importantly, many of the people Skepsheik’s web comic harms are not involved in these talks and have expressed their wish to not become involved or be coerced to be involved (by seeing or hearing about things said about them here which would tarnish their image or would compel them to respond). I do not think there was any benefit to bringing it up here, and actually I think it exacerbated the problem that these talks are supposed to relieve.

84 Jack March 27, 2013 at 5:26 am

Aratina Cage (80)

Yes agree. It would be a complete waste of time otherwise for everybody. The fact people are here commenting at Nugent’s is a positive sign in itself even if not all the comments are particularly charitable.

85 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 5:42 am

I am however disappointed that Pogsurf has not followed up on the Accommodationist Conspiracy angle.

Sorry about this, just pressure of work that’s all. Plus I am celebrating a bit because I have just been awarded a Ph.D. from MadeUpUniversity.com, which I am very proud of.

I’ll get to work on the conspiracy theory ASAP.

(BTW Aratina, nice subtle emphasis in #80)

86 Gurdur March 27, 2013 at 5:50 am

On a serious note: @ Aratina Cage:

Stop calling it “Gurdur’s side”, as you do here:
“_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/26/engaging-in-dialog/#comment-220331″

Apart from possibly causing Skepsheik to blow a gasket, contrary to your wording it is simply a loose team of people who agree on some things, and disagree on other things, and want to get certain points clear. It is not “Gurdur’s side”. It is also not the “slimepitter side”, it is simply a loose collection of people, each of whom has very different ideas.

87 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 5:52 am

Steersman sadly ever ploughing his lonely furrow,
Why does ev’rybody pick on him alone,
His face all screwed up and ridged with wurrow,
Don’t forget that help can be found on the telephone.

88 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 5:53 am

Can nobody even start to think of other people and put proper bloody links in? This is driving me potty.

89 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 6:02 am

OK, Gurdur. I’ll try not to. I only meant it in how I am almost certainly going to be siding with Stephanie Zvan in the opening statement instead of you, and I imagine that people who congregate at the Slymepit forum will be more likely to take your side of the opening statement.

90 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 7:15 am

Aratina Cage said (#83):

Steersman, I don’t understand. People’s feelings are subjective by definition. They are not something you can ethically just brush off as if they do not exist.

Nor are they trump. You have to make the case that the feelings in question outweigh the value provided in the hurting of them. Which I note you haven’t even attempted to do by, say, actually taking a look at those cartoons and deciding whether they constitute valid criticisms or not – as I’ve asked you to do. You do understand the concept of arguing in good faith, don’t you?

And relative to which I would strongly suggest you go back to Michael’s response to Justicar’s questions and review the discussion. (1)

However, in passing and relative to the question of “brushing off people’s feelings”, I seriously wonder how much consideration you, Benson, Myers, and others gave to the “feelings” of the religious when you all set out to savage their perceptions and values in the pursuit of your vaunted “principles” – which are actually looking a little tattered and threadbare these days ….

The fact is that Skepsheik’s web comic is causing the people it is aimed at and some bystanders to feel bad. The question is, is what Skepsheik is doing morally justifiable? I do not believe it is. I think that webcomic (and his whole “Skepsheik” persona, actually) is causing unjustifiable harm.

Once more since you seem slow on the uptake: in your fucking opinion. If you think it is “causing unjustifiable harm” then you have to prove that that is actually the case. Why in the fucking hell do you think that your opinions should carry the day? Bloody fucking arrogant if you ask me. The consensus of public opinion is that caricature is a valid expression of free speech – or maybe you don’t read any newspapers with political commentary – which those cartoons quite reasonably qualify as. When you can make a credible case here or in front of a judge then you can maybe expect to have them removed from public view. Until then you’re just blowing smoke ….

And, more importantly, many of the people Skepsheik’s web comic harms are not involved in these talks and have expressed their wish to not become involved or be coerced to be involved (by seeing or hearing about things said about them here which would tarnish their image or would compel them to respond). I do not think there was any benefit to bringing it up here, and actually I think it exacerbated the problem that these talks are supposed to relieve.

Oh well, I wish to have a million dollars deposited into my bank account tomorrow; get right on that will you? “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.”

But I find it rather amusing that Phil makes a single oblique reference to Skepsheik’s cartoons in this thread (#7) which Ophelia then uses as a point of departure and justification for publishing the entire set, apparently, of those cartoons (3). Seems to me that Ophelia is far more guilty of causing pain and suffering – “oh, the hurt” – both to herself and others shown in those cartoons than anybody else here.

—-
1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/22/how-do-we-evaluate-good-and-bad-and-hurtful-statements-a-response-to-justicar/comment-page-1/#comments”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/files/2013/03/atheistpeace.png”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue/”;

91 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 27, 2013 at 7:15 am

Aratina @89: You may be surprised. I know that if Stephanie has good points, I will agree and acknowledge them, and if Gurdur has bad points, I will disagree.

Of course, that’s just me, and we haven’t seen the opening statements yet…

92 Skepsheik March 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

Gurdur, my disquiet was about you being presented a spokesman or leader of one side. I have no problem with you as a participant. I agree that there are many different points of views in this debate and yours is certainly one. I just do not see that view as being particularly representative of the majority on ‘this side’ of the debate. That said, I don’t consider my own view as representative of the majority opinion either; perhaps we are both outliers – extremists, if you may!
As for the question of satire – I make no apology about using it. The idea that it should not involve living individuals is nonsense. I am a big fan of one of Michael’s satirical pieces, “I, Keano”, a musical comedy about current Irish personalities that makes anything I’ve done look positively mild. Ophelia is actually very lovingly portrayed in my webcartoons. As others have noticed, in each cartoon she is the voice of reason who inevitably gets disgusted by the antics or words (usually quoted verbatim) of those on her ‘side’.

93 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 27, 2013 at 8:41 am

Skepsheik:

As for the question of satire – I make no apology about using it

And neither should you. Some people will find it funny (as I do), some won’t (as Aratina does). That’s how humour, satire and parody work.

I think the comics are funny because they highlight some form of hypocrisy that has been going on at FTB (not general, just a few bloggers) for quite some time. If we have to talk about offense, who is the most offended? Ophelia, with her thousands* of followers, or Muslims, with their billions of followers?

Offense, like intent, is not magic…

*Approximate

94 Pogsurf March 27, 2013 at 8:50 am

I agree, the #FtBullies are very bigoted against trolls and sockpuppets, just like Wikipedia is. Wikipedia I can almost understand, because it affects their collective decision making structure, but Pharungula couldn’t make a decision to save its life, so why the prevalence of bullying?

95 Coel March 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

John C. Welch #76:

Exactly *why* should I have a picogram’s worth of charity for any of them? Because it seems to me that I’m on pretty stable ground in terms of what they think of me, so why should I be one iota kinder to them?

How about, because perhaps we should all try to be a bit better than those we perceive as our opponents, rather than allowing opponents to set our own standards?

96 Coel March 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

Aratina Cage 83#

The fact is that Skepsheik’s web comic is causing the people it is aimed at and some bystanders to feel bad. The question is, is what Skepsheik is doing morally justifiable? I do not believe it is.

Hmmm. OK, but quite a few posts at, say, Pharyngula seem to me to be deliberately calculated to make their targets “feel bad”. Indeed, that sort of post is the essence of PZ’s style. Are you saying that any post, either by FTB bloggers or by such as Skepsheik, that leads the people it is aimed at “to feel bad” is thus morally unjustifiable?

97 Klangos March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

“When PZ bans everyone from the pit, and then dares all who disagree with his views on feminism to post on his site, and when, obviously, none of us do, declares himself the winner and us cowards? Or when he says we are naught but cowardly versions of Marc Lepine?”

Honest question – why do you care? If FTB and PZ are the irrelevant laughing stocks ‘your side’ would have us believe, why does it matter what he says (free speech!) or that you can’t post on his blog?

I’m sure if I went to post pro-evolution statements on a creationist blog I’d get banned, but I wouldn’t care because I’m so convinced that creationism is stupid. (I wouldn’t bother to go there in the first place, even). You seem pretty convinced FTB is stupid. So why do you want to have this dialogue?

98 Iamcuriousblue March 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Re: Discussion of “harassment” starting at #30 – there’s the small matter that in Ophelia Benson’s latest guest post, the definition being used is lifted directly from *workplace* “hostile environment” rules that don’t even *remotely* apply to this situation. None of Benson’s critics share anything remotely analogous to a workplace situation with her. Benson is no “captive audience”, unless you count captive to one’s own self-googling.

In fact, unless anybody on either side can find any incident that rises to the level of legal defamation or non-workplace stalking/harassment laws (and, sorry, but being called a “bitch” on the internet doesn’t even come close), they should drop the eggregious legal claims.

99 Pitchguest March 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

About Skepsheik, I don’t see his comics as harassment. If you look at them, you’ll see Skep actually uses their own words to great effect. For example, the comic where PZ Myers says something about the cruel murder of a woman by shoving an octopus down her throat, choking her and killing her, but adding that the most unfortunate victim of all being the cephalopod, is his words verbatim.

I would also like to add that in Peezus and O, Ophelia Benson seems to be the voice of reason.

100 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Skepsheik:

As for the question of satire – I make no apology about using it. The idea that it should not involve living individuals is nonsense… [She] is actually very lovingly portrayed in my webcartoons. As others have noticed, in each cartoon she is the voice of reason who inevitably gets disgusted by the antics or words (usually quoted verbatim) of those on her ‘side’.

Are you going to say the same thing about the others? What about your depiction of Stephanie Zvan who is a party to these talks? Where do you, anonymous as you are and dedicated in your “Skepsheik” persona as you are, think the line should be drawn for what is acceptable and what is not with respect to the people you copy and paste into your web comic?

Besides, I’m quite sure that none of them feel the same way you do about it. Would you be willing to take a step back and look at it from the perspective of one of the people you use, without their permission and against their express wishes, in the web comic?

Steersman:

Nor are they trump.

That is a red herring! I never said that their emotions were a trump card. My point is that people have feelings regardless of how you feel about it or how logical you find a response to them.

You have to make the case that the feelings in question outweigh the value provided in the hurting of them.

Tell me, Steersman, what is the value of Skepsheik’s web comic?

taking a look at those cartoons and deciding whether they constitute valid criticisms or not

They do not. I saw them almost the day the Skepsheik blog (and persona, for that matter) was created and could tell from Day 1 that they were mean-spirited attacks (in my opinion).

You do understand the concept of arguing in good faith, don’t you?

Please be charitable to me.

If you think it is “causing unjustifiable harm” then you have to prove that that is actually the case.

The people whose faces are cut out and pasted onto that web comic have made it clear that it is hurtful to them; that is what matters right now.

the consensus of public opinion is that caricature is a valid expression of free speech

What about the moral justification for one’s “free speech”? Should we shrug our shoulders when the KKK hold a march through town? Should we pretend that the grieving families of dead soldiers are fine and dandy with the Westboro Baptist Church staging a bigoted rant up near the coffin at the funeral?

newspapers with political commentary – which those cartoons quite reasonably qualify as

With real people’s faces plastered into the web comic? And just because one comic or political cartoon is reasonable morally doesn’t mean another is.

Seems to me that [one of the people being targeted] is far more guilty of causing pain and suffering – “oh, the hurt” – both to herself and others shown in those cartoons than anybody else here.

How can you not see how infuriating it is to say something like that? Steersman, we need people to have more empathy for each other, not less, and that includes you. People ought not have to shrug off degradation of themselves or their friends. We should listen to the feelings of others and take them into account, not dismiss them so absolutely as that which you suggest.

Phil_Giordana_FCD:

And neither should you.

Actually, I think Skepsheik should.

Some people will find it funny (as I do), some won’t (as Aratina does).

That is not the point, Phil. The point is that it is hurtful to the people it targets, whose faces are being cut and pasted into it without their permission and being held up for … for what? To laugh at?

they highlight some form of hypocrisy that has been going on at FTB (not general, just a few bloggers) for quite some time.

So this is the value you see in them? That they lampoon what you find to be hypocrisy? Sounds like a cheap laugh to me, and not one that we need you to bring into this discussion.

If we have to talk about offense, who is the most offended? Ophelia, with her thousands* of followers, or Muslims, with their billions of followers?

Because Muhammad is real and alive today, right? And people like me think Ophelia is some damn prophet, right? Darnit, Phil. Is it possible for you to try to not escalate things even more in the future. I’m continually amazed at how uncaring your words have been.

Coel:

Pharyngula seem to me to be deliberately calculated to make their targets “feel bad”. Indeed, that sort of post is the essence of [Pharyngula] style.

No. Pharyngula doesn’t do that deliberately, though it has happened there. That is not the essence of the place or its host. I suggest you lurk there for a while to get a better sense of the place.

Are you saying that any post, either by FTB bloggers or by such as Skepsheik, that leads the people it is aimed at “to feel bad” is thus morally unjustifiable?

No, but Skepsheik’s web comics, it seems to me, are. Remember, FTB does not go after any particular person, neither does Pharyngula. Sometimes people do things that warrant critical, even scathing, posts at FTB or Pharyngula, but that is fleeting. FTB and Pharyngula lack the dedicated nature of Skepsheik’s web comics (and his persona).

101 Coel March 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Aratina Cage #100

No. Pharyngula doesn’t do that deliberately, though it has happened there. That is not the essence of the place or its host. I suggest you lurk there for a while to get a better sense of the place.

I’ve been reading Pharyngula for about 10 years and am quite familiar with it. I stick to my opinion that nowadays its hallmark style is quite deliberate attacks on people in a quite nasty vein, without regard to the feelings of those being attacked. This is also seen, though to a much lesser extent, on some other FTB blogs.

I can quite see that the “Peezus and O” cartoons (which I wasn’t aware of until this thread) might be considered hurtful by those depicted, but I fail to see why this is any worse than, for example, PZ’s habit of quoting anyone who he disagrees with surrounded by gumbys. As PZ himself says, Pharyngula is a deliberately rude blog.

Further, if anyone goes to Pharyngula and posts comments suggesting that Pharyngula should be more considerate and respectful of the feelings of those being attacked, you get laughed at and insulted, called a “tone troll”, a “butt hurt fan boi” and all sorts of things (and if you persist in saying such things you’d get banned).

Now, fine, if the general attitude on Pharyngula and FTB is that rudeness and not caring a damn about the feelings of those posted about is legitimate and acceptable (perhaps even laudable), then ok. But it seems to me hypocritical to then object about other people who post about FTB bloggers in the same fashion.

You have argued here that people should be considerate for the the feelings of those posted about (such as Ophelia Benson’s feelings). And I agree with you on that! Their feelings should and do matter! But please could you persuade FTB bloggers to adopt that same attitude towards people they critique? (Which is not in any way saying that they should not critique whoever they wish.)

102 oolon March 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

@John,

And let us not forget you and oolon’s little pet project on twitter, and the effect it has had on people not on twitter for 6-7 years with nigh-on 60,000 tweets. You have not a clean spot on your hands either in this arena, and please, if you are to talk about “charity” do not tell me you had no idea that it would result in people’s accounts being suspended.

You are flogging a bit of a dead horse there, the new bot has a lot more people using it than the old one. No one suspended has so far not come back – so even if it was the bots fault in anyway its not got rid of anyone. The overwhelming view is that someone needs to be reported for spam and blocked by someone they @’d. The bot does do this now -> #level1 and #spam is used for Renee’s stalker -> Even there with the bot AND all of Renee’s friends blocking there are stalker accounts still unsuspended. So much for the littering of Twitter with frozen peach as you seem to imply was the aim.

Its a useful resource for people wanting to ignore the rubbish, I’ve seen many on the Slymepit even mention they don’t like @ElevatorGate… Well @hashspamkiller is now using the list to filter out the crap going to #wiscfi at the moment. Powered by the block bot list :-)

103 Cian March 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Aratina:

Regarding this issue of “”harassment”” through cartoons of public bloggers like PZ Myers and Benson, by the same token do you think cartoons of politicians ( who are “real people” too, whether you like them or not ) mocking and satirizing their work should not be done?

I hope this is not a strawman, as the only conclusion I could come to beyond that is that you are resorting to special pleading for PZ and Benson et al ( ie … satire is fine, as long as I agree with it, or it is aimed at my opponent ). Special pleading is surely not befitting of a sceptic now is it?

Reading Ophelia Bensons post really made my heart sink. Not only has she jumped the shark and labeled caricature as “harassment” ( another word which to me is now quickly losing its meaning ) … but she is doing exactly what the Muslim zealots did with the Danish cartoons – brandishing them for all to see ( I had never seen these before so she is making sure more people see them ). Why is she drawing attention to this stuff if it is soooooo damaging??

In a way I am glad she is not making herself available for this dialogue because if this is the way she behaves all the time, does a sceptical movement really need her?

No sense of humour, childish attention and sympathy seeking, and a love for silencing dissent … yeah, that says “freethinker” to me :)

She must be jealous of the Indian authorities who have been clamping down on political cartoons of late.

104 Skepsheik March 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Aratina, dedicated?
You flatter me!
I haven’t done a single episode of Peezus and O for over five months!
In that time period you’ve tweeted exactly how many times about the slymepit?
Two, perhaps three thousand times is it? I haven’t the dedication to go and count.
Since the last Peezus and O I think I’ve managed about an average of one post a month, none of which mentioned Ophelia at all!
One of them was even targeting at Paul Elam at ‘A Voice for Men’ so it’s beyond silly for you of all people to act as if I’m obsessed!
As for the Stephanie Zvan episode, well, nice of you to ask!
I do warn you, however, that the act of explaining jokes tends to drain every last drop of humor out of them.
The cartoon, as some have spotted, is based on the movie ‘Total Recall'; specifically the scene where Douglas Quaid, played in the film by Arnold Swarzenegger, decides to have a memory implant holiday as a secret agent, but realizes, during the implant procedure, that he was, in fact, a secret agent in his past. In the P and O cartoon Stephanie decides to take a break from her current feminist activities and, similar to Quaid, finds out that her past was not quite as idealistic as her current behavior. The final frame of the cartoon reveals the title of Greg Ladens post “A private letter to salty current’, where Stephanies behavior in the comment section is somewhat removed from her current persona. The rather shameful accusations of anti-Semitism against Salty Current, as well as her silence in the face of Greg labeling Salty a ‘bitch’ is a far cry from Stephanies current attitude. At the time of making the cartoon I wasn’t sure whether to use that post or the ‘Are the Skepchicks too sexy?’ post – http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/01/22/are-the-skepchicks-too-sexy/ – the comment section of which has Stephanie supporting Greg as he tells a female commenter to “Get off the rag and kiss my ass”. Hardly the behavior of an ideal feminist, I must say.
And yet, Aratina, the use of Total Recall imagery should give you pause for thought. Remember, in that movie the ‘new’ Quaid repudiated the old Quaid.
You should view my cartoon as a message of hope.
Stephanies shameful behavior in the past was OF the past. She has changed.
No longer would she stand idly by while a fellow woman is described as the biggest bitch in the world. No longer would Gregs threat that Becca might get “slapped upside the head vigorously and in a very noticeable way” be described by Stephanie merely as “shock tactics”. Threats of violence should be treated seriously and if Greg had ever threatened someone with violence again after the Becca incident I’m sure Stephanie would put him in his place (and not, for example, simply raise an online toast to him as he got kicked off FTB for violently threatening a fellow blogger)
You see? It doesn’t even sound funny any more.
That’s why I hate explaining jokes.

105 Cian March 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Aratina said:”I only meant it in how I am almost certainly going to be siding with Stephanie Zvan in the opening statement instead of you”

For a sceptic to say such a thing before they can read either statement is a nice example where we have ended up :) Wow

106 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Coel:

You have argued here that people should be considerate for the the feelings of those posted about… And I agree with you on that! Their feelings should and do matter!

That’s great to hear! :)

could you persuade FTB bloggers to adopt that same attitude towards people they critique?

I might try if any of them decide to join these talks, but I don’t want anyone coerced into joining these talks by being badmouthed in the comments here (that’s why I don’t appreciate Phil bringing up that web comic–he didn’t have to do that). Certainly one of the bloggers from FTB who is being brought up here again and again against her will does already do that (consider other people’s feelings) and I cannot for the life of me think of why she keeps getting treated so badly. And Stephanie Zvan is going to be part of these talks, so maybe there will be some discussion with her in that area.

I’ve been reading Pharyngula for about 10 years and am quite familiar with it.

My mistake.

if anyone goes to Pharyngula and posts comments suggesting that Pharyngula should be more considerate and respectful of the feelings of those being attacked, you get laughed at and insulted, called a “tone troll”, a “butt hurt fan boi” and all sorts of things (and if you persist in saying such things you’d get banned).

Well, these days “butt hurt” is frowned on there since it is becoming used to insinuate anal rape more and more on the Internet than it is to mean getting paddled. And since “girl” is being scrutinized as sexist, “boi” and “boy” are also more than likely going to be dropped out of fairness. But still, though the gist is right, that is only Pharyngula. I don’t think that is true for any other blog on FTB, is it? All the rest either moderate or the blog host will intervene to stop big fights.

Pharyngula’s method promotes free expression but promises that bad ideas get trounced; tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression. But I don’t think Pharyngula encourages deep-seated hatred for any one person or group of people.

nowadays its hallmark style is quite deliberate attacks on people in a quite nasty vein, without regard to the feelings of those being attacked

There have been recent incidents of friendly fire, and not everyone there gets along, and sometimes people there who usually get along don’t get along on occasion in big ways, but that does not make such situations the way it always goes at Pharyngula. It’s quite the opposite, really. The people who comment regularly at Pharyngula are very caring, passionate people for the most part. I think the intensity of their passion may throw off new commenters at times, especially when the new commenter comes off as uncaring or throws out an ego-inflating insult and is greeted with a flood of criticism and KMAs.

107 Cian March 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Skepsheiks cartoon showing the hypocrisy of Myers over that Michelle Bachmann picture ( she’s from the Tea Party – not a real person I say!) is actually very good and funny ( in my opinion ). Hypocrisy has been the target of many a satirist down the years, and rightly so ( look at the Vatican – do a search for “vatican cartoons” ). And as someone pointed out above the Benson character come across as being the reasonable character.

But this is harassment in the FTB universe.

I presume none of them endorse South Park, The Colbert Report ( endlessly lampooning politicians, sorry harassing politicians ), Apres Match ( for the Irish here ), Have I got News for You, Brass Eye, I Keano ;) , Chapelles Show etc …

They must always be thinking of the person who is the target of the satirist. Hats off to them, this stance must be exhausting. There must not be much topical humour left available to them. But such is the life of a stoic FTB-ite!

108 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Cian:

For a sceptic to say such a thing before they can read either statement is a nice example where we have ended up Wow

While I do not appreciate the implication, I do not identify as a skeptic (or sceptic). That does not mean I do not have an open mind to new possibilities, however, and it doesn’t mean I lack curiosity. I guess it means that I am content as an atheist and that I believe there does come a time when it is safe to close the door on a question as much as one ought to close the door on the question of the existence of an orbiting teapot in the asteroid belt.

I have read both Gurdur and Zvan (more articles by Zvan, of course). I know whose opinions and ideas I am more likely to agree with, and thus I know which side I am on in this talk going in.

109 Gurdur March 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm

@ Aratina:
“… The people who comment regularly at Pharyngula are very caring, passionate people for the most part. …”

Perhaps we need a second opinion on that. Say from Julian, long-term FTB & Pharyngula supporter & commentor, who has never joined on the Slymepit site. Tell me, what would Julian say right now about your claims? And also tell me, why did so few — one person only — stand up for Julian? How goes the caring?

For those not in the know: Julian was banned from Pharyngula, for being “from the slimepit”. Only problem is, he isn’t at all. Not at all, and he was a longterm Pharyngula fan and supporter.

110 Coel March 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Aratina Cage #106

Pharyngula’s method promotes free expression but promises that bad ideas get trounced; tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression.

This is the heart of the problem. According to what you’ve just said, if someone — in that’s person’s opinion — considers another’s ideas to be bad, then they are relieved of any obligation to be nice to that person. So, if someone — in their own genuine opinion — considers a FTB/skepchick blogger to be “expressing bad ideas”, then, by your maxim, then it is ok for them to be very un-nice to that person and not care about their feelings in how they respond to them.

I suggest that we need a new maxim: even if you do think another person’s ideas are bad, you should *still* treat them with some degree of respect as a human being and still have some regard to their feelings when you respond to them.

What I would say to FTB bloggers is that if they want then moral high ground then they should adopt this towards those they disagree with and those they consider to be promoting bad ideas. I’d also say exactly the same to critics of FTB, if those critics want the moral high ground.

111 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Skepsheik, I don’t need you to explain your web comic to me. I got it the first time I laid eyes on it, really, and besides, your explanation does not convey the disparagement that your web comic bears on the people it depicts. I especially don’t need your explanation when it involves trotting out even more names of more people who have expressed publicly that they do not want to be part of these talks.

112 Coel March 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I especially don’t need your explanation when it involves trotting out even more names of more people who have expressed publicly that they do not want to be part of these talks.

Surely there is a difference between whether someone wishes to take part in these talks, and whether it is ok to discuss them in these talks? Afterall, people such as PZ and OB don’t ask someone before hand whether they want to be criticised in FTB posts, they take the attitude that they are free to post about whoever they wish (which they are).

113 Cian March 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Coels comment at 110 sums it up nicely for me.

I find it amazing that someone like Aratina ( sorry for saying you were a sceptic ( European spelling ) – clearly you are not ) can say …

“Pharyngula’s method promotes free expression but promises that bad ideas get trounced; tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression.”

… then denounce Skepsheiks “trouncing” of PZ Myers’ hypocrisy re Michelle Bachmann on the same page!

Skepsheik and many others see this blatant hypocrisy as “a bad idea” and mock it accordingly.

But Aratina wants it to be shut down as “harassment” – this not anti-free-expression apparently.

But on the same page she says “tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression.”

That is a whopper of a blind spot!

114 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Gurdur, your response is part of the problem I keep bringing up. That person is not here. By writing what you did, you are setting it up to compel him to defend himself should I or someone else say something about him that he would find distasteful or wrong. So, I won’t comment on it in a specific way except to say that I have a low tolerance for people treating other people badly and then expecting to be treated with the utmost respect themselves.

Coel:

This is the heart of the problem. According to what you’ve just said, if someone — in that’s person’s opinion — considers another’s ideas to be bad, then they are relieved of any obligation to be nice to that person.

They do not have to be nice on Pharyngula, no, but they can be! This makes a lot of sense to me considering that many of the bad ideas involve treating other people like garbage.

So, if someone — in their own genuine opinion — considers a FTB/skepchick blogger to be “expressing bad ideas”, then, by your maxim, then it is ok for them to be very un-nice to that person and not care about their feelings in how they respond to them.

I am fine with people being angry over bad ideas and with people being mean (up to a point) with someone spreading bad ideas. There is a line, though, or rather a bunch of lines, that ought not be crossed because they are not morally justifiable. As that pertains to the past, a very big line of mine personally was crossed with the formation of the slimepit.

I suggest that we need a new maxim: even if you do think another person’s ideas are bad, you should *still* treat them with some degree of respect as a human being and still have some regard to their feelings when you respond to them.

I really do agree with that for almost all cases. I think there are times when zero respect is called for (for instance, the late Jerry Falwell), but otherwise I agree. And I do try to practice that.

if they want then moral high ground then they should adopt this towards those they disagree with and those they consider to be promoting bad ideas.

I think for the most part, people at FTB already do that. Perhaps you are focusing too much on outliers–times when that ideal was not upheld in your eyes?

115 Aratina Cage March 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Coel and Cian:

Surely there is a difference between whether someone wishes to take part in these talks, and whether it is ok to discuss them in these talks?

Not here on what is supposed to be neutral ground, in my opinion.

Afterall, people … don’t ask someone before hand whether they want to be criticised in FTB posts, they take the attitude that they are free to post about whoever they wish (which they are).

On their own blogs, in their own spaces, yes. But not here. My beef is with you doing that here.

Aratina wants it to be shut down as “harassment” – this not anti-free-expression apparently.

Here. During these talks. Phil lit a fire bringing it up. He didn’t have to do that.

That is a whopper of a blind spot!

Please work on your ability to be charitable to me.

116 John Greg March 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Aratina says:

“Please work on your ability to be charitable to me.”

Aw, c’mon knock it off you disingenuous hypocrite. You’re not asking people to be charitable to you, you’re really asking people to:

1. Accept your voice as somehow representative of all of FfTB.
2. Accept your personal opinions as universal fact.
3. Accept what is either your egregious lack of understanding of satire, and/or your incredible hypocrisy regarding the use and purpose of satire as the “one true way”.
4. Stop disagreeing with you.

117 Cian March 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Aratina: 115

You are just displaying the style of authoritarianism that made me stop going to FTB ( a long time ago ). Why do you get to tell us what we can talk about here? This is not FTB.

Micheal can and does moderate the conversation.

What we were discussing is exquisitely relevant to this topic as one of the main players in this saga, Ophelia Benson, has announced from her Ivory Tower that she has no wish to engage in dialogue ( more’s the power to her, it is her choice ). But by showing those cartoons as evidence of harassment she opened up an avenue of discussion which you can see many of us feel strongly about.

Most people I know and converse with do not regard satire as “harassment”. It is the lifeblood of dissent. Dissent does not equal harassment!

How about showing some charity to Skepsheik? Or do you not have to? If not – please tell me why not

118 John Greg March 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Aratina, it has become clear to me that you are just trying a new tactic for trolling and derailing the conversation: endless empty bafflegab mixed with mewling whines for people to be more charitable to you and, it should be noted, a charitability that you do not give to others.

119 oolon March 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm

@cian,

Aratina said:”I only meant it in how I am almost certainly going to be siding with Stephanie Zvan in the opening statement instead of you”

For a sceptic to say such a thing before they can read either statement is a nice example where we have ended up Wow

Well it appears you don’t know what it means to be a sceptic… And I’d echo your sentiment of that being indicative of where we have ended up. It isn’t that you form no opinion or make no assumptions based on prior experience. If I was to say that I’d expect Deepak Chopras next statement on the validity of woo X will not be as persuasive as Richard Dawkins statement I’d not be being unsceptical. Quite the opposite in fact.

I’m also expecting to be on Stephanies “side” or at least to agree with her statement a lot more than Gurdurs. Having seen all his comments here packed to the gills with tu quoque and no substance I reckon his will make me laugh more though. So doubly “unsceptical” from me :-P

120 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Cian said (#113):

But on the same page she says “tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression.”

In passing and only as a point of reference, it seems that “Aratina” is a “he”, and his name is derived from some song, and is a contraction of “A rat in a Cage”.

That is a whopper of a blind spot!

Indeed. A black hole big enough to swallow a battleship; and with nary a burp to indicate its disappearance …. How’s that Biblical thing go again? Oh yea:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Methinks some were a little too hasty in throwing the baby out with the bathwater …. and have a serious deficiency in charity ….

121 loyalb March 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Pharyngula’s method promotes free expression but promises that bad ideas get trounced;

Not really. Anybody can be a jerk, and most people can be clever about it. Ann Coulter has made a good living doing it, but it doesn’t make her right about anything, or a good model to follow.

To really trounce an idea, you have to engage the strongest arguments for that idea. Pharyngula’s moderation policy makes that flatly impossible. A good lawyer can see the best arguments for both sides of an argument. Problem is, none of us are good lawyers. We need the loyal opposition to test our ideas.

tone trolling (telling people to be nice to people expressing bad ideas or to be nice to people behaving badly) is anti-free-expression.

Going down that rabbit hole…:

Not being nice to people is a bad idea and bad behavior therefore you can not-be-nice and behave badly to not-nice people who behave badly therefore you are a not-nice person who is behaving badly.

To me, the issue isn’t that folks at pharyngula aren’t nice. I don’t care about that, and neither does most of society. It’s whether they’re fair to controversial ideas. They’re not. For such a prominent faction of our community*, we should expect better.

I support pharyngula’s right to be as dickish as they want. Ditto the Slymepit. The difference being that at least the Slymepit aren’t hypocrites about it, i.e. they can throw a punch and they can take a punch.

*googling “atheist blogs” “atheism” e.g. didn’t put any FTB on the first page. Maybe I’m being too charitable about their influence.

122 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I once drank some punch. Not bad, but nothing to get carried on about…

123 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Cian said (#103):

Reading Ophelia Bensons post really made my heart sink. Not only has she jumped the shark and labeled caricature as “harassment” (another word which to me is now quickly losing its meaning) ….

“Jumped the shark”, indeed. Which she has compounded by writing a further blog post (1) on aspects of this discussion so that it seems just a little disingenuous of anyone to insist that she does “not want to be part of these talks”. Particularly in light of the fact that she has added 2 trackbacks to this thread [“Hello Ophelia; you might want to put in an appearance as the water isn’t that hot. Or are you and the rest of FTB/Skepchick crowd going to oblige Aratina to carry the can for you?”].

However, in light of the facts that she is part of these talks, directly or indirectly, and that she has made a highly questionable assertion – less charitable individuals might suggest it bears some resemblances to Papal encyclicals, and that many of us commenting here are banned there, I think it worthwhile to address her assertions, her ipse dixit:

Now look here. Politicians get caricatured. There’s a long and glorious tradition of caricaturing politicians. Right? Right.

Therefore, bloggers should get caricatured too. It’s the same thing, after all – being a politician and being a blogger.

Or is it?

No, actually. It’s not. Being a blogger isn’t the same as being a politician.

For a starter, where does it say that caricatures can only be directed at politicians? The Wikipedia article (2) indicates that it is applied to “movie stars”, and that “Honoré Daumier is considered by some to be the father of caricature [and created thousands of] caricatures on political, social, and everyday themes”.

In addition, that looks rather like a categorical assertion: who says that bloggers can’t also be politicians, in fact or in effect? And while none of the Freethought bloggers are, apparently, explicitly in the “business of government” (3), one might also note that in a democracy the business of government is something that we are all part of, some more so than others. And considering that many of those FT bloggers are presenting themselves as the shapers and directors of public opinion which supposedly have some effect on political values and policies, one might also reasonably argue that they are presenting themselves, and acting, in effect, as politicians.

And, in passing, I note that PZ Myers has recently commented on Ophelia’s post by kvetching that “the words coming out of our photoshopped faces are nothing we’ve ever said”. While I expect most will readily concede that not all of the words put into their mouths were things they’ve actually said, my impression is that salient ones have been – notably Myers’ own “It works, bitches!”. PZ Myers, misogynist extraordinaire ….


1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/this-thing-is-not-like-the-other”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caricature”;
3) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politician”;

124 Cian March 27, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Cheers Steersman. I have just read her blog post. Wonder why she could not comment here and put me straight? I don’t have fangs :)

She could have explained to me why it is okay to lampoon Michelle Bachmann ( I actually think it is okay ) and not herself.

I never said that bloggers were the same as politicians, but both put out their ideas in the market place and are open to ridicule or praise.

Bill O’Reilly isn’t a politician – can he not be caricatured or satirized? Has this never been done over at the FTB citadel?

And she again shows the cartoon. Why does she keep showing the cartoon if it so hurtful? And anyway the cartoon makes PZ out to be silly and not her – she comes out of it as looking rational.

I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t understand her and am not sensitive enough to her plight, but I honestly had never sen these cartons until she started brandishing them. Did someone mention the Danish Cartoons?

125 Cian March 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm

And as Ophelia seems to be reading these comments I want to say that Ophelia contributed to one of the best books I read recently – Nick Cohens “You Can’t Read This Book” … and I don’t doubt that her contributions were important, and I thank her for that.

But I find the attitude to dissent on FTB at odds with the spirit of that book.

126 Submariner March 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

@ Cian #124

“…I honestly had never sen these cartons until she started brandishing them.”

As a relative newcomer to all things atheisty, I had also never seen the cartoons and likely would not have bothered to try my google-foo to find them.
For someone so harassed by them, (named person) certainly seems to be making a point to get them seen by as many people as (named person) can reach. This seems rather counter-intuitive, as in my experience, most people try to distance themselves from truly hurtful things.

The discongruence between the action taken by (named person) and the observed action of other people when presented with a hurtful stimulus, could lead one to doubt the veracity of the actual pain experienced.
Please note: I’m not calling (named person) dishonest, just opining that some people could see it that way.
As for me personally, I would not re-post things which truly hurt me on my own blog or YT channel.

127 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Cian said (#124):

Cheers Steersman.

Cheers, Cian. :-)

I have just read her blog post. Wonder why she could not comment here and put me straight? I don’t have fangs. :-)

Fear of cooties, I think; too many of those odious “slymepitters” running amok. But kind of surprising in a way that, apparently, the only one from that crowd with any balls to actually debate the issues here has been Aratina, and to a lesser extent Oolon as he, with some justification, takes a bit of a position on the fence.

I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t understand her and am not sensitive enough to her plight, but I honestly had never seen these cartons until she started brandishing them. Did someone mention the Danish Cartoons?

Not sure myself, although I think that it might be because, in part, some in the Pit have targeted her and other FT bloggers with some cheap shots. But I don’t think the proximate cause was the Danish cartoons; I think it was the fact that Skepsheik showed up and Phil Giordana (“true friend of Charles Darwin”) gave him a thumbs-up for his cartoons in post #7. And it was that simple en passant observation that triggered Benson’s subsequent publishing of the entire set, apparently, of those cartoons. Talk about collateral damage, and shooting oneself in the foot ….

128 Cian March 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

My mentioning of the Danish cartoons was in relation to the fact that the majority of western magazines/newspapers refused to show them. What gave them attention and notoriety was when 2 months after the fact an Egyptian newspaper published them during Ramadan – to make sure offence occurred.

Indeed the only way tv stations felt safe in showing the cartoons was by showing Muslim clerics displaying them. I just thought that the parallel was clear. I doubted their offence then, I doubt the offence now.

I don’t even think it is shooting oneself in the foot because the cartoons ( the only ones I have seen on Ophelia’s blog ) don’t tear her apart – she is the voice of reason in each one. And as for mocking her face, all I can see is a pair of glasses … Am I wrong about this?

129 John C. Welch March 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Coel @ 95:

I agree with the principle of your statement, but, given that so many of FTB et al are deep into the “it’s okay when I do it” hypocrisy, I find it a bit unreasonable to be asked to, once again, live up to a standard they not only refuse to live up to themselves, but voluminously defend why the rules they insist on never apply to them.

So at this point, if they wish MY behavior to change, they shall have to first show me that they are following their own standards. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

klangos @97:

Honest question – why do you care? If FTB and PZ are the irrelevant laughing stocks ‘your side’ would have us believe, why does it matter what he says (free speech!) or that you can’t post on his blog?

Well, i’ve tried to point out to people that if the things said in the ‘pit bother them so, DON’T READ THE ARSING THING. You know, what you just said I should do.

I know this will seem odd to you, but for some reason, that particular piece of advice is never seen as an option there. HOW does that work?

130 WootheReaper March 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Klangos, you may take them as complete slacktivists who only write on their blogs but that’s not totally true… they go out in public with this stuff. They’re abusive to others. And as for me, even if a racist or sexist was talking online about their stupid views I wouldn’t like it. This goes for anyone performing sour judgments… even if slut shamers for example, did not shame sluts right in my face or say anything *to* the “sluts” they judge, I wouldn’t approve. Same goes for… anything really. And I’m not just the only one who cares also about things that don’t directly affect me (although I must say, I’ve taken a beating on A+ and I’m pretty upset about how I was treated there… never been twisted, scrutinized, and judged so much in my life.. and then when I was sharing a Safe Space moment, a moderator stabbed me in the fucking back with their mixed-race prejudice. *cough* ceepolk *cough*)

131 Steersman March 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Cian said (#128):

Indeed the only way tv stations felt safe in showing the cartoons was by showing Muslim clerics displaying them. I just thought that the parallel was clear. I doubted their offence then, I doubt the offence now.

I hadn’t really been doing much kibitzing on the net at that time so I didn’t see much if anything of that process. But a good analogy, and I think there’s more than a little justification for your conclusion in both cases – too many similarities with self-serving crocodile tears.

I don’t even think it is shooting oneself in the foot because the cartoons ( the only ones I have seen on Ophelia’s blog ) don’t tear her apart – she is the voice of reason in each one. And as for mocking her face, all I can see is a pair of glasses … Am I wrong about this?

“Shooting herself in the foot” I think because the publishing shows, arguably, that the claims of harassment are not all that credible. But I’m not sure that I would agree with the “voice of reason” part as she doesn’t seem to have many lines, although she is, apparently, the model for the barmaid in the somewhat analogous Jesus and Mo cartoons where that might be more appropriate. But I think the expression on her face – sardonic, exasperated, skeptical; something she more or less conceded in a post of hers I remember reading sometime back – would seem to be a perfect fit as the judge and jury if not executioner for some of the various shenanigans on the FfTB network. However while that photograph might have been photoshopped to some slight extent, it seems to be essentially the same as the one in her Wikipedia entry (1).

But I wonder whether she and they would be complaining just as loudly if Skepsheik had replaced their faces and bodies with the type of computer generated cartoon characters described in that article (2) on caricatures. Methinks the cries of harassment are due more to a recognition that there is some truth to, some justification for the implied criticisms.


1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia_Benson”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caricature#Computerized_caricature”;

132 Cian March 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Kibitzing – what a great word, wish that was part of my lexicon :)

I get what you are saying Steersman re my point on the “voice of reason”, I suppose I should have said “voice of scepticism” in the cartoon, as her character is admonishing PZ for his silly ideas. I just can’t see how she would be so hurt by it. If PZ was hurt, it would make more sense – I don’t know if he is, or if he is also showing these cartoons on his blog too ( its possible ). But I genuinely don’t see how she could feel so damaged by these cartoons. Which makes ( in my fallible opinion ) it weak as an example of “harassment”.

I really don’t want to upset anyone on that side, that’s a pointless exercise. But if she really does think they are damaging cartoons, you’re correct in saying she is shooting herself in the foot, I can’t understand why she would draw attention to them.

In my experience people who have felt personal offence to some slight have either confronted those who made the offence or ignored it – not highlight it.

Thanks for that link on computerized caricatures by the way, I’m a designer who still does portraits and ( the odd time ) caricatures ( usually for cards or parties ) and usually all it takes is the exaggeration of one prominent facial feature or a visual representation of a characteristic to make it a caricature … ie if they are studious – make the glasses prominent, if they like a drink, stick a pint in there hand etc ..

I wish she could tell us why she feels so hurt by these cartoons. I might understand her then

133 Gurdur March 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

@ Aratina: “… I have a low tolerance for people treating other people badly and then expecting to be treated with the utmost respect themselves.”

Really? Pardon my doubt, or don’t, but I find your claim more than dubious. Can you show me where you stood up for EllenBeth Wachs against unfair slurs upon her, when Julian did so? Can you show me where you stood up for Julian when he got slurred in his turn? Can you show me anywhere like that, where you have stood up against unfair slurs despite disagreeing with the slurred person?

Your alleged lack of patience does not impress at all, not until you can actually show what you claim. Ditto with the other claims.

134 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 12:06 am

Cian said (#132):

Kibitzing – what a great word, wish that was part of my lexicon. :-)

I know; one of those words that one kind of rolls around on the tongue like a fine wine. But use it three times and it’s yours. :-)

Thanks for that link on computerized caricatures by the way, I’m a designer who still does portraits and ( the odd time ) caricature ….

My pleasure; don’t know if you noticed it or not but there was some interesting neurophysiology on the possible reasons for the why of caricatures in that article ….

I wish she could tell us why she feels so hurt by these cartoons. I might understand her then.

You might ask her that yourself, partly because she has banned me there. Particularly in light of this recent comment (1) of hers:

The pitters are increasing the bullying of me on Michael’s blog – you know – “haw haw haw, she says she refuses to participate but look, she’s posting about it on her blog, haw haw haw, why doesn’t she come along and talk here, we don’t bite, haw haw haw”

Thanks a fuck of a lot, Michael.

See, criticism is “bullying” and “harassment”. As mentioned, I think part of the problem is, somewhat justifiably, a last-straw-and-camel thing, but one would think that skeptics would be able to differentiate between those very different motivations ….

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/this-thing-is-not-like-the-other/#comment-512752”;

135 Gurdur March 28, 2013 at 12:07 am

Cian makes a very good comment at #125. Well-said.

136 Iamcuriousblue March 28, 2013 at 12:19 am

Arantina @ 106:

“The people who comment regularly at Pharyngula are very caring, passionate people for the most part. I think the intensity of their passion may throw off new commenters at times,”

“Intensely passionate” is one way of looking at it, “fanatical” would be another, and tends to be my view. The comments by people like LeftSidePositive and Lord Setar in this thread from the other day just confirm this:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/26/engaging-in-dialog/

I’ll just say at the outset that I have no interest in dialogue or peacemaking at all with those of that ilk. They see people like me as mini-Pinochets (never mind that I’m nowhere even close to conservative, nor are most ‘pitters), and I pretty much see them as neo-Red Guards.

That said, I don’t completely write of the idea of peacemaking. There’s a good deal too much polarization and bridges that have been burnt between reasonable people in this war. But I will not play nice with those who are genuine fanatics and will not stand for what they are trying to do to the secular community.

137 Cian March 28, 2013 at 1:02 am

Thank you Gurdur @ #134

I genuinely appreciate Ophelia Benson’s work in helping that book come about. A brilliant book – one which I have passed on to as many of my friends as I can ( especially the Wikileaks supporters ). And for her to be involved in such a quality book speaks to her seriousness on these matters … fair play to her, I cannot take that way from her.

But I can’t align her blog persona with this book – they are totally at odds. I would love to hear her in a “point-counter-point” dialogue, without all these commenters ( me included ). I’m sure I could learn from Ophelia, but her blog posts and commenters don’t offer much discussion …

138 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 1:06 am

Cian said (#132):

[Edit & repost because previous is still in moderation]

Kibitzing – what a great word, wish that was part of my lexicon. :-)

I know; one of those words that one kind of rolls around on the tongue like a fine wine. But use it three times and it’s yours. :-)

Thanks for that link on computerized caricatures by the way, I’m a designer who still does portraits and ( the odd time ) caricature ….

My pleasure; don’t know if you noticed it or not but there was some interesting neurophysiology on the possible reasons for the why of caricatures in that article ….

I wish she could tell us why she feels so hurt by these cartoons. I might understand her then.

You might ask her that yourself, partly because she has banned me there. Particularly in light of this recent comment (1) of hers:

The pitters are increasing the b*** of me on Michael’s blog – you know – “haw haw haw, she says she refuses to participate but look, she’s posting about it on her blog, haw haw haw, why doesn’t she come along and talk here, we don’t bite, haw haw haw”

Thanks a fuck of a lot, Michael.

See, criticism is “b***” and “harassment”. As mentioned, I think part of the problem is, somewhat justifiably, a last-straw-and-camel thing, but one would think that skeptics would be able to differentiate between those very different motivations ….

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/this-thing-is-not-like-the-other/#comment-512752”;

139 Cian March 28, 2013 at 1:38 am

Kibitzing x 3 – its mine! :)

I might offer you “bualtrach”,it might just spice up your vocab … its a word that unfortunately is all to usable in these conversations.

Its the Gaelic for “buffalo chips” :)

140 J. J. Ramsey March 28, 2013 at 2:15 am

Aratina Cage:

What about the moral justification for one’s “free speech”? Should we shrug our shoulders when the KKK hold a march through town? Should we pretend that the grieving families of dead soldiers are fine and dandy with the Westboro Baptist Church staging a bigoted rant up near the coffin at the funeral?

Let me remind you of the case of the Skokie Affair, which made clear that in the U.S., even SOBs like the KKK and the WBC have the right to free speech, so long as they keep it peaceful. I know, I know, that doesn’t cover our blog host’s neck of the woods. But anyway, I think the U.S. Supreme Court got it right, here. One can counter the KKK and the WBC’s free speech with more free speech, and that has been done many times over, to the point that both hate groups aren’t taken as being serious people. Heck, the WBC’s even been Rickrolled.

141 Iamcuriousblue March 28, 2013 at 3:18 am

J. J. Ramsey @ #140 – To be fair to Aratina Cage, what she very well might have meant is that, indeed, neo-Nazis, KKK, WBC, etc have free speech rights, but that doesn’t one can’t rebuke them in the strongest possible terms, which is the other side of free speech, after all.

Of course, like many, I find the Pharyngulites inconsistent on free speech, ranging from the perfectly reasonable position outlined above (albeit, often expressed in a hostile way – it is Pharyngula, after all) and one that’s more fundamentally dismissive to the entire concept of free speech.

142 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 4:34 am

WootheReaper said (#130):

Klangos, you may take them as complete slacktivists who only write on their blogs but that’s not totally true… they go out in public with this stuff.

Good post, Woo; took the words right out of my mouth – more or less. I seem to recollect PZ saying something to the effect that Pharyngula or the entire network gets over a million page-hits a month so that at least suggests a fair number of people have their opinions and values shaped or affected by what is said there. In addition several of them have been speakers at various conferences where they have further opportunities to “battle for the hearts and minds” of the attendees.

And if that is the case, and if there are some serious ethical, and logical errors in what is being peddled there then I think everyone has an obligation to at least raise a voice in protest.

But, in passing and partly out of curiousity, you have a link to that AtheismPlus thread? Another rather problematic website that seems to be doing more harm than good.

143 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 5:26 am

Yeah Steersman. In a slurry of emotion, I had Submor agree to delete the thread (that motherfucker was glad to agree to do THAT…) so that no one else could comment with their mixed-race prejudices against me, but I captured it.

http://apintrom.blogspot.com/2012/12/what-did-happen-if-reference-is-ever.html

Ceepolk reacted in a shit way. Even The Laughing Coyote said so behind closed doors. You know, that abusive bastard I used to be friends with? It’s pretty clear that the only reason ceepolk assumes I’m radiating some sort of racist white identifying attitude and “provoking” people “in the black community” to bully me is because I said I was mixed… there is no other reason she could have picked on besides that one. I’ve seen it before. Mixed person talking normal on the phone – “she sounds white” bla bla bla.. everyone else talks normal on the phone… they aren’t told that. Mixed person called names like “white bitch” and picked on for phenotype by black people… she must be inviting it with her secret white superiority radiation. Man, fuck ceepolk. I hate her.

144 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 5:26 am

Just because you see those silly mixeds on TV talking about not being comfortable with their “blackness” doesn’t mean you get to victim blame every mixed person you see being picked on for “being white.”

145 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 5:31 am

On the Laughing Coyote… I still cannot believe he’s an A+er. I go to a network he used to go to and troll on – some say he was alright, others say he was a complete trolly asshole… he said he used to be a misogynistic asshole (not really… but maybe my scale is off since I’ve seen some pretty crazy misogyny over at mgtow… misogyny that’ll make you cry. Or me.)… Sorry, I’m just going on about how shocked I am at him. Anyway, I googled his name out of curiousity…

funny, he sounds exactly the same today as he did years ago in terms of how he spoke, with what hatred and vigor he spoke, but it was just about things like bullies, jocks, cliques, people not believing in God (LOL, CUJO as a Christian!!! hilarious), and I think women being judgmental. He’s just transitioned into a new type of hateful asshole (not that hating on bullies isn’t the understandable part.)

Oh, CUJO was his name on the networks by the way. I’ve been used to thinking of him as CUJO til these last FTB/A+ months.

146 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 8:32 am

Aratina Cage said (#100):

Nor are they trump.

That is a red herring! I never said that their emotions were a trump card. My point is that people have feelings regardless of how you feel about it or how logical you find a response to them.

Yes, of course, you didn’t explicitly say they were a trump card; that was my characterization, my analogous statement, of what I think you’re trying to do – and which I still think is an entirely accurate one. But you keep insisting, repeatedly and uncharitably, that those rather nebulous “feelings” should still somehow override any other considerations as to the value of the statements, their truth and accuracy, that have supposedly caused those feelings without making the slightest effort to show how and why – to provide evidence and proof – that that is the case. Which – apart from the fact that that is the very antithesis of the skeptical principles of evidence and critical thinking, and which thereby constitutes some decidedly egregious and odious anti-intellectualism – is the substance of the definition (1) of trump, i.e. “a decisive overriding factor or final resource”. You’re going to have a tough sale trying to peddle that “feelings” schlock.

Tell me, Steersman, what is the value of Skepsheik’s web comic?

While I think that is easier said than done since, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words – as indicated by Skepsheik’s lengthy explanation for one (#104), I think that they generally, some more than others, point to some very problematic attitudes and values undergirding several of the Freethought blogs and bloggers. But, as an example, consider the last one in the set published by Benson (2) which features Michelle Bachmann eating a “corndog”, in which there are several panels that point to, highlight, emphasize, and exaggerate [aka caricaturize] several problematic FfTB values and behaviours.

And first off is the top panel where PZ Myers’ says “It works, bitches!” which is, in point of manifest fact (3), something that he actually had as the title of one of his ScienceBlog posts. And that word – “bitches” – is deemed by many feminists to be tantamount to a declaration of misogyny for which Myers should, by rights, if the feminists he consorts with had an ounce of integrity, be roundly condemned and ridden out of town on a rail. So, it would seem that if Myers isn’t to be tagged, quite justifiably, with the judgment “hypocrite”, then he either has to repudiate that statement – maybe fall on his sword in the front of RadFem Party Headquarters – or concede the point made by many including the Pit that the use of such words is not, ipso facto, sexist, and that those using them are not thereby sexists and misognyists.

And now consider the second panel where Benson asks “Declare a fatwa?” as a response to Myers’ question about what to do with those who “mock FTB with cartoons”. Which seems entirely consistent with the fact (4), as a typical instance of many, that Myers has banned all Slymepitters simply because of them posting anything there – or even visiting as in the recent case with Julian that Gurdur referenced above. Looks to me to be rather analogous to the fatwa issued by the Ayatollah against Rushdie for questioning Islamic dogma.

And thirdly, Myers is squawking in the first panel about “mocking with cartoons” yet the last panel points to the fact that he also published a decidedly sexist cartoon – at least in the interpretations on many on Pharyngula – of Bachmann, and which was then a case of him doing exactly the same thing that he was raking others over the coals for in the first one – the very definition of hypocrisy. Not a particularly good recommendation as to FTB integrity, or to their suitability as shakers and movers in the atheist/skeptic movements.

They do not [have any value]. I saw them almost the day the Skepsheik blog (and persona, for that matter) was created and could tell from Day 1 that they were mean-spirited attacks (in my opinion).

Well I’m glad we agree at least on that point, that it is only your opinion that they were “mean-spirited attacks”. If you want to get off that rather thin dime then you’re going to have to provide an argument, some evidence, that that is all they are, that there is no justification for them. You could start with a specific response to the above argument.

Please be charitable to me.

That’s a two-way street, and I, and others, have yet to see you give any evidence that you, and other Freethought bloggers and commenters – with the possible exception of Stephanie Zvan, are willing or able to walk it. While I will readily concede that you’re to be commended for at least engaging here – in notable contradistinction to most of the gutless wonders on FreethoughtBlogs and related sites, the fact is that more than a few here, myself included, have, I think, quite charitably attempted to address your arguments by presenting the case against them, but you have generally yet to give any serious consideration to them or to address the points raised.

The people whose faces are cut out and pasted onto that web comic have made it clear that it is hurtful to them; that is what matters right now.

Hate to break it to you, but a great many other people think that the integrity and credibility of many Freethought bloggers, and the “principles” they espouse is substantially more important than the highly questionable “feelings” of a few individuals. That you continue to insist that the latter trump the former suggests, to be charitable to a fault, that your intellectual honesty is highly suspect. I would say that if you want to disabuse the many who hold that or similar opinions of them then you and the rest of your cohort are going to have to pick up your game.

—–
1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trump”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/dedicated-dialogue”;
3) “_http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/07/it-works-bitches/”;
4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;

147 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 9:00 am

Well done Steersman, it looks like you’ve just submitted your first doctoral thesis, even if none of the links actually work.

148 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:15 am

Pogsurf: the links work for me. Just remove the quote marks and the underscroll at the beginning and end of the links.

BTW, I think this conversation is being derailed by my mentioning those cartoons. I was just trying to acknowledge Skepcsheik’s work, because I like it. Maybe let’s move on?

149 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

Thanks – maybe you can be my advisor and review it for factual and logical correctness? These are, I think, decidedly complicated issues – a large part of the reason for these “rifts” – and it doesn’t do anyone any good to try to sweep the details under the carpets. Proverbs (1:22) has something that is probably appropos:

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

But you’re congenitally incapable of copying the links to another browser page, editing out the extraneous characters, and hitting “Enter”?

150 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

#148 I use Internet 3.1, looks like you are still using the old pre-HTML stuff. I admire your commitment to historicity, but urge you to embrace modernity for the sake of the readership here. If we were to go down your route, posting on one without embellishments would better in any case, far less fiddly:

http://pogsurf.blogspot.com/

Thus. It’s almost as if Tim Berners-Lee were never born.

151 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

And I told you before that more than 2 links puts the posts into moderation.

152 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:28 am

More than two links in a post will get you moderated here. As for this whole HTML stuff, I don’t understand. I’m still posting from my 5th grade calculator.

153 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

Oh, ok, great minds think alike. We, on the other hand, posted at the same time…

154 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 9:33 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD said (#148):

BTW, I think this conversation is being derailed by my mentioning those cartoons. I was just trying to acknowledge Skepsheik’s work, because I like it. Maybe let’s move on?

Maybe. Although I think it provides a bit of a warm-up before the final event, the actual discussion of the items on Michael’s agenda.

However, I think it has a more important value in illustrating the very different perspectives in play and in contention. On the one hand we have Aratina and Ophelia exemplifying the argument that “feelings” should be trump while I think that Justicar, with the questions he raised and that Michael responded to with a separate post, quite reasonably exemplifies the more skeptical position that weighs those in the balance with other values that might, depending on circumstances, be more important.

155 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 9:40 am

Better to just say you’ve put the footnotes on your own blog. Let’s get professional here.

Does explain why one of my comments got modded recently. I was curious at the time, but I always thought the answer would come to me at some stage.

I think the rule is an anti-spamming one, not an exercise in anti-intellectualism.

156 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

Pogsurf:

“I think the rule is an anti-spamming one, not an exercise in anti-intellectualism.”

I don’t think anyone ever said that it was. Michael may even have commented on this. He seems to be having a bit of troubles with his mod bot.

157 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:51 am
158 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 9:51 am

Yup, just tried posting Steers’ links directly: moderated. Not Michael’s fault, I think.

159 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

It’s nobodies fault, it’s just the way Michael likes to run his blog.

Earlier I was being a bit sarky. Huge long comments are all well and good, but not everyone has the time to read them. It’s easier for all concerned if you make a summary of your point here, and refer those that want all the gory details to look elsewhere. If you want to put tons of links in you have to be prepared to wait for someone to check it over.

There’s no great rush to get this job done, so I’d say if you want links, make ‘em proper ones. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who apologised for writing such a long letter, because he didn’t have the time to write a short one?

160 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

Steers gets shit most of the time at the Slymepit for being long-winded. It’s almost become a running joke.

But he makes his point, all the same. Sometimes.

161 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 10:21 am

BTW three different people from here used the link I dropped to explain how to write HREF comments for an anchor in HTML. So I’m glad to have helped them.

I’ve looked in the Slymepit once or twice, but it make no sense to me. I’m glad there is such a place, however, because it saves me having to deal with the nasty creature who live there. Childish people should have a place to play.

162 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

Very, very childish. Infantile, even. But not demote of critical thinking, scepticism, or wit.

Each to their own, I think I’ve said before.

But “nasty creatures”? That’s going a bit too far, I find. At least for the sake of this dialogue. Those people are humans too, you know?

163 Pogsurf March 28, 2013 at 11:01 am

No they’re not, they are just vile scum. Stoning to death is too good for them!

164 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

Hyperboles can be fun, but they have to be funny in the first place.

165 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 11:22 am

Ok, I may have just been troll-baited. My bad.

166 Coel March 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

Aratina Cage #115

Dear Aratina,
In the interests of dialog, and since this seems to be an issue, I am willing to voluntarily minimise mentions of people who have stated that they don’t wish to be involved in Michael’s talks.

I am, though, genuinely perplexed. Do you really consider that anything in this thread amounts of “bullying”, “harassment” or “cruelty” towards a certain B&W blogger (all words that have been used about this thread on B&W)?

Because, it seems to me that anything on this thread (moderated by Michael, who seems to me sympathetic to the FTB stance on most issues), is very mild compared to — to take one example — the vitriol and nastiness directed at Michael Shermer by commenters on B&W and other FTB threads. Is that sort of thing “harassment” and “bullying” and “cruelty” towards Shermer? If not, why the blatant double standard?

I say this as someone who has read Pharyngula for 10 years, and who for most of that time regarded myself as a big fan of Pharyngula and its attitudes, but who has now drifted away from it and from FTB owing to the now pervasive nastiness there towards anyone not in the in-group (an increasingly narrowly defined in-group), coupled with what appears to me blatant double standards of the sort I’ve just pointed to.

I don’t ask this out of any animosity to FTB bloggers or commenters (most of whom I respect and whose basic attitudes I fully agree with), but more out of sadness and bafflement for how things currently are.

As I say, this comes from someone who was until relatively recently a fan of Pharyngula (and who has never been a member of or posted on A+, Skepchick, ERV or the Slymepit — these days I mostly hang out on WEIT, where everyone is nice to each other).

167 tina March 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

@163

You supply the gear and I’ll stone myself to death.

168 Edward Gemmer March 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I am quite attracted to the social justice ideas promoted at these places, but until there is a good faith effort to discuss and promote them without stirring up a bunch of hate, they are going to be failures. My hope is these talks encourage more understanding and appreciation of the diverse array of people and thought out there. There is no one right way to be an atheist (or a person).

169 Michael Kingsford Gray March 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 10:39 am
Very, very childish. Infantile, even. But not demote of critical thinking, scepticism, or wit.

But demotic it is… as is all trolling, whether rendered as a feeble art-form or not.

Coel March 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

Aratina Cage #115

I say this as someone who has read Pharyngula for 10 years, and who for most of that time regarded myself as a big fan of Pharyngula and its attitudes, but who has now drifted away from it and from FTB owing to the now pervasive nastiness there towards anyone not in the in-group (an increasingly narrowly defined in-group), coupled with what appears to me blatant double standards of the sort I’ve just pointed to.

Nota Bene, Mr. Nugent.
Attende Domine, communis est querela.

170 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

MKG: being contrarian again!

I was first introduced to the term “demotic” while studying ancient Egyptian. That was, like, 15 to 20 years ago, I think.

Since then, the only time I’ve used that word (or its derivations) was here, at Michael’s.

In other words: what the hell was I trying to say? No idea!

Snefo n srente n hooni!

171 Michael Kingsford Gray March 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm
Snefo n srente n hooni!

Sedjm ef!
(“The man speaks”, if I remember my ancient Egyptian from eons past.)
“Snefo n srente n hooni!” sounds a bit rude.
Ooh, do stop monkeying about, and please stop insulting Nugent’s guests.
Baulk like an Egyptian…

172 Michael Kingsford Gray March 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm

No! I am incorrect:
sdjm f” is “He Hears”, not “he speaks”!
My most profound apologies to those of you wandering around in bandages.

173 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

It is, indeed, very rude. Something to do with hair, penises, and Cynocephals, IIRC…

174 Aratina Cage March 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Gurdur:

Really? Pardon my doubt, or don’t, but I find your claim more than dubious.

It may not be apparent in all cases, but I think it is true about me. I hadn’t even seen the one thread you reference on Pharyngula before the damage was already done to someone who I think is overly traumatized already as it is, and the people at Pharyngula who are worth reading had already acknowledged their mistake by then. That kind of damage happens sometimes at Pharyngula in super-heated threads; it’s probably the biggest downside to the ethos of free-expression that exists there.

Can you show me anywhere like that, where you have stood up against unfair slurs despite disagreeing with the slurred person?

I’d rather not bring private things like that into this discussion. But, I would just like to say that I don’t always agree with the way a person acts towards others or with what they say. I don’t disagree 100% with individuals from the Slymepit (with a few exceptions), either, nor you. I don’t think I should have to be OK with what a person does all the time just to hang out with them or like them, but some things, even if done once, might make me want to avoid the person who did them. That’s where the lines I was talking about come in; I can’t stand some of the things that kickstarted the existence of the slimepit, and that is why I am on the side I am today.

175 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Steersman, I don’t believe you responded to my three post series?

176 Aratina Cage March 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Iamcuriousblue:

“Intensely passionate” is one way of looking at it, “fanatical” would be another, and tends to be my view.

I think your view is greatly mistaken, then.

The comments by people like [A] and [B] in this thread from the other day just confirm this:

I don’t get along with everyone there, OK? (But I will say that. even then, some of the people I normally skip over still make great observations or comments at times.)

I have no interest in dialogue or peacemaking at all with those of that ilk

It looks pretty mutual to me. So why bring them up here at all? That’s what I am talking about! Why do people keep trying to force people who have loudly or quietly expressed wishes against it into participating here by talking about them, usually in an underhanded way?

They see people like me as mini-Pinochets (never mind that I’m nowhere even close to conservative, nor are most ‘pitters), and I pretty much see them as neo-Red Guards.

And who would want to even speak to you after being called that by you? (Answer: no one.)

There’s a good deal too much polarization

Ya think? How about you make the effort to stop polarizing things so much?

I will not play nice with those who are genuine fanatics

Or not. You decide. But you can’t go around smearing people like that and then expect them to want to have anything to do with you.

177 Coel March 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Aratina Cage: #174

That kind of damage happens sometimes at Pharyngula in super-heated threads; it’s probably the biggest downside to the ethos of free-expression that exists there.

“Ethos of free expression”? Hmm, my perception is that Pharyngula is quite an easy blog to get banned from.

Why do people keep trying to force people who have loudly or quietly expressed wishes against it into participating here by talking about them

Talking about someone is hardly “forcing” or “trying to force” them to do anything. Again, FTB threads don’t usually ask permission from someone in order to talk about them.

178 Aratina Cage March 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm

J.J. Ramsey:

Let me remind you of the case of the Skokie Affair, which made clear that in the U.S., even SOBs like the KKK and the WBC have the right to free speech, so long as they keep it peaceful.

What does that have to do with what I wrote? I am saying that their actions hurt people, and Skepsheik’s web comic hurts people. Saying it is free speech is useless in considering the feelings of the people it targets and considering the moral justification for the web comic.

179 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Aratina, remind me how Skepsheik’s comic “hurts people?” In a heated online political debate, where do you set the bar for “moral justification” of what people say about their opponents, how they satirize them, whatever? Because if your answer is — “Just ask the person being criticized/satirized — if they feel bad about it, it’s cruel and unjustified” — that’s not going to fly.

180 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Is Ms. Benson claiming offense? Her role doesn’t seem very offensive to me… unless she’s offended that she’s NOT acting off the hook. o.O. Anyway, a comic book with any of the characters in direct parallels of actual events would be more offensive… & with the kind of things PZ says it’s sort of hard to feel sorry for /him/ if he’s offended at the portrayal. He sure as hell doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings. I say the portrayal is rather light.

181 A Hermit March 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm

RE: the “Peezus and O” cartoon; My wife is a teacher. She was telling me about having to confiscate drawings that were circulating in her classrooms which one student had created to mock another.

When your approach to dialogue is indistinguishable from that of a 9 year old schoolyard bully you shouldn’t be surprised when the grown ups aren’t impressed.

just sayin…

182 Aratina Cage March 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Steersman:

you keep insisting, repeatedly and uncharitably, that those rather nebulous “feelings” should still somehow override any other considerations as to the value of the statements, their truth and accuracy

When you say that, I hear this from you: “I don’t care about her feelings.” I think there are reasons that one might want to care about her feelings in this matter, and I think they do override whatever benefit you or Phil or whoever happens to get from Skepsheik’s work.

that is the very antithesis of the skeptical principles of evidence and critical thinking

No it isn’t. You are confusing what has been deemed “hyperskepticism” with real principles of skepticism. Of course, on the whole, we should all question our own feelings. There are good reasons to do so. However, there are also times when questioning the feelings of other people is morally unjustifiable, and I believe this is one of those times. You could all criticize FTB writers and commenters without doing things that make them want to avoid you, without calling them misogynistic slurs, and without dismissing their feelings if you wish to have their ears.

some [of Skepsheik's web comics] more than others, point to some very problematic attitudes and values undergirding several of the Freethought blogs and bloggers.

So why make them so damn personal? Why not talk about those kinds of attitudes and values in language or comic-form that is humorous and tasteful and useful and not degrading? Why the doctored, mocking photos and the slathering of insinuations and all the rest that make Skepsheik’s web comic so hurtful?

as an example, consider the last one

No. I am not going to consider any of the content of Skepsheik’s web comics. They are not something we should even be talking about, no thanks to Phil. They reference people not involved in this discussion and have caused too much grief to be worthy of consideration.

I, and others, have yet to see you give any evidence that you, and other Freethought bloggers and commenters – with the possible exception of Stephanie Zvan, are willing or able to walk it.

I’m not really sure what you expect me to do about that.

he gutless wonders on FreethoughtBlogs and related sites

Again with the polarizing language. Do you want them to talk with you or not? If you do, then you should really reconsider how you speak about them (and give them time and space to come around on their own).

you have generally yet to give any serious consideration to them or to address the points raised

That has not been my impression. I watched the first few threads where a couple people spent large amounts of time seriously considering your points. I don’t remember if you were involved, exactly, but some people from the Slymepit forum have had their points thoughtfully considered on previous threads on this blog.

a great many other people think that the integrity and credibility of many Freethought bloggers, and the “principles” they espouse is substantially more important than the highly questionable “feelings” of a few individuals.

The trolley problem, eh? No wonder this is so difficult. See, you consider the values and attitudes of FTB bloggers (and a couple other bloggers) to be the trolley, and you are willing to pull the switch to let the trolley run over a few people (like the ones targeted by Skepsheik) for the greater good.

FTB bloggers (the ones you have a problem with), however, see the trolley as things that run counter to their own values (and it varies among them as it does for you, but not too much). But they also have a different solution; they simply walk away from trolley wrecks when they happen and either ban the engineers (such as you) from ever driving a trolley again on their tracks or suspend the engineers for an unspecified period of time.

183 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Enough already with these fucking cartoons. I have never seen them and I am not interested in doing so. Has anybody got anything to say about the up and coming dislogue, if so please express your opinion. I for one am looking forward to these discussions. Has a date been set yet?

184 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm

*dialogue even.

185 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD said (#160):

But he makes his point, all the same. Sometimes.

:-)

You win some, you lose some. But you can’t win any if you don’t even show up for the game …. ;-)

But, in passing, thanks for trying out the 4 links to see if they went into moderation; I had seen something to that effect, but hadn’t actually tried it out.

Also, relative to your #162, I don’t see how “demote” is the right word for that sentence as the only meaning I see for it is “to reduce to a lower grade or rank”. Seems to me that it should be: “But not devoid of critical thinking, skepticism, or wit.” But I could be mistaken ….

186 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

David it’s set for Saturday. I wouldn’t try asking what it’ll be about.. I keep getting answers that say “we’re looking at a lot of shiz”

@A Hermit,

When I was 9 I could also talk to people politely. Is that childish too? Not that the cartoon was for dialogue. It’s a mock. So what. There are great poets whose entire style is mock… depends on what you say and what you’re mocking/what the cause is – they’re not all ‘schoolyard bullies.’

I personally think there should be a cartoon involving PZ criticizing the mens and then getting on stage to embarrass women to really capture what happened xD. People are really reluctant to address it.

187 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Steersman, you made me write that post and you never replied. *taps foot*

188 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm

RE: the “Peezus and O” cartoon; My wife is a teacher. She was telling me about having to confiscate drawings that were circulating in her classrooms which one student had created to mock another. When your approach to dialogue is indistinguishable from that of a 9 year old schoolyard bully you shouldn’t be surprised when the grown ups aren’t impressed. just sayin…

My aunt is a psychiatrist. She was telling me about a patient who always needs to be the center of attention but is excessively and dramatically sensitive to criticism and disapproval.

When you’re a public intellectual whose approach to dealing with criticism is indistinguishable from someone with characteristics of a hybrid histrionic/narcissistic personality disorder, you shouldn’t be surprised when your critics aren’t impressed.

just sayin…

189 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

AppleStairs, damn. That’s one drive – someone sensitive to criticism, but still puts themselves out there? They’ve got a problem…

190 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 7:00 pm

David Leech said (#184):

Enough already with these fucking cartoons. I have never seen them and I am not interested in doing so.

You’re not obliged to read the comments that discuss them – maybe people should be obliged to put trigger warnings in front of any that do? Maybe, “Achtung: explosive cartoons discussed here”. But my impression – as described in some detail in #146 and #154 – is that the principles attending on those cartoons and the perceptions held of them are very close to the crux of the matter.

And if you haven’t taken a look at them then how do you know whether that is the case or not? Bit of a pre-judgement, a prejudice, is it not?

191 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

@David Leech – I think one of the main reasons for Deep Rifts is that (to generalize, of course) folks at A+/FTB and to some extent Skepchick subscribe (consciously or unconsciously) to a political outlook heavily influenced by Kyriarchy and Intersectionality theory. I think one effect of adopting these theories as an ideology for activism or political/interpersonal dialogue is that people who don’t subscribe to them are quite often blithely (and falsely) dismissed as bigots or apologists for oppression.

_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality
_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyriarchy

192 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm

WootheReaper.

Thanks. It would be when I’m working. :-(

193 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Steersman.

It’s not the reading of said posts that is the problem, it is just that it is a derail from the OP.

194 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Applestairs.

I am no stranger to what has been going on this year and a half but if it pleases the court can we focus on the issue in hand.

195 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Steersman, mmkay dude. I see. I’m annoying you. But YOU asked ME to give that info o.O I won’t be fulfilling any more requests from you.

Also, you can know if you do not want to see something… as for if you’d like it if you saw it, different story. Nothing wrong with declining something. There’s no judgment implied.

196 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

WootheReaper said (#175, #187):

Steersman, I don’t believe you responded to my three post series? …. *taps foot*

Don’t bug me, Woo; I didn’t “make you write that post”. And you come across as a petulant child if you insist overmuch.

I took a brief look at your capture of your conversation on Atheism-Plus – thanks for providing it, and I can sympathize with what appears to be the rather rough-ride you were given – rather typical of what others have experienced there as well. However, while I wouldn’t mind delving into it later if I can find the time, I really don’t think this is the time and place to discuss the details of that experience unless they have some very specific relevance to the issues that are on the table here.

And it seems that the issues that it might peripherally relate to are the ones of racism, sexism, and misogyny, the latter of which you suggested in the context of the MGTOW [Men Going Their Own Way] is enough to make one cry. Seems to me that those “isms” are in fact significant problems, but I really doubt that simplistic and dogmatic approaches to them are likely to bear much fruit. Somewhat apropos of which you might be interested in this really quite good YouTube video (1) that Andrew posted in the Pit the other day. It’s a stand-up comedy routine by a black from Georgia living and working in London; he has some really quite good observations on sexism, racism, and the language of them.

And it’s not a question of you “annoying” me; it’s a question of limited resources, and one of where to get the “biggest bang for the buck” – of which I have a very limited and dwindling supply ….


1) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gvJ-6ukhDZA”;

197 Pitchguest March 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

#181 A Hermit

NEVER read Jonathan Swift. Never read Gulliver’s Travels and don’t ever, under any circumstances, read A Modest Proposal. A 60-year old man ridiculing and satirizing the upper-class by depicting a royal Lilliputian getting drenched in piss by a giant. A 60-year old man mocking the establishment, and again the upper-class, by making the proposal to resolve poverty, the impoverished working class should sell their children off to the rich as food.

A masterful satirist, whose humour and wit was apparently unrecognizable to that of an 8-year old.

In the words of Walter Sobchak: 8-year olds, dude.

198 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

David Leech said (#193):

It’s not the reading of said posts that is the problem, it is just that it is a derail from the OP.

Then you might want to read Michael’s post here again in a little more detail since he explicitly lists one of the agenda items as:

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

Which the topic of the cartoons is, I think, a very stark case-in-point.

199 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Steersman. (198)

and how many times do you want to rebut the said point as I never said stop it I just said enough already.

200 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm

David Leech (#199):

Ah, I see. “Stop” is different from “slow down really quickly until your speed is zero” ….

Important to get our definitions straight before embarking on the big questions ….

But if you wish to address any other of Michael’s agenda items then feel free, don’t let me hold you back ….

201 Aratina Cage March 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Coel:

I am willing to voluntarily minimise mentions of people who have stated that they don’t wish to be involved in Michael’s talks.

Thank you. I think that will be very beneficial in how it won’t make the problems we are going to discuss any worse than they already are.

Do you really consider that anything in this thread amounts of “bullying”, “harassment” or “cruelty” towards a certain B&W blogger (all words that have been used about this thread on B&W)?

To the extent that a web comic by an anonymous person that I think easily crosses a line has been talked about here as a good thing, and considering how some people have dismissed the hurt that web comic causes, yes, I do think that. Not bullying, but certainly cruel in the way it is uncaring (by some, not all) and possibly harassing in the sense that such personal talk about the person is unwanted and unnecessary.

Because, it seems to me that [people are worse on other blogs]. … Is that sort of thing “harassment” and “bullying” and “cruelty” towards [another person]? If not, why the blatant double standard?

I guess my idea, and the reason I complain so, is that if we are actually going to sit down and talk about our differences, it might be nice to keep it focused on behaviors and values and attitudes (maybe places is OK, though) instead of on particular people. If a person is here talking, though, like me, then have at me, I guess. I know it does look like kind of a weird position for me to take–the antithesis of the “always name names” approach, but anyone not participating on either side probably wouldn’t want yet another place on the Internet where people are saying things about them, for various reasons, and several people have said as much publicly. Actually, I’m a little surprised that people from the Slymepit are talking as if “always name names” is the best approach, since their disagreeance with that is a driving factor behind the initial split.

I say this as someone who has read Pharyngula for 10 years, and who for most of that time regarded myself as a big fan of Pharyngula and its attitudes, but who has now drifted away from it and from FTB owing to the now pervasive nastiness there towards anyone not in the in-group (an increasingly narrowly defined in-group), coupled with what appears to me blatant double standards of the sort I’ve just pointed to.

I really don’t know what to say other than that “things change”. It can be heartbreaking when you find yourself at odds with a place or community you used to feel part of. At least atheism is so big online right now that you can find other places to go that are just as stimulating (or even more stimulating depending on your tastes).

I think the assortment of atheist blogs/online communities is another reason why a lot of people don’t see any need for these talks, currently hosted by Michael Nugent, to happen. Slymepit members can have the ‘pit and FTBullies can have FTB and A+ers can have Atheism+. It seems like the spaces are big enough and wide enough in between to incorporate all of them without you having to interact with people who cause you too much grief. Heck, even high output blogs (and non-blogs) can offer enough space and topics to let you avoid people you don’t like who comment at those blogs (and non-blogs).

202 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Steersman. (200)

Fair enough, my statement was badly worded. I’m just saying that you have made your point so why keep repeating it. I actually agree with what you are saying, The religious are going to cry offence just by our very existence so having cry a babies in our own camp are next to useless. So can we move on now?

203 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I’ll take the liberty of answering for Steers. Yes, David, we can. What would you like to talk about?

204 David Leech March 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Applestairs. (202)

How about the up and coming dialogue? What’s wrong with dictionary atheism? Why is someones politics a deciding factor in their commitment to atheism? What is the worth of thin skinned people when challenging the religious especially the christians and the muslins? What has feminism got to do with atheism? Is that enough for starters?

205 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

My answers:

What’s wrong with dictionary atheism?

Nothing, except that people who have blogs/columns/speaking engagements (and their readers/listeners) get bored of recycling the same arguments against creationists/theists and want to talk about other stuff. Then around 10% of them say “My atheism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit,” and the other 90% say, “Intersectionalism is bullshit.” Hilarity ensues.

Why is someones politics a deciding factor in their commitment to atheism?

They’re not — if you have the wrong politics, you can still be an atheist — you’re just supposed to stay off the Internet and be invisible to the social justice warriors, or else you’re a “harasser.”

What is the worth of thin skinned people when challenging the religious especially the christians and the muslims?

Not very many bitcoins.

What has feminism got to do with atheism

Atheists hate god, god hates women, therefore by the transitive-commutative property of identity politics logik, atheists hate women. Therefore women hate atheists, unless they are atheists + feminists. Something like that.

206 J. J. Ramsey March 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Aratina Cage: “What does that have to do with what I wrote?”

Simple. Your two examples of immoral speech–about the KKK and the WBC, respectively–were a close mirror to the situation faced by the people of Skokie.

207 WootheReaper March 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Well, okay steersman. It can be by email, that doesn’t have a topic to stay on track yet.

As for the “hates women” stuff… I’m so tired of those people saying pitters are misogynistic, really. Especially those that say they want to kill women… I also find it a little strange that they go directly to things like “harasser” and fail to mention the bloodthirsty misogynistic streak sometimes when describing pitters. I thought they were being judgmental and ignorant… but maybe they don’t think they’re misogynistic at all and are just saying that?

208 Wowbagger March 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Michael, I hope you’ve read this post at Almost Diamonds – the documented tweets from the Slymepitters paints a much more accurate picture of their attitude towards ‘reconciliation’ than do their words here.

209 Steersman March 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Wowbagger said (#207):

Michael, I hope you’ve read this post at Almost Diamonds – the documented tweets from the Slymepitters paints a much more accurate picture of their attitude towards ‘reconciliation’ than do their words here.

You really have a great future in front of you as a demagogue there, Wowbagger. That a few Slymepitters were part of that conversation says nothing about whether those individuals are against any “reconciliation”, much less that all Slymepitters are of the same opinion.

You really should try differentiating – if you wish to be intellectually honest – between members of a group and the entire group; there is frequently some difference. Try using “some” in front of “Slymepitters” for a starter ….

210 AppleStairs March 28, 2013 at 11:54 pm

LOL – at this rate President Obama is going going to end up being called a Slymepitter and banned from Almost Diamonds and Pharyngula …. the more the merrier!

211 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 12:07 am

AppleStairs – sorry, I don’t follow the reasoning there, although I didn’t read all of the tweets in Zvan’s post. An inferred supposition on Wowbagger’s part that every one of those tweets was from a Pitter?

212 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 12:17 am

LOL President Obama… yeah… Apple, I can see that. It’s a wonder they’re not depressed. No one would be good enough for them. I’m sure if they interviewed Obama about everything that gets people called pitters and misogynists, etc, he would ding on at least one of them. Most people would, I bet. I’m sure if they knew the president they wouldn’t like him. I don’t know how’d they live like that other than to not think about it CX. “Hey, we don’t know anything about Obama except what we do know.. let’s keep it that way – knowing only the traits we like.”

213 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 12:18 am

lol @ “tweets from the slymepitters.” How dramatic. Makes it sound like the entire slymepit group was there and just them. Wonder how close to the truth that is.

214 Jack March 29, 2013 at 12:40 am

WootheReaper (212)

It’s the same as Creationists calling Evolutionists ‘Darwinists’ to try and deflect the fact this is not about a few people on one board. Get used to it, it happens all the time. They paint people like me so misogynist and racist they are actually starting to believe their own propaganda.

215 AppleStairs March 29, 2013 at 12:44 am

Well, yes, there is an amusing habit among FTB commenters of characterizing anyone who seems to disagree with them as a ‘Pitter. Among the messages reproduced by Zvan, fewer than half were from people I recognize from the ‘Pit, even fewer have actually posted on these threads, and the sentiments expressed are in any case hardly very controversial (from my perspective, of course). So I scoff at Wowbagger’s implication that Zvan’s selection was 1) a documentation of Tweets “from the Slymepitters” and 2) That this selection of Tweets would, in any case, actually stigmatize the authors in Nugent’s eyes as folks unworthy of participating in the imminent dialogue.

The Atheism+ parody Tweets gave me a chuckle.

In any case, Wowbagger is wrong, IMO, to imply that this is necessarily about “reconciliation.” It’s about having a conversation with an eye toward opening up lines of communication and potentially reducing the mutual recriminations. I don’t think many people are under the illusion that Stephanie Zvan and Gurdur are going to lead us in a chorus of “kumbaya” with John Welch and Ophelia Benson singing harmony.

216 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 12:56 am

Eh Jack.. I won’t get used to it. You know me… I don’t settle… but I’m mentally ill in your eyes anyway xD I could act any sort of crazy passionate about it and you wouldn’t bat an eye *bitter stare*

and ogod, Joe… really? “wut about my feelings!” “It’s not like I hunted her for the hell of it! I had a reason! SHE COULDVE BEEN A *TROLL*” “Automatically side with me or you’re a traitor” *gag* Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I hate that shit. I don’t care if you’re my friend (although I would consider not being friends with someone like that… depends on how often they do it), I’ll call you out if you’re acting horrible. I give points where earned.. soo points to Pharyngula on that.

217 Jack March 29, 2013 at 1:03 am

Applestairs (214)

Just a reminder, this is a group effort with 5 each side. One from each is the ‘moderator’ in the team who ensures cohesion. And one (in our case Gurdur) is the one who presents the arguments we all agree on. This simplifies and focuses the arguments in a manageable fashion.

Presenting this as 1v1 is flawed.

It’s purpose is simply to get something going as all other attempts have so far failed. The idea that even 10 people can solve the problems is asinine. It is intended as a kernel from which talks and a free exchange of ideas may flow by identifying common understandings and the removal of common misconceptions.

218 Jack March 29, 2013 at 1:14 am

WootheReaper (215)

My ‘get used to it’ comment was sarcasm. It never translates well on the internet.

219 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 1:38 am

… but I’m mentally ill in your eyes anyway xD…

I’m mentally ill. I have a diagnosis of Bipolar I, for which I have to take Olanzapine every day. Does this mean that I cannot take part in the next stage? If so I will be very disappointed. The entire project intrigues me and I should like to take part, even though I have not indicated this fact until this very late stage.

I also believe it is important to try to involve others, and so I have tried to urge Ophelia Benson to participate. I don’t think I have been successful…

220 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 2:10 am

My ‘get used to it’ comment was sarcasm. It never translates well on the internet.

Passive-aggressive strategies fall flat in real life to. Jack, you must try to understand there is a big difference between laughing at someone and laughing with someone. One creates bitterness and rancour, the other leads to a well oiled machine with much fun and laughter. I’ll leave you to work out which is which…

221 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 2:12 am

[typo]… in real life too. – obviously

222 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 2:27 am

AppleStairs said (#214):

I don’t think many people are under the illusion that Stephanie Zvan and Gurdur are going to lead us in a chorus of “kumbaya” with John Welch and Ophelia Benson singing harmony.

With Ophelia Benson as the “voice of reason” ….

But what a fucking dog’s breakfast of “he said; she said” – maybe someone needs to do a King Solomon and suggest splitting the movement in halves – or quarters, or eighths – and let everyone go their separate ways. Looks to me like an awful lot of uncharitable misinterpretations – at least. For instance, Stephanie Zvan says (1), relative to the Atheist Alliance kerfuffle, that:

The differences are striking. None of the people who originally tweeted about the post said anything about being offended. They (we) described the post as wrong or bad, not “offensive”.

Yet, even apart from the question whether we are “offended by injustice” (what else impels us to rectify it?), the definition of “offended” (2) is this:

of•fend (-fnd)
v. of•fend•ed, of•fend•ing, of•fends
v.tr.
1. To cause displeasure, anger, resentment, or wounded feelings in.
2. To be displeasing or disagreeable to: Onions offend my sense of smell.

And when we take a look at the tweets of “the people who originally tweeted about the post” what do we see? This from Ophelia Benson:

@atheistalliance Brilliant RT. Photoshopping isn’t harassment, constant sniping isn’t harassment – nothing is harassment! What a relief.
March 26, 2013 11:24 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite@OpheliaBenson
Ophelia Benson

Heavy on the sarcasm, but a stretch to argue that it isn’t motivated at least by “wounded feelings”, particularly since there is no assertion, much less proof, that it is “wrong or bad”. Then this from Rebecca Watson:

@atheistalliance What an unbelievably shitty article to link to. How disappointing.
March 26, 2013 11:30 am via webReplyRetweetFavorite@rebeccawatson
Rebecca Watson

“unbelievably shitty”. “How disappointing.” And that isn’t a reflection of “resentment”? Of “wounded feelings”? Certainly no assertion that it was “wrong or bad”. And, rounding out the hit-parade:

@atheistalliance Got 2 b kidding. You accept that “understanding” of harassment & wonder why ppl say atheist movement is hostile to women?
March 26, 2013 2:12 pm via webReplyRetweetFavorite@Ibis3 Ibis3

“hostile to women”. Looks to me like a fair indication of “wounded feelings” – aka, “offended”. Looks to me like Zvan – to be charitable – has her thumb on the scales.

But this whole issue of harassment is likely to be – or should be – central to these discussions. And somewhat apropos, and potentially quite useful as a starting point, is this position paper on “Freedom of Expression”, a salient element of which is this:

As a subjective concept, offence is a not a reasonable basis for restricting freedom of expression; to do so would essentially render freedom of expression meaningless and limit the critical discussion of ideas to whichever perspective happens to be supported by the legal system or physical strength present in any country.
….
No ideology, religious or otherwise, should be permitted to dictate that certain views are exempt from scrutiny, critical analysis, comment, satire or mockery. A view that cannot withstand such examination is not credible and should be re-considered by the holder, not protected by laws or defended with violence or intimidation.

The source? Atheist Alliance International (3). Methinks they may have painted themselves into a corner ….

—–
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/28/it-must-have-been-the-pressure/”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/offended”;
3) “_http://www.atheistalliance.org/about-aai/position-statements/620-aai-position-statement-freedom-of-expression”;

223 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 2:39 am

Steersman, I have a simple remedy for you, but first I must refill my tea mug.

224 Jack March 29, 2013 at 2:53 am

Steersman (221)

Some people are accommodations but only when it applies to them. You can be abusive as you like to Creationists. In fact you can be as abusive as you like to anyone who disagrees with you. No problem, they deserve it as they are so vile and disgusting. You know that because someone told you. You read it in a book or blog. Everyone else in your echo chamber tells you that.

But then you don’t get to cry foul when others try to use logic and reason as your ‘feelings’ are hurt. You do not get to cry foul when others throw it back with the same robustness as you give it out.

We need to be careful what we wish for. If we’re not careful we will turn into a useless organisation that is required to acquiesce to anyone that pulls the appeal to emotion. That includes anyone we disagree with and for atheists, Humanists and secularists that is a long list.

225 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 3:08 am

Ok, I’m back.

Stop whatever it is you are doing now, and stand up in the middle of the room. Shake your hands about in the air until your fingers loosen up. Then turn around one and a half times.

Does the world look any different now?

Yes, of course it does, you should be looking at the opposite wall to the one you started with, for instance. But also you might start seeing things from other peoples perspectives too. Before you can talk about other peoples’ “wounded feelings” you must be able to recognise your own feelings.

Think of a time when you were hurt. Close you eyes and scrunch your face up to do this. How did it feel? Was it trivial to you at the time, did no one else seem to care? Soon you will be in a position to see that something one person may see as a trivial slight, really is a big deal which they are totally justified in complaining about. You must be able to see both perspectives in order to empathise.

I don’t just talk this rubbish, but I do it myself. It helps me to concentrate on what my goals are and not to suspiciously question what other people’s motives are. I have had full blown paranoia in the past, it is deeply unpleasant, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Fortunately I have got better, but even now I am acutely aware that if I start to feel even slightly paranoid about anyone, I should stop what I’m doing, try to look at and do things in a different way, and give myself time to recover. It’s amazing what looking at something in a new light can do.

I hope that some or all of the helps, but if it doesn’t, come back and let me know.

226 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 3:28 am

Jack said (#223):

We need to be careful what we wish for. If we’re not careful we will turn into a useless organisation that is required to acquiesce to anyone that pulls the appeal to emotion. That includes anyone we disagree with and for atheists, Humanists and secularists that is a long list.

Indeed; really is a rather sticky wicket, and I really doubt there is any one-size-fits-all type of rule that covers all cases and circumstances. Part of the reason why I think dogma of virtually any type is so problematic.

But “they” say that there is an exception to every rule – maybe including that one – which justifies, I think, arguing that “appeals to emotion” are “valid” if it is something that we all feel: we might all be wrong in that case, but that seems substantially different from privileging one person’s or one group’s feelings over another’s.

And I kind of think that is where Vjack’s (1), Zvan’s (2), and Foss’ (3) analyses went off the rails: comparing apples to oranges to bananas – emphasizing very different aspects in very different circumstances. Reminds me of nothing so much as the Sufi parable (4) about the blind men and the elephant ….


1) “_http://www.atheistrev.com/2013/03/understanding-harassment.html”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/28/it-must-have-been-the-pressure/”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/guest-post-what-harassment-really-is/”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant#Sufi_Muslim”;

227 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 3:59 am

Pogsurf, feelings are feelings, and no feeling can be trivial unless it feels trivial. Just like you, when you’re feeling paranoid, realize it’s you and that you shouldn’t blame that paranoia on others, if people are truly hypersensitive they need to recognize that and not take a chunk out of people for not being in /their/ heads.

I’m sensitive in ways. I’ve read things from both the pit and FtB and A+ that upset me more than it would the average person, I’ve felt great chest pains, had my heart going out of this world, & labored breathing since my flight or fight response seems pretty sensitive to hostility over the internet, I’ve shed tears like you wouldn’t believe at least a couple times (not counting times that I simply sat reading screens with my eyes watering), but I just talk like normal. If I didn’t… there would be multiple times that my posts would make me look like a hysterical banshee on her period…

But even then, I don’t take chunks out of people… that isn’t what sensitive people do… they don’t make arguments as if they honestly think someone is this_sort of deplorable. People who do that may consider themselves “hardened” to the effects of whatever they are calling deplorable themselves but “stand up” for others, for example. Being sensitive and being over judgmental are two different things… and lots of times, with the latter, the person is just exaggerating on purpose because they’re addicted to demonizing people.

So yeah, that’s why I don’t buy this “sensitive” shit, as someone who can be pretty damn sensitive.

228 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:02 am

But, if I did write sometimes as if my sensitivity were justified, it may look a bit like this:

‘OHMYGOD, [GROGAN!] MY HEART… I CANT EVEN READ… NO, I CANT READ WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY NEXT.. *TEAR* OMG THERES A WHALE’S TAIL SQUEEZING MY CHEST. EVERY TIME I BREATHE ITS LIEK LIFTING WEIGHTS. FUCK. CUE IRRITABILITY. NO ONE BOTHER ME RIGHT NOW *CLOSES ALL OTHER TABS* SHITOMG… WHY… WHY… *COVERS FACE WITH PILLOW*’

229 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:03 am

^ Which is why I choose to go on ahead and hide my true frustration/upset/whatever levels a lot of times.

230 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:05 am

@Pogsurf : I don’t know that I would consider bipolar or any sort of mood disorder “mentally ill.” Is that bipolar medication the sort that shortens your lifespan by 10 years? Because I’d try something else if it is.

231 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 4:11 am

WootheReaper said (#226):

So yeah, that’s why I don’t buy this “sensitive” shit, as someone who can be pretty damn sensitive.</blockquote.

Good for you, lady – you could give the “fainting couch brigade” on Freethought blogs some pointers on how to not let your emotions get the better of you. :-)

But good post.

232 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 4:30 am

Pogsurf said (#224):

Soon you will be in a position to see that something one person may see as a trivial slight, really is a big deal which they are totally justified in complaining about.

Yes, I quite understand that perspective – as indicated by my reference to the parable of the blind men and the elephant in my previous comment. And I’ve frequently mentioned the scene in the movie Patton where he berated a bunch of GIs for suffering from shell-shock which was, I think, a clear case where the effects of stress seem to be quite relative – what can knock one person out is only a blip on the radar to someone else.

You must be able to see both perspectives in order to empathise.

Certainly, but that empathy is only half of the story which people like Aratina, Benson, Zvan, and many others insist is the whole one which has to include what is really true, and not just what is believed to be true. Michael Shermer in his The Believing Brain – highly recommended – described the experiences of people who believe that they have been abducted by aliens. And it seems that their levels of “post-traumatic stress” are just as high as if they had actually experienced those events; they are just as certain that those events really happened as everyone else is of their daily narratives: shall we send all of the world’s militaries off on wild goose chases trying to catch those aliens on the say-so of what are obviously painfully deluded individuals? [There might actually be some benefits to that.]

The point is that we simply can not allow feelings to outweigh the facts; we are totally screwed, blued, and tattooed if start down that path.

Which is, somewhat arguably, precisely what has happened with various religions: their “oceanic feelings”, their “connection with the great beyond”, their speaking with Jehovah, has gotten the better of their reason and rationality. And T. H. Huxley rather cogently described the consequences:

The truth is that the pretension to infallibility, by whomsoever made, has done endless mischief; with impartial malignity it has proved a curse, alike to those who have made and those who have accepted it; and its most baneful shape is book infallibility. …. Wherever bibliolatry has prevailed, bigotry and cruelty have accompanied it. It lies at the root of the deep-seated, sometimes disguised, but never absent, antagonism of all the varieties of ecclesiasticism to the freedom of thought and to the spirit of scientific investigation. For those who look upon ignorance as one of the chief sources of evil; and hold veracity, not merely in act, but in thought, to be the one condition of true progress, whether moral or intellectual, it is clear that the biblical idol must go the way of all other idols. Of infallibility, in all shapes, lay or clerical, it its needful to iterate with more than Catonic pertinacity, Delenda est. [quoted in “Why I Am Not a Muslim”; Ibn Warraq; pg 104]

You think maybe that that is a good foot for the atheist/skeptic/feminist movements to be starting out from, the “infallibility of feelings”?

233 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:32 am

Steers, if they honestly had some fucked up reaction to things I’d not post on their shit and tell them to stop reading ours and send them on their way. That’s not to say I’d stop commenting on their shit.

234 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:45 am

@that chart rayshul posted.. kinda shocking… but I think acathode isn’t really thinking at all when he assumes that the chart truly represents blacks and males. I think women are caught less for multiple crimes as well as investigated less, especially when it comes to abuse. They’re also reported less. Not to mention any innocents in jail. Same with the black statistics. Concluding “Oh, men and black people must be 10 times more evil than women and white people” instead of thinking was very dumb on acathode’s part…

235 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 5:04 am

WootheReaper

@Pogsurf : I don’t know that I would consider bipolar or any sort of mood disorder “mentally ill.” Is that bipolar medication the sort that shortens your lifespan by 10 years? Because I’d try something else if it is.

No, bipolar is definitely a mental illness. There are all sorts very severe side-effects to the medication. Believe me I’m not on it through choice. I’m under the care of a Community Mental Health Team, and I see a psychiatrist on about a six weekly basis. It’s in remission at moment, which is why it is much easier for me to talk about it.

If you’d like to know more I recommend you try Rethink. I signed a pledge of theirs to speak out about mental health matters, to try to end discrimination, and it has done wonders for my own mental health.

236 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 5:35 am

WootheReaper said (#232):

Steers, if they honestly had some fucked up reaction to things I’d not post on their shit and tell them to stop reading ours and send them on their way. That’s not to say I’d stop commenting on their shit.

Yes, I think that that is a fairly reasonable argument – at least in many if not most circumstances. But I think that the wicket gets a little stickier when you have to consider the consequences of their beliefs and the feelings that undergird them. For instance, there are many of the religious who might reasonably be called bat-shit crazy, but whose beliefs don’t preclude their being credible if not exemplary contributors to society. However there are many others who are equally crazy, but who are a decided hazard to themselves if not substantial portions of the rest of society.

Similarly with many other groupings and beliefs in society – from alt-medicine to big-foot to aliens to various political and sociological beliefs including feminism. And including Freethought blogs, although I doubt the contrast is quite as stark even if some of the beliefs and behaviours there seem to have some rather pernicious consequences.

And I think in all of those cases we all have some obligation to speak out and be active in one way or the other – largely regardless of where the chips may fall, and of whose feelings might get a little bruised around the edges.

237 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 5:43 am

Pogsurf, what are your bipolar symptoms? Why do you consider yourself ill?

238 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 8:06 am

Two excellent questions WootheReaper, but a long way off-topic for me to reply to you here. I will post a reply back on my own blog in due course.

239 Aratina Cage March 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Coel, I did respond, but it was in moderation for a long time (see around #201).

Steersman:

we simply can not allow feelings to outweigh the facts

We should not dismiss feelings altogether, though (and we cannot if we are to have morals). You are going to find it very hard to build any kind of morality without listening to or observing the feelings of the people affected by an action you have done or will do or are doing.

As it relates to things like Skepsheik’s web comic that target specific people with derision, it very well could be that if a person did not find such a thing humorous, that person would find little to no value in the thing or possibly even negative value. So then, who is letting feelings be the trump card? I submit that it may in fact be you (and Phil et al.) who are playing the feelings trump card, and that the feelings of the people such a web comic derides may be more significant in determining if the web comic is morally justifiable.

240 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Steersman, what?

Of course they won’t fucking like it. It criticizes them. Just like my donglegate site. How does that take away from the value or make it morally unjustified? Why ask that question at all? How /they/ act that needs criticism is what’s morally unjustified.

241 Aratina Cage March 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

WootheReaper, I’m not sure if this was aimed at me, but I’ll respond anyway:

Of course they won’t fucking like it. It criticizes them. Just like my donglegate site. How does that take away from the value or make it morally unjustified?

The reason is because the criticism wrapped up in the item–and thus the value of the item–is also based on feelings. For some reason, we have been content to skip over that throughout this entire conversation and act like only one side has feelings, which is not true. Two unfeeling people could not determine what is morally right between the two of them. Pointing to facts does not determine who or what is morally right. Feelings have to be involved and considered on all sides.

242 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Two unfeeling people could not determine what is morally right between the two of them.

Interesting philosophical position, which my gut instinct tells me is not true, but I can’t back it up at this time.

… I did respond, but it was in moderation for a long time …

Not just me then, I was beginning to get a bit paranoid.

243 Coel March 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Aratina Cage: #239

Dear Aratina, thanks for your reply. I see your point of view about talking about non-participants, and I’ll try not to do so. My reason for having discussed the cartoons was not any desire to cause offence or hurt to their subjects, but simply because they are a useful example in discussing where the line between “fair comment” and “harassment” should be (my opinion is that they are somewhere between those two, in contrast with, to take another example, a recent cartoon image of RW which was totally unacceptable and vile).

244 Coel March 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Dear Aratina, I should have added: one of the problems in this whole affair is that someone’s *intent* behind their posting is nearly always interpreted by their opponents as being more malicious than their actual intent. (This remark is intended to apply to people on both “sides”.)

245 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 4:48 pm

David Leech said (#201):

Fair enough, my statement was badly worded. I’m just saying that you have made your point so why keep repeating it. I actually agree with what you are saying ….

Certainly nice to hear that you agree with what I’ve said – even if only as “proof” that some of the arguments find traction with people other than those obsessively dedicated and demented Pitters …. ;-)

However, the question isn’t whether you’ve agreed with the points, but with the fact that others haven’t yet and continue to challenge them – although I expect that “evade” is substantially more accurate.

The religious are going to cry offence just by our very existence so having cry a babies in our own camp are next to useless. So can we move on now?

Seems to me that the notable claim-to-fame of this place – and of Nugent’s efforts in support of it – is that it isn’t just “our” camp, but potentially a meeting place for both camps – sort of a no-man’s land where both are free to speak their pieces without the threat of being summarily banned. Although I suppose you’re technically correct about “our own camp” as supposedly we’re all playing for “Team Atheism/Skepticism” [Rah! Rah!]. But “useless” is, I think, a bit of a stretch: consideration for the feelings of others is certainly a worthwhile perspective; the question is how to balance them out against those of others, as well as against “objective” facts.

246 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Steersman, what’s meant by unfeeling?

247 WootheReaper March 29, 2013 at 4:59 pm

@Aratina Cage, yeah, both sides have feelings – the ones revealed in the criticism might be frustration for example. What is your point, though? And are you saying there are times when pointing out facts can be morally wrong? Can you give me an example?

248 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Pogsurf said (#242):

Two unfeeling people could not determine what is morally right between the two of them.

Interesting philosophical position, which my gut instinct tells me is not true, but I can’t back it up at this time.

You might then be interested in this article from the philosopher/scientist Massimo Pigliucci who said this:

As for the emotional part, well, as David Hume famously put it: “It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.” It is because I care about the world that I’d rather see my finger scratched than the world to end.

The point is, I think, that logic and reason are rather good at working from a set of premises to a conclusion, but rather bad at coming up with premises in the first place – hence the necessity for putting some value on feelings, on what we “care” about.

249 Pogsurf March 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Excellent point by Steersman at #248.

Elsewhere, use of the word ‘yeah’ (my interpretation only).

To me, constructions of the form: [name], yeah, [statement] sound a bit forceful, passive aggressive or possibly sarcastic.

Constructions of the for: [name], [statement],yeah sound more supportive and enthusiastic, in a friendly sort of way.

The above is gleaned from my upbringing, culture and worldly experience. I’m perfectly well aware that others my interpret similar sentences in different ways, according to their own upbringing, culture and world experience.

Caution!

250 Iamcuriousblue March 29, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Aratina Cage writes:

” “Intensely passionate” is one way of looking at it, “fanatical” would be another, and tends to be my view.

I think your view is greatly mistaken, then.

And I think my perceptions are correct, as evidenced by “[A] and [B]” who are pretty far from outliers in FTB and A+. If you want me to change my mind, show me *evidence* that my perceptions are incorrect. (Rather than simply your favoritism toward FTB coloring your perceptions.) Because what it looks like to me is that such people are classic members of the “hard left” who are just chomping at the bit to take away the rights of anybody who disagrees with them. While I consider myself on the left side of the spectrum as well, this is *definitely* not the left I have any interest in supporting. The question, really, is why there’s even a question that I should have to be a supporter of the hard left to be part of the secular community. And, yes, that is very much at issue, looking at the rhetoric of “[A] and [B]” about “shipping out” if you don’t agree with them.

“It looks pretty mutual to me. So why bring them up here at all?”

Why shouldn’t I? If the process is supposed to be coming to some accord, I think basically putting out there what some of our grievances are is a starting point. Well, that kind of “hard left” mentality that’s commonplace among the FTB/Skepchick/A+ crowd is a major sticking point for me. I’m never going to agree with it, at least unless somebody makes an overwhelmingly good case why I should drop my liberalism entirely in favor of such views. I can certainly debate such views in much less heated way that has been typical so far, but that presumes a much less heated tone in general would have to prevail.

That’s what I am talking about! Why do people keep trying to force people who have loudly or quietly expressed wishes against it into participating here by talking about them, usually in an underhanded way?

“And who would want to even speak to you after being called that by you? (Answer: no one.)”

Well, I don’t want to speak to these fanatics, actually. What I expect, however, is to not be treated by the leaders of various secularist political orgs as being part of some grand conspiracy of “hate directed against women” for simply opposing hard left politics. Is that too much to ask?

“Ya think? How about you make the effort to stop polarizing things so much?”

By shutting up about polarizing rhetoric that I might be the target of? No thanks!

“Or not. You decide. But you can’t go around smearing people like that and then expect them to want to have anything to do with you.”

I’m not *smearing* anybody, and it’s not like I want to have anything to do with those people anyway. If anything, people like I’ve spoken about above smear themselves by the crap that they say. I just report it and make it clear that I’m not OK with it.

If they want to have their own little far-left secularist faction, A+ or whatever they want to call it, fine. But the entryism and takeover attempts, exemplified by Adam Lee’s petition a couple months back, tell me that they want everybody but the hard left and its fellow travelers driven out. I’m not OK with that – the larger skeptical community and its organizations are a big tent, and not just for people who agree with their views.

BTW, I’ve been in and around politics for many years, and this kind of things isn’t new in my experience. I remember in the 1980s when various Leninist groups sought to dominate the anti-war movement. A very similar situation to what I see hard-line feminists and social justice warriors doing with secularism today.

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: