An update on the atheist skeptic dialogue process

by Michael Nugent on April 16, 2013

I would like to thank the participants and those who have been following the progress of the atheist skeptic dialogue process so far. We have got off to a good start, with people discussing important issues, including areas of agreement and disagreement, in a reasonable way that can gradually build trust.

The moderating team has been working effectively, and with a good working relationship, in ensuring that the process operates according to the agreed principles published on the website.

Two questions have arisen in the past few days which we have discussed today.

The first question is whether the statements by the main participants should be subject to moderation. I did not explicitly address that issue with the main participants when setting up the process. That was an oversight on my behalf, and I take responsibility for it and apologise for the resulting confusion.

Now that the issue has arisen, we have decided that we will not now begin to moderate the statements by the main participants, as this was not explicitly part of what was initially proposed, unless such a change is agreed by all of the main participants.

The second question is whether the process of responding separately to two opening statements, which broadly address similar issues, is becoming too cumbersome for the participants and the readers. We agree that it may be becoming so, although it was important to begin with each viewpoint being raised and replied to.

In order to bring the dialogue into one conversation, the moderating team will soon compose an updated review of the areas of agreement and disagreement so far, and that draft statement will then be the basis for ongoing discussion by the participants, and will evolve into the outcome statement for strand 1 of the agenda.

As was stated in the original announcement of the dialogue, we will also learn as we go along how to fine-tune or adapt the structure for future agenda items.

We have sent a draft of this statement to the main participants for their input and agreement before publishing it. It is important to the process that everyone involved has confidence in the integrity of the process and its ability to respond fairly to their concerns and input about how it is progressing.

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{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Hello Michael.

I will be out of the dialogue, I think. The moderation process is way too slow and doesn’t invite discussion. At best, it invites tedious essaies. Thanks anyway for the effort and the fairness.

All the best!

2 Iamcuriousblue April 17, 2013 at 2:29 am

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/04/15/moving-right-along/

After reading Stephanie Zvan’s latest statement, I don’t see what dialogue is accomplishing. She sticks to some utterly hard-line positions that those of us who do not agree with her position will never kowtow to. Apparently, any critique of movement authoritarianism is off the table, apparently because the atheist movement is not the government, so such a critique does not apply. (Seriously?) Even mild parody not allowed. Criticism of ideological rigidity and dogmatism in some parts of the atheist movement, apparently also off the table and not to be discussed.

Good grief, if this is what she’s advancing, then to hell with “unity”. Because I don’t want any part of movement where Zvan or people who hold similar views are in positions of leadership. They don’t represent me or anything (beyond mere lack of belief in a deity) that I wish to support.

3 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 17, 2013 at 6:35 am

And I agree 100% with Iamcuriousblue. I’m also starting to wonder if this dialogue won’t actually widen the rift.

4 Sally April 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Iamcuriousblue, she didn’t say that discussion is off the table. She said that if the participants want to talk about it, they should explain what they mean instead of just using loaded words that make people think of scary things. Why is that a problem?

Also, I think she’s already a leader in her local atheist group. Does that mean you’ll leave now?

5 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Iamcuriousblue, she didn’t say that discussion is off the table. She said that if the participants want to talk about it, they should explain what they mean instead of just using loaded words that make people think of scary things. Why is that a problem?

Is that a joke? Loaded words?!? Like “chill girl”, “misogynist”, “MRA” or “feminist” for that matter…?

6 Sally April 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Where are those being used in the dialogue?

7 Michael Nugent April 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Phil, Thanks for giving it a chance, and I hope you will return to it later.

Curious Blue and Sally, we’re still at the early stages, still on the first agenda strand, which is about 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.

We will then move on to more substantive issues, including:

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.

It will take time for trust to develop, but we are already seeing reasoned and nuanced dialogue start to happen.

It’s not going to be dramatic, and it is going be hard hard work, but that is ultimately how reasonable people move beyond the type of hostile interaction we have seen in recent years.

8 Skepsheik April 18, 2013 at 8:47 am

Sorry Michael but part of the statement above is untrue.
“We have sent a draft of this statement to the main participants for their input and agreement before publishing it. It is important to the process that everyone involved has confidence in the integrity of the process and its ability to respond fairly to their concerns and input about how it is progressing.”
I for one was not sent this statement prior to your posting it here and I certainly do not agree with it.
Although I was not involved in the writing of the initial rules for this series of talks, I agreed to abide by them.
Now it appears that one of the participants, unilaterally decides that the rules need not apply to them.
What is wrong with the idea that everyone in the conversation sticks to the same agreed guidelines?
One rule for all. Aren’t we all equal in this process?
Or are some more equal than others?

9 Michael Nugent April 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Skepsheik,

I have sent you an email addressing the points you have made here.

Michael

10 David Leech April 22, 2013 at 12:47 am

Skepsheik.

What rule was broken and how?

11 A Hermit April 22, 2013 at 2:04 am

Apparently, any critique of movement authoritarianism is off the table…

Its not “off the table” it’s just ludicrous. What is the source of this alleged authoritarianism? There is no structure in this movement that would make that kind of thing even possible. Someone blocking someone else on twitter is not Stalinism, moderating blog comments is not censorship and someone objecting to being called a “fat twat” or something similar doesn’t take away anyone else’s rights.

The whole idea of authoritarianism or “imposed ideologies” coming out in this dialogue frankly just sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory to me. It’s depressing to see self described skeptics engaging in in such childish nonsense.

People have every right to criticize. What they don’t have is the right (or more properly the privilege) to not be criticized in return.

12 Skepsheik April 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

@David Leech
“What rule was broken and how?”
The current structure has a format whereby replies from one side must be made to individual replies to the other. Stephanie Zvan decided to alter this by combining her replies to several responses from the other team, in one single reply.
The other team is comprised of several different individuals.
We do not share 100% agreement on all points.
It is important, therefore, that replies are made to specific responses rather than combining them together in a single response.

In fact, it is probably important that the whole process is made a little more visible, in order for people to understand the current situation.

Team A consists of a single individual, Stephanie Zvan.
Team B consists of several contributors, not all of whom have been involved (or in agreement with) all stages of the ‘team B position’.
I, for example, volunteered to be involved before Team B’s starting statement was written up but I was not allowed to view it until it had been submitted. In fact I completely disagree with several points within it.
What this means is that I then find myself in the ridiculous situation of being allowed to join the process and not make any individual point myself, but only to respond to a list of criticisms that Stephanie made of an opening statement that I hadn’t agreed with!
The current structure doesn’t work unless you have one person debating one other person.

Just to give a concrete example of what I am talking about – I happen to agree completely with Stephanie Zvan that it is wrong to expect a blogger to allow unfettered access to their site to a commenter that wants to criticize them.
As far as I am concerned their website is their own private domain and they can police it whatever way they want.
Whoever wrote the starting statement for team B certainly made it sound like they thought it was necessary to have a ‘right of reply’ on other peoples blogs. I think this is wrong and I would not have agreed with this original statement (in mitigation, perhaps it was badly worded).
I think that while my view is not universal on my side of the ‘schism’, it is by far the most common view, with only a few individuals insisting that they be allowed ‘a right of reply’ on the original site.

When I was finally allowed into the process I was asked to write the replies to Stephanies criticisms that included a criticism of that particular point!
When I pointed out that I agreed with Stephanie there I was told that the original statement didn’t really mean a right of reply but actually meant attempts to stifle criticism on other sites – which is the way we worded the reply in the end.
Now, there have indeed been instances of this (the very reason the slymepit.com exists is due to attempts to have the host organization, National Geographic silence the ERV blog) but, overall, I think this is a minor point.
I don’t have a problem with criticism. Or with criticising back.
If we exclude the possibility of criticism then we deny ourselves the chance to learn – and none of us is so knowledgeable that we cannot learn something new.
Of course there are cases where criticism spills over into more serious responses that are absolutely not appropriate. I, for one, have had death threats made against myself online for things I have posted. Others have received threats to the lives of their children and still others have had campaigns launched targeting their employment.
And, of course, some have been threatened online with rape.
None of these former behaviors can reasonably count as acceptable criticism.
The question, and perhaps this is THE critical question on which both sides differ, is where we draw the line on what is acceptable criticism and what is unacceptable.
Until we begin to talk about this in the debate proper we will be forever splitting hairs and avoiding the central issue.

13 A Hermit April 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

. Stephanie Zvan decided to alter this by combining her replies to several responses from the other team, in one single reply.

She also clearly identifies which points she is responding to and whose posts they are from, so I’m not sure what the problem is.

The question, and perhaps this is THE critical question on which both sides differ, is where we draw the line on what is acceptable criticism and what is unacceptable.

And this shouldn’t be that difficult. Threats we shouldn’t even have to discuss. Attacks based on people’s appearance, gender or ethnicity are clearly over the line, and I would include the use of gendered/ethnic/racial slurs. And please, just because “fag” can mean a cigarette in one context doesn’t mean we don’t all know what it means in another…same goes for words like “cunt” and “twat”. The context in which words are used does matter and it’s hard to come up with definitive rules for all situations so if we find that a particular word or phrase is causing problems and getting in the way of communication the simplest thing is to just stop using it, at least when talking to or about people whom we know are bothered by the term. That’s not censorship or authoritarianism or silencing, it’s just common courtesy.

One important point that’s been made is the need for everyone to not assume the worst of motives without some good reason. But the whole argument coming from “team slymepit” about authoritarianism and “imposing ideologies” seems to me to be just that; a giant exercise in attributing motives.

the very reason the slymepit.com exists is due to attempts to have the host organization, National Geographic silence the ERV blog”

The part that always gets left out of this complaint is the fact that NatGeo has a clear policy about the kind of content they are willing to host and the ERV blog was clearly violating it. NatGeo has a right to know how THEIR space is being used and to enforce THEIR standards on THEIR space. And since the whole thing was preserved and can be seen in it’s entirety at the `pit the idea that anyone was silenced is demonstrably false. Maybe it’s time to stop whining about it…

14 Skepsheik April 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

The question of gendered slurs is a difficult one.
I personally do not use them but I wouldn’t rule out conversing with someone who has done so in the past.
Imagine for a second, if you can, that I was involved in a public debate with someone who had called Richard Dawkins a ‘dick’ – a clear gendered slur.
Should I assume that the person who did that is forever beyond the pale of civilized discourse?
I may not use such language but I don’t assume a person who uses such slurs is necessarily beyond redemption.
There is hope for us all.
As for the Nat Geo situation. I agree it’s best to move on. There are plenty of other blogs that violate the very same policies that you seem so eager to uphold, but I think we are both in agreement that the price of appearing hypocritical in enforcing this policy in regards ERV while ignoring even worse violations, for example on Pharyngula and Greg Ladens blog, is a price we are willing to pay, if we are to put this matter behind us.

15 A Hermit April 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Imagine for a second, if you can, that I was involved in a public debate with someone who had called Richard Dawkins a ‘dick’ – a clear gendered slur.
Should I assume that the person who did that is forever beyond the pale of civilized discourse?

No, but if you are genuinely offended by the term you should be able to say so and have your feelings about it respected instead of having the term thrown in your face at every opportunity…should we be so attached to certain words that we are willing to forgo constructive dialogue just for the sake of being able to say “cunt” whenever we feel like it?

As for the Nat Geo situation. I agree it’s best to move on. There are plenty of other blogs that violate the very same policies that you seem so eager to uphold, but I think we are both in agreement that the price of appearing hypocritical in enforcing this policy in regards ERV while ignoring even worse violations, for example on Pharyngula and Greg Ladens blog, is a price we are willing to pay, if we are to put this matter behind us.

It’s my understanding that one of the reasons Myers at least moved his more political content off of NatGeo’s Science Blogs and onto FtB was to keep his contributions to SB in line with their policies. I don’t see any hypocrisy in expecting ERV and others on SB to also respect the SB/NatGeo guidelines.

If you feel Myers or anyone else is violating those guidelines you are certainly free to point that out to NatGeo; in fact I would recommend doing so. I’m sure they would appreciate the input.

I don’t think there’s much value in re-hashing past personal grievances over old blog comments. The discussion, as I see it, should be about how we go about building a diverse community of secularists, skeptics and unbelievers. It shouldn’t be this hard for adults, especially those who pride themselves on their supposed reasonableness, to have a conversation about ideas without stooping to childish name-calling.

We should also be able to argue forcefully and passionately for those ideas without being accused of being Stalinists, Nazis or of wanting to impose some kind of imaginary authoritarian regime on others. That’s just silly…

16 Skepsheik April 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

@Hermit
“It’s my understanding that one of the reasons Myers at least moved his more political content off of NatGeo’s Science Blogs and onto FtB was to keep his contributions to SB in line with their policies. ”

I recall that there was a concerted effort by right wing religious groups to have Myers blog removed from Nat Geo due to Pharyngula’s policy of mocking religion and advocating atheism.
At the time I felt that the better option would have been to maintian that course and force their hand. If they really wanted to silence a strong voice for atheism then let them do it in public rather than what eventually happened: Pharyngula remaining on scienceblogs as a pale shadow of its former self with only the occasional titbits of biological content, with the new blog posts shifting to a much less trafficked network that has virtually no science-based content.
There are plenty of examples of both blog posts and comments remaining on the Nat Geo hosted network that contravene their terms but I, for one, have no intention of emulating the actions of right wing demagogues who sought to silence PZ Myers and, frankly, I am surprised that you seem to think it a valid option.

17 A Hermit April 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm

There are plenty of examples of both blog posts and comments remaining on the Nat Geo hosted network that contravene their terms but I, for one, have no intention of emulating the actions of right wing demagogues who sought to silence PZ Myers and, frankly, I am surprised that you seem to think it a valid option.

That’s because you misunderstand the argument I’m making. NatGeo has a policy about what content they will publish on THEIR site. If someone is violating that policy they are stepping on NatGeo’s right to control their own space. It’s not about silencing anyone, it’s about protecting the right of the site owner to decide what they want to be associated with. If they don’t want to be involved in the atheist/theist political debate Myers was pushing or in the nasty personal stuff going back and forth between Myers and ERV then they have every right to ask them to take that stuff elsewhere.

I don’t think anyone was asking for ERV to be taken off the site, just that it conform to the host’s stated policies.

You keep complaining about people supposedly imposing ideologies, but insisting that anyone has to host or publish material they don’t want to be associated with looks like an imposition to me…

18 Skepsheik April 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm

@hermit
“You keep complaining about people supposedly imposing ideologies, but insisting that anyone has to host or publish material they don’t want to be associated with looks like an imposition to me…”

I have said the exact opposite of that.
What on earth is the point of deliberately twisting my argument 180 degrees around when the only thing you achieve is exposing the poverty of your own thinking?

As far as I know Nat Geo did not ask ERV to make any changes to her blog.
If they wanted to they are perfectly within their rights to ask her to make any necessary changes that she has agreed with them in signing her contract.
I simply question the motives of those who seek to place themselves as self-elected guardians of Nat Geos terms and conditions – but only apply this guardianship in a selective manner, against one blog that contains comments about which they disagree.
All those other blogs that break those same terms and conditions, well those are just peachy.
And in case you are wondering, I do not oppose the right of individuals to make these sort of complaints, even right wing idealogues who tried to selectively silence PZ Myers.
I simply disagree that it is a good thing to do as it absolutely reeks of a wish to deny a voice to others.

19 A Hermit April 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I simply question the motives of those who seek to place themselves as self-elected guardians of Nat Geos terms and conditions – but only apply this guardianship in a selective manner, against one blog that contains comments about which they disagree.

I think this misrepresents the situation. Myers moved his non-science related blog activities off of SB to comply with their policies. All that happened to ERV was that she was asked to do the same. There is nothing selective about asking everyone to play by the same rules.

I simply disagree that it is a good thing to do as it absolutely reeks of a wish to deny a voice to others..

And this is where we disagree I guess. I don’t think anyone is under any obligation to provide a platform for views or opinions they don’t agree with or which may violate the stated policies they have established for their space. If someone they are hosting is violating those policies that seems to me to be extremely rude, to say the least, and the violator shouldn’t be surprised to be asked to clean up their act.

This isn’t denying anyone a voice, it’s NatGeo protecting their own voice.

Again, no one has been “denied a voice” none of the comments on ERV were lost and the slymepit is alive and well. So where is this awful authoritarian imposition I keep hearing about?

At best this is minor quibble about manners, it hardly justifies the months of nastiness we’ve been seeing.

20 A Hermit April 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

And I thought we agreed that re-hashing these old grievances isn’t productive?

21 David Leech April 24, 2013 at 4:17 am

Skepsheik.

Thanks for your reply, It’s a bit clearer now.

22 David Leech April 24, 2013 at 4:58 am

Why is Stephanie Zvan the lone moderator on the other side? I know that P Z Myers and Rebecca Watson are too intrenched in their ideology and like the cowards they are they know they will get torn a new one outside their little bubble. Though A Hermit is here and sometimes oolon and aratina cage turns up. What ever I think of their comments at least they are prepared to argue them on neutral ground. So why aren’t they helping Stephanie as it seems a little unfair that she has to carry the burden for her own group. I actually feel sorry for her if she was the only one brave enough to represent her side. No wonder moderation is so slow.

23 Skepsheik April 24, 2013 at 8:10 am

@David Leech
Stephanie Zvan is not the moderator of team A.
Monette Richards of the US organization ‘Secular Women’ is working as the moderator on behalf of team A.

24 Skepsheik April 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

@Hermit
“Myers moved his non-science related blog activities off of SB to comply with their policies. All that happened to ERV was that she was asked to do the same. There is nothing selective about asking everyone to play by the same rules. ”

Indeed, there would be nothing selective if Nat Geo asked everybody to play by the same rules.
But that is not what happened, is it?

I live close to a park, not far from the center of a major city. The park has a number of rules designed, I guess, to keep it free from disturbances, and one of these rules is ‘no ball games’. But this rule is generally ignored. Groups of kids turn up with a football and have a game for an hour or so and then go home. Strictly speaking they are breaking the rules of the park but really they are not really causing any harm and simply having fun. So people living close to the park ignore the rules and allow the kids their games.
Apart from one of my neighbors. Lets call him Mr H.
The kids playing football are not always the same group. Sometimes it is kids from the close vicinity to the park and at other times it is kids from a different part of town that has a higher percentage of immigrants. For some unknown reason Mr H feels the need to enforce the rules of the park – but only when it’s the immigrant kids playing football. He will walk up to them and demand they stop playing football and even rings the police if they refuse.
Now Mr H is not doing anything illegal here.
He is just asking the kids to ‘comply with the policies’, isnt he?
So why do I feel uneasy about the situation.
Perhaps its because we are not talking about a situation where everyone is being asked to play by the same rules.
Perhaps its because it is not the park authorities who are making the move.
Perhaps it is because we see that the reality of the situation is that one person is selectively using the rules to enforce their own personal prejudices.
Mr H has no real interest in keeping the park free of ball games. If he had then he would behave the same to all the kids who play ball in the park.
No, he simply wants it free of immigrants.

So, back to your dilemma.
“There is nothing selective about asking everyone to play by the same rules”
Indeed. There is not.
But what if only one person was selectively asked to play by Nat Geos new rules. What if other blogs were ignored and the complaints to Nat Geo and demands of action were only made in regards one blog, while others were allowed to play ball as usual?

“Myers moved his non-science related blog activities off of SB to comply with their policies. All that happened to ERV was that she was asked to do the same.”

But what about other blogs – say, off the top of my head, ‘Greg Ladens Blog’, that have not moved “non-science related blog activities off SB to comply with their policies”?
What about ‘Aardvarchaeology’? What about ‘Built on Facts’? What about ‘Evolutionblog’? What about ‘Deans Corner’? ‘Casaubon’s Book’? ‘Class M’? ‘Science Punk’? ‘Thoughts from Kansas’ ?
None were asked to pick up their ball and leave the park.
And I think we both know why.

25 A Hermit April 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm

For someone who thinks we should be moving past all of this you seem to be having a hard time letting go of it…

Indeed, there would be nothing selective if Nat Geo asked everybody to play by the same rules.
But that is not what happened, is it?

As far as I know yes it was actually…

But what about other blogs – say, off the top of my head, ‘Greg Ladens Blog’, that have not moved “non-science related blog activities off SB to comply with their policies”?
What about ‘Aardvarchaeology’? What about ‘Built on Facts’? What about ‘Evolutionblog’? What about ‘Deans Corner’? ‘Casaubon’s Book’? ‘Class M’? ‘Science Punk’? ‘Thoughts from Kansas’ ?
None were asked to pick up their ball and leave the park.
And I think we both know why.

I can only assume that NatGeo isn’t bothered by their content. So what? NatGeo’s space, NatGeo’s rules, Natgeo’s right to decide what they will or will not be associated with. If you feel any of those people are violating NatGeo’s terms of service (I don’t read any of them so I wouldn’t know) then you should probably point that out to the site’s owners. They’d probably appreciate it.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/community/community-rules/

Community Rules

This statement describes rules for users of the National Geographic website located at http://www.nationalgeographic.com who register (“Community”) and upload material, post comments, or provide other content (“User Content”) to the site. These rules also govern use of National Geographic channels on social media services (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that permit uploading or posting of User Content. National Geographic expects its Community members and participants on National Geographic social media channels to observe the following rules (“Community Rules”) whether on http://www.nationalgeographic.com or on social media services operated by third-parties (individually and collectively, the “Sites”):

• Don’t be abusive towards others. National Geographic encourages open and candid discussions and debates. However, all communications should be civil and respectful. Differences of opinion are okay; personal attacks are not. Additionally, tools made available to help, such as the Report Abuse button, should not be used to stifle or censor views or to bully other users.

• Stay on topic. Comments and contributions to the Sites should be relevant to the topic being discussed. National Geographic may remove off-topic posts or those that do not provide substantive purpose or relevance from any of the Sites it controls.

• Keep it civil and respectful. Comments or content posted to the Sites that are violent, threatening, abusive, sexually explicit, obscene, offensive, hateful, derogatory, defamatory, or are racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable, will not be tolerated. Such comments may result in the termination of the user’s use of and registration in the Community. National Geographic may edit or entirely remove content containing profanity from any of the Sites it controls.


And if you feel NatGeo is being hypocritical in the application of their rules take that up with them, not with me. I’m being consistent.

26 Skepsheik April 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

@Hermit
“For someone who thinks we should be moving past all of this you seem to be having a hard time letting go of it…”
I’m just amusing myself, watching you squirm as you try to justify the unjustifiable. I agree that you are being consistent, but that is a far cry from being free from hypocrisy.
I don’t know why you put forward a series of terms and conditions for a completely separate site. Nat Geo own Scienceblogs.com now but the terms and conditions for their contributing sciencebloggers are not public. I don’t know if material on ERV broke those non-public conditions and unless you’ve seen those particular set of conditions then you don’t know either.
All we know is that her blog alone was targeted despite the presence of far worse material on other scienceblogs, including threats of violence against female commenters and the linking of examples of rape porn that were described as” a celebration of biodiversity”.
You don’t find it curious that these latter examples weren’t considered worthy of complaint by those who wanted ERV to take her ball and go elsewhere?
You don’t need to answer – your consistency allows me to fill in the blank.

27 A Hermit April 24, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I don’t know why you put forward a series of terms and conditions for a completely separate site. Nat Geo own Scienceblogs.com

You just answered your own question; NatGeo owns SB. Their site, their rules.

All we know is that her blog alone was targeted despite the presence of far worse material on other scienceblogs, including threats of violence against female commenters and the linking of examples of rape porn that were described as” a celebration of biodiversity”.

No, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes.

Again, if you feel others are violating NatGeo/SB’s policies let them know. They can then decide if they are comfortable with what’s being posted on THEIR site.

You don’t need to answer – your consistency allows me to fill in the blank.

You mean you prefer to invent opinions for me than to deal with what I actually say…so much for charitable reading…

28 A Hermit April 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I don’t know why you put forward a series of terms and conditions for a completely separate site. Nat Geo own Scienceblogs.com

You just answered your own question; NatGeo owns SB. Their site, their rules.

All we know is that her blog alone was targeted despite the presence of far worse material on other scienceblogs, including threats of violence against female commenters and the linking of examples of rape porn that were described as” a celebration of biodiversity”.

No, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes.

Again, if you feel others are violating NatGeo/SB’s policies let them know. They can then decide if they are comfortable with what’s being posted on THEIR site.

You don’t need to answer – your consistency allows me to fill in the blank.

You mean you prefer to invent opinions for me than to deal with what I actually say…so much for charitable reading…

I won’t be responding any further here, like I said the whole ERV issue is old news and arguing about it is a distraction from the real need to talk about how we move forward and build a more diverse, effective movement. I’m sorry I let myself get sucked into it again…

29 David Leech April 24, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Skepsheik.

Thanks for the information.

30 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 25, 2013 at 8:49 am

What has been happening above between Skepsheik and A hermit is what I would call a “dialogue”. They absolutely disagree and try to make their points clear. But thanks to Michael, they are not silenced or denied a “right to reply”, as was put.

I wish the A/S blogosphere was more like this. It is very interesting and thought-provoking. I would be willing to participate in such dialogues, if one was to come (I don’t really have any ball in that game, although I’m definitely in the Abbie “clan” here).

Nat Geo never asked Abbie to take any action WRT to her various threads about EG. It was her own decision to delete them, as she felt NG being pestered by opponents was not a good thing. I agree with her. Now there’s the Slymepit, which however you can try and spin it, is not a hate site. And is under the control of no one but Lsuoma, its main admin and (absentee :p) moderator. Some posters there are rightful jerks, and some are brilliant, smart people. When someone posts something that goes beyond the edge, they usually get called on it, or are just ignored. Ignoring them doesn’t mean agreement, by the way.

It’s just a free-for-all, friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) place to hang out. People should give it a try, it’s quite refreshing.

Cheerios!

31 A Hermit April 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

When someone posts something that goes beyond the edge, they usually get called on it, or are just ignored. Ignoring them doesn’t mean agreement, by the way.

On that last point, I think if you ask anyone who has ever been bullied they will tell you that the people who stand by and watch and do/say nothing are just as bad as the bullies.

If we are aware of something that we feel “goes beyond the edge” and don’t object to it we are in effect agreeing with it, or at the very least enabling it.

32 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm

A Hermit: Please keep in mind this is the internet, not a schoolyard, not a workplace. Anyone can go by and post something stupid/offensive. Should the whole internet denounce the troll? (in certain, very blatantly egregious cases, I would argue that yes, it needs to be done).

So, will you finally denounce Greg Laden’s threats to Justin? (bit of a “gotcha” right here, sorry about that, couldn’t help meself)

33 A Hermit April 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Should the whole internet denounce the troll? (in certain, very blatantly egregious cases, I would argue that yes, it needs to be done). “

If you’re involved in the conversation, yes I think you should step up.

If you’re running the forum or blog on which it’s happening even more so…

So, will you finally denounce Greg Laden’s threats to Justin?

I already have, many times…in fact I denounce it every time it’s brought up in a weak attempt to play “gotcha.” o_O

34 John Greg April 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Phil said:

“All we know is that her blog alone was targeted despite the presence of far worse material on other scienceblogs, including threats of violence against female commenters and the linking of examples of rape porn that were described as ‘a celebration of biodiversity’.”

Hermit said (http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/04/16/an-update-on-the-atheist-skeptic-dialogue-process/#comment-226222):

“No, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes.”

Actually, Hermt, we do have a reasonably good idea, at least good enough to make some value judgement, of what went on behind the scenes. Abbie, for one, was open about it, and Laden opened up and admitted, with pride (for crying out loud), to his his behind the scenes attempts to shut Abbie down.

‘struth: http://phawrongula.wikia.com/wiki/Cyberstalking_the_InZvanity

It’s even got screenshots of Laden’s skullduggery.

35 John Greg April 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Phil said:

“All we know is that her blog alone was targeted despite the presence of far worse material on other scienceblogs, including threats of violence against female commenters and the linking of examples of rape porn that were described as ‘a celebration of biodiversity’.”

Hermit said (http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/04/16/an-update-on-the-atheist-skeptic-dialogue-process/#comment-226222):

“No, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes.”

Actually, Hermt, we do have a reasonably good idea, at least good enough to make some value judgement, of what went on behind the scenes. Abbie, for one, was open about it, and Laden opened up and admitted, with pride (for crying out loud), to his his behind the scenes attempts to shut Abbie down.

‘struth (add your own http stuff): phawrongula.wikia.com/wiki/Cyberstalking_the_InZvanity

It’s even got screenshots of Laden’s skullduggery.

36 A Hermit April 25, 2013 at 7:19 pm

John, I honestly don’t give a shit. I already said I’m not interesting in wasting any more time helping anyone else pour salt on old woulds or crying about who said what to who first. It’s yesterday’s news, people were angry, things were said blah blah blah.

As far as I can see everyone involved is still on the`net blogging. No one has been “silenced” or sent to the Gulag.

Get over it already…

I’m more interested in how people are planning to behave in the future; what are we all prepared to do to build a more open, inclusive and effective community?

Can we start by agreeing that picking old scabs won’t help?

37 shivar April 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm

This whole “dialogue” process has turned out to be a complete waste of time. What we wanted were some civil and constructive discussions that might lead to the beginnings of mutual understanding; what we got instead is a secretive process where a few self-selected “representatives” quibble interminably behind the scenes that the DMZ discussion table is not exactly straddling the 38th Parallel. A ridiculous sham.

38 Steersman April 25, 2013 at 8:25 pm

A Hermit said (#15):

It shouldn’t be this hard for adults, especially those who pride themselves on their supposed reasonableness, to have a conversation about ideas without stooping to childish name-calling.

Yes, I quite agree with you. Which is why I kind of wondered at Stephanie Zvan calling both me and Skep tickle “tedious assholes” in that same thread in which you helpfully quoted me responding (1) to her with that “fat twat” insult. Really curious and quite surprising that there were many people who attempted to take me to task for my response to that insult but that there was a veritable dearth of people criticizing Zvan for her own “childish name-calling”. Any thoughts on the reason for that? If you’re looking through the dictionary for applicable words then I might suggest you start with “h-y-p”. Zvan really should give some thought to the aphorism about stones and glass houses ….

And before you trot out the standard and rather specious argument in response that “twat” and “asshole” are entirely different kettles of fish, I would argue – and some have agreed, notably “Crip Dyke” of Pharyngula “fame” (2) – that “asshole” is even more egregious and offensive than “twat” because, on the basis that “twat” is supposedly misogynistic in targeting all women, it qualifies as misanthropist since, mutatis mutandis, it targets all humans.

And while you might argue that “asshole” has less impact and less “splash damage” than “twat”, I would argue that that seems to be a consequence of the frequency of a word’s occurrence – which says diddly squat about the ethics or “childishness” of their use. And, relative to that frequency, I might point you to several articles, one on Pharyngula (3) and one on Skepchick (4), where posters and commenters were bravely doing their parts to attenuate the splash damage due to frequent use of “asshole” – well over 100 times in each. Real credits to the atheist-skeptic movements and to improving the tenor of their debates.

We should also be able to argue forcefully and passionately for those ideas without being accused of being Stalinists, Nazis or of wanting to impose some kind of imaginary authoritarian regime on others. That’s just silly…

Yes, and I quite agree with you there too, at least in general terms, about arguing about ideas, but is it really all that silly to talk of “authoritarian regimes”? Considering that Ophelia Benson offered an analogy between Nazi Germany and TAM – even if she is decidedly unclear on the concept and its application, as well as Paula Kirby’s defense of both “grammar-nazis” and the “totalitarian” argument itself (5), it seems to me that that argument actually holds more than a small amount of water, and is of some relevance. And, as a case in point, consider this salient comment of Kirby’s:

In the case of the -stasi suffix, it draws attentions to behaviours associated with the thought police, for whom anyone who dares to hold non-approved attitudes is automatically persona non grata and to be treated as an enemy of the people. I am referring, of course, to the unfailing response on certain blogs whenever someone has had the temerity to challenge the claims that have been made there. Any suggestion, no matter how mildly phrased or how in keeping with the principles of skepticism, that The Sisterhood might not be automatically and wholly right by default has been met with torrents of abuse, and a pot-pourri (actually, dung-heap would seem a more appropriate metaphor) of accusations ranging from troll at the lower end, through slimebag, douche etc, right up to misogynist or even rape-apologist.

And, as evidence in support of that quite damning charge, I’ll offer these “definitions” from the Atheism-Plus Glossary (6):

In social justice terms, marginalized groups cannot be guilty of -isms [e.g., racism, sexism, ableism, etc.] in regards to the axes of privilege that they fall low on, because they don’t have the power to institutionalize their prejudices.

Racism – discrimination or social prejudice against People of Color.

Sexism – discrimination or social prejudice against women.

So. By that token, in the catechism of AtheismPlus, “people of colour” can’t be guilty of “racism”, of “social prejudice” against “People of Whiteness”. Nor can women be guilty of “social prejudice” against men – or transgendered individuals. Because the Good Book of Atheism-Plus tells us so.

It is that type of attitude – multiplied in a great many other venues by a great many other people which I and others would be happy to document – along with the actions described by Kirby and typified by the “rough-ride” – not to say “burning at the stake” – experienced by Matt Dillahunty at the hands of various AtheismPlus commenters and moderators, that leads many to give some credence to that charge of “totalitarianism” – incipient and inchoate, but none the less a real cause for concern. We’re not talking of critical, skeptical, and rational thinking there, but arrogance and bigotry in defense of dogma. Reminds me of what Loyola – progenitor of the Jesuits – said in his “Rules for thinking with the Church”:

That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.

“Authoritarianism”, indeed. And of a very problematic and pathological variety.


1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/04/15/moving-right-along/#comment-227195”;
2) “_http://mycatsaremygods.com/2013/03/31/yes-im-going-there-dongles-disagreement-and-disproportianate-derision/#comment-247”;
3) “_http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078”;
4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2”;
5) “_https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B02RDDb71N8Xc2EwYmw5T2Z4eDg/edit?pli=1”;
6) “_http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2632&p=42878”;

39 A Hermit April 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

I kind of wondered at Stephanie Zvan calling both me and Skep tickle “tedious assholes” in that same thread in which you helpfully quoted me responding (1) to her with that “fat twat” insult. Really curious and quite surprising that there were many people who attempted to take me to task for my response to that insult but that there was a veritable dearth of people criticizing Zvan for her own “childish name-calling”. Any thoughts on the reason for that?

Well the obvious difference is that she was criticizing your behaviour (she felt you were derailing the comments on her blog) and you responded by calling her fat and attacking her gender…

The way I see it criticizing ideas and behaviour are fair game (even using strong language to do so) but attacking someone’s appearance and gender is childish and unnecessary. It’s not the words themselves which are the problem it’s the way in which the words are used…context matters.

This is what drew me into this whole conversation in the first place. I don’t have a problem with people having different opinions and expressing them forcefully, I certainly don’t have a problem with profanity but the use of personal attacks, the mocking of people’s appearance and gender is so out of keeping with the process of rational debate that I have felt compelled to speak out against it. So yeah, I’m less likely to object to someone describing derailing or annoying behaviour as the tedious assholery, but calling a person a “fat twat” just because they won’t accomadate your demands to use THEIR space as you see fit crosses all of the lines I’ve outlined in earlier comments.

…is it really all that silly to talk of “authoritarian regimes”?

Well yes…yes it is.

It not only exaggerates the issues we’re talking about it’s frankly insulting to those who endured actual totalitarianism by equating their suffering to an internet spat.

|

Considering that Ophelia Benson offered an analogy between Nazi Germany and TAM – e

Not exactly, but she admitted it was a clumsy piece of rhetoric at best, apologized and retracted it. It’s bad form to keep bringing it up, don’t you think?

By that token, in the catechism of AtheismPlus, “people of colour” can’t be guilty of “racism”, of “social prejudice” against “People of Whiteness”. Nor can women be guilty of “social prejudice” against men – or transgendered individuals.

I think you’re grossly oversimplifying a more subtle point; it’s about power imbalances between groups, not about individual behaviour. And no, obviously women can be guilty of social prejudice against the transgendered, who have very little power in the current social context.

I don’t see anything totalitarian in pointing out that marginalized groups can’t exercise institutional power. That’s how I understand what’s being said there, although I will admit it could probably be phrased better.

…typified by the “rough-ride” – not to say “burning at the stake” – experienced by Matt Dillahunty at the hands of various AtheismPlus commenters and moderators

You know I think you should probably talk to Matt Dillahunty about all of that before attempting to recruit him in defense of this ridiculous totalitarian charge. I have a feeling he has a somewhat different point of view than the one you are assigning to him here…

All I see here is griping about hurt feelings; I see strong opinions, strong language and personality clashes but I certainly don’t see anything I would call totalitarian or authoritarian or the “imposing” of ideologies. That kind of hyperbole is looks unhelpful, to say the least…

40 Steersman April 26, 2013 at 3:09 am

A Hermit said (#39):

I kind of wondered at Stephanie Zvan calling both me and Skep tickle “tedious assholes” in that same thread ….

Well the obvious difference is that she was criticizing your behaviour (she felt you were derailing the comments on her blog) and you responded by calling her fat and attacking her gender…

The way I see it criticizing ideas and behaviour are fair game (even using strong language to do so) but attacking someone’s appearance and gender is childish and unnecessary. It’s not the words themselves which are the problem it’s the way in which the words are used…context matters.

You’ve made several comments and points which I’d like to respond to, each of which is, I think, fairly involved and convoluted so I’ll address them one at a time, starting with your comments above about insults.

And first off, I wonder how in the hell you get from my insult to insisting that it was “attacking her gender”. Consider the following definition for “twat” and tell me where it explicitly says a person is “foolish or despicable” because of their gender:

twat [twæt twɒt] (1)
n Taboo slang
1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Anatomy) the female genitals
2. a girl or woman considered sexually
3. a foolish or despicable person

Pray tell, how is that word an attack on the female sex in general? It seems all you’ve got is some nebulous feeling connecting the implicit reference to female genitalia – the image of which seems to act like to electro-convulsive shocks to many people – to some level of opprobrium with absolutely diddly-squat in the way of evidence that that opprobrium necessarily applies to all women, that it is an attack on the gender of the individual targeted.

Secondly, while I certainly agree that “criticizing ideas and behaviours are fair game”, I think you are being decidedly disingenuous in thinking that that was what Stephanie was doing when she first insulted both Skep tickle and myself by calling us “assholes”. You might want to take a look at the definition to see what she really called us – and with diddly squat in the way of evidence to support the charge:

ass•hole (shl) (2)
n. Vulgar Slang
1. The anus.
2. A thoroughly contemptible, detestable person.

Does that look much like “a criticism of ideas and behaviours” to you? Is she saying we were walking, talking anuses? Or just so thoroughly contemptible and detestable as to be beyond the pale? Hardly human? Worse than murderers? Pedophiles? Father-rapers? She started the ball rolling, she crossed the Rubicon first, she let that genie out of the bottle so she doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on if the insults come back at her in spades: sow the wind, reap the whirl-wind.

But that whole issue of “attacking her gender” underscores, I think, a core problem with these “dialogues”, not just those that Michael is trying to get off the ground but with many of them in the larger “atheist-skeptic community”. And that problem seems to consist of some very contradictory if not antithetical interpretations of various words, phrases, and concepts. For example, one of many, you, and many others, seem to think that those insults constitute “gender attacks” – without any evidence to support your claims, or any willingness to address the issue – largely, it seems, because it supports whatever “narrative” you’re trying to promote, while many others reject those unsupported premises. Unless we can address the question and get over that hurdle I can’t see much progress happening.


1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/twat”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/asshole”;

41 A Hermit April 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I think the use of a term like “twat” which is a crude reference to female genitalia as one of it’s definitions in reference to a woman can pretty clearly be taken by a casual reader as a reference to her gender, especially in the context of the rest of that quote “You, madame – and I use the term loosely…”

I;’m rally sick of this pretense that the use of terms like “cunt” and “twat” aren’t intended as a gendered slur in the context of these debates. There have been enough objections to those terms in particular that it should be common sense and common courtesy to avoid using them in this context.

And since much of this discussion has been about the use of gendered slurs the deliberate use of a term like “twat” needn’t be taken charitably…in fact, so much of this current tension stems from the discussion about sexual harassment and sexism in general, so resorting to such loaded terms is hardly an innocent act. At the very least it demonstrates an insensitivity to the underlying issues.

I think you are being decidedly disingenuous in thinking that that was what Stephanie was doing when she first insulted both Skep tickle and myself by calling us “assholes”

She was quite specifically criticizing your behaviour…the term she used was “tedious assholes” and that was in reference to your derailing, and according to her, abusive attempts to hijack the conversation. This is after you called her “dishonest” and “disingenuous” and made all kinds of assumptions about her motives in earlier comments. I don’t know what else was said since other comments were held in moderation there, but please don’t pretend you came into that exchange all pure as the driven snow. You were, in short, behaving like an asshole. But it was behaviour, not you weight or your gender that was being attacked.

42 smhll April 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I think if people are going to allude to the situation in which Stephanie started a protest letter to Richard Dawkins, with the salutation “Dear Dick”, it is valuable to include a link to the complete post.

http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-professor-dawkins-from.html

Please read the letter and especially the signatures and then decide if a very mildly sexualized term is the important part of the message.

43 Steersman April 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

smhll said (#41):

I think if people are going to allude to the situation in which Stephanie started a protest letter to Richard Dawkins ….

Please read the letter and especially the signatures and then decide if a very mildly sexualized term is the important part of the message.

Hadn’t seen that before – further evidence of a rather deplorable level of rape and sexual assault which suggests a fairly if not unacceptably high level of sexism and misogyny. As does the comment section of Watson’s video on the subject (1).

Although, in passing, I sort of wonder at this statement of Zvan’s:

This was ignored by the man now widely referred to as Elevator Guy. (Yes, it’s been established that he was in a position to hear her. Yes, it’s been established that he followed her out of the space in which she’d been saying this and got on the elevator with her.)

Considering that Watson has apparently stated that she couldn’t remember the guy’s face I wonder how she could have known that he had been in the bar with her.

However, more importantly, I think your “mildly sexualized term” is rather self-serving to say the least. Seems to me that one might just as easily argue that it constituted “an attack on Dawkins’ gender” – at least if one wanted to be consistent with A Hermit’s criticism (#39) of my use of a similar epithet.

—-
1) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk”;

44 A Hermit April 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm

However, more importantly, I think your “mildly sexualized term” is rather self-serving to say the least. Seems to me that one might just as easily argue that it constituted “an attack on Dawkins’ gender” – at least if one wanted to be consistent with A Hermit’s criticism (#39) of my use of a similar epithet.

Context again becomes important. Dick is also a short form of Richard, and it was used in that letter to address the obliviousness of Dawkin’s towards women’s very real concerns about rape. So pointing out his male privilege wasn’t entirely inappropriate.

Calling Stephanie a “twat” just because you were angry that she was moderating your comments on ther other hand just looks petty.

You might call that a double standard on my part, and I might even agree that’s true; I do have different expectations for people in privileged positions. I’m less disturbed by a woman responding rudely to a man’s ignorant comments about rape than I am by a man calling a woman “twat” just because she won’t comply with his demands for her attention.

The two situations really aren’t the same at all.

45 A Hermit April 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Thanks for posting that link smhll, it’s been a while since a I read it, and that list of signatures. Good to be reminded where so much of the (quite justifiable) anger in this “debate”comes from.

46 D'oh April 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm

When you use gendered insults its harassment and threats. When I use gendered insults it’s perfectly justified, because reasons.

47 A Hermit April 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Context, D-oh, context.

One of the reasons i left religion was because I found I could no longer believe in absolutes. The rightness or wrongness of an act changes depending on the context in which the act occurs. A grown up morality requires a more subtle understanding of human dynamics than a list of do’s and don’ts can provide.

For example, if you punch me in the nose because I was taking a swing at you that’s self defense. If you do it because you think I looked at you funny it’s assault.

Now with that concept in mind go back and read my previous comment about the difference between Stephanie’s use of “Dear Dick” and steersman’s “fat twat” comment. See if you can figure out how context applies…

48 Steersman April 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm

A Hermit said (#43):

Calling Stephanie a “twat” just because you were angry that she was moderating your comments on the other hand just looks petty.

I called her a “twat” because she had called me and Skep tickle “assholes”. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. I don’t go in much for gratuitous insults but if people wish to tender one as prepayment then I’m more than happy to give full value – and then some.

The two situations really aren’t the same at all.

Yes, I’ll quite agree with you. On the one hand we have my argument: one insult deserves another, and then on the other we have your strawman: non-compliance with demands does not justify insults.

Do note the differences.

A Hermit, #46:

For example, if you punch me in the nose because I was taking a swing at you that’s self defense. If you do it because you think I looked at you funny it’s assault.

Yes, I’ll quite agree with you there too that context has a very great influence on the interpretations of words and actions. However, I think you’re comparing apples and aardvarks – entirely different kettles of fish if not of different species. There is a significant difference between insults and injury as evidenced by the very different legal penalties for each of those transgressions. To respond to the former with the latter is to cross the Rubicon – and those doing so first tend to be those the law leans heaviest on.

You might also want to give some serious thought to those differences too.

49 A Hermit April 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm

. On the one hand we have my argument: one insult deserves another, and then on the other we have your strawman: non-compliance with demands does not justify insults.

Actually that was my argument; your insulting behaviour in attempting to derail the comments and demanding to be heard, as if you are entitled to have access to someone else’s space, was the initial insult.

You wee behaving like a party guest who is asked to leave and comes back to pound on the door demanding to be let back in. You can’t expect a polite response to that kind of nonsense.

There is a significant difference between insults and injury as evidenced by the very different legal penalties for each of those transgressions. To respond to the former with the latter is to cross the Rubicon –

The “punch in the nose” was simply an illustration of the principle of context changing the moral correctness of an action, not an exact analogy or any particular incident.

The point is that I am more tolerant of someone using a term like “asshole” in response to someone who is behaving badly and refusing to respect their boundaries than I am of that other person using a term like “fat twat” because their bad behaviour isn’t rewarded with the kind of attention they are seeking…and I’m more tolerant of a group of rape victims using “dear Dick” in response to ignorance about rape culture, sexism and sexual harassment than of the people who denying that those things aren’t problems using “[vulgar term deleted]” to label someone who thinks we should be able to talk about those things.

Unlike you I’m not willing to pretend that there is some kind of equivalence between those situations just because of “bad words” being used.

50 Steersman April 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm

A Hermit said:

On the one hand we have my argument: one insult deserves another, and then on the other we have your strawman: non-compliance with demands does not justify insults.

Actually that was my argument: your insulting behaviour in attempting to derail the comments and demanding to be heard, as if you are entitled to have access to someone else’s space, was the initial insult.

I would say then that you have a highly subjective and idiosyncratic – not to say, self-serving – definition of “insult” there. Considering that Stephanie’s post (1) was a republishing of her response in Michael’s dialogue and which included some highly questionable statements (25a & 25b), and that her subsequent comments (#22) about moderation therein were equally problematic, I hardly think that challenging her on them is outside the realms of civilized dialog or constitutes any type of “insult”. That she has the right to foreclose on such attempts is certainly within her legal rights. However that she chooses to do so hardly precludes a subsequent judgement that she isn’t much interested in such civilized dialogs or on meeting her interlocutors on anything approaching a level playing field – rather “authoritarian” if not “totalitarian”, is it not?

The point is that I am more tolerant of someone using a term like “asshole” in response to someone who is behaving badly and refusing to respect their boundaries than I am of that other person using a term like “fat twat” because their bad behaviour isn’t rewarded with the kind of attention they are seeking ….

Once again you rather disingenuously if not dishonestly attempt to ascribe my insult to something other than as a response to her first use of explicit insults.

… and I’m more tolerant of a group of rape victims using “dear Dick” in response to ignorance about rape culture, sexism and sexual harassment than of the people who denying that those things aren’t problems using “[vulgar term deleted]” to label someone who thinks we should be able to talk about those things.

End justifies the means? Apart from the fact that it was only Stephanie who used the “Dear Dick” opening and not the entire “group of rape victims”, I would surely like to see the evidence you supposedly have that the entire group of Pitters is “denying that those things aren’t problems” as well as that each and every one of them is using [vulgar term deleted] to label someone who thinks we should be able to talk about those things”. You might wish to actually lurk about there for some time before making such wild and wildly off-base accusations about a group of people that you plainly know dick-all about.

And, speaking of “idiosyncratic” and relative to a comment of yours which is not posted yet, since you have used “gendered slur” quite frequently I would like to know what you mean by it. Assuming that it is, apparently, some insult directed at an individual that insults an entire group of which they are a member, I would like to see some evidence of that as well since I am unable to see or find any definition for “slur” in any reputable dictionary (2) that supports that contention.

——
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/04/15/moving-right-along”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/slur”;

51 A Hermit April 29, 2013 at 2:54 am

I would say then that you have a highly subjective and idiosyncratic – not to say, self-serving – definition of “insult” there

I think demanding someone;s attention and access to their space, as you were doing, after they have asked you to go away is disrespectful and insulting. Why do you think you are entitled to anyone else’s attention?

since you have used “gendered slur” quite frequently I would like to know what you mean by it.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Sexuality_and_gender-related_slurs
Category:Sexuality and gender-related slurs:
Twat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twat

It is a vulgar synonym for the human vulva…

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

noun Slang: Vulgar.
vulva.
Origin:
1650–60; perhaps orig. dialectal variant of *thwat, *thwot, presumed Modern English outcome of Old English *thwat, akin to Old Norse thveit cut, slit, forest clearing (> E dial. (N England) thwaite forest clearing)

————————-

There’s a good little essay about gendered insults, and the importance of keeping in mind power imbalances in this discussion here: ….http://morewomeninskepticism.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/27-gendered-insults/

Steersman, why is it so hard for you to just not call women “fat twat” when they’ve asked you not to call them things like that?

Seriously; is the use of insults like “fat twat” worth all this effort and verbiage and time? Does it help your cause at all to make it all about being able to call women “fat twats?” Is this really what’s most important to you? Is using insulting references to someone’s size and genitalia more important to you than respectful communication?

And yes, we all do it sometimes, but most of us who have passed puberty have enough sense to modify our language if the use of certain vulgarities is getting in the way of communicating our ideas.

52 Steersman April 29, 2013 at 7:59 am

A Hermit said:

Why do you think you are entitled to anyone else’s attention?

What makes you think that I think that? A mind-reading course? What I think is that if bloggers post screeds then they should expect – at least if they give more than lip-service to skepticism – to have their claims subjected to some degree of scrutiny and criticism. And that if they shut-down the discussion after the broaching of some counter-arguments then they should expect to have their credibility called into question. But their call.

There’s a good little essay about gendered insults, and the importance of keeping in mind power imbalances in this discussion here:

Interesting site. I hope you noticed this section (1):

Gendered insults are insulting. Period. It doesn’t matter if you are throwing around words like “pussy” and “twat” or “dick” and “prick”–an insult is an insult and whether you are male or female using words that refer to male or female genitalia, you are being rude. Period. Gendered insults are equally rude.

I look forward to you pointing that out to Stephanie and taking her to task for her “Dear Dick” insult of Richard Dawkins. As well as insulting all men if we are to accept the apparent definition of “slur” as an insult applying to every member of a class.

However, neither the Wikipedia article on “twat” nor that “Women in Skepticism” one really credibly address my argument that there is absolutely diddly-squat in any reputable dictionary definition of, for example, “twat” that indicates that it is an insult that necessarily applies to all women. Nor is there any definition of the word “slur” that indicates that that is the general meaning of such insults. I find it a little hard to understand why you’re apparently unable to comprehend that, and to see the rather problematic consequences of such rather arbitrary interpretations.

Interpretations, I might add, that really don’t hang together all that well and which suggest some rather specious and egregious “special pleading” (2) – being charitable. For instance, consider this effort (3) – “Art of the Insult; Sin of the Slur” – by Richard Carrier to defend insults as serving “the valid purpose of marginalizing that which ought to be marginalized” – when “morally deployed” – and to characterize and define the nature of “slurs”. Specifically, he argues in a rather long-winded screed comprising largely a heap of fail that:

There are obvious sexist and racist slurs, as most everyone by now well knows. Words that categorize, and intend to categorize, a gender or a race as in some way inferior to another (whether directed at the whole race or gender, or a particular member of it). Calling a woman a “cunt” is an obvious example. Like “dick” it only makes sense as an insult if it is intended to be an aspersion on character, which means it can be used in either of two ways: to suggest that all women are loathsome (“women are all cunts!”), or to say that a particular woman is (“what a cunt!”), or in some cultures a man. In the one case, it’s always false (violating rules 1 and 5); in the other, it can in some cases perhaps be true (the same way “dick” can be).

Similarly, “gay” can be a normal descriptive word (“gay pride”; “my uncle is gay”) or a word completely unrelated to sexual orientation (“we had a gay time”). But whenever it is used as an insult (“that’s gay!”) it violates rule 5, because it is only an insult if you are assuming there is something bad, inferior, or defective about gay people ….

That’s how it is for racist and sexist slurs.

So. “Slurs” as “assuming something bad, inferior, or defective” about the entire class that is supposedly denoted by the physiological feature or behaviour pattern implicit in the insult itself. However, apart from the rather egregious hypocrisy suggested by sometimes giving a pass to “dick” (who decides? Stephanie?), I would dearly like to know what evidence he – and the rest of his ilk – has for that and related assertions, how he managed to pull that rather preposterous claim out of his ass. In addition, if we are to grant any credence whatsoever to that mechanism then what we are to make of “asshole”? That everyone who uses that insult is asserting that all people who possess that anatomical feature are thereby “bad, inferior, defective, and loathsome”? And if it doesn’t apply then why not? Would that not be an egregious case of self-serving, hypocritical special pleading? Inquiring, not to say skeptical, minds want to know.

Steersman, why is it so hard for you to just not call women “fat twat” when they’ve asked you not to call them things like that?

I don’t recollect Stephanie asking me if it was ok to call me an “asshole” – one would have thought her smart enough to realize that it wasn’t. Nor do I recollect Stephanie explicitly asking me not to call her a “fat twat”. Nor do I remember anything from my reading of the history of the Second World War about the Japanese asking the Americans not to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Similarly, insults and slurs – however defined – are rhetorical techniques of “last resort” that are generally deprecated – unless “morally deployed” for the “valid purpose” of marginalization, of course – but there’s no point in using them if there isn’t going to be any effects: “all’s fair in love and war” and all that.

Is this really what’s most important to you? Is using insulting references to someone’s size and genitalia more important to you than respectful communication?

You have to be joking. You might want to try removing those FfTB coloured glasses – if they’re not ingrown by now. How much “respectful communication” do you think Stephanie was exhibiting with her prior – “poor dear”, “tedious assholes”, and “shoo”? There was obviously a fundamental “failure to communicate” at that point so I figured that I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

But still, it is a good question, the short answer to which is that I most definitely agree that “respectful communication” is of paramount importance. However, I also think that the idiosyncratic and largely arbitrary redefinition of various words – discussion of some here (4) but including “misogyny”, “sexism”, “patriarchy”, “slurs”, and “minority”, although with a whole raft if not ark of others – is muddying the waters to an impossible degree. As for why that might be I can’t really say for sure, although I think this quote – apparently – of Ophelia Benson on her Wikipedia page (5) is highly suggestive:

Her books and website defend objectivity and scientific truth against the threats to rational thinking allegedly posed by religious fundamentalism, pseudoscience, wishful thinking, postmodernism, relativism and “the tendency of the political Left to subjugate the rational assessment of truth-claims to the demands of a variety of pre-existing political and moral frameworks”.

Do note in particular: “the tendency of the political Left to subjugate the rational assessment of truth-claims to the demands of a variety of pre-existing political and moral frameworks.”

Seems to me that there isn’t a better or more succinct description of the efforts of Carrier, AtheismPlus, Radical-Feminism, and their ilk – all of whom seem to be rather heavily indebted to various leftist dogmas of one sort or another, including some egregious manifestations of post-moderism and pseudoscience – to redefine various words and concepts to support some highly questionable “narratives”, and “political and moral frameworks”. One might be forgiven for thinking that those promoting such specious if not monstrous narratives and frameworks have their heads so far up their asses that it is not at all surprising that they look so two-faced.

—-
1) “_http://morewomeninskepticism.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/27-gendered-insults/”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/2289”;
4) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ebGLe9MIOpg”;
5) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia_Benson”;

53 David Leech April 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

All this sexual epithets makes me laugh. Lets get this straight from the off, I’m a Anglo-Saxon and I still live in the country of where English was birthed. I use twat and cunt all the time (though never against women, funny enough.) In fact they are mostly used as terms of affection towards my male family and friends. What I wont tolerate is Yankee Johnny come lately trying to dictate how the language they borrowed should be used. It is nothing short of American Imperialism, look I don’t mind you borrowing mine and my ancestor’s language, though if you want to dictate how a language should be used then create your fucking own and be done with it.

54 Michael Kingsford Gray April 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

53 David Leech April 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

What I wont tolerate is Yankee Johnny come lately trying to dictate how the language they borrowed should be used. It is nothing short of American Imperialism

Look David: The Social Justice Worriers[sic] will not abandon their sole remaining blunt rhetorical cudgel solely because you have revealed its utter vacuity.
They rely on it as a last redoubt against adult rationality invading their petty-power tree-fort cult.

55 A Hermit April 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

What makes you think that I think that?

Your behaviour. When you keep banging on the door demanding to be let back into the party you’ve just been asked to leave that demonstrates a certain sense of entitlement on your part.

. How much “respectful communication” do you think Stephanie was exhibiting with her prior – “poor dear”, “tedious assholes”, and “shoo”?”

That only makes sense if you think “shoo” is as insulting as “fat twat”. Some words are more offensive than others. “Asshole” won’t get the same response from certain people as “nigger” will.

What I wont tolerate is Yankee Johnny come lately trying to dictate how the language they borrowed should be used. It is nothing short of American Imperialism, look I don’t mind you borrowing mine and my ancestor’s language, though if you want to dictate how a language should be used then create your fucking own and be done with it.”

No worries there then David, since I’m no Yankee.

The point is that if you are talking to someone who lives in another place where those words are traditionally used as gendered insults you might want to avoid using them IN THAT CONTEXT.

Are you guys really so hidebound and inflexible that you can’t even do that much? You can’t pretend to not know how certain words are taken in the context of a conversation about sexism, especially when you’re having that conversation with North American women. If you are truly interested in respectful, constructive communication it shouldn’t be a big deal to slightly moderate your language in that context. You can still your buddies at the pub “cunts” all you want, as long as they don’t mind.

Is it really that hard to do? Is saying “cunt” so important to you that it over-rides all other considerations? Because that seems to be the message you are sending here. Seems a bit petty…

56 David Leech April 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm

A Hermit.
I obviously moderate my language when talking to strangers anyway but after that, they better get used to it otherwise I have to bend and be flexible, anyone else can be stubborn, seems a bit one sided to me. I think I’ll pass.

57 A Hermit April 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

All I’m, suggesting, david, is that if you genuinely want to have a productive conversation with someone and you know that they don;t like being called “fat twat” or “nigger” or something similar that you might try to avoid using that term to refer to them.

Is that really so unreasonable?

58 A Hermit April 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I should just note here, by the way, that my initial reference to the “fat twat” remark was just a passing reference in a comment which was dealing with the question of whether or not there is actually a movement to impose an authoritarian ideology on the A/S community.

Somehow that issue gets completely overlooked because Steersman would rather argue about the appropriateness of calling a woman a “fat twat”.

Odd priorities, don’t you think?

59 Steersman April 29, 2013 at 7:40 pm

A Hermit said (#55 & #58):

How much “respectful communication” do you think Stephanie was exhibiting with her prior – “poor dear”, “tedious assholes”, and “shoo”?”

That only makes sense if you think “shoo” is as insulting as “fat twat”.

Do note my use of “and” – it was the combination that leads to the conclusion that “respectful communication” was no longer on the table, although “tedious assholes” was central. Rather disingenuous of you to suggest otherwise.

Some words are more offensive than others. “Asshole” won’t get the same response from certain people as “nigger” will.

So? What the fuck does that have to do with anything? Why should one person’s “feelings” get to be more “privileged” than someone else’s? I happen to think that “asshole” is even more egregious and offensive than “cunt” – at least by Richard Carrier’s highly questionable “logic” – as it insults the entire human race. In which case anyone using that has crossed the Rubicon and can expect to see the gloves come off.

The point is that if you are talking to someone who lives in another place where those words are traditionally used as gendered insults you might want to avoid using them IN THAT CONTEXT.

You seem to be under the impression – more self-serving than not, methinks – that I’m in the habit of going around calling every woman I disagree with a “fat twat” right out of the chute which is anything but the case. You seem to be unable to comprehend – in spite of repeated statements to this effect – that I tend to a “no-first use of nuclear weapons” type of policy: if people wish to have “respectful communications” then I’m more than ready to oblige, but if they wish to exchange insults and “open hostilities” with “asshole” or “idiot” then they should expect massive retaliation. “Mutual-assured-destruction” has, or should have, some relevance in interpersonal communications as well as in geopolitics.

Somehow that issue [the question of whether or not there is actually a movement to impose an authoritarian ideology on the A/S community] gets completely overlooked because Steersman would rather argue about the appropriateness of calling a woman a “fat twat”.

Odd priorities, don’t you think?

I don’t think you’re really reading what I’ve been saying with much attention to detail or comprehension – not really what I would call “respectful communication”. You might wish to go back and read a little more carefully my quote of Ophelia Benson (#52?) along with related comments. The whole argument that gendered insults are intrinsically “sexist” – stereotyping women as a class in a negative fashion – and which should therefore be anathematized in the strongest possible terms is, I think, prima facie evidence of an attempt “to impose an authoritarian ideology on the A/S community”. That you apparently refuse to address that claim and counter-evidence is also, I think, evidence that you also subscribe to that same ideology and movement. An absolutist habit of thought that dies hard?

60 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 12:54 am

You’re not actually responding to the issues I’ve raised. We’re done.

61 Steersman April 30, 2013 at 2:47 am

A Hermit said (#60):

You’re not actually responding to the issues I’ve raised. We’re done.

As you wish, although of course I don’t see it that way. More particularly, the last part of my last comment (#59) quite clearly indicates that I think that the two conflicting interpretations of gendered insults is a case in point supporting the argument that there is a “movement to impose an authoritarian ideology on the A/S community” (your phrasing). Doesn’t look all that good when you demand evidence for some claim but refuse to address it when it is provided. Kind of looks like the prototypical creationist response (with fingers in ears) of “Nyah! Nyah! Can’t hear you!”

However, I think you quite reasonably framed this discussion, more or less as I see it, by stating several central points:

(1) The whole idea of authoritarianism or “imposed ideologies” coming out in this dialogue frankly just sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory to me. [#11]

(2) People have every right to criticize. What they don’t have is the right (or more properly the privilege) to not be criticized in return. [#11]

(3) I’m more interested in how people are planning to behave in the future; what are we all prepared to do to build a more open, inclusive and effective community? [#36]

(4) I think you’re grossly oversimplifying a more subtle point; it’s about power imbalances between groups, not about individual behaviour. [#39]

I addressed point (1) in the lengthy discussion about the attempted imposition of some rather idiosyncratic and problematic definitions of sexism and misogyny; point (2) is on the back-burner as it is somewhat secondary, at least at this stage; point (3) is partially related to the question of epithets, a conclusion to which might be to agree to a “no-first-use” of them but after that none are off the table or beyond the pale; and point (4) is a whole can-of-worms that I alluded to with a reference to Zvan’s original points 25a and 25b, and by quoting Benson about the “the tendency of the political Left to subjugate the rational assessment of truth-claims to the demands of a variety of pre-existing political and moral frameworks”.

And, more particularly relative to your stated point (4), I think that you and Zvan both, along with many others in your cohort – links, quotes, and citations available on request – have a particular and rather peculiar way of interpreting group dynamics and behaviours for which you have diddly-squat in the way of credible supporting evidence which qualifies as pseudoscience at best, yet which you apparently wish to impose on everyone else. “Authoritarianism”, indeed.

Really doesn’t seem to me that your claim – that I was “not actually responding to the issues [you] have raised” – holds a lot of water.

62 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 7:45 am

A Hermit:

Steersman, why is it so hard for you to just not call women “fat twat” when they’ve asked you not to call them things like that?

With the caveat that, for the sake of avoiding some kind of strawman, you change “women” with “a woman”, I see no reason to not call someone something they’ve asked you not to call them when the intent is to insult them. If I call someone something nasty, it’s not to make them a favor, it’s to piss them off. Or sometimes, it’s just fun back and forth with friends, which is not the case in this context. See, if a friend asked me not to call them something, I’d never call them that. Or to never use certain words in their presence, then I’d happily oblige.

But this wasn’t a discussion between friends, so I’d say all bets are off (even if I wouldn’t have used such language myself. I’d probably have gone for “double-faced hypocrite fucker”, or something along those lines.)

*For the record, and I’ve said it elswhere, I’m against using a person’s physical appearance to insult them. But this is a personal moral stance, and I don’t really expect others to go along. I wish they wouldn’t, but I have no right whatshowever to demand that they don’t).

63 Steersman April 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD said:

… I see no reason to not call someone something they’ve asked you not to call them when the intent is to insult them.

Yes, quite agree with you. Many people seem to be unclear on that concept.

For the record, and I’ve said it elswhere, I’m against using a person’s physical appearance to insult them. But this is a personal moral stance, and I don’t really expect others to go along. I wish they wouldn’t, but I have no right whatsoever to demand that they don’t).

Yes, and I generally agree with you there too, although I don’t think it should be considered an absolute. For instance, I would endeavor to not use that type of insult in a “first-use” scenario – all insults for that matter. But in a case where the other person has “opened hostilities” first by using any insult then I think, as you say, all bets are off and their use would depend heavily on context.

64 David Leech April 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

A Hermit April 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I seem to have given you the wrong impression here, I am certainly not advocating the use of insults, they are still nasty, immature and more importantly counterproductive to any discussion. was just pointing out that if an insult is not used as a sexual epithet in the place it comes from, then it isn’t meant as a sexual epithet. Simple as that really. I would still rather they weren’t used at all. Though we’re all adults here so rude words should not be a big deal anyway, I personally just ignore them.

65 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Phil_Giordana_FCD …For the record, and I’ve said it elswhere, I’m against using a person’s physical appearance to insult them. But this is a personal moral stance, and I don’t really expect others to go along. I wish they wouldn’t, but I have no right whatshowever to demand that they don’t).

Do you have a right to ask them not to? Do you have a right to point out that they are being rude and offensive?

And getting back to the point I was originally making (back in comment 11 before we got derailed into yet another boring defense of the BRAVE HEROES™ courageous use of slang for genitalia when referring to women they are disagreeing with…) is asking people to not use offensive language or pointing out that it is offensive equivalent to totalitarian, authoritarian imposition of an ideology?

Or is that perhaps (dare I use the term) a bit hysterical?

David Leech… was just pointing out that if an insult is not used as a sexual epithet in the place it comes from, then it isn’t meant as a sexual epithet.

In the context of a conversation which has largely been about sexism and sexual harassment in which the sexually demeaning implications of the term have been discussed ad nauseum how could it be taken as anything else?

Do you really think the slymepit denizens who like to joke about “[vulgar term deleted]” aren’t aware of the sexually demeaning implications of that phrase?

How naive are you?

66 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

A Hermit:

And getting back to the point I was originally making (back in comment 11 before we got derailed into yet another boring defense of the BRAVE HEROES™ courageous use of slang for genitalia when referring to women they are disagreeing with…) is asking people to not use offensive language or pointing out that it is offensive equivalent to totalitarian, authoritarian imposition of an ideology?

Not really, as far as it is done on the objecting person’s blog/site. When people start going out of their way to fight “bad werdz” on other people’s blogs/sites, like they are the keepers of all authority on the matter, I’d say yes, it’s just someone trying to control a conversation they have absolutely no right to try and control (see Aratina cage’s objection to my use of “twat” on a previous Michael thread and his demand that Michael deletes/edits my post). This, to me, is bullshit.

Or is that perhaps (dare I use the term) a bit hysterical?

Actually, friendly advice, don’t use that word too lightly in some parts. Which is a part of the problem. Some people have forgotten all about nuances: if I say “oh, this George carlin show was hysterical” and some third party comes around and tells me I shouldn’t use that word because it’s sexist or was once used to oppress women, don’t expect me to take that person seriously. Yet, Benson has made it one of her sacred duties to point a metaphorical finger at people who use “hysterical”, whatever the context.

So yet again, a kind of thought/speech police. Sorry, but I don’t accept that.

Do you really think the slymepit denizens who like to joke about “[vulgar term deleted]” aren’t aware of the sexually demeaning implications of that phrase?

The Pitters using that moniker are acting like idiots. But it’s their right to act as such. And it’s my right to not have to complain every time they do. I have no duty attached to my being a commenter at the Slymepit. but again, when I use ‘twat” or “cunt” to reffer to a male person, there is no sexual connotation in that use. It’s just as empty an insult as “wobgymer” or “doobywacky”.

So why does the word suddenly become a magic incantation when it’s aimed at a woman? (note: not “women”, or “all women”, but “a woman”.)

67 David Leech April 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

A Hermit.

Look I had to put up with this watchdog shit in the seventies with Mary fucking Whitehouse. I will never tolerate anybody telling me what is offensive and should be banned. You know why because I’m a adult and can make my own mind up of what I want to see and hear. If you what censorship then buy some ear plugs and/or an eye mask. You don’t like the insult ‘[vulgar term deleted]‘ then don’t lurk at the slymepit and you wont see it, nobody is forcing you to go there. The atheist community decided long ago that nobody has the right not to be offended, we couldn’t exist in a religious world otherwise. That same rule has to apply to us as well or we are hypocrites. If you want rules that can’t be questioned then make them for yourself and your sensitive cohorts. Me, I hate censorship and will have no part in it. I think it was Stephen Fry who said ‘Your offended, so fucking what.’ Science, reason and logic matter to me, your feeling are your own problem so deal with them.

68 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm

. If you what censorship then buy some ear plugs and/or an eye mask.

Where did I say I wanted censorship? I’m just pointing out that 1) if you’re sincere about having a productive conversation with someone you’ll avoid calling them names which you know are offensive to them and 2) that free speech goes both ways and the use of slurs like “[vulgar term deleted]” isn’t protected from criticism.

This goes both ways, you know. You don’t like being criticized for using that kind of insult that’s just too bad. Nobody is forcing you to say it or to read the criticisms

…so stop trying to force your ideology on me and censor my speech… /sarcasm

I’m sorry if you’re offended by people pointing out the juvenile, self serving, unproductive, sexist nature of that kind of deliberate insult, but hey, as you say yourself, that’s your fucking problem…isn’t it?

69 Steersman April 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

A Hermit said:

I’m sorry if you’re offended by people pointing out the juvenile, self serving, unproductive, sexist nature of that kind of deliberate insult, but hey, as you say yourself, that’s your fucking problem…isn’t it?

The problem is that you’re asserting that those insults are sexist without a single solitary shred of proof that they so qualify. All you got are some ipse dixit Papal encyclicals asserting that that is the case.

And the other part of the problem is that you and many others refuse to address that challenge in any way except by repeating the claim – “because the Bible tells me so”. No wonder people take that as being evidence of a rather problematic authoritarian if not totalitarian frame of mind.

70 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 7:36 pm

The Pitters using that moniker are acting like idiots. But it’s their right to act as such. And it’s my right to not have to complain every time they do.

You know it’s just a never ending source of amusement to see those BRAVE HEROES™ at the ‘pit getting all bent out of shape when other people exercise their right to speak and criticize. On the one hand they want to be able to say anything they want to and about anyone without repercussions and then they turn around and get offended and whine and cry for the rest of us to shut up and keep our opinions to ourselves when they’re the one’s being criticized.

Well boo-fucking-hoo

Talk about hypocrisy…

I have no duty attached to my being a commenter at the Slymepit. but again, when I use ‘twat” or “cunt” to reffer to a male person, there is no sexual connotation in that use. It’s just as empty an insult as “wobgymer” or “doobywacky”.

Actually one could argue that using a reference to female genitalia as an insult implies that there is something inferior or undesirable about femininity. Calling someone “womanly” as an insult only works if you think being a woman is somehow a bad thing…

So why does the word suddenly become a magic incantation when it’s aimed at a woman? (note: not “women”, or “all women”, but “a woman”.)

Why is “nigger” offensive to black people?

But more importantly why are you all still whinging on about the importance of being able to call women “cunts” and not talking about the question I was actually asking about the wild idea that there is some kind of nefarious totalitarian takeover underway in the atheist/skeptic movement (such as it is…)? Where is the evidence of this awful conspiracy we’re being warned about? Who is behind it? Is it the Bilderbergers? The Illuminati?

Inquiring minds want to know!

71 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

The problem is that you’re asserting that those insults are sexist without a single solitary shred of proof that they so qualify.

Gosh, you’re right Steersman! How could use of a vulgar slang term for female genitalia as an insult have anything to do with sex? o_O

And I’m sorry but pointing out that rather obvious connection hardly qualifies as Stalinism…

72 Steersman April 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm

A Hermit said:

The problem is that you’re asserting that those insults are sexist without a single solitary shred of proof that they so qualify.

Gosh, you’re right Steersman! How could use of a vulgar slang term for female genitalia as an insult have anything to do with sex? o_O

That still doesn’t justify the leap of faith that you are making in asserting that someone using that insult is saying that all those possessing such physiological attributes are likewise targeted with the same opprobrium implicit in the insult.

Seems to me that the basis for such insults is a variation of synecdoche (1) in which one is asserting that the “insultee” is no more than such anatomical features – that they have been reduced to that only. I don’t know about you of course, but I sort of see myself as being something more than just a brain or a penis or an anus or “a strong back and a weak mind”. And if someone attempts to “reduce” another man to just one of those attributes then I don’t get my knickers in a twist by assuming that they are saying the same thing about me. You’re welcome to do so, of course, but that is no obligation on me or anyone else to do likewise.

And I’m sorry but pointing out that rather obvious connection hardly qualifies as Stalinism…

You might have a point – IF you actually had some evidence, some correlational data, some proof of causation. But what you actually have is diddly-squat. And while it might be “obvious” to you that that is the case, it was equally “obvious” to a great many people that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the Sun revolved around it. The “Stalinism” resides in demanding that other people agree with your assessment – your perception of “obvious” – when you have absolutely fuck-all in the way of evidence. Sort of like what the Inquisition did to Giordana Bruno (2) and tried to do to Galileo.

Why is “nigger” offensive to black people?

Because they too –at least that subset of “black people” since not all so deluded or easily swayed by totemism – are apparently assuming that an insult of one black person is an insult of all black people. Do you think that all white people are or should be insulted by someone calling one white person, for example, a no-good shiftless bum? Most sensible, rational, and skeptical people are likely to ask themselves first whether the charge is valid or not before getting in a huff. Otherwise one is entitled to question their motivations and suggest the response is no more than self-serving crocodile tears.

—-
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/synecdoche”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno”;

73 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm

A Hermit, you’re starting from a strawman.

You know it’s just a never ending source of amusement to see those BRAVE HEROES™ at the ‘pit getting all bent out of shape when other people exercise their right to speak and criticize. On the one hand they want to be able to say anything they want to and about anyone without repercussions and then they turn around and get offended and whine and cry for the rest of us to shut up and keep our opinions to ourselves when they’re the one’s being criticized.

NO ONE at the Pit is getting offended about the “other side” using slurs or whatever. What we (they) get pissed off at is the double standards and hypocrisy. And we don’t “whine and cry”, we document, and also mock. Show me one exemple of someone literaly “whinning and crying” at the Pitt over something said at FTB. Though luck. on the other hand, we have plenty exemples of posters from FTB having “tears of rage in their eyes” over some bullshit like a shirt or a comment on the web. ps: the “brave hero” shit? I find it ridiculous. But hey, that’s their choice to call themself that, who cares?

Well boo-fucking-hoo

Careful there, you’re denying my lived experience… ;)

Actually one could argue that using a reference to female genitalia as an insult implies that there is something inferior or undesirable about femininity. Calling someone “womanly” as an insult only works if you think being a woman is somehow a bad thing…

Same as using a reference to male genitalia implies that there is something inferior or undesirable about men (I loath to use “masculinity”. This word has too much baggage). I’ve never heard about using “womanly” as an insult. Sorry, cultural bias. Maybe “girlish” directed at a man would be more fitting for your exemple, and I would agree with you there.

Why is “nigger” offensive to black people?

You’d be surprised to know that it is not quite so, except when uttered by other ethnicities. Funny how that works. The black community (in the US) has taken back the word nigger. They have used it as a friendly term towards other black people, and have gotten some sense of power from it. So what? It’s just a word, a series of letters stringed together. You want to get offended by it, go the way of US media who got all bunched in their knickers when they heard the speach of Hugo Chavez right after Obama’s first election and he used the word “negro presidente”. which just means “black president”. But there was “negro” in there. Oh, the infamy! Please, don’t use the word “con” anymore, it means “cunt” in French.

See where I’m going? Live and let live is my main policy. Don’t ignore cultural differences. And don’t give one priorities on others.

But more importantly why are you all still whinging on about the importance of being able to call women “cunts” and not talking about the question I was actually asking about the wild idea that there is some kind of nefarious totalitarian takeover underway in the atheist/skeptic movement (such as it is…)? Where is the evidence of this awful conspiracy we’re being warned about? Who is behind it? Is it the Bilderbergers? The Illuminati?

I have not personally said there was such thing. I do, however, think it’s dangerous to have a bunch of pseudo-prominent “skeptics” try to puch a political agenda that is in no way skeptical. I know we won’t agree on this, but for me Myers’ “dictionary atheist” schtick is bullshit. I don’t believe in any gods, and that’s the end of it. The social causes I defend are not inherent to me being an atheist. Atheism might inform me about certain issues, and it is welcome information indeed, but it’s not what defines me as an atheist.

Damn, sorry for the rant, and A Hermit, please keep engaging, it is quite interesting as far as dialogues go.

74 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Eh, I borked my last quote. A Hermit’s ends at “illuminati” (whatever the fuck that is), and mine starts at “I have not personally” (doesn’t mean much either, out of context).

And as a flyby, thanks again Michael for the open space.

75 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 9:07 pm

That still doesn’t justify the leap of faith that you are making in asserting that someone using that insult is saying that all those possessing such physiological attributes are likewise targeted with the same opprobrium implicit in the insult.

That’s not actually what I was saying, but you’ve never let that stop you before, have you?

Synecdoche only works as an insult if the symbol in question is by implication undesirable (you should learn what those big words really man before using them in an argument…o_O). And reducing someone to their genitals is inherently a sexist generalization, don’t you think?

You might have a point – IF you actually had some evidence, some correlational data, some proof of causation.

For fuck’s sake man, look up the word in a dictionary! You don’t need a dissertation to find out that “cunt” is slang for female genitalia…

. The “Stalinism” resides in demanding that other people agree with your assessment – your perception of “obvious” – when you have absolutely fuck-all in the way of evidence. Sort of like what the Inquisition did to Giordana Bruno (2) and tried to do to Galileo….

Right because calling women “cunts” is just like doing astronomy…and pointing out what can be read in any dictionary is just like burning someone at the stake.

Like I said before, you do have an odd set of priorities.

76 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm

For fuck’s sake man, look up the word in a dictionary! You don’t need a dissertation to find out that “cunt” is slang for female genitalia…

Yep, like “dick” is slang for male genitalia. Or “arsehole” is slang for anus. Or “boobs” is slang for breasts. What’s the point here?

77 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

NO ONE at the Pit is getting offended about the “other side” using slurs or whatever.

I never said they were. They are offended at people pointing out that their use of slurs and insults is childish and makes them look bad.

And we don’t “whine and cry”…

Have you been reading Steersman’s comments?

Seriously, from where I sit it looks like that’s about all you lot do; whine and cry and moan about how mean people are for not liking it when you call them “cunts.” Talk about professional victims…all this wordy rationalizing and ridiculous BS about Stalinism and Inquisitions just because someone points out that women don’t like it when you call them “twat” or “cunt”. Do you guys ever try to take a step back and look at yourselves from the perspective of someone outside your little forum?

Here’s a reply I posted to someone at a “A Million Gods recently…
http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/04/25/i-get-mail-hating-my-soapbox/comment-page-1/#comment-88704

Just for fun I decided to take a look and compare whats going on today…

Here on FtB Chris Clarke is talking about the reactions to the building collapse in Bangladesh. PZ is talking about creationists and UFO enthusiasts and teaching strategies, Ed Brayton is talking about Republican attempts to cut judges pay and has a bit about “wingnut on wingnut crime”, Chris Rodda is discussing Louis Gohmert’s awful, unconstitutional “CHURCH Act”, the whole community is chipping in to help Darksyde pay his rent after his heart attack, Greta has a guest post by Rebecca Henlsler on public grieving and secularism, Stephanie is posting videos from Skeptech, Ophelia is taking on the Islamists over Hijabs, Maryam is addressing Sharia Councils in Britain and persecution of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, Mano Singham is supporting anti-homeopathy efforts in India…

————————–

And what’s on over at the slymepit today…? Why, what a surprise! Just for a change they’re….whining about PPPEEEEEEEZZZEEEEEEE!!1!!!1!11

And that’s about it.

I keep hearing about FtB being such an “echo chamber”, yet I can, on any given day, find a dozen different subjects being discussed there from as many different viewpoints. But any time I drop in to the `pit it’s the same old thing; whining and moaning about what a bad bad person PZ Myers is.

It’s pathetic…

we have plenty exemples of posters from FTB having “tears of rage in their eyes” over some bullshit like a shirt…

You know if you’re going to make an assertion like that you ought to check your story first. You’re referring of course to Surly Amy, who isn’t a poster at FtB and was upset at a whole weekend of harassment and insulting behaviour with the T-shirt being the last straw. Even the person who wore the shirt has acknowledged as much and apologized for her part in it all. So that’s not “plenty of examples” of anything…

You’d be surprised to know that it is not quite so, except when uttered by other ethnicities. Funny how that works. The black community (in the US) has taken back the word nigger. They have used it as a friendly term towards other black people, and have gotten some sense of power from it.

Some have, this is not, by any means, a universal thing. And in any case I’d bet if you or I went around calling people “nigger’ we’d probably get quite a negative reaction…and for good reason. It’s a nasty, insulting, belittling term when directed at a person of colour especially when it’s coming from someone outside that demographic. Like “cunt” is for many women, especially when a man uses it to belittle them.

See where I’m going? Live and let live is my main policy. Don’t ignore cultural differences.

Well yes, isn’t that exactly what Ive been saying!? Context matters. Call your mates in the pub “cunt’ all you want as long as THEY don’t object. But when you’re talking to or about women about sexism ad related subjects you might want to avoid use of the term if you have even a dim awareness of those cultural differences. Don;t assume that because you hear two black guys calling each other “my nigga” that they are’t going to pissed at you if you walk up and call them niggers…context fucking matters!

I have not personally said there was such thing. I do, however, think it’s dangerous to have a bunch of pseudo-prominent “skeptics” try to puch a political agenda that is in no way skeptical.

AH FINALLY! This was the thing I was asking about to begin with before we got diverted into yet another long pointless diversion about the appropriateness of calling women “cunt.” A subject which I would have thought anyone with even a tiny bit of social awareness wouldn’t have too much trouble dealing with…

So, two questions:

1) What’s so dangerous about people wanting to make atheist/skeptic spaces more welcoming to a more diverse group of people, including women?

and

2) Shouldn’t skepticism be applied to existing social structures?

Oh and a third

How does taking a skeptical, critical look at those existing social structures in a an effort to understand how we can make skeptic/atheist spaces more inclusive become “imposing an ideology?”

78 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm

A hermit: give me a few minutes to format my answer, please :)

79 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Yep, like “dick” is slang for male genitalia. Or “arsehole” is slang for anus. Or “boobs” is slang for breasts. What’s the point here?

I’ve made the point a number of times, go back and read my comments again and if you still can’t figure it out then maybe you should just find another hobby, OK? I’m done what that subject; I’m tired of repeating myself.

80 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I’ve made the point a number of times, go back and read my comments again and if you still can’t figure it out then maybe you should just find another hobby, OK? I’m done what that subject; I’m tired of repeating myself.

or maybe you could learn to express yourself in simplier, shorter ways than to post in blockwalls?

81 A Hermit April 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Take your time Phil, I’m off to the gym…

82 Steersman April 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm

A Hermit said:

That’s not actually what I was saying, but you’ve never let that stop you before, have you?

Synecdoche only works as an insult if the symbol in question is by implication undesirable (you should learn what those big words really man before using them in an argument…o_O).

What is undesirable is to be considered only that – objectification. Nothing in such uses that justifies your inference that one is so objectifying every other woman. Or man. Or black person. Or ….

And reducing someone to their genitals is inherently a sexist generalization, don’t you think?

But it looks to me like my previous rephrasing of your statements is exactly what you are saying and that you haven’t given any evidence to disabuse me of the impression. And your use of “sexist” suggests that you don’t know what that word means either – which might be why you think that my rephrasing of your argument is wrong. More specifically, “sexist” means (1):

sex•ism (skszm)
n.
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

And stereotype means:

ster•e•o•type (str–tp, stîr-)
n.
1. A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.

So, apart from the highly questionable suggestion that discrimination against men based on gender is not possible, sexism essentially means, as far as I can see it anyway, characterizing the entire sex based on the attributes of a few members of it. Nothing in there about about reducing a single individual to their genitals through a gendered insult.

You might have a case if someone was saying “all women are cunts”, or “all men are pricks”, or “all blacks are niggers”. Let me know if you find an example of that and I’ll readily agree with you that they are being sexist or racist. Otherwise? Phftt ….

For fuck’s sake man, look up the word in a dictionary! You don’t need a dissertation to find out that “cunt” is slang for female genitalia…

I’ve done that many times but as it seems you haven’t ever, let’s take a look shall we? To wit (2):

cunt (knt)
n. Vulgar Slang
1. The female genital organs.
2. Sexual intercourse with a woman.
3. a. Offensive Used as a disparaging term for a woman.
b. Used as a disparaging term for a person one dislikes or finds extremely disagreeable.

Nothing in there, that I can see anyway, that asserts that all “female genital organs” are intrinsically “disagreeable” or that those who possess them are likewise: those are separate definitions and don’t necessarily apply simultaneously. And that one might find or think one set of them so hardly justifies concluding that anyone using that insult thinks that way about all of them. Seems to me that you, and a great many others, are making inferences that are not at all supported by any rational evaluation of the definitions in play. And insisting that everyone else accept them – which is rather “authoritarian”, is it not?

Right because calling women “cunts” is just like doing astronomy…and pointing out what can be read in any dictionary is just like burning someone at the stake.

Christ in a sidecar. You might want to spend some time paying real close attention to the meaning and uses of analogies (3) which exhibit similarities and differences. In this case the similarity is in insisting that something that is “obvious” to you – and the Inquisition – for which you – and they – have or had diddly-squat in the way of evidence is something that everyone else has to accept.

—-
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexist”;
2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cunt”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;

83 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

A Hermit: part one of my answer (it’s 20 pas midnight here, I’m knackered)

I never said they were. They are offended at people pointing out that their use of slurs and insults is childish and makes them look bad.

*snip*at the ‘pit getting all bent out of shape when other people exercise their right to speak and criticize. On the one hand they want to be able to say anything they want to and about anyone without repercussions and then they turn around and GET OFFENDED and WHINE AND CRY for the rest of us to shut up and keep our opinions to ourselves when they’re the one’s being criticized.

[citation seriously needed]

Have you been reading Steersman’s comments?

Yes, so what. this guy is called Steersman. I’m called Phil Giordana. Do I have to agree with everything he says? Does he have to? I don’t think so. It would be a sad wordl if it was working this way.

Seriously, from where I sit it looks like that’s about ALL YOU LOT do; WHINE AND CRY AND MOAN about how mean people are for not liking it when you call them “cunts.” Talk about professional victims…all this wordy rationalizing and ridiculous BS about Stalinism and Inquisitions just because someone points out that women don’t like it when you call them “twat” or “cunt”. Do you guys ever try to take a step back and look at yourselves from the perspective of someone outside your little forum?

Wrong. lots of us don’t “whine and cry and moan”. We express our freedom of speech (you know, “freeze peach”). And again, it’s not “women”, it’s “some women in the A/S movement”, not to go as far as “a very few women”, because I don’t want to be too limitative. Disagreeing with a woman does not equal sexism or misogyny. It equals disagreeing witn the ideas put forths by someone, be it a man, a woman…etc.

I’ll skip on that other blog stuff, as it is not the meat of the discussion right now.

————————–

And what’s on over at the slymepit today…? Why, what a surprise! Just for a change they’re….whining about PPPEEEEEEEZZZEEEEEEE!!1!!!1!11

Well, yeah, won’t you know, that’s what we do, like PZ and all have been doing with creationists and IDers (remember, a better time).

You know if you’re going to make an assertion like that you ought to check your story first. You’re referring of course to Surly Amy, who isn’t a poster at FtB and was upset at a whole weekend of harassment and insulting behaviour with the T-shirt being the last straw. Even the person who wore the shirt has acknowledged as much and apologized for her part in it all. So that’s not “plenty of examples” of anything…

Last point I’ll make (sorry formating here is not going easy on me): No, I was not referring to Amy. I was referring to multiple commenters at FTB. Maybe Julian, or Josh? I really couldn’t say, but these are the type of comments I’ve seen there.

Sorry if I don’t address the rest of your post. it’s late here, and I really am not familliar with this formating. I hope my answer will be fine. if not, my appologies.

84 Phil_Giordana_FCD April 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Comment to A hermit in moderation. I’ll wait (or sleep, more accurately)

85 A Hermit May 1, 2013 at 12:30 am

Gee thanks for the link Steersman. Maybe you should read it yourself…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Rhetoric

“An analogy can be a spoken or textual comparison between two words (or sets of words) to highlight some form of semantic similarity between them. Such analogies can be used to strengthen political and philosophical arguments, even when the semantic similarity is weak or non-existent (if crafted carefully for the audience). Analogies are sometimes used to persuade those that cannot detect the flawed or non-existent arguments.”

The parts I’ve bolded describe your efforts perfectly…

86 John Greg May 1, 2013 at 12:42 am

I know this is overlong; my apologies.
.
A Hermit, when it comes to men and women in the real world, I support the following:
.
– equal pay for equal work
– equal opportunity for equal ability
– equal education for equal ability
.
And many more similar egalitarian stances and ideals.
.
Nonetheless, by the reasonable, rational, and respectful communicators (and blog hosts PeeZus, InSvanity, LousyCanuck, Benson, McCreight, Natalie Screed, R. Watson, Surly Amy, and many others), at FfTB and Skepchick, I have been labelled:
.
– an anti-feminist
– a misogynist
– a sexist
– a hater of all women
– a rape enabler
– an asshole
– an asshat
– a person with mental health problems
– a sociopath
– a sick and twisted individual
.
And much, much more, all for simply disagreeing with some of their proposed methods of “practicing” feminism, and/or for asking for evidence to claims made.
.
That is some real fine reasonable, rational, and respectful communication, indeed.
.
A Hermit, when it comes to men and women in the real world, I never call men or women cunts; only very rarely call men or women bitches; have never, to the best of my recollection, ever called anyone a twat; and I have never, so far as memory serves, murdered anyone, nor actively tried to or even seriously contemplated such a thing.
.
Nonetheless, I have been accused of:
.
– calling all women cunts
– calling all women bitches
– calling all women twats
– being precisely as maladjusted and evil as Marc Lepine but have not yet killed anyone only because I am too ashamed of my darker desires and too frightened of the consequences of doing so
– being a hater of all women
– being a cyber stalker
– being an angry harasser of women
.
And so much more. All for the violent, evil, hateful act of disagreeing with some of the more extremist views, claims, and statements made by those practitioners of reasonable, rational, and respectful communications.
.
Here is a link to some of the reasonable, rational, and respectful communication practiced on a very regular basis by your FfTB pals: (add your own http stuff) http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=256
.
If you have any integrity at all, you will go and peruse those comments, and then report back to us how those comments reflect reasonable, rational, and respectful communication. Go on, have a look.
.
What you, and almost the entirety of FfTB, Skepchick.org, and the A+ fiasco, fail and refuse to acknowledge is that almost 100% of the hostile commentary directed from the Pit to the FfTB, Skepchick.org, and the A+ communities is reaction; reaction against the initial lies, slanders, name calling, threats, and other intellectual acts of what that nutbar Ophie Benson (or was it that other nutbar, Greta the pronographer kinker?) calls “stochastic terrorism” (except when her crew do it) that issue from those portals of, as PeeZus calls it, reasoned and rational dialogue.
.
Hermit asks:
.
“… is asking people to not use offensive language or pointing out that it is offensive equivalent to totalitarian, authoritarian imposition of an ideology?”
.
No, it is not equivalent. But, like most FfTB / Skepchick / A+ dissemblers, you miss, either intentionally, or through reading comprehension problems, the simple fact that it is not the use of such language, nor a demand to not use such language, that is the real point here. For over two years now, the real point is simply that almost the entirety of FfTB / Skepchick / A+ makes these demands of the Pit (and anyone else they wish to dominate and dismiss), but refuses to follow their own demands, and then willy-nilly issue insult after insult; threat after threat, to anyone, anywhere, with whom they disagree. We at the Pit are just pointing out the glaring, blatant hypocrisy of such juvenile behaviour.
.
Hermit said:
.
“Do you really think the slymepit denizens who like to joke about “[vulgar term deleted]” aren’t aware of the sexually demeaning implications of that phrase?”
.
How totally disengenuous (and FfTB typical) of you to dig up a phrase, a specific and topical phrase, when the issue is about a word, not a specific and topical phrase, but a single word, which FfTB / Skepchick / A+ reminds us is intent- and context-free and always, always, always evil … except when they use it, of course. Cripes, Ophie posts the word cunt more than the entirety of the Pit.
.
Hermit said:
.
“This goes both ways, you know. You don’t like being criticized for using that kind of insult that’s just too bad. Nobody is forcing you to say it or to read the criticisms.”
.
It is not the criticism that we bridle against; it is the demands that we follow some arbitrary rule made by some hypocritical US-centric individuals on how we should speak at all times, not just on their home turf, but at all times, all places. And that’s just bullshit; nothing more than authoritarian, Orwellian bullshit.
.
Hermit said:
.
“You know it’s just a never ending source of amusement to see those BRAVE HEROES™ at the ‘pit getting all bent out of shape when other people exercise their right to speak and criticize.”
.
Again, and typically, you evade/avoid/deny the real issue (and add the ridiculous insult attempt, BRAVE HEROES™, which nobody other than Vacula uses anyway), which is the hypocrisy of the criticizers. It is not the criticism; it is the hypocrisy — the “Do as I say; not as I do” bullshit of it all. Like I said, have a gander at the page that link brings up, and tell me what you see.

87 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 1:22 am

A Hermit said:

The parts I’ve bolded describe your efforts perfectly…

That hardly qualifies as a cogent rebuttal of my lengthy argument – little more than, at best, the Courtier’s reply (1) with which you should be and apparently are quite familiar.

But I suppose the fact that you have even attempted to seriously address it much less been successful at actually rebutting it should be taken as final and conclusive evidence that you’re really only blowing smoke …. And that you really don’t have a leg to stand on.

—-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply”;

88 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 1:45 am

My previous: “… that you have even attempted to seriously address it…” should be:

“… that you have not even attempted to seriously address it …”

89 David Leech May 1, 2013 at 6:38 am

A Hermit.

Nobody started off calling anybody a cunt or a [vulgar term deleted]. You know this or if you don’t then feel free to back check the dialogue. (if it hasn’t been memory holed that is.) These insults come about through exasperation when facing such intractitude. There is no compromising, no inch given, it’s all us and them, my way or the highway. We’re right and you are wrong and until you apologise for being wrong then you are banned plus a misogynist/evil/MRA/PUA or just nuts. Did you or your fellow travellers really think this strategy would work in the atheist/skeptical community. Did you really think evidence free bullshit was gonna fly here. Either drop the dogma or learn to compromise or you will be marginalize and soon be a footnote in the atheist/skeptical community. Do you really think the feminists what anything to do with you and FTB after all half of you have penis’s so you wont be welcome. Get real or live in no mans land. Ho dear did I say no ‘mans’ land it must be the patriarchy speaking.

90 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 7:17 am

David Leech said:

Did you or your fellow travellers really think this strategy would work in the atheist/skeptical community. Did you really think evidence free bullshit was gonna fly here. Either drop the dogma or learn to compromise or you will be marginalized and soon be a footnote in the atheist/skeptical community.

Indeed. A whole bunch of largely evidence-free claims – and “hurt” feelings that anyone should call them on those claims.

However, the fly in the ointment is, I think, the fact that there are more than a few of those “misogynist/evil/MRA/PUA or just nuts” type individuals running about on “our” side which gives some credence to “their” side. Although I’m not particularly happy about that dichotomy – hopefully most of us are on the side of “truth”, “justice” and the like. The problem is that there are many different definitions, understandings, and implications of those concepts and objectives – “honest men (and women) may disagree”.

Some effort needs to be made to cultivate the saner individuals on each “side” – presumably those characterized by some willingness to actually engage in “respectful communications” rather than just giving lip service to the idea. Apropos of which you might be interested in this comic (1) which was posted not long ago on the Pit.

—-
1) “_http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2939”;

91 A Hermit May 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm

OK I’m done, I really don’t know why you guys choose the right to call women cunts as the hill on which to make your stand, but have fun with that…

And John Greg, I’ve seen how you behave in comment threads; people don’t call you those things just because you are “disagreeing…” If you’re honest enough to take a long hard look at your own behaviour would know that.

92 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

A Hermit said:

OK I’m done, I really don’t know why you guys choose the right to call women cunts as the hill on which to make your stand, but have fun with that…

To the very end you insist on misconstruing at least my argument as the question is, in my view, less one of that right than it is whether the claim that its use always constitutes sexism holds any water or not. Maybe you do so because you realize that you don’t have any evidence to support that claim – and one on which many of your other arguments seem to depend ….

93 A Hermit May 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm

To the very end you insist on misconstruing at least my argument as the question is, in my view, less one of that right than it is whether the claim that its use always constitutes sexism holds any water or not.

Except that I never made that claim. Did you really not notice all that talk about context? Before you accuse me of misconstruing things you might want to check you’re own work. All I’ve been saying is that in certain contexts, like a conversation about sexism with people from a culture where those words have a sexist connotation you might want to avoid using them if you sincerely want to have a dialogue.

It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, and it doesn’t require evidence; just a simple grasp of how to get along with others like that possessed by most Kindergarten graduates will do.

And now we really are done…I’m not interested in your obsession with scatological language.

94 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm

A Hermit said:

To the very end you insist on misconstruing at least my argument as the question is, in my view, less one of that right than it is whether the claim that its use always constitutes sexism holds any water or not. Maybe you do so because you realize that you don’t have any evidence to support that claim – and one on which many of your other arguments seem to depend ….

Except that I never made that claim. Did you really not notice all that talk about context? Before you accuse me of misconstruing things you might want to check you’re own work.

You said:

I’m sorry if you’re offended by people pointing out the juvenile, self serving, unproductive, sexist nature of that kind of deliberate insult … [#68]

And reducing someone to their genitals is inherently a sexist generalization, don’t you think? [#75]

… those words have a sexist connotation … [#94]

Apart from betraying the fact that you’re decidedly unclear on the meaning and implications of “sexist” and apparently have no desire to rectify that ignorance – which probably constitutes a major problem in itself that you seem remarkably reluctant to even consider, I would say the above is adequate evidence that you think that – depending on context – “those words” are sexist. And while I’ll concede that that isn’t quite the same as “their use always constitutes sexism”, the apparent fact that you won’t concede that some uses of them as insults do not qualify as sexist seems tantamount to that claim. So, do you or do you not now agree that not all uses of gendered epithets – “prick”, “dick”, “cunt”, and “twat”, etc. – qualify as sexist? [You may wish to check the dictionary on that word before answering.]

All I’ve been saying is that in certain contexts, like a conversation about sexism with people from a culture where those words have a sexist connotation you might want to avoid using them if you sincerely want to have a dialogue.

Where do you get the idea that I actually use them, particularly in that situation? “Sincerely wanting to have a dialog” has to prevail on both sides if the desire is to come to fruition. And considering that Zvan herself first opened hostilities with her “asshole” insult of me, I would say that most people are likely to conclude that there wasn’t much evidence of that precursor on her side of the fence – in which case there wasn’t much incentive on my part to “avoid using” such epithets myself.

And now we really are done…I’m not interested in your obsession with scatological language.

Considering that “scatological” means primarily “an obsession with excrement or excretory functions”, I wonder how you reach that conclusion about me. Seems to me that, considering Zvan’s use of “asshole”, along with the very frequent use of that epithet by the tastefully inclined commentariat of Skepchick (1) and Pharyngula (2), you would have a better case against them for that obsession than against me. I look forward to you taking them all to task for that character flaw ….


1) “_http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2”;

95 Steersman May 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm

A Hermit said:

[Sorry; HTML fail; repost]

To the very end you insist on misconstruing at least my argument as the question is, in my view, less one of that right than it is whether the claim that its use always constitutes sexism holds any water or not. Maybe you do so because you realize that you don’t have any evidence to support that claim – and one on which many of your other arguments seem to depend ….

Except that I never made that claim. Did you really not notice all that talk about context? Before you accuse me of misconstruing things you might want to check you’re own work.

You said:

I’m sorry if you’re offended by people pointing out the juvenile, self serving, unproductive, sexist nature of that kind of deliberate insult … [#68]

And reducing someone to their genitals is inherently a sexist generalization, don’t you think? [#75]

… those words have a sexist connotation … [#94]

Apart from betraying the fact that you’re decidedly unclear on the meaning and implications of “sexist” and apparently have no desire to rectify that ignorance – which probably constitutes a major problem in itself that you seem remarkably reluctant to even consider, I would say the above is adequate evidence that you think that – depending on context – “those words” are sexist. And while I’ll concede that that isn’t quite the same as “their use always constitutes sexism”, the apparent fact that you won’t concede that some uses of them as insults do not qualify as sexist seems tantamount to that claim. So, do you or do you not now agree that not all uses of gendered epithets – “prick”, “dick”, “cunt”, and “twat”, etc. – qualify as sexist? [You may wish to check the dictionary on that word before answering.]

All I’ve been saying is that in certain contexts, like a conversation about sexism with people from a culture where those words have a sexist connotation you might want to avoid using them if you sincerely want to have a dialogue.

Where do you get the idea that I actually use them, particularly in that situation? “Sincerely wanting to have a dialog” has to prevail on both sides if the desire is to come to fruition. And considering that Zvan herself first opened hostilities with her “asshole” insult of me, I would say that most people are likely to conclude that there wasn’t much evidence of that precursor on her side of the fence – in which case there wasn’t much incentive on my part to “avoid using” such epithets myself.

And now we really are done…I’m not interested in your obsession with scatological language.

Considering that “scatological” means primarily “an obsession with excrement or excretory functions”, I wonder how you reach that conclusion about me. Seems to me that, considering Zvan’s use of “asshole”, along with the very frequent use of that epithet by the tastefully inclined commentariat of Skepchick (1) and Pharyngula (2), you would have a better case against them for that obsession than against me. I look forward to you taking them all to task for that character flaw ….


1) “_http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2”;

96 smhll May 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

What you, and almost the entirety of FfTB, Skepchick.org, and the A+ fiasco, fail and refuse to acknowledge is that almost 100% of the hostile commentary directed from the Pit to the FfTB, Skepchick.org, and the A+ communities is reaction; reaction against the initial lies, slanders, name calling, threats, and other intellectual acts of what that nutbar Ophie Benson (or was it that other nutbar, Greta the pronographer kinker?) calls “stochastic terrorism” (except when her crew do it) that issue from those portals of, as PeeZus calls it, reasoned and rational dialogue.

After reading these dialogs for a long time, I’d say the grossly inaccurate paraphrasing is a major contributing factor to the occasional dialog going straight into the ditch.

97 Steersman May 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

smhll said (#97):

After reading these dialogs for a long time, I’d say the grossly inaccurate paraphrasing is a major contributing factor to the occasional dialog going straight into the ditch.

Yes, I quite agree with you. Although I think that it is part of a larger problem of misinterpreting – by intent or by carelessness or for self-aggrandizement, conscious or otherwise – the statements and actions of our interlocutors. And something that happens on both sides of the question, and which virtually everyone – except me and thee, of course – is guilty of to some degree. Reminds me of a quote from Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain:

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

98 smhll May 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm

“So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event.”

Yes. It would be interesting to design an experiment to compare summaries of the same news article by people with very differing points of view, since people find different meanings in words, and also exert themselves to sort and stretch them to fit a pre-existing narrative. It’s clear to me that I do it, even if I am exerting myself to be broad-minded. (Which is not something I put effort into when I am pissed off.)

99 David Leech May 4, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Steersman May 1, 2013 at 7:17 am

I will never judge any movement by its lowest common denominator, that is why I’m against censorship and very pro free speech. How would anybody know they are right if they are not prepared to challenge their preconceptions,

100 David Leech May 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

Ho dear It seems A Hermit is gone, mores the pity as I wanted to ask him how we are suppose to challenge the fundamental Christians and Islamists? You know the people with the guns and bombs and power and such. The only weapon we have is words. If we are going to handicap ourselves be limiting the use of words because of hurt feelings then we might as well go home because we have nothing else in our locker. Science, reason and logic are of no use unless you can express them using words. I’m beginning to think that the religious charge (against atheists) are true in some cases, aka you are an atheist because you hate god. As I see no reason or critical thinking going on by the other side. How quickly they adopted fallacies for their own use and embraced censorship is/was very disturbing.

101 Steersman May 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

David Leech said (#100):

I will never judge any movement by its lowest common denominator, that is why I’m against censorship and very pro free speech.

Indeed. A relevant quote of John Stuart Mill in Ibn Warraq’s Why I Am Not a Muslim (1) (highly recommended, portion of which is available on-line at the link):

But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error … We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.

Not sure that it is an absolute, of course, but I think one needs very good reasons to circumscribe it.

(#101): Ho dear It seems A Hermit is gone, mores the pity as I wanted to ask him how we are suppose to challenge the fundamental Christians and Islamists?

Yes, ‘tis a pity as I think he made a few good points – the Pit is not without a wart or two as is the case with the MRA/anti-feminist brigade. But he also faded in the stretch in being, apparently, remarkably unwilling to actually discuss anything that posed any serious challenge to the various dogmas implicitly or explicitly advanced by the FTB/Skepchick/AtheismPlus camp.

And a case in point of that is, I think, afforded by this “contretemps” (2) with Ophelia Benson and others about a year ago on the question of identity. While I tend to agree with her that “beliefs aren’t actually a matter of identity and shouldn’t be treated as if they were”, I think she and others in that camp seem to be rather reluctant, if not hypocritically so, to allow their beliefs to be subjected to skeptical and critical inquiry. And cases in point of that being, I think, the efforts by Benson and Zvan, among others, to get Michael to shut-down these discussions and dialogs here, in part because their “feelings” were supposedly being hurt.

All of which is likely to have some relevance to the second item on Michael’s agenda – “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” – at least if there’s any interest or willingness in taking the dialog to that next step.

—-
1) “_http://www.scribd.com/doc/62513165/2/The-Rushdie-Affair”;
2) “_http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2012/01/09/belief-is-part-of-identity/”;

102 SallyStrange May 13, 2013 at 7:12 pm

These insults come about through exasperation when facing such intractitude.

No matter how exasperated I get, I don’t call people [vulgar term deleted]. Because I’m not a misogynist. Likewise, no matter how exasperated I get, I don’t call people niggers, spics, chinks, faggots, or what-have-you. Exasperation at intractitude may be one ingredient, but without that essential element of contempt for women, there’s no reason to use “cunt” and other similar gendered slurs to express your exasperation.

103 A Hermit May 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm

David Leech May 5, 2013 at 12:20 am

Ho dear It seems A Hermit is gone, mores the pity as I wanted to ask him how we are suppose to challenge the fundamental Christians and Islamists?

I can think of lots of ways to do that. Calling the women in those movements “cunts” isn’t one of them…

104 Steersman May 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Sally Strange said (#103):

No matter how exasperated I get, I don’t call people [vulgar term deleted].

So? Big fucking deal. You and the rest of the horde and their fellow travellers make free with “asshole” and other insults, the former with rather monotonous regularity. For instance, these threads (1, 2) on Pharyngula and Skepchick where the former was used over 100 times in each case.

And some spurious and specious argument that “asshole” isn’t demeaning all humans the way “cunt” and “dick” are is only so much self-serving, special-pleading, hypocritical bafflegab – unmitigated horseshit. You want to be able to express your displeasure and opprobrium with various profanities then you have fuck-all in the way of a leg to stand on when it comes back at you in spades.


1) “_http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2”;

105 camsex May 18, 2013 at 4:31 am

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106 John Morales May 19, 2013 at 6:36 am

Steersman:

And some spurious and specious argument that “asshole” isn’t demeaning all humans the way “cunt” and “dick” are is only so much self-serving, special-pleading, hypocritical bafflegab – unmitigated horseshit.

That supposedly spurious and specious argument is based on the fact that everyone has an “asshole”, unlike having a “cunt” and “dick”.

(Your assertion is as baseless as your insinuation is futile)

107 Patrick May 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Is the dialogue dead? The last update I see is over a month ago.

108 Michael Nugent May 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Patrick,

The dialogue is on pause because of other time commitments, but will be resuming shortly.

109 Steersman May 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm

John Morales said (#106):

That supposedly spurious and specious argument is based on the fact that everyone has an “asshole”, unlike having a “cunt” and “dick”.

(Your assertion is as baseless as your insinuation is futile)

Ipse dixit. In your opinion. And the opinions of a great many others – apparently including that of Ally Fogg, the recently added blogger to the FTB network – are that none of those words, directed as an insult to single individuals, are necessarily insults of the entire classes distinguished by the possession of the denoted physiological features.

So why the fuck should you think that your opinion, and that of many other similarly deluded members of the FfTB/Skepchick/Atheism+ commentariat, should carry the day? Pigheaded arrogance? Stupidity? Special pleading?

As I’ve said several times before, I don’t think that insults move the conversational ball very far downfield. But if people insist on using some of them – as Ophelia Benson did recently (1) with “asshole” – then I figure they don’t have much of a leg to stand on when some of the others come back at them. And attempting to argue those insults are different kettles of fish, particularly in the absence of credible justification, only provides prima facie evidence for the charge of hypocrisy.

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stop-pretending-there-are-no-assholes/”

110 John Morales May 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Steersman:

Ipse dixit. In your opinion.

No, it’s a fact that that is the basis for that supposedly spurious and specious argument.

So why the fuck should you think that your opinion, and that of many other similarly deluded members of the FfTB/Skepchick/Atheism+ commentariat, should carry the day? Pigheaded arrogance? Stupidity? Special pleading?

It is not I who makes that argument, I but point out what it is to which you allude and which you attempt to hand-wave away — you made a claim, it’s up to you to sustain it by making a case of how it’s spurious and specious.

(Alliterative polyptoton is rhetorical yet vacuous)

As I’ve said several times before, I don’t think that insults move the conversational ball very far downfield. But if people insist on using some of them – as Ophelia Benson did recently (1) with “asshole” – then I figure they don’t have much of a leg to stand on when some of the others come back at them. And attempting to argue those insults are different kettles of fish, particularly in the absence of credible justification, only provides prima facie evidence for the charge of hypocrisy.

Your essay of the tu quoque fallacy is futile no less than insults are irrelevant to arguments, but the point is that those insults are different kettles of fish.

(Some fish are poisonous, some ain’t)

Such is our dialogue.

111 Steersman May 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm

John Morales said (#110):

It is not I who makes that argument, I but point out what it is to which you allude and which you attempt to hand-wave away — you made a claim ….

It is you and a significant portion of the Pharyngula commentariat who made the prior claim – with dickall in the way of evidence – that those two types of insults are sufficiently different to justify the argument that one, ipso facto, insults the entire class possessing the physiological attribute while the other doesn’t. Which looks like special pleading, pure and simple. Which makes it spurious and specious.

Your essay of the tu quoque fallacy is futile no less than insults are irrelevant to arguments, but the point is that those insults are different kettles of fish.

Maybe some differences that might justify the argument that they are different kettles of fish. However, the more important point is that both work or “move” by the same mechanisms – they are not, in fact, different phyla or domains. And that some might consider some more “poisonous” than others is countered by noting that what is so to one individual is not necessarily so to others. Which then raises the question as to why one individual or group should be entitled – talk about claiming the rights of “privilege” – to curtail the use of some insults while using others with gay abandon.

P.S. You might want to use the Preview function of FfTB pages prior to posting here ….

112 John Morales May 25, 2013 at 12:28 am

Steersman, again: such is our dialogue.

(“As above, so below”)

P.S. You might want to use the Preview function of FfTB pages prior to posting here ….

It’s FTB and that’s not this place, but I guess I could copy-paste my comment to preview it somewhere which does have a preview feature.

113 Michael Nugent May 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I have removed a comment, having received a complaint that it included defamatory allegations about a named person. I have also removed other comments discussing that comment, and a trackback to a republication of the comment.

If you are already aware of what the comment was about, please do not continue to discuss that issue here.

Also, while I am happy to have people commenting here pseudonymously, please keep to the same pseudonym, please do not create once-off pseudonyms for single comments, and please do not include a fake email address when commenting.

114 Pitchguest May 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Defamatory, you say?

Here Katie Graham asks for Ophelia to remove private tweets she’s made public on her blog:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/more-documenting-the-harassment/#comment-552739

Subsequent posts by Ophelia in that same thread follows her refusing to remove said private tweets, and she effectively held Katie hostage until Ophelia felt pleased enough to remove them.

Here Ophelia is making the libellous claim that Justin Vacula is stalking her, without proof:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/

She even chastises the leadership in Dublin, implying that they (you) think harassing and stalking people at the conference is acceptable. She and her commentariat also make several allegations regarding Justin Vacula as well, repeating the claim that Justin is a stalker throughout the thread and many times asserting he’s a misogynist, a sexist, and akin to a member of the WBC (creationists) or Stormfront (white supremacists).

How’s that for defamatory?

Ophelia claiming Dublin leadership don’t care about harassment or claims of stalking:

The leadership of the Dublin conference think it’s a case of “both sides” – in fact some of them think our harassers are more right than we are.

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554187

Here’s “Skep tickle” responding to Ophelia’s opening remarks that Justin Vacula is stalking her:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554381

and here’s the reply from Ophelia:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554398

Note carefully the question to Ophelia asking her how she knows Justin Vacula attends the conference only to “follow her around”, to which she replies, “I don’t.”

Yet here she is making the same claim again, on Twitter:

_https://twitter.com/OpheliaBenson/status/339172230942568450

And here she says it again:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554577

Nevermind that the same thing surely should apply to Ophelia too, and that she too should leave Justin alone. The irony is staggering.

Let’s quote what she said on FtB, on her claim of stalking:

1. I don’t. Yes, I put it that way in the post, but no, I did not literally mean that’s the only reason he’s doing this. It certainly is part of the reason though. And don’t patronize me. You’re not getting this kind of shit, and if you were it wouldn’t be aimed at your real public person under your real name. I don’t need advice from you.

She’s doubles down on her claim of stalking, but all the same says “it’s part of the reason though.” With no evidence to back it up. With no evidence to support her claims, she’s making a defamatory — and even libellous — claim. Stalking is a serious matter.

However, her allegations of stalking comes second to her doc-dropping, which she recently took part in and I have evidence to support that as well.

A user I mentioned earlier, “Skep tickle” made some posts addressed to Ophelia to dispute her claims of Justin Vacula stalking her. Ophelia began questioning her on her anonymity, to which she answered that she chooses to remain anonymous because of her profession. This apparently angered Ophelia to such an extent that she looked around for her real name and address, and promptly told “Skep tickle” this on her blog.

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554398

Next we see Ophelia Benson sending an email to user “Skep tickle”‘s personal email address, addressing “Skep tickle” by her last name, redacted by “Skep tickle” in these posts:

_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=93628#p93628
_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=93647#p93647

Next a BLOG POST dedicated to user “Skep tickle”, where Ophelia accuses “Skep tickle” of “hiding” behind a nym so she can engage in bullying and harassment, also without proof, and also with accusations that are defamatory.

Rather than respect the wishes of someone who wishes to remain anononymous, Ophelia would rather namedrop this person (which she subsequently did in the “Stalking” thread [since the cat is now out of the bag]) and is now at the mercy of Ophelia should she choose to make it come full circle.

And, of course, we have this utterance:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/stalking/#comment-554567

Which was simply given a slap on the wrist, then handwaved away with the excuse it’s “[stooping] to their level.” “Their level” meaning denizens of the Slymepit or any detractors of Ophelia.

This is someone you have invited as a speaker. Will you condone these actions, Michael? Will you do nothing?

115 Aratina Cage May 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm

@Phil_Giordana_FCD #66

When people start going out of their way to fight “bad werdz” on other people’s blogs/sites, like they are the keepers of all authority on the matter, I’d say yes, it’s just someone trying to control a conversation they have absolutely no right to try and control (see Aratina cage’s objection to my use of “twat” on a previsou Michael thread and his demand that Michael deletes/edits my post). This, to me, is bullshit.

Well, Michael Nugent wanted to make this a neutral ground, I thought. If it is to be neutral, then you cannot go on calling people who are regulars at Pharyngula whatever slur you want to use today. And your use of that particular slur, which you claim to be friendly, ended up encouraging another person to use it in a definitely unfriendly way. You were opening the door to slurs here. I wanted to know where Michael Nugent stood on that, since this is his blog. If he would have given it his blessing, then the floodgates would have opened for calling people slurs on this blog, and that would have been the end of it for me.

You say I don’t have a right to control your use of slurs. I agree and I never thought otherwise. But I do have the right to leave whenever I want, and I wanted to know if this is a place where calling people slurs is tolerated or even encouraged so I could decide for myself if I wanted to stay. I ended up staying until the formal dialogue started, and for a while things started to look up. But not so much anymore.

But on that matter, there is also something you have elided. You yourself do not have the right to force other people to tolerate or welcome your use of slurs. This is the primary reason many of you were banned from commenting at some blogs in the first place, because you (and others) asserted a fictive right to mouth slurs off on those blogs (or elsewhere about people on those blogs) whenever you like. That right does not exist. You comment at the pleasure of the blog owner or moderators, not because of some irrevocable or constitutional right.

@David Leech #22

Why is Stephanie Zvan the lone moderator on the other side? I know that P Z Myers and Rebecca Watson are too intrenched in their ideology and like the cowards they are they know they will get torn a new one outside their little bubble. Though A Hermit is here and sometimes oolon and aratina cage turns up. What ever I think of their comments at least they are prepared to argue them on neutral ground. So why aren’t they helping Stephanie as it seems a little unfair that she has to carry the burden for her own group.

I can’t stand the formality of the dialogue. Sorry, it just isn’t for me. I also was not happy that the slimepit side was represented by “Jack Smith” who I have never heard of before. At least I’ve known of Gurdur all this time. Also, I looked at the first round of submissions and saw that not only were they heavily moderated, which I cannot stand, but they were also saying nothing. Who doesn’t agree with such bland arguments? So, again, I’m sorry, but I could not muster up the motivation to join in what seemed to be a pointless, dreary, and dull exercise. I had a better time making inroads on Twitter after commenting here, though that soured eventually.

116 Betty Jo Bielowski May 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Why no one-off pseudonyms or email addresses? It certainly makes people harder to dox, doesn’t it? But self-preservation is now a bad thing, apparently.

How interesting that the behavior of those most threatening to atheist women and members of marginalized groups must be hidden and not spoken of if it names the names of the perpetrators. This way, unsuspecting atheists – especially brand new atheists – will continue to find themselves exposed to their real life friends, relatives, employers, for asking basic skeptical questions like “Do you have any evidence to support your claim?” Which is especially likely since so many come to atheism via skepticism and might not know that skepticism is as unwelcome in the so-called ‘atheist movement’ as it was in the religion they left behind, and that the consequences of applying skeptical thinking can be disastrous and – as we’ve seen – potentially life-threatening.

And this must not be spoken of. Keep it a secret! This is the so-called ‘atheist movement’s’ skeleton in the closet. Every religion has one!

You can silence anything you want in your own blog. You can continue to harvest email and IP addresses for the doxxers. It’s not going to work in the long run. Too many people are learning what’s happening.

117 rorschach May 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

Why is Stephanie Zvan the lone moderator on the other side?

The awkward format of this proposed dialogue was mentioned. Also, for me personally, there are no two equally valid sides or positions here. And just like there are no equally valid arguments amenable to dialogue and negotiation when dealing with creationists , there can’t be middle ground between normal people and the regressives and harassers.
I could have seen some merit and potential in addressing people like Blackford or Paula Kirby, and seeing if there can be dialogue and at least goal-oriented team work in the future with the likes of them, at least they have a track record of adding something useful to our movements. But not with the brave heroes and twitter bullies. Kudos to Stephanie for trying, though.

118 A Hermit May 31, 2013 at 3:20 am

Betty Jo Bielowski?

You haven’t lost your delicate sense of humor, have you, Nancy? -.o

119 David Leech June 3, 2013 at 3:13 am

What’s this I am hearing about Ophelia Benson doxxing Skep Tickle, isn’t she (Ophelia) one of the people coming to your event? Stephanie Zvan doesn’t seem to have a problem with it even. I’m from the UK and us atheist are common as muck so I have no problem using my real name. Though in the USA and even in Ireland being an atheist still has a stigma attached to it. When was it decided that it was OK to out fellow atheist? Especially in the USA where people might suffer consequences because of family, friends and their very livelihood. Whatever or different opinions online, none of this should be taken to real life as atheist in a lot of countries face discrimination. I think Ophelia Benson’s action should mean her invitation to the current event in Ireland should be cancelled, also Stephanie Zvan and P Z Myers should also be ask to clarify their position on doxxing their fellow atheists. Otherwise Michael you are condoning their behaviour.

120 A Hermit June 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

What’s this I am hearing about Ophelia Benson doxxing Skep Tickle

First rule of skepticism…Don’t believe everything you hear…

121 Arha June 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Benson claims she didn’t dox Skep tickle since the information was already on the net and all she did was find it. Benson et al also claim Vacula doxxed Surly Amy by finding information Amy put on the net herself.

What is doxxing then? Does the definition change depending on who’s doing it?

122 A Hermit June 5, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Benson claims she didn’t dox Skep tickle since the information was already on the net and all she did was find it. Benson et al also claim Vacula doxxed Surly Amy by finding information Amy put on the net herself.

Benson addressed Skep Tickle using a name she had used herself in previous comments on Bensons blog.

Vacula posted Amy’s home address in a forum which was actively hostile to Amy and in which she was not participating.

So…not quite the same thing at all.

123 Arha June 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

Benson shared information provided by the subject on a site hostile to the subject.
Vacula shared information provided by the subject on a site hostile to the subject.

Nope, sorry, not seeing the difference. Did they both dox or did neither of them?

124 A Hermit June 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Really Arha? You don’t see a difference between:

Addressing someone you are having a conversation with by a generic first name already posted by the person in question on that site
vs
Doing a web search to find a a specific address so you can post it in a place that person doesn’t visit but which is frequented by people who despise her…

And since elephants and mice both have four legs I guess there’s no difference between them either…

The term “willful blindness” springs to mind…

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