A response to recent online open letters and emails

by Michael Nugent on June 7, 2013

Thank you for the various open letters and emails regarding the ongoing conflicts between some atheists and skeptics on an interacting range of issues including sexism and harassment, feminism and free speech, personal abuse and bullying, and the impact of these issues on the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference in Dublin on June 29 and 30. I will respond separately from a personal perspective, and as chairperson of Atheist Ireland.

Personal perspective

Firstly, from a personal perspective, I know from experience of much more vicious conflicts than these that it is likely that there are good people on all perceived ‘sides’ who are unfairly hurting other people because they or people close to them have themselves been unfairly hurt, and who are unfairly attributing malign motivations to other good people who in turn are unfairly attributing malign motivations to them.

Since I started facilitating the paused online dialogue on these issues, I have been listening to and considering what people on all perceived ‘sides’ have to say. I have had the pleasure of working with moderators and participants in the online dialogue who have been acting with integrity and reason despite unfair criticism of them from people opposed to dialogue.

I have read a great deal of the online material that shows how various issues have both escalated and became entangled with each other in recent years. And I want to add to my understanding by talking to some of the people involved when they come to Dublin, because I think that face to face discussion can be more useful than online discussion.

Whenever I think I understand enough about the issues to be able to make a useful contribution to the substantive discussions, I will do so. In the meantime, I have chosen to mostly listen and not to publicly respond to speculation about my motives or opinions. That does not mean that I am approaching the issues in an ethical vacuum. I have written elsewhere about the values that I am bringing to these issues:

Atheist Ireland perspective

Secondly, as chairperson of Atheist Ireland, I want to make clear that the Empowering Women Through Secularism Conference is not ‘my’ conference. It is an Atheist Ireland conference, and it is disrespectful to the committee members of Atheist Ireland, and particularly to the conference chairperson Jane Donnelly, to frame it as something which I control personally.

The conference has a structured agenda covering reproductive rights and Irish abortion law, promoting secular values in society, promoting separation of church and state, protecting and promoting human rights, and involvement in politics and the media. Each session will feed into a declaration on empowering women through secularism, which will be adopted on the Sunday.

We invited speakers to contribute to this important agenda, and not on the basis of their involvement in the ongoing conflicts. We won’t be uninviting any speakers, and we won’t allow our ongoing work as an advocacy group to be used as a vehicle for adding to the escalation of the conflicts by unfairly maligning any speakers or any other person who is attending the conference.

We considered having a session during the conference to discuss the ongoing conflicts, and we decided against doing this. The background would require too much explaining for conference attenders, many of whom function mostly in real life and are blissfully unaware that these conflicts even exist. Also, we do not want it to unduly dominate the focus of the conference.

We are asking speakers and participants to focus on the agenda for the conference, and to leave discussion of the conflicts for the many opportunities that exist to discuss them elsewhere. Please be respectful to all of the speakers and to all of the other participants. Please do not attribute malign motivations to any person who is attending the conference.

Ultimately we need to resolve the ongoing conflict issues in some manner, and I have been actively trying to work towards this by facilitating dialogue. But please let’s try to make this particular conference a reminder of how we can work together effectively on important issues despite having differences of opinion on other important issues.

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{ 454 comments… read them below or add one }

251 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Look, Dave & Thaumas, we could drift into a distracting side show. Lets all get back on topic, agreed? Personally I am no going to be inclided to respond to personal critisizm or advice” either way. So if I don’t respond, don’t take offence.

252 MosesZD June 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm

This link: http://tinyurl.com/qfnohg7 was to a friends of the FFRF group – a FB page for friends of the group but is not officially representative of them.

It was shut down by A+. Maiforpeace, The Lousy Cannuk and others who waged a false-flagging campaign.

Now do you see what we’re up against? Now do you see the problem? Or is it going to be more of the golden mean fallacy as A+ strives to destroy skepticism and atheism with their intolerance of others and desire to inflict their ideas of ideological purity on others.

253 Dave Allen June 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm

“Look, Dave & Thaumas, we could drift into a distracting side show.”

Why drift when you could zoom?

254 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I tried to work with Metalogic42 to log instances of harassment, but we had differences about how monitoring should be acheived.

The train-wreck is available at my blog.

255 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Thaumas Themelios, you said I had harassed you in this thread, and insisted that I stop posting here.

Can you explain why you said this? I have not knowingly said anything to upset you, if I have done so I will apologise.

256 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Pogsurf: I would venture a guess that it was humour/sarcasm on Thaumas’ part.

257 Metalogic42 June 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Pogsurf, you completely misunderstood my initial post on the matter. That’s on you.

258 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm

That’s certainly what I felt at the time, which is why I was quite short with him. On reflection, I thought I should at least try to be sympathetic.

We are talking about dealing with harassment here. I’d rather be found to be a bit of a berk for having my leg pulled, than to have squashed someone by saying something unintentionally offensive.

259 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

No Metalogic42, you completely misunderstood my earlier comment about trying to walk in someone elses shoes. I was suggesting empathy, not throwing brickbats to ‘prove’ the strength of any particular harassment claim. You can never fully know how it feels to be someone else, so all attempts to disprove their feelings are futile.

260 dresq June 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

@M. Nugent #242

“It’s not enough, but it is a central element of it. In law, an assault is typically an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.”

Your definition of assault is correct but incomplete. To be an assault, the act must create a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful contact. Carrying the analogy through, I think there’s a lot of disagreement over whether the “apprehension” complained of by certain persons in reasonable.

261 Metalogic42 June 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm

@Pogsurf #256: “You can never fully know how it feels to be someone else, so all attempts to disprove their feelings are futile.”

Sometimes feelings don’t matter. There are many people who would feel quite upset if I told them I was an atheist. I really don’t care. If it upsets them, that’s their problem. Same goes for jokes on the internet.

We could be discussing this on Twitter, but oh wait, you blocked me. Was the little social experiment I proposed really that bad?

262 dresq June 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I realize that wikipedia and other primary sources don’t treat the reasonableness requirement, but it is an element of the tort. But don’t take my word for it:

“Assault: The threat or use of force on another that causes that person to have a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact; the act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery by means of an act amounting to an attempt or threat to commit a battery.”

ASSAULT, Black’s Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), assault

263 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

You told me I was harassing you Metalogic42. I blocked you so that I couldn’t be accused of seeking to harass you further.

Are you upset because I labelled you “clinically insane” on my blog? Asking me to re-jig abusive messages and then to send them to you to see how hurt you felt is quite mad you know.

264 Metalogic42 June 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm

If you mean this: “How dare you retweet me! HARASSMENT!!!!!” That’s obviously sarcasm.

But no, I’m not upset, I’m aware that I’m quite insane. For the lulz! And on the chance that you’re playing the long game, still not enough. Ramp it up a bit.

265 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm

That’s quite a self-doxxing Metalogic42, well done.

266 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 4:58 pm

MosesZD, well said re A+ destroying atheist and secular movement. They seem to be people who main interest or agenda is not a secular world, all there secondary interests, censorship, men having to watch what they say, intolerance to dissent etc. These are what define the A+ and the secular feminist agenda. They are feminists 1st and secularists incidentally.

They want to hijack a pure ideology, or in the case of atheism, no real ideology, and polute it/them with their own shallow blind concerns. these people still feel the need to say “women’s right’s are human rights” as if we think women are not human. Their heads are back in the day of the brave suffragettes… but those days are gone, thanks largely to the true feminists, male and female, who could not stand for this. They apply the same attitude to society as if it hasn’t changed.

In the end, of course anyone can be an atheist or believe in a secular society, and should be welcomed. A formal, or public, joining of an atheist movement and a feminist one makes no sense. Not for atheists anyway, there is no connection between atheist or secularism and this sort of equality for women, secularism is about equality for all from what I have seen, once you go beyond the main separation of church and state.

This should not be inflicted on members of these groups who do not support this militant feminism. It is nasty, irrational, bullying, ill informed, extremely defensive and aggressively intolerant to any other views, particularly from me. No gender should be given special status, but that is what these feminists want. Equality for all, not just special and overly vocal interest groups.

As for assault etc. I heard that one male made a very inappropriate comment regarding rape, and this is where adding “no one shall threaten rape” as a condition of attending the group or conference. It is ridiculous but shows these people for what they are. THey want to have things to complain about. That is why they now grasp at anything and milk it. Anyone taken in by this has unfortunately fallen for it already and may not come back to reason.

267 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

You don’t even have to listen to thundefoot, just listen to this spin doctor saying how censorship is freedom of speech??!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApozFPboUAQ

268 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Nonsense Daniel. I’m banned from dozens of blogs, but I’ve never once turned round and tried to say I have been silenced. If you’re not wanted someplace, go and find somewhere else where you are wanted, could be my motto.

Silencing is entirely different. This is when people who should be part of the debate are made to feel unwelcome. Atheist societys should be places which welcome diverse people and diverging viewpoints. They should be places where calm and rational debate can take place.

269 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm

You were silenced though, regardless of if you say it or not. Not permanently silenced, just from these places.

Apart from you words on silence v being banned from commenting, I agree. Making people feel unwelcome is not silencing, it is a effort to silencing, and if making people uncomfortable is silencing, why would banning not be?

The part I agree with is what thes e places should be regarding dissuasions. A+ and feminist atheism etc. do not provide this.

270 Stacy June 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm

This link: http://tinyurl.com/qfnohg7 was to a friends of the FFRF group – a FB page for friends of the group but is not officially representative of them.

It was shut down by A+. Maiforpeace, The Lousy Cannuk and others who waged a false-flagging campaign

–MosesZD #249

FFRF asked the group (or its admin) to shut it down and 1) transfer to the FFRF page and 2) start a new group called Friends of FFRF. The administration agreed. FFRF wants to be able to moderate comments made on a page bearing their name.

Quelle horreur.

Now do you see what we’re up against? Now do you see the problem? Or is it going to be more of the golden mean fallacy as A+ strives to destroy skepticism and atheism with their intolerance of others and desire to inflict their ideas of ideological purity on others.

This sort of hyperbolic nonsense should discredit the ‘pit. Yet you keep on going.

Golden Mean fallacy indeed. Got that much right.

271 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Even libertarians believe in private property Daniel.

272 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Thanks Pogsurf… I’ll remember that lol

273 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I didn’t say it as a joke. Do you really believe you have an absolute right to say anything you like wherever you are?

274 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I got that Pogs. I never said I “believe you have an absolute right to say anything you like wherever you are”…. so I’m not going to answer that. You’re making out I am presenting a view that I am not. You know why people do that don’t you?

275 Jason Thibeault June 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I did what to who now?

How do you “dialogue” with people who just make shit up from whole cloth?

276 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm

No. I try not to make presumptions about what other people know.

277 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Well Pogs, you haven’t just done that here, but you have referenced me as saying something I didn’t to serve the purpose of you comment. That is the height of something well beyond presumption.

I’m not going to get into a discussion with someone who makes stuff up that I apparently have said.

278 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm

“How do you “dialogue” with people who just make shit up from whole cloth?”

I listen to what people have to say, and I try to respond in a sensible fashion, without resorting to insults, or letting my own feelings display too much of my own prejudices. How do you do it?

279 Jason Thibeault June 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I don’t think I have to listen to and respect what people have to say about me doing things that I didn’t do and have no sweet clue about. What’s the middle ground between what I actually say and do in reality, and what people make up about me? Is reality somewhere in the middle, does my life history change every time someone invents something that I supposedly did? Does someone making something up about me from whole cloth merit being respectful and kind and dialoguing with?

280 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Nice point Jason. When people you are discussing something with, make stuff up and put it to you as a reply, that sort of discussion is pointless.

281 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Jason and Daniel you both seem to have some kind of beef. It would be helpful if you could make whatever it is you want to say explicit. Other people follow these threads and may not know what the background story is.

282 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Pogsurf, as you have taken exception to my beef, surely you know what it is? In fact, you explain my beef and why you have an issue with it.

I’m glas some people follow the posts, I was beginning to think people were just copying and pasting from a generic argument against an imaginary person.

283 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Daniel, I think you are saying I have put words into your mouth, but I haven’t done that. Asking a question is not the same as quoting someone. If my question was near the knuckle, you have to look to yourself, to see why you have difficulty answering. No one else can do this for you.

284 Pitchguest June 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Pogsurf:

He’s trying to say it’s not harassment, but ribbing. Besides, unless you’re consistently poking at them you can’t really call it harassment. That some FtB regulars are keen to call it that is another matter, that’s just their way of dealing with criticism. For instance, in your blog post where you attempt to document “harassment by Slymers”, that wasn’t harassment – that was ridicule. The only way that would be “harassment” were if it was posted directly on their blog. In fact, PZ Myers said the same thing just recently and he basically just said that he would be harassed only if it happened on his own blog. The rest didn’t interest him. (Though if you quote him on that, you’re apparently “twisting [his] words.” Yeah.)

285 oolon June 9, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Michael – can you consider removing MozesZDs comment above? As per Ophelias post -> http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/to-destroy-skepticism-and-atheism
That allegation is seemingly completely made up (Unless Moses has proof) and while Jason Thibeault is used to the hate these sort of lies generate maiforpeace is probably less used to the attention. I guess Moses has not signed up to Gurdurs “civility/non-defamation” pledge yet. You can remove my comment as well…

286 Pitchguest June 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Jason Thibbledeedoo:

Jason. Booby. We don’t need to make up things about you, mate. We can just what you say and that would be enough. It would be like quoting the Bible. Wink.

287 Pitchguest June 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm

*quote what you say

288 Pitchguest June 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm

That was a joke, by the way.

289 Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Pitchguest I believe you are right up to a point.

If I produced an image and put it on my blog, I don’t think that constitutes harassment, except if the image is so disgusting that it causes hate.

However if I sent my seemingly innocent image to the person concerned, after they had made it clear to me to leave them alone, I am harassing them.

Incidentally, using PZ Myers’ name as you did is an argument from authority, which is a well known logical fallacy. In any case, it is no secret that I have my own reasons for not regarding PZ Myers as an authority figure, as well as the fact that he is well known for using shunning and taint as tactics when he is losing an argument. Neither shunning nor taint are rational arguments and so should not form part of any serious thinker’s armoury.

290 Daniel June 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Pogsurf, you said “Do you really believe you have an absolute right to say anything you like wherever you are?”… this states that you think I do have this right, that it is something I have said I believe. That is putting words in someone’s mouth.

Look, I’m not going down a long road of you flayling around, twisting reason to make out this isn’t putting words in my mouth. Because, it obviously is and if you can’t see that, you won’t see it.. is my fear and I am not going to waste my time if you are going to deny doing or saying something you did say or do… or boldly put forward as something I said, one way or another, was my belief, when I said nothing of the sort. Now you can’t back it up and are trying to get of with saying a question cannot put words in someones mouth. It can when the question makes an assertion about the other persons view and that they express this view.

Goodbye

291 A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 7:51 am

I have a suggestion to help keep our word meanings straight.

When we are talking about the criminal activity, which includes (depending on one’s region): causing another person to reasonably fear for their safety by, following them, repeatedly contacting them, watching outside their house or workplace, engaging in threatening conduct toward them; then we shall call this ‘harassment’.

When we are talking about the feeling that someone can have that does *not include* the other person engaging in criminal harassment; then we shall call this ‘being bothered’.

I have a better idea Thaumas; instead of demanding that everyone else conform to your self serving definitions (which look to me more like an attempt to minimize and ignore the problem than to clarify) why don;t we all use the definition which most people seem to be using; you know, the one in the dictionary…

Definition of HARASS
1
a : exhaust, fatigue
b (1) : to annoy persistently (2) : to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct

What you’re describing in your first paragraph is criminal stalking; There’s nothing about criminality in the definition of harassment or in the common usage of the word.

This idea that the problem has to rise to the level of criminal behavior before we consider it a problem is just a way of avoiding the issue.

292 Steersman June 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Stacy said (#266):

This sort of hyperbolic nonsense should discredit the ‘pit. Yet you keep on going.

Pray tell, why should that “discredit the Pit”? You have evidence that “MosesZD” even posts on the Pit, much less that a majority of the Pit subscribe to that position? In any case, I just checked and I see no evidence of that user name in the Pit list of members, but maybe you have access to some sooper-skrt back-channel? Or maybe you just pulled that out of your arse?

Personally, if I were you I would be a lot more concerned about what such egregious stereotyping – being charitable – does to my own credibility. But you might also be concerned about what might be – charitably – called the many “errors of fact” peddled by Ophelia Benson (1) and Oolon (2), and what that says about FfTB, those who post there, and those who maintain and moderate the individual blogs.

—–
1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/06/07/a-response-to-recent-online-open-letters-and-emails/comment-page-1/#comment-253868”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/06/07/a-response-to-recent-online-open-letters-and-emails/comment-page-1/#comment-253303”;

293 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm

@Michael Nugent:

It’s not enough, but it is a central element of it. In law, an assault is typically an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. It becomes battery if it is carried through into actual harmful or offensive contact.

Right, so it’s not enough to merely *feel* something, there are additional conditions which must also be at play. For example you mention intent to instill fear of harm or contact.

(I think the distinction you’re making between assault and battery may be a regional thing. Not all regions make the same distinction; but that’s besides the point anyway, just something to think about.)

My point is that merely claiming one feels something is not justification by itself for claiming that someone else has committed a crime. Accusations should be based on more than Spectral Evidence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_evidence

294 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm
Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 7:23 am

@Pogsurf: By the way, stop harassing me by responding in this thread. I feel harassed when you reply.

No.

How dare Pogsurf harass me? He’s a vicious and relentless harasser! A stalker, no less! Why, I fear for my personal safety, right here in the coziness of my own home. Oh! Woe is me! ~ Bothered FTB Blogger

Seriously, people, this is what we’re facing. Wolf cries and crocodile tears. I’ve yet to see any convincing evidence of anything justifying accusations of harassment. Bothering, sure. Harassment, no.

295 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Trust me – I have no doubt that a lot of the people who think making other people’s lives difficult and engage in constant attack and character assassination all day know what the law says.

I get not *technically* a threat and not *technically* verbal abuse occasionally. You know like someone saying they “aren’t above slapping girls that get out of line, like you” or describing rape or disturbing images as a form of satire.

Saying things like, “If I happen to run into you” instead of “I will approach you if I feel like it” – is a way of sort of being terrible without LOOKING terrible or pressing legal buttons.

It’s a thing.

Point blank. If I see someone constantly acting inappropriately. I’m not going to give them a forum within my spaces. If they think that’s unfair – too bad.

And yeah, I’m going to think less of people who don’t seem to have a problem with that inappropriate behavior or spend more time criticizing those offended than the offenders.

296 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

@Johnn Morales:

Being bothered by having an obsessively constant stream of malicious badmouthing directed at her (you’re indulging in prevarication because you’re on this particular blog, thus the mere gaslighting) is a normal human reaction, and it is the least of the desired reaction. What they really want to do is “win” by harassing her into silence, as they already have with two other women.

Who is *they*? Names, evidence, links, quotes. Not assertions. Reason, please.

Imagine you were reporting this crime to police (for you are accusing of a crime). The police ask you for details of this harassment. What will you show them?

297 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Oh my goodness!

It’s not “harassment” it’s “bothering”.

It’s not “verbal abuse” it’s “ribbing”.

I think we need a campaign similar to “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

How about y’all just stop acting terrible for a week or two and see if the accusations of y’all acting terrible go away or not.

Call it an experiment.

298 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Dave Allen said (#233):

Non-trivial piling-on? Good gracious! I don’t see why it’s a problem really
….
But piling-on itself? meh.

Seems you missed my point or didn’t read all of my comment, notably the concluding statements. Or I didn’t describe it well enough.

But it was that the piling-on was in furtherance of perpetrating and propagating a falsehood if not actually a libel. And it was that which is compounding the problems in these discussions. If people are labouring under misapprehensions of one sort or another because of factual errors – or because of the peddling of egregious propaganda which is presented as fact – then it should not be at all surprisng if the dialogs go off the rails rather quickly.

Instead of ‘piling on’ I suggest ‘rumour mongering’, one of my main points for about a year last year. The unskeptical brewing of unsourced stories. You can literally watch it play out in the case of MonopodGate. I tracked down the main unskeptical culprit to Zvan’s blog. The examples from Ophelia’s blog against Nugent are fresh, but not as incriminating because they can’t actually make anything seem plausible enough to ‘stick’.

299 A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

It’s not “harassment” it’s “bothering”.

It’s not “verbal abuse” it’s “ribbing”.

Amazing isn’t it…

And those aren’t “rape threats” they’re “dating tips…”

300 Steersman June 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm

M. A. Melby said (#291):

Trust me – I have no doubt that a lot of the people who think making other people’s lives difficult and engage in constant attack and character assassination all day know what the law says.

I believe you when you assert that you have no doubts on that score. But the question is whether you have any specific evidence to justify your assertions that:

a) some specific people are actually engaged in “constant attack and character assassination all day”;
b) said “attack and character assassination” is invalid, i.e., there is no justification for said attacks and “assassinations”; and
c) they “know what the law says” about such activities.

Maybe you would care to put your money where your mouth is and actually provide some specific evidence for the above including, but not limited to, specific examples of what you consider “constant attack and character assassination”. Facts not innuendo is what will carry the day – or at least advance it.

301 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Dave Allen June 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

“THis is ridiculous. Where did you people learn to speak like this? Dave Allen & Thaumas, I’m looking at you! ”

Well I dunno about Thaumas, but I took English up to A-level and I read these things called books.

Frick, I thought we were discoursing in Swahili. What was the topic again?

302 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Daniel June 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Look, Dave & Thaumas, we could drift into a distracting side show. Lets all get back on topic, agreed? Personally I am no going to be inclided to respond to personal critisizm or advice” either way. So if I don’t respond, don’t take offence.

Feel free to drop the subject, but to clarify one last time, it was a simple question: Why is it the case that you spend time complaining about AI, when you could be off starting or joining a better group?

303 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Thaumas Themelios, you said I had harassed you in this thread, and insisted that I stop posting here.

Can you explain why you said this? I have not knowingly said anything to upset you, if I have done so I will apologise.

Yes, I can explain. It is an effort to show you the kind of *ridiculously* wide interpretation of ‘harassment’ that is used to try to just ify their accusations of a sustained campaign of harassment.

In *no way* do I actually think you harassed me. I was playing a role, which I *wish* I could call melodramatic, except that I really do believe that is the ‘standard’ they are using to claim ‘harassment': Somebody somewhere (on the Slymepit, for example) said something about me that I don’t like, and *for that reason alone*, they are harassing me.

If their claims were any more substantive than that, then *they would have no difficulty* producing credible evidence that anyone in the Slymepit (for example, or myself for another example) is *actually* harassing them, rather than merely bothering them.

If you can see why my claim of harassment against you is absurd, then you can see why I consider their claims of harassment against me and other members of the slymepit.com forum to be absurd.

304 A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

No Thaumas, your claim is absurd; Benson’s is documented…http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/more-documenting-the-harassment/

The latest is a comment that she might want to be careful in Ireland because “something might happen” to her there and another suggestion from the same person that she could “do with some acid…”

But I’m sure that’s not a “real” threat…`cause the “real” threats would somehow look different because…er…um….how exactly would a “real” threat look different Thaumas?

305 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

dresq June 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

@M. Nugent #242

“It’s not enough, but it is a central element of it. In law, an assault is typically an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.”

Your definition of assault is correct but incomplete. To be an assault, the act must create a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful contact. Carrying the analogy through, I think there’s a lot of disagreement over whether the “apprehension” complained of by certain persons in reasonable.

A good point, dresq. I would agree. IMO, the claims being made are far from reasonable, being more akin to spectral evidence and equivocation of words: actual harassment vs. merely being bothered (i.e. not qualifying as a criminal activity, but still annoying).

If people were to claim, “These people are carrying on a sustained campaign that bothers me,” I wouldn’t see that as far from the mark. However, they know such a paltry claim holds no emotional urgency, and so they must upgrade their accusation beyond the reasonable and claim that it ventures into actual harassment.

This is not only disingenuous, I consider it very unethical.

306 Steersman June 9, 2013 at 8:54 pm

A Hermit said (#295):

And those aren’t “rape threats” they’re “dating tips…”

And, pray tell, what “rape threats” would those be?

And, even assuming you have credible evidence of such, do show how that is any mark against those commenting here or on “The Pit”, or against the Pit itself. You might want to try re-calibrating your gun-sights ….

307 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm

You told me I was harassing you Metalogic42. I blocked you so that I couldn’t be accused of seeking to harass you further.

Are you upset because I labelled you “clinically insane” on my blog? Asking me to re-jig abusive messages and then to send them to you to see how hurt you felt is quite mad you know.

I’m sorry to say, Pogsurf, but I find your response to Metalogic42 to be as absurd as I find your (and their) standard of ‘harassment’.

To all ONLOOKERS. Please review the comments in this thread involving Pogsurf and his definition of harassment. Observe the absurd conclusion of the discussion.

We are *not* exaggerating. People *really do* think that all it takes to be *guilty of harassment* is for *the other person* to ‘feel’ harassed, and *that’s it*. Nothing else need occur to qualify as harassment in their eyes.

Could any society function with such a ridiculous form of thought policing?

308 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Jason Thibeault June 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I did what to who now?

How do you “dialogue” with people who just make shit up from whole cloth?

You’ve never debated a theist? It’s really not that hard.

Well! I guess it would be hard if the theists ban any atheists off their boards. Yeah, then it’s not really possible. But even theists have boards where they allow debates to occur without shutting out dissenting opinion.

Of course, that’s de rigeur for skeptic and freethought fora. Oh, wait….

309 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Pogsurf June 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Pitchguest I believe you are right up to a point.

If I produced an image and put it on my blog, I don’t think that constitutes harassment, except if the image is so disgusting that it causes hate.

However if I sent my seemingly innocent image to the person concerned, after they had made it clear to me to leave them alone, I am harassing them.

Okay, now I can see you may be open to reason. I agree with you there. Yes, repeatedly contacting someone after they’ve made it clear to stop, and they feel reasonably threatened, that is definitely beginning to make a good case for harassment.

Now. Where has this actually occurred? That’s what I want to know.

310 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Incidentally, using PZ Myers’ name as you did is an argument from authority, which is a well known logical fallacy.

Usually when we cite someone like PZ Myers, we are using it to show hypocrisy, not argument from authority. When they try to hold people to contradictory standards, or to standards that they do not hold themselves to.

311 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

@ A Hermit

I have a better idea Thaumas; instead of demanding that everyone else conform to your self serving definitions (which look to me more like an attempt to minimize and ignore the problem than to clarify) why don;t we all use the definition which most people seem to be using; you know, the one in the dictionary…

Because, you … gah! Because using the word as an accusation tied to a criminal act is a form of character assassination and defamation, if not libel or slander. Here’s a definition for you:

Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, or traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal action to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism.

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and have been made to someone other than the person defamed.[1] Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel.[2]

They are making false claims about real people that are damaging to their reputations. I have no idea if it rises to a legal level, and frankly don’t care because it is not my main concern (yet). My primary concern is that it’s unskeptical and unethical rumour-mongering that’s damaging *our community*.

This has been my primary concern *since the frigging beginning*, when Rebecca Watson smeared Stef McGraw. I opposed it then, I oppose it now. I won’t stop opposing it until it stops. There is *no need* for it, and those who perpetrate it should be ashamed of themselves. Sadly, I doubt they are. And so the damage continues. But it will stop eventually, as more and more people wake up to the problem.

312 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm

We know these people exist, we sometimes dismiss them as “trolls” but they come in various shapes and sizes and associations and are real people.

I really do not want to call anyone specific out further on these comments because I don’t want this to blow up more than it already has…

AND the moderate asked that WE NOT DO THAT – so I’m not going to do it.

The evidence I have that they know the law, is that many times (and I’m speaking generally of online harassers and trolls) will say and do things that just barely fall short of actionable offenses.

If I speak more clearly: “Some online harassers appear to understand the law, since they eschew actionable offenses while skirting closely to them.”

I’ve had people actually SAY: What I just said was not technically a threat!! I did not threaten you because I said I would slap people *like* you – not you personally.

This stuff happens all the time – and NO – it’s not just “you guys” or all of “you guys”; I was speaking generally since someone mentioned the law.

I mean – the sky is clear and appears blue during most of a clear day due to Rayleigh Scattering.

What’s new?

313 A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm

blockquote> using the word as an accusation tied to a criminal act is a form of character assassination and defamation,…

But Thaumas, you’re the only one demanding that we must tie the word to criminal act…

They are making false claims about real people that are damaging to their reputations.

They aren’t “false claims” just because they don’t conform to your over-narrow definition. Benson has a running thread documenting the people talking trash about her. Most people recognize that stuff as harassment.

314 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm

@M.A.:

Point blank. If I see someone constantly acting inappropriately. I’m not going to give them a forum within my spaces. If they think that’s unfair – too bad.

As I’ve always said, it’s their blogs to run as they please. And if they run their blogs dogmatically or unskeptically, it’s my right to express that opinion elsewhere also.

However, you’re dodging one issue without following it to completion:

So, you agree that what these bloggers have demonstrated so far is not actual harassment, merely being bothered, right? Then do you also agree that *they should stop* claiming they are being actually harassed by us? Don’t you think they should not make unsubstantiated accusations of criminal activity against people?

Now, regardless of your answer, and if you dodge the question, I’ll consider that conceding the point, you are merely venturing into *another* issue where the FTB story doesn’t add up:

They not only delete ‘bothering’ posts, they delete *reasoned dissenting opinions*. Delete to the point that their blogs become self-censored echo chambers.

Examples: http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=323

So, now you have *two* problems: 1) They label all their perceived enemies as ‘harassers’, ‘misogynists’, and worse. And 2) A lot of their perceived enemies haven’t even engaged in mild ‘bothering’ behaviour, but have merely posted reasonable, dissenting opinions.

Unlike the bloggers crying Wolf, who provide no evidence to support their accusations, I’m providing you with *several examples* to support my claim. Are you tempted to ignore my examples? Are you going to give in to that kind of confirmation bias, or be a skeptic and look at all the evidence available.

And hey, if you find that the evidence we’ve provided isn’t sufficient to outweigh all the *other* evidence you’ve seen to support the FTB story, please, I’d be very interested to see all this other evidence, so please post it in this thread so all can see it and compare.

315 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm

@M.A. Melby

It’s not “verbal abuse” it’s “ribbing”.

Can you provide actual evidence of said ‘verbal abuse’? No? I’m not surprised. What the heck do you mean by ‘verbal abuse’ anyway? If it’s criminal abuse, then it’s criminal, whether verbal or not. But I don’t think you mean criminal abuse. I think you haven’t the faintest idea *what* you mean, to be perfectly honest. If you can define it, maybe we can discuss it. Till then, it’s yet more Wolf crying.

How about y’all just stop acting terrible for a week or two and see if the accusations of y’all acting terrible go away or not.

Call it an experiment.

That’s just the problem, now, isn’t it, M.A?

According to you, based on *no evidence*, I’ve been ‘acting terrible’.

Where? When? Details! Specifics! WTF are you even talking about? Why are you ‘acting terrible’ to me? See how that works? It makes no fricking sense!

I’ve done nothing wrong that I know of, and therefore I have nothing to apologize for or make up for. When I’m shown wrong, I do apologize, and do try to make up for it.

I challenge you to put your skeptic’s hat on and think twice. Can you find anything on me? Anything at all? I know you can’t because I’ve done nothing wrong, but I challenge you nonetheless.

Call it an experiment.

316 A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Steersman, there are plenty of examples of women getting rape threats …

http://bogleech.tumblr.com/post/31329395111/what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-all-these-atheists

http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/nq7s4/what_my_super_religious_mother_got_me_for

http://skepchick.org/page-o-hate/

http://skepchick.org/wp-content/uploads/rationalia-rape-threats.png

The problem with the slymepit is that so many of you dismiss all of it as “just joking” or “just trolls” or pretend that it’s all made up…there’s a few examples here:

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/

317 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm

A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Amazing isn’t it…

And those aren’t “rape threats” they’re “dating tips…”

Oh, the horror! Woe is me! Rape threats?!?!?!

Where? Post the evidence right here in this thread. Show us all what these ‘rape threats’ amount to. Is it anonymous trolling that *frickin everyone* gets from anonymous trolls? Or is it *actual* threats of rape from individuals in the Atheist/Skeptic movement. Any from members of the slymepit.com forum? Have *I* ever threatened rape? If so, where? Evidence, facts, skeptic hats. Come on, skeptics, get off your asses and do your homework.

Or stop making ridiculous accusations.

318 Steersman June 9, 2013 at 10:06 pm

M. A. Melby said (#308):

I really do not want to call anyone specific out further on these comments because I don’t want this to blow up more than it already has…

AND the moderator asked that WE NOT DO THAT – so I’m not going to do it.

I think you might want to re-read Michael’s comment (#241) a little more closely this time as I don’t see that he said anything of the sort. He was referring to “speculation about whether a named person was exaggerating and/or [perpetrating a falsehood – not to say the “L”-word]”. If you have factual information that clearly justifies a “calling-out” in that or any other case then I hardly think he is going to delete those – particularly as I have actually provided factual evidence of such “falsehoods” which he has let stand.

319 John Morales June 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Thaumas @296:

Who is *they*? Names, evidence, links, quotes. Not assertions. Reason, please.

Precisely the people as those to whom you were referring in the quotation to which I responded wherein you asked “Is [name redacted] really a victim of persistent harassment? Or is she merely persistently bothered by people she doesn’t like and disagrees with?”

320 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

The latest is a comment that she might want to be careful in Ireland because “something might happen” to her there and another suggestion from the same person that she could “do with some acid…”

Who is “Christian Chandler”? Never heard of him or her. Sounds like an anonymous troll to me. Any connection to the Atheist/Skeptic movement, besides the text of the tweets (a troll could easily have produced such; if you don’t think so, you underestimate trolls)?

Or is that *all you have*?

The Sara Mayhew one doesn’t even sink to the level of *trolling*. It’s no worse than I’ve seen routinely coming out of FTB-land. I don’t know Twitter mechanics myself; does @-ing Ophelia send it to Ophelia directly? Has Ophelia told Sara not to @ her? Has she used the Twitter block mechanism to block her? If she has, then *why is she reading a blocked tweet*? Someone would have had to pass it on to her, wouldn’t they?

The Karla Porter et al convo is not harassing at all. That is f’ing ridiculous to claim that’s harassment. They didn’t @ Ophelia or anything. ***Why is Ophelia even reading those messages from people she is trying to avoid (supposedly)***?

Please, I urge *everyone* go to that link and ask, is that *really* harassment, or is it just that Ophelia is terribly bothered by trolls and people who aren’t even talking to her?

321 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Oops, link is here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/more-documenting-the-harassment/

Behold! The great campaign of misogynistic harassment! When a person goes out of their way to read the tweets of people she doesn’t like and gets bothered by what they say. Feel the ground TREMBLE!!!

Yes. I’m very impressed with your evidence of this supposed criminal activity, which is really just Ophelia being bothered.

Absurd.

322 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm

@M.A. Melby:

I really do not want to call anyone specific out further on these comments because I don’t want this to blow up more than it already has…

I am telling you sincerely, M.A., that it will not *end* until you call out specific people with specific facts. By trying to avoid it, you are feeding it.

How about this for a little rule in our conversation: If you make a claim and someone asks for evidence, *and you do not provide the evidence that you’re basing the claim on*, then you should retract your claim and state clearly that you cannot justify it at this time.

Fair enough? That would go a *looong* way to calming this stuff down. Stop making bullshit claims you can’t support, or if you make them and they are challenged, you retract them promptly and politely. Seems reasonable to me.

323 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm

AND the moderate asked that WE NOT DO THAT – so I’m not going to do it.

Well, in that case, just stop making claims about people then.

324 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm

If I speak more clearly: “Some online harassers appear to understand the law, since they eschew actionable offenses while skirting closely to them.”

I’ve had people actually SAY: What I just said was not technically a threat!! I did not threaten you because I said I would slap people *like* you – not you personally.

This stuff happens all the time – and NO – it’s not just “you guys” or all of “you guys”; I was speaking generally since someone mentioned the law.

I agree with you that that is skirting the edge of the law, and I don’t condone that sort of behaviour myself. However, that’s my personal line I won’t cross, and will criticize others for crossing, but I won’t go on to accuse people of harassment. Instead I’ll just state my opinion, as you have, that they are pushing the limits and I think it’s unethical myself. I certainly wouldn’t go on to say that anyone who associates with that person is a misogynist or a harassment enabler. That would just be bullshit.

325 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm

But Thaumas, you’re the only one demanding that we must tie the word to criminal act…

I’m not demanding it; it *is* tied to a criminal act. Have you not been paying attention???? For example: http://yourlaws.ca/criminal-code-canada/264-criminal-harassment

Okay, perhaps it’s not the term used everywhere, I’ll concede that for the sake of argument.

But if you’re not talking about criminal behaviour, then WTF is the problem in the first place? Being bothered. That’s it. There is no power differential, like in workplace sexual harassment (illegal). There is no physical threat. There is no slander or libel (that I’m aware of) because anything that’s over-the-top is clearly over-the-top in terms of caricature and satire, both protected forms of political speech. And this controversy is definitely a human-political issue within our sub-culture/communities. So, what *exactly* are you going on about, if not criminal behaviour? As far as I can tell, it’s just ‘being bothered’, and nothing more.

Unfortunately, ‘being bothered’ does scare people enough, so you have to amplify it to ‘harassment’. Why not just call it what it is? “I’m so terribly bothered by people who disagree with me and make fun of it!” If people were honest about it, it wouldn’t create a drama shitstorm, that’s why. Need the drama to pay the bills, right? Well, fuck that! It’s harming our community, so screw off with your damn drama mongering.

326 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

They aren’t “false claims” just because they don’t conform to your over-narrow definition. Benson has a running thread documenting the people talking trash about her. Most people recognize that stuff as harassment.

They are most definitely false claims when they are tarred onto me. By *no* reasonable definition have I harassed anyone. The only way you could *possibly* shoehorn me into that word is if the word is stretched so absurdly wide as to simply mean ‘being bothered by’.

327 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 10:56 pm

John Morales June 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm
Thaumas @296:

Who is *they*? Names, evidence, links, quotes. Not assertions. Reason, please.

Precisely the people as those to whom you were referring in the quotation to which I responded wherein you asked “Is [name redacted] really a victim of persistent harassment? Or is she merely persistently bothered by people she doesn’t like and disagrees with?”

Flying Spaghetti Monster, that is the worst dodge I’ve seen in a long fricken time.

Names! Of the ‘harassers’! Who is ‘harassing’? Evidence. Facts. Skeptic hats.

328 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 11:22 pm

“So, you agree that what these bloggers have demonstrated so far is not actual harassment, merely being bothered, right? Then do you also agree that *they should stop* claiming they are being actually harassed by us? Don’t you think they should not make unsubstantiated accusations of criminal activity against people?”

No, I was actually making fun of the idea that people feel the need to parse “bothering” and “harassment” to make their behavior seem slightly less odious.

You know that game that children “play” where they keep saying, “I’m not touching you!!!”

I’m on the FtB quite a bit. I have written posts criticizing various POSTS by the bloggers there. You know – their actual ideas and stuff they actually write about.

Somehow I was able to strongly disagree with Zvan and not only was I not blocked by her; she engaged with me about the topic. I could give you quite a few examples of me being all “heretical” and by some magic being allowed to voice my opinion and be engaged with.

http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/i-fell-down-the-stairs-and-became-a-man/

Different bloggers have very different comment policies – so the claim that “FtB” censors dissent on their network is a non-starter.

If you don’t have a problem with people deciding (for whatever reason) to moderate their comments on their own personal blogs the way that they choose – what’s the beef exactly?

The idea that FtB is some sort of gigantic echo-chamber is an odd meme-type legend that seems to be perpetuating by those who have had conflicts with bloggers or commentors on those blogs.

Even if that were true, as you said, there plenty of opportunities to rebut any claims they may make on your own spaces. There is no requirement to comment on FtB or anywhere else.

What really gets me though, is that I have never actually seen a claim on ANY blog by ANYONE that *everyone* who posts on the Slymepit is a harasser; only that some of the people who act inappropriately are tolerated there.

I have NEVER heard that *everyone* that posts there IS harassing people. That’s just silly.

If you want to parse legal definitions; you may want to back up your own claims.

I’m very serious when I say that people in high-profile positions and women are told to “document, document, document” when someone is acting inappropriately or has a creepy interest in us. When you go to the cops; that is what they say to do.

This attitude that it’s somehow immoral or ILLEGAL to complain about being constantly “bothered” before it somehow passes a LEGAL STANDARD into harassment is bizarre. You might want to think about why on earth such a distinction would be relevant in your situation.

The same way that accusing you of libel for saying that you FEEL as though an accusation (that has never been mounted) is actually being mounted IN MASS by a bunch of people, some of whom could care less would probably be sort of annoying.

If anything, perhaps you could use the “reasonable person” defense, if that were ever to happen?

I have never been to the Slymepit – but after following your link – HOLY CRAP – Obsessed much?

My god, so much wasted effort. I mean, there are prominent people – VERY prominent YouTube personalities and even national personalities that I have some serious problems with. I think they have said some very silly and problematic things, I think they have pulled a lot of crap, and yeah – I don’t think they are good for us in their worst moments.

I’ve written a few blogs criticizing their ideas and how they have conducted themselves; but am careful not to allow my blog to just become some sort of drama-space and to FOCUS on what they have actually said and done; not some conclusion about their WORTH.

I can’t IMAGINE doing the stuff that you guys do to a handful of bloggers you feel have somehow slighted you or something.

Maybe you should take your own advice and “ignore” – especially the people who have been asked to be left alone?

If THEY dog you after that – we can have this conversation again. Otherwise:

JUST STOP IT.

329 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Maybe you should take your own advice and “ignore” – especially the people who have been asked to be left alone?

I have. Check your facts.

If THEY dog you after that – we can have this conversation again.

You mean they’re going to stop smearing all the members of the slymepit.com message forum, of which I’m a member? Stop spreading unsubstantiated rumours about the community? Somehow I doubt it. They’ve been going on about this for 2 years now. What makes you think they’ll stop now?

But, until they stop, well, yeah, I guess we are going to have this conversation over and over again. Kinda sad, eh, all this wasted effort when we could be doing much more important things?

330 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm

You do realize, that one of the reasons that calling people out – however, BETTER than being vague – is that it requires making someone mad that you think is not always reasonable in their dealings with other people?

Oh well – into the breach.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/05/watch-me-debate-justin-vacula-may-31-830pm-930pm/#comment-918023072

331 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm

JUST STOP IT.

Stop…. doing what, exactly?

You mean just stop expressing my opinions online? Sorry, not gonna happen. Why should I stop? Have I done anything wrong? If so, what? Where? Evidence. Facts. Skeptic hats. Say that five times fast.

332 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm

M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm

You do realize, that one of the reasons that calling people out – however, BETTER than being vague – is that it requires making someone mad that you think is not always reasonable in their dealings with other people?

Oh well – into the breach.

Do you have any examples where I’ve ‘gotten mad’ as you’re alluding to?

Why the F aren’t you thinking about *evidence*, M.A.? Such as evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. Do you think I’m the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong? I’m not.

Think like a skeptic. Look for the evidence. Can you find ****any****?

333 Thaumas Themelios June 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Somehow I was able to strongly disagree with Zvan and not only was I not blocked by her; she engaged with me about the topic. I could give you quite a few examples of me being all “heretical” and by some magic being allowed to voice my opinion and be engaged with.

Can you explain why she blocked these comments by me, then? http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=81001#p81001

I challenge you to find anything I did wrong in that situation, *except* for disagree with her and her commenters and challenge them on their assumptions about me and other members of the slymepit.com forum. She misread one of my posts (a very obvious misreading), and wham! into mod-limbo.

Did you disagree with her on feminism or anything related, or was it unrelated? She’s not dogmatic about everything. Neither are fundies. Still dogmatic though.

334 M. A. Melby June 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Why did she block your comment?

I’ll put on my telepathic helmet and get back to you.

*shakes head*

I’m not talking about you specifically ALL THE TIME – so don’t get defensive about that, k?

To be clear. I don’t know you, nor do I know your nyms. For all I know, you simply really like parsing “bothering” and “harassing” for no apparent reason; and are simply mistaken that the going attitude is that everyone who posts to the SlymePit are “harassers”, especially using a legal definition.

I’m pretty sure the irony is also lost on you, that you’ve been making blanket statements about FtB – but hey – availability heuristic for the win.

335 M. A. Melby June 10, 2013 at 12:03 am

“Why the F aren’t you thinking about *evidence*, M.A.? Such as evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. Do you think I’m the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong? I’m not.”

See – this is sort of the type of thing that creeps people out. You’re attributing to me something that I didn’t say. You’re taking personally things that I spoke of generally. You refuse to acknowledge clarifications that distinctly put the accusations (that I’m actually making and that aren’t in dispute) in focus. You’re reacting with angry defensiveness, instead of calm clarifications.

Work on that.

336 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 12:14 am

@M.A. Melby:

So far I’ve only read your blog, not the comments, nor anything from Zvan on the topic, so I don’t see where you’ve come to any kinds of back-and-forth disagreement with her which touched on any of the issues she tends to react strongly to. I’m assuming that happened on her blog somewhere?

You can defend him, and clarify the science, without defending his unfortunate word choices.

I find this closing sentence/paragraph a little confusing. First of all, I’ve never interacted with Greg Laden (as far as I recall), and have no personal issue with him, so I’m not sure what “defend him” means. As far as I recall, it was his statements and defense of those statements (as well as (recollection is getting vaguer) Zvan’s defense of the same statements) that was the source of controversy.

Personally, I don’t see that particular issue as very central to anything related to the current divisions in the community. Yes, it’s a symptomatic statement of a certain kind of ‘bias’ or ‘judgment’ on male-female sexual differences, so it’s indicative of an underlying issue, but by itself it’s not enough to split a community apart. People made fun of that statement, and also of Greg himself (in parody/caricature), which I would not consider ‘harassment’ of any kind, as it was not done by contacting him repeatedly, but by posting jokes and images in a separate message forum.

So, I suppose the long and the short of it is that when we talk about ‘disagree’ and ‘dissent’ *in the context* of this community division, I’m talking about disagreement and dissent over the core controversies related to the divisions.

Sure, you disagreed with Zvan over Laden’s statement, but you concluded your blog with a rather out-of-place? strange? je-ne-sais-quois statement that reads very much like a *defense* of Greg Laden the person. Not that I think he needed personal defense on that issue, but that just makes it all the more curious why you’d express that: “You can defend him, and clarify the science, without defending his unfortunate word choices.”

It does not come off as a very strong critique of anything Zvan would be worried about. So, I’m not really surprised she didn’t have much of an issue with it. (Or did she? Again, I haven’t read anything from her blog on the subject.)

On the other hand, the topic that I was in disagreement over with Zvan is deeply connected to these divisions. In fact, it’s very closely related to the same topic this thread has become about as well: The question of harassment. This is a topic on which, IMHO, Zvan is much more likely to react in a (what I would call, lacking a better term) dogmatic way by shutting down any dissent that steps too close to her arbitrary lines of taboo/not-taboo. I was excessively polite in that thread (esp. compared to how her commenters were barking at me) and she still booted me *whack* like that, over a single misreading of one word.

Not really conducive to rational discourse, I hope you can see.

337 Michael Nugent June 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Two updates on my moderation policy.

Any references to people lying will automatically go into moderation, and will not be approved if they are suggesting that an identifiable person is lying. You can say they are wrong, or that they are mistaken, but please do not attribute the motivation of deliberately saying something they know to be untrue that is suggested by the word lying.

Any references to Ophelia will automatically go into moderation, and will not be approved if they are defamatory or if I feel they are likely to exacerbate the existing conflicts. That will be based on personal judgments by me, which may of course be mistaken, so we may disagree about what I let though. When I get time, I will return any unpublished comments by email, so you can if you choose rephrase them and send them again.

Michael

338 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 12:16 am

M. A. Melby said (#33x):

What really gets me though, is that I have never actually seen a claim on ANY blog by ANYONE that *everyone* who posts on the Slymepit is a harasser;

Really? Maybe not an explicit charge of being a harasser, but this comment (1) by PZ Myers seems even worse in characterizing “our gang”, “our group” as outright misogynists.

Skeptixx: Slymepitters are never welcome here — your gang crosses the line from sexism into outright misogyny, and I don’t think that group’s fondness for inventing ‘creative’ versions of people’s names using crude slang for genitals counts as rational discussion. Banned with extreme prejudice.

Do note: all slymepitters are not welcome; looks like a rather categorical condemnation of everyone there for being misogynists to me. How about you?

—-
1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;

339 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 12:31 am

Michael said (#331):

Any references to “O” will automatically go into moderation, and will not be approved if they are defamatory or if I feel they are likely to exacerbate the existing conflicts.

Your call of course, but, as there is a post of mine in moderation presumably for that reason, I would appreciate knowing as soon as possible, by e-mail if necessary, the specific reasons for that. More particularly, I didn’t actually say that she was [perpetrating falsehoods], and I provided a substantial amount of information to buttress my argument that one interpretation of hers was a seriously bad inference at least. And as that question of the interpretation of various actions as either harassment or as reasonable criticism seems to be the primary one in play, I think that argument, or some modification of it should be allowed to stand.

Regards,
Steersman.

340 Michael Nugent June 10, 2013 at 12:38 am

Steersman, I’ll get it to you either before I go to bed tonight or else first thing tomorrow morning (I’m working on something else that I need to have ready for the morning and just checking notifications of online messages as they come in).

341 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 12:39 am

Thanks Michael.

342 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 12:46 am

Different bloggers have very different comment policies – so the claim that “FtB” censors dissent on their network is a non-starter.

Yes, that’s true. When using ‘FTB’ in this context, it’s a short hand for a group of bloggers and commentariat who are closely associated with this issue. For example, we are not talking about people like Aron Ra or Mano Singham, or several others. We’re talking about the much more prominent people who specifically are involved in this controversy. Clear examples everyone knows: PZ, Zvan, formerly Greg Laden, Lousy Canuck. There are lots of regular commenters as well who make up the bulk of the numbers.

If you like I could use more specific terminology. But frankly, when it comes to making specific claims, we (or at least I) make *specific claims* that we can back up with links and evidence. (Or failing that, we, or at least I, retract the claim.) So if you want to know about a claim, just ask for the evidence. Various people at various times have been involved, and the set of people has morphed over time. Better to focus on specific claims than generalities, IMO.

If you don’t have a problem with people deciding (for whatever reason) to moderate their comments on their own personal blogs the way that they choose – what’s the beef exactly?

For the *exact* same reason I go on about religion: They don’t leave other people alone. The very first incident that got me involved was Rebecca Watson’s smear on Stef McGraw. I spoke out about that. And that’s when I saw the blocking and banning happen, and it happened to me on Ophelia’s blog. Details here: http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=97665#p97665

After ElevatorGate, though, things seemed to die down, and so *we hoped it was over* more or less. But no. It got started back up again around the time that they attacked DJ Grothe and tried to get him fired from JREF. Huh. Funny. Now they’re trying to get Ron Lindsay fired from CFI. That’s a strange coincidence, doncha think? I wonder if they might one day try to pull that shit on Michael Nugent? I know they certainly smeared Richard Dawkins. Oh, and there was that guy they tried to accuse of upskirt photography. Huh. Ya know, I think there might be some sort of pattern here…. hmmmmm.

So, I got involved again around that time, specifically I spent a lot of time investigating the upskirt photography incident. And when I found….. dun dun DUUUNNNN … that they had absolutely nothing to go on but ***demonstrably false*** rumours (brewed largely on Zvan’s blog), I put together a series of comments on Greta Christina’s blog to refute that false rumour once and for all. Thankfully, it worked, and they haven’t tried to resurrect it. And ***thankfully*** Greta did not ban me from her comments, although at least one of her commentariat called for me to be banned (insta-banned is the term they used).

And it’s been going on and on since. They vilify someone, try to cow them or depose them, and move on to the next target. It’s gotten so predictable, the SPs came up with the term “witch of the week”. Right now, that would probably be Ron Lindsay, though Michael Nugent’s had a few close calls, see Ophelia’s “A response” post tackbacked below for a good example where they couldn’t quite brew up the right rumours to tar him with. I’m sure one day I’ll be the “witch of the week”, but I’ll make it as hard for them as I can, and if they ever try it, I hope to make it so they’ll regret it by making it backfire on them.

Oh, and it’s not just men they attack. First was Stef McGraw. The latest to date has been Skep Tickle (see the first posts in the link above in this comment). There’ve been Renee Hendricks, Sara Mayhew, Maria Maltseva, and many others. They even have a derogatory name for them: Chill Girls.

These are good people who do not deserve to be vilified. I choose to do what I can to stand up against this bullshit and defeat it skeptically, with reason and evidence. I hope more people get they’re ire up and do the same. Frankly, RW, PZ, Zvan, Melody Hensley, Greg Laden, Richard Carrier, and those who’ve taken this ‘us vs. them’ dogma upon themselves, they are the bullies. Yes, I’ve been bullied. A lot. Thing is, I’ve grown a very thick skin because of it, and I’ve developed online debate techniques to stand up and confront without crossing the line into becoming a bully myself. So, there ya have it. That’s why I’m standing in opposition. I think they are damaging our community, their dogma is harmful, they are acting unethically in several occasions, and they are certainly not behaving skeptically. Most importantly though, they are harming real people. Their actions have real consequences. It’s been going on far too long, and it won’t abate until more people stand up against them. Or, they listen to reason and back down from these attacks and smears. But, I’m not holding my breath for that.

343 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 12:53 am

I’m very serious when I say that people in high-profile positions and women are told to “document, document, document” when someone is acting inappropriately or has a creepy interest in us. When you go to the cops; that is what they say to do.

That is excellent advice, and I concur completely. Do not mistake my defense of those who I believe are innocent of any crime to be in any way condoning criminal behaviour. I do not. If I were aware of any clearly illegal behaviour, I would be with those condemning it. Simple fact is: I am not aware of any.

344 M. A. Melby June 10, 2013 at 12:53 am

“Do note: all slymepitters are not welcome; looks like a rather categorical condemnation of everyone there for being misogynists to me. How about you?”

No – actually.

He states the type of behavior that is unacceptable. This behavior has happened on the SlymePit and is tolerated. That does not mean everyone who has been involved in that forum does all of those things.

It would be an odd reading of that to say that EVERYONE engages in those types of activities.

He banned them all because that behavior is tolerated there. That’s pretty clear.

I’m not defending that policy, only explaining how I perceive it.

345 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 12:56 am

Note: A few of my comments are in moderation due to Michael’s new policy. They address several points by M.A. Melby. Specifically, M.A., I’ve dropped the hyperbole and I’m addressing your points as you took the time to make sincere points. I try to adapt my style of conversation to the situation. So, since Michael may be busy, there may be a few comments addressing your points that don’t show up until maybe tomorrow.

346 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 12:57 am

Oh, false alarm, looks like Michael let them through just now.

347 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 1:00 am

Oh, the horror! Woe is me! Rape threats?!?!?!

Where? Post the evidence right here in this thread. Show us all what these ‘rape threats’ amount to.

The reply is in moderation…too many links apparently…

348 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 1:10 am

Who is “Christian Chandler”? Never heard of him or her. Sounds like an anonymous troll to me.

And does the anonymity make those comments any less threatening? It’s only a “real threat” if Thaumas recognizes the name? How does that work?

. I’m very impressed with your evidence of this supposed criminal activity, which is really just Ophelia being bothered.

Still not getting it I see. No one said any of that (apart from the actual threats which are always anonymous and untraceable) is criminal activity. It doesn’t have to be criminal to be harassment, remember?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harass

ha·rass
transitive verb \hə-ˈras; ˈher-əs, ˈha-rəs\
Definition of HARASS
1
a : exhaust, fatigue
b (1) : to annoy persistently (2) : to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct

You have this strange idea that none of this stuff counts unless it’s criminally actionable threats made by people using their real names…everything else can be safely ignored.

349 Sister Eu June 10, 2013 at 1:11 am

A Hermit, you should tinyURl the links, and then screen cap it, and give one link – to imgur, and people can type in the tinyURL’s, shouldn’t be too hard.

Anyway, as for false claims on people, it would really help if people quoted or even screen capped what they mean if it’s not too far back so that they can’t claimed they’re being BSed on. Being captain obvious here.

350 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 1:18 am

M. A. Melby said (#339):

It would be an odd reading of that to say that EVERYONE engages in those types of activities.

That seems a bit of a stretch, if not some self-serving special pleading. PZ did say “your gang crosses the line from sexism into outright misogyny” in which case “gang” seems synonymous with the entire set of those posting on the Pit, i.e., those who are “slymepitters”, i.e., everyone.

But if not that then what? “Guilt by association”? “Kill them all; let God sort the good from the bad”? (1) Charming.

However, relative to your original point, I wonder then what you thought of Matt Penfold’s “The slymepit regards women as subservient to men”. Someone who, I might point out, posts frequently on Pharyngula. But that looks to me like a rather categorical and pejorative, if not libelous, statement about everyone on the “slymepit”.

I’m not defending that policy, only explaining how I perceive it.

Well, I’m glad to see that much – there’s still hope for you then. ;-)


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

351 Sister Eu June 10, 2013 at 1:30 am

Being on a forum with someone you disagree with isn’t guilt by association, rofl. Silly people.

352 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 1:35 am

Sister Eu:

Wikipedia (1):

An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association. Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and can be based on an appeal to emotion.

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

353 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 1:51 am

Ah; I missed Michael’s comment about moderation. Never mind…

354 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 2:32 am

If I were aware of any clearly illegal behaviour, I would be with those condemning it.

Why must the behaviour rise to the level of criminality before you denounce it? Is anything short of actionable criminal behaviour with enough evidence to get the police involved acceptable to you?

355 M. A. Melby June 10, 2013 at 2:33 am

“I do not. If I were aware of any clearly illegal behaviour, I would be with those condemning it. Simple fact is: I am not aware of any.”

That’s the thing – you seem to think there is this very strong hard line between legal and illegal (which there really isn’t), and are conflating legal and moral.

The term “harassing” is used as a synonym for persistently being bothered. “Being constantly bothered” is a euphemism for being harassed.

And there is NOT a hard line between the two – there just isn’t.

What is unacceptable is to persist with demands on other people in relation to how they deal with “being constantly bothered” – especially while, at the same time, they are dealing with troll goon squads that offer good old fashioned threats and rape descriptions.

The TITLE of the SlymePit forum is “Espousing the idea that non-penis-havers are adults and people” – parrot the most odious and persistent personal “criticism” (if you can call it that) that women (and it seems women in particular) are not being “adult” if they are upset by, or even mention, dealing with persistent internet harassment (NOT all of which is coming from YOU – okay already?) or making social commentary about how girls and women are treated generally (not JUST harassment).

That particular attitude has no chance of gaining traction with those who actually experience this.

The link I provided earlier is an example of how the “you’re not an adult if you “complain”” underlying “argument” (if you can call it that) is being unrelentingly hammered at EVEN when someone has completely retreated.

356 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 2:59 am

A Hermit, if your post appears and we haven’t responded, just post a little reminder. Cheers.

357 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 3:06 am

A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 2:32 am

If I were aware of any clearly illegal behaviour, I would be with those condemning it.

Why must the behaviour rise to the level of criminality before you denounce it?

Why do you assume that is my only criterion for denouncing something?

Is anything short of actionable criminal behaviour with enough evidence to get the police involved acceptable to you?

I’ve already given one example where I’ve said I’ll criticize and/or condemn what I consider unethical behaviour: Attempts at skirting the law by pushing its boundaries in attempts to push someone’s buttons, for example.

My entire involvement in this controversy was triggered by what I consider Watson’s unethical smearing of McGraw. Clearly, you are making too many assumptions about what motivates me to action.

Rather than assume, better to ask for clarification. You did ask questions, hence I tried to answer them in turn, but your initial question contained a hidden assumption in it. A bit like, “When are you going to stop beating your wife?”

358 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 4:08 am

Why do you assume that is my only criterion for denouncing something?

Because you constantly use that qualifier any time harassment is mentioned.

My entire involvement in this controversy was triggered by what I consider Watson’s unethical smearing of McGraw.

Really. what was the “smear?” I’ve seen the video; I see disagreement, I see criticism of what McGraw said about Watson but I don’t see a smear. And I certainly don;t see anything that comes close to criminal behaviour…the thing you keep harping on. Watson didn’t create fake twitter accounts, or sexualized photoshops, or call McGraw fat or tell her she was too ugly to be raped…

Why do you give that one, minor incident more weight than the much worse behaviour we’ve seen from your fellow ‘pitters?

I’m beginning to think you might be a bit of a hypocrite… !o.O

And have you talked to Ms McGraw lately? I keep seeing you `pitters dragging her name up as justification for your vendettas, but I don’t actually see her complaining about any of the people you and your chums are always whining about…is she even aware of the way you’re using her name?

359 SisterChromatid June 10, 2013 at 5:23 am

A hermit– WHO did those things?– certainly not all (or any?) of the people that have been labeled “misogynists” by PZ Myers et. al In fact, I bet all of the people you have made into enemies would be against that sort of treatment of others.

360 S Mason June 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

Michael Nugent June 9, 2013 at 1:29 am

“#205 Daniel,

Please discuss issues without attacking people.

Thanks.”

Do you want to aim that at Pogsurf too? I’m not replying to him given his last to me just got personal. No point right? And ironic that the harassment deniers jump quite that easily to the ad-hom! (Both sides indulge a bit there…but there’s extra-spicy-irony when it comes from those denying harassment).

Michael: do you see that the barrage of harassment, combined with the ‘it’s not harassment’ rhetoric from the anti-FTB, ant-OB, anti-so many other feminists is part of the same thing? That all of the things OB has been called explicitly on your blog here in this thread are part of a wider piece of serious harassment and intimidation?

Irrespective of what she may or may not have done herself (mostly its been highlighting this campaign against her recently), that seems pretty strong evidence that this does exist. She isn’t making it up. This is harassment.

The denial by so many are now very much part of the harassment problem. And this is classic denial territory. “I’d be fine if it happened to me: get a spine” territory.

a) I doubt it. And b) so what?

361 M. A. Melby June 10, 2013 at 6:12 am

Here’s a great example.

Ophelia tells Justin Vacula to stay away from her after he suggests that he might run into her at the Women in Secularism 2 conference – even though she has REPEATEDLY said that she doesn’t want to interact with him.

Justin Vacula writes a long blog article complaining about his rights to not have his movements limited, accuses Ophelia of concocting some sort of “threat narrative”, and paints himself as her victim…instead of just saying, “Of course, I won’t approach you if you don’t want to talk to me.”

Then he allows a picture (that I talked about here) to remain on his facebook wall: http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/and-kick-and-grope-and-pull-and-spin-tw-sexualized-violence/

The picture shows a woman getting kicked in the groin (an allusion to the “cunt punt” joke – yes, people there is “a” cunt punt joke), and the man is instructed to “Claw her breast. Smash, twist, and pull”.

Instead of talking how inappropriate the image is – they talk about how the image is going to annoy Ophelia – hardy har har!!!

Rebecca Watson points out that such an image was placed on Justin Vacula’s wall with a reference to Ophelia on her twitter. She provides an unaltered screen shot.

Rebecca Watson is called a liar because she said that Justin Vacula had posted the image within the text of her tweet – when it was actually posted by someone else onto his own facebook wall. How DARE anyone judge HIM for something someone else did?!

There is NOT PARITY HERE.

When someone says: Don’t approach me.

YOU SAY: Okay, I won’t.

When someone puts a picture of a woman being brutalized in a sexual way on your public facebook wall; and make a joke about a fellow skeptic in relation to that picture.

YOU SAY: That’s awful. Don’t put crap like that on my facebook wall.

Those TWO incidents alone are enough for me, personally, to not particularly want to be around Justin Vacula. I interacted with him about those issues on his facebook. Even when prompted to do so – he didn’t simply say he was not going to approach Ophelia and didn’t express distaste for the picture. I found out myself – firsthand – why he was a controversial figure.

His association with AVfM is just icing on the cake of that understanding.

I am NOT asserting that he is a dangerous person. I hear that he kept a low profile at the conference. I am saying what I am saying, and nothing else.

I am reporting information to those reading this – who may not understand the context – information that is not at all in dispute.

This is JUST a snapshot of one situation that I have first-hand knowledge of.

There is a reason she doesn’t want to “dialog” with him; she is under no fricking obligation to “dialog” with anyone, especially those who do not treat her personal space or sense of personal safety with anything but entitlement and contempt.

362 M. A. Melby June 10, 2013 at 6:47 am

“I put together a series of comments on Greta Christina’s blog to refute that false rumour once and for all. Thankfully, it worked, and they haven’t tried to resurrect it.”

Really, you provided information about a situation and you were allowed to comment; and the issue was dropped once the information was provided?

Ya don’t say.

And yeah, I KNOW the narrative you are selling: That there is a small group of crazy feminazi ideologs and their pet manginas ruining “good men and women” just because they can.

And of course, by “ruining” you mean – criticizing and disagreeing with and having enough of a POINT that other people agree with that criticism?

Or – just having a bit of a dust up – and the person involved forever being used as a PROP by y’all – even when the conflict has been resolved or confined to a particular issue in which there remains a disagreement.

This is how it might look if men were the target instead of women, but people were acting the same way:

http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/can-men-fully-participate-in-the-atheist-movement/

I do not envy Mr. Nugent one bit, I don’t like it when I have to deal with it either.

363 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 7:04 am

At Thaumas “Why is it the case that you spend time complaining about AI, when you could be off starting or joining a better group?” … Firstly I spend time commenting on the blog, for the same reason other do. As for AI, think AI is a badly run organisation, I don’t think cpmmenting on the main atheist body in Ireland, who’s leader is heading this campaign, is really out of place or merits special notice by you.

I did answer your question already, even though it did sound rhetorical so didn’t need an answer, also you extremely ill written comments that are as subtle as a brick and as useful as a 5th wheel, don’t really merit a serious response. All you comments are dripping with an obnoxious tone. Learn to read, not just mouth off.

Look, I don’t want to drop the actual subject, I want to get back to it. Not your self indulgent love of your own, falsely perceived, cleverness and logic. Which are not attributes that don’t jump to mind reading you posts.

Now, if you want to talk rather than verbally masterbate, fine. If not, if you want to spin an endless pseudo intellectual monologue… stay away fro me. Why would I and have I, humoured you, is the real question.

Do you have any idea how you come across? Not in a way likely to help you make any point.

364 Ian Brandon Anderson June 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

@315:

> Who is “Christian Chandler”? Never heard of him or her. Sounds like an anonymous troll to me.

That is a _very_ telling name.

Christian Chandler is a favourite victim of Anonymous. His life has been made a misery for years by trolls from the various chans and from Encyclopaedia Dramatica. He has been very thoroughly trolled in every way imaginable. There is a large wiki dedicated to chronicling the various sagas of this trolling over the years, and recording for posterity all the personal information about Chris’s home life which the trolls have obtained (that being pretty much all of it – I doubt anyone in the history of trolling has ever been quite so thoroughly doxxed as he.)

In the last couple of years Chris’s output has dramatically reduced. He no longer responds to trolling in the same entertaining way. There have been no Youtube videos from him in a long time, no new Sonichu comics. The trolls are starved of lulz; Chris-chan is no longer really a going concern except for a few die-hards. If he’s mentioned around the chans nowadays, it’s only as a fond memory of long ago.

Chris stopped feeding the trolls, so now the trolls are hungry. They want a new drama. They want somebody who is easily provoked, somebody whose buttons are well known and readily pushed, somebody who will produce a great deal of entertainment as a result.

So, it’s very telling that a troll might use the name of Christian Chandler in making such a provocation. It tells us what the troll hopes to achieve by doing so. That troll hopes to find the new Chris-chan.

365 Pogsurf June 10, 2013 at 7:57 am

Thank you for providing an example of pure unfounded speculation Ian.

366 Ian Brandon Anderson June 10, 2013 at 8:26 am

Quite right, quite right. Reasonable criticism there. It’s possible that this wasn’t a troll of the 4chan variety, well aware of troll culture and the great significance of Christian Chandler therein, and seeking to obtain lulz by provoking a reaction in the same way as trolls did to Chris-chan for all those years.

Perhaps it was just someone else who happened to have the same name, and who happened to behave in just the same way as a trollish Anon. That’s possible too.

367 Steersman June 10, 2013 at 9:06 am

Ian Brandon Anderson said (#358):

Perhaps it was just someone else who happened to have the same name, and who happened to behave in just the same way as a trollish Anon. That’s possible too.

While your previous comment may have had, as Pogsurf suggested, an element of speculation about it, I don’t see that it was entirely “unfounded”. Assessing such probabilities is a rather difficult task but offhand it seems that the probability of that being an entirely random “Christian Chandler” is substantially less than the probability of it being someone who was well aware of that history you described. I think we should just ask ourselves how many real “Christian Chandlers” there might be versus how many trolls might know of that history.

But the “evidence” for a troll is, I think, further increased on considering the content of their comments which look decidedly “trollish” to me.

368 JackSkeptic June 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

Ian you made a good point, often overlooked, here:

(355)
‘….. so now the trolls are hungry. They want a new drama. They want somebody who is easily provoked, somebody whose buttons are well known and readily pushed, somebody who will produce a great deal of entertainment as a result……’

Now it is obvious this sort of trolling goes on all the time. The Slympit had a few nasty attacks of it, even one which Nugent picked up and and made a blog about. The timing could not have been more fortuitous. However I suspect that troll could not believe his luck that anyone would see it other than as simply a troll attack which should be ignored.

To be fair Michael wrote his blog to address how we discuss such things but in doing so fed the troll enough food to last a life time. It should have been ignored but instead it caused personal stress to the person involved as well as a lot of heated discussion which should never have been necessary and actually set back the discussions we had had so far (which was the trolls intent of course)

What galls me is the fact some from FtB will know this. Yet they are happy to assume the worst and credit it to ‘Slympitters’ when it suits them. It is a largely open and unmoderated forum and it happens.

Conversely, as many at FtB heavily moderate their blogs they do not have this issue. So there is a major imbalance which is exploited by trolls and by some at FtB to attack decent people.

When I see people listing all the horrible and hateful messages they receive I either see nothing of the sort of there is no evidence whatsoever it comes from our community or is even an issue reflecting the behaviour of society as a whole. The world has horrible people. Not news is it?

Michael’s call to give the benefit of the doubt to people and assume good faith is being routinely ignored and that is one of the core issues we have. It is against skeptisim and reason and attacks the foundations of what made the atheist movement so effective.

Personally I do not give a stuff what someone’s beliefs are but I do care about how people try and force those beliefs on others by their behaviour. I take strong exception to the false narratives and call out culture. It is not what this movement is about. We leave that sort of behaviour to the religious extremists and peddlers of woo.

369 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:08 am

the terms trolls and haters are ones that are more often used to dismiss another’s opinion and have an excuse to do that… and! feel like you have “won”. I can’t remember the last time I heard them used in refernce to actual trolls and haters.

Recently a fmanist “friend” of mine posted a status roughly “isn’t it awful when your favourite porn is take from the site you like” I responded “what one was it” she said that bit was private and she wasn’t going to tell me. I slagged her off for broadcasting this and then gettin all coy… she then went gender mad, saying, ” it’s not strange for women t watch porn” I never so much as implied it was. And, what would I say if a man has made the post. I responded much the same except maybe it can be more contrived coming from a woman. She translated this into me saying it was worse for a woman. On another post she told her friends that I had called her a femanist for watching porn.

The same day, another friend posted an empowering women type clip, it was quite good. But same man hater, had written that she couldn’t watch it on youtube(just Facebook) because she could imagine all the nasty put down men would write, she hadn’t checked this but was happy to say it. I checked there were no unpleasant male comments at all. Then she went on to bsj men even worse saying why do men always have to whinge about these videos, the irony/hypocrisy was lost on her. Again, no nasty male comments, not even one vaguely nasty one anywhere near the video. Then Were both told to stop arguing! Nothing was said about the rampant sexism from a moronic, blind, man hating feminist.. funnily I think she is actually a lesbian, not sure if she is a single mother. That is fine, but the person who’s page it was, saying she wanted to open a discussion and fight chauvinism but was fine with extreme sexism towards men, which was based on nothing, she wouldn’t critisize her so lumped us together, in order to open a discussion she had to close it down… at least when it pointed out someone being a nasty, sexisist wagon.

THis is what I have seen of feminism more often than not. This and worse. the idea of these feminists needing to be championed is perverse. It’s like saying we must stop people standing up to or criticising sexist women, while pretending they don’t exist!

Read M Nugents article on “nasty push backs against feminists” the name gives a lot away “push back” means the nasty comments are in response to something. M Nugent also gives examples but then disclaims them as possibly not being examples, I think he actually says some of them are not! so why put them in? Because he couldn’t. or wouldn’t, make the effort to get examples. If it takes that much effort to get example of someone being rude, troll like or abusive online, there is no issue. The web and it’s forums are constantly full of personal attacks, rants and tirades… and he gave examples that were not examples and even if they were they were out of context so completely useless when discussing a response type!

Leave the feminists do their own thing. WE should support equality from our own ethic, not feminist sexists, not beyond personal support from individuals. A linking of secularism, atheism and feminism is a not something that follows. Feminism does not support gender equality, it supports women getting equality in the areas they want. They want equality for them, in the areas they want it. That as you can see, is not equality. You can’t get equality just looking at one side of the scales.
Q.E.D

370 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

THank goodness other people can see through M Nugent and this scam; http://atheiststoday.com/blogs/reapercussions/?p=59

371 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:15 am

from atheists today ; It is about the Atheist Ireland Forum Moderating Policy. It seems that there were several…actually make that numerous posts in that forum which didn’t meet the social justice standards Michael had set for others. A reader by the name Skepsheik had taken the time to point this out along with many examples.

372 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 10:41 am

unbelievable! “And just to underscore the above points of Michael Nugent’s permission/approval seeking behaviour, here’s a screencap of him checking in with his masters after doing a hatchet job on WoollyBumblebee –

http://i.imgur.com/mpYI9.png

373 Pogsurf June 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm

People often have different perspectives Daniel. I read in the linked image that Michael was advising four interested parties that a hate-monger was admitting culpability. This is the only way we can all move forward, by people taking responsibility for their own actions.

Have you got anything you would like to confess? I will if you will.

374 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Well that is only possible if you see it in a vacuum Pogsurf. You don’t know who the four interested parties are do you? They are all militant feminists, exactly the sort of people who invented this problem, who, you could say, are the problem. If you see the whole picture you can get the relevance easily.

375 Pogsurf June 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm

There names are not particular familiar to me. I believe I’ve seen one or two on Twitter.

If they are militant feminsts I would expect they all carry guns and are quite dangerous. I should stay away from them; don’t provoke them unnecessarily. People who invent problems probably have nothing better to do with their time. I’m starting to see the wider picture now and my views are definately changing.

376 Submariner June 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Michael Nugent @242:

“It’s not enough, but it is a central element of it. In law, an assault is typically an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. It becomes battery if it is carried through into actual harmful or offensive contact.”

While I am unsure of Irish law on this matter, in the USA (where many of these bloggers reside) there is also a “reasonable person” standard.

Here is a definition (using sexual harassment as it’s basis but the point is valid for other forms of “harassment”):

“A standard for determining whether conduct can be considered sexual harassment. Conduct and behavior may not be considered harassment if a reasonable person would not find the actions offensive. ”

Many of the items on Ms. Watson’s “page-o-hate” would seem to me to fail this test, as would a number of the claimed “harassment” posts from other bloggers who I won’t name.

377 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

SisterChromatid

A hermit– WHO did those things?

At least some of it, the photoshops and fat remarks certainly, from people active on the slymepit.

– certainly not all (or any?) of the people that have been labeled “misogynists” by PZ Myers et. al

Would you agree that at least some of that behaviour might be justifiably labeled as misogynistic?

In fact, I bet all of the people you have made into enemies would be against that sort of treatment of others.

Have I made enemies? The people I’m talking about are the ones who create that kind of abusive material, or applaud or make excuses for it.

Frankly, if I’m making enemies of the kind of people who think that fat jokes, rape jokes and sexualized insults are an appropriate form of criticism I’m ok with that…

But of course, my purpose there was not to point fingers at anyone; I was curious about why Thaumas is so animated and driven to speak out against what he perceives as the awful treatment of Stephanie McGraw (even though she herself has apparently moved on) while he on the other hand goes to such great lengths to dismiss and minimize and make excuses for the much worse treatment being handed out to others.

Why the double standard?

378 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm

A relatively non accusational way of looking at why to have nothing to do with the feminist movement is how it effects equity if they are sided with.

Feminists represent women’s interests in gender equality. There are two genders involved in this social issue. Men suffer parallel inequality to women’s. In different areas and to differing degrees. For this to be incorrect one would have to say, men don’t lose out in any area of society at all or to a degree that even remotely comes close to what women suffer in this regard.

So, in a two sided issue, if atheist, secular etc. groups pick this side, they are alienating the other. Secularism in society has a great ability to be balanced. It has no religious interest group having over riding authority or undue authority or influence. This would apply to groups that have issues too. It should anyway to be true to a secular mentality.

This can be applied exactly why as not to take on a male group, where there is a two sided issue. All topics should be discussed without a bias through an alliance with any group.

Feminism is not about gender equality. it fights for women’s rights, as it should. But that is it looking out for it’s group, not equality. Even if you disagree with that, many many people feel this way. So effectively, at beast that point could be arguable. Arguable is about debate, it is not set as the correct standard.

So, the effect is the same except worse in that case. As we have to close discussion on something as being arguable to justify supporting one side. If we accept it is arguable, we have to say we give proportional importance to both views. Taking on a public and semi formal alliance of the skepchick, A+ etc. makes that impossible.

This does not mean, not talking about women’s rights. It means talking about them in the broader, and more likely to get a clear view, gender equality framework.

This might be a good example. There is a problem with women being underrepresented in jobs outside the home. Men largely being the main breadwinner with women managing the family matters and the vital job of caring for our children.

Can this be resolved by just looking at it as a woman’s issue. No. We tried that and it is still an issue. Largely dictated by the simple biological fact women have our babies.

There are a fixed amount of jobs say. We want more women working and gaining high places in the world. For this to work there have to be less men. It is not an exact science, but it stands on it’s own legs I think.

So can we get more women to this life without changing mens roles? No. For equality in the workplace women will have to give up dominance of family life and child rearing. The stigma and lack of acceptance of a man being a “house husband” is massive. Far more than that of a women who stays at home or goes to work. She however feels it in both areas. Home and work.

For this to work the obvious thing would be to remove the hampering effect of having a baby has on a woman’s career. Maternity leave. This could be solved by making parental leave even between father and mother. and non transferable, except in special circumstances. But no one wants to admit that having an employee leave for an extended period of time is a legitimate, not sexist, reason to be reluctant to hire a recently married woman who is likely to be starting a family.

Also, we have to make it acceptable and admirable for a father to do the main body of family and child related tasks. It is not alone an issue of women have to stay at home and men get to go to work, but, women get to stay at home and men have to go to work.

This is why atheist and secular movements should stay impartial. To not means closing our eyes to the fact that this is a two sided issue. Not all issues are in the same mutually dependant way as this one.

Support what is right for equality, not a general movement that is one side.

379 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

anyway, if something is against the law there is no need to re state that in your terms! If you must just say, “law breaking is illegal here….. too”

380 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Double standard is the term this whole thing boils right down to E Hermit.

Be careful not to fall into their warped logic. You see it all the time, they censor and give whinging excuses, they behave like a cult. Like the recent debate Michael had with youth defence… they didn’t want there logic to be seen and discussed.

These people use prior restraint- taking some action against someone on the weak justification that they think you will say something nasty aka disagree. They always say “so your ok with rape jokes… ” …. when that was not what you said at all. I gave an example where one feminist lied and posted that I had called her a feminist for watching porn. I just asked her, in reply to her post, “which one” and she brought gender into it and tried to make out I did!

Being for free speech or slow to use harsh moderation or thinking open dialog is better tan closed dialog, does not mean you support rape jokes, rape or are a bigot. That would be like me saying if you block a wantonly abusive person you hate free speech.

We are not talking about blocking wanton abuse here though. Despite what some would have you believe.

381 Sally Strange (@SallyStrange) June 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I just wanted to point out that, while I am a regular reader of Butterflies and Wheels, I was unaware of Skep Tickle’s actual last name until I read Dave Allen’s comment here. So his concerns about her anonymity come off a bit disingenuous to me. As does the outrage about Ophelia’s alleged doxxing. And it’s not like I didn’t read the posts Ophelia did about the whole situation. I was aware that one could find such information if one searched, but I had no interest in finding out Skep Tickle’s real name, and preferred not to know… unfortunately, Mr. Allen took that choice away from me, and from anyone else who reads this comment thread. Not well done.

382 SisterChromatid June 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

A hermit said

Frankly, if I’m making enemies of the kind of people who think that fat jokes, rape jokes and sexualized insults are an appropriate form of criticism I’m ok with that…

So when did Ron Lindsey make fat jokes, rapes jokes and sexualized insults? Dawkins? Blackford? Shermer? Renee Hendricks? Justin Vacula? What about all those other skeptics labeled “misogynist” by the Watson-Myers alliance? Clearly they’ve made YOU imagine that they are all part of the same “bad guys” and so you continue to paint them with the same brush here. You have lost your ability to discriminate between actual misogyny and imaginary misogyny as has many of those you associate with. That’s hardly skeptical you!

As for Steph McGraw, I don’t know who she is, but if she has been accused of “misogyny” as has been done to many other women– Abbie Smith, Paula Kirby, Skep Tickle, Sara Mayhew, Harriet Hall, etc.– then I am sure she wants nothing to do your “brand” of feminism– nor do I. You are terrifically careless with your labeling and have little concern about whose life you destroy in the process. The only woman/feminists you care about are the ones who share your enemy list. The only thing you’ve done for woman is make them see “misogyny” where it does not exist! I think most feminists in the world have bigger problems than anonymous internet meanies. You have divided your allies in skepticism because of your eagerness to ferret out misogyny just as shamelessly as McCarthy ferreted out purported communists. But the ones you’ve ferreted out, aren’t the people making purported rape threats and such! The Watson-Myers attempt to gain power by smearing others has gone way, way too far. And now you’ve backed Mick into the “your with us or you’re against us” corner, and we all know how this is likely to turn out.

383 SisterChromatid June 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm

By the way– lots of hate comes out of freethought blogs– thing like “fuckface” “die in a fire” “go fuck yourself” “shove a porcupine up your ass” “shithead”– and look at the commentary about Mick on Ophelia’s blog.

Shall the rest of the skeptic community think you and everyone else who posts at FTB are represented by these people and that you agree with them? Isn’t this what you (A. hermit) are doing in regards to the slymepit– via orders from on high from PZ? There’s this general smear where everyone who doesn’t do feminism the way FTB does feminism is labeled a “misogynyist” and /or smeared with PZ;s opinion of the slymepit and this somehow is tied to purported “rape threats” that happened somewhere on the internet. And then PZ declares a shunning and everyone must shun whom he shuns or be shunned himself– amirite?

As I recall, Ed Brayton demanded the shunning of Paula Kirby on SkepChick. I think it’s time the skeptic community start shunning those who call for the shunning of others. This McCarthyistic brand of feminism does not help women– nor anyone else. It makes people feel good for knocking down straw feminists– and real peoples careers are damaged in the process.

384 Daniel June 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm

You know just writing my last long post on gender equality has got me pretty excited. “It is not alone enough to say the issue of women have to stay at home and men get to go to work, but, women get to stay at home and men have to go to work.”

Why can’t people see that these two things are solidly linked to the degree one can not happen without the other, and of course equalizing parental leave between both parents. Making the male equally as likely as the female to be off work.

It would also spread the impact on businesses and make them ore productive.. and a host of other benifits to both men and women. AS for the children, imagine growing up in an environment of such balance and equality.

It would not just do wonders for women’s welfare, or the dads, the kids or the businesses, but for society as a whole. I could see this brining a new age to the world in a few short generation, think about how it would obliterate imposed gender perceptions and roles. WE could all be men and women and little girls and little boys and know who we were was not superimposed on us. Think of that family. What do you think?

Are there any gender equality movements? non partisan, just interested in equality? Maybe that could be something we secular atheists could start up. We are almost like a neutral country being a mediator. Being non biased or partisan ourselves is a vital part of that.

Presently we have men looking for father’s rights, which in Ireland is far more stark and obvious than wage discrepancies and women terrified about something happening when they are pregnant . Those two issue fall outside men and women’s movements, they effect almost all people and are legal and medical ones.

Sorry, got of track there. We have men’s groups and women’s groups… I have seen no equality group. There probably are some, but not making much impact as there can be many personal pain in the lives of people at the fore of these groups. Funnily more alike than unalike and if they could work together in a friendly spirit of getting the best for all. Seeing that they’re issue were two sides of the one coin.

Now that! could be an area of great use to feminists and men’s rights activists alike. If we could just get the ball rolling and get the walls down for a constructive partnership, that woud be something amazing. The chances of all parties being happy would dramatically increase if the perceived “enemy” became an allie and they found the women wanted to be CEO’s and the men wanted more time at home with the children.

What do you think Michael?

385 A Hermit June 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

SisterChromatid

So when did Ron Lindsey make fat jokes, rapes jokes and sexualized insults? Dawkins? Blackford? Shermer? Renee Hendricks? Justin Vacula? What about all those other skeptics labeled “misogynist” by the Watson-Myers alliance? Clearly they’ve made YOU imagine that they are all part of the same “bad guys” and so you continue to paint them with the same brush here. You have lost your ability to discriminate between actual misogyny and imaginary misogyny as has many of those you associate with.

I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth. You are attributing opinions to me which I have not expressed and do not hold. I am not lumping all of those people together or accusing any of them (with the possible exception of Vacula) of actually making fat jokes, rape jokes etc.

Some of them may have to varying degrees made excuses for the people doing all of that or have minimized the effect of those things and I object to that too, but I’m not painting them with the same brush.

As for Steph McGraw, I don’t know who she is, but if she has been accused of “misogyny” as has been done to many other women– Abbie Smith, Paula Kirby, Skep Tickle, Sara Mayhew, Harriet Hall, etc.– then I am sure she wants nothing to do your “brand” of feminism– nor do I.

I see Thaumas and others using her name and the factt hat Rebecca watson once disagreed with her publicly (about two years ago) to justify their vendettas against certain people, but I’ve never seen Ms McGraw herself complaining about any of them…

If you don’t even know who she is then maybe you shouldn’t presume to speak for her either…

You are terrifically careless with your labeling …

Who did I label unfairly? Be specific. Try dealing with what I’ve actually said instead of what you imagine I (or others) have said…

386 David Leech June 10, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I’m so looking forward to this event that if I wasn’t going to Turkey to support my brother and sisters in their struggle I would cross the Irish sea just to witness it. I so want to see how the middle class Americans tell the Irish about their harassment at the hand of those evil Internet atheist trolls and gasp people who disagree with them. Imagine the nightmares like horror of it all. How they have suffered for their blog posts. I’m sure the Irish audience will be full of sympathy after all the Irish atheists have had only to put up with child sexual and physical abuse, Magdalene laundries and so many other atrocities, all enabled by the governments acquiescence to Catholicism. It would be comedy gold to watch a load white middle class Americans telling an Irish audience about how they have suffered and are still suffering from all these bad wordz. Alas some of us have Islamists trying to take over their country and drag it back to the dark ages. I simply do not have the time to listen to Internet bloggers making it all about meeeee.

387 noclevername June 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Anyone who followed Watson’s attack of McGraw at the time knows that McGraw was horrified and distressed, as were many others who spoke up on her behalf. (I believe Abbie Smith was one of them, which started Myers’ feud with her, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong.) As far as I can tell, it was Watson’s attack that set off what has become The Rift. Not Watson’s ‘guys don’t do that’ video. Yes, there were objections to the video – a polite invitation and a polite acceptance of ‘no’ is what we want guys to do, not ‘don’t do’! But that makes all of us (including McGraw) misogynists, according to Watson et al.

The word misogynist has been so misused and diluted by now it really has no meaning within the atheist community anymore other than “disagrees with someone from Skepchick or FTB”. That’s sad, and a slap in the face to actual victims of misogyny around the world – some of whom were pointed out by Dawkins as a contrast to the problems experienced by the first-world privileged. This statement earned him the label of… wait for it… misogynist. Because as I said, misogyny is no longer about how you feel about women. It’s about who you disagree with.

I don’t agree that whether a victim speaks up or whether a victim has moved on determines whether what was done to her was wrong. Moving on from an assault is healthy. It doesn’t make what was done any less wrong.

388 JackSkeptic June 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm

@David Leech (374)

I popped back to make a similar post to yours but you said it a lot better than I could. We have serious issues to deal with all over the world. Despite all the amazing achievements the atheist community has done there is a very long way to go yet. Possibly hundreds of years of effort ahead of us.

I find the parochial, manufactured and politically motivated distractions not only distasteful but damaging to all that needs to be done to even start to address the real issues.

We have to be pluralistic and accepting of other peoples views and opinions if we are not to self implode in a fit of naval gazing and narcissistic outburts .

The only people who will benefit are those we are trying to fight against. The real enemy should never be within our own ranks. We all deserve batter than that and that is why I am fighting this. Not because of someone’s opinions but they way they try and shut down the voice of others.

I refuse to allow anyone to shut down my voice or the voice of anyone else. It did not work before and damned if it will work now.

389 SisterChromatid June 10, 2013 at 11:03 pm

A hermit said

Would you agree that at least some of that behaviour might be justifiably labeled as misogynistic?

Probably so, –but I’ve never seen anyone mentioned here involved in such– and yet YOU are very big at suggesting commentators here are in that same group. Can you point to anyone identified here whose level of misogyny even matches PZ’s Skepticon 3 talk. (I don’t think his sleazy come-on to his young host was necessarily misogynistic… but many would find it sexist… and if such a talk was given by Myer’s current enemies, that person would be shunned and shamed much worse than was done to DJ Grothe and Ron Lindsey, don’t you agree?)

390 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm

@M.A. Melby:
Sorry to abruptly discontinue the conversation, but my main laptop died yesterday, and my backup conked out this morning as well. As such, I currently have no means to continue our conversation in a productive fashion (I’m at the library right now :-) ). It’s too bad, too, because I felt we were beginning to have an actual conversation and I was very much looking forward to seeing where you’re coming from and hopefully finding some common ground with you of one sort or another (big or small is better than none :-) ). I wish you well, and when I can figure out a way to get back online on a regular basis, perhaps we’ll meet again and catch up from where we left off. Cheers!

391 Thaumas Themelios June 10, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Really, you provided information about a situation and you were allowed to comment; and the issue was dropped once the information was provided?

Sorry, just have to respond to this one bit. You need to see the thread for yourself. It’s really egregiously unskeptical. I had to maintain a very strict calm tone through most of it just to avoid being banned. See http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/17/update-clarification-correction-on-holy-fucking-shit/. I suggest reading the whole thread for full context, but if you’re just looking for my parts, they start at comment 10. Watch how the commentariat react.

392 A Hermit June 11, 2013 at 12:13 am

noclevername June 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Anyone who followed Watson’s attack of McGraw at the time knows that McGraw was horrified and distressed, as were many others who spoke up on her behalf.

I’m not interested in re-litigating a minor incident from two years ago. Whatever McGraw felt at the time there is no comparison between Watson’s one time public disagreement with her and the campaigns of harassment we’re discussing here. She’s not complaining about it, and no one is pursuing her on Twitter, making fake accounts in her name, creating whole forums to complain about her, making photshops to mock her personal appearance or trying to get her barred from speaking engagements.

So it’s disingenuous of Thaumos to appropriate her experience as a rational for anything we’re discussing here; especially if he’s using it as an excuse for excusing or ignoring the much worse behavior that has been directed at others.

393 Daniel June 11, 2013 at 12:25 am

well said A Hermit.

394 A Hermit June 11, 2013 at 12:32 am

SisterChromatid June 10, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Probably so, –but I’ve never seen anyone mentioned here involved in such– and yet YOU are very big at suggesting commentators here are in that same group.

I don’t believe I have actually; I have pointed out that some people here are minimizing, dismissing or ignoring that behaviour…

Can you point to anyone identified here whose level of misogyny even matches PZ’s Skepticon 3 talk.

Yes, there are a number of people here who can be found on the slymepit sharing a laugh at the sexist, degrading, personal insults thrown at certain bloggers and writers.

(I don’t think his sleazy come-on to his young host was necessarily misogynistic… but many would find it sexist… and if such a talk was given by Myer’s current enemies, that person would be shunned and shamed much worse than was done to DJ Grothe and Ron Lindsey, don’t you agree?)

No I don’t, because I don’t consider a little CONSENSUAL sexual banter to be misogynistic (and if you’re talking about the presentation I think you are that;s all it was); certainly not compared to telling someone they are too ugly to be raped, or repeatedly calling them “cunt” or “bitch”…

And all that;s happened to Grothe and Lindsey is that people have been publicly criticizing them.

395 SisterChromatid June 11, 2013 at 1:25 am

Whatever McGraw felt at the time there is no comparison between Watson’s one time public disagreement with her and the campaigns of harassment we’re discussing here.

I’m sure she’s glad to have you (a man) determine that for her.

So–WHO is telling people they are too ugly to be raped? WHO is doing the harassment? What exactly do you mean by harassment? Is it worse than the harassment inflicted on Ron Lindsey? Skep Tickle? Abbie Smith? DJ Grothe? Justin Vacula? Do people have to look for this harassment to find it? WHO are the evil-doers and what do they have to do with the growing list of people that FTB has labeled misogynists not to mention all the people you’ve attempted to tar here? What is the very worst thing the evil internet misogynyists have done and what do you think we should be doing about it? If we don’t do as you say, are we “misogynists” Are we next in your witch hunt?

No I don’t, because I don’t consider a little CONSENSUAL sexual banter to be misogynistic

Interesting– because I seem to remember you feeling very different in regards to Thunderfoot. It seems to me that you are keeping 2 sets of books.

Given what PZ, Benson, and Rebecca have dished out to others these past two years, it’s really hard for me to get upset when I hear that people are saying mean things on the internet about them. It’s getting increasingly hard for people to pay any attention to their constant screams of “misogyny!” I don’t think their little foray into McCarthyistic type feminism has benefited women or the secular community in any way. Moreover their big concerns seem to be concerns of the privileged as #376 noted. I wish America had better representatives at this coming conference.

396 Pitchguest June 11, 2013 at 1:27 am

#381 A Hermit

Because she was the victim. Of course it helps she didn’t treat it as a crutch or as a way to get victim points, but that’s another matter. I’m sure Watson wouldn’t understand. And case in point, you’re demonstrating it right now. “Campaigns of harassment.” Holding her accountable for her words on Twitter, is harassment. Ridiculing her using photoshop, that’s harassment. But the next bit beggars belief. “Whole forums” created to complain about her? Where are these forums? And “forums”, plural, so not just implying the Slymepit (which is what I assume you meant)? I don’t know about you, A Hermit, but that sounds pretty risible. You would need to bring sufficient data to back that up.

Furthermore, it’s interesting that you should bring up the last bit about attempting to get people barred from speaking engagements. Maybe you should ask Abbie Smith about that. Not to mention two others I can think off the top of my head, ThunderfOOt and Justin Vacula, the former of which had Ed Brayton and other FtBloggers conspire (from the backchannel chatter) to interfere with his paycheck, and this quaint little quote:

“I want to do whatever it takes to make sure that he is essentially drummed out of this movement, never invited to speak anywhere again and is forever a pariah.”

Finally, the latter was offered a volunteer position at a local atheist organisation but a campaign was started to remove him from that position, by Stephanie Zvan.

Was that justified, A Hermit? Was that fair?

397 Steersman June 11, 2013 at 1:58 am

Sally Strange said (#382):

… but I had no interest in finding out Skep Tickle’s real name, and preferred not to know… unfortunately, Mr. Allen took that choice away from me, and from anyone else who reads this comment thread. Not well done.

Well, I’m sure that “Skep tickle” would appreciate you being so solicitous about her anonymity, but I think you’re a little wide of the mark in targeting Dave Allen as the proximate cause of its demise, at least in general. More particularly, you might note that Oolon claimed in post #30 here, rather erroneously – and an error that he seems somewhat reluctant to correct, that “Maxwell Smart” did so on or about June 2nd. But, as I indicated in #116, it was in fact “TheBlackCat” who did so on May 29th on Pharyngula.

Not well done, indeed. I look forward to you expressing your opprobrium in that thread.

398 A Hermit June 11, 2013 at 2:25 am

–WHO is telling people they are too ugly to be raped?

What difference does it make who’s doing it? Should we object to it less if we don’t know who is sending the e-mails/tweets/anonymous blog comments?

What exactly do you mean by harassment?

The constant stream of personally insulting e-mails, tweets and blog comments directed at individuals.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/02/02/what-is-more-important-than-peace-nsfw/

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/more-documenting-the-harassment/

http://skepchick.org/page-o-hate/

Is it worse than the harassment inflicted on Ron Lindsey? Skep Tickle? Abbie Smith? DJ Grothe? Justin Vacula?

Yes. I don’t see fake titter accounts impersonating them or blogs and forums dedicated to attacking them and mocking them.

I do see people criticizing some of the things they’ve said, but that’s really not the same thing at all.

399 A Hermit June 11, 2013 at 2:27 am

Was that justified, A Hermit? Was that fair?

Yes some it was, for the same reason that objecting to putting a contributor to a racist website in a leadership position would be.

Some of us have standards…

400 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 3:30 am

“Some of us have standards…”

Don’t you feel smug.

You probably don’t know about the number of people who came to the Slymepit and stated “I’ve followed FTB for a while and was very worried about the Pit. Then I came her to see for myself, and it is nothing like what I expected. Glad to join!”

The Slymepit is neither racist, nor sexist, nor full of hatred. If it was, I wouldn’t be there. It’s full of lulz, though, so I’m there.

And, weirdly enough, it’s full of people who actually *care* about each others. I’m going through very difficult times, and the Pitters have given me nothing but friendship and support. I’m not aware of many A/S boards that do so on a regular basis. Pharyngula surely isn’t one of them (my being raped as a 11 year old was questioned there, nay, called a lie. Way to go, Pharyngula!)

401 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 3:34 am

I just wanted to point out that, while I am a regular reader of Butterflies and Wheels, I was unaware of Skep Tickle’s actual last name until I read Dave Allen’s comment here. So his concerns about her anonymity come off a bit disingenuous to me.

I believe Skep Tickle has auto-didoxxed herself now, so concerns about using her real name can be lifted.

402 SisterChromatid June 11, 2013 at 3:37 am

A hermit– there is plenty of offensive stuff linked– but it’s not from the people whom Myers etc. has try to shun, get fired, etc. That is the whole problem– you imagine your critics are the same people posting the vulgar commentary wherever it is being cut and pasted from– you seem unable to differentiate between the two. But anyone who so much as points this out… or dares to say a kind word about someone declared an enemy… or even someone who tries to broker peace or suggest you are going a little to far in your hunt for hidden misogyny– is considered to be on par with those anonymous internet trolls!

FTB/SkepChick jumped the shark for me when Ed Brayton posted this at SkepChick:

I’d honestly never heard of Paula Kirby before this, someone had to tell me who she was. But anyone who uses “feminazi” and “famistasi” in this manner has lost all credibility with me forever. She should be shunned by the atheist community for it.

Shunned? For pointing out what is becoming increasingly obvious to so many?– Let’s not forget Carrier’s “you’re with us or you’re against us speech”– is it any wonder so many have left freethought blogs? Why doesn’t this ring any “cult” bells with you?

Remember this is the group that tried to get DJ Grothe fired. And bad mouthed Harriet Hall because she wore a shirt saying that she wasn’t a skep “chick” (to many woman the term is demeaning and frivolous– but FTB thinks only their brand of feminism is acceptable.) And they think Lindsey should be fired (and that someone who caters to their whims should be hired instead?) Your standards seem to change based on whether someone buys into the party line or not.

403 S Mason June 11, 2013 at 5:26 am

SisterChrommatid

“So–WHO is telling people they are too ugly to be raped? WHO is doing the harassment? What exactly do you mean by harassment? Is it worse than the harassment inflicted on Ron Lindsey? Skep Tickle? Abbie Smith? DJ Grothe? Justin Vacula? Do people have to look for this harassment to find it? ”

You aren’t serious right? I wonder what you would call harassment, given that you have been told, and links have been provided to you showing you a small part of what OB receives. And she is not alone.

If you go to B&W you will find that OB regularly posts examples of the harassment she receives. If you continue to deny that she is being harassed it only speaks to your agenda.

I don’t know what Rob Lindsay has been on the receiving end of. I have not heard that he hast apologised – but then, if he is being receiving “jokes” about acid being thrown in his face, constant messages about being ugly, being kicked in the cunt, websites about him set up purely to harass, photo shopped obscenity with his face posted onto it, a stream of misrepresentation and lies about him, an unwelcome attempt to force him into a “dialogue” with the people who are as a minimum, shoulder to shoulder with the folks who are responsible for this stuff, then the apology would definitely be a lot less important than siding with him against the harassment.

There is a post above at 361 that discusses Justin Vacula explicitly. Do you reject the veracity of that post, believe it is irrelevant, or just ignore it?

404 S Mason June 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

Phil_Giordana_FCD

“The Slymepit is neither racist, nor sexist, nor full of hatred. ”

Well – it demonstrably tolerates all of those things. So “full of” – maybe not. But – those things are definitely there.

“It’s full of lulz, though, so I’m there. ”

Err….

“And, weirdly enough, it’s full of people who actually *care* about each others. ”

So is Freemasonry. So is the Tory party. That doesn’t mean that they stand up for those being harassed, object to the harassment and refuse to participate. Some may do. Definitively, some do not, and the board continue to tolerate some horrible stuff – as far as I am aware?

“I’m going through very difficult times”

Genuinely sorry to hear that.

“and the Pitters have given me nothing but friendship and support. ”

Which is great. But they are pretty vicious to those who call them out though, right? So not that different from any other tribe, group or gang then?

“I’m not aware of many A/S boards that do so on a regular basis. Pharyngula surely isn’t one of them (my being raped as a 11 year old was questioned there, nay, called a lie. Way to go, Pharyngula!)”

But Pharyngula isn’t set up to be a support group. I agree – it’s a pretty vicious place and I don’t post there any more: I too was pretty disappointed to discover that it is not a place to go to get support from likeminded sceptics. But it serves a very useful purpose – and I have a lot of time for PZ and his clear thinking.

405 Steersman June 11, 2013 at 5:44 am

M. A. Melby said (#335):

I’m pretty sure the irony is also lost on you, that you’ve been making blanket statements about FtB – but hey – availability heuristic for the win.

I expect you probably mean “categorical statements” (1): all X are Y; all fish swim; all slymepitters are harassers. Rather an iffy position to be taking when we’re talking of diverse populations.

But something we all tend to do, but which tends to cause any number of problems.

—-
1) “_http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/tittle/downloads/pdf/categorical-logic-supplement.pdf”;

406 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 6:03 am

S Mason:

I haven’t seen blatant racism or sexism at the Slymepit. Or at least, not as much as I have seen coming from some FTB/Skepckick/A+ bloggers and commenters. When there *is* blatant sexism or racism at the Pit, it is usually called out and denounced. Not always, but most of the time. Not so much on the aforementioned blogs.

I will not deny that the most regular commenters at the Pit have built some sort of a community, but it doesn’t prevent us from strongly disagreeing with each others on some points, and even stoop down to name-calling. Which is quite fun in the end. (hence my “full of lulz” comment). We can get quite creative.

Pitters are not vicious to those who call them out. They are vicious to those who spew bullshit. By all means, call us out all you want, but do it for good, evidenced reasons. And when I say “we”, I mean the offenders, not the forum dwellers as a whole.

“and I have a lot of time for PZ and his clear thinking.”

That might be your problem right there. “PZ” and “clear thinking” don’t go very well together, from my experience.

407 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 6:25 am

Thank you for your first hand witness testimony of silencing through rape culture at PZ Myers’ blog, Phil_Giordana_FCD at #400.

To speak out in an hostile environment is a brave thing to do. I have had recent communication with members of the International Atheist and Ethical Union (IAEU) on the subjects of inclusivity and silencing with respect to the award they made to Myers in 2011. Your voice adds to my case. I have made them aware of your testimony.

408 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 6:59 am

Comment awaiting moderation. Wake up Michael! :)

409 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 7:23 am

I will repost my comment with * replacing what might be offensive to some:

Pogsurf:

The comments on that particular thread don’t exist anymore (as far as I know, and I can’t even remember which post it was. Sci Blogs anyway). But the full story goes like this:

I was in a discussion about the use of certain words like “c**t” or “b**ch”, and the way it applies in different countries (ie: not US-centric). I was called a fuckwit and other assimilated nicknames. One commenter mentioned that she was called a “c**t” and a “b**ch” by her rapist, to which I pointed out that I was told to “shut the f*ck up, you little f*cker” by mine. Then some other commenter called me a liar about my rape(s) being real.

To be fair to said commenter, they later recanted and apologized, after a big portion of the comentariat told them to. Myers just banned me. And labelled me a MRA, for some reason.

410 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

Tried to replace some letters with “*”, didn’t work. Still caught in moderation hell.

411 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 7:30 am

Patience Phil, he’s allowed a quick nap.

412 Steersman June 11, 2013 at 8:03 am

A Hermit said (#316):

Steersman, there are plenty of examples of women getting rape threats …

The problem with the slymepit is that so many of you dismiss all of it as “just joking” or “just trolls” or pretend that it’s all made up…there’s a few examples here (1)

I see those examples are from Michael’s “Examples of nasty pushback” thread. While I haven’t yet searched for and found all of the specific posts that those comments come from in the Slymepit, the several that I did find – items 2 (2) and 4 (3) in the list – suggest that one might want to consider their context, and probably those of the other items, before rendering a verdict. While they both incorporate some pointed if rather tame profanity, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that they were substantially worse than that found on Pharyngula (4), or Skepchick (5).

However that is hardly to excuse any of it – pot and kettle both looking rather blackish, but it seems to me that if you’re serious about wanting to curtail or limit the former cases then you might want to ask yourself how it is a “of a piece” with the latter ones. If “community standards” dictate that such profanity is acceptable if not de rigeur in some places then it seems more appropriate to address the root causes – whatever they might be – rather than their manifestations in any given locale.

As for the rape threats, I wonder whether you think that anyone in the Pit actually condones those, how credible you think they are, and what it is that you think can be done about them.

But you also said (#399) on a related question:

What exactly do you mean by harassment?

The constant stream of personally insulting e-mails, tweets and blog comments directed at individuals.

Even assuming for the moment that we could all agree on what percentage of those constitute actual harassment and bullying, and what percentage constitutes valid criticisms or expressions of opprobrium – from all sources including Pharyngula and Skepchick as I expect many would readily agree that many of the comments thereon could easily be construed as harassment and bullying – I again wonder what it is that you think could be done to rectify the situation. Seems to me that for any given problem – medical, social, psychological, engineering – the first step in solving it is to understand its causes, and the second step is to propose a solution that nullifies or obviates those causes. And I can’t see that we’ve progressed much past the point of agreeing that, yes, harassment is a *bad* thing. Maybe because we all have a tendency to think that it’s all the other guy’s fault ….

—-
1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/comment-page-2/#comments”;
2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=43159#p43159”;
3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=40847#p40847”;
4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2”;
5) “_http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078”;

413 Steersman June 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

Thaumas Themelios said (#312):

Come on, skeptics, get off your asses and do your homework.

Or stop making ridiculous accusations.

Indeed. Although one might reasonably argue that many self-styled skeptics really don’t have much claim to the term.

However, while I’m generally sympathetic to and supportive of your general argument, I think you might be engaging in some special pleading (1) of your own – kind of an occupational hazard of being human, I think. And while I’m quite prepared to throw stones at those who, like Matt Penfold (#39), insist on tarring everyone in the Pit with the same odious and highly questionable brush, I think you might be conveniently eliding the fact that some on “our” side have engaged in some activities that might reasonably be construed as harassment. And while I note you’ve referenced that “Documenting the harassment” page of Ophelia’s, I think you’ve also engaged in a bit of cherry-picking and in exhibiting some bias in selecting your cases from it.

For instance, for starters and as a point of reference, consider this definition of harassment from Wikipedia (2):

Harassment covers a wide range of behaviours of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive. In the legal sense, it is intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing.

Note in particular the “characteristically repetitive” and “intended to disturb or upset”. Now if, as some have argued, that “characteristically repetitive” is in aid of or is addressing some substantive issue or principle, particularly those that are repetitively brought to the fore, then one might reasonably respond to charges of harassment with something like “tough titties”. But if there is no redeeming elements in the comments, no substantive issues being addressed, then one might reasonably argue that such comments are little more than ones maliciously “intended to disturb or upset”. And I think you would be hard pressed to argue that that is not the case with more than a few comments in that thread of Benson’s, notably several from Mykeru, Chandler, and, arguably, more than a few others there including some of Sarah Mayhew’s.

However, where I very much object to the “narrative” of harassment that Ophelia and others are peddling is where there is obviously virtually no justification for the claims. For instance, consider this bit (3) which was a reference to the photoshop by Reap Paden of the “ususal suspects” holding up placards “saying” that “we ‘heart’ Justin (Vacula)”:

This photoshop (image) …. This is a bully-trope that I particularly detest – this business of relentlessly harassing people, then when the people say stop harassing me, pretending the harassed people are actually nursing a secret love for the harasser.

Now assuming her second “this” was a reference to said photoshop, I would say that that is a very questionable inference, that it was a case of bullying. I would say that it was nothing of the sort, and most definitely not any suggestion of a “secret love”. It was some very pointed ridicule of the fact that that bunch of entirely charming individuals – or at least a significant number of them and their supporters – had gotten their panties in a serious twist over the prospect of Justin showing up at that Women in Secularism conference, many of whom had made some rather pointed suggestions about getting CFI to ban (4) Justin from the conference. More specifically, consider this exchange of tweets (5) which included one from Stephanie Zvan:

Melody Hensley @MelodyHensley@SpokesGay @ingdamnit @szvan Have to follow policies or we are hypocrites. If everyone would just do what they feel they need to do.

Official SpokesGay @SpokesGay@MelodyHensley @ingdamnit @szvan Oh, everyone will.
—-
Stephanie Zvan @szvan@SpokesGay @MelodyHensley @ingdamnit Sooner would be better.

As if to say, I don’t really want you to kill Thomas Becket (6), but “if everyone would just do what they feel they need to do” – and “sooner would be better” …. Stochastic terrorism (7), indeed.

However, I think that that case is only one of many in that post where Ophelia seriously misjudges the nature of the criticisms directed at her, and seriously misconstrues many of those as harassment.

But I think this whole contretemps, notably your special pleading, and Benson’s misconstruals and misapprehensions illustrates the fact that we all have a tendency to “my country, race, sex, party, or self: right or wrong”. Which tends to be more than just a little problematic.

—-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/more-documenting-the-harassment/”;
4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/04/29/i-did-what-now-the-lie-machine-in-action/”;
5) “_http://storify.com/D4M10N/why-exclude-vacula-from-wiscfi”;
6) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Becket#Assassination”;
7) “_http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/01/10/934890/-Stochastic-Terrorism-160-Triggering-the-shooters”;

414 SisterChromatid June 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

Let me sum up post 361 so I can assess the whole misogyny claim directed at Justin. Ophelia had been complaining about Justin being at the WISC2 which Justin took as her trying to whip up prejudice against him. She told him to stay away from her (which he apparently did.) Someone posts a cartoon type picture on his facebook wall entitled “How to Disable a Woman” which some could consider misogynistic and others might consider on par with a graphic showing “How to Disable a Man” illustrated by a man being kicked in the testicles. I agree with M.A. Melby that the image shown would not disable a woman and was intended more to shock/mock– moreover it makes me cringe. That said, I don’t think it’s any more sexist than PZ’s posting of Michele Bachmann and the corndog which also made me cringe. People aren’t perfect and not everyone interprets feminism/sexism/misogyny the same way. Also people can learn.

Ophelia and pals feel like Vacula should have immediately removed the picture from his wall and shamed the sender but, instead he commented on how it would bother Ophelia. Rebecca posts the picture on her twitter (making sure that Ophelia sees it) and indicates that Justin posted it when he did not. He (or someone) called Rebecca a liar because she made it sound like Justin was posting the image on his facebook… and, thus, purposefully harassing Ophelia… even though, someone else posted that particular picture on his facebook wall and he merely commented on how it would bother Ophelia. She wasn’t really lying– because she thought he HAD posted it, and didn’t feel obligated to apologize for this error despite the outrage it inspired.

Ophelia has made it clear that she doesn’t want to talk to Justin– and I agree that she has that right. But she still feels it’s fair to talk about him which she also has the right to do. And to document and comment upon his communications elsewhere– even though she won’t allow him to defend himself on her blog or to correct misinformation like that which Rebecca tweeted. To me, it looks like Ophelia wants the right to say prejudicial things about Justin while calling any of his comments about her “harassment”, but, again, these things are interpretive. I agree that there are things said about Ophelia that are definitely misogynistic– however, these have not been said by Justin and it’s wrong to whip up hatred towards him with the implication that it has. Justin’s main “harassment” of Ophelia involves a picture someone else posted on his facebook correct?

There is really not a lot we can do about the offensive use of free speech by others, just as there is not much Catholics can do if they find PZ’s impaling of a communion wafer to be an offensive exercise of his free speech rights. Free speech is not just for those who agree with you; you have the option of ignoring it.

415 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 9:08 am

One more try, because it’s past ten in Ireland already (note, I guess Michael must be quite busy right now. No attacks on him):

Pogsurf:

The comments on that particular thread don’t exist anymore (as far as I know, and I can’t even remember which post it was. Sci Blogs anyway). But the full story goes like this:

I was in a discussion about the use of certain words like “c***” or “b****”, and the way it applies in different countries (ie: not US-centric). I was called a fuckwit and other assimilated nicknames. One commenter mentioned that she was called a “c***” and a “b****” by her rapist, to which I pointed out that I was told to “shut the f*** up, you little f***er” by mine. Then some other commenter called me a “liar” about my rape(s) being real.

To be fair to said commenter, they later recanted and apologized, after a big portion of the comentariat told them to. Myers just banned me. And labelled me a MRA, for some reason.

If this one doesn’t get through, I’ll just give up. Not worth it.

416 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Fuck it, no links, all “bad werdz” censored and it’s still in moderation.

Back to the Pit with me, at least there are no such problems there.

417 John Morales June 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

[meta + OT]

Phil:

Back to the Pit with me, at least there are no such problems there.

<snicker>

418 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 9:38 am

“”

Why, John?

419 John Morales June 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

Not least because of your evident feeling of entitlement, Phil. :)

420 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

John, you’re being obtuse. (not sure if the word is the right one, but I’m not a native English speaker).

What “evident feeling of entitlement” would that be?

421 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

To be clear: yes, I am entitled to post on Michael’s blog, where I haven’t been baned (yet). Most of my comments pass through, but because of some weird moderation settings, some of my posts don’t pass.

I had that problem a while ago, where Michael had to make a post about my comment (and, ironically, Myers’ comment which was blocked as well) because there seems to be a glitch on this site’s mod operations.

So, yeah, let’s make it an “evident feeling of entitlement”.

422 Dave Allen June 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

Sally Strange – a post is held in moderation.

Hoepfully it will get through. If not boils down to:

As far as I can tell “E”– after some consideration about what was happening to her – decided to reveal herself – first name and last – on Heathen Hub.

I did try to explain this earlier – so perhaps you could either:

a) explain to me how it is problematic to cite someone’s name AFTER they have gone public.
b) drop the accusations of disingenuousness you aimed at me.

423 Michael Nugent June 11, 2013 at 11:09 am

I’m still adjusting to the new moderation guidelines, and like everything I will be reviewing it to see what impact it has on the conversations here.

Phil, your comment was put in moderation because it used the word liar. Having seen it, the context is fine, so it is now published.

Everyone else, comments referring to Ophelia go into moderation until I see them. Please don’t try to circumvent that by using other terms to refer to her. All that will result in is those terms being added to the moderation filter, which may result in unrelated comments by other people also getting caught up in moderation.

Also, I am at a lot of meetings this week so you may have to wait for comments to be moderated.

If you want to avoid a delay, and if you think that a single point within a longer comment might put your whole comment into moderation, you could consider posting that single point as a separate comment. That way, the rest of your comment should go through automatically.

Thanks

424 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

If I was being cheeky with respect to the mod policy at #423, I’d suggest we all invest in a decent theasarus.

Phil, it matters to me little if the original comments can be found or not. You speak with the authentic voice of a survivor, and that’s good enough for me personally. I know the truth when I hear it spoken clearly, and yours is a true voice.

Thank you for sharing your account of your dealings with FtB’s head bully, and his misguided ‘horde’. Myers’ tactics are called shunning and taint. Neither are rational behaviours, he was taking his own feelings out on you, for whatever reason. If the Slymepit gives you support, then that is the best place to be.

Although he no longer allows threats on his blog, he has never recanted his rape apologist phase, to the best of my knowledge.

For a professor to stifle debate is particularly shameful, and utterly unprofessional. I have already been in touch with his employing university to see if a complaint can be raised. I don’t know enough about the privileges of american tenureship to know whether this is a non-starter or not.

Remember: the higher they climb, the harder they fall.

425 windy June 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

For a professor to stifle debate is particularly shameful, and utterly unprofessional. I have already been in touch with his employing university to see if a complaint can be raised.

Er, for what exactly? I agree that those actions reflect poorly on his role, but he wasn’t acting as Phil’s professor. Unless there is evidence that someone is behaving badly at their workplace, going after their real-life jobs because of unrelated activities seems vindictive.

426 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I have had a request from the Heathen Hub to seek out three members of Freethought Blogs who are willing to open a dialogue with three Slymepitters.

If any are willing please contact me directly. Given the circumstances, I believe an attitude of reconcilliation may be helpful.

427 Daniel June 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Just catching up on the comments and saw this So–WHO is telling people they are too ugly to be raped? “… are people now complaining about not being threatened with rape? lol

As I said, if it is a crime it doesn’t need to go into the rules of a group. If member are under the impression that law is suspended with a meeting, then harassment is the least of your problems!

428 JackSkeptic June 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Pogsurf (424)

‘…

For a professor to stifle debate is particularly shameful, and utterly unprofessional. I have already been in touch with his employing university to see if a complaint can be raised. I don’t know enough about the privileges of american tenureship to know whether this is a non-starter or not.

…’

Assuming I read you correctly you are using an online issue to affect someone in real life. This is the sort of thing I am trying to fight against. SkepTickle, Vacula, Lindsay, the list is endless of people who have had suffered real life consequences for simply stating an opinion.

It goes well over the line and in my opinion is disgusting behaviour. I do not want anyone from any ‘side’ affected by exercising their rights to freedom of actions no matter how offensive or censorious I think they are.

If we become like them we will be no better than them and I totally disown your action. I fight unreason with reason not by threats. I leave to them to do that.

Some people really fail to grasp these sorts of actions not only potentially hurt the people they are attacking but their families and, in Skep Tickles case, her employers and patients who are all innocent parties. She was interviewed here and gives her reasons for her concerns at being doxxed and, despite some peoples myopic view, it was not her she was worried about.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bravehero

429 Pogsurf June 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Apologies to the most recent commentors, but I fell I have to leave this conversation now. Thank you to all who have contributed, and a big thank you to Michael Nugent for his skill and professionalism.

430 S Mason June 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Hey Pogsurf – good luck with that “attitude of reconciliation”.

Not sure how that goes with

“Thank you for sharing your account of your dealings with FtB’s head bully” just above it..

but I’m sure you’re moral high ground and sincerity tone is completely intact.

431 A Hermit June 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm

SisterChromatid June 11, 2013 at 3:37 am

A hermit– there is plenty of offensive stuff linked– but it’s not from the people whom Myers etc. has try to shun, get fired, etc. That is the whole problem– you imagine your critics are the same people posting the vulgar commentary…

No I don’t and I have made that quite clear, I thought. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of these people getting outraged about Watson publicly disagreeing with someone or being blocked from commenting ona ablog while making excuses for and being dismissive of much worse behaviour.

432 Pitchguest June 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm

John Morales:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/07/27/some-more-words-to-the-new-atheist-blogosphere-on-unscientific-america/#.UbeYRPn0HTo

Comment 112.

“Great. My comment is awaiting moderation. I get accused of telling falsehoods, but in stronger langauge than that – and my reply is stuck in moderation.

This blog is such a slum.”

Now who’s suffering from an evident feeling of entitlement?

433 Steersman June 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Pitchguest said (#433):

Now who’s suffering from an evident feeling of entitlement?

“Guess who!”

But awesome link and reference there Pitchguest. These also are choice, reeking of irony and hypocrisy:

Interesting place, isn’t it – wild accusations of [telling falsehoods] get through while the defense is gagged. I think I’ll change my name to Bobby Seale.

And:

Ordinarily, yes, of course they can reject posts if they want to. But posts rebutting a false charge of [telling falsehoods]. No. That’s immoral.

Apropos of which, had the occasion to quote Acts to M. A. Melby here (1), to wit:

I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. (Acts 25:16)

But it is truly amazing the number of people who subscribe to view that sauce for the goose is not also sauce for the gander ….

—-
1) “_http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/fixed-that-for-you-skeptic-women/#comment-752”;

434 John Morales June 12, 2013 at 1:01 am

[meta]

Michael specified thus:

Everyone else, comments referring to Ophelia go into moderation until I see them. Please don’t try to circumvent that by using other terms to refer to her.

I note Pitchguest @436 and Steersman 437 are employing allusion and collusion, respectively — but not other terms.

(Any D&D player knows what the deal here is)

435 Phil_Giordana_FCD June 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

Michael, thanks for letting my comment(s) thru. Might need a bit of clean-up, though, I seem to repeat myself a lot :D

I haven’t had the chance to say it yet (ie: I forgot), but have fun at the convention. I was almost going to attend, but my financial situation wouldn’t allow it. And I have studio work to do at about the same time, which would have aforded me the trip, but is at the same time as the con. Next one, hopefully.

Cheers!

436 S Mason June 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm

SisterChromatid June 11, 2013 at 8:33 am

“Let me sum up post 361 so I can assess the whole misogyny claim directed at Justin.”

I think we’ve got your position (FTB bad; opponents to FTB good) – but OK: let’s have it then.

“Ophelia had been complaining about Justin being at the WISC2 which Justin took as her trying to whip up prejudice against him.”

Do you think that’s a good point to start in an analysis of “the whole misogyny claim directed at Justin”? Or are you cherry picking to suit your prejudice again? I wonder. Shall we carry on and see?

“That said, I don’t think it’s any more sexist than PZ’s posting of Michele Bachmann and the corndog which also made me cringe. ”

And the relevance of this is….???

“People aren’t perfect and not everyone interprets feminism/sexism/misogyny the same way.”

Did anyone say they did? I know you accuse those who have a different version of feminism to you pretty negatively, and make wide, sweeping and unsubstantiated claims against them (“self proclaimed social warriors” etc) – but this really is a statement of the obvious, right?

“Also people can learn. ”

Right. And they can evidence this by apologising for previously being public nuisances, sexists, racists or whatever. If they double down and increase the harassment, then what did they learn?

“he merely commented on how it would bother Ophelia” – but chose not to take down the offensive picture. So not so ‘merely’ then. He knows it will offend a woman who is inundated by targeted hatred every day – a fair chunk of which comes from her pointing out his sexism – and he ‘merely’ leaves it up and notes that it will offend her.

I just don’t understand why he can’t just leave her alone??? That he – and so many others – will not leave Ophelia alone speaks volumes about their true motivation. Ophelia reposting their abuse of her is entirely different from them posting that abuse in the first place. The first is an instigation. The second is a demonstration of the hatred and vitriol.

Different – completely different – right?

“Ophelia has made it clear that she doesn’t want to talk to Justin– and I agree that she has that right. ”

Well – we can agree that one at least.

“But she still feels it’s fair to talk about him which she also has the right to do. ”

Your failure to note the context in which she talks about him would be particularly telling, had you not already “told” that story a million times above. Any relevant context at all, do you think, about when Ophelia talks about Justin? Or is that just irrelevant to you?

“And to document and comment upon his communications elsewhere– even though she won’t allow him to defend himself on her blog or to correct misinformation like that which Rebecca tweeted. ”

Given the history, she doesn’t really owe him anything does she? He has been after her, and his followers likewise – and they just won’t stop. He could just stop harassing her perhaps, and then she’d stop commenting on his harassment. Seems simple to me.

Why can’t they just leave her alone? She clearly will call out misogyny and sexism as she sees it. Those accused have every right to contradict and say otherwise. When that unleashes a torrent of abuse though, then equivalence is gone.

“To me, it looks like Ophelia wants the right to say prejudicial things about Justin while calling any of his comments about her “harassment”, but, again, these things are interpretive. ”

I suppose they are.

437 Pitchguest June 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm

John Morales:

I wanted to see if you noticed your own mistake, but apparently you’re hopeless. And Michael explicitly said you shouldn’t mention her name for any falsehoods, which I’m pretty sure I did not do. I wanted to show you for the hypocrite that you are, by saying to Phil when he complained about the moderation that he was having an *ahem* “evident feeling of entitlement.” Well, now who’s having an “evident feeling of entitlement”?

And you still have no idea what meta means.

438 Daniel June 13, 2013 at 2:51 pm

What would be wrong with being an MRA?

439 Pitchguest June 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Daniel: Exactly.

440 Sister Eu June 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being an MRA, but they’re using it as something to insult or invalidate people, and it’s another word for “misogynist” when they use it. It’s like shorthand.

And yes, I really don’t understand people backing up someone -blogging about others herself- by telling other people to stop writing about it and “leave her alone.” Biased much? The door indeed does swing both ways. This is blatantly obvious.

441 Pitchguest June 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Behold: the new generation of the atheist/sceptic movement.

https://twitter.com/AmandaMarcotte/status/336138763107446785

Oh, wait. It’s just Amanda Marcotte being crazy again. Nevermind.

442 Michael Nugent June 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I have put a comment into moderation because it used another term to refer to Ophelia, and that circumvented the moderation filter. The purpose of that filter is not to prevent the word Ophelia from being published, it is to ensure that I see any references to her before they are published or not published.

I don’t have time now to read the full comment, so it will have to wait in moderation until I can read it.

If you want to avoid a delay like this in your comments being published, and if you think that a single point within a longer comment might put your whole comment into moderation, you could consider posting that single point as a separate comment. That way, the rest of your comment should go through automatically.

443 Steersman June 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Pitchguest said (#442):

Behold: the new generation of the atheist/sceptic movement. …. Oh, wait. It’s just Amanda Marcotte being crazy again. Nevermind.

She’s not always crazy, although the case described certainly provides evidence to support the contention that she is. But I thought her article (1) in Raw Story made a reasonable point or two:

Free speech does not entitle you to: 2) To have others host your speech. This is a corollary to the first one. Facebook, blog comment sections, online forums, etc. are just like TV shows, radio shows, and magazines: Their house, their rules. They have built up an audience and they are not obligated to turn around and give you that audience to spew your garbage. Start your own damn website/magazine/forum.

Unfortunately her analogy, her argument, breaks down because she seems to be claiming some of the rights and benefits of magazines and, by extension, newspapers for her blogs and the like, but conveniently ignores the fact that those rights and benefits entail some responsibilities of one sort or another which she and many others apparently wish to avoid. Otherwise we have yellow journalism (2), cases in point being many Freefromthought blogs and their fellow travelers.

Curious that so many bleat about their rights, but so few talk about their responsibilities. However that is part of the reason why I support the previously noted principle, the moral precept, of having the option of “rebutting a false charge of [telling falsehoods]”. Or of rebutting falsehoods, period, in the venue where they were or are being peddled. And, one might note, if no one steps forward to rebut those charges, at least in responsible newspapers and blogs where odious and egregious censorship is not the order of the day, then most are likely to conclude that the charges probably carry some weight.

—-
1) “_http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/07/a-refresher-course-on-what-constitutes-free-speech/”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism”;

444 Steersman June 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

John Morales said (#434):

I note Pitchguest @436 and Steersman 437 are employing allusion and collusion, respectively — but not other terms.

You might also want to note that there is a difference between allusion and hypocrisy. You might wish to ask yourself which is the more odious – particularly in the case currently before this court of public opinion.

445 Daniel June 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm

How do you mean steersman? ” there is a difference between allusion and hypocrisy”… in this case.

446 Steersman June 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Daniel said (#445):

How do you mean Steersman? ” there is a difference between allusion and hypocrisy”… in this case.

As suggested by John Morales, I was supposedly “guilty” of a “collusion to an allusion” in #437, but my post at least was alluding to what I think is some rather egregious hypocrisy. Not that I think that the principle suggested – i.e., having the right to confront one’s accusers – was fallacious or invalid. Only that its selective application qualified as hypocrisy – a case of “in-group morality and out-group hostility”; helluva way to run a railroad, much less a civilized society, if you ask me.

But apropos of which you might take a look at the post and comment at “sinmantyx” that addresses the concept entailed by that quote from the Bible above (Acts 25:16).

447 S Mason June 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

@Sister Eu June 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being an MRA, but they’re using it as something to insult or invalidate people, and it’s another word for “misogynist” when they use it. It’s like shorthand.

It’s a pretty reasonable shorthand though, right? If we look at those who self-identify as MRAs they very often don’t shy away from being quite openly misogynist: it’s a group with a high content of deeply offensive people in it. So sure: let’s have a new movement of men reclaiming that term and making it decent. Right now it’s pretty soiled.

And yes, I really don’t understand people backing up someone -blogging about others herself- by telling other people to stop writing about it and “leave her alone.” Biased much? The door indeed does swing both ways. This is blatantly obvious.

Try harder. The situations are not equivalent – however much you want them to be. On one side we have people who attack individuals with threats of (or were they jokes? or not worth noting – because they were just participation in portrayals of…) violence and sexual abuse, lies, misrepresentation – tweets, YouTube clips, websites established purely for the purpose.

On the other you have the targets/recipients of this treatment pointing out that this is just an amplification of the very thing they noted in the first place.

Your ‘blatantly obvious’ just doesn’t look so blatantly obvious to some of us. So maybe it’s not so blatant then?

448 Daniel June 16, 2013 at 10:56 am

sort of like the feminists then, except smaller and less support.

449 Daniel June 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

THere is a terrible habit alright of people, say feminists being aggressive and sexist.. often moronic, then when they are critisized for this they act like it proves they were right. Which of course they are not. No more than if I hit you in the face because I said you were violent and when you hit me back, I presented that as proof.

One thing that has to be gotten off the table is the ridiculous idea that feminism, or MRA groups are about equality. They are about advocating for their own groups getting equality where they don’t see it as being the case.

Why do we always have to wade through such utter rubbish before getting to the core of issues. The time for feminism is gone. They did a great job. Inequality based on gender is most striking and painful against men. THis would be in refernce to family law, where a father has no rights regarding his child if not married. The mother can, after years of everyone getting on, suddendly withdraw access, to hurt the father and with no regard for the child. Mothers behaving like this in family court is not an acception, it is par for the course. A female mediator told me it was embarresing for her as a mother to see how mothers/women behaved. This was the extreme vindictiveness, some people like to make this out to be a myth, but it is true.

450 Sister Eu June 18, 2013 at 1:02 am

I have to say I agree. I look at the lists and see that men -now- have more issues to clean up while women’s issues have gotten much more work.

But you seem to be saying that MRAs are all men and feminists are all women – are male feminists pushing the interests of their own group? Someone can also belong to either group if not both because they think those issues are being neglected most, but would also be an (whatever group they don’t call themselves officially a part of) in the mind.

Anyway, I’m not signing with either of these groups, too many bad fruits in them. I can’t read “feminist” things nor “MRA” things without coming across krap. So I’ll just call myself humanist, I guess.

451 Sister Eu June 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm

A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

” It’s not “harassment” it’s “bothering”.

It’s not “verbal abuse” it’s “ribbing”.

Amazing isn’t it…

And those aren’t “rape threats” they’re “dating tips…”

I’m really tired of them getting away with claiming verbal abuse with the pretty violent stuff they say that appears to be intended to be as offensive as possible, yet it’s not unwarranted “verbal abuse” for no god damn reason, it’s “cleaning up scum.” Insults themselves aren’t always unwarranted and this whole claiming abuse every time someone insults them is pretty damn hypocritical. Not once have I seen those types say that the stuff they say is abusive too. I mean, go get fucked with ___ (very painful instrument + more violent additives here)…. assuming that it’s not something they want,
how is that any different from saying “Go get raped?”

Hypocrisy gets on my nerves.
Funny, I don’t see anyone calling someone threatening to rape someone dating tips. But I do see things that amount to “go get raped.”

452 Sister Eu June 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm

A Hermit June 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

” It’s not “harassment” it’s “bothering”.

It’s not “verbal abuse” it’s “ribbing”.

Amazing isn’t it…

And those aren’t “rape threats” they’re “dating tips…”

I’m really tired of them getting away with claiming verbal abuse with the pretty violent stuff they say that appears to be intended to be as offensive as possible, yet it’s not unwarranted “verbal abuse” for no god damn reason, it’s “cleaning up scum.” Insults themselves aren’t always unwarranted and this whole claiming abuse every time someone insults them is pretty damn hypocritical. Not once have I seen those types say that the stuff they say is abusive too. I mean, go get fucked with ___ (very painful instrument + more violent additives here)…. assuming that it’s not something they want,
how is that any different from saying “Go get raped?”

Funny, I don’t see anyone calling someone threatening to rape someone dating tips. But I do see things that amount to “go get raped.”

But of course, every time someone says this, they act like they didn’t see it… every.. single… time. If they’re going to cower they could at least do it better – they keep on bringing up ‘verbal abuse’ even afterwards.

453 Lykas June 22, 2013 at 4:23 am

Sister Eu said in comment 450: “But you seem to be saying that MRAs are all men and feminists are all women – are male feminists pushing the interests of their own group? Someone can also belong to either group if not both because they think those issues are being neglected most, but would also be an (whatever group they don’t call themselves officially a part of) in the mind.

Anyway, I’m not signing with either of these groups, too many bad fruits in them. I can’t read “feminist” things nor “MRA” things without coming across krap. So I’ll just call myself humanist, I guess.”

I agree completely with Sister Eu. There are legitimate concerns from all sides involved (“feminist” or “MRAs”). Most “hot” topics could probably get a broad concensus from all sides.

But there are special interest groups located on extreme positions that are more concerned with their particular (not necessarily unworthy) goals, than working together on an achieveable solution to the benefit of all.

Are there injust outcomes from the proposed “solutions” of the “other” side? – Well, yes; there almost always are. And each individual judges the injustice towards themselves as the most important.

But this is not a new problem. In fact, the quest for a just society is one of the root drivers of the human experience.

Nobody has the _one_ correct solution. I am a mathematician. In my limited field of study I have to deal with problems that have exactly one solution, many solutions, an infinite number of solution and even problems where it is impossible to determine whether there is a solution or not. And this is in a field that follows very strict rules and all relevant conditions are very well defined!

I have worked in other branches of science (mostly in life science). In most fields outside of mathematics it is even more unlikely to achieve definite results.

The study of human interactions might be one of the most difficult fields of sciences ever undertaken. And definite answers to pressing problems or even consencus on solutions are not a reality yet.

So we are stuck with the only solution: working things out together. And as Michael has pointed out already, that requires:
– that we recognise our common goals
– that we respect that there are different approaches to these goals

But what I wuld like to add is: Debate/discussion about the the efficiency of different approaches is vital (as it is in science).

454 Steersman June 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

Lykas said (#453):

Nobody has the _one_ correct solution. …. The study of human interactions might be one of the most difficult fields of sciences ever undertaken. And definite answers to pressing problems or even consensus on solutions are not a reality yet.

Indeed.

A great many very different perspectives on which are the optimal solutions for any given problem. Which makes it rather difficult to decide or prove which ones are based on credible assumptions and therefore likely to lead to the required goal. In addition, as with paths to the top of a mountain, many ideas might lead to the same state, position or goal, although the social costs of each choice are unlikely to be the same.

On which point you might be interested in this post (1) by the scientist/philosopher Massimo Pigliucci on the topic of the limits of reasonable discourse. As a mathematician you might particularly appreciate his use of the biological and evolutionary model of a “fitness landscape” as an analogy to that process of discourse, and illustrates it with this graphic (2): one can start from only slightly different points in the saddle or valley and, using the same “logic” wind up in very different locations.

However, I think that the wicket gets decidedly much stickier when, even if we manage to elucidate all of the various assumptions, it is not at all clear, much less provable, which assumptions and premises actually correspond to “the truth”, or most likely to lead to the best outcome for all concerned. At which point one might argue that we might need to rely on some degree of faith, although not of the “blind” or “incongruent with known facts” variety.

—-
1) “_http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.ca/2010/10/limits-of-reasonable-discourse.html”;
2) “_http://i47.tinypic.com/2hgdcwj.jpg”;

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