Recent media misrepresentations of the atheist movement, and the role of PZ Myers in the culture of demonising people

by Michael Nugent on September 17, 2014

Let me preface this post by saying that I accept that I might be mistaken in anything that I write, and that I am open to changing my mind on the basis of reasonable civil discussion. Also, I assume that I have done variations of at least some of the things I am complaining about others doing here.

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas. I believe that this should include tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society.

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.

I am also concerned that distorted versions of these disagreements are now leaking into more mainstream media, as evidenced by recent sensationalised newspaper articles about Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and by Mark Oppenheimer’s recent article, ‘Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement?’, which is more comprehensive but not fully informed.

The many overlapping atheist advocates and movements

Some of these more mainstream media analyses imply that there is a single ‘atheist movement’, and that it is best analysed through some opinions of some mostly American bloggers and activists who, while committed and sincere and doing good work, are not representative of atheist activism worldwide.

Actually, there are many overlapping atheist and secular movements around the world, and one better filter through which to examine the state of their progress would be through the work of Atheist Alliance International and its affiliated groups in different regions.

There is a great deal of patient, hard, sometimes dangerous work being done to protect atheists and promote secularism in the developing world, with its often overt theocracies, and to protect and advance secularism in the developed world, which is typically more democratic.

There are also many excellent authors and broadcasters and bloggers and lawyers and foundations promoting a better understanding of science and secularism, of the dangers posed to people and societies by faith and dogma, and of the need for compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people while robustly criticising ideas and beliefs.

The current state of atheist advocacy and movements

The world is gradually becoming less religious and more secular, as evidenced by the work of the World Values Survey, a team of interdisciplinary social scientists who survey and analyse human values around the world. Atheist and secular groups and authors both reflect and advance that trend.

Atheist Alliance International has NGO consultative status with UNESCO, and worked with Atheist Ireland on our recent successful intervention at the UN Human Rights Committee’s investigation of Ireland under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

AAI has also worked with the IHEU and Center for Inquiry Transnational in gathering and submitting cases of discrimination against nontheists in the 2013 Freedom of Thought Report and promoting the discrimination reporting website Freethought report, as well as helping atheists who are seeking asylum when their lives are in danger.

AAI has also helped the Philippines Atheist and Agnostic Society to raise funds for short-term disaster relief after a hurricane, has helped the Gambia Secular Assembly to build a kindergarten, and has helped to raise funds for the Kasese Humanist School in Uganda.

Current priorities of AAI and its affiliates include improving internal operational efficiency, counteracting the effects of religious superstition and corruption in Africa, promoting human rights and religious tolerance in Muslim-dominated Asian and Middle-Eastern countries, and seeking greater separation of church and state in Latin American countries where Catholic dominance is being challenged by Evangelical Christian missionaries.

In the United States, AAI affiliate The Freedom From Religion Foundation continues to promote nontheism and defend the constitutional separation between religion and government, through a combination of its legal work, its publications and conferences, and the strength of its 20,000 members.

And that is just some of the work done by Atheist Alliance International and some of its many affiliates around the world. There are many other atheist advocates, activists and groups around the world who are not affiliated to AAI or indeed to any other group. Any analysis of ‘The’ atheist movement should recognise this global complexity.

Atheist advocacy and secularism empowering women

This global context is not presented in some recent articles. Instead, ‘The’ atheist movement is presented as if it was primarily an ongoing personalised and regional battleground about sexism between some mostly American bloggers and activists, some mostly American conference organisers, and some prominent atheist advocates who the mainstream media tend to quote.

I believe that sexism, like racism and homophobia, is a problem within society, and that it is therefore inevitable that sexism is also a problem within some atheist groups, and that we should tackle that problem.

Atheist Ireland has a policy of actively being inclusive to women and members of all groups who may be underrepresented or discriminated against in society. We work actively with other groups campaigning for abortion rights and equal marriage rights for gay people in Ireland.

Last year we organised an international conference in Dublin on Empowering Women Through Secularism, with speakers and participants from around the world. We discussed and adopted the Dublin Declaration on Secularism Empowering Women. The participants agreed policy priorities on secular values in society, human rights, separation of religion and state, reproductive rights and politics and campaigning.

On secular values in society, we concluded that the secular values that will empower women are science-based reason, equality and empathy in alliance with the principles of feminism. The priorities in democratic states were that secular values will protect and advance already-established freedoms, and that cultural and religious beliefs must not be used to deny or limit these freedoms. The priorities in nondemocratic states were that, where secular values are not recognised or protected by laws, such laws should be established and applied, and address the issues that deny women full participation in society and government.

On human rights, we agreed that human rights are universal, and should be applied equally in democratic and nondemocratic states; and that women’s rights are human rights, not separate rights for women. The priorities in democratic states were that women should have equal sexual, reproductive and economic rights in practice as well as in legislation. The priorities in nondemocratic states were the right to autonomy, self-determination as an individual, and fully equal treatment at all levels of society for men and women taking precedence over religious or idealogical dogma.

You can read the full declaration here. I believe is a useful resource, given the quality and experience of the feminist activists from around the world who formulated it.

The role of PZ Myers in the culture of demonising people

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers has been central to the escalation of what some people call ‘the deep rifts’. He is by no means the only person responsible, and he has been the victim of many unfair and vicious personal attacks himself. But, given his influence and responsibility, his role has been central in shaping how things have developed.

Whenever I have met PZ, he comes across as a decent person, motivated by a desire to promote reason and science, and to promote social justice and defend victims of injustice. He is quiet, polite, civil and friendly. He works tirelessly to promote his vision of a better world. I like him.

But something seems to happen to him when he gets behind a keyboard. He routinely demonises people in a way that he doesn’t do in person, and that he recognises as unfair when others do it to him. He routinely attacks people as individuals, as opposed to merely attacking their ideas or behaviour.

Whenever we have met, I have raised concerns about this. Each time, he has responded that he will tone it down, which to some extent he has. He no longer encourages his commenters to tell people to shove a rotting porcupine up their ass, and they no longer tell people to die in a fire or fuck themselves with a rusty chainsaw. But ceasing such vitriol, while obviously welcome, is a low hurdle for a blog promoting empathy and social justice.

In the last year or so, he has publicly accused Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. He has joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about himself stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

Last month he described Robin Williams’ suicide as the death of a wealthy white man dragging us away from news about brown people, said that a white lady who made racist comments looks like the kind of person who would have laughed at nanu-nanu, then added that he should have been more rude, because asking him to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is missing the point.

I believe and hope that he has now passed the apex of this approach. Some of his recent posts have been informative and science-based, he has written a sensitive account of his first kiss as a teenager, he has argued that people are complex rather than good or bad, and some of his recent criticisms of those he disagrees with have been more balanced and nuanced.

However, old habits die hard. In recent days, he has written that Richard Dawkins has been eaten by brain parasites and is grossly dishonest, that Christina Hoff Sommers promotes lies about feminism and claims them as inalienable truths, that Michael Shermer is a liar and an assailant, and that Sam Harris has scurried off to write a tendentious and inexcusably boring defence of sticking his foot in his mouth.

I have no idea what PZ thinks he will gain by continuing to publicly attack named people in this personalised way. I don’t think it is a response to ‘the deep rifts’. He was personally hostile to creationists before that, and many people, including me, did not challenge that, I assume partly because it did not affect us directly and partly because he was also citing objective scientific facts about the topics under discussion.

Summary

Atheist activists and groups and authors around the world are working hard to promote reasoned evidence-based world views, and to counter the harm caused by faith and superstition, in difficult and often dangerous circumstances. If we talk about the future of ‘The atheist movement’, that global context is what we should be talking about.

I believe that we should do this work while also promoting compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas. I believe that this should include tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society, and making our groups and events welcoming to everybody who wants to be involved.

I believe that we can do this without routinely demonising good people who support equality but who have a different approach to it, without uncharitably misinterpreting tweets and impromptu comments as if they were formal pronouncements of misogyny, and without ignoring the principles of natural justice by publicly accusing named people of serious alleged crimes.

I believe that we should robustly question the ideas and behaviour of people who are, or who are perceived to be, authority figures in our own spheres of activity. I also believe that everyone, on various sides of these disagreements, should reconsider what I describe as the ethos of “You must be more compassionate, you fuckbrained asshole!”

Let me conclude by repeating from my preface, that I accept that I might be mistaken in anything that I have written here, that I am open to changing my mind on the basis of reasonable civil discussion, and that I assume that I may have done variations of at least some of the things I am complaining about others doing here.

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{ 336 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hans van den Bos September 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Well said, Michael!

2 Rogier van Vugt September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

So: what research have you done so far to check the claims by PZ and others?
Because this piece is a request to do your research for you. For instance, you could read the blog posts you mentioned yourself and check whether the comments criticized were indeed quoted correctly and in context (they were).

To be honest, I feel like my contributions have been ignored before in the past and so I am quite unwilling to devote time to educating you again on this subject.
Also: you could as easily have written this piece with Dawkins as target in stead of PZ. In that case you would have had a point.

3 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm

And straight away that weird passive aggressive, self-aggrandising thing of ‘I refuse to educate you further’ that you always see two comments in on any Phrayngula thread. Do these people not realise how strange they are, how disconnected from normal discourse?

4 Skep tickle September 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Michael, thank you. I could be biased, but it reads as an evenhanded analysis of the situation and call for reasonableness to damp the flames of this war – though it’s possible some will see it as gasoline instead.

5 Jonathan September 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Minnow:

It must be so tough to know that his generous contributions have not been appreciated. Sigh. Another helpless martyr to the intransigence of others. Poor fellow. Maybe one day he will be recognised for his talents.

6 Robin DCH September 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

While I’d have included examples of unhelpful prose from more people than just PZ — even if only to show that the issue is wider than just a single person’s inability to communicate without displays of open aggression — I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve written here.

7 Patrick September 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

“I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.”

The reason you find Myers’ approach counterproductive is that he does not share your goals. When you consider that he is motivated more by preserving his perceived standing amongst his ever dwindling group of sycophants than by promoting secular values, his behavior makes much more sense.

Ignore him and keep doing what you’re doing. You’re making a difference, FTBlogs is just making noise.

8 oolon September 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Summary: Tone is important. I don’t think so and as an atheist firebrand this criticism was rightly dismissed as fallacious when aimed at PZ. Criticise one of our own however! That will not stand!

This though cannot stand –> “In the last year or so, he has publicly accused … Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes”

You are not a fan of believing women when they say they have been raped then Michael? Cos PZ didn’t accuse him of that, he reported Alison Smiths accusation that she was too afraid to make public non-anonymously. There then ensued lots of lies about it being PZ who made it up, which this statement of yours seems to continue. In the face of the actual person herself standing up and telling her side I’m surprised at you here.

I note Shermer has quietly dropped his libel case, after collecting the money raised for it. Now Alison has been able to speak out as he cannot sue her into silence, PZ allowed that to happen by taking the flak.

Given your claim to be open to “reasoned argument” over the inaccuracies that may lie in this post I’d like to hear your justification for this gross error. I’m being charitable and assuming it is an error.

9 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm

“Summary: Tone is important. ”

Tone is important, it is an essential aspect of communication. If you are tone-deaf you are simply less adept at understanding. But that is a slightly different point from the one that Michael was making. He was saying that aggression and personal abuse matter. It is hard to see how you can read this article and not grasp that.

10 Phil Giordana FCD September 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I was going to join in on the discussion, but then a Oolon. I’m out.

11 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I’m glad to see the kickback against Myers but you leave out one important aspect of his ghastliness: the editorial policy which allows his lapdogs to say things even more disgusting than he himself is willing to say while deleting comments he disagrees with.

The Robin Williams thread was particularly disgusting. Many commentators who, themselves, suffer from depression wrote quite movingly about their experiences only to be abused as racists – why else would they feel sympathy for a dead white man? – and their comments were then deleted.

Racism is an offensive and should be fought at every opportunity; but throwing mentally ill people under the bus to make a cheep point about racism is reprehensible.

The atheist movement has a problem where mental health is concerned, whether it is sneering at suicidal celebrities, using disablist language to attack the religious (‘mad’, ‘insane’) or dog whistle accusations of autism (attacking opponents for lacking ’empathy’, etc) against their opponents.

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with Myers but he doesn’t have the excuse of mental illness or a developmental disorder; some people are just assholes.

12 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I have to agree with Shatterface. I haven’t commented often or much on Pharyngula, but I was amazed at how many comments were deleted even though they were to the point, polite etc. The site really does not seem to tolerate any dissent at all.

13 Henry Plankett September 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

PZ has always been an asshole. He’s doing the same schtick he’s always been doing, the only difference now is that his targets are his (now) former allies and people within the same movement/community as himself. He just turned his vile, venomous verbal diarrhea inwards to his own kind. Nothing’s really changed all that much.

14 Maureen Brian September 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Michael,

Where is the bit where you ask yourself whether there could possibly be any truth in all this? Where you wonder whether the problem might be rooted in too much of a particular style of “leadership” and a willingness to cover for the big guys, which I know would be anathema to you and which is unsuited to a multi-stranded project which must have space for everyone?

I was there in Dublin. I was proud of what we did – on the basis of equality and full acceptance of difference.

As for “unreported” – James Randi himself made clear in that Oppenheimer article that no way was abuse unreported. It was reported many a time and had been deemed less important than that old-style religion of covering for the boys.

15 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I have to admit, I am a gadfly in this whole brouhaha, but I have a stance I haven’t seen much represented: a pox on all their houses. P.Z.’s two pieces on Robin Williams were ham-handed and needlessly offensive. To be fair, both were about media priorities, but he handled it terribly. Dawkins repeatedly asserted that if a woman can’t remember her rape, it either never happened or is unprosecutable. Sam Harris comes off the best, to my mind, in trying to clarify his remarks about women in atheism, but I wish it were possible for anyone, in any forum, in any sort of public life, to admit even the most human of mistakes. “I was speaking off the cuff, and I did a bad job.” Everyone seems to take criticism of something they said as a mortal attack upon their being. It appears to this relative outsider that tribalism trumps critical thinking even within the atheist community.

16 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

“It appears to this relative outsider that tribalism trumps critical thinking even within the atheist community.”

I think that is what is at work, clannishness in place of reason. In fact I have started to see reason being dismissed on some self-described rationalist blogs as ‘hyper-skepticism’. As far as I can tell, this neologism means preferring the evidence to the group.

17 Peter Vintner September 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Words matter. It really doesn’t help that people insist on referring to “the atheist movement”. It isn’t actually a movement any more than a bunch of schoolboys running around with their arms out is a squadron of fighter aeroplanes.

1. Atheism is simply “without theism”. It can be described in different ways, but what it is categorically NOT is a belief system, philosophy or moral guide. It’s worth remembering that “theism” isn’t of itself a philosophy or moral guide.

2. A “movement” implies a group of like minded people with a common purpose. But atheism isn’t of itself a purpose.

3. Insistence on calling it “the atheist movement” is an act of supreme arrogance, because it co-opts all atheists everywhere into its ranks by default. Atheists everywhere are tainted by it, even if they want nothing to do with it

4. “The atheist movement” panders to assertions that atheism is a belief system or religion. And it makes real the hitherto nonsensical notion of the “militant” atheist.

5. Why can it not be called The Atheist Society, or maybe The American Society of Atheists, or even The Society of American Atheists?
I suspect that “movement” sounds much grander, more important. But a “society” could achieve just as much without alienating many of the rest of the world’s atheists. They could campaign for equality, generally, along with the secular society but it’s probably more about anti-theism than universal equality.

Frankly if the members of this “movement” aren’t bright enough to understand that it takes more than just an absence of theism to bind people together in a movement, then they rather deserve the problems they have. It doesn’t exactly indicate an abundance of critical thinking.

18 oolon September 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

@Minnow, “He was saying that aggression and personal abuse matter. It is hard to see how you can read this article and not grasp that.”

Yes, the style and “rude werdz” matter more than the substance. Much better to focus on that and not any of the criticism, Dawkins has done that, he has also used ad-hom. All of these are fallacies, which is more important, sticking to substance of a criticism, or style?
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tone_argument

19 Pikaia September 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I used to be a fan of Myers, but recently I have been increasingly offended by his attitude. His ridiculous OTT attack on Richard Dawkins was the final straw, and I no longer follow his blog. It struck me as strange that there were no comments critical of Myers (but it was news to me that he deletes comments that he doesn’t like), so it is good to see that I am not the only one who is disturbed by his online persona.

20 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

“Yes, the style and “rude werdz” matter more than the substance.”

No, he was quite clear that he was talking about abusive content, rather than the style. For all I know he approves of the style. Ditto rude words. This is very plain in the article. He is asking for criticism without personal abuse or aggression. Whether any of PZ Myers ‘criticisms’ stand up without the personal abuse is moot.

21 Gurdur September 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Michael, I don’t have much to say except:
Thank-you, and a great post it is.

22 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

“It struck me as strange that there were no comments critical of Myers (but it was news to me that he deletes comments that he doesn’t like)”

Yes, that took me by surprise too, partly because I had assumed the the aggressive, macho persona would go along with a commitment to no-holds-barred free speech as it usually does .I don’t mind bloggers deleting comments, but I think it is sly and cowardly not to own up to it and not to say why.

23 Helen Pluckrose September 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Very well said. This is exactly the attitude we need. It is so strange that that subset of American bloggers etc accuse people of racism, sexism etc whilst being completely intolerant of diversity of atheist and feminist opinion. I posted on PZ Myers site for the first time this week and suggested greater tolerance of other viewpoints giving my own experiences of the contrary. I was called an “undrained abscess” and told to fuck off many times before I found ‘out the hard way’ how little patience they had with people like me. People like me? I’m an atheist and a feminist and primarily concerned with human rights. Fortunately, I can just go away and no-one will bother me but those in the public eye cannot and my worst fear is that rational, moderate atheist activists and feminists will be discouraged from discussing issues around gender and sexuality. We’d be poorer without their perspectives..

24 Graham+ASH-PORTER September 17, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Jezus, we are getting as bad as the religious!

25 Martha September 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

“I have no idea what PZ thinks he will gain by continuing to publicly attack named people in this personalised way. I don’t think it is a response to ‘the deep rifts’. ”

Seriously? He gets attention, which he could not commend as either a scientist or an author. I think you fail to understand that while he purports to be motivated by social justice, his real motivation is to get the attention he could not earn by honest work by substituting smears, drama, and nastiness.

26 FunknJunk September 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Well … the only thing I can ask after reading this is … Have you read Dawkins’ tweets? If yes, ok, next question … WTF? They are egregious in their victim-blaming analogies and terminology. They deserve every word of analysis and scorn from PZ (and others) and every bit of vitriol from his commenters. I can’t believe the level of privilege and inexperience with issues of sexual assault that one would have to have to even begin to think about tweeting what Dawkins tweeted. Uh, I am one of those folks who want to have nothing to do with those who can’t admit when they’ve screwed up. That includes Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. And re: Pharyngula commenters … I read the comments at Pharyngula as well. One reason why people become irritated is because 99% of the questions that are “Just asked in good faith” have been asked and answered by people who have much more experience with these issues than the “Brights” who apparently think they are all-knowing about all issues because they have garnered some measure of acclaim for their godlessness and debunking of YEC. Some of these questions asked in good faith seem to many just as inane as “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” And commenters above wonder why folks become irritated? I’m sure they would prefer Dawkins stuck to evolutionary biology and avoided tackling issues with which he sucks.

27 Acleron September 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Good summary of the situation and good suggestions.

The most worrying aspect of these affairs are the attempts of the FTBers to quash any dissent from their viewpoint by censorship and vilification on public media sites.

28 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Acleron–vilification on public media sites is generally called “criticism.” Can you give me an example of the censorship of which you speak?

29 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 6:06 pm

You can gain notoriety by posting click bait posts on dead celebrities and atheists who fall short of some ever-shifting cultural sensibility in the short term but eventually people get bored and go looking for some other internet entertainment.

And I didn’t think his story about his first kiss was ‘moving’, it was creepy.

Who honestly feels the need to add ‘and the best thing about it was it was consensual?’ Really, after paragraph after paragraph of ostentatious celibacy that would have made the Jonas Brothers cringe nobody was wondering if the story was going to end in a sexual assault.

30 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Acleron–vilification on public media sites is generally called “criticism.” Can you give me an example of the censorship of which you speak?

You could ask Myers about his ‘ban hammer’ – he boasts about censorship.

31 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

“vilification on public media sites is generally called “criticism.””

No, it really isn’t. Vilification and criticism are quite different.The failure to understand this, a bewildering failure for many of us, is at the heart of the problem.

32 AstroKid Nj September 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Let me conclude by repeating from my preface, that I accept that I might be mistaken in anything that I have written here, that I am open to changing my mind on the basis of reasonable civil discussion

Nothing we didnt already know, Michael. The only question is, what took you so long to figure this all out?
And you dont like whats being said about Christina Hoff Sommers now, eh? And Dawkins wants people to follow her now on Twitter.. What happened since she wrote ‘Who stole feminism’ way back in 1993? What about her ‘War on boys’ published back in 2001? Did anybody in the Atheist or Humanist community engage with her over the years? Nope. Instead they went on celebrating Gloria Steinem-wing feminists, or 3rd-wavers. And an eternal gynocentric focus, which perhaps reflects the ‘Women are wonderful’ cognitive bias?

The deal is.. the vast majority of folks in the Atheist and Humanist communities are Lefties, and this has largely resulted in an echo chamber as far as certain gender-issues are concerned.
I noticed it when Susan Jacoby wrote a hit piece on Right-Wing Atheists called ‘Surprise, Right wing atheists do exist’ where she likens them to social darwinists.
And the annual ‘women in secularism’ conf.. a more appropriate name would be ‘Lefty-Feminists in Atheism’ . There are no conservative, libertarian , or Progressive non-feminists, or Religious women there. No Christina Hoff Sommers, or Cathy Young, or Karen Straughan.

These are the consequences of a gender-issues echo chamber.
I can assure you that even if PZMyers et al fade away, these issues wont. Until the issues MRAs speak of get addressed, there will be a ruckus.

33 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Shatterface, with all due respect, this is part of the problem. This comment thread is quickly showing why I lose respect for ALL sides in this debate. The actual ideas are not argued; rather the modes and styles of communication become the subject. I will stipulate that the comments sections on Pharyngula are unwelcoming, generally unhelpful, often uncivil, and sometimes vile. I don’t like them and don’t often delve. Do I think Professor Myers should allow basically free comment? I do. Do I have any right to enforce that idea? I do not. Do you? You do not. Does the United States or any other government? Not so far as I can tell. You have no right to co-opt his site as a bullhorn for your ideas. Nor he yours. To define “censorship” as not being able to post what you like on someone else’s blog is to define “censorship” down so far as to be meaningless to me. Criticize Myers. Demonize him. Call him out when he’s wrong–with regard to his comment policy, if you like. But don’t get upset when you can’t do so on his site.

34 allison September 17, 2014 at 6:21 pm

PZ Myers and his followers (what’s left of them) are an absolute embarrassment to the “atheist movement”. Is there ANY prominent atheist who still sides with those people? It appears to me that they’ve managed to alienate essentially everybody of any consequence.

Myers does indeed delete comments expressing even moderate disagreement with him or the victimhood feminist ideology to which he adheres – if you doubt it, try posting a dissenting opinion at pharyngula.

Thanks for a very good article, Michael.

35 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Minnow–you seem to confuse “criticism” with “valid criticism” or perhaps “meaningful criticism” or even “helpful criticism.” Again. Debate ideas. Not the clothing in which they appear.

36 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm

“Who honestly feels the need to add ‘and the best thing about it was it was consensual?’”

The answer that would usually spring to mind to that is that, generally, people only feel the need to tell you this sort of thing when it isn’t true (I am a doctor, not an imposter!). And we only have his word for the consensuality. But it would obviously be wrong and perverse to suggest on a blog that Myers forced himself on this woman, for reasons that seem to be obvious to everyone except Myers himself.

37 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm

“Minnow–you seem to confuse “criticism” with “valid criticism” or perhaps “meaningful criticism” or even “helpful criticism.” Again. Debate ideas. ”

No, I really don’t, I think you are misreading if that appears to be the case to you. I do stick to the ideas and I much prefer it when others do to. It is what Michael Nuhgent is here urging: leave out the aggression and abuse and stick to the arguments. I agree with him. Myers patently doesn’t and he is poisoning the well.

38 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Minnow–what I am urging is that the well is being poisoned by all sides. The faults may be different, but the blame should be shared.

39 Mel September 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I feel sorry for Myers. All those years ago he nominated himself as “The Fifth Horseman” of atheism. He said he’d be the one carrying a flag that said “Internet” on it. The man actually believed himself to be the LEADER OF INTERNET ATHEISM. He set out to write a book which, he said, should put him right up there with Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens, Harris, and secure the status he believes himself entitled to. He learned it ain’t easy to write a book, complained about that for a while, and a few years later finally gave up and published a bunch of old blog posts. I know I’m not the only one embarrassed for him.

Now he seems to think the only option left is to bring down the respected atheist authors and feet-on-the-ground activists and when there are none left, step into the vacancy as LEADER (from behind his keyboard). He does it with unsupported accusations and rumor-mongering and spinning that would do Rush Limbaugh and Fox News proud. His public ‘divorce’ from skepticism/critical thinking gives him the freedom to do that and his credulous followers will support him as far as he wants to go. Where he’s going is further and further into the Land of Woo to find that status he wants so badly, and that’s why I feel sorry for him. I don’t think, ten years ago, this is where he saw himself.

He should watch the movie “Talk Radio.” It’s not the end that’s relevant, but the part where the ego tripping superstar talk radio host finally realizes in a soul-crushing epiphany why his followers love him so much. It’s not because he’s brilliant. It’s because they’re idiots.

40 Deepak Shetty September 17, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Im mostly on the FTB side of things so I am only going to point out your article is one sided.

It is perfectly fine to take P.Z. Myers to task for the comments you have included – but I see no corresponding list of the stupid things Dawkins has said. is it that much worse to say Dawkins’ brain is eaten by parasites than it is for Dawkins to say that people at FTB do it to make money? or to call them “bullies” ?

On the topic of Shermer – I have no idea what is being defended. Some people think its ok for him to have tried to get someone drunk to have sex with her – others think that there is no evidence that the sex wasnt consensual – yet others think that the story is completely false.
All we have to go on is that atleast one woman said that Shermer took advantage of her drunkenness and a couple of other corroborated his creepy behavior. (as well as 3 versions of Shermers story exist – he didnt have sex, he had sex but it was sober consensual, he was too drunk)
The only people talking about crimes and jail are people on the other side-Dawkins or you. If this is all the data I had , and I was a woman , I’d ensure that I didnt put myself in a position that Shermer could take advantage of me. So would you. So I’d thank the woman doing the reporting – whether it is demonstrable in a court of law is mostly irrelevant or whether it is the 100% truth? who can tell , now? However it seems we might as well follow the Shariah – A woman’s testimony is not as worth as a mans.

41 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm

“but I see no corresponding list of the stupid things Dawkins has said. ”

Because they are not of the same kind, the kind that is being complained about. You may think Dawkins is very wrong and you should, obviously, feel free to say why, but he is not doing what the author here is campaigning against, levelling aggressive , personal abuse at named people. It is baffling that so many just don’t seem to understand the difference unless they are the recipient of the abuse.

It is not about ‘stupid’ things, it is about ‘personally abusive’ things.

42 Damion Reinhardt September 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

“I have no idea what PZ thinks he will gain by continuing to publicly attack named people in this personalised way.”

The same thing Charles Coughlin and Bill Donahue and Bill O’Reilly get for thundering with righteous fury against the enemies of Catholicism and traditionalism. The same thing any popular demagogue gets when they call for a wave of purification to remake the world in the image of their ideas. The same thing any prophet gets when disciples come to believe in the One True Path.

43 An Ardent Skeptic September 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I find it interesting that you find P.Z. Myers to be a decent person when speaking with him in person, Michael.

My husband and I tried to speak with him at a conference in 2010 about the vitriolic comments on his blog. We were diplomatic and respectful in our approach, and he was dismissive and unpleasant in response. It was obvious that P.Z. Myers neither appreciates nor even wants feedback that even remotely implies disapproval of what he is doing.

As a woman, I find his fight for women in the atheist movement hypocritical. He demands that people stop treating women badly, yet he encouraged nasty comments about porcupines and rusty knives on his blog. I never attempted to comment on his blog because I did not want to endure the viciousness of his commenters. Why does P.Z. Myers feel he has the right to criticize how others are treating women when he allowed women to be so mistreated on his own site?

Furthermore, in his fight for atheism and secularism, he rarely does anything other than take potshots at easy targets. His blog is not profound, thought-provoking, or even particularly well researched. It’s dismissive vitriol aimed at the “enemy”.

It’s about time that we take a closer look at what we choose to champion as secularists and skeptics.

44 Hygelac September 17, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Minnow–I apologize if you think I have been intemperate or uncivil, but I promise I have not intended to be so. I am curious though, what do you consider “personally abusive” things? How do we establish that standard? I’d be eager to here.

45 Deepak Shetty September 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

@Minnow
but he is not doing what the author here is campaigning against, levelling aggressive , personal abuse at named people.
Huh? What is not personal , abusive or aggressive about saying some people are doing it for the money or that they are bullies or that they are thought police? Personally I feel more insulted if you call me a bully than if you say my brain has been eaten by parasites. YMMV.

46 FunknJunk September 17, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I’d also like to know what’s “Not Personal” about victim-blaming and making sexist comments… seems pretty personal to me. Seems further to me that Dawkins and Harris take it VERY personally when they are criticized but cannot fathom how their utter lack of empathy and dearth of understanding when it comes to these social issues would be taken personally. Vulcan logic for thee, not for me ….

47 Cathal Ó Broin September 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

“… so I am quite unwilling to devote time to educating you again on this subject.”
This is the most condescending comment of the bunch. Not only are you disagreeing, but that you think you are so right that you describe saying your point of view as “educating” the person (although you are unwilling to impart your beads of knowledge upon us unworthy individuals). I mean, seriously, that’s one hell of an inflated sense of ones own grandiosity.

“… how their utter lack of empathy and dearth of understanding when it comes to these social issues would be taken personally. Vulcan logic for thee, …”
Your comment is dehumanising someone you disagree with and a typical stereotype of a skeptic as a Vulcan-like cold person.

48 Kragar September 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Michael…are you looking at the comments to verify there are no sock puppets? Just curious.

49 cityzenjane September 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Michael…this is classic tone trolling.

The secular movement absolutely lionizes Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins and Sam Harris. They do this in part because they are sharp tongued and uncompromising, sometimes funny. To a man, they are ruthless in their ridicule and dead eyed in response to absurdity – which they dispatch with great bloody glee. When it is returned to them based on their own absurd and uninformed and YES sexist behaviors – they cry “witch hunt”, “online lynching” and my favorite “cruxifiction.” Which, of course, is absurd. As is the word “demonization.”

Sexism and racism (and ablism, and hetero-sexism) all of these things are the water we swim in. To discuss them – is NOT demonization.

As an example – I have a disability. I often say things which are by definition ablist – I was like everyone else -raised in an ablist culture.
I cannot “demonize” myself….now can I.

It is utter bullshit.

It is dishonest in the extreme to single out people in the movement on the other side of arguments around social justice for not being sufficiently polite or “fair” with regard to their interlocutors contributions or feelings – coming from those who MOST worship the Hitch Slap.

Face it – the “atheist” movement – has a conservative and a progressive wing. I am seeing the exact same knee jerk anti-feminism in EVERY other circle of interest – secularism is no exception. When I am confronted with a reactionary position – I really do not care who is serving it up. It still tastes like a shit sandwich…all the worse coming from people who SAY they are my friends. When my self described “allies” within athiest circles say EXACTLY the same things as my avowed enemies in other spheres they cannot claim they are in fact actual allies. They like me up until I question them… the way I question any one else. And I question them the exact same way THEY question – anyone who is not a secularist. And they do NOT like it.

So…live by the Hitchslap, die by the Hitchslap I guess…

So please. This is really REALLY…really dishonest.

50 Stefan September 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm

PZ Myers should stop writing ad-hominem blog rants reeking of arrogance and condescension, while wallowing in his own pious self-righteousness, and rather try writing a proper book – like those he’s always bad-mouthing have done – that people might actually would like to read. But I guess he knows he can’t, and that’s why he’s so pissed at those who can (and do).

51 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Well, we all know that Oolon is spreading misinformation, but here’s my favorite reason that no one should take this FTB ally seriously. He’s your enemy one day and a friend the next…sometimes literally! He spent a long time saying awful things about Dawkins…until the day of the Treaty of Butterflies Accord with Benson.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Btgwhi7CIAEguFc.jpg:large

52 cityzenjane September 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

As for the refusal to educate… You must understand the demand comes about 100 times a day – from people who REFUSE to come to the discussion with even the most basic grounding in terms they are attempting to refute.

It is a demand on my time.

“Whilst seemingly simple on the surface, there is some intertwining subtext embedded within this one.First of all, you’re placing responsibility for your education back onto the marginalized person. As they are obviously engaged with these issues, and care about them, they are hopeful that privileged people may one day start listening and taking on board what they have to say. By placing responsibility to educate in their hands, you tug at this yearning. You may even successfully make many question themselves and their selfish expectations that you utilize the hundreds upon hundreds of resources on the subject available to you as a privileged person! After all, anyone who expects you to be able to research a topic by yourself also clearly expects you to be far more of a functioning adult than you’re acting! By insisting you can only learn if they right then and there sacrifice further hours of time going over the same ground they have so often in the past, you may also make them give up and go away altogether, enabling you to win by default.But further, you give the impression that you really want to learn, but they’re holding you back! That’s right, using this tactic you can suggest that full understanding is what you crave – you want to be a better, more connected and compassionate person – but it’s not your fault! Nobody ever gave you the education! And now that someone is here who is so obviously qualified, they’re denying you your privilege given right to have everything you want handed to you on a platter!Which brings us to another key component of this argument – it is very important, in conversations with Marginalized people to constantly remind them that you are, indeed, privileged. By demonstrating your belief that marginalized people should immediately gratify your every whim, you remind them of their place in society. After all, they’re not there to live lives free of discrimination and in happy, independent and fulfilling ways! Please! marginalized people exist for your curiosity and to make you generally feel better about your place in society and don’t let them forget it!
Point one to you!”

Derailing for Dummies (I didn’t title it)

The response you are getting is exhaustion.

More from Derailing for Dummies

“If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me

This is the natural follow-up to the above argument, although it can also be used independently.You see, often in these discussions a marginalized person will tell you it’s not their responsibility to educate you. This is because marginalized people believe that they have other priorities in life, like working and studying and being with their families for example. Clearly, they are laboring under a misconception – as a privileged person you have far more right to their time than they do, and besides, don’t they want to make the world a better place? Isn’t that why they alerted you to the fact you were being offensive in the first place? Well, now clearly your education is their responsibility!

By placing this burden of responsibility onto them you remind them of just how daunting a task that is and how their lives are constantly being monopolized by the privileged, even in something that should be empowering to them, like deconstructing discrimination.You trivialize their lives, needs, interests and obligations by suggesting they should be spending all of their time and energy in engaging with clueless Privileged People®, putting in hours and hours of effort in repeating the exact same thing they’ve already said three thousand times to three thousand other privileged people in their past.And furthermore, you remind them that, if they really cared about their own issues, they’d willingly take that task on! Surely it’s a small price to pay to change people‘s minds?Well, you want them to think that, but of course it isn’t After all, most of the conversations they have with Privileged People® often feel to them like beating their heads repeatedly against a brick wall embedded with rusty spikes. Which is entirely the point. Keep them worn out and exhausted and maybe they’ll just go away.”

So please… understand where that is coming from. It’s not an academic question – and it’s not an academic response.

53 doubtthat September 17, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Dawkins and Harris are making bad arguments. Shermer is a disgusting person and probably a sex criminal.

If this is where you want to make your stand, have at it, but you’ve always struck me as a thoughtful person and I would be surprised and disappointed if you continue down this road.

54 Aheydis Vaakenjab September 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

It just goes to show that education does not equal intelligence. PZ may hold a PhD, but that does not mean he has any sense of what the real world is like. He and his dwindling horde are nothing more than an embarrassment at this point, showing everyone that they are not “the stuff” of what makes leaders in a community. PZ and crew have done nothing to create a bridge between those looking to get out of religion or those who, gasp!, have different viewpoints. If I were 17 years old, looking for guidance about how to shed my religiosity and I read PZ’s post about stabbing a Christian, I would have second thoughts about what “atheism” really is. As an educator, PZ has done nothing to promote and educate those who are in the community other than to “educate” us on who like to have sex at parties. He and his horde’s behaviour would make McCarthy blush.

10 years ago when I was looking for online atheist groups, I stumbled upon PZ’s ScienceBlogs Pharyngula. I admit smirking at the anti-Christian rhetoric that was posted. But I quickly realized that firebrand atheism is not the way to entice people to think for themselves. What good does telling an ardent Christian that they’re a shithead other than to galvanize their position? Where is the education?

Then came FTB, dear Muslima, and the inevitable downward spiral in to irrelevance. As you’ve noted Michael, PZ is a warm and fuzzy teddy bear in person. Give him a microphone or a keyboard and suddenly he’s spewing bullshit faster than a bull on Exlax. The atheist community is debating whether women are people? Come on PZ, that is as blatantly dishonest as it comes. Disagreement is not harassment, except when FTB does it. False rape accusations never happen except, by their own admission, to PZ and Lousy Canuck (twice in Canuck’s case!). What is the probability, according to the horde, that three accusations against their ilk are false, but the one against Shermer is legit? The sheer hypocrisy on that one topic alone is enough to turn anyone who has a rational bone in their body away from that toxic heap.

When I joined the atheist community, women were empowered to be leaders, brash and bold as much as “the next guy”. Fast forward to today, and suddenly women are delicate flowers who for some reason need to be protected by PZ’s form of social justice. Fainting couches for all! Oh yes.. PZ.. you’re sex positive. Sure thing. The only thing that is sex positive about FTB and the horde is that its OK when they make rape jokes, write books about rape and trivialize the lived experiences of other women. Its OK when FTB blogwits stalk and harass other women.

55 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Mel – “I feel sorry for Myers. All those years ago he nominated himself as “The Fifth Horseman” of atheism. He said he’d be the one carrying a flag that said “Internet” on it. The man actually believed himself to be the LEADER OF INTERNET ATHEISM. He set out to write a book which, he said, should put him right up there with Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens, Harris, and secure the status he believes himself entitled to. He learned it ain’t easy to write a book, complained about that for a while, and a few years later finally gave up and published a bunch of old blog posts. I know I’m not the only one embarrassed for him.”

Yes, this is sad and embarassing. But it becomes more disturbing when you consider that Myers urged his Flock to order the book in advance without disclosing that it was not going to be an original piece of writing but a collection of recycled blog posts. And it gets worse. When his friend Greg Laden reviewed The Happy Atheist, Laden brazenly lied that it was not, I repeat, NOT a collection of blog posts. Not long before the book became available Myers approvingly linked to this review. Is that something an honest person would do?

I wonder how many of his fans were duped into buying his sad little bundle, believing that it was going to be on a par with something written by Dawkins. Hahaha.

I have a word for people like Myers.

56 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 8:31 pm

citizenjane,

With all due respect, I would submit that Hitchens, et. al. were making strident arguments regarding atheism and skepticism. The attacks that Mr. Nugent points out are not related to atheism and skepticism. It’s one thing to describe religion-proscribed genital mutilation in frank and “offensive” terms…it’s quite another to accuse virtually all prominent male skeptics of sexual impropriety and to encourage followers to do the same. If the FTB people would rather be a feminist social justice group, that’s fine…they just need to stop tearing down those who still care about atheism and skepticism.

Hitchens despised Kissinger because of the war crimes he felt the man committed. He didn’t publish third-hand accounts of serial rape that, years later, are still being fine-tuned by PZ and his friends.

Your desire to “swim” in racism and ableism and discussions of these problems is fine. I’m not quite sure why you seem to think that solving these problems is the responsibility of the secular/skeptical community or what is gained by an organization like CFI renting space to (arguable) members of the community who want to pillory others as abusers, based upon their skewed definitions of the word.

57 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 8:53 pm

cityzenjane – “Face it – the “atheist” movement – has a conservative and a progressive wing.”

Ah, the old ‘false dilemma’ gambit by another dishonest cult member from the Flock of PZ Myers. Let me guess, all the good people are in the ‘progressive’ wing and all the reactionary cis-het white dudes are in the conservative wing.

Us versus Them. It’s the black-and-white thinking that characterizes the lazy, authoritarian thinker, the kind of people that are attracted by the simple binary world view of Myers and his acolytes. The arrogance of pretending to have all the right answers is palbable whenever people like cityzenjane string a bunch of SJW cliches together. It’s a small miracle that she didn’t use the expression ‘Feminism 101′ yet.

What a pity that you can’t send people to re-education camps, right, cityzenjane? What a pity that you’re just a silly little keyboard warrior instead.

58 An Ardent Skeptic September 17, 2014 at 8:59 pm

For those who wish to equate what P.Z. Myers does with what Hitchens did, perhaps you should watch the documentary “Collision” – a film about the debate tour featuring Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson. Hitchens not only enjoyed debating Wilson, he respected Wilson’s ability to make arguments which aren’t easily dismissed. Hitchens wanted the intellectual stimulation of well-reasoned debate. P.Z. Myers, OTOH, writes vicious, simplistic rubbish about people he dislikes, while steadfastly refusing to consider alternative points of views.

59 FunknJunk September 17, 2014 at 9:03 pm

@ Shermertron – I honestly do not understand the attitude that PZ and others are trying to “tear down those who still care about atheism and skepticism” … multiple women have come forth talking about the accusations against Shermer. Dawkins has been under fire because his defense of Shermer showed embarrassingly bad thinking and egregious victim-blaming the likes of which I would never want anyone in a leadership position to be publicizing. You remind me of the people who are pissed about those who blew the whistle on torture in the US, and not the …. ACTUAL torturers. I don’t get it at all. Pointing out the fact that Dawkins’ tweets are unbelievably grotesque examples of sexism and rape apologia and the discussion that follows because of his prominence in being one of the most recognized faces of Atheism surely cannot be the problem here. Surely the problem is … one of the most prominent faces of Atheism MADE those tweets. This is not tearing down, this is trying to get a supposedly clear thinker to …. think clearly.

60 bluharmony September 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Another voice of reason emerges. However, when Myers was attacking creationists, he lied about them too. I even did an entire podcast on that topic. People are noticing it more now because it hits closer to home. Dishonesty to further a personal ideological agenda cannot and should not be excused. It’s easy to like Myers in person, but that is merely a facade he puts on. Overall, he couldn’t care less about people, justice, education, facts, or women.

61 latsot September 17, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Michael, there is no culture of demonising people. The very idea is absurd. PZ (and many others) have *criticised* the actions of some people who enjoy a great deal of status in the atheist/skeptic movement. They’ve also criticised lots of people who don’t. And that’s rather the point, isn’t it? Criticism has to be even-handed. As a movement or community or whatever we are, we have to be able to take it as well as give it out. Indeed, if we can’t examine the actions and beliefs of our own members then we have no business considering ourselves enlightened.

There is very little reasonable doubt that Michael Shermer has behaved disgracefully on a number of occasions, regardless of whether Allison Smith’s very plausible claim is true. Several other people have claimed that Shermer has harassed them sexually and there’s evidence that corroborates at least some if not all of these claims. You can find it easily enough if you care to look. PZ reported Alison’s claim at her request, not to demonise Shermer but to protect other women. I can’t imagine why reporting someone’s account of rape is demonising. I can’t imagine how reporting Shermer’s presto-changeo incompatible accounts of the night in question is demonising. I can’t imagine why you say PZ (or anyone else) is demonising Michael Shermer by reporting credible, evidenced claims of numerous sexual assaults.

Dawkins – someone I have admired most of my life – is revealing himself as a sexist buffoon. At first I shared PZ’s conviction that he was probably just a bit clueless about how his tweets were being received and that he meant no harm. It’s increasingly clear that this isn’t the case. He seems deliberately antagonistic toward people who disagree with him *because* they disagree with him and refuses to engage in reasonable discussion. In his open letter to Dawkins, PZ urged him to raise his consciousness, as Dawkins himself has urged so many others to do so many times. Many others have begged him to do the same. The fact that he’s refused to do so is his own business. The fact that he’s replied only with utter contempt is an excellent reason to ridicule and castigate him.

This is not demonising. It’s criticism. Entirely justified criticism. In some cases it is criticism of character as well as action. I think that’s unavoidable when talking about a long history of bad behaviour. Many of us feel that such people shouldn’t be seen as leaders of our community or movement. They don’t speak for us and we’d rather they didn’t speak for atheism, skepticism or humanism. Because some of the things they say are deeply misguided at best.

You are indeed wrong. Examine the evidence for yourself instead of tone policing. Look at what Dawkins and Sommers have written. Look at the evidence against Shermer. And if the allegations against Shermer are true he damn well *should* be demonised.

62 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Funknjunk –

First of all, way to attack me! PZ has taught you well.

The accusations against Shermer fail the test a skeptic should apply to all modes of thinking. (I’m not sure I should even enact the labor to try and point out the many glaring inconsistencies and what happens when people play “telephone” and when definitions of words change on PZ’s whim.) Oh, why didn’t you mention the male who accused Shermer of rape? Sure, the young man was clearly mentally ill, but we should believe the accusers, right?

Will you apply your own logic regarding rape accusations to PZ himself? He was accused of impropriety by a female student. Now, I honestly don’t believe the accusation for a moment, but we should believe the accuser, right? It doesn’t seem as though the accusation was dealt with in a Title IX-compliant way. Don’t you think that PZ, champion of womanhood and lifelong feminist after 2011, would demand that Title IX be followed?

You used the phrase “Unbelievably grotesque examples of sexism and rape apologia.” I’m sorry to say that this is incredibly sensationalist. Are you saying that a person should be put in jail under the example Dawkins himself uses? If you do, you clearly believe FTBlogger Jason Thibeault to be guilty of the crime with which he was accused. His ex-girlfriend leveled a very serious accusation at him: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2013/08/10/the-web-of-trust-why-i-believe-shermers-accusers/ Again, I honestly don’t think Thibeault did anything improper at all, but he and other FTBloggers have used the EXACT same reasoning to indict Shermer and others by Internet. (Bill Nye, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss, DJ Grothe, etc.)

Where is the reality in these situations? Were these anonymous accusers, whose stories we’ve never heard simply making up what they say they experienced? Did PZ used his power to ensure there was no real investigation of this powerful matter? Is Thibeault simply calling the woman crazy and blaming her misunderstanding of the situation on mental illness?

Gee…it almost seems as if FTB is governed by a black-and-white tribal worldview that dictates that those in the outgroup are evil and anyone in the group, no matter their sins, are good.

63 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm

“Michael, there is no culture of demonising people. The very idea is absurd … Dawkins – someone I have admired most of my life – is revealing himself as a sexist buffoon.”

The online atheist movement, where irony goes to die.

64 doubtthat September 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm

“The accusations against Shermer fail the test a skeptic should apply to all modes of thinking.”

As an attorney who has worked on a number of these cases in the legal system, you are wrong. Your post is just a series of irrelevant rhetorical questions. If that’s what we call “skepticism,” then the quicker we distance ourselves from that type of rambling sophistry, the better.

65 latsot September 17, 2014 at 9:37 pm

No, Minnow. I wasn’t demonising Dawkins. I was calling him names. Justified names. Different.

66 FunknJunk September 17, 2014 at 9:37 pm

@ Shermerton – I will only note that any objective reader can see that I did not attack you. And that’s the way you being your latest comment. Along with the patronising and strange “PZ taught you well”. I haven’t taken any classes from PZ, but would consider it if I were in the Midwest of course … :–)

67 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

“Huh? What is not personal , abusive or aggressive about saying some people are doing it for the money or that they are bullies or that they are thought police?”

None of these things constitute abuse to my mind, if I am accused of them, I consider them things I can argue against. But even if they were, they are not personal, ‘some people’ is ‘some people’. This stuff isn’t hard.

Personally I feel more insulted if you call me a bully than if you say my brain has been eaten by parasites. YMMV.

68 Phil Giordana FCD September 17, 2014 at 9:40 pm

doubtthat:

“As an attorney”

You should have started with that.

69 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 9:41 pm

“No, Minnow. I wasn’t demonising Dawkins. I was calling him names. Justified names. Different.”

You were indulging in aggressive personal abuse. You think it is justified, but abusers always do. The point is we will do better, we are more likely to come to some sort of agreement or make intellectual progress, if that stops.

70 Guestus Aurelius September 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

I think it’s time to start Atheism Minus.

71 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 9:49 pm

FunknJunk –

You seem to have forgotten to read the next of my post.

I’m not hurt that you attacked me, I’m just pointing out that you said the following: “You remind me of the people who are pissed about those who blew the whistle on torture in the US, and not the …. ACTUAL torturers. I don’t get it at all.”

So I remind you of people who protect and defend those who commit treason? Those who commit human rights violations? What does that make me? Surely sounds like an insult to me.

Any public statement regarding the accusations against PZ and Lousy Canuck? I’d be happy to have these kinds of discussions on FTB, but…you know. Banhappy. Frowny face.

72 latsot September 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Minnow:

“abusers always do”.

I say it’s justified because of the evidence. I’ve read his tweets.

73 doubtthat September 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Sick burn, Phil.

74 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

“As for the refusal to educate… You must understand the demand comes about 100 times a day – from people who REFUSE to come to the discussion with even the most basic grounding in terms they are attempting to refute … It is a demand on my time.”

It’s a bit OT but I find this particular pathology fascinating. You see a lot of this on Pharyngula and elsewhere on the atheist/freethought blogs and it is plain weird. The idea that someone is making a demand on an unknown, unseen blog commenter by asking a question that said unseen commenter consider irrelevant, naive or obtuse and that this ‘demand’ justifies hostility is very strange. Why not simply ignore commenters that you think clueless or too wrong for words? That is what most of us do. I don’t think these types understand how very peculiar that way of thinking is.

75 Minnow September 17, 2014 at 9:54 pm

“I say it’s justified because of the evidence. I’ve read his tweets.”

Yes, but abusers always think their abuse is justified, even when others dispute it. That fact alone should make us wary. The safe path is to avoid all personal abuse. What does is achieve anyhow?

76 Phil Giordana FCD September 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

doubtthat:

“Sick burn, Phil.”

I do what I do :)

77 oolon September 17, 2014 at 9:59 pm

@CitizenJane nailed it, @49

If it isn’t tone trolling for “leaders” who are exclusively lionised by the atheist movement where is Nugent’s outrage at how theists are referred to by PZ etc? That’s fine and dandy, but not if they are one of “ours”. It is meant to be a strength of the free thought community, valuing the quality of someone’s arguments not their tone, not caring if they are part of our in-group or outside it. Apparently here that is not of importance, protect the “leaders” is no1 priority.

Again, protect them over many women’s (and one man’s, Dallas Haugh’s) testimony that a “leader” of the movement is a sexual predator. Then it becomes “unreported serious crimes” with the implication it is all made up, or they should be quiet in the presence of the great male “leaders” and not dare speak up over such trivialities as rape.

78 FunknJunk September 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

@ Shermerton – That’s an attack? I don’t think so. But I see this a PZ hate-fest, and folks are now diving into the weeds and minutiae of comment sections, in which I am not interested. So I’ll bow out. PZ can defend himself. Anything said in the comment section of Pharyngula is easily matched or outstripped in viciousness by things said in other forums that claim to be its “opposition” for lack of a better term. I’ll just note once again that Michael and the folks here seem to be wroth with people pointing out blatant sexism and poor thinking, and not the actual perpetrators of such. Which is the point … that you missed.

79 oolon September 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

^^ Aneris, picking out dead comments after a years worth of comment policy change. Has the comment policy changed at the Slymepit Aneris? If not then this will do nicely to demonstrate your false equivalence…
http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/

80 dave kiernan September 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm

great article by Michael. As an auld (Irish for old) uncle of mine from Kerry used to say in the `70’s, “ah the mickey business”, as yet another prominent Tory politician was caught with anyone but his wife, could have been Secretary, Call girl etc. Life is too short, the Atheist Movement is doing a great job. I never hear anything from the `quiet Atheists’.

81 piero September 17, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Finally a reasonable blog post about the current killing spree! It is a much needed breath of fresh air. I fully agree with Michael, and like him I am also willing to change my mind, if new information is made available on any of the issues mentioned.

There is, however, one concession I’m not prepared to make: I’m not willing to let irrationality take hold in atheist discourse. Unfortunately, that’s what most FTB bloggers are asking us to do. Take, for example, the Shermer affair; I cannot comment on it, because all I know is that some women accused him of having raped them and he denied it. There’s no possible way for me to determine what really happened; yet for saying as much I was accused of ignorance, victim blaming, hyperscepticism, misogyny and general disgustingness. And I see the same being done by some commenters in this thread. “Are you casting doubts on women’s statements? How dare you!” The issue is not, of course, that I don’t believe the statements, but that I have no good reason to either believe them or not believe them; but a suitable framing of the question makes me appear to have said that I don’t believe them. Because they are women. And because I am a disgusting shitstain. Stalin could have learned a thing or two about brain washing with this lot.

Fortunately, the lunatic fringe is condemned to remain lunatically in the fringe. Social change, real social change, the kind we actually want and can actually be achieved, will pass them by, and they will for ever ruminate the ponderous question: “Why isn’t it US who are running the show? We are so superior! We could educate THEM!”

82 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm

latsot – “I say it’s justified because of the evidence. I’ve read his tweets.”

I feel justified calling you a deranged Social Justice Warrior because of the evidence. I’ve read your comments.

See how this works?

83 piero September 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm

aneris, that was just awesome. Thank you.

84 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Is that the same Greta Christina who wrote Bending, a collection of rape fantasy stories?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00CBWYT5C/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1410991822&sr=8-3&pi=SY200_QL40

85 latsot September 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Jan, yes I do see how it works. I don’t consider your opinion abuse.

86 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 10:14 pm

FunknJunk -=

Your statement explicitly implied that I am somehow equivalent to those who support offenses that should never happen to a person.

You said I remind you of a person who would rather cover up torture than have that evil exposed to the world.

FTB is exactly the kind of place that breeds and feeds on that hyperbole. We can’t just disagree; one of us must be evil. Dawkins never advocated rape. He merely suggested that rape convictions be founded on evidence. Those who blast him on FTB choose not to understand Dawkins’s point and to demonize him as a rape apologist instead.

Still no comment as to whether you believe PZ’s and Thibeault’s VERY MUCH alleged “victims”?

87 latsot September 17, 2014 at 10:16 pm

“Unfortunately, that’s what most FTB bloggers are asking us to do.”

Hey, Piero, without looking do you know how many bloggers there are on FTB? You ought to since you know what most of them are apparently asking you to do.

88 Shermertron September 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Shatterface –

Yes, but she points out that anyone who notices the hypocrisy is “kink shaming”.

https://t.co/UeBQxEU4ZM

Oh, and we’ve somehow all forgotten the ludicrous and disproven arguments against Ben Radford. Crazy, huh? We were all friends a few years ago.

89 piero September 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

aneris:

Yes, it appears that rape is an terrible thing when a penis and a vagina are involved. Joking about it is off-limits. But jokes about male-to-male rape are OK. Because the sheep said so. Baaah. Baaah.

90 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Yes, but she points out that anyone who notices the hypocrisy is “kink shaming”.

Kink is leather boots and gimp masks; non-consensual sex is rape.

The fact the rape in these stories is intended for masturbatory purposes rather than, say, to illustrate the harshness of a fantasy world (as it might be in a video game) makes it more offensive, not less.

When did feminism become ‘No means No, but deep down women enjoy it?’

Is this the feminism of Straw Dogs?

91 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I notice that the PZ apologists studiously ignore the evidence I just provided of his blatant dishonesty. I wonder why.

It is in fact typical cult behaviour. Turning a blind eye to the guru’s transgressions for the sake of the greater good. When the guru was called Jim Jones this wilfull blindness once had disastrous consequences. Fortunately, there is no reason to believe that Myers will lure his commentariat into a distant jungle to commit mass suicide. He will not turn into a homicidal maniac, there’s no need to worry about that: he’s already turned into one of Dawkins’s many fleas instead.

92 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 10:43 pm

lansot – “Jan, yes I do see how it works. I don’t consider your opinion abuse.”

That’s fine. But do you consider it justified? After all, I did claim to have read your comments. By your own standard that should be enough justification for the name calling.

93 Edward Gemmer September 17, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Good stuff.

Politicians often try to be “tough on crime” by creating and imposing draconian sentences on people, invent ways to circumvent their rights, and pin all the cost and responsibility on the criminals. Every critique of these policies can be met with “well you must be soft on crime.”

Research tends to show these types of policies cost a lot of money and have little to no effect on crime rates. Indeed, they can exacerbate crime by disrupting families and creating more poverty. Further, they can have terrible effects on traditionally oppressed classes such as the poor or racial minorities.

I don’t think this situation is that different. PZ (and many others) support feminism, among the many “isms” that exist. PZ says Dawkins talks like a “member of NAMBLA.” He’s been “eaten by brain parasites.” There are many other examples, and Dawkins is hardly the sole target. All of this abuse is heaped on people in the name of feminism.

However, there isn’t a lot of evidence that PZ (and others) is actually helping feminism. In fact, given the huge amount of acrimony and abuse that many women in the community actually receive, there is little reason to think he’s been any help at all. He’s managed to turn Richard Dawkins, of all people, against the cause of feminism. The Slymepit is filled with liberals who used to identify as feminists.

When people actually start to turn away from your cause because of you, perhaps it is time to be a little more thoughtful.

94 aneris September 17, 2014 at 10:45 pm

The rationale behind PZ Myers et al behaviours was recently summed up by Greta Christina and endorsed by PZ Myers, Ed Brayton and others of the Social Justice League (formerly known as the Atheism Plus faction). Greta Christina writes in an open letter to the atheist community…

“[…] Atheists, […] Is there any line that you think should not be crossed? Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them? […] Will you really support the work of absolutely anyone, regardless of how vile their behavior has been, as long as they say one thing you happen to agree with? […] Shunning is an extreme measure. It is a last resort. We are a social species, we need other people, and deliberately pushing someone out of a community is a strong and harsh response to bad behavior. […]” – Greta Christina, Is there any line that you think should not be crossed?

Of course, Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Ed Brayton et al fail to mention their own porcupine shock-rape imagery that is, or was common in their community. In an amazing act of projection, strong enough to notify the aliens on Betelgeuse, they believe that other people are the ones who need to be shunned and shamed. Greta Christina herself establishes that apologies someone has made in the meantime do not count. In other words, Greta Christina, Ed Brayton, and all the other supporters of the Shun & Shame letter can begin by banning their own community, then they can proceed by banning each other, since whatever improvements they have made (in silence), it doesn’t count by their own rules.

This is just one of the many comical examples of their hypocrisy…

Exaggerated! Where’s the evidence! But they have called such behaviours out, haven’t they? Tu quoque! We all know their stock responses that convince nobody but their most obtuse sheep. The official Pharyngula Wiki notes:

Under the article “memes”:

“A list of memes used on Pharyngula …Rusty Knife…Porcupine”

Under “rusty knifes”…

“Predecessor meme to the Porcupine. Derives from a frequently mis-quoted post by Cath the Canberra Cook, on a thread concerning Bill Donohue’s rape apologetics: “Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the “no-one ever deserves to be raped” line. And also 100% opposed to torture. But rape and torture apologists really make that position hard to sustain. Fuck that shithead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)” (bold by me)

Note the argument there, “nobody deserves to be raped, usually, but some people make that position hard to sustain”. Yes, that is on the Pharyngula wiki presently. And screenshotted, and web.archived just in case you stare at nothing. And it’s exactly that wiki that is placed on the sidebar o FreeThoughtBlogs, just in case dear Social Justice warrior looks for some other way to weasel around the issue.

I can forsee that people will handwave it away as ironic use, merely metaphorical, a joke. We’re not stupid to know that these “defenses” never counted and never worked if the situations were reversed, that is when someone else, i.e. Richard Dawkins or a “follower” used such language. It is even worse. As the wiki notes, they were “memes”, that means, popular and in widespread use.

Already last year friend Skep Sheik notes:

“Pharyngula unique amongst atheist sites has, as part of their community rules and standards, an explicit promotion of sexually violent imagery as a means of abusing those it deems targets.”

Straight from Pharyngula’s “standard practices” page

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

This is by no means a Pharyngula issue. The porcupine was for example also turned into a surly amy necklace by Amy Roth. In other words, this holier-than-thou SkepChick took a rape imagery frequently used (a meme) meant to shock-insult newbies and even turned it into a “funny” accessoire. (imgur.com/U9vjiEB.jpg). The community is spread out on FreeThoughtBlogs and SkepChicks and has sympathizers elsewhere who shriek out loud whenever someone makes a tweet that could be misunderstood, yet there is nothing comparable when it comes to this widespread use of rape-imagery Greta Christina claims to be shame and shun worthy.

That is of course a mere tip of Mauna Kea after the flood. Here is a small sample someone called the “Pharyngula Death Wish Derby”…

“You go fuck yourself. Get something heavy and sharp. Die whilst doing it, if possible”
– Brownian (AnthonyK)
“Sorry, I forgot … fuck off and die.”
– Josh Official Spokesgay
“Go play in a busy freeway. All of you.”
– Josh Official Spokesgay
“Fuck off and die. Seriously”
– Josh Official Spokesgay
“Seriously. Please die. I mean that.”
– Josh Official Spokesgay
AHAHHAHA I hope you get hit by a car! Seriously! Play in the street”
– Ing
“You are fucking tiresome and I wish you would shove a rotten porcupine up your ass”
– Cipher, OM

These are regular commenters and for example well connected to Ophelia Benson on twitter. Mrs. Benson made the news recently as someone who allegedly has high moral principles. Mrs Benson is only very skeptical and can detect the smallest off-connotation when it goes against her own interest. She is formidable, as are the others, in mental gymnastics.

Now, that you’ve seen a little bit, let’s return to Greta Christina and Ed Brayton… (do read their articles with this rape imagery information in mind). Ed Brayton refercing Greta Christina writes in “Yes, some people should be shunned” (…but not from our team)

“Yes, I recognize that most of those subscribers and those promoting his videos are probably unaware of his inhumane behavior. [of using rape/sexualized shock imagery to insult] All the more reason that it be pointed out each and every time you see someone sharing one of his videos, as I’ve begun doing. And if you’re one of those people who responds with “well yeah he’s a jerk, but he’s entertaining,” quite frankly, that’s just fucked. It is time to shun him in every way we possibly can, drum him out of the world of organized atheism to whatever extent it can be done. If we can’t do that, we have failed completely to uphold even minimal standards of behavior.”

There is much more to say about their dishonest methods, their ideology and rationalisation, but I leave it that for now. As a fan of mental gymnastics, I am curious as to what Ed Brayton, Greta Christina, PZ Myers et al have to say about this, but don’t bother with a lame leap by pointing to a hidden sentence in a random comment section. The standard to measure against is your outrage culture and week-month-three-year long drama, not a single comment somewhere that you now consider the porcupine as tasteless. That won’t do. All of the quotes are also pulled from the current sites. If this was such a big deal, according to your outrage-standards, then why do you keep it there and why don’t you add a huge red disclaimer warning? Please keep this in mind.

95 aneris September 17, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Oolon wrote: ^^ Aneris, picking out dead comments after a years worth of comment policy change. Has the comment policy changed at the Slymepit Aneris? If not then this will do nicely to demonstrate your false equivalence…

The information I have provided is on the current Pharyngula wiki, which is currently linked to the sidebar of FTB. There is nothing on the respective pages that suggests that something has changed. I pulled the other information from the “Pharyngula Standards & Practices” and nothing suggests that the information is outdated or superceded by some other information. I do know that PZ Myers, after Chris Clarke has left, has requested to tone down a bit, however I am not aware that he, or any other blogger there has ever adequately worked out their previous policies. If so, it should be easy to provide us with discussions and articles where we can see that the community has adequately apologized and accepted that they did some things wrong in the past. If you can’t produce anything to that effect, I politely suggest that we agree that you have NOTHING. In that case please don’t waste our time with rationalisations and distractions.

Further, I am using the standard PZ Myers, Ed Brayton, Greta Christina et al expect of others and the yardstick is how they perceive and react to certain issues. As shown in the example, apologizies and corrections do not count, according to Ed Brayton and Greta Christina. By the way the spark in question was a comment someone made 8 years ago. Don’t tell me about that some things are an old hat. They aren’t for Greta Christina, PZ Myers and Ed Brayton et al.

We are to be reminded at all times of what someone has said, and that is meant to stick to their name like a scarlet letter branded onto their cheek. See Ed Brayton’s explicit comments to that effect. It is to be used to shame and shun someone. Further, if apologies do not count, then in principle any apology they may have presented in the past is — by their own standards — to be discarded. Since I strongly suspect that such an apology doesn’t even exist, this may be a moot point anyway. Again, their standards not mine.

I am also applying the standards these people have routinely demanded of others in the slightest of transgression. Remember all the “notpologies” when someone didn’t hang their head in shame long enough. The same rule should apply to them. A remark somewhere that porcupines ain’t cool anymore won’t be enough. That is not even a notpology.

This all is once more supported by the general attitude by Greta Christina, PZ Myers et al. They aren’t merely asking someone to stop using certain language. They aren’t merely suggesting that someone apologizes. These issues are always escalated to maximum hostility. The social justice warrior will pretend that there is only one, their way, to react to certain situation and that all other ways were literally indefensible–shun and shame-worthy. If that is so, then all I have written above applies doubly to them. After all, someone who loudly proclaims something better be sure about the thing they are so cocksure about!

Finally, these blogs and community spaces are organized top-down. There are hosts on top who make very clear that certain comments won’t be tolerated on their spaces (which is entirely their prerogative of course). The flipside is that they are responsible for whatever appears on the blog. If someone is very rigorous a moderator and deletes all sorts of comments then whatever remains will be perceived as tacitly endorsed (proportional to the moderation).

This is especially true for PZ Myers and co, who don’t shy away to ban any slight transgression; or Ophelia Benson and Stephanie Zvan and the like who tightly control what goes through moderation. They have a tendency to leave through whatever helps their side forward, and when it’s trolls to illustrate that the “other side” has no good arguments (the good arguments and evidence never sees daylight). By the same logic, various views can be safely attributed to PZ Myers and co. For example gender-sex as social construct. It’s a view held by commenters and was advanced at FTBCon.

PZ Myers is usually someone who is very outspoken when someone goes against the grain, yet is silent on these issues. I am not aware that he ever set the record straight on the Teh Patriarchy™ conspiracy theory. Teh Patriarchy™ is the ill-defined catch-all term for some evil out there, and very different from “the patriarchy”, as a concrete system where only men are in possession of goods, and thought as the rulers of the family and where ownership of women is transferred from fathers to husbands in a transaction called marriage. Evidently, this patriarchy cannot do the things Teh Patriarchy™ does on a regular basis, according to the social justice warrior crowds. So, when PZ Myers has a big problem with some issues and can write about these things four times a day, and has nothing on the all the dubious views that float around in his community, we are forced to assume he tacitly endorses these things. Again, by contrast, I do not automatically endorse what some other commenter writes into a forum, especially when it is made explicit that everyone is responsible for their stuff.

96 Jan Steen September 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Sorry, I meant latsot, not lansot. This stupid keyboard doesn’t know what I want to type.

97 Crackity Jones September 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Oolon linking to a piece by Nugent about harassment of women. Ain’t that quaint.

Oolon is responsible for a lot of abuse against a number of feminists in the atheist movement. Then, of course, there is his vulgar “babysitting” comment. I really don’t want to explain it hear, but it is disgusting.

He is not welcome in any community, as far as I’m concerned.

98 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm

However, there isn’t a lot of evidence that PZ (and others) is actually helping feminism. In fact, given the huge amount of acrimony and abuse that many women in the community actually receive, there is little reason to think he’s been any help at all. He’s managed to turn Richard Dawkins, of all people, against the cause of feminism. The Slymepit is filled with liberals who used to identify as feminists.

Dawkins hasn’t turned against feminism, he’s turned against what’s passing for ‘feminism’ on FTB: go back and read Benson’s incisive criticism of radical feminism and epistemically relativism in Why Truth Matters and try to reconcile that with all the emotion-is-best, women’s-ways-of-knowing guff currently being spouted on FTB.

FTB is page after page of emotional appeal, emotional blackmail, veneration of irrationality and quasi-mystical horseshit lifted from Wicca.

99 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 17, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’m proud to say that I DID challenge Myers’ hostility to creationists, and was vigorously hounded out of Pharyngula as a result. It pretty much soured me on him, and made me see that he was the sort of person who, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, would nail someone to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change. This was at least ten years ago. Ever since Elevatorgate, I’ve been fond of saying that I got kicked out of Pharyngula before getting kicked out of Pharyngula became cool.

As far as Myers and his imitators making any kind of amends, there’s really only one gesture that would impress me; and that’s to throw their comments sections completely open to any and all. Yes, even the ‘vile fuckwits’ who think Myers is a jerk. Yes, even if thousands of people descend upon Pharyngula and confront Myers with how out of touch he is with both mainstream atheism, and basic decency. If he did that, I’d be impressed.

100 Crackity Jones September 17, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Latto: “Michael, there is no culture of demonising people.”

Oh, go home. That is an astonishing claim to make.

PS – Is there really a more abusive and odious poster at Pharyngula than Josh Spokesgay? What a horrible human being.

PPS – Yes. I would like to hear more of the allegations against PZ Myers and Jason Thibeault. Remember, false claims are RARE!

101 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 17, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Brief correction: this took place just before the cracker incident, which would make it closer to seven years ago than ten.

102 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm

PS – Is there really a more abusive and odious poster at Pharyngula than Josh Spokesgay? What a horrible human being.

Let’s face it, anyone who’s nym announces they are the official spokesperson for an entire sexual orientation has to be a bit of a shit.

I’d also nominate Tony the Queer Stoop (what is it with people who make one aspect of their personality their entire identity?), Sally Strange and a couple of others I can’t spell and can’t be bothered looking up.

They’re basically PZ’s Rottweilers.

103 Shatterface September 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

PPS – Yes. I would like to hear more of the allegations against PZ Myers and Jason Thibeault. Remember, false claims are RARE!

I’d really like to read the transcript of PZ’s defence since he couldn’t accuse her of lying without denying her woman’s way of knowing.

How can anyone maintain their innocence if they are ideologically committed to believing their own accuser?

104 Dylan Llyr September 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

No, Michael, this will not do. I understand and sympathise with your desire to act as mediator, but in this case you come across as aloof.

You wrote a long article, but nowhere did you address the substance of Myers’ arguments. He was responding to sexist comments and to a serious sexual allegation (it’s now clear that the very kindest thing that can be said about Shermer is that he’s a creep who can’t be trusted around women). It’s worrying that you should choose to focus your attention on those who criticise sexist behaviour or statements rather than on the sexists themselves.

105 Edward Gemmer September 18, 2014 at 12:19 am

You wrote a long article, but nowhere did you address the substance of Myers’ arguments.

Calling someone a lying fucktard is not an argument.

106 Shermertron September 18, 2014 at 12:31 am

I’m amused that Dylan is threatening to demonize Mr. Nugent and is refusing to accept Mr. Nugent’s moderate stance in an article in which the author urges those in the movement not to demonize and ostracize moderates.

Dylan, PZ and Jason Thibeault have also reported that they have been accused of very serious sexual allegations. Neither PZ or Thibeault have had the allegations scrutinized by the police. (And PZ’s most certainly falls under Title IX, something PZ seemingly cares about.) Further, PZ is on tape insisting several times that he will have sex with a female audience member he doesn’t know. Not to mention the hentai that PZ often posted on his site. PZ is even the kind of guy who calls the mother of his children “Trophy Wife.”

Wow…sounds like we should focus our attention on his obvious sexism. Don’t you agree? Don’t you want to protect women? Don’t you like being assailed with the same logic you use?

107 Shermertron September 18, 2014 at 12:36 am

Shatterface –

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any police or administrative investigative record related to the young student’s allegation that PZ had sex with her. I don’t know why, but PZ doesn’t seem to want his innocence hammered into the police record. Nor does he want her false allegation to be noted in the statistics for his university.

Ironically, all we have is PZ’s testimony.

Here is his original post:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/15/bat-sex-is-not-protected-by-ac/#comment-824608

Here is PZ’s refinement of his earlier statement:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:JZ3jYvLz2SMJ:freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/03/03/oh-lord-the-stupid/+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

As for how PZ is innocent when we should “Believe the Victim,” well, as PZ points out, he “doesn’t harass women.” So…you know. He doesn’t harass women.

108 Shatterface September 18, 2014 at 12:58 am

You wrote a long article, but nowhere did you address the substance of Myers’ arguments. He was responding to sexist comments and to a serious sexual allegation (it’s now clear that the very kindest thing that can be said about Shermer is that he’s a creep who can’t be trusted around women). It’s worrying that you should choose to focus your attention on those who criticise sexist behaviour or statements rather than on the sexists themselves.

Why don’t you address the criticism that Myers uses sexually violent language (including object rape with rusty tools and dead animals) against his opponents? In what way is Harris’s comment more objectionable than advocating brutal sex-murders? If your first instinct on hearing an argument you disagree with is to fantasise about sexual mutilation instead of thinking of a counter-argument you have no business being in the atheist movement.

And why does Greta Christina get a free pass for her rape-porn?

These are people who up wrap their violent misogyny in feminist discourse.

In any case, the objections to Harris’s argument are inane. For years we’ve heard that the combative approach and aggressive tone of some atheists might be off-putting to women – and when a writer says that maybe his combative approach and aggressive tone puts off women suddenly he’s a monster.

109 Sally Strange September 18, 2014 at 1:17 am

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers has been central to the escalation of what some people call ‘the deep rifts’.

This is absolutely true, because PZ, like many others (including me), regards the existence between atheists who are feminists, and atheists who are misogynists, as a positive development, not a negative one.

110 Anton Kozlik September 18, 2014 at 2:00 am

I heartedly agree with the need for the establishment of a Society. The problem, of course, is that the Americans won’t consider anything that is “foreign grown” and if an American can’t lead the society, it is not going to happen because, believe it or not, Americanism IS a religion. Of all the atheist blogs I read regularly, I would think that Michael Nugent possesses the many strengths required to unify the world’s atheists. It sure as hell isn’t PZ, or others of his ilk.

111 Michael Nugent September 18, 2014 at 2:06 am

Ophelia wrote a blog post about this post.

I’ve responded to Ophelia here:

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/09/18/if-you-respond-to-what-i-have-actually-written-i-will-be-happy-to-discuss-it/

112 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 18, 2014 at 2:08 am

Who the hell is Ophelia?

113 Pogsurf September 18, 2014 at 3:17 am

When Myers sets out to demonise people, he knows exactly what he is up to with his small-town bullying. But what can we say about the people who hold him in high esteem, and go along with the culture? How is he able to dupe so many into believing that morality is just a black and white thing? He or she believes mostly what I believe, therefore they are good; and he or she believes something different from me, so they are bad.

Do any of the people who are willing to follow Myers, and there seem to be a good few on this thread, feel even just a little bit foolish for having a sense of morality which is no more developed than an old-time cowboy film (white hats good, black hats bad)? Are you unable to comprehend that human ethics may just be a little bit more complex than that? Do you realise that you are cheering on a bully, and enabling a mob mentality to prevail?

No?

Fair enough, carry on as per normal then. See you all in Hades’ realm.

114 spookiewon September 18, 2014 at 4:36 am

Shatterface, people who lack empathy have sociopathic personality disorder, not autism. People with autism feel empathy.

115 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 4:37 am

“But something seems to happen to him when he gets behind a keyboard. He routinely demonises people”

You know, there are some very funny photoshops on the Pit that make this exact same point. Interesting how different approaches converge on the same truth.

116 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 4:53 am

Anyway what does it matter.

By not siding with Alison Smith, Nugent has formally aligned with rape apologists. Behaviour one would expect from a white cis male infused with privilege.

The fact he is not thrown to the wolves is no doubt due to pragmatics. His current and projected utility outweighs his immediate demonisation. For now.

Michael. Your time will come.

117 Iamcuriousblue September 18, 2014 at 5:03 am

Thank you for writing this, Michael! This behavior by the “social justice” contingent in secularism, which PZ Myers is probable the best known example and in many ways the figurehead of, has been going on for years now. While this has been criticized by numerous people, it’s been mostly by folks who have a dog in the fight, or by those with politics that are clearly opposed to Myers and Co (I’m thinking particularly of Cathy Young, who’s done some good journalism on the topic), hence, all too easily written off as libertarian/conservative/sexist backlash against the feminist/’social justice’ movement. Your criticisms, coming from someone who’s not part of a ‘side’, are really important in establishing that complaints about the horrific behavior of too many “social justice warriors” are well-founded and not just partisan whining.

Some key problems (mostly this is aimed at the “social justice ‘side'”, but much of it can be generalized to all sides of the issue):

1) The extremely tribal nature of the “social justice” ingroup, which sees those with even minor disagreements as not just wrong, but outright enemies. The kind of nastiness discussed at comment 23 above is typical, and is exactly what drove me to the ‘other side’. Hard to believe at this point in the game, but Greta Christina was once one of my favorite bloggers, but some extremely unpleasant treatment by her and her commentariat changed my mind thoroughly on that score.

2) Related to the above, a culture where the commentariat and fellow bloggers pile on and generally egg on each others worst behavior. There’s a lot of too-broad criticisms of comments sections going around (ironically, often by pro-SJ folks), but I actually think there’s a lot that can be done to keep ‘commentariat culture’ from turning toxic, even without heavy-handed moderation. The comments section of Pharyngula and many other FTB/SJ blogs are textbook examples of how toxic online cultures are built.

3) The whole anti “tone policing” thing – the idea that if one is making a “righteous” argument, one shouldn’t hold back on the vitriol. In fact, supposedly “righteous anger” is more effective at changing minds, because this acts as “stigma” against such and supposedly shames people into reforming their ideas. The lack of basic knowledge of social psychology (or event rhetorical effectiveness) is stunning.

4) Grotesque double standards. Even minor criticisms of ‘social justice’ positions mark one as an enemy and a ‘troll’. This goes double for certain individuals like Amy Roth or Melody Hensley. Publicly disagree with them in any way, and you’re accused of taking part in a campaign of criminal harassment. As for the rhetoric of the SJ folks? See #3 – even the most vile personal attacks are written off as ‘criticism’.

Finally, the problem with this atmosphere is that polarization just feeds on itself. I don’t agree with a lot of the positions Dawkins has taken on a number of social issues, but I think he’s somebody who would be amenable to changing his mind if he was engaged with in a reasoned way. Instead, I’ve seen him called a ‘misogynist’ from the get go, with his critics rarely fail to come across as the worst caricatures of Jacobin leftism imaginable. To which Dawkins has responded to by doubling down and becoming more hardened in his positions. Ditto for much else that’s wrong with the secular milieu – polarization and radicalization aren’t exactly helping make matters better.

118 Tony September 18, 2014 at 5:16 am

Michael,
You didn’t even address the substance of the criticisms of Dawkins, Harris, and Shermer. You handwaved them away as if they were unimportant.

Dawkins has engaged in victim blaming with his comments comparing rape to drunk driving-there’s no comparison. He minimized the impact of child sexual abuse not just in comments in the last year, but going back to The God Delusion. His comments on stranger rape vs date rape were insensitive at best, and massively ignorant and insulting at worst.

Your defense of Michael Shermer is ghastly. You clearly do not believe Alison Smith. You clearly side with Michael Shermer, and show that you don’t believe women when they say they’ve been raped. Or perhaps you simply don’t believe that well known, popular atheists can be capable of rape, despite the fact that rape is ubiquitous in society and is committed by people across all social levels.

You don’t bother to mention WHY PZ has criticized Sam Harris. You don’t address the fact that Sam Harris’ comments are based on unevidenced assertions that he’s treating as fact. He embraces just-so explanations about human behavior, and doesn’t even both to provide evidence that his opinions are true.

I can clearly see that you’re siding with the Slymepitters, the people who have been bullying others for years. You side with the harassers, who want to keep the status quo the way things are. You’re siding with those who oppose anti-harassment policies. You’re siding with a crowd that doesn’t want things to get better. You’re siding with the crowd opposed to progress. You’re siding with the crowd who wants to focus on Big Tent atheism at the expense of the little people they’re crushing along the way.

Supporting Sam Harris’ sexism is bad enough.
Supporting the victim blaming apologist treated as the atheist pope-he who is beyond criticism (and he who seems to think there are some subjects that should be treated as off limits to criticism)-aka Richard Dawkins is even worse.
What takes the cake is your dismissal of the rape of Alison Smith. The fact that you could deny her testimony, and support a serial harasser and rapist like Michael Shermer is absolutely reprehensible.

You won’t be, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
I hope the next time you write such a long winded, vapid criticism of others, you take the time to actually address the arguments presented.

119 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 5:36 am

Let me present FtB mindset. Negotiate with that!

Over to you tonyinbatavia at Benson’s house of reasonable debate.
……………………………………………..

Maybe I should have seen it earlier, but it turns out that Michael Nugent is nothing but an epic tone troll.

Go ahead, Michael, go ahead and look past all the heinousness — of Shermer, of Harris, of Dawkins, of Sommers, of the whole lot of them — and declare that PZ Myers is responsible for escalating the deep rifts because, basically, he “demonises” people. Just go ahead and ignore the actual rotting core of the movement. Ignore the actual words these asswipes have said. Ignore the evidence presented of sexual assault. The real problem here, according to you, is that PZ has the temerity to call these assholes out on their heinousness with an indignant tone because it’s “counterproductive” for “tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society.” The thinking is, apparently, that all those good and wonderful leaders just have a different approach to supporting equality.

Bullshit.

Their approach to supporting equality is to actively not support it. It’s evident they don’t want social justice and that they are actively banding together to discourage those who do. They are doing everything they can to ensure that an already-cloistered movement does not take real action to be inclusive by continually berating and trying to minimize those who do. If you have paid attention at all to what has transpired in the last week and concluded that PZ is the issue, and not them, then you are part of the real problem.

I hope PZ et al (“for shortcut”) keep at it with a vengeance. Something PZ et al offer that too few with weight in the movement offer are active consciences and a willingness to call out all the naked emperors. For Nugent to tone troll and try to shame the too-few-but-much-needed movement ombudsmen while ignoring the problems created by our so-called leaders is pathetic. Providing cover for heinousness is itself pretty damned heinous. Nugent’s post is heinous.

120 Silentbob September 18, 2014 at 6:08 am

@ 112 Steve Vanden-Eykel

Gee, I dunno. Do you think if you clicked on Michael’s link, followed the link to what he’s responding to, and read the bio on that page, or even typed the person’s full name into Google, that might be one possible way to cure your ignorance? Could be! Give it a try.

121 Dylan Llyr September 18, 2014 at 6:09 am

Where on earth have I threatened to demonise anyone? I enjoy reading this blog. I simply noted that Michael wrote a lengthy post that doesn’t, at any point, make any effort to address the substance of what Myers et al say when they criticise Sommers, Dawkins and Shermer etc. Even if you disagree, you can’t hope to make meaningful comment here if you don’t address the actual arguments that are being made. As it is, this attempt to appear above it all does, in fact, amount to nothing more than tone trolling.

122 Jan Steen September 18, 2014 at 6:30 am

Sally Strange – “This is absolutely true, because PZ, like many others (including me), regards the existence between atheists who are feminists, and atheists who are misogynists, as a positive development, not a negative one.”

How convenient that all atheists can be classified as either being feminists or misogynists. Let me guess, a ‘feminist’ is merely someone who believes that women are people too, amirite?

No Sally, you’re an equivocating intellectual fraud, just like your guru PZ Myers. Why don’t you comment on his proven fraudulent behaviour (see above)?

123 Linda September 18, 2014 at 7:06 am

#109 Sally Strange

“This is absolutely true, because PZ, like many others (including me), regards the existence between atheists who are feminists, and atheists who are misogynists, as a positive development, not a negative one.”
—————-
And here is the basic problem in a nutshell. The “with us or you are a monster” argument.
If people actually believe all or most detractors of PZ, FTB in general, Skepchicks et al are such because are “misogynists”, those people are either lying, suffering cognitive dissonance or have very limited thought processes.
Every time people like Sally Strange posts things like this, they create new detractors. So keep it up.

124 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

Excellent comment by Curious Blue above. I agree with all of it.

125 oolon September 18, 2014 at 8:12 am

I see this thread has turned into a massive tu quoque and false equivalence thread by the pitters, yet again. Wonder why they are banned at FTB given this has been their one song note for going on three years now … It’s a mystery!

Anyway, I’ll leave this here again, and point out that unlike Pharyngula the comment policy at the slymepit hasn’t changed one bit since these examples were extracted by the host. So they are not exactly being honest… http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/

BTW Congratulation to Steve Van Eykl / impossiblebones for being a very rare person to call out PZ on his language towards creationists. I also forgot the debacle of “You’re Not Helping” and the sock puppeted site created by Wally Smith to whine about how nasty the new atheists were. Maybe Steve joined Gurdur and some of the other pitters there talking to Wallys socks? But sort of my point, a few individuals and a ridiculous web site engineered by a serial sock puppeteer doesn’t add up to substantive criticism. Mainly for good reason, theirs/Nugent’s tone trolling is fallacious, stick to the arguments.

126 Phil Giordana FCD September 18, 2014 at 8:17 am

Just go away oolon. No one likes you, on any side of this schism.

127 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

Yes oolon, that perfectly reflects the pit. You should see Aneris when she powers up.

Oh, say what? This is a very selective sampling of the 210k posts? On a board celebrating free expression of the rejection of SJ conceits? A veritable plurality of thought – which has been banhammered into extinction from whence you come leaving the manifest hypocrisy that is FtB.

You would demolish a city because of its red light district. No, actually you would build a Lubbock and populate it with sad clowns.

128 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

“I see this thread has turned into a massive tu quoque and false equivalence thread by the pitters, yet again. Wonder why they are banned at FTB given this has been their one song note for going on three years now … ”

Well, yes, I do wonder why they are banned. I don’t know what a ‘pitter’ is and I don’t agree with every comment on the thread but the thread does show that it is possible to have diametrically opposing views without descent into abuse or bullying. Because the blog owner doesn’t enable and encourage that sort of behaviour. So why ban civil comment even from people you completely disagree with? You can argue with them or ignore them instead.

129 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:41 am

“Mainly for good reason, theirs/Nugent’s tone trolling is fallacious, stick to the arguments.”

Oolon, there is no ‘tone trolling’ going on here, unless you have a definition of tone troll that is new to me. Michael Nugent and others are making substantial complaints about the content of PZ Myers’ and others’ commentary. He hasn’t complained about tone although tone is not as irrelevant as you think. As I pointed out above, tone contributes to meaning and if you are indifferent to it that will limit your ability to understand.

I think you are using ‘tone trolling’ to mean ‘objecting to abuse that I approve of’. It would help if that sort of language were dropped I think and we used words we all agree on,. I don’t think ‘tone troll’ really means anything much any more, it just works as a shibboleth for certain in-groups.

130 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:44 am

“Where on earth have I threatened to demonise anyone? I enjoy reading this blog. I simply noted that Michael wrote a lengthy post that doesn’t, at any point, make any effort to address the substance of what Myers et al say when they criticise Sommers, Dawkins and Shermer etc.”

Dylan, the point of the article is to criticise the abuse, not to enter into particular arguments all of which are moot. To insist that it discuss something else is just whatabouterry.

131 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 18, 2014 at 8:53 am

@ Michael Nugent

It is important to note what it is that we perceive to be the problem with Richard Dawkins attitude towards Alison. From Richard’s own tweets he is saying things in this regard, such as:

“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” — @RichardDawkins

and

Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. But also, don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened (& no other evidence).

I do not need to spell this out for you. I trust you don’t endorse such victim blaming from Richard?

Further, if you don’t like PZ‘s calling out of Richard, then feel free (and in equal measure), to stand up for Richard against a whole lot of other detractors. Eg: Richard Dawkins’ embrace of rape culture The Daily Kos might not use the naughty words that PZ uses, but they sure as hell carry more clout. Perhaps it is time you called them out too.

132 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:57 am

“I do not need to spell this out for you. I trust you don’t endorse such victim blaming from Richard?”

How on earth can you read that as ‘victim blaming’. I think these tweets are often silly, ill-advised, and stupidly provocative, but they are not what you say they are.

133 Maureen Brian September 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

Excuse me please, Michael.

———

Minnow,

You have been traipsing about from blog to blog for a long time – being bewildered and expecting people to drop everything and explain.

It is a classic derailing and energy-sapping technique, designed to make those against whom you have no argument give up in despair.

I know for a fact you have had the term “pitter” explained to you – more than once, in graphic detail and at least once with links. Knock it off, will you?

134 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

“You have been traipsing about from blog to blog for a long time – being bewildered and expecting people to drop everything and explain.”

Maureen, I hardly ever comment on any blog, and I tend to only comment on half a dozen or so. Is that ‘traipsing’? Then I suspect we are all traipsers, right?

But I haven’t asked anyone to explain anything to me, let alone drop anything else. Feel free to pick up what you were doing and ignore me if you don’t think my comments are to the point. I am not bewildered, except that you can so completely misread what I have written. I have a view and I am writing it down that’s all. My comments are on-topic, rather more than your latest, which is about me. My advice to you (free) is stick to the subject in hand, argue with the substance, and don’t let personal antipathy distract you. That way you are less likely to be derailed.

I have never had the term ‘pitter’ explained to me and I have never asked for it to be. So I am afraid that you should be a little less confident in your ‘facts’. That is general advice. You’re welcome.

135 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 9:18 am

Hey Theo. Back to fisk again?

How’s you know who? Heard he has been welcomed back to the “horde”. Babysitting gigs dry up?

136 Pluto Animus September 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

The comments just go on and on!

I keep waiting for the breathless voice-over to break in, saying, “Tune in again next week, for another exciting episode of Tone Police!”

A guy could die of old age waiting for one of the anti-PZ commenters to actually address Dawkins’ tweets and remarks.

137 Leo Buzalsky September 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

Atheist activists and groups and authors around the world are working hard to promote reasoned evidence-based world views…

Are they? I note Michael doesn’t bother to provide any evidence for why he “believes that the approach taken by PZ Myers has been central to the escalation of what some people call ‘the deep rifts’.” All I see in this post are facts about what PZ writes. But facts aren’t reasons. Additionally, Michael doesn’t bother to examine if these “different approaches” to equality work or not. If there are authors working hard to promote reasoned evidence-based world views, it can’t be found in this post.

138 Leo Buzalsky September 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm

On an additional note, I did leave a position as a coordinator for an atheist group because of sexists that I had no authority to kick out of the group. So, no, I really do not find Michael’s claim that these are just “different approaches” to have much validity out of personal experience.

139 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm

“A guy could die of old age waiting for one of the anti-PZ commenters to actually address Dawkins’ tweets and remarks.”

Because that isn’t the subject of this blog post. You will wait even longer to hear anyone talking about rare coy carp.

140 Crackity Jones September 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

“Sally Strange: This is absolutely true, because PZ, like many others (including me), regards the existence between atheists who are feminists, and atheists who are misogynists, as a positive development, not a negative one.”

Wrong. The movement is split between atheists who are malicious, domineering bullies who have incorporated a religious-style (emotional, non-evidence based) epistemology regarding evidence (PZ, Watson, you, etc.) and those that are not.

I am also very pleased about the DEEP RIFTS. I want them to get so big PZ, yourself, and the rest of the abusers are completely irrelevant. It will happen soon, and I can’t wait. You don’t seem to realise that the atheist/skeptic community views the FTBullies like the Southern Poverty Law Centre views fascists.

Oh, and then there is “Ogvorbis”. Don’t think we have forgotten about that, buddy.

141 Crackity Jones September 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Tony: “Dawkins has engaged in victim blaming with his comments comparing rape to drunk driving-there’s no comparison.”

One of the worst examples of victim blaming I have witnessed involves PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, and Greg Laden.

A former FTB blogger Justin Griffith was the victim of harassment from fellow FTB blogger Greg Laden (at the time, a kind of semi-official enforcer at the network). This consisted of a series of violent threats. It kicked off in the backchannel, but PZ (and presumably Ed Brayton) kept it quiet, UNTIL Justin went public. All of a sudden Greg was fired (at the same time as Thunderfoot), and PZ engaged in a long-running shunning campaign against Justin – for revealing the truth about violent threats. No doubt, PZ wanted to keep the incident “private”, and was prepared to do nothing until his hand was forced.

It gets worse, however. Greg Laden’s (former) BFF Stephanie Zvan wrote a complete travesty of a blog post excusing Greg’s behaviour. This was simply another form of victim blaming. Here, we have one of the loudest moaners about online harassment (Zvan) EXCUSING and JUSTIFYING threats of violence, all because the guilty party was her friend.

142 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am amazed at how quickly the same cadre of vapid characters run to these blogs to recapitulate years-old grievances.

Look, goofballs, it can both be true that Harris and Dawkins made ignorant, sexist remarks and that PZ Myers is a big jerk. It’s odd that you folks fancy yourselves rational when your only course of argument is to defend the comical histrionics from atheist/skeptical “leaders” by vomiting up lame stories about people that didn’t treat you well on a blog comment section a half-decade ago.

Obviously, about 93.44% of your complaints involve taking ironic statements literally, but even if your childish tantrums were rooted in something other than a desperate attempt to snipe at bloggers, they would still have absolutely nothing to do with whether Harris’ arguments or Dawkins’ Grand Mal Tweets made any sense.

143 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm

@doubtthat:

Who here has suggested that the douchebaggery of PZ Myers precludes the possibility that Harris or Dawkins have made statements worth criticizing?

And who here has brought up grievances against the FTB idiots *in order to defend Harris or Dawkins*? Haven’t those grievances been brought up in order to demonstrate hypocrisy?

144 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Read the OP, for one. The premise is that PZ Myers is unproductive and that media accounts of Dawkins and Harris have been “distorted.” If you agree that PZ’s character is irrelevant to the content and quality of Harris and Dawkins’ statements, explain the OP.

See post 62 as an example: The allegations against Shermer must be false because other FTB folks were accused of sexual assault, or something.

See the always baffled Gemmer’s post. PZ Myers is bad, therefore he shouldn’t be saying anything critical about Dawkins, “of all people.”

It’s the entire point of the post: the “real” problem is not the stupid things that Shermer, Harris, and Dawkins have said, it’s the mean people who criticized them who are ruining everyone’s party.

145 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Or hell, read the comment right above the one you responded to.

146 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

“Read the OP, for one. The premise is that PZ Myers is unproductive and that media accounts of Dawkins and Harris have been “distorted.””

No it isn’t (I don’t think anyone would doubt PZ Myers’ online productivity, he blogs plenty), the OP is about personal attacks and smears and asking for them to stop. I think you are a lawyer, so I am guessing you are used to close reading and really already know that. Right?

147 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 2:04 pm

@doubtthat:

The only thing I’m seeing is that you evidently have poor reading comprehension.

Yes, some commenters are defending Harris, Dawkins, and/or Shermer. Let’s call this Thing A.

Yes, some commenters are pointing out that PZ et al. are self-righteous and hypocritical douchebags. Let’s call this Thing B.

Some of the commenters doing Thing A are also doing Thing B, but I haven’t seen any of them use Thing B as an argument for Thing A. Smells like a strawman—er, strawperson.

148 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm

@Minnow

Oh sweet, naive Minnow, what do you think the word “productive” means in that context? That he doesn’t write enough blog posts or that his tone and technique are not benefiting the atheist/skeptical movement?

@Guestus Aurelius

Really?

From comment 141:

“Tony: “Dawkins has engaged in victim blaming with his comments comparing rape to drunk driving-there’s no comparison.”

One of the worst examples of victim blaming I have witnessed involves PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, and Greg Laden.”

That is the exact structure I was referring to. Now, you may have to actually pay attention to context to find the argument structure. I know subtlety is not exactly the forte of your crowd, but comment after comment, including those that I’ve specifically given you, come in the form of “Who are the FTB folks to criticize Dawkins, here are things they’ve done that are horrible…”

If you’d rather call that a distraction or a non sequitur rather than a defense, fine, but it’s a silly way to argue. Whether or no PZ is a big meanie, Dawkins and Harris are making shitty arguments.

149 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

@ Aheydis Vaakenjab #54

Then came FTB, dear Muslima, and the inevitable downward spiral in to irrelevance.

I think Richard Dawkins would do well to distance himself from his embarrassing “Dear Muslima”. You do realise what a vacuous argument it is in the first place? It also opens him up to endless rounds of mockery from people he cannot abide.

For example: Dear Innocent People Murdered in Witch Hunts

@ Minnow #132

How on earth can you read that as ‘victim blaming’.


Richard Dawkin
‘s is suggesting that a person who has been raped while being drunk must bear a measure of the responsibility, as a person would if DUI.

Are you going to be obtuse about this point? I have provided you with a link. Such examples of media condemnation of Richard’s expressed opinions are easy to multiply.

@ Brive1987 # 135

Hey Theo. Back to fisk again?

Meh.

I have come to realise that fisking is a mug’s game. There is no end to idiocy, so who would have the time? Better to focus on a few high-profile examples of such idiocy, than respond to every example on these threads.

How’s you know who? Heard he has been welcomed back to the “horde”. Babysitting gigs dry up?

Easy there, Tiger! I’m not sure how long Michael is going to stand around and let his blog be used as a platform for abusive bullpucky.

150 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

“Oh sweet, naive Minnow, what do you think the word “productive” means in that context? That he doesn’t write enough blog posts or that his tone and technique are not benefiting the atheist/skeptical movement?”

Oh, I see, you used the wrong word. I am afraid ‘productive’ cannot mean what you want it to. You need to add something there. But we all make slips like that from time to time.

“Whether or no PZ is a big meanie, Dawkins and Harris are making shitty arguments.”

They may be and they may not be. But the point isn’t that PZ Myers is ‘a big meanie’ it is that he is using dishonest rhetorical means to pursue his aims by demonising and smearing his intellectual opponents in place of honestly engaging with their ideas and arguments. That is the gravamen, why keep dodging it? The plea is: guys, don’t do that!

151 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm

“Richard Dawkin‘s is suggesting that a person who has been raped while being drunk must bear a measure of the responsibility, as a person would if DUI.”

No, he isn’t, you have to very determinedly misread him to come to this conclusion, I think.

152 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

“I think Richard Dawkins would do well to distance himself from his embarrassing “Dear Muslima”. ”

By the way, Dawkins has distanced himself from that intervention.

153 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

@Minnow

No, the usage was correct. If this is the argument you want to have … well, that explains about everything someone would want to know about your position, doesn’t it?

154 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

@151 Minnow

Explain what the Drunk-Driving – Rape analogy was meant to say.

155 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

“No, the usage was correct. If this is the argument you want to have … well, that explains about everything someone would want to know about your position, doesn’t it?”

It wasn’t correct, in the way you used it it could only be understood the way I understood it. But that is a small thing. As I said, we all make mistakes like that, I was making no argument about it at all.

156 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm

@155

“achieving or producing a significant amount or result.”

See that word, “result?” Chew on that one for a while. It will give your overworked brain a break from your hilariously strained attempts to explain away Dawkins’ silly tweets.

157 allison September 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

““A guy could die of old age waiting for one of the anti-PZ commenters to actually address Dawkins’ tweets and remarks.”

I think Dawkins’ tweets and remarks were perfectly appropriate. How’s that?

158 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

“Explain what the Drunk-Driving – Rape analogy was meant to say.”

Do you mean this:

“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” — @RichardDawkins

If so, it obviously isn’t a rape analogy. He was satirising the idea that other people ‘get us drunk’ rather than getting ourselves drunk by drinking too much. You may disagree with that, but it is nothing to do with rape.

159 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

“See that word, “result?” Chew on that one for a while.”

It doesn’t help you. In the context you used it it still makes no sense. It’s no biggie, people make mistakes with their words. Why dwell on it?

160 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 2:50 pm

(Testing the blockquote, sorry if it doesn’t work)

doubtthat wrote:

@Guestus Aurelius

Really?

From comment 141:

“Tony: “Dawkins has engaged in victim blaming with his comments comparing rape to drunk driving-there’s no comparison.”

One of the worst examples of victim blaming I have witnessed involves PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, and Greg Laden.”

That is the exact structure I was referring to. Now, you may have to actually pay attention to context to find the argument structure. I know subtlety is not exactly the forte of your crowd, but comment after comment, including those that I’ve specifically given you, come in the form of “Who are the FTB folks to criticize Dawkins, here are things they’ve done that are horrible…”

If you’d rather call that a distraction or a non sequitur rather than a defense, fine, but it’s a silly way to argue. Whether or no PZ is a big meanie, Dawkins and Harris are making shitty arguments.

In other words, you were just making things up when you said:

Look, goofballs, it can both be true that Harris and Dawkins made ignorant, sexist remarks and that PZ Myers is a big jerk. It’s odd that you folks fancy yourselves rational when your only course of argument is to defend the comical histrionics from atheist/skeptical “leaders” by vomiting up lame stories about people that didn’t treat you well on a blog comment section a half-decade ago.

Obviously, about 93.44% of your complaints involve taking ironic statements literally, but even if your childish tantrums were rooted in something other than a desperate attempt to snipe at bloggers, they would still have absolutely nothing to do with whether Harris’ arguments or Dawkins’ Grand Mal Tweets made any sense.

In any case, pointing out that PZ et al. are vicious and dishonest prigs isn’t a “distraction” or a “non sequitur”—it’s precisely what the OP is about.

161 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

@158

Haha. This is your explanation?

The context is obviously the Shermer situation, correct? Do you want to argue against that, or are you in agreement about the motivation behind the tweet, the instigating event? Do you think Dawkins tweeted that as a defense of Shermer?

You like to argue about the simple meaning of words, so I’m taking nothing for granted.

162 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

@160

Those statements are perfectly consistent. There are comments where the tactic is used clearly as a defense of Harris and Dawkins, like the one I quoted, and there are others where the argument isn’t so clearly presented.

Yes, I know that’s what the OP is about. That’s why I cited it as an example. The entire premise of this discussion is a pointless exercise in the context of a discussion of Harris and Dawkins. Why use a series of articles about Shermer, Dawkins, and Harris as a launching point to discuss Myer’s faults?

163 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I think the context is probably the Shermer situation, although I have sort of skirted around that topic because I don’t really think the internet is suitable place for arguing the toss on real life cases of such potential seriousness. But whatever the context, there is only one fair way to read that analogy as far as I can see.

If it were a rape analogy the drunk driver would have to be a substitute for the rapist, because she is the perpetrator of the crime in the analogy and not the victim. In other words it would be making the point that being drunk is no defence against an accusation of rape. Which it isn’t. To make this mean what you want it to mean you have to perform some horrible violence to the logic. So use Occam’s razor instead.

164 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

@163 Minnow

That is a fascinating post. I mean than non-ironically.

Your argument is essentially that the tweet could not be an analogy to rape because it would be an astonishingly shitty analogy. Yes, exactly.

What it clearly means, in the context of the Shermer allegations and Dawkins subsequent tweets where he felt it necessary to point out that you shouldn’t rape anyone whether drunk or not (why did he feel the need to clarify that point if the drunk driving tweet had nothing to do with rape), is that the victim’s state of inebriation renders her allegations either specious or unbelievable.

As you seem to understand, however a person becomes drunk, choosing to get behind the wheel of a car and drive is a crime (though bar tenders failing to cut someone off, for example, can be culpable). A sexual assailant taking advantage of a drunk victim is making decisions of their own.

So, your “defense” of Dawkins is just to say that he was making a totally pointless argument. Someone getting a person drunk is not a defense for drunk driving, but it very well could be a key bit of evidence supporting a rape accusation. This is very common behavior among sexual assailants: plying a victim with alcohol while retaining sobriety.

Regardless of how you feel about the specific case, a person getting another drunk is relevant to sexual assault in a way it just isn’t in drunk driving. We both seem to agree that Dawkins is making pointless tweets, but somehow you find this to be a compelling defense. I find that baffling.

165 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Sorry, doubtthat. I’m just not seeing where anybody has defended Harris, Dawkins, or Shermer on the grounds that other people suck. That’s a figment of your imagination.

“Who is X to criticize Y” isn’t a defense of Y. It’s a criticism of X. That’s true even if the speaker also defends Y.

166 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm

…Yes, it isn’t a defense. That’s the very point. It’s a fallacious way to argue.

That this is the conversation we’re having in response to newspaper articles and blog posts criticizing Harris, Shermer and Dawkins makes the point for me.

167 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm

“That this is the conversation we’re having in response to newspaper articles and blog posts criticizing Harris, Shermer and Dawkins makes the point for me.”

This is the conversation we are having in response to an OP criticising personal attacks, smears and demonisation. If you understand that, you may see a different point.

168 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

…Yes, it isn’t a defense. That’s the very point. It’s a fallacious way to argue.

It would be fallacious if it were being used as a defense. But it’s not.

In fact, you’re the one arguing fallaciously:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

169 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The OP, among other things, is focused on “distorted versions of these disagreements.” There is very little effort either in the OP or the comment section to support this claim. What was distorted? Folks have relied entirely on pointing out faults in PZ Myers and the FTB bloggers method of writing to sustain that claim.

It is fallacious in construct and also substantively wrong.

170 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

“Your argument is essentially that the tweet could not be an analogy to rape because it would be an astonishingly shitty analogy. Yes, exactly.”

No, my ‘defence’ is that the analogy has a clear and obvious meaning and to try to make it into an apology for rape is daft because there is simply no logical way that it can work like that. So any fair minded person should accept the natural meaning of the words. Context makes no difference here.

“Regardless of how you feel about the specific case, a person getting another drunk is relevant to sexual assault in a way it just isn’t in drunk driving.”

Dawkins is arguing by analogy that people don’t ‘get’ other people drunk, we get ourselves drunk, by drinking too much (always assuming we are not talking about children or slipping mickeys). And when we are drunk, we don’t necessarily become incapable of judgement and personal decisions (or being drunk should be a defence against drunk driving). I tend to agree with that, it chimes with my personal experience, but you may not. What you cannot argue (fairly) is that that tweet is any sort of apology for rape.

171 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm

“What was distorted? ”

For example the claim that Dawkins has made tweets that apologise for rape. But that is beside the point. If you think that the OP is wrong to claim that Myers and others have a tendency to smear and demonise opponents, argue for it. But there is nothing ‘fellacious’ in the claim.

172 Pluto Animus September 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm

“Because that isn’t the subject of this blog post.”

Sorry to interrupt the Great Pharyngula Whining Festival.

Carry on.

173 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm

The “clear and obvious” meaning you are ascribing to the tweet renders it irrelevant gibberish and fails completely to explain why Dawkins felt a need to clarify by stating that it was wrong to rape a drunk person.

Unless you are willfully ignorant about sexual assault, you should be aware that plying people with drinks — mixing drinks stronger for a target vs. the predator’s, pretending to drink as a group while setting aside one’s own…etc. — is a very common technique employed by sexual assailants.

“Dawkins is arguing by analogy that people don’t ‘get’ other people drunk, we get ourselves drunk, by drinking too much…”

But this is 100% irrelevant to the Shermer situation, as regardless of how the victim became drunk, that does not justify a person having sex with them absent consent. It would be one thing for Dawkins to argue that the victim consented, but that wasn’t his point.

174 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

The OP, among other things, is focused on “distorted versions of these disagreements.” There is very little effort either in the OP or the comment section to support this claim. What was distorted? Folks have relied entirely on pointing out faults in PZ Myers and the FTB bloggers method of writing to sustain that claim.

No, they haven’t. We’re going in circles now, but the bottom line is that nobody here (except for you) has claimed that the Social Justice League’s douchebaggery exculpates Harris, Dawkins, or Shermer. You’re just doubling down on a strawman.

175 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

@doubtthat:

(Okay, actually you never claimed that—rather, you’ve insisted that others have.)

176 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm

“The “clear and obvious” meaning you are ascribing to the tweet renders it irrelevant gibberish”

No it doesn’t. I have explained what it means and it makes sense, although you may not think it is a point worth making. But if you think it is gibberish you are at least accepting, I think, that it is not an apology for rape or a minimisation of the harm of rape.

“and fails completely to explain why Dawkins felt a need to clarify by stating that it was wrong to rape a drunk person.”

I assume he felt the need because he was being smeared by people like PZ Myers who were deliberately misrepresenting the content of such tweets. That is what the OP is about.

“But this is 100% irrelevant to the Shermer situation, as regardless of how the victim became drunk, that does not justify a person having sex with them absent consent.”

And nobody, least of all Dawkins, has argued otherwise. If someone has not consented to sex, she has been raped. As I have shown, the only argument you can make that Dawkins does not hold that view is an incredibly perverse and logic-defying interpretation of a tweet about drink driving. I think you conceded that point when you decided that the tweet in question was, after all, gibberish because it could not make sense as an apology for rape.

177 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Claim in OP not supported in claim or anywhere in the comments save for a lone, comical attempt to explain away one of Dawkins’ tweets.

You are engaging in an amusing sort of comical literalness. Yes, as long as you cross your arms and stamp your feet and say the same thing over and over, we will go around in circles.

Again, I ask, why is this discussion relevant to high-profile articles about the behavior of Shermer, Harris, and Dawkins? If you just want to discuss how lame PZ Myers is, why introduce those at all?

178 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm

@ Minnow #163

[Shermer] …although I have sort of skirted around that topic

That is becoming all the more obvious, the more you post.

But whatever the context, there is only one fair way to read that analogy as far as I can see.

Okaaaay… I think I see where this is going. But let’s get to the chase:
No, Minnow, Dawkin’s analogy really is that bad.

The accusation levelled against Shermer (as yet unproven) is that he was plying Alison with booze in order to get her drunk. This while he faked that he was also drinking. So that he could have sex with her at a point where she was to drunk to give, or decline, consent to have sex. Dawkin’s is taking her to task for getting drunk. The DUI analogy was aimed at the victim, not the perpetrator.

Now getting back to your previous comment (#158) :

You see, somebody got me drunk.” — @RichardDawkins

If so, it obviously isn’t a rape analogy. He was satirising the idea that other people ‘get us drunk’ rather than getting ourselves drunk by drinking too much. You may disagree with that, but it is nothing to do with rape.

It has everything to do with the rape that Richard’s buddy, Shermer, is being accused of. And no, Alison was not getting herself drunk, she was being being plied with alcohol so that (a far more sober) Shermer could later rape her.

At least that is the accusation being made against Shermer. And it is that accusation that Dawkins is responding to with a crappy analogy.

Get used to it … he IS being that gormless.

179 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm

theophontes:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

All of a sardine.

180 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm

“I assume he felt the need because he was being smeared by people like PZ Myers who were deliberately misrepresenting the content of such tweets. That is what the OP is about.”

That is not an explanation. If the tweet wasn’t about rape, his answer would have been, “That tweet had nothing to do with rape.” Instead he felt the need to clarify that it was wrong to rape a drunk person then went on to say it was also wrong to accuse someone if a person was too drunk to remember an event. That’s an awful lot of discussion about rape for a tweet that had nothing to do with rape.

And yet again, you’ve just evaded the point that plying someone with alcohol while remaining sober is a very common tactic used by sexual assailants. “Getting someone drunk” is an actual issue. Scoffing at it with the drunk driving analogy is as factually wrong as it is insulting.

Your interpretation reduces the amount of wrongness in the tweet by 0%.

“As I have shown, the only argument you can make that Dawkins does not hold that view is an incredibly perverse and logic-defying interpretation of a tweet about drink driving.”

No, you’ve missed the point, again. I did not accuse Dawkins of holding that view. I said that if he wanted to defend Shermer, he should have argued that the victim’s story was wrong, that she consented…etc. Instead he chose to generate tweets which are, at best, completely irrelevant to the situation and are simply wrong regardless of how they are interpreted.

181 aneris September 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Oolon wrote: Anyway, I’ll leave this here again, and point out that unlike Pharyngula the comment policy at the slymepit hasn’t changed one bit since these examples were extracted by the host. So they are not exactly being honest…

A persistent as it is a silly argument.

First, If you decide that you won’t ally with people who wear funny hats, because funny hats are indefensible and you are found to have a collection of funny hats in your closet, and that your friends all wore funny hats in the past — then the onus is on you to explain why you are still friends with these funny hats wearers and what makes it different with them. And you probably should explain why you liked funny hats in the past, but now condemn them. Other people, however, can think about funny hats whatever they want.

Second, this scales with your outrage and feeling offended. The more you are outraged about someone wearing funny hats, the better you make sure that there are no funny hats in your closet.

Third, other places make no demands about someone’s fashion choice to begin with. Everyone can come with whatever they like. Some things are considered tasteless still, and a forum has individual ignore lists for these cases. There is no central authority on top who sets the topics and what is worthy of discussions and in which ways. There is no comparable role. The forum is bottom-up. It is a silliness on its own to compare well-known bloggers, book authors, public speakers and well connected “semi-professional” atheists with random people in an obscure forum.

182 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Literalness? No I just explained the obvious meaning of the analogy. You seem to want it to mean something else while conceding there is no logical way it can. As to why this is relevant, you should redirect the question because you brought it up.

183 doubtthat September 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

That wasn’t a response to you, Minnow, sorry. It was directed at Guestus Aurelius.

184 Jan Steen September 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

And still the PZ Myers brigade conspicuously ignores the evidence that their hero has feet of clay.

When one of his students accuses Myers of rape, we are to believe immediately that this was a false accusation. When others, not in Myers incestuous ingroup, are accused of rape we are to ‘believe the victim’ without asking for evidence. This is not only committing the fallacy of begging the question (it has to be established that there was a victim in the first place), but it is also a patent double standard.

This is not about some famous atheist being a serial rapist or not, this is about a click-baiting blog owner with dubious ethical standards being the last person to spread such rumours. If the accusations are true, then the fact that it is an individual like Myers who publicized them will cause many readers to dismiss them out of hand. After all, why should you trust someone with obvious double standards, someone who displayed fraudulent behaviour, and who always assumes the least charitable explanation for the words and actions of others outside his clique? And if the accusations are false then they are simply libelous. Either way, a hypocritical rage blogger like Myers is an obstacle on the road to justice.

185 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Doubtthat, apologies for the confusion.

186 Mel September 18, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Remember when someone – was it Svan? – put up the Tumblr page for women to anonymously Name And Shame about sexual abuse at atheist conventions? It was all well and good until women started coming forward with their experiences with PZ Myers, at which point the site was taken down so fast I’m surprised there wasn’t a sonic boom.

It’s ONLY “believe the women” if women are talking about men they don’t like. Otherwise it’s “bitches be lyin.”

187 Martha September 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Ophelia has replied, to wit:

First she quotes Michael:

I believe that we should robustly question the ideas and behaviour of people who are, or who are perceived to be, authority figures in our own spheres of activity. I also believe that everyone, on various sides of these disagreements, should reconsider what I describe as the ethos of “You must be more compassionate, you fuckbrained asshole!”

Then she adds her own comment:

“Probably a good suggestion.”

This is the same person who said “Fuck you” to Sam Harris about a week ago. That’s incredibly hypocritical. As Ophelia departs from reasoned argument, her use of profanity increases. That’s typical of ragebloggers.

188 Phil Giordana FCD September 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Mel: sorry, but I don’t remember that one episode. Any links, maybe?

189 Shermertron September 18, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Okay, so let’s take inventory here. Mr. Nugent is respectfully imploring secular people not to demonize each other and to understand that we may disagree intellectually, but the other “side” is not evil. (Sometimes literally.

52 – POinting out that “I don’t have the time to educate you” isn’t a valuable argument results in: “You trivialize their lives, needs, interests and obligations by suggesting they should be spending all of their time and energy in engaging with clueless Privileged People®, putting in hours and hours of effort in repeating the exact same thing they’ve already said three thousand times to three thousand other privileged people in their past.”

53: “Shermer is a disgusting person and probably a sex criminal.”

59: Those who expect evidence before making a very public accusation of rape “remind me of the people who are pissed about those who blew the whistle on torture in the US, and not the …. ACTUAL torturers.”

61: Dawkins’s refusal to agree with PZ in all matters results in the following statement: “In his open letter to Dawkins, PZ urged him to raise his consciousness, as Dawkins himself has urged so many others to do so many times. Many others have begged him to do the same. The fact that he’s refused to do so is his own business. The fact that he’s replied only with utter contempt is an excellent reason to ridicule and castigate him.”

104: Some very serious implications!: “He [Myers] was responding to sexist comments and to a serious sexual allegation (it’s now clear that the very kindest thing that can be said about Shermer is that he’s a creep who can’t be trusted around women). It’s worrying that you should choose to focus your attention on those who criticise sexist behaviour or statements rather than on the sexists themselves.”

118: Yeah, Mr. Nugent, why are you such an unpleasant person, according to Tony? “I can clearly see that you’re siding with the Slymepitters, the people who have been bullying others for years. You side with the harassers, who want to keep the status quo the way things are. You’re siding with those who oppose anti-harassment policies. You’re siding with a crowd that doesn’t want things to get better. You’re siding with the crowd opposed to progress. You’re siding with the crowd who wants to focus on Big Tent atheism at the expense of the little people they’re crushing along the way.”

131: Translated: “I know you’re asking people to treat each other civilly, but Shermer MUST be a serial rapist who attacks both men and women.” Real extract: “Further, if you don’t like PZ‘s calling out of Richard, then feel free (and in equal measure), to stand up for Richard against a whole lot of other detractors. Eg: Richard Dawkins’ embrace of rape culture The Daily Kos might not use the naughty words that PZ uses, but they sure as hell carry more clout. Perhaps it is time you called them out too.”

142: Yeah! Stop being vapid goofballs! “I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am amazed at how quickly the same cadre of vapid characters run to these blogs to recapitulate years-old grievances.

Look, goofballs, ”

149: My uncharitable reading of Dawkins’s tweets gets me pouncehugs on FTB, so they must be right! “Richard Dawkin‘s is suggesting that a person who has been raped while being drunk must bear a measure of the responsibility, as a person would if DUI.”

I can’t help but be amused that our FTB friends are using EXACTLY the same tactics and language that Mr. Nugent points out in the essay.

190 Jan Steen September 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Michael, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and stop inviting the likes of Myers and Benson to your conferences? Let them organize their own cons* on their side of the Atlantic, where the speakers will outnumber the attendees. This will also reduce their carbon footprint. Win-win.

*Suggested topics:
1. H.J. Hornbeck on Sex as a Social Construct.
2. Sikivu Hutchinson on Richard Dawkins as a White Supremacist.
3. P.Z. Myers on The Squid in Japanese Erotica.
4. Greta Christina on Rape Fantasies for SJWs.
5. Richard Carrier on The Glorious Future of Atheism Plus.
6. Ophelia Benson on New Tools for Copying and Pasting in the Digital Age.
7. Rebecca Watson on Being Drunk and Unprepared and Still Giving a Talk at a Conference [delivered while being drunk and unprepared].
8. oolon on How to Troll On Both Sides of the Deep Rift.

The possibilities are endless with such a stellar array of speaking talent.

191 anon September 18, 2014 at 10:35 pm

I find this thread strange, as if people are appealing to Nugent as “dad” to hear each side and arbitrate a decision.

I don’t know who Nugent is nor do I care.

I encourage PZ and his friends to keep on target, don’t give up, use all the weapons you have at your disposal and make clear who the enemies are. Be specific. Give lists. Detail what must be done with them.

You are demanding society reshape for the better!

Don’t hide.

The last thing the revolution needs is hesitation.

Be bold!

192 MadMike September 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I call poe on 191.

193 anon September 18, 2014 at 11:22 pm

MadMike,

I am utterly sincere and it would fulfill my fondest dreams leading to the betterment of society for all of us if PZ and his network would take me up on my suggestions.

194 Jan Steen September 18, 2014 at 11:27 pm

anon – “I am utterly sincere and it would fulfill my fondest dreams leading to the betterment of society for all of us if PZ and his network would take me up on my suggestions.”

Didn’t Pol Pot try something along those lines?

195 Jan Steen September 18, 2014 at 11:40 pm

“Howdy this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!”

Ask PZ Myers. I hear he is always friendly and helpful to beginners.

196 Shatterface September 19, 2014 at 12:43 am

spookiewon September 18, 2014 at 4:36 am
Shatterface, people who lack empathy have sociopathic personality disorder, not autism. People with autism feel empathy.

Either you are saying I don’t understand my own condition or you are calling me a sociopath, I am not sure which. Either way, fuck you.

197 Shatterface September 19, 2014 at 12:49 am

As for the refusal to educate… You must understand the demand comes about 100 times a day – from people who REFUSE to come to the discussion with even the most basic grounding in terms they are attempting to refute.

Yeah, remember that MLK speech that began ‘I have a dream… but I’m not going to educate you…’?

That was really effective.

198 Linda September 19, 2014 at 4:03 am

Phil and Mel.
(Off Topic, but pertinent to a question asked)
I believe it was this (archived) version:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130808042913/http://morewillbenamed.tumblr.com/

Only the joke pages the site became still exist.

There is a least one freezepage of a part of it.
http://www.freezepage.com/1375928382PPVFPEHNQF/info

I am trying to remember, but it went down I thought after Dave Silverman was added?

199 Jan Steen September 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

Here’s what one of the brave SJW commenters in the safe censured space on Ophelia B’s blog writes about Michael’s comment policy:

“I’m a bit surprised that Michael hasn’t pruned through the comments to those articles yet. I remember the slight brouhaha when he updated his comment policy during another moment of “Can’t we all just get along?” and from what I’ve read in those comment threads there are an awful lot of personal attacks over there. We know he’s visited his blog, because he had time to respond to Ophelia’s earlier, snarky post; the longer those comments stay up, the worse Michael Nugent looks.”

Perfectly sums up the mentality of these people. They are too cowardly and inept to respond here, so they try from a distance to silence the people who stand up against their totalitarian mindset. I have no doubt that they would send the secret police after their opponents if they could.

200 Jan Steen September 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

censured -> censored

(There’s a lot of censuring going on there, too.)

201 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

@ Shermertron #189

131: Translated: “I know you’re asking people to treat each other civilly, but Shermer MUST be a serial rapist who attacks both men and women.”

Your words not mine. I have been at pains to point out that, as yet, Shermer has not been found guilty of the things he has been accused of.

149: My uncharitable reading of Dawkins’s tweets gets me pouncehugs on FTB, so they must be right!

Inform yourself of the topic at hand. It is very easy to come up to speed on what has occurred. Do not pretend it is FTB’s fault that Dawkins in getting called out. As I indicated, far more influential sites than FTB – and far more influential writers than PZ – have pointed out how badly Richard Dawkins is screwing up. Are they all to be accused of demonisation?

(Pop onto Alexa and type in the website addresses of RD’s detractors. FTB is pretty small fry in the bigger scheme of things. Check out rankings of theguardian.com and dailykos.com compared to freethoughtblogs.com – these have all been highly critical (“demonising”) of RD.)

@ Jan Steen # 194

Didn’t Pol Pot try something along those lines?

No, Solon.

# 199

Perfectly sums up the mentality of these people. They are too cowardly and inept to respond here…

Pull my other leg, it has bells on it!

202 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 10:32 am

“and far more influential writers than PZ – have pointed out how badly Richard Dawkins is screwing up. Are they all to be accused of demonisation?”

You think that so improbable? It is easily shown that the meaning of the tweets isn’t what is being claimed by these people, so why wouldn’t it be deliberate (or even unconscious) demonisation?

203 Dave Allen September 19, 2014 at 11:07 am

“Pull my other leg, it has bells on it!”

Do you not think that it’s begging the argument for people to remain belligerent about the righteousness of their perspectives whilst in their allotted safe spaces without making some effort to present and defend their perspective from someone who doesn’t agree?

204 Jan Steen September 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm

theophontes – “Pull my other leg, it has bells on it!”

If that’s your whole response then it just proves my point, doesn’t it?

205 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Hi Jan, I’m the one who posted that comment over at Ophelia’s blog. I’m curious – do you think calling me a “brave SJW warrior”, “cowardly and inept” and possessing a “totalitarian mindset” is or isn’t demonization? Is it ok to use those phrases when you’re talking about someone but not ok to use them when you’re talking to someone?

I see a lot of personal attacks in these comments. I see people speculating about other’s motives, proposing feelings of greed, or envy, or a medical condition as reason for their actions. Is speculating about motive acceptable? I see people expressing antipathy for other pseudonymous commenters – no arguments, no differences of opinion, just personal invective with no bearing on the topic at hand; that seems like demonization to me. Many of these comments seem to run afoul of Michael Nugent’s comment policy; I’ve seen him edit comments in the past, removing parts that contain language he considers unacceptable, and yet he seemingly hasn’t removed anything from this comment thread; he apparently prioritizes responding to Ophelia’s snark higher than enforcing his comment policy. I find it curious.

By the by, don’t bother responding to me – these were actually just rhetorical questions. Your output on this thread makes you seem like a very unpleasant person, and I’m not interested in interacting with you further.

206 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

“I see people expressing antipathy for other pseudonymous commenters – no arguments, no differences of opinion, just personal invective with no bearing on the topic at hand; that seems like demonization to me.”

Which is, surely, a good reason to avoid it? I don’t see why we can’t agree with that simple rule. I actually agree that the best commentary would avoid all ascription of motive or allusion to people, and I have seen that work. But I don’t think that noting certain flaws in other people is an argument against criticism of those same flaws in such as PZ Myers.

207 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sure Minnow, that’s why I try to avoid using that sort of language. But I’m not going to tut-tut when someone else does use it, and I’m certainly not going to propose a rule stating which language is acceptable and which isn’t. If we pride ourselves on our rationality, we should be able to parse someone’s statement and separate the substantive bits from the dross. Michael’s article here seems to be focusing on unimportant, or at least secondary, details. PZ Myers absolutely has an abrasive style of writing – Richard Dawkins is also well known for his abrasiveness. By focusing solely on PZ Myers Michael seems to suggest that an abrasive style is acceptable when turned on the religious, but unacceptable when turned on fellow atheists. I think that’s a double standard. If Michael Nugent wants everyone to use less abrasive language, he should put the focus on everyone and not single any one actor out.

208 Crackity Jones September 19, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I see a lot of personal attacks in these comments.

Not as many as on Pharyngula or Butterflies and Wheels, plus a few others.

I see people speculating about other’s motives, proposing feelings of greed, or envy, or a medical condition as reason for their actions.

Who was it who actually rang the parents and employers of a woman to express “concern” about her “medical condition”? Who was it who established a Tumblr to target this same woman?

Is speculating about motive acceptable?

Well, Pharyngulites seems to think so.

I see people expressing antipathy for other pseudonymous commenters – no arguments, no differences of opinion, just personal invective with no bearing on the topic at hand that seems like demonization to me.

You obviously spend too much time at Pharyngula. You should leave that cesspit once and for all.

Many of these comments seem to run afoul of Michael Nugent’s comment policy

No, they don’t. Unlike Pharyngula and B&W, criticism of the SJW position is not “harassment” or “trolling”, while abusive, cruel, and highly personal attacks on perceived enemies of the SJW are in line with the comment policies at Pharyngula and B&W. In summary, someone who spends time at any of those two sites has NO BUSINESS questioning Mike’s comment policy. Nothing has come remotely close to anything the horrible hate-filled Josh Spokesgay comes up with.

I’ve seen him edit comments in the past, removing parts that contain language he considers unacceptable, and yet he seemingly hasn’t removed anything from this comment thread

Have you seen Myers or Benson edit or remove Spokesgay’s hate-filled one-liners? Stop your passive-aggressive moan about comment policy. It is simply you trying to exert pressure to add YOUR type of censorship, which is silencing of the criticism of the SJWs and their position.

he apparently prioritizes responding to Ophelia’s snark higher than enforcing his comment policy. I find it curious.

If Ophelia’s can’t write an article professionally and like an adult, and there is only the snark to respond to, whose fault is that? Not Mike’s!

209 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

“Michael’s article here seems to be focusing on unimportant, or at least secondary, details. PZ Myers absolutely has an abrasive style of writing ”

But that entirely misses the point. There is no criticism of PZ Myers’ style on this OP and for all I know Michaal Nugent is a fan of the style. What he is against is personal abuse, smearing and demonisation, which is not a matter of style but substance.

I don’t know you but I am willing to bet that you do not think demonisation is a legitimate form of debate when it is aimed at those people you agree with on ideological grounds. If we don’t extend the same logic to out-group people we are being stupidly inconsistent at best and dishonestly tribal at worst.

210 Jan Steen September 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

stakkalee – “By the by, don’t bother responding to me”

Then I won’t bother. Not that there was much to respond to anyway, just some vague talk about personal attacks and a call to censor people here who said things you don’t like about people you probably idolize. Yet I would never request Michael to silence you. Funny, that. And yes, I’m a horrible person, how did you guess?

211 James Smith September 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

So what you’re saying is that atheists are as human as anyone else. They can be petty, unreasonable, as well as rational, and decent because it’s the right thing to do.

They can also be dishonest, liars thieves, and fools. In short, they can be as disorganized socially, politically, and intellectually as the rest of humanity. How shocking is that?

212 Dave Allen September 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

It’s not very shocking. I often wish more atheists would have more interest in August Comte and the Church of Positivity.

Because I do think it’s a bit of a mirror of the current “rift” – insecurity over atheism’s lack of associated values leading to ludicrous overcompensation.

213 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Nugent’s explamples of PZ Myers’ demonization are, frankly, unclear in some of these examples. Is it demonization to call someone dishonest if you can show where they’ve lied or misrepresented? How is speculating that someone has a brain parasite any different than speculating that they’re motivated by greed? If one is demonization, then so is the other. As to the Shermer thing, Michael has incorrectly characterized the situation; PZ didn’t accuse Shermer of any crimes, he published an anonymous, first-hand account of Shermer sexually assaulting a woman we now know to be Alison Smith. Whether you believe the account or not is another matter, but I wouldn’t characterize it as demonization. Regarding the Rebecca Watson/Phil Mason/Christians/shanking joking, I’d want to see some context before discussing it further. And that’s another problem I have with this article – it would have been nice if Michael had included some links or direct quotes rather than relying on paraphrase.

214 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm

“Nugent’s explamples of PZ Myers’ demonization are, frankly, unclear ”

You can argue that, of course, although I think you will be hard pressed to find many people outside of PZ Myers circle to agree that PZ Myers does not smear and demonise people. But at least we are talking about the substance of the criticism and, I think, implicitly agreeing that Michael Nugent is right in his overall aim even if he is wrong that Myers is a particularly egregious example of the bullying/smearing/personal abuse tendency.

215 Shermertron September 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

theophontes 201

It doesn’t matter that misguided people on better-known sites are using the same twisted SJW logic to criticize Dawkins. If DailyKos told you to jump off of a bridge, would you do it?

Inform yourself of the topic at hand. The childish SJW mindset that can only apply to a highly moderated “safe space” simply doesn’t apply to the real world and to real people.

One thing I have always been curious about: why the FTB crowd is so angry with Dawkins and so in love with their peer who confessed to actions far worse than anything that Dawkins has done.

216 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

“PZ didn’t accuse Shermer of any crimes, he published an anonymous, first-hand account of Shermer sexually assaulting a woman we now know to be Alison Smith.”

But that is a smear, isn’t it? There is no way Shermer can defend himself and the internet is obviously not the place to hold a tribulal on matters this serious. I am entirely agnostic on whether Shermer is guilty of anything here, by the way, I really don’t think I can possibly have enough information to know. try an analogy. Imagine if Shermer published on his blog an anonymous account that described Ophelia Benson engaging in racist mockery when alone with that person and claiming that she personally knows of many others who have had the same experience. Would that not seem like a smear to you?

217 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I wouldn’t go so far as that Minnow, because I feel that in some situations personal invective is necessary, if not for the other party then for the audience, but I’ll definitely agree that Michael Nugent is sincere in his desire to promote reasoned discussion free of vitriol, and in most cases that desire is a positive good. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

218 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

“Social Justice Warriors” (SJW for short) is a disparaging appellation. And deservedly so. It is the difference between a Social Justice activist working hard in real life to change things for the better, and an internet keyboard warrior fueled with self-righteousness.

So yeah, SJW is insulting, meant to be insulting, and well deserved.

SJWs have tried to infiltrate other social and cultural movements before. Atheism/Skepticism is not a new target, and many could be names (although they are so numerous it would be a fool’s errand). They do not care about the movement they infiltrate, they care about how much they can control said movement. Because in the end, SJWs are all about control. They are the pre-Watch Reg Shoes of this world (Pratchett reference). They don’t care much about the issues they are trying to raise, they care about how they are perceived by others and how they will score when the Glorious People’s Revolution comes into place (hint: not in their lifetime).

Thankfully, most solid movements tend to eject them before the bullshit goes too far. Seeing how the Atheist/Skeptical community manages those parasites (yes, not used lightly) will be quite a test of strength. And Myers & friends gave them a sense of legitimacy that they don’t have nor deserve. This will not be forgotten in a hurry.

219 Pitchguest September 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Brilliant reposte, stakkalee. Alleged to be cowardly and inept, you prove him wrong by being cowardly and inept. Well done. *nods respectfully*

220 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

“I wouldn’t go so far as that Minnow, because I feel that in some situations personal invective is necessary, if not for the other party then for the audience”

It is fun and sometimes funny, but I don’t think it is ever necessary to make personal attacks on anyone, although I have more sympathy when someone is responding to an attack (we are all human).

221 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

“Social Justice Warriors” (SJW for short) is a disparaging appellation. And deservedly so. ”

The difference is that it is not personal. The objection here is to named personal abuse and smearing. Nobody is suggesting that ideas and tendencies shouldn’t be mocked and disparaged.

222 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

It would depend on the evidence that resulted from that article; after PZ published Alison Smith’s account other people came forward to confirm parts of her story, both anonymously and publicly, and to share their own stories. If this hypothetical Shermer article about Ophelia produced the same results I’d be more likely to consider it true than to think it a smear.

223 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Minnow, do you consider the appellation SJW disparaging when applied to an individual?

224 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

stakkalee: and how many people actually aligned against Benson or totally pro-Shermer do you think would corroborate those claims? Is “a lot” an average good estimation?

225 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

“Minnow, do you consider the appellation SJW disparaging when applied to an individual?”

Probably not, but if I thought it was considered a personal insult I wouldn’t use it. I would think it as about as insulting as being described as a ‘gnu atheist’. It isn’t an attack on me personally. It is saying ‘I know you identify with a particular politics or set of ideas and I disagree with your position (and find it a bit ridiculous).

226 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

“It would depend on the evidence that resulted from that article”

So you are saying that, on the face of it, as I presented it, it would be a smear. If I could find a dozen people willing to attest that Ophelia Benson was prone to making racist jokes in private, that would meet your requirements?

I don’t think it should. I think the internet chat rooms are the worst possible place to try an issue like this, whether it is Shermer’s reputation for sexual harrasment or Ophelia Benson’s reputation for racism (see how it works?).

227 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm

And Stakkalee, notice that PZ Myers has come across no ‘reliable’ rumours of sexual misconduct from any of the people whom he considers to be close political allies. How likely is it that that should be the case, sex being what it is? It should give you pause at least.

228 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Oops, my last should read:

‘And Stakkalee, notice that PZ Myers has come across no ‘reliable’ rumours of sexual misconduct about any of the people whom he considers to be close political allies.’

229 Shermertron September 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@ 228 Minnow (and Stakkalee)

Interestingly, we DO have rumors of sexual misconduct by PZ and Thibeault. Both accounts were offered by the men themselves and, it must be said, fit very closely the stories SJWs criticize as stereotypical creepy mansplaining.

Stakkalee:

If you’re upset at Shermer after all of the third-hand innuendo and evolving testimony, why won’t you criticize PZ and Thibeault with the exact same logic you’re using against Shermer?

And why haven’t we been mentioning the Radford case, perhaps the most ridiculous and offensive case of PZ piling on? They actually raised 60 grand on that one. (She changed the dates of e-mails, for goodness’ sake! Her accusation got worse by the year!)

230 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

“Interestingly, we DO have rumors of sexual misconduct by PZ and Thibeault. ”

Well, we know that both have been accused of some kind of sexual assault, yes. And I do see the irony that they both think that the woman in the case should be dismissed out of hand (Thibeault seemed, on his blog, to take some satisfaction in the fact that, as he reported it, his ‘victim’ had had her life ruined).

Given how quick both these two have been to smear Shermer with allegations of sexual misconduct, it is tempting to aim at the more substantial accusations levelled against them, but it would be a mistake, because it would be doing what we object to. The internet really isn’t the place to work out this sort of thing, and smearing is smearing.

231 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Since the Radford case has been mentioned, what is happening with that? Is it going to court?

232 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Minnow:

“but it would be a mistake, because it would be doing what we object to.”

I only speak for myself, of course, but I’m not even sure I actually object to those things. I object to the double standards, mostly, because they are antithetical to skepticism. In other words: “it’s ok when we do it”.

233 Shermertron September 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Minnow –

Just for the record, as I said a couple times in this thread, I don’t believe the accusations against PZ or Thibeault, either. I just think that they lose all credibility when urging a completely different standard of evidence, public release of information and level of investigation when THEY are the accused. Their moral indignance seems to disappear…

234 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Minnow, it’s not just Internet chat rooms. Pamela Gay has a story where Michael shermer tried to grope her, prevented only by DJ Grothe. Barbara Drescher reports that Pamela shared the story with her, and we have a secondhand report from Carrie Poppy that DJ Grothe confirmed the story to her. And then we have the James Randi quote from the Oppenheimer article –

“Shermer has been a bad boy on occasion — I do know that,” Randi told me. “I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference.
“His reply,” Randi continued, “is he had a bit too much to drink and he doesn’t remember. I don’t know — I’ve never been drunk in my life. It’s an unfortunate thing … I haven’t seen him doing that. But I get the word from people in the organization that he has to be under better control. If he had gotten violent, I’d have him out of there immediately. I’ve just heard that he misbehaved himself with the women, which I guess is what men do when they are drunk.”

That quote suggests to me that there have been multiple complaints against Shermer, complaints that James Randi believes have merit. I’m not sure what point you were trying to make regarding the lack of “‘reliable’ rumors” regarding misconduct from PZ Myers’ “political allies” – why should it give me pause? It seems unlikely to me that the victim of a sexual assault would go to a close political ally of their abuser to publicize the abuse. Are you accusing PZ of hiding evidence or preventing someone from publishing their own account of sexual misconduct?

Shermertron, it’s incorrect to characterize this as third-hand innuendo; as I said, PZ published an anonymous first-hand account, and we now know the author to be Alison Smith. If you want to campaign to have PZ or Jason Thibeault banned from conferences, or warn people not to be alone with them or accept drinks from them, have at it. I’d even support your right to publish a blog post accusing them of rape if you so desired (are you located in the US? Posting something like that somewhere without our robust free speech laws may not be the best idea.) If you can marshall more evidence than their own accounts of the events, I’d be willing to review the evidence and form my own conclusions about it.

Phil, I’m not sure what you were asking. I’d hope that anyone, regardless of their ideological affiliation, would corroborate an event they personally witnessed.

235 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

stakkalee: a lot of people lie in order to push their political agenda. Whatever side they’re on. Agreed?

236 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Minnow, regarding the Radford case, the last update I can find on that is from late March, when there was the hubbub about the retraction that Karen Stolznow supposedly signed, but later disavowed signing. Radford’s http://benrlegal.info site is no longer up.

237 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Radford’s case was dismissed on grounds of jurisdiction, IIRC.

238 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Sure, people lie all the time, for politics or money or power or sex or fun or boredom. It’s up to the audience to individually assess the veracity of their claims; what I consider adequate proof may not be what you consider adequate proof, and our standards of ‘adequate’ may change depending on what the consequences of the claim are.

239 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

“Minnow, it’s not just Internet chat rooms. Pamela Gay has a story where Michael shermer tried to grope her, prevented only by DJ Grothe. Barbara Drescher reports that Pamela shared the story with her, and we have a secondhand report from Carrie Poppy that DJ Grothe confirmed the story to her.”

Yes, there seem to be all sorts of contested stories, all different in weight and substance, all denied. I don’t know which ones are true and which are false,. I just know that speculation on the interweb is the worst possible way to decide.

“I’m not sure what point you were trying to make regarding the lack of “‘reliable’ rumors” regarding misconduct from PZ Myers’ “political allies” – why should it give me pause?”

Because it is at least noteworthy that the people PZ Myers discovers to have behaved in semi-criminal ways are always people he already has a beef with.

I notice you don’t comment on the accusations of racism directed at Ophelia Benson. I suspect you think it would be degrading to have to respond to smears on the internet. I think you are right.

240 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I’m unaware of any actual accusation of racism against Ophelia Benson. As I understood, you were talking about a hypothetical situation. Do you have an actual accusation of racism on her part? And isn’t claiming that PZ Myers is motivated by a previous disagreement questioning his motives?

241 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

“I’m unaware of any actual accusation of racism against Ophelia Benson. As I understood, you were talking about a hypothetical situation. Do you have an actual accusation of racism on her part?”

I could conjour one up and I think you would have to accept it, no? Given your stated intellectual commitments. I am trying to draw you out on how absurd that would be and make you see that it is analogous to accepting smears made against anyone else on the internet.

“And isn’t claiming that PZ Myers is motivated by a previous disagreement questioning his motives?”

I made an observation that’s all. I think it is noteworthy and should make us more sceptical. If Myers were making an accusation that was personally damaging to him, I would be less sceptical. This is normal. People are biased.

242 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 3:55 pm
243 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Sure, if you want to conjure up a dozen pseudonymous commenters to accuse Ophelia of racism, including the specifics of where, when and what, I’d consider them and probably have some questions for Ophelia. I’d give them more weight if you could get those commenters to speak publicly instead of pseudonymously, and if you could get an organization’s president to confirm them I’d probably give that even more weight. Of course, it might also depend on whether those pseudonymous commenters have a previous history of disagreement with Ophelia, since those previous disagreements would certainly be suggestive, wouldn’t you agree?

244 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Well, WRT Benson and racism, maybe we could start with the “straight white male” cliché? She’s far from the only guilty party regarding this, of course, so there’s quite a bit of material to discuss.

245 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm

OK stakkalee, but if Ophelia denied it, I hope you would side with her victims and noyt her.

Incidentally Randi has not confirmed anything, his comments are far to vague to be taken as confirmation of any specific allegation. And that is a big part of what is wrong with tribunal by internet, everything is aggregated, nothing is specific for long enough to deal with it, the existence of one possibly false allegation is treated as adding credence to another possibly false allegation.

“Of course, it might also depend on whether those pseudonymous commenters have a previous history of disagreement with Ophelia, since those previous disagreements would certainly be suggestive, wouldn’t you agree?”

I do agree and I am glad that you at least seem to be conceding that PZ Myers previous record of hostility towards Shermer should make you more sceptical of the allegations that he has made against him.

246 stakkalee September 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

First off, what is this “previous record of hostility” between Myers and Shermer? Is it simply a previous online disagreement? Second, and again, the allegations were by Alison Smith, not PZ Myers, so this “previous record of hostility” may be suggestive of why PZ decided to publish the account, but says nothing about the actual content of the accusations.

If Ophelia denied it, and she was unable to refute the specifics of the pseudonymous allegations, I’d be inclined to support her accusers, but again, this is simply a hypothetical situation without actual evidence; the actual evidence (testimony, specifics, corroboration) would determine my level and direction of support.

Randi’s statement confirms that he has heard multiple complaints of impropriety against Michael Shermer. It confirms that other members of the JREF management have also heard those complaints, and took them seriously enough to bring them to the attention of James Randi. It confirms that at least in one instance of those complaints, Shermer’s defense was that he was drunk and unable to remember. They are not confirmation of a specific allegation, but they are confirmation that multiple allegations have been made and have been taken seriously by JREF management. Taken together it makes me more likely to believe Alison Smith’s account.

Phil, I really don’t want to get into the whole farrago of “straight white male” discussions, especially since it seems to be getting very far afield of the original discussion. I’m aware of the complaints about the phrase, and I understand why some people take offense when having the label applied to them as a way to characterize or dismiss their arguments, but I frankly don’t have the time or patience today to do that discussion justice. Suffice it to say, I disagree that the phrase itself is racist, although I agree that it can be deployed in racist ways, which is not to say that every time it’s deployed is racist.

247 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 4:47 pm

It is, in and of itself, racist. It is giving attributes and denying opinions to a person/group of persons based on the way they were born. There is no way around it, and there is no excuse of “punching up” that can justify it. Especially when the criteria of “straight white male” is touted around and given publicity by…well…straight white males.

248 Dave Allen September 19, 2014 at 5:56 pm

I don’t see it is as racist so much as question-begging.

“Someone has disagreed with our notions of representing the minorities we purport to represent, how shall we respond?”

“We don’t need to, their perspective is that of the majority.”

That’s not racist.

It’s just ignorant, captious, lazy, myopic and so on.

249 Skep tickle September 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Some of Ms Benson’s own commenters took her to task for posting a photo of several girls lying on the ground, genitals exposed, for “virginity checks”. Part of the concern expressed was that they felt her decision to post it (which she defended vigorously) was influenced by the girls being African.

In addition, she has been called a “TERF” at times, including by some of her own commenters, within the past year or so; I forget the specific situations.

I’m not saying she’s racist, imperialist, or transphobic; I’m saying that people could make a case for calling her any or all of those, based on selected examples of her own postings from her own blog, and could find comments from people who follow her blog (or used to) who have expressed that they thought those terms fit.

250 Phil Giordana FCD September 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm

“White” is not the majority in many, many countries, you know.

Besides, it’s mostly white people making these arguments, which says more about them than about those they attack.

251 Dave Allen September 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

““White” is not the majority in many, many countries, you know.”

Yes! I did actually have knowledge of that!

Without meaning to miss the pertinence of the international perspective on such matters, the fact is that the broad context (but not exclusive – I’m talking gestalt – exceptions to the trend no doubt abound) of the matter of hand is that of the western world.

252 Jan Steen September 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm

PZ Myers responds from deep inside Stephanie Zvan’s safe space:

“Dawkins did publicize it on Twitter: “The supernormally fairminded @micknugent on how the global atheist movement needs to eschew US-parochial infighting”, with a link to the hit piece.”

So the OP is a “hit piece”. It’s like Al Capone complaining about pick pockets. The lack of self awareness is hilarious.

253 piero September 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I find it surrealist to meet the alter egos of Sally Strange and Tony and others in this thread. Tony went as far as dropping the “queer stoop” from this version of him, which to me reads almost as if he had decided to wear a suit and a tie before entering the boardroom. Don’t be scared, Tony: we are not pahryngulites. Sally Strange’s transformation has been no less spectacular; her post have a Thatcherian feel about them that I’d never have expected from her.

I’ve found this thread extremely useful and informative. It is a real pity, however, that no explanation has been forthcoming concerning the double standards applied to Shermer, on the one hand, and to Myers, Dylan and Thibeault on the other. A real pity. It wasn’t as if Shermertron’s didn’t put the question clearly and repeatedly. Oh, well, just one more mystery in this mysterious universe, I suppose. What really nags me is that they KNOW the answer, and are just too selfish to share it with us despicable cis hetero white cyber rapists (Hey, I’m unemployed! Does that count? Do I get Brownie points? Can I know the secret?)

254 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 19, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Piero: Oolon on the other hand doesn’t even bother with the suit and tie. This comment of his (125) makes my point in a manner both striking and hilarious:

Congratulation to Steve Van Eykl / impossiblebones for being a very rare person to call out PZ on his language towards creationists.

In my original comment, I made no mention of my Twitter handle ‘impossiblebones’. Which means that after reading my comment, Oolon immediately went off to do a little ‘research’, to see if he could dig anything up about me. And then he made sure to drop it into his reply, just so that I would know that he had done so. Classic bully behavior: he might just as well have said “I know where you live and I can reach you any time I want.” Unfortunately for him, doxxing really doesn’t work on people who are already out in the open.

255 Crackity Jones September 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

stakkalee: I’m unaware of any actual accusation of racism against Ophelia Benson.

She has had many accusations of Islamophobia, including indirect accusations from Alex Gabriel and Sarah Jones.

256 Pogsurf September 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Classic bully behavior: he might just as well have said “I know where you live and I can reach you any time I want.” Unfortunately for him, doxxing really doesn’t work on people who are already out in the open.

I’m in the Green Party in the UK, and last year Oolon threatened to doxx me to his aunt who sits in the House of Lords. Needless to say I was quite scared.

257 piero September 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

@steve (or should I say “impossiblebones”? 😉 )

Well, in my list that ranks up there with wearing a tuxedo and sandals! Oh the horror, the horror…!

Why would someone like Oolon want to desecrate that holy, venerable name is beyond me. Oh, Oolon Colluphid, forgive them, because the know not and don’t want to know! I can only attribute such callousness to the false consciousness instilled in him by Myers the Mighty and his fondness for nailing bits of bread to planks of wood.

258 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 5:16 am

@ Minnow Minnow # 152

By the way, Dawkins has distanced himself from that intervention.[Dear Muslima]

He made a semi-apology for the first half of that post. He has not apologised to Rebecca, who has every right to continue to call him out. As she has done in the link I gave.

#202

It is easily shown that the meaning of the tweets isn’t what is being claimed by these people, …

If we were to read RD’s tweets outside of their contexts.

But unfortunately for your argument, the writers have placed RD’s tweets in their correct context: Shermer is being accused of getting a person drunk in order to have sex with them without proper consent. Shermer is being accused of rape. Richard Dawkins is trying to move blame from the (alleged) perpetrator to the victim.

Get au fait with the context, otherwise there is no meaning to the tweet.

@ Dave Allen #203

“To pull someone’s leg” is idiomatic, Dave. I use the idiom to indicate that I do not believe Jan Steen to be making a valid argument. He is making a sweeping statement about “these people”, being “too cowardly and inept to respond here”. Do you understand that I am one of “these people”? Yet I am commenting here.

{waves at stakkalee}

@ Jan Steen #204

If that’s your whole response then it just proves my point, doesn’t it?

Read my response to Dave Allen. Is this really the hill you want to make your stand on?

259 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 6:13 am

@ Shermerton #215

It doesn’t matter that misguided people on better-known sites are using the same twisted SJW logic to criticize Dawkins.

If Dawkins was presented with the allegations that have been levelled at Shermer with all the names redacted, would he have tweeted about the matter in the same manner?

“Person A spiked person B’s drink in order to rape B.”

To which is responded by person C: “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

A reporter would be hard pressed to pretend Person C is not being a rape apologist. That the above describes the alleged situation in Shermer’s case should not suddenly detract from this. We know our A,B,C’s here.

This bit is particularly disgusting: “don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened”. WTF? The whole point of predator drugs is to incapacitate the victim and ensure they do not remember. This is precisely why predatory rapists use substances such as rohypnol and alcohol on their victims.

If DailyKos told you to jump off of a bridge, would you do it?

I don’t need to read Daily Kos to see Richard’s victim blaming for what it is. I merely need to read his own words.

Inform yourself of the topic at hand. The childish SJW mindset that can only apply to a highly moderated “safe space” simply doesn’t apply to the real world and to real people.

Have you ever considered that rape victims may need highly moderated “safe space”s? The real world contains a lot of rapists, and rape apologists. Even in the atheist blogosphere.

why the FTB crowd is so angry with Dawkins

It is not that the rape apologetics of Dawkins is more revolting coming from him per se. It is that he has a very big soap box to spew such opinions, and thus he can inflict more damage than most with his words.

260 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:43 am

Theophontes-
You automatically assume Shermer is the victim. This is far from established in any skeptic’s mind…there is insufficient evidence.

And as I pointed out on a different post in this blog-if Allison sat on this information for five years, having the courage to email Shermer and sit on a SEX panel with him, yet unable to manage the courage to protect anybody else by properly airing this charge-that is disgraceful. If Shermer is what you say, then this person had a hand in letting him exploit victims for another five years. But now you believe her. Disgraceful, shameful….I have no words for YOUR kind of rape apologist.

261 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:45 am

Pardon me, I’m quite angry. “If Shermer is the perpetrator”, not victim. But the whole episode, with its dingy reek of tabloid gossip and “I’ve got a grenade” tittering…foul beyond any decent person’s grasp.

262 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:47 am

And ONE MORE TIME! If the accusation alone is enough, why is PZ, Lousy Canuck and others not on the firing line? Will none of the PZ /Benson apologists answer? They were accused, how is this case ANY different?

263 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:51 am

You won’t answer because you can’t. The only difference is the one accused is part of your tribe. You shamefully ignore this. You can’t “win” this because you are so very hypocritical. You certainly don’t understand that nobody “wins” when mob rules. You just show fealty to your warlord.

264 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

@ MadMike #’s 260 – 263

You won’t answer because you can’t.

I can answer you. It appears you misunderstand me.

I agree (and have emphasised) that Shermer is innocent until found guilty. But this is not the argument that Dawkins is advancing in the tweets in question. What he is doing, is taking the crime of predatory rape, and trying to shift the blame onto the victim. This makes him a rape apologist whether or not Shermer is in any way guilty of such a crime.

If Richard Dawkins had defended his buddy in the manner that you have done, by raising sensible arguments in Shermer’s favour, I would not have to hammer on this.

Neither you, nor I, know how this will pan out. Perhaps, as you suggest, it turns out that Shermer is wholly innocent and he is the victim of multiple false allegations (which in themselves may constitute crimes). That does not in any way let Dawkins off the hook. He has indulged in rape apologetics. He is not helping Shermer by doing this, he is only helping rapists.

265 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 8:43 am

theophontes – “Read my response to Dave Allen. Is this really the hill you want to make your stand on?”

Where did you address PZ’s fraudulent behaviour that I described, or the double standards regarding rape accusations against the ingroup (Myers, Lousy Canuck) and members of the outgroup? I must have missed it, and if so, I apologize.

Seriously, all that cultish people like you do is to try to deflect the discussion by talking instead about Dawkins’s tweets and how to read these in the most fucked-up, uncharitable way.

266 Phil Giordana FCD September 20, 2014 at 8:50 am

“rape apologist”. This term has lost all of its original meaning and bite. Same for “misogyny”, “rape enabler” and… well, basically any word used by SJWs to try and silence people who don’t agree with them.

I’d call it “pathetic”, but I’m afraid this word would start losing its meaning as well.

267 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 9:10 am

@ Jan Steen # 265

Where did you address PZ’s fraudulent behaviour that I described

PZ can answer for himself.

the double standards regarding rape accusations against the ingroup (Myers, Lousy Canuck) and members of the outgroup?

As far as I know Myers, Lousy Canuck and Michael Shermer are all innocent in the eyes of the law.

Seriously, all that cultish people like you do is to try to deflect the discussion by talking instead about Dawkins’s tweets and how to read these in the most fucked-up, uncharitable way.

Ooooh “cultish”. Did you even bother to read the OP?

Dawkins tweets are actually quite crass. Don’t suggest there is ambiguity in them, when there is not.

@ Phil Giordana #266

“rape apologist”.

Whom the cap fit, let him wear it.

This term has lost all of its original meaning and bite.

Balderdash! It perfectly describes what RD has done.

Same for “misogyny”, “rape enabler” and…

In your own head perhaps. Are you going to get all “Dear Muslima” on us next? “Minor” acts of misogyny remain acts of misogyny Phil. Pointing them out doesn’t weaken the word in any way.

268 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

Bizarrely, Richard Dawkins is currently digging himself deeper and deeper. He is really going the extra mile to prove that there are no ambiguities in his casual rape apologetics.

He is unravelling in real time, even as people on this thread try to soft sell his older tweets.

Pathetic! (And no, this word has not lost any of its meaning.)

269 Brive1987 September 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

Theo, I see that fisking habit is proving hard to kick

270 Phil Giordana FCD September 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

Misogyny has lost it’s meaning thanks in no small part to SJWs. I could disagree with a woman who is spewing nonsense, and yet it is turned into misogyny by the SJW implication that I disagree with her BECAUSE she’s a woman (well, the Right Kind of Woman, that is, not one of those “chill girls, “gender traitors” or “sister punishers”).

It has come to a very severe case of “the boy who cried wolf”, where accusations of misogyny lose all credibility except in cases of actual, blatant misogyny. Which are vanishingly rare in the A/S community, to the chagrin of the easily-outraged.

So well done, SJWs, you have once again totally undermined your own “cause”.

271 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

theophontes – “PZ can answer for himself.”

So can Richard Dawkins. Yet you feel the urge to discuss his perceived flaws and prefer to remain silent about PZs’. I wonder why.

“As far as I know Myers, Lousy Canuck and Michael Shermer are all innocent in the eyes of the law. ”

Another cop-out. The issue was the double standards, not whether or not any of them is guilty in the eyes of the law.

“Dawkins tweets are actually quite crass. Don’t suggest there is ambiguity in them, when there is not. ”

Here’s Dawkins’s latest tweet on rape:

“Even worse for rape victims, in some societies women are blamed, shunned & even prosecuted for BEING RAPED. No wonder they don’t report it.”

I can’t see anything wrong with this. Let me think.
***
Ah, now I see your problem! Islamophobia! Dawkins once again shows himself to be a vile racist!

(Am I doing this SJW outrage thing right?)

PS. Aren’t you the one who compared Rebecca Watson with Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Harvey Milk? May I take this opportunity to thank you for the good laugh this gave me? It brings a smile to my face again as I write this. Thank you.

272 Dave Allen September 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

““To pull someone’s leg” is idiomatic, Dave. I use the idiom to indicate that I do not believe Jan Steen to be making a valid argument. He is making a sweeping statement about “these people”, being “too cowardly and inept to respond here”. Do you understand that I am one of “these people”? Yet I am commenting here.”

I’m aware of the idiomatic context of “to pull someone’s leg” – I’m also aware of the idiomatic context of “these people” in that you don’t need to cite every exception in order to refer to a trend.

Moot now, given that stakkalee’s subsequent involvement renders the particular circumstance chosen for point of illustration irrelevant, but there it was.

273 piero September 20, 2014 at 1:58 pm

@Jen Steen:

Your reply to theophontes was brilliant. Thank you for that.

274 piero September 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm

@theophontes #267:

“Balderdash! It perfectly describes what RD has done.”
Excellent! What a gem of reasoned argument: it is so because I say so. Would you please render unto us some other pearl of wisdom?

““Minor” acts of misogyny remain acts of misogyny”
Logically true. But since “misogyny” actually means “hatred of women,” I doubt that “minor” acts of misogyny actually exist. Is “a minor act of misogyny” the same as “an act of minor misogyny”? If that is the case, then the expression does not make sense. Can you hate somebody a little bit? Can you hate all women just a little? If I hate some women (as I most assuredly do) does that make me, say, 0.00000000001% misogynist?

275 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

@ Brive1978 #269

Theo, I see that fisking habit is proving hard to kick

Actually, I’m being accused of NOT responding to everything.

@ Jan Steen #271

So can Richard Dawkins.

Oh I wish he would.

Another cop-out. The issue was the double standards

Hey, I’m not calling out any of those people. What exactly are the “double standards” then?

“Even worse for rape victims, in some societies women are blamed, shunned & even prosecuted for BEING RAPED. No wonder they don’t report it.” – @RichardDawkins

My Holy YHWH but you are being wilfully obtuse. It is EXACTLY victim blaming and rape apologetics that add to the problem of rape victims being “blamed, shunned & even prosecuted”! A few twits prior, Richard Dawkins was going out of his way to contribute to the very problem he raises.

Also, the phrase “some countries” is being ingenuous. In the UK rape victims are blamed and shunned by people like himself.

I can’t see anything wrong with this. Let me think.

I realise you cannot see anything wrong with this. More’s the pity.

(Am I doing this SJW outrage thing right?)

You seem to be drifting off topic.

Aren’t you the one who compared Rebecca Watson with Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Harvey Milk?

Guilty as charged. All four of them have fought against bigotry. All four of them were initially derided for doing so.

Do I think Rebecca currently enjoys the fame and stature of the others? No, of course not. Or at least: not yet.

@ Dave Allen #272

Moot now

Indeed. But I think the initial accusation was little unfair. Some people avoid confrontation, and for very good reasons. Their arguments may yet be pertinent.

@ piero 273

Your reply to theophontes was brilliant.

:snorfle:

# 274

But since “misogyny” actually means “hatred of women”.

You are giving a very narrow definition because it serves your argument. I would love you to supply me with a citation that indicates such.

Can you hate somebody a little bit? Can you hate all women just a little?

Dear Muslima went out of its way to say that certain forms of discrimination are minor and should be ignored. RD gave an example of such by calling out Rebecca Watson and contrasting her elevator experience with FGM. Personally, I think he was wrong to do this. We should be fighting all forms of misogyny wherever we find them. (He has since stepped back from his original position.)

Perhaps you could rephrase your questions to gain some insight into how this works: Can you hate steal from somebody a little bit? or better: Can you hate hurt somebody a little bit?

Surely I do not have to spell it out for you more than this?

If I hate some women (as I most assuredly do) does that make me, say, 0.00000000001% misogynist?

If you hold their being women against them, then yes, you are being misogynistic.

276 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

My apologies:

If I hate some women (as I most assuredly do) does that make me, say, 0.00000000001% misogynist?

…was supposed to be in blockquotes.

277 Dave Allen September 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm

“But I think the initial accusation was little unfair. Some people avoid confrontation, and for very good reasons. Their arguments may yet be pertinent.”

Yeah sure, but ultimately you’re never going to know if you stay in your safe space rather than venturing into no man’s land.

What I welcome about this particular round of posts from Michael is that I think only the blind partisans (on either “side”) can sensibly doubt his efforts to be fair and humane.

And in turn I think that has resulted in discussion that – whilst hardly devoid of the rancor that infests other venues (on either “side”) has a markedly more constructive and reasoned tone to it afaict.

So for someone to remark on another forum that he ought to be getting busy with his censor’s pen did strike me as annoying and cowardly. Particularly in light of the OP that was misrepresenting what had been said.

But I welcome stakkalee’s subsequent involvement, because being here and talking to people seems better to me than being elsewhere saying people should be trimming their threads.

278 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm

theophontes, dodging questions does not make you look smart.

“Hey, I’m not calling out any of those people. What exactly are the “double standards” then?”

The double standard is that in the case of Shermer the principle of “believe the victim” is applied by most in PZ’s Flock (or the Horde as they like to call themselves). Many of his commenters feel free to call him a rapist. One of the more rabid ones, the robotic Nerd of Redhead, even called Shermer “a known rapist” in the ‘Grenade’ thread. At the same time, the Flock blindly believed PZ when he described how he was accused of sexual harrassment (he later used the word rape) but claimed that this was a false accusation.

You’re telling us that you are an exception? Are you seriously considering the possibility that Shermer’s accuser may be lying, or exaggerating or misremembering what happened? Or that PZ may be guilty of rape? Tell that to your fellow Pharyngulanhas; I doubt it will make you popular in that murky pond.

“My Holy YHWH but you are being wilfully obtuse. It is EXACTLY victim blaming and rape apologetics that add to the problem of rape victims being “blamed, shunned & even prosecuted”! A few twits prior, Richard Dawkins was going out of his way to contribute to the very problem he raises.”

How is Dawkins any different from you, who apparently considers it possible that Shermer is the victim of a false accusation? As far as I can see, all Dawkins does is pointing out that it can be problematic always to believe the accuser. He also points out that the use of the alcohol can make women more vulnerable to rape and at the same time less capable of recalling what actually happened. These are plain facts. People like you call that victim blaming and, gulp, rape apologetics. But unless you always believe the accuser, there will inevitably be cases where a real victim will be unable to make a credible case. You either believe all accusations or you require some kind of evidence to separate the probably true from the probably false.

I find it frankly ludicrous that there are people like you who seriously believe that a man like Dawkins condones rape. I have not seen the slightest evidence for that, apart from some deliberately uncharitable or twisted interpretations of a few tweets. The recent piece by Adam Lee on Dawkins in the Guardian is a fine example of the kind of character assassination that is going on. To call it a hit piece would be an understatement. Of course, the likes of Ophelia Benson are lapping it up. The dishonesty of these SJWs is breathtaking.

“Do I think Rebecca currently enjoys the fame and stature of the others? No, of course not. Or at least: not yet.”

Haha, you’re priceless.

279 piero September 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

@theophontes:
“misogyny: a hatred of women” is the standard dictionary definition. Check, for instance, Merriam-Webster at m-w.com. You can, of course, take any word, distort its meaning and them claim that’s what the word really means. But nobody is obliged to accept it. As a matter of fact, I don’t, and neither does any English speaker outside of your clique.

Stealing and hurting have degrees. Hating does not. Either you hate someone or you don’t. I’ve never heard anyone say “I hate X a little”. The usual expression in such cases is “I dislike X.”

“If you hold their being women against them…”
I don’t. And neither does anyone in this thread, nor do Harris and Dawkins and Coyne and Blackford and Nugent and everybody else you have tarred. You know this to be the case, hence you are dishonest. Go away.
Don’t thank me for the free English lessons. It’s not even my first language.

280 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:22 pm

So at least we are all agreed that Allison (Shermer’s accuser) bears some responsibility for any victims in the five years she was silent. I assume you PZ defenders agree, as you’ve let this pass.

Think about it. Enough courage to do a chatty, chirpy email, sit with him on a sex panel, but cannot warn any future victims for five years. And then chooses to divulge on a joke of a blog, with a blogger that already expressed animosity to Shermer.

You do find that reprehensible, do you not?

281 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm

So, Theo, you will now admit that PZ has been accused in a like manner that Shermer was, and you will do your best to warn society. If PZ considers that a smear, well, too bad.

This is what you’re saying, of course? That a simple allegation is grounds for a smear campaign, and that is right, good and proper?

You keep jumping around the topic. But I will make it clear. Everybody deserves their day in court, a chance to clear their name, and (pay attention for a change) a chance to defend themselves. Mob justice has none of these things. You don’t get to scream “rape apologist” at your misinterpretation of a tweet and then say it’s not a smear. Especially as YOU are a rape apologist for letting Shermer’s accuser off the hook for FIVE LONG YEARS. Bear your title proudly. You deserve it far more than Dawkins or Nugent.

282 Crackity Jones September 21, 2014 at 1:40 am

Yet again, there is an elephant in the elevator.

There is a poster at FreeThoughtBlogs (Ogvorbis) who has ADMITTED he raped on at least two occasions. The first, he was forced by an adult. The second, he was NOT. It was through his OWN VOLITION. This is not gossip, not a claim about “getting someone drunk”. It is a OUTRIGHT ADMISSION. Clear as daylight on the planet Mercury.

PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson et al (plus their sycophants like Theophontes) keep ignoring this astonishing double standard, to focus only on someone who is a perceived enemy. So why should anybody take the rantings of PZ and the rest of the FTBullies seriously, when they attempt to cover up these actual rapes?

To me, the cases against PZ and Jason are to be considered just as strong, if not stronger, than the case against Shermer, because (conveniently) we have not heard their victims’ stories. In the case of PZ, this was an incident of a man in power (PZ) and a victim who was vulnerable (a student).

I will not allow FTBullies off the hook for this double standard, and I encourage others to follow me in highlighting this wherever you can post – especially in feedback in articles on HuffPo, BuzzFeed, Slate, etc. where the FTBullies have managed to get a few of their “sexism” hit pieces out. If the FTBullies are naming names, name them and Ogvorbis in the comments of these articles.

283 Iamcuriousblue September 21, 2014 at 3:04 am

Mad Mike @ 280 (and elsewhere)

The most charitable interpretation I can make of Allison Smith’s change over time is that she really was blackout drunk when she had sex with Shermer and regretted it, but blamed herself for being so drunk. Later came around to seeing that as rape and came forward with allegations.

Less charitable is that she had drunk but consensual sex (possible if you’re only mildly drunk), later fell into the whole partisan “feminist” faction of atheism and came to dislike Shermer, and became convinced that this was, in fact, a rape.

Without knowing which of the two is really the case, I’m not one to go on the warpath toward either of them.

284 MadMike September 21, 2014 at 3:47 am

Understandable, Iamcuriousblue, but I could have been spared certain mental and physical scars had someone come forward. Since the accuser’s stated reason was warning others, it is curious that she would wait five years and after Shermer was married.

I rarely post here, or bother with twitter, but I’ve always admired your…gentle?….empathetic? style. I seem to recall you were a civilizing influence back in the pre-PoMo days of FtB, though I might be mistaken. In any case, your posts have been appreciated.

And thank you, Michael Nugent, for taking what I imagine to be a difficult stand. I appreciate your tolerance, as my posts have displayed a bit of frothing anger. Apologies.

285 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 21, 2014 at 10:32 am

@ Dave Allen # 277

Yeah sure, but ultimately you’re never going to know if you stay in your safe space rather than venturing into no man’s land.

This sounds reasonable on the surface, and I agree that it would be a good thing to strive for. However, this is not always the case. There are many people who do not feel safe commenting throughout the internet. This is particularly true on sites that give free reign to all manner of misogyny and bigotry. Very often under the banner of frozen peaches or somesuch.

People who have been hurt physically and emotionally in the real world do not need that mentality revisited upon them whenever they comment online.

People point out that PZ is very unfair and harsh in his policies. I look at it another way. He has created a space that is largely free of the casual bigotry and slurs that infest so much of the blogosphere. There is a safe space in which less privileged voices can be raised without immediately being shouted down. Some venture out from this into no man’s land and take some part of that message with them.

@ Jan Steen #278

theophontes, dodging questions does not make you look smart.

Are you here to just to look smart Jan? I’m not.

The double standard is that in the case of Shermer the principle of “believe the victim” is applied by most in PZ’s Flock…

Then why are you painting me with the same brush? Are you suggesting I cannot think independently for myself? The lockstep is all in your head. Go off to Pharyngula and whine over there.

You’re telling us that you are an exception? Are you seriously considering the possibility that Shermer’s accuser may be lying, or exaggerating or misremembering what happened?

As for Shermer, I am happy to wait on the jury. But I might also point out that the accusations are not going to go away by belittling them,or the growing number of people making like accusations.

Or that PZ may be guilty of rape?

You have every right to present your evidence. I am not standing in your way, am I?

How is Dawkins any different from you, who apparently considers it possible that Shermer is the victim of a false accusation?

I do not make light of the seriousness of the crime. I do not try and shift the blame onto the victim. I have asked you before: do you understand that this does not help Shermer in the least?

These are plain facts.

The plain fact is that the rapist shouldn’t rape. Period!

WTF is so incredibly hard for you to understand here?

You either believe all accusations or you require some kind of evidence to separate the probably true from the probably false.

This is exactly where predatory rapists get going. They rape people that they know by spiking their drinks. The whole idea is to manipulate the evidence (or the lack of it) in their favour.

I find it frankly ludicrous that there are people like you who seriously believe that a man like Dawkins condones rape.

Dawkins own words condemn him, not me. If he lacks the communication skills to speak out on this serious matter, then he should stay quiet. Rape victims are condemning him in much harsher terms than I do.

deliberately uncharitable or twisted interpretations

Dawkins deserves no charity from anyone. He is awfully articulate in what he says. And what he says is twisted. If I were a real friend to him, I would tell him to stop tweeting about matters he is blithely ignorant of. He is doing himself, and others, no good.

Adam Lee

Who has offered to meet with Dawkins and go through his claims item by item.

Haha, you’re priceless.

Describe that feeling to me.

That is the same feeling detractors of Mandela, King and Milk had back in the day. Belittle your accusers, joke about them… Mr Backlash.

286 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

@ theophontes #285 (?)

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Michael please!

I am not about to do something “untoward”.

@ piero # 279

Merriam-Webster


:snarfle:

Next you will tell me about “dictionary atheism”.

Pfffft: “Misogyny (/mɪˈsɒdʒɪni/) is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.

Stealing and hurting have degrees. Hating does not.

Let us test your theory: “I hate avocados.”

Meh.

The usual expression in such cases is “I dislike X.”


Merriam-Webster
(for what it is worth):

hate = a very strong feeling of dislike

.

Dawkins and Coyne and Blackford and Nugent and everybody else you have tarred.

My beef has actually only been with Dawkins. (Go ahead, scroll through this thread.)

Dawkins has belittled women in the past and continues to do so today. If your point is that he denigrates both male and female victims of rape equally, then you may have a case to make.

It’s not even my first language.

That appears, clearly, to be the case.

287 piero September 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

@theophontes:

As I said, you can take any word and use it idiosyncratically, but nobody else is obliged to abide. That your definition differs from the standard one only goes to show how out of touch with reality you are.

Explain to me how you can have “a little of a strong feeling of dislike.”

288 Lizzie September 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell
you I genuinely enjoy reading your articles.
Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
Many thanks!

289 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hi Lizzie,
I would suggest checking out http://www.freethoughtblogs.com where you will find a whole range of topics related to science, atheism, skeptism, feminism and the like.

290 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm

@ piero

Use an adult dictionary:

Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women:

she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny

Oxford Dictionary

Oxford is, appropriately, RD’s alma mater .

Dictionaries are not prescriptive, if you want to know how the word is used correctly, then educate yourself in feminism.

291 Carrie September 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm

“Dawkins has belittled women in the past and continues to do so today”

No, he has not. In fact he has supported and helped a lot of women, just as he has a lot of men.

It amazes me how consistently people mis-read what he says. Even back to his “Dear Muslima” comment, where he was obviously pointing out that Rebecca Watson’s elevator incident was a non-event, which it was. A man in a lift who asks politely whether a new acquaintance would spend a little more time with him, and who accepts the rejection calmly, is in fact not a threat or a potential rapist, nor any of the other things that were suggested in the overblown elevatorgate threads.

All of his tweets, when taken in context but even, mostly, when taken out of context, are reasonable points. XYGate, Paedo-and-rapeGate, and now the latest RapeGate, are all blowups created by those who refuse to read what he actually says and instead read their own emotional bias into it.

It is annoying that the SJWs keep re-defining words to suit themselves. Atheism is in fact the lack of a belief in any god, and those who are vocal about it do great things when they directly oppose the religious. It is thanks to their vigilance and energy that we have science and not creationism taught in science classes. That is the sort of thing that any atheist “movement” or “society” or whatever you want to call it is here for; keeping religion out of inappropriate places and helping people who need some sense of community after coming out of a religious background.

Atheism is not designed to be an umbrella to cover the many different interests of its supporters. I lurk around atheist sites in order to enjoy the debunking of Christian apologists and the likes. If I wanted to be in a group that focused on something else such as politics or stamp-collecting, I would hang out in other places, not in some kind of catch-all place that tried to be all things to all people and where many postings or videos are of no interest to me. I happen to be totally uninterested in feminism — that does not mean that I am anti-feminist, I am simply not interested in any aspect of it other than the concept of equality, which to my mind is for everyone or it is not in fact “equality”. Why should people such as I bother to go to an “atheist” conference only to discover that most of the panels are about women’s issues? There is much talk about the fact that there are too few women at such events. It is possible that some women are in fact keeping away because of the over-emphasis these days on female stuff, although it is also possible that the scare-stories put out about Shermer et al are worrying more timid women.

292 piero September 21, 2014 at 4:19 pm

@Theophontes:
“Misogyny … is the hatred or dislike of women or girls.”

“Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”

The two definitions you want to make me accept are different, but never mind that. Both suggest an irrational, deep-seated, emotional antipathy to women. I defy you to show any evidence at all of misogyny in any of the SJW usual targets.

It appears you need words you can throw at people, i.e. the rotten tomatoes argument. When your targets obviously don’t fit the description, you suggest that the “real” meaning is broader, and is thus an appropriate moniker. Sorry, but even your proposed meanings are not broad enough.

293 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

theo wrote:

Dictionaries are not prescriptive, if you want to know how the word [misogyny] is used correctly, then educate yourself in feminism.

It’s common knowledge that the vast majority of the English-speaking public still understands “misogyny” to mean “hatred of women.” So when people hurl accusations of “misogyny,” they know quite well how their targets will interpret it.

That a subset of academics and activists have recently broadened the word’s definition to include things other than “hatred of women”—things ranging from the real problem of unconscious bias against women to simply holding an opinion that a third-wave feminist disagrees with—only makes it intellectually dishonest to indiscriminately use the word in its loose sense.

294 Jan Steen September 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm

theophontes – “Go off to Pharyngula and whine over there.”

How disingenuous you are. You know very well that I would promptly meet PZ’s ‘mighty’ banhammer and end up getting my posts removed.

I note that you continue to tiptoe around the question why we should not believe the female student who accused PZ of sexual harassment.

“I do not make light of the seriousness of the crime. I do not try and shift the blame onto the victim. I have asked you before: do you understand that this does not help Shermer in the least?”

Nobody is making light of the crime of rape. Many, however, are pointing out that an accusation five years after the fact by someone who was drunk at the time of the alleged rape will be difficult to corroborate. You are begging the question by assuming that the accuser is indeed a victim. We don’t know that. Don’t you see that that is the whole problem? How obtuse are you?

“The plain fact is that the rapist shouldn’t rape. Period!
WTF is so incredibly hard for you to understand here?”

I have a nine year old daughter. I teach her not to trust strangers and never to let them take her anywhere. I guess I’m now a rape apologist in your eyes. I should teach strangers not to abduct kids, right?

“This is exactly where predatory rapists get going. They rape people that they know by spiking their drinks. The whole idea is to manipulate the evidence (or the lack of it) in their favour.”

Yes, that is a problem. To make matters worse, teaching women that people might spike their drinks is endorsing rape culture, rather we should teach men not to spike women’s drinks. So, what is your solution? Always believe the accuser? Then why do you let PZ off the hook? Lock him up already.

I guess it is pointless to discuss Dawkins any further with you, as you have made up your mind, and so have I.

“Describe that feeling to me.”

Let me try. Comparing Rebecca Watson with the likes of Mandela and MLK, and suggesting that she may one day be mentioned in the same breath, is like expecting that a three-toed sloth might one day win the Derby at Ascott. It’s simply ludicrous in the extreme.

295 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 22, 2014 at 5:27 am

@ Carrie # 291

No, he has not. In fact he has supported and helped a lot of women, just as he has a lot of men.

And he has also made many statements that hurt people.

is in fact not a threat or a potential rapist,

You know this how? What do rapists look like? How are they supposed to behave in order for us to recognise them?

@ piero # 292

Sorry, but even your proposed meanings are not broad enough.

I think they are quite adequate in the current situation.

@ Guestus Aurelius # 293

only makes it intellectually dishonest to indiscriminately use the word in its loose sense.

Are you suggesting we procede using words in their “loose sense” or that we hold a proper, intellectual conversation?

I have defined what I mean quite clearly, and provided a link to the Oxford Dictionary. They know quite well as to how their targets should interpret the word.

@ Jan Steen # 294

How disingenuous you are. You know very well that I would promptly meet PZ’s ‘mighty’ banhammer and end up getting my posts removed.

Then post your evidence here. You accused PZ of raping a student in comment #184. I suggest you document all your evidence and hand it over to the proper authorities.

I note that you continue to tiptoe around the question why we should not believe the female student who accused PZ of sexual harassment.

We should take all accusations of rape very seriously. Please could you provide the full details. Stop tiptoeing around this. You have been very vague in presenting your case. Until you do so, you cannot expect me to respond to you in more detail.

Many, however, are pointing out that an accusation five years after the fact by someone who was drunk at the time of the alleged rape will be difficult to corroborate.

I am pointing out to you now that a delay in reporting predatory rape is quite common. The whole modus operandi of predatory rapists is to make the accusations against them difficult to corroborate.

Your buddy Dawkins was not happy about this article: I was raped when I was drunk. I was 14. Do you believe me, Richard Dawkins?

The matter was not reported five years after the event. The matter was only reported decades after the event.

I should teach strangers not to abduct kids, right?

The current discussion is about rape. You can, and should, teach strangers not to rape. You can, and should, denounce rapists, and rape apologists. Teaching respect for others autonomy (however much they drink, whatever they wear, whatever age they are) will reduce both rape and abduction.

To make matters worse, teaching women that people might spike their drinks is endorsing rape culture,

Dawkins was targetting Alison on behalf of his buddy. Rather than apologising, he has people like you to cherry pick and pretend the issue was “hypothetical”, or an oportune moment for him to teach a women.

.

“Expecting a terrorist like Mandela to run this country is like expecting that a three-toed sloth might one day win the Derby at Ascott. It’s simply ludicrous in the extreme.”

Ja, ou …er … Jan. Ek het voorheen so iets gehoor, maar dan in Afrikaans.

I guess it is pointless to discuss Dawkins any further with you

Well, at least you have learned two new words: “disingenuous ” and “obtuse”.

296 Guestus Aurelius September 22, 2014 at 6:09 am

Are you suggesting we procede using words in their “loose sense” or that we hold a proper, intellectual conversation?

I have defined what I mean quite clearly, and provided a link to the Oxford Dictionary. They know quite well as to how their targets should interpret the word.

What I’m saying is this:

When you call someone a misogynist, you know damn well that they’ll almost certainly interpret it as an accusation that they hate women. That’s the common definition of the word. So if that’s not what you mean, then the onus is on you to make that clear to your target. If you don’t, then you’re acting in bad faith. Being secretly prepared to retreat to the broader feminist redefinition of the word if challenged doesn’t justify your duplicity. See Nicholas Shackel’s “Motte and Bailey Doctrine”: http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2014/09/motte-and-bailey-doctrines/

(By the way, do you regard Merriam-Webster and American Heritage as “adult dictionaries”? The former defines misogyny simply as “a hatred of women,” and the latter has only “Hatred or mistrust of women.”)

297 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 6:38 am

theophontes – “You accused PZ of raping a student in comment #184.”

Really? Your reading comprehension is that bad? Or are you trying to put words in my mouth*? Either way, you’re not worth responding to anymore, if you ever were. I’m done with your dishonest twisting of my words and evading of every point raised. You are a perfect example of the cult behaviour that has repeatedly been pointed out.

*Just for the record, Myers himself has written that he was accused of sexual harassment by a student, and later used the word ‘rape’ when he referred to the incident. I have never claimed that Myers actually is a rapist; I merely questioned the double standards applied by his sycophants. theophontes has studiously avoided a clear answer, which tells us all we need to know.

298 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 22, 2014 at 7:10 am

@ Guestus Aurelius #296

When you call someone a misogynist, you know damn well that they’ll almost certainly interpret it as an accusation that they hate women.

Bullpucky. You are making the No True Misogynist ™ argument.
If people take exception to the meaning of the word, they can look it up in a proper dictionary. Do not start an argument about feminism if you are so ignorant of the terms in use.

I shall also happily spell out why I find the word appropriate. And no M-W falls far short in this regard.

@ Jan Steen #297

I have never claimed that Myers actually is a rapist

The claim being made against Shermer is that he is a rapist. Are you admitting to a false equivalence here?

I merely questioned the double standards applied by his sycophants.

The accusation against Myers is that he exaggeratedly used the word “rape”? This is a “double standard” after you compare a grammar malfuncton against an (alleged) actual rape?
Hardly comparing apples with apples.

299 Jan Steen September 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

Don’t bother replying to me, theophontes. You have sufficiently exposed yourself for what you are and are only making it worse. Your hypertrophied smugness is not commensurate with your intelligence. In the immortal words of Nerd of Redhead: FLOOSH.

300 Carrie September 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Quote:

295 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 22, 2014 at 5:27 am

“@ Carrie # 291

No, he has not. In fact he has supported and helped a lot of women, just as he has a lot of men.

And he has also made many statements that hurt people.

is in fact not a threat or a potential rapist,

You know this how? What do rapists look like? How are they supposed to behave in order for us to recognise them? ”

END Quote

His statements only hurt people who mis-read them or who look for offence.

They become “hurtful” to people who never saw them in context, when they are blown up by SJWs who spread them all over the net and “explain” them in their own distorted fashion. SJWs do rape survivors no favours by doing this.

I know that Elevator Man was not a potential rapist because he never even made a slight move. Speaking to your companion in a lift is not a sexual move, it is simply a form of politeness. When you are in such a situation you can either converse or remain silent. To some, silence is uncomfortable, especially when the other person in the lift is someone with whom you have just been talking at the bar. Remember, he was not a total stranger, he was one of a variety of people with whom she had been chatting. Even Rebecca Watson did not say that she thought he was a rapist, only that it was a bit creepy, possibly because she didn’t fancy him and/or is not a person who likes to talk in lifts. The fact that he found her “interesting” was not a sign of objectification or sexualisation, which was what RW had been speaking against in her earlier talk. If she chose to see it that way, that is rather her problem. By the way, I am amazed that RW got so upset at Dawkins over “Dear Muslima”; to me it seemed that the comment was not directed at her, it was directed at the insane escalation of the non-event in the Pharyngula thread.

But no, he was not a potential rapist except in the eyes of anyone who sees all men as being potential rapists. Men=/=rapists. Some men rape or sexually abuse women, sure; but what man would choose such a venue, in a place where there were still many people awake to hear screams, where he would be easily identifiable, and such a woman, who was perfectly capable of kicking him in the nuts? Come on, people, think more of RW (and of many such a woman) than that she is a shy cringing wee victim. If I was her I would be outraged at being put in the “victim” box.

301 Guestus Aurelius September 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Theo, if you really insist on outright dismissing my point about the often equivocatory use of the word “misogyny”—a point that I’ve spelled out rather clearly now, with support from two of the most trusted English-language dictionaries—then I can only echo Jan Steen’s sentiments.

302 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm

@ Carrie #291

Atheism is in fact the lack of a belief in any god, and those who are vocal about it do great things when they directly oppose the religious. It is thanks to their vigilance and energy that we have science and not creationism taught in science classes. That is the sort of thing that any atheist “movement” or “society” or whatever you want to call it is here for…

Your opinion on the matter is rather different than Michael Nugent’s:

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas. I believe that this should include tackling sexism, racism, homophobia and other discriminatory biases in society.

Michael is endorsing what you may refer to as the “social justice” aspect of atheism.
The difference between he and I is less in terms of goals, than in methodology. I believe that Michael’s mollycoddling of people, who should rather be called out, is an approach that is counterproductive to these aims. Misogyny is rife in the atheist blogosphere. It has to be tackled with a lot more decisiveness, and a lot less pandering to toxic mindsets.

# 300

[RD] His statements only hurt people who mis-read them or who look for offence.

I suggest you read the link I posted in #295. Will you thereafter tell such a person they mis-read his gormless statements?

I know that Elevator Man was not a potential rapist because he never even made a slight move.

Such a statement makes you sound incredibly naïve. Do you honestly think rapists spend more than a very tiny fraction of their lives raping people? Rather, a large part is spent building their cover. Rolf Harris travelled in many lifts. Though he might have shared pleasantries with other occupants, I do not think he ever gave them the impression he was anything but a polite and friendly person.

The rape threats against Rebecca did not AFAIK emanate from Elevator Guy. They came from many others in the atheist community. All for the “crime” of saying “guys, don’t do that”. The atheist community is rife with such people. It is time to be a little less polite.

303 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm

@ Jan Steen

Well, you just tootle along there, reactionary pissant.

Guestus Aurelius

Et tu Guestus !

304 Pogsurf September 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm

theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物), can you give a specific example of Michael ‘mollycoddling’ someone? I know what the word means, but I would like to understand better who is being mollycoddled, and in what way.

305 Carrie September 22, 2014 at 6:09 pm

@ 303 theophontes

“Your opinion on the matter is rather different than Michael Nugent’s:”

And I have to agree with everything that Michael says why, precisely? I think that he keeps a great blog and is very good at actually listening to other opinions. I may be simply a woman who doesn’t blog but I do have my own opinions, gained through my personal research and lived experiences.

“I suggest you read the link I posted in #295. Will you thereafter tell such a person they mis-read his gormless statements?”

I read that article a while ago and do not need to tell her that she mis-read Richard Dawkins’ incisive tweets; Richard did that himself when her page link was tweeted to him. He pointed out quite correctly that not only could she remember the rape, but also she had a witness. I agree with him that, when someone does not remember the rape and has no witnesses or actual evidence, then that is not evidence on which to jail a man. And just so that you know where I am coming from, I have had my share of non-consensual sex and abuse and I am not some hero-worshipping fan of Dawkins or anyone else in the atheist “movement”. I just dislike it when I see unfair sniping.

“The rape threats against Rebecca did not AFAIK emanate from Elevator Guy. They came from many others in the atheist community. All for the “crime” of saying “guys, don’t do that”. The atheist community is rife with such people. It is time to be a little less polite.”

Regarding Elevator Man, please do not be so silly. Rebecca was getting the usual hate mail of a prominent person on the Internet, which she made a big point about in her talk on Elevator Eve. This does not make a mild semi-acquaintance in a lift become a potential rapist. I have no specific issue with what RW said in her video; my point is that the SJW crowd jumped onto it and escalated the whole incident into something huge — when in fact it was nothing. As for Rolf Harris he was not a rapist, please get your facts straight. His appeal, if successful, may in fact eventually show that he was also not a paedophile nor even, perhaps, a groper.

306 Carrie September 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Also I do not agree that “Misogyny is rife in the atheist blogosphere. ” I find that we in the West live in a very female-positive world these days, and I can understand the puzzlement of men who love women and are accused of hating or oppressing them or whatever the latest definition is of “misogyny” amongst the SJWs.

307 turniplover September 22, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Reading these comments, I’ve noticed that when oolon posts, he’s pretty much ignored, and I wanted to thank you all for that. The guy deserves to be ignored, utterly. That is the only way to treat a troll.

308 piero September 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

@

“That is the only way to treat a troll.”

Exactly! On the other hand, mentioning him in posts without addressing him might be even more effective.

Soooo, Oolon is just this guy, you know. He trolls.

309 piero September 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

@ turniplover:

Sorry, I forgot to add your name in my previous post.

As I was saying, this Oolon guy is…

310 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

@ Pogsurf

I’m sure you recall: RD nuanced memoir and the unjust personal smeara against him.

I’ve called Michael out on this before. He is glossing over Richard Dawkins’s many gaffs and teating him with kid gloves.

311 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 1:39 am

Er, … treating.

312 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 2:43 am

@ Carrie

And I have to agree with everything that Michael says why, precisely? I think that he keeps a great blog and is very good at actually listening to other opinions.

Social Justice [Warriors] is being bandied around here as a means of othering and/or insult. I am pointing out that Michael’s goals are actually congruent with the so-called “SJW’s”. You create, thereby, the impression that it not as much the content, but the tone that you hold in esteem. Or is it that you and I are in agreement, that Michael’s approach is undermining of social justice goals?

313 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 3:24 am

@ Carrie

Richard did that himself when her page link was tweeted to him. He pointed out quite correctly that not only could she remember the rape, but also she had a witness.

I wish Richard would stop constantly trying to point out how “wrong” rape victims are.

[named person] also knows that she was raped, she also has witnesses coming forward. Dawkins chooses to ignore this, as do you.

Rolf Harris was one of many caught at the time ( Google: Jimmy Savile) Some will get off on appeal, some won’t. And they were all upstanding members of their communities prior. Hell, one was even world famous for his charity work.

314 Pogsurf September 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

Thank you theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物). I appreciate you were trying to make your point on the earlier thread in a witty way. I can’t fault you for that.

I can see that you are comparing Michael’s approach to Dr Pangloss’ ‘always for the best in the best of all possible words’ mantra. I think at that time you were accusing Michael of over-excessive fairness towards Dawkins.

Your claim now is that Nugent mollycoddles Dawkins. But if your Dr Pangloss analogy is true, shouldn’t we expect Nugent to also be mollycoddling Myers?

Your objection now appears to be about fairness. Aren’t you now making the claim that Michael is overly excessively fair to Dawkins, but he doesn’t behave as fairly to Myers? If so, your Panglossian remark no longer holds water, and you should withdraw it.

I’ll re-quote you original remark:

The difference between he and I is less in terms of goals, than in methodology. I believe that Michael’s mollycoddling of people, who should rather be called out, is an approach that is counterproductive to these aims. Misogyny is rife in the atheist blogosphere. It has to be tackled with a lot more decisiveness, and a lot less pandering to toxic mindsets.

Now that you have clarified that it was Dawkins who was being mollycoddled, I can see that you were claiming that Dawkins has a ‘toxic mindset’. There is no making an argument here, you are just forming your own opinion about the contents of someone else’s mind, adding your own negative spin, and asserting that as fact. Why do you behave in such a toxic manner?

315 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 10:15 am

Something that Richard Dawkins, Jan Steen and I all have in common, is that all three of us have daughters.

From my own perspective, I would be apalled had his daughter gone through what Alison has gone through, only to read a twit, like her father’s, in which he dispenses the “advice” that I have criticised. And thereafter to hear excuses about “hypotheticals” and “general advice” would be simply sordid.

It is twits such as his that we would not tolerate if they were directed against our family or close friends, however small or large the scale of the problem.

Michael understands this principle only to well, yet choses not to apply his own suggestions to Richard. He holds his one particular friend to a completely different standard than any other.

316 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

@ Pogsurf#314

the earlier thread

Aaah, yes. As I recall, you were the commenter mistaking their own verbosity for erudition.

317 Pogsurf September 23, 2014 at 10:35 am

I don’t believe Dawkins has been offering advice. I believe he has been trying to promote an argument about ethics.

Can anyone point me to a tweet of Dawkins where he says ‘this is my advice’, particularly on the subject of rape, as I would like to reconsider if my belief is shown to be false?

318 Pogsurf September 23, 2014 at 11:07 am

Aaah, yes. As I recall, you were the commenter mistaking their own verbosity for erudition.

Careful, now theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物), we don’t want any more toxicity do we?

319 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

@ pogsurf

‘this is my advice’

He didn’t want to make it too wordy, just for a twit.

320 Carrie September 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

312 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 2:43 am
@ Carrie

“Social Justice [Warriors] is being bandied around here as a means of othering and/or insult. I am pointing out that Michael’s goals are actually congruent with the so-called “SJW’s”. You create, thereby, the impression that it not as much the content, but the tone that you hold in esteem. Or is it that you and I are in agreement, that Michael’s approach is undermining of social justice goals?”

However it may be that others use the term SJW, I use it simply to identify the type of SJ person of whom I speak. There are those who believe in social justice and there are those who are militant about it, just as there are people who don’t believe in a god and there are those who are forceful about it (militant atheists). None of these terms are pejorative (unless you decide to take them as such), they are descriptive. Michael does not display militant behaviour. I do not think that Michael undermines anything. I think that SJ people who squabble amongst themselves undermine their goals.

@ 313 theophontes

“I wish Richard would stop constantly trying to point out how “wrong” rape victims are.”

I have never seen him do that. I have seen him point out how wrong some SJWs can be, and I agree with him. In the specific case in question, he was not saying that she was wrong, he was implying that she could in fact have taken her case to court. My only issue with what he says is that twitter is not a good place for a long complicated discussion and I don’t see how people can really tell which tweet has been responded to by whom. Which is probably why most of these misunderstandings flare up.

“Alison also knows that she was raped, she also has witnesses coming forward that indicate that Shermer is lying. Dawkins chooses to ignore this, as do you. Which of Shermer’s convenient narratives he chooses to believe I cannot imagine. If he has his own version I would be intrigued to hear it. Currently, Dawkins’s and Shermer’s position is looking rather untenable.”

I have said nothing about the whole Shermer thing because I was not there and know nothing beyond what has been posted. I do not know the character of all of those involved. I have not seen any of Alison’s witness testimony and would be glad to see it. Her story looks a little odd, but so does Shermer’s. Until I know more facts there is no point in taking a stance on the issue, is there? It is possible that Dawkins also says nothing about it for similar reasons.

“Rolf Harris was one of many caught at the time ( Google: Jimmy Savile) Some will get off on appeal, some won’t. And they were all upstanding members of their communities prior. Hell, one was even world famous for his charity work.”

Actually, most of these Operation Yewtree-connected cases have been dropped, others have been found Not Guilty and should NOT be pilloried, they have suffered enough. DLT (an old disc jockey) is being re-tried on two cases having been found not guilty of 12 other accusations and having had to sell his house. The men who have been accused have lost a great deal; the old “no smoke without fire” nonsense. Of the rest, Stuart Hall (an entertainer) pleaded guilty, Max Clifford (an old PR type of guy) was found guilty and has not appealed against the convictions. Rolf was found guilty of indecent assault without any evidence and has lodged an appeal. He was NOT a rapist, even according to the Court. It would seem that several ladies were comfortable being painted nude by him and were not assaulted; presumably they would have been happy to ride in a lift with him. It looks as if O.Y. are going after Cliff Richard (an elderly singer) now, in full glare of the media. I have much to say about these cases but this is not the place; suffice to say that, with all the avid and loud media coverage it is impossible for a jury to be truly objective.

321 Carrie September 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

Looks as if my comments are kept under moderation now. Not sure what I have done wrong in Michael’s eyes, but if there is something bad about my posts I apologise and will stop taking part. Cheers.

322 Pogsurf September 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

He didn’t want to make it too wordy, just for a twit.

Is your interpretation, but where is the evidence to back up your belief?

323 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) September 23, 2014 at 11:51 am

@ Pogsurf#319

Careful, now theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物), we don’t want any more toxicity do we?

One person’s advice is another person’s poison.

324 Jan Steen September 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm

@Carrie,

Looks as if my comments are kept under moderation now. Not sure what I have done wrong in Michael’s eyes, but if there is something bad about my posts I apologise and will stop taking part. Cheers.

I believe some words automatically trigger moderation here. I can’t mention these words now or this post will too end up in moderation.

No, wait, I can do it like this: I strongly suspect that the word l_i_e (remove the underscores) and words derived from it trigger moderation. There may be others.

Let’s see if this goes through.

325 Jan Steen September 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Yay, it did.

326 Carrie September 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

@ Jan Steen September 23, 2014 at 12:23

“I believe some words automatically trigger moderation here. I can’t mention these words now or this post will too end up in moderation.

No, wait, I can do it like this: I strongly suspect that the word l_i_e (remove the underscores) and words derived from it trigger moderation. There may be others.”

Ah! Yes that worked *smile* I see… Well I did not use that word although it is a part of other words. Such as bel_i_ef. Well I have no idea which other word may have triggered it. This is the first blog I have posted onto, and only within the past couple of weeks or so, so I am not familiar with which words are considered to be no-nos.

327 Carrie September 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Jan Steen September 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm

well my reply to you was also kept under moderation, and it contained just a quote and a sentence indicating that I am new to blog posting. Maybe I should accept that I am no good at this.

328 Carrie September 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Oh hey they are all out of moderation now! Thanks Michael.

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