The LBJ legend and my email to PZ Myers

by Michael Nugent on September 19, 2014

You may have heard the legend that Lyndon B Johnson spread a rumour that an election rival fucked pigs. When challenged that he knew it wasn’t true, LBJ supposedly replied, ‘Of course it’s not true, but I want to make him deny it.’

Today Ophelia Benson tweeted to me: ‘I really wish you would address why you think we should shut up about sexual harassment reports,’ and asked me ‘Why are you telling us to keep sexual harassment secret?’

I told Ophelia this was untrue and defamatory, but she declined to withdraw the tweet. She claimed I had said this in my recent post, and also in an email that I sent to PZ Myers in August.

So we are firmly into LBJ territory, with the impression being created that an email exists in which I told people to keep sexual harassment secret.

This is the email that I sent to PZ in August, just after he had described the suicide of Robin Williams as the death of a wealthy white man dragging us away from news about brown people.

I will leave it up to you to judge the level of porcine fornication involved.

My email to PZ Myers in August

PZ,

You have just published a sensitive account of your first kiss as a teenager. You have written some science-based posts in response to Richard Dawkins’ recent tweets. And you recently published a post arguing that people are complex, rather than good or bad. I hope that while you are in this more positive psychological space, you can think anew about the harm and hurt and injustice that you have caused to other people through your blog.

As you know, whenever we have met in recent years, I have raised concerns about this. Some of the content of your blog is hurtful and unjust in itself, it also undermines the effectiveness of attempts to promote compassion and empathy and social justice, and it is additionally harmful because of your prominence as a perceived spokesperson for organised atheism. I am copying Ophelia and Richard as this is relevant to their recent joint statement.

Each time that we have discussed these concerns, you have responded that you will tone it down, which to some extent you have. You no longer encourage your 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 very low hurdle for a blog that aims to promote compassion and empathy and social justice.

In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. Less seriously, but still setting a metaphorical tone for your blog, you have joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about you stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

Last week you 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, and responded to criticism by saying that you should have been more rude, because asking you to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is missing the point. While that seems to have been the final straw for some people, it remains part of a pattern of behaviour that is fast becoming your legacy.

PZ, is this really how you want to be remembered? Having defended you against unjust attacks from others, I am now asking you to take a long hard look at what you are doing, consider apologising to people who you have unjustly hurt and defamed, and start focusing on actually promoting compassion and empathy and social justice if those ideas are important to you. You cannot credibly promote such values in what I have paraphrased as the ethos of “You must be more compassionate, you fuckbrained asshole!”

I am happy to discuss this further if you want to.

Michael

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{ 156 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephen Duggan September 19, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I don’t know Michael, over the past couple of years, the ‘global atheist movement’ has become indingiushable from the bowel variety.

2 Stephanie Zvan September 19, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Yes, that’s exactly what I see you saying. If you didn’t want him to stop talking about the allegations, what exactly did you suggest he change about the behavior?

3 Ophelia Benson September 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Michael. Instead of accusing me of defamation, would you PLEASE answer the question I’ve asked you multiple times now? What else did you mean?

What else were we supposed to understand from

Each time that we have discussed these concerns, you have responded that you will tone it down, which to some extent you have. You no longer encourage your 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 very low hurdle for a blog that aims to promote compassion and empathy and social justice.

In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. Less seriously, but still setting a metaphorical tone for your blog, you have joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about you stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

?

What was the point of saying “you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes” if you didn’t mean “and that was a bad thing to do”?

If you can explain that, I will withdraw the tweet. But without an explanation? No.

4 Steersman September 19, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Great post Michael – as is frequently the case. Quite a reasonable criticism of many in the FTB camp, notably of PZ Myers, and of Ophelia Benson – in particular her skirting a charge of defamation.

However, I also get a sense that in your post, and in the “Great Rifts” themselves, there’s a not inconsiderable element of “you say po-ta-to; I say po-tat-o” – of very different interpretations of the same events with the “truth” either being in the middle somewheres, or totally lost. I’ve frequently referred to what I consider an analogous case, that of the spinning dancer cognitive illusion: the dancer is technically spinning in neither a clockwise nor a counter-clockwise direction; just that different types of mental processing leads to the perception of one or the other.

And, more specifically, as it pertains to your post, I think your comments about “keeping sexual harassment a secret” qualify as a case in point. You might, and apparently do, think that “publicly [accusing] Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes” is beyond the pale, and should be anathematized. But Benson and company might, with some justification, call that insisting on “keeping [potential] sexual harassment a secret”.

Sticky wicket, I think. One might argue that a society has a right, if not an obligation, to protect itself – its members – from predators. But individuals also have the right to protect themselves from baseless accusations. And there’s the rub: how to deal with conflicting obligations, particularly when evidence tends, in the nature of the beast, to be rather thin on the ground.

5 Stephanie Zvan September 19, 2014 at 11:50 pm

And a comment from Ophelia, as she is currently in moderation here:

Michael. Instead of accusing me of defamation, would you PLEASE answer the question I’ve asked you multiple times now? What else did you mean?

What else were we supposed to understand from

Each time that we have discussed these concerns, you have responded that you will tone it down, which to some extent you have. You no longer encourage your 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 very low hurdle for a blog that aims to promote compassion and empathy and social justice.

In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. Less seriously, but still setting a metaphorical tone for your blog, you have joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about you stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

?

What was the point of saying “you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes” if you didn’t mean “and that was a bad thing to do”?

If you can explain that, I will withdraw the tweet. But without an explanation? No.

6 Ophelia Benson September 20, 2014 at 12:00 am

Yes, sure, I’m “skirting a charge of defamation.” Take me to court.

7 Ophelia Benson September 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

Think of all those children tortured and enslaved in the Irish industrial schools. Should all that have been kept quiet unless and until the people responsible were convicted in court? And then only the crimes those people were directly responsible for, but not the people higher up who gave the orders and took the money from the state?

Should the adults who were raped as children by priests have kept quiet about it forever if they couldn’t persuade the police and the courts to act?

There are reports by investigative journalists in the US that most sexual assault in the military never makes it to trial because the prosecutors are themselves military people, and they have an incentive to conceal it instead of prosecuting it. There are similar reports about US universities, which “handle” such reports themselves, much the way the church does, instead of calling the cops. Golly gee guess what, most of the time they decide nothing much happened.

I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed. But I am saying the court system doesn’t always work, to put it mildly, and there needs to be a backup.

8 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

Michael, please don’t argue with the likes of Zvan and Benson and Myers. They can only drag you down to their level. Throw them under the bus, drop them like a hot potato, wipe them from under your feet, avoid them like the plague. They are horrible, scheming, sick individuals. Let them stay away from your conferences, let them sink into their well deserved irrelevancy. There is really absolutely nothing to gain from appeasing this bunch of character assasinators who have never produced and who will never produce anything of value.

9 Steersman September 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

Ophelia said:

Yes, sure, I’m “skirting a charge of defamation.” Take me to court.

GMAB. You stopped reading my comment at that point? Maybe a long skirt?

You look to be so bloody dogmatic & taken with your own sense umbrage, of being offended, that you’re unwilling and unable to comprehend my point, that “honest men and women can disagree”. And that there’s some merit in trying to understand the other person’s point of view.

10 arthur September 20, 2014 at 12:12 am

Correct: PZ Myers wrote a really poor article in the wake of Robin Williams’s death. It appeared insensitive to some people who had suffered mental illness and \ or had been impacted by suicide.

Correct: The tone PZ Myers can be childishly sarcastic, depressingly sensationalist. At his worst The Glen Beck of atheism.

Wrong: The main problem here isn’t Myers or Ophelia. It is blatant sexism in the movement. From “Estrogen Vibe” to Dawkins’s public meltdown about rape, to Phil Mason’s relentless attempts to discredit feminists. And that’s just the past week or so. This disgusting behaviour has been going on for years.

Wrong : Michael, you are wrong on this.

11 Gurdur September 20, 2014 at 12:22 am

No, arthur (@ 10), you are the wrong one in this. Very clearly, Michael Nugent took up the issue of PZ Myers’ behaviour – which you yourself acknowledged was “childishly sarcastic” etc.. The fact that Ophelia Benson et al want to talk about what is a different issue – sexism – does not excuse or remove the first issue. She and you talk as though one issue meant another issue didn’t need to be considered. As though the sexism issue means suddenly PZ’s behaviour can be swept under the carpet. Or, in other words, you are trying to “Dear Muslima” Michael Nugent. Given the circumstances, I find that ironic .

12 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 12:23 am

“The main problem here isn’t Myers or Ophelia. It is blatant sexism in the movement.”

I agree. All the constant raging against “white cis-heterosexual males” is incredibly sexist, and racist to boot. It. Must. Stop. Now.

13 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 12:42 am

O.B. wrote: “I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed. But I am saying the court system doesn’t always work, to put it mildly, and there needs to be a backup.”

I might agree that some sort of back-up is needed, but you have proven yourself completely incapable of being any part of that back-up.

Please stop trying to be the back-up. You make it worse in every way, for every person, when you try.

Please.

14 Steve Vanden-Eykel September 20, 2014 at 12:43 am

Ophelia: I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed. But I am saying the court system doesn’t always work, to put it mildly, and there needs to be a backup.

And the backup needs to be spiteful mediocrities drumming up traffic for their blogs. Yeah, I feel safer.

15 piero September 20, 2014 at 12:57 am

Some people have difficulty comprehending a fairly basic point which I now proceed to elucidate for their benefit.

Asking someone not to publish unproven accusations is not the same as asking them to keep harassment secret.

Obviously, Ophelia Benson and Stefanie Zvan know this. However, they pretend to believe that Michael was actually asking them for help in covering harassment up. They do this because they know their fetishistic, obsessive approach to social issues has already alienated a good number of former minions, and desperately need to construct enemies in order to keep the troops disciplined. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Russell Blackford, Michael Shermer and now Michael Nugent are ideal targets because they are white men, and thus easily silenced with the usual arsenal of non-arguments: mansplaining, check your privilege, racist, bigot, patriarchy and so on.

It seems to me that by now this activity takes up most of their blogs’ space. Having nothing to contribute is a blogger’s nightmare, so they have opted for this lazy and rather indecorous strategy.

Is it worth engaging these persons? I think not. There is nothing to be gained by this pseudo-discussion, for example. Ophelia and Stefanie know that their accusation is groundless, yet they repeat it in a crescendo of frenzied outrage as if they believed it. It is not garden-variety dishonesty: it is downright self-delusion. And it is a well-known fact that discussions need a sane mind on both sides.

16 Michael Nugent September 20, 2014 at 1:03 am

Ophelia and Stephanie,

I don’t really want to write a rushed reply at 2 in the morning after a long day, but I think we should try to resolve this issue so that we can get back to discussing the substantive issues.

First, Ophelia, there are your tweets. You are not asking me what I meant, but attributing claims and motivations and thoughts to me that are not true.

You seem to be conflating the general plural notion of ‘sexual harassment reports’ with a specific allegation that a named person had committed multiple rapes.

You seem to be conflating the notion of telling an appropriate law or health support or rape crisis agency with telling a blogger on the Internet.

From all of that, you have concluded and claimed that I am telling people to keep sexual harassment secret, which is simply not true.

Now there is another tweet from Sally Strange, linking to a post from you, Stephanie, which has even more misrepresentations of what I have written.

In that post, you wrote that “During the period when Shermer was almost certainly aware that Mark Oppenheimer was writing his article on the allegations… Nugent attempted to use his influence directly to get PZ to stop talking about them.”

That’s simply not true. It would take a bizarre interpretation of my email to imply that it had any specific focus on that issue, which as far as I know PZ had stopped blogging about anyway, and I have had no other contact with PZ since then. I had no notion about the Oppenheimer article until I saw it published.

Then you name me among a group of people of whom you say “It particularly looks that way given that none of those people supported the push for conference anti-harassment policies, and some openly opposed them.” But I did support anti-harassment policies. We have them in Atheist Ireland because I proposed them.

Then PZ, in your comments, described my email to him as “essentially a draft of the article he published…a month or two ago… and so plainly a threat to take his complaints public, that I saw no point to replying.”

That is also not true. It wasn’t a draft of the article, as I had no article in mind then. It was a letter to a person who I considered to be a friend who I thought was behaving badly.

I’ll address it all in more detail when I’m more awake. Talk to you tomorrow.

17 Hunt September 20, 2014 at 1:04 am

Ophelia Benson says,
“I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed. But I am saying the court system doesn’t always work, to put it mildly, and there needs to be a backup.”

Who decides what the thresholds are for extra-judicial publication of charges? If I suspect someone of wrongdoing (whatever the offense happens to be) do I just report it to my local newspaper or write a letter, just in case it happens to be true and others might be hurt by said wrongdoer? It’s a serious question, if you’re really serious about establishing this as an accepted technique. I mean, I guess we could leave it for the civil courts to decide everything after the fact. So basically you should feel free to charge anyone with anything, so long as you’re willing to face the consequences. I’m not sure I (or you) want to live in that world.

18 John welch September 20, 2014 at 1:10 am

“Ophelia: I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed. But I am saying the court system doesn’t always work, to put it mildly, and there needs to be a backup.”

A backup? Made up of an angry, unthinking mob of idealogues who define right and wrong solely by how blindly one agrees with them on any and every utterance, be that utterance oral, written, or rectal? I am unsure of how to respond to such a completly inane suggestion. Normally, I’d use laughter, but knowing you are serious and actually view yourself in some kind of Robinesque role to an imaginary ineffectual Batman/legal system makes me want to find a reliable heroin dealer, so that the pain this…ridiculous…delusion generates can go away.

The only legal authority your methods are suited to back up both prospered and died out in late 1700s France, and should be left there. One Madam Defarge is quite enough.

19 Shermertron September 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

Mr. Nugent –

You are making the generous mistake of assuming that Svan, Benson et. al. want to argue and arrive at the truth of the matter. These people have already decided what is truth and will attack anyone who disagrees with their predetermined dogma.

No evidence will satisfy them. No demonstrations of their hypocrisy will get through. Engaging with them, sadly, is an act of wild masochism.

The FTB people have decided that they want a gated community consisting of policed thoughts. The rest of our communities and the sensible world at large have allowed them to have their fill and pat each other on the backs for perceived victories. (But not before getting written permission to engage in physical touch.) I enjoy pointing out their hypocrisy and the incoherence of their ranting as a hobby, but real thinkers such as yourself shouldn’t be derailed from their work.

20 Michael Nugent September 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

Ophelia, you wrote earlier at #3:

“What was the point of saying “you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes” if you didn’t mean “and that was a bad thing to do”? If you can explain that, I will withdraw the tweet.”

I have now explained that, in an interim way, in comment #16. Yes, I do mean that what PZ did was a bad thing to do, but that is a different and more specific claim than the much broader allegation that you accused me of.

So I hope that you will decide to withdraw the tweet on the basis of that, so that we can get back to discussing the substantive issues.

21 Crackity Jones September 20, 2014 at 1:15 am

Michael, you have not learned the way of the FTBullies.

Ophelia, and in particular, Zvan (I could write a book about her bullying and abuse) have NOTHING constructive to say here. They are polluting this board, while hypocritically moderating any dissent at their own sites. They have always done this, because they are deeply dishonest individuals. Plus, they are increasingly malicious individuals.

The atheist and skeptic communities really needs to drive out people like Ophelia and Zvan. We don’t need them, and we don’t them. When will they get this message!

Also, if Ophelia keeps up with her nonsense, just mention “Ogvorbis”, and the fact that she defends him. She’ll go quiet very quickly.

22 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 1:16 am

Peezus! Michael. If you’re going to start reading tweets or posts or comments from Sally Strange then you are freaking doomed. Until now I was of the opinion that you’re probably too honest and nice to be engaging with these folks, but I was confident that you’d survive and you’re doing a very good thing. But now I know that you’re doomed. Please listen to the folks who are suggesting that you give it up. If not, at least take the stairs from now on.

23 Shermertron September 20, 2014 at 1:17 am

arthur #10:

Who is “Phil Mason?” I am not aware of an atheist/skeptic/secular thinker who calls himself Phil Mason or has social media accounts with that name.

24 noelplum99 September 20, 2014 at 1:20 am

One day I am going to wake up and all of this will have just been some kind of playground regressive dream.

25 Steersman September 20, 2014 at 1:28 am

Arthur @ #10:

Well, it seems we have some agreement on some of Myers’ many failings.

But can’t say that I agree that “the main problem … is blatant sexism in the movement” – particularly as there seems to be diddly-squat in the way of evidence for that which was supposedly entailed in the “Estrogen Vibe”. Pray tell, how does acknowledging physiological and psychological differences constitute sexism? Would you argue that acknowledging that men and women generally differ in their karyotypes constitutes sexism? And if those substantially underwrite generally or frequently different behaviour patterns and tendencies?

One might criticize Harris to some extent for his inept or “inartful” phrasing in describing “that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male” which is supposedly characteristic of the “atheist variable” – i.e., the atheist cohort. But when the Pew Forum (1) indicates that there’s a 2-to-1 ratio of men to women who identify as atheist or skeptic (pg 62) then it shouldn’t be surprising that there are going to be more men than women of a particular level of “critical posture” within atheism – even assuming the most likely case that the distributions are equal in the general populations in the first place, and, in the second, assuming that there aren’t other factors which would draw more men than women to atheism.

But unfortunately many people seem to think (2) that acknowledging such “brute” facts constitutes sexism, that “it’s saying that women can’t do sophisticated thinking of any kind, because they’re too estrogen-y and nurturing.” Which is anything but the case. And which suggests a rather problematic degree of disingenuousness, carelessness, dogmatism, or outright intellectual dishonesty.

—–
1) “_http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/09/that-critical-posture-that-is-to-some-degree-instrinsically-male/”;

26 Steersman September 20, 2014 at 1:32 am

Noelplum99 @ #24:

Some truth in that perspective. I kind of think there are quite a few similarities with Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First”: massive amounts of misinterpretations, some of it intentional, most inadvertent or careless.

27 Iamcuriousblue September 20, 2014 at 2:35 am

Michael – To be fair, since the publication of the Openheimer article, the accusations against Shermer are on stronger ground. Three alleged victims have come forward and identified themselves. Not absolute proof of guilt of course, and Shermer deserves his day in court, criminal or civil, but I think it’s risen to the level of serious allegation at this point.

That said, at the time you wrote the above letter, these were merely anonymous allegations coming from PZ Myers, and were quite rightly viewed as shitty, partisan allegations on his part.

Ophelia – You are absolutely putting words in Michael’s mouth with the claim that he’s trying to intimidate anybody into silence about serious sexual harassment or rape allegations. Your ongoing insistence on this doing this IS defamatory in the broadest sense, even if it doesn’t rise to legal defamation. Common decency says you should really cut that the hell out.

28 Skep tickle September 20, 2014 at 2:40 am

I might suggest that Mr Nugent & Ms Benson converse by phone or Skype rather than Twitter & blogposts to help clear up their differences – or at least to more clearly identify their differences about what the questions & issues even are.

29 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 2:45 am

Can’t cut and paste on the phone. Not gunna happen.

30 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 2:57 am

In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes

That’s demonstrably untrue. Myers has not publicly accused Shermer of anything; Myers has reported accusations. Prevaricating like this makes you seem dishonest (not disinterested) in combatting sexual harassment and assault within this community.

Again, you might want to answer the question put to you: why are you invested in ensuring that such accusations be kept secret?

31 aneris September 20, 2014 at 3:02 am

I saw the conversation on Twitter, and asked Ms Benson where she has seen that Michael Nugent was “telling us to keep reports of sexual harassment secret” and she replied that “[i]t’s the bit where he [Michael Nugent] mentions Michael Shermer”

Here are both contexts that mention Michael Shermer in the first article in question, “recent media misrepresentations…”

Context 1

[…] In the last year or so, he [PZ Myers] 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. […]

Context 2

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.

The follow up article, “The atheist movement is global” mentions Mr Shermer only in a list of people that are American.

I am usually very critical of the Social Justice League (i.e. atheist-skepcis social justice warriors, formerly known as the Atheism Plus faction), but after looking closer into the contexts, I think I see where Ms Benson is coming from.

Michael Nugent, you have listed items where PZ Myers has in your opionion “demonized” someone and you packed various cases together, with Michael Shermer in there. You gave the impression that such things should not be blogged about, where then Ms Benson takes this as an appeal to “keep reports of sexual harassment secret”.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries “to demonize” is to “portray as wicked and threatening” (and usually means in an unfair or unwarranted way). But who decides whether something is unwarranted? This is the contention. If demons existed and somebody would describe them as dangerous, then it ironically wouldn’t be considered as a “demonizing” because it would be truthful.

However, I got from the various contexts that the alleged defenders of Michael Shermer aren’t claiming he is innocent. Instead, it is generally the tenor that proper authorities need to establish what happened. Until then, someone who wasn’t convicted must be treated as innocent. Many people have expressed various personal opinions one way or the other and every shade in between.

The problem, as I see it, is that the social justice league bloggers don’t adhere to minimal ethical standards when reporting about such assertions. Media often have to report about people not yet convicted and that is possible. I don’t have a problem with “web of trust” where friends believe friends, either. But that has its limits when PZ Myers and co demand that other people just pretend that the “web of trust” around them is somehow authoritaritve for other people.

The list of names suggests that they rather often poison the well (look up the term) to signalize to each other what information or affililation is “safe for consumption and association” and from where to stay away from. It is tribalism paired with the unique social justice warrior behavioir, where they peacock on the moral high ground for virtual hugs from their peers. That indeed seems to appeal more to the Americans, perhaps an evangelical desire to appear as the “good person” and then doing a lot of cheap signalling to convey that. Cutting ties with Richard Dawkins might be more expensive signalling, but when they are already not in friendly terms with him, they can as well use up those credits and turn them in for Social Justice Points.

To me, Richard Dawkins is still awesome, and I understood where he was coming from in his tweets. I do not know anything about Michael Shermer. The videos I have seen with Christina Hoff Sommers came across as reasonable and well explained. I don’t know about the details of the feminist wars and prefer to stay away from identity politics nonsense. The Social Justice League is clearly one faction, one side. But their detractors and critics aren’t.

32 noelplum99 September 20, 2014 at 3:07 am

@Sawrs

You are right. There is a difference between me accusing you of molesting children via my YT channel and, instead, making a video saying an unnamed child is claiming you molested them, via my YouTube channel.

They are different.

A bit like a punch in the face and a kick in the face are different.

33 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 3:08 am

Ophelia Benson.

I’m not saying all accusations should automatically be believed.

Yes, you are. Repeatedly. If it’s a man accused of a sexual offence. Absolutely, every time that occurs, this is precisely what you argue. Anyone who disagrees is ‘blaming the victim’ whether or not an offence is established to have happened.

What’s more you have sunk to smearing anyone who challenges the US bias of FTB as ‘xenophobic’ and ‘creepy’ – the same word you use for alleged sex offenders.

34 HJ Hornbeck September 20, 2014 at 3:09 am

Nugent, even the introduction to this email relies heavily on harasser dog-whistles. The rest of it is substantially similar, and doesn’t so much poison the well as lace it with plutonium. Christ, you even found a way to turn a decrease in violent language into a bad thing.

I have to turn your question right back at you: is this how you want to be remembered? As a SlymePit shill, so obsessed over tone that you’re blind to content? Complaining about the words someone uses to discuss allegations of sexual assault by some of our most famous members, instead of the assault itself? Denying reality when confronted with the truth?

It wasn’t a draft of the article, as I had no article in mind then. It was a letter to a person who I considered to be a friend who I thought was behaving badly.

Then would you mind explaining why this passage from your email …

Each time that we have discussed these concerns, you have responded that you will tone it down, which to some extent you have. You no longer encourage your 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 very low hurdle for a blog that aims to promote compassion and empathy and social justice.

In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. Less seriously, but still setting a metaphorical tone for your blog, you have joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about you stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

Last week you 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, and responded to criticism by saying that you should have been more rude, because asking you to have been nicer about the dead famous guy is missing the point. While that seems to have been the final straw for some people, it remains part of a pattern of behaviour that is fast becoming your legacy.

… matches so well with the article?

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’d rather take open hatred than your false civility and slick apologia.

35 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 3:15 am

Someone that I respect and implicitly believe says that you, Sawrs, are an utter a-hole.

Please note that I have no direct evidence that you are an a-hole. I am not saying that you are.

But someone that I respect and has never, ever been wrong about anyone’s personality – evah! – says that you are.

Should I have kept this a secret?

Does this have anything do to with my calling out people that I know to be a-holes?

What was your point?

36 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 3:17 am

@noelplum99

The accuser is neither unnamed nor a child. Her existence can and has been verified. The substance of her accusation exists independent of PZ Myers. It has been repeated by Mark Oppenheimer. We know all this.

More prevaricating, more eliding. Do you have anything to offer other than well-worn hypotheticals?

37 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 3:18 am

Sawrs:

That’s demonstrably untrue. Myers has not publicly accused Shermer of anything; Myers has reported accusations.

Oh, fuck right off. You know damn well Myers is not simply ‘reporting accusations’. The dishonesty is astounding. Myers himself described his original post as a ‘grenade’ and it even includes gleeful sound effects (‘boom’)

He’s a fucking shock jock.

38 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 3:20 am

@Blueshift Rhino

Firsthand testimony is evidence, dear. Try again.

39 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 3:21 am

I thought frozen peaches were all about keeping things transparent. Apparently, no. Apparently, everything must be kept secret.

Interesting development in the ongoing war on straight white males, or summat.

40 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 3:24 am

@Sawrs OK, so I guess that you’re telling me to both believe my friend who says that you’re an a-hole and that I should also write a blog post about it. Cool.

ps. I think that it’s laudable that you should twist yourself into this knot just to bail out Oafie and Peezus. You’re a good little Social Justice Warrior. Have a Purple Heart.

41 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 3:25 am

I’d rather take open hatred than your false civility and slick apologia.

Maybe if you’d been one of those posting on Myers’ Williams thread about their own depression only to be abused as racists by his rabid lapdogs and then denied the right to reply you might not be so fucking dismissive of Myers hatred.

Myers never punches up.

He’s at the top of the privilege chain; there’s no ‘up’ to punch at.

42 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 3:34 am

@Blueshift Rhino

I think I’ll just about survive.

43 Pogsurf September 20, 2014 at 4:35 am

Myers never punches up.

Cowards rarely do.

44 Iamcuriousblue September 20, 2014 at 4:45 am

HJ Hornbeck @ 34

Um, wow, good example of just how grotesquely *partisan* some people can be. So Michael Nugent is a “Slyme Pit shill”? “Harasser dog-whistles”? And the only way someone can have issues with Myers, et al’s utterly abysmal treatment of anybody they disagree with is because they’re in some kind of “slyme pit/harasser/enemy” camp? Please. Way to prove Nugent’s point about some people’s apparent need to reduce seemingly everything and everyone to one or another side of the so-called “deep rifts”.

Also, I’ll point out, as others have before, that *tone matters*, it has content in itself, and just because you happen to think you’re on the side of absolute right (and who doesn’t?), that’s not carte blanche to be shitty and abusive. “Righteous anger” indeed. *Self-righteous* would be more accurate.

Also, I think a good point was made in #147 of this thread

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/09/17/recent-media-misrepresentations-of-the-atheist-movement-and-the-role-of-pz-myers-in-the-culture-of-demonising-people/comment-page-1/#comment-996714

Basically, whether Dawkins or Harris said something shitty or Shermer did something horrible is one issue, and the abusive way Myers and company are behaving are another. One does not somehow justify or balance out the other. “Tue quo”, as you FTB folks are so fond of pointing out. I don’t think that the Shermer allegations should be swept under the rug, nor do I think Dawkins or Harris are above criticism. (Albeit, I happen to think in the particular set of arguments, Harris isn’t nearly as off-base as his critics are, even though I think there are bad arguments on both sides in that one.) But the idea that this somehow justifies the level of vitriol that Myers, Benson, Zvan, etc are spewing, or that this is in some way necessary or even helpful is fundamentally in error.

Shermer could turn out to be the biggest rapist POS imaginable, and you know what? That wouldn’t be a carte blanche justification for the social justice/feminist ideological crusade you people are pursuing.

45 Hunt September 20, 2014 at 5:25 am

Shermer could turn out to be the biggest rapist POS imaginable, and you know what? That wouldn’t be a carte blanche justification for the social justice/feminist ideological crusade you people are pursuing.

The process actually does matter–because it establishes precedent. I would have been a lot less critical of Myers original grenade if he had prefaced it with something like “You know, what I’m about to do is really risky and pretty much a shitty thing to do, but I know in my heart this is the right thing…” Unfortunately, there was no such thing. It was public condemnation based on a barely concealed game of telephone, and somehow, we were supposed to take this as a justified PROCESS. No. Wrong. Wrong on several levels that should be known to anyone at all familiar with the history of bad ideas.

46 Sharon Madison September 20, 2014 at 6:01 am

I am a victim of sexual abuse. No one has to believe me as I have absolutely no proof. Hell, even my own mother didn’t believe me when I told her 45 years ago, although, at the time, there was proof. Bruises, vagina bleeding, and very likely a concussion. All of this physical evidence was dismissed as 1) a result of one of my usual blackouts due to my very low blood pressure and 2) the onset of menstrual cycles (which it wasn’t). By the time my mother had finished her verbal tirade about what I had told her, she had me believing I must had lied about it.

IMO, Michael wasn’t saying stop discussing sexism, sexual harassment, or sexual assault but, until we can do a better job of discussing these issues, I think the discussion needs to stop. For three years we have been screaming at each other about a very serious issue. An issue which requires serious discussion to work towards real solutions, not sensationalized, provocative internet flaming which has the net result of making the issue seem like nothing more than whining, attention seeking, and a desire for blog hits.

I will say it again – This is an important issue. It demands thoughtful discussion aimed at finding solutions, not internet flame wars where we only seek to find fault so we can tear each other to shreds. In other words, can we please stop behaving like my mother – the nastiness, most self-centered, master of self-justification I have ever met.

47 Jan Steen September 20, 2014 at 8:26 am

H.J. Hornbeck – “Complaining about the words someone uses to discuss allegations of sexual assault by some of our most famous members, instead of the assault itself?”

No, you genius, we are complaining about the allegations and in particular about the outlet used for these allegations. And this is not just about the Shermer case*. People are routinely called ‘misogynists’ and ‘rape apologists’ on Myers’s blog. Those things are blatant smears against which it is almost impossible to defend yourself, not merely rude words. This is not a question of tone at all, even if FTB cult members like you try to twist it that way in order to dismiss the problem.

“Then would you mind explaining why this passage from your email (…) matches so well with the article?”

Your biggest gotcha moment, right? Apparently it didn’t occur to you that Michael only claimed that he was not writing an article at the time he wrote those words to PZ Myers. That he later used these words in the article is entirely consistent with that. Your transparent attempt to portray Michael Nugent as a liar falls flat. Which is the story of your life, isn’t it?

* For the record, I think that if it is true that Shermer raped women he belongs in jail. So I strongly disagree when the accuser states (on Myers’s ‘Grenade’ post) that she “is not threatening her putative assailant with any action, but is solely concerned that other women be aware of his behavior.” A rapist should be taken off the streets so that he can’t make new victims. Not all potential victims are ardent readers of a shitty blog called Pharyngula, you know.

48 tina September 20, 2014 at 8:34 am

OK…I get it now…FTB is a vigilante organisation. Yes..that’s a perfect fit with their adopted role of thought police.

49 Steersman September 20, 2014 at 8:55 am

Sharon Madison (#46):

Sorry to hear of what seems to have been some rather traumatic experiences.

But I quite agree with you about “a better job of discussing these issues”; seems to me that we’re generally chasing our tails, largely because we don’t have an adequate and commonly-agreed-upon definition of what “sexism” is in the first place. Ophelia Benson and others insist – in various ipse dixit and imperious claims – that statements by Shermer (“more of a guy thing”) and by Harris (“to some degree intrinsically male”) qualify as such, but without offering a shred of proof that that is the case, or even allowing any debate on the question – apart from that from the trained seals in their commentariats.

Until we can get over that hurdle, and resolve that issue, I can’t see that there’s likely to be much in the way of progress.

50 tina September 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

Oh…c’mon Steersman…you know very well that sexism, like everything else…is what THEY say it is.

51 Ashling O'Brien September 20, 2014 at 9:39 am

I whole-heartedly agree Sharon, and thank you for sharing your experience.

And for the first time I’ll publicly share mine. Abut seven years ago I was a victim of a sexual assault. I had gone on a few dates with a guy and we had spent the night together for the first time. When I woke in the morning he was on top of me and having unprotected sex with me.

I did not report this. This was for a number reasons; he was member of the Garda (Irish police force) and I knew I would receive no support there, I knew it would be my word against his, I had invited him to stay in my apartment, I wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened and just chalk it down to one of life’s shitty experiences. Even a few of my closest friends questioned the validity of what I was telling them when I shared my story and the female doctor (who happened to be Muslim) that I went to for advice gave me a lecture on the immorality of having pre-marital sex. She also told me that there was no need for me to be tested for STDs as he was a good man and would be very low risk. I ignored what happened to me until I had a breakdown and spent a long time rebuilding myself so I could go outdoors without having panic attacks.

Until now very few people know about this experience and I didn’t wake up this morning with the intention of sharing this story on a public forum. But Sharon is right, sexual harassment and sexual assault is an important issue and we, as a community (and I do believe in an atheist community) need more sensitivity in dealing with this. As a community we need to find a way of discussing these issues while still being respectful of one another. We need to work to ensure that our groups adopt and uphold sexual harassment policies. We need to put measures in place so that woman can feel confident that if they report any sexual misconduct at conferences or any other gatherings they will be taken seriously. The ‘leaders’ in our community need to hold themselves to the very highest standards both in the real world and on-line so that behaviour that is unacceptable is very clearly communicated. Today, I feel for the women whose life experiences are now being continually discussed on forums such as this. At this stage I feel that they are being used as pawns in a point-scoring game. In the current environment, and as a woman who has experienced the trauma that a sexual assault can bring, I would not be comfortable in coming forward with a complaint about sexual harassment I had experienced at any atheist/skeptic/freethinker event if I thought I would be discussed and abused on-line in the manner that has happened in the past. Bottom line, what we are engaging in at present is not creating a safe environment for women to come forward in.

Ophelia, you may be 100% certain that PZ did the best ethical thing possible by going public on his concerns about Micheal Shermer and that he handled the whole situation in the best way possible. I agree with you, for many many victims of sexual assault and rape the court system doesn’t work. This is an issue that must be continued to be addressed, we must continue to support and fund rape crisis centres so that women can get the support they need and so that more of these crimes can be reported and successfully convicted. However, at this time, I disagree that the best backup was the path that was chosen by PZ. That does not make me a woman-hater, a victim-blamer or pro-rape. I am a critical thinker who is open to having her mind changed on this matter through respectful dialogue. PZ made a decision about how to deal with a situation, some will agree with that decision, others will disagree. Disagreeing with PZ does not equate to wanting to silence anyone and I worry at the ‘either with us or against us’ stance that is being taken here.

Ophelia, please bear in mind that I have great respect for you and the work that you do for the atheist community but we all need to be able to be critical of each other in respectful ways. I am a very small fish in the atheist movement. I organise a few events, I stand at an information table a couple of times a month. But I can see how this in-fighting is not only damaging to the movement but is completely counter-productive in creating the safe environment free from sexual harassment that we are aiming for.

52 Steersman September 20, 2014 at 10:00 am

Tina (#50):

:-) *That* is, of course, apparently what they want. But I also think that that has to be the proverbial line-in-the-sand: everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

And that is something which NoelPlum99 addresses in some detail in his recent video (1) wherein he takes Greta Christina to task for her argument (apparently) that because she herself is angry that must mean that all female atheists are angry, ergo Sam Harris is a no-good rape-enabling, patriarchy-promoting misogynist. Proving that she is rather unclear on the concept of statistics and population samples, although I’ll concede they are tricky and problematic; NoelPlum99 does a fairly good job in elaborating on the point even if I think he could have used some 8×12 photos (or graphs) with circles and arrows on the back of them (2) to clarify his points. :-)

—-
1) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80Y_QqMhTjI&feature=youtu.be&a”;
2) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m57gzA2JCcM”;

53 Stephen Macken September 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

A world where due process is usurped by bloggers, where innocence is adjudicated by those with the loudest keyboard, where accusation is guilt, is the kind of world where I, as an individual who believes, in spite of all it’s imperfections, a legal system based on the presumption of innocence and due process is superior to the courtroom of internet vigilantism, do not want to live and will oppose to my last breath.

The backup courtroom for a flawed legal system, Ophelia, is neither a blog specifically nor the internet as a whole.

54 tina September 20, 2014 at 10:54 am

How do these personal anecdotes address the point of the OP? We all know sex gets people deep shit and proabably all have tales to tell.

I could tell you of the woman who boasted to me that she dropped her contraception on the sly so that she could deliberately get pregnant, get a child, force the housing authority to provide accommodation, (mandatory here), live off state benefits, deal drugs on the side to boost her income, dump the guy and carry on like this for twenty years or more. She’s now in prison for knifing someone btw.

We all know there are vast social problems that cut both ways. How does obsessing about them advance atheism or secularism?

Also, address the OP.

55 piero September 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

I have no words to describe my anger at what Ashling and Sharon went through. I cannot even begin to imagine how it feels to be betrayed by your own mother, or lectured on morality by a Muslim doctor. It is just outrageous. There must be a way to stop this. Really, we have to stop this.

56 piero September 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

@Stephen Macken and @tina:

Valid points from both of you. It is very hard to come up with a legal framework that protects women such and Ashling and Sharon, while at the same time preventing misuse.

The example brought up by tina, however, appears to originate precisely in the sexist premise that contraception is the woman’s responsibility. Of course, I don’t know the details, so it might well be that, as part of her plan, the woman involved actively discouraged the guy from wearing a condom. However, that in itself should have set off an alarm in his brain.

57 Thunderf00t September 20, 2014 at 11:52 am

Ironic aint it. You were the one who threw me under the bus (or tried to) to appease the ‘freethought’ bloggers?

Churchill had a great quote which seems curiously apt at this moment. ‘appeasement is feeding a crocodile in the hope it will eat you last’

…. you might not be quite the last yet Master Nugent, but I hope you can now see the videos I’ve made on this subject were brutally close to the mark.

I hope others take your ‘warnings about crocodiles’ more seriously than you took mine.

PS. Some words of comfort. ‘freethoughtblogs’ are a complete farce in terms of being taken seriously. When they tried their best AS A ORGANIZATION to make me a ‘pariah’…. to be shunned everywhere, I lost ~ 300 out of 150 000 subscribers. My channel now has almost 300 000 subscribers.

Your only redemption here Master Nugent is the crocodile has no teeth.

58 noelplum99 September 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

It is hard to make another comment without saying something related to Ashling (Hi Ashling btw) and Sharon, yet any sympathy I offer seems trivially easy to type out, if you know what I mean. I can only imagine the sense of injustive makes what happened doubly hard to move on from.

I wanted to add something specific to the Shermer allegations.

Those accusations were not made in a vacuum and that is something that needs to be remembered. There is something of the “boy who cried wolf” here. Had Myers and his fellow bloggers (who followed up Myers revelatory blog piece) made the accusations under normal circumstances then I believe they would have been received differently. As is stands, the accusations followed a sustained period of seemingly gleefully jumping on anything and everything established figures figures within atheism and skepticism had said or done which could, in any way, be construed as sexist, constituting hatred towards women (seriously?) or in some other way bigotted or contrary to their preferred socio-political doctrines (add mild mannered Michael Nugent to that list now, the “creepy xenophobe”).
Shermer was amongst those who had already come under regular fire and it was clear that his politics set him at odds with the FreeThought Bloggers and he was a marked man. At least, that is how it appeared to me and to a great many others. The expectation that you can make an allegation in that mean-spirited environment and have that accusation viewed in the sober way it ought to be is naive in the extreme. If the suspicion is that you are just waiting for the likes of Shermer, Harris, Krauss, Jillette, Dawkins, Coyne, Blackford (the list goes on….) to say or do something you can pounce upon and rub their noses in then it is hard to view you as simply a good citizen doing the “right thing” when such allegations are brought forward concerning Shermer- you can surely understand people viewing it (perhaps wrongly in this case, I am beginning to think) as just another step in a vendetta.

59 James Gavin September 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I’m reminded of the reaction when Ron Lindsay opened the Women in Secularism conference by suggesting that ‘Shut up and listen’ might not be the most appropriate reaction to criticism.

Without any apparent irony, the response was to tell him that he should have shut up and listened.

Now the reaction to this, (more than civil), request is to accuse Mr Nugent of trying to keep sexual harrassment secret.

It seems clear that dialogue is impossible at present – there seems to be little or not possibility of compromise, and even the joint statement by Ms. Benson and Prof. Dawkins has done nothing to change behaviours.

I am uncertain how positive change can be effected, although I am in favour of carrot rather than stick approaches. Perhaps the conference harrassment policies could include a clause which makes attendance/invitation dependant on reasonable behaviour in the months prior to the conference itself?

60 tina September 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

It’s called bait & switch.

61 Peter Ferguson September 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Thunderfoot, it is possible to disagree with a handful members of FTB on issues and also disagree with you. It’s not either or, and if it was I would take them over you any day of the week.

62 MikeB September 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Michael, please consider when you say “it would take a bizarre interpretation…” just how many times you’ve had to deal with “bizarre interpretations” of what you’ve said or written. Look at how many others have had to or are currently defending themselves from “bizarre interpretations”.

Calling them bizarre does a disservice to what they actually represent.

63 Edward Gemmer September 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I %100 agree with the idea that these are difficult issues worthy of thoughtful discussion. It’s my great disappointment in the “freethought” community that discussing these issues is nearly impossible without dealing with a lot of regressive crap and defending your character for having the gall to be interested in the issue in the first place.

64 tina September 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

@piero

You are missing my point which is that their whole shtick is to deliberately divide the atheist movement into goodies and baddies (as rather explicitly expounded by Richard Carrier in that infamous post), and take ownership of it, or something, using the tried and tested tricks of social justice warriordom everywhere. They seem to be beyond caring what effect this has on A/S in preference to promoting their dogmatic ideology.

They are fundamentalists really, not sceptics.

65 Crackity Jones September 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Meanwhile, there is an elephant in the room that the FTBullies are trying to keep quiet.

OGVORBIS.

This long-time, regular poster at FreeThoughtBlogs ADMITTED he has raped several times. One of them was when forced to by an adult. Nobody blames him there. However, and this is where the FTBullies blindness creeps in, he raped again when he was NOT coerced.

People like PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson have repeatedly defended this rapist in a climate where any hint of misbehavior involving sex has them “naming names” and calling out people as “creeps”. They have essentially covered up and justified a serious crime. One well-known and abusive troll who “enforces” FTB diktats via his involvement with the Block Bot and regular pop-ups on every blog discussion going, even gleefully suggested he would allow this rapist to babysit his children. His name is Oolon. We don’t want people like this anywhere near the atheist/skeptic movement. Deepen those rifts, and kick them out!

That’s why I don’t give these “creeps” any credibility on other issues such as this.

66 Ariel September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Aneris in #31 made a good point:

“Michael Nugent, you have listed items where PZ Myers has in your opinion ‘demonized’ someone and you packed various cases together, with Michael Shermer in there. You gave the impression that such things should not be blogged about”

The remarks by Aneris explain indeed how someone could read you as saying that cases like Shermer’s should not be discussed. And given Ophelia’s and other bloggers’ opinion about “cases like Shermer’s”, the move to “he wants us to keep sexual harassment secret” becomes somewhat understandable. In particular, it’s absolutely *not* on a par with wanting one’s rival to deny that he is fucking swines.

Of course “understandable” is *not the same* as “true” or “valid”. In #20 you answer that:

“I do mean that what PZ did was a bad thing to do, but that is a different and more specific claim than the much broader allegation that you accused me of.”

I understand that it’s different; I can see also no reason to reject your statement that the broader allegation is false and the whole issue concerns the specific case only.

Even so, I’m still at a loss to understand what you were hoping to achieve by sending PZ such a letter. In particular, your worries about Shermer – even treated as a concrete and specific case – were not clearly formulated; you gave it as just one more item on the list, that’s all. (They are also not clearly formulated in the comments here. And no, vague accusations of “not adhering to minimal ethical standards” and general remarks about “vitriol” do not count). Really, what were you expecting PZ to do with this?

(Just to be sure: the last question is rhetorical and I’m not expecting an answer. I also want to stress that I’m still thinking of you as of someone with clean motives in all of this.)

67 Tigzy September 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Michael

In the first paragraph of your piece, you make clear the underhandedness of Ophelia Benson’s tactic to that of LBJ’s. Later, Ophelia turned up in the comments, and supported by her FTB colleague Zvan, simply doubled-down.

You see the kind of people you’re dealing with here, right?

So maybe it’s time to stop trying to be so fair with them – Ophelia, Stephanie, Myers et al. You know they’ll never extend the same courtesy to you. I’m not suggesting you get all Slymepit on their asses; but you can ignore them. And maybe, if you have any influence in such matters, see to it that they’re not given a platform at any future Atheist Ireland conferences.

Thing is, the FTB core axis of Myers, Ophelia, Stephanie etc. suffer from a delusion of relevance. I’m not alone in finding that most atheists and skeptics I’ve talked with outside this so-called ‘schism’ have never heard of them. So really, very little is lost by ensuring that these people remain locked in the obscurity they so richly deserve.

68 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I wasn’t actually aware that ‘Slymepit’ was the actual name of a forum until recently – I just assumed it was a nickname for another site Myers, Benson and the rest of FTB’s High Priesthood disapproved of.

In any case, to use its existence to dismiss Nugent as a ‘Slymepit shill’ is as like dismissing critics of the Tojan horse schools for ‘shilling’ on behalf of the EDL or the BNP.

It’s just smearing by association.

I’ll hold onto my copy of Why Truth Matters for the same reason I kept my Cat Stevens records: to remember how anyone at all can be seduced by the cults of unreason.

69 Minnow September 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Ha, Shatterface, same here. I even mentioned in passing on this site that I didn’t know what a ‘pitter’ was and excited a very peculiar and overheated response from someone who claims to know me from another blog and who actually seemed angry, properly upset that I should ‘deny’ this knowledge, apparently seeing some kind of conspiracy in that. It is all getting very strange and, like you, I miss the Ophelia Benson of Why Truth Matters. She would have had withering (and funny) things to say about all this demonology and woo masquerading as reason and social justice.

70 Pogsurf September 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

I think the problem here is anger. I have heard Myers speak and say that you should use anger to motivate yourself to take action. This is true, but sometimes when you act in anger you can have very poor judgement. When you act you must ensure you minimise further harm.

I think Myers came in possession of privileged information with respect to Michael Shermer, became angry, and acted in haste to try to punish Shermer. Even though Myers was angry, he has no business trying to punish other people. He should have tried to do a greater good with the information he had.

An example of a greater good would be to highlight that the statute of limitations for sexual crimes in Nevada is four years, yet we know that in many places it takes a very long for victims of sexual violence to come forward. If Myers had started a campaign to get the law in Nevada changed ever single person on this thread could have become part of that campaign. He could have tried to help not just one woman, not just atheists or conference goers, but all future victims of sexual violence in Nevada.

In choosing to act as he did, even labelling his post a ‘grenade’, it was far too easy to spot he was acting through ego and not from the heart. Well Myers has worked hard to build his bully-pulpit, now he has to lay in it. I hope one day he will see how foolish it is to seek to punish others because you lack the skill or desire to control your own emotional reactions, but I fear that day will not come soon.

71 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Shatterface,

Remember when “free thought” meant the freedom to think and say anything that you were willing to defend? When logic and reason were the most obvious attributes of American skeptics, regardless of how many sacred cows would be slaughtered? Before Atheism+ and the paradoxical linking of “free thought” and skepticism with blind acceptance of various sociological theories that enjoy very little support? Before we learned the hard truth about Irish elevators?

Well, now that we know that dictionaries are evil, the original usage of “free thought” has simply been replaced with the more-colorful “SlymePit.” The only other change is that SlymePitters are much better at photoshop, sarcasm, and reading maps than anyone who still tries to wrap themself in the “free thought” mantle.

72 anon September 20, 2014 at 4:09 pm

1) Having with no evidence published on a highly trafficed blog a public accusation of rape or 2) telling people to keep silent sexual harassment excludes an entire Milky Way Galaxy of choices in between.

This is the basic fallacy Benson and Zvan are trying to rape down our throats.

73 Zorg September 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm

The Myers apparatchiks have almost completely derailed Nungent’s argument about Myers’ online bullying–an argument that Myers’ apparatchiks cannot easily refute–onto their preferred territory of accusing male atheists of hating women.

It’s the feminist variant on the Gish Gallop: a tactic to deflect uncomfortable arguments by spewing hatred at so many targets that the original point is forgotten in the ensuing fracas.

Don’t fall for it.

74 JetLagg September 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I’m sorry to say I agree with those who are declaring Nugent should just wash his hands of the matter. I’m reminded of certain Democrats and Republicans (for any of you outside of America, our two political parties argue very bitterly) that decide the opposing party members aren’t just wrong, but intentionally wrong and evil.

The way the slymepit is spoken of as some unthinkable den of hate is indicative of that same sort of attitude. I’m not a frequent visitor there, but it doesn’t take long to find out a group of people are not he marauding band of rape apologists they’ve been painted as. Laughably, Richard Carrier said I only thought well of them because I hadn’t spent enough time on the forum (laughable because he, to my knowledge, has spent no time there yet feels comfortable forming an opinion on the matter).

I once contacted Benson in an attempt to mediate between her and the pit (how naive of me). After several exchanges, I took the time to collect all the quotes I’d found at the forum, speaking well of her and her work (they weren’t hard to come by). There was no concession that perhaps some members had legitimate disagreements with here and were criticizing her on those specific points of disagreement, rather than as a whole. To this, there was no response.

And that’s been par for the course in every experience I’ve had since. When faced with direct evidence that maybe, just maybe, the argument is not black and white, the ears get stopped up. Like the sort of Democrats and Republicans I mentioned in the beginning, some members of the atheist community just have trouble accepting that another person can disagree with them and still be fundamentally good and honest.

75 JetLagg September 20, 2014 at 5:58 pm

“If Myers had started a campaign to get the law in Nevada changed ever single person on this thread could have become part of that campaign.”

This. So much this.

They don’t seem to realize we agree with them on 9 out of 10 points, but have different ideas of how to handle the problem as a society. It’s terribly annoying to be called a misogynist by someone online when you’re the sort of person who regularly campaigns for women’s issues in real life.

76 anon September 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Thank you Zorg, I think you nailed it.

77 piero September 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

@ tina:

Point taken.

78 Edward Gemmer September 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm

“I will change the world by being an incomparable douchebag to everyone in it!”

– PZ Myers (so I heard)

79 Deepak Shetty September 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm

I will leave it up to you to judge the level of porcine fornication involved.
You haven’t given us enough to judge on. So if instead of PZ Myers , Alison Smith emailed you the details of Shermers incident- What would you have done?
If you would have posted it , using whatever caveats, then effectively you did what Myers did. If you would have declined(for e.g. why don’t you go to the authorities?) then Ophelia is correct

80 anon September 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

> You haven’t given us enough to judge on. So if instead of PZ Myers , Alison Smith emailed you the details of Shermers incident- What would you have done?

> If you would have posted it , using whatever caveats, then effectively you did what Myers did. If you would have declined(for e.g. why don’t you go to the authorities?) then Ophelia is correct

These are not the ONLY TWO alternatives.

So in effect you are just as big a dumbass as Ophelia, and Stephanie are.

81 James Gavin September 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Do you consider directing someone to appropriate sources of help to be the same as ‘trying to keep sexual harrassment secret’?

And as a follow up question, what would you consider the threshold for evidence to be before you’d post an allegation of criminal wrong-doing against a named individual on your website?

82 ZoeG September 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

@Pogsurf (70): I recall at the time that PZM did make a point of laying out why he published the accusations: because nothing could be done judicially, yet a pattern had emerged, and he felt that women needed to be warned so they could govern themselves accordingly. People in this thread talking about “extrajudicial” and “innocent until proven guilty” are conflating the law with greater society; the law doesn’t cover a lot of things that we still need to deal with socially (and, in fact, in many cases, this is called ‘freedom’ and is a good thing).

Just because something isn’t legally prosecutable doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t talk about it or publish people’s first-hand stories about their experiences. Those stories can be disagreed with or countered, but citizens do not have any moral obligation to not talk about things or raise concerns about others’ behaviour just because they haven’t been put through a court first. We do, as rational begins, have a duty to be fair, but that doesn’t mean to be quiet.

So, what can we do with this sort of not-ever-possible-to-prosecute stuff? I like the changing the law idea, but as I said above, the law is not society. And, things haven’t changed yet, so the problem was still one of what-to-do-now: there might have been more victims, and there might be future ones. Not say anything ever? No. Do we owe a duty of care to people who might encounter a potential person-who-behaves-badly? I’d say yes, whatever the behaviour. What’s gossip and what’s a genuine warning? For me, what PZ did was closer to the right thing to do than not. As a result I will now never accept an alcoholic drink from Michael Shermer or even drink at an event he is also at, and that’s not the end of the world. He has to deal with his reputation, but that’s also not the end of the world. He has words, he can use them too. But the alternative was that there could potentially be more victims. And that is the worst social outcome by far.

83 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm

There are exactly two kinds of people in the world: those that believe in false dichotomies, those that don’t, and those who use them all the time but deny them to others.

84 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

What’s hilarious is that Ophelia Benson has embraced Fashionable PoMo Nonsense now that it is no longer fashionable.

It’s the epistemological equivalent of retro-gaming.

I expect she’ll be opening a MySpace account real soon.

85 Guestus Aurelius September 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

But the alternative was that there could potentially be more victims. And that is the worst social outcome by far.

You do realize that the falsely accused are victims too, right?

86 Shatterface September 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I In choosing to act as he did, even labelling his post a ‘grenade’, it was far too easy to spot he was acting through ego and not from the heart.

Don’t forget the sound effects: that Boom really is the key to how he saw the grenade post.

It was all about the power of having a weapon; the target didn’t matter, the cause didn’t matter, it was all about tossing a grenade and giggling at the resulting entrails.

87 Guestus Aurelius September 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm

In fact, I’d add to my point in 85 that this is a major difference between the two “sides” in The Rift™.

One side thinks it’s okay—nay, a good thing—to publicly accuse people of sex crimes on flimsy evidence. The other side isn’t scum.

88 piero September 20, 2014 at 8:44 pm

@ZoeG:

I agree with everything you say in your comment. I just fail to see the relevance: rape is a crime, it is punishable by law, and whoever is convicted of rape is in fact punished. So rape is not one of those things the law does not cover. I am aware of the shortcomings that plague the judiciary and the police. I know that many rapists get away with it. But you seem to be arguing that when a case of rape cannot be proved in court, then it should be dealt with by the mob. I trust I don’t have to warn you of the consequences such an attitude entails.

To be absolutely clear: if my daughter was raped, and the rapist got away with it, I’d kill him, and I’d happily spend ten years in prison. I think that is a perfectly natural reaction. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t like to live in a society that behaved collectively as a revengeful individual.

89 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Michael Nugent,

On your twitter account, you’ve said:
“Not ‘just don’t name names.’ Don’t allege on blogs that named people have committed serious crimes.”

Please explain. Why? What are your reasons for saying so? Was Mark Oppenheimer allowed to “allege” in his column that Shermer has committed a crime? Why, or why not?

“No, I am saying *do* talk about sexual harassment, and tackle it robustly and sensitively, but don’t name people on blogs.”

Again, why? What qualifies you to say so? Why should Ophelia Benson, whom you’re addressing, obey? How does one both “robustly” and “sensitively” “tackle” and “talk” about sexual harassment without addressing actual instances of harassment, without explaining why XYZ real-life experience constitutes harassment?

You’re keen to report that you are something of an expert in this field, that you’ve made progress. What makes you so? What have you contributed thus far? Where have you made progress? How has that progress been measured?

Please provide examples and recommendations. Saying “no” is not good enough; no objective third-party witnessing these discussions can determine whether you are behaving in good faith and giving good advice unless you demonstrate your qualifications beyond lecturing people privately in e-mail and publicly.

90 Mykeru September 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Michael ,

I see you are getting an education in what it means to disagree with the self-appointed doyen at Freethought Blogs. In the past you have been extremely accommodating to P.Z. Myers, Ophelia Benson and others, even to the point where a case could be made that you did so at the risk of damage to your own reputation. Something about lying down with dogs. What you may learn from all this is no matter how accommodating you are, no matter how much you attempt to strike a balance and be reasonable, even if you come across as someone giving time to people discussing the moon being made out of green cheese, all that is simply a stay of execution.

The moment you have a disagreement with the Freethought Bullies, all your prior behavior simply doesn’t matter. You are only as good as your last acquiescence to their demands. It doesn’t matter if you are right. In fact, being right simply irritates them more and forces them — as they have no substantive arguments — to move on to other tactics.

And that would be the “threat narrative”. You will notice how effortlessly Ophelia Benson pivoted from making defamatory comments about you, to claiming you were harassing and threatening her for asking her to withdraw them. She’s very well-practiced at this, as are they all.

The claim of being under threat, even if the tactic is obvious to those of us even marginally more sane than they are, isn’t incidental. It’s no accident.

The claim of being harassed, besieged, under threat is their main product. They are fully geared to crank out the threat narrative from whole cloth. It’s easier than making an argument. It’s easier than making sense.

I will give you a prediction about their next move on you. The threat narrative doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not just a purposeless distraction from their own inanity. It’s a weapon. The Freethought Bullies have taken the lead in doxxing, employer harassing, spreading malicious rumors about people being harassers, stalker, even rapists.

When they can’t get satisfaction from you, which they can only get through your complete capitulation to their demands, even if they aren’t clear on what they are demanding, or probably don’t even know themselves, they will start coyly talking about how terrible it would be for you if it got out how you were a harasser, particularly of women.

Claims of harassment is not just their smokescreen, it’s the tool by which they harass others.

Welcome to the party, Michael.

91 Shermertron September 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Sawrs 89

You asked Mr. Nugent why he’s opposed to spreading allegations of serious crimes on blogs.

This is an incredibly silly statement that demonstrates a lack of regard for the truth and the processes by which we arrive at an honest understanding of reality.

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

And why was Buzzfeed able to publish the claims? Because Shermer didn’t take PZ to court. (If only the guy had 60 grand of Stollznow money lying around!)

92 James Gavin September 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Nah, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ works for both court and society.

But sure, anyone is free to make whatever allegations they wish, regardless of their evidence, or of how they choose to divine which allegations are legitimate and which can be safely ignored.

Of course, I would expect a fair commentator to consider their duty of care to both the accused and accuser – but your milage may vary.

93 piero September 20, 2014 at 9:17 pm

@Sawrs:

You know, of course, that the point is that “actual instances of harassment” are not “actual” until proven so. But you pretend to ignore that, and go on to produce a silly, aggressive and groundless rant. Par for the course.

94 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm

@piero

If you’re alluding to something specific, you’ll have to name it.

If you’re suggesting that harassment has never taken place at a skeptic / atheist / secular convention, that harassment has never been reported, that such reports have never been vetted and verified, that witnesses have never corroborated reported instances of harassment, that accused harassers have never been disciplined by conventions, that conventions have never created or amended their published harassment policies based on these reports and subsequent investigations, that we’ve nothing to learn or gain by using these specific and actual instances of harassment in discussions Michael Nugent is proposing but not actually engaging in — something about twitter being at once too narrow and too open a forum — you’re either mistaken or being deliberately disingenuous.

95 noelplum99 September 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I think it may help to clear up one thing.

It seems to me the issue of disagreement is based upon a more fundamental issue. So could someone clear this up for me once and for all:
Is it true or not that weblogs are the only venues known in the entire history of humankind where issues can be discussed, points of concern raised and issues addressed?
I must admit I had thought that myriad other such venues existed, some of them substantially more suitable for certain kinds of conversation than others, but now I am beginning to wonder if that had all been the imaginings of some crazy lifelong daydream and the only option that exists in reality is posting on a vitriol-fuelled hateblog?

96 Zorg September 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm

@Guestus Aurelius:

I think the ultimate cleavage in the schism is between people who accept that there are limits to legitimate persuasion/advocacy techniques and, on the opposing side, people who feel entitled to have their claims accepted at face value and to silence anyone who believes otherwise.

The latter group offers rotten porcupines, wages witch hunts, and cries “rape” whenever their words aren’t received with the adulation the religious reserve for revealed truth.

The only difference between Myers and his compatriots is in the vulgarity of their language; the basic mentality driving all of them is the same.

97 semi September 20, 2014 at 10:36 pm

@noelplum99

“Is it true or not that weblogs are the only venues known in the entire history of humankind where issues can be discussed, points of concern raised and issues addressed?”

You’re assuming that the end goal is to iron out disagreements; I submit to you that for FTB bloggers, that is not their goal. The goal is to throw bombs from their safe little sanctuary (where comments are heavily moderated and dissenting opinions quickly removed) at far more accomplished people in order to elevate themselves and generate traffic and attention. They are the modern equivalent of “yellow journalism.”

98 piero September 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm

@semi:

Spot on. In fact, I’ve just checked Greta Christina’s blog, and these are the posts and the respective number of comments:

“Why Free Conferences Are Important — And Why You Should Support Skepticon” — 4 comments

“Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split” — 119 comments

“All Greta’s Books On Sale During Mega-Epic Book Tour!” — 1 comment

“Greta Speaking in MI, OH, NY, and IN, Sept. 10-17! (Akron Cancelled; A Few Other Changes.) Plus San Francisco, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, Springfield, MO!” — 2 comments

“Trans People, Pronouns, and Choosing Between Social Justice and the Chicago Manual of Style” — 24 comments

“So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11 — The Final Roundup!” — No comments

“So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11, Episode 14″ — No comments

“A Woman’s Room Online: An immersive experience of the daily harassment women face online” — 2 comments

“Trans People and Basic Human Respect” — 9 comments

“The “Coming Out Atheist” Donation Recipient for August 2014: Freedom From Religion Foundation” — No comments

Click bait? You bet!

99 piero September 20, 2014 at 11:08 pm

@ sawrs:

“If you’re alluding to something specific, you’ll have to name it.”

Sorry. Can’t help you with your reading comprehension problems. Not my speciality.

100 Sawrs September 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm

@piero

Good, glad we got that out of the way. Actual instances of harassment can and ought to be discussed. Now we’re all in agreement — barring Nugent, apparently.

101 piero September 20, 2014 at 11:25 pm

@ sawrs:

?

102 Blueshift Rhino September 20, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Sawrs: “Actual instances of harassment can and ought to be discussed.”

What Sawrs neglected to include was how s/h/it reserves the right to set the criteria for “actual” to be whatever s/h/it wants them to be, along with the right to change the criteria without notice.

103 Lancelot Gobbo September 20, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Even if there were no reasons to prefer one side over the other in all this, I’d have to say that in the real world Michael Nugent has done far more to advance secularism in actual daily life than a bunch of keyboard warriors with blogs who have done nothing more than abuse those that have made real differences. It’s that old thing about walking the walk rather than talking the talk. PZ and OB are all talk these days, and it’s getting rather tiresome.

104 s.k.graham September 21, 2014 at 12:10 am

@Ophelia

The original charge publish by PZ said “coerced” and “could not consent”. Now that the woman has come forward, she says she can’t really remember.

Publishing the original, grossly unsubstantiated charge of rape (that’s what coerced and non-consent mean) was grossly irresponsible. Even vile. Period.

If the woman wished to go public, she could have at least stay within the bounds of what she knew. She could say that she doesn’t remember exactly what happened, but that she felt he was taking advantage of the fact that she was drunk. She could say that she feels this behavior on his part was inappropriate. She could say that while she cannot know his mind, she feels he was encouraging her to drink heavily while he was secretly not drinking.

You and PZ, feeling it important, could repeat (amplify) such statements, with discussion of whether such behavior qualifies as harassment.

The charge of rape, was utterly uncalled for. Though, I suppose, PZ could say that he was duped at the time that there was more substantial evidence, at least in the form of the woman’s actual memories. As it turns out that her vague choice of words (coerced, could not give consent) which PZ repeated, were a way to gloss over the fact that she simply can’t remember.

All these things could be said without PZ getting flack for making unsubstantiated accusations of rape. It would make your point that you think Shermer is sexist and that you believe he pursues women for sex without much if any regard to their feelings. This may or may not be true, we cannot read his mind. Furthermore, women would be “warned” who attend future conferences.

But PZ had to toss his “grenade” and make an unsubstantiated, libelous (I don’t give a damn whether it fits the precise legal definition) accusation of rape. There is as yet no excuse for that.

By all means please keep raising awareness of sexual harassment & assault. But I implore you to only “name names” in context of substantial evidence and stick to reasonably precise statements of fact rather than vague statements such as “A coerced B” which despite vagueness fit the definition of rape.

105 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 1:09 am

@piero, and Blueshift Rhino (please address me directly in future if you’d like to have a discussion)

Yes, actual instances of harassment, abuse, assault, and rape. You agree that these exist. You agree to abandon convenient hypotheticals. As you both appear not to trust my judgment — the dictionary definition of “actual” is eluding you or causing some unfortunate distress — feel free to select an example, of your choice, of any of these abuses for us to discuss.

NB: we’re still on a blog, remember. And Nugent doesn’t think we should be discussing such (impure? uncivil?) things on blogs. So, I suppose discussion would be at a standstill even if there were an assault or instance of harassment you’d like to discuss.

Following along so far?

106 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 1:27 am

Also, Michael Nugent: it is not illegal not to report a rape. Please — careful now — stop misrepresenting your own desire for victims to report to police for law. Please think about it again. Please withdraw this. Please stop repeating this misrepresentation. Please understand that “education” for victims, “robust laws,” policing, et al. are not possible unless one discusses actual things that actually happen. Please take this advice on board. Please understand that there is no law against naming a criminal either on the internet or on a blog. Please stop misrepresenting your preferences for facts. Careful now.

107 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 1:31 am

Of course I am following, o’ incredibly and purposefully dense one. (Was that direct enough?) Actual instances of lots of bad things exist. As do non-actual instances of the same. The trick is in discriminating between the actuals and the not-actuals. (Remember that skeptical thing that you used to be into before swapping your soul for membership in the SJL … I’m appealing to that and/or reminding you of that.) And some folks believe that extraordinary claims – in which I include those which could destroy someone’s life, along with those with low a priori odds – require a bit more evidence than a vague (and second-hand by the time we all get it) recollection of a evening that can’t be remembered before running to a keyboard to launch a “grenade.”

Following along so far?

We aren’t talking about an “actual” on which wide-spread can be safely assumed, such as one or two of the four “obvious” claims in OB’s tweet yesterday. [Aside: please donate to my patreon to buy OB a map of the world outside the US.] We’re talking about something that might not be actual.

Still following? [If not, I’m sure that it’s because of the asides.]

That a floated idea on the internet matches your world view or what you want to be true does not make it true (not an excuse to throw a grenade, I might add). Rational folks want evidence, especially when the floated idea could have a huge effect on someone’s life. And asking that folks not float such ideas in public unless they have sufficient evidence to convince at least the unbiased (and not just The Horde) is not telling people to never talk about the issue included in the floated idea.

Got it?

108 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 1:35 am

@Shermerton,

Apologies for missing your comment.

“You asked Mr. Nugent why he’s opposed to spreading allegations of serious crimes on blogs.”

No, I didn’t ask that.

“This is an incredibly silly statement that demonstrates a lack of regard for the truth and the processes by which we arrive at an honest understanding of reality.”

In what sense does Myers reporting what an alleged victim has told him
constitute defamation, or, more precisely, libel?

From what I understand, Michael Shermer is still pursuing his suit — he has not proclaimed otherwise — and there are multiple crowd-sourcing legal funds set up to help him do so.

109 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 1:36 am

ps. @incredibly and purposefully dense one:

Your claim that “it is not illegal not to report a rape” is not universally true. In Texas, for example (see Texas Penal Code § 38.171), it is illegal to not report a felony that you know has occurred. And rape is a felony.

But don’t let facts get in your way. Carry on.

110 Iamcuriousblue September 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

Sawrs @ 108

Actually, Shermer is now past the statute of limitations on bringing a lawsuit against PZ. There’s been some valid questions raised as to just what’s happened to the 8K that was raised for the Shermer legal fund, which I think Shermer and the person who’s in charge of the funds should be more forthcoming with. It’s likely that at least some of it has been spent on legal consultation, and probably the rest is being kept in case current allegations against Shermer to turn into a lawsuit. (I think they’re way past the statute of limitations on any criminal rape chargers from Smith.) But they should be forthcoming with that info, and perhaps outline plans to donate the money should it not go to its original purpose.

111 piero September 21, 2014 at 2:56 am

@sawrs:

“Please — careful now — stop misrepresenting … Please think about it… Please withdraw this. Please stop repeating … Please understand… Please take this advice on board. Please understand… Please stop… Careful now.”

I’m sorry, sawrs, but you sound deranged. I shall not engage with you again. Bye.

112 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 3:19 am

@Iamcuriousblue

Ah, yes, you’re right. Cheers, thank you for the correction.

113 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 3:23 am

@IACB at #110

While you are most likely correct RE criminal charges against Shermer for the alleged original incident, a lawsuit by Shermer against, e.g., PZ can have its time-limit updated by any additional comment by PZ. Same goes for anyone else. *cough* Sally Strange *cough* Statutes of limitation for defamation vary quite a bit across the US states, so we’d also have the question of venue, as well. And anyone who follows this sort of thing in our delightful little community knows that choosing a venue and/or claiming that the venue isn’t correct can have a huge effect. *cough* Ben Radford *cough*

Maybe more some other time. Need a Ricola.

114 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 3:32 am

Well, I certainly urge Mr. Shermer to pursue a criminal libel case against somebody, otherwise he may be breaking some law somewheres. I am given to understand from this thread that it’s an actual and real admission of guilt of some kind if one knows that a felony has been committed but fails to report it to the proper authorities. It’s a shame Washington state, where Myers lives, no longer carries such statutes regarding libel, otherwise he would surely be for it.

115 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 3:34 am

Oh, crikey. I’m mistaken again. Minnesota is where Myers lives and, presumably, libels. I hope somebody can inform Shermer of his duty.

116 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 3:36 am

Libel isn’t a felony, pinhead.

117 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 3:45 am

It is in Colorado, sweetcheeks. And in 16 other US states. :)

Seldom used effectively, but I’m sure this grievous crime — of reporting an accusation — constitutes a worthy exception.

118 Blueshift Rhino September 21, 2014 at 3:55 am

My work is done. I got a SJW to go and do some actual research.

119 GMeters September 21, 2014 at 5:36 am

So let me get this straight. PZ helped expose a serial sexual predator in the skeptic community, so that newbies who didn’t hear warnings through the grapevine were in less danger of being victimized. PZ called out a prominent member of the atheist community for insensitive remarks about the sexual abuse of children, so that victims of abuse could be confident that the atheism movement as a whole doesn’t consider their abuse to be no big deal. PZ skewered the national media for non-stop, 24-hour coverage of an entertainer’s death, while police brutality and an authoritarian crackdown went unmentioned.

And you ask if this is how he wants to be remembered? I damn well hope so, it’s a decent record for any decent person. While you, Michael Nugent, will be remembered for tut-tuting about tone and elevating a status quo-enforcing facade of civility over dealing with serial sexual predators attacking members of the atheist/skeptic community.

120 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

Wow, what an amazing attempt at sleight-of-hand. Somehow, your ignorant bravado becomes my error. Nice try there, bro.

121 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 8:04 am

Michael Nugent, per your twitter comments regarding the compulsory reporting of victim to police, do you disagree <a href="https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/512991492424892416"with Richard Dawkins that reporting rape (“forensic details” or no, being “blamed, shunned, & even prosecuted” or no) does not invalidate a victim’s claim? That they remain a victim regardless of their papers, their legal status?

122 Jan Steen September 21, 2014 at 9:21 am

Isn’t it striking that PZ apologist can’t help to be as intellectually dishonest as Christian apologists like William Lane Craig? My theory is that this is because defending the indefensible necessarily requires one to be dishonest.

So here we go again…

GMeters – “PZ helped expose a serial sexual predator in the skeptic community, so that newbies who didn’t hear warnings through the grapevine were in less danger of being victimized.”

PZ gave a platform to a woman who claimed that a prominent author/speaker was a serial rapist, without providing any evidence. Now she says that perhaps it should not have been called rape. All other published allegations against this man are so laughably weak that they sound like desperate attempts to tar his reputation. It would have been called slut shaming if the person had been a woman. In short, PZ exposed nothing but innuendo.

“PZ called out a prominent member of the atheist community for insensitive remarks about the sexual abuse of children, so that victims of abuse could be confident that the atheism movement as a whole doesn’t consider their abuse to be no big deal.”

PZ and his deranged Flock (e.g. the infamous Ogvorbis) engaged in some routine Dawkins bashing based on a deliberate misreading of what he said. It’s a complete falsehood that Dawkins or anybody else in the a/s community considers child abuse in general as “no big deal.”

“PZ skewered the national media for non-stop, 24-hour coverage of an entertainer’s death, while police brutality and an authoritarian crackdown went unmentioned.”

Yeah, those worthless ‘entertainers’. How dare they commit suicide at such an inconvenient moment, merely because they are depressed. Their death is nothing compared to what happens to People of Colour.

I’m afraid you dropped your mask here, GMeters. You show yourself, just like your guru PZ Myers, to be a callous asshole who believes that individual human beings count for nothing. ‘Oppressed minorities’ are the only people who deserve compassion. But even they only exist as abstract groups identified by their attributes, such as the colour of their skin and their gender identity. I believe at heart most SJWs like you are misanthropes through and through. And as dishonest as William Lane Craig.

123 tina September 21, 2014 at 10:54 am

Michael:

I guess you’ve found out how deep the rabbit hole goes in the last 24hrs.

Is it worth letting all this distract you from the extraordinary work you do in the real world?

In their world, it’s like some sort of computer game is running through their heads. They are the super heroes of social justice on a noble quest; weaponizing all the ists and isms and archys against the evil old white cishet shitlordsandladies of the underworld. They weaponize sexism and racism and patriarchy and feminism and ableism to hurl as bolts of power to defeat the evil ones. Hell, they’ve even managed to weaponize your ‘niceness’ against you!

On the way they pick up victim points and beautifully designed ceramic trinkets for going up against and silencing a sceptic. And if the brave warrior is tired or literally shaking and crying rage tears from all the effort, they must return to the Pharyngulate fortress for ‘poncehugs’ or to collect more ‘spoons’ so that their ‘health’ is restored and the quest may continue. And the quest can never end. It must not ever end. If it ends their fantasies will dissolve , their supercharged superhero egos and social justice warrior points will vanish in a puff of reality.

You’ve become a villain in their game now Michael, but with more important things to do, I’m guessing it’s one you may not want to waste too much of your time playing.

124 Submariner September 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I applaud your patience Michael (I probably would have stopped responding to Ophelia and Zvan two blog posts ago) . Four blog posts and still your very clear points are being twisted in a process known as intellectual bullying(1). These folks are not good faith interlocutors, and I dare say it will take four more blog posts and countless more Twitter exchanges before Ms. Benson withdraws her comment (if ever).

Interlocutors who will not even give an inch, Michael. Not one millimeter of admitting they might have been mistaken. This is not good faith. This is the kind of discussion one holds with religious apologists. Despite any and all evidence you show them, they are not moved one scintilla from their position. You have more than enough experience with actual religious apologists to see the similarities yourself.

This intransigence in the face of evidence, along with the other factors mentioned in some of the above comments, this religious-like holding to an idea or set of ideas in the face of contrary evidence is the thing that many on my perceived “side” find most objectionable. It is how people like me, who largely agree with the cause, find the method too objectionable.

1- mitrailleuse(dot)net/2014/09/19/intellectual-bullying/

125 Guestus Aurelius September 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

GMeters wrote:

PZ called out a prominent member of the atheist community for insensitive remarks about the sexual abuse of children, so that victims of abuse could be confident that the atheism movement as a whole doesn’t consider their abuse to be no big deal.

No.

The Friendly Atheist over at Patheos “called out” Dawkins for “insensitive remarks.” Michael Nugent on this very blog “called out” Dawkins for “insensitive remarks.” There was valid criticism there, and Dawkins agreed—he posted a clarification that included an apology for seeming to have spoken on behalf of his schoolmates.

What PZ Myers did was not mere “calling out.” He willfully distorted what Dawkins said, accused him of being an apologist for pedophilia, and compared him to NAMBLA. It was despicable. It’s astounding and depressing that there are people like you out there who think it was an act of heroism.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which everybody behaves this way. Imagine a world in which disagreement or poor wording is met with the least charitable interpretation possible as a matter of course. Nobody gives an inch. The mildest misunderstanding or dissent is grounds for character assassination. A fellow interlocutor’s intent doesn’t matter, and their actual positions certainly don’t. Nobody asks for clarification on a point. Measured criticism doesn’t exist, because everybody chooses the nuclear option every time.

You and your ilk don’t realize it, but that’s the world you’re cheerleading for. You’re standing on the sidelines applauding this odious behavior because it’s coming from people you agree with. If it were coming from others, you’d immediately see it for what it is.

126 GMeters September 21, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Classic projection from Jan Steen. Note how s/he twists disgust with the news media into an attack on Robin Williams, dismisses all the corroborating evidence of Shermer’s predatory behavior, and refuses to pay attention to Dawkins’s own words about what he _and the other boys at his school_ should feel about being molested. But it’s the social justice warriors (not an insult, by the way) who are the dishonest assholes. Nice try with the repeated references to William Lane Craig. Dismissing evidence you don’t like and closing ranks to protect an institution and its leaders from the repercussions of their crimes and misbehaviors, smearing and harassing whistleblowers, certainly parallels the religious community; but the parallel is with your side of the atheist movement.

127 piero September 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

@GMeters:

Have you anything of substance to contribute to the discussion, or was your post just an exceedingly inefficient way of saying “I don’t like you”?

128 Shermertron September 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Sawrs 114

You said: “Well, I certainly urge Mr. Shermer to pursue a criminal libel case against somebody, otherwise he may be breaking some law somewheres. I am given to understand from this thread that it’s an actual and real admission of guilt of some kind if one knows that a felony has been committed but fails to report it to the proper authorities.”

PZ Myers was made aware of multiple felonies in a confession of child rapes made by one of his posters. He has not, to my knowledge, contacted the authorities. Would you urge him to do so?

129 Sili September 21, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Shatterface, 41,

Myers never punches up.

Amusing observation giving the recent upset over his criticisms of Shermer, Harris and Dawkins (and let’s just throw in Dunning, Hitchens and Randi while we’re at it).

It’s good to know that an insignificant associate professor at Podunk Undergraduate Agricultural College wields so much power compared to atheist horsemen of the apocalypse, a former Oxford professor for the public understanding of science and various other worthies.

130 Sawrs September 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm

PZ Myers was made aware of multiple felonies in a confession of child rapes made by one of his posters. He has not, to my knowledge, contacted the authorities. Would you urge him to do so?

If you’re gonna lie, Shermertron, it’s advisable to select a lie that can’t be readily disproved.

But, sure, why not. If that ever happens, I’ll give Myers a stern talking-to. Now, about Shermer himself and his duties to the state…

Michael Nugent,

Careful now and please: are you going to be answering my questions any time soon?

131 CEWUBAACA September 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm

This tit for tat over the Shermer allegations really need to be dealt with properly.

The forum for such matters is a court of law, not mud slinging on the internet.

Either Shermer must sue or a complaint must be made to the police.

Whether or not someone is a rapist is not the sort of thing that petty internet warriors should be using as a cause celebre.

In the absence of a conviction it is our duty as members of civil society to afford Shermer the presumption of innocence.

132 JetLagg September 22, 2014 at 1:06 am

Sawrs, I’m pretty sure you know what Shermertron is referring to. With a little google fu, anyone on this thread can find the screencaps of the confession. If you genuinely don’t know what we’re talking about though, say so. I’ll be happy to direct you to the source. Then you can give Myers your stern talking to.

133 Sawrs September 22, 2014 at 2:17 am

@JetLagg

Of course I know what Shermertron is referring to. It’s a drum that’s been beat to the point of extinction, and to a decidedly jaunty little tune that’s rather at odds with the character of anecdote itself. Shermertron has mischaracterized what was reported to Pharyngula commenters. “Child rape” is an intentional misnomer. Review of any accurate screencapture will prove as such.

Anything else?

Michael Nugent,

Can you please answer my questions? Thank you and careful now.

134 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 4:50 am

@James Gavin
Do you consider directing someone to appropriate sources of help to be the same as ‘trying to keep sexual harrassment secret’?
That statement needs you to ignore the facts of the case yes. Assume Alison’s story is 100% true (assume only) – There is still no court that can convict Shermer – And the state would probably not pursue the case. Therefore helpfully directing someone to the cops in this case is the functional equivalent of doing nothing or believing Shermer. In addition you have to ignore the treatment of women , by cops, who report such incidents (especially when they have drunk some).
Its especially important when you consider what publicizing the accusation might achieve v/s what keeping quiet does – and you can consider it with both alternatives (Shermer is guilty , Shermer is innocent and see where it gets you).

@anon
Literally – yes ofcourse there are more than two more alternatives – In terms of what they work out to , there is just two. You are free to propose a third – i have already explained why I believe that a why dont you go to the cops in this case is one of the two alternatives do it might seem to you that its a “third” way – it isnt.
And you can fling insults while signing your name as “anon” – I hope it makes you feel brave.

135 JetLagg September 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Sawrs,

The commenter in question himself called it child rape.

He said, “but I didn’t stop before raping three young girls”

Am I to understand you think calling the act of raping three young girls child rape is an “intentional misnomer”?

136 piero September 22, 2014 at 3:36 pm

@sawrs:
“Michael Nugent,
Can you please answer my questions? Thank you and careful now.”

Can you please answer why you protect Ogvorbis, a child rapist? Until you do so, nobody is taking you seriously.

I’ll ask louder, just in case you are hard of hearing:

CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER WHY YOU PROTECT OGVORBIS, A CHILD RAPIST?

137 piero September 22, 2014 at 3:36 pm

@sars:

Sorry, I forgot:

CAREFUL NOW

138 Sawrs September 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Sorry boys, but sometimes (this is one of those times) I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion ending sexual assault and harassment. I’m gonna need to see the DR numbers and names and locations of each department you notified when you first reported this “child rape” you read about on Pharyngula. Please and careful now not to be hypocrites about this. You are committing a felony just by sitting here and not reporting Zivkovic, Shermer, and Radford. Also, Myers, because didn’t call the police on Shermer when we learned that Shermer was being accused of rape.

Time’s a’wasting, fellas. Gimme those digits, please.

139 piero September 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

@ Everyone:

I politely suggest we ignore Sawrs. He is entering psychopathological terrain, and I don’t want to be held responsible for his/her breakdown.

140 JetLagg September 22, 2014 at 11:03 pm

You didn’t answer the question. Someone says they raped three young girls. Someone else refers to that as child rape. Should we understand that you believe this to be an intentional misnomer? I try to be charitable, but if that is your position, and if you’re at all representative of the commenters over at Myers, I can see why some might write the community off as being whackadoo.

And for the curiosity of anyone reading along, the idea of alerting the authorities was discussed. There is the problem that nobody knows who he is.

141 Sawrs September 23, 2014 at 7:25 am

There is the problem that nobody knows who he is.

Bingo. So I’m sure you’ll agree — in the journey towards eliminating harassers, abusers, and rapists from our midst — that when we actually can identify the criminal, when the victim tells us who the criminal is, what happened, where, and when, it’s good form to tell other people about them, to warn our friends. It’s not a crime to admit that one is a victim. It’s not a crime, yet, to report what our friends have told us. It’s especially not a crime when the named criminal has had the opportunity and means to sue us for libel, but — like MAGIC! — they don’t. They can’t. They won’t.

142 Sawrs September 23, 2014 at 8:56 am

“Child rape” is doubly a misnomer, yes. Children can’t consent to sex; they cannot rape. Holding the Pharyngula commenter responsible for their own rape seems unreasonable to me. Likewise, their following the dictatorial orders — participating in the rape and abuse of other children — of the adult members of a pedophile’s ring. YMMV; I couldn’t give a toss one way or the other. “Child rape” is weaselly, implies that an adult confessed to raping children, rather than an adult revealing that as a child he was abused and compelled to abuse.

Anyway. If I’m “guilty of harboring” that commenter, then so are all of you. If you can’t report them — again with this lie that one is morally or legally obligated to report to police — because you don’t know their name, neither can I. Nor do I have any wish to.

Finally, if I’m barmy for my choice of phrase, so is Michael Nugent. I’m simply parroting some of his tweets, where he urges caution and secrecy and childish adherence to “civility” over transparency and truth and a more adult-like justice.

143 Pogsurf September 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

Children can’t consent to sex; they cannot rape.

The ‘they cannot rape’ part is not true. Here’s a newspaper article about a 10 and an 11 year old being convicted of attempted rape in the UK:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7759958/Two-boys-become-youngest-convicted-of-attempted-rape.html

I cannot speak for other jurisdictions, but global statements of this kind based on ignorance don’t help the discourse.

144 JetLagg September 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I know it’s difficult to keep track of who said what, given that you’re getting piled on (and not for poor reason, I’d say), but note that I never said you were guilty of harboring a child rapist.

Regarding your idea that a child (presumably you mean minor) is incapable of rape, you’re incorrect both according to the law and according to most people’s moral sensibilities. You’re entitled to your own opinion, of course, just as the rest of the world is entitled to think it’s a batshit insane one.

145 HH September 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I remember telling a friend of mine many years ago that Micheal was making a serious mistake by aligning himself with the completely irrational AtheismPlussers of FreeThoughtBlogs. It was only a matter of time before he took issue with some of their excess or made some utterly beneign comment that was twistable into something sexist/racist/whaterist. He would then become a target. I think we may be seeing this happening.

Benson’s response is absolutely, perfectly, unswervingly typical of her. Some people need to be the target of this kind of garbage attack before they can see it being deployed against others. Take a look at Benson’s blogging history and you might see with new eyes what kind of person you are dealing with. Do not expect reason or fairness.

I stopped paying attention to PZ years ago. I am a little surprised anyone still reads what that rather viscious little hatemonger has to say. His addiction to outrage and condemnation overtook him years ago.

146 piero September 23, 2014 at 8:26 pm

@sawrs:

“Child rape” is weaselly, implies that an adult confessed to raping children, rather than an adult revealing that as a child he was abused and compelled to abuse.

He was compelled to abuse once. After that, he raped three girls by his own admission. Again, as usual, you know this and pretend you don’t. Of course, a good case could be made that his subsequent behaviour is rooted in the abuse he was a victim of; but understanding the causes of his behaviour cannot blind us to the plight of his victims, actual and potential. You seem to spend a lot of time accusing Dawkins and everybody else, it seems, of rape apology, yet do not show the same interest in neutralising the threat of a self-confessed rapist.

If I’m “guilty of harboring” that commenter, then so are all of you.

Am I as responsible as you are for not taking appropriate action concerning Ogvorbis? Of course not. For a start, I’m banned from Pharyngula, and Ophelia Benson filters my comments, so there is little chance I might find out more about him. FTB regulars, or at least some of them, seem to be in good terms with Ogvorbis, and presumably he trusts them. So no, don’t blame me for your responsibilities. After all, he came out as a rapist in FTB, and it’s FTB regulars who keep hurling irresponsible and double-faced “rape apologist” accusations.

Nor do I have any wish to.

That figures.

147 Sawrs September 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

@JettLagg,

No one is “piling on” me, and I’m not concerned about your feelings or opinions. Calm down.

@piero

You seem to spend a lot of time accusing Dawkins and everybody else, it seems, of rape apology, yet do not show the same interest in neutralising the threat of a self-confessed rapist.

Where have I done that, dear?
How am I to “neutralize” threats of unnamed people on the internet? Please explain. Being banned from commenting at a forum you’ve been trolling does not preclude reading the forum. If you’re suggesting that I try to befriend the commenter on a false pretense in order to learn identifying information about them: you have all the same opportunities to do so. Again, where’s your reports? When did you file them? What efforts did you make to identify your maligned “child rapist”?

More disingenuous hypocrisy from people who are far too interested in poorly-reasoned tu quoques rather than protecting fellow skeptics from abuse and harassment. Par for the course, really, but pitiful.

148 Sawrs September 23, 2014 at 11:19 pm

It’s brass tacks time, boys: you are Very Concerned about a confessed “child rapist.” You are Very Concerned that Michael Shermer’s victim has not reported her rape to the police. You have my permission to investigate and report both.. Your valiant interest in serving the needs of their victims is totally not lip service, not at all an attempt to distract attention away from rapists raping in the here and now.

Fine. Enjoy yourselves.

I’m interested in letting everyone else, outside of the police, know that Michael Shermer has been accused of rape, and thereby allowing people who want to do so to steer clear of him. Presumably and because we’re all one big happy family interested in clearing house and removing abusers and harassers from our midst, you support me.

Happy now? Or are you going to twist yourselves into new and exciting shapes into an attempt to protect Shermer and his sycophants and likeminded Big Name rapists and abusers at all costs?

149 Tigzy September 24, 2014 at 12:22 am

Sawrs

While you’re at it, could you let everyone else know that both PZ Myers and his fellow FreethoughtBlogger Jason Thibeault have been accused of rape too, and thereby allow people who want to do so to steer clear of them as well.

Presumably and because we’re all one big happy family interested in clearing house and removing abusers and harassers from our midst, I’ll support you doing that as well.

150 JetLagg September 24, 2014 at 12:34 am

@Sawrs

“No one is “piling on” me”

They are. You just don’t seem to realize it.

“I’m not concerned about your feelings or opinions. Calm down.”

Oh, sunshine, you’re breaking my heart :p

Sarcasm aside, what on earth made you think I thought you cared about my feelings or opinions?

151 JetLagg September 24, 2014 at 12:38 am

And I’ll note you moved the goalposts. Are we to understand that you think calling raping children “child rape” is an intentional misnomer, given that minors are incapable or raping anything?

152 piero September 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm

@sawrs:

Being banned from commenting at a forum you’ve been trolling does not preclude reading the forum.

I was not trolling. I expressed an opinion and was ipso facto called a racist and a shitstain. The usual stuff. Just like what you have just done: presuming I was trolling. Thank you for making my point.

Also, you are presuming a host of other things. Do you know where I live, for instance? No, you don’t. For all you know, I could be posting from Siberia. You are also presuming I’ve known about Ogvorbis for a long time.

If you’re suggesting that I try to befriend the commenter on a false pretense in order to learn identifying information about them

No, that’s not what I’m suggesting. You could, for instance, publish a comment in PZ’s blog to the effect that the Ogvorbis affair should be dealt with in a reasonable way, and not as if he was the sole victim or as if there was no chance of him raping again.

More disingenuous hypocrisy from people who are far too interested in poorly-reasoned tu quoques rather than protecting fellow skeptics from abuse and harassment

Unmasking hipocrisy is not tu quoque. Nobody is saying that because you fail our failures don’t count. What is being said is that the FTB crowd have come to think of themselves as something more than human, and believe they are entitled to call anyone to task over trifles, misinterpretations and outright fabrications; none of the issues we are discussing would have been issues at all if it wasn’t for the fake outrage of the zealots. Showing that zealots cannot live up to their own expectations is a public service for those who might be tempted to join the flock.

153 piero September 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm

@sawrs:

I’m interested in letting everyone else, outside of the police, know that Michael Shermer has been accused of rape, and thereby allowing people who want to do so to steer clear of him. Presumably and because we’re all one big happy family interested in clearing house and removing abusers and harassers from our midst, you support me.

As Tigzy said, be sure to add PZ Myers and Jason Thibeault to the list. We cannot ever be a happy family if we don’t agree that the rules bind everyone, including the high priests.

Also, I’ll remind you that, as far as I can tell by reading the comments, no-one has the slightest interest in defending Shermer. The accusations against him may well turn out to be well-founded. In fact, Ophelia in a recent post has mentioned new evidence, and it is possible that sufficient evidence will be gathered to lend more credibility to the hypothesis of rape. What we are discussing is whether it was a good thing that Myers published the accusations in his blog with the evidence available to him at the time. That evidence has repeatedly been shown to be insufficient; hence, what PZ did was pretty close to slander, and that’s not a good thing, especially within a community that is supposed to be rational and sceptical.

154 Angela October 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Alas… Atheism is a not condom against ignorance. We are all wonderfully – or cruelly, human. I’ve said it before – I will say it again, we assign entirely too much to the word “atheist. ”

Expectation is the root of all unhappiness, or so I’ve been told.

Being a person with intimate knowledge of the subject at hand – rape, it’s nearly like watching men decide rights for women. Or whites decide the rights of blacks, or how bad slavery really was…

It’s insulting to see rape or abuse being used this way – to harm one another… Hasn’t enough harm been done? My stomach actually rolled while reading the many comments – I’m sure I’m not alone. You aren’t helping rape victims or etc- you’re harming. You’re using emotions on the subject to harm each other. Continue your debate and false victim-hood and facade of offense…

It’s just another reason for you to debate and cut each other down and feign the moral high-ground.

Shame on you all.

155 JetLagg October 4, 2014 at 2:05 am

@Angela

You seem to be presuming you know the background of everyone participating in this thread. If that’s the case, I’d like to persuade you to understand this is not a good idea.

For example, I’ve been raped. I was also sexually assaulted as a child. Given the statistics I’ve seen, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover at least one of the other male commenters here has experienced something similar to me.

Comments like yours do give me the impression that some are saying only those with personal experience in the matter should be allowed to weigh in on a subject. I find that insulting on two levels. First, there’s no reason a person without direct experience can’t provide insights (with the caveat that they should be more gentle and cautious, given that they don’t have personal experience). Second, it strikes me as f**ked up that I should have to essentially earn my right to voice my opinion by having had something bad happen to me.

But really, the fact I’m insulted shouldn’t even matter. We’re skeptics, and that means we should do our best to give a honest examination of any argument, no matter how repellent we might find it. If we happen to have anecdotal evidence to add to the conversation, sure, let’s add it, but anecdotal evidence (while of value) doesn’t trump all other considerations.

156 Kevin Solway October 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Twitter is for birds.

There’s much to be said for the Buddhist view that a person can be reborn as an animal. Twitter is proof of it.

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